Holiday “Doings” at the Buxton’s

A few days before Thanksgiving, I opened the closet in the study where much of our Christmas decorations are stored and began setting out boxes. At ground level of our front deck, I ducked my head, walked under, opened a storage door and pulled out a couple of boxes that hold outdoor lights. Never before Thanksgiving had I festooned our home for Christmas. This was a first–a glorious first. I reasoned (in case someone would complain, which they did not) that last year because of my cancer surgery, my Christmas celebration had been limited. I’d make up for it this year.

What a season it has been.

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Rebecca brought up a lighted bare-limbed tree and felt leaves on which each of us could write down one blessing, and at the table before the sumptuous Thanksgiving meal, we read aloud our thanks. (Imperial Sir Winston knows he is a major treasure in our lives, and thus positioned himself.)

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The weather described perfect winter holidays. Cold, foggy and snowy. Some of us piled into our trusty Jeep and drove the mile or so down to the lake, where Andrew and I braved the cold and ice to take pictures.

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A soup so great that at the end my guests were tipping the huge crockpot to scoop out one more bowl was central to the food we served at our “almost annual” neighborhood party the first Saturday of December. Twenty-six relatives and other friends graced our home.

dsc_5259Among them was this gorgeous baby boy who resides with our new neighbors who live just around the corner on the street that leads to the woods.

dsc_5153            Mrs. Claus dropped by, as did the “real” Santa, another new neighbor, but I didn’t get a good picture of him. You know how sneaky Santa can be sometimes

And . . .wonder of wonders . . .for a few hours before Christmas Day was done, each of my children was here in our home.

Before we opened our gifts that Sunday morning, our patriarch led us in a simple time of worship. He wept as he spoke of the love of God, and for the love of his family. Each of us, except the very youngest, told words of love and blessing. Jerry asked Nate to read from Luke the story of the nativity.

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The gifts were distributed by a very skinny Santa. Gentry is 6’3 and almost 19 years old. These are his legs.

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Our gifts to each other were simple, for we are a simple family, and are old enough and wise enough to understand value and deep joy lie in places other than within the contents of beautiful boxes tied up with elaborate bows.

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Even a couple of greats showed up with their dad, Chris, and because we were out of beds, they joined the others who had stretched out camp bags and quilts, or snagged a couch for sleeping on Christmas night.

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dsc_5441Winston (and us) was blessed to have four of his dog cousins join us for the holidays. He liked some of them; others, sadly, he did not. You’re seeing Charley here, who lives with Andrew and his clan in San Diego.

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During all the holidays, no one had won a game of checkers against Cole. He is the family champ. On the day before they were to leave after Christmas, he challenged me to a game. He had beaten me badly during their Thanksgiving visit. Embarrassing, and I had escaped him . . .until now. Guess what! I beat the little rascal . . . whipped the socks off him. He grinned, and said, “Want to play another one, Granny?”

You must be kidding, I thought. “Nope, I think not,” I very wisely said.

The deed is done. The 2016 holiday season is finished, and we have moved seamlessly into the year of our Lord Twenty Seventeen. None of us know what the days ahead hold. Both joy and sorrow will visit us; success and failure; good days and bad ones; laughter and wretched tears. For us, the extended Gerald Buxton family, we put our trust, our confidence, and our faith in God, in Jesus Christ, the righteous

Blessings to you and yours.

The Fall of the Acorns

dsc_4599Through the night they fall from high oak trees, clang onto our roof, then bounce onto one of the decks, or onto the driveway that leads to the house. In the morning Jerry will sweep them up . . .again. The winds have increased, the temperature has dropped. Autumn, beautiful autumn, has arrived. The scent of ripening pears from our tree in the back floats through the air. The pears are perfection. Sometimes we eat one out of hand, or again on a small plate beside a slice of cheddar or a scoop of goat cheese.

Days 15 and 16 of 16 Days with the Grands *Preparations for Leaving*

The last two days of this great visit I encouraged the youngsters to be sure they had all their things gathered, so that they would leave nothing behind. I believe I have mentioned before that these grandchildren like to discuss what we will be having for meals. I had told them sometime before that on the 16th day, which would be Tuesday, we would have fried chicken. And so we did . . .along with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans (which they spurned !) and a green salad.

dsc_4564As she had for every meal we ate in the dining room while the youngsters were here, Ella set the table. She always does a fine job, setting the silverware properly and choosing cloth napkins to blend with the dishes we have chosen to use.

