Allergic to Cats? Allergic to Dogs? Or Allergic to In-Laws? We Will Never Know For Sure

By: Catherine Anne Brown Last Updated: January 8, 2010

(Diary of The Brown Family Holiday Happenings)

January 1, 2010............. (author lets out a gargantuan sigh of relief).......
I start this blog talking about my family and I end this blog talking about my family.....exactly the way I started out 2009 and ended 2009.

So.....I begin.

December 23rd, 9 at night, or is it 11?
I am sitting here thinking about the million things that I still have to do before the big day. (Christmas, that is.)..and then I’m browsing Facebook and I see a friend of mine post something about not having her teenage daughter with her anymore. at all. ever. And CRASH!....It hits me hard, almost knocks me off my comfy little warm couch where I was thinking, “Do I have enough “things” for all of them? Do I have the equal number of “things” for each kid? When am I going to wrap them? When will I clean my house? Should I mop? Do I have the shrimp? ....and everything was swirling frantically in my head until that Facebook post. It changed my entire holiday. It occurs to me that I personally know people, my age, right now, dreading Christmas because they are no longer with their loved ones. This suddenly takes precedence in my head, as it should, and I begin to get off task again and I am totally distracted. (Part of my Perpetual Procrastination Disorder)

Which leads me to my next point! Does anyone else think that Christmas has become a bottomless pit of greed? The stores, the ads, the deals....for 2-3 months? Most of you know by now that my husband I decided to open a restaurant 2 weeks before Christmas, and that we have made many jokes as to why we didn’t get our “Christmas Stuff” done. After Halloween, people started talking about it already, so... slowly, I started to feel like a total slacker. It just accumulated every day for 2 months, until people started talking about it so much, it started to replay in my brain over and over.... “Are you done shopping yet? What did you get”, and listening to people talk about their holiday preparations for months? I just wanted to NOT do it, so I kept putting it off, which really got me thinking..

When did this happen? Did our parents go through this, did they check ads “for stuff” for a month? I don’t think so. I feel sometimes that kids open so many presents at Christmas, that they might actually look at them later and not remember who gave what to them. This saddens me. I felt completely spoiled when I was a kid, but I wasn’t. There were 5 of us, and we received about 5 presents each on Christmas. I remember each one; the boom box, the high-waisted Guess Jeans, the Forenza Sweater, the Discman, The Walkman, the new socks, the curling iron, the White Shoulders perfume ...the list goes on. My point is, every single gift that I received was special, special because my mom picked it out, or my dad....(a slight advantage as he went straight to the mall and explained our size and age to a saleslady, who always sold him the most expensive jeans)...which, by the way I am still perplexed by... (Why do men have such a a hard time putting forth any effort finding sales, but they are usually the first to make a fuss about the money being spent? Just sayin...)....Anyway, I don’t mean to get distracted. My parents were cool, and I enjoyed the fact that they went out and bought me things because they wanted to share in the meaning of Christmas, so, for me, that was a plus. None of us kids EVER felt entitled, and I feel like some kids in this generation do. Period. I said it. Outloud. On Valpo Life. And I’m talking about my kids as well. I never felt entitled, I was just grateful. I’m usually always grateful, that is, until society and mass commercialism actually get into my head and stress me out about buying stuff. And wanting me to pay $69.50 for it? That was the cost of a VERY THIN flannel shirt at Abercrombie. Really? $70.00 for a flannel shirt that was a 1/3 of the material of the flannel shirt I had in high school, and my shirt back then cost no more than $15.00. I don’t really believe that the cost of materials has increased that much. I walked out of that store thinking “I will just go find my flannel shirt from high school, cut it 6 inches shorter, taper it at the waist, take out the top 2 buttons, and thin it out until it is see-through, THEN, I will wrap it up and give it to my daughters! Maybe the increase in cost IS actually due to the effort it takes to “minimize” clothes, instead of make them the way they were designed to be. Who knows? In any sense, this is why I don’t like to shop. Ever. I want to buy my kids gifts, because they have done everything that was expected of them, not because the advertisements told me I had only one more day to. I believe in the magic of Christmas, I loved it as a child, and I still do. Which brings me to the next day...The day after Christmas.

