Friday, December 31, 2010

"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" - Part 3

According to the calendar, Christmas was officially over.  For most people the day after Christmas was just a fairly ordinary Sunday.   For my nearest and dearest, however, we did a quick rewind and went back two days.  In our house, Christmas Eve was back!!  Take Two! 

My darling daughter, who knows me pretty much inside out and feels pretty much the same about tradition, didn't even mention her earlier request that we pack up everything and cart it all to her house.  Nope!  Ratchlet, Todd, Maddie, AND Dora, the new dog all came to our house just like always.  Except for all of the doggie paraphernalia they brought, they only had to carry their things one way....home at the end of the evening.

Of course, Maddie discovered the stash of presents from Santa practically the moment she came into the house so she was content that she hadn't lost out on her gifts!  (She is only 9, you know.)

Dora had a grand time exploring our house, she was very well behaved and a pleasure to have as part of our family. It was nice to have a dog around for awhile again.

Ratchlet and M-t-G were feeling fine and even TA, felt a lot better than he had on Friday night.

We pretty much had a repeat of the whole Christmas Eve tradition.  We hadn't eaten most of the food, so even the menu was the same.  We didn't go to look at the decorated houses, but the need to do that wasn't pressing, as Santa had already visited.

We ate, cleaned up, and proceeded to move on to M-t-G's favorite parts....the presents!

Maybe it was an offshoot of having our celebration at the tail end rather than the beginning of Christmas, but one of the best things that happened was that the whole evening was relaxed.  There was none of the usual frenzy.  We took our time and were able to enjoy every one's reactions and presents.  It was lovely!  There was peace and joy and tradition practically dripping over us like honey! 

After we finished the gift giving we took a bit of a break for dessert, Mikey's Pecan unqualified success every time he makes one and M-t-G's absolute favorite dessert.  And we finished up with the stockings....always find fun stuff in the stockings!

All of my angst and crankiness from the day before had disappeared.  We listened to Christmas music CDs which meant we got to choose what to hear!  Everyone seemed happy and there were no visible disappointments. 

Of course, like most things, there were certain things that were more memorable than at other times.  To wit:

**  At some point in the evening TA took Dora out in our back yard....and encountered a possum!!  Dora was ready to take on the possum and the possum appeared ready (and able) to make Dora his late night snack.    In fact, the possum was bigger than Dora! It would have been no contest.  TA was able to get Dora back inside without incident, despite Dora's desire to go tangle with the ugly thing in the backyard.

**Every year after M-t-G was born, my mom sent her a new Teddy Bear for Christmas.  Since my mom died when Maddie was just 3 years old, Little Sis, has continued to send Maddie a new bear "from Great Grandma".  I find that so touching and sweet.  One of the best things is that it gives us a moment to stop and remember my mom and the joy and love she shared with us at Christmas.  (It was a great bear this year, L.S.  Nice job!)

**  Mikey's collection of Nutcrackers grew by two!  Larger than standard nutcrackers the two new guys will have to take up residence on the floor (along side the Toy soldier and the Angel).  Nevertheless, they are very unusual and he loved them!

** Because we just flat out ran out of time, for approximately the fourth year in a row, our Christmas tree was only 90% complete.  No garland or draping stars again!  I swear that I will get them on the tree next year!  I miss them!

** Thanks to Amazon wish lists, everyone got at least a couple of things asked for. This is a Good Thing, particularly for the guys....who are THE most difficult people to shop for in the history of the world!! 

** I showed you the happy ending photo the other day.  It turned out pretty well.  Unfortunately of the over 20 photographs taken, that was the ONLY one that wasn't horribly blurred!!  Cameras hate me....truly they do...and they continue to prove it! 

(I wrote about my history with cameras last year.  If you didn't see that post, check it out here:  One of my favorite postings and worth the read!)

I do want to assure you that we are NOT the most materialistic people in the universe!   I would like to clarify that despite the impression you may have received from this tale, it's NOT all about the presents themselves....well, except maybe for M-t-G (but after all, she is just 9!)   It's about being together and about the love that accompanies each present and the happiness we find in giving.  It's a tradition learned at my mother's knee.  

Finally we finished our postponed Christmas and it was a rousing success all around; well-worth waiting for.  It was a warm, happy, joyous celebration with the people I love best in the world.  Nobody got run over by a reindeer after all, not even Grandma (uhhh, that would be me!) Our Postponed Christmas was more the personification of "There's No Christmas Like a Home Christmas".  And that is as it should be!

Thank you to all my faithful bloggy friends.  I am grateful for each and every visit and comment.  I hope you had a beautiful holiday as well. 

Oh, just one more thing...."God Bless Us, Every One!"

"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" - Part 2

[Yesterday, I promised I'd finish our Christmas story today. 
I am sad to report I didn't get it all done. 
Can you hold on for one more day
to get to the happy ending??  I sure hope so! 
In the meanwhile, here's Part 2!]

Christmas Day!  Morning arrived (right on schedule), Santa had been here, unopened presents all over the living room, Christmas music playing, but there was no one here but the Big Guy and me.  The presents around the tree remained undisturbed. 

Ratchlet, TA, M-t-G, and the new dog were at their own home; opening presents there I'm sure.  But not us.  That's okay, we were able to sleep late, relax, watch a Christmas movie (off and on), and generally take our time to get ready before heading over to TA's mom's house for Christmas dinner and assorted merriment.

Unfortunately, I didn't have much of a Christmas feeling.  Everything was all out of kilter and it made me cranky and sad.  Over the course of the day I had words with the Big Guy and even with M-t-G....sometimes she can test my patience with very little effort (after all, she is only 9).  I was just not in a good place, everything irritated me.  It just didn't feel like Christmas! 

I was missing my mom and missing my dad, Little Sis was at home with her own kids (hardly kids anymore!) in Phoenix.  I hadn't spent Christmas with anyone but Mikey and Ratchlet's family in years and years.  Mom had died in 2004 and Daddy died in 1978, that was 33 years ago!!  Christmas was supposed to be about family and my remaining family was a very small one.  I missed having my aunts and uncles and cousins close by.  Almost all of the aunts and uncles were gone now, cousins were spread to the winds, Mikey's whole family lived far away too. 

Although TA's mom was perfectly gracious, they have their own traditions, but it just wasn't the kind of Christmas I was missing.  At the risk of sounding totally pathetic and wallowing in self-pity, I have no friends of substance here in Austin.  So there I was, cranky, lonely, sad with none of my family, none of Mikey's family, nor any friends' shoulders to cry on.  I was pretty much in the dumper.

