Tag Archives: Holidays

Garage Sale Tale

Who invented the first garage sale?

Perhaps Uk and Ukette of prehistoric fame discovered the extra rocks sitting around their cave were gathering dust. Some authorities on ancient civilizations claim the Egyptians, disgusted at having to rent extra Pyramids to accommodate junk their kids brought home from college, decided they’d had enough.

Whoever originated the concept did so without the aid of the Internet. In consulting websites, I discovered one (researched by a Ph.D. in Junkology) that listed 101 tips for running a successful sale. Googling “garage sale” produces more than six million results. Not surprising, because every single respondent visited our small town during Labor Day weekend.

Because of our city-wide, garage-sale tradition, hundreds of women price their husbands’ lucky 1979 The Doobie Brothers tour T-shirts and golf clubs, while men sneak wives’ five-closet shoe collections and 537 Longaberger® baskets out to garages and driveways. All hope to dispose of such “useless” clutter before spouses discover the absence — only to realize that by holiday’s end, the men have bought six sets of used golf clubs and the women have purchased purses to match all the shoes.

My passion for cheap sometimes has strained the seams of my house and my husband’s patience. So I prepared for this garage sale mega-event with moderation in mind.

Besides, Hubby hid the truck keys.

So I rode my bike, carrying a backpack and limited cash.

I chatted with half the town as I bought storybooks and toys for my grandkids, CDs to replace favorite cassette tapes, and a muffin pan to replace those I’d received at a wedding shower — 42  years ago.

I’d have to write a book to list all the excellent, useful items I passed by. (Sigh.) Certainly, not all garage sales present such a tempting array. Nowhere did I encounter the used toothbrushes, deodorants or surgical instruments (!) some Internet cohorts encountered.

Unlike one yard sale queen, I didn’t buy a white toilet plunger decorated with a bride and groom, labeled, “We took the plunge.” Nor did I buy a fountain constructed of five stainless steel bedpans with a frog (also created from a bedpan) poised to dive in.

Call me deprived. But I arrived home only $30 poorer with a backpack full of “valuables.”

Miraculously, my husband, who rates garage sales only slightly above taxes and lima beans, had changed his tune. Seeing the multitude, he sold our old lawnmower within an hour.

I was glad he reformed his attitude toward garage sales. But next year, before I make my annual rounds, will I have to hide all my shoes?

 

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your all-time favorite garage sale find?

 

 

Carding

The U.S. government’s recent studies concluded that women purchase 85 to 90 percent of all greeting cards. How many thousands that report cost, no one is saying. Uncle Sam could have asked any mall shopper and received the same information for free. But we women consider the research money well spent … because we like to be proven right.

Let’s discuss the origins of these fascinating communication tools. The Chinese sent Happy New Year cards centuries ago. Apparently, the Egyptians also shared in the ancient greeting card market. I find elegant Oriental characters and pictures easier to imagine than a card containing hieroglyphics. Gushy sentiments conveyed by zoned-out, staring people and creepy birds and snakes? Egyptians no doubt could distinguish between “I love you madly” and “Death to you, neighbor, and your loud 2 a.m. parties,” but I would find it challenging.

With polygamy the norm among ancient families, spending statistics might have been reversed: perhaps men spent more on cards than women. Take, for example, King Solomon, who boasted 700 wives. Every day was his anniversary.

No records have survived to tell us how much Solomon, Confucius or Cleopatra paid for a card, but I’ll bet contemporary consumers shell out more. Gone are the days when we “just bought a card” to commemorate an occasion. Today, it often proves cheaper to “just buy a gift.”

Craftsy folks have returned to creating handmade cards. Recipients of these works of art ponder how special they make them feel — and suffer intense guilt if they dare toss them. (The cards, not the givers.)

No grandmother can dispose of a card sporting a pink seven-legged puppy and two purple Doritos that states, “Gadma U nice.” My current grandkid card count is 937. I’m thinking of building an addition to house my collection. Or at least, adding another refrigerator or two.

However, the following are greeting cards I would rather not receive:

  • Thoughts of you . . . make me want to leave the country.
  • Congratulations … We heard you’re expecting twins!

