December 22, 2011

I'm on Santa's Team!

This is reposted from Felecia's blog 15 Minutes, because I just love, love it so much.  I wish I had done this when our youngest was told that there is no Santa Claus.  Every year I pick someone in my world to give something to from Santa, because I am, and will always be, one of Santa's helpers.

I remember my first Christmas party with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus!" she snorted. "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything.

As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

"Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.

For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill , wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about though, when I suddenly thought of Bobbie Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's second grade class.

Bobbie Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobbie Decker didn't have a cough, and he didn't have a coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobbie Decker a coat. I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. "Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

"Yes," I replied shyly. "It's ... for Bobbie." The nice lady smiled at me. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas. That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons, and write, "To Bobbie, From Santa Claus" on it -- Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobbie Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobbie's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobbie.

Forty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my grandma, in Bobbie Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

Author Unknown

December 16, 2011

The Chimney

It's made of paper.  It's remade for every Christmas.  It was born in 1997.  It is our Chimney.

When I first entered into a relationship with my Hubs, I wanted to create our own traditions, for us and for The Kids.

Growing up, the farm house I lived in had a fireplace (non-working), complete with a mantel from which to hang our stockings.  When I moved here, the places I chose to live did not have hearths or mantels, and as I didn't really have a family here to celebrate, this did not really bother me.  Until The Kids.

Our very first Christmas as a couple was in 1997.  I lived in a small apartment on the third floor of the building.  The Hubs (then The Boyfriend) helped me get my very first, on-my-own Christmas tree.  As The Kids were helping decorate, I was desperately trying to figure out what to do with the stockings.  Pulling out some old construction paper, I fashioned the very First Chimney.  The Boy (the artist) drew the fire, I fashioned some logs out of old paper bags and the Eldest Girl thought it would be fun to put some paper boots with cotton around the ankles, depicting Santa dropping in.

First Chimney was very small, perhaps only 3 feet wide.

Now it has grown to the size you see here.  Instead of construction paper, it's made out of red wrapping paper with hand-drawn "bricks".  We still use paper bags for the logs and often the mantel itself.  The Hubs gets creative with the lights (he LOVES lights) nowadays, not like that First Chimney.

Over the years, I have grown tired of putting it up, especially as more and more gets piled on.  I'm either moving slower, or time really is speeding up.  It really is a lot of work.  Something had to give (for me). I have nagged and cajoled The Kids into doing it for a couple of years.  This year, though, it's been 100% The Hubs.  Every year I wonder, "Is this the last year?"  Because I know as The Kids grow up and move on, Christmas traditions will change again.

Hard work or not, I will miss this one.  It is one of the major traditions that started the very first year we were all together, and has continued on.  And every year, I think about what I said back in 1997...

... the Chimney is up, now Santa can come!

December 7, 2011

Cleaning & Crafting...

Last night I took some time to get 'little things' done.  Things that pile up because they can always be left off 'until tomorrow'.  Among cleaning up from having company over on Sunday, I also clipped the critters nails with The Hubs' help.  Afterward, as I was motivated at the 'little things' being crossed off my list, I wandered down into the scrapbook area to clean up and put things away from a weekend crop I'd enjoyed (as well as search for Something Very Important that I have lost - and have yet to find).

As I was unpacking from the crop, I was frustrated with a broken old laundry basket that was sitting on the floor.  Within it was a variety of scrapping items that I had taken to the last craft garage sale...wait for it... back in March!  Yes, March!  I'd had enough of it being in my way so I got out my Swiffer (a must with four cats and a dog), swiffed up enough of the fur so I could sit on the floor and decide once and for all what to do with these unwanted items.  Sadly, most of them just got incorporated back into my supplies.  A few did get thrown away, though, so that was a nice breath of fresh air. 

After I was done, I was so pleased, I sat down and decided to make a few stocking stuffer items for The Girl.

I started with these supplies.

Can you guess what I was making?  It's pretty obvious... flower clips for her hair.

After I made this one, and turned it into a hair clip, I was suddenly hooked! 

What other flowers could I use to make more hair clips? Trust me, I found some, and ended up with 9 hair clips for The Girl's stocking.

(Sorry about the dark picture... it was either get it dark or get it with too much glare).
Anyway, I was thrilled.  The Hubs agreed that they were "cute" and especially like the little rosettes, as I had added some Stardust Stickles to the petals.  I went upstairs to show The Boy (keep in mind he's 22 and The Girl is 16). 
I won't even describe to you the look on his face when he saw them.  When I told him they were for his sister, he said, "uh.... they're....uh.... nice."  I said, "what's wrong?"  He replied, "I don't think she'll wear them."
I didn't bother to tell him that The Girl had tried to steal some flowers previously because I had mentioned that they would look nice on a hair clip, telling me, "you should make it for me!"  Granted, that flower isn't what I used when I was making them.  Maybe she won't like them.  Maybe she'll say she does but never wear them.  It's the thought that counts.
At least these three got some "hair time". 
Keep your fingers crossed that she'll like them.  If not... maybe I'll send them on to someone who will!

December 5, 2011

Storytelling Sunday (on Monday)…

Oops, I did it again! I totally “spaced” on Storytelling Sunday. I didn’t want to miss it again, especially after loving every minute of writing last month’s post. But, per Sian, it continues through the week and so… here I am.   Sorry for being tardy to the party.

