Friday, December 31, 2010

2010. The Year of the Sloth

I have to admit, 2010 was not my personal best. Although a lot of really wonderful things happened and although I enjoyed a lot of good fortune, I don’t feel like I did a very good job of running my life, rather; my life was running me.

A lot of that had to do with the crazy schedules that we kept due to the kids’ various sporting endeavors and with our work schedules being kind of all over the place but, mainly, it had to do with my apparent inability to motivate myself to use what little free time I had for things that didn’t involve sticking a fork into my mouth or sitting on the couch with the remote control in my hand.

I’m going to do better in 2011. Not that I’m resolving to do better, I don’t really believe in New Year Resolutions; I’m just saying, I’m going to do better.

Luckily, I have these guys to encourage and support me.

And, to kick me in the rear on the rare occasion that I need the motivation. I’m guessing there will be a lot of butt-kicking in my New Year and, that's ok; thanks to 2010, my butt is a much larger target.

Welcome 2011! Now, let's get cracking.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

This Just in, Local Weatherman Needs a Swift Kick in the Teeth

We finally got the epic snowstorm that the weatherman predicted the other day.

Yep, epic.

In fact, I hope we don’t hurt ourselves digging out.

The good news is, it also snowed in the high country and, since our sledding hill of choice is located at a higher elevation than our home, the epic storm may have dumped enough snow to cover the rocks juuuust enough to make them invisible. That will certainly add to the excitement of the day; who wouldn’t want to play the sledding version of Russian Roulette?

I guess I can’t really blame the weatherman for this fiasco, after all, he doesn’t control the weather; he just raises the hopes of outdoor enthusiasts by tossing around words like epic when what he probably meant to say was “sorry folks, there will be no snow this New Year but, hey! Coldmiser got the memo about the warm temperatures and you can now expect below freezing temperatures! “

So, while I can’t blame him for the weather, I do reserve the right to want to kick him in the teeth.

Speaking of…someone recently suggested to me that pursuing treatment for Gilligan might not be worth the vet bill, you know, given his advanced age and all. I also considered kicking said person in the teeth but I restrained myself.

It is the holiday season, after all.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Heatmiser Is Determined to Ruin My New Year

I’ve complained about the warm temperatures we have been having this month. I think I also complained about the fact that we have had no snow so far this winter and, truly, we have had not a single flake float down from above. Not one.

The no-snow thing is particularly distressing because it puts our annual New Year’s Day sledding trip in jeopardy since the idea of sledding down a rocky hillside appeals to no one in my family. Well, the Man-Cub might enjoy it but he enjoys any activity that involves hurling himself from heights. Also, he is an accident magnet so his opinion doesn’t really count. Anyway, the rest of us are really holding out hope for an eleventh-hour snowstorm. Or three.

And, our local television weatherman totally raised our hopes last night by forecasting an “epic” snowstorm for today and into tomorrow. Unfortunately, the weatherman is a big fat liar because we still have no snow.

New Year’s Day is three days away.

I’m thinking Coldmiser needs to kick his brother’s ass to the curb and return us to our normally scheduled weather program.

Or, I need to invest in metal toboggans because, our inflatable snow tubes will not hold up to the jagged edges of all those rocks. And, hell, yes; we’re still going. I'm just going to pack a few Bandaids, cold compresses and our insurance cards.

Tradition will not be denied.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: The Aftermath

It takes about a week for me to get all of my holiday decorations set up; to find the perfect arrangement for the village pieces, the right place to display the Jim Shore nativity set, the best possible place to hang each ornament on the tree and the most visually pleasing way to utilize each of the other million and ten items that only come out of the attic once a year. Then, we enjoy the fruits of my labors for approximately five weeks before it is time to take it all down again, a process that takes considerably less time than it did to put it all out in the first place.

Every year, I tell myself that I won’t get everything out the following year; that I’ll cut back on the decorations, on the baking list, on the activities that I insist we pursue each year in the name of the Christmas Spirit and, every year; I fail to follow through on that vow.

You know what they say the definition of insanity is, right? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Finally! A diagnosis!

