Saturday, December 29, 2012

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

It's strange to celebrate your first Christmas without your parents.  Though mom passed just before Christmas last year, I think we were all still in a great deal of shock and trying to keep things normal for dad, that it didn't really sink in.  This year, however, we all definitely felt the loss.

That's not to say we didn't have a nice Christmas - we definitely did.  It's just that it was different.

After talking about where to have which holiday, we decided that Thanksgiving would be at the LaChapelle's and Christmas would be at our house.  After all, this IS the Christmas house - the one in which we've celebrated every Christmas year for decades.

Traditions are wonderful - especially long celebrated holiday traditions, but sometimes it's nice to change things up just a bit.  We set up two Christmas trees this year - one in the livingroom, and one in the den.  Two totally different trees with different personalities and I loved them both!  In years past, we've always celebrated Christmas morning and gift opening in the livingroom; this year, we changed it to the den.  We lit the fireplace in there which hadn't been lit in at least 20 years.  It was very warm and cozy, and though we all dearly missed mom and dad, we had a wonderful time being together.

Gifts were fun and thoughtful.  Dinner, served buffet style, was both relaxed and delicious.  Chatting, looking through pictures of Christmases past, sharing memories of mom and dad.   It was a wonderful celebration.

All in all, I think we all made it through pretty well.  A touch of melancholy, yes, but overall, more joy than sadness.  Subsequent years will get easier I'm sure.  And it's such a comfort to know that we'll always feel the presence of mom and dad celebrating with us, even if it's only in spirit.

I hope you enjoyed every moment of the holidays with your family!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Tree Lane

Funny how there are just some things that escape your notice.  I grew up in this house and lived in this area for years before I moved out on my own.  Every single year I've driven down Christmas Tree Lane as one of the many Christmas traditions I enjoy.  I've even donated to the Christmas Tree Lane Association - the organization responsible for decorating the many deodara trees that line the street.  And I had no clue until just a few weeks ago that they have a huge ceremony before lighting the lane the first night.

Really?  How could that be?  Where on earth have I been?

Anyway.  I know now, and I'll not let it pass me by again.  It's just a small community celebration, but it's oh, so worth it!  We walked the short distance to the library - ground zero for the festivities.  It was the perfect temperature to be out enjoying a brisk December night; cool enough for scarves, but not so cool that we needed to bundle up.  After some Christmas carols and a few words from local dignitaries, we began the countdown to light the trees. Ten. Nine.....Three,Two,One: LIGHT UP THE TREES!!  

So cool!  We had a great time and we're already making plans for next year's tree lighting ceremony!   Starters and grog at the Weirs, dinner and aperitifs at the Finnermans.  See you all there!

It's the Cookie Bake, Jake!

It's that time again - time to get down and dirty and bake those cookies!

...which is exactly what we did on Saturday.  Bake.  Cookies.  Lots.  Allllll day.  Well okay, I confess -  we did take a break to go to a Christmas crafts boutique.  And get a bite of lunch, but that's it - I swear!  Other than that we baked cookies all day.

Twenty-nine dozen.  No, there's no significance to the number, that's just what we ended up with.  Now we have a few less than that (hey, who doesn't need cookies and milk before bedtime?!), but still a goodly amount.

Oatmeal macaroons.  Chocolate chip.  Molasses crinkles.  Cranberry biscotti.  Caribbean lime coolers.  Mmmmm.  YUMMY!  I still want to make a few sugar cookies, and maybe some maple pecan icebox cookies ... but we'll see how ambitious I am this weekend ;o)

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Birthdays with 0hs

Last week I celebrated a birthday.  One with an ohhhhhhhhhmanIcan'tbelieveI'mhavingabirthdaywithanO!

As a part of my gift, Kevin prepared a fabulous dinner for our family celebration:  roasted prime rib, homemade horseradish and steak sauces, twice baked potatoes chock-ful of sour cream and cheddar, and creamed spinach - all from scratch.  It was amazing!   The aromas mingled all afternoon until you could smell the delicious scent of garlic and spices all the way up the street.  He set and decorated the dining room table with gingko leaves and shimmery gold stars.  He even folded the napkins to look like birthday candles - how sweet is that?!

Debbie, Bill and the boys, and Vicky joined us for a wonderful dinner and birthday celebration.  It was so nice to have everyone here to help me celebrate my special day.  I missed mom and dad, but I know they were with us - I could feel their presence.  Deb made me a very special gift: a scrapbook filled with photos of when I was a child, and cards I'd given to mom and dad over the years.  She even found an essay/gift I'd written and given to dad on his 50th birthday.  Isn't it amazing that in all of the pictures and memorabilia we have to sort through she found that particular item?  It was wonderful.  I read it aloud and we all teared up.  Thank you, sis, for this special gift.  I will treasure it always.  Kevin's gift to me was amazing as well.  A beautiful gold heart studded with shimmery diamonds.  WOW.  It's just beautiful.

On Thursday, someone at work asked me how it felt to be old.  I told her I haven't the faintest idea.  'Good answer!' she said.

Good answer indeed.