Family Traditions of Christmas Past

How different would Christmas be if I wasn’t surrounded by family?

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Opening packages would be such a bore,

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If I wasn’t encircled by cousins galore.

Christmas chaos.

A lonely gal Christmas sock affair,

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Instead of hanging stockings by the chimney with double the care.

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All dressed up with nowhere to go,

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Instead of trying to be one of the stars of the show.

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Christmas pageants with one can be so annoying,

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But with two, the show is much more enjoying.

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Lonely lonely would Christmas celebrating be,

Without the decades of fun with family.

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From past to present with futures near,

Hold those who are dear with your heart full of cheer because you never know when they may not be here…

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Cheers to keeping the memories, traditions and spirits of Christmases past alive and kickin’.

CBXB

CBXB!

My Gma the Great

I’ve never been one to take my family or time with them for granted, so it was real bummer when my Gma passed away two years ago. Not only was she one of my best buddies, I know I inherited her brutal honesty, ornery streak and love of having my fingernails polished.

To celebrate what would have been her 94 birthday today, an ode to my Gma the great!

Gma

Always one to laugh at surprises…

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…you took to my photobombing like it was one of your most treasured prizes.

Photo Bomb!

You never let anyone forget…

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…when it was time to celebrate you bigger than the national debt.

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I learned from the best…

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…how to celebrate my life full of zest.

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Now seriously Gma, you taught me to party harder than Mae West.

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A love of leopard you instilled….

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…which is now being passed down to the next generation, who’s thrilled.

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It’s so fun you two met at a skating rink…

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…even if after 44 years you still had to steal kisses quicker than an eye blink.

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Although I took after Gpa avoiding kisses, rather craving a hard drink…

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…you always insisted on showing your love, making sure everyone was in sync.

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Beauty sleep and a hairnet was apparently all that you needed…

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…but truly it was your hair ‘dos that always succeeded.

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So it was with glasses and confidence that I superseded…

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…the grace and confidence that you always heeded.

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I wish I would have felt more impeded.

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The Iowa State Fair you never did love,

probably because you couldn’t wear foot gloves.

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It will never be the same, not bringing you a corn dog…

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…and discussing how I ate my way through the fair like a prize-winning hog.

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Circled blacked out dates always meant you had a companion…

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…you always loved attention bigger than the Grand Canyon.

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Attending every homemade Christmas pageant we made…

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…and most likely secretly prayed…

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…that I would never end up a lonely old maid.

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The first to pass of five sisters, who lived out their misters,

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…you loved being pampered more than a fever blister.

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Your nails were painted the day before you passed…

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…and Jell-O shots without you will seem so miscast.

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Regardless of view near or afar, life will never be the same…

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…without you as my shining rock star.

Love and miss you Gma.

CBXB!

This is How We Roll

Wheelin'

Rollin’ around.

While visiting Iowa last week, I resided with my Gma in her studio apartment at a retirement home.

Gma

My roommie.

I not only found myself without Internet access along with shitty phone service and an overabundance of daytime TV, I also found myself without a vehicle among miles and miles of cornfields.

Among the cornfields.

Nope, still not heaven. Just Iowa.

Although we love one another, being cooped up in 400 square feet with someone for days can lead one to be a tad irritated edgy claustrophobic.

We decided that venturing a few blocks to the town square shouldn’t be too big of a feat. And while Gma is perfectly capable of walking, traipsing up and down streets isn’t her strong suit at 91, so we borrowed a vehicle from her buddy.

Wheels

Motorized by CBXB.

We were a traffic stopping duo, as cars had to wait for minutes while I popped wheelies to get Gma up and over a curb to the restaurant where we intended to be ladies who lunch.

Selfie!

Selfies cause gridlock when you take them in the middle of the road.

Streets

Bricks aren’t kind to wheelchairs. Or their drivers.     Photo – Wikipedia

After scooping the loop down Main Street a time or two, Gma announced that she was thirsty and I kicked into a gear so high I think I left a trail of smoke knowing a cold bottle of wine awaited our arrival.

Cheese!

Happy hour awaits!

We decided it was best to sit out on the porch and watch everyone else (while we also talked about them) drive by in actual vehicles as we sipped (well, she swigged, I gulped) our evening vino.

Cheers!

Busy bodies on a balcony deck.

Who needs a rental car when you can wheel it around town?

That’s just how we roll.

CBXB

CBXB!

Trashtacular 90th Birthday Shenanigans

Can you imagine turning the big nine-oh? I can’t either (really, I can’t imagine my liver lasting that long). But my family certainly turned up the class when we were celebrating behind the scenes at my Grandma’s 90th birthday shindig, starting off with her heart bursting in pride at my inability to wash off rub on tattoos I’d received at the Iowa State Fair the day prior.

Tough enough to celebrate 90?

Tough enough to celebrate 90?

Of course we threw Gma an appropriate celebration complete with cake, cookies, punch, old friends and best (depends on how you look at it) of all  – family.

