Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Photo of My Friend Marion

I called a friend from Centerville to find out more about Marion, and she forwarded a photo she had of her and her husband Earl, who died a few years ago.

It was nice to visit with her and catch up on news in Centerville. Turns out most of my old friends are alive and kicking - so my New Year's resolutions are going to center on getting my past correspondence in order - and catching up with some friends from the past - those not on Facebook!

I must be growing old!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Each life that touches ours for good"

During the time that we lived in Centerville, Utah, we spent a year and a half renting a home while a couple served a mission. It was fun to live in a "real" house in a "real" neighborhood. The house was on a corner, and the back yards of 3 of the houses sort of all merged together. One of the houses that merged with our yard belonged to the Coleman family. The Colemans had a daughter, Renee, who was Bonny's age. She was their youngest daughter, while Bonny of course was our oldest.

I'm not sure of the occasion for this photo - I don't know if it was a homegrown craft project, something they did in Primary (which was held during the week back then), or some kind of school project. But it is a photo of Renee and Bonny in our backyard - and if you look through the trees, you are looking at the Coleman's backyard.

This was the closest I could come to a picture of Marion, Renee's mother and my good friend. Marion would walk through the yards - or I would walk through the yards - and we would talk, share recipes, produce, sewing tips, or solve the world's problems! Marion knew everyone in our ward and pretty much understood them too. She was always there to fill me in on "background" so that I could understand the ward and our neighborhood better. She was a good friend, and when we moved away in 1979, I truly missed her.

She was good about writing letters though, so we corresponded for several years. I remember writing her a letter one night soon after we had moved to Monrovia. I had put bread in the oven to rise, and then I had forgotten about it!! As I lay in bed, I remembered the bowl of bread dough I had put in the oven that afternoon. I got out of bed and ran to the kitchen to see what was happening! (Marion had taught me to put the bread in the over to rise, and then to put a jelly roll pan on the bottom shelf and then fill it with boiling water. The bread always rose beautifully that way - a technique I still use - and share with whomever is interested!)

The bread had spread all over the oven, but it came back together rather nicely as I scooped it up. I kneaded it a few times, plunked it back in the bowl and put it in the oven to rise once more. After it rose - which it did quickly - I shaped it into loaves and let it rise once more - then I baked it. Of course this took time, so to keep myself awake, I wrote a letter to Marion detailing my evening!! She wrote me back and told me that her Swedish grandmother always did her bread that way - letting it rise all day and then knocking it down and baking it whenever she had the time or inclination!!

That was the quintessential Marion - and I smiled as I read her reply. We exchanged letters for several years, and Marion kept me updated on all the news in Centerville. When we went to Utah, we'd stop in Centerville to go to church, and I'd see Marion. After about 15 years, it pretty much got to just letters at Christmas time. I suspect that she was computer savvy, but I never did get into the habit of emailing her. For a few years I didn't hear from her - and we didn't get back to Centerville very often - so I occasionally thought of her and wondered how she was. Then a Christmas card would come with all kinds of updates.

Last year I didn't receive a card - and then this year I received a card from her son, informing me that Marion had died on August 16, 2009, after a courageous battle with cancer.

I am so sad that I didn't know about this. I am so sad that I didn't have a chance to send her a final letter, letting her know how much I valued our experiences together. Her son told me that his mother had valued her friendship with me, and that is some comfort.

I thought of the hymn, Each Life That Touches Ours For Good. And whenever we sing it now, I will think of Marion.

And I am going to take pictures of my friends. I can see Marion in my mind quite clearly. But I wish I had a picture of her.

I'm a pretty good correspondent. But I'm not a perfect one. Lives change. We all change. Contact sometimes goes by the wayside.

I'm sorry that this correspondence went by the wayside at the end.

But I will always treasure the friendship I enjoyed with Marion.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

So much for saying we won't exchange gifts!

So, we pretty much don't give gifts at this holiday time - to each other at least. Except sometimes one of us does anyway!!

This year it was Harry - who not only brought me a beautiful bouquet of holiday flowers, but he also gave me a beautiful coat from Patagonia - the store, not the country!

So, I had a card for him. But it was a very cool card!

And we went to lunch at Market Grill here in Monrovia. Try it if you haven't already.

And we went to the show and saw True Grit. It's a pretty good movie - give it a look-see if you haven't already!!

Looks like we really did more than we usually do. So much for saying we ignore our anniversaries!

