life stories

I need to take the time to write down the stories I heard yesterday so I don’t forget. Given the anesthesia and everything that went on yesterday with my surgery I’ve probably forgotten some things already.

Yesterday was my second knee surgery. This time it was definitely gardener’s knee and it was my other leg. The surgery seemed to go well but I will admit today the pain is still somewhat not fun.

I had my husband just drop me off because there is such a lot of waiting before I actually go into surgery that I didn’t want him trapped at the hospital when he had a busy work day ahead.

I met a lovely couple in the waiting room who were in the bed and holding area immediately next to me as we both were given our marching orders before going up to the holding areas for surgery.

This couple had an amazing tale. A true love story that today in the morning after thinking about it really gets me a little choked up because it’s beautiful and so happy and it’s so the power of love over the ages.

They are in their 80s. They met when they were in college. Life took them in different directions and they were very happily married to other people for decades. Somehow they came together as widow and widower and the wife moved across the country where she had lived her life out west. So now they are married and live in the area. The husband has lived in this area for decades.

I’m not sure what the husband did for a career, but the wife was a nurse her entire career, including an army nurse in years it must’ve been quite challenging. They were so happy and so in love and so positive. I think the wife sort of adopted me until I went to the pre-surgery line up and holding area because she knew I was not as much of a tough girl as I wanted to be waiting there by myself. And that was my decision. My husband would have sat there all day for me. I did not want him to.

One thing that lady and I talked about was ancestry.com. She had started an account not too long ago and showed me some really cool pictures of family members – her ancestors – that she never knew existed.

In the holding area as I waited my turn to go into the OR I met a bunch of amazing nurses. I can’t stress enough how wonderful every nurse I’ve ever met at Chester County Hospital is.

I had a great conversation with a nurse whose name of course has flown right out of my head because we when were talking they had just begun the sedation process with me. This nurse noticed the limb alert bracelet on my left hand. Because I have had breast cancer and had the sentinel node removed I can’t ever have anything in my left side that was the side the cancer and lymph node was removed from.

She apparently has worked with a lot of breast cancer patients and excuse me she was interesting to talk to. Also talking to her made me realize how lucky I’ve been with breast cancer.

From that point on everything was a bit of a blur. When I woke up in the postop (which is now called something else in the land of new speak) there were some patients and nurses and it was sort of a lie there and drool for a while because I was so out of it coming out of anesthesia.

As I woke up a little more I overheard a nurse comforting a patient to the left of me. The patient wasn’t right next to me, she was a couple of beds down. And the nurse was distracting a patient by telling her about a box of special Christmas ornaments that they get out every year. They sounded like they were old Shiny Broght ornaments. But what got to me was her describing whatever was written on the box from whomever used to own them in her family.

And those are the kind of little heartwarming stories around the holidays that always get to me and make me smile because I know how special it is to me when I pull out the old ornament boxes and see my father’s hand writing on top of these boxes that are totally falling apart but I just keep taping them up so I have his hand writing there to greet me every Christmas.

My post op nurse was younger than I and from Lancaster. She was so calm and soothing. We talked about Lancaster County which was fun because that is where my maternal grandmother was from who was Pennsylvania German.

Across the postop room for me was this awesome nurses aide who ended up taking me down to the first area I came into while my husband was on his way to pick me up. She is a lovely young woman who moved here from a big city elsewhere to give her kids a better life. And she was telling her coworkers about one of her children who apparently has been a straight “A” student their entire life and just got into their pick of colleges. Another happy life story.

I know not every day in the hospital you find happy and loving and just these really warm and wonderful vibes because of the nature of a hospital. But I always seem to have these experiences in Chester County Hospital.

The entire hospital had holiday trees everywhere which I thought was awesome because I love decorated trees.

For a day that was about surgery and kind of tough on me it was also a day I enjoyed because of the people I met. I guess my whole point to this meandering post is if you’re open to it you never know where you’re going to meet interesting people.

Here in Chester County we are lucky to have this hospital.

So now I rest and heal and then begin the process of rebuilding my leg at physical therapy.

