The “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” Hodgepodge…

My house is in total disarray, with boxes of decorations scattered all around, but, I’m sitting in my chair participating in The Wednesday Hodgepodge, like I have nothing else to do.  “First things first”, I always say.  Another thing I always say is “Thank you” to our Hodgepodge hostess, Joyce, because I always look forward to our Wednesday Hodgepodge!

Here are today’s questions:

1. Did you watch The Charlie Brown Christmas special Monday night? Who’s your favorite Peanuts character and why?

No, I didn’t watch The Charlie Brown Christmas special on Monday night because I was playing Christmas music while decorating the kitchen tree– a tree I had much trouble with.  I decorated it, un-decorated it, then discovered it had a broken limb, and had to start all over with a brand new tree, but, I digress…

I’m not a big fan of Charlie Brown, but my favorite Peanuts character is Snoopy.

“Most psychiatrists agree that sitting in a pumpkin patch is excellent therapy for a troubled mind.”~Linus

Would you agree?  No, I can’t say that I agree with that one.  Sometimes my mind gets “troubled”, like it is this week, but I don’t think sitting in a pumpkin patch would help 🙂

2. Describe a sound from your childhood. What does this sound bring to mind?

The tinkling sound of music playing, sort of like that of a music box, reminds me of the ice cream truck that occasionally traveled through our neighborhood during the summer months when I was a child.  A neighborhood visit from the ice cream truck was a special treat!

3. You’ve won a trip to a winter wonderland…would that excite you? Which one of the following would you most want to experience (or which one would you dislike the least)-see the Aurora Borealis in Norway, stay in Sweden’s Ice Hotel, go dogsledding in Lapland Finland, take a winter wildlife safari in Yellowstone or celebrate Winter Carnival in Quebec?

Well, I’m from the south, so I’m not sure how excited I’d be to win a trip to a winter wonderland.  I probably freeze to death since I’m not really used to temperatures below 40 degrees!

Of the things listed, I think the Winter Carnival in Quebec sounds like the most fun, to me, while staying in the Ice Hotel sounds like a nightmare. (I shivered while looking at the pictures!)

4. Who or what keeps you humble?

The Bible teaches humility, so God keeps me humble.

5. What part of preparing for Christmas do you like the most? Explain.

I love decorating the house for Christmas.  I have many storage containers of decorations that I’ve collected over the years, and I love sifting through all of it each year while trying to decide what to use.  Many of my decorations (animated dolls, villages, cookie jars, etc.) were gifts, and each one has a special memory attached.  For instance, this week, I set out my “nutcracker” cookie jar on a shelf, and thought of our daughter’s old boyfriend, Richard, who gave it to me.  I fondly refer to the cookie jar as “Richard” 🙂

6. Gingerbread-yay or nay? Is making a gingerbread house part of your family holiday tradition?

Yes, I do like gingerbread, but I prefer the “cake-like” gingerbread, with whipped topping, over cookies.  Our family has decorated one or two gingerbread houses, over the years, but it’s never been a family tradition at our house.  I think our daughter-in-law, Christina, decorates gingerbread every year with her boys, though.

7. What’s one thing you want to start, do, or complete before the calendar rolls into a new year?

I’d like to get our mailbox moved!  We’ve been trying to get approval [from the post office] to do this for several months.  You may recall, a while back, when a truck lost control and destroyed all three of our family’s mailboxes which are located on the main highway, 1/4 mile from our house.  Well, all of our paperwork is now in order, our little dirt road has been re-deeded to the county (because they lost the original deed), and the it has been named since it’s now a public road.  We even have an official road sign at the end of it, AND a new address, but the post office is still dragging its feet!  Will we ever get our mailboxes moved???

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Random:

Our daughter had surgery to remove her skin cancer from her nose, followed by plastic surgery  yesterday.  She was actually finished with both surgeries by lunch.  She said the Moh’s surgery wasn’t too bad, but the plastic surgery was a bit rough.  Her nose is very swollen and sore, and she has a bit of a black eye, but she survived and has the ordeal behind her.  Praise the Lord!

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Jo Jo (gray) and Baby (white), playing together

In other news, we lost another beloved member of our “cat family”, yesterday.  “Jo Jo”, who was born feral [at Ed’s mom’s house] a couple of years ago, but later followed Ed home and became our pet, has died. We have no idea why, but “Jo Jo” suddenly became ill and died, with very little warning.

We enjoyed having “Jo Jo” as a member of our family, and watching  him grow up.  “Jo Jo” had established himself as “quite a tom cat”, and was an awesome mouse catcher. “Jo Jo”  quickly became quite attached to our youngest cat, “Baby”, when we got her as a kitten, and could often be seen playing with and grooming her.  R.I.P. “Jo Jo”, we’ll miss you.

 

Published in: on December 2, 2015 at 8:49 am  Comments (7)  
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Memory Monday ~ More Christmas Memories…

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday

Ed and I just celebrated our forty-second Christmas as husband and wife.  On Christmas Day, we both agreed, we feel that we’ve never had a truly ‘bad’ Christmas during all those years.  What a blessing!  Today, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite Christmas memories from the past forty-two years, and linking them up over at Retired-not-Tired.  After all, it’s Memory Monday!  I’ll be back, later in the week, with some highlights of the Christmas of 2014, but for now, let’s step back in time–way back to the 70’s!

Of course, spending mine and Ed’s first Christmas as Mr. & Mrs. was awesome, but celebrating the first Christmas with our new baby daughter was even better!  I bought enough toys for ten children, even though our daughter, Brandy, wasn’t even quite three months old on her first Christmas!  I guess you can safely say that I spoiled her.

