Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Christmas Past, New Year to Come

I think I may have to break down and buy a new cord to connect my camera with the computer. One I can tie a pink ribbon on and threaten Bill's life if he so much as thinks about tidying it away in some mysterious cubbyhole... Aha! Found it!! (in, I have to admit, a very logical place for a change.)

Moaning aside, I was going to tell (and perhaps show) you about our Christmas celebrations, which took place on Boxing Day. Bill usually works Christmas Day so that staff with small children can be off. His 3 children (and son-in-law) spend that day with their mother /in-law and so Boxing Day is more convenient for all.

I spent Christmas Day mostly in bed but eventually dragged myself around to decorate the Christmas tree. I was thinking it might be just about the most unloved Christmas tree I've ever had, and it didn't even get the full treatment. Simon noticed I hadn't put any icicles on it this year (those apparently being very American). I told him tough -- the tree got what it got and the house got the attention it got and there wasn't going to be any more done; I just didn't have the energy to spare. I didn't have a lot of patience either. There were a number of times when I found myself throwing and kicking things and swearing out loud, not part of my usual behaviour, thankfully, and certainly not in front of anyone! Still, I thought the tree and the house (well, the public rooms anyhow) looked mostly OK all things considered.

Even if the tree isn't as well dressed as usual, I did manage to get some of Mom's oldest ornaments on, the ones from her and Daddy's first Christmas together in 1945.

She always said at the time she thought they were horribly ugly, but of course they eventually became her very favourites, particularly this one with the paper top,

metal being in short supply during WWII. They are amongst my favourites as well, though I also like some of the ornaments she and I bought

together in the sales after her last Christmas,

also the ones she made herself one year,

and the ones made by my friend, Joanne.

I bought a couple of ornaments this last summer from the Oklahoma Cowboy Hall of Fame

(at least that's what it was called when I was a kid)

to put '2008' on. Sarah also bought us an ornament this year with the date as part of the design. I don't think we break many ornaments, though I have a box full of ones needing a bit of repair. It's just that having an 8 foot tree means that it is hard to have too many ornaments. Maybe next year I'll manage to get more of them on the tree (fingers crossed for better health).

I meant to ask Bill's kids, but forgot, whether they put up their own Christmas trees at their houses or not. It would be useful to know whether it's time to start helping them collect ornaments or not, for future gift ideas. My guess would be that they don't yet. I sort of think that's how I knew I was really grown up, when I started putting up my own Christmas tree in addition to enjoying Mom's.

Bill produced a wonderful Christmas meal as usual. We had ham, roast potatoes and parsnips, peas, some stuffing left over from Thanksgiving (and there is still more...), baby Brussels sprouts from our garden, and traditional 'Christmas pudding' with cream poured over it. I should explain that 'Christmas pudding' is actually a kind of very moist, rich fruit cake. Also, Buck's fizz which is orange juice mixed with sparkling wine.

Bill had intended that he and I should open our gifts to each other before the kids arrived, but then he decided his gifts looked so pretty in their wrapping, he wanted to wait so the others could see them. I have to say I was pleased with how his gifts turned out.

I hate the whole thing about buying Christmas paper, using it once and then wadding it all up and putting it in the garbage. I do manage to salvage some occasionally for re-use, but it's not part of Bill's mind set to do this. So I finally acted on an idea I had ages ago, at least part of the idea, which was to use fabric for wrapping presents. I found some floor length curtains at a thrift store for £1.99 in this shiny champagne colour that I thought would go well with any ribbon. I didn't think the texture of the fabric would have been very nice for curtains, but it made brilliant gift wrap, and really took to being taped. Where I didn't manage nice neat corners, I thought the fabric draped rather nicely.

I used ribbons from Rita's sewing stash. I tied most of the ribbons such that they didn't need need to be cut to open the present. The fact that Bill wanted to show off the wrapping told me it worked perfectly.

The gifts I received were mostly body lotions and books (both on my wishlist). Bill got sweaters and socks (store bought, but I'm planning on developing my skills in that direction). I knitted everyone scarves and baked spice cakes and bought some small kitchen utensil for each of the kids. One of the stranger gifts was from Bill to Simon. Simon wants to build guitars as either a hobby or perhaps a side business. His wishlist included bits of wood (specific types and sizes) and these odd looking things, which turn out to be vices sufficiently large to hug the width and sides of a guitar. I thought they looked rather like long-legged birds.

Tonight we are staying in and having a quiet but sumptuous meal at home. I've bought all the luxury items we could think of: smoked salmon, cream cheese (we love boursin, but apparently so does everyone else, as it was completely sold out), crackers, steaks, broccoli, vegetable salad, tortilla chips and salsa, a bottle of red wine. In short, probably enough food for several days of gluttony, not just one evening!

I've also put some black-eyed peas to soak over night. Tomorrow they will go in the crockpot with some bacon and tinned tomatoes for dinner. My mom always insisted that we have black-eyed peas on New Years Day in order to ensure good luck for the coming year. I really hated these beans as a child, and we had to agree that 3 were sufficient to ensure luck. Funny enough now I eat them several times a year, voluntarily and on purpose, even. Perhaps another sign of having really grown up?

I'm pleased to report that Bill and I are both slowly recovering, even it seems like 3 steps forward and 2 back. My main issue now is just getting the asthma settled down so I can sleep at night and allow the muscles around my rib cage to heal. I'm living on Hall's cough drops just now. Of course, those will have to be put aside to enjoy the smoked salmon, the chips and salsa, the cream cheese...


Anonymous said...

I am glad you are both on the mend. Last year when we had the ice storm and were without electricity for a week we thought that was a good reason not to put up a Christmas Tree. I worked just fine, there were no complaints because the "tree corner" was filled with presents. I like your idea of using material to wrap presents. If you didn't have the ribbon that would be the expensive part.

Shelley said...

If I didn't have ribbon, I would probably look at fabric strips from my sewing stash. I've used doubled and trebled lengths of yarn with some success. Ric rac, seam binding and embroidery thread also work well.

Rita's stash included sale purchases of gold/red, green/gold, gold and silver braids. I'm pretty sure they were on sale as she bought the whole plastic skein/bolt (whatever you call it). The paper wrapped gifts got bits of these braids for wrapping, but I'm resigned that those will not have been saved. I can't actually say where things went -- I've not asked yet...

I've also read that lengths of clear plastic make interesting ribbon and bows, but I've not tried that one yet.

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