Friday, December 26, 2008
Well, today is another day after Christmas and we are preparing for our Christmas get together which is taking up our quiet time that has been a tradition for the "day after."
Since the children left home -- and I often felt bad for my mom and dad after all their children were gone -- we do very little to celebrate Christmas. I'm sure it was the same for my mother and father. And while I always called mom on Christmas, I knew that they probably hadn't even decorated their home.
My children have their own families now, and we have ourselves. But we try to get together with each of the famlies either singularly or as a group.
This year, while we met with one family alone, the other two families will be joining us for a big party. We're looking forward to it and the noise!
The first year he was back from Kenya, he bought out the store and gave me so many wonderful things -- a new coat, a sweater, several pieces of jewelry, and some gloves -- fur lined. He over-spent, and was a little short for second semester at Rutgers that year.
Then, a bad gift year, was the first Christmas after we were married. I, of course, was wanting something romantic. He got me a trash can with matching bread box and a vacuum cleaner. Now, we really needed these things, but I did not consider them good Christmas presents because they were needs not wants.
But after my sulk that Christmas, he got the message. After that year, most of my gifts were jewelry, because I love jewelry, especially sterling silver. And now, it's time for me to pass on those gifts so lovingly given to me to my children and grandchildren, which is a tradition I started several years ago.
Now Alan doesn't like Christmas. Except for what he has given me over the years, he's very much like Scrooge and has a real bah-humbug attitude about it
Well, this year he gave me The Complete Jane Austin -- hard bound with gold leaf printing and on the page edges. I have started the first one -- Sense and Sensibility -- but didn't get too far because frankly I had too much else to do today.
So, I wanted to let you know what my great present was this year. And believe me, I really, really wanted that set. I love Jane Austin.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Next, I need to mention another tradition that my daughter, Cyndi (whose child Ellie is) and her family have. They have 5 children and for the last three they have waited until Christmas morning to find out what the sex of the child will be.
Well, child number 6 is due in March and we found out this morning, because today is Christmas after all, that they will be having a BOY! They must have gotten up really early because my dear daughter, Cyndi, called me prior to 9 a.m. and I was actually awake.
I was not particularly waiting for the call, because frankly, I forgot that they were opening the envelope this morning, but I'm glad I was up.
One of my husband's and my tradition is to have roast duckling on Christmas day, and today's feast, prepared by me, was very, very tasty. I have already made duck soup with the left overs and we will enjoy that for the next couple of days. I might freeze some of it, but I don't know how duck soup freezes, as I have never frozen it before.
So, my last tasks are to finish wrapping presents in prep for our big family Christmas party. I'm really looking forward to it.
Last -- I watched for the first time ever The Christmas Story a story about a 8 or 9 year old boy who wants a rifle (bee-bee gun) for Christmas, and his mom doesn't want him to get it, and how he finagles his parents, well, his father, into getting it for him. Frankly, I found the story boring, but the "sets" were wonderful.
You see, the story is set in a small town, not unlike Runnemede. And it is set in the late 40s/early 50s -- the time when I was growing up. And it was very nostalgic. You see, the kitchen is not unlike the kitchen in which I spent so many hours growing up. Same refrigerator, same kitchen sink, same counter top. And the bathroom had the same sink, same medicine cabinet with mirror, same light over the medicine cabinet, etc. And the wainscoting in both the kitchen and the bathroom was just like what we had in our home, including the color of paint. I watched it twice, just to make sure I didn't miss any "scenery."
Well folks, Christmas Day 2008 is over, but it was a pleasant day, and Christmas Eve was as well. I'll discuss that next -- a little out of order, but I have to, because of my wonderful husband.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
NOTE: The top picture is the children horsing around, and that is Toria, not Cyndi. Then the other two pictures are pictures of Cyndi's family room tree and the fireplace.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Who is Rachel? She's the daughter of the wonderful woman that God has provided to us to do a bi-weekly clean of the house, and then do my grocery shopping for me. This provision has saved me this month. And Rachel is her 18-year-old daughter who loves to decorate for Christmas, so she went into the attic and picked and chose the best of my decorations and spread them around the living room. I was insistent that ALL the snowmen be put out. However, there is still one box of snow-people -- a whole village, including a snowman doll house -- which I can't find, and is still buried somewhere in the attic.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
But I have another confession to make -- am I about to die or something with all these recent confessions about my most well-kept secrets? God knows.
