The Latest from Lola's Diner

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What was the best Christmas Party you ever attended or hosted?

One of the replies to one of my Christmas traditions posts made me realize that posting these has helped me reminisce and is really helping me get into the Christmas spirit. I hope it’s giving you all a chance to get into the Christmas spirit too!

Today’s questions is:

What was the best Christmas party you ever either attended or hosted?

And yes, I’d love to hear your drunken office party stories too. Lol!

I have to cheat and share 2 Christmas party stories. Hey, it’s my blog and I can do what I want.

The best Christmas party I ever hosted bk (before kids) was a potluck “theme” party. The theme was childhood favorites. I think this was the best idea for a party I ever had, and the most successful party I hosted. My contribution to the party was a baked ham, homemade split pea soup and homemade apple pie. One guest made the most delicious, incredibly fattening, wonderful, homemade Macaroni and Cheese. The most notable contribution though was Fluffernutter Sandwiches. I thought these things were nasty sweet, but in terms of following the theme, they were definitely the winner.

The best Christmas party ak (after kids) was the year of my son’s first Christmas, my daughter was 1 ½ years old. First a little history on that year’s Christmas. I was living in Chicago at the time and decided to bundle up both kids and head to Marshall Fields on State Street to visit Santa. First off, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. Dragging two little ones on your own all the way downtown isn’t the greatest of plans, but I was determined to have their pictures taken with Marshall Fields' Santa. Thankfully the line wasn’t very long and we made our way up to Santa and the Elf photographer fairly quickly. Finally it was our turn. My daughter was first. Santa didn’t even bother to chat, the elf parked her on his knee and went back and snapped the picture. No "and what do you want for Christmas" or "have you been a good little girl". Same thing with my son, park him on Santa's lap, shoot the picture. No coochie coo, no waving a stuffed animal to get his attention, just snap, grab him off Santa’s lap and pass him back to me.

When I got the photo packages I ordered I was furious at having spent a ridiculous sum of money for crappy, hastily snapped photos. It was not the 'memory' I expected after having plunking down that much hard earned cash. After we got home the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I decided to write a letter to the head of Marshall Fields Public Relations Department. I even called to find out the person's name. I figured if nothing else it would be an exercise that would allow me to vent. About a week later, to my surprise I got a phone call from someone from their Public Relations Department. The Marshall Fields rep apologized profusely for my bad experience and they wanted to make it right. They offered to send their best Santa (aka Mr. O’Riley) to our apartment so my kids could have a personal visit with him and we could take as many photos as we wanted. As luck would have it, we were having a holiday party that Saturday. They juggled Santa’s schedule and promised to have him stop by during the party. They also refunded the money I spent on the photo packages.

When guests started arriving at our holiday party that night we told them we ‘might’ have a surprise visitor. Everyone thought that meant that my husband (now ex-husband) would be ‘disappearing’ while Santa made his appearance. Boy were they surprised when Santa showed up and my ex-husband walked in right behind Santa. Santa gave our kids stockings filled with goodies and gave us mugs filled with candies. Santa had every child (and every adult that wanted to) sit on his lap and talked and laughed with each and every one. Santa let us take as many pictures as we wanted to. Everyone had a really good laugh when Grandma sat on Santa’s lap. The picture below is the only photo I could find tonight. I know I have more. If I can find them Sunday I will post more.
Marshall Fields was the best, truly. It’s really sad they no longer exist.

That's Santa and my daughter. She's still a cutie!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I listen to talk radio too much.

I'm too young for this. 'Old farts' listen to talk radio. I'm not an old fart. I think I've got a long ways to go till I'm an 'old fart'. In my mid 40’s. Ok…turning the corner past my mid 40’s.

(clears throat)

My name is Lola. And I'm addicted to talk radio.

Is there a 12 step program for talk radio addiction?

Last week I was looking to download some music for the kids ipods and I had to go to a radio station's website for play lists to see what the new songs are. I didn’t know All American Rejects has a new song “Gives you hell”. This is a radio station that is my #1 slot on my car stereo. I listened to it all the time...until talk radio hooked me.

It started quite innocently.

I tuned in for the Chicago Cubs games. Even though I can't stand Ron Santo (cough, cry baby). I do enjoy Pat Hughes play by play.

Then it was the election. I HAD to listen to keep up on the election.

Now…it’s BLAGOJEVICH!

Please!


I beg of you.


Help me stop.


Yesterday on John Williams show on 720am Wgn a guest referred to Blagojevich as a “sociopath”. Today on his show, they were predicting the possible ramifications to President Elect Obama. Could President Elect Obama be less than truthful about not having contact with Blagojevich regarding candidate #5?


Do we really need to sully President Elect Obama’s reputation? He’s an incoming President with probably the biggest set of economic issues EVER in the history of our country. Do we really need to take his valuable time away from those issues to have him waste his time on this?


Ok, tomorrow I have an appointment, so I’m looking forward to riding in the car and hearing what Kathy and Judy on 720am Wgn have to say about it.


I can’t stop!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Did you call in Gay 12/10/08? If you did, how did you spend your day?

Call In Gay - Day Without Gay

I didn't call in Gay today because my full time job is looking for a new one. Can't take a day off from the job search.

Did you call in Gay Wednesday? If you did, how did your boss take it? What did you do with your Gay day away from work?

What are your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions today as an adult?

