It was nice to be able to sleep in for the first time on a Sunday in weeks. When I did get going, I made Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pancakes. Yummy. The last of the peanut butter and baking cocoa with a little brown sugar in my regular mix. I burned a bit of the second one; they were so dark from the cocoa, it was hard to tell when they were cooked.
As soon as I finished breakfast, I headed for the back room. I had to sort through the piles of donations I have before I could even get to the Christmas boxes. I have a bag to go to Studio LuLoo for their kids and to help them with their organization, a bag of books and videos to go to the Oaklyn Library, a bag of records to go to the Haddon Township Library, and a bag of donations that'll go to the Logan Presbyterian Church Thrift Shop eventually when I remember and have the time to get there. I tidied up around the dolls' things and put Carrie and Dulcie the Cabbage Patch dolls in their Christmas dresses. (Dulcie, the more girlish red-head, wears a fancy Build-a-Bear gold and white outfit. Tomboyish Carrie with the short blond "curls" gets a soft vintage flannel Christmas nightgown.)
After all that was organized, I could finally put up the things in the Santa Bag. The big red felt Santa Bag with the white yarn tie was originally the wrapping for my heavy winter coat. It was so big, I decided it could be put to other uses as well. It now holds all the Christmas items that I either put out first (the placemats, coasters, table runner, garlands, mistletoe, wreath) or just don't fit anywhere else (the nativity, the needlepoint poinsettia magnet, the box with the New Year's party supplies, the big bow that goes on the door of my bedroom).
It took me a while to figure out where to put some things. I wanted to find another place for the nativity besides the coffee table in the music area...but it's so big, there really isn't any other place it fits. After struggling to find room for the big gold tinsel garland that used to be on the CD rack, I came to the conclusion I really didn't have a place for it anymore. Twisting it around the CD rack was too much of a pain. I ditched the gold garland and the twist-tie poinsettias (I've had them since college), but kept the smaller white and gold garland. It's draped over one of the DVD shelves right now - I'll find a better place for it later. The mistletoe went above the front door; the linens went on the table and scattered around the room for hot drinks.
Did the garlands next. They take a while to get right. There are five fake greenery garlands. The largest, which goes around the two windows across from the living room table, used to be the garland Mom used for the upstairs banister in the house at North Cape May. The smaller one with the velvet book hanging off the center that goes over the two windows in my bedroom was used in my bedroom (later Mom's office) in the North Cape May house. The remaining three for the kitchen window and the windows that overlook the park and the pathway to my side of the house are all the same and were originally used for doorways. I mostly twist-tie them to unused curtain rods nowadays. I tack them where I have to, but the wood used for the walls in this apartment is so hard, it kills my fingers.
Finished the decorating just in time to have leftover soup for lunch, prepare my rent, and get ready for work. My True Value Hardware Christmas Collection cassettes and CDs accompanied me while I decorated and ate. There was a True Value Hardware just off Cape May's downtown for many years. Mom bought one of the collections there in 1988. It probably wasn't a surprise that I eventually would as well.
Volume 28 was one of the first cassettes I ever bought for myself with my own money, and my first Christmas album. I loved it so much, I bought every Christmas collection they sold after that. Even after we moved off Cape Island and I went to college, I continued to buy my annual True Value Hardware Christmas collection when I was home for the holidays. It was a tradition. To my disappointment, in 2001, the Cape May True Value became an Ace Hardware (which they remain to this day), which brought an abrupt end to my collecting. I still have all of the collections from 28 through 35, along with 39, which I found at a yard sale in Audubon a few years ago. (Not terribly surprising, since there is a small True Value Hardware store there.)
Work was, once again, on-and-off steady. It got a little busy later in the day, which was a problem. We really didn't have enough people to handle even mild crowds. Thankfully, by the time I was done, it was quieting down. I didn't have a relief. I was able to leave quickly with no problems.