Christmas When I Was Nine and Even Older

Christmas When I Was Nine and Even Older



I am not religious. Never have been. Despite my Italian-Catholic upbringing, Jesus and all the saints in heaven never took.

But what did stick was Christmas as a time of giving and forgiving. A time of making room for one more place at the table because someone we knew found themselves alone on Christmas.

There were always extra gifts wrapped and ready to give “just in case”.

Singing songs like Silent Night and Joy to the World were no different to me than singing along with Mr. Beau Jangles, Me and Bobby McGee or any Beach Boys or Beatles songs. Just songs that I loved to hear and sing, in my terribly, flat, toneless but enthusiastic voice.

Christmas at our house was noisy. There were four of us. Four kids with arguments. With friends. Four kids trying to wrap presents for each other in secret, but making heavy hints about what might be in the boxes.

My mother was baking, baking, baking. She was making gingerbread and her famous date nut loaves. She would often be swatting my farther with the towel torn from her waist. NOW I know why she was swatting him. Back then I had no clue. I was nine.

My father would bring in the tree from the garage. I was asthmatic and no number of specially treated trees kept me from wheezing. Family photos of us on Christmas always showed me in a blanket looking like I was taking my last breath.

So my father de-boxed the artificial tree one in a line of many that got better as artificial tree technology improved. And told us it had to “warm up” so that the cold, brittle, metal branches did not break when we unfolded them. He taught us how to string lights, and was very particular about spreading the colors around.

What is Christmas without trains? We had them, beautiful Marklin trains that Dad brought back from Germany after the war.  We spent days sanding the tracks that corroded over the humid New Jersey summer. We fixed wheels, and shined up the  other props. We loved it and we did not fight or argue during the train setup. Years later after his funeral, the three siblings that were left, chose our favorite trains and took them home to be part of our separate Christmas celebrations.

In the 80s, my daughter and I left an abusive situation and found ourselves alone at Christmas in Modesto, California.  On Christmas morning, my sweet daughter presented me with a box covered in glitter. Inside were tapes she had made from albums she had borrowed from the library and recorded for me.

She had taken to heart her grandmother’s adage: “A gift of the hand is a gift of the heart.”

There are so many cherished moments from Christmas past, but that one I cherish the most.





Mr Sandman, Send Me a …

A picture is worth a thousand words. And this picture says it all!

In years past  right about now, we would be packing, and preparing for our annual visit to the frozen north, well Dallas or Thousand Oaks to spend Christmas with one or both of our kids. For us the temperatures in Texas and California are chilly to downright frigid.

We soldier through the torture of multiple airports, and plane changes, and arrive dragged out and hungry. But the ride from the airport is always a nice re-entry. Christmas lights are everywhere, and we love turning into Miss Meliss’ neighborhood and circling the park that is ablaze with lights.

Once we get past the exuberant welcome from the million, well three dogs, and sometimes a foster dog, the delicious aroma of slow cooking food enters our consciousness. The house is beautifully decorated and the tree is lit waiting for its ornaments. Decorating the tree is something Miss Meliss and I do together.

We take our coffee and dessert to the living room and sit by the fire and plan our days.

We always have a shopping list, things like underwear and shoes top the list. For me visiting fabric stores is an absolute.

We talk about who will be dropping in, and who will be staying for dinner.

Then it is up to bed where we bury ourselves in the quilts Melissa has laid out for us.

“It’s not cold!” she says. And we grumble back that we are freezing!

One year we had snow on Christmas Eve, it was romantic and the house looked gorgeous with the lights shining on the snow and the decorated tree in the window. Earlier in the day we drove around in the snow to finish up some shopping, I was nervous. Not that my Beloved could not handle snow, he grew up in Chicago, snow he knows. And we were driving a Subaru with its famous all-wheel drive. It is all the other drivers that have no clue how to handle the snow that made me nervous.

This year? Events conspired against us. We are not going north and no one is coming south for the holiday.

We are all disappointed of course. BUT! As we watched Dallas become a frozen snow globe, and saw travelers stranded in airports across the nation, we felt relief that we are not going to be part of THAT.

Just last week I was swimming in my pool, and drying off in the sun. I sat in the sun to do some hand sewing, and had coffee outside. We have had some stiff breezes, well, okay, wind, so I have not been in the pool or done much outside. But, the winds will lie down, and the sun will shine and I will count my blessings…and have several Facetime moments with Miss Meliss.

