Oh, Christmas Tree.

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is over — it feels like it was just Thanksgiving a minute ago.  It also felt like I decorated late this year, but it’s been that way since The Mid-Century Supper Club Potluck ramped up, and all holiday effort gets thrown into that first, and then I can start at home. Last year it was a little chaotic since it was our first Christmas in our new house and I didn’t know where to put everything, but this year I think we had a handle on it.

My mom adhered to the Swedish tradition of setting up the tree after Lucia Day on December 13th, and taking it down on the 12th Day of Christmas on December 6th, Epiphany. I like taking it down then, too, because I like making it last. But we took it down a day earlier this year, because our tree was so dried out I was worried the ornaments would fall and break. I was having dreams that my parents’ and Jon’s grandma’s ornaments were shattering, and it made me anxious. Plus it was a rainy Saturday and I’m still not feeling great, so it was good timing.

Even though we got a late start on the rest of the house, we actually got an early start on the tree on Thanksgiving weekend. On the recommendation of a friend, we went to Loma Vista Farm and were completely charmed. There’s a pony and a horse and goats and alpacas and a friendly barn cat and a miniature pig named Rocky who loves belly rubs! The Christmas tree sales fund the farm year-round for educational activities for kids of all ages. I was enchanted by this little slice of paradise in our town.

[Unfortunately, 2 weeks after we got our tree someone broke in and vandalized all the trees, poinsettias, wreaths and canopy, and they lost out on important sales. It broke my heart so I started a fundraiser for them so they can keep doing their good work. Please visit this sweet little oasis!]

And I was enchanted by our tree, too. For most of my adult life I’ve had a fake or aluminum tree, but after my mom died and I got all my parents’ ornaments, we started getting a real one. Last year we didn’t realize how tall our ceilings in the new house were so our tree was small, but this year we got a beautiful, majestic tree.

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I especially liked the top (though we trimmed it) because it reminded me of a story I read as a kid about a Christmas tree with a wonky top that was never chosen and it was sad, but it wound up becoming a pole that a morning glory vine grew on so it was beautifully decorated after all. I think of that story every year.

And it was HUGE! Big enough for our ornaments, but Jon’s grandma’s precious ornaments and my parents’ as well. Unwrapping them is like unwrapping old friends, and I may or may not have kissed some of them before hanging them on the tree.

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For some reason, this ornament has always been one of my favorites. It’s not that great or exciting, but I always loved it — it fascinated me. In fact it broke at one point and my mom was going to throw it away, but I took putty and put back together. (I didn’t do a great job, being about 8 at the time, but it’s still holding up!) It was always a very big deal that I had to hang it by a green light, and every year my mom would set this one — and a couple others — aside for me to hang. It was the first to go up this year, by a green light, of course.

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But I really was having anxiety dreams that the ornaments would fall, so we took the tree down today.  It was so brittle, but it was such a sturdy, wonderful tree that it held up (and not as many needles shed as we expected), and we didn’t have any casualties. I carefully wrapped them up (I may or may not have kissed some of them before putting them away) and they’re ready for next year.

Its last day, before and after. Goodbye, tree. The corner looks so empty now and it’s a little sad, but then again, I started feeling crummy again so it’s very possible the rest of the decorations will be up until March. Maybe even April. (One time I kept my pink and white Barbie Christmas tree up until July. I just got so used to it I forgot it was even there.)

The holidays were really nice this year (except the getting sick part). They’ve been bittersweet the past few years, but this year was just lovely. I missed my mom and dad of course, and I always will, but this year I was okay. It was nice to be surrounded by their beloved decorations co-mingled with ours, and it felt like they were close. It felt like home.

Which is really good because clearly I kind of love Christmas.

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Hudson’s Bay Blanket

For the past few years, I’ve been obsessed with getting a Hudson’s Bay Blanket. It’s become my holy grail.

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I grew up with one — well, a knockoff one from JC Penney’s, anyway. That blanket, along with a scratchy red plaid Pendleton blanket, were always around. When I was little and sick and on the couch with Saltines and 7-Up and watching The Joker’s Wild, my mom would tuck me in with one of those blankets, though I much preferred the quilt we got one summer in Wisconsin.

