Potluck Day 2015

Our annual holiday potluck at work was on Tuesday, and it was incredible, as usual. I look forward to the potluck all year, but unfortunately this particular incarnation fell on a very busy day. I had an important meeting at 1:30 PM that afternoon so I had to dress up for work. At 5 AM I rolled out of bed, threw on a dress and cardigan (and my favorite Christmas pin), and dragged all of the necessary items for the potluck to work. I needed to get there by 6 AM to start the Crockpot hot chocolate so that it would be ready for breakfast. My first batch, at least. I used the same recipe as last year because so many people loved it. Until breakfast started I prepared for my afternoon meeting, stirring the hot chocolate every 30 minutes. Do you really need to ask what I had for breakfast at the potluck? Scones, of course! I anticipate those little slices of heaven all year, and they never disappoint. This year was no different. I limited myself to two scones that morning because I wanted to have an appetite at lunchtime, but I hoarded quite a few others for future consumption (dessert, snacks, and breakfast the next day). By 9:30 AM it was obvious that I needed to start a second batch of hot chocolate. Some of my co-workers are serious hot chocolate vultures! Luckily I anticipated this and brought enough ingredients to make another batch that would be ready for lunch.

Lunch started at 11:30 AM. Unfortunately I had to grab a plate of food and eat it at my desk because I was still scrambling to get ready for my meeting. While poring over my charts I feasted on a delicious combination of chicken salad, meatballs, and manicotti. My co-workers are amazing cooks. I made a batch of chili to share, and this time I combined last year’s bacon chili recipe and this year’s Cincinnati style chili recipe. I didn’t get to taste it myself, but it sure smelled good when it was cooking. I got some good feedback too, but one person told me he liked the regular bacon chili better. I’ll remember that for the chili cook-off next year. My afternoon meeting was really difficult because I was sleepy after stuffing myself silly all day. And being the last presenter at the end of 2.5 hours wasn’t ideal either, but I got through it and everyone seemed happy at the conclusion. Personally, I was thrilled to go home after 11 hours at work and put on some comfortable clothes! I didn’t get to relax too much, though, because I was meeting a friend at the movies that night. For the last two years I’ve been going to Rifftrax’s Christmas show by myself so I was excited when my friend expressed interest in joining me this year. And we had so much fun. This year’s movie was “Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny” which practically asks to be made fun of. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. Rifftrax has definitely become one of my holiday traditions. So after the potluck, the meeting, and the movie I had a very long Tuesday, but it was worth it. I love the holidays!

Love Actually

It’s no secret that I love Christmas movies. While putting up my Christmas tree (and all of the rest of my holiday decorations – more on that another time) after Thanksgiving I watched “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Meet Me in St. Louis” (a movie for all seasons, but works for Christmas), and “White Christmas.” All excellent choices. Along with all of the old classics, there’s a slightly more contemporary movie that everyone seems to love this time of year – “Love Actually.” It shows up on my list of recommended movies every time I open up Netflix to binge watch old episodes of “Once Upon A Time,” “X-Files,” or “Call the Midwife.” (Eclectic, right? I’m nothing if not multi-faceted!) “Love Actually” used to be one of my favorites too, but due to certain parallels with my own life I just can’t watch it any more. Back in 2010 my ex-husband had an affair. Back then I alluded to difficult times in my webpage posts, but I never said anything concrete about it to avoid completely publicizing my personal struggles. Even now I won’t go into details because it wouldn’t be constructive, but it was an event that changed me forever. More than five years have passed since then, but I still can’t handle the cheating storyline in “Love Actually.” Watching Emma Thompson cry silently to the tune of “Both Sides Now” makes my heart ache like it did back in 2010 when I was hurting more than I ever though possible. Even as the memories are getting dimmer with time, I still don’t like reliving those miserable days. So for the sake of my own sanity I stick to happier holiday fare like “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Muppet’s Christmas Carol,” and “A Christmas Story.” Revisiting the past usually isn’t beneficial, but sometimes it helps to look back and see how far I’ve come since that dark time. These days life is good, and this year Christmas is going to be amazing!

“I have to consider how to best make myself happy and also give myself the best chance of a positive outcome in the future. So bear with me because one way or another my life is going to completely change in 2010. It’s hard to imagine now, but the thought of laughing and smiling sincerely is what’s keeping me going. I have to believe that something better is waiting for me out there. What it is I have no idea, but just knowing about it existence is comforting. I know I’ll get there eventually and that’s a good thought.”
05/01/10 webpage post

Early November

I went to the grocery store after a long day at work yesterday and discovered that all of the Halloween merchandise had already been replaced with Christmas items. Halloween was only two days before! This seemed strange, somehow. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is my favorite holiday, but I wasn’t expecting it to arrive quite so soon! Funny enough, I was telling a friend on Sunday how happy I was that Halloween was over. I’d had two weekends of celebration, with the chili cook-off in between, and I was a little burned out. I didn’t even go trick or treating with my friends and their kids because I was exhausted on Saturday night. I hate feeling like I’m wishing away any fall holiday because I love everything about this time of year, but I was ready to move on. (The saddest part is that I never got around to putting out my Halloween decorations this year! Every weekend in October had been packed with activities so my poor ceramic pumpkins are still packed up in the closet with the rest of my holiday paraphernalia. I will make sure to pull them out of storage as soon as I get back from Orlando next week. Pumpkins still work for Thanksgiving, right? I’ll create a new crossover holiday, Hallo-giving, just to emphasize my laziness.) But when I was in the grocery store last night I just wasn’t quite ready to be bombarded by Christmas quite yet. I left without a second glance at the shelves of red and green M&Ms and themed Tupperware. Fast forward 24 hours and the first thing I saw when I walked into CVS was an aisle of Christmas cards. Much to my surprise I seemed to have completely gotten over my humbug attitude from the previous day because I couldn’t stop myself from buying some Snoopy Christmas stickers! So adorable. Bring on Thanksgiving and Christmas! I’m ready!