Christmas season is here. And it came so early! I’m still working through Thanksgiving festivities, putting fall decorations away and pulling out my Christmas decor. I love Christmas. It was also my mother’s favorite holiday. By now, my mother would have her Christmas cards written out with Christmas postage. Her cards would be sent out the second week of December. Cards my parents received in the mail would be displayed perfectly on a decorative ribbon above the mantel. Every single card.
My Christmas cards are not written out – yet. But I have four new boxes of holiday cards to send out this season. What happened to snail mail cards? My friend Jeannie and I were having this conversation recently. Years of postage increase? Perhaps it’s time management? Perhaps we lost sight of what the Christmas card greeting truly means? I don’t know why card sending has become less and less over the years, but one thing for sure Hallmark and American Greeting card companies are still boxing up the favorites. My trip to Wegmans the week before Thanksgiving, I found a box of adorable holiday cards with Golden Retrievers on the front that caught my eye as I stood in the check out line. Fourteen dollars later they came home with me. It was an impulse purchase but I couldn’t help it, the dog needed to come home with me. The dog on the card in a box of twelve.
A friend who lives up north sent me a message regarding my new address. Yvonne wanted to double check the return address lable. It’s that time of year when we double check our address books. I have an address file on my laptop – however I still have my old fashion written down in a book [Susan Branch address book] address list. As a matter of fact, I believe Yvonne gifted me the Susan Branch address book from moons ago when we were teaching at the same pre-school! And I mean moons ago!
Vintage cards with glitter. Victorian post cards and family portraits of yesteryear are some of my favorite.
Christmas greetings come in so many ways to express the season. And that’s what is so awesome about receiving a snail mail Christmas greeting. Whether it’s humorous, warm and serious, religious or affectionate, you can’t deny the fact a Christmas card doesn’t warm your heart.
My mother-in-law loved summer, but she welcomed autumn with a broad smile anticipating cooler temperatures for her special sweaters. Once November officially arrived she would begin decorating for another favorite. Thanksgiving.
This November will be hard for Football Superstar and our family. October 10th we received a phone call Mom K. passed away in her sleep – suddenly – unexpectantly.
The quietness of our drive back home had me focused on everything this matriarch stood for. Her family, her church, friends and of course the ocean. Bridge every week with a dose of water aerobics. Adding to her photo album [she had dozens of them] or watching Penn State football games from her recliner. She gave so much to so many and ask nothing in return – well maybe more photos of the kids and the dogs and us.
Mom K. would make her Sunday evening phone call to us and if we couldn’t be reached I made sure we spoke on the phone a day or two later. I’m so happy our Sunday phone call happened on the evening of the 6th. She talked endlessly about how Penn State dominated the game. As always we talked about the kids, the dogs and life. This conversation Mom K. was focused on College Daughters graduation. Mom K. must have said a half dozen times how proud she is of College Daughter. But Mom K. was proud of each one of her grandchildren. If there was a Proud Grammy award she earned it.
Mom K. will be buried with her beloved husband in Arlington National Cemetery. Her memorial took place in Pennsylvania at the very church she and my father-in-law were married in. The very church she met the love of her life after her parents moved their family from NY. My inlaws story sounded very much like a romance novel. Her story was adventurous. While raising five boys Mom K. would tell you nothing frightened her. Broken bones, concussions and endless hospital visits for stitches all while my father-in-law was running the family business – she somehow came through each season smiling.
It’s quiet on Sunday evenings as I wait for the phone to ring. And yet I remind myself that living shy of 95 years and being a part of her life – I do have my Sunday evening phone calls. I just quietly whisper to her ” what a game! …..I love you”.
Here I am again – trying to hang on to the last specs of summer. Autumn doesn’t officially arrive until September 23rd. But you would think it is here in full bloom from the likes of advertisements and discarded Starbuck cups that contained Pumpkin Spiced latte or chai. Starbucks, Costco (sigh), Target, WalMart and Wegmans would have you believe it’s fall Autumn. I prefer the word Autumn. My mother always used the word Autumn when Autumn truly came to its peak season. Not in August or Labor Day weekend. Not on September 10th. Autumn came on the day Autumnal Equinox was posted in the Farmer’s Almanac. My mother was not a farmer. She wasn’t raised on a farm. But she certainly enjoyed reading the Farmer’s Almanac for gardening tips and actual dates for Autumn. I digressed…….
