When Slipping Into Something More Comfortable Means Flannel Pajamas

Each Christmas for the past 20 years, my husband has given me a gift from Victoria’s Secret. Typically, it’s an assortment of practical underclothes, plus something a little sexy. I always look forward to this gift. To me, it affirms that in his eyes, I’ve still got it.

That’s why I was surprised, and a little dismayed, when this year instead of a lacy bra or negligee, I pulled a pair of flannel pajamas out of the VS bag.

“Is this what it’s come to?” I asked my husband.

“I thought they were kinda cute,” he said.

He meant it. He was truly tickled that the pajamas had tiny champagne glasses scattered all over them.

VictoriaSecretPajamas

I thanked him, but inwardly I was concerned. It seemed we were crossing a new threshold in our marriage, one in which comfort and coziness and cuteness was superseding passion. I envisioned hot nights ahead in our bedroom; as in me sweating under the covers in my flannel pajamas while he snored beside me.

If only this were the worst of the story.

The next day, while balancing our checkbook, I saw the carbon copy of the check he used to pay for the flannels. Written on the memo line was Mom.

Mom! This was how he thought of me?

For a moment, I considered that maybe he’d intended to buy the pajamas for his mother, but decided at the last minute to give them to me. She and I were roughly the same size. Then I remembered he’d also gotten me the usual practical items, so the “mom” in the memo had to be me.

I reasoned that perhaps because he’d been shopping with our teenaged son that day, he was too embarrassed to buy something racy. That could also explain why he was thinking of me as “mom”.

That night, emboldened by a glass of wine, I asked, “Did you mean to buy the pajamas you gave me for your mother?”

He looked confused. I explained about the memo.

“No,” he said. “It was crazy in the store that day. I don’t even remember writing that.”

This I could accept. Once I had referred to him as “daddy” to my mother instead of by his name. Probably it was because I was so used to referring to him as “daddy” to the kids. At the time, I was horrified by the slip. Now I’m glad for it because it’s helping me understand the memo.

But there was still the matter of the flannels.

“I wanted you to be warm,” he said. “You’re always complaining how cold you are.”

Not wanting to sound like a complete ingrate, I didn’t point out that I’ve been complaining about being cold in winter for 20 years, yet only now is he buying me flannels. Perhaps he was growing more thoughtful with age. That or he’s tired of me cranking up the heat at night.

I found a quote that’s helping me see this episode in a more positive light:

“The most romantic story isn’t Romeo and Juliet who died together, but Grandma and Grandpa who grew old together.” ~Unknown

Probably it was a man who came up with this quote. Some Nicholas Sparks type who buys his wife flannel pajamas for Christmas.

We Are Each Other’s Angels

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer, miracles, God, and the mysteries of the universe. Maybe it’s the Christmas season prompting such thoughts. Or maybe it’s because I’ve reached a point in life where I’m pondering the purpose of it all.

There is something to be said for magical and seemingly unexplainable moments, such as:

  • Running into a person you haven’t seen in years, exactly at the moment you’re thinking of him or her.
  • Having an idea, goal or dream, and suddenly a door of opportunity opens up for you in an unexpected way.
  • Meeting a stranger by random chance who immediately feels like a long-lost friend, lover, or soul mate.

I imagine all sorts of little miracles going on behind the scenes of our lives. Some we see; some we don’t even know happened. Maybe it was the tree that fell in the middle of the road, which forced you to take a different route, which prevented you from getting into an accident. Or maybe it was being detained at work, which kept the tree from falling on your car in the first place.

Then there are the helpful people that come along just when we need them. A friend who mentions something in passing that leads you to an answer you’ve been searching for. A teacher or counselor who connects you with someone who helps you to achieve a goal.

Maybe it’s as simple as the neighbor who shovels your driveway, knowing you’re not up to the task. Or it could be as complex as someone who protected you from harm or even saved your life.

Think about all the times when you have been that helpful person.

I have a theory about these things. I believe there are angels and guides watching over us. I also believe that we are each other’s angels right here on earth.

