Holiday Movies, Traditions, and James Bond

Holiday Movies, Traditions, and James Bond

“Merry Christmas! Shitter was full,” those famous words from Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Cousin Eddie embodies what makes Christmas movies great, cheesy absurdity.

I’ve been binge watching Christmas movies and James Bond films for the last several weeks. I’ve lived on a diet of holiday treats and strong black coffee; life is good.

Every night in December we settle into bed, watching a different holiday movie. Ms. Coco falls asleep quickly; I end up watching these movies several times. The next day she’ll ask “how did the movie end?” I reply ” the same way they always do, with someone falling in love.”

Ms.Coco falls asleep after being overwhelmed with holiday cheer. I switch to watching James Bond save the world from inevitable disaster. I don’t know how this became a holiday tradition for me, but it brings back childhood memories watching 007 escape the clutches of a supervillain.

Escaping holiday stress has been my harrowing act. I’ve made it a point to set holiday boundaries and expectations, not only for myself but people close to me. I’m not going shopping on Black Friday or anytime around Christmas.

Ms. Coco and I might not be traditional with our celebrations, but we are developing our traditions. We’ve invested in some lovely nutcrackers, we make our world famous oreo truffles, and we strung three whole string of lights on our front porch this year.

I’m excited to see what new movies and traditions we create. As Clark W. Griswold Jr. would say “We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny  f#$%ing Kaye.”




13 years ago my friends and I decided that our family Thanksgiving were too stressful and not very fun. So we got a group of friends together the weekend before the official Thanksgiving day. The idea was simple, everyone makes their favorite dish and brings some drinks. Since we were all in college at the time, there was lots of cheap beer involved.

My friend told me this week at our 13th PreThanksGiving dinner (we call it that because got it’s named before the current trend of Friendsgiving) that this was the event he most looks forward to every year. A friend said it was the first time he’d cooked a Turkey; another friend said it was the first time he’d ever prepared anything, and several people said it was the first event they had ever hosted.

While one of us usually volunteers to host the event the idea is we are all the hosts and can invite other guests. This system often leads to a fascinating mix of people. I’ve had several people comment on both the diversity of food and people at our events. The mixture of friends and their favorite dishes make for an exciting dinner for everyone.

Over the years our event had Ranger in size, location, and intensity of drinking. But we all look forward to seeing each other and trying new dishes. Since this is Hygge month and one of the leading ideas is quality time with family and friends, our pre-thanksgiving is very Hygge.

At the end of the night, we are all full of food, beer, and warm feelings about the great time we had with our friends.

Hygge Oath

Hygge Oath

I’ve also been thinking about ways to make our time together more meaningful since time is our limited commodity recently. I have found the chapter in How to be Married by Jo Piazza on Denmark instrumental, especially the Hygge (loosely translates to “wellbeing” or “to comfort”) oath created by Danish psychotherapist Iben Sandahl, and has the following recommendation.

Hygge Oath
1. Turn off phones and Ipads.
2. Leave drama at the door.
3. Share fun and uplifting stories.
4. Do not complain unnecessarily.
5. Make a conscious effort to enjoy the food and drinks.
6. Light candles if you are inside.
7. Do not brag.
8. Tell funny and uplifting stories. Retell those stories again and again.
9. Make a conscious effort to feel gratitude and love.

I hope that this teaches us how to work better together, these challenges are valuable lessons for us to learn and keep growing together.

Routines and Comfort Zone

Routines and Comfort Zone

I know when my favorite TV Game of Thrones comes on. Sunday night, and I know I’m usually free and can rely on where I’m going to be to watch it. If something happens, I know I may watch it the next day too.

I have lots of little routines like this in my life. It’s my comfort zone. Sometimes I get out of my comfort zone, something disrupts it, and I have to adjust for that. Sometimes the adjustment is very modest, like leaving my cell phone in another room so it doesn’t distract me before I got to bed so I can have a restful nights sleep.

Other times the disruption is much larger and can change how I think or make me reevaluate what I believe. I don’t always understand emotions or feelings that I have let alone those of other people. I think emotional intelligence is an important skill to have and is not one I have mastered. Ms. Coco and I often have different views on the world and different reactions to things. I try very hard to understand how she sees the world and why she feels a certain way, I’m not sure how successful I am at either one of these indevours.

This month has been full of new routines, chores, and experiences. You think that being with someone for a year or two even you would have an understanding of who they are, what they are thinking, and how they feel. Ms. Coco and I are always surprising each other with new challenges both actual and hypothetical. These tests can be easy to overcome at times or sometimes become a recurring disruption.

Sometimes I worry that a disruption will be too large for us and it will fundamentally change how we feel about each other. I have faith in her to be able to adjust to my lack of understanding, and I know Ms. Coco will eventually forgive me for my lack of empathy at times. But I still worry that things will change which keeps out of my comfort zone, I’m hoping that never actually changes so that I can continue to try to improve my understanding of her and her life.

Moving In

Moving In

September is going to be all about moving and chores. We have been working all this week on packing boxes, dismantling furniture, and packing up an oversized truck. We also need to create a system for household chores. There are tasks that I don’t like doing, just like I know Ms. Coco has things she would prefer that I took care of, I know I can’t stand that nasty device called a vacuum.

This last week we have been moving. We finale decided keeping two sperate houses didn’t make sense because we spent all our time in one location. I did like the commuting back and forth between our separate places every couple days but our Poodle puppy Mr. Bates isn’t so fond of it, and Mr. Bates is not welcome at one of our houses because of their policy against dogs.

