Tag Archives: Christmas

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

 christmas tree decorationsHubby’s family has a traditional midnight Christmas Eve celebration: Five hundred relatives ( OK, maybe I’m exaggerating just a little bit ), food-food-food, gifts for everyone, and gift exchange at midnight. So in honor of his family tradidion, I thought I would re-write


 ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (at our house)


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through our halls
Every occupant was busy texting, snap-chatting & making calls.
The stockings were lopsided and empty still
In hopes that Mom with goodies would fill.


The teenagers were nestled all snug with their phones
With visions of iPads, cash, and unlimited roam            
And mom in her yoga pants, and dad hungry to be fed
Had barely settled down for a long night ahead.


 When from the living room there arose such a clatter,
That everyone hollered from upstairs, “hey, what’s the matter?”
Away from the home office, ol’ Hubby did dash
Tore open the car door and stepped on the gas.


The streetlight on the asphalt of the dark cul-de-sac
Gave a luster of brightness to the car’s luggage rack.
Well, what did my questioning mind did I realize
But Hubby forgot a few gifts he just had to buy.


He’s a fast ol’ driver, still lively and quick
I knew in a moment he was playing old St. Nick.
More rapid than teens who vanish at the word “chore”
Hubby came back home and walked through the door.


Now  iTunes! Now Amazon! Now Best Buy! and Macys
 I have gift cards for anyone—see I’m not crazy!
Now let’s pack all the gifts into the car, no time to stall
It’s time for my family’s Midnight Christmas Eve celebration for all.

merry christmas


Christmas Breakdowns

No! No! No! This blog post isn’t about emotional breakdowns, but rather how very odd that

Another Christmas tradition. Broken ornaments!

stuff around the house suddenly breaks days before Christmas. Like your stuff knows you are spending money and don’t have the time or spare cash for a repair. ‘Tis the season…

Does this happen to you? Do your appliances or electronics or gadgets choose strategic times to break? My mom’s oven decided not to heat the day of her big dinner party. My  brother’s fancy car didn’t start after if was packed with 2 sets  of grandparents who were on the way to an important ballet recital. Coincidence?  Your stuff knows...

essential for central heating

Our heater broke-some plastic dohicky-thingamabob switch doodad (not the actual name of the part) that cost XXX big ones to replace. Forget that Southern California was experiencing a rare cold spell when it broke, but my parents were visiting from out of town. Hubby buys a few logs and attempts to make a roaring fire in the never-been-used fireplace. One jarring alarm and smoky house later, we have a picturesque crackling fire. The family room is warm–the rest of the

romantic & cozy

house is still freezing.

The next thing to go–the refrigerator water dispenser. It magically stopped working! Picture this: One Hubby, one teenage son, and one mom ( me) standing around the fridge  saying the same thing. “It worked last night.”

We open the freezer door and stare inside. (What we think we’re gonna see, I have no idea.) We’re baffled, because we can hear the mechanism when we press the button.

OK. We are intelligent people. Hubby pulls the ice bin from the door and checks the funnel. Nope, not clogged. We check the water filter. Looks fine. Hubby  pulls the fridge from the wall and we aim a dim flashlight into the corner. (Ah, there’s my missing wooden spoon.) Water line is not kinked. The hose is attached. I jiggle the hose for good measure. I tell Hubby to unplug the fridge to “reset” it–hey, it works with the computer! Hubby shakes his head but does it anyway.

Teenager informs me he will not drink “disgusting” water from the tap! I really, really, really hope he’s not serious. Next, he tells me he will have to drink beer with his dinner. OK—now I know he’s playin’ with me.

As a last resort, I order Teenager to get my blow dryer—he laughs all the way to the bedroom. I blow dry the coils in the back of the freezer for ten minutes or so. Teen says, “just call the repairman.”

Ah! Spoken with the cavalier attitude of  someone who never had to pay a repairman for something you could easily fix yourself.

Our attempts are futile. Until…

Several hours later, the water dispenser mysteriously begins to work again.  Crisis avoided! Extra stocking stuffers for all!
Except, there’s still a few days to go before Christmas.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
What have you had break before a Holiday or important event?

