Thursday, December 17, 2015

Throw-back Thursday, in a (Christmas) Season of Looking Back while Being Busy!!

How's that for a title? Unwieldy but Descriptive? It does, at least, tell you what's up with me these days... For example,

Yesterday, I
-ran my 8 kilometres in the morning (playing with a different schedule, running mid-morning, an hour or so after breakfast, instead of pushing myself out the door first gloomy light)

-finished coaxing decades worth of Christmas accoutrements down from a very high cubby hole -- a step-ladder and a "coaxing stick" were required, and great care as I handed boxes down to where I sorted through . . . wrapping paper, bags, and boxes; candles, candle-holders, reindeer-decorated coasters; broken ornaments, stained ornaments, tacky ornaments, and precious ornaments; old cards which made me weep, cards with signatures I could barely decipher and not a single other word, making me wonder why storage space had been commandeered for years. . . I cannot imagine how Ms. Kondo gets her clients to do whole homes "all at once," but I'm quite pleased that I tackled this space, sent bags to thrift shops and to garbage skips.

-made a batch of pastry, enough for six covered pies, and went on to add 2 tourtières to the stash in the freezer

-blocked a small garment I finished for one of the babies and began one for another -- no more details for now, of course, as we don't want those 9-month-olds reading what Nana's knit them for Christmas...

- had a fabulous dinner with a friend, catching up in our first visit since the summer, and re-affirming what a good decision it was for me to retire (I do have my doubts, as I adjust, sometimes). She's still marking research papers, hasn't even begun marking exams, and will likely be marking right up 'til Christmas Eve, despite having company arrive from overseas next week. New term begins January 4th, and she needs to get her four course outlines ready and printed by then -- and, of course, the university campus will be shut and no support staff available. Ugh! I sipped my prosecco and savoured my duck papperdelle as I nodded sympathetically and made a strenuous effort not to look smug.

I also read (juggling Wab Kinew's memoir with Francine Prose's bio of Caravaggio), kept the woodstove going, had a short nap, and sorted through a cabinet that happened to host one daughter's Big Envelope. Perhaps you had a Big Envelope for yours as well. I'd forgotten much of what got stuffed in there over the years. Old report cards and swim lesson records, sure, but also wonderful journals from Grade 2 with dear, careful printing and the occasional brilliantly inventive spelling. Crayoned representations of the family, Mother's Day cards with earnest greetings, a newspaper clipping of a column incorporating a letter she wrote to the columnist when she was seven....

And this note to Santa, from when she was 6, apparently (I dated most of her little works, but not this one -- she seems to have added her age beneath her signature).
Should you need a translation: Dear Santa, I left you a letter because I want a pack of felts to crayon with...

This daughter's daughter is coming over ahead of her folks next week, and we will sit down together and spend some time remembering and imagining that other Little Girl who is now a Mom.  I can't wait! Meanwhile, should you be interested in following my own memories even further back, before both those Little Girls existed, this post will take you to one of my very favourite Christmas memories.

I assume your own days are just as busy as mine, and you may not find time to comment. But if you do, know that you'll be joining a rich conversation -- check out the chat at my last post. I love it! As "Wendy in York," says, the comments form a great antidote to the season's surfeit of commercialism. If you find a minute today, feel free to share what the day's tasks entail OR what memories you've unearthed as you go through your holiday preparations. Don't feel shut out, either, should yours be sad memories -- the season's insistence on Happiness and Merriment can be difficult, but there's room here to bring in other emotions...


22 comments:

  1. "I want one of those big white boxes , only I want a pink one " is one letter to Santa that I remember fondly .
    The daughter in question had got hold of the idea that she'd only have to tell the 'box' her school assignment and it would be ready to hand in in the morning . In her defence she wrote it more than 30 years ago .

    She ... and I ...are still waiting . Meanwhile , she's married a computer wizard .

