The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Christmas 1963The ghosts of Christmas past are memories that every human experiences, not just Scrooge.  I’m no different in this regard and find myself especially haunted at this time of year but with good memories.

I grew up in a small family with one brother but my extended family consisted of many aunts, uncles, and cousins, all of which spent Christmas together in one way or the other. The majority of our Christmas get-togethers were at my Uncle Robert’s home (he was also called”Red”).  My older cousins, Sandy and Robert, were part of the parties, and often my Uncle Tom, his wife Wilma, and their two daughters, Mary and Jane, attended, plus my Aunt Marge’s family too.  Occasionally, Grandma would visit from California.  My brother, father, and mother were also in the mix.

Because these family-centric occasions were part of my childhood, I grew up with expectations for my own life.  As a baby boomer, I watched my parents and two of my uncles have long marriages, children, and grandchildren.  My Uncle Red’s descendants with his son, daughter, and grandchildren, are still having full family Christmas gatherings.  How do I know?  The social media platform of wonderful Facebook. On the other hand, my brother, too, married, had children, and grandchildren, and remains in a close-knit family who spends the holidays together.

Then there is me.  Divorced and alone.  To quote that famous line from the movie The Holiday, “Loner, loser, and complicated wreck.”

My life has not turned out to be the picture-perfect ending as I hoped.  I’ve been married twice – the first ended because my husband committed adultery; the second because of my husband’s uncontrolled temper and lack of love. We had one son together.

My son is divorced now from his wife, but we have visitation with his son this Christmas Day.  My granddaughter lives with her mother, who was born from another relationship.  I’ve yet to spend any quality Christmas time with her as she lives out of state.  I’m in a fractured scenario that often leaves me alone during the holidays.

Naturally, the ghosts of Christmas past return to haunt me every year. The picture above shows me at fourteen years of age in 1964 during Christmas at my uncle’s. Apparently, I was deep in thought perhaps contemplating my future.  As I contemplate it now, my life has not turned out as I thought it would.  The hope of a long marriage, more than one child, happiness for my son, and more grandchildren have alluded me at every turn. When Christmas rolls around every year, I tend to slip into the doldrums, remembering the happy childhood of family that is far from the reality of today.  If those positive and pleasant memories have not left me as I turn 69 next month, it reminds me how much the ghosts of Christmas present make an everlasting impression upon you as a child.  I’m sure the ghosts of your Christmas pasts remain with you as well.

As I enter the last chapter of my life, I struggle with regrets, disappointments, and skepticism about the ghosts of Christmas yet to come. None of us can change what has transpired in our life.  We don’t get to rewind and do it better until we get it right.  Much of my poor choices in life stem back to my early childhood sexual abuse by a neighborhood boy.  It marked me for life but I’ve never played the victim because of it.  Instead, I’ve recognized and accepted the effect it had upon my psyche and the paths toward poor relationships that I chose.  Perhaps I was doomed from the very beginning for unhappy ghosts of Christmas yet to come.

This year as you watch your children and grandchildren enjoy the holidays, do whatever you can to make their memories happy ones.  No one knows what lies ahead in any of our lives, and since ghosts don’t normally show us the future to come, we can only live in the present.  Cherish your husbands, wives, children, grandchildren, or even great-grandchildren!

Merry Christmas to one and all.


My Lone Enthusiasm

LonelyI am an independent woman.  Most of my life I’ve been single.  Now staring at 68 years of age in a few weeks, I’ve calculated that I’ve spent thirty years without a mate.  (68 – 20 years of married life = 48,  minus the first 18 years until adulthood = 30.)  Now that I’ve impressed you with my math skills…

As a young person, I always thought I would be like mom and dad.  You know, my grandparents celebrated 50 years of marriage, my parents were together nearly that long, so certainly I would wed and grow old with someone.  Apparently, fate had a laugh at my expense, which as far as I’m concerned is a bit of a cruel joke.

