Monday, December 26, 2011

Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple streudels...

Hope you got to spend Christmas with those you love. I certainly did.

And even though I know it's about more meaningful things, the gifts aren't so bad either. Here are some of my favorites.

Leigh Ann compiled the pictures from that day into a book. What a wonderful gift.
I love that Mom takes the time to personalize our gift tags. She selects old Christmas cards that "look like us," cuts the edges with pinking shears, and then occasionally writes funny little messages on them. For instance, for my new pajama box, she signed it from my pets, suggesting that they were getting tired of seeing me in crap sleepwear. Thanks, Mom.
I would've never thought to do this. I absolutely love it.
Both of these are made out of old pieces of silverware.
Homemade wrapping with a true treasure inside...
That's right, Minit Mart, I'll be keeping that daily $1.47.
I may not know the difference between an iPad, iPod, and e-reader, but I'm not above kitchen gadgetry.
Cowboy boots are facing retirement...residents of Marrowbone will now get to see me walking the dogs in jogging pants and these.
“I just wish I could do a British accent…” Christmas Eve, 2011

Every year I inevitably sit befuddled, contemplating, planning, and searching for inspiration;
the sights and sounds of the past year, the journey; a Christmas Eve poem, the destination.
If I’m not mistaken, I threw in “moobs” last year for visual and alliterative effect,
the height of the poetic bar, thus thankfully suspect.

So here I sit, pet menagerie by my side and mediocre literary standard in mind,
searching for my entry point, my hook, that irrefutably impressive opening line.
…[Five minutes later]…
Uh, well, in lieu of said perfection, perhaps I should just consider Option B,
a poem about Grandma’s pickle, Zach’s concentrating face, nay, Leigh Ann’s mini-me.

“Wildcat,” “Rollie Pollie,” and “Granny Pig” are all one in the same,
for Isabella Kurtys Morgan is rather fond of the sophisticated nickname.
“Sweet Pea,” “Little Rascal,” and “China Shop Bull,” has a creatively foolish flair,
a trait surely inherited from the Morgans, one among the Turners, undeniably rare.

Regardless of the daily moniker, however, her presence is a daily joy;
better than the most beautiful of Etsy ornaments or holiday-themed, mass-marketed toy.
The little girl who inexplicably loves ol’ purple shirt worn by my brother-in-law, TJ,
is the most perfect of Christmas gifts, one whimsically wrapped in footy panda bear pjs.

Sure, she, in pretty white tights, might stick her foot in cake icing again this year,
all the while procuring 46 suckers and performing Mrs. Barbara’s song about reindeer.
She, doing her best Waffle impersonation, will take food off everyone else’s plate,
a skill honed from much practice, one required when your parents are always late.

She might run a cat-toting stroller into one of Nonna’s newly painted walls,
or insist on simultaneously carrying around her bowl of noodles and roughly 14 dolls.
She will talk over everyone else if she has something to say,
but usually to spout something incredibly endearing like “and you have a nice day.”

For, see, she is a stinker if ever a stinker there were.
Born and bred of foolishness, forget incense and myrrh.
Yet she is my Christmas angel, my queen of queens, on December 25 and every other day,
“What child is this?” you ask… Hmmm, just depends on who she wants to play.

Well, lightening hasn’t struck me yet, the irreverence thus apparently kept in check.
But “Granny Pig” superimposed into something less religious might permanently save my neck.
How about “Nonna Got Run Over by a Vacuum Popper” or “GP is Coming to Town”?,
both hopefully performed by a little girl in a pink tutu, brown horse dress, and her favorite flannel gown.

With that image in mind, it seems time to end this little Christmas ditty,
read in the coziest of decorated dining rooms among those far more witty,
Yet, write and read I have, in hopes of upholding a Christmas Eve tradition,
one the Little Rascal will inherit someday, or at least I will petition.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I promise not to include Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" or "Oh Santa" even though I really want to.

A few days before Christmas and I've already received some of the most wonderful gifts...

Remember the post about Vivian Swift painting a picture for me? Well...
The card looked like a page from her book. It really is beautiful.
Her email correspondence has been witty and down-to-earth and thoughtful. The painting is perfect. I can't wait to meet her one day.
My Lucy!
This is the picture I had emailed.
Laura McLaughlin came into the Library last week and brought me (for no particular reason; we aren't family or close friends) homemade Christmas Jam (I'm not sure what all is in it, but the fact that I wake up thinking about what I plan to put 2-3 tablespoons on should tell you something). She also made the bag. In one fell swoop, she, in effect, put my Christmas presents to shame.

We have such neat people in Cumberland County.

That's right, the container is half-empty already.
I'm not one for dramatics...BUT, I honestly think this is a wonderful, wonderful gift. I am grateful for the friendship of two of the most thoughtful people I have ever known. I am grateful for good news.

Friday, December 16, 2011

And here is where you team up with 8-year-old Leigh Ann and tell me I'm adopted: Christmas at Turner Farm.

I wrapped a ball in fabric strips. Mom made this.

Too bad I couldn't get Zach to stand next to it in a green dickie and skin-tight cream sweater.

Even good ol' basket lamp gets in on the fun.

Can't forget the bathroom and bedroom.

One of the holiday treats my mom is known for...

Bourbon Balls
1 stick butter
2 boxes powdered sugar
Dash of salt
1 c. pecans
½ c. bourbon

Cream butter and gradually work in sugar. Add bourbon and nuts. Roll into balls and refrigerate over night.

Chocolate coating
2 squares of unsweetened chocolate
6 squares of semi-sweet chocolate
½ bar of paraffin

Melt over low heat and dip bourbon balls.

Although this was originally my Aunt Sherry's (the one with the amazing house you all may have seen in the Thanksgiving pictures) recipe, my mom is the one with whom I will always associate this irrefutably unhealthy, but fantastically decadent, holiday treat. From the time I was a little girl who insisted on “helping” in the kitchen, I can remember mom rolling out bourbon balls and making peanut butter and chocolate fudge every Christmas season. While some were certainly reserved for family gatherings, most were carefully packaged in whimsical holiday tins and sent to fellow teachers, my or my sisters’ teachers, and a wide assortment of community friends. My mom is a wonderful cook, so any edible gift is typically welcomed by all; however, it seems recipients’ eyes shine a little brighter when these little goodies are unveiled.

One bourbon ball memory that will always make me laugh involves CLT, a man with a hilariously dry sense of humor, my part basset hound/part unknown breed dog, Willie, who happened to be dressed in a Christmas elf costume on the particular night in question, and a beautiful glass serving dish. Two pertinent facts: 1) Because mom often sets containers of various candies on coffee and side tables when she has guests over, it was not odd to see several bourbon ball and fudge options in numerous living room locals two Christmas Eves ago. 2) Willie will eat anything. Anything.
I was sitting in front of the fire, when Dad said simply, “Willie probably shouldn’t be eating 23 bourbon balls.” I ran over in a panic, saw the glass dish, which at this point only had one bourbon ball left in it, resting beside a content little mouth-stuffed Willie. Apparently, he had stealthily climbed on the coffee table and eaten, no kidding, seven or eight bourbon balls without being detected. The final lunge, however, the one that knocked the container over and thus, grabbed Dad’s attention, ruined his scheme. Long story short, Willie, and his stomach of steel, were just fine…and Mom earned yet another bourbon ball fan.