Well, it is Friday night and I survived a week in the wilds of Pennsyltucky and tomorrow I return to NYC. In all honesty, I enjoyed the week of quality time with my parents. I saw one sister a few times and got in some decent time with her. The other sister I saw briefly on Xmas day and must admit I am surprised, though I am not really sure why, by how little I saw her or heard from her over the course of a holiday week.
I did get to see all of my nieces and nephews at least once. I saw my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Bob and their kids, my cousins, as well. While I always make an effort to see my Aunt and Uncle when I am in town, I don't often get to see my cousins, so that was nice. The planned rendezvous with my best friend from elementary and high school did not happen, as his dad was ill. That was unfortunate as Xmas is normally the only chance I get to see him.
Not much has changed here, though it rarely does. On the family front, my dad continues to battle prostate cancer and I feel as though the disease, his age and retirement are taking a physical and emotional toll on him. After having his prostate removed and a very low PSA level on his initial bloodwork, a pathology report showing the tumor broached the prostate and recently elevated PSA levels mean further treatments are likely.
Mom and dad still fight like cats and dogs, if not more so than before. I think my dad's retirement is taking a toll on my mom too. I think both miss their routines. Though I think the cat is liking it.
The home town is now being ravaged by drugs as well as the economic turmoil it has suffered for years. The local paper is full of reports of arrests for crack and heroin, something that was foreign to this region until recently and something I fear it is ill equipped to battle.
Driving through Shamokin the other night I realized it is not all that unlike the Bronx, aside from the skin color of most of the residents. They both have many of the same issues to deal with socially and economically.
Tonight we did take in a culturally event. A local arts group hosted a concert at Mt. Carmel HS featuring a Trans-Siberian Orchestra tribute/cover/recreation band called Twelve Twentyfour. It was quite entertaining. I went with my mom and sister. This area needs more stuff like this and it is trying very hard. It is tough for an economically challenged area like this to provide opportunities for its citizens, but they try.
Another example of their efforts, though likely less successful is the "coal drop" being planned yet again for New Years Eve. While NYC drops the crystal ball from high stop Time Square, Shamikin will yet again drop a simulated piece of coal from high atop a flag pole at the intersection of Indendence and Market Streets, the city's two main thoroughfares. The one and only time I attended thiscevent some 10-15 years ago, the event was emceed by a Mork from Ork/Robin Williams look-a-like. Trust me, it was more sad and pathetic than it sounds. Though, it looks like it is becoming famous iin its own right. Let me know if you need me to explain cold Schmidt's (local beer), pierogi (Polish food) and a pigeon (more Polish food, not the bird).
While I am excited to get back to civilization and NYC and my own apartment, bed and routine, I will miss my family and in a strange way I may even miss "home."
Look at this card my parents got!!! Geez!!! Hey, look... I just bagged me a Rudolph... Or is it Dasher? Or Dancer? Prancer or Vixen? Comet, Cupid, Donner or Blitzen? Do you recall the reddest necked Christmas
It's not as big as mine, but this is where I get my inspiration (or addiction) from. My mom, my sisters and I all have many of the same ornaments as we buy them for each other and often get one for ourselves too.
My one sister has a small "country" style (I call it Charlie Brown-esque) tree and she does not have as much room for ornaments. I have the colossal tree and have/need the most ornaments. But the funny thing is, like my mom, I can pretty much tell you the story behind each ornament... From the tin ornament that held candy, which my grandfather bought me at the Copper Kettle Candy Kitchen when I was five years old... To the ornaments that my friends Juan, Paul, Jerry and Alex gave me the last two years.
My style of decorating the tree is rather eclectic and I have no theme to the ornaments either in color, shape or style. I have handmade ornaments, figurines, novelty ornaments and various types of balls (glass and otherwise). There is always a bird's nest in the tree (good luck) and an elf hugging the top of the tree (something my folks and sisters also do).
One thing I miss from when were little kids is when my dad would build a platform under the tree and set up a train and village with fake snow and people and houses that lit up. I think I am going to try and find a picture of that.
Cancer (June 21 - July 22) - Emotions are changing and so are thoughts regarding your future. You are usually pretty conservative but lots is happening and, like it or not, it is time to move on. Reflect, enjoy family and appreciate what's being offered to you.