Nevertheless, I have adapted to life alone.  I don’t often see my son or grandchildren.  At work, I interact with others on a skimming basis of passing through the day and exchanging a few words.  There were years that I felt sorry for myself but the last fifteen have for the most part allowed me to grow numb to the pain.

My introverted personality doesn’t help either as I find it hard to do social interaction in large crowds. I have no qualms about going out to dinner alone (though more and more I find myself getting take-out) and enjoying an occasional movie I want to see.  However, lately, I’m wrestling with the alone feeling of not having anyone who loves me that I can share with about life.  I long for someone to be excited about the things that excite me.  You know, England, writing, ancestry, period dramas, cats, and everything else that brings a smile to my face.  My biggest letdown is overflowing with excitement at something that means a lot to me and discovering that those in my close personal circles don’t share the same enthusiasm.

Perhaps that’s part of growing old.  We become segregated and surrounded by our own regrets and unfulfilled desires.  The things that give us pleasure turn into solitary joys that fade until the next one comes along.

I’m not sure what, if anything can be done about the emptiness the gnaws at me, except hang around Facebook in groups and pages with people of likemindedness.  It’s a superficial solution to share those interests with people you really do not know.  You can’t laugh together face to face, get excited and see the sparkle in another person’s eyes, or intently listen to what they have to say verbally because you love what they love.  Oh, I suppose I could join clubs of cat lovers, England travelers, and the like.  But I’m not wishing for group therapy, I missing the intimate moments of one single person that truly cares and shares the same joys.

Well, enough complaining for now.



Alone Again, Naturally

XMASHere I am Christmas morning.  This is the 18th year I’ve woken up alone without anyone by my side.  Thankfully, in the past few years, my granddaughter’s mother calls me to listen to her open her presents early in the morning.  They live out of state so I don’t get to see her.  It gives me some comfort but doesn’t wipe away the years of solitude.

I’ve spent many Thanksgivings and Christmas Days alone in the past.  It’s become a norm for me.  After so many years of emptiness, I’ve moved from sorrow to numbness over my state of affairs.  As soon as Christmas ends, I”m the first to take down my two-foot high Christmas tree and shove it in the storage unit on my balcony.

I grew up in a big family where my mother had four brothers.  Two of them lived nearby and every holiday included family time with Uncle Red, Uncle Tom, my aunts, and many cousins.  Those memories are burned into my psyche with great fondness and often remind me of the huge empty gap I’m left with in my elder years.

Unfortunately, I made so many poor choices throughout my life when it came to men that I have ended up divorced and alone since 1999.  My son is married but we it’s only been a few years we’ve spent Christmas together.  His family situation is often stressful that takes away much of the joy.

Do I like the holidays?  Not really.  As I sit and look out my window at the houses in my neighborhood, I know people are waking up with someone by their side. If they have children, they are destroying wrapping paper and screaming over gifts.  Mom probably has a turkey or ham cooking for a big family dinner, while I, on the other hand, will eat leftovers from last night.

As I said, I won’t cry in my eggnog over my state of affairs.  I’ll merely go through the day numb and avoid Facebook filled with pictures of happy families enjoying Christmas Day together.  Tomorrow it will be over and I can look toward New Years, which is my favorite holiday of the year.  Once again, I can shove the emptiness behind and start over again.

Of course, I know that I’m not the only one in the world waking up this way today.  There are other singles, divorcees, widows/widowers, and homeless that are faced with the same dilemma.  If you think about it, there is some camaraderie between us all that we face the same emptiness, reminding us that we really aren’t alone.


Living Affordable

10775027_sLet’s talk about bogus and misguided websites when it comes to searching cheap places to live for retirees!  I’ve been surfing this morning because eventually, I want to leave the Portland, Oregon area before the big one.  (The big one refers to the earthquake that is supposed to wipe out everything from I-5 west to the coast.)  Kidding aside, that’s not the real reason I want to leave.  It’s the cost of living.

