THE REASON – – –

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This is probably the first verse that everyone memorizes, the one everyone knows. Our dear friend, Dorothy, and I were talking about this one day. She told me that someone once told her that everyone knew that verse but they really should know John 3:17 as well. She asked if I knew it which I did not. She said when she was told that she thought she should memorize it too. She immediately quoted it to me. She said he was right, it was important!

John 3:17

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Like most of the time, Dorothy was right! Dorothy was a very dear, dear friend and we have some stories to tell about her, too. They will be coming soon. Merry Christmas to you all. Have a wonderful day!

Christmas Future

Again, incorrect title here. This is not actually Christmas future, it is both Christmas now and Christmas future. I just wanted three blogs to be named Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future so I improvised a bit. I thought those titles would sound good and perhaps attract readers. HaHa. By the way, my favorite version of “A Christmas Carol” is the one starring Alastair Sim.

The children are grown and have their own plans and families in addition to their partner’s family. I never liked having to haul our children to various places during the holidays when they just wanted to stay home and play and enjoy their day. So, I want them to enjoy their Christmas even if that is at their own home. We can have the “Santa celebration” at any time. This year we will be together Christmas Eve, though!

Of course Christmas is not the same as when I was a child and never will be, mainly because I am no longer a child! That seemed sad to me and I would look back and miss those days. Now I remember those days with a smile and am ever so thankful for them. We had our babies and it became about making memories for them. That was even more fulfilling! How fun it was to make those babies days wonderful! Now, I miss those days! Since it has not been that long ago, although I smile and am happy for those memories, I still miss them and tear up from time to time. Okay, maybe I outright sob. Our children have already noticed the difference in Christmas too as a lot of our family has passed away and/or moved away and our holiday gatherings are much smaller.

I may have trouble explaining this due to lack of words coming to me, but there are certain feelings a person gets about things. For instance, a smell or a song may remind you of a person, place or event. To me, Christmas is a feeling. I have moments, that I just “feel” that it is Christmas and it feels wonderful! It is like when you step outside and the air is just right and the smells, the way the sky looks and the weather, and you think, this reminds me of camping. That is just what I am talking about. As the Christmas season is near, just walking through the house, or stepping outside, the feeling that it is about to be Christmas and is Christmas season just comes over me. Does anyone know what I mean? Did I explain it well enough? Anyway, I absolutely love that “feeling” of Christmas. Perhaps it is the anticipation, the memories, the way people act, the air, who knows. I won’t question it, I will just enjoy it!

Another difference now is the difficulty in shopping for the children. The days of the easy, fun toys are over. My children still love the toys, but mostly the video games Well, they do still love any type of Lego and my daughter would take a stuffed animal or doll anytime. I know she wanted the Pioneer Woman dollhouse that was complete with little kitchen accessories and of course a doll of Ree! It is not available here and not for shipping or I would have made sure that Santa brought that to her! She collects all of the other Pioneer woman stuff. Clothing is too complicated to shop for as they are so particular and make their own choices now. Mommy does not get to dress them how she thinks is cute. HaHa. Gift certificates are not much fun, so it becomes quite the challenge. You have to listen to little comments all year about how they may want this or that and remember to get that for them. I don’t seem to do too well with this, but my son and daughter are the best at it. They are so observant! That must not have come from me, unless I was better when I was younger.

Please do not take any of this the wrong way, even with the changes in our lives, we still LOVE the Santa celebration part of Christmas. The family gets together and we still make all of the favorite foods. We will have lasagna one day and steak and scalloped potatoes the other. (Side note: Wikipedia says: Lasagne is the noodle and Lasagna is the dish) My husband will make his famous pancakes for breakfast I am certain. I use to make something special every year and would look for a new recipe but my husband excels at pancakes and I don’t have to work so why not?! Well, he is learning to excel at gluten free pancakes now. My sister-in-law and her children always make it to Christmas Eve still. This year they will be bringing a new member, my great nephew! We play games and eat with them and my sister-in-law will be bringing some of her special treats!

We always, always watch A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim after everyone leaves. We try to do that on Christmas Eve to keep that tradition. That brings to mind a Christmas Past. I believe it was the last Christmas that my sister was at our house before she passed away. She and I (as the rest of the siblings) watched that movie with Mom and Dad. It was probably hard for mom what with all she had to do for Santa because that show was on television at 10:30 every Christmas Eve. We did not have all of the channel choices and movie stations that we do today. It was on Channel 3 at that time and that is when you watched it. Remember the boxes you had to have to turn the antenna the direction of one of the limited channels you could get? When that broke, until you got a new one, you may have had to go manually turn it! Haha. Anyway, with the 10:30 time, that meant us children were up late and perhaps mom had to stay up even later since she did have to help Santa.

