Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Christmas Gifts

I'm not sure I was really looking forward to Christmas this year. It was going to be very different, as planned. I know I've been saying all the right things and being very brave about no family and no gifts. But deep in my heart, I think I expected to be disappointed come Christmas morning.

My focus for several weeks has been the Christmas Eve service at our church. With Gretchen's help, I planned a service of Lessons and Carols. I wanted it to be a perfect celebration of Jesus' birthday. Thanks to God's grace and many prayers, it was a wonderful service. We are so blessed to have many talented people in our congregation who are willing to share their gifts with us.

The children were delightful. I had planned a quiet little children's sermon that would last three or four minutes. HA! I should have known. They were so full of joy and knowledge about the birth of our Saviour. It was wonderful. The church was full of laughter when we had finished. I am sure Jesus was really happy. Almost everyone who attended the service came down to the fellowship hall for birthday cake. It was all we could have hoped for.

That set the tone for Christmas day for Jim and I. I woke up to coffee on my night table and a kiss from my husband wishing me a Merry Christmas. Breakfast was quiche and fruit accompanied by mimosas.

We had a quiet day of reading, sharing memories of Christmas past and talking with our children and extended family on the telephone. When Jim called his brother Dale, the phone rang and rang. Just as Jim was leaving a message our niece, Anita, picked up. She said they were screening their calls, but Uncle Jim made it through. It was fun to talk to all o f them. The twins were delighted with the bracelets we gave them and thanked us so nicely on the phone.

Late afternoon found us hungry and we prepared our Christmas dinner of standing rib roast, garlic mashed potatoes, carrots and rolls together. When we celebrate Christmas here at home, we have a tradition of beef (as did my mother). It was a wonderful meal - ending a wonderful day.

If this works, I'll show you our Christmas gifts. From Gretchen and Brian we received:

-a set of 7 pots and pans
-a 16 piece dish set
-silverware in a drawer organizer
-4 big cups
-4 medium cups
-4 little cups
-a spatula
-a 5 piece set of wooden spoons in various shapes
-measuring cups and spoons
-a bright red colander
-a toaster
-saran wrap
-Reynolds wrap
-Ziploc bags
-Ziploc reusable containers
-dish cloths and dish towels
-a brownie pan (a must have)
-a can opener
-a laundry basket to hold it all

All given to a battered women's shelter in our name.

From Paige we received:

  • Two hives of bees from the Heifer Project given in our honor.

I tried to download the picture, but had some technical difficulties.

It was most definitely a different Christmas, but one that blessed my heart and drew me closer to the Saviour whose birth we celebrate.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas Eve and snowing in upstate New York. A good day to snuggle in and finish our last minute Christmas preparations. In the past, we have always had a Christmas Eve breakfast with friends and family, but due to many changes and travel plans, we are not doing that this year. That didn't stop Jim from preparing a lovely breakfast for the two of us.

Tonight is our Christmas Eve service which I have been helping to organize. I am praying that it will glorify God and bring a blessing to all who attend.

Speaking of blessings, I wish all of you a blessed Christmas. I thought I'd share some pictures of our tree and the ornaments that have blessed us over the years.

Since Jim's retirement, we have had an artificial tree. It was a hard decision to make, but with travel and aging, we thought this was the best way for us to go. Jim decorated the entire tree this year. It is beautiful.

This is our oldest, and my favorite, ornament. It was purchased the year of our first Christmas in Christ. It is the first ornament I put on the tree every year.

The candy canes on our tree are 39 years old. We purchased these exact candy canes the first year we were married and have kept them ever since. I think a couple may have broken over the years, but all-in-all we feel we have preserved them pretty well. Brian and Gretchen like this story and are doing the same thing - theirs are only six years old, but they have high hopes.

This Waterford Crystal ornament is from our dear friend, and third daughter, Heather. Not only is it beautiful, but it reminds me of the love we have for Heather and she for us.

Here we have Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. They are reminders of a wonderful day in London with my friend Laurie. Since I've read the Boleyn Inheritance and The Other Boleyn Girl, I have a whole different outlook on these ornaments. Nevertheless, I still enjoy looking at them on our tree and remembering that day at the Tower of London.

