Wednesday, December 23, 2015

We Need a Little Christmas


At least I'm not the only one.  From my clients to my friends to other bloggers, I've noticed there's just a little less Christmas this year.  In our part of the continent, the weather has been unseasonably and strangely warm.  Things are muddy and drab and the absolute worst is that we do not have our unlimited refrigeration/freezing on our decks, patios, and terraces.  Often I can use my terrace as a freezer and my garage as a refrigerator for the barrage of holiday pots and pans.  So my refrigerators and freezers are crammed, and I'm taking things to a friend's freezer this afternoon.
Whatthefuckever. I will deal with it. 
Is your family the holiday fighting type? I have one side of extended family that is, but I keep my involvement with that to a curt minimum.  My immediate family, though, is usually not one to blow up.  I am absolutely not a yeller. First of all, it takes a lot to ruffle my feathers.  I'm usually too busy fighting with myself to remember to get mad at other people.  Second, when I am angry, I fight more with ice than fire.  I'm not one to hurl insults.  I'm more likely to map out my feelings in a dismissive voice, refuse to let the other party speak, and I am the king of providing examples.  You know how in an argument you bring something up and the other person says AND WHEN HAVE I EVER DONE THAT? Well, I will fucking tell you the date and time and probably have photos.  It's one of my worst qualities, I'm not just a score-keeper, I'm equipped with instant replay.  This is 100% my mother. So when she and I argue it is tense, long, frosty, and there's lots of evidence to sift through.  Thankfully, we hardly ever argue.  Like, maybe once every three years or so. 
My sister, on the other hand, is a Tasmanian Devil.  She yells, she cries, she gestures, she throws out every nasty name in the book.  And then she will cry, give you a hug, apologize, and buy you a present.  This is 100% my dad.  My dad and sister argue constantly.  It is a genuinely hilarious thing to behold.  The words they use are so spastic and lazy, and insults need not be based on fact.  It's sort of like watching two drunk people who have been blindfolded hit a piñata that's not actually a piñata and is a hornets' nest. 
And then there is my sweet brother.  Who never fights with anyone. 
On Monday, there was an epic argument between my parents, my mom and me, and my dad and my sister.  There was ice and fire rolled into one deranged evening.  My mother and I were sitting next to each other going back and forth, and my dad and sister were on opposite sides of the room exchanging obscenities in kind of a jackass tennis match. 
I was so discouraged. I honestly thought about texting my aunt and seeing if maybe she could host Christmas Eve, because I just wasn't sure I could deal with it. As everyone began to scatter, I asked myself why do I even care so much about this
After a terrible night's sleep, I got ready and went to the grocery.  I can't say I was determined, but I knew I would feel worse if I didn't.  After about a half hour of fumbling around, forgetting things, being bumped by the same dumb man's cart who has no sense of produce aisle conduct, I started to notice something. 
Grandmothers with grandsons.  Everywhere.  There was a pair next to me where the grandson was picking up apples, dropping them at a rate of about 50%.  His grandmother would pick them up and say well now we have to use these bad apples that you dropped because it would be wrong to put them back. He didn't seem too worried.  As  I observed these many pairs, I appreciated their unique dynamics and their sweet interaction.  Though children are certainly more inundated with  isolating technology now, these children seemed to be doing just fine--living in the moment with grandma.  As I was inspecting and deciding on cheeses, I heard a brother and a sister talking about Santa.  They were trying to decide what time they should start watching, and from which bedroom window?  Should they stay in their own rooms to monitor separate vantage points?  The older sister felt her room was best because there is ”more sky out the window".  The younger brother trusted that and said yep uh huh.
I think my favorite was what I heard while trying to find my sister's favorite blend.   Over at the bakery, a grandmother and grandson were walking around the display tables.  Can I get cookies?  No, honey, your mommy will make cookies.  Can I get these muffins? No, honey, you don't like cranberries.  Realizing this wasn't going to work, he opted for the sweet, manipulative option: Grandma, can I get these doughnuts for you? clearly knowing this trick, she said No, honey, I'm on a diet.  to which he said oh, gram, you're not that fat
Hearing the children excited for Christmas, scheming for a meet and greet with Santa, and happily tooling around with grandma truly warmed my heart.  I felt Christmas rush to my head and was ready to dive back in. 
Once home and having shimmied everything into the fridge, I turned on Christmas music and hung some garlands.  It's a weird year, and I just need to let it be.  I'm focusing on my favorite parts and not worrying too much about the rest. 
What are yours? My five favorite Christmas songs: Five  Four Three Two One    Honorable mention, both abundant with gay men: One  Two
My mother and I quickly made up, apologized, and my dad and sister have both bought each other presents (that I'm wrapping, naturally) and hugged it out. We had made the human mistake of turning on each other when we needed to embrace each other. 
It's not shaping up to be a perfect Christmas or a near-perfect Christmas.  I'm just glad it will still be a Christmas after all.  I needed some magic, and it found me. I wish you the same.  Merry Christmas.



