Getting Ready for Christmas

I love Christmas ~ it’s my favourite time of year! Christmas is almost here now and I think I’m just about ‘ready’.

We cut the Christmas tree on the weekend and decorated it – it’s the most beautiful tree yet! I say that every year, hehehe. My son Darin and his family (Amanda, Kalia, and Livi), son Taylor, son Melvin and his girlfriend Cass, daughter Nellie, daughter Kristi and family (Mike, Jasmine, Josh, and Benji), and I drove out to our favourite Christmas tree farm (support local farmers!) to cut our trees. The weather was unexpectedly mild, about +2C, after a day of freezing rain ……. which meant that the farm ‘roads’ through the fields were sheer muck! I almost got stuck going uphill a few times but my trusty 27 year old Honda Civic just fish-tailed her way through the mud until I drove along the side on the grass. The extra weight in the back a.k.a. Melvin, Cass, and Taylor helped. We found a really nice perfect tree within 10 minutes! After we loaded the trees onto our vehicles, we went back to Darin and Amanda’s for hot chocolate/tea and chili. Of course a family gathering wouldn’t be complete without some Board games – this time it was Codenames and Catan, of course! The next day, Taylor, Nellie and I decorated our tree in the living room. We bought a fake tree after Christmas last year for downstairs – it’s pretty nice…… for a fake tree.

cuttingTree

Family Christmas Tree Cutting

Last week, Nellie and I went shopping for all the baking supplies and stocking stuffers. This year, I’ll have four children home for Christmas morning: Nellie, Taylor, Melvin, and Marty. You’d think they would be too big for stockings now that they are in there 20s and 30s, but, oh no, they still need to wake up Christmas morning to find that Santa had remembered to leave their stockings full of goodies! Tradition.

decorating

Decorating our Christmas tree

I still haven’t baked all my Christmas goodies yet because it’s too early. I bought a second-hand little freezer last week for the extra stuff but we’ve already filled it with meat, bread, butter, etc and there’s no room now for tins of baked goods! I’ll need something to do on Sunday anyway…..

Marty is coming home for Christmas this year!! He arrives tomorrow and we couldn’t be more excited! We’ve been busy setting up the downstairs for a better video gaming spot. We also managed to clean off the Red Maple table for Board games or Melvin’s desk top he’s planning on bringing. Taylor bought Nellie a PS4 for Christmas and thought he’d better give it to her early so they could ‘try it out’. Nellie plans to paint the entire room downstairs next spring to freshen it up a bit. We were planning to get a larger TV for there next spring but I made my very first (and probably last) Black Friday purchase of a new 50″ TV when I saw this incredible price. Of course I couldn’t hide such a huge box until Christmas, so I just told them ‘Merry Christmas’ when I asked for help picking up the box at the store. Now I anticipate I’ll have a nice quiet space to myself in the livingroom while everyone else is downstairs playing video games!

3GenerationsTree

Three generations searching for the perfect trees

 
We started watching all the Christmas movies weeks ago and we’re almost through most of them. When Kristi was down last, we watched the movies I taped off TV from the 1980s (commercials and all – the best part!) – “Disney Christmas” with Hughy, Louie, and Douie, “Chip and Dale”, Goofy and Micky and the best one – “Muppet Family Christmas”, my favourite! I put them from VHS onto DVD and my external hard drive a few years ago (all by myself, I might add). Nellie and I have also been watching the Hallmark movies on W network too. But I’ll save the best for last and watch “Christmas Comes To Willow Creek” on Christmas Eve, a tradition I’ve upheld – Chris and I used to watch it after the kids went to bed and I feel that he is still here with me in spirit

The presents are all wrapped and under the trees! The red poinsettia is on the dining room table. The special Christmas toys are out for the kids to play with. My Christmas village is set up in my bedroom on my fireplace mantle – away for the cats who think it’s a great bed!

Village

Christmas Village

Tomorrow is also Melvin’s 24th birthday! My baby!! We’re all gathering here for supper tomorrow to celebrate Melvin’s birthday and Marty’s arrival. That will be dinner for 14, a pretty normal family supper around here! Have a Happy Birthday Melvin!

 

TreeDecorated

 

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Cutting Our Christmas Tree

I want to share some pictures with you of our adventure to our favourite Christmas tree farm to cut our Christmas tree.

Livi, Sarah, Melvin, Nellie, baby Josh, Skylar, & Krisit

Some of my children and grandchildren:  Livi, Sarah, Melvin, Nellie, baby Josh, Skylar, & Kristi

 

This year, we were looking for a small tree under 5 feet.  I decided after last year that I didn’t want to move any large furniture to accommodate the tree in the corner.   After wandering around the field for a while, we found the perfect tree and Melvin skillfully cut it down.

Timber!

Timber!

 

Darin and Amanda and the girls were off in another direction looking for their perfect Christmas tree.

Aunt Nellie carried baby Josh around in his baby carrier – even Josh enjoyed himself!

Baby Josh and Aunt Nellie

Baby Josh and Aunt Nellie

 

While we were tying down our trees to the top of our cars, the kids enjoyed horsing around in the snow.

Skylar, Kalia, and Livi

Grandkids Skylar, Kalia, and Livi

 

Then we were off to Darin and Amanda’s house for hot chocolate, chili, and board games (of course!).

Loading up the tree

Loading up the tree

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Great Gifts

 

I love Christmastime!  I want to share with you some of the great gifts we’ve shared. Around here, many gifts have been long-lasting and fun, and hopefully a learning opportunity. Many of these gifts are inexpensive and affordable for anyone. Here are a few of my favourites:

Board games have always been a favourite, notably Scrabble, where everyone has spelled the most creative word at one time or another and where ‘house rules’ apply.

