Saturday, December 26, 2015


The holiday rush was behind me and I was finally getting a chance to sit back and enjoy my tree. As I looked at all the different decorations hanging from it's branches, I couldn't help but notice my vacation ornaments. We'd been so busy the last few years, with one away at school and the rest of us busy working, we weren't traveling as much as we used to.
I pulled one of my favorite ones off the tree. I held it up so my husband Steven, who was sitting on the couch reading the newspaper, could see it. “Do you remember when Alex had to have a real cowboy hat?” I asked him as I showed him the cactus wearing a Santa hat with the word “Arizona” written across it.
Steven looked over and smiled. “I think he still has it in his room.”
“I hope so. I loved him in that hat!” It was the first time the boys or I had ever been out west and we'd all fallen in love with the desert. I hung the ornament back on the tree and began looking at all the others.
“How many times did we take the boys to Florida?” I asked as I gently touched the Disney Mickey waving his magic wand.
“A few.” Seven said as he turned the page of his newspaper.
I looked at several more Disney ornaments. “I guess I must have picked up a few of these on each of the trips.” I said as I noticed more than just a few Disney decorations.
I looked over at the miniature lobster pot from our trip to Maine. “Remember the boat ride for the whale watch?” I asked.
“How could I forget?” Steven said, then laughed. “When you found out we'd have to ride out a few miles to see them, you asked the Captain if there was some way he could get the whales to come closer to shore so we didn't have to go out so far!”
“I was kidding!”
“No you weren't.”
“Alright.” I admitted. “I wasn't. But we were out so far you couldn't see the shore! You know how much I hate being that far out in the ocean.”
“Oh I know, and so did the entire boatload of whale watchers.” Steven said.
“But then we saw three or maybe it was four whales that day.” I smiled at the memory. “They were so beautiful.”
I looked at the sand dollar from our trip to the Outer Banks next to the pewter ornament of the Capital building in Washington. “I can't believe we timed that trip right when the cherry trees were in full bloom!”
“They boys like that trip.”
“They liked all our trips.” I said as my eyes fell on the little black buggy from our trip to the Amish Country. “Well, maybe not this one.” I held the buggy up for him to see.
“Yeah, making the boys stay at a diary farm and having them get up to milk the cows wasn't so much fun for any of us.” he said.
“I thought they might like to see what it was like to live on a working farm.”
“They found out that neither of them would ever want to do that for a living.” Steven said, then laughed.
“So it was a good thing!”
I hung it back on a branch then stood back and looked at all our other travel ornaments. “You know there's still some room on this tree for a few more trip ornaments.” I said.
Just then both boys walked into the room.
“Are we planning a trip?” Alex asked.
“That sounds like a great idea!” Max said.
Steven looked at me. “That sure was a subtle hint.”

I shrugged my shoulders. I really hadn't planned it that way but...I had to smile as I began thinking about where our next destination could be.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


My husband, Steven and our two boys and I were sitting down to dinner when our oldest son Max looked over at me and asked. “What's on your face?”
Now of course my first instinct was to answer, in as whinny little kids voice, “What's on YOUR face?” But I'm not four years old so instead I answered, “I don't know, what's it look like to you?”
“It looks like glitter.” he said.
“Oh, that's because I was wrapping presents and and I got a few gift bags with glitter on them.”
All three of my guys groaned.
“Didn't we ask you not to bring any more glitter into the house?” Steven asked as he wiped his hand along the tabletop and then looked at his hand. “Great.” he said as he held it up for me to see. “Glitter!”
“Wow, I didn't even wrap the presents on this table.” I wiped my hand along the table and looked to see if I'd get any on me. Sure enough I did. “I wonder how that got there?”
“Because it's GLITTER!” Alex said. “It gets on everything!” He pushed away from the table and began inspecting his arms. Max and Steven began doing the same thing.
“Oh come on! It's pretty!” I said as I tried to brush the few flecks off my hands and was having trouble doing it. “These things sure do stick.” Now I was trying to scrape them off with my nail.
“Exactly!” Steven said. “I'm still finding them on me from weeks ago when you wrote out our Christmas cards.”
“Why would anyone want to get a Christmas card with glitter on it?” Alex asked as he finally gave up the glitter search and went back to eating dinner.
“Who knows?” Steven answered. “It's like a booby trap in an envelope. Why not just fill the card full of confetti so when they open it up it fly’s all over their house.”
Max and Alex both liked that idea and began to laugh.
“Because that would just make a mess and it wouldn't make the card pretty.” I argued. “Besides instead of complaining you should be thanking me for taking the time for find a nice card, write a special note in it, and send it to all of our friends.”
“I did thank you.” Steven said. “But I still don't think anyone wants a glitter card.”
Alex looked over at Steven. “You have glitter on your face.” he said.
“Are you kidding!” Steven said as he looked back at me.
“No you don't.” I said. But he did. It was a tiny silver speck right on the end of his nose.
“Yes he does.” Max said.
“Neither of you are helping right now.” I said as I passed Alex the platter of meat.
“It's all part of the holiday.” I reasoned. “The tree drops it's needles, the credit card bills go up and you find a few specks of glitter around the house.”
“We have an artificial tree.” Alex said.
“It still drops needles!” I cried.
“Fine.” Alex shrugged his shoulders as he passed the platter to his brother.
“All we're asking is for you to make this a glitter-free house during the holidays.” Steven said. “I really don't think that's a lot to ask.”
“Yeah!” Max and Alex said in unison.
“I can't believe you three.” I complain but suddenly realized there was something in my eye, “I'll be right back.” I said as I got up from the table. “Something got under my contact.”
As I walked towards the bathroom I could hear Max say, “Five bucks says it's glitter.”
I could hear the other two laughing.

