dearanonymousfriend

Ramblings from a would be writer

Once Upon A Time at Christmas… Pt 2…

Christmas Day is usually a day that I love to cook.  I try to make our meal time special, the table settings, real napkins, and Christmas china and of course, food that is much different from my normal food.  I love to plan for it and I always want it to be special.

Throughout my life,  I can count on both hands the number of times that I have not had Christmas dinner either at my home or at a friend’s home.  There was the time where we took the bus over to the Yokohama train station and went to the underground mall.  We spent the afternoon shopping and I believe we ate there also, another time, we went to Disneyland for Christmas Day.  It was crowded, but fun.  It was the first year our whole family was not together, so hubby and my oldest ferried me up to a hotel on Christmas Eve and we spent the day at the happiest place on Earth, having a lovely dinner at Downtown Disney.  It was a special day, but, it did not help my loneliness at not having my girls together with me.  I am certain there were other times and adventures, but, honestly, besides those two times that stick out in my mind, I have always had a meal at home.

So, this year….  I could not cook.  The thought of a full septic system and me in my kitchen just could not be reconciled.  I told hubby mid day that I could not fix a meal to my satisfaction.  He said whatever was easiest for me was what we would do.  I spent an hour online trying to find a place that was open.  Nothing was.  Denny’s was open.  So, off we went to Denny’s.  Now, I usually do not mind a meal at Denny’s.  I joked on the way over that moons over my hammy might be a good choice for dinner.  I did not get the laughing response I thought I would.  About that time, I looked over towards a strip mall and commented that the chinese restaurant was open and there were only three cars parked in front of it.  Everyone groaned a bit, but laughed.  We continued towards Denny’s.   We arrived, went in and noticed immediately the long lines.  We then noticed that there were an incredible amount of empty tables.  People were complaining.  Loudly!  No Christmas cheer  in this place.  We sat down and waited to be seated.  We waited for a good half hour, getting to know several people who were also patiently waiting. Eventually, Little Miss got loose from us and wandered towards the  counter area.  My daughter chased after her, coming back to tell us all that we were not going to eat there.  She had glanced in the kitchen and was appalled at the appearance there.  Obviously, being short-staffed, they figured that cleaning the kitchen was not important.  We left.

Once in the car, I once more suggested the Chinese restaurant.  Once more, I was ignored.  We headed to another known place ~ IHOP.  So, off we go.  The wait was long, but, we were at least seated.  We got drinks, and they were refilled when they went down.  We finally ordered and after another hour, our mediocre meal arrived. We were thankful for it, but, I honestly, at that point was thinking, full septic tank or not, I should have figured out something to cook at home.  Little Miss needed to be changed after dinner, so my daughter took her to the restroom to change her.  Upon returning, she reminded us of a couple whom we had talked with at Denny’s.  She had run into her in the restroom and found out that shortly after we left, a fist fight broke out at Denny’s between a staff person and one of those disgruntled customers.  I guess the police were called.  Definitely no Christmas cheer there…

We left the house at 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Day.  We didn’t arrive home until after 7:30.  It was a long time for a disappointing meal, but, we had food in our tummies and for that we were grateful.

On the way home we noticed that the Chinese restaurant was still open.  My daughter, who, was tired from keeping Little Miss occupied and happy,  said, I am going to check and see what the reviews of that place is.  If it is even a 3 star review, I am going to kill myself.  Opening the phone information she read off several 4+ star reviews.  With a mixture of laughter and indigestion we sighed.  We could have had some good Chinese food.  Oh well, I guess that is something to keep in mind in case we ever have another Christmas like this one.

We came home.  Victorious.   We had survived Christmas…   It was not the version I had dreamed of for weeks before it’s arrival, but, a Christmas very different. I know through the years the story of this Christmas will be remembered.  It will be retold.  Years from now it will be a family story that one begins to wonder if it really happened.   For those of us who were there, we will remember.  We may forget what gifts were given.  We may forget the frustration of the day.  We may even forget what started the whole day, but, we will remember how different it was.  We will remember laughing over the stupid things.  We will remember it was a time of bonding.  How can you not bond over septic waste and shop vacs?   Yes, this is what our Christmas was this year.  I think I am looking forward to 2017.  Thanks for stopping by today, have a great few last days of 2016 and may 2017 hold all the joys and blessings your heart can hold.  Cathi (DAF)

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Once Upon A Time at Christmas…

A week ago, my daughter (Little Miss’ mom) and her family arrived for Christmas.  It was the first time in a decade that we were able to spend Christmas together.  I was so thrilled!  Her sister, obviously my other daughter,  was supposed to join us, but, at the last moment, couldn’t.  We were disappointed, but, understood.

