Friday, December 30, 2016


We were at our annual holiday visit at my sister's house. All of us were gathered around her kitchen island, when my sister looked over at my wrist and noticed a red burn.
“How'd you get that one?” she asked.
I held it out proudly so she could get a better look. “Christmas morning, cooking bacon.”
My sister pulled up the sleeve of her shirt, showing me several welts on her forearm. “Frying calamari for Christmas Eve dinner.”
I leaned in to get a closer look. “Okay, I have to admit, yours looks worse than mine.”
My sister smiled as she pulled the sleeve down. “I didn't pat the calamari completely dry before I put it in the oil.”
“That's a painful lesson learned.” I said as I casually pulled up my own sleeve to show off my old holiday scars. “Remember the years of cookie baking?” I pointed to the fading red lines on my forearm. “I got caught three years in a row with the oven rack.”
By now our boys had grown bored with our conversation. They filled their plates with food and headed for the game room.
That left my sister and her husband and Steven and I. My sister was examining her hand. “You can’t see it anymore, but remember the year I made a Christmas goose?”
Steven leaned back and smiled. “That was the best goose I ever ate!”
My sister smiled. “Thank you!” She gave up looking for the scar. “I had a burn on my hand for years, from the drippings overflowing when I was taking the pan out of the oven.”
“I remember that one.” I shuttered at the memory. “You ate dinner with a cold cloth wrapped around your hand.”
It was my turn again as I showed her my knuckle. “See this little crescent shaped scar?”
She leaned forward to get a better look. “It's pretty faint.”
“Thank you!” Steven called out.
Everyone looked over at Steven, but I jumped in to explain first. “That was from the can opener disaster.” I said. “I was opening a can of cranberry sauce when the lid cut open my knuckle.” I rubbed the spot of my old wound. “I really should have gone to get stitches but we had a house full of guests.”
Steven jumped in. “It wasn't as bad as you thought. All I did was put a butterfly bandage on it and you were back at the dining room table in two minutes.”
We'd all gotten quite for a moment. Then my sister looked over at me. “Are we that accident prone?” she asked.
“No!” I was shocked she'd even suggest such a thing. “We love to cook and accidents just happen sometimes!”
Steven leaned over to my brother-in-law. “But, just to be on the safe side, I got her a can opener that doesn't leave any sharp edges.”

My brother-in-law nodded in agreement. “Smart move.” he said looking at my sister. “I'll be picking up one of those for you tomorrow.”

Friday, December 23, 2016


My husband Steven and I were headed out the door, for another holiday get-together. “Are we bringing anything?” he asked as we put on our coats.
I walked over to the wine rack and pulled out a bottle that already had a ribbon attached to it.
“This is perfect.” I said.
Steven stopped in front of the door. “Are you re-gifting?”
“It's a bottle of wine.” I answered.
“But we got that as a Christmas gift.” he argued. “It still has the original bow on it.”
“Food and wine don't count in re-gifting.”
“Since when?”
“This is their favorite wine.” I said. “Why should I go to the store and buy a bottle of this wine when I have a bottle right here and it already has the bow on it?”
“Because you didn't buy it.” he argued. “You took it out of our wine rack.”
“That's where my re-gifting rules come in.”
Steven took a deep breath. “This should be good.”
I tried to ignore his sarcastic tone. “You can't re-gift homemade food or wine, but anything store bought isn't considered re-gifting.” I explained. “It's more like sharing when you bring it to someone else's house.”
“So if someone made me a scarf I couldn't re-gift, but it would be okay if the scarf was store bought?”
“I didn't say that rule applies to outerwear.” I corrected. “I said it was find with food and wine.”
“So what do you do with the clothing gifts that you get and you don't like?”
“Those have to be worn at least once in front of the giver. Then you can put it in the back of your closet, where it will stay for a few years, before you give it to Goodwill.”
Steven started to laugh. “What about things for the house?” he asked.
“Out on display until the giver sees it, then up in the attic until the next garage sale.”
“What about gift certificates?”
“Oh come on, Steven! What's not to like about a gift certificate?”
“So you mean to tell me you've only re-gifted food and wine?”
“I'm telling you those are the only two things you can re-gift. And those can only go to someone who loves that type of wine or food.”
Steven looked at the bottle of wine tucked under my arm. “Do you make these rules up as you go?” he asked.

