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This Christmas is shaping UP to be the second worst Christmas of my life.

The first was 2003.  Eight weeks out of open-heart surgery, with a swollen leg from the removal of veins, we drove to Florida for our annual trek to the in-laws.

We arrived to find my sister-in-law at death’s door from breast cancer.

TLW, her mom and dad, and her other sister along with the brother-in-law were at the hospital 24/7 while I was home riding herd from the sofa on 8 kids ranging from 8-18, two of whom were about to lose their mother.

No lights on the tree, no presents wrapped, and the kids questioning when we were going to decorate and start cooking.

Can’t you just hear the jingle bells?

Christmas Day arrived to me sitting on a stool by the stove with the bad leg propped UP, while I was cooking chili, guarding the phone, and providing evasive answers to queries about when everyone else would be home.

My wonderful sister-in-law passed on the day after Christmas ten years ago.

I’m quite sure no other bad Christmas could one UP it.

But like I said, this year, is shaping UP to be a close second.

First, the flood.  The house is still a wreck.  Maneuvering the obstacle course I’m calling the kitchen is far from easy.  The counters are cluttered with stuff from the cabinets, there’s a dehumidifier in the middle of the room inches away from the fridge, which is also in the middle of the room, Grandma’s antique kitchen table is piled high with more stuff from more cabinets, and the whirring sound you’re hearing is her spinning in her grave!

The family room is a mine field, the tree has lights and a few candy canes, but I’m in no mood to decorate any further, and the very thought of dragging one more thing out of one more closet to put on the tree is exhausting.

The drying fans and dehumidifiers are so loud, the only way one can hear the TV is with the volume UP to 68.

People down in Oakwood Cemetery are calling to complain!

Things are so crazy, the cat won’t even come out to play!

It’s chaos!

Christmas Chaos

And to add insult to injury, the insurance adjuster’s quote is insultingly low.

It seems we will have live like white trash for a few years until I’m able to sell a kidney to raise some funds!  It’s either that our replace the carpet and tile with straw mats and live like hippies!

Fa la la la la! La la la la!

On the UP side, my shopping’s done, my cards are mailed, and I made it through the office holiday celebration in one piece.

So, I’ll say Merry Christmas at this start of Christmas week, and leave you with a little Christmas gift.

My never fail chili recipe.

UP’s Never Fail Chili


2 lbs ground beef (yes, you can use Turkey!)
1 medium onion, chopped (about a cup – but I no longer measure)
1 cup green pepper…chopped
1 cup celery…about two sticks…OK, the celery is muy importante…don’t leave it out.
2 15 and 1/2 oz. cans of RED kidney beans
2 16 oz cans tomatoes, cut up…you can food process them if you want…just not too long.
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic…use a press…mincing is messy and smelly
1 to 1 and 1/2 tablespoons chili powder…for those of you in Texas, feel free to add more!
2 teaspoons salt…if you’re sodium free…leave it out

Cook beef, onion, green pepper, celery, until the meat is cooked and the veggies are tender.

Add beans…you can drain them, but I don’t…if you do, save the liquid…you might need it.

add everything else..cover and let simmer for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.

Serve anyway you like it!

Cincinnati style
Over spaghetti
or Five way.

It’s your choice.

Believe me…they’ll love it.

and…If you have a big crowd coming for Christmas, you can make it for a cast of thousands. this recipe makes about ten servings, just double it or triple it and keep on going. I once made it for 70 people.

Have a great Monday.

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