Posted tagged ‘decorating’

“‘Twas Easter-Sunday. The full-blossomed trees Filled all the air with fragrance and with joy.”

April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!!

Alexa woke me up at 7:15 this morning so I could go down the street and decorate the tree beside my friends’ deck. It is a tradition. I draped garlands, old cards and egg shaped ornaments all over the tree then left quickly. I hate getting caught. I’ll go back down to my friends’ house later for baskets then we’ll leave for dinner.

It is a glorious Easter Sunday, sunny and warm, perfect for showing off new clothes and whirling dresses. The pictures will all be outside in front of budding trees, flowering bushes and the bright bulb flowers like the dafs and hyacinths.

When I was a kid, we wore our new clothes to church then over to my grandparents’ house in East Boston. My grandparents always had special Easter treats for all of us like candy and small baskets. I have one very distinct memory of an Easter Sunday with them in East Boston. My grandparents lived in an apartment before they moved a couple of streets away to a house. The apartment was the one on the second floor. My great-grandfather was still alive and living with my grandparents. He used to sit on a rocking chair in the room with the big gas heater. He’d yell and spit. We used to run as fast as we could to get by him to get to the TV room. I remember all of that, and I remember the Easter he snatched my basket away from me. I don’t remember the snatching, but I remember the horror, and I remember running to the kitchen crying to tell my mother what happened. My grandmother came to the rescue and got my basket back. I stayed in the kitchen for the rest of the visit.

When I was down the street this morning, I noticed the house across the street had eggs all over the grass and under trees. Later I heard the kids hunting and one yelling that he’d found more eggs. I figured he’d gotten to the lawn which had tons of eggs scattered  all over, no hunting skills required. The eggs were all colored plastic unlike the eggs of my day which were real, hard-boiled colored by hand eggs. Sometimes the count of found eggs was less than the count of hidden eggs. That’s why outside hunting was always best.

I hope you have the loveliest of Sundays and a wonderful Easter.

“My stomach rumbles. Plates of cookies, cake, and fudge. Christmastime is here.”

December 23, 2016

Today is Christmas Eve Eve, just about the longest day of the year to any kid. It has no significance. Nothing happens. It is the last day until tomorrow.

Last night, actually, sort of early this morning, I watched A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sims, my favorite Scrooge. I’ve also watched George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart and Mickey. My other must-see Christmas movies are The Bishop’s Wife which I watched the other night, A Miracle on 34th Street, the original, White Christmas and Holiday Inn. The only one I haven’t yet seen is White Christmas. I’m saving that for tomorrow night.

Tonight Gracie and I are going to look at lights. It is one of the traditions left over from when I was a kid. Back then, a Saugus neighborhood was our first destination. House after house, bush after bush and tree after tree were covered in lights. It was magnificent. The rest of the ride was hit or miss. We loved the houses decked all over in lights. They drew the oohs and ahs. There were no houses with white lights. All the bulbs were large and multi-colored. We had some on our front bushes, and they’d get so hot they’d almost burn your fingers. We had orange lights in the front windows. Other houses had red or blue, few had green. All the window lights in each house matched. I figured it was an unwritten rule of Christmas decorating.

I have to make cookies this afternoon. I’m thinking my orange cookies. They take a while to make then frost, but they are so worth it!

My living room smells like a forest of fir trees. At night, only the two window lights and the tree lights are lit. Between the aroma and the lights, my living room is the best place to sit.

“The cookie-verse is infinite”

November 28, 2016

Trying to find something to watch on TV is a losing battle. I told my remote to find me science fiction movies. The choices were strange. Cinderella was one. I guess it is the talking mice and the fairy godmothers. The only scifi choices I wanted to watch I’ve already seen or they cost money. I don’t get that money piece as many of the films are old and have already been on regular TV. If I had my druthers, I’d have a free channel devoted to B science fiction movies, the old black and white ones. I’d totally binge on those. Luckily, though, I don’t really need movies. I have books from the library, a couch and an afghan. I might even make popcorn.

The plastic dog door fell off again so I had to shut the back door because of the cold. It’s a good thing this is Gracie’s nap time or I’d be standing at the back door waiting for her to come inside. Later, I’ll try yet again to attach the new plastic door piece to the dog door frame. Because I did it once on the old plastic, I am determined to do it again.

My mother used to start calling around this time. She’d say, “Guess what I bought you this weekend,” and then she’d chuckle. I’d guess a few things, but I wasn’t ever right. On another call she’d tell me I was going to love what she had just bought me. Teasing me part of the fun of Christmas. My mother loved these days leading to Christmas with all the decorating and the baking. We’d discuss what each of us was making. I always made date-nut bread, coffee cake for Christmas morning, fudge for my sister and my dad, orange cookies for my mother and English toffee. My mother made sugar cookies, chocolate chip sometimes, biscotti one year and cookies press cookies another year. She’d also make a pie or two. The dining room table always had trays of goodies. My dad used to make several trips each night. He always drank milk with his cookies.

