Merry Christmas To You
It’s early, barely past twilight, and it’s Christmas. I’ve been awake for a couple hours now even though bedtime came late last night.
Christmas is here, the celebration of our Savior’s birth. The little baby whose bed was a manger on that cold star-filled night. Little did he know what was to lie ahead for him. Then again, maybe he did.
This has been the most amazing Christmas ever. Our girls are here and still snuggled tight under the covers fast asleep. I’d love to get a picture of them, but I don’t feel like getting killed today. 🙂 Stockings are filled, and I’m simply biding time with this little post before I start cooking breakfast and have to wake everyone.
I wish every one of you the merriest of Christmases, spent with good friends and family.
And Happy Birthday, Jesus.
A Christmas Vacation
“The most enduring traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin. Thith tree is a thymbol of the thspirit of the Griswold family Chrithmath.”
~Clark W. Griswold
“Where ya gonna put a tree that big, Griswold?”
“Bend over and I’ll show you.”
My daughter and I are literally obsessed with the movie Christmas Vacation. I’m definitely not the best at remembering some of the quotes, but my girl can pull one out of
her the air with absolutely no notice in less than a fraction of a second.
“You surprised to see us, Clark?”
“Oh, Eddie… If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now…”
Now I don’t mean to toot my own horn here, but this kid of mine is a huge pile of awesomeness. Seriously. Just when I thought her awesomeness couldn’t get any more awesome, last night she sends me this picture of a sweater she made for an ‘Ugly Sweater’ Christmas party she was attending. In true Christmas Vacation fashion. (Did I mention the fact that she made it?)
“They had to replace my metal plate with a plastic one. Every time Catherine revved up the microwave, I’d piss my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour or so.”
This kid could take table scraps and turn them into the most fabulous Cinderella gown you’ve ever seen. Just like clockwork, her Christmas Vacation quotes start annually around October 1st. She still has that same laugh as when she was a baby, and gets a big rise out of making others laugh. And hey, who couldn’t use a little hilarity in a
sometimes often stressful season?
“Oh, I was just smelling – smiling. I was just blouse – browsing. I, uh, heh heh. Well, I guess it just wouldn’t… Oh hee hee, it wouldn’t be the Christmas shopping season if the stores were any less hooter than they – HOTTER than they are. Whew. It is warm in here, isn’t it?”
She’s gonna shoot me for posting this, but see, I just can’t help myself. Now I’m getting all nostalgic in typical Clark-fashion. Seems like it was only yesterday when I dipped her in the ocean for the very first time… yeah, just like yesterday…
“Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?”
“Naw, I’m doing just fine, Clark.”
Mele Kalikimaka to you all!
Christmas in Boogertown
It’s very entertaining to me to learn the nickname of the area I now live is called ‘Boogertown’. When I first saw it listed that as my location on social networking sites, I honestly thought it was a joke. It’s not! Well, it’s probably a pretty good joke for the people to the north of us. 🙂
It’s true – I live in Boogertown. Hey, at least I’m outside the city limits.
I’m just about ready for the Christmas holidays to be upon us, good thing because it’s happening quickly. I got about the best news ever last night when Keith confirmed that his daughter will be here for Christmas – that means we’ll have BOTH our daughters home for the Holidays! We’re so excited about it, you just can’t get any better than to have your kids together at home on the most important holiday (to me, anyway) of the year. My own family gets together and celebrates on Christmas Eve – my mother, her husband, uncle and aunts – and Christmas Eve will be held here at our house this year. (Did I mention we’ll also have our daughters with us this year?)
We’re already hot on the planning of the Christmas Eve menu. So far I have on the roster a turkey breast, dressing, meatballs, broccoli casserole, cranberries, my Mom’s most famous potato salad, a cheeseball, and many many other delectable goodies. My family will open up presents to each on the Eve, then later in the evening when everyone leaves we’ll all four have a family Christmas with our girls. The fire will be going, Christmas carols on, the lights outside twinkling. Christmas morning Keith and I will get up and cook our special breakfast, and let the girls sort through their stockings full of goodies. After that, we’ll pack up the car to head to Keith’s sister’s house for his side of the family’s Christmas. Just the mere thought of it all is so very magical to me – I already know it’s going to be a Christmas we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.