To top it off, it was a grey, windy, cold day.  That never helps my mood!  Unfortunately it was cold both inside and outside.  TA's mom keeps her home much cooler than we do. 

I just felt like crying all day long.  When I'm having a bad day like this, my mood just keeps spiraling downward.   I confess that a couple of times I went and shed a few tears in the bathroom.  I did not feel at all jolly!  Plenty sorry for myself, but certainly not jolly! 

I even forgot to make the leek!!  (A traditional dish my family makes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.)  Everything really was out of kilter, but mostly it was just me having such an odd Christmas. 

As I had anticipated, we didn't get home until almost 9:00, so the plan to hold off our gift giving until Sunday was the right plan.  But Christmas - Part 2 was pretty much a bust as far as I was concerned.  So far Christmas 2010 was turning out to be a real low point for filing away in my Christmas memories. 

I was determined, however, that Christmas - Part 3 would get back on track.  Come hell or high water, our Sunday evening Christmas Eve would be a great success, or I would know the reason why!!

Christmas Interruptus!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" - Part 1

 [I know that this posting is longer than "War and Peace",
AND there is another installment to follow.  
 I am unable to write short!!
Please come on back to get to the happy ending! 
I'll try to finish up tomorrow.  Thanks!]

Have you ever said to someone, "I have never (or will never) do [such and such."]?  It is either said or implied that [such and such] is totally outside the realm of possibility.  Well, I'm here to tell you, uttering those words is the kiss of death!  Whatever you are saying wouldn't, couldn't, or didn't ever happen immediately WILL happen.  There's a reason they say, "Never say never!"

The day before Christmas Eve, I was talking with someone about family Christmas traditions, and told him that I had never in my life opened my Christmas presents on Christmas morning or at any time other than on Christmas Eve.  Never ever!  Period.  Full stop.

It was the tradition in my mother's family.  They were German and that's how the German Catholics started their Christmas celebration.  In short, the fun stuff (the tree, Santa Claus -- known as either Christkind or Weihnachtsmann, and the opening of presents all occurs on Christmas Eve.  The religious part (celebrating the birth of Jesus) takes place on Christmas Day.  And that is how we have done it every Christmas of my life....all 64 of them!  I had no reason to expect anything different this year.

Unfortunately, the Christmas gremlins must have overheard my conversation.  They chucked their nasty little tricks into the mix and things did not quite go according to plan.  I'm sure they were laughing the whole time!  Miserable little spoilsports!!

As always the Big Guy and I worked like demons the last couple of days before Christmas Eve to get everything wrapped, all the Christmas decor up and pretty, all of my Christmas plates and serving pieces washed and set out, the food shopped for and ready to serve, the tree completely decorated, floors vacuumed, last minute pick-up, etc. etc.  Ratchlet and her family were due at about 5:30 and she called at 5:20 to say that they would be a little late due to traffic and an accident on the roadway.  I was just finishing putting on my make-up at 5:20 when she called.  So we actually made the deadline with a few minutes to spare!  Yay!  I was very pleased.

A new element had been added to our family very recently.  Ratchlet, TA and M-t-G had just acquired a new dog!  She is a Llasa Apso named Dora.  In retrospect everyone agrees that the timing probably wasn't the best.  Nevertheless, we were looking forward to meeting the new dog and had told Ratchlet it was fine to bring the dog along!  Nothing like a dog to liven things up and bring laughter and joy!

I got a funny feeling we might be in trouble as soon as they arrived around 6:00 pm.  M-t-G came in the door carrying an enormous shopping bag that contained a lot of smaller presents.  Evidently it was quite heavy for as soon as she put it down, she threw herself face down on a chair and dramatically moaned a long mournful moan.  Good Grief!  I asked what was wrong.  "Headache" as she moaned some more. 

Ratchlet came in a few seconds later also carrying a bunch of things.  Her face looked all scrunched up and painful.  "What's the matter?"  asked I.  "The weather changed today so as always, I got a Migraine!"   Uh-oh!  I asked if she had taken her migraine meds and she said she had, but all they do is take the edge off a bit.  It's because of the humidity and air pressure changes.  Swell, nothing I can do to change that!

As far as I could tell, the new dog was no where in sight,  "Puppy problem already???" I asked.  No, they decided to let the dog stay at home because it seemed like a good idea to just let her settle in to her new home.  OK, that made sense! 

TA came up the rear also carrying stuff.  (Ummm, have I ever mentioned we really have a lot of presents at Christmas??  I mean a LOT of presents.  We do!)  He looked a little peaked and I asked, "How are you?  "Sore Throat", he replied..... Great!  Three for Three!  They ALL looked miserable.

Before they got too far into removing coats and settling in.  I asked if they were sure they wanted to do this tonight.  Santa hadn't come yet, the food could easily be wrapped up and saved for the next day, we could just postpone.  I think Ratchlet was a bit tempted (she was worried about leaving the dog), but M-t-G was dead set against leaving.  "But it's Christmas!" she wailed (after all, she's only 9.)   TA said, "It's just a sore throat."  (He's not 9, but he is a guy! They tough it out!)  So the consensus was on with the show!  Oh Goodie!!

As is our custom we decided that we would eat first, then go to show Maddie some of the great decorations in the neighborhood, then when we came back Santa would have arrived and we would proceed with opening the presents.  M-t-G wasn't too thrilled with having to wait and said she wasn't hungry.  I asked her if we let her have one present to open would she then come and eat without complaint until we were all done?  She agreed (she is only 9 after all).  We all agreed it was a plan and so we proceeded.   It turned out that we each opened one gift and then went in to eat.  (I guess we're all 9 at heart!)

Now this is not a new plan.  We have followed the same pattern ever since M-t-G was old enough to understand about Santa!  It is essentially the same pattern that was followed in my family for my whole life.  Even the foods served didn't vary by much each year.  Nevertheless, we all sort of pretend it never happened that way before, I don't know why exactly.  I think it has a lot to do with preserving the illusion of Santa's arrival.  (In anticipation of presents, Maddie's questioning of the reality of Santa had disappeared by the time actual Christmas Eve had arrived.  She is only 9 after all!)

The Christmas Eve food is always a "nibblies" buffet sort of thing....several different cheeses, cubed sausage, sliced roast beef and ham for mini-sandwiches, pickles, olives, dips, crackers, watermelon pickles (when I can find them!), Chicken-in-a-Bisquit crackers which are not eaten at any other time of the year. (traditional because Ratchlet loved them when she was a child.  I think she has two or three each year...but they've GOT to be there!), sometimes veggie sticks, sometimes cole slaw or potato salad, sometimes something new we've never tried.  Each year it's mostly the same, but it's never exactly the same.  It's tradition.

