Awkward, but must face it. It’s a mixed marriage.
Nurture or nature? Environment or genetics? Pointless debate.
You’re either a Christmas Person, or you’re not.
Or the manic bright-eye caroling Martha Stewart crafty ones who fill every nook and corner with holiday decor…and leave it up all year round.
(The ones you know are headed for a crash and burn-out eventually…usually after the divorce. ..Simply too much pressure for the spouse.)
Just about those who enjoy all the jolly holly holidays.
December in schools used to be heavy with the smell of construction paper.
You could almost taste it in the hallways.
Picky kids would go through the paper pile searching for the red sheets that weren’t faded and the few dense inky black sheets that were left over from Halloween’s black cats and witches.
Cotton balls, glitter, and maybe, if lucky, some multi-colored stars that you had to lick and hope they would stick.
Classrooms were adorned with construction paper projects with red and green paper chains looped everywhere. (Chains that were finally stapled when the glue kept letting go.)
Then the last day of school before the holidays, it all came down, and kids rushed home with their decorations in their arms.
Travel down the neighborhood and it was easy to tell from the proudly displayed childish decorations on doors and windows which teacher each child had.
There was a lot of competition among teachers for the most creative, the most beautifully, the most failsafe projects.
Easy to see, too, which moms allowed more crafty holiday entertainment.
And provided scraps of lace, rickrack, sequins, and more!
Lucky kids got to whip up Ivory soap into snow to slather on their pictures.
There were moms willing to spend money on spray-on snow in a can to use with stencils on windows.
Such joy. Such clogged vacuum cleaners.
So quaint, the windows crowded with childish art.
Now everyone feels obligated to have a professional looking seasonal display.
Readily available yard inflatables make it so easy: Toss, plug in, and done.
(FYI: That entire flock of inflatables pictured in last week’s post are all sold. Gone! Flew the coop. Ceiling is as bare as NASA’s Space Shuttle hangars. Amazing.)
Even modest suburban neighborhoods have services that swoop in and install all the lights any elf could possibly imagine. And take them down again.
Realistically, that may save on trips to the ER.
Instant blimp-like yard decor is perfect for those who must keep up appearances, but are really, at heart, is Not-A-Christmas Person.
But that’s OK. Just so much time, so delegating is smart.
Leaves time for other more important stuff, right?
A Christmas Person may mumble, but resignedly rolls out the strings of lights down the hall each year, carefully tightening each bulb, and making sure there aren’t lights of the same color next to each other before winding all 57 light strings around the tree. And the lights alone take a day.
A Not-A-Christmas Person plugs in the pre-lit tree. Done!
A Christmas Person gathers little notes all year long to remember what each person really really desires. Something they never dreamed you even knew that they wanted! A Christmas Person quietly notes and makes purchases far in advance.
A Not-A-Christmas Person says, “Hey, Starbuck cards. Everyone loves Starbuck cards! Done.”
A Not-A-Christmas Person knows exactly where each store’s gift wrapping station is.
Very professional looking. So elegant. Impressive. “So much better than I could do.”
A Christmas Person carefully selects even which wrapping paper suits each person.
Traditional red velvet bow on dark green for the Williamsburg type.
Santa with thick fuzzy yarn ties for the kids. (Add a small Lego with the bow?)
Cute Christmas dogs or cats designs for the pet lover.
Chic silver for the sophisticated trendy ones.
And on each a special gift tag – with a cryptic hint of what’s inside. (Anticipation is best part of Christmas!)
It’s not their fault, the Not-A-Christmas Persons. Probably genetic.
My Dad was all Frosty the Snowman, Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” and simple country carols – sung really loud.
Always that last hour on Christmas Eve before the stores closed run to find the most ridiculous presents ever. Wind-up pigs playing drums. Closeout candy canes – from Halloween. And an apple and orange in each stocking as a nod to those “exotic fruit” treats given dirt poor farm kids of his generation.
It was all “it’s the thought that counts”. And fun. A month of twinkling eyes, secret plans, and Ho-Ho-Ho’s.
He made a great Santa at the grocery store a couple of times. Did Christmas really well.
My Mom was all budget, underwear is fine for Christmas, and you get one big gift with a couple of (very) smaller ones.
