Sunday, January 27, 2013

Impact of the Accident

This is part 2 of 2.  Part one:

We arrived home after a horrible week on the road following the accident in Canada and the death of my grandparents.  The funeral was very sad.  Both of my grandparent's coffins were at the front of the room, and there were hundreds present for the service.  They were closed caskets due to the impact of their bodies following the accident and fire.  A few musicians came and performed some classic traditional jazz tunes, including Van Perry on bass.  Rev. George Aist performed the service.  Afterwards, we drove to the cemetery in Falls Church, VA, where their coffins were placed in vaults within a large mausoleum.  It was a very sad day, and the service ended at almost the same time as the accident exactly one week prior.

We went home, but were still suffering because our air conditioning broke, and it was hot!  We also were trying to deal with the ramifications of the accident.  Our damaged van was in need of repairs, though the damage was a constant reminder of the accident and, long-term, we knew we would end up getting a new van.  I still had an ugly scar above my left eye, though once the stitches were removed, it looked much better.

I was due to head off to college (I was planning on attending the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC), but was having second thoughts about being away from home.  This lead me to end up applying to the College Park campus and, after numerous phone calls, I was accepted there and began making plans to commute from home instead of living near the Baltimore campus.

Day-to-day routines were no longer routine.  Our family was broken.  It had been such an awful experience for all of us, and it affected all of us in different ways.  Poor Mom was very depressed after losing both of her parents in such a devastating way, and began getting the help she needed.  As we entered into the Fall, a little bit of normalcy returned, with school taking the lead in our daily activities.  Sister Angie was a Junior in high school, though she soon started hanging out with a bad crowd, which lead her to begin sneaking out of the house and going out drinking late at night.  Her new boyfriend was much older and was a poor influence on her.  Brother Darren was kind of the forgotten one of the family, but he had sports to keep him occupied. I had a hard time making the transition to college, going from a top of the class student in high school to having difficulty with several of my classes, and trying to balance my schedule with my commute, marching band, and working with the youth group at our church.

Our faith was really the only constant, but even that was a difficult part of what we were dealing with.  Why had God allowed this to happen to us?  We were all suffering, and there didn't seem to be a solution or end to what was happening.  Our church had begun to split over Rev. Aist's future.  A small group at the church determined that a new pastor was needed, someone younger and more dynamic, and those of us who supported Rev. Aist ended up in a ridiculous battle that became more and more vicious as the year went on. The result was that Rev. Aist elected to leave, and our church family was scattered.  It was a difficult situation, since Mom was the church secretary, Dad was the youth director and church treasurer, and I was a youth counselor.  We had attended the church since I was in 3rd grade.  It was even harder as there were many of our friends who had supported pushing Rev. Aist out, and they acted as if we were wrong.  A simple disagreement had led to the end of many of these friendships.  Our family left the church and we began searching for a new place to worship.

Things came to a head with my sister, and she was confronted about her boyfriend and sneaking out of the house.  The result was she made a complete change to her lifestyle, changed her diet, stayed home all the time, and took over making meals for the family.  She started a diet that soon spiraled out of control and became a full-blown case of anorexia.  Within a year, she was below 100 lbs. and was admitted to a hospital with an eating disorder program.  She had to drop out of school and began to see a tutor.

Darren, now in high school, was having his own problems.  He had been growing like a weed and was now over 6 feet tall, and, because of his size, became the target of others wanting to fight.  He also struggled with his classes, but he also became much more independent and had created his own identity.

Things continued to get worse before they got better.  Mom continued to struggle with depression, and this would continue for 20+ years.  She also battled an aggressive breast cancer resulting in a mastectomy and breast reconstruction, followed by chemo.  She was declared cancer-free last year.  Angie also continues to struggle with her anorexia, and this continues to this day.  She has been in and out of hospitals and has been unable to hold a job for any length of time.  She can't support herself, so she continues to live at home with Mom & Dad.  Darren also has struggled, but has established his independence despite job & financial difficulties.  He is now engaged to a wonderful girl with two teenage daughters of her own, and seems to have his life going in the right direction.  Dad has been the glue of our family.  All along, he has tried so hard to make sure we are all successful.  It is obvious that he continues to put the rest of us before his own happiness.

