Sunday, December 23, 2012

Meanwhile Back At The Ranch - the 23rd of Fa La La

So...Christmas is almost here!

I can't say that I got much decorating done this year. Usually, I pull out all of the stops and true to my name, the kitsch comes out in full force. I get it completely honest as my Mom's house is a mind-boggling Christmas wonderland and before her, her Mother had some pretty notoriously over-the-top decorating trends such as hanging red satin balls off of the taxidermy deer head in her living room and putting big red bows on the concrete lions flanking each side of her front door. Oh, and those lions? They'd had a pretty bad paint job and looked like they had Hitler mustaches instead of noses. Even the red ribbons didn't cut down on the shock and awe of those lions.

These adorable crafts that my little niece and nephew made were the only decorations that I got up this year.

Though, they're worth a thousand fancy decorations if you ask me! 

And yep, in the background, there's Mr. Kitten Pants doing his best "Lords a' Leapin'" impression through the fireplace. Thankfully, it's a fake fire so he has lived to see another Christmas day. And thanks to his, exuberant manner, we didn't put up a Christmas tree this year. You see, he loves to eat wires and cords. Most recently, he ate through the stereo speaker wires and straight on through the iPod charging cord. But wait! He didn't stop there, he gnawed through the overpriced laptop cord in quick measure, causing sparks that could have very well set our bed on fire. Oh, Mister Kitten Pants! He's gained quite the alias around here:

Our cute little Christmas Crusher!
Someone get that kitty a fruitcake with a file in it!

Of course, it's all in jest because we'd rather have Mr. Kitten Pants than to have some old needle shedding Christmas tree with it's twinkling lights and glittery ornaments. He's really livened up our house this year. And soon, he'll be old enough to get a job to help support his nasty cord chewing addiction.

Anyway.....gasp. Where was I? Oh! We didn't decorate for Christmas this year but then...

Today, we were in an antique store and lo and behold, I walked into a booth that had the very same Christmas wreath that my late Grandmother had. Not the hitler mustached lion and festooned taxidermy deer Grandmother but my other Grandmother whose house I helped decorate for Christmas like clockwork every year. Each time, the last thing on my to-do list was hanging her glittery white and red wreath on the door.

Now, the sentimental impact of seeing the same wreath as my Grandmother's (which I probably hadn't seen in fifteen years) was enough to make my heart swell to three times it's size (yes, just like the Grinch...gather from that what you will) but just like a hidden DJ had been waiting to drop the needle on the track, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" started playing. And then I started crying. Not a sweet little cry but a blubbering "I'm not going to be able to stop" kind of cry. Mister Kitsch came over and I weep-talked about how my Grandmother used to have the very same wreath and blubber, blubber, blubber, whine. He steered me away from the wreath and out into the aisles and by the time we'd reached the back of the store, I'd been able to turn my emotions down to a low-simmer. (Thanks in part to the next song on the store's sound system being one of those awful manic songs by Mannheim Steamroller which can suck the holiday spirit right out of me.)

Later on, when we were getting ready to leave the store, the Mister turned to me and said, "Do you need to go see about that wreath?" I put up a half-hearted argument about how we couldn't afford it and then he reasoned that since it was my grandmother's wreath, I should have it if it gives me good memories. "Does it give you good memories?" he asked, "..or are they sad ones?" I answered back that I was pretty sure that they were good ones but that I'd have to go stand before the wreath again to see.

We walked through the store and before long, I was in the presence of the wreath again. "Good memories!" I exclaimed as I started to take the wreath down off of the wall. And once again, that DJ called Fate cued up some lump-in-the-throat lyrics to the tune of Bing Crosby warbling softly "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas....just like the ones I used to know...". I snatched that wreath from the wall and said to the Mister, "Let's get out of here fast before I start again!" I was fighting back tears as Bing crooned on and my nose filled up with the scent of plastic Christmas wreath, taking my mind straight back to my Grandmother's December carport door. 

When I placed the wreath on the checkout counter, the two ladies who run the store exclaimed how pretty it was and I whispered, "It's my Grandmother's wreath. It made me start crying in the booth." Instantly, one of the ladies said, "I know how you feel, my Mother is no longer with me" and instantly, the waterworks started flowing from behind her eyes. The other lady swallowed really hard and I could tell that she too could relate to the bittersweet nature of the holiday season. Mr. Kitsch looked trapped amongst the unpredictable sentimentality of the female set. 

Here is a picture of my Grandmother who always had the wreath (along with her brother, Buddy from the Santa Claus Smack-down post).

She wore a lot of corsages and would often stick a bow from a present onto her clothes to add to the festiveness. She really loved Christmas and I had a blast helping her decorate each year, putting red satin balls on her white tree and clipping the plastic candles with crimson lights into her windows. It was all our yearly ritual - the plunking of the knee hugger elf into his large felt boot beside the rotary phone. The taping of the plastic mistletoe over the doorframe. The decoration of the gumdrop tree. And yes, that white wreath with it's little red packages and balls and silver pinecones. 
Here is mine now at the ranch. 

