Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Day Of The Year

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="173" caption="Image by Chiot's Run via Flickr"]Chiot's Run 2011 Calendar[/caption]


Seconds to minutes

Minutes to hours

Hours to days

Days to weeks

Weeks to years...

Here I sit on the last day of the year, wondering where all the time went. I contemplate what I've done this past year. I analyze the details of my life. I smile at all the things I have accomplished. I fret about all the things I've left undone. I believe I could have said more. I wonder about what I should have left unsaid.  Aahh...we all walk a fine line, don't we?

Each day brings new opportunities. Sometimes I grab the opportunity. Sometimes I let it go. Sometimes I'm glad, other times I have regret.

There are people that are gone from my life. New friendships were made. Some individuals faithfully remain.

I'm one year older and hopefully at least a little wiser.

Tonight is the end of the old and the beginning of the new.

It's always exciting to think of starting a new year with a clean slate. The possibilities.... The opportunities.... The path less taken.

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

We Are Family!

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Kendal[/caption]

Over Christmas break I decided to try my hand at figuring out my family tree. I'm using It's really very interesting. So far I'm back to the 1600's through my paternal grandmother's side of the family. I'm finding family from Ireland, England, and Germany so far. It gets a little tricky finding parents of ladies that married into the family.

Things I've learned along the way...

1. A lot of young ladies got married at the age of 20.Some younger. Some older. Twenty is the average.

2. As I dig back in time I realize that having 9-13 children was normal. I know this was a common occurrence, but it tires me just thinking about it. If that were me, I'd be the type that would say something like this, " John, Jacob, Michael, Peter, Robert...... For cryin' out loud, YOU. Yeah, the one with the blond hair! Thomas. I knew that. Really. Yes I did!!! As long as YOU know who YOU are, I'm okay with it." Seriously. That would be me.

3. My family had beautiful names... Catherine Eliza (1767), Christina Katrina (1763), Sarah Ann (1827). Also names that showed the times...Mary, Emma, Orpha Maria, Annie, Sophia, Matilda, and Gertrude. You know what's funny? Several of these "old" names are back in style again. How many Emma's or Sophia's do you know? Oh, and one (several greats) grandmother from Germany. Her name was Waldburga Geiger Von Wurttemberg (1705). Try and say that name 5 times, fast. I dare you.

4. Many of the men had Biblical names. James, John, Joseph, Samuel, Philip, Thomas, Benjamin, Daniel, Michael and David. There are also some interesting ones such a Cyrus, Andrew Jackson, Purnell, Raymond, and Johann (es).

5. Most of my mom's side of the family settled in Pennsylvania after making their way to the "colonies". Most of my dad's side of the family settled in North Carolina.

6. I had one of  "those moments", while sitting researching. If even one of these long line of people had not been born, I would not be sitting here and typing this blog entry right now.

7. Some of my (many great) grandfathers had first wives that died young. The men went on to remarry. I'm thankful for that. Some of my (many great) grandmothers were second wives. Really, if you think about it, they were young women, marrying men somewhat older than they were. In some cases the men already had children with their deceased wives. So the new brides married into already established families--and then added more children. Quite a handful.

8. This is really fun.

9. After I go as far as I can in the family tree---I'm going to start researching places. The one (many greats) grandmother was born in Kendal (or Kendale?) Ireland. I also want to look up Wurttemburg and Mecklenburg, Germany.

10. It makes me wonder about my own legacy. What will my future family learn about me? What history will I leave behind?

I'm thankful for family...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A New Chapter

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Image by Atomische • Tom Giebel via Flickr"]Times Square Ball - New Year's Eve 2008[/caption]

The end of one year, the start of another. The possibilities, the choices, the opportunities.

In my life, I've been accused of thinking too much. I take  this declaration with a grain of salt. Too much thinking? How is that possible? What is the result of thinking too much?  Or not enough thinking? Or at all? I like to mull things over. Long after a conversation...I'm still going over the content of what was said.

I like to ponder what this new year will hold. I become contemplative during this time of year.

Each year brings new possibilities. Not because New Years Day is some sort of magic key, but because it is more like a door to the unknown. None of us really knows what will happen to us this year. We can have our plans, but many times life does not go as planned. Sometimes it careens off course. We end up on a road that we never intended to travel.

