The Christmas Ornaments...

It was the winter of 1944, the war was far from home in Canada but the hardships were the same. There was the lack of goods, food and petrol as those items were being reserved for the troops. People were using their rationing cards to buy items such as flour, sugar, salt, bacon and if you were in luck, nuts and sometimes fresh fruit. So trips to Calgary were far and few between from Michichi, Alberta. 

Bill and Alice had two children, Marilyn 5, and Dave  2.  In the winter Bill was coal miner, in the spring and summer and fall he was a farmer.  During the war Bill also helped with the war effort by helping to maintain machinery, so he was gone sometimes during the winter. During the year Alice would sell her eggs from her hens and give piano lessons as she was a well-respected teacher of the instrument. She had some funds on hand for special purchases.  Every Saturday nights they would travel to different school houses in the country side and hold dances, Alice playing piano, Bill…banjo and his fellow chums on different instruments. Bob Hoy a family friend also sat in on the piano.

Christmas was drawing close and Alice still had not made the long trip into Calgary to make special purchases of warm wool socks, gloves and a hat for Bill. Other items included a doll for Marilyn and toy truck for Dave and to shop the department store windows dreaming of what could be once the war was over. Bundling up on Saturday the day before Christmas Eve, she left the children with their grandmother and made the 91 mile trip into Calgary on the bus to use her ration card. 

She purchased sugar, butter, flour, nuts, and some plums to make a plum pudding for Christmas and tangerines for the Christmas stockings. She had a chicken at the farm and root vegetables for a Christmas meal.  Each member of the family would bring a dish to share at the feast.

After her purchases she stopped to gaze at the beautifully decorated Hudson’s Bay department store windows knowing it was not reality.  Bill had cut down a small cedar tree which stood in the corner of the living room at the farmhouse without a decoration on it.  Alice spying a beautiful display of decorations went into the department store to see how much they were.  The salesman approached her and asked if he could be of help.  Alice realized he was speaking to her and she inquired after the decorations trimming the tree on the showroom floor. “I’m sorry Madame but those decorations are not for sale, only for show” “What will happen to them after Christmas is over” she inquired? “They will be thrown away as they can’t be sold” he replied.  Alice was aghast, “Such a waste! She cried. “Can I not purchase even one for my two children as they have nothing on the tree back home”. “Please let me purchase at least one ornament” she implored.  “I’m sorry but they are not for sale” and he turned away. Alice stood there like stone gazing at the ornaments on the tree with tears welling up in her eyes.  To be thrown away, to be discarded like trash.  But they weren’t trash to her they were beautiful. She slowly turned to leave the store glancing back at the tree shaking her head, she walked outside into the cold biting wind as the snow was starting to fall and swirl. 

Alice had just a few minutes before catching the bus back home when she felt a tap on her shoulder.  There stood the salesman with a small box in his hands.  He looked at her and said “you never got this from me.  Merry Christmas”!

Alice stood in the swirling snow dumbfounded at what just happened, with the small box in her hands along with the other packages tied up with string she boarded the bus.  
Once seated inside the bus for the long trip back to Michichi, with trembling hands she lifted the lid off the box.  Inside were 6 ornaments, Four were a small Santa with a wand in his hand that would fit onto a branch of the tree his face was made of clay and painted with a felt beard.  The other two were Santa’s, made of soft plush pipe cleaner with faces made of clay that were painted, along with a felt beard. They included bells on the ends of their feet that would jingle when hung from the tree.  To Alice they were the most beautiful ornaments she had seen. 
Christmas Ornaments from 1944

Today, 69 years later we still have the ornaments that Alice treasured so much that year. Three went to Marilyn and the others to Dave. They have hung on the family Christmas tree for many years and will continue to do so as they will be passed onto the next generation, even if they’ve lost their luster, to this family they are beautiful.

To the salesman who found it in his heart to share the Joy of Christmas so many years ago, may you find a special place in Heaven.

Merry Christmas!