But there have been years when there was no time and no money.

This wasn't one of those years!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve - and the end of the "advent" journey - for now anyway!!

You need to look closely at the photo of the house we lived in during our 2nd year of marriage - and the first Christmas we spent together in a domicile - we spent our first Christmas together in a hotel on our honeymoon to Santa Barbara.

You will need to use your imagination - and maybe google "'41 Chevy 3/4 ton flatbed pickup truck with a sheepherder's cabin on the back" - to see the car of which I am speaking!!

Dad bought this - maybe even traded it for our Fiat - anyway, we drove it down to LA for Christmas in 1968 - and it was an adventure, that's for sure. It was snowing, and the windshield wipers - which were vacuum driven - went out!! Dad put his arm out the window and wiped as he drove. It was very cold, very uncomfortable, very miserable. But we kept going.

On our way home, we got tired so we stopped and retired to our "camper!!" Which was less than adequate, even with its mattress on the floor - since it was very cold when we stopped!!

The good thing about it, however, is that we found the old Victrola cabinet at an antique store in GH - and had room to haul it home. It resides in the shop these days - but it shows up in many family photos - and most of you probably have fond memories of it.

That said, it has been fun to reflect on Christmas memories - so now I need to go and make some more!

"Happy Christmas to all , and to all a Good Night!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Parties

Christmas used to mean getting new clothes and getting dressed up. I'm not sure when it "went casual" but it certainly is! I used to plan for the family party and the adult ward Christmas party and what I was going to wear. I put as much effort into the choices as I have into what the bride's - or groom's - mother was going to wear.

As you can tell by the festive bell in my hair, I thought this was a holiday outfit. I actually like silky shirts - but they do slide around a lot and aren't always "user friendly" if you follow my drift! But I remember this one and I remember the skirt - a bias cut plaid - something that is not kind to my figure in my present state!!

And for years, I had lots of Christmas hair decor and jewelry - I even had a Christmas watch!!

And I fussed over the children's holiday wear too - starting from the very beginning!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"For unto us a child is born . . ."

Dad kept to his word, and we spent Christmas in Utah for the next 7 years - until we moved to SoCal once more. One of those years was spent in the Harris' house in Centerville - they were on a mission, and we reveled in a large house with lots of rooms, two fireplaces, a big backyard, and a finished basement. And some nice furniture too!

We had a small cast, but we always did the nativity. I think I usually played the three wise men - and the inn keeper. When we got back to SoCal, we started being part of the Terrill Family Christmas parties - where the nativity was a major part of the evening. There were some great enactments, but as a result, we sort of phased out of doing them in our own homes - sometimes I wonder if we should have tweaked that some.

There is something about having a large cast and a script and an organ that is pretty special though.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

White Christmas!!

Well, it won't be a white Christmas here in SoCal - but it is shaping up to be a very wet one!!

Which reminds me of the Christmas of 1971 - we came down from SLC in our spiffy yellow VW. We drove back and forth between GH and EM. It got pretty crazy. And it was raining like it has been here - for every day we were there it seems. But one rainy day Dad and I headed into Downtown El Monte and the local Woolworths - and found a little red doll stroller that we bought for Santa to give to 14-month old Bonny Brae. Bonny loved that doll stroller - and I don't seem to have one photo of it - but it lasted a pretty long time. Funny how an inexpensive item can be such a perfect and memorable gift. (When we got back to SLC, we had a little Christmas celebration with our tree and gave her a Fisher Price House - which we still have - and which she - and all the other Terrill children - have loved!)

That was also the year that Dad declared that we were never going to travel on Christmas again - all that back and forth in the rain just did him in! (Little did he know that in a few years, we'd be back - and all the back and forth in the rain and the heat and the wind and the earthquakes would go on year-round!! Or maybe he did know!)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas memories of another sort

Dad and I wrote letters to one another on pretty much a weekly basis while he was serving his mission. I loved getting them - they were the high point of my week.

He sent me cards and little gifts too - one year at Christmas he sent me a book with some little pins inside a hole he'd carved out of the pages - theft in the mails was pretty prevalent then and things that appeared to be of value often didn't get through.

And one other year at Christmas, his former companion stopped by on his way to see his sister in Camarillo. I'm not sure why seeing Elder Terrill's former companion gave me such a lift, but it did. And Elder Robison had a little gift that Dad had sent along to me.

