Posted tagged ‘ornaments’

“Christmas is a bridge. We need bridges as the river of time flows past. Today’s Christmas should mean creating happy hours for tomorrow and reliving those of yesterday.”

December 9, 2017

Today is cloudy and the rain has started again. When I took Gracie out at one, it had already rained a bit and was cold and damp. I expected a bit of snow when I woke up, but the cape is too warm so it’s raining. My sister, north of Boston, is getting snow. She says it’s pretty.

Yesterday the Christmas spirit took a short hiatus. I brought my ugly fake spruce pine tree up from the cellar one step at a time and put it in the dining room. First I uncovered it then I worked on the branches which had bent and given the tree more of a bush look. Ornaments had fallen to the bottom of the cover so I put them back on the tree. I plugged in the lights which always stay on the tree. They didn’t work. The strand had 200 lights and was intertwined in the branches. Getting the strand off was a monumental project which frustrated the heck out of me so I went with scissors and cut off the strand a piece at a time. I threw each piece to the kitchen floor accompanied by a few curses. I then put new lights on the tree. After the tree was lit, I sat and looked at it for a while. It was beautiful and worth all of that trouble.

Today is decorate the tree day, and I love to decorate my tree. First go on the lights then the garlands then the ornaments. Many of the ornaments carry a story. A few were needlepointed by my mother. One is a K for Kathleen and the three kings which are on the ornament. Another is Father Christmas holding a steaming pudding. Many of the ornaments came from my travels. Pinocchio came from Italy, the felt stars from Hungry, the tassels from Morocco, the fish from Portugal, a string puppet from England, old clip glass ornaments from Russia and round compounds and Black girls in bright cloth from Ghana. Glass ornaments from my childhood, some a bit scratched, go in prominent places. Other ornaments I found here and there, even in thrift shops. An ugly angel with wispy hair, a gift from mother, a circus lion tamer, a pink flamingo, Mark Twain, Sherlock Holmes and Peter Pan are some favorites which come to mind. One of my garlands made up of realistic pop corn and cranberries reminds me of Shauna, a boxer of mine, who ate the real popcorn off the tree by dragging the garland with her teeth.

Christmas is filled with warm memories.

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

December 5, 2017

The morning has been a busy one here at the Ryan estate. The staff has decorated the grounds with multi-colored lights. Large ornaments hang from trees, and a spotlight gives the ornaments a twinkle. The back deck is awash with lights. A smaller star joins the big star on the fence gate. A wooden sled draped with white skates is now by the front steps and is lit by a string of colored lights. A wreath is on the front fence gate and hanging in the middle of it is a wooden fish. The front door also has a wreath but hanging from its middle is bright coral. The crowning achievement is the tree. It is in the stand in the living room where it will sit for a day or two before being decorated. The tree, even naked, is beautiful and full of branches and soft needles. Already the aroma of pine has begun to waft through the living room. A bayberry centerpiece is ready to take its place in the middle of the dining room table once the Christmas runner has been found.

The outside is finished. All I need to do is check the lights tonight to make sure the timers are correct, and the front and back lights are turning on around the same time.

The living room is a chaotic mess. All the presents are now downstairs. They are piled on the couch and chair and even the floor. They need to be catalogued and wrapped, but that is for another day. I did vacuum the dirt and needles which came in with the tree but that’s it. I’m done for the day.

I’m watching the 1966 Andy Williams Christmas show. Already his brothers have dropped by as have his mother and father. His mother is wearing a fur stole. His wife Claudine, not yet notorious, wants help picking the tree. The Osmond Brothers are now singing. They are dressed in pink shirts and white bib overalls and singing about peppermint. Donny is tiny compared to his brothers. I probably saw this back in the day as we never missed an Andy Williams Christmas.

Though the temperature is in the 40’s, the dampness has made the day feel even colder. There have been clouds all day, but the clouds are darkening. The rain will soon be here.

I’m thinking I deserve a bit of egg nog.