(Sounds like I should be humming "Tradition" from "Fiddler on the Roof" while I write this!)

But I digress!

While the rest of us were setting out the food (because of it's nature, most of it can't be set up too soon or it will dry out, spoil, get yucky, etc.).  Anyway, while we were doing that Ratchlet gave M-t-G a Tylenol and asked her to help put things out.  Maddie "helped" for about 15 seconds (she is only 9 after all!) and then she went to lie down on the sofa with her arms over her eyes till she was called to eat. 

We filled our plates and adjourned to the table to enjoy the bounty.  Things were going along swimmingly for about 15 minutes, when suddenly T.A. began to feel unwell.  The "bounty" wasn't agreeing with him at all.  Now in addition to the sore throat, he had an upset stomach.   He left the table to go lie down on the same sofa that Maddie had just vacated.  M-t-G just nibbled at her food (no joke intended!).  Ratchlet still had a scrunched up, pinched look, meaning her head still hurt.  Not a good sign....nope, not going well at all!  None of them were seriously ill, so I wasn't actually worried, but it was kind of a downer, ya know? 

So once again I told them they should just go home and we would have our Christmas the next day.  Ratchlet was worried about TA, the new dog, and she still had the migraine.  TA had fallen asleep on the sofa.   M-t-G was disappointed but she had at least one gift, so she didn't seemed all that upset at the prospect.  So they decided (actually Ratchlet decided) it would be better all around for them to go home.  The Big Guy and I were supportive of that decision.  They were all either sick, cranky, or worried....not the best of moods for Christmas anyway!

As TA was still sleeping, Ratchlet helped us put away the food that was left.  There was just one more thing to do before they could leave.  Every year since Ratchlet was born, I have given her a Christmas outfit on Christmas Eve.  After M-t-G came along, she got one too.  Frequently they are then actually able to wear something new on Christmas Day.  So before they could pack up and go, Ratchlet and M-t-G opened their Christmas outfit presents, which were a hit.  Yay, something was going right!

As they started to gather up their stuff that was ready to go home, we started talking about plans for Christmas - Part 2.  We realized that the next day was Christmas Day and we were committed to dinner and such at TA's mom's house.  We knew we wouldn't be home early enough to have our Christmas that evening.  Sooooo, we agreed to put off Christmas - Part 3 to Sunday evening.  Ratchlet had a work commitment earlier in the day, so she asked if we would be willing to pack up the rest of the presents plus whatever Santa brought and bring it all down to their house just to simplify their schedules.  The Big Guy readily agreed on our behalf.  I wasn't thrilled with that idea, but these were turning into extraordinary circumstances.

So finally they were ready to go and our Christmas was officially postponed.  M-t-G was not happy about leaving all the rest of her presents at our house.   I promised to bring all the things from Santa and all the other presents to her house on Sunday evening without fail.  She sort of accepted that but there were a few tears shed. (What did we expect?  She is just 9 years old!)

As Ratchlet came to give us a hug goodbye, I realized she had tears also!  Oh no!!  Was everybody going to cry??  They were sick.  They weren't having a good time!  No need to cry!!  Well, they managed to bring the tears under control and went back from whence they came.

As we watched them drive away, I turned to Mikey and said, "Well, that was fun."  I looked at the time and saw it was just 8:00 pm.  Christmas Eve had lasted all of 2 hours!    We had madly cleaned and decorated and wrapped and all the rest for a 2 hour Christmas! 
I went around and straightened up a bit.  I realized that the Big Guy was going around blowing out all the candles.  "Hey, wait a minute.  It's still Christmas for us!!  Don't blow out the candles."  So he stopped, but then went to "his" chair and turned on the TV,  and plopped himself down.   Although there were presents to each other, opening them was not considered.   I went to play computer games like always.  I guess Christmas - Part 1 was over! 
To be continued . . . .

Christmas Postponed!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

"The 12 Days of Christmas"

On the second day of Christmas.....

....there's a fairly long story to tell, but it has a happy ending.
The story will come in a day or two, but the happy ending is shown above!  I hope your Christmas was also filled with joy!

p.s.  Maddie was sitting on an ottoman, she really is a bunch taller than that!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2011 Wallpaper

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Just A Little Break for a M-t-G Moment!

I mentioned that M-t-G is struggling with the whole Santa issue this year.  Her dad was telling her that putting a Christmas List together just a few days before Christmas might not be very successful.  The family had already finished their shopping and it was probably too late for Santa to buy anything more. 

"Aha!" she broke in, pointing her finger emphatically.  "You said BUY.  Santa doesn't BUY, he MAKES!"


"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" -- Ho Ho....HA!

There are basically two kinds of people --- those who always get things done on time (or even ahead of time) and those who always end up scrambling at the last minute!  The first type have time to do everything they want for the holidays and still have time to sit and enjoy the fruits of their labors before the actual event.  This type even has time to keep up to date on their blogging!  

The second type doesn't!  Period! 

Guess which type I am!!

Just in case this is the only time I manage to post anything over the next three days, I want to sincerely wish all of my lovely new friends in blogland a beautiful Christmas filled with all things cherished and surrounded by those you love! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Bring the Torch, Jeannette Isabella"

A lot of what makes Christmas so magical and beautiful happens at night.  If you are like me, when darkness falls and the lights come on, that's when I get all misty-eyed over how pretty everything looks....the tree, the mantle, the Nativity, the bright and shiny figures that fill every flat surface.  All the glitter and glow fills the house and it feels like Christmas.

I think it's always been like that; all the way back to the time when the first person decided to put candles on the tree.  That must have been beautiful!  Dangerous beyond belief, but beautiful!!  The earliest trees that I remember in our house had several strings of lovely multi-colored bulbs.  Mom used silver tinsel (meticulously draped one or two strands at a time) on the tree for years.  The lights reflecting on the tinsel multiplied the lights exponentially.  Gorgeous!

The lights were about the size of a night light bulb, but they were pointy.  Man, did those things get HOT!  Mom was vigilant about never leaving them on if no one would be home, which was a very good thing, I think!  We were very fortunate though; we never had any type of incident!

The only other thing that was lit each year was the Nativity set.  It was set up inside a wooden "stable" (actually it was made by Gramps to be the Train Station for someone's train set, I don't ever remember having a train set, but that's not important; somehow it morphed into our stable.)  It was a rather odd structure with two windows of different sizes and a large arced opening on the front.  It was painted silver with green trim around the odd-sized windows....all in all a rather strange stable but Mom used it every Christmas that I can remember.  She would use a string of the tree lights to drape all around and in the stable and one the roof.  There was a thick layer of "snow" on the roof but the cotton....uhm....snow was always cleared away from each individual bulb.  If you squinted a little bit the whole thing looked lovely! Again, never had an incident.  Even after all these years that still amazes me!  The Nativity set and stable lives with Little Sis now.  I don't know if she uses it.

