Word of the day challenge using the convenient choice of the phrase Ornament.
Every year I grow excited when I drag the big green tub labeled “ornaments” from storage. I pop the lid, knowing, but I wonder what I’ll find. Why? A lot has happened since I closed the lid approximately 358 days ago. I’m questioning why I entered a room, for god sake.
I’ll admit that opening the lid was met with little enthusiasm over the past two years. In 2020, my mother had just passed on the 4th of December. My holiday spirit was not present, followed by 2021, when we spent the holidays without family, in an apartment, preparing to move for the second time. Bah Humbug!
However, who was back in town this holiday season? You guessed it, Christine Cringle appeared with a cheerful spirit leading the way as she popped that big green lid. Time lessens the blow.
This year I took extra care as I hung all of our ornaments, starting with the story of notable “firsts” in our lives ranging from our first Christmas together in 1988 to the first one spent as grandparents in 2022. With many in between.
They tell tales from our many family vacations or when our son was obsessed with trains, and our daughter received her black belt in Taekwondo.
We have ornaments from family, friends, neighbors, and even co-workers. They range from a worn Daisy Duck from my sister’s trip to California, a stack of books from the NY Public Library, a Rockette and a glass Ruth Bader Ginsburg from a friend in NYC, to a worn-out toybox from a former boss over 30 years ago and too many snowmen to count from friends.
The unique ornaments donning our names on snowmen, reindeer, and penguins, while our pets have theirs shining on jeweled crowns, are clear reminders of who rules this roost. It’s certainly not the penguins.
Of course, our tree wouldn’t be the same without memorial cardinals representing those celebrating from another realm, including our Chester, who crossed the rainbow bridge years ago.
Then there are the ones representing colleges, sororities, and hobbies, including vehicles from bicycles to motorcycles that always bring a smile and a pause. How many years passed?
For many reasons, I still shake my head at the deer dressed in orange camouflage riding a quad. Why is this even an ornament? But, I reluctantly hang it every year to note the time my son thought he wanted to hunt until he did and decided it wasn’t his thing. Removing history doesn’t change the fact that it happened.
I hang the eldest of our balls last, each year adding more gray hair from the fear of dropping one. Lord knows the survivors have seen many of their comrades hit the floor compliments of kids, pets, and my man hands. Part of me thinks they plunge from the branches on their own.
Although all of the above are loved beyond measure and guaranteed to spread joy throughout the season, the popsicle stick manger and one-eyed reindeer made by little loving hands many moons ago remain favorites.
Enjoy the Ride!
Here we are, a week away from celebrating our first Christmas in our new home, and when I decorated the tree, I reflected on the 30 that preceded this one. My tree truly tells the story of a life lived well. Time flies.
I took a stroll down Candy Cane Lane to reminisce on the many phases of Christmas we experienced over the years. Whew, that was a journey.
Our first together was nothing short of a corny Hallmark movie. We shopped for the perfect tree and decorated it together, sipping cocoa while Christmas music played in the background. It’s not corny when you wear a new pair of love goggles.
Then we added back-to-back children, and that Hallmark movie quickly turned into a comedy. Early on, the kids didn’t get the concept, and there was no enthusiasm in the room unless you count mine. Hey, someone had to do it.
When they were 3 and 4 and aware of everything about Santa, mainly how that naughty and nice list worked, giving Mr. and Mrs. Claus permission to threaten their young for a good two months, things turned around. We didn’t make the rules; we just played along.
I enjoyed the Santa years. The wonder and excitement on their faces can always make me smile, along with the homemade ornaments that adorn my tree today. Even the one-eyed reindeer and faded baby Jesus make the cut.
My favorite years were when the kids wanted something so badly that they were willing to sacrifice everything. Nothing else in the world mattered to them at that moment. It was a pink Razor flip phone for my daughter, and for my son, it was an ATV. Let the games begin!
Santa and the Mrs. correction, mostly Mrs., made these dreams come true. The strategic planning that this required was on another level, all while doing everything else life needed. The search for the item, working the numbers, the deadline, pulling off the delivery to make a dream come true, and then, during the presentation, pretending like it was a piece of cake. Forget college degrees; hire a mother.
