Celebrating the Small Things, Christmas Edition, 2015

Welcome to Celebrating the Small Things, one of the loveliest blog hops on the blogosphere anywhere, run by Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.

It is Christmas.  I am sitting in my bathrobe (shame on me!) without any slippers on.  The fireplace is cold, which is perfectly OK beause it is hovering around 61 degrees right now.

I finished designing the cover for the third book in a series of mine and am debating cleaning the house.  I  had meant to fill in holes in a nearly finished manuscript.

(Sibling is at Mom’s; other sibling and family are down in Virginia enjoying the weather.  Third sibling is stranded in upstate New York with a broken down car and a shoe-eating Lab puppy named Mack (for the truck).  He doesn’t just eat shoes, either.  

The proud owner of quite a case of puppy-wiggles, he is enthusiastic about everything but shots and baths, and hasn’t met a hotdog he did not like.

Puppies are always smile-makers unless it is the middle of the night, you have been wrestling with the ‘joys’ of housebreaking, and you have just started to take that long, slow fall into dreamland in the middle of your warm, desperately desired bed, when you hear the prefatory yips that you just know, with a sinking feeling in your stomach, means that you will shortly be pulling on what passes for a bathrobe (I know someone who uses a quilt) and stumbling to the door to stand there while said puppy decides whether it really wants to squat to (name the function) outside, or maybe should go back to the nice, safe papers.

That, however, is not my situation.  My grand old dog, Jesse James (aptly named as far as his attitude toward food goes) has been housebroken for…let me see…fourteen years.  Labs age gracefully, but he spends a lot of time snoring.  I may rent him out to people whose significant others are traveling and are feeling lonely at night.  Some people have actually said that the sound of snoring is very soothing, and it helps them to sleep.  I can loan out Jess (his nickname) and do a good deed.  He no longer bellows in your ear when he wants to be let out, but he still stares when you are eating, and he does a wonderful job mimicking a starving puppy.

But I digress.

Today I am celebrating those book covers.  Someday I’ll bore everyone by posting them, which means that I will be smitten with an urge to change them forthwith.  I am celebrating the fact that while my family is far-flung this Christmas, there are no feuds, arguments, simmering bad feelings.  We all get along, we all watch each others’ welfare and we actually love each other.  Truly a cause to celebrate.

I am celebrating last night’s Christmas Eve service.  Since I was holding down the fort at this end of the country, I went alone. It was a wonderful service, everyone was welcoming, the music was lovely, and my thoughts were happy ones.

Tomorrow I drive to my Uncle’s house a few hours away.  He turns 90 tomorrow, and I MUST be there.  Where have the years gone?  He’s a little deaf now, but still the sharp, wonderful uncle I always called my bess frend (I was very little).

Right now I am going to get up and pop a chicken in the oven.  I like to make roast chicken, and a side of rice, cranberry sauce (with candied ginger, pineapple bits and mandarin oranges) will be good.  Not sure about dessert.  Perhaps the orange-tinged fudge (homemade).  Pity I don’t feel like drinking a bottle of Champagne by myself.  It’ll have to be a nip of Drambuie.  I think I can take it.  

It’s been a lovely couple days.  I hope it’s been the same for you.

And now, just for pretty, a picture a friend sent me.  Nearly as good as being there, she said:

All the best to all – and may 2016 be a wonderful year for you!

My Favorite Christmas Memory

This post is part of ‘My Favorite Christmas Memory’ blog hop, organized by Cherdo and JuneBug. 

Look around, read the posts, enjoy the memories.  I suspect there will be a log of laughter, smiles
and, maybe, some misty eyes.

**   **   **

Mine has been a wonderful family.  Loving, certainly, smart-alecky at times (children and parents), enjoying each other.  I never doubted that my parents had my best good at heart, though I wished from time to time that I could adjust their notion of exactly what that entailed.  We enjoyed Christmas, the carols, the decorations, the reason for the season. Mom and Dad deplored the shops that put decorations out before Thanksgiving.  Mom has some pithy things to say now about the pre-Halloween Christmas decorations.  But that’s another story.

We went to Christmas service, whether at midnight (when we were older) or with the laughing, chattering throngs mid-morning.  It was always good.

Santa ate milk and cookies, left a thank-you note in handwriting that was similar to Dad’s.  Once he tracked ashes from the fireplace across the rug. Mom was not happy.

But what about my favorite Christmas memory?  That was a tough one…

And then I was down in my basement fiddling with the laundry and I happened to see a purse on a hanger.

It is a Coach purse, made when the company was still owned by its founders, who went into leather goods by way of baseball gloves.  It has a sturdy shoulder strap, elegant (and sturdy) pure brass buckles and clasps and zippers.  It’s numbered…and it is very old.  I haven’t carried it in years, it needs a good saddle-soaping and some TLC, but I will never give it away.  It is a symbol and an affirmation.

Christmas of 1990 was a difficult one.  My grandmother had died, my sister had moved to Japan and I was paying all the rent.  It was hard going.  My employer had closed its offices in Philadelphia and I had spent some months out of work. I found another job at a pay cut, I had double the expenses, and money was very, very tight.  And I needed a new purse.

When we move through trying times, we tend to fix our attention on things that are not the actual cause of the problem.  My financial difficulties, my family worries (Grandpa, in his late 90’s, was doing poorly after Grandma’s death), my frustration with the new job…  All crystallized into the notion that my purse was worn out (it was) and needed to be replaced, and I simply could not afford to do so.  I could not afford a great many things, and it was hard.

All of this was in my head, you understand.  Stiff upper lip and all that.  I was far more fortunate than many that year of 1990.  Counting my blessings led to an impressive total.  I was properly and appropriately grateful. 