Of course that made my day!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Other Christmas Birthdays!!

December Christmas memories also include celebrating Scott's birthday!!

I remember Frances saying that they would celebrate Scott's birthday on July 19th with a pool party at Grandma's - she thought a December birthday sometimes meant less fun and attention for the birthday child. It's a pretty ingenious solution - and fun!

I also remember many a Terrill Family Christmas Party that included a cake for Dad, a cake for Scott, and one year Frances made a cake for baby Jesus - since we were celebrating His birthday too!

But Scott has never seemed deprived to me - he's a big guy with a big heart full of love for everyone - he lights up the party when he walks in!!

I often say that Scott and Karen made me an aunt - a role I continue to relish.

And I love that Christmas means celebrating many birthdays!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Birthdays!!

Christmas at the Terrills always includes Dad's birthday - and a pineapple upside down cake.

The second year of our marriage, I asked Dad what kind of cake he wanted - and he said "Pineapple upside down cake." I knew about such cakes, but I had not only never eaten one very often, but I had certainly never made one.

He said they were easy - he'd made them often for his college roommates. So he taught me how - and taught me that the best pan to cook one in was a cast iron skillet - and so every year for the last 42 years, I have made one for him in the same cast iron skillet that we got for a wedding present.

It wasn't until Robin's wedding that I discovered that all the Terrills are nuts about pineapple upside down cake - that was her wedding cake!

And this year there was a birthday celebration in the staff lounge for one of my colleagues - who requested a pineapple upside down cake! So now I've made more than just the number of years we've been married!

I keep track of such things!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Clocker's Corner

Christmas vacation, Terrill-style, means Clocker's Corner to watch the morning workouts - and enjoy breakfast under the heat lamps.

Not sure when we started doing it so regularly, but it's a fun part of the season.

My favorite part is when one of the little kids says, "We won, Grandma, we won!!"

I always wonder what the bystanders think of that!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Christmas Tradition

The Grandma Terrill Family Christmas parties were legendary. At least when we moved here in '79, it became the high point of the holiday season. What was not to love? Santa came and brought you gifts. There was a great dinner on china with silver. A family talent show provided entertainment. My girls loved to dress up for the occasion.

And grown men draped themselves in cloth and wrapped scarves around their heads as part of the nativity!!

Times change, people move, people move on - the party lives but in a very different format.

But sometimes the grown men still drape themselves in silk!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ward Christmas Parties!

Christmas means ward Christmas parties - I have lost count of the number I have attended. Oddly enough, I don't remember any as a child. Maybe they had them and we didn't go. Or maybe they didn't have them. Or more likely I have just forgotten them all! I don't remember them in Centerville either.

For most of our years in Monrovia, there was a family Christmas party, complete with Primary performances and a visit from Santa - either Charley Graham or Lloyd Chrisinger!

And then later in the week there was an adult Christmas party. I'm not sure why I don't have photos from those, because they were a very big deal!! The other women and I talked about what we were going to wear - I remember starting to look in stores around September for some stunning number to wow the folks with! I'm pretty sure I never really wowed them - but I had fun shopping.

There was a "social hour" with hot punch and hors d'ouvres. Then there was a lovely dinner, maybe a program, and often dancing!! I will tell you that Ken and Joan cut a mean rug!! We'd do the kitchen drill for the other ward on their night and they'd do it for us on our night, so no one had to work up a sweat in their party wear.

Now it's all combined - literally and figuratively. I miss the way it was - but maybe I remember it better than it was!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And even more Christmas memories!

My father's Uncle Norman is the young boy sitting between his father's knees. He was crippled - either born that way, or he had polio or some other disease. My dad used to tell us stories about how kids would pick on other kids - and wouldn't think that Norman was any threat. But he'd go after the bullies with his good hand - and they would stop bullying!

He was the janitor of the Hollywood Ward building for many years. In fact, he died in the building and was found the next day. He'd had a fatal heart attack. I'm not sure how old he was - I was in my teens when it happened.

What I mostly remember though, is that he always came to our house for Christmas. My dad would go pick him up and he'd stay overnight with us. He also came at Thanksgiving, but just for the day. He was kind and funny. Said he'd never met a food he didn't like - but there were some that didn't seem to like him!!

My folks would get shirts, ties and socks for him and wrap them up and put them under the tree. He was always duly impressed with our humble offerings - we were impressed that his gifts got wrapped!

