It’s funny how as you go day after day you sometimes feel as if your life doesn’t change at all.  But pictures remind you of how things used to be.  Two years ago Christmas Eve Tony and I were in the hospital waiting for test results.

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I miss holding that hand by the way.  Still makes me a bit teary to see that hand and I remember how nervous he was before going in because he thought for sure his colon cancer had come back.  It would only be a week later on New Years Eve that he’d begin the first of many hospital stays in the last year of his life. 

One year ago Christmas Eve?  Hannah and Jacob moved in!

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I remember taking that picture above and wondering how I got there.  It was so soon after Tony’s death and things were happening so fast, but as I can look back on this last year, I would have been lost without them.  They made me get up on the days I didn’t want to.  Made me laugh at silly stuff like Rummy kissing my face if she ever saw me remotely shed a tear which would inevitably make me laugh.  I never could have worked my job through all the construction of the front of the house if Hannah and Jacob weren’t here to meet the workers.  They saved me from a year of eating deep dish pizza every day and drowning myself in wine each night if I were to come to an empty house.

This year?  I am happy.  I think I spent the last year thinking about all the things I missed out on a future with Tony, when now I am in a place where I can look forward to what is going to come.  I feel like I have a purpose, not sure what it is yet, but feeling sorry for myself at being a widow at 47 years old isn’t going to bring him back, and I was given a gift of true love which I know some people never find.  And while I wish it would have lasted my lifetime, I was lucky for the 14 years I got to be with him.

So my Christmas Eve 2015 looked like this:

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We have a safe roof over our heads, I have a wonderful friend Whitney who made my living room beautiful, Hannah and Jacob are doing great in school, my step-son Joe and his wife are healthy and happy. 

One of our traditions was to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, and last year I couldn’t bring myself to do it (and if I did, I don’t remember because I probably drank wine and cried through the whole movie!) but this year I was ready to watch it.  Except I couldn’t find it.  But I’ve seen the movie so many times I can pretty much recite the whole movie from beginning to end like a play if I had to.  But it’s always the end that makes me tear up when George opens the book at the end of the movie.

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Because of all of you, my friends – that I have met in real life and others whom I’ve never met but consider to be internet neighbors, have lifted me up so many times this past year and I thank you for giving me the wings to get through this year.  I have no idea what’s on my horizon, but I am in a good place, and I couldn’t have gotten here without all of your encouragement and virtual love.  So thank you!


I had an interesting Christmas dinner.  Tony’s sister is dating her first ex-husband.  For reals.  They married and divorced quite young, and their son Chris was born right around the time of the divorce.  Her ex-husband moved on, and basically were out of their lives for some 30+ years.  Tony’s nephew I think has met him a couple times in the past few years, but I wouldn’t have considered it a true father/son relationship.  I think just too much time had passed?  Anywho, her ex-husband wrote her a letter at the end of the summer, basically apologizing for ditching them, and through the course of emails, which led to texts, which led to nightly phone calls, they are now dating again.   And you know what?  I’ve never seen my SIL that happy before!   She’s like a school girl in love and I couldn’t be happier for her.

It may take the family some time to wrap their brain around it, and I get it.  My PIL had to help her out when her son was young, and I am sure Chris feels snubbed that he never got to grow up with his Dad and now his Dad is dating his Mom at age 34.   It would be the equivalent of me dating Hannah’s Dad and having him sit at the Christmas dinner table!  I thought it might have been awkward, but it was a great time.  Tony’s uncle (who gave me a very generous gift card – thank you!) and son came from Iowa too – which was very nice.   Turns out I know how to cook for a crowd! 

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The dogs did great and were dressed in their Christmas shirts.  I was worried having new people in the house how they would react, but they did just fine.  I’ll be sharing two recipes later this week – Hannah’s thin sliced potato dish and my Mom’s brussels sprouts dish – I don’t even like them, but it was made with craisins, bacon and balsamic glaze.  I baked a ham in the oven and did turkey breasts and wings on the Weber grill.  Jacob’s Mom also joined as and it was a wonderful afternoon of good family and food.

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We couldn’t get a picture where everyone’s eyes were open – sorry!   It was around 40 degrees and you can see my grass is still green in the back yard – so crazy!  Although we are expecting snow and ice today with a winter storm warning, so it will be short lived.  All the pics were taken with Hannah’s big gift from me and Jacob – a Nikon D3300.  She cried when she opened the box, much like I did five years ago when I got mine.

I got a lot of great things – the kids got me an AppleTV. Holy cow can that be a time suck.  But it was also a good reward system.  If I went to the gym, I could come back and watch an hour t.v.  If I did two loads of laundry, I could watch another hour of t.v. 

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Hannah got some Boston Terrier loot, Jacob got me that kick ass casserole dish.  My step-son and DIL painted me that snowman plate and tiny snowman – and I literally told my DIL Lizz that I’d probably use that as my dinner plate all year round.  I got a sharing necklace for me and Hannah – one says “I love you. . .” and the other says “to the moon and back.”  I also got a new cutting board.  My OCD daughter hated my wooden cutting board because all she could think of was all the bacteria that could be hiding in it, so this one is plastic and really nice.  And the AppleTV?  I can see my phone on the t.v. and show pictures, look at Instagram and Facebook on the t.v. – not sure if you can tell but I took a picture of me sitting on the couch (green socks!) and I can view that pic on the t.v.  And to think I grew up with only 6 t.v. channels!

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So from my table to yours, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by healthy friends, family and good food.  Those are the most important things!  Tomorrow I’ll recap my Christmas dinner with my Mom and sisters family – it was good to get together and just laugh at what Tony used to call the “unseen humor.” 

Hooray for another three day work week!  Make it a great day!