Tuesday, December 18, 2018

December 18: Pretty Packages



I’ve been storing Christmas presents in JT’s room - on his bed, actually - and he comes home on Thursday so my wrapping operation shifted into high gear this past weekend.


I have a package tag collection that brings me as much happiness as the paper and the ribbons.


I like it all to match, of course.  


That’s happy!



Monday, December 17, 2018

Cookie Day 2018


It’s a Sassafras holiday tradition for me to bake cookies for my students.  The cookies are a treat to thank them for the ways they make my work days happy and one of the nicest traditions of my holiday season.

I’m always bemused by the degree to which the students are charmed by homemade cookies, which seem like your standard mama achievement to me but are greeted as a special treat by my students.  This year, my 7th graders enjoyed iced cut-out sugar cookies, chocolate crinkles, Tollhouse bars, molasses spice cookies, and old-fashioned sugar cookies.


That’s happy!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Winter’s Chill



We turned back our clocks more than a month ago and with that transition, cold weather came to stay in my corner of New Jersey.  Usually, we get a temperate November, with cool nights and mornings but days in the 50s and sometimes the 60s.  This year, I had to search out the mittens and scarves rather early. 

December’s arrival brought more cold and days quickly growing shorter as we seem to be racing toward the Winter Solstice.  I have an app on my iPad that tells me the sunrise and sunset times; we’re heading toward the point in the season when I obsessively refresh it to see just when I can expect daylight after 5 pm.

I have candles and fairy lights all over the house.  I turn them on as soon as I get home and they bring light to the chilly evenings.  I tuck under warm blankets on the sofa with a cat on my lap and a book in my hand.  Soon enough, garden catalogs will fill my mailbox to keep me company in the evenings.  Until then, I’m grateful for the blessings of sunshine on cold days.  When the light arrives, I look up at the branches of Old Man Tree, glad for the blue sky in this the restful season.


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Throwback: Year 17


By this time next week, JT will be home from college for his first Winter Break.  The floor will creak with his steps above and the laundry basket will rapidly fill up.  It will be nice to hear his voice and laughter in the house.  I plan to be well-stocked with cookies and taco suppers.  I started these Thursday posts about JT growing up because I thought they would help me to adjust to my new life as the mama of a college boy.  They’ve turned out to be a happy set of memories and that’s been sweet.

2017, the year JT turned 17, was a lesson in letting go.  It was also a year of running everywhere to watch JT run.  The New Year started with an early morning 5k race.  


In August, he joined some friends and his RPS coach for a mud run.


He spent a lot of time with the lovely A and their laughter filled our home.


2017 was filled with the planning to send this boy off to college.  He drove himself to school on the first day of his Senior year; the first time in 14 years that I went to the first day of school without him.  A lot of the year was that way, an adjustment to his coming departure to college.


In the fall, we visited Springfield College for a second time and I knew then that he would go to school there.


 It was the year that demonstrated the power of running in his life.  He ran and ran and ran, often finishing in the top tier of racers and nearly always besting his time.  It was a pleasure to watch him find such joy in racing, a glimpse into his future as the young man who was once my little boy.



Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Christmas Tree


The tradition of a piney Christmas tree is one of the most lovely parts of the season.  I love the smell that envelops the house when the tree comes inside.  I chose this year's tree on Friday night and on Saturday morning we brought it inside.


T helped me to secure it in the stand and then she cut the mesh off so that the branches could unfurl.


Lights were added.


On Sunday evening, T put hooks on the ornaments and I hung them on the tree.  Each year, the ornaments bring on a flood of happy holiday memories.  When the happy task is complete, the tree is lovely.


Presents have been added and more will join them before Christmas morning. All of it is a sweet-smelling reminder of the many blessings we enjoy.  That’s happy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

December 11: Pretty Packages


The wrapping season has begun and now that the Christmas tree is up, I take time each evening to wrap a package or two. 


 These are the first two presents under the tree; more will follow.  That’s happy!



Monday, December 10, 2018

Small Celebrations


One of the things I most enjoy about December are the small traditions that feel like tiny celebrations of the season: the carved snowmen in the window sill.


A garland and lights on the stair railing.


Candlelight and wooden carved trees I’ve had since I lived in Los Angeles.


Pretty ribbons to tie around packages.


A holiday mug for my morning coffee.


A sprig of cranberry tucked in a plant.


