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Halloween is the catalyst. It starts the ball rolling. We stuff ourselves on (stashed away!) Trick or Treat candy and it’s all downhill from there. Thanksgiving, endless holiday get-togethers, baked goods and cookies at work, ‘just this once’ excuses to gorge. And then of course The Big Day itself. Next up is New Year’s Eve, a celebratory extravaganza of still more to chow down on.

And then the guilt – and pounds – really start to settle in…

But for now – Enjoy! And Happy Halloween to my wonderful blogging friends everywhere. 🙂

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The eating season is upon us.

Purists, myself included, might argue that Thanksgiving is NOT the true starting point of holiday gluttony. It’s Halloween, instead, that really kicks off the Season of Eatin’ in my mind. Sure, the kiddos are scarfing down sugar at an alarming rate on All Saints Day; however, only the most disciplined among us fail to hold back our favorite candies from the Trick or Treat Trough for our own enjoyment later, leaving little ghosts, witches and goblins a paltry mix of Dots, Butterfingers and hard candies instead of the really good stuff – Tootsie Rolls, Milky Ways and Hershey bars.

And so it’s Halloween when our caloric intakes begins its steep ascent. By the time we’ve eaten our way through our private stashes of chocolate (and let’s face it – that’s the stuff we tell ourselves we’re buying for the children but we all know we buy those bags of miniatures for US, not the neighbor kids), we’re only a few weeks away from Turkey Day with the named main course, hard to resist side dishes, buns, rolls and pies, pies, PIES!

As we scramble to locate needle and thread to refasten all the buttons that have popped from stuffing ourselves silly at Thanksgiving, our eating thresholds now risen a few notches, the pièce de résistance – the countdown to Christmas! – begins. Endless potlucks, company luncheons, goodies showing up at work every other day, holiday get-togethers and the Big Day itself with ham and potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole and platters brimming with sausages, cheese and crackers. And that’s just the warm-up. The real business is yet to come – Christmas cookies, bars, more pies, decadent desserts of every kind. To wash it all down are soft drinks, eggnog, wine, steaming hot cocoa and apple cider and other choice beverages, several of which are alcoholic in nature.

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The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without the warmly traditional yet rich, calorie-laden, sugary, fattening, gloriously delicious foods of our childhoods. Come January, we’ll pay the price but for most of us, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sometimes I feel like the world’s biggest jerk. Everyday annoyances and pet peeves – humph. I’m a fool to let such inconsequential things get me all riled up but still they do. My life, while far from perfect and not without challenges or constraints, is holding up pretty darn well, thank you very much. I am fairly healthy and gainfully (and comfortably) employed. My husband treats me like a queen, makes me laugh and is a wonderful BFF. We are financially stable, my son is thriving in both in his career and in his personal life, we live in a beautiful home and we’re happy – plain and simple.

But – News Flash! – I’m human and as such I’m as prone as the next guy (or gal) to grumbling when things don’t quite go my way or aren’t to my liking. And for that I feel pretty sheepish at times, embarrassed even.

It’s just that, well, it’s the way some folks (okay – LOTS of folks) don’t bother to reciprocate during conversations by asking me questions about MY weekend or showing even a modicum of interest in MY life – while I’m happy to query them about theirs and listen patiently with a smile on my face, nodding with interest, encouraging them to go on. Or when people at work don’t bother to clean up after themselves, leaving sinks and countertops sloppy and gooey with coffee grounds or pizza crusts or chili con carne and not wiping up their messes. I also find annoying (and I’ll admit that, yes this is really pretty doggone trivial) the local tradition we learned of when we moved to the Des Moines metro nine years ago known as Beggar’s Night where kids Trick or Treat a day or two prior to Halloween INSTEAD OF just taking the kids door to door ON Halloween. They’ve been doing it for decades and while it’s cute how the kids usually tell a joke to get their candy I still think it’s silly that they don’t do it ON Halloween. What’s the point then of there even being a day called Halloween?

See what I mean? Some incredibly petty things to get upset about, right?

Oh. And can we go back to Halloween for a minute? It IS that time of year, after all. What is up with kids ringing the doorbell, bags thrust forward, expectantly waiting for the candy to fall and not saying a word? When WE were kids (‘Get off my lawn!’), we always and eagerly shouted ‘Trick or Treat!’ as soon as the door was opened. And it was simply unthinkable that we would ever fail to say ‘Thank You’ after we’d been treated. Kids these days!

Indeed, I know what you’re thinking. ‘Julie, you ARE the biggest jerk in the world’. Because I do KNOW that this stuff means nothing. It’s just not worth it to get all worked up over something so frivolous and irrelevant. But there it is and here I am – warts and all. At least, at least I can take some comfort in knowing I am not alone. Everyone gets up in arms over day to day nuisances once in awhile. Mine may not be the same as yours but our shared humanity tells me that we all have our days. Some of those days just may be uglier and more unattractive than others, that’s all.

So to compensate I try to be more positive.  I clean up the spilled coffee and I laugh at all the kid’s funny Halloween jokes and that’s why I’ll continue to sit there, smiling encouragingly and try to put the focus on the other person in an effort to make them feel appreciated, liked and admired despite their cluelessness in not extending me that same courtesy. Sometimes, though, it really is a challenge.

Here it is: the middle of July and that means summer is pretty much half over. Thanks to a nasty trio of infections I enviously watch healthy children, teens and adults enjoying the wonderful summer weather. They are blissfully unaware that losers like myself are confined indoors or swaddled in layers of clothing when venturing outdoors.

That’s fine. Not the end of the world although it is frustrating. On the upside there is still plenty of summer left in what remains of July and all of August. Beyond that we have the lovely month of September and then the very best season of the entire year: FALL! Crisp air, changing colors, leaves crunching underfoot, kids going back to school, football games, apple festivals, HALLOWEEN! While some (negative people) discount the beauty of the season and grumble about what comes next, I love this time of year. Not only is there the delightfully fun trick-or-treat celebration of crazy and color that falls on October 31st there is also Thanksgiving – the precursor to the wonderful Christmas holiday season. Christmas and winter and the first snowstorm and comfort food and hot chocolate eventually yield to the downside of the calendar – that long stretch of cold and snow and wind and ice that us Midwesterners grapple with (in varying degrees) every year. Then there is spring which runs a close second (for me anyway) with all its new growth and green and lovely blue skies and birds chirping and flowers, flowers, FLOWERS!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There are still many summer days ahead of us and just as soon as I kick this nasty cough I plan to grab the bull by the horns and enjoy what’s left of it!