In my past life, things were different in terms of holiday groupings. I have family. I have a different family now. I suppose there will be a family legacy passed on to others with good wishes and love. Groupings change. Nothing is absolutely known about the future in the present. Looking back retrospectively there is bittersweet memory. I miss family who are no longer with us. I am grateful for the time we were together. I am happy for the future in which I am living. Change is part of us. My secretary used to say that I would always say, “Something always happens.” Aptly, nothing stays the same. With lemons, be prepared to make lemonade. Bittersweet is the operative word here.
We did it! We did! We managed to have Christmas in five locations! We are the seniors. They are supposed to come to us? Ha! We were in fours states. I believe we achieved a state of grace. (How about, altered state?) It was work. It was fun. Our parents were bystanders. We are not! Bring it on! We did.
We have an extended family. We managed to catch up with multiple family groupings this holiday. It’s been nutty. Covid and whatnot has conspired to make it hard. In a mere moment plans changed. I was so punchy I did not know where or to whom half the presents were destined. At every stop I was inaccurate. I had packed for groups that broke up and met as different parts in different places. Confused? You bet! We were sleeping in one spot and cooking in another. At least I got a haircut and changed shirts. There were a lot of moving parts. Fun? We all had a good time. We must have had fun for me to still be writing about it a month later. All that I can attest, looking back, it was easier to herd cats!!
Epilogue: Omicron is among us. We did not escape unscathed. Members of the extended family pictured herein caught it and were tested positive. So far, all are fine. Those shots really work. Or, we are just plain lucky. My (neurosurgery) department motto was always, “Better to be lucky, than good.”
PPS: All is well. We were, indeed, lucky!
The quest for the perfect gift is serendipitous at best. You would never guess and can never quite guess what will be a hit. Certainly, capturing the moment of surprise and joy is just as fraught. Sometimes a moment passes too quickly to capture. And, sometimes, you catch the moment perfectly. Certainly, the joy is apparent. It makes me smile as I edit. Have you seen the new plant based food? There is something disingenuous in making fake meat. Either you eat meat or you give it up for … broccoli. You simply can’t have it both ways. ??? So, fake bacon? It was enough to make me an instant vegetarian! The moment? Everyone had their phones out. I reached for my camera/flash. One shot. That was it. One chance. Perfect.
Well, I hesitate to say, “Hell.’ It seems oddly incongruous to use the term in the same sentence with Christmas. Christmas hell? We are on the last leg of extended Christmas. We have been to Speonk, Elkins, Hurricane, and West Chester (not, in that order). Don’t ask. We did not make it to the Rocky Mountains. No mailboxes were illustrated in this post. (It was too humiliating.) Let’s start with dinner. Jane was late to the restaurant. She and Lee had hit a mailbox in the dark. Hit?! She ran over two (count ‘em!!) posts and crushed the mailboxes. Crushed!! And, her car would not start. She killed the (car) battery too. A very neat trick! Look under the tree. See, a couple Xmas stockings? No?! Yeah, missing. We never did find them. (Number?) Two?! Next, Jane’s toilet overflowed, and, kept, overflowing, as in, it just kept filling…up!! Up!! Help!!! The trash basket beside the toilet has holes in the bottom. What the…?!@#?$!! Yeah, yeah, needless to say I had taken my socks off but was still standing in ankle deep water. Don’t laugh… too hard. We lost stuff too. It went missing, or, who knows? We travel with a hot water bottle. Low tech, but, it saves the day in some houses we stay. The item (victim) other is a Sherlock game. Ha ha. Some of the cards went missing from the game. Sherlock!? Jane simply lost (a deck) of the game. Did she ever? (have/play with a full deck?). Oh my!!!… some days you just can’t make this sh*t up. Yes it was the Xmas from …. Note: no mailboxes were permanently maimed in the making of this post. Crushed, yes. Did I mention Lee overflowed the toilet – blocked the drain all the way out to the street…. ? The toilet filled because Colleen’s shower upstairs was filling the bowl. Oh! Yeah??
Lives out of backpack, gathers no moss, do I, admire or regret? If you carry all your belongings in a backpack, you are exactly opposite to Colleen and myself. We are happily overloaded with clutter. What to say? It’s easy to shop presents. Get nothing that won’t fit into an already full backpack. Dave’s already Noa’s favorite uncle. I was gonna say, ‘only uncle’ but, that ain’t true. Prodigal son? Not strictly. But he sure has a lifestyle only a few can imagine. I worry, all the while wishing him the best. From my vantage, we all put aside worry, this day.
I had the dubious fortune of visiting my old ornaments. Separated but not entirely lost in the divorce, they are remembrances. Jules and I reminisced over their (she and David’s) favorites. There was a horn; every year they vied to place this on the tree. They took turns; year by year they remembered who had put the horn on the year before. Colleen and I have a tree. Ours has a mix of old and new (memories). She brought ornaments from WV. We bought ornaments. New memories and new traditions are now part of me. Old and new, it’s something that makes you think hard at this time of the year.