Then there was the following Christmas, when I ended up putting up three different trees, over a four-week period–all in the same room!  We put up our first live tree, then discovered–the hard way–that  a Buck Stove (wood burning heater) can quickly kill a live Christmas tree!  By the time we needed that third, and final tree, all of the pretty trees had already been cut.  Our tree cutting experience reminds me of a scene out of the movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  The tree we ended up with was bigger than our car, and would barely fit through the door of our house!

The year our daughter woke up and walked into the living room, while we were busy assembling ‘Santa’s Gifts’, was another memorable time.  I almost had a heart attack, right then and there!  Fortunately, Brandy was still very young, and was half asleep, too, so she didn’t realize what was happening.  Crisis averted, when I quickly herded her back to bed!

Another memorable Christmas involved a Barbie Dream House with about a million tiny pieces, each requiring a tiny sticker to be applied to each tiny piece.  That “Dream House” ended up being one of Ed’s biggest nightmares!  He stayed up almost all night Christmas Eve, working on it.  That was also the Christmas that I was pregnant with our oldest son, and the Christmas my parents decided to spend the night with us, so they could watch our daughter find her gifts from Santa.  There was a lot going on that year!

Then there was that Christmas when the children asked for a trampoline.  It’s always tricky trying to assemble a trampoline, in the dark, late at night!  Enter one ‘tipsy’ brother-in-law, who showed up to help assemble the trampoline, and it’s a recipe for disaster.  Things went pretty good until the ‘tipsy’ brother-in-law decided to try out the finished trampoline, and hit himself in the nose with his knee!  He went home with a bloody nose, and never even got into a fight!  That trampoline provided even more free entertainment, the following day, when my mama decided to jump on it, too!  Fun times.

For many years, our family would spend Christmas Eve with Ed’s family, then come home, put the children to bed, and spend the rest of the night putting toys together and arranging things around the Christmas tree.  As a result, Ed and I got very little sleep on Christmas Eve.  Because of this, we always had a rule that the children couldn’t get up before sunrise, on Christmas Day.  I suspect, sometimes, the children often got out of bed before sunrise to sneak a peek, then crawled back into their beds to wait for daybreak.  My suspicions were confirmed, one Christmas, when I heard My Pal 2, the talking robot, go off in the middle of the night!  The children didn’t know that My Pal 2 was motion activated, so imagine their surprise when the toy suddenly began talking, in the silence of the night!

Other favorite memories include the one and only year it snowed just before Christmas (1989), making travel treacherous, here in the south, but making things so much fun for the kids.  That same Christmas Day, Ed had to drive 55 miles, in the snow, to pick up his brother from the airport–the same brother who banged his nose while jumping on the trampoline!  While Ed was at the airport, he bought me a copy of Time magazine. I’d been searching for that particular copy of Time, with Tom Cruise featured on the cover, but had failed to find it.  I was thrilled when Ed presented me with the magazine, and it was my favorite Christmas gift, that year!

Last, but not least are all of the fun memories our family has had over the years with a huge pair of “Christmas Panties”!  Way back in the 80’s, my late father-in-law found a huge pair of pink ladies underwear in a dumpster, and brought them home to his wife as a joke.  Thus, the saga of the “Christmas Panties” was born!  Since then, every year, the gigantic pair of panties gets passed around to a different family member–either a man or a woman.  The recipient must keep the panties for an entire year, write a note to the next recipient, then pass the panties on, the following year.  Every note written, since the mid-eighties, is still attached to the top of the gift box!  Some of those notes are hilarious!

The years passed too quickly, and all-too-soon, our children grew up and ‘Santa’ no longer came to our house.  Our parents began passing away, one by one.  For many years, Christmas came and went, without the magic of ‘Santa’ in our house. Our house was filled with teenagers and adults.  As you can imagine, I was thrilled when some grandchildren finally began arriving, so we could experience the magic of ‘Santa’, once again!  Throw in the antics of “Buddy”, our granddaughter’s elf on the shelf, and we’re having lots of fun, again, watching new memories being made with our next generation!  The magic of Santa lives on…

A couple of years ago, I compiled a lot of our old Christmas pictures and made a Christmas memory montage.  It’s at the bottom of this post.  The pictures are in chronological order, beginning with mine and Ed’s first Christmases with our families, Christmases with our children, and ending with our oldest two grandchildren, at Christmas.  There’s Brandy with all of her toys on that first Christmas, Ed putting toys together, the trampoline that provided so much entertainment, the Christmas snow, and, yes, even some pictures of those pink Christmas panties!  Oh, how I do love a good Christmas memory!

Published in: on December 29, 2014 at 8:40 am  Comments (5)  
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The Christmas Countdown Hodgepodge…


Eight days and counting!  Are you ready for Christmas?  I’m about as ready as I’m going to get!  Since I’m finished with the shopping and decorating, I can finally relax a little.  There’s no better way to relax than by joining with friends for The Wednesday Hodgepodge!  Thanks, Joyce, for hosting the party 🙂

1. Time magazine has selected The Ebola Fighters as their person of the year for 2014. Do you agree, and if so who would you say is a close second? If you disagree with their choice, who do you think should have been chosen?

I agree.  I think the Ebola Fighters are a good choice.  I admire their compassion and bravery, but there’s no way I would do what they do!  As for a second choice, I simply don’t know.  There are many who do much with very little recognition.

