Archive for December, 2012

Ghosts of Christmas Past
December 20, 2012

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Then to Sears- and we ran smack into Santa Claus, so we had to have a small chat~ Mom

Being one of six children meant that I didn’t often have one-on-one time with either parent. There was always a sibling or two along for the ride. I can recall some specific occasions when I got to go to a special event with my dad, but going someplace alone with Mom was unusual.

Recently, I looked back over Mom’s letters to see if I could find a Christmas kind of story. I found one that she wrote to her parents on December 9, 1959 about running errands with me. I was four years old. The older kids must have been at school, and Mary home with our housekeeper, Helen, whom Mary called “Lolly”.

We lived in New Orleans then, so this story is place specific. I wish I knew more about the shops that Mom mentioned, so I could go back to see exactly where they were. If you’re a current or former New Orleanian, I’d love to learn more about these stores (although I do recall exactly where the Sears was!).

Here’s what she wrote:

“Carol and I made a day of it last Friday- we really toured this town. First stop was a large furniture store ‘out of the high rent district’ – and I do mean out! Saw parts of N.O. I hadn’t dreamed existed. Carol had fun looking at toys, while I started the ‘carpet survey’…

Our next stop was the French Quarter to seek the doll hospital. Carol recognized several places we’d been to the other day, and when we finally found the shop (which was not at all where it was listed in the phone book), sadly we found that they didn’t fix jointed dolls (they just won’t stay fixed – so they gave it up!). That story has a happy ending, too, tho, since our Daddy just applied a good dose of all-purpose glue- and tho the young lady will never kick a football again, she’s very presentable- and Dee is charmed with her invalid.

Then Carol and I went by what we thought was a wholesale grocery distributing shop (we also thought it was right off Canal Street- but it wasn’t! Miles would be more correct!). Well, not only did they distribute, but it was a cannery, too- and nothing would do our salesman but that we take the grand tour. He gave a dime to Carol- and free samples of his wares- and she was enchanted!

We were starved by that time- so off to the Royal Castle for the best 16-cent hamburger in town. Our most interesting lunch companions were a jockey’s wife and two small daughters. Really got the inside dope on the domestic life of a jockey- unfortunately, she had no tips to offer, but said she’d bet money on a horse the day before that paid $65.00!

Then to Sears- and we ran smack into Santa Claus, so we had to have a small chat (I do hope I can find a pogo stick!). You’ll be pleased to know that Carol is now shod in red loafers for play and black velvets for Sunday- and everyone has new socks. Egad, it’s 11:15! Love and goodnight… ”

Mom also wrote about taking the Christmas card photo the weekend prior, and sending them to the printer. In a later letter, she talked about decorating the tree the week before Christmas. She and Dad always disagreed about when to do that… she wanted to have it up and finished early, but his family had always decorated it on Christmas Eve.

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Any young person reading this may be fascinated by how “things used to be” before the days of Google, Amazon and such. Yes, things happened at a MUCH slower pace then, and lots of that time was spent exploring, seeking and finding things. One might think it was a waste, but in this particular case, no, it wasn’t. My mom might have thought it was a chore to run all these errands, but to me, it was a real adventure!

(in case you were wondering, I didn’t get that pogo stick until a few years later, and it was one of my favorite toys ever)

pewperson will return on January 4… Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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12-12-12
December 13, 2012

121212Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. ~ Groucho Marx

For the past twelve years of the 21st century, we’ve experienced a yearly convergence of dates, beginning in 2001 (01-01-01) all the way to this week’s 12-12-12. This is the last time it will happen until the turn of the next century, 89 years from now!

Like clockwork, the local papers publish an annual article about how special the date is when it lands on a triple number. Over the years, many marriages have been planned for these unusual dates, and when a baby is born on such a day, it is a real cause for celebration. They are said to be lucky.

My dad was born on August 8, 1922. 8/8/22. He celebrated his 66th birthday on 8/8/88, and it was quite a party! But it still doesn’t beat being born on 8/8/08.

The reason I am dwelling upon this year’s triple date is that even after eleven and a half months of this year have already gone by, I am still having trouble remembering what number to write on checks or other forms which require me to note the date. I still pause and think, “wait, what year is it?”

Yet another aspect of this particular year comes to mind: when my niece, Susannah, graduated from middle school in 2008, the speaker lauded them accordingly, but warned them that few words in the English language rhymed with the word “twelve”. So good luck coming up with class cheers when they graduated in 2012!

How on earth did it get to be 2012 already, and it’s DECEMBER? Yikes! If it’s alien for me to write 2012 now, I’m really going to be sunk in 2013.

Time flies, no matter if we’re having fun or not. I guess that after all the years of writing years in the 60’s through the 90’s, I’m not very good at going back to the zeros, much less the teens.

So what rhymes with “thirteen”? Caffeine, chlorine, codeine, cuisine, morphine, latrine, machine, praline, silkscreen, soybean, and so on…

OK, here goes:

We love “your school name here” and we love caffeine!
We’re the class of twenty-thirteen!

Good luck!

That Certain Chill in the Air
December 6, 2012

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!~ lyrics by Meredith Willson 

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, all about family, food, gratitude and last, but not least, staving off the Christmas machine. As long as Thanksgiving is still in the future, I can ignore the earlier and earlier onslaught of Christmas reminders.

And so as we relaxed after dinner on Thanksgiving evening this year, the annual frisson of the impending seasonal madness briefly crossed my mind. Most women can relate to it. Basically, it’s an OMG moment of panic that there is SO much to do, and time is running out! Decorations, cards, gifts, parties, cooking, baking, wrapping etc. etc. must be done! And done perfectly, I might add.

That night I dreamed that our house was a wreck (as it was when we were doing kitchen remodeling two years ago) with things piled everywhere. For some reason the washing machine was in the dining room, and the workmen had sheetrocked over its usual connection to the plumbing in the laundry room.

I didn’t know what to do or where to start. It was just all too much, which is the way I feel about Christmas on the day after Thanksgiving. My dream was a total manifestation of my anxieties.

The only consolation is that every year I DO get it all done, step by step, one day at a time. But still, that initial dread comes to call, despite the wisdom that comes with age.

However, this year will be different because of something that happened on Thanksgiving night in our neighborhood. As we were returning home from the feast at sister Mary’s house, we saw bright red lights flashing from the next street over. My initial thought was, “Boy, those people sure have some bright Christmas lights going!”

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But they weren’t Christmas lights. They were emergency lights emanating from a fire engine. A house right around the corner had caught fire and was essentially gutted. Tucker and I walked over there with sister Camille to take a look at the damage the next morning. It looked like the fire started in the garage, then traveled up and destroyed the roof. Likely all will be lost.

My Christmas anxieties have now melted away after seeing the magnitude of the damage to the house. Those that lived there now have the daunting prospect of salvaging what they can, and starting over. Where to begin? I would not know what to do.

But Christmas? I can handle it. Step by step, day by day, little by little. It will come, ready or not! If I’m not ready, well then, I’m not going to let it ruin this joyful season.  My hope is that you will also not let your to-do list overwhelm you, so that you can experience all the joy that Christmas heralds.

Step by step, day by day, little by little. Christmas is coming!

(see the photo at the top? I’ve already got the outside lights up!)