The appearance of the little "Italian" lights was perhaps one of the great safety inventions ever!  Overnight, EVERYBODY switched over to those little lights.  They hardly even got warm, not nearly as dangerous!  Every mom in America breathed a huge sigh of relief!!

The first year we were married we bought a real tree, but that was the only year we did.  We got a beautifully shaped artificial tree that we used for years and years.  We loved that tree!

When we were first married we had lights on the tree and that was it.  I considered myself lucky to have that.  You see, the Big Guy was in charge of putting the lights on the tree.   It was a major exercise in how much angst and swearing and throwing things can one man display and still manage to get the job done and remain married and alive!!  Every branch HAD to be lit in just exactly the "right" way.  It took several sessions of work  and stomping away in a snit to finally get it done!  It took me years to learn that the best thing I could do to help was to get OUT of the house when he was working on it!  (Believe me, sometimes being a perfectionist, is a curse!)

It always looked beautiful, but I would have gladly traded perfect for peace!!  Nevertheless, he took the job seriously and wouldn't let anyone help; nor would he relax his standards in any way.  He would just swear and yell and scare the bejesus out of Ratchlet and I until he got it the way he wanted it!  Then we would proceed to do the rest and have a beautiful, happy, and wonderfully lit Christmas.
Of course, every year we got a lot more lights than we ever did before because each year we added a new something that lights up.  Christmas became a festival of lights!  Beautiful!

After we moved to Austin, our lovely tree finally gave up the ghost and we had to replace it.  So we got one that had the lights actually ON THE TREE.  Lots of lights already attached!!  O joy, O rapture!!  No more strings to untangle, no more trying to find the burned out bulb that knocked out the whole string, no more hours and hours spent getting the lights "just so", and best of all, no more yelling, swearing, or angst about lighting the tree!!  O what a happy day!!

So now we have 2000 lights on the tree.  We have lighted wreaths, lighted garlands, lighted figures, lighted outdoor figures, lighted make believe candles,  lighted angels!  When the December electric bill comes, I don't even blink....just pay it and say, "Ah well, its for Christmas!"

I wouldn't change a bit of it.  It's just the way it is.  Lights and Christmas are a tradition, albeit one that is a lot safer than just having a few lit candles on a real tree.  That's a great example of mixing tradition and technology! 

"Bring a Torch, Jeannette Isabella" was the only way of lighting the original manger.  Now, over 2000 years later, we still bring lights of all sizes, shapes,  and colors, to celebrate that same event, the birth of one small baby boy who changed the world and brought light to us all!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Bits and Pieces" (Christmas version)

Just a little bit of this and some pieces of that all about the Christmas Season:

***  There is an auto repair place not far from here that periodically displays one of those lighted signs that looks like a theater marquee.  They put up various clever and witty signs relating to auto repair, such as, "Brakes need attention?  Stop in while you still can!"  A few days ago they put the sign out with red and green lights.  It said, "Do You Hear What I Hear? ---- or is it intermittent?"  Not the funniest one they've done, still it's in the spirit of Christmas!  Good one, guys!

*** "My Favorite Things" (from Sound of Music) is NOT a Christmas song!!  I don't care what anybody says!

*** There are currently three radio stations around here that are playing all Christmas music.  I am thrilled to report that they are mostly playing "good" versions of the Christmas songs by actually talented singers!!  While I am reluctant to claim all the credit for it, would it be presumptuous of me to think they might have read my plea about dumping most of those painful "carols" that dominated years past??   Yeah, I know!  I didn't have anything to do with it....but I'm glad just the same!

*** I have been putting out Christmas decorations for the last two weeks!  It's not that I have that much stuff exactly.  It just isn't much fun doing it by myself.  I get distracted, or bored, or just lazy and don't put much out on any given day.  I do have a lot of stuff, but I'm closing in on it, really!  There are still two rather major "collections" to put white Santas and Mikey's Nutcrackers.  Then all that will be left is to actually decorate the tree!   Sigh....Anybody want to come help???  Pretty please???

*** I am very nearly finished with the shopping for Christmas!  Yay!  We got an earlier start than usual and had a very successful initial  shopping trip.  In addition I ordered several things online and have received the first half of them.  Today I went and finished up the clothes buying (there are females in my family, so of course, there are some clothes!)  There are just a couple of things more, but I know exactly what I want and where to get them which is a BIG help.  Of course none of it is wrapped....but hey, I still have 10 days right?

*** In the past couple of years Mikey has taken a lot of time off at Christmas (he has a lot of vacation time that he needs to use).  This year he'll be off from 12/18 through 1/2.  He needs the time, he works so hard.  Of course, being home will probably lead to at least a few jobs around here.  I'm hoping though, that there will be some time to bake cookies and such!  I think we'll remember how!

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Here Comes Santa Claus"

Grown-ups really don't realize just how smart their little kids are.  Kids are always being underestimated, especially by those who aren't around little kids very much.  If you've had several children of your own, you have a better shot at knowing your kids' capabilities....but even that is no guarantee!  I would bet that a very high percentage of individuals could tell of a time in their childhood, when an adult seriously underestimated them while they were young.

I have written that my mom was the middle child in her family where there were eleven siblings.  The oldest child was my Aunt G.  She was somewhere between 7 and 13 years older than my mom.  I'm not sure I ever knew exactly what that span was.  Because Aunt G. was so much older, she and my mom never really had any interaction until they were both adults with kids of their own.  Then there was a period of time (albeit a short one) when they spent a bit of time together.

When I was 4 1/2, my Aunt G invited my mom and I to the Christmas Party of a club she belonged to.  It was some sort of women's auxiliary or benevolent society that went around doing Good Works and having Bunco parties!  Anyway, I was so excited to go to this party.  There was going to be presents, and cookies, and Santa was going to be there!!  What kid wouldn't be excited about all that!  I looked forward to the party for days, badgering my poor mother to death wanting to know if today was the day!  Finally, it was! 

The party was in the evening, and now, all these years later, I don't remember much about it at all.....except for one very important thing.  The highlight of the evening, of course, was the visit by Santa Claus.  Just like all the kids I was so excited, I was jumping up and down, until I saw Santa walk in the room.  All the kids hurried to get lined up to sit on Santa's lap....all the kids, that is, except me. 