It’s a completely foreign sight to see your grown children reading to theirs.
…We can’t return, we can only look
Behind, from where we came
And go round and round and round, in the circle game… – Joni Mitchell
Mice or mouse? Twas’ the Night Before Christmas – “…not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…” The concept of mice or mouse, or, are they their names, plural vs singular, ah, that is the question?? Did it matter? Every night I read to “my” kids, and, Jules would stop me right here, without fail! “Which is the mouse? Which is the mice?” Without fail, we would pause. I gave my explanation. Jules expressed her doubt and confusion. We could never quite communicate our thought. It persists even now. Mice or mouse? It tugs at my heart to see my kids all grown up. A new dress? – universally beloved by little girls.
It is said that we are just “staff” to our cats. Ha! They certainly have free reign. Free range? Do as you (my cats) will. They are, for the most part, careful to step around all things breakable. Only Willow has a tail that has a mind of its own. He knows how to walk about with chaos in his wake. Have I ever considered that we might have one cat too many? Nope.
Gnomes were all the rage this year. We got some. Carol sent hand knit free trade ornaments. “They” got their own little tree. Yes, spinners have their own special wreaths. Air plants – here’s a new take for Xmas. Santas? Our mantle is full. Carolers? Colleen admired them. They are $$$. I like a bargain. We found these at an estate sale for $. Ok! Then, I/we could not find them. Nope!! I looked high and low, but, not behind the milk! Nope! I was even wondering if I left them in the estate and forgot to take them home. ??? of course!! Colleen found them while she was looking for something else. (not behind the milk!!) … we have a missing yoga mat… not any little mat, it’s a 6×8 foot mat. How does a mat that size go missing??
We met when we were eight years old. We then orbited in proximity for five years. I knew Colleen (back then), though we remained not much more than acquaintances. We lost track of one another for nearly five decades. And now? We’re trying to make up for a lot of time. Does accumulating stuff help? … a lot of stuff? I would not know. We just go with it. One Santa, two Santa… one leads to another and another. You would think we were an old married couple. Well, old yes; together, not nearly as long as we will be from now on. If I had one wish….
It seems the beginning of my catalog has some highlights – shots over the years that were “keepers.” At least that is my opinion. They were pretty much unplanned shots that turned out surprisingly well. You may readily disagree. I like them. A very early effort was the child at a street market in London. The shot in the pool was a blurred image – wrong exposure, nice shot. Moonrise? It ain’t easy without adjusting the exposure. Motion blur (waves), moon detail, not bad. Wedding? I was a guest. It was a “grab” shot. The couple enlarged and kept it as a highlight. Panning – I learned with a San Francisco cable car. Reading about it is one thing; I gotta do it in order for the lesson to stick. Candid family? There are shots, and, there are shots that make you laugh out loud. Exhausted? Or, no turkey, please! Jules did not cook the meal… What else to say? I simply stuck the camera out the window and pressed the shutter once. Surprise!
This is a tale. Ha! Colleen saw a pink juicer a long, long time ago. We have been to many antique stores since (years!!). We have never seen another. I presume she did not buy it when first seen, because it was too $$. Oh! The waiting! Don’t they sell them? They sure don’t make any! I caved. This past autumn I went on eBay. Voila! Delivered! Done! Ah! She said I was so sweet! We haunted antique stores this Christmas for Santas and other such Christmas bargains. This shop, we almost did not go into. It was the end of the day; we were tired; and, how many antique stores can one wander into? Damn! Sitting pretty! Right there on the shelf! A pink juicer! The price was reasonable. It was almost surely coming home with Colleen at about any price! And who knew there was a pitcher that went under the darn thing?
You win. You lose. We have not lost… any cats. And we are pretty much safe with ornaments (too)… so far. We got some retro ornaments. Nice. It’s nostalgic. Ha! I/we never had ornaments that looked like this when we were kids. Bargains. One Santa was a little as a $1. I made the Santa blocks. Ok, “V” is for Victor. The other letters? Dave? “U, K, B??” Huh?! And where is “C” for Colleen? I’m in deep trouble if she figures out the names of old girlfriends?! For, now I will stick with the glow of that “found” pink juicer!
Santacon. Carol reminded me. I was there ten years ago in 2011. Do you believe it? The affair is an opportunity for a flash mob to gather at a designated spot. No warning. No permits. Party, and drink alcohol. It’s a photo op. I was able to get there one time only. The subway to South Street was packed with Santas and their “helpers” headed to party hearty downtown. Neat?! There was no unruly action going on while I observed. It was a good time had by all.
Now, we have our own little Santacon going. Colleen got a few… then went back… and scooped up… all the available Santas for sale. Ha! Santacon Delaware style! Ray, the cat, is a bewildered participant. We have a Santa themed tree this year. Colleen is brilliant. Great idea! I do believe… I do believe.
