No Good Deed

A coworker brought four dozen donuts to work Friday.  I’m sure he thought he was doing something that would be appreciated by everyone in the area.  It’s traditional for people to devour donuts.  They are provided at meetings, breakfast meet-ups, church “coffee and donuts” time before worship.  It’s a thing.  People love it.  I’m sure he thought he was being nice.  He anticipated thanks.

He got anything but.

When I walked in the door, Greek yogurt riding along in my bag, I saw the donuts and the first thought that went through my head was, What jerk brought donuts?!

I stood in front of the boxes and lifted the edges just enough to see the types.  Two dozen glazed.  One dozen chocolate icing.  One dozen blueberry cake.  Damn.

I’ll just eat one.  It’s ok, I thought to myself.

No it’s not!  It’s never ok.  Donuts are terrible for you.  Think of all the working out you’ve been doing.  You want to make progress.  Don’t eat a donut.  Eat the yogurt, I responded sternly.

Fine.  I dropped the lid and began to walk around the table.  But… But cake donuts aren’t quite as bad for you.  Are those blueberry?  Maybe I should see exactly what kind those purplish ones are.

Don’t do it!  Just walk away!

I studied the boxes some more and then picked up one of the cake donuts.  When I sniffed it, I accidentally touched it to my nose.  Great!  Now you’ve touched it with your nose.  You are going to have to take it now.

Like you didn’t already have to take it after you touched it.

Quit splitting hairs.  This is all your fault.  Jeez!  You have no self-control.

Whatever.  We’re two sides of the same coin.  We’ll skip the yogurt.  Minimize the calorie hit.  Besides, that yogurt has 10g of fat, half of it saturated.

I went to my desk and shamefully ate the donut.  When I learned who brought them a short time later, I harassed him for putting such temptation upon me.  A handful of others chimed in.  No one seemed happy that he had brought the donuts.  Well, except the youthful recent college grad who ate two because she doesn’t yet have to worry about where the calories go.  And the biggish guy who works out all the time but also eats whatever he wants and doesn’t care.  Everyone else was definitely annoyed.  The donut bringer hunched his shoulders and defensively said, “No one is making you guys eat them.”

Sometime later, a regular visitor entered our area.  He’s very loud and not someone I ever would have pegged as a health nut.  I knew he was there the moment he walked in the door because his voice boomed across the room:  “WHO BROUGHT DONUTS??!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  THOSE THINGS ARE HORRIBLE FOR YOU!

I died laughing and headed to the front of the room to join the conversation.  So did the donut bringer, a few minutes later.  He glared at us as he walked by and mumbled, “I’m not a jerk.”

Some of us may have had good intentions to not eat the donuts and some of us may have been able to keep to those intentions all morning.  But I couldn’t help but notice that before lunch, all the donuts were gone.

When I told my husband, he was aghast at our response.  “If I were him,” he said, “I’d bring donuts every Friday.  Just because you guys hate it.”

But here’s what I found fascinating (and cause for hope).  We have a snack bar full of junk food and cheap canned soft drinks in the fridge.  People bring candy and other junk and leave it on that table by the door.  But people didn’t like seeing the donuts.  Just a few years ago, no one would have made a scene.  Maybe, just maybe, we are all starting to learn.

Then again, someone set an apple on the table next to the donuts.  The donut bringer indignantly exclaimed, “Ok.  Who put the apple next to my donuts?”

I thought it was a pretty funny statement.  But not nearly as funny as the fact that the lone apple was still sitting there at the end of the day – long after the donuts were gone.  So I took it, intending to eat it.  It wasn’t nearly as tasty as the blueberry cake donut.  I forced myself to take several bites before dropping the remainder in the trash.

Advertisements

The Best Christmas Ever

Our Christmas tree is still up and decorated. In fact, Hal just turned the lights back on today. The first week after Christmas was spent out-of-state, visiting family. The next, out-of-town to celebrate our anniversary. The most recent was full, first with a funeral and then with resuming school and work. I am telling you this so that you understand it is still Christmas at this house, and thus not inappropriate at all for me to finally get around to blogging about the best Christmas ever. I was too busy enjoying it to write about it at the time.

Christmas 2012 did not get off to a particularly auspicious start. The 11:00pm Christmas Eve service was wonderful, don’t get me wrong. We all attended in our pajamas, including my husband in his footed smiley-face PJ’s that I had just given him. That drew a few looks.

No, the service that heralded the arrival of Christmas Day was nice and the drive home was uneventful. I was worried about what such a late bedtime would do to the day, but not too much. The problems started when we got home. Hal did not want to use the bathroom before retiring to his bed and a tantrum ensued.

Once all the children were settled, I needed to wrap just two or three presents and stuff the stockings. That took well over an hour. I finally went to bed around 1:30 or 2:00 and wondered how late the children would let me sleep.