The days leading up to Christmas were full.  We had fun, visiting, playing with our Little Miss, who is two and filled with giggles and two-year old conversations.   We went shopping for last-minute gifts, for groceries, for nothing in particular.  It was a lovely few days leading up to the 25th.

Christmas Eve we set out gifts and made plans for the following morning.  My daughter made a breakfast casserole in the crock pot and we planned to get up and head to church.  We each had our outfits ready to go, and it was all planned out.  Get up, have a nice breakfast, go to church, come home and open gifts and have a nice dinner.

Christmas Eve we went to bed.  All was quiet…   Hubby and I got up, showered, got ready for church.  Our daughter was getting up and Little Miss’ daddy was kind enough to discover that our guest room bath had standing water in it.  Such a wonderful Christmas gift for us!  We went to the basement and lo!  there was more standing water.

That lovely Christmas breakfast casserole stayed in the crock pot just a bit longer.  Hubby and I changed from our church clothes into work clothes.  So, for the next two hours the guys worked.  Pumping and vacuuming water from the floor.  Turning off water certain places to make certain it didn’t leak. Moving a toilet to make certain it wasn’t the cause of the water.  Discovering that our septic tank decided to be full.  Full on Christmas Day.  Not Christmas Eve…. no…. Christmas Day.  It could not wait another day… no… full on Christmas Day.

So, we called and got an appointment for the next morning to have the tank pumped.  That was good.  It was going to happen soon.  We had water to drink that did not need to be run through the sink.  So, that was great.  But… cooking.  I just could not think about doing that in my kitchen.   This will be in part 2…

We ate some breakfast, although the guys did not have much appetite after clearing the rooms.  I had the fumes of disinfectant lingering in my nose as I scrubbed the floors where the water had been and where the men had walked.  We ate, not truly enjoying the casserole that was delicious.

We read the Christmas story.  Little Miss was a bit distracted, but hubby was trying to salvage something of the day.  The story ended.  I went to the kitchen and decided that mimosas were in order.   And then we opened gifts.  Christmas, as it is spoken of in  “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”  did come.  “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.  Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… He thought …means a little bit more.”   Christmas came even though the tank overflowed…

Christmas came.  We laughed with one another as we sat in our stinky work clothes.  We hugged and thanked each other even though only half of us managed to shower that morning.  We had each other and the cares and weight of the messy morning did not ruin what happens when family sit around a tree on Christmas morning and share with one another.

Christmas came as it did centuries ago.  Christmas came quietly that day long ago.  That day when our Savior was born.  Christmas came without ribbons, it came without tags.  It continues to come even when the morning is filled with shop vacs and buckets and scrubbing.    I hope your Christmas was special like ours, but, not as eventful as ours turned out.   Cathi

 

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Crumbs from Christmas….

Before I dig into my day I stop and think of what I want to accomplish.  I know I need to clean.  I look where our Christmas tree stood until late yesterday afternoon.  I swept up most of the fallen needles, but there are a few left on the carpet… waiting to be swept up by the vacuum.

The fake presents I wrap and decorate so that our dog does not lift his leg on our tree or drink the tree water lay around the floor looking oddly out of place.  Today, I will unwrap those boxes and throw them away, saving the ribbon and decorations on them for next year.

The dining room has the sad remains of my ‘snack’ table.  Sad, forgotten and unwanted cookies lay on the plates knowing that they will never be eaten and today will join the wrapping paper and boxes in the trash.

The mostly empty tins of pralines, now soggy and too sugary  await their final destination also.

The only hopeful is the tin of peppermint bark, almost completely empty, but still tasty.  I think that will be my reward for cleaning up the Christmas crumbs.

So, onward I move, not nearly as excited as I was a month ago when the ribbons and wrappings were fresh and looked beautiful.  It is a new year now and time marches on.  Valentine’s Day  decorations are beginning to peak through the mounds of Christmas decorations awaiting their long summer’s sleep.  Red and green is replaced by red and pink.

