*This story is a satirical piece based on the real life events of Kerry McKim. This written work is meant to be humorous. This story is not affiliated in any way with the Hallmark Channel though some may argue that it should be. Currently there are no plans to be affiliated with the Hallmark Channel…yet.
While the shopping began weeks ago, this years Christmas Story began last weekend. I was home visiting my parents and I decided that it was going to be the day where I get to live in a Hallmark movie.
All the enlightened guru’s say that we create our own realities. Let’s face it, I am bouncing back from a shitty period of my life. I always feel good when I watch Hallmark movies so why not make it my reality.
I have a lot going for me. Let’s look at the facts.
I am a widow ✔
I have a cute kid ✔
I was in my hometown, which is a small coastal Maine town ✔
It’s Christmastime ✔
Now I just to need find one of these single, good looking, successful, emotionally available middle aged men that seem to be wandering around Small Town America.
The “emotionally available” part if very important. I know a lot of these Hallmark Christmas Men have chips on their shoulders. I can handle that. But he needs to be emotionally available. I am the widow who needs someone to show me that love still does exist and it is all around.
I will note that I did have a few things working against me-
❌ I was not there to save the Christmas parade. It seems like I was not needed. The Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce seems to be handing it just fine.
❌ I was not here to save the family business. There is no family business. Unless you count the postal service and I don’t have have the super powers of Candice Cameron Bure or Lacey Chabert to go against that bureaucracy.
❌ I came to realize that nothing needed to be saved. My family home is safe and we don’t have a family farm to save.
❌ I don’t own a vintage red pickup truck. I own a red Subaru Forester and a blue pickup and my father has a new red pickup truck. But no vintage red pickup truck. This is problematic because in addition to the cuteness factor of an old red pickup truck, many Hallmark movies involve a Hallmark Christmas Man rescuing a damsel in distress due to her unreliable vehicle. My late husband made sure I had the safest winter car there is and I have been maintaining the vehicle. Hallmark Christmas Man will have to find another way to help me.
❌ I also don’t have a high school ex-boyfriend. I wasn’t cool enough or pretty enough I guess.
(I really need to get over this emotional block considering I am in my 40s now).
Since I didn’t need to save a business, a home, a farm or Christmas in general, I decided to go to the local Christmas parade.
I got to town about a half an hour before the parade. My daughter is in that phase where any unit of time that isn’t “right now” is “a very long time” so I didn’t want to be standing there waiting.
I was worried about parking. I was having trouble locating a spot and then I see a man directing cars into a Baptist church parking lot. I was excited. I did not attend that church when I lived there because I am Catholic but I had cash in my pocket and my adopted New York ways just assumed I would to pay to park anyway. I tried to hand the attendant some money and he seemed surprised and he declined the cash. He did invite us to cookies and hot chocolate at the church after the parade.
Cookies and hot chocolate at a small town church did seem like something that would happen in a Hallmark Christmas movie. But I am still mad at God and I didn’t want my Hallmark Christmas movie to be one where I find God. Especially if that meant that I would have to convert to another form of Christianity to meet my Hallmark Christmas Man.
My Hallmark Christmas Man is going to have to accept my “It’s Complicated” relationship status with Catholicism
I knew that my Hallmark Christmas Man could have been there eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate but I was willing to take that risk.
I went looking for a friend of mine. She was convinced Hallmark Christmas Man and I were going to go after the same piece of candy that was thrown at the crowds. Our eyes were going to meet. I was going to blush. He was going to say “I haven’t seen you around here before.”
Though that moment never happened. Turns out my daughter is perfectly able to fend for herself when it comes to candy.
As I was looking for my local friend, I saw an old friend of mine. She lives in Florida and I hadn’t seen her in about fifteen years. We had lost contact. She was in town because her father had passed away. She has been on my mind a lot lately and I do believe we were meant to bump into each other. I gave her my contact information and I do hope I hear from her.
I finally found my local friend right before the parade started.
My Dad was in the beginning.
My daughter on the lookout for candy.
