Monthly Archives: December 2012

Only Child deals with a mixed Christmas

Only Child likes the Christmas tradition of gift giving

Only Child likes  gift giving

It’s going to take extra effort to get through this Christmas because I’m feeling the pain of being what I refer to as an “only person” (no partner, etc.). I think the pain here is coming from real physical pain and having to deal with it alone. It’s been a bad year for me with health issues but lately something more has been brewing and one of these physical pains can partly be blamed on having no partner and no car, i.e., having to cart heavy bags of groceries in several trips – now my right shoulder hurts. That should go away if I take it easy. I may be able to carry my purse on my left shoulder and refrain from buying heavy groceries until the weekend. But if we get all this snow that’s forecast for Boxing Day, it will create problems and more aloneness.

I have no one near here to shovel snow for me (and this winter, so far, I can afford to pay someone a reasonable fee to do so). So guess who will have to be out there shovelling snow – probably two sessions in the next couple of days? Not Santa Claus or any of his helpers.

The other situation is that my son and I were planning to meet for dinner on Boxing Day in downtown Toronto (somewhat a central location for both of us). Today he has a gaggle of friends from overseas staying with him and he is cooking Christmas dinner there. His girlfriend is off visiting her sister out of country because of a family issue there. With this snow coming, my son’s and my Boxing Day dinner might be postponed. Although I don’t mind having to postpone if necessary, I do mind now because for Christ’s sake it is Christmas (pun intended). I’m spending today, Christmas alone and the odd Christmas this happens it doesn’t bother me. But then I don’t have all these pains every Christmas (the other one in my foot I’m suspecting is fibromyalgia, at least from the symptoms and connections to another disease I have). Reading about that online is enough to make you depressed. Oh, that is a symptom of possible fibromyalgia.

So, to get over the hump of this season’s next few days, I will call my friends and my son – perhaps we can have the “snow” option of rescheduling Boxing Day dinner. I will also email friends and family from out of town, be grateful for the gifts I have received, prepare my traditional Christmas dinner (the first one – the second family one comes in January when Martin and Alison will be here for a belated Christmas dinner), savour it and the wine and eggnog – try not to overdue eating chocolate and ice cream, listen to Christmas music, read the current mystery novel on my Kobo, and remember Christmases past with my late parents when I was growing up. I’ll leave you with this remembrance of my childhood Christmas.

Christmas Day began with breakfast and tearing into the stockings hung on the mantle. Then it was the obligatory Christmas Mass at Church (a tradition I no longer follow as the only thing that moves me there is the music and I can get that on my stereo). Once back home we dived into the presents and I think it was the sharing that I liked best. When we stayed home for Christmas dinner Mom liked to try roasting a different type of bird each year – sometimes a greasy goose, sometimes a duck, sometimes a chicken, and sometimes a turkey. Some years she had to cook the goose another day because we were off to my aunt and uncle’s on dad’s side of the family for Christmas dinner. We travelled by public transit (no car) and when we got there I’d hang out with my three cousins.  I don’t remember the dinners, but remember this as I write in my memoir:

I gaze around the living room beyond the corner where we are sitting. The grownups are involved in their grownup talk, but my aunt sees me staring at the tree in the opposite corner. Three presents, like lost parcels, lie underneath the tree.

“Those are for Felicity,” my aunt says. “Her birthday is December 26, so she can’t open her birthday presents until tomorrow.” (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, Copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford)

Merry Christmas.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Aloneness, Christmas, Family and Friends, Health, Help and Support, Living alone, Mom and Dad, Only child memoir, Pain, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow, Winter Weather

Only Child prepares for Christmas

Only Child's vision of the Christmas tree

Only Child’s vision of the Christmas tree

Ho Ho Ho or is it a little of Bah Humbug as I go round and round on the Christmas merry-go-round. Gee, it was so much simpler when I was a kid (back in the grey ages, of course). Probably because Mom and Dad had all the responsibility and I just had to enjoy it all while providing a little help. I posted the below excerpt from my memoir last year about the Christmas tree, but I think it is worth posting again – because it brings back the awe of Christmas, which we often forget in the mad Christmas rush.

When Dad drags the Christmas tree into the house, I inhale the pine fragrance. It fills me with anticipation made longer and harder to hold inside as Dad attempts to fit the tree trunk into the stand.

