Thursday, December 31, 2015

Babysitting

Tonight, New Years Eve, brings up so many memories.

First it was years of babysitting. All the way into high school I spent my New Years Eve nights babysitting for other people. I always stayed awake long enough to watch the ball drop at midnight, but then, as the night wore on, I found it more and more difficult to stay awake. I have a very strong memory of sleeping in a red leather lounge chair in a living room on Meadow Way where I worked regularly. I remember them waking me up for the ride home.

I didn't have any great memories of romantic celebrations as a young woman. In fact, one year when I was about 19 I got a phone call at the last minute from someone I'd had a rush on for years, asking if I had plans for New Years. My heart soared thinking that he had finally decided it was time to connect with me. But as it turned out, he was looking for someone to go with him, his girlfriend, and her brother who did not have a date. He said this guy was a bit socially inept and he knew I would be kind to him. That about sums up my "romantic" years. They didn't really exist. In retrospect I am flattered that I got that phone call. I may not have been anyone's idea of a date for themselves, but at least they thought of me when they were looking for someone kind and sensitive. I'm OK with it now.

So, here we are at the dawn of a new year. I am more than thrilled to be around to see 2016...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The pond

There is nothing quite like coming into East Hampton and turning the corner from Woods Lane on to Main Street. Of course, arriving in East Hampton actually happens a few miles before that, but there is something about that pond that makes it home.

Perhaps it's because now you are in the center of town, where it all began over 370 years ago. The early settlers knew what they were doing. They set up shop perpendicular to the ocean, not parallel to it, where flooding and storms would take their toll. No, they were too smart for that. Which is why the Bennetts and Talmages and Hedges don't own oceanfront property. They were way to smart for that!

Yes, the pond signals that we have arrived,just as it has for many, many years. It is the scene that dreams are made of. Dreams of servicemen serving overseas, and college students far from home. And of the many native sons and daughters that have had to move to points far afield from here. There is something about the pond. And Main Street. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that very little has changed in a very long time. The homes are still pretty much the same, with Home Sweet Home and the beautiful churches standing guard. No, not much has changed here, at least not at the entrance to the village. So whether you live in the Springs, or Amagansett, or any other part of East Hampton, it's Town Pond that defines home. And it's always good to be here...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Games

One of the things I love about being at my daughter's in Pennsylvania is the games.

The kids here are pretty limited in their time on electronics. They spend a lot of time outside and they play lots of board games as a family. So when we visit I love playing games with the kids. When they were younger the variety was a bit more limited. But now that they're all over the age of ten we get to play things that are a bit more challenging. On this trip it's been rummikub, which we've played before, and a new one they got for Christmas called bananagram. It involves making words with your tiles, all connected like a crossword. It's challenging and good exercise for the brain so I enjoyed it. I have no one to play games with at home since my husband has no interest in it, so when I'm here I love getting lots of game time in. With all the potential partners it's not difficult.

My next husband will definitely be a gamer. Hopefully not a gambler, but most definitely someone who'll play a game at the kitchen table now and again....

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Away

Well, best laid plans.

Usually when I'm away from home I blog at night when I get into the so,it use of my room. Last night I got snuggled in about 9:30 and took out my iPad ready to recount the day's trip and celebration with the family "from away" only to discover I couldn't get onto my daughter's Internet. No longer dressed appropriately, and too tired anyway, I resisted the urge to traipse back downstairs to figure out what the necessary password was and read the NY Times that I'd brought along with me instead.

It was our best trip ever yesterday. We got off nice and early while most people were still sleeping off the holiday and We made record time. The roads on Long Island were fairly empty and we were on Staten Island in two hours. Traffic was heavier on the Jersey Turnpike, but we never slowed down and it seemed like no time at all before we were in Pennsylvania. We were even able to make a couple quick stops along the way to take advantage of the after-Christmas sales st Walmart, etc. more Christmas lights to bring home for next year's celebration! Yippee!

The time here always goes too quickly but we're grateful for the time we get. I may get a chance to blog again before we leave. Or not. We shall see....

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a wonderful day
with many blessings and lots of love!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Done

So...the gifts are all wrapped and tagged, the house is (fairly) clean, the errands are completed and the cooking is done....I think we're ready for Christmas.

Today is still a busy day, but it's all good. I'm babysitting this morning, going to my daughters for Christmas Eve family time 1:00, heading to church at 5, then home to make sure the stockings are filled and ready for the kids to arrive tomorrow. Phew! We are ready!