I flat out refused to have anything to do with Santa at all.  My mom and my aunt kept encouraging me to get in line but I kept refusing.  Mom didn't understand it at all, I had been talking about nothing else for days!  I think she was somewhat embarrassed that I wouldn't line up; after all, we were there as guests of her sister and I was acting like a little ingrate!    They kept asking me why I wouldn't get in the line.  Didn't I want to talk to Santa?  Didn't I want to get the present?  The only thing I would say was "That's not Santa Claus!"   "Of course, it's Santa.  He's wearing the red suit and he has a big sack full of presents, and look at the long white beard!"

Nothing they said convinced me otherwise.  I had wanted to sit on Santa's lap, but that wasn't Santa, so I wanted nothing to do with the whole thing!  Of course it kept escalating as I got more and more upset at being pushed to do something I didn't want to do.  Of course, I ended up in tears.  I was 4 1/2 years old, I didn't know how to cry quietly, if I was unhappy, EVERYBODY knew it!!

Finally, after what seemed to me like an eternity, my mom asked why I was so sure that wasn't Santa.  None of the other kids were having a problem, they all believed it was Santa, so how come they believed it but I didn't??  What made me so sure it was not Santa?

I replied, "Santa doesn't wear ladies shoes!  Santa is a man but that is a lady!"

My mom stopped pushing me to get in line, she apologized to Aunt G for my crying scene, but she told Aunt G, "She's right, Santa doesn't wear heels and stockings.  That can't be Santa."  I don't remember anything more about that party after that, except I was the only kid who didn't talk to Santa.

My mom and Aunt G had a serious falling out a couple of years later.  It started over me not finishing a glass of milk (really, the things people fight about!!!) and escalated from there.  Aunt G died a few years after that, but I don't believe they ever talked again.

I've always thought that part of the argument had it's beginning back at that Christmas party with it's fake Santa.  To be fair to the organizers of the party, perhaps their Santa couldn't make it at the last minute. Or maybe it was just that as a women's organization, they didn't even think about it.  Santa was all about the padding, the suit, the hat and the beard.  They had all of that, so who would care?

Nobody, I guess, except for one pretty smart little girl whose ability to recognize facts was quite high, but seriously underestimated!

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Things I Couldn't Say" (aka Dear So and So....)

Dear School Administrator,

Dear So and So...As a grandparent I love to support all the activities my M-t-G participates in!  Last night I went to the choir Winter Concert and enjoyed hearing the children sing very much.  It is a wonderful experience for kids to have!  Everyone in my family loves to sing and has done so all the way back to our grammar school days!  It's a family tradition.   
However, last night I found out that M-t-G's school only has the choir for the Fall semester!  It ends at Christmas and doesn't return until next Fall.  I do not know the reason.  I suppose there is some logical, reasonable, and appropriate reason for this situation.  Whatever the reason, it's a DAMN SHAME!  One semester is just about long enough to get the kids familiar with what written music looks like and means and to fall in love with the job of group singing.  Then, boom, cold turkey!  M-t-G is extremely disappointed and sad.  So are the rest of us!

Please fix this NOW!

Thank you,
M's Grammy


Dear Neighbors,

Your houses are looking really great!  We just love the variety and creativity of your displays!  They just get better every year!  Whoo Hoo!!

Santa's Elves


Dear M-t-G,

I know you're struggling with what you believe and what you don't believe about Christmas and Santa.  I'm sorry we made you mad the other night at dinner.  We were teasing and both your Mom and I forgot how much you hate to be teased!  We just aren't quite ready to let go of our "little" Maddie.  It's hard for grown-ups to watch our favorite little kids turn into mini-grown-ups.  Hold on to childhood for as long as you can, honey!  It doesn't last as long as you think.  It may seem hard to you now, but really someday you'll realize how much simpler life was when you still believed in Santa Claus!

All my love,


My Darling Daughter,

Just a tiny reminder that no matter what crops up in your life, you continually astound me with your abilities and caring!  You are usually your harshest critic (as we all are sometimes), but you sometimes don't appreciate your strengths!  I watch you juggle all that is going on in your life and I am so proud of the person you are.  You are the best person I know and as I have always said, you are the best thing that ever happened to me.  I can't imagine a better daughter or a better person!



Dear Spirit of Christmas Present,

Could you please send a little more "oomph" my way?  I have tons to do before the holiday and so far, I only seem to find little spurts of energy to do any of it!  I have lots of Christmas spirit, but without the "oomph" not enough is getting done each day.  I need your help, pretty please!

Mel, the Christmas Slug

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Deck the Halls"

One of the best things about the Christmas season is the decorating that exists just about everywhere -- the stores, the churches, the neighborhoods, the civic buildings, sometimes even bridges and roads!  It makes everything so festive and lovely, not just in your own home and yard, but all around in many unexpected places. I think it's great and it's growing every year!

Part of the reason it's growing is the wonderful new figures, letters, lights, designs and decorations that come out each year.  It's really hard to resist some of the new things that are available. I don't know if it's a little bit of a competitive spirit or not wanting to be left out....I guess there are lots of different reasons why more and more people  "Deck the Halls" of their homes and apartments; whatever the cause, I'm all in favor of it!

I took a drive around my neighborhood this evening, just looking at each "holiday house" and listening to Christmas music.  I don't often have an opportunity to do the full tour, but this year tons of folks have their lights and ornaments already up and blazing.  (Is it my imagination or are the decorations going up earlier and earlier every year??) 

This neighborhood (OK, it's really a development, but I'd rather live in a neighborhood, so that's what I call it!), has an extremely wide range of housing types, from about 2,200 sq ft, one story homes for far less than $500,000 all the way up to the newer sections with $5M-$10M mansions that are downright unbelievable.  (We do NOT live in one of them!) 

It appears to make no difference what type of home either!  At this point I'd say approximately 2/3 of all the houses are decorated in some way.  Some are totally covered with lights....outlining the house, in every tree, in every window, in every shrub, with Santas, and reindeer, and gift boxes, sleighs and more!  They are almost overwhelming, there is so much to see!  I cringe thinking of their electric bill!  Others are very simple and tasteful with just a wreath or two and a bit of garland.

When we first moved here ten years ago, we were one of a few decorated houses in our immediate area.  We had always decorated outside, ever since we bought our first house in Chicago, eons ago!  Well, actually the Big Guy decorated outside.  I just provided the inspiration (or threat, depending on your point of view!)  There are about 20 houses visible from our driveway. As owners have come and gone over the years those who do lights and those who don't keep changing.  This year there are lights on 12 of those houses already! That's the most ever! 