Do you know Ellie? I'm sure you do if you're reading here.  If you don't, she is a constant student of beauty and design, wife and mother, hilarious writer, and a non-PC voice that often makes me look gentle.  And she loves cooking and food on an elemental level.  And she has a French rescue dog.  She gives her readers gifts many times a week through her perspective and joy for life.  She chooses to be productive and tenacious in the face of a monster.  Isla, a friend I made through the comments on Ellie's blog, asked if  I would share her lovely idea--a gift of the heart and soul for Ellie.  Inspired by this preview of Ellie's upcoming book:
Sometimes I beg God to just let me have those few moments of liberty back. Let me just walk around the park again without knowing my fate. Let me be ignorant, let me be blissful, let me be unafraid. If I could just have back a few moments… I would run around that park smelling every flower letting myself get pricked by a rose thorn. I would pop into the hotel and grab a cappuccino. I would peer into the bottom windows of the brownstones. I would skip over the cracks of the sidewalk. I would walk down the tiny broken steps of the church thrift store and pick things up and put them down at my leisure. Hell, I might even stretch out my arms, lift my head to the clouds, start spinning around in circles and sing a little song. At the end of my allotted time, I imagine I would try to renege on my deal with God and I would ask for more time. Don’t make me go forward to my life with ALS. Let me just stay in this park without ALS. Just give me another few minutes… This time I will cherish it, I promise.

She ended her post with So I encourage all of you to get over to Gramercy Park on Christmas Eve...

Isla had this idea:
To all of Elle's friends who are touched by her spirit and her indomitable zest for life...Let's set a time on Christmas Eve when we will all go outside, spread our arms wide, lift up our faces to the sky, and twirl, and twirl, and twirl...just for Elle. What do you say? I am going to twirl. I hope some of you will join me. 7PM Central Time.


I love that idea.  Hopefully it's okay with Isla if I expand on her idea and say that it may not even need to be spinning around outside.  Perhaps if you're likely to be drunk and your lawn is soggy and muddy like me, you can propose a toast.  A toast of gratitude--and send that good energy to Ellie.  She'll be asleep (or awake freaking out about finding the right raspberry jam with seeds but not, like, all seeds to serve on brioche Christmas morning) in Provence for us in the States.  And I think waking up to strong, positive, ambient energy on Christmas is a fine gift.  

125 comments:

  1. As you well know, there's not a lot of Christmas happening in my house. I'm remarkably OK with it, and the fact that I had my presents wrapped on December 22 (a miracle if there ever was one) has me pretty content with the whole thing. But I do feel guilt that I'm not appreciating this season the way I should.

    We have one side of the family that is strung as tight as a drum. It's like a freakin' minefield getting together with those people because you never know what is going to set those people off. I'm happy to say that I'm getting to the point where I don't get involved and don't care anymore. Whateves. Where's the wine?

    Frankly, a little bit of twirling—literal or spiritual—sounds pretty damn great to me. Count me in.

    I hope you have a very Merry Christmas (having gotten the family blowout out of the way) and I hope that Ellie feels the love.

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    1. I think we're both probably glad now that Christmas is over that we didn't go overboard! I'm so with you on keeping out of the fights. It can be tempting when you hear something truly outrageous, but always best to leave it alone and keep your thoughts to yourself and your wine! Haha. Hope you had a Merry Christmas and so glad you were able to enjoy your beautifully wrapped gifts!

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  2. Oh yes, this year it's definitely "I'm dreaming of a weird Christmas..." as you already know. But I love the idea of heading outside at 5 pm our time (that's sunset here) tomorrow and raising my arms in joy and thankfulness for one more day. Anyway, I hope your day goes off without a hitch and I'm sure it will be elegant, fun and wonderful, as always. Thank you for such a wonderful post. Gotta remember what's important. And I'm sure you'll be missing your grandma so ((hugs)) to you at this time, too.

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    1. Thank you so much! We are. I think it's so important to keep in mind that it hits everyone differently and try to default to compassion rather than anger. Which can be so hard when people are acting like asses! My Christmas was wonderful, but very un-elegant! My brother and sister worked as a team and rebranded it to a very fun and tacky Hawaiian theme. Not my usual look, but was a really fun change.

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  3. If it makes you feel ANY better, here in Maine it is also weirdly warm, muddy, and here on the coast, foggy. yuck. But there are greens, and winterberries, and my tree, and we had our neighborhood carol sing, so all that helps a bit.

    Your family is probably about as crazy as everyone else's. Part of the burden of the holiday is the desire people have to finally get it right, this time it will be perfect. But, as you have already discerned, it is what is is, and you will find all the good parts, like overhearing kids and grandmas. I am closer to one sister than the other and that's OK; I hope no political battles occur this week. We agree to disagree, so we no longer discuss many things. Smile and nod.

    Merry Christmas, listen to lots of music and, yes, where's that wine? If you have a contact button, I will send you some old Gourmets, if you want them. I need to pass some on to someone appreciative ( and deserving!)

