From the Desk of Bam

Well since Mom has been super busy lately I figured I should take over her blog. After all who better knows what is going on in the house than me…. After all I’m always here. I just hope she doesn’t get mad because my paws are a tad muddy so her now her keyboard is a tad muddy also. Princess tells me I should do a Year in Review blog for her because all the People do that on New Year’s Eve, but there’s kind of a problem because neither me nor Princess knows what the hell a “year” is. See by our estimation a “year” has to be at least a million days long. Hang on, there’s a squirrel outside so I’ll be right back.

Sigh…. And alas the squirrel wins another round as he waits for me to come outside and then darts for the tree. Squirrels are evil. In case you didn’t know. They spend hours and hours running back and forth across our roof from the tree in the front yard to the tree in the back yard. PITTER PATTER PITTER PATTER – all damn day long!!! Poor Princess has had to go to therapy as the taunting of the squirrels has exhausted her. The therapist suggested for her to start chasing her tail as a distraction but she hasn’t been doing very well with that and unfortunately I can’t help her because I have a long tail – hey where did my tail go? No seriously why don’t I have a tail??

Sorry I got off topic …. “Year” In Review – Right. Well let’s see….. Recently Santa Claus visited and brought me and Princess new doggie beds. He’s a straight up awesome guy. I’m mean he brings you stuff, he’s got a big belly – like me, loves cookies – like me, looks stylish in red – like me. I think I could be the next Santa Claus. Oh wait, Princess says you have to like people to be Santa – that could take me out of the running. I mean it’s not that I don’t like people exactly, it’s just that when I was a tiny baby bulldog my mama doggie told me it’s my job as an oversized, mean looking, ferocious sounding dog to protect the family. It takes way too much effort to figure out who’s naughty and who’s nice so I just growl and snarl and bark at everyone. It’s all show though I mean if a bad guy actually came in the house I’d hide behind Princess – she’s kinda like a ninja (we don’t ask about what happened to her before she got adopted and she doesn’t tell). Any way mama doggie just told me to look mean she didn’t mention I might actually have to face a bad guy, so I hide behind Princess.

Oh yeah so back to mom… she was going to send out her usual Christmas card featuring pics of Dawson and Teagan but I heard her say something about how it was December 22nd and now she didn’t have time – time seems to be a huge deal to People but I don’t understand what it means. Anyway I found these pics… I thought they would like nice in a Christmas card.

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Speaking of pics I tried taking selfies this year. Are you supposed to smile? I always look like I’m scared.

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Mom also made these handmade ornaments that looked like cookies that I got in trouble for trying to eat. Like it’s my fault? They looked like cookies, she baked them in the oven…. Why wouldn’t they be cookies? I mean I only wanted to try a small sample, she soooo overreacts to stuff like me climbing up on the table to try to eat one. Just ONE!! That was all I wanted. She really should take it as a compliment that I love her homemade cookies SOO MUCH that I just wanted one. Instead I got my nose smacked. So harsh! Well that went over better than the day I mistakenly ate her breakfast. I didn’t realize she wasn’t finished – that’s the story I’m sticking with anyway.

Oh yeah cousin B got married this summer. I wasn’t really sure I liked the guy she was going to marry because he likes CATS!!! And was scared of dogs!! I may have added to that fear a few times – I mean come on what fun would it be to look like a mean dog and not play the part? But then…. he saved me. There was this soccer tournament and Princess and I were in prison – I mean the kennel – and there was a late game and we were going to have to stay another night…. it was awful! But B came to pick us up. I love B. But her car broke down. So Logan, despite all my growling and barking and snarling at him, came to pick us up. B sat in the back with me and held on to me but she didn’t have to – anyone who comes and springs you out of prison – I mean the kennel – is a stand up guy in my book. I even let him pet me when we got home. Anyway when they got married Mom found us a nicer kennel – the owner is a retired police dog so he runs a tight ship and has nicer People working there.

Speaking of B and Logan, we now have a new cousin – Ivan the Great. He’s a cat. A CAT!!!!! Well he’s just our cousin, poor Sheba and Niyah have to deal with a cat for a brother.

Sheba and Niyah have a new house too. Auntie Mimmie got married this fall and moved to a new house. I haven’t met Dennis yet because SOMEbody thought I would be bad at Thanksgiving and try to eat the whole turkey……. or Ivan. The same SOMEbody thought I would also be bad on Christmas Eve and try to eat the buffalo wings – I mean seriously I usually don’t like spicy food! But whatever… that SOMEbody will be thankful I’m writing her blog I’m sure. I mean it’s not like I’d eat the whole turkey…maybe just half – and I’d share with Princess.

