Thursday, December 23, 2021

That's a Wrap

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Well, here it is two days to Christmas and I am less organized than I have ever been!! Somewhere in the distant past, I had the house decorated, cards sent, packages wrapped, all well before Christmas. There was a year or two when I even made cards by hand. What an idea!

We bought our tree on the first of December, a week earlier than I like but we were afraid our favorite tree lot would sell out. (Last year I waited too long and it was slim pickings.) But even starting early this year, it took me ten days to get the lights on and another few before I got all the ornaments hung. 

Here is a cheat photo of LAST year's Christmas tree with wrapped presents!


Last Saturday I did manage to decorate the mantel, which is one of my favorite Christmas things. But the dining room is still bare, and my lovely Santa collection that normally graces the little writing desk in the living room is still slumbering in an attic box.

Here's last year's table. I love my little woodland critters, the fox and the hedgehog, frolicking among the garlands, but they don't really show up in the photo.


I did actually finish a last bit of Christmas shopping yesterday, all online. (Can you say TWO DAY SHIPPING?)

But wrapping, oh heavens, I shudder to think of it. I vow every year that I will not, WILL NOT, end up wrapping on Christmas Eve. But there I fear I will be. I suspect there is going to be lot of stuffing things in dilapidated Christmas gift bags left over from previous years.

Yes, I save gift bags. And package decorations. And ribbon. Frugal and environmentally friendly, but mostly I just can't bear to throw a pretty piece of wired silk ribbon in the trash. I'm a good wrapper, however. In my family it was my dad who did the wrapping and he taught me early. My mom, conveniently for her, was a disaster at it.

There is a certain zen to wrapping, which I don't think my mom ever got. The trick is to get everything out that you need (especially good scissors and a good tape dispenser), make a cup of hot chocolate (or pour a glass of wine!), put on some Christmas music, and enjoy. On pre-Covid Christmases, my daughter and I would wrap together and I have really missed that.

So, REDs and readers, have you checked everything off your Christmas to-do list? Are you a wrapper or a bagger? Or a stick a gift card in an envelop-er?

Give us a status report!

And don't forget to tune in to First Chapter Fun today for Hank and Hannah's special Christmas reads!

Ho ho holiday reading! A very special treat on Hank's First Chapter Fun – – you know it, right?  Every Tuesday and Thursday at 12:30 PM ET on Facebook and Instagram live, Hank and Canadian Bestseller Hannah Mary McKinnon read the first chapter of a brand new book out loud. (As Hank always says: it's live! What could go wrong?) 
Tomorrow: Episode 223 – – can you believe it? – – is a special holiday reading. You’ll hear some holiday classics, so don’t miss it!
Join the private Facebook group here today https://www.facebook.com/groups/firstchapterfun/ so you can be in on the fun.
Or view on @FirstChapterFun on Instagram. 
It's the perfect lunchtime break!

 

 

127 comments:

  1. I tend to wrap and to use bags, depending on the gift. I also tend to shop early [I already have all the grandbaby birthday gifts for next year], so there’s never too much of the last minute thing as far as shopping and wrapping are concerned.

    However, writing the Christmas cards is my one concession to doing it at the last minute. I have the cards, but somehow I never manage to get them written and mailed until Christmas Eve . . . .

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    1. Joan, it would be a minor miracle if I actually got any written and sent BY Christmas Eve:-)

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    2. Christmas cards are the one thing I did early!

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    3. Well, technically it is Advent until Christmas Day, so cards that go before then are actually Advent cards. You have until 6 January to be in "Christmas". You know, that whole Twelve Days of Christmas thing.

