Posted tagged ‘presents’

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.

December 20, 2018

Today is a beautiful winter’s day. The sky is a bit overcast, but it is in the 40’s anyway. I’m glad I have a few errands to get me outside, including the dump. Henry needs food, both canned and dry, biscuits and bully sticks to keep him busy. I also need to fill the bird feeders and wrap a few presents. My friends and I are going out for Thai food then we’ll exchange gifts, usually a January event for us.

Last night I sat in the living room just to look at the tree and all the decorations. I decided the room was beautiful. It is gently lit. Light comes from the tree and from a huge basket by the fireplace in which sits a plastic fifties light-up Santa and a decorated gourd with white lights shining through small holes. Two trees sit on different tables. One is a driftwood tree on the big table and the other is a stark white branch tree on the table behind the nativity. Both have white lights. My dining room too is lovely. Most of the light comes from my scrub pine tree in the corner and another fifties plastic Santa in front of it. A small set of lights is in the centerpiece among the ornaments and the pomegranates. The small red ornaments shine.

At Christmas in Ghana where I lived in the Upper Region, in Bolgatanga, it was harmattan time. Hot, dry dusty winds blowing off the desert left every surface gritty. The days were usually in the high 90’s or even over 100˚. The nights were cold, down to the 70’s. I had a wool blanket on my bed, the same one which hangs from the couch back in the living room. My mother had sent decorations and a tiny tree. She even sent a paper brick fireplace for my wall. I hung my stocking on it. I was not looking forward to Christmas, my first away from home. Patrick, another volunteer, and I decided to have a party on Christmas Eve. Bolga was not on anyone’s list to visit except during school holidays when volunteers were in town looking to go north into what is now Burkina Faso and Niger. I baked cookies for the first time ever. We bought Star beer. The other volunteers also bought food, a tradition when visiting another volunteer, and beer. We sang carols. We celebrated together. It was a wonderful Christmas.

“Happy Day After Christmas, Merry Rest of the Year, even when Christmas is over, The Light of the World is Still Here!”

December 26, 2017

Gracie and I are back home, and my car is in good order. It took longer than I expected as what was wrong didn’t matter, only my place in line. It is cold, 28˚, but tonight will be colder. By the middle of the week, we’ll be down to single digits. I will be hibernating.

Christmas Day was wonderful. I used the morning to prep for dinner, to get all the veggies ready for cooking. My friends arrived a little after 2:30. We drank some egg nog and then opened presents. We go in turn so we can see what we each got. Well, I’m thinking we were perfect, as good as gold, as Santa left great presents. I got a whole sackful of foot cozies which made me laugh. I love foot cozies and the ones I have left deserve retirement. I got a wrap to keep the cold at bay. I figure it will come in handy on Thursday. I also got a Christmas sweater as I didn’t have any Christmas clothes other than a t-shirt. There were earrings and so much much more. I gave my two friends each a bag of gifts, a bag Santa would be glad to carry from house to house. They loved their presents as well.

During the presents portion of the day, I was up and down finalizing dinner. We sat down later than I expected, but it is true that good things come to those who wait. The beef was scrumptious. The green bean casserole was a hit as were the potatoes. The carrots were good but were out-classed by the beef and the green beans. We sat at the table for a long while enjoying dinner and each other. Gracie was happy for her beef scraps and even Maddie enjoyed the meat.

After the dining room was cleared and the kitchen cleaned up. I turned on the dishwasher and we all sat in the living room. Gracie lost her footing on the couch and fell into the tree. She was scared but managed to calm down and get back on the couch where she fell asleep. I sat with her and patted her. Meanwhile, Clare asked about dessert. We decided we finally had enough room for the peppermint cheesecake Clare had made. It was unbelievably delicious from the crust to the peppermint cane topping. All of us yummed as we ate. The cheesecake was like tasting Christmas. It’s a good thing Clare left me some. I’ll leave it that.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were amazing. We honored tradition with our gingerbread houses. We laughed at some of our presents, and each of us belonged to the clean plate club even after a couple of extra helpings. Dessert was heavenly. The company couldn’t have been better. I loved Christmas this year.

“Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart…filled it, too, with melody that would last forever.”

December 24, 2017

Last night it rained, but it’s still cloudy. The clouds, though, are light and give hope for a bit of sun. Yesterday I made my orange cookies and today is lemon squares. That’s it for the day except to shower and get ready for tonight’s festivities.

When I was a kid, this was an endless day. I remember us begging our mother to let us go to bed around 5:30. We figured the night would pass quickly if we were asleep. We never got to test that theory as we never went to bed so early. After dinner my mother always let us open a present on Christmas Eve. We didn’t have a choice as to which one we opened. We moaned and groaned because we always had to open the new pajamas. Under the tree were more presents but they were hands off until the morning.

