Skip to content
December 11, 2012 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Christmas pining: a matter of difference

It was a mixed marriage.

Those did happen.

I Love Lucy. Nov 14, 1955 episode. (US public domain. Published without copyright notice:(1923-1977) /

Not two of a kind. (Image: “I Love Lucy”, 11/14/1955. US public domain: published without copyright during 1923-1977.

The tall and short of it.

She said violin

He called fiddle.

He preferring plays by Shakespeare.

She adoring Robert Burns poetry.

She a competitive bridge player reading books by experts for plans.

He bluffing each bridge hand with a poker face

Publicity photo of "The Munsters" Aug.28,1964. CBS (US public domain. No copyright markings(1923-1977), for media/

(Image: “The Munsters” Episode 8/28/1964. CBS publicity photo for media. No copyright. markings, 1923-1977.

It’s the opposites attract thing.

She dipped and flowed through ballroom dancing.

He allemande left through dance squares.

Together, they choreographed life.

before 1910. Becker,Friar Laurence's Cell, photo by Goupil( public domain. expired copyright, Eu. artist life+70yrs)

“Tis but thy name that is my enemy…”. Shakespeare. Act II si.ii from Romeo and Juliet. (Image: Friar Laurence’s Cell. Becker before 1910. Photo by Goupil. US public domain. expired copyright, Eu: artist life+70yrs./

Until Christmas

She was all traditional: deep Williamsburg green with red velvet bows, white candles, and holly branches. Classic. elegant.

He was multicolored stings of lights on the house, wide red ribbon wrapped on porch posts like candy canes – with a lighted Santa’s head floating disemboweled – or strangled  – by extension chords.

All joy.

She was practical and fair (to the penny) about giving presents so as “not to show favorites”.

One big one and stocking ones was enough.(Don’t be greedy.)

And “presents should always be something you really wanted but wouldn’t buy for yourself.”

He always placed an apple and an orange in each stocking.

As a farm kid, those were luxury items since they weren’t grown on the farm.

Important you remember where you came from – and what’s important.

And NEVER socks or underwear as Christmas presents. EVER. (more childhood memories?)

Pacing through life differently, but pulling together.

One thing held in agreement: a pine tree is not a Christmas tree.

(Nor are silver aluminum ones.)

We grew pines: sappy, sticky, bushy.

It would be a Douglas fir:

Totally different smell.

Totally different soft short needles.

Totally special: from a different state.

With branches spaced apart, so hanging ornament could swing and be seen.

But the decorating styles.

She carefully placed the heavy silver icicles on the tree one by one while humming traditional carols.

He danced with the kids and flung globs of icicles at the tree: whole handfuls. All wildly shrieking, “Ho, ho, ho!”

Despite the cultural norm, we never went to church on Christmas.

“Leave room for all those who only go then.”

God knows who we are.

We’d pack into the car and drive to the country.

Small frame house with fireplace and wood stove for heat.

Water drawn by bucket from the well.

And a long way to walk in the cold if you needed the bathroom.

(There was a chamber pot under the kids’ beds at night, but no. Everyone would know.)

After the car was unpacked and fires started, we’d go sit outside.

In the cold,

On concrete steps or old rough benches.

Quintuplet Cluster by NASA/Don Figer/STSci (Public domain: NASA Hubble./

Quintuplet Cluster by NASA/Don Figer/STSci (Public domain: NASA Hubble./

He’d look up and say, “Look at all the stars. Couldn’t be a finer church than this. This is the way it was back then.”

And we’d sing a carol or two.

Loudly and joyfully.

No neighbors near and the animals didn’t mind.

Now, I pace preparations so it’s calm just before.

Select the perfect apple and orange for each stocking.

Carefully drape the mylar icicles one by one on the tree.

And then go outside late Christmas night.

The cool air.

The smell of pines.

The stars as the roof of the grandest cathedral.

NGC 288 HST. Hubble telescope sees stars (ESA/Hubble and NASA. Public domain/

NGC 288 HST. Hubble telescope sees stars (ESA/Hubble and NASA. Public domain/

Silent Night.

Just right.


Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge


  1. katecrimmins / Dec 11 2012 9:21 pm

    Sounds like the perfect Christmas.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2012 2:47 pm

      Those were very peaceful – really unplugged from the frenzy. Not such a bad thing. Glad you sung out a holiday note


  2. The Hook / Dec 11 2012 9:47 pm

    Sounds perfect. Just like your writing style.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2012 2:50 pm

      As teenagers, my cousins and I thought it pretty ho-ho-horrible. See it differently now. Thanks for ringing the Christmas bells in the comment section


  3. RAB / Dec 11 2012 9:50 pm

    Lovely. Evocative. Poignant. May it be blessed for you.


