Sunday, November 19, 2017

My Christmas Obsession...

I don't know what  Christmas movies have to do with my Journey to 50.  Except that my journey to 50 includes two months of Christmas movies... starting as soon as they air on TV in Early November. That is a significant portion of my journey... watching old favourites... 
and looking for new favourites.   

I guess my infatuation with Christmas movies helps to make Christmas a journey instead of just a day.  Every year I look forward to the re-airing of old favourites and dive into the schedule to find new stories.  

Someone asked me last week, what I do for fun.  Well for two months, I enjoy when Hollywood gets in the Christmas spirit.  As commercial as some of the entertainment gets, there is still enough grace in some the hearts of the production staff
 and as a result...  some awesome stories
 have reached my TV screen.


In this post, I have spread out some of my favourite selections and the trailers to go with them.  From Bing Crosby to Macaulay Culkin and from Santa to Jesus...  my tastes span the horizon of creativity

I look forward to the Journey of Christmas... more than the day.  The spirit of the season is worth so much more than the 0.003% the calendar allocates for it.  Movies, music and festive events keep my heart a buzz for a good two months plus... spreading the joy... making it last a while longer. 

My hubby figures I like watching because of the romance.   There is a big romance factor in my favourite shows, but I do adore the children.  After all, it's children that make Christmas... Christmas.  So find me a country setting, with the cutest kid and the most adorable awkward couple...
 and I am set  

There aren't many good Jesus movies that come out at Christmas time.  Seems strange, but they are rare.  But sometimes a real good one comes out and I am hooked.  

So there you have it. 
 A glimpse in to my journey...
 My Journey towards Christmas. 
 And maybe my list of favourites from Tinsel Town will inspire your own journey.  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

"Growing Old" lessons from Billy Graham

Some of the most peaceful moments I have experienced have been on Sunday mornings at my Mom's place.  Mom has gone to church and I am left in the sacred solitude I find when I am at the farm.  The only noise is the gentle hum of the refrigerator.

It is the day after Remembrance day, and I found myself perusing my Mom's library.  On the shelf was a book that I had not seen before.  Something attracted me to the title... "Nearing Home"

I can't say I have ever read any of Billy Graham's books.  Maybe I started some, but don't think I can claim that I finished them.   This book seemed like foder for my blog, so I picked it up.

Billy Graham writes about getting older.  A near to the heart subject for a man who just celebrated his 99th birthday.  He was in his early nineties when he wrote the book.

The first line in the introduction got me hooked...

"I never thought I would live to be this old."

I keep reading.

"Old age is not for sissies."

I keep reading.

"This book, however isn't written just for old people.  It is written for people at every stage of life -- even those who never have thought much about growing older. The reason is simple:  the best way to meet the challenges of old age is to prepare for them now, before they arrive..."

Yee Haw... growing old lessons from  Billy ... He's the guy who rocked the world with the story of Jesus.    How awesome is this?  What has Billy learned in his life and years that he can pass along to a 49 yr. old gal who feels like she is getting old.

I keep reading.. on to Chapter 1 "Running towards Home"

"Growing old has been the greatest surprise of my life.  The young live for the here and now.  Thinking ahead seems to be in the form of dreams that promise fairy-tale endings.  Though I am nearing ninety-three, it doesn't seem so long ago that I was one of those dreamers...

Billy Graham, a dreamer, I never knew.  He goes on to talk about his dream to be a major league ball player.  A dream that wasn't to be in the way he initially dreamed about... but there was a man who instead of standing in a stadium with a baseball bat,  found himself in those very stadiums sharing Jesus to the masses that assembled.

I keep reading.

"I wonder.  What home are you preparing for?  Some people spend their lives building ultimate dream homes so they can enjoy their twilight years.  Some find themselves exchanging their bank accounts for residence within the gates of a retirement centre.  Other's spend their days in nursing homes,,," 

Billy Graham dedicated his life to promoting a different home.  He had the picture of "Nearing Home" long before he reached senior citizen status.  Billy spent his years helping people, not get ready for retirement, but to get ready to be with Jesus.  That was the home he is looking ahead with anticipation for.

I keep reading.

"Society today may not like the word 'old', yet young people pay a small fortune for jeans that look old.  Collectors put the highest value on antiques because they are... old! Other's buy old clunkers, restore them, and then proudly drive them down the highway showing off... the old!"

