This week has been ripe with the harbingers of autumn to come. Morning brings the shouts of children as they walk to school with bright faces and shiny new backpacks. Yellow leaves peep through the trees' coverings of summer green. Evening temperatures flirt with a bit of new coolness in the night air.
And this week, I bought our pants-and-suits.
What in the dickens is a "pants-and-suit"? Why, it's a family marker of the approach of autumn. A small, silly celebration that has meaning only for this household--yet it's the kind of sweet and personal holiday observance that makes each family unique and strong.
I'm so excited, I can't sit still! As I write, a special package is winging its way to my grandmother Betty. Mamma, as we call her, will turn 102 years old next month--and while her body is frail, her mind and spirit are undiminished by the passage of the years.
Summer or not, she's going to receive a special holiday gift tomorrow.
Mamma has always been my homemaking inspiration; I treasure my collection of family recipes written in her own hand.
One such treat, Aunt Bill's Brown Candy, has been part of family holidays since before I can remember. As a child, I'd watch my parents work together to make our family's favorite sweet; by the time I reached my teens, I had taken over the candy-making chores--and to this day, Christmas isn't Christmas without the Aunt Bills!
A year or so ago, I was contacted by cookbook author Georgia Orcutt. Researching a cookbook of Christmas favorites from each American state, she was interested learning more about our family recipe.
I like yard sales. Don't get me wrong, I'm not passionate about them, but if I'm out and about on a Saturday morning, my little blue car, Violet Blueberry, has been known to point her wheels to the curb and refuse to move forward whenever we pass a likely-looking sale.
Most of all, I like yard sales when it comes to holiday gifts and giving ... and saving money on Christmas. Other people's clutter can be a treasure trove of basket containers, holiday ornaments, and crafts materials.
Looking at my gift closet stash, I realized that the past month has been a bonanza for holiday yard sale finds. In just three weeks, I've scored:
Yesterday was a scorcher here in eastern Washington state. We're in what we call the "dog days"; the two-week period bridging July and August where we traditionally see the year's hottest weather.
For me, it was a dog day of a different sort: a busy Monday made even busier by the need to take a sick dog to the vet. Not to worry about little Dicksie--she'll be fine--but the waiting around in the exam room did give me a nice chance to think about a unique holiday tradition of my own: spending the dog days of summer working on the Organized Christmas web site.
Don't be fooled! While the title "editor" sounds grand, this is a one-person operation. That means I'm also the sysadmin, webmaster and the poor peon who gets to answer all the crankypants e-mails for the site.