Grandmas Need Hugs to Survive

 

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This new normal is an exercise in self control personified.

Grandparents have now been relegated to seeing their grandchildren via Face time or Zoom, neither of which is conducive to this Grammy’s needs.

Sure I can see my grandsons as they carry the phone around with them through their activities and I can pseudo join them in their daily routine for a short time. I applaud the technology that allows us access in these dangerous times.

However, let me say loud and clear, iphones are no substitute for smelling your grandson’s hair and hugging him until he says Grammy you’re squeezing me so hard I can’t breathe.

This quarantine, although necessary has been difficult for grandparents.

We are told by our children, “make sure you walk and stay active.” I say you can’t watch Netflix and lump all your other activities together. All multi tasking aside it’s truly difficult to relax while you’re trying to use your foot pedal bike, shove Cherry Garcia into your mouth, do a jigsaw puzzle and watch Grace and Frankie at the same time.

When this is over I will not be able to sit still and simply relax without feeling I must be doing a million different things to avoid my hardening arteries from turning to stone.

There are so many things one must not do. No news on television lest we want to hang ourselves. No cooking unless one wants to become so fat that when we are allowed out the door we will not be able to fit through the door. Nothing will feel as good as breathing the stale air in a mall, eating the greasy over-spiced food in a food court or shopping a sale.

Yet with all the things we miss in our daily routine, Grandmas need kisses and hugs and the scent of their grandchildren to stay alive.

I almost feel sorry for my grandsons because I have months to make up for. There will be retroactive hugs and kisses to secure and that will take extra time.

So what will be the response of our grandchildren?

Will they allow all that extra affection? Will they allow those long stares and proud smiles? Will they be annoyed and say, Grammy, stop staring at me?

Will there be a backlash? Will our grandchildren rebel and say no more? Will we have to live with cuddling cutbacks if we come on too strong? And how can we not come on too strong when we are let out of quarantine jail and allowed to get within hugging distance again?

We’ve had months of withdrawal. We are chomping at the bit to see those little faces we love up close and personal. Who can blame us for a little overdoing? Am I perhaps a bit melodramatic? Well staring at the damn walls and reruns of the West Wing have created more than just a little desperation here!

Hopefully our grandchildren will understand how excited we are to make up for lost time.

Okay, so I know self-control will have to be the rule of the day when I am allowed near my grandsons once more.

I shall practice restraint and time my hugs to be just short of annoying.

My staring at their adorable faces will have to be monitored and shortened although I’m afraid I won’t be able to take my eyes off them.

These are hard Grammy times and I’m feeling the burn here.

It’s more than an exercise in self-control, it’s an exercise in the pain of withdrawal from a perfectly acceptable drug—my grandchildren. I’m addicted and I’m not ashamed to speak it out loud.

I also know I’m not the only grandparent out there who is hurting. There is something about being in the company of your grandchildren that lowers blood pressure, allows one’s tired old heart to beat with a renewed sense of joy and youth, and the sheer act of smiling so hard at the sight of them takes years off one’s face.

What is one to do when separated from the most powerful youth drug on the planet? I can’t imagine I’ll have enough time to catch up on my dosage once this is over.

Grandchildren are the fountains of youth. Their smiles contain all the secrets of the universe and they are the sun to my planet.

So I must say to all grandparents, hang in there and double up on your dosage when we are allowed to return to the universe that keeps us young and excited about life. Until then please stay safe and healthy and hopeful about the future. That sense of hope and optimism is something we all can pass down to our offspring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Old in Captivity

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Being old in captivity brings a whole new set of problems. Each age group has faced unique challenges in the face of this horrific world attack by an evil virus and the world has now seen the ravages of biological warfare on a global scale.

Much has been learned or one can hope, but each age group has had to face different and scary trials.

I have witnessed the tests younger people including my own children and grandchildren have faced.

It is however my own that I can speak to most clearly.

Did I fully appreciate Amazon before, probably not? Do I now? Have I completely embraced the whole let my fingers do the walking routine online? You bet. Will I be excited to run through a mall again and feel and touch the merchandise? You bet I will! Is chocolate still a panacea, it is indeed.

Busy brings distraction. Growing old is difficult and most of my generation have learned to use denial and distraction as the prevalent tools in their arsenal to battle back against the reality of old age.

Time doesn’t creep it pounces.

We look in the mirror and our close-up vision is compromised by time.

We compensate by using magnified mirrors that are probably the work of the devil, but we insist on a true glimpse into the ravages of time.

We battle back with plastic surgery, Botox, creams, treatments whatever we can unearth to slow the process.

Yet what I have discovered in the last few months is that the greatest tool in our arsenal is indeed distraction and without that we must come face to face with our own mortality.

And it isn’t pretty.

In the pre-covid 19 days I would see a new wrinkle and meet a friend for lunch, do some shopping, play Maj Jong, visit my grandsons, or any one of a million other activities, including work related to distract from the truth that stared me in the face, I am growing old. I am now the oldest generation, and time is winning.

The last few months have brought many deaths, some from covid, some from natural causes, but many I grew up with and around are suddenly gone.

Once I would hear about a death of an old friend and busy myself with trivial activities to ignore the fact that time was racing past. Distraction was king, and I say long live the king!

Now I have no such luxury. Binge watching Shitt’s Creek is not the same as being with family or friends. It isn’t working. It may provide a moment’s distraction, but our lifestyle is the ultimate defense against reality. Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, important life events and holidays with family and friends cannot be discounted.

