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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Bedlam, The Blizzard, The Blahs and The Babies

Christmas Morning at That Old House.

 What has Santa left under the tree?

Even Dion is curious.
Could there be something for him?

There are lovely packages with big red bows to be opened, and bright red stockings to be emptied.

Remember when Christmas was Bedlam? 
When footie-pajama clad little ones tumbled out of bed before dawn?
Maybe Christmas morning is still Bedlam at your home?  If so -- lucky you!
Christmas morning here is now much quieter.
The girls sleep in.  We open presents one by one, taking our time.
And Annie makes feather-light waffles for our late morning breakfast.

See? They float!
But somebody got a doll this Christmas!
I got an American Girl Felicity doll.
How did Santa know?

We spent a lovely Christmas Day with my sister and her family at their house.
My Dad was able to join us, and as we sat around the dinner table,
we got to talking about memorable Christmases past.

Peggy's most memorable was the year that she and I found real reindeer hoof prints and
sleigh runner marks dashing across the snow on the front lawn on Christmas morning.
It turned us back into believers.
Who can doubt in the face of such clear evidence?
And how wonderful were our two big brothers?

Mine was the year that -- against all odds -- I found a Cheer Bear Care Bear for Alida.
It was all she wanted, and the darned thing hadn't been manufactured for years.
I wrote about that miracle here.

But my favorite answer of the evening came from our 90-year old Dad.
His most memorable Christmas?  He had a quick, and short, reply.
"The year I got skis!"
 and all the excitement and joy and astonishment of that long-ago Christmas shone in his face,
and I could see the boy he was, and still is, deep inside.

That Santa.  He's quite a guy.

Mother Nature had her own surprises for us on Christmas weekend.
We had a blizzard, and not the kind you get at Dairy Queen.

From Sunday through daybreak Monday, the winds howled and rattled
our windows and shutters, blew a few shingles off the roof,
whited out our view of the neighborhood, and left behind the oddest snowfall I've ever seen.

Peeking past the sunroom tree, down to the street.
We are on the slope of a hill, and the wind tore down that hill, taking much of our snow with it.
Let's just say our neighbors, below us and across the street, got more snow than we.  Because they got ours.
How many pictures do we have of our old stone steps covered in snow?  Way too many.
Peeking past the parlor tree, out to the side yard snow. I do love to look out of cozy windows in a snowstorm, because that means I am inside!
Gloves and hats, drying out after shoveling duties.
While the snow and wind did cause some pileups against the house,
our neighborhood was not as buried as some.  Much of New Jersey east of us got more
than 2-feet of the white stuff, and our old neighborhood, just 25 minutes away, picked up 30 inches.

At That Old House, the wind left patches where you can see the grass poking through,
and also drifts several feet deep. Wacky, I tell you!

Now, about The Blahs mentioned in the title?
On Sunday, while the snow fell and the winds howled,
I was busy with a fever and chills.  And the blahs.  Hey, it happens.

After a few days of the blahs, I'm all recovered and tomorrow -- early! -- my girls and I
are going to hit the road to visit these little fellows:

Baby Calvin

Baby Luke
My niece Maggie and her husband Garrett, who live in Michigan, are the proud parents of
twin boys, born October 4th.  I've only seen pictures so far, and I can't wait to snuggle!

Happy New Year!  -- Cass

Link Parties!
For the white-out blizzard, it's Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer.  Click here!
Also in honor of the snow -- White Wednesday at Faded CharmClick here!
And because RED is the perfect Christmas week color, Today Is Rednesday at It's A Very Cherry World.  Click here!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Glaedelig Lille Julaften

Norwegians, living as they do
in some pretty grim and dark
December weather, make the most of Christmas.

They even have a name for the day
before Christmas Eve:  Lille Julaften.

Translation:  Little Christmas Eve.

My mother and I always called one another on Lille Julaften.
We'd compare our Julekake, or Christmas bread, and just spend some time away from the pre-Christmas-Eve whirlwind.
Reminiscing.  Catching up.  Winding down.

My mother believed it was okay to still be baking or cleaning on Lille Julaften;
by the next day, all chores were to be finished so you would be in a calm and serene state of mind,
ready for that night's church services, and ready to settle your children down with gentle words and quiet stories.
Yeah, that often happens to mothers with young children -- serenity before Christmas.

I didn't say it always turned out that way, but it was something to aim for.

I miss my mother very much today.

I visited my Dad this afternoon.
But he and I don't talk of holiday decorating or cleaning,
or past Christmas triumphs or trials,
or what the choir will sing tomorrow night,
or whether Granny Gustafsen's Julekake recipe trumps Mom Eriksen's.

No, Dad and I talked about plumbing, and gifts for the staff where he lives.
Practical things.

I think I will call my sister now, and wish her a Glaedelig Lille Julaften.
I wonder if she baked Julekake?
I'm breaking the rules, and baking mine tomorrow.


I wish you all a
Glaedelig Lille Julaften!
-- Cass

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dashing Through Goodwill . . . .

You might think that I'd take the holidays off from checking
out the goods at our local Goodwill Industries outlet.

You might be wrong.
Me?  Wrong?  Impossible!

Last week, our local Goodwill -- an organization which clearly knows its customers -- sent me an email announcing that all Christmas items were half price.   That's like offering crack to an addict.

I did not leave empty-handed, and my finds went from the sublime to the ridiculous.
The udderly ridiculous.

A 12-inch Christmas platter.  $2.