I already feel like this year is speeding by.  I look around in anticipation of what this year holds.  But, first, I must get busy.   Thanks for stopping by.  DAF

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Lessons Learned…

Today is the 26th of December, Boxing Day as it is celebrated by our neighbors to the north.   It is a day we celebrated with our dear friends in San Diego who lived in Canada for several years.
I wake up on the 26th yearning for the buffet that they always had and the eggnog I used to make.  It was a day to keep on celebrating and I loved it.

Today, is quiet.  Hubby still is playing Christmas music and it is nice.

As we walked our puppy this morning we looked at what was at the curb for our trash pickup, which is every Thursday.  We smiled as we saw the empty toy boxes, saw which children got new riding toys, and what kids like Spiderman, who got new crock pots.  It was fun.  Neighbors were putting last-minute trash out, looking bleary eyed and exhausted.  Yes, Christmas arrived and people had wonderful days.

Yesterday was a good day.  Like the Who’s in Whoville, Christmas came.  It dawned without the fanfare and the presents and bags.  It was a quiet day, but a day that was filled with peace and gifts  that weren’t bought.

What I learned this year was that people understand.  They love and they give.  The giving comes in the form of hugs, laughter, baked goods, joy in seeing you and sometimes emails.

My heart was full last night.  Honestly, I had dreaded the day.  I didn’t want it to come.  I feared that it would be a day of sadness and tears.  It wasn’t.  The day held everything we hold dear on Christmas.  It was a complete day, except for the power going out a few short times in the morning, which led to lots of beeping of electronics and lights.  That somehow led to the cable being out for most of the day meaning no t.v., computer, or phones.  Even that wasn’t horrible as we had our cell phones to talk with, and we watched our old Christmas movies.

All in all, this year, this lean year was a blessing and I know as I close the scrapbook of Christmas, this one will shine in a few years.

I have enjoyed sharing my Christmases with you all.  Now, on to the next adventure in writing, have some thoughts running through my mind, have to catch them as they try to escape with leftover ribbon bits.    Thanks for stopping by, DAF

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Treasures…

This morning as hubby was reading the Christmas story from the book of Luke, I heard a phrase that I have often heard, but, for some reason it stood out today.

The phrase is, “but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.”  (Luke 2:19, New Living Translation).

Mary treasured things in her heart.  Not much different from the rest of us, is she?

Today I know I have already experienced things to treasure in my heart.  A text to my hubby from our son-in-law that brought tears to our eyes.  A reminder that he is an answer to our prayers.   An invitation to Skype so we could see Little Man open his presents.  We got to see him learn to untie package bows and tear into paper.  We got to hear a book he got today, and see his abacus with the ABC’s on it.. and got to see him look at his xylophone, not certain exactly what to do with it yet… the mallets were fun to throw though.  He called it his ‘lylo’.  Seeing him was a gift that was such a joy to see.

An email from my sister that touched my heart more than she would expect.  I sobbed.   A gift that was unexpected and knowing it was from my sister who had to fill my Mom’s shoes at an age when she should still be a child.  I still tear up thinking of her love in sending this email.

A knock on the door and seeing two friends with their hands filled with goodies, homemade salsa and chips to enjoy and baked goods to finish it all off.

Yes, treasures all… and I will keep all these things in my heart and think of them often.

May today be filled with treasures of your own today.  Merry Christmas.  DAF

 

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Happy Christmas Eve…

Today,  on Christmas Eve, I defer to an author whom I love.  He can describe winter and Christmas so much better than I can.  Hope you have a wonderful Christmas filled with the laughter of family and friends. May there be many memory making moments for you this year, and now, courtesy of Charles Dickens, I leave you with this quote from the Pickwick Papers

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish
days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can
transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own
fire-side and his quiet home! 

Merry Christmas!  DAF

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Christmas Love Story…

40 years ago hubby went into the navy.  He left the day after Thanksgiving in 1973.  I got up at 4:30 a.m. to ride down with hubby and his father to the recruiting office where a bus met them to drive them to Pittsburgh.  From Pittsburgh he got on his first plane and flew to Florida.  His father dropped me off at home and then I went to work early so that I wouldn’t think of him leaving.