The teenage years transitioned into the smaller boxes, more significant price tags, or cash-only please phase of Christmas, which felt more like a transaction than a holiday. It was tough for this Cristine Cringle, so the dogs were often dressed as reindeer. Hey, someone had to keep the spirit going.
When significant others entered the picture for a stretch, the spirit resurfaced. The excitement of surprising a mate and the joy of finding “just the right gift” ignited some of that old wonder. Things were merrier.
Then the necessary years rolled in, aka the return from college. There was something special about having two self-proclaimed adults back in the house asking Mrs. Claus for gift cards for food, gas, or beer. No worries, I also included socks, underwear, and laundry detergent to add some cheer.
The independent adult stretch has been long and all over the place. It’s all about family, friends, living spaces, or traveling, leaving Mrs. Claus with the option of home decor or travel bags to fill the sleigh. Does Mrs. Claus have a retirement age?
This year we’re entering another new phase of firsts-first Christmas in our new home. First Christmas as grandparents, First Christmas for our granddaughter, and first time in 31 years, it’s just the two of us again.
We didn’t shop for the perfect tree; our old one is already perfect. The “we” in decorating became I many moons ago, and the sipping hot cocoa was replaced with meeting my daily water intake. However, the Christmas music still played in the background, and the love goggles were still in place, sporting a few scratches on the lenses. Now that’s how Hallmark should do it.
Enjoy the Sleigh Ride!
Christmas morning 2020, quietly sitting listening to the rainfall outside. The deck doors are open, and a nice unseasonably warm breeze is blowing through the room while I bite the limbs off of a gingerbread man and sip coffee.
My children are adults, so there is no need to be awake at this time, yet here I am scrolling through my FaceBook memories of past Christmas celebrations surrounded by family, friends, laughter, and love. Jeez, talk about a mixed bag of emotions coming to the surface.
Last year our house was full to the brim. We were full of Christmas spirit with two new little ones in the family experiencing all of their firsts. They had no clue what was going on, but it didn’t matter to all of us oohing and aahing over every move they made.
Our celebration today will look much different. My mind is not fully committed to the festivities today, but my heart is aching for some sense of normalcy, so I’m going to do my best, and that will be enough.
This year it’s a party of 6, not 16, so I will not need engineering skills to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table. Although I’ll be missing the others dearly, it allows me to embrace this crew with extra love. I hope they’re all ready for the hug fest that’s waiting for them over here.
Thanks to technology, we’ll be able to share in the little ones enjoying the excitement of Santa on repeat if we want, and we can FaceTime the others around the country to spread some cheer. As for those who we lost, we will be keeping their spirits alive sharing the many memories we had the privledge of making over the years.
My Christmas wish for the future is to just continue on with life. Continue to see the good and be good. Continue to have patience. Continue to be healthy. Continue to grow. Continue to heal. Continue to recognize the love around us. Continue to surprise a sometimes mean world with acts of kindness.
Continue to Enjoy the Ride!
The Blessed Project hosted by none other than the QUEEN of Wild Rides Susie Lindau, could not have come at a better time this season.
It’s not that I don’t recognize my blessings, I do, I really do. It’s just that sometimes life sweeps in to rattle me in another direction. No doubt I am part squirrel.
This is why we need to take advantage of the opportunities when they are presented. So a big round of applause to Susie for providing us with the chance to be still. Even if it’s just for a moment feel the peace.
Recently I was Blessed to witness my mother’s joy, as she watched her whole family sing in unison the old classic “Happy Birthday” before she cast her 90th wish.
If joy had a face … this my friends would be what it looks like.
In September I was Blessed to celebrate the wedding of my nephew, and to gain this beautiful woman as my niece. Their wedding was spectacular!
The love for this couple was explosive throughout the entire celebration.
It’s been unanimous within the family that we all want to go back for a few more hours on Cloud Cullen.
Every damn day I am Blessed to come home to these two snowflakes.
No matter what went on in the day, these little lumps of love are there to remind me that I am indeed the best thing that ever happened to their world.
