Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday Hell aka No Good Deed...

Ok, gotta get this off my chest. Hopefully you guys will throw me a bone and share a holiday from hell story from your past or present so I don't feel so crappy. LOL

My ex-father-in-law is a narcissistic control freak. I've talked about him before and about my issues with him. Both of his children have fled the state and want nothing to do with him. My ex-hubby's inability to deal with him played a part in my decision to divorce.

As the mother of his two oldest grandchildren, I've basically inherited the irascible bastard. After my divorce from his son and over the years, we've hammered out a civil relationship based on---"you follow my rules or you don't get to spend time with my kids".

It's not malice on my part. I recognize the need for my kids to having loving familial relationships. But I also know why Ex-FIL's kids want nothing to do with him. He was an autocratic, abusive bully.

Having f*cked up with his own children, I have to admit that "R", as I'll call him, has worked hard to stay on my good side and has worked hard to be a good grandfather over the years. We've come to have a mutual and tentative respect for each other and our roles in the boys' lives.

Now he is in his 70's, lives alone in an assisted living place, where he scares the crap out of the other residents by bullying them into joining him in his self-styled regimen of diet and exercise. LOL He gets around ok, it's just that he's had some financial and medical setbacks over the past few years.

And he's starting to lose what mind he has left. You know what I mean---some older people get to a point where they just don't care about good manners or they revert back to being the same asshole they were before they started "mellowing".

This year for the first time, he's started trying to march Hubby and I around like we were his actual children, not people who put up with him for the sake of the grandchildren.

Against everybody else's better judgement, I invited R for Christmas dinner. I mean the guy has NOBODY. He's chased his own kids away, and has few friends. I just knew that I couldn't stand the guilt I'd feel thinking that he would be alone for the holidays. And hey---it's good for the kids to spend a little time with him, as tough as it can be (R is the kind of person who has to be the center of attention and monopolizes every conversation to make it revolve around himself, his life, his opinions).

I said, "We'll have dinner and festivities from 2 to 4, so that will give you time to drive home while it's still light" (it's about an hour and a half drive).

Christmas Day dawned early and bright. Got up early, put the stockings under the tree, made breakfast. All the kids (including Kitty) were here, as well as a friend who has been staying as a houseguest. Had a lovely time opening gifts.

Then it hit me. I hurt. I hurt everywhere. From my scalp (which felt like it was on fire) down to my toes. My back ached, my hips ached, my legs ached. I was exhausted and could barely move.

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few years ago. It's been very mild so far and treatable with aspirin or advil. I guess this was my first big "attack". I was down for the count.

Went to bed and woke up a couple of hours later. If possible, I felt worse. My friend said, "You know things are bad when even your eyelashes hurt". Luckily I had prepared the entire Christmas dinner in advance and all it needed was to be heated in the oven. Hubby to the rescue!

As usual, Ex-FIL called to say he would be late, never taking into account that he would upset plans other people made for the rest of the day. Hubby tried to head him off at the pass, saying that I was ill and that we should get together another time. But no, that would be too easy. R was "on his way" and nothing would stop him.

I woke up long enough to chat with him (and apologize for my state) for about 15 or 20 minutes before collapsing back into bed. The kids were kind of freaking out---mom sick? Oh no! The world is ending!

Slept through most of the rest of it, so it was relayed to me by the survivors.

After the meal and visiting, he Just Wouldn't Leave. Even though the Aspiring Adult had plans with his friends and Kitty and Big Kid had to go see her parents, R's car was blocking them in the driveway and he Just Wouldn't Leave. Finally, after ignoring hints and their obvious desperation, Hubby asked him to move his car (it was around 5pm at this time). He moved his car, parked it back in the driveway and parked his ass back on the couch.

Some time later he mentioned that since he was already down here, he thought he'd spend the night and go see some of his friends in the morning. Sorry Dude, no room at the inn. I mean really, where did he think we would put him? Our houseguest is sleeping in Little Guy's room, and Little Guy, Big Kid and Kitty were bunked out in sleeping bags up in the loft.

So he "instructed" my hubby to find him a motel in the area. He was willing to pay $35 a night.

Was he freaking serious? Really? On Christmas? Up here in a mountain town? Even in the off-season, you can't get a room up here for $35 a night.

Hubby, with infinite patience I might add, called up the locals. No go. So R called down to the city (about a half an hour away) and found himself a room. Told them to expect him around 8 or 9pm. Oy.

