Monday, December 31, 2012

Auld Lang Syne

Can a blogger let a year end without saying a word?  I don't think so.

It's the last day of 2012.  I know some bloggers are doing a little recap of their year in pictures, but I'm going to use just words today.

I'm glad to see this year end. When I think back over these last twelve months I have to dig deep for the happy pieces. Life is rarely an all or nothing proposition, so of course there have been hours and days and weeks filled with happy moments.  I think back and I remember...a big trip, a graduation, birthdays, reunions...memories made and cherished. These memories and moments bring a smile to my heart, but it's a smile that's not quite whole.  Everything in our world this year has been painted over with a watercolor sadness we could not escape. It's been a year filled with grieving, of knitting our family together when something precious is missing.

There is no way to go but through.

Around or over are always easier.  

I've learned a lot this year.

I've hurt a lot this year.

I've loved a lot this year.

God is so good.  How often do we toss that little phrase out there without really thinking about the height and depth and breadth of what it means?  In this year we're bidding adieu I've thought about it. So many of the verses I learned as a child were made real to me in 2012.

He is near to the broken hearted.  
He is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.
His peace is not like the peace the world gives.
Nothing can separate us from His love.  

Daughter1 and I recently had a conversation about how it will feel when the calendar turns at the stroke of midnight. We know its not a magic cure-all for whatever hard things we faced the day before, but there is something about a new year that brings a renewed sense of hope to a weary heart.

Our hearts are weary.
But they are full of hope.

'Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness.'  Lamentations 3:22-23

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Keeping Christmas

I'm still allowed to recap Christmas, right?  Is anyone else confused about what day of the week it is? Hubs has been off since the 17th and daughters have been coming and going, and I wake up and have to really think about what day it is.  Hmmm...maybe I've had one too many Christmas cookies?  

We spent the Saturday before Christmas in the city.  There is nothing like New York City at Christmastime and everyone should experience the magic at least once in their lifetime.

It was a wee bit chilly, but you can't let a little thing like cold weather in December keep you away.

Please disregard my crazy hair. Being warm was more important, and we were determined to see "the tree"  

And some of the fabulous storefronts too.

Harry Winston does it up right, doesn't he? After we saw the lights and sights we headed to dinner at Bobby Flay's Bar Americain. The girls and I tweeted him as we were seated, but he didn't make it in while we were there. The food was still wonderful and we love dining here.  

When it comes to grilling a steak, my hubs could give Bobby a run for his money. He braved the frigid temps to cook our Christmas Eve entree and the girls and I made a pretty salad, brussel sprouts with pancetta, and sauteed mushrooms to accompany the Bedrock sized Ribeyes. Hubs refers to these as yabbadabbado steaks.  

After supper, but before the Christmas cookies, we attended a beautiful church service. I never tire of voices joined in Silent Night in a candlelit sanctuary the night before Christmas. Falling snow greeted us as we made our way out of church. Christmas Eve bliss.

We came home and the girls and I opened our traditional pjs and then we all settled onto the couch to watch A Christmas Story.  

Christmas morning dawned sunny and white.

Santa came!

But first!! Must get that picture on the stairs~  

Everyone was happy with their gifts and my girls managed to really surprise me with one of theirs. They purchased the domain name for my blog. That means something, but Daughter1 has to explain it to me.  

And set it up for me.  
And then tell me what's different, but it's something.   
I'm going to be a 
I think?  

I surprised hubs with a chainsaw. 
His life is now complete.  

FYI-you're never too old for Disney...

After stockings and breakfast and prezzies we piled into the car and headed to my mom's house in South Jersey. We had Christmas dinner at my brother's house and my sister in law made my favorite ham and pineapple stuffing. There were more presents and chaos and time to enjoy aunts and uncles and cousins my girls don't see nearly often enough.  

We spent the night in South Jersey because my big sis has a birthday the day after Christmas and a fuss must be made. My younger sister and her hubs hosted the birthday dinner at their home in Philadelphia where there was yet another fabulous meal. Christmas is a lot about the eating, right?  January will be about the sugar detox.

p.s-that calendar hasn't turned yet so we are still free to finish off the rest of our cookies.   

