One Year of (Mostly) Blissful Blogging..

Today is my one year Facebook Page-iversary, and one year of published blogging.  Funny how time flies when you are writing....

After last Friday's events, I couldn't help but question why I do what I do.  Do I continue doing what I'm doing?  Why bother?  A sense of helplessness and hopelessness took over this past weekend and I thought, I've done it a year - is it really that important in the scheme of things?

My answer.


Most of you that have been with me forever know that one common thread through my blogging year is making the world a little smaller, a little less scary, a little happier, a little more positive.  Just as I used my blog and Facebook page as a safe place to go and find the funny or the thought of the day, I know many of you came here for that, too.  For that, I thank you.  For that, I will continue to do what I do, albeit somewhat unimportant and silly but a necessity for my sanity.

Looking back over the past year, this is what I think about.

It never ceases to amaze me that people read and enjoy my blog, my thoughts, my experiences.  I love the fact that I have been able to reach out to people that I would have never met otherwise, and touched a cyberhand in some way.  It's like imaginary friends coming to life.  It's like opening my Laptop to find a group of people smiling and waving to me - it's like hearing applause every time I type.  I am so grateful to you for your kindness, your 'ear' or more like your eyes that read, and your simulated shoulder I lean on every day to help me organize my thoughts, share my stories, and laugh with me too.  Thank you.  Those two words don't do my feelings justice.


Some of the support that I have gotten on random not-so-good experiences this past year has floored me.  Just taking two minutes out of your day to comment or send an email expressing a caring thought or kind word has meant more than you can know.  Many of you have even trusted me to help you get your blog started.  I will never be able to tell you how honored I feel that you called on me for help - so thank you.  And for those of you who have written me thank you emails for helping you get through a tough day or rough patch - those letters are kept safe in a file folder for days when I question why I do what I do.  Those letters have come to my rescue on the not-so-good days.  So again, so much gratitude!

Comments on blogs are like an easy drug, especially the good ones.  When you open up and share your experiences and thoughts, and believe me when I tell you I read every single one of them, I am so happy.  I may not comment on every single one, though I'd like to, but I read them and think about them, and appreciate them.  I am sure I speak for others, too, when I say that they enjoy reading your comments and thoughts, too.  I like to think of this blog as a safe place to share - and you, my readers, have never once that I can remember, shot anyone down for their way of thinking.  Respectful, civil dialog is still possible in this world.  Again, Thank You.

Thanks for not doing this. . . . lol!

Where do I start on this?  From BlogHer 2012 when I met some of the most wonderful people on the Internet in person, to Chicago's Blogger Weekend, to people that I haven't met in person that I feel I can call friends - I have been fortunate to grow my circle of friends through this blog.  I love knowing that by putting myself out there, and trusting people with my blather, I have been repaid by the universe in long lasting, special friendships.  In turn, I have also been able to share others' experiences - such as their long - awaited pregnancies, a year of being sober, fighting cancer, surviving a car accident, raising twins that were born too early, fighting domestic violence, etc. etc.   I have become a more sympathetic, well - rounded person which each of these blogs that I read. 

The memes, the pics, the stories, the comics - - the ecards.  Oh how they make me laugh to make them, to share them, to read the comments on them.  That is my biggest joy - being able to spread belly laughs through the silliness of every day life.  Laughter truly is the best medicine.

One of my all-time favorites.

I don't have a nanny - but I can so relate to this and it makes me laugh every time I see it.

What was I going to say about this one?  I forgot.

In the past year of blogging and running a group page, I have made $120.  52 weeks = $120.  I'm no math major but I think that works out to be $10.00/month...33 cents a day.  Who makes that kind of money these days?  At this rate, by the time I am 90 years old, I can buy something really nice with my blog money.  Ahh, thank goodness I don't do it for the money.  If I got paid in laughs, which in my mind I do, I'd be one rich lady....and as far as the soul goes, I'm as rich as Rockefeller. 

$100/year salary...yep, that sounds about right.

So for all of this, I thank you.

Cheers to another blissful year of blogging...
With Gratitude and Love..


'We Need a Little Christmas, Right This Very Minute.'

 Toast by Richard Jack.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Let your heart be light.

