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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

The three Buds…they were fixtures in my neighborhood for several years. I lived in an “Our Town” kind of place where people sat on their porch in the evenings and waved hello to neighbors passing by. When a new family came to town there was a visitor with cookies or cake at the front door the next day. So it wasn’t unusual to see the same people on a regular basis. Three of those people were named Bud. Not really their proper name but the one they were known by none-the-less.

victorian houseBud # 1 we called- Bud who Walked. Everyday like clockwork he would walk briskly past our house. Always friendly, but he seldom had time to stop and talk. He was on a mission.  All of a sudden we stopped seeing him. It was several months gone by before we found out he had suffered a heart attack. Not knowing his last name or exactly where he lived we couldn’t visit to wish him well. Then one day here he came again. He was really on a mission now to stay healthy and take advantage of his second chance. Only now he had a little more time to stop and chat once in a while.

mudBud #2 we called Bud in Mud. He was the husband of a voice teacher at the college where we were on the faculty. We often saw him at concerts and arts events with his wife. He also wrote a column of musings for the local paper. He was an excellent, insightful writer that could put an interesting turn on any subject. He got his name from one of those columns. I wish I had a copy of it now as I don’t remember the details anymore. Of course the subject was mud and I remember laughing loud and long everytime I read it. Which I did over and over. He developed Parkinson’s and stopped appearing in public and eventually stopped writing as well shortly before he passed.

Bud #3 was Bud Next Door. He was our neighbor and a very interesting one as well. An antiques collector, bed and breakfast owner, important in the development of the Marshall Plan and instrumental in NASA.  He was a charming man with whom we shared a love of music. We used to sing Christmas carols in German together, Oh Tannenbaum and Stille Nacht in particular.  He eventually sold his beautiful Victorian home when it became too much to handle and moved to a small apartment. We no longer saw each other as frequently but we reconnected near the end. When he was in the hospital I would visit and once again we sang German carols. I was there when he transitioned.

Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

sunset

all rights reserved © Diane Kern 2011

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Holiday Greetings 2011

 

When you shine with the light of happiness,

you illuminate everyone.

 

Peace, love, and joy to all.

 

 

 

 

 

all rights reserved © Diane Kern 2011 

 

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OK,OK….I promised my last post was the finale of the holiday season. I lied

While reading another blog, The Flemish American, I was reminded of St. Nicholas Day. I just had to tell you about it. Early in December, the 6th to be exact, was the special day. I was about 4 or 5 and getting excited about the upcoming Christmas Festival.

I heard sleigh bells at the back door! What was that all about? Mom and Dad said why not go and look who is making the noise. I was never allowed to open the door by myself so this was unusual. I went to the door. No one was there. But….there on the doorknob was hanging a bag of nuts and sweets. Hmmmmm where did those come from?

Maybe the person has gone down the street. Run to the front window and see, prompted my parents. Run I did. “And what to my wondering eyes should appear” but Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) walking down the street in his red suit with a bag over his shoulder. He turned and waved to me. Imagine my excietment.

This happened every year on December 6th until I was old enough to find out it was my neighbor from across the street acting the role. He visited all the children on our block that evening. I think he had even more fun than we did.

Here’s to Herbie, a kid at heart who wasn’t afraid to share it. And now this holiday is put to bed for another year.

Go to The Flemish American to see a wonderful, illustrated post on the roots of St. Nicholas

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I am not talking about the rosy-breasted, first sighting of the spring. I am talking about the season’s last holiday event in our family. On the Sunday after Christmas, or the following Sunday if it was too close to the big day, the aunts, uncles and cousins had a big party. It was a moveable feast. Correction, we were the ones who moved, not the feast itself.

Each family was in charge of one part of the meal. The first family provided the before dinner drinks. This was still the era of cocktails and Mad Men. Second family had the salad course, third family hosted the main course. Dessert came next and was the responsibility of the fourth family. And finally there were the after dinner drinks supplied by the fifth family. Which part of the meal you hosted was rotated each year.

The outstanding feature of this get together was that each course was held in a different house, hence the term round robin. As you can imagine, it was an all day affair even though we all lived in the same metropolitan area. I heard this week from the son of one of my cousins that this tradition remains alive amongst his friends as the Christmas Tree Crawl.

Unlike the night before Christmas, this party centered around eating and drinking. It is cold in Wisconsin and folks enjoy a good meal. You might think that all this drinking and driving would be a problem. But actually everyone was pretty moderate, so worry not. And there was plenty food and time between each house.

When the cousins were all young the parents must have had quite a time bundling, unbundling and rebundling everyone in their snow suits to travel from place to place. We however, didn’t think about such necessities as a problem. It was always a great adventure for us. What a relief it must have been when we could all take care of our own bundling.