I'm sure my parents served others all the time - and we were not always aware of their efforts. I'm thankful that Uncle Norman was a very visible part of our holiday traditions.

(And don't you love my mom's shirtwaist dress??)

Monday, December 13, 2010

More Christmas Memories

The 12 Days of Christmas are over - at least as far as the song is concerned! So now it's just memories - no more clever song lyrics!!

I'm impressed that I'm willing to post this photo - it is certainly less than flattering of me. But I do have several memories of going with Dad to see Santa and have a photo taken. I'm sure Mom was home with a baby or two - and she probably told Dad to take the kids to give her a break!!

I also have many memories of digging around in closets looking for hidden gifts. Most of them were hidden at the shop - there was always a Christmas Eve trip to the shop - and we knew just what it was for. But I still dug around - occasionally came across things that I wasn't sure were for me or not - and so I would speculate.

Funny the little things that can bring you joy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent - day twelve

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 12 golden walnuts, 11 useless gizmos, 10 matching p.j.'s, 9 lovely tall trees, 8 elegant ornaments, 7 certain suitcases, 6 singing souls, 5 Julenissen, 4 Christmas stockings, 3 special wishes, 2 roller skates, and one very large sea kelp.

If you look closely, you can see the golden walnuts. If you are a Terrill - or have married into the Terrill family - you probably know the story about the fabled golden walnuts.

Our first Christmas spent together was on our honeymoon - didn't have a tree. Our 2nd Christmas together found us in a tiny rental house in Provo that really needed a nice big tree - so we got one!! We went over to the Ben Franklin 5 and 10 and bought some charming blue and red felt ornaments - which we still have, though they are something the worse for wear. We bought lights and strung popcorn, but decided the tree needed more. (Of course, it needed a lot more, but we were young and poor!!)

I don't know where we got the idea from, or if we just thought it up ourselves, but we carefully shelled a dozen walnuts and took the meat out of them. Then we glued them back together with a loop of gold ribbon in between the halves. Then we spray painted them gold. And hung them on the tree.

Thus the golden walnuts were born. I'm not sure why we just did 12, but we have kept them in the same egg carton for lo these last 4o+ years.

I'm not sure when all the harassment began, but it seems like it's been going on for a few years. Somehow, someone started poking fun at the golden walnuts. I tend to take that kind of stuff seriously, which just encouraged people to keep poking fun at them. Last year I don't think we even put them on - the ribbon is pretty shredded and it's a lot work to get them on now.

It also became quite important to count them before we tossed the tree when Christmas was over - more than once we counted and one or two were still on the tree - tarnished and old and unnoticed!!

But I'm pretty sure if I adiosed them, I would hear a hue and cry from a chorus of unhappy sibs.

I'm waiting for someone to make me a new set - maybe for our 50th!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Advent - day eleven

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 11 useless gizmos, 10 matching p.j.'s, 9 lovely tall trees, 8 elegant ornaments, 7 certain suitcases, 6 singing souls, 5 Julenissen, 4 Christmas stockings, 3 special wishes, 2 roller skates, and one very large sea kelp.

You may or may not have noticed that I was trying to have the same number of people in the photo as were in the verse - but I gave up on that today, right now!! This is Christmas in the Rock House and the baby is Erika.

My memory has nothing to do with the photo either. They are just for show!

My memory has to do with the year I got a volleyball for Christmas. As I've mentioned before, I usually didn't get what I wished for. And I really never planned on getting what I wished for. It was kind of like signing what you imagined your married name would be all over your notebook at school. Or listing all the names you were going to give your children.

One year I got a yellow sweater and a pair of beige wool pants with a matching vest
- instead of a dyed to match sweater set and skirt. It wasn't bad - I wore them anyway. And I was not offended - my folks did their best and tried hard to make us all happy.

And perhaps I should preface this with the note that I am not and never have been athletic. Not in any way, shape or form. So the year I got a volleyball - as my "main" gift - I was not only horrified - I was offended! How could anyone not know that I was not a volleyball player - me, who got A's and a C in P.E. - year after year?

I think I even said something rude like, "Who chose this?" Or, "Hasn't a mistake been made here?" And I was very close to tears. I think my mom said something like, "I thought you liked volleyball?" (What I had said was that volleyball was the one sport where I didn't quite look as bad as I did in other sports. I did not even imply that I liked to play it.)

