Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Place

Tomorrow is my daughter's birthday. She would have been 13. There is a space between the two boys I see, at times, as they walk, where she might have fit perfectly. There is a place next to me, when I sit with Maren on my lap and Chelsea's hands are on my shoulders, where she might have leaned into my side, just us girls. Her father's hand would reach at just about his chest, maybe, to smooth her hair as she hugged his middle.


We miss you, Kate Afton. I'm sorry we couldn't go to your grave.
But that's not where you are, anyway.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thank You, Stanek's

When I hear Vince Guaraldi's O Tanenbaum (#30 on my Christmas playlist on the right), I am caught in a small time warp. Okay, the time warp is getting more significant as the years go by, but it happens. Scents, sights, feelings surround me and I am 7, 10, 12. 15.
Every Thanksgiving my family would drive to Spokane, WA for a feast with my Dad's family. When my grandma worked at the Ridpath Hotel, we would dress up and go downtown to dine at the long tables set especially for us, and I would eat the waldorf salad. Yes, I would. Then we'd go back to my grandma's house on the south hill for pie and games and football and fun with our cousins. Before leaving downtown, though, we would walk, without much fear, to look at the window displays at Nordstrom's and other stores going all out for Christmas. There was usually snow, which we seldom had in the Seattle area, or in SW WA where we lived later, so to me, Christmas started there, after Thanksgiving dinner, in downtown Spokane.
The next day, Grandma, Grandpa, Mom and Dad would take us to Stanek's Floral. This is where O Tanenbaum comes in.
Outside the entry to this long, unassuming 60's style building were rows and rows of wreaths and fresh trees and red bows and yard decorations. The smell said, "Let us pull our cedar branches around you and you will be loved." Okay, they didn't say that, but I was 7 and that is how I felt. The jingle of the bell on the door meant Grandpa was holding it open for us and going inside was magic. Carols played boldly. Scents of pine and popcorn filled my nose. Past the poinsettias, which never held my attention, past the coolers of arrangements and the front counter, were trees.
Tree after tree after tree, elevated, decorated, each with its own theme, buckets of corresponding ornaments under its boughs. Flocked, firs, cedars, pines, white, spinning, thin, tall, small. Royal jeweled bangles with gold ribbons, sugared candies you knew were fake but somehow you were still tempted, manger themes with straw and birds and sheep and shepherds, musical instruments and scrolls of sheet music, woodland themes, toy themes, pink and white lace Victorian themes, Nutcracker, sports. I am remembering twenty, thirty trees, but I was 10, so maybe it seemed bigger than it was. My dad would scoop us out a paper bag of free popcorn and we would study, shop, to pick out the one ornament we wanted to get for the pixie name we had drawn.
Pixies were my family's Secret Santa tradition. All season long, we did secret acts, deeds, left mysterious notes and treats for the person's name we had drawn. A marshmallow snowman made with toothpicks and whole cloves left on a plate on a freshly made bed. A chocolate kiss in your socks. A shined mirror and a note stuck to it. A homemade nose-warmer for chilly walks to the mailbox.
And an ornament on Christmas morning.
You had to be secretive about buying it. It was good to have four adults around. My brother gave me a white glazed porcelain stocking I had admired out loud.
I still get all warm inside when I unwrap the tissue and hang it on the tree. I feel gratitude, not for things.
For my family. And Staneck's.
And I feel a little sad.
Because I went back to Stanek's with my oldest child when she was a year old. I wanted her eyes to light up and hear her little exclamations.
It had new owners... who watched me like a hawk, as if I were some stranger off the street, as I looked at the six trees they had up. There was no popcorn, and they kept asking me if they could help me. They no longer carried the graceful Fontanini nativity figures I had pored over as a girl. Finally, I shook my head, hoisted my little girl higher on my hip, and left. It was a sad drive home.
But I hear Guaraldi's O Tanenbaum. And it all comes back.

And I feel loved.

Friday, December 11, 2009

He Knows If You've Been Bad Or Good...

The morning of Maren's performance at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center I suggested to her that she clean her room when we got home. She looked around and had to agree. C-L-U-T-T-E-R.

So we had a Mommy-Daughter day at the BBHC (I highly recommend this), she danced, we strolled and explored and had our free cookies and lemonade, AND, she saw Santa. This was huge, because 1) the line was SHORT, and 2) we were allowed to take our OWN pictures, and 3) neither of us could remember her sitting with Santa aside from the church parties.

 And he was a good one.

 Maren told me why.

"What was Santa telling you?"

Eyes big, she said, "He told me to clean my ROOM." Shaking her head, "He MUST be real."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fun Gift Ideas

My friend, Angela, from way back in Klamath Falls (both of us have moved a couple of times since) has a great new website through Artfire called Forget Me Notes. She creates memory boxes, cards, and beautiful kits for giving or getting!
The fun part of this, for me, is that I was the "friend" she mentions on her site who introduced her to paper-crafting when I was a demonstrator for Stampin' Up!. Angela had convinced herself she was not creative AT ALL, but kept coming to the parties for support and social fun. Finally our friend, Gnene, gave her a gift certificate for her birthday, so she HAD to buy something and get down with her hiding creative self. It was so fun to see her grow!
By the time I was moving, and ready to pass my business to someone else, Angela was an established paper-crafter and gladly took over my business.
So please, check out Angela's site and browse around. You may find something perfect for gift-giving!

Wedding Memory Box

Our Girl Memory Box pieces

Card Pack

Friday, December 04, 2009

Oh, She's Good.

Yesterday I was picking up clutter, the after-school dump, and paused to look over the stockings, admiring.

Then, something caught my eye.

And I read this.

Read and learn, kids. The little toot.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sinking In

I am blogging it! The Orchard was accepted for publication by Covenant Communications today! I am so excited and wondering what to do between now and Spring/Summer 2011, but I am sure I will find a way to fill the time. My kids jumped up and down and my B grinned and giggled and my mom and sis and dad yelled through the phone and my friends said we must do something to celebrate!
So, now I am going to make loaves of cranberry orange bread for the RS luncheon tomorrow and bounce up and down a little bit more and think about how great this feels and enjoy the proud little smile from my B.
SO great. So amazingly unreal and great.

happily making a pie