Temptation

Ahh what a good word for today. Yesterday my grocery guy posted a group of about 10 photos on the business Facebook page of chocolates and cookies that were on sale at Metro grocery store in Cherryhill mall. I commented underneath you are evil. Then half an hour later he posts a photo of mini cupcakes on sale at another store for $1 and had a hashtag “resistance is futile”. I was glad that I put my order in the day before because I probably would have switched to the cupcakes instead of the fruit tray. The past couple of years I have been bringing a fruit tray if I am invited to a dinner because it’s easy and I like to think it offsets all the other foods that will be served. I will sometimes buy a tray just for myself because if I see it in the fridge I know I will eat it.
Since I get groceries delivered it eliminates impulse buying. When I went to the store on Monday I purchased items that I normally wouldn’t. Every time I see a new vendor at the market that sells baking I think “oh goodie more temptation”. Butter tarts which are another favourite but a no no! I did allow myself a Nanaimo bar as my treat for Christmas. My coffee friend said I can’t believe you could keep that in your freezer for a week, I have no self control. I’m thankful that she also provides a lot of healthy stuff like breakfast cookies, no sugar baking etc. Eating healthy can still taste good! It’s so much easier just buying something from her as I don’t bake for myself. Not to mention I don’t have the room for a lot of baking supplies.
This time of year I am also tempted by all the shiny clothes that are shown in the emails I get sent to my inbox and on tv. I tell myself you don’t need that even if it is pretty (my parents influence). I need practical things like pants and a new coat. When my friend was here for coffee I was telling her about some of the items on my bookcase. I purchased a metal hook for a stocking that goes on the mantle. I told her that I found it at the gift shop across from Tuckeys. It closed out years ago. It was expensive so I waited until after Christmas to purchase it hoping it would go on sale. Since my Dad wouldn’t let us decorate the mantle I put it in my window. It was the one time of the year where my Dad would tell us we didn’t have to be practical. Spend all your Christmas money on whatever you want.
I love going into a book store but it’s rare that I go out of the store with one or two things. Plush pillows, really cool coffee mugs, magazines and oh yeah books. It’s no wonder I usually order books online!
As much as I am tempted to stay in my pjs all day I need to do laundry!

Sharing company

I actually had to look up the word for today and I think we all looked at it and thought UGH. I’ve titled this post sharing company because I prefer to think of all of this eating as spending time with people that I care about. I had good intentions yesterday and had planned to go for a walk but have had a really stiff back the past couple of days so that was out.
This morning my coffee buddy came over for our monthly coffee date at my place. We sometimes have it at my place at Christmas because I’ve decorated and it looks nice. Plus it’s an excuse to clean! She immediately went over to the bookcase to check out my nutcracker and the card my friend drew. She asked if I buy a mouse every year which I don’t it’s just something that happens. I played her the mouse that sings “we wish you a merry Christmas”. It’s so cute. I bought it for Janet in 1995. I remember the year because I also bought her an ornament so there was a theme. After she died I put him away for a few years because it just made me sad. It was a reminder.
When we sit around the table we find out things about the person. Of course sometimes there are those awkward conversations even with longtime friends. My friend is married but childless by choice so we talked about how it changes the dynamic of friendships. I phoned her on Monday and we talked for half an hour and we still have enough to say for today.
The best type of friends (and family) are the ones that when you see them you just pick up from where you left off. Of course hugs don’t hurt either.

It’s Christmas

This has been kind of a weird lead up to Christmas this year. Friday night our hydro went off for a second after a loud bang or pop. Thankfully we have a generator. Then Sunday night not long after I went to bed I heard fire trucks that seemed to stop close to my building but since the alarm didn’t go off I didn’t think anything of it. Since my grocery delivery service is off until Thursday I had to go to the store to pick up enough groceries to last until then. Of course I bought too much but it’s Christmas so I added a couple treats for myself. Boursin is expensive but boy is it good!! It made me think how I never really thought about the cost of everything.
When I got back my super was at the door and opened it for me. A friend said that they always seem to pop out of no where in a non stalker like way. He asked if I heard the pop on Friday and then told me that the fire was actually in our building. Public service announcement do not leave anything on the stove unattended or at the very least put a timer on!! While I was chatting with my super my upstairs neighbour came down to give them their Christmas goodies. He made them date squares! At this point he tells me “I’m not sharing!” Another tenant made them a cheesecake. We got talking about the postal strike, South (since he is a retired teacher although he started after I graduated) and eventually they got talking about their ailments. How many pills they have to take and getting up in the middle of the night to pee. Wait until you get to be our age! He will be the same age as my Mom on his next birthday. My friends all tell me how it brings them comfort knowing I am taken care of by such wonderful people.
On Thursday I will playing host to my coffee buddy. I phoned her yesterday to wish her a Merry Christmas and we had a long chat. When I told her about the excitement lately she said I can’t wait to hear what happens tomorrow! Yeah she’s kind of cheeky that way although we both believe things usually happen in threes so I’ll be waiting!! We usually do gift exchange at my place as the coffee shops are crowded this time of year.
On Friday a long time friend and her husband are hosting a friends dinner. The thing about all these people that I mentioned is that they are all people that make everyone feel comfortable. I don’t feel like I’m hosting my friend I’m just providing a place to have coffee and a great conversation. It’s also because my place is all festive and Christmassy so why wouldn’t I want to share it?
Christmas Day is different for me now. I woke up this morning and wished my family a Merry Christmas in heaven. I turned the fireplace channel on when I woke up as background music which was my Dad’s tradition. Yesterday I watched the hanging of the Christmas ornaments on Days and it made me cry as usual. We all have our traditions and this was one of ours.
Whatever your Christmas entails may you be surrounded the joy and magic that Christmas brings.

