Thursday, December 08, 2011

Ohio Christmas

I hadn't been home to Ohio in winter in over twenty years, but this was the perfect year to come. It was colder in Arizona than it was in Ohio, and Arizona had snow. If you're expecting to see snow pictures from Ohio, forget it.

Once in a while, I interrupt the book broadcast for something personal. I spent the last week enjoying time with family. The beginning of December was a better time to come home than Christmas. Everyone had time to get together. If I had come at Christmastime itself, one sister would have been in California, and other people would have been spending time with their immediate family. This worked out perfectly.

I flew into Cleveland on November 30th. Arriving at 6:30 p.m. since that lousy Continental changed my flights. I had intended to have more of that day with my Mom, as well as more time today, departure day. But, I had a great visit. And, Wednesday night was so nice. Mom and I went through the house, looking at all of her decorations, including her Santa collections.


And, Mom made Layered Mint Chocolate Fudge. It was so good, my friend, Janet Rudolph, shared pictures and the recipe on her blog, Dying for Chocolate. It was fun to see Mom's fudge on Janet's page.

Every time I go to Ohio, I catch up with Millie Schilman. I worked with Millie when I was a  page at the library in Huron, and she was my children's librarian when I was the Director there. I always said Millie was the heart of the library. Millie was delighted with Mom's Christmas decorations, saying Mom's house was better than a gift shop.

Millie Schilman and Me

Friday was the day for Mom's side of the family, the Smiths. We met them at Berardi's, a Huron restaurant, and then went back home to spend the afternoon talking. (Berardi's is going to miss me. We met people there four times in a week.) Had a wonderful time catching up with my Uncle Kenny, his wife, Janie, another Aunt Janie from Westlake, and my, cousin, Carol Jeanne.

Uncle Kenny

Aunt Janie
Sisters-in-laws and Computer Geeks, Aunt Janie, Mom, and Aunt Janie
Mom and Carol Jeanne

Then, Uncle Kenny and Aunt Janie's daughter, Amy stopped in. I hadn't seen Amy in years. We were able to get a cousins' picture. Carol Jeanne is the oldest female cousin (sorry, Carol), I'm just about in the middle of the females, and Amy is the youngest.

Smith Cousins - Carol Jeanne, Me, Amy

My sister, Linda, arrived for the weekend soon after all the Smith relatives left. And, she brought dinner, a quiche her husband, Kevin, made, along with the wine.

Linda makes me laugh. She's so funny. And, her gift for Mom made all of us laugh. It was one more addition to the Santa collection. We hung Mom's new Santa shower curtain the next morning.

Mom and Linda with Mom's new shower curtain
On Saturday, my youngest sister, Christie arrived with her daughter, Elizabeth. Christie is as funny as Linda. When we were all young, we took turns each year putting Baby Jesus in the Nativity scene. So, almost thirty years later, Christie insisted it was her turn.

Christie's daughter, Elizabeth, takes after her. Mom said her oldest grandchild's picture belongs as the star on the top of the quilt tree. Elizabeth thinks her picture belongs on top, the youngest grandchild. So, she always sneaks it up there when she visits.

Then, Linda almost blew the Christmas presents when she gave them to us. She gave Christie my present; then caught that the wrong person almost opened the earrings that say, "OH" "IO."

Linda in her new scarf

Christie opening MY gift

Lots of laughter over dinner and Mom's gumdrop bars and fudge before cousins on my Dad's side of the family arrived for the evening. We try to get together with John and Juanita, and Lois and Duane every time I come home. We tell family stories, laugh about our Grandpa and Grandma Growel, and just enjoy being together.

COUSINS - Back - Brother and sister (and our cousins) - Duane and Juanita, Me in the middle, then my sisters, Christie and Linda

On left - Duane and his wife, Lois. On right - Juanita and her husband, John

Back - Me and my niece, Elizabeth. Front - Christie, Mom & Linda

After Mass on Sunday, Linda and I caught up with parents of classmates when we went for coffee and doughnuts. Then, the rest of the day, before Linda left, was spent in hysterical laughter at times as we told and made up stories.

Monday was my day for classmates, lunch with one friend I always see when I come home, Fran Geretz Chubak, and then dinner with Jim's Aunt Blanche, and two of her daughters, Cindy and Carol. I went to school with Carol. (Yes, dinner at Berardi's. Great place to go for Lake Erie perch.)

Christie took Tuesday off from work, and arrived in the morning. She surprised both of us, bringing springerles to bake. Of course, I blew the picture because I ate one of the cookies before it was baked. Even the dough is good. So, her tray is a little off, thanks to me. Sorry, Christie. But the springerles were wonderful.

Christie and the springerles

Christie brought news of the Sandusky Public Library. She'd been there the night before, and said we had to see their Christmas tree. So, we all ran in to see the tree made out of books. The library is just beautiful anyways. The tree was really fun. And, we were lucky enough to run into one of the librarians who put it up. Samantha Chada said she and the Director, Julie Brooks, had just done it the day before. Christie's timing was perfect.

