View From The Glen

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Shopping Part III


Christmas Eve morning finds you at the grocery store – where you will know the psychotic shopping has finally gotten out of hand as you stare wildly at a stand of pomengranates and wonder if you should get some for emergencies. Emergency what, exactly? Sure. Get a box of pomengranates and do the same thing with them as you did with the five emergency tubes of chestnut puree you bought last year at this time. Nothing – until you find them exploded at the back of your fridge in February! This is what Christmas boils down to – you and the other shoppers with their own emergency pomengranates eyeing each other warily as you cut each other off at the checkout.

Time to get a grip. Admit you are not Martha Stewart. Let go of the perfection. Let go of that pomengranate – you are not going to concoct a craft or elegant cocktail out of it. Put it down and move away from your cart. Buy milk. Eggs. Coffee. Cereal. Vegetables. And breathe. Go home, and enjoy a glass of wine by the sparkling lights of your tree with your family. Feel blessed. If you haven’t got it, you don’t need it. Merry Christmas!

to be continued...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Shopping Part II


A babysitter later, you are at Toys R Us, with about a million other zombie eyed, frazzled parents wandering aimlessly up and down primary coloured rows of toy upon toy upon toy, listening to Christmas With The Chipmunks, and trying to figure out just how many batteries you need to invest in after your purchases are made.

But ladies and gentlemen, don’t get home with your carload and gifts and sink thankfully into a chair. You still have to wrap them and tomorrow the real shopping starts. You still have to go to the Beer Store, the LCBO, the Florist for the centerpiece, the post office to pick up the parcels you forgot to pick up last week, the drug store for extra wrapping paper and ribbon, and maybe a bottle of pepto bismal for the tummy aches that are bound to occur, and – last stop – the grocery store.

to be continued...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Shopping Part I

Ah - the Christmas season. A time of peace, love, joy. Also a time of psychotic shopping.

The psychotic shopping always starts innoculously enough – a day browsing gently, swaying through the aisles of department stores picking up perfect gifts as you see them. Subtly, the days progress and the pace increases as you realize you have gifts for your sister, your mom and your best friend, but nothing for great-uncle Albert, or your husband’s snarky cousin Mildred.

With the hardest gifts yet to get, you steel yourself to take a precious Saturday – when you should be picking out a tree with your family – to brave the malls, and at the end of a trying, frustrating day when you have given up and bought them both toasters with an uncharitable “If they don’t like them, tough!” attitude – you get home, marvel at the tree and feel your heart sink at the realization that the “fun and easy” shopping for the kids you allowed yourself to put off until later, still needs to be done.

to be continued...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bravo! A Christmas Concert

'Tis the season ...for school Christmas concerts!
Oh, the good old hockey game, is the best game you can name
And the best game you can name, is the good old hockey game...
You know - that time of year when we parents cram ourselves into pint sized chairs in a school gymnasium and watch our offspring sing, dance and entertain their way through an evening of songs and skits.
Even the most cynical have to admit that despite muffled voices, serious faces, the odd case of stage fright, and the helpful whispers of teachers from the wings, school concert nights are delightful. There is unbridled innocence and exhuberance about the younger grades and the older grades manage to infuse Christmas meaning into their rap performance leaving you believing there is hope for the future.
Here are the apples which fall from the tree...
We took the kids' great-grandmother with us, and she loved every moment of it. She waved at all the children on stage, and many of them waved back. She clapped with the music, before the music, after the music, and sporadically during the music, and often, some of those sitting around her would clap too as if in support. She had a wonderful evening.
Yee haw,'s a cowboy Christmas
(doesn't he look happy?)
We are lucky at our school to have a marvelous band, and the quality of the music was one of the highlights of the evening.
And at the end of the concert, we were able to say with pride, Bravo!
Until next year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Winter Haiku

Silent falls the snow

like a white velvet embrace

over all the land

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Let it snow! - But stay safe when driving.

We had a storm yesterday. Got home in the dusk to a drifted driveway and windswept fields, and made it inside the house just as the freezing rain started to fall, turning everything glacial.

I could have skated across the yard.

The dog had icicles on her whiskers.

Those who live in warmer climes where this doesn't happen - good decision!

Fellow northerners, it's time to rethink what we carry in our cars.

I could easily have got stranded last night. If not then, today, during the perilous drive to work on ice-encrusted roads. And if/when that happens you need to have supplies. Not just the usual snow scraper/shovel/booster cable/first aid kit either.