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  2. We’re as ready as we’re going to be. Tree up, lit but no ornaments (cats who bat and climb), packages wrapped and tagged, menu prepared shopping done. I’m reading Christmas books from the post a few days ago. Waiting for Santa…

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  3. The Christmas spirit has totally abandoned me this year. I did wrap two paperbacks and got them mailed off to my buddy in Arizona right after Thanksgiving. We bought and wrapped some things for our granddaughter to give her before she went home on the 15th. (She is doing better. Still tired and dizzy-ish but the coughing has abated. Now her mother and her best friend have tested positive). I've done a minimum of shopping this year and have managed to delegate most of it to Frank. I've a little wrapping to do but not too much. No tree this year. No decorations inside the house, just Christmas cards we've received. I'm not sending out any cards. My brother and our next door neighbor will join us for beverages and snacks on the 25th and I think the boys will be doing most of the preparation for that too. Our son has been doing some cooking and baking so he may provide some of the goodies. I'm not deliberately being the Grinch or Scrooge this year, I am just blah.

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    1. Oh Pat, sounds like a tough year. Hope those who were exposed come through ok!

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    2. Pat, so glad to hear that you granddaughter is doing better and that hopefully you weren't exposed. Hope her mom and friend are better soon, too.

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  4. Disaster this year. We have our Christmas houses out and that's it. I love wrapping gifts though and I'm good at it. None this year. We did our shopping online and ended up sending through the retailers. Maybe next year in store
    shopping will again be a thing! Happy Ho Ho Hos to Reds and friends.

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    1. In store shopping is something to look forward to. I was hoping for a trip to our favorite mall here with my daughter. It's an annual thing to see their wonderful decorations, but, alas, not this year. Happy Christmas to you, Kait!

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    2. The mall here, judging by the parking lot as I drove past, was jammed. Hope they were all masked!

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  5. Tree going up today, about three weeks later than usual, but it's lucky to be here at all. No outside lights for the first time since we moved here 21 years ago. There is a wreath on the front door, courtesy of our neighborhood eagle scout's merchandising.

    And then there's snow. What was predicted to be a dusting is several inches. It is beautiful, heavy and wet, clinging to every bud and branch.

    Most of our gifts this year went to the House of Mercy, operated for years by Sister Grace. New warm coats for kids, and a bale of a hundred washcloths for hygiene! Sister Grace is an all purpose port in any storm.

    The children and their children all got money, but I have 2-3 things for Julie, small things, and then I can say "that's a wrap."

    BTW, I sent Julie out for a three pound standing rib. She came back with a three rib roast. It is the size of half of Texas. So if you've no where else to go ...

    Merry Christmas Reds xo

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    1. ANN: Ha ha about the roast
      Again I ask: do you deliver!?

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    2. Well, we were about to start driving north, anyway!

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    3. OMG, Ann, too funny. Roasts freeze really well so, if you've a good knife you could cut it into thirds and have a feast on Valentine's Day and then again...Also wonderful for left overs!
      I love stories like this one.

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    4. sounds delish! what time should we be there?

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    5. Ann, just bless Julie. It will be a feast fit for a queen! We have no outside lights this year, either, for the first time since we've lived in this house, and I really miss them. Hugs.

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    6. One year at Thanksgiving I was sick so I sent my 18-year-old daughter out for a turkey. She came back with a fully wrapped BOAR'S HEAD turkey from the deli. It was $40 !!! (And this was back in the 1990s so you know how expensive that was.) Admittedly, it was good turkey. She's 40 years old now and I still tease her about it.

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    7. Good story, Lorraine. Sometimes those little mistakes make for years of mirth.

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  6. I love it, Debs. I am exactly that kind of paper and ribbon recycler! I'm mostly set for gifts, although my choices were kind of boring, except for my best friend. I'll be prowling Etsy for ideas in a little while, and I won't see her until after Christmas, so I have a couple extra days.

    This year I actually got cards sent in time, amazing myself, and decorated all except for a tree. I have one more candy to make for the little boxes (rum balls!), a few more cookies to bake, a bit more wrapping to do.

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    1. But you've made cookies, Edith! Gigi gave me piece of her Collin Street bakery fruitcake, so that so far is my Christmas sweet treat. Oh, and our wonderful local baker is making chocolate cherry bread for the season, and it is amazing.

