From the Desk of Dora DePaoli: The nice and the tired

January 04, 2002

Lots of nice things happened this Christmas. A pair of longtime Holtville sweethearts became engaged, a most-deserving Holtville grandmother was surprised with a new car by her grandson and farmers who harvested lettuce made a killing.

One of the not-so-nice things was a friend's refrigerator going out three days before Christmas, and she had plumbing problems at the same time.

One local woman thought she would save herself lots of time by getting an artificial tree with lights already affixed to it. This didn't work out as planned. Stuff kept coming apart on the revolving tree and she ended up returning it three times. Then her sister's dog helped itself to a nicely wrapped gift under the tree when the family was out. The puppy took it out the doggie door. They later found an almost intact Barbie doll in the yard.

Our family had another great Christmas. The first kids came Dec. 21 and the last one left Dec. 31. My kids surprised me with a big gas barbecue and some fur-lined boots. Apparently my daughter Gina was in a hurry to get home the day she bought the barbecue. Thinking it was heavy enough to stay in place, she didn't bother to tie it down in the truck. Before she got far she learned it wasn't that heavy.


Gina says she has learned her lesson about always tying things down. The slightly damaged barbecue worked perfectly as the kids fixed a scrumptious Christmas Eve dinner of steak and shrimp.

We only saw the grandchildren at meals. Kids' favorite toys to play with are other kids, and they played outside all day. My grandson Eric was having so much fun with his cousins he didn't even open his Santa Claus gift for three days.

The kids pretended the tree house was a fort and hauled all sorts of stuff into it. A couple times they entertained us with Christmas songs and little verses.

My children were into practical gifts this year. My daughter Mary received a gift certificate from Home Depot for a new bathroom faucet from her husband, Dave. He said she might get a certificate to install it for Mother's Day.

One of my granddaughter Devon's Christmas gifts was tickets to hear the British marching band Blast at the Orange County Performing Arts Theater. Mary said Devon loved the band but she was just as impressed during intermission when mother and daughter sat at tall tables and sipped Shirley Temples. While getting off the stool Devon peered under the table and exclaimed: "There's no gum under these tables!"

On Christmas we joined relatives and friends at my niece Becky's house and enjoyed another delicious meal. After dinner we played "Weakest Link." Players were asked a round of questions and then there would be a vote to get rid of the "weakest link." Those living north of Keystone got a bit aggressive toward the end of the game. They even ganged up on Devon. They took up the cry, "Get rid of the little girl."

A couple days after Christmas my daughters cleaned out their kids' toy boxes. The girls all said they were "brutal" while disposing of things. They hadn't talked about it but ended up getting rid of stuff the same day. It was a "sisters thing," one of my daughters said. "Like the time we went shopping for sandals when we were teen-agers, and all three of us came home with the same pair."

One of my Christmas treats was getting to go for a spin in David Ritter's new fire-engine red Thunderbird complete with the cute little portholes. The snazzy little car is a dream to ride in.

My daughter Debbie and her family in South Carolina had a quiet Christmas with no relatives there for the holidays. Although their kids got a neat gadget to allow them to swing from tree to tree in their yard and fancy Roller Blades, their favorite gifts were remote-controlled cars from Aunt Gina.

Debbie said she was exhausted. I can understand why she would be tired. She substitutes at the children's parochial school, is active at her church and serves as room mother for three classes. In addition to this she was again in charge of ordering and distributing 1,500 luminarias for the neighborhood.

"For a change I'd like to be one of those mothers who just show up for their children's parties with freshly manicured nails and frosted hair," she said.

I told her it wouldn't work. She has a sign on her forehead that says: "I can't say no."

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