If we were having coffee…I would welcome you to the “calm before the storm.” It is a rainy Christmas Eve morning here in southern New Jersey. The rest of the family is still asnooze, as I sit with my cup of piping hot French roast, contemplating today’s “to-do” list.
Tonight we will visit with my husband’s father’s family, catching up with cousins we see only once a year, and tomorrow our immediate families will gather here for Christmas dinner. We usually toggle between 14 and 25 guest. This year we are 22, missing a niece and her group who are promised to his family this year, and a nephew whose new job is keeping him on the west coast. No matter what the group, though, it is always noisey and chaotic and totally wonderful!
So, if we were having coffee today…I would wish you all your own special brand of holiday crazy wherever you are, no matter what you celebrate this time of year. Please stop by for coffee next weekend when peace and quiet will once again be the norm around here. We can have a proper chat then. For now I need to run. so much to do! For now, I hope all is well with you and yours. Don’t forget to visit Diana at Part Time Monster for the rest of the Coffee Share Posts.
I’ve been told, by my older siblings that when they were little, they would head to bed on Christmas Eve with a bare tree standing on a bare platform in the living room awaiting Santa’s touch. As they slept, he not only delivered the presents but also put all the lights and ornaments on the tree and set up the houses and trains below so that when they emerged groggy eyed on Christmas morning they would get the full effect. I can see where this would be an exciting and magical for a child to start their Christmas Day, however…
I’ve (also) been told, by my mom and dad that when my sibling were little there were many Christmas Eve’s when they never actually made it bed! My dad usually tackled the platform and any gifts that needed to be assembled while mom did the tree. If they were lucky, neighbors or family would stop by to help but most times they were busy at home with the same task. From what I’ve heard, there was a fair amount of treats and “good cheer” flowing as well. I suppose they did need something to keep them motivated.
By the time I came along (12 years after my oldest sister) my parents had pretty much burned themselves out on that whole “putting the tree up on Christmas Eve” nonsense and, since my birthday was just a few days before Christmas, we began a new tradition of having the tree up in time for that. I always felt like the tree was part of my birthday celebration. It is still my favorite part of the holiday season.
When I was around 12 or 13, it became my job to go with my dad to pick out our tree. I think my mom had run out of patience years earlier and was eager to step aside. Usually we started at the closest lot, sized up a dozen or so newly cut trees, testing branch strength and freshness, making sure the trunk was straight and not too wide for the stand. Dad would haggle a bit with the tree guy and then decide none of the trees at that lot was good enough. We then performed the same routine at a half a dozen other tree lots, testing and haggling. Inevitably, we’d end up back at the very first lot with the very first tree we had sized up back at the beginning!
This weekend, D-man and I ventured out to the tree farm where our son has been working for the last few holiday seasons, to pick out our tree. We don’t do artificial trees. Never. Nor do my sisters. That’s just the way it is. We have two small artificial trees elsewhere in the house but the main tree has to be real. To me, each Christmas tree is unique and has its own personality. I don’t want it to be perfect and I certainly don’t want it to be just the same as last year’s. Where’s the fun in that.
I know that artificial trees have all kinds of advantages. Believe me, I think about that when I’m still discovering pine needles in February. Certainly, they’re more convenient and the branches are all strong and even. The symmetry certainly appeals to my perfectionist tendency but the fact is that nothing brings back Christmas memories for me faster than the smell of a live tree. All I need to do is open my bedroom door each morning and let that scent wash over me. Suddenly I’m a kid again back at that Christmas tree lot, rating trees with my dad, strapping it to the roof of our Ford with much more rope than was probably necessary, and singing Christmas caroles all the way home at the top of my lungs. In short, Christmas is once again filled with magic.
My mom’s Bazaar bought snow couple
Growing up we never belonged to any particular church or religion but most Easters and Christmas Eves we did attended services at the Baptist Church down the street. I suspect we went there just because it was the closest. I also attended Vacation Bible School there during the summer. However, there was one thing we couldn’t get from the Baptists. If we wanted nifty home made holiday items at dirt cheap prices, we had to walk a few more blocks to the Catholic Church.
