Christmas Memories

Christmas has always been about family.

Christmas has always been a special time of year. I have a lot of wonderful memories.

The Christmas tree is always the focal point of our holiday decorations. Decorating the tree is a cherished activity. My ornaments remind me of those who gave them to me. Many of the ornaments were crafted by family members, my daughters, or the moms of my students. As I hang the ornaments on the tree, I can relive many memories.

I remember a variety of trees as a child. My family had real trees shedding needles everywhere. However, there were times when fake trees were helpful because with my dad in the military, we sometimes had to wait for him to get home before we had our Christmas celebration. We had the iconic aluminum tree with the color changing light wheel. I still remember the crinkling sound when sliding each silver branch into its protective sleeve each year after Christmas. We also had realistic looking fake trees. All were decorated with very special ornaments, and all had a nativity scene placed underneath. The nativity scene was purchased by my parents for their first Christmas together. When we lived in Germany we visited the Nurnberg Christmas Market, and my parents bought an angel for the top of the tree. The angel adorned the tree every year after that to remind us of the angel’s message to the shepherds–tidings of great joy.

The presents were always exciting. I was so curious to find out what was in each package. The anticipation was thrilling. One year, I accidentally found out the presents I was getting. I was happy with the presents, but knowing what I was getting killed the thrill of anticipation. I also remember the year when I asked my parents for a play vanity set. I had seen it advertised on TV and really wanted it. My parents, instead, bought me a whole bedroom set of furniture which included a vanity. They hid it in an extra bedroom that I thought was full of boxes. However, my younger brother was at home when the furniture was delivered. He told me what I was getting and even took me to the room and opened the door a crack so I could peek.  When I got older, I found it much more fun to give gifts than to receive them. I especially got excited about gifts when I found something really special for someone. I loved to make gifts, also.

Making candy and cookies became family traditions. My dad’s contribution to Christmas was to make peanut brittle. I can still picture him standing at the stove stirring the brittle. He knew just how to make it turn out perfectly. We also made candy balls dipped in chocolate, and fudge. I loved to make pressed cookies and decorate them with sprinkles. My daughters and I would make sugar cookies every year. My daughters loved to decorate. My kitchen may have been small, but there was always room to make cookies. Now I love to bake and decorate gingerbread houses with my grandchildren. I love the smell of cinnamon and cloves.

What would Christmas be without music? I loved the Christmas programs in which my children and grandchildren have participated. I love to have Christmas music playing while working in the kitchen, around the house, or riding in the car.

When I got married and had a family of my own, we began celebrating at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. Then we would go either to my mother’s parents’ house on Christmas Day or my in-laws’ house. My grandmother and mother-in-law always fixed turkey and/or ham for Christmas dinner. So my husband and I started making an oven baked brisket for Christmas Eve dinner. That tradition still continues today, and every year the house smells like brisket and onions.

Something I always liked to do as a teenager was to bundle up next to the fire and watch “White Christmas” on Christmas Eve. Sometimes the movie would come on late, and I would be the only one awake to watch it. I still remember my mother yelling at me to turn the volume down. Soon the volume would be barely above a whisper.

Santa was always the magical part of Christmas for me even after I was grown. There is something magical about going to sleep on Christmas Eve and then Santa would have been there by the time we got up on Christmas Day. One of my favorite Christmas memories was the time when my husband and I got up on Christmas morning and found our younger daughter asleep on the living room floor. I still smile when I remember the kids jumping up and down when they got something they were really wanting.

Christmas has always been about family. Spending time with my family is better than any gift that can be wrapped and placed under the tree. However, I have received some special gifts. My younger daughter and her husband one year made a Texas with a heart in the middle with nails and thread. I’m sure it took a lot of time to hammer all those tiny nails and wrap the thread just right. My older daughter made me a beautiful quilt for the master bed. One year I got a book made with scanned art work by my older two grandchildren. My daughters have told me that it’s difficult to buy something for me. Little do they know, I cherish the time we have together.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. My the holiday bring you peace, love, and joy.

Getting Older

Getting older is not for the weak.

I have decided that getting older is not for the weak or fainthearted. It seems that each year I see a few more new wrinkles and experience a few more aches and pains.

I went for an eye exam a few days ago. The eye doctor told me that I’m getting cataracts, but they aren’t “ripe,” or ready to remove. The idea of having surgery on my eyes scares me to death. I don’t even like to put eye drops in my eyes. They will have to sedate me when it comes to cataract surgery.

I have also noticed the last few years my increasing use of the “shuffle.” When I first get up in the morning or when I have ridden a while in the car (anything over half an hour), I shuffle until I can get rid of my stiffness. I used to laugh at Tim Conway when he would imitate an elderly person by shuffling his feet. I guess the last laugh is on me.

Osteoporosis runs in my family, so I’m trying to not add that to my list. Osteoarthritis is also stalking me. And when did my skin start looking so crepey? The Poise commercial with Brooke Burke-Charvet would make me laugh except it wouldn’t be a little leak, more like a gush, and believe me, that is no laughing matter. For me to go see a comedian, like Jeanne Robertson, takes preparation–if you know what I mean!

I’m also seeing doctors more often than when I was younger. I now have an ophthalmologist, dentist, gynecologist, surgeon, oncologist, and physical therapist in addition to my primary care doctor. Hopefully the physical therapist is only for a few weeks. No wonder you need to retire when you reach a certain age. You have to spend your time going to doctors.

I have also found that my brain is aging, too. It is much harder for me to remember things than it used to be. I will get in the car and start driving. Then I panic for a few minutes when I can’t remember where I’m going. So I have to think hard about where I am going and how I’m going to get there.  If an appointment is not in my calendar on my phone, then it doesn’t exist. I figure I’m doing pretty well, though. I can still remember the names of my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren. I can also remember the names of their pets.

Getting older also has some bright spots, too. You are much too wise to fret over the insignificant stuff, and most stuff in life is hardly worth noticing much less stewing over. You don’t worry about what people think because you finally realize that they are not really thinking about you as much as they are thinking about themselves. You learn that friends and family are more important than anything else. People can lose their homes and everything in it, but as long as they have their family and friends, the rest is just “stuff.”

So all you young whipper-snappers out there should never laugh about old people. Don’t forget that your day will come.

Being a Writer

Through writing I can create my own adventure or fantasy, or share information.

I have always been a writer. Ever since I learned to hold a pencil and form words, I have loved using words to express myself. I have always loved to read books, also. There are many reasons why writing is so helpful to me. Have you ever thought about a conversation you had and wish you had said this or said that? That is me. When I write, I can keep looking over what I’m saying and edit it to make sure it says exactly what I want to say. I can also make sure I don’t leave anything out.

Through the pages of a book, I can visit places I have never been, experience history, or become a part of someone’s adventure. Through writing I can create my own adventure or fantasy, or share information.

Writing is a solitary journey. I don’t mind being alone. In fact, I enjoy the opportunity to just let my mind soar and explore. I love to daydream. You may not think I’m accomplishing very much, but in reality my mind is creating a story or reviewing knowledge.