  4. robstroud / Dec 11 2012 10:02 pm

    Just yesterday I was just looking at some of the Douglas Fir trees on our property that would be perfect for Christmas. But I couldn’t bring myself to cut one down… knowing how majestic it’s destined to be. Still, I’ll look for some that are growing too closely together for their own wellbeing and harvest one. Merry Christmas!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2012 3:39 pm

      It’s hard to cut down trees. We justified the fir because it was already cut and would have grown and gone to waste if we didn’t buy it. (or so we always said). Tree groups do have to be thinned to grow well. Hope you find just the right one – it sounds like a great tradition. Thanks for riding the sleigh over to chat


  5. PiedType / Dec 11 2012 11:04 pm

    Sounds like all my best Christmases (with the exception of the house in the country). Maybe because we’re from the same part of the country? Add some nuts to fill out the stocking toes where the apples and oranges won’t fit.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2012 12:00 am

      I debated whether to include the nuts: pecans, walnuts- sometimes wrapped in aluminum foil – stuff literally did roll out of the stockings. Thanks for adding the finishing touch


  6. jmmcdowell / Dec 12 2012 12:28 am

    “Deep Williamsburg green with red velvet bows, white candles, and holly branches” sounds perfect to me. But I also share with a house with a husband who likes some of the “jollier” decorations, too. Somehow, the decorations always work well together. 😉 Lovely post for the season!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2012 3:45 pm

      We lived in Williamsburg when I was in 5th grade – had passes for the entire town – it was heaven for kids. And we did get to watch and talk to archeologists doing excavations – as interesting as if it had been in Egypt.
      Maybe it’s the basic colors that are pretty uniform in most Christmas decorations that allow multiple styles to co-exist? Somehow a mix works.
      Hope you are having a jolly holiday season. Thanks for decorating the comment section with a comment


  7. JackieP / Dec 12 2012 12:33 am

    Gives one the holiday spirit. 🙂


  8. maddie22201 / Dec 12 2012 12:38 am

    Certainly does put one in the spirit. My mother still puts an apple and an orange in my stocking.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2012 4:23 pm

      Didn’t people use fruits and nuts in decorations during earlier times? Victorian? (Hmmmm.Need to check that)
      Thanks for gifting the comment section with a comment! Merry Christmas


      • maddie22201 / Dec 13 2012 3:38 pm

        You are very welcome. Merry Christmas to you as well.
        They did use all sorts of natural elements brought in to decorate. Of course they didn’t have the luxury of brightly colored plastics that give off that sterilized chemical smell.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2012 4:27 pm

          and those didn’t cause a rash…oh, except maybe the poison ivy…but anything red is appropriately seasonal, right? Well, maybe not the fires from the candles, but anyway, progress is progress, sort of. Thanks for adding the merry!


  9. Kourtney Heintz / Dec 12 2012 1:57 am

    Aw hope the holidays are a lovely blending of family. 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2012 4:25 pm

      (and the Adams family does such lovely Christmas tangos – really wanted a pix of that Morticia and Gomez!) Thanks for decorating the comments section


  10. littlesundog / Dec 12 2012 3:18 am

    Aw, this brought back a few good childhood memories… after the Christmas program we always had to perform in at the parochial school my siblings and I attended, the teachers would hand out brown paper bags with oranges, apples, and all sorts of nuts inside. As a kid I thought that was a weird thing to give a kid… I never realized it was from old tradition until I was much older. I liked this post… it made me smile and laugh.


  11. EllaDee / Dec 12 2012 4:59 am

    I laughed and smiled all the way through reading this… this type of negotiating such disparities adds a sparkle to the festive season. They are such wonderful memories. I agree, never socks or underwear
    as a gift but how wonderful was the world when an apple and an orange was a treasured gift, rather than a Nintendo DS….
    The G.O. & I have a basic difference when it comes to Christmas decor… he likes me to put up & decorate the tree we found under the house years ago (last year we were travelling on Christmas Day so didn’t put it up – walking even late into the house was sad & empty) He invokes the him outside, her inside rule… and a few days later, I pack it up, which I currently indulge as we are stretched for time but I won’t forever, I prefer a more communal approach.
    It’s the traditions, whatever they are, that make Christmas. We either have a light seafood dinner on Christmas Eve and a glass of sparkling for me… or go to the pub and indulge in rather too much Christmas cheer with the neighbours.
    We like numerous small wrapped gifts under the tree rather than single big expensive gifts. We go to church on Christmas morning, even though it’s not our familial denomination, but because it’s a lovely old timber church 1 house up from us, and a small community tradition. Our Christmas lunch menu is much the same each year, and the G.O. must have stuffing. Afterwards we must have a nap 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2012 4:37 pm

