I should have asked for some comfort and joy.
Instead Santa brought me a new squeaky toy.
So I stole Mom’s scarf. Don’t you think I look nice?
I may do it again. Without thinking twice!
I was having one of those ‘Bah Humbug’ moments.
I’d just lost a mitten while shopping for my kitten.
I had been busily stocking up on emergency supplies at the store up the hill as a winter storm was coming.
Buying replacement mittens definitely was not on my shopping list.
But kitty litter, bread, milk, and lots of chocolate were. And all were fortunately within easy reach of the Santa cookie tins and one available smiling clerk humming “Let It Snow.”
I’m thinking their placement was geared towards keeping my spirits bright.
However, it didn’t.
I soon caught myself uttering another “Bah Humbug.”
Christmas fell off the top of my favorite holiday list way back when I was six.
That was the year the new doll smell and curly blonde hair of a baby doll delivered by Santa attracted the attention of our young beagle. Our dog thought she made the perfect chew toy.
The doll and my Norman Rockwell holiday were never quite the same.
It seems the annual arrival of frigid sub-zero weather with the holidays hasn’t helped my attitude either or all that crazy commercialism and greed.
Even family celebrations have grown a bit more bittersweet year by year.
It’s hard to forget the Christmas Eve when my late dementia stricken mother stared at her grandchildren across the dinner table and blurted out, “So who are you?”
Or the memories of sharing hospital meals of wilted salads and frosted Christmas cookies with my husband while he was in hospice three years ago.
But things really are beginning to look up.
Even in a year when peace and joy seem a bit hard to find.
Luckily, I just found that favorite mitten.
And I’m playing Santa for a few seniors, an animal rescue group, and the young children I work with.
I’m also hoping to share many more last minute smiles before the big day.
You see I once saw a flying Santa in the skies do the same.
It happened a few years ago.
I’d awakened at 6:00 a.m. to hysterical laughter on a holiday flight returning from Amsterdam.
The plane was packed full of travelers of all colors and nationalities. Many didn’t speak English.
It didn’t matter.
Everyone was looking up at the same movie screen smiling, sharing just a few brief moments of comfort and joy.
As well as those chuckles.
This time of year, no matter your beliefs, perhaps that’s what matters most.
It’s November and Oprah Winfrey just came out with her annual list of favorite things.
And so have I.
Mine’s a soupy Minnesota hot dish version, but this hearty list is practically guaranteed to keep you warm at 30 below, with just a 20 dollar bill.
And the list trades in those extra big dollar signs, for smaller dollar and second-hand stores.
Number one on my season’s list are the blazing neon red snow pants I found over at the local thrift store.
They’re sure to be a beacon in any blizzard, especially with the extra 30 pounds they’ll add to any physique.
And that blazing red color is a perfect match for Halls cherry cough drops, number two on my list this year. No holiday stocking is complete with out a bag of these chest clearing candies competing with the odor of traditional peppermint canes.
And how about a pair of blizzard tested boots made north of the border in Canada? They’re number 3 on the list. These second-hand store gems, with thick tire track soles, are sure to give you a heartier grip on snow banks than any pair made in tropical Taiwan.
And speaking of hearty, the fine citizens down the road in Hopkins made number 4 on the list with their ‘rich and hearty’ Italian Sausage soup sold over at the market.
Oh to feel rich at just $1.00 a can!
And to treat yourself for all those snow shoveling sessions this winter, consider picking up one of those dinner plate sized donuts I also found in Hopkins. This heavy delicacy weighed in at number 5 on my list.
For just $.89 cents, you’ll surely be replenishing any protein needs with the peanut butter chips floating on top of that icy glaze.
In the arts and crafts category, I selected a 350 pack of red cotton swabs for number 6 on my list this year. You and your friends can play with the plethora of Pinterest project ideas till purple pansies return in spring.
Cotton swab sheep ornaments, anyone?
Since my cat broke a bottle of make up this week, for number 7 I’ve selected a non breakable replacement tube from the dollar store titled “Sassy + Chic”.
Sounds like a winner to me, and the cat purred in agreement just hearing the name.