Well like I said things have been kinda crazy around here lately – Teagan’s in Middle School and working hard on her role as Mama Hood in the YAT production of Little Red Riding Hood. I’m cheering for the wolf in that story but it never works out very well for him. In the spring she got to be a LostGirl in Peter Pan and had a kick ass air guitar solo. Wait… did they have electric guitars in fairy tales? I’m confused, but whatever, she’s pretty good at acting and doing impressions and funny voices. I’m not really happy with the Forrest Gump-like voice she uses when she does an impression of me but it’s OK – I suppose it fits.

My bestest buddy Dawson turned 16 – which in People years is a big deal. He had a big party – also wasn’t allowed to attend because it was at the neighbor’s house and they are “afraid” of me. OK maybe Princess has a point about being nicer to people….. Anyway Dawson’s still playing soccer a lot and is starting to look at colleges to play soccer at. They tell me he’s moving away in a couple of years to go to school and play soccer – so I figure if I eat and destroy all his soccer balls he can’t leave. SHH don’t tell him my plan. His soccer season started off really sad though because one of his teammates died in an airplane crash. Bubby was really sad so I cuddled with him a lot – he told me his friend was flying around the world to raise money to build schools for kids in Pakistan because they don’t have a lot of schools there. I don’t know where Pakistan is, but it seems sad that kids can’t go to school there. Bubby likes to add #livelikeharis to some of his posts to remind people to do good things for other people.

Ok…. Princess says it’s time to go back out and try to catch the squirrel again. Poor thing, she just won’t give up. Several neighbors were concerned because they saw a giatnt possum move in under the maxi barn. HA!! they have not seen me hunt possums before.  Just ask B about the time she was babysitting and I caught one and brought it to her – I thought it was a nice thank you but I was told to drop it before I came in the house…. SHUT UP Princess it’s not my fault possums are slower than squirrels!

Anyway Happy New Year from the dogs!

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The 1st step is admitting you have a problem

I need help.

I need help on a going-to-Betty-Ford-clinic level.

Nope I’m not addicted to alcohol, drugs, nicotine or anything like that.  Every year starting in November – and here lately in late October – I get this weird addiction to Holiday Planning books.  I see them on display while I’m grocery shopping and before I know what’s happening I’m suddenly standing in front of them browsing.  Now they not only have them at grocery stores but Lowes and Home Depot too.  And taking my daughter to tutoring at Barnes and Noble at this time of the year is a complete sensory overload.

The reason I know it’s an addiction?

Addiction [uh-dik-shuhn] (n) the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

Ok, so maybe it’s not quite an addiction because I don’t think ceasing it would cause me severe trauma.  However we may have to test that theory next year because I’ve already purchased “Holiday Editions” of two magazines and 1 Better Homes and Gardens book.  Still not seeing the problem?  Look at this:

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I cleaned out the cookbook and food magazine cabinet in my kitchen today.  Those are just the Christmas and/or Holiday books and magazines I’ve collected over the last 10-15 years.  And in true confession style, I didn’t clean the basement bookshelves that would’ve added at least 10 more.

I knew it started to be a problem a few years back when I had a 20 minute conversation with myself inside the Meijer trying to talk myself out of purchasing a Martha Stewart Living magazine – December issue.

“I don’t need it.” I hear myself say.

“But it has a wonderful recipe on how to make chocolate ganache.”  The addicted me says.

“But you aren’t going to have any time to make the ganache.”  I say.

“But look it’s only twelve ‘simple’ steps involving kitchen utensils I can’t pronounce – it has to be good!”  Addicted me counters.  “And a 13 page pull out – the Ultimate Holiday Meal – including prep instructions!”

“But you’re not cooking  a Holiday dinner,” I say.  “We don’t have a traditional dinner and what we do have is a pitch-in.”

“Oh…. Look here a cocktail party guide!” Addicted me points out.  Knowing I’m a sucker for cocktail recipes – which actually lends credit to the Betty Ford Clinic aspect however I usually don’t make the fabulous cocktail recipes I have …..so ….

“Really?!?!?!” I say.  “Well, maybe I should purchase it just because I may not be able to find anyway to make Apple Champagne Sangria without this magazine.”

And the magazine goes in my cart.  And hopefully the lady behind me in the checkout line hasn’t called 911 because there’s a crazy lady having an argument with herself.  The argument has been repeated in my head so many times it’s like a script.  Just insert various things like “Nutter butters made to look like reindeer” in place of “Chocolate Ganache.”  Or, “handmade marshmallows” for “cocktail party guide.”