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    1. Oh tha must be so annoying and weird living in Maine, where it's probably a safe bet to have had ample snow through the Christmas season! You're right, keeping expectations in check is so important. And so difficult!
      Thank you so much for offering me your Gourmets! Please hold onto them for someone else who will love them! One of my clients recently gave me her hue archive! Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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  4. Oh yeah, got the same family going on. One side so damn cheap, I fear I'll be starving by 7:00 p.m. So, if I twirl, here on the east coast, I will fall in the mud from dizziness from lack of food. On the other side, a more combative bunch you never saw. Skip the wine, pass the scotch, and make mine a double, no ice! But, I will go and twirl for Ellie, I subscribe to her blog and love it. And I will thank whatever God is out there listening for all the blessings I do have in my life. Merry Christmas to everyone!

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    1. Hahaha yes the least they could do is have enough food for you if they insist on being annoying! I make sure to have lots of snacks everywhere to keep the calories incoming while people are drinking! Hope you had a Merry Christmas and enjoyed double doubles :)

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  5. It is hot here- summer hot and100% humidity. As always!

    Am not feeling that Christmasssy as yesterday Mr FF and I went to the funeral of a 5 year old boy. I started crying as soon as the music started and I didn't stop until the bitter end. I cannot fathom how his parents will go on and how awful Christmas in future years will be as they remember.

    I love to watch my kid with my mum- they have the best most loving connection and he is SO excited about Santa arriving tomorrow.

    I am happy that you guys all made up. My sisters are in London together and I cannot wait to see their Nth Hemisphere photos.

    I will toast Ellie tonight.

    I always try to feel grateful and happy and sometimes it is really hard when life gets tough.

    My new thing is to tell everyone who is my friend that I love them

    LOVE YOU Stephen Andrew.

    Happy Christmas xxx

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    1. Thank you so much, FF! Hope you had a fabulous Christmas! It looks like you did! So tragic about and I can't imagine how difficult the funeral was.
      Do we have updates from your Lapland sister? Did she ever meet one of my beloved Lapland hounds?
      Love your new thing and couldn't agree more that it's wonderful to tell people how you feel about them. I was saying how much I loved you when I was handling my ham. Hahaha! It turned out so well. And I stuck a big metal fork in the center so my ham actually had a handle for carving!

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  6. With the hot weather in the Eastern U.S. it doesn't feel very much like Christmas, but I'm trying to feel like it is.

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    1. So bizarre! Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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  7. I am in SW Florida so twirling for Ellie at 8pm EST will be perfect, not soggy or muddy. Blessings to her and to all of her appreciative readers.

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    1. Your weather sounds fabulous! It actually ended up being so, so lovely here! Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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  8. Of course you saw those grandson-grandma pairings it was a sign. It is a weird year I guess for many of us but like you I am going with it and definitely living in the moment. Your family, I think they sound amazing. Aren't sons always like their mothers? My son came home today from Uni (and the necessary post-exam parties) and I'll tell you except for the straight facts that he is 6'3", a male and understands math he is just exactly like me. We had two fights when he was a teenager and it was like a horror movie.
    Thinking of you and I will be toasting Ellie, not twirling as I will indeed fall down but I also love her spirit and her generosity, she's really inspired me and changed my life for the better this year.
    Merry Christmas Darling SAJ XOX

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    1. Hope you had a Merry Christmas! Thank you so much. You're so right, I figured it had to be a sign based on how well behaved the children were! There were no fits or tantrums, all very adoring and glowing.
      It is so funny how much mothers and sons are alike! And it seems daughters often end up very much like their dads!

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  9. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for putting into words everything I've been feeling. Christmas brings out the best and the worst in all of us and why? Why the pressure? I read Ellie's blog and she always brings me down to earth. We have so much to be grateful for and the rest is just small stuff. Thank you, Steven Andrew, what family and Christmas is all about! Although, I'm sure I'll still be stressing a bit just cuz I like everything to be perfect for my family. Can't change that! Merry Christmas to you and thanks! Janie

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    1. Thank you so much, Janie! That is such a lovely thing to say and I really appreciate it. You're right, it is so hard to release ourselves from the pressure! I was pretty much able to do it this year and it made my holiday so much more fun. The real test will be if I can do this again next year! I was good about letting so many things go, but I really didn't have much choice...so it's not like it was really a triumph over my own attitude. Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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  10. the first couple of years after my mother died, I saw mother/daughter pairings EVERYwhere. It's a thing.

    I will twirl for Ellie, even though I'll be making flat enchiladas. Will put spoon down, because red enchilada sauce everywhere is not a good idea....

