Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Tour - Nativites

I didn't get in on the blog Christmas house tours - I haven't even looked at others' home tours yet, but still wanted to share some of our fun and family items with you.

First, a nativity made by Sarah's in-laws. Richard handled the saw, and Janet sanded, painted, and stained.

The focal point of a large set given to us by my sister Jeanne, aka mbs (for my best sister -- a family joke). This set also includes a barn, a hill, camels, horses and a cart, sheep and shepherd, fences, palm trees and a little drummer boy (I should look up where his story comes from). I wonder why Joseph has his back to us?

Christmas Tour - Childhood Memories

A Christmas record - pictures on both sides.

In sixth grade, I attended a ceramics class with my mother for a few weeks, and made this carolers set. I remember being excited that I was "big enough" to go with her. I also remember that the teacher painted the eyes on the figures, and the candle in the street lamp for me.

The first pop-up book I ever saw. The story was about Floopy's ears, that hung down, instead of standing up. At the end of the book, the foam ears popped right up. Pages in between included a dog's leg on a little spring, a frog's mouth that opened and closed, and actual paints you could paint with on that page. One of my favorite childhood memories!

An ornament I made in 6th grade (that must have been a good year for me). It's made from a cardboard (not styrofoam) egg carton, gesso (a word I learned in art that year - it was a primer paint, I think), gold paint, gold braid, small red ornament (see the gesso that wasn't supposed to be on it?), and a bell.

A hand-made mitten ornament that I received at a party in 7th or 8th grade. It had a mini Hershey bar in it, and a hair clip on the back to hold it to the tree. I've recently gotten back in touch with my friend Sue, who hosted the party. She's a school counselor in Wyoming now.

Christmas Tour - Gingerbread Man

Run, run, as fast as you can.

You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man.

One year I realized I had several gingerbread men on the Christmas tree, including some made by my mother for our kids, so I made a door swag out of them, and hung it up the next year in the kitchen. The original ornaments now are mostly at the kids' houses, and have been replaced, but this is the current manifestation of that swag.

One things leads to another: antique and new posters and gingerbread man tree.

And cookie cutters, of course! Note the cutter on the counter at the left. It was lovingly made by some man for his wife. The thick wooden backing is penciled off in a 1/2" square grid to get the shape correct, and the metal edging that forms the cookie cutter is a Folger's coffee can, shaped around the wood. I love old, hand-made things, and can just imagine the meticulous crafstman who made it, in an earlier time.

Christmas Tour - And More Gingerbread Men


Books, books, and more books. Old, new, talking, fuzzy, braille, Cajun, and Hawaiian Gingerbread Men!

And another puzzle, handmade by another craftsman.

If you come visit, we'll play, read, bake, make ornaments, and I have a few more gingerbread things to share with you. ;-)

Christmas Tour - Mom's Handiwork

My mother was a meticulous artisan with her handiwork for as long as I can remember. She made clothes for us when we were young, and for our Barbie dolls too, as we got older. Here are some examples of her work, and I treasure them.

Crewel work


One of a set of three characters from Pinocchio. She also made a Wizard of Oz set, that one of my siblings has.

More crewel


Christmas Tour - More Handiwork

Second from left is a felt and sequin snowman stocking Mom made for Daniel. She made one for each of the grandchildren's first Christmas. I tried to carry on her tradition, but discovered I do not have her ability with sequins and felt. My grandchildren have had to make do with other types of stockings. Mbs made the top of the left stocking, for John and I. It's a gingerbread man. ;-) The two on the right are Teenager's and Whistle's - needlepoint, but I didn't do those, either. (It isn't quite the same as the original -- the stockings were hung by the cold air vent with care.)

Mom's beaded satin ball - all the rage in the late 60s early 70s.

Dad also was a craftsman. He did photography, glass blowing, and this is his tin punch offering for my gingerbread tree. Both mom and dad tied flies for fishing, and in later years, made beautiful handwoven linens and rugs. I also have some little 'magic carpet' rug samples on the tree. At Christmas time, I miss them so, but am so thankful for the many special holiday memories they made for us. Simple, and often sacrificing, I'm sure.

This sled was made by John and Karleen Crary, one of our childrens' substitute grandparents at church. John made the sled, and Karleen carved and painted the scene. We also miss John at this time of year, but are thankful Karleen is still a part of our lives.

Christmas Tour - These are a few . . .

These are a few of our favorite things . . .

Christmas Village - Liz has a large set, and Teenager missed them so much when she took them to her new home. This year we found her some houses of her own. The trees are more old candles, which arrived today from mbs. Teenager thought her village needed them as soon as she saw them.

Old Christmas candles - Sacony or Standard Oil, Tavern and Gurley. I *think* many of these were premiums with gasoline purchases, made from oil byproducts. Why, oh why, didn't I listen better when my mother tried to tell me these things!

