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Posts tagged ‘Christmas’


Christmas was always a time to celebrate with Mom and Dad.  I would travel with Dad as a kid, scouting various lots to find the best tree.  Then I would watch him meticulously place the lights, just so, on the branches.  He used a combination of the older larger lights and bubble lights as well as some of the smaller sparkly ones.  Oh, I loved the bubble lights!  There was a set of angel ornaments, five of different shapes and colors—one for each of us girls.  Those were always placed near the top of the tree.  Eventually, a white angel graced the very tip-top.

Decorating the tree was fun. Over the years I provided more and more ornaments for their collection—as did my sisters.  They had lots of ornaments that featured birds and animals, angels and cameras.  It became a challenge to find a space to place one more ornament.  But we always managed!  I was not upset when we stopped draping tinsel—piece by piece—over the branches.  That was a tedious task I did not enjoy.

Our 1965 Tree with Tinsel

One of the first Christmas gifts I bought for Mom and Dad once I was working was a Sleeping Santa.  Dad always duplicated that picture, whenever he sat down, it seemed.  Of course, he said it was the chair!

The village scene was always fun to unwrap and arrange too.  It kept growing every year as new buildings and figurines were added. Some years, strange creatures would invade the village! As an adult, one of my traditions was to secretly place some new figure or building into the village scene—and then wait for Mom and Dad to notice.  One year, I eventually added a church into the village—and an outdoor nativity scene as well.  One of the last items I added was a woman on a bench, feeding birds.

The Village Scene below is a set of plates by Norman Rockwell.  Mom and Dad had it for years, but they had nowhere to display it.  Now, it comes out at my house every year.  It’s my version of their bigger/better Christmas Village.  The little music box was in Mom and Dad’s room at the Center, also as a reminder for their original Christmas Village.  It plays several Christmas tunes!

Mom and Dad had several Christmas albums that we’d listen too, while we worked.  Two of my favorites were Andy Williams Christmas and Ed Ames Christmas.  As I got older, we started attending the late-night Christmas Eve Church Service, the one with candle lighting and lots of hymns.  Oh, Mom loved the Christmas carols—and so do I.

Even once I was an adult and lived in another state, I nearly always made it home to celebrate with them—and to play Santa for them.  When I moved back to California and lived a short drive away, so an afternoon visit was a possibility, I would still spend the holiday with them. Oh, I had my own decorations at home, but it was tradition to help them make the house look like Christmas.  It was fun to help with decorating and mailing cards and wrapping gifts and preparing meals.  Then, we’d go to the late-night church service.  And later, once we were home, I would play Santa, leaving them a note to not peek until I was up too. Just like they used to do.

No surprise.  My tree looked a lot like theirs!  Well, I had more elephant ornaments than they did.  I stopped putting up my own big tree a couple years after the Northridge Earthquake (1994)—that year my tree fell over during the quake.  The tree itself broke as did lots of my ornaments. (Yes, it was mid-January when the quake hit and my tree was still up. So? Finding time to put things away has always been a challenge! Don’t get me started.)

In 2011, after Mom and Dad have moved into a retirement center, I helped them host a Family Christmas Open House.  At the Open House, we all unpacked the boxes together, taking home the bits and pieces that especially touched our memories.   Mom and Dad kept some of their decorations to be used in their room at the Center.   One of my nephews has their old nativity set, and one of my nieces has most of their old village scene.  I treasure their Santa-feeding-the-animals figurine set and a few other knick-knacks and ornaments.

These Days, There Are A Few More Animals

This noisy, fairly tacky Christmas star ornament is really fun–and it measures about four inches in diameter.  It rested in their tree and sang a LOUD song, whenever it was jostled in any way.  Dad loved this thing–and set it off regularly.  Now, I make sure it plays its song a couple times each holiday.

Two of My “Little” Trees, Resting on Mom and Dad’s Coffee Table in Front of Their Couch

Most of my Christmas stuff is still packed away at this point, but between some of my stuff and some of Mom and Dad’s stuff, I have enough decorations to make it feel like Christmas.  I have several small table-top Christmas trees that hold some of my ornaments.  Other ornaments as well as various knick-knacks fit into many of the nooks and crannies about the apartment.

This Christmas Elephant Is Next to An Old Rocking Horse

I Received These Little Bears Every Year Until They Stopped Being Made. Talk about Feeling Old?!

In This Santa’s Workshop, There Is My Purdue Train and Mom’s Felt Drum and Little Doll House

I truly treasure this sweet little angel–a gift from Mom and Dad.

This time of year can be bittersweet, missing loved ones.  But the decorations and memories represent so much love, so many good times that they make it feel like Mom and Dad are still helping me get the decorations set, just right.  It’s a great time of year! And, of course, traditions continue and new memories are always being made.  A few years ago, I was gifted this lovely Nativity with Candles. This wooden one was made in Germany and replaces the metal one from the past that had become tarnished and broken–it also does not make the tinny noise of the old one!