What have you all got planned for the Christmas holiday? ♥
Have yourself a merry little Christmas…
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head
The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay
The cattle are lowing, the poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my side ’til morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever and love me I pray
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And take us to heaven to live with Thee there
No, I didn’t write it. But how tender a person that did! It all but takes you right up ON that manger, doesn’t it? An almost secret view, if you will. My most favorite Christmas hymn has always been O Holy Night… but the lyrics to Away in a Manger are probably the most meaningful to me of all the Christmas hymns.
This year I hope Christmas brings peace, tranquility and much love into the souls of us all. May everyone enjoy and appreciate good family and friends. May we all secretly do one special thing for another this year and sit back and contemplate the smile it might bring. May any sadness that exists within your heart be overridden with joy. May everyone share an abundantly overflowing cup of love this Christmas.
And above all… always remember that little baby who started out laying in a manger.
The One who started…
A Real Country Christmas
I received the below story via email this morning. The preface warned that the story was a little on the long side, and it is – but a great read nonetheless. I found the story not only moved me to tears, but more than worthy of posting as a blog subject. Hope you all enjoy.
Now this is what a country Christmas is all about…
Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.
It was Christmas Eve. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.
After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.
Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn’t know what.
Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.” The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.
After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood – the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I asked. “Pa, what are you doing?” “You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I’d been by, but so what? Yeah,” I said, “Why?”
“I rode by just today,” Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.” That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. “What’s in the little sack?” I asked. “Shoes, they’re out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy.”
We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.
We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?”
“Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?” Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.
“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children – sturdy shoes, the best – shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.
“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” Pa said. He turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.” I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.
I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”
In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.
Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.
Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn’t want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.
At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We’ll be by to get you about eleven. It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.
Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles. I don’t have to say, May the Lord bless you; I know for certain that He will.”
Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children.
For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best and most memorable Christmas of my life.
My wish for you all is to have a real country Christmas! It is, after all, what we do for others that makes CHRISTmas such a wonderful blessing…
Christmas, weekend and beach thinking
In reverse order.
The Christmas season has officially begun for most, but for some reason my mind seems to remain stuck on a warm, tropical setting. Instead of Christmas shopping this weekend, I’d rather be packing for a several-day stint at the beach for New Years. I can’t get it off my mind, and anxiously await the week before to at least see how the weather’s looking for the New Year.
I’m going to give my best attempt at finishing my Christmas shopping this weekend. I’m sure they’re will be a few extras to get next week, but even getting the majority done will be a huge relief. In the meantime, I’ll catch a few new oceanic documentaries that my love dvr’d recently for our viewing enjoyment. Uh-oh, here comes that tropical feeling creeping ’round again…
The weekend is over, and back to reality we go. I probably haven’t gotten this much rest over a weekend since, well – ever. I forecasted exactly this type of weekend for ole’ Bon, and it’s truly been appreciated.
Saturday night we braved the crowds at Christmastown, USA – aka McAdenville, North Carolina. People come from out of state to see the former little ‘mill-town’ that has been decorating for 55 years now. There’s a certain way visitors need to enter in order not to sit in 2-hour or more traffic – the likes of which our hearts literally broke looking at on the way out. Since so many people do come from abroad, the interstate (I-85) is jammed up way past the Lowell-McAdenville exit. The most efficient route is to turn left from (I-485) Wilkinson Blvd. exit, and enter the Christmas lights to the right.
Later that night, we made our New Year reservations at the beach again. I can only describe last year as magical, and I can’t imagine anything less this year. Fluorescent armbands/headbands and adult beverages shall adorn the balcony, errr beach, whichever mother nature chooses to allow. It’s an awesome hotel, the rates being SO affordable out of season – and only 2 blocks from a very cool pier. I have a genuine feeling that it’s gonna be awesome, no matter what the weather holds.
I decorated a couple of trees at work Friday. Yeah, they’re only about a foot tall each, but they serve the purpose. Gotta usher in the ole’ Christmas spirit to the office one way or the other!
Hope everyone has a happy, warm and blessed week. 🙂