Monday, December 29, 2014

Our {Non} Traditional Christmas

Christmas week was a busy one for Dan at the office -- client meetings, tax planning, transitions ... all rolled into 2 1/2 workdays.  And the last few days of 2014 will be busier than ever with only a couple of shorter days to do more year-end planning with more clients.  So, it seems pretty natural that our Christmas week would end up a little non-traditional ...
Christmas Eve was just the 2 of us --- so we went out for a nice early evening dinner at
Brio Tuscan Grille then on to Christmas Eve service at church. What an amazing service! We've always loved Christmas Eve services ... preparing our hearts for the Baby of Hope and the reason why He came.
And for the first time in their little history, Lucy & Tag woke up on Christmas morning in their own new home ... and of course Granny & Grandad were on the road to their house before 6am!

 After presents and after our Christmas lunch -- family pictures ...

Never ... ever a dull moment in our household!
On Friday, the four of them came back down to our house for the weekend. We were supposed to celebrate Christmas with my parents on Friday, but unfortunately they were very sick -- Mother is still recovering from her dose of the flu.  Not sure when we will all get together, but these 2 little ones sure missed their Great Ones! I love to see all of them together ... and we all look forward to sharing Christmas soon with them! 
But, Lucy had another surprise for Saturday afternoon ... we gave her & her parents tickets to see
The Nutcracker at one of the city's newly renovated theaters!
And while they were enjoying this world-renowned ballet ... Tag had an afternoon outing with his grandparents.  Dan & I took him downtown to see the display of reindeer (which are lit up at night).  He had such a great time (even in the afternoon) -- as did his grandparents!

 No matter where we celebrate
no matter when we celebrate
Jesus came to give us a relationship with Him
{so perhaps that's one of the reasons why our family relationships are so important to us}
I'm not sure when I will have the chance to post again ...
but Dan & I want to wish you all a healthy and

Happy New Year 

Thanks for stopping by to share our Christmas with us ~~~
May God bless you & your families, dear friends!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

One Christmas Tradition That Stands Past, Present & Future

{One of the things I love about the Christmas season is "sharing". Truth be told, I was not going to attempt another blog post until after Christmas. However, I was asked to write a post about Christmas traditions from a nice person at Patience Brewster, a designer of unique gifts & Christmas ornaments.
So, I hope my readers cherish your Christmas traditions as much as I do. And may YOU be inspired to "share" at this time of the year and always. God bless, my friends ...}

This time of the year finds many of us reflecting on childhood Christmas traditions as well as those throughout our adulthood.  Now that I'm a Granny, the Christmas season comes faster & faster.  It seems not very long ago that we took this picture ...
Christmas 2013 with Lucy & Tag
Nor that long ago when this happened on Christmas Eve ...
Jacqueline & 'Joes wedding Christmas Eve 2005
And one of my favorite Christmas pictures from 1988 when "what God had joined together" was holding steadfast to the baby of Hope
for restoration and redemption ...
Seems like in just mere blinks ...
years pass by ...
and we long to hold on to at least a few childhood traditions.
My childhood Christmas memories always mesh Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  For many years, my parents & I lived with my Granny and my Mother's youngest sister.  My aunts, uncles and cousins lived within a short walking distance on my Granny's homestead.  One of my Mother's sisters and her family lived away for many years, but always was home for Christmas. And so ...
Christmas Eve would have us all at Granny's house enjoying our Christmas Eve party ... sandwiches, chips, homemade desserts ---
and my Mother's punch. 
{Here's a pic of her punchbowl -- a baby gift from her boss to honor her first born ... me}
It's over 50 years old and has seen many Christmas Eve parties of my own family as well as other special occasions.  It will be passed down through my generations for years to come with many stories yet to tell and parties yet to hold their family punch. 
This year as Lucy & Tag were helping us decorate our tree and their special trees (pink for Lucy when she was born and blue for Tag on his first Christmas) ... they both gravitated to a special ornament that hung on our traditional tree.  Lucy found her Momma's "St. Nick" storybook ornament from 1990 given by Lucy's great-grandparents & great-aunt.  And Tag found his Momma's wooden airplane from my parents as well when she was probably around a year or so old.
But, as much as "traditions" surround us and consume us during this time of the year ... the one tradition that gives us the motivation to withstand the preparations and the endless lines and the non-stop excitement of precious little ones is simply the tradition of
From the little girl surrounded by her family not only on Christmas Eve ...
not only on Christmas Day ...
not only every holiday of every year ...
but every single day. 
Most of us lived in our little "holler" and was with each other everyday. Yet, every Christmas Eve and every Christmas Day found all of us gathered at our Granny's house.
Presents simply did not matter to us ... we had each other. 
Laughter ... excitement ... family 
Christmas Past has ushered in each Christmas Present in which old traditions may very well still exist, yet some traditions are simply memories.
And Christmas Present provides the grooming of new traditions mixing with some of the old to pave the way for Christmas Futures to take hold of the reins for generations that will follow us.
The tradition that's stood the test of time and
will in our household for generations to come ...
is the anticipation of the little baby of Hope ...
whose little arms one day would spread open to save the lost mankind
whose little feet would be nailed in wood to pay the ultimate price for our sin 
whose little voice one day would welcome His Father's children to their eternal Home
As today gives way to Christmas Eve in just a few short hours, may you treasure this little baby of Hope in your Christmas Past traditions
and open your hearts to Him in this Christmas Present
as your Christmas Futures see Him through you for generations that follow.
Merry Christmas my dear friends ...
May God continue to bless you & your families throughout the New Year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Card Tradition