Normally I would have called back that I could still hear them, but my eye hurt too much and I was pretty sure they were right.


I wrote this piece for the Two River Times in 1992...have to say there isn't a Christmas that goes by that I don't think about this.

I can still see Dad, Christmas morning, sitting in our overstuffed chair wearing his blue striped cotton robe, holding his camera and looking out the window.
We kids all knew who he was waiting for. Dad was waiting for Santa, and he wasn’t the only one anxious to see him. So we all kept Dad company, in that front room, playing with our new toys and waiting.
Time passed slowly before we would finally hear the fire truck. We always heard it long before it was anywhere in sight. The anticipation would build until, sirens screaming, the big red truck with Santa on board was at the end of our driveway.
While Santa walked down the graveled driveway, Dad would be snapping pictures of him, while my brothers and sisters and I were making the frantic scramble to the front door, each of us trying to be the first to say Merry Christmas to our morning visitor. Santa always had a little package for each of us, given with a warm smile and a wish for a happy day. Then with a quick wave good-by he was off finish his rounds around town.
It was an event that was repeated each year at our house until we kids began to outgrow Santa.
It's the Christmas that Dad still hung on to the hope that my youngest brother, Bo, was still young enough for the Santa visit, that's clearest to me. That Christmas morning as the hours went by and Santa never came, when we all realized Bo was too old for Santa to drop by. The disappointment I saw on Dad's face made me realize only Dad was young enough to need Santa's visit any more. It broke my heart to watch Dad get up from his chair to put away his camera. He stopped for one last look down our driveway, then he turned back and saw me watching him. He smiled and held out his hand, asking if I was ready for the big Monopoly game that was being set up in the dining room. I took his hand and he gave it a squeeze.
I knew Dad would be all right. But the memory of his disappointment, that year, always stayed with me.
Now I'm married and my husband, our two small sons and I live in the house I grew up in. Our town still has the Fireman Santa come on Christmas morning and it was as I was filling out the forms that would bring Santa to our door on Christmas Day, that I thought of Dad.
Dad started a tradition. A tradition that's continuing with his grandsons. And even though Dad passed away a few years ago, he'll be with me while I'm waiting for Santa this year.

Christmas morning will be a mixture of memories for me. New ones being made with my sons. But old ones being replayed of my own visits from the Fireman Santa. Especially the memory of Dad sitting in that overstuffed chair, wearing his blue striped robe and holding his camera.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


