Things My Mom Was Right About (Besides Everything): Part 1

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My mom came to visit last week. With the help of lots of bourbon, tequila, and grits, two Southerners managed to survive the Arctic blizzard that rolled through—well, Mom didn’t get away without catching a pretty bad case of bronchitis and a lungful of black smoke from the accidental almost-fire I set to the chimney, but hey—things could always be worse up North. Way, way worse. We do boast the harboring of the Yeti up here, after all.

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My mom’s visit prompted me to write up a top 15 list of her oh-so-wise lifetime of advice. I’ve been far away from home in this Great White Arctic for two years now and I don’t think I’ve ever really understood and come to appreciate my mother’s (sometimes absolutely crazy-sounding) foreboding phrases more than I do now. I cannot even count how many times I find myself muttering “Now I understand why my mom did [insert motherly genius-ness here].”

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Top 15 Things I Took From My Mama’s Wisdom Bank With Me To The Arctic

1.)    “Be grateful for your eyebrows.” Maybe this sounds like a weird way to start off this list, but hear me out. I grew up with a mom who had no eyebrows. None. I’m serious. I watched her meticulously create eyebrows on her face every single day of my life and she did it perfectly. So, I listened to my mother and never drastically changed these brows, embracing the fact that I had them at all. And now that I’m up in the Artic, they kind of serve as miniature face scarves, so that’s a plus…

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2.)    “When you have a sore throat, just drink whiskey.”

3.)    “When you have a stuffy nose, just drink whiskey.”

4.)    “When you have a full-blown flu cold, just drink whiskey.”

5.)    “When it’s 1:13 p.m. on a Tuesday, just drink whiskey.” (You get the picture. It’s always whiskey ‘o’ clock somewhere…)

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6.)    “Let’s go to Key West!” (Always cures the winter blues or any other serious ailment. And Key West never runs out of whiskey.)

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7.)    “If you would have done it the way I told you to in the beginning, you wouldn’t have this problem now.” Oh, God, in so many ways was she right about this…

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8.)    “Do you want me to make you some grits and/or a grilled cheese sandwich?” Always say yes. Always.

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9.)    “Never be without good lipstick.” Not for the pretty factor—it’s so that I don’t chew my lips off as they peel disgustingly away during the Arctic winter.

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10.)  “Let me teach you this card game…” I found this insufferable when I was younger that my mom always wanted to teach me some new card game to play. Now, the fact that I know probably almost all card games ever invented serves as extremely helpful when the Arctic snow knocks the internet out and interrupts a Netflix binge. (Mom, you still know more card games than I ever will. But I’m damn good at Old Maid.)

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11.) “Always wear good underwear in case you get hit by a car.” Which has a high percentage of happening in the Arctic where people tend to think they can drive. On ice. In a Prius.

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12.) “Come snuggle with me.” I have never been a super affectionate person, so I rarely would snuggle with my mom when she asked. Now that I’m all growed up and so far from home, I wish I would have taken advantage of snuggle requests—because now I miss my mom’s daily affection more than ever.

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13.) “Don’t sit that close to the TV, you’ll go blind.” SHE WAS RIGHT! It happened. And I’m really bad at putting in contact lenses. It never takes less than an hour…

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14.)  “You can hold it.” Oh, we all know this one. Long family road trip in the minivan, whining to pee every ten minutes. The woman who bore you gives you the Mom Look and utters that phrase. Without her refusing to stop at 27 gas stations on the way from Atlanta to Savannah, I wouldn’t be able to hold my pee for, say, two days at a time when it’s Ice-Skating-To-Hell kind of freezing up in the Artic and you’re afraid if you drop your pants, you’ll get frostbite.

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15.)  “Always remember that no one ever has to get you anything.” I’m pretty sure she was talking about gifts, but this phrase that my mother said billions of times to us growing up has taken on a different meaning for me now. I live in a place where the winters are not only brutal, but they last 6-8 months. So, when a miracle happens like today and we get a 40 degree heat wave and two hours of sunshine, I am ready to send Mother Nature a gold-embossed Thank You card.

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While there are sooo many more than just those tidbits, I’ll save it for another day—I wouldn’t want your head to explode from so much wisdom.

Thanks, Mom. Miss you already.

Respect the Val!

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Valentine’s Day was a few days ago.

