Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Maynard and Louise Dunn's 79th Anniversary December 30th 2015

Sometime around the age of 10-11, when little girls used to start wanting to know all about the wedding of their parents, I broached the question to my Mom. We were on the way home from Sterling Colorado on a Sunday afternoon. We used to go from Fort Collins to Sterling on Sundays so we could have dinner with Grandma and Grandpa Dunn. I remember that we had just passed the big hill coming in on Highway 14 where you could first see the lights of Fort Collins. We were in the old Buick and I was leaning over the seat from the back, right between my mom and dad. I asked my mom what her wedding dress looked like.

 She didn't hesitate she said, "it was a house dress".  A house dress? "Was it white?" I asked. "Noooo, it was probably blue and white" she said.  "WHY!!" I asked.   "Because we were married by the Justice of the peace." she explained. I just didn't understand.

Then she explained that they had eloped with their friends after Christmas. The four of them took off and drove over the border, to Binkelman, Nebraska, on December 30th 1936 and got married. Well, that was pretty exciting!! I didn't get the dress but I did get a great story about my parents eloping in the "olden days", very romantic indeed!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 19 - Memories of Stockings from Natasha and Ben Smith 2010

My family has always had a lot of trouble keeping track of our stockings. We would always have about a billion different red and white stockings floating around our Christmas stuff. We would take glitter and glue and write our names in cursive on the stockings, but without fail by the following year some of the glitter would come off. By that point a stocking would be missing and we'd have to buy a new stocking for someone. The dog would get an old stocking with somebody's glitter remnants. Every few years we would end up buying and redoing all new stockings because we couldn't stand the slight variations in red coloring, size, or texture. 

The stocking fiasco still continues yearly at my family's house, but I can't stand that sort of uncertainty. I mean, the suspense over whether or not your stocking is MIA is almost too much to handle. Plus, there was a fair amount of stocking hijacking going on. It is amazing how a little squinting and creative peeling of glitter glue can make the name Natasha look like Brittney and vice versa. 

Last year I seized the opportunity to rid myself of the stocking conundrum by buying beautifully embroidered stockings from Pottery Barn. Yes, I spent a little more initially, but the happiness that the matching orderly stockings brings me is priceless. Maybe I'm bland and boring for not making my own or making sure everybody has something different, but I'm alright with boring. Boring is aesthetically pleasing.
My stockings look like they are straight out of a warm and inviting catalog photo...and they are!!! I have the peace of mind that when I have children I will not have to spend forever searching through piles and piles of stockings to find one that only kind of matches. Nope, that won't be me because I can't do kind of matching. It must match exactly (did I mention I have OCD?). When the time comes I will just hop on my computer and go to the Pottery Barn website and fill out my order that will ship to me in 5-10 business days. When the time comes to get another stocking there will be no fight over glitter pen colors, no arguing over the prettier imitation velvet, and no lost stockings. Just a couple taps on the enter button and I will have another perfectly matching stocking. The simplicity of it all kind of makes me giddy.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 24th - Past Christmas eve 2010 with Natasha and Ben Smith

I'm giving my grandma a break from my incessant interviews. Afterall, it is the holidays. Oh, and I'm sorry about the lack of photos. My photos are on my computer, but I left the power cord back in Texas, but I will add photos later. 

I have never really thought of my family as being a family big on tradition, but as you "melt and merge" new families together, you realize all the small things that go into making the holidays wonderful for your family. My family always gathers together on Christmas Eve to listen to Christmas music ushered in by radio personality Delilah. We sit around the Christmas tree and open one special gift. When we were really young we got to open up a set of pajamas, but as we got older we received an ornament. My grandma Mary Ellen usually comes over to take pictures and gives my mom an ornament. Afterwards, my little brother and sister put their homemade gingerbread cookies and Pepsi out for Santa (The Pepsi thing started when my other sister and I were younger because we are lactose intolerant and apparently Santa is too.). They then sprinkle their reindeer food on the front lawn and run off to bed where they pretend to sleep. Everyone else stays up super late trying to cook and get the rest of the presents wrapped. We also set out the presents from Santa creating a picture perfect scene. 

Last year, My mom gave me all of the ornaments that I had been given throughout the years to place on my own tree. All the decorations match on my tree, so instead of putting them on my tree, I put them on garland throughout our house. Ben and I decided to take up the old tradition of giving pajamas to each other on Christmas Eve. We really enjoy the pajamas because we stay in our pajamas all day on Christmas. 

For the first time last year we had a dinner on Christmas Eve in addition to out Christmas day dinner with all of my mom's side of the family. Everyone came over to our apartment and I hosted our Christmas Eve party. I made bread and fresh Crab chowder with plenty of sides. We ate yummy food and opened presents from each other. This year we are doing something similar with Ben's family. They have their Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, so we will be going over to my brother and sister in-law's for dinner tonight. I'm still unclear on many of their other traditions, but I will report back with more details later.

Advent of Christmas Memories - December 26, 2015 - Christmas Eve past -2010

This year, our family was not all with us for the Holiday so I thought we could revisit Christmas Eve 2010.  That night, we gathered together and had a Christmas Eve that was reminiscent of some I had while growing up.