We had dated through high school and our plan was to date until he went into the Navy.  We didn’t think much more after that.  We wrote letters back and forth for the next few weeks.  He was able to come home for leave for a couple of weeks over Christmas.  I thought it was kind that he was able to come home.  Thinking back on it, I am certain the staff wanted some holiday routine and not have to babysit all the kids who were going through boot camp at the time.  I knew it was a big deal to have him home.

He left with a full head of hair, and when he arrived at my doorstep three days before Christmas that year, I was shocked when I saw his shaved head.  He was in his uniform, swept me up into his arms and in a fluid motion took off his cover (hat).  I remember being put down on my feet and staring at his head.  I had never seen him with no hair.  I really hope I never do again.  He has a really lumpy head that does not look good bald.  Anyhow, I digress.

Our letters had talked about marriage.  We approached  the subject the way children do.  We thought we were old and mature, but, we were babies.    Since the subject had been brought into the open, I was excited for my Christmas present.  I was hoping that it would be small and very sparkly.

Christmas eve was when we would exchange our gifts.  I can’t remember what I got him.  But, I will always remember what I received.  I got a bracelet from him.  It was beautiful, silver and little hearts  all around it.  It was not a bangle or a charm, just a simple row of hearts that clasped together with a safety chain on it.  It will always be my favorite piece of jewelry, although, in our travels, it disappeared along the way.

Hubby actually proposed after Christmas, which was on a Tuesday that year.  That Friday we went downtown and snuck into a jewelry store.  Everyone went to town on Friday nights, so we tried to hide ourselves in the store while we looked for rings.  We picked a set out, got our fingers measured and walked out of the store knowing the rings would be ready in a couple of days.

The following morning I went to work and hubby talked to my Dad.  We got permission to marry, as long as we waited for at least six months.  We waited thirteen months to get married.

It seems like a century ago, and I know it is close to being a half century ago that this all happened.  But, there is a part of me that remembers everything so clearly.  The smell of the air, what I wore, his smile, my smile and the sparkly bracelet that covered my wrist.  What was one of your favorite gifts?

Have a wonderful day today, thanks for stopping by.  DAF

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A lull…

Today there has been a lull in my thinking.  A lull in my doing.  A lull in the day.  I haven’t stopped.  I just have paused.

My thinking today has jumped from one topic to another.  Each one a bit coherent, but not actually.

This has been a strange season of Christmas for us.  On one hand, I have been filled with memories and joys and have sat with my memory scrapbook open.  Each page has held a special thought.  Special feelings in my heart that give me peace and a dose of the syrup of gratitude.  I have spent the past few weeks reliving times passed.

With the times that are gone, it has armed me to think of what is transpiring now, in the present, and be grateful for what is.

We have planned on being on the road today.  We would have been almost to D.C., if our plans had gone perfectly.  But, things have come up and here we sit, at home.  Me, grumpy, and trying hard to see the grateful-ness.

But, as I have written the past few weeks, perfection does not go hand in hand with Christmas.  Perfection has never really been a part of Christmas.  If it had, then, the Christ child would not have been born in a stable, He would not have been laid in a manger.  A crude structure that holds feed for animals.  His mother would not have had to travel nine months pregnant on a donkey just to be part of a census.

No, perfection and Christmas does not go together.   Yet, each Christmas is perfect, its memories are perfect memories, its laughter and joy is perfect. Families gathered together are perfect.

May your Christmas be an imperfect perfection.   Thinking this afternoon, as the sun begins to set and trying to find the grateful today.  Thanks for stopping by.  DAF

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Lyrics…

Each year I hear Karen Carpenter’s song, “Merry Christmas, Darling”.  I love that song.  It makes me cry.  Of course, many Christmas songs bring tears to my eyes, I’m just like that.

This song, though, returns me to 1983.  No matter what year it is, I am immediately taken back to the Christmas of 1983.  Maybe because, that year, I was alone with our two daughters.  Our oldest was four years old, about to turn five and our youngest was three months old.  Hubby had left when I was seven months pregnant and he hadn’t met our youngest yet.  It was our first Christmas in our own home.  Hubby hadn’t seen it yet, either.  I mean, he saw it when we decided to buy it, but, he hadn’t seen it with our furniture in it or our Christmas tree in it.

