Monthly Archives: December 2012

New Year’s Eve Round-Up

I wanted to share some things I’ve pinned that I think would be cute ideas for a New Year’s Eve Party!

These hats are too cute! They could be made to co-ordinate with your party’s colors or just be a fun array of shades for your guests to ring in the New Year with. {instructions found here}

Pom-Poms twisted around a strand of Christmas lights will add an air of whimsy to your party. They would look adorable along the mantle of a little mountain cabin hide-away, in case you decided to ring the New Year in romantically by the fire. {instructions found here}

Don’t let your guests leave without a party popper, these crepe paper poppers lined up on a silver tray by your front door would look very pretty. {instructions found here}

Finally, no New Year’s Eve party would be complete without sparklers:

The Season of Hope

I received a gorgeous Christmas parcel in the post the other week from a very dear someone, a kindred spirit and yesterday morning, my first morning of Christmas freedom, I sat alone on the couch, a cup of coffee in one hand and this book in the other. The James Galway Christmas album playing and all my twinkle lights on, keeping me cozy as the rain splished splashed down outside:

I have given Susan Branch books to friends over the years, but have not had one myself, so this book in particular, it being her Christmas book, is very special to me.

I came across this quote and read it and read it again. For all that is happening in the world right now, I felt that it was befitting. We are in a Season of Hope and we must continue to walk in faith:

A Charlie Brown Christmas

It just isn’t Christmas in our house if you don’t watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas”! You just can’t beat the Peanut’s in my humble opinion.

My sister and I watched this every year on TV, it was a big deal when it came on, the same with “Rudolph”. Just watching these movies sets the tone for my Holidays. It is a tradition that I have carried on with Mr. Michie, if Charlie Brown is on, Christmas is near!

{Poster by Tom Whalen}

RePost: Mrs. Moss (Part 2)

I have already shared the first part of Alice’s story with you. Now, I wanted to go further back and share the story of a little girl, growing up in the South, the daughter of hardworking parents who worked at one of the local mills in town. Christmas was a time of magic for her family, they counted their blessings and found joy in the simplest of things and that is how it should be, shouldn’t? Joy should come from so little, because beauty is held within that.

At times, Alice would also go farther back into her memory and share with me stories from her childhood. Growing up in the South, in the time period she did, there were a lot of mill towns. In some places there still are in the South, though sadly many have closed as cheaper production options have been outsourced. Her family worked at one of the cotton mills in town, they lived in a mill house, in a neighborhood filled with other residents who all worked at the same mill. She and her siblings had chores to do when they would come home and in particular certain chores for each of them that pertained only to Christmas.

They were lucky, Alice said in that they had a screened-in porch off the back of the house, through a door that led out of their kitchen. That became their “extra” fridge in the winter. That always made me smile, as my grandmother would do the same thing on her back porch, using the icy air to keep the pies she had boxed up and ready for the holidays.

Alice’s Mother would make a variety of cakes and pies and cookies through the Holiday season starting about 2 weeks out from Christmas. She would leave notes for her children to prepare different ingredients for her, so when she came home from a long day at the mill, she could begin baking after dinner. One of Alice’s jobs was to chop up all the nuts and fruits that would be needed.

She would come home from school and go straight to the kitchen. There she would find a list that her Mother had left her and her siblings of their directions for the day. Alice would go to the pantry and collect the bags of nuts that she would need and sitting at the table with a bucket between her knees she would begin to shell her pecans and other nuts that her Mother’s recipe required. She always said pecans were her favorite to shell, walnuts were always so fiddly, for her mother wanted them out whole. Biting her lower lip with her brows drawn in concentration on her task, she would always seem to break more than she could flick out in their entirety with the aid of a little metal nut pick.

After shelling everything, she would begin to either roughly or finely chop the nuts, depending on what they would be used for and would place the finished items into bowls and place them on a sideboard. She would often have to fight off her brother from stealing handfuls of her hard-work to munch on while he completed his homework.

In the coming days, she would then turn to working on the fruit. Slowly and surely she would chop up candied and dried pieces of fruit for fruit cakes and cake decorations. When her Mother arrived home from the mill she would check on their progress and see if any more nuts or fruits would need to be prepared for her nightly baking.

Over the coming days her Mother would begin to bake cakes and pies for Christmas. Alice’s favorite, was a pecan cake that was a delicious vanilla cake filled with spices and chopped pecans, iced in a buttercream frosting with chopped pecans thrown around the sides of the cake for decoration. I think it was her favorite, because she had the job of “throwing” the pecans onto the sides of the cake. Her Mother would decorate the top with a little piece of holly and a circle of pecans wreathed around it.

All the pies and cakes that were made were stored outside on their screened-in porch along with the country ham that they would collect. That was always a special trip and certain years would include one child, instead of the whole family, getting to ride with their Daddy up to the mountains, to get the ham from a huge farmer’s market. It would hang outside in its burlap bag on a hook her Father had fastened into the porch ceiling, until their Mother prepared it for Christmas.

Alice, said nothing was better than that first slice off of the ham, you had waited so long to finally taste, sandwiched between the tender golden flaky discs of a biscuit and smothered in butter. The best part was licking the salt and biscuit crumbs off of your lips!

