Saturday, December 25, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Dec 24-Christmas Eve

This year, our family was not all with us for the Holiday so 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).
it wasn't the same without Wayne, Natasha and Ben, it was a wonderful Christmas Eve.

Advent Christmas Calendar-Dec 23-Christmas and Sweethearts

I love this topic. My parents were sweethearts all through the year, but since they got married a few days after Christmas, it always seemed like the holidays were extra special for them. As I explained in an earlier post, they eloped on December 30th. My dad, Maynard would always give my mom a little squeeze and giver her a "little sugar" with a wink of course. He was always making sure to bring flowers from the garden throughout the year and potted plants and candy during the Christmas season. Then, there were the cards, he would buy the most beautiful cards for mom and proclaim his love inside, carefully writing the year in the corner. Throughout the years the cards were saved and they always make me cry when I read his sincere words of love to his eternal sweetheart. Through my whole life I felt very fortunate to always know how much my parents loved one another.

For the last 14 years I have been blessed with my own sweetheart. Like my father, my husband, Steve, carefully chooses his cards to me to express just the right feelings. He tells me everyday how much he loves and cherishes me, and I always know how much I am loved. I try my best to let him know how much I treasure him as well. If I succeed half as much as he does, he knows how loved he is, I'm a very lucky woman.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Dec 22-Deceased Relatives

We did not usually go to the cemetery on Christmas but we always remembered our loved ones through something they loved. We made special recipes they loved, displayed ornaments that meant a lot to them and shared memories and stories about them during the holidays. After my mother passed away, my dad, brother and I would go to the Cemetery a few days after Christmas to commemorate their anniversary. After my dad and brother passed as well, I still go to place roses on their graves on their anniversary date.

When we are in California for Christmas, we stop to visit my father in-laws grave. He died right after Christmas and he is always in our hearts and minds.

How ever we honor them, we keep our loved ones close in heart during the holidays and throughout the year.

Advent Christmas Calendar-Dec 21-Christmas Music

Christmas music was always a big part of our family Christmas's. When I was growing up, we had tone of the big console radios with a phonograph it. We listened to Christmas music on the radio and we had a few 78 records with Christmas music as well. From time to time I would get my own Christmas records to play. The one I remember best had a yellow label on it with Santa and Reindeer on it. I think I almost wore it out. It had all the popular kids songs on it by the original singers. I also had the Alvin and the Chipmunk's record. When the school would put on Christmas concerts, I always signed up. I know my brother's sang in Choir at church as well. When I was 10 I learned how to play the organ and a friend of ours gave me hers. I practiced everyday throughout the year but I loved to play the Christmas music every night when mom and dad got home.

When I was older and moved to Arizona, I joined the Dickens' strolling caroler group and spent many enjoyable hours singing for others. I also participated in church choirs and the Arizona Mormon Choir. These experiences have been some of my most treasured memories. It would not be the same for me on Christmas if we did not share it through music.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Religious Services

We did not really attend services as a family when I was growing up. My parents had never decided which church we should go to. My father and his family were Methodists and my mother was christened Lutheran. From time to time friends or relatives would take me to church with them so I attended lots of different services. I remember very clearly that no matter where we were worshiping I felt overwhelmed with love for the Savior, I was also touched by the music. The times I attended on Christmas were very special to me.

When my oldest daughter Sandi was almost 4 months old, my mom and I attended midnight services at the neighborhood church. It was cold and snowy Colorado night and it was a beautiful sight walking in the snow up to the old stately church. My mom was carrying Sandi in the popular baby carrier at the time, it was hard plastic, with a metal frame. The baby was bundled up tightly and when we were almost to the door, my mom slipped and fell on the ice and the carrier went flying across the ice and snow. I was so frantic and praying both mom and the baby were alright, that I don't even remember which one I got to first. When I picked up my baby, she was still sleeping and bundled up nice and warm however, my mom was a little worse for the ware. We were helped into the church by onlookers and settled into the pew. The church was so beautiful and the spirit was so strong, that when the services started, my mom and I were both already crying. We were filled with love for the Savior and each other, and thankfulness that we had just experienced our own small miracle. It was an unforgettable Christmas service.

