Category Archives: Reverb

Reverb 16 | Prompt 27 | Gifts

Sarah and Kim have been sharing Reverb prompts and  Meredith and I are back in the saddle.  Because writing can be fun.  And we all have a lot to say.  Join us.

Gifts.  Sometimes we get gifts that we don’t want or need.  Are you honest with the person who gave it to you?  Or do your gift givers follow a tried-and-true wish list?  If you’re returning a gift this season, what is it and why?

Here’s the thing.

I do not come from a family of wild gift givers.  My Grandma Juaine was probably the most esoteric, yet passionate gift giver.  Her greatest hits including giving middle school-aged me an opera tape, my brother Billy a Power Ranger and my cousin Pete a ladies’ windbreaker.  These gifts were always accompanied by envelopes containing checks.  It was interesting, to be sure.  My cousins and I still laugh so hard we cry when we recall these Christmas scenes because every year it was something new and unpredictable.

I don’t know about you, but as an anxious gift-giver, whenever someone is opening something that I have given them, I am watching them Like A Hawk, waiting on pins and needles, hoping that they love it and if they don’t love it that they at least like it.

Anyone else here?

So I like to think that when I open gifts, hardened by years of training opening Grandma Juaine’s presents, I am able to apply the same level of enthusiasm that I hope to see in others.  That is to say, that I am an Expert Level Present-Facer.

If the gift isn’t perfect?  I hope you will never ever know.

In my linen closet, I have a gift basket that is (primarily) composed of candles and then an odd assortment of Things I Have Received That Were Nice But Not Quite Right For Me.  When Occasions pop up, more often than not I go through that gift basket first to see if some or all of the applicable gift exists in there and if it doesn’t (or it’s not quite enough!) I head out to complete it.

And if it’s just absolutely the wrong thing in every way?  I donate it without batting an eye.  There is surely someone else who needs it more.  I surely do not need more clutter in my house.


Reverb 16 | Prompt 26 | Boxing Day

Sarah and Kim have been sharing Reverb prompts and  Meredith and I are back in the saddle.  Because writing can be fun.  And we all have a lot to say.  Join us.

Boxing Day.  What does this holiday even mean?  I think Harry Potter does it.  But how do we unwind after the holiday?

Hey, happy Boxing Day.  How’s it going?

Once upon a time I would have told you that we spent the day watching movies, possibly making some time-intensive meal and fiddling with the presents that we received.  Maybe even some internet shopping just for the hell of it.  I hope that you enjoyed yours.  I really hope you did.

For us, that’s never happening ever again.

Last week, Marcus’ car decided that it was actually done with its time on this Earth.  We knew it would happen at some point but apparently mid-December was a bridge too far and so with the transmission repair worth more than the 10 year old sedan it was time to get a new (used) one.  Today he and Billy went off to observe their very first-ever Happy Honda Days and sourced the vehicle that they tentatively identified as The One last week.

We are of course so thankful to be able to get a car when we need it but that doesn’t make it any less of a fantastic hemorrhage of cash.

Meanwhile, on the home front we had to switch Critter to formula because mastitis completely killed my supply and there was no more milk in the freezer.  Seems pretty logical IMO.

After his first taste of formula, the little lad determined it was actually poison water and now he is terrified of his bottle, no matter what blend of formula or breast milk-formula or whole milk is contained therein.  So for the last 48 or so hours he has been on a quasi-hunger strike.  In an impressive feat he did manage to down 3/4 of an adult-sized bowl of chicken wild rice soup and an entire greek yogurt in one sitting but we are still BEGGING him to take literally any bottle. This is obviously very energizing because his patience level for anything is at zero and his righteous indignation about this life change is at 100%.

So this is me.  Unwinding.  We’ll give it another shot next year.

Reverb 16 | Prompt 19 | Little Ones

Sarah and Kim have been sharing Reverb prompts and  Meredith and I are back in the saddle.  Because writing can be fun.  And we all have a lot to say.  Join us.

Little Ones.  Whether you have kids of your own or not, there is likely a small person about who would like your attention.  Tell us about what the kids in your life are asking for this season.  Do you have any rules about how much to gift?

This is our first Hanukkah and Christmas with a little one.  Critter is too small to ask for anything.

I don’t know in what Pinteresting-place I saw the whole Something You Want, Something You Need, Something To Wear, Something To Read-thing but we pretty much tried doing that x2 this year to cover the eight days of Hanukkah.

What does that look like practically speaking?  Critter is getting a new set of swimming gear in the next size up, a fire truck, a xylophone, a drum, bath toys, and two Sandra Boynton books.

The whole extravaganza cost less than $100 and I paid for it using a stack of gift cards we had floating around.  We’re probably not the flashiest friends on your Facebook or Instagram feed this year and for a multitude of reasons that is okay.

There are no rules right now.  Probably, there will never be rules.  99.9% of the stories I hear about people trying to set gifting rules end in family strife and it just isn’t worth the energy to me.  In fact, I distinctly remember telling Critter’s Great-Grandfather that since he is in fact, the Great-Grandfather he can purchase Critter literally anything he wants to for Hanukkah.  I’ll let you know what puppy Critter receives next week (just kidding! but seriously…I have no idea what Gary has up his sleeve).

Since neither Christmas nor Hanukkah are actually about gifts, my only hope is that as Critter gets older he is able to love everything about these holidays that makes them special for us.  The family time.  The food.  The coziness.  The joy.

Whatever gifts you’re giving this year, and whatever gifts you’re hoping to receive, I hope that your holidays are filled with the people you love and the warmth that comes from choosing to celebrate during the darkest days of the year.

