Sunday, December 21, 2014

That memorable Christmas of 1963

For some reason, the closer we get to the big day, the crisper my memories of Christmases past (go figure!).
And this year, I can't seem to get images of one particular Christmas out of my mind.
I've told the story here before, but I'll tell it again for recent readers' enlightenment.
It was Christmas, 1963.  I was thirteen years old and I desperately wanted a pair of patterned stockings -- they were all the rage that year.

About a week before Christmas, I was home from school. (I don't recall why; obviously I must have been sick.)
I had the house to myself and decided I should go snooping for gifts.  I just HAD to know if I was getting a pair of those stockings!
Well, I found the cache of presents and eventually identified one that had my name on it that felt like it might be just what I was hoping for.
I oh so carefully opened the package -- and there they were.  They were blue and black with a diamond pattern.  Truly the most beautiful pair of patterned stockings in the whole wide world!
Then I did the unthinkable.  I just HAD to try one on.
I remember shaking as I put the stocking on and pulled it up my leg.  And then I pranced around my parents' bedroom, admiring the sight.
I was still shaking as I took the stocking off and carefully folded it to put it back in the package.
But look!  Now the one I tried on was all stretched out, noticeably bigger than the other one.
So I quickly put the second stocking on and stretched it up my leg so the pair would match again.
Then I very carefully rewrapped the package and returned it to the hidden stash of gifts.
And I remember on Christmas morning being very nervous when it came time to open that gift.
My mother, who knew how badly I wanted those stockings, was watching closely as the package was handed to me.
What was I going to do?  I knew I had to act surprised and excited.  And I figured I could do that easily, since there was so much other commotion going on with our large family.  But would someone notice that the stockings were already stretched?
So I opened the package, let out a squeal of delight, and immediately proceeded to put the stockings on.
There, of course they're stretched, I'm wearing them!
That was the year I learned a very important lesson:  the surprise is so much sweeter if it is shared.
Here we are 51 Christmases later, and I have never again gone snooping for gifts.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Early mornings, coffee, and puzzles

Our days start very early in this household.
For no particular reason other than we are awake.
Now, by early, I mean 3:30 - 4:00 am early.
Once the newspapers are delivered, the coffee is made and our day is officially started.
We retire back to the bedroom with the newspapers, coffee in hand, and John reads the National Post while I read the Ottawa Citizen.  (We switch papers at bedtime.)
I have always enjoyed reading my morning paper with my morning coffee.  Have done so most of my adult life.  Even managed to do it most of my working life.
But without a doubt, the best part of this morning ritual -- for me -- is when I get to the puzzle page.  Nothing relaxes me like sitting with a crossword puzzle to solve.  Don't know what it is about puzzles that brings me so much pleasure but it is truly a pastime that totally relaxes me.  Perhaps it is the fact that solving them requires my total focus, which takes my mind off everything else.
I find working on a jigsaw puzzle has the same calming effect on me.
Perhaps that's why I so love genealogy too.  That is puzzle solving in the extreme!