Nothing Day

Finally. December 27th is here. The day I get to do absolutely nothing. I'm not even getting dressed today. No meals to cook because the fridge is groaning with leftovers, no visits to make or company to receive because it's all been done, no wrapping, cleaning or preparing because it's just plain too late. It is Nothing Day in my house. I can read, watch tv, read, play games, read, write in my blog, and read. I am responsible for absolutely nothing. I love Nothing Day. I slept, or at least stayed in bed till 1 pm. I've been reading since then and may go back for a nap in a few minutes. I'm even stepping over stuff on the floor that any other day would have to be picked up. I don't have a "to do" list. I won't even make one for tomorrow. Because Nothing Day, my friends, is inviolable.

So. Books. Did you get books for Christmas? I got two: Empire Of Illusion by Chris Hedges, a book I've been reading about for a long time and Anne Perry's Silent Nights, which contains two of her Christmas mysteries. I plan to read one or both of them this week, then I have to get into Eat, Pray, Love for book club on January 12th. That will be our travel book/dinner meeting, so I have to find a couple of recipes from Italy, India or Bali to cook for the meal.

I'm reading War and Peace with Daily Lit, the site that will break a book up into sections and email you one daily. It's a great way to read those books that will take forever without having to put off all the other books you want to get at. I get 2 sections sent to my inbox every day and it takes about 5 minutes to read it. It'll get me through War and Peace in about a year, whereas I might never get through it otherwise. I'm a few days behind right now but I can get caught up in half an hour or so. I think Daily Lit is a brilliant idea.

This year I took part in the Book Blogger's Christmas Card Exchange hosted by Anastasia of Birdbrained Book Blog. It was one of the most fun parts of Christmas this year. I got names to send cards to in various parts of the world, and I received cards from around the world as well. They all came with long notes/letters telling how they celebrate Christmas in their part of the world. Thank you to: Carla of , Ana of things mean a lot, Jess of start narrative here, Ryan of wordsmithonia and Courtney of stiletto storytime for the cards and letters. Thank you for the time and effort you took to tell me about yourselves and your Christmas celebrations.You reminded me just how enjoyable it is to get a lovely chatty letter in the mail. Everybody uses email now, but wouldn't it be nice to write letters again? Wouldn't it be fun to have a penpal and look forward to real letters on paper? 

Christmas Eve here is very busy, but I always wish it wasn't. I like Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day. I like wrapped presents better than opened ones. I like thinking about Mary, Joseph, Jesus and Bethlehem before the busyness of present opening, dinner making and family visiting takes over. I like the anticipating, the preparing, the readiness. Music that I'm tired of on the 26th still holds profound meaning on the 24th. I'd like to spend the day quietly, but the clock is ticking so I get ready for the influx of family after church. It is long standing tradition that there will be homemade eggnog and a table filled with things like baked brie with crackers, puff pastry hors d'oeuvres, spinach/artichoke dip with baked pita chips and of course the requisite tray of Christmas sweets, cookies with a whole cherry hidden inside, mocha cakes and peanut butter balls and sugar cookies in the shape of snowflakes frosted and topped with sanding sugar to make them glisten like real snow. This year after we were all stuffed to the gills, my granddaughter read The Night Before Christmas and my son read the Nativity Story from Luke chapter 2. I had asked everyone to come prepared to share a favorite Christmas memory, sing a song or read a story. A few brave souls complied. We heard a few favorite memories, heard my daughter and her daughter sing "We Wish You A Tasty Fruitcake", and had a few laughs over funny stories. 

Christmas morning, we were all together for the first time in years. My son, Nick, and his girlfriend have been staying with us for a while and my daughter, Amanda, and her family are here for the week. There were eight of us and two dogs and a mountain of presents to open. We opened our stockings first then the men made breakfast and we tackled the presents. I love watching people open gifts. The surprise and delight on their faces makes up for all the hours and effort put into making Christmas happen. In the afternoon, Amanda and her family went to my son-in-law's parents to have dinner with his family. The four of us here had a traditional turkey dinner and pumpkin pie. Our usual Christmas dinner dessert is steamed cranberry pudding with butter sauce, but my son's girlfriend always had pumpkin pie at home and I wanted to have something that would make it feel like Christmas for her. After the kitchen was cleaned up (10 pm or so) we spent the rest of the evening watching Christmas-y things on tv. 

Boxing day starts with sleeping in, but not too late because things have to be prepared for the family gathering at my mothers. This is where I will see my sisters and family, and my brother. All in all there will be thirteen of us there. The meal this time is all finger foods, so I take teriyaki meatballs and another tray of sweets. This is a tricky gathering to navigate because certain topics can't be raised and certain opinions can't be expressed if peace is to reign. So we keep it light and hope for the best. We got home from that around 8 pm. I put on my Christmas red robe, poured a Bailey's, put my feet up, and thought "Woooo Hoooo! Tomorrow is Nothing Day!"