So today like any other Monday I decided to check my e-mail in hopes that I had something exciting – perhaps even a little something in my box from one of the two publishers that have me hanging on a thread. Nothing except the advertisements for “M” publishing letting me know I may submit a draft to them any time. Um, that already happened months ago. The advertisement on the side of my inbox was no less Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced latte. Come and get it now! What? Are they going to run out of artificial pumpkin spiced flavoring? So with having little to no interest for my draft with publisher #1, I sent an e-mail to publisher #2. #2 was suggested by a friend. Mark told me he published three magazine articles and co-wrote one book through this company and he was very pleased with how they handled each step. Either I need to change the animal in my book to a fish or how to fly fish because little to no interest is what I’m collecting at this time. It’s draining to me and I feel defeated. I really never have the feeling of defeat. I sometimes get poo-pooey when it comes to not having a plan or idea fall in place when I’ve worked hard on it. Sometimes I just put the plan or idea aside and come back to it when my mind has cleared or as I’ve experienced lately “writters block”. And it’s twice as poo-pooey when #1 publisher indicated they were a little interested in my idea. My draft and those pictures that were attached to the draft. A little interested is better than no little interest. I had a dream that someone published a book – and their writing style was mine. The pictures were actually my animal in the book and the author was lucky enough to have a display set up directly front and center at my local Barnes & Noble. I rarely remember dreams but that one woke me up and I was ready to hire an attorney until I looked around in my bedroom noticing Football Superstar was still sleeping in our bed – not sitting in the spectators area in a court room as I filed a motion to whatever. If I had my mother sitting here with me I know exactly what she would tell me to do. And with that I will end this post here. I’ll get back to cleaning my deck off from falling leaves – and make a pitcher of iced tea for later this afternoon. I’ll enjoy my last specs of summer before autumnal Equinox comes to greet me.
Happy last specs of summer ~ and remember a little is better than no little
I can’t say I enjoy making trips to Walmart. I prefer Costco and Wegmans but there are some things I just can’t get from Wegmans and lets face it, one doesn’t always need a thousand count package of protein bars from Costco. So off to Walmart I went this morning in the misty rain listening to 80’s music on DCTalk radio. This trip didn’t include protein bars or any other type of protein. This trip to Walmart was for five more dividers (5 count, 8 CLEAR tabs) packs and a 24 pack of colored pencils, a (black) 1.5″ binder and a large container of Ice Breakers spearmint gum. I’m guessing the gum is not for French ll class. After ordering and gathering the essentials for Apple’s new school year a week ago – yesterday was the first day of school for her. I’ve learned over the years there may be one or two classes that need specific items. Like tissues. Paper towels.
Sharpies too. Sharpies have so much more to offer than adding your kids name on items in huge BLOCK letters to avoid theft in the lunch room. On Apple’s YETI water bottle our last name was not only in BLOCK letters but it was written with the extra bold point Sharpie! Yeah, well that’ll stop you from taking her bright sea foam blue YETI water bottle.
An hour later I collected everything needed from the yellow sticky note list Apple posted on my arm this morning before she sat down to eat her Cheerios. Like I was going to somehow forget the 1.5″ black binder, she took a Sharpie orange highlighter and made a dozen circles around the word Binder. Exhausted and hungry I walked over to the cracker/cookie/snack aisle and found Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies staring at me. I thought to myself I shouldn’t. I really should NOT because my doctor put me on a restricted diet which does not include sugars, carbs and cholesterol. Dang you Pepperidge Farm! I looked at the Milano flavors I would typcially find at Wegmans but this day I found two of the best flavor marriages. Dark chocolate and sea salt. It felt like fifteen mintues went but it was only a matter of seconds when I quickly grabbed a bag and placed it in my cart behind the 1.5″ black binder. Just in case my doctor was at Walmart and she would point out the bag of Milano’s. Highly doubt that would happen but it’s me so you never know!