Tomorrow will be a day of celebration for the great gift of the baby Jesus, of fun with the family, of a it of melancholy  for those no longer on earth with us and those far away, but for the most part laughter and love. It truly is the best time of the year.

Now....if only we could order up a nice light snowfall.....

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Entertaining

My biggest frustration with the holidays is simply that they don't last long enough. I think we need to move Thanksgiving back into October so we'll have two months to celebrate.

Every year I wish I had more time for entertaining. I love having people over during the holidays, and I just don't have enough to time to do it all. I do one large dinner party for old friends and one luncheon for my colleagues at village hall. But that leaves a lot of people out! I want to have a family party that includes all my nieces and nephews, and a dinner party for newer friends, and maybe an open house for so many people whose lives touch ours all during the year. If only I had a larger house, I could have them all at the same time! But alas, it is what it is, and I simply can't manage to get it all done at once. It's one of the frustrations of the season.

Today I will be done with my entertaining, with the exception of course of Christmas Day when my nuclear family will all be here. And then, I look forward to being with friends for New Years Eve, not entertaining myself, but enjoying the hospitality of others. And that will be a treat for sure.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Rain?

It would be nice
to see a light snow today instead of this rain. Call me crazy, but I love seeing a little snow on the ground!

Oh I'm not talking about a considerable accumulation or a blizzard-there is way too much to get done now, and far too many folks hitting the road this week. But a light coating, enough to cover the world in a lovely white throw, would be very welcome in my book. It is Christmas, after all!

I am feeling pretty much ready for Friday at this point, but a new cold has me feeling less than 100% and I would be happy to be able to simply veg on the couch, but that's just not possible. I'm even supposed to be singing at church on Christmas Eve, and that's in question at this point I'm not giving up yet, and I've been faithfully taking Zinc pills every three hours "as directed", but I'm not sure it will do the trick. We'll see!

Somehow the times I feel the need to lay back and not do anything never come at convenient times.

Well here we are. There are two days left to get things done. There is NO time for sitting down now!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Tradition

Last night as our annual viewing of my favorite Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life". Every year we watch it and every year it puts me in the Christmas spirit totally. It's a tale of  great gift given to a very deserving man named George Bailey. At a low point in his life, when he is contemplating suicide, he is given the ability to glimpse the world as it would have been had he never been born.

This year we invited the grandchildren and their parents to join us for the screening, and I was pleased at how interested they were in it. After all, it is set in the year 1928 nod is in bulk & whit, so I wasn't sure children of the age of technology would be engaged by it. But they were. A will admit to dozing off myself for about ten minutes due to some very short nights recently, but I was full awake for the final scene, always my favorite.

Now, I'm really ready for Christmas....

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Decor

I'm trying to find a label for our Christmas decor. Some people have decorations you could describe as "modern", or "Victorian", maybe "traditional" for some. But mine is more on the "eclectic" side of things.

I used to think that some day I would have the perfect, classy decor for my house. Once the children were grown I pull decide on a theme and go out and buy all new ornaments and hangings for the house, very classy and well coordinated. But that never happened. Because there were grandchildren. And there were memories. And there were artifacts. So every Christmas, we drag out the same old boxes with the unbreakable ornaments, the mementos of Christmases past, things my kids made in kindergarten, the piece we bought on our honeymoon....

I don't care so much now about having beautiful decor for the holidays. I mean, it would be nice, and it would look lovely I know. But somehow the comfort that comes with those old things, and the joy of letting the grand kids help decorate because they can't do any harm, well...at the end of the day, Christmas is all about love now, isn't it?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Around town

Last night we were driving around after dark and even in the rain the Christmas lights looked beautiful.

I love the fact that people are doing more and more with single-color light strands. There's a beautiful tree heavily covered with red lights that sits in front of the Whitmore complex on the way to Amagansett. So far this year I've seen trees decked out in lavender, blue, white, and now...red. They're all equally nice.

Driving through Southampton after dark recently I saw a really well done tree in very dark, purple lights. It was really lovely. But because we were sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic moving west, I realized that about every minute or two the entire tree slowly morphed from purple to a deep red-rust color. I don't know if it changed into any other colors because we moved out of sight too quickly, but in any case it was really pretty. Obviously it is a new type of LED light strand and it is
very effective.

It seems as though every year there are new styles and new ideas out there and every year the displays bring joy to everyone here on the east end. Especially me!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Phew!

I got a lot done yesterday. And I feel better today. Because this time of the year is full of stress and worry if you get behind at all!