He has a point... there is an admiration for stuff when it gets old.  But what becomes sad is what he shares in the next sentence.

"The days when the aged were admired, looked up to, and respected are gone."

Wow!!!  So we admire stuff that gets old, and ignore people when they get old.  What rocker have we fallen off of?  The treasure is in people that have weathered the storms of life and can guide and teach us how to journey on.

I keep reading

"I am not sure exactly when it happened, but as the years passed, it gradually dawned on me that I was growing older.  Middle age   --  I had to admit  -- was fading into the distance, and I was rapidly approaching what we politely call the 'mature' years." 

I think we have all experienced 'time flying' faster than we would like it to.  It was the intro to a soap opera I used to watch years ago...

'Like sands through the hour glass... so are the days of our lives."

There is no putting a plug in that hour glass... the sand falls through and we just get to watch it and hopefully, make the most of the time we spend... watching the sand.

Billy goes on to share some profound wisdom from the lips of a medical doctor.

"Most of my middle-aged patients are in denial.  They think they'll always be able to play strenuous sports or travel anywhere they want or continue working twelve hours a day.  They just assume if something goes wrong, I'll be able to fix it.  But one day they're going to wake up and discover they can't do everything they once did.  Someday they'll be old, and they won't like it because they aren't emotionally prepared for it." 

I think that is where I am.. emotionally unprepared for getting old.  That maybe why I started this blog.  I wanted to write again, but I also realize that in me is a great unfounded need to "Grow up!"

Billy follows up the doctor blurb with this...

" I can't truthfully say that I have liked growing older.  At times I wish I could still do everything I once did -- but I can't.  I wish I didn't have to face the infirmities and uncertainties that seem to be a part of this stage of life -- but I do.  'Don't get old!'  I've said with tongue in cheek to more than one person in recent years.  But of course that is not an option; old age is inevitable if we live long enough. And old age definitely has its downsides;  it would be dishonest to say otherwise. "

Billy goes on to extol the "old men and women" of the Bible and what they accomplished in their seemingly 'after useful' years of life.  He writes about God 'using' us and I'm not a big fan of the word USE when it comes between God and us.   But I can see the point he is trying to get across.  There are so many examples in the unfolding story of scripture that show that 'getting old' is not a barrier to God and the opportunities He has given us.

Good book so far..,. and I have only read the end of the first chapter.

One more quote from Billy...

" What testimony are you passing on to others following you?  Remembering what God has done for you will invigorate you in old age.  Others are watching your actions and attitudes.  Don't diminish the impact you can make..." 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

I want to go home!

How does one define home?

My dad said "Home is where you hang your hat!"

It became an oft repeated phrase for someone who moved so much.

I have had many homes in the last 1/2 century.  There is a place in my heart for each "home" I have had.

Another saying:  "Home is where the heart is."  Maybe that is true for some, but I think for me... the heart is where home is.  The heart is what dwells; the home is the dwelling place.

Flatrock was not my first home, it wasn't even the first home I remember.  But it holds great significance to me.  I spend my childhood there.  From the ages of four to fourteen, that is the place I called home.  It was a farm in the northeast corner of British Columbia,  about forty miles from Fort St. John.

There were five people that shared this "home" with me. Bear with me as I go down history lane.

 My grandparents were the first to lay claim to the land.  Homesteaders was what they were called.  They moved to Flatrock in the mid fifties and started from nothing.  My Oma said it best...

"After some years we found ourselves in the North Peace River District on a half section of bushland.  There was enough work for years to come." 

My parents, my sister and I  moved out to the farm in the spring of 1972.  Mom remembers a muddy May.  It was at the request of my dad's father that Dad take over the farm.  Dad was a builder.  That was his passion and where his heart lied, but when it came to his parents, his duty to them overrode his passion.  He moved his family to the farm and that is where we lived for the next decade.

Building the sheep barn was dad's priority.  We needed a place to house our farming future.   Opa had a few barns already, but Dad needed to upgrade the facilities, so he built a barn that housed the sheep and also doubled as an implement and storage shed.  It was the hub of our operation.

