And Christmas Goes On

Most of the world finished celebrating Christmas the night of December 25th. After the presents were opened and the children were once again tucked into their beds, while actual sugar plums danced through their tummies, many people were wondering just how long they had to wait to take the tree down. Since I spent most of my life in California and Florida, those people with “real” Christmas trees were wondering how long before their trees constituted a fire hazard.

In my faith tradition, we celebrate the “Christmas season” AFTER Christmas Day. We have twelve more days of hollying, jollying… and holy-ing after the holiday itself. Not that any of this kept me from getting my merry on before Christmas Day. I frenzied my festivities with the best of them. As a result, the concept that there is twelve more days of celebration is daunting. On the other hand, the fact that we are still officially in the “Christmas season” gives me license to continue blogging about my holiday cheer. Christmas day may be past, but my holiday navel-gazing continues. You’re welcome!

In last week’s blog, I reported on my daily hunt for Kringle, my elf on the shelf. I enjoyed this activity more than any grown woman should. Max enjoyed helping Kringle hide more than most people would expect. He is not the most whimsical guy in the world, but I was holding out for a hero (cue the Bonnie Tyler music), and I got one with him. I also got a kick out of the fact that Kringle’s popularity spread to some of my friends this year, who asked for daily photos to update them on Kringle’s mischief.

Elf-hunting was not my own celebratory activity this “before Christmas” season. Let me tell you about a few more.

Max and I went to a dinner party with our bestest church friends a week or so before Christmas. It truly struck me that evening that I have a new kind of family in my old age… a family of friends. The people with whom we celebrated at that dinner party (and a few others here in Florida and in California) are the ones I can trust to support, love, and help me through this latest phase of my life. I am very, very blessed. This realization was a wonderful gift.

I received another exquisite gift the Sunday before Christmas. My pastor’s wife, Kathleen, has a tradition of making gingerbread houses with the children in her life each Christmas. Kathleen knows that I have a gingerbread fixation. Gingerbread is my catnip. Therefore, this year she asked me if I would like to join them. Now, to be perfectly truthful, my elevated level of social anxiety would normally drive me to make an excuse not to go. Typically, I would be afraid of not fitting in or not knowing what to say or what to do or when it is appropriate to go home. However, something about the invitation really, really appealed to me. I agreed to join them. The anxiety did not abandon me. On and off for a couple of weeks, I dithered significantly whenever I thought about the gathering. However, I kept coming back to the knowledge that I really, really did want to go. I told myself that I was going to be fine… that I did not have to know, do, or be anything other than just myself. Kathleen invited me because she wanted to be nice and she wanted ME- not some perfectly secure, poised, polished person who does not exist (except for that imaginary one who is taunting me in the darker side of my mind.)

I went to the gingerbread jamboree and had a wonderful time. There was so much laughter, love, and energy. There were children and dogs running around producing an energizing momentum of positivity (I am sure the sugar did not hurt that particular biochemical reaction!) The adults played at making their gingerbread houses with as much abandon as the children. People seemed happy to have me there. In fact, Kathleen’s youngest daughter greeted me with a delighted, over-the-moon exclamation, “YOU CAME!!” It would be hard to imagine how I could have felt more welcome. This event was exactly what I did not know I needed. I sat at the long table, with a dog lying on my feet. I stuck gingerbread together with royal icing. I learned how to make a heart out of two candy canes. I admired the work of my gingerbread colleagues of all ages. It was perfect. When I finished, I bundled my gingerbread house (now permanently cemented to a plastic plate with said royal icing) into my car and headed home. My gingerbread house was not pretty, but the experience was beautiful.

I also went caroling in our community the week before Christmas. A friend of mine heads up this effort each year. We parade through the community in golf carts.

 We visit the homes of people who cannot get out into the world as much as they once did. We bring cookies and sing a couple of carols on each visit. The good news is that this activity requires no actual singing ability. In fact, it is more effective if the music is not too perfect. It is joyful and loud and accompanied by random jingle bells. We are a funny lot, dressed in Christmas regalia as loud as our voices. I take pride in looking like an elf. It was cold and rainy this year, but that did not stop us. I sat on the back of a friend’s golf cart, bouncing along our merry Christmas way. After an hour of holly jollying, we end up at the community center and stuffed ourselves with snacks. At some point, my month-long sugar rush is going to wear off and then, well, God bless us, every one.