Usually January or February rolls around and my senses return to normal.  I put the 4 or 5 books and magazines up on the shelf and vow to not buy any more next year.  Because in February I can see that every one of the books and magazines above are exactly the same in content and nature with slight variations from year to year.  I can break it down for you:

1)      Recipes.  There are various recipes for cooking turkey, ham and pork loins or pork roasts.  They have slight changes in spices or stuffing ideas but pretty much it’s the same every year.  There are 6 different ways to fix potatoes, green beans, carrots and asparagus – they just rotate every 3-5 years.  And then there are pages and pages and pages of desserts and cookies and candies and fudge.

2)      Crafts.  There are always several sections on multiple uses for glitter and popsicle sticks and salt dough.  Depending on which book or magazine they may even include easy knitting or sewing projects.  I have learned “easy” is in the eye of the beholder.  And there is that little voice inside you that tells you that you are capable of making handmade Christmas cards for all the people on your card list using punches and rubber stamps and glitter and glue.

3)      Decorations.  Ahhh yes the decorations section.  How to make your living room like a winter wonderland.  Candles and miniature tress mixed with ornaments and garland to adorn a mantle.  And each year there is theme or sometimes they throw in several themes based on their readers preferences: 1)Whimsy – something that looks like it popped out of a Who’s ass  2)Traditional – something that looks like it popped out of an Elf’s ass 3)Victorian – something that looks like it popped out of Jane Austin’s ass.

4)      Gifts.  There is always a section of either gift suggestions you can purchase or make.  Ah yes … usually section that completely sucks me in.  Of course in between work, the kid’s extra-curricular activities, shopping and holiday parties I have time to bake 10 dozen different kinds of cookies or fudge to give as presents.  And depending on which magazine you buy the gift giving guide can be entertaining – I hope I’m not on Martha Stewart’s list, 96 color cotton thread set anyone?  And likewise I can’t afford a $650 wine decanter for my sister-in-law.  And on the other end of the spectrum All You suggests I give my sister-in-law a zebra striped slow cooker for $20.  No worries Cheryl – I know where the gift cards are!!

(Sigh)

As you can see rational me has written this blog.  The part of my brain that knows the following about the holidays:  1) Thanksgiving will include a turkey, stuffing, slow cooked green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, handmade noodles, canned cranberry sauce, green bean casserole (thanks to a defiant and non traditional niece who insists on tormenting me every year), a veggie tray for snacking before dinner and pumpkin & sugar cream pies for dessert – all made from recipes that were my grandmothers.  2) Christmas dinner will be on Christmas Eve with my family having a themed pitch-in – the theme being anything but what we just ate at Thanksgiving.  3) Christmas with my in-laws usually has to wait until January and sometimes we cook or sometimes we go to a restaurant whichever works out best.  4) My house will be outlined in colored lights with a lopsided half-ass decorated tree inside and stockings hung from the fireplace.  5) My family has a gift exchange that is pretty simple so gift giving is easy and limited.  5) If I bake anything it will be my standby Pecan Pie recipe or the Libby’s Pumpkin Pie recipe or one of about 15 cookie recipes I don’t stray from.

Hey maybe I should keep that list with me while I shop this year.  That way I’m not arguing with myself while standing in the check-out line.

P.S. – I did clean out 2 shopping bags full of recipe booklets and magazines – however none of the ones pictured above are in either of the bags.  After all it’s bad to quit an addiction cold turkey.

How to Destroy the Easter Bunny & Ruin a Holiday

Spoiler Alert:  This blog contains graphic details about the existence of the Easter Bunny…. Only continue reading if you are over the age of 12 and if you are an adult you should only continue reading if you are not squeamish as this contains details of Peep massacre as well.

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I effectively “ruined” Easter for my daughter.  Her words, not mine. 

But before I begin the story of how I ruined Easter I should back up a few weeks.  My daughter is ten, she’s in the fourth grade and she rides the school bus every day to school so my guess is she had been having doubts about the existence of the Easter Bunny, Santa, and the Tooth Fairy.  Add to that a few weeks ago my husband was arguing with my son over control of the Xbox and blurted “That’s why we got you one for your room.”  Bad mistake as the Xbox for his room had come from Santa.  Teagan then jumped out of her chair and said “You just admitted you ARE Santa!”  Some slick back talking somewhat seemed to pacify her, but I’m pretty sure she was just waiting on something like that to confirm her worst fears.

She then admitted that she knew her dad was the Tooth Fairy because she caught him one morning putting money under her pillow.  One mythical creature down, one in limbo and still clinging tobelief in the Easter Bunny.  That is until Easter morning.  Now on Good Friday the bulldog had found the Easter Bunny’s stash of candy and there was a massacre of Peeps in the living room but somehow this didn’t seem out of place to her.  She never asked where the Peeps had come from which would have been a logical question since there was no visible candy in the house Friday morning.  Side note:  blue sugar marshmallow dog slobber is disgusting and marshmallow Peep bulldog farts are lethal.

