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Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

I wish you all a wonderful holiday surrounded by family and friends.

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My letter from Santa

December 19, 2011 2 comments

I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing this. I admit I’m doing so without his permission. But I’m guessing that Santa reads my blog and that’s how he knew I’d so appreciate hearing from him.

When I checked my mail on Saturday (as you know I love to do), there was a letter waiting for me with the return address “123 Reindeer Lane, North Pole.”

The letter offers such a concise year in review for me, and I thought others might enjoy hearing from the magical man themselves.

Dear Mary,

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve corresponded with you. I’ve been a little backed up with all the new children that have been coming in the world, but I didn’t want you to think that I hadn’t been keeping my eye on you through the years.

As I was checking my list for this year, I see that you’ve been very, very good and very, very busy.

I would like to say best wishes on your upcoming nuptials next year. I’m sure that you have picked a great man to spend the rest of your life with.

I also see that your nieces and nephews voted you their favorite aunt. That is quite an accomplishment.

Lastly on my list I see that you and your mother have been very close and making lasting memories throughout the year. That must have been one great road trip that you took together. Although the circumstances were not that great, it was nice that you could bond together.

My elves are pulling me away to get ready for my journey in a couple weeks. I don’t want you to worry about a thing this Christmas. Keep holding strong to the Christmas faith and I’ll take care of the rest.

Merry Christmas,

Santa Claus

We were about this old when Anne got her own letter from Santa.

In so few words, so many moments and emotions were captured. My engagement, of course. My relationship with my nieces and nephews (which only grew this year when Finn was sick…and when from the hospital he declared I was his favorite aunt). And the year of weddings and funerals – which included Mom and I driving from DC to Florida and back through South Carolina all in one weekend.

This has certainly been a year of major growth in my relationships with not just my old family, but also my new one that is forming as Charles and I prepare to become our own family.

Thank you Santa for all the reminders. And may all my readers and their families have the best Christmases this year!

My bladder’s been close to my eyes today…

December 15, 2011 2 comments

Maybe it’s the season, maybe it’s the weather…

Who knows what has been in the air lately, but I’ve been missing my daddy.

A week or so ago I got the strongest urge to call him. I’m not even sure I had something important to say to him. I just missed being able to call him.

A few days after that, my cousin posted a photo of her adorable daughter with Santa on Facebook. She mentioned that Santa had acquired a Southern accent.

I knew what my father would have said, and I replied back.

“Santa speaks to each and every child in the world in the language they are most familiar with.” (This was Dad’s explanation for Santa’s handwriting looking a lot like his.)

Today, I read this blog about Santa and his existence.

At paragraph 7, I got a little misty.

Right around paragraph 10 I nearly lost it completely.

Perhaps it’s through the traditions of Santa that make Christmas so much about the family and how parents and children celebrate. Or perhaps that’s just the case for me and my mom and dad.

I wouldn’t be super upset if I didn’t get to spend Easter or Thanksgiving with my mother, but I am cherishing this next Christmas because of the possibility of it being my last Christmas with her. No, I’m not expecting her to die. But I feel like it will all change when I get married.

Charles thinks I’m insane. What’s going to change about Christmas just because I’m married? But it won’t be the same ever again.

I won’t go to midnight Mass, just Mom and I, at Sacred Heart where they turn off all the lights and play Silent Night on the violin while we both try to hide our sniffling and tears (trust me, it’s beautiful and moving and we’re not the only snifflers!). I won’t be going home to our house to spend the night. I won’t be waking up there, that morning, with her, to open the stockings that are from “Santa.”

Sure, Charles and I could visit and do these things, but it seems that once I get married, we should have our own traditions. And even if we do these things with Mom, it still just won’t be the same. Yes. Maybe I’m over 30. But I still see getting married as a mark that I’m becoming an adult, and that certain things are going to change.

He'll hate me for posting this one! But he was always eager to try on or try our presents.

Christmas for me will always be full of memories of me, my mom, and especially my dad. It was him who wrote us the letters from Santa. It was his childhood photo with Santa that was set out on the piano every year. I feel like it was him who was always the first to remind us of the real reason we celebrated Christmas if ever our gift-giving intentions got out of hand.

And so, to end my day where my thoughts have been on all things Christmas and very much about my dad…my boss shared with the office a thank you letter we received from a writer who spoke at the University last year.

Most people didn’t notice, but I had the eye for it.

The letter, like so many of my father’s letter, was typed on a type writer.

In between the lines of the writer’s words of thanks and praise, I could see the care one has to take to type a letter.

The care with which my father typed every letter he wrote.

And the care with which told every story about Santa, his spirit, his love, and his magic.

Memorable Signs of the Season

December 2, 2011 1 comment

Growing up, most of the window sills in my grandmother’s house were full of potted plants. And where she didn’t have a window sill (in the bathroom maybe), she’d have a rooting jar hanging near the window for ivy or other creepers to grow out of.