So, my sister and her family were visiting and we were all downstairs ready to watch the movie and my son ran upstairs to cook frozen pizzas for us. Our favorite brand is a Tombstone pizza. My son takes such pride in how he “doctors” it up. He uses his special blend of spices and extra cheese. He hurried and set the timer and was back in no time. We started the movie. This year, there was some sort of problem with the DVD player but we finally got it to work. It seemed we were having issues with everything that night. Haha. The timer buzzed indicating it was pizza time. The plates, napkins and drinks were already downstairs. My son dashed up the steps to get and cut the pizzas. He was back in record time. In fact, such record time, we knew he could not have the pizzas with him. What had he forgotten? Perhaps it needed a little more oven time. Well….. you should have seen his sad little face. My son, in his hurry, had cooked the pizzas the entire time on Broil! Yep, totally black pizzas. Not at all edible! We were s disappointed but none more than him. Pizza is his very favorite food! I remember when he was actually proud because he had secretly had a goal to eat an entire frozen pizza. I remember him bragging the day that he accomplished this, he was in third grade! I had no idea he had set this goal and it does not seem to be a problem for him now. Haha. As you may have gathered from reading my stories, nothing much bothers my husband. He was glad to have that pizza no matter what. It never occurred to any of us to even attempt to eat it as it was truly burned beyond recognition. He ate it anyway, though or should I say he crunched through it. Unfortunately, we did not have any more pizzas for him to cook but I am pretty sure we found something else to snack on and we enjoyed the movie as always!

I believe in the Thanksgiving blog that I mentioned the holiday gatherings being smaller due to people passing and other reasons, but it will grow again. It is a way of life. The children will have children and new members will be added. There are always wonderful new memories to make and we should strive to do just that. I realize it is hard and there is sorrow at holidays too, too may losses at times. Loneliness. Remember to keep making memories and sharing joy and happiness with the ones who are still here. Try to reflect on your memories with smiles and be happy that we were able to have them. Perhaps this will help get through it. Embrace your loved ones that are still with you. We have lost both sets of our parents, my three older siblings and others. The sadness can wash over you at moments. Sometimes you may need to just cry and that is okay. I wish I could be there to give you a hug. Sometimes it may help to share a nice memory of a person that you can smile about or laugh about. I hope that I have encouraged you or made you smile with some of our memories. Try to smile over yours and make new ones to smile and laugh over and may you all have a wonderful Christmas.

Christmas Present – As In Christmas Now – Not The Gift.

Christmas present is not actually Christmas present.  It is about the Christmases we had with our children, when they were little.  They have since grown and moved away. Yuck!! I hate the sound of that!  I miss them being here so much!  I am proud and happy  that they are doing fine on their own, but I long for those little arms around our necks and those little legs running down the hallways in excitement, giggling and laughing.  I miss everything about them.

I wanted our children to have the wonderful memories that I had so I tried to make Christmas close to my parents’ style.  We use to keep up my mother’s tradition of decorating on Thanksgiving night, but had to change that.  After my mother passed away, Thanksgivings were only at my husband’s family – the 45 minute drive one way. The children were so excited to get back and decorate that they were ready to leave Thanksgiving at Grandma’s right after eating. We, of course, stayed anyway and visited and played games and things. We were so tired when we got home but never wanted to disappoint the children, so we decorated anyway. As we decorated, there was always Christmas music playing or a Christmas movie was put on. We never finished it that night, but we got a healthy start or at least got the tree up.  Our tree was artificial but I always teasingly told the children that we had to wait to decorate until the branches warmed up and dropped, just like my mom told us.  They would just laugh. Christmas was the time to remove every decoration, every anything that you had in your home and replace it with only Christmas!  Shower curtains, hand towels, soap dispensers, napkin holders, salt and pepper shakers, items on the walls, rugs, anything in the home had to be Christmas.  At times, we were not even finished decorating when Christmas arrived. Going overboard?  Yes, maybe, but the only way to be! Solution:  We start decorating November 1 so that we are finished by Christmas and we now can stay later in the evening at Grandma’s as the children were no longer so anxious to leave. We had a Christmas tree downstairs and upstairs.  The children had small trees in their rooms. One can never have enough trees, can they?  Keeping with mom’s tradition, we strung popcorn and made paper chains, too. We would make/craft some type of ornament each year.  This was a fun family project and the children would make extras to give out as gifts.  We still have at least one of every single one of these ornaments.

