Sounds of Silence

All of the Thanksgiving out-of-towers began scattering Saturday. They dribbled and drabbled away in different directions. It was a splendid holiday, because being with family always is.

As usual, when the last person left (it happened to be our niece Brooke, who caught a midnight flight home to AZ), it felt the same as it always does. First, a big PHEW because we all made it without a single unpleasant incident. Then came the stillness, a silence that is partially a relief but mostly bittersweet. And then Bill and I collapsed in our new recliners and sat numbly and watched the end of the National Dog Show, which I had recorded on Thanksgiving. (Good job Brussels Griffon.)

And by the way, a big shout-out to Brooke, who gamely spent Saturday night with her aunt and uncle watching Dalmatians and Afghan Hounds and Portuguese Water Spaniels prancing around the ring with nary a snicker (Brooke, that is; not the dogs). This, after spending the afternoon in downtown Denver with Jen and I and not complaining one little bit when I suggested this photo op…..

One of the things I always do on Thanksgiving is put up my angel tree in our living room. Every year when I contemplate the activity, I begin my annual lamenting about how difficult that tree is to assemble and how it requires Bill’s help. He is always willing to drag the thing up the stairs and put it together without complaint, but it is a pain in the neck and I know he grits his teeth and does it because it means a lot to me. So as usual, I stated to everyone who would listen that one of these years, I am going to buy a new tree that I can put up by myself. This year people answered. First, my daughter-in-law Lauren said, “Kris, why don’t you just go somewhere this afternoon and buy a new tree?” Hmmmm. Then my sister Bec told me that she owns a very easy-to-assemble pre-lit Christmas tree that she put up herself.


So my two sisters and I went to Home Depot Friday after lunch, walked over to a tree that was pre-lit, easy to assemble, and extremely affordable. Before you know it, I had a new Christmas tree, just like that. What will I complain about next year?

I had the tree up in no time. Generally, the grandkids help decorate. This year, the grandkids were scattered, but my great-niece Faith was on the job like a dog on a bone. While it’s true I had to do a bit of ornament rearranging after she left, I appreciated her decorating expertise…..

In the glory days of my youth, I did a lot of Christmas decorating. Since we leave for AZ on Christmas Day, I spend Christmas Eve day being the Grinch before his heart grew three sizes. Therefore, decorating is much more restricted. Still, I put some holiday touches in my newly-remodeled family room, put some pretty wreaths on my doors (thanks to my sister-in-law Sami, and put out some Christmas candles.

My Christmas goal for today is to go through all of the Amazon packages I have been receiving throughout this past week and make sure that everything I’ve ordered has arrived. Then the real fun begins – giftwrapping.

And the smell of roasted turkey has barely dissipated.

Thursday Thoughts

But Can You Dance?
We returned Tuesday from our trip to Chicago to visit Bill’s mother. Just prior to our arrival, she came down with a chest cold. Chest colds are no fun for anyone, but when you’re 98 years old, they can, of course, be particularly dangerous. Like Bill, Wilma is tough and a non-complainer, but the cold was really hard for her. Mostly she was mad that she couldn’t talk – almost no voice at all for several days. Sunday we turned on television to watch the church service that they hold in their community room, but which they televise for those who are unable to attend. She had watched the Catholic Mass at which Bill and I were in attendance, and was prepared to watch the protestant service after we got back to her apartment. She tried with all of her might to sing along with the hymns to no avail whatsoever. She was very frustrated. Finally, she turned to Bill and croaked, “Go down and tell the nurse that I can’t sing.” I shared her frustration, but I must admit that the statement seemed ripe for a punch line.

The Perfect Food
There were a few things she could get across however, and one of those things was that she was sick and tired of the food she was eating every night. “It’s crap!” she croaked one night. So despite her illness, and since the weather was somewhat mild, we took her out for pizza at her favorite place – Aurlelio’s Pizzaria. And Bill loves his mother so much that he was willing to go there instead of HIS favorite place – Fox’s Pizzaria. There is no greater love than that of a son for his mother! It was a fun night and we were glad that for one night at least she didn’t have to eat “crap.” The server was nice enough to take our picture….

Bill Wilma Kris Aurelios 12.15

We Say Christmas
Though there are probably a handful of Jewish residents at the senior facility where Wilma lives, the place is definitely decorated for Christmas, all political correctness aside. With the large Polish-, Irish-, and Italian-Catholic population of Chicago, those numbers are probably represented among Smith Crossing’s population. All I know is that when I would take my walks around the facility, nearly every unit was decorated for the Christmas holiday. Here was Wilma’s contribution….

Wilma door decoration

Bag It
The day before we left for Chicago, I got motivated and began to go through the place in my closet where I keep all of my old purses. For reasons I myself can’t even understand, I have a difficult time throwing or giving away old purses. I always think I will use them again. Even when the lining is torn and the bag is dirty. I will fix the lining and clean the bag, I tell myself. The chances of that happening are about the same as the chance that I will ever ride the world’s scariest roller coaster. So I am determined to make a final perusal of the bags to make sure there isn’t a hidden $100 bill, and give them to Goodwill. If you think I’m kidding, take a look at this photo…..


Give Them 20 Years…..
Last night Bill and I attended the holiday performance of the Southmoor Elementary School Choir, of which Dagny is a proud member. Being a McLain and therefore one of the shortest in her class, she was in the front row where she was easy to watch. As far as I was concerned, there didn’t need to be anyone else singing because I never took my eyes off of her. In a mere 20 years I will be watching her on The Voice. As an added bonus, the Southmoor Band played a few short holiday numbers. Key to the trombone section was Alastair McLain, who appeared to play beautifully. Let’s face it….Glenn Miller had to start somewhere. Here is a picture of the stars of the show….

Alastair Dagny christmas show