Christmas Traditions

Just about everyone I know has holiday traditions, especially around Christmas. In our family, we put up the Christmas tree and hung as many ornaments as we could on it. The last part was putting the star on the very top of the tree. As my dad was the tallest, he was the one to put it up. Mom decorated the living room and dining room; she always made it all look so beautiful.

Mom made delicious Christmas breads, and when they were done we walked through our neighborhood and gave them to our neighbors. Of course we kept one or two for ourselves, which we enjoyed with steaming cups of coffee.

When Christmas Eve came around, we drove to my grandparents house and had seafood chowder, Mom’s homemade parker house rolls, pickles, olives and celery stuffed with cheese spread. There was always my grandmother’s fabulous desserts, too.

Once dinner was over and the grownups enjoyed coffee and chatter. I went to the living room where the Christmas tree was filled with beautiful ornaments. Under the tree were beautifully wrapped with gold and silver paper. Of course, I always snooped to see how many gifts had my name on it.

Sometimes I would bring one of my stuffed animals who had a rip or tear. I would place them on one of the chairs, and in the morning, they all looked good as new. My grandmother of course sewed them up, but I always thought Mrs. Santa did.

I always stayed over night on Christmas Eve. When it was time to go to bed, my grandmother would give me a plate of her homemake cookies to take upstairs. I always brought a book to read as well.

When the cookies were eaten and I had read as much of my book as I wanted to, I would open the window just a crack to smell the piney air. I turned off the light, and settled in to go to sleep. As I drifted off, I could swear that I heard Santa’s ho-ho-ho and the jingle of the bells on his sleigh.

No matter how things are these days, let’s not forget our family traditions. They make us happy, and we lovingly remember all those lovely Christmases past.

Putting Up the Christmas Tree

Yesterday the Crankee Yankee and I put up our little Christmas tree. It was my parents’ tree, and most of the ornaments on it were placed by my mother; which makes this Christmas tree very special indeed. Most of the colored lights still work, and it is now in our bay window. Of course, that’s just one of the places one or two of our cats like to sleep there. But there’s room enough for them and the tree.

I remember my grandparents’ christmas tree well. My grandfather would cut down a smallish tree and place it in the living room. After that, my grandmother took over and decorated it. Later on, all the presents were nestled under the tree branches, and the smell of pine filled the air.

When I was about seven years old, my dad and I slogged through the snow to cut down our own Christmas tree. When we found the perfect tree, Dad would cut it down, and he and I would drag it out of the woods. As we walked, we sang Christmas songs; that was always my favorite part of the whole thing.

So now that we have our own little tree up, filled with ornaments and lit with colored lights, it feels very Christmasy. Funny how a Christmas tree can make us remember our childhood and how Christmas was when we when we were kids.

Even during these trying times, we can still celebrate Christmas, hopefully with love and joy.

Christmas is How You Make It

Well, most of us went through Thanksgiving by ourselves this year, thanks to the pandemic. Of course, this won’t be forever, but it does take some of the fun out of the holidays. This year we will stay home for Christmas instead of going up to Maine to be with the grandgirls. These days, sadly, it’s safety first. Hopefully we will see the end of  this pandemic sooner than later.

There are Christmas people and non-Christmas people; I am a huge lover of Christmas and all that goes with it. When December rolls around, I can’t wait to do all those  Christmasy things and put up our little Christmas tree in the living room window.

It originally was Mom’s and Dad’s tree; a little artificial one with the ornaments still on it. I love it because it was Mom’s and Dad’s, and each Christmas when we put it up, I smile thinking of them. It’s just big enough to grace our window, and high enough so that the cats can sleep under it. I still have more ornaments, which I cram onto the little tree; each one is a remembrance of Christmases past.

While the Crankee Yankee is sort of Grinchy each Christmas, I can always get him on the Christmasy side sooner or later. Like anything else, you can make your own fun if you decide to. And then there is the Christmas seafood chowder I make every Christmas; it’s what my grandmother started years ago. Making it always makes me smile thinking of her.

