Tag Archives: Ornaments

The Star of the Show


Whether it is an angel or a star or a 12 inch Elvis that you put atop your Christmas tree the chances are good that it is special to you.  In our house we have a brass star.

Last year MQD and I shared our first Christmas as a family.  As he lifted Emily up to put the star on our tree I grabbed the camera, my eyes filled with tears.   As she was the youngest person, it was her job.  I took a million pictures, hence the wild look in their eyes.  I think they were fed up with me by this time.

I failed to snap a picture this year of Emily as she placed the star atop of our tree.  We were all sick with a stomach bug so pictures were kept to a minimum, but today I had these two reenact the event.

I might not have shed a tear the day we topped our tree this year, but I have more than made up for it in the last few weeks.  Counting down the days to Christmas, one ornament or Christmas decoration or tradition at a time I have had more than a few occasions to get choked up.  And now it’s here.

I can hear Peanuts’ Christmas music in the kitchen as MQD cleans up from dinner.   Em is on the couch watching Christmas shows.  I have my feet propped up with ice as it seems my ankles are finally getting the pregnant lady swell.  Cookies are made and waiting for Santa.

Nothing left to do but snuggle up, close our eyes and wait for Santa. Thanks so much to all of you for spending this month with me.  Merry Christmas!

I’m a sucker for a guy with a red nose….

When I was a little girl Rudolph hung over the fireplace.  In my memory he looks just as he does above.  A sockmonkey sock transformed by my mother in to the “most famous reindeer of all.”

Christmas decorations were stored under the stairs in the basement.  In the twenty plus years my family lived in my childhood home the basement saw a fair amount of water and mildew as basements are inclined to do.  The dozen roses my dad gave me on my 16th birthday eventually got wet.  The 45s I had saved along with my Fisher Price record player succumbed to the moisture.   More than a few stuffed animals met their demise.  Shoe boxes of notes passed in middle and high school gave way to the wet environment.  (I can think of a few of you who might be glad to know that.)

Call it a Christmas Miracle if you like… But Rudolph survived.  He looks as young and vibrant hanging on the wall in my living room today as he ever did when I was a kid.  Don’t tell Snoopy, but if something ever happened to Snoop… Rudolph and those eyelashes could win me over in a hearbeat.

Christmas Shoes

I am a wee bit of a sap.  I cry at the drop of a hat.  At Hallmark commercials and baby pictures. Disney World.  Perfect pancakes.  Songs.

But if you thought this was going to be the part where I confess that I just can’t get enough of  The Christmas Shoes song (the song about the young boy whose mother is dying and all he wants is to buy her a pair of shoes for Christmas before she passes) you will be disappointed.  That song makes me want to put a knitting needle in my eye and twirl it around.

In fact, most things designed to bring out the sap in a person don’t do it for me.  If it has chimes or a xylophone the chances are good it will bring out the very best (or the very worst ) in my sense of humor.  That all depends on how you feel about mockery and sarcasm.

That having been said… I do have Christmas Shoes.  Released in the fall of 2005, my Candy Cane Chuck Taylor’s fucking rule.  Every year I wear them the week after Thanksgiving.  Before I put my tree up or drag out the Christmas decorations.  Out come my Chuck’s.  I wish I had worn them a bit more in later November, early December.  Because it seems I can barely see them this week.

Hurry home, Scott!!

This is one of just a few of my “grown up” ornaments.  It is fancy. And sparkly.  And I put it carefully back in its box each year.  It was a gift from my brother and my sister-in-law several years ago.  And Lauren would likely blush if I said out loud the reasons this ornament reminds me of her.

To start with the easy ones, it is beautiful, as is she.  Not flashy and asking to be noticed but classy and gorgeous and fancy and understated all at once.

This ornament could wear blue jeans with pearls and high heels if it wanted to.  But it’s not likely it would need high heels, it is a good bit larger (to be read: taller, for those wondering if I am really about to call my sister-in-law LARGE in a public forum) than the other ornaments, just like the statuesque Lauren.  She has only an inch or two on me and yet she has always seemed taller, even to me.  Finally, a woman my brother has even a hope of seeing eye to eye with.