2. This question comes to you courtesy of Susan who blogs over at Stew Mama Says. She knows we have a wedding happening any minute now, and she asks, ‘What’s your favorite-something old? something new? something borrowed? something blue in your home?  Be sure you hop over and say hi to Susan today!
Something old- It’s a tie between the ballerina clock that belonged to my parents, and Buster the cookie jar, that belonged to Ed’s parents. (Buster was a Christmas gift to them from my parents.)
Something new- a [personalized] painting of Santa Claus that’s hanging in the living room.  (Santa has all of our family’s names printed on his list.)
Something borrowed- I can’t think of a thing I have that’s borrowed!
Something blue- perhaps my trusty old blue housecoat?  I wear it every morning while I feed the cats and chickens.
3. Fudge-yay or nay? Your favorite flavor? Do you make it yourself? With nuts or without?
Yes, I do like fudge!  My favorite fudge is chocolate, has nuts in it, and comes from The Hansel and Gretel candy shop in Helen, Georgia.  Yes, I do make fudge, but mine sure doesn’t taste like the fudge that comes from my favorite candy shop!
4. December 17th is Wright Brothers Day, commemorating the first successful flights made by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  How old were you when you made your first flight? Do you like to fly? Have you ever been to Kitty Hawk or other parts of the North Carolina Outer Banks?
I’ve never flown, nor do I plan to.  I’ve never been to North Carolina either, but I wouldn’t mind visiting the Outer Banks.
5. Do the people in your family tend to follow a particular career path, and if so what’s the path?
There doesn’t seem to be a particular career path in our family, although we do have two family members who work in the medical profession, and two who are stay-at-home moms.
6. What is one thing you absolutely, positively must accomplish today?
I’m almost caught up with my Christmas preparations and house cleaning, so there isn’t anything that I have to accomplish today–unless it’s taking a nap!

7. This Christmas I hope everyone in our family is happy and healthy!  Three out of four of our grandchildren have been sick, recently!  Our grandsons had to post-pone their birthday party, last weekend, due to illness.

Random:

On Monday, our oldest grandchild, Madison, had her picture taken with Santa again.  Madison has had her picture taken with Santa every year since she was born, over eight years ago, and, believe me, some of those pictures were quite a challenge to get!

Monday’s ‘Santa’ was awesome!  He was jolly, but in a quiet way, and he had a great beard!  Madison is usually shy, but  she and Santa had quite a conversation going on!  The entire moment was a little bittersweet, knowing that it could possibly be Madison’s last time having her picture taken with Santa.  Our little Madison is growing up…  Where did time go?

Christmas 2009

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and…

Christmas 2014

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Published in: on December 17, 2014 at 8:26 am  Comments (12)  
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A Holiday Hodgepodge…

Ho! Ho! Ho!  ‘Tis the season to join in The Hodgepodge, so let’s get started!  Anyone can join in the festivities by clicking the button at the top of this post, answering the questions, and linking up.  As always, thanks so much to Joyce, for providing the questions and hosting this fun meme.

1. What is one new holiday tradition you’d like to establish, or one you’ve established recently, say in the last year or two?

Almost five years ago, our family started the tradition of taking a ‘Crazy Christmas Hat’ family photo on Christmas Day!  I have a collection of crazy Christmas hats, so we each put one on and set the timer on the camera. This makes for some interesting pictures!

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 Crazy Hat Christmas Photo ~ 2009

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 Crazy Hat Christmas Photo ~ 2013

Note the changes in our family from the first photo until the last one.  We lost Ed’s mom, but gained two grandsons!

2. It’s the second week of December.

Have you sipped a cup of eggnog yet this month? No, and I don’t plan to.

Wrapped a gift? I haven’t wrapped any gifts, yet, but Ed has wrapped two.

Opened a gift? No

Kissed someone under the mistletoe?  Yes, last night!

Lit a candle?  Yes, several of them.

Eaten a Christmas cookie? Yes, some gingerbread men that my daughter and granddaughter made.

Seen Santa in person? Yes, at Wal-mart, last weekend!

Watched a Christmas movie or special? Yes, several of them!

Read scripture relating to the birth of Jesus? No, but I’ve listened to my granddaughter, Madison, recite some of it from memory. Does that count?

3. Do you think it’s better to be an adult or a child at Christmastime? Explain.

I think it’s better to be a child at Christmastime, especially one who still believes in Santa.  There’s nothing else that feels quite as magical as the anticipation of waiting for the arrival of Santa, on Christmas Eve, or as exciting as waking up and finding the gifts Santa left under the tree on Christmas morning!  My husband swears he once heard the pawing of the reindeer’s hoofs, on top of his house, when he was a little boy 🙂

4. It’s often said, ‘Good things come to those who wait’…agree or disagree? Why?

It’s always been my shopping experience if I wait to buy something, it’s usually gone when I return to get it.  This happened to me, again, just yesterday!  So, I disagree!  However, there have also been times when I’ll buy something, only to return to the store and find the item is now on sale…

5. What’s the last sweet thing you baked? Did you keep it, take it to a party/event, or give it away?

The last sweet thing I baked were pies.  I made a pecan pie and a coconut pie, and  I served them to my family at Thanksgiving.

6. This question comes to us courtesy of Jhona who blogs over at The Red House at the End of the Lane. Everyone hop over and say hi to Jhona this week! Here is her question… “I heard an actor talk about how he makes a conscious choice to talk to people in elevators. He chooses to connect, make eye contact, and converse. Do you talk to people/strangers when you’re in an elevator or any other place where you might have to wait together? Why or why not?”

I’ll talk to people if they initiate a conversation, otherwise, I usually don’t say anything other than hello.  I don’t talk a lot with strangers/people because I’m shy.

7. Are you on the naughty or nice list this year? What put you there?

I hope I’m on the nice list because I’ve tried to control my tongue more.  There’s still room for improvement, but I’m working on it.  Sometimes, I tend to say/do things without thinking, but don’t we all?  

