Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Celebrations

This is the first year in a long time that we'll be celebrating New Year's Eve at home.

It's funny how life goes through these cycles. For so many years we were young and unmarried and every New Year's needed to be celebrated with friends in a frenzied fashion. Then we got married and had a family and suddenly our New Year's celebrations became quiet simple ones, usually in bed long before midnight, knowing our children would be up early the next morning. We had no money for baby sitters or fancy nights out on the town, so I usually made us a nice dinner (sometimes I splurged on a couple little fillets!) and we would put the kids to bed and enjoy a quiet night alone. It was a good time, just the two of us with candlelight and good food.

Once the children grew old enough we began to entertain on New Year's Eve, usually having 4 or 5 couples over for a nice dinner. Our kids could go to bed and we could enjoy the company of adults for some fun and games.That lasted quite a few years.

Then the children left home and we once again found ourselves free to do what we wanted, sometimes going out with friends for dinner at a nice restaurant. These past few years we've been attending a party at a friend's house, always graciously hosted and again full of good food!

This year we were again invited to attend that party but we'll be staying at home. I happened to hit the jackpot and my ambulance squad is on duty New Year's Eve this year. So I'll be staying close to my car, ready to jump into action should someone else need help. And I don't mind. Next year we'll be back attending the annual party at our friends. But this year maybe I'll make some nice fillets.....

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Speed

It is a bit startling, the speed at which our years go by as we get older. Isn't it?

I know when my kids were growing up I thought time went quickly. But now I know what "quick" really is. A blink of an eye it seems. Was it only a year ago we were celebrating a new year with friends and gratefully approaching the 5th anniversary of my cancer treatment? And now it will be six years. Amazing and wonderful, but startling in its speed. Hard to believe it has gone so quickly.

Which makes one realize the fragile nature of life and how quickly we pass through it. As we approach another year and think about what we want to accomplish in it, I think its a good thing to remember.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Gifts

I did receive some wonderful gifts this year. I find myself more and more enjoying the simple things - a pretty scarf, a nice pin, a good book. Interesting how our hearts learn to appreciate the thought more than the gift, isn't it?

We were surprised this year by a couple deliveries just before Christmas. One was a box of nice cookies, another a beautiful poinsettia. Both were sent by people we were surprised to receive something from. And somehow that made them all the sweeter.

Interestingly enough I altered my cookie-tin giving this year a bit as well, taking off a couple names we no longer really see much and adding some new friends at the end of the list. I felt sad over the fact that some people e no longer spend much time with but smiled over the newer names that have filled out lives with laughter. It is nice to make new friends but  do miss the old ones.

Yes, Christmas - and life - really is about the simple things. We need to hold them close to our hearts, those people and those small moments of joy. At Christmas and all through the year.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Family

Having grandkids here in the house over Christmas is the best. Some years it happens and some it doesn't, but when it does I'm so happy. All those years of Christmas being about children makes it hard to adjust to life without them at times like this.


I love the excitement that children bring to life. There is a wonder, an innocence, a joy that only happens with children. They make us feel young again and they help us recall our own years of holiday magic, and we love that.

Yes, I'm enjoying the fun this year, and I honestly think ever Christmas that includes children is amazing. Thankfully with 10 grandchildren I doubt I'll run out of them anytime soon.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

Aftermath

OK so the presents are unwrapped, the leftovers packed, and at least one visit to the dump is on tap for today. 'Tis the day after Christmas and all through the house is a pretty big mess!

I love the tradition of Boxing Day that they celebrate in England. It's the day after Christmas and its the day they visit friends with gifts and raise a glass to friendship and love. I think that's a great idea. It seems as though the holiday needs to be extended.

This year is especially nice because of the way Christmas falls on a Thursday. Most businesses, at least office type businesses, will be closed today, and then Saturday and Sunday, meaning a very nice, long weekend to make Christmas last a long time. Next weekend with New Year's Day on a Thursday is the same. What a great year!

I like the holidays to last as long as possible. All this good cheer is good for the soul.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

I hope this day finds you content and at peace
in the knowledge that the love that came to 
earth at Christmas is still here...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Candlelight

Tonight is one of my favorite services at church - any church = the Christmas Eve candlelight service.

