Tag Archive | Christmas

All Lit Up and Ready to Go

If you have been following me for awhile, you know I LOVE outdoor Christmas lights. Since I was a little kid, I found wonder in lighting up the blackness of winter. There was one wealthy family on the north side of Racine who started my fascination with outdoor white lights.  These pictures really don’t do the original display justice, but at least you can see what I’m talking about. Baby boomers enjoyed angels flying in the trees and a beautiful Austrian crystal waterfall captured the imagination. Often our parents had to wait in a long line of traffic to get a quick drive-by look. But we waited with patience because few families could afford ANY outside lights. After Mr. Wheary died, his family gifted these lights to the city and now they are displayed at the Racine Zoo along with other colorful lights.waterfall lights peace on earth

Another family has picked up the mantel to present the community with Christmas lights. They live in a subdivision called Jamestown, and I gotta tell you, this display is something special. It is lit from five to ten o’clock and for five hours you can sit in the car and watch lights synchronized to music which you can access on a radio station. Incredible.

A few years back I started putting lights outside myself. The first year I put them on backwards and had to go purchase a LONG extension cord to get them to work. Live and learn, right? Since then every year my display has gotten a bit more sophistication because I add a few more lights. I have no aspirations to become Mr. Wheary or Mike and Debbie at Jamestown, but the flicker of my small display warms my heart in the same way.

I know a lot of people cringe when Christmas has become so commercialized. But let’s get real. There are actually two Christmas celebrations — one at church and a secular one where we shower gifts on people we love. Some say the true meaning of Christmas is lost because people become a little nuts in December, but I will always have an inclination to tell my friends and family I love them by giving them a gift that is relevant to them.

It’s not how much you spend on a gift; it really is a reflection of your love for that person by buying or making a gift with some thoughtfulness. During the years Ken and I fell into financial dire straights, we went to a park and picked up pine cones to make homemade fire-starters for our friends with fireplaces and napkin holders for those who didn’t.

So now that I’ve rambled on about the day at hand, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy holiday. Just remember the difference between the two.

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It’s Unseasonably Warm

All the calendars tell me it’s November again. The only real evidence of that fact is we had to “fall back” with our clocks last Saturday. Instead  of getting cold, though, we’re having a week of 70 degree temperatures with bright sunshine and clear blue skies. I think Mother Nature is making up for her nasty behavior in the Spring.

But even the warm temperatures can’t deny winter is lurking behind the curtain. It’s dark at 4:30 in the afternoon and Christmas commercials are already appearing on television. Yuck. Another downside of the warm temps is not having the excuse to snuggle in the blankets in the early darkness. I tell everybody who will listen that I would have made a very good bear because I do hibernate.

So how do we get through the next four to six months? (Yes, six months — I live in a northern state where winter is never-ending.) I think the anticipation of the holidays of Thanksgiving and the craziness of Christmas and all it’s “traditions” pull us through this time of year.

So for all you other “sun signs” like me, keep a calendar handy and check off the days until April. It makes you think you’re making progress to more consistent nice, warm, weather. This stretch of present warm temperatures is a fluke.

When Santa Didn’t Come to Town

Presents and SantaIt’s Christmas morning, and I’m listening to the boys who live next door playing with their new holiday toys. They’re screaming and yelling like boys do. The sound of their shouts and laughter make me happy. They are playing like children should on Christmas morning.

My husband and I are having a quiet morning inside. He’s busying himself with loading new software onto his computer, while I’m writing my blog and playing a Facebook game that has me addicted. I’ve also drafted a new chapter of my latest novel, while I enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a light breakfast. We’re both still in our jammies and it’s almost noon. It’s a perfect Christmas morning.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it when my children were small and wide-eyed when they came downstairs on Christmas morning. But by the time they were five and eight years old, they would have the presents unwrapped before I had the coffee made. One year, I missed seeing their joy as they tore through their presents like a F-5 tornado. I made a pact with myself that would never happen again. I needed to outwit these children to slow them down.

So, the next year when they came down on Christmas morning, there were NO Christmas presents under the tree. The cookies and milk that they left for Santa were still sitting there, but the carrot had been gnawed. On the plate there was a note that read:

Dear Amy and Sarah,

Santa got the flu on Christmas Eve, so I volunteered to help. But I did it my way.

Love the Easter Bunny.

Easter Bunny

I remember their surprised, confused little faces as they tried to figure out what the note meant. Then like a light bulb coming over the head of a cartoon figure, Sarah said, “Oh, no! The Easter Bunny must have hid our presents!”

Sure enough. That’s just what had happened. So, while my two daughters searched every inch of our four-bedroom house, I made the coffee and set out the sweet rolls, so their father and I could enjoy them searching for their presents. It’s one of my fondest memories of our Christmases together. And now that they are adults living away from home, it’s one of theirs, too.

Merry Christmas Everyone

Giving is Forever

Santa and childrenI can remember when I was a child WAITING for the night that Santa Claus would bring me the gift that I had been dreaming about all year — or at least since my birthday in July. Yes, it was a magical time for a little girl. A time that all children should have a chance to experience. Even the fact that Santa NEVER brought me a Lionel train set could be overlooked because he did bring me ice skates.

The sad fact is, this miracle of an elf coming in the night to shower presents on eager children with big dreams isn’t worldwide. There are children who go to bed hungry on Christmas Eve and most of us don’t even give them a second thought. There are poor children living on our city streets with their mothers, who would just be thankful for one safe night in a warm comfy bed. Other children wish for enough food to fill their extended tummies. Orphanages are filled with children who just wish someone would love them. In still other places, girls dream to have an education.  Wouldn’t it be great if the Jolly Ol’ Elf could grant these children their Christmas wishes?

I’m always excited when God touches the lives of people who are like Santa. Like Oprah who started a school in Africa, like Bono who contributes to 32 charities to fight poverty and hunger. Angelina Jolie is the Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR. She and Brad Pitt also founded the Jolie-Pitt Foundation to fight poverty in rural areas. Then there’s George Clooney who made the world open its eyes to the genocide going on in Darfur. This list of Celebrity Santas goes on, too. Bill and Melinda Gates have created a foundation to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty worldwide, while in America, it expands educational opportunities and access to information technology.  Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Ellen DeGeneres, Scarlett Johnansson, Justin Timerlake and many others. They all have given their famous names and a lot of their money to make the world better.

So, what can we do? After all most of us don’t have enough money to do such grandiose gestures. How can we make a difference?

It’s easy. Let God touch your heart and find out. Then listen and wait. Before too long, you’ll feel a tug at your heart that won’t leave you alone. Don’t ignore it because this is what you’ve been waiting for. It’s your way to be Santa any time of the year.