Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Do You Believe?.........

Ohhhh, yes, yes, yes.   I believe in the miracle of Christmas.  From my own personal experiences since I was a child.....

There were 6 of us siblings.  We didn't have much money; my mom did not work out of the house.  My dad was a life-long alcoholic who tried to do what was right.  He worked on the railroad.  And he worked.  But times being what they were, between sketchy paychecks and my mother's inability to manage money, much less a household of kids, things were tough. But....we did live in our own house, we did watch out for each other, we DID love our parents.  We didn't have birthday parties or gifts.  We had a cake, invited a few neighborhood friends, got kisses and hugs.   So Christmas for us was the highlight that we waited for all year.  That was our magic moment.

My mom would bake all the cookies, the house would be scrubbed and cleaned from top to bottom, and decorated beautifully. 

And no matter how hard times were, come Christmas morning....we had a ton of gifts!  Almost all we asked for and some we never thought of but were so happy with, all the same.  How did they do it??  My mom and dad would be smiling from ear to ear at the excitement, laughs and giggles of us all going through each and every gift.

Back in those days, all the aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents came to our house Christmas night.  My dad had 4 siblings, their spouses; my mom had 2 siblings and their spouses.  And there were 21 cousins at the time.  Our house was shaking from the rafters, all the laughing, running, playing, eating, talking!  Great times.

Since I've had a family of my own, some 47+ years now, I've tried to recreate the same Christmas feeling.  Back in the day, things were not easy.  We went through a lot of rough patches during the years.  But, come Christmas.....the kids had all they asked for  and more.  I did work part time when they were small; I worked full time when they were older.  One year, things were so bad and I won't go into the sordid details of an ex and his shinanigans.....but my kids had the most wonderful Christmas thanks to my brother and sister.

Bakings dozens of cookies, decorating the house to the hilt as best I could, and the tree.....oh the tree.....it had to be decorated just so....as if it came from a magazine.   It was the magic of Christmas.  It all came together and turned out to be a wonderful time.  I would sit in quietude and wonder "how did this all come together? How did it all finally work out? Where did it all come from?"   A miracle, for sure.

Then we would all go to Mom and Pop's in the evening for more Christmas magic.  Now they had 11 grandchildren with more on the way.  All our kids, cousins, enjoying the excitement, the thrill, the love and the Magic of Christmas.

Today, we're much older. My parents are gone 5 years now; the kids are grown with families of their own, and we're spread out all over the country.   Some have chosen to leave the family because of their own feelings and that's a shame.  My energy is waning, and some years I just don't know how I'm going to pull this off.  But through persistence, and a LOT of Christmas music playing throughout the day, it all gets done.  The baking, decorating, shopping, crafting a lot of gifts, wrapping, boxes and Christmas cards sent out, phone calls all through the weeks.  It all comes together.  And come Christmas Eve, we sit back in amazement at the beauty and wonderment of it all.  We reminisce of holidays gone by; we pray for those who don't take part, that some day we'll all be together again; we wish them well. 

And we celebrate with our small family still within driving distance.  We revel in their excitement and joyfulness of another Christmas at home.  We thank God and Baby Jesus for all our blessings, not just today, but all through the year.  For giving us the means, the health, the energy to give to others;  to instill in them the meaning of family and being together through it all. 

It's the time for new beginnings.  Put the old behind us and start fresh.  And if this proves true through the year, then, yes.....it is the miracle of Christmas.

May you all have a very Blessed, Magical, Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

So....Are You All Ready for Christmas?.........

Have you noticed that this is the usual refrain from everyone you meet this time of year?  I generally smile and say "oh yeah, just about".  It's a lie.  What I really want to say is....."ask me on Christmas Eve; I'll have a better idea."

Well, this year, I..am..ready.  Sort of.  If the next couple of days work out as planned, I will have a whole week of nothing to do!  Yay me!!

Oh, of course, there's Christmas Eve dinner to prepare, but that should be a breeze....if all goes as planned.  Now, I don't want to waken the Christmas gremlins, so we'll just leave it there.

Did a new theme for the tree this year.  Our 2nd year with our artificial one.  I love this tree.  I've been doing white ornaments for years now....little angels I made in my crafting days; small glittered snow flakes, acrylic icicles,white lights and white garland.  It was very beautiful, in my opinion.

But this year, the thought of doing all clear glass ornaments that our older son's girlfriend had been gifting me with for years, and some my mom made for me many years ago, seemed like the way to go.  So, I got them out and proceeded to hang them on the tree.  I had forgotten how many there were.....quite a few.....and soooo beautiful!

I also came across a dozen small, glittered fruits I used years ago while crafting things for sale.  Since I'm not crafting any longer, I thought these would add a nice touch.  And they did.

How about candy canes?  Haven't done that for a long time.   I came across a dozen red/white pipe cleaners also used for crafting.  So, I cut each one in 1/2, formed the hook and hung them on the tree....perfect!  

There's also the white lights (the tree was bought pre-strung with lights), my favorite, and of course, the white garland and acrylic icicles.


Well, besides all that, all the gifts are wrapped....all the gifts that needed wrapping, that is.  We still have 1 person to shop for tomorrow and there's a few things coming in the mail.   Cookies are done and in the freezer as are the breads.   One box has to be packed tomorrow and taken to the post office.   I can remember when we used to send out 10 - 12 boxes each Christmas.  And I'm not talking small....oh no.  These were boxes from the grocery store that they received cereal stock in.  Huge!  BH and I used to laugh (sort of) at which cost us more.....the gifts in the boxes or the postage to send them all out!!  And back then, we were going "hand to mouth".  Geeesh.

Dinner will be on Christmas Eve, as it was last year.  Due to our youngest son's girlfriend. They will travel to her mom's on Christmas Day, and then on to a very close friend's party that evening.  A tradition she's had for a handful of years.  We don't mind.  We tell all the kids the season runs from Eve through New Year's Day.  Whenever they can make it here, that's when we celebrate.

Oh, yeah, dinner.....well, girlfriend is a vegetarian.  Last year, we had 2 pans of lasagna...one was meat-eaters, the other veggie.  Ah, but this year....we're having all seafood.  Fish filets, breaded/fried and broiled; crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, macaroni salad, chef salad and yummy rye bread.  Dessert is, of course, cookies and....Baklava!!  A surprise for GF, who grew up in Greece.  I didn't make it last year for whatever reason, but I'm ready to tackle it this year.  Because.....I...have...all...this....time...on...my....hands.   If all goes as planned.