Christmas Eve in the Neighborhood

Dear Liza,

The rain stopped Christmas Eve, and we got to go for a walk. It was long-underwear, extra scarf wearing cold, but clear and dry. I put on my light-up coat so we didn’t get killed by traffic, and we headed out.

We had expected, with everyone being in lock-down, that there would be more decorations than usual, but there weren’t. Maybe folks are feeling sad, not being able to visit and travel. Maybe they are saving money this year. But for whatever reason, there were fewer houses all lit up.

What there was, though, was pretty nifty. This house goes nuts every year, and I think they add more lights every year, as well. They are lit up from their front fence to inside their front window, and it is staggeringly bright.

These are very traditional decorations. Some of them, like the gingerbread people cut-outs on the far right, I remember from my childhood.

Other houses use a more unconventional set of things to celebrate the holiday, like this “Baby Jesus as television static” nativity scene. It was surreal and wonderful.

On the same porch was this just slightly possessed Easter Bunny, escorted by Malchior and Balthazar.

Then around a corner, we saw a truck idling in the middle of the very dark street. A man was calling to some other folks… offering candy canes at the end of a long handled fishing net.

Holy Smokes, it was Covid Santa, out and about! He and Mrs. Claus, all dressed up in their finery, were ho ho ho-ing around the neighborhood. What a nice surprise!

With that, we figured we had seen the best Christmas Eve could offer, and headed home for hot toddies and “Charlie Brown’s Christmas”.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday, sweetie. I will see you soon.


Grandma Judy

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 Comes in the Mail

Dear Liza,

Since our family and friends are spread up and down California and Oregon, and giving gifts in person is just not possible this year, we have started sending more gifts of food. Companies like Pittman and Davis, Hickory Farms, Harry and David, The Fruit Company, Temecula Olive Oil Company, Nut Cravings, and Barnett’s make and send pastries, nuts, and fruit that are not inexpensive, but always delicious. Food is the perfect gift to send to folks you love but don’t see very often. It doesn’t clutter up the house (at least not for long!), it is always the right size, and it makes for interesting snacking.

My nuts celebrating a package from Nut Cravings

This year, with so many wonderful treats coming to our front door, I have gotten good at making whole meals out of them! The Chipotle cheese from Auntie Bridgett’s brother became a spicy quesadilla, eaten alongside an orange from her Aunt Chris. Afternoon snacks of almonds and dried fruit from your own family make for healthy mid-afternoon eating, and the lemon olive oil from Julie will help turn some weary kale into a tasty salad.

Besides the professionally packaged gifts, we have gotten boxes full of wrapped presents. Auntie Christy and Cousin Kyle sent theirs padded with pages and pages of the Los Angeles Times newspaper! It was so much fun reading the articles. She even included the funny pages, and we saw that that clever woman does the LA Times crossword and Sudoku…in ink! Very impressive.

Clever Christy!

Of course, with three of us in the house, and all of us ordering some things that we couldn’t find in town, the new rule is, if it’s not addressed to you, don’t open it! We don’t want to spoil the surprise.

I hope you get lots of wonderful presents!


Grandma Judy