Saturday, November 26, 2011


We swore it would never happen to us.  My siblings and I were just way too tight with each other, to ever let ourselves drift apart the way our aunts, uncles and parents did, once all the grandparents had  passed away.  And we haven't...yet.  But it is getting a bit harder, forcing us to be a bit more creative and flexible.  Once my own kids get married, start having babies, and want to stay put for the holidays, it will become more difficult still.  But, knowing my family, we'll figure something out!
When I was a kid, almost all of my relatives lived right there in Dallas, which made it so much easier than it is now, with families spread out around the globe.  Everybody on my father's side of the family came to our house for Christmas Eve, and everyone on my mother's side showed up at Mimi and Granddad's house on Christmas Day.  Easy Peasy, no?  Unfortunately, once all the grandparents were gone, my parents and their siblings hardly ever saw each other, though they did check in by telephone on a regular basis.
I was the first one to leave Dallas, spending three years overseas, but I think what shocked my mom even more was when I came back -- and announced that we would spend either Thanksgiving or Christmas with them in Dallas, the other holiday in Odessa with John's folks, and then flip the holidays the following year.  Though they were obviously disappointed, they had to give me credit for being equitable.  They, in turn, earned tons of brownie points from me, when we moved to Midland and had our second child.  Since the only other grandkids were grown by then, my entire family loaded up their cars and began coming to us each Christmas, so that we could celebrate Christmas at home with our wee tots, and establish some traditions of our own.  Of course, we were all much younger then, and more of us were willing to sleep on sofa beds or in sleeping bags.  It was like a giant, three day slumber party!  Fun times.
Then we went back overseas, taking our kids with us -- the cruelest thing we had ever done, as far as my parents were concerned.  It was tough on us too, especially that first Christmas, just three or four months after our arrival in Indonesia.  Soon, however, we experienced the same magic that we had as newlyweds living overseas.  Our friends became our family, and would go to any length to make the holidays festive.  Fun times indeed, and some of our most memorable!
Later, we were all living in the Dallas area again, but things had changed.  It was our own parents who were going into decline, requiring the rest of us to become more and more flexible as they became less and less so.  It would have been a very sad time, if not for the arrival of Little Miss Merrit, our niece -- the first new baby to come along in thirteen years.  There's nothing like a new baby to add life to a family get-together!
Now our parents are all gone, Miss Merrit is thirteen years old, one sister's kids are both married and have in-laws they need to spend time with, another sister spends every other Christmas in W. Virginia,  my kids are both in relationships, and my sister-in-law has a standing date in Dallas with her sister on Black Friday.  When we moved to the Hill Country, I had such dreams of the great family holidays we would be hosting here, but, in addition to the near impossibility of trying to sync all our schedules and obligations, there's one other major problem.  This is a two-bedroom-one-man-cave-house.  My siblings and I?  Well, we are no longer quite as willing to abandon our king-sized Tempurpedics to sleep on a double bed or a sofa, just so we can all be together at one house on Christmas morning.  So what's a family to do?  We adapt.
This year we tried something new.  We had a Thanksgiving-Tree-Trimming party!  We met at my sister's house in Dallas, and had a traditional turkey dinner.  After the main course, the girls helped my sister deck the halls with a bit of cheer (not the full-blown version, since they'd be in W.V. this Christmas) while the guys watched football or played video games or something.  Afterwards we came back together for my brother's famous chocolate lava cakes, and to open our first prezzie of the season.  Another innovation from a few years back, when the madness just got to be too much?  We now draw names, and have all year to concentrate on finding, or making, one special gift, instead of scrambling around at the last minute to find two dozen "it'll do" gifts.  This year Miss Merrit decided to do her own Christmas shopping, choosing a special present for every single person.  Good job Merrit!
It may not be the perfect Christmas of our childhoods, and I'm sure we will miss each other a lot come Christmas Eve, but it was good.  It was very, very good.

P.S.  I hope they all know, and my hubby's family too, that any who care to have a Hill Country Christmas will be more than welcome here!

Friday, November 25, 2011


I'm not much for mall-shopping, and you would never catch me out at any of the stores on "Black Friday".  In fact, the ads alone were enough to make me want to kick the TV screen in.  However, I will admit to enjoying a walk through the mall in the early morning hours, before the crowds and craziness hit.  Especially if it happens to be North Park shopping center in Dallas -- the mall of my youth.  Hard to believe this mall is around 50 years old.  It's so timeless and classy, and well maintained!

Lexi's favorite store, LUSH.
A different kind of gift wrap.
One of the first animated window displays I've seen in years!  The turkey wobbled!

My favorite store, from a merchandiser's point of view, Anthropologie.
Though very few of the original stores remain, some things never change.  For as long as this mall has been open, there have been little kids running up the sides of these planters, for the sheer joy of sliding back down again!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I finally managed to harvest a few tomatoes - enough to share, even!  I roasted them all in olive oil, sea salt and thyme, and plan to serve them with crostini and goat cheese this Thursday.  Wishing you all a safe and happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Well, my mouth is finally starting to recover.  It's still a bit difficult to eat anything other than soft stuff, but the only time I need the pain meds is at night.  Apparently, lying down makes things throb.  Know what's really ridiculous?  The thing that has bothered me most was neither the site of the big molar extraction/bone graft nor the spot where they peeled back my gums to check how far a mysterious groove on the back of one tooth traveled up the root (it doesn't, which is good).  No, what drove me absolutely nuts was a stupid ulcer on the inside of my lower lip.  It would seem it either got pinched by some instrument, or somebody accidentally chomped down on it when it was so dead she couldn't feel it.  I hate those mouth blister thingies!  Oh, and I'm not too crazy about the big wad of silly putty stuck to my gums right in front, protecting the sutures. It doesn't hurt at all, but it's sure to be showing up in several Thanksgiving photos, since there's no way on earth I can keep from laughing when I'm around my siblings and kiddos!
On the other hand, I got to spend a couple of days curled up on the sofa, and was told "no strenuous exercise, lifting or bending over for a couple of days!"  I had good books to keep me company.
My hubby cooked pasta for me, and fetched the Christmas gift wrap box for me as soon as I said "Sweetie, would you mind...?", instead of asking if I had a broken leg or something.

Favorite snow globes, gifted to me by one sister in years past.
New additions to my pine cone collection, brought by the other sister last time she visited.
Best of all, I got to watch my first sappy Christmas movie of the season, and enjoy the little touches of holiday sparkle that are beginning to pop up here and there around the house.  Yep, on the whole, things could be a whole lot worse, don't you think?