Sometimes things that seem "bad", turn out to have lessons that are good for me. Other times I've made poor choices and I've suffered through the consequences of those choices. Sometimes it is a bitter pill to swallow. Yet, sometimes events happen that are completely out of my control. I could not have changed them even if I desperately wanted to. One just never knows how things will turn out.

We all hope for a good year, abet, even a great one! We all want joy in our lives. Moments that matter. The opportunity to make a positive difference. Fulfillment. Friendships. Love.

I can plan. I can make changes. I can try to be even more organized and productive. Ultimately, God is the one who chooses how this year will proceed. It is He that is sovereign. It is He that makes life interesting and worthwhile...and I can rest in that.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Everyone Has A Story...

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Charles Kuralt, Host from 1979–1994[/caption]

My husband gave me the DVD set of the late Charles Kuralt, On The Road series. The series used to air on CBS Sunday. Mr. Kuralt and crew were in an RV, traversing the highways and bi-ways of America. He met people in the big cities and small towns of this country. His key phrase had him wondering what was "up around the bend". Even though I was a child for most of his years on TV, and don't really remember watching the series, I am intrigued by his travels, now, as an adult.

One day, I hope to "hit the road" for an extended period of time. Meet people. Write their stories. I long to see America in a way that isn't shown on the nightly news. There is something to be said for taking time to go down the road less traveled, to sit and listen to stories that  might otherwise never be heard.

I think that is why I love blogging so much...and reading other people's blogs. I get to meet people in a sense...get to know them. Just like a book can take me to a place I've never blog friends show me their lives in parts of the country that I've never had opportunity to visit. Yet.

Monday, December 27, 2010

White Out!

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Deep snow during the Blizzard of 2006 Nor'east...[/caption]

My husband and I, and our children are visiting family in upstate New York. It has been cold here, but not really any snow (besides what is already on the ground). I've been watching the news this morning. Everyone is talking about the blizzard that hit many areas of the east coast. New York City doesn't look that bad to me, yet it is being called a blizzard. Technically, a blizzard has to do with certain amounts of snow, but a true blizzard also has high winds over 35 m.p.h.

I remember being in 5th grade in Carroll County, Maryland when the blizzard of '79 struck. Of course, as a child I enjoyed being off school for a week. My sister and I got bundled up like a couple of Arctic explorers and ventured outside to make tunnels in the deep snow.Mom always had hot tea ready for us when we came inside.

I also remember as a young newlywed, the "storm of the century" in March of 1993. The entire east coast got pelted with that monster storm. My husband and I went to bed on Friday night with just a few flurries falling. We made a bet with each other that it wasn't really going to amount to anything. We woke up on Saturday morning to a snow induced hush over our own, personal winter wonderland!

All this talk of blizzards got me to thinking about snow fall. Look at this site of the Top 10 Worst Blizzards of all time. It makes me cold just reading about them!

What are your coldest, snowiest, most blizzard like memories?  How old were you? Where were you living at the time?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wheelchair Dancing

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]A close-up of a rear wheel of a wheelchair.[/caption]

I don't remember what caused me to think of it... a memory that has been tucked away, for at least twenty years. It's funny how things just pop back into one's mind, when least expected.

Everyone wants to be accepted. Everyone wants to feel wanted. Everyone needs a friend. In those ways we are not so very different.

A group of friends. Laughing and dancing. Being silly. Being young.

One friend's brother sat in a wheelchair. An accident had taken away his ability to walk...ever again.

He wanted to dance.

He didn't think anyone would want to dance with him...because his legs didn't work. Because he was different. Because of fear.

He shyly looked at me. Will you dance with me?

"Yes", I replied in youthful exuberance , "let's go".

I sat on his lap, wrapped an arm around his neck and off we went. We rolled, and rocked, and spun in dizzying circles.

We laughed out loud.

After the song, we rolled to a stop. We were out of breath from laughing and spinning.

He thanked me for dancing with him.

And I thanked him for asking.

That night I learned a valuable lesson.

Take a chance. Don't let fear stop you from asking. Don't worry about what others might be thinking.

And enjoy the dance.



Friday, December 24, 2010

Life On The Road

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Tim Hortons in Ottawa, ON, Canada[/caption]

I won the alphabet game!! Woo hoo! It's the small things in life that matter...especially when stuck bonding with family on a 9 hour road trip. Usually, my husband wins the alphabet game on family trips. He said he was busy driving and couldn't fully concentrate. Excuses. Excuses. I take my wins however I can get them.