Next to hippos, I love Pandas the best. This ornament, our friend Ken brought back from China, reminds me of the fun day Jim and I had a the San Diego Zoo. The hippos didn't cooperate at all that day, but the Pandas were a delight.

I could go on and on, but I will end with this ornament. It is made from a milkweed pod. These ornaments, which we treasure above all others, were made by Jim's grandmother - Namma - as our children called her. She was a dear and talented lady who we will miss forever.

And now I wish you and yours a

Very Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Didn't Sleep At All Last Night --

Well, okay, I didn't sleep until after 3 A.M. Jim is sure I ingested some caffeine sometime during the evening. But I swear I was absolutely caffeine free. I think it must have been the stress of all things unfinished. I just WAS NOT tired and moved from one project to another with complete abandon.

From 8 - 10 P.M. I

finished my Christmas cards. This project has proven to be much more work than I had anticipated. Add to that the fact that we are sending more cards than we have ever sent before and I was just a teensy bit stressed over the project. But by 10 P.M. it was finished

Thank heavens for Jim, who addressed all the envelopes, stamped them and put all the return address labels in place. This was truly a joint effort.

Although 10 P.M. is often my bed time, I was wide eyed and bushy tailed and looking for another project. Never fear! This time of year is full of unfinished projects. I didn't have to look far until I found a dozen (yes, that is 12) unfinished calendar sets. Given that seven of these sets are gifts for the "Losers" and must be distributed on Friday, "I spoke not a work and set straight to my work", finishing about 1 A.M.

Given the time and two completed projects, one would think I would be tired and ready for my bed. Well, that's what I thought until I got into bed and tossed and turned and turned and tossed. Finally, I gave up and came downstairs. After consuming a glass of milk and two cookies, I decided I should probably work on the bulletin for the Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols.

Ahh! Now I can rest. Or maybe not!! Sleep still evaded me. As I lay in my soft, warm, comfy bed, I kept seeing all those packages in the living room which were ribbonless and bowless (are those actually words?). So "I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the workroom I flew like a flash" and came out with a bagful of ribbons and scissors and glue (well, actually, it was tape, but glue sounds so much more poetic).

Now, it's 3 A.M., but I still don't trust myself to sleep. Aha! I know what will put me to sleep quick as a wink. So, I climb the stairs with my trusty CD player, loaded with an audio book. In less the five minutes I was fast asleep.

Thanks to the kindness of my dear husband and the leisure allowed to retirees, I slept until 10 this morning. When I finally arose, I began a rather busy day of errands and food preparation, but I did so rested and ready to go.

Tonight we had a lovely, quiet dinner with our friends Bruce and Shelly. This is a ten or twelve year tradition. We always have dinner together either before or after the High School Christmas Concert (which now has to be called a "Holiday" concert). Bruce was our band director for many years and after the concert seemed like a good time to celebrate together before we went our separate ways for Christmas. Things have changed over the years; one of our couples is no longer a couple, our children have grown so Jim and I no longer attend the concert, Bruce has retired and doesn't feel comfortable at the concert. Only Shelly, who is the consummate teacher still hangs in there. Nevertheless, the Christmas meal continues. Times and circumstances may change, but Tradition stands - at least with the four of us.

I have labored long and hard and now I will rest from my work. Sleep well, dear friends.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Martha Stewart Slippers

Knowing that many (of the few) of the readers of my blog are into crafting, I thought I would post this latest craze in home fashioned Christmas gifts.

The directions for these slippers came in my email this morning and I just couldn't wait to share.
How to make bedroom slippers:

You need four maxi pads to make a pair. Two of the pads should be laid out for the foot part. The other two wrap around the toe area to form the top.
Tape or glue each side of the top pieces to the bottom of the foot part. Decorate the tops with whatever you desire, silk flowers (this is most aesthetically appealing), etc.