Black Friday was never about shopping with us.  I am not sure shopping was a big day then and I am not sure it was always called that. Was it? It was about continuing decorating and starting on the candy making.  It seemed we made candy and/or cookies daily!  We filled every container available and stocked up the freezer. We each had our favorites. We set out a  little candy daily until Christmas and then set it all out on Christmas Eve and Christmas day just like mom did. Christmas Eve was spent with my side of the family coming to our house and we had an evening of snack type foods, meatballs, cheese dips, barbecued cocktail weiners, cheese garlic bread, bacon wrapped chestnuts, devilled ham dip and more.  I have included the recipe for bacon wrapped chestnuts. Of course, all of the candy was set around, including some store bought favorites. We exchanged gifts and then a Christmas paper ball fight broke out.  People were wadding up the used wrapping paper and throwing wadded balls at each other like crazy. This was always a high speed fight. The paper ball fight eventually  prompted the tradition of buying “toys for the boys.” This never stopped the paper fights though, that is a yearly occurrence! Someone would buy a “toy” for every guy that would be coming.  I believe they were usually some type of shooting toy, nerf or whatever. One year, though,  it was blow dart guns.  They all had to go outside and play with those. Funny thing was, that year it was almost 70 degrees out on Christmas.  Illinois weather is the best!

I think that the most memorable was when my nephew and his wife stole away to the downstairs where they had marshmallow shooting guns hidden.  They loaded all of the guns and came bounding up the stairs firing away at all of us, handing each of us a gun as they passed by us. A complete war broke out.  Such a fun thing to watch.  Guys were hiding like swat team members, darting around corners, hiding against walls and shooting at each other. The cat even got involved in this one!  I will have to explain this.  We had been running down hallways, up and down the stairs, and from room to room. We were in complete combat!  We finally had to rest and were sitting and talking and reliving the “war”.  Suddenly a marshmallow comes sailing into the room from the hallway.  I am sure this is hard to believe, but it was seen with our own eyes!  The cat picked up a marshmallow in the hallway and tossed it into the room!  We laughed so hard that it took awhile for us to recover from that one. I was finding those miniature marshmallows for years in various different out of reach places.  I found one this very year when we had to move a cabinet.  What a great thing to find!  I smiled most of the day with that memory. I took a picture of that marshmallow with my phone and shared it with my daughter!  Haha. After everyone left, the children were allowed to open one gift from us before bedtime.

Christmas morning  –  what fun for the children.  They could barely sleep.  Our youngest, a daughter, would seem to wake up every hour and run to our room and tell us she was certain Santa was here, could we please get up.  She would say I saw him!  I know he came! I see presents that were not there before! She was so excited! You should have seen that sweet little girl.  She was the picture of Christmas.  She was such a beautiful sight to see with her long blonde hair, her beautiful big brown eyes sparkling with excitement and dressed in a red plaid flannel night gown with white lace. Sometimes we went ahead and let them open gifts as early as 4:00 a.m. What a pleasure to see them so excited, their eyes sparkling and all smiles.  I will never forget those days.  I would relive them all over day after day if it were possible.  I could really elaborate here and tell thousands of stories about them during this season, but I would never be able to stop.  I have the rest of the year as the memories pop up to tell you about them. I don’t have the words to sum up how full my heart is, how much love I have for those children and how I wish time could stand still and I could have these moments forever!

Presents opened and played with for a bit and then off to Grandma’s for dinner.  Again, the children, as much as they loved Grandma and Grandpa and all of the other relatives, could not wait to eat and leave.  They now wanted to get home to play with all of the great items they received.  This barely touches on the joy and great times we had at Christmas with our precious children, but you can imagine.  As I said, I have the rest of the year to tell more as well.  I can say this to all of you, treasure your moments with your family and children.  They really do fly by and are gone before you know it. Do not get caught up in the hectic times.  Slow down and make those memories that will last your lifetime.  Put that sparkle in some child’s eye, you will never forget it!

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Christmas Past – As A Child

Christmas – The Best Memories Ever —

Our mother and father would go all out.  Mom made so, so many candies and cookies.  Starting about the first of December there was always a table with some sort of candy on it.  Our biggest part of Christmas was usually Christmas Eve.  My father was a conductor for  New York Central Railroad, later to become Penn Central.  He was gone so much of the time. Christmas fell when dad was home, mostly that was Christmas Eve.

Mom always decorated the house beautifully in my opinion.  Our Christmas tree was  a real tree, probably because there were no artificial ones then.  I am not sure about that but I do remember when I saw my first “silver” tree.  We called them foil!  They also came out with white trees.  Do any of you remember those? I think my Grandmother was the first to have one in our family.  They also came out with a color wheel  that spun and had a light in it.  You put that under your tree and the colors spun around lighting and changing your foil tree.