My nephew got some fun things for Christmas this year. Here's hub showing him how to work the very official Batwatch.  Hubs will say he was just being a helpful uncle, but we all know he was having a little too much fun flashing that Bat symbol all over everywhere.  

Hey nephew! Here's what happens when you leave your 20-something cousins unattended with your creatures.  ahem.  

Or your Furby is seated near an uncle.

My sister really should have consulted me before she told Santa to get that one. If you have kids the age of mine you'd successfully blocked the whole Furby/Tamagotchi/toys that talk and need 'babysitting' while your real kids are at school kind of thing. They're back and they're smarter and they still don't turn off.  Here's a tip-they need to sleep in a darkened closet deprived of any sensory stimulation.  You're welcome.

Daughter1 had to be at work bright and early Thursday morning so we had to take her to the Amtrak station in Philly after dinner.  Boo.

It was a lovely Christmas. We eke everything from it that we can...the love, the warmth, the sense of wonder. We hold tightly to all that Christmas means, and as it fades from memory the calendar turns and December is within reach once more.

God is good like that.

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."  Charles Dickens

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas Cards

One of my favorite things this time of year is sending and receiving cards.  There are several Christmas card link-ups in the blogosphere so I thought I'd add mine today too. (Visit Kelly's Korner and Kimberly's Korner  to see more).

This year I'm displaying some of the photo cards we've received on my back staircase. These stairs come down into the hallway we enter from the garage so we pass it many times a day.  I'd seen the clothespin ribbon garland on Pinterest and gave it a try (click here for the link).  The poster on Pinterest hung the ribbon horizontally, but I found the large clothespins plus a card made the ribbon droop,  so I hung mine vertically. I have a card holder for the non-photo cards and any that didn't fit on my ribbon, but I love the way this looks.

Back to our card...

It's something of a challenge getting all four of us in the same place at the same time in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It means I really have to plan when it comes to our card. We were all together at Thanksgiving, but we've done the traditional Thanksgiving indoor shot before, and I really wanted an outdoor picture.

Which is why our photo this year is full of contradiction. We took the picture in August and it was a tad warm.  It was hubs idea to add the bows to our plant hanger and outdoor love seat, and my crafty Daughter1 made the cute Christmas bunting.

I like this picture.
Everyone looks happy.

Course if you received this card in real life you'd be able to read our names, but I don't use names on my blog, hence the squiggles.

If you're reading here, please know the wishes are sincere...may you experience real peace and joy this Christmas season and in the new year ahead.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." 
Isaiah 9:6

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas Kindness

In the days and even the months leading up to the election it seemed the dialogue in our country took a turn for the mean.  The divide was (and still is) palpable and people were outspoken and cross. It made me weary.

I decided during the month of December to look for ways to be kind 'on purpose'.  I added a button to my blog for anyone who wanted to do the same and thus, The 12 Days of Christmas Kindness was born.  12 Acts of Kindness in the 25 days leading up to Christmas.

I said at the time that I'd post my thoughts when the challenge was nearing an end and today's the day.  I don't know if anyone has a post they'd like to share but I'll add a link to make it easy if you do.

I would like to think kindness comes naturally to us humans, but here's what I've observed in recent weeks~

People are busy, harried, distracted, tired, hurting, broke, and anxious about a multitude of things. All of that keeps us from being kind when, I think deep inside, we really do want to be. I can't tell you how many times during the month I thought of that verse in Romans where Paul says, "For I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." (Rom. 7:15)

We know when two of us are approaching the door to the post office at almost the same time we should allow that other person to enter first.  Instead we avoid eye contact and quicken our pace because, by golly, we've got stuff to do, and this guy looks like he's not prepared and will ask a million questions and, whyyyy does that clerk move so slowly when the place is jam packed???  We have a little conversation with ourselves in situations such as these, and more often than not, self rears its ugly head...we think  my list, my stuff, my life.

There's a lot I want to take away from this month, but I'll keep it brief and share just three things-

1.  Kindness, like almost everything else we feel, is a choice. We can be kind and patient with the people we encounter throughout the day, or we can let them get under our skin. One thing that really helped me was to think about the other person's story. People have stories that we just can't know in a casual encounter in the supermarket line. There are also people in this world who are nasty for no good reason, but still, I guess that's their story, and probably if we dug deep there would indeed be a reason for why they are the way they are. Regardless,  I have a choice and I decided that my small act of kindness was not going to be dependent on whether or not I thought someone deserved it.  In fact, the people who rile me up, frustrate me, and try my patience are often the very ones in desperate need of a little kindness in their world.