Andrew and Shawnna’s plane arrives in the late evening, so arrangements had been made that they would not come to our place until Wednesday morning, which was actually the 17th day.

On Wednesday morning, I did final laundry for them, spruced up the house, urged them to get their bags packed, and helped them remake the beds after I washed the sheets. Jerry had decided to smoke ribs for the big afternoon meal, and Rebecca and Nathaniel would join all of us. The day was warm; we set up tables on the back deck.

. . .and then they were here.

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I became distracted and got few photographs after that.

We spent several hours together before they had to leave, hearing a few of their adventures and seeing pictures of magnificent Hawaii on their computer. Andrew and Shawnna both have quite an artistic flair, and each of them produces beautiful photography. She uses a cell phone. Andrew has a Nikon. The youngsters told of their adventures, and Cole even snookered his dad into a game of checkers.

On the north shore of Oahu, actually within the sea, Andrew had the good fortune of finding a large piece of coral. He and Shawnna gifted his dad and me with this magnificent piece. . .and with this very touching card.

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And then they were gone.

It is quiet now. Too quiet.

 

Days 13 and 14 of 16 with the Grands *The Last Weekend*

Since he was a small boy, Cole has been quite a checker-player, and when he brought the thick board down from the game room to challenge me a couple of days ago, he said he had not played checkers for a long time. Throughout Saturday and Sunday he and I played many games. Sometimes he beat me, and from time to time I “laid it on him.” He also played with Brady, and kind, big brother that he is, he even took time with Ella and instructed her a bit.

One day Ella helped me peel apples and I made a couple of pies. Rebecca had invited the crew to spend the night with her, but Nathaniel was not going to be home, so only Ella accepted the invitation. One of the pies was for Nathaniel and Rebecca, so we drove down to San Bernardino where to Aunt Becky’s place we delivered an apple pie and sweet Ella.

On Sunday we went to church at the Garretts in Yucaipa; afterward we ate together at Farmer Boys, a chain here in California (elsewhere?)  that serves great hamburgers, and a few other things. Had a great visit with Holly who had just spent a week in New York and had lots of pictures to show me. Cole and Brady sat with Zac and Ian, and seemed to have a good time with them.

I continue to be plagued with a cold, and now Brady has joined me in this little fight against pesky cold germs.

These grandchildren of mine are wonderful human beings; responsible, kind, and loving. They’re missing their parents somewhat I believe, but do not seem to be terribly homesick. Every day–sometimes more than once–they FaceTime their parents.

Day 10 of 16 with the Grands *Restocking Day*

I had intended that Ella and I spend a chunk of this day down the hill shopping to restock the cupboards and the refrigerator, for both areas were now showing empty spaces . . .and the little mouths, the medium-sized mouths, and the big mouths were still chomping away. But she was tired from the late Disneyland trip, and still sleeping, when it was time for me to go. Brady was up and ready.

“May I go with you, Granny?”

“How about your school work?”

“I only have two more chapters to read, then I will be totally finished. Not just for today, but completely.”

So, he took his book, jumped in the car, and he and I jaunted off to San Bernardino. First stop was the 99 cent store where I stocked up on wonderful sourdough bread, grapes, tomatoes, and a few other things. Second stop was Aldi. Third stop was a remarkable thrift store in Loma Linda, a tiny place, that from time to time places hand-lettered signs on the door that announces spectacular specials. Today a sign read, ALL FURNITURE $5.00. “Five dollars?” I asked the clerk

“Yes.” She smiled broadly. As I say, the place is tiny. Couches were stacked atop each other, fine wing-back chairs were crammed about, and a most magnificent headboard in which I had interest was pressed against the back wall. But I passed it by, for it just was not a good day to be trying to buy a headboard, stick it in the back of the Jeep etc……..

Fourth stop was Wal-Mart, and because my list had nicely dwindled, I canceled stop number five which was to have been Costco. The only problem was I had planned to buy a rotisserie chicken there for dinner. But we had things in the freezer I could pull out.

Home, then. Everyone helped unload all the goodies, and later I baked peanut butter cookies to make up for the less than stellar meal.

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Day 9 of 16 with the Grands *Disneyland!*

It was around 8:00 on Tuesday morning when hubby drove Ella and me down to connect with Rebecca and the boys. The Disneyland day had arrived; their gates opened at 10:00 and we didn’t want to miss one minute. It surprises me a bit, but Disneyland allows food to be taken onto their grounds, so we each had frozen bottles of water, and sandwiches, trail mix, granola bars and such were in the backpacks that were the order of the day.

img_0461The women.

img_0467-2The men.