 Why is this guy grinning?
Because he's come to live at That Old House.  $1.44.
 He comes from a good family, too, and is a canape plate.
 He makes me grin.
 As does this fella:
Another canape plate.  48-cents.  I'm not making that up.
 And from the same fine family, too.
You've probably figured it out already; that was the sublime part of my Goodwill scores.
Now for the ridiculous:
 A Christmas Cow.
At least, I think that's what she is.
 She has ruffles.  Why?  Why?
Hmmm. . . I don't think she likes the teasing.  That is not a friendly cow eye we're getting.
 Uh-oh.  She's turning her back on us, and leaving.
I think we insulted her.
She fulfilled a noble purpose at our party on Saturday; she was one of the Grab Bag prizes.
I put her in; I ended up with her at the end of the game.  Where's the justice?

Think about it: someone had to design this gal, someone else had to buy the design and manufacture it,
someone else had to buy it for retail sale, and still another person had to buy it as a consumer.

Holy. Cow.
Now I'm more than a little abashed at posting to Tabletop Tuesday at Marty's blog,
as the tabletops there are just stunning, and mine clearly is not.

Mine is an Emergency Centerpiece.
It's an object lesson in planning ahead, and what happens when you don't.
It's what you do when, 30 minutes before guests are arriving, you realize that in the
long lists of "to-do" chores . . . you have forgotten to include "centerpiece for dining room table."

And you have no flowers on hand. And no time to buy any.
 You grab the trusty crystal candlesticks off the top of the china closet, rummage in the sideboard
for the little crackly red votives, steal the big crackly red hurricanes from the kitchen hutch,
string them out along a runner on top of a beautiful embroidered tablecloth, step back and think. . .
 "Okay.  Now what?"  Because a hodgepodge of candles on a 10-foot table looks, well, lost.
You need something to tie them together.
More rummaging, this time in the bottoms of some near-empty Rubbermaid bins of Christmas bling.
And . . . what to your wondering eyes should appear, but yards and yards of red wooden beads.
You remember when you used to use them on the big stone mantel at the old house, and indulge
in 32-seconds' worth of nostalgia, before flinging the beads on the table, snaking them through
the candle holders,  and calling it a day -- because you need to get back to the kitchen.

No placesettings on this table.  Dinner was a buffet, and guests could perch
with their plates on their laps, or choose to use the dining room table.

Well, that's it for today.
I'll be off soon for our old neighborhood, about a half hour away, so Alida and I can do some poking around in familiar stores, and drop something off at a former neighbor's home, and maybe get lunch at our favorite Italian place; I think they miss us there.

By the way, the goofy centerpiece looked much better at night, with all the candles lit.  No, really.

Linky parties today:
Twice Owned Tuesday at House Of Grace.

And .... Thrifty Thursday at Tales From Bloggeritaville! 
(Leigh has an especially lovely Christmas message and story.)

Click and visit!  I'm off to do more Santa-ing, and hope that -- like yesterday -- my dear
daughter treats me to coffee and dessert in the middle of the afternoon!  -- Cass

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Grab Bag of Christmas

Welcome to Christmastime at That Old House!

Please come in; we hope you won't notice that we 
haven't decorated the front door yet.  

Stop at the Kissing Ball in the front hall . . .
that should distract you!

 Let's make a quick left turn, into the Parlor on this sunny Monday morning.

 Candles, cedar roping, and a touch of bling on the mantle.
Little white lights peek out from the roping at night.
 What's this?
A turkey?  A peacock?
No, it's my last minute inspiration for a tree topper . . . gilded feathers.
 Okay, even I admit it's odd.
But it gives the little tree a rather startled look,
as if it's surprised to find itself all decked out for the holiday.   Who, me?
 Late on Sunday afternoon, I tucked myself into a corner of the sofa, above,
with a book in my hand, warm slippers on my feet, and an adult beverage at my side.
It was a lovely way to spend a little time post-party.
I took a few pictures from my sofa seat.
See my slipper?

  The sunroom tree is a big ol' Southern boy from North Carolina.

 He's wearing a be-ribboned headdress, a reminder to us that so many
of the ornaments on our trees were gifts to us after Hurricane Floyd destroyed our others in '99.
Look to the right, at the top of the sidebar, for a link to that story.

I do love tree ornaments.
One can never have too many.  Fact!

Our Family & Friends Christmas Party on Saturday turned out just fine.
The essential decorating got done in time, and all the food was cooked, and most of it eaten!
Biggest hits:  Hot Reuben Dip, and Cranberry Onion Brisket.

Our guest list of 22 grew to 29 by party time, which is always a blessing and a joy.
(Our 30th guest didn't eat dinner, only dessert, so I'm not counting him.)
My father was able to join us, and stayed until 10:30 that night.  Pop loves a good party.

Thank goodness for the help of my husband, my daughter Anne on the day of the party,
and my daughter Alida, home from California since 12/15 for the holidays.
And my sister Peggy for her Christmas baking.  Mmmm... cookies!

 I didn't get many (if by many I mean any) pictures during the party; I was just too busy.
Wait.  There is one, taken during our Annual Grab Bag from my spot in the kitchen.
The Grab Bag gifts were particularly delightful, bizarre and ridiculous this year.
My nieces say it was epic.
Good job, all!  Laughter is the best gift we can give one another.
After cash.

Monday link parties:
Mary at A Little Red House -- Mosaic Monday!
Susan at Between Naps On The Porch -- Metamorphosis Monday!
At Cottage and Vine -- the 2010 Tour of Homes!
At The House in The Roses -- Show Off Your Cottage Monday!

Be back tomorrow with some really neat Goodwill Christmas scores!
And maybe (finally!) a decorated staircase!  -- Cass