When we were kids my mother always took us to the one at St.Luke's. I'm not sure why. I know we didn't have one at our own church, which was very small and we had to travel to get there, so I understand wanting to go somewhere in the village where we lived. But why she chose that particular church I don't know, since I think the other three protestant churches also had them, and one was right across the street from our house so we could have walked over there. Perhaps it was the building she was drawn to,  I have no idea. But whatever the reason, that's where we went. And I still remember the thrill of walking out into the cold night with my little candle still lighted. I don't know if they still do it that way but at my own church we blow our candles out and leave them in baskets on our way out the door and that's too bad. I loved seeing the trail of little candles floating through the night and out to the cars at St. Luke's.

Christmas is all about memories when you get to my age. Oh I still treasure every minute of every year, especially the past 6 since I've been given this gift of more holidays post-cancer. But the memories from those early Christmases are still very clear in my mind, almost as though they were made only last year. I treasure every one of them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Working

Today is a work day and I can't wait for the end of it because the family will be arriving from PA later this afternoon. and of course it will be the last work day in a week, which is nice too!

I start my day at the hospital which will probably be slow today. I find that more people don't want to be at the hospital over the holidays so if there is any way to put off or avoid being there, they will. Test can be put off until after the first of the year, after all! So I think it will be quiet there today.

From there I go to the church office though, and there is no doubt it will not be slow there. I have many bulletins to print, fold, and stuff, and I think I'll be happy to get that work done.

The back to Village Hall to check in and make sure nothing is needed there. There could be checks to sign, and besides, there are so many goodies there these days it certainly is worth a stop! It will probably be my lunch today, cookies and candy!

The home to wait for the family to arrive. I need to make something yummy for dinner. Hmmmm....

Monday, December 22, 2014

Lunch

Today is my last Christmas "duty" - a luncheon I put on for some colleagues as a way of thanking them for their hard work all year. I've been doing this every year for some time now so I'm in a pretty easy routine, but it is still work so as much as I enjoy it, it will be nice when it's over. As with all entertaining, I love doing it, I enjoy the company, and when its over I'm relieved!

This morning I need to get the dessert finished, make the main dish, set the table, and make sure the house is clean. They'll be arriving at noon and I should have plenty of time to get it all done.

Later this afternoon my three granddaughters are coming with their dads to make a special crafty gift for their moms for Christmas day. No doubt it will be challenging and fun and I look forward to it. I'll make sure to get some photos to have for the sake of history!

The countdown is on.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Small town

Today I'm looking forward to some small town fun for Christmas.

First we head to my daughter's church to see her kids perform in their Christmas program. I always love watching kids in Christmas programs - I mean, what's better than that? They are always in their best fancy clothes, they always look angelic, there's always at least one or two who don't want to cooperate and make it fun to watch. And there are always a few "stars" that shine bright and give us a glimpse of their futures. And we get to hear the Christmas story in perfectly simple terms. There's nothing not to like about the annual church children's program no matter where the church or who the children.

In the early afternoon we will work on getting gifts tagged and sorted. The we'll head to an open house party at some friends' where we'll get to see and spend time with lots of people we like, all while enjoying their great food.

In the evening we're going to attend a program at a neighboring church titled "Home For Christmas". It will include choral and instrumental music and lots of Christmas cheer.

I'd say it will be a perfect Sunday for celebrating Christmas. Can't wait.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hustle

Most people don't think about the places that are incredibly stressful to work in during the holidays. Many businesses are slower than usual and this is a calm time of the year at work. But not so everyplace.

I've worked in different church offices a total of 10 years now and I can tell you, its not my favorite place to be during the holidays. There are literally hundreds of bulletins to get typed, printed, folded, and sorted in the week before Christmas and it seems as though people add to the stress by being more demanding and odd than every, most probably due to the stress they are feeling for various reasons. Fortunately working with people I like has always made the job tolerable in the worst of times so we manage to get through these days with smiles and grace.