Under The Weather and Sweet Potato Fries

Since the Monday after Thanksgiving I have been feeling punky, you know not quite up to snuff, er...a bit under the weather...oh well, you get the drift.  On Thursday the university shut down due to an ice storm hitting the area and early Friday morning we got well over 3 1/2 inches of white fluff falling from the sky and the day off from work.  People just don't know how to drive in the stuff here in Oklahoma. 

Friday morning I woke up to a lot of chest congestion, heavy coughing and a blinding headache. Unfortunately the health clinic that I go to on campus was closed due to the weather and the upcoming weekend so I had to wait until Monday to go to the Dr. who said I had Bronchitis and a very nasty case of it to boot.   

I spent most of the time in bed pushing lots of fluids and using my inhaler and my super heavy duty cough syrup that can knock out a horse. Great stuff!  I was given it back when I had to spend eight days in the hospital with pneumonia.  I have made sure that I always have it on hand as it is the best I have found but you do have to have a Dr's prescription to get it. 

Come Monday morning bright and early I called the clinic and with a barely audible voice got an appointment for a 10:30 visit with the P.A. (Physician's Assistant) I left with four prescriptions called into the pharmacy and orders not to go to work until I had a normal temperature for 24 hours. All said and done, out of pocket was about $81.00 

Needless to say yesterday was my first day back.  Boy was I tired by the end of the day.  Dave took pity on me and we went to Cracker Barrel for dinner. We both got their Chicken Fried Chicken and it was very tasty plus there was enough left over for lunch today. 

After work this evening I had Dave take me grocery shopping at Sprouts. They had their homemade chicken sausage and pork sausage links on sale for $2.99 a pound which is a $1.00 off a pound when they do that.  That's when I stock up and put it in the freezer.  I also got some grass feed ground beef and very meaty thick cut bacon.  While under the weather I made some chili that was super awesome with the grass fed beef. So much better than with beef that has all the "other" stuff in it. I also made a pot of homemade potato soup, guaranteed to cure what ails you. I love to make this soup and crumble up whole wheat saltines in it.  Yes I know it's not Paleo but the combination of the hot soup and the soup soaked saltine hitting the back of the throat and keeping it warm just seems to do something for the getting cure on. 

Tonight we had Maple pork Sausage links with Sweet Potato Fries and Brussels Sprouts. I have never made baked Sweet Potato Fries before, but my Paleo cookbook said it was easy and the episode of "The Pioneer Woman" with Ree Drummond showing how it is done, how could one go wrong.  They turned out exceptionally good and added a nice touch to the meal.  I made a honey mustard dipping sauce for the fries but it was wonderful as a dipper for the sausage as well and gave it a nice touch of flavor.  

Friday night is our night out at Hastings.  I read and drink a cup of decaf and Dave wanders the store with his coffee in hand.  I finished up the third in the Camel Club series called "Stone Cold" by David Baldachi.  I really enjoy his books. I have one left before I change to another series.  

I have yet to start any real Christmas shopping as I loath crowds.  But I do have my shopping done (on-line) for the girls. I have a gift for J.  I need something for the boys and Dave and I will be finished.  

Time is drawing nigh. 374 days until I retire.  Stay warm!


The Kids Came For Thanksgiving...

For the first time in 10 years we had Thanksgiving at our house.  The KC Kid came in a week early due to her job and the Grans with parents in tow came in very early Wednesday morning, 4 A.M. to be exact, bringing what appeared to be the flu for dad and the boys with sinus and ear infections.  Both boys and parents ended up with Fifths Disease.  But in spite of all the illness we still had a great time. So far KC, her Dad and I have managed to escape any illnesses however my cheeks look like I have been heavily slapped which is one of the symptoms of Fifths Disease. It's a wait and see kind of thing which is normally associated with children but adults can get it.

I know lots of people have their Thanksgiving dinner around noon.  We are in the 6% category who have it after 6 P.M.  This is the first year we have ever had a fresh turkey and I used Ree Drummond's recipe for the brine and cranberry sauce.  Ree and her husband are the 17th largest landowners in the USA and live near Pawhuska, OK. She has the Cooking show called The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network (two different links here folks). I also used her Grandmother's recipe for green beans and tomatoes which was awesome.  Thanks Ree! I think I have a new family favorite.