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  7. Not much Christmas spirit this year.
    I am not much of a wrapper of gifts in the best of time, and I try to be more environmentally conscious to not use holiday wrapping paper. Recycled boxes, gift bags or some sustainable form of wrapping is the way to go for me (e.g. Abeego bee wrap).
    I did all my in-person shopping this year (Italian bakery - panettone bought, indie bookstore). And my last food order will be delivered here Christmas Eve: gourmet pastries and chocolate from our local chocolatier, Cylie Artisans Chocolatiers. They pivoted to being totally online this year.

    I have most of the ingredients for my (solo) decadent Christmas main meal: foie gras, game meat tourtiere, Brome Lake duck breast. Nio turkey this year.

    Merry Christmas REDS and readers! xoxo

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    1. ANN: Thank you for getting me out of my baking funk. Baking the JRW mincemeat fruitcake on Sunday did spur me on to bake my tried-and-tested almond stollen the next day. Since I can't share my home baked goodies due to Omicron rearing its ugly head, I will bake just 1 holiday cookie recipe - Leslie B's chocolate crinkle cookies.

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    2. That duck breast isn't from a critter who famously mutters a foul word, is it? LOL

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    3. Three Pines is set at Brome Lake, in case anyone didn't get the joke.

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    4. KAREN: HA HA, yes the duck breast comes from the part of Quebec close to the setting of Louise Penny's books.

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    5. LOL, Karen, Grace would never...

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    6. Yes, Grace, you and Ann definitely helped me get out of my baking funk, too. I made a Raspberry/Dark Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake last night and it is fabulous.

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    7. Rest assured everyone: LONG LIVE ROSA!

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    8. Thanks to the Christmas baking conversation that started here on Sunday and extended over to Facebook thereafter where I posted a cheeky comment about missing out on Grace and Ann's cake making -- what should be delivered to my door but a taste of Grace's baking! Thanks to the wonders of UPS and Grace's generous spirit, I feel connected across the distance to the kitchens and hearts of JRW's international community. Let's hear it for readers and writers and bakers and friends this Christmas! Thank you, GRACE. xo

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    9. AMANDA: THANK YOU for asking for a taste of my home-baked holiday treats. You gave me the push to bake the almond stollen, and I was glad to send you one + some fruitcake. Seriously, it is hard to find people who WANT TO EAT FRUITCAKE, lol. And that mincement fruitcake was HUGE, way to much for me, and my chest freezer is already full to the brim.

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    10. GRACE: The pleasure is all mine! Truly. Yum, yum.

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    11. Love this! What a community! And true, Grace would never.....

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    12. I love this!!!! What a great community we have here!!! And Grace, thanks for reminding me that I have a duck breast in the freezer! Not from Brome Lake, though:-)

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  8. There’s no doubt some years Christmas prep is more successful than others and for some reason this year I mainly have it together. Starting out a Brit Christmas has always been the most important holiday for me. The tree would go up a week or usually less before the day as it will stay up for the twelve days to Epiphany. Until COVID struck, we have spent the past few years at our daughters house but this year she and grandboys are with us so I bought a tree, a tabletop tree from the market wholes name shall not be spoken. But it was exactly what I had dreamt of for this year. Perfect. I have enough ornaments and the old lights lit up and bring me joy. But wrapping, I love the idea and my mind immediately goes to THAT scene in Love Actually. Who wouldn’t want to receive a gift wrapped like that? So that’s on the list for today. But cards, cards, I’ve struggled with my procrastination over cards for years. But this year with Victor signing up a storm, I finished our letter, found the cards left from last year And they have gone flying round the world. The only thing left is to wish you all a very merry Christmas which I do.

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    1. Merry Christmas! I did a big card send, too... first time in years and totally out of character. But then, it's been a rather uinque year

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    2. Merry Christmas to you, too, Celia! And Hallie I got your lovely card in this morning's post!

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  9. Deborah,

    I am done with shopping. Depending on the people I'm gifting AND what I bought for them, I wrap or bag. And some people get gift cards. It's variable.

