Blog

Dipping My Toe in Holiday Waters

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Last year, our holidays were difficult. My mother-in-law was fighting metastasized breast cancer that had spread into her bones. She was in a great deal of pain most of the holiday season and passed away just a few days before Christmas. It was hard to enjoy much of the holiday. I suppose this is why my thoughts have been drifting into Christmas; No apologies given.

Two of the nearby radio stations started playing Christmas music constantly around the clock. For me, this was nice because I could listen a little when the mood strikes me. I know there is Christmas overload in our country, but some people, like me, have reasons for wanting to extend the joy of the holidays. Now I am not going to decorate my house now, but if you want to, I will support you for whatever makes you happy.

We have an internet radio hubby bought me for my birthday a few years ago. Last night he discovered a way to connect his SiriusXM to my internet radio. I will certainly enjoy listening as I work in the house. There are 8 holiday stations, including Radio Hanukkah so that will be fun to explore.

My mind was drifting to holiday candies we enjoyed as children. The first one that came to mind were little golden peanut butter filled pillows. These came in a can and from my research they are still available for purchase. I loved these little morsels! Unfortunately, my late in life peanut sensitivity will not allow me to enjoy them, but you can!

One of my other favorites was ribbon candy. Now, this I am extremely picky about. The ribbon candy MUST be thin. There are lots of lesser quality ribbon candy, but my advice would be to stay away from those. The brand I am most familiar with is Sevigny’s, now made by F.B. Washburn candy company. This photo shows the peppermint variety, but my favorite is the multicolor which you can see on Amazon or other online sites.


Adrigon (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PeppermintRibbonCandy.jpg), „PeppermintRibbonCandy“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode

Washburn’s also sells a variety of filled candy which was never my favorite but was always present in our home.

Now, being raised in Virginia, one of my all time favorites are the boxes of stick candy made locally by Helms Candy Company. This company was just down the road from my grandparent’s farm and has been in business since 1906. I still buy the Virginia Beauty assorted candy sticks, but the peppermint candies were a staple at Christmas.

Homemade candy was always big at our house during the holiday season, too. My mother was a master at making the often failing divinity fudge. We always had peanut butter fudge made with both brown sugar (penuche or caramel) and cocoa powder. Being a kid, the best part was eating the samples from the old fashioned soft ball test. I loved waiting for the hot sugar mixture to be dropped into a glass of cold water. And of course who can forget the rolled refrigerator cookies some people call peanut butter potato candy?

Of course, when I lived in Maine, every Christmas meant Needhams. This is a Mound or Almond Joy type of candy made with mashed potatoes, and coconut.

So, no, I am not thinking about decorating any time soon, but I am enjoying thinking about the holidays and remembering the memories from my past.

I am not ready for the stores to go full blown holiday, but in my own space where I can control it, I am having fun.

For those who might want to criticize me, I say, you do you and I’ll do me.

Blog

Feeling Accomplished

Day 57

Today I felt accomplished in some things but recognize I still have a number of things on my list that remains. It’s nice to check them off as tasks are finished.

Decorations

IMG_7915Finally, all the indoor decorations are complete. The tree has a topper and a skirt now. The fireplace is decorated and the nativity scene is out. I love this phase because that means all the mess of boxes can be put away until it’s time to take it all down again.

Hubby started putting the outside decorations up. We just do lights outlining the house and lights through the bushes along the driveway. He’s about halfway done so it won’t be long until we can just sit back and enjoy it all.

Shopping

I mailed a few things today so some of my shopping is complete, but not nearly all. We ordered a few items online and will go out a few times together to finish the shopping for the grandkids. It gets harder as they get older and have very definite ideas about what they want and do not want.

I really missed Toys R Us and Babies R Us this year. Going store to store in hopes of finding something is tiring. Then the toy aisles in stores like Target and Walmart are just picked over and messy. That is why people order so much online – it is so convenient and it does save money and time. It doesn’t do much for the local economy, unfortunately.

Memories of Treats

IMG_7893 2I bought a box of clementines which started a conversation with hubby about our youth. When Christmas rolled around, there were certain treats that showed up that we did not seem to have been around otherwise.

The first was soft peppermint sticks. We both grew up in a common geographic area, so the brands we had were often the same. The peppermint sticks were made by Helms Candy Company which was just down the road from my grandparents’ home. The candy came in a box and it was nice and soft – not hard like peppermint candies. They are still in business and you can find the candy at a lot of local stores.

The second was of course tangerines. Both tangerines and oranges showed up around Christmas and they were a treat! Our stockings always had an orange or a tangerine in them.

The third was ribbon candy. Now I am picky about my ribbon candy. It cannot be thick. I like it wispy thin. And I don’t like for the colors to be overwhelming. Of course, if you bought the thin candies, there were always little sharp shards of sugar broken in the box.

The last was chocolate covered cherries. Now, we always had these at home, but I NEVER liked them and I do not care for them now. It was always THE gift for teachers or gift exchanges at school — do kids even do that anymore? Probably not.

Creativity

I finished NaNoWriMo which was an accomplishment. All my writing buddies finished, too, which was really nice. (Goodonya Tanya for finishing first time out!) Now I have a nice novel that needs to be finished, then ripped apart to fix all the ‘stuff’ that creeps in when you write that much in a 30 day period.

This weekend I have another jewelry workshop. It’s supposed to pour rain all day, so I’m glad I have some inside fun things to do. This is similar to the workshop I had to bow out of a few weeks back because I became ill. I love working with silver so I am hopeful I have better luck this time.

Earthquakes

Today there was a 7.0 earthquake in Alaska. The epicenter was very near where I lived when I lived there. I only have a few friends who are still in Alaska so I was holding my breath until I knew everyone was okay.

This brought back lots of memories of my time in Alaska. I remember going to ‘Earthquake Park’ which was an area of town devastated by the Good Friday earthquake in 1964. I also remembered feeling small quakes when we lived there and waking my children up to stand in the doorways when they occurred in the middle of the night.

Earthquakes are the most unsettling of natural disasters I have ever encountered. Everything moves. The buildings and their foundations, the ground, the cars, everything that is not nailed down. I worked as a switchboard operator (another thing I doubt exists anymore) on Elmendorf AFB when a fairly strong tremor occurred. After that, they secured the switchboard to the walls for fear someone would get crushed if it fell over. They were huge pieces of equipment.

Of course, I never felt anything of the magnitude the good people of Alaska felt this morning. I am holding them all in my prayers. Thankfully, it does not appear there were any fatalities or serious injuries so that is a blessing, but there is extensive damage to roads, buildings, and homes. And there is an unsettling feeling that takes a while to overcome.

That’s about it for the time being. Now it’s time to unwind for the day.

“Do what makes you happy, be with who makes you smile, laugh as much as you breathe, and love as long as you live.” 
Rachel Ann Nunes