I wonder if this is covered by Aflac.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 1, Merry Christmas to All and To All a Good Night

What a fabulous day! It started at 6:00 this morning, a full hour later than expected; thanks, kids! Thanks for the extra hour of sleep!

Present unwrapping commenced at 6:02 and was finished by 7:00 with every member of the family receiving pretty much everything on their gift list, including myself, who received the new Tamron 18-270 mm lens for my camera. The lens that allows me to focus from this

To this

without changing the lens.

It. Is. Awesome.

Also awesome? The fact that Gilligan is still around to pose for these pictures and, by pose for, I mean; to lay on the tree skirt while glaring at me as I take his picture.

 After the week we have had with him; I’ll take it. Thanks, Santa!

As I said, Santa was generous with each member of my household. The Teenager got the phone that she had been hoping for as well as a laptop computer for which she dared not hope.

The Man-Cub got a phone of his own as well as a PSP and a Tony Hawk skateboard game for the Wii. He was pretty stoked which, in teenager-speak means he was quite pleased.

For his part, Hugh received a fish finder for the boat, the super-fancy kind that will enable him to reel in entire schools of fish (I’m guessing. You know, based on how much it cost. Also, has anyone seen my right kidney? I sold it on the black market in order to pay for Hugh’s fish finder and I would kind of like to buy it back) as well as a European shoulder bag that most men would kill for (ha! I totally hid a bottle of 12 year old scotch in a new purse and made him open it just to see the look on his face! For the record? While Hugh loves 12 year old Balvenie Scotch, he is not a fan of the man-purse, bah,ha,ha,ha,ha! BUT, I got a new purse out of the deal. Win-win!).

I appologize for the crappy quality of the video but, you know, 6:00 in the morning. Only so much one can do ,yo.

Following the hour of rabid unwrapping of gifts, we toiled about in the kitchen, preparing a turkey feast with all the trimmings. Currently, we are all in the process of recovering from a collective cheesecake coma and are watching one of the fifteen DVDs gifted to the various members of my family who arrived yesterday to help us celebrate the holiday.

Later, we might eat one of the popcorn balls that we made last night during our traditional popcorn ball-making extravaganza. So tasty and, so much fun!

But, in the meanwhile, I am nursing a (really large) glass of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio while thanking God for the blessing bestowed upon me, including my family, the roof over my head, the food on our plates, the friends I hold most dear and, most importantly this year; the whisper-thin marmalade kitty still sleeping underneath my Christmas tree.

I have been blessed. So very blessed.

Friday, December 24, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 2, Settling in For a Long Winter’s Night

It’s Christmas Eve and we all know what that means; a visit from the Big Guy! My household is awash in anticipation of his arrival and preparations for welcoming him are underway; the debate over which cookies Santa might prefer on his plate tonight chief among them.

For the record, I vote chocolate chip while the children are split between frosted sugar cookies and gingerbread.

And, yes, this debate is serious because, one of my children still believes in Santa (hint; it’s not The Teenager). Yes, at the somewhat advanced age of twelve, the Man-Cub still believes in the Big Guy. And, while I’m relatively certain that he has his share of doubts, he has done a remarkable job of setting them aside in favor of clinging to the notion of magic flying reindeer, industrious toy-making elves and Santa’s ability to squeeze his rather large girth down really narrow chimneys.

I am so grateful for his continuing belief in the special magic of this season for a number of reasons, the very least of which is; it makes my own belief in Santa seem somewhat less absurd.

Why, yes, Virginia; I do believe in Santa. It is a belief that I will take with me to my grave, a belief that I think makes me a kinder person, one far less likely to become a bitter old woman somewhere down the road. It is a belief that fuels my desire to create as many warm and wonderful memories as I possibly can for my children who will, ideally, go on to create warm and wonderful holiday memories for their own children, ensuring that future generations also believe in the generous and kind nature of a being who asks nothing from children save for the promise that they be nice.

I believe in Santa. Not the man in the red suit, exactly but, in the principals that Santa best exemplifies; that kindness begets kindness. Generosity begets generosity. And that one person can make a world of difference in the life of another person.

