Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

This was our eighth year seeing A Christmas Carol performed as a one-man show by Gerald Charles Dickens, great, great grandson of you can guess. It is a fantastic show every time we see it. Mr. Dickens performs all the characters and each one is different, and they even hold conversations. His performance is brilliance. Physically, vocally, emotionally. I literally laugh and cry each year.

This has been a tradition since Bearpaw first gave us tickets in 2011. He saw the play in 2010 and thought we would enjoy it. Clearly we do. A Christmas Carol is in my top three Christmas tales, and I love having shared this live, theatrical experience with my sons. Thank you again, Mr. Dickens!


Bear getting an autograph…

And these are some of my favorite pictures of the boys with Bearpaw. They were taken in 2014, the last time we saw it with Bearpaw.

And even though I always miss Bearpaw a little bit more at this time of year, I celebrate his memory when I remember to “Come in and know me better, man”.

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Every year our sons have had the same Christmas Eve traditions. Candlelight service at church. New last year was Older Son as Joseph. Then at home  they would spread reindeer food on the lawn, get in their PJs, sit on the couch with Hubby and listen to “A Visit with Saint Nicholas”. Then, they’d put out cookies and milk on the “Santa china”. Finally, pictures were taken next to their empty stockings and they’d scurry down the hall to bed. 

Younger Son had his last Christmas knowing Santa the first way one knows Santa. Both boys moved to the next level of knowing Santa at the age of eleven. The key was the fact that Santa brought presents and the tree. When they were quite young there were no questions. As they got older and heard the rumors at school, they figured there was no way we could hide a tree.

But they are 14 and 12. Older Son embraced the new way of knowing Santa at 11 and helped his brother get to 11 too.

​This year our sons began new Christmas Eve traditions. Candlelight service at church. Again this year Older Son was Joseph. Then at home  they helped decorate the tree while watching A Christmas Story, then sat on the couch with Hubby and listened to “A Visit with Saint Nicholas”. They put out cookies and milk on the “Santa china”. Each opened one present. Finally, pictures were taken next to their empty stockings. And pictures next to Krampus, another new tradition.

Older Son walked down the hall to bed. Younger Son walked downstairs to bed.

These changes are why I keep Christmas past, present, and future in my heart.

Happy Christmas to y’all and to y’all a good night. 

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Ah, Christmas time…this has been a hell of a year. I will write the cliche…each year passes more quickly than the last. And this year has flown byat times and dragged on forever at other times. Actually, not quite dragged on, more like stood still. I have been very aware of the human construct of time this year… particularly the American construct of time. And I’ve ignored it a lot this year.

I am letting myself enjoy the Christmas season. It officially kicked off for me last Saturday. The sons joined me at A Christmas Carol again. Sixth time? Seventh? Can never seem to remember. We had a Christmas event at church…a lovely night of song. This weekend is filled with plans to celebrate with new friends, friends from high school, and dear old friends to wrap up the weekend! 

Working on my home. Removing the old crappy broken subfloor and installing new subfloor/flooring downstairs for Younger Son. The fourth bedroom is downstairs (1970s split level houses…gotta love ’em) and it’s the same size as Older Son’s room. So Younger Son will have the same space, although the extra space (compared to his bedroom upstairs) comes in the form of a two-feet deep closet that spans an entire wall. So dressers, shelves, etc. go in the closet opening up the space.

And decluttering continues because damn, we have a lot of junk. It feels great to purge, purge, and purge some more. I’ve added some pictures to the wall. Reorganized stuff. It all feels good.

I’m still struggling with my faith. Still grieving my brother. Still hating suicide. Still trying to reconcile how his suicide makes any sense, which it doesn’t is all I can come up with. Still releasing years of emotional crap loaded into and onto me by my mother and sister and have disowned me. I am finally really accepting how little my life has changed now that they told me I was evil and would be burning in hell for my choices. While it’s been painful to realize how many lies there were, I can’t say I’ve missed the three texts they usually sent in the course of a year. It is sad that they think they’ve ended some deep, close relationship. Three texts a year does not a relationship make.

So as I move away from the pain, work through the grief, I find I am getting lighter. 

The lights and decorations look brighter, more sparkly than before. I’m feeling the joy wash over me.

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What a wonderful holiday celebration in our home over the past few days.  Christmas Eve service was beautiful.  A lovely change was instead of singing “Silent Night” our wonderful minister of music played it on the harp.  Breathtaking to hear such beautiful music in the glow of over one hundred candles.

Santa finally left our home at 3:30.  My sons woke us up at 4:15.  Yes, you read that correctly.  We’re still recovering.  The boys loved their presents.  Our youngest really loves his bike.  The oldest is somewhat reserved about his bike because there are no training wheels.  He’ll get there.  It’s time for him to learn this skill.  It was simply a morning filled with happiness, love, and laughter.  Cinnamon rolls for breakfast, nibbling on candies and cookies throughout the day.  The house was cleaner than I usually manage.  The coffee table had the cheese, crackers, and cheese ball, plus the pretzels with the Hershey kisses with the M&M’s goodies.  The chess table had candies and a platter of cookies. The dining room table had both leaves in it decorated with festive holiday settings.  I even remembered to light the candles in the wall sconces and the “Believe” Nativity candle holder.

