My Spin On Gift Giving

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Not sure why the song, Christmas time is coming, came to mind this morning, but perhaps because it’s only 20 days away, or because our tree is up and decorated now, or the scenery when I opened the blinds triggered it. We got about 6” of snow this week, I doubt we’ll see grass again until spring. See you next year, my diehard pansies.

For those who don’t know, I love making lists. Short ones, long ones, loose ones and ones in note books. They have a place in my purse, in draws, beside my chair and of course on the iPad seldom out of reach. One particular list is very useful, it’s gift ideas for people which I add to throughout the year.

With only a couple gifts left undecided, it’s time to study that list and finish shopping.

Since Mister’s retirement, he is more involved in choosing who gets what, and now we usually shop together. It’s rare for me to drive when it’s the two of us, but he’s a willing chauffeur as long as we’re not out evenings or weekends when places are busy.

A crowd or line-up person, Mister is not.

Retirement for us, is like coming full circle, we are back working within a budget of sorts and our Christmas gift giving reflects this.

People approaching this phase in life often worry about how they will adjust, it scares us all at first. Sure, sometimes I miss spontaneous spending, one of which is not buying bigger, special presents like we used to occasionally, but our family respects a gifts cost isn’t what’s important.

Homemade items have and I’m sure will always be acceptable gifts within our family.

I think the kids and spouses appreciate the occasional one from me, or they’re too sweet to say otherwise. It’s not that I knit everyone a scarf whether they need or want one, but if I can make an item and personalize it, I will, and I’m not the only one in the family that makes gifts.

The kids have tucked away as keepsakes some handmade presents from years past. There’s the tall, multi floor Barbie doll house, complete with furniture, a plastic canvas fold-up micro machine city, and a twill blanket, matching shipping boots and leather show halter for their pony to name a few.

This year is no different, some presents are getting made.

I also use to enjoy creating puzzles. Each person got an envelope with a list of questions. The answers had the same number of letters as following blanks and one blank in each answer was colored. The letters from those blanks spelled out their gifts hiding place.

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The Kids & Grandchildren Doing Puzzles 

Writing this post brought to mind A Birthday Gift Story from a couple years ago.

It started the fall prior to our sons birthday, part of his gift took me almost five months to complete.

With busy schedules, Mister, myself, our daughter and son met at a restaurant in a City between where we all live. After the meal, in the sunny parking lot, he used his truck’s lowered tailgate as a table to unwrap presents.

His face when he opened the box from Mister and I caused a smile. It was a mix of, on second thought, no mix, his look said, “Mom, you’re losing it.”

He lifted the white hoodie and spotted a black shirt underneath. Both items he had given me five months prior for mending.

Of course, we added something else to the gift, but I couldn’t resist wrapping these since I had finally gotten them repaired. What the heck, he hadn’t seen either for so long, they were like new to him. Unwrapping is more fun than handing him a boring plastic bag. (smiley face)

Back to Christmas thoughts.

Have other parents ever drifted asleep Christmas Eve while waiting for their children to do the same, only to wake in a panic because of how long they dozed and what they had left to do?

One year, our daughter decided that along with cookies and milk for Santa we should put hay on our roof for the reindeer. That was a detail hard for Mister to take care of in the dark of night without making noise and leaving tracks. It’s a good thing we found out, the reindeer get sluggish between flights if they eat so we only did that once. (a smiley face for our creative thinking)

Do you give homemade gifts?

Everything into a Pot

 

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Hosting meals for family or friends is a great joy, but not being a cooking enthusiast anymore means strategic planning. Sometimes, I spend more energy racking my brain for easy foods to serve than I do with preparation. I suffer flashes of guilt because of my low luster entrees, but I’m thankful people still come over.

While our kids grew up, I put effort into cooking. Meals had plenty variety, were tasty, hearty, lots of homemade this and homemade that.

The family seldom did, or had reason to complain, except the night of the “Tuna Casserole”. The only uneatable dish I’ve made, one for the record books and still remembered. Dreadful music played in my head, and my stomach churned as I typed its name. (smiley face)

Who is at the table, is far more important than the food served.

My goal remains that no one goes hungry while at our home. Now though, menu choices are pretty basic, and meals are simple. And yes, sometimes when the kids stay over, for breakfast I tell them to help themselves to whatever they find.

Presentation holds little importance. Items often get served in cooking pots or casserole dishes. You won’t find both salad and dinner forks on our table, and if the meal doesn’t require a spoon, one won’t get placed beside your plate.

When company is coming, I like to have things washed, peeled, chopped and prepared in advance. If I can’t, our smaller, open concept home means no separation from visiting, anyway.

Last weekend for a birthday gathering, I threw multiple veggies into a pot with a ham bone in the morning. When our guests arrived, I finished it with homemade flour dumplings and, viola, lunch was ready to serve. The big steaming pot sat in the middle of the table and everyone helped themselves.

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Note to self. I often use green cabbage in soups, but this time I had purple in the fridge. It made for a weird color tinge, but added nice flavor.

Unfortunately, not all my siblings were in attendance for this get-together, but it was fun and a wonderful afternoon. If you leave out the part where the boys beat the girls in cards.

I Love Family Time!

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This summer, our daughter gave me a dessert recipe, I’ll quote her, “It’s real easy, Mom.”

Well, I made it, but good grief, what was she thinking? The fresh rhubarb had to be chopped in the morning so it could sit a few hours in sugar. I had to remember to stir it now and again. Then, I had to melt butter, boil and thicken a sauce, plus mix ingredients in one bowl and others in another.