      The past few years we traveled, too – and the house did seem a little bare – even with one tiny lighted tree placed within easy eyesight. When it was obvious this was the location this year, I had envisioned even the train around the giant tree….but Molly’s creative play has placed limits…and I’m OK with that (probably grateful). We will be having shrimp for Christmas – along with the turkey and stuffing…it looks like eating will be a day long event with time schedules…we’ll either walk along the beach or the marina – to wear out the dog. Nothing wrong with adding new traditions as things roll along – and it’s all supposed to be fun, so as soon as the tree gets done, I’ll relax.
      Glad you found some holiday giggles. Thanks for sparkling over here


      • EllaDee / Dec 12 2012 7:07 pm

        Weather & motivation levels pendig, we may go into town later in the day for a Christmas Day walk on the beach. A train around the tree… I like that 🙂


  12. roughseasinthemed / Dec 12 2012 5:42 am

    Interesting post. A bit like ED, the men in my family have never had anything to do with how Christmas is celebrated. Def women’s work. Stockings in my day were satsumas or clementines, walnuts, and new coins. Plus a few small presents. And a hugetree which we bought and decorated the Saturday before Christmas while listening to Christmas Carols on the record player. I liked it. Low key and quiet.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2012 4:43 pm

      Sounds like my kind of Christmas. (We’ve got clementines sitting in the kitchen now) At this point, we’re avoiding the parking lots and shopping – the frenzy is too much. Besides much more fun outside – it’s cool and bright today – Cardinal pair singing like crazy near the bird feeder.We’ve been seeing huge numbers of birds flying over – and dropping into the wetlands at dusk. Another front on the way, and hope they all get on to their winter grounds ahead of the weather. Thanks for stopping by to hang a comment ornament here


  13. shoreacres / Dec 12 2012 1:44 pm

    I just realized I don’t remember any outdoor strings of lights during my growing up years. There was a lighted wreath, and electric candles in every single window, and a huge tree centered in the front window. It’s almost as though the idea was that what was happening inside was more important than…hmmm….you may have just witnessed the birth of a blog post. 😉

    I was feeling a little – whatever – and wasn’t sure I’d go to the trouble of putting up the tree this year. But now it’s out in its accustomed place, and I’ll get it decorated. I still have some of the metal icicles from my childhood trees. We put them on and took them off one at a time, wrapped them carefully and used them from year to year to decade to decade… That’s half a century of use, at least. Speaking of thrift….


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2012 4:50 pm

      Things have changed a lot…so waiting for that post (hmmm…one simmering here about ivory snow flakes whipped into snow…did you do that? It was quite the fancy decorating trend for a bit)
      My tree isn’t up yet (despite the attempt during the game) You know about the old icicles! I’m not sure those got saved from parents’ house. We were so careful with them for years!
      Thanks for hanging that Christmas memory here!


  14. aFrankAngle / Dec 12 2012 2:39 pm

    The grand cathedral from Hubble. Excellent!


  15. writingfeemail / Dec 12 2012 9:37 pm

    My parents always put apples and oranges in our stocking along with the ‘goodies’. I think they were more ‘special’ in their day. Such nice memories. And I love the star filled sky. Sometimes Christmas is best when quietly observed.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2012 2:36 am

      I’m beginning to think (from all the comments) we all take fresh fruits for granted these days and forget these were luxuries as people in the past mostly ate what was grown locally. Sometimes you have to look for Christmas…or stop and be still long enough to see it? Hope you have a merry lead-up to Christmas (and the warmth of the season lasts a long time). Thanks for pawsing to chat


  16. arpoasd71 / Dec 13 2012 5:08 pm

    Outstanding! I like it!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2012 5:50 pm

      Living in BC, you are sure to see lots of starry nights. Thanks for your kind words and for stopping to decorate with a comment


  17. ariacoleasher / Dec 13 2012 5:33 pm

    This sounds like a lovely way to spend the holidays.

    I enjoyed “Despite the cultural norm, we never went to church on Christmas.

    “Leave room for all those who only go then.”

    God knows who we are.” This sounds like something my grandfather would say.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2012 5:53 pm

      Oh, as we grew older, how we did moan and whine about missing all the holiday sales. Now, an escape to the country sounds like a more peaceful way to spend the holiday. Thanks for jingling along.


