My Grandparents

Another Christmas, another year – it all takes me to thoughts of family, snow, cold weather, and turkey.  I thought of another topic for today’s post, but this holiday got the best of me.  Even still, I realized, no one will be on line reading anything, right?  Everyone is spending time with family they haven’t seen for a year, and welcoming the loyal friends who stop by with gifts and warm wishes.  And, here’s hoping you are blessed enough to have all of those things.

Again, when I think of this particular holiday the first person, other than my mom who comes to mind is – my grandmother.  What an influence on my life.  Actually, both grandparents made a huge impact, as many do.  I bring them up because tomorrow, December 26th, is their wedding anniversary.  They would have been married something like 85 years; there ages 107 and 103, respectively, but, no one lives that long.  I just managed to bring my mother’s bible in the house from the garage where it’s been since I moved some of her things here six years ago.  I certainly thought she had that date listed there, as she had everything else noted.  To my surprise, she did not.  Therefore, I had to dust the cobwebs from my brain, and go in search of a memory.  The picture below is the two of them on their wedding day – December 26, 1928 – she eighteen, and my grandfather twenty-two, and from this union came three girls and two boys.

Use This one

Bubble lightsMy memory takes me traipsing in to the woods for that perfect tree. She with the ax in one hand, and mine in her other. Of course, sometimes she’d break out the aluminum tree, remember those? But, the real one had those wonderful bubble lights, paired with huge ones – the kind that are only used outside now. What a wonderful time.  Being a very crafty person, she made star-shaped pieces of cheesecloth where she’d cut holes in the center, starch, and then, paste red, green and cobalt blue stars all over them. She’d slide them onto candles, and when set aflame the colors from the sticky stars would reflect over everything.  I think they were my favorite. Actually, it is kind of hard to choose, because I’d also get a little loopy with those bubble lights.  As a small child, I had no idea how they bubbled – I only envisioned it as magical. And, the decorations didn’t end in the living room. She would surely always know when she had out-done herself, because every car that came down that street, once they reached her house, you could hear it slow to take in the sights.

By New Year’s Eve, Granddad would take over and fill a shoebox with Christmas candy. I have never been a hard candy person, but this satisfied him. He’d add an apple, orange, and assorted nuts, which I’d eat sparingly, as to have enough left to watch the football game and Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day – all while sharing the sofa with him. Not to watch the game specifically, but just being near him made me happy.  When you recall the things you did as a child, doesn’t it all sound silly?  Anyway, as you can tell this has been a salutation to those grandparents. Even if they are not here to celebrate any longer – I continue to honor the time I spent with them. Because they made me who I am today. Happy anniversary to you both, and I still miss you.Christmas Candy


What Christmas Means To Me

There is no doubt that since I lost my mom, the Christmas holiday has changed drastically for me.  Okay, I admit I should probably be further along with my recovery than I am, but remember I have no siblings, there is only me.  I do confess, I’m not where I need to be, however, I’m definitely not where I used to be.  This is the time of year when everyone’s heart grows, and warm wishes abound, and in trying to force the holiday spirit upon myself, I had to stop for a minute and remind me – it’s okay. I say that because none of this is about me or my family or how many gifts I can buy.  The season is to honor Immanuel, for without whom, life as we know it would be something completely different, I’m sure.  Regardless I sit back; I watch and listen to reports of who has finished decorating their tree, how many sets of lights have been used, and about the planning of the holiday meal.  While every blink of my eye produces another image of a time gone by.

I think back, and recall a story of me as a child.  That particular year I became overwhelmed with Christmas.  I took my teddy – he had been my buddy for some time –  I gathered him up, and went about my way leaving everything under the tree.  I think this says something about a person’s make-up.  Although, I know I’m not the only one that has experienced or witnessed this.  I’m certain everyone reading this can recall their traditions over the years.  As a child, my grandfather liked to provide a shoe box.  That magical box held the hard Christmas candy, nuts and fruit. I would walk around with it for one week, slowly eating the contents; savoring everything and making it last so that I’d still have some to carry me through the football game that I watched with him on New Year’s Day.  Then, as I aged, everyone always came to my house for dinner.  My mother would put on the spread for uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins, grandparents, and for whatever reason, we never had a kiddy table – we all dined together.

