Category Archives: Oh Tannenbaum

Oh Tannenbaum 5 – Road Trip!

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In 2005 I was tired of work travel and itching for a good vacation. Naoto & I had taken several flying vacations before, but I wanted a road trip. I kind of hate flying, so sometimes the anxiety about getting on a plane is enough to spoil the relaxation in a vacation. Plus, road trips are a great way to see plenty of states.

We started in Iowa in Madison County. I’ll let you take a moment to giggle…I’ve always loved covered bridges, not necessarily because of the book or the movie, but because I visited one as a kid and I thought they were neat. Well, I probably didn’t think it was neat at the time, but as an adult, I grew to love them. I think Winterset, Iowa is just about the cutest tiny town in Iowa and I loved that the bridges held years of history…many initials and names were carved in the old wooden walls and the floor boards of the bridges were gorgeously worn.

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Our next stop was Mount Rushmore. On the way, we visited the “required” stops in South Dakota: the Corn Castle and Wall Drug, the Black Hills, Crazy Horse, the Badlands. Mount Rushmore was incredible…breathtaking…it’s absolutely amazing to think that it was designed and executed without technology… I am not someone who gets weepy about my country (okay, I sometimes am) but seeing those presidents sitting on a mountainside just made me feel proud of their hard work many years ago…

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Our final stop was…the SPAM museum. Naoto grew up in Hawaii from age twelve and is a huge SPAM fan. He ate it all the time growing up and he still eats it today (when I’m not around). The museum was great fun…the exhibits were interesting, educational, historical and hilarious. I think we giggled through the whole place. And we spent a fortune in the gift shop on crazy SPAM paraphernalia and “limited edition” SPAMs (that sit unopened in our pantry, yet still have a few years to go on their expiration dates…)

 

 

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Oh Tannenbaum 4 – Childhood

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When I was little, I wore these knitted red and green bells on my coat every December. They were a gift from my great-grandmother and they were out of rotation for many years. In junior high, it’s not exactly “cool” to wear knitted Christmas pins! Once I moved out on my own, I decided they would make a good ornament for the tree. This year I might borrow them for a day to use them in my childhood Christmas pin rotation.

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The green angel ornament is a gift from my grandmother. The angel is one of those painted wood ornaments that were everywhere in the 80s. I have a box of tiny ones that I pilfered from my mom’s collection. My grandmother and I picked it out together. Her wings are dated 12-21-1982, and though that was long ago, I remember this rare shopping day and how excited I was to have my own ornament to put on the tree.

Today, I am finishing my Christmas cards. Hopefully I can get them all in the mail tomorrow and my international friends get theirs in time (crossing fingers!) I still need to finish some last bits of shopping and all of the wrapping, and I need to poke through the closet to make sure I don’t forget anything I had tucked away during the year…so much to do before Christmas and so much to enjoy before Christmas.

 

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Oh Tannenbaum 3 – work travel

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My first job out of college was working for an education company. In the beginning, I traveled quite a bit, and traveling was an adventure. Somehow, I lucked out and always traveled with entertaining people, we went to interesting places and there was enough free time for shenanigans (not to mention the free-flowing alcohol and generous expense accounts).

Since our headquarters was (is) located in New Jersey, I ended up in New York City quite a few times. My first time in NYC was in the winter of 2001 for a staff training. I stayed the weekend with my colleague friends, Rita and Jeanine. We saw Chicago on Broadway, visited the Today Show (and made it on TV!), walked along Fifth Avenue and checked out Tiffany’s…cliche, yes, but fun nonetheless. On our walk around the city, we saw a group of sailors touring the city in their dress whites. I had just watched the musical On the Town and I when I saw the men in their perfect white hats, I couldn’t help myself and I uttered “Sailors!” Jeanine thought this was hilarious and she poked fun at me about it for the rest of our working days together. I found the teeny sailor up above at the Hallmark store the next Christmas…he reminds me of those first days of work (when things were fun!) and those first work friends.