I believe.

I also really like chocolate chip cookies but, that is neither here nor there.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 3, the Day Before the DAY BEFORE

As of 2:25 yesterday, the kids were officially on vacation from school. Actually, since she had finished her finals and was not interested in watching movies and helping the teachers clean their classrooms, The Teenager opted not to attend school yesterday at all so, technically; she’s been on vacation since 3:30, Tuesday. In contrast, the Man-Cub was more than happy to attend school because his class was going to the theater in town to see the new Narnia movie. Also, he thinks cleaning classrooms is suh-weet!

For the record, kids on vacation are quite similar to mental patients granted a three-day leave. The only exception being that, following two weeks of this, I will be the one who needs to be committed. This sucks on a variety of levels, not the very least of which being the fact that I cannot weave a basket to save my life. On the other hand, I hear those straightjackets are actually somewhat comfortable.

And we are moving on.

Last night, after celebrating Hugh’s birthday at one of our favorite restaurants, we hit the Hellmouth for some unplanned browsing and the purchase of stupid things that we didn’t really need (tis the season!). One item that Hugh deemed of absolute necessity was a gingerbread house kit, this despite the fact that The Teenager wailed and gnashed her teeth and declared herself too old to decorate a gingerbread house while rending her garments in a most dramatic fashion.

Gingerbread house-a-palooza is scheduled for tomorrow night despite The Teenager’s protests.

In Gilligan news, we continue to see signs of improvement although we have accepted the fact that he will never recover completely and will always require some degree of special care. Now, ask us if we care about the additional effort involved in keeping him healthy and well. We do not; we are quite willing to go the distance.

Speaking of going the distance, my parents are scheduled to arrive either today or tomorrow, depending on the weather. My older sister and her family will arrive tomorrow as well. And, then, CHRISTMAS!

I’m so excited, I can hardly stand myself. Soon, the anticipation will drive me to climb the walls, giggle spontaneously, squeal like a child and run in place, Flintstones-style.

I’m going to fit right in with my kids, is what I’m saying.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 4, Just Because I Say I’m Ready Doesn’t Mean That I Am

Presents purchased and wrapped, check.

Goodies baked and ready to make their debut on the silver tray purchased especially for that purpose, check.

Turkey thawing in the fridge, check.

Groceries purchased and stored, check.

On the surface, it appears that I am prepared for Santa’s arrival. At the very least I am prepared for the arrival of my parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew but; I cannot shake the nagging thought that I have forgotten something.

I guess I’ll figure it out, eventually. Probably at 10:01 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Too bad the stores close at 10:00 sharp.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 5, ‘Tis the Season for Raging Migraine Headaches

Gilligan continues to improve, allowing the family to relax in our diligence. Unfortunately, for me, relaxation following a period of extreme stress almost inevitably leads to a migraine and, this experience has been no different.

Immediately upon returning home following yesterday’s visit to the vet, I was hit with a double migraine, something that I have not experienced since I was pregnant with the Man-Cub. Fortunately, I had my faithful Imitrex inhalers on hand and, that combined with a bottle of diet Pepsi and four Excedrin Migraine caplets managed to put me into a deep enough sleep to ward off the nausea that usually accompanies the headache.

Today, I am still feeling the effects of the headache as well as that of the medication; drowsiness, dull throbbing in the temples, weakness and tension in the back of my neck and a feeling of loopiness; not to be confused with my general state of loopiness, in case you were wondering.

Loopiness or not, I must forge ahead with the chores that I have left to accomplish before Christmas, including cleaning my house from top to bottom, wrapping the last of the presents, making the last three batches of fudge (mint chocolate, butterscotch and chocolate peanut butter), baking three loaves of pumpkin bread as well as a few loaves of banana bread to replace what Gilligan has eaten (thank you lord jeebus!) and, I need to wrap Hugh’s birthday present before tomorrow for, tomorrow is his birthday.