I thought I was smart because I grabbed a plastic grocery store bag to hold candy. Turns out it had a hole. Luckily there was enough freebies like a local newspaper and frisbees that I was able to plug up the hole and still be able to use the bag for candy.
There were lots of floats from the community.
I told you, the parade didn’t need saving.
Since my father was at the beginning of the parade, he was able to make it back before the end of the parade.
Santa! I know him!
After the parade, I took my daughter to the office of the local newspaper, The Ellsworth American because they give each kid a book. They had tables set up by age group and each kid could choose a book. My daughter chose a Snoopy book because her teacher likes Snoopy.
It is worth noting that the local newspaper didn’t need me to save it (though it did just get bought out by the Portland Press Herald) and Hallmark Christmas Man was not there.
My daughter had to use the bathroom so we stopped at the VFW Post that my father belongs to so we could use the facilities. My daughter was hungry so my father and the other VFW members invited us to crash the cub scout pizza party they were hosting.
I felt a little awkward but my daughter made friends with the kids and I saw a few old friends of mine. It was great to catch up.
Hallmark Christmas Man was not at the pizza party. But my father, my daughter and I headed up to the Christmas Tree lot to look for the Perfect Sullivan Family Christmas Tree.
And maybe Hallmark Christmas Man would be there. Maybe we would both pick out the same Christmas Tree and fight over it. That seems to happen a lot.
That didn’t happen.
My father picked out the Christmas Tree, not me. And there was no Hallmark Christmas Man fighting with my Dad for the tree.
I will say, it was nice to pick out the Sullivan Family Christmas Tree with my father. (Think of these as flashback sequences in my Half-Assed Hallmark Christmas).
The first reason was because we always had an artificial Christmas Tree growing up but my Sullivan grandparents always had a real tree. My father would tell stories of going to every Christmas tree lot in town with his father (my grandfather). Apparently my grandfather was very particular about his Christmas Trees. Though I have memories from some Christmases of my childhood and I remember those trees.
I could tell my father enjoyed remembering his father during the process.
The second reason has to do with “das stand.”
The story of “das stand” started in 2010 when Bryon and I moved into a townhouse in Albany and we were planning on getting our first Christmas tree. We both felt strongly that we wanted real trees. On a trip to Maine that fall, I bought a $2 Christmas tree stand at Marden’s.
What a bargain!
Only we couldn’t get our six foot Christmas tree to stand up in that stand.
We decided to cut our losses and we went to Wal-Mart and we invested in a $15 Christmas Tree stand.
We used that Christmas tree stand a couple of years.
Bryon and I always left our tree up until Epiphany. We were good Catholics like that. Right before Epiphany in early 2014, two things happened. The first was that I found out I was pregnant with our daughter and the second was that Bryon came down with H1N1.
Epiphany was on a Monday that year and between my early pregnancy exhaustion and Bryon’s flu, the tree didn’t come down. Thursday of that week, we woke to a crash. Our cat had got into my knitting and somehow wrapped the yarn around some tree branches and pulled the Christmas tree down.
By the following Christmas, in 2014, Bryon and I had moved to our house and our daughter had been born. Between the cat and a future toddler, Bryon was adamant that the Christmas tree was not going to come down.
So he bought a Krinner XXL that he affectionately referred to as “Das Stand”.
Bryon and “Das Stand” spent two Christmases together.
The first Christmas after Bryon died, I didn’t feel like having a Christmas tree but I felt like my daughter still deserved one. I got one up with the help of a friend.
The following year, I got the tree up all by myself. It was a “I am widow, hear me roar” moment. I know that because it showed up in my Facebook memories.
Since I am travelling this Christmas, I got an artificial tree at my house (I know, so wrong and not Hallmark at all) and I brought “Das Stand” to Maine for the real Christmas Tree there.
(End of flashback scenes)
I hadn’t unpacked “Das Stand” from my car and my father asked me to go get it so he can have an idea how the 8 foot trees would stand in it. I retrieve “Das Stand” from my car and the boy working (the Boy Scouts were running the Christmas Tree lot) says “Wow, I have never seen anyone actually bring a Christmas tree stand.”
