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Don't Get Plucked During the Holidays

BandMost of us have expectations for the holidays including: family traditions, church activities, food, sports and a variety of other activities. For some, the holidays can be a nightmare - the Bermuda Triangle!

My holidays growing up were basically decent, and mostly comprised of good memories. My mother had some very enjoyable traditions that made Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years a time of expectation and even joy.

I admit it, as I have grown older, holidays have lost their luster.

I have an old friend from Junior High who posted a status on Facebook. It was sad because, after 50+ years of celebrating life at the old family homestead, it is no more. I remember my own feelings as my childhood home was sold, and no longer the possession of my parents. There is something barely describable that is lost - the nostalgia, the memories - well, if they were good ones. That was home.

I am sure most of you don't care about my darn holidays; you have your own to worry about. However; his post made me think about why the holidays have grown a little dull.

As a kid, the magic of special treats, seasonal decorations, presents, visiting friends and neighbors, it was very exciting. We even put on a Thanksgiving Concert (see above) at about 6 AM one year - my folks tried very hard to be excited at such an early hour. They worked hard to make Thanksgiving - all the holidays for that matter - a special time.

Thanksgiving started off with the Macy's day parade on the years we had a TV, and weren't performing. Mom and Dad made cranberry-walnut-apple stuffing, and seasoned a 25 pound turkey; making sure there was something left over for sandwiches to get us through the long weekend. "In at seven, out at two thirty," my mother would say; baster in hand.

The table was set with candles. Mom set about whipping up candied sweet potatoes, mashing spuds, boiling peas, simmering creamed onions, making gravy, and putting ripe olives, celery, and carrot sticks in china hor devour plates. She made the pies in advance: one apple, one cherry, one pumpkin and one minced meat, all ready for desert. My brother made real whipped cream, I polished the silverware, my sister set the table; everyone else seemed to have a place in the preparations.

At 3 o'clock Dad carved up the turkey with a "cheesy" 70's electric knife as we sat down. Hell, we even said grace on that day, and then pushed the creamed onions in the direction of someone that would actually eat them. The house was filled with an unusual warmth back in those days, it was the holiday spirit.

Each holiday had its own traditions in my house. Christmas featured hot chocolate and fruit cake while we opened stocking gifts in front of the fireplace (probably at 5 am) each one of us taking turns. Then there was a special breakfast before going onto the big presents under the tree. It lasted hours. And damn it I didn't ask Santa for any clothes and still can't figure out why there were so many! I even wrote the fat man a letter telling him don't bother, just the BB gun and the Matchbox cars, thanks.

New Years was a big deal too. We had all kinds of finger foods, cheese and crackers, dips, miniature rye and pumpernickel bread, a cheese-ball, chocolates - and my favorite, shrimp. We often spent time with the neighbors drinking, playing Twister and then walking home in the snow.

My mother put a lot of effort into tradition. Even as a young adult, she kept her traditions until she moved to the Midwest in the late 80's. They consisted of yearly rituals from the one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments to the "gelt" (gold foil wrapped coins) in the stockings with walnuts, candy canes and oranges.

Since the time we lived on Old Turnpike Road, both Mom and Dad have both passed away. But it was them that showed me what tradition was made of, doing the same thing over and over each year so that we could look forward to something special. As a Christian, I have also enjoyed going to services for each holiday during the Bermuda Triangle - but something is missing. And this year I seem to have put my finger on it, it's tradition. The past 10 years or so, my older kids have grown up and want to be other places, we've alternated holidays with the in-laws, but not had our own traditions. With an 8-year-old, jobs, commuting and all the rest, we are lucky to cook a turkey, get a tree up, and we haven't once stayed up once to ring in the New Year.

This past few years we've had an open house the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve at the in-laws, and Christmas morning will now be here at home. We haven't been as ambitious about decorating as my Mom, and there are no handcrafted felt stockings; edges cut with pinking shears, adorned with reindeer, snowmen and sequins, but we have something to look forward too. Lots to be grateful for, and now we say grace every night.

Do You Touch Yourself?

When I did I found that not far beneath the remaining belly fat, is an emerging 6-pack!

- I was combing my hair and found that my biceps have moved to the top of my upper arm.
- The manboobs have been replaced with pecs!
- I do have hip bones.
- My wife *Liked* my Facebook status that said I lost 60 pounds.
- I am wearing my old jeans.
- I actually bought some new clothes - underwear too.
- People who have never talked to me in the office in years stopped to say, "you are looking great." (Now my wife will come for lunch and scratch their eyes out.)
- The blood pressure is almost normal.
- I walk 4 flights of stairs 2 times a day without feeling winded.
- I sleep better.
- I have more energy.
- I like going to the gym, even if it is alone.
- Eating out is more of a pain than it's worth.
- MFP folks can really make a difference.
- Without my glasses I look like Arnold in the mirror.

Non-scale victories (NSV) are really more important than just losing weight - enjoy them! 

I still have a way to go, but I feel like I am going to make it. How about you?

Thanks in advance for the comments and votes, you guys are awesome!

Friend me if you like.

Don't you get tired of...