It seems overwhelming, to be sure but I am relatively confident that I can manage it all. Or, I will chuck the list out the window and spend the evening cuddling with Gilligan on the couch while we watch a movie marathon featuring It’s a Wonderful Life, Jingle All the Way, The Grinch and Dickens’s Christmas Carol.

It could go either way, see above: LOOPINESS.

Monday, December 20, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 6, Miracle on Sixth Street

Friday morning, I called the vet’s office to see if they could get Gilligan in for an appointment, he was still having litter box issues and had stopped eating. The vet was out of the office and an appointment was made for Monday at 10:30.

By 3:00 that afternoon, Gilligan was in complete distress, stumbling as he attempted to walk, incontinent and obviously failing. Hugh called the vet on her personal cell phone and she told him that she was just getting back into town following a week in New Mexico with her son. She instructed Hugh to race Gilly in and, Hugh, The Teenager and the Man-Cub bundled him in warm towels and made the drive into town.

At that moment, I was relaxing on the massage table, about to begin a much needed rub down. Needless to say, the appointment was rescheduled, clothing was hastily thrown on and I met my teary-eyed husband and offspring at the vet’s office.

Gilly was…not good. The doctor diagnosed an extreme kidney and urinary tract infection and gently informed us that our fluffy furball was in acute renal failure. She showed Hugh how to administer subcutaneous liquids via an IV port in Gilly’s neck, prescribed a round of major antibiotics and told us to prepare ourselves for the worst. If Gilly made it through the weekend, she would see us at the previously-made appointment on Monday. She was…not hopeful.

That night, Gilly collapsed under the Christmas tree, unable to walk, unable to control his bladder, unable to eat and scarcely breathing. We took turns stroking his silky fur and whispering our most tender goodbyes.

When he made it through Friday night, we were grateful although, not optimistic. There was no improvement and, if possible, he was even weaker than the previous day. Hugh valiantly administered the subcutaneous fluids three or four times a day, sleeping next to Gilly on the floor, since he seemed to prefer being under the tree and we wanted him to be as peaceful as possible.

At one point Saturday night, Hugh settled Gilligan onto his chest as they reclined on the couch, a position that has always been a favorite of theirs and, in what we recognized as the ultimate gift to us, Gilly mustered up a low purr. It was the first time he had purred in a week and it was both the sweetest-and saddest-sound that I have ever heard. I sent the kids to their beds, convinced that Gilly would take his leave of us sometime during that night.

He didn’t.

And, while we didn’t see any improvement, we had to give him credit for fighting so hard.

Late last night (Sunday), I sat down on the couch next to Gilligan; we had bundled him in warm towels and were basically trying to keep him comfortable, having accepted the fact that there was very little else that we could do. I happened to have a plate of banana bread with me and Gilly’s head popped up at the scent of his favorite forbidden treat (since he was a kitten, he would jump up on the countertop to get at banana bread, often going so far as to chew through aluminum foil to obtain his prize). It was the first interest that he had shown in food since Thursday and you can be sure that I was not about to deny him. He ate almost as entire slice from the palm of my hand; I cried the entire time.

This morning, as Hugh lay sleeping beside him, Gilligan got up, stumbled over the train that encircles the Christmas tree and tried to drag himself to his litter box. The motion awakened Hugh, who put him in the box where, for the first time in over a week, he peed appropriately. Then, he took a few bites of kibble from Hugh’s hand, lapped at his water dish and then curled up for a nap, thoroughly exhausted by his efforts. For the first time in three days, Hugh and I breathed a little easier.

At 10:30, we made that vet appointment.

As I type this, Gilligan is laying next to me on the couch. He is able to walk short distances, has used his litter box, is taking food by the mouth, has started to put up a fuss when Hugh administers his IV and has become quite vocal about the injustice visited upon him by being bathed in a warm bathtub.

I have no idea what tomorrow will hold for him but, today, he is gaining strength and we are starting to see more of the old Gilligan. We will continue to treat him with IV fluids, antibiotics, rest, prayer and banana bread and, with God’s grace, will celebrate our seventeenth Christmas with him on Saturday.

None of us could imagine a more precious gift nor can we deny that we have been blessed witha small miracle right here on Earth.