We hear bad news, we move, we see a gray hair we move, we feel the ravages of time on our bodies, we move.

Without movement, we have little defense.

We need as Streisand said, “People”. We need interaction, even those among us who once considered ourselves a bit of an introvert. We’ve all realized we are part of the world and we use this world to our advantage to deal with the fears and issues we face each day.

Without interaction we are forced to see life for what is it is and that can be very painful for one who is moving into old age. It even sounds sad, but once I wouldn’t have cared. I could laugh with friends, celebrate life and keep going.

Stopping is not an option. The challenge has been to keep busy and relevant now that the world has closed up shop.

Soon we will all enter a new world, a new normal; we can’t yet predict or foresee and we will have to move even further away from the world we once knew.

This is a painful exercise even in the best of times so how we will approach these good byes now.

Part of growing older are the memories we embrace, our childhoods, our parenting years and remembering those who are now gone.

I know my generation is up to this as we have overcome before, we will again. I am forcibly optimistic and choose to be.

So to all my friends I can only say what I have been saying to myself,

More than ever it is imperative we make the most of every moment. Live fully and excitedly each day and dwell only in the present. Had we ever forgotten those rules and I have many times, we cannot again.

Happy new world coming and may it be the best years of your lives.

 

 

 

Why I’m Voting for Jed Bartlet for President

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Why I’m Voting For Jed Bartlet for President

I never discuss politics on social media. In this political climate, no matter what your political affiliation the wrath of Satan will come at you from the other side. There is no civil discourse and I find it incredibly disheartening and tragic that we as Americans can’t simply have an opinion and not be sought out for pain and suffering for our beliefs.

However, this election I have decided to take a stand. I will be casting my vote for Josiah (Jed) Bartlet and I’m praying he once again picks Tim Matheson for his Veep. Any guy who could handle the guys in Animal House should be able to handle Congress. Well maybe.

Watching the West Wing reruns, which I do regularly, makes me long for the good old days when politicians hated one another, but were polite when they stuck the knives in someone’s back.

There have been times lately when I truly believe America will be totally fine in their battle against the coronavirus because the toxic atmosphere of politics today will take down the virus. No match.

People are so angry and aggressive we have become a nation of pitbulls and there seems to be no limit to the mean. Racism and anti- Semitism are fair game and hate has become an overt pastime that comes with no price to pay.

Friendships, family relationships and businesses have all felt the wrath of this new normal.

Jed Bartlet is the only man who can calm the waters and restore peace.

No one would dare call C.J. Craig fat at a White House press dinner.

Who could ever accuse Josh Lyman, Toby Zeigler or Sam Seaborn of inappropriate behavior? Leo McGarry was even coerced by Jed to hire a Republican, Ainsley Hayes in the White House.

Could you ever see that happening today?

Okay I know, you’re thinking Norma, hello, this wasn’t real life. The West Wing was a television program so you need to come back to reality. Politicians like Bartlet don’t really exist and never could.

I know I know, I’m very well aware of what politicians are, probably more than most since I’m a journalist and possess the anti-politician gene.

I’m dog they are cat, born to be at odds. I get it.

So here is my solution. Since Jed was created by genius Aaron Sorkin, perhaps he should run.

In West Wingland life was good, people were human and the politics were admirable. Crises were averted without name calling and shaming one another.

Since Sorkin imagined this political utopia let’s give him a shot at bringing it into the real world.

So Mr. S, I’m throwing your hat into the political ring whether or not you care to be there.

America needs you and it’s your duty to serve your country. To paraphrase a line from one of the episodes, “we’ve all been down that hole now and you know the way out.”

I’m volunteering to be your press secretary and Matheson for your vice president. Look out Congress the Belushi tamer is coming your way.

Sure I’m kidding, sort of, well maybe kinda, but the point is life imitates art or vice versa. In these times of anger, pure mean and contempt toward one another, perhaps this is the solution.

I for one can think of no other so I’ll throw my hands in the air and shout Bartlet’s campaign slogan, “Make America Nice Again.”

Stay healthy everyone and take heart, if you run out of toilet paper you can always use your ballot for the upcoming election.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Great Reasons to Hate American Politics

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Two Great Reasons to Hate American Politics

I find it difficult to narrow down my distaste for American politics in so few reasons. I am certain if I let myself I’d find hundreds more. Case in point, Congress, there’s 535 damn good reasons right there. But I’ve promised two and I shall stick to that number. After recent threatening remarks by Senator Charles Schumer on the steps of the Supreme Court I realized that Dorothy was in Kansas no longer. No one would have ever dared disrespect and threaten the court when I was young; it was simply unacceptable let alone ever considered. I have watched as politics in this country have devolved into the evilest and most horrifying experience since the shower scene in Psycho. Make no mistake it is on both sides of the aisle.

The first and probably most offensive reason to me is the plain old-fashioned meanness of the whole process. The political arena has the aura of the wicked witch’s candy-coated house in Hansel and Gretel. Oh sure there’s candy in freedom, but inside awaits the horrible oven where she cooked children. I say this with true regret as I relate the tale of what was a true disappointment in my youth the first time I cast my vote.

