Anticipation

Thin Mints. Once a year.

Are Girl Scout cookies really better than anything else out there, or do we savor them more because of the short window of time in which they’re available? I have friends who buy cases of them and put the extras in the freezer. Wouldn’t do me much good. No matter how many I buy, they’d be gone within a month.

bigstock-red-retro-tv-set-7338444 [Converted]Used to be you could only watch certain movies once a year, perhaps at the holidays. Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music, for example. Certainly The Wizard of Oz. Annually, that wicked witch had me running to hide underneath the bathroom sink. But it was only once a year, and as scared as I might get, it was an event.

I don’t know how often I’ve seen that the Harry Potter movies are playing on cable television. I’ve never watched any of them, and perhaps part of that reason is I know I easily can watch next week, next month or, worst case scenario, three months from now.

Of course there’s always the DVR to record those movies you think you might want to watch at some point, or the DVD player if you choose to buy them (or in my case, check them out at the library).

There’s something to be said for the specialness of specials. I miss those annual events, like the made-for-TV movie of Cinderella. Not the Disney film, but the one starring a very young Lesley Ann Warren. They remade it several years ago, and it was a decent remake, but not as special as the one you had to wait for annually.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the fact that if I have a favorite movie on DVD I can watch it when I want, or if there’s nothing on TV I want to see I can pull out The Mary Tyler Moore Show. 

Television has changed, and many, if not most, of those changes are good. Still, I remember when “Hallmark made-for-TV movie” meant an Emmy-worthy program. Those Hallmark Hall of Fame films were good, really good. There was a sense of anticipation when you saw them advertised, because you knew it would be a quality show. You don’t see that anymore, at least not on Hallmark.

When we usher in the new, we end up tossing out both the good and bad about the old. Something to consider when we jump on the latest technology simply because it’s the latest technology.

Thank goodness the Girl Scouts are smart enough to build up a demand for their products.


Image Credits: Retro TV Set © Bigstockphoto.com; Calendar and Clock © Stillfx–stock.adobe.com

 

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Treasure from the Past

Growing up, my mom decorated for the holidays. A lot of the ornaments and decorations she made herself, and I still have some today.

Of course Christmas was the real winner, but that didn’t mean Thanksgiving got left out. We had cornucopias, gourds, turkey-shaped salt & pepper shakers, and of course, the pilgrim candles.

thanksgiving-candle
The Little Pilgrim Girl candle…I’m betting some of my readers have, or had, one just like it.

Over the years I claimed the little girl pilgrim as mine. I suppose that would have meant the little boy was my brother’s, and the coordinating turkey candle may have been my sister’s. She probably wouldn’t have liked that, but she made it pretty clear she didn’t care for the pilgrim candles to start with. A born artist, she had far more appreciation for the cornucopia and the gourds, so decorative all on their own.

At some point, I’m guessing when my parents divorced and my mom threw out many of the things that reminded her of her life with my father, the pilgrim candles disappeared. I was crushed. Each year I would hope they’d miraculously pop up, but they never did. I believe Mom held onto the turkey salt & pepper shakers for a good long time, however, as well as some of the serving trays.

Other traditions also continued. Many of you Americans know the same ones: the green bean casserole, celery smeared with cream cheese and topped with paprika, and if we were really lucky, twice-baked potatoes.  And the pies…make mine pecan. Or apple. Or a “small” slice of both, and lots of real whipped cream. When my mom re-married, she and my step-dad took on gourmet cooking (well, she’d always been a skilled cook) and a few new delicacies made it to the table.

My family has the same dysfunctions any family has, and like everyone else, they are showcased at Thanksgiving. My grandfather’s bigotry, the endless questions and speculations about a sibling’s or cousin’s absence, the family gossip, distorted and one-sided as all such talk is likely to be. My tendency was to tolerate it for as long as I could, then retreat to my bedroom until my presence was requested. I can’t say I looked forward to the holiday, but I don’t recall dreading it either.

paco-bear
That’s the late great Paco sitting on the three-drawer dresser I got for helping Mark with his mom’s estate.

I continued to miss my little Pilgrim girl. Why, I’m not certain, but I did. Then one spring, my then boyfriend’s mother died. I helped him sort through all of her things and prepare them for the estate sale. While he and his brother could have kept anything they wanted before the estate sale lady took over, one of the rules of the sale was once something is priced, it is to be sold at that price. No more family members claiming what they believe rightfully belongs to them. And, family couldn’t buy anything before the sale started.

