Monday, December 5, 2011

Santa: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, December 6, 2011

This is one of my favorite and sweetest Santa stories.

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.......

Outdoor Decorations: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories December 5, 2011

I grew up loving the outdoor Christmas displays. My parents seemed to enjoy the lights as well and even though my dad didn't enjoy driving at night, he and my mom would bundle me up and put me in the car to "go see the lights". I remember standing on the backseat floor of the car using my mitten to clear the frost off the window so I could see the lights. It was magical how the lights all seemed to have "halos" through the frosted glass. When I think of those snowy Colorado nights, I can still remember the familiar smell of my "daddy's" old cars. They all pretty much smelled the same, the warm radio tubes, dust on the seats, well worn mechanic's tools and cigarettes. Somehow that was a safe and cozy environment to protect us from the snow and ice.

Then when my kids were young and we were still in Colorado, they also had quite a few rides to see lights in "Grandpa's" car, (of course by then there were seat-belts.)

In the early '80's we moved to Arizona and I wondered how the lights here could possibly be as beautiful without the snow and ice. We were thrilled to find out that not only were they as beautiful, but sometimes it was nice to enjoy them with the temperatures in the 50's instead of the '20's!

Actually, one of the most beautiful displays we have ever enjoyed was in Mesa, Arizona at the Arizona LDS Temple. The display has been a part of every Arizona Christmas since.

I am including some of the the Temple Garden pictures as posted on the City of Mesa web site. I hope you can enjoy a special part of the yearly tradition that lights up our season.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Cards: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

I'm fortunate to have a collection of my grandparents and parents' letters and cards. Some of them are as old as the early 1900's, but the majority of them are like the ones shown here from the 1940's. I love the soft colors and innocent images, these are the images I grew up with in the family scrapbooks and albums and they almost seemed like storybooks to me.

Not only are the cards beautiful, but the personal notes inside were handwritten with beautiful penmanship and hopeful messages for the upcoming years.

I feel so fortunate that I have been able to learn so much about my ancestors from these cards. So many of the cards are from brother's and sister's and aunt's and uncles that had passed long before I was born. The cards I treasure the most are the ones that were sent between my mom and her mother. Some of the thoughts they shared showed how much love and concern they had for each other and how much they missed being able to see one another.

We no longer exchange cards in the family and I can't help but feel an obligation to make sure that my grandchildren appreciate the treasures in this little box of memories.

Ornaments: Advent Calendar of Christmas Dec.3, 2011

Last year this was one of my favorite topics for the Advent blog. Although some of this post will be the same as 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.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday Foods: Advent Calendar of Christmas Dec. 2, 2011

Our family has always been very traditional with our Christmas dinners. There were plenty of beautiful brown turkeys, with moist stuffing (my favorite was my mother's oyster stuffing), heaps of mashed potatoes and plenty of rich gravy to go around and endless specialty side dishes . Then there were the deserts, pies, cakes, cookies and fudge. Sometimes the varieties changed but everything was always wonderful especially after smelling it cook all day and waiting for company to arrive. But for every perfect dish, there are many stories of the less than successful attempts at creating them. Somehow, those mishaps seem to be the stories that get repeated over and over until they become family traditions in themselves.

I'm sure that almost everyone that reads this story could contribute many of these same types of "recipe's gone wrong". Here goes.

Mashed potatoes, runny or dry, runny or lumpy, too much butter or forgotten all together. Ever cooked too many or too few? Waaaaaay more potatoes than gravy? How about not enough to go around? Burned on the bottom or raw and crunchy?

Gravy, thicker than the potatoes? How about greasy on the top? My favorite....just keep adding water and pepper there will be enough...... Then there is the "oh my goodness, we forgot to make the gravy!"