Friendship

Last night I went out to dinner with a friend and her partner at my usual place. You could tell it was my usual place because one of the waiters came over and said hello and then as I was leaving one of the woman that works at the spa said hello too. She did my birthday manicure. I’m pretty sure my friend must think I know EVERYONE. Thankfully because we went early it was fairly quiet.
Even though it has been 2 years since I’ve seen her for Christmas we have gotten together for lunch in the summer twice. She and her partner got there ahead of me so my card was waiting for me at my seat. I quickly glanced at it because they make me cry and I wanted to wait until I got home to really take it all in. This year I got 2 because she misunderstood what I had requested for my card.

7 years ago she drew a picture of me and Janet peaking out behind of a snowman so I asked her if she could make a similar one only with a nutcracker. As you can see from this card she drew a Christmas cracker. The thing that makes this even funnier is that when I was cleaning out my Mom’s closet I found a box of decorations for Easter, Halloween etc and in the bottom of the box was a box of Christmas crackers…which I might add were older than me.
Since I was paying for dinner we had agreed that would be my gift to her. When we were done dinner she handed me over a long box that was my present. To be honest I had a feeling what it must be by the shape but to actually receive it was a shock. My friend gave me a print called “Red paper cranes”. Proceeds from the sale of it were going to the MS society. It was a drawing that I had Ben drawn to because it reminds me of the first card that she drew for me with colour. Janet and I are in a hot air balloon and we are talking to each other. It represents loss as there is a mother and her 2 children and the father is outside of the balloon. As my friend said it represents different things to different people…that’s what art does.
Although our tradition is to go for a walk in Victoria Park after dinner we weren’t quite in sync on how we were going to get there. Because the Inn is close to downtown the cab arrived soon after the Inn phoned for us. It wasn’t too cold although since it was a Saturday night there were a lot of families. We were unable to do our Santa photo this year but we got lots and lots of photos of us around the park. I found this little tree that we nicknamed the Charlie Brown tree. I told her the story behind the tree with purple lights. We found one with red lights but I actually didn’t know it was for AIDS until we got closer and she noticed the sign. Oh I should mention the cool flashing lights on the Santa House.
Since we were all too full for dessert we agreed that we would stop at Williams for hot chocolate. We got one of the last booths. It must be a lot longer since I’ve been than I thought as the inside has been completely redone. Very modern. Since it’s Christmas I had whipped cream on my hot chocolate.
My friend and her partner walked with me back to my place. Recently my friend wrote in her blog about someone on her morning walks giving her a high five and we passed a kid who almost did that. I had to smile because London is quite conservative so this surprised me. Every time I walk in my neighbourhood I notice something new as does my friend when she comes. Kiss the Cook is now closed. She noticed the new Greek restaurant. I don’t go for a walk in my neighbourhood at night so it’s nice to see the balconies with lights on them.
I have been very blessed this year with 2 wonderful dinners with 3 special people. I’ve also gotten the perfect gifts both totally unexpected. They were both given with love. Next week I have coffee with a friend to look forward to and a friends dinner on Friday. It has been a wonderful time.