When illness strikes, I don’t want cheery thoughts. What I’d really like: “Enclosed is an official edict from God commanding you to stay in bed three days, during which no one is allowed to ask you about dinner.”

Most women would treasure Mother’s Day cards with similar language: “Mom, I love you enough to clean bathrooms.” Or, “To the perfect mother of my children: you have not, do not, and never will look fat.”

Brace yourself: I am about the reveal the ultimate romantic card that knows no gender prejudices, covers every occasion, and never becomes obsolete.

Needed:

  • one piece of paper, folded in half.
  • one pen (or crayon if the kids have absconded with all your pens)

Front sentiment: I love you.

Inside sentiment: I’m sorry. You were right.

Sign your name.

 

What card would you like most to receive?

 

Loony the Lamb

For years I celebrated holidays by directing church musicals. One fateful Easter I chose Watch the Lamb, which focused on Jesus as the Lamb of God. A live lamb would make the ancient story come alive.

During rehearsals, the cast greeted our lamb with enthusiasm.

Church janitors did not. “Do something before that animal pees all over — or worse.”

Why hadn’t I considered this minor complication? Especially as the lamb made entrances down different aisles. Most Passover lambs in 30 A.D. did not wear Pampers®

 What other option existed?

God provided the perfect solution: we would cover the stage and church aisles with the burlap-like backside of my recently discarded carpet.

However, God didn’t send angels to cut, arrange and duct tape the carpet throughout the sanctuary. After two unspiritual, aching-knee days, all my bases were covered. No worries now, right?

Wrong.

Loony the Lamb had his own ideas about entrances and exits. A hay bale helped keep him quiet, but for obvious reasons, we avoided feeding him too much.

The 60-member cast’s noise made Loony more nervous than your Aunt Nellie. Kids petted him without mercy. Bright lights and heat caused him to hyperventilate. During dress rehearsal, Loony the Lamb collapsed onstage in a wooly, quivering heap.

Watch the Lamb? No audience would want to watch this.

Two animal lovers carried the prostrate lamb outside while we prayed — and Loony recovered. One guy built a pen outside the stage door where our prima donna cropped grass between scenes. Visiting hours were restricted, with no autographs. We did everything but paint a star on Loony’s gate.

Thankfully, he showed no new signs of cardiac arrest. His brassy baaaaa erupted only once during performances — during solemn prayer after the crucifixion.

Our ingenious actors shifted and blocked escape routes, all the while looking very holy.

One child earned my special appreciation: “Loony was peein’ on my foot the whole time Jesus was on the cross, but I didn’t say nothin’.”

Even after Loony returned home, I couldn’t shake off sheep. Scriptures about lambs leaped from the Bible’s pages. Jesus frequently called his followers His sheep. After Watch the Lamb, I figured He didn’t mean it as a compliment.

Nevertheless, the King of Heaven volunteered to take on the title “Lamb of God” — what God in His right mind would do that?

Only a King who loves confused, clueless sheep more than His own life.

Even one dithery pageant director named Rachael — which means “lamb.”

 

Have you participated in a pageant/play that taught you more than you expected?

 

 

 

 

Lovin’ It

Me, a prim 6-year-old

Vestiges of first-grade shyness still cling to me when Valentine’s Day nears.

As my class colored purple-lined mimeographed hearts, our teacher explained we’d soon celebrate a love holiday.

“Ooooooh.” The boys made kissing noises.

Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween — none of these turned my face red as my Crayola. I’d even heard yucky rumors people kissed at midnight on New Year’s Eve. But my parents always sent me to bed early, so I didn’t have to witness it.

Now in school, I celebrated mushy Valentine’s Day. Despite reservations, I enjoyed decorating a white doughnut bag with pink hearts — though I had no idea why. Then our teacher explained we, like mail carriers, would deliver valentine cards to our classmates’ bags to make them feel special.

Though I didn’t consider Scary Larry Williams and Donny the Dirt Adams special, I could live with that. On Columbus Day, we only sang songs about a dead sailor who got lost. On Valentine’s Day, I ate the red-hot cinnamon hearts off a pink-frosted cupcake, then washed it down with cherry Kool-Aid.

I labored over my class list, reserving ballerina valentines for my girlfriends. For boys, a lower species, I selected animals. Ugly ones.