I was over-the-moon excited. As a Baby Boomer I had lived through tumultuous times, the 1968 Democratic Convention, Martin Luther King, John, and Robert Kennedy assassinations, the Chicago Seven, Watergate, Elvis going into the army, two Darrens on Bewitched, mini skirts and the sheer unattainable skinniness of Twiggy. I was patriotic and excited to become a true member of the club, a voting American about to make my voice heard. I considered it a privilege and an honor, and still do.

I waited in line at the firehouse on my corner and signed my paper to receive my ballot. Back then in primitive times there was paper. I wasn’t certain about how to do it correctly so I asked the woman who’d handed me my ballot for help. She smiled and I pointed to Hubert Humphrey and said, “Do I mark here to vote for him?”

Her face soured immediately and with a chill in her voice that would put an instant end to global warming answered, “If that’s what you want, than I suppose.”

The air immediately left the patriotic balloon I was riding and I fell to earth with a thud. Her tone and look changed the moment from exuberance into ugly and my joy at voting was now colored with negativity.

Oh sure you may say, you were too sensitive. Yes perhaps, but at that time in America I was still foolish enough to believe that we had a right to free speech, free thought and to vote for whomever we pleased without suffering the malice of others. I think that’s why we have the first amendment because our forefathers understood without this freedom there could be no freedom.

Sadly that experience is a Sunday school picnic by today’s standards. A look, a snide remark pale by comparison to what one may suffer today. One may get beaten or worse for their political views now and it seems to be getting worse each day.

Friends and family members have become alienated and people are afraid to exercise free speech. On our college campuses students believe they have the right to silence those with whom they disagree and tragically some turn to violence to exercise that pitiful point of view.

The meanness is palpable and has turned what once was a country where people left their doors unlocked into one where neighbors lock out those with whom they politically disagree. We may not have shared the same points of view, but it never escalated into hatred and violence.

I always thought a healthy discourse between Americans what was made this country so great. We were allowed to argue about what candidate was best, why we thought so and why we believed they deserved our vote. I felt incredibly grateful to be able to speak out when I looked at the Berlin Wall and how oppressive and frightening it was to live under a totalitarianism regime.

The negativity and sheer disrespect for others displayed not only by Americans, but also by our elected representatives has shifted the karma of this country from one where the streets are paved with gold to the old west where shooting someone for interfering with your enjoyment of a beer was acceptable.

Have we become that egocentric that we believe our intellect so far exceeds those with whom we share the common bond of citizenship?

Reason number two deals with something quite different, the right to like or dislike whom we please. I know it may sound a bit simplistic at first, but in reality it truly is not. Human beings are emotional creatures and until the robots take over and the world becomes solely intellectual we will continue to allow our subjective experiences to guide us.

Hence when we vote our emotions play a part. What one finds reprehensible in one politician may seem endearing to another.

It’s how we’re built and we could no longer change this part of ourselves than find a gas station charging twenty cents a gallon.

We bring our biases into every decision we make. We decide what we like, whom we like and how we will live our life based on previous life experience accumulated through years of living. It’s who and what we are.

If we had a friend we liked and she always wore a certain color red sweater perhaps we’ll be receptive to that shade of red our entire life. Happy memories color our decisions as well as bad ones.

It’s for this reason we may choose to shun someone or take an instant dislike or embrace someone at first meeting. It happens all the time. I am certain this is also true of politicians. Why we may like or dislike them.

Does one perhaps remind you of a teacher you hated in school, a favorite uncle that always showered you with great gifts, or maybe even a neighbor that passed out the best Halloween candy. We have long forgotten the why of our bias, but it has become so engrained in us, it’s unconscious.

If someone chooses to vote or not vote for a politician we like they may have good reason for their decision. The choice may even be an emotionally driven one of which they aren’t even aware. On an emotional level it’s pointless to argue and that level so many times is far more powerful than intellect.

Hating someone for their feelings or bias based on their experience is foolish. It’s like saying I hate you because you’re too educated. That is so un-American. The diversity of this country is what makes it so unique and special. Remember the whole melting pot analogy?

We are all special, and as Americans entitled to think and speak as we please, unless of course that speech may bring harm to others. We are a charitable country that always reaches out to those in times of need.

During Katrina did anyone say I want my donations to go only to a democrat or republican?

When Kennedy died did anyone care about party affiliation as we sobbed shamelessly on one another’s shoulder?

I guess I’ll sum up this blog with a wonderful story from World War I about what is now referred to as the Christmas Truce of 1914. In his book, Silent Night, by Stanley Weintraub, he recounts the story and the following are excerpts.

“All was jarringly quiet on the Western Front when a British sentry suddenly spied a glistening light on the German parapet, less than 100 yards away. Warned that it might be a trap, Brewer slowly raised his head over the soaked sandbags protecting his position and through the maze of barbed wire saw a sparkling Christmas tree. As the lieutenant gazed down the line of the German trenches, a whole string of small conifers glimmered like beads on a necklace.

“Brewer then noticed the rising of a faint sound that he had never before heard on the battlefield—a Christmas carol. The German words to “Stille Nacht” were not familiar, but the tune—“Silent Night”—certainly was. When the German soldiers finished singing, their foes broke out in cheers. Used to returning fire, the British now replied in song with the English version of the carol.

