What to wear when -and if- Cliff arrives

images(As printed in the Dec. 9, 2012 edition of The Great Bend Tribune, Great Bend, Kans.)

I won a jackpot on Thanksgiving. I didn’t even have to pay a buck to do it either–who says you have to play to win?  We visited mom, now retired for two years this New Years Eve.  As it turns out, she’s taken to retirement very well, and plans to make a career of it.  Because of this, her wardrobe needs have changed slightly, which is where my jackpot comes in.

“I’m getting ready to go through my closet and clean it out,” she said.  “You’re welcome to go through it and see if there’s anything you want out of there first.  Take it all if you want.”

We’re about the same height, and about the same size.  Also, she dressed very well for her position as an executive assistant.  She’s an awesome shopper.  And, her closet is the size of a small bedroom, lined in cedar with several racks of differing heights, bins of purses and racks of shoes. I crossed off any and all clothing items from my Christmas wishlist by the time I was done.

I learned a few things while I was shopping in mom’s closet.  One, when you retire, it’s a whole lot easier to live within your means.  There’s a lot less daily travel, eating out, and dressing up.  It’s easier to lose weight and you can read all the books you’ve ever wanted to read, grow your own food, and get together with friends.  Many of the items in mom’s closet are a little too big for her now, and I found that pretty encouraging.

Also, the size I am today is the size of today.  The same size from 30 years ago is a whole lot smaller.  Mom had skirts, which by the way never wear out, that were the right size numerically, but held up against a modern size, there was anywhere from 3 to 5 inches difference in the waist.  Squeezing into one during a private moment, I was confronted by one heck of a “muffin top”, and quickly shimmied out of the skirt to take a breath.  Whew!

Four years ago, I worked hard to take off my excess pounds.  I had a period of unemployment, and spent my time doing much of what my mom does now in retirement.  I lost weight and felt wonderful and strong.  But eventually, I found employment again, and slowly the weight crept back on.  Sitting a good part of the day tends to make that happen.

The country, too. has had its ups and downs.  We’ve had high debt, then lost the debt, then it began to creep back on.  Some sounded the alarm years ago, but we chose to ignore them.  But in the past few years, we’ve had a reckoning and when we’ve dared to get on the scale and been confronted with that ever and rapidly growing number, it’s become clear nothing short of hard work is going to erase this debt sitting on our nation like a large gut full of visceral fat.

Fiscal Cliff is coming.  He’s tentatively planning his arrival for New Year’s Day.  I’m not really sure how to dress for his arrival–if he actually does show up. Cliff, I imagine, will come bearing a gift for the country.  A late Christmas gift, purchased on sale the day after Christmas.  It will be a belt.  We’ll try it on just to be polite.

“Oh, that looks great!” he’ll say.  “Come here, it just needs a little adjustment.”

He’ll quickly loosen the buckle, grab the end, and give a mighty tug, and refasten it.  And there we’ll be, staring at our Great American Muffin Top in the mirror.

Image

It won’t feel better until we lose the debt–but when we do, we’ll feel a whole lot better.  The thing we need to remember, however, while we’re going through this debt loss plan, is to remember its something we’re all going through together.

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