I let the kid think we take our Christmas trees very seriously.
As my father and the actual adult working the lot put the Christmas Tree into the car, the man says “now THAT is a Christmas tree stand.”
I feel like wherever Bryon is now, he would be proud. He might be dead and gone but “Das Stand” lives on.
When we get home, my father saws off the bottom.
And we prepare to get the Sullivan Family Christmas Tree into “Das Stand” while my daughter watches Fancy Nancy or Vampirina or something on Disney Junior.
I cringed as my father cut away the twine. I was nervous that the branches were going to break through the living room window but my fear was for nothing.
I inspected the tree for squirrels but did not find any.
We were leaving the trimming until the next day because we wanted the branches to have a chance to fall.
I was heading out to an exciting night out in my small town. I was excited to have dinner with my friend Charlotte.
And maybe we would meet Hallmark Christmas Man. Maybe he would be out having a drink.
We had beverages, Irish Nachos and sandwiches. I forgot to take pictures of the food. But we saved room for dessert. I love the Guiness Cake with Bailey’s Frosting.
I didn’t find Hallmark Christmas Man.
Or really…Hallmark Christmas Man did not find me.
But I got to spend time with one of my good friends.
I mean, as Leslie Knope says “Uteruses before Duderuses”.
The next day was freezing rain so I stayed at my parents house. I knew the odds of Hallmark Christmas Man actually just showing up at my parents house were slim.
We watched the Patriots beat the Vikings.
My daughter made a gingerbread house. It was from a kit. It was standing and not all the icing made it into her mouth.
I consider it a success.
We, I mean she, needs to bring her “A game” for her gingerbread contest, I mean, school assignment. It’s not really a contest but a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies have gingerbread contests so a non-competitive school assignment might have to do.
Right now it looks like we need a Christmas Miracle to meet Hallmark Christmas Man. Though Kimmy Gibbler reminded me that sometimes Christmas Magic begins to work closer to the holiday when there is a time crunch.
So where is Hallmark Christmas Man?
So far it seems like a Hallmark Christmas Mystery.
Will the widow’s daughter have an amazing gingerbread house for school?
Will the widow’s daughter stay on Santa’s Nice List?
Will the widow continue to be haunted by memories of “Christmas Past” and by the ponderings of “The Christmases That Should Have Been?”
Will Hallmark Christmas Man- in the biggest plot twist ever in Hallmark Christmas History- show up in Albany, thus confusing the widow since Hallmark love only happens in one’s hometown?
Will “Das Stand” continue to hold up the Sullivan Family Christmas Tree?
Where will Charlotte and the widow go to dinner next time they see each other?
It’s Friday! You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.
This week I am starting something new.
I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!
You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.
It’s easy! If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude
Also feel free to follow me on Instragram at @kerrymckim
Here is what I am gratude for this week.
Fall weekend in Maine.
I didn’t take many pictures on this trip. I didn’t do much sightseeing. I just enjoyed a late October weekend in Maine. I had dinner and ice cream at Charlotte’s and I had dinner with an old friend from high school. I don’t have a nick name for her yet but you met her here.
So I enjoyed socializing with friends, good food, watched two World Series games with my Dad and I marveled in the beauty of Maine fall foliage that is just past the peek in a Nor’easter.
World Series win
My boys did it!
And my little one got to see the team play this year. Can’t wait until next summer.
Second Annual Halloween Pajama Movie Night
The tradition was born last year when my friend and I were shopping at Gymboree and I thought the pink skeleton pajamas were cute. My friend asked me to buy them since she had skeleton pajamas for her boys and she said we could do a Halloween movie night. I was sold.
My daughter and I were at Crazy 8’s a few weeks ago and picked up another pair. And luckily movie night happened again this year.
Trick or Treating
Every year my daughters school goes trick or treating in a local office park. The people who work there are great and were very generous with their candy. It is hard to believe this is my daughters fourth and final year participating.