A Christmas Carol was usually on TV, and we watched it every year. That’s where my love for the movie began. The TV screen was small and the movie was in black and white, but it was still magical as Scrooge was helped by the ghosts to see joy in Christmas and his connections to other people. I remember being older and reading A Christmas Carol and feeling as if it was an old friend I’d read often.

Dinner was no big thing on Christmas Eve. None of us was really all that hungry for regular food. We ate cookies, as many as we could get away with. My mother put hard Christmas candies in a dish on the table. The pieces were sticky and some were stuck together. That was a good excuse to eat a couple at a time. The candy didn’t last long.

Opening the pajamas signaled the start of our Christmas rituals. We’d run upstairs and put the pajamas on right away. Next was the hanging of the stockings on the stair rail. We did it by age with mine at the top, George’s next then Sheila’s then my sister Moe’s at the bottom. Sheila and Moe went to bed first. George and I went later. It took forever to fall asleep. We’d talk across the hall from one bedroom to another. I never remembered finally falling asleep. It just happened.

When I woke up on Christmas morning, it took a moment or two before I remembered it was Christmas. My parents had us wait until the four of us were awake then we raced down the stairs. Nothing is more spectacular than seeing the lit Christmas tree with the presents around it.

It doesn’t seem to matter how old I am. I still love Christmas. Under my tree are wrapped presents. I won’t open them until tomorrow. I might shake a few tonight!

Merry Christmas!

“We are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.”

December 22, 2017

Just two days days until Santa starts his rounds. I’m figuring lots of elves are busy at the North Pole, probably no cocoa breaks. I was told Santa leaves filled toy bags all over the world as his sleigh can carry only so much. That makes perfect sense though I wondered if magic was involved so the bags were always hidden.

We didn’t have a fireplace. Our stockings were hung on the stair rail in the living room.  They were small red stockings with a white cuff. Each name was written on the cuff and the letters were covered in gold glitter. My sister Moe is the only one of us who has her stocking. I can’t imagine what happened to mine. I’d never throw away anything of Christmas. Anyway, back to no fireplace. My mother told us Santa would find a way, maybe the door or maybe the window. We had nothing to worry about: he’d come just as expected. She was right.

Around this time before Christmas, my mother put presents under the tree, ones from her and my father. My sister Moe was an expert at making holes indiscernible to any human eye. It didn’t matter if the present was for her or not. She just wanted to know what was in the wrapped paper. This peeking led to another skill developed over time. Moe can shake just about any box and tell you what’s inside. One Christmas, she and Rod, her husband, were headed to a Christmas party. Moe wanted something new to wear so the shaking of presents from my mother and father began. She found a new blouse then decided she needed to accessorize. She shook a few more boxes and found new earrings. Moe has given up the small holes, but she still shakes.

I put presents under my tree yesterday. They are from Moe and Rod. One is a book. Wrapping didn’t hide its feel, its shape. It was an easy guess; however, I will go a step further and guess the book is a new James Patterson.

I have lots to do today and tomorrow. I still need to do some baking, and I need to do the wash I couldn’t do the other day as I was out of laundry detergent. I thought that was wonderful but I gave in and bought some yesterday. I didn’t want to, but I did anyway.

Today is cloudy, dark. Rain is expected though most of the rest of the state will have snow. It is really warm, in the 40’s, though it will get cold tonight. The long range temperature is a snowy Christmas. I love that.

 

 

“Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.”

December 7, 2017

Winter is marching towards us. Yesterday was in the 50’s, today the 40’s and the 30’s arrived last night. It was cold taking Gracie out and waiting for her so her last trip at around eleven was a solo. I urged her on from the front door. Yesterday was a frantic Christmas presents wrapping day. I was at it from about two until close to ten. Many of the gifts I have are small, really stocking stuffer types, as everyone gets a bag of those in addition to a big gift and I wrap everything. I think I whittled the pile considerably so today will end my wrapping frenzy. I also learned a lesson yesterday. I need to get up and walk around every now and then as my back is quite troublesome today, and Gracie sleeping on my legs last night didn’t help either. I’ve doused myself with Aleve and hope for the best.

I have sworn off MSNBC. I can’t take the political news anymore as I keep getting a headache so, instead, I’m getting my daily dose of sugar from Hallmark’s Christmas movies and my black and white science fiction movie fix from YouTube. Right now I’m watching The Snow Creature from 1954. The Creature, called Yeti by the Sherpas, was found in the Himalayas after he had kidnapped a woman and killed a few Sherpa climbers. The men in charge of the climb, Americans, decided to capture the Snow Creature and take him to the US for study. It seems none of them took a lesson from King Kong about leaving creatures in their natural habitats. Well, the Snow Creature escaped, of course, and started killing here and there. He was found and destroyed in a meat vault. Poor Snow Creature! Poor bad movie!