When dawn broke on Christmas morning, something even more remarkable happened. In sporadic pockets along the 500-mile Western Front, unarmed German and Allied soldiers tentatively emerged from the trenches and cautiously crossed no-man’s-land—the killing fields between the trenches littered with frozen corpses, eviscerated trees and deep craters—to wish each other a Merry Christmas. Political leaders had ignored the call of Pope Benedict XV to cease fighting around Christmas, but soldiers in the trenches decided to stage their own unofficial, spontaneous armistices anyway.

“Not every fighting man, particularly those who had just seen comrades killed in action, felt moved by the Christmas spirit. Gunfire continued to be exchanged in certain locations along the front, and in some unfortunate cases soldiers were killed by enemy fire as they emerged from the trenches in the hope for a day of peace. The unsanctioned truce concerned high-ranking officials, afraid that their men might lose the will to fight, and outraged others, including one young German corporal who would launch the next world war. “Such a thing should not happen in wartime,” Adolf Hitler scolded his fellow soldiers. “Have you no German sense of honor left?”

“As the sun set on Christmas, the fighters retreated to their respective trenches. A few ceasefires held until New Year’s Day. In most locations, however, the war resumed on December 26. At 8:30 a.m. in Houplines, Captain Charles Stockwell of the 2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers fired three shots into the air and raised a flag that read “Merry Christmas.” His German counterpart raised a flag that read “Thank you.” The two men then mounted the parapets, saluted each other and returned to their sodden trenches. Stockwell wrote that his counterpart then “fired two shots in the air—and the war was on again.”

“The guns of World War I did not fall silent again until the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. The Christmas Truce, however, provided an unforgettable memory for many such as the British soldier who confessed in a letter the following day, “I wouldn’t have missed the experience of yesterday for the most gorgeous Christmas dinner in England.”

Regrettably, this is a story that probably couldn’t happen in today’s world. The heartfelt yearning for love, home and family these soldiers exhibited exceeded politics and penetrated the very soul and essence of humanity.

How tragic that we, citizens of the greatest country in the world cannot put aside our hate and intolerance to respect the political opinions of others.

I know what my Christmas wish would be this year; that we all find a way back to love and brotherhood in the purest form and stop the ceaseless hate and anger. As Americans we share too much good to turn it all so bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Great Reasons to Hate American Politics

 

I find it difficult to narrow down my distaste for American politics in so few reasons. I am certain if I let myself I’d find hundreds more. Case in point, Congress, there’s 535 damn good reasons right there. But I’ve promised two and I shall stick to that number. After recent threatening remarks by Senator Charles Schumer on the steps of the Supreme Court I realized that Dorothy was in Kansas no longer. No one would have ever dared disrespect and threaten the court when I was young; it was simply unacceptable let alone ever considered. I have watched as politics in this country have devolved into the evilest and most horrifying experience since the shower scene in Psycho. Make no mistake it is on both sides of the aisle.

The first and probably most offensive reason to me is the plain old-fashioned meanness of the whole process. The political arena has the aura of the wicked witch’s candy-coated house in Hansel and Gretel. Oh sure there’s candy in freedom, but inside awaits the horrible oven where she cooked children. I say this with true regret as I relate the tale of what was a true disappointment in my youth the first time I cast my vote.

I was over-the-moon excited. As a Baby Boomer I had lived through tumultuous times, the 1968 Democratic Convention, Martin Luther King, John, and Robert Kennedy assassinations, the Chicago Seven, Watergate, Elvis going into the army, two Darrens on Bewitched, mini skirts and the sheer unattainable skinniness of Twiggy. I was patriotic and excited to become a true member of the club, a voting American about to make my voice heard. I considered it a privilege and an honor, and still do.

I waited in line at the firehouse on my corner and signed my paper to receive my ballot. Back then in primitive times there was paper. I wasn’t certain about how to do it correctly so I asked the woman who’d handed me my ballot for help. She smiled and I pointed to Hubert Humphrey and said, “Do I mark here to vote for him?”

Her face soured immediately and with a chill in her voice that would put an instant end to global warming answered, “If that’s what you want, than I suppose.”

The air immediately left the patriotic balloon I was riding and I fell to earth with a thud. Her tone and look changed the moment from exuberance into ugly and my joy at voting was now colored with negativity.

Oh sure you may say, you were too sensitive. Yes perhaps, but at that time in America I was still foolish enough to believe that we had a right to free speech, free thought and to vote for whomever we pleased without suffering the malice of others. I think that’s why we have the first amendment because our forefathers understood without this freedom there could be no freedom.

Sadly that experience is a Sunday school picnic by today’s standards. A look, a snide remark pale by comparison to what one may suffer today. One may get beaten or worse for their political views now and it seems to be getting worse each day.

Friends and family members have become alienated and people are afraid to exercise free speech. On our college campuses students believe they have the right to silence those with whom they disagree and tragically some turn to violence to exercise that pitiful point of view.

The meanness is palpable and has turned what once was a country where people left their doors unlocked into one where neighbors lock out those with whom they politically disagree. We may not have shared the same points of view, but it never escalated into hatred and violence.

I always thought a healthy discourse between Americans what was made this country so great. We were allowed to argue about what candidate was best, why we thought so and why we believed they deserved our vote. I felt incredibly grateful to be able to speak out when I looked at the Berlin Wall and how oppressive and frightening it was to live under a totalitarianism regime.

The negativity and sheer disrespect for others displayed not only by Americans, but also by our elected representatives has shifted the karma of this country from one where the streets are paved with gold to the old west where shooting someone for interfering with your enjoyment of a beer was acceptable.