Oh! And why does everything break on the weekend?

blog ender 2

Feeling Grinchy?

All that shopping, baking, cooking, wrapping,and family-time can make even the most festive person testy. So, here are a few words you can use when someone asks “How are you?” without sounding too bah-humbug!

  • grinch-tastic!
  • grinchalicious
  • humbugity
  • scrooge-tastic
  • scroogin’ good
 Now you have a few great new words to explain your true holiday spirit.


Mary of Nazareth

It’s  Fab Female Friday and with only several days left before Christmas, I had no choice but to write about Mary, Mother of God. Icon. Saint. Legendary Jewish mother.

Naturally, everyone knows about the biblical Mary. The woman is an icon of epic proportions. Images of her are ubiquitous, and yet Anglican, eastern Orthodox, Islamic (yes), Lutheran, Protestant, and Catholic all hold different views about her.

With that in mind, remember this as I offer a few pieces of information about the Virgin Mother. Dogma and opinions vary!

WARNING: The following is non-academic.

 For scholarly information check out the University of Dayton’s The Mary Page, which has amassed the world’s largest collection of printed material about Mary
or The New Advent Organization, Catholic Encyclopedia.

And for all you Catholics out there, don’t forget, the Pope Tweets. His handle is: @Pontifex

A few non-academic Mary facts:

  • Mary is known by many names. Here are a few: In Hebrew she is Miriam; in Arabic, Maryam. She also goes by Saint Mary, Mother Mary, Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Bearer of God, Mother of the Church, and Our Lady.
  • She was born in the late 1st century BC and died sometime in the 1st centaury AD
  • She is identified in both the Qur’an and New Testament
  • Mary was engaged ( betrothed)  to Joseph at 12 years old ( this was typical)
  • Both Mary and Joseph were from the House of David and  from the Tribe of Judah. The genealogical aspect is fascinating.
  • The Angel Gabriel gives her the prophetic news during her betrothal.
  • Joseph is informed by an angel several months later—important, since there is no way he would have married a non-virgin.
  • Mary and Joseph complete wedding rites.
  • Elizabeth greets Mary as “the mother of my Lord.”
  • By order of Roman Emperor Augustus (Octavious- Julius Caesar’s adopted son), Joseph had to return to his home town of Bethlehem to be taxed (the Romans were tax-happy—but that’s another story).
  • Mary gave birth to Jesus at 13 yrs old and canonical gospels attest to her virginity.
  • Per Jewish law, Jesus is circumcised 8 days later.
  • A month or so later, Jesus is presented to the temple. Mary makes the traditional burnt offering for her sins and is thereby “cleansed.”
  • Months later, Wise men pay homage with their symbolic gifts The word Magi describes the Zoroastrian priests who used astrology. Note: Our word magic comes from Magi.
  • Gold is a symbol of royalty, kingship, or virtue.
  • Frankincense, an incense, is the symbol for a deity, or prayer.
  • Myrrh, an oil used to embalm, was a symbol of death, or suffering
  • The gospel of Luke mentions Mary the most—12 times. Matthew refers to her 6 times. John, twice; Mark, only once.
  • Mary is mentioned when 12 yr old Jesus stays to teach in the Jerusalem temple.
  • Mary watches her son turn water into wine.
  • She was believed to be present at her son’s crucifixion ( a favorite Roman death sentence).
  • Mary disappears  from scripture after she is mentioned  attending a meeting with the 11 apostles
  • Some  religions believe her physical body ascended to heaven after she died—her grave was found empty
  • Nobody knows exactly when she died: There are no records. If you do the math, Mary would have been 46 yrs old at the time of her son’s crucifixion. This was well past the average life expectancy of the time.

My humblest apologies if I got some information wrong.

There is a wealth of information about Mary of Nazareth. If you’re a reader of Dan Brown, you might wonder if, in fact, the Vatican secret treasure vault holds more information about this mysterious figure. Who knows?


Fab Female Friday-Mom

Mom shops for presents and wraps the gifts
Some of which, she can barely lift.
Mom buys the ribbons and the bows
Locates the misplaced scissors and tape, she always knows.


To the mall, to the store, and back again
Always careful about what she spends.
Shopping for deals
Cooking the meals
Stashing the gifts
Buying clothes that actually fit.