Yesterday I did some sweatshirt cuff dusting. I cuffed a few tables here and there, mostly ones I can see from the den. I also watered my tree. I had to crawl on my stomach, hold up a few branches then tip the watering can. I put my fingers at the top of the tree stand so I can know how much water there is. I also watered the table centerpiece.

I’m now watching Plan 9 from Outer Space, the Ed Wood movie considered one of the worst movies ever made. It was Bela Lugosi’s last movie, and he died before the filming was finished. He was replaced by Ed Wood’s dentist who was considerably taller and who hid his face with this cloak. The actors are awful, the special effects are silly, the sets, with a lot of curtains as backdrops, are unbelievable, but I really do love this movie for all of those.

My Christmas tasks need my attention. I have the wrapping to finish, the cards to address and the tree to trim. I also need to get up and walk around. I’m thinking another cup of coffee and some toast.

“Let it all go and enjoy the profound gifts found in your quiet places.”

November 17, 2017

The sun has decided to reappear and the blue sky frames it perfectly. The wind is strong enough to make the day seem colder than it is. I was out early this morning, at 7:50, when the wind was so strong it made me run to the comfort of the car to get away from the cold.

Gracie had her first acupuncture appointment at 8:10. She did quite well. The vet had some tasty, or so I assumed, dog food frozen in a small jar. Gracie kept lapping and was totally unconcerned about the vet and the needles. Gracie stood there until the very end when she decided it was time to sit down. The vet has the gentlest manner and she spoke softly and soothingly. Gracie gave tail wags. We go back in two weeks for another session.

When we got home, I went back to sleep as did Gracie, and the two of us just woke up. 6:45 is far too early to get up unless it’s Christmas or I have a flight to catch though getting up that early gave me time for one paper and a cup of coffee. I’m about ready for another cup. It is sort of my second morning.

I need to go through a few catalogues I’ve saved because I dog-eared some of their pages for second looks at possible presents. Making a list of what and for whom I’ve already bought gifts still hasn’t been done so it is the only item on my to do list. I’m figuring this weekend.

I watched the Celtics last night. I used to watch them all the time, but my interest had fallen back in the lean years. When I was a kid, I used to go to games at the garden. It was a quick bus ride to Sullivan Square then the subway to North Station and the old Boston Garden, the one which once fogged up during the playoffs. The last time I saw them live was about three or four years ago. Last night they won their 14th straight. It was against the Warriors, the world champion Golden State Warriors, and the game was jaw dropping. It was a test of sorts for the Celts to show how good they really are. They came back at one point from a 17 point deficit to win with a score of 92-88. Charles Barkley, never a favorite of mine, now an analyst for TNT, was all over the Celts before the game and at half time. I just hope when he ate his words they soured his mouth.

I’ve chosen today to be a quiet day with some music and some more of the mystery I’m reading, The Crossing Places, by Elly Griffiths. Gracie will have to fight me for the couch.

“Quiet diplomacy is far more effective than public posturing.”

August 18, 2017

Yesterday was a perfect day. The weather was warm but breezy enough to keep the heat at bay, the sun shined all day and we even found a table by the water at lunch. My sisters arrived with cake and presents. We went to lunch at one of my favorite places. As a surprise my sisters had invited my friends, and I was definitely surprised. My lobster roll was filled with huge chunks of lobster and the fries and onion rings were perfect. Just ask the gulls who snapped up the French fries we threw on the rocks. After lunch we came back to my house for cake and ice cream and presents. My sisters had chosen the best cake, mocha, and my favorite ice cream, coconut. After that, I opened my presents and was overwhelmed by the generosity of my sisters and my friends. We then sat on the deck a while chatting and laughing. I can’t imagine a better day, a better birthday.

Today is cloudy and a bit humid. The breeze is blowing the top branches of the oak trees. Rain is predicted for later. I do have to go out but not far and off the main roads. The bird feeders need to be filled again, and the fountain is empty of water. Gracie drinks much of the water away. The fountain is the perfect height for her. I fill it, she drinks it and we do this several times a day. She has a water dish on the deck but she ignores it. Dogs aren’t logical.

Quiet seems to be the order of the day after the excitement of yesterday. I don’t hear a sound: not a kid, not a car and not even a bird. I had Alexa play sixties rock, but I kept singing with the music instead of writing so I turned on the TV to MSMBC. It is still reacting to Trump’s latest diatribe so I turned that off. Instead, I watched the Food Channel with Giada who was making a Peruvian chicken dish and showing pictures of her trip to Peru. I suppose I could just turn off the TV, but I’m not in the mood for quiet, for silence. I have stuff I could do, but I don’t want to do them. I’m just fine with being a sloth, napping on the couch, wearing my comfiest clothes and going barefoot.

