TRAVEL HERE – THANKSGIVING WEEKEND
Every two weeks I have a wonderful blessing show up at my door. Lorene Marsh of Touch of Clean has been my housekeeper for several years now and I really don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s one of the most reliable, dependable people I have ever had the opportunity to work with. She has a lot of other things going on, from real estate move in/move out services to staging, but I can count on her to be at my door and do my house, like clockwork, and she does an amazing job. She’s so good, I’m tempted to keep her to myself, but that’s not fair to her, because she does such a good job and deserves to be lauded for it. If you decide to try her out, please let her know I sent you!
I became an orphan several years ago when my mom passed away. I’d lost Dad the year before and my precious Aunt Edie the year before that. Since I never had kids myself, I was at a loss for what I might do on holidays. Then I was invited to my nephew’s in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. Suddenly, I had family again and it wasn’t just a nice gesture to get me over a hump. They invited me back for Christmas and year after year include me in their family celebrations. Of course, we love it, because we get to see our nephew and his wife, with their 3 little boys, but their entire family has embraced us as theirs. We have come to cherish these people as if they were our real family, instead of just the people who adopted us, but when people ask me where I am going for Thanksgiving, they certainly look at me funny when I say, “My nephew’s in-laws.”
The Main Event
For me, this is the main event when it comes to Christmas. When holiday decorating comes around, the tree is the first thing to go up and the last thing to come down. It takes me all day long. If it looks overcrowded to you, that’s because the sum is greater than the parts. This isn’t just my tree. It’s also my mom’s tree and Aunt Edie’s tree. Three women, one tree.
Each item has a story, from the angel at the top to each hand-tied bow. Some decorations were hand-made when I was a kid, others were bought during travel or mark a special occasion. Many were bought on the post-Christmas shopping trips I’d take with Mom and Aunt Edie.
I don’t go out and shop the malls on Black Friday. I stay home and open box after box, reliving the memories of a lifetime of Christmases with the people I love. I even have ornaments given to me by that family I have Thanksgiving dinner with. I look at that tree and know I have been loved and that I still am, because each year people I love add to my collection.
Once the tree is up, then I can get to decorating the rest of the house and believe me, I have plenty of treasures passed down to me from Mom and Aunt Edie there, too, but there’s nothing like the time I spend decorating the tree and the joy I get from seeing all holiday long.
Taking Care of Bestie
My husband has two women who depend on him to get up their Christmas decorations. His first job is to drag my stuff out of the closet under the stairs and help me get my tree set up (which by the way was a real headache this year).
Then he must report to my bestie’s house and get up her lights. Her son helps get her tree up, but the lights are Bill’s job. This year the day was dreary and damp, but if we didn’t do it on Saturday, exactly when were we going to do it? We all have very busy lives.
Burgers with Bestie
As a thank you for the assist with the lights, we went to Wells Cattle Company, my favorite burger in Rockwall. There’s a lot of stiff competition for the title of best burger in Rockwall, but I sing the praises of the Wells Burger. No one has better meat than Wells and that’s the most important ingredient in any burger. Chatting with Lee Wells, the owner and proprietor, during this visit, he explained how they take one of their own whole cows – from the chuck to the prime rib – and grind the various cuts into the magical mixture that becomes their meat patty.
But there’s more to a Wells Burger than the delicious meat patty. Take for instance the size of their burgers. Recently, I had another local burger and when it was delivered, I couldn’t even wrap my mouth around it – and that is not a compliment. A burger is only good fresh, in my opinion, so those outsized burgers are a waste, and not as good as a Wells Burger. I never leave Wells hungry, but I also don’t leave behind a bunch of food or go home with a box of guilt.
As to fixin’s you can have as many or as few as you want. They have literally anything you might find anywhere else. I had my favorite, the Pimento Burger, Deb went for the Bleu Cheese and Bill had the simple Wells Burger with just the basics. All were scarfed up. While we were chatting with Lee, Bill voiced his opinion on the fries and we all got an education. Come to find out, what Bill likes are not actually fresh cut fries, like they have a Wells. To each their own, of course, but Lee told us the process he goes through (twice cooked) to get the fries thoroughly cooked. I personally like them.
