Holiday Traditions

Holiday traditions are something I think everyone looks forward to. They can be anything from watching certain holiday movies to making desserts that we only enjoy during the holidays.

Our favorite tradition, which started about ten years ago, is a gift exchange with Don’s Aunt, we’ll call her Betty. She has a great sense of humor, just like Don, and they send each other gag gifts each year. Everyone in the family looks forward to hearing about the exchange. Some family members will try to ferret out what we are doing so we have to keep our ideas in strictest confidence so that the surprise is not spoiled. We also have to be strategic about when we mail off our gift because if it arrives early, Betty won’t wait until Christmas to open it. We always look forward to opening her gift on Christmas day and then calling her to see what she thought of her gift. There’s always a lot of laughing and ribaldry and usually at least one reference to Don as “you little shit!”

The tradition started as a bit of a fluke. One year Don happened to come across an ugly old clock, complete with horns, in his parent’s attic. He gave it to Betty and the following year she gave it back. And with that, a new tradition was born. Since then the gifts have been silly, offensive, and even raunchy at times. They are always trying to one-up each other or what they did the previous year. It’s all in good fun. If you don’t particularly like coarse humor, this may not be the post for you. No hurt feelings if you decide to skip on to your next email or blog subscription. Go ahead and hit delete now; I’ll never know.

For those who like a good laugh and don’t mind a little silliness, I’ve listed a few of the gifts from over the years below. (I’ve spared you the raunchiest ones.) These are not listed in any particular order since that would require a lot of work and research on my part and I’ve already written and re-written this post far too many times today.

To Betty: “Trailer Trash” Wind Chimes that we made out of an old plunger and empty beer cans to decorate the porch of her single-wide trailer.

To Don (and Kevin): “Ear-muffs” made from bras and brief waistbands. Kevin models his nicely below. (I don’t know why I don’t have a picture of Don with his but I wasn’t going to keep digging through the old 35mm photos.)

To Betty: A singing fish we “won” at a White Elephant gift exchange (Dirty Santa to some.) My co-workers thought it was a riot that we actually wanted the singing fish and stole it from someone else so we could give it to Betty.

To Don: A box of packing pellets with a note, “I though you could use some of these.” (I think this is my personal favorite. I laughed my ass off after pouring them all out all over the floor looking for the gift in the box.)

To Betty: Around this time our gifts moved from a “trailer trash” theme to a “redneck” theme and we enlisted Kevin in the fun. We mailed her an old motorcycle tire (yes, we really did) with an instructional DVD for planting her own Redneck Herb Garden outside her trailer. (View it on When we called her, she hadn’t even seen the DVD. She had nearly died from laughter at the tire, thinking that was the whole joke. We had to point out the DVD and tell her to watch it and call us back. That was a good year.

To Don: A pair of broken glasses (to poke fun at Don getting older.)

To Betty: A certificate for “Best Living Aunt on Dad’s Side” (only Aunt really), listing all her various names (having been married too many times to count.) We framed it up nice and pretty-like.

To Don: A teddy bear with tiny little plastic balls sewed down there.

To Betty: A Redneck Defibrillator made from metal spatulas and jumper cables with a training video. (View it on She’d been having some tests done that year and Don thought it might be handy to have around.

To Don: A plastic turd, dressed up for the holidays, with a note, “Merry shitmas!”

To Betty: A fake vacation getaway package that we put together to the worst hole-in-the-wall hotel in her own hometown. We made off-color coupons for local businesses, found poor reviews online for the hotel, and put together the most official looking vacation package we could muster.

To Don: A can of spotted dick. (I’m still trying to figure that one out. Looking it up now to give you a link I see that it supposedly tastes pretty darn good. It’s still in the cupboard from last year; I wonder if it’s any good…)

To Betty: A gift pack of Redneck toys: Pick Up Sticks that we made using a Pringles canister and we filled with tiny tree limbs we collected outside; a Ball-Cup Toy made from the ear of a deer Don hunted that year; and a Puzzle, a small box we filled with sawdust from our barn.

I can’t tell you what we came up with this year, it would spoil the surprise for everyone but I’ll do a gift reveal after Christmas and share what they exchanged. I can safely say that Don’s gift to Betty should generate some good laughs. Our package from Betty is waiting patiently under our tree and we can’t wait to see what she sent this year.

I hope you enjoy your traditions, whatever they may be; if you don’t have any yet, think about what you might like to start. Traditions don’t have to be old, they can start anytime.

Happy Holidays! 🙂

Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.
~ Margaret Thatcher

In Memory of Annie K. Hartman

I have been away for a few days in Texas. Don’s grandmother passed away peacefully at the age of 86 last Friday. (Obituary here.)

I didn’t feel like I could go back to posting recipes, movie reviews, and other everyday little bits of life without saying a little something about Annie K. Hartman.

I didn’t get a chance to know her well, but I did meet her a few times and I think she was a strong woman who survived many struggles in life. I’ve heard so many wonderful, crazy, and colorful stories of her life and the lives of my mother-in-law and her family – especially over the last few days as the family came together to honor Ann and celebrate her life.

Cody and Lee


Aunt Florence and Linda


Heather and Lee, as well as many others, said a few words for Grandma Ann.


The procession to the Griffin Cemetary.


Family finds comforts from one another.


The final walk.


A last goodbye...

Rest in peace Grandma Ann. You were well loved and will be missed by many.

A Visit To Washington

Some readers may have already seen these other ways but I thought it would still be fun to post a few pictures of our trip. We had such a great time. The weather was perfect – I hear from just about everyone that it’s turned grey and chilly already since we left. So glad we were able to enjoy some time outside with friends and family while we visited.

A day at the beach in Ocean Shores

A day in the mountains on Mt. Pilchuck

Another day in the mountains to explore Garland Springs

Good times with friends and family

We look forward to visiting again soon!

Each moment is a place you’ve never been.
~ Mark Strand

Saying Goodbye

This post is dedicated to my mom and her dog Buster.

Buster was a good friend. He was with the family for close to fifteen years. He was Mom’s first Corgi and together they conquered the world of obedience and agility competition, and so much more. Buster took the world by storm. Perhaps his most notable accomplishment though was that he was Mom’s best friend.

After a long struggle with bladder cancer and simple old age, Buster quietly moved on to Rainbow Bridge last night.


When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days
and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing;
they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet,
so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown

In loving memory of
U-OCH,U-ACHX Kraghaus Royal Dustbuster UDX,RE,MX,OAJ,PAX2,MXP7,MJP5

You will be missed buddy.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. “
 ~ Anatole France