Every week I keep track of the number of miles I drive. Why I do that, I have no idea, especially now. I don’t go out every day. Tomorrow is my only must go out to do something day as Gracie has a vet appointment. Maybe on some other day, I’ll get a sudden urge to hit the road, if only for a ride, but then again, my house is warm and cozy and, best of all, I love being at home.

 

“There are many reasons to celebrate, but National Mustard Day just isn’t one of them.”

November 21, 2016

This morning I got to thinking. Thanksgiving is a day, one single day of family and food. For most of us the menu is the same. Turkey has the most prominent spot on the table. It generally arrives uncut so we can ooh and ah at the beauty of the roasted bird. My dad, at the head of the table, did the carving. He’d fill a platter with slices and then tear off a leg or two to complete the dish. He was the only one who loved a leg. The rest of the meal depends on family traditions though I suspect they’ll be gravy and mashed potatoes on many a Thanksgiving table. We always had a squash and carrot dish which originated with my aunt but was tweaked by my mother who substituted butternut squash, far more seasonable, for the undefined squash in the recipe. That was always the favorite vegetable. My father got his canned asparagus. None of the rest of us ate it. My mother would cook a few more vegetables, sometimes peas, creamed onions and a new dish or two. Cranberry sauce came from the can. One year my mother made a wonderful orange cranberry sauce and served it in oranges. It wasn’t a hit, especially for my father who seldom liked anything new for the holidays. I loved it and was glad it was packed in my doggy bag.

Okay, I majorly digressed. What I was originally thinking was Thanksgiving is a single day, while it is the Christmas season, many days. I know it seems to come earlier each year, but we do have 4 Sundays of Advent, the start of the season for me. During that time there is so much to do and most of it fun. Cookies have to be made, and best of all, they have to be decorated. The house gets decorated. I alternate decorations year by year, but the tree never really changes. New ornaments are added but the usual appear every year. Cards need to be addressed and sent. I love buying Edward Gorey cards and found 2 wonderful sets of them this year. I know people sour on having to buy gifts, but I love shopping for just the right ones. Years ago one of my friends said she loves anticipating what I give her as it is always so neat which is why I love to shop. Just because I’m older (not old, older) doesn’t mean I forget the joys of the season. We decorate gingerbread houses. I play Christmas music and always sing along. I sit in the living room just to look at the tree.

Thursday is close. In the morning I’ll watch the parade, crack nuts, eat a few tangerines and some M&M’s just the way I did when I was a kid. My friends and I are going out for dinner, a new tradition started last year. I’ll probably cook a small turkey so I can have a mini Thanksgiving complete with leftovers. On Friday I’ll let everyone else shop, but on Saturday I’ll finish my list. Saturday night I’ll put my feet up, enjoy some egg nog and a Hallmark movie, and I’ll not wonder how it will end!

“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.”

December 15, 2015

The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the day is quite warm. I’m thinking winter has forgotten to come. Not that I’m complaining, but there is a certain expectation here in New England about Christmas and winter and maybe even snow.

My mother was always the architect of Christmas. She bought the gifts, did all the baking, trimmed the tree and decorated the house. My father did his best. He’d help my mother wrap, do the outside lights and put the tree in the stand. He used to do tree lights, but one year they were so tangled he refused to hang them. He just threw them on the floor and sat down. No one wanted to remind him he had put the lights away the year before. The lights then became my responsibility. I was quite fussy about where they were hung, and I tried to vary the colors of the bulbs so same colors wouldn’t be together. My father also helped by being the official taster of Christmas goodies. He did love his sweets. He knew he could count on having sugar cookies, her peanut butter balls, a pie or two, and some different cookies, whatever struck my mother’s fancy from a magazine or a cookbook. I remember her Auntie Mary’s, a chocolate cookie with a cream in the middle.

I began baking and bringing the goodies to my mother’s. I made fudge which was grainy and was my father’s favorite. I made my grandmother’s date nut bread and one year I made orange cookies. My mother liked them so much she hid several so they’d be some left just for her. My English toffee always disappeared quickly.

One year my sister and her family from Colorado came for Christmas. She bought goodies including whoopie pies, one of our all time favorites. What was amazing and extraordinary was she brought spritz cookies because my mother always made them when we kids. She’d add coloring to the dough and we’d have white, red and green cookies. I also made spritz cookies for the same reason. We were all going to be together for Christmas for the first time in many years and spritz cookies was a connector to our childhood Christmases. My mother remembered those years, and she too made spritz cookies. The three of us through those cookies celebrated the shared memories of Christmases past.