For eight years we double deckered a home made gooseneck trailer and hauled a hundred lambs at a time to the stock yards in Edmonton.  It wasn't easy on my parents, they hung in as long as they could. Sheep farming wasn't very profitable.  The market was far away and Dad's passion for building hadn't died.  My grandparents ended up moving to the Okanagan and we packed our trailers and hit the road for a new life in 1982.

I was glad and sad to leave.  Glad to start a new adventure, sad to leave the place I called home for a decade.

This past week, I started revisiting the farm in my mind again.  I reconnected with the family that lives there and suggested that maybe a visit is in order.  I want to go on a road trip with Manfred for my fiftieth year and a few options have crossed my path, but this one is sticking pretty hard.  The last time I was back on the farm was ten years ago, for my fortieth birthday trip.  I took pictures then, and it is evident that time has taken it's toll on the buildings.

The sun has set on that part of my life, but as I go back in the darkness and shine a light on it, I am flooded with the fond memories of ten wonderful years.

Yes, I want to go "home"... if only to show my husband where I grew up and whisper a word of thanks... because that place is where my heart called home.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Why I'm glad I didn't go to my high school reunion.

Class of 87 Grad Car... autographed by the grads 
It is Sunday and I'm thinking about the reasons I didn't go to my class reunion this weekend and they aren't the same as the reasons I'm GLAD I didn't go. 

The reasons I didn't go:

1: Financial.  This trip wasn't a necessity in my schedule, and so I cancelled.  It gets easy to axe non-essential expenditures when finances are tight and best allocated elsewhere.  So Saskatchewan Road Trip #3 got axed.

2.  I didn't like the idea of going to Outlook by myself.  Solo road trips aren't fun.

3.  I didn't want to spend this weekend in Saskatchewan because of the significance of the date.  Saturday was nine months since my nephew passed away and the first Saturday the 14th since his accident.  He died 2 hours into the 14th, so technically it wasn't Friday the 13th... but one can't ignore the proximity.  Anyway.  It was more about the anniversary date than superstitious overtones.

Now the reasons I'm glad I didn't go:

1. I have been nursing a cold for the last week and a bit.  I haven't been very sociable because of it.  So for that I am glad
I stayed home.

2. My husband needed me home.  When I look back at the events of this weekend, I am glad I was here for him instead of in Saskatchewan visiting with people that don't matter as much to me as he does.

Mom and I at LCBI... her reunion... not mine
3. Back to the road trips.  I confessed to my Mom, that I enjoy her reunions to LCBI, much more than my own.  I like road trips with my Mom, I like connecting with the people that show up during her years.  I like the flexibility to hang out at the school, and in the Outlook are,  without the schedule I would have going during my honoured years.  Going to LCBI isn't as much fun without my mom.

4.  I saw pictures on-line of the attendants from my grad class.  I was glad I didn't go. I am not in relationship with any of the people that showed up at Homecoming this year.  I did see a few people five years ago at our twenty-fifth, and some I haven't seen in twenty-thirty years. So I figure, one weekend isn't going to make us friends.  Here's the other tidbit of truth.  I wasn't friends with any of them thirty years ago either.

5.  My need to visit the past isn't as much of a need anymore.  If I am not going to connect with people I want to be relating to... than it is just a visit to the past and disappointment soon follows.  I would rather connect with people in their home and because of the present, than in public because of the past.

Yes, it's me... at  the high school track meet. 
6.  There are a few people I have crossed paths with in the last fifty years... that I really don't want to cross paths with again.  I don't like the memories that come to my mind when I see them or talk to them.  They are people that are best left in the past.  When I saw the pictures of my classmates that gathered together this weekend.  I saw a face that is best left in the past.  Honestly... it's the biggest reason why I am glad I didn't go.

There you have it.  As this year winds down and next year approaches, I am bound to walk back to yesterday in my mind on occasion.  It comes with getting older.  Some questions come to mind when I go down that rabbit trail.

Do I have regrets?
Was it worth it?
Did I make a difference?
Would I change things if I had the chance?
Am I who I am because of who I was then?
Am I wasting my time even asking these questions?

7 of  the 87 grads.. 30 yrs later
I was older than most of my classmates, due to a redo of Grade 8.  When I look at how much they have changed in the last thirty years, I am the one who feels old.   I admit, when I look at the picture... I see "old people" and I look in the mirror and wonder, if they would have seen the same in me, had I gone too.

