Tag Archive | holidays

All Lit Up and Ready to Go

If you have been following me for awhile, you know I LOVE outdoor Christmas lights. Since I was a little kid, I found wonder in lighting up the blackness of winter. There was one wealthy family on the north side of Racine who started my fascination with outdoor white lights.  These pictures really don’t do the original display justice, but at least you can see what I’m talking about. Baby boomers enjoyed angels flying in the trees and a beautiful Austrian crystal waterfall captured the imagination. Often our parents had to wait in a long line of traffic to get a quick drive-by look. But we waited with patience because few families could afford ANY outside lights. After Mr. Wheary died, his family gifted these lights to the city and now they are displayed at the Racine Zoo along with other colorful lights.waterfall lights peace on earth

Another family has picked up the mantel to present the community with Christmas lights. They live in a subdivision called Jamestown, and I gotta tell you, this display is something special. It is lit from five to ten o’clock and for five hours you can sit in the car and watch lights synchronized to music which you can access on a radio station. Incredible.

A few years back I started putting lights outside myself. The first year I put them on backwards and had to go purchase a LONG extension cord to get them to work. Live and learn, right? Since then every year my display has gotten a bit more sophistication because I add a few more lights. I have no aspirations to become Mr. Wheary or Mike and Debbie at Jamestown, but the flicker of my small display warms my heart in the same way.

I know a lot of people cringe when Christmas has become so commercialized. But let’s get real. There are actually two Christmas celebrations — one at church and a secular one where we shower gifts on people we love. Some say the true meaning of Christmas is lost because people become a little nuts in December, but I will always have an inclination to tell my friends and family I love them by giving them a gift that is relevant to them.

It’s not how much you spend on a gift; it really is a reflection of your love for that person by buying or making a gift with some thoughtfulness. During the years Ken and I fell into financial dire straights, we went to a park and picked up pine cones to make homemade fire-starters for our friends with fireplaces and napkin holders for those who didn’t.

So now that I’ve rambled on about the day at hand, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy holiday. Just remember the difference between the two.

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Let There Be Light

Over the weekend I took advantage of the warm weather (50’s) and got started on my outdoor lighting display for the upcoming holidays. The garland is draped around the wheelchair ramp, the wreath is up and I got my lovely Angle perched on her pedestal. If it doesn’t rain today, I will finish my project.

I’ve learned through the years such a project is a lot of work and even a little bit of engineering, but it’s one of my favorite things about the holidays. Ken and I always take a ride through the different parts of the city where other people have done the work to put up holiday lights.

The only problem with such a project is this: Will everything work when I plug it in? Most of the time something doesn’t light after I’ve exhausted all of my electrician genes–which is a BIG problem.

As a “recovering” Catholic, I began to wonder whether there is a patron saint of outdoor lighting. Don’t laugh. There is at least one patron saint to call upon for most life situations. When I can’t find something, I talk to St. Anthony. When my girlfriend wanted to sell her house, she buried St. Joseph upside down in her backyard. So, I give this practice of praying to these saints for help some credence.

I know. I know. This practice is superstitious. But with that in mind, this morning I “Googled” a list of patron saints on catholicfaith.org. The list included abandoned infants to youth, but there was no patron saint of outdoor lighting. I guess the list was put together before electricity was invented. But that can’t be true either, because there was a patron saint of Automobilists and Aviators — in fact, two saints were assigned to aviators.

I think my only option is to say a prayer to the patron saints of writers — St. Lucy and St. Francis de Sales. Perhaps they will look over me when I take the final step to plug in the lights and make the scene come alive.

 

It’s Unseasonably Warm

All the calendars tell me it’s November again. The only real evidence of that fact is we had to “fall back” with our clocks last Saturday. Instead  of getting cold, though, we’re having a week of 70 degree temperatures with bright sunshine and clear blue skies. I think Mother Nature is making up for her nasty behavior in the Spring.

But even the warm temperatures can’t deny winter is lurking behind the curtain. It’s dark at 4:30 in the afternoon and Christmas commercials are already appearing on television. Yuck. Another downside of the warm temps is not having the excuse to snuggle in the blankets in the early darkness. I tell everybody who will listen that I would have made a very good bear because I do hibernate.

So how do we get through the next four to six months? (Yes, six months — I live in a northern state where winter is never-ending.) I think the anticipation of the holidays of Thanksgiving and the craziness of Christmas and all it’s “traditions” pull us through this time of year.

So for all you other “sun signs” like me, keep a calendar handy and check off the days until April. It makes you think you’re making progress to more consistent nice, warm, weather. This stretch of present warm temperatures is a fluke.

Enjoying the Leftovers

The long Thanksgiving Holiday in America is over for another year, and I’ve got a refrigerator full of turkey leftovers I’m enjoying. You see, even though Ken and I were invited out for the annual feast, I cooked a turkey dinner anyhow because I LOVE the leftovers.

For days, we have casseroles with turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, and of course we also had sandwiches that rival the best deli. I used the carcass to make soup, and there’s always a little bit of meat I freeze to enjoy the meat after I think I can’t eat another fowl meal.

A lot of  families enjoy a visit from family members from afar, who have rushed home for a turkey dinner and now must rush back to their “real” lives. Some had a Norman Rockwell experience, while others put up with ornery family members who drove them nuts.

My family has taken a different path. We ignore each other. My brother who lives in California is exempt from this conversation, but for the rest of us who opted to stay “at home” for our adult lives, there is nothing in common to draw us together any more.

After my mother decided Thanksgiving dinner was to much for her, we started having the annual event with our spouses’ families. This year, Ken and I took yet another detour and spent the day with good friends. My daughter who lives in Seattle, has followed in my footsteps, building a strong network of friends, too. My other daughter enjoys the holiday with her father and his wife’s family.

So, we’ve all worked it out. It’s okay. And next year will probably be the same. And in another month Christmas will come and the same scenario will repeat. Only this time, I won’t be making a turkey. Ham is on the menu.