This year is the first year since Bryon died that I am excited for Christmas. And I am just going with it.
And before the haters get mad at me, I am just as excited about Thanksgiving too.
It’s Friday! You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.
Here are 5 things I am grateful for this week.
Fall in Maine
I got to be in one of the most beautiful places on Earth during the most beautiful time of the year.
Greeting the Troops
My father is a Maine Troop Greeter. Military planes stop in Bangor, Maine because it is the most Eastern airport in the country. And there is a group of volunteers that greet them.
My daughter and I had an opportunity to join my father when a plane came in. My daughter was not shy at all and wanted to shake everyone’s hand. I am so proud of her.
I am so grateful for this opportunity, as well as the volunteers who welcome home each troop. And I am grateful for the Troops who serve to protect our country and our freedoms.
Dinner and Drinks with Charlotte
Charlotte and I tried out the Airline Brewing Company Pub in Ellsworth. The food and drinks were good and the bartender was friendly. I am grateful that I got to try out this new place and for time with Charlotte.
Lunch with the Baker
I also got the chance to have lunch with my friend who I will call The Baker because she is a baker. (Those of you who are unfamiliar with this blog- I rarely use real names) My friends business is called Affectionate Confections and she makes amazing wedding cakes.
When my Maine Best Friend and The Scientist got married, she did their wedding cake.
We were going to have lunch in Bar Harbor but when we arrived in town, we realized that there was a cruise ship in town that day as well as several tour buses. I was happy for the business owners of Bar Harbor but the city was packed. So we decided to have lunch at The Tan Turtle Tavern in Northeast Harbor.
After lunch, we spent some time down by the water at the Northeast Harbor Marina. My daughter had fun throwing rocks into the water.
Getting the opportunity to get in touch with my old self
I know I talk a lot about personal growth and I am a strong believer in that.
As I have been going through and purging my belongings, both at my house in New York and my parents house in Maine, I have been coming across pieces of my life I have forgotten. It has helped me remember who I am and were I came from. I think it is important to be in touch with your old self in order to grow.
I see myself doing an in depth post about this but I wanted to share a few of my favorites.
My school picture from my junior year in high school
My palm card from my failed Maine House run in 2006.
It was so nice to be home and feel that cool, ocean air.
2. Playing with my daughter
After our day trip, we did some playing in the yard at my parents house and at the playground at our local school. My daughter said that the slide was the tallest slide in the world. Imagine that?
3. Ice Cream and Gelato
My parents and I went to an ice cream and gelato shop in our town called PugNuts. I had to get three flavors because I wanted to try them all. My favorites were the coffee flavor and the seasonal pumpkin flavor. My daughter chose cotton candy because it was blue.
I had to laugh because my mother said that all the pugs reminded her of Puppy Dog Pals on the Disney Channel.
4. Being able to watch my daughter improve in gymnastics class.
I am so proud of her.
5. My daughters Pre-K Class and teachers.
My daughter is in a great program and I don’t doubt that she will be ready for kindergarten next year.
They seriously need to bring back the laser option.
This past weekend was probably an unremarkable weekend for most. I know here in the Northeast, many people went apple picking or visited a pumpkin patch.
I love fall activities but I know I was not going to enjoy last weekend because last Saturday would have been Bryon and my 6th wedding anniversary.
The truth is, as more anniversaries pass, the more alienated I feel. Not just from other, happily married, living people (i.e. NORMS, a term created by fellow widow Michelle Miller) but also from myself. As time goes back, I feel detached even from myself. Because I am no longer a happily married, living person.
So what does a formerly happily married, living person do on their wedding anniversary, particularly when the other half of their former happy union is a dead person?
We passed the Little Deer Isle, Maine post office. This was the post office that my father worked at when he first became postmaster. This also was the promotion that brought my family to Maine from the Boston area.
It felt so good to feel the fresh air of the ocean. The ocean has always been my happy place. There is something about it that re-centers my soul and reminds me just how insignificant we really are.