    I don't decorate, that was my mom's thing, so I don't have to worry about any of that.

    And while I live up to the stereotype of a guy being unable to wrap gifts so that they look like they belong in a magazine ad, I do a decent enough job. All but a couple of gifts that I hadn't bought at the time were wrapped one of the days I was at home recovering from pneumonia.

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    1. Hope you are feeling better, Jay!

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    2. Jay, we've missed you! Hope you are feeling lots better!

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    3. Flora, yes I'm doing better. I was cleared by my doctor but I will admit that I've been getting tired a bit easier than usual since the pneumonia. So I work until I feel tired and then I rest up a bit.

      Deborah, I've been reading the blog every day but I don't comment on every topic unless I have something worth saying. So that might be why it seems like I have disappeared a bit.

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  10. Usually I bag, but this year I mostly wrapped gifts, and got it all done last night, accompanied by an audio book, and then a Christmas radio program hosted by a longtime friend.

    No tree this year, unless you count the massive Costco poinsettia, but a few scattered decorations, including a wreath or two, and Christmas-themed books in the Little Free Library.

    Truthfully, I have way more Christmas spirit than I did last year. The vaccines have helped, as has the fact that everyone who we will be with over Christmas has tested negative! Best gift ever.

    May all the Reds and Reds-adjacent have a lovely, warm and joy-filled holiday. I treasure you all, and wish you glad tidings.

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    1. Karen, I'm going to draft Rick to help me. He's a good wrapper, too. (Although a bit bossy about it.) I'm so happy you're getting together with family!

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    2. I wish we could have Poinsettias inside, but they are poisonous and we have cats. The one outside the front door isn’t happy with the 31 degree nights.

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    3. Thanks, Debs, we are, too.

      That's too bad, Rick. Hope the poinsettia survives the chill!

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  11. Uhhhh . . . I made it through last night's Christmas concert! We had a big band, a packed house, and are just crossing our fingers that it won't turn into a superspreader event. Because it was FUN! There was actual holiday cheer! Everybody went home happy. Now, is there some other holiday or event I need to pay attention to? What do you mean, Saturday? I have a tiny tree with lights, a modest pile of presents, and an apricot pecan fruitcake. I think, after all the concert festivities, I'll be self-isolating for Christmas.

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    1. I got to listen to the live stream of the concert! It was wonderful! And it actually made me feel Christmas-y for the first time this year!

      Gigi, we can do our prezzies outside since it will be tropical here this weekend!

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  12. Oh, Gigi -- I'll be thinking of you when I dig into MY apricot pecan fruitcake!

    My kids are coming and I am holding my breath because at any moment one of us could spike a fever and plans could go out the window.

    Wrapping: I went through a scroogey period where I wrapped gifts in newspaper (SUnday comics) and stuck a picture of a bow cut from a magazine ad on the top. Impossible today with e-papers and no more glossy magazines... This is inspiring me put ribbons around the packages I've wrapped. And tags.

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    1. Hallie, I love comics for wrapping paper. I've done that, too and packages look terrific wrapped that way!

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    2. Hallie, that isn't Scroogey - it's environmentally responsible! As are Debs and me with our recycled paper and ribbon. ;^)

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    3. I have to admit I don't recycle wrapping paper unless it's very, very special. Hallie, fingers crossed that everyone will okay!

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    4. The apricot pecan cake is sooo good, Hallie! I will think of you, as you think of me, and we'll both enjoy a cup of tea with it. I'm wishing you and your whole family a happy, healthy holiday!

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    5. GIGI and HALLIE" After getting the link from Karen and tip about the 15% discount, I ordered the apricot pecan cake. No idea when delivery will happen...some time in January, I suspect. But this will be a New Year's treat that I am looking forward to enjoying here in snowy Ottawa. Happy holidays!

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    6. I just wish that apricot pecan fruitcake was apricot WALNUT, as pecans are on my “no, thank you” list.