  18. uglynovel / Dec 13 2012 5:39 pm

    I like this blog, and this post to, Happy you got freshly pressed 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2012 5:55 pm

      Cheered you stopped the sleigh long enough to chat – Wait. what? Fresh Pressed? Hmmm, that’s would be quite a Christmas surprise! Thanks for the heads up. Will have to check that out. Thanks again for adding to the holiday cheer


  19. jmmcdowell / Dec 13 2012 6:01 pm

    You didn’t get an email that you were FP’d?! Wow, get ready for some cramped fingers from replying! 🙂 Congratulations! It’s a great post from a great blogger, and you totally deserve the honor! 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2012 6:13 pm

      Really a surprise. Santa came early here. Thanks for all your encouragement and helping to decorate the comments section. (darn, now how ever will I get that favorite author’s outfit done by Sat. for the party?) Thanks again for all the merry cheers


  20. Shannon / Dec 13 2012 6:49 pm

    I almost cried reading this post, it was so lovely and evocative of the perfect Christmas feeling of family and serenity and wonder. Or maybe I’m just having one of those days… 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2012 10:47 pm

      Glad something tickled your memories. Thanks for the kind words and for joining the merry chorus today


  21. ohshecooks / Dec 13 2012 7:17 pm

    Just lovely. I am the product of opposites, too, and so I like to get my hair done, put on a fancy dress, and listen to Handel’s Messiah while wildly shrieking Ho, ho, ho! throwing gobs of tinsel on the tree and draping everything in hot pink garland.

    Have a wonderful Christmas!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2012 10:48 pm

      Anyone who wildly shrieks at Christmas and uses hot pink garland is totally appreciated here! Thanks for tossing a little tinsel this way


  22. Deanna / Dec 13 2012 7:56 pm

    If I press my ear to my windowpane on the west coast, I think I can hear the Christmas harmony you are humming. So glad you found this united voice.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2012 10:56 pm

      Now that a big harmony. Glad you heard the tune. Thanks for tossing a comment on to decorate this space


  23. jubilare / Dec 13 2012 8:41 pm

    Hahahaha! Congratulations, philosophermouse!
    And hubble pictures too! Wonderful.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2012 12:05 am

      Fans of Hubble welcomed – no better way to see the stars! Thanks for the merriment and for jingling along


  24. susielindau / Dec 13 2012 8:43 pm

    Phil! And all this time I have been calling you Mouse!
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! What a lovely piece. I loved reading about your traditions and the FP was well deserved!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2012 12:10 am

      Mouse is fine, friend. (Mousse, however, is fattening and not any mountains here to hike and work it off.) Always appreciate your kind words. Thanks for decorating the comment section today!


  25. Julia Garrison's blog / Dec 13 2012 9:20 pm

    Thank you for sharing this with us. This is great to read and I really enjoyed it.


  26. jannatwrites / Dec 14 2012 3:34 am

    I like how the different decorating styles come together. (I had to laugh at the tinsel application because as kids, we were too impatient to hang it delicately. No tinsel got hung after we got a cat…not sure why cats choose to eat it anyway, even after they find it makes them sick!)

    We never went to church on Easter or Christmas for the exact same reason you gave…that was my grandma’s thing.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2012 12:20 pm

      Oh, the tinsel. Cats seem to think it’s spaghetti. Thanks for tossing a glittery comment this way.


  27. text me, love mom / Dec 14 2012 7:42 am

    Christmas with our big family now involves piles of gifts and so much glitter – but I MUST, put that small sweet orange in the toe of each stocking because that was the special treat at Christmas for my mom and her mom – and I carry on that simple tradition – from the heart of our heritage.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2012 12:22 pm

      Sometimes it’s the small things that end up bring the most special. Glad you have a crowd to jingle along. Enjoy the holidays and thanks for wrapping up such a nice comment present!


  28. elliotclaire / Dec 14 2012 10:08 am

    This is one of those posts that makes me smile and glad of simple things like decorating for Christmas. Congrats on the FP! :=)


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2012 12:24 pm

      Thanks for stopping the sleigh here for a bit. Glad you got a giggle. It is supposed to be a merry season. Hope your Christmas is jolly and bright!


  29. Mountain Gypsy / Dec 14 2012 11:09 am

    Oh do I remember the drive to grandma’s house in the country! The Potbellied stove, the outhouse in the back and the buckets in the back porch for the little ones. The smell of her cooking and the sound of a million kids packed like sardines into her tiny little home.

    I recently wrote this;
    when I came across the old picture of me on Christmas.

    At 56 and single, I don’t do much in the way of decorating for Christmas. For me less is more, I keep it simple, candles (fake) in each window and that’s about it. I work many late nights and coming home to see the soft glow from my windows makes me happy.

