Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bookstore Gift Card

For a book loveer, nothing quite matches the anxious excitement of having a gift card to spend at a book store.

Surrounded by books one has heard discussed, reviewed, and posted on "best" lists prompts a confusion of choice:  Which one now?  Which one can't I miss?  Which one should I just wait for in paperback? Which one is worth the money I'm spending and is a keeper for my shelves?

Shall I choose the new Grafton, the new Grisham, the new Conroy?  Or the sequel to THREE CUPS OF TEA?  Oh, and there's the Andrew Jackson biography I've been wanting to read and Kearn's  A TEAM OF RIVALS.  And look at all those books on sale!

What a delicious dilemma...

I chose Robert Hicks' A SEPARATE COUNTRY about John Bell Hood. (After all, I am a Texan!)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sensual Christmas

Christmas is an extraordinarily sensual holiday:

Hearing the whoops, screams, squeals and AWESOME's that accompany the receiving of gifts; hearing the treasured, familiar hymns about angels, bells, and Baby Jesus; hearing the happy sounds of love and fellowship around the tree and table; hearing the hooves of eitht tiny reindeer on the roof and a "ho-ho-ho" going up the chimney (courtesy of Clement Moore); hearing the silence of a still winter's night wrapped in white; hearing children sing "Happy Birthday, Jesus" in the church Christmas program; hearing Maddie read the Christmas story from Luke and Ella read "The Night Before Christmas".

Tasting apple cider, turkey and dressing, pecan pie, eggnog, candy canes, fudge and cranberry sauce; tasting familiar (cheese balls) and unfamiliar hors d'oeuvres (bacon-wrapped water chestnuts); tasting decorated sugar cookies and fruit cake.

Smelling cookies and gingerbread baking, evergreen trees and wreaths, Christmas candles; smelling Aunt Flora's perfume as she squeezes the breath out of you; smelling the potpourri simmering on the stove; smelling the crisp winter air full of wood smoke, fallen leaves and the promise of snow.

Touching the green waxy sprigs of evergreen as the ornaments are placed on the tree; touching and shaking the shiny gifts around the tree; touching the white cotton as you arrange the Dickens Village on the kitchen bar; touching the icy snow as you hurl your first snowball.

Seeing the first Christmas decoration go up in the mall, seeing the dripping white icicle lights on neighborhood houses and faux deer on the lawns; seeing the glow of Christmas lights through living room windows; seeing children seated on Santa's lap reciting their lists; seeing the first wobbly rides on new bikes.

And finally gathering in all the beauty, warmth and love of Christmas in one large package that  almost overwhelms the heart.

Perhaps that is why I hate letting go of Christmas each year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bikes and Bread

The patchy, gray light of dawn streamed through the windows as I crept soundlessly through the kitchen, past my parents' bedroom to the living room door.  I could see in the shadows that shapes had changed in the room overnight.

Just as my brothers peeked around another living room door, the voice of my mother startled us, " What are doing? It's too early to get up.  Go back to bed."  Well, it was 5:00 a.m., but we went, knowing we could get up when we smelled cinnamon rolls cooking.

Later as we attacked the living room doors, we saw in all their glory our first bikes.  Mine was blue and chrome, my brother Mike's was red and shiny, and our baby brother Rob had a new tricycle.  What a glorious morning!

After cinnamon rolls, we had to travel to Abilene to our uncle's house for Christmas dinner.  The new bikes were loaded in the back of the truck, and we five crowded into the truk cab for the forty mile trip.

My uncle lived downwind from Mrs. Baird's Bakery on the south side of Abilene.  By the time we arrived there, a cold wind was blowing small snowflakes through the trees surrounding his house.  Nevertheless, my brother and I clamored for our first bike-riding lesson.  And so it was that my dad took hold of my bike seat, and my uncle held Mike's as we rolled down the small hill in front of Uncle Bud's house..

The street was full of the smell of baking bread as we parted the snowflakes with our shouts of joy and pain.  After several tries, Mike and I were riding alone toward the bakery with Rob trailing behind on his trike.  My dad and uncle were running behind yelling, "Slow down! Slow down!"

Almost every Christmas since that  9th one, I look back at the taste of freedom my first bike brought, remembering the steadying hand of my father and the smell of baking bread.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I got my fruitcake over the weekend.  I buy one for myself for Christmas every year.  Yes, I know, that fruit
cake is an aquired taste, and that some people would rather throw them than eat them.  They have obviously never eaten one from the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas---it is the only place to buy fruitcake.

Moist, full of nuts and candied fruit, topped with pecan halves--it is a delight!  I have a piece with breakfast coffee each morning---yum.....

Now on to find a mincemeat pie to fulfill that craving.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I've been wrapping stocking gifts tonight.  They are easier--no bows to put on--and one can use all those ends of wrapping paper which have come out of wrapping larger gifts.  Our family has always enjoyed gathering small gifts for stockings.  The gifts might range from chewing gum, to hair barrettes, to a set of batteries (one can never have enough  AA batteries ).

When I was growing up, I remember stockings were really old socks.  There would always be an apple, an orange, and various nuts.  We spent hours out on the porch trying to break those exotic inch-long nuts with the name I can't use here. They are correctly called Brazil nuts. They were very good, if one could ever get into them.  Then there were the almonds, pecans, and  hazelnuts--also hard to crack  Sometimes there was even money in the toe of the stocking--a quarter usually.  How times have changed.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wrapping, wrapping

I have said many times on this blog that I love Christmas, and I do.  However, I don't like to wrap packages--just call me fumblefingers--if the paper can tear while I cut it; it will.  If the tape can get tangled; it will; if the paper can be cut too small; it will.

Oh, yes, I know about sacks--but they are much more expensive than wrapping paper, and a tree decorated with only sacks just doesn't look right.

What I do like is opening the wrapping on Christmas Day--one far outweighs the other.  So, on to more wrapping.