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Filtering by Tag: Christmas


Cindy Maddera

I’ve been quiet around here lately, I know, but there’s been Christmas time activities and sloth practice. We went to Tulsa to visit with my family over the weekend, where I gave my mother an Ancestry DNA kit. Then we forced my mom to fill a tube with her spit all in the name of science. We had Christmas Eve morning at home with just the three of us. The Cabbage opened her presents and played with Legos. I made enchiladas to take over to Terry’s where we spent the evening drinking margaritas and reading each other’s tarot cards. My self doubt is keeping me from accomplishing shit. At least that’s what my cards said and I was all like “well, duh.” Christmas morning was spent baking pie crust and making pies. Then we spent Christmas evening with Michael’s moms. On Boxing Day, I took down all of the Christmas, swept and vacuumed, and watched some dumb movie that I don’t even really remember now. I taught my yoga class that night and then tried to go to bed at a reasonable hour so I would be able to get up for work today.

Here’s what I have learned in the past five days: The Cabbage sounds like a stampeding rhino when she walks through the house. One day, she’s going to live in a second floor apartment and her neighbors are going to hate her.

I did not use the past five days to the best of an educational example.

Though I am learning to play some form of poker (I don’t really know which one) for a poker tournament on Friday night. My new phrase is “I fold.” I’m really good at saying that. We’ve been using an old deck of cards that I took from my parents’ house when we were cleaning out things. It’s an old Braniff Airlines promotional deck of cards. That deck of cards was always in the camper. None of us were poker players, but we played many a game of Go Fish with that deck of cards. The cards also contain travel phrases in Spanish and Portuguese. ¿Dónde puedo comprar un rollo de película en blanco y negro o color? This does not translate to “I need a black pelican” or “May I see a list of your white and black wines?” It’s asking about buying film for a camera. There’s also one about about buying a flash bulb. This is an old deck of cards. I think I have had more fun memorizing travel phrases in Spanish than I have learning to say “I fold.” Michael says that the first one to be out of the tournament gets to drink. I have goals.

I spent some time today compiling our year in pictures. With any luck and some incense burning for the Gods of Tech, I will have that posted for you tomorrow.


Cindy Maddera

Early last week, I started noticing a trend on social media. People were posting pictures of their Christmas trees with captions that read “we finally got the tree up!” It was the word ‘finally’ that started to put me into a panic. I hadn’t even started to consider decorating for the Holidays. I’ve had stuff sitting in my closet to make a new Christmas wreath for ages, but I put it far enough back in the closet to not really pay attention to it whenever I open the closet (every single day). I’ve had more important things to do. Like sitting on the couch with all the animals piled on top of me. The most pressing thing on my list of things to do was to reorganize our linen closet and bathroom cabinets. We had a big basket on one shelf of the linen closet that was filled with various medications and toiletries. What I should really say is, we had a big basket of garbage sitting in our linen closet. My main goal for this weekend was to fix that basket and by fix, I mean get rid of that basket.

It just didn’t seem possible to get the linen closet organized, a new wreath made, and put up all the other Christmas decorations in one weekend. So I cheated and started cleaning out the closet and bathroom cabinets on Thursday. I also started working on the wreath that night and when I got home Friday night, I drank a couple of cocktails and got out the glue gun to finish it. I’m thinking of starting my own YouTube channel called “Drunk Crafting with Cindy”. I can sell my crafts on Etsy. I think my new wreath turned out really nice. Wreath accomplished, I made a plan for Saturday that included a trip to the Container Store (the most loveliest place on earth, I’m not kidding) and bringing up all the Christmas boxes. At the very least I had to get our menorah out because the first day of Hanukkah starts tonight. But when I opened the Christmas boxes, I couldn’t find our menorah. I have no idea what happened to our menorah or why it was not put back into the Christmas boxes (I blame everything that goes missing on the basement flood). So on top of the trip to the wonderful Container Store, we had to go hunt up a new menorah.