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    7. I don't recycle wrapping paper, but I have not bought either ribbons or wrapping paper since my last kid was in junior high. They're in their mid-30d now! And my daughter and I laugh every year when we recognize gift bags from previous years.

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  13. Debs, thank you for sharing the lovely photos of your holiday decorations. It sure looks festive!

    I mailed out Christmas cards yesterday. Just a wee bit late. I buy gorgeous cards from National Wildlife Federation every year. When I was a realtor, I would begin to write out dozens of cards to our friends, to many of Irwin's co-workers and to my clients and former clients at around Thanksgiving and they would have all arrived by now. The plague has really sapped my enthusiasm for the holidays. Then, this year, Hanukah pounced so early, the box of gorgeous NWF cards that I bought in the summer sits untouched. Maybe next year I'll plan ahead.

    As for wrapping, I have the gene. I can wrap any item; any shape or size and I love to do it. But I learned my lesson. I bought a gift for Jonathan and Cristina's anniversary in September, and it sat in the back bedroom until Thanksgiving. I wanted to hand it to them. The same thing happened with Quinn's birthday and Quinn and Jude's Hanukah presents in early December. We didn't go until last week because Kenai was sick. I sure understand why so many are doing less and also why so very many are doing more. Take that Covid 19!

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    1. Judy, my daughter is a realtor, too, and her efficiency astounds me. It is a prerequisite for the job!

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  14. Our decorations got up, but much later than usual - normal schedule is first week of Advent and this year, well...

    Cookies are finally baked. But wrapping? Um, no. Gift bags FTW!

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    1. LOL Liz! I wonder how many I have...

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    2. Deb, The Hubby forced me to do a purge years ago so I think I'm down to a reasonable number.

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  15. I absolutely love to wrap presents! But here is my one wrapping secret: use last year‘s Christmas cards. Take the cards and cut off the part with the words. Then see what cute tags you can make from the decorated front.
    Sometimes you can cut out a wreath or a bird or a bell, other times I just randomly cut them in abstract pieces and they are gorgeous!
    You just have to make sure the back is blank for you to write the greeting.
    It’s really fun, and just creative enough to make me feel like I have done something clever.

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    1. Yes! We always packed up gifts to spend Christmas in Ohio with the grandparents, so bows were no good for Tetrising the boxes into bags for transport. Reused cards made beautiful flat decorations.

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    2. Hank,my late MIL taught me to do that, when decorating presents with using the front of old cards! Brilliant!

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    3. That is a great idea, Hank, and I have last year's cards out, along with the boxes of cards I haven't sent yet...

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  16. I subcontract wrapping to my daughters. They're also handling desserts this Christmas. We had a shortage of wrapping paper in Cincinnati this year, so whatever's on hand will have to do.

    An interesting note: our garbage company emailed that they would accept wrapping paper and gift bags in the recycling cart, but no tissue paper or ribbons.

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    1. That's great that they'll accept the paper, Margaret! We just have to throw ours away, although we have pretty good recycling here for most things.

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  17. Debs, your pictures are beautiful.

    Like most years, a couple of days before Christmas, yesterday I put up my artificial tree. It is a three feet pine in which are incorporated optic fibres through the branches along with a few little stars. At the base there is a concealed color wheel that brings colours to the tree. I find it very beautiful. I place it on my living room table just beside the window. So, when lighted it makes decorations for inside and outside. Did I say I like simplicity ?
    At the foot , I place my crèche (the one my ex-husband and I made the first year of our marriage 49 years ago ).

    I didn’t feel like doing it but now that it is done and that it is beautiful, I feel better and proud to have make the effort.

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    1. That sounds absolutely lovely, Danielle. Simple is so beautiful!

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    2. That sounds beautiful, Danielle. Sometimes simple is best. When we put the lights on the real tree I'm always tempted just to leave it that way. It looks magical.

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    3. DANIELLE: Your decor sounds lovely. Hope you have a lovely Christmas.

