Thursday’s Thoughts ~ Christmas In February…

Yes, that’s right. I’m going to post about Christmas, even though it’s February! There’s a reason for my madness though.

Dealing with a health issue (candida) for several months made it nearly impossible for me to sit anywhere for extended periods of time–especially in my computer chair! Not being able to sit kept me from being able to work with my photographs, which are located on the desktop computer. Oh, how I’ve missed being able to make video montages and photo books!

The good news is, I’ve been on the “Threelac” program for almost a month, and I’m doing so much better! I’m not completely healed, but I’m a whole lot better than I was. Finally, something seems to be working! I hope, in time, I will eventually be rid of “this curse”, or at least keep it under control!

For now, I am able to sit at the computer again, as long as I don’t stay too long!  I managed to sit there long enough to get a montage made, although it took me a couple of tries.  Let’s hear it for progress!!

Now, back to Christmas. All things considered, we had a good one. Ed and I didn’t participate in as many activities as we usually do, but Christmas came and went, anyway. We seemed to have spent more time in the doctor’s office than anyplace else!

The good thing was, Ed and I still have each other, and we were able to be surrounded by our family. That’s really all that matters. When this family gets together, good times usually follow, and this year was no exception.

I tried to capture the highlights of the season with my camera, and here they are…

Published in: on February 7, 2013 at 9:00 am  Comments (6)  

Thursday’s Thoughts…Christmas Memories

I got the idea for making this video montage while watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  If you’ve ever seen the movie, you’ll remember Clark Griswold sitting in the attic viewing old film strips (and crying).  I love the song, “The Spirit of Christmas”,  which plays during that particular movie scene.  That song inspired this video.

While I was taking  these photos throughout the years, I never realized how much they would mean to me one day.  I treasure each photograph, as well as all of the memories that go along with them.

So many Christmases, so many memories…Christmases at my parents house, with my brother and his family…Christmases with Ed’s family (I sure wish I had a picture of the year my cat turned over their Christmas tree!)…the year our Christmas tree was so large it practically covered up our car…our children all dressed up for church (and hating having their pictures made)…the one Christmas that it actually snowed here…the year the kids got a trampoline (and my mother took a turn jumping, as I watched in horror–no picture of that either!)…and those infamous very large, very old Christmas panties that get passed around in our family year after year!

These days we’re making new Christmas memories as our family continues to decrease in some ways and grow in others…the cycle of life goes on as parents and loved ones pass away, while our children marry and have children of their own…

Permit me to share a few of my favorite Christmas memories of the past thirty-nine years, along with some more recent Christmas memories as well…

May you and your own family make lots of warm and happy holiday memories of your own this season…Merry Christmas, everyone!

Published in: on December 22, 2011 at 9:15 am  Comments (7)  

Thursday Thoughts…Favorite Childhood Christmas Memories

I think it’s time for some Thursday Thoughts, and today I’ve chosen to concentrate on Christmas memories from my childhood.  What else could I be thinking on this time of year?

My favorite early childhood Christmas memory is that of walking out on Christmas morning and seeing my gifts from Santa sitting beside the Christmas tree.  Usually it  was either still dark outside, or barely daylight, and everything always looked so magical when it was lit by those multi colored lights on the tree!  A doll of some kind was always waiting for me beside that tree.  Over the years,  I remember getting a “Tiny Tears” doll, a very large “3-year-old doll” (aka known as “Playpal Patti”), a beauty parlor doll (complete with chair and hair dryer on a stand), and a  “Tiny Chatty Baby” doll that talked when I pulled her string.  I still have most of these dolls.

Another favorite early memory is “The Christmas Song” by Alvin and the Chipmunks.  Whenever I was five or six, the song was really popular.  I remember that we had the record, and I played it over and over.  (If you left the arm of the record player (used to hold a stack of records in place)  pulled back, the record would automatically replay.)   I memorized every word of the song, and sang along with those crazy chipmunks!

A few years later, I remember mama buying Elvis’ Christmas album.  In my mind, I can still hear mama singing along with Elvis.  I always thought Elvis sure could sing some crazy Christmas songs, like “Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me!”

I can remember searching the entire house trying to find my hidden Christmas presents once I stopped believing in Santa, and I never did find them.  After I grew up, I asked mama where she hid them.  She told me she hid them in the large cardboard barrel that we stored our “out of season” clothes in.  (This was in the days before plastic containers.)  I wouldn’t have guessed that hiding place in a million years!