But the other day I ran into my favorite florist's shop and realized their stress is more than ours! They not only don't get to enjoy the holiday, they work harder than anyone other than a church staff! The place was bustling when I stopped in. I enjoyed walking around and looking at the beautiful decorations they had put together for the season and it surely put me in the holiday spirit, but not so much them I fear! They were clearly busy and more than a little stressed.

I'm sure I could come up with many places that are stressful to work during this time of the year - our many years in retail certainly comes to mind! But at the end of the day its up to us to make sure Christmas isn't lost in the hustle of it all. Because that, after all, is what its all about.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A week

A week from today it will all be over but the clean up. I see a trip to the dump early in the day, where wrapping paper and boxes will be overflowing in everyone's garbage bags.

Well its not really over though. In many ways that's the beginning of a nice week of holiday celebrations. My family will be here and we'll be getting together a lot to just have fun, sitting around the table or living room and enjoying the company. The kids will be busy with their toys and we'll be watching them - the bet entertainment of all.

This is a particularly nice year because of the way the holiday falls on a Thursday. Most everybody has the two Friday's off following Christmas and New Year's so it makes for a nice long break. My daughter's family will be here a whole week and that alone is worth smiling about. We may even travel to PA after they go back since there is time to play before the work begins again.

Yes, in a week the big day will be over. But the fun will still be on!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Starting gate

I feel as though I'm just at the starting gate now for Christmas. The gifts are wrapped and the cookie tins are distributed and now I can concentrate on the final preparation.

Saturday is our annual Christmas party and every year I wish I had a bigger house. We began this tradition about ten years ago - maybe more now - and we have a sit down dinner for some good friends who have entertained us throughout the year. Every year I wish my house were bigger because we are so constrained by the size of the house and can't expand to include some newer friends we've accumulated over the years, or any of the family people we love, and after all if you're cooking for 20 its not that much harder to cook for 40. I love doing the party but I do wish I could invite more people.

Anyway, that's always the Saturday before Christmas so I have that coming this weekend. Then on Monday I have a luncheon for the ladies who work at Village Hall. Its another fun time and I love having them over, but its a big event for me because it involves cooking and decorating, setting a nice table etc. So that's on my countdown list. Those are the last events I need to get done and then its all downhill from there. Monday afternoon we'll get the wrapped gifts out of the attic, put tags on them, and sort them out. Tuesday my daughter and her family arrive from PA and Wednesday is Christmas Eve - I'm so ready for the fun to begin..

I actually just bought some gifts for next Christmas. So I've already gotten a good start.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Distribution

Today I distribute my Christmas cookies. I wonder how many people who will receive them actually understand that work that went into them.

I begin at Thanksgivng and I bake every chance I get. I bake in the evenings, I bake on free mornings, I bake on the weekends. And I bake until I've made a dozen different types of cookies to stuff into cookie tins and give away to the people we work with. We like to acknowledge the folks who make our every day lives pleasant and productive. And this is the way we do it.

Of course I say "we" with a smile since my husband does none of the work on this. I remember fondly my uncle who worked side by side with my aunt, chopping nuts, slicing cookies, basically being her literal right hand man as she made here Christmas cookies every year. Ah.... I could use an assistant like that!

I think I may begin grooming my granddaughter for the job. She's a cookie baking lover and always wants to make some when she comes. She may be the perfect assistant for this job, but it may be a couple years. She' only four this year. I'm thinking the age of six might just be prefect....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cookies

Tonight I will bake the last of my Christmas cookies for distribution tomorrow. It's always a huge relief to get that job done. But at the same time I enjoy doing it.

There's great satisfaction in giving people you care about something you make yourself. And I've been making them since Thanksgiving weekend, slowly filling the freezer with bags of all different varieties, shapes, and sizes. It started many years ago when I couldn't afford to buy the gifts I wanted to give to co-workers and good friends, and now, although buying something would be cheaper and easier, it would seem less personal. Because these are labors of love representing weeks of work and equal amounts of care. Only special people get them.

Well tonight the last batch will be baked and tomorrow morning I'll lay out the cookie tins and fill them all, adding tags and packing them into bags to distribute. And then, it will be over or another year.

It must be almost Christmas...

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Harbor

I'm pretty crazy about Sag Harbor.