Now that I have found my own church family, Christmas services are always very special. I love knowing that I am surrounded by others who share the love of Christ. I'm always brought to tears by the choir and the special part the children play in the services. I always feel very blessed to have the life and family I have. And most of all, because of my faith, I know why I am here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar- Day 19- Shopping

We are a very competitive family when it comes to finding shopping deals all year round but especially for Christmas. My mom planned very early in the year because she often made some of the gifts. Then, as the season progressed she would look for the best deals so she could get the most for her money. She never really got to participate in Black Friday sales but she would have loved them.

Over the last 15 years or so it has been a combined team shopping effort to fill every one's list, it is planned with ads and spreadsheets and strategic team member location in various stores. Some year even merit the coveted "Queen of Shopping" award of valor.

I have many fun shopping memories but one of my favorites was long ago when my girls were young. We lived in a small home on Smith Street in Fort Collins Colorado. As young parents, most of our Christmas mornings were very sparse. This particular year, we were both working and were given bonuses. After taking care of all our obligations, we had had enough to so get several gifts each for the girls. Their dad was not much for shopping but this year he had a change of heart. We hatched a plan. We decided to only put the regular amount of packages under the tree so it looked like our normal Christmas. Then, we went shopping, each of us took a cart and filled it up with goodies. When we got home, we hid all the gifts and did not wrap or put them under the tree. On Christmas eve, we both wrapped gifts and put them under the tree. By the time we were done, the whole front room was full of brightly wrapped boxes. We left the tree lit and went to bed. On Christmas morning, as the girls wondered out of bed, expecting to open the few prizes under the tree, they were beyond surprised to see the tree. Then came the infamous "little girl squeals" lots of hugs and many joyful memories. It was truly a once in a lifetime Christmas morning.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Christmas Stockings

We have always had stockings hanging at Christmas. Some were lucky enough to be hung over fireplaces, some tacked on walls, some hung off of entertainment centers and others were nailed in the door moldings. Large, small, fuzzy, glittered, favorite characters or paper stockings made at school. They all had a place in our holiday traditions.

I remember many great stocking stories by my very favorite was my stocking the year I was in fourth grade. We had moved to Fort Collins, Colorado into an older red and white brick home with a fireplace. I thought it was one of the nicest houses we had ever rented, especially since I had never lived in a house with a fireplace. As was the case in most years, finances were really tight and my parents had already explained that we might not have any gifts to exchange. I took the practical approach, I put my hopes in Santa to save the day.

The one thing I wanted most was to trade up from my 64 Crayola set to a beautiful round tin of short colored pencils. I had seen them in Woolworth's and the tin was just as colorful as the pencils. It was sky blue cardboard with bright colored pictures of the pencils lined up around the edges. The bottom and top were made of silver tin and it pulled apart in the middle to display the pencils neatly spiraling around in their rows. I knew it would not be as expensive as a doll or other toy and, at that time, I loved to design imaginary dresses and outfits and color them in, that was of course when I wasn't drawing hot rod's and Rat Finks. When I hung my stocking (one of the red mesh kind that oranges came in) over the fireplace and wrote my letter to Santa, the pencils were all I asked for.

On Christmas morning, I ran to my stocking and it looked full, and it was! There was an orange and an apple and a note from a small note pad. I couldn't believe that Santa forgot the pencils. I was just about to cry when I looked at the small note, it read;

"My Dear Mary Ellen, Santa ran a little short and wasn't able to get the colored pencils you wanted. If you will leave your stocking up, I will bring them next week."

I was thrilled and more than happy to leave my stocking proudly hanging up and, sure enough, Santa delivered the pencils the next Saturday morning. Fortunately for the rest of the family as well, my dad had resolved his shortage problem as well as he had gotten his paycheck on Friday night. He had lovingly placed a few small gifts under our tree. It turned out that we had a wonderful belated and memorable celebration that year.

I love and miss my "daddy" very much and I'm thankful that by his example, he taught me that Christmas is about the more important things than gifts, the love of the Savior and the love of our family.

