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Category Archives: Christmas

Christmas Carol Commentary

Today I attempt to follow my own advice from yesterday and skip the futzing. I have had no Mohawk Valley adventures since yesterday, so I will attempt some seasonal commentary.

The other day I posted a Facebook status that got some good attention. I share it again, with apologies to any readers who are also Facebook friends: So if I know Dasher and Dancer and all them, why would I NOT recall the most famous reindeer of all?

That has bothered me ever since it occurred to me. Now I’ve been looking for other examples of silly lyrics in Christmas songs.

One of my least favorite songs is “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” (although I love the cover of it by The Count of Sesame Street). “Been so long since I could say/ Sister Susie sitting on a thistle.” (Have I mentioned that before? Note to self: look at last December’s posts before I publish this.)

Has anybody ever in their life said that sentence at all, let alone felt sad that they hadn’t said it in a long time? Can I just say, if you have a sister of whatever name who is in the habit of sitting on thistles and that forms a large part of your conversation, with or without teeth, I would advise you to get out more (that’s not a run-on sentence).

(Note written later: I looked at my last December’s posts but did not read through them all. I think I’m good).

And another thing: why didn’t anybody offer to walk Grandma home? Or maybe go fetch her medication for her? Maybe they were all drinking too much eggnog, but that reminds me, should she have been mixing her medication with eggnog? A good question for Grandma’s pharmacist.

Oh, and before anyone gets snarky about it, obviously the eggnog was spiked, by implication if not by actual booze.

That’s all I’ve come up with so far. I intend to continue listening to Christmas music, however, so I will report further as developments warrant. Maybe on Lame Post Friday.

Musings on Magoo

I know I said yesterday that I would plan a better blog post for today, but nobody really got their hopes up, did they? I hope a Midweek Middle-aged Musing will suffice.

The other day Steven and I watched one of our all time favorite Christmas specials: Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. Like many children in the ’60s (no, not in THEIR 60s, in the years following 1960. Sheesh!), it was our first introduction to the Charles Dickens classic.

The old Mr. Magoo cartoons have fallen into bad repute these days. Some people say they do not find it amusing to make fun of someone’s disability, in this case nearsightedness. This is, of course, a worthy sentiment. If I recall the original cartoons, the joke was that Mr. Magoo was completely oblivious to the fact that he could not see and to all the trouble it got him into. Everything always worked out for him in the end.

That doesn’t make it right to make fun of him, the argument continues. Perhaps not, but consider this: Many vision problems are easily correctable with a pair of glasses, and many people are too cheap, vain or stubborn to provide themselves with glasses. I think cheapness, vanity and stubbornness are OK to make fun of.

Ebenezer Scrooge falls into the cheap category.

“Could I need spectacles?” he asks himself. Then, realizing spectacles cost money: “Must be this gruel. Sour, sour!”

Later the Ghost of Christmas Present: “So you’re the man who’s too tight with a penny to buy himself a pair of spectacles!”

So you see.

If you don’t buy my rationalization, just remind yourself: Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol was made in 1962. We know better now. Use it as a teachable moment and enjoy the show. We did.

And don’t be too cheap to buy yourself a pair of glasses if you need them.

One More Post About Christmas

I hate to see the Christmas season end. I tried to stretch it out a little by playing Christmas music on Monday, and I was glad to hear a few songs I had not heard yet this season.

One was on a mix tape I happened to have in my truck (see previous post about how I like happy, peppy tunes, not ballady, emotional ones): The Count from Sesame Street singing “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” (or is it just “All I Want for Christmas”? But that opens up worlds of possibilities).

I’m not a huge fan of that song in general. I find the usual version, with the whiny kid whistling on every “th” and “s” sound, to be really annoying. The lyrics are fairly moronic, too. “Seems so long since I could say/Sister Susie sitting on a thistle.” OK, even assuming you have a sister named Susie, how often do you really have occasion to mention that she is sitting on a thistle? Even assuming she tends to do that sort of thing. I’m thinking it’s not usual. Oh, and he’d be so happy if he could only whistle. He makes a whistling noise every “s” he sings! How much damn whistling does he intend to do? I bet the kid in that song lost his two front teeth because somebody punched him in the face. Which just goes to prove that violence is not the answer.

Having said all that (I do go on, don’t I?), I like the Count’s version. For one thing, I love the Count. He’s fun, he’s a vampire, and he brings thunder and lightning wherever he goes. What’s not to like? His version of the song has an Eastern European swing to it. He even says at one point, “We love to dance in Transylvania!”