I don’t know how much I will be writing between now and the new year, so I will take this time to wish everyone a happy healthy 2020.

Cheers!





white chocolate oatmeal hazelnut cookies

I seem to have created something new. I had wanted to make my white chocolate cinnamon cookies with oatmeal, but then I decided I could improve on it. And I didn’t have any cinnamon chips. So I did improve my recipe and changed it up…and…taa daa! The 2019 White Chocolate Oatmeal Hazelnut Cookies were born.

RECIPE:

1 cup of butter softened (2 sticks)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup quick cook oatmeal (plain no flavoring)

2 cups white chocolate baking chips

1 cup dried currants (I used Sunmaid Zante Currants)

1 cup chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350°

Cream together until well mixed butter and both sugars in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla, beat until light and fluffy. Add 2 tablespoons buttermilk.

Add cinnamon, salt, baking soda.

Mix in 2 cups of all-purpose white flour until mixed well. Stir in oatmeal, followed by white chocolate baking chips, and finally the hazelnuts.

I chilled my dough about an hour.

Drop by rounded teaspoons on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. (I line my cookie pans silicone baking sheets for the most part now.)

I actually like to roll might dough into about 1 inch balls instead of “drop”. I place them a couple inches apart on the sheet.

Bake at 350° for 10 to 11 minutes depending on your oven.

Do not overbake and please cool these cookies at least five or six minutes before removing from baking sheet to cooling rack to cool completely.

This recipe makes a little over 4 1/2 dozen cookies. They seem to be an instant crowd pleaser in my house, so I hope you like them too!

need some more merry festivus? try brandywine view antiques in chadds ford!

We had an appointment down in Chadds Ford late this afternoon so I asked my husband if we could stop at Brandywine View Antiques.

Brandywine View Antiques is locates at 1244 Baltimore Pike in Chadds Ford, PA 19317, incidentally.

I adore the owner of Brandywine View, Lisa. She is just an awesome human being and I love to be around her. She’s a straight shooter and real. And she has an awesome eye.

When the holidays roll around, Lisa is always is on point. She has a carefully curated collection of old, new, and vintage. This year is even better than last year and I didn’t think she could top last year.

I went for some reproduction decorations including red mercury glass pinecones. I have been looking for red and green ones. I walked into Brandywine View and there they were!

Now because of the state of my knee I could not venture upstairs at Brandywine View Antiques. There are literally three floors of fun!

Anyway, there are still a few days of Christmas shopping left so don’t forget about places like Chadds Ford and Kennett Square too! Brandywine View Antiques is the perfect place to start!

I am not compensated in any way for this post. I am just a happy customer.

mother wants fruitcake

I love my mother (the holy mothertude) but she is not so subtle sometimes when she does things like saying the other day:

Oh we took the last of your fruit cake out of the freezer from last year. We just love it so much.”

(She totally cracks me up with this so, bum knee and all, I knew I was indeed making fruitcake this year.)

And then my lovely stepfather said something similar in his very adorable, very British way.

So I called my mother back today and said “I decided I will be making fruitcake this year.”

The mothertude replies “I really wasn’t trying to get you to make it.

Now you know you can’t ignore mother requests at Christmas, right? So…I made two today and will make two tomorrow so I don’t have any of that candied fruit to store. Because face it, what else do you use it for except fruitcake?

I make white fruitcake. I saw somewhere once and then couldn’t find it again, where it was referred to as “grooms cake”. It’s made with good brandy or whiskey and it actually tastes good.

Normally I like to make my fruitcake more ahead of schedule than I am now, but it will still taste good.

The basis for my fruitcake recipe can be found in a 1959 edition of the Better Homes & Gardens Holiday Cookbook. But I have adjusted the recipe over the years based on personal tastes and recipe research and tweaked it a little.

This year I changed it again and I went back to only using almonds. And I didn’t use figs, I used chopped dates and golden raisins. I might change the second batch up a little, I will decide tomorrow.

I actually wrote about this a few years ago. (Follow this LINK to yes really…fruitcake.)

I will tell you I had blocked out what a mess your kitchen becomes making fruitcake.

