Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
(Have you ever noticed how really creepy leprechaun images are????) (Really. Creepy.)
Here at the Mulhern house, we take our St. Patrick's Day somewhat seriously. We don't go overboard or anything -- but we generally wear green, eat corned beef and cabbage, and wash it down with Guinness. Tom, who spent quite a lot of time in Ireland early in his pharmaceutical career, has an exceptionally good repertoire of Irish songs and ballads, and, as St. Patrick's Day nears, he is often called upon to "perform" (he is a Big Hit at parties and drinking sessions . . . just sayin'). As a special St. Patrick's Day treat, here is Tom . . . performing "Sick Note" . . . just for y'all!
And, with that, here's what I would do . . . should I ever find that elusive pot of gold:
- Buy a round of Guinness for everyone!
- Save a bit.
- Give some away.
- Travel some more.
- Upgrade my kitchen.
- Build a little greenhouse.
- And a clever potting shed.
- Put a screened-in porch on the cottage.
- Travel some more.
How about YOU? What would you do . . . if you found the pot of gold?
It's a hectic time of year, and we all tend to have a lot going on in December.
Garden Buddha is here to remind you . . .
Have a little fun.
Keep things in perspective.
On Friday night, we'll be attending Tom's work Christmas party. It's always a Very Nice party, and we're looking forward to a fun celebration. As for me? I'm desperately trying to figure out what to wear. (Of course.) I don't need to buy anything new or special, but I still want to put together Just The Right Look. (Y'know?)
Which got me thinking about . . . "Christmas outfits." Those special outfits of yesteryear that you wore through the holiday season.
When we were little girls, my sister and I usually got something special to wear at Christmastime -- for family gatherings and school concerts and church events, etc. These outfits were usually somewhat festive and definitely outside the realm of "everyday wear." We're talking . . . red velveteen jumpers, lacy blouses, blue velveteen dresses. Special.
But nothing -- absolutely nothing -- compared to the love we had for our pink lace pantsuits!!!
(Not hard to pick the sister-groups in this old family photo with my cousins!!!)
Christmas 1970. I was in sixth grade . . . age 11 . . . and I thought those pink lace pantsuits were the Epitome of Groovy! I remember thinking I was As Cool as Marcia Brady. I remember rocking the look at my 6th grade band concert -- the only girl in pants!!!! And I remember feeling so special that Christmas Eve with my cousins! (I've also got to admit that I loved my cousins "wet look" mini skirts and vests, too! We were a stylin' group -- no doubt about it!)
Whatever I end up wearing to Tom's work party on Friday night, it won't hold a candle to my 1970 Christmas Outfit, that's for sure!!!
On Thanksgiving evening, after our leftovers were stored away in the refrigerator (but before we got all the dishes done) we gathered around my kitchen island to take part in our long-standing Gateway-to-Christmas ritual . . . Decorating Gingerbread Houses.
(I am very happy to report that we had no broken bones, calls to 9-1-1, roof cave-ins, or other major mishaps this year!)
The entire process is rather long and drawn-out, with preparation taking place over several days.
First, there is the baking.
And then, there is the building. (Thanks, Keith!)
Finally . . . it all culminates in the Fun Part: gathering the materials and letting the creative juices flow.
We make quite an impressive mess when it comes to this project!
(Although far less mess now . . . than when Erin and Brian were children.)
(Oh, my. So much less mess.)
This year, we welcomed Brian's girlfriend, Lauren, to our gingerbread house madness. As a good-natured engineering student, she took to it like a champ! Brian even joined us to "help" -- and I don't think he's been interested in gingerbread houses since he was about 10! He and Lauren teamed up to create these adorable snowmen out of gumdrops (skewered on candy canes).
Truth be told, Brian acted a bit like he did when he was a 10-year-old! Like . . . he kept gluing random gumdrops to Lauren's house when she wasn't paying attention (. . . how did THAT get there????) and dropping candy "turds" in Erin's pristine coconut lawn. (Once a pesty little brother, always a pesty little brother. . .)
This year's final products:
Erin . . .
My mom . . .
Lauren . . .
And me . . .
A whole gingerbread neighborhood . . .
Welcome to December!
We had a great day yesterday.
There was food (of course) and fun . . . and there may even have been some juggling.
It was all wonderful.
But today . . . I'm looking forward to a little of this!
Hope you're able to do a little kicking back today, too!
There were times I liked the snow.
When I was a kid, for example, playing with my sister in the front yard.
There were times I embraced the snow.
When I was skiing (here at Steamboat with my college roommate, Sarah, in 1979), for example.
Heck, there were even times I wished for snow.
Just this past Christmas, for example.
But now? Now I just want it to melt.
To share this story, I had to dig deep into The Archives -- those photos pre-digital and stuck rather hapharzadly into an early scrapbook-style photo album. With archival glue. Never to be scanned.
But this story is worth it.
It was Christmas Eve, 1996. I was a worn-out, hassled Mom . . . looking for a way to take the edge off a Most Exciting Day for my kids. (My kids got VERY excited about everything-Christmas, all season long. But by Christmas Eve, we're talking Fever Pitch.)
I decided we'd bake some extra-special Santa cookies to leave for Santa Claus that night.
I made red and white batches of sugar cookie dough.
We rolled and shaped and decorated.
Erin (2nd grade) was VERY into the Santa cookie making. Brian (preschool) lost interest in the blink of an eye.
In the end, the cookies were magnificent!
I piped on frosting for the beard and Santa-embellishment, and we left the cookies on the counter to "settle" while we went to church.
When we came back, I noticed that Tom (dear man!) had put the cookies away for me -- although one arm had fallen off and was still laying on the counter.
I got my near-frenzied kids into their jammies, ready to hang their stockings (with care!) and set out the cookies for Santa Himself.
Honey, where did you put the Santa cookies?
Like . . . deer-in-the-headlights stare.
I thought YOU put them away!
Seems NOBODY put the Santa cookies away.
And that's when Jake . . . our dog . . . skulked in.
Seems JAKE . . . put the cookies away.
Leaving one little Santa arm behind.
And that photo, above, was the closest any of us ever got to one of those magnificent Santa cookies!
While I was digging in The Archives, I also found a couple of photos from one of our very early gingerbread house decorating sessions.
Here's my Mom -- in 1997. That year, she was teamed up with Brian -- who, in his Kindergarten-level zeal, stuck on the first piece of candy and collapsed her whole masterpiece! (I decided to leave out the photo of my Mom's clenched-teeth smile as she assured him it was . . . Just fine, Brian. Really. Just FINE.)
And here's Erin (3rd grade) - my partner-in-gingerbread that year, putting the finishing touches on our house.
Christmas memories are such fun!
Here is the Christmas card my Mom and Dad sent way back in 1961:
The happy little caroler is, of course, me . . . at nearly 3. (No sister yet -- but she arrived quite soon after this photo.)
Fun Christmas memories!