What Holiday tradition do you currently celebrate with your family?

What Holiday tradition do you currently celebrate with your family?

Jennifer

A new tradition, yet one that will stay with us, is Holiday Lights. For the past 4-5 years, Joe, the kids and me have been going to Holiday Lights and Wild Waves.

Wild Waves is an amusement park here in Federal Way. It is the only one in Washington State and I am lucky enough to live about eight minutes up the road. I stay as far away from it as I can in the summer. Not only does it have an array of rides, it also has a water park (assuming you did not figure that out from the name “Wild Waves”)

In the month of December, Wild Waves transforms itself from your summer retreat to a magical winter wonderland. Upon entering the park, you have to cross Candy Cane Lane, which is a nice little walk that takes you over a small bridge into the theme park. Candy Cane Lane is filled with, well, candy canes. Each side of the pathway is lit up, and it’s just perfect. That’s how you know, “This is it, this is what we have waited for.”

Although Santa is usually busy preparing for his upcoming trip, he sends some of his elves to the village to entertain the kids where they can enjoy some snow while writing a letter to Santa. After the village, we always head to the merry-go-round. Gracie Sofia, Vinnie and even Joe mount up on a horse, while I try to keep my balance by taking pictures…..for memories.

You can buy yourself a fried Twinkie or Twix bar. Have a steaming hot cup of hot chocolate, or my personal favorite, pick up some homemade fudge at the candy shop.

When we are ready to leave, Joe and I bribe the kids with dinner out. That’s the only way we can get them to agree to leave without throwing a fit. “Noooo. I do not want to goooooo!” Food always wins. About five minutes up the road from the theme parks is a Shari’s. We always stop there afterwards. As soon as you enter through the double doors, the aroma of homemade cakes and greasy burgers takes over your senses. You cannot get any better than that. 

After dinner, we come home and usually watch some sort of Christmas movie together. We take turns picking out a movie, and this year it is my turn. A bit outside of the box, “The Ref.” it’s one of my all time favorite movies with Dennis Leary and Kevin Spacey. I highly recommend it if you have not seen it.

The month of December is so busy. It flies by in a flash. I feel it is important to take a day, to be IN the moment, to create memories. Take a break from all the buying, the cooking, the wrapping, the stressing and be present.

Now…let’s hear about a current holiday tradition that you celebrate with your family!

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Christin

My kids are only 18 months apart. This can be a curse or a blessing, most days it’s a disaster. However, since they were small I’ve always bought them matching pajamas to be opened on Christmas Eve. Every year they would gather around and open their neatly, wrapped pajamas and slippers. They would put them on and of course, I would take pictures. A lot of pictures. We’ve kept this tradition up for the last 10 years or so. This happens to be one of my favorite traditions with my kids..until this year. I was kindly informed that I need not buying matching Christmas pajamas for them anymore. My daughter thinks it’s “ridiculous” and my son, well, he thinks it’s “cringy”. Whatever that means. At this point, why am I going to take an hour and nicely wrap and put ribbon on these presents that they 1.)Already know what’s in them 2.)Don’t want to wear them anymore. My days of Christmas Eve pictures of my babies in matching pajamas are over. Guess I’ll just have to dress my cat up and take pictures of her. Feliz Navidad!

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Have Yourself a Vodka Calling Christmas (Day 1)

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and everything in-between!

This is our favorite time of year. Christin and I decided to try to bring the holiday season to our blog. Now, before you get all excited, there will be no give a-ways. We are not one of “those” popular bloggers……yet!

What we will be doing for the next 25 days (and maybe then some) is what we call “Have Yourself a Vodka Calling Christmas”

So pretty much 25 days of CHRISTMAS writing prompts.

It will be fun…..trust me!

Also, it will be more fun if you comment with your own Christmas memory that pertains to our writing prompts……and really, if you made it this far, clearly you have some time to kill, so join in the fun!

December 1st

What is your favorite Christmas song and why?

