Dec 25 2011

What we do for each other just makes the holidays! Driving all over to find just the right gift. Spending weeks trying recipes and planning menus. Hustling, bustling, phone calls, flight arrangements, driving for hours, new clothes, washing old clothes, knitting, sewing, cleaning, stringing lights, talking about the in-laws, smiling when they arrive and doing the happy dance when they leave. WHOA! What a lotta fun! It’s just amazing what we do and what we have done for us in return during the holiday season.

Although everyone complains about the commercialism
of the season, seems that most people have the loving
spirit during the holidays, for what’s it all about
if not for love?

The most endearing stories come about this time of year. And ones that are told for generations. Like the one I tell about my Dad. There was a tradition at our house when I was young that the tree arrived with Santa in the night after the kids were asleep. We went to bed and the living room was just like it had been all year. When we awoke, there was the tree with decorations and presents underneath, all the more magical because we hadn’t lived around it for a month.

It wasn’t until YEARS later I found out Mother and Daddy didn’t have the money to buy a tree. My Dad would go out after we were asleep, therefore, find a Christmas tree lot that was closing and get a tree cheaply. One year the cost was fifty cents. Then, even though they were probably exhausted, they spent all night decorating it so we would be surprised in the morning.

Too much of a good thing is just right!

When I look back over the years, dolls were such a big part of Christmas morning. Big dolls, little dolls, Teddy Bears and any other humanized animal shape you could imagine that could be talked into wearing clothes.  Little girls I knew loved them and loved all the accessories that went with them. That just made Christmas.  A new doll. When I was pretty little, I remember wanting a Betsy Wetsy, oh! so badly.

I could fill her baby bottle full of water, jam it in the hole that interrupted her cherub lips to feed her. Then, predictably the water would run out into her little diapers, so I could change them and start over, just like real life. My Dad had an Aunt Ishy, her nickname as I couldn’t say “Elizabeth.” Daddy told me to take Betsy Wetsy, recently fed, to Aunt Ishy and let her hold the doll. She was the fun Aunt and the one who would naturally let out a Whoop! when Betsy’s diapers became wet. And Aunt Ishy did not disappoint. She had had three sons, so being the only girl in the family, I was welcomed, even if my doll wet on her.

Then, I wanted a Revlon doll. I was fascinated by her fingernails that had nail polish to match her lipstick. I guess matching lipstick and nail polish would figure because she was made by Revlon. New dolls were definitely something to which to aspire. The latest and greatest were the object of envy by girls trying to keep up with other little girl Joneses.

Sporting a delightful deckle edge, this photo from the
1950s shows the importance of dolls on Christmas morning.

For all of us who grew up “back then,” there will always be something special about a new doll on Christmas morning. I know I get tingles when I think of how I felt. Why, I’m even reliving it right now. Always wanting to share, I have found a way for you to have the feeling as well. I want to give you a new doll on Christmas morning. Right here, right now.

Do you know Dolly Dingle? The forerunner of the Champbell’s Soup Kids by renown artist Grace Drayton, Dolly Dingle fascinated me as a child as my mother a folder of them from her own childhood. I have remained a devoted fan to this day.

So, here is one of my favorites, under your computer “tree” and wrapped to open by clicking on the image below.

Merry Christmas to each and every person who finds
this page! I hope all of your problems are little ones.

Click on the Dolly Dingle above to download a PDF for your own personal use.

 

(And fair warning. Don’t leave her alone on your
computer screen with any Christmas cake on your
desk. Look at what I saw when I came back into
my office. Whoa! Scary!)

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS
and the best of holiday seasons!

NaBloPoMo 2011



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Nov 23 2011

Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving brings back
many happy memories and creates many more!

Oh! How I love to think of Thanksgivings at my grandmother’s house. What a big deal they were as she was cooking for days ahead. She was a detail planner and carried off big dinners with clockwork precision. The menu was always the same because there was no way to improve upon it. Besides, everyone counted on it from year to year.