The confession is this: I LOVE, ADORE, CAN'T WAIT TO SEE, FIND IRRESISTIBLE, and am MADLY PASSIONATE ABOUT Christmas movies. Most of them are not worth the time I take to watch them, but I don't care. I love them.
This year has been especially full of Christmas movies. They are on the Hallmark Channel, the Lifetime Channel, ABC Family Channel, Oxygen, and who knows what other channels. Anyway I had been overdosing on these movies.
The dilemma has been when there are two on that I haven't seen before. What do I watch? Well, I bounce back and forth and hope that the commercials are scheduled at different times so I can get the gist of what's going on in each movie. I'm hopeless. I'm just a couch potato who loves Christmas and those stories.
Do you know how many Scrooge movies there are that take the three ghost theme and are set in modern day? Some really mean and nasty person gets the visits from the "ghosts" and wakes up and all is well with the world. They haven't miss Christmas, and "God Bless us Everyone."
Well, so far I've counted 8, and I'm sure there are more that I haven't seen, and maybe have skipped because I don't want to see another "Scrooge" movie.
I have to say that I do enjoy the movies on the Hallmark Channel, and Lifetime has some pretty good ones, also.
So where is this leading. Well, at our community party the other night we played Christmas Trivia, which my table was very good at, mainly because I had seen so many of these Christmas movies -- and let's not forget the Children's cartoons -- I veg out on those too -- and was able to answer most of the questions asked of the audience. I miss the one about Rudolph having antlers, even though everyone said male reindeer have antlers, it depends on which cartoon you see with Rudolph the red-nose reindeer whether or not he had antlers, so our table, all having seen the same cartoon, apparently, decided to say "no antlers." That was wrong!
But we did very well on the other questions.
So, while I veg out and waste hours and hours of time (while I am not walking) on these movies and cartoons, something good came of it. Our table had the most answers correct overall. So there!
I was determined that when I had a daughter-in-law, I would try real hard to get close to her and treat her as a daughter. And I really think I have. I love my daughter-in-law -- and it's hard for me to write "daughter-in-law" because I really think of Amy as my daughter.
She and I get along very well. If there is a problem between us, I don't see it. I love her to bits and she is really a lot like me (poor thing).
First and foremost, we both love my son, Phil. And Phil found the best wife ever and she is perfect for him.
I made a comment at dinner tonight, and Phil was so pleased. I had made as part of the dinner, mashed potatoes, and they were lumpless, but I didn't think they tasted all that good. All I said was, "Amy you make such good mashed potatoes, I wish I could make them as well as you do." Phil beamed. But Amy does make the best mashed potatoes I've ever tasted. And she makes several other dishes much better than I -- ham for instance. I just don't make a good baked ham. It is always dried out, and tastes yucky.
I know Phil remarks about my cooking to Amy and I hope she doesn't harbor any inferior feelings about her own cooking. We all have our nitch. And men always think their moms were the best cooks ever. My own husband wishes I would bake like his mom. Not gonna happen, not in this lifetime. I hate to bake. I love to cook and experiment with sauces and gravies and reductions and vegetable dishes, but I don't like to bake.
So I learned to make the most awesome sandwiches in the world. And my husband likes -- no, he loves sandwiches. It's his favorite thing to eat. He could live on sandwiches. Now, he still loves the sweets, as the ladies in our community can attest to -- he always gravitates to the dessert table at community functions -- but he does love those sandwiches.
Anyway, here's to you Amy. I love you and am so glad you are in my family.
