Breaking Tradition

Laddie_Head SquareFor most of my adult life, I have gotten a stomachache starting in mid-December. It doesn’t go away until late afternoon on Christmas Day. It’s obviously related to stress although it feels somewhat reminiscent of the nausea and fatigue that accompany low blood sugar.

Many years ago the stress was probably warranted during the holidays. Lots of shopping, planning, entertaining. More shopping and trying to think of gifts for people who don’t need anything. #FirstWorldProblem. Searching every Target in the Minneapolis area for the one He-ManChristmas Tree action figure which sold out in early November. Making grocery lists and checking them twice. Decorating and cleaning house. And so on….

I am the first to admit that at this stage in life, it is unreasonable that I am close-to-puking stressed in December. We no longer exchange gifts with the adults in our family. No sweaters, no dice games, no puzzles, no tacky glass figurines. The grandchildren are fun to shop for although I am not allowed to buy American Girl dolls or video games. The meals are still big, but much simplified compared to 20 years ago. I don’t make cookies and one daughter-in-law handles that.

Unfortunately my stress is a “Pavlov’s dog” reaction to December. It is no longer based on reality but still shows up every year. It is definitely my problem and not the fault of others placing too many demands on me.

I spent much of this December b*tching to friends about how I have to cook prime rib on Christmas Eve and don’t even like it. I grew up in a family where Christmas Eve meant vegetable soup and opening one gift. The big festivities were on Christmas Day. My husband is the grandchild of Scandinavian immigrants and Christmas Eve in his family meant roast beef, lutefisk, boiled potatotes, sylta, potato sausage, pickled herring, rolls, lefse, the Minnesota addition of jello salad, and about twenty kinds of cookies. Christmas Day was another huge meal with turkey and trimmings.

Last weekend one daughter-in-law reminded me that last year I swore that I was going to serve pizza on Christmas Eve! I laughed and said that was a pipe dream. Over the next few hours I began to think “Why Not?” and sent an email to the eight involved adults. The four grandchildren technically had a say and of course chose pizza. One of my sons expressed a desire to have roast beef and my husband wisely kept quiet.

But the decision was PIZZA!


I’ll make a salad ahead of time for the adults and the kids will eat veggies and strawberries. We’ll bake pizzas from Papa Murphy’s. After that we will open gifts and have cookies and coffee. I am looking forward to this and my stomach ache is easing up a bit.

I haven’t completely thrown tradition out the window. We will use the Christmas tree plates and sit at the dining room table. We will open Christmas poppers which contain jokes, tiny toys, and paper crowns. We will wash the dishes before gift opening. Most of the day and evening will remain unchanged.

But I wonder how many years it will be before we use paper plates….

Happy Holidays to all of my friends and readers. See you in 2016!


A Twofer

Laddie_Head SquareToday’s post is a twofer. Two topics for the price of one. Short and sweet so we can concentrate on more fun activities during this week of Christmas.

Diabetes complications come in many forms. Some problems are serious and even life-threatening. Some are minor but annoying. Today I am looking for sympathy for a crack in my thumb that is sore and resistant to healing. The cold weather in Minnesota and the lack of humidity in Arizona make me vulnerable to skin cracks like this especially since I have horrible fingernails that do not protect my fingertips.

And why am I calling this a complication of diabetes? Am I usually slow to heal? No. Do I have neuropathy in my hands? No. Is my circulation impaired from diabetes? No. Is my Hand Roundskin dry because of erratic blood sugars? Not really. This stupid crack is related to diabetes because I keep using this thumb to squeeze drops of blood from my cold Minnesota fingers which tend to be stingy in the cold weather.

I put bandaids and Aquaphor on the thumb and it starts to improve. And then boom! I forget about the almost-healed crack and squeeze a frigid finger on my left hand. If I didn’t have to test my BG, this thumb would be perfectly fine. Darn you, diabetes!

My current solution as seen in the photo is a trimmed gel toe protector. (These little stretchy gizmos are great for hiking and help minimize injuries to vulnerable toes from long hikes on rocky trails with lots of ups and downs.) It has more cushioning than a bandaid and stays on well. Plus you can take it off to wash your hands. Since I just thought of this today, we’ll see how it works:-)

The second topic of this post is to wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or just a good day depending on your beliefs and traditions. I am looking forward to a visit from my New York son and his family and to spending time with my Minnesota son and his family. On Christmas Eve we will celebrate with four grandchildren aged six and under and life will be busy and chaotic. I can’t wait!

As you celebrate (or try to survive) this holiday season, may your blood sugars be stable and your days filled with joy!Happy Holidays 2014

A New Christmas Tradition

Sue May 2013_Head SquareMy daughter has instituted a new tradition for our family gift giving at Christmas. Who knows, maybe it will carry over to birthdays, anniversaries and other times of gift giving. I hope it does. It all started when I got an email at work this week from the county Office of the Aging, announcing that we could pick up an ornament from the tree in the lobby with an anonymous senior’s Christmas wish list. These seniors selected might not otherwise get anything for Christmas. I forwarded the email to my son and daughter. Both replied that they wanted me to pick them up an ornament. My daughter then announced that in lieu of a gift to them, she and her husband would like to have me donate to a charity in their name and put a note under their tree with the details of the donation. She said that would mean more to her than material goods because she has already been blessed in so many ways, and she would like to bless others not so fortunate. I replied that it was a great idea, and I would like to be included. I then asked my husband and son what they thought, and they agreed.

We all know examples of others who have given selflessly to those less fortunate. One example that comes to mind is Sue from Pennsylvania. When she was employed at a law firm, every year the employees would get a wish list of things from a charity spiral with words_4organization that an anonymous less fortunate family would enjoy for Christmas. The employees would purchase all the items and give them to the charity, which would give the gifts to the family. One time Sue and another employee purchased a new bike and helmet for one of the children. What a blessed Christmas that child surely had. As Sue says,”Paying it forward is not only a great thing to do for ourselves, but what a great lesson to give to our children about the beauty of giving to others who are so less fortunate than ourselves.” Well said, my friend.

My daughter told me that our local food pantry is almost empty. She was told that one family couldn’t get to the pantry because their car broke down so they went hungry. She went to the grocery and bought food and brought it to the pantry. I plan to do the same this week. There are a lot of people who are going hungry in this economy. With the holidays approaching and the schools closed, there will be children going without food at home who would normally get their free breakfast and lunch at school.

What is your new Christmas tradition?