Have a cup of cheer.
          Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men
God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, Let nothing you dismay.

From now on, our troubles will be miles away.
Pray for peace, people everywhere...Listen to what I say

All of these lyrics...from the most popular Christmas Carols that we hear over and over again during this season, have a different meaning this year, don't they?  They've been around for years, we've been hearing them repeatedly, and yet this year, while wrapping gifts, decorating, and going through the motions, we stop and think.  Let your heart be light.    How?  How do we do that when the sadness weighs it down so much?  How do we have a cup of cheer without the guilt, without thinking about the parents who can barely swallow anything but tears right now?   How?  We can't help but ask this question.

We need a little Christmas...right this very minute.   The magic of Christmas.  The spirit of Christmas.  The belief in Christmas miracles.  Regardless of what your beliefs are, what religion you practice, what you celebrate, how you celebrate, we have one common denominator; we are human beings and we ARE responsible for our fellow man.  We live on this Earth together.  If only we worked together to make it a better place.  The Christmas season has known to be the season of giving, the season of forgiving, the season of caring, sharing, and bearing the burdens of people who bear them alone all year long.  We give to food pantries, so that no child is hungry for the holidays.  We give to Toys For Tots so that every child has a gift waiting for them on Christmas morning.  This year we need to give a gift to ourselves.  A gift of hope, and a gift of knowing we can make a difference starting with each one of us.  A gift to our children - a promise of a better world.  We can live richer lives - we can treat each other with more respect - we can look out for our neighbors and friends - and what the hell - even strangers.  We can make this year we came together, united to make a difference.  It all starts with  We all share the burden. 

As far as Christmas goes, maybe this year the burden that we usually feel in the third week of  December from the pressure of gift buying,  wrapping, tree trimming, decorating, card mailing, baking, listmaking, doublechecking, elf moving, menu planning, stocking stuffing, last minute shopping, checkbook balancing and miracle working will be taken a little less seriously, with a little less complaining, and a re-focus on the simple things, joys, and  peacefulness of the holidays.

If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, and again with things; if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have the time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or anticipate the coming of the Child as did Mary? For each one of us, there is a desert to travel.  A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life.  ~Author Unknown

If you have to simplify this year, then do it.  Take the things you love most about Christmas and keep them, focus on them, enjoy them.  If it's watching the snow fall outside while sitting by the tree that brings you joy - then do it.  If it's wrapping gifts while listening to carols - go for it. If you haven't been to church in years, and the heavenly sounds of a church choir fill your heart with warmth - then put it on your to -do list and do it.   If it's immersing yourself in cookie baking and sharing the love, then bake away.  All of these things nurture our souls and lift up our hearts a little...and who couldn't use that right now?

What heals a broken heart?  My simple answers are love, kindness, warmth, compassion, giving to others, accepting what others have to give...and of course, time.  The from-the-belly giggles that my kids release every morning they wake up and run down the stairs and see the tree certainly help it swell again, too.  We have a choice - to spend Christmas frazzled, frantic and fearful...or spend it peaceful, content, grateful, hopeful and full of love.  I choose to be peaceful - and I hope you do, too.

Until next time,  I wish you green lights, blue skies, and an endless supply of love,


One Foot in Front of the Other...

Quite honestly, yesterday's grief and horror was simply not fathomable.  Our hearts are not equipped to handle that kind of pain.


 The Morning After...

I will write so I can attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible.
It never ceases to amaze me that the sun continues to come up the morning after another unspeakable tragedy.  The cars continue to whiz by, the clouds take new shapes in the sky, the donuts at the local shop are still ready for the next customer, the coffee goes on. 
Do we all feel a hint of unworthiness this morning as our lives go on and others don't?  Maybe it's just human nature, but we all feel like we are the lucky ones to have (literally and figuratively) dodged another bullet.  It wasn't our mall this time.  It wasn't our movie theatre this time.  It wasn't our school..this time.  I can't help but feel a little angry when I even have these thoughts to begin with.  Why should we even think that, when it used to be we felt fortunate that we weren't ill, that it wasn't us in that car accident, that it wasn't us that were in the plane crash.  Those were horrific of course ... but somehow in the back of our minds, we knew those were distinct and logical things to be grateful we were not involved in.  These new types of horrific tragedies shouldn't even be in our thoughts, and yet they are - they are becoming nightmarish monsters of their own kind.

