Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day: 1969 Vs. 2009

Christmas Presents
1969: A Talking Barbie and Ken! Clearly, I am now a very cool pre-teen who is way past baby dolls.
2009: An LP Conversion System, to digitally copy all my old record albums, along with a Beatles Trivial Pursuit game! Clearly, I am now a middle-aged woman who is totally living in the past.

Christmas Attire
1969: Red velvet dress, white tights with crotch hanging to my knees, and black patent leather shoes. My proud mother thinks she dressed me in style.
2009: Pajamas, ratty robe, socks with holes in the toes. My distressed mother thinks she somehow raised me wrong.

Christmas Outing
1969: Celebrating at Grandma's. Happy to see all my cousins, but wish I was old enough to be seated at the Adult Table. How old do they think I am?
2009: Celebrating at the Holiday Inn. Happy to not have to cook, but truly wish they hadn't given me the senior discount. (I am NOT joking.) How old do they think I am?

Christmas Menu
1969: Ham, All Rotten Potatoes and Suicide Salad. But! My own can of black olives! And pumpkin pie!
2009: Ham, Au Gratin potatoes and Jello Salad. But! Bloody Marys! And pumpkin pie!

Christmas Night
1969: Go to bed when I'm sternly ordered, exhausted but happy. Love my family. Thankful for Santa.
2009: Go to bed as soon as I can, exhausted but happy. Love my family. Thankful for credit cards.

Our holiday traditions may change through the years, but--whether we're young or old--Christmas is the merriest season of all.

And they won't dare give me the senior discount next year. Because you can bet I'll be sitting at the children's table.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sherry's 2009 Holiday Letter

December 2009

Dear Friends and Family,

Oh, what a fabulous year in the lives of the Stanfa-Stanley family!

I know I always start my annual holiday letter with details of all my travels. But I’ve decided exotic islands and quaint European towns are so over-rated. Besides, who wants to hassle with airport security? (Not me, since that last unwarranted skirmish over my carry-on at Detroit Metro. Way overblown! Only two of the four handguns were even loaded!) So this year, I wondered, “Why not find true happiness in my own backyard?” I bought me one of those inflatable pools from Walmart, pumped it up (four unfiltered packs a day haven’t hurt these lungs a bit), slathered myself with baby oil (funny how great I still look in that bikini from 1983—only a bit snug), and cranked the Snoop Dogg! It was like my own private resort, especially when two weeks later—by some wonderful coincidence—all my neighbors installed tall privacy fences!

My two grown children continue to amaze me—far more charming and successful, I’m sure, than any of yours. They are both out on parole now, and I’m lucky to be seeing lots of them, what with their work-release programs and all. We will be taking it easier on the holiday libations this year, since they’re each in court-ordered rehab. (Fortunately, I don’t think spiked eggnog really counts. Doesn’t AA grant a dispensation for that?) And though I hesitate on sharing exciting news prematurely, suffice it to say that one of them may soon be blessing me with the pitter-patter of a grandchild’s feet! His girlfriend, a very successful dancer at a Windsor club, already has five children by five different fathers, so I’m hopeful it’s only a matter of time!

All our pets are perfect as ever, and so very worth the $850 we’re paying in monthly veterinary bills. (Thank God my boys enjoy eating generic kibble too!) We’re thinking of helping out the local pound, which I understand has had some bad press recently. With a dozen dogs roaming the yard, I figure no one will dare call me a crazy cat lady anymore! (“Crazy” is so inaccurate anyway, since the cocktail of meds I’m on has eliminated nearly all the voices in my head!)

Of course, this holiday letter wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t touch on how my career is flourishing! The offers never cease, and I’m sure I’ll have a publishing contract as soon as my last few threats, I mean queries, are received. (A special shout-out to all my fans in prison! My boys sure know how to make friends—and this caring mom figured she’d help by smuggling them a few prescription meds for big-house currency.)

Finally, I’m pleased to report that my own personal life has been greatly blessed this year! I’ve found true love at last (and wouldn’t be surprised if next year’s letter brings you news of wedding bells)! We just need to figure out a few details first, like his telling that dreadful wife of his (she just doesn’t understand him, really), their likely messy divorce (fingers crossed that he gets to keep the double-wide), and those far-fetched mass murder charges he faces. But I’m certain love will eventually conquer all!

