Sunday, December 23, 2012

On Traditions and Evil Panic Monsters

 Merry Christmas from the Clem Castle to yours...
The first decorations that go up every year.  Some pieces I bought and some were inherited from Dan's mom.
 Sharing with you some of my Christmas decorating and a wish for a very Merry Christmas.  I have a ton of things to do on this eve of Christmas Eve...but when the inspiration hits you have to go with it!

This is probably my favorite spot.  It's always too hot to burn a fire here in AZ, but I wouldn't give up my fireplace for anything!
Building on last year, I am trying my best to have a blissful, non-panic filled, zen Christmas.  I have evil panic monsters in my brain.  When they come out it's no fun for anyone...I try my best to keep them at bay.  It helped that I was off from work this whole week in order to prepare. And I decided to do no baking this year.  Something had to give and that was it.  No one in our house needs the extra sugar so it was the easy thing to cut.  It's hard for me to give up these things I consider tradition, but quite honestly, I don't think anyone has missed it.  If they have they are being nice and not saying anything about it. 

My two smaller trees and my mom's hutch.  I love everything about this!


 Santa and Snowmen tree on the left, Teddy Bear tree on the right.  This grew out of my love for teddy bears and wanting to have a tree dedicated to just that.  Then, over the years it just sort of morphed into this.

There are some traditions that are not negotiable.  Such as decorating.  I have thought many times that I would just put up the big tree and the nativity and do nothing else.  That's pretty much how my mom decorated.  But, even though I do go a little over board, it makes me happy to turn on the lights and enjoy all the beautiful things I have collected or inherited over the years. My favorite tradition is our annual Christmas Eve dinner and a movie followed by Christmas Eve Mass.  This is a tradition we started with our kids about 12 years ago and I am happy to say that even now that they are all adults, they still want to do it every year.  We all pick out a movie, go to the theater in the early evening and after the movie we walk across the street to Chili's and have dinner.  After dinner we go home, change clothes and head off to Christmas Eve Mass.  It's been a wonderful tradition for us.  A kind of way to wind down after all the hubbub of preparing for the holiday and a time to get rested up for Christmas Day...when we host close to 30 people every year for dinner.  I love traditions, and these are my favorites.

The big tree and my hutch in the foyer.  The stockings hanging on the hutch are Dan's and my first stockings.  The are two of my favorite things.

I have been making sure that I remember my blessings this year also.  I am so very blessed by everything I have in my life.  My faith, a wonderful family, a job, a roof over my head, food to's a long list.  I really believe this has helped me to put the focus where it needs to be this year.  Whenever the evil panic monsters start invading my brain, I just start thanking God for all the blessings He has rained down on me.  My heart feels instantly lighter and the fact that I have not wrapped a single present yet, doesn't seem so important.

My wish for you this Christmas is a day filled with faith, family, friends, traditions and no panic monsters.  I hope you all have a very Blessed Christmas, and remember.....

Jesus is the reason for the season! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Randomness

Happy Friday!!  Just a disclaimer:  This is a very random post (and long).  Kudos to you if you are able to follow along without feeling schizophrenic.  I felt somewhat schizophrenic just writing it :)

Been a while since my last post.  I go through this on a pretty regular basis.  I get in the writing mood and then it escapes me for a while.  When I was young I thought I was going to be the next great American novelist. Then when I got a little older and really found my passion for history, I thought I would be the next great American historian.  But then I realized that I'd much prefer someone else do the historical research and I'll just read their books.  Thank you,  David McCullough.  I discovered that what I really love is to read more than write.

Someone said to me once, "You know you're a writer when you wake up in the morning and that's all you can think about all day.  All you want to do is write."  I think that's when I realized that, while I love to write, I don't want to be an author.  Writing is a way for me to purge all the thoughts that swirl constantly in my over active brain.  I'm a big fan of getting things on paper (or a computer screen) where you can see them and they are tangible, not just swirly thoughts in your mind.  I'm a true believer of pro/con lists...I've written many of those in my life.  So, while I wish that I could be the next great American blogger, I know that's never going to happen.  I love to crochet too much.

One exciting thing happened since my last post.  My youngest daughter got engaged!   It's a weird feeling.  I'm very happy for her and I love her fiance...he's so good to her and that makes me happy.  But at the same time, I can't get over the fact that she's old enough to be married.  She seems so young to me still.  And then I remember that at her age, I had already been married for three years.  Just weird.  The other weird thing is...I'm going to be a mother-in-law!  That has so many negative connotations in our society and I am determined not to be the stereotypical mother-in-law.  I have good examples to follow.  My own mother-in-law was so wonderful to me.  She treated me like her own daughter.  And I will always believe that my mother loved my husband more than she loved me.  She thought he hung the moon.  Both of our mothers were perfect examples of what a good mother-in-law should be.  Supportive, caring, compassionate and never a buttinski.  They are both gone from us now, and I miss them both dearly.  I'm going to try my best to follow their example.  So, just when I was getting kind of comfortable with my role as mom to adult children...another new role and another chance to redefine myself.  Change is good.  Change is good...

Christmas is around the corner.  I've mailed my cards but my house is still not decorated.  Hopefully I will accomplish that this weekend.  Last Christmas I wrote this...all about my attempt to downsize Christmas.  I have to tell you, I was successful.  And guess what?  The world didn't end.  Everyday I'm getting more and more used to this paring down thing.  If you've been around here for a while you've read about my addiction to Hallmark ornaments.  Or, Hallmarkitis as I like to call it.  This year I went to the ornament premier which is in July ( I know! It's a sickness!).  And, I haven't been back since.  If you don't know anything about Hallmark ornaments, starting in July, they have several weekends where they premier new ornaments. I went in July and fulfilled my commitment to all the series that I have started and that was it.'s been OK.  Every once in a while I think about it and wonder what cute little Santa or snowman I might be missing...and then I pick up my crochet hook and everything is forgotten.  Now you understand why I've been crocheting so much this fall!!

Speaking of crocheting (I always do, don't I?).  I've started another new project.  At first I wasn't a fan of the colors but I knew they were perfect for the recipient.  Funny, they've really started to grow on me as I've been working with them.  Take a look...

This is in the beginning stages.  I'm about half way done now and I have to say it is turning out beautifully.  I'll post another picture when I've finished. 

I'm sure you all remember this project.  I complained about it enough.  I was very proud to give this as a gift and I know that the new mom loves it so that makes me happy.  The baby for whom this was made was born yesterday and he is gorgeous.  Plus, we are getting cooler weather this weekend...just in time to be wrapped in a cozy afghan and matching cocoon. 

I guess that's enough randomness for a Friday.  I told you it was going to be schizophrenic.  Thanks for sticking it out to the end.  I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!