“ a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart.”

~Louise Bogan, Poet
My boys woke up and sprinted downstairs, like on any other typical Saturday, took a flying leap onto the couch while sporting bed hair and sleepy faces.  Once again, they fought over the remote control and which of their favorite cartoons to watch.  They remembered their Star Wars Lego Advent calendar and decided whose turn it was to open, and watched in excitement for what piece today had to offer.  With a heavy, but grateful heart, that I watched them, knowing someone's Advent calendar will permanently remain as it was yesterday, forever.
It all makes me want to say I'm sorry.
I'm sorry for the times I rushed them to school and said "I love you, now go - go - go and have a good day" as I yelled from the car.
I'm sorry for the times that I complained that they ask for juice and snacks every ten minutes.
I'm sorry for the countless times I lost my patience over how many questions they asked me in a day.
I'm sorry for the times I stepped on their Legos and yelled about their toys and their rooms and their clothes and the toilet seat and and and and ....
I know we're all doing the best we can.  I know being a parent is challenging and exhausting and thrilling and rewarding all in somewhat equal parts throughout the year.  I know we all need an outlet.  Some of us blog or use other social media to vent or have a laugh.  Some of us have hobbies, crafts, sports, clubs, book groups - whatever - we are trying to live fulfilling, balanced lives, all while that quiet ghost of uncertainty follows us around everywhere we go, whispering "you just never know what might happen..."  We shush him out of our heads, we push the thought away, we blink really hard to not see or hear, but he's there, quietly standing by  - he's the shadow of doubt, fear and insecurity about the world we now live in.  I try to fight him with joy and laughter.  I try to arm myself with humor and positivity, love and light, however I can.  It's the only way. 
 I look in the beaming faces of my hopeful children and know I have to be strong, upbeat and positive to give them the type of carefree childhood that I was blessed with.  I know I have to bravely take them to school on Monday and drop them off while stifling my tears and my fears of the unknown.  I have to pass along a false confidence in the system, in life, in our world, in God, in whomever, in whatever so that they never have to fear living their young lives.  I hate that their innocence is always being compromised and that the value of life and the precious gifts we are given has not the weight it once did.  I will pretend, however, that it does.  I will use my best acting skills to show that I am not afraid.  I will draw strength from everywhere I can to surround these kids with as much normalcy, happiness, and innocence and they should have.  I will live.  And I will teach my children to live...both with passion and compassion, with humility and with humor, with courage and with optimism, so that they can always look back and say, I did it all to the fullest.
I took this photo this morning because the bare Weeping Willow, much like most of us after yesterday, had no more tears to cry into the stillness of the lake below it; and yet the sun came out again to offer warmth and comfort to its bare and tired arms...offering the hope of a new day.
 I know so many people are barely holding on as it is, that something like yesterday is like the gentle breeze that knocks them over because they were too weak to fight off any more bad.  For those people, my heart breaks, because it is so hard to get back up again.  We all need love, kindness, hope, a quiet courage, and a belief in the greater good to put one foot in front of the other and march forward in life.  To those people, I extend my hand in peace and love in hopes that they can let me gently pull them up and help them move forward to find the beauty in another day, for there is always hope that today will be good, peaceful, easy and light.  We can always hope...should we choose to.
Thank you for reading, as always..I appreciate each and every one of you.
Until next time...
I will continue to believe that good will prevail.
I will continue to find joy in the simple things.
I will continue to make my immediate surroundings happy, peaceful and positive.
I will not cry over spilled milk.
I will not expect or demand perfection.
I will not allow fear of the unknown to paralyze or own me.
I will not allow evil to prevail.
I will put one foot in front of the other...and move forward with hope, appreciation, and perspective.
One final word, from the Christmas song, Do You Hear What I Hear?
Pray for peace ...people everywhere

Wishing you Love and Light, and Laughter again soon,



The 12 Days of (A Practical) Christmas...