My latest flub up was to re-post (and agree with) someone’s blog post link, concerning leggings, on my Facebook page.  Now my DIL’s are self-conscience about wearing leggings around me…  Actually, our son, Brad, being the jokester he is, actually made his wife buy a pair of leggings to wear to our house–just to see what I’d say!  Of course, I didn’t say a word.

If you’re curious, you can read the legging blog post HERE.  It’s somewhat amusing.

Random:

Here’s our granddaughter, Madison, reciting her recent memory verses, which happens to be Christmas scripture.  Way to go, Maddie!

Here’s our youngest grandson, Evan (and his mom), having a picture taken with Santa.  Evan wasn’t impressed!  Don’t ya’ just love watching a small child’s first reaction to Santa? Ha!  This is one of the few non-smiling pics we have of Evan.

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Published in: on December 10, 2014 at 8:10 am  Comments (9)  
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Memory Monday ~ My Christmas Memories

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday

When I saw today’s prompt for Memory Monday, I had a lot of mixed emotions.  For the past forty years, or so, Christmas with my husband, Ed, our children, and now our grandchildren, has been a happy and memorable time, but this wasn’t always the case when I was growing up.

You see, when people have ‘issues’, sometimes the holidays tend to make those issues worse.  You may recall, from my previous posts, that both of my parents had a problem with alcohol.  Often, they chose to drink during the holidays.  Need I say more?  More than a few family Christmases were spoiled by alcohol.

Hard times…

Due to alcoholism, and all of the problems it brings, money was often scarce for my parents during my early years of childhood.  At one point, they were deeply immersed in alcoholism and deeply in debt.  That year, I got a doll/layette set, (that I’m told daddy picked up from the grocery store, at the last-minute) and a little round suitcase (sort of like a hat box with a strap) filled with some Christmas candy and a little necklace.  I didn’t know it, at the time, but some of daddy’s co-workers had taken up donations to buy the little suitcase, candy, and necklace for me.  This would be the first of three “Hard Candy Christmases” for me and my family.  I have a brother, who is almost nine years older than me, but, strangely, I have no recollection of him on this particular Christmas.  We didn’t know it, at the time, but this would be the last Christmas our family would spend together in this house.

The next year, money was incredibly tight, even though mama had taken a job, too.  My parents had moved from Florida to Georgia, after losing their home to foreclosure.  My older brother had gotten married to his high school sweetheart.  My parents and I were living in a small rental home.  That year, I asked Santa for a Tiny Chatty Baby doll.  My brother’s wife (they’d only been married a couple of months) saved her S&H green stamps and got me a doll stroller to go along with my doll, even though I’m sure there were many things she needed for herself.  Unfortunately, that year, mama and daddy went to bed without putting out my Christmas presents, so I woke up, the next morning, to find nothing under the tree.  Sadly, I went back to bed.  A while later, I heard my parents scrambling around in the living room, and when I got up, for the second time, my gifts were beside the tree.  This is how I learned the truth about Santa.

By the next Christmas, my family was still struggling. By then, we had moved to another town, closer to daddy’s job.  Daddy was working at the Georgia State Prison.  The thing I remember most about this time was the fact that we had no car.  We relied on friends and neighbors (and our feet) for transportation.  For Christmas, that year, I got a Barbie doll, two Barbie outfits, and a doll crib, that daddy had asked a prisoner to make for me.  I was ten, and no longer played with baby dolls, but I really loved my Barbie and her new clothes!  In fact, I still have her, as well as the old doll crib.

Better times…

Thankfully, things were much better with my family, by the following Christmas.  I was in the sixth grade, when mama and daddy stopped drinking for several years.  Money was not in such short supply anymore, and we had a nice Christmas that year.    My brother and sister-in-law came from Florida to have Christmas with us, and brought me my first bicycle!  We had lots of gifts and good food to eat.  That particular Christmas is the best Christmas I can remember, as a child.

The next few Christmases were good, with the exception of the year my maternal granddaddy died, just a few days before Christmas.  I was in the ninth grade.  Mama took granddaddy’s passing hard, and barely got out of bed that Christmas Day. Most of our Christmas money had to be spent on new clothes to wear to the funeral, as well.

Somehow, we always managed to have a Christmas tree, in good times and in bad.  Most of the time, daddy would go to the woods and cut down a cedar tree.  Sometimes, we did this as a family, and that was always memorable.  We trimmed our tree with colored lights (the big ones, not the miniature ones), glass ornaments, garland, and, of course, icicles!  By the end of Christmas, those icicles would be all over the house!

When I was sixteen, on the first Christmas after Ed and I became engaged, he was deployed overseas.  For Christmas, Ed sent me a Japanese Geisha doll, along with a large glass case to keep it in. When my gift arrived from Okinawa, Japan, every piece of glass, for the case, was broken, except one!  Ed’s daddy had all of the glass replaced, and even put the case together for me!  Ed’s parents also bought a huge red and white stuffed dog, that I’d been admiring, and gave it to me for Christmas.  My future in-laws helped make Christmas more bearable for me, that year, in the absence of their son.

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Christmas 1970

Good times…

Christmas was good the last two years I lived at home, with my parents, because I landed a job and had my own spending money!  The first year, I worked as a gift wrapper in a small department store.  I had so much fun wrapping all of those gifts for everyone!  By the second Christmas, I’d been promoted to working as a sales person, at the same store.  I was amazed that so many people waited until an hour before closing, on Christmas Eve, to do their shopping!  The store manager actually had to turn people away and lock the door at closing time.