I would like to see a TV Christmas Special of the Count. They could call it “Christmas in Transylvania.” Maybe in 2012. In the meantime, I’ll pack away my Christmas music with a wistful smile and look for something else to blog about tomorrow.

A Little More Christmas

Friday my Mom called up and asked did we want some company. She and Dad had mentioned driving out to Herkimer to see our decorations, but I didn’t think they’d actually make it. So the house was kind of a mess. What a surprise.

It was Steven’s day off, and he was in the midst of washing Thursday’s dishes (I usually let them sit, in case the Dish Fairies want to do them in the night. It could happen). I was comfortably lounged on the couch reading a biography by A. Scott Berg: Max Perkins, Editor of Genius. Excellent book. Highly recommend it.

I jumped up, of course, and began what a friend of mine refers to as Wonder Woman Hour. She used to have Wonder Woman Hour just before her husband came home, when she was a stay at home mom. She has full time a job now (plus a couple of part time), but I like to believe she still indulges in Wonder Woman Hour when the situation calls for it. Come to think of it, with a full time and a couple of part time jobs, Wonder Woman Hour is probably the only way to clean the house. But I digress.

We worked wonders with our house, the downstairs anyways. I am a great advocate of the stuff and cram method of cleaning. I stuffed many things in our second bedroom upstairs and closed the door. Oh, wait, I’m still digressing. Back to our post Christmas visit.

My Mom, Dad and sister Cheryl came over and admired all our decorations: our tree, the Santa Clauses on the buffet and dining room table, the tea pots and toys on the mantle, the Santas and mugs on the window sill in the kitchen. For being a Not As Decorated year, we have a lot of decorations out. Cheryl had brought us a lovely Santa that lights up and moves. We gave Mom and Dad the presents we had for the sisters, nieces and nephew we have not seen this holiday.

We had a nice visit over coffee. During the course of the visit I mentioned the Hallmark singing snowman I had seen for half price at Hummel’s. Perhaps you are familiar with the singing snowmen Hallmark has offered in the last few years. In 2010 Hallmark did a Snoopy, which we found less inspiring, but for a number of years before that, Steven and I had acquired every one. For 2011, Hallmark is back to snowmen, and I liked the one I saw.

When they got ready to go, Cheryl said, “And we’ll go by Hummel’s and buy the snowman.” I had also mentioned the Ilion Farmer’s Market, which I love sharing with others. We knew Tabby was welcome at both places, so we snapped on her leash, jumped in our cars and off we went.

The singing snowmen were on a table right next to the downstairs cash register, so we grabbed them quickly. Then Steven and I led the way to Clapsaddle Farm on Otsego Street in Ilion. It was a fun interlude. My family headed back home, and Steven and I headed back to Herkimer. I felt we had extended our Christmas just a little bit and am wondering what else I can do to continue the holiday spirit.

Christmas Ain’t Over Yet

Subtitled It’s Not Easy Being Me.

One of the nice things about having a large-ish family fairly spread out (I know, other families make us look small and close, but we’re not talking about them) is that Christmas just has to last a little longer. My sister from Pennsylvania is coming to Rome (where my parents live) on Wednesday (today) and my sister from Liverpool is coming for New Years.

As you may know, I am not the sort that gets things done early. Give me two more days and whatever I have to get done will take two more days. I finished the last afghan for the last nephew last night (this is not counting the late afghans I intend to make for the nieces that donated their afghans to the nursing home). That wasn’t so bad. It made a good excuse to watch television instead of clean the house. I caught a City Confidential, an On the Case with Paula Zahn, and when Steven came home we watched a few sit coms we had DVR’d last spring (that also gave us the virtuous feeling that we had accomplished a task procrastinated).

Before I had settled on the couch with my crochet hook, I made some White Trash. I had the ingredients for one more batch and had not yet reached White Trash Making Overload (stirring the melted white chocolate over the cereal and stuff can get tiresome). I still have not reached Overload, so on my next trip to the grocery store I may snag some more white chocolate chips.

This morning, then, all I had to do was wrap the presents. Ugh. I am a terrible wrapper. And we’re running out of wrapping paper. I decided while wrapping the second afghan of the day that next year everybody in my family is getting small presents. You would expect me to come to that conclusion later, when I load the car by myself (husband’s work schedule dictates) (come to think of it, I did come to that conclusion the last time I loaded the car by myself, about five years ago, the last time I gave a bunch of afghans for Christmas. How quickly we forget). The worst moment of the morning, however, was when I realized I was using Care Bear wrapping paper. How in the world did we get Care Bear wrapping paper? I hate those damn bears! I suppose they must have been in a package of several different patterns. I comforted myself with the reflection that the paper will get ripped and recycled.