I think I was 14 or 15. It was not a happy Christmas for me. I felt a little bit "abused" if I may use such strong language.

The ward YW volleyball team borrowed the ball once. They returned it much later in less than pristine condition. At least it got put to good use.

I have never forgotten that Christmas - even though my parents and siblings have little memory of it. Obviously I hid my pain!!

But since then, I have realized that it is not only possible, but highly probable, that anyone with more than one child could easily mix the signals their children sent them about gifts they'd like to receive. And I hope that my children have forgiven me when I have totally missed the boat on something.

Probably they were awarding double Blue Chip Stamps with the purchase of a volleyball!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent - day ten

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 10 matching p.j.'s, 9 lovely tall trees, 8 elegant ornaments, 7 certain suitcases, 6 singing souls, 5 Yulenissers, 4 Christmas stockings, 3 special wishes, 2 roller skates, and one very large sea kelp.

New jammies on Christmas Eve is certainly not an original tradition - in our family or any other. And it's been a sporadic tradition in our family. When Bonny and Harry were small, I made them new night gowns and p.j.'s. When Phoebe was 5 or so, I made her an E.T. nightgown that was a labor of love. There was an applique and embroidery on the front of the silhouette of E.T. flying away on the handlebars of the boy's bike. Sadly I never even took a photo of her in the gown, so you will just have to take my word for it that it was lovely!

A few years later, Dad and I started shopping on our anniversary getaways when Bonny came home for quarter break. Whereas I hadn't been up to shopping for or making new sleepwear for the kids, now we had time to shop, so we started buying them. I remember a green silk pair Dad chose for Phoebe. I wasn't sure she would like it - but he insisted. Just to let you know how wrong I can be, Phoebe not only loved them - she still has them - and wears them too!

I don't remember exactly when we started the matching jammies for whoever was with us on Christmas Eve. Sometimes we had silk-screened shirts with some clever saying. Sometimes we just saw what Marshall's had a dozen or so of. And one time, we designed a special "Welcome Matt" tee shirt the year Matt and Eliza got married. That is my personal fave. That year I also made all the bottoms! Now there are women who could whip up a batch of pajama bottoms without breaking a sweat, but I'm not one of them! I had the idea that Dad and Noah - since he was still living at home - could help me and we'd do it assembly line.

Well, we did do it assembly line and they did help me, but it was not all sweetness and light. I have a certain way of doing things. And males have another way. I was out-numbered! But they did get done and they were a fun surprise. It was worth all the effort to see the look on Eliza's face - she knew well my penchant for starting projects and not finishing them - so she was truly impressed as she said, "You made these?"

A couple of years ago, Dad said, "I have more tee shirts and pajama bottoms than I will use up in a lifetime. Shouldn't we start some other tradition?"

Maybe we will this year!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Advent - day nine

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, 9 lovely tall trees, 8 elegant ornaments, 7 certain suitcases, 6 singing souls, 5 Julenissen, 4 Christmas stockings, 3 special wishes, 2 roller skates, and one very large sea kelp.

Over the years, as our own family grew and started leaving the nest, Harry and I kept trying to be creative and think of different settings and venues for the family holiday gatherings. We didn't particularly say, "Let's all get together for the holidays" - it just seemed to keep happening. Some years everyone wasn't there, but by and large we gathered - and it gradually evolved into gathering after Christmas, for New Year's Eve.

Other traditions evolved - predictions, sometimes going to the cabin at Monrovia Canyon Park, onetime getting a beach house in Laguna, matching p.j.'s for whomever was there on Christmas Eve, potato soup for Christmas Eve dinner, going to the movies on Christmas Day, Plunkets for Christmas morning.

I keep lobbying for a "destination" location - so one year we rented a place in Crestline. I thought a forest setting of trees and snow would add to our enjoyment. It was crowded and fun - we went ice skating, everyone took turns fixing meals, we gave Harry a telescope for his birthday/Christmas gift and had fun setting it up and looking at the stars. Then disaster struck and I got the flu - the stomach kind!! Rapidly it spread through the whole group. Treks had to be made to the laundromat. Some of us went to a motel to isolate ourselves!!

It's been a few years - the memory doesn't seem quite as grim as it sounds - but we haven't all crowded into a strange house since!!

And in spite of that being his introduction into the Terrill Christmas Mode, Robbie still joined our family!!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Advent - day eight

On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love brought to, 8 elegant ornaments, 7 certain suitcases, 6 singing souls, 5 Yulenissers, 4 Christmas stockings, 3 special wishes, 2 roller skates, and one very large sea kelp.

