Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve Eve At The U-Store-It

(I originally wrote this as an email last year.  Sadly - I still laugh when I think about it.)

So I nearly spent Christmas locked in a storage unit.


I ran to the unit that my roommate and I share to grab a few things that I need for Christmas. This particular unit is one where you enter a code to get in, the gate slides open, you drive through and the gate slides shuts. When you're finished you drive up to, but DO NOT HIT the gate and the sensor, that "never fails" tells the gate to slide open again, you drive out and life is good.

Turns out, these sensors DO fail.

Now I know from experience that you must drive STRAIGHT up to the gate. This particular sensor does not like angles, so your vehicle must be in a near perfect straight line before it will do its thing. My car was board straight.

After about 15 times of backing up and pulling forward and backing up and pulling forward and backing up and pulling forward, I was hit with the realization... I was trapped. To make matters worse, this particular place has about 2 feet of barbed wire going all around it. I was REALLY trapped. I'm spending Christmas behind bars (well a gate). MOMMIE!!!

Of course this unit is also not a manned unit; meaning there is no supervisor, worker or any other type of human on the premises to help me out.

I started wondering, "Will anyone miss me?" "Will the Christmas Eve Eve Party at the Stuckey's be the same without me?" "Will the folks at work just eventually turn my office lights off and forget I ever existed?"


Eventually I call a number that I found, explained my plight to the guy who answered who responded, "Impossible. Those sensors never fail." If Apple ever develops an app that allows you to reach your hand through and strangle the person on the other side, I'm going to be the first to buy it. I explained to the guy IN GREAT DETAIL exactly what I had already done FIFTEEN TIMES and he says, "Well it certainly doesn't make any sense. Try backing up and pulling forward again." SERIOUSLY???!!!!

So for time number 16 (17, 18, 19 and 20, because he thought that certainly I was doing it wrong) I backed up and pulled forward. I began to wonder if the gum I had in my car would sustain me until New Years.

Finally he says, "Ok, I'm going to tell you a trick but don't tell anyone." (Yeah, right.) So he tells me the location of a button, so secret in nature that not even the CIA knows of it. (FYI - it's behind the fake looking rock near the motor.) He tells me to turn it off, wait 10 seconds and turn it back on. I should hear 2 beeps and then the system will have "righted" itself and I can get out.

No beeps.

He accuses me of possibly being deaf (!!) and suggests I get in my car and try again (#21).

Still trapped.

So he tells me to try the switch again and just in case I'm deaf AND dumb, he counts to 15 with me.

No beeps. This time he even admits he didn't hear the beep (maybe we're both deaf, I wanted to SHOUT). Then he suggests that maybe he'll drive on over and let me out. YA THINK??!!!???

Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas To All

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ‘til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
Dr. Seuss

My requirements for a dog were simple: a mean bark, great with kids (I had none, but you know), housebroken, youngish (without being a puppy) and a few other minor details. Lucy was none of those. But she had the most beautiful, soulful eyes. And from the moment they brought her into the little “Getting To Know You” pen at the Seminole County Humane Society, she had my heart. And very obviously, I had hers.

Lucy is a Shepherd/Rottweiler mix (a Shepweiler as I call her) and Rottweiler’s are known for not sitting straight up – rather they lean, preferably (in Lucy’s case) against me. Also, when she wants to be petted she has a perfect knack of being able to get my hand to rest upon her head. And she’ll move her head back and forth if need be, just to be petted.

I’ve had Lucy with me for just over 10 years now. Each and every day when I come home Lucy is as happy and excited to see me as she was the first time we met. She knows my voice and responds to it (especially when it involves the word “treat”). She knows what it means when I pull out my suitcase, the sound of my alarm going off in the morning, and that tears in eyes means she should put her head in my lap and just be close.

By now you’re wondering… what the heck does this have to do with God and Christmas? I mean, it is your Christmas letter, SURELY you’re going to talk about the birth of Jesus, your trips to Belize, living in Columbia right?? Well today was one of those days where Lucy’s excitement over seeing me was as sweet and genuine as our first meeting. When I walked in the front door tonight she came “running” (she’s 14 – so running may be a stretch) to see me and, as always, leaned. Just like she did the very first time I met her. It struck me today though, that Lucy has ALWAYS done this… it wasn’t the initial high of getting adopted… it’s every day.

I began to wonder why I am not more like my dog with God. He has given me so much… not just the necessities of life, but also quite a few treats. He has blessed me so abundantly, but typically each day I come home, complaining about how long my day was, how tired I was or how hungry I am.
My dog taught me a lesson today… about gratefulness… and love. Regardless of how many times I’ve yelled at Lucy for whatever annoying thing she may be doing… or forgot to fill up her water bowl… or forgot to buy her treats at the store (accidentally, of course)… she is always ready to show she loves me regardless if we’ve been separated for 5 minutes or 5 days.