One of the best parts of the day for us kids was the travel between homes. You would rarely travel with your own parents. If you did there would always be a cousin with you. We sang Christmas carols at the top of our lungs as we drove to the next house. Our hot breath frosted up the car windows. Then we would draw pictures on the windows, snow men, angels, our names, messages such as Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. The red, green and amber of the traffic lights glowed in the frost. We judged the displays of holiday lights as we passed.

When we arrived, each household would show off what had been found under the tree from Santa. One family always had a train around the tree which was great fun. Most everyone had a piano or accordion in the house (this was after all, Wisconsin) and there was more singing and dancing too, by the end of the day. And of course there was the eating.

By the end of the day the parents were exhausted. Us kids were totally wired from all the Christmas cookies. The only thing left of the feast was dirty dishes and our full bellies.

Eventually,  as we all grew older the round robin ceased to exist. But it continues to be a favorite memory for all of us. Actually the essence of round robin still exists. Every summer as many cousins as are able, get together at a lake side retreat for a weekend of fun.

Long live the Round Robin.

 

all rightsreserved DianeKern2011

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It is Christmas Eve as I write this and I have just returned from a friend’s house after enjoying a feast. I am remembering the Christmas Eve’s of my youth.

My Father had four brothers. Every year we gathered, with their families on the night before Christmas at my Grandparent’s house. There were nineteen of us jammed into that tiny house.

There was no agenda. We played no games. We sang no carols. We sat around and talked to each other. The grownups asked the cousins how things were going at school. The cousins talked to each other about what ever was popular with kids and teenagers at the time. And the brothers and their wives talked about work, politics, movies and I don’t know what else.

My Father was an identical twin. If he was in a different room from his brother it was easy to confuse them. There were many occasions when one of the cousins would be talking to one and thought it was the other. Sometimes I even had to look twice. And then my uncle started to wear bow ties and that stopped the fun.

There were not lots of presents to open. Checks were passed out to the brothers as Christmas presents for the whole family. The cousins each received a Christmas card which contained a quarter taped to the inside. We eventually graduated to five dollars, if I remember correctly, inflation. And one present was given to the Grandparents which was purchased with the contributions from each family and selected by the sisters-in-law in turn. Cookies and coffee were served and then we went home or on to other parties.

It sounds boring doesn’t it? Well it wasn’t. We all had a great time with these simple pleasures. We saw each other often. There seemed to be some reason to gather almost every month. And the routine was pretty much the same. Talking, maybe someone would bring out a cribbage board or deck of cards, in nice weather some of us might go for a walk together. And when we didn’t gather as a group we would drop in, unannounced on one family or another. It was just what you did in our family.

Now after we left my Grandparent’s house some went to midnight mass, some went home because Santa visited while we gathered and some went on to other parties. My family went on to another party.

This party was much more outgoing and loud. It was held at our neighbors house across the street. There were lots of presents under the tree for everyone who was there. Neighbors would drop in and there would be presents for them as well. There was a good amount of “holiday cheer” and a table laden with food at the end of the night, usually sometime after midnight. Grandma Libby, who was French Canadian, made her special meat pies. We waited all year for this treat and could never get enough of it. She gave me her recipe but I could never make them taste the same.

There was singing and laughter, we watched The Lawrence Welk Christmas show. I always received slippers and was asked how my love life was? This was really embarrassing as I was just a shy kid and love life was not on my agenda. But we all had a great time. As we crossed the street on the way home, crunching through new fallen snow in the wee hours, it all seemed magical. May your holidays be magical too.

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth

all rights reserved Diane Kern 2010

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HOLIDAY EATING TIPS 

1.  Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday  spirit.  In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls. 

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can.  And quickly.  It’s rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now.  So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something.  It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think.  It’s Christmas! 

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on.  Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat. 

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission. 

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a  Holiday  party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello? 

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog. 

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again. 

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day? 

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards. 

10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by: 

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate and wine in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!” 

I didn’t write these. I don’t know who did. If you do let us know.

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abundance-of-the-universe3Today we had the first real snow of the season. I decided to give myself a bonus day and stay home from work. It had promised to be a big storm but in the end was just moderate. The snow put me in the mood to finish my Christmas cards, since they usually don’t get done til after the new year, this was something big for me. Sometimes they don’t get done at all.

It had been quite a while since last contact with family so I decided to do the dreaded Christmas letter.  At first I thought there was little to report, I spend too much time working and too little time playing. But as I wrote I found my life had been more interesting than thought. Soul Collage has been a very important bright spot to me this year. There is not a lot of time to devote to cutting and pasting but each moment has been precious.

This card is called Abundance of the Universe and it tells me…

I am the one who holds the abundance of the universe in her hands.I am the one who creates from the stuff of stars.I am the one who knows the universe will manifest my desires, be they negative or positive. It is easy. What I dream of can be mine. Be careful what you wish for.

In these difficult economic times it is important to remember that the Universe is indeed abundant. When we concentrate on worrying about what we don’t have, or might  not have in the future we are denying the gifts that are offered to us from The Infinite.

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