Posted tagged ‘Christmas’

“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.”

December 20, 2016

The sun decided to make an appearance today. I guess it is a bit of a reward for surviving the cold of last night. Today is about 40˚,  warm for the depths of winter.

My mother never disappointed us at Christmas. When I was really young, Santa always brought me something from my list. Under the tree, they’d be my big gift, a new game, books, and even clothes. I loved the clothes as they were what everyone was wearing. I remember some of my favorites over the years like the white fluffy sweater, the gold necklace, the ski pants with the loops, the over the head parka with a zippered pocket across the chest, and a wool skirt. The books were classics or mysteries. The games were ones the whole family could play. Santa didn’t take the time to wrap our gifts. They were arranged under the tree. I remember looking over the banister as I walked down the stairs and being thrilled and excited. I might have even squealed with joy.

We had Christmas stockings when we were young, but when we were adults, my mother used all sorts of pseudo stockings like a basket, a really neat shopping bag or something old she’d found like a coal hod. She wrapped every stocking stuffer which heightened the excitement so I always wrapped every stocking stuffer for her and later for my sisters. Now I do the same for my friends. I am a wrapping phenomenon at Christmas.

My dad was never all that excited about Christmas. He would reluctantly open his presents long after the rest of us had finished. When he was a kid, Christmas was not a big deal. It was socks and underwear. My mother, though, loved Christmas and my dad just went with it. He always told my mother not to mention what she’d spent. He had a favorite part of Christmas, the food. He loved all the goodies and would make himself a plate and pour a glass of milk to take into the living room so he could nosh and watch.

Today has no lists. I’m going to hang around the house, maybe do laundry, but the laundry bag is still upstairs. It needs to sit in front of the cellar door for a couple of days before I get to it or I need to run out of underwear, whichever comes first.

“Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind.”

December 18, 2016

No countdown can start until the week before the event. It is a rule. That means the countdown to Christmas begins today. If I were little again, this would be momentous.

The day is damp again. It rained during the night. We are left with warmish temperatures, a bit of a wind and gray skies. I went out on the deck earlier to dump the rain puddles from the table cover. The deck got soaked so did my feet.

I’m staying home again today. I don’t mind at all. My house is cozy, and every room is bright with Christmas lights which shine so lovely on a cloudy, dark day.

We used to string popcorn for the tree. We’d sit at the table with bowls of popcorn in front of us and needles thread with thin string in our hands. They were dangerous weapons. Several times we’d prick our own fingers and break the popcorn. Yelps were common. My mother would join our strands to make one long strand of popcorn which was circled around the tree. Shauna, one of my Boxers, would eat the popcorn and drag a strand off the tree to the floor for better access. My father always chuckled. Later, when we were older, we’d string cranberries with the popcorn. They stayed on the tree.

My sister and I were talking last night about our trees. We all buy live trees every year. My family always did. My father and his sister, my Aunt Mary, had a running joke. My mother bought the tree and never told my father the actual price. He’d have been apoplectic. Instead, she’d give him an amount in the $30’s. When my aunt saw the tree, always big and magnificent, she’d ask how much it cost, and my father would tell her. She never believed him. He’d swear it. It was the truth as far as he knew.

“Sometimes me think, ‘What is Friend?’ Then me say, ‘Friend is someone to share the last cookie with.'”

December 4, 2016

Huzzah! Huzzah! My laundry is clean. The hall is empty of filled laundry bags. It was my only accomplishment of the day, but I consider it a huge one. I did binge watch a Netflix series called Between. I reasoned that sitting with pillows behind my back was a necessity as my back was aching from the trips up and down the stairs. In between changing loads from the washer to the dryer I brought up exactly two Christmas decorations. If anyone asks, I can truthfully say I have started decorating.

My heat is cranking. It is cold, down to the 30’s. It is also a gray day. The bare branches have an eerie look against the sky, sort of a Halloween vibe. There isn’t even a breeze. I have to go out later but I’m not looking forward to it. The warm, cozy house is just so inviting.

Gracie has been in and out all morning. She is restless, and I have no idea why. She does like the cold weather so maybe that’s a reason. She does bark, but when I check, I don’t see anyone or anything. Maybe her barking is what keeps the critters at bay.