All these events were fun and meaningful to me, but I also participated in a special event of my own this year. I knew I was jumping into a holiday world filled with people and stimulation and new ways of looking at things for me. As I have mentioned in the past, I have been working with a life coach over the past few months to help me be more comfortable with myself and take advantage of opportunities for happiness (Todd Payne, Life Coach (  One of the things I have learned is that I tend to allow anxiety and insecurity keep me from doing things that might increase my happiness. When something frightens me, I am apt to just not do it instead of finding a way to challenge the anxiety.

This year, I decided to try to plunge into life during the holiday season, but to be respectful of my tendency to become anxious. I built in “silent night” time each day for the two weeks before Christmas. Each day, I spent a short time- five minutes or so- simply being quiet and letting my soul go where it wanted to go. Invariably, my soul wanted to go to God. I spent my “silent night” time thinking about saying “yes” to God and all He wants for me. I spent my “silent night” time realizing that there is no need to let anxiety dictate my actions because God is much more powerful than my anxiety. I won’t say that I have always succeeded or that I think my struggles with anxiety are a thing of the past. I am sure I will need to keep showing my anxiety who is boss, for the rest of my life. The thing that I am celebrating this Christmas is that I am finding that I can show anxiety who is boss. I do not think I could ever have honestly said that in the past.

What did you learn this holiday season? How do you think your life will be different going forward? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Merry Christmas Season!

Terri/Dorry 😊

the front door of my gingerbread house- do you think it should be condemned?
even the heart I made out of candy canes is off-kilter!
The caroling elf!

Spreading The Elf

Those of you who have been traveling through life with me over the past several years know that December is elf of the shelf month in my house. Every morning, Max hides my miniature elf, Kringle, somewhere in the great room at the front of my house. I search for him each day and, boy, does he get into some mischief. Kringle is very, very little,  He is about as long as my thumb and about half the width of my thumb. Unfortunately, because he is so small and his limbs tend to be a bit delicate, he has had a few amputations over the years. He has lost bits of appendages, which makes him even smaller. His size makes it extremely easy for him to hide in places where he is almost undetectable. Sometimes, I need a lot of hints. This year, though, I’ve been hot on the Kringle trail most mornings. Both Max and I look forward to playing our elf game. It makes me quite giddy. Yes, I am very, very weird.

But maybe I am not the only one who is very, very weird. Two of my friends are intrigued by my elf adventures. They asked me to text them pictures each morning to show what Kringle was up to. We have invented quite the elaborate mythology around the process.

One morning, Kringle was at the bottom of a Moscow mule cup and another morning, he hid in a double shot glass. We decided the all-night benders had to stop and recommended that it was time for an intervention. The next day, he obviously felt he needed wise counsel and hid in the pages of my devotional booklet. Another day, he was trying to read the Bible, but his hands were too tiny to open the book. We took him on our annual Disney holiday vacation, and, on the last day, he was obviously ready to go home because he was hiding in my open purse. Once, he was sitting in the corner, behind the sliding shutters in the dining room, facing the wall. We decided he must have been misbehaving in elf school. On another morning, he was hiding behind one of the legs of our kitchen table. I said it was a lucky thing it did not take me long to find him because it took me pretty much all day to get up again after wiggling myself down to find him. My elf-finding skills may be improving with age, but my elf-retrieval skills are not!

I am glad that my friends are enjoying Kringle’s adventures with me. Sometimes, in the weird world within my brain, it can feel kind of lonely. After all, I cannot expect upstanding, reasonable adults to understand my obsession with a three-inch piece of plastic. It is nice to know that other people do live in Weird World, too. Or maybe that is going a bit too far. Maybe no one else really lives in my Weird World, but I love it when they come to visit!

Have a holly, jolly, very merry Christmas! Here’s to Kringle and spreading the cheer… one elf at a time!

Kringle had a hard night and woke up at the bottom of a Moscow Mule mug! He needs an intervention!

What is your weirdest Christmas tradition?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a very merry, holly jolly Christmas, everybody!!!!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Merry Christmas, One And All!

