Christmas Public Service Announcement

We interrupt your frantic efforts to finish your knitting to pose this important question:  Have you remembered all the presents that were hidden away?  Is there anything still in hiding you haven’t wrapped?

There was almost a sad story here.  I assured DH that I had wrapped everything, and yes, would he please put the wrapping paper back in storage. Then, late this evening, as I was cross stitching and listening to podcasts on my MP3 player I remembered one more hidden gift!  That was too close!

There was nothing to do but go out to the garage and retrieve a roll of wrapping paper.  No one would have known, except that I have sacrificed my dignity to write this cautionary tale.

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”


My Santas

I collect Santas – but not little statues.  Mine are cross stitch charts, the Prairie Schooler Santa series.   The link will show you this year’s Santa, and if you click on the red years available at the bottom of the page you can see previous Santas.

I believe I have them all.  The first two charts were purchased from a cross stitch shop near my home and stitched as a Christmas gift for Mother.  (I was hooked!)  The shop moved a few miles away, and there I purchased the next two years.  That shop closed its doors, and for a number of years we made a pilgrimage to Accents in Stitches in Kenner, LA (near the New Orleans Airport) for the Prairie Schooler fix.  We generally made a day of it, and I typically purchased a year’s worth of cross stitch supplies.  Finally, we have a cross stitch shop in Baton Rouge once more, and the pilgrimage is no longer an all-day outing.

DH and I mused as we flipped through the collection this morning that the early charts were $1.  One year doubled the cost to (gasp!) $2, then the price hovered at $3 for many years.  This newest one is $4.  DH, as Patron of the Arts, says he’s good for the cost.

Dear Patron has made another valuable contribution to my collection.  Each year I present him with the current chart on a 5 x 7 card.  In due time he will scan it for me (after all, he knows I have many to choose from should I be overcome with an urgent need to cross stitch Santa).  Then I’ll discover on my desk, like an early Christmas present, the original chart and the scanned copy enlarged to full-page size.  They go together in a page protector and then the collection notebook.

It’s a great life!

Olives for Christmas

I mentioned in an earlier post that it isn’t Christmas without a jar of olives, and that there is a story behind it.  When I was little, mother’s brother, Bob, my “Unca Bob” was still in high school.  However, that didn’t stop him from giving some beautiful gift boxes to my mother.

Inside the large, beautifully wrapped box was a slightly smaller, beautifully wrapped box.  And inside the second box was a third, slightly smaller, beautifully wrapped box.  Three or four boxes later,  was the actual gift:  a jar of olives!

This gift-in-a-gift-in-a-gift… was given year after year.  Finally, when I was 10, there was a really large box at the back of the tree.  I mean, it was almost as big as a washing machine!  Although it had a tag addressing it to mother, she ignored it throughout the present opening.  Finally, Unca Bob couldn’t stand it any more:  “Aren’t you going to open your gift?”

“Oh, that’s just my jar of olives!” mother answered.  Since it was the last present “under” the tree, Unca Bob prevailed, and mother began opening the big box.  This year, there wasn’t a smaller box inside.  Instead, it was a kitchen utility cart, complete with a drawer for storing silverware.  The kitchen in our old house was very short on cabinets, so this was a wonderful gift.  Mother joyfully opened the drawer, and inside she saw…her Christmas jar of olives!

Now you know why olives were always served at our Christmas dinner.  If you have a hard-to-shop-for relative, feel free to wrap up the olives.  They’ll have a blast opening them, and you can have them with your Christmas dinner.

Mother’s Christmas diplomacy

When I was a child Christmas Eve was celebrated at father’s mother’s home,  Christmas morning we were at home, and late Christmas afternoon we went to mother’s family for Christmas dinner.  It wasn’t until after father’s death that I learned the true rationale, and the diplomacy involved.

Father was, at best, a stern man.  I could never watch “All in the Family” because Archie Bunker was too spot on.  Mother, on the other hand, was extremely intelligent, and had her own way of handling his temper and pride.  Take the Christmas celebrations, for instance.  Mother hated goose.  She said it was extremely greasy.  But Grandmother D. felt it wasn’t Christmas without a Christmas goose.  (Note that it was a Christmas goose, not a Christmas Eve goose.)  Thus, Grandmother D. was given the “honor” of having our first celebration, Christmas Eve.  Result:  I’ve never tasted goose in my life.

Christmas morning involved more diplomacy.  Father insisted that a large, specimin orange belonged in the toe of each stocking as a Christmas treat.  It was a big deal to get fresh citrus like that in the Midwest in the 50’s.  However, it was nothing like the oranges that have been developed today:  it was bitter and could be stringy.  If we didn’t eat the oranges, it would have been a big insult.  Mother to the rescue – she created a “tradition” of having ambrosia for Christmas breakfast.  Her recipe called for sliced bananas, coconut, maraschino cherries, oranges, and enough sugar to make it taste good.  We children cheerfully gave our stocking oranges for the cause, and peace prevailed.

Christmas dinner was lovely.  Grandmother Z would make a ham, scored and studded with cloves.  It would be surrounded on the platter with orange cups cut in zig-zags, and filled with whole cranberry sauce.  She served spinach souffle molded in a ring mold, and decorated as a wreath with egg slices and pimento strips.  The highlight for the children was her sugar cookies.  If you’ve seen the cookbook pictures of sugar cookies decorated with royal icing, Santa’s face painted in multiple colors, then you’ve seen something like her work.  The cookies that come in cookie bouquets approach her standards.  They were too beautiful to eat, but so yummy that we forced ourselves!

So, my friends, never underestimate the power of an intelligent woman.  If Hillary is half as good a diplomat as Mother, we’ll be just fine.