Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What is there to be thankful for?

And so begins another holiday season to get through. That used to be a recurring thought in my head every year while growing up. Don't misunderstand, I loved Thanksgiving, it was the rest of the holiday season I could live without.

As a child growing up in a household with an alcoholic, Christmas seemed to be an especially painful time of the year for my father. When the Miller lite ran out, my father turned to Black Velvet. Thanksgiving was the onset of 6 weeks of trying to dodge my father, which was pretty hard in a smaller ranch house, with 7 people, one living room, and only one bathroom.

The day would start out fine enough with my Mom making everybody's favorite side dishes and two turkeys to feed my four brothers and miscellaneous relatives. I loved the smell of turkey cooking and the warmth of the home. My brothers all joking around and watching whichever sports game or war movie was on one of the three television stations available. Dinner would be fun with lots of laughter and good natured ribbing, but as the day progressed, so too did my fathers imbibement. The downward spiral continued with the start of the Christmas Music marathon.

We used to have a stackable phonograph stereo. For those of you under 35, this thing was a piece of furniture and took up one whole wall. The cover lifted up on one side (sort of like a coffin), and inside was the turntable with record stacking capabilities. We were able to put 12 records on the spindle, and it would drop a new record automatically as the preceding record ended. We could change it from 78, 45 or 33 rpm if needed. So for all the Christmas music freaks out there, you could have up to 6 hours of listening torture before having to flip the stack of records over. We had everything from boy's choirs to Philharmonics to oldies but goodies singers. Heck, we even had Clancy Brothers and Bobby Vinton. It was too bad they didn't make the "A Very Special Christmas" records back then, it would have been nice to listen to something remotely modern. Even though it was the primarily the 70's, all the music in the house was show tunes or music atleast 20 years old.

But I digress, the point is as the music continued to play each day towards Christmas, my fathers drinking increased a tension in the household that was hard for children to rationalize. And if anyone has gone through a winter in central New York, one knows the weather tends to keep one isolated within the house. It got to the point that as a teenager, I would be on pins and needles until one of my friends could pick me up to get me out of the house- THANK YOU TERRY QUILL. I still loved Thanksgiving, but hated the day after. And then hated each day through to New Years. I would stay in my room as much as possible and read a book a day just to hide.

I never understood the demons that my father battled. I know he had a very troubling childhood and have heard some stories... his father died when he was 2; he was the youngest of 8 kids I think, (they were fairly older and some died before I was born); my Babci spoke only polish which created cultural issus in trying to be American; he had his legs broken twice by force as a child; he dropped out of school to join the Air Force in WWII, and when he got home, his mom threw away his military stuff; and until the day he married, every paycheck he earned was handed over to his mother for the family expenses. That's some of the stuff I know, I am sure there is much more I have never learned about. Some may say others have gone through worse, but this was enough to affect him for the entirety of his life.

It wasn't until I was a junior in college that we truly bonded. And as I learned to accept him as a person, my love for him as a father grew. I could never overcome the hurt of growing up through those Cristmas seasons. But I did learn to enjoy Christmas again. He died in 1994, and I am so glad we had six years together where we could actually talk to each other and spend time enjoying each other's company.

So this Thanksgiving, like every other, I am thankful for a myriad of things, like my children, my husband, health, a home, good friends, etc. But I am very thankful to have had an alcoholic father. It's not something I would wish on anyone, however, having my Dad in my life taught me compassion, patience, understanding and forgiveness. And with those lessons, I have learned to enjoy the whole holiday season, Christmas included.

My hope for all of you is that you each have something or someone to be thankful for. That you each have a reason to make it through the holiday season emotionally intact. And if you are still waiting for the reason to be thankful for something, I hope that this is the year that you find what you are looking for.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cougar or Kitten?

