Friday, December 15, 2023

Ten Days Before Christmas


Barbie in her Christmas best

Once again I'm choosing to write in a conversational style, which means I've imagined a rough draft but we'll see where this actually ends up by the time I sign off at the end. And of course, whatever I write here has to get past my editor/proofreader (which is a good thing, believe me).

display window in our Reunion Center

Starting off with some seasonal eye candy, the above pictures show off some of the beautiful work from the Leisure Arts League. There are a lot of interest clubs here in our 55+ Active Adult community and most of them have a display behind glass, like this one. I am no longer a member of this particular group since I rarely sew any more, but I do appreciate their creations. 

And of course, Barbie, looking especially fine in her hand-knitted dress, is the perfect hostess to welcome you into this particular blog post.

We usually dine off of Gary's white Corelle dinner plates with the ivy border. His dishes are in much better shape than the Winter White Corelle I had when we met. He has all the plates, bowls, cups, saucers, and such. My Winter Whites went to donation destinations.

shrimp and a hearty fresh vegetable salad

But now that the big day is fast-approaching, I've taken my Christmas dishes from Walmart out of the dining cabinet. They are simple but elegant, and when used only during this holiday season, they hold up well. My appreciation for poinsettias comes from my mother, so when I spotted these dishes years ago, I impulsively bought two sets (for a total of 8 place settings) and have not regretted the money spent.

I've said before that we celebrate Fish Friday around here (see my post on that at this link), and this is Friday, so Gary once again popped frozen shrimp into his hot air fryer for today's lunch. My assignment was to prepare the salad, as you see in the above photo. 

Continuing on the topic of food, yesterday afternoon was the Christmas social for the Thursday Bible study I attend. Everybody brought some form of "finger food," which naturally makes it all a simple fare but nonetheless tasty. I've been pretty busy the last few days, so my contribution was the round container of sausage slices and cheese squares accompanied with two kinds of crackers. 

Our study leader (a man!) brought croissant sandwiches he made himself that were filled with smoked turkey and cheese, heated to soften the cheese. We also had nuts, those miniature quiches, Moose Munch, cinnamon cake, and more. Our leader also provided the sweet and unsweetened tea. Nobody left hungry.

Sister's two Basset Hounds

It's been a while since I last included Sister's two dogs here on the blog. Maggie and Daisy live a hard life as they fulfill their calling to keep squirrels and other related vermin out of my brother-in-law's summer garden and generally patrol the grounds year 'round. This photo came in via text earlier today with "their" Christmas tree.

Christmas napkins

We reciprocated with a text of greetings to them. Some years ago I think it was my BFF, Sister D in Denver, who gave me a package of these napkins. As you can surely understand, I use them sparingly due to their cute design.

new pasta bowl

Gary and I are in the October or maybe November of our lives (surely not the December!!), so we have just about anything we could possibly need. We decided early on that for birthdays and Christmas we wouldn't shop for each other for things we don't need or want. 

new bike helmet

Having said that, if there is something either of us wants, we are usually able to just get it. Recently he got a new bike helmet, and I ordered some Corelle pasta bowls. Amazon delivered the bowls today. I look forward to some simple pasta topped with sauce meals during the cold winter months of Florida.

Christmas wreaths from Home Depot

On the subject of purchasing, we were very surprised how hard it was this year to find fresh Christmas wreaths to take to the cemetery. Our usual has-everything hardware chain was completely sold out, and didn't have very many Christmas trees, either (although we did not need one of those). I've heard that boxed Christmas cards are in short supply, too -- which is really strange since we haven't received many cards except those from businesses and Christian ministries. Of course, postage rates are ridiculous (especially considering the poor service, but I won't venture into that...).

Beloved's headstone

We made the trip to the veteran's cemetery this week for the purpose of laying wreaths at the graves of our late spouses. We make it down there every month or 6 weeks or so. I was very pleased to see that someone had left a coin on Beloved's headstone, which is a military tradition I wrote about a couple of years ago. None of his "neighbors" had a coin on their graves, so I think I can safely assume that whoever left that coin was someone who actually knew my late husband. I will probably never know who it was who honored him in that way, but it warmed my heart.

Edith's headstone

As I've said before, our spouses both died within two months of each other and are "neighbors," so to speak at the cemetery. We actually need to drive from one grave to the other, but they are surprisingly close. We went to Edith's grave after stopping at Tom's and met some of our family there. We brought the Christmas wreath, and they added a bouquet of live flowers to embellish on either side. 

We visited, took time to "talk" to our departed ones, and then got back into our cars to meet up at Cracker Barrel for lunch. As one of our kids said, they feel our dear ones are watching us from above, genuinely glad that Gary and I have found each other and are living happy lives. 

another  Christmas napkin

This is my segue into more thoughts on "Merry Christmas." In a recent post I commented on my feelings about that greeting versus "Happy Holidays," and you can read about that here if you want. (spoiler alert: I'm not hard-over about either term).

But what I do want to say is that as we age and life has had the time to knock most people around pretty hard at least a few times (if not more), sometimes wishing each other a MERRY Christmas is not realistic. Those hard knocks of life can get buried for much of the year but when the holidays roll around, the memories (both good and bad) tend to unearth themselves. Also, as we age, merriment takes on a different definition due to physical limitations. 

Christmas card from Bealls

Not meaning to come across as a wet blanket, I'm concluding for myself that instead of desiring a Merry Christmas, I'll be content with a Peaceful Christmas that is free of regrets, reminders of losses, and pain of all kinds.  

For me quiet music performed with skill and respect, gentle lights, and a focus on why we are even celebrating -- that's what I want and what I wish for those who feel as I do. There is a time to push aside "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" (which this Grammy considers a personal insult, by the way) to consider what it meant for God to come to earth as a human being. The grandeurs He left in Heaven above to reach those of us so far below.....what a sacrifice!!

Well, Christmas is fast-approaching for all of us. I hope it is a good time for all, however you define it for yourselves.

Until next time, grace and peace.


  1. We had the same Corelle with the vines. However, that was when our kids were young and our set was no longer complete. Corelle is tough, but not invincible!
    Looks like you had a nice lunch with your Bible study group.
    Your wreaths are very pretty. Makes me think I should pick one up and put it at my parents grave. I love the coin!

  2. Lovely post Barbara. Got your card and thank you so much, a lovely picture of you and Gary. Blessings abundant this Christmas season!

  3. I so loved all the photos and your reflection about the Christmas season here, Barbara. Yes, I long for peace, too, not the hustle and bustle this season tries to force upon us. Maybe, it is because we are older that the true meaning of Christmas shines through ever brightly. May this time of year bring you much joy and peace!

  4. I really appreciate what you wrote about our feelings at this time of year. And I wish you both a very Merry Christmas! Hugs, Diane

  5. Oh those pups. They are adorable! We do reach that age where we don’t need presents. The gift of time well spent together means more. I made me a Christmas list to listen to as I just couldn’t find what I wanted to hear for Christmas. The time to listen to those songs is short and I wanted the old classic carols. It has been on repeat a lot and I haven’t grown tired of it yet.


Proceeding to Father's Day

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