Tag Archives: Holidays

A Christmas Memory #3….The Tree

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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.

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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.

 

If We Were Having Coffee…12/26/15

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If we were having coffeeI 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 coffeeI 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.

 

Christmas Postathon Day 23

Christmas Company

One of the joys of the holiday season is having faraway family and friends come to visit. Some of my favorite Christmas specials had to do with this theme. Anyone remember a movie with Ed Asner called “The Homecoming”? How about the “Eight is Enough Christmas” where all eight kids and their families come home to spend Christmas with dad?

Most of our family live nearby and we are lucky enough to see them often through out the year. The one exception is my nephew Kyle. He moved out to Los Angeles about 5 years ago and we all miss him terribly. The two weeks he spends at home during the holidays is one of our Christmas highlights. I love watching my children and the other cousins re-bond every year.

Squish!

Squish!

At Christmas some people have company and other people are company. We have always been home and have hosted Christmas dinner ever since my children were babies. Hubby’s mom and brother and his family come as well as my sisters and their gang. This year the group will be smaller, just 14, because my nephew and two of my nieces will be spending the day with their spouse’s family. I’m a little bummed that we will have no baby Squish but I guess we have to share him sometimes!

I hope that you all are able to spend Christmas with the people who mean the most to you and that those of you traveling have a safe, pleasant trip.

 

Christmas Postathon Days 19 and 20

I dropped the ball yesterday and never got to Day 19. My excuse is that I was busy celebrating my birthday and never even turned on the computer! Yesterday and today’s prompts work very well as a team anyway. So here goes…

The Christmas Tree

White Lights or Colored lights?

This is actually perfect timing because at this moment there is an unadorned tree sitting in the living room waiting to be decorated. It will have, as it does every year, colored lights. It’s not that I have anything against white lights, in fact I think they are very pretty, it’s just that we’ve used colored ones for as long as I can remember so it’s kind of a tradition.

Now, for the tree, itself, it seems that most families have traditions involving that too; who pickles it out, who puts on the lights, who decorates it. In our family, hubby usually go and gets the tree. Miss Dee has been going with him the last few years and they’ve been getting it from the tree farm where Mr D works.

My job is to put on the lights. This became my job by default because no one else does it the way I like it. Since I’m being so fussy, I get to do it! Then we all decorate the tree together.

Everyone has ornaments that were given especially to them so those are the ones they put on. I have many that belonged to my grandmother or that I purchased before I got married. Hubby has lots of Eagles ornaments and others that he has collected over the years and of course each child has received many over the years.

We always keep the tree lights off while we decorate then after we are done we turn off all the house lights and turn on the tree. Of course we have to stand there and “Oooo” and “Ahhh” for a bit, appreciating our hard work.

Between you and me, I sometimes move some of the ornaments around when no one is looking. When the kids were little I had to do this because all the ornament were squashed onto the bottom half of the tree. I still do it because, again, I’m fussy.😊 Besides, for some reason all of the Eagles ornaments seem to end up front and center! I can usually find a much better spot around the side…on the bottom.

When I was young, my father was in charge of picking out the tree. My dad, how ever was both a procrastinator and very frugal so you can probably imagine the trees we had growing up! The one below is from 1963, the year I turned one. That’s my cute little rocking horse off to the left. As you can see, the tree is a tiny bit too tall! Dad was also known to drill holes in the trunk and “add” branches in the bare spots!  My mom, the Queen of Tinsle, always managed to make them look pretty anyway.