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    1. You wonder if it's always there and you're just noticing it or not?! So interesting. Glad you thought to put your spoon down before you twirled! Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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  11. What is it about Christmas that brings out 'the nasties', perhaps it's all that expectation that never has a chance of being related to real life? Your family is not on their lonesome I can assure you.
    I will be toasting Ellie for sure but I will probably have to have quite a few as I can never work out the time zones from Oz. Even though my family has had the year from hell healthwise this year I always compare our situation with Ellie's and am promptly able to get a grip. I hope you have a lovely Christmas Stephen, and I look forward to many more posts in the new year.
    Love Cindy F
    xx

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    1. I'm so sorry it's been a hard year for the health of your family! That really takes a toll. I'm terrible with time zones too!
      You're right, we all build up Christmas so much that it's hard not to be disappointed when it (obviously) can't live up to our titanic visions!
      Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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  12. Stephen Andrew, ( and I have to say - your Mom chose the right Stephen spelling), my family was a lot like yours. But now, my family is gone (not to be melodramatic or to put too fine a point on it), so I'm so glad you appreciate yours in spite of the occasional melodrama. As for twirling for Ellie, well, I'm an American in France, too, so your 7pm Central will be our 1 am. So I'll arrange for a French 7pm twirl...I've got just the spot for it. I dearly love our Ellie, and now, because of her blog and your amazingly funny and poignant comments there, I dearly love you, too, as do so many others. Merry, merry Christmas to you. I hope it overflows with joy, love, beautiful table settings, and laughter.

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    1. Thank you so much! This comment brings tears to my eyes (a few times now). Thank you so much. I'm sorry that your family isn't here anymore. I often feel I'm holding onto something fragile as we never really know the turns life takes.
      Hope you had a lovely Christmas! And wishing you a happy new year! I will tell my mother you said that. I couldn't agree more! Actually I wasn't allowed to go by Stephen until I was 16! My mom said I had to be old enough to correct people if they called me Steve! Haha.

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  13. HA! You put the HaHaHa in the HoHoHo. Thanks for bringing levity to the serious business of celebrating holidays with family ;) Personally I’m thrilled it’s only three of us this year. I’ll be cooking in my pajamas and eating whenever dinner’s ready. It’s also why I’ll be twirling outside at 8 pm EST. If I fall down from too many, I’ll just make mud angels and gaze up at the stars…happy to join everyone else.

    BTW: Your score-keeping antics are hilarious! You should just carry around a tape recorder...like my son does when he wants to prove I’m a screaming lunatic ;) Also, love your playlist and sister's wine choice - Looks intriguing. Happy Holidays!

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    1. Thank you so much! Hope you had a Merry Christmas! Your holiday sounds divine! Laid back and easy! That's how I treated Christmas Day! I made a big brunch that I had planned to be ready at 10:30A but didn't serve until 2:30P! Everyone was too hungover to appear before 2PM.
      Oh I have been known to record people on my phone in an argument so I have proof! A little ridiculous!

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  14. Holidays - you never know what you will get in our household!! Some are laidback - others not so much. It's a lucky dip!!!

    A toast to Ellie is a fantastic idea. Happy Christmas, Stephen!!

    Chelsea

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    1. Thank you so much! Hope you had a fab toast and a lovely Christmas!

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  15. Oh, you are so not alone in the crazy family department! Mine are in the record books. :)
    Holidays, and for some reason, Christmas is at the top ranks highest for strung-out emotions and expectations. Just makes people crazy!! And get this - there's a full moon this year. Teehee!! Family, alcohol and a full moon...oh boy. But seriously, your family's emotions are really ultra sensitive because of the loss of your grandmother. Find your joy where and when you can. At 55, I'm finally learning to relax and go with what is. Life never relates to what my imagination creates, and that's ok. I'm sure everything will be beautiful and bittersweet. Big hugs and I hope you have a Merry Christmas Stephen Andrew. And, absolutely! I will be howling at the moon and sending good wishes to Ellie, and you. :)

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    1. Thank you so much! You're absolutely right. It was just a weird year! Our emotions really have been out of control and every person is dealing with it differently. It was nice for all of us to be on the same page. Our Christmas Eve was a rager! It was out of control and I think the moon was definitely to blame. But it really was so fun! How did your family behave?

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  16. Thank you for your post. It is always a pleasure to read you writings. Families are always squabbling about something or other. I am like your sister and my partner is like you, every detail from the past is brought out in detail in a moments notice. Tomorrow night I shall toast ellie before our Christmas eve dinner celebration (all fish). It has been a diffcult year bit I am grateful for all my blessing.
    Stephen I wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyful and Happy new year 2016.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'll bet your arguments with your partner are quick because with such different styles, the fights probably fizzle quickly. That's how it goes when my sister and I fight. Hope your fish came out well! What did you make?

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  17. Thank you for your post. It is always a pleasure to read you writings. Families are always squabbling about something or other. I am like your sister and my partner is like you, every detail from the past is brought out in detail in a moments notice. Tomorrow night I shall toast ellie before our Christmas eve dinner celebration (all fish). It has been a diffcult year bit I am grateful for all my blessing.
    Stephen I wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyful and Happy new year 2016.

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  18. Yep and I am almost 9 years post breast cancer. I do not talk about it much. Not because I am embarrassed about it, but because I needed to move on from it. What I have learned--Live in the moment because you never know what tomorrow may bring. Sending good energy to all!

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    1. Thank you so much for this! Attitude is so important. I'm so glad that you're healthy and free from cancer! I'm terrible about living in the moment! I'm improving it though. I did well through Christmas, so that's a start! Happy New Year!