When I drive down Main Street there I feel at home. Not that I've ever lived there, but the fact that it looks pretty much the same as it did when I was a child makes it feel like home. I love the small town feel and the simple shops and little alleys. Oh I know its rapidly changing, and people are trying to keep it as it is, but the restaurants alone show the signs of the times. They are all new (no more Paradise of the 1960s), slick and trendy. With the exception of The Corner Bar, none of them feel like the place I grew up anymore.

But I love that crossing the street doesn't involve taking one's life in one's hand. It's fairly easy to accomplish and not really terrifying at all.And of course the historic homes all along the tiny streets are especially wonderful. I love their fancy porches and lovely facades.

I think the redevelopment of the old watch case factory has really peaked my love for the place. For so many years that decrepit building made driving into Sag Harbor a bit sad and depressing. It seemed that it was uncared for and crumbling around the people who lived around it. But now, with new life and beautiful  brickwork appearing where there was once an abandoned building, it feels vital and alive and that makes a huge difference. Suddenly Sag Harbor beckons me. I want to live in that building, where I could walk to church at Old Whalers, go for dinner at The Corner, and wander to the waterfront to dream of bygone days when hundreds of tall ships' masts filled the sky.

Yes, Sag Harbor is the place to be right now. Seeing the redevelopments happening to all its beautiful old houses makes me wonder how long the love affair will last though...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

More

Yesterday I left early for a meeting in Southampton and in the early light was enjoying more of the holiday decorations around town. It was dark enough that most of the lights were still on, although the sun was coming up. Right away I noticed that the library had some pretty wreaths on the front windows, still lit up and so pretty. They had big red wreaths and made that old Tudor building look very stately.

In Bridgehampton there was a really nice tree outside one of the Inns and the Main Street was so peaceful in the early light.

But the one that surprised me the most was the gas station as I was coming in to Southampton. It's the small white building on the left where you turn to go to the hospital. It has two large windows on either side of the center door, with divided lights that give it a little character. There were two huge wreaths that nearly covered those windows and the white twinkling lights were still on. It was a really nice display for a small business and I appreciated the effort.

Sometimes the holidays really bring out the best in some of the most surprising places.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Main Street

It still thrills me driving down Main Street at Christmas.

Last night I came home after dark and as I turned the corner at the pond I began to look for each special display. There was the tree in the pond all in blue. There was Mulford Farm and Home Sweet Home - the Schellinger mill beautifully lit against the black of night. The 1770 House has a beautiful tree all in white now, as well as the bushes on either side of the entrance. Both Clinton Academy and Osborne Jackson House have twin potted plants at their doors, each with lots of lights. And of course the trees along the commercial district.

I like the way the roping is swagged along the picket fence at Village Hall. And I love some of the window displays.

Of course Hook Mill can be seen all the way from Hunting Lane with its arms ablaze. And The Mill House B&B is wonderfully done.

The large tree behind the cemetery is gone this year, the victim of age, but there is a smaller one in its place and it will be fun to see that one grow.

Every year much the same. And that is, I think, the best part of all.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Windows

I mentioned window displays in my recent blog and it made me think about the holiday displays of my childhood - quite different from the ones in East Hampton today.

My favorite store during Christmas was, of course, the toy store on Main Street. I particularly remember the year the Chatty Cathy doll came out. It was amazing! A talking doll! How was that possible? Not only did we drool over it in the widow that Christmas, we would go inside and if we asked nicely the man would take it off the high shelf he had it safely tucked away on, and he would pull the string, just once, to let is listen to her speak. Wow! We could hardly believe it! If course it wasn't in the cards for us to get those that year (or any year for that matter!). After all, there were three girls in our family and I think they were about $20 each, a hefty price in the early 1060s!

Diamonds Furniture Store always had a nice Christmas tree in their window, set in a living room which looked cozy and inviting with the beautiful new couch and chairs and colorful area rug. It was always a much fancier living room than we had with our threadbare carpeting and chairs with shredded arms.

I remember thee windows in the East End Hardware store because there were always sleds and skates in that window. And Fifth Avenue Fashion with the mannequins all dressed up in their sparkly holiday dresses. Of course Ross Fanning Jewelers was exciting because I loved the pretty necklaces and bracelets there.