It was a long Christmas season that year.  It seemed that every other song on the radio was Merry Christmas, Darling.  It haunted me, it reminded me that I was alone, dealing.  Dealing with a car that refused to stay working, children who kept catching colds, and a bank account that refused to stay healthy too.    I was sad that Christmas.  It was a different Christmas.

But, I had good friends to keep me going and our girls had a wonderful day, filled with gifts and love and laughter.

I remember clearly that Christmas, because, each year I often hear the strains and the lyrics of that song.  It is a reminder to me to appreciate my hubby and having him near me.  It reminds me that there are many, many military families who are apart this season.  There are wives missing the normal, frustrating things that happen during this time.  There are parents putting children to bed, trying to make them calm and not so homesick for a missing parent.   There are those spouses who sit in the dark rooms, lit only by the tree lights hoping that their mates are safe, warm and okay.

Yesterday, I heard that song and these thoughts flooded my mind.  I wanted to share them with you, along with the words of the song.  And, to those who are serving this country of ours, thank you, Merry Christmas to you all, may this season pass quickly and may you be in each other’s arms soon.  God Bless you and keep you.

Merry Christmas, Darling
Songwriters: CARPENTER, RICHARD LYNN / POOLER, FRANK
Greeting cards have all been sent The Christmas rush is through But I still have one wish to make A special one for you
Merry Christmas, darling We’re apart, that’s true But I can dream And in my dreams I’m Christmasing with you Holidays are joyful There’s always something new But every day’s a holiday When I’m near to you The lights on my tree I wish you could see I wish it every day The logs on the fire Fill me with desire To see you and to say That I wish you Merry Christmas Happy New Year too I’ve just one wish On this Christmas Eve I wish I were with you The logs on the fire Fill me with desire To see you and to say That I wish you Merry Christmas Happy New Year too I’ve just one wish On this Christmas Eve I wish I were with you
Merry Christmas, darling
DAF
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Christmas Cookies…

I love cookies.  I love the smell of them while they are baking.  I love warm cookies out of the oven along with a cup of tea.  I love to eat cookies.  I don’t like baking cookies.  If I didn’t want my house to smell delicious I would never make them.

I have a love/hate feeling on Christmas baking.  There was a time when I loved the thought of making and rolling out and decorating sugar cookies.  The whole process was wonderful.  I looked forward to it all.  That was a long time ago.

When we lived in Japan, I taught English at a couple of schools in the area.  I taught the bulk of my classes at a small English school in a city that was several train stops away.  The Christmas I taught there, the interpreter told me that there would be parties the week before their winter break.  I was young.  Very young, in my early 20’s.  We had no children and I decided that, as a gift, from me, I would give each student a Christmas gift.  I made popcorn balls, bought Hershey candy bars(the large size), a candy cane, fudge, and made each student four decorated sugar cookies.   Each cookie was decorated nicely.  The trees were frosted with green icing, I put little ornaments on them and garland.  The angels had white wings with sugar glitter on them, their hair was piped on and they were beautiful.  Each cookie was different, but as perfect as I could make them.

Yes, I was insane!  That year cured me of any desire for the rest of my life to decorate Christmas cookies.  I made about 24 dozen cookies that Christmas.  That was just the sugar cookies.  I made other cookies for the house and parties and neighbors.

Of course, giving the students the goodies was  a total surprise not only to them, but to me.  I figured they would scarf them all down and it would be gone before I finished passing them out.  That’s what I always did in school parties.  But, these students were stunned.  They looked at their goodie bags like I had handed them gold.  They took out each item and oohed and aahed over them.  They showed each other the cookies and gently put them away.  They all questioned the popcorn balls and a few of them nibbled a bit on them, but, then rewrapped them and put them back.  That was their party.  They ate the normal things they had each brought, but, my donations were carefully taken home.  They were amazed, and to this day, some 37 years later, I can still remember their reaction.

That was the last year I decorated cookies.  I did a lifetime of decorating in one year.  I make sugar cookies, but I throw some colored sugar on them and they are done.

I wonder where the idea of baking cookies originated, anyone know?  I should google it, or something.  This year, I haven’t baked much.  I have done a batch of cookies, and hubby and I have had those, but, that will be it.   I am wondering, anyone out there, what do you bake for Christmas?  Do you do more candy than cookies, or is it a good mix?

Just some thoughts this week before Christmas Eve.  Thanks for stopping by, DAF

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