I'm convinced that what has kept us all together and sane is our faith.  God has taken such good care of us.  He is our savior, and I know that despite the hardships we've experienced, HE is the reason our lives are as blessed as they are.  I'm so thankful for all He has given us.  Life is good and gets better every day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bebop & Grammy

We had just entered into Canada at Niagara Falls, in the midst of a big adventure vacation.  I was driving my grandparent's Oldsmobile Ciera, with my grandmother ("Grammy") riding behind me in the backseat, and my grandfather ("Bebop") riding beside me up front.  We were following right behind the rest of my family in our Chevy conversion van (Dad, Mom, sister Angie, & brother Darren).  I was 18, less than a month after graduating from Frederick Douglass High School, the class of '87!  It was my grandparent's first vacation since my grandfather had been stricken by a debilitating stroke that paralyzed his right arm a few years before.

Bebop, as we called him because he had been a jazz trumpet player for most of his life, had also contracted polio when he was a baby, which paralyzed his right leg, forcing him to use crutches for his entire life.  This really didn't hinder him, and we never looked at him as being handicapped.  He could do whatever he wanted, except run, though he used a scooter as a child that probably moved him faster than most people could running.  Bebop was a terrific musician, and he played among many celebrities.  He was the only White member of an all-Black traditional jazz band that played at the Charles Hotel in Washington, DC, in the late 50s & 60s, led by piano player Booker Coleman.  The band also featured Slide Harris on trombone, Van Perry on bass, and Freddy Radcliff on drums, among others.  They were the band that the nationally known musicians would come to hear after doing their own gigs, which included Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis.  A favorite story is that of the Great Satchmo being persuaded to join the band for a few numbers and, since he didn't have his trumpet with him, used my grandfather's (I have a cherished picture of my grandfather and Louis posing together one particular evening).  One popular jazz magazine of the day called my grandfather the "best unknown trumpet player in the country"!  High praise, really.

On the first day of our trip, we had stopped in Uniontown, PA, to drop off our dog, Ginger, with my other grandfather, Pap.  It was the first time I could remember all three of my living grandparents together at the same time.  Pap & Bebop wore their "Old Fart" ball caps, and Grammy wore an "Old Fart's Wife" hat, and they posed for pictures.

We were about 3 days into our vacation, having spent the previous day touring Niagara Falls and having a great time.  Bebop got along fine in his motorized wheelchair/scooter, and we enjoyed the sites in the area.  That evening, we celebrated sister Angie's 16th birthday at Red Lobster, which was a fairly ritzy dinner for our family, used to eating at fast food and pizza joints.  We were really having a great time!

On Tuesday, June 30, 1987, we were driving on the QEW in Ontario, headed towards Toronto from Niagara Falls.  That's all I remember until I woke up in a Burlington, Ontario, hospital, later that afternoon, suffering from head trauma, including a nice sized, stitched-up gash just above my left eye, and a concussion.  Dad was in the hospital room, with 12-year old brother Darren, and explained that we had been in a pretty serious car accident.  He didn't answer any of my questions about what happened or if everyone was okay.  He said we could talk about it later, but I had to stay in the hospital overnight for observation.  I wasn't allowed to watch television, either, since, I later found out, our family had been featured on the local news and my Dad didn't want me to know what happened.  At least, not yet.  My room mate was a young guy around 30 with his leg in a cast.  He had a thick Canadian accent, and I actually enjoyed listening to him talk.  There were a lot of "Eh's?" in his speaking.

It was a miserable night, as the hospital nurses had to wake me up each hour to check my vitals and make sure my head injury wasn't any worse than what I had shown to that point.  The fact that I knew who my Dad and brother were, and that I knew we were on vacation with my grandparents, was indication that I hadn't suffered severe brain damage.  At one point, I woke up and discovered that I still had a head full of broken glass, so I had to get up and take an impromptu shower and they changed all of my bed linens.