Easter morning – 5am – the scene of the crime.  I had to work and Dave was not home from the fire station yet.  I shut my alarm off, got up and was greeted by a puppy doing the potty dance so I went to let her out.  As I was opening the back door I heard the pitter-patter of little feet scampering behind me.  That was followed by crying and “The Easter Bunny didn’t come!”

Why are you awake?” I asked, hoping for a distraction, but I knew from Christmas when she followed me out to the living room at 2am she was just simply not going to make this easy on anyone.  She was crying and still rambling about the Easter Bunny not coming and the logical explanation would have been “The bunny just hasn’t been here yet.”  But as always when faced with a parenting decision I chose the wrong answer which was “It’s 5am and the Easter Bunny still has to take a shower before work.”

This was met with more tears and the accusation, “You just admitted you are the Easter Bunny.”  I shuffled her back to bed, assured her when she woke up there would be a basket full of candy but she had to go back to sleep.  Still sniffling she was dismayed “I can’t believe everyone lied to me.”  A few kind words from the otherwise evil creature known as MOM seemed to pacify her enough to go back to sleep.

Feeling guilty at work I wrote her this letter:

Dear Teagan,

I know you were disappointed this morning to find out that there is no Easter Bunny — at least not some mythical creature who hops around the world in one night hiding Easter eggs and candy for kids.  And I know recently you have been upset because you think that Dad and I are also Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.  The truth is…. neither Dad nor I are any of these people.

Dad and I are the people who leave money for lost teeth, fill Easter baskets full of candy, hide eggs, wrap presents at Christmas and fill stockings – just like our parents did for us when we were young.  And someday you will do for your family.

But leaving dollars for lost teeth, and candy at Easter and filling stockings on Christmas could never make either of us the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny or Santa.  Even though the Easter Bunny isn’t one person (or mythical creature) there is a little bit of Easter Bunny in everyone because we all keep the Easter Bunny in our hearts.  Same thing with Santa.  “Santa” is lots and lots of people who keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts – not a jolly fat man at the North Pole.  Santa is the magic and love and spirit of giving to others.  You are probably the best “Santa” I know because you love doing things for other people and giving things to other people.  It’s important for kids to believe in something or someone that they can’t see or touch because it teaches them to believe in themselves.

Don’t stop believing just because you now know the secret about how Santa gets millions of toys delivered in one night and how the Easter Bunny hides millions of eggs and how the Tooth Fairy always knows when you lose a tooth.  Like I said Santa or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy may not be one single person…. but they do exist….. in everyones hearts. 

I love you!

Mommy 

Even though she liked the letter I was still told in no uncertain terms that I ruined Easter.  I’m not sure how it was ruined as it didn’t stop her from the egg hunt or gobbling down pounds of chocolate.  I don’t remember this being so difficult with Dawson.  Actually he seemed somewhat excited – like I had just given him the key that unlocked the biggest mystery in the world. And now he was in on “the secret.”  No tears, no accusations of being lied to and no ‘ruining’ of a holiday for him.

So that is how you destroy the Easter Bunny and ruin Easter.

I’m still not sure how to describe the Bulldog Peep Massacre – other than it was just gross.  And I’m amazed he only got out the Peeps! Why he didn’t attack the peanut butter filled chocolate eggs or chocolate bunny ears I will never know.  Maybe he read on the package “Chocolate is not safe for dogs.”  Maybe he’s smarter than he looks — yeah no — I think we just caught him before he found the chocolate.

18 Wheeler Christmas….. On Christmas Island

Christmas memories should probably involve things like opening a pair of diamond earrings that you didn’t expect or waking up Christmas morning to a blanket of crystalline white snow and sipping hot chocolate that elves magically made overnight while children blissfully open packages decorated with bows and candy canes.

Yeah, you won’t find that here.

I’m debating between going in chronological order or with what got me thinking I should write this blog so I won’t forget these things.

It happened on Christmas Day (so obviously I decided against chronological order).  We were driving to Dave’s parent’s house and listening to one of the country radio stations and they were playing Christmas music.  Neither Dave nor I listen to country music as much as we used to we started guessing who was singing each song.  It became a pretty fun game and thanks to “Shazam” on my phone we could get the answer easily. Now for the entire trip Dawson had remained a)asleep or b)plugged into itunes, but when a song that I love and isn’t a very popular carol came on he decided he had to talk, non-stop.  And the more I told him to be quiet the more he talked – it became his game.  It just became one of those moments that I wondered if 10 years from now he would remember me yelling “Shut the hell up so I can enjoy the Christmas music!!” A) Probably not in that Good Parenting book I keep losing and B) Strays from the whole ‘Peace on Earth’ message.  That is what got me to thinking I should probably write some of this stuff down.  And for those concerned about his emotional well-being he laughed when I yelled at him.

