It Happened On A Monday

It happened on a Monday. It could have just as easily happened on a Tuesday or a Thursday, but yes, it was a Monday.

It happened at 6:30 pm to be specific. Again it could have been anytime but I remember it well and it was definitely 6:30 pm on a Monday.

What am I talking about? Mac’s first band concert, of course.

It seems Mac has decided to play the tuba this year – 6th grade. (Can you believe it? Wasn’t he in kindergarten just last year?)

There were tryouts at the beginning of the year on many different instruments. Mac blew into the tuba mouthpiece and the director announced he was “a natural”. My interpretation– “We are short of tuba players and you look pretty good.”

Anyway, Mac now believes he was born to play tuba, which is a good thing. He is in the beginning band, a very good thing. And they had their first concert last Monday night . . . . . at 6:30 pm, a very, very good thing.

The evening started out with Gramps and me arriving at the school and coming in to the auditorium through the back door. All the kids were nicely seated in the audience section and no parents were anywhere to be seen. Suddenly Mac stood up and said to us, “You can’t be here!” What ever happened to “Hello Granny”?

We smiled and waved to him. “Hi, Mac.” Again, “You can’t be here!” He’s very big on rules and regulations lately.

“OK” we said. “We’re leaving. Where are we supposed to be?”

Mac. “Out in the hall! You can’t be here!”

I’m not sure to this day what we were not supposed to see but obligingly we went to the hallway and there were all the other families waiting patiently.

Finally we were allowed back into the auditorium and all the kids were by then on stage in their performance seats. Of course, we could not see Mac. He was one of the four tubas in the back row.

The concert was great with lots of Christmas music. All the instruments were featured throughout the evening including the four tubas in the back row.

The time passed too quickly and before we knew it we were hugging Mac back out in the hall. “Congratulations” and “Good Job” were heard from everyone. Mac was beaming.

How special for him to have both parents and both sets of grandparents hugging him and telling him how great he did. Even his great uncle, a musician, made an appearance and was very impressed.

Nothing feels better than family hugs. Nothing sounds better than family applause. Nothing feels better than family support. Even if it just happened to be a first time ever band concert on a Monday night at 6:30 pm.

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Dresses For Christmas

What could be better than a new dress for Christmas? Say a dress made of white Batiste with cranberry trim and maybe some smocking? Maybe it would have a beautiful little green ribbon running through the threads of the smocking and maybe the tie would be cranberry too?

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Would that dress be the prettiest thing you ever saw? Would a granddaughter of eight years old think it was the best dress ever made for her?

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Would Christmas be just that much better wearing a new dress made just for you? Would you feel like a princess in a crisp white dress ironed just so and stitched with all the love possible?

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Would the pictures taken of a dark haired girl in the new white dress be all the more precious because her grandmother made the dress just for her? Would the dark haired girl feel the same because she knew the dress was meant for no one else but her?

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What could be better than a new dress for Christmas? How about two new dresses for Christmas? How about a dark haired granddaughter and a fair haired great-granddaughter in matching dresses? How about Christmas memories that will last a lifetime for two?

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Is that not that the best picture for Christmas? Two precious girls, in two precious dresses, at the same time? Am I the luckiest Granny ever?

Sometimes Christmas Comes After Christmas

Sometimes Christmas doesn’t happen on Christmas Day.  Sometimes people are working. Sometimes family members can’t get together on a particular day.  Sometimes Christmas comes after Christmas.

That’s the way it was in our house this year.  Our Christmas came on December 27th. Two days after the official day, our family got together for a Christmas pancake brunch and gift exchange.

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Of course, all the decorations were still up, because this was our Christmas. The miniature Snowflake Village was in place with all the required snow and Victorian buildings. There is even a pond with skaters!

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The collection of Santas lined the short wall between the dining room and living room. My favorite is the small white felt Santa who holds his own among all the giants.

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The fireplace mantel is a tribute to my mother, who was a supreme baker, especially at Christmastime.  Anything having to do with candy and sweets can be found there.

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The card holder is a set of shutters I painted and stenciled specifically for its Christmas charm. I love it standing so tall next the fireplace.

We don’t have much room for a Christmas tree, but the tall narrow tree seems to fit pretty well.  We have many decorations collected over more than forty-five years.  It is very  nostalgic to handle each one while decorating the tree.  We are tinsel people and always have been.  I know it’s going out of fashion, but I love it.