I can’t watch the agony, so after Mom and I haul up the boxes of lights and ornaments from the basement, I sit in the kitchen and listen to the wall clock tick away time. I hear “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,” but it is only the green radio. I poke my head inside the living room.

“Is it ready yet?”

“Patience,” Mom says, handing Dad a screwdriver.

“It’s coming along.” He twists the red tree stand. “Okay, Julia, let’s push it up.”

And my parents heave the tree up to its majestic six feet, spreading dark green bristles in the corner by the archway and just brushing the mantle. Finally. I crouch down and dig into the box of ornaments.

“Wait a minute,” Mom says. “The lights come first.”

And she and Dad twine the lights throughout the tree and I hold my breath one-two-three until I think I’ll pop, as Dad plugs in the lights and . . .

Nothing. One light has burned out and the only way to find the culprit is to remove each light, one at a time, and try a light that you hope might work. It is worse than waiting for Santa Claus. But when the miracle occurs, when the lights shine red, blue, white, yellow and green, throughout the tree, Christmas leaps days closer. Mom and I tackle the ornaments. I’m like a dog given the “yes,” for a walk, prancing around, reaching my paws down and up, and placing big coloured balls, small bells, and white plastic icicles on the sharp branches. Mom and I wrap tinsel – thin wavy light and big gold, which almost hides the lights, but they sparkle through. Then, I suck in my breath and look way up while Mom stands on the stepladder and places the angel in the top spot. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford).

Today, I have a tiny (under two feet) fake tree that sits on an end table. It has LED red lights which I leave in their sockets year round when I pack it away plus a few miniature decorations. Putting up these and other Christmas decorations isn’t the big stressor.  Running all the errands, trying to get client work done, doing PR for my debut mystery short story collection  Beyond the Tripping Point, and rewriting my prequel mystery novel, sometimes make me feel like I’m on a runaway train. Of course there are all those Christmas parties and other socials (which I like) and wrapping Christmas presents and signing, addressing, etc  the few Christmas cards I still do (both of which I don’t like doing  – when my son was growing up he wrapped all the Christmas presents except for his. Not child labour. Martin just wrapped presents much better than my messy job of it). I prefer to buy the presents to fit the receiver and then opening my own presents.

Then there are all those unplanned added “happenings” to mess up your days – such as computer problems, transit delays, sometimes weather, and annoying sales people on the phone or at the door. A few minutes ago I just rudely sent one on her unmerry way – she deserved it after trying to get into my house to check my water heater…and she isn’t even from the utility company I rent my water heater from.

So, I gave the clients notice last week that I’m taking a three-week break from client work to do some rewriting of my novel, spend time with family and friends, and yes, to do some book PR. It’s either that or find my own rabbit hole or bum a lift on Santa’s sleigh back to the North Pole. Probably not the latter – I hate winter weather.

How do you deal with the Christmas rush?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas holidays, Christmas spirit, Christmas stress, Christmas tree, Clients, Memoir content, Mom and Dad, Only child, Santa Claus, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child takes the middle road

Only Child's late Mom who had a streak of diplomacy

Only Child’s late Mom who had a streak of diplomacy

As a child I used to go for the happy medium in any crisis, problem, etc. I’ve since learned that I did so because I wanted to please everybody and not get into hot water. It didn’t always work.

Today, I often hit the middle road but the reason has evolved. Sometimes this sitting on the fence is the only way to go when it comes to your health or dealing with pushy people – clients or friends and family.

My late mom taught me well. Julia Langevin could often be tactless but sometimes she showed a streak in diplomacy. The Bully, the “girlfriend” I grew up with (to age 11) would alienate some of my other friends on the block. But one of The Bully’s younger sisters would have none of that. She would come over to play with me and we would do girl stuff with our dolls (yes, back in the grey ages, little girls played with dolls). On one of these occasions my mom let me continue playing with her even though I was supposed to come in and help with the dishes.

“You need to have one friend,” she said afterwards. “That’s why I let you play instead of calling you in to dry the dishes.”

Today, with all the conflicting research in heath matters often the only way to go is along the middle road. Take the issue with calcium supplements versus heart attack risk. The latest research shows that taking calcium supplements can be a risk to heart attacks, so the preference is to get your calcium from food – calcium-fortified orange juice, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. and only take supplements if you have a bone disease risk. What is a person to do if you are allergic to dairy (I’m not, that I know of) or if like me, you have malabsorption issues in your digestive system? Mine is partly caused by IBS but also by just getting old. Many people are going to run into the latter situation.