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Our first tree

By Christmas, 1972, I was an eighteen-year-old newlywed.  One of my all-time favorite Christmas memories is still the one of Ed and me shopping at K-mart for our first tree and all of its decorations!  We were so young and in love, and were thrilled to be finally spending our first Christmas together, in two years!  The fact that we were husband and wife made it all the better!  Some of those first tree decorations still hold a place of honor on our Christmas tree, today.  Every year, when I hang those ornaments, I can’t help but marvel at all of the wonderful Christmases they’ve presided over!  Forty-one Christmases and counting…  Oh the stories those ornaments could tell, if only they could speak!

Oh, and by the way, I have one lone Christmas ornament, that belonged to my parents when I was growing up–a tiny red glass pine cone.  Somehow it survived all of the moves, and hung on my parents’ tree for many, many years.  I hang it at the top of my Christmas tree, every year, as a reminder of years gone by.

*I’m linking my memories up with Judy @ Retired-Not-Tired.

Published in: on December 8, 2014 at 11:22 am  Comments (9)  
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200 Hodgepodges And Counting…

They say time flies when you’re having fun, so I must really be enjoying my life!  It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging for almost six years, and that I’ve joined in ‘The Hodgepodge’ for two hundred times!  I haven’t missed an edition yet.

I was one of the original participants.  I actually ‘met’ our hostess, Joyce, while doing a similar meme on another blog.  When that meme ended, I actually emailed Joyce and encouraged her to take up the meme and continue it.  Joyce did even better, she came up with a similar, but improved meme, and thus ‘The Hodgepodge’ was born!  The rest is history.

Joyce does such an amazing job each week, creating informative, and thought-provoking questions!  She’s also a gracious hostess, visiting the participants, and leaving a thoughtful comment for each one.  I say it every week, and I’ll say it again, “Thanks for all you do, Joyce.”  The Hodgepodge is so great because of your efforts.

I’m thankful for the old (and new) friends I’ve ‘met’ while participating in ‘The Hodgepodge’.  I look forward to reading your answers each week, and I follow many of you on a regular basis.  Many of you do the same for me.  In the words of an old song, Thank you for being a friend.  I look forward to our continued friendship in the days ahead!

All that being said, let’s get to today’s questions, along with my answers:

1. What is something in your life right now that feels a little ‘hodgepodge’?

My entire house feels, and looks, a LOT like a ‘hodgepodge!  At the moment, I have containers of Christmas decorations sitting in almost every room in the house.  My goal is to have the house decorated, and the boxes put away, by the end of the week.  We’ll see how it goes!

2. What does ‘peace on earth, goodwill to men’ mean to you?

All people, everywhere, should just get along and be nice to each other.  Just think of the problems that would solve!

3. Which edible treat you are most looking forward to sampling this December?

I always look forward to making Christmas candy for the family.  Fudge!  Buckeyes!  Peanut Brittle!  Divinity!   Be still my beating heart–candy is not on my list of acceptable foods to eat, but I’ll have to try a sample or two–and pay the price for it, later 😦

4. It’s that most wonderful time of the year…do you agree, and if so why is it so wonderful? If not, what would you say is the most wonderful time of the year?

Yes, I agree it’s the most wonderful time of the year, because it’s the time of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, most people seem to forget that Jesus is the reason for the season, myself included, at times.

I love all of the Christmas decorations, Christmas lights, Christmas music, Christmas movies, Christmas goodies, Christmas presents…  Well, I think you get the idea.

5. What was the last word you looked up in a dictionary (actual or online) and why?

I can’t recall a particular word, but I’m sure it had something to do with ‘The Hodgepodge’.  This meme often requires doing a little research!  (Keep us on our toes, Joyce!)  

6. Besides a Christmas tree, what is your favorite thing to decorate this time of year?

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Christmas 2012 – shelves filled with curios (and the village) in the background, along with our youngest son, Brad

I always look forward to unpacking all of my Christmas curios and decorating the shelves in our living room.  I’m also excited about being able to display my gingerbread village on top of Ed’s mom’s buffet, which is located in our pool room.  It’s the first time I’ve had a place to properly display the village, since we moved into this house.

7. Share one thing you’ve learned (about yourself, people, or anything at all) in the Wednesday Hodgepodge, or through blogging in general.

First of all, let me say that I’ve learned A LOT since I first started blogging!  It’s amazing how much you learn by reading the blogs of other people. We’re all different in many ways, but, yet, we’re the same.

The first thing that comes to mind, however, is learning how the weather is quite different in different parts of the USA. For instance, I’ve been wearing shorts and running the A/C while decorating for Christmas, while our hostess, Joyce (who lives just a few states up) had eight inches of snow on Thanksgiving!

The other striking thing I’ve learned is how certain foods are native to certain parts of the country.  Boiled peanuts anyone?  How about some grits?

Random:

Thanksgiving 2014 has come and gone in a blur. It was a good day, with all of the family present, except our daughter-in-law, Jennifer, who had to work.