God is good.

Friday, December 17, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 9, Where Are You Christmas? As Sung by Cindy Lou Who

Still no snow here in Petticoat Junction. In fact, the temperature hasn’t dipped much below 45 degrees all month. I have yet to break out my pretty winter coats, I haven’t worn a hat once and I couldn’t even begin to tell you where my gloves are. Ok that is a lie; the obsessive organizer in me will tell you that my entire collection of gloves (of which there are many) is safely tucked away in the canvas bin marked with my name in the closet in the guestroom, top shelf, right next to the canvas bins conveniently marked with the names of each of my family members. This need for the organization of winter appropriate gear being, perhaps, my only illness.

Well, one of them, anyway and, as is often the case with me; I digress.

Where was I? Right, bemoaning the lack of holiday-appropriate weather.

So, tonight Petticoat Junction is hosting its’ annual Parade of Lights, an event that usually adds to my enjoyment of the season. This year, I am so not feeling the Christmas Spirit at all and I’m not convinced that standing on Main Street in a hoodie while watching festively decorated floats (trucks pulling trailers adorned with a single strand of lights and a few kids in reindeer antlers) will do much to increase that spirit in me.

Maybe tomorrow’s final assault on the mall will help but, I’m not counting on it; at this point I would almost welcome a visit by three spirits sometime during the night. Maybe they could flip my Spirit Switch.

Or, it could snow a little** and all would be right with my world.

**And, by a little, you know I mean in huge amounts but, only on the sides of the road so as to not cause my family members undue stress in reaching my house next week. Now really, is that so much to ask for?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 11, The Demented Have No Business Decorating Cookies

Last night’s cookie-decorating extravaganza went smashingly well; the project took two hours, a double recipe of frosting, a viewing of the entire DVD of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and the patience of a host of heavenly angels. We worked side-by side as a family but, in the end, it was our individual decorating styles that resulted in the most eclectic collection of cookies produced in our kitchen to date.

For instance, I toiled over each cookie, attempting a work of art with each new design. The Teenager, on the other hand, decorated her cookies in an assembly-line fashion, finishing in record time, with near-identical results.

The Man-Cub created the most, um…unique cookies which actually comes as no surprise given his penchant for using as many edible decorative items as possible per cookie and, you know, the fact that he is color blind.

Hugh’s cookies warrant a discussion all their own most notably for the fact that he crafted such interesting items as:

-A group of three snowmen upon which something had peed, seriously; yellow spots in the otherwise pure white snow. Oh, and one of them was wearing a fig leaf over his private parts. For the record? I didn’t know snowmen had private parts, either.

-The Liberty Bell. No cheesy silver Christmas bells for him; history is alive and well as residing in our cookie tin.

-Officer Santa Claus, otherwise known as Santa in a policeman’s uniform, complete with silver badge and holstered gun which, will come in handy should the elves become unruly and stage a coup of Santa's workshop.

-A red and green striped reindeer.

In the end, we had a good time and, I can check one more chore off my holiday To Do list. Two items, actually, since we will be using many of the cookies to fill gift baskets for friends and neighbors.

With the obvious exception of the peed-on snowmen. I mean, really.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 12, Holy Crap, Where Is This Month Going?

Twelve days until Christmas and I have yet to finish anything that I have started; not my baking, not my shopping, not my endless nagging about how quickly Christmas is coming…

Nor have I watched one single holiday classic, I keep missing them on the regular television schedule and have been too lazy busy to pop a DVD into the player, all of which changes this evening; Hugh, the children and I are going to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation while decorating the mess of cookies that I baked this weekend. This is a traditional event for us and, while it is occurring a bit later than normal, we are all looking forward to it and, by all, I mean the Man-Cub and myself; The Teenager has been rolling her eyes and whining about the prospect of doing it since I informed her of the plan yesterday and I wouldn’t exactly call Hugh’s sarcastic “great, sooo looking forward to that” to be a ringing endorsement of the plan, either.

Still, we shall soldier on.

Speaking of soldiers…

Threats of “cracking your nuts with one of these guys” may prove effective on one out of two of the cookie decorating naysayers.

