Friday, November 21, 2008

Baby, It's COLD Outside!

OK, OK. I know, the locals are laughing at me. But MY last seven Christmases were spent with the air conditioning on.
I'm not kidding. Last Christmas, it was 75 degrees in Montgomery, AL. My husband, the North Dakota native, could not resist having a fire in the fireplace on Christmas Day ("It's tradition, Woman!"), so the interior of our house was somewhere around 90 degrees, WITH the AC cranking. When you add my holiday cooking (even if there are only four adults eating, there is enough food to feed an entire third world country), and a handful of in-laws, it was HOT.

For those of you back home complaining about "snow so early in the season"... well, you should just hush. It's been snowing here since September, and the thermostat outside read -20F last night. While the day "warmed up", it was still -12F when I went to get the mail.
I just want to let you know something... boogers freeze at that temperature. I know this for two reasons. One, my own boogers froze. It's a kind of uncomfortable feeling. Two, Beans' boogers froze, or at least I am assuming that was the case, as she spent the rest of the afternoon with one finger jammed up in her nose- in pursuit. (Because you wanted to know, right?)

It's cold. Yeah, I know, I know. It's gonna get colder. You know, if any locals would like to offer suggestions: I sure would like to know how to stay warm on the way to the mailbox, but not sweat in my own home.
My current method is to put my layers on (starting with good long underwear first, of course). Outside, that is actually relatively comfortable. At home, not so much. I have started to live in "Alaskan Style", which basically means wandering around my house in long underwear and hoping my friends and neighbors are kind enough to call before they stop by and see me in my skivvies. Pregnant chick in long johns? Not a pretty sight, folks.
Is there another way? One that doesn't involve dressing, undressing, and re-dressing several times a day? And what do you do on days you go to town? I mean, I need the layers while we are outside and travelling from place to place, but get me inside, especially somewhere like Walmart, that has the heat cranked up, and I'm fixin' to pass out! I can't exactly wander around Walmart in my long underwear. I mean, this is Alaska, NOT Alabama.

Moving on... this coming week marks The Most Wonderful Time of The Year. My absolute favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Which reminds me, I'd better get that turkey out of my freezer.
We have a wonderful meal planned, with turkey and all the trimmings, along with my "famous" pumpkin pie and plenty of other goodies. Thanksgiving tends to be one of the few days a year I abandon my hippie ways and make foods loaded with calories, fat, and butter... just like grandma used to make.
We'll be celebrating (eating) on Wednesday, since that's the day a couple of our friends can come dine with us, and we'll spend Thursday decking the halls, and probably each other. Two type-A personalities trying to set up Christmas? Ah, yes. J and I have had our fair share of gauntlet-throwing arguments over Christmas lights and Nativity set placement. Christmas decorating in our house usually plays out something like this:
The day is spent arguing over which color lights go on the tree. Why do we argue this? Everyone knows that colored lights look tacky and only clear lights should go on a tree. (No offense to those of you who enjoy the bright display of multi-color lights.) This is followed by a rousing debate between twinkling, flashing, fading, or steady lights. By the time we argue over which ornaments are actually going on the tree (Every year I really DO mean to hide J's collection of John Deere ornaments!) and get the stocking hung by the chimney with care, you can usually hear a conversation of, "Just put the #@&* lights on the tree, put Baby Jesus in the manger already, and leave my #@&* candy canes alone!" with "Silver Bells" playing in the background.
As we say down South, "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition." *grin*

In all seriousness...
I may not have time to update before Thanksgiving, so I'll start the holiday off with the things I am thankful for:

I am thankful that my husband has shown me what "family" is really about, through loving me even when I'm the one who's a big jerk for a change (*grin*), and by being consistent, and telling me he loves me every day.
I never realized that it was okay to be a real person, be myself, and still somehow manage to still be loved, so... thanks.
I am thankful that my daughter gives me REAL purpose in life. I always thought life had some kind of meaning, but getting to be Bean's mom makes me realize that all the other things I've ever done in life were just practicing having a purpose. I am thankful for every giggle, every laugh, every slobbery kiss, every late night snuggling while she nurses (yes, still nursing!), and VERY thankful that every time she head-dives off the couch, bed, step stool or other object, she survives.
Beans- it means so much to me, that you make every moment of my life count for something now. I love being your mom.

There are tons of other things and people in life I am thankful for. But I don't have time to list all of you. Chances are, if I'm thankful for you, you know it. And if you don't, then remind me to tell you sometime!

This year, I am also thankful for the personal growth that has come my way through life in Alaska. I know I've said it before, but something about being out here lends perspective to things in life. Things that used to matter and weigh me down, well... they just DON'T anymore. It's hard to explain- and while it feels like that change in thought, mind, and heart came in some life altering moment, it was more like a subtle paradigm shift, occurring over years, I'm sure.
It's going to sound strange, but, here goes...
God shows through Alaska in an interesting way. You see very raw nature here, very real life. You see nature interact and realize: there is no room in life for unforgiving, for holding a grudge, or for worrying about the "what ifs" in life. There is today, here and now. God shows you, through nature, that it is smart to LEARN from the hurts of the past... you don't often see an animal return to a place that has provided a good beating or fails to provide food. But you don't hold onto it. You learn, you let go, you move on.
I am definitely thankful to be free of those things that were, in retrospect, holding me back from moving on with my life.
I always like to do my reflecting around Thanksgiving, and set my goals for the upcoming year. It's so much easier to see what you care about, and where you want to go in life when you are being thankful.
I am excited to see where the first year of my "moving on" takes me. The world is full of possibility, excitement, and adventure!

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I have something I try to do every year, and I challenge all of you to do the same:
If you can't find something to be thankful for, try to be or do something that someone else can be thankful for. Go change someone's moment, day, week, year, or life. Buy someone a cup of coffee, smile, say "hi" to strangers. Find a need in someone's life and fill it. Be a friend, listen, lend a hand. Stop being too busy for other people.
And if you know someone who is going to otherwise spend Thanksgiving alone, invite them to your table. I mean, how hard is it to find an extra serving on a 20 pound bird? EVERYONE deserves to feel some sense of belonging, especially on days that are all about "belonging". Make someone "belong" in your home. The joy that creates will certainly outlive the leftovers.

As for me, I'll see you all when I emerge from my turkey induced coma....
Until Then,
Happy Thanksgiving, AND...
Happy Moose Trails!


Kay said...

Fantastic to hear that Beans has gotten well enough to go outdoors again! Have a Happy Thanksgiving and let us know how J is planning on the Christmas fire in the hearth this year while you live in military housing.
Have come South for the Holiday; way south. The sun really shines at midnight here in Antarctica. And it is a bit warmer, though still below freezing.
Cheers, Kay

Susan said...

Enjoy the turkey! I just cleaned out the frig to make room for mine.. Organic that is.. Happy day to you.