“Yes, but only when we're late for a party and I forgot to get them a hostess gift.” 

Friday, December 16, 2016


I was sitting on the couch, tucked under a blanket and scrolling through my Facebook feed, when Steven came into the living room and sat down next to me.
“Check this out.” I said as I handed him my phone and gave him a piece of my blanket.
“What am I looking at?” he asked putting him feet up on the coffee table and draping the blanket over his legs.
“It's a really great Christmas display.” I tapped the screen to start the video.
We both watched as the synchronized music and light show began. The entire house began it's flashing light display while a rock band covered a pumped up version of Carol Of The Bells. I couldn't help bobbing my head along with the music.
Four minutes later, when the video ended, I looked at Steven. “Wasn't that great?”
Steven handed me back my phone. “It was pretty good.” he said.
“The house is only forty minutes away.” I said. “Let's go look at it.” I suggested.
Steven looked confused. “We just looked at it.”
“I know,” I was scrolling though Facebook again. “But I'm sure it's even better in person.”
“Really?” Steven didn't sound convinced. “You mean driving forty minutes to wait in the traffic leading up to the house, finding a parking space a dozen blocks away and walking in the freezing cold is going to be better than what we just saw?”
It made me stop for a minute, because he had a point. But then I got nostalgic. “Don't you remember how much fun we used to have bundling up the boys and putting them in the back seat with bags of snacks while we drove all over Monmouth County looking at the lights?”
“Sure, it was fun.” Steven said, taking out his phone and logging onto his Facebook account. “But that was before everyone posted pictures of their decorated houses.” He scrolled though his feed. “One of my clients posted this great shot.” He handed me his phone to show me the house. It had lights in every tree and bush in the front yard. The entire house was outlined in lights and a full sized Santa was standing at the front door ready to welcome all their holiday visitors.
“Wow, that's really great.” I handed him back his phone.
“I know! They had a company come in and put all the lights up. It took them two days to get it all done.”
We were both scrolling though our feeds, looking for more houses, when Alex came into the room. “What are you two up to?” he asked.
“We're traveling around the county looking at everyone's Christmas lights.” Steven and I both held up our phones to show him. “Want to come with us?”
Alex looked over our shoulders to see. “This is how you look at Christmas lights now?”
“Sure.” Steven said. “No traffic, no freezing cold weather. What's not to like?”
Alex looked over at me. “What about the snacks and hot chocolate after? That used to be the best part.”
“That's a great idea!” I got up from the couch and looked at Steven. “I'm going to make some hot chocolate. Do you want some?”
“Sure.” Alex and Steven said together.

I handed Steven my phone. “Show Alex that great one I showed you with the music.”