In closing, I want to thank you for your treasured friendship and love. Sadly, we don’t keep in touch as often as we should. But I’m hopeful that will change this year, once all your restraining orders against me expire!

Until then, with much love,
Sherry and the Boys

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Keeping the Faith

A peace-keeper most of my life, I tend to shy away from controversial subjects in this blog. Unless you’ve caught me in a highly impulsive or passionate moment, you won’t see me expounding here on my religious, moral or political views. I have plenty of each, but I’m here to make friends, not to alienate them.

I will, however, admit to being not a highly religious person, at least not in the organized religion sense. I am, for those who care to know, a somewhat lapsed Catholic, who attends church primarily at Christmas and Easter. I don’t begrudge anyone their own religious beliefs or practices, but at the same time, I don’t want them on my doorstep carrying a briefcase filled with religious paraphernalia.

Whether or not we are believers in Christ or Buddha or Allah isn’t my point. So at the risk of writing something controversial, I will say what I am is a believer in the power of faith.

Faith is not for everyone; I believe that should be one’s own choice. Some people find comfort in the belief that they, and only they, control the circumstances in their lives. Others find equal comfort in their belief that someone else is looking out for them. That someone else has a master plan.

Faith, to the 17-year-old paralyzed in an accident, means he may someday walk again.

Faith, to the middle-aged meth addict, means she may find the strength to fight and regain her life.

Faith, to the young man whose mother has died, means he’ll see her again one day, in some glorious afterlife.

For them, faith may be hopeful. Faith may be healing. For those who choose to embrace it, I believe some sense of faith probably serves a purpose much like science and medicine and therapy.

I admire these people, the ones who possess a strong, silent faith. One that doesn’t impose itself upon others, but simply brings them personal hope and comfort and strength. And though they may sometimes question it—which is inevitable for even the most devout—maybe it’s faith that helps get them through the most troubling times in their lives.

It makes me wonder, sometimes, if perhaps blind faith is better than no faith at all.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Healthy Reform

All this arguing about healthcare reform is raising my blood pressure. (And who's going to pay for that?)

Not that I don't believe our healthcare system needs some reforming, but I think the wrong people are making the decision. Sure, government officials make some fabulous decisions. (Watergate and chummy relationships with White House and Congressional interns, to name just a couple.) But the fact is, no one's asked me--or you--for our ideas about healthcare.

First off, I think we need to banish those paper gowns. I would gladly take a tax increase in order to choose my exam room attire from a closet full of silk robes in multiple colors and sizes. Perhaps we wouldn't feel like floral paper-wrapped pieces of beef sitting on the exam table. And we'd be certain which way the damn thing is supposed to open. (From the front, right? No, the back! Well, hell, neither way is likely to lead to anything good.)

Next, we need to abolish the freaking doctor's office scale. Why bother, when it's always five pounds too heavy anyway? And if the office nurse must have some way to embarrass us, just let her read aloud the reason for our visit when she calls our name in the waiting room. I would rather choose hearing her announce my name and then adding, "who is here today because she is coughing up gobs of green phlegm" over stepping on the office scale. In fact, I would rather cough up gobs of green phlegm--for weeks--than step on that scale.

I'm thinking for every 15-minute interval we have to wait for our medical appointment, we should be able to bill the office back for our lost work time--at our own salary rate. That, right there, might take care of that pesky copay.

And certainly we'd save the healthcare industry loads of time and money, too, if we did away with all the paperwork and personal questions. I'm guessing the doctor can just safely assume most of us enjoy a daily diet of Big Macs and Twinkies, use our home treadmills to hang laundry, and only floss the morning of our dental appointments.

Let's also forget, shall we, anesthesia and all its related risks and monumental costs. Before any surgical procedures, just ply us with pitchers of margaritas.

And all the money we've saved with these cost-cutting steps? Let's plug it into research for less humiliatingly invasive ways to test for "women's" cancer and bad prostates. I'll bet the doctors would appreciate that as much as the patients. At least the non-sadistic ones.

It's not likely, however, that my suggestions or yours, will be heard. We're merely the healthcare system consumers, not the deciders. What do we know, really, about healthcare reform? Just leave the trivial day-to-day decisions of our lives up to us.

And so tonight, while I'm sitting here in a silk robe, I'm thinking Nutty Bars over Twinkies. And I'm not going anywhere near a doctor's scale.

How about you?