Posted tagged ‘tree lights’

“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.

“At Christmas I no more desire a rose, Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled shows; But like of each thing that in season grows.”

December 14, 2015

The rain is coming and should be here by the afternoon. It is welcomed as we are down from our usually rain amounts. The summer was pretty dry. Gracie and I were out early because we scoped out the kennel where she’ll be staying. The owners are quite nice and Gracie was on her best behavior. On the way home we stopped at the vet’s where Gracie got a shot against kennel cough and had her nails trimmed.

I was out the other night and meandered home so I could have a short see the lights ride. It is amazing how many houses have lights, the most I’ve seen in a long while. My street with only eight houses, including one which is empty all winter, is ablaze of lights. The houses are beautifully  decorated some with white lights, some with colored lights and others, like mine, with a combination. We’re talking fences, wreaths, trees and houses lit for the season. The house at the end of the street has a train lit up in its front yard. Blinking lights are wrapped around a tree, and they look as if they’re floating in air as the tree trunk is too dark to see. They have four kids who must be so excited to see their house decked out for the holiday. The other house with so many different lights has stars of light hanging from their tree. They have a tree of colored lights in their front yard. They too have four kids who must be delighted.

I remember how excited I was when my dad put the outside lights on the front bushes. They were the big bulbs which shone so brightly and were always so hot to the touch. After finishing outside, he’d find the window candles and tape them to the sills. The bases were made of plastic and had a tendency to be top heavy because of the bulb, always an orange bulb, so tape was a necessity.

At Christmas time the lights shine brightly against the dark of winter. They seem hopeful and remind us that winter will end. The days will get longer. We’ll all soon be back in the light.

“Little Jack Horner sat in the corner, Eating a Christmas pie. He put in his thumb, and pulled out a plum, And said, ‘What a good boy am I?’”

December 19, 2014

It is quite late for me because I had several errands. I also treated myself to lunch in between as I had a half hour wait before I could finish my last errand. Today is a still day, a windless day. It is dark and cold. Everyone was bundled up and was moving quickly from store to store.

I need to get out of my public clothes into my cozies. I’ll be glad when I’m really old because I’ll wear whatever I want in public and people will chalk it up to old age.

The Christmas tree lot at Stop and Shop is gone. A few trees are on the ground, the leftovers I expect. Agway is still open but has very few trees. I remember my mother talking about her Christmas tree and how it was decorated when they were in bed on Christmas Eve. They’d wake up in the morning to a glorious tree and gifts from Santa. I like having the tree around longer. I get to admire it in the living room, and I get to sit and read surrounded by Christmas. Both trees are lit now. They have given the day its only color.

Fern has taken to sleeping on the tree skirt. She falls asleep warmed by the lights and sleeps so deeply she snores but ever so slightly. I have to listen closely to hear her. Gracie, on the other hand, snores loudly, like a grown man, a big grown man. She snorts as she sleeps. Sometimes I can’t fall asleep for the racket. Boxers tend to be snorers.

A few Christmas jobs remain. I have my baking to do, presents to wrap for my Cape friends and Christmas dinner to plan. I ordered a pork roast from the butcher, but that is as far as I’ve gotten. I know I’ll do an apple dish and some sort of potato, and I’m thinking baby carrots for color and one more vegetable yet to be decided. I’m going to do a relish tray. My grandmother always had one on her table when we ate there. I was always drawn to the celery. I have the perfect dish to use: a very old glass sectioned plate just like the one my grandmother had. The old touches are always great memories to add to the table.

When I think of dessert, I think of the Cratchits and their Christmas pudding. The flame was always so dramatic and such a splendid finish to dinner.

“The best Christmas trees come very close to exceeding nature.”

December 5, 2014

I have already been out and about this morning and will go back out later. The day is chilly but not cold, in the mid 40’s. On my journey, I saw people wearing all sorts of outer garb including puffy jackets, sweatshirts, vests, just plain shirts and one guy in a t-shirt. I was among the vest wearers.

Gracie just brought me the most disgusting chew I’ve seen in a long while. It was crusted in dirt. She obviously had buried it in the backyard and now had a hankering to eat it. She dropped it at my feet, a gift of sorts I suppose. I took it in the kitchen and scrubbed it. The dirt swirled in the sink then went down the drain. I dried it as best I could and gave it to Gracie who wouldn’t take it. Maybe without the dirt it had lost its appeal. A bit later she went back and smelled it and decided it was okay. She is now eating it beside me on the couch. When I put things away for safe keeping, they often end up lost for good. I should have Gracie bury them for me. She never forgets.