Jennifer

 

My first memories of Christmas take me back to New York. I was lucky enough to be born in Queens. I also had two sets of grandparents who lived in Manhattan, and a quirky but loveable aunt who remained in Queens. When my family left New York and moved to Maryland, and then Virginia, we would always make the trip back to New York for Christmas. There is nothing more magical than Christmas in New York. Trust me.

The city is lit up in Christmas cheer. I often wondered how the elves not only found time to  make our toys that Santa would be delivering, but also found the time to decorate the city! It was amazing.

Each set of grandparents along with their own traditions gave me memories that I still remember as if it was only yesterday.

One of my favorites.  Lots of shuffling around, to make sure each set of grandparents had the same out of time with my sister and I. The family would be gathered around. Cooking, eating, opening presents, and Christmas music playing in the background. Always Frank Sinatra. As soon as I hear his words “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” I am taken back to those days of Christmas in New York. My eyes get watery,  I am once again sitting in my grandparents apartment, taking it all in. Grandma always keeping a close eye on me. Not because I was a trouble maker, but because I was her favorite. (My siblings do not read my blog, it’s okay for me to say to that.)

The last lines of the song, Franks words, “Have yourself a Merry little Christmas now” were always answered by my family. Usually, they would stop what they were doing, life their glass, while wishing Frank and Merry Christmas as well.

“Merry Christmas Frank! Salute!”

As the years went on, life happened.  Many Christmas’ have passed. The one thing I am pretty certain of, I just know, every time “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is played, my grandparents, and Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, are up in Heaven and everything stops.

My grandparents are still wishing him a Merry Christmas…..and this time….this time he can join in with them.

Salute!

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

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Christin

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I enjoy decorating the house, putting lights up and watching sappy Christmas movies while bawling my eyes out. And music. Christmas music is the best way to get in the Christmas spirit. As a kid, I always enjoyed the classics like “Rudolph, the Red -Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town”. As an adult, it’s hard to narrow down a favorite Christmas song, so I am going to pick two.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

All I Want For Christmas Is You

 

So there you have it!

Now, tell us about your favorite Christmas song…go ahead…..don’t be shy!

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We Gotta Get Out of This Place : The Vodka Calling Road Trip

Allow me to paint the picture for you. I am now being sent to a dark, candle lit room. The wanna be Stevie Nicks has to have about seven different incense’s burning, and I have to say, I do believe they were all different. The scent was pretty over powering in the “living room”, back in this room, I just cannot do it. “Gypsy” moves her arm in a way to where I know she wants me to take a seat. Reluctantly I obliged.

With only a small round cafe sort of table separating us, she brings out crystals, cards, and something that I am guessing is sage. Although at this point, who is to say? Maybe it is sage. She is “cleansing” the cards, as I am trying to take in my surroundings. I see nothing. Between the smoke from the sage, the burning incense, and the faint smell of curry, I could not see a damn thing, other than Gypsy eyeing me a little too closely.

“What is you name?”

And so it begins. This woman is about to do some weird reading for me, because she can predict the future and what-not. Why is she asking me my name? Shouldn’t she already know my name?

“Elizabeth.”

“What questions do you have for me?”

I make myself comfortable. I have a feeling this may take a while.

“Before you start doing whatever it is you are about to do, do you mind if I ask a question?”

I may have seen her roll her eyes, but I cannot be certain.

“Go ahead.”

“Well, I would like to know of you have any reviews, or perhaps credentials handy?”

With a perfect rolling of the tongue, Miss Gypsy looks at me as if I may be her next victim she has displayed on her kitchen entry wall.

“Credentials? I do not understand what you ask?”

She is going to make me work for it.

“You know, like is there some sort of certificate or diploma of sorts? Something that states you are legitimately what you say you are and not some sort of scammer. Or even some reviews by some of your, what do you call them, customers, clients, you know what I mean.”

Gypsy starts laying about 4-5 cards on the table.

