Tag Archives: holiday

Do You Know What Day This Is?

It was a sunny Wisconsin morning the first time it happened. My mother screamed and ran into our bedroom waking my sister Patty and me from a sound slumber. I thought my small heart would explode. I bolted from our shared bed and followed her to the picture window of our apartment.

“There’s a purple polka-dotted elephant walking down the street!” she shouted.

“What? Where?”

When my little sister joined me in squinting through the glaring window, she said, “April Fools,” and then laughed. I didn’t think it was very funny at the time.

Through the years, I have played tricks on friends and family. My children ran to the window searching for purple giraffes, along with other strange colored creatures. I know. I am so mean. It must be genetic. Every year, I have tried to come up with new ways to trick my husband, such as, “By the way, we’re having company for dinner, so if you could stop and pick up some wine and a few things at the grocery store and then come home early to help me clean, that would be great. (Wait for it…) APRIL FOOLS!” The relief on his face is always worth it!

Yesterday, I checked my phone’s April calendar and noticed little lines under the some of the dates.  I didn’t remember saving any appointments, so I checked them out. April 22nd is Earth Day. The 15th is dreaded Tax Day. And the 1st is… April Fools’ Day!

Wait a minute… It occurred to me that if phones list April Fools’ as a holiday, everyone will know and no one will be fooled. That could begin the extinction of the holiday!

Ugh. That would be terrible. I have always looked forward to a day of pranking.

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April Fools in Denmark. No. A subway car did not crash through the ground…

How did it begin anyway? There are conflicting reports which is no surprise since this is April Fools we are talking about. The following explanation gets my vote. During the Middle Ages, the first of the year was celebrated at the end of March. Then in the 1500’s, Pope Gregory XIII changed the Gregorian Calendar to start on January 1st.  Bells would toll across the land to “fool” other fools into thinking the 1st of the year still began in April.

I never noticed that the Pope named the calendar after himself! He died on April 10th. Irony or coincidence???

During the 1800’s in France, the first of the year changed to January 1st. People who celebrated on April 1st were ridiculed in that country as well.

“Ha. You peasants are such idiots…”

Today, in Italy, France, and Belgium, pranksters will stick a picture of a fish on their unsuspecting target’s back and then shout, “April Fish!”

April Fish

WHAT? That is so lame! How did that one start? Were they fed up with being called fools and substituted fish? And did they originally use real fish back in the day? Did they use minnows or mackerels? Apparently, that variation has something to do with the astrological sign Pisces.

April Fools’ Day will be celebrated in many countries today. Thanks Wikipedia for that specific information. How will we play any practical jokes if everyone knows and is already suspicious? My advice is to strike early before your friends and family have their first cup of coffee.

“Roxy! Look at that pink coyote trotting down the street!”

Purple spotted Roxy1

Consider this heads up, my gift to you. Now get out there and prank someone!

Do you plan to fool anyone?

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Guess What? A Contest

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One of my annual holiday traditions is creating our family Christmas card. In the last couple of days, I have drawn and copied, cut, folded and stacked all of the parts that will be ready to glue and assemble. With around 24 hours into this art project, I would guess that I am just about half way to finishing them. I am hoping to make 90 cards. I know. I am ridiculous.

This year’s card is another pop-up, meaning there will be folded paper inside that will have some dimension after opening.  Last year, I added beads and half of the envelopes were returned before Christmas with postage due. Ugh. This year, I avoided any extra dingle dangles that would mess up the otherwise timely delivery.

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Last year’s card. Those beads cost me!

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Another pop-up from two years before.

I thought it would be fun to  run a contest for those of you interested in receiving one of my homemade cards. No matter what your faith or how you celebrate, this is a card made with lots of love for you! Continue reading

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Creeped Out by Santa

creepy santas 1Do I look terrified or what? My sister escaped!

Let me start out by clarifying that I love the idea of Santa Claus as the embodiment of joy and generosity for children around the world. But it was the department store Santa with the nasty cigarette and coffee breath I endured for the sake of the obligatory traditional McCartan photo every Christmas. Continue reading

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Tackling the Turkey

Don’t I look confident? It is all a facade.

When my children were younger, I would get nervous just thinking about Thanksgiving. Roasting that humongous bird was intimidating. All those years of my own mother making the perfect feast loomed over my head and I feared that I would make the dreaded – dried out turkey.

One year I accomplished the opposite. I stuffed the bird. I know and in high altitude of 5280 feet above sea level. I don’t think it was cooked all the way through. I was horrified to find out that my mother-in-law, who never complains, was up in the night.

Then there was the first time we celebrated Thanksgiving in the mountains. I was caught unprepared in more ways than one. I didn’t have the right pots, so I steamed vegetables in cake and iron frying pans. I warmed the biscuits in bread pans. Hey. I have always been a MacGiver-type. I hadn’t accounted for the super high altitude of 10,500 feet so although the water was rolling, the potatoes were firm after an hour of boiling. After watching two sappy Christmas movies, we finally sat down to dinner at 9:00. My sister was by my side and we giggled throughout the turkey madness. My husband Danny kept the kids entertained. It was a feast to remember. At least we had silverware…

Now I roast that gargantuan sucker with panache. I wrote down my mother’s recipe long ago, but I will call her in the morning and ask for it again like every year. I’ll mix up the stuffing with the cooked giblets and bake it in a separate casserole. Then when the electronic thermometer beeps (I said panache and I won’t ever take chances on a rare bird again), signaling that the turkey is done, I’ll pour the drippings through a fat separator. Then, I’ll drizzle some of the juice over the stuffing. No one will know that the bird wasn’t stuffed.