Let us hope it doesn’t come to that.

Friday, December 10, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 16, Miracle at the Hellmouth

I went to the Hellmouth today to do yet more Christmas shopping. Once I turned into the parking lot from the highway, I made my customary right turn and headed for the third row from the end of the building to park in my usual spot.

What? Like you don’t practice a parking ritual every time you go to your local Hellmouth. Puh-leeze!

Today, however, as I was driving down the row I was suddenly headed right into a compact car that was clearly headed in the WRONG direction and, let me tell you, those rows? They are narrow.

Have I mentioned how much I hate the Hellmouth? Have I mentioned that EVERY FLIPPING TIME that I go to the Hellmouth I am confronted with apathy, stupidity or both? And here it was, in the parking lot, before I had even crossed the threshold into the bowels of hell, stupidity at its finest.

My immediate reaction was to swear under my breath (or, you know, OUTLOUD). Next I mentally weighed my options for the moment when our cars squeaked by each other.

I could:

a. Flip the bird.

b. Paste a scowl on my face and let my expression do the talking.

c. Shake my head at the driver as one would an errant child.

As I was weighing the options, however, the woman behind the wheel did a most precious thing; she raised her hands up, shrugged her shoulders and made the “I’m loco” motion where-in you point your index finger at your temple and rotate it in small circles while simultaneously cocking your head to one side as your tongue lolls out of the corner of your mouth. Then she smiled the most radiant smile that I think I have ever seen and not only did I forgive her completely but I think I fell a little bit in love.

Right there in the parking lot of the Hellmouth, a Christmas Miracle!

Who woulda thunk it?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 17, All Is Well That Ends With Pizzelles

I replaced my pizzelle iron this morning with a newer make of the same model; two bucks says I find my missing iron five minutes after I am finished breaking in the new one....


It is now several hours and six dozen pizzelles later and still no sign of the missing pizzelle iron. I have no idea what could have happened to it and I cannot dredge up the energy to be concerned about it any longer.

Besides, I haz pizzelles.

And, if the missing iron should make a surprise reappearance in my life, I will be able to make twice as many pizzelles in the same amount of time next year. Glass half full, yada, yada.

On a completely different topic, save for the fact that he also likes pizzelles; Hugh is traveling to Nebraska tomorrow to officiate his first ever college wrestling tournament. He’s really, really excited. And, nervous but, I keep reminding him that he will do great, and, on the off-chance that he royally screws the pooch; he will have an eleven-hour drive home during which time he can ruminate over whatever mistakes he made, allowing him to get over it before he arrives on our doorstep.

Also, I will have pizzelles with which to soothe his wounded pride.

Say it with me people, glass half full, yada, yada.

As an aside, how many times can I use the word pizzelles in one blog post? How many lights are on this strand?

I’d say it’s about even.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 18, All Otis Wants for Christmas Are His Two…I’m not Even Going to Finish That Sentence

Otis the Hardware Store Cat went to the vet today for his neutering; he is now officially two nuts short of a Sundae and, to say that he is unimpressed with this recent state of events would be a vast understatement.

He may forgive us, eventually but; the jury is still out.

Speaking of juries, guess who got a summons to appear for jury duty? I’m not worried about having to actually serve; announcing that I am married to a cop and that all defendants are guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty! generally guarantees me exclusion. Not that I’ve actually tried it but, I‘m confident that it will work out that way.

Hey, you know what is pissing me off, today?

Segue train just jumped the tracks on that transition, no? Yes.

Anyway, I’m very irritated because I cannot find my pizzelle iron. I only use it once a year and, the rest of the year it lives under the counter with the rest of the appliances that don’t see daily use yet, now it is gone. I have no idea what could have happened to it and I have looked everywhere for it on the off-chance that Hugh took his life in his hands at some point and moved it. No luck.

This could seriously undermine my ability to do good hair. No, wait, that’s from Steele Magnolias, what I mean is; this could seriously undermine my ability to finish my holiday baking which will undermine my ability to pull off another fabulous Christmas weekend.