The song that started it all?  O Come O Come, Emmanuel – Sugarland’s version. (Tried to include the MP3 file here – didn’t work!)

The first “event” we had in December was the neighborhood Christmas party.  There is always plenty of fun and food – this year included 7 different kinds of meatballs.  I spent 2 days making cake balls only to find out that you can buy one of those little “Babycake” machines which take 5 minutes.  And as usual at least one snack was made with Bambi – but it was a cheesy nacho-y dip so the Bambi didn’t taste as bad as usual.  Also a tradition at the neighborhood gathering is the white elephant gift exchange.  I brought a fruitcake.  Dave brought a giant “Elvis” plastic guitar-shaped piggy bank filled with popcorn.  I “won” a table clock decorated with pigs – which I may have re-gifted (keep reading).  New this year was Pictionary with the theme:  Christmas movies.  Our neighbor/bartender Chad guessed “Christmas Vacation” every time someone started drawing.  “Christmas Vacation” wasn’t ever one of the movies, and I’m still waiting on an official ruling on my protest that “Die Hard” is NOT a Christmas movie.  Somehow I managed to pull out “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys.”  And I’m still amazed Larry guessed Dolly Parton’s  “Smokey Mountain Christmas” from a drawing similar to this:IMG_8289

Well maybe I’m not amazed.

Poor Dave will never live down a) being on Suzette’s team and b) writing Jack Frost when he meant Robert Frost (and yes he was cheating by using words).  And after all the other odd movies for Christmas that I hadn’t heard of I guessed “18-wheeler Christmas” on a whim which earned me relentless teasing that “18-wheeler Christmas” was some type of XXX rated movie.  There is no “18-wheeler Christmas” I wikipedia’d it.  And it is one of my Christmas wishes that there aren’t any Christmas themed XXX movies.

Moving along….. I missed the Colts Week 15 party at mom’s when they played the Texans because I got called in to work.  I had even planned on making Texas Chili, which Dave ended up making.  Yay money, Boo no party and I missed the Build-Your-Own-Hot-Dog bar.  But by going to work that day I learned (from a Texan’s fan no less) that you can say anything you want about a person as long as you say “God bless their heart” at the end.

So then we had my work Christmas parties, one lunch and one dinner on the same day.  At lunch I was given a lovely set of “Zombie” ammunition from my trainee, Matt.  Because one day I happened to say “Do you know they make Zombie bullets?” and his reply was “Of course. I have some.”   And in the gift exchange I was given the official “Andi: Queen of Plainfield” t shirt, with my trademark saying “Off with their Head!” on the back, along with 2 pink flamingo yard ornaments.  I may have declared myself the Queen of Plainfield one day…. After yelling “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!” at work… maybe ..… God bless their hearts!

Anyway, then we went to dinner where part of the evenings fun was another white elephant gift exchange.  In lieu of buying another fruitcake and because I forgot until the last-minute I looked around the house for a re-giftable item.  The lovely table clock with flying pigs won.  After all that is the spirit of a white elephant exchange right?  And it wasn’t like I could re-gift the Zombie bullets… you never know when you might need those.  I stole a glass with a pink flamingo on it to match my shirt and yard ornaments – during the game of course, I didn’t steal it from the restaurant or anything.  I’m sorry Mark, you looked really disappointed to lose it!

Christmas Eve with my family featured a Build-Your-Own-Chinese bar and Sushi.  For those new to the blog my family does not do a traditional Christmas dinner and we specialize in Build-Your-Own stuff because nobody likes all the same foods.  We also hold a Deviled Egg Contest, judged on both presentation and taste, with the winner awarded the Humpty Dumpty Trophy (a McDonald’s toy glued to a block of wood).  This is my mom’s elaborate entry:

Photo: Is my family the only one that holds a deviled egg contest at all major holidays?

We also had a photo scavenger hunt this year.  I’d really like to show the PowerPoint presentation my niece and her boyfriend made but it didn’t copy to my computer.   I can share my nephew’s entry for “Nativity with missing characters”

Mary & Joseph seem to be taking a break!  Although there are no missing characters my favorite nativity picture that was submitted by my other neice was the one where the manger baby Jesus is laying in is a Miller Light beer box.