The next morning, I was met by Dad and Darren again, and I was released from the hospital.  We had an appointment with the local police to talk about the accident, and we took a cab to the precinct.  It was my first ever ride in a taxi.  I was told to just answer their questions as best as I could, and if I couldn't remember something, then I should just say so.  I had no memory of the previous day after we had entered Canada and before waking up in the hospital, so I wasn't able to give them much information.  It was at this time that I was told that my grandparents had been killed in the accident, in the car I was driving, after a chain reaction multi-car pile-up resulted in a tractor-trailer hitting us from behind.  Dad then shared with me the details:

We were a 2-vehicle caravan, Dad driving the family van, and me, driving my grandparents car, about to make the merge of two major highways just outside of Burlington, southwest of Toronto, on the QEW, the main highway across Canada, and Rt. 403, another major highway.  We were in the right-hand lane at the merge.  There was a teenage girl, with her mother, driving a car in front of my dad.  I was behind their van.  There was a lot of traffic in the adjacent lane to the left, and the right lane was ending, forcing a merge situation.  Dad slowed up because he didn't want to cut off the young girl in front of him, but she wouldn't get over, slowing to a crawl.  He didn't expect her to stop, and he hit the brakes just as he lightly tapped her bumper.  I was following too closely behind Dad, and couldn't see around him to know that the lane was running out.  When he stopped, I hit the brakes and did the same thing, tapping the bumper of our van.  There was a tractor trailer behind us, who was looking back to see if traffic was clear so he could get over in the left lane, and he didn't see that we were stopped.  He rammed us from behind going full speed.  The collision squeezed the van out of the chain of cars and Dad quickly pulled over on the shoulder.  He started to get out to check the damage, and to see if everyone else was okay.  He assumed that I had pulled over, as well, not knowing exactly what happened to us.  The scene that greeted him was one of chaos.  Our car was practically destroyed, with the truck almost completely on top of our car.  Dad rushed over to my side of the car and found me slumped over the steering wheel unconscious.  He could not see my grandmother, as her seat was pushed all the way up against the back of my seat.  My grandfather was unconscious, as well.  The glass on the door has shattered, so Dad tried to pull me out.  The truck driver hopped out of his truck and tried to help.  Dad couldn't get me out with the truck where it was, so the truck driver was able to get in and back it up a little.  They were then able to loosen the seat belt and pull me out of the driver's side window.  By this time, fuel and been leaking everywhere and a fire had started.  They tried to get my grandfather out of the car, but he was just too big to fit through the window.  He never regained consciousness.  Later, according to the coroner's report, we learned he died of smoke inhalation.  My grandmother perished upon impact.  Fortunately, everyone else was okay.  Mom, Dad, Angie, & Darren were just a bit sore.  The teenage girl and her mother were okay, as was the truck driver.  The three vehicles involved in the main part of the accident were all destroyed.  The van was damaged in the front and back, but with a few repairs, it was drivable.

The rest of the day was hard.  We spent the day just trying to make sense of what had happened, and to assure everyone at home that we were okay, along with news about arrangements for my grandparents.  The media was typically relentless in trying to get their stories, and camped out in the lobby of our hotel, hoping they could talk to the Americans who were vacationing in Canada.  We went to a restaurant for dinner that evening, and it was very crowded.  Some of the diners recognized us from the news reports about the accident, and, trying to be helpful, offered to make room for us to have a table more quickly.  If nothing else, the Canadians we met were, for the most part, extremely friendly.

The police report determined that no one was to blame for the accident.  Dad protested to the police, particularly after seeing the truck in the impound lot where all of the vehicles involved in the accident were taken, and noticed that several tires on the truck were practically bald, but the police showed a diagram of the accident scene which indicated that our car was partially blocking the left merge lane, impeding the forward progress of the truck.  So, if anyone was to blame, it would be me, as well as Dad for bumping into the teenager's car.  We were basically told to "cut our losses."

