Category Archives: Celebrations

Celebrating Thanksgiving Just for Me

Celebrating Thanksgiving with older kids splitting their time between me and their dad was tricky. Unlike Halloween, the focus of Thanksgiving is on family. It was more challenging to find substitutes for tradition.

My childhood Thanksgivings were spent with extended family or at a buffet in a casino in Lake Tahoe. The food at the buffet was amazing, but I preferred the family gatherings even when I was the only kid.

One of the benefits of marrying into a large family was the awesome Thanksgivings. Despite our large numbers, my in-laws were always welcoming those who weren’t able to share Thanksgiving with their own families. My own parents even joined their family several times, which was convenient for me to have everyone in the same place.

After moving to Arizona, I  hosted smaller Thanksgivings with local family and we adopted family members along the way. Wednesday was pie day, as in the day we prepared for Thanksgiving by baking the stuffing Thanksgiving pieingredients – and of coarse pie. Thursday morning we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while I started cooking, and the kids would complain about the boring parts (now they say the whole thing is the boring part). After eating too much with family and friends, we’d play street hockey or take a walk to make room for the pies we made the day before. Finally, we’d wind down by watching Elf. It was the official transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The remainder of the weekend Fall decorations would be replaced with Christmas, and the TV and radio played non-stop Christmas movies and music.

This year my goal was to have dinner when the teenagers will be home, invite the rest of my loved ones and be grateful for whoever could make it. I planned activities for my grandsons and the older folks too. But like I said before, Thanksgiving is about family. So I adjusted my plan to have a smaller dinner with my parents and boyfriend and join the rest of my family, and my ex-husband, for dessert at my daughter’s house.

I spent some time with my family, but I let my anxiety about the situation keep me from enjoying it and watched my hopes for the day slip away. After a few days I was able to look for ways I can improve future holidays, and I’m choosing to focus on the expressions of love from this Thanksgiving:Thanksgiving

  • A long phone call from my daughter in New York, I was even able to talk to her new boyfriend who appreciated the fun things I do with my family.
  • My mom put a leaf on our gratitude tree that said “spending the day with my daughter”.
  • Overhearing my boyfriend share with my step dad how proud he is of how well I’m doing with my education goals.

There’s plenty of room for improvement as I continue trying to learn to celebrate in a way that brings joy to my heart. Fortunately, the Christmas season is upon us and I’m already practicing what I learned!

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Halloween Recap

Halloween Mummy PizzasAs I was preparing my blog post about celebrating Thanksgiving for just me, I realized it’s important to review what worked for Halloween so I can make any necessary adjustments. I actually had a lot of fun even on Halloween though I didn’t spend it with my kiddos. Not everything turned out like I had planned but it was still okay.

  • I ruined my costume when I tried to clean it.
  • My mummy pizzas weren’t as much of a hit at the work potluck, but my kids enjoyed the leftovers.
  • The pumpkin contest was a flop with only two entries. Mine is non-traditional enough that I left it up as a fall decoration.

But several things were really good.

  • Halloween Bean Bag TossMy boyfriend and I spent the afternoon decorating the driveway for the trick-or-treaters. Including a ginormous chalk jack-o-lantern drawn on the driveway.
  • We played several rounds of Trivia Crack in between the waves of crowds.
  • All but one kiddo played along with our giant bean bag toss. We asked them if they wanted to toss the bean bag for a chance to win bonus candy or prizes. If the bean bag landed in the nose, mouth or eyes they got extra candy. If they landed on the eye brows, they got a banana. We gave away 2 bananas. If the bean bag landed on one of the pumpkin’s eye balls, they got a pineapple. We still had the pineapple at the end of the night.

Our activities kept me busy and interacting with the kids, but it brightened the night of those who stopped by my house. I loved watching the change in their faces from trudging down the street robotically saying “Trick of Treat” to their eyes lighting up for something different. Some of the teenagers were the most fun, they wanted the rules repeated for clarity and focused intently on their tosses. The celebration when one of them won a banana was impressive.

Overall Halloween was a success. I enjoyed my activities and interactions with my neighbors. It’s good to have a baseline game plan for next year.

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October 2015 Review

Halloween bean bag tossWith October 2015 in the books, the holiday season is officially here. But before I get carried away with the festivities, let’s see how life went last month.

.4 – Pounds gained. While I was close to holding steady, I didn’t quite make it

3 – Books read, including Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. I might actually make my goal this year

5 – Beanbags made to play games with the Halloween trick-or-treaters

16 – Projects completed, including finally getting my carpets cleaned

28 – Bagel Mummy Pizzas for my work Halloween potluck

33 – Photos added to Instagram in October

142 – Words added to my bookOctober invites

439 – Just Wanna Be Me pageviews

93,513 – Pinterest views

Top Just Wanna Be Me Posts for October

  1. Thanksgiving Cub Scout Pack Meeting
  2. Pizza Nachos
  3. Book Theme Party Decorations
  4. Halloween Bat Invitations
  5. Family Home Evening Living Prophets
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Celebrating Halloween Just for Me

Halloween MummyHow do you celebrate the holidays? For the last 25 years my answers focused on my attempts to make the holidays memorable for my children. Now that they are adults and teenagers, they aren’t interested in many of the traditions of their childhood. Without the kiddos to concentrate on, I’m left me pondering what makes the holidays important to me and how to celebrate in a way that brings me joy.

It’s back to my word of the year, happiness, and figuring out what makes me happy – just for me.

I keep calling it an adjustment, but it feels like opposite extremes of the spectrum! All those years, bringing my children joy truly made me happy. The flip-side of not having them to focus on sometimes leaves a painful void. It’s hard to not take their lack of interest as a personal rejection – that I’m not important to them, rather than the activity. Realizing what I was doing to myself has helped a little. But I’m still trying to fill the gap.

With Halloween is around the corner (yikes!) and once again I’m looking for how to celebrate that feels like me.

Halloween candyWhen I was a kid Halloween was cool because you dressed up and got candy. With my kids, I stuck to the cute side of Halloween. I loved walking around the neighborhood with my kiddos, visiting the neighbors. But my favorite part was talking and laughing with my kids. Last year, my trick or treating days came to an end when my teenagers chose to hang out with their friends or had to work. I’m so glad I was able to enjoy taking them out one last time the year before, even though my neighbors gave me grief for not sending my teenage kids trick or treating on their own.

My oldest daughter loves the scary side of Halloween, with her haunted houses and zombie walks. But I’ve never been into the spooky parts. Do you know how hard it is to find Halloween activities for adults that don’t revolve around getting scared or drinking?

I bought a costume to wear to work on Friday and we’re having a potluck. I’m thinking about making Monster Munch and Mini Mummy Bagel Pizzas. I also put together a “pumpkin” decorating contest. I gave everyone a print out of a blank pumpkin for them to decorate. We’ll invite the other teams to vote for their favorite.

If I have enough energy, I’ll spend Halloween night in the driveway with festive activities for my trick-or-treaters; paper pumpkins for them to decorate, pumpkin bowling, and a bean bag toss. Maybe a few quick games of Halloween bingo or I could share some Halloween trivia.

I’m not sure if any kids will be interested in taking a break from their candy quest, but it is fun thinking of the possibilities. I think I’ll be okay on my own this Halloween.

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