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    2. It takes practice to live in the moment and I am still working on getting better at it. Hopefully it will come naturally to me someday. Love your blog. Happy New Year to you too. Hope to hear about all of your creative adventures in 2016.

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  19. It's unseasonably warm here, too - we just had a thunderstorm with lightening, which seems so strange as I'm listening to Christmas music while doing some last minute silver polishing. No family fighting is on my horizon (at least that I know of). I'm staying put Christmas Day and having close friends and neighbors in for dinner, since I did my family travel over Thanksgiving and stayed at my mother's.
    We WILL be twirling for Ellie tomorrow at 8pm EST ... I've already warned the neighbors that they'll be expected to twirl, too, regardless of weather or cocktail consumption. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Stephen!!!

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    1. How did your twirl go?! How nice to have a low-key Christmas! Hope it was fab! There is always more silver to polish, isn't there? Hope your Christmas was fab and shiny :)

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  20. Stephen, you are a wonderful writer and I love your attitude. So happy to finally (after years of seeing your comments but not quite knowing you were a blogger) having found you. I plan to stick around.

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    1. Thank you so so much, Lisa! That is so nice of you to say, especially considering my attitude is in constant...improvement :) happy new year!

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  21. What a wonderful idea and Ellie is certainly deserving of this lovely attention.

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    1. It was a great idea! Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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  22. What a wonderful idea and Ellie is certainly deserving of this lovely attention.

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  23. WE too were talking about THE LACK of MUSIC, not busy supermarkets today, I was at three of them no lines!!!NO ONE seems to be in the MOOD!What is it..........GLOBAL WARMING?Have to say I am READY!Got my GOODS to eat today and the coffee cake is done and I'm now working on the stuffing for the PORK LOIN Ellie has me making!I will be up early tomorrow cooking away then better take a nap as WE OPEN PRESENTS TOMORROW NIGHT!The 24th is a BIGGER DEAL then the 25th for us..........Don't ask me why but I think it's an ENGLISH TRADITION......anyone know?AS for keeping track and being an instant replay.....I LOVE IT!I remember the details too.......but if you disappoint me or make me mad chances are I willNOT FORGIVE YOU!I know ,I know I just need to get over it but I CANNOT!!
    AS for the TWIRL...........does that mean 5pm for the CALIFORNIANS.I think MISSISSIPPI is two hours a head and that is where your new BEST BUDDY lives from the BLOG WORLD.........ISLA.Who has this MASTER PLAN..............I promise to TWIRL maybe even sip some PROSECCO as I do it!!I think it is a BEAUTIFUL PLAN.............we will probably ALL AWAKEN HER from her slumber with OUR FORCE!!!!!!!!!!MERRY CHRISTMAS STEPHEN.I do hope THE FAMILY Manages to BEHAVE and your food is COMPLIMENT NON ~ STOP!!!! Please let BARBIE have a BONE from the table!ALL MY BEST...................XX

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    1. Speaking of Isla...does anyone know what part of Mississippi she's from? A dangerous tornado just passed through the state, leaving six dead and many injured. I don't think it's the kind of whirling and twirling she had in mind!

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    2. Hi Donna. I am in Hinds county, central MS. All safe here but am feeling so sorry for those in northern part of state. We twirled for Elle last night. Twirling and champagne do not go together. Know what I mean?

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    3. Oh yeah! Lucky I had my backyard fence for support ;) Twirling beneath a cloudy sky in my bathing suit (no sh**!) and 70 degree temps, I was accompanied by a chorus of crickets and everyone else across the planet who stopped for a brief moment in time to Love Life and Ellie. Never underestimate the power of the collective consciousness! Thank you Isla, Stephen Andrew, La Contessa and everyone else who made it happen. xoxox

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    4. How fabulous! Contessa your dinner sounds so good! Christmas Eve is the bigger deal for us too and I love it that way! Then Christmas Day can be casual and easy! So nice to enjoy the day wjth little in the way of plans and stress!
      Hard to believe we're talking about severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in late December! I was shocked when we had so much thunder on the 23rd!

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  24. No sense of produce aisle conduct indeed! Pretty much describes what a lot of pre-Christmas to-do listing devolves into. I will twirl at 5 pm here on the west coast for Ellie, for you, and just because it's a swell idea! Enjoy your barefoot Christmas xx

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    1. Thank you so much! I've always joked that I am going to teach lessons on grocery store behavior. It's always men. Men are the worst. You can tell they think they're a fucking hero for picking up an onion even though it takes them 45 minutes to find one and they have to call their wives ten times. And they block produce while they are on the phone.

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  25. Another touching post...wearing your heart on your sleeve again. Thank you for sharing Ellie with us. We will be thinking of her at 7pm tomorrow night. No snow here, muddy just like it is at your house, (sounds like you've got your shit together for tomorrow night). Merry Christmas to you, your family and Miss Barbie, of course. What's cooking?

