The Exam Period Ruin of Christmas



The holidays officially came to a big time pause today.  This is exam week for Carter.  She may only be a freshman but now-a-days even freshman year counts towards getting into college.  It stinks.  No parties or fun, no Christmas music, no celebrations or preparations, except for exams.


Of course the pouring cold rain is adding to the need to be studying feeling in the house.  Now I can’t help with any of the studying.  The test taking is all up to Carter, but I still feel the need to be around to create an atmosphere that is conducive to learning.  Even Russ woke up this morning and told me about a dream he had about having to take the SAT and needing to study math.  I am sure that Russ could take the SAT without doing any studying and do quite fine so why he is having the school anxiety dream I am uncertain.


Feeling guilty about doing anything fun while Carter was stuck in her study cave Russ and I went out in the cold wet day to do the one thing that she did not want to so, to look at new washers and dryers.  I was using this trip to Home Depot as a covert way to get my steps in since I was not going to walk the neighborhood and get soaking wet.


Researching washer and dryers is a horrible job.  Yes we have Consumer Reports and all the tools the Internet has to overwhelm us with, but until you throw a really soiled towel in a machine and pull it from a dryer you have no idea if the duo you have chosen is a match made in heaven.


I have been thinking about a new washer and dryer for a long time.  When front loaders first came out and were considered practically sexy Carter was about seven.  One evening when Russ was on a business trip to China Carter and I went to the mall for dinner.  We strolled through Sears on our way back to our car and lingered in the appliance department looking at the cherry red washer and dryer combos on their pedestal drawer units.  A bored salesman, thrilled with a potential customer in the empty store quickly asked us if we were looking to buy.  Carter in a very grown up way responded,  “No, we are just dreaming.”


Eight years later I am still looking at washers, but with a little more urgency.  I am less interested in the front loaders now that top loaders have gotten the center agitator removed, but I just don’t know.  How much can one person read about machines?  It seems like my exam schedule is to learn all I can about the market and make a decision for once and for all.


When Russ and I got home Carter decided it was a good time for us to have a really good mother daughter talk about all things non-exam related.  Her procrastination may be fun for me but I eventually had to cut off the heart-felt talk and suggest she go back to the books.  I still had load size specifications to review.  I hate that exams ruin this week before Christmas.

Appliance Love

I have always loved appliances.  When I was an adolescent I started asking my parents to give them to me for Christmas.  My thinking was I no longer wanted toys and I was going to need all those appliances someday, why not start collecting them now when my parents were paying.


I think I was eleven when I got a tiny Sony black and white TV.  I never had to leave my room again.  My father learned his lesson from the TV and gave me a sewing machine the next year and on Christmas afternoon brought me four pairs of pants he needed mended.


When I was in college the Weis Market in Carlisle, PA gave out green stamps.  I started saving freshman year, volunteering to do the shopping when my Pi Phi pledge class was having a function.  Eventually I moved off campus and shopped weekly with my roommates pasting the stamps in the little books after every trip to the store.


After three years I had amassed enough green stamps, 62 books, to get the second most expensive thing in the catalogue, a Cuisineart.  Only a canoe took more books.  When I went to the redemption center to turn in my hard licked stamp books the other patrons clapped for me.  The clerk told me I was the first Cuisineart she had ever awarded.  That appliance served me well through 10 years of catering and hundreds of dinner parties.  It was 25 years old before I retired it.


This appliance love might be somewhat genetic because my daughter, Carter likes appliances too.  When she was about six years old the two of us were leaving the mall late in the evening.  I asked her if we could go out through Sears because I wanted to look at the new washer and dryers.


Since we were the only customers in the white goods department we had a number of salesmen descend upon us. I will never forget the starry look in Carter’s eyes when the clerk asked if there was something he could help us with.


At six, she was sure he was talking to her, so she responded in a sing-songy voice, “No thank you, we are just dreaming.”


That salesman must have thought one of two things, that Carter was his ideal life-time customer or that we were too poor to own a washer and spent hours at the laundry mat, otherwise a small child would never dream of a new front loading set.


Today I love my stick blender with it’s 8 different attachments for whisking, chopping – both rough and fine and blending of all sorts.  It is a dieter’s best friend.  I can make smoothies, soups, sauces and purees all without dirtying another bowl, pitcher or appliance.  You just put the stick in the pot of tomatoes sitting on the stove, flick it on and within seconds I have whirled up a soup for dinner.


So in case you do not have the appliance gene, or you are looking for the perfect gift for your mother for Christmas, think of a stick blender and dream of all she will do with it.