Below is a photo of them going into the oven. I just took them out and they smell GOOOD! Try a white fruitcake…I promise you will like it!

Fa la la la la

the grinch ate my mail and other holiday tales of the ridiculous.

I am frustrated right now. I realize the post office is super busy. I realize my post office is down a postal employee. But the supervisor who works in the office isn’t exactly helpful at times. This is one of those times.

I had something on redelivery that was a giant hassle yesterday. I missed the initial delivery because I had an appointment and the mail delivery was earlier than normal. I called to try to get it yesterday and the supervisor wouldn’t call the carrier who had our route. I was just trying to figure out if it was getting delivered yesterday. Not looking for special treatment….unless basic information is special treatment?

So yesterday I subsequently filed a redelivery request on the USPS website. Have you ever attempted to navigate the USPS at peak times of the year like the holidays? I must have entered the required information seven or eight times. Then I still wasn’t sure if it was in because at one point it told me my request could not be completed or handled or something I forget what the language was, so I called my post office. The USPS supervisor assured me it would be on a truck tomorrow (AKA today), after he tells me he never heard of that error before.

Just swell. Nothing like not being able to drive because you’re waiting for knee surgery and it’s your husband’s Christmas present. Only you aren’t quite sure where it is other than somewhere in the area.

Not helpful.

So the USPS truck shows up this afternoon. A different substitute driver. Very nice, but as I am calling to him to wait because the package I had on redelivery wasn’t there, he is not hearing me and starting to pull away. The reason he wasn’t hearing me is he had earbuds in. For some reason, I thought you couldn’t drive with stuff in your ears like headphones or earbuds that prohibited you from reacting to traffic and what not but I digress….

Anyway, the substitute carrier guy couldn’t have been nicer but he told me it wasn’t on the truck. So I went inside and I looked up the number and called my post office again.

I got the same supervisor on the phone as yesterday and it was a conversation for the record books.

Hi sorry to call again, but the package you said would be redelivered today wasn’t and the mail carrier just left.” I said

His reply was something along the lines of there were several trucks out. So I asked him if that meant my package would be delivered later. His response was a rather oblique “maybe, possibly.”

I asked him if he could define that answer a little more and he said again maybe possibly.

So I asked if there was anyway to check with carriers to see if my package was on a truck or if it had gotten left behind. I figured that was a possibility since in the frustrating conversation of oblique replies he told me the substitute mail carrier who had been out to the house yesterday was off today.

His response to me was along the lines of “Well, if you asked the carrier to check his truck and he didn’t find it there’s really no point in me calling him.” (I am paraphrasing slightly but that was the jist of the response.)

So I asked him if it would just come out later today and it was another non-answer answer. He’s the supervisor so what does he know? It’s very confusing.

So I called a neighboring post office to see if they had any suggestions. Or if I was doing something wrong. The supervisor in that office couldn’t have been nicer. 

A couple of hours later, the missing package appeared like magic. I think I must have a secret Santa in that other post office.

I know the post office is slammed. I am truly sorry. But when you call for customer service, you should get actual customer service. I know people don’t like being told no, and I am no exception, but I would prefer an honest answer to a non-answer answer.

So all’s well that ends well for me today, but this is the second problem lately. And it felt like the Grinch ate my Christmas mail, right or wrong.

Quite frankly I am dreading putting my Christmas cards into the mail. But Santa says I must. Can’t be a Grinch……

life’s little observations

s-l1600

Something occurred to me the other day.  And I am not a psychologist or expert in the field of how negativity affects people, especially where they live, so these are merely my opinions and observations.

Stress and it’s impacts on us is widely studied.  This article from 2018 was insightful-  Stress and our mental health – what is the impact & how can we tackle it?. So was this article- Psychological Stress, Physical Stress, and Emotional Stress, and this one – All the Ways Living in a City Messes With Your Mental Health.