In the afternoon, we all went to Petitti's Garden Center in Avon, and spent a delightful hour looking at all the Christmas decorations and trees. Then dinner, and off to my aunt's where we met my cousin, Terri. Terri was nice enough to be the driver to the Palace Theater in Cleveland, where we all went to see Celtic Thunder's Christmas show. The first act was Christmas songs, and the second act was their Voyage show. Just as magical as their earlier shows this year. My mother said she loved it, but what she really enjoyed was watching my face. She said I was glowing.

Christie stayed overnight, and left for work from Mom's. My last day in Ohio was spent just enjoying Mom's company. And, it snowed! Honestly, I hadn't seen snow for probably ten years. The last time was in Chicago at PLA. I really didn't care if I never saw it again. But, it was just flurries, and it didn't stick. That's OK with me. And, since it was colder in Arizona this week than in Ohio, I picked the perfect week to come.

It's always the perfect time to go home, though, when you can spend it with the people you love. Thanks to all my family and friends. And, lots of love and thanks to Mom, Linda and Christie.

                          Merry Ohio Christmas!


Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought about writing a book, Lesa? when it comes to families, you are a delight to read! Love ya!

Bev Stephans said...

What a great tribute to your family. It looks like you had a delightful time with everyone. Thank you for a truly inspiring post.

(I second the book query!)

bermudaonion said...

That just proves that it's not the date, but the spirit, that makes it Christmas. It sounds like you had a wonderful visit.

Judy Starbuck said...

It's been fun to enjoy your vacation with you, Lesa. What a perfect celebration with a wonderful family.

Joe Barone said...

What a wonderful post! Thank you.

Kaye Barley said...

I have loved reading this!!! Thank you, sweetie, for sharing your family Christmas with us - it was delightful!!!

Loved seeing the pictures and now able to put a face with a name when you mention everyone.

You have a wonderful family. Why are we not surprised?!


Karen C said...

Not having family, I loved reading about your trip home. Thanks for sharing your family with us.

Anonymous said...

What a great time you must have had! I really enjoyed reading your Christmas story and am glad that you got to spend time with so many relatives and friends. Isn't it funny that AZ was colder than OH? Your pictures are lovely and all of you look like you're having so much fun!

Liz said...

What wonderful memories, and pictures to go with. Happy holidays, Lesa!

Lesa said...

Thank you, everyone! I'm back in Arizona. Tomorrow, they're expecting snow in Ohio, so my timing was perfect.

And, thank you for all the nice comments about my family. We had a wonderful, wonderful time together.

I don't know what 2012 will bring. I do plan to go to Bourchercon in Cleveland in October, followed by a visit home again. Mom's already planning it! We always have great times together as a family.

Beth Hoffman said...

Wow, Lesa ... what a terrific post! Thanks for sharing this with us. I'm so glad you had the opportunity to spend such quality time with your family and friends, and how great that Amy stopped in too!

Loved the Christmas tree at the Sandusky Public Library, and that shower curtain is a hoot!

Welcome home, my friend!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Beth. You'll be pleased to know the cats all welcomed me home, although I think Stormy was REALLY reluctant to see the cat sitter go. I think Stormy has really found a friend.

Isn't that shower curtain fun? Linda is a great gift giver.

It was a good week. We all enjoyed it.

Kaye Barley said...

darn. I think Blogger ate my post. I hate that.

Thank you for sharing your family Christmas with us, Lesa! It was fun, and I loved being able to put some faces to some names now.

You have brought the true spirit of Christmas to us with your smiling face and loving family.

Hugs, sweetie!!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Kaye. And, I'll take those hugs, and send some back. Yep. Christmas is about family and friends, isn't it? You know that. I can tell in all your posts how much you love Donald, your mother, and Harley. Great to have family to go home to.

Inside A Book said...

I cherish the blessings of families!! I'm so glad that your visit was everything you wanted.

Gosh, good food, good friends and good family. It sounds like the perfect vacation.

Welcome back though.... your kitties and bloggees missed you!

Lesa said...

Thanks, Jill. You're right. It was a perfect vacation. I had a friend tell me though, that I take my good times with me, because I always know I'm going to have a good time.

Yes, at one time or another during the night, all the cats came to bed. They missed me. However, they love their cat sitter, and they cuddled with her a lot, too.

Ingrid King said...

Anonymous said...

This was wonderful, Lesa!


Lesa said...

Thank you, Brenda! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Ingrid King said...

I don't know why my comment about the Springerle turned into the URL of your blog, Lesa! Blogger twilight zone!

I loved reading your account of your Christmas visit, and I especially loved hearing Springerle mentioned. I think that's quite possibly the first time in the 27 years I've lived in this country that I've heard them mentioned. Thanks for bringing back some childhood memories!