Let’s celebrate this woman’s efforts to provide the
perfect Thanksgiving, half a century ago. Where is she?
In the kitchen, of course!

My grandmother was also a great club woman as she loved to go to meetings and socially participate for the betterment of mankind. Most of her meetings were luncheons, so I remember that every meeting she went to, she would come home and recite the menu and describe the table with its tablecloth, centerpiece and place settings. She kept a hostess book, listing every gathering she gave and the menu presented. And, she kept track of what other ladies in Maryland were serving as well. So, I am smiling to myself when I recite my grandmother’s Thanksgiving menu here because the voice in my head, as I type it out to you, sounds just like hers.

Endless tasks accomplished with seemingly endless energy.
Where? In the kitchen, of course!

On a big table that was “U-shaped” and started in the dining room, ran out through the hall way and up into the living room, she served thirty people roast turkey with dressing, mashed potatoes, homemade giblet gravy, candied sweet potatoes, buttered kernel corn, big luscious pans of macaroni and cheese made with New York sharp cheddar, green beans almondine, homemade cranberry sauce, a relish plate of celery, pickles and olives, AND “Brown and Serve” rolls.

Lots of love on this Thanksgiving dinner table. Just
look how much is heaped in with those mashed potatoes.
And where is this loving cook? In the kitchen, of course!

They had to be “Brown and Serve” rolls, because they were the latest and greatest back then in the 1950s when each labor saving innovation was hailed as an additional blessing for which one should give thanks. I know my grandmother blessed the Brown and Serve rolls. She was the oldest girl of a family of nine children and had made many a pan of rolls, so buying them and popping them in the oven to brown before serving was a treat. Her delight and enthusiasm, as she brought the bread baskets to the tables, was infectious.

“What? Oh no! I don’t need any help. I’m almost done.
I’ll just be a few more minutes…”

The routine of it all was so comforting then. Not boring at all, like it might appear to this sound byte world we live in now. We knew who was going to be there, what we would eat, how wonderful the food would taste and, on top of it all, had the childhood luxury of thinking these Thanksgivings would last forever. We believed they would stretch out in an endless twelve month Thanksgiving cycle, connected like a string of cranberries from one year to the next.

The only problem was, of course, it didn’t last forever. Things changed, as they always do. The older people got even older and then finally weren’t with us. Then parts of the family moved away and some families broke up as the parents got divorced. But, I remember when that wonderful part of childhood, thinking everything was forever, was such a comfort in itself.

If I close my eyes, I can still bring it all back. Everyone is seated at the “U-shaped” table, laughing and talking, eating and getting full. They are all there and all I have to do is take my seat to start joining in.

How about you? Can you close your eyes and bring it all back?

I hope so…

Much love to you and please pass the gravy.

 

Giving Thanks

If you have an interest in this great book that has
outstanding reviews and is just mouthwatering to read,
hover your mouse over this link to preview:

Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie



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Sep 07 2011

This antique postcard has always reminded me
of Laurette and Julie.

(…continued from August 31, 2011)

Yes! It was true. I was reading an article detailing the passing of one of my favorite childhood friends, Laurette. And death is very final.  All of the good intentions I’d had about finding her, saying, “Hi!”, and sharing old times would remain forever unrequited. She had transited on to another place while I was left to think about it all. It was a real wake-up call that has not gone unheeded. I learned much from the whole process. That is, taking Laurette for granted all those years, that she would always be alive and well for me to enjoy once again and then finding out that the reunion would never happen.

Our lives are intertwined, whether or not we can see each other.

I couldn’t stand the thought of eternal separation. I search the Internet until finally I was able to find one of Laurette’s siblings. I called immediately and was not disappointed. By finally making contact with a member of the family I was able to find out about Laurette and also about Julie. What a relief to make a connection with someone who knew and loved those girls! We had a great talk and signed off looking forward to getting together. I was so glad I had found out about Laurette and reestablished a relationship with her family.