We live in an area that was bucolic and peaceful. Agricultural and equine heritage and traditions.  It is now being overrun by development.  Every time you turn around, another community is threatened. That is stressful if you are directly affected/impacted, and it can raise your blood pressure just driving by a place where you used to see cows, or horses swishing their tails while they grazed to seeing how  it is now just a big pit of scraped earth or budding Tyvec-wrapped communities where everyone is or will be jammed in like lemmings.

And then there are all of the pipeline sites. They are ugly and raw and NOISY.  People’s property values are declining, their wells being poisoned by whatever the heck it all is they drill with (there are enough articles in local papers etc about this, right?) And we can’t forget the sinkholes. When I was first coming out to Chester County before I moved here, I used to love when I turned on 352 off of West Chester Pike if I came that way.  All of a sudden it was just green with rolling stretches of lawn and trees. Now it is a raped landscape that actually stresses me out just driving by it, so I can’t even imagine how directly affected residents feel.

Or other area stressers like contested sites within municipalities where state agencies like PennDOT are concerned.  Take the site of Route 352 (A/K/A N. Chester R or Sproul Rd) and King Road in Malvern.  This directly affects residents in East Whiteland and East Goshen.

And here we are at year end and no one knows what is happening for sure at that intersection, and that includes the directly affected residents.  Will they face any eminent domain? Will they face a complete loss of certain properties through eminent domain? It’s a big mystery. And I watch email after email by affected residents go by to municipal officials and PennDOT.  PennDOT never replies. It is like they are ignoring the residents utterly and completely, which adds to the feelings of stress, dismay and uncertainty.

Is it just me or have any of you noticed how people aren’t putting up their usual Christmas displays in some of these areas targeted by pipelines, development,  construction, and PennDOT? This is what I have noticed, and it bums me out to see houses usually bright and cheery at the holidays look dark and sad. But in all fairness, if you were facing any of these things, how cheerful and full of Christmas spirit would you feel?

Life can be hard, that is the reality of life.  But for a lot of these people, it shouldn’t be so hard. These folks moved here and bought their homes to raise their families.  Their piece of the American Dream.  You live right, pay your taxes, are part of your community.  And your home is indeed your castle, and for a lot of these people there are quite literally barbarians at the gate.

Elected officials NEED to think about how these scenarios are affecting their constituents. All they have to do is drive by and notice how the longer these negative issues persist, how they affect people. Real people. People who in a lot of cases voted for them. It shows in the little things like gardening and holiday decorations.  I think it is criminal to drive by homes where you know the owners were once so house proud and see these changes.

Just some of life’s little observations.  Wishing these people peace.

time to start decking the halls!

This year I was going for a simpler, almost nostalgic look. Above is my dining room chandelier. Originally, it was given to me by my late father many years ago and it lived in storage units and attics until we bought the house we now live in. Here it was the perfect chandelier for our dining room. (The chandelier originally in the dining room was repurposed and now hangs in our front hall. It’s a small chandelier and it is the perfect scale for the front hall.)

This year my chandeliers were completely inspired by a childhood memory. When we were little and lived in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia one of the things we did at Christmas time was attend the St. Lucia Festival at Old Swedes in Philadelphia.

This is such a beautiful tradition and it is still hands-down one of my favorite things about Christmas in Philadelphia.

Lucia Fest is actually this coming weekend in Philadelphia at Old Swedes:

Friday, December 6th – 6:00 & 8:00

Saturday, December 7th – 2:00, 3:30 & 5:00

Sunday, December 8th – 2:00, 3:30 & 5:00

The Lucia Fest weaves together a number of Swedish holiday traditions into a colorful musical pageant. The heart of the celebration is the Lucia procession, in which a young woman is joined by other female members of the household in taking hot coffee and a warm Lucia bun to all the residents of the home. She comes crowned with candles, dressed in white, singing her traditional song, “Sankta Lucia.” In Sweden, her day is celebrated in homes before dawn on the 13th of December, which, at one stage of life with the Julian calendar, marked the winter solstice – the point at which the hours of darkness begin to diminish and the daylight hours begin to lengthen.

At Gloria Dei Church the celebration is held within the walls constructed by Swedish settlers in 1699-1700, in the beauty of candlelight, with a large entourage of young girls joining her in song and procession. For many people, participation in the Lucia Fest is a unique way of marking the beginning of the holiday season.

