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Not Knowing You Hit the Lottery Until You Lose the Ticket

One of the things I’ve learned as a writer in this social media world is that the title of your blog should always tell the reader what they’re in for.  Y’all, you have no idea.  But I so truly feel today that I hit the biggest lottery in the world and was totally ignorant about the victory until I lost the ticket.

My dad was sick for a long time, and when the end came, he was in hospice.  People came in and out to see him, and through much of it, I waited in the small waiting room across the hall from his room.  I wanted all of the people that knew him had a chance to say their goodbyes, but it gave me the unique opportunity to hear their conversations as they went in and out of his room.  People loved my dad.  He was well respected, would be desperately missed by more than just us, and I heard time and again as friends and family drifted in and out of that room what a great man my dad was.

My dad the day I got married
My dad the day I got married

The same types of conversations were had at his funeral.  People approached me and talked about what a great man my dad was.  When you’re a kid, you always think you’re dad is a great man, but hearing how much he impacted the lives of others gave me a whole new perspective on just what an incredible guy he was.

My mom’s passing was much more unexpected than my dad’s.  Because she was on life support, there really wasn’t an opportunity for anyone to go in and tell her goodbye.  On her last day, when they roused her enough for us to talk to her, we were able to tell her how much we loved her, but the same opportunity wasn’t afforded to any of her friends.

My amazing mom
My amazing mom

She didn’t want a funeral.  My mom felt like she would be saving us the pain of having to greet people at a time I think she believed should be private.  But this afternoon, I had a chance to be around people my mom worked with.  “She was good people.” “You’re mom was awesome.” “Anna was the best.”  They couldn’t say enough good things about her.  My mom was loved, respected by the people she supervised, and as one of her coworkers told me through his tears, she was an amazing and incredible friend.

I loved my parents.  I knew we were lucky to have them, but I didn’t know how lucky we were.  It was both a moment of tremendous pride and incredible sadness to hear how beloved my mom and dad were to those people I didn’t know very well.

I wish I’d found that lottery ticket.  I had a treasure way greater than I ever imagined.

The Great Christmas Light Fight – Or How Ill Prepared I Was for What I Saw

I’m a sucker for a reality competition.  Cooking shows, weight loss competitions, Amazing Race – I love them all.  And Christmas is my all time favorite holiday, with the bright lights, the family, and the warmth you have to generate yourself to combat the effects of Old Man Winter.  When I saw the commercials for the Great Christmas Light Fight on ABC, I was skeptical.  I thought they were going to take us on a tour of the tacky – the houses that look like they threw up lights, without any rhyme or reason, just to have the biggest display on earth.

Boy, was I wrong.

Okay, not entirely wrong.  There was one family that I truly got the “Ick” feeling from, feeling like they were doing their display more to garner their 15 minutes of fame or launch a music career, but the other families seemed to genuinely have the Christmas spirit.  They did the displays to share the season with friends and neighbors, strangers who came from afar to see the display, and now us, the television viewer.


I chose a favorite early on – a retired New York City firefighter and his wife, Kevin and Tina Lynch from Whitestone, NY – not because they had the biggest display or the greatest number of inflatables or the most lights.  I really felt they had the most heart.  Their house oozed the true Christmas spirit – a little bit wonder and amazement, it captured the Christmas of my own childhood.  It felt familiar, in a nostalgic way.

I thought I was going to be so disappointed in this show, but I loved it.  I thought it would be difficult to determine a winner, but I knew right away who I would pick – and so did the show’s judge, Michael Moloney, from Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition fame.

The show will run Monday nights from now until Christmas.  If you need a touch of the holiday spirit, you just might find it here.