Wednesday afternoon I started some of the prep work for the dinner the following day.  Here is the turkey in a brine bag in a cooler with the brine. 
The Bird is getting pampered! All 13 lbs of it

After getting the bird all prepped I sealed the bag and stuck the cooler out on our generator shed outside as it was colder out there than in the refrigerator besides I didn't have room in the refrigerator for the bird.

Next I prepared Ree's homemade Cranberry Sauce.  
Boy is it easy.  I never liked the whole berry sauce out of a can but this was awesome with just 4 ingredients.
Homemade Cranberry sauce,
Mmm this is good stuff Maynard!

Next morning I moseyed my way to the kitchen and stared prepping the sausage stuffing after having a cup of Joe.

Yams diced with Olive Oil with
salt and pepper

Sausage, Bacon, Onions, Mushrooms, Celery and Apples
With chicken broth.
Next I finished prepping the turkey and stuffed it with apples and oranges. After getting the bird in the oven I finished prepping the Brussels Sprouts and Heather made a lovely dish of Mac and Cheese for the family. 

Half way through the cooking of the bird I removed it from the oven to baste it in a mixture of butter, finely chopped rosemary and slivered orange peel.  Back into the oven the bird went to finish up the cooking.
We finished the regular dressing for the boys, gravy, roasted the Brussels sprouts, made the yams with marshmallows. Heather made the regular green       bean casserole and I baked the sausage dressing while the bird was resting. Whew!
Most of the dishes covered on the sideboard
and waiting to be served

J said grace and we ate.  Boy was it good and was I ever tired.  After dinner we got the food all put up and Dave and the girls cleaned the kitchen.  Andy decided to use his dad as a pillow while we were watching a show on TV. Then we hit the hay. It didn't take me long to pass out. 

I don't do Black Friday. Never have, never will as I don't like crowds.  However the girls went out in the afternoon and found some good buys for the boys and came home with their treasures.

Saturday was the trip to the Natural History Museum which is across the road from us.  We all walked over and if there were wall along the sidewalk, Noah would be bouncing off of them.  J was having a tough time as his back was out of whack and was battling a migraine headache.  We also took pictures of the boys for Christmas pictures. Noah is every bit boy who has a mind of his own. We did get some good pictures however but we had to work for it. 

Pom Pom and Noah

The museum has a wonderful Discovery room for children and lots of fun things for them to do and explore.
Skeleton in Discovery Room

After wandering the museum for a couple of hours we walked back to the house, fed the 4 dogs and went to Chuy's for dinner. After dinner J helped get Dave's computer back up and running so Dave is one happy man at the moment.

Today while J was recouping I took the kids outside to play as I felt they needed to run off some energy and get some fresh air. Noah loves to pick the bark off of trees and Andy likes to follow suit.
The boys in their Yoda hats!

Once back inside their mom and dad were busy getting the car packed up and ready to go. With just a few things left to pack we went to Pei Wei's for dinner. I got the Thai Lettuce wraps and enjoyed them very much. Noah tried his hand at chopsticks and Andy did the two fisted shove.

 We got back to the house took a few family shots and said our good-byes.  Heather was having to drive home as J's back just wasn't going to let him drive so I'm sure he will be seeing the Chiropractor tomorrow to get a much needed adjustment.

Slowly the house is returning to normal, KC Kid is almost finished reading the Hunger Games Catching Fire, the dogs are doing what they do best, napping and I am starting to feel rugged as I type this blog. 
The last few pages of Catching Fire
Matter of fact she and her dad went out to Wally World to find the third book of the trilogy and to get cream and a few things from the store.

What am I thankful for?  I have a wonderful family that I cherish. My husband who is my rock, my job, food on our table and a country that I can worship in. I am truly blessed!

What are you thankful for?

387 day till retirement...