These bazaars (defined in the Free Online Dictionary as: A fair or sale at which miscellaneous articles are sold, often for charitable purposes.) would happen in early December and I looked forward to them every year, celebrating it as the official start of the holiday season. The bazaar was held in the gymnasium of the Catholic school attached to the church. There were rows and rows of long wooden tables piled high with bright colored items for sale. Mom would give me some cash and I would roam around, Christmas music playing overhead, and pick out small items to give her, my dad and my grandparents. She also gave me enough to purchase something for myself as well.
Pretty knit pot holders never meant to actually use!
My grandmother received several knitted pot holders courtesy of the Church bazaar. Dad might get a wallet stitched together with leather strings and grandpa, a handmade pouch for his pipe tobacco. For my mom, I would buy decorative Christmas items or maybe an apron.
A Christmas trinket box purchased for my mother
For myself, I poured through the many hand sewed Barbie Doll clothes. The attention to detail always amazed me. How could someone make such perfect little coats and skirts in so many different patterns and styles!? They were the best made Barbie clothes I had, some handed down from my older sisters who had attended the Church Bazaar long before I was old enough to walk.
A few of the surviving doll clothes.
As you can see, several of these memory filled items still celebrate Christmas with us. Most started out as gifts to my mother then handed down to me. Even a few of the Barbie clothes have survived. I can’t help but wonder what those nice Catholic women who spent so many hours creating these item would think about that?
Okay, your turn. Have you ever been to or made items for a bazaar (church, school, or otherwise)? If you have, what kind of treasures did you bring home?
Last year in honor of my favorite season I embarked on a daily Christmas Postathon. It was a great way to maintain my holiday spirit but to be honest, the pace nearly did me in! So this year I’m going for a looser, more laid back version. Periodically I will pull out a Christmas memory or favorite to share. Feel free to join the party! I would love to reminisce with all my friends.
Today’s topic is…
Favorite holiday treats
As we slouched around the remnants of our Thanksgiving dinner this year, the conversation turned to all the special treats that made our childhood holiday seasons so memorable. Goodies like Christmas cookies and egg nog jump to most everyone’s mind but each of us had our own personal treats, those things that brought back that rush of Christmas feelings from our childhood.
My sister and I compared notes and decided that we always felt Christmas was upon us when the bowl of mixed nuts appeared. They occupied a special cut glass bowl my mom saved for such delicacies with silver nut crackers tucked in beside them. We knew we couldn’t eat them all at once because they were an extravagance and had to last till Christmas Day. Back then I preferred walnuts and loved cracking them open and then digging around with the little silver pick trying to get every last piece from the broken shell. Today I’d happily dig into the almonds, filberts and pecans as well.
Mom also splurged on a big box of Whitman chocolates each season. The box she purchased was called the “sampler” because it contained an assortment of every sort of filled chocolates they made. My favorites were the caramels. In fact, they still are. After we were grown and out on our own, mom still gave my sisters and I a Whitman Sampler each Christmas. I usually had to stash it away somewhere safe or it would be empty in no time.
Another special Christams treat I remember from my grandmother’s house were ribbon candies and chocolate filled straws. She was very fond of hard candies and usually had some type around her house but those two were reserved just for the holidays. To be honest, I only sucked on them for a minute or two before I spit them out to try another flavor! I wonder if my grandmother ever noticed all those half eaten candies in her trash? She always offered me more so I guess she didn’t mind!
Now it’s your turn. What are the special treats you remember from your childhood Christmases? I’m sure the there are local and regional goodies that are unique to certain areas. So many confections, flavors and tastes but the feelings of joy and warm memories they bring are the same no matter where or when you grew up.
If we were having coffee…I would welcome you in and pour you a cup of some of the special dark roast coffe I received for Christmas. We might have to move some boxes off the sofa to make room but then we could sit and enjoy the lights from the tree and you could tell me all about your week. Did you celebrate Christmas yesterday? Was there family and good food? Did Santa bring you anything special? I hope that you were able to spend the day in whatever way makes you happy.
