Swearing off Cookies

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I couldn’t stop baking cookies over the holiday season. Cheated a bit. Used the Pillsbury rolled dough and the imprinted sugar ones. Still, I had to bake them. Gingerbread’s my guilty pleasure. Top them with some frosting and they’re good to go.

Something about gingerbread cookies and the holidays. People’s eyes light up when they ask, “Are those gingerbread?” It can be turned into houses or men or any shape your heart desires. We go the extra mile on this holiday when it comes to sugary treats.

Flavors of the season…cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread, pumpkin…aren’t just ingredients in favorite recipes. They hold memories of our Christmas past like an old friend.  They may fade into the background for the rest of the year but somehow you know they’ll be back.

To everyone who loves cookies…and Christmas, I hope you had enjoyable ones. May the new year find you in good health and be kind to you. Don’t worry about New Year Resolutions or losing weight. That’s what the holidays are for…to cheat a bit on your diet in the company of family and friends. Because that’s what it’s really about, right? Family and friends coming together.

Thankfully, my favorite store-bought dough comes out seasonally. So good-bye, cookies. You made the holidays special. See you next year.

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Santa Daddy

santa-claus-152343_640 My dad always loved to play Santa. Not the dressed up kind of Santa, but the person who passed out the presents and was in charge of Christmas. He started on Christmas Eve when all of my mom’s family got together at our house.

We would have lots of food and a huge bowl of shrimp. One year my cousin and my sister ate almost the whole bowl of shrimp themselves.  No one ever let them forget that.

Dad would always want to get to the presents and we wanted to drag out the gift giving to make it last longer. He was like an excited kid. He would announce who the present was for and who it was from.  Sometimes if we were not paying attention, he would put two fingers to his mouth and whistle. He couldn’t really whistle that way but loved doing it.

Christmas Day, Dad continued to be Santa. When we got older and slept in, he would wake us up. He couldn’t wait to get started. When I was twelve he bought me a stuffed Snoopy dog. Snoopy was my favorite PEANUTS character. I wish I still had that dog. I have bought several to replace it but they’re just not the same.  Another year, when I was in college, I saw a beautiful pink pant suit in an expensive catalog. I wanted that outfit so badly. Dad made sure I got it for Christmas.

My earliest memory of Dad making sure I got what I wanted for Christmas was when I was four years old. I wanted a train. Well, back in the day, little girls didn’t really get trains or supposedly even want them.  Things were more divided – girl toys, boy toys.  Girls were supposed to like dolls and dress up and pretend mommy things. I wanted a train. Santa daddy made sure I got it.

I loved that train and used it throughout my childhood in so many ways. Our dolls took it to school. Three laps around and they were delivered to the door. It was a runaway train that would go so fast it would come off the track. It was decorated with all the trimmings for Christmas. I still have that train.

Santa daddy was good to himself, too. One year he came home with a racetrack just for him. He was a kid at heart.

All of those times seem like another life – another time. My dad passed away at an early age. The family has scattered as most families do. I hope they still remember those special times when the earth seemed to stand still and the happiness of Christmas was in the air. And my dad was Santa daddy.

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These were the Good Old Days

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I may be dating myself, but I remember back to the day when stores were closed on Sundays. You couldn’t shop, go to the grocery store or grab a bottle of wine. I barely recall those times because very slowly convenient stores began to appear with better hours for people who forgot that loaf of bread or needed milk late at night. Soon retail stores began to announce Sunday hours and more followed suit.

Sound familiar? Black Thursday, oh I mean Friday, has evolved into a two day event. I never liked the name. It sounds ominous to me. I know it stands for the day stores are finally out of the “red” and making a profit but I just don’t like it. It’s not a day I look forward to.

I don’t fault the people who love the day. Everyone has different likes and dislikes. That’s what makes the world go round. I understand the thrill of getting a good bargain. I like shopping and a good sale, too. Just not the day after Thanksgiving.

For some it’s a jump start for holiday shopping. For others, it’s a bonding experience. Families get together and plan their strategies before heading out into the early morning. Last year, some started shopping Thanksgiving night.

This year a few stores announced they’ll be open Thanksgiving Day, some beginning at 6 a.m. I’m sure more will get on board next year. Soon they’ll be offering Thanksgiving dinners in Styrofoam containers so you can eat while you shop!

The debate has begun whether to boycott or not. Everyone has the right to choose. If shopping on Thanksgiving makes you happy, then go ahead. If staying as far away from the stores as you can is your choice, then do that. People protest that retail workers won’t have time with their families. True, but let’s not forget those who work in jobs where there’s never a holiday or a day off. Nurses, firefighters, police officers, to name a few, go quietly off to their jobs on Thanksgiving and other holidays.

Not too many years ago, I remember commercials focusing more and more on Black Friday. One showed a cooked turkey jumping off the Thanksgiving table running out the door to shop. My son found a store’s website that had wake-up calls. A famous celebrity, Darth Vader or crying baby would call to wake you in time to not miss the bargains. He sat and played them for after dinner entertainment. Who would have thought that one day we’d look back at that and remember that as the good old days?

Since there’s probably not much we can do to change the current situation, maybe we can at least show our appreciation to all those who do work on that day. Give the gift of patience and show your thanks. That’s what the day’s all about. And don’t forget to create some memories. These are the good old days. Happy Thanksgiving.