When I first thought about doing this blog about practical vs impractical Christmas gifts, it was after seeing a Lexus holiday commercial.  Every year, I see those commercials and I'm like...who does that?  I'm not jealous (ohh ok, just a tiny bit) - I'm perplexed.  I guess since I don't have the money required to buy my husband a Buick let alone a Lexus, I don't 'get' it.  How would you ever top that?  Would you have to buy them a second home in Florida the following year? And then what? A yacht?  We'd never be able to keep topping it...unless of course we had bazillions - then each year could be a little crazier.  Awww honey, you bought us 2 tickets to the moon!  You shouldn't have!  Don't get me wrong, I would lovvve to be able to buy anything I wanted at Christmas time but maybe I'm just more practical than that..I mean I see the Lexus commercial and right away start thinking, what about the registration fee? Did he pay for that? Taxes are going to be a bitch on a new Lexus - wonder if he covered those, too?  What does he think he's getting?  What in the world did she get him - did she have an idea of what he was getting her?  I mean was her Escalade acting up or something - or maybe this is in addition to the Escalade? Where does one go to get a bow that big? Do Lexus dealerships offer free gigantic red bows  for each car bought in December?  So when I hear "December to Remember" on the Lexus commercial I think, it would be the December I would remember as my husband saying, "what the hellll is wrong with you - we can't afford a Lexus!"  and taking the drive of shame back to the dealership.

Thanks for getting me a Lexus!  I feel like an idiot because all I got you was a toolbox from Sears. (Check out the ribbon - that thing is crazy!)

Anyhow...speaking of December to Remember.  Today is 12--12--12!  You can't think of December 12th without singing the 12 days of Christmas, right?  We're on official countdown to Christmas - no panicking...STAY CALM and have a cup of eggnog!  I hear this song playing on the radio and I scratch my head and wonder - were things really that different so many years ago that any of these gifts would've been appropriate to receive?   Because, in all honesty, not even back then would I have wanted random feathered friends all over my house adding to the endless list of chores I already can't keep up with.

Taking care various birds and cattle is  NOT on the list.

Maybe it's my OCD kicking in here, but the thought of so much clutter being delivered to my house during the holidays makes me twitchy.  I mean, look, I get that the girl singing the song is excited about getting so many presents for 12 straight days, but after a while, she just sounds braggy and spoiled.  And what about this "true love" sending her these gifts.  He seems so shady.  Why can't he just buy her one lovely gift and give it to her on Christmas morning like the rest of the men out there.  Why isn't he at the mall stressing out because he waited until Christmas Eve like all of the other husbands and gentlemen callers out there?  Seems to me he's either overcompensating for something or he's really trying to show off - which only means that topping these 12 days of gifts each year will end up causing him even more stress and possibly encouraging an early death due to the overwhelming pressure of keeping his true love happy.  He's totally setting himself up for failure with this high level of gift giving.  I thought maybe I'd give the 2012 male gift giver, wanting to try the 12 days of gift giving with his true love, a more realistic and appreciated list of modern day gifts.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree
No.  Keep the partridge.  But a pear tree is always nice.  Try heading to a local nursery, buying a nice Pear tree that she can enjoy eating the fruit from and watching it, along with your love, grow.  Trees are expensive so this should be both an appreciated and practical gift.

2 Turtle Doves
The turtle dove is also known as a Carolina Pigeon.  She doesn't want doves OR pigeons for that matter.  These two birds would make more of a mess and poop more than she could ever imagine.  If you don't want to have her screaming at you over the stress the birds are causing, you'd be better off making her 2 dozen Turtles made with Dove chocolates. The combination of crunchy pecans, soft caramel and smooth Dove chocolate is impossible to resist.   She'll love a man that can whip up a batch of these. 

3 French Hens 
What is she going to do with nasty French chickens clucking around her yard? If you are going to buy her French anything, try 3 loves of French bread, accompanied by a delicious pasta dinner so she doesn't have to cook.  Now you're getting the picture!

4 Calling Birds
If the lady in your life is busy, and chances are, she is, her phone is ringing off the hook with customers, friends, and family calling her all day so the last thing she needs are 4 calling birds.  The best Songbird you can get her today, is the CD by Eva Cassidy.  She will get hours of enjoyment out of the soft sounds of Eva's angelic voice.

