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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

When I was growing up, there were no malls on every corner, or any corner.  Mom did not have a driver’s license and never did get one and shopping consisted of a payday (every other Friday) foray into the nearest little town, Griffith, Indiana.  Where I would return my arm-load of books to the library and pick out the next two weeks reading, while mom and dad started their grocery shopping.

Occasionally we would pick something up in the Ben Franklin dime store.  Prices were higher for clothing there, but you could get a tube of lipstick or a hanky to give a relative for Christmas.  Our main shopping was from the Sears, Roebuck Catalog.

1958 Sears Catalog

photo via http://www.wishbookweb.com/1958_SearsChristmasBook/index.htm

This was the Christmas catalog of 1958, and I remember that santa ornament hanging on our tree.  We poured over those Christmas catalogs for hours.  When the Sears driver delivered our order, my brother and I would have to leave the room while she opened those pages and checked the goods.  I don’t think they could do that now, in this day of GPS tracking and speedy delivery, but back in the 50s, service ruled.

I belive there was a fall catalog also that signalled the arrival of the school year.  Mom would haul out the catalog and mark the pages I could use to chose my school clothes.  There was a price point obviously.  Mom always ordered two pair of shoes for me, in different sizes, just to make sure.

The Sears truck driver was almost a friend to invite to dinner.  He came in with the order and waited while things were tried on.  So, when it was time to order school clothing,  I looked for my favorite pair of shoes.  Sears carried them for years.  They were flats with elastic cords that went from the front to the back and I thought they made my feet look awesomely small.  Mom would order two pair, in different sizes, and the Sears truck driver would wait, while I tried on my shoes, so he could take back the pair that did not fit.

Now, I drive fifty miles, to Shoe Circus in Indy/Greenwood, to get shoes that feel half way comfortable and pay a $100 for the privilege.  Do high heels make your feet look amazing?  Yes!  Do they feel like the inquisition has arrived?  Yes!

I HATE SHOES!

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We did not decorate much this year.  After grandson/son #2 (Army Guy) went off to the Army, the boys moved bedrooms and I am left with the extra bedroom on the main floor.  It will eventually be my workroom, but right now is just a mess.  The first thing I did though, was move grandson/sons #3 (JCountry) piano out to the dining room. 

We have an L shaped main floor, with 1/4 of that square (that’s not an L) being that bedroom, now workroom.  The other parts of the L are the kitchen, the dining area, a tv, a couch collection (my mother likes to replace her furniture and we have inherited quite a few extra pieces), and a computer area.  Trust me, this is NOT a big house.

Which I really realized when it was time to put up the tree.  There just isn’t anywhere to put a Christmas tree.  Heck, there’s a comfy rocking love seat in the middle of the floor.  I did consider hanging it (the tree, not the couch) but there was no room for that either. 

I took my trusty Menard’s rebate and got a 24″ tree and a can of spray snow (Any tree I have is having snow on it.) and I went to Hobby Lobby, and for 50% off, I bought a fake garland (which also now has snow on it) and a cloth runner to protect the ancient piano from the fake snow.

In our first house we had a fireplace and I did this every year on the mantle, only with real boughs and fake snow and shiny ornaments and (when we were in the room) lit candles.  Now, I have two plastic battery candles.

It’s in a pinch.  The guys are older now and not so excited about going into the attic for decorations.  I just wanted something up.   I used to decorate every square inch but this house put a stop to that.  I really need to declutter more; which I have been doing for the last seven years actually and still have more to go.

I have another reason for decorating.  On my facebook (http://SAVanVleck.Wordpress.com) a couple of people have mentioned not enjoying Christmas because they have lost a loved one. 

I know the feeling.  When my brother died, I just wasn’t sure I would ever enjoy the holidays again.  Then, Dad died and I was left with this horrible guilt because we thought we were doing him a favor by taking down the tree before we left their house after Christmas.  He got up and was not happy.  He wanted to look at it for more time.  That was his last Christmas.

So, what I tell people and firmly believe now, is do not deprive yourself because you feel lonely, or sad, or guilty or whatever.  My brother and father were both big on Christmas and, by decorating, it is more a reminder of that joy and a tribute to the ones you love who loved the holidays.

Happy Holidays to everyone.

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‘Tis the season for holiday shopping, and just what do you give those who have “it” all and also money?  Check out, Wacky Gifts for the Holidays for some great ideas, including a personal hovercraft.  I WANT ONE!

But, what if you have to give to one of those irritating people who pick up the wrapped Christmas gift and tell you what it is before they open it?

Yes, folks, these are Decoy Gift Boxes for products no one probably makes, but I bet you will see for sale, next year.

OR, you could do what my mother did every year for most of our lives!!!!

She gave gifts in Kotex boxes.  Yup!  Those highly decorated boxes held everything from toys to underwear.  If it did not come in a box, and she could cram it in a Kotex box, that’s what you unwrapped. 

We started taking bets as to who would get the Kotex box this year.  On good years, she could fool you and you would see that your brother got it and think you were safe, but noooooo!  Unwrap your next gift and there is the Kotex box.

