Fall of Royalty

The low point of my day yesterday hit early, somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 a.m. As I have told you all many times, I’m an early riser. Not being up and at ’em until 6 means I slept in. Being so well rested, I was off to a cheerful start. But when I settled at the table with my cup of coffee, Google fed me the sad news: there is strife amongst the British royal family. Sadly, according to some news sources, Princess Kate and Duchess Meghan are bickering. Yes, my friends, some sources are admitting that the Duchess of Sussex might just be a pain in the ass. Or perhaps I should say arse, it being Great Britain and all.

Some news sources are reporting that members of the duchess’ staff are fleeing like General Cornwallis during the Siege of Yorktown. Why? Because she is reportedly meaner than the Grinch. And Prince Harry is going along with it. Yes dear, he has been heard to say. You know if Meghan — oops, I mean the duchess — is being defended by her father, who was forced to have a heart attack so the monarchy had a reason to prevent him from showing up at the church, things are serious.

Prince William and Princess Kate have reportedly installed a peek hole in the door of their apartment in Kensington Palace so they can make sure not to answer if Meghan stops by to borrow a cup of sugar…..

Doesn’t it look like they’re both gritting their teeth?

The whole thing made me happy that I didn’t get up early to watch their wedding like I did when Charles married Diana. Instead, I recorded it so that I could fast-forward through the boring parts, which was nearly everything except for the chorus that sang Stand By Me and the minister who I suspect was sent to the Tower of London soon after the wedding was over. Using the same numeral references as Americans use for President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush — that being 41 and 43 — the queen was heard to say if 1 could send people to the Tower, so can 2.

When you’re up on a pedestal as high as Meghan and Harry have been, the fall from grace is an even more difficult tumble.  I’m reserving judgment, however. After all, let’s face it. The first trimester of pregnancy can make anyone cranky. After having to pee 10 or 12 times during a single ball, smiling at your skinny sister-in-law might make you grumpy. And then, as your stomach becomes larger and larger — oops, I mean, your baby bump gets bumpier — and you have to look at Princess Kate in her size 0 dresses, it’s enough to annoy even a duchess. Or, at a minimum, scream at your lady-in-waiting……

Harry to Meghan: Ha! Kate is dragging toilet paper from her panties. Let’s not tell her.

And then, of course, there’s all the pressure to make your appearance wearing stilettos and a clean dress five minutes after you give birth because KATE DID IT! You really want to sit at home eating frozen yogurt and cheese balls, but nooooo, you have to make an appearance within seconds of cutting the cord so you can’t gain more than two pounds…..

Anyway, the whole thing makes me realize that royalty or not, being pregnant can be as hard on a duchess as it is on you and me. Just concentrate on the real meaning of Christmas, Duchess.

O Christmas Tree

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter.
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter.

Lyrics: Ernst Anschütz, 1824
Melody: Volksweise (traditional)

My dad, when asked, always maintained that his favorite Christmas carol was O Tannenbaum, or better known to us as O Christmas Tree. That particular carol has never done much for me, I will admit. It doesn’t speak about the birth of Christ, but I don’t hold that against it. It just isn’t snappy enough for my taste. Not like I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas (Only a Hippopotamus Will Do). But I guess if you are of Swiss descent and heard your mom and dad speaking that language as you grew up, you would be a bit nostalgic about a song with German ties.

Here’s what I do know, however: Christmas trees were always a big part of our holiday tradition.

My siblings might be able to correct me, but I don’t think Mom and Dad had a fake Christmas tree the entire time that they had kids at home. And longer than that, I believe. We didn’t go traipsing out into the country with an ax and cut down a tree. We weren’t the tree-cutting-down type. But we did have a family tradition of going to Earl’s Garden Center in Columbus and picking out a big Christmas tree that would then be delivered to our house.

In my early years, we decorated the tree with colored lights and tinsel and ornaments collected throughout the years. At some point when we were all a bit older, Mom and Dad began to get their Christmas tree flocked; that is, sprayed with some sort of chemical that looked like snow, (and probably caused cancer). At that point, we began accenting the tree in red, heavy on the candy canes. I’m pretty sure that tradition stopped when they picked up and moved to Colorado. But they still had a live tree.

I don’t have a live tree. In fact, as the years have gone by, my trees have decreased in number and size. I used to have big trees in the family room, the living room, and the kitchen (decorated with cooking-related ornaments). But since we leave for AZ on Christmas, we make it easy on ourselves and just put up a small tree in the living room (for my angels) and a really small tree in our family room, so we can enjoy the lights…..

When Court was a baby, however, we always had a live tree. The Christmas after I became single, I was determined to keep up traditions for Court’s sake. Court and I went and picked out a live Christmas tree. I then had to struggle to get it home, drag it inside, and try (unsuccessfully) to saw the bottom off of the tree. By this time I was crying real tears and poor 5-year-old Court was looking forlorn. So much for keeping up every single tradition. From then on, it was a fake tree for this girl.