There are many things that have changed in the South and many that have not. And, that goes for any place. As time moves forward, family memories and traditions are things that we carry with us. As hardworking as her childhood was at times, it was still filled with the sweetness of Christmas.

I could always envision this small child coming home from school in her little plaid slip dress, covered with a sweater, little knee socks and mary jane shoes, a big bow in her hair, running in to her house to see what Christmas jobs awaited her. This small child who grew into a beautiful woman and continued to keep her kind outlook on life, never forgetting the beauty in the little things.

RePost: Mrs. Moss (Part 1)

Almost a year to the date, I thought I would share with you something that I posted last year. Often around this time of year, I find that we think of people who have crossed our paths, long since gone, but still within our memories.

Alice Moss is one of those special people for me. Over the next two posts I wanted to relive those stories I shared with you last year, she was a very endearing woman and I was lucky enough to hear her and listen. She was kind, she was beautiful within and on the outside and I am a better person for having known her.

When I was in High School, I got my first “real” job working at a Department Store in my hometown for the Holidays. Now, I had had jobs before, I had been a “professional” babysitter since I was 13 and had numerous families I worked for on a regular basis, my uncles had a flower shop and I would work for them after school, preparing flowers, helping with arrangements, making wreaths and bows. I would also, occasionally work weekends at my family’s farm, in the “shed” selling, depending on the season, peaches, nectarines, apples and fresh apple cider to costumers.

But, this was the first job I had outside of all of that. In fact, it was the same department store, where my Mom worked when she was in High School and I even had the same boss, that she had! I worked in the Children’s and Shoe department and would moonlight in China, Cosmetic’s and Men’s, when someone would be on a break.

I worked with a variety of people, two other High Schoolers like me and in particular two older women. One of them was a very sweet elderly woman who went to my church. Her name was Alice Moss. She always looked just so and had a certain air about her, you wanted to be around Alice to listen to what she had to say. She had the kindest laugh that just made you gravitate toward her direction.

Quite often, she would share stories with me, as we worked alongside each other, of when she was younger. Two of my favourite stories both dealt with Christmas and at two different points in her life.

She began dating her husband in the late 1940’s early 1950’s. They dated for a little while, but both knew they were deeply in love with one another and they had found what they wanted. He proposed after a few months and Alice accepted. During all of this, her Father had become quite ill and eventually passed away. Her mother was sad beyond words and afraid to be “left” by Alice with her upcoming marriage. She pressured Alice to call off the engagement and stay with her and after enough pressuring Alice finally caved, as she wanted to please her mother.

She broke off their engagement, knowing she could never ask him to wait till her Mother would be ready, because she, herself, didn’t know how long that would be. He protested but Alice remained firm, she had to help her Mother and run the household as she asked. A few months went by and any time they would see each other in town, Alice said her heart would skip a beat when she saw him; but nothing had changed, she still had to take care of her Mother.

The holidays came quickly enough that year and with it, Christmas Eve, in all its glory of anticipation and hope. That evening, her brother and his wife picked Alice up to go to church with them. They drove through the snow filled streets, with lights twinkling at them through the frosted window panes of the car as they went along. They drove to a small white church at the foothills of the mountains. A beautiful wreath hung on each of the doors, the red bows on the top of each one gently blowing in the chill of the night air. The glow of candlelight from inside, bathed the walls and open doors and beckoned everyone in. Standing by the door, bundled up in an camel coloured overcoat, hunter green scarf and a fedora hat, stood her former fiance. He took her hand in his and she was breathless, he led her inside the church and her brother and sister-in-law followed.

All through mass she held his hand, not wanting the magic of the moment to disappear, like Cinderella with her pumpkin. At the end of the service everyone filed out of the church wishing each other a “Merry Christmas”, but the four of them remained on the pew. The priest came back inside, shaking the snow off his robes as he walked and stood at the altar, giving them a small nod.

Alice’s brother slowly turned to her and stated that it is important to love and honour your parent’s, but she had found true love and that should not be taken lightly. He and their sister were living their own lives, so should Alice have the right to live her own life. Since their Father had passed away he was now the head of the household and he would not allow their mother to deny Alice the right to happiness, the right to live a life of her own, she was going to be with the man she loved and the man that loved her.

Her husband to be, beamed at her and her sister-in-law pulled out her own wedding veil for Alice to borrow. Stepping to the back of the church she helped her take off the red hat that matched her wool Christmas suit and place the veil in the soft curls of her hair. The lights were turned down, the organist began to quietly play a Christmas hymn and by the glow of candlelight, with her brother and sister-in-law as witnesses, she wed her husband on Christmas Eve, just before the bells chimed midnight.

He was a professor you know, she would say and he took me back to our new home, his former bachelor pad all decorated for Christmas. He carried me over the threshold and we spent our first night as man and wife in that home. That was always how she brought the story to an end. Suddenly the world would come rushing back, for in those minutes it took her to tell me this tale, the world had vanished around me and I could only see this romance of another time and place through Alice’s eyes.