The very best year was the year that JCountry got it.  He was all of two or three years old and I really would not have thought that he knew what a Kotex box was, but I have a movie of him unwrapping his gift, taking one look at the box and staring up open mouthed in wonder at just what was his Great-Grandmother was giving him.

Hmmm! Good idea, as soon as those old movies are transfered to CD’s, I shall post it on U-Tube and he shall become a U-Tube sensation and be properly embarrassed, AGAIN!

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This picture is “Waiting for Grandad.”  Left to right we have, EMT, JCountry and Gaffer.  Pardon my over-crowded house.

Four men in the house and anytime that we can get all four in one room, a game happens.  The latest “greatest” game is 1942, Axis and Allies.  The challenge is getting them all in one room.

The first thing that happened was EMT disappeared.  Literally, disappeared.  He left, on Friday night, to go help with Bingo at the fire department and never returned.  He told me he might just sleep at the department, but would be home in the morning. 

EMT has a bad habit of not letting us know what he is doing.  He is twenty, so it is hard to complain; however, I have repeatedly explained to him that it is a matter of courtesy to let the people you live with know when to expect you back.  Heck, it is even a matter of your own safety, as we have a relative who died when his car flipped over and he wasn’t found for three days.  The first two days he lived. 

So, the first day EMT was missing, I grumbled about him all day.  I left the outside light on until 3am and then swore and went to sleep.  The second day, I began to worry a bit.  Late that day we called his friends.  Why is it no one is ever home when you call them for something really important?  Late that day we drove around.  No one was at the fire department.  No one was at his friend’s house. 

At seventy-two hours, we went to the police and filed a report on him, missing, in our car.   He has had a problem with a couple of guys and we were concerned they had cornered him and beaten him to a pulp and left him in the woods.  We drove around staring between trees for our red van.   Our County is wooded.

Two hours later, when we arrived home from the police station and driving around, for the second time, Gaffer decided to make a library run for books, movies and high speed.  Twenty minutes later, Gaffer calls and lets us know that he is parked next to our Red Van at the library, and will call if his brother is in the library.

YUP!  That’s where we found EMT, after seventy-two hours.  During the time he was missing, he had gone camping, torn apart a car with a friend, and made money scrapping the parts, done Christmas shopping, and gone to the library.  He really does not understand why we were so upset.  In the meantime, my hair is grey!!!

EMT, anticipating leaving for the Army in January, where he will be the problem of the U.S. Government and they can figure out where he is, brought home the Harry Potter Clue game.  He gave it to the family for Christmas and wanted to get a lot of gaming in before he left.  He also figured it was maybe a game I would play.  He was right.

Playing games is akin to having a kidney infection, for me.  I am more a knit and giggle with daughter, while games are going on, preferably with a glass of Bailey’s in hand, kind of gal.  There are now three games I will willingly play: Cribbage, Dominoes and Harry Potter Clue. 

I should be cleaning my piles of projects out of the front room and baking pies or cookies for our Thanksgiving dinner, instead I am blogging and listening to Gaffer speak with a Russian accent as he rolls his dice to defend Russia from Germany.  The are figuratively spitting at each other, I am told.  JCountry is Germany.  Gaffer is Russia.  Granddad is back in from his disappearance to my studio and all is well with our world.

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It is in the high 60’s today, in Indiana.  I understand that in Casper, Wyoming, where we lived for ten years before moving back home to Indiana, they have had four good snow storms and are expecting ten more inches this weekend. 

I am still not used to the warmth and nicer weather we have by living less than fifty miles south of Indianapolis.  It is gorgeous today and I saw my first Christmas advertisement.  Good Grief!

It used to be that you had Halloween, the next day you saw adds for Thanksgiving and then, right around Thanksgiving the Christmas adds started.  Now, the folks at Hobby Lobby tell me they have already condensed the ornaments, since they have sold so many, and the Christmas television ads have started.

Just like Crazy Aunt Purl, and her fight against buying more Christmas decorations, I am a Christmas nut.  I have ornaments from both of my grandmother’s trees.  I love the season and I love the lights, smells, sounds and ornamentation of it.  However, it just does not last as long as it used to.

I remember coming home from school with crayon Christmas drawings, through huge drifts of snow , and how long it seemed before Christmas Eve.   I remember sneaking into the kitchen, while the others decorated the tree, and eating the whole package of chocolate covered wafer cookies.  I do not remember the throwing up which I did.

But, snow or no snow, and even though Christmas comes and goes in the blink of an eye, it is a warm and cozy holiday to spend with loved ones.  With or without sixteen rubbermaids of decorations.

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The holidays are almost over, for me at last.  As Zup pointed out, I am a holiday nut.  Gaffer flies off in a few hours.  The tree comes down next week and I need to find a new banner; for real.  It is bitter cold here this week, two hour time delays for school and power outages are the norm.

 

The other night, while the guys were playing cards, the power started flickering.  On, off —- on, off —- Then it was going on and off so rapidly, I got a headache from it.  And, you wouldn’t believe it, but then, it didn’t come back on.  Shock!  Shock!  In Brown County, Indiana, we would have a power outage.  Actually, the odd thing is we did not have one last month.  Unfortunately, this one lasted eight hours and the furnace ran all day trying to catch back up.  Man, this house is leaky.