“I am taking time to relax, renew and revive.”

December 26, 2016

Happy Boxing Day!

Yesterday was a wonderful Christmas Day. We opened presents, played games and had a fantastic dinner and a delicious dessert. I got an amazing present, A David Ortiz commemorative bat. It is beautiful. It is also heavy. David’s stats are etched on the bat as is an outline of David in his characteristic pose: fingers pointing to heaven after a home run. I was totally surprised and totally thrilled. It will be displayed here in the den right near the Fenway Park brick, a replica of the one laid on the concourse at Fenway which says Kathleen Ryan Peace Corps Ghana 1969-1971. It too was a gift from my friends.

I have errands to do today. I guess it’s back to the real world, far too quickly I think.

This is short as I’m taking a mini-vacation of mostly today and all of tomorrow. I’ll be back on Thursday.

15665938_10208265867273240_1178058966471787105_n

“Christmas! ‘Tis the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.”

December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!!

Last night was wonderful fun. We sat, chatted and had a drink or two in the living room bright with colored lights from the tree, the window candles, and some lit branches by the fireplace. We moved to the dining room for food and gingerbread house construction. We noshed on an antipasto, a platter filled with meat and cheese from the Italian cheese shop, dates, cashews and mustard, including a caramelized fig sauce, hot corn dip, and bruschetta. We forgot about dessert so we’ll have it today. I made cookies and a chocolate cream pie.

We started construction on our houses. All conversation ceased. First we put up the walls then the roof then we decorated. I bought houses from a different company, and we were very pleased. The frosting tasted good which was perfect considering how much we had on our hands and how much we had transferred to things like phones and glasses. When we opened the gingerbread package, we could smell the ginger. It was divine, like being in a bakery filled with the aroma of cookies in the oven. The frosting was in a pouch, and it was so easy to be creative by squeezing the pouch to cover the roof with snow. I even squeezed swag designs on the back and front of the house. The candies were all colors. A gingerbread boy and a gingerbread girl were the finishing touches.

This morning I didn’t wake up until 10 given I was up until 3. I turned on the tree lights, made coffee and gathered my gifts from my sisters. The boxes were filled with the best gifts. One sister found the ugliest felt Christmas tree. She knows I love old, ugly decorations. The tree is already on the dining room table. She also gave me a wire bucket with peeling paint I recognized as one for quahogs or oysters and a gift certificate to iTunes. I love all the gifts. Gracie got the most beautiful dog biscuits which look more like frosted cookies than treats for a dog. My other sister too had all sorts of vintage stuff she’d found for me. She also gave me so much more including earrings because I whined that I give them but never get them, a new shirt, a red and white one I’m wearing today, Starbucks Christmas coffee, two pounds of it, and many more gifts including a gift certificate to Rings, the grocery store which gets so much of my money. I am thrilled with my presents.

In a while, I’m going to my friends’ for dinner and more presents. I love getting to watch them open the stocking stuffers I found. Some are quirky, some funny, some a bit strange and some perfectly wonderful.

Christmas is a day to be cherished and celebrated. I wish you all the happiness and joy today brings.

“For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home.”

December 23, 2013

The day is warm but rainy and dreary. The temperature, though, is due for a radical change: from the 50’s of this morning to the 30’s tonight. I just hope the roads don’t freeze. The paper even mentioned the possibility of snow. If I were a little kid, I’ll keep checking out the window hoping to see flakes falling. It was always fun to be the first to yell. “It’s snowing!”

Last night Gracie was barking her intruder bark, and I could hear frantic knocking on my front door. I jumped out of bed and stood in the hall but heard nothing. I turned and saw Gracie asleep on the bed. I realized I had been dreaming so I rejoined Gracie and went back to sleep.

Yesterday I wrapped again and am down to two unwrapped presents. I like this leisurely approach. Tonight I’ll finish up and put away all the paper and tags until next year. My presents, from my two sisters, are in the living room. Some are under the trees and others are arranged in front of the table, an arrangement being a genetic trait. I remember Christmas mornings and coming downstairs and my first look through the bannister. The tree was always lit, and the presents were arranged in front of it. My brother’s gifts were to the left then came mine then each of my two sisters’ gifts. Santa never wrapped our gifts. That made sense to me as I doubted he and the elves had time. They were too busy making the gifts. Games were upright in front. One year my brother’s new bike was in the kitchen, a surprise. He was sent to get matches and did so in the dark and didn’t even see his bike. My parents sent him back and told him to turn on the light. I remember his yelp at seeing his bike. We’d each sit in front of our spots and check out our gifts one by one. We’d show my parents who would act surprised. I don’t remember ever being disappointed.