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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

I know…it’s Mother’s Day and I DO wish all the moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day.  But I have to say, after being out at the stores earlier today and listening to all of the clerks and other workers wish me a Happy Mother’s Day, I started to wonder about how that makes other people feel.  Don’t get me wrong…there’s nothing about it that bothers me (except that I’m not a mother–unless you count my cats) and I don’t find it to be “politically incorrect”.  I think way too many people have gone overboard in that direction.  But, I wonder…for those women like me who are not mothers by choice, does it bother them?  Or, even worse, for the women out there who have tried and tried to have children and can’t, how does it make them feel?  I hurt for them.  It can’t be good.  And what about those women who’ve lost a child?  I know they are still mothers, but it has to hurt.  

Where do we draw the line before getting into that dangerous zone and cross into excessively politically correct?  I guess, we smile, we thank them and wish them a happy day, too.  And we hope that women who find it too hurtful avoid the stores and restaurants and all the other public places that are bombarding us with Happy Mother’s Day wishes and specials. 

So, to all those non-mothers out there…Happy Day! 

I think you have to judge everything based on your personal taste. And if that means being critical, so be it. I hate political correctness. I absolutely loathe it.” ~ Simon Cowell

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My dear hubby has quite a sense of humor…not ALWAYS appreciated, but for the most part is so much fun! He inherited his dad’s awful love of puns…and since I have a strange love of puns, too, it’s a good thing we found each other. It doesn’t matter that many of them are “groaners”, I laugh. And not just one of those polite-little-tinkly laughs, either, but a great, big, wahoo kind of laugh.

When making my list (girls, you know that list) of what I wanted in a guy, sense of humor was very high on it. In fact, I think it struggled with good-hearted to be number 1. I know, when we’re young, good looks is probably number 1 for most, but not me. Okay, it may have been number 2, but it was NEVER at the very top. Nice smile, sense of humor, good-hearted, gentleman, etc…all of these were requirements. And I’m so lucky! My funny Valentine has all of these character traits, appearance traits, and so much more.

As I get older, the ability to make me laugh becomes even more important. And I know why, now. Even if he makes me mad, with one of his silly jokes he almost always makes me laugh. And then I can’t be mad at him anymore. It’s a great solution to a tiff.

So, if you are still out there searching for “Mr. Right”, don’t discount the importance of an amazing sense of humor…one that you “get”, one that will make you laugh no matter what. Because Life is Just Way Too Serious!

“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.” ~ W. H. Auden

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I remember when I was a little girl how proud I was of those little $1 rhinestone pins I would buy for my mom on Mother’s Day, her birthday, Valentine’s Day, Christmas and any other holiday I could think of. I would swell with pride as she pinned it on (no matter how gawdy) and wear it out. I never knew if she removed it after leaving the house alone, but when I was with her, she would wear them all the time we were out. It was like getting a stamp of approval.

As the years wore on, and I grew to understand that bigger wasn’t always better and multi-colored plastic “gemstones” glued to tinny metal wasn’t the be-all, end-all gift, I couldn’t believe that she had saved them. I worked to refine my taste in gifts. And, yet, Mom kept those gawdy gifts.

Recently, I was reading a post by Antique Mommy concerning her little boy, Sean, and his Christmas gift to her and it made me realize that those $1 gifts from a child are more valuable than a diamond. Moms have a special place in their hearts for their children and the gifts of love we bring to them. And nothing can hold a candle to those gifts.

And although I’ve been away from home for over 30 years, my mother still loves to open presents from me and I still wait with anticipation and a little anxiety to see if she reacts with that same joy of years ago. Sometimes I hit the mark and sometimes I don’t (I can finally tell after all these years which gifts are keepers and which ones aren’t). But I wouldn’t be surprised if those gawdy rhinestone gems are still in her jewelry box after all these years.

My dad was much the same way.  He was the recipient of every little resin statue of a cartoonish man with arms widespread, saying “I love you this much” and similar things that a child thinks her father should have.  And he placed them lovingly on a shelf in the family room.  Those odd little statues were a mainstay of his Father’s Day, Christmas, Valentines and birthdays. 

