Christmas presents seem to project interesting ‘theme’

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

Well, it’s official. I have, apparently, reached middle age.
It must be true, because two of my favorite Christmas gifts this year were a parafin-wax hand spa that my Dear Husband bought for me and a full-back/shoulder shiatsu chair-cushion massager that I bought for him. (Yes, some gifts I buy for him are for me, too.)
Oh, and did I mention the massager also includes heat? Woot!
The hand spa is wonderful, particularly as I’ve discovered the joints in my hands have been getting sore lately. I must have done something to cause that – surely, it can’t be arthritis. Only really old people get that, right?
I worry that in the next couple of years, I’ll be thrilled with gifts of a lift chair or one of those Rascal motorized chairs.
Certainly, I do not mean to poke fun at people who really need those useful items. But, as someone who still isn’t sure how she came to be staring down 50 through multi-focal contact lenses, I have to make fun of myself.
Otherwise, I may cry.
Now, I know my sisters have been dealing with these issues of aging for awhile. But, they are older than me, anyway, and I’ve always made fun of them for that. With glee.
For instance, at 20, I had the audacity to throw my oldest sister, Paula, an “Over the Hill” party when she turned 30. Gifts included denture adhesive, Geritol and a box of hair color Oh, the innocence of youth. It is, truly, wasted on the young.
Ironically, I need the hair color. She doesn’t.
On the other arthritic hand, I do find getting older to be somewhat liberating.
First, though I miss them terribly, especially at Christmas, I no longer have my parents with me. Which means, I no longer have to worry about whether something I choose to do will make THEM worry. Or sad. Or angry. You know those stereotypes you see in movies or on TV of the Jewish or Catholic mothers who are experts at instilling guilt? Well, I am here to tell you that Methodists are no slouches at that, either.
Every 10 years, Oprah Winfrey espouses the unexpected benefits of getting older. When she turned 40, she said she’d never felt better or more secure and sure of herself. She felt comfortable in her own skin. I did not believe her then. Of course, I was 30 and she was old. Who cared?
But I believe her now. A few years ago, she gave a similarly glowing review on turning 50.
And after some reflection, I have found that I do have a lot more self-confidence now than I ever did.
Recently, at a party for a friend, I got up and danced by myself among a crowd of people I didn’t know while my husband played in the band. Ten or 20 years ago, I never would have done such a thing. But, I figured there was nothing to lose. I wanted to dance.
Personally, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Of course, setting down some real roots with my Dear Husband – after 20-odd years of drifting from job to job and state to state – has a lot to do with that.
And with those roots has grown my sense of belonging in the Trimble County community. I’ve gotten to really know the people I cover in the paper every week. I’m allowing them to get to know me, too, and that gives my work a nice solid feeling.
And, as Oprah predicted, I’m at the point where I really don’t care what people think. I’m more confident and less afraid to speak my mind. I believe my opinion or input can be valuable. I feel like I’ve paid those “dues” everyone always talks about.
I’m far more comfortable in my own skin. I am an adult, and I’ll do what I want when I want.
Well, as long as it’s OK with Patter. (Insert winky emoticon here.)

Phyllis McLaughlin is editor of The Trimble Banner. She and her Dear Husband live in Milton with a passel of critters.