Then a Christmas miracle happened and I learned to bend time to my will. Grocery shopping happened, stocking stuffers were purchased, the tree was set up and decorated, stockings were hung, Christmas cards were ordered, gifts were bought, linen closet got organized (lazy susans are not just for kitchens), the house got cleaned, laundry was completed. People, I made a loaf of sourdough bread. I wrote this blog entry! I just high fived myself. I went from feeling really behind on all things to overachiever. The problem was that I let myself fall victim to the trap of allowing social media to measure and gauge my success. This living life and doing stuff thing is not a competition. I am not behind on anything (except maybe the gas bill…did I pay that?). No one is marking my name down on a failure list for not putting my tree up the day after Thanksgiving.

But I’m hanging on to my new found super power to bend time.


Cindy Maddera

I am the only one awake and have the living room to myself. I am currently watching Little Women with a mug of coffee and Josephine curled on my feet. She's keeping them warm. I've already made cinnamon rolls, or opened a tube of cinnamon rolls, and eaten two of them. It snowed here in the early morning hours. It is every kid's wish come true, a white Christmas. The Cabbage has been harping about snow for days. She'll be pleased when she finally wakes up. This is our Christmas day. There's a note in her stocking from Santa telling her that he could not visit both houses. He's sent his elves instead to hide thirty Shopkins all around the house. Some time today, I will pack for our week in Oklahoma and make sure the chickens have food for the week, but right now though, I am enjoying this moment.

The night before last, I dreamed that a skinny French woman showed up on my doorstep. She was petite, with curly hair and glasses. When I answered the door, She said "Chris?" I looked at her with confusion and asked "you are looking for Chris?" She nodded and replied "oui!" I sighed and then gently reached for her elbow. I remember that her elbow was so bony and slight, like a bird's. Then, once again, I found myself telling the story of how Chris wasn't with us any more. I am surprised the story hasn't become permanently tattooed onto my body with so many tellings. The next night, I dreamed that I was teaching a yoga class in a room that held a potato bar. There might be something marketable here. Yogatado: Come for yoga; stay for a potato. 

I don't know what any of this has to do with Christmas Eve except that maybe I'm having an Ebenezer Scrooge moment. So far, I've seen the ghost of Christmas past and the ghost of Christmas future. They're coming to me out of order. Maybe tonight a I'll get visit from the ghost of Christmas present. I wonder what that's going to look like. Michael and I will be traveling on Christmas day and having Christmas dinner at Mom's. Maybe tonight I'll dream of driving through a winter wonderland with talking deer, followed up with a table piled with fried oysters. If I'm lucky, I will avoid an encounter with the two emaciated children, Ignorance and Want. Though it's pretty hard to avoid Ignorance even in the waking world. 

My time of stillness is up. The Cabbage just came out of her room wearing nothing but her underwear. I've just told her to go put on some pajamas so she can start opening her presents. She has thirty individually packaged Shopkins to open. 

We'll be here a while. 


Cindy Maddera

I was chatting with a friend I hadn't talked to in a long time. We spent some time catching up and then our conversation shifted to gifts we had purchased for our kids this year. (Wait...did I mention I'm totally winning Christmas this year? I've probably mentioned it once or twice, but for real, I am winning Christmas this year.) This friend and I were talking about kid presents today and I mentioned that kids get stuff all the damn time. Christmas probably isn't as big of a deal for them as it was for us. She totally agreed. She said that when she sees something she knows her son will like, she just goes ahead buys it then and doesn't wait to give it him. I'm kind of guilty of the same thing. I try to pick up something off the $1-3 section in Target for the Cabbage every time I'm in Target. I think that I'll save it for her stocking or Valentine's day or Easter, but I never do. 

My friend and I lamented together on how our Strawberry Shortcake collections would have been completed faster or at all if we hadn't had to wait for Christmas. I had to confess that I was never at a want for Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Between my mother and my sister-in-law, I was literally covered in Strawberry Shortcake. My Mom made me an exact replica of Strawberry Shortcake's outfit for Halloween one year. She also made an entire bedroom set, canopy for my bed, pillow cases/shams, comforter and curtains out of Strawberry Shortcake themed material, as well as placemats and napkins for my little table. Even so, I could not expect to be in a store and just get whatever Strawberry Shortcake item at any given time. That collection was acquired through Christmas and birthday gifts. So many of my childhood Christmas memories include sneaking downstairs at two or three in the morning to get a peak at what Santa had brought me. There was nothing like seeing that one thing I had spent months asking and begging for sitting under the Christmas tree or the feeling of surprise because you just weren't sure Santa was going to make that wish come true. Like the year I'd begged for a beagle puppy. Odie was the best Christmas present I ever received. 

