09 December 2016

Homemade Noodles

This post is actually related to two things I participate in:

Carole and Kat's Think Write Thursday, and Sprite's Virtual Advent Tour.  And as it so happened, both asked us to write about our favorite holiday tradition.  I have thought long and hard about this, and I cannot choose just one, or even decide if it's more favorite than another.  Instead, I've decided to write about something *related* to a holiday tradition in my family.

Our big Christmas meal was always on Christmas Eve.  This was largely because my parents were incredibly social, so Christmas Day, after church, we'd be lucky if we ever got near a meal, between people stopping to visit us, and us visiting others.  So about the time I was 8 years old, my parents decreed that our big family meal would be on Christmas Eve.

Something to keep in mind is that it was seldom ever just our immediate family.  There were always extra people, friends of my parents who might not have anywhere to be, friends of my sisters who weren't going home for Christmas, orphans from the orphanage where my great-aunt (one of the nuns previously written about) who had no where to go, and I don't know ... just others.

Also, my parents tended to go all out at Christmas.  We were relatively poor, but they would take money out of their savings, and use credit for Christmas - both for foods and for gifts.

So that's the background.

One year, my father realized that his Uncle Bill and Aunt Viola would be alone at Christmas for the first time, as both of their adult daughters had found jobs in California and wouldn't be able to travel home.  They didn't make plans to go to California, because according to my father, Uncle Bill was "so cheap he would not pay a nickel to see Christ jump off the cross."  (Yeah, I know.)  So my parents decided to invite them for Christmas Eve dinner.  When my mother called to invite them, she told Aunt Viola to feel free to bring anything that was something they generally had for Christmas dinner, and it would be included.  Aunt Viola said that she would bring homemade noodles, because they were "Bill Arthurs' favorite."*

Aunt Viola was a good cook (or, as my father said, "Does it just seem that way because you never get enough to eat at their house?"), and the idea of homemade noodles was exciting to all of us, particularly since my mother never really made homemade anything.  So we were all looking forward to trying them.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve dinner.  Everyone is there, and the table is COVERED with food of all kinds.  There's talking, laughing, drinking, eating, and at some point during the meal, Aunt Viola asked my mother about the noodles.  My mother responded in a surprised and contrite fashion, saying that with all the people and all the food, she forgot to fix them.  Disappointing to be sure, but it's not like anyone was going to go away hungry.

Only after every single person but our immediate family had gone, did we learn the truth.  Aunt Viola arrived with a small baggie of homemade noodles - enough for a serving for Uncle Bill!  My parents said there was no way in the world (well, they said it more colorfully) that they were going to cook a single serving of something for one person.  My father claimed this was further proof of their cheapness.  My mother pointed out to us that, "Well, it *is* your father's family."**

So we never did get the homemade noodles.  But to this day, whenever we eat our Christmas meal, I think about those homemade noodles, which have become holiday legend in our family.  We'll sit down to eat, and even The Tim will say, "Oh, I forgot to cook the homemade noodles!"

The Tim and I have a tradition of a special Christmas Eve meal, and then a special Christmas Day meal.

But sadly, neither includes homemade noodles in any amount ...

*Our last name was Arthur.  However, Aunt Viola always referred to Uncle Bill as "Bill Arthurs."

**My mother was from a small family, and had cousins rather than siblings.  So she enjoyed pointing out to us the failings of my father's family.  :-)

P.S. If you want to sign up for the Virtual Advent Tour, go here.   It's fun and there are still some slots left!

06 December 2016

November Harry's Hundred Update

Before I get too carried away with December (and God knows I do get carried away!), I wanted to give you the Harry's Hundred update for November.  It was a good month!  Not just because the items below joined so many others that people have contributed, meaning that those who need some special warmth and attention will be getting it, but because here we are with one month left in the Project, and:


I am so incredibly excited about this, and humbled that so many people - particuarly ones I will never meet in person - have participated.  People all over the U.S. and Europe!  I had hoped that at least a few people that I am in touch with on a regular basis would contribute, and *hoped* we could get close to, or at least reach 100 by the end of the year.  I am truly blown away by the thoughtfulness of people.  

So, let's take a look at the things from November that pushed up the numbers.

