All I Want For Christmas

file0001571619565Do you remember when you were a kid and this was the most exciting time of the year? We didn’t have Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Hell, we didn’t even have the internet. My sister and I lived for the day the toy catalogue would arrive in the mail (think it was Sears or Penny’s). We’d sit side by side and study each page of every toy available to man (at least those living in our mailing district) and pick our favorite. Such an exciting time. A wonderful memory.

Jump forward forty-five years. Even my kids are past the toy age. Their lists consist of fun things like money and iPhones (dream on, girlfriend). I’m not much better. I don’t have an easy-to-shop-for wish list. I don’t NEED anything, thankfully. My wants, however, would require a Christmas miracle.

  1. A family photo. Sounds simple, but this one would involve all parties willingly participating without complaint. All parties would dress appropriately. I’m not even asking for matching clothes. Just take a shower. Don’t dress like you’re clubbing.enchanted-april1
  2. Family movie night. One in which I get to pick the movie and everyone stays in the room. They wouldn’t make fun of every line or twist in the plot. They’d pay attention and end up loving it. We’d all talk afterwards, sharing our favorite parts. We’d have a family hug just because our hearts are so filled with joy.
  3. A personal trainer who is also a physical therapist. They could lead me through a fabulous workout, then treat me afterwards, when I’m barely able to walk.
  4. A spot on the New York Times Best Sellers List.
  5. World peace. Hell, I’d just settle for peace among my friends on Facebook.

A tough list, I’ll give my family that. But one can always dream. ‘Tis the season, right? Leave a comment with your dream gift. I’ll draw from those of you who post before midnight December 1, 2016, and send the winner a $25 Amazon Gift Card. It’s not world peace, but it could buy you some fabulous fruit cake.

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Toy photo by cohdra
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Thanksgiving

Thanks for the Memories

file0001510816847I’m thrilled that this year we’re celebrating Thanksgiving with thirty-some friends and family. I’m especially thrilled that my sister is hosting. (Yeah! No mopping or dusting for me.) I’m not thrilled—in fact, I’m terrified—that I volunteered to cook the turkey. Two weeks ago, when we were drinking wine and divvying up the menu, it seemed like a worthy challenge. But now, as I wrestle a 25 lb. turkey that is still frozen (dinner to be served in 31 hours), I’m wondering why the hell I thought this was a doable option. And better yet, I’m wondering why my mom and sister, who both know my culinary talents consist of doing the dishes, allowed me to take on the center piece of the Thanksgiving feast.

But this morning at 5 am, while I lay in bed, worrying over the fowl beast, I had an epiphany. I thought back to the Thanksgivings of my past and realized I don’t remember the turkeys. I do remember the fellowship.

The years my mom’s family gathered were the definition of bounty. Four sisters and my file000541128033
grandmother, all great southern cooks, would bring homemade dishes, somehow preserved, from Tennessee to Illinois. Those holidays were spent around the table, morning and night. When we weren’t eating, we were playing cards. Tripoley.

When my dad’s family gathered, it was always at my grandmother’s. She often stored extra dishes on her back porch, yet we never got sick. There was only one TV, and that was in the living room where the adults gathered (and smoked). The kids would hang on her front porch. No iPads. Not even checkers. We’d use our imagination, granted it was tough. Playing house consisted of “cooking,” with our dishes being ashtrays and our food being berries (probably poisonous) picked off the bushes. Strange, but these memories warm my heart.

I’ll never forget Thanksgiving 1985. My dad was in the hospital losing his battle with cancer. We all got the call to come immediately, “it was happening.” Miraculously, it didn’t. Not then. But each of us, his mom and siblings included, had a chance to spend time with him and say our goodbyes. And for whatever weird reason, we put on a play. Yes, a Pilgrims and Indians play, with costumes, right in the middle of the oncology ward of Decatur Memorial Hospital. We took poetic license and my very pregnant aunt wore an “A” on her chest. In the midst of sorrow, we laughed.

emxuwn6eSo my turkey may suck. I’m not even sure it will fit in the Reynold’s baking bag everyone swears by. But it’ll be okay. We’ll break bread with friends and family and there will be love. And for that, I am thankful.