I haven’t had time to write a proper post about the day, but here are a few things about Thanksgiving 2014 that stick out in my mind:

  • Grandson, Evan, came in wearing a shirt that read “I’m stuffed”.  How appropriate for Thanksgiving!
  • I didn’t take a single picture!  I have nothing left from the day except memories.  Our daughter-in-law, Christina, did take a couple of pics of the grandchildren, thank goodness!
  • I cooked part of the Thanksgiving Day meal, on Wednesday, which made preparation a lot easier on Thursday.  I will continue that tradition from now on!
  • One of the sweetest moments of Thanksgiving was over-hearing our two oldest grandsons, who are almost 6 and 3, sing the hymn When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder.  Unfortunately, they stopped when they realized I was listening.
  • I chuckled when grandson, Caden, got up from the table to replace his “girly fork”(his words, not mine) with a different kind of fork!  (We were using Ed’s mom’s fancy silverware.)
  • We began a new family tradition of having a brief devotion, then going around the table and letting each person tell what they’re most thankful for, before we eat.  This was our second year of this tradition, and it always produces some tears, as well as a little laughter!  Such precious moments.  I wish we’d started this tradition much sooner!
Published in: on December 3, 2014 at 8:31 am  Comments (12)  
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T’was The Last Monday Before Christmas…

T’was the last Monday before Christmas, when all through the house…came sweet aromas, originating from my kitchen!  That’s right, today I’ll be in the kitchen making some candy and cookies!  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?!  Oh, if only I could eat what I’m going to be making…  Sigh.

First things first though.  It’s Monday, and before I put on my holiday apron and get started, I’ve gotta’ participate in “The Monday Quiz” over at Acting Balanced.   However, this will be my last blog post until sometime after Christmas.  By the way, this is my 1200th post!!!

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Here are today’s questions:

1. What is left on your holiday to do list?

The last thing left on my holiday ‘to do list’ is to make some ‘goodies’ for Christmas Eve, and make a couple of desserts for Christmas Day.  I’ll be spending the majority of today and tomorrow in the kitchen!

2. December 24th,along with being Christmas Eve, is National Egg Nog Day – will you partake?  Homemade? Store Bought?

No egg nog of any kind for me!  For some reason, I’ve never felt the need to even try Egg Nog.

3. Do you leave treats for Santa and his Reindeer?

We no longer leave treats for Santa or his reindeer, but there was a time, many years ago, when our children left Christmas cookies or candy for Santa.  I think, once or twice, we may have left a carrot for the reindeer, too.  I even had a special plate, designed just for holding Santa’s cookies!  Those were the days, and they were such fun 🙂

4. Elf on a Shelf, pro or con?

I’m definitely PRO  Elf on a Shelf!  In fact, I’ve given each of our grandchildren an ‘Elf on a Shelf’.  Sadly, two of our ‘grands’ don’t participate in ‘Santa’ or the ‘Elf’.  ( I bought the elf before their parents decided this.)  Now, their elf is simply used as a toy.  However, one of the highlights of my days, from Thanksgiving through Christmas, is hearing , from our granddaughter, Madison, what her elf, “Buddy”, has been up to.  Here’s a recent photo:

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Buddy’s hiding inside of the Rice Krispies box!

Madison will soon be out-growing the ‘Elf on a Shelf’ phase, but I’ve already given our newest grandbaby, Evan, an elf of his own!

I could have had so much fun, if only my own children would’ve had an ‘Elf on a Shelf’ back in the day…

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Weekend Wrap Up:

It was a very warm weekend here in our ‘neck of the woods’.  Temperatures were in the high seventies/low eighties!  The air conditioner has been running for the past two days…and here it is almost Christmas!  After today, our temperatures are supposed to drop significantly–down to the fifties for the high.  There will be no ‘white Christmas’ for us–only rain.

The unseasonably warm temperatures were perfect for our weekend activities.  Like grilling, cutting down trees, and walking around at night!

On Saturday, Tim the tree trimmer came to pay us another visit.  We had to call him to come back and cut our last two remaining pine trees. One had died, the other was on its way out–both victims of wood bores.  Bummer.  It cost us almost one-tenth as much to have just those two trees cut as it did to have 43 of them cut back in the summer!  I guess we should have made a ‘clean sweep’ back then, but hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?

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Tim in the bucket, trimming off the limbs before cutting down the trees

Both Friday and Saturday nights were spent viewing Christmas displays.  On Friday night we rode to a place called TMT Farms to see the most spectacular Christmas display that I’ve ever seen.  I can’t begin to describe everything that we saw!  There were dozens and dozens of inflatables, thousands of lights, and an entire ‘pretend’ western town–all stuck out in the middle of nowhere!  Several of the buildings were open for touring, and we enjoyed seeing the dozens of antiques displayed throughout the town.  It was a bit like stepping back in time…  I’m amazed that one family has done all of this, and they open it up to the public!  They only ask for a simple donation of some canned food or toys, for the ‘needy’.

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A very small portion of TMT Farms

On Saturday night, we began our Christmas journey by visiting a live nativity scene. We especially enjoyed seeing our youngest son and his family portraying Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus.   I could only see the top of baby Evan’s head as we drove by the manger, because the manger was so deep.  Brad said that Evan was content to lay in that manger for about an hour, then decided he’d had enough.

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Brad, Jennifer, and Evan

After visiting the live nativity, we traveled about 30 minutes, to a place called ‘Guido Gardens’, former home of evangelist, Michael Guido.  Mr. Guido was commonly known, on radio and television, as “The Sower”, for many years.

We’ve been visiting Guido Gardens’ “Night of Lights” since 1997.  Reverend [Doctor]  Guido passed away in 2009, and, for me, visiting Guido Gardens, this year, was sad.  I still remember the years we’d visit ‘Guido Gardens’ when Dr. Guido was living.  Since his home was located in the middle of Guido Gardens, he was often out greeting visitors each night.  His presence is missed, but his ministry is alive and well, thanks to family members.

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Ed and granddaughter, Madison, touring ‘Guido Gardens’

Speaking of greeting visitors–this little fellow came by for a visit, on Sunday afternoon!  It had only been a week since we’d seen him, but he had changed so much!

