Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Exhale

Tinsel schminsel ...

It’ll all be fine when …

I can stop holding my breath when …

I can finally relax when …

Yeah, I’m not there yet.

I’m still scatterbrained enough from holiday confusion that I left my phone in the car, so I’m streaming on my laptop an old Zion concert I haven’t had a chance to listen to yet. All things work together for good.

I can’t remember a time before I was decorating or baking or shopping or wrapping or catching up on Star Wars movies so I could go see episode VII. Now that all is done for the moment, I can exhale maybe once or twice, but there is a looming “what next” question in the atmosphere. Never mind the cleanup. That can wait until Epiphany. Or whenever.

Side note … Episode VII is great. Go see it. No spoilers, but for those who have seen the film … the debate in my house is … Kylo Ren … attractive or not? We all agree at least he’s a character with some dimension, and we’re happy about that. Discuss.

So what’s next. New Year’s Eve. I have no plans. I’m seriously considering going to bed early. There’s an outside chance we will hold the traditional family New Year’s Eve fried food fest. Growing up we never did anything for New Year’s Eve. It was my granny’s birthday, but often we were home from Christmas visiting by then. That side of the family lived a couple hours away.

Eventually through the suggestions, requests, influence, and probably whining of teenagers we established the Fried Food Fest. Mom would buy mozzarella sticks, pizza rolls, jalepeno poppers, frozen pizza, etc. – items rarely consumed in our house due to cost and the complete lack of nutritional value, with the possible exception of pizza – and that’s what we would snack on throughout the evening. Then we’d watch Dick Clark and head to bed.

I was in high school with a driver’s license and keys to my parents’ Chevy Caprice Classic before I went to anyone else’s house for New Year’s Eve. A teenage party complete with sparkling grape juice and everything.

My grandpa – the one two hours away – had been in the hospital for a few days? A weekish? I don’t remember every detail exactly. In spite of the Parkinson’s he had been fighting for several years, he was unusually perky when we visited prior to Christmas. We had all gotten used to patiently waiting when he would stall midsentence. It was just part of the deal. He’d finish his thought eventually. It was in there. He’d shuffle off to wherever eventually.

He passed away that December 31. On my granny’s birthday. He was the first grandparent and the first person close to me I had lost. So it was kind of an odd experience for me, my siblings, and our cousin. The masonic funeral was a whole separate ceremony. Something about a fleece and I don’t even remember what, other than I thought it was weird. This was before the “National Treasure” movies brought a whole new level of coolness to the freemasons. I wonder if I'm not supposed to talk about the fleece. Have I divulged some great secret?

So maybe I’m not exhaling just yet because New Year’s Eve can be a little melancholy or at least memory-filled in my family. My granny passed away many years later in the summertime, followed by my uncle six months afterward. We rarely find ourselves in southern Ohio anymore.

I’ve gone through phases when my social calendar seemed to be filled regularly for New Year’s. Either friends were hosting game night or my sister and I would host. Once I even made it to First Night Columbus where, it is a true fact, I danced on bubble wrap at Broad & High with Mayor Coleman. I can be bipartisan with the best of ‘em.

Maybe it’s the season of life my friends and I find ourselves in … we’re older, most kids in our circle are older and may have their own social calendars … we remember loved ones lost in the post-Christmas letdown (I swear it’s a real phenomenon for those fighting chronic illness) … we’ve had enough cookies and candy and carbs … and we just don’t care to watch the ball drop in the presence of drunken chaos on our televisions. We don’t care, and we’re really cool with that.

Is it bad that I had to use Google to look up whether Dick Clark is dead? He is.

Football is another story. I may even watch more than just Ohio State’s bowl game. Priorities, man.

So as I attempt to exhale … attempt to get a little work done to set up January … attempt to set goals for the year … marvel at the best laid plans phenomenon … and set goals anyway … and try to avoid wallowing in impatience … somehow what was intended as a quick logistical check-in turned into an all-day text conversation with a trusted friend. Que sera sera. Don’t lose your mind just yet.

Farewell, 2015. You were a long, strange trip.

Here comes Suzy Snowflake. Well actually, I'm cool if she stays away.

Sir I wanna buy these shoes ...

For more on the subject of Exhaling from my writing partners, see Sue Bowles at and Leisa Herren at

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