Christmas Memories

From Cheryl on December 27, 2021:

Every time members of our family get together, we have lots of fun. We don’t need board games or card games.  We remember    lots of events, and those memories breed  more memories. Most of the time, the memories are triggered by a long-lost photo that we find when getting out the Christmas decorations. For instance, there is a memory I have that I have told many times over the years– it’s a good memory.  I was probably 4 years old and Jan was probably 2 years old, and she had curly blond hair.  I had straight brown hair.  Mom wanted me to have curly hair.  It was Christmas eve.  Jan and I were supposed to take a nap. Mom used some metal curlers to curl my hair for the occasion. Then she put Jan and me to bed  in Mom and Dad’s bed. At the time, their bedroom was separated from the living room by a set of  sliding pocket doors. So Jan and I were told to go to sleep. Jan went to sleep almost right away, while I tossed and turned…wide awake!  In the pocket doors there were a couple of key holes that were just high enough in the doors for me to look through.  So, of course I peeked in, and there, across from the door, was a  doll-size table and chairs, with a babydoll sitting on each chair! I just stood there staring at my new toys. Then suddenly Mom opened the door   right in front of me.  Then Mom gently scolded me, and told me to get back in bed. She said that Santa was in the kitchen, and he wouldn’t be happy if he saw that I was awake. I went right back to bed and kept quiet until it was time for supper. This is one of my fondest Christmas memories. 

Her short term memories are virtually gone and yet she can write these amazing stories from her childhood. This is from about a year ago. she sent it to me in an email. She has almost no use of her computer these days. She does not know how to turn it on.

I am embarking on a global search of stories like this from her.

Carpe Diem and save the memories as best you can.

Full On Baking Mode

Well Thanksgiving is tomorrow, Christmas is a couple days afterward and then Easter is the following week. Cheryl thinks that anyway, so, we are all decorated for Christmas (Soon to be Easter) Season.

Yesterday I made banana nut bread out of some soon to be brown bananas purchased specifically for that purpose. Here is the result.

Later today we will make the sugar cookie recipe that Cheryl remembers as a child and later on she made when our kiddos were small. As you can see the Mirro cookie press booklet has been though many cookie wars. (The cookie press itself has been replaced many times.) I am in the process of transcribing these recipes for posterity but I suppose if I look hard enough I could find them elsewhere on the internet of all knowledge. I am not very busy. One more thing is okay.

The cookie dough has been hanging out in the fridge overnight so it should be perfect today.

Carpe Diem

More on Decorating

A new discussion popped into the conversation today, Cheryl is working her memory about where each ornament came from. There is a series of small flat wooden ornaments that she kept herself busy with when she was pregnant with our kids or they were very small around Christmas. They are painted flat pieces of plywood. She did these many years ago. At first they were always hung on the bottom of the tree so that little hands could touch and even remove them with no ill effect.

It is a memory lane thing. As the kids got older they would make ornaments for the tree. Some were made from wheat dough and cured in the oven and later varnished and painted. The last of these – a blue dog bone – is broken this year. (I may do my magic glue trick and resurrect it for display.) Some ornaments were purchased at a Christmas bazaar at the school our kiddos attended when they were growing up. Grand kids have made snow people with their names on them. Cheryl’s mother gave every one of her children a ornament from Macy’s commemorating some event each year when she was alive. All of the ornaments have a story that is remembered and spoken about as the tree is assembled ever so slowly.

The top row of pictures includes Sr. Laurencia’s bells and Grandma’s snowflakes. The oldest grand child, Laurencia, is named for Sr. Laurencia who had a very special relationship with Cheryl in her high school years and in our early married life. Grandma’s snowflakes was purchased by our daughter Anna and when Zachary came along I added a snowflake for him.

There are so many memories to share while putting the tree together.

Carpe Diem.

The Decorations Continue…

The tree went up today. Perhaps a bit early but hey, according to Cheryl Easter is in a couple days. We have to get ready. Some ornaments are placed in a special circumstance like a lamp or the chandelier that in the picture below. The twelve days of Christmas garland was placed on the china cabinet. That is a new position this year. Much like the trip to the shoe store it is an overwhelming task.

The dementia and associated cognitive decline keeps her from maintaining any focus for more than a few minutes. It also adds a twist of spontaneous creativity. We have had this floor lamp for years. today she said, How can I hang these on the pull chains?

Some ornaments were hung on it with care. The beaded garland went over the door to my hideout. There are more to come sometime. Late night punding has commingled with hanging ornaments. Sometimes the ornaments are viewed and reviewed and replaced in their storage container. So far the tree has captured about seven ornaments.

Not bad for three hours of activity. It can be dumfungling to her. (Use a new word often and it becomes yours.)

Carpe Diem

Foolish Man.

It was a less than brilliant idea of mine. We are backing into full on Christmas shopping mode. Today as we left her exercise class Cheryl asked, What should we have for lunch? Usually she is asking what sorts of leftover foods are in residence in our refrigerator. While I am stalling to think about what is in the fridge I asked her if she wanted to go to lunch in our favorite diner. She said yes.

Our neighbor works at this little lunch place in our little town. Carrie was working this day and we chatted and caught up for a bit. We had lunch and Cheryl mentioned that she thought there was something she needed to shop for but could not remember what it was. I was my helpful self and reminded her that she wanted to get some new slippers. I had bought her some Minetonka moccasins a couple years ago online and she had worn them enough that they were getting beat up. I suggested that we could find a shoe store and look for slippers. (FOOLISH MAN) I found the nearest Shoe Carnival and after checking online discovered that they had a couple varieties of lady’s slippers to choose from. (Why do I make suggestions and eventually order for her in a restaurant and never transfer that information to other similar situations. Why?)

I am taking her to a shoe store. (foolish man) Their slippers are in the back near the clearance racks. Foolish men think that they are going to zip in, get some slippers that fit, and slip out. That is why they are referred to as foolish ignorant men. Part of the X that men do not get at birth lies on the 27th chromosome near the end – SHOPPINGFORSHOES – the shopping sequence genome. The combination of the leather, vinyl, foam and cardboard pheromones commingle to trigger this gene sequence into action. It is remarkable that even a dopamine deficiency can be overwhelmed by this gene to enable the lame to walk with confidence. All balance issues disappear. A study should be made about this phenomenon.

I realized that I had taken her to a place that was significantly worse than a restaurant menu. I gave in and helped. We rejected with sadness all four-inch heels (although there was a woman my daughter’s age there shopping nearby that looked good in them.) Also rejected were those with pointy toe boxes on them. Too much toe repair to fit in that configuration any longer. Cheryl has walking shoes, some slippers and a couple pairs of Easy Spirit black flats. She has no lighter beige/tan/sand colored shoes if she is looking for “something different”. She wanted to think about and make a list of candidates for later. I suggested I could take pictures of the boxes to save for later. She replied that’s a good idea. After an hour and a half we left with pictures, notes and slippers.

Foolish man.

Carpe Diem.

Embrace It

In her blog, Cheryl Hughes, writes that many times it is better to “just let go”. She spent many years as care partner for her husband.

I have decided to do that in many ways. If I decide that we are having salad for dinner,  I buy a bag of salad. Salad kits are available.  It is way easier than chopping stuff. And there is enough for four typically so if you want lunch the next day you are good.

It can cost a little more but what is the harm in embracing the changes as a care partner. My Cheryl believes that Christmas is any minute now. Until a week or so ago I was resistant and felt the need to correct her thinking. What ever for? Why generate artificial stress? She will not remember being incorrect, she only remember that I think her to be wrong when she is certain that she is correct. I could embrace the fact that Christmas is next week and we should put up the decorations.

We got a catalog from Amazon which is unusual by itself but it has kid’s toys in it. I cynically remarked sometime ago about getting Raggedy Ann for our daughter and Anna chided me with – I am totally okay with Raggedy Ann! It could be fun. Between decorating actions my Cheryl searches through several cookie options in the Cheryl’s cookies catalog (too many Cheryl’s in this story) and looks for the perfect Christmas cards in the Printery catalog. Sometimes she is telling me about cards, sometimes cookies. What could be the best one or two? Of each?

The Christmas elf is sitting in the chair ready to help Santa. HO HO HO is on the front door. The little wooden Santa is falling off the closet door. Knitted Santa is on the clock. The inside of the front and side doors are decorated so that Santa cannot get in without being noticed. The decorations are moving along nicely.

Eddie bear always gets booted from his seat next to the telephone. He lost his telephone long ago. He seems to be okay with the rocker and he has a place to hang his elf hat.

Anna makes me smile as I think about it and she is right.  It could be fun to shop for gifts for the kids and grandkids. Perhaps I should embrace it. What difference is it if Christmas is a months long event? So I told myself a few days ago that we would go for it.

Now that the decision is made, we should be shopping for the kids.

We need to find sizes or which toys suit which kid best. Laurencia likes puzzles and building things. Virginia is crafty and plays trumpet. Vinny likes Lego kits. Gavin is into online gaming. Regan is off to college next year. Audrey is a dancer. Ellie? Dillon? Luke delivers pizza but his passion is photographic art. Lots to think about. Have I forgot anyone? I have got to find Raggedy Ann for Anna. Yep, lots to think about.

Cheryl has powerful childhood memories about the holiday season. There were many good times, parties, family gatherings and fun. Perhaps it is time to make some new ones.

Carpe Diem.