Monday, December 23, 2013

Kitty purrs and puppy kisses for Christmas

My friend’s dog just died. He’s heartbroken. He took this dog everywhere with him, just adored her. He and his wife have human children and grandchildren who all live far away. In recent years, the dog was their baby. Now instead of celebrating Christmas, all he wants to do is cry. As a dog mom, I know how he feels.

For many of us, our dogs and cats are our only babies, and we treat them that way. Some people go overboard. I always feel sorry for the pets forced to wear reindeer antlers or jingle bells. That can’t be comfortable. Of course there are those folks who also dress their dogs and cats in velvet and fake-fur hats and coats or Christmas sweaters for the holidays.

Have you seen the YouTube video of the cat being wrapped like a Christmas present? You’ll laugh, I promise.You may also be tempted to watch the many other offerings there. They're funny but also true.

How many of us hang up Christmas stockings for our fur babies or put gifts for them under the tree? Surveys have shown that nearly half of us give our pets wrapped gifts for their birthdays and Christmas. I actually don’t. My dog Annie tends to eat everything I give her, whether it’s food or not. Also, I don’t think she likes Christmas. I’m gone too much, and our schedule is all out of whack. But I know plenty of people whose pets are on the gift list.

Most of us consider our pets part of the family. But how far does that go? Do you put your pets’ names on your Christmas cards? For me, it depends on whether or not the recipient knows Annie, but there’s something about being able to write down multiple names that makes it feel more like a family.For a while in my younger days, I secretly hoped some people would see the name on my card and think I had had a baby. They didn't need to know it was a dog.

How about you? Do you give your pets presents, dress them up for Christmas or include their names in their holiday greetings?

Bonus question: Does your family think you’re nuts?

Thank you for reading my blog and sharing your lives with me all these years. May your holidays be full of kitty purrs and puppy kisses.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Immediate help for childless holiday survival

Holidays making you nuts? You can survive. You will survive. Here are some things that might make it easier.

Life Without Baby: Holiday Companion. Lisa Manterfield and Kathleen Guthrie Woods, who write the Life Without Baby blog, have compiled their favorite holiday blog posts  into one 57-page e-book that just might help you get through these crazy days. Family traditions getting you down? Is it kids, kids, kids everywhere you turn? Tired of people asking when you’re going to have children? This little e-book offers advice for all those situations and more. Plus it’s fun to read. You can download it right now and be reading it just in time to face Christmas with a more positive outlook.

Watch a movie! Television being full of sappy specials these days, I've been using my Netflix movie subscription to the max. Last night I watched "The Last Ride," which is a fictionalized story about country music star Hank Williams. So good. Not a baby or pregnant woman to be seen. Earlier this week, I watched "Great Gatsby" with Leonardo DiCaprio. Wonderful and also childfree. You could rent this version and the older one with Robert Redford and spend almost five hours in no-baby bliss. Another excellent movie is "Now is Good," which is about a young woman who is trying to pack everything into her life before she dies of a fatal illness. No babies, and it's very upbeat despite the subject matter.

If you're into monsters, suspense, fantasy or romance, I'm sure there's a movie out there for you. Go to the theater or stay home and watch it on your DVD player or Internet-connected device and forget all about your troubles.

Can you suggest some other great distractions?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Some Tidbits for Your Childless Christmas Stocking

I’ll bet most of us are going a little crazy with Christmas only a week away. I was out of town for my dad’s surgery in early December (he's doing great), so I got all off schedule. To catch up, I decided to do everything in one day: shopping, cards and decorating. For those inclined to try it, take my advice and don’t. About a third of the way through the decorations, I started sobbing. It was just too hard with no kids, no husband, and no family nearby. Why bother? The dog hovered around me, trying to lick my face as I dove deep into my pity party. 

The next day I was over it and finished what I could, deciding I didn't need to do everything I had done every year before. To be honest, not having children or grandchildren meant a lot fewer gifts to worry about. I had my presents in the mail before the post office closed at noon. Now I’m done decorating and almost finished with the cards. I'm finally able to listen to Christmas carols.

As we established in last week’s post, I don’t have any young children in my life. Everybody’s kids have grown up. But that’s not the case for lots of childless people. This time of year, they find themselves surrounded by people obsessed with making Christmas special for their kids. I’ll bet some of you can identify with this reader’s dilemma over the family gift exchange in the Ask Carolyn column. I like Carolyn’s answer. Do you?
In lieu of any brilliant thoughts of my own today, I offer two additional articles that I think you’ll find worth reading. In the first one, Jody Day of Gateway-Women offers a powerful essay, "Childlessness is a Political, as Well as a Deeply Personal, Issue" on the difficulties of being childless at Christmas  and throughout the year.

This piece, “I’m So Glad I’ve Frozen My Eggs,” linked from the Have Children or Not blog, offers a fascinating look at one possibility for women who are worried about not being able to have children until after their eggs are too old.

Happy reading, and please try to enjoy all the good things about the holidays and let the rest go. As always, I welcome your comments.