BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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Reblog-Lamenting the Decline of the Christmas Card

It’s a new year and I’m in a new home, and of course I didn’t send out a change of address card to anyone, so this year I really won’t get many cards, but yesterday I did get one. It may be the only one, aside from the one my mom sent. That’s ok, because this year I’m not sending out a bunch either. I’m afraid I’ve given in this year. Maybe 2015 will be the year that old fashioned in the mailbox Christmas cards make their return to fashion. In the meantime, enjoy this post from Christmas 2013.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe my own personal circle of friends is unusual, or maybe they all lost my address, or, dare I even say it, maybe they just don’t like me anymore. I don’t think any of those are true, but who knows? Whatever it is, the number of Christmas cards I’ve received so far this year is zero. Not one single card. It is the 7th of December and the Christmas spirit has yet to enter my mailbox.

Now, before I go too far, I have to come clean and admit that I have likewise sent zero Christmas cards this year.  I have good intentions, though. I even saw a box of cards that I really liked with a cool funky retro pine forest on the front and a nice non-offensive greeting in the center. I didn’t buy them, though. A snarky little voice inside my head said, “Why should you send cards out? Remember how many you received last year? It’s hardly worth the trouble.” And I put them down and walked away. I regret doing that. I will go back and get them. Let me tell you why.

First there’s this little saying that I actually happen to believe that goes a little something like this, “it is better to give than to receive.” Ok, sure, if you’re starving it’s better to receive food than to give it away, but I’m hardly starving. My life is full of abundance. I live in comfort surrounded by love. I have rewarding work, I can pay my bills, I feel safe and secure, my loved ones are reasonably happy and healthy, and therefore I have nothing to complain about.

I like being able to give a tiny bit of myself to my friends, even if that tiny bit is just a warm greeting inside a pretty card. I know some people see sending out cards as an unnecessary chore, but I actually like sending Christmas cards. 1012-den-cards-lI like writing a short personal note inside each one letting my friends know I’m thinking of them at this time of year. I also like slipping in a school picture of my now gangly, braces wearing teen, as much to embarrass him as anything else. Besides, what else are you supposed to do with all those tiny pictures? His friends don’t want them. They all have phones that take pictures.

Another reason I’m sad about the demise of the Christmas card is that it offered a yearly glimpse into the lives of people with whom I’m friendly but didn’t necessarily see or talk to a lot. It was a yearly check in, sort of like your annual physical. It said, “we’re still connected to one another.” It might prompt a phone call or a get together, or it might just bring a warm feeling, but it didn’t mean a big commitment. Now those people are on your Facebook feed and you hear more about their lives than you ever did, so the check in feels unnecessary. I think that’s one reason the cards are going the way of the dinosaur, at least for my generation.

My mother’s generation is still a generation of Christmas card senders, bless them. She has a lovely annual display of them on her piano, showing smiling grandchildren, fabulous vacation spots, and drawings made by pediatric cancer patients. They feature spiky script, or long newsy letters full of deaths, births, and procedures, and promises to get together when the weather warms up or they get back from Florida.  They are cherished by my mother, as I cherish the few I still receive.

Growing up, I lived in a house built in the 1930’s. It had a beautiful fireplace with a grand mantle. Every night in December we would read the day’s Christmas cards at the dinner table, then after dinner add them to the already impressive display on the mantle. There was often some rearranging to be done, taller cards in back, prettiest pictures in front, and so on. In my twenties I lived in apartment with a long extinct fireplace, but it had a pretty mantle, and it always filled with Christmas cards too.

Depending on where I’ve lived I had different methods of display, but I think my favorite was in my last home, which was two stories. We wrapped garland (with white lights) around the bannister, and attached the cards to it with tiny clothes pins. It made such a pretty display. I no longer have stairs, but I do have my grandmother’s antique piano on which to showcase my cards this year. If I get any.

Today I will go back to that store and buy that box of cards. I will write a note inside each one and mail them out. I won’t send out twenty or thirty, like I used to, but I will send some. I hope to receive some in return, but if I don’t I’ll try not to take it personally. Everyone is trying to get by, especially this time of year. Decisions need to be made, time and resources have to be distributed in the most effective way possible. For many people that means putting up a Facebook post with a cute or meaningful graphic on Christmas will take the place of a real card sent through the mail. I understand this, but it makes me a little nostalgic and sad. I hope your mailbox is filled with Christmas cards this year, and for many years to come.


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The Great Cranberry Sauce Debate

With Thanksgiving fast approaching here in the United States, the topic of the holiday meal can no longer be ignored. Oh sure, the turkey has been ordered from the butcher, and my sweetheart has decided that this year he would like to smoke it, so that decision has been made, but we aren’t done yet.

Thanksgiving dinner is probably my favorite meal, closely followed by a nice lobster dinner. When I found out the Pilgrims had lobster at their Thanksgiving I was almost jealous of them for a minute, then I remembered the other details of their story and got over it pretty quickly. Besides, they had to prepare the whole feast without the help of even a single reliable oven, let alone a Kitchenaid stand mixer.

I hosted Thanksgiving for many years when I was married, and I enjoyed it very much. I think our largest group of friends and family was 18 one year, and it was wonderful. Another year with a fairly large group we set up tables on the patio and ate outdoors. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday. By contrast, my Thanksgivings have boiled down to a small celebration including me, my sweetheart, and this year, my son. Still, we need all the food.

Our menu isn’t as extensive as many other people’s but here goes:

turkey- this year smoked (we’ve also done roasted and fried)

stuffing- the jury is out on which recipe (Mom used to bring Oma’s recipe, but she’s out of town)

brussels sprouts- thank you internet for your wonderful recipe with Andouille sausage

mashed potatoes- this is where the Kitchenaid comes in

gravy- you can never have too much

cranberry quick bread- from a box, but so yummy

pies- thank you Village Inn

and cranberry sauce.