The young man who lives next door to us moved in about 5 years ago.  He travels a lot for work, so we don't know him very well.   He was a typical bachelor kind of guy.  His dining room has a pool table and nothing else!  When there is an important sports event that is being televised he has a bunch of friends over to watch on his big screen TV.  He never even put a wreath on the door in years past, much less anything else Christmas-y!  But this year???  He was working in his yard this past Sunday, just before dark.  He put lights on the 3 trees in his front yard.   He has decked the halls!   Nothing much else is different as far as I can tell....dining room pool table still in place, still traveling and working hard.  But there are lights outside!  I just love it!

p.s.   Ummm, did I happen to mention that he got married last winter?    Yep, and this Christmas he's got lights!  It's all about the inspiration (and the threats!)  Absolutely cracks me up!!! 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Must Be Santa"

Santa Claus and childhood go together.  In every family that celebrates Christmas, Santa is usually a big part of what the kids like best! Presents! You can't blame them really.  Who wouldn't like to know there is someone out there whose sole purpose and occupation is manufacturing and giving away presents EVERY YEAR to EVERYBODY who has been GOOD???

Little children wholeheartedly believe what their parents start out telling them and Santa represents something joyful that they want their children to experience.

I certainly was a big believer and I strove especially hard around the middle of November to be good, knowing that being good was the requirement to stay on Santa's good side!  I no longer remember for sure about other kids I went to school with.  Didn't everyone still believe in Santa year after year like I did?  I have no recollection of any smart-aleck kid going around spreading the bad news that Santa wasn't real!

In fact the only one who ever said anything of the sort to me was my teen-aged Uncle Joe.  When I was around 3 or 4 I stayed with my Grandparents for a few weeks because my mom was in the hospital (recovering from an appendectomy).

Anyway Uncle Joe was only about 14 or so and thus, still lived at home.  I can remember vividly that he would tickle me and tease me, and as the topper he would growl, "Awww, there ain't no Santy Claus!!"  This, of course, would first make me mad, then I'd cry and go running off to my Gram to tell her what he said.  She would cuddle me and soothe me and reassure me that he was just teasing because that's what boys do!  Of course, there was a Santa Claus!  And if I was a good girl he would come to my house at Christmas and leave lots of presents, just for me!

So I KNEW there was a Santa because my Gram told me so!  And everybody knows Grandmas always tell the truth!

 When I was 6 or so, we moved to Florida and settled in a small, seaside town about midway between Jacksonville and Miami.  Although many years later it bloomed into a much larger, more affluent community, back then the population was still under 8,000.  In the early and mid-1950s, TV had not yet burst upon the home entertainment industry.  Radio was the thing!

Even this small town had its own locally owned and operated radio station!  WTTB, Where The Tropics Begin, were the call letters of the station.  It was an independent station which did its own programming, local news, sponsored by the shops and businesses the whole town used.  Each year WTTB had a show every night for a few weeks before Christmas, where Santa Claus would read letters he had received from the kids right there in our town.  Wow!

 Although we were originally from Chicago, I had no difficulty adjusting to the warmer weather all year round.  Who needs cold weather?  In cold weather I got sick!  In warm weather, I didn't.  It was a no brainer....why would I ever want to go back to cold, snowy, icy Chicago?  I was going to stay in Florida forever!  Not even the lack of snow at Christmastime bothered me.  Santa still came.  He was on the radio!  He still left lots of presents just for me!

 So I continued along all through 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd and 4th Grades....still believing in Santa without question!

Then came 5th grade.  5th grade was that pivotal year, the year I began to question the existence of Santa!!  I wasn't exactly sure....I was sort of sure that he wasn't real, but I wasn't absolutely positive.  I asked my mom all about it and she had an answer for every question I asked!

*No chimney?  ---  Santa was magic and could get in easily.

*No snow for reindeer to land in? --- They could land in sand!

*Did reindeer really fly? --- Of course, how else would Santa get around in one night?   (She was a crafty one, my Mom!)

Well, it wasn't enough for me.  I still wasn't sure.  Mom suggested that I write him a letter and ask him!  So I did....and just in case, I included my list of things that I wanted for Christmas!   (I was pretty crafty too!!)

We sent off my letter addressed to Santa Claus, WTTB, Vero Beach, Fla.   And I settled in waiting for Santa to answer my letter on the radio.  Each evening we would listen to the program and Santa would read letter after letter, but he never read my letter.  I was more and more sure that meant there really wasn't a Santa Claus, but each night mom convinced me to listen again because that night might be the night he read my letter.

When it was just a few days before Christmas and I was finding it harder and harder to think that Santa could possibly be real, finally he read my letter!!  After reading it he said,
"Well, Linda, you've been a pretty good girl this year and that makes me really happy.  Still I think you need to work a little harder on your math homework.  I know that 5th grade math is tough for you, especially fractions.  But I promise that the more you work at it the easier it will get!  And the other thing is, you aren't doing a very good job brushing your teeth.  You know that the dentist told you about paying special attention to those teeth way in the back. You really need to work harder on those back teeth!  Okay?
Then he said, "Linda also asked me a question.  She asked me if I was really, truly sure that Santa Claus was real."  (Then he HoHoHo'ed a bit.)  "Well, Linda, that's kind of a hard question, because I know that I'm real the same way you know you are real.  If I get pinched it hurts.  If I hear a funny joke I laugh.  But I can't prove I'm real any more than you can prove that you are real.  The best we can do is know that as long as other people believe that we are really truly real, then we really, truly are real.  And that is how it will always be.  Now you remember about those fractions and your brushing, okay?  And have a really, truly Merry Christmas!"
How did he know those things??  How did he know just what my dentist said???  He wasn't there, was he?  He "Must Be Santa" Claus, nobody else would know about me and fractions and the dentist.  And he answered my question. he's just as real as I am!  He said so!  There IS a Santa Claus and that was really, truly HIM!!!

I was amazed, I was thrilled, I was laughing, I was happy and dancing around the room, singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town". It was enough to keep me believing in Santa for one more year.

Obviously, at some point I couldn't push it any further and I learned what all the other kids learned and I accepted that your Mom and Dad bought your presents, and that reindeer didn't fly, and that there was no such thing as elves!

 But did that mean Uncle Joe was right? "There ain't no Santy Clause???"  No, absolutely not!  That just isn't true.  Even today, 50+ years later, there are still kids all over the world who believe in Santa, so that means that he is still really, truly real.  After all, Santa, himself, told me so!  And everybody knows that Santa always tells the truth!

Friday, December 3, 2010

"I Want a Hippopotamas for Christmas"

Well, no, actually I don't want a Hippo for Christmas (or anything else, for that matter).  I don't usually have anything specific that I do want for myself.  I can put together a "wish list", but it's really more of a "well, I wouldn't mind getting a ____list". 