There's nothing on her list that the Cabbage has been pining over for months or leaving gentle reminder notes and hints about. But I know we've gotten her some gifts that she is not expecting. I tried to stick with a want/need/wear/read list for her this year. The things she needs are storage solutions for her toys. She's going to open two storage boxes from IKEA and I can't wait to see that crestfallen look of disappointment on her face. Because what kid is excited about storage solutions for Christmas? I also can't wait to see her reaction to the other surprises we have in store for her, the ones that I know will make her whoop with joy. That's the best lesson those childhood Christmases ever taught me was what a joy it is to be able to give such a gift that creates so much happiness and joy. I am thankful for that lesson. I am also thankful for gifts that don't come wrapped up in fancy paper, like the gift of good friends and family. Or...the gift of a new addition to the framily. Chad, Jess and Austin signed adoption papers yesterday. It is official. Chad and Jess are parents of a teenager and every time I look at their new family picture, I burst into happy tears. I cannot even open my mouth to tell other people this wonderful news without starting to ugly cry. 

Here's to a wonderful Holiday. May it be filled with joy and laugher and happy tears. 


Cindy Maddera

Not too long ago, Michael and I were in JcPenny's and we were checking out. The young woman working the registered told me that I qualified for a special coupon that could be worth up to 50% off. When I peeled back the tab to find out the coupon's worth, I revealed a 50% off coupon! I enthusiastically cried out "Winner!" in a perfect Kristen Wiig voice. It was really quite hilarious and Michael even snorted a little. The young woman at the register just lifted her eyebrows and said "oookay". Not even a chuckle. Who cares what that young lady thought or that she's missing her sense of humor! Michael and I now use my Kristin Wiig "winner" for any successful moment. 

Right now, I feel like I am the Christmas Winner! The reason I am winning Christmas is because I have gotten all of the Cabbage's Christmas taken care of, with the exception of some candy for her stocking. Michael and I are only buying for the Cabbage this year because we are poor and on a super tight budget to pay somethings off. Like all the presents I bought for the Cabbage. We tried to stick to a new rule of four gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. We got her a couple of things that she wants and then I saw the Kindle Fire on sale and decided that this could be something she reads. There was also a pair of leggings with kitty faces on the knees and some shoes, because the child always needs shoes. Any way, I'm sure as she gets older this want/need/wear/read list will get easier. I've been trying to figure out what on earth we were going to do for this year's Christmas card. Then, as we were driving back from Oklahoma, we spotted a Christmas light display. It was a Christmas miracle (not really). I made us get out of the car and I got a hilarious photo of the Cabbage with Christmas lights. Then, on Sunday, I made our Christmas cards with that picture and printed them out. They're all cut and ready to be addressed and I'm looking at myself in the mirror and giving my reflection a high five.

It's not even December!!! Look how much I've accomplished! Look! I'm amazed with myself. I have zero decorations up, but Halloween decorations are down (Winner!). There's still a tiny pumpkin out front because of Thanksgiving. He's not decorated or carved or wearing vampire teeth, so I thought he could stay. The decoration thing doesn't even bother me all that much. Now that I have most of all of our Christmas shopping done, I have more time to set up decorations. The Cabbage wants to help put up our tree which means inside decorations wait until the next weekend we have her, but I can start on the outside decorations this weekend. My brother's been making these cement Moai and selling them on Facebook. He gave me one for my front yard and I've got to find a Santa hat or antlers or something. I've named him Marvin and he must be included in our seasonal decorations now. I haven't figured it out how he's going to be decorated for Christmas just yet, but look at all the time I've got to figure it out. 

And! Micheal came down with a sore throat and achy body this morning. So now I've got to pull out all the tricks to dodge whatever virus he's contracted. I did get a flu shot this year (Winner?). I'm going to go home this evening and perform some rituals in hopes of not getting sick because even though I've gotten so much accomplished, I've still got some stuff to do. 