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I mean, let’s face it, all Christmas trees are beautiful. It’s part of the magic.🎄

Christmas Postathon Day 18

CELEBRATING the holiday with your pets

Anyone who has pets knows that they are as much a part of the holiday celebration as the rest of the family. We buy them presents and make accommodations for them. We forgo the tinsel on our tree because it’s bad for the cats and we tie up the tree because the cats are bad for it! Last year Santa brought them a kitty tunnel that they were totally underwhelmed by. Maybe he will do better this year.😊

They have their stockings that Santa fills with treats each year and you know of course that Jack loves dressing up for the occasion!image
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On Christmas morning, Jack and Chrissy lay in the kitchen doorway and watch us open gifts. Chrissy has a thing for paper balls and I think she gets excited by all that paper tearing. Their predecessor Maggie the Cat would lay on the sheets of paper as soon as they hit the floor. We used to have to push her off so we could clean up! Eventually, we give them something out of their stockings and sometimes they like it and sometimes not so much. They are cats, after all! If it has catnip, it’s usually a hit.

When company start to arrive, they disappear. They’re not big on noise and chaos which is what our house is like by mid afternoon. They sleep away Christmas Day but in the evening as the quiet settles in and we sit down to relax they show up. They sniff all the new things and have some treats and Chrissy will curl up again under the tree.image

I wonder what our pets think about Christmas?

Christmas Postathon Day 16

The Spirit oF Giving

Christmas is a time for giving. This seems like an easy concept but no matter how good my intentions, life always seems to get in the way. Too much to do, too little time. You know the story.

It never feels as though I spend enough time or energy on giving back, not only at Christmas but during the rest of the year too. I’m sure this is something many people struggle with.

I decided that since I don’t seem to be able to accomplish any big acts of giving, maybe I could start with some smaller ones. The cool little list below was posted on a web site, encouraging people to print and post it so I did! It is now hanging on my refrigerator. Maybe by seeing it there each day before we go out into the world, my family and I will be encouraged to give more, even if it’s just a little at a time.

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Here is the link in case you would like to print one of you own 😊❤️

Coffee Cups and Crayons

Christmas Postathon Day 15

Holiday Cards

I admit, I’m one of those people who love writing out Christmas cards (I also like filling out forms. I’m weird that way), although I don’t enjoy it as much when I am short on time and have to hurry and get them done. The joy is in taking time to write a personal note in each card and give a fancy little flourish to the signatures. I have even been known to purchase special pens to write them with and colorful stickers just to make the envelopes look especially festive!

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Picking out the right cards is important too. Just like in wrapping paper, I tend to lean toward old fashioned Christmas themes, Santa and winter scenes with sleighs and sparkly trees. Hubby picks up what ever he finds at the dollar store,  but he writes his own cards so that is totally his call. I buy bargain cards too but mine are expensive cards that have been marked way down. I was excited this year because I found a whole box of really top grade cards at the thrift store for one dollar! Yay, me!

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One of my childhood Christmas cards

For a few years, when I was about 11 or 12, my mom asked me to design Christmas cards for us to send out. I would come up with an idea each year and then draw the picture on white paper. Mom and my sister came up with a verse for the inside and then we had them printed at a local shop. It was a lot of fun and made me feel like quite the little artist!

Recieving cards is a thrill for me too. Each day when I grab the mail I can’t wait to see how many we have received. I’ve noticed, though, that not as many people have been sending cards the past few years. Maybe it’s the expenses or perhaps they feel actual mail is a thing of the past! Not me! We open and read each one then they are taped to the inside of our front door, just like when I was little, so everyone can admire them. There they stay till well after Christmas. If it’s an especially lovely card, I will save it and use it for decorations or crafts.

What a great gift – Christmas Art delivered right to your door!

Christmas Postathon Day 14

Christmas Scentsimage

Is there anything that can trigger a memory faster than the sense of smell? Just one whiff of some special scent and you are immediately transported to a different place and time.  The smell of Black Cherry tobacco always reminds me of my grandfather and anytime I smell leather I think of my high school boyfriend. As for Christmas? Well, that has an assortment of smells all its own.

For me, Christmas isn’t Christmas without the aroma of a live pine tree. I know that live trees are a lot more bother and expense but I can’t imagine not smelling the tree on Christmas morning before I even see the gifts. Growing up, our house was very small so the scent of pine was in every room. No matter where you were, eyes open or closed, you knew what time of year it was.

