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Various comments and statuses on Facebook have gotten me thinking recently.  A lot.

What I wish I had the guts to type in the Comments boxes:

  • There is no such thing as a War on Christmas.  It doesn’t exist, at least here in the U.S.  Stop the fear-mongering.  PLEASE.
  • The fact that I am a liberal does not mean I automatically agree with everything Michael Moore says.  Stop lumping all liberals together.  Hell, stop lumping all conservatives together.  It makes no sense.  We.  Are.  Individuals.
  • I say, “Happy Holidays.”  I also say, “Merry Christmas” to people I know celebrate Christmas, “Happy Hanukkah” to people I know celebrate Hanukkah, “Happy Solstice” to practically everyone, and “Ahoy, Matey!” on Talk Like a Pirate Day.  Which part of this makes me a terrorist?
  • Oh, you might have meant that terrorist thing as a joke?  It’s not funny.
  • Your status is offensive and hurts my feelings.  I thought you were more open-minded than that.
  • Saying “Merry Christmas” is not ‘The American Way.’  Methinks you need to go to a local college and take a course in Constitutional Law.  Or a course on the history of world religion.  Or, come to think of it, both.

What I posted instead:

  • “It’s in every one of us to be wise.  Find your heart.  Open up both your eyes.”*

    You know, not being Christian does not make me un-American, anti-American, or a terrorist.  Happy Holidays, everyone!  Love and peace to all, all year ’round.

What I learned:

  • Holding love and peace in your heart can help melt some hurt away, but the support of friends melts it away almost completely.

*This quote is from one of my favorite Christmas Albums.  Oh. My. Gosh.  The videos of the original special are on YouTube!  They weren’t up the last time I looked!  I know what I’m showing the boys this weekend…

Wow.  I know the story of Alfie and the songs by heart, because they’re on the CD, but the bit in the middle with John and Kermit…it had been too many decades…Sniff…

randomtuesday

  • This week, Keely has geeky waffles on her Random Tuesday post.   Click the purple button to see them.
  • No matter how much I play Tetris over the years, it still brings back memories of college and my roommate Heather’s computer.  (Neither my sister Heather, nor my friend Heather I’ve mentioned several times, nor even my friend Heather who blogs here.  I’m serious when I say we were overflowing with Heathers in the Georgia Tech Chorale in the early 90’s.)
  • Have you realized it’s only 18 days ’til Christmas?
  • Crap, it’s after midnight on the East Coast.  Make that 17 days.  Yikes.
  • Two awesome words: Pirate Snowmen.
  • Tonight, I roasted Brussels sprouts.  This will only seem like a remarkable event to you if you understand the state of the Brussels sprout in my parents’ household.  They are forbidden.  Both of my grandmothers apparently mangled and overcooked the darn wee cabbages so badly that my parents have lifelong Brussels sprout issues.  Jason has never been a fan, either, so it’s no surprise that, until tonight, I had never tasted one.  Roasted properly, they’re not too bad.  Nicolas proclaimed them, “fine,” and Kalen even loved them.  Jason’s still not a fan.  (Don’t tell him, but I’m going to have to make them once in a while.  I don’t like green beans and manage to eat them now and then.  So there.)  Here’s the recipe I used.
  • So what was it that induced this strange hankering to try the little green balls of death?  I lost three pounds this week (28 since September!), I was in a great mood, and I had a great conversation with my dietitian wherein I promised to try more veggies.  Plus, I stopped by Trader Joe’s, and they were sitting there, clean and fresh, in a one-pound bag, looking very cute.  I hate cabbages (sorry, I’ve tried them – yuck), but they’re more enticing in miniature.  Much like schnauzers.  Only in a tasty way, rather than a companionable one.  I think I’m rambling here.
  • My knee is apparently healing nicely.  For the first time in more than five weeks, it was nearly pain-free.  (A big part of that good mood mentioned above.)  It would have been entirely pain-free if I hadn’t turned my dang ankle and fallen on my knees today.  (Twice, even.  On the same stair.  Grace, they name is Aimee.)  Still, I have hope for the near future.
  • On a related note, I’ve been frustrated that my knee has kept me from the treadmill and bike at the gym for over a month now.  Obviously, I’m still losing weight, but my weekly average would be much better if I could get some cardio in there.  (I know, swim laps – they just don’t do it for me.)  On a whim yesterday, however, I sat down on one of the rowing machines and gave it a go…with nary a twinge in any joint, even after ten full minutes at it.  I’m so excited by this discovery, and my trainer is enthusiastic as well.  The doctor even suggested today that I consider looking into taking classes next spring at the local rowing club.  How much FUN would that be?
  • Since I’m in the midst of getting the holiday cards rolling, I’ll leave you with a sneak peak:

What, too sneaky?  Sorry, haven’t sent them out yet.  Wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise for some of you…

The leftover turkey is in the fridge.  Christmas season may now officially begin.

It may be the only hard and fast rule I have about the holidays in our home – no Christmas music* or Christmas movies until after Thanksgiving dinner, and White Christmas kicks it off.

This one’s for my Swis…

And last, but not least, Rosemary.  Sigh.  I’ve wanted this dress since I was a little girl.  (Not to mention the body and voice to go with it.)

*This rule does not extend to the garage or Jason’s car.  I do, after all, love my husband and would like to keep him around, and he breaks out the Christmas music a good month or two before I’m ready for it.

The kids are in bed after two days of rambunctious fun, yesterday with my family, today with Jason’s.

I have finished reading the latest installment of Dad’s naval memoirs.  (He writes another hundred or more pages each year and gives them to us for Christmas.  They are very eagerly awaited and quickly and thoroughly devoured.)

Jason is unwinding, finishing up a game on the PS2, and the Mythbusters marathon is on.