Each kids had exactly the same amount – to the penny – spent on them.
More formal orchestra performances and Handel’s Messiah. (No clapping for religious music.)
She always handed the gifts to me to wrap.
Insisted the tree, the outdoor lights, the wrapping paper – all of it – be packed up and stored away before Dec. 28th.
Must have had a recessive Christmas Person gene.
An environmental vs genetic thing? One of the great mysteries of mankind.
I do the best I can with those afflicted with sluggish holiday spirit.
Those with the deer-in-the-headlight look in the stores.
Those with Sugar Plum phobia.
Those who tremble at the thought of tinsel
The ones who are secretly relieved they don’t have to do the tree or put up lights allowing them to just sit there and take it all in.
Nudge them gently. Hoping to infect them. There’s always next year.
Year 1, Stage One: Here, you hang the door wreath and stockings.
Year 2, Stage Two: It’s only one box of ornaments. Anywhere you hang them is fine. Ok, just the red ones.
Year 3, A plateau. Don’t want to rush progress. How about another box of ornaments? They’re Santas and candy canes.
Hey, your turn to put the star on the top. Perfectly done! (And they’re hooked…)
It’s not just about religion. Much more than that.
There’s so many winter holidays, traditions, and celebrations. So many light ones.
Grew up in a predominately Jewish community. Can sing the Dreydl Song with the best of them.
Always envied the Swedish neighbor’s flowing white robes and crown of candles.
And the kids next door got an extra day of gifts on Three Kings Day.
Wooden Dutch shoes in place of stockings. Father Christmas on pony or goat? Whatever transportation gets the job done.
Add the seven days of messages with Kwanzaa.
Of course, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Las Posadas, and Tamaladas for making Christmas tamales.
Celebrations are something very human. Importance unfathomed.
Found in dark caves with sooty handprints and dancing ponies.
In oak groves. In cathedrals. In hearts.
A lingering primal need? An instinct, hope, or dream?
An ancient human recognition of survival and community.
Contentment with life also flickers in there.
Plenty of time to ponder.
Hot chocolate and a cookie or two?
Settle in by the fire? Holiday Inn is on.
Even if lacking the full Christmas Person gene, bet you can’t help wishing all be merry and bright after a warming up a bit.
(Yes the air conditioner is on, why do you ask? You know how it is: one person is always hot and one always cold…)
(Can you please flip that light string over that branch while you’re standing there? And just snug up that one light bulb there.
Oh, it may not be the brightest one on the string, but in concert with the all others it glows and shines brightly.)
Just right, cookie.
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.
Christmas pining: A matter of difference. (Step lightly when opposites attract? Fresh Pressed, 2012.)
Crushed by the Christmas Views. (Simply too much for him. Bad Santa!!!!)
Santy Claus wonders. (One final trip) (Christmas slips in. Awful is not always bad. 2013)
Duncan gave it to me.
It was not that it was too much for a three-legged dog.
He’s still a fierce competitor, although he can only participate in the fun meets until the Agility Dog Trial Organization reconsiders the rules.
I think other agility dogs got tired of being out-raced by Duncan and are afraid to have him return even if he does offers them a handicap.
You remember Duncan?
He’s the neighborhood agility dog who was mauled so badly by that brown pit.
That owner guy has been trying to walk his brown dog, but it’s real obvious – even to him – that the dog is getting more and more difficult to control outside his yard. It’s a leash battle and battle of wills. And that dog may be gaining an edge. So the struggling pair attempt to stay far far away from everyone. It doesn’t always go in the direction planned.
Maybe those owners should reward the treat of a walk to their smaller white pit who seems much kinder and better behaved….at least when not with the hyper-irritated brown one.
Maybe Roxie could teach him some manners.
She’s solid enough to put him in his place if he starts acting all macho. We still don’t tell new people she’s a pit as they might be afraid.
Hey, German, Roxie said to tell you she has a new pink collar with sparkles for the holidays.
We’ve been practicing our leash tango, so if you come to visit we can all square dance together.
We promise not to make you go where Kneeling Santa is visiting.
I know he makes you nervous, German.
Staff says he makes many people fret this time of year.
While he does suspiciously look a little stiff, maybe he’s just bored babysitting. That baby looks pretty happy. Probably because the soft lamb nuzzles his tootsies.
