You never know what you’re going see when hiking in the Cuyahoga Valley.
Beautiful rock formations,
felled trees gathering moss …
… or lichens.
You might even meet a small boy in a Santa hat going to his friend’s birthday party at the Octagon Shelter (built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression).
When I admired his attire, his mother prompted him to say thank you, which he did.
His next words, however, required no prompting.
“You can call me ‘Batman,'” he said.
When I answered that I’d be sure to do so, he then informed me he had a cousin called “Superman.”
I couldn’t help laughing as his mom rolled her eyes and mentioned what he really had was an imagination.
It had been a while since The Engineer and I took a winter hike, and today it felt good to be in the woods. We took the opportunity because I decided to have a day off from visiting Mom after having quite the Christmas celebration with her yesterday.
Since we won’t be around on the day, Darling Daughter and Partner, my Big Brother and Nephew, and The Engineer and I took pizza, pistachio panettone, and presents to party with Mom. (Sorry, I got caught up in all that alliteration and just couldn’t stop myself!)
We also took sheet pizzas, cookies and other goodies for the nursing home staff. They work so hard to make Mom’s life easier and more comfortable, and we thought they’d enjoy a little treat.
It was such a good day and felt great to see Mom enjoy herself (along with the rest of us).
Afterwards, Darling Daughter and Partner drove to our house for an evening of lasagna, gift exchanging, and Scrabble.
In recent years, we have been pulling back on gifts, with socks and chocolate featuring quite heavily in the lineup. This results in us being able to use and/or consume these tokens of affection, and I find myself enjoying the season more as a result.
We also watched England lose to France in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, but the less said about that, the better. ;-%
For those of us who don’t live in the United Kingdom, Christmas advertisements usually focus on all the many things available for us to buy, buy, buy. This generally isn’t an issue in our house because we rarely watch actual television, instead depending on library DVDs and streaming services for much of our entertainment (except English Premier League, which is sadly unavailable through these sources).
However, this year, it’s the Men’s World Cup, so we have seen more commercials than usual, and I’ll admit I like the ones that focus on the Beautiful Game. Others, not so much, and in particular the one that argues that “Less is not more; More is more,” or something to that effect.
With this in mind, I did my yearly search for the “best Christmas adverts.”
I found this, which it’s only fair to warn you, will bring tears to your eyes.
If you’d like to check out a few more UK ads, go here. Obviously not all of them are of the same caliber, but I believe you may find a few new favorites.
And, as has become my yearly tradition, I feel compelled to share the best Christmas song ever. Just in case you live under a rock and have never heard the exquisite harmonizing of David Bowie and Bing Crosby in this extraordinarily improbable duet, here it is again. Unfortunately, WordPress or YouTube, or maybe both, won’t let me embed this one, so you’ll have to click on the link.
Since life seems to have gotten away from me since Mom fell, and I’ve been out of commission myself with a head cold (which I sadly have now shared with The Engineer), I may or may not find time to blog again before Christmas.
If I don’t, please accept my very best wishes for a happy Christmas. And if I do, please accept my very best wishes for a happy Christmas.
Please note: This is not our house. Our house decorations consist of two chocolate Advent calendars (with two more Advent calendars in various fridges — a wine one and a cheese one). Also, my little Norfolk Pine is strung with fairy lights and decorated with crochet stars similar to these. That’s the extent of our holiday decor.
The presents under the tree are wrapped in brown paper from the many packages we’ve had delivered. The tree and the gifts together provide a certain homey charm, I think.
I switched to using brown paper for our packages because we get so much of it. It seemed ridiculous to recycle rather than reuse it. Then I read that much of the wrapping paper available in stores can’t be recycled, and I switched permanently. I’m not saying that’s what you should do, especially because we use it partly because I’m #cheapaf. (Pardon me for talking in hash tags, but this one seems appropriate.)
Anyway, Merry Christmas! I hope your time is spent with those you love.
Today, The Engineer and I (finally!) got down the Christmas decorations. And when I say The Engineer and I got them down, I should add two things: 1) Getting them down is as far as his contributions go as he is not a fan of holidays, and 2) We are not a family who goes overboard with holiday decor because #1.
The job/duty/joy of decorating has traditionally fallen to me, then Darling Daughter and I, and now me again.
Also for the record, I should admit DD has told me in recent years I always made her feel she wasn’t doing it right. Since I didn’t realize I was quite that bad of a control freak, I’m very sorry for acting that way.
As I’ve gotten older, I find myself wanting to simplify the holiday season while at the same time wanting it to be as magical as it was when I was young and later when Darling Daughter was a child.
I guess what I really want is a Christmas Fairy to come along and put up all the ornaments and decorations I’ve collected through the years, and then come back and take it all down sometime around New Year’s.
In the absence of said fairy, it falls to me. And once we have all the crates down, I find myself enjoying the process.
This year, for some reason, I found myself humming The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping.” (You can click through for the song, although the video is kind of a non-event despite featuring a tablecloth I know my mother once owned.)
You may or may not know (and I didn’t until I looked the song up after hearing it on my very favorite Christmas CD, “The Edge of Christmas”), The Waitresses were a New Wave band from Akron, Ohio. They formed in 1978, which means they were likely performing in Akron around the time I was going to college there.
