Reclaiming Christmas

Bring It!

Hello, December!


I'm so happy you're here.  Oh, I know.  There have been other years where I have dreaded your arrival and maybe even cursed your name.  This year, though?  This year I welcome you with open arms.

You see, I'm ready for a little merry-and-bright.  And we all could use some peace-on-earth-goodwill-toward-men (that's for sure).

So.  December. . .

I long for your sparkle (to keep me smiling).

I await your lights (to brighten the dark spots).

I seek your wonder (to help me believe).

I need your hope (to keep me moving forward).

I wish for your joy (to add fun to my days).

I crave your peace (to blanket us all).

Hey, December?



This post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To read other contributions, click here.  And to receive the weekly prompts, click here.


PS - Today's photo is a winter shot from a past year.  Today it is cloudy and gloomy and rain/snowing and generally not good for photos.




Christmases Long, Long Ago

Over the past ten years or so, my parents have been slowly down-sizing their Christmas decorating.  They've found a full-size tree is just too much in their condo, and have replaced it with a tabletop tree.  While they still deck the halls, it's just become more . . . manageable.  

With many boxes of unused and not-seen-in-years holiday decor lurking in their basement, my Mom and Dad decided to KonMari their Christmas decorations -- and I volunteered to assist.

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On Saturday, we carefully went through each box of decorations and ornaments, dividing everything into the usual categories: Keep, Pitch, Goodwill.  But this time, we also knew that some of the ornaments would be going to my sister and I -- and to our kids.  (Those garland beads my Mom is dealing with?  Goodwill.)

My Mom and Dad and I had such a great time . . . revisiting Christmases long, long ago as we worked through the boxes.  It's hard to part with old holiday decorations and ornaments when they hold so many happy memories -- even when they haven't been unpacked or used for many years.  I think it helped my Mom and Dad to know that their most meaningful decorations were going to be welcomed by me and my sister and our children.

Take this angel tree-topper, for example.

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My Mom and Dad bought this little angel to top their very first Christmas tree (back in 1956).  My Mom remembers that it was very cheap -- and was meant to just get them through until they could afford something nicer.  Instead, it topped every full-size tree they ever had -- including all of my childhood Christmas trees - becoming more precious over time.  (She's now safely packed away with my Christmas decorations, ready to make an appearance somewhere in my house next December.)

Or these rather ratty-looking ornaments.

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The bell . . . was one of a set of (I think) eight.  They were plastic and "touchable" -- and my Mom and Dad got them when their toddler (that would be me) noticed (ahem) the ornaments on the tree.  As an older child, I remember that we always hung the bells near the bottom of the tree -- for tradition's sake.  My sister and I loved to sit under the tree, and spin those bells . . . dreaming of Santa Claus and the wonders of Christmas morning.  Now, only two of the original bells remain -- one for me, and one for my sister.

The foil ball . . . was one of a set of four - red, green, silver, and blue.  I actually remember when my Mom bought them from Junior Achievement students selling them door-to-door.  I was in early elementary school, and I thought they looked like satellites!  So cool.  Again, just two remain.  One for me (red), and one for my sister (silver).

And, speaking of satellites . . . 

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My Mom and I made these "satellite" ornaments from kits when I was in about 4th or 5th grade.  Based on the precision of these bead-and-sequin beauties, I'm betting my Mom had me load up the pins, and she handled the placement.  (She was a very patient Mother.)

And more sequins . . . 

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We had several ornaments of this type on the Christmas trees of my childhood.  My Mom made several beautiful - and personalized - ornaments of styrofoam with rick-rack, sequins and special beads.  She let me help (I was probably in 2nd-3rd grade).  This is one of my creations.  Mine were much more . . . random . . . than my Mom's.  Here's were perfectly precise.  My sister was just young enough to not really be interested - or able - to join us in creating these ornaments.  She would've been in kindergarten at the time.  But she has fond memories of these special ornaments on our trees.

Speaking of sequins . . . this ornament is part of my family's Christmas Lore. . .

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MC.  (For Merry Christmas, of course.)  Yep.  I created this one.  I hung it proudly on the tree -- right in front! -- the year I made it.  But.  After that, it was always shoved to the back.  But only after a lot of laughing and good natured hilarity.  MC.  I'm so glad it survived!  

We painted ornaments, too.

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Sometimes (well . . . most times), my sister and I started strong.  But lost our focus toward the end!

My parents and I had a great time, sorting through the ornament boxes and sharing our memories of those long-ago Christmases.  And my own Christmas tree?  Well, it will be bursting with some "new" ornaments next year!


Right Now . . . December 2015

You've been such a notable month, December.  Full of activity.  Warmer than ever.  And gone in a flash!  (Of course, you're also ushering in the new year with ice and sleet and snow.  Cue winter . . . )


Here's what's happening . . . RIGHT NOW.

Watching . . . Movies.  All the movies!  Tom and I have been on a movie tear lately (because this is the season for all the movies we've been waiting to see).  Before Christmas we saw Spotlight (excellent; my favorite so far), Room (good - but the book was better), and Brooklyn (great - and far better than the book).  This week (so far!) we've seen the new Star Wars (so fun), The Big Short (excellent, plus awesome soundtrack), and Joy (Jennifer Lawerence is great; much better movie than the reviews would have you believe).

