Saturday, December 24, 2016


Christmas - family time.  We always had family around at Christmas.  Some of the fun things from my childhood . . . 

While growing up, the Saturday before Christmas (and if Christmas fell on a Sunday, it was the week before), we would go Christmas tree shopping.  It was an all day affair.  We always ended up picking our tree in the dark.  We'd get it home and let it set on the front porch to get rid of the loose needles.  The next day, Dad would put it into the tree stand and bring it into the house and set it up in the living room corner.  We would end up finding blank spots so the tree would be turned until those were hidden from view.  Next came decorating.  Dad would always put the lights on first.  Then Mom would do the garlands.  Next came the ornaments.  Us kids got to put some of them up.  The final touch was the icicles.

Every Christmas Eve we would go driving around Centralia looking at the various Christmas Lights people did to their homes.  We would stop at Grandma Lucy's house first (this was actually my Mom's Grandma, her Dad's step-mom).  We would give her some little gifts we made and our school photos.  She would give us some goodies.  Loved that time with her.  Then it was driving around for an hour or two.  Then it was home to get to bed for Christmas.

We would go to town on an evening and park the car in the town parking lot just off Pearl Street near the Masonic Hall.  We would split up into two groups - Mom & I and Ed & Dad.  We would go shopping in the various shops along Tower Avenue.  After an hour, we would meet back at the car and trade off and go out again.  I can remember Dad taking me into Rita's Hardware store to pick out appliances to give Mom for Christmas.  One year it would be a toaster, another a waffle iron, and another year it would be a pancake griddle.  She would always get new slippers every year.  Mom would take us to a store (probably the same one) to pick out a train car for Dad.  We always got the gifts wrapped.

There was one year that Dad had us meet with him in the train room to discuss a gift for Mom.  We had decided to get her a Mother's ring.  Dad did the shopping for us.  We had three stones - March, August, and December.  March & December for my brother's and my birthdays.  August was for their anniversary (it is also my Mom's birthday).  Dad did a sneaky, he wrapped the ring box, then stuck it inside of another box (wrapped) and inside another box (wrapped) until it was a huge box that went under the tree.

Christmas Day
As kids, we weren't allowed down the stairs until Mom & Dad were up.  We always ate breakfast first, then had to do the dishes.  Then we got to go into the living room.  Either my brother or I or both of us played "Santa" and handed out the gifts.  I don't remember if we opened them all at once or if we took turns.

The afternoon we would either go over to Papa's house or he & Auntie Lois would come to our house for dinner and more Christmas presents.  (this was my Dad's family - sister & dad).

When I was working, I would either work Christmas morning or I would have the afternoon shift.  My brother hated it when I had to work the morning shift because Christmas was put on hold until I got home after 3 pm.  Mom liked it when I worked the afternoon shift because that meant Auntie had to help out with the dishes after dinner (and I headed out the door as I either had to be at work by 3 or by 4:30 depending which shift I was working).  You have to understand, we didn't have a dishwasher, so somebody had to dry the dishes and put them away.

We always used the good china for Christmas dinner and the good silverware.

One year Mom made Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls for us.  I can remember when my brother opened the shoe box and saw the doll, he grabbed it and through it towards me.  Said "dolls are for girls".  

Another year we got bicycles.  I had a big bike and Papa made a miniature bike (out of front wheels from tricycles) for my brother.

Other presents included red wagons, sleds, dolls, toy oven, loom and I don't remember what all else.  

New Traditions
Christmas Eve - we usually attend Candlelight Services at our church.  This year they aren't having them.  Then we go look at lights.  Then we usually end up doing last minute wrapping of gifts.

We now hang stockings every year along the fireplace mantel and have the joy of filling them with various things.  This was something that David did when he was growing up.  We never did when I was growing up.