Ms. Coco told me she hates the idea of moving, to be clear not moving in with me, but physically packing and moving stuff. I offered to take care of the majority of it if she could help out a little. Me packing and moving seemed to work out ok for the most part, but Ms. Coco and I have different ideas when it comes to packing. Ms. Coco would rather use the throw everything away approach or throw away most of her stuff and then pack the rest up in well-labeled boxes that are preferable unpacked by someone else. I’m more the load everything into a truck and then just get it into the new location and find out where it goes later.

I know that moving is stressful for her. She has told me this several times. I was trying to limit how much stress she felt while moving. I don’t know how well I did, but I hope she will want to oversized with me again in the future. I hope there is an another move together in our future; she is my most valuable asset, and I would not feel at home without her.

The Purge…by Ms. Coco

The Purge…by Ms. Coco

September is halfway over, and it seems like we haven’t done an update in a while. The Gentleman Farmer and I traveled to Cuba during August and didn’t focus on a specific challenge. I think our month was challenging enough with everything else happening in our lives. I had a great time in Cuba. It wasn’t at all like I expected…but I don’t think I had too many expectations from the beginning. Food was delicious – most places – drinks were flowing, and people were living it up with what they had. It is a beautiful country, and I am saddened Hurricane Irma destroyed many parts of the island last week.

This month the Gentleman Farmer and I are focusing on household chores. I have finally moved in with him, officially, and we are adjusting to this new dynamic of our relationship. I cannot speak for him, but some things are easier than I thought, and others – not so much. Our cohabitation is the first time I have lived with anyone other than family, and there are certain things one should get acquainted.

I believe I am overwhelmed by the idea of moving. When I prepared to go to Kentucky, I freaked out – didn’t pack anything but towels – and my family had to pack for me. The GF suggested that I allow him to pack for me since I get anxious about the move. In theory, it sounds fine. However, when I move I purge items, I do not want to carry into a new space. The GF is not that way. He throws items into any box in an unknown fashion to me. So my anxious behind packed a lot of boxes and then unpacked them at our newly shared residence. My concern when moving in is where do I place all of my treasured items? I have purged all that I want, and I am down to my necessities. I don’t want them to be placed into a room like I only live in that one space, or kept in a box, or maintained in a casual space because there is nowhere else that it belongs. And that includes piled on a table until we get tired of looking at it. It’s a work in progress, I know.

With household chores, I had a system when living alone. I mainly cleaned on Sundays after church. I did laundry, cleaned the bathroom and living room, and deep cleaned the kitchen. Now that it is two of us, I try to keep areas more functional than if I was alone. The Gentleman Farmer cooks most of the meals, so I offer to clean afterward. I like to do laundry, so I will wash, dry, and fold clothing. The only thing I will not do is put the GF’s clothes away. I know where he puts them, but he likes to get dressed in different parts of the house. Also, I try to respect that he may like his belongings in a particular place. The Gentleman Farmer handles the handiwork – as well as attempts to share his knowledge with me – inside and outside of the house.

All in all, I think the transition has fewer bumps than I thought. I have realized over the course of my adult life that I like to find my stuff where I left it or have a place for it, I want to feel lived in a space I inhabit, and I want to feel respected. Those things will not change. We gon be alright – shoutout to Kendrick Lamar – if we remember to respect each other’s belongings, space, and feelings.

Viva la Wifi in Habana

Viva la Wifi in Habana

I miss communism. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to live in a communist country at least not all the time. On first impression life in Cuba is much slower than the U.S. Our first day in country and you can tell we are some serious differences. It was like stepping back in time 50 years, a time before computers and the internet.

Our first experience with a drastic societal difference was when we went to eat our first day. As Americans; we are used to fast, prompt, and detailed service, when dining out. Our first lunch in Cuba was everything we were unaccustomed to experiencing when dining. It was slow, very slow; our server sat us in the small section of the restaurant that was air-conditioned and then left. While we waited, we noticed that all the plates, silverware, and cups were quite dusty and most of the items on the menu were not available. Our meal was long almost three and half hours. None of our food came out at the same time, and there were no apologies made for any of it, this is just how Cuba is, no need to rush and you eat what’s available.

The laid-back feel of Cuba would be something we would slowly get used to over the week-long trip. We had to learn to settle into 2-3 hour meals. We were, after all enjoying a luxury that most Cubans rarely, if ever, experienced eating at some the nicest restaurants in Cuba.

Cuba is a throw-back to simpler times a time before the internet. I would not say “the good old days” a phrase that irks me every time I hear it. But a time before we were all addicted to our smartphones and devices. Regression can be a bit jarring, we have so much to distract us from our everyday life and problems, and when it all taken away what do we do. We talked to each other, we argued with each other and had some great times exploring Cuba without worrying about recording every second of it for social media.

I enjoyed the change of pace for a bit. Like going camping for the weekend. At first, it is enjoyable to be out in the woods and enjoying nature in all its beauty, but then mosquitoes start biting you, it starts raining, and you have to dig a hole in the woods to use the bathroom. You start to miss home and all the luxury and amenities that affords. I missed being home but I want to remember what it was like to be in Cuba where things are hard to come by, access is limited to the internet, and people still have to entertain themselves. I don’t think it will be long before Cuba changes, although I kind of hope it doesn’t, I’m pretty sure we will never know those simpler times again.