I am not going to say in this blog that I never want to go back and hang out with my classmates ever again.  I may change my mind one year and go back.

Graduation 1987... Ruby and Dawn
There is only one of the forty-two grads of 1987 that would change all this for me... if she would be there.  One out of forty-two....  But as I go back thirty years in my memory, she was the one I called friend.  She lives in China.. so I'm not holding my breath on a return to Homecoming for her.  But for her... I would go.  You see... it is about relationship for me.  I just can't get around that anymore.

Friday, September 29, 2017

A day in the work life of Ruby Neumann (on her Halfy Birthday)

Panorama Shot of the Emco Warehouse

Good Morning:

My office
... at least it is now as I write this.  ½ a year, 6 months, 181 days to the big day.  Today is my Halfy Birthday, so I figure a post was in the works.  I didn’t want to start it when I got home, so I will formulate my thoughts throughout the day.  This will be a day in the worklife of Ruby Neumann.

It is Friday morning a bit after 8 AM, and I am in my new office.  I have a few minutes to write before I have to figure out what I am doing today.  Can I tell you about Emco?  It seems like it warrants a place in my journey blog because I spend more than half of my waking hours here. 

 A little history for those who don’t know and might care. 

Add caption
Emco Corporation (Plumbing and Heating Wholesaler)  has been my place of employ for over 13 years.  I started my time with this company while I was still living in Calgary.  For three and a half years in Cow town, I learned about plumbing.  Now that I am in Edmonton I am still learning.  That is what I like about Emco. It has continuous learning opportunities, if you are up for the challenge.

I am counting down to 50, but I am also counting down to my ten year anniversary with Emco Edmonton (Branch 745).  In thirty days, I will have made personal history.  Ten years in one location of employ.  Somebody take me out to dinner… it is huge.  (my anniversary lands on a Sunday… most likely that person will be my husband… Hint Hint, Hubby!!!)

Well, time to rest my fingers from this foray… but I will continue throughout the day.   

Mid morning:

Okay… where was I … Emco. Actually, I am still here.  It is Friday and I am doing a job called Bin Consolidation.  Sometimes product gets put away into multiple bins around the warehouse.  A management cleanup step before inventory is trying to merge the bins.  So I have printed off a list of product that is located in multiple places and I get to walk around and see if I can squeeze faucet boxes into limited airspace.  And I am wondering why I don’t have my coveralls for this job.  It can be pretty dusty. 

I have access to sunshine now that I have relocated my work station.  I moved from a central location in the warehouse to the  air conditioned shipping office.  Aaahh Office Nirvana.

I am working on wallpapering my area of the office with calendars.  I have already started with two for a buck specials from the local dollar store.  That way my pictures change every month.  Sweeeeeeet!!!!

  I’ll come back later… got to go box squeezing again!!!


Okay… this was a surprise.  Birthday cake today from Emco.  Do they know it’s my Halfy birthday today?  Probably not.  They do this once a month for the staff.  I am taking my piece home to Hubby… It’s his favourite… (next to my Apple Rhubarb Chrisp… that is what he texted me when I sent him the picture. )  Oh well.  Off to somewhere for lunch.  Where will I go to treat myself. MMMMMmmmmm. 

After Noonish:

Went to Fife and Dekel for lunch.  I had stew and the most amazing egg salad sandwich on fresh baked sunflower seed bread.  Nothing they make is second rate.  Awesome for a birthday lunch.

Mid Afternoon:
One of my job responsibilities is booking the incoming shipments to our location.  Call me Emco’s Logistics Coordinator. (It always sounds fancier with a title, but they haven’t put it on a business card for me yet.  But not for lack of trying.)  

Receiving floor
Most days it is a matter of getting an email from the trucking company with a request to bring in a shipment, I enter the information into my receiving log and email back a confirmation.  Sometimes it takes a bit of “finagling” to balance the trucks as they come in with their big loads.  This picture is of two loads of Insulworks, the blue bundles, (it is insulation for in-floor heating).  It is big and bulky and takes up space.  This picture is taken Friday and by Monday, our dock guy Les needs to have room on this same receiving floor  to unload a water heater trailer at 5 am so some new homeowner can have hot water in their house next week.  This is another day’s work for us at Emco and some days it requires a little extra sacrifice.  Thanks Les for giving up your Saturday.  Go Team Emco.
End of the Day:
Well, that was my day.  Not much happened between my last blurb and now.  I finished up my filing.  Yes, another one of my duties.. Emco’s Receiving Paper Princess.  (Also not on a business card)   
A few interruptions later and it is home time.  I guess I will finish this post off when I get home.  It has been nice sharing my day with you. 
Ruby from Emco