We were waiting for our van to be repaired and made drivable, so to pass the time, we went to the movies.  We actually split up.  Mom & Angie went to see one movie, while Dad, Darren and I went to see SPACEBALLS.  Unfortunately, given our mood and the bad jokes used in the movie, it was hard to watch and did nothing to lift our spirits.  Late in the afternoon, we finally were able to start the long journey home.  We arrived in Uniontown at Pap's house well after midnight.  I recall Mom sobbing inconsolably.  It had been a tough drive for all of us, but particularly for Mom, as the shock of losing her parents began to wear off.  We were greeted warmly by Pap and Aunt Sandi and her family.  After a long night of rest, we headed for home, with Aunt Sandi, Mindi, Jon, & Jeff joining us.  Then it was time to return to reality.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy Endings Only Happen in Hollywood

I tend to get a little frustrated with the way Hollywood treats death.  It seems as if characters die all the time in movies and many television shows, and the deaths are treated so lightly as to seem insignificant, unless the death is a key component of the story-line.  And maybe that's all that should be expected.  Hollywood aims to entertain, so that's all that matters, I guess.  But those of us who have experienced the loss of someone significant in our lives know only too well just how difficult it is to recover from something so traumatic.  And that's where Hollywood could learn a few lessons.

There are either five or seven stages of grief:  (Shock), Denial, Anger, (Guilt), Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.  One can go through these stages in a different order, or pass through some of them more than once, but these are fairly common.  Rarely do you see Hollywood characters go through all or even some of these stages, though.  There either isn't enough time, or they just aren't important enough to focus on.

A common story-line in movies and television shows is to have someone's spouse die in a horrific accident or due to a long illness.  The surviving spouse is shown to go through exaggerated stages of grief.  Depending on the length of the movie or show (which can stretch across several episodes), the character may even seek professional health.  But in almost every case, the survivor is able to find love again very quickly.  This may be true with a small handful of individuals in real life, but more often that not, it may take a few years before that person is even ready to start dating, let alone fall in love again.  But it happens over and over again in Hollywood.  Since we rarely get to see the character in a long-term relationship, one can only guess as to the problems the characters encounter as their relationship progresses.  But the Hollywood script is one that ends with, "...and they lived happily ever after."

I guess I get frustrated because I am one of those who hasn't found a new love relationship, at least one that's stuck, even after over nine years as a surviving spouse.  Certainly not by choice, especially now, but Hollywood has no idea how hard it is to go through such a traumatic event, and "move on".  Even one of the better examples out of Hollywood, the show GO ON, which I've blogged about in the past, has taken its' main character back into the dating world.  By my count, it's only been a few months since his wife died, but in true Hollywood fashion, he's already sleeping with his first date.  If only real life were that easy.

This whole thing is probably more a reflection of the absence of God in much of the media that surrounds us. By not having Christian beliefs "complicate" the characters, the makers of these movies and shows are able to create more "entertainment" for the viewers by bringing the characters into new relationships much more quickly, since I'm sure they wouldn't want the characters to have to take the time to actually go through real life situations.  Unfortunately, it's probably true that the viewers aren't looking for that kind of thing, anyway.  However, they do create unrealistic expectations for those individuals who have gone through these experiences and may be hoping to move on.  Hollywood won't listen, though.  That's not their job.  They just want to entertain.  Reality doesn't always have a happy ending.  But, with God, it can.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

TV on the Tivo!

I watch more TV than I should, and I know it.  Always have.  When I was married, we watched TV regularly, and we bought a Tivo well into our marriage to organize our TV watching.  In fact, 10 years later, I'm still using our original Tivo, and have added a couple more.  I recently went through my Season Pass on my HD Tivo to see what I've been recording regularly, and thought I'd share my list of shows right here:

