This series is a review of last year’s holiday season
Family Party – December 18th, 2021
My daughter offered to drive me to my sister’s house for the annual holiday party. They have it every year and it’s always a lovely affair where I get to see what’s left of my family. I consider this party to be my Christmas day. It’s about family, food, fun, and just us being together, and it’s as close as I can get to how Christmas felt as a kid.
But if I let my lovely daughter and her boyfriend drive me down there I’ll lose control of the situation. I’m stuck to their schedule and they’re stuck with me. Like my father, I like to be on my schedule and run the whole program myself and not be beholden to anyone else. It’s the best way to do things. I don’t want to have to wait for them to get themselves together, sit in the back of the car, wait while they make stops, get coffee, get lost, and be late. I’m not about any of those things. So I decline.
I get up early, shower, cook my breakfast, get dressed in my holiday finery, and head over to 30th street station on foot. It’s a warm cloudy day and I always enjoy a nice walk through the city.
I get there on my own time and get a chance to relax and wait in the massive terminal. The place isn’t too busy and the trains are all running on schedule. They always have an enormous Christmas tree decorated in the station and it looks lovely.
My train pulls into the terminal and I head down the stairs to the platform and board it. I find a nice quiet seat by myself and look out the window. The trip will take about an hour and a half from 30th street in Philly to the Absecon station down in South Jersey.
Normally my niece comes to the station and picks me up and takes me to the party, but this year I’ve made arrangements with my youngest sister to come and pick me up. I love this idea. We’ve been keeping in touch over the last year and have grown closer. I’m happy that she’s coming to get me because it’ll give us a chance to chat a bit before we get there.
I thought I might just listen to Christmas music on the train ride down, but I’ve heard all of those songs so many times I just can’t anymore. I decided to open my Netflix app and watch a few episodes of Seinfeld to pass the time. It worked! It’s a fast-paced, fun show and after about 3 episodes I was pulling into the Absecon station.
Of course, my sister is there in her Mercedes waiting for me as I disembark the train. I hop in her car and off we go. She tells me we have to make a stop and pick up a big tray of soft pretzel nuggets for the party. I’m fine with any part of this mission. We pull up and I hop out and put my mask on. I go in and give the nice lady the information and she hands me the tray. I charm her a bit and she tosses me a candy cane-shaped pretzel to munch in the car before the party. I thought that was sweet.
We get to the party and see the rest of my family. It’s always a joy. Two of my cousins arrive and I love seeing them as always. Last year we couldn’t have the party due to the pandemic but this year we’re all back. It’s been too long. The food is always the same and I love that kind of consistency. Hot roast beef and meatball sandwiches, little deli hoagies, tons of snacks, and delicious cookies abound. I sip club soda and make the rounds. It’s glorious. The time goes so fast. I love chatting with everyone and seeing how they’re all doing in their lives. Plus, my sisters always send me home with lots of goodies.
I’ve been on this lifestyle diet for over 5 months now but during the two weeks at Christmas and New Year, all bets are off. I don’t gorge myself on treats, but I will partake and get back into my disciplined lifestyle after the new year.
The party started at noon and runs until about 5 pm when people start to head out. My daughter and her boyfriend arrived around 2 pm. two hours late! Thank goodness I didn’t go with them!
The time flies by through the afternoon and it’s time to go. So I grab a bag of cookies, which consist of homemade chocolate chips and sugar cookies that my middle sister bakes every year. I’ll ration these amazing treats over the next few months and probably be still eating them as a rare snack through March. No one can believe that I can make treats last so long. Discipline, baby!
My little sister drives me to the train station and I wait for the train. I can see that she’s waiting in the parking lot to see that I get on okay, which I like. The train roars into the station as a light rain begins to fall. I board, and off I go. Back to episodes of Seinfeld to pass the time and I’m back in 30th street station before I know it. It’s not a cold day so I’m comfortable walking home to my house. I pack away my cookies to keep them fresh and pour myself 2 ounces of whiskey and reflect on my lovely day with my incredible family.
Holiday Surprises Abound – December 20, 2021
The writing assignments have been incredibly light for December. Normally they’ve been averaging around $800 a month. But at this point, I’m only at $80 which is my lowest month ever. I could use the money around Christmas but I’m not going to worry about it. I’m fine financially and have liquid funds I can pull from if necessary. I did have some concerns this month… Taking the 18th off to see my family, and losing Christmas day and New Year’s Day. That’s 3 days of no work and lost income. That’s a bit of a hit. Losing three days of income and only earning $80 in writing money was giving me some stress this holiday season. But I knew I’d be alright, and told myself not to worry about it.
I go to work on Monday and the minute I walk into the store the general manager tells me the owner is downstairs and wants to see me. I’m like… uh oh. what’s up now? I head downstairs to his office.
He’s sitting there and I take a seat. The conversation went something like this.
Him: “I know you’re normally off on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Adam is off these next 2 weeks. Can you work the next two Thursdays to help cover his hours?”
Me: “Sure. I’d be happy to. That makes up for the hours I’ll lose on Christmas and New Year’s.”
Him: “Great. Oh, and I’m paying you for Christmas and New Year even though we’re closed.”
Me: “Oh really? Awesome. Thank you!”
Him: “You took the 18th off to go see your family right?”
Me: “Yes. I put it on the calendar and cleared it with the GM.”
Him: “I know. I’ve decided to pay you for that day too.”
Me: “Really? Thank you so much. This is great!”
Him: “Well, you’ve been here for 5 months now and you’re doing a great job. I appreciate that and I believe in investing in this place and the people who work here.”
Me: “I think that’s great, sir. I’m really happy here.”
Him: “I’m giving you a raise. It won’t be effective until the second pay period in January. Is that okay?”
Me: “That’s perfectly fine sir. Thank you!” (It was a substantial raise and I won’t have to rely too heavily on the writing stuff to meet my monthly obligations)
This is great news. Things are going well right now. I work part-time at a job that’s only a block and a half away from my house and now I’m getting a fat raise. I nearly skipped back upstairs and to the front of the store. Things are looking good for 2022!
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