I am almost as displeased as Otis. Because everyone knows that having one’s reproductive organs unwillingly removed from their body is exactly the same kind of horrible as not being able to bake delicate waffle-like cookies.

Exactly the same.

                                                   Otis would beg to disagree.

Monday, December 06, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 20, Four Down and Four Meeeelion to Go

I’m talking cookies, of course. This weekend, despite being ridiculously busy with a host of activities (more to come on that), I managed to bake four different varieties of holiday treats. I baked chocolate chippers, drop sugar cookies, my mother’s oatmeal raisin cookies (known affectionately in these parts as Son-in-Law cookies due to Hugh and my brother-in-law’s love for them) and, chewy gingerbread cookies. I baked those particular varieties because they are the least time-consuming of my cookie inventory because, as I said, cah-razee biz-ay over here.


Saturday the Man-Cub and I rang bells for The Salvation Army for two hours in front of one of the local super markets. This is an activity we participate in almost every year and, like every other year; my heart warmed at the generosity shown by the people we encountered. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Man-Cub wore his “dancing hat”, the one that plays Jingle Bells and waves around to the beat while perched on his adorable little head. Old ladies appear to love little boys in dancing hats; little boys who aren’t afraid to shake their booty in front of a grocery store for the entire world to see. I enjoyed it, too.

While we were ringing bells, The Teenager was at home, glued to her cell phone, waiting for word from Denver, where our Pirate football team was playing in the state championship. When she texted us to say that the team had won, we gave a little cheer and shook the bells harder. For the record, this is the team’s second state title in three years, not too shabby for a small school.

After bell ringing, I took the kids to see our community theater’s production of The Best Christmas Pageant, Ever. It was performed by the children’s theater group, comprised of local kids and they did a fabulous job. They may have actually salvaged any hope of The Teenager enjoying theater since she declared the play “Waaayy better than that thing you took me to see the last time”. So, yes, there is hope.

After the play we went out for dinner and then home where we baked the first two varieties of cookies of the holiday season. We also managed to successfully defend them from a raid by Hugh when he got home from officiating at a wrestling tournament in another town although, a new hiding place will have to be located if we are to have any cookies left for Santa come December 24th.

Sunday was spent preparing for the charter banquet for our new ASTRA club, which is the junior arm of the woman’s service club to which I belong and the club that I have spent so much time working with the last few months.

The banquet was held at our community center and we catered it ourselves, we being the women from my service club. With half of our membership, including three of our officers, in Denver at the state football championships, we weren’t sure how many people to expect but, happily, the team made it home early in the day and we ended up with all but three of our 23 members and were missing only one officer.

The banquet went really well and, despite stressing over how many parents to expect (Mini rant: Why in the name of good manners do people not RSVP to formal invitations that clearly ask for RSVPs? Why? Why, Dear Abby, why???? End mini rant), we had plenty of food, lots of support from the kid’s families and a really lovely event.

After which I came home, baked two more varieties of cookies, chased Hugh out of the kitchen approximately fourteen times and fell into bed, exhausted and with aching feet.

Tonight, round three of cookies baking, with plans for two more varieties; pizzelles and spritz cookies because, as The Teenager says, you can never have too many Christmas cookies.

Also, cookies are yummm-ay!

Friday, December 03, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 23, The Traditions Live On

I came by my love of all things Christmas quite naturally, at the feet of my mother who also did the holidays in a big way. Every year, she baked too many treats to count, some more popular (Popcorn balls, how we love thee!) than others (does the world really need another fruitcake, mother?) but the important thing was; she made them every year. Without fail. Every year.

I’m a big fan of tradition thanks to my mother.

And, as I said, a big fan of Christmas. How could I not be? This was the outfit my mother dressed me in for my first ever holiday…

As an aside, doesn’t my mom rock the beehive? And, doesn’t my older sister look happy to have a baby sister to dote upon? Yeah, she got over that fairly quickly; in fact, I think the reason she looked so happy in this photograph…

…was that she was under the mistaken impression that I could be returned to the store from whence I came if only mother had saved the receipt. She did, right? She saved that receipt? Tell me you saved that receipt!