Baking the cookies, the fudge, and the pies
Removing the spot from off of dad’s tie
Mom roasts turkey, stirs the gravy, glazes the ham,
And decorates the house with Holiday glam.


Mom is Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves combined
A more loving heart, is impossible to find.
So give Mom a break and lend her a hand
Cause, you know she’s your biggest fan.
Merry Christmas, Mom
I love you!



Stocking Stuffers

They dangle from the fireplace, a motley collection of Christmas stockings collected over the years. Waiting…waiting…waiting for Santa Mom to fill them.

What if I don’t stuff them this year? Will my four grown children notice?

 ACK! Filling stockings means more stuff to shop for and buy. And because they’re older, the “stuffing” has gotten progressively more expensive.

 Ah!  I member the good ol’ days when I was young and thin and wrinkle free–back then, the children were content with cheap plastic toys. Now, ho-ho-ho, they  think a plethora of Visa gift cards, Starbucks, or iTunescards will be inside. As if!

 Christmas has changed over the years.

1.  No assembly anything. They do it themselves. Their eyes can decipher the 2-pt font directions better, after all.

2. No hiding gifts in crazy locations only to forget where I put them.

3. The smaller the gift the more expensive it is. Technology costs $$$$.

4. They (mostly) wait patiently to unwrap gifts. It was a joyous Christmas morn when we arose before the teens did.

5. Girl stuff costs more. Perfume, cosmetics, and lotions aren’t cheap.

6. My daughters always have a longer—much longer—list. Hubby says they take after their mom.

7. Links to gifts with size & color options are sent via email or text. “Just making it easy for you, Mom.”

8. They no longer total tally  presents. Although, I suspect they might do a cost analysis.

9. Unwrapping is prolonged. We joke, laugh, and tease… and the present unwrapping moment is stretched out….”Open it, already!!”

10. My sons are OK with clothes—but only if picked out by a stylish sister

11. Socks— “The good ones”—are appreciated.  The older my children get, the pickier they become about socks.

12. They comment on the wrapping, because now they know wrapping costs money too!

13. There is genuine interest in their siblings’ presents.

14. Nothing is broken in the first 10 minutes. Hallelujah! Do you hear a chorus of angels?!

15. They buy each other presents without my reminding, cajoling, lending them money, or driving them to the store.

16. They understand the cost & value of gifts.

17. They help prepare, cook, serve, clean-up dinner.

18. They are appreciative.

19. They will decorate the tree! 

20. Even better, they will undecorate the tree and haul it to the curb after Christmas

21. They take home all the goodies so I will not be tempted.

22. They bring wine, champagne, and beer with them!

So…what shall I stuff their Christmas stockings with this year?  A signed copy of my novel? ( I can hear their laughter now) A favorite treat? A gift card? Random do-dads? Mmmm. Since they all read my blog, I can’t say.

Related Links: Life & Laughter


Survival Saturday: Tripping the Light Fantastic

lightsIt’s THAT time of year! Time for Hubby to drag out the dusty boxes full of Christmas lights. It ain’t a pretty sight!

The photo you see is our neighbor’s light display!

“Honey, Our neighbor is STILL putting Christmas lights up!”
Hubby—who is not competitive at all ( cough, cough)— walks outside and waves to our over zealous, light-tastic neighbor. “This year, I’m gonna out light him!”
“Sure you are.”
“This year I mean it. I’m pullin’ out all the stops! I’ve drawn a diagram, bought more extension cords…”
Hubby proceeds to take down and unpack all the boxes labeled Christmas lights.
“This year, we’re gonna have the most lights!” He says while laying light strands across the yard.
The neighbor in question takes weeks to put up his lights. We have NO IDEA where he stores the stuff either—his garage just isn’t big enough.
Fast forward an hour…
“I can’t find the reindeer or the angel’s head. Think anyone will notice?”

Nah, no one will notice a headless angel!

“How does a  reindeer-sized box go missing?” 
I think I threw the reindeer out last year. Only its ass lit up—it looked so wrong.”
Last year, our teens had many colorful names for the booty-lit deer. Since this is a PG blog, I regrettably cannot repeat those hilarious crude epithets. They even made a song about it to the tune of Rudolph,The Red-nosed Reindeer.