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The table is all set and ready for everyone to arrive.  An hour or so later it was full of family, pancakes, eggs, bacon, biscuits and cinnamon rolls.  Everyone had their fill before emptying the tree of all its gifts.

Outside it was rainy, windy and cold.  Inside it was warm with a fire, bright with all the lights, happy with everyone talking and laughing.

Outside it was unpleasant.  Inside it was family.

Outside it was miserable.  Inside it was Christmas!

 

 

 

A Retreat Of Beginnings

Every October my quilting group has a retreat. We go to a special place, at a special time, for a special activity. Each time the retreat seems to take on a life of its own. This year, it seemed to have an aura of beginnings, of starts, of onsets. Sometimes people are finishing quilts or projects, binding, sewing on labels or putting on the finishing touches, but this time brought out new squares, not-seen-before projects, uncut fabrics and patterns to try out.  It was all very exciting and challenging.  New projects, new quilts, new ideas. What fun!

IMG_0890 This unfinished piece is a wall hanging made out of wool, in the Noah’s Ark theme.

IMG_0891Another closeup of the animals in wool.  What a great beginning!

IMG_0898This beautiful start of a quilt is made from handkerchiefs.  It will be spectacular when finished.

IMG_0897Aren’t these aprons bright and beautiful?  AND they are DONE!

IMG_0894This quilt was started just in time for Halloween.  What a cutie!

IMG_0895A closeup of one of the Halloween quilt squares.  What a hoot!

IMG_0896A witch to contend with!

IMG_0893This interesting piece is a pillow top made with a handkerchief and thread painting.

IMG_0892This adorable doll dress was the first of about six dresses made.  What a lucky girl and her doll will receive these for Christmas!

IMG_0905Doesn’t this quilt look like Argyle socks? I think it will be just as comfortable and cozy.

IMG_0904This almost done baby quilt is for a baby named Scout.  How perfect is that?

IMG_0903The shimmering cross made with all fabrics that have gold threads in them.  Gorgeous!

IMG_0902Won’t this one be beautiful when it is finished?  It’s certainly on its way!

IMG_0901This quilt is made of college colors and looks stunning.  I can hardly wait until it is all sewn together!

IMG_0900This will be one stunning Christmas quilt when completed.

IMG_0899How fabulous is this sampler!  The quilter worked all day attaching the piano keys border!

All of these projects were so inspirational.  Each one made me want to break out new fabric, new patterns, new thread, and to start new quilts.  The problem with all new beginnings is that they have to be finished eventually!

Gift Tags From Christmas Cards

What to do with all those lovely Christmas cards! Too pretty to toss, too meaningful not to keep and too cumbersome to just collect over the years. I have a solution that I have used for many years. I make gift tags from the cards. It is easy and very eco-friendly . . . as in recycling.

This year I made more than 180 tags from about 45 cards (that’s two years worth). Any cards can be used . . . Birthday, Easter, Thank You, etc.Tag - TraceATag 2I have a set of templates that I use, but you can use any shape you like, such as cookie cutters, or coloring book pages. I just like these because they look like luggage tags and don’t have any curves to cut.Card - Seasons

I pick a card and lay the templates on. Simple as that! Having different sizes helps to get every inch of the design of the card used.Tag - Four Angels

Then just cut them out. Be mindful of where you will punch a hole or where you will write a name. Sometimes that makes a difference.Tag - Bird II

Always look on the back of the card. Sometimes there are little gems there. (Sorry about the flash. I’m slowly getting this photography thing down!).Tag - Wishing

And don’t worry about everything being square and even. Tag - Wishing & Cutout

Sometimes cattywhompus looks cool!Card - Come & Behold

Here is the front of a card I used. (Again, sorry for the flash.)Card - May Your

And the center of the same card.Tag - Nine

These are all the gift tags I cut from the one card. Amazing isn’t it? They are all unique and all beautiful.Tag - Layout 4

If you want, you can always punch attachment holes in the tags or just tape them on the packages. Tag - Layout 2

Here are more samples of tags from my Christmas cards. They are all ready for next year’s packages and gifts. What could be more personal and say Merry Christmas better than this?