The day was as perfect as any could be. Warm weather, but not too hot. Slightly humid.img_0516-2

img_0495The mouse ears. Love them and the little girl who wore them all day.

img_0496At the entrance Rebecca and I told the boys they could split off from us if they wanted, and as we spoke we decided on a place to meet later in the afternoon for a meal together. However, it worked out that in the early part of the day we were in the same places, in particular we entered the Haunted House together. Ella was terrified. Nathaniel was so sweet with her all day long. He hugged her up when she was so frightened, and often they walked hand in hand. Ella dearly loves her big cousin, Nathaniel.

img_0541I can ride these tea cups, whirl as fast as they go, and never feel a touch of dizziness. We had met up with a family from Rebecca’s church. London shared a cup with us.

Once when Cole and Brady were with us women and we talked of getting some food, the boys entered a food place where we were sitting outside. Somehow they thought they had to spend their own money for this meal and when I followed them in a few minutes later, Cole said, “I don’t think I want to eat here, Granny.” One slice of pizza was $8.00! We wandered around a bit, found a hamburger joint and ordered our food there; Cole’s hamburger and fries was $12.00!

“What do you want to drink?” I quizzed all of them. The drinks were nearly $4.00 each.

“We’ll get water out of the fountain and put in our bottles,” Cole said. I know I have mentioned it before but these grandchildren of mine are really exceptional; thoughtful and not greedy at all.

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It’s a bit strange, I suppose, but Pirates of the Caribbean has always been my favorite attraction at Disneyland. Ella loved it too, and we wound up going there twice. I think all together we covered most of the rides. I did not like Space Mountain. Too dark and loud. All the kids loved it.

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We closed the place down, and even the boys were  complaining with leg and foot pain before we got to the parking lot around 10:00. I chose to wear these not too beautiful tennis shoes, and at the day’s conclusion had only a little pain over one of my toes.

“Granny, those rainbow laces,” Cole had giggled when he saw my shoes early that morning.

It was a glorious day!

 

Day 8 of 16 with the Grands *The Dump, Pears, and Zinnias*

On Monday the phone rang. I answered.

“Granny, this is Nathaniel. What if I come up at 5:30 and bring Paisley to spend the night? And if its okay, the boys could go with me to play basketball at the church this evening. They can sleep over at our place, and we’ll meet up with you and Ella at our house in the morning.”

In that way the final plans were laid for the Disneyland trip. Rebecca and Nathaniel were joining the Buxton grands and me, as Jerry had decided the trip was a bit too strenuous for him. He would “baby-sit” Paisley and Winston.

First, though, the basement clean-out job must be finished, for the trip to the dump/thrift store had earlier been postponed in favor of something else. Ken lent his trailer, Cole and  Brady helped their Pappy connect it to our Jeep, then loaded it, and tied it down with a tarp. They were off, and in less than two hours were back.

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Sad. There go my green chairs with the beautiful carved legs. 😦

dsc_4519I haven’t engaged in a lot of creative photography since the youngsters have been here, and I’m disappointed that at Disneyland I will not have my camera with me. I have decided not to take it, but to use my phone instead. We’ll be taking bottles of water, lunches and snacks, and my camera and favorite lens are quite heavy.

But in the back yard, the pears are nearing harvest time and are stunningly beautiful.

dsc_4515. . .as are the zinnias, which are nearing the end of their days.

dsc_4521The boys and I sat down at the dining room table as I gave them money to spend at Disneyland and to tell them how proud I am of their behavior, their work-ethic, and their fine manners. They loaded up their backpacks, I fed them dinner, and by 6:00 Nate had come and they were gone down the hill. Disneyland tomorrow!

Days 5, 6, and 7 of 16 with the Grands *Sleepover, Picnic, and Church*

What a pleasure these grands continue to be. Dependable and cooperative, they follow the few house rules we’ve laid down, and are even quick to do their school work right after breakfast each morning. Ella has finished her entire packet, so she’s far ahead of schedule. They talk frequently with their parents in Hawaii by “FaceTime” and don’t seem to be homesick to any great degree.

In preparation for our attending a church musical concert in Rialto on Friday evening, I had them select the clothes they would be wearing. At this point, Cole discovered that somehow he hadn’t brought his dress clothes. Off to the thrift store we went, where he could find no pants to fit him, but he did find a shirt that he would match up with a nice pair of jeans he had. Nathaniel had called to see if they could spend the night and of course that was fine with me. At church after the concert, Ella approached me about her being a part of the sleepover with her cousin. Aunt Becky said it would be fine, that she had an extra toothbrush and such. So hubby and I made the trip up the mountain late Friday with no youngsters.

