Monday Miscellany: Christmas Stores & Old Dogs


We spent Sunday in Frankenmuth, Michigan. “Little Bavaria” is known for being home to famous chicken dinners and the largest Christmas store in the world. It’s one of those small town tourist experiences that is little known outside of its own state, but something of a legend within. I remember going to Frankenmuth as a kid and being awestruck. Everything feels bigger when you’re small and Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is big even as an adult. For years now we’ve meant to take our own kids up there, to make the trip a yearly family tradition, but it seems like something always gets in the way. December is incredibly busy, but if there’s anything I’ve come to realize this year it’s that there will never be time unless we make it. So that we did.

Today I’m writing this at our dining table, just a few feet from the Christmas tree under which there’s no less than two pounds of fudge lovingly packaged by the young lady at the Frankenmuth Fudge Kitchen (pictured above). I just keep telling myself it’s for Christmas… it’s for Christmas… it’s for Christmas. Family and friends wouldn’t mind if there was a tiny nibble missing from their packages would they?

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Our Old Man — a 10-year old, more-than-one-hundred pound yellow lab mutt — has been struggling lately. This isn’t exactly a surprise; he is solidly in the “elderly” stage of life for a dog his size. It never makes it easier to witness though. For him, like most large dogs, it’s the loss of mobility that is creeping in. He’s showing reluctancy to get up unless there’s some serious motivation for him to do so; when he does decide to get up it takes a minute for him to rise and he has a bit of a hitch in his giddy-up for the first few yards once he’s up. We’ve had him on SmartPak’s SmartCanine Senior* for a few weeks now and though it’s too early to be certain, I think there’s been a little bit of improvement in how much he struggles to rise. I’ll keep you posted once we’re through with his second month of supplements.

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A couple weeks ago I took one of our Small Humans — who is more of a Medium-sized Human these days, I might add — to the dermatologist for the first time. As the doctor was explaining the treatment options I kept wondering why one of the medications she was mentioning sounded so familiar. I was blessed with “good” skin. Save an indulgent facial I had with a friend as a teenager, I’ve never seen a dermatologist or taken anything specifically for my skin so it didn’t immediately make sense why I would have heard of a medication intended to clear up my daughter’s skin.

On our way home the Medium-sized Human was reading over the fine print that came with her bag full of prescriptions, “Wait. Mom, is this the same stuff you took when you went to Africa?”

Turns out the antibiotic prescribed to treat acne is the same antibiotic used to prevent malaria. And it’s moments like these — moments where my kid rummages through a $50 bag of prescriptions intended to make her look better, prescriptions that could very well save lives in another part of the world — that I have found myself staring down my privilege and feeling very… uneasy with it. It’s not that I feel guilty, or even think that I should feel guilty. In fact, it’s very much the opposite. What a great time and place we live in that my daughter has options like low-dose antibiotics to clear the acne that makes her self-concious.** I certainly don’t feel it would be appropriate or even productive to deny her or girls and boys like her that option.

I just want to be doing something with it. It’s exactly the same thing I said when I came home from Ethiopia. I am compelled to do. Unfortunately, the past year hasn’t given me much opportunity to follow up on that and there is a palpable increase in the intensity of it as a result. I’m not complaining. In fact, I think this is only one of many reasons 2015 is going to be an incredible year. Onward!

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On the pig front, there hasn’t been much action around here lately. Another batch of sows is gearing up to drop a lot of pigs for us after the first of the year. As The Man and I were strategizing the other day I realized that this may well be the first year in quite a few that we have not had Christmas pigs. For the past few years it seems like we’ve had at least one sow give us a litter on Christmas day. Scrooges, anyway.

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*That link to SmartPak isn’t an ad or affiliate link. I don’t get anything if you click it or even buy something. Just sharing what we’re doing.

**Low-dose antibiotics used in humans for non-life threatening conditions and the parallels we could draw to low-dose antibiotic use in farm animals is a topic for another day.

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