I must admit that it is sometimes difficult to wish quite so many people quite so much merry.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas and all that goes with it. It is just that it gets so “peoply” out there at this time of year. I can remember how time between Thanksgiving and Christmas used to drag when I was a kid. Now, the festive season of the year seems to go racing past at a dangerous speed as we all try to get our holly on at the same time. Not only is the road to Christmas a superhighway with no apparent speed limit, it is also a highly congested superhighway. As I navigate my fully packed calendar, trying to cram all the jolly possible into a few short weeks, I am regularly dismayed by the endless number of people I must dodge.

I am a bit spoiled because the “Christmas rush” of people was non-existent last year because of COVID. I was out and about and trying to enjoy some festivities in as safe a manner as possible, but most of the rest of the world was still buttoned up. This year, it is something of a free-for-all. I am vaccinated and boosted, as are most of the people I know. Mask mandates and social distancing requirements are becoming less suffocating. Clearly, most of the country feels safe enough to engage with the world again. They all seem to be engaging with it at the same time I am.

I am happy that life is starting to get back to normal. Or, should I say, I am happy the life is going through another one of the “safer” cycles. I have been lulled into thinking normalcy was right around the corner a couple of times over the past twenty months. I was getting ready to have a mask-burning party at one point. Luckily, I stayed my hand. Now, I am even considering buying more masks. The huge wardrobe of masks I purchased in the first nine months of the pandemic are starting to get threadbare. Also, my buying more masks could ensure that there is never a need for masks again. That is the way I roll. It is hard to know what to do when COVID trends are so incredibly fickle.

Despite the lack of certainty, many people have decided to just venture out into the world. And I keep tripping over them.

In my neighborhood, pre-COVID, there was always a significant uptick in traffic between October and May. I live in a community where snowbird migration is a real thing. I am not complaining about traffic because I come from Southern California. Even winter traffic here is for amateurs. Still, it was always noteworthy when the migration occurred each year. Once COVID happened, snow birding stopped. People stayed put wherever they were, north or south. Traffic in central Florida stayed stable. In fact, it decreased because so many people were staying home until they could be vaccinated. This week our winter influx of people has returned with a vengeance.

A week ago, Max and I went on our annual holiday mini-vacation at Disney World. On our last trip to Disney World before we moved to Florida, I grew sad when I realized that I might never stay overnight at Disney World again. Max reminded me that living only forty miles from the most magical place does not mean you are banned from reserving hotel rooms. Disney will happily take our money whether we live across the country or across the street. Starting in 2015, we have spent one or two nights in early December on property. I love being able to see the decorations, lights, and special shows without having to think about driving home in the dark after tramping around a theme park all day.

It was a strange trip in 2020. Although the parks had re-opened with COVID safety measures in place, many hotels and restaurants were still closed. Some of the experiences we love during Disney Christmas were not operational. As far as I am concerned, socially distanced lines should be a forever thing at Disney. Forcing people to keep six feet away from each other and OUT OF MY PERSONAL SPACE was a boon to my comfort level. No kids stepping on the backs of my ankles. No being belted by somebody’s backpack. No co-mingling of oxygen. On the other hand, the quiet was a little spooky. It felt almost furtive to scuttle around in relatively empty parks.     

As our trip approached in 2021, we were looking forward to a more “pre-COVID-like” experience. Our favorite resort reopened. Disney was again offering a version of their Candlelight Processional show, which is my favorite thing about a Disney Christmas. In looking through the various Disney food blogs, I saw gingerbread of every ilk on a variety of menus. While some experiences are still not back, the vast majority of our typical Disney holiday trip were again in the offing.

What I did not expect, however, was that the crowds were also back. Let me rephrase that. I did expect that the crowds would be back; I just did not expect that the entire free world would be spending the first week of December at Disney World. I have been to Disney many, many times. I have even been to Disney World the weekend before the 4th of July. Never have I experienced the crowds that we slugged our way through during this trip. Luckily for us, we have annual passes and make many trips a year, so we had no huge agenda for this trip other than seeing the holiday decorations and watching the Candlelight Processional. The crowds, while a bit oppressive to maneuver, were not really a barrier to doing what we wanted to do. It was just an odd experience to see SO MANY PEOPLE.

In retrospect, it makes sense. All the folks who typically take trips once a year or so have been incubating at home for the past two years. They have been bursting with energy, desire for distraction, and entertainment budget dollars. We probably had not only this year’s Disney Christmas crowd, but last year’s as well.