  • Go On - I've blogged about this show before, starring Matthew Perry, about a widower who is a sports radio host and attends a therapy group with a bunch of odd characters.  The show has its moments, and I find myself laughing out loud, but the main appeal to me is the fact that the writers have approached the subject of loss very honestly.  The characters have heart, and, as a widower, I can relate to Perry's character.  Great show, even if it is a bit quirky and predictable at times.
  • Big Bang Theory - This is another laugh out loud funny show.  The characters and situations are hilarious, and there really isn't another show like it on TV.  It goes for cheap laughs at times, however, and that can be a detractor.
  • The Amazing Race - I still remember watching the very first episode of the first season of this show, and I was immediately sucked in.  I've not missed a show since.  Teresa, my wife, and I watched it regularly, and now I watch it with my daughter.  The best of the reality "contest" shows, mostly because it doesn't deal with voting someone off like so many other shows.  This is a race around the world, and if you're the last one to arrive at the finish line of each leg, you're out.  That's the way it should be.
  • The Walking Dead - Definitely not for kids, and one of the scariest, violent, and grossest shows on TV.  But it is well-written, has deeply developed characters, and deals with the fun topic of zombies.  It works, for what it is.
  • Homeland - This is one of the few pay-cable TV series that I watch, but I got sucked in to the political intrigue and thrilling CIA-themed storylines.  The language is distracting, and the sex is gratuitious and uneeded, but I like the lead actress and the plots are riveting.
  • Grimm - Fantasy-horror show that isn't for kids, about a cop who can "see" monsters hiding as humans, and battles them regularly.  Interesting show, and pretty well-developed characters.
  • Parenthood - I don't always agree with the politics, and I get frustrated with some of the themes and storylines, but this is still a well-written, well-acted show about an extended family and the drama that occurs in their lives.
  • The Office - Hilarious show.  Very tasteless and un-politically correct, and not nearly as funny as earlier seasons, but acting is just great.  And funny.
  • Modern Family - Another funny show.  Similar in style to The Office, with characters talking directly to the camera, but the characters are so quirky and funny.
  • Last Man Standing - Tim Allen is a funny guy, and this show is the perfect vehicle for him.  The show has a conservative slant, and the actors do a great job with the script.
  • How I Met Your Mother - I watch this out of habit than anything else.  This is a Friends rip-off that gets a little too cutesy at times, and can be very tasteless at others.  I love the actress who plays Robin.
  • Malibu Country - Only reason I watch this show is for Lily Tomlin, who is hilarious.
  • America's Funniest Home Videos - STILL one of the funniest shows on TV.  One of my daughter's favorites, too.
  • Hawaii Five-O - Good action-cop-drama show set in Hawaii.  Good characters and writing, but tends to be a little too violent at times.  Love the Hawaii setting.
  • Shark Tank - Entertaining show about people trying to "sell" their company to rich folks to get them to invest.
  • The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson - Craig is one of the best, funniest, and entertaining late night hosts on TV.  Wish he didn't always go for the tasteless jokes, but very funny, nonetheless.
  • Finding Bigfoot - Fun show.  I'm a skeptic, but it's fun to watch these guys wander thru the woods around the country looking for what they think is a big, hairy giant that no one has ever gotten a decent picture of to prove they exist.
  • Destination Truth - Entertaining show about a group of adventurers and monster hunters.
  • Swamp People - Alligator hunters in the bayou.
  • Top Gear - I'm a car buff, and these Brits can be very funny in their typically English style.  The cars are great!
  • Top Gear - Loud American version of the British show.  Sophmoric at times, but I'm still addicted to the cars and stunts.
  • Counting Cars - Custom car designer in Las Vegas.  I love cars, especially the muscle cars from the 60s & 70s, and they feature them often.
  • Texas Car Wars - Another car show.  Teams bid on junked cars, then take them back to their garages to fix them up and sell them.
  • Overhaulin' - More car stuff!  Custom cars designed from junk.
  • Falling Skies - Interesting sci-fi show in a similar vein to the Walking Dead, except with aliens instead of zombies.  Apocolyptic, futuristic setting.
  • The Great Escape - From the makers of the Amazing Race, this is about 3 teams of two people who must escape from a prison, or a ship, or an abandoned building, or other similar location, to win money.  Each episode is stand-alone, unlike the Amazing Race.
  • Wipeout - Fun show about crazy, off-beat folks who compete in obstacle courses.
  • Wrecks to Riches - Another show about fixing up junky muscle cars.
  • Only in America with Larry The Cable Guy - Larry The Cable Guy is funny.  He travels the country and gets into situations and we laugh.
  • Diners, Drive-ins and Dives - Guy Fieri's show about offbeat restaurants around the country.  The food looks like it tastes great, and this show is the reason I don't like to eat at chains when I'm traveling.
  • Insane Coaster Wars - Not sure if this is a series or just a summer show, but anything about roller coasters is good enough for us!
  • MythBusters - Great show about a couple of stunt guys who try to prove whether myths can be busted.
  • Gravity Falls - Animated show on Disney about a sister & brother who live with their strange uncle and weird things happen to them and the nearby town.  Fun show!  I've stopped at places similar to the "Mystery Shack" the uncle runs.
  • Mork & Mindy - Classic sit-com starring Robin Williams about an alien living on Earth.  Spin-off of Happy Days.
  • Happy Days - My favorite show of all time!  Classic 70s sit-com set in the Fifties.  Richie Cunningham was my role model.  Most guys wanted to be like the Fonz.  I wanted to be like Richie.
  • Phineas and Ferb - Another fun animated show on Disney.  Show is written for kids with in-jokes for adults.
  • Laverne & Shirley - Another classic sit-com spin-off from Happy Days.  Lenny & Squiggy are as funny as Abbott & Costello and Laurel & Hardy.
Comments appreciated!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Soapbox: Wake Up, Guys!