Many years later, in my her last days, my sister brought the Hudson Bay blanket to the hospital for my mom. She was so cold, and hospitals are stingy with blankets. (I’m not proud of how I yelled at the smug orderly who refused to give my mom extra blankets in the emergency room as she shivered. Oh, wait. Actually I am.) We were all glad she had something cozy and familiar, and glad to tuck her in as she had done for us so many times before.

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My sister wound up with both the Hudson Bay and the Pendleton blankets (I wound up with the quilt from Wisconsin, which I’m under as I type), and I started looking for a Hudson Bay of my own. I was shocked at how expensive they are! New Hudson Bay Blanket

I jokingly asked for one for Christmas, but knew I wouldn’t get it. Even vintage ones with moth-holes go for a ton of money! I looked in every thrift store, antique store, flea market, and eventually found a small one that is kind of chewed up, but it was cheap enough that I got it for a throw at the end of the bed — almost a placeholder for when I found the real deal.

I also realized that I didn’t really want the real deal — I wanted a knockoff like my parents had. And just when I decided that, we went through our old earthquake kit to refresh it, and lo and behold, we found Jon’s grandma’s maroon Hudson’s Bay blanket, that we had put in there about 10 years ago and completely forgot about it!

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Still, I held out hope that someday I would find the multi-colored Glacier Park one. Then last week I idly looked on etsy, never expecting to find one, and there was a 1950s “Golden Dawn” JC Penney knockoff for less than $80, and big! It seemed too good to be true, so when it arrived yesterday, as I was sick on the couch (no Saltines, 7-Up OR Joker’s Wild, but the quilt from Wisconsin), I opened the package and didn’t expect much.

It is perfect.

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It’s huge! And soft and wonderful.

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Dino TOTALLY approves.

But as it happens when you find your holy grail, there’s initial glee but then a little bit of a let-down, too — the search is over, and what’s left to look for and find?

But I think I have a solution for that.

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Today

I’m writing this blog for me, and this is something I want to look back on and remember and know that something special happened on January 3, 2019: the 116th Congress made history today, with record numbers: women, Muslims, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, young, bisexual, firsts… Diverse, dynamic, and democratic. It feels like water in the desert, finally. 127 women! Wow! Just wonderful.

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The New Face of Power in America

Of thee I sing!

Under the Weather.

Why do people say, “under the weather”? health-and-tea

Since I myself am under the weather, I looked it up:

“To feel ill. Originally it meant to feel seasick or to be adversely affected by bad weather. The term is correctly ‘under the weather bow’ which is a gloomy prospect; the weather bow is the side upon which all the rotten weather is blowing.”

I’m not seasick, just a bad cold that hit on New Year’s Eve. Every few years I get really sick, but hoping this isn’t one of those times… And hoping to feel better by tomorrow. Missing work makes me anxious. All I’ve done today is stay in bed, sleeping and listless. We ordered delivery for dinner, and usually Hot & Sour Soup is a good cure, but this was terrible Hot & Sour Soup.  (Our quest for good Chinese delivery in our new town is still ongoing.) Also, I can never remember if it’s “Feed a fever, starve a cold” or vice versa. Either way, it’s starved thanks to that soup.

It’s kind of a crappy way to start the new year, but things can only go up from here, right? Right.

 

 

 

Cliché

I know, it’s such a cliché to start this up again on January 1st, but meh. I like clichés. Dorothy Parker even had a poodle named Cliché.

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This website (blog? Do people blog anymore?) is never far from my mind. Every year I renew the domain with optimism, and then it doesn’t happen. I think of things to write, and I don’t. I get “followers” on Facebook and get embarrassed because it’s been almost 3 years since I’ve done anything. So…  I’m picking it back up again.  My life is pretty different from the last time I logged on, and I’m not even going to go into any of that. It’s a lot. I’m not going to beat myself up to catch up. Already I feel a weight lifted!

Anyway. I was looking at New Year’s traditions and superstitions, and this jumped out at me:

Work:   Make sure to do — and be successful at — something related to your work on the first day of the year, even if you don’t go near your place of employment that day. Limit your activity to a token amount, though, because to engage in a serious work project on that day is very unlucky. 

I’m not making any resolutions this year (I always fail — look at this blog), but I’d like to do some intentions. I’d like writing to be more related to “work” this year, and do what I can. And this is a nice, bite-sized place to start. The serious work projects will come later.

So here is a token! Happy 2019, all.

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