I no longer put up lights, but I still enjoy a bubble light night here and there.

Just the other day my sister shared some readings from one of Mom’s old Christmas Ideals—she made me cry!  And this is my new Christmas elephant, sitting with “my” angel from the set of five that were always on Mom and Dad’s tree.

And look at this great new Star Trek Ornament: Captain Kirk and Christmas Tribbles!

I love Christmas!

These Carpool Karaoke Christmas Songs are also new—and fun.  Enjoy!



Tomorrow Is Christmas!

Mom's Santa & AnimalsSanta Making ToysI’ve been rather melancholy this holiday season.  It is the second Christmas without both Mom and Dad.  Even when I lived for years in Texas, I was always home for Christmas with them.  I enjoyed playing Santa for them, delighting them with silly little gifts and candy and ornaments.  I’d help decorate the tree, after Dad got the lights on just so.  I’d help Mom put up the manger—as I always did since I was little.  And together we helped grow the Christmas Village scene with new buildings and characters.  I have some great memories and am pulling out my own Christmas decorations—old and new.  But I still miss them, especially as Christmas comes around.

Norman Rockwell Christmas Village Plates and Some People from Mom's Village

Then this year, there has been so much tragedy.  The terrorist attacks in Paris.  The senseless shooting in San Bernardino and elsewhere.  Some politicians who pander to the fear and anger of some citizens, making things worse instead of exploring solutions.  And there has even been an increase in hate crimes against Muslims.  Heaven help us if the acts of a few Christians marked us all the same.


NativityBubble Light!Now more than ever we need the redemption and salvation of Christmas.  We need the wonder and glory that makes this time so magical.  We need the love, hope, and promise of the holiday, stretching into every part of life.  We might not need the cookies and candy and special meals of this time of year, but we certainly need friends and family and all the good cheer that comes with the festivities—especially the glorious music.  Thank goodness Christmas arrives in the morning, just in time.  Now, we just need to keep the love and good will to others our highest priority throughout the year.


Sleeping Santa Just Like DadChristmas Angels

This “Recipe for Christmas Joy” could help us keep Christmas—the real Christmas, not the hustle and bustle of shopping and rushing—alive throughout the year.  I have seen various versions of such recipes in the past, but I pulled this one from the radio broadcaster Delilah.  If you have not caught her show, you should.  You can Listen to Delilah on iHeart Radio.  Her words and music are always uplifting as she takes calls from across the country—and shares the perfect song for whatever her caller is discussing (love, relationships, starting over, moving on, or celebrating all aspects of life).

Annual Christmas Bears


Preparation Time:  Just minutes.  Serves a multitude


2 ¼ cups Faith

1 tsp. Promise

1 tsp. Gratitude

1 cup (2 sticks) Belief

¾ cup Wonder

¾ cup Awe

1 tsp. Generosity

2 large scoops of Patience

2 cups Laughter

The Light of the North Star

Directions:  In a small bowl, combine Faith, Promise and Gratitude.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together Belief, Wonder, Awe, Generosity and Patience until creamy.  Gradually combine the mixture of the small bowl into the large bowl, stirring together evenly for a smooth consistency.  Stir in Laughter, and at the last minute add the Light of the North Star.

Sleeping Child & Lamb Candle HolderThe mixture will begin to rise immediately and will double in size every day.  Begin serving as quickly as possible.  Multiple servings per day are recommended for maximum benefit.  Excellent when accompanied with a slice of Glee and makes an excellent presentation alongside a full goblet of Glory.  Keep for yourself and give as gifts to family, friends, neighbors and strangers.  The more you share with others, the more you have to give away.  And if you are blessed, others will share cups of this recipe with you as well.  Enjoy!


These songs are some of my favorites from when I was a kid, listening to Christmas albums throughout the season. (Yes, honest to goodness vinyl LPs). These are two of my favorites!

“O Holy Night” by Andy Williams

“The Ballad of the Christmas Donkey” by Ed Ames

And finally, here is a cute little video, reminding us all to keep the love and hope of Christmas alive at all times, especially when dealing with others.  As this little video reminds us, “Be Together, Not the Same!”



You Can’t Buy Christmas!

NOTE:  This is a post for those of my readers who celebrate Christmas!  For everyone else, “Happy Holidays!” 

You Can’t Buy Christmas!

I love Christmas.  The joy, the wonder, the fun of the season.  Putting out the decorations. Practicing family traditions. Singing Christmas carols. Attending a candlelight service. Spending time with family and friends. Wishing for peace for one and all.  Telling all my friends—regardless of their faith—“Happy Holidays!”

