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The Christmas Secret My Sisters Couldn't Keep!

Christmas celebrations at my mom and Bob's house were always extremely special. Franny loved the holidays and would go all out, decking out their home, inside and out. She also delighted in buying gifts for everyone and would often begin shopping and stowing things away for the following year before the current year's Christmas decorations were packed up and stored.

With Mom setting this example, it's not surprising that I and my three sisters Sandy, Brenda, and Molly tended to mirror Franny's Christmas spirit in our own homes.

This became somewhat challenging at one point when we were all living in Texas. Our families had grown to the point where buying gifts for so many people was not only expensive but also, the time it would take to open all those presents could easily exceed a couple of hours! (Franny would insist that we take turns, going around in a circle, opening the various boxes and bags one-by-one, then holding up whatever it was you'd received so that everyone could 'ooh and ahh' over it)

One year, after the gift opening had gone on for so long we had to have a couple of intermissions, my sisters and I were discussing how we could dial things back a little. "This has gotten a little out of hand," I told them. "James and I have scaled back on the Simmons side of the family. I think we need to do the same here at Mom and Bob's.

Brenda, a mother of five, was quick to agree. "Let's do it! It will not only help financially, it will also allow us to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas."

It was about that time that Franny joined our conversation. "I have an idea," she interjected. "Why don't the five of us draw names? That will reduce the number of gifts to buy and I think it'd be a lot of fun. We could set a dollar amount and do the drawing at Thanksgiving next year when we're all together."

We were all in agreement to give this new approach a whirl—and, trust me when I tell you that our spouses were thrilled!

"Oh, and one more thing!" Mom continued. "We won't tell each other whose name we've drawn. That'll make it even more exciting!"

Before we knew it, Thanksgiving rolled around again, and directly after dinner, Franny gathered her girls in the kitchen. Always planning ahead, Mom had already written our names on paper slips that she'd folded and placed in a small basket. "Now remember," she warned. "You all promised not to tell who you're buying for. That will take all the fun out of it!"

She waited while my sisters and I assured her we wouldn't tell. Once she had everyone's word on secrecy, Franny passed the basket around and we each drew a name.

With this task completed, Mom joined Bob in the living room, leaving the post-Thanksgiving cleanup to her daughters.

We fell into our regular kitchen duties, Sandy and I handling rinsing off the dishes and loading whatever we could fit into the dishwasher while Brenda wrapped and stored leftovers in the refrigerator. Molly busied herself clearing whatever had been left on the tables.

Our small quad was working like the well-oiled machine we'd become after many years of kitchen detail when Brenda leaned over to me and whispered, "Okay, who'd you get?"

"Hey," I objected quietly. "Remember, we're not supposed to say?"

"You're right," she sighed. "I'm just not happy with who I've drawn. You wanna trade names?"

Sandy, overhearing our conversation, laughed. "Mom didn't say we couldn't trade. That wasn't one of her rules! I'll happily switch names with you, B. I drew Franny and we all know how hard she is to buy for!"

Upon hearing this, I immediately turned off the water. "Wait! You couldn't have gotten Franny!" I insisted. "There's no way because I drew Mom's name!"

At this Brenda dug in her back pocket, pulling out her slip. "Well, how interesting is this?" she asked with a grin. We watched as she unfolded her slip and held it up for us to see.

I shook my head in amusement as Sandy and I read mom's name aloud together.

About that time, Molly came bustling back into the kitchen, her arms loaded with the last of the dishes. Seeing the three of us comparing the slips we'd drawn, she set down her load. "What's going on in here?" she demanded suspiciously. "Hey, you guys are cheating!"

Ignoring her protest, Sandy asked, "Just one question, little sister. Whose name did you draw?"

"I drew Mom," Molly replied.

"And so did the rest of us!" I said with a laugh. "It seems our mother has rigged the drawing! I'd bet you money that the slip Franny drew has her name on it too!"

"I'm sure you're right," Sandy said laughingly. "Mom wrote her name on all five slips!"

"I think we need to go have a little chat with Momma," Brenda exclaimed. "Come on, you guys!"

The four of us filed into the living room where we found Franny and Bob kicked back comfortably in their favorite recliners. As soon as we lined up in front of her, we could see that Franny was wearing a silly smirk.

Bob, obviously in on Mom's little prank was chuckling loudly. "Franny knew you girls couldn't keep a secret!" he said.

Mom sighed and made a show of checking her watch. "Hmm," she remarked casually. "You didn't even last fifteen minutes after we drew names."

We were all still laughing over what she'd done when a thought occurred to me. "Hey, what if we actually had kept your secret!" I asked.

Giving a mischievous giggle, Mom quipped, "Then, I'd say this Christmas would have been a very merry one for me!"

Christmas past (left to right) Me, Molly, Sandy, Franny and Brenda


Closet ClotheSure Challenge Week 47

I decided it'd be fun to include some of my formal wear in my ongoing quest to reduce the number of clothes I own. Since I'm not going to the office the last two weeks of 2020, Week 47 and Week 48 will feature some of my "fancier duds". In keeping with the rules of Closet ClotheSure, I'll be donating any outfit that doesn't make me feel like a "ten".


I kicked the week off with this lovely, silk bustier from White House Black Market and a long black tulip skirt I purchased years ago at J.C. Penney. (I cut the tags out of it so I can't even share the designer with you) I'll hang onto both of these pieces a while longer.


I've often referred to this sensational beaded gown by Papéll Boutique as "The Magic Dress" because I've loaned it to several women and they've all looked fabulous in it.

This includes one of my BFF's (yes, you can have more than one!), Kathy Gibbs, who rocked it at AAGD's 2019 Saphire Awards.

Incidentally, Kathy (at left) is now the proud new owner of "The Magic Dress".


NW (Nightway) is the designer of this full length, bright pink number. It hugs every curve! I've never actually worn this gown and recently handed it off to a good friend of mine knowing she'll get some use of it. Incidentally, I normally don't let my husband's opinion factor in on what stays or goes during The Challenge, but James really hated everything about this dress! Considering that there are so few formal occasions that I actually attend these days, it wasn't hard to give this one away.


This off-the-should gown from Calvin Klein has been "hanging around" in my closet for a number of years. I purchased it to wear for a New Year's event with the Houston Apartment Association which I attended with my son Jacob.

I've always loved the "diamond" adornment on the shoulder and the gown is really beautiful.

But, alas, I decided it was time to kiss it goodbye since I've grown tired of it. Whenever I find that I'm not looking forward to wearing something, I know it's time to let it go!


I normally don't include Fridays in my weekly selection of outfits since it's considered Casual Day at our office. But, since I'm not going to the office for the last two weeks of 2020, I'm throwing a fifth formal piece into the mix with this Eva Mendes sparkly silver dress:

I bought the dress for a song after Christmas last year at New York & Company. I refer to it as my "Fish Dress" because the sequins remind me of fish gills. You can push the sequins around so that they are black or silver. I've only worn this dress one time and decided it was a little too trendy for my taste so it got Santa's boot!

In case anyone is keeping score, that's four out of five outfits I've cleared out of my closet this week! Winning!

Wishing everyone a happy Christmas and a very blessed New Year!





Naughty Dallas Dog—he knows he's not supposed to be on the furniture! Check out those guilty eyes!


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