“I not understand what you mean? This is free reading.”

“Oh, is it free because you need the practice?”

She looks up at me while flipping a card over. I mean is this her personal version of solitaire or something?

“Elizabeth, you insult Gypsy.”

“No no, not trying to insult. All I am trying to do is get a feel for who you are. I mean if you are about to give me a reading, then I would at least like to know you have something to back up what you are saying. You know, proof.”

Now she flipped a second card over.

“Proof?” Life is not about proof. Life is about purpose.”

Christin is going to owe me big for this one.

“Of course everyone has a purpose. I believe that, I also believe that we are not meant to know our purpose from some stranger that is sitting across a table from us.”

She flips a third card over.

“Why you here wasting my time.”

“I do not know why I am here, Christin made me come here!”

I motion to the room where I had left Christin.

She flips a fourth card.

“I see, this card, this explains everything. Eight of cups you see. Sadness and sense of solitude. This is why, how you say, this is why you a bitch.”

“Excuse me??”

“Ah yes. You have a sense of relentlessness and unhappiness. The other part not matter, this explains so much.”

“Did you just do a reading on me without my permission?”

She looks up and smiles. This would be the first and last time I see her smile.

“I did.”

“You cannot do that. I was not ready, I did not even see your credentials!”

“Again with the credentials.”

She starts packing up her cards.

“Wait a minute. What are you doing? Now you’re packing up, you read these card things when I was not even ready, you mention something about unhappiness, and now you are finished?”

Gypsy stops what she is doing. Stands up from her chair and motions me to the beaded curtain.

“We are finished.”

“Uh, you may be finished, I am not finished!”

I followed her out while listening to her mutter something about credentials. Funny how she magically looses the accent, right?

“That’s fine. I am good. It’s not like you are legit anyways!”

Finally. There’s Christin. Why the hell was she outside? I could have used some backup here.

Gypsy is now ignoring me, while going to give Christin a hug.

“Your friend, Elizabeth, she on spiritual journey, Elizabeth have no satisfaction with world,or things that she familiar with.”

Christin give me “the look” while I ignore both of them while spotting Nicks.

“Whatever, can we go now, and I would like to take your cat with me.”

Gypsy makes her way back into her dungeon, while turning back.

“Take him, he not belong to me.”

That’s all I needed to hear. I made my way to the car, with Nicks in tow and Christin closely following. Nicks sprawled out in the backseat, most likely aware of the fact that I just saved him from this crazy broad. Christin got situated behind the wheel, and I knew what was coming.

“Jen, why was she calling you Elizabeth? And before you go into some long explanation, I need you to find the closest Wal-Mart.”

“Wal-Mart? Why are we going to Wal-Mart, you owe me a drink!”

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Shining Star : The Vodka Calling Road Trip

Jen joined the Stevie Nicks look-alike in the other room as I looked down at my phone. A text message from Freddie…I was scared to see what it said. Our last communication was pretty much me not returning his calls or messages. I had my own reasons to not want to talk to him. That was a year ago, and now here I was getting ready to open Pandora’s Box…again.

“Who is this?” the text message read. I wasn’t surprised. I had changed my number in the midst of ghosting him last year. “It’s Christin”, I typed. I wasn’t really sure what to say beyond that. I put my phone away, not wanting to deal with this complex, drawn out situation at the moment. I had bigger, more urgent issues to worry about, like how I was going to have pry that black cat out of Jen’s arms when she came out of the Patchouli room.

I stepped outside for a moment, inhaling the salty, cool air. The sky was clear this night. You could see every star in the sky. I spotted Cassiopeia and the big dipper amongst the maze of lights. For just a moment, my thought returned to Freddie. What was that? I heard something. Loud voices were coming from the house. I walked back in to hear something about credentials. Oh great, Jen was debating with the psychic about her credentials and legitimacy. I listened closely, making sure Gypsy wasn’t putting performing some kind of weird ritual on Jen, while checking out the weird art on the walls. Gothic animal shapes and bizarre pictures of Egyptians filled the walls, top to bottom. . The only exception was a picture of a handsome young man standing in front of the house that was neatly tucked into this collage of bizarreness. I heard voices and footsteps coming towards the front of the house and suddenly Jen and Gypsy appeared through the barrage of beads.

