Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010 (By Lori)

Christmas this year seemed just a little different...not necessarily better or worse, just…different. For me, one difference was that I did not do a very good job of bringing service into this holiday season. In years past there has been at least some cookie baking and delivering said cookies to friends, neighbors, and those at church whom I “visit teach”. The year that our family picked an angel off of the angel tree at the mall and went shopping together was an absolutely wonderful time. Although we did do some things to help out others this year, it just wasn’t the same effort as in Christmas past, and that left a little something lacking in the holiday for me. Hopefully next year I will be in better health and all bathroom remodeling issues will be resolved, and I can do some things that will make me really get into the Christmas spirit.

Surprisingly, music played a much more important role for me this year. As a girl whose favorite song is “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, I don’t get overly involved in music other than enjoying my favorite song and some of the Christmas classics (“O Holy Night” is a great one!). But I happened to catch the end of a special featuring Faith Hill, and it helped me feel the Christmas spirit so very much! I knew that she sang “Where Are You Christmas”, and this song has struck a chord with me because there were some years not so very long ago when I had that sentiment and shared those feelings. However, I had never heard “A Baby Changes Everything” until this year and I did not know that she sings it until I saw her special. What a powerful song! It absolutely made my Christmas season and helped to remind me what it is all about. If you would like to hear it,
click here .

The one thing that stays the same, no matter how you feel physically and no matter what shape your bathroom is in, is loved ones, and I am so grateful that we were able to spend Christmas with ours. Thanks to QVC, HSN, and the UPS guy, there were presents under the tree for everyone (although I doubt that I made all of their dreams come true this year!):

On Christmas Eve, Miss Popper arrived looking somewhat stunned by the whole affair:

However, her mother and her “Grump-Pa” were able to get her warmed up a bit:

Alan had to work Christmas Eve, but we were delighted when he showed up an hour earlier than we had expected (I guess business was slowing down). I don’t know what he and Paisley were up to, but they look a little suspicious to me:

We ate sub-sandwiches, along with cheese ball, etc., watched a video called “The Nativity”, and then opened some presents. Mandy and Jeromy always manage to look so very excited, no matter what the gift:

I loved EVERYTHING that I got, and I received some very special gifts. Alan got one of my favorite Disney movies, “Beauty and the Beast” on DVD for me – I was very glad, because it was one of those things I just have not got around to doing yet, but I certainly am happy that he did that for me. Mandy and Jeromy got me a digital picture frame, fully loaded with pictures both new and old (another wonderful thing):

And Robert got me two special things. The first gift he gave me was an old-fashioned nut cracker. It is great because I love vintage/antique things and it also says, “Squirrel Cracker” on it. To further honor Chewka Marie’s memory, he bought me this cute little figurine (also from the antique store) of a mother squirrel and two babies. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought of Chewka Marie, and I appreciate his remembering her and how much she meant to me.

After a wonderful evening, Miss Popper and her parents went back to their home, but returned the next day to celebrate Christmas Day with us. Miss Popper was certainly decked out in her Christmas finery, complete with little silver shoes:

Mom and I took a short-cut to Christmas dinner this year. We had picked up barbeque and potato salad from Riscky’s Barbeque the afternoon before, so all we had to do was heat the meat and whip out a couple of side dishes. It was actually very good, and a nice change. I was excited that I got to use my new ceramic bake ware/serving ware with the polka dots (I love silly little things.)

I certainly hope that everyone had as much of a wonderful holiday as we had, and may the new year bring forth God’s blessings upon you!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Ornament for Paisley

My daughter and her husband have started a wonderful tradition for my grand-daughter (in fact, I wish I had thought of this for my kids!). Each year they attend an ornament exchange with Jeromy’s family, and this year they actually included Miss Popper in the exchange, so she went home with her very own ornament. Mandy is going to save them in a box for her and then add an ornament from Miss Popper’s mom and dad so that she will have a little box of ornaments of her very own to take with her when she leaves home. I thought this was so sweet that I wanted Miss Popper’s Grump-Pa and her Lolee (me) to get in on this deal, so I started with an ornament for Paisley on her very first Christmas.