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Puzzles of all sizes have been hits around here for decades. We have large-size 48 piece childrens’ puzzles, 300 piece 2X3 ‘floor’ puzzles, as well as 500-1000 piece puzzles which take days to complete. I’m very glad that I saved these puzzles over the years because now my grandchildren enjoy making puzzles with me.

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My children have always loved to receive sketch pads, doodle pads, construction paper, markers, sketching pencils, and the like. They’ve never been big fans of ‘colouring books’ because they seem too restrictive to stay in the lines……. and heaven knows my kids don’t enjoy ‘staying in the lines of life’.

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At various times, most of my children have received binoculars. I usually have given them smaller, children’s binoculars – the first pair of binoculars I gave my babies were from Fisher-Price and I still have them around here somewhere. As they grew older, I gave them inexpensive ones from the Dollarama – they could always use the good binoculars which have sat on the kitchen counter by the back window, at the ready.

binoculars

A magnifying glass has been a popular gift around here. It’s always fun to look at something up close. Eventually most of my kids graduated to using the microscope. One year, my son Marty received two microscopes for Christmas to add to our collection. At that time he had jars of dead things (shells, crabs, etc. – thanks Fred) in his ‘lab’ which was my desk in the corner of the basement.

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We love to play cards around here. Whenever there’s a bunch of us together, we play Euchre or hearts or A-hole/President/or whatever name it happens to have at that time, or cribbage. For many years, every Friday night Chris and I played Euchre with our neighbours. When I was growing up, my mother wouldn’t allow us to play cards on Sunday…..

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When my children grow up, I love to give them a copy of my recipe book, Mom’s Recipes, so they will be able to make all the foods that they grew up with. Maybe some day, they’ll pass down these recipes to their children.

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Some years, when I’ve been more ambitious or had the time, I’ve painted pictures for my children. A dozen years ago, my son Taylor was living in Vancouver, far from home at Christmas. I wanted to give him something that would remind him every day of his home so I painted him a picture of our house in the wintertime. It was one of my first paintings of the new millenium. I think I’ve just reminded myself that I’d better start painting again.

Home - Taylor

My daughter Nellie is a crochet artist and has created many unique, hand-crafted toys as well as scarves, hats, mitts, etc. This year, I commissioned her to create some well-loved toys through her online shop, The Black Lory (here). I’m very pleased that I will be giving one-of-a-kind gifts to some of my favourite people.

Mermaid

Mermaid

And of course, there’s always my Christmastime baking – coconut macaroons, hello dollies, chocolate chow mien clusters, cherry cheesecake, etc

Cherry Cheesecake

Cherry Cheesecake

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve

Kalia playing guitar with the grown-ups

Kalia playing guitar with the grown-ups

Last night was New Year’s Eve and rather than my usual festive 10 o’clock bedtime, I went to my son Darin and Amanda’s house for a party with my grown kids, Robin and Nici, Marty and Jeanette, Nellie, and Melvin (after he was finished work at 10 p.m.), and grandchildren Kalia and Livi.  I wasn’t sure that I should go and ‘crash’ their party:  you know, “Mom” there……..  But they insisted, especially my granddaughters Kalia and Livi.    Besides, they all didn’t fit in one car and I’m always the designated driver…..

Livi taking orders

Livi taking orders

We were abit late in getting going so Kalia called us at 5:30 p.m. and wondered when we’d arrive, so we got our act together and packed the board games and snacks (Jeanette made delicious homemade salsa) and left right away.   When we arrived, Darin had the chicken wings, popcorn chicken, hummus, and pita all ready to eat.    We were greeted at the door by Kalia and Livi, who were the most charming hostesses.  They offered to get us beverages and snacks all night long.  Then, shortly into the evening, they decided to start “room service” like their Auntie Kristi did decades ago.  Oh, they’d still fetch anything alright……. for a small fee.  Once the girls finally agreed on an appropriate sum, they made a list on their chalkboard.  Kalia “got it” and even kept a tab for anyone who wanted.  But 7 year old Livi was so excited to receive money AND give change, she often gave a nickel back for a penny earned!  It all worked out by the end of the night as they were given ‘New Years’ tips !

Room Service List

Room Service List

Then all the guitars and Kalia’s ukulele were brought out and an impromptu ‘jam’ began.  Everyone got to suggest a favourite so songs like “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and “Moonshadow” were played and sung.

Jammin'

Jammin’

Kalia played a song or two on her guitar to grateful thunderous applause!  Then it was Livi’s turn to sing.  After a little coaxing for a half an hour, she began singing for us, for what seemed like hours!  And she was pretty darn good too!  At times she asked for ukulele/guitar accompaniment.  Most of her songs were made up on the spot:  I especially liked her 4 minute song about things she likes to drink from –  oranges, lemons, the sea, bananas, palm trees, the clouds, etc.

Singing

Singing

Darin made more snacks and we broke out the salsa and tostitos.  There was a lively discussion around the snacks table as well as a board game of Carcassonne on the coffee table.

When it was 11:58 p.m., Kalia and Livi ran to the kitchen to get pots and wooden spoons to bang outside the back door at the stroke of midnight while yelling “Happy New Year!!” for anyone awake (or asleep) to hear!

Banging Pots and yelling Happy New Year!

Banging Pots and yelling Happy New Year!

Not long after, I left with Nellie and Jeanette to head for home.  Snow and wind induced snow squalls had whipped up, drifting snow across the main road.  Fortunately, our drive home was less than 10 minutes!

We had a great New Years’ Eve at Darin and Amanda’s house this year with plenty of live entertainment.

Happy New Year!  The best of health and happiness to every one of you.

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