In addition to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we also celebrate St. Nicholas Day by hanging our Christmas stockings. The stockings are usually filled with a few candy items, and a video game or movie. When they were younger it was small dolls and Matchbox cars. One year I was having a real hard time with discipline. Telling them that Santa was watching, faking phone calls to Santa, nothing worked. So I went to the garage, got a few pieces of unused charcoal for the grill and put them in the kids stockings along with a note from Santa reminding them that he is watching and that the behavior he saw was not good. The note asked them to improve and if they did he would stop by before Christmas and fill their stockings, otherwise, more coal on Christmas. I wanted to make the letter look official, but I didn’t have anything to do that, nothing to emboss it, no glitter even. Instead, I took glue and signed “Santa” in cursive and then sprinkled cinnamon over the glue and let it dry. The kids were quite impressed. Their behavior improved long enough not to have to go back out to the garage for more charcoal for Christmas.

For our Christmas Eve tradition now I make a couple trays of Sfincioni
for Christmas Eve. I also prepare veggie and cheese trays. I bake 2 quiches, one quiche is warmed up Christmas morning, the second we warm up the day after Christmas. It takes the craziness out of Christmas morning and makes it special, because I only make quiche for holidays. Lately my 13 year old son has taken to baking, so he will usually bake a batch of cookies so he has homemade cookies for Santa.

One thing that we don’t do, that we would really like to do, is to go as a family to Midnight Mass. We have yet to find a church in our area where we feel comfortable. Anastasia and I were both brought up Roman Catholic, and being that we live in the community where she grew up, she is not comfortable at the local church.

Christmas Eve we watch Christmas movies as a family. Sometimes we will stop at Anastasia’s Mom’s house and hang out for a while. My son sets out the cookies and a beverage for Santa. When the kids were little we would read “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.
Twas the night before Christmas
If Anastasia and I have any last minute Elf work, we send the kids to bed early, otherwise we let them stay up late so we have some hope of sleeping in a bit Christmas day. I don't put any gift tags on the gifts, just in case the kids find my hiding places. Remember "hiding in plain sight"? I pick a different gift wrap for each family member and all of their gifts are wrapped in that one wrap. A few times Anastasia has messed me up by getting into my color coded stash of wrap, but since she uses tags, it all worked out.

Christmas morning we open our gifts while breakfast warms in the oven. We usually head out to Anastasia’s Mom’s house after that to celebrate with her very large family. We usually arrive home after dinnertime and graze on any leftovers from the night before.

It’s hard to incorporate some of my childhood traditions because most of my family has passed away. Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles have passed away through the years. I moved out of state and the few elder relatives I have left have also moved away. It always makes me sad around this time of the year that we’ll never have the kind of Christmas I had growing up ever again. As much as I try, I know it will never be the same. But then I also think that making new traditions can also be enjoyable and hopefully cherished memories for my kids. I really look forward to everyone’s posts. Maybe by sharing our traditions we can glean a few new ones for ourselves.

Traditions are important. Cherish the memories.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Political Corruption Crime Spree?

Our Governor's 6am wake-up call, taken away in handcuffs the day before his 52nd birthday.

Happy Birthday Governor Blagojevich!

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich taken into federal custody

The head of the FBI office in Chicago said that "if Illinois isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor."

Federal agents confiscated evidence from Governor Blagojevich's campaign office and his home. They tapped his home phone.

We Illinoisians are so proud.



Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Eve/Christmas Day Past what were your traditions when you were growing up?

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When I was a child our Christmas Eve tradition was always to go in the early evening to my Italian grandmother’s house. The women and the children would play bingo and gin rummy for pennies in the basement while the men would play poker upstairs. We would snack on Sfincioni and my grandmother’s homemade Italian Christmas cookies. Sfincioni is like a cold Italian pizza or a cross between pizza and Focaccia. There is really no other way to describe it. It is served cold or at room temperature. It’s perfect for Christmas Eve because it can be made a day or 2 in advance. It gives the hostess the opportunity to join in the fun or go sneak off upstairs to wrap a few gifts.

At midnight we would all go to Midnight Mass at Immaculate Conception Church at the corner of KK and Russell in Milwaukee. Some of the adults would stay back and cook for when we all got back from church. After church we were greeted with Italian sausage and peppers. I don’t recall us ever staying to eat, and I surely ate my fill of Sfincioni and Italian Christmas cookies. It was close to 2am when we would get back from church and Grandma's house was filled with the smell of Italian sausage and peppers.

Christmas Day we would open our gifts at home, then head to Grandma’s house around 1pm. Grandma and my Aunts would prepare a Ham, mashed potatoes (my mother made them, no one made them like she did), along with spaghetti, meatballs, Braciole, Italian sausage, Italian salad served along with Italian bread, olive salad and fennel. As the years passed the menu shortened. The first to go was Braciole, I’m sure because it was rather expensive to make. When Grandma cut out the spaghetti one year everyone was up in arms. Even though us kids thought it was peculiar to serve it along with Ham or Turkey, we did miss it when it wasn’t served.

All us kids sat at the kiddie table. We finished our meal as quickly as possible because there were gifts under Grandma’s tree for us. Gifts were opened. After gifts we had cake to celebrate the birthdays around Christmas. And of course, more Italian Christmas cookies.

Grandma even sent each and every family home with a shirt size box full of her Italian Christmas cookies. She must have baked for months to make all those cookies.

Those Italian Christmas cookies were the best.

There were Chocolate Balls with nuts and dried fruit bits inside frosted with chocolate icing, Sesame cookies, Spritz Cookies, tri-color biscotti with white icing and almond slivers, star cookies with dried cherry or jelly in the center, pecan fingers, knot shaped cookies with white icing decorated with nonpareils, tree shaped cookies and star shaped cookies with colored icing decorated with silvers balls, sprinkles, nonpareils or colored sugars.

Tomorrow's post will be "Christmas Eve/Christmas Day traditions now", so hold on to those until tomorrow.
 
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