Sexy, Exotic, Hawaiian Flower, Showing Off in La Paz Baja California Sur

Do you recognize this gorgeous, exotic bloom?
It is an anthurium, and it actually is native to Central and South America. Wikipedia says nothing about how it got to Hawaii, but that is how I think of it.
And Cecilia, a flight attendant friend of mine says cut anthurium are popular take home gifts for tourists leaving Hawaii. She has seen them specially packaged in small bunches for a lot of money and they are carried right on the plane.
Well, back to my anthurium.
My dear friend Maria gave me the plant for Christmas this past December 2011. It had much smaller leaves and was bursting with many blooms and some tightly rolled buds. I thanked her profusely, and wondered if it would survive my three-week Christmas vacation, with the maid caring for it.
To my surprise, it survived, and flourished. It had pride of place on our kitchen island where it was kissed by morning sun. But it grew so large and full, my beloved asked if I would consider moving it.
I was sure that moving it would mean certain death. But here is another picture showing how shiny and healthy the leaves are
And this is not the first time it has produced buds, here are two making their way out to the sun. It has been in constant bloom since December. It is still in the plastic pot. I am afraid to re-pot it and kill it. It s so healthy and shiny, and happily blooming, that I think I shall keep it right where it is!
One of the nicknames for the anthurium is the “boy plant”. Well it does have a big, yellow, penis, Uh, excuse me, it has a big erect, knobby spadix.

And when the flower starts to die, the red bract turns muddy green and the big, erect, spadix develops yellow bumps and lumps, I call it gonorrhea of the plant world.
I am sure my grandson Patrick aged 11, will just love seeing photos of this guy:

Before this bract withers and dies it will be covered with the yeloow bumps, which get uglier and uglier. The firts time I saw it I thought the plant was diseased! I am going to try to propagate the plant by laying the withered bract with it’s blistered spadix on a nice bed of potting soil. Stay tuned!

How I tricked My Beloved on Christmas Morning

By Susan Klindienst Fogel
December 5, 2010! December is barreling down the pike, no time to stop, only three Sundays until Santa arrives. Sewing, baking, wrapping, entertaining, decorating. !
Over the next few days I am going to show off my Christmas tree and my favorite ornaments .
Because I love Christmas!
I love it! I love the hustle, bustle, and making time for friends and family, and watching their delight as they open the beautifully wrapped box and lift out the lovingly handmade item I dreamed up again this year.

And I am starting with a story about how I tricked my beloved one Christmas!

I don’t go to the mall , I rarely shop in department stores. I haunt fabric stores, virtual and real, and search for downloadable online patterns designers. I try to find the perfect gift for one and all. Living in La Paz, means having to plan my Christmas sewing far in advance. I have to see who is coming down , one of my guests for the HoneyMoon Hut, or family or friends, and ask them to accept small packages of fabric and patterns that I have ordered online, and have shipped to them.

One year it was his ‘n her aprons.

Another year I made neck roll pillows and sleep masks for use anywhere but especially while on a plane.

And there was the year I made 17 purses for the women in my life, and 17 jars of green chile soup for the men.
And one year I made my beloved a gorgeous robe. I got up every morning at 4. Had my coffee, enjoyed the quiet, and sipped my brew by the light of the Christmas tree.
I would sew until 7. Have breakfast, get dressed, and then login to work in my home office at 9.
When it came time for fittings, I told him it was for Miss Meliss, and I needed to check length.
He said “This is gorgeous she will love it.”

Boxes of any kind, and especially gift boxes are hard to find in La Paz. But there are a few enterprising souls that set up stalls on the street and sell pre-wrapped boxes. The tops are wrapped and there is a lsice of tissue inside. But paper, tissue and ribbon are available in most stores.

Miss Meliss and her hubby arrived a few days before Chrismas and wanted to do some shopping in La Paz to soak up the flavor of Christmas in a small city in Mexico..
In one clothing store they had pre-wrapped suit boxes, which would be perfect for a certain robe.
I told my beloved to choose a box for that special present he had been helping me with. He chose a metallic, blue, foil box!
Was he ever surprised, when on Christmas morning the big, blue , foil wrapped box was on his pile! “Melissa “, he said, “ I think this is for you.” MissMeliss, was in on the secret. She said “ Nope, I am sure it is yours.”

My beloved was surprised, touched, had tears in his eyes and laughed that he had been “gotten”.“ “Susan, you got me.” Were his exact words.
He loves the robe, it is elegant and is the perfect length.
So tomorrow I’ll show you my beautiful Christmas tree.

Here’s a photo of the robe:

The robe that Tricked my beloved