I know that my Grandmother is smiling down on it from the other side (and probably wondering where my plastic mistletoe is and why I'm phoning in Christmas this year). 

This will be my last post before we start immersing ourselves in family gatherings and the ceremonial eating of everything in sight (I'm coming for you, pimento cheese sandwiches!) . I send lots of love and nostalgia to you this holiday season. Many of us have lost loved ones this season and if not, we've seen neighbors across our nation and across the world lose theirs. Take the time to make some memories if you can - and to remember those memories that have already been handed down to you. Sometimes, they linger very near to the surface and if you look or listen very closely, you can remember them just like they were yesterday.

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Friday, December 21, 2012

End Times

As you probably know, the Mayan calendar says that the world as we know it is supposed to end today and that we will be plunked into a new civilization.

In case it does (or in case it doesn't), I had to let Skeeter have the last say. I admire her so much and my Dad has always had quite the Skeeter crush - so I can't think of a better send-off as we are propelled off into the mystical ether today.

I'll be wearing a scarf that used to belong to sweet Skeeter herself  - and toasting you all with what hopefully won't be my last sweet tea.

When my grandmother was here with us still, she used to warn her relatives that when she passed away, we were to lay her to rest in the ensemble that she'd picked out and not bury her in one of the outfits that you can buy at the funeral home. Those are open down the back, you see as it makes it easier to dress the dearly departed. She used to exclaim that she didn't want to rise up out of her grave on Judgment Day, only to meet Jesus with her fanny hanging out of the back of her clothes. Can't say that I blame her on that one! I mean, I'm sure that Jesus would understand but even in end times, it probably goes against any suggestion of good etiquette.

Whatever you're up to today, live it like it's your last day on Earth. I'd love for you to do so and I know that Skeeter, my Granny and the Mayans would too.

x's and o's,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I'd Be Remiss...

I'd be remiss if I didn't wish my boyfriend, Little Jimmy a happy birthday today. This is birthday number 92 for him and even so, he's still quite the fringe swinging little powder keg. Here's to him!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Everybody Gets A Sugar High for Christmas

Tonight, the Mister and I did some crafting together - a very rare occurrence.  Not since I talked him into painting tiny rabbit faces on marshmallows has he been involved in any crafting with me! A while back, we found little miniature mugs (about an inch wide) and had the idea of getting one for each of his coworkers for Christmas. Miniatures seriously crack us up!

Then we decided that we should make tiny little donuts to go with them.

Mister Kitsch made these wee boxes by hand. 

Hey, wait a minute!

Who's that guy stealing our donuts?!

Aww! It's okay. He's just spreading the holiday love!

Everybody Gets a Sugar High for Christmas. 

  • If you want to make your own tiny donuts, simply drop some Cheerios into a bag or container with powdered sugar (for the powdered donuts) OR cinnamon (for the cake donuts) and shake, shake, shake. A tiny bit of any kind of melted chocolate works great for dipping and sprinkles add an extra flair.  You're only limited by your imagination! 
  • We used a tiny pair of sterile kitchen tweezers for the dipping -and toothpicks to get the chocolate ones off of the tweezers. These are completely edible and stay in the box great. If you want them not to shift around, you can take a tiny bit of white frosting and stick them to the bottom of the box - but try it the easy way first with no frosting. That's what we did. Because we like things crazy easy.  We put waxed paper on the bottom of the boxes to make them more realistic. And just like in that old game Operation: "It takes a very steady hand!" to put them in the box. So have a swig of something if you're a Shakey McShakester.
  • You can also cut out a square on the lid of the box and glue the plastic transparent window from an envelope on so that you can peek through and see the donuts. We were way too lazy to do this part too. 

Credit to this idea goes to the interwebs in general. I've seen several tiny donut tutorials here and there and they seeped into my subconscious. I think that these would be fun to gift to someone with a little knee-hugger elf and a tiny jug of moonshine (patent pending).  We got our donut box template from here at the awesome "What Will We Do Today?" website.

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Monday, December 17, 2012

Wives with Beehives

Thanks to my friend Dawn for cluing me in to this upcoming TLC show. Should be interesting to see! It's described as "four women whose fashion sense, flair for decorating and moral compasses are inspired by 1950s housewives".

The show will air on December 27th at 10 PM Eastern. The preview makes it look a little too campy for my taste (never thought you'd hear me shun the camp, right?) as TLC often does - so I hope that that they take the time to thoughtfully help viewers understand why some of us have so much admiration for the decades before us.

(Just go to your happy place during the ad. Seems we can't get away from them these days.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Super Slow Motion Holiday Destruction

It's all about the eggnog Flashdance recreation if you ask me. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Santa Claus SmackDown of 1977

This photo is the stuff of legend in my family. It shows my late Great Uncle Buddy being mobbed for candy canes in the Christmas of 1977. It happened at my elementary school after his daughter-in-law talked him into dressing up as Santa Claus and coming in to spread some additional cheer at the conclusion of our school Christmas production of "The Night Before Christmas" as the actors and actresses sang the final song.