That night when we talked on the phone and she asked how it went, I explained that was not my idea of easy. Easy is one bowl, mix a few things together, bake and serve. A little exaggeration there.

Don’t get the wrong idea, we eat the majority of our meals at home, so Mister and I share cooking duty, it’s just not my thing. I do the clean-up afterwards though, because I enjoy washing dishes.

I like to think I passed on some skills to our children before I tucked my enthusiasm in a drawer.

They are all accomplished cooks. I can’t take credit for what the oldest has learned, but our daughter and her husband get creative and experiment with a wide range of ingredients and dishes. The son enjoys more basic foods like his father, but he’s not intimidated by a new recipe or to add his own flair.

I failed to pass on my joy of dish washing to any of them though, but that’s all right. When visiting their homes, they cook, I do the dishes.

Do you enjoy cooking? Would you rather bake or make a meal?

What is your, go to, meal to cook? Mine is; barbequed pork chops (which Mister does all barbequing) microwave baked potatoes and lettuce salad. The most popular meal I serve to company is, pork roast with potatoes and carrots all cooked in one roaster.

Name two foods you could live without. I wouldn’t miss avocado, and blue cheese.

Swinging With a Changing Family

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Family, a treasure in Life.

These family dynamics might confuse you at first, but I will explain.

  • Our son’s niece is six weeks older than he is.
  • The oldest daughter was pregnant with her first child when I was pregnant with our second.
  • The age between our daughters is greater than between the oldest daughter and myself.
  • I’m the same age as my son-in-law.
  • I have Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren, yet I’m not a senior by government age standards.

I’m sure you’ve begun to figure it out. My husband has a daughter from a previous marriage. We are a blended family, nothing uncommon there.

Why I wrote this post is the fifteen years between my husband and I, and how that sometimes brings confusion to a story.

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Generations, close in age means fun times together

I won’t use their names in stories so here’s a brief, who is who, and how I will refer to them in future posts. For instance, I will call my husband, “Mister.”

  • Mister’s daughter, (my stepdaughter, but I have never liked that impersonal label) will be “the Oldest or Oldest Daughter.”
  • Mine and Mister’s daughter will be, “Our Daughter or Youngest Daughter.”
  • Our son being there is only one has his title sewn up.
  • The Granddaughters I’ll number, oldest being GD 1. She’ll love that title, but girls you’re all number 1 with us. (Technically, they are my step-grandchildren, but I have never and will never consider them anything but ours.)
  • Our one Grandson makes that simple.
  • We have three Great-Grandchildren (GGC’s) so far and I’ll number them as they came into our lives.
  • When I speak of a adopted son or daughter, it’s an endearment not a legal scenario. These two children, adults now, and their mother have been entwined in our family for near thirty years. They are too special for the title of friends so we refer to them as adopted. Their dear Mother, who we greatly miss since her recent passing, was often jokingly referred to as, Misters Other wife.
  • Our cute four-legged Grand animals have given me permission to use their names.

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Some of the Grandchildren having fun with their Aunt and Uncle (I keep telling them they need to try this now that they’re in their twenties & thirties.) 

Over the years a couple minor hurdles have presented themselves, but the closeness and good times our family enjoys is worth every gray hair and smile line.

Often strangers have had comical responses to our age difference. I’ll share one reaction that we still joke about.

A towering male opened one of the heavy doors with thick glass covered mesh windows. He paused while two younger females with him entered. One hung back a step, her stride slow and hesitant.

Inside they faced a long, vacant and quiet hallway. When the three started walking the man’s cowboy boot heels clicked on the polished floors and two sets of squeaking sneakers joined in.

The two females shared a glance and actually giggled at the odd, rhythmic loudness.

They turned into the room marked “Office” and stepped to the reception desk in time for their scheduled appointment.

A smiling elderly woman led the trio to an inner office and gestured to three chairs. Behind the desk a man in a suit rose from his chair. Before they sat, the high-school principal shook the male newcomer’s hand.

“So, Mr… are both your daughters here to register for school?”

Mr… pointed to one female and replied, “This is my wife, and this,” he pointed to the other, “is my daughter…”

The principal turned colourful shades of red. Speechless for seconds, he shifted his feet and adjusted his suit jacket. He then voiced an apology, and we all sat.

The interview began, and during it the principle never once made eye contact with me.

Conclusions like this never bothered us. Awkward stares are also common when all the family is together and eavedropper’s hear people being addressed by their titles. Like if, I answer to both Grandma and Mom when young adults, close in age, call to me.

My skin has thickened with time, and I learned to brush aside unjust assumptions and judgements strangers sometimes make as to why we are together. We are where we are today because of 38 years of love, hard work, and combined efforts.

Age is only a number. True, but changing with age is inevitable. We enjoy our days and years together and simply tackle new challenges as life brings them.

Have you experienced a blended family?

Have you experienced love with an age difference?

Branching Out

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The family tree has a new branch.

Early Wednesday, October 12, another Great Grandchild entered our world. A 8lb,15oz baby girl. We’re thankful both mother and child are healthy and well.

Even though she is the youngest Granddaughter’s first baby, this sweet little one already has a big/little brother waiting at home for her.

She’s a lucky girl, and her life is off to a great start by having a loving Mother, Father and Brother, not to mention the extended family all excited for their future together.

Congratulations to the proud parents.

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“Saddles to Shorelines and Life as it Come” Blog

Saddles Shorelines      

Read about the world, past and present, seen through the eyes of a retired equestrian. A wife, mother, grandmother, and don’t try to guess my age but a young great-grandmother.

This Blog is where I write and share weekly posts covering, country living, family, friends, lake living, crafting, and life as it comes.

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