From Gringa Turista (Rav link), who has done so many lovely mittens and included them in Harry's Hundred, we have three more pairs:

 Blue Popcorn Mittens

 Black and Blue Mittens

 Grey Guys

From marjos (again, Rav link), in Belgium, who has been knitting for local shelters, we have So.Many.Things! (Plus, according to her profile, she has two pups, so you know she has to be a good person, right?)

 3 blankets, 1 shawl, 1 readers wrap, 1 pair fingerless mitts, 4 hats

35 hats
(I'm 99% sure I haven't knit 35 hats in my entire life, much less in one fell swoop ...)

Now I have to tell you, when I got the messages from these two people and realized they would put the Project over 100 items, I was so touched, I cried.  Because people will be getting these and they will be able to feel warm, cozy, and hopefully at least a little bit loved.  And for a lot of them, it may be the only thing making them feel that way.

That is what it's all about in the end.  Kindness and giving, without expecting personal thanks or recognition from the recipients.  Giving because you want to, not because you feel you have to.  Not worrying about who receives it, or if they'll wear it or use it the way *you* would want them to.  Real gifts.

Thank you so much!  I would like to think that Harry is smiling big in heaven, knowing that these things were donated in his name to help other people.  I know I'm smiling big right here.  :-)

Here's our tally with a month still to go:

Goal:  100
Tally so far:  124!!!!!

Now that my gift-knitting has been completed, I'm hoping to squeeze in a few more things myself, and I hope if you are so inclined, you'll do so too.

Amazing.  In the best way possible.

Happy Holidays, indeed.  :-)

05 December 2016

December Q&A Hooray!

Kathy has some good holiday season questions for us this week in her quora, so I thought I'd share my answers.  'Cause, you know, I'd just hate to deprive you ... ;-)

*Can you knit something by heart?

I can knit basic socks by heart, and now, I'm 99% sure I could knit both the Turn A Square Hat and Portfolio Scarf by heart!  Though who knows in 6 months, they may be part of the mists in my mind.

*Would you like some yarn for Christmas?

Let's just say I wouldn't be upset.  But it's not like I'm currently wishing for any particular yarn, and hoping against hope that someone gifts me with it.

*Did you shovel any snow this December?

No.  We've had lots of rain instead of snow.

*Can you make a bow for a package or a gift?

Yes.  I love wrapping presents and making bows.  They aren't very elaborate, but they are bows ...

*Do you buy used books or new? 

Hm.  Frankly, I don't buy a lot of books at all, other than maybe the occasional knitting book.  Then it's a mix of the two.  Most of the time, I'll borrow books from the library.

*Have you seen a living Nativity?

No, and to be honest, I'd really only be interested in the animals anyway.

*Have you ever received home-baked cookies in the mail?

Just the other day, as a matter of fact!  A co-worker from long ago, who was originally trained as a pastry chef, has sent us Christmas cookies ever since she moved out of town.  We enjoy them, but I'm always a little bit surprised/flummoxxed, since though we were co-workers, we were never particularly close, and she is truly one of the strangest people I have ever met.  Having said that, we love getting the package of cookies!

*When was the last time your toes froze and your nose was red?

I honestly can't remember the last time my toes froze.  And my nose is always red in cold weather, regardless of temperature or how I'm dressed.

*Did you know that Christmas and Hanukkah are intertwined this year?

Yes, I did.  I always check, since I am intrigued every year to find out the dates for Hanukkah.

*Do you love to get a Christmas card?

Yes I do!  It's actually part of the reason I started my little holiday project, which has been extended through tomorrow, December 6.  (So far we have a small but enthusiastic group.)  I love to get mail in the first place, and Christmas and holiday cards make me feel even happier!

Though admittedly, I do not want to see this happen - I told The Tim, I hope Jack the kitten doesn't find a selfie stick somewhere ... ;-)

04 December 2016

Nice Try, Universe

Hello there - I hope you are all enjoying and/or surviving December.  Thanks for all the nice comments about my post welcoming the month.