“I don’t believe this is legit, I want to see your credentials!”

“My credentials? What are you talking about?”

At this point I had one foot out the door, but this innocent visit with the psychic took a turn, that Gypsy the psychic nor I could not have foreseen.

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Nicks and Stevie : The Vodka Calling Roadtrip

I cannot believe Christin. As she is back in some sort of dark patchouli smelling room, that I am pretty confident at one time or another was used for a torture chamber, getting some psychic reading from a throw back to Stevie Nicks “person”, I am here in….well…I do not even know where I am. Perhaps the living room?

The incense is so overpowering I feel like I may be at stage two lung cancer status, and I cannot see a damn thing other than weird shape animal pictures oddly displayed on the wall. You better believe that I have 911 on speed dial ready to go at the first sound of an animal sacrifice. Only Christin. Somewhere along the way Christin and I turned into the ghetto Lucy and Ethel.

I wonder if the Stevie Nicks throw back has any credentials displayed anywhere on her animal wall. I mean when I am in my doctor’s office, his credentials are easily found. Hell, even when I get a cheap 10.99 haircut at Supercuts, their credentials are displayed. This place? Not so much.

Wait…..did I just see a cat???

I did see a cat, I hope it is a cat……it has to be a cat. He just ran under the sofa. Seriously, how many Afghans can one person have?

“Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”

A beautiful black cat with a huge patch of white on his neck, peeked around from behind the sofa. “Awwwww, a cat! Come here kitty!”

I named him Nicks. Nicks came out, just purring away. Hmmmm, I wonder how Christin would feel about Nicks joining us on our trip? I scooped Nicks up while holding him in the way one holds a newborn. I am in love.

As I basking in the moment of meeting my new friend, I decided to look around. What was with all the weird animal pictures? I don’t get it. My worst fear that sooner than later Nicks would be an image on the wall. “Well, we cannot allow that to happen now can we?”

Wait. What is that? An actual normal picture of a person? Nicks jumped out of my arms as I make my way to the wall right next to the kitchen entry. A black and white picture of a young twenty something year old guy caught my attention. The picture was completely centered , surrounded by, what else, weird animal shapes. This young guy is standing in what looked like to be the front yard of this house…..and his eyes……there was something about his eyes. There is definitely a story here. Who is he? Maybe Gypsy’s son?

I glanced back at the dungeon that held Christin and the Stevie Nicks wanna be, nothing. I wonder, hmmmm, let me just see if there is anything on the back of the picture………”Jen your turn!”

Dammit Christin! Is she really going to make me go back there? Ugh! I gave her “the look” while following the scent patchouli, and figured, since I decided that Nicks would now be joining us, the least I can do is have a reading done.

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Gypsy : The Vodka Calling Road Trip

And there it was. A little, white, run down house with a small flashing sign that read “psychic.”

“C’mon, let’s just go, it will be fine.”

“What?! I am not going in there, have you lost your mind?”

Well technically, yes I had. I was on a road trip driving 1,000 miles to see the first love that I hadn’t seen in 15 years. What do you think?

“We can go to that little bar after, and I will buy you some drinks—but you HAVE to come with me…Pleassse!”

Jen knew she was in a losing battle on this one. I could bring up the many times she dragged me into crazy situations. Now it was her turn. We walked in the dimly lit house. The overwhelming smell of patchouli hit my senses hard and quick. There were lit candles everywhere along with pictures of weird animal-like shapes. We continued walking until we reached a gold beaded curtain that led into another, much smaller room.

“Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea Jen.” I whispered.

She gave me the “I told you so” look that I have seen at least a hundred times.