After dropping Steven off at work, I had to gas up the car, go to the grocery store, and go to Hummel’s to make copies and buy the last ingredient for the last present to be wrapped. I don’t usually drive the car. Two blocks from the gas station I realized I did not know which side the gas cap is on. The dashboard does not have a handy arrow showing me, like my truck does (I still consult the arrow some days and I’ve been driving that truck for six years). For a wonder, I guessed right the first time. I still had to back up and maneuver, though. I am really a lousy driver.

As I drove down the main drag, I realized I had no compelling reason to go to the grocery store today. Woo hoo! Cross something off my list with no more effort than thought! At Hummels’ Office Plus I needed to make a copy of a story I had written for my niece Camille to illustrate. I had printed the story out then cut and pasted to have only a paragraph or two per page. I bought the kind of binder with a plastic sleeve on the cover, for a title page. The Ghost Who Liked Christmas. Written by Aunt Cindy. Illustrated by Camille. I felt so creative and only a little bit guilty. I’ve had nieces and nephews since the mid ’80s. Why didn’t I write stories for all of them? Let’s not go there. It’s Christmas (that excuse should be good till January 6 anyways).

I paused amidst these gyrations to make the blog post which you are now reading (if you are still reading) (which, I guess you are). One more present to get ready, a dog to walk, a shower to take, a car to load and a husband to collect. Till then, it’s still Christmas! So Merry Christmas!

After Christmas Trash

I have not been doing anything Mohawk Valley-ish, as I like to describe it, but I have been good about taking my good little dog for walks.

Today is Garbage Day in Herkimer (doesn’t it sound like a holiday when I capitalize it?). Post Christmas trash in distinctive. Gobs of wrapping paper sticking out of the recycling containers. Herkimer and I think Oneida County now does “one and done” for recycling. Instead of putting things separately in clear plastic bags, we can put everything into one container. We bought a Rubbermaid trash can on wheels for the purpose. I noticed some people are still doing the clear plastic bag thing, which certainly looks more festive on the Garbage Day after Christmas.

Also in the recycling are all the boxes from new Christmas toys. That is a cheering sight. I like to think of all those kids, off school for the week and playing with their new things. I hope they are not tired of them yet.

I saw one tree by the curb, minus most of its needles. Did the people forget to water it? I know some people take their tree down the day after Christmas, but I think that is depressing. Can’t you at least wait till New Years? There is some tradition you are supposed to wait till the Epiphany, January 6, and my Mom told me the priest at her church insists the correct day to take down decorations is January 9. I think our stuff is likely to come down on Steven’s next day off after New Years.

So I’m enjoying the decorations left up while I can. Walking in the daylight — and today is a gloomy day such as I enjoy — of course lights are not on. And those big blow up decorations are all limp and a little sad looking. Some of them look as if they have been partying heartily. I guess that’s seasonal, too. One house has a blow up snowman on the porch. That seems to me a good place to put him, because during the day his limp, sad state is hidden.

We saw a couple of other dogs on our ramble today. Tabby was particularly interested in a little one in a pink coat. Tabby has a coat for the really cold days. Some people would say, “She doesn’t need a coat! She has a fur coat of her own!” That is, of course, true. However, she has that coat on indoors as well. My Mom always told me to don’t wear my coat in the house, because I’d be cold when I went outdoors. I know, dogs are different.

I enjoyed our post-Christmas walk. Exercise, of course, is good for a post-Christmas letdown or other depression. I could even be grateful it was not a white Christmas after all. Bare sidewalks and no need to shovel the driveway when I got back home. That’s the gift that keeps giving!

I’m afraid when some people saw my headline, they were expecting me to expound once again on the snack I like to make (but like better to eat) White Trash. Sorry if I disappointed anybody. In fact I do plan to make a batch of White Trash later. I wonder if I could get a blog post out of that.

Christmas Carol Rant

I’ve actually ranted this rant a number of times. Most recently I went off on this stuff Christmas Eve, then said to my nieces they didn’t need to read my next blog post; they’d just heard it. The next day one niece asked if I had indeed blogged about it. I had not. So here it is.

I love Christmas music. I think it is one of the best things about the best time of year. I love Christmas music so much, sometimes it makes me cry. That said, I really REALLY HATE what some singers do to Christmas songs.

I like peppy, happy Christmas songs. I can be-bop to Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” all day long. I don’t like ballads in the best of times. And what I really can’t stand is a drawn out, slowed down ballad that you have no idea when it is ever going to end.

