Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Happy Christmas!

I obviously haven't been able to make blogging any sort of priority this month! Sewing, wrapping, decorating, baking, cleaning and a little bit of shopping (and partying) seem to have taken all my time and energy.  

One of Mom's ornaments from her and Daddy's first Christmas together, in 1945.

Added to that (and perhaps a blessing in disguise) our internet connection hasn't been brilliant of late.

I believe she painted the stars on this one.

Anyhow, the tree is up, the gifts are wrapped and ready, the house is as clean as it's going to get for now (which is to say it's liveable). 

Mom made a bunch of ornaments one year with styrofoam
balls, pins, beads, ribbons and sequins. They are some of Bill's favourites.

Another of Mom's creations.

We are leaving this afternoon to go stay with Simon in Chester and to see Simone before she goes off to Germany for Christmas with her family. 

This one has a paper top, owing to a metal shortage during WWII.
I may try cleaning these when I take them down...very carefully!

Helen has decided that Christmas Day will be spent at her house this year instead of the three kids and partners coming to us on Boxing Day after Christmas Day at their mother's. 

My friend Joanne made several ornaments and sent them to me,
one each year for several years, after I left Oklahoma.

Another of Joanne's.

And several more of Mom's.


Bill and I are sad they won't be coming to ours but as they get older and form their own families it was inevitable that arrangements would change. 

We bought this fella in Stillwater, MN (where my Grandma grew up) on our travels up there.

His reaction when I pull his string always makes me smile.

On Christmas Day I gather I will be watching the Queen's speech, which I'm excited about. However, it seems unlikely that Simon will be wanting to watch the Downton Abbey Christmas special, so I'll have to hope I can watch on catch up TV! 

This monster was bought at Harrod's when Bill took me shopping in
London one of our first Christmas's together.

We briefly debated about whether to put up our 8' Christmas tree but I decided if I didn't I'd feel like the Grinch stole my Christmas!  Putting of the tree takes hours, but I enjoy seeing my ornaments, like visiting old friends.

Another from Harrod's.

We also discussed whether to take our presents to one another to be opened at Helen's. I could list any number of reasons not to do that and since we always used to open our gifts, or at least most of them, before our Christmas with the kids, we decided to keep that tradition. 

From the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (Cowboy Hall of Fame, when I was a kid) in Oklahoma City. There's a cowboy hat somewhere around here...

I'm not sure how it will go, joining in with Helen's arrangements. I expect I can cope with just about anything for one day - and I promise to make a real effort to be positive, but if it's not much fun I would like to have something nice to look forward to when we get home. So we have planned to have a special meal and to open our presents on Boxing Day. 

From our first trip to Prague, many years ago.

We are invited for a meal with Bill's cousins the following Monday. My tummy almost hurts in anticipation, Chris is such a fabulous cook and she pulls out ALL the stops for these occasions. 

Then we'll gather at one of the neighbours' house for New Years Eve. We'll all go out to sing Auld Lang Syne holding hands in the street. Then we'll wander around for nibbles and music at a couple of other neighbour's. Sooner than most, we'll come home and crash.

We got this Father Christmas on one of the ferry rides to Amsterdam. I always think he's so lovely.

Working my way through these holidays always feels like running a marathon; it's very enjoyable but one wonders at times where to find the strength. I find the first week of January very satisfying, looking back on what we accomplished and even more, making plans for what the new year might hold. I like looking back and also living in the present, but mostly I enjoy looking forward in anticipation!

Happy Christmas (as they say here in Britain) and Best Wishes for 2015!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Grandmother's Birthday

I confess that I'm cheating here: creating a post and back-dating it. I've not posted here mainly because we were full of Thanksgiving preparations, hosting 30 people. It all went well - as it should do after nearly 20 years' experience - but there is always some hiccup or other. This year the pumpkin pies tasted good, but weren't very pretty. Never mind. Preparations also included a lot of sewing for the house, which I'll share another time. There is still a lot of sewing and crafting going on here for Christmas! 

My final excuse is that I'm full of cold. At least four people who came to Thanksgiving mentioned they had colds so I have no one in particular to blame. It's that time of year anyhow. We normally come down with something in January; maybe I'm ahead of the game and will stay well in January...fingers crossed.

Anyhow, Grandmother's birthday was a few days ago and she would have been...116! I'm thinking it's a sign of my own age when I can make ridiculous statements like that! I think one of the reasons why I love the interwar years is that they would have been the heyday of my grandparents, and to some extent of my parents, though they were born at the end of WWI in 1918. This Grandmother would have been 16 when WWI began (though the US didn't join in until three years later). She was 41 when the second world war started (though the US didn't join that one until two years later). 

I like to read both fiction and non-fiction relevant to the first half of the 20th Century and often calculate how old my parents and grandparents will have been, wondering how they perceived the events of their time. I think it helps my brain absorb the historical information I'm reading; and to enjoy the background information about the setting of novels.

I like my posts to have photos and I've used most of the ones I have of Grandmother, so I'll show you a brooch I have that belonged to her. I've no idea how old it is, but I'm guessing it dates to at least the 1940s. That is when she had the most money to spend and I certainly remember seeing it as part of her things from my earliest memories. There was a matching set of clip earrings, but over the years one has gone missing. 

I always think of it as green, but it's really more beige and brown, isn't it? Then again, carnival glass flashes is all sorts of colours. I once looked up those dull cream coloured stones to learn the name, but I've forgotten what I found...must do that again sometime, not in the middle of the Christmas season!

Can't say I wear this much: it's rather large for me, not in my best colours and I worry about losing it. Still, I take a lot of pleasure in seeing it each time I happen across it in my jewelry collection. 

Happy Birthday, Grandmother.