“Let’s get out here then!” She whispered back to me while digging her phone out of her purse.

“What are you taking your phone out for?”

“In case I have to dial 911 for help!”

Oh boy. Maybe this was a bad idea. We could die here and nobody would ever find our bodies. Once we entered into the other room an older lady dressed as what I can only describe as half hippie and half “genie in a bottle” like. She smiled and invited both Jen and I to have a seat. I looked over at Jen as she peered back at me with a death stare.

“Hi my name is Gypsy, what can I do for you ladies?”

“Well, umm, we are not really sure. We were just passing through and stopped on a whim. What is it that you do exactly?”

“I can tell the future. I use tarot cards, palm reading and my intuition to tell people what’s in store for them. I prescribe to a belief called Wiccan”

I took a deep breath and another glimpse over at Jen. She wasn’t sold on this one but I knew if I got her this far, she would go through with it.

“Okay…well, I guess I would like to do a tarot card reading”

“Could you have a seat out there please?” She pointed to another room while looking at Jen. You didn’t have to tell her twice. Jen grabbed up her purse and practically jogged out of the room.

“Okay, what is your name?”

“Christin.”

“What questions do you have for me?”

Damn, I hadn’t really thought this through.

“Umm, ok-k, so I am currently trying to get in touch with an ex for one last conversation or closure—whatever you want to call it. I’ve been trying to get him out of my thoughts for years now… Is this a good idea or do I just need to let it go?”

“Close your eyes and concentrate on your ex and the questions that you have. Feel the energy flow through you from your head to your toes while breathing in and out slowly.”

I felt a tickle on the top of my hands which bolted me from my concentration. Gypsy had placed something on top of my hands but I was scared to peek, so I squeezed them tighter, hoping it wasn’t pig blood or something crazy like that. I heard her shuffling her cards while I continued to concentrate on the question with my eyes closed but also mapping out an escape route, if need be.

“Open your eyes, Christin”

I slowly opened one eye, then the other.

“I sensed you needed your energy cleansed, so I placed my crystals on your hands to help with the negative energy that surrounds you”

The only negative energy I would dealing with was that of my soon to be ex-friend Jen, if we didn’t get out of here soon…and alive. Gypsy then places 4 cards on the table. The look of worry and concern flashed across her face for just a moment.

“What is it? Is it bad??”

“Just a moment?”

The suspense was killing me. A moment felt like a year. Was it so bad that she couldn’t tell me?

“Okay, this card here” she said, pointing at the Seven of swords, card, “means that there is the potential of bad feelings and maybe a feeling of being cheated. There is a failure of a plan because of the wrong motive.”

This was not looking good. I should’ve listened to Jen. And if she is voice of reason, I really must be crazy.

“This card is the Six of Swords, it means a difficult choice could need to be made that may involve great changes”

Well, could you be more specific? I’m an indecisive person, choosing what flavor of coffee I want could fall into this category. Of course, I didn’t say that. But maybe she read my mind because she looked up at me with an “all-knowing” look.

“The five of Pentacles mean that differences arise that could divide lovers. Periods of deep loneliness could occur”

Great. Just when I thought the news couldn’t get any better, she explained to me the last cards meaning.

“Knight of Swords means that you should be careful in sharing your views. Unexpected misfortune could be near”

“What does all of that mean exactly?”

“Christin, you need to be careful about your future actions when it comes to your ex. Things aren’t always as they seem. I’ m not telling you what to do or not to do but your cards indicate that you need to be cautious.”

“OK” She took the crystals off my hands.

“Thank-you” I said while grabbing my purse.

I stood up and walked out to where Jen was.

“Your turn” I said with a touch of sarcasm. She returned the favor with a nasty look as she went through the curtain. I sat down, reflecting on what Gypsy just told me. All I know for sure is that I need a Long island iced tea to forget this ever happened.

I pulled out my phone. I had a new text message.

It was Freddie.