Have we become that egocentric that we believe our intellect so far exceeds those with whom we share the common bond of citizenship?

Reason number two deals with something quite different, the right to like or dislike whom we please. I know it may sound a bit simplistic at first, but in reality it truly is not. Human beings are emotional creatures and until the robots take over and the world becomes solely intellectual we will continue to allow our subjective experiences to guide us.

Hence when we vote our emotions play a part. What one finds reprehensible in one politician may seem endearing to another.

It’s how we’re built and we could no longer change this part of ourselves than find a gas station charging twenty cents a gallon.

We bring our biases into every decision we make. We decide what we like, whom we like and how we will live our life based on previous life experience accumulated through years of living. It’s who and what we are.

If we had a friend we liked and she always wore a certain color red sweater perhaps we’ll be receptive to that shade of red our entire life. Happy memories color our decisions as well as bad ones.

It’s for this reason we may choose to shun someone or take an instant dislike or embrace someone at first meeting. It happens all the time. I am certain this is also true of politicians. Why we may like or dislike them.

Does one perhaps remind you of a teacher you hated in school, a favorite uncle that always showered you with great gifts, or maybe even a neighbor that passed out the best Halloween candy. We have long forgotten the why of our bias, but it has become so engrained in us, it’s unconscious.

If someone chooses to vote or not vote for a politician we like they may have good reason for their decision. The choice may even be an emotionally driven one of which they aren’t even aware. On an emotional level it’s pointless to argue and that level so many times is far more powerful than intellect.

Hating someone for their feelings or bias based on their experience is foolish. It’s like saying I hate you because you’re too educated. That is so un-American. The diversity of this country is what makes it so unique and special. Remember the whole melting pot analogy?

We are all special, and as Americans entitled to think and speak as we please, unless of course that speech may bring harm to others. We are a charitable country that always reaches out to those in times of need.

During Katrina did anyone say I want my donations to go only to a democrat or republican?

When Kennedy died did anyone care about party affiliation as we sobbed shamelessly on one another’s shoulder?

I guess I’ll sum up this blog with a wonderful story from World War I about what is now referred to as the Christmas Truce of 1914. In his book, Silent Night, by Stanley Weintraub, he recounts the story and the following are excerpts.

“All was jarringly quiet on the Western Front when a British sentry suddenly spied a glistening light on the German parapet, less than 100 yards away. Warned that it might be a trap, Brewer slowly raised his head over the soaked sandbags protecting his position and through the maze of barbed wire saw a sparkling Christmas tree. As the lieutenant gazed down the line of the German trenches, a whole string of small conifers glimmered like beads on a necklace.

“Brewer then noticed the rising of a faint sound that he had never before heard on the battlefield—a Christmas carol. The German words to “Stille Nacht” were not familiar, but the tune—“Silent Night”—certainly was. When the German soldiers finished singing, their foes broke out in cheers. Used to returning fire, the British now replied in song with the English version of the carol.

When dawn broke on Christmas morning, something even more remarkable happened. In sporadic pockets along the 500-mile Western Front, unarmed German and Allied soldiers tentatively emerged from the trenches and cautiously crossed no-man’s-land—the killing fields between the trenches littered with frozen corpses, eviscerated trees and deep craters—to wish each other a Merry Christmas. Political leaders had ignored the call of Pope Benedict XV to cease fighting around Christmas, but soldiers in the trenches decided to stage their own unofficial, spontaneous armistices anyway.

“Not every fighting man, particularly those who had just seen comrades killed in action, felt moved by the Christmas spirit. Gunfire continued to be exchanged in certain locations along the front, and in some unfortunate cases soldiers were killed by enemy fire as they emerged from the trenches in the hope for a day of peace. The unsanctioned truce concerned high-ranking officials, afraid that their men might lose the will to fight, and outraged others, including one young German corporal who would launch the next world war. “Such a thing should not happen in wartime,” Adolf Hitler scolded his fellow soldiers. “Have you no German sense of honor left?”

“As the sun set on Christmas, the fighters retreated to their respective trenches. A few ceasefires held until New Year’s Day. In most locations, however, the war resumed on December 26. At 8:30 a.m. in Houplines, Captain Charles Stockwell of the 2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers fired three shots into the air and raised a flag that read “Merry Christmas.” His German counterpart raised a flag that read “Thank you.” The two men then mounted the parapets, saluted each other and returned to their sodden trenches. Stockwell wrote that his counterpart then “fired two shots in the air—and the war was on again.”

“The guns of World War I did not fall silent again until the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. The Christmas Truce, however, provided an unforgettable memory for many such as the British soldier who confessed in a letter the following day, “I wouldn’t have missed the experience of yesterday for the most gorgeous Christmas dinner in England.”

Regrettably, this is a story that probably couldn’t happen in today’s world. The heartfelt yearning for love, home and family these soldiers exhibited exceeded politics and penetrated the very soul and essence of humanity.

How tragic that we, citizens of the greatest country in the world cannot put aside our hate and intolerance to respect the political opinions of others.

I know what my Christmas wish would be this year; that we all find a way back to love and brotherhood in the purest form and stop the ceaseless hate and anger. As Americans we share too much good to turn it all so bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Fat Are You? 110 Pounds Thinner, Thank You

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How Fat Are You?

110 Pounds Thinner, Thank You

I haven’t really ever taken on weight as a subject, but I feel it’s time to impart my take on the whole food/weight thing. There are so many opinions in this area the lights of Broadway dim by comparison.