I suffered my first case of writer’s cramp printing names on the cards. This love stuff was hard work!

But I received pink ballerinas and multiple Snow Whites in return. I even enjoyed those sent by subhuman boys.

I applied phonics to the faint print on candy hearts, only to discover such steamy sentiments as “my baby,” “be mine,” and the dreaded “kiss me.” More disconcerting: we each received fat red wax lips. The first-grade class looked as if we’d made a field trip to a plastic surgeon’s. More kissing noises.

But Mrs. Cade didn’t stand the boys in the corner. Instead, she abdicated her moral responsibility as a teacher and donned lips herself!

Later, I asked my mother to solve the mysteries surrounding the heart candies. Was “my baby” supposed to be a compliment? All my baby brother did was pee, poop and puke. Mom said a young man might call his girlfriend “baby.” That explained the incomprehensible songs on the radio.

Valentine’s Day appeared the strangest holiday of the year, and the love/romance scenario remains puzzling as ever. But it’s nice to know I’ve moved past the first-grade version. Forget the candy hearts; now I’m into Belgian chocolates.

I also understand real love means even harder work than addressing valentines.

And that kissing noises aren’t so bad, after all.

 

How do you remember your first Valentine’s Day experience?

 

 

 

Diary of the Christmas Fudge

December 16, 2016

My short—but sweet—life began as an on-sale bag of sugar.

Then the Fudge Monster decided to double her Christmas fudge output. Having bought one bag in November, she bought me in December.

She hasn’t found the November bag yet.

Perhaps it languishes where she stowed four boxes of Christmas cards, her mother-in-law’s present, and a missing gallon of egg nog — plus all that extra money she thought she’d stashed.

December 24, 2016 – Christmas Eve

Sadly, the Fudge Monster delayed making fudge until Christmas Eve … after stores closed.

No double batch.

The Fudge Monster wept.

But did she let a little senility stop her?

Never.

She considered borrowing from a neighbor. But six cups of sugar? On Christmas Eve?

So the Monster used me — the December bag — plus sugar salvaged from various bowls and a Cool Whip container she took camping last summer. Finally, she located a bag with cement-like contents probably bought when a Bush was president.

As she chipped sugar, her husband questioned her wisdom.

Thankfully, the Fudge Monster, wielding wooden spoons like a kitchen samurai, chased him out.

She hacked chocolate and pecans like firewood. She measured and boiled. The Monster stirred and stirred, finally pouring my smooth mixture into a buttered pan. She filled another. And another. Whoa, unlimited chocolate power!

If I solidified.

The Fudge Monster stuck in a spoon. It sank deep into my thin syrup.

Sixty seconds later, she checked again.

Thirty seconds.

I objected. Would she like someone poking to see if her core was solid?

The Monster called to Hubby: Did he think half our county would like chocolate sauce for Christmas?

From the safety of his locked truck, he answered, “Certainly, dear. Everyone needs a gallon or two.”

Later, she dared sample a corner.

Voilà! I am the best fudge she’d ever made!

Later that night, a gooey kitchen returned the Fudge Monster to reality. Even the toaster was glued to the counter.

With hair marshmallowed to her face, the Fudge Monster could have intimidated Bigfoot.

With 10 guests due within hours, she coat-hangered Hubby’s truck door and dragged him inside to help.

Together they whipped the kitchen into shape.

December 25, 2016 – Christmas Day

Their family arrived to celebrate and eat fudge.

Snarfing creamy, chocolaty chunks, the Monster was in such a magnanimous mood that, instead of hiding my extra pans under her bed, she sent fudge home with them.

And they say Christmas miracles don’t happen.

January, 2017

After Christmas, the Monster celebrated New Year’s Eve with fudge. New Year’s Day. Every single football game on TV. Her dryer’s completion of a perma-press cycle.

However, a January Judgment Day, when she finally mounted the bathroom scales exiled my remaining yumminess to the freezer. …

Until her dryer’s perma-press cycle buzzed once more.

 

What kind of Goodie Monster lives at your house every Christmas?

Rachael’s Rockin’ Resolutions

Happy New Year!