“Nothing burns like the cold.”

December 15, 2016

Today is a busy day. Peapod is due to arrive so I’ll have to put my groceries away, and my house will be getting cleaned this afternoon. I just have to lift my feet for the vacuum and the mop.

The Polar Vortex has appeared again. I always think it sounds like the title of a low budget scifi movie, but it isn’t. Tonight we will get down to single digits and there is a high wind warning for down here. Winds will be 25 to 35 mph with gusts between 55 and 65 mph. Bitterly cold wind chills are expected overnight. The warning also says there is a danger of power failures. If that happens, we’ll freeze to death (note: overly dramatic).

My tree is just about finished. It needs a few ornaments in the middle, in a spot with few branches, and it needs to be moved. I couldn’t move it, too heavy for me. When Lee comes to clean, I’ll have him move it to the corner then I’ll finish decorating. Last night I sat in the living room looking at my tree. It’s beautiful.

Many ornaments on the tree are memories. My mother needle-pointed my sisters and me ornaments with our initials. Mine is K for kings, the three kings. One Christmas I cross-stitched ornaments for everyone’s gift. My mother collected sheep so a few of her ornaments had sheep. I have them now. Pinocchio was bought in Florence, in a small toy shop my mother and I found. There is a stitched ornament from Hungry, a harp from Ireland my friends gave me, molas from Panama we got at the San Blas Islands, beaded ornaments from Ghana, a wooden angel also from Ghana and a small red and green Bolga basket I hang at the end of a branch so it doesn’t get lost. My mother gave us ornaments from our childhood for our trees. A few are mssing paint but most are in wonderful shape for being old. I love putting them on the tree.

My house is almost decorated. Gracie’s crate is getting some lights this year. A small plastic Santa is on the counter in the bathroom as sort of a night light. My kitchen has the pepper lights. Gracie has a holiday collar. I love festive!

“All tradition is merely the past.”

November 18, 2016

Today is cloudy and damp. The wind is blowing more leaves off the trees. The backyard has a layer of crusty brown leaves. Gracie makes noise when she walks around. The deck is covered again. Dismal is the best description of the weather.

I have a few errands today. Gracie is out of canned food, and I need bread. I’m also thinking I need a whoopie pie to chase away the clouds. Chocolate makes every day sunny.

My table is filled with catalogues with dog-eared pages. I am on the hunt for the last of my Christmas gifts. Now I am into the traditional. I need more ornaments as I give everyone a new ornament each year. That started when my nephews and niece were born. When they got married, they collected all their ornaments from my sister for their very first trees. Now I also buy ornaments for their kids and their husband and wives. Everyone also gets a bar of soap, not just any soap but soap with a bit of whimsy. I have bought lobsters, crabs, starfish, nutcrackers and, for the guys, soap on a rope. The kids get new books. I also hunt for fun gifts. My brother-in-law, the fisherman, is getting an antique drop line. I love to find stuff like that. It does take a bit of hunting, but the fun is in the hunt. Besides, I sometimes find a bauble for myself. Last night I tried to order gingerbread house kits. I started sending houses to be constructed when my oldest nephew was three.

Last night I tried to order gingerbread house kits, also traditional. I started sending houses to be constructed when my oldest nephew was three. I sent them every year after that. Now I send one to my nephew’s two children and my niece’s two. My two friends and I construct small ones on Christmas Eve, a newer tradition. I had trouble with the website so I called them last night. The owner happened to be there though the place was closed. He promised to call me back, and he did. This morning he found out the website stopped on the ordering page so he took my order over the phone. He was glad I had called him as they didn’t know about the problem.

I do have a great story about the finished house. One year my sister’s kids built theirs, and she warned them to keep their hands off it. Later she caught one of her kids licking the candy on the roof. His defense was he didn’t use his hands. He was right!

“Tradition is a fine thing. Nothing comes out of the blue, except perhaps thunderbolts and they are not really very useful things.”