Around 7, I stumbled out of our room. I heard R's voice and thought I was hallucinating. I turned around and went back to bed.

A little later, just after Hubby had packed up the remains of Christmas dinner and cleaned the kitchen, R says to him. "Since all of the restaurants are probably closed, how about making me a meal to take with me?"

As it turned out, Hubby and Houseguest spent hours entertaining my ex-FIL long after the kids had bailed and left the reservation. Of course that meant listening to the incessant monologue about his life, his interests, his political opinions. He even went out to his car and brought in a bag of jewelry (that was his hobby before he retired) to show our houseguest every piece "because she was so interested" (she wasn't). And then tried to sell her some because he's hard up for cash.

I've apologized over and over for abandoning them to what is essentially, a problem person that I have inherited. They've been very kind about it, but it was a very stressful day. I slept for a day and a night, and felt 100% better afterwards.

The worst part is that next year I'll feel all guilty because he's alone and invite him again, because I always forget THERE'S A REASON HE'S ALL ALONE!!


Monday, December 26, 2011


Well, I actually had a Holiday from Hell story, but I'm trying to be upbeat and positive. LOL

Maybe I'll share it later in the week if any of you have similar stories to tell.

As many of you guys know, I'm adopted and that after a long search and journey, I finally found my birth family about 10 years ago. My birth father didn't want to acknowledge a relationship, which I respect, but I've developed a close, loving and lasting relationship with my birth mother and her side of the family.

Many people who grow up within their intact biological families take their shared traits and experiences in stride as being part of a tribe. Is it nature or nurture? Really can't tell.

Parents who adopted from my generation were told that we were little "blank slates" ready to be imprinted with whatever they could "nurture" into us. "Nature" had no value in the psychology of the 60's.

Fast forward a number of years. Many adoptees and birthparents who've reunited have reported eerie happenings of similarity and parallels in our lives.

We call it synchronicity.

As an example, one adoptee I know moved to Arizona because her husband was transferred in his job. She had never lived there, didn't know anybody, or have any friends there, so she volunteered at a terminal cancer ward in a local hospital to bring books and visit with patients there. They were there for about a year.

A few years later after they had moved away and when she had a successful search, she found that her birth father was one of the terminal patients she was ministering to.

How freaky is that?

So here is my synchronicity story.

My birthmom's birthday is around Christmas, so I always send her two presents together. One is her favorite perfume, the other is totally random.

One year I was looking at designer purses online. Since I can't afford the REALLY expensive shit (Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, etc), I was looking hard at some lesser designers. One designer I really liked, but I rethought it, because buying somebody a purse is as personal as buying underwear. I passed, and bought her something a little more neutral.

What did she send ME for Xmas? The purse I was loving and thinking of sending to HER!

Another year I sent her a zippy red patent leather tote that I thought she would be stylin' in. Turns out she bought the very same tote for a good friend of hers for Xmas.

The year I was diagnosed with heart failure and lost 100 lbs of water, my skin was really loose and dry. In early December I searched around to find SOMETHING that might help me retain some elasticity and decided to splurge on some Clinique Watertherapy (out of the blue. Normally I buy something cheap like Jergens or Vaseline Intensive Care).

What did she send me for Xmas? A basket of Clinique Watertherapy!

So this year, birth mother made a move farther up the east coast where it gets cold, cold, cold. I sent the same favorite foof, and thought I'd send her something to reflect her new climes. A cashmere scarf and gloves.

What did she send ME?

A fantastically gorgeous scarf and gloves. LOL

We had a huge laugh over it. It was another WTF moment.

I talked to my Mom about it today (my adoptive mom). She was one of the parents that the adoption agency told that "nature" was irrelevant and that I was a little blank slate she could imprint herself on. We had another laugh over it all.

She thought she "broke" me because I ended up so quirky.

Mom's so relieved to know that it's all genetic and not her fault.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and in the Attila house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung on the mantel above,
The guys hope Mom will fill them with love.
(Or better yet, cash)

My offspring were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of I-phones danced in their heads.
Hubby in skivvies and I in my sweats,
Were dreaming of all our holiday debts.

When out of the phone there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
I ran to answer, it was 4 in the morn
Who could it be? It was my first born.

"Are you ok?” I breathlessly said.
"I threw up" he cried, "and I pooped in the bed!”
His voice was filled with such angst and doom;
I convinced him to nix the emergency room.