Turkey, too brown, too dry, not done, over done, bag of giblets baked inside on numerous occasions? Our family favorite was the junior small tom fueled a competition between my brothers to see which one could successfully make a small turkey feed a lot of people. Between one adding stuffing and the other "infusing" it with the baster the turkey got very large just before it E X P L O D E D.

There were rock hard rolls and dough balls, too much baking soda or not enough and of course "uh oh...did we forget the rolls"?

Finally pies, broken crusts, burnt edges, all crust hardly any pie, all pie no crust, no sugar, too much sugar, too runny and those that were raw. Store bought crust, first time crusts, perfect crusts with awful pie and sour pies with beautiful crusts.

No matter what kind of disaster occurred before or during dinner, it always seemed like the meal was perfect and the best ever! We always knew that no matter how it turned out it was full of love and we were all together, that was what made it special.

Family Christmas Trees: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Dec. 1, 2011

Last year I wrote about our artifical tree's when I was growing up,-particularly the silver aluminum tree with the four color light wheel. This year, I was thinking about some of the memorable trees we had when my children were young. My mom was the type of person that would get an idea in her head and until she was able to make it happen, she was on a mission! (I have to admit I take after her when it comes to that.)

Somewhere in the mid 1970's, Winnie the Pooh and Friends were very popular and of course the little one's were all crazy about Pooh. Mom was tired of trying to come up with a suitible tree each year so she decided to get a large life-like tree at Sears. Since most of our ornaments were passed down from Grandparents and my older brother's Christmas's, they were pretty thin and worn. She thought that if she was going to get a new tree,  she should get new ornaments. Then, she decided that if she got new ornaments, she would want them to be something that could be passed down to the grandchildren. Unfortunately, it was getting very close to Christmas, and the possibility of getting enough ornaments that would be special enough to hand down was proving to be difficult. Not only that, she wanted to make sure that they would all be able to have the same type of ornaments, so no one would be slighted. It was quite a problem until we walked into the Christmas department of our local Sears in Fort Collins Colorado.

In the middle of the floor was a beautiful tall, perfectly formed artificial tree, decorated with lights and what seemed to be a hundred Pooh and friends plush ornaments! In addition, there were little gingerbread men and houses and little colorful felt baby animals. It was perfectly beautiful. Problem solved! Mom proceeded to work her magic and would not be defeated even when she was told there were no ornament sets like those on the tree because most of the Pooh characters were excess small plush toys that had been nestled carefully within the branches.

Not to be denied, my mom used her very best barganing skills. She asked the Manager if he had thought about how much trouble it was going  to be to take down that tree and restock all the toys after the holiday. Within 15 minutes she had made a deal to purchase the complete display tree, lights and ornaments (and a few larger stuffed Poohs for good measure). The only stipulation is that we had to wait until the week of Christmas before we picked it up.

Oh did I forget to mention that we had to remove the tree just as it was with out disassembling it?

Here's where charming the Son-In-Law comes in. Since My  husband and I were the only one's with a pick up truck, and we worked the night shift, my husband was elected to take mom to Sears and pick up the tree. What a sight it was, driving down College Ave. with a huge tree covered in plastic with Pooh and the boys just "Hanging Around"! After the tree was unloaded, mom supervised while everything was put in place and the lights were lit.

All I can say is that it was magical when the kids saw the tree they were (almost) speechless. Before any arguments over ornaments could break out, mom sat them down and explained that after Christmas, she would let them take the ornaments down and count them evenly into four groups so each family could have a Pooh tree for their house. And yes, there were more than enough animals for us all to have a full tree. Like I said, Magic.  We still have some of the ornaments that have survived and been passed down and they always remind me of that special one of a kind Christmas tree.

I spent this evening trying to find some pictures of the ornaments in old Sears catalogs and I was only able to find a few. So I will add them here. And if you close your eyes and let your inner child imagine a Magical Tree of Pooh might be able to see it lit up in front of the fire on a snowy Colorado Christmas.

I hope you all find a little Magical wonder in every Christmas season. God Bless.