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    1. I want a box like that as well, but I'd like mine in gold! This reminds me of my granddaughter, about 4, who wanted a bike, but she wanted it to "have a button you push and when you do, the wings come out and you can fly." I guess in a world with Santa Claus and all manner of commodity goods, all seems wonderfully possible. Marrying a wizard would keep the magic alive! πŸ˜‰

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  2. Anne of Green Gables comes to mind when I read this post. Please make sure to read it to your grandchildren especially red headed ones. I think your life somehow resembles an "Anne" like life brought up to date.

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    1. I haven't read Anne since I was a child. I'll have to take another peek, especially as we do have a redhead. Never thought of my life as resembling hers, so now I'm curious to reread. Perhaps the island lifestyle?

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  3. I learned what tourtiere is (and read the recipe ,too)
    And read your beautiful stories of past Christmas and your father. They are precious and have to be told again and again
    I love my memories of "non-existant" Christmases (hence non commercialised,pure and simple,with only family and some of friends )
    Dottoressa

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    1. I puzzled a bit over "non-existent" Christmasses and then remembered that observation of the day was officially outlawed in your country for many years, and any celebration of it had to be very discreet. The gatherings of family and friends then must have been precious, no distractions or pressure from an onslaught of advertising. Did you still manage to exchange a few gifts? Handmade, perhaps, or something you owned but we're willing to give away? Or did you keep the focus on food and music and friendship?

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  4. As a red haired girl I loved Anne of Green Gables and Anne Shirley's feisty personality. I didn't go on to have a red haired daughter but I did have a son who dyed his hair black! Not for long though it caused him more stress than his red hair had! My daughter once wrote to Queen Elizabeth wishing her a Happy Birthday. ..They share the same birth date. A lovely reply was framed and hung in her bedroom and is now stored away to be shared in the future.
    I love that we are all taking time to share memories and experiences with each other ...with people who wouldn't connect if not for this blog.Thank you Frances ..yours is definitely one of the best!...take care
    Rosie

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  5. As a red haired girl I loved Anne of Green Gables and Anne Shirley's feisty personality. I didn't go on to have a red haired daughter but I did have a son who dyed his hair black! Not for long though it caused him more stress than his red hair had! My daughter once wrote to Queen Elizabeth wishing her a Happy Birthday. ..They share the same birth date. A lovely reply was framed and hung in her bedroom and is now stored away to be shared in the future.
    I love that we are all taking time to share memories and experiences with each other ...with people who wouldn't connect if not for this blog.Thank you Frances ..yours is definitely one of the best!...take care
    Rosie

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    1. Well, we can't have everything! I have a red-headed daughter, but none of mine dyed their hair black. πŸ˜‰
      So sweet that your daughter wrote to the Queen. I can imagine that's a well-guarded memento!
      Thanks for the kind words. I do love these blog conversations!

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  6. Sorry! Not sure why but I commented from my phone and it published twice!

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  7. The Big Envelope made me laugh. I have three of them in a box downstairs. What to do with them? Maybe photograph the contents and save them digitally?
    Memories loom large at this time of year, don't they?

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    1. I actually had a drawer each in a dedicated chest of drawers, but the Big Envelope has the papers I most wanted to keep in one place. I know many go the digital route, but then there's a need to continue upgrading/transferring, and there's something special about holding the very piece of paper your mother wrote on when she was your age. At least, I hope Nola may think so. But I'm passing along the responsibility now that mine have their own homes and children. Hope it's the right decision and I don't end up regretting that those mementoes don't live with me anymore...

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  8. There is a packing case stashed in the attic for each of my sons to claim when they are ready, stuffed full of their bits and pieces which have moved around with me. My memories, their memories. Precious things and irreplaceable.

    I love Christmas although our Christmas is changing as the children make their own nests so for the first time we will celebrate early away from home as well as here on the day with just one of our children. Not our turn to host this year, so very easy.

    Have a wonderful Christmas Frances!

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    1. Our Christmasses went through a big change over the last decade, as ours have moved from their 20s into their 30s, with one now poised at the edge of that next big number, and two of the partners already there. It's lovely when they collaborate to host at one of their homes. Sounds as if you'll get double the celebration with much less work--finally! enjoy!

