Sunday, December 6, 2009

Taking a break from holiday madness

DID YOU EVER NOTICE there's a black hole between Black Friday (super retail shopping day) and Black Monday (super e-tail shopping day)?

It's that transitional time just after Thanksgiving, when the mashed potatoes have finally been chipped off the windows and the turkey carcass recovered from under the couch, and before the dusty Christmas decorations are retrieved from the attic and again come to life in our living rooms.

That tiny window of time offers us a chance to reflect on the immediate past (How we ever got through Thanksgiving Day without having to call the cops) and plan for the upcoming festivities (How we'll spend the next few weeks prepping 'til we're pooped). That's why I decided to invite a bunch of friends over for a "Ladies' Post-Holiday Recovery and Pre-Holiday Revitalization Party Plus Make-A-Scrapbook Craft" afternoon.

After sending out last-minute invitations, I received a few regrets from those still trying to get the cranberry sauce out of their tablecloths, trapped in line at the mall, or simply scared off by the word "craft."But those who came seemed eager for a day to themselves, no matter what the party theme. We were all looking forward to relaxing for a few hours while consuming mass quantities of chocolate.

For entertainment, I asked my talented daughter-in-law Sue to show us how to make a Christmas Memory Keeper scrapbook out of ordinary paper lunch bags. I figured we could use it to keep pictures of our grandchildren, or at least a decorative lunch.

Luckily for those of us who are craft-impaired, Sue had prepared all the materials ahead of time, making this challenging task easy for those of us who'd eaten too much paste in preschool. Even the ones who'd never held a tape dispenser or a pair of scalloped scissors before quickly learned how to cut, stick, and embellish.

After everyone arrived and had eaten their weight in chocolate, we sat at a couple of tables and began covering our book-like paper bags with glitter and jewels, ribbons and trim, and Santas and snowflakes.

The younger generation — my pregnant daughter Rebecca and her pregnant friend Julie — were advanced and able to multitask. They managed to talk nonstop about cesarean sections, birth plans, and baby clothes while whipping out their works of art. Meanwhile, our table — the table with those of a certain age — could barely manage to say "pass the Rolos" while cutting a piece of ribbon.

I'd expected to be done with this project in less than an hour, leaving plenty of time for chocolate refills — three hours later I was still adding pictures of penguins and poinsettias. When I finally finished, I realized there was no room left for photographs of my grandchildren.

Oh well. The Memory Keeper is adorable, if I do say so myself, and Ladies' Afternoon Off accomplished what I'd hoped for. It provided refreshing R & R between two hectic holidays. The bonus was we all ended up with a festive place to store holiday memories.

Now that I know how, I've just started working on a second Memory Keeper. This one is for storing memories of a fun afternoon with friends. I should be done by Christmas...

Reach Sue Warner at


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