December. 26th, 2009
The day after Christmas, we take our tree down, and heave it out our front door.....and sometimes I feel as if the neighbors are whispering about us, like we are scrooges or something. To which I say. Christmas is over. Right? Now, lets start planning the New Year’s Eve Party, because no matter what kind of year you had, if you made it to the last day of 2009, you should celebrate. And the possibility of a whole new year brings a lot of trepidation, and excitement. Obviously, 2009 was a big doozy for a lot of people, but, in my opinion, if you persevered and survived, then it was a success.

December 30th, 2009
I happen to think that I have one of the coolest families ever. Now, I know, a lot of you are saying the same thing about your family, but seriously, mine is great. I wrote on my facebook the other day about one of the greatest days I had all year. Last week, my sister was in town from sunny (and cold..HAHA) Florida. She wanted to make her Turkey Noodle Soup for The Shoppe, and I wanted company.. (although she showed up 15 minutes before opening to make the soup ..my husband tells her she is fired, only for her to remind him that he can’t fire her, she bought the ingredients, made the soup, and worked for FREE???), anyway...it all worked out, the soup was awesome and ready 45 minutes late but exactly when we got our first order for it:) Then, my brother and I got to make homemade pretzel rolls together for the first time. We had a busy lunch, and my husband and I rocked the sandwich grill together. Then, my other sister came down for lunch, and finally, my dad came in for 2 scoops of Chocolate Almond Ice Cream with chocolate syrup. Right then, that day, I actually took a second to TRULY appreciate being in that moment....That is , until we started to plan our family NYE party.....

December 31, 2009
My audacious, fearless dad volunteers to take all 11 of his grandkids to a hotel all night, so all of us adults can have a party, play games, and act like adults, or kids (depending on whom you ask). Now, you might think because I live next door to my family, work with my family, spend every weekend with my family, that maybe, just maybe, I might want to celebrate NYE with just my husband, alone. Well, you are wrong. We all actually got together and played games, listened to music, and paused every half hour for what I called “a dance time-out”. And not just dancing....dancing to all tunes from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Dancing was fun. And better than any therapy that money can buy. Then quickly, it happened! Another year was ending. In this fleeting moment. I had five things swirling in my mind.

  1. Why isn’t “Auld Lang Syne” playing?
  2. Thank God my kids are all safe with their Grandpa.
  3. I wish Scot was here celebrating with us.
  4. I am so grateful for all of my family/friends in this room. (To which I start singing (and dancing to) an old Jesus Jones song..”Right here. right now, there is no other place I’d rather be...”
  5. And where is my husband? So we can ring in the New Years together? Don’t worry, he found me, kissed me, and we cross the threshold of 2010 together ..and in the blink of an eye, a new day and a new year begin! (our 23rd year together).

Jan. 1, 2010
12 hours later, my crazy family decides to get together at my sisters for a Turkey Dinner and more games. Our kids all get along so well, so everyone is happy, except my husband does manage to sneak out very early (blaming his cat allergy.)

Jan. 2, 2010
My sister calls and suggests we get together for a night of pizza and games?? Again. Are we crazy? Obviously not, because we all went, ....that is, except my husband, who now claims “The dogs might really bother his allergies...hmmm?” Was it cat allergies? Or dog allergies? Or In-Law allergies? Then I thought to myself, maybe spending everyday of your Christmas Break with your family just isn’t for everyone...so I cut him some slack.

Jan 3, 2010
I sleep in til 10:44, and so do my kids, (not my husband, however, who evaded the last 2 functions, mind you)..and do you know what the first words were out of their mouths? .....”Can we hang out with our cousins again because we miss them and have to go to school tomorrow and won’t see them for a week”? Really?

Which finally leads me back to the very beginning of my blog, when I was sitting in my living room, wondering if I had enough presents for my kids, or if I spent enough money on them. Shame on me! (I say to myself).... We got to spend Christmas together, and so many other people did not get to spend Christmas, or the 5 days after Christmas, with their loved ones.

Just being with my family will always be enough for me. (as long as I have my new Bose speakers, of course). And I’m 100 % sure that if my kids had nothing under the tree but their cousins, parents, grandparents, and pets, they would have been just as happy. Or happier!

This realization has changed my thinking forever. I will never again wonder if I am giving my kids enough “things”. Family is what’s most valuable to them, and to me as well. As a parent, finally seeing your kids come to this realization brings immense gratitude.

And so, I leave you with the same thought that my kids woke up to in the New Year.