I think for those of us that celebrate Christmas, whether in a secular way, a non-secular way, or a combination of both (like me), we can all agree that this year the holiday season is different.
Obviously, the reason it’s different this year is because of Covid-19. No in-person holiday parties like in years past. Worries about loved ones who may be alone for the holiday. The inability to travel and employment uncertainty.
Out of spite, as in “screw you, Covid-19, I’m not going to let you steal my joy”, I’m embracing this Christmas even more than I have in the past. Like it’s a life boat. Doing this, I think, is a healthy coping mechanism for these times.
We here in this house are gorging on all the Christmas movies. Not so much the cheesy, predictable, brainless Hallmark channel varieties (though they do certainly have their place). I’m talking the classics: “A Christmas Story”, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, “Elf”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Christmas Vacation”, “Love Actually” and more. The ones we all know the best lines to. The ones that fill us with a giddy joy and warm our hearts.
Our little townhome has been properly adorned with all the Christmas decorations inside and soon Hubs will be putting up the lights outside. We’ve even chosen to string multi-colored lights along the periphery of our living room and around the windows. We didn’t do this the previous years we lived here.
All of the Christmas cookies have been made to send to our loved ones in three different states. The presents have been purchased (online) and received. Names have been picked at work for our “Secret Santa” exchange.
Special desserts will be made. A drive through the local holiday light display for charity is happening this year.
One of my blogger friends, Crystal, wrote this lovely post which prompted me to read Luke. I was compelled by the passage in Chapter 3: John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”, to do a quick clean out of my kitchen cupboards to donate to the food pantry I now run. I think it’d be so cool if others did the same.
I’m determined to suck the marrow out of this Christmas season.
Who’s with me?
**Header image circa 1984 posing with a friend as Christmas elves/mannequins in the front window of Bonnie’s Clothes Bar**
My mom loved Christmas. This woman went all out each and every year. In spite of the fact that she and dad worked full time and then some, many of those years operating their own business, we always had a beautifully decorated (complete with fake snow from a can) Christmas tree, perfectly wrapped presents underneath it, and copious amounts of cookies and holiday treats to enjoy.
I think somehow her Christmas spirit has been infused into my being this holiday season. I sure am missing her a lot these days.
In honor of my mom and the sense of peace and gratitude I’m feeling this holiday season, let me tell you what I’m loving about Christmas 2019.
More than anything else, I believe that giving is the most joyful and soul-affirming aspect of the Christmas season. This year, I found myself purchasing my first Christmas present for a loved one in September. That is truly unheard of for me. I usually hit the Christmas present shopping hard at the start of December.
So when I purchased this one small present in a cute gift shop in Estes Park when my sister was visiting, I determined right then and there that I was going to proceed with intention and purchase items that I believed would make the recipients feel my love for them. I enjoyed the heck out of keeping my eyes peeled for extra special presents both in store and online this year. I am so looking forward to hearing the reactions from my beloved family about their presents.
Then there’s the giving in my workplace, where my primary duty is running the food bank. On a daily basis, I get to experience the joy of giving our aging adults good quality, healthy food. However, this time of year I get to give them even more! Like the stockings filled with snacks, toothbrushes, word puzzle books and other fun items, which are donated by one group each year. Like the gift cards donated to our organization from local municipalities. What a joy this is for me-and our clients. The other day, I witnessed one of our clients weeping with joy as she went through the large bag of goodies her own personal Santa gave her. She commented that prior to becoming physically disabled, she was the one donating Christmas presents to the needy.
I couldn’t not write about one of my favorite things in the whole wide world for this Christmas blog post of mine. Since I respect my Hubs’ low tolerance for the music of this season, I have intentionally created a Christmas music playlist that appeals to both of us. That way, we do not have to suffer through Chipmunks songs or what ever totally changed up in not a good way classic Christmas songs performed by artists we don’t know on the cable tv Christmas channel.
I have only chosen the “best of the best” Christmas tunes for this playlist. Our favorite favorites, if you will.
Michael Buble’s version of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas”. His 2011 cd titled, simply, “Christmas” is on repeat on my tablet this time of year.
Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka”. Hubs is learning this one on his ukulele as a matter of fact. I get a lot of enjoyment from singing along. The goal is for us to get good enough at it to perform it in front of actual people next Christmas!
Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List”. It’s Hubs’ favorite Christmas tune, which speaks to the kind of human he is.
“Sugar and Booze” by Ana Gasteyer (yes, from SNL). This is a new one discovered while watching late morning tv during our recent trip to DC. A new classic for sure!
“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. This song to me is so fun and festive! And it’s featured of course in my favorite movie of all time, which also happens to be a Christmas movie-“Love, Actually”. Check out this charming and fun video I just discovered of this song here: https://youtu.be/_IlZu9X9W_k
While in DC earlier this month, I caught the black and white Christmas classic “Holiday Affair”. It’s about a widowed mom of a 6 year old boy. She is proud of the fact that she works hard to provide him with a good life and they have a very loving and playful relationship. She almost marries Mr. Nice Guy but along the way falls in love with a salesman who has a dream of moving to California to build ships. Mr. Nice Guy’s name is Karl Davis. The salesman’s address is on Christopher Street. I feel like I was supposed to see this movie this Christmas season, on account of sharing the same last name with Mr. Nice Guy. And, big news here, on account of the fact that in the new year a cat named Karl (and his 26 year old human parent, aka Spawn #2) will be moving in with us. And our grandson (living in Wisconsin with his mommy, Spawn #1) is named Christopher.
Of course, there will be a viewing of “Love Actually” happening in this joint soon, along with “Four Christmases” and “A Christmas Story”. If we’re up for more Christmas movies, we’ll likely add in “The Grinch” with Jim Carey and, if Hubs has his way, “Bad Santa”.
FOOD AND DRINK
Let me just tell you one thing I know for sure when it comes to the food and drink of this very merry season: my own personal Esther is running the show. If you’re unfamiliar with Esther, here’s a clip of Wanda Sykes that will clue you in.
But back then, I was interested only in telling you all about how others were reacting to my own personal Esther (note to self: name your Esther!). Now it’s Christmas time and she’s in charge. My Esther is having the time of her freaking life right now. She’s sampling all the chocolates that her co-workers brought in to work. She’s conned me in to making extra Christmas cookies after I packaged and sent the 24 or so dozen we made to our family and friends, you know, because there are other people that I love here in Colorado that would enjoy them. She’s currently plotting how many cheddar bay biscuits she can consume before feasting on seafood at Red Lobster with Hubs for Christmas Eve.
What she doesn’t know, however, is that come January 1, she is going down. Wish me luck on that one, because I know that bitch is going to fight me tooth and nail!
When we moved into our townhome in 2016, we realized there was literally no good place to put up a regular, standard-sized Christmas tree. So while shopping at the local thrift store that first winter, we snatched up a table top version for a pittance. We had it up the first couple of Christmases, but this year we left it in the garage. That’s not to say we don’t have any sort of Christmas tree up; it’s just that the beautiful peace lily my wonderful in-laws sent me for my 50th birthday a couple of years ago looked so damned lovely sitting atop our occasional table and we just couldn’t bear to move it. So we left it there. Then adorned it with those itty bitty led lights and hung our favorite ornaments along the edges of the pot.
I personally love it!
I wish each and every one of you fellow holiday celebrators who read through this goofy, happy, and weird Christmas inspired essay a beautiful holiday. May you enjoy time with your favorite people, music, food, and cheesy Christmas movies and marinate in the joy that is this season!
Nowadays, home decor is all about the signs. Signs with pithy inspirational quotes. Signs with family names on them. Signs expressing the homeowner’s faith. I think oftentimes signs as home decor are overdone. It seems to me that the more signs one has on their walls, the less meaning they have. So I keep mine to a minimum for that reason.
This one is probably my favorite:
A foray into Google images for signs led me to some more amusing and in some cases, disturbing signs.
Like this one:
So many questions here….walruses can jump? And exactly how does one determine the sexual orientation of a walrus? And what does the walrus’s sexual orientation have to do with the fact that it might jump up and drag you under the water to be feasted on by a gaggle of hangry walruses?
Um, no thanks Hardee’s.