At first I was tempted to get her an owl ornament. Her parents love all things “owl” and have even done Miss Popper’s nursery in an owl theme. In a cute twist of fate, one of Miss Popper’s first “tricks” has been to hoot like a little owlet; if you would like to watch a video of Paisley saying, “Whooo….”, then
click here . But then I stumbled across an ornament that has a lot of meaning for me, and I decided to pass this along to my girl for her first Christmas.

Anyone who actually knows me knows that I had a pet squirrel who lived in my house with me for four years. Most people don’t understand just how much she meant to me. Even though she required a lot of care and drove me crazy at times, life with her was a very unique experience and the love that I gave to her and received from her was beyond description. She brought home the fact that there is nobility in even the smallest and simplest of God’s creatures. I had hoped that Miss Popper and Chewka Marie would have the chance to meet one day, but as fate would have it, Chewka Marie left this world just as Paisley Grace was about to enter it. Chewka died the afternoon before Paisley was born; in fact we had not yet buried her when we got the call that Mandy was being admitted to the hospital with preeclampsia. So I said a hurried good-bye to my dearest little friend before heading to the hospital to check on my daughter.

I have never been the type to believe that one being can take another being’s place; to me, to say this would be an insult to them both. Each loved one in my life holds a unique place in my heart, filed away in one of the little drawers that I keep there. But I am so grateful that Miss Popper arrived safely and soundly, and she has brought me more joy than I had ever dreamed. Her arrival helped me through a tough time and she is one of God’s tender mercies, not just for her parents, but for her Lolee as well. I had made a scrapbook of Chewka Marie a couple of years ago (in story book format), and when Paisley gets old enough I will read it to her. I will show her the squirrel ornament that her parents bought for me because they know that I love all things “squirrel”. I want to give her a little squirrel for her tree to help her remember that as a window shuts, a door is opened, and we can be comforted during our dark times, even if it is in ways which are unexpected.

My squirrel ornament:

Miss Popper’s squirrel ornament:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Waiting for Christmas

Each Christmas season for the past two or three years I have been lucky enough to get an early start on the season. I had the tree up and the decorations out within a couple of days after Thanksgiving. By this point, my Christmas shopping was all but complete. I loved this because it allowed me to just relax and enjoy the spirit of giving service, the joy, and the time with family that Christmas is supposed to be. However, this year the only things decking our halls are boxes of tile and building supplies for the bathroom. Having the bathroom “poop out” on us just before Thanksgiving was not conducive to holiday decorating! Robert is working on it with every spare minute that he has, but remodeling a whole bathroom is just a major project, no matter how you look at it or how hard you work. So this year I am “waiting for Christmas” in more ways than one. I am just trying to enjoy the things that ARE available to me.

We had a family Christmas party at church. It was not only fun, but it certainly fulfilled the idea of giving service at Christmas. I will soon be posting more on the story of the actual party on my new blog,
“Womanly Decadence” (I think I may need to join a 12-step program for compulsive bloggers). Anyway, at the party they had set up a cute little “forest” of trees and I noticed that many families were having their pictures made in front of them, so I persuaded Alan to let me take his picture. Can you see the boyish glee on his face at being around all the little kids running around? (Me neither! But, I’m glad he was a good sport and went with me.)

Meanwhile, at Miss Popper’s house, Christmas is up and running! Her mother and father have put up not one, but multiple trees. She also had a great time the other night when her parents took her to her first official ornament exchange with Jeromy’s family. This is a tradition of his extended family, and I really like it. Since there are so many members in his extended family, the annual ornament exchange is the one opportunity for the whole clan to get together at the holidays. Each participant brings an ornament; I’m still not clear if it is like a “white elephant” game or what, but at the end of the evening each participant goes home with a different ornament. Mandy is starting a box for Miss Popper’s ornaments from the annual party, and Mandy and I plan on each adding an ornament, too. The idea is that when Miss Popper leaves home someday she will have a good start on a tree of her own with decorations that have a history and meaning.

Here are Mandy and Miss Popper, ready to go:

At the ornament exchange Miss Popper was passed from relative to relative, and seems to be having a great time:

I had bought the little outfit that she was wearing and was so tickled to see that Mandy took this shot. What a cute little bum!

Hope you are enjoying the Christmas season!