And that brings us back to Christmas Day and Shazam-ing country Christmas songs.   On the trip back from Marshall, Illinois we heard these lyrics:

If you ever spend Christmas on Christmas Island
You will never stray for everyday your Christmas dreams come true
On Christmas Island your dreams come true

And I said, “I’ve never heard this before, I wonder who sings it?” and about that time the radio DJ answered me with “That was Jimmy Buffett with Christmas on Christmas Island.”  I was embarrassed that I didn’t know a Jimmy Buffett song.  It was almost like me not knowing a Beatles song.  And here I thought Chad (co-worker Chad not “Captain Morgan” neighbor Chad) had downloaded every Jimmy Buffett song on to my computer.  I was wrong!

Also… on the way home we heard O Come O come Emmanuel again.  Maybe it’s more popular than I thought.

A few days after Christmas we got to see my chipmunk cheek nephew Augie.  When I told a co-worker I was going to JC Penney’s to shop for Augie, she informed me they didn’t have dog stuff at JC Penney.  A) Duh and B) Augie’s a baby not a dog.  She was pretty embarrassed when I said “Augie’s my nephew.” ………………….. God bless her heart!  I have now made it my mission to find this kid an Augie Dogie outfit.

augie dogieI’m not sure any of this has any meaning for anyone other than me.  But over all I had a pretty good holiday season this year.  Topped off by New Years at the neighbors – where we again had a knock down drag out Pictionary game.  I’ll leave you all with a little Holiday Cheer…. (my nephew’s version)

O Tannenbaum!

I am the original Charlie Brown.  If sent to a Christmas tree lot I will pick the shortest, lopsided-ist, needle dropping-ist, skinny-ist tree there is and think it looks perfect.  And in the dimly lit Christmas tree lot propped up against a makeshift wooden fence, all the trees look perfect.  Then you take it home and set it up in your living room and wait for it to warm up so the “branches drop” and there sits your perfect Christmas tree; too short, lopsided, raining pine needles all over your carpet and much less full than it was next to the thirty or forty other trees.  So this year, after readjusting and realigning the tree several times and waiting for one side of the branches to drop while the other side is dragging the floor I got a case of the “3 year olds” and asked ….. WHY?

Why do we bring a dead tree into our house every year and decorate it with lights and ornaments and celebrate around it, then a week later put all the decorations back up in our attic and throw the poor old dead tree out?  So off to the History Channel’s website I went.  Basically I can thank Queen Victoria for making Christmas trees popular.  In 1846 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who were extremely popular among their British subjects (i.e. Prince William and Kate or Lady Di before her death), were illustrated in the London News standing in front of a Christmas tree.  So of course everyone in Britain then had to have a Christmas tree so they could be like the Queen.  And then of course once they were doing something fashionable in England it had to become fashionable in America as well.

But why did the Queen have a Christmas tree?  Because her husband Prince Albert was German and since the 16th century having a Christmas tree as part of your Christmas celebration was tradition in Germany.  Again… WHY?  Because the evergreens and actually any plant or tree that remains green all year have been highly regarded by people since the beginning of mankind.  Dating back to early Romans and Egyptians and even the Druids and Celts, while celebrating the Winter Solstice would hang boughs of evergreen to remind themselves that spring would soon return and everything would be warm and green again.  So I can kinda get into that… as I hate all things cold, snowy and wintery.  They also thought that the evergreen would ward off witches, evil spirits, ghosts and illness.  Good to know my lopsided hastily decorated Douglas Fir will ward off ghosts.  I will have to tell Teagan as she and her brother were caught watching Ghost Adventures the other day after being told not to since it gives Teagan nightmares.  “The Christmas tree will protect you – no really it will – go sleep under it.”

German immigrants to America brought their Christmas tree tradition with them but it didn’t catch on with other Americans.  Christmas trees were seen as Pagan symbols – even as late as the 1840’s.  My tree this year may actually be considered a Pagan symbol with its one side dragging the floor and the other side 3 feet off the ground – well at least by suburban soccer mom standards which require trees to be perfectly conical.  The pilgrim puritans preached against “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees or any joyful expression that desecrated the sacred event.  My guess is that there are Puritan ministers rolling over in their graves these days.  Especially if they’ve ever heard “Last Christmas” – the absolute worse Christmas song known to man yet covered by nearly every recording artist since 1984 when Wham! first released it.

In 1659 in Massachusetts the General Court enacted the “Clark W. Griswold” law making any celebration of December 25 other than church service illegal and subject to fines.  OK, so it may not have actually been called the “Griswold” law however people were fined for decorating for Christmas.  I would vote for a re-enactment of that law, not for religious reasons, but because I cannot compete with some of these extravagant light displays my neighbors have put up.