I’m here to tell you about a very special Christmas story for a little girl…

The Year I Wished For Snow…

Snow has always been a big part of my childhood. Having grown up in western New York state (upstate to anyone living in NY City), my hometown was part of the “snowbelt”. What is a snowbelt, you ask? Well, having had that part of my vocabulary all of my life, I found it hard to describe, so here is a source that describes it perfectly:

Snowbelt is a term describing of a number of regions near the Great Lakes in North America where heavy snowfall in the form of lake-effect snow is particularly common. Snowbelts are typically found downwind of the lakes, principally off the eastern and southern shores. Lake-effect snow occurs when cold air moves over warmer water, taking up moisture that later precipitates as snow when the air moves over land and cools. The lakes produce snowsqualls and persistently cloudy skies throughout the winter months, as long as air temperatures are colder than water temperatures, or until a lake freezes over.

(Thank you, Wikipedia.)
Anyway, snow was always a big part of my childhood. And Christmas always had plenty of snow. Always. As I grew older, though, it seemed that sometimes snow wasn’t around by the time Christmas came and went. To me, Christmas isn’t Christmas without the brown, dormant grass being fully covered by fresh, white, fluffy snow.

On this particular year, I was eight, maybe ten, years old (I really only remember that I was little). Throughout the month of December, I was eagerly waiting for snow, watching the sky and being uncharacteristically tuned in to the weatherman. Sadly, the snowbelt, and the weather forecasters, were disobliging. They did not forecast any snow to hit before or on Christmas. I was broken-hearted but decided to start my own campaign to have snow on that special morning. I wrote a letter to Santa, begging him to send snow before he traveled here on Christmas eve. I spent evenings staring at my mom’s manger scene on our mantle, touching the ceramic figure of the baby Jesus and wishing for snow… please, please send me snow for Christmas. I’d go to bed and wake up in the mornings, eagerly peering out my window to see if the shimmery flakes had fallen.

Each morning I was disappointed.

Christmas Eve came. Not a single flake of snow had fallen. I was beside myself in misery and made one desperate last plea to the baby Jesus in the manger scene (it was far too late to send another letter to Santa, as this time period is in the ancient years predating email). Staring at the scene for what I felt was an extraordinarily long time (for a little girl) I begged and wished and pleaded (inside my head) with all of my might. Barely even hopeful anymore, I headed dejectedly to bed so that Santa could come…

Now, growing up, I lived in a drafty, two-story farm house. It was the best house to grow up in and I miss it to this very day, at 41 years old. Back then, on Christmas mornings, my sisters and I were not allowed to go downstairs until we woke our parents up, which we’d typically do by collectively jumping on their bed, excitedly. Then, my father would go downstairs (an enclosed stairwell, with a door at the bottom), and “check the house” to make sure that Santa and his reindeer or any stray elves were well and truly gone, and that things were in their appropriate place. (One year, I remember hearing boxes being dragged across the kitchen floor into the living room, but I never connected the dots that my dad was just placing gifts under the tree that morning, probably to circumvent any middle-of-the-night snooping.)

On this year, I woke up with my sisters and went bouncing into my parents’ room, excited that Christmas morning was finally here! My father got up and went downstairs to do the usual “search” for Santa, while we girls used the bathroom and anxiously awaited at the top of the stairs. We heard some voices and I was suddenly feeling butterflies in my stomach. Was Santa still here?! My father opened the door and laughingly shouted up that Santa had left a few extra gifts this year and to come downstairs and see. Two of my sisters and I ran down the steps and walked into our living room, where the tree was overflowing with presents. Looking down the room, next to the couch, was another one of my sisters, with her boyfriend and two friends. These were Santa’s extra “gifts” to us. Confused, I questioned why they were there and they laughed and said, “look outside.”

I looked outside.

Overnight, Santa had brought with him a huge lake effect blizzard, blanketing everything in a deep layer of snow (and forcing my sister and her friends to quickly detour from their night out to the safety of the nearest house, trapping them all overnight in our living room).

It was the best Christmas in my young life: my fervent snow wishes had been answered!

And the moral of this story?  "Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it... and then some!"

Okay, if you've enjoyed your stop here and my story, I invite you to please enjoy more lovely stories over here.

December 1, 2011

December Two Thousand Eleven

Look!  Quick! Did you see that?


Did you?  Did you see that?


Yep, that's another month just gone.  It is now officially December 2011!  That means that there are only

31 Days 

left in this year.  Thirty-one itty, bitty days.  That's

744 Hours 

left in 2011.   Ooooh, I have so much I'd like to do.  I wonder how much time I will really have.  Let's check it out.

Let's take away the 8 hours each night that I'll hopefully get in sleep, that leaves me

504 Hours 

in December 2011.  Okay, now let me take away the hours in which I'm working at my day job.  17 nine-hour days (I'm including my lunch break), hmmmm... this leaves me with

351 Hours

Plus some time that I'll put in working at Inside Out, plus, I do have some events coming up... gatherings with friends, travel and such.  After those time commitments (as of today), I'm left with

279 Hours

Now, there are certain things I do every week... preparing and cooking dinners, grocery shopping, laundry, house cleaning, paying bills, sending and responding to family/friends in email/phone calls, pet maintenance, etc.  Let's guesstimate an average of 1.5 hours per day to handle those  regular "life tasks", PLUS with the holidays coming up, I will be baking more and definitely spending lots of time wrapping presents.  All of these things will leave me with

186.5 Hours

Which is... holy frijole... it's only

7.8 Days!

I have just over a week left in 2011!!  8 days!!  I'd better hurry up and get all of those things on my 2011 "list" done! Wait... I'm taking a vacation in December, so out of that 7.8 days, I'll be on vacation for 7 days.  That leaves me just

0.8 Days

of "free time" in December! How will I do it?  Will I do it?  Oh my gosh!  The pressure!  How can I only have point-8 days left in the year?!  That's crazy!  Sorry, but I gotta run!

(Thank goodness I really don't think this way, but what a perspective!)

How about you?  What's the last month of the year look like in your world?


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