Why do so many men self-destruct their marriages for sinful reasons??? Don't they realize what they have? If the divorced women I know are any example, these men have sacrificed the stability of their families and hurt a loving, dedicated partner, only for a fleeting, temporary happiness. These women and their children deserve better (and I know it can go the other way, too, but I'm focusing on the guys here). I'm sick of seeing this lack of respect for marriage and destruction of family, and I can't help but believe it is a result of keeping God out of the relationship. Wake up, guys!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Here We Go...

A lot of my friends are Baltimore Ravens fans.  I'm a life-long Pittsburgh Steelers fan.  Unfortunately, the Steelers and Ravens have become rivals due to the fact that they are in the same division in the NFL's AFC North, and they are both pretty good year after year.  And when they play against each other, at least twice each season, the games are almost always bitterly close, with only a few points separating them.  But it also puts me on the opposite side of the fence when it comes to rooting for my team when my friends are rooting for theirs.  And that's fine, as long as we don't allow that rooting to spill over into and affect our friendships.  And that has been the case.  I believe we're all intelligent enough to understand how it works.  It would be  ridiculous to allow our love of our teams to affect our friendships.

There are, however, acquaintances of mine who can't understand why I can live in the Baltimore area and not be a Ravens fan.  And they especially can't understand why I can be Steelers fan.  Many believe that it's expected to root for the local team.  In fact, if that were the case, I should've been rooting for the Washington Redskins, since I actually live closer to DC than I do Baltimore.  It's really simple, though, and it has everything to do with the fact that I was raised by my Western Pennsylvania-native father as a Steelers fan.

I was born in 1969, which was the same year that Chuck Noll was hired as the coach of the Steelers, and "Mean" Joe Greene was his first draft choice.  One could argue that this was the beginning of the Steelers reign as an elite team in the NFL.  They started to really have success a few years later, with the "Immaculate Reception" in their first playoff win in 1972, and their fanatic fan base finally had a winner after almost 30 years of losing, since the team's inception.  My childhood was filled with Super Bowl wins by the Steelers, and by the time I was 10 years old, the Steelers had 4 Super Bowl wins, more than double what any other team had.  That made an impression on me.  My Dad and I watched many of the games together and those experiences were really wonderful.

Baltimore had the Colts.  I actually liked the Colts, but I really didn't pay much attention to them since I liked the Steelers better.  But I was sad to see them leave Baltimore for Indianapolis in the mid-80s.  It was brutally unfair to the city of Baltimore, and I shared their loss.  But football goes on, and though the Steelers were not having the success they had previously, I was still a diehard fan.