The list is long and lovely.  The older I get, the more that these little traditions become the beating heart of my Christmas celebration.  Eventually, the Christmas tree will be decorated and presents piled underneath it.  There will be holiday meals and the laughter of loved ones.  These big celebrations will be happy.  But it it is in the little moments of December that I find the peaceful spirit of the season.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

December Front Porch



After the squirrel feeding frenzy that was the November front porch, December is a snack-free porch zone.  Instead, there is greenery, pinecones, and lights.


My town loves holiday lights and come December the homes are lit up in celebration.  Twilight arrives early in December and the lights are a cheerful welcome as I drive home in the fading light.  My porch has a string of Edison lights on a timer so that the twilight on the porch is less dark


My home welcomes me inside with the smell of evergreen.


So far, December has been cold.  There hasn’t been snow but were it to fall, it would certainly stick.  This weekend I will decorate the Christmas tree and put up the decorations in the house.  The porch is the advance guard in my celebration and that’s quite happy!



Friday, December 07, 2018

All Tacos, All the Time


It is no secret that mine is a taco household.


In November, my Etsy trolling turned up a wooden sign that is the most perfect thing for me ever.


T and JT gave it to me for my birthday and a few weeks back, T helped me to hang it up in the dining room.


The next time JT comes home, there will be chicken tacos because that’s what I do.  



Thursday, December 06, 2018

Throwback Year 16



The year that he turned 16 was the year that JT really discovered running.  They’d been acquainted for a some time, of course.  As a little boy he had asked me why anyone would walk when they could run.  But 16 year old JT took it to a whole new level.  In June, T, JT, and I made a trip to Missouri and watched some baseball.  



Much to our surprise, JT ran each day of that vacation.  We came home and he kept running.  By the time August arrived, he’d developed a daily habit.  Every morning he’d wake up and go outside to stretch and run.


He started the fall Cross Country season running in the middle of the JV team.  He ended it as the fastest runner on the team.


The hard work paid off in wrestling as well.  The season began with 6 am runs on the trails outside the gym at school and it featured some nice wins in matches.


I enjoyed cheering him on, of course.  But my enduring memory of the year was the realization that my boy had found a powerful thing for himself.  Living with a 16 year old always has challenges but many of them were eased by miles and miles of running, where JT found direction and contentment.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

December 4: Pretty Packages


I love to wrap presents and December offers plenty of opportunity for me to get out my paper and ribbons.  These packages are for T’s advent calendar.


Advent presents are mostly small treats; pretty packaging is part of what makes them especially lovely.


I enjoy all of the planning that goes into these gifts and wrapping them up for giving is the icing on the cake.


That’s happy!

Saturday, December 01, 2018

December 1: Garden Hostas


The hosta beds are all at rest this month.  When I look at them, it’s hard to believe that they were so vibrant just a few months ago.  


 They look tired and ready for a long rest; rather how I feel on Friday night at the end of a busy week..


Winter’s quiet is as good for these plants as it is for the rest of us.  I look at these garden beds and realize again that Mother Nature clearly knew her business when she planned the four seasons.



Friday, November 30, 2018

November Book Report: A Spool of Blue Thread



This book is like so many Anne Tyler novels, centered on a family with its own faults and quirks and set squarely in the Baltimore that Tyler so clearly loves.  It’s the story of the Whitshank family, who appear like any typical family on the surface and, like so many typical families, are anything but typical in the quirks and fault lines that reveal themselves as the novel unfolds.

I pick up Anne Tyler novels when I’m in the mood for a meaty story about a family.  I am a reader who likes happy endings and Tyler offers no guarantee of those, but neither do her novels end with dramatic sadness.  The book was an entre into a family not much like my own but, because it is a family with all the emotions families feel, it was familiar.  It was rather an easy read but also a story that lingers well after I read the last page.

Tyler is an artist; a capable and adept writer who constructs characters both sympathetic and tiresome, both awkward and adept; people who are recognizable in their very humanity.  I enjoyed this book and have thought about the story since I read it.  That’s the magic of an Anne Tyler book.  

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Throwback Year 15


JT grew tall in year 15 and regularly towered over T and I.


He was a workhorse of snow removal.


There was sass, of course.


When I look at these pictures, I see glimpses of his face today.  More often I see his childhood in this still boyish face.  We were a year away from the transformation that would be age 16.


This is the last of the chubby-cheeked boy.  A young man was on his way.