This was probably taken on the day after Christmas, because that was when Grandpa Clayton usually came. He made his rounds to the other cousins who lived closer to him, and then he and Grandma Connie and Anne all trekked out the Valley for our big brood. It got to where I sometimes enjoyed the day after Christmas more than Christmas day itself! Two big meals in a row - it was like heaven!

Grandpa would haul in a big box of presents - and even though only one was for you, just the sight of a nice old man carrying in a big box of gifts was enough to make the holiday come alive once more!! As I got older, the gifts were often jewelry, because Grandpa was a jeweler. Sometimes they were rings, watches and necklaces that had been brought in for repair and never picked up - but they still looked like luxuries to me!

On a totally unrelated note, we had a pretty motley collection of ornaments on our tree but I remember loving all of them. Who remembers the glass grapes? (and I don't mean the resin kind - these were somewhat largish glass ornaments that looked like a bunch of grapes.)

One year, the man across the street, who was some kind of salesman, gave us his Christmas samples - ornaments that were attached to a cardboard display board. Well, when you took them off, the back side had no more paint or decoration on it. Sometimes the back was a jagged hole even! But they were elegant, modern ornaments, not the old-fashioned kind we usually had. (You have to remember that vintage was just old back then!) So we hung them with the bad side not showing - and I felt just like Jo in Little Women, wearing one glove and carrying the other soiled one!!

I often thought that a "themed" tree or a flocked tree or a pink tree or even an aluminum tree seemed like something that was very desirable.

But I doubt if I'd have such lovely, fond memories of a pink flocked tree with red bows and green glass balls!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Advent - day seven

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love brought to me, seven certain suitcases, six singing souls, five Yulenissers, four Christmas stockings, three special wishes, 2 rollers skates, and one very large sea kelp.

If you were one of the Clayton girls, you could wish for Samsonite luggage for Christmas - and your wish would come true. Samsonite luggage was available in the S&H Green Stamp Catalog. And it was nice luggage. Below is a picture of the kind I had. It was "hard" sided - and they really don't make that kind of luggage anymore - although I see a piece now and then. I'm not even sure when I finally got rid of all mine - I believe it was after we moved back to California. For many years I stored fabric in it!

Mine was gray. You didn't get a whole set - you got a piece each year, usually starting with the "cosmetic case." I remember thinking when I got the first piece when would I ever take a trip that would use all this lovely luggage!! (The irony here is that by the time I took a trip of some magnitude - to France - the luggage was too heavy for international travel, so I had to borrow Lyn's suitcase from his mission!)

But it took me off to college - I'm not even sure how many pieces I had, but it might have been three - the cosmetic case, a large piece, and a medium sized piece. They were lined with a yellow silk-like fabric. They were quite deluxe. ("seven certain suitcases" was just for alliterative effect!)

Newer luggage came into vogue - soft-sided, much lighter, and more flexible. Like a lot of "must haves," "must have" luggage went the way of the Edsel!!

Note: Harry and I returned from Virginia recently and my large red suitcase was ruined - the handle wouldn't go down once we got it up. Harry took it apart and discovered that the metal tube that the handle went up and down in had been seriously bent.

That would never have happened with my gray Samsonite luggage!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Advent - day six

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, six singing souls, five Yulenissers, four Christmas stockings, three special wishes, 2 roller skates, and one very large sea kelp.

The Messiah has long been part of the Terrill family Christmas tradition. The first time I ever attended a performance was on our first wedding anniversary - December 22, 1968. The Salt Lake Oratorio Society gave an annual performance, free of charge, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Our good friends Kay and Steve were going and invited us along.

We continued to go each year while we lived in Utah. At some point we started taking Bonny and Harry with us. When we moved to California in 1979, we discovered the Messiah Sing Along at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion - and a new tradition was born.

The first time Dad and I went alone. Coming out after wards, the patrons heading down the stairs began singing carols - and another tradition was born. In the ensuing years, we began inviting others to join us, gathered for a meal beforehand, and occasionally attended the Sing Along Messiah at the Foothill Building. One year Harry invited Dawn along - this was before they were engaged - and she made eclairs that we ate afterward while seated by the lighted fountains

Like lots of things we do and enjoy, the Sing Along got more expensive to attend, eating beforehand became logistically more difficult to do, and the powers that be change the dates in what appears to be a random manner.