All “Griswold” laws were eventually repealed especially in the 19th century when the German and Irish immigrants came in wielding their wildly decorated evergreens.  I like my version of history sometimes better than what actually happened as I picture comic book hero-like German and Irishmen swooping in with trees all pimped out and the Puritans holding out their Bibles to try to stop them.  I really should consider teaching 8th grade history, my version is much better than Dawson’s book.  Anyway – then came the Queen Victoria illustration and by the 1890’s most American’s had Christmas trees.  Well except for Jewish families… they don’t have Christmas trees.

So unless I become a Puritan,  or Jewish, or William and Kate are featured in some article denouncing Christmas trees as environmentally unfriendly (Teddy Roosevelt did that when he was President – but it didn’t catch on – obviously) I will again next year take my Charlie Brown ass to the tree lot and pick out another lopsided monstrosity of a tree.  In case you’re wondering I also don’t have any better luck with artificial trees as the easy to assemble pre-lit one I own is no longer pre-lit and I can’t find the 1 tiny light causing the issue.  If the Germans couldn’t find a suitable tree they used to build a pyramid of wood and set candles and decorations on it – maybe I could try that at least it would be conical.   I like that word… conical.  Say it again… conical. (I swear I’m not drinking eggnog!)

(Sigh)…………… Well I don’t see us converting to Judaism any time soon so I could always contend I’m Puritan and that’s why my house isn’t decorated…. Right?

 

A Christmas Story

This is more specifically my Christmas Story.  It’s not filled with wishes for a Red Ryder BB Gun or a Major Award like a Leg Lamp.  I actually don’t remember ever having that ONE THING on a Christmas list that I just had to have – of course there were toys or games or whatever the latest greatest thing was.  Always at the top of my list was a pony and I did get one eventually when I was 13 – but not for Christmas.  So I did a few searches to see what the Top Christmas Toy was in 1981 – when I was 10 – the same age my daughter is now.  The best I can come up with is a Rubik’s Cube and the game Donkey Kong for Atari.  I know I had a Rubik’s Cube but we never had an Atari.

So my Christmas Story isn’t about wanting a specific present.  It’s about the little things I remember growing up as a kid around Christmas.  And I owe this blog to my Meemaw.  That’s what we called my grandma when we were growing up.  I’m not a very Christmas-y person.  And last night I was working on a Love/Hate blog about Christmas and it wasn’t going like I wanted it to so I quit and went to bed.  I had a dream and in the dream I was the age I am now (you can all do the math based on being 10 in 1981) and I had Teagan’s dog Princess with me (possibly because she was wrapped around my feet last night) but I was in my mom’s kitchen and my Meemaw was there and she was cooking Christmas breakfast.  There was scrambled eggs and bacon and toast with jelly and orange rolls.  She reached down and scolded Princess for trying to eat bacon.  And then I woke up.

It was one of those really vivid dreams.  It was so real when I woke up I was trying to figure out where exactly I was.  And I laid there for a few minutes just remembering what Christmas was like when I was a kid. Christmas Nana

See that was what Christmas morning breakfast looked like when I was growing up.  (PS I was adorable wasn’t I?)  But it was so much more than just breakfast.  There were decorations and candles everywhere.  In the large picture window facing the road Meemaw put up an artificial tree decorated with gold lights and gold ornaments and gold garland.  Downstairs was where we put the live tree with colored lights and funky handmade ornaments a silver “icicles” which Meemaw complained about because “she was sweeping them up until February.”  I had a stocking for my cat “Calico” and Kim had one for her dog “Muffin” and we hung them on the 1960’s era fake fireplace that still hangs on the wall downstairs in my mom’s house.  I don’t think it works anymore but maybe we could ship it to the guy who does that “American Restoration” show on the History channel.

We had a small white porcelain tree with multicolored lights that sat on top of my mom’s piano.  And these little figurines that were people dressed up like candy canes – also that sat on top of the 1960’s era fake fireplace.  There was always a bowl full of assorted nuts and a wooden nutcracker placed somewhere in the house.  When I was about 10 or 11 my mom bought a ceramic Santa train that came in 3 parts and was unfinished and the three of us painted and then mom sealed it.  I have that train and it usually gets placed on my mantel.  Visualize it in your head because I still don’t have my decorations out so I can’t put a picture of it on here.  And I still have my Santa Light that my pre-school teacher Mrs. Frederick gave me when I was 4.  It’s about a 2 ft tall plastic 1970’s looking Santa and there is a hole in the back that fits a night light size light.  Yes it still works.

So these are all the things that make up my Chistmas Story.  Everyone has a different one which is kinda why I decided to write this.  My grandma passed away when I was 25 and my Dad’s mom passed away when I was 18.  Both my grandpa’s passed away long before I was a twinkle in anyone’s eye.  And growing up Meemaw lived with us and my Dad’s mom lived in Florida (and she only spoke Spanish so communication between her and I was limited).  So I never went to a grandparent’s house for Christmas.  For the most part, even after my grandma’s passing, the way my family celebrated Christmas didn’t change much.  The only real change is now we usually celebrate Christmas at my house instead of my Mom’s and we don’t have all the candles and assorted nuts and the fancy all gold tree, but still mostly the same for me.