And that was Christmas. I love most everything about the season including the music, the gift-choosing, the pretty paper and cards, the story of Jesus, the candles, the lights, the decorated tree and the fancy foods. I don't like the family tensions, the hurry and fatigue or the budget limitations. I like it when Christmas comes and I like it when it goes and I get my living room and my time back. 

I love today. Nothing Day. A wonderful invention if I do say so myself. I highly recommend it to one and all. Now, I believe I'll go back to reading for a while. And then, well, then I'll do just whatever I feel like doing.

Have a great week everyone.

"The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"

"The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson

My book club read this for our Christmas selection this year. I was surprised when I heard someone mention it because I read it many years ago and haven't really heard much about it since. In the early 80's we turned it into a play for the children's concert at our church and my daughter played the role of Gladys. At the time I thought it was rather a brilliant bit of character casting; if you read it you'll understand. My little girl is all grown up now and has two girls (14 and 9) of her own, but this book brought back a lot of great memories.

I don't know if anyone is reading this book anymore but it really is worth the couple of hours you'd have to invest. It's entertaining, sweet and funny and it's a Christmas book so of course it has a happy ending. Sometimes it's a bit over the top, but that also is expected in a Christmas book.

The story centers on a nativity play being put together by a harried church member who has to include in the cast a family of children who are unchurched, uncouth and unpredictable. They are refreshingly imperfect and outspoken (even swearing a couple of times), but that's easy for me to say because I'm just the reader. I'd have pulled my hair out as the poor woman who had to cope with it all and come up with something presentable for Christmas Eve.

 If you get a chance to read this one over the holidays I'm sure you'll be glad you did. It would also make a great gift or stocking stuffer for someone else. I've heard there's a movie based on the book but I haven't seen it. Maybe next year.

Getting Back to Reality

December. I can't believe it's just over two weeks till Christmas. I haven't been very attentive to this blog the past couple of months and I apologize to my readers. It's been kind of a crazy time and I didn't get much reading done, hence the lack of regular posts. For six mind-numbing weeks I was waiting to get tests results to find out if the cancer I had last year has come back. The symptoms pointed to that, but the tests didn't show anything conclusive. I was told there is "something" there (abdominal) but my Oncologist doesn't think it's cancer. I have to have one more test to make sure. An x-ray showed a spot on my lung as well, so I'm waiting now to have a CT scan that will show more clearly what that is. It will be the end of March before the testing is done, results are in and I see him again, so it's going to be another long wait. I think I'm past the shock and panic stage of those first six weeks though. I'm able to read and concentrate on what I'm doing and not feeling quite so scatterbrained as I did. There is Christmas to be celebrated and life to be lived and I'm not going to let what "might be" change all that.  So here's hoping I'll get some reading done in the coming weeks, well, once I finish the shopping, wrapping, baking, etc.!

Several weeks ago 100 Thoughts very generously awarded me the Life Is Good award and I am only now getting around to thanking her and passing it on. I have linked back to her blog so you can check out some of her reviews. I'm passing it on to Jamie at perpetualpageturner. I chose her and her blog because 1.-I like her positive attitude and 2.-although I am a lot, lot older than her, I'd still like to be her if I ever grow up. Which I probably won't. Go have a look at her blog;. She's....well she's likeable. You'll like her!

Award recipients are asked to answer the following questions:
1. If you blog anonymously are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now? I did consider anonymity in the beginning but it didn't feel right for me. I was a little nervous about family/friends reading it but I don't think many of them do anyway. Only a couple of friends are regular readers.
2. Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side. Well....I assured myself it would be a good idea to cut back on Christmas this year, a small tree, very little baking, fewer gifts, etc. I'm sitting here looking at the biggest tree we've had in years, there is already baking in the freezer and I have a stack of recipes sitting on the kitchen counter, and I can hardly get to my bed because there is a mountain of bags and boxes that need to be wrapped and put under the huge tree. Stubborn or stupid?
3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror? Someone whose outside and inside don't match.
4. What is your favorite summer cold drink? A mango margarita.
5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do? Read.
6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in life? What is it? I want to write something good.
7.When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching? The shy person. I wouldn't wish it on anybody.
8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment of your life what would you see? There was a moment when my son was about 5 and my daughter 10.  It was a Saturday and we were all at home. My husband was reading the paper, my son playing with cars in the hallway and my daughter was in her room doing nothing in particular, just enjoying a day off school. I was sitting in my chair in the livingroom reading when I became aware that the moment was perfect. Everybody was together at home, healthy, happy and doing something they wanted to be doing. It was so perfect, and I knew how precious it was and that it had to be savoured because there was no guarantee of having that moment again. I've never forgotten it.
9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events? I tend to write mostly about the books I'm reading. I'm not very comfortable making myself vulnerable, so this post is going to get read and reread and rewritten a hundred times before it's posted.
10. If you had the choice to sit down and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why? Read, always. I'm sort of anti-phone. I don't like making calls and I don't like it when the phone rings. I may be the only person left on the planet who doesn't have (or want) a cell phone.

I hope to have a review ready to post soon now that I'm reading again. Thank-you to all my readers for your patience. And thanks for being here.