November 6, 2016

Today is dark and rainy. The street is now covered with wet leaves and pine needles. They’ll dry then be blown away. My lawn too is covered in brown pine needles and has mostly disappeared. Every small breeze drops yellow oak leaves to the deck. I can watch them fall from the window. My den light is lit giving the room a cozy feel. Gracie and Maddie are asleep. I love mornings like this.

This week I have a meeting on Tuesday, and that is the only entry on my dance card. The rest of the week is wide open. I have some stuff I could do like go through the Christmas presents piled on a guest room bed and catalogue them by person so I can know what I still need to buy. I love to find just the right gifts for people, and it takes a bit of shopping to do that, and Christmas isn’t really all that far away. I did some Christmas shopping in Ghana, and I’m glad for that as the gifts will be unique. I bought yards and yards of traditional Ghanaian GTP cloth to be used to make presents. Now I wish I’d even bought more.

Some gifts have become part of the Christmas tradition. I give everyone a bag filled with smaller gifts including a new ornament with some sort of a personal touch like a fish for my brother-in-law the fly fisherman. The kids also get Christmas books. I give all the women earrings or some sort of jewelry. This year the jewelry is from Ghana. I buy soap for every bag like lobsters or starfish. I also try to find fun gifts. I bought an old fishing drop line for my nephew, a gift of memory for him. There are bigger gifts for the kids. The younger boys get Hess trucks. They are on the way. My only grandniece is getting a doll and a dress from Ghana. My nieces and nephews get gift certificates stuffed into their gift bags, something I started doing when they got into their 20’s and finding just the right gift got too difficult. They love the small gifts and opening the bags is always done on Christmas Eve. It is the tradition, and my family is big on Christmas tradition.

“Silent icicles, Quietly shining to the quiet moon.”

December 11, 2014

I may have seen the sun a bit earlier, but I can’t be sure. It’s not raining-that much I can say with certainty. I watched Gracie from the back door after I let her out and noticed birds in the side yard and one woodpecker on my back step. The birds were juncos, and there were many. I had a mixed seed bag so I threw some into the yard in case the juncos come back. They haven’t been around much so I figured I’d give them some incentive. Today is a one errand day, for dog food, and a wrap like crazy day. I need to get the Colorado gifts wending their way westward.

The old tinsel controversy has reared its head. My family called the silvery garlands tinsel. They were wound around the tree and draped for effect. We also had a red tinsel garland and a construction paper one we had made once. It was the worst for wear, but it was part of the tree tradition. The tinsel was put on the tree just after the lights. My mother did the honors as she knew exactly how the tinsel should look from branch to branch. The ornaments were next. The big breakables were put around the top by my mother. We always thought of them as the fancy ornaments, the untouchables. We all put on the rest of the ornaments including the small glass ones. I have some of those and I have one fancy ornament. My mother gave each of us a box filled with the ornaments of our childhood including one fancy ornament I still put high up on the tree. Last of all to be put on the tree were the icicles. We’d each take a handful and drape one at a time on a branch. After a while draping became boring, and mayhem ensued. We’d take handfuls and toss them on the tree to get rid of our piles. My mother would yell,”One at a time. One at a time.” We didn’t care. We were lost in the throwing frenzy. Finally my mother stopped us and took all our icicles. She then removed the piles on the branches and put the icicles on the tree one at a time. We watched television.

Now, were they icicles or were they tinsel? What about the garlands? Were they tinsel too? I say there is no question, no confusion. Those silvery strands were icicles because that’s what they looked like hanging from the branches. They looked like the real icicles which hung from the edges of our roof. I do admit the real ones never hung in clumps.