We had plenty of time to peruse her belongings before the estate sale team took control, and thankfully we were careful. We found stock certificates, cash that had been gifts in birthday and Christmas cards, and a few valuables we knew should stay in the family. For my efforts, my boyfriend gave me a three-door dresser I still treasure today.

But neither of us saw the little Pilgrim girl until the day before the sale. Marked at only 25 cents, I told Mark that despite our plans to stay away, I would be at the door promptly when the sale opened and I would make a bee-line for that candle. The estate sale lady relented and allowed me to buy the little trinket that night. I suspect she didn’t want us there the next day. It was generally considered advisable not to be nearby.

Today, even though she doesn’t sit up straight, she is a treasured part of my Thanksgiving celebration. I’m told she’s a bit of a collectible, just a small bit, but I wouldn’t let her go for any price. She helps make Thanksgiving worth celebrating.


Candle

you’re my hero, Charlie Brown

In my life, Snoopy, Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the gang never, ever went away.

snoopy nbg
Give me anything Peanuts — a gift that’s sure to be appreciated!

I’ve literally been a fan my entire life. My mom tells me my favorite toy when I was six months old was a Lucy doll. That vain and loud-mouthed girl rarely failed to make me laugh, and still gets me through the blues today.

Throughout my growing up years, I frequently spent my precious few dollars on the latest Peanuts book. Early on I giggled at Lucy, sitting on Schroeder’s front steps, saying, “It’s amazing how stupid you can be when you’re in love.”

Today, I have a t-shirt with that very picture. More than once I’ve worn it while shopping at Walmart and some poor young checkout girl sighs and says, “that’s so true.” Some things will never change.

Hence the beauty of Charles Schulz’ wonderful characters. They are universal and timeless. So many of the comic strips aren’t laugh-out-loud funny, and yet, they are, because they hit at the heart of who we are, our dreams and vulnerabilities, our best and worst selves, all wrapped up in the innocence of a group of kids from a past era.

A friend of mine can’t bear to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” because of the rejection, but I love it for Linus’ simple reading from the Gospel of Luke and the children joining together in the end to celebrate Charlie Brown’s poor little tree.

Somehow Charlie Brown never was a truly sad character to me. He had Linus, Sally and Peppermint Patty, among others, and Snoopy needed him, not just for the food, but for the love.

I was wearing one of my favorite Peanuts’ t-shirts while shopping not long ago, and the store manager told me he’d been a fan all of his life, too. In fact, when he was a child, he watched the Charlie Brown Valentine’s Day special and felt so sorry for Charlie Brown, he sent him a valentine. In return, Charles Schulz sent him an original hand-drawn picture of Snoopy.

Wow. He still has it, and I told to keep it, it’s worth something. You couldn’t pay me enough for something like that, I’d treasure it all my days.

I treasure everything Peanuts I own, as small as my collection has become. I cherish that band of earnest characters plowing their way through the world and making it all work.

I’m glad I live in a world where the Peanuts gang just keeps hanging out.

And for those of you wondering about the new movie, here’s a review by a trusted fellow blogger & Peanuts fan:

The Peanuts Movie — Good Grief, You’re in 3-D Charlie Brown — A Review

 

my song

In my baby book, my mother recorded that from the time I could stand in my crib, I would dance and sway to ballads, and there is no better ballad than “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin.

This song was climbing the charts the day I was born, and I like to think it was the first song I ever heard played on the radio. We’ll never know, so it might as well be so.
Crashing Waves at Sunset
Over the years, it has never failed to charm and soothe me. Yes, it’s romantic, but that wasn’t its first appeal for me. Or perhaps it was, but in a different sense.

As a child, my family would sometimes spend an afternoon at the beaches in Monterey, CA. These are beautiful, scenic waterfronts, the ones with the otters, and I’d look out in awe of the vastness of the ocean. To me, it held wonders known and unknown, for how could we be certain what lay at the bottom of the sea?

When I heard my song, I pictured another imaginative soul, wearing clothing from a bygone era, also standing on the shore in wonder.

Today when it plays I close my eyes and dream of dancing with the ideal partner to this music. Others on the dance floor stop and clear the floor as we move in perfection. It’s truly a dream, for I am not a dancer, and it’s a rare man who could match my vision.

Whether or not it was the first song I heard played on the radio, it no doubt was one I heard often in my earliest days of life. I hope it’s one I continue to hear all my days, and it never loses its charm for me.