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    1. Thank you so much! It was a big, big meal. Good thing as it went from 7AM to 3AM! Fondue, bread, pork tenderloin, scalloped potatoes, Mac n cheese, grilled veggies, citrus and cucumber salad, creampuffs, brownies, and mini pineapple upside down cakes.
      The mud is the absolute worst part of this! Barbie had had so many baths!

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  26. Merry Christmas Stephen Andrew: you brighten up the blogisphere with your wit and humanity. Long may you reign! I am loving Christmas prep with six year old grandson, who has discovered the joy of glitter pens, and wants a pink tutu for his dog :))

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm sure Christmas with your grandson was so wonderful! Glitter pens never stop being fun! Does his dog mind the tutu? Hope you had a merry Christmas!

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  27. Merry Christmas you darling, wonderful man! I will twirl and send love and all good wishes to you and Ellie both tomorrow at 5PM here in N.California. Peace, Mary.

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    1. Thank you so much! I must've felt it because I stayed up until 3AM Christmas Eve! I usually have trouble staying up until midnight!

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  28. You've had a hard run up to Christmas, so it's no wonder your family is all out of sorts. And of course with the weather also not behaving then it means it's just strange all around.
    I think the best thing about Christmas are the kids who believe reactions to it all. They're just so excited. My 5 year old has taken himself off to bed early, because "If I go to sleep earlier then it will be morning quicker". I haven't discouraged him… it will be an early start tomorrow!
    We have a day of 37C (98F) forecast tomorrow, and while we're all used to Summer christmas, this is a little too hot.
    Wishing you a very merry Christmas Stephen Andrew, and thank you for your posts this year which are always so very funny but interesting and a window into your life on the other side of the world from me. I can't tell you how much I love reading your blog. xxx

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    1. Thank you so much, Heidi! That is so very nice of you to say. It definitely was a hard lead in to Christmas but I am so happy to report that everyone had a really good time and behaved! It was a great party. Not the most elegant affair, but very fun. How sweet about your son! Too funny. I remember doing that and waking up every hour! Hope you had a fabulous Christmas!

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  29. Glad it's all patched up and these arguments are part of those holiday memories right? We had our own pahlava because Xmas is also my borther's birthday who will be hosting that day but he wanted to cook Korean food and then my husband was protesting about how crazy it is to not eat roasties on Jesus' birthday. So I might have to cook and bring with me some gravy and roast potatoes for my husband who now wishes he married into a traditional English family because there will be a strong smell of garlic hehe

    Wishing you a merry xmas and can't wait to see what you did on the day!

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    1. Dear Stephen Andrew
      As I began reading could feel how upset and low in spirits you were. It's natural after losing such a wonderful grandmother. You're all so close but her death affects everyone in different ways. Sorry to hear about the craziness but hopefully it's now over and out of people's systems and you'll all bond back again this Christmas. You have such a kind soul, Stephen Andrew, thinking of others in the midst of your own problems!
      My warmest wishes to you all for a wonderful Christmas. May it bring good cheer and peace to your hearts. Pammie xxx

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    2. Naomi, oh that is too funny about your brother! He doesn't share the day well, does he? I can't blame him! I've always thought having a December birthday, let alone THE December birthday has to be hard! I side with your husband...! Haha.
      Pammie, thank you so much! It has been hard but became much easier once I just allowed myself to be sad. Im so happy to say that our Christmas celebration was just wonderful and we really had so much fun. There was lots of laughter and a good measure of tears. It really was so nice.
      How did your seafood lunch go? Did the girls love their pool floaties?! I'm sure they did!
      Hope you both had Merry Christmases!

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  30. What a lovely, lovely post in all ways - a gift to us all from you. Merry Christmas Stephen - indeed.

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    1. Thank you so much! I know you had a lovely Christmas! Happy New Year!

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  31. glad i'm not the only one feeling off. things have been a bit rough around here for several reasons. we have 2 v close friends that are vv sick...we hope they make it. and a child too...
    somehow i have faith that it'll all work out.
    your writing is so good, i can just see all the interactions that pulled you out of your funk. thank you dear stephen for sharing them. merry christmas to you and your family. xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much, Janet! I'm sure things have felt so out of sorts and sad there with the terrible shooting unfolding into Redlands.
      Hope you found a way to have a lovely Christmas in spite of the hard times! I'm sure the grandchildren helped immensely!

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  32. Merry Christmas, Stephen! I'm knee-deep in the middle of a septic system failure here, so I totally agree, it really doesn't feel very merry (and family hasn't even arrived to add to the drama yet.) I hereby promise to never take my toilet for granted again. I'm looking forward to spinning around outside for Ellie!

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    1. Oh you win! That is the WORST! I hope that's all sorted away now! That's what has always scared me about living in the country the most. Hope it all went well with your family! I know the extended relatives can be a little stressful!

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  33. Merry Christmas Stephen! I'm so glad I found your blog this year. Your humor and style have made me laugh. Looking forward to more of your wonderful posts in 2016!

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    1. Thank you so much! Hard to believe how much less snow you have this year than last!