Singers, like all of us, can be self indulgent. Sometimes they indulge themselves with long, drawn out notes in ballady, emotional songs (my computer is telling be ballady is not a word, but I think it is descriptive). Sometimes they sing as if they are being paid by the hour, adding syllables where none existed or making the syllables that are there last way beyond their natural life.

I studied music in high school. I know that the different shaped notes mean you hold them for specific lengths of time: this note lasts a quarter beat, that note lasts two beats. How long a beat is may vary, but within those confines we have a specific rhythm which the songwriter intended. This is comforting to me. It means that a song, however many verses it may have, will eventually end. There is one — only one that I know of — symbol which placed over a note means you can hold it a little longer. This symbol usually is placed on one only one note in a song, often the last note. Many singers behave as if this symbol is over every damn note in the song.

I hate it! You never know when the song is going to end — you never even know when you are going to get to the next line! I listen to the song saying, “Get on with it! Go to the next note already!” I imagine there are songwriters turning over in their graves, or at least cringing as they cash their royalty checks.

This happens in music all the time, but I tend to notice it most often at Christmas. I believe it springs from a number of factors: I listen to music more at Christmas, and many Christmas songs tend to lend themselves to this sort of emotional self-indulgence. Christmas is an emotional time (hence my crying over Christmas songs).

One may ask, why am I being such a Scrooge or Grinch about this (choose your favorite fictional reference)? This person would say to me, “Let the singers sing how they want to sing! Some of us like to hear it that way!” Oh well, to each his own as the old lady said when she kissed the cow. If you like that sort of thing, listen away. You have plenty of opportunity. For myself, I will make some more mix tapes of my favorite peppy, happy tunes and dance and sing the rest of this Christmas time away. Happy days, all!

Christmas Eve Walks

I don’t have anything mushy or profound to post on Christmas Day. Instead I have a fairly pedestrian post about walks I took with my dog Tabby on Christmas Eve.

Steven had to work from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. while my assignment was to get The Rest of Christmas Ready before heading to Rome and my parents’ house. Naturally as soon as he left the house, I got right to work. And by “to work” of course I mean onto the computer to make my blog post and check out what people were posting on Facebook. Then a walk was in order.

The walk was actually of a practical nature, because we went to the Post Office to mail out a couple of bills that were soon due. It was delightfully quiet in the neighborhood, although quite cold. The lobby of the post office was open, but not the window. Actually, I would expect the post office to be quiet on Christmas Eve, because then it is a little too late for Christmas cards or mailing presents. I remembered how last Christmas I had vowed I was going to mail everybody their Christmas presents so as not to have to load so much stuff into the car Christmas Eve. It was the first I had thought of that vow since I had made it, so you see how well it worked out.

After mailing the bills, Tabby wanted to keep walking, so I let her pull me here and there. The only thing I refused her was crossing Route 5, not so delightfully quiet. It might have been fun, since we rarely walk on that side of town, but I felt it was too cold. We would just have had to cross back again, and it was really too far if Tabby suddenly got sick of walking, as she occasionally does. We walked down Albany Street instead, another street we’re not often on. Tabby looked longingly at First Source Credit Union as we went by, but I assured her that nobody was there to give her a treat. The walk ended up taking a half hour. I felt exercised.

Later that morning, we went for another walk. I intended to give Tabby a bath and wanted to give her every opportunity to relieve herself first. I like to give Tabby a bath before we go on a visit. Friday might have been a better day, and Steven might have been able to help me then, but things do not always work out as we plan. The second walk was shorter and one of the usual routes: over to the Historic Four Corners, down through the little park at Basloe Library, the up Prospect Street to East German. I was surprised to see the streets were almost as quiet as they had been earlier. Some of the residential areas seemed almost deserted. I guess everybody went away for Christmas.

Tabby was not best pleased about the bath, but she endured like the good dog she is, so I was able to get her all pretty to go visit my parents. We took the third walk after she was dry. She indicated the desire for another business meeting, and I was not about to let a brand clean dog run by herself into the backyard. I put her on the leash and walked her around the block.

In between these walks, I made guacamole and chicken wing dip, wrapped presents, cleaned up after myself and generally finished up the Christmas chores. When Steven got home, we were ready but not raring to go. I was tired after my various exertions. Tabby, of course, got her second wind as soon as she saw us loading the car. When I picked up the kennel, there was no stopping her! We were off the celebrate Christmas!