I’m standing in the check out line #5. As I begin to place my items on the belt, a woman behind me was looking towards my cart. She didn’t look happy but she certainly didn’t look mad either – she was just looking. So I tried not to make eye contact with her and continue doing my own thing. Just then she said “oh, wow, those cookies look delicious!”. Oh, so that’s what she was doing! Staring at my bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano dark chocolate sea salt marriage of a cookie! We began chatting about the combo of chocolate and sea salt. Caramel and sea salt are amazing. This is a first we both noticed this particular flavor. I’m beginning to pay when I thought what the heck…why not. I found the bag of cookies after I payed for my school supplies for French ll class and gum for Resourse and Sharpies when I opened up the dark chocolate sea salt cookies and said lets eat them now! Wide eyed and shocked this woman who was looking sad or mad or just intense on reading what type of cookie bag was hiding behind the 1.5″ binder was smiling like a little girl on her way to Disney to meet Cinderella for the first time. We were knee deep in people behind us – but this woman had a lot more items in her cart so we had time to endulge and enjoy two cookies each as people watched and stared or judged or all three. I didn’t care. Neither did she. And as much as we ooooed and said the word delicious about a dozen times – we never bothered to introduce ourselves. Only enjoyed eating cookies while checking out at Walmart. Two complete strangers brought together all thanks to Pepperidge Farm. Two complete strangers laughing and eating cookies at check out #5. Have a good day and thank you she said as I walked away with my open bag of cookies and school supplies. I drove home giggling as if I did something absolutely crazy during my trip to wonderful Walmart.
Time escapes me once again. Getting another notice that my blog hasn’t been updated or previewed since April. This only means one thing or two – I get a post created and up by sundown (but it’s raining here so I don’t know when that will be) or my blog goes into the black hole of cyber world.
Summer is always a busy time for us. It’s a fun time but busy. Busy can sometimes be a disturbance when you try to organize or schedule the in between important things that must be completed before the next season rolls around. And I’m not ready for the next season. No way. No how.
We took an early trip to the lake a week after Apple got out of school. The week was wonderful. Lake Life has a way of turning our chaos to a simple semi-quiet kind of chaos. In this family there is no way of shutting out the chaos completely. If you’ve ever traveled with a dog that needs to be in the water swimming twenty four hours of her day it’s chaos. She doesn’t care who is around or what is in her way – you watch out because she’s going to make one giant mad leap over your head whether you are in the water swimming or in a kayak. Move. Meanwhile the other four legged furchild is swimming around the lake trying to catch the main course for our evening meal. Mallard wasn’t on our meal plan but it was for him so chaos errupted when he just about had the mister of the duo. No, he wasn’t successful in getting the mallard. But he was cheered on by other lake lifers who have brand new docks and boats. Ducks are like seagulls at times. Messy and always up in your personal space.
We humans had a wonderful time. We were down one since College Daughter was in Kentucky. When the job calls for collecting data one must go to Fort Knox! But don’t frown, she headed to Virginia Beach with friends for a long weekend and will go back to Seattle in a few weeks to visit friends (again) then off to the Chesapeak with us before heading back to work. Life of a college student can be eventful and challenging. I don’t wish to be back there for all the chocolate in the world!
Football Superstar needed to jump back in the work field after returning from the lake. But it didn’t stop him from pulling up his schedule and working through the calendar to see if we can get back to the lake before the end of August. For Murphy, of course!
Since we’ve been back I have had a few staging/home decor request. One for a friend who is moving soon and the other for some signs to be made with repurposed barn wood. It’s certainly a jump start back to the fun of decorating. When working on the furniture side of things I found myself pulling items out of my own home either for upcycled decor or recycled by Patriot trash. haha I really do miss having a shop – but for now I’ll use other peoples homes or my own home to play decorator.
Summer never seems to stay around long enough to accomplish everything I set out to do. Like visiting friends and family up north. Or taking more staycations with my family. We keep talking about hiking the Shenandoah mountains this summer. Last fall we took the sky line drive and I refused to get out of the car because I couldn’t find the bear that everyone was talking about spotting thirty minutes before we parked. Football Superstar and College Daughter were talking about white water rafting. No thanks, I’ll go tubing or kayaking in the calm waters. Especially after learning College Daughter did flip out of her kayak a few months ago in West Virginia. Happy Mother’s day turned my hair just a tad more gray. I’ll get back to you on the white water rafting trip – after we hike through the Ohio Canal to Harpers Ferry. Just keep coyotes and bear at a distance and I’ll be just fine.
