Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Stories Yet Untold (Part 1 of 4)

Christmas Stories Yet Untold

Come, Little Ones, bring your chairs up closer, and you will hear stories never even whispered before. And now, while the bright-eyed young ones are settling around, you older ones may decide to honor that child you encounter who lives within you, the one inner spirit who refuses to abdicate the throne of wonder, delight, and vulnerability deep inside your soul.

Why is it we want our stories to begin with those magical words, “Once upon a time”?  Perhaps that familiar phrase allows us to dare to hope our story might also end with a “happily ever after.” No one, no matter how old, or savvy, or bitter, or broken, can resist the pull of a happy ending for our personal tale.

I have to pause right here and smile. It's hard to explain, but suddenly all my Christmas memories --- stories left to fend for themselves in this busy world of action, romance, and drama --- each of my tales has suddenly popped to attention. “Oh, pick me!” cries the remembered night of caroling and first kisses. “No. It's my turn,” pleads a Christmas Eve of stolen dreams that had to be returned the next morning. “Well, my memory should be the one,” laughs the crystal memory of a teenage Christmas shopping trip that suddenly detoured, then ended with a new collie named Jingles.

But my eyes meet solidly with “the one.” This is my memory solely through repeated re-telling. I know it as my father's favorite childhood Christmas. And yes, I do think it begins with “Once upon a time.”

Laughter, tears, and a tinge of anxiety set the mood for most mornings in the Miller household. It seems as if most families know of that one person who requires extra care, a tiptoeing upon eggshells, a concentration of caution in things said... and unsaid. I gather the father, George, was such a man. I barely knew my grandfather, but I can attest to his humor, to his laughter, and also to his petulance. Although he was a good man and my grandmother Iona loved him with all her heart, he was often a cause for tears, spankings, and unhappiness for my dad. It sounds as if Iona became the go-between, the peacemaker so blessed in the Beatitudes. Iona was indeed named correctly, child of God, and as my grandmother, her home held a happy, busy, and contented feeling. My grandfather loved his family and provided a good amount of excitement and drama in many ways. And so began December 24, 1933, my father's tenth Christmas Eve. He was nine years old.

The bacon twisted and wrinkled inside the confines of the luster-black skillet. Iona gave her cast iron a little shake as she turned and glanced at the anxious faces around her table for breakfast. Her eyes twinkled at the unnecessary worry. She laughed at their fears about Santa and the beginning snowstorm “I am pretty sure a Missouri snow will not faze Santa in the least,” she said, tipping the edge of her skillet to brown the last slice before flipping it onto a white ironstone meat plate etched with the fine brown fire cracklings of many such morning's effort.

Not reassured, Gerald turned to his older sister and asked, “Has it ever been like this before? On Christmas Eve?” Opal and Elizabeth turned to each other and almost as if rehearsed, they nearly shouted, “Oh, yes! We aren't worried at all. He will make it.” Iona twinkled at her older daughters, who were always so good to partner with her, creating a cozy home. Gerald decided to take the issue to the last word in the family, his stern and sometimes quick-tempered father.

Continued tomorrow...

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Party!

Whimsy and Hugs!

We visited a dear friend Saturday to see the wedding slides from the Summers wedding I attended. Her home was beautiful, and the meal, delicious!

Enjoy these next two weeks! Christmas is just around the corner.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Kitchen Cozy

I have nearly finished the decorations I plan to put out. For some reason, I just don't actually call it done! My kitchen has little bits of flair in nearly every corner. I'll pop on a couple more photos this weekend. My Pottery Barn three-tier tray holds little Lefton figurines from my childhood Christmases. These are the ones I have written about that Mom and I used to put across her mantel on snowy white cotton. She had a wind-up musical church that also lighted... and a little candle cottage. Then that night when my dad's headlights showed up at the end of our drive, we'd turn out the lights except the holiday ones... and we always hid to listen to him "be surprised." My dad did Christmas in a big way. It was a shock to discover later in life there were men who did not...  One shock of many. Just keeping it real.

A few (4 years) seasons ago I won this little Laurie Anna angel on an eBay auction. Mom did not care for her at all, and I just didn't get her out in a place of honor. I dried the orange slices one Saturday, so decided to go homespun on this little cabinet. The box on the wall holds beans and an old Farmer's Almanac. This was created by my Aunt Opal for my parents long, long ago, but I love it.  