But we keep going and we keep enjoying it. I remember that first year thinking that the program would never end. Now I always feel like it ends too soon.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

Advent - day five

On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, five Yulenissers, four Christmas stockings, three special wishes, 2 roller skates, and one very large sea kelp.

When we lived in Centerville, we had a dear friend named Else. She was Danish. Her son was a less-active member of our ward - she was not a member. Her husband had joined the church in Denmark as a boy, but was never very active. When he married and immigrated to the United States, he and his wife decided that if they had sons they would raise them LDS, and if they had girls they would raise them Lutheran. They had sons, so we got to know her through her son Ed.

Else would go to Relief Society with me. She lived with Ed and his wife, and they both worked all day. She enjoyed getting out and loved coming to Relief Society - back in the day when we met mid-week. She often went with me when I ran errands or drove in to Salt Lake City. She loved Bonny and Harry, and they seemed to return the feeling.

On one of our treks to Salt Lake City, we went to the Scandinavian House, a wonderful store that had all things Scandinavian in it. That might not seem like much to those of you who are part of the Ikea generation, but it was a very big deal to all of us. Else told me stories about Denmark, taught me to make Aebelskivvers, gave me treasured heirlooms from the old country that she said her family simply did not value, and taught me to make Yulenissers. (I'm not at all sure about the spelling on this one. You Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians will just have to forgive me!!)

Yulenissers are small little gnome-like characters that look a little like Santa, a little like an elf, and can be made of red yarn, cotton, and felt. I was the Cultural Refinement teacher and wanted to make one for each of the sisters who came to the lesson I was giving on Denmark. Else taught me to make them. I was working on them, but even though they are tiny and simple to make, I wasn't making very rapid progress. It had taken me all night to make about 5 of them.

Harry and my brother Richard were working on a cabin in Smith-Morehouse, which is close to Kamas. One night as I sat making Yulenissers and waiting for Harry to come home, I started to worry because it was getting really late - like after 11 p.m. I was worried enough to call the Elder's Quorum president, who made a few calls - a counselor in our Bishopric was from Kamas, so he got the "search and rescue" guys out looking.

Meanwhile, Brother Walker offered to come over and sit with me while we waited. He was a 6th grade teacher at the local elementary school and was immediately interested in what I was crafting. He offered to help me, and soon we had a respectable pile of little yarn elves on the dining room table. Harry eventually got home - they had slid off into an embankment and were going to wait until daylight to hike out - the engine was running to keep them warm - and this was not the era of cellphones so no one knew what was going on with them.

Later Brother Walker told me that he had gone home and the next day had made enough Yulenissers to cover the tree in the hall of his elementary school - and his own tree at home!! For many years after, I made lots of the little guys to tie onto gifts. We have a few still that go on our tree each year. And over the years I have seen many other versions of them.

My favorite "reincarnation" of them is in the Tomten books - but that's another post in itself.

Many hands make light work. And busy hands can keep scary thoughts at bay too!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Advent - day four

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, four Christmas stockings, three special wishes, 2 roller skates, and one very large kelp.

Christmas stockings meant something very different in the Clayton household. I think I was married before I realized that most people had a specific Christmas stocking, not one of their dad's old work socks!!

The way it worked was you went and got one of Dad's work socks and pinned it to a spot on the couch or one of the overstuffed chairs. You wrote your name on a piece of paper and pinned that to the sock. The next morning, your stocking was stuffed and your gifts were stacked up next to it. Sometimes a sheet of tissue paper was draped over your gifts - to add a bit of mystery!!

I know that at one point, I wished that the gifts could be wrapped and piled under the tree. But after years of staying up late myself on Christmas Eve wrapping gifts, I understand completely why parents with 12 children would not do that for very long!!

The stockings always had the same contents: an orange, an apple, a banana, walnuts, filberts, peanuts, Life-Savers, a new box of crayons if you were a kid, and some Viviane Woodard cosmetics and toiletries if you were a female teen or above!

There is comfort in consistency!! And happy memories too!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Advent - day three

On the third day of Christmas my true love brought to me, three special wishes, 2 roller skates, and one very large kelp.

I always believed in Santa. That is, until Joan let the cat out of the bag!! I remember in the little house, she opened the door a crack and said, "See, there are Mom and Dad putting out the presents." I was crushed. But I kept on believing anyway! At least I kept on hoping and wishing. I would make lists of things I wanted for Christmas, knowing full well that I would not get them. Somehow the wishing was fun anyway.