A green Christmas

I know most people like a white Christmas but I’m ok with not having any snow this year. Because it’s going to be fairly mild next week I can go for a walk in the park.
When I think of the word white I also think of sparkling. I’ve been cleaning for company next week. A friend posted a meme on Facebook that said “all I want for Christmas is a self cleaning house”. It’s not that I have a lot to space to clean it’s the stuff that no one likes doing like cleaning toilets and I hate dusting! Of course my friend is the type that takes me as I am but it is nice to have a clean house too!
Last night I was going through my closet trying to figure out what to wear for dinner tonight. As I was flipping through the hangers I came across dress shirts that I no longer wear. Since I usually go out for dinner for my birthday in the summer I wear a nice shirt and capris for the most part. I see these segments on tv with women dressed up for holiday parties and I think who wears that? I bought these velvet pants and they are so comfortable they feel like pyjamas. They are the type of pants that Janet would have loved. When I was looking through photos on Facebook I suddenly realized that I had worn a shirt on 3 separate occasions to the same place. It made me smile though because my Mom used to have a red and black silky shirt that her friend called her “going to dinner shirt”. I miss having someone who when I come down the stairs will say “oh I like that!”. That is a special memory of my Dad when I got dressed for a wedding of an acquaintance at church. I wore a white dress shirt and a new skirt. My Dad was not one to give out compliments but he liked it.
I guess I could also talk about white hair but that’s covered with A LOT of help.

Treasure the people who treat you like family

On Monday I had 2 separate things happen that made my day brighter. Last week I went for lunch with my cousin. He reminds me so much of his Dad. I received a lovely email from his Mom that made me feel very loved.
When I was checking for mail I passed my super. She wanted to make sure that I received the note for rent increase in the new year. Then she says “promise you’ll never leave”. It made me feel valued. I have mentioned often how they are like my parents and they treat everyone like that. If I pass them in the halls we have a short conversation. They went above and beyond when I moved in to help me. When I ended up with kidney stones a month after I moved in she asked if there was anyone she could phone. If they haven’t seen me in the halls she will phone to make sure I’m not sick. In a day and age where most businesses treat you like a number they are angels.
I have a friend from church that I have known for years. Although we grew up in the same church we weren’t friends until the mid 90’s when we were on the same church committee. She is someone who I can talk to about anything. I recently emailed her about something that happened that upset me and at the end I told her you don’t have to reply I just want someone to listen. And she respects that. She is that person who will call someone a horses behind if that is what they are. When Janet died I couldn’t see that my friends lost someone too because it was MY loss, my twin. It’s a different loss but they lost her too.
When I read the title of this post it makes me see something clearly. Friends are people I should enjoy spending time with. When it gets to a point where I don’t it’s time to listen to my gut instinct. I have learned that life is too short to spend it with people who don’t value your friendship.

It’s market day

I had been keeping an eye on the weather forecast this week and it said it was going to be 4 degrees and sunny. About 1 degree at 9AM which is plenty warm enough with a hat and mittens on. Boy I must be out of my rhythm though because I couldn’t think of everything that I needed. My cart of course, cash, a cookie tin and then I realized I needed my loyalty card for the “dessert lady”. It’s so much easier in the summertime…just put on a pair of shoes, grab my purse and go.
Walking to the market I usually go straight down Ridout but for months I’ve had to cross to the other side. I saw someone coming and realized the “intersection” is open now. No more walking through mud or avoiding all the construction workers. Yeah, it’s the little things.
I always forget that because of the ice rink in the middle that they have to move the vendors to a small area in front of the doors in December. The Niagara wine people were giving out mulled wine this morning. I’m not a wine drinker but I do know that any wine from that region is good! Not to mention who wouldn’t want to go into someone’s house to the smell of mulled wine. They also had hot apple cider. I had a little cup which warmed me up! I wandered over to Dee’s table and was trying to decide what to get. She had even more of a selection of goodies for Christmas than usual. I got a muffin which was so big I only had half for breakfast and a Nanaimo bar. She asked if I wanted a cappuccino one or a mint. I choose mint because it’s tradition. My Mom always bought them at M&M for Christmas. She also had these bars with chocolate chips and they have a crumb base. I couldn’t remember what they were called but I told her my Mom made those often. I googled it when I got home…magic bars. Those weren’t Christmas ones she usually made them if she was taking them for a church thing. They don’t transport quite as well depending on how they set up. It’s amazing how those little things can transport me back.
After I was finished I walked inside to pick up a few things for dinner. I was surprised that the market wasn’t that busy for a Saturday. I’ve never gone to Chris’ Country Cuts on Saturday where there isn’t a line up. I do enjoy walking around inside and looking at the flowers, gift items. It’s so colourful with fruits and veggies. My friend took a really cool photo of the market from the mezzanine and it almost looks like art from above.
It was a busy day for the market and area as they had hot chocolate with Santa at 10 and then at 11 Anna Olson was signing her cookbook at Jill’s Table across the street. She is a baker that has her own show on the cooking channel. I believe she is based in the Niagara region.
It’s hard to believe that Christmas is a little more than a week away. I’ve only got one Christmas card so far and there is no snow on the ground (although I’m ok with that). Listening to Christmas music “playing” softly while drinking my apple cider was lovely. Such a pleasant morning.

