Christmas Whimsy

Despite my very best intentions, I have gotten caught up in the hurry, flurry, and scurry of the Christmas season. In fact, just yesterday I realized that I was one present short for two of my grandkids. That wouldn’t really matter except that kids count. Not count as in “matter” though they do, indeed, matter. Count as in “one-two-three-four.” Oh yes, they full-out know if one of their siblings gets one more present than they themselves bagged. It doesn’t make any difference if you actually spent more money on the child who got four presents instead of five. Nope. What matters is that there is the same number of presents sitting in front of each of the children after Whoever-Plays-Santa hands out the gifts.

No harm, no foul, because I quickly sat down and ordered presents from Amazon and they will be on my doorstep by December 19, guaranteed. Whatever did we do before Amazon? If they end up owning the world, I’m not sure that would be such a bad thing.

I spent the afternoon wrapping gifts and then sorting them by family. That was how I realized I was one gift short for two kids. And then I put back on the church-going clothes that I had discarded when we got home from Mass so that I was decently attired for Handel’s Messiah, the concert I was attending all by myself.

I was feeling a bit sad that I was going alone, despite the fact that I reminded myself (and really meant it) that I would rather go by myself than drag Bill who would fall asleep about 10 minutes into the performance. One should listen to the Messiah with someone else who loves it too. And as it turned out, I was perfectly fine. I find I’m great company! Besides, I started crying during the Hallelujah Chorus and I would have been embarrassed had someone been with me.

The week of Christmas is always a very busy time for me. I know, I know – it’s a very busy time for everyone. And I don’t even have a job that requires me to do all my Christmas things after 5 o’clock. But our Christmas celebrations are spread out which makes things a bit more difficult. We have our first celebration with Court and his family on December 23, as they always have family plans on Christmas Eve. Thus, Christmas Eve is devoted to the David McLain family (and the Heather-and-Lauren McLain family every other year, but sadly, not this year as they were here for Thanksgiving and so will be with the OTHER family for Christmas.  It’s fair play).

I have mentioned before that Bill and I spend Christmas Eve Day being the Grinch. Since we leave on Christmas Day, we take down all of our Christmas decorations that we so joyfully put up the weekend following Thanksgiving so that we don’t come back from AZ in May and face a sad-looking Christmas tree. I wish I had a big closet into which I could simply roll my still-decorated Christmas tree where it would sit for 12 months until next Christmas. That would be a benefit (and perhaps the only benefit) to living in a mansion. But the truth is that in May, when we return, there are tulips in our backyard and peonies ready to bloom. Much as I love Christmas decorations, I don’t want to face them when I’m ready to start gardening.

I want to conclude this rambling blog post about nothing by telling you a story. A week or so ago I wrote about the notion of living in the moment – mindfulness is what the article I was quoting called it. The article suggested that as a step in the right direction, you should begin to notice things you never realized about your spouse. I commented that I didn’t think there was a single thing I didn’t know about Bill after 25 years of marriage.

The other day we were having breakfast at a Mexican restaurant. Christmas music was playing in the background. The Christmas song All I Want for Christmas is You began playing. As Bill munched his huevos rancheros, he asked, “Isn’t this the Christmas song from Love, Actually?”…..

It was; in fact, it was from the soundtrack. He was quiet for a moment, and then he said, “I think this is my favorite Christmas song.”

Now, that was out of the blue. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that song – in fact, I like it as well – in a million years, with my feet held to the fire, I would not have guessed that to be Bill’s favorite Christmas song. In fact, I would have sworn that he didn’t even have a favorite Christmas song since he really doesn’t appear to pay attention to any holiday music.

So, I’m mindful that I have a very interesting husband – more interesting, in fact, than I give him credit for.

I’d better sit on the front steps and await my Amazon deliveries.

Wonderful Life

As I have been madly crocheting this holiday season in preparation for gift-giving, I have watched all manner of Christmas movies. I have seen Miracle on 34th Street (the newer version), White Christmas (in which Rosemary Clooney makes being distraught an art form), Love, Actually (yes, yet again), A Christmas Story (which is now and will be forever more be my favorite Christmas movie), Holiday (in which Jack Black is an odd love interest for Kate Winslet), Last Holiday (there’s probably not another Christmas movie that leaves me feeling happier than this), and Holiday Inn (I could watch Fred Astaire’s Fourth of July solo dance a million times).