We warmed ourselves and our tummies with what has become a new family recipe this year, chicken tortilla soup. The kids played and the rest of us rushed to wrap a few remaining gifts. We settled in with some Christmas music on the TV and gathered everyone up to play Family Feud with prizes. We really got to see some competitiveness come out of those family teams! After food and fun, we shared our gifts with one another. We also entertained ourselves by watching our big Theo cat follow Brittney's tiny Mecca dog around the house chasing after the leash that was hooked on this neck. I have a greed not to discuss Rusty's complete humiliation of being run out of his comfort zone by a dog a third his size. (Rusty, your secret is safe). 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories December 24, 2015 - Christmas Stories

There are so many beautiful Christmas stories that we have enjoyed over the years but my favorite story has always been "The Littlest Angel" written Tazewell Illustrated by Sergio Leone.  I was Given a copy in 1963. It is tattered and worn now but I still get teary eyed when I remember the story.

The little Angel has such a wonderful journey searching for a perfect gift for the Savior. But he feels humble and unable to give a beautiful gift.

So he gathers all of his dearest possessions and places them in a small rough box and offers it up as his lowly gift among all the other treasures. He knew it was ugly and he felt it was worthless. He wanted to snatch it up and hide it from the sight of God. But it was too late! "The hand of God moved slowly over all that bright array of shining gifts,
then paused,

then dropped,

and came to rest on the lowly gift of the Littlest Angel" (cue tears!)
"And the Voice of God Spoke, saying, ""Of all the gifts of all the Angels, I feel this small box pleases Me most. It's contents are of the Earth and of men, and My Son, too, will know and love and cherish and then, regretful, will leave behind him when His task is done. I accept this gift in the name of the Child. Jesus. born of Mary this night in Bethlehem.""
And it became The Star of Bethlehem.
If you have never read this beautiful story, please do,

Merry Christmas to all and a Blessed new your from our home to yours.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Advent of Christmas Memories December 16, 2015 - Christmas Travel

Our family is no stranger to Holiday Travel. While I was growing up we would always travel to Sterling Colorado to have dinner with my grandparents.

Later, when I was married and moved away from Colorado, sometimes my parents would come to Arizona to visit for the holidays. We always kidded my mom because she had a big duffel bag and she would pack potatoes and other vegetables from home as well as the TURKEY! One year it all backfired when the bag went missing at the airport. My dad very calmly told the airline personnel that he was sure they would find it soon, if not, everyone would know where it was when the turkey and steaks thawed out! About 2 in the morning, the bag was delivered to us, all the meat was still frozen, dad had a good chuckle over it.

When my daughter Sandi's husband got stationed in Bad Kissingen Germany, I took my first overseas flight to see them and my granddaughters. It was the most beautiful Christmas ever, just like an old fashioned Christmas card. I was outside, video taping when my oldest granddaughter Natasha came out to ask me..."Grandma...haven't you ever seen snow before? Her little sister Brittney was right beside her saying "ya...snow before?" We all had quite a laugh over that one. I assured them that I had, but seeing snow in a small village in the "old" country was a very good reason to take pictures!

The last two years, Sandi and the two youngest have been able to visit Natasha and Ben in Hawaii! Gee how times change!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 15, 2015 -Ornaments

Last year was amazing. I located my missing Nativity sets and all my family is so glad that I didn't put through another manic hunt thinking they were lost in the move. This was one of my favorite topics for the Advent blog. Although some of this post will be the same as a couple of years ago, last year, I wanted to add some pictures I have found and some information on the little village houses and the Nativity set.

I had three favorite decorations or ornaments, the Nativity, the small cardboard village houses with the hole in the back and the original colored bubble lights that were both an ornament and a light! (In case you can't tell from my previous blogs I was born in the '50's).

My parents bought the simple Nativity set when they had my oldest brother (15 years older than me). Both of my brothers, Doug and Willard were in charge of it until I came along. I did some research on this Nativity and found out that it was sold both pre and post World War 2, at major department stores.

It was Italian made and was made out of a chalk like material. It had a young looking Joseph and Mary and the Baby Jesus had a manger made from a strange brown piece of organic material with small sticks glued on the side for legs (by the time I came along, rubber bands were added).

My favorite Shepherd was tall and kind looking and carried a lamb over his shoulders.
The camels were very heavy and for some reason, the bull's horns had springs sticking out them. The barn that Joseph, Mary and the baby stayed in was made out of such rough old wood that I believed that it actually came from Bethlehem! All these years later only a few of the pieces remain.

The Christmas before my brother Doug passed away, he found a complete set just like the original at an antique store and purchased it for me since I was so attached to it. It now is lovingly displayed each year with the remaining original pieces AND the organic brown manger.

I still have the cardboard village houses as well. "Back in the Day" I spent hours putting the fat Christmas lights through the hole in the back. The windows all were covered in colored cellophane and when the lights were shining, all the houses looked like families were home, warm and safe in the snow sheets.

I hope that you and your families are all able to sleep tight tonight like the families in the little cottages.