You know I have to blurb a bit about this day of passion and romance, don’t you?

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Believe it or not, I’ve always been a Valentine’s Day advocate, even for most of my life when I wasn’t particularly ever in love with anyone besides Freddie Prinze, Jr. Yes, it’s a holiday for lovers, but it’s also a holiday to celebrate the romance and passion in everything—not just “In A Relationship With” on Facebook. It’s also another undeniable excuse to celebrate and party heartily in the name of a “holiday”. (Why, yes I do even have a little par-tay on an obscure day such as Columbus Day–what of it!) I have a rant all ready for you, but first, I want to introduce you to St. Valentine—the reason for this season of love.

There was a time in history when the world was ruled by giant jerks (Hard to believe, right?) and one of these jerks in particular decided he was going to outlaw marriage (again, hard to believe!!! [sarcasm begins to shoot off the charts…]) This jerk’s name was Emperor Claudius II and he didn’t outlaw marriage for everyone—just for the soldiers fighting for him. He thought love and marriage would be too big of a distraction for his soldiers as they continued to battle for him. (Do I even have to note that segregating certain people out from being able to marry the love of his/her life is not an okay thing?)

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So, in comes St. Valentine. Ol’ Val used to be a doctor, but then he became a Christian priest. This in itself was crazy because he lived in a time in this world in which most everyone else believed in multiple gods instead of just the one Valentine believed in. Val didn’t agree with this outlaw of marriage, so Val began to secretly perform marriages for the soldiers. Eventually, Val got busted, and the Emperor Claudius II threw Val in jail. But Val didn’t save his love and passion just for marrying people—even in jail, Val performed some seriously romantic miracles.

Valentine befriended nearly everyone in jail—even his own jailer—and he passionately told stories of his unconditional devotion to his faith and beliefs, even when the rest of the world seemed to be against him. Valentine’s jailer had a blind daughter, Julia, and eventually the jailer came to trust Valentine so much, that he asked if Valentine would read stories to Julia from books and teach her the ways of the world that she could not see. The jailer’s daughter and Val allegedly formed a friendship and further secret romance while Val read to her. There is even legend that Julia was cured of her blindness towards the end of Valentine’s stint in jail.

The emperor Claudius II actually really liked Valentine, so he offered a literal get out of jail free card for Valentine if he would renounce his faith and start believing in what everyone else did. Valentine refused, so sadly, he was put to death. Before his execution on February 14th, 270 A.D., Valentine wrote a letter to Julia, thanking her for her friendship and love, and he signed his letter “From Your Valentine”.

I bet you 9 out of 10 people really agree when they hear “Oh, Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark holiday.” But isn’t that true of every holiday we have come to celebrate? Like our other days of celebration, Valentine’s Day has just as much of a solid basis for where it comes from than any.

And while I can appreciate the mottos we hear about “Happy Singles’ Awareness Day!” and “Stupid Cupid!”, I can’t say I agree with any negative connotation that goes along with it. Valentine’s Day is a happy day! It’s a day of passion, of romance, of love for whatever we choose! I love the hell out of my husband now and I do celebrate that love for him on Valentine’s Day, but there are other passions and romance that fill my heart that I also celebrate. (Yes, Netflix and moscato DO count as a Valentine!)

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Before I had any significant other in my life, I still was just as excited about celebrating Valentine’s Day! Maybe it was a year to celebrate with a full heart with my girlfriends, or reading the newest HP book, or watching old videos of my parents’ wedding. Hell, there were some years I was excited to celebrate myself with Boone’s Farm and a Backstreet Boys in Concert Special on VHS.

St. Valentine was a man who was an advocate for love—not just when it comes to marriage or relationships. He represented love and passion and romance for human rights, for his faith, for keeping a kind heart, and to pour that love into all things—even when he was in the darkness of prison.

So, I challenge those of you who hate Valentine’s Day—for whatever your reasons—to see it in a new, rosier light next year. Not as a holiday for companions or candlelit kisses, but for a day to indulge in our lovely, wonderful, and often times cheesy and ridiculous passions. We live in a world now where we are not necessarily persecuted for these simple things as St. Valentine was so long ago. Let’s honor Val’s legacy to the fullest just this one day out of the year.

Let the jovial sound of chocolate wrappers ensue.

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