My Best Elves

Today is the least favorite day of the year for Russ and Carter- the day we put the Christmas tree up. Russ and Carter are the elves that take the tree parts, all seven giant bags, out of the attic and assemble the tree, all fourteen feet of it.

My job is to plug in all the lights. My job sounds easy. It is not. Our tree has over 12,000 lights on it, but not all of them work. Every year new strings of lights get added and finding the male end of the cord to plug them in is a life’s work.

I never did find all the plugs and some of the lights stopped working even after I plugged them in. So I added another seven hundred lights this year.

Russ and Carter wish that my light Hunt to fix the lights was faster because they can’t move on to the next section on the tree until I have lit the last section. They were really good eggs this year just chilling while I untangled and restrung.

I really appreciate my tree elves. I never could decorate for Christmas without their help. I know they don’t care a thing about how the house looks at Christmas, but they humor me.


Red And Green Friday

There is nothing black about our Friday here. We may not have had our annual post thanksgiving farm visit with the Toms, so instead we had lunch at the most anti-thanksgiving Thai Cafe where we laughed for two and a half hours.

I am thankful for not shopping at all year, let alone today. My year of not shopping has been a huge time and money saver as well as not not contributing to global warming due to unneeded consumption. Of course I was not contributing to the economy, but I think others in the family have made up for that.

The boon of not spending the day walking the farm is we got started on throwing up Christmas. Carter and a Russ did not make a complaining peep to me as they took everything out of the attic. We didn’t attempt to work on the tree today, but I did do all the change out of the living room from regular to Christmas.

Then we had a a lovely fire and played a few games of heads up. Such a better way to spend the day than fighting with other shoppers buying things no one needs. I hope your day was more colorful too.


Short But Yummy

After a little bit of Macy’s Day parade this morning we packed the car full of roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes, pies, cranberry, rolls and stewed tomatoes and went to the farm. My father had not slept for two days under the stress of preparing a turkey, stuffing and creamed onions. When we revived he was just at the start of the creamed onion roux so I took over from there so he could sit down. My mother had set a beautiful table and her part was done.

Soon after I completed the onion operation our friends Lane and Jon arrived with gifts galore; An apple pie and homemade cream to be whipped, wine for my Mother and a rare pair of Northeastern book ends for Carter. Sadly their daughter Isabel just got a job in NYC and was not able to come home for Thanksgiving.

As my Dad poured double-double drinks for those who wanted a bourbon I worked away in the kitchen finishing up the reheating of all the food. Lane oohed and ahhed over my mother’s needlepoint and shared the joy of her magnifying contraption to aid in her stitching. My mother was so thrilled with it Jon immediately jumped on Amazon, found an improved model with a light and ordered it as an other gift for my mother. Lane and Jon are certain to be invited back.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving meal. Carter’s mash potatoes were such a hit that everyone wanted to know her exact recipe. It appears that years of perfecting the right cut size of the potatoes and a huge amount of salt while boiling, along with old fashioned hand mashing does the trick. Of course the rich amount of butter and cream and garlic powder don’t hurt.

After lunch we took a walk with a Shay and when we got too cold went home for pie. My Dad took at nap before Pie and it was decided that we would not stay the night. We cleaned the whole kitchen which went very fast with Lane and Jon.

After they left Russ, Carter and I made at stop at my Aunt’s house and saw all our cousins and got in a few laughs before we headed home in the dark. This means that Christmas can begin the throwing up around our house tomorrow after we have had our annual day after Thanksgiving with our friends the Toms. It was a yummy Thanksgiving with great company, one I hope was repeated at your home with your loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving!


National Day of Cooking

Tomorrow may be Thanksgiving, but today is the big cooking day for most people. It is nothing new that cooking is going on at our house, but even people I know who never cook or can’t t really cook or hate cooking are cooking today. No names mentioned here, but you know who you are.

Thankfully I had Carter home to help cook. When she turned thirteen I created a pamphlet about things I thought it was important for her to learn to prepare her for adulthood. Thirteen year old Carter did not appreciate it much then, but has come to recognize that almost everything I suggested is necessary. Top on the list was “learn to cook- it is the one thing you will do everyday.”

In typical adolescent behavior I think she purposely did not learn, but then as she was getting closer to high school graduation it dawned on her that she was not going to be eating my food. Top it off she had to cook in Berlin during her first semester of college.