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I went back to New Jersey that summer. I decided, even though no one else was staying the weekend, that I wanted to head back into NYC. To this day, I have never taken another solo trip like this, but at the time, I felt such a wave of independence wandering through Central Park and the New York Public Library, taking the subway to a Yankees Game, seeing Rent…all on my own.  I bought two library ornaments that summer–one for me and one for my mom (a librarian)–and every time I hang mine on the tree, I remember that trip and that exhilarating feeling of freedom.

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My last trip into New York City happened a few years later. It was Christmastime…Christmas in New York City is magical…someday, I want to go back in December again with Naoto. I ventured into the city with my colleague Maurice (who was Irish and was best Japanese/English interpreter in our company). Maurice and I walked through Central Park and saw all of the people ice skating and we explored Fifth Avenue. We ended up in Macy’s choosing Christmas ornaments–one for Naoto and one for his girlfriend, now wife. I picked out this yellow cab–which ended up being a little ironic because Maurice and I ended up spending a fortune in cab fares just to get back over the bridge into New Jersey…

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For some reason, the only other work-related travel ornament I have is Elvis. I went to Graceland twice with my company (apparently Memphis is an inexpensive place to hold meetings). As a matter of fact, I wasn’t such an Elvis fan until I went to Graceland. My first visit was at Christmastime…Elvis loved Christmas (so I’ve heard Priscilla and LisaMarie say a dozen times). The house was decorated with Elvis’s now-retro decorations and there were plenty of lawn decorations and lights everywhere. Blue Christmas is a holiday standard around our house.

Thanks for a little walk down memory lane with me…a few more days of memories are coming up!

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oh tannenbaum 2 – Avon calling

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When I was five, we moved to town into a home of our own. Soon after moving in, a strange women carrying bags full of make-up, perfume and costume jewelry appeared at our door. It was the Avon lady, Linda Lee Laible. Linda Lee dropped by our house twice a month to show my mom all of the latest jewelry and various shades of blue eyeshadow from the Avon catalog. She always wore at least five Avon rings (on each hand)–she was like a walking display case. Linda Lee had a fancy gold metal box where she kept her money and I can still hear the coins inside rattling around as she made change for my mom’s purchase (in cash, always, because no one paid with a credit card back then).

Christmas time was the best, because that meant new ornaments showed up in the catalogs, and my mom always picked some good ones. Lucky for me, I have a few of them. These are a few of my favorites. The Precious Moments angel (above) is tiny and sweet. Because the angel is so petite, she is always near the top of the tree (next to Charlie).

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This one (above) is pretty enormous for a Christmas ornament. It’s about six inches across and yes, it is a little retro-ugly, but i love that about it. I use it to fill in the “holes” in the lower branches…with an ornament this bold, no one notices a little space between the branches!

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The Christmas gift was one in a set of three, and my mom had two of this one. I love the mirrored red and the fabric ribbon and fake holly…it seems very late-80s Avon to me.

Linda Lee retired quite awhile ago, and now most Avon sales are done online…which probably makes more sense…because really, unless you lived in a small town, would you let just any over-accessorized woman in your door?

Sadly, Linda Lee passed away this year and Avon was listed in this article as a business that won’t survive through the end of 2013. It kind of makes me want to start hoarding their hand lotion…

 

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Oh Tannenbaum 1 – Charlie Brown

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My favorite part of Christmas decorating is rediscovering my ornaments. I love that they make an appearance once a year, and I never have time to get tired of admiring them. Most of my ornaments have sentimental value, so unwrapping each ornament is like untucking a tiny memory. Back when I had my other blog (which is no longer online and was pretty much only read by one person–Hi Mom!) I did a little series about my ornaments. I’m going to revisit (and rewrite!) those old posts and share them with you here…

Charlie Brown is the first ornament on the tree every year. And he’s always front and center. Like most American children, I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV every holiday season. I have a soft spot for Charlie Brown–his awkwardness, his continued faith in a humanity that tests his will, his kind demeanor… And I have a softer spot for this ornament. It was the first ornament I purchased for my first (skinny, fake) tree after graduating from college. I was newly on my own, newly employed and newly dumped by my college boyfriend…but it was a good Christmas, full of family and friends. Charlie Brown is a good reminder of all the bright spots in the holidays that year…and every year.

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