I am pondering how I will spend my B&N gift card, and wondering how long I can stretch my Starbucks gift cards.

Yep, it’s a typical Christmas night in our household, everyone stuffed to the gills with food and love, carols fading quickly into memory, gifts waiting patiently to find their permanent places of storage.  (And wrapping paper and accoutrements staring accusingly from the dining room table.  I’ll put you away tomorrow, I promise.)  I hope your evening is as cozy and satisfying.

As promised, photos of the last two presents finished just under the wire Tuesday night:

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For my sister.  This picture is from a desk calendar she had in junior high school.  It was published by the Costume Designers Guild of America and featured several drawings like this.  I found the calendar this summer when I was helping Mom clean out their basement and grabbed it with a vague idea of something like this for Christmas.  The frame has been in my office closet for several years.  I bought it because I loved it, but I never found the “just right” photograph for it.  I’m pretty sure it’s because I would need it for this drawing.  (I also wrapped up the calendar and gave it to her, and she got a kick out of reading about her eighth-grade social life.)

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For Mom.  Another Easy Peasy Crochet Bag, this time with a square base, and sized to be a knitting project bag for her.  It ended up being precisely the size she needed.  (Success!)

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I lined it with one of Mom’s old shirts.  She brought several to me last month when I mentioned my all-handmade holidays, knowing that I could use the fabric.  She was amused to receive it back.  I’m proud of myself for remembering to sew in a pocket to hold needles and such.

And that’s it.  I think I’ve shared all of the gifts, save Jason’s hat and scarf, and it’s really much too warm to force him to model them at the moment.  All in good time.  Not to worry, though.  There will be no dearth of projects to share.  One of the boxes under Mom’s tree with my name on it was filled with the most scrumptious of yarns, and I’ve been frogging sweaters…there’s plenty left to be made in ’09.

Busy, that is.

Monday, we finally managed to get the tree up.  Yes!  Christmas spirit has come at last, despite highs of 72 degrees a couple of times this week.  Umm…it’s December, and this is not Florida, California, or Australia.  I don’t expect snow, but usually one at least has to wear a coat in December in Atlanta.  Solstice is on Sunday, and I’m happy to report an expected high of 59 for Solstice Tree Trimming.  Much better!

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The house is getting closer and closer to being ready to list.  The carpet steamers came today, and Mom and Dad came over to help with more organizing and staging. I cannot thank them enough.

School is out, and the winter parties are over.  My only job for Kalen’s yesterday was to show up with a bag of Doritos, but as room parent for Nicky’s class, there was more organization involved in today’s party.  The kids, parents, and teacher were all thrilled, though, so I’m happy.  I think everyone’s favorite part was the Holiday Mad Libs.  I created mad libs out of Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph, the Red-Nosed-Reindeer, and they were a hit.  My greatest act of courage came after we’d filled in all the blanks.  Yes, I sang the songs, and while I can hold my own in a choral situation, let’s just say I’m not a soloist.  Keeping to one key is not my strong suit.  It was a blast, though, and the kids enjoyed making reindeer cookies (maraschino cherry noses, pretzel antlers), snowflakes (a la maya*made – just the snowflakes, no sewing machines involved), and cards for their families.

I had asked parents to send in gift cards for the teacher, if they wished, with the intent of doing some sort of creative presentation.  Yeah.  I’d forgotten the whole get-the-house-ready-for-market-while-making-all-your-Christmas-gifts-and-oh-yeah-your-back-is-going-to-go-out-in-the-most-painful-way-possible shebang.  At 3:30 this morning (thank you, steroid injection), I had a brainstorm, and thanks to Mom’s help (four hands are faster than two) at the more reasonable hour of 11:30 am, I was able to give this to Nicky’s fabulous teacher at the party:

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Many thanks to Laughing Purple Goldfish for the inspiration.  The fabric came from a crazy quilt kit I’d bought some time in the 90’s for a Christmas stocking that never came to be.  It was perfect for this project, and the teacher can display it in her classroom or home once she uses the cards (and she assured me she would – she either adores it, or she’s a great actor!).  I am going to have to make one for myself next Christmas.

I’m still plugging away at the Christmas gifties.  FIL’s was finished just a few minutes ago.  The embroidered hankies just need to be ironed, and I can wrap them up.  I have so much left to make, however, that I’m going to be working on them pretty much nonstop up through Christmas Eve.  The satisfaction the handiwork gives me is worth the pressuring deadlines, and I have a few socialities scheduled for the weekend for breaks.  Tonight: Cards and pizza.  Bring it on!

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(Note: I can’t bring myself to blog about the election just now.  Maybe later today.  Maybe tomorrow.)

Recent events have forced us to eliminate most of our holiday budget…but I’m actually kind of excited about it.  I had been planning to make a lot of gifts this year, and now I get the added challenge of making them using only the materials I already have.  Wow, talk about a stash-busting opportunity.

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I have one of my mother’s gifts made already.  My MIL’s birthday (tomorrow) gift is almost finished.  I have already purchased Dh’s birthday gift.  As for the holidays…I have many out-grown and otherwise unwearable garments in my “fabric” stash.  I have yarn reclaimed from five sweaters, and two more sweaters to frog for yarn, along with access to hundreds of free patterns on Ravelry and several pattern books already in my stash.  I have a sewing machine and a hell of a lot of imagination, and a teensy bit of talent to back it up.

The one hiccup in this is going to be my Secret Sister.  If I start giving her handmade gifts, I will out myself immediately.  (I’m the only consistently crafty person in the group.)  I mulled it over today, however, and given the choices – non-secret gifting, or full-secret non-gifting – I decided to let myself be outed.  It’s ever so much more fun to make things you know the receiver will love than to buy trinkets and doo-dads, anyway.

My boys

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