Mom and Dad would bring our freshly cut tree  in and set it up. Mom said we had to wait until it warmed up and the branches dropped.  We could hardly contain our excitement.  That tree made the house smell so good!  It was always too large and had to be cut off, but it was so big and full. It was a perfect tree every time.  Mom or Dad always strung the lights as it was too difficult for us to do and perhaps because they wanted them done properly. We had the lights that made bubbles of liquid run up and down, in multiple colors. They were so pretty I could stare at them for hours. Next came the ornaments.  We would go through the box and we would find our “favorite” and tell the others that we got to hang that one.  We could only reach according to our heights, so the top was left to the older children and mom and dad. We also actually strung popcorn.  We never had the patience to completely do the tree in this but we had some chains of it.  I know a lot went into our stomachs!  Of course, this was popped in a kettle on the stove and not in a microwaved bag.  Incidentally, there was no such thing as a microwave then. We also hung the candy canes and made paper chains. Lastly, mom would precisely hang the tinsel.  It just sparkled and twinkled and made the tree perfect. She would give us the last bit and let us either hang it or toss it.  Such fun! Mom would take crepe paper in red and green and accordion fold it.  Then she opened it and hung it from corner to corner on the ceiling meeting in the middle at the light.  It was beautiful! I think the “old-fashioned” decorations were the best. The pictures below are faded and even though in color, the crepe papers appear red and white and maybe they actually were red and white.  These were taken in 1955 and I would have only been 13 months old, but I wanted to show you what they looked like. The pictures below those are of my sister and I at that same Christmas.  I apologize for the terrible colors of the two with my sister and I, they were restored from negatives and did not turn out well.  I am happy to have them though.

honey and i

The presents began to appear under the tree.  We would assess our presents, pick them up to gauge the weight, shake them, anything to figure out what was in there! We even tried to press the paper flat in an attempt to see if we could read the box. Mom would always tell us to put the present down and not to shake it.  They always rattled.  She said it was just pieces and that Santa would put them together when he came. She said we would  break the pieces and of course if we did not behave, Santa would not fill the presents at all!  We took our chances and picked them up and shook them anyway. She said she had no idea what was in the box because only Santa did when he put the pieces together.  I never knew that Santa put presents together inside of the box!

The day of our Christmas, ALL of the candy was put out on a special table.  She made the good old fashioned candy, all homemade.  There was divinity, fudge rolls, refrigerator fudge, various cookies and pies, peanut butter balls, rum balls, church windows, every type of homemade goodies she could think of.  She even made me chocolate covered cherries! The fudge roll required a lot of stirring by hand, the recipe said stir until it lost it’s gloss.  We had to take turns helping her stir that because it took so long and it got so stiff.  The older, stronger children were the ones who did the stirring at the end. Who knows, that may have just been mom’s way of involving us. You will find the recipe that she used at the end of this article. The candy had real walnuts in it.  We would gather them and dry them and crack them ourselves.  On our candy table was also a variety of nuts that you had to crack yourselves.  Pecans, brazil nuts, hazel nuts, English walnuts and such.  Yum!  Brazil nuts were my favorite and seemingly the hardest to get out.  That pick was constantly used.  Sometimes, you were lucky and got the entire nut to come out at once. I still buy those today and set them out at Christmas. I do not make her fudges and candies, as I never really tried.  I was more interested in meat, potatoes and gravy. I sure do miss the tastes, though. All of the family would arrive and it was time for Christmas!

We would  finish eating and would be playing together, laughing and talking and out of nowhere you could hear sleigh bells ringing!!!  My mom would rush and tell us to get into the bathroom and shut the door!  If Santa knew we were around and still awake, we would get nothing in our boxes!  Boy did we hurry into that room.  We would make it just in time and we could hear his heavy stomping around up on the roof! Then we heard him….. Ho! Ho! Ho!  Gosh, it was certainly hard to stay in that room, but we had been eyeing those presents far too long to take a chance on losing them now! I can still feel the excitement we had while we were waiting.  Waiting and wondering what was beyond that door! We could hear him again stomping on the roof and we were told to come out.

There were so many new presents under the tree and the stockings were now filled.  The room was like an entirely different place, so sparkling and magical looking!  The cookies we left him were gone except for a few straggling crumbs on the plate.  The first thing we did was to head for the present that we had been wondering about and shaking the most.  Amazingly, that present no longer rattled!  Santa really did fill our presents!  Mom and Dad must have some sort of deal with Santa because we always seemed to get just what we wanted. How exciting Christmas was! My mother loved music.  We always had the music playing and we were always dancing.  Near the end of the night Mom would have us sing Christmas songs.  We always sang the joyful songs and we never knew all of the words and we did not sound the best.   We would finish and Mom would say, “one more”.  We knew we had to sing Silent Night.  We were not good singers, well some were but not many of us.  I cannot sing for sure.  However, when our family was together and that song was done, it was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard.  What wonderful memories Mom and Dad left us with.

 

This is a picture of the recipe that was in her cookbook – Granny’s Cookbook.

fudge roll