Christmas cards have always been a big deal for me.  Ever since I was a little girl, I loved getting Christmas cards in the mail -- and sending them to my family & friends as well.  My Mother always stacked our cards in this Santa holder ...
I remember always looking to see how many cards came in the mail for us & who had sent them! One of my favorite things I did with my Mother as a child was to make Christmas baskets out of old Christmas cards.  My Mother was always so creative (and still is) ... and we would make some of these baskets to gift away to some ladies in our little community.  We filled them with candy canes and little special touches such as mints, handkerchiefs, bookmarks, etc.

Mother would write on the bottom of the basket the year we made them ... the one on the left is one that she made me in 1972 (American flags have always been my favorite!) ... and the little one on the right I actually made in 1974 when I was 10 years old.  And they've been kept all this time ... along with several others I have.  And I have a mountain of cards that I have saved over the years -- and now they will be used in crafting projects and quite possibly be re-gifted to someone who will find the pleasure in the simplicity of mine and my Mother's tradition from my childhood.  Sometimes it's the smallest of things that we remember and that we treasure for a lifetime.
You know, this was not the post that I had intended to write today.  My thoughts have been all over the board today as I have worked to clean out rooms and closets ... and to create Dan his music space so that he can have a special place to unwind after long work days.  But God has shown me something that I've been missing until just about 5 minutes ago (literally -- even as I wrote these words, I had no idea where this post would take me) ...
Dan & I have put our "downsizing" plans on hold until after tax season next year ... we will continue to get some much needed projects done & maintenance that has been put off for a while.  But we've taken the pressure off of having our house on the market by next spring.  And although I still have a bit of work in front of me with organizing, painting, clearing out, etc ... I simply do not need to complete any more house projects in the next 2 weeks that lead to Christmas. 
I simply need to slow down a little and just take life a moment at a time ...
and celebrate His coming as the little baby who gave us hope for life eternal.
And so, my friends, my simple prayer for you is this ...
may these next 2 weeks before Christmas find you looking in your hearts for Him ...
the little baby who is our Hope and our Peace and our Comfort ...
who is coming again to give us eternal life with Him.
As we treasure our Christmas traditions of the past
may we always find the Baby Jesus in our Christmas present
so that all the generations that follow us will seek Him in Christmas futures

Friday, December 5, 2014

Traditions of Christmas Past Meet Christmas Future

 This year marks the first year since 1985 that Dan & I have had the house pretty much to ourselves for a few days a week.  When our daughter was younger, we would have our family decorating party as we put up our Christmas trees and decorated for the season.  And yes, we are one of those who have artificial trees since we would always travel for family visits during Christmas breaks. 
So this year as semi-empty nesters, we looked forward to continuing our family tradition with our kids.   Here's a few pictures of our decorating this past weekend -- 'Joe wasn't able to get a weekend home-pass from the military post, but Jacqueline, Lucy & Tag were here to help us bring in the Christmas season ...
and so we decorated our Christmas tree with red, blue, yellow & green lights ...
glowing on limbs as keepsake ornaments were gently hung
{Lucy & Tag couldn't believe how "old" some of our ornaments are!} 
Dan had "requested" the needle-in-the-haystack this year ---
his multi-colored mini lights with multiple settings ... oh my! 
I hadn't shopped for multi-colored Christmas tree lights in the past ... hummmmmmmmm ... maybe 20 years!
Okay ... maybe I exaggerate a little ... maybe more like 17 years. 
So, anyway ... off I went -- Target, WalMart, Sam's, Home Depot, Garden Ridge ... no multi-colored, multiple setting Christmas tree lights! I was determined to find them for my husband ... normally in years past we would have our "main" tree in the family room
 {the 9 footer that served as the central decoration of Jacqueline's wedding Christmas Eve 2005}, 
and several trees throughout the house -- and only our "traditional" tree would have the multi-colored lights.  Well ... until the strand got so old that it basically became a fire-hazard.  And our main tree was retired after last Christmas with several areas of
light-outages.  So now Christmas decorating 2014 ...