I remember so many Christmases past. All my family is gone, as well as most of my relatives and some of my friends. It makes me feel a bit odd sometimes; sort of like the last monkey in the zoo. But it still doesn’t stop me from enjoying Christmas and all that goes with it. By the way; I always say “Merry Christmas,” not “happy holidays.”

I am well aware that there are so many people out of work, people who have lost their businesses and so on. I wish them all the best and hope that all of us can come out of this as soon as possible. We have not seen the like of this since polio was the pandemic.

But I believe in making the most of Christmas, no matter what. I love the holiday and I  don’t think I will ever change. Although we are living in some tough times, we can still enjoy the holiday and what it truly means.

When We REALLY Know It’s Winter

Well, we now have snow and ice, as well as very cold and windy weather. There is hardened snow on the ground, which is very easy to slip on, and there is ice on our driveway and on the car windows.

None of this is surprising; it is winter after all. Funny how all that ice and snow has turned from being fun when we were kids; now we are worried about slipping on the ice and breaking a hip.

These days when I go out to feed the outdoories (the stray cats), I really have to watch my steps. How did I ever get this old that the threat of falling makes me nervous? Have I really become that kind of old person who is fearful of ice and snow? Time marches on, and I shuffle along with it.

But then there is the cozy side of winter; hot soups, hot chocolate, good TV shows and great books to read. I don’t have to work anymore; I can do whatever I please. I now understand my grandmother better these days; she loved sewing and did it well. She adored feeding the birds; she felt it was her duty to keep them fed during the winter, and so she did.

Even though most of us are stuck at home and all of us are nervous about the virus, we can still find some fun here and there. There are books to be read, TV shows to enjoy, we can google up the Carol Burnett shows (and if you do, check out the famous “dental sketch”.

But if you do, pee first—it’s that funny.





Trying to Look on the Bright Side of Life

These are strange times these days; we are living in the pandemic and are trying to stay as safe as we can. We now wear masks on a daily basis, and we only go out to buy food and whatever else we need. The world as we knew it has changed dramatically, and we are all trying to get through it as best we can.

As scary as this is, we could all use a little brightness and laughter in our lives. I don’t know about you, but what cheers me up and also makes me laugh my head off is *Monty Python. If you have never seen a Monty Python movie, please do it. They are hilarious. Oh yes; remember to pee first before you watch; it’s that funny.

*History is turned on its comic head when, in tenth-century England, King Arthur travels the countryside to find knights who will join him at the Round Table in Camelot. Gathering up the men is a tale in itself but after a bit of a party at Camelot, many decide to leave only to be stopped by God, who sends them on a quest: to find the Holy Grail. After a series of individual adventures, the knights are reunited but must face a wizard named Tim the Enchanter, killer rabbits and lessons in the use of holy hand grenades. Their quest comes to an end however when the Police intervene – just what you would expect in a Monty Python movie. 

Monty Python (also collectively known as the Pythons) were a British surreal comedy troupe who created the sketch comedy television show Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which first aired on the BBC in 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four series.

Years active‎: ‎1969–1983, 1989, 1998–1999, 2…
Nationality‎: ‎British
Genres‎: ‎Satire‎; ‎surreal humour‎; ‎black comedy‎; …
Members‎: ‎Graham Chapman‎ (deceased); ‎John …

Holy Grail

Spamalot – Castle Stalker – Black Knight – Doune Castle – Patsy

Graham Chapman

Graham Chapman (8 January 1941 – 4 October 1989) was an …

Eric Idle

Eric Idle (born 29 March 1943) is an English actor, comedian …

Terry Gilliam

The Zero Theorem – Tideland – Time Bandits – Jabberwocky

Terry Jones

Terence Graham Parry Jones (1 February 1942 – 21 January …

Michael Palin

Shrewsbury School – Birkdale School – Travel documentary – 

Poems for Winter

I have always been a big fan of Robert Frost; the following is my favorite winter poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”:

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Time For All Those Wintery Things

Since we recently had a pretty good snow fall, it’s time to do all those wintery things; scraping the icy snow off the vehicles, making paths in the snow (which wasn’t really all that deep), and so on. These days we don’t go outside without a hat and mittens, and of course, boots and heavy socks.