Many of those opinions lack the true knowledge of living in a fat world and what it means to be bursting out of your clothes and not see your feet for years.

I lost 110 pounds twenty six years ago and have managed through daily battles to keep it off. No applause please; just throw money.

This is not a tome to brag about my weight loss or have everyone cluck his or her tongue and say, “Well she’s not really that thin, just how fat was she?”

I merely feel it’s time for someone who has been there and done that to speak out.

Losing weight is not a war one ever wins. It’s a series of battles and many we unfortunately lose.

Every day in human existence is fraught with land mines waiting to explode under our feet.

No matter how we start our day, we have no guarantee how it will end.

We may think, today I’m going to eat healthy, and then suddenly a friend calls and says, “I’m picking you up in twenty minutes; I have reservations at that fabulous new restaurant we’ve been dying to try.”

Resolve or no resolve, you’re going down. No one is going to go to a restaurant that makes the most phenomenal pizza outside of Naples, Italy and have a chef’s salad.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned in this life it’s that there is no black and white, only gray.

Why should we be torn with guilt if we have the pizza?

Shouldn’t we be jubilant at the prospects of enjoying something new with a friend?

I want to say right now I’m not espousing eating pizza and not following whatever it takes to stay healthy, and I know there are many schools of thought about this. I am strictly talking about guilt related to food. I have already designated pizza as my last meal so I’m not objective here.

Not any conscious decision to eat plant based, vegan, keto or any of the other new age versions of a healthy diet may change your relationship with food. Unless you are dead set on doing so.

This is all about you, your snickers bar and the relationship you share.

How does one lose weight really? Is it a combination of foods? Many would have us believe that if you eat a certain food with another they become best friends and attack your fat together.

Okay whatever! I’ve never found two foods that would gang up to attack fat. In my body it’s every man for himself and it’s been my experience that everyone has a different body.

I have a friend whose doctor told her that she has the metabolism of a corpse.

Some people run and are incredibly active all day. Others sit at their desk and write, some try to get in a bit of walking when they can. The point is we are all different and our calorie count should reflect these differences.

I could never eat what an athlete can. I have to allow for the fact that some days I’m sitting and writing, or reading or pitifully inactive.

I can’t eat much on those days or my metabolism laughs at me and starts building new fat condos in my midsection. I can hear the construction noises as I go through the day.

I also know that certain foods love me too much. So much in fact, once I eat them they never want to leave. Like that guest at the party that keeps talking even as your eyes are closing. These would be the carbohydrate family.

Oh you all know them; the breads, chips, cookies, cakes, brownies, candy and potatoes clan. They are so in love with me I think the fat under my right arm is all from the onion rings I ate at Big Boy when I was sixteen years old.

They love to snuggle in the smaller crevices of my body and expand to fit their needs.

Chocolate is my biggest nemesis because it knows it owns me. So once I have one piece of Sees candy it keeps screaming for more knowing full well I haven’t the power to say no.

I have found however that eating these carb foods earlier in the day does give my poor, old tired metabolism a bit of extra time to face them head on. There may be casualties, but not as many.

The sad part about loving food is it’s an affair that never ends. Not until the doctor says you must stop eating those foods or die do you give any consideration to a break up.

Sadder still is that so many are not swayed by such threats and continue eating until the inevitable result.

However there are those that keep eating, are overweight and can’t get through a door and seem to keep on keeping on even as skinny people die.

Go figure? I can’t.

There is one silver lining to getting older. You can’t eat as much. Hence the sharing of a sandwich by couples at the deli and the early bird special.

So what can one do to fight against the cravings and love we all feel for our foodie favorites?

I can only say what has worked for me and I must add not all the time, but a battle or two.

I eat 90% of my food early in the day. I find it prevents me from gaining. Even when I treat myself to pizza I can diminish the damage by giving my body the whole day to work its magic.

I don’t eat at night for two reasons, I gain weight and I’m up all night feeling full and yucky. Yucky referring to a term used to describe bloated and full from that chocolate cake I shouldn’t have eaten before bed.

If I’m craving a certain food I make a plan to eat it beforehand.

Say I want a chocolate brownie, which I guess would be most days actually. Anyhow I say to myself, okay I’m going to the mall on such a day. I will go early and walk around for an extra hour to work off my brownie. That way I don’t feel as guilty.

No one should diet. That is the key. Everyone should find their sweet spot of maintenance and eat that many calories every day. Then we can treat ourselves to something wonderful once a week.

I literally think about what would make me happy in my cravings closet and plan for the moment. Surprisingly there are many weeks you don’t need to, or if you put off the craving it dissipates and disappears.

One of the worst things I used to do was get a craving for example Oreos, but there were none in the house. So I would try every food in my kitchen to alleviate the need for that Oreo taste. Results, no Oreos and a weight gain at the end of the day. Just learn delayed gratification and you’ll find it a good friend for life. Many nights I’d think of a food I want to eat and say okay I’ll eat it tomorrow and by the morning I didn’t want it anymore.

I’ve found it helps when you crave a cookie or piece of candy to buy a single serving not bake or buy a whole package. One cookie probably won’t hurt, a whole package loosen your belt time.

If you’re a crunchaholic and need to hear your food being eaten from a mile away, I won’t suggest an apple even though it could work for you.

