Christmas Bomb (part 1, at home)

Good morning and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.

My teenager asked me to open her presents last night so I allowed it. Why not? She’s a teenager so it spares me waiting for her to get out of bed in the morning.

So I’m enjoying a cup of coffee, after trying to pick up all the wrappings, thinking about my friends far and wide that I miss.

My daughter bought me these lovely winter boots, which are nice and warm and toasty but I am very glad I don’t have to test them in snow today. She also bought me penguin socks and replaced the teapot she destroyed a couple months ago.

She melted a Le Creuset teapot. Really. She did.

Her main Christmas presents included a calligraphy set (she’s always commenting on how she wished she could make fancier letters) and a subscription box from Universal Yums.

Of course, there are some junky fun gifts, some candy and some activity books.

But I didn’t expect the fun that came from these three stocking stuffers:

Christmas Shenanigans

Scaring the Cats

Christmas Eve 2019

I started my Christmas Eve morning trying to make the house presentable for my mother’s Christmas visit, but I also treasured the silence and stillness of the house.

The teen got up early and finished her advent calendar…

The final window

My mom came down around 10, and the teen and I had made Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and some fancy break-and-bake cookies.

We exchanged presents and my mom left after about 45 minutes and took the teen to her father’s apartment. Apparently, he had intended to have my mom over for a tour and despite the fact that we’ve been separated six months she still hasn’t visited.

My day was pretty quiet. I did some laundry and loaded the dishwasher and tried to unclog the bathtub drain. At 2 pm, I realized I hadn’t really eaten so I ordered Dominoes.

I hung out with my three budgies (they do love to fly around my head) and watched two episodes of Jonathan Maberry’s graphic novel, now a series on Netflix: V Wars. I took a writing workshop with Jonathan more than a decade ago when he had just published his first (maybe two) novel(s).

The teenager just read my signed copy of Ghost Road Blues for her independent reading in English. She didn’t enjoy it. She then purchased his later book, Rot and Ruin, and devoured the whole tome in two days.

VWars definitely held my interest for the episodes I watched but I think I need to turn to something more uplifting for holiday viewing.

The teenager is with her dad and paternal grandparents.

She should be home soon. She wore her new dogs and cats in Christmas hats sweatshirt, complete with blinking lights. We opened that gift on Saturday when my friend and very talented nail tech Beth came over to see my tree and have some wine and cookies.

The teen’s ugly Christmas sweater

Holidays often bring a lot of anxiety for me, and this year has had its moments. But sometimes you just have to remember to be kind to yourself and do what seems right for you and your family.

My last push toward Christmas

Today I made my final attempts to flood my heart with holiday spirit.

My daughter visited my office on my lunch break and played some impromptu carols with my office mate, George, and I really think they should rehearse and take the show on the road, at least to local nursing homes.

Euphonium meets Accordion… Silent Night

Then the teen even had a little accordion lesson thanks to George’s good naturedness.

Accordion lesson

Later we picked up the teen’s boyfriend and went to the Winter Lights Spectacular at Lehigh Valley Zoo. We gambled for candy (and lost).

We played a giant game of chess.

And we exchanged some small presents. (All of which have been eaten.)

Presents under the lights

Then we stopped at Sonic, another source of nostalgia for the teen and came home.

She never was very good at standing still.

Tree Trimming Party

Once we got our tree together we had a small gaggle or friends over to decorate.

We ended up with three trees: the real tree, the mini tree of the teenager’s special ornament selection, and the “Who” tree, our artificial tree decorated like a tree from Whoville.

The wines I reviewed earlier:

Wines from the Tree Trimming Party

We even invited some neighborhood dogs, Buddy and Sobaka.

Highlights:

  • The teen’s childhood Christmas compilations including the ones where she sings are still adorable.
  • We lost some of the tree lights and couldn’t find them until the tree was lit.
  • Dark chocolate hummus is very tasty on raspberries.
  • My big dumb cat Oz is always a party favorite.
  • It’s fun to have mismatched wine glasses
  • One second you have plenty of brownies and macaroons and the next they are gone.

And no Christmas tree is complete without a spectacle of putting up the star:

The Debut of the Disco Star

O Tannenbaum

It’s a few days overdue but I finally have a moment to share our adventures with getting a tree.

I wish I could remember how it came up at home but I realized we’d never had a real tree at home in my adult life.

I also realized I had a teenager very adept with a saw.

So why not? Why not get a real tree?

The teenager thought it was a fabulous idea.

And then my friend Gayle suggested we somehow tie the tree to the roof of my 2015 Jetta. Now my Jetta May be a used car, but she’s my baby and I’ve had her less than 13 months.

I am not shoving a tree in her.

But my dad came through and on a rainy 50-degree December day we headed to the tree farm. I believe it was AJ’s Landscaping.

My daughter and my stepmom perused the samples.

They opted for a Frasier Fir and into the field we went. In the rain.

We find what seems to be the perfect size, width, height, shape for us and the teenager asks, “how do I cut it?”

“You get down on the ground and cut,” I tell her.

Cutting it Down

She does a magnificent job. We pay the cashier $37.10 for this 5′ tree.