"It sounds like a bout of the stomach flu.
You will feel better if you follow these rules.
Nothing to eat or drink, just a little water,
and call me later if you start feeling hotter.”

In 24 hours he was a new man,
But then Kitty was puking it up in the can.
We heard on the news of the flu going round
It was another day ‘til she could keep any food down.

The next day my youngest called from his job.
"Mom I’ve got a really big prob.
I’ve been hurling and crapping all morning long,
They won’t send me home and that’s just plain wrong!”

A day after that the kid passed the buck.
Little Guy was awash in a ton of upchuck.
He was so sick; he didn’t fight,
Spent the day in bed sipping broth and flat Sprite.

Two days later I thought we were out of the woods.
Then I woke up and didn’t feel so good.
In fact, I felt sick as a dog;
Was it the flu or the shits from too much egg nog?

Now we’re all better, but stomachs are tender.
If we receive fruit cake, it’s “Return to Sender”.
Christmas dinner is here in our little venue,
So I asked the boys what to leave off the menu.

No eggnog, no pickles, no pumpkin pie,
No bean salad or coleslaw for any one of the guys.
No seafood, corn or even glazed carrots,
And a list of still more; they won’t even dare it.

Christmas dinner in our house will be a bland affair,
But I can serve mashed potatoes with a definite flair.
I wish for the Holidays that your bowels stay tight.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Love from the Attila Family!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

More Angels

Just got done with our final Holiday Show, and I have to say it completely wiped us out!! Although the weather was really crappy and snowy, there was a decent turn-out, and as for volume---I think we did as good or better than most of the vendors there!

My hubby was a saint. Because parking was limited and far away, he came every hour or so, and picked one of us up and dropped one of us off. That way we always had two people at the booth, but was able to have a breather---work two hours and take one off.

When it was my turn, I had peeled off a big chunk of money from "the wad" (as we called it), plus a check someone wrote us. I didn't want to carry around an excess of big bills, so I asked him to take it home and put it someplace safe.

That night, when we got home, we couldn't find it. And he couldn't remember what he did with it. It was a very very busy day for all of us, and we were all exhausted. He tore the house apart, tore his vehicle apart, etc etc etc. I figured it would show up somewhere, and I was too tired to be worried.

The next day I told a lady at a neighboring booth about it, and she gathered a bunch of vendors together and made everybody put their hands up and call on Saint Anthony---the Saint of finding lost things. Then she firmly stated that it would come back to us.

It was very funny and sweet, and I was touched that the other vendors joined in. There is a lot of camraderie with this group of people.

This lady was a hoot. She was manning a fundraiser booth and she took some of our ornaments and looped them around her ears like earrings and went out in the crowd trying to goad people to our booth. She didn't just do that for us, but for other vendors as well. I think she did wonders for our sales.

Little Guy jumped in with the sales too. He shook hands with passersby and introduced himself (and didn't even ask to see their socks!). He saw quite a few friends that he hadn't seen in awhile and had a wonderful time.

When we got home, again exhausted, Hubby still hadn't been able to find the money. We did pretty well without it, but it really was a bit of a blow. He was beating himself up about it, and I finally said, "PLEASE PLEASE STOP!! If it shows up, it shows up, if it doesn't, it doesn't. I'm feeling worse about YOU feeling bad than about the money!!"

On Monday, I sent the Aspiring Adult to the bank to deposit all the checks we had received. About an hour later, the bank called. I thought it was a problem with one of the checks (one lady had almost walked away without signing hers and I wondered if I had missed one).

"Is this Attila the Mom?" the teller asked. I said, why yes it is.

"There's a man here who just brought in a large sum of cash and a check with your name on it. He's been trying to locate you. Could you tell me about this money?"

I did and did it eagerly! LOL

Turns out this guy found the wad in the snow at the shopping center. Apparently it fell out of Hubby's pocket when he went to pick up sodas and stuff.

And he saved it for two days and went to the bank where the check was from to try to trace me through the person who wrote the check. The teller JUST HAPPENED to be the person who processed my deposit a short time earlier and recognized my name.

How freaking neat is that?

I asked her to give him some of the money as a reward, but he refused it. But she DID happen to note his name and where he worked.

I'm gonna send the guy a gift basket.

Now doesn't that sort of restore some of your faith in humanity?

It does for me. :-)

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