It is red.  And Lauren is a devoted  NC State Wolf Pack girl.  She taught Em to do the Wolf Pack symbol when she was teeny.  Just as we moved to Chapel Hill.  She didn’t seem to care it might get us run out of town.

What this ornament does not do… and Lauren is about to do… is make my baby brother in to a father.  I can’t think of a nicer thing for a girl to do.  I have mentioned before that my brother and I share little in common short of our love for one another.  But this change on the horizon will put all of us in the same demographic.  There is something about being a parent that changes everything. You share a kinship with other parents.  Perhaps this is what military veterans experience when they run in to another.  Perhaps their branch of service was different or the length of their active duty but there is a common bond.  And a relationship those of on the outside simply do not have.

Very soon three people whom I love dearly will join my Club.  The “I had a tiny baby in my house and I survived.  I was joyful and terrified, exhausted and more excited than I have ever been all at once. And I survived” Club.  My brother, Lauren and MQD.

Now just relax, girls.  Both of you.  Lauren and your sweet baby girl.  You just need to hang in there a little longer.  Scott will be home any day now.  And then … may your Adventure begin.

A couple of misfits…

The holidays are about family. They can be a time of forgiveness.  Of letting go of the past and coming together to share a meal and a laugh and company.

In every family there is a Bumble.  In 1964’s Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer christmas tv special  Bumble is the antagonist.  To “bumble” by definition is to proceed in a clumsy fashion, to botch or bungle, make a mess of things.

This weekend I thought a lot about how much I hope our Bumble can come around like Bumble the Abominable Snowman. At the end of Rudolph Bumble is smiling a toothless grin and places the star on the top of the Christmas tree in ChristmasTown.  He may not be beloved by the whole town but at least he has stopped wreaking havoc.

For years now our Bumble has referred to the island he calls home as the “Island for Misfit Toys.” It seemed appropriate to post this ornament this morning as he heads back out of town.

Family weekends can be messy for any family.  There was a moment this weekend when I wondered just how much more I had in me.  How much love, how much forgiveness.   In that moment  I looked down and Emily was just standing there.  She took my hand and smiled and said “Here.  I have this fortune, it’s yours.”

And in to my hand she placed a slip of paper.

“Love, like war, is easy to start and nearly impossible to end.”

If that’s true, it might be your saving grace.  Tighten up, Jer.  You got this.  Merry Christmas, Bumble.

They look alike when they first wake up.

The Man in the Red Suit

So I am veering from my original course just a bit.  Not every post this month was about an ornament, but it was about Christmas, at least tangentially.

And you can’t talk about Christmas without mentioning the man in the red suit.  And if you happen to live in Bardstown, Kentucky (Bourbon Capital of the World!) then Santa Claus looks an awful lot like this.

And if you don’t happen to live in Kentucky and he still looks familiar… it’s because Santa Claus also happens to look an awful lot like this guy.

Merry Christmas, Dad.  You taught me that it IS next to impossible to keep a secret where a good gift is concerned.  So I blame you completely for my being a last minute shopper. I can keep a secret for a few days.  But if I bought Christmas gifts in November there’d be no stopping my mouth.

You taught me to pick up the trash as we unwrap presents.  Even though as a kid I thought this was absurd, the trash patrol mid Christmas morning unwrapping, as a parent I do it.  I can’t help it.

You taught me that it is perfectly okay to trick your kid on Christmas morning.  I will never forget the Christmas morning that I thought I really didn’t get a bicycle.  Because you left it in the laundry room until we were all done opening presents.  I never had to ask whose idea it was to do that to me.  Your cackling gave you away.

You are the biggest kid I know.  And I love that you spend December in a big red suit making Christmas for the children in Bardstown.

When I was a little kid…

Em pulled this ornament from the box and said “Ohhh, this is the one I made when I was a little kid…”  It slayed me.  It’s not difficult to reduce me to tears (as I have mentioned at least 800 times of late) but this was a different kind.

The nose tingling, eyes watering “I think I am doing this right” tears.  I have heard more than a few parents lament that if you”re “doing it right” they need you less and less.

Our "little girl" made this ornament just last year in pre-school.