Soon enough school will begin for Apple and College Daughter will enter her last year at GMU. An eighth grader and the other earning her masters. Where has the time gone?
I’m going to capture time in a bottle and keep summer all year long.
A blog post with no title is like a writer with no pen and paper (or in my case laptop). A blog post with no title is [also] like a writer who thinks she has it all together and it begins to tear at the seam.
This has been my month(s). From the beginning of March and its monsterous entrance until the ending of this very month we are about to bid farewell – I have been on a roller coaster ride and if you haven’t read my post from moons ago – I dislike roller coasters. Losing readers isn’t a huge deal, well it can be a huge deal when you’re about to write a book and would like to have some readers at least a couple dozen or thousand readers to look at the finished product. I’ll settle for a couple dozen at this point. What publishers don’t tell you is what your doing “right”. Oh, they love to tell you it’s not exactly what consumers are reading these days. What are they, the consumers reading besides text messages and I don’t want to sound braggy, but I will, the content of my book is a lot funnier than their, the consumers text messages. I don’t have an emoji under each paragraph, perhaps that’s the problem. I don’t have paragraphs, that’s the problem! Perhaps it is due to the fact my [book] plan was never to have a novel written by the end of 2040, but to have exactly the type of book I enjoy reading. Me, the consumer. I found myself floating around the glorious display of books at Barnes and Noble last week. Confession, I was to be at my husbands office working on his biz page and updating his social media biz page but pages of different material called to me so I walked across the street to B&N. Displays surrounded me and I found myself just standing there feeling rather small and sheepish. Like I could actually have a book contract with a mega book store – maybe just maybe the mom and pop book store that is so desparate for new reads will take pitty on me and give me a contract for free coffee with each book sold.
Barnes and Noble has always been one of my favorite book stores. A long time ago, Borders Books was my go to place where I would meet friends on a Friday night and sit in the cool cafe drinking espresso and reading garden books and books about dogs. And every now and then I would pick out a book with amazing photos and warm inspirational quotes. Now these books are everywhere. And they make the best gifts for like-minded readers who enjoy cute fuzzy animals who give you inspiration while you sip your mint tea.
My book writing has been placed on its own shelf for about three weeks. My laptop crashed, or so I thought and it turned out to be something simple – like the charger. I’m blessed to have a husband who is patient because I usually have a melt down thinking I’ll need a new laptop, or never be able to write this dang-gone book because of a charger! A charger was ordered and delivered by the time I devoured a bag of Pirate’s Booty. Costco size Pirate’s Booty. Only two days and the charger was at my door step. Don’t judge me on the cheesey puffs. I sat down to begin searching for some of the best photos I could find of Murphy. Clarity. Remember that word from another post, clarity is the key as well as crisp brightness. Learning to look for resolution in a picture for me is like looking for a contact when it falls on tile flooring. I no longer wear contacts. If I have fifty photos of Murphy scattered across my dining room table, I’m partial to each one. I can’t subtract any! Most definitely there will be shadows and lacking clarity and maybe someones big head in the background, but those pictures are perfect to me. And then experts come in to the picture, no pun intended, letting me know they don’t agree with my choices. I guess it’s what we pay the experts for. That’s what my husband says. So he’s an expert and people pay him but guess what – they aren’t looking at pictures of my dog who I happen to think she makes a bad hair day for a Golden Retriever look pretty amazing. Insert a new bag of Pirate’s Booty.
Apple gets sick. She’s home from school for two days and she’s miserable being home. College Daughter is healthy but frazzled because two labs are due by the end of April. Do you ever wonder what sitting in class was like before you were married and had kids? I digressed…. Football Superstar has three new clients coming in from two different states. He’s been busy, which is great, but that sometimes leaves us with a thirty minute briefing over morning coffee before one of us needs to move on with the days agenda. What we both agree on is that family time is needed and that means no laptop, cell phones, Alexa or TV. My supportive husband did come up with a great plan and that is when it is time to unplug from the world, this will give me the perfect time to plug in and begin creating those pages. Take more photos with a camera and enjoy every moment of unplugging from the real world. We’ll come back to the real world and when we do hopefully more refreshed and feeling less frazzled about labs and SOLs.
And maybe by the time I create another post for this blog – it’ll have a title.