    My dad was the Midnight Mass man. AND Christmas morning too. He took great pride in taking his 5 daughters, dressed up and pretending to be angels (just for him) to church. I still go and will often see proud fathers just like he was. It means so much more to me than decorations and presents.

    Thank you for a beautiful post and Merry Christmas.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2012 12:49 pm

      Pot bellied stoves were cool. We had the oblong kind on 4 legs…and it had 2 places in top for cooking with pots/pans which we used when the whole family showed up for big meals. I remember the dressing was usually in a pot there. Even the littlest kid (me) knew how to carefully open the little door and keep the fire going…and there was that grate on the door to peek through to check on it. Funny, none of us ever got burned – we were careful. It was just ordinary daily life – sadly few get to experience that any more – sure makes you appreciate things.
      Seeing a warm glow in the window is the best way to come home. Hope you have lots of merry this season. Thanks for stopping by to light up the comments section


  30. Crazy irish Poet / Dec 14 2012 1:26 pm

    Brilliant, But were you spying on our family christmas, you have got it down to a tee.Brought back a ton of memories.Very well written ;0)


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2012 2:11 pm

      Thanks for wandering over to chat by the fire – none to complain if it gets loudly merry…hey, it’s supposed to be a joyous season right? May the sky be clear and lots of stars decorate your nights.


  31. shoreacres / Dec 14 2012 2:46 pm

    Well! I know what you’re going to be doing for the next two days! We may have the most freshly pressed neighborhood in the world. 😉 Congrats!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2012 11:53 pm

      It was quite a surprise – I didn’t see the email since I had decided to try and catch up reading blogs instead of emails. Quite stunned and honored. You’ve got to be next! Thanks for tossing some comment tinsel this way


  32. mrs fringe / Dec 14 2012 2:48 pm

    Lovely. Merry Christmas 🙂


  33. on thehomefrontandbeyond / Dec 14 2012 3:04 pm

    This was an absolutely wonderful post–full of humour and love, Christmas cheer etc–but even better are your comments–I like your last sentence in each one–bravo for you–you’ve got the spirit as my family says whenever we see a house lit up to the nines!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2012 11:59 pm

      Glad you slowed the sleigh down long enough to join in the holiday cheer. Yes the comment candy jar is simply wonderful. Thanks for singing along


  34. legendsofyouth / Dec 14 2012 3:26 pm

    I feel as though me and my husband will be this way. In the fact that we are total opposites…love is a strange thing. I really enjoyed this post though. Well written and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 15 2012 12:01 am

      That hanging Mistletoe does work some magic. Appreciate your kind words. Hope there’s lots of merry surrounding you and yours


  35. only1katieb / Dec 14 2012 11:59 pm

    A very touching post and a great read. Have a wonderful Christmas 🙂 Katie B


  36. aFrankAngle / Dec 15 2012 11:31 am

    Mouse …. just wanted to stop by to say congrats on Freshly Pressed … and it is nice to know that I was here before the honor. Well done!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 15 2012 3:41 pm

      Oh, so appreciate the regular neighborhood bloggers. FP was quite a stunner – and I’m honored and humbled. Thanks for hearing the music all along and for being in the local orchestra that creates such a complex tune. Have a ringing merry weekend!


      • aFrankAngle / Dec 15 2012 6:23 pm

        BTW – now that your are FP, as one occupying the supreme throne of Non-FP Nation, you must shred your citizenship papers … however, your ties to we plebes may remain. Nonetheless, well done.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 15 2012 11:26 pm

          RC Cat: “While We commend Our staff for their efforts (when time obviously could be better used attending to Us), We are loath to have them burn any bridges…who knows how long said staff shall please Us. We prefer to have some locale to banish them to. So as one Realm Guardian to another, We request some sort of visa be available if needed. And We are quite miffed that Our own proclamations have gone unrecognized. It must be a plot. We shall seek an investigation. Regal paw wave has been raised in your direction.”


  37. ashbournevoice / Dec 16 2012 6:47 am

    Really enjoyed this. You’ve got an elegant and really spare writing style and a great eye for detail. Merry Christmas


  38. ashbournevoice / Dec 16 2012 6:47 am

    Reblogged this on AshbourneVoice.


  39. kkayser / Dec 17 2012 5:32 am

    black n white


  40. pnwauthor / Dec 18 2012 10:39 pm

    I enjoyed those visuals and smells. I can smell the holidays reading your post.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 19 2012 4:03 pm

      One of the best compliments ever. Christmas smells are the best memories. Tossing wistful thoughts of warmth and peace your way



  1. Ringing In The New « jmmcdowell

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: