Tag Archives: Popcorn

Christmas Tree Chronicles

Do you remember that first Christmas tree you, as an adult, hauled home?

Maybe you and your beloved cut a fragrant evergreen at a Christmas tree farm amid silvery snowfall.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

Or you procured a Charlie Brown escapee. Maybe spent a precious dollar on a Salvation Army find.

I wish we, as newlyweds, had considered those alternatives. We had saved $50 for Christmas. Total. We possessed no lights or ornaments. We spent our bankroll on family gifts instead.

However, learning of our treeless holiday, neighbors offered bottom branches removed from theirs. Humming “Deck the Halls,” I accented the pine-scented boughs with little red balls.

Voilà! Christmas!

The next year, I vowed to have a tree, though possibly decorated with popcorn strings and spray-painted macaroni — and the red balls.

My sister-in-law to the rescue: “Why didn’t you tell us you needed Christmas stuff? Mom gave us bunches.”

How I celebrated that tree in our government-subsidized apartment! We’d never go without one again — though some Decembers proved more adventurous than others.

Later, when Hubby was training day and night at a hospital, I stuffed our Christmas tree into our only car’s trunk.

Whew! Now to drag it downstairs to our basement apartment. Except, where were my keys?

With the tree. In the trunk.

Did I mention I was pregnant?

After a grand tour per city bus, I finally arrived at Hubby’s hospital. They paged him: “Dr. Phillips. Dr. Phillips. Your wife locked her keys in the car. Please report to the front desk.”

He displayed zero Christmas spirit, but he handed me his keys. After another city tour, I drove myself and the tree home.

Little did I know what Christmas tree tribulations awaited me as a parent.

The following year, Hubby and I set up the tree in our daughter’s playpen.

Why didn’t we corral her instead?

Child-raising theories then advocated free-range offspring. No dastardly playpen for our baby.

As our family expanded, Christmas ideals shrank to survival for us, the kids, and the tree. Trying to hide it from rampaging toddlers, we moved the tree to different locations each year. All in vain. Our son’s destructo gene zeroed in. I covered the tree’s lower branches with harmless ornaments, hoping he would eat those.

He climbed it.

To this day, I don’t know if our son consumed broken ornaments. He is 30-plus now, so I guess the destructo gene was linked to another granting him an iron stomach.

This year, our empty-nest tree mostly fears my smacking it with the vacuum. With no inkling of its predecessors’ sufferings, it basks in gentle serenity, glowing with lights, tinsel and memories.

Unnoticed, little red balls, polished by 45 Christmases, still shine.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What Christmas-tree tale can you tell?

Weird Things for Which I Am Thankful 2019

Winter, like an obnoxious relative, blew in early in Indiana and now threatens to stay forever. When we have to shovel snow within days of Halloween, our backs and arms ache too much to assume a posture of gratitude. But I will exercise some Thanksgiving muscle.

Me being me, though, most of my reasons for gratitude sound a little weird. Nevertheless, I am thankful for:

Aisle signs in parking lots. I usually disregard them, but when I do memorize my car’s location and actually find it after shopping, I experience a real rush — and sweet sense of superiority to wandering souls who set off car alarms to find theirs.

Deep purple hand towels. They defy even my grandchildren’s noblest efforts to stain them.

Piano tuners. As much as I loathe off-key music, my very bones scream when a piano tuner pounds and adjusts my keys. As tuners possess sensitive ears, too, I salute their bravery in attacking enemy tones.

Flatware. That the majority of the 330,044,724 people in the U.S. advocate the use of forks and spoons, as opposed to sporks.

For television. Within minutes of flicking the remote, some lauded, lunatic sports figure or pubescent program convinces me I am actually pretty sane.

Black olives, a time-honored flavor fetish in our family. My children and grandchildren share my taste for them on pizza, though my son-in-law attempted to teach his toddler the little black things were bugs. Grandma’s DNA prevailed (Ha!), and I am thankful for descendants who are fellow olive-eaters.

Mugs. Especially those that, when clasped by left-handed people, display a design as pretty as the one right-handers see.

Pennies. They are such generous little coins, willing to make a small difference whenever necessary. Plus, a fistful of them still gives me a vestige of that billionaire feeling I savored as a child, carrying them to Charlie’s General Store to exchange for a sucker-bubblegum-Pixy-Stix® feast.

Greeting cards. The ones that do not need extra postage because of wordiness.

My big, ugly, rubber boots. They are best buddies whether mudding through the garden or wading through snow.

Hundred-calorie bags of popcorn.

Rear window heaters and wipers.

People who spell my name without apostrophes.

Winds that blow our leaves into other people’s yards.

Expired calendars that abound in my purse, office and on my refrigerator. They remind me of: A. sweet memories; B. moments of misery endured (whew!); and that life, whether A or B, is precious and passes swiftly.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: This Thanksgiving, what weird things do you appreciate?

Popcorn and Me

Not many foods remain friends for life. Chocolate turned traitor during my teen years as I fought the Pimple Wars and later put on pounds. But popcorn has always been there for me.

My family owes its survival to popcorn. Mom faced two snack choices: a bale of hay or a dishpan-sized bowl of popcorn. While she threw handfuls of yellow seeds into a pan, we gathered close, quiet as if attending a theater performance — until the first pop pinged. Suddenly kernels exploded in a mad dance of joyful pop-pop-pops. A few sneaky ones fooled Mom and leaped out when she removed the lid — a punch line we enjoyed as if it had never happened before.

Fresh wonder filled me at seeing hundreds of fluffy white kernels, a miracle that rivaled the Feeding of the Five Thousand. If only candy bars multiplied like that!

As cornfields surrounded our house, I became convinced we were not utilizing a huge, free popcorn resource. My mother disagreed. But I filched an ear from a neighbor’s field and set it on fire anyway. Sadly, Mom was right — again.

Later we grew our own popcorn, including a “strawberry” variety. Hoeing the plants, I imagined the pink strawberry-sucker-flavored popcorn we would savor. At harvest, we shucked wine-colored kernels off little cones and waited breathlessly as Mom popped this amazing new treat. Only red hulls evidenced anything different about strawberry popcorn. After initial disappointment, though, we made a hit at school with our special red-and-white popcorn.

But the popcorn my siblings and I really craved was Jiffy Pop®. On TV commercials, smiling kids watched it rise like a silver Space Age balloon. I was sure the Jetsons ate Jiffy Pop®. Mom, however, vetoed it as too expensive.

When I, too, became a mean mother, plain old popcorn remained my friend. My children gathered as kernels tumbled in the air popper. Like my mother, I poured sizzling butter over theirs. Mine? I ate handfuls that tasted like Styrofoam packing peanuts. But they filled me up and kept me from expanding as much as Jiffy Pop®.

Now, growing older, I still cling to popcorn. Even the Jetsons would envy my microwave method. However, the time saved is used to read popcorn cautionary commandments on every bag, probably more than accompanied the original atomic bomb: HANDLE CAREFULLY: VERY HOT OIL & BAG! THIS SIDE UP! THIS SIDE DOWN! PICK UP HERE! PICK UP FROM OTHER END! OPEN CAREFULLY! HOT! CAUTION! OR YOU WILL DIE VERY, VERY SLOWLY WITH RADIOACTIVE POPCORN UP YOUR NOSE.

Is that any way to talk to a friend?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What are your favorite popcorn memories?