the last hurrah

Life got busy and sort of in the way and although the rest of the Christmas decorations have been put away for a while, I never actually took the Christmas tree down.

So today, I decided to bite the bullet and git r’ done.

I really hate putting the Christmas tree away. And because of that it’s probably good we use an artificial tree now.

I know there are people who keep Christmas decorations and Christmas trees up all year round. That I couldn’t do. I’m afraid if I did that they would start calling me Miss Havisham right out of Charles Dickens or something. Or sign me up for Christmasaholics Anonymous.

I am saying goodbye to my ornaments one by one. Like every year I swear I am going to put every ornament away perfectly and I know next year I will be telling myself I should’ve done a better job now in this moment.

Every ornament has its own little story.

The ornaments that came from my late father will go back into the boxes he had them in hopefully for one more year. The boxes sadly are falling apart and I know I am only going to be able to hang onto them for just so long. It’s not that I find the boxes of any great value, it’s just that it’s his writing on the outside of the boxes. So it’s a nice memory.

As I put the final bits of Christmas away I wonder if many years in the future whomever has my ornaments will love them as much as I do?

Perhaps to some that is a very strange and fatalistic thought. It’s just one of the funny things that my busy brain occasionally wonders. And I think part of the reason I wondered that is because of the vintage ornaments I have collected from estate sales and similar situations over the years. You can always tell when you’re buying an ornament if the ornaments were well loved.

OK well enough procrastination for me I have to finish up.

Thanks for stopping by.

saying good-bye to christmas…bit by bit

I really don’t like saying goodbye to Christmas. But it has gotten to the point as it does every year where the Santas and Nutcrackers seem to be staring at me throughout the house. It’s like they’re telling me it’s time for them to come down and go away into their bins until next year.

I started a few days ago by putting away the outside decorations. And then I began inside with the Christmas plates and linens. Everything back onto their storage shelves and into trunks.

Today the Santas went away. They always look so sad lined up ready to go into the bins. I am getting better at putting Christmas decorations away in a less haphazard manner. But next year I still won’t remember which decorations are in each bin. I swear it’s part of the decorating process!

Piece by piece, bit by bit. Deconstructing Christmas and bringing the house back to non-holiday normal. By the time all of the ornaments are put away I will once again swear I am NOT, NOT, NOT doing all of those decorations again next year….and then next December will roll around and I will do it all over again.

Until next year, Christmas, until next year.

ghosts of christmas cards past

This morning I slept much later than usual. So waking up was a slow, slow process from a deep, deep sleep.

As I waited for my French Press coffee to be ready I sat there on the sofa looking at our Christmas tree which sits in front of our bookcases. My eyes caught the glimpse of what looked like forgotten mail on top of books on a lower bookshelf. I got up and walked over to pull the pile out. (I have a habit of stashing mail if it’s lying around and people come over. It looks messy to me to have mail lying around.)

It wasn’t old mail, per se, that I pulled out of the bookshelf. What I pulled out was an old pile of Christmas cards tied up with a Christmas ribbon.

Ah yes, another habit of mine. I hang onto Christmas cards. People put so much effort into their cards. They are pretty, personal, and festive. The photo cards are people’s families caught in a moment in time. Sometimes it’s fun to see how everyone has grown, so I untied the ribbon to look at them once more.

These were the Christmas 2016 Christmas cards received. The first card which caught my eye, was one where the envelope had spidery Catholic school taught cursive of years gone by. It was the last Christmas card I ever received from my Godmother who passed away last Christmas Day.

That card had me in an emotional puddle immediately. Was it really a year almost already? She was one of my mother’s oldest friends. She is missed.

Next up was a Christmas card that was literally an annual production. Family friends whose cards often showed up closer to the New Year. When we were growing up, the cards were of the family in various landmark locations throughout the Philadelphia area. They are among my favorite cards because they were always among my favorite people

As the kids in the family, (who are essentially the age of my sister and I) grew up and started families of their own, the cards changed. The Christmas cards became a story of what everyone was doing via photos. Soon their children were also in the photos. I have saved a lot of their cards here and there over the years, they are among my favorites.

Another card which was in the pile was from a local woman I was friendly with for my first few years of living here. That was a card that sort of hit me with irony today because she was a woman who tossed me out of her community Facebook group over my opinions on development in Chester County. At the time she also sent me a note which sort of contained a play on words of my middle name that I didn’t bring her joy any longer. This person wasn’t terribly important to me in the grand scheme of life, and of course I wish her well in her life, but real friends don’t do things like that to one and other. Today I threw out her old Christmas card. There is no point in keeping it.