Reverb 16 | Prompt 10 | Holiday Eats

Sarah and Kim have been sharing Reverb prompts and  Meredith and I are back in the saddle.  Because writing can be fun.  And we all have a lot to say.  Join us.

Holiday Eats: What dish do you look forward to each year at the Christmas party?  Share the recipe if you can!

Every year, for as long as I have been alive, my Uncle Steve has made a cider-brandy beverage called Glugg!  From Thanksgiving through the end of Steeler season, it makes an appearance at all of the big events.

As little ones, we drank a non-alcoholic version (so…spiced cider).  As adults?  Full octane!  And it is obviously crucial that you know my grandma loved the raisins.


  • 2 quarts apple juice
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 T whole cloves
  • 8 whole cardamom pods
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 pound golden raisins
  • A fifth of dark rum (or to taste)
  • A fifth of brandy (or to taste)


  • Shell cardamom pods and crush seeds between two spoons.  Mix cardamom with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
  • Place all spices in a clean handkerchief and tie tightly with a string.
  • Place spice sack in apple juice and simmer covered for 30 minutes.
  • Pour in raisins and let stand overnight.
  • Before serving, bring apple juice to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and let stand for one hour, uncovered.
  • Add rum and brandy, heat but do not boil.
  • Serve in mugs.

Reverb 16 | Prompt 8 | We Are The Griswolds

Sarah and Kim have been sharing Reverb prompts and  Meredith and I are back in the saddle.  Because writing can be fun.  And we all have a lot to say.  Join us.

The Griswolds:  Family is everything- a gift, a struggle, an unpredictable mess.  Give us your Griswolds story that would end in #wearethegriswolds

Can I confess something for a moment?  I didn’t know who the Griswolds are.  I had to look this up on Wikipedia.  And then I was reminded that they were that National Lampoon series with Chevy Chase and I recalled that here and there I had heard of them before.


And the first thing that leapt to mind was one summer, when we were Up North At The Cabin and we had decided to go tubing down the Pine River.  Because my family is the most embarrassing family that exists, my cousins, aunts, brother, and mom piled into a pair of minivans to drive to the launch point.  Wearing our lifejackets.  One of our adults remarked that if we got pulled over, the police would think that we were certifiably insane.

Which only serves to bring to mind another ill-fated adventure on the same river.  Another year, when we were all much older (read: actual adults), our merry band decided it would be Exciting to tube down the entire Pine River from the dam at Crosslake to our own lake.  Only one cousin had done it before and since Mom and the aunts could only vaguely recall how that had gone for them like 30 years prior we had to know.

It started off well.  We were tubing down the river, just like we had during so many other cabin trips.  And then after we passed our usual pickup point (where my husband and Cousin David wisely chose to exit), the water…sort of disappeared.  Like, not everywhere.  But at least half of the time we were walking through puddles, dragging our tubes with us, 15 year old aqua socks on our feet.  It was not…quite what we had imagined.

We were overjoyed when we finally found ourselves wading back into water that crept over our chests.  Moving down the river, we then realized that this water was…not moving.  So for the next hour we swam and kick-paddle-kicked with our tubes.  There were no clouds in the sky.  We had exhausted any water (or beer) we had packed at least an hour earlier.  We finally emerged from the river channel into our lake’s back bay, where we were rewarded with muck and a football field worth of razor weed that we were forced to make one final dog-paddle through in order to reach our pontoon.

The indignity did not end there.  My Uncle Douglas had to personally haul each of us out of the water as each of us succumbed to a full-body cramp upon our exit from the water.

At least now we remember what it means to go tubing all the way down the river.

Reverb 16 | Prompt 7 | White Elephant

Sarah and Kim have been sharing Reverb prompts and  Meredith and I are back in the saddle.  Because writing can be fun.  And we all have a lot to say.  Join us.

White Elephant: What are the gifts you’re looking forward to giving, or hoping to receive?

I am a terrible gift giver.  Not because I lack love for the people in my life, but because to be completely honest, giving gifts gives me just a monstrous amount of anxiety.  I want it to be thoughtful.  I want the recipient to actually want the gift.  I fret if it is neither of those things.

There is the year that I made my brother a calendar of photos of taxidermied mice.  That met the requirements of being demented and totally unsolicited in one fell swoop.  I still laugh about it to be honest.

Really though, the inspiration for the right gift is so rare, that if any sort of whiff of inspiration so much as comes near me, I am sold.  This year I started much earlier than later (read: October) and was rewarded for my efforts with what is for me, a semi-stash of gifts to be proud of.

On the other side of the coin (and I feel like this is a REAL topic change), now we have a child.  Which means that where for years Marcus and I have been able to skate by, without any “real” need for tradition or exchanging of gifts with one another, now we must begin to do these things that seem so unnatural to us.  I want this Hanukkah to be the first of many celebrations for Critter but it is so hard to find the line between “he won’t remember this one” (really, he won’t…he’ll only be 11 months old) and This Is The First Chapter In A Very Long Book.

\We’ll all just have to wait and see.

Reverb 16 | Prompt 6 | Sunny Surprises

Sarah and Kim have been sharing Reverb prompts and  Meredith and I are back in the saddle.  Because writing can be fun.  And we all have a lot to say.  Join us.

Sunny Surprises.  Most of North America starts to get frosty and cold this time of year.  If you had an unusually warm (tank tops and flip flops warm!) day unexpectedly and didn’t have to work, what would you do?

Just last week, I had a dream that we were at the Cabin.


It was lovely.  And then, the morning after, I looked out the window and thought, God It Is Only December.  In the best-case scenario, we are still five months away and then some from the fishing opener.

In other words, do not talk to me about summer yet.  If we cannot be at the cabin.  If we cannot be fishing for the world’s smallest Northern Pike, this is not even something I can entertain.