I also consulted with my mini dog pack to weigh in on Oprah’s pick of $39.00 faux fur jackets before I finalized my selection for number 8 on my list
The pups were underwhelmed with the jackets and fashionista look, instead unaminously voting for rawhides.
They figured their flying collective dog hair was already enough to keep an extra chi or doxie warm this winter.
As a self appointed Francophile, number 9 practically waltzed from the shelf into my basket at the dollar store.
Wow! A French luxury item for only a buck, “Doigts de Dame.”
The English translation is lady fingers.
Though turning over the package, I saw the company is actually Canadian and the treats are made in Spain. But hey, we can dream ‘April in Paris’ as we munch to keep warm in January.
Oooh la la!
For the 10th and last item on my list of favorite things, I thought I’d revert to my Midwestern sensibility and select something all merry makers and bargin shoppers should never be without.
One new carton of Ibruprofen.
In fact, I’ll open the bottle and take one now.
All the excitement’s got me dreaming of a long winter’s nap.
And that may just be my most favorite thing of all.
It seems that Grandma Greta has a hangover this morning after a little too much partying last night.
The soon to be 16 year old, 6 pounder spent New Year’s Eve perfecting her new sport of channel surfing.
She tweaked her tiny toe tapping technique just enough so she could seamlessly switch back and forth with the remote watching Pitbull, her favorite rapper, while ‘shaking if off’ with Taylor Swift.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Once Greta managed to come to this morning, we decided to catch up on some reading together.
While conducting a Google search on her beloved singer Pitbull, Greta pointed out an article indicating pitbulls, black dogs, and chihuahuas are the hardest canines to place in homes.
Greta, being a black chi-doxie mix herself looked a little anxious and blue with that news.
I thought I better take action.
“Hey Greta, but check this other article out. It seems as we grow older, people who volunteer for two or more organizations have much better health. Maybe we should step up our altruistic efforts again and see if we can help out our canine friends”.
I then pulled up a website for an animal rescue group we have assisted before by fostering dogs.
Pedro, one handsome 12 year old chihuahua with ears even bigger than Greta’s, immediately caught her eye.
Greta’s always had a thing for younger men.
“Greta, he surely is a looker but apparently has a foster already. But take a look at the smiling handsome senior black pug in this pic. He’s only 11!
With that, Greta joyfully jumped off the couch doing a perfect happy dance.
I just love how that girl can still just shake it off.
I’m up at 4:40, dodging Bambi in the dark of early morning to get to my desk in the city by 6:45. By the time I return home, it’s dark again but for rush hour’s dingy headlights.
I rarely see December’s light of day, typically a busy time of year for me at work.
But this day a sad, empty wallet coaxes me to put on my tired boots to visit the cash machine across the street.
I soon notice a group of smiling school kids singing “Jingle Bells”. They’re jumping off the steps of a school bus to visit the one department store left in town with its annual Christmas display.
Visions of animated reindeer and Mrs. Claus suddenly dance in my head, so I decide to join in on the fun.
I move quickly in with the line, dancing figure eights around strollers and the students. I stop only long enough to see Santa’s magical elves read the children’s wish lists and watch musical, tall twinkling Christmas trees take their final bows after their performance.
I buy a freshly baked gingerbread man on the way out. I carefully munch around the edges, feet first/head last as I join shoppers back on the busy street below. I stop to look back at the majestic, ornate old building one last time.
For just a moment I am a small child again, dressed as a ‘proper young lady’, visiting the city with Grandma to visit St. Nick and the big display.
I am excited and in awe of the pretty white gloved elevator operators, decked out in blue uniforms, pushing buttons for any floor we might want to see.
I taste the warm chicken pot pie and steaming popovers from the store’s restaurant Grandma would always treat me to once every holiday season.
But my ringing phone suddenly is a wake up call that I need to get back to my desk.
I pick up my pace just as gray skies overhead gift me a spray of gentle white snowflakes.
Beautiful, intricate patterns they land on my lashes, nose, and tongue.
Just like when I was five.
Entering my office building, I hurry back up to my desk.
Stirring the now cold coffee I left 45 minutes ago, with the candy cane Santa had given me.
My coffee has never tasted so good, or as sweet.
Oh what fun……it still is.