These 2 little ones absolutely LOVE Grandad's chaser lights this year! And how they enjoyed picking the perfect spot for each ornament they placed on the tree.  They handled each keepsake with such delicate care ...
even Tag took gentle care with some of his Mommy's ornaments (such as the little swing he holds in the above picture). 
Lucy hung some of her Mommy's keepsakes and her grandparents' memories too.  Their little eyes lit up as bright as the strand of lights glowing on the tree.  They knew they held precious memories in their little hands ...
so they were ever-so gentle with our memory-making decorations ...
and I know they will pass these keepsakes to their future generations along with
family traditions & memories.
Yet there's something different about this Christmas season ...
we have Dan's chaser-multi-colored tree lights along with our memory ornaments ... 
from our first Christmas as husband & wife in 1984 --

and our daughter's first Christmas in 1986 --
and Lucy & Tag's first Christmas ornaments --

all of which bring our family to Christmas present --
So much more than ornaments ...
traditions of our family Christmas past
are handed down to our little Christmas futures
during each & every Christmas present ...

And now -- at this very moment ...

Granny needs to get ready for these little Christmas futures to arrive for the weekend ...

I'll post more pics & thoughts later ...

Hope your weekend will be as blessed as ours will this weekend!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Everyday Giving Thanks

It seems like Thanksgiving becomes more overshadowed with each passing year.  I've seen some stores begin as early as summer with Halloween and Christmas decorations & advertisements.  No matter where a person goes or what channel they watch on television or what radio station they listen to ... there's still one day of the year that has been set aside as a day of thankfulness that gets overshadowed.
I have some priceless childhood memories of our family Thanksgivings.  My Granny always made sure there was turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, casseroles, rolls, cakes, pies ... and my Mother & Aunts would be up before the crack of dawn to make sure food was prepared for all of our family.  Long before microwaves or automatic dishwashers or various ovens ... just ordinary pots & pans along with "tin foil" to prepare our family feasts.  Aunts, uncles, cousins ... all of us at Granny's being thankful for our relationships & all that God had given us.
Our traditions have changed through the years.  My family & my sister's family will meet up at my parents' house for various holidays and gatherings.  My parents & sister live close by each other while Dan & I will drive about an hour & a half.  Not a long drive at all.  And this year will be bring yet another change in tradition.  Since our daughter & her family now live a couple of hours from us, they will be celebrating Thanksgiving in their new home on the military base.   And then they will be coming down to see everyone for the weekend when we will all go to my parents' house for another Thanksgiving celebration.
So ...
with the many changes in traditions and family ventures
with the mountainous pulls on our prioritizing "one holiday at a time"
with hearts longing for "peace on earth" earlier and earlier
... where does that leave "Thanksgiving"?
I am as guilty as anyone when I see people complaining about "rushing the seasons" ...
I get as caught up as some people for "early bird" Christmas shopping ...
I desire deep down just as other people who truly need one day of giving thanks ...
And then ...
O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy
endureth for ever.
Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Let them that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 118
Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Quench not the Spirit.
Despise not the prophesyings.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
I Thessalonians 5: 16-21
How much more would I be thankful for all that God has given me if I simply gave Him thanks
every moment of
every day of
every year.
One of my favorite pictures hangs in our sunroom
as a reminder as we go out into the world
and as we come home to our corner ...
The world may be loud and our traditions undergo changes over time ...
but we just need to quieten our hearts for the whisper of God.
And each and every moment will become Thanksgiving
as we give thanks to Him who is always good.
May you & your family have a
blessed Thanksgiving
not only tomorrow ...
but everyday.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day 2014

Today is the day we aside to honor our veterans -- past & present -- who have sacrificed for our country.  A few of my uncles have served our wonderful country in the military.

My Uncle Don served in the Navy along with his brothers in WWII ...
some of the most honorable men who served God first in everything they did. 
Men of God ... men of honor ... men of all men.  
When we were growing up, Uncle Don sure didn't want to talk about his time in the War because he did not want "upset" any of us kids.  Simply stated -- he didn't want to scare of us young children with any talk of war. 
A true man of valor.

And our son-in-law ... who gave his blood serving and protecting.
Two tours of duty overseas ... two years in between training troops ... serving for his military career.
And then the explosion that was intended by the enemy to end his life ...


On this Veteran's Day 2014 ...
we honor and remember those who have served our great country.
"Thank you" just does not seem enough for the price our freedoms have cost.