Monday, 23 December 2013

Wassail

I have my groceries, after much broken field running through the aisles, presents are wrapped and under the tree. Baking is well underway. Turkey is in the frig. I guess this is a pretty smug post, eh? Sorry.

Peace on Earth!!!



Thursday, 19 December 2013

Fast Away



It’s a beautiful, beautiful day. A softly pink-striped dawn has given way to mild sunshine and a sky of baby blues and wispy whites. The extreme cold has (temporarily) departed. A fine fluff of brand new, sparkly clean snow lies over everything. A fine day to put on the snowshoes and start making winter walkways. If it weren’t one week to Christmas, that is.  And so … the laundry is littering the basement stairs, my second cup of coffee is empty and I have a laundry room full of gifts that have to be dealt with before I can do the wash. Seems like a perfect time to write a post, don’t you think? If I were Mary Poppins instead of Mary G, the dirty clothes would pick themselves up and dance into the washer, the paper and ribbon would obligingly clothe the gifts, making perfect bows, and I could brew up some more java. But.

I am not Mary Poppins. I can’t sing a note, in fact. I was teaching words to carols to my grandkid this last two weeks and the look on her face from time to time as I murdered the tunes was classic. On the other hand, I have had a brand new washer installed while I was away grandkid minding and it is much faster than the old one, with better temperature options too.  Also, I love wrapping presents, all to a theme, and placing them artistically under the tree. This fussing lasts only as long as it takes the family to arrive and pile all of their gifts in any old how, but it looks pretty before this happens.
All the decorations are up, even the bow on the mailbox, and the storage boxes moved back to the basement. I have found, after some panic, the container of Christmas table clothes and napkins. I have all of the special foodstuffs I will need for Christmas dinner except for the turkey and it is ordered for pickup on the 23rd

One of the things I like about Christmas, silly as it seems, is that it is a deadline. Crunch time. Everything must be done, arranged, ready by the 24th. I work better under pressure as many procrastinators do. Give me lots of time and I will dither and fiddle. Give me a firm date and I will manage. My poor daughters are both running under the gun at this point, with too many things to do and all sorts of pressure; the ED is philosophical about things but hates the pressure although the YD is more like me and goes into a fine whirlwind of Getting It All Done. The grandkid is more like her mother – the presents I helped her create are already wrapped and ready. This is not heritage from me, for sure, although my own mother was like that. What gets passed down from generation to generation is endlessly fascinating.

As many of our family’s holiday traditions are passed down. My husband hates the Mylar tinsel that has replaced the older, stiffer kind. So we do not tinsel the tree any longer, even though tinsel was a big part of our decoration for many years. The grandkid looked at our tree and declared it needed tinsel, grinned and said ‘Each strand must hang by itself.’ That rule came from one of my aunts, who was a master at decorating anything, and to hear it from the next generation was both funny and nostalgic. The things we pass along, mostly inadvertently, to the next generation and onward are truly weird.

When I was first married we bought all new decorations for our first tree, a stark arrangement of silver and white balls that suited my idea of modern and only mine. But after my mother died all of her decorations came to me, some of them glass balls that I had bought for her as a child when they first returned to the market after the 2nd World War. These decorations are now all on my tree and it is a kaleidoscope of colour and mixed themes. Lovely.

1964

2013
(The blue ball lower right is probably over 60 years old. Pile of gifts to be added! Later!)

And the wash is still festooned all down the basement stairs. Deadline time!

What are some of your decorating traditions?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Savour the Season

This is a shot of 2012's blooms on the Christmas cactus I inherited from my husband's grandmother's house  ... many years ago. It blooms when it has a mind to, regardless of the 12 hour of daylight rule. This year, it had already finished blooming in November. My other cactus, also a gift, bloomed late in October.

I need to have a serious discussion with these plants about appropriate timing. Not that they will pay any more attention than the merchants, both local and national, who start the Christmas displays about the same time my plants are setting buds. And, while I have my Grinch hat on, I wonder if there is any way we can persuade our  friends south of the border to keep 'Black Friday' at home. As far as I can see, it is just another way to sneak Christmas profit in early.

On a less grumpy note, I have had a much easier time with the Christmas shopping this  year, without resorting to doing it all on line. Elder daughter and partner are in Brazil for a two week research project, and I am in Ottawa in locum parenti with the grandkid. This means that I can  drop her at school and wheel off to the mall of choice early in the  morning, get a premium parking spot, have a leisurely coffee break and be home with the loot before the noon traffic jams. Bliss! The boot of the car is now filled with bags containing  almost all my list and I still have the rest of the week to knit up any loose ends.

Which brings me to the knitting. Miss G decided that she wanted to knit her mother a lovely scarf for Christmas. ( i am pretty sure the ED does not read my blog.) The sweet child has never knit before. So, we picked out some very fat wool and size 10 needles, Grama cast on and she set to it. She now has over 18" done, with few errors, and we just might make it, even if we have to do the finishing locked into the YD's spare bedroom on Christmas Eve. Grama has equipped her with a knitting bag, tape measure and darning needles. The tape measure is getting a lot of use. She has also sewn a tie for her father, with some  eclat, doing all the finish hand stitching solo. And threading her own needle! No grandmother could ask for better than that.

It's a long stint to do in the city, however. It is a vey good thing that JG is a self-sufficient guy who happily cooks for himself and that Aunt YD is doing the weekend minding so that I get a night or two in my own bed.  Miss G is being very brave and cheerful, although missing her parents from time to time. The cat has taken to sleeping with her to keep her spirits up. And Miss G and her aunt have volunteered to put up my Christmas tree this weekend.

Something to savour indeed.


Sunday, 8 December 2013

I'm making my lists, and piles, and plans.....

Nance, at the Dep't of Nance, says 'simplify' among other great preChristmas advice posts. Sigh.

Note: there is a link to Nance's blog, but it is pale gray. Must change my colours. Maybe in January.