If you have never been, I actually encourage you to go. There are many Lucia festivals across the country. PLEASE NOTE that to attend at Old Swedes in Philadelphia you need tickets!  that is not the way it was when I was growing up, but even then it was a mad crush of people so I think it is smart of the church to do that, plus the tickets are moderately priced and proceeds go to the church. This church is one of the most historicly important in Philadelphia.

In the Lucia procession, young girls wear crowns of seasonal greens with candles. I doubt very much anymore in most places that the candles are live, but they were when I was a little girl. 

Anyway the Scandinavian simplicity and beauty of this festival was my inspiration for my chandeliers as silly as it sounds. And I’m very pleased with the results.

I did not use real garlands, because they would not last the Christmas season inside. On Wayfair and Etsy I found felt garland and that’s what I purchased to create my Lucia inspired chandeliers. The Company Store and places like Pottery Barn also sell the felt garland, but their prices are much higher than what I found between Wayfair (and the felt pine garland I found on Wayfair is already sold out) and Etsy. There are also some options on Amazon and elsewhere, but you have to hunt through the garlands.

The garland I purchased was both wired and not wired. You can also use other artificial garland for this purpose I just liked the almost childlike simplicity of the felt garland. It has whimsy.

The garland is placed simply enough on the chandelier and I had a half dozen white felt birds that I tucked in here and there. But the best part of the garland is it is the perfect foil for my great grandparents’ German kugel which my mother gave me a few years ago. It is my favorite Christmas ornament. It is not a giant kugel as I have seen displayed, but it is super lovely.

There are also three beaded tassels in a lovely cranberry color. I have absolutely no idea what store they were from originally, but I bought them on a whim from the Smithfield Barn and put them away until I had a use.

The table is dressed with a festive tartan cloth (also from the Smithfield Barn!) In the center of the table, keeping with the simplicity of the chandelier above, are my glass candlesticks with cheerfully festive candy cane striped candles. They are all sitting in a copper tray.

I am not anywhere near finished decorating and there will be a lot less of it this year and it will be slow going because of my knee. But I think it’s actually a good thing that I had to change my routine up this year because I am liking the results so far!

Fa la la la la!

more thanksgiving prep: laying it all out

Thanksgiving in our house is going to be smaller and much simpler than years past. I didn’t get to all the little ceramic turkeys to put on the table this year so the table just has the simple candlesticks and some greens in a vase. I still think it’ll look pretty.

My order arrived today from Harman’s Cheese in New Hampshire. I love my imported cheese, but for Thanksgiving especially it’s American made cheeses. Tomorrow for nibbles before our little feast, I will put out Harman’s cheddar with crackers with a Balsamic Onion Jam. The rest of the cheese will take us through the holiday season and well into the winter.

The table is mostly vintage. Pewter napkin rings I got years ago. No one likes pewter much anymore so I literally picked these up super inexpensively.

The napkins came from The Smithfield Barn. They are of a newer vintage from Ralph Lauren.

The plates are Steubenville Adam Antique from the 1930s. I bought them for our first Thanksgiving in this house. They came from Frazer Antiques. I remember they were on sale. I have looked for years since at these plates here and there, and never been able to even come close to the deal I got that day.

The placemats are vintage Pimpernal. They belonged to one of my dearest friend’s mothers.

We are having a simple menu. Yams, green salad with a simple vinaigrette, stuffing done outside the bird, homemade cranberry sauce, and the turkey. The turkey is from Loag’s Corner Turkey Farm in Elverson and was delivered by Doorstep Dairy. Doorstep Dairy is our milk delivery service and more. We have been a customer for a few years. They are terrific!

If you are local, Loag’s turkeys can also be purchased through local butcher shops like Worrell’s Butcher Shop in Malvern Borough. We also are big fans of Worrell’s!

I didn’t mention dessert. That I am actually not baking. Someone gave us a cheesecake. Not our normal Thanksgiving dessert, but my husband loves cheesecake!