Historic Christmas Present

For the last Christmas present for my husband, Steven, I made my way to one of my all time favorite places to shop: the Ilion Farmer’s Market at Clapsaddle Farm on Otsego Street.

I’ve blogged about the Farmer’s Market many times and will no doubt do so again. It is run by folk artist Jim Parker, which is why I needed to shop there Friday. I wanted to give Steven a Parker print. Steven has a real knack for decorating, and he especially loves to hang nice things on the wall. A nice print which we can get framed seemed a perfect gift.

I decided on a picture of Herkimer which Parker designed for the village’s bicentennial in 2007. It shows an aerial view of the village with a few close ups in bubbles, most notably of my beloved Historic Four Corners. It’s matted, so we can hang it right away, while we search for a frame. Or we may decide to take it somewhere, perhaps the Frame Place in Mohawk. That might make another good blog post.

At another vendor, I purchased a handmade pin of a sleigh with Santa painted on it. Very pretty. I tried a sample of their delicious fudge, but resisted the temptation to buy any of that.

Thousand Islands Winery was there, much to my delight. I’ve been at Thousand Islands Winery several times. In fact, every time I visit some friends who live in Theresa, NY, I ask to go to the winery. I got into quite a conversation with the man there, while I sampled a few of his wines. He was especially grateful when I asked to sample the Cabernet Sauvignon, because he had to open a new bottle. He had been wanting to sip a little of that himself. I bought a bottle, to contribute to my own merry Christmas. I’ll bring it to my parents’ house and share.

While I was tasting and chatting, Jim Parker came over and said hello. I showed him my purchase (the print, not the wine), and told him how I almost never come to the Farmer’s Market without my husband but made the special trip to get the present. Jim mentioned that he had designed the print for Herkimer’s bicentennial and told me he was working on a design for the upcoming bicentennial of the War of 1812. We talked a little bit about that war (not that I know much about it), and I mentioned the book I recently read about The Battle of Oriskany by Alan Foote (and blogged about it, if you happened to catch that post). I knew I had read something about the War of 1812, but the only American history I could recall reading was the Foote book. Jim told me about a man who was a boy during the Battle of Oriskany, went on to play a role in the War of 1812, and built Clapsaddle Farm. Jim is currently reading a book about the War of 1812 which he checked out of the Ilion Library. I said I would go to the library in two weeks and ask for “the book Jim Parker just checked out.”

I just love the Ilion Farmer’s Market. And Steven loved his print. I made him open it Friday night. For one thing, when he saw the pin and bottle of wine, he would have known I went to the Farmer’s Market. Why would I go to the Farmer’s Market December 23 if not to buy my hubby a present?

Counting Down to Christmas

Subtitled Take Charge But Not Independent. This morning (Friday), Steven and I tried to finish our Christmas stuff.

We did not get as early a start as I had wanted (do I ever?), but stopped for a good breakfast at Philly’s in Herkimer. I breakfasted conservatively (calorically speaking) on poached eggs with sourdough toast. Steven ate more heartily: bacon, egg and cheese on grilled Texas toast with home fries. He works later (actually he is shaving for that even as I type this). I tasted his potatoes. Yummy.

From there we headed to Wal-Mart. I had previously gotten the wrong color yarn for an afghan I am hoping to complete soon, and we needed to get a … for … (my family actually rarely if ever reads my blog, but you never know. Better safe than sorry). It was crowded even for 9 a.m., but we lived to tell the tale.

Then it was off to Ilion to pick up Steven’s new glasses at Dr. Henry’s office. I made an appointment to get my eyes examined there, next week, so you can look forward to that blog post. We drove home by way of Mohawk (I’ll post a map if I ever figure out how), so stopped by the Dollar Store (or was it Dollar General? I can never remember which is which) and got dog treats to complete Tabby’s stocking.

A quick stop at Hannaford, where we did not purchase all we needed (neglected to make a list), then a trip out to Heidelberg Bakery to get bread to bring to my Mom and Dad’s house for Christmas dinner. I felt we had done a lot.

Back home, we did some wrapping, and I started working on the … I’m trying to make for … We’ll see how that turns out. Someday I’ll learn how to post pictures and I can do an illustrated blog. I also made some White Trash. I think I can make one more batch before I get sick of making it and vow to never make it again (I may have mentioned, the vow lasts about a year, two at most).

I don’t know how interesting this post has been. I’ve sat here at the computer and pounded it out while Steven shaved. Once he gets his work pants on, I’ll read it to him and get his opinion. Well, it is Friday. I know I did my Lame Post for the week yesterday, but as they often say as an excuse, an encouragement, or just an observation: It’s Christmas!