If We Were Having Coffee…Unpacking Some Christmas Spirit

Good morning and happy Sunday! It’s a bit damp and drizzly here in South Jersey today but it’s warm and cozy inside so sit down, have a cup of hot French roast and lets have a chat!

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that Miss Dee and I spent our day yesterday putting up Christmas decorations. I would admit that when we started, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed and less than enthusiastic but as we unwrapped each treasure, my mood improved. Soon, she and I were remembering stories and laughing at memories from holidays past.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you to bring your mug and I would give you a tour. I would point out the collection of Santas on display behind the sofa. There are the tall Santa my mother-in-law painted and gifted to my husband and I after we got married, the wooden “walking” Santa my father-in-law brought us from Germany, and the Christmas card holder that had belonged to my mom, all sitting comfortably together…

I would then show you the Christmas Village, originally just four lighted houses, purchased at a home demonstration back when D-man and I were newlyweds still collecting holiday decorations. Over the years we have added more houses and tiny figures. The job of setting it up has been handed down from me to Miss Dee. I think she does a wonderful job, don’t you?

However, we are worried about this one…

This is her first Christmas with us and we are a little concerned about the villagers survival. ūüôā

Next we can check out the bookcases, my favorite pieces of furniture! On those, we have a mix of old and new, a framed Christmas card I designed as a teenager next to baby photos of my now grown children. Up on top are some reindeer, candle holders from who knows when alongside a new white ceramic one purchased last year. Down on the floor is the tall wooden tree I painted and decorated years ago. I always struggle to find the proper place for it but I’m thinking it looks quite at home next to our stuffed snowman there in the corner.

On the other bookcase sits our mini tree collection. Here there is a potpourri burner, a gift from an old friend 20 years ago, a musical tree that plays “O Tannenbaum” and several others both decorated and natural. You can also see our newest decoration, the white car that is toting the Christmas tree on top. I came across it at Lowes last week and just had to have it. It reminded me so much of my childhood! I was flooded with years of memories, watching my dad strap our tree to the roof of the car. I worried the whole way home that it would blow off! The shelf below holds the manger, also a gift from a dear friend on our first Christmas. This is displayed each year without fail to reminded us of the true meaning of the Holiday Season.

We would then swing through the hall so you could see my Dicken’s Carolers. They were purchased second hand over the years so they don’t actually match but I appreciate them each for their uniqueness. The boy on the right refuses to stand correctly so we had to tape him to the snow. I’m hoping he doesn’t topple over taking the rest of the crowd with him! I think I love them so much because the music of the holidays instantly fills me with Christmas cheer. I wish I’d been able to Carole more often as a child. Miss Dee told me yesterday that they kind of “creep her out!” It must be the eyes. Guess I won’t pass them on to her.

That would bring us back to the kitchen, where the hutch that belonged to my in-laws when they first got married, is packed with more memories. On one shelf sits my mom’s Christmas tree glasses and on another are our reindeer mugs that we bought when the kids were young. Each one features a different one of Santa’s reindeer. Miss Dee always uses “Vixen” and Mr D always uses “Donder.” I’m a little more flexible. Today I have “Cupid” but other days I feel more “Blitzen-ish!” The little nutcrackers are actually place card holders, although I’ve never used them as that and the tray propped up behind was painted by my mom during her ceramic phase. On the back is scratched “Christmas 1977,” the year I turned fifteen.

If we were having coffee… I would tell you, as we sat back at the table and refilled our mugs, that I’m glad Miss Dee nudged me on yesterday and encouraged me to unpack “just one more box.” I realize now, after taking this tour with you that it helped me see past the “I’ve got so much to do!” mindset and instead reminded me what amazing memories we can make when we open our hearts and homes at Christmas!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Please take the time to visit some of the other Coffee Share Posts hosted over at Eclectic Allie.