My sister and I had our usual Sunday conversation. Today we talked food as both of us were watching the food channel with its Christmas programs. Moe is deciding what she’ll make for Christmas Eve when the whole family comes. Fondue is already on her list. She’ll have two fondue pots, one with oil for meat and one with cheese for breads and vegetables. Onion dip, of course, is a must. My mother always had it so the tradition continues. Moe usually has something Mexican like chili verde or corn tortillas. My brother-in-law usually smokes a roast and some chicken. The roast gets cut into bites and is served with a sauce. I’d want a horseradish sauce. Moe is trying to decide which sweets. Whoopie pies and sugar cookies are a must. She’s thinking maybe peanut butter cookies with a kiss in the middle but that’s as far as she’s gotten.

Part of the fun of Christmas is the cooking and baking. The house usually smells great and I swear everything is delicious.

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

March 31, 2016

This morning I woke up with horrendous back pain. I had to grab hold of knobs and corners of bureaus to make it to the bathroom. Happily I got there on time. When I finished, I decided coffee would be the panacea so I tentatively made my way down the stairs and then sat on the couch for a bit feeling quite sorry for myself. I got up, put the coffee on and went to get the papers. I didn’t stop to look at the flowers.

The phone rang. It was the Nielsen people for whom I’ve been keeping track of my radio listening for the past week. They called every day. I didn’t answer after the first two calls because each call had exactly the same script. Today I answered. I shouldn’t have. She read the script so fast I didn’t understand her but I didn’t need to. She was thanking me, wanted to know if I was keeping track each day and would I please send it back on Thursday, today. I then let her have it. Was it necessary to call every day? Did she think I was either dumb as a doornail or had no memory at all so I needed reminding?  Didn’t she understand how intrusive all these calls were?  Here I was doing them a favor and in return they harassed me. She never answered my specific questions. She just read from the script, the same script. There I was asking her if she thought I was dumb as a doornail and she said thank you and don’t forget to send the survey out today; of course, that’s what she said. I doubt the script has a section on what to say to a crazed woman. I said never bother me again and hung up.

It was my back which prompted the nastiness. I needed happy so I called my brother-in-law but got my sister instead who thought the whole incident quite entertaining. She was sympathetic, reminded me to take the pills the doctor gave me and suggested I lie down and watch a movie, a funny movie. She got a chuckle out of my calling Rod so I could hear a happy voice.

I got to thinking about happy and what makes me happy. Being with family and friends is an easy one so I dug a bit deeper. My garden makes me happy especially now when I get to watch the flowers break ground and begin to grow. Hot fudge sundaes with marshmallow instead of whipped cream make me very happy. A lazy day lolling on the couch always makes me happy. Add a good book and I’m nearly delirious with happiness. Chocolates, especially caramels, make me smile, chew a lot but still smile. Christmas makes every part of me happy. Mums and the colors of fall flowers always make me pause to look at how beautiful they are. I can feel the ocean inside me when it has tremendous white caps and a strong wind off the water. Sitting on my deck doing absolutely nothing makes me happy.

Okay, I am sorry for being obnoxious to the phone lady but really only a little sorry. The pill worked, and my back is fine. I’m going out on the deck to fill the bird feeders. I might even make my bed today. That is a sure sign of contentedness. All I needed were a few reminders.

“…freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin – inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night…”

December 1, 2015

Today is a dreary day with dark grey clouds and maybe some rain this afternoon. We can look forward to that forecast for the next three days. It is that same storm which dropped snow and left ice all over the Midwest. We are too warm for the snow and ice for which I am thankful.

So many houses are already lit for Christmas that any ride is a light ride. Last night I took a few side roads on my way home from getting bread and dinner. Many houses have gone all out this year, and there are more colored lights than in other years. They always remind me of my childhood.

I miss my parents and still think to grab the phone to call my mother even after ten years, but it is Christmas time when I miss her the most. My sisters and I laugh and say my mother cursed us with the Christmas bug. We all put lights outside, still buy real trees and have enough decorations for several living rooms. My mother used to say no more decorations then she’d see something amazing and just have to buy it. She’d laugh and tell us she could decorate for years and never repeat ornaments or decorations from year to year.

My childhood tree sat in the corner which usually housed the TV console. It was connected by wires to the windows because it sometimes fell down, being heavier than the stand could hold. I remember holding it up by the trunk while my father attached the wires. I hated that job as I always had branches sticking in my face because I was reaching through the branches to the trunk of the tree.