2.  While opportunities spontaneously present themselves in the course of a day, a little planning doesn't hurt either.  At the beginning of the month I thought about some tangible things I could do, and I had a lot of fun doing them. I enjoy baking so I went to town making peppermint popcorn for the clerks in the post office and dry cleaners, home-baked goodies for hubs office and also for the girl who cuts my hair and for hubs barber too, and caramel corn bagged up with a tip for the guys who collect our trash and the lady who delivers our mail.

Besides the edible stuff, I've dropped money in every Salvation Army tin I've come across, wrote two overdue personal notes to folks I wanted to thank for something intangible, and we outrageously over tipped our server one Saturday morning along with a parking valet at a party we attended earlier this month.  We're going in to the city while the girls are home and will take a couple of nice coats we no longer wear to give to someone sitting on the cold New York sidewalk.

I looked for opportunities to be kinder as I went about my day and they were everywhere. For starters, I greeted the people I passed. I made it a point to ask clerks and servers how their day was going, and you know what?  People want to talk and they want someone to listen.  I held doors and packages, let cars out in traffic at difficult intersections, and let the anxious looking businessman, fidgeting in line behind me at the market step in front of me.

Sometimes kindness means letting the little things go. Our supermarket has about six self check out registers all in a row, three down one side and three down the other. They don't have a clearly designated queue but people more or less form one line and go to the first available register. As I stood waiting my turn (next in line) a woman marched right up and went ahead of me. She saw me. She acted like she assumed there were two queues, one for the left side and one for the right side, but she knew better.  So did I, but I let it go.  A small thing I know, but sometimes those small things accumulate during the day and ruin not only our mood, but also our sense of good will with which our day began.

3.  Lastly, I want to be more present when I go about my daily errands and life. One thing I especially noticed is that everyone is on their phone everywhere you go. Nobody is actually completely present in the place they are standing.  The sales clerk is asking for a credit card, but the  customer isn't paying attention so the whole check-out process takes 5x longer than it should. The guy in front of me entering the shop lets the door drop in my face because he's engrossed in conversation with someone miles away. We're not noticing that person who needs a hand or a smile or a dollar because we're all doing something other than the one task we need to accomplish in the place we're in.

I don't want to be that person in 2013.

I'm sharing some of what I did, not to be congratulated, but rather as a way to remember how doing something so very small made me feel.  I want to remember a smile given returned with a smile back.  I want to remember the sight of someone's tense shoulders relaxing at the offer of a helping hand in whatever form that needs to be.  I want to remember the little stories people shared with me, sparked by home made food and treats and the simple question, 'How are you doing today?"

This world is harsh. If there's anything we've been witness to this month it's that people want to be noticed. Acknowledged. Validated. Supported. Encouraged.  In this new year I want to not be so caught up in my own story that I miss yours.

So how about we change the name?
Let's make this The Twelve Months of Christmas Kindness.

"Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness.  Every act creates a ripple with no logical end."  Scott Adams

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas-The Middle Years

I know I left you hanging back in 1996 in last week's Christmas post so I thought today I'd move on to Christmas in the middle years.  More or less.  I have lots of
bad pictures, but I'm trying to limit myself to just one or two per year.  Merry Christmas!

For the entirety of the 'middle years' we lived in Maryland, BUT...we did not spend a single Christmas in Maryland. We have always and forever trekked somewhere else at the holidays, which in all honesty is a teensy bit exhausting. It's also fun and the facts of life happen to be that our families have never been less than several hours away so that's that. Traveling with middles is a little trickier than traveling with toddlers. Middles require a detailed explanation as to how Santa will know where to find them. Sometimes gifts were too large to haul so we had to get creative and explain that Santa knew he'd need to bring that doll house-computer-bigger than a bread box item early.

I suppose there are parents who would call that lying.
We just called it keeping the child in childhood.

1997-The year of University Barbie. 

University Barbie as opposed to lawyer Barbie, nurse Barbie, or teacher Barbie.

I guess she needed to get her degree first-Ha! 