It is taking me a long time to write this piece. Typically, when that happens, it is because something isn’t setting right with me. In reading over what I’ve written so far, I realize I am sounding whiny and ungrateful. I do not mean to be. I am excited to see the world come back to life. Plowing through crowds at Disney is a first world problem of the highest order, both from a global geopolitical perspective and a COVID perspective.

 I can certainly handle an excess of people if it means that the world is safer and that the economy is healthier.

The thing is, I am not certain that the world is coming back to life. I fear getting duped again. Last spring, when COVID numbers were falling, I happily slipped into celebration as we started to engage with each other in real life again. Only a few weeks later, the COVID catastrophe grew new legs and shut us down even tighter than before. Now, as we unmask again, I find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. Indeed, the omicron variant is increasing the COVID case numbers again. I know we are cautiously optimistic that this variant, while very contagious, may not be as severe as the prior variants. It still seems pretty overwhelming. Just at a time when I should be feeling hopeful, I despair of ever feeling normal again.

My life coach explained something about anxiety to me. He said that anxiety is always future-focused. Anxiety is about wondering what I will do or how I will handle a situation if it happens. I don’t have to wonder about what I will do or how I will manage something that is in the present- I am already doing and handling, so there is no need to wonder. Maybe there is a lesson in this revelation that applies to my COVID despair this Christmas.

Maybe it is time to enjoy the merry right now and stop worrying about whether it will be snatched away tomorrow. Yes, be careful. Keep my vaccination boosted, as necessary. Mask up if the COVID statistics so suggest. Stop passing the peace at church if the need arises. But for now, stop thinking of COVID as either ongoing or over. Just enjoy the pause.

How are you feeling about the COVID progression?  What was COVID-19 is about ready to be COVID-22.  How do we keep living through this apparently never-ending pandemic?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Happy Holidays!

Terri/Dorry 😊

It’s Gift-Giving Time!

I am here today to provide a Public Service Announcement. I may be too late for Hannukah, but I want to take a little stress off your minds as you consider Christmas presents for your nearest and dearest.

Books are wonderful presents! You can order them from Amazon and have them delivered directly to your giftee. No extra trips to the post office. You do not even need wrapping paper. I understand that this might seem a little sterile and impersonal, but I have a way to make this “unwrapped, delivered by a third party” gift the most meaningful gift your giftee has ever received. When you see that the gift has been delivered… because God bless Amazon…, you can either contact the recipient and tell them to put the package under the tree or you can have them open it, depending on how tied up in tradition your jingle bells are. Then, either at that time (if the person is opening the gift then) or on Christmas (if the Amazon package is waiting patiently under someone’s tree), send a supplemental email or text that explains specifically why you chose that particular book for the giftee. This explanation could demonstrate a shared bond or memory with the recipient, something special you admire about the giftee, a sincere wish for them in the coming year, or some other information that shows the recipient just how special he or she is to you. This is how you infuse individuality into what may seem to be an uninspired gift. Some recipients may even print out your explanation and house it in the book. Or, if you are at all crafty, you could make a bookmark with the explanation on it, and either give it to the person when you see them or put it in a regular mail envelope.

Now, if you want some suggestions on what books to give…

I have two books that are available on Amazon. My first book, Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement, would be perfect for someone who is considering starting their own post-career adventure. It would even work well for someone who is not ready to retire but sees that day on the horizon or someone who isn’t thinking about retirement but is dealing with a lot of change in his or her life. I tend not to be proud of anything I do, but I’m really proud of this book. It is funny, poignant, and practical. I thought it was out of print, but I just tried ordering it on Amazon as an experiment. The copy I ordered will be in my mailbox next week. The other book, Random (A)Musings is full of funny stories and bizarre observations about life. I remember reading a cartoon one time that had the tagline, “Bravo for life’s little ironies.”  Random (A)Musings is all about life’s little (and big) ironies. I authored this book during the first disorienting weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. It helped a lot to find things about which to laugh. It also helped to remember, that most of us have a lifetime of practice at successfully navigating random, odd misadventures. COVID is just one more.

You can buy either or both of these volumes through Amazon. You can buy as many copies for as many people as you like. I certainly won’t stop you.

Gladsome Gift-Giving. You’re welcome.

Do you think books are good gifts? Do you have any special ways you personalize them? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a giving day!

Terri/Dorry 😊