But I am weary too. 

Advertising has been attacking on all levels—mail, online, radio, television—since October.  Crazy sales encourage people to buy more, spend more.  Shopping seems to overtake the lives of so many, especially since Black Friday and the all-hours-special-deals that continue on, every day.  Many are buying gifts because they feel obligated, not to show their care for those special to them.  Christmas carols blare from speakers everywhere, and some radio stations are reaching the stage where some play holiday tunes 24 hours a day.  Christmas movies lose something when they are played over and over and over again for weeks and weeks before the holiday.  All this hectic commotion inevitably triggers editorials and news stories complaining that people are saying “Season’s Greetings!” instead of “Merry Christmas!” Others complain that some government officials put up a holiday tree, not a Christmas tree.

Somehow, I do not think God really cares what seasonal greeting we utter, if it comes from the heart with the true intention of sharing the love, hope, and seasonal lessons of tolerance.  I also bet He is rather dismayed by the onslaught of commercials and sales that seem to bring out the worst in people.  How can all that hawking of the season be celebrating Christmas?  Instead, all this focus on commercialism is overwhelming.  For me, it undermines the true meaning of Christmas as it seems to forget the wonder, joy and fun of the season.

Two years ago, Pope Benedict lamented the loss of the Christmas Spirit as well:  “Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility. . . . Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light. . . . Let us strip away our fixation on what is material, on what can be measured and grasped.”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I really love Christmas.  I give presents and watch the same special movies every year.  I hold an Open House and enjoy seeing family and friends to celebrate the season.  I don’t bake, but I love that my sister does.  I do have special goodies that are part the annual celebration—and I eat too much.  I love when I find the right gift for someone special.  I hum Christmas songs throughout the day—and read special Christmas stories at night.  Some years I even send Christmas cards.

Merry Christmas

But I also need to remind myself each year to slow down, to focus on the message of the season not the trappings, and to really appreciate the Christmas lessons of love and hope.  I need to re-learn each year the lesson Grinch stumbles upon at the end of his story:  “Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”

So, right now, with a little more than a week until Christmas, my gift to you is a reminder to slow down and enjoy the holiday.  Hug those you love—and tell them you love them.  Put more time into being with your family than in shopping for them.  Have fun.  Marvel at the promise of the season.  Really celebrating Christmas is the best gift of all.

This first video can be reached via the following link.  It is really fun–these kids will help you remember the fun of the season.    A Great Lip Syncing Performance


Ready for Christmas?

I drove down to see my dad last weekend and was pleasantly surprised that traffic was not too bad.  Except when I went by the shopping malls.  Then the freeway exits were backed up for a mile and all the lanes around the actual mall entrances were so crowded that I sat through some lights three times!  Crazy!  I stopped going to malls quite a few years ago.  (Don’t get me wrong:  I am a good American.  I spend more than I should, but I do it online or through catalogs.)

It is now a week before Christmas, and I can only imagine that many are still rushing and running trying to be prepared.  Is the tree up and decorated?  Presents bought and wrapped? Meals planned and goodies baked?  Parties attended—or planned for family, friends, and the extra guests that seem to materialize every year?  Kids get over tired and crabby—and excited making it even harder to sleep.  Parents get over extended too with little sleep and too much to do.

Christmas is such a wondrous time of year, full of love, hope and celebration.  It reminds us of what is best in the world and gives us a chance to keep traditions and build memories.  But making it through all the hustle and bustle to get to Christmas Day can be a daunting task.  Several things can help us survive all the festivities:

To laugh at the commercialism we subject ourselves too, as noted in this variation of a classic: “The Twelve Pains of Christmas.” Laughing at ourselves can help us get through almost anything.

To remember kids are kids, and it is not always easy to be good—even if a Shelf Elf is watching.  One of my favorite carols of the season is “I’m Getting Nuttin’ for Christmas.”  I first heard this tune as a kid and now have a stuffed animal I haul out each year that plays this song when you press its foot!  Being a little naughty isn’t really so bad, is it?

And the most obvious:  Remember the real reason for the season!  This clip from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” says it all.  About 2.5 minutes in, Linus explains what Christmas is all about!  I read somewhere that initially the networks did not want the scriptures to be quoted in this television special but Shultz insisted!  Thank goodness.  In this clip, Charlie Brown eventually asserts, “I won’t let all this commercialism ruin my Christmas!”  That’s what we all need to do.

So, slow down.  Drink some hot chocolate or eggnog.  Sing some Christmas hymns.  Hug family and friends.  Give of your time to those you love.  Read the Bible.  And truly enjoy the season!  To help with the celebration, here is a video to enjoy of a Christmas Flash Mob—thanks to my cousin Rick for sharing it with me so I could share it with you.

HO! HO! HO!  Merry Christmas!

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