I’m not religious, but I believe in a higher power, or intelligence, that governs our universe. And I don’t believe it can possibly handle all of the day-to-day prayers, wishes, hopes, dreams, traumas, problems, and goals of each human being on earth. It must have helpers. Perhaps some of these are celestial beings; perhaps some are those of us right here on earth.

It’s the ultimate in divine delegating. Kind of like a CEO of a large corporation who has a hierarchy of managers working under him or her to get things done.

When it comes to helpers, either being one or needing one, prayer is essential. It alerts the powers-that-be to a problem or situation that needs immediate attention. Prayer also sends positive energy out into the universe.

The human mind cannot fully explain the endless mysteries of the universe, nor does it need to. This is where faith comes in. To have faith is to believe that something greater than us is looking out for us, even if we don’t know exactly what that something is.

Every day we can be open to the possibility of a miracle.

Every day we can send our gratitude and thoughts of others’ well-being out into the universe through prayer.

Every day we have the chance to be somebody’s angel.

How awesome is that?

Why I’m a Last Minute Christmas Shopper

The older I get, the more I understand why my grandmother started giving checks for Christmas gifts.

I hate Christmas shopping.

I hate traffic jams at the mall and stores torn up like an apocalypse hit.

I hate wandering aisles, sifting through piles of stuff in search of the perfect gift.

I hate hearing news stories about people getting into fights over the latest gadgets.

I hate spending my hard-earned money on crap that ends up broken or stuffed away.

I especially hate the rampant commercialism and greed that has taken over the Christmas season.

buy-less-this-Christmas-consumer-free-Christmas

Whew, that’s a lot of hating. Sorry about that.

To me, it just seems crazy that for a month or so each year the entire country goes on a massive buying binge. I’d blame it on the advertisers, but the truth, as I see it, is that Christmas has become an excuse for people of all ages to engage in large-scale self-indulgence disguised as giving.

I mean, you give, you expect to get back. Not all of us, but many. We want gifts, and not just on our birthdays.

I know — I’m such a Scrooge, but the insanity of it all, and the expectation by society that I must spend a small fortune unnecessarily once per year, really ticks me off. It’s one of the reasons why I started waiting until the last minute to do my Christmas shopping. Aside from enabling me to avoid the dreaded deed until absolutely necessary, there are benefits to waiting until the last minute.

Last minute shopping forces you to be efficient. You don’t have hours to waste strolling through store aisles, agonizing over finding the perfect gift. You go in, get a gift, and get out.

(I suppose online shopping is similar in this way, but I like to see in person and touch items before I buy them. It gives the act some semblance of meaning.)

Last minute shopping requires you to be creative and think outside of the box, as in big box stores. Since you know their merchandise is going to be picked over or gone, plus it’s generally cheap junk, you’re more apt to hit up local small businesses. That’s where you’ll find unique, more personalized gifts, many hand-crafted by local artisans. You also get to chat with the owners and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you’re supporting local businesses.

You’re apt to spend less money when you shop last minute. It’s easier to lose track of spending when you’re doing it in smaller chunks over the course of several weeks or months. You’re also more likely to succumb to making unplanned last minute purchases as Christmas nears.

By contrast, when you wait until the last minute to do all of your shopping, you have a clearer sense of how much money you’re doling out. You’re more likely to rein in the spending if you see it going overboard. You can’t make unplanned last minute purchases because you’re out of time.

(Here’s an article I found that supports the theory that last-minute shoppers spend less: http://www.cio.com/article/2863173/online-marketing/why-last-minute-holiday-shoppers-are-worth-less-to-you.html)

Last minute shopping frees you up to enjoy the fun parts of Christmas. These might include trimming the tree, holiday lights, and gathering with family (well, not everyone finds this last part fun); watching movies like It’s a Wonderful Life; Charlie Brown’s Christmas, which turned 50 this year; seeing the delight on little one’s faces when they open their gifts from Santa; and listening to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas over and over because it reminds you of your grandmother, the one who wrote the checks.

Let us also remember the true meaning of Christmas, often forgotten in the buying frenzy: Jesus’s birthday. We can honor His spirit by spreading peace, love, and good will this holiday season. None of this costs a dime, but it’s needed far more in this world than the latest gadget.

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Merry Christmas!