Besides the too much cuteness for words, two things struck me when I came across this picture.  For one-I am definitely a fan of the matching Christmas sleepwear. At what age are sisters too old for matching sleepwear?  Hmmm....

Here's a helpful hint for young parents-open all the packaging on toys before you wrap them. Remove the annoying twist ties and staples, insert any required batteries, and then box the toy back up. Makes for a much more pleasant Christmas morning.  

Back to 1997...the second thing I noticed when I saw this picture is my own sweet grandmother sitting in her chair beside the fireplace. Her 'assigned seat', if you will. Hey, nobody's exempt on Christmas morning, not even the seniors.  

Gigi's place was always beside the fire because she was always always always cold. We'd all have to de-layer and she'd still be shivering in her long johns and wool sweater worn under a warm bathrobe with a blanket across her lap. Grandmothers are always missed, but never more so than at Christmas.  


Hey-matching nighties!
These were from American Girl and they were darling.  They look a little bit sack-like in this photo, but trust me-they were cute.  Plus my girls were peanuts.

Still are.

1999-The Year of the Theatre

Daughter1 was livin' large in December of 1999.  She had a big role in the 5th grade Christmas play-Mrs. Claus. 

That same season she danced in The Ballet Theatre of Annapolis's Production of The Nutcracker.

So exciting to dance with real live honest to goodness professional ballerinas.  
Are male dancers also called ballerinas?  

No they are not.  I just Googled that, something I actually never did in 1999. Pretty sure Googled was not a verb in 1999.  Incidentally, male 'ballerinas' are called danseurs (French for dancer).

You're welcome.  

Do I have any pictures of the professional ballerinas and danseurs?
Non.  Also French.  It means no.

I saw that show at least six times so I should have pictures, but non.
In 1999 it was not uncommon to just soak up the present minute, sans photography.

2000-The Year of the Program

Even numbered years always found us in Tennessee, most years in a cabin in the Smokies. Once the grandchildren got a little older we started trekking down the mountain to church on Christmas Eve, but while there were littles and babies in the house we had our own home grown Christmas Eve service.  The girls would choose carols for all of us to sing together, followed by solos they assigned themselves. ahem.  

fyi- my girls love a's their father's genes.

They'd each take a turn reading a portion of the Christmas story from scripture, and there would be a lot of directing from the peanut gallery, and some giggling too.  I think God looked forward to these programs as much as we did, and I'm quite certain their innocent tender hearts made Him smile. 

The Smoky Mountains in December.  
Ice Ice Baby

2001-The Year of the Game

Daughter2 got a Gameboy for Christmas.
I think she liked it.
The women in my family take their games seriously.

Need more proof?

The level of intensity in this game of Scattergories is a little bit scary.

2002-The Last Maryland Christmas Not in Maryland

Deja vu?
No, but Daughter2 is wearing the sweater Daughter1 was wearing in the picture two Christmases ago. This picture fills my heart to the brim and overflowing.  I look at this and know the future which is today.  

But in 2002 these three girls sat together for Christmas dinner in a cabin in Tennessee and smiled for the camera and played pool upstairs and sang Christmas carols round an old piano.  There was much laughter in the Smoky Mountains that year.

Hello my lovelies-

You're moving to England and you have no idea.  
Neither do we.    

Just keep smiling.
Every little thing.  Is gonna be alright.  

2003-The Christmas Where We Hopped the Pond

We moved to England on the last day of August in 2003.
In October we stood in front of nearby Windsor Castle for a Christmas card shot.  

Who'd a thunk it?

I remember going with another newly transplanted American friend to the B & Q to buy a Christmas tree for our English home. The B & Q is essentially the UK equivalent of Home Depot.  Sorta kinda.

I remember being grateful to the men who packed us up on the Maryland end of our move.  Men who were seriously done with us by the time they got to our full finished basement, but who still had enough patience left to tell me I'd be wanting some of my Christmas decorations on the other side of the pond.

They were so right.
I spy that little preschool Popsicle stick ornament front and center on our tree.
Where we go, it goes.

We made our first trip back to the states that December.  We managed to see both sides of the family because that's just what you do when you're on the same continent even though both sides of the family are many miles and states apart.  You live out of a suitcase and schlep from pillar to post because it's Christmas and you love them.

