I just wrote a piece for my travel blog, that details our Christmas morning. So far, it’s been a nice holiday. I asked for a new vacuum cleaner, and Bill delivered a cordless Dyson. I hope it will be less cumbersome and annoying to use than the canister vacuum I’ve had for the past seven years. I just tried it out, although it’s not yet quite fully charged. All I gotta say about that is that our carpets are pretty disgusting. A new vacuum was definitely needed and appreciated, even though one of my former bosses once told me that no one should get appliances for Christmas. She criticized me for giving my mom a new hand mixer. That boss and I didn’t get along, as you might have imagined. I’m one of those people that other folks tend to love or hate. 😉
I’m better at Christmas shopping than Bill is, because I know what he likes and needs, and he’s easy to please. I’m a lot harder to shop for, because I have a tendency to get what I want when I want it. The vacuum cleaner was an outlier. I’ve been eyeing the Dyson cordless vacuums for ages, but never pulled the trigger. One of the reasons I hate vacuuming is because it feels futile. The vacuums never seem to do a good job– even other Dysons I’ve had have not been very useful. But downgrading isn’t the answer, either. I used a Dirt Devil when we first got back to Germany, and it lasted about a year before it started dropping parts. Our dogs shed a lot, and Noyzi, in particular, leaves tons of hair. So I needed something lightweight and portable. We’ll see how long I like the new vacuum, but I suspect we’ll get a couple of good cleanings from it.
As usual, I bought a lot more stuff for Bill than he did for me… although he did get some higher dollar items for me. And a few of the things he got were kind of surprising. Like, he bought me a weighted blanket, even though I just bought two new duvets for the bed. But maybe the blanket will turn out to be something I didn’t know I needed. And he bought me three shawls in different colors, but with the same patterns and in colors I probably wouldn’t necessarily choose. I do wear a lot of shawls on the rare occasions when we go out. He also got me a new chair for my office, which has heating and massage capabilities. I do need a new chair! I wear mine out pretty regularly.
As I watched Bill put the new cover on the weighted blanket, it occurred to me… every day is a gift with Bill. I smiled, and blurted “You don’t really have to buy me anything for Christmas. You have already given me the best life.”
It doesn’t matter what we’re doing or where we are. Some places are better than others are, of course. I remember when we lived in our first slummy apartment in Fredericksburg, Virginia on Christmas day, back in 2002. It was just weeks after our wedding, and we were pretty broke. We still had a nice celebration, with a tree and cheap ornaments from Rose’s, which was a discount store in the nearby strip mall. We had a nice meal and listened to music on the cheap CD player I owned that I had to weigh down with a jewelry box, because the lid wouldn’t stay down on its own.
The following year was full of challenges, as we lost our first rescue dog, CuCullain (C.C.) to a rare mycobacterial infection, my car got broken into, and Ex went on the warpath to try to get me under her thumb. We moved to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, into a Craftsman house that was meant to be “temporary” and came from a kit from Sears. I actually loved that house, even though it had its maintenance issues. We were there for three years, until we moved into a “brand new” house a mile away, where I mostly lived alone while Bill was in Iraq. We left that house after about eight months, as Bill finally rotated out of Virginia and into Germany. We had Flea and MacGregor, rescue beagles from BREW, a beagle rescue in northern Virginia.
Then, in 2007, we moved to a town near Stuttgart, Germany the first time as a couple, and we both fell in love with living here. We hoped to get three years, which is standard, but had to come back to the States a year early. We moved into a huge rental house in Fayetteville, Georgia, where we lost Flea to cancer, and added Zane to our family. Bill learned to brew beer. We spent two Christmases there, out in the woods with a family of deer, some black snakes, at least one armadillo, and chimney swifts who chirped incessantly for a month. I remember one of those Christmases was when I experienced my very first “White Christmas”.
Then, the post in Georgia where Bill worked closed down, so we had to move again. In 2011, we moved to North Carolina, where we had two more Christmases in different woods– one of those years, we visited my sister, who lives in Chapel Hill, not that far from Sanford, the town where we were living. We lost our sweet beagle, MacGregor, and adopted Arran, who is still with us.
In 2013, we moved to Converse, Texas, a San Antonio suburb, where I assumed we’d end up staying… but no jobs were forthcoming in 2014, when Bill retired. We moved back to another town near Stuttgart, where we spent four years, and now we live near Wiesbaden, and have been here for four years. Half our stuff is in storage in America. It’s hard to feel rooted, since Germany isn’t our official place of origin. And yet, as long as Bill is with me, I’m home and happy. And I can’t believe we’ve been in Germany for eight years. We lost Zane in 2019, but now we have our first non beagle rescue, Noyzi the Kosovar street dog!
We have worked together to make a great life, and we have succeeded, in spite of all the kvetching I do on my blog posts. I really do feel so fortunate for all we have, and the incredible man with whom I get to share my life. But honestly, we could be in a tent somewhere, and I think I’d be happy on some level, just because I’m with the right person… and he’s with me. I am amazed by all of the great stuff we’ve managed to do together, in spite of the pettiest of annoyances. And today, I was just reminded of that and just feeling so grateful… even to Ex, who divorced Bill. If she hadn’t done that, who knows where I would be? We make each other laugh, teach each other new things, and make life better for each other every day. I need to remember this feeling for when the going gets tough, as I know it will.
I know 2023 will have its challenges. I expect we’ll be losing Arran in 2023, because he has cancer. But we are lucky to live in a country where we can enjoy him for a little bit longer without going bankrupt. And there’s always the threat of something bad happening… but as long as I’ve got “my Bill”, it all seems bearable. No matter where we are, it “feels like home…” Today, I’m feeling really grateful, and I just wanted to share.
I might redo this song… maybe even today. Why not?
Younger daughter sent a video the other day while she was holding her newest baby. He was obviously hungry and was trying to get to her boobs, but he was so cute and good natured about it. I feel very grateful that she shares him with us, as well as her other two adorable kids. It’s so nice to have her and her husband back in our lives. It just goes to show that, in the long run, love always wins.
I hope you’re having a good holiday, if you celebrate. If you don’t, I hope you have a good day. Now, back to the festivities.