Carter then discovered she liked cooking and she had been paying attention all those years in my kitchen. Today it payed off. She baked Crack pies, made mashed potatoes, and roasted root vegetables. All things that required lots of chopping I was happy not to have to do.

So for all you cooking haters I wish for you a child who likes to cook. Even though I love to cook it was especially wonderful to have the time with Carter cooking on this National day of cooking.

Tomorrow I hope she helps her grandfather in the kitchen. He may get used to having a helper named Carter.


Thanksgiving and Christmas Are Too Close Together

Whomever picked the date of Thanksgiving obviously did not have a kid in college. The idea that two of our biggest holidays are between five and four weeks apart is ludicrous. I know that Thanksgiving is based on harvest time, but harvesting what? As far as we are concerned here, the big time harvest for so many things ended in September. Perhaps some corn went into to October, but nothing much has been growing in November. Canadians have Thanksgiving in October and as usual, Canadians are right again.

Right now Russ and I are doing our best to stay awake so we can go pick Carter up at the airport at 11:00 tonight. We get her home for four days then she is back to school for two weeks before the term ends. It would have been so much better to have her home for four days in October.

For those people who are looking forward to a Turkey day of family discontent and fighting just to turn around in a month and do it all again in December I bet they would vote for more time off between family brawls. I am hoping that is not the case in our house.

I just want more regular time with Carter, short that it may be. If it weren’t for my surprise visit from her two weeks ago for my award I would really be chomping at the bit right this minute. But that was a too short fourteen hour visit where she spent more time sleeping than being with me.

I know many people are probably happy that we have Thanksgiving as a way to stave off the Christmas onslaught. If we had Thanksgiving in October I would have my house decorated for Christmas for two months instead of one. It would be a win for me, but not for all the grinch types.

Since I would rather fight to do away with day light savings time than moving Thanksgiving I am just going to have to live with the long stretches of not seeing Carter followed by two visits, bang, bang right together. At least she only has to travel from Boston. I feel for those of you who have kids out west who might be having trouble getting home for Thanksgiving or those whose child is too far away to make the trip.

The year Carter was in Berlin was not my favorite Thanksgiving. As my second favorite holiday I like it best when we are all eating too much together. Eating too much alone is just bad for you.


Literary Connections

Tonight I was watching Jeopardy, while I was eating dinner awaiting a Russ’ arrival home from NYC, I was saying the questions out loud as if I were on the show. This is nothing unusual for me. If Russ were home he would be answering out loud too.

A question came up in the NYC Literature category that started out out “Francine Nolan…”. I didn’t bother listening to the rest of the answer and blurred out, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” Suddenly I was transported back to my childhood bedroom on a summer day reading my favorite book. I had bought A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at my school book fair when I was in fifth grade. I distinctly remember the excitement of being allowed to buy a book at the fair. I don’t know what drew me to this one at first, but I do recall that I fell in love with it immediately. I read that book at least four times, never tiring of the story.

I don’t remember the last time I thought about that book before tonight. Just saying the name out loud reminded me that my other favorite book was The Giving Tree. And then suddenly the memory of the first poem I memorized in fourth grade was “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer. You know it, “I think I will never see a poem as lovely as a tree…”

This is the first time I have made the thematic connection in all my favorite literature. I am going to have to go bak and read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Thanks Jeopardy for giving me this memory.


Elf Life

Like Santa’s elves I was holed up at home all day working away in my various workshops. Yes Christmas is 30 days away, but I am working on gifts and things that are for pre-Christmas events. You would think that will all the production work I do all year, I would already have everything done, tied up in a bow, but I don’t.

My friend Carol from church asked me to make cookies for a charity Christmas party so I had to get going on those. I had to prepare the favors for another Christmas party. I decided to make sea salt Caramels. The recipe explicitly said not to try and double or triple it since it is finicky to begin with. Since I needed as least double I had to do it twice. I had not realized the amount of cooling time required, so the cutting and wrapping will have to wait until tomorrow.

I finally finished a wreath quilt I made. It is much larger than I had intended and now I am on to making a second smaller version. The thing that takes the longest is hand sewing the binding so smaller will be better.

My elf life will continue up tomorrow as I will be waiting for the dishwasher repair man to show up. At least I have plenty to do in my workshops as Christmas is coming and coming fast.