Nice the family lets the kid out to get fresh air and there’s an elderly gentleman willing to keep such a close eye on him.
Kneeling Santa’s not the only recent visitor.
Could these be the ghosts of Christmas Past that people talk about?
The rescue people trapped and took all the deer on the island away a few years ago.
But some say the hart always returns home.
These albino deer seem mesmerized by all the bright glitter. So much that they stand around all day waiting for the lights to go on at night.
RC Cat says she’s worried about them.
She thinks they are anemic and wired from being light hypnotized like moths.
If they don’t eat, she warns, they will simply disappear.
RC Cat, of course is always concerned about those less fortunate.
No, I did not quietly snort over that..You won’t tell her, will you?
Oh? What did Duncan give me? This great toy!
His Staff said it was an award at his last performance, but Duncan was totally uninterested in it.
I think Duncan was making a point. He wants the blue ribbons and medals he used to get or nothing.
But when offered I graciously accepted and proudly carried it home – without getting it in the dirt along the way and no stopping for sniffs. Carried it three whole blocks. Quickly, not wishing to stop to check the mail. Tightly clinched jaws do get tired. Hurried.
It’s the greatest toy ever.
Looks like the possum on the fence last week that I woke everyone up about.
And it’s lasted four days so far!
Well, the tail didn’t last long…
Staff insisted on hiding toy late at night. I was so exhausted from playing, yet it was addictive. My eyes kept closing screaming for sleep, but my mouth couldn’t stop!
It was like the fairy tale of the dancing Red Shoes! Sometimes having Staff around is good.
And on the second day I did figure out how to get the plastic crunching bottle out. Staff took toy in the other room and replaced the crinkling bottle with a new one, but I located the toy’s dropseat and quickly showed Staff my record time removal. Staff was less than enthusiastic and refused to put a new one in. Sigh, difficult to hone skills when Staff is not cooperative.
One of the two squeakers still works. I suspect the cat stole one.
This Hugglehounds thing with the accordion legs flings high in the air and is easy for me to play catch or retrieve the escaping toy all by myself.
Too bad you won’t ever get to experience the fun.
So now I have two favorite toys
to hide and not share with you when you come visit.
I know you live a sophisticated life, but I have a bestest friend that gives me the bestest toy ever!
Yawn. Sorry, dozed off there for a minute.
Jaws are so exhausted. And it’s raining again as a cold snap is coming for about 30 seconds – hardly long enough to run around and enjoy it.
Planning on warting Staff for a muddy field day tomorrow. Must rest up.
Oh, like you are too chic to slosh and roll in the mud anymore.
Oh, RC Cat is sauntering down the hall?
discourage that ask if she needs an escort back to her loft.
Or maybe she’s got a brilliant idea. It’s lunch time. Staff is whining about sore backs and muscles. Staff seems to jump faster when the RC yowls.
Was all that weekend hauling of mulch bags, trimming bushes, and putting potted plants into the ground before cold weather really necessary?
I helped, German! I pushed some of the pansies firmly into the flowerbed late in the afternoon.
Staff kept talking about chairing something. Looks like she was right…sitting there motionless in a chair today.
You think Staff really meant “sharing”? Now that’s a bit of a worry. New toy not in the sharing pile, sorry.
That’s all the tales to share from here today.
Yours in paws!
Molly, the Marvelous Malamute
Coincidence. Fate. Accident of birth.
All it takes. Not really.
Like a person must be present to hear the sound of a tree falling, without a person stopping at that specific critical no-turning-back point in time, it’s over.
It was late and he was driving home. There it was: a dead deer in the road
Car vs deer usually doesn’t go well for deer. Sadly he saw a little movement.
No animal should suffer.
The experienced vet tech got out of the truck and took a deep breath.
The pregnant doe’s twins were thrashing inside. A desperate C-section there on the road, his coat wrapping the two tiny fawns, and a race back to the animal emergency clinic.
The orphan fawns are thriving.
As with most babies, they need constant care, but they are getting it from experts. Now with wildlife rehabilitation’s hands, the pair will be sheltered until able to be released.
Hope their luck holds on as tightly as they did to life.
Right place. Right time. Right person.
Do some people have special super hero instincts and vision?