The tree always went in the same corner, where the TV usually was. My father would lie on the floor to turn the screws on the tree stand while one of us tried to hold the tree straight and upright. He’d say let go, and when we did, the tree would sometimes lean. We’d hold it again, and he’d try to tighten the screws even more, this time with a screw driver to turn the metal loops. When the tree stayed straight, it was time for the lights. My dad always had tangled lights, and they always drove him crazy. It would take him a while to untangle the mess of all those sets. He was never patient. Once he’d finished that, he’d check to see if the strands would light. If they didn’t, he’d try to figure out which bulb had died. He was smart about that and would replace all the bulbs then check the ones he’d removed one at a time. When it was time to put them on the tree, he was always haphazard about it. My mother would say let the lights drape from branch to branch, but my father never did. He just walked around the tree and put the lights wherever. His only Christmas responsibilities, the outside lights, the tree and inside lights, were complete. He’d then watch TV. The rest was up to us.

“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.”

December 27, 2013

Yesterday was an odd day. I never did get dressed, but I wasn’t a sloth either. I did a variety of chores. Al the bird feeders were filled, the laundry was brought up, folded and put away, the camel’s head was glued back as was the zebra’s ear. Paw prints were cleaned off the kitchen floor, and the litter boxes were emptied and refilled. It was a banner day. The funny event was when I pulled out the barrel with the bird seed in it from underneath the grill cover on the deck. A chipmunk jumped out and ran by me as if his life depended on it. The chipmunk scared me as much as I had scared him.

Last night the house was ablaze with color. The tree lights were on in both rooms as was the wooden star, a plastic Santa, shell lights, the red pepper clump in the kitchen and the snowflake night-light in the bathroom. The house looked so lovely.

I remember the tree after Christmas with the toys still underneath it. My brother and I would sit by it and play one of our new games while my sisters played dolls. New sleds had to wait for snow but new bikes could be ridden despite the cold. The excitement of counting the days and waiting and hoping was gone, but we had all these new toys, and I always had new books so we were glad. I remember sitting in bed and being cozy and warm and reading a new Trixie Belden. The day passed almost unnoticed.

If we had snow, we’d be outside sledding on the hill behind our house or making snow forts. We older kids would sled down our street if it still had a layer of snow. That was the best ride of them all. It was a huge hill. From the top, you could barely see the bottom. I’d be wearing snow pants, my winter jacket, boots, a hat and mittens. When I walked, my snow pants made a swishing noise. My mittens would get clumps of ice attached to them, and snow found its way into my boots.

I was always freezing when I finally went into the house. I had to go through the cellar and hang up my wet clothes on the laundry lines. My skin was always beet red from the cold. I’d run upstairs to my room and put on warm pajamas and my slippers then I’d sit in front of the radiator to get warm. It was always the best day.

“I think we are drawn to dogs because they are the uninhibited creatures we might be if we weren’t certain we knew better.”

December 10, 2011

When I woke up, I heard the raindrops from the eaves. The day is filled with gray clouds and looks dismal. Since I was little, I’ve always believed that around Christmas time rain should be banned. The sun should shine or it should snow. I prefer the sun, but I don’t mind the snow. There is something about a White Christmas which touches us all. Today, though, has a silver lining. My tree with all its lights looks bright in the darkness of the rain and the clouds.

My errands took three hours yesterday. On the Cape, “You can’t there from here,” would be the answer when asked how to get from some towns to another. I couldn’t get directly from 6A in Dennis to Harwich so I had to go a roundabout way and then went another roundabout way to get from Harwich to Orleans. I had to stop at one place twice because it was so busy the first time, and I added a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts, a total necessity.

When I got home, I loaded my arms with packages as only one was heavy so I could bring them all in at once. The dog’s leash was wrapped around my hand so I wouldn’t drop it. As I was going up the walk I thought the dog’s collar sounded especially noisy. When I turned around to let Gracie in, I had a leash and a collar, no dog. The noise was her license bouncing on the brick walk. I saw Gracie down the street, ran in and called my friends so Tony went outside to herd the beastie. Gracie avoids me but loves Tony. She went right to him, and he put her Christmas present around her neck: a beautiful red collar which has a small Christmas tree and says Merry Christmas. Gracie got her present early so maybe it wasn’t really an escape but a ruse. I wish I had a picture of the look on my face when I turned around and saw the leash and the collar.