I’ve noticed this blog has taken a back seat to my other project(s). Not that I’m planning on deleting this blog – but it has been getting dusty and lacking its soulful purpose that it once had. I always enjoyed opening up e-mail from followers as well as messages via Momma DaisyFacebook. These days I find a message here and there – maybe the occasional e-mail from a follower that checks in on my blog. And that e-mail is usually from the Blogging Group asking if I’m still writing. I laugh. Writing? Why, yes….yes I am.
Three weeks ago I had a meeting with a publishing company via phone and Facetime. I don’t like Facetime but I made sure my hair was combed and my teeth were brushed. An hour later I’m explaining to Football Superstar this is it. This is my chance to finally have what I thought was a pipe dream become a reality. If you have been following my blog long enough – you know my husband is a businessman. All business. No contract goes unread or unread again. Or scanned. Perhaps even reviewed by another business partner or attorney friend. And then my husband will read the contract again. Maybe he doesn’t read it five times but I can bet my last dime he will look at a contract at least three times! Waiting is not my best trait. My patience can be tested. And there are times when I just know, no news is good news, it’s not good news. I’ve tried to keep myself busy with the organized chaos that makes my life fun. But even then I wait and wait for the promised information that I was to receive no later than the 18th. Is this a sign? Does this mean that my submission and manuscript was lacking potential?
Don’t answer that.
My husband who is always supportive with my ideas and projects tells me to reach out. Contact the acquisitions manager. Contact the submissions agent. Contact this person and that person or the other. And I did. And I heard nothing. After talking with my gal pals and my husband (again and again) I fired up my laptop and began to research other publishing companies. My eyes burned and my bum hurt from sitting at my desk for two hours. Do you know how many publishing companies there are? I can recite them in alphabetical order if you like. By the time I reached out to the companies that offered “free” perusal I was overwhelmed. However I felt as if I made some progress. And I did. I had four companies e-mail offering me a team of editors, illustrators, proof-readers, marketing, payment installment applications, and best of all brick and mortar book signings. Are you serious? I didnt’ even get the book published and I’m choosing an outfit for my first book signing! Back to the drawing board. Writing board. Laptop.
It’s been another week since I’ve read over each proposal. As inviting as each company made their “free” this and that attractive to me – I needed to look at the bigger picture and that is the cost. When one company stated you can make seven figures in less than two years I almost bit my lip off. Talk about promotional temptation! But how much do you spend before that seven figure finds your pocketbook? I’m not looking at making seven figures. That’s funny. I am looking at having a company walk me through the unknown. The excitement of writing something that could be published and placed on a shelf at your local brick&mortar shop is worth more than seven figures to me. Well, that and some copies getting sold!
Next week I will meet with a neighbor who is taking time to design a cover and advertisement for my book idea. She’s a web graphic designer and loves reading the daily adventures of Murphy and her little bother. (yes, you read that correctly – bother)
The road doesn’t end just yet. I may be driving around in circles. But I’m never one to get bored on road trips. So just maybe – just maybe Murphy’s adventures will take to cover. Page by page. Word by word. After all – life is an adventure.
Murphy (above) is my main character. She’s one of the most determined dogs that has ever owned me. You can follow Murphy and her little bother, Hamish on her Facebook page – Unofficial: Murphy’s law
Everyone has them. Admit it. Squirrel moments that just seem to take you from one subject on to the next or if you are like me….nowhere. I have them often. As a matter of fact my husband thinks that I may have them more now than ever before. I’m well aware that I have squirrel moments when I see someone walking a puppy or dog down the street. Road trips are probably my highest squirrel moments if we are passing farms with horses and cute cows. Because who doesn’t like to moo back at the cows while they stand knee deep in mud? City squirrel moments happen too. Because DC has lots of squirrels!
I’ve been chatting with my friend who just so happens to think the bushy-tailed-beady-eyed rascals are cute. Which they are when not nesting in ones attic or brain!
My squirrel moments have been taking over my ability to figure out and make a concrete decision about my book. A book. The book. What type of book would I like to write? Do I continue with my first plan – which was to use my pup Murphy. A childrens book. That plan walked into another plan which I’ll call Plan B. Plan B was to continue with the idea of using my pup but remove the childrens book to a coffee table book. About dogs. Yes, another coffee table book about dogs. Because why not add to the billion coffee table books about dogs that are already being discounted on Amazon?! No, that’s not it either. My vision in the very beginning was a childrens book. My favorite childrens book author, Alexandria Day created such amazing illustrations with very little words. However Good Dog Carl told such colorful stories with only words on the first page and last page of each book. How hard can that be? I can’t steal from Ms. Day, but I can certainly find inspiration from what she offers.