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”

November 30, 2014

Yesterday I gave the local economy quite the boost as did so many others. Some shops were filled with people. One store, a small one, had too many shoppers. You could barely move or even get close to the displays, but I still managed to find a few treasures and some unique gifts including the perfect one for my friend. I also found small ornaments to dress the wrapped packages. I do that every year. It’s a small gift, a remembrance for the tree. The book store was a wonderful stop. I got help in choosing just the right books for my 8-year-old grand-nephew and a couple for the 2-year-old. I also bought myself one. Gracie and I were out for almost three hours. She napped in the backseat between trips to the stores and watched for me whenever I parked. I napped when we got home and so did she. Today I have a few things to get: cat food, coffee filters and candle bulbs for the windows, nothing fun, just utilitarian. I’ll go before the football game.

Today is still grey, but it’s warm, in the 50’s, and will be for the next few days. I called my factotum about putting my lights up, and he hopes to be here tomorrow. Last year it was in the teens when he was doing the lights.

Birds galore at the feeders this morning. There were even a few battles for space. One bird swooped in and the poor bird already perched at the feeder took off in a bit of a fright. I have yet to fill the thistle, and I have a bag of sunflowers seeds to fill the big feeders. From my kitchen window I get to watch the birds. I sometimes stand there for a while drinking my coffee.

Yesterday my Turner Classic movies arrived. I now have 6 different 1950’s science fiction movies to watch. It will be black and white movie heaven. One of the films, Them, is actually a fine movie which always gets 3 stars. The rest I haven’t seen, and they  tend to get one or maybe 2 stars: The characters in two movies, Beyond the Time Barrier and The Time Travelers, arrive in futures decimated by plague and nuclear war. Only a handful of normal humans survive. Satellite from the Sky is another one I have never seen. It is about the outer-space detonation of the feared tritonium bomb, but it doesn’t go as planned, of course. I figure a cold night, a howling wind, popcorn and maybe malted milks balls will make for a perfect evening to view those old science fiction B-movies I love.

“I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.”

December 15, 2013

North of me is the winter wonderland. My sister, outside of Boston, got either 10 or 11 inches of snow. We got torrential rain all night. I could hear it on the roof. I have no idea why but heavy rain triggers the sensor lights in the backyard, the ones geared for Gracie, to go on. They stay on until the morning light triggers them to turn off. This is the second time it has happened. The first time I thought some giant animal had burrowed into the yard, but after 15 minutes, when the lights didn’t go out, I figured it was either a very patient animal casing the yard for dinner or some weird problem with the lights.

My errands yesterday were fruitful. I found two small trees, one smaller than the other but both perfect. They are now standing in the corner of the living room waiting to be decorated, but my back is bad so that may not happen until tomorrow, but I don’t mind the wait. The trees are lovely even without the lights and decorations.

I am not traveling north to see the play. My sister said it is miserable up there, really cold and dark, and when you add my back to the mix, staying home sounds like the better choice. I’ll watch Christmas movies and drink egg nog. I just watched Reginald Owen’s A Christmas Carol and now I’m watching the Muppets get their chance at Scrooge’s rehabilitation. It doesn’t matter how many times I see this movie I love it every time.

Christmas still has wonder no matter how old you are. I love the lights on my house, and I drive by the house sometimes just to look and to admire the view. I’m sure my neighbors, should they catch me, might think it strange. If I’m on the road and a house covered in lights catches my attention, I deviate my route just to see it. On my official light tour, I stop at Dunkin’ Donuts first for hot cocoa. Christmas music now plays the whole time I’m in the car. I sing along. I sit on the couch in the living room to read so I won’t miss a single minute of the tree. The season is short enough as it is. My two sisters always have live trees. I think it is built into our genetic code. They fill their houses with Christmas just as I do and my mother did. I remember she’d come down for the weekend, and we’d go shopping. She’d buy an ornament and say, “That’s it, no more ornaments. I have enough for several trees.” Well, she always bought more and always declared it the last. I have a couple of new ones this year. One is the official 2013 World Series ornament. The other is a sand dollar made from pottery.

It’s egg nog time!

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas lights.”