Like decorate Marvin. Maybe he needs an ugly Christmas sweater....


Cindy Maddera

All of the Christmas presents, which happens to be all for the Cabbage, are wrapped and shoved into my closet and one drawer under the bed. We were afraid to put them all under the tree. The animals have been really good about the Christmas tree this year, but I am not convinced that they would be so good with paper wrapped boxes under that tree. So we have taken to stashing Christmas presents out of reach and sight. This is a challenge in seven hundred and fifty square feet of space. My Mom would hide Christmas presents so well every year that there would always be at least one or two that she'd miss. She'd be cleaning out some closet in the middle of July and come across a shopping bag containing a sweater or toy and say something like "Oh! That's where that went!". Then she'd hand it over to who ever it was meant for with a "Merry Christmas!" That's going to be me. As I placed two wrapped Barbie's into that drawer, I thought "Is this the year I lose a gift?" 

Stockings are hung with care and ready for filling with treats. Christmas cards are in the mail (I'm so sorry if I missed someone). Plans are in works for visiting family and friends. There's nothing much left to do but to sit back and watch the lights twinkle on the Christmas tree. Every year, I feel the hectic rush of Christmas as I am sure many of you do. I think of the tasks before me and wonder about how I will ever accomplish all of the things on my list. This year was a little worse because I feel like I selfishly took up a whole week of December traveling around California. I don't feel guilty about it or have any regrets, but I do recognize that it took some time away from getting things done on the Christmas list. Except it didn't. Like I said, the hectic rush of Christmas comes along every year and every year, it all comes together. Almost like magic. Christmas magic. I am thankful that the preparations for Christmas are done enough so that now all my time can be spent focused on what's important. I am thankful for the time I will spend soaking in all of the love and laughter with family and friends. 

May the days ahead be filled with joy for you and your family. May you take time to recognize the importance of the holiday and that Christmas comes with out boxes, ribbons and bows. May you take a moment to recognize that it is not the geographical location that matters but the people you are with in that space that matters. May you take a moment to grasp onto all of that and be grateful. Be grateful for the good things of this moment and grateful for the good moments to come. This is what I plan to do. Happy Holidays and safe travels to all. Here's to a jingly bell kind of weekend and a star bright kind of a Thankful Friday. 


Cindy Maddera


So, I'm looking at the Christmas tree this morning. Mostly because I heard something suspicious and sure enough Josephine was running out the door with Mrs. Claus riding a train in her mouth. (We mourn the death of Mrs. Claus today.) Other than the recently removed ornament, the tree looked perfectly normal. It was upright, not swaying side to side. There was nothing amiss at all about the tree.  I did notice that some ornaments had been moved around on the tree. I thought "huh...guess Michael's been moving ornaments around on the tree." Like this is a thing people do. "I see you've decided that this ornament should go over there, but really it's much better if we put it right here." Except Michael isn't really that kind of a person. 

Well, Michael gets out of the shower and starts to brush his teeth when I say "I see you've moved some ornaments around on the tree." He responds with "I have no idea what you are talking about." Except it doesn't sound that clear because there's a toothbrush in his mouth. He steps out of the bathroom to look at the tree and I point out all the ornaments he's moved. He just shakes his head and is adamant that he did not move any ornaments. Then he tilts his head, pulls the toothbrush from his mouth and says "This tree has been turned almost exactly 90 degrees. Look at it!" I look and he's right. The plugs for the star are no longer on the back side of the tree. We stand there stunned and slightly creeped out. The blanket the tree base sits on is not even wrinkled. We have no idea how the cat did it, but we're pretty sure it had to be the cat. Or ghosts. Or aliens.

Speaking of the cat, or not speaking really. He's got a few new tricks. Right now, he's with out a voice. He looks at you and opens his mouth and you expect to hear a "meow" but nothing comes out. He's mouthing "meow". We looked it up and apparently it's a thing that happens because cats are weird. It can be caused from many things from hacking up a large hairball to laryngitis. Cats can get laryngitis. Cats will also murder large earthworms all over your floor. That's his second trick. Because he is a jerk.