This is the sign that I will hang in our future cabin. I find it to be quite motivational.
This would make me shake in my boots for sure (not)…but I’m also super curious about what is behind this door. I doubt I’d be able to resist the temptation to exit through that particular door.
TMI dudes…and you should really get that checked out!
Apparently, beans and cabbage are on the menu in this joint.
Good advice, peeps!
Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Let’s hope to God that this isn’t the only dentist in town.
I took a picture of this sign on a trip with Hubs to Florida, because I thought it was hilariously awesome. I’d really like to know how one qualifies a a “fancy woman”. And exactly who decides who is a “fancy woman” anyhow? Cap’n Crunch?!
I present to you the owl I was hoping to make to display on my kitchen wall. I pinned this on one of those days last summer when I obviously had too much time on my hands. I thought it was cute and kitschy, and a great way to recycle those beer bottle caps I’d been saving.
This week, when I re-discovered this pin, I decided to actually read the instructions on how to create this spectacular work of art. However, there were no actual instructions.
But there was a list of items and tools needed for this project, which included the following:
Large metal lid-All my pot and pan lids are glass. May have to purchase used one at thrift store.
Medium metal lid-See above
Small metal lid-See above again. Duh.
Metal washer-I think those are little circular things used for stuff around the house. Check with Hubs.
Metal button-I ought to be able to find one around here somewhere.
Dessert spoon-What the fudge is this? Who has special spoons just for eating dessert? Not this broad.
Metal cutters-Ummm…not sure about this one..check with Hubs.
Vice-Well, my vice is chocolate. Not sure how that fits into this project. But I’m willing to try and figure it out.
Pliers-No dental tools in this house. Maybe Hubs can come up with something?
Hot glue gun and glue sticks-Now, I know for a fact I have glue sticks because I recently bought them to use on a far simpler project than this. But damned if I can find my trusty hot glue gun. Must make a run to Michael’s asap.
Cordless drill-Yay! Something I know we actually have in the garage.
Screws (optional)-I ought to be able to round a few of these up.
Slender tree branch (also optional)-We have plenty of trees in our neighborhood. Might need to get out the ladder to find just the right branch on the right tree though. Maybe Hubs will volunteer since I’m scared of heights?
Beer bottle caps-Certainly we have enough of these!
I would like my beautiful owl to look precisely like the pic I pinned. Which means I need green, silver, and white beer bottle caps. Problem is, we don’t necessarily like Heineken beer. We like craft beer, like what we find here in Colorado (though technically, Heineken is considered a craft beer, surprisingly enough). And our delicious craft beers do not all have green, silver, or white caps. Damn!
Hmmm…guess I could buy the estimated 18 cases of Heineken required and dump it down the sink. But what a waste of mediocre beer not to mention a huge waste of money.
Maybe I could find a neighbor who regularly drinks Heineken. I know 3 of my neighbors so far. The odds are not with me on this.
Oh, I could go and knock on all the neighbors doors, introduce myself, and ask them if they drink Heineken and if they keep all their bottle caps. I’ll explain to them my new art project and what it means to me. I’m sure they are all nice people and will help this gal out, right?
If that doesn’t work, then I could put an ad on Craig’s list or on the Next Door neighbor app, pleading for donations of Heinekin beer caps.
In celebration of our nation’s 241st birthday, Hubs and I attended our first “big name” outdoor concert (since moving to Colorado last year) at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater in Denver. We saw the band Train, with warm up acts Natasha Bedingfield and O.A.R. Now if you’re into seeing live concerts as I am, your first question is likely going to be “how was the show?” I’m going to answer that question first because the concert itself is not going to be the primary focus of this post.
The concert was GREAT! We weren’t terribly familiar with the warm up bands, knowing only a few of their songs from listening to them on Sirius XM over the past couple of years. But both were pleasant surprises. Natasha can really belt it out, and, as Hubs noted, she has quite a knack for “liturgical” dance. I commented that I’d like to hear her rendition of “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin. Her songs are very pro-female, melodic, and catchy as hell (like that earworm known as “Pocketful of Sunshine”). O.A.R. impressed with some really inventive reggae, jazzy beats and strong vocals. And then came Train. Spectacular, people! They played all their best songs (IMO), in addition to pairing up with O.A.R.’s phenomenal horn section for a supercool version of Paul Simon’s Call Me Al. Later on, Pat and the boys performed a stellar rendition of David Bowie/Queen song “Under Pressure”. Hubs and I agreed that this concert was one of the best we’ve ever seen.