In the mid-90s, the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens.  The Steelers were having great success at the time, and I paid little attention to this "new" team in Baltimore.  Of course, some of my friends, mostly those who had been fans of the Colts, adopted the Ravens as their team, and that's natural.  Since they no longer had a team in Baltimore until the Ravens came along, it would be easy to be a fan.  Since I had always been a Steelers fan, I wasn't about to all of a sudden change my allegiance to some new team, just because they were in the area I lived in.  As the Ravens got better and had success of their own, the games against the Steelers took on much more meaning, and a true rivalry developed, which exists to this day.

My Steelers remain successful, having appeared in three more Super Bowls over the past several years, winning two of them.  They are, as of right now, the only team with six Super Bowl wins.  The Ravens have had a nice run of playoff appearances, and even have a Super Bowl win of their own.  The teams have arguably the best rivalry in professional sports.  But I will never be a Ravens fan.  My Steelers continue to be my team.  I bleed black & gold.  I only hope my Ravens acquaintances can accept that.  And so I will NOT be rooting for the Ravens today in their second round playoff game versus the Denver Broncos.  Why would I root for a bitter rival?  Go Steelers!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Inner Coffee Drinker

The Christmas season is my favorite time of year.  The colors, music, decorations, time with family & friends, Advent, Christ's birth, performing plays or shows at Church, buying presents, taking time off from work.... it all adds up to a wonderful time of year, as the song says.  I know a lot of what I love stems from my childhood experiences, but I guess I feel like a big kid now, and still enjoy so many aspects of the season.

Santa Claus visits our home and provides much happiness to the whole family.  My daughter receives three gifts from Santa each Christmas, just as the Christ-child received three gifts from the wise men.  My family goes way overboard with our gift-giving every year, and this year was no exception.  In fact, I received a wonderful gift this year, one of the best I've ever gotten:  a Keurig coffee maker!

Who knew?  I only drank coffee for a short time as a student in college, not really liking the taste and only wanting the caffeine pick-me-up.  I would drink it during finals week as an assist to my studying.  I preferred my caffeine through normal cola drinking, particularly Jolt, with twice the caffeine and sugar as other sodas, but thought coffee was better for me, at least during a time when I needed to have my wits about me.  It didn't help my grades, though, and so it didn't take.  I just didn't care for the taste.  No matter how much dressing up I did to it, I still couldn't acquire a taste for it.

When I was a kid, most of the adults in my life drank coffee, and it was clear that it was a grown up thing.  As I got older, I still didn't think I was "old enough" to drink coffee, so I never started, and never took an interest in trying it.

My boss told me I needed to start drinking coffee at work for social reasons, and, since he tends to be a bit "forceful" in a peer-pressure-y way, he talked me into trying it one morning.  I still wasn't convinced I liked it, but I did enjoy the caffeine jump it provided, especially since I was looking for alternatives to soda (which came about after my diabetes diagnosis).  So I began getting a cup of French Vanilla coffee at our coffee shop in the lobby of our building, and even got to know the Korean owner and his wife, Han & Sue. But I was only drinking a cup a day, and only at work.  The last thing I needed was to get hooked on Starbucks and other gourmet coffees, and I did not want a coffee maker at home.  It didn't make sense, and I didn't want the extra chore of having to clean a coffee pot everyday.

Enter the Keurig.  Mom has one, and she showed me some of coffee flavors she uses, and, just like that, I was hooked.  Mom is a coffee connoisseur, and she guided me through the coffee-making process.  Talk about easy!  So Mom got me my own Keurig for Christmas.  It may be the best present I received this year!  I think I'm making at least 2 or 3 cups per day, not just coffee, but cappuccino, cider, and other flavors.  I may end up getting one for the office, too, so I can be anti-social and drink it in the privacy of my own office.  Ironic, since I was talked into drinking coffee at work for the social aspects.