On Thanksgiving, I was especially Blessed to have everyone I love under one roof. My sisters who are always generous with their time and efforts. My brother-in-laws for being loving and caring men. My nieces with their intelligence, baking talents and beauty. My nephews who are passionate about everything from world affairs to Harambe the gorilla. The significant others that slip right into place with the craziness. My children for being such loving beings and my husband for always helping to make my day a little easier.
Blessings included were enjoying each others company, eating delicious food and laughing together. Playing Cards Against Humanity until our ab muscles hurt. Finding humor in every conversation on the table and most of all NOT TALKING POLITICS FOR A SECOND. (There were rumors of some quiet texting on this subject, but nothing was proven)
I’m Blessed to have good friends who recognized that a night of Running Through The Lights is exactly what I needed.
I’m Blessed that they are persistent in their efforts to get me to workout, sweat, laugh, pee and cry.
I’m Blessed to have virtual friends that are loving caring beings in and outside of the blogosphere.
I’m Blessed that they continue to show me love. Send virtual hugs. Make me laugh. Pray for me. Provide free therapy and genuinely care.
I am truly BLESSED for this photo that speaks for itself.
Enjoy the Ride!
Don’t forget to pack your blessings!
It snowed. It was freezing. It snowed. It was freezing; and just when we thought we couldn’t stand to see another flake falling from the sky, Mother Nature decided to get medicated and provide us with this glorious bright sky to show off her handy work.
Hopefully this year she just jumps right to the medication.
This is always a busy month for me, but 2014 was exceptionally busy with me turning the BIG 50. It was a month long celebration with family and friends that I will always cherish.
In between all of that I celebrated my Anniversary along with my son’s 19th birthday.
Nothing like jamming everything into 28 days!
According to my photos March was uneventful except for this interesting encounter at the post office. I swear the post office is just one long Seinfeld episode. I’m no sooner in the door when I noticed this woman sitting behind the glass display case and immediately thought the following:
- OMG! It’s Grumpy Cat’s natural mother!
- Is she for sale or just on display?
- Where am I?
Seriously now ….
Let’s just say April had it’s ups and downs. My daughter turned 21 and my hair turned a lovely shade of stark white for many reasons.
Later in the month I had the pleasure of participating, and more importantly finishing, my first real 5k. Our finish time was 45:30! We lived to talk about it.
I was grateful for the 31 days this month had to offer, because it was jam packed with activities. I participated in the Urban Race, which was a scavenger hunt around Philadelphia and a Foam Race, which I think speaks for itself.
In between the races we had to move my daughter back from school and then prepare for the festivities of a prom, holy communion, a couple birthdays and a graduation party.
Oh yea and go to work … phew!
We kicked off this month by attending the graduation party for my son’s beautiful girlfriend. She was surrounded with love from the endless sea of guests to the delicious home made food!
Once again I participated in a 5k. It was a Super Hero theme, because sometimes wearing a cape just makes you feel better about everything.
Never underestimate the power of a cape!
The dust of the festivities settled, while the dust of our new porch was in full construction mode. I forgot to mention that since April the hubby was beautifying our front porch, lawn and wall. Oh and by beautifying, I mean tearing everything down to the bone to change the entire design because he always has to be different.
On July 17th I had the honor of celebrating the receipt of a Historic Marker for a building on the property of my Quaker Meeting. The Hall that was honored was built by abolitionist Robert Purvis and others to serve as a community meeting place and safe venue for anti-slavery activists to gather. One of the highlights of the day was meeting the descendants of Robert Purvis including his 5th generation grandson, who is all of 8 years old!
As if July would be complete without celebrating my little guy.
We finally had a breather to enjoy some down time and used some gift cards that had been collecting dust for too long. We enjoyed an amazing meal at the Joseph Ambler Inn. The outside patio was just glorious!
I took a day off from the salt mines to spend what seemed like the entire day at the Spa being pampered from head to toe…literally. This was a birthday gift from my sister that was perfect!
August was filled with all things beautiful!
The porch and front of the house are looking fabulous! The kids were settled in school and we had some time to attend our first Farm to Table Dinner at the Blue Moon Farm in Pennington, NJ. The food was off the hook, prepared by local chef Max Hansen and the company was even better with the hubby, his cousin and a friend.