The Christmas trees they are selling at my nearby grocery store are becoming fewer and fewer. The other day I saw someone driving a car with a tree on top, and it looked like a Christmas card. It made me smile.

Here’s my favorite Christmas tree story: When Court was a toddler — maybe 3 years old — we were at my dad and mom’s house in Frisco, CO. Nestled among the ornaments of their Christmas tree were numerous candy canes. Court was instructed NOT TO TOUCH THOSE CANDY CANES. Later that evening, I spotted him, hands to his sides, leaning over and licking one of the candy canes that hung on the tree. He was technically following the rules — he wasn’t “touching” the candy canes. 3-year-old logic. He was following the spirit of the law. The Christmas spirit, that is.

Dad, I hope you are singing a chorus of O Tannenbaum with Grammie and Gramps in heaven.

Saturday Smile: Tattletale Troubles

I already provided my readers with my thoughts on the Elf on the Shelf in this blog post. But whatever makes Christmas more fun for kids is alright with this nana.

Having said that, something happened to one of my grandkids this past week that I have not seen before. It happened, of course, to 4-year-old Cole…..

Because seriously, who else?

One morning last week, his sister Kaiya sent me a text with this photo attached…..

Who knew that there was a Department of Elf Surveillance? Apparently Wally-the-Elf took umbridge at the fact that Cole tested Wally’s patience by sending him flying off his shelf in one fell swoop.

His mommy attested to the fact that within a nanosecond of the incident, Cole was repentant. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” he immediately said. “Tell that to Wally,” was her response.

Sorry or not, he has gotten his one-and-only warning. Time alone will tell whether Cole gets, well, coal in his stocking.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: Best Sellers

PBS recently used we, the readers, to select their favorite book of all time. The winner was To Kill a Mockingbird. But as we learned through that process, the best books ever written are not necessarily readers’ favorites. Still, a classic book came out on top.

I came across an article from a website called Literary Hub that provided the biggest fiction bestsellers for the last 100 years according to Publishers Weekly. The website also offered other books that were published that same year, but didn’t fare as well. I found both lists to be very interesting, and offer it to you for your perusal…..

https://lithub.com/here-are-the-biggest-fiction-bestsellers-of-the-last-100-years/

Thursday Thoughts

Christmas Cookies
As I was making my second batch of biscotti this afternoon, it occurred to me that I haven’t yet baked cookies with any of my grands. It seems like I do so every year, but when I tried to find a photo to prove what a great nana I am, I was unsuccessful. The only one I could find was from way back in 2013…..

…..but I know there are more cookie-baking sessions than that. I recall when Kaiya was just a toddler, she sat on my counter as I cut out sugar cookies. I then put the bottle of sprinkles in her hand, and helped her shake out the sugar to put on top of the cookies. I love the above photo, however, because they’re all very serious. I don’t know where Mylee and Maggie Faith are hiding! Cole was nesting in his mommy’s tummy. By the way, I realized this year that I have had the same Christmas cookie cutters since 1975. Santa has probably gotten a lot heavier since then.

And More Christmas Cookies
This year, I’ve made shortbread cookies, peanut butter blossoms, and double chocolate biscotti for Bill. Yesterday afternoon, I made cinnamon biscotti for me (though I’m pretty sure Bill will choke them down…..

The Wells Fargo Wagon Is A’Comin’
These days I feel like a kid laying in bed listening for Santa Claus. I always have one ear listening for the sound of a truck driving up to our house, signalling the arrival of another one of my packages. It seems like every day someone on Next Door complains about a package being stolen off their porch by what has apparently come to be referred to as a Porch Pirate. My favorite story was about someone in our neighborhood who got a package stolen. Unfortunately for the thief, the package contained a couple of hundred worms for the family’s lizard. Ha!

Age is Just a Number
Today is December 6, and it took until yesterday for it to hit me: I am on Medicare. This government subsidy goes into effect the first day of the month that you turn 65. I turn 65 in a week or so; thus, I am my grandmother. After stumbling through the process of getting registered and my co-insurance figured out, now I have to figure out how to use it. Let the fun begin.

Holly Jolly Christmas

Way back in November (well, it was just last week, but it WAS November), I was whining about the fact that I not only didn’t have a single Christmas present purchased, I actually didn’t really have any idea what I was getting anyone. Now it’s December, and I’m happy to say gloria in excelsis deo! I’ve got all of my gifts either purchased or I at least know what I’m getting everyone. The merry little elves at Amazon are keeping busy with this Christmas shopper.

Well, I know what I’m getting almost everyone. There is one grandchild — and I won’t name names, but she is named after the main character in Atlas Shrugged — who is giving me all sorts of fits….