Christmas books in an old fruit box that says Season's Greetings. I don't remember it from my youth, but my parents did have it in later years.

Several of our ornaments were made by an elderly lady in our area. I would see her (and them) at craft fairs, and for several years, bought them - one for each of our children. This lady was nearly deaf, and told me she worked on them all year long. I always loved them for her bright ideas, delicate craftsmanship, and detail. The beard and fur on this ornament are little tiny strings of the material that she worked with. After many years of one ornament per child each year, I finally realized that I should by one for us, too, as they take their ornaments when they leave home!

This is granddaughter E's favorite thing. When she visits - she goes straight to the kitchen window seat, and these blocks on the window sill. The other day she asked me if she could play with them by saying, "Grandma, I'll put them back!" It would help her put them back *right* if she could spell. Sometimes they're stacked straight up, and she was happy that she could see them from the end of the driveway. (Her sister likes to play with the Little People nativity, and sometimes when she leaves it looks like those figures are playing ring-around-the-rosey.)

Christmas Tour - And a few more . . .

These are a few more of our favorite things . . .

An undated copy of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - words and illustrations, without music. Lovely!

One of a set of 'natural' handmade ornaments - the base of each angel is a shell, seed pod, milkweed pod or the like. Beautiful in their simplicity. Another craft fair find - from the years when I actually went to craft fairs!

From our Nebraska years when the kids were young, and the Smurfs were popular. I considered getting rid of these once, but hung on to them, and they're back on the tree now. Isn't that how antiques are made? ;-) How many of you have Smurfs on your tree?

An old wired ornament that's new to me. Don't I have a lovely sister, who is so good to me?!

One year when I worked as a special ed teacher's aide (one of only two years that I worked away from home), I received this as a gift from a group called Moms in Touch. They are a group of mothers who meet weekly, to pray for the teachers and students at school. The paper tag is a little poem. Every year, I think of those Moms faithfully praying for us, as we worked with their students. It reminds me to be more prayerful for others.

Christmas Tour - Thanks for coming!

Thank you all for touring. Please come in person so we can share some Christmas tea and cookies with you! We'd love to have you all stop by for a visit.

I realized after the fact that none of these pictures posted are the cropped, edited, brightened version. My apologies - I hope they are viewable for you.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas (Eve)!

It's Christmas Eve, and Whistle has visions of sugar plums dancing in his head (or at least he might, if only he knew of sugar plums). Hugger and Teenager are building with Magnetix on the floor, while It's a Wonderful Life shows on the TV. Father is nearby. Earlier tonight, we had our traditional supper of meat/cheese/crackers, cheese balls, other snacks, and cookies. This year, we shared it with 'Aunt Marjory,' and we watched the Amazing Grace DVD.

Over the weekend, all the married kids were home, and we celebrated Christmas together on Saturday evening, and attended church services together on Sunday morning. What a blessing that was! Six children, 3 spouses, four precious granddaughters, and Victor and Elaine (sister and brother-in-law) and two of their sons, also! The weekend was great fun, and in comparison, tonight and tomorrow will be quieter.

All is good. It's. All. Wonderful.

And His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Have a blessed day with your family and friends.

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Kind of Christmas!

Your Christmas is Most Like: A Very Brady Christmas

For you, it's all about sharing times with family.

Even if you all get a bit cheesy at times.

Hanukkah Confusion

In this house, we celebrate Christmas. It's obvious our children and grandchildren are learning (?) about Hanukkah elsewere.

C. and Whistle are playing in the living room. He's looking for his harmonica.
She said, "It has 8 candles, right?"

And . . . Whistle was singing in the car:

da da da da Hanukkah,
la la la la Hanukkah,
ma ma ma ma Hanukkah,
da da da da Hanukkah!

bo bo doe doe Hanukkah
le la le la Hanukkah
jaa jaa jaa jaa Hanukkah
fe fa fe fa Hanukkah.

me me da da Hanukkah
jaa jaa kaa kaa Hanukkah
so so la la Hanukkah
re ma re ma Hanukkah.

va va va va Hanukkah
le la le ma Hanukkah
ta ta ta ta Hanukkah
rah rah rah rah Hanukkah.

Repeat infinitely, changing the syllables however you wish. That's what he does!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Waiting for Baby Jesus

Will the Christ Child Come?

By Gaye Willis

Juneau, Alaska

One Christmas we had an interesting experience that I would like to share. Halfway through December we were doing the regular evening things when there was a knock at the door. We opened it to find a small package with a beautiful ceramic lamb inside. We looked at the calendar and realized that the 12 days of Christmas were beginning! We waited excitedly for the next night's surprise and only then, with the gift of a matching shepherd, did we realized that the lamb was part of a nativity set.