...people who haven't lost any weight, and have all the answers?
...smelly people at the gym?
...people who whine on every status?
...drivers who don't use turn signals?
...drivers who leave thier turn signals on?
...high calorie health food?
...people who blame anything but themselves for their failure?
...when people take 50 napkins, and then throw them all away? names that are not even real words?
...not having enough quarters to dry the wet laundry?
...conspiracy theories.
...double negatives.
...obese people in line at the donut shop?
...when ice cream drips out of the bottom of your cone?
...4 hours chairs at an 8 hour jobs?
...when people leave the cap off the toothpaste?
...sick people who cough near you?
...celebrity worshippers?
...the "yes but" people?
...people who can't complete a sentence without saying "you know"?
...people that cancel plans constantly?
...forks with bent tines?
...websites with horizontal scrolling?
...people who don't care what's going on in our country?
...people who are always late? hard it is to open a new CD?
...unsolicited advice?
...fat rolls? who say how good you are doing, and then bring in pizza and cupcakes?
...obese people with a shopping cart full of junk food "for the kids"?
...people that say they don't like a certain food before they try it. (no one on MFP like that)
Thanks in advance for the votes and comments - be positive! 
Friend me with a message if you like! 

It might be a good thing you are on MFP if….

It might be a good thing you are on MFP if….
…you named your pets’ Burger and Fries. 
…you lick your yogurt cup clean.
…your scale goes to “To Be Continued!”
…you are “employee of the month” at the grocery store and don’t even work there.
…you have a picture of cheesecake on your coffee mug.
…your survival kit has a Pampered Chef hand food-processor.
…you ask, “Did you eat?” instead of “How are you?”
…your bonus rewards at the grocery store are enough to take a family vacation.
…you get Christmas cards from Frank Perdue and Oscar Mayer.
…you actually bought the DVDs from the Food Channel.
…your t-shirt says, “thin might be in, but fat is where it’s at.”
…you have a Burger King crown collection.
…you keep snacks in every pocket.
…you can’t wait for reruns of the Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” commercials
…you introduce your spouse as “The World’s best Grocery Shopper.”
…your first aid kit has granola bars and a Diet Coke IV.
…you think instant meals take too long.
…you DVR food commercials. 
…you weep when some one at the next table doesn't finish thier meal or ask for a doggie bag. 
…Little Debbie holds the mortgage on your home.
…you think that Jenny Craig is the devil. make paper jewelry necklaces with food wrappers. think that Twinkies are soul food. buy a laptop, and instinctively ask the clerk to super-size it. think that a day without chocolate is like a day without running water and electricity. have Oreo cookies in the dentists office – might as well get your moneys worth.
...your first stop at Walt Disney World is the food court in Epcot. ate the Christmas fruitcake the everyone else re-gifts.
Some days it is good to laugh at ourselves. :)
Thanks in advance for the commments and votes. You guys and  gals are amazing!

Things I Want to Say at the Gym, but Haven't Yet!

Gym folks are mostly pretty cool, but there are some! See if you can guess who I am talking to:
- Is that all you've got?

- Could you put your makeup on in the bathroom?

- Did you fart on this machine, you know I have sit there?

- Dude, unless you lost a testicle, quiet down over there.

- Why would you put milk in your water bottle?

- Hey man, don't they sell men's clothing at Walmart?

- If you are just going to sit, there is a bathroom down the hall.

- Do you mind if I push this up to 10 miles per hour, I just want to see how you'll hold up?

- I was watching Funniest Home Videos, and you remind of the one with the dog on the treadmill.

- Maybe you should wait a few years before you try wearing a tank top. It's just a suggestion.

- That treadmill, it's broken, yeah, yeah, and so is that one. The one over there, it's like new.

- Do you think we could have something besides Ellen and Bob the Builder on one of these TVs?
- If you stop there again, it's 7 years bad luck. 
Thanks in advance for the votes and comments!
Friend me if you like, but write a note. :) 

San Francisco Here I Come!

Well, tomorrow  I fly out. What a fast week, and a great vacation. I love California. I visted the Redwoods NP, San Francisco, PT Reyes, Armstrong Redwoods SP, Sonoma Coast SP and my favorite, Yosemite! Here are a few shots that you might enjoy!







Traveling in the Redwoods

Traveling is always interesting. It is one of the things that love. Northern California is a vastly different culture from the one back home in Boston. I am most impressed with the drivers, especially the ones that use directionals. At home that is how we tell who the tourists are, they have blinding turn signals. In fact, until closer inspection, I thought Volvos didn’t even come with them.

Other than my awe of drivers who stop before the crosswalks, and drivers who pretty much do the speed limit, I have seen some awesome sites; the majestic redwoods, the mighty Pacific and Shasta Dam in the national forest.

It sure is easy to get cardio when there are miles of trails and scenic walk ways!

I really enjoy the US National Parks. I lived at the Cape Cod National Seashore for 21 years. I could see the Salt Pond Visitors Center out my bedroom window! I have been to 36 of them across the country including The Grand Canyon, Glacier, Shenandoah and even Buck Island National Reef in St. Croix.

Most folks are mountain or ocean people. I am both, although if I had to pick one, it would be the ocean. The Pacific Northwest offers both in pretty close proximity!

The redwoods are easily in my top 5 favorite places on earth, although it is unfair to compare them to another. I took a 4 mile hike at Prairie Creek State Park. The warm summer-like air drifted gently below the majestic trunks filled with the sweet scent of redwood and fern; all set to the symphony of a misting brook.

Around each corner another giant stood quietly secluding the history of the last millennia. I stood for a moment to savor the sound of quietness. All was well until I rounded a corner and saw a 3 foot snake! It sure tried to dislodge my breakfast.

More when I return from Yosemite.
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