We played Crack The Code (a mystery card game), and Twenty Questions which my husband also almost always wins.  My husband and I listened to talk radio, and the kids played on their PSP's, and computer.  We listened to our oldest son recite poetry. All in all no one pulled their hair out it was a good trip. Family togetherness. Because between the luggage, Christmas presents, and junk we were crammed in like sardines

I am not a fan of toll roads. A family is pretty much stuck in the matter of where to eat dinner on the road. If one gets off the toll road, one pays. Or if one gets off accidentally, thinking it's a rest area, one pays. Not that, that happened to us. Arrgh.

We ended up eating at Tim Horton's. I love Tim Hortons for coffee and hot chocolate, but the food is highway robbery expensive. That's true of most eating establishments these days.

We survived had a good trip.  Enjoying today. Visiting family. Relaxing. Life is good.




Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Zip It!

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="205" caption="Image by demandaj via Flickr"]Stuffed[/caption]

Packing a suitcase.... Some people are good at it. Some, not so much.

1. How many underwear do I need to take? Just enough? A few extras? Three pair, thirty, or three hundred? Just sayin'.

2. Packing in the winter months is always more difficult. After all, I like sweaters and sweaters take up more space. A lot more space then T-shirts and capris.

3. Then my husband made a comment about how full my suitcase looked and I explained I have sweaters and he laughed at me. Yes, laughed.

4. For a man I know to be very intelligent, you'd think he'd get it. Don't mess with a woman and her suitcase.Duh.

5. What do I leave behind? My pants? My sweaters? My skivvies? Going to colder climates...I need my fluffy socks too!

6. Packing is such a dilemma. Do I take just my boots? Or do I take my cute shoes too?

7. I've whittled it stuff I can shove in the suitcase.

8. And have the suitcase actually zip!

9. I prefer "flexible" luggage to the hard case. Um....expandable is good.

10. Don't even get me started on how we're going to get everything packed in the van.

Over the river and through the woods....

Classic Films Collection

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Cropped screenshot of James Stewart and Margar...[/caption]

I watched two classic movies as I wrapped gifts yesterday. I have yet to be able to just sit down and watch a movie without being "productive" with my time.  There is never enough time in a day! The first movie was The Shop Around The Corner. (Margaret Sullivan, Jimmy Stewart). I love the old, black and white movies. I really do. I don't know if it is the simple scenery, the fact that everyone is dressed so beautifully, or that a movie can be interesting without any offensive language or suggestive situations. Sigh. It was just a different time. The Shop Around The Corner pretty much took place in  the there wasn't a lot of scenery, but what a great movie! (the movie You've Got Mail starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks is a take off of this movie)  Speaking of scenery, I have a keen eye for all the props. The old cash registers, cigarette boxes, ladies' hats, and how store windows used to be "dressed" for the holidays.

Then I watched Christmas In Connecticut starring Barbara Stanwyck. It is sort of  a comical Good Housekeeping, circa Christmas 1945. Snow, a navy man, sleigh rides, and a farm in Connecticut. Who wouldn't fall in love?

Today I am working on my laundry. What can I watch in between loads of whites and colors? Maybe It's A Wonderful Life? (side note: google Jimmy Stewart discussing It's A Wonderful Life. It was in a 1977 interview. It will give you a new perspective about this movie. Seriously, you should check it out.) Or Miracle On 34th Street--the 1947 version, of course!

Well, I better go. I heard the dryer just buzz. Time for another load.



Monday, December 20, 2010

You Know You Are Losing It When...

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Mrs. Laura Bush poses with children and Cliffo...[/caption]

Those of you that read my blog know I am a Christian, wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. I'm a writer, ponderer (is that a real word?), romantic, nostalgic, and a teacher. I have my blond moments, melt downs, and flip outs. I prefer organization and can lean a little towards being compulsive....but, only about certain things. Believe me on that.

So, today has been crazy for me. I don't know if I'm coming or going. Or am I here or have I already left the building? You know what I mean? Haven't we all had those type of days?

You Know You Are Losing It When...

1. You find yourself standing at the kitchen sink, holding the sink strainer, and  are actually wondering what that gunk IS in there? And worse yet, how did it get in there?

2. Your elderly dog takes glucosamine. The meds are orange flavored. You contemplate tasting it to see if it really DOES taste like orange. Like the dog cares. He thinks it's a treat.