Most of the websites I found are terribly out of date when it comes to median home value and median rent. reports that median rent in Portland is $971 a month, but actually, as of October 2017, it’s $1,495 a month for a one-bedroom and over $1,800 a month for a two bedroom.  I don’t think many Social Security checks will cover that astronomical rent.

Forget about the prices of home, which have zoomed well over $350K to $400K for an average house.  When we first moved here in 1985, our first home purchased in 1990 was a whopping $65,000.  Portland, Oregon is filled with the homeless, roads crowded to the point of L.A. traffic, and more housing being built on an infrastructure that can’t support the continued growth.  Retirees look elsewhere.  I own a condo with a decent monthly payment and HOA fees that total just over $1,100 a month, but each year my value rises and so do my taxes.  The HOA fees rise as well, and my low payment creeps upward.

I’m now in a quandary as to what to believe regarding these best places to live websites with bad data.  I think the only real data you can get is actually on sites and for-rent websites that show the current information.  Also, reading reviews from individuals who live in the area could also be somewhat slanted regarding other things such as crime & safety, etc.

In the next two years, I must make a decision where to go regardless of whether my family members follow or not.  How can an individual continue to live in a non-sustainable and affordable location at our age?

Oh, how times have changed.  My parents had it made.  By the time they retired, their home was paid off free and clear.  It seems like an unlikely dream these days since I just took out a second mortgage.   I either need to start selling pure smut books with six-pack abs on the front cover or figure out another way to add to the small Social Security income I can draw upon when I am seventy. 

The aging conundrum continues.

Holiday Memories

tartsMy father died in 1996, twenty-one years ago.  My mother died in 2000, seventeen years ago.  The holidays, such as Thanksgiving, always brings back childhood memories.  It’s impossible not to think of turkey dinners and my parents.

My mother had a talent for making pastry.  She never measured anything.  Using her hands and a bowl, she would combine the Crisco, flour, and a bit of water, and make heavenly treats.  Her memorable twice a year bakes were on Thanksgiving and Christmas, which were gifts of walnut raisin tarts.  You couldn’t twist her arm to make them during the summer.  No, only on the holidays did she treat us with the delicacy.

I never obtained my mother’s talent of pastry making.  Her voice still booms in my ears. “Play with the dough too much and it becomes tough.”  She was right.  I’ve ruined more batches of pastry dough during my lame attempts to be like mother.

The other staple of Thanksgiving was rutabaga.  Yes, we had mashed potatoes, but we rutabagaalso were fed that hard turnip that had an interesting taste.  I never hated it on the dinner plate like I did lima beans. Thank God, she never served lima beans at the holidays.  Those were reserved for the liver and onion dinners I gag over just thinking about them!

Are holiday memories important?  Yes, they are.  Even though I”m sixty-seven years old, when the holiday’s come around I think of my childhood, my extended family of uncles and cousins (and I had a bunch), as well as the food that lingers in my mind.  Don’t let anyone tell you that making holiday memories or traditions isn’t important. Hopefully, you gave those to your children and are spoiling your grandchildren with memories of their own.  Thankfully, I had parents that gave me lingering memories into my older years that make me smile.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Gosh, I miss my mother and her tarts.


Where Are All the Older People at Work?  Oh, yeah, they’ve been fired.

The topic continues in an interesting and very truthful article this week on Linkedin written by Jack Kelly.  It’s the new discrimination that we don’t talk about.

Having recently watched numerous people let go in a company that I’m part of due to the term “reorganization,” this hits home.  Most of the hurt and angry on are quite vocal about the truth of the matter.  They were older, experienced, higher salaried, and due to financial reasons have become a liability rather than an asset.

What do I think?  It’s a damn crying shame that this continues in the workforce today.  Unfortunately, no one cares and no one can barely win a suit.  Discrimination?  You betcha.  I can only hope all the knowledge they kicked to the curbside puts them back a few years until the millennials figure out what the hell they are doing.