When she passed away, in addition to assorted “things” (I never dreamed I’d have such a collection of carnival glass), many of us grandchildren were also gifted plants.

I’ve had this Christmas cactus in my kitchen window since I moved into my house more than 2 years ago. This is it’s third Christmas with me.

Every year, come frost outside, I’d anxiously wait to see if any buds would appear.

Christmas cacti are fickle creatures. Everything has to be *just* right for them to bloom. I always thought it was silly that Mom kept her giant one in a room no one went into so we hardly ever saw it. But come Christmastime, when the room stayed nice and cool since it was closed, that thing would bloom like crazy!

Maybe it was turning my heat way down over the Thanksgiving holiday when I was gone, but FINALLY I got blooms on my plant!

Since I’d never seen it bloom, I assumed the blooms would be orange. My grandmother put masking tape on the pots so that when they weren’t in bloom, she knew which one was which color.

Maybe I’m color blind, but does that look orange? I think it looks prettier than I imagined orange to be.

This is only the first of 3 or 4 buds to fully open up. So I guess I have plenty of Christmas time coming ahead of me!

Thankgiving Recap/Christmas Ornament Making

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

While most people are clamoring for the recipe box in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I’m scouring DIY blogs for easy craft projects.

I’ve learned that I can usually escape the heat of the kitchen by offering to help keep the kids out from under foot.

There are a few rules though.

1. Projects have to appeal to all kids between the ages of 4 and 10.

2. They must be easy enough to complete in the time it takes the younger kids to nap.

Stuffin Muffins. Genius idea!

3. They should be minimally messy.

4. The fewer/cheaper the supplies the better.

5. No glitter! (Have you seen a 5 year old with glitter? If you have, chances are you’re still seeing glitter everywhere.)

In the pas we’ve made hand turkeys, snowmen made out of styrofoam balls, and flowers made out of yarn pom poms and straws.

My brother’s kids LOVE giving people gifts, but rarely (if ever) do they spend money on them. They’re usually homemade cards, books, or paintings.

I thought maybe this year at Thanksgiving, we could make something for them to give to people for Christmas.

Enter the glass ornaments!

Yes, glass could be dangerous around this many young children. But I’m happy to report that only one ball was lost in the making of this project.

I was a little scared about using acrylic paint, but given that it goes INSIDE the ball and not on the outside, I was a little more at ease.

After dressing in my sister-in-law’s old T-shirts and covering the school table with butcher paper, the kids and I got to work.

I’d previously rinsed the inside of glass balls with alcohol. Once dry (well, almost), I showed them how to squeeze just a little (emphasize little or they take forever to dry!) paint into the top of the ball and roll it around until the paint won’t run anymore. (Also emphasize to keep the open end up!)

The 7 and 9 year olds did this project completely on their own. I squeezed the paint for the 5 year old and he rolled it around himself. The 3 year old was pretty disinterested (I think she didn’t want to take off her pink shirt to wear one of mommy’s big shirts). She would tell me what color to put in balls and I made hers myself.

To do…Make Pizza!!

February 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Some little niece or nephew may be lucky to get a super cool home made birthday present (or maybe I’ll save it for Christmas and gift it to the whole family?).

Their favorite thing to make with Play Doh is pizza. They make all types of pizza with toppings I couldn’t even imagine.

I love this idea from Wee Folk Art to make felt pizza. (And the instructions are so in depth!)

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Finished Projects, Old and New!

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

This photo will be replaced when I remember to relocate my camera cable!

I realized over the weekend that I never blogged about my last two pillowcase dresses. And these are the ones I made completely by myself! Embroidery and all.

My favorite part about this whole project, I think, was when my cousin opened the present containing the dress for her daughter. I had used a pillowcase that came from my grandmother (hoping this would be extra special)…and to make it EXTRA extra special, my aunt immediately recognized the pillow case as one she had taken to college. I couldn’t have planned it better! It was also my favorite dress out of the bunch! (it’s the one in the middle of the photo at the linked blog.)

 

I mentioned last week about my Pay it Forward project for 2011…and over the weekend I succeeded in completing my first project for it! Yay for getting started early! It was actually rather easy since I’ve been making these felted balls for years with leftover yarn, but at least I was given a good reason to go ahead and string them into a finished project.

Pay it Forward!

And additionally, I started a birthday present (and am halfway done) for my sister-in-law whose birthday isn’t until February. Hopefully all weekends in 2011 can be this productive!

I would also like to take a chance to thank my boyfriend for my awesome phone for Christmas. The first photo (unless you’re reading this in the future and I’ve replaced it) was taken with my old sub-standard blackberry. The bracelet photo was taken with my new iPhone 4. Isn’t the difference amazing? The iPhone photos are actually able to be used!