Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone

   Yikes!   What a whirlwind!  We've had a busy two days, and I forgot to write my blog when I got back home last night.  I called my folks in Florida, and then called it a night.  We started our celebration this year on  Christmas Eve with my family.   We met in the afternoon for appetizers, and began to prep the dinner. We attend an early Church sevice together, then have our feast.  Next, we do gifts,  coffee and dessert before we're done.  All of this takes about eight hours, and there's even  some Patriots football thrown in for good measure. 
  Christmas day is spent with my husbands relatives.  Talk about eat, drink and be merry, we made the rounds!!  Dinner at one house, and dessert at another, and a Celtics game in the mix!  I love that we get to see almost everyone from both sides of our families.  The last place we gathered, there were ten kids under ten years old,  three dogs, and parents to match them all!!  I sat back, and took it all in...and just tried to hear a little bit of all the different conversations.  We look forward  to seeing the cousins from out of state,  and to see how much the kids have grown since we all got together last!!  We've been married for 35yrs, and a lot of these kids have grown up right before my eyes.  The "little cousins are now in their thirties, with kids in elementary school.  I comment about time flying, as we determine that something happening more than ten years ago, seems like just yesterday.
  I know that I'm lucky to live close enough to celebrate holidays together, and probably luckier that we all get along well enough to hang out for a whole day. 
You know the commercial...cost of gifts $$$, cost of gas and grocieries to make it all happen $$, the sound of twenty-five of my closest relatives laughing and having fun...priceless.....
All the blessings of this Holiday season.....Happy New Year.....Enjoy the week everyone..and the beat goes on....the beat goes on....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Red Hat Christmas Party

   I belong to the Red Hat Society, which is an organization for women over fifty years of age.   A California woman wrote a poem about getting to an age when she could stop worrying about what other people thought.  She mentions wearing colors she liked, even though they may not match.  That was something she would never do when her children were young, as it would totally embarrass them.  The poem talks about wearing her  red hat with her favorite purple dress whether others stared or not.  Years later there are thousands of chapters throughout the world.  We do always wear our red hats and a purple outfit, which means we ususally stick out in a crowd!  Our ages range from thirty ( a princess in waiting) to eighty plus!
   Each group has  it's own rules, and ours are simple.  We try to avoid discussing health, husbands and kids while we are out.  This means we focus on ourselves, current events, and just having fun.  We met at a restaurant in early December for our Christmas lunch.  We laugh and act silly because we don't have to worry about getting dirty looks from anyone.  My husband is grateful that I get to do chick stuff, and he doesn't have to suffer through it.  As always, we tack a little onto the cost of each event in order to support our charities throughout the year.  This year we raffled off a bunch of items, with all proceeds going to help others.  I wound up with a red hat ornament, and we all went home with a poinsettia plant. 
   The best benefit is the frienships that are made.  Many of us get together between events, which keeps the retired gals busy and involved.  If someone is lonely, they pick up the phone.  I think that anything that counteracts isolation is a really good thing.  I plan on staying active, and hope as I age,  I'm described as a "spunky old lady!!"   According to my folks, sixty is the new forty, and I'll let you know when I get there!!!   May we all be blessed with good friends... as always take what you like and leave the rest.....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Deck the Halls

 Our tree is up and the house is decorated.  I love the way it looks this year, but it always seems a little overwhelming before I get started.  All the cartons of snow globes, and totes of ornaments get dragged up from the basement, and stacked in the living room.  We are not hosting this year, so I've decided to only put out my favorite things.  I put on some Christmas music, and dig into the first box.   Before long, I find my special ornament that I've had for 50 years.  It's a Hummel, and I  received it as a gift when I was seven years old.  I get a little emotional because it occurs to me my tree tells the story of my life.  I hang the ornament that we got the year we were married.  Many have the years engraved, or photos, or places where we vacationed.  I have paper ornaments that Matt made for us in elementary school, as well as delicate crystal and porcelain ones.  I look for an angel or a figure that fills in a space perfectly.  My eyes tear up several times when I see ornaments that remind me of my mom, and others who have passed.  I work on my gratitude list, as I reflect on the good memories that my ornaments represent.  I sing along with the caroles that I know,  dance with the music, and finish in a couple of hours.  My heart is full of mixed emotions. 
  Over the next few days, I rearrange ornaments until I'm satisfied. It always about this time, that I start to wonder if next year's tree could possibly be as beautiful.  I smile and decide to just enjoy this year, and not worry about next year.  I also refuse to think about putting it all away in a few short weeks, because I know that my routine will be the same.  I'll put on some Christmas music for the last time this season,  and carefully pack things away.  Most likely, I'll sing,  shed a few tears, thank God for my blessings, and began to set my goals for the new year.  And the beat goes on...the beat goes on....have a good week everyone.....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Letters to Santa and our Yankee Swap

    Letters to Santa were always a big deal in our house.  We got the sales papers from the toy stores, and the sporting goods stores, and the electronic stores and looked for the best gift ideas.  Since we exchanged gifts with all the immediate relatives, we needed to provide a long list of hints.  I was always nervous about last minute additions to Matt's list which was kept on the refrigerator.  A friend of mine who had older kids,  told me to calm down and just try to enjoy it all.   She reminded me that Santa would bring what Santa would bring, and kids should be allowed to add to their lists until they went upstairs to bed on Christmas Eve.  It didn't matter that things like computers, and printers and cell phones were added at the last minute.  As a mom,  I loved to see my kid's eyes pop out of his head  when he got the gift he had wanted the most.  As he got older,  the quantity of gifts were smaller, because the gifts were bigger and more expensive.  I grew up one of four kids, and we could barely get into the living room on Christmas day.  I always liked having lots of stuff under the tree, so that was a big adjustment for me.
   My siblings and our families celebrate Christmas Eve together, and we total fifteen people before we add friends and cousins.  When the kids were younger, the room was filled with gifts, and that would make me happy!  Today, all kids in college or younger get gifts from everyone.   The rest of us participate in a Yankee Swap.  It makes life easy for the twenty somethings who don't know until the last minute if they can stay for dinner and gifts.  Everyone who brings a gift, goes home with a gift.  We determine a reasonable amount, and then all stick within that price range.   We each buy an item that we would like for ourselves, which means  there are the correct number of gifts for guys and gals.  We draw numbers, and then go in order.  Our game allows us to open a gift and swap with someone else who must take your item.  The higher your number, the more options are available.  Number one gets to go back and swap from all the gifts.  Side deals tend to happen after the game,  while we are having dessert.  After all, you may not be able to get on a plane with a shop vac! 
  Consider a Yankee Swap this year.  It cuts down on shopping, and you can even decide to swap yard sale items that cost nothing.  Be prepared, because it doe take some time, but it's a lot of fun when the right person winds up with the wrong gift....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on......