And yet, I never heard of them until driving across town to buy “The Edge of Christmas.” Apparently (and unsurprisingly), I was not as cool as I thought I was when I was in school.
Yes, I bought the CD before iTunes and cell phones existed (I’m old; I admit it). I used my land line to call every record shop (and they were still called that because CDs were actually pretty new back then) in the Cleveland area to locate the disk. I wanted it because it has the all-time best Christmas song ever, “The Little Drummer Boy (Peace on Earth).” (Don’t try to tell me any different because I’m not listening.)
Anyway, “The Edge of Christmas” is a great CD, and also includes (along with Bing, Bowie and The Waitresses) the second best holiday song, “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues, featuring Kirsty Macoll and a theme that’s about as different from Bing and Bowie as it could be.
But I digress.
The point is tonight I decked our halls and trimmed our tree and sang The Waitresses.
Speaking of scrappy, dig these great bees I bought from my friend Joyce.
Joyce does mission work in Haiti with E=H: Education Equals Hope , and I like to buy stuff from her because the money goes right back to the artisans and to support the lunch program at the schools there.
A few years ago, I bought some other pieces of metalwork from her, and this year I had the idea of asking if the artist could do some bees. I was really pleased with the results and ordered four, three for us and one for a friend who also keeps bees. Aren’t they great? The Engineer suggested we hang them outside on the trees aound our hives, and I think that’s a wonderful idea.
Meanwhile, on a completely different subject, that same beekeeper friend taught me to make pierogis this week!
One recipe makes a lot and I may share a few … not too many because I love pierogis!
All this decking the halls and trimming the trees and making pierogis and sending cards and even winterizing the bees have been challenging to fit in because The Engineer went to Canada to work for eight days and ended up staying for two weeks. Then, my co-worker got a severe case of COVID and has been out, so I picked up an extra day at work for a few weeks, which probably doesn’t seem like much, but it did change my plans quite a bit.
The good news is she’s on the mend and will be back doing half-days at the end of the week. I’m pleased for her sake, but also for mine because I’d really like to do some Christmas baking, and next week, another friend and I are having a “cooking with phyllo” day at my house.
We’re doing this because after spending hours (NOT exaggerating) attempting to sign up for a similar class at a local college, we decided to just give up and buy phyllo and do our own thing.
If we are successful, I’ll try to remember to take pictures to share. If we are calamitously unsuccessful, I’ll do the same. 🙂
Many British companies, especially those in the retail segment, have a tradition of creating special holiday commercials.
Some of them are rather wonderful.
Now, my husband, The Engineer, will tell you English adverts are better overall, and I tend to agree with him, though this certainly doesn’t mean there are no stupid ones. However, for the most part, British marketing departments appear to give their customers credit for at least a modicum of intelligence.
This Christmas will likely be one we remember for a long time to come. I’m sharing these to remind us to make sure some of those memories are happy ones.
Wherever you are and however you plan to celebrate, know that I wish you and yours a very happy Christmas. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, perhaps you can celebrate the dark nights of winter growing shorter (at least in the northern hemisphere 🌞) now the solstice is behind us.
When I watch these commercials, I often wonder what type of person actually surprises another with a vehicle. And when I think about how I would react to such a gift, I must say this Saturday Night Live sketch comes pretty close (if you subtract the extramarital flirting).
While I’m not really part of the “Scrap Happy” tradition started by my friend Kate and her friends, I felt I could offer another post on the subject — or at least a continuation of the first.
Since that post, I’ve continued to crochet stars as if they were needed to populate the night sky.
I’ve made at least seventy and am still going strong.
Some have gone to work with me, as thank yous to customers who donate to our staff fund for a local charity for families in need. Some have gone in Christmas cards and on presents. Some will go to my mom to give to her caregivers and friends at her facility. And some have gone on our tree.
It’s not our usual tree. But it’s going to be a weird Christmas for everyone, and things are no different here. Darling Daughter and I have not yet decided if it’s a good idea for her and Boyfriend to come home for the holiday. Somehow dragging the tree and all its ornaments down from the loft and decorating it seemed, not a waste of time exactly, but sort of superfluous.
I wanted something simpler, and chose to decorate the Norfolk Pine I’ve been growing for more years than I can remember.
I also strung popcorn for garland. (Note on stringing popcorn: After I’d already started stringing, I read it’s best to let the popcorn sit for a day or two so it doesn’t crumble so easily. This would probably make it easier. Still, the squirrels are enjoying the scraps, so that’s a good thing.)
I’ll admit I didn’t envision the tree turning out quite so Charlie Brownish. But that’s okay. I’m going to buy more lights. Twinkle lights make everything look better. (The Brits call them “fairy lights,” I think, which I prefer. I like the hint of magic in the phrase.)
In other scrappy news, three more lap rug/afghans went to my mom’s place for the residents.
One could also make an argument that my “Comfort Cooking for a Pandemic Winter” is also scrappy. Heaven knows the recipes came from many scraps of paper stuck in many cookbooks in our cupboards.
And now, though I’ve shared it many times before, I feel compelled to (once again) share the best Christmas song ever. I know you are probably saying, “Kym, that’s your opinion,” but I disagree.