December 11, 2012

It really poured last night. The rain pounded the doors and windows. I got soaked. How did I get soaked you ask? Well, it was Christmas disaster number 2: the saga of the front outside lights. They didn’t light last night. The side and back were bright with color, but the front was dark. I put my sweatshirt hood up and went to the outside outlet. The timer wasn’t on; the outlet was dead. I reset it, plugged in the timer and the lights went on. It was a miracle. I got back into the house and turned around just in time to see the lights go out. I went outside and did it all over again to no avail. The outlet had gotten wet despite the cover. What to do? What to do? I took the timer out back and plugged it in an outlet on the deck. The timer still didn’t work. Did it short out I wondered? I came back inside to find out my kitchen lights didn’t work. I went downstairs to the circuit box and flipped switches. While down there, I brought up another timer and the longest extension cord in the world. I pluggedthe cord into a living room outlet, passed it behind a table so it wouldn’t be on the floor where I would definitely trip on it and fall then I took it out the front door and behind the bushes to the cords. I plugged the cords into the new timer then the timer to the world’s longest extension cord running out the front door. Everything worked. The only problem was the front door wouldn’t close over the cord so I left it ajar. At this point my sweatshirt was soaked and so were the hems of my pants and my shoes. I know I could have avoided everything and stayed inside, but I just couldn’t take half a lit house. Before I went to bed, I went outside and unplugged the extension, rolled it up as I went and brought it inside the house so I could shut the door. Today I’m hoping the outlet has dried.

I am going to decorate my tree today. Yesterday I slid it close to its resting spot but left room in the back so I can put the lights on without a struggle. Okay, without a struggle? Who am I kidding? I know that somehow something will go wrong. One year, after I’d put on all the lights, they all blew out. That was the year of the dark tree. Others years the trees fell; those were the years of the crooked trees. Another year the tree I’d bought to support the girls’ track team starting dropping needles at an alarming rate. That was the year of no tree.

Despite it all, I love Christmas. I love having a tree and sitting and just looking at it. I love Christmas carols and sugar cookies shaped liked snowmen. Today I’m going to decorate my tree, and despite everything, I am still an optimist. I have the highest hopes.

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”

December 9, 2012

During The 12 Disasters of Christmas, last night’s syfi channel movie,  there wasn’t a single Fa La La La. Italy and Greece disappeared into the sea. The President was airborne because Washington had been fractured and was a gaping hole though at that point a droll observer might have opined Washington really hadn’t been affected at all. A crazy army general declared himself the leader of the new world and quoted biblical verses as proof but he was electrocuted by lightning bolts, proof he wasn’t. Our hero saved the world by inserting a rod, his birthright, into the head of a moai, one of six which had been buried in the US. The world was righted. I expect The 12 Disasters of Christmas will take its place among the giants of the season: Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story and one of my personal favorites, Jack Frost, the killer snowman.

The rain has disappeared and left a cold sunny day, but the rain is due back later today and will stay around until Wednesday.

The dining room and kitchen are pretty well decorated for Christmas. I made several trips from the cellar yesterday hauling decorations upstairs so today I’ll give my back a break, but the living room looks awfully bare. Maybe I need to get and put up my tree. I always think that the best part of decorating.

The tree holds the most memories. Many ornaments have stories attached and some come from places far away in space and time. Ornaments from my childhood hang on the tree. They are glass ones which survived four kids, a dog and a few tree disasters. Some of the paint has worn off in places, but I don’t care. I don’t really notice. Ghana is well represented. Michelle’s old ornaments will be hung on my tree for the first time. They were a precious gift from her. New ornaments from Ghana will join them. Hand-made ornaments are some of my favorites because of the love infused in the making of them. Peter Pan and Captain Hook are on my tree as is Dorothy’s witch. I have a really ugly ornament, a woman dressed in go-go boots and a pink outfit. She sits right in front, right next to the angel with the stringy hair. My tree has beauty and it has whimsy.

I love sitting in the living room looking at the tree bright with lights. Gracie usually joins me on the couch and puts her head on my lap. The two of us just sit there quietly together.