I live with lists. Every day this week I have a list of places to be and things to get done. All my lists lead up to this weekend and then I can breath. Then I can skate right to Christmas Day. I can enjoy the next couple weeks with few commitments and no schedules. The hustle and bustle will be past and I can look forward to a few weeks of quiet, knitting by the fire and watching the snow fall.

Well, that's my fantasy in any case. Maybe the snow will fall, and maybe I'll be able to sit inside and watch it. If I'm not on ambulance duty....or have meetings to go to....or whatever. In any case I look forward to January. I'm ready for it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Deliveries

I love making deliveries at Christmas. I love giving gifts and visiting with people as I deliver them to various friends and family. This year the fun will be stretched out a little longer since we'll be traveling to see family the day after Christmas, which means more deliveries to enjoy.

When we were kids my aunt and uncle from upstate came to spend every Christmas with us here in East Hampton. I still remember the excitement of watching them unload their car when they arrived, carefully transporting the beautifully wrapped gifts into the house and under the tree. My aunt did beautiful ribbon treatments on her gifts, wrapping and manipulating it into wonderful bows, or even ribbon flowers. They were special gifts under the tree and we knew that whether we liked them or not, they were chosen carefully with a great deal of care.

I'm not sure my grand kids get as much of a thrill out of our gifts as volume alone makes mine much more assembly-line style than my aunt's were. But they are still chosen with care...and packaged with a great deal of love.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tick tock

Well it's already been a long week and it's barely begun...

The holidays are always busy. My days are scheduled hourly and each one is full up until Christmas Day. Then the day after we'll head to Pennsylvania for some much needed R & R.

So the days are busy. Suddenly having a sad occasion thrown into the mix has made things even more  challenging. Last night we drove into Nassau County for a wake, and then back again today for the funeral. I've been working on shaking the blues ever since getting home.

Tomorrow I'll be up early and heading to the grocery store at 7. And then the next crazy day has begun. But honestly, now that I can turn my mind once again to the glory of the season, I think I'll be more than up to the challenge. Time for celebrating and enjoying what's to come. And I'm definitely up for that!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Bells

Yesterday morning at church we heard the story behind the Christmas hymn "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day". The author of the poem that the hymn was written from was a man of faith who suffered great loss: two wife's died and then his son was badly wounded in the Civil War. He wrote the poem in a state of grief and loss. And yet he ends it with a message of hope and promise. His faith shining through the darkest times.

Then later in the afternoon we received the news that the adult daughter of friends had succumbed to the breast cancer she had been battling with for the past 6 years. What a horrible loss during the normally cheerful holidays. It was a juxtaposition that could not be ignored.

I cannot imagine the loss of a child. I have, however, experienced loss around the holidays. And just as Henry Wadsworth Longworth did back in the 1860s, I found myself buoyed by my faith and encouraged during such a time because of that faith.

It was a sobering, and yet uplifting, day.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lights

For years now we've had a pretty Japanese maple tree in the front yard and some time ago my husband covered it in white lights for Christmas, a la Tavern on the Green. When we first did it there was no other like it in town and every year we added a few more strands, to the point where it was really beautiful, and I looked forward to seeing it on every Christmas. If there was snow on the ground it was especially beautiful.

Last year, because the lights remained on for so long, the connections began to fray as the tree was growing and putting a strain on all the wires. So....no tree. I missed it so much. And this year we were faced with the issue of what to do. The problem with trying to restring the tree is that it would literally take thousands of lights. Since we added them year by year it didn't hurt so much as we went along, but the idea of buying all this lights set us back on our heels a bit.

The other issue is that there are now many trees around town that are covered in white lights, and it's no longer much of a unique display. I'd like to think they are all copies of ours, but I imagine we weren't the only ones who enjoyed Tavern on the Green when we went into NYC? Those trees were quite stunning!

So yesterday we tried something new. We (and I use the term "we" loosely here since I didn't do very much) wrapped the pillars on the front porch with greens and lights and continued them up to the peak of the small porch roof. That, along with the lighted wreath on the front door, will hopefully help to fill that empty space in my heart where our beautiful lighted maple tree was. Because I still miss it.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Touring

Last night was our final walking tour of the Main Street historic district for the year 2015. I always enjoy them.

I've been assisting with these tours for quite a few years now and, since I am a minor player in this show, I mostly get to go along and listen. Hugh King, who is the real character in this play, is such a wealth of information and I learn something new every time we do it.

My role is small. I come in costume, right out of the 1800s, and carry a flashlight to assist with every one's footing in the tricky areas. Occasionally I add a few words about one of the places we stop, leading the way on the information about the history of the Presbyterian Church, for instance. But other than that, Its all Hugh's wit and wisdom that makes the night.