Its ok, eventually she warmed up.

Aside from baking delicious treats, my mother also made it a tradition to take us all to see Santa, Christmas wish-lists clutched in our chubby little hands.

Apparently, I should have asked for a tissue that year.

Of course, we had a Christmas tree every year; ours was fake due to my younger sister’s allergy to the real thing. Each year, my dad wrestled the tree down from the attic and engaged in a battle of the wills, Man vs. Tree; spouting his own bastardized version of curse words so as to protect our delicate ears from the real thing (sappo-mother was a huge favorite and, one I use myself these days. Try it! It’s fun!) until my mother gently requested that he run to the store to pick up some item she was in sudden dire need of at which point she would successfully assemble the tree, herself.

He said sappo-mother! Ha, ha, ha, ha!

And, on Christmas morning, she would pose my sisters and me with our holiday loot for a photograph to commemorate the day. I did that with my own kids up until just a few years ago.

In fact, I do a lot of the same things with my kids that my parents did with us because, as I’ve said, I am a sucker for tradition.

Indeed, last week, when Hugh was putting up our Christmas tree and Part A slipped out of Part B, and Hugh dropped an F bomb (and, Part B); I got a little misty because; he totally meant to say “You sappo-mother!” I just know it.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 24, Christmas Carols Are the Worst Brain Worm EVER

Last Friday I asked Hugh to switch the satellite station at the store from easy listening to holiday music, figuring that shoppers like to hear carols while sorting through holiday merchandise, except, of course, for when the carols are being piped through the store and the holiday merchandise consists of jack-o-lanterns and Power Ranger costumes, Hellmouth, I’m looking at you and, as usual, I digress…

…anyhoo, Hugh changed the station and the onslaught of carols began at the store. One song, in particular, has caused me many minutes of emotional turmoil because, the first fifty times that I heard it, I swore the lyrics contained the phrase, “It’s Christmas, time to lick the donkey” and I was like Dubbya. Tee. Eff? Lick the donkey? Is this some strange pagan ritual of which I am completely unaware?

And, no…on the fifty-first playing of the song, I actually went to the office to view the station monitor which is when I learned that the title of the song is Dominick, the Italian Christmas Donkey and, a quick search on Google provided the actual lyrics of the song which include no mention whatsoever of licking the donkey. Here is a small sample, just in case you have never heard the song and totally think I am making this shit up.

Hey! Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
It's Dominick the donkey.
Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
The Italian Christmas donkey.
(la la la-la la-la la la la la)
(la la la-la la-la la-ee-oh-da)
Santa's got a little friend,
His name is Dominick.
The cutest little donkey,
You never see him kick.
When Santa visits his paisons,
With Dominick he'll be.
Because the reindeer cannot,
Climb the hills of Italy.

And, yes, the hee-haw, hee-haw sounds pretty much like one would expect to hear issuing forth from a donkey.

So, no licking; mystery solved. You know, other than the part where I have to ask myself what the hell a donkey has to do with Christmas.

Maybe the Italians know.

                                                                Hey, paisons! It's time to lick the donkey!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 25, the Countdown Begins

Soooo, yeah…December 1st and I have accomplished almost nothing on my Holiday To Do list. Usually, by this time, I have mailed all of my out-of-town presents, ordered my Christmas cards, started baking and decorated the house. What have I done so far this year? Decorated the house. To say that I feel a bit overwhelmed and behind already this holiday season would be an understatement.

Granted, I will have my cards ordered by this evening (just received the Get ‘Em FREE code from Shutterfly!) and, I have my out-of town presents purchased, I just have to wrap them and package them for shipping which, really, shouldn’t take more than an hour.

And, I could start baking this evening as well, you know, after I take the Man-Cub to tutoring and to basketball practice. Oh! And, after Hugh and I attend the High School’s wrestling team’s annual fundraising banquet. And, of course, after I wrap those gifts and order those cards.

But, why rush, right? I still have 24 days.

Commence hyperventilating into a paper sack in….three, two, one…