My last piece of the puzzle is a vintage turkey platter. Also from the Smithfield Barn a few years ago. American made, true vintage, and I love it.

Holidays are about traditions. Thanksgiving is about the classics: turkey, friends, family.

Here is a poem from Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

Thanksgiving

We walk on starry fields of white
   And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
   We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
   To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
   Of pleasures sweet and tender.

Our cares are bold and push their way
   Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
   Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
   We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
   And conquers if we let it.

There’s not a day in all the year
   But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
   To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
   Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
   While living hearts can hear us.

Full many a blessing wears the guise
   Of worry or of trouble;
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise,
   Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
   To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
   To gladden every morrow.

We ought to make the moments notes
   Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
   Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
   As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
   A grand Thanksgiving chorus.

I don’t know if I will write again between now and Thursday, so Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksgiving prep: cranberry sauce

First of all a shout out to Great Jones cookware! I am a really happy customer and bought three of their pots/pans. The one above is called “Saucy“. this is the pot I chose to make my cranberry sauce in this year. I will also note that I am not a compensated blogger, I am just telling you about certain things because I use them, buy them, like them.

Thanksgiving is going to be a little more simple for us because I am waiting on another knee surgery so I am limited in what I can do and should do. So today I made the cranberry sauce and Wednesday I will make the stuffing and the sweet potatoes and then all we will have to do is heat those up. (Yes,I am not doing the stuffing in the bird for the first time ever.)

Cranberry sauce is not hard to make. And basically it’s one bag of fresh cranberries, one cup of sugar, 2 cups of liquid. Today I used orange juice, and I forgot to add the orange zest although I had an orange waiting in the refrigerator. I also added cinnamon and ground mace to taste.

I brought the mixture to a gentle boil on low heat with a lid on the pot. If you don’t have a lid on your pot or a splatter screen your cranberry sauce will end up all over your stove!  I will note that I did have a little lift to the edge of the pot so steam was able to escape. I have these little silicone things called lid rests which are made for this.

I did stir occasionally as the berries were cooking so nothing stuck to the pan.

When my mixture was brought to a boil I used my potato masher to mush the cranberries. I then added two little packets of Knox unflavored gelatin, and stirred and stirred until dissolved and incorporated into the sauce. I like my cranberry sauce to be a little bit jellied so that’s why I do this. However, I am not a fan of canned cranberry sauce.

I put my cranberry sauce into three jars, and when it cools I will tighten the lids and refrigerate. I do not do a canning water bath on these– I just cook and jar and refrigerate.

These three jars will take me through the holiday season. Thanks for stopping by!



do you believe in santa claus?

The photo above isn’t some random act of Google photo. It is my cousin Suzy visiting Santa Claus at Christmastime, in 1954. A full decade before I was born. A Philadelphia area department store Santa Claus. I am not sure which store.

I have many memories of going to see Santa and to pose for photos. Usually with my sister. I don’t remember us ever having individual Santa photos, we were a three years apart matched set with Santa.

Christmas was magical in Philadelphia when I was little. The Christmas Village at Lit Brothers, the Dickens Village I think at Strawbridge & Clothier, Christmas displays at Gimbels, the organ and Christmas everything at John Wanamakers.

We would go and visit things with my great aunts and then we would also have lunch in the Crystal Tea Room in John Wanamaker’s.

There was of course the year when I was really little and we used to have to do the Crystal Tea Room lunch also with my father’s sister and possibly her daughters as well. My aunts’ daughters were self-perceived Christmas perfect. Never a hair out of place. Also about as warm and fuzzy to me as an ice cube. I have forgotten a lot of our enforced togetherness. It was tough being a kid and knowing to your core they didn’t like you.

What I do remember was the year I accidentally dropped my chocolate milk in my Aunt Teresa’s lap. And she was wearing a white wool Christmas suit. OOPS!

When we went to the Crystal Tea Room I always had scrambled eggs and toast for lunch and chocolate milk. This one year I must’ve been playing too much with the chocolate milk and my mother told me to “drop it”. She probably wanted me to eat my lunch, but literal child that I was I dropped the milk all right… in my aunt’s lap!