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  34. What a sweet and loving soul you are, Stephen Andrew Jones. All I want for Christmas are many, many more of your posts in 2016.

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    1. Thank you so much! I hope you got more than that though! Haha :) happy new year! Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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  35. Stephen - Wishing you and yours a beautiful and bright Christmas. I hope Santa brings Barbie lots of treats :)

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    1. Thank you so much! Hope Christmas at your dad's went well! Barbie got lots of presents!

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  36. For a true dash of fun this Holiday:


    https://youtu.be/Qynnodm7scg


    I send you Best and Brightest Wishes for a Wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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  37. Hope the link works -- if not look at YouTube:

    "Hilarious and Amazing Christmas Light Show 2014 - Can Can Featured on the Great Christmas Light Fight"

    The light show truly is amazing -- and the song is VERY fun!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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    1. Oh wow! That's incredible! I don't know how people can tolerate to spend that much time on lights! They drive me insane! Haha! Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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  38. Merry Christmas to you and your family!!
    My Husband (scotch in hand), 24 year old son (beer in hand) and I (wine in hand) will be twirling for Ellie at 5:00! We are all fan's of your blog and Ellie's!

    Renee in Northern California

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    1. We just twirled for Ellie. Merry Christmas from Boston.

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    2. Thank you so much! Ellie literally had twirlers from coast to coast! I love it! I'd choose your wine over beer or scotch!

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  39. Merry Christmas Stephen. With our families spread over three continents, it is just my husband and I here. Doing last minute shopping on Christmas Eve I noticed families spending time together, made me a little sad. Soon cheered up when I made my husband nougat for Christmas. Yup, nothing cheers me up like a nougat sugar hit! Wishing you and your family a fabulous Christmas Day, which I am sure will be filled with great food, fabulous table settings and great memories in the making.

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    1. Oh that must be hard! It's hard enough to get everyone together when we're in the same city! Every time I hear "someday soon, we all will be together--if the fates allow" it gets me! Hoping the fates allow you all to soon be together! Sweets help in the meantime though!

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  40. Merry Christmas Stephen!

    Thinking of you and your family. I hope that, even while missing your beautiful grandmother that you have had a wonderful Christmas day.

    We had our big meal last night as La Contessa did and it was a quiet affair - it has been such a hard year in so many ways. But it was a lovely evening too. And yes, I stick by what I said, I would have paid good money to have had a live feed to your kitchen! Naomi was right!

    While I didn't twirl as it would have been at 2am my time - even though I almost made it as we left the table at 1am (!) I did say an extra good prayer for our gorgeous friend this morning.

    Sending much Love and Peace,
    H

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    1. Thank you so much! I'll be your dinner was fabulous! I think the twirls all make it to her whether they are late, early, or right on time! We were outside until early in the morning! Had to believe that was comfortable here in Ohio! Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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  41. Stephen, I found your blog through Ellie's and what a delight you've been! Telling it like it is is your forte (and Ellie's.) We're doubly blessed!

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    1. Well thank you so much! I hope you had a Merry Christmas! And hope there were no turkey drippings spilled :)

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  42. No surprise to me that you summed up Christmas feelings so well. Earlier in the week, I was one of those grandmothers in the grocery store, as we had our oldest grandson here for a few days. He and I have more of a mother/son dynamic, since that was my role for the first part of his life. I love spending time with him!

    Christmas songs. Most find it ironic that I love the old songs most, since hard rock/metal/alternative is my music of choice at other times of year. I am happiest at Christmas time when the XM classic Christmas station plays Nat King Cole's Christmas Song. I turn that up as loud as I can stand, and I sing along. Runner up would be anything by Frank Sinatra.

    Merry Christmas, one day late, to you, dear SA. (lit candles and toasted Ellie with my morning coffee. I found her through the list of blogs at the foot of this page, and I love her already.)

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    1. I'm sure spending time at your house is such a treat for the grandchildren! So I know that your parents keep a firm grasp on Thanksgiving, but do you host Christmas? I enjoyed the XM holiday channels this year!! I picked up a few new ones. I absolutely love NKC's Christmas Song and Frank's
      Christmas album too! Hope your Christmas was fabulous! Did you have any roses bloom?

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    2. We had immediate family, children and grandchildren, here on Christmas Eve afternoon. Lots of laughter and food and presents. Christmas Day was brunch at my brother's, with the whole extended family, and lots more laughter and food and presents. (He and I alternate. This year was his turn.) In the evening, we went to friends-who-are-like-family's house for adult dinner. You guessed it ... more laughter and food and presents.

      No roses blooming. I'm surprised about that. The only thing I can figure is that the warm spell came at the very end of the fall flowering cycle, and there wasn't truly a long enough stretch of mild weather to mature and open new flowers. Now that I think of it, I haven't checked the back gardens ... too much mud to wade through to get there after all the rain.

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    3. That sounds so fun! I'm glad it was a great Christmas! I was peeking around a friend's garden yesterday and all her willows are budding. No surprise there I guess but still nuts!