DTC - 13
Friday, December 12, 2008
When I was teaching at Bible Baptist Christian School I had the children learn this version and I was able to get a background tape of just the music part, so they could sing the words and the instrumental part was just the same as the record.
Listen to it, I think you'll really like it. Catchy tune.
Another tradition we had was listening to "Why the chimes rang". It's a two-hanky story and you can find it at: http://www.holytrinitynewrochelle.org/Why_the_Bells_Rang.html. Read it and weep with me.
Of course, there was "The Littlest Match Girl" which I tried to read to my own children every year, but never have gotten through it without shedding a few tears. And even reading it to my rambunctious grandchildren hasn't changed that, I still tear up when I read that story. Poor little thing. You can read that at: http://christmas.howstuffworks.com/inspirational-christmas-stories15.htm
So you don't miss any of my Christmas ramblings, I spent some time and went back and catalogued them under Christmas; holidays. That's only Christmas. The other holidays are not included. So, if you want to know what Runnemede was like back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s at Christmas time, and what our family the Drexlers did with the Sbaraglias read them. It won't take you long. And, please, fell free to comment.
DTC - 13
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Well, I was watching the first sound movie of that Christmas classic and found out something very interesting.
Lionel Barrymore was slated to play the lead in the movie, but he had an accident which paralyzed him and so Reginald Owen played the part of Scrooge in the movie, but apparently since he didn't have to do any walking in order to make the recording (vinyl record set -- 4 records, 8 sides) he made the audio recording.
I thought that was an interesting bit of trivia. I always picture Lionel Barrymore as playing Scrooge, but never saw him in any of the many movies of the book. And now I know why.
I wonder, does my brother Mark have this record, too? I know he has "Hatchie Melatchie." :)
MC in 15
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I will be attending a few grandchidlren Christmas presentations in the next 24 hours and hopefully I'll get some decent pictures. But, I may still not write anything on the BLOGs.
I have just too much to do right now, and BLOGging is going to have to take a back seat to the other things that are pressing.
I'll be back in a few.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Alan and I were watching the news this morning and the pundits were talking about how much homework children are given these days and that the time they have to spend on that odious task is not allowing them to be children in their "off hours" from school.
Home work for kindergartners is not something I understand or can comprehend. Why would a teacher require that a 5 or 6 years old do homework when they get home. Seems cruel to me. Are teachers afraid that the child will forget what they learned in the 16 hours they are out of their teacher's control? I don't think so. I mean that might be what teachers are afraid of, but I don't think they will "forget" what they learned that day in school. I didn't. My sister didn't. My brothers didn't. Well, maybe they did a little bit.
But my point is, give the kids some credit that they will retain what they have learned that day.
I was a teacher. And I know I've ragged on this before. But when I attended Runnemede Public Schools back in the 40s and 50s, I did NOT have homework. Not once! Never! It wasn't until I got to high school that I even knew what homework was, and then it seemed that each teacher I had was in a competition to see which one could give the most homework. And, if you didn't do your homework, you COULD fail the course. Stupid. The homework was never graded, but if you didn't do it, you got a black mark and were threatened with failure.
And when I was teaching, I always gave enough time in the classroom for a student to get his/her homework completed in class if they worked at it, plus they had the advantage of having me nearby if there was a problem with their homework. I remember doing math homework and not being able to do it because I didn't know how to work the problem, and then turning in an incomplete homework assignment, fearing that I would fair the course because I hadn't been able to work all the problems assigned. I'm feeling the angst I felt then as I write this.
So, I learned to read, write, and cipher without doing homework. There were enough hours in the day for the teachers to get into my brain, and my classmates' brains what we needed to know to go onto the next grade level. And, we had time for recess each day, and time for music, and time for art, although for music and art we weren't sent to another teacher. Art was part of our classroom experience, and music was a combined effort by one of the teachers with whom we combined classes to have a time of singing or play rehearsal.
Alan went to boarding school from the time he was 9 and he said that after 4 p.m. each day there was no more school work. That was the time for sports or reading or just being a kid and doing kid things.
