A lot has changed since I stopped working. I still get up fairly early (though not at 4 anymore) but no longer hop out of bed and head to the shower. While I like being up early, I now enjoy lounging around for awhile before my shower. (I do not miss showering before I’ve had a quiet cup of coffee).
As dawn finally made an appearance the day was proving to be the kind where you’re just grateful you don’t have to go out. It was cold, snowing and blowing. But we had to go out. Ugh. It had been a week since Hubs’ cataract surgery and he had an early post op appointment. We head to the ophthalmologist office just after 8. His vision has improved so much they popped out the left lens of his glasses, then scheduled surgery for his right eye and soon we were back out in the snow and wind.
It was still early and I wasn’t ready to go home for what awaits me. My day of Christmas decorating. Yay. While I love seeing my tree up, I wasn’t as excited about literally hauling everything up from the basement. Until I remembered crawling around on my hands and knees (which I haven’t even attempted since knee replacement) in our 40 inch high basement for 20 years in North Muskegon, looking for all the tubs of decorations. Yup, this is much easier. Grateful for a full, deep basement again.
We decided to eat breakfast out first. A place we used to go to often had just changed hands. They served the best waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. Probably should have ordered that but I was hungry for eggs. The eggs were done right but that’s the last good thing I can say for the place. Toast was like eating a dry rusk bun, and the sausage links and home fries were cooked in the French fryer! The sausage lacked nice brown grill marks and I was sorely tempted to ask for ketchup for the steak fries. At 9 am. Umm, no and another big no.
After that little fiasco I convinced John we should stop and buy a couple Christmas gifts. I know, he was shocked too. (We usually just give cash but this year have actually had a couple brilliant gift ideas). An hour later I couldn’t think of any more excuses to avoid going home.
I went through our Christmas tubs first to determine what had to come up. (I swear this is the year I’m gonna get rid of everything Christmasy I no longer use-but after Christmas). I probably have 200 more ornaments and I do want to keep some of them. Several are sorely missed on my tree. I need 50 of the what’s down there. And my mission is to go through absolutely everything before I condense my tubs and donate copious amounts of Lenox and Precious Moments to some place or someone.
Truth be told, I’ve had this talk with myself for the last several years-get rid of what I never put up anymore. But when I’m decorating the tree I just want to be done so I can enjoy it. After Christmas I’m twitchy to get my house back in order and can’t wait until everything’s put away until the first of December next year. And to a certain extent I have given away and donated a lot of the bigger miscellaneous decorations I had. But I struggle with the ornaments. I. LOVE. ORNAMENTS. At one time I had 150 Precious Moments ornaments. So many that I bought an extra tree and set one up specifically with only Precious Moments in the family room, then our big tree in the living room. Plus a huge hanging spiral. Goodness. Maybe this is the year I declutter and condense. I’m hopeful-and way off topic. Focus Neese.
Hubs checked the lights and stuck our angel on top (that’s the extent of his help besides hauling everything upstairs). I’m the fluffer of branches and decorator. But when I get to this point I’m having fun and get all nostalgic. Very few of my ornaments are new and the older they are, the more they mean to me. The ornaments that aren’t in separate boxes are wrapped in tissue paper, paper towels or bubble wrap. It’s almost like opening gift after gift. And I know where most of them belong on the tree, year after year. My own little tradition.
Besides missing the nifty 50 that clearly deserve to be hung, I’m enjoying my tree up and done once again. Hubs is reading and listening to the 25 mile an hour winds howl when he pipes up with, “sure would like a mug of hot chocolate. Any idea where you might have hid it?” “Umm, cleaned out that cupboard this summer and noticed your canister was out of date by a couple years, so I pitched it. Sorry.” But it got me thinking.
Mom (who kept her pots and pans in the oven) finding a small saucepan, filling it two thirds full with whole milk, turning the gas burner on low. Measuring Hershey’s Cocoa and sugar in a tiny bowl and waiting for the milk to get very hot, but not boil. (She never forgot to scoop off the preacher’s coat. Ha-ha-ha. I can still see her standing by the stove removing the preacher’s coat). Grabbing a soup spoon, dipping some of the hot milk out to make a syrup of the sugar/cocoa mixture, then slowly adding the syrup to the milk. What was the ratio? Hmmm. Mom wasn’t fond of real dark homemade fudge or hot chocolate (but did like dark chocolate candy-odd). I think it was 1 to 3. One teaspoon of cocoa to one tablespoon of sugar for a good sized cup of hot chocolate.
I think that might work. Heat up the milk (2% in this house), measured out the sugar, cocoa, mixed in some hot milk and dumped about half back in the milk because I was afraid it might get too chocolatey. It was barely beige, so poured the rest in and waited until I saw tiny bubbles near the edge. (I searched high and low for my preacher’s coat but have come to the conclusion there’s not enough fat content in my 2% milk or my eyes are really bad). Poured the works in mugs and topped with a healthy (I lie) portion of miniature marshmallows and brought a cup to Hubs. You’d thought I’d discovered the the fountain of youth instead of a cup of hot chocolate.
It’s hard to describe how delicious that cup of hot chocolate tasted (never called it cocoa in our house). How much better it tasted than the prepackaged pouches of hydrated/artificial this and that on the grocery stores shelves these days. And why after a week I’m still thinking about Mom’s 3 ingredient hot chocolate. In a saucepan-on the stove-covered with a thick covering of preacher’s coat. Some things, no-many things were just so much better when I was a kid. Thanks Mom…