But, as time goes on, and you get older, roles and people change – families develop new branches, and there is always someone else to move into the matriarch or patriarch position.  For me, as much as I want to hand down traditions, I can’t seem to get out of the past recalling the days of my youth, as I am sure many of you do also.  There is always something that pulls me back to a simpler time; watching that game with granddad or helping my grandma as she brought out the fruit cake that had been soaking in the tin since September.  When she’d grab the axe in one hand, and me by the other as we would head into the woods to locate that special tree.  I’m also thinking as I write, those customs sadly, did not make it this far; that is the fruit cake, the shoe box, and searching out a tree in the woods.  Maybe it’s a good thing because they can then, be special to me alone.  I also think, for the young people out there, those occasions would be more reminiscent of the dark ages, maybe, huh?

What Christmas means to me is all about family, but as I get older it’s all about the tsunami of memories, flooding my brain.  I go back to the old neighborhood in Queens, when everyone on the block shared in the spirit of giving, while we all went from house to house wishing each other well.  We all shared food, while exchanging those gifts and visited for a glass of eggnog or hot chocolate.  Lastly, what is this holiday without The Temptations in the background singing Silent Night or Stevie Wonder doing One Little Christmas Tree. What’s this time devoid of the lights twinkling on the tree as you watch A Christmas Carol with more eggnog; this is what it really means to me.  And if I had one wish this holiday season – other than wishing everyone and their families a very Merry Christmas – it would be to relive all those instances over and over, and over again.  Tell me your favorite thing about this magical time of year.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

The Holidays Approacheth

Is Thanksgiving next week?  My head is spinning, because I just got up on April 30th, and hit the “public” button on my website.  At least, I thought I did.  Now, Memorial Day, 4th of July, the summer, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Halloween, and finally Veteran’s Day have all passed.  Is it age?  I remember the old folk saying to me as a young woman, just wait until you’re older, then the time really does fly.  I think when one is younger, they are so busy living and enjoying, they aren’t cognizant of time’s passage.  Of course, that’s an entirely different topic; one for another day.  As a high-ranking member of the Procrastinator’s Club, I have to say – each year I plan to do my gift shopping during the summer months and every time, there I am running around all of December trying to get it done.  Why don’t I ever learn?  But, for this upcoming holiday, I will take my two days to do some much-needed resting and allow someone else to do the cooking.

Moving on, has anyone reading this ever watched the show Love/Lust?  No, it’s not about that – it’s broadcast on The Sundance Channel, and each week they feature one other thing after which we on this planet love or lust.  The other day they discussed comfort foods.  The episode began with Mac & Cheese, then moved on to Pizza, Soul Food, Hamburgers, and finally the infamous Jewish Deli.  I said that to say, the holidays are a time when we all look for that familiar spread – each ethnicity to their own, and although some years I have stepped away from the traditional; I do find it kind of mandatory to enjoy my ethnic comforts at least once a year.  Even as I write this, I have to smile – I get giddy when I think of the Thanksgiving and Christmas eats, and depending on your nationality it could instead include Chanukah, Kwanzaa or whatever other day that’s celebrated in this time frame.  But these really are times when it’s almost obligatory to present the classic pacifiers.