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  43. Merry day after Christmas, Stephen. Thank you for sharin the idea to twirl or toast Elle. From reading these great comments, it seems as if there was a lot of participation. I hope you all had a lovely day.

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    1. Thank you so much for the idea, Isla! I'm so thrilled with how many people participated! We had such a nice Christmas! Hope you did too!

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  44. Thank you everyone for the twirls! I felt it all the way over here in France! Stephen, you are my favorite person on the face of the earth. XOXO Ellie

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    1. I'm dying to know if you really did feel anything! I hope you had a fabulous first Christmas in Provence! You are my favorite person! And I'm sure you would have totally loved my family fight. The sheer absurdity of my dad and sister's insults! Everyone got over it and we had so much fun. My sister reworked the whole thing into a tacky Hawaiian tiki theme and it was so kitschy and fun.

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  45. It made me feel so much better to know I wasn't the only one feeling so un-Christmasy this year. The weather absolutely did not help nor did our living situation. Here's to 2016!
    xo

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  46. I think it didnt help that here in Jersey it was 79 degrees and our trees where torched with needles already falling off before it even came in the house! I always look forward to your honest perspective and wit to deal with day to day conundrums. I wish you a wonderful health filled New year!! xo Karolyn

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  47. A belated Merry Christmas...I have been immersed in hostessing and with house guests have been offline.
    Holidays are not always "Hallmark" events and I appreciate your honesty and so enjoy your writing from the heart.
    Those snippets from the grocery store of grandmothers and grandchildren put a smile on my face this morning...I love my three grand babies and spending time with them is a gift.

    Wishing you a very healthy happy and prosperous New Year and I look forward to each and every one of your posts.
    XO

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  48. I would love to hear from you- PLEASE??? Robin

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    1. Hello! I've started about a thousand posts, but am finding myself rather annoying at the moment! Haha

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    2. Stephen since discovering your blog, I am now hunting for bargains in the silver tray and bowl department. Yep it is all your fault. I too would like to read a new post. What is your favorite antique shop/ store or second hand store in Columbus btw?

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  49. Hi Stephen: Did you ever find a copy of Joy of Cooking that looks as if it could have belonged to your grandmother? I could be your grandmother probably and I would love to send you my 1964 copy! Properly dinged with ripped up dust jacket and notes on making vinegars! I used the book mostly as a reference book and not so much for recipes. Let me know and I'll happily send it to you.

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    1. Isla, thank you so much for this lovely offer! One of my clients did a massive clean out of her Ohio house before putting it on the market and gifted me with many cookbooks and old issues of Gourmet, including Joy. So I am now equipped. Thank you so much though!

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    2. I'm happy you have a copy now. JOY really is a great text book on cooking. Enjoy your JOY.

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  50. Stephen Andrew, Anything you write will be most welcomed by me!! I am one of many missing your interesting AND entertaining posts. I've been going back and reading old posts. Best from Umbria, Robin

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  51. You are anything but annoying. And I miss Barbie also. Robin

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  52. Come out and play, we miss you! Winter is almost over!
    Xoxo Karen

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  53. AGAIN-Please come back!
    Robin in Umbria
    Miss you, and miss Barbie

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  54. OK, that is enough. I am considering checking myself in, as I cannot wait another day without a post from you. HEAVY PRESURE. Miss you. Love, Robin in Umbria

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    1. Haha Robin you will be so terribly disappointed when I come back as I don't think I could ever live up to this buildup! Thank you so much!

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  55. Steven, come back. It's time you surfaced with your brilliant and witty observations of life !

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  56. I fear I am the reason you fled the blogging world! No sooner got addicted than you went in to hiding. Pretty please come back!!!!
    Denise

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    1. Haha! I promise you're not! I intend to! Just a touch short on inspiration!

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  57. I agree with Denise. I found your blog before Christmas and all the previous post. They were great. Now I am addicted and you have gone missing in action. Geez.

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    1. Hello! I will be back! Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I tend to have a lot of blogging inspiration in bursts and then it cools off for a bit.

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  58. Stephen,
    Do you not realize how much we miss you?
    Lots of love, Robin

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  59. Anxiously waiting for your next post . You are so witty. I check every day to see if you have posted anything.

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    1. Thank you!! I am on my own email subscription to check and usually it works! Sometimes it doesn't send a notification email until the next day though.

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  60. Anxiously waiting for your next post . You are so witty. I check every day to see if you have posted anything.

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  61. I keep checking to see if you've put up a new post. Hope everything is alright, and if not, hope it will be soon.

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    1. Hello! Thank you. Everything is fine. Well my diets not going well, but when has it ever?

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    2. Glad to hear things are fine, except for the diet --- usually seems to be the case.

      You clearly have a legion of adoring fans! Stay well.

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  62. Hello, if I may add to all of above comments, you cannot simply stop blogging, you have a wonderful way of observing and reporting on life, that keeps all the craziness it throws up at one in perspective. Yes, I follow Ellie, and you are just as witty and perceptive. Love to "read" you both. Hope for your news soon. Alexandra

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