Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chrissy's Story

My daughter-in-law Chrissy wrote this story.

My most memorable Christmas to date took place when I was between the ages of 10 or 12. My mom could never afford to buy us presents for anything, Christmas included. But my Nan (who is my Mom's Mom) always had gifts for us. She asked me what I wanted for Christmas that year, and without hesitation I told her I'd like a gold cross necklace. I still think to this day, and almost immediately thought that day as a little girl, "What in the world made me ask her for that?" I mean we were not raised in a Christian home, and we certainly didn't go to church. But either way, I was proud of myself for that brief moment. I don't think I fully understood at the time why I felt so proud, but I do now. Christmas day came, and we went to my Nanny's for dinner and gifts. I still remember when I opened the little box and saw this simple, but stunning little gold cross necklace that was now my own. I remember wearing it almost every day, but eventually, being a little girl, I lost my cross necklace, but never lost my love for the Lord. That out of all the Christmases I've had and can remember is the one I always think of when I go back through my Christmas memories. It brings tears to my eyes to think how God reached out his hand to me when I never knew him.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Long Ago: My Story

My family lived briefly in a small logging town in Utah called Panguitch. We lived in a tiny green trailer-- Mom, Dad, and four children. My new little brother Shane had just been born in November the year of that memorable Christmas. Having no washer or dryer, my mother washed out his diapers by hand and hung them outside in the icy air to dry. I remember her bringing them inside, stiff and frozen.

I was seven and in second grade when we lived in Panguitch. I walked to and from school alone down the main street in town and looked into store windows on my way. Once, around Halloween, I bought wax teeth and big red wax lips in one of those stores.

That Christmas was snowy and cold. We were having a holiday party at my school. Each child drew a name, and we had to buy that classmate a gift--limit 50 cents. I don't remember the child who received my gift or even what I brought to share. Thinking back, I know it must have been a hardship for my parents to buy one more gift during a very difficult season in their lives.

I still have two of the four gifts I received for Christmas that year. A boy in my class gave me a treasure--a picture book filled with stories and poems about Christmas. It had the words to The Twelve Days of Christmas in it, and a poem about "Jesus, our brother, kind and good." There was a story about two girls taking a penny walk at Christmas. I'd never heard of a penny walk before and wanted to try it. You flip a penny at every corner while you're walking. If heads, you turn right, if tails, you go left. Oh, how many times I read that book through the years!

I also still have a doll that was mailed to me from my grandmother in California. It was a Terry Lee doll and she could walk and turn her head. I named her Sandra. My mother later told me she had two dollars apiece to spend on each of her children that Christmas. The winter in Utah was bitter cold but girls were required to wear dresses to school no matter what the weather. My mother bought me red tights. I was thrilled to have them and remember playing hopscotch on the blacktop at school while I was wearing them. Also, Christmas morning, hanging on our small blue spruce tree, I found a tiny, stuffed dog named Topper. I think the name was inspired by a TV show I had watched.

The images in my mind of our time in Panguitch are still vivid. My mother always made Christmas special, and that year was no exception. By the next holiday, we would be living in a real house and the first Christmas there was magical. But I will hold that story for another time.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Stacia's Memorable Christmas

My son Dominic's fiancee sent me this story:

One of my favorite Christmases was when I was about 7 years old. I remember this Christmas very well because my family was all together at my grandparents' house. All my aunts and uncles were there, exchanging gifts and laughing together. There was a coffee table with a bowl of walnuts in it and a nutcracker, and everyone ate walnuts out of the shell. There were Christmas songs playing on the radio. Suddenly we heard a knock on the door and a jolly "ho ho ho!" We had a special visitor--Santa Claus! He came down the stairs in a red suit holding a big red bag of toys for us kids. I would find out later that it was my Uncle Greg dressed up, but of course it was Santa to us. There were many wonderful toys in the bag, but the best one of all was too big to be wrapped. All the adults got kind of hushed and Santa said he had a special present for me. Then he went behind a door and came out wheeling a bright green scooter with tassels on the handle bars. I shrieked with delight--a scooter was every child's dream! This one was sleek and shiny and very fashionable. Santa then wheeled out a new bike for my brother, and he was thrilled, too. We couldn't stop talking about our new wheels. When we got home that night my dad brought them down to the basement and we rode around and around in circles until we were tired. I rode that scooter for years until I finally parted with it at a garage sale. I think my brother still has his bike up in the attic.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Favorite Christmas

Here is Arielle's story:

I love Christmas time. Christmas is the time when baby Jesus was born. Lots of people get excited about the gifts and other stuff and they forget about what Christmas is really about. At our house we try to not forget the true meaning of Christmas, but we sometimes forget.