This is what I put in my car this morning (I had a spare 20 minutes while waiting for the defroster to actually get the inch thick layer of ice off the front and side windows):
  • blankets;
  • flashlight with extra batteries;
  • knife;
  • high-calorie, non-perishable food;
  • extra clothing to keep dry (including hat, socks and mitts, not gloves);
  • sack of sand (or cat litter);
  • tow rope;
  • water container with water;
  • brightly colored cloth to use as a flag;
  • keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

And one more thing - keep your car filled with gas.

Other Works for Me posts of a sunnier and happier nature can be found at

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Picking the Tree

Picking the perfect Christmas tree is a ritual that should not be rushed.

I can say that even though we were in and out of the bush where we found our tree within an hour. That included the sleigh ride there and back, and the hot chocolate at Sanata's shack afterward.

But then, we've got it down to a fine art.
The trick is deciding ahead of time what kind of tree is required. Which basically means Pine or Spruce. Spruce is perfect with it's sturdy branches for hanging ornaments, but I am a sucker for the long soft needles of the Pine tree. Also, I find that Pines look more rounded, and I love fat trees.

The second trick is in knowing whether you want tall and slender (read elegant) or full and bushy. This may be determined by the size of room you have.

And finally, knowing the height you require is essential. Andrew is 6'3" and we have 8' ceilings in the farmhouse, so we look for a tree that is no taller than the top of his fingers when he holds his arm up over his head. (This is easier that taking a tape measure out, though that works too). You'd think this was a no-brainer, but plenty of people get their tree home only to find it is much bigger than they thought and have to start lopping bits off the end to make them fit (right, Dad?). This is because trees tend to look a lot smaller out of doors.

Once you know the size and shape and kind of tree you want, you just need to look around and make sure the one you pick doesn't have any gaping holes anywhere. Trial and error has shown that you can spend hours in the snow debating between trees, and all that happens is you end up with the one you were debating when you finally realised your toes were cold.

So we skip all that angst now, and take the first or second that we look at that meets the criteria. Fit in a rousing snowball fight and the obligatory pictures, and then we take it home, and spend our time and energy debating more important things.

Like angel or star. Coloured lights of white. That sort of thing.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Old Fashioned Tree Lighting

We went to our local small town tree lighting and carol sing on Friday night. The kids all participated with the Scouting group, and when they weren't singing, they ran around with their mates from school.
The lights sparkled and twinkled. The night was cold but clear. The Scouts served hot chocolate. The community gathered and we sang songs.
It kind of felt the way Christmas is supposed to feel.
The way it hardly ever does anymore in these days of consumer madness and rushe. It was nice to slow down and savour the moment.

What is he doing?

My son is one smart cookie. He has a fantastic imagination, an amazing memory, and a keen interest in the world around him.

Perhaps too keen an interest in the world around him, judging by what he was doing on the weekend.
I happened to glance out the window.

What is he doing?
Is he feasting?
On snow?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Inflatable Christmas

If the children are with me, I put off going to Canadian Tire this time of year. This is because outside the door is one or more of those huge, inflatable Christmas “decorations” (and I use the term loosely). Whether it’s Frosty the Snowman, or a bubble of swirling snow with Santa on his sleigh inside it (like some captured prize of a Narnia-like evil despot), or (this one makes me grit my teeth) a Santa Homer Simpson (WHO ON EARTH thinks that is Christmassy?) – they all just make me want to run screaming. And yes, I have been known to turn away from a store just because these monstrous things are up.

The children, however, love these things. Look! They play music. Look! Santa pops up out of the chimney. Look! It’s magic. And the inevitable request. Can we get one? Please? Pleeeeaaase?


Maybe it’s my conservative nature. I like decorating with fairy lights and greenery, red bows and silver balls. I can admire home-made ornaments and paper chains strung from the ceiling, cotton wool bearded popsicle Santa’s and clothes-peg based Rudolphs. Bring it all on, and I revel in it.

But not inflatable Santas that sit in the middle of the yard waving and bopping merrily to all and sundry during the evening, and then spend their days in a crumpled heap of plasticated defeat –a sad sodden puddle of Christmas decoration waiting to be plugged back in so it can wobble and wave once more.

However much I dislike these grossly overdone figures, for reasons I cannot fathom they have become a staple of the Christmas landscape, much as the giant plastic candles were a staple of my childhood Christmas memories (for the record, I never liked them much either!).

Oh yes, they make a big, bold statement. But I so prefer the neighbour’s house down the street with its miniature reindeer lit up with twinkling white lights.