3. You start to watch the news while making dinner. Instead of truly listening to what is going on in the world, you find yourself staring at the news reporter, thinking that he has a huge forehead and he'd look a lot better if he styled his hair differently.

4. While driving into town today, your child mentions that something stinks in the mini-van. You sigh....and then turn up the talk radio station even louder. It helps to drown out the thoughts about what could be rotting in the back cup holders, or under the seat.

5. You "skate" across the kitchen floor in your socks, while holding a spatula, singing Christmas tunes...and your family members don't even consider that strange.

6. You sprayed way to much Yankee Candle, mistletoe scented spray on the fake Christmas trees. For the love of Pete would someone throw open a window...I think I'm getting a mistletoe buzz.

7. The collie (not the older dog) keeps dumping the entire bowl of dog food in the snow. Then hides the bowl.

8. You start to believe that you actually look pretty sexy in your "Clifford the Big Red Dog" apron, as you fix dinner.

9. You try not to think about the fact that the ground beef you are browning for dinner used to be a cow at some point. Sniff. Sniff.

10. Okay, so maybe I'm not certifiable.....unless you look under the word MOM. Then you realize that  losing one's mind comes with the territory.

By the way, the cat is staring at me as I type. HE KNOWS.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Gifts That Keep On Giving

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Courtney in Snuggie[/caption]

With the wonder of the internet, infomercials, and open 24 hour stuff marts.....we can all buy the niftiest gifts for those we love.

1. The Shake Weight......For all those loved ones that have under arm jiggle.

2. Pajama Jeans....because they are soft and cuddly and tons of people are already wearing their actual pj's to Wal-mart. So, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

3. Snuggie-- Why shouldn't we all look like monks? And while I'm on the subject, aren't Snuggie's really just robes turned around backward?

4. Slanket--- Which is really just another Snuggie, which is really just a bath why not just buy a bathrobe?

5. The Potty Patch-- For all those pet lovers in your life. Who doesn't need to get an artificial turf square for their pet to "use" when inside? The great part is, one can wash it with just soap and water!!!

Who really comes up with these things? I mean, really.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mary On My Mind

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]The Virgin Mary, baby Jesus, and angels in heaven.[/caption]

Mary Did You Know?

I think I mentioned that I am playing Mary (mother of Jesus) tomorrow at church. I've been thinking of Mary a lot lately because of this part that I have in the Advent monologues. Having to memorize "Mary's lines" helps me to remember what is truly important. Allow me to practice my lines with you.....

" How can I even begin to tell you what I saw in Jesus? Even before he was born my life was filled with wonder and amazement!.....I was visited by an angel. Such power and authority! And yet there was such gentleness as he shared with me the expression of God's love.

And then there was Joseph. He was incredible throughout all these events. Of course, he had questions and concerns but, he always responded to me with such love. I know that his own visit from an angel had a lot to do with that.

There are so many things that I remember...and I hold those  moments close to my heart. Because to be honest with you, most of Jesus' life didn't make sense to me.....until it was finished.

Jesus, he always thought of others before himself....I remember when we went to a wedding feast. Jesus changed the water into wine because he didn't want the wedding host to be humiliated. Then there was the Samaritan woman at the well. He reached out to her with such love, I can't even describe it! He even loved Peter, a man who had denied knowing him, multiple times! And yet, love and forgiveness were his.

Then there was the cross.....the cross. Even on the cross Jesus was so full of love, and thinking of others. He didn't want me to worry about how I'd be taken care of, so he said, ' John, take care of my mother.' And to me he said, ' Mother, treat John as if he is your son.'

As he hung on the cross, with his life slipping away, he still had such love--- and was putting others before himself. I heard him say, ' Father, forgive them!'.................... and to the thief on the cross next to him he said, ' Today I will see you in paradise.'

And then it made sense. I understood. Love. God's love. Jesus was a demonstration of God's love to this world. He was born, and he lived, and he died, and he rose again as an expression of God's love to me! And as an expression of God's love to each of you! God's love.....that is what Jesus is all about. "

This certainly puts Christmas in perspective. Doesn't it?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Are These Gifts For Real?