Panorama of Emco Br. 745

Sunday, September 10, 2017

30 YEARS LATER... and still riding a merry-go-round

This year is thirty years since I graduated from high school.  Thirty years was the time jump that Marty Mcfly made in the Delorean in the "Back to the Future" movie.  So I am thinking maybe there is significance in the thirty years.  I know this blog is all about fifty, but let me journey away from fifty for this post and go back in time thirty years ago (give or take a year or two).

I found two pictures of me taken during my high school years and decided yesterday to recreate the moments at Fort Edmonton Park.  The first picture was taken at a fort in Saskatchewan on one of our class trips.  It could have been Carleton or Batoche.  I am not sure which one it was.  But I have this picture of me on this old cart.  

So yesterday, at Fort Edmonton Park,  I went looking for a cart to pose in front of.  I didn't really climb in the cart, because there were too many staffers walking around.  I didn't want to attract any attention, so I took out my selfie stick and posed in front of it.  This cart was in the actual Fort itself... so good re-creating.

The next thirty year old picture came from Disneyworld... so it is actually thirty-one, because that trip was in 1986.  One of my family members took a picture of me on a carousel horse.
I thought I was too old then to ride a merry-go-round, but I proved myself wrong then and yesterday...

I proved again I am not too old to ride a carousel. It is just getting difficult to climb on board. I didn't realize how high those mounts are and just how "out of shape" I am.
But I made it and have the photographic memory of the day to compare.  I am thinking I haven't changed much.  My hair is a little greyer, but you can't tell that because I was wearing a hat.  I think it's the same girl... just thirty years apart.  (a bit of irony... my horse's name was Memory)

Yesterday, I spent a few hours just walking around trying to feel like I was in a time period that my Grandparents knew.  

 I longed to be in a simpler time when people weren't hanging out with their iPhones, they were hanging out with each other.  But in reality I was there, hanging out with my iPhone. 

 It is a beautiful place, these parks designed to bring us back in time.  It is a reprieve from the crazy world we find ourself in in 2017.  I was wondering if, in 100 years from now, there will be a park that will have iPhones on display as antiques.  

Back to the carousel, I was on that horse thinking, I could check off something from my "Things to do before I turn 50" list.  And then another idea came to mind.  So last night at my computer I started a letter.   I started a letter to the Ruby of 1987.  Thirty years ago... that was me.  Just graduated from high school and starting bible school in Camrose.  So I wrote to her... here is a segment of the letter.  

"I am going to tell you something that you may not want to admit right now.  You are naive.  You grew up sheltered from the world, and now exposed to it, it wants to suck you in.  I don’t want to scare you, I just want to prepare you for the road ahead.  Mom and Dad love you.  They just wanted to protect you.  What parent wants to expose their child to the dangers of life at any juncture?  So now you are finding your way into a world that you aren’t prepared for.  If I could travel back in time to 1987, I am sure I would be there with a big stick trying to protect you too.  

You have a good heart.  You love well and Love will be with you on this journey.  You will learn how to love in good times and in hard times.  Some of those hard times aren’t that far away, some are down the road aways.  I want to tell you, that it is worth it.  Love is worth it.  "

It is an interesting exercise... something I saw on someone else's  "Things to do before 50 list".  

 This morning I started writing the Ruby of 2047, my 79 year old self, thirty years from now.  That is more challenging... here is a segment of that letter to explain why. 

So yesterday, I wrote a letter to Ruby of 1987.  My 19 year old self.  And since I am hot flashing at 2:30 in the morning, I thought it appropriate to write my 79 year old self a letter.  Jumping thirty years in the future is a lot more uncertain than going back thirty years.  I don’t know who you are.  I knew who I was thirty years ago, but I don’t know who you are.  I didn’t know the Ruby of 2017 back in 1987, and those two Ruby’s have so much “not in common”  but still a lot in common.  

