Tag: tradition

and no needles

our first christmas tree followed us from the room
so we started anchoring them
to the ceiling.

then there were the times
when we tromped out as a family
in search of
the perfect tree.
even though the trees
were always resplended,
their branches fully laden
with handmade ornaments
crafted from glue
and popsicle sticks
and fuzzy red pom-pom balls,
the actual shopping
excursion was never
our finest moment.

the shortest tree-shopping trip ever
was the year we found the coveted
two-headed tree.
but because it started to rain on our way home
didn’t stop raining till mid-january,
that famous tree never made it inside.

four full-to-the-brim calendars
ushered in the
color-coded tree-in-a-box.

the december daddy died,
hubby went out by himself
and fetched a $5 tree.
we leaned it up in the courtyard.
and for the first time ever,
we were totally unconcerned about
turning its bad side to the corner.
foregoing the ornaments and even the
dreaded tree stand,
we threw some lights at it
and enjoyed looking at it
through the glass
where it became a metaphor
for my life.

there was the year
we wanted to buy
a tree from the
local filling station.
they had two left,
and while the girls
were prepared and willing
(eager, even)
to take both home,
the guys said an emphatic and convincing “no”
so we drove on,
unwilling to separate
the two trees one from the other.
(we didn’t go treeless, though,
eventually paying somebody $25
when they agreed to let us chop down
a tree from their front yard.)

there were the christmas cruises
when we left the decorating
(and the consequent clean-up)
to them.

a friend’s accidental death
this week
caused my son to get home
just yesterday,
on christmas eve afternoon,
which effectively eliminated
any time for the annual
tree-shopping excursion.

scanning the roadside
on the way home from the
asheville airport,
and finding absolutely nothing
i’d just begun to mourn
when the idea fairy screeched in to visit
just as we entered the
last curve before home.

we were just too tired
to deal with it last night,
and it would’ve been easy
to skip on past it this morning.
in fact, the kids voted nay,
but my adorable husband
sensing how much it meant to me,
spent the
12 minutes required
(and that’s from fetch to finish, folks)
decorating this year’s tree.

well, it’s not actually a TREE,
mind you.
you see, this year
we strung lights around
the green TRUNK
that’s been in my daddy’s family
for forever
and a day.

looking at that festive trunk,
i see roots that run deep.
i see dints and dings that bear witness to storms weathered successfully.
i see gifts being tenderly cradled on the inside,
till they’re ready to be
shared and laughed and sung right out loud.
i see locks and latches that are easily undone,
but effectively protective when needbe.
i see where the lights are plugged into the nearby outlet
because let’s face it: everybody needs help generating energy every now ‘n then.

what else do i see?
i see stories
and smiles
and laughter.
i see hugs
and tears
and togetherness.
i see resolve
and grief
and love.
long-standing, deep-running love.
and perhaps best of all,
i see a brand new tradition
conjured from the oldest of old traditions: resourcefulness,
or as we might call it just this once: inJeanneuity.

o christmas trunk, o christmas trunk . . .


this post is my response to today’s reverb10 prompt from tracey clark: Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

good eats

my maternal grandmother, who cooked at least two meals a day and made biscuits from scratch every single day of her adult life, still found time to enter cake contests just for the fun of it. on any given day, she’d find new cake contests, conjure up new recipes, bake test cakes. granddaddy was her taste tester, and perhaps that’s why it still surprises me when i remember how much he loved my pound cake. grandmother would win contests with fancy cakes (her pineapple upside-down cake was a perennial winner), and i’m sure granddaddy was proud of her, but he never quit publicly praising my plain ole, every day ordinary pound cake.

i bake my pound cake only for holidays and special events, and this year i look forward to mixing it up in my new red mixer, a gift from my manchild. since thanksgiving is right around the corner, i thought i’d share my recipe with you:


my secret to the crunchy, crispy crust? when i remove the cake from the oven, i let it cool for 5-10 minutes, then i turn the pan upside down on a cooling rack covered with was paper and remove the cake pan. i immediately put another wax paper-covered cooling rack on the exposed bottom, and flip the cake so that it’s sitting right-side-up to cool.

now lookahere: if you want a devilishly good bedtime snack or breakfast, cut you a slice of leftover pound cake, spread a little butter or margarine on it, and stick it in the oven on broil for a few minutes.

you can thank me later – right now you’ve got a grocery list to make.

thanksgiving 2009 wrap-up


we got off to a rough an interesting start on thanksgiving 2009, but as we they sit here watching football, i know we pulled it out just fine. oh, the table wasn’t worthy of a single snapshot, and the food was served in the midst of countertop clutter, and the family balked when i lit candles and turned down the lights, but it was still a very nice thanksgiving.

mimosas help move us through the day with a kitchen full of folks, each of whom has their own cooking style. i prefer to clean as i go while others prefer cooking now/cleaning later and still others say if they cook, somebody else can clean by golly.

we still honor the 20-minute rule, a little something i conjured up many years ago in a foot-stomp moment: eat as fast as you want, i tell them, but you are gonna’ sit at this table for 20 minutes because I JUST SPENT THREE DAYS COOKING AND A DAY AT THE GROCERY STORE BEFORE THAT.

long ago i, like so many others, ended every day noting at least 5 things on my gratitude list, and you know, the more i was grateful for, the more i had to be grateful for. that practice, like anything else i’ve done consistently, taught me to see, to think in a certain way. over the years, i’ve tried all sorts of ways to enkindle conversation about gratitude as we sit around the overflowing table on the fourth thursday of november, but this year i waved the white flag and just left each to his/her own way of saying thank you.

once, on a family trip, my son wandered off by himself for some alone time. when we reunited later that afternoon, he came bearing a gift for me: a handblown glass stylus, inkwell, and stand. it is gorgeous and it is delicate – far too delicate to sit ready in a house with curious cats that leap with abandon – so until 2 weeks ago, it sat in my closet. it was the first thing i saw when i opened the closet door, and i vowed that when we were once again catless, i was bringing it out into the open.

then mother and i went to vancouver 2 weeks ago, and on granville island, i bought 2 bottles of vegetable-based ink and ever since, i’ve started each day penning thank you notes with my handblown glass stylus. i dip the nib in the inkwell and delight in the sound and feel of it scratching along the paper. once at least 3 notes are finished, the dog and i walk them to the mailbox.

so why am i not afraid for the stylus’ life even though we still provide shelter for 2 cats? because, my friends, i have discovered a little something called museum mount – a clear, slightly sticky gel that holds everything tightly in its designated place. yes, thanks to that little jar of museum mount, i can look forward to penning those daily thank you notes with my glass pen far into the future, cats be damned.

but now, as we close out thanksgiving 2009, i’ll publicly revert to noting 5 things for which i am monstrously thankful:

* children who enjoy, defend, and, when necessary, support each other.
* a low-maintenance, high-companionable dog.
* a mother who is still interested in all sorts of things, who never uses age as an excuse, and who is not too set in her ways to stay up past midnight and sleep till nearly noon.
* a husband who willingly changes out switchplate and outlet covers even though he thinks what we already have is perfectly fine.
* friends – those i see in person and those i see digitally – who tickle, support, inspire, and encourage.

oh, oh, oh: and museum mount. yes siree, i sure am thankful for museum mount.

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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