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  18. I love wrapping, treat it like its own creative endeavour and always recycle from my collection of paper and tissue and bags from received items. And, like Hank, I repurpose old cards, either as gift tags or as new cards (cut out/off the image and glue onto a piece of cardboard or a blank card from the art store).

    With omicron numbers rising all around, there'll be no socializing this year for us. Not that there ever is much, but even the possibility of it has been taken away this Christmas. Will plan for a quiet day of peaceful gratitude; so far, Val and I are healthy, as is the rest of my family. Fingers crossed we all remain so.

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    1. That sounds like a lovely day, Amanda.

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    2. AMANDA: I hope and Val have a safe Christmas filled with yummy food. Ottawa (and Ontario) hit record high daily COVID cases today. I am so glad I had planned on a solo Christmas since our local medical officer is now asking people to cancel family gatherings. Our dining group's solo Christmas dinner at the Westin was canceled this morning by the hotel (out of an abundance of caution) but it left 19 solo diners without Christmas dinner plans.

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  19. When we were kids and I must have been 11, maybe twelve, the tree would be up but there were no gifts under it. Then one day about a week before (maybe that time doesn’t make sense as the tree only went up a week before) but anyway, my mother put two presents under the tree – one for my sister and one for me. Her present was square. Obviously, my mother did not have two boxes, so mine was randomly wrapped –this was long before putting something in a bag. I was alive with curiosity. I could not stop looking at it, handling it, and generally being a nuisance about it. Since I picked it up and held it, and manipulated it, and shook it at lunch and then again after school – it MORPHED ITS SHAPE! Wow – what is this? My mother said “don’t get too excited.” “You are going to be disappointed.” Finally, Christmas came. We moved all the presents and us next door to my Grandparents – can you imagine we took suitcases and stayed for a week. At last, my excitement was about to be sated. The shape by now was non-geometrical. There was more tape than paper as my mother had had to keep taping it back together. I ripped the thing open...there was the ugliest turquoise blue plastic light to go on the headboard of my bed. Whomp! She was right – not disappointed as much as stunned.
    However, in hindsight, I imagine my mother had more fun with that ugly gift than any other gift she ever gave. By the way, my sister got a pink one. She didn’t care.

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    1. I love this story, Margo, because it rings so true with me: The real fun and joy of the season is the anticipation of all it could be. Sometimes, if we're really lucky, that anticipation is matched by the actual experience or event.

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    2. I love this story, Margo. I could just picture it all. And I hope you read by the headboard light!

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    3. I got a reputation with my husband’s family as a package shaker, so his brother put BBs in my gift one year.

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    4. Omigosh, Margo, I just read your story to my husband, and we both had to wipe tears from laughing so hard. Thank you for sharing this!

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  20. Computer ate my lengthy comment, so I'll add just this: a happy holiday to one and all.

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  21. OMGoodness, it appears we are twins separated at birth, Deb. I could have written every word here regarding online shopping (yay, FEDEX & UPS!), giftwrapping (I say, modestly, that I am at EXPERT level in this category-LOL!), reusing gift bags and ribbon (of course!), baking cookies (I'll be lucky to get a dozen or two baked today...maybe), and, yes, the fun I had making my own Christmas cards in years long ago (oh, what I'd pay for the extra time to be able to do that again)! My biggest regret this year is that, for the second year in a row, I failed to unpack my (somewhat out-of-control) collection of Dept. 56 Snow Village buildings and put them on display. Maybe next year...sigh... May your days be merry and bright, fellow scribes! And may 2022 bring you lots of good words that need minimal editing! :)

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    1. LC, reusing your gift bags and ribbon is the frugal Maine way!

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    2. That last wish is the very best, LC!

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  22. No spirit here at all. No decorations. Although I did donate 2 bags or ornaments in boxes to my library. They have a small tree in the lobby and people can help themselves and leave a donation. More ornaments are on a table next to the tree. It did make me very happy yesterday to see so many of my ornaments on the tree; I'm hoping they will all find good homes.