After Murphy’s blog started gaining followers and viewers in other parts of the world I really began to feel the drive to begin something. But the something turned quickly into nothing. Finding a publisher that wouldn’t cost me my life savings. Finding an editor who is honest enough to say “you need to go back and retake English 101″. Or my most horrible squirrel moment….”she stole my copywrite!” and then there is the will it even go to print? During this time and it’s been a few years now – don’t judge me – I’ve had to learn royalities, agent hours, writing coaches, cover design, interior design, and most important cost. I would see dollar signs. And then those dollar signs would put me in a corner with my book idea(s) for a few months. Then back to blogging. Then back to book idea(s), more blogging…..you get the picture. And in the midst of these squirrel moments attacks I would continue snapping photos of everything and everybody in my path. I’m not joking when I say there must be over 3,000 photos on a file. I wasn’t even sure my laptop could hold so many dogs, cats, horses, people, dogs, trees, lakes, beaches, windows, cities and the countryside. Did I mention dogs? So you see that is where my squirrel moments lead me.
Apple thinks perhaps a coffee table book about squirrels should be my focus since they seem to pop up so often. She’s such a smarty-pants tweenager! But Apple just may be on to something.
Squirrel moments just don’t happen to me while trying to be creative or productive. I’m at Costco and it happens. Remember Pirate’s Booty is my go to for snacking. Omygosh…I’ve become a squirrel!
Just so you know….I’m not giving up on my coffee table-childrens book-novel-turned photo book just yet. I still have lots of time and ideas! And squirrels.
Happy New Year friends! I can’t believe another year has come and gone. And that means I’m getting another year older. But then again – so are you! [hahaha]
Hamish has another dog show coming up so I figured I better get my own hair groomed cut and styled. I wouldn’t want to look like I just rolled out of bed. But then again the dog show is in Maryland so I will be rolling out of bed to get our Tartan Terror there on time! So as I’m sitting at the salon of my awesome stylist, Diane Sissorhands as she is so affectionately called, I was wondering if this time around the Diane Keaton style should be ditched. I really don’t have hair like Ms. Keaton, but there was this time when I just couldn’t describe the cut I wanted. So Diane Sissorhands pulls out her phone and there is the cut. It’s exactly what I wanted. And it just so happened that Diane Keaton was sporting my style – or something very close to what I wanted. Actually, it was the cut. And I’ve had it for some time now. Now as most of you may know, my hair grows like a weed. I always thank my father for those Italian genes but it’s not always beneficial when you want to sport a shorter style. There are those moments when my “windows” pop up and I so want shorter hair. But then I remind myself I would need to move in with Diane Sissorhands or visit her every two weeks for a touch-up.
It’s almost my time in the chair. What am I going to do? While waiting for the sweet English client to get her short locks fluffed and feathered, I asked both women what they thought of Pat Lawson Muse. Diane Sissorhands opened her mouth wide and said “she’s gorgeous!”. I know! I know! When I have a moment to catch the evening news for weather and such – I always admire Pat and her style. [like we’re friends I’ll just call her Pat] She’s flawless. Classy. And I LOVE her hair. Okay, so Pat may have someone touching up her flawless, classy style, but her hair…..how easy would that be for me?! Diane Sissorhands shook her head and said so gently explaining to me that we have different hair types. Oh, yeah, so what you’re really saying is that my fine hair [but I have a lot of hair] wouldn’t look oh-so-perfect as Pat Lawson Muse hair?!
Ms. Sissorhands totally sucked the air out of my balloon for the weekend. I was ready to sport my new black dress with my black boots, Pat hair and pretty pearls [like Barbara Bush kinda pearls] and stand proudly ringside to watch my sporty dog do his thing with his handler who just so happens to look like he walked out of a Ralph Lauren advertisement. Phew!
I’ll still wear the dress. The boots. The pearls. And my haircut is a nice flowing shaggy cut almost like Diane Keaton! So maybe I can’t have “the Pat” hairstyle but it was certainly worth the try!