Nonagenarian

Nonagenarian in her birthday glory!

All five sisters are still alive and kickin' it into their 90s.

Party girls! All five sisters are still alive and kickin’ it into their 90s.

Whenever the seven of us are now in the same state, my immediate fam always feels the needs to take a photo just in case we use it at holiday time.

Might be another Christmas card!

Smile! Might be the Christmas card this year…but it for sure won’t be because the babies aren’t looking into the camera. Plus, why do I have two dark holes as eyes?

During the four-hour throw down, a few of us cousins snuck off to Aunt Crispy’s house for a quick cocktail.

You pose

None of the 90-year-olds even noticed we went missing.

The celebrating really started when we spiked the punch and got out the elaborate appetizers at the after party.

Party food!

Nothing says fancy like Anderson Erickson French Onion Dip and party sized Ruffles!

We took turns primping in the new hand mirror my sister gifted me…

Fairest in the land?

Definitely not the fairest in the land.

I cheated on Captain for the first time ever (hurt so good) and used Lady Bligh for Skinny Pirates.

Cheater!

You can catch me on the next episode of Cheaters.

Friendly, loving sign language was exchanged as I “made” family members sign Gma’s guest book, accompanied by a favorite memory with her.

All smiles forcibly signing the guest book (even though it's her own son).

Tough times signing the book (even though it’s her own son).

With the addition of B and B, we were sure to keep the after-party baby friendly.

This twosome

Party animals taking notes from Auntie CBXB.

As we turned their binkies into new wine glass decor.

Binki wine charm

Binky booze charms will be all the rage. Mark my words.

We then felt the need to forgo glasses and just pass the bottle, in old-fashioned, celebratory, heathen-style family fun.

Who needs a glass?

Who needs a glass?

Once we threw the stemware out, we felt it appropriate to just use our hands to eat left over cake.

Stuff the cake

Don’t forget to lick under your fingernails.

And what family birthday party is complete without someone taking their shirt off and using it as a turban?

Turban Times

Uncle T’s head was cold. Really cold.

Taking one’s shirt off also means you can just let it all hang out…all over the kitchen table.

Gut Strut

Bonding time over the gut strut.

You may think that all of this white trash birthday behavior would be enough to make one go mad…

Cry!

I don’t care about your gut Uncle T! This mirror won’t answer my question. AM I PRETTIER THAN SNOW F’ING WHITE?!

But I was still concerned with not being the fairest in all of the land.

I’m sure you’re wondering if my clan is available to attend your next family gathering. The answer is yes. But we do require chips, dip and booze. Lots of booze. Oh, and a piece of your square footage to lay our weary party heads when it’s all over.

CBXB

CBXB!

Iowa State Fair Bound, Baby!

We're off!

We’re off!

Teddy and I are taking a blogging break to eat our way through the Iowa State Fair (well, I will be eating my way through the fair. Ted will just continue to eat, sleep, eat, eat and eat his way through life).

While in Iowa, I’m also going to party down with my Grandma as she celebrates her 90 years on the planet…wonder if I can get her to do Jell-O shots at this shin dig?

Go Granny Go!

Wonder where I get my party skills? Look no further!

I’ll keep you posted.

Cheers!

CBXB

The Ugliest Duck I Ever Saw

I always admired a duck that I gave to my grandma (Gma) for her birthday when I was about four years old. My mom told me that I could pick anything out in the store and I selected the most beautiful piece of poultry that my young eyes had ever laid eyes on. I mean, what’s not to love about a greenish, purplish, blueish, yellowish, its color depends-on-the-kind-of-light you hold it in (my motto of the gaudier the better began at birth, apparently) four-inch duck figurine?

You know you want one too. Admit it.

I assumed that Gma absolutely adored this duck. She kept it in her china hutch for as long as I can remember, prominently (I clearly mistook for proudly) displayed on the front shelf and every time she caught me peering at it through the fancy glass doors, she’d remind me that I gave her that bird. When she moved to a new address and sold the duck’s hutch home, she moved its nest to the top of her TV.

As Gma has gotten older, she downsized her square footage and began weeding out her ‘pretties’ (as she calls them).  And the gift givers have received their presents of past back – I now own a frame with “Best Grandma Ever” engraved on its front and a magnet that says “Home is where your Grandma is,” (lucky me). Because of her love of the birthday duck, I was shocked when it was one of the chosen pretties she handed to me.

Never one to mince words, Gma said “that’s the ugliest damn duck I ever saw,” (such a sweet, old lady) and put it into a box for me. Wondering why in the hell she ever kept the ugly duckling in exhibition for decades, as I went to set it next to her picture it dawned on me.  She kept the heinous bird out for the same reason I’m keeping it on my beautiful mirrored dresser (where the duck sticks out like a quack in a pack of meows) – it reminds me of her.  It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

She still has to tolerate the damn bird, as it taunts her picture daily!