I've been tagged by several lovely ladies for this particular meme. Who all turn out to be my guardian angels in the end, because the stomach bug making its rounds in our neighborhood dropped by here this morning at 5:30. I've been pinned to the sofa under the droopy weight of a sick three-year old Mt. Vesuvius and her attendant pink barf bucket for 5 straight hours, which has been an alternately Very Wonderful and Very Terrible place to be. I'm getting a reprieve now because Madame Vesuvius has fallen into a deep sleep on her Daddy's chest. When she finally gave in to sleep, I was up the stairs like a shot, I tell you, and into the hottest shower my skin could tolerate, still wearing my partially slimy, partially crusty, but completely stinky pajamas, where I soaped my entire self up with antibacterial soap TWICE before using my Buff Puff (Steel Wool for the epidermis! Try it!) with moisturizing bath gel in an invogorating final pass over all body parts. I feel clean now.
But even with all my blood flowing properly on accounta the vigorous scrubbing, I was vexed about what to blog you this fine Sunday. And then I remembered the Random Things Meme and realized, hey, if today ain't random, ain't no day random around here, ever.
And I'm gonna holiday-ize my Random Things, because this is my blog, I've been cleaning up big chunks, little chunks and everything in between since before daybreak, and darn it, I need me a little of that holiday joy right about now.
1. On one evening the first week in December, Al and I have a special date each year. I make a heaping plate of little snacks and appetizers, we pour ourselves a couple glasses of wine, and we curl up on the sofa in the glow of the pretty lights on the Christmas tree and have a little light dinner while we listen to and read all the words to Handel's Messiah. The first time we did this, I surprised Al with his wedding ring, so he could try it on and make sure it fit before our wedding a few days later. I love having traditions that bring back such wonderful, sweet memories.
2. Bean has loved candy canes since almost the very beginning of her little life. I adore how she lights up every time she sees one and says, Look Mama, Canny Cay-yans!!!! (I don't know why she calls them that, she can SAY canes, she just won't. Like she insists on calling Yams Hams and Pams. Mind of her own, that one has.) So starting her second Christmas, in addition to delivering the Big Present and stuffing the stocking and leaving a heartfelt note of gratitude, wisdom, and reflection, Santa also hangs plentitudenous big candy canes all over our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve night.
3. On that same night, Bean puts out the traditional cookies and milk for Santa, along with carrots and water for his reindeer, all in a special sectioned Christmas tray. With the help of a small drop of red food coloring, the water gets pink when Rudolph accidentally dips his nose in it while he's drinking. All three of our kids love this little magical tradition and pronounce it quite nifty on Christmas morning!
4. Every year, as he did at my house growing up, Santa leaves a letter wedged into the branches of the tree. In it, Santa responds to the letters written and left for him Christmas Eve by the family-members-in-residence. He also recaps the past year's highlights, lauds the accomplishments and special events in our lives, and reminds us that although we love and enjoy the tradition of Santa, it's the birth of Christ we celebrate most at this time of year. My Dad always wrote the funniest, smartest, most moving Santa letters when I was a kid. I'm sure mine pale in comparison, but I am doing everything I can to maintain this aged and important tradition here at FriedOkra Manor.
5. A few of my favorite holiday treats to make and enjoy around this time of year are spicy roasted pecans, whose recipe comes from an old dog-eared, red-and-white-checked Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook I use just about every day, hot mulled wine with cranberry juice, my Mom's recipe for pomanders (a chocolate and orange flavored rolled cookie, easy as can be, but unfortunately, as my sister very aptly pointed out a year or two ago, the lowliest of the Christmas cookies, because they just aren't all that pretty), jam thumbprints with currant jelly and Emeril's baked ham, which goes into the special ham biscuits I make and deliver to the local friends and neighbors on Christmas Eve.
6. I still can't sleep on Christmas Eve night. Forty years old and still listening for the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. Silly Mama!
7. As hard as it is to fathom, I can literally feel the love and gratitude I have for God, who's given to me - silly, unspeakably flawed, unworthy little me - this beautiful, hilarious, amazing family, growing ever stronger and more passionate during this time of the year. And is it any wonder, y'all? Just look at 'em!