As I alluded to earlier, I have more to say about this event-specifically about the people we encountered.
We got to the venue more than an hour before the gates opened, to improve our chances of getting the best spot on the lawn. We waited in line next to a chatty brother/sister duo. After shooting the breeze for a bit, the sparsely mustacheoed 19 year old brother asked Hubs if his name was Adam. When Hubs replied “no”, this kid said he “had to ask” because he thought Hubs voice sounded like Adam West, the original (and his favorite) Batman. His blond and dimpled 13 year old kid sister told us excitedly about how she recently attended ComicCon and got to meet Dustin from “Stranger Things”. She also shared that she was wearing a “kitty cat” headband because the ears on it were red, and she didn’t have anything else that was red to compliment her otherwise blue and white attire to commemorate the birthday of our nation. Together, the 4 of us talked about our favorite Train songs (hers was “Hey Soul Sister”, mine was “Save me, San Francisco”). What was especially notable about this duo was the sweetness of their interactions with each other. They had not known each other personally for much more than a year from what I understood. This is because as a tot, he had been adopted by another family in another state and had only come to know his birth family after his birth mom sent him a friend request on Facebook a couple of years ago. He shared that his adoptive parents told him he was adopted from the get go (as a mom, kudos to them). He told us that he told his mom he wasn’t sure how he should respond. But respond he did, because he now lives with his birth dad (a lanky tatooed guy who worked security for this concert). He’s now going to school for welding at a nearby college. These two kiddos playfully teased each other throughout our little conversation. What a couple of great kids, I thought to myself. Both sets of parents should be so proud.
Once the gates opened, we made a bee line to the grassy seating area. We made the decision to not lug our favorite oversized handmade quilt with us, knowing we had to park the car in the ramp, walk at least a mile to have a late lunch and a couple of adult beverages, then another few blocks in the sweltering 90 something degree heat to the amphitheater. Carrying a heavy quilt held no appeal for either of us.
In retrospect, this may not have been the best decision. We did get ourselves a plumb spot on the grass, directly in front of the fence overlooking the pricier reserved seats and stage. Unfortunately, the grass was quite wet and as I had no interest in standing for what ended up being the better part of 3 hours before Train came on stage, we plopped our arses down anyway. We spent the time people watching, which is a favorite pastime of mine. We saw millenials with their school aged spawn, seeking familiar faces on the lawn. We saw a younger couple with what was most likely a beloved aunt in a wheelchair, positioning her so she had the best possible view of the show. We saw middle aged couples dressed in their best summer attire holding plastic cups of beer while searching for their seats. We saw amped up little kids with goofy headbands festooned with sparkly red, white, and blue ribbons. We saw numerous middle aged men wearing hawaiian shirts (like Hubs, who has insisted for years that he started the white American male hawaiian shirt trend back in the early 90’s). We saw asian-americans, hispanic americans, mentally disabled americans, LGBTQ americans, older americans, younger americans, african americans. Essentially, we were amidst a sea of American humanity. Which was fitting considering this was the 4th of July, right?
We interacted two more times with the brother/sister duo. The first was prior to the warm up acts. They walked past on the walkway below us and stopped over. They were hungry and complained to us that they couldn’t find anything to eat except hot dogs, and they wanted nachos. We didn’t know precisely where the food vendors were, as we had had ourselves a pretty generous lunch about 2 hours prior, but we suggested they head on down to the area close to the nearest entrance where it seemed it would be more likely they’d find what they were looking for. The boy offered his hand and introduced himself as Nick. He remarked, “maybe we’ll see you again someday” which I thought was terribly unlikely but so very sweet. We saw them much later, as Train was singing their last song prior to the encore. They were presumably leaving to meet up with their dad for the ride home. They waved and smiled enthusiastically at us. The revelation I had in that moment was we have entered a new stage of life where we are not necessarily the fun party-hearty concert going supercouple anymore. Instead we are the couple who random kids look to for guidance and support. We might as well have the word “parent” stamped onto our foreheads. And that’s ok.