Those and inexpensive boxes of chocolate covered cherries.  And ties.  Nothing says “I love you” like a piece of fabric wrapped around your neck and knotted!  And since he was in the Army, he was not a tie-and-suit kind of guy most of the time.  But he expressed his joy over those ties and kept them all.   

And now, I have come to be the proud owner of a lump of clay artwork by my dear hubby.  When he was a little boy, he hand-molded a small dish (soapdish? ashtray? ring dish?) and painted it bright yellow.  He carefully carved his initials into it and it was glazed and fired.  My mother-in-law kept that little piece of love from him to her for over 45 years.  And then she gave it to me.  I love it.  I can see the care that went into it and the love of a mom who kept and cherished it for decades.  And now it’s mine to love, because my tall teddy-bear of a husband was once a tiny little boy and his mother is sharing that part of his life with me.  So, even though it isn’t MY memory, it is my momento of a time in his life when I wasn’t there.  And it makes me mushy!

“A mother’s heart is always with her children.” ~ Proverb

“The thing to remember about fathers is, they’re men. A girl has to keep it in mind: They are dragon-seekers, bent on improbable rescues. Scratch any father, you find someone chock-full of qualms and romantic terrors, believing change is a threat — like your first shoes with heels on, like your first bicycle it took such months to get.” ~ Phyllis McGinley

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If there was such a contest, would your family be contenders? Or do you find they don’t seem very interesting? I doubt that anyone’s family is really that dull. We all have that odd relative who makes you wonder if they were adopted. And then, there are some of us who are members of a family so strange, so peculiar, it seems there’s only one NORMAL member of the family.

I fall somewhere in the middle. We seem to have some odd ducks in my family. We never really do anything that could cause us to be institutionalized, but we do seem to have peculiarities that make me laugh out loud at times.

For instance, my mother is quite a character.  When my brother and I were really young, she had us convinced she was a witch.  Not the “wear black and fly on a broomstick” kind of witch, but a spell-casting, turn-bad-kids-into-frogs kind of witch.  If we were in the car, sitting in the back seat, misbehaving and fussing, all she had to do was say “Alakazam” and other mumbo-jumbo and then ask my dad if he heard croaking in the back seat.  We’d beg and plead not to be turned into frogs.  “We’ll be good!”  It was scary enough to keep us in line back then, but it sure is funny now. 

My American grandmother was a tiny woman who was really strong, a survivor and pretty amazing.  She had 12 children and spent many years on a farm in Oklahoma.  And she could kill rattlesnakes with her bare hands…actually, just one hand.  She used to grab them near the tail and swing them around and around until their heads exploded.  The mental picture I get is mind-boggling.  Okay, so this is the story my father told us when we were kids.  I still don’t know if it’s even possible!  But I do know that whether it’s true or not, either my grandmother or my father was a hoot!

I’m even more convinced that my family is pretty crazy when it comes to holidays (and, especially, gift-giving).  One relative, who will go nameless to protect…well…me, has been giving my dear hubby and me some musical gifts the last few years.  For instance, we are now the owners (please note, I didn’t say proud owners) of a singing donkey that does a very bad job on La Bamba.  I could swear the donkey has an accent that is from somewhere in Southeast Asia.  This year, we have just received a trio of singing kittens on a stuffed pillow.  Our little fur-baby, Tang, was horrified!  I’m not sure if he thinks he’s going to end up stuffed or if the noise from the meowing and singing freaks him out.  I’m really afraid to know what stuffed singing critter we’ll get next. 

But no matter what, I still have to say–my family may be a little crazy, but I love them!  And if they weren’t so kooky, I wouldn’t enjoy life so much. 

Just how crazy is your family?

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” ~ Jane Howard

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and I’m looking forward to it!  I always love seeing the kids dressed up.  Especially the really little ones who are just starting to figure out what Halloween is all about.  They are adorable!  It’s amazing how different Halloween is now from when I was a kid.  Parents don’t trust many people anymore (justified, but sad) and are extremely cautious about where they take their children trick-or-treating. 