“Christmas is coming; it is almost here! With Santa and presents, good will and cheer!”

December 12, 2015

The Christmas lights are going up right now. Skip is hauling the boughs out of the cellar and putting them on the front fence. I will no longer have the darkest house in the neighborhood.

We’re still in that warm spell. Today’s high here on the cape is supposed to be 59˚. Last winter was crazy because of all the snow. This winter has its own brand of craziness with the warmth of December.

I bought some ribbon candy the other day, the thin kind, the sort which carries a whole bunch of memories. When I was a kid, we didn’t have all the choices of candy decked out for the holidays that we have now. Boxes of chocolates were around, but they were more for gifts than for our consumption. We had lots of hard candy. Some of it came in a box similar to the animal crackers box including the string. The boxes I remember best were blue and had the Three Kings and the star on each side. I liked the peppermint, the cinnamon and the green ones which tasted of spearmint.  My mother also bought hard candy for the house. I remember the candy would stick together in the bag, but she’d put them out anyway. We’d pick through to get our favorites. I loved spearmint the best.

The thin ribbon candy stuck to our back teeth so we used to click our teeth together to hear the sound of the candy, a sort of thud. I liked the green ones best and then the red.

We used to get lollipops in our stockings. They were the see through types made in a mold and were mostly Christmas trees. It took ages and ages of licking to finish them so sometimes we’d get to the point where we couldn’t lick one more time. We were done. They’d get tossed.

I buy my sister thin ribbon candy every year. It is a connection to all of our Christmases. It is a tradition.

Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.”

December 15, 2014

Today is much the same weather as we’ve had for days. The temperature is in the 40’s. The sun is gone and probably enjoying warmer climes so we are stuck with perpetually gray skies. On my to do list is the tree. I still need to move a few small pieces of furniture to open the corner where the tree fits beautifully. I also need to do a bit more hunting downstairs as I haven’t found the Christmas stockings yet. The tree ornament boxes are already up from the cellar. The tree stand is stored in its box and will be easy to find. I hope to finish decorating tonight.

When I was a kid, once December came around, my house always felt like Christmas. My mother didn’t put up tons of decorations, but the lights in the windows, the huge tree in the corner, the stockings hanging on the bannister and a few Santa knickknacks were more than enough. I remember the Santa cups. There were four of them and the handles spelled Noel when the Santas were beside each other. I don’t know what happened to the original cups, but I found the same set and bought it. I also bought a few other ceramic Santas from the 50’s and some plastic ones which light up with a single white bulb. Of all the holidays, it is Christmas which brings back my childhood and fills me with joyful memories.

My mother gave us the gift of Christmas. My dad came from a socks and underwear family. My mother put whimsy in Christmas and found the best stocking stuffers. Decorating the tree was a full family affair, and my mother was the director. As we’d get closer to Christmas she’d tease us about what we were getting and did that the whole of her life. She’d call and say, “You’ll love what I bought for you today.” She was always right. The other night my brother-in-law called. He said listen to this and I heard paper being crumbled. He told me that was the wrapping paper he was putting on my gift, the perfect of all gifts. My mother would have loved that phone call!

“I call this season fake weather. The sun is shining but it cold like the north pole outside.”

December 12, 2014

Piles of Christmas bags filled with wrapped presents sits on the couch ready to be boxed and mailed. My marathon wrapping session of Colorado gifts has ended. When I finish here, it is over the river and through the woods to UPS where they will box and sent. I will pay and breathe a sigh of relief.

I don’t have my tree yet. That will have to be on Sunday as tomorrow is booked with the annual play then out to dinner with my sister. The play this year is Meet Me in St. Louis. The dinner will be Italian. It always is.

I need to get in gear. My house isn’t the magical Christmas scene it usually is by now. My back is to blame. It hurts when I carry things and hurts when I don’t. The only time I get relief is sitting with pillows behind me. I’m thinking that sounds like a bon-bon day. I’ll wear frills and call for the maid to indulge my every whim.

A spawn of Satan came in the mail. im6 sent it to me. The spawn is grasping a bag of acorns, ammo I suspect. It is in this room with me. I swear its eyes follow me, and I think I heard the acorns rattling. The spawn is cute which is its weapon. You get drawn in and then whack. The spawn has you. Gracie thought it was hers. She does have several stuffed toys so it was a natural mistake, but I saved the spawn from Gracie clutches. I don’t know why. I’ll regret it. I’ve seen all the movies. Chucky comes to mind.