Despite gloomy prognoses, there is room for optimism in 2017, especially as I’ve discovered an awesome new approach to making resolutions. This innovation effectively protects the resolver from the root-canal effect of good behavior.

My secret? I make only resolutions I can keep. Simple. Profound.

Why Albert Einstein or some other genius with funny hair hasn’t discovered this goof-proof method before, I can’t imagine.

Welcome to my easy-peasy 2017 list of resolutions:

  • I resolve to leave my save-the-earth bags in my car’s trunk when I visit Walmart. I will ignore their existence, even while stacking plastic bags of groceries on top of them. Every week.
  • During winter months, I promise to lose one glove of every pair. And a hat once a week.
  • I will continue my don’t-ask-don’t-tell relationship with the dust bunnies under my bed.
  • I resolve to try “color catcher” sheets that allow me to wash red clothes with white. I haven’t attempted such a feat since early marriage, when my brave new approach to laundry resulted in my husband’s wearing pink Fruit of the Looms throughout his medical school career.
  • When some overbearing airport suitcase hurler points to me and says, “This old bag’s too heavy to be a carry-on, charge her extra,” I promise to cut him down to size.
  • Speaking of traveling, I resolve not to smoke in airplane bathrooms. First, having never tried a cigarette, I’d probably light the wrong end. Besides, conducting the usual bathroom business requires enormous coordination in a space the size of a glove compartment. Why risk stuffing a glowing cigarette down my throat, should the plane decide to tap dance?
  • I resolve to iron one shirt this year for my husband. Or at least the front (this works if he wears a suit).
  • I resolve to kill my Christmas poinsettias before Ground Hog’s Day.
  • Finally, I resolve not to climb Mt. Everest. Or slide down.

Mission accomplished. I’ve made my list of resolutions, with no negatives to cloud 2017.

Come to think of it, my funny hair rivals Einstein’s, anytime.

How about you? What will be the first goof-proof resolution on your list?

Joseph: Blessed Stepparent

Have you heard the biblical Christmas story a gazillion times? Me, too. Yet I’m always amazed how God arranged His Son’s Nativity.

We often miss one important aspect of His divine plan: God made sure Jesus had a stepfather.

Joseph, a construction worker, probably was putting the final touches on their first home when Mary gave him news nobody could fix.

Pregnant? By the Holy Spirit? Even Joseph’s bridezilla cousin Sapphira never conceived a tale like this. Devastated, Joseph decided to call off the wedding.

Until an angel told him Mary’s story was true.

How would his construction buddies regard this double-angel story? Joseph’s family, already humiliated, might not show for the wedding. Still, Joseph obeyed the angel and assumed responsibility for Mary and her child.

As if all this weren’t enough, the government raised taxes. Joseph had to register in his hometown, Bethlehem, several days’ journey away. Not the honeymoon Joseph had dreamed of. Riding a donkey her last month of pregnancy probably wasn’t Mary’s idea of fun, either. Parking and accommodations were difficult to find. Correction: impossible. Joseph’s relatives, still upset, apparently did not offer even a sleeping bag on the floor.

As Mary struggled through labor, surrounded by smelly animals, Joseph may have wondered if his angel dream had resulted from too much pizza. But he remained at Mary’s side. And when the Baby was born, he called Him Jesus.

Fatherhood was harder than Joseph had anticipated. How could the Creator of night and day get them so mixed up?

When Joseph heard from angels again, it was bad news. King Herod wanted to kill the Baby, so Joseph sneaked his family out of town in the middle of the night. When had Joseph’s life turned into a Bourne Trilogy?

Even when they returned to Nazareth after Herod’s death, some still calculated their wedding date and Jesus’ birthday on their fingers.

While angels were talking to Joseph, he could play super-hero. But the angels stopped talking, and Joseph found himself playing male role model to the Son of God.

Like stepparents today, Joseph fades into the background. We hear nothing about him after Jesus’ junior-high escapade of disappearing — into the temple, it turned out — for three days. Playing second halo was tough then, as now. But the lives of Jesus and thousands of other children with blessed stepparents will never be the same.

Joseph’s first Christmas was complicated, with a capital C. So are the Christmases of all caring stepparents.

But then, love usually is.

Are you a stepparent who often plays second halo? If not, do you know someone who does?