Every year we go to our church for a Christmas concert. It is amazing to see all the singers and hear the music. I always look forward to the concert. On Christmas Eve our church has a play of the nativity for the kids. One of my favorite Christmases was the year when my mom and dad bought me a Felicity American Girl doll. I play with her, but I am careful to keep her hair looking nice. Every morning on Christmas I wake up, get my sister, and we both go into my mom and dad's room to wake them up. When they are awake, we open presents in the living room.

All my big brothers and my big sister come over for dinner. Before dinner we all sit down in a circle in the living room and take turns opening more gifts. I love it when all the family gets together. At dinner it is always crazy when all the plates of food are passing from person to person and everyone is talking all at once. That was the best Christmas I can remember.

A Christmas to Remember

The girls had a creative writing assignment about a favorite or memorable Christmas from the past. I told them I would also write a story. So over the next couple of days, I will post them all. Readers! Please contribute!

Here is Liana's story: She was thinking of the Christmas when she was two but added some more recent details.

The countdown until Christmas has started. Soon it will be Christmas, the best time of the year. The best part was the family that would come. Even a two-year-old like me would not just care about the gifts. But I'm not saying that I don't want any presents. Christmas Eve is coming and that means the wonderful Christmas Eve concert. I'm strolling now through the house, my eyes gazing at the Christmas tree. Oh, what a beautiful tradition it is! Just lining up to Christmas is great! Going to the mall and getting the chocolate samples is awesome. On Christmas morning I got a doll house with furniture in it. It was sure a Christmas to remember.

Monday, December 21, 2009


What were you doing during the blizzard of 2009? Many people will have stories to tell in the years to come. I have a story of the blizzard of 1996 that brought us 30.7 inches of snow. I was stranded in a hotel in Philadelphia where I had gone for a chiropractic seminar. The highways and the airport were closed and no one could leave the city. The hotel had no restaurant so my fellow classmates and I had to venture out on foot and try to find some place that would sell us something to eat. We found a convenience store with a line of people wrapped around the building. But we bought food and then stuffed the containers in the snow below our window at the hotel so nothing would spoil and we could later heat our meals in the one microwave in the lobby.

This blizzard was mild by comparison, but I hope we will all remember it with a smile and with gratitude for a special weekend. The four of us were home together, gladly stranded and unable to go anywhere. Fortunately, we had no obligations like many others did, so we watched the storm arrive with an increasingly dense, dark gray sky as the light snow began and then quickly turned to a furious, relentless storm.

The girls couldn't wait to go outside and were delighted when the lawn was quickly blanketed in white. Fred and I did a quick shoveling after a few inches of snow accumulated, then retreated indoors for snacks, hot drinks, and movies by the fire. Is there anything better? At dusk we decided to shovel again even though the storm was still blasting through the area. I pushed all the snow from our wooden deck and then started on the driveway. Fred said to leave it be, that he would get out the snow blower in the morning. But I didn't want to quit. I felt like I could shovel forever. The falling snow was beautiful, magical somehow. The outdoor Christmas lights switched on and cast a colorful glow on our yard. I walked up the road in front of the house for a picture and then called the girls to come and see. Liana spent most of her time digging a big hole in the mound we had shoveled and then sat in it for quite awhile, transfixed by her own imaginary world. Arielle piled high a huge mountain of snow to make a fort. No one wanted to come inside.

Sometime in the middle of the night the Nor'easter left us to head further north. More shoveling awaited us. In the bright, cold sunshine we cleared at least another six inches. This time, our work was more drudgery than fantasy. The girls bickered and threw snowballs at each other. Fred and I just wanted to get done. The magic was gone. But I will always remember the snowfalll that evening when we were caught up in a winter wonderland.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Looking for Christmas

Christmas is coming way too quickly and we are going through the motions doing all the same actitivies we do every year to get ready. I'm enjoying them all! But I notice with each thing we do, we try to capture that essence of Christmas--something fulfilling, nostalgic, meaningful. Deep in our hearts is a wistful longing for the excitement and magic we experienced as a child. Or if not that, then something we can't name, something elusive, something we can't quite grasp.

