Early Stocking Stuffer

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Happy Holidays!

Widower Wednesday: Remembering the Late Wife during the Holidays

Last week I received seven emails from women who were all worried about the same holiday issue: how to deal with the widower doing something to commemorate the late wife during the holidays.

One lady wrote to me concerned that the Thanksgiving dinner she was attending would include a toast to the late wife. Another woman was worried about her widower wanting to scatter her ashes on a ski slope Christmas Eve. A third was worried about the widower who insists on visiting cemetery Christmas morning and how that might affect his attitude the rest of the day. You get the picture.

Holidays can be tough on anyone who’s lost a loved one. Generally, the first holiday season (and the first year for that matter) without the late wife is the hardest because the widower’s learning how to adjust to life without his wife. Once someone’s made it through their holiday without the late wife, the holidays become the second, third, and fourth time around.

My suggestion on how to handle these situations depends on 1) how long ago the late wife died and 2) how the widower acts during these events. For example, I didn’t have a problem with the Thanksgiving toast because this was the family’s first holiday season without her. Instead of focusing on the toast, I suggested she watch on how the widower treated her during the time before and after that moment. Did he seem focused on the late wife and the past or her and the present? Was he introducing her to friends and family or letting her fend for herself? Was he doing his best to make the day festive or did it feel like a wake? So long as the widower was doing his best to make the day special for her and treating her like number one, I didn’t see a problem with the toast.

I was a little more concerned with the widower who wanted to scatter the ashes onChristmas Eve. First he brought up the scattering the ashes after the two of them had already booked their trip. Second the wife had been dead two years and I found it odd that he was choosing their trip to do it. Sure, it might have been his way to saying good-bye and move on, but doing it during a trip that was supposed to create new holiday memories with another woman seemed like awfully bad timing. My suggestion was to talk to him and see what the reason was for doing it during their trip and there was a better time to do it that wouldn’t distract from the fun trip they were to enjoy together.

I was really worried about the widower who wanted to visit the cemetery on Christmas morning. The day held no significance in their relationship aside from the normal holiday stuff. They weren’t married on that day, she didn’t die on that day, nor did any special event in their marriage happen on that day. It’s just something he had done every Christmas (and every other major holiday) since his wife died five years ago. The woman said that after he visits the cemetery he’s comes home quiet and moody – not exactly the best way to usher in the spirit of Christmas. Where the wife’s been dead five years and he won’t go the day before or after Christmas to visit the cemetery, it appears like he’s still grieving and not ready to move on. I suggested that unless the widower was willing to forgo or delay the cemetery visit, it would probably be best if she spent the holidays elsewhere. In the meantime she might want to think about whether the widower is ready to start a new life with her.

Holidays without a spouse can be tough, but remember that once a widower has made the choice to enter a committed relationship with you, your relationship—not his grief—should come first. While there’s nothing wrong with remembering the past, living in the present, counting our blessings, and creating new memories with a new love is a much happier and productive way to spend the holidays.

Random Thoughts November 2010

(With apologies in advance to Thomas Sowell.) San Francisco recently banned toys in kids meals with high fat content in an attempt to help put the brakes on childhood obesity. This makes me seriously wonder if any members of the board of supervisors have kids of their own. Most kids don’t want to go to McDonalds because they can get a toy. Most kids (including my own) want to go because so they can play in the big play area and they like the food. They’ve never, ever asked to go to McDonalds or any other fast food restraint so they could get a toy. And, no, my kids aren’t an anomaly, research backs this up.

Losing weight is as simple as eating fewer calories. You don’t need fancy diets. You don’t need to exercise. Just use some self-control and eat less. Don’t believe me? Ask Mark Haub who lost 27 pounds in two months eating protein shakes, green beans, and twinkies.

The one thing that bugged me about the article about Haub was that they touted that his body mass index (BMI) “went from 28.8, considered overweight, to 24.9, which is normal.” Normal? Never, ever use the BMI as an indication of health or being “normal.” Aside from the fact that everyone has different body types, the BMI measures mass – not health or ideal wieght. When I enter in my height and weight I come out with a BMI of 26.9. (That’s about in the middle of the overweight column.) The reason? I have a lot of muscle mass from daily weight lifting routines. I’d probably have a lot more muscle (and a higher BMI) if I didn’t run 20+ miles a week. Overweight? Not. A. Chance.