Christmas in Philadelphia back then in part was so magical because of all the displays that were about the holidays and celebrating the holidays. They weren’t necessarily attached to specific items or displays of items to buy. It was just about the Christmas season. And you could call it Christmas without everyone freaking out.

Other memories I have include going down to South Philadelphia to my great aunts’ house on Ritner Street. And when I was really little they did the seven fishes. That was when my Uncle Pat or PJ as we called him was alive. He lived with his sisters, and none of them ever married although I remember PJ having girlfriends. PJ had a gruff and gravelly voice and when I was little I remember he used to tease me by asking me if he could have some of my Christmas presents, especially the dolls. My great aunts used to buy us these awesome dolls and I loved them as a little girl.

South Philadelphia was alive with Christmas lights and decorations. They would literally string the lights across the street. It was really pretty I don’t know if they still do that anymore but it was very magical as a kid. And they went all out on Christmas decorations. I found the photo above on Google and that’s what it was like. Streets strong with stars, candy canes, Santas.

My mother’s brother Jack and his family lived up in the Northeast. My Uncle Jackie also loved Christmas. I remember lots of lights and I swear I remember Christmas music being piped outside from the roof a la Clark Griswold and Christmas Vacation. I also remember one year my Aunt Connie taking ceramics classes and making everyone those vintage ceramic Christmas trees. I don’t know if anybody still has any of her trees but I remember they were pretty!

Now did you believe in Santa Claus? We did. It was a truly magical time when we were little and I loved it.

I’m sure my parents didn’t love having to wait until we were all asleep to load up everything under the tree but it was so awesome to come down on Christmas morning and see the presents under the tree and see the crumbs that Santa left behind from the cookies and milk we had put out for him. Of course there was that thing my father used to do – he used to use his non-normal writing hand and leave a note to us from Santa thanking us for the cookies.

In truth, I do remember some of the department store Santa Clauses being more scary than jolly. and while I believed in Santa Claus I never believed that those Santa Claus folks were real. But as a child I did like to play along when it wasn’t scary Santa sitting there waiting for us. Or the occasional boozy Santa who smelled like he had gotten into the Christmas cheer on his lunch break.

As an adult do I still believe in Santa Claus? No, but I believe in the beloved tradition of it all. I also believe how Santa Claus is part of a very magical season. A season of giving and miracles. I do believe in Christmas miracles.

Santa Claus is steeped in history. And thanks to the History Channel you can read all about it on their website.

Christmas is a really special time of year and even though it is highly commercialized I’m really glad that some of the traditions still endure. There is one Christmas memory that I wish I had actual photos for and I was really little. And it is the memory I am going to leave you with today.

When I was a really little girl, my parents had a red VW bug. That was the car they had so that was the car that used to get a Christmas tree strapped to the top of it. Our house in Philadelphia had really tall ceilings so it was easily a 10 or an 11 foot tree that would get strapped to the top of the Bug.

I remember one snowy Christmas as a little girl and I’m thinking it was the Christmas of 1969. They bundled me up and I went with my father to pick up the Christmas tree. I remember going through the snowy dark streets of Philadelphia down to a railyard. I’m guessing around South Philadelphia but I’m not really sure. I remember people buying trees as they were pulled off the freight cars. It was snowing too.

This will always be one of my favorite Christmas memories and I’ve never forgotten it. As a matter of fact that is part of the reason why I bought a couple of Christmas ornaments that were mercury glass a couple of years ago that were VW Bugs with little Christmas trees on top. I also bought them because my husband loves VW Bugs.

Every family has Christmas traditions and Christmas memories. And part of the magic of the season is trying to keep these traditions alive as we go forward throughout our lives. Yet we have to adapt them to our living circumstances today. I will note that I still to an extent put ornaments on the tree the way my father did. From size, to shape, to really special ornaments last.

Next week is Thanksgiving, and then after that we are full court press into the Christmas season. Don’t just make it a race to the finish line, actually take a minute and enjoy the magic. And go see Santa Claus.

Thanks for stopping by.