Jingle Bells, jingle bells…
Ahh. Christmas music. A perfect follow-up to the Christmas romance I just finished listening to.
Will I ever meet my Mr. Perfect-for-Me?
Seriously? Why, Amy? Why?
And why, after a wonderful visit and a satisfying audiobook, am I suddenly feeling down?
Thanksgiving with my family -- now that was perfect! It was so good to see everyone. The kids are great and so much fun! And to think my grandparents are still hanging in there! They’re all getting really old, but oh, so much love. I’m ashamed that I even considered missing seeing my family just to shop. Ugh! Talk about skewed priorities.
I wonder if that’s how God feels on Sundays. Or other holy days. Or when we don’t think of Him at all.
And aren't we pensive today... Where’d that come from?
Silent night, holy night…
It takes Christmas music to remind you of God, Amy?
“Are you okay?” A woman is beside me yanking earpods from her ears. She has big, brown eyes, super short, curly hair, and smooth, ebony skin. She’s older than me and in great shape. Beautiful.
She touches my arm, her face a picture of concern.
I shrug, unable to speak for the tears clogging my throat.
“Oh, honey. Are you hurt?”
I shake my head.
She rubs my arm and waits.
“I can’t run…” My voice sounds pitiful. Weak. Like me.
“Are you hurt?” she repeats. “Look at me, baby.”
I force myself to look up from my running shoes.
“Why can’t you run?” Her voice is quiet, gentle.
“I’m…I’m out of shape.” My voice returns, harsh and angry, opposite of hers. “Fat.”
I hear, actually hear her intake of breath.
“No,” she says. “Walk with me? Which way were you going?”
“To the gym.”
Here I am, running – or is it jogging – to the gym. Running off Carmen’s hot chocolate and that last slice of Samira’s bundt cake that was this morning's breakfast. Running to forestall extra holiday pounds. Just a few days till Thanksgiving!
It feels great out this evening. I’m so thankful that the days are finally cooling down and I can wear my sweats without melting.
Free. Light. Free. Light.
Aww, those two little squirrels look like they’re having a serious chat in the middle of the street. Take it to the sidewalk, guys!
And I’m not going to make it to the next intersection… I have to stop and catch my breath. Drat! After this, I’ll still have a major street to cross and maybe ten blocks to go, give or take.
This is going to take forever.
Pathetic! You are PATHETIC, Amy!
Do not cry.
Kind thoughts. Kind thoughts!
How can I be kind to a slobby sloth?
“You are a guru.”
Carmen laughs. “You are worrying over nothing.”
The hot chocolate is rich, thick, and cinnamony, with just a hint of chile. A revelation in itself.
The twins finished theirs and are playing with little Jose. He is sooo cute, all bright eyes and chubby cheeks.
Fluttery gesture… Is that my hand doing that?
“It’s easy for you to say. You have a beautiful home. Filled with furniture, I might add.”
“But we’ve been here for almost ten years. It didn’t happen in a day and you shouldn’t expect it to, either. Emile, easy with your brother!” Carmen redirects a sudden, stern look at me. “Family is important, and yours is close. You can be with them. You can play with your niece…Callista? And her baby brother, spend time with your parents. Even if you don’t decorate this year, so what? You just moved in. It's your life, Amy. Don’t allow social media, consumer culture, or even your neighbors to dictate how you live it.”
My life. Mine...
“Like I said, guru...”
Carmen winks. “We’ll only talk about you a little if you go.”
“Carmen, where do you call home?”
“Yeah, sorry. Hi.”
“What was the question?”
“Where’s home to you? Mexico? Here?”
“Both! Why do you ask?”
“But if you had to be both places at once, what would you do?”
“Well, I’d obviously have to choose.”
“Which one? How do you choose?”
“Amy, why don’t you come over? I’m making hot chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate, the old-fashioned way. You’ll love it.”
“Of course, neighbor. Come!”
Whoa! That’s one huge wreath! You can hardly see the door!
People are already decorating for Christmas?
Not me. No, sirree. Christmas is after Thanksgiving.
Which is in just a few days!
I need to get back to the craft store! I need…stuff!
I need furniture! I could probably get some really good deals this Black Friday.
But I’m going home for Thanksgiving.
Home? Isn’t this home?
New house, Amy. New life. New responsibilities.
Where has biryani been all my life? It’s DELICIOUS, a wonderful blend of rice, chicken, spices, nuts.
I haven’t eaten much Indian food. Samosas… Anything else? Nope. That pretty much sums it up. And now, biryani. I wonder if there’s an Indian restaurant nearby?
What a sweet family! And I couldn’t even offer them a seat. Well, I did offer Mrs. Patel my one barstool, but she pretended not to hear. How embarrassing!
It was nice, though, that they all came inside. They just stood around chatting in my nearly empty house as if it were the normal way of things.
I probably should’ve kept that old couch. But it was ugly. Worse, it was a reminder of an ugly time. I didn’t want to bring furniture from the apartment into my new home.
My furniture budget isn't going to stretch as far as I'd hoped it would.
That's okay. I can start small. But what first? What style?
I don't have a style!
Modern Farmhouse is beautiful and still very popular. Isn't it?
But I’m not a very modern sort of girl.
One, two, three… Five people. An elderly woman with a long, white braid and gorgeous yellow and orange sari stands front and center, flanked by a man and a woman (no sari), a teen girl, and little boy.
All beaming at me.
“Hello?” Honestly, Amy, you were raised better. Smile! “Sorry. Hi!”
“Welcome to the neighborhood!”
“I’m Jenny Patel.” The elder speaks with a sort of British accent. “And this is my son Neal, his wife Samira, and my grandchildren, Tara and Amir. We live across the street, two houses down to the left.”
Tara, looking shy and possibly a little embarrassed, steps forward, holding out a covered glass container.
“My grandma made you biryani.” She has an American accent.
“Oh, how nice.” I’m not too familiar with Indian food. I glance at Grandma. “Thank you. Thank you all very much. I’m Amy, Amy Munro.”
The little boy steps forward, thrusting a pot of yellow mums at me with a little bow.
“Thank you!” Holding the glass container and flowers, I look at them.
The children’s mom has a bundt cake...
I’m out of hands.
Long day today, but it was good. I just wish I’d stopped by the grocery store.
Because options are really limited. Scrambled eggs it is!
Hey, it’s better than fast food. Healthier and way more economical. Way to stick to that budget, Amy!
You just bought a house, after all.
Doorbell? My new workout tops? Yesss.
Suddenly I can't stop giggling. Maybe my priorities are a little off…
But I’m happy!
Is that more than one person at the door?
Oatmeal and spinach do not go well together, no matter how much hot sauce you dribble on top! But I didn’t waste! Nope, not me! I ate it. At least, most of it.
Spinach works in quiche. Why not oatmeal?
And that’s why I bought the spinach. For quiche, not oatmeal. Obviously.
Quiche could have doubled as dinner, especially with a nice, little salad. I need recipes!
Healthy, delicious recipes. I have my homework for tonight. Too bad I don’t have dinner.