Another card is from a friend of mine who is an artist. I love her cards and they are a fun different card every year, created and illustrated by her.

My other favorite Christmas “card” is of course from our family friend Margery Niblock. But her cards are not cards they are woodcuts, and they hang on my wall. They never end up in a pile of Christmas cards wrapped in a ribbon. I wish I could show you this year’s woodcut but I’m not sure everyone has received theirs yet that she sends them to.

The rest of the cards are a kaleidoscope of images from friends and family. Kids, dogs, Christmas trees. With the photos of everyone’s kids, it’s like a journal of how they have grown up from year to year. I find those cards fun and very sweet to look back upon.

I do love all my Christmas cards that I receive, and next year I’m going to have to be a better friend and family member and actually get my act together to get a card out in time.

I have a lot of friends who are very creative and saving and displaying their current an old Christmas cards. I am not so original. Every year they end up with either a ribbon around them or in a Ziploc bag and I tuck them away. And every once in a while, like this morning, they fall out of a shelf or a place for me to look at again.

It’s wonderful to have Christmas memories. Even in the form of the ghosts of Christmas cards past.

Thanks for stopping by.

christmas magic

My friend Sara came over this morning. And either while she was here or before she got here someone else was here. And it’s the great Christmas mystery thus far.

Someone left me this beautiful bag with two of the cutest nutcrackers ever in the bag. There was no card, there was no note. It’s like my O. Henry Christmas magic moment.

Only I do not know whom to thank!

If you are my Christmas elf know that I love this present! It’s so awesome and perfectly Christmas!

See that’s the thing about Christmas: if you just believe these amazing things happen.

happy winter solstice

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

bag humbug monday


Bah Humbug.

There I said it. (And I will undoubtedly say this a lot before this post is over.)

No, not feeling so namaste today.  


Simple, I am wondering what is ailing people this Christmas season?

People are driving like maniacs and fighting over parking spaces.  It’s run over people season with a shopping cart inside stores. Truly, the back of my legs/ankles are I swear getting dents. Bah Humbug.

Today waiting to pull out of a parking space, I had to wait fifteen minutes to pull out of a space because this woman in a giant SUV just literally pulled up perpendicular to my parking space and two others and threw it into park and just sat there. For fifteen minutes.  Completely oblivious to me or anyone else.  I watched her in my rearview mirror…she was on her phone. Bah Humbug.

Today I stopped at Aldi in Exton.  The store was like land of the zombies.  It was a marvel watching a bunch of people completely divorced from their surroundings navigate the store with those giant carts Aldi has.  All on their phones.  Not looking at anyone or where they are going.  Staring at their phones, then  staring straight ahead in some cases with vacant stares…like true zombies of the apocalypse. Bah Humbug, zombie edition.

And don’t get me started on how you have to wait for someone to return a cart because it’s just a few days before Christmas and Aldi has all of their carts locked up!  Yes, you have to rent a cart for a quarter.  I wonder does Aldi know about the cart hack work around on the Internet? Bah Humbug, Aldi.

And then there is social media. Oy vey there should be a pill for this. But if there was a pill for social media welcome to bizarreville posts Donald Trump wouldn’t be on Twitter 24/7 would he?  Think he needs a squatty potty for Christmas or something? I mean there has to be some explanation short of aliens invading his body to explain some of the more remarkable Scroogesque tweets, right?

maxine-1But seriously, holidays and social media is not for the faint of heart. Take a recent personal experience as an example. I saw this wonderful recipe someone had shared on their cooking page on Facebook.  As in an open page where they share tips, techniques, and recipes.

So I shared a post.  As in the originating post and page showed clearly.  I did not say it was my idea, but that it was a great idea.  Others concurred that it was a great post.

Should be the end of it, right? Nope.  Along flies a comment that tags me and says that they hoped I did not share their private post without permission. HUH????  Private? It was on a public page so how is that private?  In an effort to understand what was going on because I clearly did not understand, I messaged the person to clarify that I only shared from their open page and provided attribution.  The response came back “I don’t want you on my page.”

Oh OK Bah Feaking Humbug.

Alrighty then.  Block.  I don’t need that.  I also did not do anything to deserve it.  Did I also mention I had been a good customer of their former business? I guess it was o.k. to take my money at the time, right? I know they liked it when I sent customers their way. Sad, but not terminal to me.