Fortunately, my Hubby feels the same so he doesn’t mind hauling the tree in and sawing off the base (which is also very aromatic). My kids are purists too. They would insist on a live tree even if we didn’t.

Of course you have to make sure it has water and you can’t keep it up as long as an artificial tree, and then there’s the mess of needles when you drag it outside, but that’s a small price to pay.  The minute the tree goes up I breath in and all my childhood Christmases are right there in front of me.

There are many other scents that remind me of Christmas too. What’s your favorite?

Christmas Postathon Day 13

Wrapping paper or gift bags?

image This one is a no brainier. Wrapping paper all the way!

I know that gift bags are easy and great in a pinch. Some are even quite lovely or unique but lifting out tissue paper and picking an item up out of a bag is not the same as unwrapping a present. The experience is totally different.

Wrapping gifts is one of my favorite holiday activities. In fact, I’m pretty darn fussy about it. The paper has to be just right, (old fashioned holiday scenes, preferably with Santa or a tree). I need a flat surface, sharp scissors, invisible tape and a really good pen for writing on the tags. Then there is matching ribbon and bows and sometimes little ornaments to add to the front. Annoying, huh? No wonder no one likes to wrap with me.

My father-in-law has been known to take gift wrapping to a whole new height. He is the master wrapper! He has wrapped some pretty weirdly shaped things and has never once stooped to putting them inside a box first. Over the years he has wrapped a baseball bat, tennis racquet, dinosaur, cowboy hat, various tools, and a canoe paddle among other things. We always have the most fun on Christmas just trying to guess what might be in the packages he pulls out of his sack!

We would miss out on all that fun if, one year, my father-in-law suddenly decides to use gift bags instead!

I rest my case. 😊

Christmas Postathon Day 12

A holiday outing you looked forward to as a child

The outings I most remember are the trips I would take each year with my mom and my grandmother (my mother’s mom) to see the Christmas displays in Philadelphia. We would hop on the Patco High Speed Line near our home in Jersey and 20 minutes later we would be in center city Philadelphia right beneath 8th and Market Street. I remember climbing the stairs from the subway station being completely awestruck. The hustle and bustle of the city combined with the holiday decorations was mesmerizing.

The windows of the stores were filled with elaborate displays; fancy dresses and toys and little Christmas scenes. Remember the scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie has his nose pressed against the store window ogling the Red Rider B-B Gun? That was me! Mom had to drag me away.

Our first stop would be the light show at Wanamakers department store.  Every two hours this magical show with music and lights and colored fountains would play in the center of the first floor. You had squeeze in and find  a comfortable place to sit or stand, if you were a kid you could usually get away with sitting on the bottom of the displays. By the time the show ended (I think it was about ten minutes) I always had a kink in my neck from looking up but I didn’t mind at all!  You can still see the light show now almost the same as it was then only now the store is owned by Macy’s instead of Wanamakers.

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Next stop was lunch in the restaurant on the upper level of Strawbridge and Clothiers, usually just sandwiches and tea. My grandmother loved their tuna club! I was usually too anxious to eat much.

After lunch we would head to my favorite place-Lit Brothers Enchanted Christmas village! Display after display of holiday scenes, candy shops, toy shops and anything else you could imagine. We would walk along a little wooden fence gaping at the animatronic people and animals enjoying their Christmas celebrations. I could have stayed there all day but unfortunately there were lots of other excited children waiting in line behind me.

For some really great old photos of the Enchanted village check out this neat blog called Life in the So-Called Space Age.

Unfortunately Lit Brothers closed down and the Village was relegated to a basement or storage area and all but forgotten. For a while it was in the care of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Then disappeared again. Recently though, I’ve heard that parts  have resurfaced, one section in Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum.

I’m glad that other children will get to enjoy it. I would like to see it again in its original state, all together but I guess it would never look the same as it did when I was eight.