Although apples are the better choice, I know when the potato chip or popcorn craving comes a calling one must open that door.

Still there are many great options today. Tasty low calorie choices so you don’t have to do the damage to your waist you once did. You can also change your favorite recipes to be a bit healthier and calorie lighter.

We all have good and bad days watching our weight. One bad choice doesn’t lose the war. You needn’t go crazy binging because you feel guilty over that Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Just eat and enjoy, then move on making healthier choices afterward.

I know all the things I’ve told you aren’t new or different than what you’ve heard before, but surprisingly most people revert back to old habits where food is concerned. I have to take each day as a different foodie challenge and deal with it accordingly.

Fat cells are little gorilla warriors just hiding inside your body waiting for you to slip up and then they attack.

I admit I eat much healthier now, far less food and treat myself less frequently; although I have been known to lose many battles to chocolate gummy bears and paid a hefty price.

The most important thing is to like yourself, stay healthy, be proud of every battle you win and never wear elastic waist pants.

Weight loss is a difficult opponent and if you win, the prize is feeling and looking good.

Wishing you luck and just write me if you need any support. No war was ever won by a single battle or a single soldier, so go out and win, win, win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Queen Elizabeth, All Americans Aren’t Meghan

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No, Queen Elizabeth, All Americans Aren’t Meghan

With so much attention these days on the royal family and no millennials, I’m not talking about the Kardashians; I’m feeling immense sympathy for Queen Elizabeth. Why you ask, would Norma Zager feel sorry for the Queen?

With very good reason actually. She is a queen it’s true, but she is also a grandmother. Incidentally a very involved one since Harry and William lost their mother so young and it fell to her to become the female authority figure in their young lives. It must be very difficult for her to watch her grandsons unhappy or making bad decisions, just as any grandmother would.

William seems to have towed the party line. Despite his enormous pain at the loss of his mother, he rose to the occasion and selected and fell in love with a woman who in all aspects reflects a royal demeanor. Kate not only won William’s heart but she succeeded to win over the English people and the world. Her grace, refinement and charm have succeeded in creating a mate for the Prince that most deem highly appropriate and positive for a future queen.

Harry as we all have seen, has not dealt well with his position and tragic history. The loss of his mother took a large chunk out of his soul that he has been unable to repair and of course could never replace.

His behavior has been erratic, embarrassing and decidedly un-royal, but the public forgives his weaknesses and trespasses because he is loved.

Enter Meghan Markle. Oops! Now we have a new wrinkle in the royal laundry.

From all accounts the Queen Grandmother seemed to be welcoming because as we all know, what makes our children and grandchildren happy, is fine with us.

Yet, things quickly took a negative turn when Meghan’s family exhibited the signs of, how shall we put it, less than classy and talked to a hungry press about their dirty family secrets.

However, instead of placing the blame where it belonged with the Markle clan, she chose to deride the royals. Poor pitiful Meghan no one stood up for her as she was being attacked by her own family.

I’m sure it hurt in fact I know it does, but what was her reaction to this unpleasant piece of Markle business?

She became defensive instead of understanding that it would never do for the Queen or Prince Charles to come out swinging at anyone.

It is simply not done.

Meghan believed that because she is an American, she can open her big American mouth, as we all do and state her opinions. So sorry Honey, but you’re not in Kansas anymore.

Perhaps the press might have reacted more favorably toward you had you not been so obvious in your distain toward all things royal. It is what it is, get over it.

The royal family lives by a far different standard. Oh, of course they are well compensated for their lack of ability to speak their minds at all times, but sweetie get a grip. A crown is not free and comes with a cost.

Obviously Kate understood this truth and it’s why she’s a beloved member of the royal family.

While poor Meghan was crying into her Hermes handkerchief, she was also slathering her negativity upon Harry. Hasn’t he been through enough? And hasn’t the Queen?

Few people can resist the pomp and circumstance of the royal family. They are the reality television of England and watching their foibles and fashions is a guilty pleasure shared by countless Americans.

The viewing audience for the Kate and Wills’ wedding was astronomical and of course we all sat transfixed to the screen as yet another Windsor regaled us with the possibility of an English happily ever after, despite the grave feast of disappointment offered up by Charles and Diana.

Americans were nostalgic at how much Kate reminded us of our own royal Princess Grace, and aside from the gowns and uproarious chapeaus donned copiously on that royal day, I was struck by something perhaps most overlooked.

Of course as a grandmother, I see things differently and through the lens of all things grandchildren and

I was surprised to witness the fact the Queen of England seems to feel the same way.

Although the wedding was beautiful I managed to escape teary moments, romance aside, until for one split second I found myself face to face with a grandmother’s love and then the tears flowed like water.

Yes, right there in St. Paul’s Cathedral as William and Kate stopped after their nuptials to bow in respect as they headed back up the aisle, the Queen bowed her head and I saw the Grandma lip quiver as clear as day.

Oh she caught herself of course as any self-respecting and quite contained royal would do. Elizabeth more than most is dedicated to composure as the monarch, yet for one brief second she couldn’t contain her grandmother’s love for her grandson.

Her lip quivered and she looked down to hide the rush of emotion only a grandma could feel watching her beloved grandchild heading out into life, a married man, a new wife and a new life.

I imagined it must have been especially difficult for her as perhaps a fleeting memory of William’s pain at losing his mother washed over her and forced her to stand staunch against the tide of emotion attacking from all sides.