Wonder where Pat shops?! [just kidding-I’m not a stalker-but her style!!]
The year was so long ago. The memory of that one cookie is still printed in my mind. I can picture my mother dressed in her olive green chenille robe. My father wasn’t in the kitchen when it happened.
Christmas was magical for me as a child. From the time I can remember my mother would bake cookies. Her signature cookie was the Sand Tart. Paper thin. Baked perfectly every single year. My part was to assist in decorating the buttery Sand Tarts, sugar cookies and Gingerbread reindeer. You read that correctly – reindeer. During this week long cookie bake off with my mother and her best friend I would make sure to have two special cookies made just for Santa. Those cookies were made with two special cookie cutters. Santa and the North Star. On Christmas Eve the Santa plate came out of the dining room hutch. Four cookies were placed on the plate with a Christmas napkin and a glass of milk. A Christmas card written out to Mr. & Mrs. Claus. The real Mr. & Mrs Claus! Midnight Mass straight to bed! I knew the chime of Santa’s sleighbells would come in the cold night air. So I would be very still….waiting….listening….falling asleep.
Christmas morning came with opening gifts. My parents taking their places on the couch or floor with us. My siblings were older than me so I was the lucky one who received the toys. Dolls that grew hair. Books – a lot of story books. Puzzles and games. A puppy. More dolls. More family dogs. More dolls. And then that year when Christmas morning would never be the same.
As my mother sipped her coffee with pink rollers around the top of her head she opened a tin of cookies. She never permitted us to eat cookies for breakfast, especially on Christmas day of all days! Those cookies were not only served Christmas Eve during my parents gathering of family and friends, those cookies were served on Christmas day to those same family members who came back for dinner or desert. Friends who would stop by to make merry and take tons of Polaroid pictures. As she open the second tin I spotted them. Under regular North Stars only dusted with cinnamon, not glittery blue sugar. My Santa and North Star cookies for Santa! What? How? Did Santa not have time to eat them? My mother was frozen and I could feel her stare. Knowing my mother she wanted to wait for the inquisition. Because my mother would give me the best reason of why those special Santa cookies were back in the tin. The tin decorated with rather large gaudy poinsettia flowers. You must understand these cookie tins were huge! Just minutes before the unveiling of cookies I checked the Santa plate and it was clear to me he enJOYed his cookies! He enJOYed the milk!
This was the Christmas before I turned ten. This was the Christmas when my sister was married and my brother was in the Army. This was the Christmas when our family Schnauzer, Greta, was about to have a litter of puppies. This was the Christmas finding those cookies. My parents were not being deceiving. My parents were only continuing the tradition for so many years. My father never giving any thought as to how he concealed those special cookies underneath the “regular” cookies with cinnamon. My father was probably busy Christmas Eve trying to find something in the garage or attic because my mother was an expert in hiding. So his only option was to quickly slide the special cookies into the large cookie tin with large gaudy poinsettias.
I cried. And then cried some more. Years later my mother and I would talk about how I [found out] discovered the secret. I could never say [found out] Santa wasn’t real. She would correct me because Santa, St. Nicholas, Bobbo Natale, and yes even Befana were truly real. And they still are very real in our home. My children have outgrown the secret. Our youngest recently discovered and even in his last attempt, our secret Santa, a friend who would send packages and letters to College Daughter when she was younger continued his Santa mission for Apple. Last year was one last attempt from secret Santa. I love him for this Christmas sparkle he would send each and every year.
Santa, St. Nicholas, Bobbo Natale and Befana are still very much alive in my heart and home. I have my own special plate for Santa. A mug of hot chocolate has replaced a tall glass of milk. Carrots for his reindeer. And if we’re lucky the dogs will not sneak a bite of the carrots this year. After service we open one gift before watching our favorite Christmas Eve movie – It’s A Wonderful Life. After the girls go to bed Football Superstar and I will sit down with a glass of eggnog and talk about Christmases past and those to come.
When innocense becomes lost, it’s only to be picked up by the true spirit of Christmas. Remembering those Christmases of my childhood make my heart happy. That warm feeling is my mother. Her smile and even her stare lives in me. Christmas was her favorite holiday season. As is mine.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from my family to yours. And to my dear friend Santa……I still believe. ❤