Yes, the windows were always inviting at Christmas. Not as fancy as the ones we have today, with their professionally window dressers who spend two days loading in the designs done somewhere in an office by designers who probably have never even visited East Hampton. They're stunningly beautiful for sure with their snow scenes and special lighting. But those windows back in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s remain in my memory as the real beauties. They may not have been as fancy, but they were totally East Hampton.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lights

The lights of the holidays are magic. I look forward to it every year.

Last week when I left choir at 9:00 it was the first time I'd been on Main Street after dark since the lights were on. I love the fact that they have combined small white lights with larger colored ones on the street trees this year. It adds an extra bit of twinkle I think and I like the way it looks.

The mills are not all done yet, but Hook was alight and looking regal as always. And the shop windows on Main Street are really something to see. Ralph Lauren obviously spares no expense when it comes to their windows and it shows. Others may not be quite as elaborate but still they add to the festive air.

Of course I always love the tree in the middle of Town Pond, still clothed in blue lights for those who are still grieving for the days of all blue along the village streets.

We're having some technical difficulties with our outside tree this year and I'll be sad if it isn't lighted, but sometimes there just isn't time to handle it all. If not this year, it will be redone for Christmas 2015 for sure. It's become a Christmas staple down hook.

Yes, it really is all about the lights at Christmas, perfectly representative of the light in the darkness that is the Christmas story.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Home

The minister preached about the draw of home at Christmas in church last Sunday morning. And I was thinking a lot about that this week.

I don't think if I were living someplace else I would necessarily be longing for the house I grew up in at this time of the year. I would be thinking about East Hampton though.

My experience is so different than many because I never left home. My childhood house is still right here next door and it has changed so much inside that there is little to remind me of my childhood. Of course our memories are always more accurate than reality, right? (a little sarcasm there)

But not much has changed about the way East Hampton looks during the holidays. In fact if anything its better now, with more lights and fancier window displays than the ones I remember so well. It is a picture postcard of small town America and a perfect representation of what we all want to experience at this time of the year.

I think for people who leave their homes in their early adulthood, that draw of home is very strong ever year at this time. But for me, having never left, I don't feel that the same way. I long for the days when my children were small and I could enjoy the wonder in their faces and the love of our little family gathered around the tree. But that was always followed with a visit to my own childhood home where my parents still lived, right next door. I think I have been especially blessed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Storm

Today is our first nor'easter of the season and hopefully it won't be a bad one.they're predicting heavy rain and high winds all day, which is not something to look forward to on what is a day I expect to spend time on the road.

Nobody minds bad weather if they're stuck inside, right? But when we have to be outside, or are traveling, or have special plans, bad weather can be a drag for sure.

This morning I drive to Southampton to work at the hospital, then to Sag Harbor to work, then back to East Hampton for an interview at village hall. Tonight we have to go out to watch our grandson sing I his classes holiday concert. So all that means I'll be needing a good raincoat and driving could be messy.

There's not much point in complaining about the weather since it's all outside anyone's control, but it definately takes some planning to work with. Today I need a plan. Time to work on my wardrobe.

Monday, December 8, 2014

More of the same

Another busy week ahead. As long as I'm filling in for my superior in government here in the village I'm going to be busy. Not because those duties are so overwhelming but because I'm doing them in addition to the other things I do. Were I doing this all the time I would no doubt drop some of my other duties!

It's OK though, I'm enjoying the fun, but don't be surprised if I miss a blog here and there.

Yesterday I was honored to participate in the lighting of the Hospice tree at Herrick Park. The mayor always welcomes everyone to this event and then reads some of the names of those departed this past year. I remember going to this event the year my mother died and I still hang that ornament on my tree every year so I know how much it meant to everyone who attended.

Some of these duties are especially meaningful and a special joy for me to carry out. Yesterday was one of them.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Duties

OK so I missed another day. I wasn't kidding when I said I was in the midst of a busy time here.

Yesterday I had a couple official duties to carry out as the mayor continues his medical leave and I step in to his shoes for a few weeks. In the morning it was the Santa Parade.