And they bail it. This excites her.

The Joy of Bailing

We take it home. And set it up… part 2 to come.

Trimming the tree (and soft debut of our living room)

I think I’ve stunned my friend Gayle, whose known me for more than 20 years.

My new burst of holiday spirit is of concern to her.

The teenager and I worked really hard this week to prepare the house for our tree-trimming party last night, an informal tradition meant to counterbalance my anti-Christmas energy.

We really needed a few more days to finish the painting and what not. But life doesn’t always accommodate. When you plan a gathering, especially at the holidays, you can’t shift the date because you only got one coat of paint on the walls.

The featured photo in this post is my neurotic habit of dissembling the taps and soaking them in hydrogen peroxide before a party and scrubbing the caulk with an old toothbrush before a party.

This is going to be a mini-blog entry. An introduction. Because I’m behind on blogging.

Last week I attended the Hess’s nostalgia day and toured the Hollywood costume exhibit at Allentown Art Museum. I would love to tell you about that.

And then show you how the living room is shaping up.

And then tree trimming.

So stay tuned. My goal for today is to do several loads of laundry, update my budget book after getting my nails done yesterday, buying wine, and purchasing a tree. That reminds me! Add wine review to that list.

    Allentown Art Museum
    Living Room
    Tree Trimming
    Wine review from party: Apothic Sparkling Red, Rib Back (from Western Cape South Africa) and Franklin Hills Cake

Holiday cards

I’m not a fan of obligatory cards.

I recently hand-wrote a note card to a friend who’s also my employee whose dog had died the night before. I’m a writer, so I feel like cards can’t express what I can.

My mother, on the other hand, lives for cards. Whatever the occasion, it’s never complete for my mother unless a card is in the mail.

Which brings me to holiday cards. And be warned: I am probably expressing a very unpopular opinion.

I don’t like Christmas cards.

I feel the same way about Christmas cards as I do about Facebook birthday greetings. They aren’t genuine.

People who drop a note on your Facebook wall or send a holiday card often make no effort to stay in touch the rest of the year. Why bother now?

It’s okay to fall out of touch with people. Lives change. Circumstances change. I respect that some people feel the need to remind other people that we are all connected.

But how many cards will I get this year addressed to my soon-to-be ex-husband and I? So far, one. And it’s my first Christmas card of the season.

I have a lot of friends who call once a year or even every other year, but I just can’t feel good about exchanging cards with everyone in my address book just because it’s December.

Magical minor steps toward Christmas

Yesterday the teenager and I got the paint for the next phase of our living room remodel: the chalkboard paint accent wall. We were surprised to learn the paint store could make any paint chalkboard paint.

I got some Opalhouse accents from my room and bought a white fluffy “husband” pillow from Marshall’s and now the little green loveseat couch is super cozy.

So in my featured photo, I am wearing my new sassy Santa skirt also from Marshall’s and taking my turn on our new couch.

I am getting my Christmas tree next weekend and hosting a trim-the-tree party.

We have a week to clean house and get the living room done.

Christmas Traditions

My daughter and I are rapidly approaching the six-month-mark of being our own household. The strangeness of being the only parent in the house and the absence of another adult is starting to feel normal.

My feelings about Christmas

(Cultural Appropriation)

I can’t remember a time that I’ve been a fan of Christmas. It’s a holiday that emphasizes Christian hypocrisy in my mind, especially since most Christians don’t understand the manufactured nature of the holiday as stolen from pagan traditions to convert the masses into Christianity when the religion was new.

Most Christians I’ve been exposed to don’t understand the symbolic nature of Christmas and truly believe Jesus was born on December 25. They also don’t see the mixed message of celebrating a man they revere as an example of how to treat others and to behave in a ethically and morally decent way by saying a different mythically being breaks into your house to give you presents in an ostentatious display of hedonistic greed.

Christmas was always, to me, a blatant display of society’s preference toward the socio-economically privileged.

But I digress…

Making new Christmas traditions

This is my first Christmas in ten years not working retail. This is my first Christmas in my life where I have decided to build my own traditions and consider what I want instead of meeting family expectations.

So I’m working on it.

And after all these years of being a Christmas curmudgeon, it feels good.

I’ve always loved Christmas music. I already enjoyed Tuba Christmas and Small Business Saturday in downtown Easton.

(See more about that day and my visit with my friend Grinch here: The Christmas Season has launched.)

I also dug my Christmas socks and sweaters from storage. They were a mainstay of my Target career.

Three Christmas sweaters.

I wore the first of my Christmas sweaters yesterday. Meowy Christmas: worn with my colleague in mind. She has three cats.

As I hoped, she loved it.

On Wednesday I wore my Grinch shirt with my blazer to a holiday mixer of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce (at Stoke in Downtown Easton). I ended up posing with Chamber officers in front of the Christmas tree.

I love my Christmas socks.

But I still digress…

This was supposed to talk about Christmas and my daughter…

Advent Calendar

Neither my daughter nor I ever had an advent calendar so we bought one at Lidl today.

But hey, I’ve babbled enough… I’ll just share the video:

Advent Excitement