Friday, December 9, 2016


Dinner was done and I was putting my plate in the dishwasher when I turned to Alex and asked, “Do you have room for dessert? I have cookies.”
“Really?” Alex sounded surprised as he placed his plate in the sink.
I shook my head and gave him the stink eye as I pointed to his plate and opened the door to the dishwasher. “Oh, sorry.” he took his plate out of the sink and put it in the dishwasher. “I was thrown when you said you made cookies.” he explained.
“What?” Now I was confused. “I didn't say I made cookies.” I opened the cabinet and handed him a sleeve of store bought chocolate chip cookies. “I said I had cookies.”
“Oh, right. What was I thinking?” he took the sleeve and went back to the table.
By now Steven was clearing his dishes. “Remember when your Mom used to bake all the time?”
Alex shook his head. “Not really?” He tore open the sleeve and took a cookie out. “But I'm sure these are just as good as the ones you say she baked.” He took a bite of the cookie and smiled at me.
“Oh come on!” I cried. “I can't believe you can't remember when I baked.”
Steven took out a glass and held it up. “Milk?” he asked Alex.
Steven took the milk out of the refrigerator and began to pour it into two glasses. “I have to say your Mom's chocolate chips cookies were really good.”
“Thank you.” I said as I went back to the table and sat down. “I can't believe you don't remember when I baked?” I reached for one of the cookies in the sleeve.
“Nope.” Alex shook his head as he reached for the glass of milk Steven held out to him. “But like I said, these are fine.” He dunked half his cookie in the milk.
“No, there not.” I placed my cookie on the napkin in front of me. “My cookies were so much better then these!”
“They were.” Steven dunked his cookie in his glass of milk.
“I believe you.” Alex said. “I'm just telling you I don't remember them.”
Now I was getting frustrated. “It can't be that long since I've baked.” I argued. “I used to bake dozens and dozens of cookies around the holidays.” I looked at Steven for confirmation. “Remember, I used to give them out as gifts.”
Steven nodded his head. “Everyone loved them.” he took a bite of his milk dripping cookie. “They were a perfect combination of chewy and crunchy.”
“Thank you!” I looked back at Alex. “But that's also the reason I stopped baking.” I explained. “I was making so many, it got overwhelming. Besides, everyone in my family was baking. It was getting ridiculous with how many cookies we had, so I decided to take some holiday pressure off myself and cut out the cookie baking.”
Alex nodded. “I completely understand.” he said taking another cookie from the sleeve. “Like I said before, these are fine.”
“No they're NOT!” I wanted to swat the cookie from his hand but instead I got up and went over to the grocery list. “I'm going to make you real chocolate chip cookies!” I began writing down everything I'd need. “No one's going to tell me homemade cookies aren't a thousand times better than store bought.”

I looked back at the table where Steven and Alex were smiling at one another. “I know exactly what the two of you just did.” I said as I finished writing on the shopping list. “But you're right. It has been too long since I baked.”

Friday, December 2, 2016


I was hunched over the coffee table with my address book in front of me, frantically scribbling names and addresses on envelopes, when Steven walked into the room.
“What are you up to?” he asked.
“The holiday cards.” I grumbled.
“You don't seem like you're having much fun.” he said as he sat down next to me.
“I'm not.” I complained. “I'm already late getting them out! I forgot to make copies of all the different pictures I wanted to tuck into certain people's cards, I don't have the energy or brain power to write a personalized note in each card, like I was hoping to do and...” I began shaking the pen furiously seeing if any more ink would come out before I had to search for another one. “This is the second pen I've used that's run out of ink!” I tossed the empty pen across the coffee table in disgust.
Steven smiled as he grabbed the remote for the television. “No one says you have to send them out this year.”
“Of course I have to send them out!” I cried. “I've had these cards sitting on my desk for the past two months!”
“Do you really think anyone's going to notice if you miss this one year?” he asked as he adjusted the pillow behind his head.
“I've already gotten a call!” I reached over and pulled out another pen for the drawer of a side table.
“Someone called you to say they haven't gotten a card from you yet?” Steven looked confused.
“My sister called me yesterday to tell me that I'm not the first holiday card she's gotten this year.” I scribbled on the back of one of the misaddressed envelopes to make sure the new pen was working. “I'm always the first card for her and somebody beat me!”
“So you're not her first card, who cares?”
“I don't think you understand, Steven. I've been her first card for the past six years. It's my small claim to fame. I'm not real happy about losing that!”
“So maybe you'll be the first card for somebody else.”
“Why do you think I'm working so hard to get them out now?” I hunched over the coffee table and began addressing envelopes again. “If I hurry, I still have a chance to be the first one for my other sister.”
I stopped for a moment and began shaking my writing hand. “I think my fingers are beginning to cramp.” I whined.

Steven rubbed the back of my neck. “As long as you're having fun, that's all that counts.” he said.