So, I have to ask, when do children today get to do children-type things. If they have two to three hours of homework a night (which is what was reported on the TV, if you can believe that) when do they get to go outside and ride their bike. When do they get time to play a game of Monopoly? When do they get to play with their dolls? I mean if they are in school from 8 to 3:30, and get home at 4:00 p.m. Homework would go until at least 6:00 p.m. at which time it would be dinner time. Then, figuring dinner is over around 7:00 p.m. it's time for baths and then to bed.
I know that my younger grandchildren are in bed by 8:00 p.m. They have to be because they have to be up by 6:30 in order to get on the bus by 7:30 in order to get to school by 8:00.
And so the circle goes. Poor kids!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
For years I had the attic view for "out back". The window was at the top of the stairs and if I sat on the top step, I could look out the window and see far away -- no trees to obstruct my view. I could see our church, I could even see the church which was across the street from our church. I could see a ways up Johnson Avenue, and I could, of course, see several of the neighbors' homes -- the ones that lived on Clements Bridge Road. And, best of all I could see the rooves of the chicken coops that belonged to our neighbors. And, if the window was open I could hear what was under the rooves of those coops. Sorry, no pictures.
In the winter, because the back windows faced south, when it was a sunny day, it was a warm day. At Christmas time, dad set up a train platform on the porch. The back porch, being on the south side of the house, was lit up and warmed and that was our play room. The back porch was mostly windows.
Now, that view, being almost at ground level (there were six steps up from the outside ground) had an entirely different view than the attic view, but both were from a comfortable, cozy place.
In the summer, there would be a huge fan in the attic window so enjoying the view was not as easy as in the winter. From the porch you could, of course, see the church, and I posted that view in a previous rambling, I could see my favorite climbing tree, the garage, my mom's rose bushes -- of course all these things were visible from the attic window, but looking at the roof of the garage or the top of the tree is entirely different.
It's amazing that looking at the same place, from a different sea level abode, is so different.
How I wish I had some pictures of those views, other than the ones in my mind which is getting fuzzier the older I get.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The closest thing to the front door was the front porch, then the steps leading down to the sidewalk, the street, and across the street, Downing School. The school I attended for 4 years. I recall waiting by the front door for the children to line up to go into the school, then I would head over to school arriving just in time for school to begin. I really didn't want to play on the playground in the morning before school started, but can't recall whether the reason was I was shy -- yes, believe it or not I am shy -- or whether it was because I didn't want to get dirty before school started.
The piano was just inside the front door -- there was just enough room to open the door without bumping into the piano. As I mentioned the rooms in the small house were, well, small. So, as I sat at the piano, which was a daily occurrence for me as I was religious about practicing right after school, I could see the comings and goings on the street -- of which there were few, children playing on the school ground -- there weren't many of them either -- and the porch, where, if the weather was nice, my brothers and sister would be playing.
In nice weather the door was left open, and the screen door provided the view, rather than the beveled glass door which was shut during cold weather. I seem to recall that the door was open on the first nice day, usually in March, and left open, pretty much the rest of the time, until late October. The only time the inside door was closed was at night, when we were in "lock down" mode.
My dad was a stickler about locked doors. Why, he wouldn't even give me a key when I was in college for fear I'd lose it and someone would find it and figure out where we lived and break in. So, I had to pray that someone was home at any time I was away from the house and coming back to the house. I don't think I had to sit on the front porch very often waiting for someone to come home to unlock the door for me.
Since my mom and dad both played the piano, I think they were determined that each child would learn to play. My dear sister tried, but didn't get very far. My brother, Mark, quickly switched to trumpet, and I don't recall that my brother Carl ever learned any instrument. If he did, it was done after I wasn't home very much any more.
So my view from the piano was such that I could see and hear the street and it's sounds, and the street could hear the sounds emitted from the piano, good and bad. But it was another view from the multitudinous views I had from various parts of that tiny home.