So the New Moon movie has grown women howling at the midnight premiere showing. I have read the series up through Eclipse. Not because I am interested in a young adult book, but because I was previewing them for age appropriate content for my pre-teen daughter. I am a mother that is what I do. A tepid kiss, some longing stares and some immature, pseudo alpha possessiveness pretty much sums up the romance of the first two books. I just don't understand what makes make women over the age of 30, 35 and 40 go ga-ga over Edward and Jacob. If you want to know possessiveness in a vampire book, read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward! These guys make Edward and Jacob look like fledglings.

Anyay, I totally understand the teenage crush. Back in 1984, I LOVED Billy Idol. I mean, I would actually have tears in my eyes just hearing his songs, seeing his picture, or heaven help me, seeing him live in Saratoga Springs a few years later. This punk guy with the spiky hair, emaciated body, leather pants hugging the butt just right,tattoos and sneering grin set the precedent for every guy I had a "thing" for, for the following 10 years. At some point, one of my friends termed my type of guy as the "Ethiopian, albino greaser". I could have sworn, and I am sure a few friends would have agreed, I was destined to marry the musician that was down on his luck. In the end I found Rico Suavé, who is not the musician, nor the Ethiopian albino greaser of my yesteryears.

But all this makes me think, am I missing something with this lurve that "mature" ladies are feeling for the vamp and wolf boy? I think not.

Many years ago, my Mom and I would argue over who was better looking, Robert Redford or Paul Newman- (think Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)- and I remember thinking as a kid, but they are so old!

Now as a discerning 41 year old, I so completely get the sexiness of the man with a few laugh lines, some greying at the temples, the scarred or nicked hands that show hard work with pride, and the self-confidence that comes with experience and knowledge. I am just not attracted to the youthful swagger of these newbies. I sometimes am amazed that I will look over the hunky 25 year old guy for the 45 year old guy with some sign of maturity. Long gone are the skinny dudes in my viewer, now I need a guy with some heft (I said some heft, not hefty). Think Gerard Butler in 300, Eric Bana in Black Hawk Down, Jason Statham in Transporter, Richard Gere in anything.... just to name a few.

With so many great older guys out there to choose from, why do these women want to be a Cougar to the 25 year old (or younger) actor, when they could be a Kitten to a man that has the wisdom to make them purr?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What's in a name?

Obviously Chippy is not my real name, but rather a nickname given to me by my husband when we first started dating. He has never told me why he calls me that despite my pestering. I suspect it has to do with my need to chatter about the day's events.

I never really had a nickname growing up. I had a typical 70's name, but it couldn't really be shortened into anything. I had the same music teacher throughout middle school and high school that spun a variation of my name, but that was really the only person that called me anything other than my real name (at least to my face).

When I was in my 20's I had a very good friend that referred to me as the "cute polish girl". I am positive being Polish had something to do with it. He used it mainly when he was jealous or awed by my cute polishness. Actually, it started because I had a tendency to be heavy on the gas pedal during road trips, and had a real aversion to driving 55 mph. So anyway, I just started passing the NY State Troopers on the thruway, or I-81. Somehow I never got stopped. My friend would sarcastically say, "Oh look, there goes the cute polish girl, we can't stop her."
I loved when he called me the cutepolishgirl, it made me feel young, carefree, energetic, special.

Now, I go by Chippy. Cutepolishgirl is still alive in the 25 year old side of me, but her identity never really progressed past those initial feelings. I still have a sense of the cutepolishgirl inside me, but she was taken over by Chippy and became just a facet of Chippy's personality. On the other hand, Chippy has mutated and adapted over the 15 years I have known my husband.

Being Chippy offers me a sense of belonging, a sense of unending love, a sense of hopefulness for the future, a sense of committment and a sense of contentment, I know my husband is upset with me when he calls me by my real name.

Does anyone else have a nickname that identifies who they really are? Can one name sum up your whole being? If you could pick your own nickname, would you and what would it be?

By the by, my secret nickname for my husband is Rico Suavé. But that is for a different post.