Last night we were blessed with warm weather and clear skies and it was a really nice way to spend a little time, walking around beautiful East Hampton Main Street, reliving history and learning about the lives our ancestors lived. What could be better than that?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Calendar

I had to get my new calendar out this morning. I received an email notice of a meeting on January 6th. My first entry.

Now I'm committed to sitting down and going through my 2015 calendar to transfer birthdays, anniversaries, regular meetings and other scheduled things into my new one, lest I forget something important in the next year. I think that is a job for later this afternoon when I get home from my day's activities. Time to put my feet up and rest before venturing out again tonight. I enjoy going through the calendar really as I am able to relive some highlights and enjoy some of the special times we had this past year. The older I get the more I enjoy those memories. When I was young I was too fixated on the future and not enough on the present. Now the present is all important and the past a comfort. One of the interesting things about aging. Not that I don't look forward to the future, of course - otherwise I wouldn't bother with the whole calendar thing! Every birthday we celebrate is a special occasion. Its just that at my age we know our future is uncertain and we live for the moment as much as possible.

So by tonight my new calendar will be placed on the kitchen counter right underneath my present one, where I can begin writing in the things to come in such a short time. How quickly the years fly by.

New calendars mark new, empty pages, waiting to be filled with the stuff of life. I look forward to that very much.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Long days

When I talk to my tired daughters-in-law who are dealing with little ones I often repeat the wisdom of the ages that with children in the house "the days are long but the years are short". And I have come to realize that this saying really applies to all of life, not only raising children. At least at certain times in life.

And this is one of them.

My days are very busy right now and they are flying by. I know I'm going to turn round and suddenly it's going to be February.

Today I hope to finish the decorating inside the house, but I have to squeeze it in between my meetings and rehearsals, and squad duty tonight. Yikes.

Yes, the days are long, but they really do pass quickly when we're busy. Mine certainly are.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Lagging

I am definitely lagging behind in terms of the seasonal decor in my house this year. The tree is up, but that's about it, and I'm beginning to think if the rest isn't done soon I may as well forget about it. Christmas is bearing down on us now.

I am going to make a real effort to get the greens and hangings and Christmas pillows out of the attic this afternoon and bring a little more cheer inside. Somehow without these little memories and seasonal touches it's inhibiting me from truly getting into the mental aspect of the holiday. I'm just feeling it as much as usual, and I want to. Isn't it amazing what a few decorations and a little glitter can do? But it's true. The more gold, silver, red, and green the better as far as I'm concerned. Time to get things going here for sure.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dot

Ive been thinking a lot about my mother-in-law lately, probably because this is the date she was born back in 1921.

I wish that I could think about her, along with my own parents, without regrets, but I never can. It seems that some of my memories of parents have to do with things I wish I hadn't done, or said to them, or with wishing I'd had more patience with them at the end of their lives, or done more for them when I was able to. Those regrets haunt me, and yet I realize I probably have fewer than some people. That fact really doesn't matter because the times I wasn't as kind, or loving, or giving as I should have been are very sharp in my mind. I remember them better than I remember the times I went out of my way for them, or did something especially nice. I'm sure those occasions happened. But the negatives certainly eclipse the positives in my own mind.

My mother-in-law was a wonderful person. I wish I had told her that ore often. I hate having regrets.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Be merry

It is sometimes difficult when listening to the news to keep the "merry" in our Christmas. What is there to be merry about anyway?

Well this is the time of year when we need to work hard to keep our priorities in order. We need to remember that even in the worst of times, and there have been plenty of those throughout history, there have been those who have been able to make us see the good in humanity, and also remind us of the fact that we are only travelers in this world, passing through to a better place.

It is interesting that in this time of fear and anxiety over the things and people of the Middle East, that we are preparing to celebrate similar refugees from long ago, looking for a safe place to shelter while they bring their son into this strife-filled world. And the world needed that baby, who would go back n the change it forever.

Interesting indeed.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Advent

Growing up in a "low" church, we didn't talk much about the seasons of the church calendar. I rarely heard mention of things like lent, ordinary time, or advent. It was an education for me to join a higher church as an adult and learn about some of the "rules" that come with following a more traditional church year, and I have come to really appreciate the season of  advent.