Today is sunny and the sky is blue. I almost didn’t recognize either one as it has been so long since their last appearance. They are welcomed, but neither is enough to keep the cold at bay. It’s in the mid 30’s and will stay that way all day. It’s a bundle day.

“…freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin – inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night…”

November 30, 2013

When I went to get the papers, I saw the tips of the grass sparkling in the sun and my windshield covered in frost. It was a cold night. The sun, here earlier, is now hidden behind a cloud. I think it will do that all day long: in and out, in and out playing its own little game of peek-a-boo. It isn’t warm this morning. It’s 34˚.

The days between Thanksgiving and Christmas always seemed the longest stretch of time. The first couple of weeks after Thanksgiving were just like any other weeks only colder. They gave no hint of what was coming. The first signs of Christmas slowly began to appear. A few houses had lights, and the stores uptown put their Christmas decorations in the windows. Then the fire station was outlined in lights and Santa was climbing the chimney. The lampposts were decorated up and down the street, and the stage for the carolers was placed right on Main Street in the square. Just seeing all those decorations used to get me excited for Christmas, and the closer it got, the more excited I’d get.

My parents would finally buy the tree. It aways went in the corner where the TV usually was. The tree had to sit there for a while so the branches could fall. Those trees of my childhood were never all that full. There were empty spaces, but that made it easier for small hands to decorate the tree without mishaps. My father did the lights first. He wasn’t a patient man, and those lights drove him crazy. He’d check the sets one bulb at a time for the bulb that was out. If two were out, lighting that set was an impossibility until my father replaced every bulb. He’d then check the ones he took out and used the good bulbs for replacements. My father had no artistic sense. He’d just put those lights on willy-nilly. It always sort of horrified my mother who would then move the lights around until they looked symmetrical about the tree. She’d next drape the silver garlands on the branches. Then it was time to decorate. My mother put the big, beautiful bulbs on the top branches. We weren’t allowed to touch those. I have one of them my mother gave me, and I always put it on a top branch and think of my mother when I do. We’d pick an ornament out of the box and it was always filled with memories. We’d put it wherever we wanted or my mother would suggest a bare spot needing an ornament.

I loved decorating the christmas tree. Every night after that, I’d lie on the floor for a while and look up at the lights through the tree. They always looked magical to me.

“Easter tells us that life is to be interpreted not simply in terms of things but in terms of ideals.”

March 31, 2013

The sun is shining on this Easter morning. The air is still, and the day is getting warmer. No winter coats will cover pastel Easter dresses. I can hear birds singing even though the windows are closed. Yesterday I saw a few buds on one of my bushes. The buds are tiny and closed tightly, but they are another sign that spring is gaining hold.

The alarm rang at 6:15 this morning, and I turned it off and went back to sleep for an hour. I had set it early so I could sneak down my friends’ house and decorate the tree which hangs over their deck: it’s an annual Easter surprise. Though if it’s annual, is it really a surprise? Anyway, when I realized how late it was, I was afraid they’d be awake, but Gracie and I went anyway. The car was covered in frost so I scrapped the windows and off we went. At their house, all the shades were down so they were still abed. I went on the deck and started decorating. One of the giant decorated paper lanterns fell over the deck rail. That meant walking off the deck then all around the outside of the deck and through the underbrush to retrieve it. That was an adventure. The leaves and branches were soaked and sucked up one of my slippers. I had to yank it out of the muck. I found a bird feeder covered in wet leaves and put it on the deck rail. I also saw a mango. I’m still perplexed a bit about the mango, strange spot for one. While I was mucking about, the door opened and out came Darci, their dog. Whoever let her out never looked so I wasn’t caught. I walked back to the deck, petted Darci for a while, hung the lantern then sneaked away. I just got a call thanking me for the surprise and telling me how lovely the tree looks.

I remember so well Easter Sunday mass when I was young. The church was always beautiful and filled with light. The sun shined through the stained glass windows. The dark purple of lent had been replaced by white and all the statues were uncovered. Flowers decorated the floor in front of and all around the altar. I remember the lilies because they were the tallest. The church was always crowded. Women wore hats, fancy hats with veils, small see through veils that went down as far as their eyes. The men wore suits and carried their hats into the church. Little girls wore dresses in pinks and blues and all the different shades of pastel. They wore short white gloves and round hats with ribbons. Their shoes were patent leather, both black and white, and were worn with fancy white socks with lace around the edges. Some boys wore suits, ones with jackets checkered in the front. Others wore white shirts and ties and new pants with deep creases. The shoes were always new and always with laces. The choir sang at Easter. If I had known the word back then, I would have said it was majestic, mass on Easter Sunday.

Happy Easter!