And Sunday, when I decided I couldn’t stomach watching the Broncos not have an offense any longer, I watched It’s a Wonderful Life. Shockingly, it was the first time I had ever seen this movie.



Oh, don’t get me wrong. I have seen bits and pieces of the movie throughout my life. Really, how could I not have ever seen the ending where Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are embracing and all of the people are dumping cashola on the table to save his butt and the bell rings, indicating that Clarence had finally gotten his wings? I feel comfortable not having indicated SPOILER ALERT because I’m pretty sure I’m the only living person of reading age who hadn’t seen the movie.

But I had never sat down and watched the entire film from beginning to end. I had never, in fact, seen the beginning of the movie, which of course sets the stage for the whole point of the film – that George Bailey had wanted and planned on a much more exciting life than the one he ended up having. That’s pretty important context to have known about for the ending to make any sense. But Christmas movies really don’t need to make sense. Is there any universe in which Jack Black would be a love interest for Kate Winslet except in a Christmas movie?

However, it’s true that hardly anyone’s life turns out exactly as planned, mostly because as of yet, we aren’t able to see into the future. What’s that old Yiddish adage? Man plans and God laughs. Ain’t it the truth? It’s interesting to think about how I would have imagined my life in 50 years if asked to predict when I was 10 years old. I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that I would live in Denver, Colorado and have a second house in Mesa, Arizona. Since at that point I hadn’t been any further than Omaha, I undoubtedly wouldn’t have guessed that I would have been on two transatlantic cruises and seen such things as the Parthenon in Greece, the pyramids in Egypt, climbed to the top of St. Peter’s in Vatican City, and sat on the grass at the base of the Eiffel Tower.

In fact, I would have been expecting and frankly, wanting, a life just like the life of ol’ George Bailey.

We all get caught up in the preparations for Christmas. I have awakened at 3:45 a.m. on a couple of recent mornings unable to go back to sleep because I’m mentally counting the gifts I have purchased so that I don’t make that fateful mistake of having one more present for one grandchild than I have for the rest. Did I remember to set aside enough cookies to share with the neighbors who faithfully keep an eye on our house while we’re in AZ? Will Bill’s gift arrive in time?

STOP! It’s Advent. The time for quiet reflection and preparation, not for the gifts that we are going to give or receive, but for the birth of the one who is sent to save us. Advent gets lost in the sea of Christmas frenzy. Like George Bailey, we need to remember to be grateful for what we have and for those who make our lives special.

The one thing that all of those Christmas movies have in common is that life is full of surprises, and it’s not what happens to us, but who we share our lives with and how we accept our life as it has played out.

Thursday Thoughts

Yesterday was not my greatest day ever, for a number of reasons. In an effort to make myself feel better, I did the only thing one could do under the circumstances – well, aside from eating a quart of Bunny Tracks ice cream out of the carton with a spoon. I watched the movie Love, Actually. Sometime in the recent past, one of those Facebook questionnaires asked me if there was a movie I’ve watched five or more times. Yes there is, Ladies and Gentlemen. I have probably watched Love, Actually somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 times since it came out in 2003, and I love it every single time I watch it. The story lines are clever, the music is fun, there’s just enough Christmas to get me in the spirit and just enough poignant tales to make me cry a bit. Not too much. Just the right amount. Plus, I could watch the scene in which Hugh Grant (who plays the British prime minister) dances at No. 10 Downing Street by himself to Jump (For My Love). By the way, Sleepless in Seattle is another such movie, but yesterday I needed to see Hugh Grant dance.

See You Later, Facebook
I’m taking a two-week break from Facebook, but I think that I will still post my blog in the morning with my eyes closed. I have found that presently Facebook is having a negative impact on my life, and I can control that, so I plan to do just that. See all of my Facebook friends soon! In the meantime, we can communicate the old-fashioned way — talking!

Christmas Spirit
In addition to watching a holiday movie (if you can call Love, Actually a holiday movie, I also am getting in the spirit of Christmas in my Nanas Whimsies Etsy Shop. Look at some of my holiday cheer…..


Part of the reason I have been off-kilter was because it was six years ago yesterday that my dad passed away. I think of him so often, and my mother as well. My brother texted me late in the afternoon and commented on how lucky we were to be blessed with such good parents. That is really true. There aren’t many days that go by that I don’t think about one or the other of my parents and wish they were around to help me decide what to do about this or that…


And, by the way, I had pink eye in this photo, so don’t laugh.