For several years, I remember going to the woods with mama and daddy to find a cedar tree to use for our Christmas tree because we couldn’t afford to buy one.  In those days, cedar trees grew wild everywhere.  Daddy would use his hand saw to cut our tree down.  We’d tie it on top of our car, take it home and put it in a large bucket of wet dirt, which we then wrapped in a white sheet  to make it look like snow around the base of the tree.  No tree stands or tree skirts for us!  Money was scarce in those days.

We’d string some lights, the ones that looked like colored nightlights,  all over the tree–and those lights would actually get very hot after they burned a while!  Next we put on what I always called “the roping”, followed by mama’s pretty shiny glass ornaments.  Last came the icicles.  We usually hung  several strands at the time–or handfuls when we got close to the end!  Those stupid icicles would be all over the house by the time Christmas was over because every time we got close to the Christmas tree, icicles would cling to our clothes!

I don’t remember having a lighted tree top while I was growing up, only a shiny, glass top that fit over the top of the tree.  It looked sort of like this photo, but ours wasn’t nearly this fancy!  Years later, after mama bought an artificial tree, she also bought a lighted tree topper.

Usually, while we were in the woods searching for a Christmas tree, we would also cut  a small piece of a hawthorn bush to use for a candy tree. We would put the thorny bush in a clay pot, then decorate the spikes of the bush with spice drops, and use it for a table centerpiece. All during Christmas, we would pull off the spice drops and eat them.  These days this is what a spice drop tree looks like…and I usually had one like this for my own children while they were growing up.

A fond memory of my adolescent years was helping to put the shiny Christmas foil on the front door of our house. In those days, people decorated their front doors with foil. It was always fun to decide what color foil to use.  Door foil came in colors of gold, silver, red, green, or blue!  It was always a challenge to get the foil on the door straight, then an even bigger challenge to make the tape stick!  After getting the door covered, we had to decide what to put on top of the paper…a wreath, a bow, or a set of bells.  Sometimes we also went around the door with colored lights and garland.

The other day, I saw a house in town with its door all covered in foil.  It brought back so many good memories!  I wonder if door foil will ever become popular again?  Things have a way of cycling around…

me, as a teenager, posing beside our front door

The picture above was taken after I’d just finished decorating the front door–during the Christmas season of 1970!  (It’s one of the few photos I have from Christmas as I was growing up.)  It’s kind of hard to see, but there’s also a wreath on top of the foil.   Now that I’m looking at that door, I can see a lot of wrinkles in that paper.  Ha!  I probably didn’t notice back then!  I had other things on my mind–being fifteen and all…Ah, those were the days!

Thanks for accompanying me on my walk down Christmas Memory Lane!  What are some of your favorite childhood Christmas memories?

Published in: on December 8, 2011 at 9:03 am  Comments (7)  

Flashback Friday…December 17

In addition to Java at Friday Follow, I’m joining Linda for Flashback Friday today. Today’s topic is Christmas presents of the past.  I’ve decided to  write about Christmas with my children while they were growing up, instead of my own Christmases as a child.  Those years hold the most special memories to me–and I can remember them more vividly than my own childhood Christmases.  Precious memories, indeed!

Joy on Christmas morning...

For many years, we celebrated Christmas Eve with my husband’s parents, and we always opened gifts with them on Christmas Eve.  After a busy evening of food and fun at the in-laws house, we would come home, put the children to bed, then get busy preparing for the arrival of Santa.  Most of the time it would be one or two in the morning before we finished getting everything put together, and displayed under the tree.  Finally, we’d fall into bed, exhausted, only to have our little ones wake us up a couple of hours later–to see what Santa had brought!

We always stressed to the children that they were not to get out of bed to see what Santa brought until it was daylight outside!  This rule was made to insure that we didn’t get caught doing Santa’s work!  Once, when our daughter was still pretty young, we looked up from our Santa work to see her standing in the dining room!  Fortunately, she was still half asleep, and I hustled her back to bed before she realized what we were doing.  After that incident, we made the rule about not getting up!

Does she look like a candy theif to you...?

One year, when the children were older–and not so obedient–they got up before daylight.  It so happened that Santa had left them a “My Pal 2” talking robot for Christmas.  I’d just gotten into bed–about 5 a.m.,  when I heard that robot start talking!  When the children touched the robot, he began talking–and he wouldn’t stop!  Busted by a talking robot!  Needless to say, they hightailed it back to bed in a hurry–before they got into trouble!  We still have that robot, and we still laugh about that Christmas morning when they got busted.