    All of the gifts I bought were online and except for one arriving tomorrow (fingers crossed) they are all wrapped. Thank goodness most of them were wrapped before my sciatica got worse. It is very painful now to stand for more than half a minute. So many things I am now doing sitting down. If anyone has a remedy, please let me know.

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    1. Oh, Judi, I'm so sorry. The one thing I know of is a lumbar cortisone shot. My mother was plagued with sciatica, and they gave her relief, although the effect wears off and you need to go back for more shots.

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    2. Thank you, Julia, I will look into that. Although when I had plantar fasciitist the cortisone shots did nothing. But that was back then and in a different place.

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    3. I have also heard that is very helpful, Judi. I am having knee issues myself so I know that not being able to stand for long is really trying. Hoping you find some relief in the new year.

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    4. Judi, I am so sorry to hear about your sciatica. I've been in PT for the last month since we returned from Florida where my back went out so badly that I couldn't stand up. The gurus (physical therapists) there are helping me get back to normal...but I have months of working out the kinks in front of me.

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    5. JUDI: Ugh, I have had sciatica flare-ups before, so I know how much it hurts.
      Hope you feel better soon.

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    6. Thank you all for the kind thoughts. That really helps you know.

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  23. Our tree went up right after Thanksgiving at older nephew's insistence. It's artificial and has twinkly lights that change colors--and it is immune to the cats using it as a scratching post, although Jimmy did manage to climb into the tree last night. I love it when the lights go mostly green and we have a Grinch-like cat peering out at us. Snow globes are out, a few outdoor decorations. One batch of cookies to bake for younger nephew (can't believe he asked for cookies!). The menu set and everything on hand for Christmas dinner. Gifts arrived and wrapped--I do a decent jjob and reuse/recycle as much as I can from year to year. Sending holiday cheer to you all, wishing I could give you all a hug! XXOO

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    1. Yes, hugs!! I would so love to see everyone in person and HUG! Flora, our cats don't climb in the real tree, but our plant-eating cat loves to chomp on it and then of course throws up. Such fun.

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  24. Nope, nada,nothing this year. I'm still not well and don't have the energy to do anything but at least now I can type with 2 hands again. I used to write out and we even made some cards, but now everyone mainly uses 'the net', and I gave up wrapping, mostly, in favor of gift bags. I guess I'm like Pat said, not really a grinch, just blah this year.

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    1. Lynn, I feel like this is a year, like last Christmas, when everyone understands we all have to do the holiday at our own pace - which may be limited to lighting a pine scented candle and sitting down to stream Christmas movies!

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    2. Lynn, sending you hugs. This has been a hard year and we are perfectly entitled to feel blah.

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    3. LYNN: Take care, sending hugs, and best wishes for a better 2022!

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    4. No, Lynn, everyone doesn’t use the net, sending cards is still a thing, we sent about 40 and get about the same, each year. Ours went out December 3.

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  25. Surprisingly on schedule here. Tree was up early (because supply chain threats). Cards all went out on time, presents almost all wrapped. Just the baking to do... Traditional Christmas Mandelbrot (I know....) for my partner, and decorating the Bûche de Noël, which is always fun. So I'm set to go and spend Christmas Eve & Christmas morning with my daughter, SIL and grandkids.

    However...

    ...someone in my son-in-law's family attended a wedding last Saturday, and now everyone's plans are up in the air, as rapid tests and PCR tests get done... It may just be another year of Doorstep Delivery. :^((

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    1. Susan, I went to a cousin's birthday party last Saturday - about 25 people, masked most of the time, windows open - and someone was diagnosed with Covid afterwards. I'm going on for my test today, crossing fingers I don't have to tell Youngest and Guest Son to stay home tomorrow.

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    2. Oh, yikes, Susan. Fingers crossed.