Is it genetic?
This one thought himself a playboy. Stayed too long at the party.
Almost a fatal mistake.
Should have left with the others and headed back to Florida for the winter.
For whatever reason, Sunday, a Chamber’s County sheriff’s deputy stopped.
Something barely moving in the water. (Please let it not be a body…).
There, huddled in the one small spot of sun on the water, as close as possible to Trinity Bay from NRG Cedar Bayou’s power station warm water outlet, was a West Indian manatee.
Emergency calls were placed to immediately to Texas game wardens, US Fish and Wildlife, Dolphin Rescue, Marine Stranding Network, and almost a dozen agencies and experts,
Including Florida Fish and Wildlife officials who identified the manatee by his markings and scars from propellers as one of theirs from Tampa Bay.
Florida’s Manatees often summer along the Texas coast, they but need waters at least 68 degrees to survive.
The bay waters have already cooled to the 50’s by earlier fronts. And another cold blast was on the way.
Time was running out.
Cold made him listless.
Not interested in food even though lettuce was gently tossed to him. His tail looked injured.
Security was placed to keep people away so as not to stress the water mammal further.
Plan “A” was to enlisted a collaborative rescue party in wet suits, surround him gently with a 200 foot net, lift him the 50 feet to a truck with a lift gate, and rush him to Marine Rescue in Galveston.
Manatees are pretty smart. They learn like dolphins and do demonstrate discrimination abilities and reasoning.
If he accepted help, there would be a chance, but he was underweight, cold, and getting weaker.
Manatees are endangered – especially this one.
Turned out to be “Plan B” on Tuesday.
It took three tries, but the gentle mammal was quietly lifted onto shore and maneuvered into a special stretcher.
He cooperated while vets reevaluated. At 10 feet in length and close to 1,000 pounds, he was too large for the Galveston tanks.
Vets determined he was in good enough condition to make the trip to San Antonio Sea World.
Sea World was tapped to rehabilitate a wayward manatee in 1995 that managed to swim up the Houston Ship Channel all the way to downtown Houston. She was quite the showgirl, as I recall. Loved attention and would not be shooed off and go back home.
For her own good, Hou/Pearl was eventually relocated to nice warm lodgings in San Antonio, and then flown back to Florida at a local merchant’s expense once she was well enough to travel. In 1999 Hou/Pearl was spotted with her calf along the Florida coast.
With a great deal of effort, the very pleasant Trinity Bay manatee was loaded into the padded truck and was soon taking the ride of his life.
(The area human docs may be treating a hernia or two shortly.)
Save the Manatee Club here.
Wonder if Trinity and Pearl/Hou will meet up later in Florida?
They have so much in common.
Could compare travel notes. Could create Trip Advisor reviews?
Right place. Right time. Bingo. Luck has it. A real mystery how things happen.
Thankful for those who find themselves in the right place, at the right time, and choose to do the right thing.
Coincidentally, every little thing matters.
Phil the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.
Isolated log cabin. Secluded home with view. Barely tolerable house with fantastic float plane garage. Outhouse. Heated outhouse.
Wake up! Wake up! Buying Alaska is on over and over and over again. The warm Italian coast show was over hours ago.
Hibernating much overrated.
Maybe the cat is right. If you’d get up, you’d not have cold.
Molly here. Staff is a lump on the couch.
The Alaskan snow pack and tissue drift here: alike, but different: avalanches possible.
No doubt a direct result of the cat bashing Staff on the head repeatedly demanding dinner.
Has nothing to do with my leap onto the couch to warm Staff who has cold.
The cat. Blame the cat. Molly is here to help.
What? Remove the blanket corner from my mouth? A little damp. The cat did it. Oh, it does appear to be hanging out of my mouth. After an early life on the streets, it’s normal to try and hold on to what you have. Besides Staff discourages the mouthing and mauling of sleeves even out of affection.
Odd Staff has been sprawled on the couch all day.
Not much available space, so let me just drape a leg or two over there, and a chin here…so I can see if – yes, the eyes do open.
Warmer now? Cold gone? Walkie?
Well, it appears Staff is moaning something about needing up.
Yes. I can help do that! Dogs are known for their happy tales!
Take the tale of an old Beagle in rural Texas.
