A Christmas story

Ah, the holidays … when everybody gathers at Grandma’s house to fight over who sleeps on the good mattress to share good times & festive traditions.

In our home, that means watching “Die Hard” (Alan Rickman, we always will miss your brilliance), downing tequila shots & YET ONCE AGAIN analyzing the emotional trauma scan_20161222inflicted on my now-30-something-year-old daughters random anonymous children forced to sit on Santa Claus’ lap. And smile.

It also means telling incredibly embarrassing stories about each other. Because, I mean, we’re all there, sitting around in relatively relaxed moods, so why not? Therefore, in the spirit of holiday generosity, I’m sharing with you all a little story we like to call “The Day of George Foreman,” or, as John Lewis Pitts some family members refer to it, “The Day Cathy Descended into Criminal Madness.”

Actually, this story does have an interactive element. Each time it’s told, listeners invariably ponder their own actions in the same situation. This leads to insightful discussion on such topics as 1) are sidewalks REALLY public property?; 2) what is the proper cooking time for a grilled cheese sandwich?; and 3) who, in fact, is George Foreman?

So, here’s the story. Decide for yourself.

A few Christmas afternoons ago, Younger Daughter — whom I for no reason whatsoever
will henceforth call, say, “Carolyn,” — and I decided to take a walk. As is usual for a Southern December, it was a mild day, perfect for strolling & chatting. As we neared the end of our route, with our house in sight, we noticed a young woman going in & out of what we assumed was her apartment. Carrying boxes & armloads of household items, she set them down on the sidewalk, near the curb & what we assumed was her car, and went back inside for more. Based on years of watching detective shows on TV on our sharply honed investigative skills, we figured she probably was moving out. We’re smart like that.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky. One of us — we can’t remember wh0 but it was NOT me — suggested casually meandering over since obviously the woman was putting things out on the curb(-ish) in the time-honored manner of offering unwanted items to anyone willing to cart them off. So, let’s review: woman brings boxes & other stuff out of an apartment & leaves(-ish) them unattended(-ish) on the curb(-ish). Clearly it’s a take-my-things-please situation, right?

Because, when we crossed the street & got closer, we saw two — count ’em, TWO — George Foreman grills. Waiting. Longing for a proper home. Wanting to be loved & appreciated instead of heartlessly discarded. (-ish).15124782-new1

Admittedly I never before that moment had ever thought about owning a George Foreman grill. Older Daughter loves hers for cooking the kids’ chicken nuggets, but since our kitchen counter space is taken up with the toaster, coffee grinder and five coffee makers other kitchen essentials, I’d never considered adding one.

That’s why I was as surprised as anyone to discover, a few seconds later, that somehow I had grabbed BOTH of the George Foreman grills from the curb(-ish) & was high-tailing it  back home as Younger Daughter urged us on to a quick exit of the crime scene home.

So, what would you have done? I don’t think I actually stole the George Foreman grills, since they were just sitting there. And clearly the woman was moving out. At least, I didn’t see her car there anymore despite hours spent nervously staking out her apartment whenever I’d casually glance in that direction. So there’s that. But why did I act fast & leave even faster? Obviously I had some doubt about the woman’s intentions. Or was I concerned about my reputation as a fine upstanding citizen? I’d curb-shopped before when we lived in Muscle Shoals, Alabama (see metal filing cabinet & Pier 1 Papasan Chair, although I did ditch the cushion), but maybe the rules were different here in our little Mississippi town? Don’t know.

After I cleaned the grills (“You mean, there are still pieces of food inside?” Older Daughter said in silent condemnation.), I searched online for how to use them since, you know, the previous owner had not thought to include the instructions. One grill is a single & one is a double & I love them & use them frequently, especially when making toasted cheese sandwiches for holiday company. And I feel only a little bit guilty.

So please enjoy your family gatherings this season as you share stories of possible criminal activity. And Alan Rickman.

cwcslant

(Obviously not my actual handwriting since you can, you know, read it.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Family Easter

Older Daughter’s in-laws always so graciously invite husband JP and me toSpring desserts be part of their holidays. And, really, they make us feel part of the family. So we get all the love and support and good times of a big & boisterous family gathering (slightly dampened this year by the background strains of SEC‘s last Final Four hope, Florida, losing to lower-ranked Michigan). Plus, our family membership easter treemeans we get to enjoy, for example, delectable goodies such as melt-in-your-mouth fresh coconut layer cake, which I never would even consider trying to make myself because I am lazy like that don’t have enough cake pans. And I love being with folks who put up an Easter tree. So we ate and talked and hid & found eggs and learned the card game Three Thirteen, which I played much like Florida did. Luckily another piece of coconut cake made even defeat taste better.