Each night we grew more excited to see what piece we would receive. Each was exquisitely beautiful. The kids kept trying to catch the givers as we slowly built the scene at the manager and began to focus on Christ's birth.

On Christmas Eve, all the pieces were in place, but the baby Jesus. My 12 year-old son really wanted to catch our benefactors and began to devise all kinds of ways to trap them. He ate his dinner in the mini-van watching and waiting, but no one came.

Finally we called him in to go through our family's Christmas Eve traditions. But before the kids went to bed we checked the front step -- No Baby Jesus! We began to worry that my son had scared them off.

My husband suggested that maybe they dropped the Jesus and there wouldn't be anything coming. Somehow something was missing that Christmas Eve. There was a feeling that things weren't complete. The kids went to bed and I put out Christmas, but before I went to bed I again checked to see if the Jesus had come -- no, the doorstep was empty.

In our family the kids can open their stockings when they want to, but they have to wait to open any presents until Dad wakes up. So one by one they woke up very early and I also woke up to watch them. Even before they opened their stockings, each child checked to see if perhaps during the night the baby Jesus had come. Missing that piece of the set seemed to have an odd effect. At least it changed my focus. I knew there were presents under the tree for me and I was excited to watch the children open their gifts, but first on my mind was the feeling of waiting for the ceramic Christ Child.

We had opened just about all of the presents when one of the children found one more for me buried deep beneath the limbs of the tree. He handed me a small package from my former visiting teaching companion. This sister was somewhat less-active in the church. I had been her visiting teacher for a couple of years and then, when she was asked to be a visiting teacher, she requested to go with me. I had learned over time they didn't have much for Christmas, so that their focus was the children. It sounded like she didn't get many gifts to open, so I had always given her a small package--new dish towels, the next year's Relief Society lesson manual--not much, but something for her to open. I was touched when at Church on the day before Christmas, she had given me this small package, saying it was just a token of her love and appreciation.

As I took off the bow, I remembered my friendship with her and was filled with gratitude for knowing her and for her kindness and sacrifice In this year giving me a gift. But as the paper fell away, I began to tremble and cry. There in the small brown box was the baby Jesus. He had come! I realized on that Christmas Day that Christ will come into our lives in ways that we don't expect. The spirit of Christ comes into our hearts as we serve one another. We had waited and watched for him to come, expecting the dramatic "knock at the door and scurrying of feet" but he came in a small, simple package that represented service friendship, gratitude, and love.

This experience taught me that the beginning of the true spirit of Christmas comes as we open our hearts and actively focus on the Savior. But we will most likely find him in the small and simple acts of love, friendship and service that we give to each other. This Christmas I want to feel again the joy of knowing that Christ is in our home. I want to focus on loving and serving. More than that I want to open my heart to him all year that I may see him again.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Medley

I Am Prancer

We are in the Christmas Spirit at this house! We've decorated, shopped, shared, given, and feel very blessed. I'm enjoying seeing family traditions being carried on by Teenager, and also into the next generation: the granddaughters. I've thought of many things I'd like to share here -- we'll see how it goes in the next few days.

Today we hosted a brunch/cookie exchange. The weather outside was not exactly frightful, but not good either -- new snow and a forecast of more heavy snow. Some didn't venture out, but we had a good time with those who made it. (My camera was lying on the counter, but I didn't think to take any pictures.) It was a beautiful morning, with snow falling outside the window, french vanilla coffee and scents of orange and cinnamon in the house. We played a game related to the story of The Gingerbread Man, and guests ended up with a gingerbread man item to take home with them - a magnet, cookie cutter, hand towel, or serving plate. After a leisurely breakfast, we walked round and round the cookie table, filling our trays with samples of all the cookie varieties: oatmeal chocolate chip, cut-out decorated sugar cookies, chocolate macadamias, Mexican wedding cookies, and others. Each one left with a gingerbread man or woman ornament for their own tree, and we will enjoy the memories of a nice morning with friends.

For fun on today's holiday post, What kind of reindeer are you?

You Are Prancer

You are the perfect reindeer, with perfect hooves and perfect flying form.

Why You're Naughty: Because you're Santa's pet, and you won't let anyone show you up.

Why You're Nice: You have the softest fur and the sweetest carrot breath.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Ice Storm - The Not So Pretty Side

Split trees and limbs down at the church.

New trees planted last year, under pressure from the ice.

Evergreens in the old fence line, bowing under the ice, also.

Ice Storm - The Pretty Side

Just outside our bedroom window.


God's handiwork

Snow Days!

Need a Snow Day?

We are in the midst of an ice storm, so the kids are home from school today. Do you want to make snowflakes with us? Click on the banner above, and make virtual snowflakes! When you see the falling snow scene after you make your own flake, click on the small snowflakes, and see what others have made. Some are very detailed and beautiful. :-)