December Celebrations: Warm and Cold

Monday Morning Musings:

My mother says,

That one year my sister and I received

Presents and celebrated

For nearly two months.

In the days before Amazon

And same and next day deliveries,

I suppose packages took longer to arrive.

So they came in trickles and waves

Over the course of weeks

To mingle with those already at home.

The season of celebration

Began with my sister’s birthday

In November.

Then went on

To Thanksgiving,

Followed by

My birthday,


And Christmas–

The festivities went on and on,

Or so it seemed to us.

Then one day it stopped.

We asked,

“What no presents today? No holiday?”

I don’t remember this at all.

But that is what my mother says.

And though her memory is sometimes

A bit faulty

I suspect it’s true.

It may have been the year my aunt sent us

The Easy Bake Oven.

I made a few of those cookie-size cakes,

The oven set-up in our bedroom

Novelty there,

But, truthfully,

I was much more interested in

The real oven and stove.

I “doctored” canned soups

With spices from the rack

Before I tackled real meals

And baking.

I remember misreading “marjoram”

And thinking it said “marijuana.”

Well, that would have been interesting, right?

I’m not even certain how I knew the word.

This was before the War on Drugs.

And our schools were more concerned

That we “duck and cover,”

Giving me vague terrors

And fears

Of losing my parents.

Cold War fears

Of losing the warmth

Of family and home.

Is that what draws me

To the heat of the kitchen?

Now, that I’m older

I like to think each day is a gift,

Something to unwrap joyfully

With the dawn.

Of course, the dawn is so late in December.

Perhaps that’s why I bought myself a new laptop

For my birthday

And perhaps to chase away the coming

Winter chill

And fears of the future.

Well, it’s for my business, you know,

Even my husband agreed.

My old computer is only old in

Computer years,

Which pass faster than dog years,

But still,

They’re the ones that count–

To the computer–

And the person using it.

I haven’t spent months celebrating,

Well, not unless you count the weddings,

Three in about a years’ time,

But I did manage a week or so—

Hanukkah running into to my birthday,

Celebrating with dinner at a local winery,


Then the next night dinner with my daughter and son-in-law

Followed by chocolate cake and watching my grandpets

Chase each other around the apartment.

Brothers of other mothers for sure.


The next day there was a trip to Grounds for Sculpture

Just hanging out

Enjoying nature on a

Freakishly warm December day.

Standing at a bread line


Having a snack


Dancing a waltz


Maybe reading a book with a friend


Enjoying lunch in the balmy weather


Returning home to light the candles

The final night

Till next year.


On my actual birthday

We went to the movies,

The Danish Girl

Me wondering how strange

And horrible

It must be

To feel like someone else inside,

And how sad but

Beautiful and brave

It was to love that person–

And to believe.

My husband and I discussed this

Over tapas and drinks afterward

(The Spinach and Manchego Buñuelos divine)


Well, celebration, remember?

And from birthday

We’re on to

Cookie-baking season

That is, not the usual cooking baking

That happens all the time here.

Special, once-a-year cookies.

And decorating them with our younger daughter

And missing our older one.

We will have to eat her share,

I suppose.


It will soon be Christmas.

The skies are dark, dismal, and dreary

The news is ghastly, glum and, gloomy,

But there is warmth and light.

Our own little miracle of lights.

The light on the stove hood–

You know, the one that hasn’t worked

For months?

Well, now it does

Just like that.


More lights are glowing

At windows

On trees,

And in hearts

That are open to it.

Soon the New Year will come

With new dreams

And old memories.


Wishing all of you a joyous and happy December-

And beyond.

With hopes that it is not too warm

Or too cold

But, just right.

Places we visited and things we saw:

Auburn Road Vineyards  

Kitchen 519 

Grounds for Sculpture 

The Danish Girl 

Cuba Libre 

And here’s a 1951 Civil Defense Duck and Cover Film. It would have terrified me, as a child. It’s before my time, but we were still ducking and covering in the 1960s.



29 thoughts on “December Celebrations: Warm and Cold

  1. You guys are such hams, a metaphor at once apt and inappropriate unless you actually do eat ham in your household. 🙂 Even the pets get into the action, possibly knowing about your rise to stardom on Buzzfeed. (You know how mysterious and knowing cats and some dogs are.)

    Lovely post, including the alfresco dining!

    • Thanks, Marian. My husband eats ham–no worries. 🙂
      Those are my daughter’s pets, but perhaps they know of my fame. Hahaha. I was looking for one of her cat in a Christmas outfit, but I couldn’t find it.

  2. Lots of warmth and light here, in this post. Duck and cover. I remember that well. You are a wonderful chef with words, cooking up a mix of all kinds of slices of life in your musings. Happy Holidays, Merril. 🙂

  3. Thanks for taking me through your time, Merril! I love all your menorahs–is there one for each family member? And the cookies look yummy!!! Happy everything to you and your loved ones!!! xoxo

    • You’re welcome, Luanne. There are actually more menorahs than family members. I just think they’re pretty, and I’ve received some as gifts. There’s also a small doll size one that we first got for the girls, but it’s difficult to put candles in and light. I don’t know if you can see it in the photo. Happy everything to you to you and yours, too!

  4. I may be late, but today is a great day to read this post because I appreciate your ecumenical spirit. … and a belated toast to your birthday with wine … well, it’s noon somewhere! Merry Christmas.

  5. I am also coming along after Christmas trying to catch up on blogging during this wonderful gap between Christmas & New Year. Although we’ve been doing work around the house, we’ve also had a lot of time out as well. It’s great to be in the slow lane for a change.
    I loved all your photos and that Sculpture place looks great. We have a place in the Hunter Valley called Hunter Valley Gardens. I’ve been wanting to take my kids there for awhile and I might take my daughter while our son is at Scout camp. Here’s the link:
    I also love your Grandparents and your comment that they have different Mums. They’re both beautiful. My brother has lured the cat in from across the road aided and abetted by my Mum. The neighbours were quite pleased as their daughter had moved out and the cat was left alone. He’s a rather moody and quirky cat, much like my brother. I suspect they’re two kindred spirits who’ve found each other xx Ro

    • Thanks, Rowena. Grounds for Sculpture was really great. We had never been there before, and I guess since it was December, but before Christmas, it wasn’t crowded, despite the 70 degree temperature. I was confused by your remark about grandparents, until I realized that you must have meant my “grandpets.” 🙂
      Did the woman move out and leave her cat? (Awful!) Or was it a stray she was feeding? Either way, I’m glad your brother the cat have found each other. I never thought I’d be a crazy cat woman, but I love our little guys! And they are super-affectionate.

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