When I was a kid, I remember being about 10 years old, going out with my brother and a couple of neighbor kids, wandering all over the military base, trick-or-treating and having such a good time, coming home way after dark and having a sack full of candy.  The next year was the first time my parents were ultra-cautious about what was in our sacks.  They had heard on the news about someone finding a razor blade in an apple the previous year and we had to dump out everything and have it checked out.  The innocence of Halloween was gone.  Every year after that, for a while, we kept hearing horror stories about a parent poisoning candy and trying to collect the insurance or some other sad tale.  It brought our trick-or-treating days to a close on a really sad note.  My brother and I were a little too old to go out after that, anyway, and started attending Halloween parties, instead.  Or we stayed home and helped our parents hand out candy to the next generation of little children, hoping their Halloweens wouldn’t be destroyed by a few “bad apples”.  It just seems to keep getting more and more dangerous for children as the years go by…so sad.  It makes me wish for a return to the good ol’ days.

Here’s hoping this year’s Halloween will be nothing but fun and laughter for all the children who are out there, trick-or-treating!

“As lousy as things are now, tomorrow they will be somebody’s good old days.” ~ Gerald Barzan

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Orange Slices and Circus Peanuts. All of these make me think of my father. He loved them. There are certain foods that make me think of him. He also loved lemon meringue pie, Lemon Coolers (a kind of cookie) and Chocolate Covered Cherries. Just seeing them takes me back in time, seeing my father enjoying them.

We have so many things in our past that are associated with food. As a population, we use food to celebrate or to create homey, comforting times. After all, who can see turkey without thinking of Thanksgiving? Or ham and scalloped potatoes without thinking of Easter? Well, at least, I can’t.  I cannot eat fried okra without thinking of my grandmother in California.  She was originally from the Ozarks and had spent most of her young life on a farm.  Southern style cooking was a mainstay in her house, but I loved her fried okra!  The fried okra, sitting in that black cast iron skillet, waiting to be plated.  Mmmm!  On the other hand, eating fish makes me think of my grandmother in England.  A little cliché, I know, but she was the first person I can remember feeding me fish (and chips).  

Some foods bring back memories of locations instead of people.  So, when I eat yellow pear tomatoes, I always think of Aberdeen, MD, and when I eat strawberries, California pops into my mind.  Nothing reminds me of England as much as drinking sparkling lemon drink.  My grandmother used to buy it for me when I was a little girl, visiting her there.  I can still see us walking to the corner store and walking back to her house with that bottle in hand.  Although the row houses were torn down years ago, I still see them, picture perfect, in my mind, that narrow, twisting road bordered by a sidewalk and the huge wall on the other side of the street that surrounded the park. 

So, this weekend, while I am thinking of Fourths gone by and enjoying time off work, I’ll be grilling steak and making tomato and cucumber salad, thinking of the fresh tomatoes we used to pick from our garden, the grilling my mother and father did when I was still young and the memories will be as fresh and sweet as they were they day they were made.  Here’s to a great Fourth for all of you, wonderful memories in the making and a chance to look back over past Fourths.  Happy Birthday, America!  And many more to come.    

“What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?” ~Lin Yutang

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I’ve been thinking about a particular Easter when I was a little girl…

When I was young, my mother liked to make our Easter baskets more personal.  My brother and I didn’t get those store-bought, pre-packaged Easter baskets, even though we used to gaze at them with obvious desire.  Instead, my mother selected our favorite treats with great thought and spent time putting together personalized baskets for each of us.  She realized far more than we did that those other baskets were not what we would really like.  Every Easter was like that.  Wonderful Easter baskets with toys and treats. 

But the best Easter was the one I have been remembering lately.  My mother made me a stuffed frog.  My brother also got one.  She found the perfect green fabric for our frogs and yellow fabric for the belly side.  The frogs were filled with dried beans, so they were floppy and poseable and so much fun to play with.  The basket also had my favorite Brach’s malted milk ball eggs.  I still love those and each time I have one, I flash back to those days when the white coating used to make my lips white.  I would lick the outside of the egg and purposefully paint my lips.    

I’m not sure most kids remember what was in a pre-packaged Easter basket, but I will never forget my frog.  I can still feel the weight of the bean-bag frog, with the Ch-ch-ch-ch sound of the beans tapping against each other as I played.   Years later, I was still fascinated with frogs and had quite a collection.

My mother didn’t give us what we wanted at the time, but she gave us what we would remember…and cherish.  She understood far more than we did that memories were being made.  And love was being shown.    

“The most important thing she’d learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” ~ Jill Churchill

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