Speaking of people with weight problems, here’s one more reason to like New Jersey governor Chris Christie. I wish he was governor of Utah. (Hat tip: Half Sigma)

I’m about half way through NaNoWriMo and have mixed feelings about it. For all my author and wannabe author friends, I’ll post a summary of the experience after it comes to an end.

I managed to take my kids to 4 out of 5 Weber State football games this fall. Of course I missed the one game I really wanted to attend. But all the kids had fun and it was fun family time. They’re already asking when we can buy tickets for next year.

My Broncos are suffering through another ignominious football season. It would be a lot worse, however, if I was a Cowboys fan.

Marathon Girl bought some Christmas music the other day. As a result, it’s all the kids want to listen to. For some reason I just can’t get into any holiday spirit unless it’s after Thanksgiving and there’s snow on the ground. I guess this means I’d be a constant grouch if we ever move to Houston.

I’ve done a bad job of updating my blog roll. I checked it the other day and realized that a lot of the people I listed no longer blog or have changed their blog address. Anyway, I’ve updated it. Check it out when you have a minute. And if you have any blog suggestions, feel free to send them my way. I’m always looking for a good read.

Fidget: A Christmas Story

Fidget: Santa's Smartest and Fastest Elf

Sometime during the fourth year of life, Dad told my brother and me about Fidget.

Fidget was one of Santa’s elves that lived in our house. He watched us all day, every day and carried around a notebook where he’d write down everything we did. As Christmas time approached, he would send all of his notes to Santa for him to determine whether or not we were going to get presents.

Fidget wasn’t a normal elf, Dad told us. He was the fastest and smartest of Santa’s elves. If he was standing right behind you in the middle of the room he knew when you were going to turn around and would run before you could even see him. If you walked into the same room where Fidget was, he could hide before you could see him. He could also squeeze and hide himself into the tiniest places so no matter how hard you looked for him, you could never find it. And to top it off, no matter where Fidget was, he could see what you were doing and would take notes.

As Dad told the story I remember looking around the living room and wondering where Fidget was hiding. Was he hiding behind the leg of the couch just out of site? Maybe he was peering between the heating vents so he could keep warm while he watched us. Perhaps he was peeking from behind a corner only to run away as soon as I looked in that direction. Fidget was fast, after all.

Though Dad told us this story to elicit some better behavior from us during the Christmas season, my brother and I bought the story of Fidget hook, line, and sinker. We spend hours setting up traps hoping to catch him or searching our room hoping he’d never be as quick as Dad said he was. Proof of Fidget’s existence, however, came on Christmas morning. Not only did Santa eat his plate of cookies and milk and leave a thank you note, but Fidget’s ate the food we left for him and left a note of thanks as well.

The story of Fidget went over way better than Dad expected, so he milked the story for all it was worth. No matter what time of year it was, Dad would reference Fidget. If we were fighting or getting under his nerves all he would have to do is say “Fidget’s watching!” and we’d stop fighting. When we moved from Utah to small Colorado town that summer Dad assured us that Fidget knew we were moving and would make the trip with us.

Now, 30 years later, Fidget lives again.

A couple weeks ago, while trying to get Aidan, Steven, and Molly to behave, I blurted out that Fidget was watching them. All three of them stopped and gave me blank looks.

"Who’s Fidget?" Aidan asked.

"You don’t know who Fidget is?" I said quickly feigning surprise.

They all shook their heads.

"Come sit by Dad," I said. "And let me tell you about the fastest and smartest of Santa's elves."

So far, the story of Fidget has worked just like I hoped. Sure, the kids still fight and argue like all kids do, but the mention of Fidget is enough to end the bickering—at least temporarily—and have them look around the room, wondering where he’s hiding.

My only hope is that Fidget is something I can use after this Christmas is over.

Like Dad, I want to milk the story for everything its worth.