Hurray for the Fun is the Pudding Done

These 40+ year old sleds are completely origin...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a little girl, summer lasted an eternity. I thought school would never start again. Once school started, I looked for snow.

Before I went to bed, I knelt in front of Mom and her part-knitted mittens going round and round on four needles for the next kid who poked a thumb through last year’s.  Mom was a knitting maniac.

Way away in the spring I was gonna make my first communion, so I practiced the Act of Contrition kneeling down in front of Mom and her knitting. The Act of Contrition is the prayer I had to say after I confessed all my sins and had my soul scrubbed clean for Jesus. It’s a special pray to say you’re really sorry for all the bad things you did or might be planning to do, and you promise with all your heart to keep away from sinning and not to even think about it. Prayers say things fancy for God. I had to say, “Oh my God, I am heartily sorry, for having offended thee,” instead of just “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, God.”  I guessed God likes fancy words.

My friend Beth got to pray with her own words.  She was Methodist. If I could do that, I’d pray for snow, that’s for sure. Anyways, I had to say fancy words like “I detest all my sins, because of Thy just punishment.” Being Catholic sure was good for the vocabulary.  Mom said God knows what everybody needs.  No sense in bothering him, if he already knows everything.  He’s different from Santa, who only knows Continue reading

Christmas Lights

People decorated with outdoor lights, even way back when I was a little girl.  Big bulbs with green and red and orange and white and yellow.  Nothing blinked or looked like snowflakes or icicles or sang Christmas songs, or floated like giant snow globes.  Still, I loved it.

Christmas lights4Sometimes the colors lit up the snow and made my eyes hurt the way sucking a lemon made my jaws ache, but at the same time I loved the taste and the way my mouth felt after sucking on a lemon.  I had to close my eyes and open them slowly for another peek at the lights before the pain hit me again, back there behind my eyes.  That’s the same way stained glass windows hurt my eyes.  All that bright color against a black night burned my brain.  As much as I loved the bright lights, my favorite was candle light the farmhouse had one single candle in each window of the house was my very favorite.  I wanted to live in a house like that.  For sure, that house was warm and cozy and full of happiness.Christmas lights2

We never had Christmas lights outside, just inside on the tree.  Our house was drafty and often cold.  Still, we had lots of happiness and plenty of chaos.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember the chaos because the blessings block out everything else.

I went for a Christmas light hunt with my daughter and her five children.  Singing and chatter, wrestling and arguing, pointing and shouting.  A flood of nostalgia washed over me.  That’s when I remember that love is patient and love is kind.  Plus, love has a special kind of memory.  Mostly, I’m reminded that loves lights me up in a way that sometimes hurts so much I have to shut my eyes before I open them for another peek at all the brilliance.

Christmas lights3

I am clean and fresh again and ready for more.

Buscia:  Body language of Love

Buscia: Body language of Love

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Stuck in the Mud Santa

This Christmas season, I am rushing around to get everything done.  What I couldn’t shop local or make, Amazon delivered.  The Prime membership is well worth the price, for Christmas assurance alone.  That said, my best-friend-down-under, Sharni at Sharnanigans and a late-in-the-season snowstorm brought back a Christmas that mortified Mom, and planted a wonderful memory for me.

For my loyal readers, yes, this is a repeat story.  But wait, isn’t that true of all the best Christmas stories?

Just like any little girl, I could hardly wait for Christmas.  I studied the Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Wards catalogs daily and made up my list for Santa.  The things I wanted could fill Santa’s sleigh up all by itself, so I knew only some of the gifts I asked for would arrive.   I marked a star by the most important ones:  A cowboy hat and a derringer just like Bat Masterson’s on Have Gun Will Travel.

I prayed for snow, ’cause how was Santa going to get to my house without snow?  The grey clouds only spilled down raindrops and the heavy frost in the morning would never do.  I knew, ’cause when I took my sled out on the frost, Mom yelled at me, “That’s going to dull the blades.  Take your sled back in the garage.”  I dragged my sled back over the grass and down the little sidewalk to the garage.

“Good Lord, that sets my teeth on edge,” Mom said covering up her ears.  How could a sound hurt her teeth? I thought, Guess that’s what happens when you get old.

I was probably selfish praying for snow, ’cause I just wanted Santa to come.  Anyways, it didn’t snow; it just got warmer, until not even frost was on the ground.  Mud was everywhere.

“When I was a little girl, Grandpa told me Santa came to houses alphabetically, and our house was last because our last name was Zyber,” Mom told me.  “That’s why some years there were just a couple of toys left in Santa’s bag.”

Holy Makerel!  At least my last name started with C.  There I was being selfish again.  All that selfishness might land me on the naughty list.

In bed at night, I heard Mom’s sewing machine whirring away like mad.  In the morning, everything was closed up tight, the sewing machine tucked down into the cabinet and not a thread in sight.  Hmm… that was super-strange.

Christmas Eve, Deanna, Bonita, and I got the biggest knee-high stocking we could find out of the odd-sock bag and hung them over a chair.  Santa came in the keyhole at our house, ’cause we didn’t have a fireplace and the chimney landed Santa in the furnace with no way out.  Mom wanted a fireplace like nobody’s business, ’cause she said our house was the draftiest thing she ever lived in and when she died she was gonna be cremated ’cause then, at last, she would be warm.

Just like always, I got down on my knees and said my prayers out loud so Mom could check me.   I was memorizing the Our Father ’cause I had to know that for First Confession along with all my sins;  Our Fathers got assigned for penance after Confession scrubbed my soul clean.  Catholics only said memorized prayers; we never made up prayers on our own, like they did over at my friend Betty’s house.

Up the stairs to bed, we went, ‘Slap the Bear’, just like always on the way up.  That’s where somebody yells “slap the bear, everybody included,” and starts slapping the hind-end of the person in front of her.  Only the first person in line had a slim chance of getting away, and of course, the last person who had nobody to slap at.  Mom probably invented that game to get us up the stairs faster than blue-blazes.

We brushed our teeth, and climbed into bed.  It was Bonita’s turn to sleep on the cot, so I cuddled up tight to Deanna to keep warm.  “Get your hair out of my face,” she said.  She hated my hair, so she drew a line down the middle of the bed with her hand, and told me to stay on my side.

“We forgot the cookies and milk,” Bonita sprung up like a jack-in-the-box, looked out the window, just in case Santa was out there on the lawn, like in that poem. Continue reading

Manger Stories

 Lucky for Mom, she has so many kids to get all the work done.  We had a regular chore rotation: Wash dishes, dry dishes, set and clear the table and sweep the floor, and do barn chores.  We could trade with each other; Deanna always traded out of doing barn chores.  She hated the barn.  Bonita and I would rather be outside anyways.

istockbarnEven in the freezing cold of winter.  Still and all, I felt sorry for Baby Jesus in the manger.  A mangers no place for a baby, that’s for darned sure.

For a long time, part of winter barn chores was cracking the ice Continue reading

Advent: Waiting and Hoping

iStock_000018275760MediumWhen I was a little girl, Advent was a solemn time.  A time to anticipate and remember.  A time of contemplation and of prayer.  What better time to turn inward and learn the value of delayed gratification, than the dark days of winter?  Advent was like another Lent, except the ending was the birth of a baby in a manger, not the pain and suffering of death.  Christmas and Advent was a time of hope and longing and waiting.  And Santa Claus. Continue reading