Image Credit © wolterke — fotolia.com 

devious secrets of my childhood

Emergency vehicle sirens terrified my brother, two years my junior, throughout his childhood.

He’d run crying and hide in a closet, refusing the comfort offered by my confused mother. For years both suffered his pain in their own way.

All the while the guilty culprits, those who prompted and perhaps cultivated this fear, went on with their lives and for a good long time kind of police carforgot what they’d done.

You guessed it – I was one of the guilty. My sister, the middle child, was the other. We were mean at the age of four and five, although our round faces and wide eyes belied that fact. And hey, Santa ALWAYS showed up. So just how bad were we?

Well, you be the judge: It’s a sunny day. The three of us are playing in our yard with a few friends. A siren is heard in the distance, perhaps a fire truck, perhaps a squad car.

the four of us and dad taking the picture
Mom and the three of us, with Dad taking the picture.

We amble over to our brother, age three. “Thommmmm,” we whisper. “They’re coming to get you. Those sirens? They’re going to take you away. We’ll never see you again.” Who knows how many times this happened, why we started or why we finally stopped.

As I write this, I’m mortified. That was really, really mean. After a short time, my brother forgot our threats, but clung to the fear,  and never could tell our mom why he was afraid. Eventually (in our early twenties) we confessed to him what we’d done. I think he forgave us. By that time, there was likely a heap of other things to make him angrier.

My mom, however, not knowing the truth, held on to the pain of not being able to help her son with his greatest fear. We had no idea how difficult that had been for her, and it was another twenty years after our initial confession before she found out the truth. I’m not sure what she thought about it, and I have no desire to bring it up, not being particularly proud of it.

Surprisingly, I grew up to be nice to a fault. So parents, never fear, you’re not necessarily raising sociopaths. I don’t know how you do it, the constant pressure to bring your kids up right, and the pain when you think you’ve failed in one way or the other. There are always those facts we don’t have, and maybe never will have, so don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, your kids will do that for you.

And who knows just how much of it in reality is their fault anyway.


In case you’re wondering about my relationship with my brother today, it all worked out. Here’s a post I wrote about it a few months ago: sibling revelry
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my best gifts given, part one

In fourth grade our student teacher, Miss Trillman, got married mid-semester.

As a wedding gift from the class, our regular teacher gave us each a 3×5 index card and instructed us to print our favorite recipe on it. It didn’t matter what it was, as long as it was our favorite. As I recall, every one of my fellow classmates gave Miss T the most complex recipe their mom was able to prepare. The cards were carefully printed, and no doubt just as carefully chosen, by their mothers. I took the idea to heart and instead got my mom to calculate the ingredients for my absolute favorite meal of all time, bologna & cheeses.

These aren’t simply bologna & cheese sandwiches, sliced and placed on bread. They are made from polish sausage, cheddar cheese, onions, ketchup and probably one or two other things I don’t remember, all put through the meat grinder and turned into a gooey delight. When Mom suggested B&Cs for dinner, the whole family went shopping with her, just to make sure she didn’t forget any of the ingredients. Each of us had one thing we picked out and brought back to the shopping cart, making the trip a quick one. Heaven forbid Mom should have too much other shopping to do. Our patience was limited.

Once blended, the mixture was then spread on lightly toasted bread (both sides) and broiled until it bubbled a little and the edges and part of the top turn just a little black. It takes a little practice to know just exactly how thick to spread it — too thin and it’s dry, too thick and it’s, well, too thick. But this is the best sandwich ever for kids and adults alike. It takes ordinary ingredients and turns them into something with a sharp taste, better than spaghetti or hamburgers.

If you’re a ten-year-old girl and have just an average appetite, you eat two. If you’re ravenous, you eat three and maybe regret it a little, because it’s too much in the end. The best part is, no matter how hungry the rest of my family was, the recipe made enough for plenty of leftovers, and bologna & cheese holds up well for a couple of days. So two more days of great lunches to look forward to, and you’re still not tired of them.

Miss Trillman, who became Mrs. Peck (distant relative to the actor Gregory Peck), told the class my recipe was her & her husband’s favorite. They all protested because their recipes were fancier and therefore, better, but she told them mine was best because it was perfect everyday food and besides, her husband was a big man with a big appetite and these sandwiches easily filled him up. Another bonus, he liked preparing them, and after a long day with 30 fourth-graders, she didn’t always feel like cooking. We groaned at that comment, but frankly, I’d never doubted my choice would win out over the others.

Image Credit: © Graphic Stock