In the past few months I have watched as my lap grows smaller and smaller and my “little girl” is literally pushed right out of “the nest.”  And it pains me.

I have come to terms with the fact that Love is infinite.  That I will find the Love that two children require.  But I can not deny that both Time and my lap are finite.  I struggle to envision how I will share them with two children.  Already I feel I do a less than adequate job sharing my Time with only one child between working and mothering.  How does one expect to blend another child in to the family without taking from the first?

And then I look at the face in the ornament.  She looks so different than the face I see today.

I see her flounce down the stairs in an “outfit” she has assembled.  Skinny jeans and a tshirt, her boots and a high ponytail.  I eavesdrop as she and her buddy discuss the best way to pass a baby to someone else without “flopping the head.”  I watch her practice being a Big Sister to her baby doll.  (A baby doll that has recently acquired a middle name.  A middle name that we have incidentally settled on for Baby D.)    Her teeny little self drags the empty trash can up the driveway without being reminded.  Stopping only to have me unlock the gate so she can put it away.  She empties the dishwasher while I make dinner, reminding me to check her back pack for a note from her teacher.  Last night after her shower her wet towel was hanging from the hook on the bathroom door.  Her dirty clothes in the laundry basket.

Maybe she isn’t my “little kid.”

Well, then. Merry Christmas to you, Baby Girl. In spite of this new baby and your big grown up self  you will always, always be my Baby Girl.

She hopped in to the front with me while we waited for MQD at the barber the other day. "Look at you in the front seat, Miss Thang!" She grabbed my glasses and began to pose. Apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Got to get Over the Hump!!

“I’m down to get down!  On Guard! Got to get over the hump!!” ~ Bop Gun, George Clinton  (What? Parliament doesn’t make you feel Christmassy?)

When we filled Emily’s Christmas Advent Elf this year we opted to have a “fancy” piece of candy poking out of Day 13.

Last year we filled each pocket the night before.  Or I raced out to the living room to try and beat her to the elf when I heard her coming down the stairs in the morning.

But this year she is old enough to not only be patient enough to not   sneak the candy out of each pocket early but she  actually seems to be enjoying the torture of waiting.

This morning I was getting dressed when I heard her asking what day it was.  I knew where this was headed so I ran out to the kitchen and grabbed my phone for a picture.  MQD, always the better teaching parent, says “The 13th?  What numbers make up 13?”

I think my grin gave it away.  “The 1 and 3!” as she grabbed the fancy candy with the Santa head from his #13 pocket. I reminded her that we had chosen that pocket because it was the halfway mark.

“No way!!  We are half way to Christmas!” she exclaimed.

It was everything I could do not to echo her sentiment.  No fucking way!!  IT IS HALF WAY TO CHRISTMAS!  We need to wrap gifts, and bake treats, and mail packages, and sort stocking stuffers and….. breathe.

I am having candy canes for lunch.

The JR

Everyone has had that job.  The job that they took that was only going to last a little while.  It was an “in-between jobs” job.

I hated buying more than one uniform shirt because I wasn’t going to be there very long.  Sometimes I wore a long grey skirt instead of black pants.  And a plain black long sleeve tshirt instead of a Jolly Roger shirt when I was tending bar.  Because rebelling is not my strong suit but dammit, I hated that uniform.

I had never had sidework like that before.  Two hotel sheet trays of tiny solo cups of horseradish.  Four of coleslaw.  Make sure you are prepped to make at least 100 Bloody Marys. On Sunday.  At lunch.

Sell all the soup you can, but don’t eat it.  Eat things you see being made.  Made to order. Fried eggs.  Not scrambled.  Don’t ask about what you saw in the walk in.  It is a strawberry.  Even though it looks like a grey furry mouse.  It is a strawberry and it is someone’s idea of a science experiment.

Never, ever run out of cigarettes.  The other waiters, career waiters that have been at this since you were in elementary school and will still be at it when you are long gone, they are not likely to strike up a conversation with you unless you catch them on a smoke break. Get someone in the kitchen stoned.  Just once.  So they know you are not stuck up.

Figure out how the hostess station works.  Because that is where the money is made.  Coffee and $1.99 breakfast and a two-top of surfers.  They are cute.  But it won’t pay the bills. Suck it up and hope you get the family with the screaming kids and that they didn’t see the big sign that explains you can eat a LOT for almost free.  Write down their order.  Because it doesn’t impress anyone that you don’t have to.  And later when a customer tells you that they ordered wheat toast and sunny side up eggs even though that is total bullshit and they may have said that in their minds because what they actually said was French Toast and scrambled, you will have it written down.

Be nice to the people that everyone knows.  They have been eating here for a decade.  The man that eats breakfast at the bar all of the time, he knows where the sour mix is when you run out.  Go ahead and snicker and say “I bet you do” when the creepy guy say he likes his eggs “Over Easy.” But do not serve him a Budweiser with a Jack back at 11:57 am on a Sunday.  Drop a tray of six dinners.  But do not lose a credit card slip.

Don’t look too closely at the Christmas ornaments that hang from every surface in the entire restaurant.  You will begin to wonder when was the last time they were dusted.  And these thoughts of cleanliness will linger.  And drive you crazy. Put your tray jack back exactly where you got it from.  And never set an empty pitcher of iced tea down.

Learn to wash your own bar glasses.  Quickly.  You will run out if you send them to the dish pit.  Get your own ice.  And then get two extra buckets.  Everyone is slammed, not just you.  But it will be over soon enough.

Do not stay for late night drinks.  Do not ever sing karaoke.  Don’t ask any questions about Alan Ross’ Traveling Karaoke Road Show.  Specifically how it is that it is traveling if it is here every single night.  Do not breath an ill word to Carol Ann.  Don’t bother making a request for a specific day off.  Schedules were made this summer for Christmas.  You are working someone’s shifts that quit.  It is assumed that you will quit before the next summer.

I walked out of every shift wondering if I was going to get fired.  With more money than I thought I had made.  This is what I learned there.

I worked Christmas  at the Jolly Roger.  And all I got was this lousy ornament.

The Flag

For the most part I embrace the woman in me that grew out of the Brownie I was as a little girl.  I make crafts with my kid and give them as gifts unabashedly.

Over the last few years I became a seasonal door decoration person.  A part of me blames motherhood.  Another part of me blames MQD and his desire to cover the window in our front door with something to prevent our neighbors from peeking in.   It doesn’t matter how it happened.

It started with a Christmas wreath.  And then I had this cute wreath with Easter Eggs on it.  I have a patriotic themed “Welcome” wreath for mid-summer and the 4th of July.  Autumnal leaves for the fall.

But I have a line I won’t cross.  Or at least I thought I did.

The American flag went up for Veteran’s Day.  And it stayed up.  It makes me happy.  And admittedly, aesthetically, it looks pretty cute with the pansies and the front porch and the holy-shit-all-we-need-is-a-white-picket-fence-I-have-never-been-so-happy vibe I have going.

I don’t remember what exactly prompted it.  But when MQD suggested we could get all kinds of flags, for the seasons and the holidays I let fly a string of obscenities that would have made a sailor blush.  Evidently homemade crafts as gifts are acceptable.  Door wreaths are acceptable.  Seasonal flags are not.

I was in Michael’s.  I had a basket full of stocking stuffers.

I was feeling full on Mom mode and chatting with an elderly woman behind me.  The line was long.

And then it happened.

At first I just took a picture.

And then I started needing permission.  I all but begged MQD to tell me to buy it.

He didn’t make it easy on me.  Neither did the woman working the register.

Quietly I asked her “Umm… that Snoopy flag, where are they in the store, I umm… didn’t see them anywhere.”

She pointed.  I ran past the twenty people behind me in line to look for it while she rang up my other items.  I started feeling a little like a contestant in that game show where the harried housewife runs through the grocery store aisles all wild-eyed and crazy.  I didn’t see one.  They had reindeer.  And Santa.  And snowmen.  No Peanuts.

I returned to her register and asked one of those questions I already knew the answer to.  “Is it a huge pain in the ass to ask you to get that down for me?” and I pointed twenty feet up in the air to the lone Peanuts flag.  Wordlessly she left her register.

And now I have a Snoopy flag.  But just this one.  So help me.