But for my husband the past several years of Christmas have been a big change.  His grandmothers both only recently passed away which has changed the landscape of Christmas for him.  When he was growing up Christmas morning meant opening presents as fast as you could because they had to be at church and then they drove to one grandma’s house for lunch and the other grandma’s for dinner.  And even though since we’ve been married we usually could only make one or the other – we still went.  This year the biggest change is that his Aunt who normally hosts Christmas has moved to a smaller house and isn’t planning on having Christmas dinner.  So I feel bad for him.  It’s hard to start new traditions – because every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.  I hope this new beginning for him will give him and our kids new and great Christmas memories.

And just so my Dad and Marilyn don’t feel left out…..  I remember something totally silly from Christmas at their house.  They had the fancy satin ornaments decorated with what I thought at the time were real jewels.  Marilyn had a matryoshka doll (Russian stacking doll) — I don’t remember if it was only out a Christmas or not but I loved that doll.  And just so we can relive some of my Dad’s awesome 1970’s hair ……

dad cmas

Nice shirt too….. love the 70’s.  (PS again see how adorable I was – by the way that is a rockin’ matched Garanimal outfit and I’m betting I had on my Wonder Woman underoos too)

So here’s to embracing new traditions.  Thanks Meemaw for reminding me about the good parts of Christmas and what it was like when I was a kid – it’s really hard to call her that because after my nephew and niece were born she was always called Nana.  I hope my kids are making memories that they to will someday cherish.  And I hope Dave is looking forward to all the new Christmas traditions ahead of us.

Now…. I should probably put up some “Christmas Decorates” (that’s a Dawson-ism from when he was 3).

No Boys Allowed

A long time ago I read a magazine article and it described how the author and her mother had a special thing that only the two of them shared — the collected postcards.  They would spend one day a month together working on their postcard collection by going to flea markets and antique stores.  It was an interest they both shared and enjoyed and gave them a good reason to spend time together.  Teagan was maybe 2 years old when I read it but I was worried that she and I wouldn’t find our “thing” to share.  Then I got upset because I couldn’t think of something my mom and I shared.  That may be when I started taking interest in the spoon collection — you know little travel spoons.  My mom and I search for different ones now when we travel after she found a small collection her mom had started years ago.

Teagan and I found our thing.  It’s not really a collection exactly.

While we were in Gulf Shores on our “escape” we traveled to nearby Orange Beach where they have a shopping area called The Wharf.  At The Wharf there was a 112 ft. Ferris Wheel.  Teagan wanted to ride it.  Dave wouldn’t ride it because he doesn’t like heights (insert here that the ladder truck is 105 ft.).  So immediately Dawson wouldn’t ride it – monkey see, monkey do.  They wanted french fries and milkshakes.  So reluctantly I bought tickets to the Ferris Wheel but I figured she would chicken out or get on and then want off.  I was wrong.  All she needed to know was that her Daddy and brother were too afraid to go on it and she jumped to the front of the line.  We rode the Ferris Wheel.  She LOVED it – she was maybe a little nervous because she thought it would break (I’m asking her about it now and this is how she’s remembering it.).  But she thought it was great because Dawson and Dave were the scaredy cats.  Then…. she wanted to ride it again.  And she started asking if there was higher ones.

When we got back to the condo I started showing her pictures of some big Ferris Wheels like the ones at Navy Pier, Santa Monica Pier and Coney Island.  We started making plans to ride more.  This became our “thing.”  We still haven’t gotten to some of the really big ones — but we have ridden the one at Navy Pier in Chicago (150 ft.) and several other smaller ones at fairs.  Any time she sees a Ferris Wheel she asks if we can stop and ride it.  In a world of 6.3 G-force roller coasters and mega death drop towers Ferris Wheels were losing popularity – until designers figured out they could make them “extreme”ish too.  The tallest in the US is now in Myrtle Beach (200 ft.) with its “sister” wheel just opening this past July in Pensacola Beach – 1 month after our vacation.  The tallest in the world is the Singapore Flyer (541.3 ft), but there are 2 under construction now in Beijing and Las Vegas  that will knock Singapore to 3rd.

I’m not sure we’ll ever make it to Singapore, but I’m pretty sure we can swing Myrtle Beach, Pensacola, Coney Island, Las Vegas and the Santa Monica Pier.  And on the bright side… if my mom comes with us we can also collect spoons. 🙂

the one that started it all