Cindy Maddera

I know I was just talking about not being ready because of the whole Christmas card thing, but I think I can honestly say that I've never been so far ahead on my Christmas preparations in my whole dang life. I have all the presents I'm buying. Michael is in charge of getting a few other things for the Cabbage. I have wrapping paper. I have ribbon. I have candy for stockings (except for one last candy item for Michael; he likes sixlets; they're his favorite; he's from the past). I have knew lights for the tree. I pulled that plan for the Christmas card out of my sleeve and last night Christmas cards were ordered. I have material to make stockings for Josephine and Albus. I HAVE ALL THE THINGS!!! I AM WINNING AT CHRISTMAS!!!

Except. None of those presents are wrapped. Some of them haven't even shown up yet. All of the Christmas decorations are still in the basement. The Cabbage looked around here on Saturday and said "You don't have no Christmas up in here any where." (Right now, grammar is the least of our problems.) Stocking are hung no where with care. In fact, I bought a box of sticky wall hooks for the stockings two weeks ago and I have no clue where I put them. It's possible I threw them away now that I'm really thinking hard about it. The sewing machine is still sitting in the garage covered in dust and cobwebs. Christmas cards don't get here until the eleventh (fingers crossed). I AM LOSING AT CHRISTMAS!!! 

OK. Maybe I'm not losing at Christmas. I may have just fallen for that commercial Christmas rush trap. Halloween wasn't even close to being over when our local Target cleared an isle for Christmas decorations. The spiders weren't even cold on their webs and had to stare down dancing elves with their beady little eyes. Weeks before Thanksgiving, I was flooded with promotions for pre-black Friday sales. "Get 'em now! While supplies last!" People were talking about decorating trees on Thanksgiving day making me beg the question of "of what kind of drugs are you on that gives you enough energy to cook and eat a turkey and put up a Christmas tree?!?" I have attended three Christmas parties all in the first week of December. The Cabbage has seen Santa twice. The poor kid had no idea what she wanted for Christmas because she hasn't even had time to contemplate it. Both Santas told her that this was OK. She could just email them later. Email Santa. Santa doesn't even have time for regular old mail anymore. 

I get that the last few months of the year tend to fly by, but do we have to shove them forward? Am I the only one hearing those outside voices telling me to hurry up and get all of the things done right this second? Sure, every one needs a little Christmas, but does it all really have to happen "right this very minute"? I am telling those voices to just shut it. I want to savor my Christmas. I want to savor this last month of the year. I want to take a moment to actually look at the lights, to listen to the music, to smell the spruce (and then sneeze uncontrollably because I am allergic to firs). So what if my Christmas tree doesn't make it up until December 12th. The important thing is that I am putting up a tree before Christmas day. I am right on track for Christmas. 

Really, I'm saying all of this and procrastinating because I'm super nervous about that dog/cat/tree equation. 


Cindy Maddera

Last night, after work, I went to one of the neighborhood grocery stores to finally drop off my box of canned goods. They'd been riding around in the back of my car for over a week. I parked my car in an upper level parking lot because this particular grocery store has a crazy parking lot that is a mess all the time but particularly hazardously messy at rush hour. It just seemed easier to carry my heavy box of canned goods down a flight of metal stairs in a cold drizzle than to find a spot in the main lower level lot. I walked in the front door and was greeted by a young man arranging the shopping carts. He kindly took my donation box and carried it over to the Harvester bins for me. From the grocery store, I headed down the block and up the street to the The Dime Store. Yes. We have a Dime Store. I am not speaking from the past. 

I was looking for one last thing to go in Michael's stocking and I thought maybe the Dime Store would have it. It wasn't really too cold outside. It felt more like Fall than winter, but it did start to sprinkle as I got to the corner of 63rd and Main. I dashed across 63rd and when the light chained, I sprinted across Main reaching the row of store front awnings just as the rain picked up to a bit more than a sprinkle. I opened the door to The Dime Store and there stood Santa. I said "hello Santa!" and he replied "Merry Christmas!" I wished him well and continued on with my hunt for that last stocking gift. I won't say if they did or didn't have what I was looking for, but as I left the shop I smiled at Santa and smiled back with wink. That's when I knew. I had just encountered the real Santa, right down to the white beard and twinkly eye.