And because it brings a smile to your children's faces, and because you do not yet know how deeply England is going to embed itself into your heart.  Three months after the move you're all just a little wobbly. 

No worries.
Your definition of home is going to expand.
So is your world.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sleigh Bells Ring, Are Ya Hodgepodgin'

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge, Holiday Edition. Volume 106 for those of you keeping count. This will be the last Hodgepodge of 2012, but do come back in the New Year when the random fun continues (Wednesday, January 2nd).

Just a quick reminder if you've been playing along with my 12 Days of Christmas Kindness I'll have a link up on Friday.  You can link to a post on your own blog sharing what sorts of things you've done, or just your thoughts on kindness in general. The world could certainly use a heaping helping right about now.

Okay, the are my answers~

1.  How will you spend 'the night before Christmas'?

It will be just the four of us at home on Christmas Eve this year. We plan to grill steaks and make a fancy salad and side followed by copious amounts of Christmas cookies for dessert. A little nontraditional for us, but there will be plenty of traditional eats at my brother's house on Christmas Day. 

We'll attend church and come home afterwards to open one gift which is always sleepwear. We'll snuggle up on the couch and hubs will read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas which is a tradition from his childhood. We'll turn off the lights and sit by the tree and feel grateful for family and a baby 'born this day'.  

2.  What is something you are not?

musically gifted, much to my dismay

3.  Fudge-are you a fan?  Your favorite flavor?

I like fudge, but only in teeny tiny bite sized pieces.  One small piece is enough and rocky road is my favorite. My daughter2 would probably rate fudge as one of her favorite foods.  

4. Did you attend any craft/vendor fairs in the month of December?  Do you prefer homemade goodies or the more professional stalls?  Are you giving any homemade gifts this year?

I don't think I've been to any craft fairs this month.  
Is anyone else still trying to figure out where November went?

Actually, we did go to the German Christmas Market our little town hosts every year and crafters and vendors were there. I didn't buy anything though, unless you count bratwurst and gluhwein.  

I always do a lot of baking and give most of that away to friends, hubs co-workers, and businesses we frequent in our community. 

5. What's your favorite type of holiday gathering?

I like big family dinners best, but I also really enjoy smallish dinner parties, say 3-5 couples, in my home or yours. I guess when you get down to it, I pretty much like parties in all shapes and sizes.  

6. We're approaching a new year...what's going to be different in 2013?

I haven't thought a lot about resolutions per se, because I'm still working through my 101 in 1001 list.   Many items on that list fall under the home-heart-life improvement category so if I can tick a few more off I'll be happy.

I also know I'm going to be more intentional about loving and  encouraging the people whose paths cross mine. If there's anything I've taken away from this past year, it's that.  

7. Share a favorite scripture, quote, saying, or song lyric relating to peace.

"Peace I leave with you;  My peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."  John 14:27

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

In the words of Tiny Tim...
God bless us everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Sound of Silence

Note-If you're looking for this week's Hodgepodge Questions go to this post.  Thank you.

Tuesday, December 18th, will be a blogger day of silence in support of Sandy Hook.  

Monies are being raised as well, for an organization called The Newtown Youth and Family Services. Here is the official description of the support service:

"Newtown Youth and Family Services, Inc. is a licensed, non-profit, mental health clinic and youth services bureau dedicated to helping children and families achieve their highest potential. NYFS provides programs, services, activities, counseling, support groups and education throughout the Greater Newtown area.


If you'd like to make a donation, visit THIS PAGE .

For those of you who are bloggers, or if you're on facebook or twitter, you're invited to share this information with your friends and readers.  Please join with so many who will be praying today and in the days ahead, for all those touched by this horrific event. Thank you.

Questions for the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Volume 106

I'm posting this week's Hodgepodge Questions a little bit early as I intend to honor the blog day of silence on Tuesday.  You'll find details here if you'd like to participate.

I will have the Hodgepodge linky up as always on Wednesday (Dec 19) so hop back over here then to add your post.  This will be the last Hodgepodge in 2012 as I'm taking next week (Dec 26th) off to spend time with my family.  The Hodgepodge will be back on January 2, 2013 and I look forward to a brand new year of random fun.