Wooden Turkey Photo by taliesin

Cards Photo by chelle

Turkey Photo by Seemann

I Could Do That!

(How Crafting Ruined Christmas)

Scream Cartoon PaintingAs Julie Andrews would sing, “Let’s start at the very beginning.” About a year ago, I discovered HGTV’s Fixer Upper. I was inspired by the decorations Jo Jo created with junk she’d found on the side of the road. So like any good woman who needed to clean the house, I decided to put that energy into making fabulous art out of trash. In my case, it involved hot-gluing funky letters on a termite-destroyed fence post. Because everyone knows it makes sense to hang such a carrier inside your home.

I liked it. My husband said he liked it. And just recently, my nephew and his new bride shared they liked it . . . without even being prompted. So of course, I’m going to make them one for Christmas.

Fortunately, I was smart enough to keep several of the termite-infested posts (leaning against my new cedar fence), so I just needed the letters. I stopped at the closest craft store for a quick excursion to the letter aisle. My estimated ten minutes became three hours. I had forgotten the intoxicating wonder of this magical land.

Cabinet knobs shaped like owls, yards of burlap with French script, shelves and mirrors in distressed, robin-egg blue paint. They even had a leather-engraving kit that tempted me until I remembered I hadn’t worn a belt since 2007. My heart raced with the need to create, and I had the perfect opportunity: Christmas gifts!!!!

Paint BrushNow that I’ve started and my kitchen and clothes are covered in craft paint and hot glue (btw, it should be called freakin’-hot glue), I’m remembering I’m more of a performing arts kind of gal. Not so much the visual arts. Case in point, Halloween 2002. In fairness, my kids wouldn’t commit to a costume until the night before. My daughter chose Aerial the Mermaid. I ingeniously stapled silk scarves to the calves of her aqua-green Lycra leggings. Son wanted to be a bat. I put him in his sister’s old dance tights and leotard and stapled Hefty trash bags to the arms. To be honest, I’m not sure which was worse: placing two plastic bags inches from a three-year-old’s head or putting my son in a velour leotard.

But I’m not going to worry, because everyone knows that a gift made with love (no matter what the quality) will always be more appreciated than a certificate to a luxurious spa.Smiling Sock Snowman

 

 

 

 

 

Ornaments by ladyheart. Scream-cartoon-painting by Prawny.

Paint brush by dhester. Sock snowman by ladyheart.

Have a Ticky-Tacky Christmas

Tuesday, I went to a friend’s home that was decked out for Christmas. The tree was dressed with gold, red and ivory ornaments – evenly spaced – and finished off with a massive amount of tiny white lights. Beautiful and elegant.

IMGA0936Later that night, I studied our tree. Not quite the same.

Perhaps it’s because the tree is obviously plastic. The branches are shiny, some bent upward at a 90-degree angle to hold heavy ornaments. Maybe it’s because half of our ornaments sit at the very top of the tree, a necessity because our cats believe theDSC00762 Christmas tree is the greatest toy EVER created. Thanks to the latter, a significant number of our figurines could star in Boxing Helena.

But here’s the thing. I love it.

IMGA0935The tree is full of memories from three generations. I have a felt teddy bear my grandmother made, long before fabric glue was invented. And then there are the special pieces from the first Christmas my husband and I spent together. He decorated my Ficus with sparkly ornaments and lights (20 different flashing patterns straight from the Vegas strip.) Two of the ornaments have survived the cats, but this year, the lights finally gave out. I’ve kept them anyway.

We have the kids’ homemade beauties. Every time we hang my daughter’s shimmering gingerbread man, I’m reminded of the festival at which she depleted the church’s supply of glitter glue.

But it’s not just the tree. One of my favorite pieces is the advent calendar myIMGA0917 grandmother made us. Oh, we loved pinning “ornaments” on the felt tree. These trinkets consist of Cracker Jack prizes from my dad’s youth. My favorite is the Glenn Miller album. My kids are already talking about who will get this cherished piece when I’m dead. I guess that’s a sweet thought.

Whether your home is decorated with plastic, mangled pieces or is a designer showcase out of “Southern Living,” I hope it fills you with joy. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with good health, much love and great peace.