Thursday, December 16, 2010

JYC 16 gratefulness

What am I grateful for this holiday season? I am always grateful for family and health (or at least the medical care available to monitor health.) We have a warm home, transportation, the ability to send Heidi to college and talents to share.
All our needs are met.

JYC 15 visitors

We rarely have visitors. All of us are too withdrawn to invite people over and I am the only one that really enjoys visiting. This year we will visit Erin and Sean's home in Fruitport on December 21 to see Mike's family and Anna's family who are visiting from out of town. Christmas day we usually do not visit anyone but this year we have an invitation to the Krupiczewic's home for dinner. That will make it a little more special. The day after Christmas is our annual trip to my brother's home in Dearborn for the Guerriero side family. I also hope to get together with Steve's sister Mary and her family during the holidays.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

JYC 12 Christmas Past

Christmas past

JYC 10 Wrapping Paper

Wrapping presents is not much fun for me. It does seem kind of crazy to spend a lot of time on something that is just going to be thrown away. I don't care if the gifts would not please "Martha Stewart." She is not going to see them anyway. I do think that most gifts should be wrapped though. It is much more fun to open them if you do not know what is inside. I found great owl paper at Target this year and have been using it a lot.(because I like cute owls)

JYC 11 Christmas Trees

I remember as a child that our tree did not go up until a day or two before Christmas. We would go to the corner lot and choose a tree. That might happen a week or so before Christmas. Dad then had to cut the trunk evenly and put it in a pail of water outside. My mom liked doing this because the branches would start to open up after having been wrapped tight at the lot. We would pester our parents to put the tree up. Most all the ornaments were glass--we would add to the collection every year by going to Hudson's and choosing a few more. We always had an angel on the top--she was partly fiberglass so it was a little dangerous. Dad put her on first. Mom was pretty fussy about the tinsel and so we often let her do that part. Single strands only--no clumps.

One year the tree was so crooked it fell over a couple of times. Dad put nails in the wall and we tied it up so it would stay steady. That was kind of funny. I still remember some of the ornaments-little glass houses, decorated bulbs and the bubble lights (our favorite.)

As a grownup on my own, I purchased an artificial tree and that is what we have had every since. Steve was never fond of all the real needles that would get into the carpet and I am slightly allergic to evergreens. This means that the tree gets set up the day after Thanksgiving. Heidi loves to decorate it and we enjoy the tree until well after Christmas. A new artificial tree was purchased this year at Menards for $180. We looked on and off for many years, but finally Steve found one he liked.
It is very beautiful and with its all new led lights very sparkly at night.

JYC 13 Christmas Music

My favorite Christmas song as a child was Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Everyone could sing this song as loudly as they wanted and it never sounded bad. We also had the Gene Autrey record which was played often on our record player. Christmas music is not too bad. However, we really do not listen to it very much at home just because we rarely have the stereo or radio on. I purchase one Christmas CD a year--this year it was Glee's Christmas with a mixture of old and new songs. Now that Heidi is at college we don't even get to hear her choirs sing Christmas songs. Note to self: I think we should put on the stereo system more regularly and have more music during this time before Christmas.

JYC 14 Gift giving

Gift giving in our family is contained. We no longer draw names with the Schmuker family and give everyone in my family gifts. So for me that just leaves Steve and Heidi. Heidi is pretty easy, I know what she likes and she usually has an email list of her wants. The last couple of years that she is in college, the list has really shrunk even though some of the gift prices have risen. Steve is much harder to buy for, he really doesn't need much and without a hobby ideas are difficult. Christmas eve, we all roll dice and decide who goes first. After that we take turns opening our gifts to each other.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Traditions Dec 9

Traditions meant a lot to me when I was younger. As a child our family always visited the Ford Rotunda's Christmas display, had Christmas Eve with my dad's family and spent Christmas Day with my mom's family. I remember looking forward to all these traditions and anticipating Christmas morning so much.

As the family grew and children made their own lives, the big family celebrations began to ebb away. I don't even remember the last time I spent any time at Christmas with my mom or dad's families. When we were first married and engaged, our Christmas Days were spent at the in-laws in Kentwood. These were pretty chaotic and crazy events with too many gifts and too much commotion. Now Steve's parents are usually gone over the holidays so we don't see anyone in his family. Our little family has a couple of traditions for Christmas Eve. We spend some time at a local museum or at the Meijer Gardens. Steve makes spaghetti bake for dinner and we have that with garlic bread, sparkling juice and salad. After, we open our family gifts. Last year Heidi still did not want to give up Santa Claus gifts on Christmas morning so she saved some out to open the next day. We have attempted occasionally to go to church that night, but finding the services very crowded we usually do not try anymore.

I wish my Christmas season was filled with much more celebration and events.
Right now as I write this on Sunday morning, Heidi, Steve and the cats are all sleeping and I am feeling very alone.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dec 5-Advent Calendars

We had advent calendars sporadically as children. They were the paper ones with glitter and had little pictures behind the doors. We had to take turns opening the doors since we never had more than one at a time. I don't remember them being much of a Christmas item back in the fifties and sixties but I do remember that we liked having one around.