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Film poster for Napoleon Dynamite - Copyright ...[/caption]

First of all I want to say a BIG, HUGE, GIGANTIC thank you to all the people that stopped by my blog yesterday. I love being "freshly pressed". Of course, if someone is not in the blogging world and I tell them that I'm excited about being freshly pressed, they get this look in their eyes that says, "God love her heart, but she's as nutty as her Christmas fruitcake." That's okay. I'm used to that, after all variety is the spice of life, right? I have several new readers, and people from all over the world told me that they like my blog. It makes me yeah, thanks again. My readers are the best.



Have you found yourself at the department store or the mall, staring at gifts that are just down right weird? You wonder to yourself, do people really buy these for their LOVED ones? I will admit I probably stay more on the traditional side when it comes to Christmas presents. I'm all about sticking with a theme for people. I try to tailor the gifts to the person's taste. With that said, there are some gifts that are just over the top. What do you think of these? Would you put these things under your tree?

1. Sudoku Toilet Paper-- I don't know about you but, I don't spend THAT much time in the bathroom. Sudoku problems take me awhile...even then I don't have the patience to finish them. I would be in the bathroom all day. My family would have to send in a search party. On second thought that might not be such a bad idea.

2. Christmas at Ground Zero-- This is a CD by Wierd Al Yankovic .  Really? Um.....I don't think so. A weird Christmas album with the setting of Ground Zero. That is not the site that would put me in a festive spirit. How did he come up with this? I suppose he is weird for a reason. Definitely not a White Christmas moment. Cover your ears, Bing.

3.Tattoo Parlor Kids Playset -- This is for all the kids that are planning a career in the graphic arts field. One can't ever start to soon to learn the art of tattooing. You could be known in the 'hood as the kiddie tattoo parlor. Have friends over so your kids can ply their new trade. Just sayin' this could be big if you work it right.....of course, I think it might be illegal for minors. If anyone asks, deny knowing what in the world is going on.

4. LED Flashing Shoe Laces-- Who wouldn't want to glow in the dark? One could turn all the lights off in the house and amaze their family and friends with their flashy, glowing shoe laces. Plus it would totally freak out the family cat, and the kittie would attack the laces. There would be a lot of rolling around on the floor, fur flying, lace gnawing, and a few screams going on.....but, try to keep the Christmas spirit.Have your story straight for the ER doctor.

5. Napoleon Dynamite Lip Balm-- I loved the Napoleon Dynamite movie. I truly am weird that way. At least I admit it. As long as the lip balm doesn't smell like Tina the llama, from the movie, I could probably deal with it. I wonder if the lip balm would have you talking in a monotone voice with an uncontrollable urge to shoot wolves with your cross bow? Just a thought.

.....A little holiday humor to make you smile today........You may now go back to your regularly scheduled life......

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sleep Deprivation

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Image by Secret Tenerife via Flickr"]Counting Sheep[/caption]

The past couple of nights I haven't slept very well. Last night was the worst. Wide awake at 3:30 a.m. Man, that stinks. I rolled over trying a different sleep position. No success. I fluffed my pillows. Nothing. I rolled back over and readjusted my blankets. Zilch. I was getting a bit miffed. If I can't sleep, I desperately try not to wake my husband. He has trouble sleeping anyway, and once he is awake the TV comes on. I hate the TV on when I'm trying to sleep.

He woke up.

Sleep....sleep......why can't I sleep? Now, the TV is on, and I had to get up to use the bathroom. Why couldn't I have a bigger bladder? I had to turn the light on in the bathroom. Which doesn't help the go back to sleep thing. I feel compelled to turn on the light at night ever since I had the rodent visitor scurry past my feet while I was sitting on the toilet a few months ago. I'm still scarred.

So, I woke up this morning and was not in a good mood. I looked like something the cat dragged home....and felt like it too. To add to my torture, my husband woke up happy and told me he loved me and told me good morning with a big smile on his face. I'm surprised I didn't scare him. He is a brave man. He is still in a good mood. WHAT'S WRONG WITH HIM???? To add to my already festive spirit...the Christmas tree lights aren't lighting, and my computer was "not responding". It froze up in the middle of my blogging. NOT GOOD.

Maybe I'll go outside on the front porch and scream. The only ones that will hear me are the llamas across the road...and they already know I'm crazy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Breathe In...Breathe Out

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]A Christmas tree inside a home.[/caption]

Normally, I am an organized person. I love my calendars, daytimer, and to do list. This Christmas season has seen me running in circles, and having the feeling of not getting much accomplished. I told my daughter this morning that I have yet to watch more than ONE of my all time favorite Christmas movies. The only reason I was able to watch The Bishop's Wife (with Cary Grant) is that I squeezed it in WHILE I was balancing my checkbook. How sad is that?