In all honesty, I was going to gripe about the worst of humanity that we encountered during this concert as well. I’ve decided however, to not go down that road, because Mr. Drunkjerkface who chose to squeeze himself in front of me during the encore and proceed to glance over at me and shake the living hell out of the bungey corded fence thing so that I no longer wanted to stand there and jam out deserves my attention on this post as much as Donald Trump does for his asinine tweets. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Now for some pure unadulterated humiliation (you may need to rotate your viewing device for this-sorry!)…..I present to you a clip of a woman who shall not be namedbut in her defense she is 50 and technologically inept at recording part of a Train concert that is why you don’t see Train here. But at least you can hear them.
While I do believe that Wisconsin and Minnesota are truly where my heart lives, and the hubs and I envision moving back to one of those states at some point in the future, I am good with life in Colorado. We moved here last summer, from what we referred to as our “Grandma House”, a simple ranch with beautiful hardwood floors, a great backyard and sweet 3 season porch, to a more modern 3 bedroom townhome smack dab between Denver and Boulder. Upon returning to our Colorado home last Friday after the most emotionally challenging 9 days of my life thus far (spent with aging parents in Minnesota), I have newfound interest and energy for sprucing up our townhome. The fact that the hubs had professional painters come in and paint our downstairs walls (which houses a small living room, dining room, kitchen and half bath) is a major inspiration for me as well.
That said, I’d like to do something a little fun here with this blog post. Hubs and I have lots of ideas for how to adorn our walls downstairs and soon we should be able to start making some purchases. I’ve taken pictures of the wall spaces that I believe need to be customized to reflect our lives here, right now. If I had to categorize our home decor style, I’d say it is “arts and crafts meets modern rustic”. I’m highly open to comments or suggestions people!
So without further ado….let’s begin!
This is our dining area. The small framed mirrors were a find from a few years back, which I still love, from Ikea. I really want to keep them right where they are. However, I think they need some color! I would like to tie in the hints of burgundy (or maroon, depending on how your eyes see it) somehow. I’m thinking possibly a thin dark wood shelf above the mirrors with some small basic tealight candles in just the right shade of burgundy/maroon.
So here is our main wall in our little kitchen. Pretty boring right? It is such an improvement from the previous color, however, which was a wine/burgundy that made the space seem even smaller than it is. I like the idea of a beer theme here (Hubs and I are fans of Colorado craft beer) though I don’t want to go overboard. I have been saving bottle caps from beers we’ve enjoyed with the notion that some day I’m going to actually try one of the many Pinterest crafts I have saved. One idea I have is to superglue the bottle caps onto this clock that we both really love. We want this clock to stay where it is for sure. Then possibly put a couple of framed (black and white possibly) pictures of beer. Or else some small wood shelves on either side of the clock with tea light candles (beer scented-but that might be overkill).
So this is a pic of the wall next to our entryway. I am in love with the placement of the peace sign, which I picked up on Pearl St. in Boulder shortly after moving here. And the peace lily is so beautiful and special, as it was a gift from my in law’s for my 50th birthday. I just feel that the wall space needs a tad bit more color. Perhaps adding it by putting colorful ribbon on the peace sign? Not certain if I should mess with this or not.
This is of course the fireplace wall. One thing Hubs and I have agreed on from Day #1 in this townhome is that the peach colored tile framing the fireplace is quite hideous and needs to go! Especially now with buttery yellow combined with chocolate brown on the wall above it. We do plan on having a beautiful picture of the Colorado sky, which the Hubs recently took, blown up and framed with rustic looking wood for above the fireplace. The real dilemma for us here is how to re-face (is this the correct term? Not sure) the lovely (not) peach tile. We are thinking slate or stone, but have no knowledge of how to do it. I do have faith that once we figure that out, it will be something special.
I have more pics of my house I may share in the near future, but these are the areas I am most interested in updating at this moment in time. As I said earlier in this post, comments and/or suggestions are much appreciated! It’s time for this joint to become a real home for the two of us 🙂