What nobody predicted was that the children in the gymnasium would react as if they had been long suffering through a candy famine, flocking to Uncle Buddy and mobbing him as if they were about to draw their last sugar-deprived breaths. As he came through the back swinging gym doors and surprised the crowd with a roaring "Ho! Ho! Ho!", he was met with a sea of clamoring children who in mass exodus jolted from their seats next to their parents and were now scurrying over each other for whatever loot was to be found in Uncle Buddy Santa's velvet bag. As he tried to maneuver away from them, they chased him from the gym floor to the top of the bleachers (and I'm talking waaaaay high up at the top - it's a wonder that nobody was killed) and trampled him for treats. He actually had to fight kids off.  For candy canes! My brother says that all that he can remember is the "roar" of children as they engulfed him and my Mom says that the kids were like a "swarm" - both great words to describe the melee.

Look at this close-up. See how some of the kids have actually snatched ahold of him? 

It had turned all yuletide "The Lord of The Flies" up in there! 

Here are a couple more photos that my Dad dug up for you from the old family albums.
Unlike the photo above, they're all faded and blurry like they were shot from a grassy knoll.

Look at that kid at the very top above wearing the flouncy red and white get-up!
I like how most of the adults are just walking away like "It's your battle to fight, Santa."

Looks like he's finally made it back down to flat ground again as evidenced by the manageable wee shorties surrounding him in the final shot. I bet the jolly old elf had the vapors by this point and his sack was a mere sweat rag.

Thank goodness I wasn't involved in the peppermint induced mob. I was up front on the stage, wearing a cardboard box wrapped to look like a Christmas present. No, I'm not kidding. My mom found photographic proof.

My first and only stage role. Blue turtleneck and blue tights. So 1977. 

I remember that I had to sit down next to the Christmas tree and stay silent and still as if I were an actual inanimate gift box. It was the director's way of allowing more kids to have roles in the play but I still thought that I was a bad-ass for being chosen.  My brother reports that he was the "sound department" and stood dazed in the stage wing, clutching his jingle bells as Uncle Buddy was ensnared. I'm pretty sure that our brush with stardom saved us from being trampled and killed that day. We were always weak and pampered children, never up for quick adrenaline rushes or stick candy moshes. Uncle Buddy's grandson, Marty was on stage too, dressed like a small mouse.

He could only stand there, helplessly wrenching his tail as the mob moved further and further up the bleachers, reducing his beloved grandfather to a bobbing buoy in a sea of children. Those bleachers were no place for tender mice or Christmas presents or little boys with jingle bells. We all knew it.

My Mom says that she remembers that Uncle Buddy's wife was absolutely terrified as it was happening - and Uncle Buddy saying afterwards that he was too - and that he couldn't get away from the kids, try as he might. They were both really shaken by the whole incident. Yay, Christmas.

Uncle Buddy Facts: He was a multi-millionaire who started out poor and made his fortune by building and renting out self-storage units and selling camper trailers. He used to sing Hank Williams songs all of the time and I can remember sing-yodeling along with him, "When she calls me sweeeet Daaaaaddy...such a beautiful dream.." He and his wife Edna had a big cactus garden, a beautiful home surrounded by the lake and a collie dog named Sport. He constantly chewed toothpicks and during the era of wide white belts, had quite the collection. He could cut a mean square dance and at Easter, he hosted egg hunts on his huge lawn where he would make sure that one "prize egg" was full of lots of folding money. Thus, the kids called him "Daddy Rabbit". He always did amazing card tricks and then one day, we realized that he was getting signals from his grandchildren to help him achieve such feats of magic. He was my grandmother's only brother. He never played Santa Claus again.

Until next time,
x's and o's,

I get it honest

I stumbled across this photo of my late great-grandmother opening up her horse clock present in the fifties.


Friday, December 7, 2012

It's 2012. We should all have cameras in our eyes by now anyway.

My trusty little camera has decided to pursue it's own vision and is taking photos like this now. It looks like some kind of cool effect but this is the portrait of it's dying days. 

I can use the Mister's fancy camera anytime that I want but you know how it feels when you lose a trusty friend? That crazy cranky camera has been so many places with me. I document this cyclone as the end of an era. I used to be younger and it used to smell like brand new plastic and promise. 

So long, little friend with your annoying "beep.beep" sound that always alerted store clerks that I was documenting something that I wasn't supposed to be. And your overwhelming weight that ripped the lining from many a cute vintage purse. And your thirty second video capability that proved that I was way behind on technology. 

It was just you and me against the world with our self-portrait shots where my arm was never quite long enough and your three second delay that meant that more than likely, I'd have a story to tell without a photo to accompany it. Even with your delicate nature, I loved you and felt like I could come close to documenting what wanderlust feels like - what strangeness lies in humanity - what curiously fashioned junk store knick-knack would call out to my heart with it's misplaced anthropomorphic empathy next. 
I pour libations into the Earth.