Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Day in Pictures

Ten of us round the table; another delicious turkey (roasted after rubbing real butter and fresh chopped herbs under its skin) and a surprise dessert delivered by my new boss!

The "kids" interacting after dinner ..... before they were commandeered for dish duty!
Dear friends and wonderful family:  Canada, Czech Republic, Ireland, Korea and Japan are represented in these pictures.

My merry Children reunited for Christmas.

After dinner has been eaten, dishes have been cleared, goodbyes have been said to friends, this is how we usually spend our Xmas night:
My winning hand at Skip-Bo, duck lips, chocolate, wine, pop, cookies and fun and laughter.

This was the best Christmas I've ever had.  And although the day is past, the season hasn't.  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

May all the blessings of Christmas come your way and the love and the grace of God be felt in your life.

See you next year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All I Want For Christmas Are You!

Perhaps a lot of you have seen this video of Jimmy Fallon, Mariah Carey and The Roots singing and playing "All I Want for Christmas".  It's one of my favorites, so I wanted to share it with you. The joy, fun and happiness in everyone else is evident and, of course, Mariah's voice is amazing.

I'm excited that everyone's going to be home this year.  So, I sing along with Mariah as she sings.  (However, my trying to hit the high notes can be extremely  embarassing.  I recently "tooted" in front of my Asian daughters during one of my renditions!  They are very forgiving, but I shall not sing soprano in public anymore!)  

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am in anticipation of this family Xmas; I'm like the Scrooge character played in the old Alister Sim version of A Christmas Carol:  dancing around the house, laughting and singing and realizing "I don't deserve to be so happy".  

But deserving or not, I shall suck up all the joy that this season can bring.  I resolve to breathe deeply and not stress and take whatever comes in stride and to really ENJOY my girls.  

Cause all I want for Christmas is them!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thank you! Merry Christmas! OBSERVATIONS

I'm a strong believer in and supporter of The Salvation Army.  They do what few other churches would attempt to do and truly act out "Jesus" in providing for those in need.  I don't have a lot of money to give; so at Christmas, I like to volunteer once a week on the kettles.  (We aren't allowed to sing or ring a bell to draw attention to ourselves now-a-days.  So I always dress low key -- bright red and green with Santa hat and/or antlers -- and sit quietly -- hum Xmas caroles and wear my Xmas sleigh bells on my wrist -- and observe those around me.)  

And if people do put something in the kettle, I always smile and say "Thank you.  Merry Christmas".  I'm shocked by the people who are genuinely surprised and gladdened by those few words.

Besides observing those around me, I gain insight into my own self -- the good, the bad and the ugly!  Last night was my last kettle sitting evening of the season and the best observation evening yet.  Here's some of what I observed.

  • There are more pyjama-clad shoppers out there than I care to see.  I mean really!  Who said it was okay to wear pyjamas outside the home?

  • People buy a LOT of soda pop at Christmas!  I mean a LOTTTTT!

  • I was impressed by the 30 something woman who was out in minus 4 celsius weather in her jogging shorts; but all the better to see those gorgeous toned 'n' tanned legs of hers.  Man, she had great legs!  (As she walked away, I evilly smiled to myself when I saw her celluite.  Okay, okay!  Not one of my prouder moments!)

  • Gorgeous, hunky men seldom look my way.  I guess they're too busy staring at toned 'n' tanned legs in jogging shorts to notice the pudgy woman in Santa hat and sensible shoes.  But I'm not so old that I can't appreciate their beauty and remember my own beautiful youth & the handsome men who courted me ..... all 3 of them!!! (Well, there may have been more, but perhaps not all of them were that handsome!)
  • I kept noticing this one young woman in the lotions and shampoo aisle; she spent about 20 minutes there -- strolling slowly back and forth in the aisle, opening bottles & smelling, reading the back.  My own 20 year old does that.  But it's been a long, long, long time since I spent 20 minutes looking at lotions and shampoos. Ya know?  I'm gonna spend more time in the cosmetics aisle from now on!  I'm gonna sniff more! 
  • I love seeing the happy couples -- young couples, new parents,  seniors.  They hold hands, they share in the bagging of the groceries at the self-check out; they wait for one another (some will sit beside me and chat about "I wonder where she's got to?"); and then they smile at one another when they meet up again.  It doesn't matter that I'm divorced and don't have a mate, I love seeing happy couples.  