September in NYC was a blast as I celebrated my dear friends’ birthday and the Feast of Gennaro in Little Italy. We spent the day touring around, eating, laughing, shopping and celebrating our friendship.
The month of fabulous food, friends & family.
Let’s see … I participated with Peanut, Susanne & Valentine in the Mutt Strutt here in Philly to raise money for PAWS.
I celebrated my 10th anniversary at work. Oh, and by “celebrated” I mean went to work like every other day without acknowledgement.
Landon .. Landermander .. Landon Bandon Boo… hehehe!
The Rocky Run was a blast!
Shopped, cooked, baked, wrapped and did all things Christmas including spending time with family & friends.
Took a trip into the city with the hubby for a fabulous day that ended with a couples massage which left us both rejuvenated and ready for 2015!
That’s All Folks !
The best is yet to come!
Happy New Year … Enjoy the Ride!
Ah the day after Christmas. The day we all take a moment to sit back to ponder on what the hell went down over the last couple days. Wait … what?
We think about conversations we had with family and friends, that suddenly don’t seem as merry & bright without our Christmas goggles. What the hell was she/he trying to say?
As we put our jeans on today we’ll wonder just how many cookies were taste tested over the past few days. Suddenly our math skills are super sharp as the consumption count hits a record high. Wait! How many times did I say … “just one more.” YIKES!
We will sort through our gifts, now that we are down from our Christmas high and wonder what exactly the giver might have been thinking at the time of purchase. Um …. yea …. I guess that makes sense … sort of.
Let’s stay on this point for a moment while I share with you all the gift I received from my loving husband. Do I have your attention?
You’re probably imagining me on silk sheets surrounded by chocolates, diamonds and champagne right about now, just basking in the luxuries I deserve for being such an amazing wife and mother that you know I am. Dream on.
As a matter of fact I could give you 10 clues and NO ONE, I mean NO ONE would be able to guess what was waiting for me inside that big box under the tree. Including myself!
No ladies it’s nothing sparkly or silky. Not a single animal was sacrificed for this beauty. It’s definitely bigger than a bread box. The color is a beautiful shade of teal. It has duel engines simmer down gentleman, but no tires. Proceed to scratch your scalp. It can go from 700 watts to 3600 watts with the flick of a switch. It’s something that can be used every day. Hmmm It weighs approximately 25 plus pounds and wouldn’t travel very well. Any one?
When I opened the box lord only knows WTF my face said, because the first words I read were PetClubLLC. Then the lightbulb went off in my head and I was suddenly elated to THINK that it was some sort of mini dog washer/dryer that would make grooming Peanut & Landon much easier. Could someone hit the switch on that lightbulb please … thanks.
I could barely contain my excitement when I squealed “Wow! This will save a ton of money on grooming!”
Let’s just say that excitement was very short lived. When from across the room came the words “No, it’s a blow dryer for YOU, you’re always complaining that your blow dryer isn’t strong enough.”
Me: A blow dryer? This says it has duel engines and there is a wind capacity listed on the box!
Loving Husband: Well, it will dry your hair fast.
Me: It might blow the hair right off my head! At this point I was laughing so hard I couldn’t even contain myself.
Loving Husband: Yea but you’re always complaining how long it takes for your hair to dry. Again with this justification … lol!
Me: This is for animals …. I’m trying to imagine packing this for vacation …. Are we going to need a bigger bathroom?
Everyone: Laughing hysterically!
Did I mention I was married to Tim the Tool Man?
My son carried my new badass blow dryer to the bathroom, where later that morning I put it to the test. I fired up both engines, put the heat on high and suddenly felt like I was standing on a launchpad waiting for take off. You’re clear for take off!
I took out my styling brush, which was blown right out of my hand with some of my skin. Again the laughter ensued! I began styling, but really couldn’t see what I was doing. The wind was so powerful I had to squint during the process. Suddenly having compassion for leaves.
My hair was certainly dry … styled? I”m not sure, unless of course you’re going for that just stepped out of a wind tunnel look.
The jury is still out on wether or not my gift will be staying or if it will be heading back to the industrial tool warehouse. I’ll give it another chance today at a lower speed to save some scalp & skin.
Enjoy the Ride!