Reading . . . In the ears -- Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (Elena Ferrante) (Neapolitan #3); on the page -- H is for Hawk (Helen MacDonald).  Earlier this week, I finished the challenging, heart-breaking, and eye-opening Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates).  (Really . . . everyone should read this one.)  I'm also enjoying my new Christmas gift cookbook Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix.

Knitting . . . I've just picked up my never-ending sweater again.  (You know why it's never-ending don't you?  Because I'm never-knitting. . . )  (I WILL finish, though.)

Listening to . . . a Solstice playlist.  Tom and I hosted a Solstice party this year, and we created a special playlist for the party.  It's, well . . . very eclectic!  We chose songs about the sun, sunshine, light, darkness, winter . . . and burning (as in candles) -- and it beats the heck out of Christmas music!


Dreading . . . the January People at the gym.  (They've already arrived, actually.)  (I hate January at the gym.)

Drinking . . . Ballast Point Sculpin.   (A new discovery.)  (YUM.)

Planning . . .  How to move forward with my intentions for 2016.  I have some cool things in mind, and I'm looking forward to putting some of those plans and ideas into action.

Humming . . . this one, from the Gorrillaz.  (I have it on several playlists, but heard it again in The Big Short the other day.)


Wondering . . . what the new year will bring!  It's always kind of amazing to look back and see all that happened in the year just ending - expected and unexpected.  So I'm just wondering what will come with the new year.

Itching to . . . just sit and knit for awhile.  But there are so many other "shiny objects" to play with right now . . . 

Organizing . . . my digital photos.  Ugh.  What a monumental undertaking.  My advice:  DON'T store all your photos (like. . . for years) on your hard drive.  And, really.  Get rid of the bad ones and dubplicates right away.  (Just sayin.)

Delighted by . . . a new Alabama Chanin kit I received for Christmas from Tom.  (He got a big hint.)  (It's the wrap skirt!)

Needing to . . . clean out my refrigerator.  And clean my oven, too.


Enjoying . . . Erin and Keith!  Thanks to an extended vacation, I've got them through the weekend!

Celebrating . . . the end of a challenging year.  (Although we've certainly risen to the occasion!)

Looking forward to . . . returning to my Regular Life . . . after all the Holiday Madness!

How about YOU?  What's happening for you . . . RIGHT NOW?

Looking Ahead to Some Down Time

Like many of you, over the last couple of weeks I have . . . Done All The Things.

Shopping, wrapping, shipping, baking, planning, partying, decorating.  All The Things.

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I don't know about you, but I'm pooped!  (This photo is a picture of our living room . . . before our Solstice Celebration party on Sunday night . . . and before Jenny helped herself to most of those M&Ms.)

I'm looking forward to some Down Time . . . so I can . . . 

  1. Mostly just not feel like I should be/could be doing something . . . seasonal.
  2. Knit.  I haven't knit in several weeks, and I'm itching to stitch!
  3. Read.  My reading has slowed to a crawl lately, too.
  4. Draw.  I haven't picked up a pencil since my last art class ended before Thanksgiving.
  5. See All The Movies.  We've seen several lately, but so many good ones are coming out right now that it's been impossible to keep up!
  6. Stitch.  As in an Alabama Chanin project (that I think I'll be unwrapping soon).
  7. Sew.  I cut out an apron before Thanksgiving; it's still sitting on my sewing table.
  8. Finish organizing my digital photos.  It's a huge project, and I got a good start before the holiday crush, but lately?  Not so much.
  9. Put the finishing touches on my "new" bedroom and bathroom.  It's all finished now -- but there are no pictures on the walls yet. 
  10. Think about my next home renovation project . . . which involves removing the wallpaper in my dining room.

How about YOU?  What are you looking forward to doing . . . once the Holiday Rush is over?


Be sure to check out what everyone else has to say here.

Best Option

We've all been there.  You're on the way to a party.  You need a hostess gift.  QUICK!  Or maybe just one more stocking stuffer.  Or a gift for a co-worker on your way to work.  



And you don't want to run to the mall.  (And you certainly don't want to go to Target!)

What's your best option?  Why . . . the grocery store, of course!

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This week, Carole asks us for Ten Gifts You Can Pick Up at the Grocery Store:

  1. Wine.  We're lucky here in Michigan, because grocery stores sell wine and beer.  And . . . wine makes a perfect last-minute, pick-it-up-on-the way gift.  (You can even buy some curling ribbon and fancy-it-up a bit on the way.)
  2. Specialty chocolate.
  3. Gift cards.
  4. Lottery tickets. (My kids love getting scratch-off lottery tickets in their stockings.)
  5. Coffee mugs and specialty coffees.  (We have a Starbucks located in our favorite grocery store, which makes this really easy.)
  6. Wine-related items like openers and stoppers.  (Our wine department stocks these during the holidays.)
  7. Poinsettias.
  8. Specialty cheeses.
  9. Fruit baskets.
  10. Magic Grow Capsules.  (Because really . . . who wouldn't want these?)

As for me, though... I pretty much stop at #1.

How about YOU?  What last-minute-gifts can you find at your local grocery store?


Read what everyone else has to say here!