I enjoy this pillow, but the nature lover in me says they could have done a pretty female cardinal for one of the birds.

My son recently bought this pretty 1970's Monte Carlo. It is so wonderful...in a retro sort of fixer-upper mentality. Have a lovely December!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Christmas in a Small Town

I made a tree for my son... heroes on the half shell....  TURTLE POWER!!!  The base was my dad's gumdrop tree!                                                                                                                                        

This was the weekend for our town's annual holiday festival. I usually sit with a friend at her hand made jewelry table. Lots of crafts and good friends everywhere. Outside we had a horse drawn carriage, some activities, a soup luncheon, and even a visit with Santa. It was kind of a Hallmark movie (without the snow or romance).

This patriotic quilt was up for raffle. 

Have a Merry Christmas. Still working toward a decorated house...  

Had two days of unexpected plumbers!!!  It's always something. Luckily my kitty cat never stops working...

Whimsy and Hugs!

Monday, November 27, 2017

'Tis the Season

Well, holiday baking and decorating is afoot. Even Callie has her own Santa bowls (even if they are the same all year round with the Santa face to the wall!!!

I awoke to the sight of some eyes staring down at me...

So luckily I ducked under the cover as she pounced down on the bed.

Our tree is a peppermint Christmas this year. I decided to go with a change from long-time favorite ornaments. I used both red and white lights on our buttercream tree...

Mr. Owl and Mr. Cardinal flew in from Jo-Ann's Fabric.com.... And the whimsical ribbons. 

I am doing a simple Christmas this year I think...  

I went for a little breakfast in bed this morning...  Toast and peanut butter and honey with Cranberry hibiscus tea...  Then I got busy creating lunch for a couple of hungry guys! Homey comfort foods sounded good today: Polish kielbasa with cabbage and corn chowder made with the corn I put in the freezer the first day of Summer from my sister/cousin's garden. It was a hit!

I love to freeze or preserve garden for us on upcoming holidays so I write myself little notes as I put them away in the summer.

On Thanksgiving we had lasagna. Just a rebel this year...  but we had the corn I had planned. 

Below are a series of pancakes, my attempt at pancake turkeys on Thanksgiving. Mom was a pretty good batter artist, always pouring up a cat or ghost when we had guests. I did not appear to inherit that talent!!!

I saved the best for first although it looks more like a duckie...

My son made a crack about this being a different kind of bird. I got the joke hours later!

I have no idea...

 Loch Ness Pancake...

Enjoy the final days of November. I will be back...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Party

A "few" years ago in the small town of Bevier, MO, a young girl of 16 awoke on the morning of her 16th birthday. This beautiful teen was excited to go to school and then end the day with her first big party, a Sweet Sixteen party at her home. The plans were made; the refreshments planned. It was to be a true celebration, not the usual "cupcakes for the class" she had experienced for her earlier birthdays.  Well, enter a series of unfortunate events, and her dreams for a party were banished. First, the date was November 22, 1963. For any of you history buffs, yes..  on that date in Dallas, Texas, our President was assassinated. John F. Kennedy died while this young lady was at school. Then on a much more personal tragic level, her own grandfather passed away that day, as well. Needless to say, the family cancelled party plans, and that birthday was memorable, but just not in the hoped-for way.

Fast forward through the years as this girl, Patty, had many private celebrations of her special day... but still no grand, planned event...  UNTIL SATURDAY NIGHT!!!

Oh, my goodness! We were invited to an Italian-themed birthday party to celebrate Patty's 70th birthday, and her welcome said it all, "This party is dedicated to my high school classmates and to my family and friends," she said. "It has been 54 years in the making!"  Let me say I would need all 54 years to get such an event organized, cooked-for, and decorated. 

My son took me and stayed the evening in the celebratory vintage building, bedecked with Italian colors, delightful streamers, and absolutely delicious and beautiful food. The place was full of laughter, friends, DJ sixties and newer music, played by one of her former classmates, and an array of Italian foods.

The table of cheesecakes, cupcakes, and bread pudding was stunning.

It is difficult to say exactly how many yummy pizzas they cut and served. She also sent home some pizza with a lot of friends and family.

Whimsy and Hugs!