“I'm going to the mall to get some shopping done!” I called out to no one in particular as I grabbed my purse and headed for the door.
“Hey, I wanted to pick up a video game for Max.” Alex called. “Can I come with you?”
“Sure, if you hurry. It's going to be a madhouse there today.”
As Alex was getting his shoes on, Steven came up from the basement. “Did I hear you say you're going to the mall?”
“Alex and I are both going.” I answered.
“Great. I'll come with you.” he said.
“Did you need to get something?” I asked.
“No. But I'm not doing anything right now so I might as well come along.”
Now I know that this might sound like a fun family outing to some people. But when I need to get shopping done I'm not the “the-more-the-merrier” type of person. I really just wanted to run to the mall, grab a few thing and come right back. But now, with my helpers coming with me, I'd have to re-adjust my thinking.
As we got closer to the mall the traffic got heavier. “I wonder if there's even going to be a place to park?” Steven said, sounding doubtful as we inched closer to the mall's entrance.
“It's that time of year.” I tried not to sound impatient but knew Steven wasn't one for crowds. “You have to figure it's going to be packed.” After circling the parking lot a few times I finally found a spot and pulled in.
“Let's get the video game for Max first.” I suggested.
Weaving our way through the crowds, we made our way to the video store and then waited patiently on the endless line for our turn at the counter. Once the video game was purchased I could see both my guys were done with shopping. So, I wasn't surprised to hear their groans when I told them I had several stores to go to for all the things I needed to get.
Thankfully, that's when I spotted an empty couch in the middle of the atrium. “Why don't you two wait there while I finish shopping?”
“Sounds good to me!” Steven headed for the couch with Alex right behind him.
Once the boys were settled I began to get some serious shopping done. After each store I'd head back to the couch, hand them the bag and head off in another direction.
When I had the final thing marked off my list I went to collect my guys. There they were with all the bags I'd piled around them, deep in a conversation.
“Are you two ready to leave?” I asked.
“Wow! You're done already?” Steven seemed surprised.
“I have to thank both of you.” I said. “I have to admit that I was dreading this shopping trip with you two, but there's no way I could have gotten all this done without you.”
Steven and Alex looked at one another. I'm sure, at first, they thought I was kidding. But as I began loading their arms with all the bags that I'd stacked around their feet they realized I wasn't.
“Hey, anytime.” Alex said as I handed him another bag to carry.
“No problem.” Steven said a I loaded his arms with the rest of my purchases.

I had to smile as we all headed out to the parking lot. It was the first time I'd ever done a huge shopping trip and was able to walk out of the mall the exact same way I'd walked in – just carrying my purse!

Saturday, December 5, 2015


I looked around my house and smiled when I saw all that I'd accomplished getting ready for the Christmas season. The tree was up and the inside of the house was completely decorated.
But it was the list of all the things that still needed to be done that had me feeling overwhelmed. There was a lot more to do before the “magic” of Christmas was ready to happen. I sighed as I thought about that long list and did what I think anyone else would do when faced with that much work.
I laid down on the couch to take a nap.
I smiled again as I tucked my favorite blanket around me and closed my eyes. I could hear someone in the kitchen making a snack, while the others were playing video games, laughing and having a good time.
It wasn't long before the house got strangely quiet. I was almost ready to doze off when I heard my husband Steven and my two boys, Alex and Max, whispering in the dining room.
I strained my ears to hear what they were talking about.
“Do you thinks she's asleep?” Max asked.
“Looks like it.” Steven confirmed.
“Do you think she's going to make dinner tonight?” Alex whispered.
“I don't know. It's getting pretty late.” Steven answered.
“Do you think she's going to make Christmas cookies this year?” Max asked.
“Not a clue.” Steven said.
“Aren't the presents usually wrapped and under the tree by now?” Alex asked.
“Yup.” Steven answered again.
“What do you think has happened this year?” Alex asked.
“I think she just got busy with other things.” Steven answered.
I had to try and not smile at that one. I kept my eyes closed, enjoying their conversation, wondering where it was going to go.
“I saw the Christmas cards on the coffee table the other day.” Alex said.
“She asked for a roll of stamps.” Steven added. “So the cards got done.”
“Who cares about cards.” Max complained. “I'd rather have her bake cookies then write out Christmas cards.” I tried not to smile as I pictured Alex nodding in agreement on that one.
“Maybe we should help her?” Steven suggested.
There was no answer for several moments. I tried not to move, wondering who was going to answer that one first.
“What could we do?” Max sounded confused.
“Yeah.” Alex agreed. “It's not like either of us are going to do any baking anytime soon.”
I could hear Max laugh.
“I'm not talking about baking.” Steven said. “Maybe see if she needs help with the gift wrapping.” Steven suggested. “Or we could offer to do some of the shopping for her.”
Those suggestions were met with more silence.
Finally Alex made his own suggestion. “Maybe we could make dinner tonight?”
Max quickly added, “By make, you mean order out, right?”
“Sounds good to me.” Steven said. “One of you get the take-out menus.”
“I say pizza.” Max said.
“What about ribs?” Alex added.
I smiled as I got more comfortable. They just found the perfect way to help me. Now I had, at least, forty-five minutes to actually get a nap before dinner came.

I'd have to remember to thank them when I woke up.