When Heidi was old enough, I purchased a felt Advent calendar from Lilian Vernon. It has little pockets on it with felt ornaments and you place an ornament on the tree everyday. Heidi has a little pattern that she does with it and the last two years she has taken it to college and then brings it back over vacation to finish up. I have also purchased Steve one from Starbucks a few years ago. It is made of cardboard and has 24 little drawers which you flip around each day. The best part for Steve is that it has a little piece of chocolate in each drawer. We have been using this for three years now.

I doubt that we will have an advent calendar at home when Heidi is living somewhere else. I know that day is coming and it makes me sad:(

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Perfection--Dec 4

I think I was able to let go of perfection a few years ago. It only took 50 some years but it finally happened. Now I look at Christmas as family time. I try not to have any expectations about how it will all work out and just try to enjoy the time. I hardly bake anything, do not do Christmas cards, we don't exchange many gifts so the stress is much reduced.

I think for many years my mother's unhappiness and moodiness at the holidays affected my feelings. It seemed to me that she never had a good time. There was so much cooking, entertaining, gift buying, package mailing and it seemed she did not enjoy much of it. She maybe would get a tiny bit of joy in her baking and giving but I didn't see much.

Every since 1972, I have had to travel to be with my family at Christmas. This can be stressful (Look at Dec 2 pages) but it is so much easier to not go if the weather is poor. I always think that other people are having more fun at the holidays. I don't know why and it has taken a long time to be realistic about this. One of the reasons I am doing Journal Your Christmas is to understand and enjoy the season more.

December 1 JYC

The winter weather--I have very mixed feeling about winter weather. On one hand I hate the cold and the snow and the terrible driving but on the other hand, snow is very beautiful. I love the way it covers up the landscape making everything white. Winters as a child were magical, we lived on the other side of the state and really did not get that much snow. When it did, we loved to play in it, sled (not too many hills though) and throw snowballs. After college, I spent two winters in Hawaii, where I learned that 40 degrees and rainy in a non heated house, could be very cold and damp. But I missed the seasons changing like they do in the Michigan. Since living the last 30+ years on the west side of the state where we get this lovely phenomenon called lake effect snow, I have learned a lot about the sparkly white stuff. Sometimes it is snowing like crazy just 10 miles away, sometimes we get dumped on with inches and inches of heavy wet snow which is difficult to remove and difficult to keep from getting very icy.

Today, December 1, it snowed for the very time this season. This is much later than we usually have snow (another sign of global warming perhaps). We had 5.5 inches of heavy, wet snow that caused a lot of slide offs and accidents. I had to cancel my trip to my monthly breakfast because it was too bad for me to drive. I hate that part of the snowy wintry weather. However, I will tolerate it because I live here and I need the changing seasons. I just need to deal with it better.

Friday, December 3, 2010

December 3rd

Wow. I got my Christmas present a few minutes ago--the cute little die cutter from Tim Holtz and Steve:) I am waiting until he comes home to actually open the suitcase box. I am excited to use it soon.

Today's prompt at JYC 2010 is about greeting cards at Christmas. We hardly get any anymore--a couple from family and friends we don't see much and the ones from businesses (I throw those away.) I have not sent cards for many years--no particular reason. Those days of long lists, addressing cards and stamping envelopes are in my past. I remember sitting at the kitchen table at 4750 Helen, helping mom with the cards. She had beautiful handwriting so we often were regulated to stamping and sorting. There would probably be about 100 of them. I think nowadays, people do not send cards because of the electronic age, the fact that friendships and families have been reduced in numbers and the cost. We also want to see that our work was appreciated and a card just doesn't do it. What do you do with old cards?? I think I still have a box or two to dispose of now.

I made 6 cards at the last crop I went to at Jolenes. After spending over an hour, almost 2 to make a single card--and not even knowing who to send them too--I decided that making cards really wasn't my thing! However, as I am going through old cards before I discard them--I feel a little sense of loss. Getting snail mail is always fun and seeing what cards appealed to people was always interesting.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter wonderland??

JYC 2010

Yesterday was December 1. Yesterday was our first snowfall. A lovely 5.5 inches of heavy wet lake effect snow. It kept coming all day and made roads extremely slippery. That means I did not go to the retiree breakfast in Standale and it meant I did not go anywhere! That's what I don't like about winter. The snow's beauty and the idea that nature is sleeping and resting up for spring is all about hope. Here it is very cloudy in the winter even if it is not snowing. Combine that with cabin fever and isolation is a recipe for depression. I am going to attempt to change that this winter. I am going to catch up on projects, start writing on a daily basis and get a handle on my stuff and housework.

I have lived where there is no snow and my heart yearned for the change of seasons. In spite of the hardships, winter is important for our states tourist business and for families to spend more time together.