Having only recently found a forever home, Buddy was not going to risk losing his Person. How could he be sure the frantic men in the Big Red Moving Box were OK? So he leaped onto the rear running board and clung on for 20 miles as the ambulance raced towards the hospital until another driver flagged them down. Whew.
Note to Staff: Buddy gets to honk the horn.
I could honk the horn, too, but Staff won’t let me behind the wheel.
Have you noticed how good I have gotten at turning on the overhead lights?
I think you need to settle back down – that honking you are making is pretty weak. Never be good enough for the Moving Box. Better practice my paw work just in case? No? OK.
Ready for another up?
Some puppies just got the move-in date a little mixed up. Almost a disaster.
Some of us know how difficult life on the street is especially in frigid weather. So when the pack heard there was a shelter opening up, they ran right over. Although the accommodations weren’t quite finished, they young pups decided best to huddle inside anyway. Maybe the security guard winked and just let them be. Despite an unexpected blaze, the entire pack was rescued by firemen, placed in the fire truck, and are now safe and snug until forever homes can be found for them.
Something nudged the dogs to that place. Now all that’s needed for a happy tail ending is for their luck to hold and forever arms to hold them. Their temporary lodgings are here.
Hopefully the homeless men and women this shelter was being built for will also find safety and a warm happy life. It is the season of good will towards man and beast.
Warming up? Still got cold?
OK. How about shelter dogs nobody wanted rescuing others?
Now that’s worth a wiggle. A real treat. Dogs rock.
What? Taking up all the room? Well, dog rocking does tend to move objects over.
I have seemed to have sunken into a horizontal position along the couch back.
Pretty warmish here now. Cold gone?
Time to fix dinner? Great. Nothing like the oven to chase off a chill.
What? Head cold? Why didn’t you say so? I thought only the blanket-covered parts had cold.
That darn cat. She’s in charge of sitting on heads.
Always says she’s on top of things. (Snort.)
At least change the TV channel on the way to the kitchen. Snow blind by now.
Either The Amazing Race or an NFL game to get the blood and paws moving!
Or CSI: Miami. Much less cold there than Alaska.
Nothing like a house warming, right?
Smiles à la carte.
Yours in paws,
Molly, the Marvelous Malamute
Go ahead with your square-eyed glassy glare.
Your lines of power.
Cut off at the knees, you think I am gone.
Yet, clearly something of me remains.
Essence not scrubbed.
No matter how hard the scullery-made tries.
No matter the attempts by The Machine.
Some stains never fade. Some meanings linger.
There to be seen
As a warning.
As a promise.
Do as you will, but nothing gold can stay. Including purse loads tossed to influence: fodder for sheep.
Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. (Robert Frost)
Only a shadow?
If you wish.
But still there. No matter.
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.
No one likes holiday air travelers. Not being Road Warriors, they don’t know the routines.
Their too many carry-ons are too big. Their shoes take forever to get off. They don’t think the security regulations apply to them (Lady. No one cares how much you paid for that bottle of perfume. It ain’t gonna fly.)
Holiday air travel isn’t for amateurs. Deflates energy quickly.
Expert flyers whoosh past rough landings at staging areas and command the chilly skies with ease.
Lift off for them is all business.
But now it’s clear the flight deck for holiday spirits and “good will towards man”.
(I heard that choking sound and snorting.)
They are already showing up: the odd, the pretty plastic people, the ones full of hot air.
So get ready to duck. Literally. Noun and verb.
In full-blown Christmas style, they are bouncing into place.
Sky high with enthusiasm.
Any and all can cause a flap or two, but it’s the season, so resign and redesign yourself for the unmanageable, unpredictable holiday frenzy.
Crowded air space and cities’ blinding, blaring Christmas displays simply too much?
Take the advice of the feathered flocks and fly far far away.
Or even better, rest in your own little nest.
Flights of fancy,
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.
This is one of the local flocks of egrets. There must have been 40 of them totally concentrating on breakfast. Ignored a woman jogging right past them. Oblivious to a bike rider cruising along the other side of them. Molly was enthralled and we sat watching them for a long time. Finally some gossipy bird noticed the dog and decided they should all go over to the field down the road. Molly was crushed over some whispered “eau de dog” bird-brained comment.