These slippers are:

* Soft and Hygienic

* Non-slip grip strips on the soles

* Built in deodorant feature keeps feet smelling fresh

* No more bending over to mop up spills

* Disposable and biodegradable

* Environmentally safe

* Three convenient sizes: Regular, Light and Get out the Sand Bags.

I've attached a photo of the first pair I made so that you can see these nifty slippers for yourself.
I hope you have all laughed as I did over this clever idea.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Pay It Forward

Have you visited any blogs lately that are paying it forward? I'm paying it forward after Dana payed it forward to me! Here's how this works. The first two people to leave a comment on this post will receive a surprise from me! If you are one of the first two posters, you then agree to pay it forward on YOUR blog.

Yep, you need a blog to participate. The things you give away can be anything--supplies, stamps, hand made items, whatever you like. It can even be a suprise. This is such a great time to do this as we are in a season of giving!

I guess we'll see if I have different people reading this blog today!


I forgot - HIPPOS make me so very happy.

I told you it would be hard to limit it to ten.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Happy Thoughts

I'm stealing from Jackie's blog and listing ten things that make me happy. It was hard to stop at ten, but here goes:

1. My husband, Jim. Someday I'll post how I am sure he was God's choice for me.

2. Having my family under one roof - which happens seldom happens.

3. My 93 year old Mother-in-law.

I cannot begin to tell you what a blessing she has been in my life. Isn't she beautiful?

4. The beach and the ocean.

5. Jesus - I'm sorry, Lord. That should have been first.

6. Wire Edge Ribbon.

7. Coffee with "The Losers".

8. Musical Theatre.

Last night, we saw "Plaid Tidings" at a local theater.What fun! I am so blessed to be married to a man who appreciates theater and the arts as much as I.

9. Pat's laugh.

Pat's laugh is a thing of beauty. So is she.

10. All the wonderful bloggers I have discovered this past few months.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Snowy Day

I probably shouldn't admit this to anyone, let alone on my blog for all the world to see. Oh, I forgot, Gretchen says nobody reads my blog anyway besides Tracy and her. Oh yes, the public confession - I really love these first wintry, snowy days. I felt like a little kid when I woke up this morning to see the pile of white over everything in our yard.

I can enjoy it all the more now that I have my own built in chauffeur. With Jim to do the driving, I can just sit back and relax. Which is just what I did. We had a breakfast date with our friend Bruce. We hadn't seen him since October and it was fun sitting in the cozy little restaurant near his house, having breakfast and catching up. "Uncle Billy's" is your typical neighborhood restaurant with friendly waitresses and really good food.

As long as we were out, we decided to go to the Mall and do a little Christmas shopping. Now, I need to tell you, Jim is no shopper, but since he has taken up reading, he is delighted to find a comfy spot and sit and read while I shop. I am really blessed to have such a good husband.

The shopping went well. Once we arrived home, Jim was out to do the snow-blowing and I to tackle the long, long list of things I have been going to get to. I have such good intentions, but the days somehow wind up being so busy that I just don't get the things done I should.

I have been sooooo disappointed with my Christmas decorations this year. The tree is absolutely beautiful. Jim decorated the entire thing by himself. He loves doing it and does such an exquisite job, I just stay out of it. I'll post a picture of the tree closer to Christmas. As I said, Jim does the tree, but I do the rest of the house.

Our Christmas celebration is taking such a new turn this year, that I feel decorating should be different too. No one is coming for the holiday season as they were all here in November. Also, our grown children, being really convicted about excesses, have asked us all if we can do gift giving in a new way. We are going to forgo gift giving among ourselves, instead choosing a charity to support.

Paige has chosen to contribute to Heifer Project while Brian and Gretchen are giving to a battered women's shelter in Las Vegas. Jim and I are providing Christmas for a family that has fallen on hard times. As much as I agree with this concept, I must admit it is a little difficult for me not to be buying gifts for my children. I know it's right, but that doesn't mean it's not hard.

So, I decided the decorating should be understated this year also. The problem with that is that once it was done it was just plain BLAH. It needed something but I just couldn't decide what. I think I've found the answer. I'll start with the bathroom and see what you think. Like "plastics" in The Graduate, I'll just say "bows".