As the advent wreath was placed in front of the sanctuary right after Thanksgiving, I immediately began to contemplate the weeks to come. As each Sunday comes along, and each new candle is lit, I think about the series of events that led to the miracle we call Christmas. It is a wonderful time of anticipation and preparation, leading to a great time of celebration. In fact, in this higher church home, Christmas carols are never sung until Christmas Eve. Throughout the month I'd December we sing the hymns of advent, the songs of watching and waiting.

I loved the church I grew up in and don't regret a minute of my time there. But I think sometimes churches have a tendency to throw the babies out with the bath water. And in an attempt to separate from an overly liturgical worship, sometimes important things are left behind. I think celebrating advent is one of them.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Santa

Today was the Santa parade in East Hampton. It's a tradition that goes back as long as I can remember.

When I was young, we attended the parade, which ended at the VFW on the corner of Main and Fithian, and then we went in to the VFW to meet Santa. He gave each child a candy cane if I remember correctly. And then, there were free cartoons offered at the Edwards Movie Theater. It was an exciting day!

Of course, East Hampton was a smaller place back then. We have a photo that dates back to about 1955 which is taken from the steps of the VFW looking out onto the crowd. Fathers and mothers holding small children, all trying to get into the building, made quite a crunch. All the children were dressed in their best clothes, with woolen coats and matching hats. Another era indeed.

By the time I was in high school the Santa greetings and the free movies were already a thing of the past. But the parade, with a new route, remained. Then my own children marched, with their cub scouts, or band. Now, once again we walk up to see the parade, this time with a gaggle of grandchildren on tow, two marching in the parade, and lots of friends to wave at. It was warm and sunny today. I remember others that weren't as enjoyable. But traditions are nice to continue.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Weekend...

Today starts the first of the crazy December weekends to come.

Tonight we head to a friends for dinner. This is one of my favorite kind of holiday events-a warm and cozy dinner around a big table with lots of friends. There is nothing better.

Tomorrow night is our ambulance dinner dance, which always kicks off the season with an opportunity to dress up in sparkly holiday clothes, give myself a manicure, and dance with my husband. I look forward to it every year.

In the morning tomorrow is the annual Santa parade here in East Hampton, a long held tradition that's always fun. I may get there. I remember marching in this parade with the high school marching band all these years ago. Time does fly.

Sunday we're going to see my grandson in a dance production of A Christmas Carol. It should be the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The weekend will fly by, as they all do this time of the year.

And so it begins...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Done

I finished my Christmas gift list yesterday as I completed the sewing project I've been working on for some time now. It feels good to be done, almost all wrapped and in the attic with tags on them. Phew!

Now on to the other holiday pleasures! Today I begin the Christmas cookie baking. I make over a dozen kinds and fill the freezer every year, using them for gifts to distribute to co-workers and friends.

I am going to choir tonight to practice for our annual service of lessons & carols. Music brings me joy especially at this time of the year!

Saturday night is our annual ambulance awards dinner, always the kick off to the season of parties. I've already given myself a nice red manicure with a light brush of silver glitter on top. Only during the holidays!

Yes, this is a fun time of the year. And it's only the beginning. I am already enjoying the celebrations...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wet

It's a rainy day today, following an overcast and damp one yesterday. We're entering into the darkest days of the year right now and right now it feels like it.

I enjoy the winter more and more as I get older. I know that goes against the popular idea that the older we get the ore we want to move south, because I certainly don't. If I had to make a choice I would take winter over the heat of August, but spring and fall are my favorite seasons. I'm not a big fan of the ice that comes with really cold temperatures.

But days like today are not my favorite. I like the sun, even when it's cold out there. But there is a life lesson in the weather. Because we need rain for life to thrive. And life in general is a series of ups and downs. But those difficult days make the great ones so much sweeter. Just as the sun will be so welcome tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December

Well it's finally beginning to feel like December so I suppose it should officially be here. But it's still mild enough here to go coatless for the most part. I took a raincoat with me when I left the house this morning because the were talking about rain, but we never had more than a drizzle, so the coat never went on. I was fine in a t-shirt and light sweater.

Christmas decorations are beginning to show up around town and its feeling like the holidays. Our own tree is up, although the rest of the Christmas decor is still in the attic. Perhaps this weekend I'll have the energy to get it all done. At the very least we need stockings and greenery to set the stage.

East Hampton is always beautiful during the holidays, restrained and classy for the most part. There are a few homes that I would call "over the top", but they are few and far between. And taste is such a subjective thing. But most everyone here goes along with the "simple and elegant" theme. I love driving down Main Street on a December evening, from the mills at each end to the trees lining Main and Newtown, it's a wonderful sight. And it's only the beginning.