Christmas Advent Calander-Grab Bag-Day 17 - Our Grandchildren's memories

I wanted to give my family a chance to add their Christmas memories here. So, as this post develops, some of our grandchildren will post their own thoughts.

TAYTUM: Age 6.My favorite time is when we walk in and see the presents. My favorite gift is my pet shop stuff and my eye pet.

JAYDEN: Age 9. My favorite about Christmas is celebrating Christ's birthday and opening presents.
My favorite presents are being alive,getting a ps3,MADDEN11,WII,and a webkinz.

JAZMINE:AGE 9. My favorite thing about christmas is that i get to open presents and spend time with my family and see them happy.

My favorite gifts are....getting a DS,and the movie hair spray. That was my favorite gifts and my favorite thing about chrismas.

HIKARU: Age 17. During our 2009 Christmas I had received an enormous box. I got so excited I could not stop thinking about all of the huge things that could be in this box. I ripped open the box and looked in side.

All that i could see was layers upon layers of newspapers. I had hoped there was still something big in the box but as I started unraveling the papers i was at the bottom of the box with little to no paper remaining. I removed the last of the paper and saw the IPOD I had asked for with the capability to record. It was like love at first sight. I never went anywhere without my IPOD in hand.

JOSH: (I'm still thinking...)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-School Celebrations

My earliest memory of a school Christmas pagent was in first grade. I attended school in the only grade school in Wiggins Colorado, a small rural farm town. I remember the pagent so well because I got to wear a choir robe. Of course it was made out of a cut up white sheet with a red ribbon bow on it. I loved learning the carols to sing and my favorites were silent night and silver bells. The best part of silver bells is that we made our own silver bells out of paper cups covered in foil with yarn stringing them together. It was a big moment for me. Only recently I found the picture of my older brother Doug in his Merino Colorado school choir. All I can say is that his robe was nicer but he did NOT have the cool silver bells.

Advent Christmas Calendar-Holiday Happenings

We have several family members who celebrate during the holidays. Jazzie has her birthday on the 2nd of December. She loves purple and this year she got a pair of purple boots! We always get together to have a small family party with a favorite meal, hers is chicken nuggets, followed by presents of course and cake and ice cream of choice. It is always a challenge to decide what Black Friday finds will not make it to Christmas and will show up for the birthday instead. Jazzie is very energetic, she loves animals and wants to be a vet when she grows up. She loves to sing and has a beautiful voice. She also loves to play on her Penguin web site and watch funny videos on U-tube.
The most memorable thing about Jazzie is her dazzling smile!

My parents also celebrated their anniversary on December 30. The year Natasha was born, they celebrated their 50th. It was a small celebration, but on the 40th we had given them a big reunion party in Colorado. Friends and relatives joined us from all over. When I was about 10, I asked my mom if she still had her wedding dress. That was the first time I had heard their wedding story. They had eloped with their best friends the day before New Years eve. My mom said she was just wearing a blue patterned house dress that had probably been cut up and put in a quilt. Since it was last minute, they just jumped in the car and drove over the state line from Colorado into Nebraska. They had a double wedding performed by a justice of the peace. They remained close friends throughout their lives.

The reason we decided to throw them the big party on the 40th anniversary instead of the 50th is that earlier that year the Dr. told my mother that she had a deteriorating retinas and would possibly be blind in less than 3 years. My sister-in-laws and I planned the whole thing as a surprise to them. We managed to talk them into having their portrait taken to give the family for Christmas so my mom bought a beautiful turquoise dress and dad bought a suit and we got them to the house for the portraits and surprised them. They had all the trimming they never had at their wedding, engraved invitations, guest books, rose bouquets and even a wedding candle. It was a wonderful day full of tears, laughter and memories. Even though they have passed, we still honor their anniversary with lots of love.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Fruitcake Friend or Foe

I had to reach out to my brother Willie for this post because he had at least 12 more years of fruitcake history than I did.