We drove around Deer Isle but I didn’t get any pictures.
On the way home, we stopped at The Fish Net in Blue Hill to get fried clams for lunch and a chicken fingers lunch for my daughter. I went to the takeout window while my father stayed in the car with my daughter, who was napping.
Being home and being around the ocean always makes me reflective.
Lately I have been taking a step back socially to focus on my daughter, to reflect on my life, to take care of myself and to prepare for the next chapter in my life. I admit, it makes me a little uneasy to look towards the future and not know what to expect. I have always been a person who liked to have a two year, five year and ten year plan.
Currently, I don’t even have a two month plan.
At times, I feel lost.
A little over two and a half years ago, I still had a husband. We had just returned from a Caribbean cruise and we had our whole lives ahead of us.
And then that was taken away.
I may have gotten over the basic shock and I have accepted that this happened. But now I am working on letting go and redefining myself and my dreams.
Please trust me when I say that it’s a lot harder than it sounds.
I was thinking about this as I stood at that clam shack on the Maine Coast when I looked up and saw this:
At that moment, I realized that no matter where I go or how my dreams change, Bryon will be there with me.
I mean, seriously, if he can find a way to be with me while waiting for my lunch at a clam shack on the Maine Coast, then he will find a way to be with me anywhere.
And that was the best anniversary present I could have gotten.
I don’t know exactly when I met my friend Andy. I actually met him because I was friends with his wife. I met his wife (I am going to call her The Scallop Divers Wife because I try not to use living people’s names in my blog) in 2004 when I joined the woman’s council at St. Joe’s Catholic Church in Ellsworth, Maine. I only know it was 2004 because I had another friend that I became friends volunteering for a certain political candidate and she noticed that we both went to 11 am Mass. My political friend and I decided to join the woman council and we both became friends with The Scallop Divers Wife. I probably met Andy at a church function or maybe I met him at his house.
I used to enjoys visits to Andy’s house. I could count on funny stories and lively political discussion. Periodically I would house and dog sit when they went away.
I moved away from Maine in 2009 because Bryon and I had been dating a year and things were serious. I always wanted Bryon and Andy to meet. I know they would have gotten along. Also, Bryon had dreams of being on Deadliest Catch and I told him I could get him on a fishing boat on the Maine Coast.
But sadly, the visit never materialized.
Then Andy got sick. Cancer. He was given a six months to live.
Like Bryon, Andy fought. He turned a 6 months life sentence into three years.
Shortly after Bryon passed, Andy’s niece passed in a car accident and he and his family traveled to Vermont for the funeral. It was about three hours away but I made the trip to see them the day before the funeral. I knew I had to make this trip because I didn’t know how much longer Andy would be here and I didn’t want to have any regrets. I knew that this might be the last chance I got to see Andy. After Bryon died, all the regrets I heard were from people who said they wished they knew him better. No one said they regretted visiting him.
During that visit, Andy and I didn’t know what to say to each other but it wasn’t awkward. I remember him being kind to my daughter who was two at the time. He was too weak to socialize and I spent the afternoon catching up with The Scallop Divers Wife. She gave me a lesson on cooking lobster and they sent me back to New York with some Maine lobster.
Andy and I had a few conversations on Facebook Messenger. He said it was hard to read my blog because he knew his wife was going to be going through the same thing. I admit that it was hard to discuss death with a dying man. I wondered if Bryon had similar thoughts. I will never know because Bryon couldn’t speak.
Around Thanksgiving I got the news that Andy’s cancer had spread to his brain. We had a Facebook Messenger conversation. He told me he wasn’t ready to die, his sons were so young. I really didn’t know what to say. It ended up being our last conversation.
In the beginning of December, I found out that there was nothing more that could be done and Andy would be going to Hospice. Luckily he was able to go home. My heart ached for The Scallop Divers Wife. I remembered the pure agony of waiting for your husband to die. I only had 24 hours of that agony from the “there’s nothing more we can do” conversation (though for me the words were “your husbands heart is going to stop beating today”) and my friend’s agony was open ended.