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What a difference a few days can make!  This boy is growing like a weed!  I loved watching Evan and Ed talking with each other, during this visit. Such sweet smiles!

Evan’s gone home now, but he’ll be back on Christmas Eve.  I’m excited, ’cause Santa’s going to visit Evan at our house, this year!  It’s been a whole lot of years since Santa has visited our house.  Ho! Ho! Ho!  Perhaps we should leave out some milk and cookies!

Merry Christmas, y’all.

Published in: on December 23, 2013 at 10:04 am  Comments (7)  
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Memories On Branches (part one)…

I’ve been watching more than my share of Hallmark Christmas movies lately.  I just can’t seem to get enough of them, this year!  I have some old favorites, that I watch every year, but I’ve also been watching some new movies, such as The Christmas Ornament. In this movie, the main character refers to her Christmas ornaments as “memories on branches”, and that’s exactly how I feel about my Christmas ornaments, too!

Each ornament on my tree is special to me, and every ornament has a “memory” attached to it.  It was with a heavy heart, this year, that I had to leave many of my ornaments in their bags.  You see, we bought a new Christmas tree, and it’s smaller than our previous tree.  There’s no longer room for all of my favorites.  As a result, I had to pick and choose my memories on branches…

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“Rudy” is one of my oldest and most “deer” ornaments 🙂  Like me, he’s beginning to get a little ‘rough around the edges’, but this comes with age. Ed and I bought “Rudy”,( along with two other deer) the first Christmas we were married.  Fondly, I still remember the evening Ed and I went shopping for our first tree and all of its ornaments!  What fun we had choosing how to decorate our first Christmas tree!

“Rudy” and his brothers have hung on our trees for forty-one years. That’s a lot of Christmases! This year, I only hung “Rudy”.  Next year, I’ll give one of his brothers a turn.  “Rudy” (or his brothers) will always hold a place of honor, high upon our tree!

If you look closely, you will also notice a little gold ornament, to the right of “Rudy”.  This ornament belongs to our youngest son, Brad, who’s now 28.  The three little circles hanging down from the ‘angel baby’ contain Brad’s birth information, and yes, it says, 10 lbs, 9 oz.!  Ouch.

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Santa is another of my oldest ornaments.  He was purchased, along with Mrs. Claus, the first year Ed and I were married.  I purchased several of these Santas, which I’ve rotated through the years, so Santa doesn’t look quite as ‘rough’ as his friend “Rudy”.  For a while, these little ‘flocked’ ornaments and satin balls were quite popular.  Anybody else remember those days???

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This “Rudolph” technically belongs to our daughter. He was a gift from one of her teachers, when she was in elementary school– 30 years ago! “Rudolph” came bearing a Hershey’s kiss in his mouth, along with a little tag which read, “Squeeze my cheeks and I’ll give you a kiss!” Rudolph was always one of our children’s favorite ornaments when they were little.  They loved squeezing his cheeks to make his mouth pop open!

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This precious little bear is made from dough.  He’s only about 3 inches tall, and the tiny details on him are remarkable.  One Christmas, 23 years ago, a friend and co-worker of mine, made lots of these dough ornaments and sold them for extra Christmas money because she’d recently become a divorced mother of two. I bought this bear, an elf, and a baby Jesus in a manger, and I treasure each one of them.  

I think of Lynda every year when I hang her dough ornaments on the tree. I’m happy to say, Lynda’s now happily remarried, and is a retired teacher.

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I worked as a first grade paraprofessional for over fourteen years, and I love crafts! During the last of those fourteen years, I helped each my students make Christmas ornaments for their tree–not just paper ornaments, but ornaments that would stand the test of time. The elf in the above photo is one of those ornaments, and so is the angel below.

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I always enjoyed doing arts and crafts with our students, especially at Christmas!  These ornaments remind me of those happy times.  However, the Grinch ornament below reminds me of a not-so-happy time.

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Please notice the ’99’ on the bottom of the Grinch’s feet. This stands for the year 1999.

Ed had worked at our local, county hospital ( in Radiology) for twenty years, but due to poor management and tough economic times, the hospital had really been struggling the past few years.  It was just before the Christmas of ’99, when hospital administration announced they weren’t going to be able to make payroll.  Ouch!

Did I mention that our daughter worked at the hospital, too?   Well, she did!  Two members of our family were about to be without a paycheck–at Christmas!  Miracles do happen, and somehow, the hospital was able to borrow enough money to pay its employees at Christmas, and for a few more weeks afterward.

Shortly after Christmas, our daughter was able to find another job. In March of 2000, Ed  took another job, as well. This was a good move, because in April of 2000, the hospital closed its doors.

I’m happy to report, that this hospital has since been reopened, and is now doing well, after a second ‘near closure’.  (Many rural hospitals are struggling, these days, including the one where Ed is currently employed.)  

Every year, I hang the Grinch on our tree, as a reminder of the Christmas of 1999, when ‘the Grinch’ nearly stole our Christmas.

(to be continued…)

Published in: on December 19, 2013 at 8:57 am  Comments (4)  
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Have Yourself A Merry Little Hodgepodge…

I’m knee-deep in Christmas preparations, but that’s no excuse to miss joining ‘The Wednesday Hodgepodge’!  ‘Tis the season to be jolly, right?  So let’s jump right into the questions and answers, shall we?  As always, thanks to our hostess, Joyce, for providing the questions and for hosting ‘The Hodgepodge’.