I would fill you in on our Holiday celebration. We dragged Mr D out of bed at 8am and “forced” him to open gifts. He and Miss Dee were more than happy with their haul as was Hubby. Santa brought him a remote control Millenium Falcon from Star Wars which he practiced flying (and crashing) through out the day. For myself, there were lots of books and some new drawing pens so I was a very happy camper! I may have to take an extra week off work just to make my way through all the reading material!
There were 14 guests for dinner which, for us, is a small number compared to other years, but there was much laughter and lots of tasty food so it was a very pleasant day. I enjoyed catching up with my nephew who is visiting from California. He and Mr D made plans to get together later in the week as well. I certainly feel blessed that we have such a close family and are able to enjoy each other’s company.
If we were having coffee…I would tell you that the celebration is still continuing over the weekend. My father-in-law and his wife came by today to exchange gifts and tomorrow we will be going to one of my sister’s home to see their tree and spend some time with her grandchildren. My brother-in-law, like my Hubby is a model train enthusiasts and always creates an amazing platform with houses and moving figures. Plus they have a big dog that Miss Dee loves (even at 17 she still asked for a puppy for Christmas each year)!
If we were having coffee…I would ask how you plan to spend New Year’s Eve? Are you someone who loves big New Year parties? My sister and her husband used to go to Times Square in NYC to watch the ball drop. You couldn’t pay me enough to stand in that crowd! My little introverted self would have a full fledged panic attack squished in there. 😊 We ring in the New Year in a very quiet fashion here at home. Hubby’s mom will join us and we will have some snacks and wine and watch the festivities on TV.
However you plan to celebrate, I hope you enjoy the holiday and the week leading up to it! Thanks so much for stopping by and don’t forget to check out Diana’s post over at Part Time Monster as well as the other Weekend Coffee Shares.
A favorite Holiday Decorations
This little house is a result of this the ceramic phase my mother went through back in the 1980’s. For many years it spent the Christmas season in the living room of the house where I grew up. Then it moved to the condo Mom purchased after dad passed away. Now it has come to live in the home I share with my husband and children.
Over the years, the lid has been broken and glued back together and a few of the little colored “bulbs” have gone missing but I think that is part of its charm. Every December I look forward to putting it on the table behind our sofa and being reminded of Mom every time I see it.
My little blog is not yet a year old so this is my first time Christmas posting! Beings this is my all time favorite holiday, I wanted to do something special so I’m throwing a Christmas Postathon!
Here’s the deal. Below is a list of 25 Christmas prompts, one for each day in December. My plan is to write a short Christmas post each day that is focused on the simple aspects of the Holiday that made it seem so magical when I was a child instead of the stressed out, frustrating aspects that sometimes overwhelm me as an adult!
You can come along on my little holiday experiment by answering the prompts on your own blog (everyday or whenever the urge strikes) or you can just leave a comment. Whatever! I’m basically making this up as I go. The only goal I have is to maintain my Christmas spirit right up to December 25th!😊
I trolled the Internet for ideas and came up with the following list. I purposely kept them a little vague to allow lots of freedom…
- A favorite Christmas decoration.
- A Christmas song you love to sing along to.
- Christmas lights
- A Christmas book or story
- A TV special or movie you look forward to seeing each year
- Church bells.
- Baking cookies or another holiday treat.
- A holiday traditions you have with your family or friends.
- A tradition you enjoyed as a child?
- Have you sat on Santa’s lap?
- Favorite Christmas outing this year
- A special holiday outing you looked forward to as a child.
- Wrapping paper or gift bags?
- Christmas scents
- Holiday cards
- The spirit of giving.
- A special gift you have given or received
- Celebrating the holiday with your pets
- The Christmas tree
- Colored lights or white lights?
- Children’s rules for Christmas morning
- White Christmas or green Christmas?
- Christmas company
- Christmas Eve tradition
- A Christmas wish
Tomorrow is day one! Time to start thinking! Happy Holidays!