I smiled to myself as I made my way back across Main and over to 63rd and all the way back to my car. The magic of Christmas gets tarnished as we grow older. There's not too many surprises under the tree and the myth of Santa has been busted. That's OK because most of that magic is replaced with love and the understanding that being able to be with those we love is more important than pretty wrapped packages or a man in a red suit with a white beard. Michael, the Cabbage and I will spend the evening with his moms tonight. Then, the three of us will celebrate Christmas Eve together on Wednesday. And then Michael and I will travel to Oklahoma on Christmas Day for time with family and friends. So with that my friends, I think I'm going take some time off from this place this week. I've got some healing to do and as therapeutic as it may be at times to write it all out here, it's also a crutch. So I'm going to go wrap a wool blanket around my heart and come back to you guys next week with tales of laughter and love. 

Have a safe and wonderful holiday! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanuka and all the rest!


Cindy Maddera

I've had an ear worm playing in my brain since November twenty eighth. It's that "Trim Up the Tree" song from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I may just be in the mood to trim up a tree with bingle balls. The problem is we lack the space for my vintage sparkly aluminum Christmas tree and I'm nervous about getting out some of my Christmas ornaments. Michael and the Cabbage are not the type that go gently through the night. I am still at times amazed that someone so small can walk so loudly. I just have a vision of some of those ornaments smashed into millions of pieces from wayward limbs and shaking floors. There's a few that are irreplaceable and then I remember that time we went to retrieve our Christmas ornaments from our old house and found all of our ornaments smashed to smithereens. My beautiful Babar ornament was nothing but shiny dust. I've rebuilt my ornament collection since then, even finding the same Babar ornament, but I'm scared of a repeat disaster. Yet I still want to hang some pantookas. 

Last weekend I made us a new wreath for the door. A few days ago, I designed and ordered our Christmas cards. I have yet to hang up our stockings or figure out the tree situation. I'm moving in slow motion mostly because I am indecisive. We can't do live trees if you want me to live through Christmas without suffocating from swollen sinuses and scratching my skin off because of hives. Do I go with the super tiny tree we used last year? Or do I talk myself into a new medium sized tree that would tuck away into a corner a bit easier than the aluminum tree I have now? What about that pre-lit tree Chris and I used one time in the house on Mallard? Does this mean I need more Christmas lights and ribbon? Those Whos have it easy. All of their Christmas shit is strung together so that they just have to toss it up in the air and it lands Christmas side up. If only it were really that easy. 

After looking at trees at Target, I decided that I didn't want to spend fifty bucks on a new tree. This meant that I had to dig in the basement for that pre-lit tree that I knew that I had somewhere because I was raised by Southern women and Southern women always have back-up trees for their back-up trees. I opened the storage box to see that a container of silver glitter had managed to bust open and fill the corners of the box with glitter so when I pulled out the tree and let the limbs flop down, glitter spilled out onto the floor. We have glitter every where. Festive. Once I got the tree together, Michael and I agreed that it was too short and needed to sit on something. So we found a small table (a box) and covered it with a sheet. I plugged in the lights and Viola! Only the bottom half of the tree was lit. I don't know if any of you have a pre-lit Christmas tree or have seen how they kind of work. There's like twenty plugs (really four) and they all plug into each other is some daisy chain (dirty) fashion and all of the plugs are located near the center of the tree. You have to fight your way through plastic limbs to get to everything and I think it's very much like disarming a bomb. One bloody knuckle and a band-aid later I decided that this tree looked fine with just the two strings of LED lights I ended up stringing around the tree.

But the tree is up! We each did several test stomps through the dining room to the kitchen to make sure that the tree would actually stay up and looks like we have a Christmas tree. The Cabbage helped me hang ornaments and she set my Abominable Snowman at the base of the tree. I hung up Babar near the top of the tree and plugged my Christmas trailer into a blue light (blue light special). The Christmas gods have smiled upon us and behold! We have a Christmas tree! Literally decorated with blood and sweat. It's enough to shut up all those Whos because they've stopped singing their holly jolly decorating tune.

Even though I still haven't hung the stockings.