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Days ago we had planned a picnic down at Lake Gregory for Saturday, so it worked out fine for Rebecca to bring the children home and be a part of the festive day. I fried 15 drum sticks, whipped up some potato salad, and she brought chips and peanut butter and oatmeal cookies she had baked.

dsc_4480dsc_4482Of course we took the dogs. Although not from the same litter, Rebecca’s Shih Tzu, Paisley, is Winston’s sister. A ball of activity, she loves to play fetch.

dsc_4496Winston splashes about in the lake up to his belly, but he never takes off swimming. Brady took him for a couple of walks through the beautiful wooded areas lining Lake Gregory.

dsc_4484Handsome, talented Cole.

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11:20 am 9/22 Revision

Whoops! Forgot to add that on Sunday, the 7th day of the grand visit we dressed for church and drove down to Rialto to attend The Lighthouse Church where Rev. Tim Spell was the special speaker . . .and singer. Rebecca had been sweet enough to invite us to her home for lunch where she had prepared burritos made of buffalo sauce and chicken. Delicious. Mid afternoon we headed up the hill where in the evening we “attended church” by way of live-streaming. At the Anchor Church in San Diego Rev. Fred Childs preached a moving, vital, powerful message.

Day 3 of 16 with the Grands *Winston’s Birthday Party*

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Pappy needed a little help with a couple of things to spruce up the Buxton place, so Nathaniel came up to join with Cole and Brady for an hour or so of yard work.

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Ella baked a cake with the help of Brady and Duncan Hines, I found three candles in a party drawer, and we invited Rebecca’s Paisley, and Shelby, the yellow lab who lives across the street. Wednesday was Winston’s birthday, so of course we must throw him a party.

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dsc_4459We tied gold ribbon around Winston to dress him up a bit, we served doggy treats on party paper plates, but the celebration did not last too long. Shelby and Winston don’t get along too well, and Winston kept barking at his beautiful neighbor. The party broke up after about three minutes and Brady snapped on Shelby’s leash on and took her home.

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The youngsters’ Pappy didn’t seem too impressed with the party favors, but he played along.

dsc_4469Later we showed Winston his birthday cake, helped him blow out the candles, then we ate generous squares of the luscious chocolate. We did feed him a sweet crumb or two.

Day 2 of 16 with the Grands *Biscuits, Gravy, and Disneyland*

I “blew it” on the first day the youngsters were here, but I didn’t find out about the mistake I had made until the next day. When by snickering whispers, knowing looks, and finally a confession, I learned what I had done. I felt like poking every one of these three in the middle of their funniest bone to make them suffer. Happened this way:

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People who live here in southern California will probably find it hard to believe, but these youngsters of mine have never been to Disneyland. Never. Now I don’t believe they have suffered in any way for this lack of entertainment for they’re well adjusted friendly people, and don’t seem at all disadvantaged or in any way abused or neglected. 🙂 Anyway, I decided to treat them to such a trip while we are keeping them, ran the details by their parents, then ordered and printed out the tickets. It would be a secret, I decided. They would know we were going on a very special outing, and only when we arrived at the gates of the “happiest place on earth” would they know our destination to be Disneyland.

I was so excited. And so dumb. Left the tickets in full sight on the desk in the study; a desk that is not off limits, a desk where they are allowed to work, and to get tape, pens and such from its drawers.  Ella saw the tickets first, ran to tell Brady, then Cole saw them a few hours later. None of the little rascals right away said anything to me, but when I mentioned the secret trip they had blank looks on their faces, nodding wisely and sweetly. Finally Cole whispered to me, “We’re going to Disneyland, aren’t we Granny?”

“These youngsters of yours are little rats,” I later told Andrew on the phone.

“How did they find out?” he wanted to know. “Brady emailed me last night that they were going to Disneyland.”

Amidst slightly embarrassed laughter, I told the deed. And now you also know the saga of the almost secret trip to Disneyland.

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For breakfast on Tuesday we had biscuits and gravy, and when we were eating dinner, Brady said, “I love biscuits and gravy, Granny. We could have that for breakfast every day.”

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During these days we’re eating breakfast and lunch at the bar, and since we only have four bar stools I’m usually not sitting with the rest during these times. Love seeing Pappy with these special grands, hearing him say a prayer over the meals, or asking one of them to do so. Unforgettable, dear times.