He says that no matter how strange it seems, the fruitcakes DID get eaten, but they were usually last because they were hidden away. I still couldn't understand why they wanted to eat them but he let me in on a few secrets. First of all, they can have absolutely anything in them and you never knew what you were eating. Second, they often came soaked with alcohol and according to him that is the root of a LOT of alcohol issues in the world. The third thing was that they were aged over a year or two so if you were able to survive eating it with your teeth still in tact you were a star! The fourth was that you could find it stashed in the house all times during the year and in a sugar emergency or, in his case, an emergency where he was looking for any old thing to eat, he could be sure that he could find it somewhere.

In later years when the grandkids were little, mom started making gumdrop fruit cakes and those were a little more popular. So I guess for us the vote is Fruitcake vote is split - 1 for friend and one for foe.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Charitable/Volunteer Work

Our family has always been involved in service work especially during the holidays. From the time I was small and throughout the years there were always opportunities to help others.

My mother was a beautician and she would always make sure that all her "little ladies" (as she referred to them) had their hair done up nice for family visits. She would also trim up the men's hair so they would look spiffy as well. She loved to do this for them every year.
She would also bring the grandchildren to the home with her to visit with people.

I have been involved through the years with singing at retirement and nursing homes so that each person could be touched by the spirit of music.

Many years we have gathered clothing, food and toys for needy families and invited those without families to join us for our dinners and activities.

I also remember one year that Natasha, her school mates and Brittney, made and sent Christmas letters to the residents of the Salvation Army Rehab center.

These are just a few of the many ways we have been blessed by helping others throughout the year and especially during the holidays

Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Christmas Gifts

My mother was quite a seamstress and she made clothes for my brothers, Doug, Willard and myself. She also made quilts, pillowcases, aprons and embroidered or crochet trim on them as well. Usually at Christmas we would have hand made gifts of warm clothing. However, sometimes she made some smaller clothing wardrobes (for my dolls). This brings me to a special Christmas's that involved a creative solution to difficult choice.

I was probably about four when I had my heart set on a doll for Christmas. I could not make the painful decision between a bride doll or a ballerina! At this age, these were life changing decisions. It was made very clear to me that IF I was lucky enough to get a doll, it would definitely be ONE doll, not two and that would be the only toy. I was so torn, I could never decide which one I wanted I thought I probably not get a doll at all.

On Christmas eve, my fear's were confirmed, no doll. I was sooooo disappointed. My brother assured me that as he told me before....there was a fat chance of getting that doll. On Christmas morning I had a big surprise. Santa had enlisted the help of some secret helpers, one who had made sure that there was a ballerina doll with my name on it, and the other who made a beautiful wedding gown with a lovely soft turquoise coat and beautiful shoes and earrings. The hand made clothing was my mom's doing of course, since Santa did not have time to sew such a delicate item. I was overjoyed and so glad that I got the best of both worlds, a women ahead of her time, my Bride Doll was also a professional ballerina, what more could you ask for??

This beautiful doll is still in my collection, and I remember that Christmas every year.

Advent Christmas Calendar-Grab Bag

The Quilt you see on this page was actually a Christmas quilt that was made for my great grandmother, Mary Ellen Ramsey Dunn in 1935. I am her namesake by her request.

Her family members painstakingly designed and embroidered each quilt square themselves, the only exceptions were for those who were deceased, like little Jimmy Dunn.

Each square had the embroidered signature of the person who was sewing it. The squares also included images that were chosen to reflect things that each person liked. My dad's has flowers on it, some, like my great grandfather Wilbur's have graduated colors on the monograms.
I only knew of this quilt through family oral history as it was passed to the various family members of those who had put it together. According to tradition, groups of family members worked together to make each square and then the women spent several afternoons putting the pieces together and doing the quilting.

The first time I saw the quilt in person was at the Overland Trail Museum in Sterling Colorado, prior to the opening of the new display of the prairie sod home. It brought me to tears to see each carefully crafted squares with the signatures and images dear to my ancestors, many of whom I never met.

What a testimony to the love this family had for their matriarch. She must have felt it was a gift of love on that Christmas that carried through the years.

