Accidental Cat Games

Dear Liza,

I told you about our advent calendar, where we keep track of the days until Christmas. Auntie Bridgett made us these cute bags and we put candy, trivia questions, or puzzles inside.

Last night we got a ball toss game. Since I used what we have at home for the game, it had yogurt container targets and three sheets of tin foiled rolled up into balls. We three took turns aiming for the targets, with the closest one counting for one point and the furthest one counting for four. The stairs in our house made it even more interesting.

And of course, any time balls are getting tossed around, Mouse the cat gets very interested. She watched for quite a while and then decided that this was really a game for her.

She hunkered down, pounced around, and even batted balls away from the targets. She is a very good goalie. Finally she cornered one and held onto it, bringing the game to a giggly end.

Who needs reindeer games? We have cat games!

Grandma Judy

What’s in the Bag?

Dear Liza,

I told you about our advent calendar, which Auntie Bridgett made from 20 small, beautifully decorated bags in a basket.

We have been opening them for a few days now, and I wanted to show you what we’ve found.

There is candy, of course. Dark chocolate for Auntie Bridgett, milk chocolate kisses for Grandpa Nelson, and fun-size Paydays for me.

I also hunted up some fun historic trivia online, such as :

What was the first purpose-written Christmas song? Answer: “Jesus Refulsit Omnium”, or “Jesus, Light of all Nations”, by St. Hilary of Poitier in AD 375.

Christmas crossword puzzle
  • How old is a six-foot Christmas tree? About 15 years old, depending on species.
  • Who said “How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts!” Ben Franklin
  • When was Christmas dinner illegal in America? The 1600s. Puritans forbade any and all merry making at Christmas, which they held to be a serious time.
    I even created a crossword puzzle (which, by the way, is harder than it looks) and my clever people solved it in record time. Some bags hold games that will take half an hour to play, and some just a little question. After all, we have lots of Christmas movies to watch!
  • Love,
  • Grandma Judy

Our Advent

Dear Liza,

Advent means when something important finally arrives, and Christmas Advent is the expectant time before Christmas. It is usually celebrated from the first of December to Christmas Day.

Our advent in Salinas

We start doing Christmas-y things like baking and holiday movies on December First, but our Advent Calendar only has 20 days ( it’s a long story) and it runs until Christmas Eve, so we start on the fourth. That’s today!

Auntie Bridgett made this pretty Advent Calendar a few years ago, from brown sacks and wonderful vintage Parisian Christmas pictures. In Salinas, it was suspended on a string by the fireplace. Here in Portland, it has found a home in a basket by the tree.

Inside each bag in a bit of fun Christmas trivia, a game to play, or a puzzle. There is also a candy treat and maybe a small gift. Each is held shut by a clothes pin with a curly number to keep things in order.

Bags in a basket!

And since today is December 5th, we will open the first bag this evening! Hooray for Christmas!


Grandma Judy

Election Advent Calendar

Dear Liza,

I am so excited about the upcoming election, it feels like Christmas! The Presidency, and all those Senate seats, are up for grabs. These races will decide how our country goes forward from our current mess, and I am ready for a new start.

So I am taking my nervous energy and making stuff! The usual daily Art-ober challenge, of course, but also, an Election 2020 advent calendar.

I wanted it to be flag-inspired, but I am short on colored paper. Not a problem! A few sheets of kids-level Crayola sketch pad and Liquitex Basics acrylic paint got me to the right zone. Plain white paper cut in slightly wonky stars carried the theme.

The Basics

I put the stars in place, some of them pulling away from the field and trying to escape (I know the feeling, stars), I cut the red into ten sort-of-regular stripes and glued them to the bottom

Stars trying to escape!

I cut and glued, all the time wondering what sort of trivia would be tied to this game. Trivia is sort of where I live, intellectually speaking.

My own Stars and Stripes!

By the time I was done, I had the game figured out. See those tiny numbers on each stripe? We will use this to countdown the twenty days until the November 3rd election. Each stripe represents two days. Each evening we will snip (or fold, or color, we’ll figure it out) that section of the stripe and I will ask a question about Presidential history, culled from random internet searches.

Is he reaching for his flask?

”Which President was the heaviest drinker?”

“Which President came from the largest family?”

“Which President’s favorite movie was “Hunt for Red October?”

Who loved Hunt for Red October? I mean, except me?

The winner will get an as-yet-undecided prize.

Now we just play, and mail out letters to encourage folks to vote, and wait, and vote, vote, vote!!


Grandma Judy