This year I’ll make a list of all of my sides. Yep. I go overboard. Last year, I found the sweet potatoes in the microwave on Friday. I knew there was something else.

We’ll try to pack a lot into our day and enjoy our kids and my sister’s visit. I am hoping we will take a walk and enjoy the sunshine since Thanksgiving is almost a week early and the temperatures are still in the 60’s. We’ll watch old family videos and a football game or two.

This Thursday will be the 23rd time I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner. After all these years, I will relax and enjoy it. There will be no Black Friday shopping for me.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Roxy thought my Thanksgiving turkey was delish!

Have you ever been intimidated by cooking?

For safe turkey roasting tips, click here.

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Boycott the Madness

Back in the day, the Friday after Thanksgiving was the traditional kick-off for holiday shopping. After perusing the advertisements in the morning, we would devise a plan for the next day. Then we would enjoy time with our family by watching the Macy’s parade, football games, indulging in delicious food, giving thanks and then relaxing. I am not sure if it was the recession or someone’s complete and utter craziness, but retailers have opened their doors earlier and earlier, slowly creeping into the wee hours of the morning until it was MIDNIGHT.

But this year, they have done the unthinkable. The doors will open at Target, Toys R Us, Sears, and Walmart at 8:00 and 9:00 ON THANKSGIVING NIGHT! The ads will fill the newspaper on Thanksgiving morning, enticing consumers to abandon their evening by offering rock bottom prices on a few items.

This is just sick and wrong people! It is a national holiday. That is supposed to mean a day of rest for ALL Americans. But no! Think of those who are scheduled to work. They have to leave their homes with dinner not fully digested. Think of the people that need to save $20 on a digital camera, a particular toy, or blender. They will leave half their pumpkin pie on their plate as they grab their keys and dash for the car.

Consumerism will consume the best part of our family day. You know, that vegetative state we all enjoy when filled with tryptophan from the turkey.

We must take a stand! Yes take a stand to sit or lay down this Thanksgiving. Yes! Sit and eat and watch television like true Americans and then shop on Friday.

This puts even more pressure on small businesses so remember to shop at the independent retail stores that can’t compete. Thank them for opening their doors at a reasonable hour.

Will you join The Madness or take a stand with me?

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Date Swap!

Graduation celebrations, town festivals and picnics filled this Memorial Day weekend. The unofficial kick-off to summer rocked and yet I noticed an underlying somber mood. Americans were reminded of the service men and woman who gave up their lives for our country. I agree that we need to reflect and pay tribute, but Memorial Day and Labor Day are on the wrong weekends. They should be switched!

Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado Continue reading

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What’s Up with Susie?

"Susie is such a nice Christmas name. Did you know it was originally Hebrew?"

As I perused today’s newspaper, it occurred to me that I have one of the most cliché names for Christmas. According to Wikipedia, “A cliché or cliche is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.” The name “Susie” is cropping up in holiday advertising everywhere! “A toy for Susie” was on Santa’s list in a print ad along with “an iPod for Timmy.” What could be causing the sudden overuse of my name? Continue reading

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Cutting Up at Christmas


One of my favorite  holiday traditions is illustrating a family Christmas card. Over the years it has often included skiing and snowboarding off cliffs and roof tops. Some represented traditional themes like baking cookies together as a family and others illustrated what my family had been up to in the past year; a brag letter without the GPA!

This year I found myself drawn, (no pun intended) to a card I created two years ago. I knew it would be time-consuming and a huge challenge, but hey, that’s just how I roll.

As I began my first prototype – and there were many – I realized how much this year’s card resembled the basics of writing a story. Continue reading

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The Christmas Wish – 250 Word Flash Fiction

As Carol scrawled her signature inside the Thomas Kincade Christmas card, a chill sent a shiver like the touch of a cold fingertip along her spine. She buttoned her red cardigan and folded the greeting card. While studying the picture of the artist’s painting, Carol smiled at the warm glow emanating like amber from the windows of the cottage nestled in the snow. She imagined the home filled with friends and family. She glanced through the window above her desk at the dense fog and ice collecting on the gnarled oak trees. Her heart ached with the familiar sense of loss. “I miss you John.”  Continue reading

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How Patsy Ramsey Ruined My Life!

It all started when I decided to attend the Historic Boulder Homes for the Holidays Tour. Up until then, my required holiday decorations consisted of one fresh poinsettia and one Christmas tree. Little did I know that purchasing a ticket in 1994 to support Historic Boulder would ruin my life forever.

The tour included several homes located on “The Hill” in Boulder. As I trudged up the snowy path to a gingerbread-like house, I noticed a pretty black-haired lady walk up beside me. Being fairly outgoing, I said, “I love this wreath!”

“Why thank you very much!” she said. Then she flashed me a broad smile. I realized this must be the owner. As I entered, my breath was taken away by the all the fresh magnolia and pine swags above picture frames and mirrors with a large one draped over the stairway. Others graced long buffets and table tops. The scent of fresh flowers mixed with evergreens raised my spirits, but unbeknownst to me it was the first enticement in turning toward the dark side. I laudably gasped and said to her, “This is the most beautiful home I’ve ever seen. I only wish my mother was here in time for the tour. She would really enjoy this,” I said with tears in my eyes.

“Bring her over when she comes to town!” she replied, “I’m Patsy Ramsey by the way.” Continue reading

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