I got lucky, because Saturday is Coconut Pie Day. I admit, my mom ‘s coconut pie is still my favorite, but Wells has a close second. For me it’s all in the meringue. I don’t like that thick, two inch mess some restaurants serve. I like it light, like my momma used to make. They also have good chocolate pie on other days. Everyone else opted for cobbler and Well’s does that well, also. I’m just not going to have anything else when good coconut pie is available.
What a great visit to my favorite burger joint. We were there a little late, so we missed the rush, which allowed us a really good visit with Lee. What a guy!!
Taking It Outside
With the tree up and Deb’s lighting taken care of, the next big job was getting up our outdoor decorations. I was very excited about this, because we have a totally new look from the wreath on the front door, shown at the top of the post to the lighted Nativity in the photo to the left.
Though we’ve lived here a number of years, for the most part I have made do with the decorations from our last house. We had a number of espaliered magnolia trees there, that we’d fill with outdoor ornaments. I moved those ornaments to our two front trees at this house.
My next door neighbor teased me that the two trees looked like Charlie Brown Christmas trees, but they were what I had. I’d had my eye out for a Nativity scene for a long time, but never could find exactly what I wanted, so instead of just buying another make-do kind of decoration, I just stuck with the Charlie Brown Christmas trees. I also had big red bows for all the lanterns and that look I liked a lot.
In the years since we’ve lived here, I had convinced Bill to get the lighted wreaths you see in all our windows. We went to an end of season sale a few years back and we’ve been very happy with them since. Obviously, they stayed. It’s a style I have loved all my life, but didn’t really have the house for it. Now I do. So when I upgraded my outside decor, I knew I’d keep them.
Last year, as I put up my exterior decorations, I knew they were on their last legs. The red bows had faded to orange and all the gold and silver balls I once put in my magnolias were fading and peeling. So, at the post-Christmas sales, I picked up a gorgeous new wreath and new bows. When I took down the old decorations, they went in the trash. Still, I couldn’t find a Nativity I liked. I don’t like the blow-up decorations at all. They just don’t match my house and while Hobby Lobby had a gorgeous half-life-sized set I loved, I don’t pay that kind of money for decorations.
I’d warned Bill about the state of our outdoor decorations. We live in a neighborhood where they really go for decorating. In fact, most homeowners pay for roofline lights to be installed every year, but I new that would never happen at our house. While he wasn’t ready to pony up for the roofline installations, he didn’t want to be Scrooge. So, on a recent visit to Home Depot, I noticed an attractive pre-lit Nativity set and pointed it out to Bill. In the basket it went, along with a couple of lighted deer.
And voila! Here we are. The lighted wreaths are the same ones we had, but everything else is brand new this year. What do you think?
Shutting Down the Weekend
So, I was supposed to deliver some albums Sunday evening, but my client had a sick kid she needed to take care of, so Bill and I decided to go to dinner. He was in the mood for BBQ, so I did a little research and told him about The Smokin’ Donut in Fate. Someone, somewhere had suggested it was great. I was a little concerned when I found out it was inside the Fate Gas & Grocery, but we were feeling adventurous. When we got there, he was distracted by some re-programming he was trying to do on the car, so I decided to run in and scope things out.
There was indeed a doughnut shop inside the Grocery Store, but I didn’t see (or smell) any BBQ. I asked if she indeed did have BBQ and she assured me she did, but I noticed they had exactly one table with someone sitting there devouring a doughnut. This scene was not conducive to Bill’s enjoyment, even if they happened to have the world’s best BBQ.
We redirected ourselves to the local Olive Garden to fill up on salad, soup, breadsticks and some pasta. We ended up with plenty to take home for Monday’s evening meal. It wasn’t BBQ, but it was good.
Come back next week! Wednesday will be our big night at the Bellagio and on Thursday, I’ll be talking about the costs associated with traditional albums.