When I found out Andy was going to Hospice, I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to make it to his funeral. I work in oncology data and I know many patients don’t last long in Hospice. I was out of personal time at work for the year. I was beside myself thinking that I wouldn’t be able to go to Maine and be there for the funeral. I remember who showed up to pay their respects when Bryon died and I wouldn’t get to be one of those supporters for my friend. I decided that if I was meant to be there, it would all work out.
But I was also nervous that this was up in the air because this would be the first funeral I would attend since Bryon’s. That is a huge first for any widow. I have a tendency to obsess about things that potentially give me anxiety. But there was no doubt that I would work through it to be there for my friend but I was having a hard time channeling this nervous energy.
Andy’s family got one more Christmas with him and he passed on December 28, 2017.
I confirmed with my manager at work at my personal time for 2018 become effective at the New Year and then I made arrangements to go to Maine for the funeral. Ironically my parents were in Albany so their trip was cut short but they were fine with it because I was bringing my daughter to Maine and they got to spend time with her there.
And my daughter likes playing play-doh with her Grammy.
I went to the wake (I guess outside New England they call it a viewing?) to pay my respects and visit with The Scallop Divers Wife. I didn’t stay long because I didn’t recognize anyone else and I knew The Scallop Divers Wife was busy greeting people. It’s a long night.
I ended up grabbing dinner with another good friend.
I forgot to take a pic of us together, but here is a pic from us last summer at my best friends wedding. This was also in Maine but it was much, much warmer.
The following morning I made the 45 minute drive to Bar Harbor for Andy’s funeral.
On the drive I was thinking about how I have been widowed long enough that I am not the newest young widow in my circle of friends. Time has a way of slapping you in the face like that.
Andy was a well-liked guy and the church was full.
I tend to think I am invincible when it comes to funerals. I attribute it to my Boston Irish upbringing.
I will mention something important. It was during Andy’s funeral that I realized that despite being angry at God that I want a Catholic funeral when I die. It’s how my grandparents went out. It’s how my uncles went out. It’s how Bryon went out. And while God might be a hateful jerk who took my husband from me, I am not going to let him take something from me that is part of my heritage. Andy and I had had several conversations where he challenged my current views on God. I tended to get angry at the other 99.9% of the people who did that, Andy got a pass. It’s hard to stay mad at him and I also wasn’t going to argue with a dying man about God. But as the realization about my own mortality hit me, I just said to myself, “Well played, Andy. Well played.”
I was fine until the moment the funeral started. Seeing The Scallop Divers Wife have to walk down after the coffin. I had walked in 5 funerals before Bryon (three grandparents and two uncles) and nothing can prepare you for that moment for when it’s your spouse. My heart ached for The Scallop Divers Wife and three sons. I felt shaky during the processional and I asked Bryon to be with me (something I don’t tend to do. I figure he comes and goes when he feels like it) and suddenly I had my Boston Irish composure back. I don’t doubt for a second that he was there with me.
Though The Scallop Divers Wife wins the award for being the strongest. She got up and gave a beautiful eulogy. I wouldn’t have been able to do it.
I had asked The Scallop Divers Wife if she was okay if I wrote this post. She said she was curious about reading it from my point of view. I hope I don’t disappoint her because I don’t remember the details. I was a jumble of emotions that day and my account is likely to come across as self-absorbed. No widow(er) means to be self absorbs. We just have lots of emotions to sort out. And once we get those emotions sorted out, we hit another widow milestone and it brings up a whole new batch of feelings.
The Scallop Divers Wife is my friend and I hope she will be through the rest of our lives We will always be bonded by the fact that we are young widows. I am far enough into my widowhood journey (17 months and 5 days) to know that the funeral is like a wedding. Both are important days but while a wedding is just one day of a marriage, the funeral is just one day in the life without a loved one.
And just like our wedding day, we will remember our husbands funeral for the rest of our lives.