Now, just so you know, there is NO POSSIBLE way my husband can compete with the retired (we think) carpenter across the street. But every year Hubby buys several more decorations. Inflatable Santa is his favorite. No assembly required.

This Saturday, Hubby—wearing golf clothes—tells me he will be stopping by the golf course on his way to buy more decorations.

Our Christmas light collection to date:

  • 3 boxes of semi-tangled icicle lights
  • 2 boxes of  blanket lights to throw over bushes
  • 1 inflatable Santa—who appears a bit on the ethnic side—Hubby says he’s tan.
  • 1 impossible to put together mechanical elves-on-teeter-totter
  • 1 angel with trumpet
  • a 5-ft lighted wreath that requires balancing on a ledge from a 2nd story window to hang—-Scary ( the precarious procedure used to hang it, not the wreath).
  • 1 snowman
  • As of 3 PM: one inflatable bear   

 I’ll try to classy the place up with a few poinsettia by the door.

Can’t wait to see what Hubby comes home with next.

Please, everyone, stay safe this Holiday Season.

website redendcap


The Holidays

“They’re  heeeeere.” The little girl’s voice from the Poltergeist movie comes to mind when I realize that dum-dum-dum—the Holiday’s are once again looming around the corner.

Now don’t get me wrong—I love the Holidays and as a teacher I get a few weeks off—but I would love the celebration even more if I didn’t have to:

  • Fight the crowds at the 3—yes, 3 maybe 4 if I go to the farmer’s market—different grocery stores at which I’ll drop lots of cash. “Celery and carrots will be cheaper at Costco than at XXX.” “The farmer’s market has those lovely gourmet vegetables.”   “XXX has better bread.” ” I can get a free turkey at XXX.”
  • Unpack, re-wash, holiday dishware and linens. “What do you mean we’re not using the Christmas dishes this year? Where’s the Santa tablecloth, mom?” These are the moans of spoiled children whose sad faces reflect their love of the traditional. ( yeah, whatever)
  • Unpack, dust, and decorate! Be gone Martha Stewart! I shall not gaze upon thy magazine covers of perfect wreaths, hand-crafted ornaments, and gourmet treats! I shall avert mine eyes and tarry not at the magazine stands.
  • one of several bins filled with decorations

  • Shopping, wrapping, shopping, wrapping, shopping for wrapping…

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Holiday Survival has become easier, as the children have grown older. Why?  I delegate! Nobody wants to help mom bake cookies? Fine with me, then we shall have no cookies—less sugary and carb temptation for me!

Usually a control freak, I learned the joys of assigning tasks that have since lost their festive spark. One son enjoys putting up the decorations ( he’s 19) and sometimes I  beg get my daughters to bake. As the years slip by, the easier ( but more expensive) the whole ordeal Holiday becomes.

A few of the Christmas-laden boxes filled with stuff

Quick story: Twenty two years ago, my first born came home from Kindergarten with my Christmas present. It was a 4- inch square box wrapped with Christmas paper. He told me not to open it, because his love was inside. I placed it under the tree, told him I would treasure it forever. Every year that Box of Love went under the tree. It was a tradition special only to me—or so I thought. Since that time, the box has become yellowed, the edges frayed, and the paper wrinkled.

Last year, my 27-year old son barreled through the door—fiancé in tow—and dashed to the tree.
“Mom! Where’s my Box of Love?” he cried. “I told Steffi you have it under the tree every year. I don’t see it. Did you throw it out?”
What? I never knew he noticed or even cared!
I pointed at several red plastic bins awaiting my attention in the foyer. “I haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m still unpacking the decorations.”
He gave me a dubious look.
I went through the boxes and low and behold—lifted the Box of Love from the container. With great ceremony, I placed it under the tree.
“I knew she had it,” he said to his fiancé. And with that, he waved goodbye and they departed.
I sat down and cried.

How do I survive the Holidays? One memory at a time.

Mom & youngest goofin’ off while baking

Postscript: My son’s wife is a kindergarten teacher. Guess what she will be having her students make this year??website redendcap