Do we have to choose between various arthritic conditions and heart attack risk? No.

Take the middle road. One of these studies (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/24/calcium-supplements-heart-risk) provides the pros and cons and other medical experts say that as long as your daily calcium intake is under 2,000 mg. you should be okay. I’m keeping my daily supplement dose just under 1,000 and hoping some of the dairy, etc. will actually get into my system. However, I am still back up to my 4500 UIs a day for Vitamin D now that the grey days of winter have settled in. I don’t want a repeat of my arthritic-like pains in my leg bone from last winter.

And my pesky clients, especially those who try for freebies long after the contract work is done and paid for? I follow the Julia Langevin method – be diplomatic. Let them know what’s what but do it nicely. Sometimes I have to wait a couple of days to answer their email so I don’t rush in and vent.

Check out more information on these calcium-heart disease studies at: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/HeartHealth/calcium-supplements-linked-heart-attack-risk/story?id=16413252#.UMdgYqyUzFx

And check out my guest blog post (coming up December 15, 2012) on Type M for Murder at http://typem4murder.blogspot.ca/
An author friend, Shane Joseph, will be featured on Wattpad on Dec 14th at http://www.wattpad.com/8704102-lest-they-be-forgotten-foreword

Don’t forget my author blog http://www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Arthritis, Digestive disorder, Health, Heart Disease, Middle, Mother, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child says foul to no toys

tree05The spirit of Christmas has disappeared from some of Canada’s department stores – at least for children. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I walked into the main Sears store in downtown Toronto on Sunday to find their children’s toy section had disappeared. Oh, a few selections of toys were scattered on shelves in the children’s clothing section but Children’s Toys were still listed in their directory posted on each floor by the escalators. Down the street at The Bay, children’s toys are no longer in their posted directory.

Santa’s rolly-polly stomach must be churning at this turn of events. The Grinch must be cheering – if grinches can cheer. Sure, toys are online (and in Sears case in their catalogue) but some of us like to get up close to choose toys for our children, grandchildren and in my case, a friend’s eight-year-old son. And what about the kids themselves? No more checking it out in person. Have we turned so technologically crazy that the personal touch has been booted out into cyberspace? Sure, we have stores such as Toys ‘r’ Us specializing in toys and more power to them. They haven’t forgotten the joys of experiencing toys up close.

When I was a child (back in the grey ages) it gave me great pleasure to look at toys in stores – whether big department stores (then it was Simpson’s and Eaton’s in Toronto) or what we then called “dime stores” such as Woolworth’s and Chainway. Afterwards, I would go to my parents and “Santa” and make my Christmas toy wish known. I usually received one toy that I wanted.

As I’m a former journalist I had to dig further about this toy disappearance. I asked a couple of sales clerks in the Children’s Section in Sears and received two different answers.

The first clerk lied. She pretended that there was a toy section but it was out in the corridor. She belongs out in the corridor at the very least. Clerk No. 2 was honest – she said Sears dropped in-store toys two months ago because children would knock them off the shelves, some were broken, but also in-store sales weren’t doing well, but toys are available at Sears online. I also talked to a lady in management and she said she didn’t know but to check online at www.sears.ca. I did and went to Sears Canada corporate section (see “Sears Canada Reports Third Quarter Results” http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=117881&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1757870&highlight=) and also read a Globe and Mail newspaper story, “How Sears plans to get its mojo back” by Marina Strauss, May 25, 2012, which is about the new Sears Canada President and CEO, Calvin McDonald. Read this story at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/how-sears-plans-to-get-its-mojo-back/article4209711/ and decide for yourselves what you think. Among other things, Mr. McDonald planned to have Sears eliminate toys in-store (but not online) and other items not selling well from in-store to try and bring the profits back to Sears. I blame dismal sales partly on not enough advertising – in the past few months Sears flyers have been almost non-existent. News flash! If you don’t tell them, they won’t come.

While I may have to live with the new reality of no toys at these department stores, one thing stands out. If you are going to dump toys from the in-store roster, why do it two months before Christmas?

I won’t be ordering a toy online for my little friend next door. I’m headed for a bricks and mortar store that carries toys. I want to see and feel the toy first before I buy it.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Christmas spirit, Grinch, Only child, Santa Claus, Sharon A. Crawford, Shopping