Now - let me clarify by saying I have not attended the Santa Parade in years here. For so many years I was either a participant (high school band, for instance) or the parent of a participant and I suffered through some freezing cold mornings standing in the winter wind  for the Santa Parade. I've seen the route change over the years from west to east to the present south to north. I've watched as floats (who could forget the mermaid in the glass box advertising the pool company all those years ago?) were replaced by walking groups like this years boy scouts - dressed like wrapped gifts - and the high school marching band morphed into the high school jazz band.

But once I no longer had to attend, I didn't, knowing full well that the grandchildren will be participating soon enough and I will once again be standing in the freezing cold as the parade passes by.

But since the mayor is always part of the parade, this year I had to get myself there. The morning dawned wet and warm - unseasonably warm really. The rain stopped in time for us to walk without getting wet, but the normal crowds stayed away and there were few people lining the streets to cheer the kids on.

Well, I fulfilled my duty. And I'm glad its over.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Again

Once again, a let post. Oy....my life right now!

Another busy day that started very early and is ending very late. And the weekend to come looks like more of the same. But I will not complain!

If I learned anything five years ago, it's that I will never again complain about being busy. Because it's only when we are healthy and feel good that we can be busy. So being busy is the sign of a blessed life.  And if this week has been any indication, I am very blessed.

No....no complaints here.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Schedules

As I mentioned last night, my schedule is complicated right now. I'm filling in for a colleague which means doing a number of things that are not normal for me to do, as well as keeping up with my regular job and volunteer work, and this during the busiest time of the year.

In addition to the things that have filled my schedule, I'm trying to find the time to bake Christmas cookies, make candy for gifts, wrap what's left of the Christmas presents up in the spare room, and I have not yet decorated my house. The tree is up, but none of the other holiday decor is out. Even hanging stockings is a big job around here because there are twenty of them and it takes some planning to get it right.

So, this is the season of schedules. I'm busy trying to keep mine. My guess is that you are too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Long day

I just got home from a very long day. Nothing bad and certainly nothing traumatic going on, just a busy time right now and I've been up and running since 7am.. And when I arrived home tonight a few minutes ago, there was a message from someone who wanted to know why there was no blog and make sure everything was OK. Now that was a treat!

It's nice to know that even over many miles, and in this world of high tech and much less personal everything, we can still touch each other's lives in such a simple way.

I'm pleased that I can report nothing wrong. And equally pleased that someone cared!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Crazy

This is the month I work hard at not making myself crazy. There is so much to do and so few weeks to do it all that we run the constant risk of becoming overwhelmed with it all. I try hard not to.

I plan my weeks carefully. I fill the pages of my calendar with the things I need to do and I try to keep it all manageable. Because I don't like to feel out of control or stressed and I want to enjoy the glorious things there are to see and do here over this, the most glorious time of the year. I don't want to miss a thing but I also need to be in control! I've learned balance in December!

There is too much to enjoy to make myself crazy. Life in December is full of good things. Time to enjoy them all!

Monday, December 1, 2014

40 years

Yesterday was our 40th wedding anniversary and it really made me think about the two kids that walked down the aisle together all those many years ago. Forty years! Wow.

When we're young we have so many ideas about what our lives will be life - who we'll share them with, what they'll be made up of, how we'll live them. And so few of those actually become reality. I mean, we think we know what we want when we're sixteen or seventeen, but what do we really know? Not much I dare say. We think we're so smart! We're so not!

I understand why people who marry young don't always make it. But I also understand why people who marry young can last the longest in their relationships. I think we can do one of two things: we can grow apart or we can grow together. And in many ways that's a choice. Because when we marry before we're thirty years old, we are going to change. We're still growing up! And whether or not we grow together will determine whether or not we stay together.

Of course that's a generality and there are always circumstances beyond people's control. I had a dear friend who would have been loyal to the end had her husband not developed a drinking problem that made her life unbearable. She had to leave. Things happen that aren't always our fault. But overall I think we do have choices along the way. Our choices decide our lives. Fate is a concept I don't really believe in.

For better or worse, I'm still here forty years later, and so is he. Maybe its all about commitment after all.