This Christmas let’s slow down

Yesterday I went out for coffee with a former neighbour. In the course of conversation she told me that she just wasn’t feeling it this year…”it” being Christmas. I get it there are a multitude of reasons why we don’t feel excited. Seeing how commercialized it has become, rushing around buying presents or going to Christmas parties. At the same time even the year that my Mom died there were moments of joy. The excitement of a little kid knowing Santa is coming. An unexpected hug. A letter from a friend telling me how much Mom meant to her. But in order to feel the magic of Christmas we need to slow down. Sit in the silence watching the lights twinkle. Be present in the moment. Remember when we were children and Christmas was fun? I think as we get older we just look at the growing list of things that need to get done. Lets go back to that time.
For me what makes Christmas magical is spending it with people who bring me joy. I was sharing with my cousin that I saw an ornament in Starbucks yesterday but I talked myself out of getting it. We all have the acquaintances in our lives who whisper “do you really need that?”. Janet and I would go to Starbucks at Christmas with a friend of ours and we would treat her. It didn’t matter that it cost more than our regular place it was the act of making a regular occasion a little more special.
Today I went to lunch at my usual place. While the food was excellent as always the special moments were getting a hug and our picture taken together. I miss hugs! He handed me a bag with my gift in it and when I opened it I had the oh my gosh grin on my face. It’s a special gift because it’s a reminder of Janet and is now displayed prominently on my bookcase. I write often that when I go out with my friend for dinner the gift is the picture that she draws in my card. The magical part of Christmas are the little moments when I can feel my family near or those times when I can share memories with a friend or family member.

Connect

How do we connect with people? I have been thinking about this a lot as Christmas approaches. We have so many ways to communicate and yet in some respects it feels like we are more disconnected than before. I phoned my great Aunt last week but she was out so I just left a message wishing her a Merry Christmas. I got a Christmas card from my Uncle and was kind of shocked to think we haven’t gone for coffee in months. I almost titled this “Too busy” because there are times when it just seems like we are too busy to pick up the phone or send a quick email to say I was thinking about you. We no longer send Christmas cards. There were many people on Mom’s list for whom this was the only communication they had all year. But I came to realize that it was a connection to us. For my Dad’s Aunt May and his cousin Frank they loved seeing Dad’s children grow up through the letters. I remember Frank saying how much my brother looked like Dad’s father.
Yesterday I sent an email to my friend to rant about the cost of chocolates. Then in the evening I was talking to my Dad’s younger brother’s widow and she told me something that I had to share with my friend. If I see something interesting on tv I think oh I have to tell her. Growing up in church we were the ones that the church ladies had to shush if we sat together. All 3 of us found the same things amusing.
I have re-connected with my cousin through Facebook. Her Mom was on Facebook too although she joined after her daughter. Although she and my Uncle were divorced we all considered her family. We talked openly about loss and how sharing memories keeps our loved ones alive.
I am so thankful for the connection I have made with a public school friend through Janet. We would have eventually found each other on Facebook I’m sure but writing long emails and letters made for more meaningful conversations. I have often said that she has a connection to Janet that I can’t explain…how else does she know exactly what to draw without me telling her?
Family and friends are the things that connect us but love is the thing that joins us.

Special

Yesterday I was writing out my grocery list and added a box of Turtles to the list. When the grocery delivery person handed me the bag she told me how much it was. Did you know it cost that? Yeah. I told her that I can remember buying them for my Dad for 7.99 but I think that was on sale. Of course that’s also 10 years ago but it still seems ridiculous for it to increase so much. And the woman said they are different prices at each store.
My Dad LOVED chocolates and every year one of us would buy him a box of turtles. That was back in the day when you actually had 2 levels of chocolates. Out of the whole box I think we would get one and Dad ate the rest. We would announce it when we got to the second level. One year we got this big container of Ferroro Roche. It was a gift for my parents from their future daughter in law’s parents. Throughout the afternoon we kept picking at it that I think it lasted maybe 2 days.
It’s interesting how if I turn on the morning talk shows right now they have segments on buying the perfect gift for everyone on your list. According to the commercials you are supposed to get that oh my gosh I love it look. I think as we get older we realize that it’s not about that. It’s about creating special moments with people. When my friend and I went to have our picture taken with Santa we had fun. I laughed at the comment a friend wrote underneath it when I posted it on Facebook.
Last night I was watching God Friended Me. I watched the season premiere but couldn’t really get into it. Truthfully I was watching it last night because there wasn’t anything else on. I was intrigued by the premise last night since I could tell the purpose was to help himself as much as it was to help the parishioner. I find that when I happen upon a show like that it’s because I was meant to at that time. There was a line at the end of the show when the father asks “Do you ever stop missing them?” and the minister tells him “No, but why would you want to?”. I can’t buy my Dad a box of chocolates or have coffee with my Mom and sis but I can smile at the memories.
That’s special.