It’s Called Love

First posted on December 28, 2013.

When we were younger and would gather together with all of our extended family for the holidays, there were a few uncles we would avoid like the plague. One of them, in particular, would freak us out by placing his hands around our faces and lifting us up off the ground. Later, when my sisters complained of this mistreatment, he said, “Hey, I did you a big favor! Look how tall you are now. I didn’t do it to her (he glanced meaningfully in my general direction) and look…”

My sister reminded us of another practice that our own dad would engage in when we were little. He would gently stroke our forehead until we fell into a stupor and then would give it a sudden, smart smack.

We chortled as we fondly reminisced about these and other sadistic Korean practices.

“What was that last one called?” my brother asked as he wiped away tears of laughter.

“Love,” my sister responded without hesitation.

After Christmas breakfast, my siblings and I remained at the table chatting. My brother disappeared and returned again with a piece of paper. He began industriously drawing up a list.

And then it happened. My brother became that uncle:

Remember, kids…it’s called love!

Sitting in the Basement

My parents, siblings and I tended to ignore the fact that our house was a mere ten minute drive from our nation’s capital and all it had to offer. When we would find ourselves together again over the holidays, we would spend every day sitting around chewing the fat, both literally and figuratively. Our all-day gabfests would be punctuated only by meals during which the conversation would move seamlessly from the couch to the table. It never occurred to us that this could be considered a squandered opportunity until our family circle began to expand. When my sister got married and her athletic, go-getter husband from New York started coming home for the holidays with her, he would pace like a caged animal while we indulged in our favorite pastime of talking and eating, eating and talking. In his frustration, my brother-in-law mournfully dubbed this particular brand of torture: “Sitting in the Basement.”

Should we go see the thriller that just came out, or hear my sister re-tell the plot? Please believe me when I tell you, my sister’s rendition was far, far more gripping than watching it on the big screen could ever be. Score one for Sitting in the Basement. Go to the Sackler Gallery, or hear my dad’s stories about life in the Korean countryside that presented us with a much more vivid picture than any painting could? Definitely the latter! By all means, and without a doubt – Sitting in the Basement! A) Go to a performance at the Kennedy Center, or B) Clutch our bellies howling with laughter through tears, desperately trying not to pee ourselves as we listened to one of my little brother’s comedy routines? B) Always, always B! Sitting in the Basement for the win! Go out to eat at a restaurant, or eat my mom’s Korean food laced with vegetables yanked out of the backyard only moments before? Hello?! Do I even have to say it? Every holiday my poor, long-suffering brother-in-law would helplessly watch his dreams of exploring Great Falls Park, hitting the museums, or just emerging into the light of day slip through his fingers and swirl away into the vortex otherwise known as: Sitting in the Basement.

These days when we get together, my brother-in-law and husband escape from the house more often, but we still get to do a lot of Sitting in the Basement. This winter break, over never-ending platters of food, my dad regaled us with more stories about his childhood and the foods they ate, or rather didn’t get to eat. In my next post, we can pretend that we’re Sitting in the Basement while I share them with you.

Our Christmas Story

In days of old, it was foretold that, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

And it came to pass that people traveled great distances…

Every one came to adore the new baby…

The shepherds came with their sheepdogs…

There were three kings…

…and although it is not widely known, there were a couple of queens too…

There were gifts…

And a multitude of heavenly host sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men“:

A new season

I’ve been finding it hard to let go of the Autumn, but this weekend was a turning point.

On Friday I got the kids their advent calendars:

IMG_0471On Saturday I dropped my son off at a party and took the younger two on a million and one errands. We found these very cute Christmas crackers:

IMG_0469We took a break from errands with a stop at one of my kids’ favorite places, a frozen yogurt shop called  Sweet Frog. My girl did her Happy Dance:

We all met back up at the garden center to pick out a Christmas tree.


My daughter found the perfect one:


Worried that the tree she picked would have to be lopped off at the top to fit into our living room, Colin tried to steer her toward a slightly shorter tree. IMG_0455Do you see her lower lip in this picture?

Of course, my daughter prevailed, as she always does. And she was absolutely right. It is the perfect tree and it fits perfectly in the living room, no lopping required:

IMG_0470Now she’s desperate to decorate the tree, but it’s just been too busy…My son has been working on his term paper all weekend, (thereby preventing me from using my computer, which is why I’m working on this post at 2 am). Various parties, piano lessons, etc. etc. have otherwise filled our days and nights all weekend.

While my son was slogging away at my computer, I cooled my heels working on these yarn and ribbon-covered styrofoam trees. I had to make 15 of these for the Holiday Fair at my kids’ school. I was grumbling and grousing for days as I made those 15 trees, gradually losing all sensation in two of my fingers from glue gun burns. I turned in my quota of trees, but for some reason, I decided to make a few more and now I simply. can’t. stop. Something is seriously wrong with me…

So, I guess what I’m saying is:  I’m moving on…Fall was glorious, but there’s a lot to look forward to this season, too…

And finally, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…Powerball, pah! Mega Millions – meh! Here’s where the real action is as Alicia, Janel, and Jeanette will tell you. These  THREE, yes, count ’em THREE entrants left a reply and are now in the drawing for a prize. Thanks for your suggestions for stress-relief! Tomorrow I’ll have my daughter pick a name out of the hat & will send the winner a prize!

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