And of course Elizabeth in her well-practiced and inimitable way retained composure and caught that tear before it escaped her eye to fall onto a careworn cheek.

Yes, despite all of our differences at that moment we bonded as grandmothers, and I knew for certain Elizabeth is quite human after all. She has her weaknesses and one of them is William.

Her façade, her inner strength, her public persona all fell away when faced with the emotions of grandma love.

Shame on me for my utter surprise when so many of her grandchildren have praised her devotion. Princess Eugenie for example recounts how, “Granny would take us raspberry picking, and we’d have the raspberry jam that we picked that day on the table for tea.”

Kate first meeting her was surprised to learn the Queen played video games.

And yes part of my surprise does relate to the reputation of the English for being more affectionate with their dogs than their children.

I now know I was wrong and proven so by a quivering lip.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that indeed the Queen of England and I, an American cousin, have so much in common.

We are both no more than grandmas and that is a powerful and positive bond no matter who or what you are.

Now as her new great grandson, Archie, is removed to a country far away I’m certain she is saddened. A face-time chat is only second best to holding your grandchildren and great grandchildren in your arms and coochy-cooing them in person.

Since we can’t always choose our loved ones’ partners, even royalty, it’s more evident than ever to me that life doesn’t always turn out as we planned for any of us, even if you’re the Queen of England.

 

 

 

 

Chewbacca has Left The Building

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Chewbacca has Left the Building

Peter Mayhew AKA Chewbacca, Chewy, Han Solo’s BFF and iconic sidekick died this year without the usual fanfare accorded a superstar.

There were no news breaks, day and night and even weekly coverage like a Kobe or a Michael, just a sense of loss on so many levels from Star Wars fans.

Not to denigrate from others’ greatness, but if you cut us do we not bleed?

To a Star Wars geek the loss of Chewy is a giant blow, pun intended. He was able while wearing a costume to evoke emotions some actors can’t do while the camera is staring right at their face. He also suffered physical pain and difficulties while creating an iconic character and handled it all with class and professionalism.

Chewy was lovable, loyal, funny, protective and smart. His utterances transcended words and fans loved the character and appreciated that the man who played him hit exactly the right notes.

I want to know who decides. Who says this person is more important and deserves more coverage than another? Who in the entertainment business speaks for us all?

Watching the Academy Awards, while hoping my gag reflex didn’t fail me I was shocked that Kirk Douglas’s death wasn’t mentioned the entire night until the pictures of the dead rolled on the giant screen. Kirk Douglas is just one of the throng? Really? Seriously?

I know that most of old Hollywood was either dead or missing in action at the awards ceremonies, proving the theory that old people are not welcome, but to not even mention a man like Kirk Douglas, an icon, and a legitimate legend.

At one point in the “festivities” Tom Hanks who was speaking about AMPAS, ended with “I am Spartacus,” alluding to Kirk Douglas’s iconic words in Spartacus.

That was it. A shout out to Hanks, but can’t the academy do better?

Not a single actor acknowledged him in any way. No “we lost a legend a few days ago” speech, nod or comment on a man that so contributed to Hollywood’s reputation. Just a cavalier, “another one bites the dust,” kind of attitude.

Tom Hanks was the only one who felt compelled to honor a legend? How sad.

What are the Academy Awards anyway? The entire industry takes itself so damn seriously, but it is that one night a year we are most reminded of their ego.

The fashion is no longer as entertaining as when Joan Rivers mocked and trashed the celebs parading across the red carpet. The movies are many no one has even seen or heard of anymore. Heaven forbid a movie that actually rakes in billions should be given a shout out. Hello Avengers, Star Wars, etc.

A place where Hollywood goes to convince itself it’s more than all that and stars become political commentators while everyone pats everyone else on the back because they finally caught one of the bad guys, Harvey Weinstein; with no help from Hollywood, by the way.

A show where the best acting is done by the losers who pretend to be happy for those who just beat them out for the award.

Shouldn’t there be a category for the Peter Mayhews who must act beneath ten tons of makeup and a confining costume. For someone who can create a character that is beloved by hundreds of millions across the globe.

Chewy didn’t need no stinkin’ subtitles to create a legend.

I’m not equating Kirk Douglas and Mayhew. They were far different actors, yet both excelled at their craft.

If numbers are the judge Chewy had as many fans as Michael Jackson or Kobe Bryant.

If character is the criteria, Mayhew and Harrison Ford created a more iconic and world renown team than Abbot and Costello.

Perhaps it’s because the geek in me was fired up when Chewy and Kirk Douglas’s deaths went so unheralded by the news and their own colleagues.

Douglas was part of a time when Hollywood was golden and stars were stars, and the big screen held magic and wonder because movies were played on giant screens instead of an iphone. One escaped into the world of make believe not into the palm of their own hand for escape.

Douglas was a true gentleman and an artist. I met him and I can say that first hand.

Mayhew was part of a franchise so gigantic that only something as huge as the mouse AKA Disney could take over and be trusted to carry on its greatness.

Unfortunately, I should be more surprised than I am by the slight, but in the end I, with all my fellow fans salute two Hollywood greats, along with many others that left the building this year.

The Hollywood sign outside my window is looking just a little rustier and older than before.

No Beverly Hills plastic surgeon can cover the mark they both left on the entertainment world.

RIP Kirk and Chewy, you will never be forgotten.