Are you hot flashing?  Funny that I would ask myself that question.  Maybe I hope it is finally over.  I would like to sleep without waking up sweating.  I don’t like that part about getting older.  Am I making you laugh right now... talking about getting older.  You are probably wishing you were my age again.  

See what I mean,  here I am walking towards fifty... and wondering what I will be like at 79.   Yikes.  Going there seems scary.   But maybe writing myself a letter that I will open in thirty years has its blessings.  I wonder what kind of letter I would have written to my fifty year old self when I was just starting out on life.  

I hope at 79, I will find myself on a carousel with the strength and agility to climb on that horse once again, if only once more for a picture and a ride down memory lane.  

Sunday, August 20, 2017

To have loved and lost... Better or Worse?

"Tis more painful for the one who has loved and lost, than the one who never had the chance to love in the first place. "  Ruby Neumann  with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I can go in a lot of different directions for this post.  Maybe Tennyson was thinking about man/woman kind of love, but this year,  I am compelled to take this thought in a different direction.  Here's a story.

There are two sisters.  One was married in her twenties and had two sons,  the other married in her forties and has no children of her own.  The first sister found fulfillment in being a mother.  She discovered a love the didn't exist for her before she had children.  That love was born when her first son came along and that love grew as her boys grew.  

The second sister lived her life through her twenties and thirties and forties witnessing that love in her sister, but not understanding it for herself.  It didn't exist for her.  Oh, another love grew instead, but that love that her sister was experiencing, didn't grow in her.  

Strange thing happened.  She found she didn't miss it.  She was so engrossed in the new love she had been given, she wasn't missing the love her sister had.  She had her own.  It was different.  

There were people who crossed her path and reminded her that she was missing love in her life because she wasn't growing the same love that her sister had.  She couldn't understand why they were convinced she was missing out.  That love didn't exist for her.  What was she missing? How could she miss something she never had in the first place? 

I have often wondered if, one day, I will feel a void in my life for not having children.  So far, it hasn't happened.  I had an tubal surgery when I was single and in my late thirties.  At that time I couldn't see around the next bend in my life.  Was I going to get married?  I didn't know.  But I thought if it did happen sooner than later, I needed to take the possibility getting pregnant out of the equation.  I had health issues that helped me and my health professionals conclude that it was unwise at my age to give birth.  Being single at the time, there was no emotional attachment that I had to consider.   It seemed like the perfect time to do it, so I did it.

The story continues:

It is an early winter morning.  The first sister is awakened to a knocking at the door.  Some police officers are standing on her porch.  They have news to deliver that no mother wants to hear.  There was an accident.  Her first born son... is dead.  

Then it starts.  Like an explosion in her very soul, the pain in born and it grows, it grows fast.  It is a pain worse than any broken bone or laceration she has ever experienced.  It's a pain worse than childbirth itself.  It's the pain unique to a mother who has lost her child.  

Later the same day, there is another knock on another door.  This time it is the other sister that opens the door to her awaiting mother.  It is the same news the police had to deliver to her sister.  When that sister hears of the death of her nephew, another explosion takes place, another pain is birthed in her own soul.  For this is the love, the different love she knew instead.   

How could I miss something I have never had? It never existed. Nothing was born in my soul.  There is still no pain in that for me.  Maybe one day, there will be a loss, but right now.  I am not missing the love I didn't have, I am missing the love I did have.  It was a different love, but it was good.

Maybe Tennyson was right, but to use the word "better" doesn't really describe it.  What is better?  Does that mean I am worse off for not having children of my own?  Others may think so, but I don't think so.  I am blessed for having 26 amazing years with my nephew.  But it is a blessing that I had because it was a love I was given.  Had he not been born, I would not have had that love birthed in me to grow.

At this juncture of my life... You know... almost 50... I find more peace and purpose on the Journey of Love than I do in the Valley of Regret.  There is no good in looking back wondering what would have been, even through I have moments where I wonder.

 I am reminded of my Great Aunt Bernice.  She was the only daughter of my great grandparents that didn't have children.  But the family would say of Aunt Bernice that she had 60 children, for that is how many nieces and nephew she had.  She too had love growing in her heart and soul.  It just wasn't the same as her siblings, it was different, but for her... it was good.

My Christmas Obsession...

I don't know what  Christmas movies have to do with my Journey to 50.  Except that my journey to 50 includes two months of Christmas mo...