…So, Christmas morning, 1990 found me at my parents’ house with two less people than usual.  My brothers and their families were out of state and would be coming by after Christmas.  My grandmother’s chair was echoingly empty, and my sister, who could always be counted on to liven things up with her humor and knack for finding what made people happy and doing it for them, whether they wanted it or not, was half a globe away.

I gave out my presents, opened the ones given me, chatted with my grandfather, and listened to the music.

…And then Mom handed me a package.  “Here is your last present,” she said.

It was a fair-sized package, wrapped with her usual style.  A box…

I pulled the tape away (my family always says, “For  heaven’s sake, Diana, would you just OPEN the thing???”) revealed the box, and frowned down at it.  Plain brown box.  I lifted the lid…

Sitting in some tissue paper was a rich brown Coach shoulder bag with gleaming brass hardware.  It looked like something you would find in a fine tack room.  A Coach bag.  Big enough to hold all the stuff that I carried with me, redolent with the smell of fine leather.

A Coach bag.

I took it from the box, smoothed the strap with shaking fingers.  And then all the worries, all the self-pity that I had resolutely fought, the stiff upper lip I had shown people, telling them that all was fine with me, they didn’t have to worry – all melted and ran down my face as tears.

Mom was watching me, smiling quietly.  “Do you like it?” she asked.

“It’s…beautiful,” I said.  “Beautiful.”

“I noticed that yours was worn, and your father and I thought we would get you a really good one.”

That Christmas gift was far larger and more complex than a purse that I had secretly yearned after, the lack of which had served as a sort of symbol for the difficulties I was facing at that time.  It served to confirm that I would be cared for, one way or another, whether or not I was in difficulties.  It made me realize that I could trust those who loved me to, well, love me.   And, sometimes, unspoken wishes were granted.

That was twenty-four years ago.  The bag has been well-loved and is now retired.  I think I may take it out, give it a good saddle-soaping, and carry it for a while.  More immediately, I will finish this post (I am writing this on December 21), get in my car, and drive the 250 miles to my mother’s house and do my best to make this Christmas, the third since she was widowed, a warm and happy one for her.


Celebrations December 12, 2014

It’s celebrations Friday again, and time for the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop, a brilliant idea conceived by Viklit .  Every Friday we post about the things that have happened that are worth celebrating, however small.  It’s fun, free, and makes  you think – and there are some wonderful bloggers who participate. 

Today I’m kicking back and enjoying the season.

There are all sorts of things about this season that I like:

the end of the ‘blast furnace’ heat that seems to come in July and August.

falling leaves (to really like those, I need to celebrate a willing neighbor child who will rake leaves for me)

And for the rest, some images:

You *are* wearing your slippers and have your (chose 1) cat on your lap, dog at your feet, main squeeze in your arms…

They left out the cognac!

The difference between ‘hot cocoa’ and ‘hot chocolate has been discussed.  I prefer ‘hot chocolate’, but if either is brought by a smiling loved one, then I am happy.  I do, of course, eat the whipped cream (if any) first.  A jigger of cognac helps matters, too…

Ah!  The snowplow is com-  Aaack!  Run!!!  **WHOOSH!**

Ideally, this last is a view out the window.  …although after a nice day of making snow-angels in the snow, watching the dogs romp through the drifts, and seeing that your local municipal snow removal concern has managed to (a) remove the snow without (b) destroying your mail box or (c) blocking your driveway with icebergs that will require dynamite to shift, it is pleasent to bundle up and sit on front step and watch the snow.

…though, for myself, perhaps I will look at this scene out my picture window while toasting my toes by the fire and sipping hot chocolate.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

What are you celebrating?


Holiday Best Wishes

I am sending this quick note wish to wish everyone all the best.  Over the past year or so I’ve met so many fascinating, enjoyable and good people, it is only fitting to share good wishes at this time.

It’s funny how time seems to telescope as you get older.  My family celebrates Christmas.  I can remember how the month of December seemed to simply crawl by.  I would sneak down to the living room and look at the tree to see if maybe – just maybe – Santa might have misread his calendar.
Christmas eve, we left cookies and milk for Santa and a carrot for his reindeer.  Santa always wrote a thank-you note.  His handwriting was a lot like Dad’s. 

I’d go to bed, certain that I was going to stay awake.  I always fell asleep.  Once or twice a blanket that I knew had been folded at the foot of my bed was spread over me.  Obviously, my guardian angel had taken a hand in things.  (Now I realize that I wasn’t far wrong.  I’ll be visiting that particular angel over New Year’s while my sister stays with her over Christmas.)

When the 25th finally dragged around, half the fun was watching my family open the gifts I got them, even as I tore into those I received, myself.  My mother advises me that she isn’t sure why Santa didn’t give me sticks and coal on one or two occasions.

Off to church, singing songs, enjoying the weather, just…happy.  And, looking back, I don’t think the presents had all that much to do with the happiness.

They still don’t.

I wish everyone a happy Christmas, if you celebrate it, and a happy December 25th if you don’t.  I hope 2014 is peaceful, prosperous and full of health and heartsease.

Raising a joyful noise…   Well, at least raising NOISE!

Did I leave anything out?  Oh yes – laughter.  Here is some, with my compliments.  I cobbled it together from a photo I saved and a vintage card.  From me to you: smile!

Sharing a Little Holiday Joy (flash mob)

This has taken the internet by storm, and it came at a moment this morning when I was feeling overwhelmed.  A good reminder of the Reason for the Season at a time when I, for one, am being bombarded by stories that I find upsetting.

But this reduced me to tears.  I am sharing the beauty.

I’ll be away for a few days.  I hope return to find all well and happy when I return.