I opened my catalog to find an error. Oh boy! I had not copied a folder to my redundant array of hard drives. So much for being on top of things. There are always mistakes. This is pretty glaring. But from years of bookkeeping my medical practice, you know there are always errors along the line. And, you go with it, hoping the mistakes are minimal. I am glad to correct things. And, I am glad there was no catastrophic drive failure beforehand. Meanwhile, a view of Christmas past is always nostalgic. Nellie did climb into the box. I added the lid. Ha ha. My cats climb into boxes too. There are a lot of memories here. Those of you who know me well, will understand. I am fortunate to have preserved these pictures.
To all of you, my audience, visitors, followers, family, and friends – Thank you. You check off “likes” and comment on my posts. All the best to all of you this Holiday Season. Happy New Year. I admit I am shy and lax about thanking each of you individually when you tell me you like a post. But I appreciate that there are those of you out there in the world who stop in and look at what I have photographed. All the best to you all. And, thank you again. The lump of coal is a joke, of course. I lost all of my ornaments in the divorce. Colleen and I have begun our own collection and traditions. Santas abound. We are simply nutty – in a nice way. It’s amazing how we are making up for lost time in such a short time. Fun? There is love in each and every goofy thing we find and do. Merry Christmas to one and all.
A lot changes. A year ago during the height of Covid we went on a quest for a Christmas tree that took us to the perfect tree in a tree farm. We cut it down. Guilt! On many levels this was such a nice tree that lasted a month and was then taken to the curb. We went artificial tree this year. This has its own associated guilt. We’ll see. During Covid I made an estimated 26 Nantucket style baskets. They make/made me happy. I have had mixed reviews on their quality. In looking back, it has been a long and eventful year.
Christmas. We collect Santas. I don’t quite know why. They are available in thrift stores or antique stores. We took a lesson in glue gun crafting for making wreaths or miniature Xmas trees. This year the craft store was out of the little wooden figures. Ok. Plan B.
The annual Winterthur Christmas decorations never fail to cheer us. Impressive?! You bet! The tall ~ 25 foot tree is decorated with dried flowers from the grounds that are picked and preserved all year long. Amazing. Simply amazing. I garden. I am not up to the task of doing as this dedicated staff performs year long. The culmination is a tree stunning and unique. We count ourselves very fortunate to see it once more. We have tried to share this with members of the family. The true experience is being there “in person” to appreciate the tree’s majestic scale. Thank you!
Jen had house guests who wanted to go to antique stores. But, of course, we would join them. For many reasons we did not come to this hobby until late in life. Cost was a big hurdle. Trolling for a bargain is a must. Otherwise, well, you know what happens when you squander a fortune on a bauble. One guest was in quest of duck decoys. Sigh. Everyone to their taste. Me? I shoot typewriters. I’m content. We don’t need one. Bed pans and urinals? Ummm. No thanks. A tiered Christmas pyramid ornament? We have one. Enough. Fun? Priceless! Duck decoy? $25, maybe. $275, (nope!!) ha ha! That would take away from the quest to find a hidden bargain.
The inbox is full. I anchor memories to pictures. Or, is the converse positive? I spin the photo catalog and randomly land upon an image. What? Huh? A couple shots to the right or to the left….aha! Now I remember! It’s funny that way. Colleen has much more difficulty. We were… somewhere, and then I show her the picture and it becomes fact. It’s not a clear memory. But for me, much of what I remember is from images. Or, is it the converse? The trigger? It was the Christmas tree advent calendar in the middle top. I remember Colleen admired it. We even went and bought felt to make one ourselves… we still have pieces of felt around the house.
I have about 305k images in this catalog. So. I picked #’s 100k 200k and 300k. Here’s what was there. 300: Christmas 2020: it was just this past Xmas; lockdown, us and the cats. 200: Scotland 2019: it was the trip Colleen dreamed of for many years come true. 100: Maine 2018: We returned. Our first trip to Maine was 2014. It was another “wished for” destination for Colleen. Who knew? I did not know what to expect from random numbers. This catalog has pics from 2016 onward. It’s been a nice bunch of years. Nothing bad, 300k images and counting. How’s that for random? I shoot more pictures than an average person. But, there are professionals with millions of images in their catalog. Ha ha!
We didn’t change much. Colleen and I are identical triplets and everyone came in for dinner at the holidays. We were a family gathering of less than 10. You know how it goes, triplets tend to dress alike. We couldn’t resist. All safety measures were taken and testing was all negative. Christmas lacked the big roast – the Beef Wellington was in the oven. And, oops, there were four of me at Thanksgiving.
Yeah yeah it’s February. Christmas 2020 is in the rear view mirror. Shutterfly sent me this memory from years ago. A lot has changed. I’m not with Lisa. We all have moved. Jules got married, has her own daughter, and lives in another state. Ha ha, I have told you, her kids (students) looked her up on the ‘net. I cannot use the correct spelling of her name. They found my blog and it was “weird” for Jules. Xmas past? It’s about the same, with a different tree and with different ornaments. There have been bigger and better changes that I alluded to in yesterday’s post. Different! I am, though it matters not, miffed that Shutterfly has/continues to pry into my life past. I’m doing just fine. Can they just leave it at that?