Not long, as it turned out. A serious thunderstorm moved in by about 2:30, waking Hal. I stumbled into his room to comfort him. I struggled for a long time before I got back to sleep. The wind picked up and a loud metallic thwacking sound woke me around 5:00. I asked my husband if that was the new roof coming undone.

“Probably.”

“Do we need to do anything about it?”

“Like what? I’m not going out there in this.”

He had a point. Besides, the old shingled roof was still under the metal of the new one. No way I was getting back to sleep, however. I lay there listening until the sound changed to something bounding down from the roof. And then silence.

“There,” my pragmatic husband said, “It blew off. Happy?”

Before I responded, the next strip of the crown began to rattle. Sleep was a distant memory by this point.

Things improved once I gave up on sleep, though. My husband had once again managed to slip something under my pillow undetected. He hates wrapping, so this has become our new tradition. I already knew I was getting a Kindle Paperwhite, but I still don’t know when he managed to slide it under there.

As I passed through the living room, I saw a package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in my stocking that I had not put in there the night before. So he hadn’t forgotten about my stocking either – another nice surprise. I added the toppings to the breakfast strata started the night before and put it in the oven.

Then it was stockings and presents time. Hal passed out the stockings, such a good Santa’s helper. All of them distributed gifts. Just like last year, though, there were no names. Last year were numbers and they’d have to ask me which number was whom. This year, they were letters. Perhaps this will become a new Christmas puzzle. As they heard who was each letter, I asked them what the formula was. I gave them a hint that I couldn’t put the appropriate leter on Daddy’s gifts because it was a duplicate of someone else’s. Daddy figured it out (2nd letter of their middle names). No one else did.

Jane unwrapped four nested boxes, each wrapped individually, before uncovering her mp3 player. Daryl received a used Nintendo DS, given to us by a friend to give to the kids. He immediately declared this the best Christmas ever.

And so it was, but not because of the gifts. When we were done unwrapping, we ate the strata. And then… then we just were. Most Christmases would have seen the hustle and bustle of preparing for a long trip. We would have been packing suitcases and piling into the car to travel the four hours or so to relatives in Oklahoma.

But Oklahoma was forecast to get hit by a blizzard. We had decided the day before that we would delay our trip by 24 hours. We had no idea how life-changing that decision would be.

After breakfast, we just enjoyed ourselves. We set Pandora to play Christmas music. People tried out their new electronics. We played some games and worked some puzzles and read and ate and relaxed. And shouted in excitement when we looked out the window and saw snow! Snow, on Christmas Day, in Texas. No one even changed out of their pajamas, except to go play in the snow.

I looked up at my family at one point and wondered, Is this what Christmas is like for other people? Christmas has never been a relaxing time for me, not even in childhood.

As a child, I remember opening presents at home and then almost immediately leaving the house to go… somewhere. Christmas Day usually included 2 or 3 extended family gatherings. The usual routine was to head over to my maternal grandparents’ house for lunch and Christmas with my mom’s family. At some point, sometimes before lunch and sometimes after, mom would drive us to my paternal grandmother’s house and we’d have Christmas with my dad’s family. Mom would then pick us up and we’d have dinner and Christmas at my step-dad’s parents’ house with his family.

It got even more complicated when I married. My husband brought with him Christmas obligations to his dad’s family, his mom’s family, and his step-dad’s family. Some families adjusted to celebrating Christmas on a day other than the 25th, but we usually still had at least two places to be that day, often more.

Shortly before we had our first child, we decided that we wanted to be able to attend our own church’s Christmas Eve service. That meant attending worship and then hitting the road, arriving at my mom’s house around 2:00 Christmas morning.

When the kids arrived, my husband began to agitate for change. He wanted to celebrate Christmas at our house. I wanted to avoid hurting people’s feelings. The compromise that stood for years was the Christmas Day travel. This allowed us to worship at our home church, open presents at our house, and still make it to Christmas obligations back home. I had been trained to believe that the right thing to do was to cram everyone in, jumping from one place to another, making sure we made an appearance everywhere.

This time, though, we actually found ourselves with no family meeting on Christmas Day. We still planned to travel that day, so suggested to my dad that we celebrate that night. And then we got word of the weather. There was no problem changing plans with dad. No reason we had to travel that day. No place to be until 6pm the day after. Why not stay home? It was such a novel idea for us.

The experience was ground breaking for me. Earth shattering. Tears-down-the-face significant. I sat at the table, watching my family just exist, with no place to go, no obligations to meet, no phone calls or appointments or errands, and I cried. My husband looked at me and smiled.

“Do you need a hug?” he asked. I nodded and he rose from the table.

“I’ve never had this before,” I said into his chest as he hugged me tight. “Not ever, not once in thirty-eight years. I’ve never just stayed home and relaxed on Christmas Day. This is amazing.”

We didn’t have to speak the words then or now, but we know what we are doing next year. The 26th is soon enough to travel for family. The peace of Christmas will descend on our household again. It is the only day that we can truly just be still and be together. I never understood how special that kind of time is. But now that I’ve experienced it, I am not giving it up.