Twas the morning of Christmas and all through the house NOTHING was stirring other than me in this house.
Stockings were placed on the chair with great care, because Mrs. Clause LOADED them to the point of despair.
The children, including those with fur and gray hair, were nestled all snug in their beds, while I IMPATIENTLY waited downstairs seeing red.
Finally I heard what I thought was a clatter, I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter. Into the living room I ran in flash, I sprinted the stairs grabbed Landon and dashed.
The sun, who’s been missing for weeks here in Philly, came through the window making this seem more than just silly. I grabbed a broom from the closet to poke on the ceiling, making some noise might get this sleeping family squealing! When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, an updated Facebook status from my son with a jeer!
More rapid than a teenager I typed with such fury “Get down these steps now without giving me a story!”
Now Gregory! Now Emily! Now Zachary! Now P! I’ve been up for ages waiting doing laundry and such, it’s Christmas for god sakes and that work is too much!
Finally they woke filled with nothing but glee, bustled down the steps to open presents with Landon and me!
This Christmas I was surrounded with family, love and some joy, which gave each passing minute just more to enjoy.
Peanut and Landon were bombarded with new bones, balls and toys, running around all day like two happy boys!
Now that the family has gone and the festivities have ended, I’m off to my bed, which will feel more than just splendid!
Hope you spent this holiday surrounded by everything bright, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Now that the holy grail of holidays is over, it’s time for me to get back to the business of reading and writing. I’ve missed all my blogging peeps! Over the next few days I hope to fill you in on my very busy December. Let the games begin!
Whether you follow this Blog or have the pleasure of knowing the up close and personal me, you are already aware of my overzealous “need to know” everything all of the time. The holidays are like a month-long opening day for this curious people loving gal!
With Thanksgiving practically running right into December, there was an awful lot of action jammed into the few weeks leading up to Christmas. This meant adding decorating, partying, cooking and shopping onto an already full plate, but this time it felt so good. Like a fork full of lemon curd cake good!
December started off with a HUGE burst of energy. We hit D.C. for an all expense
paid Christmas party hosted by um, who really cares all expenses were paid, ok .. ok .. it was actually a sales company associated with the big corporation that employs my hubby. They were celebrating the holidays, along with the fact that they broke a record by brining in a whopping ONE .. HUNDRED .. MILLION .. DOLLARS in sales for 2013! That must be said in the voice of Dr. Evil, otherwise it’s just a number.
We were shacking up at the Mandarin Hotel, which is incredible all by itself, but when I walked through the door and saw Mrs. Brady a/k./a Florence Henderson standing right in front of me, it escalated into euphoria for this gal. I stalked her while the hubby was checking in. This left him in charge of “listening” to important information about breakfast and what not … *sigh* probably not one of my better decisions, but MRS.BRADY WAS IN THE HOUSE!
The 7 course dinner was superb, along with the continuous flow of wine and spirits. The wait staff were hovering like seagulls waiting for a Cheeto to hit the beach! If you took so much as a sip of your wine they flew in to replace it before your glass had a chance to rest back on the table. God only knows how much I actually consumed. To be honest, I was so high in the moment the wine was an added bonus.
As you all probably know, The Kennedy Center celebrates five extraordinary individuals each year who have spent their lives bringing joy to so many with their commitment to the performing arts. Oh, the reason I’m mentioning this is because we were all sharing the same hotel. It was like hitting the freaking lottery for this star struck crazed fan!
I really had my work cut out for me though, so I got right down to business by getting all sorts of chummy with the Concierge. I’m still somewhat surprised to know he was married to a woman. Once I had my “in” on when this amazing group of entertainers would be heading back to the hotel I was able to get my “crazed fan face” under control, which was not easy, as I impatiently waited for their return.
First through the door … Mr. Carlos Santana. I was in awe and chose to leave him enjoy the company of his lovely wife and sisters who accompanied him for the evening. They were all quietly gracious as they headed for the elevators, where he did stop to take a photo with a young family.
Next up was Garth Brooks, who was not nominated, but was there for some reason. He came through the door like the big ole cowboy that he is wearing his trademark black hat. He could not get enough of the crowd and took photos with anyone with a pulse. I did not partake in these shenanigans because frankly I’m just not a fan. I have stalking standards folks.