It’s Just A Day

Gramps and I are on the road, headed for Arizona to visit our niece,her husband and our “spiritual” grandchildren x 6. Our rental car is packed to the roof with Christmas gifts for young and old. Yes, I know Christmas was 6 days ago, but what’s a day? Or two? Or more?

We have never had Christmas with this special family since we became honorary Dad/Mom and Gramps/Granny. They weren’t able to come to our house for the holiday, so . . . . logic says we take Christmas to them. Even though we had Christmas with the other children and grandchildren on the designated, accepted day, we still wanted to take Christmas to Arizona.

So here we are on December 31 celebrating Christmas away from home with our “new” daughter, son-in-law and 5 of the 6 “new” grandkids. And you know what? It feels exactly like Christmas did last week!

What is Christmas after all? It’s just a day. If you can’t enjoy the actual day, pick another. It will work just as well. Or do as we have done . . . . rejoice 2 or 3 times over. How fun is that?

I have a very special memory from my childhood of the year we had 2 Christmases. According to my parents, Santa had forgotten to stop at our house and was coming back to deliver our gifts. The 3 of us children bought this story completely and were excited beyond belief that Santa would do such a thing for us. We were treated like royalty at school! No one else had ever gotten such special treatment from Santa. All the kids thought we 3 had an inside link to the bearded man! It wasn’t until I was an adult that I figured out why this all happened . . . . my parents couldn’t afford Christmas and had to wait for the after-Christmas sales to get our gifts. Can you imagine how hard this was for them and yet they were able to make it into one of the best memories for us. That was the true gift we all got that year and none of us have ever forgotten. We “kids”, all in our 60’s, still talk about the year we had 2 Christmases as one of the best ever.

A true Christmas can happen any day, any where, with or without wrapped presents. The love, the sharing, the giving cannot be put in a box with a bow. Although I’m not discounting the thrill of opening a present, big or little, given with thought and creativity.

This “2nd” Christmas has everything the first one had last week . . . . family, laughter, surprises, thank yous, piles of wrapping paper,lost little plastic men, good food, shared music, rowdy boys, exhausted adults. The only things different are one squealing, giggly little girl (the only granddaughter) and the neighbors here are watching reruns and eating mac and cheese. I think we are definitely having more fun! Maybe every year should have 2 Christmases!

The Best Christmas Gift

Here we are! It’s after Christmas . . . we made it . . . we are alive and well! Wasn’t it grand? I hope yours was as memorable as ours.

Gramps and I have been recollecting the holiday events, remembering the jokes, rehashing the conversations, reminiscing the family gatherings and generally reliving the last 4-5 days. It makes them seem to last far longer. And really, aren’t the memories what it’s all about anyway?

Santa was so good to us this year. We got more than we deserved . . . because if we got what we deserved, it would probably always be more coal that candy.

First, Granny received a new toaster oven from Gramps. Our old toaster (a wedding gift, making it 43 . . .yes, 43 years old!) finally died. Thank you, Sweetie!

Next, Christmas day brought lots of hugs and kisses from little boys. Love those!. Also many laughs, giggles plus yells, screams, hiyahs, booms, bangs, yahoos, yipees, and wahoos. Did I mention 2 6yos and a 3yo for a whole day!

The tree was overflowing with presents for young and old but mostly for young. The oldsters had more fun watching the youngsters play with their toys than playing with their own. As it should be!

The house looked great (see previous blog) and smelled pretty good too. A turkey was baking in the oven, pies cooling on the counter and gravy simmering on the stove. The table set and all were in their places at Granny’s big dining table. The meal was a success in every sense. We all ate, laughed, shared and ate some more. Whew! I’m still stuffed!

When all was said and done, it was a perfect day! No, not that kind of perfect   . . . . we did make a mess, a glass of milk was spilled at the table, several children cried periodically, discipline was administered, statements were misunderstood, an ornament was broken and Granny was absolutely exhausted. But the Spirit of Christmas was among us and all our wishes came true.

We were together with the ones we love. We enjoyed good music, good food, good humor, good hospitality. We exchanged thoughtful and creative gifts. We shared good times, good thoughts, good wishes. AND THERE WAS PEACE THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE. AMEN.

Love to all of you, my Sweeties, from a happy, fat, exhausted Granny!