We wrapped some of the gifts for the children, but most of their gifts were left unwrapped.  I always put name tags on their gifts, even if they were unwrapped–to make sure they knew what belonged to whom.  I remember disguising my handwriting so the children wouldn’t recognize it, and I always used special wrapping paper on the gifts from Santa.  (My daughter does the same thing with her daughter now.)

Not too long ago, my daughter asked me where I used to keep their gifts hidden until Christmas.  I told her I just kept them in boxes in the “junk room”.  There were so many boxes of junk stored in that room that nobody thought about any Christmas gifts being hidden in there.  I’m famous for my over-flowing junk room…and it came in handy!

One of our Christmas traditions when the children were small, was to take them to the dollar store at the mall, give them a little bit of money, and let them do their own shopping for us and their siblings.  They seemed to enjoy making their own choices, and we got some interesting gifts in those days!  Later, the elementary school began sponsoring Santa’s Secret Shop, and the children would take money to school and do their Christmas shopping there.  I still have a red ceramic cardinal, and a small gold ceramic nativity set that our youngest son, Brad, picked out and bought for me.

We always had stockings, but we never had a fireplace!  We had a free-standing Buckstove in the corner of the living room.  Every year I hung lighted garland around the corner, behind the Buckstove, then hung our stockings under it.  I always enjoyed filling the stockings, and I think the children enjoyed their content–usually candy!  I still have their stockings, I just can’t part with them.

I’m going to end this post with a funny story about my daughter and our Christmas tree.  I’ve used pretend candy for the garland on our Christmas tree for over 30 years.  I have all kinds of candy garland– lifesavers, gumballs,   gumdrops, and fruit slices.  I even have fake popcorn, too!

showing a portion of our tree with candy garland

 The first candy garland I bought was some plastic candy on a string that looked just like real hard candies that had been strung.  The plastic candy had cellophane wrappers on it, exactly like the real thing, and it had large balls that resembled peppermint balls, strung in between the covered candy.  (You can see it near the top of the tree in the photo above. )

Over time, I began to notice some of the wrappers were missing, and I wondered what happened to them.  Years later, my daughter confessed to unwrapping some of the pretend candy–and trying to eat it!  I still have that candy garland, and occasionally I still use it on my tree.  Whenever I use it, I laugh while envisioning my little girl trying to sneak a piece of Christmas candy off the Christmas tree!  I’ll bet she was disappointed!

Thanks for taking time to stop by today, during this busy time of the year. I look forward to your visits, and enjoy your commets more than you’ll ever know!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Published in: on December 17, 2010 at 10:38 am  Comments (7)  

Flashback Friday~Decorating For Christmas, Way Back When…

I’ve spent the entire week decorating my house for Christmas! So I found it very appropriate when I found out that today’s subject was Christmas decorating–only it’s about back in the day when I was growing up!

First of all, in my early childhood days there were no artificial trees–at least, not that I knew of. If a person couldn’t afford to buy a live tree, we went to the woods and cut one down. We bought trees sometimes, but my fondest memories are of the times when we searched for, then cut our own. In those days, cedar trees were pretty common throughout the woods of the prison grounds where my daddy was a guard, and that’s where we often got our Christmas tree.  We’d usually cut our tree down a couple of weeks prior to Christmas, tied it to the top of our car, then bring it home with us.

In those days everyone used colored glass ball ornaments. Most of them were solid and shiny in colors of gold, silver, blue, green, and red. Mama had a few onaments with stripes painted on them, and as I got older, she bought some shiny plastic ornaments in different shapes, which she added to her older glass ornaments. My favorite ornaments from my childhood were tiny glass pine cones in different colors. One of these ornaments, a red one, actually survived all of these years, and it hangs at the top of my tree every year. I still have a couple of the striped ornaments, as well.

my oldest, most special ornament

Decorating those cedar trees was quite challenging because the limbs were always so flimsy. We had to be careful where we hung the ornaments because they tended to pull the limbs down if hung too close to the ends of the limbs. I remember using some type of narrow tin foil garland around the tree, then ending up by putting silver icicles on last. Sometimes we’d get in a hurry and throw the icicles on, instead of hanging them one by one.  The only tree top I can remember was a glass one that didn’t light up.