When we decorated, my mother always put the really big glass ornaments around the top branches as those were her fancy ornaments, and she was afraid we’d break them. I have one of those ornaments and, of course,  it goes up top. Those trees of my childhood had bare spots between the branches, and we’d put things like the Coca Cola Santa and a few cards we kept from year to year in the middle of the bare spots.

When we were older, my mother always bought the most gorgeous trees. It was a joke between her and my father. He’d ask the price of the tree, and my mother would say $20 or $25 when it was really $40 or more. My aunt would visit and remark on how beautiful the tree was, and my father would tell her $20.00 knowing full well my mother had paid much more. My aunt always scoffed at my father. That was part of the fun.

“But I love Halloween, and I love that feeling: the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking around the corner.”

October 31, 2015

Every kid’s calendar had only three days circled. The biggest and the best day of all was Christmas. Weeks of anticipation, making and changing lists for Santa and decorating the house and tree helped to make the time pass, but it passed ever so slowly, especially Christmas Eve. The second best day was Halloween. What will I be this year was the most important question and a topic of great discussion walking to and from school. The third circled day was our birthdays. They didn’t need any preparation and were anticipated but not with the same level of excitement as the other two days. My birthday came with a present, a few cards, always one with two dollars from my grandmother, and a cake. Blow out the candles, eat cake, open presents, and it’s over for another year. Christmas and Halloween seemed to last days. They had a before and an after.

Going to school on Halloween always seemed wrong somehow. We fidgeted and clock watched the whole day. I doubt we learned anything as our minds and imaginations were filled with costumes and candy. Arithmetic had no chance.

I remember the afternoon lasted nearly forever, not as long as Christmas Eve but a close second. We’d eat dinner then pester my mother to let us leave. She always said it was too early. We kept watch at the window hoping to see a treat or treater so we could prove my mother wrong. Finally we’d get to leave.

First we did the neighborhood then the side streets near the house. I have memories of leaves blowing, street lights shining on the sidewalks, walking all over town and eating as we walked. When house lights finally started going out and few trick or treaters were still around, we’d head home stopping now and then at a lit house.

Once home, we’d empty our bags into big bowls and do a bit of trading. We’d throw away the popcorn balls. My mother took the apples. They’d get eaten at another time. We’d eat a few more bars of candy then the bowls had to be put away. Though the evening was officially over, the candy lasted for days.

“I like dressing in all seasons. Every season has its own character and charm.”

April 13, 2015

Today is such a glorious Cape spring day with the usual bit of a chill in the morning air, lots of sun and a deep blue sky. My small dafs have bloomed, and my hyacinth has broken through its greenery and stands tall. The birds are at the feeders in big numbers. I love watching them. Dare I say winter has finally skulked away?

As a kid, I wasn’t all that attentive to the changing seasons until spring gave way to summer and vacation. I always saw the seasons as their events. Fall was the start of school and Halloween. One event was dreaded while the other meant weeks of chatting with friends as we walked to school about what we’d wear and where we’d go. Halloween was a countdown event. Winter was Thanksgiving and Christmas, the best holiday of them all. It wasn’t just the arrival of Santa which made Christmas so special. It was everything about it. The anticipation made us giddy. We had a tree and house to decorate, window lights to turn on every night, cookies to bake, wish lists to make and shopping to do. We had a ride to see the lights. Christmas was the best countdown event of them all.

It was a good thing Christmas was so busy as the rest of the winter was sort of empty of all but wishes. We wished for snow and a day off from school hoping to break the tedium. We ice skated on the town rink and at the swamp, my favorite spot. We were in the house early because the dark came so quickly. I didn’t have the sense of winter I do now. Back then it was filled with possibility. Now I mostly feel cold and complain a lot.

Spring had Easter and new clothes, new shoes and Easter baskets. It was riding my bike. It was color returning to the world. It gave me a sense of freedom. I think that’s what I remember the most.

Marching in the Memorial Day parade as a brownie and later as a girl scout was the first sign of summer. It was always sunny and warm that day or at least that’s how I remember it. The end of school was close.

Summer had July 4th but it didn’t really need it. The summer had long days to fill and Sundays at the beach and that would have been enough, but having July 4th was like adding hot fudge sauce to ice cream.

I am still loving the coming of spring with its warmth and color. Spring is filled with anticipation. Summer is still long days to fill but it’s movies on the deck and barbecues.

Now I see the seasons as their own events, as changes, as us moving in a circle. I think my favorite change is this one, the coming of spring. Every day brings surprises. How wonderful is that?