Christmas is behind us and New Year’s will be here in a few days. Looking at our tree, it looks so sad with all the presents gone. I love looking at the lights, especially at night if we have a fire going in the fireplace, but we haven’t really been cold enough for a fire lately. We didn’t have any snow for Christmas this year and that has been the case since we moved to Maryland. Snow seems to come in little bits until February. That’s when we get a lot…should I mention last year and the 3 feet plus snow storm that we got in one day?
Our pug only managed to get one present out from under the tree. He somehow managed to sniff out one of his new squeaky toys from among all the wrapped gifts. It was cute to watch him stretch his little body under the tree. He kept his back feet on the carpet and used his front paws to bat the package closed and then he tugged the string holding it together. After all of that effort, my husband and I let him have his toy. There is something so precious when a dog gets a new squeaky toy. He is just so exited and happy. He wore himself out playing with it. I was worried he would try to find his other gifts, so we moved them up higher.
My husband also gave me one of the best gifts. It is a hook that attaches to the headrest of a vehicle. It holds my purse and that means it doesn’t get tossed around the backseat of the car when we are together. It also means that I don’t put it on the floorboard when it is wet. I can hook it behind the seat, his if he is driving, and I can reach for my phone or wallet. I never knew I needed it, but now that I have it, I wished I had it sooner.
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!!!
Growing up, our Christmas tree always went up on Thanksgiving. It was an absolute huge fake tree that had color coded branches that had to be put together in a certain order. It took hours, especially when the colors started fading, but the end result was a beautiful tree that visitors always thought was real. The decorating of the tree would take place throughout the day, in between cooking and eating and socializing. When I married, I told my husband of this tradition and while he didn’t understand the need to put the tree up on Thanksgiving, he humored me because he loved me. It also helped that he enjoys the holidays and making the house look festive. My mother always said that once we were settled into a place of our own, we could haul the huge tree in its huge box (think bigger than the biggest refrigerator box you’ve ever seen) to our home and carry on the tradition of the tree. When my husband saw the size of the box in my parents store-room he stated that he didn’t think we would ever have a place big enough for the tree and I whispered that it was fine because we could always start new traditions.
Our first tree was one that was maybe two feet tall and we put it on the middle of our coffee table. We chose some of the family ornaments that we had brought with us and gradually added new ones as well. Every Thanksgiving we decorated the tree while the turkey was in the oven. At the end of the day, we would turn the lights on the tree and everything seemed peaceful and calming. The only time our tree didn’t get put up on Thanksgiving was when my husband had been deployed on a peace keeping mission to Kosovo and actually returned home the day before Thanksgiving. We picked him up at 3:00 am and he spent most of the next 48 hours sleeping. I put up a few things while he was sleeping, but it has always been something that we have done together.
Decorating the outside of the house has always been his territory. He can see in his head what he wants to do with the decorations and while he will ask me my opinion, I really leave it up to him. The only thing I insist on is that the lights be multicolored. I am not a fan of lights being one color, so he goes along with me on that.When our son was young, he went all out, but as we have all gotten older, we have kept the outside simple, yet welcoming. One of my favorite holiday looks was the first year in our house in Kansas. We purchased real pine garland and outlined the front of the house with it and had the lights shining out from the branches. Large burgundy bows and a huge wreath completed the look.
One year my husband was off and I had to work, so he decided that he and our son would get the lights up outside early. When I pulled up, I noticed that our neighbor, who never seemed to get his outside lights up all the way, had actually put up lights. Lights that looked like ours. My husband was sitting on a stool in the garage with strings of lights laying in rows on the floor, testing bulbs because they wouldn’t come on. I noticed there were no lights on the house.
“What’s wrong with the lights?” I asked getting out of the car.
“They won’t come on. I’ve been checking the bulbs. But every time I find one, another goes out.”
Hmmm, I thought, that’s what happened last year and we had to buy new lights. I got into the garage and I noticed that the lights on the floor were the lights from last year. You know, the broken ones that we couldn’t fix so we had to buy new ones. I stepped back out of the garage and looked at our neighbors house. “So Robert put up lights too?” I asked.
