Friday, November 23, 2018


I cackled out loud when a cute video about "Friendsgiving" popped up on Facebook recently. When we were living overseas, we celebrated many, many of these make-do holidays, where your friends and neighbors became your family, and you threw yourself into making the holidays special with more passion than ever before, so that your kids would never feel that they were missing out on everything good by being so far away. It worked. So well, in fact, that we ended up missing those holidays when we moved back home!

Ever since we bought this Hill Country house, and all our parents passed away, we've had very quiet Christmases and Thanksgivings here with just the four of us, celebrating with our Dallas family sometime in mid-December. Then it became the six of us. Then seven with the addition of Little Goober. Then suddenly both sets of in-laws and some siblings were close by and deserved equal time. So, since we'd all be together multiple times in the coming weeks, and since our BFFs are always alone on Thanksgiving Day, we told the kids "Go spend lots of quality time with your in-laws over Thanksgiving, 'cause we have plans for a Lanford Friendsgiving Adventure!"

Yes, that's a real live longhorn that lady just climbed up on!
We met up here, at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort near Bastrop, which is just about midway between our home and theirs in College Station.  We were just there for the day, and expected the place to be kind of dead this time of year, but that was not the case! Instead, it was jam-packed with lots of large family groups who decided to take their celebrations on the road. And what a great place to do it!

We went on-line to make lunch reservations well in advance, opting out of the huge holiday brunch buffet being held in the ballroom, and the fine dining steakhouse which, I think, only serves dinner. Instead we chose their Firewheel Cafe for 11:00. Then, around 9:30 on the morning of, we got a call from the hotel saying that particular restaurant was closing at 11, but if we came earlier we could have breakfast there. Well, that wouldn't work since by then, we just barely had time enough to get there at 11! So, instead, they switched us to their bar restaurant, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Not only was the food simple and delicious, it was actually quiet enough to have a real conversation!

Miss Paula and I split their version of a Bacon Jam Burger, and I have to say, I'd have a hard time choosing which is better, theirs or Hays City's! After lunch the guys and gals split up -- the gals to go exploring, they guys to find the perfect spot to smoke a cigar. Remember how, just recently, we had several hard freezes in a row, with temps dropping into the 20s at night? Well, this week we had this...

kids floating in the Lazy River, with gorgeous fall colors in the background. Only in Texas, right?

The River Runs Through It
The Favored Method Of Transportation Around Here  

 Loved the carved totem pole on the porch of one of several golf shops/bars/cafe's on the property.

It was the perfect place to smoke a cigar. In fact, they even sell them inside!

Then we all met back up at the lodge's ice cream parlor/cafe for dessert, to complete our celebration.

Best thing about these amazing friends of ours? It's that, whenever we are with them, we somehow forget that forty years have passed, and transform into the same crazy, fun-loving goof-balls that we were when first we met. Now, that's something to be thankful for!

Monday, November 19, 2018


Midland, TX Christmases
I love the holidays. I really do. Some were harder than others, but I have loved them all. However,  trying to do them the way my mom and older sisters used to do them has always sent me into a dither. I was the Scrooge who pestered them until they finally agreed that we didn't really need to keep buying gifts for every single person in the family, so we started drawing names. Then a couple of years ago, we switched from doing that to doing a fun version of a white elephant exchange, where you're allowed to steal someone else's gift. It makes for some riotous fun, and I'm pretty sure no one really misses shopping for three siblings and their spouses, and all their offspring's spouses and kids.

Indonesian Christmases
At our house we've developed our own traditions over the years, adjusting them periodically according to our current situation and life stage. For instance, we always liked putting in a really goofy B-grade movie on Christmas Eve, after the littles were snug in their beds. We also prefer staying in the same house together, even if it means air mattresses on the floor. And, oddly enough, we all enjoy our stockings more than our gifts. The sleeping in the same house tradition will probably not work, now that the kids both have spouse's families to consider, but that stocking thing will never change, as long as my hubby has any say in the matter. He's the one who spends the entire year shopping for special goodies to go in them! In fact, when it became obvious that our house was full to overflowing with stuff we didn't need or use, he and I made a pact to forgo giving each other gifts and just do stockings, plus one special trip or adventure we can share. I really can't remember any of the gifts I received last year, but let me tell you, I remember that trip to Cuba in fine detail, and always will!

Tuba Christmases
But, even with all this paring down, I still came off of celebrating my late October birthday, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, and spending five days at Lucky Star Art Camp, feeling this horrible sense of panic. The holidays hadn't even started and I felt I was already so far behind, I could never possibly catch up! And, I continued to feel that way until we'd made it through New Years and the two January birthdays.

Wimberley Christmases
Last year, at the end of the season, I finally said enough is enough. I refuse to feel this way ever again, but I also refuse to start planning or shopping or stressing before my birthday. Two months are more than enough to devote to this celebration! So, I made a list of everything I felt was critical to a happy holiday season, divided it up into doable batches over the weeks between my birthday on 10/28 and Hubby's on 1/1, and said "That's it! I will do no more!" Plus, I made sure that the final week, other than vital food prep, will be devoted to sitting in front of the fireplace drinking hot cocoa and other fun stuff!

Handmade Christmases

When I got home from camp a week ago, and started to feel that old sense of panic set in, I remembered to pull out that list, and immediately I felt calmer. It may need some tweaking now and then, but so far the things on the list have been quite doable. Last week's agenda was to order pies for Thanksgiving (more about that later) shop for our white elephant gifts, research our Apres-Christmas adventure, and get a few toys to donate. This week it will be to plan the food for my side of the family, who will be coming here for an early celebration on the 16th, and purchase one main gift each for my immediate family. I can do this!

Final Christmases