Christmas Postathon Day 9

A Christmas Tradition you Enjoyed as a Child

My father’s parents were married on December 24, 1921 so every Christmas Eve when I was little, we piled in the car and headed to their row home on Wildey Street in north Philadelphia to share in an Anniversary/Christmas celebration. We knew that my father’s 3 brothers, 2 sisters and all their children would be there as well. Apparently, my grandmother viewed this as a command performance, no excuses!

Minnie holding my sister 1955

Minnie holding my sister 1955

Me, Christmas Eve 1966

Me, Christmas Eve 1966

We didn’t find time to visit my dad’s family very often so this was a trip I always looked forward to especially because it was in the city. I was a child of suburbia, living in a ranch house with a lawn on a tree lined street so I found the the rows of tall narrow houses, packed up against each other quite fascinating! ¬†My Catholic Aunts referred this style house as “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” which meant three square rooms (living, dining, kitchen) lined up from front to back. There was a small back porch and two stories above for the bedrooms.

I loved the sound my heels made on the stone front stoop and the echos that bounced off the walls of the narrow alley way running between the houses. There was a tiny winding stairway leading to the upper floors and the biggest bathroom I had ever seen complete with a white claw foot tub. My sister told me that the reason it was so big was because it had started as a bedroom back before there was indoor plumbing! My grandfather and uncles had converted it themselves.

There was always lots of good food and drinks at the Christmas Eve parties. My dad, his brothers and his father all worked for Schmidts Brewery so of course the beer flowed freely and my grandmom Minnie was from Germany so her stews and desserts were always rich and hearty and more than enough to feed a small army! Excitement and noise filled the small rooms. The grownups would be shouting over each other, laughing and talking while the children raced around getting reacquainted, and of course there were gifts-lots and lots of gifts! It seemed like everytime I turned around there would be another Aunt or Uncle handing me a package to open!

My grandfather and some of the cousins.

My grandfather and some of the cousins.

Eventually, the food was eaten, the last gift was opened and goodbyes were said. We piled in the car and headed back to Jersey. My brother and sisters would chatter excitedly about Santa’s arrival the next morning but I was usually sound asleep before we even reached the bridge.

Sadly, both of my dad’s parents passed away¬†by the time I was ten and the house on Wildey Street was sold. Christmas Eve became something different. We tried to get together with my father’s family during the holiday season but without Minnie’s driving force the visits became fewer and fewer. I’m glad she held strong while she could though because the memories of those Christmas Eve celebrations are something I cherish.


If We Were Having Coffee….11/22/15

 This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share brought to you courtesy of Diana at Part Time Monster.  Be sure to stop by and check out the other participating blogs!


If we were having coffee….you might notice that I am getting a much later start than I do most Sunday mornings. That is because my sinuses decided to attack me first thing this morning and it has taken me this long (hot coffee followed by a long hot shower and a good dose of medicine) to feel human again! ¬†Still, I am so glad you stopped by and I don’t at all mind a chance to chat and enjoy another cup of coffee. So please, tuck in and tell me about your week. ¬†To go with our coffee (or your beverage of choice) we can enjoy some of my husband’s yummy baked goods or some left over birthday cake from my great-nephew’s 1st birthday celebration.

If we were having coffee…you might exclaim,”Oh! That must be the famous “Bubble Guppy¬†themed party you have telling me about during my other Sunday visits!” That would be a correct assumption. ¬†Miss D and I spent a crazy morning yesterday helping my sister and niece get things ready for the arrival of the 30 plus guests. ¬†They did all the really hard work like the cleaning and cooking. ¬†We just swooped in and brought it all together. ¬†The seven children at the party really enjoyed the photo booth cut outs we made and the games were a big hit. ¬†In typical one year old fashion, Squish decided to fall asleep just as the guests were arriving so he missed the beginning of his own party but we woke him in time for cake and gifts so he didn’t seem to mind!

I was very glad that it all worked out and my sister and niece seemed pleased with the results. The men in the family were just glad it was over so the women would stop obsessing over it! I was also very glad to get home! My introverted personality was ready for some peace and quiet. ¬†Poor Hubby was hoping we could go see the new James Bond movie last night but I didn’t think I could handle all the noise and action after such a noisy action packed day!! Maybe next weekend.