However, food or not, “Tis the season” for getting together with family and friends –  making your way through some crowded airport or stuck in traffic on one or more of the many highways and byways; all to spend time with your folks.  Not to get off topic, but I just need to add a complaint.  I think every year industrialization pushes us one day – two days – one week further away from the beginning of the festivities by shoving their time clock in our faces.  I don’t know about where you live, but the local Rite-Aid by me, had December 25th items in the store the week of Halloween.  Someone left a joke on Facebook of a turkey screaming at Santa – “Okay, Fat Boy, get back in your sleigh and wait your turn,” (something to that effect).  Although, somewhat crude, I found it right on time, and a turkey after my own heart.  Over the years, statistics have proven that this approaching celebration is the busiest of all, since at Christmas most people are home with their children.  So, right now take a deep breath, slow down, enjoy the scenery, and let’s operate on our own time clocks.  Now, although it’s a whole week away – have a happy.

Don’t forget – mosey on up to my Facebook Fan Page and click “like” if you’re here.  Thanks.

Photos courtesy of iStockPhoto

New York On My Mind

Uptown to Queens, please

Yesterday morning a few of my twitter peeps and myself were going on about living, working, and missing New York City. Well…okay, I may have been the one who mentioned missing. When it comes to that locale, it doesn’t take much to flip my yearning switch. I need to preface what I’m about to say by explaining – having choices. What do I mean by this? If your family is from some other place, but you live in Manhattan or any of the other four boroughs – more than likely you will get the chance to visit the place from where your relatives originated. I believe this gives you a different outlook versus strictly growing up in the city; never knowing anything else.

That being said, I always knew in the back of my mind, my mother would one day return to her roots; no matter how hard I worked to keep her in the north. Once I moved to New Jersey, I began hounding her to sell the house and buy something close to me. Now, I can’t speak for any other race – I know personally there have been many articles printed lately about African-Americans returning to the south. In fact, just a month or two ago, the New York Times had one on the front page. The reasons listed in those articles, however, had nothing to do with the reason we came here. Being from the south, my mother would easily become frustrated and go on a rampage, wanting to leave the “rat race” and move. I, too treasured going on vacation. This gave me the chance to get away from the concrete, crowds, and rushing around. All of that in mind, if you stop and think about the choices, and those places other than New York, it makes the everyday annoyances of urban living a little more difficult to endure.

What are those frustrations? The guy standing behind you in the subway car with his umbrella handle poking you in your back. The never-ending stream of pedestrians that won’t stop coming, and give you a chance to make a right/left turn. The way long lines at check out, the week of Christmas. The sea of bodies that smack you in the face, and threatens to send you running in the opposite direction as you enter the Division of Motor Vehicles. I could create a list, pages long on the irritations of living in a large metropolis, but, again that’s another topic.

So now, with those confessions, wouldn’t that make one think – why on earth would she then, miss New York? Have you ever been on Fifth Avenue anytime from Noon until around 2:00 p.m. when the wave of bodies renders the concrete invisible? Or at 4:00 a.m. when the only people inhabiting the island are the ones who live there, and a lone resident is walking his dog down Fifth Avenue at 62nd Street. The craving for an omelet, pancakes, Bloody Mary, a piece of fruit or a simple cup of coffee strikes at 3:00 a.m. and all that’s needed is to walk out your front door. Enjoying the Christmas windows of Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue or Lord & Taylor while wrapped in your winter garb as you hustle along – hands filled with packages, and the falling snow validates – tis the season. Or my all-time favorite, crossing the George Washington Bridge at sunset with Manhattan in the distance.

I miss New York with a vengeance. I told someone recently, I never thought I would work or live anywhere else. My husband and I are certain we are two people meant to be in a metropolitan area. But, not just any metro, because nothing – nothing – nothing compares to the Big Shiny Apple. At this point, I have the urge to quote a line from The Wizard of Oz – “…I’m not gonna leave [insert your own text] New York] ever, ever again…there’s no place like home!”

NYC Public Library

51st St. Entry to St. Patrick's

Also, I’d like to remind my visitors to make their way over to “View From The Roads.” It’s been a new month for 14 days now. I realize I got them in somewhat late.  Also, if you’re here, leave me suggestions in the comment section as to what you’d like to see more of or topics that simply interest you. Thanks in advance.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Images courtesy of Google Earth