Workers over 45 Still Struggle to Get Back to Work – Jul. 15, 2016

At age 56…Despite having a college degree in accounting and many years of experience, Aguilar can’t even get interviews anymore. She worked for nearly a decade at her last job for Arise Virtual Solutions, a call center firm. Her dream is to work with animals, but she says she will “try anything” at this point.

Source: Workers over 45 still struggle to get back to work – Jul. 15, 2016

BLOGGER COMMENT:  Being 52 and unemployed for two years ten years ago, having applied for over 70 jobs, I understand the frustration when no one hires you.  Now at 66, I live in that constant fear as I push toward 70 in the workplace, that I will eventually be weaseled out of a  job due to my age – regardless of the laws.


The Dumbing of the Elderly

GOOD-LORD-YOU-ARE-DUMBUsually, when you see the title above, you immediately think it’s going to say, “The dumbing of America.” I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate for this blog title to describe the most recent realization of growing older.  What do I mean?  Well, let me explain.

No doubt, you’ve seen portrayed on screen or in real life a younger person speaking loudly to an elderly person because immediately they assume they have gone nearly deaf due to their age.  Okay, I will admit that I am almost deaf in one ear, but it’s been that way since childhood so you can’t pin it on my sixty-six years of life. Of course, most of the time, the older person can hear sufficiently without being yelled at repeatedly.

Well, I’m discovering that individuals appear to think that as we age we get dumber.  I’m noticing the phenomena at my work environment that age is instantly being attributed to decreased cognizant ability regardless if it’s there or not.  No, I’m not on the verge of dementia or Alzheimer’s.  My memory is still sharp so don’t throw me into the bucket of declining thought process or memory function by making me an unworthy participant in new endeavors.

Perhaps it’s just that prevailing attitude of the youth wherein they think that they know more than their elders.  Don’t get me started. Oh, perhaps in the context of technical  abilities of rocket science, the educated youth may know more today than the person who graduated from college in 1970.  Nevertheless, not all aging individuals are suddenly growing stupid so stop treating them like they are!

My frustration stems from this new feeling of being coined inadequate, lacking the ability to have problem-solving skills, or being creative with worthwhile ideas that I can actually contribute.  It’s frustrating, to say the least. When approached by younger co-workers, I can feel the vibes of “why are you still here old lady?” flowing through their brains.  Even their gazes are demeaning  and their presence shunning.  I’m growing to despise it.

And you know what youngster?  Your elders just may know more than you so deal with it!  Remember, it’s the youth who are being dumbing down in America – not your elders.

I’m done ranting.


catwhisper-1I think most of us in the Baby Boomer generation must have had expectations regarding how our lives would turn out.  The more I reflect on some of my discontentment in this stage of life, I realize it stems from the world in which I grew up.  Born in 1950, being ten in 1960, and graduating from high school 1968, I had expectations that my life would mirror that of my parents. After all, home economics taught us to be wives, good housekeepers, cooks, and mothers-to-be.  Like all young ladies, I would marry, have children, and live HEA, i.e. happily ever after.  But wait a minute, it didn’t turn out that way!

Perhaps it was the era that I was raised in with a stay-at-home mother, working father, and middle-class family home.  Our holidays were filled with visits to my aunts and uncles, who were also living the lives of lasting marriages and good children growing up from their unions.

I suppose in an odd sort of way that I expected the same thing.  However, now as I write this at 66 years of age, having been single and divorced for nearly 18 years, I’m not growing old with a loving husband. Instead, I have a fluffy cat. Perhaps I imaged my life should have turned out like my parents or grandparents. Married for forty or fifty years until death parts me from my spouse or I should die first. The stark reality that I have no spouse to grow old with or mourn my passing leaves an aching unfulfillment in my soul.  Nothing turned out like I expected – absolutely nothing.

Perhaps I need to file this under the “disappointment” post, which probably says about the same thing.  As I sit here, it’s been on my mind of late.  It’s a grieving of a silent sort that there isn’t always an HEA for everyone. Life doesn’t always follow the best-laid plans of how things should have been.