And I also realized Christmas is about more than treats and necessities. It’s about a God who loves me so much, beyond so much, that he did the one thing that can save me and allow me to have eternal life with him. It’s about a God who says, “Welcome, child” lovingly whether it’s been 5 minutes since I’ve spoken with him or 5 days. And Christmas letters are about more than sharing my life over the past 12 months. It’s about sharing the most important part of my life. Christmas is about Jesus, plain and simple.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Luke 2: 8-12 (NLT)
Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dear Ma

Cecelia H. Wassam
November 20, 1927
December 9, 2000

I purchased this journal on December 23th, 2000.  It was a mere 14 days after my ma had died.  My brother and I had gone to Barnes and Noble in some insane attempt to try to get into the Christmas spirit.  It didn't exactly work. 

I decided there were some things I wanted... no needed to say to my ma that I didn't get to say before she died.  Things that were keeping me up at night and causing the pain and the heartache of those first few hours after I got the phone call that she had died to remain raw.

My idea was simple.  Each year on the anniversary of her death, Christmas morning and New Year's Day, I would write my ma a letter.  I would tell her everything I wished I had been able to tell her throughout the year.  Tell her how much I miss her.  Tell her how I long to see her again.  Then I would pack the journal away with all my Christmas decorations until the following year. 

I also added one thing that I do every December 9 - I read though the first few entries I wrote.  Without fail, even before I finish the first line, I'm bawling like a baby.  But it's a letter to my ma.  Written on my first Christmas morning without her.  And daggum I missed her so.

Today is the 9th anniversary of my ma's death.  I still miss her so much it hurts.  I still long for one last hug and kiss from her like you can't even imagine (or maybe some of you can - know that I totally feel your pain).  I can still, just barely, hear her calling my name like she did when I was 8 playing over at the Knecht's.  I fear that someday I will forget what her voice sounded like.

In a little bit I'm going to open up that journal for the first time this season.  I've got a roll of toilet paper nearby (I ran out of Kleenex!!), my cat curled up right next to me, and Lucy sleeping soundly on her bed in the corner.  I guess I'm ready...

Dear Ma...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pizza Soup - It's What's For Dinner

There are several variations on this recipe - so feel free to make it your own.  The basic premise is anything and everything that you put on top of a pizza can go into the soup.  Be creative.  Have fun.  ENJOY!!  (And I'd be a TERRIBLE person without giving much kudos to Charlotte Price who originally shared this recipe with the Richard Skipper State Farm Agency.  SALUTE!)


  • 1 onion, diced
  •  1 green pepper, diced
  •  8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  •  Garlic (totally depends on how much you like garlic - I tend to use a lot which means I have a healthy heart)
  • 1 16 oz. roll of Jimmy Dean Sausage (original recipe calls for 2, but it's WAY too much in my opinion).  If you want it spicy use the hot Italian version.  Sage works well too.  Maple is disgusting.  I generally use the plain, original (cause I'm just a plain, original girl).
  • 1 package Hormel pepperoni (I use turkey pepperoni - it has a wee bit more spice to it for some reason and it just sounds like I'm trying to be a tad bit more healthy)
  • 2 BIG cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 regular sized cans of diced tomatoes (I usually use the ones that have some sort of flavoring to 'em.  Onion and green pepper or something - but again, the choice is yours)

In a large pan, saute the onion, green pepper, mushrooms and garlic.  Remove from pan and place in crockpot.

Brown sausage.  Drain WELL.  (But make sure you get all the little brown bits off of the bottom of the pan - those are YUMMY in this soup!)  Add to crockpot.

Slice pepperoni pieces into strips (this is just a personal thing - you can leave them as they are).  Add to crockpot.

Add tomatoes and stir well.

Cook on low for... oh I dunno... 6 hours?  The original recipe had it being cooked on the stove top - which you can TOTALLY do - I just like doing it in the crockpot.  If you're in a semi-hurry, you can cook it in the crockpot on high for about 3 hours.

Serve with garlic toast and mozzarella cheese.


Now here's where you make it your own.  Don't like sausage?  Use ground beef, make mini meatballs, whatever!  Skip the pepperoni and double the sausage/ground beef.  I HATE green peppers so I rarely use those.  Add olives.  Don't add olives.  What do you like on your pizza?  Put it in the soup!  (I double dog dare ya to make a ham/pineapple version.  If you do - let me know!)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dear Me -

Have you heard of the website  Obviously sometime back in May I learned of it for the first time.  How it works is simple - you set up an account and on a future date you can send yourself (or anyone for that matter) an email about absolutely anything. I believe that future date can be anytime in the future.  Days, weeks, months from now.

Kinda cool.

And today, kinda creepy.

Back on May 11 I sent myself an email as a reminder of something that happened 2 years ago.  Something that if things were different would make today an AMAZING day.  Actually, because things aren't different it still makes today an AMAZING day.

Because of some other CRAZY things that are happening today, actually at the moment I received the email from me, this email became that much more poignant. 

God loves me too much to let me be miserable. 

God loves me too much to let me have what I want.

God loves me too much to let me get my way - regardless of how much I beg.

God love me.