But an idea will come, I’m sure of it.

Every day, packages come trickling in from the postman or FedEx driver. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, even if it doesn’t look a lot like Christmas at this very moment. As usual, I’m putting off the inevitable wrapping of the gifts. Maybe next week I will turn up some Christmas music and start my engines.

Speaking of Christmas traditions, I have been watching a shameful number of Christmas movies. Both Netflix and Amazon Prime are screening many of them — some old, and some new. I prefer the old movies, but admit to watching my share of new films as well.

As you know, Christmas movies almost always involve romance. The problem with the newer movies is that they all have the same plot. And for the most part, I am pretty sure they all have the same actor playing the love interest. All the male heartthrobs look the same — dark hair with a two-days’ growth of beard and big muscles. Dreamy….

 

These past few days, I have been concentrating on the older movies. Holiday Inn…..

…..and White Christmas being two of my favorites. No one croons like Bing Crosby….

While A Christmas Story remains my favorite holiday movie, I will somewhat shamefully admit that I am just a tiny bit in love with the much more adult movie  Love, Actually.

I’ve also been listening to Christmas music, mostly while I’m driving or baking Christmas cookies…..

My Christmas playlist includes exactly no sad songs. I refuse to listen to sad Christmas music. Where Are You Christmas? (Faith Hill), Merry Christmas Darling (The Carpenters), Same Auld Lang Syne (Dan Fogelberg), and the saddest one of all, The Christmas Shoes (Newsong). Seriously, a Christmas song about buying shoes for your terminally ill mother who will die before day’s end? This is Christmas, aka The Most Wonderful Time of the Year), unless your mother is about to die.

Instead, my playlist includes songs like We Need a Little Christmas, Feliz Navidad, and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. Every year I have a different favorite. This year it is Pentatonix’s version of Mary Did You Know?.

My feelings about Christmas are kind of summed up by something my grandson Micah told his mama the other day when they were singing Christmas carols. “It seems like Jesus is the main character,” said Micah…..

Out of the mouth of babes.

Sounds and Smells

The house in which I grew up was pretty small. We had a kitchen which had just enough room for a small table that fit the six of us. There was also a dining room, a living room, three bedrooms, and a small bathroom with a tub only, no shower. I never asked, but I would guess the house was no more than 1,200 or 1,300 square feet…..

With a small house like that, someone could practically swallow in one room and someone else could hear it in the next. Not many secrets among family members in a house that size.

When I was growing up, my mother worked at the bakery, and she worked a lot. I think when I was really small she stayed home with us, but as we grew older and started school, she spent much of her day  at the bakery. I remember that Bec got our breakfast ready for us on school mornings because Mom was already at work; smokey link sausages and toast. I love smokey link sausages to this day, but she never makes them for me anymore!…..

Bec was always helping Jen and I with something or other. Jen looks surprised, and I’m clutching my bride doll like she’s preparing to elope.

Anyhoo, it was mostly Sunday mornings that I remember waking up early and hearing the sounds of Mom in the kitchen making breakfast before church. I could hear the radio that sat on her kitchen counter playing in the background. K-F-A-B, in Omaha. That’s how the jingle went. I can hear it in my head to this day. Nat King Cole singing Mona Lisa or Andy Williams singing Moon River. I could hear the refrigerator opening and closing. The sounds of dishes clanking brought me to my feet and I crept down the short hall to the kitchen. As I approached the kitchen, I would hear  Mom’s cough, caused by years of smoking. In fact, it was this very cough that inspired my dad to announce to Mom one Sunday morning that they were going to quit smoking. They did, and never smoke another cigarette……

Our kitchen was very woody. My brother is washing something. Probably Matchbox cars.

Mom would still be in her housecoat and slippers, but breakfast was well on its way. The days of drip coffee were some kind of Jetson fantasy, but there was coffee perking on the stove. I wish kids nowadays could hear the sound of perking coffee and smell its amazing fragrance. It wasn’t quite like the Folger’s commercial (remember that commercial Baby Boomers?) but it certainly had a distinctive sound.

I’ve often asked myself which of my five senses — sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch — I would give up if required to do so. I’m thankful that I’ve never actually had to choose, because God bless all of the people who live productive lives without the use of one or more of these senses. Hearing is perhaps the one I would choose if my feet were held to the fire. But I also believe that sounds can produce a memory quicker than else. For example, a familiar song can immediately take me back to a memorable place and time. But smells can also invoke a feeling of joy. I can scarcely smell bacon frying without thinking about Mom’s breakfasts.

The house in which Bill and I live is hardly a mansion. It does, however, have two levels, thereby decreasing the chances that anyone sleeping upstairs will be woken up by the smell of bacon frying. But I always hope that Court has some of those same kinds of memories as do I. Memories brought about through sight or sound or smells. Memories of being a kid and feeling safe.