1. Do you believe in miracles?

Yes, I definitely do believe in miracles!  Our newest  baby grandson, Evan, is a  precious, living miracle!  After a bout with cervical cancer, the odds of conceiving and carrying a baby were slim for Evan’s mom, since she no longer has a cervix, and only has one ovary and fallopian tube–yet, here Evan is!  Also, in spite of the fact that both of his parents turned out to be carriers of Cystic Fibrosis, Evan is perfectly healthy and is not even a carrier of this horrible disease!  Evan’s our ‘double miracle’.  Praise the Lord!

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2. What’s a recent fad you admit to trying?

Sorry, I can’t think of one.  Perhaps I’m getting too old for ‘fads’…

3. Peppermint-are you a fan? If so, what’s your favorite food or beverage containing peppermint?

I’m not really a fan of peppermint, but, occasionally, I’ll eat a piece of peppermint candy or a chocolate covered mint.

4. Break the ice, on thin ice, as cold as ice (emotionally, not literally)…which phrase have you run into most recently? Explain.

I’m going with ‘break the ice’ since I was recently at our grandsons’ birthday party, along with several other people that we only see once every year or two.

5. Have you ever broken or spilled something in someone else’s home? Still friends?

I’ve shared this story before, but this one particular ‘accident’ still stands out in my mind, above all others.  It happened forty-one years ago, when Ed and I were still practically newlyweds.  We were spending the night with his parents at Christmas, and we’d brought our cat, “B.B.” with us.  Early in the morning, “B.B.” decided to climb my mother-in-law’s artificial Christmas tree, and when she did, the tree turned over!  Ornaments went crashing to the floor, and everyone came running to see what had happened.  I was mortified, but Ed’s mom just laughed about the whole thing.  Yes, we were still friends, afterward!

6. ‘Tis the week before Christmas…are you feeling more like Buddy the Elf or the Grinch before his heart grew?

My Christmas Spirit is alive and well, and I’ve been as busy as a bee…  I actually finished wrapping all of the Christmas presents, yesterday, and I’m feeling a bit like Buddy the Elf!

7. Share a favorite quote relating to Christmas.

At first, nothing came to mind, so I ‘Googled’ famous Christmas quotes where I found a quote that perfectly describes how I’m feeling–

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.  ~Burton Hillis

Random:

I can’t believe it’s mid-December and we still have cherry tomatoes growing in our yard!  We cover the plant at night, then uncover it during the day, since our temps have dropped below freezing a few times.  The plant is a ‘volunteer’ and is now twice as big as when this picture was taken back in October!  It’s growing beside the chicken coop, so I suppose it receives plenty of fertilizer 🙂  It’s nice having fresh, home-grown tomatoes for our salad–in December!

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Published in: on December 18, 2013 at 8:26 am  Comments (11)  
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T’was Three Mondays Before Christmas…

T’was three Mondays before Christmas
When all through the house
I’m still not finished decorating…

For now, I’m taking a little ‘time out’, to catch up with a little blogging. I’m beginning with “The Monday Quiz” hosted by Heather and Wayne over at Acting Balanced.

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1. Today is National Christmas Card Day – do you send Christmas Cards?

Yes, I send a few Christmas cards every year, but only to our closest family and friends.  In fact, I should  be addressing them, right now, instead of blogging…

2. What item do you “always” buy when it goes on sale at the Grocery Store?

I buy LOTS of different items EVERY TIME they go on sale–like toilet paper, paper towels, sugar, flour, margarine, catsup, dish detergent, laundry detergent–just to name a few.  I store perishable items in my freezer, and I keep non-perishables in plastic storage totes.   By doing this, I save money, and I hardly ever run out of anything.

3. Certain flavors are associated with Christmas/December – what flavor do you most associate with the holiday season?

I associate the flavor of peppermint with Christmas–as in Candy Canes, even though I really don’t care much for them.  My second choice would have to be Chocolate Covered Cherries.  To me, it’s just not Christmas without a box of Chocolate Covered Cherries.  (Unfortunately, they’re loaded with sugar!)

4. Do you think gift cards are a good idea for Christmas or are they a cop-out?

Personally, I like giving and receiving gift cards.  I don’t think of them as a ‘cop-out’, but rather as an excellent gift choice.

Catching Up:

Since I last blogged,  Ed and I spent a day in the city,  celebrated our son-in-law’s 40th birthday at a party, had our son, Brad, and his family spend the night with us, and finished decorating the main Christmas tree–and all of that took place before the weekend ever began!

I didn’t feel well on Saturday, but Saturday night found Ed and me, along with most of our family, watching an evening Christmas Parade in a neighboring town.  The weather was unusually warm (80 degrees) and we were actually able to wear short sleeves while watching the parade!

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One of my favorite floats

 Unfortunately, about three-fourths of the way through the parade, it began to sprinkle, then it began to pour!   We didn’t stay for the rest of the parade.  Ed and I left the parade, got a bite to eat, then shopped until almost 10:30 in the evening!  Since Ed had his cataracts removed, we’ve turned into a couple of ‘night owls’ 🙂

The weather on Sunday continued to be rainy, but the temperatures cooled down to the mid-sixties.  It was an excellent day to laze around and watch Hallmark Christmas movies, which is exactly what we did!  I think we watched a total of four.  I’m a sucker for a good Christmas movie, and Ed’s a good sport, so he watches, too.

I’m hoping to finish decorating the, fourth and final, Christmas tree today!  After that, I can wrap the Christmas gifts and clean up the last of the clutter that’s scattered about.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get all of this accomplished by the end of the week!  Only then, will I be able to relax and enjoy the rest of the holidays.  I need to get busy, ’cause come Saturday, we’ll be celebrating more birthdays with our two oldest little grandsons.  December sure is a busy month, isn’t it?

Published in: on December 8, 2013 at 11:46 pm  Comments (7)  
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