We used multi-colored indoor/outdoor lights on our tree.  Miniature lights hadn’t been invented yet, so we used the kind that had bulbs the size of night-light bulbs–the 7 watt kind.  Once we bought a blinker that made our lights blink on and off, but I preferred them burning steady.  We had a few strings of the larger outdoor lights, and sometimes we’d put them around the outside house windows, or maybe the door. 

my parents' Christmas tree cir. 1970

I remember always decorating our front door.  Each year we’d choose a roll of door foil and cover the front door.  I looked forward to choosing the color of the paper!  Then we’d hang a wreath or some type of decoration on top of the paper.  It was always a chore trying to get that door foil to stay on the door, and not get torn before Christmas.  Some people had spot lights shinning on their doors, but we didn’t.  If we wanted our door to light up, we put lights around it.

Mama had some electric candles that she used to put in the front windows of the house.  They were sets of three candles, and the bulbs in them were orange.  A lot of people put those in their windows back then. 

I don’t remember any other kinds of decorations from my childhood–no snow globes, gingerbread houses, or ceramic Santas.  It’s funny, because I don’t remember ever having Christmas stockings either, but we always had a fireplace!  My mother actually painted the bricks of our fireplace bright red, and she painted the mortar white!  It looked just like the fireplaces in Christmas storybooks.  Mama must’ve liked the way it looked, because she painted two fireplaces in two different houses that way.  Perhaps it reminded her of Christmas year round–sort of like my “year round tree”.  I found a photograph of one of those fireplaces, and seeing it again brought back so many memories…like when I was young and thin!

me standing by the first red fireplace, cir. 1970

That’s about all of my decorating memories, so I guess that means it’s time to go.  Thanks to Linda for hosting this week’s flashback!  If you’d like to join in the fun, or simply read more Christmas decorating memories, just click Linda’s button at the top of this post!

Published in: on December 3, 2010 at 9:30 am  Comments (8)  

Not Me, Monday…After Christmas Edition


 After you finish reading, don’t forget to leave a comment.  All commenters will be entered for a chance to win a ten dollar Wal-mart gift card.  Drawing will be held on New Year’s Day.

The Christmas of 2009…It was a different kind of Christmas…I was really beginning to feel my age…

Although I am usually finished with my Christmas shopping at least a month before Christmas, this Christmas did not find me wrapping gifts until 1:00 am on Christmas morning!  I would never postpone wrapping my gifts until the last possible minute–not me!

I put my Christmas turkey in the refrigerator to thaw about 3 days prior to Christmas, only to discover on Christmas Eve that the turkey was still somewhat frozen.  I did not have to work to get that turkey thawed on Christmas Eve night!  I would never put a turkey in the refrigerator to thaw and not check it until the last-minute!  Not me!

As of Christmas Eve, I still had not planned what I was cooking on Christmas Day.  I would never wait until the last-minute to plan a large family meal…not me!  Luckily for my family, I had what I needed for the meal and got it all cooked!

Just for fun on Christmas Eve, the family took turns playing the Siamese Gift Wrap Game.  A couple would link their arms and  only use one arm each to wrap a gift together.  We were wrapping boxes of Christmas lights that I had bought for next year.  A box of those wrapped lights did not make it’s way under the tree and get opened for a gift by my husband in the gift exchange!  The look on his face was priceless when he realized that he had received a box of Christmas lights!

My hubby’s gift luck didn’t get any better, as the next time we played the gift swapping game he ended up with a pair of hot pink ladies cozy socks!  It was not Ed’s year for useful gifts!

It did not begin to rain on Christmas Eve and continue to rain through most of Christmas Day.  My son’s girlfriend, Jennifer,  received a neat folding umbrella during our gift swap game on Christmas Eve.  My daughter got the chance to trade gifts with  Jennifer–and stole her umbrella–just before the rain started!  I, on the other hand, got a rain poncho in the gift exchange–and I was the only one who didn’t have to go out in the rain!

After an entire week of cool, chilly weather, the weather did not warm up on Christmas Eve.  I had to run the air conditioner–and a fan–the entire day of Christmas Eve,  that night, and all of Christmas Day!  I do not like warm Christmas weather…It was rather warm in the kitchen baking that ham and turkey!!!

I was so exhausted the day after Christmas, I slept until 12:00 pm.  I stayed up for 3 hours,  then took a 3 hour nap!  I woke up at 6:30 pm, ate supper, watched tv until 10:00 pm, then went back to bed!  I’m not sure that I’ve caught up on my rest yet! 

That does it for my Not Me, Monday.  Christmas has come and gone.   Everyone  has gone back to work, and I am left to deal with all of  the left over ribbons, papers, food and mess…Have a great day, I know I will!

Hubby and me playing Siamese Gift Wrap

Published in: on December 28, 2009 at 12:21 pm  Comments (2)