As I was gazing on at Garth taking over the lobby, I didn’t realize that Shirley MacLaine was standing right next to me. She was a nominee for her nearly 60-year career on stage and screen. Her entourage was surrounding her as they were trying to figure out where they could go to continue celebrating the evening. Just then I turned to face her and quietly professed my love. She thanked me; gave me a K I S S and snapped her fingers to declare “We’ll all fit in my suite…let’s go!” I hope you all understand how hard it was for me not to follow them into the elevator…. seriously!
Let me just say that I could not even sleep that night! I was exploding with excitement as I sat on Cloud 9 from the events of evening.
The next morning while we enjoyed an incredible breakfast snow started to fall outside. It was the perfect ending to an amazing weekend. Until we hit Virginia that is ..when our 3 hour trip turned into a 6 and a half hour white knuckle ride from hell! Oh it was going to take more than some snow and ice to drag me down from Cloud 9!
It was time to scream loud or Enjoy the Ride!
Please enjoy this little piece of Christmas merriment compliments of David Sedaris and NPR. It’s sure to put a smile on your face this morning.
This time of year neighborhoods everywhere are beaming with Christmas displays, that are for the most part, entertaining for their beauty. Then there are those that provide a heavy dose of unintentional comedy. But, no one truly prepares us for those that leave us silently shaking our heads, as we ask ourselves some very pressing questions. Who came up with the idea of the hideous enormous inflatable holiday decorations that make absolutely no sense? Who are these creative geniuses that continue to test our level of Christmas tackiness? What happens behind that closed-door as the design team presents some of these brilliant ideas?
Oh how I wish I were a fly on the wall when the Santa in an Outhouse idea hit the table. Did everyone gasp at the horror or did they ponder the thought “it’s so bad it might be good” idea? Considering this exhibit of Santa’s stenchivities is resting on lawns across the land, I think we know the answer. I couldn’t help but wonder if this is where Santa reads through all those letters? It’s probably best if we don’t discuss the Elf, his action speaks louder than my words.
This next one is by far the most senseless display of the season The Hunting Snowman. Christmas is supposed to be about joy, not intimidation. Where do we even begin? Should we start off with the lack of a trigger finger. Snowmen have mitten hands. Perhaps we could mention the look on the deer’s face. If that doesn’t just scream WTF, I don’t know what does. Maybe, just maybe, we could discuss the fact that HUNTING has NOTHING to do with CHRISTMAS! Nothing says Happy Birthday Jesus like a rifle toting snowman…said no one EVER!
At this point it’s clear nothing is off the table. There is a market for anything.
If there is an interest out there, you can surly bet that there is a Christmas lawn ornament to match it. I’m sure you’ve all seen the I LOVE Homer Simpson monstrosity that has creeped its way into Christmas. It’s not always a good thing to display your interests by way of a ginormouse inflatable Christmas decoration. Now, if you already have one of these beauties it’s ok, because I’m sure you’re already aware of your “that neighbor” status. If not…you are now.
This next little masterpiece was spotted in broad daylight. I had to make a u-turn to verify what my eyes just registered with my brain. Oh, how I wish I were wrong. There it stood, clear as day The Christmas Dinosaur. What? You never heard the magically Christmas tale of the Christmas dinosaur? Just because the santa hat fits, doesn’t mean you have to display it!
I actually felt a tug at the ole heart-strings for this little fella. I know, I know but I couldn’t help it. I started to imagine at one point he was probably an understudy for that famous long neck featured in Jurassic Park. Once all the hoopla ended, he couldn’t get work and this was his last hope for a steady gig. Excuse me while I blow my nose..sniff, sniff.
I would like you all to know that these photos were taken very close to my home. Please don’t judge. Around my parts the front lawns have the square footage of a postage stamp, which makes seeing these immense structures more horrifying. It’s a Christmas miracle in itself that they’re still standing.
Of course this piece was written in jest…sort of…in order to spread a little Christmas cheer. So please take some time to Enjoy the Ride this holiday season. Even if it’s in a 7 ft. inflatable speed boat driven by Santa with a penguin sidekick, that makes no sense whatsoever.