Christmas Kickoff

The celebrating has officially begun with the annual needlepoint Christmas exchange. Always a highlight of my year. Since we traditionally gather the first Monday in December it heralds the start of the season. This year, with the the first Monday coming on the tail of the Thanksgiving weekend, I couldn’t get my house decorated as well as prepare the lunch so we opted to go to the Washington Duke for tea.

Everyone came right on time, filling the table with small gifts for each other, separate from the special ornament we each stitched for one secret friend. I have spent less time at the stitching table this year, so this gathering is an extra special to get to reconnect with dear friends.

After we ordered our tea we exchanged our needlepointed ornaments. Each one was lovingly chosen for the receiver and generously stitched and finished. I cherish these gifts from these friends as only another stitcher understands what a huge gift a needlepoint ornament is. Sadly Ann Hannon was missing from our ranks because she couldn’t make it all the way from St. Louis so close to Thanksgiving. Her ornament, lovingly beaded was beautiful.

We enjoyed our scones, tea sandwiches and sweets, but I will be hosting again next year since I think my food is so much better. I just can’t compare with the various offerings of tea, but my scones are hands down much better. I don’t think anyone will complain about coming back to my house, even if they don’t have ten different varieties of tea to choose from.

Nevertheless, it is not the food that we come for, but the fellowship and the common love of all things needlepoint. I can hardly wait to see whose name I pull from the hat next year so I can think of something personal to stitch for a friend.

December is Here

Carter went back to Boston last night. She had planned all along to go back on Saturday fearing the Sunday travel and now that the weather is getting so bad I am glad she cautiously planned ahead. With Carter gone I pushed ahead to finish all the Christmas decorating.

Last night at seven I gave up on completing the tree with about a fourth left to go. The plastic hinged top boxes that I store all the decorations in were strewn about the house. With forty plus of them you can’t help but trip over them. Thankfully last year I labeled the boxes so at least they went directly from the attic to the correct room.

I got out of bed at seven this morning and went right back to work on the tree while still in my night gown. I wanted to get it done before church. I could have skipped church, but if I did I would have missed a good sermon on keeping things in perspective during advent. As the loudest laugher at church I got pointed out for laughing at the line about being aware that we might meet Jesus anywhere, even at church.

Chris, our wonderful minister knows he can always call me out when I laugh out loudly. I wasn’t dissing the idea that I might meet Jesus, just that I think church is the last place I would find him. Jesus is needed so many other places first. I may over decorate for Christmas, but I still honor the reason for the holiday. I figure I have met a lot of Jesus like people doing good works all over the world, even at church.

After church it was back to work cleaning up all the boxes and vacuuming up the mess I created. Finally the house is ready for the season. The shiny and bright helps with the dark and rainy of the day. My favorite month is here!

When you look at my tree from afar you have no idea that it has any ornaments on it because it is jammed packed. So here is a close up next to a far view

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.