We could safely wish for just about anything in the S&H Green Stamp catalog - but that wasn't the same as really wishing. Or you could wish for Vivianne Woodard cosmetics and be sure you'd get it. The boys could wish for Levi's or Pendleton shirts too.

I remember wanting a cashmere dyed to match sweater set. And a wool slim skirt to match. I never even came close to getting that, but that's what I wished for throughout my teen years. Many years later as an adult, I bought myself a sweater set - but not a cashmere one - I live in SoCal for goodness sake. But I was disappointed because I didn't really like it - and didn't think it looked very good on me either!

Maybe it's better just to wish for something and not find out that it's not as great as you think it's going to be!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Advent - day two

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 2 roller skates and one very large kelp!

Another Christmas memory I treasure is the year I got a pair of roller skates. Unless you're as old as I am, you probably don't remember roller skates that slipped on over your shoes that you tightened with a skate key. And then you wore the key around your neck on a string - because you had to stop often to tighten them.

I don't know if Santa brought me the skates or if my Grandma and Grandpa Stevens gave them to me. As a young child, I remember my grandparents always coming out on Christmas day and bringing nice gifts - almost as good as the ones Santa brought.

But the part of the memory that I treasure most is the memory of my Grandpa Stevens patiently holding on to my hand as I put my other hand on the outside walls of the house and practiced riding on my skates. (Our house was tiny and square - truly lent itself to being a roller rink in training!!) He stayed with me until I could do it on my own with confidence - I'm not sure I have that kind of patience today!!

When Harry (my husband) was a boy, he cut through his knee with a skill saw. His father grabbed him up and drove him to the hospital. He didn't scold or tell Harry he should have been more careful. Rather he stayed with Harry until he was stitched up and home in bed, comforting him and assuring him that all would be well.

Harry has often commented that this was a seminal experience for him. In spite of any differences he had with his father, he truly knew, had truly experienced, the love and tenderness of a devoted father. His father had not been a demonstrative man, and was somewhat stern and strict. But Harry knew that his father would not let that stand in the way of truly being a loving father to Harry.

My grandpa was critical of my mother. He thought she had too many children. He thought she spent too much of her time and energy and resources on church. He thought women didn't belong in college and would not support her desire to attend. My grandpa was also strict and not very demonstrative. My journey around the little house, holding on to the rough plastered walls while he held on to me persuaded me that my grandpa loved and cared about me.

From that point on, I found myself very comfortable with him. I could speak frankly to him and he would speak frankly back. And I knew he cared about what I thought and said. I felt that I had a relationship with him - and I look forward to meeting him again someday.

I loved my roller skates. We played with them all the time - up and down the neighbors' driveway. Roller skating filled our summer days and nights. And most other days and nights too.

But I love the experience I had learning to skate even more - it was a priceless gift.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Advent - day one

"On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, one very large kelp . ." Somehow that just doesn't seem to quite cut it does it?

While we were in D.C. this last week, we attended the National Cathedral for Evensong - something that occurs each day at 4 p.m. Last Sunday was the first Advent Sunday, so we got in on the whole Advent program, at least as practiced in the Episcopal Church. Apparently each Sunday until Christmas, another portion of Advent will be celebrated.

It was a moving program - and we got to sing some hymns and carols together. There were readers who read through "lessons" that were talking about the coming of Christ. The choirs were beautiful and the organist was one talented guy. The pastor of the church gave a very thoughtful sermon about the whole concept of Advent and "waiting and hoping in faith" and it was truly food for thought.

So I thought that I would reflect each day until Christmas on what Christmas means in my life - past and present. Hopefully, it will give me some insight that will make this Christmas season more meaningful - and joyful.

I was trying to think of what my first Christmas memory was about. I know we were living in the "little house" and I was quite young. There were two bedrooms in the house and we children slept in them. My parents slept on the hideabed in the living room. I remember arising way too early and watching the hands move ever so slowly on the face of Lyn's lighted Mickey Mouse watch.

So I guess my first memory wasn't about the birth of Christ - it was more focused on the aspect of Santa. Not so surprising - but I do know that I knew what Christmas was truly about. I just seemed to be drawn to Santa more than service or sacrifice!

I was young though. Hopefully time has altered my focus!