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  26. I knocked off most of my shopping yesterday, with the mindset of "good enough," rather than trying to find the perfect present. I save receipts, and am happy to help return and replace after the holidays. There's a little bit of Christmas in all the rooms, and if my son and daughter in law want to do more, that's fine, and if not, that's fine to. We're all focusing on the one really valuable gift this Christmas - being together in person for the first time in a year.

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    1. Julia, you've got the Sailor there? Did I somehow miss that he got married???

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    2. What?! Sailor is married and you didn't tell us?

      Mazel tov!

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  27. I've been behind this Christmas, too. We have a new artificial tree this year, and it did go up right before Thanksgiving, so we could have some festive decorations for Thanksgiving dinner. But, the ornaments didn't get put on the tree for another two weeks. I have plenty of decorations out now, but for the first time since I started collecting them and grew my collection to a village size, my beloved Bonnie Lynn snowmen (which they no longer make) are still in their boxes. How could I have let that happen?

    I haven't wrapped one package yet, and I'll be gone from home in about an hour and won't be back until tonight, so Christmas Eve wrapping for me. I use more and more bags each year, but I try to have some wrapped presents, too, for the kids. And, I have two packages that just arrived this morning from UPS. OK, off to start a very busy day.

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    1. Yes, the kids need to have boxes to unwrap! Good look on your busy day, Kathy!

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  28. I'm good with wrapping though often end up waiting until the day before because I'm just too lazy to get it done. My sister and brother-in-law's gifts are arriving today at their house. My sister volunteered to find the tools my nephew wanted, and I have my niece's tea pot loosely wrapped in bubble wrap, held together with a single piece of heavy tape so I can get through the airport on Christmas day with minimal fuss. Hopefully flying out from a small airport makes it a little easier than the big ones, with little parcel. My little tree has been up for weeks and last weekend I pulled out my bins that have grandma's Madona, my old stocking and my Christmas eggs are seeing the light day for the first time in three years.

    I made my tried-and-true cranberry and green chile sauce last night, I'm dumping it. It may be tried-and-true but I'm out of practice. I'm really not looking forward to Christmas, services have been cut down from three to two on Christmas Eve, I've been asked not to put up the parish creche until after the 4pm service. That gives me about 30 minutes if our rector decides he needs a walk through before the 7pm service. The traditional late service has been cancelled "due to the pandemic". Why that one and not one of the earlier services which are relatively newer?

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  29. I have inspired myself! Looking at the pictures I posted and thinking about how cheerful things looked made me want to finish the decorations, even if they are late. But first I have a chapter to finish...

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  30. My decorations happened later than usual, but my wrapping was done faster than usual. About to pack up and hit the road for my family in Northern California.

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  32. LOL - I despise wrapping. Gift bags for the win! Love your tree from Christmas past, Debs. Happy Holidays, everyone!

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  33. We have all of our descendants here, so we did lots of shopping early, and even managed to get the wrapped presents arranged nicely around the table holding our artificial tree (which we put up and decorated Thanksgiving weekend). Then yesterday we drove down to MD to inflict some birthday joy on my dad, who just turned 98. And of course we ended up bringing home gifts, mostly for the grandkids, from all my sisters, so we'll do some creative "Tetrising" (great image, by the way!) to get them in around the tree and not too close to the fireplace. Same as we're doing in the refrigerator with all the holiday food. We didn't feel like sending out updates about the year and all our challenges, so we'll wait till the new year to send out some cards.

    To quote a shirt I saw the other day, Happy whatever doesn't piss you off! Or, more succinctly, Merry everything!

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  34. Decorating for Christmas is not in my tradition, and we go away. I've watched Love Actually and the new Agatha Raisin episode this week, and that's more than I usually do. I will get to enjoy decorations while we're out and about.

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  35. I decorated and sent out Christmas cards. However, thanks to my cousin being in rehab after surgery and the Covid situation, I won't be exchanging presents with anyone this year. I hope next year will be better.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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  36. Merry Christmas! Use bags! They can be recycled! I love them!

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  37. Joy, Peace and Health to all of you and yours this year. This year's resolution: Don't sweat the small stuff.

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