If you've never heard of Eva Cassidy, you are in for a treat.  Songbird, the song, is featured in the Fifty Shades of Gray Trilogy and the awesome Christmas movie, Love Actually.  There is not one bad song on this entire album.

5  Golden Rings
Why was he giving her 5 golden rings to begin with? Where was all of this money coming from?  Wasn't one golden ring enough or was he making an exception due to his wandering eye and felt guilty and needed to make up for it with extra rings.  Unless she's an athlete at the winter Olympics, she doesn't need or want 5 Gold rings.  Instead, why not try 5 bracelet bangles.  They don't have to be gold - they come in all kinds of colors and girls like to wear them to accessorize an outfit when they go out.  They sparkle and shine and she will love them, I promise.

6 Geese a Laying No NO NOOO!  Have you seen how many geese-are-laying outside her door already?  They are a nuisance and you will gain yourself a ticket to singleville if you show up with 6 of these!  Instead, try a 680 thread count Goose-Down comforter to keep your true love warm when you are not with her.

7 Swans a Swimming  They may be beautiful, but no woman wants these  fierce tempered honkers for Christmas.   Perhaps 7 tickets to see Swan Lake with 6 of her closest friends would make her happier?

8 Maids a Milking  Milking what? Cows?  Her home is not zoned for livestock so back the truck up and get the Bovine Express out of there!  But you were right on with the 8 Maids part.  Who doesn't want 8 maids to come to their home once a week to get the house in tip-top shape in just one hour.  You got it - 8 maids, one day a week, one hour and done.  Now THAT's a gift.

I'm not kidding when I say to me, this is the BEST. GIFT. EVER.

9 Ladies Dancing  Only a man could come up with this one.  Why would your lady want NINE ladies at her house dancing? Unless you are planning on taking her to the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular, I'm willing to bet she's not going to be happy. That just has awkward written all over it.  Here's an idea, give her a 9 West gift card to go buy herself some new dancing shoes.

10 Lords a Leaping  No.  She doesn't want Michael Flatley performing an Irish musical on her good hardwood floors.  How about this. 10 Landscapers Landscaping.  You could set her up with all year round landscaping services - from snow removal to leaf cleanup to lawn mowing.  Boom.  You're back on the good list just like that.

Lords -a -Leaping?  No.  and No.

11 Pipers Piping - The thought of 11 pipers at her doorstep playing ear piercing Christmas carols like grade schoolers playing their  recorders could you get you a breakup.  And speaking of Piping?  Those cut-out cookies aren't going to pipe themselves.  Why don't you offer to help her frost and pipe icing into those 3 dozen cut out cookies she's slaving over?

12 Drummers Drumming So unless you plan on having the 12 most famous drummers of all time show up at her door, I'm going to say don't do this.  The holidays are stressful enough without all of the excess noise.  If you are going to send a dozen of anything at this point in the game, try a dozen gift cards to her favorite stores.

No Lars? No Tommy Lee?  No Admittance.

Well - that's all for now, loves.  We're going to be straight out holiday from here till Christmas!  Hope everyone is staying sane, merry and bright.

Love and Light ...sprinkled with Holiday Cheers and Giggles,


DG's 5 Blogging Commandments

Blogging is like Parenting:  The only thing I know for sure is that I don't know much...only what worked for me.!
I've gotten many emails with requests for advice or help with a new blog or existing blog that is having trouble.  Though I still do not believe I have any business offering anyone any advice at all, I will play along with this false sense of importance and finally get these rules I live by in the blog world down to share with you.  Make no mistake, there is no magic formula to make you an overnight star.  It takes a nice combination of time, effort, imagination, and skill to build a little corner for yourself in the Blogosphere - but I can tell you this.  It is fun, rewarding, and a nice little thing to call your own in this crazy world!
I am kind of a big deal compared to...well, compared to my mailman I guess...depends on if I'm waiting on a package - so even then he's a bigger deal than I am.  But I digress...
 There is one line that I tell everyone and anyone who asks me this.  If you water it daily, it will grow.  That's it.  That's my one thing I swear by.  Give it attention and love daily, and watch it grow.  There are 5 other basic rules to blog by that I will share with you here.  So without further blather, here are DG's 5 Blog Commandments.   They have worked for me  - maybe they don't apply to everyone - but I swear by them.  SO here goes:

1.  Just Be You.  This is my number one rule for a reason.  The first few blogs you write will take some getting used to.  You have to be the one to tell the story.  So think of yourself sitting down at a cafe with your bestie and telling her a story.  Take those thoughts just as you would say them and type them into your blog.  You'll see how quickly the words start to flow.  Don't try to 'sound' different or use language that you wouldn't normally use with your bestie.  (And I know this is incredibly obvious but I have to say it - Be Original! Yes, it's all been done before - we've all written stories about our kids, and our weddings, and our holidays, etc. etc... but don't steal content from others - it's not worth it.  Be true and honest with yourself and your readers and write from your head and your heart and you won't go wrong).   You'll see that if you are true to yourself, and write stories that you would normally just tell a friend, that your natural voice will shine through and people will relate to it. Which brings me to number 2, ironically enough.
2.  Not everyone is going to relate.  And that's ok.  You are not going to strike a chord with 100% of your readers, 100% of the time, so don't even try.  Most likely, however, your post will be relatable to many people.  Depending on the type of blog you write, you may offend someone with language or content, but that's the risk you take when you put yourself out there.  Which brings me to rule #3. 
3.  Be prepared for critics, and always wear your blogger suit of armor.  You should know that there is always 1% of the crowd that just likes to disagree, be on the contrary end of what you are posting, give their opinion on why your post is incorrect.  It's going to happen.  If you say, Today I painted my son's room green.  I love green. It's fabulous and it's fun.   As harmless of a statement and unassuming, and non-offensive as it is, you just might have that one person who is having a crappy day and decide to take it on you and leave a comment like, "how do you figure green is fabulous - it's dreary and creepy and I hate it."  A comment like that, though overall just plain old stupid, can send you from the high you were on of publishing a really good blog, to a low that has you thinking you aren't cut out for it.  Don't think that.  And don't think for a minute that it doesn't happen to everyone because it does.  1% of people are born without a sense of humor, or the ability to simply not continue reading if it isn't their cup of tea.  Tragic.  Just move on.  (or use your comment moderation power and don't publish it!! It's your blog..your house..your rules).  You've got to let stuff roll off your back - you're going to have comments that don't give a warm and fuzzy.  Let it roll.
And some days - even that won't do it.  We're only human.
4.  Pay no attention to the numbers behind the curtain.  If you constantly obsess about how many readers, how many page views, how many comments you've gotten, you will never find the joy in blogging.  Most of us bloggers know and understand we are not going to become rich quick by this hobby.  (And if you are making lots of money off of blogging, good on you !)  So stay true, don't try so hard that it hurts or is a chore to blog.  Blog about what makes you happy, and what you know - and if you've got nothing of substance today, that's ok too.  It'll come.  Taking the pressure off of yourself can work wonders, but keep writing to keep the juices flowing - you don't have to publish - you can leave as draft.  Just keep writing. (Sidenote - - do keep a notebook by your bed because your best ideas will come to you at about 1:00 am and by 7:00, they will be write them down!!)

5.  Finally.  And to me, this has gotten me the furthest.  The Golden Rule applies to Blogging.  Be kind to others.  Treat people the way you want to be treated.  Whether it is a fellow blogger who put themself out there with a really personal post that you leave some positive feedback on, or a commenter who reached out to you with a touching comment - acknowledge them.  It doesn't take but 30 seconds to say thank you or  I appreciate your words.  Or even just a heart symbol to let them know you read it.  There's a lot of what ye sow shall ye reap in the blogging world.  Be a positive force and positivity will come back to you tenfold.

That's it for me.  If you've read this far, I appreciate you coming to visit, and hope you find this helpful.   One thing that always helps me when I started doubting myself, is knowing that even the most successful writers panic when they hit the 'publish' button.  It always brings be back to Maya Angelou's quote below and I think yeahh...that little voice that tells you that you're nothing but an imposter...kick him in the shin and run as fast as you can.

