DECEMBER IS FOR REMEMBERING #24/24

We snow-mobiled into the woods. I had in mind a 15′ tree, a statuesque beauty that would shine brightly from our apartment window. Spouse had a different idea.

 

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Forty-six Christmases for Spouse and me, 46 years of collecting ornaments, 46 years of December rememberings.

With one hand Spouse carries our three-foot tree down from the attic. I tote a box of specially chosen ornaments from the basement, leaving the other five boxes untoted and unopened. I’ve neglected them for the past four years; plain red balls, a few plastic candy canes…meh.

The two sections of the tree go together in nano-seconds. Long gone are the allergy-inducing live Norway pines. Long gone are the hours I’d spend picking needles out of the carpeting and long gone are the nights worrying that dried needles that dropped into the baseboard electrical heating system might ignite.

But never gone is my very fond memory of our first Christmas. We snow-mobiled into the woods. I had in mind a 15′ tree, a statuesque beauty that would shine brightly from our apartment window.

Spouse had a different idea.

“That’s way too big!” he protested. “It’ll won’t fit on the car and it won’t fit in the apartment.”

“OK,” I sniffed, nose already dripping more from manufactured grief than from frosty air; “you pick one out.”

“Over here. I’ve got just the one,” Spouse said.

My heavy boots made trudging through deep snow a challenge, but I followed him.

Images of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree came to mind. In fact, that one would have looked glorious next to the bony, scraggy tree Spouse pointed out.

Tears welled up behind my snowmobile glasses. Snot clogged my nose. (I could be quite the drama queen back in the day.)

“Don’t you want our first Christmas to be meaningful?” I sniveled, tears pooling and freezing in my eyelashes.

Long story short: The tantrum I was considering was cut short by my fall. I laughed as Spouse worked hard to pull me out of the deep drift of snow. I climbed onto the back of the snowmobile. We drove home and purchased a tree more fitting for our three-room apartment, a tree more likely to keep our three-month old marriage together.

Now it’s almost half a century later and I’m quite content with our fake  micro-tree. It won’t hold our five boxes of ornaments, but it’s more than up to the task of holding the important ones–those that are worthy of December rememberings.

 

DECEMBER IS FOR REMEMBERING #21/24

Even in a holiday season as low-stress as mine (no kids, small family), there comes a point where I can endure not one more spritz cookie, jingle bell, or commercial for The Perfect Gift. There’s a muchness that I find overwhelming, brought on by the fact that merchandisers today run  Christmas ads in October.

Happily my grinchy feeling doesn’t last long, and I can make it even shorter by gazing lovingly into the eyes of this little guy. Best (therapeutic) decoration we ever acquired!IMG_0321.JPG

 

 

DECEMBER IS FOR REMEMBERING 19/24

There, among the carrots and onions, was a two-foot by three-foot box of twelve identical russet potatoes. Beautiful, big, tawny potatoes, each precisely placed in its own nest of gold paper.
Spouse and I took one look at each other and burst out laughing.
“Perfect!” we said simultaneously.

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Unless one is under 10 years old, dads seem to be especially hard to find a gift for. By the time I was well into adulthood, my ideas for a gift for my father were down to zip.

His interests were fishing, hunting, and on occasion, making potato pancakes.

Spouse and I had been pondering this gift-giving challenge while we were at the grocery store, stocking up with the usual holiday supplies for Christmas dinner. Dean’s job was to take care of the dairy aisle while I took care of the produce.

Always more efficient than I when it comes to shopping, he finished his list while I was still working on mine and met me by the lettuces. We pushed our carts efficiently past kale, radishes, cucumbers…and then we stopped. Abruptly.

There, among the carrots and onions, was a two-foot by three-foot box of twelve identical russet potatoes. Beautiful, big, tawny potatoes, each precisely placed in its own nest of gold paper.

Spouse and I took one look at each other and burst out laughing.

“Perfect!” we said simultaneously.

Flash forward to my brother’s house for our annual Christmas Eve dinner and gift opening. We’d suspected those potatoes were the perfect present for a guy who loved to eat but when he lifted that heavy box, unwrapped it, lifted the wooden lid and saw those spuds, we knew we couldn’t have found a more perfect gift.