The truth of the matter is that between the Big Guy and Ratchlet and Lil Sis, I pretty much win the Christmas Lottery!  They usually come up with the best presents!  In fact, they generally go overboard every year, especially the Big Guy!   It gets embarrassing some years when everyone else has opened all of their gifts and I still have some to open. 

Part of that is due to my "getting behind" in the opening rounds.  I love to sit and watch everyone open their gifts.  So I forget to keep opening my own.  I'm always hoping that I got everyone something that hits the mark.  I am just a tad sentimental (ahem) and I like to give something that is one of those "best presents" because it touches them emotionally.  Sometimes I manage it and other times, I don't.  A whole lot depends on the inspiration that I get while shopping.

I am pretty much an impulse buyer.  Oh I still pick up on the hints that crop up in conversation during November and early December, e.g., "Boy, this wallet sure has seen better days"; "Remember that great sweater (insert complete and detailed description of said sweater) that I wore out?  Sure hope I can find one like it again someday."  A person would have to be deaf and blind not to pick up on those hints!

But while I'm in the stores, I will frequently come up with something that nobody has ever mentioned.  I will see things that just sort of jump up and down in the stores saying "pick me"!  And I do!! Those are usually the BEST PRESENTS! Unfortunately, if there aren't a lot of hints, and if nothing in the stores inspires me, I'm left in a pickle.   

I've never been a list maker, so I have nothing to fall back on.  It has generally worked out to some extent but I can't seem to find one of the "best presents" every year. 

I haven't even started any serious shopping and I already have a feeling this is not going to be one of my stellar years.  Have stores cut back their Christmas inventories??  There just doesn't seem to be the same sparkle and excitement and variety that normally accompanies Christmas.  What I have seen is pretty darn boring!  I haven't even heard any Christmas songs over the store speakers!  What's going on?  Is it just me?  Is it the economy? 

The way things look at the moment, I might end up having to get one of those Hippopotamuses for everyone!  I sure haven't seen anything else that I like any better.  I refuse to buy junk, just to have something!!  Anybody know where I can get a few Hippos?? I getting too....(choke).... old for Christmas??? 

"Things I Couldn't Say" (aka Dear So and So....)

Dear Retailers,

Dear So and So...I am about to bite the bullet and head out this weekend to begin the dreaded Christmas Shopping.  Would you please put out the kinds of things I would be tempted to buy?  From the little bit of looking I have done so far, it appears as though all the good stuff is no longer on the shelves!  It is only the 3rd of December, so I know you still have good stuff but have just hidden it away for your own family and friends.  Well, you just hurry up and take it back out of hiding because I AM COMING and I don't want to see any junk!!  I won't be responsible for the consequences, if I can't find good gifts to buy! You have been warned!



Dear Difficult-to-Buy-For Family,

(This means YOU Big Guy and T.A.!) had the inspired idea a few years ago to set up the capability to allow personal Wish Lists.  Please use yours and at least give us a few hints, because if you don't I can pretty much guarantee that you won't end up getting anything you actually want for Christmas.  'Nuff said!



Note to Self: 

Dear Self,

Follow your own advice, Lazybones!!  Your wish list is at least 3 years old!!  Get on it, already!



Dear Santa,

Our not-so-little-anymore M-t-G, is 9 1/2 years old this year and is teetering on the edge of "Does she or does she not believe?!!"  So don't say anything to blow it, kay?  I just wanted to give you a heads up, in case she tugs on your beard, or pokes your belly or snorts when you "Ho Ho Ho!"  She told me that she is going to write a letter to you again this year, but that could be just camouflage.  You just never know with kids at this age. 

Good Luck!
M-t-G's Grammy

p.s.  By the way, what the heck do 9 1/2 year old, bright little girls want for Christmas anyway?   Besides their own computer, I-phone or other trendy things I can't afford!!


Dear Patron Saint of Lost Things,

I'm sorry to bother you, but would you happen to know off-hand what might have happened to this month's Mortgage billing??  I know that it's due and I know I haven't paid it yet, but I can't find the bloomin' thing!  I could really use a little help here.  That big ol' chunk of money is just sitting there waiting to disappear into the mortgage pit, but no bill!  I don't know if I have enough willpower to actually send off that chunk of change unless I have a bill in my hot little hand screaming,  "PAY ME NOW OR WE WILL COME AND TAKE AWAY YOUR HOUSE!!"  (I hate it when it does that!)

It's Christmas time, ya know.  I could get a bunch of really nice presents if I could use THAT money, instead of just that puny little stack of dollar bills that is my "Christmas Money". 

Uhhh, not to pressure you or anything but....could you hurry??

Leaning toward temptation,


Dear Radio Stations,

Those of you that are playing nothing but Christmas music from now until exactly 3:57 p.m. on Christmas Day (which is when you have decided that Christmas is officially over), I thank you.   It's a nice effort....however, would you mind dumping all those recordings that: 

1) are bad remakes of old classic recordings 

2) where the "singer" is vocally sliding up and down to hit every single note in the key before finally landing where they are supposed to be, sort of!

3) where the arrangement is so bizarre that it is impossible to even recognize old, familiar favorites!

On behalf of every person that loves beautiful Christmas Music, I beg you to only play:

1)  Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Harry Simeone Chorale, and other choirs that know how to make choral music beautiful.

2)  Andy Williams, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Barbara Streisand, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme (Are ya' beginning to see where I'm going here???)

3)  Anything by Josh Groban, or The Chipmunks.

Thank you and a Merry Musical Christmas!
(until 3:57 p.m. on 12/25)


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Oh, Christmas Tree"

There are times when I feel like I know every Christmas song ever written....well, at least the old ones.  When you start singing Christmas carols in grade school.....and singing Christmas songs with your mom every night of the season while you do the dishes.....and singing classical Christmas music in H.S. and College choirs.....and singing Christmas ditties along with all your favorite singers on the CDs they produce each year that you simply must have.....and singing Christmas songs along with the radio as you drive around town for the entire month before Christmas, you learn a lot of songs!  A whole lot of songs!!  Everything from "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" to "Oh Holy Night" to Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus".

When my mom was the leader of the Girl Scout Troop I was in, we sang every year at the only Christmas Tree lot in town (it was a very small town!)  I don't remember any more how many years we actually did this, but it seems like it was a lot.  Mom loved to sing, so she was in her element.  We had song books from somewhere and we sang every verse of every song in it.  Some of those songs had three or four verses!  Most of those verses stuck with you after a couple of years singing them. We sang it all a capella too!  Eventually everybody in town came by to get a tree (the idea of an artificial tree would have shocked us all!), and small crowds of people would stop to listen and sometimes even sing along! Of course, we sang "Oh Christmas Tree" more than once.  It was fun and we all had a good time.