Cheers, love and happy blogging..!
PS - - Lots of people are like in me in that they LOVE finding new blogs to read and enjoy.  Please take a minute to leave your blog along with the link to your blog in my comments section. Thanks!


Hello My Name is DG, and I've Never Been Invited to a Cookie Exchange.

This is me at a Cut-Out Cookie Class.  See, I know more than just Greek cookies.  Please can I come to your Cookie Exchange??   I'll do the work...I'm not a slacker!  And I swear I won't bring Baklava.

(Ever so tiny disclaimer:  This is just a fun story about Greek women, of whom I am one. I am certain this scenario is not limited to Greeks but to many walks of life.  I am Greek - and I am proud to have these stories to tell..we are passionate, what can I say.  Love and Light, people, Love and Light - oh - and let's get to the story..)

Hello My Name is DG, and I've Never Been Invited to a Cookie Exchange....

All of you, together now.  HIIIII DGeeeeeeeee.

You're shocked aren't you?  Shaking your head?  Feeling sorry for me?  I know, it's sad.  Never.  Never in my life have I been invited to a cookie exchange.  And if I was, I would've done it all wrong - this I can guarantee you.  Why?  Because I am Greek. That's why.

Greek women could never handle a cookie exchange because they are too busy trying to make their own cookie platters - and these platters have to be bigger and better and have more of an assortment than any other Greek woman on the block.  They will literally slave in the kitchen for days - no - weeks baking dozens and dozens of cookies.  These cookies must be baked by that particular Greek woman, all by herself, because what Greek cookie platter has ever been made without the 3 key ingredients of Butter, Nuts, and GUILT.  Every single cookie must be handmade, rolled by the overworked, strained fingers of a Greek woman.  We are born to overachieve during the holidays.  Friends, coworkers, neighbors - they all wait for the holidays to arrive so that they can indulge in Greek cookie platters.

I remember when I first got hired at the bank I worked for.  My boss was taking me around the floor introducing me - painfully attempting to pronounce every syllable of my 6-syllable, 75- points- in -Scrabble, last name.  Once she got it out, she'd add those two words.  She's Greek.  Just a little tidbit of info for everyone to digest.  One of the men didn't wait 10 seconds after hearing those words before saying, "well then, we should expect Baklava at Christmas time!"  I was used to this.  Ever since I was a little girl, Christmas cookie platters have been part of the holiday ritual.  Platters for my dad's work office, my teachers, neighbors, etc. etc.  I (along with all of my best Greek girlfriends) grew up with my mother and grandmothers making everyone and their brother a cookie platter.  They came to expect them.  We don't know any other way to function during the holidays.

Back to the cookie exchange.  Let's just say, for giggles, that a Greek woman hosts a Cookie Exchange and invites a dozen other Greek ladies.  Here's how I predict it would go down.

~No one would follow the "Bring 2 dozen of the same cookie" rule.  They would come in with 4 dozen and say "ohh, I just thought I'd bring more in case we needed extra.."  We are taught at a young age to cook every meal as if the entire family might just 'drop by.'   One thing you'll never hear at the Greek dinner table is "does anyone want the last   fill in food item here. ?" No.  We have so much leftover that we can make to go boxes for everyone at the table.

~No one would "Make the Display card to describe the cookie" correctly.  Not to mention there would be 100 of the exact same cookie, made 20 different ways and everyone would try to compete as to why their family's recipe is the best, and why it's the proper shape and size compared to others.

~No one, not one, no one would follow the "Make a recipe card for other guests to take home with them to try."  Greek women are notorious for 'accidentally' leaving out ingredients of recipes they are asked for.  Many don't even have them written down - it's all ((makes motion of pointing slyly with pointer finger to temple)) up here.  My Yia Yia uses the exact same tea cup that she's had for YEARS to measure a cup.  She uses a 'pinch' here and a (cup your hand carefully) handful of this and that.  What kind of measuring system IS that?  I am destined to fail while trying to re-create her masterpieces!