 

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Goodbye Earl : The Vodka Calling Road Trip

As soon as I saw Christin outside of the diner, I knew what she was doing. Christin’s phone was in her hand, and  she had a text message ready to go to Freddie. I have the luxury of her not seeing me, and because I am such an awesome friend, I figured I can do this one of two ways. I can keep my distance and let her do this whole text message thing on her own, or I can run up and scare the shit out of her, to distract her from sending the message. Although the latter would be funny, I decided to light up a quick smoke and just wait it out before we finish the next leg of out trip. Or…maybe not.

“BOO!”

“Jesus Christ Jen, You scared the shit out of me!”

“Yeah, that’s what I was going for……whatcha doing there with your phone?”

Christin did not take the bait.

“Just get your things, we have a five-hour drive ahead of us.”

“This just keeps getting better and better.”

We were off. Five hours of highway ahead of us. Oh fun! That’s me being sarcastic, in case you missed it.

One would think five hours on the open road, your best friend by your side, a perfect playlist securely in your purse, would be the ideal mini vacation. See, I do not work like that. I need a plan. I need a time line. I need to know what the objective is. I need to know when we get to stop for food, and I need to be able to pick out the places we stop for said food. Adapting to Christin’s “The world is our oyster” belief takes some getting used to. Just as my spread sheets and timeframe took her some getting used to.

Four and a half hours later we are still in Oregon somewhere. All I knew is we were heading to some beach town to find a Motel 6 type of spot for our resting place. This is my first time outside of my busy yet comfortable suburb of Seattle. I know I am here for Christin, yet, there is something in this for me. I need a break. I need to recompose. I just need time away. I need to learn to relinquish my control.

“We need to stop for gas.”

In between our conversation of life,  goals, sex, and lack there of, Christin informed me that we needed gas pretty soon or else we would be pushing her jeep to this little beach town that she was adamant we reach.

“Good, I need a coffee, or vodka, so depending on where this gas station is, pick your poison!”

I put my notebook away and took my wallet out. The cool Oregon saltwater air welcomed us to….well…..to some rundown shady looking gas station called “Earl’s” Seriously, only two gas pumps? I had the feeling that in about eight minutes Christin and I would turn into some horribly bad Lifetime Movie of the Week plot. Whatever, I needed to stretch my legs, and smoke.

“I’ll pump you go and pay.”

Christin was already at the pump before I could protest that I did not want to go into “Earl’s” by myself. I was fighting a loosing battle, and in a few minutes, I had a feeling I would be fighting with Earl himself. There was no freaking coffee!

I met Christin back at the jeep, lit up a much-needed smoke, while she gave me “the look” that told me I should probably step back from the jeep as she is pumping gas.

“So, what now? How much further?”

Both of us took in our surroundings. Both of us noticed a run down motel just across the street.

“Oh God no, Christin, no, not here. This is right out of The Hills Have Eyes.”

“But did you see the bar, there is a bar next to the hotel….come on, just for one night. Tomorrow we will be in San Jose.”

Well. Christin may be on to something. I mean if there is a bar, then the lack of coffee at “Earl’s” does not matter, I can get my vodka on!

“Jen, look!”

I was already halfway back in the jeep. What does she want me to look at now. A graveyard? A thrift store? There was no telling with……”No, do not even think about it….no no no!”

There it was. Across the way, another shady run down house, with half of a white picket fence around it.  There was a “Free Psychic Reading by Gypsy” sign hanging on the window. And…let the record show that the sign looked to be written by a child.

“Jen, we have to! It’s a sign, and more importantly, it’s free!”

It’s official. I am now in hell. Christin and I had two different beliefs on psychics, mediums, whatever the PC word of choice is. She believed in them, I thought they were a crock of shit. Yet, I knew, there was no way I was going to get out of this one.

“Can we at least go to our final resting place before you drag to me Gypsy’s? It will give me a chance to call my family and tell them my last good-byes.”

And then, before I knew it, without any coffee, without any vodka, we were there.

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