This was while we lived in Florida, so although some of those evenings were a little nippy, I don't ever remember getting really cold.  In fact there was one year that I remember, it was jackets for us.  We wore our scout uniforms, otherwise we would have worn shorts that year!  It was warm!

One advantage of being at the tree lot early in the season was that we had early access to getting a great tree, because we sang a couple of times each year (it was a VERY small town with only a few Girl Scout Troops.  Boy Scouts helped the customers carry and load trees....they did NOT sing!)

The year that it was so warm, mom didn't let that deter her from getting that perfect tree.  We found one we liked, carted it home and stuck in on the back porch for a few days till it was time to put it up.  We were still in the midst of the heat wave.   The day came and we all went out on the back porch to bring the tree inside.  I was the door-holder-opener, Little Sis was not in the picture yet, Dad was the tree carrier-inner, and Mom was the Superintendent in charge of fluffing (a very important job, best not left to amateurs!).  While we waited and watched, mom reached into the middle to grab the trunk of our perfect tree, she pulled it upright and lifted it off the floor by a few inches.  She then bounced in up and down, knocking it solidly on the floor.  As Dad and I watched in horror EVERY single needle fell off the tree!  It was almost like a waterfall, all shimmery and beautiful!  When the needles stopped falling, we had a completely and totally naked Christmas Tree.  Seriously, not a needle on it!  All the needles were in a circle around the base of the tree while the three of us just stood there and stared. 

Dad and I wanted to laugh, but one quick look at Mom stopped that urge instantly.  Mom was not happy.  She had always kept the tree outside for a few days when we lived in Chicago!  Nothing like this had ever happened there!!  They must get inferior trees in Florida!  She was fuming!  She went inside, grabbed her purse, and my father's car keys, and said, "Let's go!"  We meekly followed her to the car, and headed back to the tree lot.  She was going to complain about the inferior tree.  When we arrived and walked into the lot, we saw bunches of nice green, healthy looking trees waiting to go home with some happy little family.  It was right about then that Mom noticed that all the trees were sitting in big tubs of water.  You could almost see the lightbulb go on above her head.  She looked at us and sort of muttered, "Don't say anything.  Just don't say anything at all!" 

We picked out another tree, took it home, somewhere on the way home we began to laugh and we laughed and laughed, especially mom.  We put it up that night.  We put it into the tree stand we had used for years....the one that had a little reservoir that held a couple of cups of water....the one that mom had always tested every day and refilled the water every day....both in Chicago and in Florida. 

In Chicago it was ok to let a tree stand outside in the snow for a couple of days of frigid weather.  In Florida there was no snow and the temperature had been lingering in the 80s for days!  But that perfect tree had no moisture to absorb to keep it fresh and green! (It's amazing how we all act from habit at times and don't always realize that the situation is different!)

There hasn't been a Christmas that went by without somebody bringing up the naked Christmas Tree.  Mom always laughed the hardest. 

I could be wrong, but I think she was one of the very first people to purchase an artificial tree.

"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"

"♪♪....everywhere you go. "  Well, everywhere but at my house! I have lots of boxes in the hallway, and a couple of things put out, but it's only about 1/2 of 1% of what we have!

 Before I can really get started there are a couple of things I need. Some pretty wired-ribbon to make a new bow for the mantle wreath, some long tapers, and pears. Pears? Not the eating kind, the decorating kind. Why? It’s a long story (all my stories are LONG!)

 Some years ago at a Christmas Bazaar, I bought a black wrought iron Christmas tree. I just fell in love with it. It's about 3' tall and has four tiers of "limbs" each ending with a small candle holder, spikey-thing to hold a candle. There are about 6 holders per tier.

When M-t-G was a toddler, I didn't want to put real candles on it because she was mobile and curious and into everything (I think she was 2-3).  So in a flash of inspiration, I decided this would be my Pear Tree (you know, the one with the Partridge in it!)  I found some wonderful sparkly pear ornaments but could only get ten, so I used little copper bows on the remaining holders.  The first year, I used a little miscellaneous bird (that I usually had on the big tree) for the partridge.  Anyone who knew anything about birds, knew it wasn't anywhere close to a partridge, so I went on a hunt to find a partridge that wasn't breakable or too big or garish or "cutesy". I wanted the perfect one! It took a while but I finally found one I liked.

And the Pear Tree has been a part of Christmas ever since.

I took this photo last year just before we were taking everything down for the year, that's why there are various odd colored bits on the table below. If you look really closely at the lower left corner you can see the front part of the sparkly Partridge that I found.

The color in the photo isn't quite true, the bows are more of a burnished copper color, very rich-looking, and the pears are more green. It is really pretty, especially with the softer lights in the evening.

Now if you zero in on the pears you can see that the glittery stuff is coming large clumps! They look like they're molting or something.  I suppose that's understandable.  They are coming up on 10 years old.  It's too bad because the whole thing worked pretty well and I really liked my tree.  So I want to replace them.

Thus, after lunch today, I thought I'd pop into Michael's to see what I could find. Well, the short answer to what I found is Absolutely Nothing!  Michael's stock had been depleted, picked over, broken, and a mess! I walked all over that store, looking under, behind, and between all sorts of stuff I didn’t want.

After much looking all I could find was one bag of tiny (1 ½”) green pears….too small; a bag of 5 life-sized Red pears….too big and too bright…and a centerpiece with a few pretty medium-sized, green glittery pears….on sale for only $15 each, of which they had 3. The problem was that I would have needed 5 of them to harvest enough pears!  No way was I going to chase all around town to the other Michael’s and then spend over $75 to buy centerpieces I was going to dismantle just to get the pears that should have cost about $10 tops!!

Now the thing that irritates me most is that today, well yesterday now, was only Nov 30! The store looked more like the day after Christmas sale than just after Thanksgiving. Stores are continuing to push us into the season earlier and earlier. In order for crafty folks to be able to get the supplies they need for their Christmas projects, they must have to buy the stuff in September!  And for procrastinators, like me, by the time we decide to make something, all that’s left is the dregs! That makes me crazy! I purposely don’t do anything about Christmas until after T-Day! Now, with the practices of the stores I am being pressured to yield to someone else’s timetable that's really just a marketing ploy! Arrgghhh!

Don't you think those pears will hold together for another year? They don’t look TOO bad, right?  Especially if I keep the lights down really really low…. Maybe. Possibly. (Sigh!)

Awww, rot! I’ll try Hobby Lobby tomorrow.

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