Fred and the girls and I have been shopping at the mall and had a fun time trying to hide gifts from each other and not give away secrets. We went to the tree farm on the coldest, windiest day of the season (again!) and froze as we rode out to the fields in a hay wagon driven by two big horses. We cut the most beautiful tree we've ever had. It is 7 feet tall, full and lush. Fred placed thousands of lights on it and the girls hung our ornaments, each one attached to a memory.

My friend had a ladies' Christmas party in her 180-year-old country home, fully adorned in Christmas finery. We snacked and talked and sang carols, and listened to a dramatization of Jesus' birth. On Sunday we attended the concert at our church and heard a full orchestra and choir presenting glorious music. If you can't find Christmas there, where would you? We're building traditions and the girls are forming their own warm and fuzzy feelings about the season.

It struck me that when I'm looking for Christmas, I'm really looking for Jesus--a touch, a word, a connection to Him. It's His birthday, after all. He is not elusive. He's at the mall and the farm, in our homes and churches. He is in our hearts. Maybe I need to just stop and talk to Him, slow down and listen for His voice.

Why do we love the trappings of Christmas? Our huge tree reminds me of life, the rich full life God has given me here on earth and the hope of eternal life. I love the tiny, twinkling lights on the tree. They shine like the stars forever and ever. I love to sing the old carols. We'll one day join choirs of angels singing praises to God. We so enjoy giving gifts to our children, just as God loved us so much that He gave us His son.

All these things are glimpses of what can't be fully realized now. They are a hint of the future, the promise of what is to come. We cling to our little earthly traditions and long for heaven.

At the concert we heard a beautiful song that was unfamiliar to me. I found the words on the web, but could not find any site to post here so you could hear it. It's called, "All the World Was Waiting." I don't know who wrote it. If you find it, let me know. I want to hear it again.

All the world was waiting, for the promised One,
Prophets through the ages claimed that He would come,
Would He be a warrior, or a conquering King?
Could he be the one who'd save us from our sin and suffering?

All the world was waiting on the night that you were born,
God of life eternal, in a fragile form,
Shepherds gathered closer, gazing at your face,
Wondering how this helpless child could save a fallen human race.

All the world was waiting, as you became a man,
Truth was in your teaching, healing in your hand,
Though your heart was sinless, you laid down your life,
To pay the debt that only perfect love could satisfy.

Now the world is waiting, for another day,
When your Sovereign hand will turn the final page,
And all will be accomplished, our trials and tears will end,
And those who've longed to see you will never wait again.

Monday, December 14, 2009

On aging

A friend of mine sent me some great thoughts on getting old from Max Lucado. It's always bothered me that we are supposed to buy into the idea of making ourselves look younger than we really are. Why? What's wrong with looking our age? I'm all for keeping healthy, but don't you think our culture goes a little too far in promoting youthfulness? To all of my friends who are my age--we've traded our looks for the great wisdom we've acquired! I think it's far more valuable.

"How precious are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!" Psalm 139:17.

Aging is a universal condition. But the way we try to hide it, you would think it was a plague!
There are girdles which compact the middle-age spread for both sexes. There are hair transplants, wigs, toupees, and hair pieces. Dentures bring youth to the mouth, wrinkle cream brings youth to the face, and the color in a bottle brings youth to the hair. All to hide what everyone already knows--we're getting older.

Just when the truth about life sinks in, God's truth starts to surface. He takes us by the hand and dares us not to sweep the facts under the rug but to confront them with him at our side.

Aging? A necessary process to pass on to a better world.
Death? Merely a brief passage, a tunnel.
Self? Designed and created for a purpose, purchased by God himself.

There, was that so bad?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Let it snow!

Finally! A free weekend. Nothing at all planned, but snow was in the forecast. The girls were hopping with excitement. They were out the door when the first few flakes began to stick to the grass.
It was a warm snow, coming up from the South. It fell wet and heavy, pulling down our bamboo and breaking a huge branch from the lilac tree. But it frosted the trees with ice and was so beautiful. The snow was great for packing and the girls made the first snowman of the season.
Inside, Fred made a fire in the wood stove and we ate snacks and watched silly Christmas movies all afternoon-- Elf and Christmas with the Kranks. We also watched parts of The Santa Clause series AGAIN. Highly recommended!
Fred's leg is healing. He has to be reminded to be cautious because he tends to overdo. I am making an effort to massage it well every night and that has helped a lot with the swelling. Our hands have healing in them. I believe it and scripture supports it.
Our wonderful weekend is ending. Fred prayed at dinner, "Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to see another winter and another snowfall." We are grateful. Another season upon us and we are here to celebrate it!