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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Simple Clean-up

Our Christmas tree was one step up from last year’s which was actually the ficus tree in the living room.  Both had lights.  Neither had ornaments.  What was easy to go up, was also easy to take down.  What surprised me was that no one — not even the grandchildren — said, “Why are there no ornaments on the tree?”  It was beautiful with just lights and a star on top.  SImple.

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A Little Bit of Christmas

With the Christmas season half over and the new year almost here, I am pondering how life moves along.  Our Christmas was quiet, our decorations subdued and the food rather basic.  Christmas Day church was even rather quiet.  When the Feast of the Epiphany is over, we’ll take down the lights from the tree and the mantle and put away the Nativity Scenes and the few Father Christmas’ we put out.  This year I decided not to bake, the first time in 48 years.  I bought several types of cookies and fruitcake from Publix.  Bruce baked a delicious ham and I made a big bowl of potato salad.  Sweet potatoes and the obligatory green beans and soft rolls were also part of the meals.  However, the big hit this year was Jello!  Yes, orange jello with mandarin oranges and lime jello with crushed pineapple.  The kids dove in, with the adults right behind.  I guess simple foods never go out of style.

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Epiphany

I note with interest the Nativity at our church.  When we first started attending there, their Nativity Scene was in sore need of updating.  It was evident with the mismatched figures, so obviously different or else why would a lamb be the same size as a person?  I was relieved a few years ago when they purchased a new set.  It was new, lovely — and the figures in  proportion to one another.

Because the Magi don’t show up until the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th, they are there on December 25th, but not nearby.  Holy Trinity handles it by putting the Magi on the far side of the church.

Last week they had made it midway across the church, by the altar.  In fact, they were hiding in amidst the poinsettias on the altar steps.  (They must have heard that Herod was in the neighborhood.)  So it was with interest that I noted their progress today.  There they were, outside the manger, adoring the Christ Child.  Their journey was complete.

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Simply Christmas

Because of health issues and a general apathy, we didn’t really decorate for Christmas this year.  Usually we put up a big tree in front of the sliding glass doors, a Nativity on the mantle, my large collection of Father Christmases.  It required rearranging the living room and a full day of work.

Not this year.

This year we opted for the barest and most simple design.  I decided to replace the $10 white plastic Nativity scene ordered from a catalog 45 years ago,  It was paired with a manger I found on sale at the drug store after Christmas one year.  I had to glue it back  together.  This year I received in the mail a catalog with a beautiful Nativity scene.  It had the Wise Men with their camels and gifts for the Christ Child, two Shepherds and an Angel.  The Holy Family and the Stable had their own donkey and cow.  It is lovely.  It’s on the mantle with white lights draped over them.

The “tree” is indeed a tree — our Ficus tree in the living is strung with 200 tiny white lights.  That and our Advent Wreath are the extent of the decorations.  Pretty simple.  Pretty and simple.

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I’m never sure when Christmas is really over.  Sure, according to the calendar, December 26th would do.  However, the tree and (scant) decorations this year are still up and generally stay that way in this house until the Feast of the Epiphany which is January 2nd this year.  So here we are.

Yesterday, it snowed.  Not a lot, but any snow in the South is significant since few people know how to drive in it.  Bruce is still wearing the big black boot on his injured leg.  No way could he risk slipping on the wet slick surfaces so we stayed home from church which is rare for us to miss.  It felt like a snow day on the midwest, except here we don’t shovel, we wait.  Mother Nature takes care of it in a day or so.  In Kansas and Nebraska I always worried about having enough food and supplies because sometimes being shut in could be as long as a week.  However, we had lots of food left over from Christmas.  We got ambitious this year and baked a ham and a turkey and a hamloaf.  Bruce also wanted potato salad rather than mashed potatoes.  We fixed squash casserole.   These all get easily reheated or served cold.  We were able to send the cookies home with Jim and Marilyn.

Now we have lots of leftovers so how long could we be eating these?  Until the snow melts?  Or perhaps until Christmas is really over.

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Infirm.  At our house, at least.

Last year I was hobbling around, waiting for my knee replacement surgery, then recovering from it.  This year Bruce is hobbling around on his crutches, waiting for the screws to be removed from his ligament repair.  Then he’ll hobble more as he recovers from that.

