Thursday, December 19, 2013

Light Up the Holidays

Started the day with an errand run, including stops at both libraries. I did the near-by Oaklyn Library first. It was about 10:30 when I got in. Other than a few people on the computers and the librarian, there wasn't a whole lot going on there. I organized the DVDs and gave the children's books a quick once-over before heading out.

It was a gorgeous day for a ride in Newton River Park. It was probably in the mid 40s, fairly normal for this time of year, and sunny and breezy as can be. The ice on the river is finally defrosting, and the snow was gone from most of the grass. Despite the nice day, I only saw a woman and her frisky dog out, along with a flock of Canadian geese poking around for an early lunch.

The Haddon Township Library was even quieter. I did my best to organize the kids' DVDs and try to get them all in, but the S shelf is still overflowing. One of the librarians said to stop removing duplicates - kids take them out. Great, but some of the duplicates are of older titles. Wouldn't it make more sense to free up some room by removing the older, probably scratched copy? And some of the kids' series really need to be thinned out. No matter how popular they are, they do not need 500 Scooby Doo or Pokemon DVDs. I had more luck with the adult titles. Cleared out a couple of foreign films, which actually fit in their slots for once.

I settled for taking out a few animated DVDs. I have plenty of holiday movies to watch this week. They just got in the newest Strawberry Shortcake DVD, Berry Bitty Mysteries. I also went with two holiday-themed shows, Max & Ruby's Christmas and Kung Fu Panda Holiday.

Went straight across the street to Friendly's for lunch after I finished at the library. It was past 1PM when I arrived. There were two grandmothers with their young daughters, but otherwise, it wasn't that busy. I watched the kids eat with their grandparents while enjoying a Turkey Club and French Fries and admired the decorations. The large nostalgic black-and-white photos of Westmont and Friendly's on the walls of the dining area were "wrapped" with shiny Christmas paper to look like presents, with tinsel garland and bows hanging on them.

I made a couple of quick stops next. Dollar Tree was busy again, and they didn't have nutmeg (which I'm almost out of) among their spices. I just left there without anything and went a couple of doors down to Thriftway instead. I wanted eggs and milk anyhow, and they have the cheapest brown eggs in the area. Their price on contact lens solution wasn't great, but I didn't feel like going anywhere else. Did better with vinegar - it's 99 cents for a bottle almost the size of the one at Dollar Tree.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at home, working on the Molasses Roll-Outs and watching cartoons and movies. Started with Berry Bitty Mysteries. Suspense in all forms, as you can guess from the title, is the theme of this set. The first story has Orange Blossom scared of the monster from the story Blueberry Muffin was telling the Baby Berrykins earlier. When there's a blackout in Berry Bitty City, she lets her imagination run away with her...and eventually freaks the other girls out, too. The second story was my favorite. Blueberry Muffin gets so into the books about detective Patty Persimmon, she starts to dress like her and act like her...and neglect her friends in the process. (Considering how often I've obsessed over books and movies myself, I can understand how Blueberry got so carried away.) In the third story, Pupcake and Custard, feeling bored when Strawberry is planning a tea party, run off to find someone to play with. Strawberry's tea party becomes a search party as her friends show her that it's ok to be worried, especially when someone you love is missing or you're scared.

Switched to The House Without a Christmas Tree as I got the cookies in the oven. I read the book this morning and thought this would be a perfect time for the movie. All 10-year-old Addie Mills (Lisa Lucas) wants for Christmas is a real tree in her home. While her grandmother (Mildred Natwick) and best friend Carla Mae (Alexia Kenin) support her wish, her dad (Jason Robards) keeps saying "no." Christmas trees - and his daughter - remind him too much of the beloved wife he lost years ago.  It'll take all of Addie's determination and intelligence to remind her stubborn father that charity begins at home, and it's never too late for a heart to heal.

I love this sweet, thoughtful story of a girl, her father, and one special Christmas. This beloved TV movie from 1972 was very popular and lead to a series of Addie Mills holiday movies (alas, the subsequent stories have not yet been put out on DVD). Linda Young has a site that can tell you more about Addie and her world. Highly recommended for people looking for quieter Christmas programming, especially for girls.

It was past 5 when I finally finished the Molasses Roll-Outs. Betty Crocker calls them "Merry Christmas Cookies" in their early 60s Cooky Book. The original recipe calls for honey and lemon flavoring, but I prefer the spicier molasses variant. I'm not the only one, either - this is probably my most requested Christmas cookie. Many of my co-workers at the Acme and several of my cousins often say they look forward to them. However, while they're tasty and fun to decorate, because they're cut-out cookies, they take a while to make. That, coupled with the fact that they're made with shortening and are fairly rich, is why I don't make them more often.

I threw together leftovers and a can of chicken chunks for Chicken, Rice, and Vegetable Soup while watching Max & Ruby episodes. There's only one Christmas episode on Max & Ruby's Christmas, but it's a cute one. Max keeps asking Ruby questions about Santa. Not satisfied with her constant answer of "because," he sleeps downstairs to find out for himself what Santa really does when he comes down the chimney.

Since I spent most of the afternoon and evening standing behind a stove indoors, I decided to go for a nice, long walk after dinner to check out the neighborhood Christmas lights. Last year, I didn't have the time to look at Christmas lights until the day after New Year's, and I did it on my bike during a cold ride home from work. 

This time, I picked the right night for a stroll. It was in the mid-upper 30s, chilly but not so much that the walk was unbearable. I went down Goff Avenue and around the neighborhood near the school, then down behind Kendall Avenue and back up to where my sister lives on Kendall, then around to Manor Avenue and down Newton. While the people across the street who used to literally wrap their house with lights have either moved or decided against putting all that up this year, there were lots of other displays that were just as cool. My favorite lights were the blue and white icicles on a few houses that flashed to look like they were "melting." The cutest inflatable had Pooh and Tigger on a sleigh, trying to get a reluctant Eeyore to pull them down the hill.

When I got home, I ran Garfield's Christmas Special as I finished crocheting my second new Christmas coaster. Jon takes Garfield and Odie to his parents' farm to spend the holiday. While Jon and his brother Doc Boy await their presents and beg their father to read them Christmas stories about Binky the Clown, Garfield makes friends with tough-minded Grandma. Between getting the star on the Christmas tree and trying to get Doc Boy and Jon to stop asking when Christmas morning is, Garfield finds a special gift that may make Grandma's Christmas a little merrier.

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