The quilt is now on display at the museum in the bedroom and lovingly lies over the end of the bed, much like it probably did in my great grandmother's room. This special gift has inspired me through the years to try and make my gifts to others personal and meaningful.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Cookies!!!

My dad credits the fact that he was the youngest child for his love of baking. He often talked about how he loved being in the kitchen with his mom while she baked. He always wanted to help especially when the cookies were being made.

My first and lasting memories of these cookies were of a colorful tin with wax paper lining and stacks of beautiful, soft, yummy cookies that never lasted long enough to dry out.

When we made them at our house, the dough was cut using old silver tin cookie cutters shaped like stars, trees, wreaths, bells and Santas.

I loved to put the silver balls on the wreaths and trees, and decorate the rest of the cookies with bright frosting and sprinkles.

When my brothers and I had children, they joined in as well.

Now it has come full circle and my grandchildren decorate and frost the cookies. We still use that treasured recipe...and keep the tradition going.

*Thank you Veer Images for the cookie pics.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Holiday Parties

Our family had a tradition of getting together on Christmas eve since we usually traveled on Christmas day to have dinner with my grandparents across the state. After they passed, my parents kept the tradition of having all of us over for sandwiches, clam chowder (or some other yummy soup) and family time around the tree. From the time I learned to play the organ at 10, I would play carols and take requests for favorite songs. We also opened our presents on Christmas eve and so whatever was under the tree on Christmas morning was from Santa.

Now that my children are grown we still try to carry out some old traditions as well as make new ones. Natasha usually reads a Christmas story, Raven and I wrap last minute gifts and deliver them. Sandi's family exchanges personal ornaments, and we last year we gathered together again on Christmas.

No matter where we are, we still remember and therefore include our loved ones that are no longer here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Santa Claus

Our family has always loved Santa and we have so many "Santa" memories that I will only share a few here. I have kept many of my dolls and plush from when I was young and remember where each one came from except the "elderly" stuffed Santa that was with my treasures from my earliest memories.

I always made sure he was well placed with the Christmas decorations, and because he seemed like a much older wiser Santa, I made sure he was never slighted by the newer, brighter and flashier Santa's. I didn't find out where he came from until just a few days ago when I discovered a photo of him in one of my parents' albums.
Lo and behold, there he was sitting very proudly under the tree between my grandparents, Manley and Priscilla Dunn. What a surprise, I think I was right, he was a very distinguished Santa before he came to live with us.

Another favorite Christmas eve was when my daughter Sandi and her cousin Lon were about 2 or 3 years old and Santa came to visit walking right up the sidewalk to the house. My mom had arranged for Santa to come to the door instead of down the chimney (since we didn't have one) bringing some very special gifts. In Santa's bag were toys and life sized Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls that she had made, including matching Raggedy outfits for the kids. Santa even spread his visit to the little boy next door who was terrified and would have no part of it!

And finally, I saved the sweetest for last. In 2004 the three youngest grandchildren Jayden, Jazzie and newborn Taytum were visited by a very special helper of Santa's. Our 13 year old grandson Joshua, agreed to help Santa out and let his cousins and little sister have their pictures taken with him.

It went something like this:
ME: Josh, I think you would make a great Santa

JOSH: I don't think so grandma

ME: Sure you would, we will even get you a cool suit to wear, just like

Ummmm I'll think about it

Sometime later:

ME: Josh, look, your mom found a really cool Santa Suit!!!!

ME: Please?????


JOSH: Ummmmm, well, I guess I could do it, it does look KINDA cool

Christmas Eve 2004

Uhhh grandma???

ME: Yes Josh?

JOSH: This is really really hot and sweaty........How long do I have to wear it for?
JOSH: Grandma???
Grandma???? where did you go????????
man I gotta get outta here.............

ME: THANK YOU JOSHUA .......Here comes Santa Claus here comes Santa Claus.......

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Outdoor Decorations

I don't remember our family decorating the out side of the house until my parents were able to purchase their own home. The home was in a small development on the edge of town and it consisted of one small street. Everyone on both sides of the street decorated their homes and yards. So, the first Christmas in the the new house, my mom purchased a set of flat crinkly plastic Santa and Reindeer decorations for my dad to put on the roof. They were bright and cheery and I think they all had a Rudolph nose! They made you smile just looking at them, however, I don't think my dad was smiling when he was climbing the roof to put them up!