I had such high hopes of eating warm cookies, and drinking hot chocolate while watching Christmas movies. I would have plenty of time to shop and wrap gifts. Yes, in my mind it was going to be like a Norman Rockwell picture or a print from Currier and Ives. Sigh. Instead it looked more like this....

1. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T SHIP BY CHRISTMAS???!!! You have to ship by Christmas. There are lives at stake! Namely mine.

2. I think the tree is leaning forward. Can we prop something under the stand? What would fit up under there without knocking it over?

3. Why are the lights blinking? Stop the blinking. I'm about to have a seizure!

4. I'm too tired to make cookies tonight.That is pretty tired, people.

5. The materials for the gingerbread house are still in the box. Wow, the picture on the box looks really cute. Maybe we could just cut the picture out and prop it up. Will people even notice?

6. I asked my son if he'd be offended if I just chucked his and his brother and sister's gifts under the tree and forgot the  gift wrapping? He just stared at me. Really? Okay, fine. It was worth a try.

7. My company will be welcomed to our house through a pet cluttered deck, and into a laundry (alas, mud) room. The floor is covered in mud and snow.....and quite frankly, at this point I don't care. This is our life. Mud and all.

8. If I get cut off in the parking lot at Wal-mart one more time, I might have holiday road rage.  On the up side, my mug shot could be used for next year's Christmas card.

9. Speaking of Christmas cards, I had such good intentions. Really. I did.

10. I'm playing Mary (as in Jesus mother) this year. It's an Advent monologue that I am performing this Sunday. I love drama. I just hope I can remember my lines! Breathe in.....breathe out.......

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Through The Eyes Of A Child

Austrian stained glass warm and cozy as a blanket. Memories that I am able to wrap around me, even on the coldest of days. Memories that make me smile, even now, years past my childhood. Memories that are ignited for me, when the weather gets cold and Christmas is right around the corner.

Getting the live Christmas tree from the sale at the local fire department. "This one is too skinny. This one looks like a bush. This one has a bare spot."  One year we did have a Christmas tree that resembled a pine bush. It was short and fat. Didn't really matter though, because to a child it was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen, when decorated. Pretty glass ornaments that my mom bells, pink icicles. A ton of tinsel....which my mom had a special way of adding to the tree. She did not appreciate my sister and I throwing the tinsel on in "clumps". Why not?

My sister and I got dressed in our Christmas Eve outfits. We went to Mammaw and Pappaw's house for a HUGE family dinner. My cousins and I would sneak upstairs to the living room while all the adults were downstairs still eating and socializing. We would look to see the gifts that were addressed to us. We'd carefully shake them...try to see under the wrapping paper. The anticipation was too great!

Footsteps!!! An adult! "What are you kids doing?" Nothing, was our reply. My aunt knew we were lying...and we knew that she knew we were lying. But, it was Christmas Eve....and sneaking a peek at gifts was part of the fun. After the meal all of us went to church for the Christmas Eve service. Our church was made from stone with beautiful stained glass windows. The church was built in the 1800's and I heard that the windows had been imported from England. The candles glowing in the windows made the stained glass come alive. I have some wonderful memories of that church on Christmas Eve. All I have to do is close my eyes to see it once again.

Back to my grandparents house for dessert and the opening of gifts! It's funny the things I remember from childhood. When I was very little I got a small, brown toy puppy. His head moved back and forth and his tail wagged and then he would bark. I thought it was the neatest thing. As I got older, the type of gifts changed, but it was always the family get togethers that I loved so much.

Christmas morning was fun with all the usual excitement of unwrapping gifts, giving gifts, and the expressions on each face. I remember one year, I think I was 13 or 14, I got a miniature "boom box".  To those of you that lived in the 80's, you know that was a cool gift! Before we knew it, it was time to get dressed and start the holiday trek to family houses. One relative would have breakfast, one would have lunch, one would have dinner/dessert. This was a great way to visit, see everyone's tree, get to look at all my cousins Christmas presents, and enjoy family. I have such good memories of my growing up years.

I feel extremely blessed to have such wonderful memories from my childhood. Family, friends, church services to celebrate the Savior's birth, food, and gifts. All these things wrapped up, making a gift that my heart can open each I reminisce .