From what family members said, Laurette was looking to
her next existence, when it became time to pass over

I learned that Laurette was in fine health, but suffered from an unexpected freak accident. And this is where a second wake up call from her rang loudly in my head. I was reminded that each of us lives on the edge of the next moment, never knowing what may happen and never having our next day promised to us.  We must all be grateful and enjoy each moment as an unfolding miracle. Change, good or bad, can happen very quickly.

Routine things can become remarkably notable in a hurry.

Laurette was just going to drink a cup of hot tea, like any of us might do. No skydiving, no riding a motorcycle or anything out of the ordinary. But, she had an accident happen and it eventually proved to be fatal. The accident occurred on a Friday night.  By the next Thursday, after several operations, she slipped away, dying with her family gathered around.

Tulips for Laurette. I know that wherever
she is, it is always springtime.

The power of the human spirit was exemplified by my friend Laurette. She had the funniest sense of humor and wry smile that, when she locked eyes with me, always caused me to laugh. She had, although it never once became apparent, a congenital physical difficulty that most people don’t have to entertain. Never did she complain or see life as anything but a lark, for the years that I knew her.

(To be continued Wednesday, September 28, 2011….introducing Laurette’s Favorite Toy…a vintage pattern to purchase and print out.)

 

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a pioneer of death and dying discussions at a time in the 1970s-1980s when the separation process was not common public dialogue. Her powerful insights are not only comforting, but offer a change in reality perception as acceptance and integration of the dying processes are verbalized and even embraced.

If you are in a process dealing with the transitions
of life, or if you have an interest in in expanding your
understanding, hover your mouse over the link below:

Tunnel and the Light: Essential Insights on Living and Dying



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Aug 31 2011

They say all things are connected. I have found that to be true.

Life is amazing sometimes: the way things work, or don’t work or when they work, or how they work. For instance, when I was in junior high school, I was lucky enough to be friends with two girls who were sisters, Laurette and Julie. And they were amazing people, so much so, that I have always remembered them fondly, for what is now, almost fifty years.

In fact, while most other memories have faded, having lost their importance and receded with time’s advance, Laurette’s infectious laughter and Julie’s wry smile are easy to recall and respond to in kind. Whenever I think of those two girls, I can’t help laughing, half a century after the giggles of junior high lost moments. And because Laurette and I were in more classes together, we became closer and good friends.

Laurette and Julie were special because their family was special, and their family was remarkable, tied together by cooperative efforts to get along and get the best out of life. I was lucky enough to be included in the fun as Laurette, Julie and I became friends. It was a very special time in junior high school, which was 7th, 8th and 9th grade in the 1960s. As the years went by, those three years became even more special because Laurette and Julie both went to a different senior high school than I did when it was time. I never saw them again, although the memories of many outings, sleepovers and a week at the ocean were often recalled with pleasure.

Spring is time for housekeeping, inside and out.

Life just has a way of going forward, so, it was strange when I kept thinking of Laurette in the fall of 2010. I didn’t know why then and I don’t now. The fun we had together kept coming back to me and I wanted to find Laurette and Julie and say, “Hi!” I had done Internet searches before, never finding either one. I was determined that this time, I would sit at the computer and look until I found them. But, life was complicated in the fall of 2010 and so, I didn’t get to it. Thinking, “Well there is always tomorrow,” pressing matters came first and finding Laurette went to the back burner.

So, finally winter was over and with the exhilaration of spring, I decided to find Laurette, once and for all. I looked and looked, following many “Laurettes” on the Internet, none of them mine. But then! One day I was staring at the names Laurette and Julie along with the names of their parents and siblings. My quest was ended, I had found Laurette.

The problem was, the article spoke of her in the past tense. I was in shock. Could it be that Laurette had passed away?

(To be continued next Wednesday, September 7, 2011….)



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