It goes crunch.

Walnuts3I was 9 or 10 the year I bought my father a gift with my own money.  I remember it fairly vividly.

My brother and I were alone together in a grocery store at the Ala Moana shopping center in Honolulu.  My parents were elsewhere, no doubt procuring Christmas gifts hence my brother and I being trusted alone.

My father liked nuts.   And there, stacked in a high heap, were bags and bags of walnuts.  I can’t remember for sure, but I think they were 88 cents which seems high for 1969.  Then again it was Honolulu and walnuts were not, I don’t think, indigenous.

I whipped out my money, plunked it down and walked out with a gift I was sure would delight my father.  I was sure that newspapers across the land would herald the story of the good daughter who bought the most fabulous gift of all time for her father.  Walnuts.  From a grocery store.  In a shopping center.

broandmeI pledged my brother to secrecy.

Now my brother was the youngest and a whiny brat.  I was the oldest and a bossy brat.  I all but beat the need for secrecy into him.  And I wouldn’t have hesitated to do so.

So we all get home and I’m prattling on and on about the fabulous gift I have procured for my father.  I have even wrapped it and put it under the tree.  My father, a character, is teasing both my brother and I unmercifully.  Even at a young age, I knew Christmas presents were for Christmas.  I never wanted mine early.  The surprise and delight were the best part and delaying that just added to the joy.

But my dad starting working on Little Bro.  And to my brother’s credit, he held under hours of barrage of Daddy asking for just a hint.  He finally cracked (pun intended) and said, “All I can say is they go crunch.”

And the heavens rained down wrath and sorrow.

I sobbed.  I shrieked.  I wanted to kill my brother.  Really, what else would go crunch besides nuts.  He might as well said, “Father, my sister procured walnuts for your holiday gift.”  The surprise was ruined.  Ruined.

I was bereft.

My father wrapped me in his arms and cooed that he had no idea what the gift was.  He assured me.  I wasn’t buying it.  Between sobs, I plotted my brother’s demise.

Of course, it all turned out fine.  Of course, my father was shocked and delighted at the great surprise of walnuts.  And to this day, we say, “All I can say is it goes crunch.”

walnutfinalI don’t need  more ornaments and I’m limiting new acquisitions to the truly special.  This year I was enticed by a vintage style Kurt Adler walnut.  When it arrived, I remarked to the cat that it didn’t look much like a walnut, but the memories surfaced nonetheless.  And that’s the point of everything on my tree – memories and stories and the weft and weave of my life.

At my age, Christmas is more about memories than presents although I still strive to find presents that will knock their socks off.  I hope your Christmas finds you wrapped in lovely memories of all the people you have loved and do love.

Christmas Guests, Memories and Memorials

doug's tree guest room 016I’ve spent the day finishing HMO’Keefe’s Christmas tree.  I’ve been working on this for more than a week now.  It’s a pre-lit tree, but whole sections refused to light.  I checked bulbs, cords, fuses, the alignment of stars and planets, and everything else and nothing, nada, zip, could persuade the lights to work.

I decided to put up HMOK’s tree in the guest room primarily so his daughter could enjoy it when he comes to visit, but also because it is a slim tree and fit into the room like it should always have been there.  He was mildly annoyed when he got it home after buying it to discover it had colored lights.  He and I both prefer trees with either white lights or a solid color.  This one has red, blue, pink, white, green and gold.  It’s grown on me over the years and the multi-colors are great in the guest room.  I’m right fond of it.

But I was not fond of its refusal to work.  So, I trundled off to the Lowe’s and found an exact match for the lights.  Now, really, what are the odds?  So, I added more lights to the sections that aren’t working.  (Maybe next year I’ll take off the non-working lights, but I didn’t feel like wrestling with cable ties this year.)

doug's tree guest room 038I was so afraid that celebrating the holidays this year would be hard that I resolved to begin early so that if I did end up in the pit of sadness, my obligations to the family and friends would be taken care of.  Funny thing.  The more ahead of the game I got, the more I have enjoyed the season.  I’m still mourning HMO’Keefe, but I think I’ve moved to the acceptance stage of things and spend a lot of time reminiscing about our years together — particularly our Christmases.  We had a long-distance relationship for years, but regular as rain, I went to Boston or he came here.

He particularly loved the spectacle that is my house at Christmas time when I put everything out.  I felt I owed it to him and to me to make sure the house is at its Christmas best this year.  I’ve had a ball doing it.

doug's tree guest room 023Today, I fixed the lights and got out the boxes of his ornaments.  He was fond of Santas, kayaks, chili peppers, cowboys, and his daughter.  His tree reflects those things.  It’s a beautiful, funny, eclectic memorial to the man I loved.  I’m so pleased that his daughter is going to be able to sleep in this room with that tree when she comes to visit.

I’m also excited that Chef Boy ‘R Mine will be here for 5 days this year.  I can’t remember the last time I had him for 5 days.  So, I’m in a frenzy to have the house clean and orderly, to make cookies, to celebrate all the time-honored traditions of an American Christmas.

doug's tree guest room 042The guest room is almost ready, and boy-howdy I’m glad my two guests don’t have problems with cat hair.  I’m pleased with how the room turned out.  I bought the furniture this past summer upon realizing it drove me crazy that my son and step-daughter didn’t have a proper bed to sleep in when they’re here.  The suite of furniture is gorgeous and suits the room perfectly.

Upon excavating and decorating the closet, I got the hidden writing closet up and running again.  I can’t wait to spend some serious time in there writing secrets and memories.

I’ve decided to win the lottery tonight and might even buy a ticket.

megamillionsThis lottery is up to $400 million and something.  I think I can squeak buy on the cash payout of $212 million.  Therefore, if I don’t post for awhile it’s because getting my financial affairs in order is taking longer than I thought.  Now one wouldn’t think it would take long to drum up an attorney, a financial adviser, and a tax accountant with such a sum, but one really never knows.

Conventional wisdom says I can win if I don’t buy a ticket.  I was just whining on Facebook that conventional wisdom is so boring and often wrong, but in this particular case, I think it might be right.  So, my to-do list includes Buy lottery ticket today.