Also filed under Bah Humbug, I recently had the woman who felt the need to vomit cray cray comments on Christmas party photos.  Now she was not the only one who did that, sadly.  There was also the woman I liberated myself from quite a while back who likes to be somewhat questionable with the comments having to do with me to anyone who will listen. Double Bah Humbug with a side of cray cray.  I don’t pretend to be perfect or lead a perfect life, but they were Christmas party photos.  Not the lampshade-wearing-swinging -from- the- chandelier- swigging -from -a -bottle -of -Captain- Morgan type photo but a lovely gathering of close friends and family.

Then there is the Bah Humbug you file under no good deed goes unpunished. Or also known as what happens when you make the difficult decision to tell a friend how you feel about something and they truly do not wish to hear it.  Umm yeah, you kind of sort of asked me my opinion and well I had to think about it, I thought about it and now I am sorry.  As in I am sorry I said anything.  Sometimes you just need to not say anything.  That is a lesson I need to learn personally.  But if I didn’t care, I also wouldn’t bother.  Sort of a double-edged sword.

It’s like December has a giant holiday full moon all month long. People struggle during the holidays, yes I know but seriously, do they know real loss this time of year?  I know people who have experienced soul breaking losses this time of year and you don’t see them behaving like this.

I read this interesting piece on Bustle from 2015:

3 Weird Things That Happen To Your Brain During The Holidays By Marissa Higgins

There’s a lot to think about during the holiday season: Visiting family, making time for friends, and (hopefully) eating lots of home cooking. But if you’ve ever stopped to wonder what happens to your brain during the holiday season, you’re not alone! Researchers are fascinated with this very subject….Some researchers believe that not only do our brains actually change over the holidays, but they know what culprit is: Nostalgia. Essentially, nostalgia is a bitter-sweet love for what is gone, and a longing to return the past. And when you go home for the holidays, this isn’t the typical nostalgia you feel when you listen to ’90s boy bands on your way to work or watch Nick at Nite before passing out. In fact, therapists say you should basically “expect to regress” during the holiday season

And then this from Psychology Today in 2011:

Why Our Minds Make Us Crazy During the Holidays
“Surviving” the holidays may be more pressing than we realize. By Shawn T. Smith Psy.D

The first job of our minds is to keep us safe. The world is a dangerous place, and we were blessed with an abundance of neurons devoted to keeping us upright and breathing….There is plenty to be anxious or depressed about this time of year, but relationships seem to be the most common concern….There was a time in our history when being ostracized was as good as a death sentence. Perhaps because of that, our brains are wired to pay close attention to our social world and to sound the alarm whenever relationships seem unsteady.

…During the holidays, when society focuses on family and community, we can become acutely aware of ruptured or damaged relationships. Our minds can give us all kinds of pain in response to that heightened awareness.

Second, our minds routinely compare us to others. Staying in the good graces of the clan means imitating normal behavior…..


Christmas and the holidays can be hard.  It is a gloriously beautiful time of year, unless it just isn’t.  It’s the end of the year, so pressures mount. We’re supposed to relax and enjoy being with each other, but emotional and even financial pressures can exasperate people during the holiday season.

Then there are the people with memeories that only surface at the holidays.  Some good, some bad, some unbearable. We can’t climb inside their heads and make it better, sadly. We all have our own holiday baggage of one sort or the other and if we say we don’t at a minimum, we are lying to ourselves.

I love Christmas.  I have always loved Christmas.  But as someone who married later rather than earlier, I like it even more now. Why? My sense of place. I belong and I am loved. And I know it. My sweet man is the guy you can bake cookies with and who will watch Christmas movie after Christmas movie with me because he knows I like them.  Christmas is indeed being with the ones you love. (Which is why I need to exercise my Bah humbugs so they fly free and away from me.)

That is Christmas.  The together thing.  The family thing.  Christmas and the holidays are wonderful if you allow yourself to enjoy them.  Some people can’t.  I think part of what makes the holidays hard for people are the seemingly perfect lives they see flashing before their screens and mobile devices on social media.

And if these people are more alone than others for whatever reason, I am guessing the holidays can be horrible. I am sorry. Truly. But it’s not all bad.  Find the magic in the season.  It’s there. Some years you have to look harder, but it’s there.

News flash: the holidays will never be perfect.  And I suffer from this at times because I want the holidays to be perfect because I love Christmas.  It’s the vicious Bah Humbug cycle. We all want it to be perfect.  It’s not. It never will be.

Chill people.  We’re in the home stretch.  Bake some cookies. Watch a Hallmark Christmas movie.  Find your Christmas spirit.

Until then, Bah Humbug.