To go with the figures, mom bought a Santa door panel for outside and lights for the roof and trees. After that, they decorated outside wherever they lived. A few years ago, after my dad passed away, we lost track of Santa and the reindeer, I didn't give it much thought until my daughter asked to use them for her home and was sad that her kids would not get to enjoy them while they were growing up. I have looked many places trying to find another set but I haven't ever seen any like them, they were unique.

Maybe my family can add some comments about what they liked best about Santa and Reindeer?

Until tomorrow, make sure your Santa and Reindeer stay on the roof!

Mary Ellen

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Christmas Cards

My parents and grandparents both sent and saved Christmas cards over the years.

One of my priceless family history treasures is a red tin cigar box that's filled with post cards and cards that my maternal grandmother saved.

She passed away before I was born so I never got to meet her. The messages in the cards from her children and her sisters back in Indiana were the only clues I really had to find out how her family felt about her. Through the information in the cards,

I was finally able to identify my mother's "long lost relatives". The cards are from the early 1900's through the early 1950's and are very quaint. My favorite part of looking at the cards every year is reading how much my mom loved and missed her mom and looked forward to their visits.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent Christmas Calendar-Ornaments

Let me start by saying SOME of our family NEVER throws any ornaments away so technically all of our ornaments become heirlooms, however there are some memorable treasures that always bring back Christmas memories. I had three favorites, 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. 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 donkey'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 plaster 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.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Jazzy

Today, Dec 2nd is Jazzie's birthday. She celebrated by singing Christmas music for everyone. Tomorrow she will bust out for a party serving her fave food. CHICKEN NUGGETS. Best wishes Jazzie, we love you!

Advent Christmas Calendar-Holiday foods

My dad's mother was born in England and at Christmas time, there were always special foods we did not normally see throughout the year. One of the dishes was suet pudding. I might have been able to try it if I had not watched my mother make it. I could not ever get it past my chin, and I could not understand why you would eat something with FAT in it and think it was so yummy. The next treat, bread pudding, was another matter entirely. It was made and served with the best thick lemon sauce to put over it. It was very mysterious, as it was always kept wrapped in wax paper in a tin and kept in the refrigerator. This was the treat my dad always coveted, hid, and snuck out to the kitchen for in the middle of the night. The other two foods that seemed to be very popular were the mince meat pie and the fruitcake. You never had to worry about me taking any one's share of those! I did not find out until much later that every Christmas was a test of sorts for my mother, who was not from England, but was required to prepare the special menu items perfectly so that they would pass my grandmother's inspection. Maybe that was why she didn't really care for the traditional foods???

Advent Calendar for Christmas-Holiday Trees

I wanted to blog using this very neat Advent Idea Calendar for my first Christmas of blogging.
I grew up in Colorado so there was never a shortage of available Christmas trees and all of them were very beautiful. The only problem was, every year when we brought the tree home I became sick and was sick all through the holiday until the tree was disposed of. Eventually, my parents discovered I had pine allergies. There was only one type of tree I wasn't allergic to so for a few years, we tried to get that type of tree. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, the type of tree was forgotten and the cycle started over. About the time I was in 3rd grade, a new type of tree showed up in the house. It was of an alien species....Aluminum! It even came with accessories, a COLOR wheel. For those of you not familiar with this retro phenom, the tree had sparse shiny silver branches. The wheel had a high powered spot light with a plastic waffle type disc attached with red, yellow, green and blue sections. When the wheel was set up pointed towards the tree, the tree magically lit up with the colors in sequence as it rotated. I was fascinated by it and spend endless hours going back and forth from inside to out to see the colors changed. This tree lasted several years as a tradition until the color wheel bulb burned out. When my parents found out how much the bulb was, out went the tree (the branches made great magic wands) and we went back to what I lovingly refer to as tree roulette. In the past few years, I think the tree has made a comeback. Hmmm....wonder how much thee light bulb costs now??????