Even all the things I do for the outdoorsies are part of it, too. When I know that it will be a really cold night, I go into our garage (where there are two “houses” filled with blankets for the stray cats) and put “hot hands” (you know; those hand warmers you can buy most anywhere) under their blankets to keep them warm for hours. I like to think that the strays have a place to go to keep warm and safe. We also put food and water there as well.

Now when we go outside, we wear hats, mittens, coats and boots. We bundle up like a pig going to war as my mother used to say when we had to go out in freezing weather. Once we come inside, we hurry to the stove to make hot chocolate or to the coffee maker to enjoy a steaming cup of coffee.

Yep, it’s truly winter now.

Snow, Snow, Snow!

We just got our first real snow last night; enough to cover the ground and the vehicles. It immediately made me remember Christmases past, and how I used to love the snow falling down on Christmas Eve. Back then as a child, I felt that I could almost hear Santa’s sleigh bells before I went to sleep.

All that said, we woke up this morning with hard-packed snow everywhere.  Both of our vehicles are covered in icy snow; guess we will let the sun take care of that for now. As we live in New England, you can pretty much count on ice-covered vehicles, and slippery steps.

Funny, isn’t it; when we are kids, we love the snow. We play in it, we make forts with it, we have snowball fights; it’s a kid’s wonderland. But since we are all grown up, snow and ice means scraping it all off our vehicles, shoveling paths and so on. When I lived in Texas, we hardly ever got snow. When we did, everyone stopped what they were doing and enjoyed it. Instead of snow, we usually got icy hail instead.

But seeing that we are closing on to Christmas, the snow is rather welcome. Besides, what’s Christmas time without snow?


Remembering What Really Matters

As we all know, these are trying times. The pandemic has changed us forever; life as we know it has changed radically. Who would have thought that we all would be wearing masks most of the time! We have had to sacrifice many things during this time, and that’s no fun.

However, as with all things, this too will pass. In the meantime, we can cherish our families, friends and pets. We can still call our friends on the phone or via face time on the computer. Perhaps this is a time when we will do different things than we used to; we can pick up a new hobby, we can play games (dust off that Scrabble game!); it’s fun and a great way to take our minds off the pandemic.

Remember when we were kids and a thunderstorm knocked out the lights? What we did then was to 1) sit on the porch and watch the rain come down, 2) we played games, 3) we ate ice cream, and most of all, we talked.

Perhaps during this time, we will find more things to say to each other. We may find that we now have the time to express our love and affection. We may take up a hobby and find that we absolutely love it. We may take this time to appreciate each other more now that most of the “busy” stuff isn’t a big deal for the time being.

What really matters is that we are all together in this. Rich or poor, we are all being hit by the pandemic. While we are doing our level best to get through this time, let’s remember what really does matter.

Putting Ourselves in Another’s Shoes

It’s taken me many years to realize that 1) you don’t always get what you want, 2) things won’t always go your way, and most of all, 3) cussing and shouting and whining get you nowhere. And how do I know these three things? It’s because I have been an ass many times in my life, and trust me; getting angry about things seldom gets you what you want.

The older I get, the more I understand people better. And knowing that, I also know myself better. When we realize that other people have problems and are hurting, and when we have been there ourselves, we can become better versions of ourselves. In my own lifetime so far, I have been a annoying know-it-all, a “do as I say” not as I do person; it took me years to stop being that person. To this day, I still have faults, but each day I try to be better.

When I finally learned to put myself in an other person’s shoes, it changed everything. Example: I had a friend in Texas who was an absolute rock-star; she was smart, funny, and whatever job she took, she made it above and beyond what was expected. When I finally got to know her better, she told me about her life growing up being hurt and abused. As she was always a sunny, happy and often quite funny person, it was hard to believe that she survived. She became a real example to me about rising above your circumstances.

There are many people who cover up their fears and worries and still go on with their day, hoping for the best. We may never know that the other person is hurting inside, or has had a terrible growing up, and so on. But when we do get to know them better and try to put ourselves in their shoes, it changes everything.