Christmas morning is just us (my husband & son, when he is home).  We usually have time to open our stockings and Santa gift before heading to my parents' for Christmas Breakfast.  My sister-in-law and her children and grandchildren join us.  After eating breakfast, we open gifts.  Everybody gets gifts for the little ones and the adults draw names at Thanksgiving time.  We let the kids open their gifts first then the adults.  We either go youngest to oldest or oldest to youngest.  there's usually Santa gifts for everyone as well.  Sometimes we play a game afterwards before every one heads home or to other families homes.

Christmas dinner is with my husband's family.  We eat a big dinner then the kids get to open the their gifts.  Adults don't exchange gifts anymore (we used to but a few years ago it was decided to do something for charity instead).

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Our Caribbean Cruise Vacation - New Orleans (Part 10)

We arrived in New Orleans early on Friday.  We had to eat breakfast early on board the ship then it was a wait till it was time for us to de-board . . . then a long line in the terminal for customs (once we found our luggage).  Then the taxi ride to our hotel in the French Quarters.

While waiting for our room to be ready, we booked several tours, ate lunch, then took our first tour.  This was a tour of the city - seeing one of their cemeteries, damage done by Katrina, Garden District, University District, and I don't remember all (didn't write it all down).

The next day we took to the Mississippi River aboard a paddle wheel.  FANTASTIC!  Got to see where the Battle of New Orleans took place, Navy base, and life on the river.  Enjoyed a true Louisiana meal - fried catfish, jambalaya, and rice & red beans.

The afternoon was spent walking along Bourbon Street, taking in the Gumbo Festival in Armstrong Park, then going to the Central Business District for dinner at Huck Finn's.

The next day was spent on our Plantation Tours.  First up was the Laura Plantation then we went to Oak Valley Plantation.  We ate lunch at Oak Valley.  We got back to our hotel mid-afternoon.  Early evening saw us walking towards Canal Street.  We ate dinner at Deanie's Seafood.  Oh my, stuffed crab!

Monday was a relaxing day . . . no alarm!  We ate breakfast at the Ruby Slipper on Canal Street.  Then caught the Charles Street Trolley to head over to the World War II museum.   Wow, what a museum.  We really should have gone earlier.  There is so much to see.  You first start out on a "train" and you receive  your soldier.  Throughout the museum building, you visit various areas and learn about your soldier, collect mementos, and see what was happening. They covered all regions of the war.  there's a building dedicated to the planes of the war, jeeps, tanks, etc.  I highly recommend visiting the museum.

Tuesday was our last day . . . flight home.  We spent the morning doing some more exploring around the French Quarter and Jackson Square.  But weather was starting to threaten us and sent us back to the hotel to wait until time to catch the taxi to the airport.  Good thing we caught the taxi early - traffic was very thick.  Storm finally hit just as we were leaving New Orleans.  Flight was about 15 minutes late.  We got into Sea-Tac a little late and there was a long wait for our luggage that we missed our aeroporter.  We ended up having to take the last one of the night (just after midnight).  Got home about 2 am.  Glad took the rest of the week off!.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Our Caribbean Cruise Vacation - Part 9 Cozumel, Mexico

Our tour guide
Our last port of call . . . My what a trip!.  We've been to Cozumel before but my how it has changed!  Our shore excursion this time was another best of . . . our first stop was Discover Mexico.  This is a museum about the Mayans and it had miniatures of the various ruins!  They also did a show (similar to the one we saw when we did the Tulum Ruins several years ago),

one of the miniatures

the show

Our second stop was at the Mayan Cocoa Company.  Who doesn't love chocolate!  What a great way to see how chocolate is made the old fashioned way.  We also got to taste it.  Lots of flavors.  (oh, they have a website and a facebook page).


Our third stop was at El Cedro, the oldest village on the island.  Here people can have tequila to sample.  It was a tourist trap as far as we were concerned.  You were a captive audience for all the vendors.

On our way back to the ship we got to see some of the coast.  

Back at the ship we spent the evening listening to music and setting our clocks back another hour.

The next day was our last Sea Day.  We had our Veteran's breakfast, Bingo, Trivia, more Bingo, then a Neil Diamond tribute.