My husband looked at me, “Yeah, we helped him. His didn’t work so I gave him our old set.”
“That’s why they look familiar.” I replied. I looked back at the strings of lights on the garage floor. “Do you remember last year, when you couldn’t get the lights to work?”
He grunted, “That seems like every year, but yes I remember. We had to go out and buy new ones.” He looked up at me looking over at the neighbors lights and the light bulb went off. “Son of a !@#$%!!!”
“Yeppers!” I replied walking back to my car. He began rolling up the broken lights before joining me in the car where we went to buy new holiday lights for the outside of the house.
“At least Robert won’t look like Grinch this year.” he said nodding to the lights.
This weekend, while running errands, my husband decided to zip down to the mall to pick up a few dress shirts that were on sale where he normally shops. Yes, I said mall. I do not like shopping in malls anymore. There are too many people pushing and shoving their way as if they are taking part in the Shopping Olympics. The store that my husband goes to has its own entrance, so we can get in and out easily and we don’t need to go into the actual mall. That makes me happy.
We headed into the store and were met with absolute crazed shoppers, all apparently starting their holiday shopping early. I know that many stores were putting up their holiday displays before Halloween, but I really didn’t see anything special on sale yet. Apparently the shoppers out last weekend didn’t feel the same way. It was literally wall to wall people, pushing and shoving their way through the aisles. And if they couldn’t get through, they shoved displays out of their way and made their own aisle. After being shoved for the third time into the men’s winter coat display, I told my husband I’d wait for him in the car. He came out a few minutes later mumbling something about checking online for the shirts he liked.
As we drove away, I knew that was the last mall visit for us until sometime in next year. Maybe in the spring, when the winter clothes are discounted and there are a few less pushy shoppers. If anyone wonders why online shopping is so popular, they only have to spend a few minutes in a real mall for the answer.
It used to be the only time you ate something pumpkin was at Thanksgiving. On a rare occasion, you might have also had it at Christmas, but if you did, chances are you were considered to be a little outside the norm in doing so. I mean pumpkin is for Thanksgiving, or at least it used to be. Now, it seems that pumpkin is in every food imaginable. If you like the taste of pumpkin, then you should be in heaven.
There are the usual offerings, such as pumpkin bread and muffins, but it has now moved on to pumpkin spice coffee at any number of coffee shops, as well as being available in your favorite individual pods and cups to making a whole coffee pot of the fall flavor. There are marketing campaigns that try to convince you that you have just been marking the days off the calendar just waiting for your favorite pumpkin coffee to come back to your coffee shop. I’m sure they sent you an email or text alerting you to the exact moment the coffee would return to the store. Right? And they will even sell you bags and pods of pumpkin coffee that you can make at home and it will taste just the same. Nope.
If that isn’t enough pumpkin for you, there are also pumpkin creamers by many different companies to make your coffee taste even more pumpkin. Each one tastes different, so the pumpkin fan will buy them all to find the one that it a perfect fit. It has invaded our breakfast cereals and toasted muffins. I actually saw pumpkin shredded wheat and pumpkin O’s cereal along with pumpkin English muffins and bagels. Just imagine, you can spread your pumpkin cream cheese on your pumpkin bagel to complete your morning pumpkin fest. And did I mention soup? Search the internet and you can find pumpkin recipes for soups, butter, pudding and even waffles. I’m sure you’ll find something that you like.
I will admit that in October, I usually buy one of the pumpkin cream cheese rolls that you can find in almost every grocery store. They are rather yummy with a cup of hot coffee after dinner. My son also likes pumpkin bread and I will make at least one batch from scratch. If he wants more, Pillsbury makes a great mix :). That treat usually carries us until Thanksgiving and the pumpkin pie still warm from the oven with lots of whipped cream to top it off. Yummy! As for the other things, I’m really not a fan. I’ve tried pumpkin coffee and didn’t like it. I finally tried pumpkin coffee creamer and it is okay, but once the bottle is gone, I will not buy it again. Honestly, most of the items made from pumpkin really don’t taste good to me, so I will stick to the original, pie, and occasionally branch out to bread…with warm butter. I can almost smell it. Oh well, off to make some. It’s September, but it’s not too soon, right?