If There’s Chocolate, It Must Be Easter

Hoppy Easter! Hope your day is filled with chocolate and eggs and family and fun. I’m just happy that my two daughters are grownup and in their 20s now and I didn’t have to spend Easter Eve hemming little smocked dresses and desperately trying to concoct matching  hair bows. Not that I ever was so unorganized and frazzled that I waited until the last minute to finish Easter dresses. No! Not me!!! Oh, OK. Definitely me. The best thing about Easter, of course, is being with family and friends. (The availability of unlimited chocolate goes without saying.) My family gathered this past weekend to celebrate the joint birthdays of our oldest — my dad, turning 77 — and our youngest — my nephew, turning 1. Photo ops! But with young ‘uns, you never know what you’re going to get. Three-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable is good for about two shots of holding still and saying “cheese,” but then he’s done with you and on to more important things. So I just click away, sort through everything later and hope for the best. Such as this shot of the Captain and his cousin, the Birthday Boy. (We think they’re cousins, at least — the Captain’s mom is the Birthday Boy’s daddy’s niece. Is that right?) It took me a couple of times before I realized that both boys are intently studying the backs of their books. Must be a family trait. And I love the shot with most of my favorite girls in it — daughters and sisters-in-law — and my two absolute favorite little guys. Even though it wasn’t Easter, it was wonderful family time. There even was plenty of chocolate. But, thankfully, no hemming of dresses.

12 Days of Christmas Countdown

 christmas-and-new-years-2006-07-018In honor of the one holiday song I cannot get out of my head,  let’s celebrate 12 Days Before Christmas. For each of the 12 days leading up to Dec. 25, I’m going to post a link, a suggestion or something Christmasy that’s caught my attention and hopefully will interest you, too. To start with Day No. 12 (one day late, but who’s counting?) , here’s a link to a great story in Sunday’s Parade magazine about budget-friendly family Christmases —  http://www.parade.com/features/holiday-2008/holiday-traditions I especially like the suggestion to spread the love throughout the whole month instead of piling it all on Dec. 25. I mean, making one day perfect is a lot of pressure. Resist the urge and make every day a mini-celebration, focusing on “doing” rather than “buying.” That’s great advice all year ’round, too — and not just years in which we’re afraid to check our retirement accounts. (“Just don’t look,” my husband says. “Just don’t look.”) Come back for Christmas Countdown Day No. 11 — something mindlessly entertaining just for mom.

sinus-infection-0041
My sinus-infection fighting tools: Abundant Kleenex (never generic -- get the real thing), soothing hot tea, plenty of water, quick and easy comfort food and vitamin-C-loaded juice. The fact that this photo also includes bottles of rum and Bailey's is purely coincidental.

And the reason my 12 days of Christmas actually starts on day No. 11 is because I was down and out all weekend with a stupid, stupid sinus infection. Warning, warning! When your sniffles and sneezes and coughs turn into something that hurts — a lot — when you blink your eyes, it’s time to stop saying pitifully, “I just have a little cold” and start saying, with confidence, “I think I have the worst sinus infection ever. Ever.”  Of course, it was Saturday morning when I finally decided this, so it meant a trip to the doc-in-the-box since our regular doctor quite understandably closes on weekends. Thankfully, my college-senior daughter is home on Christmas break and she sweetly volunteered to go with me, citing all the times I’d done the same for her — a karmic parental pay-it-forward I was happy to take advantage of.  It’s  nice to have company in these situations. For instance,  she’s the one who noticed that the guy in the waiting room seated a couple seats down from me moved a couple more seats further away at one point — I know I looked bad, but was I really that bad? She said that when I got up once to call my husband, the guy leaned over, said “She’s really sick, isn’t she?” and then had moved down by the time I got back. (Hey! Sinus infections are not contagious, buddy! What happened to good old human compassion???) Anyway, when I finally got to see the doctor, he totally agreed with my self-diagnosis, although I was thrown by the series of questions he asked that started with “Do you drink?” I answered, “Yes, moderately.” He next asked, “Do you smoke?” And here I can answer definitely, “No.” His next question — “Dip?” — momentarily confused me. “Dip?” I asked myself frantically. “Dip? Like french onion dip? White cheese dip? Why is he asking me this?” Surely I didn’t say any of that out loud but maybe I did, because the doctor repeated patiently, “Dip. You know. Snuff. Tobacco. Do you dip?”  Uh, that would be a no. And then I wondered what about me made him think that maybe I did. I mean, again, I know I looked  bad, but still. Apparently I passed all the other sinus-infection tests so I got a shot and an indecipherable piece of paper that I only hoped said “Give this woman some of those wonderful miraculous antibiotics.” Luckily, it did. So with modern medicine and my daughter’s excellent nursing, I rejoined the world after losing only two and a-half three days (plus four Christmas parties, dang it), although the four pounds I’d lost from not eating all weekend nastily reappeared immediately after my husband and I had our weekly Sunday-night beer and nachos at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Worth it, though.