Here are this week's questions-

1. How will you spend 'the night before Christmas'?

2.  What is one thing you are not?

3.  Fudge-are you a fan?  Your favorite flavor?

4. Did you attend any craft/vendor fairs in the month of December?  Do you prefer homemade goodies or the more professional stalls? Are you giving any homemade gifts this year?

5. What's your favorite type of holiday gathering?

6.  We're approaching a new year...what's going to be different in 2013?

7. Share a favorite scripture, quote, saying, or song lyric relating to peace.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Where is Christmas

I've spent the afternoon wrapping gifts. Gifts for my daughters to go under the tree. Every little Christmas related task makes me think about families grieving something precious that's been lost.  I know there has never been a shortage of suffering the world over, but the universe felt especially dark this weekend.

"...He said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."  John 8:12

We stayed in Friday night and watched our favorite holiday flick, White Christmas.  I'd been watching news off and on all afternoon, but I know my limits and I was done. Saturday hubs accompanied me to the grocery store.  We decided we didn't want to sit around the house, but couldn't really face the mall for that last bit of shopping either. Instead we unloaded groceries and went for a walk in the woods.  The air was crisp and the sun was shining.  Still our hearts were heavy.

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7 

I'm a mother. I taught kindergarten. I have a daughter who is a brand new teacher. My heart aches and I struggle to understand a world gone mad.  We seem to have lost our moral compass and what's sadder is we don't seem to be looking to get it back.  

"Peace I leave with you;  My peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to  you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let them be afraid."  John 14:27

I'm not going to comment on the gun debate, except to say I'm much more interested in seeing the issues surrounding mental health addressed. While we're at it, let's also talk about the influence of media, non-stop gaming, and the incredible violence in entertainment 'programming' that our tweens and adolescents are engaged in and exposed to in mega doses. We cannot possibly be so naive as a nation to think what goes in to an impressionable (and sometimes disturbed) young person's head is not going to come out in anti social ways at some point. We're living in a culture where people, particularly young people, seek fame instead of meaning.  Something is very wrong and it goes far beyond access to weapons.

"...In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

I have a lot of words and feelings churning around in my head and heart today.  I thought about what I wanted to say on my blog...what do I want to remember about this year 2012, a year that has been filled with almost unbearable heartbreak for our family personally, but also for our nation and the world.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

I grew up in a church called Emmanuel.  We hear that name for Jesus used especially at this time of year-it means God with us.  

And He is.  

In the depths of our despair, in the tiredness of life, in our anger and confusion and in our every sadness He is there.  

And where He is grace abounds...for me that's Christmas.   
Grace for the extremely flawed and oh so fragile human race. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas-The Early Years

In reading blogs this time of year I find myself thinking back to Christmases when our girls were little. I didn't blog then (hey, there was no Internet people), but I did take a lot of bad pictures that I stuck in non-photo safe albums which would need to be 'unstuck' and scanned sometime in the 21st century.

FYI- scanning was done strictly with your eyes back in 1988.

I use my blog as a journal of sorts so I thought it would be fun to post some of those Christmas memories here.  I will resist overwhelming you with photos.

Well, I'll try.

1988~There's a Baby in the House, and oh my stars what a sweet thing this tiny little girl was.

That's Daughter1 on the right, six months old and giggling as only a baby can, and that's my niece, who is one year older on the left.  I feel the need to point out this is typical of our photos from the 'early years'.  I've lopped off my sister's head and the tippy top of my niece's too, and I've made no attempts to clear the floor.  What can I say-I was a new momma.  I do remember hubs was out in front of the bench making his girl laugh.  He was also trying to make our niece laugh, but she was none too sure about this brand new creature suddenly sharing her spotlight at Mema and Poppie's house.

1989~Rock, Rock

Daughter1 got this little wooden rocking chair for Christmas that year and it was her happy place. When I look at this picture I remember the precious curls at the nape of her neck and pjs with row upon row of ruffles across the bum. Blurry, crooked, sloppy...I'm still glad I have pictures.  Without a photo I might have forgotten the ruffles and the curls.  


I don't know why, but that is always the word that pops into my head when I think of Daughter2's arrival into our family.  She debuted that September and Daughter1 took an instant liking to her.

Daughter2 liked to eat, laugh, charm us with her enormous baby blues, and not sleep.