Remember the cold I had, that had started to worm its way into my system over Thanksgiving?  Well, for a couple of days, it acted all casual, like "OK, Bridget, I'll give up and you can feel better, no big deal."  And I was pleased about that.  And then, the Universe apparently stepped in and said, "Nope.  You're gonna have to feel a lot worse before you can even *think* of feeling better."  And I have NOT been pleased about that.  I have, however, carried on as best I can (even if I basically was just able to function well enough to go to work, and then would come home and crash), so I feel that the joke is [mostly] on the universe.   Because in spite of its efforts, I've still been happily thinking about it being Christmastime, listening to Christmas music, and reading Christmas-themed books.  Granted, I have also been taking medicine, cough syrup, and cough and throat drops.   But. Not. The. Point. ;-)

However, as a result, I am behind on things, so I have decided to extend the deadline for anyone who wants to participate in the Great 2016 Holiday Snail Mail Card Exchange, to the end of the day on Tuesday, December 6.  Then I'll send out the list to everyone on Wednesday, December 7.  So far we have a few people, so I think it will be easily manageable for everyone involved, and anyone else who would like to join us.  So please do, the more the merrier!

We did something we haven't done for a while last night - had a small gathering and a dinner party.  We had originally invited people for the day after Thanksgiving, but since both of us were sick we rescheduled for last night.  It was pretty low-key, and nothing very complicated was served, and we had a great time.  Though no one left until about 1:30 a.m.!!  I cannot remember when I have been up so late on purpose, and I was pretty useless today as a result.  But it was worth it.  Though I think the most exhausted family members were the cats ...

This week our Christmas plans and preparations really go into gear.  The Tim is planning to bring the boxes o' decorations up, and we'll go and pick out a tree.  So exciting!

I hope all of you have had a good weekend, and are not feeling crummy at all like I am!  I'll be back soon with more ramblings.  Have a good week!

01 December 2016

And December Is Beginning

Well, we've arrived.  Today is December, which means that 2016 only has a few weeks left.

It's also Think Write Thursday, and today, Carole and Kat have given us the topic "Hello, December."

Hello, December ~ I hope you know how glad I am to see you, but also how bittersweet you are to me.

I love it when you show up, because Christmastime is one of my favorite times of all.  Unlike most people I know, I don't find the season stressful or annoying.  Rather, I look forward to the decorations, the music, the feeling of anticipation, and the fun of making or buying gifts for people.

I love it when you are cold, because to me, December is supposed to be cold.  I love that you are dark, because it makes the lights of the season and the idea of the Winter Solstice seem more special and beautiful.  I wish you would be at least a little bit snowy, but that seems to be something only in my childhood memories most of the time now.

I think you like showing up and making people pay attention.  Even those who do not celebrate any holiday realize that it might be time to wrap up some plans, and/or start thinking ahead to what will be next.  It's hard to travel through December and not notice something!

Then again, I think of my mother's birthday on December 2, and how we would ease into Christmastime between Thanksgiving and then, and then afterwards, it was full speed ahead.  I remember what fun it would be to make sure that she had a birthday, and not a Christmas/birthday combination.

My father LOVED Christmastime, and is most likely the person who passed that love on to me.  He'd be so busy with decorations, and cooking, and wrapping gifts.  And he'd always ask us if we didn't think he sounded just like Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby when he'd sing Christmas carols (the answer, in cas.e you are wondering, was always "no").

All the Christmases we would all be together, in one place all at once, having so much fun celebrating and catching up with each other, and all of the nieces and nephews having a chance to get to know each other and having such fun waiting for Santa.

And most recently of all, my favorite recent tradition on Christmas Eve.  Since The Tim always has to work, I'd put Dug's reindeer antlers and jingle bell collar on him, and we would take a Christmas Eve afternoon walk through Rittenhouse Square.  People couldn't help but smile, and some people would want to take his picture, or have their picture taken with him.  He loved the attention.  And I always told him that if he made people smile, even just for a minute, he'd given them one of the best Christmas presents ever.  It's gonna be really hard this year when that won't be able to happen.

But you know what?  It will be OK, because a good Christmas is about love.  And even if it can't be the same as it always was, or recently was, your memories make it sweeter.  You still have the love for those not here, and you can't lose that, any time of year.

So December, thanks for showing up, especially this year, which has been a tough one.  And I'm counting on you to make it worth going through the rest of it.  I have The Tim, Jetsam, Pip, and Milo ... and this year, Jack, who has no idea what December or Christmas or Santa or even sadness is!   Let's make the most of it, so that by the time 2017 pushes it's way in, we'll be able to say that you gave us a good ending, and we did the best with what we had.

Thanks for showing up. I plan to enjoy you as much as I possibly can,  'cause I look forward to seeing you every year,  And regardless of what else has been happening, I'm not willing to give up on that.