To this day I can’t look at potato in the eye* at Christmas without grinning at the memory of my father with tears in his eyes, doubled over, laughing harder than I’d ever heard him laugh before or since.

*Sorry; I can’t resist a pun.

 

DECEMBER IS FOR REMEMBERING #16/24

Spouse and I had just sat down to enjoy an ice cream and rest our weary legs when I spotted Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop. I shoved my spoon into my strawberry and told Dean I’d meet him “there.” His eyes followed my pointing finger.

 

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I fell in love with London’s Covent Garden on our first trip to England 18 years ago.

We wandered pubs with terrific ales, shops with hand knit sweaters. I wanted to buy something but the abundance of offerings made decisions difficult.

Spouse and I had just sat down to enjoy an ice cream and rest our weary legs when I spotted Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop. I shoved my spoon into my strawberry and told Dean I’d meet him “there.” His eyes followed my pointing finger.

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Pollocks has been there since the late 1800s. I don’t know if it has changed in the 18 years since I was there but boy howdy I hope not. Creaking floors, wooden steps, and shelves overflowing with toys are part of its charm.

I’ve posted a link to their website. Once there, click on “Covent Garden Shop.” On the far left hand side is the “3D Tour” link that will take you on a virtual tour. You’ll see why I bought  this small marionette. He leaves his position in my studio among the marionettes I’ve collected over the years to take temporary residence on my Christmas tree.

Lucky for him he’s small enough; the jester is two feet tall. Hmmm…maybe next year a taller tree?

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DECEMBER IS FOR REMEMBERING #14/24

There was this curious statement, whispered reverently by Mom: “I’ve always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon.”

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A hot air balloon floated over the yard of the house I grew up in one warm summer afternoon. Mom and I were reading on the front porch swing. I was deep into Henry Miller’s  The Tropic of Cancer; Mom had her beloved Minneapolis Tribune when her voice broke the silence.

“Look!” she said with so much excitement.

“Yeah, whatever,” I said, unwilling to pull away from a particularly zesty section of Miller’s book.

“No! Really! Look!” Reluctantly I followed her finger.

Probably no more than 40 feet above our heads was a hot air balloon, so close that when she hollered “Hi, there,” the fellow in the basket waved back and said, “Hi to you, too! Isn’t this a remarkable day?”

That’s all I remember. Well…not quite. There was this curious statement, whispered reverently by Mom: “I’ve always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon.”

A few years later I brought this ornament to her house from a St. Paul gift shop and hung it on her tree in a dominant spot, tickled when she spotted it. We talked about that wish of hers.

Those memories came flooding back a few laters when I found Hot Air Santa among her holiday decorations as my husband, my brother, his wife  and I cleaned out her house a couple of weeks after she died.

To this day, I wish I had gifted her with a balloon ride. And to this day, I wonder if she really would have gone up.

 

DECEMBER IS FOR REMEMBERING #12/24

Each appeared in December with dire warnings of “don’t touch/you’ll break it.” But I do remember how hard it was to keep my grubby grade schooler’s fingers out of the box of Fanny Farmer ribbon candy and off of Mom’s delicate, handblown coffee pot, creamer, and sugar container.

It’s hard for me to remember which Christmas item was more fragile. Each appeared in December with dire warnings of “don’t touch/you’ll break it.” But I do remember how hard it was to keep my grubby grade schooler’s fingers out of the box of Fanny Farmer ribbon candy and off of Mom’s delicate, handblown coffee pot, creamer, and sugar container.

I’d stare longingly into the candy box she kept on the highest kitchen shelf and, if I stared long enough (and did whatever chore had been assigned to me with a minimum of whining), I got to select one piece (“Just one, now, and no more”)  of those translucent, melt-in-your-mouth strips of colored sugar.

Just as fragile but longer lasting were her dainty, hand-painted coffee ornaments. Their tiny movements in the smallest air currents caught my eye. I’d blow on them, trying to discover how close I had to be before my breath would set them moving.

And yes, they finally did break. But for once I was not the culprit.

Several years later in a charming St. Paul gift shop, I spotted the little coffee server in the photograph. She saw it hanging on my tree and admitted that it was she who had dropped that original and got the glass shards cleaned up before I got home from school

(Hmmm; I wonder what else she never told me.)IMG_0300