Ah yes, the cranberry sauce. It’s not my favorite part of the meal, by any means, but it’s necessary. The sweet, tart taste balances the other flavors perfectly, and the color on the plate is beautiful. A little cranberry sauce goes a long way, in my opinion, like wasabi. But what kind?

When I was a kid I hated cranberry sauce so I avoided it at all costs. Then, as I got older, I began to understand its importance. This was around the same time my mother discovered that it’s really easy to make it following the simple directions on the bag of cranberries. I was hooked. I used that recipe for years, and everyone always liked the cranberries.

Then I met my sweetheart. He is a wonderful man who asks very little. When he does have some sort of request or preference I’m only too happy to accommodate him, usually with a smile. But then there’s this. His cranberry sauce preference. Yes, he’s one of the people in this country who keep Ocean Spray busy making the gelatinous version of cranberries that keep the shape of the can when you open it. Goopy cranberry rounds are a better description of this product. I don’t get it. Why not have delicious tangy yet sweet fresh cranberries lovingly made in our very own kitchen? Why open a can and wait for it to make a noise akin to a teenager’s bodily function as it slowly descends from its aluminum casing only to plop out onto a plate? Where is the beauty in that?

I’ve given in to this strange request in the past, and I probably will again, after all, it’s important to him to include this tradition from his upbringing. This year, however, I will make fresh cranberries too. I know it’s too many cranberries for three people. It’s too many for fifteen. That’s not the point. The point is that it’s Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is about gratitude and appreciating the ones you love, while also respecting tradition. I think two types of cranberries will be our family’s new tradition.

 

If you enjoyed this article you may like these too:

Thanksgivukkah

Thanksgiving Memories

 

 


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Lamenting the Decline of the Christmas Card

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe my own personal circle of friends is unusual, or maybe they all lost my address, or, dare I even say it, maybe they just don’t like me anymore. I don’t think any of those are true, but who knows? Whatever it is, the number of Christmas cards I’ve received so far this year is zero. Not one single card. It is the 7th of December and the Christmas spirit has yet to enter my mailbox.

Now, before I go too far, I have to come clean and admit that I have likewise sent zero Christmas cards this year.  I have good intentions, though. I even saw a box of cards that I really liked with a cool funky retro pine forest on the front and a nice non-offensive greeting in the center. I didn’t buy them, though. A snarky little voice inside my head said, “Why should you send cards out? Remember how many you received last year? It’s hardly worth the trouble.” And I put them down and walked away. I regret doing that. I will go back and get them. Let me tell you why.

First there’s this little saying that I actually happen to believe that goes a little something like this, “it is better to give than to receive.” Ok, sure, if you’re starving it’s better to receive food than to give it away, but I’m hardly starving. My life is full of abundance. I live in comfort surrounded by love. I have rewarding work, I can pay my bills, I feel safe and secure, my loved ones are reasonably happy and healthy, and therefore I have nothing to complain about.

I like being able to give a tiny bit of myself to my friends, even if that tiny bit is just a warm greeting inside a pretty card. I know some people see sending out cards as an unnecessary chore, but I actually like sending Christmas cards. 1012-den-cards-lI like writing a short personal note inside each one letting my friends know I’m thinking of them at this time of year. I also like slipping in a school picture of my now gangly, braces wearing teen, as much to embarrass him as anything else. Besides, what else are you supposed to do with all those tiny pictures? His friends don’t want them. They all have phones that take pictures.

Another reason I’m sad about the demise of the Christmas card is that it offered a yearly glimpse into the lives of people with whom I’m friendly but didn’t necessarily see or talk to a lot. It was a yearly check in, sort of like your annual physical. It said, “we’re still connected to one another.” It might prompt a phone call or a get together, or it might just bring a warm feeling, but it didn’t mean a big commitment. Now those people are on your Facebook feed and you hear more about their lives than you ever did, so the check in feels unnecessary. I think that’s one reason the cards are going the way of the dinosaur, at least for my generation.

My mother’s generation is still a generation of Christmas card senders, bless them. She has a lovely annual display of them on her piano, showing smiling grandchildren, fabulous vacation spots, and drawings made by pediatric cancer patients. They feature spiky script, or long newsy letters full of deaths, births, and procedures, and promises to get together when the weather warms up or they get back from Florida.  They are cherished by my mother, as I cherish the few I still receive.

Growing up, I lived in a house built in the 1930’s. It had a beautiful fireplace with a grand mantle. Every night in December we would read the day’s Christmas cards at the dinner table, then after dinner add them to the already impressive display on the mantle. There was often some rearranging to be done, taller cards in back, prettiest pictures in front, and so on. In my twenties I lived in apartment with a long extinct fireplace, but it had a pretty mantle, and it always filled with Christmas cards too.

Depending on where I’ve lived I had different methods of display, but I think my favorite was in my last home, which was two stories. We wrapped garland (with white lights) around the bannister, and attached the cards to it with tiny clothes pins. It made such a pretty display. I no longer have stairs, but I do have my grandmother’s antique piano on which to showcase my cards this year. If I get any.

Today I will go back to that store and buy that box of cards. I will write a note inside each one and mail them out. I won’t send out twenty or thirty, like I used to, but I will send some. I hope to receive some in return, but if I don’t I’ll try not to take it personally. Everyone is trying to get by, especially this time of year. Decisions need to be made, time and resources have to be distributed in the most effective way possible. For many people that means putting up a Facebook post with a cute or meaningful graphic on Christmas will take the place of a real card sent through the mail. I understand this, but it makes me a little nostalgic and sad. I hope your mailbox is filled with Christmas cards this year, and for many years to come.