But my favorite observations are always the children.  They're usually the ones to tug at Mom or Dad's sleeve to let them put some money in the kettle.  
  • One young man who was about 12 years old put money in the kettle on the way in.  I smiled and said "Thank you.  Merry Christmas" and he just beamed!  "Mom!  She said Merry Christmas!"  He was so impressed by those words that he put money in again on his way out.  Now I'm a mother of girls; and most of the 12-14 yr old boys I've been around are usually loud, obnoxious & quite annoying.  It's lovely to be reminded that they also have a sweet, soft side to them and a privilege to be on the receiving end of that.  

  • My favorite of the night:  A young family were at the self-checkout.  The little 5-6 yr old boy put some change in the kettle, I said my usual, and he went back to Mom telling her that I'd wished him a Merry Christmas.  Then while his parents finished the groceries, he stood across the aisle from me and entertained me.  First he smiled.  Then he used his mittens to smack himself in the face, making me laugh.  Then he began to hop as he smacked.  Then he started to do a silly dance and wag his head back and forth.  Then he began to sing, dance, wag his head and occasionally smack himself with his mitttens.  I'd laugh, he'd laugh.  What a little clown he was; and what a great ending to my night.

Have you been observing lately?  It's a most educational tool!

Monday, December 10, 2012


My littlest bambino came home from university last night, and I was at the airport to greet her "with bells on". She came home to a fully decorated home, or as she not-so-sweetly puts it "Ahhhh!  Christmas threw up all over our house again this year, Mom"!  But she loves it.

And she came home to a spic & span, totally cleansed house.  Not only did I "wrap up" the Xmas wrapping (because Santa's workshop was set up in the rec room ..... which happens to be where she'll sleep for the next 3 weeks), but I worked hard all weekend to cross all my cleaning chores off the list.  All shelves were washed down, usual knick-knacks put away & Xmas set out; bathroom the same; the crystal, etc in the dining room the same; kitchen & pantry cupboards inventoried and cleaned; linen closet tidied & re-arranged; and all ducks put in a row.  I wanted it all done before she got here.

At 10 pm Saturday evening as I was wiping down bulkheads and light fixtures, I said to myself :  "It's late; go put your feet up for the rest of the night and you can finish this next weekend.  Why is it so important to get it done before Libby comes home?"
So, I took a glass-o-wine break and I thought about it.

I thought -- yes, Christmas is a great excuse to give the house a good going over; but it's more than just that.

I remembered how as a young adult, while I was just learning to live on my own and balance my bank account, how much I loved going home for Christmas.  I remembered how reassuring & de-stressing it was to walk back into "normal" -- a home that was decorated and clean, where there was food in the fridge and toilet paper on the roll, where there'd be laughter (and the occasional squabble) and all the things I loved.  I especially  remembered one time when only my Dad picked me up at the airport; and on the drive home he said what my Mom could never say.  "Sandra, your Mom is so excited to have you home.  She's been cleaning for days and has baked all your favorite things."

Wow!  How special that made me feel.  

And I thought, I want my girls to have that "normal".  I want them to know that when they come home they have "a soft place to land".  The house will be all prepped and ready for our favorite holiday, with their favorite foods, and lots and lots of time to spend together.   I want them to feel loved and cherished.

I want them to know that they're sooooo special to me, that I'd treat them like I was expecting the very very best, really really super important company.  

The only difference will be that they have to do the dishes!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Time is Comin'

I've missed sharing with you lately.  Life has been a flurry of Xmas dinners, lunches & teas; craft shows, parades & concerts; letter writing, card addressing, gift wrapping & parcel sending.  And although it's certainly not stopped, I'm finding some time to breathe and enjoy this beautiful season.

Last weekend, we did one of my favorite things and got the Xmas tree.  We didn't trek through the woods; we drove around the corner and bought the 1st one we liked.  And I did what I always do on tree day:  played Xmas music, had hot chocolate and ...... cut too many branches off the bottom of the tree!  
Natsumi was so excited!  She's only ever had a table top tree in Japan; so she was thrilled at the prospect of a 5.5 ft tree.  She thought that carrying it home in the trunk was hilarious.

Then we brought up the boxes and decorated the house.  (The tree will be finished tonight.)

One of my favorite Xmas spots is always the collection of miniatures on my top-o-the-stairs bookshelf.  Each year, something is added to it.  This year, it's the "triangular shaped" Santas shown 2nd from the left on the bottom. 

I've been keeping up with your blogs and enjoying your decorating, travels, food, etc. -- even if I haven't commented and you've no proof that I've been to visit.  I've been there ... in the shadows ... smiling .... and yawning.


  Sorry! I thought I could return to a normal schedule. But my sense of 'normal' has changed. After the past 5 years of various ailm...