Much like that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond commonly referred to as "Marie's Meatballs"  Debra gets cooking lessons with Marie, but Marie sabotages Debra's cooking so Raymond will still come over to her house.   I am most certain that Greek women would try to sabotage each other by leaving a key ingredient out of their beloved cookie recipe.

~No one would want to box up and take home their cookies.  Greeks like HUGE flat round platters and use baking cups for everything.  Martha Stewart can keep her clear window-ed  boxes and curling ribbon.  No.  Every cookie is sacred and needs to be clearly visible and appreciated on the tray.

~Greek Cookies are a hazard at parties.  Between Kourambiedes (Butter cookies coated and drowning in powdered sugar) being a huge choking hazard, (have you ever accidentally inhaled while eating one of these?  Near-death by accidental inhalation of absurd amounts of powdered sugar), Diabetes-inducing Baklava which is basically sugar and walnuts in filo dough swimming in syrup, and most of the other pastries involve more butter and eggs than any one human should consume in one year let alone one sitting. People must use extreme caution when eating these treats.  What about the chance of a nut allergy?  Oh Lord.  I can't even bear the thought of someone - anyone - with a nut allergy at one of these parties.  It's almost inconceivable to a Greek woman to have to allow for allergens.

~Judging the "best cookie" might end up on the front page of a newspaper.  I would have to assume that if a 'best cookie' contest went on at a Greek Cookie exchange, someone would throwdown, accuse someone of stealing their Yia Yia's recipe, or - even worse - having their Yia Yia secretly make the cookies they brought to the party *GASP*  (Sidenote:  I am fortunate to still  have my 2 Yia Yias - both of them in their late 80s, both of them still baking like maniacs during the holidays).  I would probably drop a hint or two to each of them that I needed seven dozen cookies for a cookie exchange and they would gladly step up to the plate and say "I'll have them for you, lined in silver baking cups and packaged by the end of the day for pick up.."   Do you think I'm kidding you?  I'm not.  They. Are. Soldiers.  Those two  - - those two are the reason I was 30 lbs overweight the first 20 years of my life.  I might as well have eaten an entire stick of butter for breakfast my entire elementary school career.  But I'm getting off topic, aren't I?  Anyhow, I was saying - I probably would've enlisted those two to hook a busy girl up with a few dozen brilliantly baked cookies if I had to go to an exchange.  Hey look, you're supposed to bring your A game cookies to those things - I don't have time for A game right now ok - I'm more like a Benchwarmer if you know what I mean.

~No one would follow the "this is the cookie I'm bringing" rule.  If you are supposed to email or call the Hostess with a heads up for what you are bringing so there aren't too many duplicates, this would go terribly wrong at a Greek cookie exchange. Here's the conversation that would occur: (be sure to read in heavy Greek accent for added effect)

Maria:  Alllo?
Helen:  "Allo Maria...about da cookie change I gonna bring a nice tray of Melomakarona"
Maria:  "No good, Helen...Sophie already gonna bring Melomakarona."  "Bring a nice Fengarakia instead.."
Helen:  "SOPHIE gonna bring Melomakarona?  Have you tasted her Melomakarona? They too dry. She make a nice Ravani though - tell her she gonna make Ravani.  I gonna make da Melomakarona - everybody love them every time."
Maria:  "Po po poooo you gonna make me call Sophie and tell her? She no gonna come, she gonna get mad and she gonna tell her sister Athena what you said.  And SHE no gonna be happy. And if Athena no happy, nobody gonna be happy."
Helen:  "Fine Fine Fine.  I bring the Fengarakia - let Sophie bring da dry Melomakarona and everybody gonna say is too dry."

SO you see?  THIS is how the drama starts.  Everyone judging each other's cookies.  Too dry, too much syrup, walnuts not fine enough, cookies rolled out too big, too small.  We are the worst critics. Ever.

So I will continue on the tradition of trying to get at least 3 different kinds of Greek cookies on a doilie-clad platter to drop off at school, work, doctor's offices, accountants, hairdressers, neighbor's homes,  Priest's houses, friends, Romans, and Countrymen - and everyone I can think of in between.

It's what we do.

Cheers and Love to whatever you and your family call holiday traditions.  And next time you go to a Cookie Exchange, think of me, alone at home, staring at the snow falling through the window.