Every young family should have a picture like this one. We're at my moms, sleeping on a pull out couch. Both girls had port-a-cribs but one does what one must to catch forty winks on Christmas Eve. Hi hubs!

I know they're in their 20s now, but I'm really tempted to put my girls in matching red pjs this Christmas.

Back in 1990 we were living in another little NJ tiny town and that year hubs took his girl, diaper bag and all, into NYC to see The Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.  Afterwards they went up to The Rainbow Room for a coke. Hubs wore a suit and Daughter1 wore my favorite Christmas dress ever.  They went by limo which made it all the more special and Daughter1 called me from the phone in the car. I know she was only 2 1/2, but trust me when I say my girls were born talking. You have to remember that in 1990 people weren't making phone calls from their cars because the boom didn't occur until the 90's were underway. In December of 1990 a car phone was still a little bit thrilling. We've come a long way in a quick twenty years, haven't we?

1991~ I can hardly stand the cuteness.  

When we have Christmas at my mom's house that chair you see in the background is my assigned seat. Y'all thought I was kidding, didn't you?  And it wouldn't be my photo without something random in the background. 

Hubs always gets a bottle of real maple syrup in his stocking and maybe it was wrapped in the Stride Rite shoe box?  Or maybe I'd just dressed this little miss in a new pair of shoes?

We'll never know.

1992~The Year of the Coat

Here's another example of my woeful photography from the early years. My niece has on a cute hat, but you'll have to use your imagination as to what the top of it's like.

My girls always had beautiful dresses at Christmastime, courtesy of my mother. She loved to buy gorgeous dresses and coats for her three granddaughters and they loved wearing them. She didn't buy three every year...we were able to pass them down from cousin to cousin to sister.

Just gonna say here that my girls still have a bit of a thang for pretty coats.

1993~The Christmas Card

This photo was our Christmas card in 1993 and it makes me happy. Do you see the little Christmas tree ornament in the middle right of the picture. Little girl hands painted those popsicle sticks in preschool and glued them together, wrapped it with love, and then gave it to her parents the Christmas before.

It still hangs on our tree.

Is there anything sweeter than little girl giggles?  
Or sisters in matching dresses and bows?  

I think not.  

1994~ The Big Apple

We decided this year to take both girls into the city to the Christmas Spectacular. We stayed in a hotel in Times Square which has a glass elevator in the lobby. That might have been their favorite part of the whole weekend...they loved riding that elevator.  

Daughter2 cracked us up every time we left the building by asking if we were going to 'catch a cab'?  It sounds funny coming from a 2-year old.  To this day we all pronounce the word luggage like she did that weekend, lu-GIGE, emphasis on the gige. You may not get it, but I know my girls and hubs are reading this and saying it exactly the way she did at age 2.  

1995-The real are my lovelies looking like their sweet precious selves, holding hands in matching black velveteen at Christmastime, 1995.  

And here's me and the hubs-

Santa must have worked extra hard in 1995.  
Everything about this picture screams Christmas morning.  
I spy with my little eye...

...too much to name! I don't remember the room looking this way when the unwrapping was done, but maybe I blocked it?  I see tangerines from the bottom of a stocking, an American Girl doll napping, cold coffee in Christmas mugs, and of course there's that random bottle of maple syrup.  1995.  It was a very good year.  

1996~Another Tender Tennessee Christmas 

With very few exceptions we've spent every other Christmas in Tennessee. In the early years we rented a big house in the Smokies and all piled in. In more recent years we spread out into two houses. Everyone has a stocking covered in sequins. Some more than others, which never goes unmentioned. teehee.  

Christmas in the Smoky Mountains would not be complete without an afternoon in Cades Cove. Its tradition to drive the loop, count the deer, and sometimes see how close you can get before they run.  

Pretty close.

We should be trekking to Tennessee this Christmas, but guess what?  Little girls eventually do grow up and live in far away cities and have pesky jobs where their employer expects them to actually come to work the week before and after Christmas. 

Truthfully the job isn't pesky, it's a huge blessing that just happens to put a bit of a damper on Christmas travel. Logistics are impossibly complicated so we'll be celebrating in NJ this year instead, where Daughter1 has easy access to the train and can eke out as much time as possible at home with us.  

Where little girls belong at Christmas.