If we were having coffee…I might mention that this week marked the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing. ¬†As a result, I’ve spent more time than usual consciously taking note of all the little things in my life that can be traced back to her….saying of hers that now spill naturally from my lips, the way I prepare certain foods and the way I fold sheets, things I’ve taught my children about life and polite behavior.

Yesterday, at the birthday party, I noticed how much my oldest sister is starting to resemble our mom. ¬†Another person even commented on it to me. I could see mom’s shadow in the way she stood, ¬†many of the gestures she made, even her manner of speaking and the things she worries about. Mom’s last years were difficult at times and on days when she was making us particularly crazy, we would taunt each other about how someday we would probably be just like her. Back then it was said with foreboding, but I think now, if I told her how much she reminds me of Mom, she wouldn’t mind. ¬†I know I don’t.

Well, If we were having coffee..I would tell you that I think I have used up my leisure time for this morning and I know you probably have much to accomplish this Sunday as well so I guess we should say our goodbyes.  I would thank you for stopping by and wish you a pleasant week, I hope you will stop by next Sunday so we can share our Thanksgiving experiences. Be well!!



The Story of Doris and Charley

imageToday would have been my parents 66th wedding anniversary so it seemed fitting to tell the story of their wedding. It is actually the story of a wedding that never happened but I’m getting ahead of myself…

Doris and Charley met in 1946 at a “Welcome Home” party celebrating his brother, Jimmy’s return from WWII. Charley had been medically discharged from the service the year before because of stomach ulcers and was working as a truck driver for Schmidts Brewery. Doris had come to the party with her friend Gertie who was Charley and Jimmy’s cousin. My mom was 16 at the time. My dad was 23! The first time I heard this I said to my parents,

“You would never had let me date a 23 year old guy when I was 16!” Mom’s answer was that times were different then and she knew the family and so did her parents. Anyway, they were instantly smitten and three years later Charley bought Doris a diamond ring on the famous Jewelers’ Row in Philadelphia. They both wanted a small family wedding and set a date in October. The ceremony would be at the courthouse followed by a party with family and friends at the local VFW hall. The food would be homemade by my grandmothers, good wholesome food! Doris purchased a white suit to wear.

That was the plan, however best laid plans sometimes go awry!

The story is that even though they were very much in love, my father was a bit reluctant when it came to marriage. On the evening of September 2nd he and mom were at a local bar with a group of friends when conversation turned to the upcoming wedding. Some of my dads buddies were kidding them, saying that my dad would never go through with it. Well my father, who was the better (or worse) for beer wanted to prove them wrong and said to my mom,

“Come on Dar’! Let’s go somewhere and get married tonight!” According to my mother, he had his mind made up and wouldn’t budge. She figured if she didn’t go with him he would wake up alone and hungover in another state! She told him she would do it but only if they could find another couple to come along as witnesses. There was also the added bonus of having someone as their designated driver! Mom’s first choice was her best friend Tillie who was suppose to be the maid of honor but when they woke her and her husband up they weren’t too thrilled about taking road trip in the middle of the night. Go figure. They ended up with a cousin and her husband.

They needed to drive four hours to Virginia, the closest state that didn’t require a three day waiting period for a wedding license. Charley could get some sleep on the ride down and hopefully once he was fully sober, he would still be ready to elope! ¬†Another cousin was enlisted to break the news to my mom’s parents so they wouldn’t worry.

So on the morning of September 3, 1949 Doris Mae married Charles William in Alexandria,Virginia-the  first town they came to across the state line. Doris wore a navy blue skirt and jacket and Charles, a slightly wrinkled grey suit. The lady clerk in the courtroom scraped up a bouquet of flowers. The next month, on the originally planned wedding date, they gathered with their family and friends for a belated reception. The rest is history!