 

Last night I went to hear JRock sing and play at Muddy Boots cafe.  His guitar/voice teacher has taken him under his ring and JRock does a set now with the teacher.  He sings lot’s of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams.  I think it is about time to rename JRock.  So, I guess he will be JCountry from now on.  

 

He is really comfortable on the stage and his guitar work is improving.  His voice has always been really good and they are harmonizing well too.  Of course, his teacher has been at this for forty years and has many awards

 

We’re watching  Jeff Dunham’s Christmas special DVD before they leave for the airport, in between watching Obama’s train trip.  When I was young, I wrote a letter to President Eisenhower, with a plea to help this country accept all people as equal.  I’m a pasty white woman but I’m proud as can be to finally see this step in the country’s history. 

 

So, the house goes back to normal this week.  The tree and decorations come down and I make way for my Harry Potter trunk and goodies, on the shelf.  My Gryffindor scarf progresses, and my piles of year end papers clutter the floor. 

 

I had a lot of time to knit on it these past two weeks; first in the hospital and then in the Rehab center with mom.  She’s home now.  The Rehab center was wonderful for her as she ate right and got all her medications.  I know it is a boring place to be but she was well taken care of. 

 

And, maybe I can find a bit more humor out there.  Oh, how I love going through stacks of papers!!!

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CBS News Sunday Morning is a microcosm of our world.  That hour, on Sunday morning, has become one of my favorite hours of the week.  Pajama clad, usually cup of tea in hand, I curl up under a blanket on the couch and know, that somehow nothing will disturb this hour.  The boys sleep on and the phone does not ring.  It’s magic!

 

Charles Osgood has replaced Charles Kurault but the show is every bit as good as it was then.  First is an overview of the week’s news, then follows: art, current political events, best and worst jobs, a bit of Hollywood with Glenn Close, commentary (It’s always good to hear someone else’s opinion), elephant polo (Where else can you hear about elephant polo?), and nature.

 

Today was a segment on “guilt” that included a clip of the master of guilt, “Woody Allen.”  Guilt is brought to us right in the beginning; literally, of the Bible.  Guilt even activates a portion of the brain, so perhaps we are hard-wired to experience guilt.  I grew up in the First Christian church and guilt was ever present in my youth.  My mother once walked out of a mall store with an unpaid for keychain on her finger.  She walked the full length of the mall to return it.   I would not pick up a penny if it was lying on the driveway of someone else’s property, even when I was three.  I do not think that is a bad thing.  But, guilt at feeling pride in oneself is one of the quickest downfalls of man/woman.  We all need to feel we are worthy; for a happy life and to accomplish small and great things. 

 

Not feeling worthy can lead to suicide, acceptance of a poor condition in your life, and being treated poorly by others.  J.K. Rowling said that it took her thirty-five years to stop going for the bad boy, and it worries her when women/girls say they like Lucius or Draco Malfoy.  AOL Chat (See second question down on left.)  In my opinion, if you have enough sense of self-worth, you are attracted to good characters, like Lupin.  When you are attracted to a Malfoy, you are asking to be abused. You apparently, do not feel worthy of the best. 

 

Sunday Morning Almanac, 1964, was the first finding of cigarette smoking and lung cancer and other associated diseases.  Having had an aunt, a long time smoker, who died of lung cancer not long ago and knowing that it makes me breathless to be on the company of a smoker, I have to agree.  For what that is worth.

 

The art segment covered trains.  My love of trains is of the model variety, although I loved my morning commute when it was on a train.  I remember the Christmas morning my brother received a model train.  I woke up to the whistle and, oh how I wanted that train.  I saw a design once for a very small gauge train in a coffee table.  I always meant to make that.  This segment featured artist’s representations of train and train travel.  And, the art section of Sunday Morning is one of my favorites.

 

They covered George Walker Bush, as President; 9/11, the Iraq War, Katrina and the economic crisis.  My mother always says that no matter who gets in, they will do their best.   I rather think that must be modified with them doing, what is right, in their own interests, not necessarily in the best interests of the country.

 

Brides and weddings were covered next.  I know something about weddings, having attended two this year and photographing the one.  These couples worked at keeping the costs down while having their own original weddings.  When I see that someone has spent twenty thousand dollars on a wedding, I wonder why they do not put that money down on a house, when I hear of a six hundred thousand dollar wedding, I wonder how many homeless people could be housed, how many hungry children could be fed, for that one, wedding?  The last wedding I attended, that cost twenty thousand dollars, saw a divorce not too many years later. I doubt the bride spends too many hours looking at those wedding photos.

 

We were told that houses are being built smaller.  I hope that means we are going to be less wasteful in the future.  We only have one earth and we have to learn to take care of it.

 

And, it is nice to see that international frivolity can bring us all together, when the New York blue team played elephant polo in India and won silver.  What’s life without a laugh and friends, and elephants?

 

Finally, they ended with nature, as they always do.  This time it was in the snowy mountains of southern Colorado, with squirrels and trees, snow and running water.  Is there any better way to start the week?

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