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  9. As I stick my nose out of piles of grading and feel slightly jealous.....closing my father's house this year left us an additional pile of family Christmas ornaments. I want to find time to go through ours and his and create a manageable set of boxes with known contents. Right now we have mystery boxes that we keep moving around the garage to get to other things. I know I'll find things precious only to me and my husband. We're not allowed to put the ornaments with their school pictures on the tree now, but I know we also have school made ornaments and other treasures hidden away that may create some happy tears. At least we will have both sons and our daughter-in-law with us this year.

    When I think about it what I really want is time. Time to savor the season, time to remember our parents and the children's childhoods and time to think about the future. Maybe I am moving closer to retirement than I thought.
    Lynn

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    1. We missed out on the culling of Christmas paraphernalia from both our families, and I don't regret that much at all, I must say, especially picturing the boxes you're sorting through. As for time and retirement, you sound so much like me, the last year or two. Someday, the scales will top and you'll know, but yes, for me it was wanting more time for other things that mattered. In an ideal world, I'd be energetic and efficient enough to manage all, because I loved so much about the work, loved knowing myself as one who worked (for pay, that is), came to the career late and had imagined staying at it into my late 60s. But my ideal world must be in a parallel universe, alas, and I'm not Superwoman. . .

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    2. Not Superwoman at all....either the papers are worse or I am slower (or both), but they take more time than they did before. Or perhaps the needs of young children made me faster. I think the scales are tipping more and more -- what holds me back is the magic that sometimes happens in the classroom. The rest I could easily leave. Off happily to sort ornaments and try to do a Star Wars wrap for the family maniac. I hope you have a lovely Christmas with most of the family.
      Lynn

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  10. "I sipped my prosecco and savoured my duck papperdelle as I nodded sympathetically and made a strenuous effort not to look smug." LOVE this! I am so going to be this lady in 18 years!

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    1. Well, really, you're that lady now, and I'm following your model, in my imagination. I mean, the Prosecco and duck pappardelle? Totally Kristin! Too bad you have to wait 18 years but meanwhile I'm the designated you, retired version....πŸ˜‰

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  11. I'm nodding in sympathy/empathy/empathetic smugness at your dinner anecdote. Been there, done that, with the school busy season exactly coinciding with the Christmas busy season. And Hubby wanting me to go skiing and look for a Christmas tree because when we were in exams, as a phys ed teacher he had supervision duty but NO marking! One year, out of my six classes, two were large grade eleven English classes with an exam on the almost last day of exams. So sixty five papers all with several parts including an essay that needed to be marked... and I was determined to bring NO marking home for the holidays. I started marking at school at 11:30 immediately after the exam finished, decamped to the dining room table at 3:30 or so, then to the bed in our bedroom around 5:00 when my back was killing me. When Stu arrived home from hockey at 7:00, the house was dark except for a pool of light in the bedroom. Apparently I looked up a bit wild eyed when he came in and said..."I'm into single digits...eight papers left... and I'm not stopping now!" Ah... the good old days...NOT. And like you when I meet with friends from work tonight for our dress-up all girls party... I'll be sympathetic about the marking load, the newest edict with respect to evaluation, the latest stressful whatever thing... and I'll keep to myself any remarks about how glad I am that I retired when I did.
    Have a lovely Christmas Frances... busy-by-choice... it's a wonderful gift isn't it?

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  12. This was Thursday and it is already Sunday! Oh my. On Thursday I was handing out gift cards to people in the rather poor neighborhood next to our church, as part of our annual parish giving tree! It was such a joyous task, we had cards for everyone, adults and children as well! Then I finished some needlepoint that is destined to be a Christmas gift, and made the Breakfast Casserole for Christmas morning so it could be well frozen before driving down to Florida. Otherwise, I'm late and scatterbrained this year. I'll have time, I'll have time…..

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  13. You sound busy, ma, but also content. Being retired and in good health is wonderful time of life (as my old South African yoga teacher would say, "very terrrrrrrific".) And six covered pies, mmmm- save me a little slice!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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