All this means that last and this year our Christmas preparations have been curtailed. We stuck to a lighted wreath on the front door.  Our tree has most of the usual ornaments with lots of lights.  The little white creche is on the fireplace mantle covered with lights and a garland.  I have the usual large red poinsettia that I buy each year. However, I left packed up the many Father Christmases that I’ve collected for years.  No lighted tree and reindeer in the lower yard.  Hope our neighbors don’t protest.  They were beautiful — adding a special touch to our entire street as they lit up the dark night.

The good news is that it will be much easier to pack up later.  Our sons got the boxes out of the loft in the shed when they were here for our Thanksgiving dinner.  Maybe they can come back in January to put them back?  But will I have to bake a turkey?  Maybe turkey subs will do, huh?

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New Year

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany which marks the end of the Christmas season for the Church. I leave the nativity scene up on the mantel until then. So down it comes tomorrow. Bruce even asked if I wanted to leave it up permanently. I thought about it for five seconds. It then wouldn’t be special, would it?

So – yesterday we got busy and took down the Christmas tree. Although I missed having a real tree, it sure is a lot easier to clean up and put away an artificial tree. We got very organized last year and bought big clear tubs with wheels for storing the decorations and my collection of Father Christmases. It makes putting up and taking down a breeze. We can see what the boxes contain and Bruce can easily roll them into place in the loft of the Yard Barn. At our house, and probably at yours too, we have to rearrange the living room to accommodate the tree.

Although I love the decorations for the Christmas season, I also relish the clean spare look we have after the the room is back to “normal” again. I guess that speaks to the mark of time by seasons. I think we all do it. Different items denote different parts of the year, don’t they? Now I have the Valentine’s Day wreath hanging on the front door. In a couple of months I’ll switch it for the spring wreath, then the summer one and the autumn one, before we’re back around to Christmas.

I even do it with table linens and dishes. I have old fashioned checked tablecloths and place mats that say “summer” to me. James was a baby when I made the place mats. I even recall ordering the material from Sears. Remember those days?? I’m always surprised that they’ve lasted this long. Bruce brought some things from his mom and dad’s house when he arrived with his “trousseau”. One was a set of oval crocheted place mats that resemble watermelons. Nothing says summer quite like those do. And I always lovingly think of Odelia when I put them out on the table. I wish I could crochet like that. Although my friend, Connie, taught me to crochet many years ago, I never got beyond a rectangular afghan — probably considered second grade in the school of crochet.

Another item is my tan stoneware that I drag out in the fall. I bought my set way back when I worked at Safeway and purchased the pieces week by week as the featured item of the week. I even got extra plates thinking that would be a piece I might drop and break. Amazingly, I’ve never broken a single piece in all these years. I even have the coffee server, which I’ve never used. Every time I want to use it, I think, wouldn’t the coffee stay hotter in the regular pot? I then put it back. I must stop doing that.

I’ve long stopped “saving things for good”. I look for times to use the “good” china and crystal and silver. They stay nicer when they are used and washed and rotated. I think they know. Wouldn’t you feel grand if you were a dish and placed on a pretty table and then lovingly washed and stored? Well — maybe that’s silly and far fetched; however, I do know we honor the women in our lives when we use their nice dinnerware. They were proud of their pretty things and we should, as custodians, feel the same. Besides that, all the dishes and crystal and silver stay nicer simply because they are used, and thus cleaned. Because I rotate the silver, I spend maybe one half hour once a year cleaning silver. We use the silverplate inherited from my step-grandmother, Hannah Washburn, almost daily. As I was putting some forks away yesterday, I had a flashback to a time at her table when I admired her King James pattern. It was a pattern I might have chosen for myself and obviously, I said so. Twenty years later I was surprised to learn she left me her silverplate, which I’ve added to in the intervening years. I still look for coordinating pieces in antique stores.  I think that would make Grandma Hannah happy. It was in Mother’s will that I was to inherit her own silver, as Emily will someday inherit it from me.

Now that I’ve discovered Replacements.com I no longer worry about finding replacement pieces if something gets broken or lost. There is an industry that takes care of that problem. I’ve even found a gentleman who knows how to polish out the little nicks on Bruce’s Aunt Dicey’s crystal stemware.

So — the year rolls on and I can be found looking through the drawer of tablecloths or in the china cupboard or the silver chest. I hope that some day one of my descendants will do the same. In fact, I’d be honored.

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