Then for several hours our home was filled with family enjoying the food, the festivity of the season, and whiskey sours and cosmopolitans.  Life was good.

The boys were exhausted but wouldn’t take naps…or so I thought until I found our youngest snug-as-a-bug in his bed, sound asleep.

Laughter filled the rooms.  Good aromas filled the air.  Yummy food filled the tummies.  A Christmas Story played over and over in the background. The very old dog even got some turkey brought down to him as a special “we’ll pretend you’re not diabetic” treat.  I happily stayed up washing dishes so I wouldn’t face them in the morning to keep the feeling going.

Another fun-filled evening at my folks’ house this evening with more laughter and love.

Tomorrow night my brother-in-law and his lovely wife will be over for the “left-overs” dinner.  But it’s not just left-over food in my house.  The vibrant memories are still lingering within the walls of our home.

‘Tis the season to be jolly and joyous, fa-la-la!

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Fair warning…I am writing about Christmas.  If you do not celebrate this holiday, I am not writing this to offend you, but merely to exercise my right to be a Christian and celebrate my faith.  So if it bothers you when a Christian uses her right to freedom of religion now is a good time to stop reading so you don’t get angry at me.

That said-we watched Muppet Christmas Carol twice today.  I’m watching the Monk Christmas episodes and will begin baking cookies very soon.  Tomorrow evening we’ll go to church for the Christmas Eve service.  It’s one of my favorite services of the year.  During the minutes when the church is lit only by candles and we sing “Silent Night” I am filled with a feeling like no other.  When we get home, the boys will listen to Scott read the “Night Before Christmas” and I’ll take their picture next to the empty stockings.  They’ll be tucked into bed and then the fun really begins.

As Santa works, he always watches the marathon of A Christmas Story.  After about the fourth go-around, he gets to go to bed.  This year Santa tagged everything in advance so perhaps Santa will only see the movie three times before collapsing into bed.  Last thing Santa does before falling into bed is adding the baby Jesus to the Nativity set.  The Wise Men don’t come out till Epiphany so they still get to hang out for a couple of weeks.

One of the things I love about this time of year is the wonderful sense of antici…pation.  I love reflecting on the birth of Jesus.  With the birth of each of my sons I was completely overwhelmed with emotion, thoughts, questions, answers.  My entire world changed.  How must it have felt to give birth to the Savior?  I cannot fathom.  The strength and faith that resided within Mary are levels that I will most likely never have, but I try.  The whole concept of grace and parenting fills my daily thoughts.  To let your child grow into his own potential.  To provide guidance, support, and respect so he knows he can figure out who he is and make good choices.  To fill his days with love and faith and grace.  To help him make the memories that will shape his future.  Oh, the joy of parenting is heightened at this time of year.  The anticipation I felt with each pregnancy, wondering if the baby would be a boy or girl, wondering what the baby would look like.  This time of year always brings back those memories as I think about the anticipation Mary must have felt.  Every mother feels it, but I would presume it may have been heightened for her.

And the anticipation in the children is fantastic.  It’s harder to focus on some things, but their focus on waiting for Christmas morning is solid.  While this young, more of the focus does fall to the big guy in red, but the moments my sons have shared with me as they have thought about the birth of Jesus warm my heart.  They have asked more detail questions this year than previous years.  They’ve wondered if it was warm or cold, what kinds of animals were there, how long did it take the Wise Men to get there, why did they bring gifts, is that why we get gifts, so many questions.  I answer as best as I can.  The only thing I do is try to not destroy their sense of wonder.

May your Christmas celebration be filled with the love Mary and Joseph felt that wonderful day.  May the spirit of God fill your heart and soul.  May you make beautiful memories with your families and friends.  Happy Christmas!

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Our sons have been resisting a certain fast-food chain in exchange for $10 a week to spend on Jurassic Park toys on ebay.  They went two weeks the first time and then went three weeks the second time.  Today was the end of the three weeks.  Onto ebay we went to search for a command compound.  Well, we found a lot of 60 JP toys for a reasonable amount that to them seemed huge.  The boys wished we had that much money hanging around.

So, we grasped the teachable moment.  We told them together they had $60.  That left quite a balance.  We had a long family discussion about their options from the Bank of Mom & Dad.  We explained what credit is, the conditions of repayment, and what happens if they don’t pay it back.  The two boys deliberated, asked what types of chores would be involved as Jurassic Park chores, and discussed it back and forth for a long time (for an eight and six year old).

They decided to buy on credit from the Bank of Mom & Dad.

They shook on the deal.

They stood on either side of me as I clicked “Buy It Now.”

They cheered!

They are now the proud owners of 6 JP vehicles, 3 T-rexes, about 20 dinosaurs (many with sounds or actions), about 20 action figures, a motorcycle, a fence compound with classic JP gates, and a Chaos Effect mobile command center.  They each grabbed a juice box and toasted their investment.  Then, being young boys, they began divvying up the toys.

They are now in bed, having difficulty falling asleep because it feels quite a bit like Christmas…except they paid for the toys.  The older son came out to ask if he could read a story to his brother to help him fall asleep.  He grabbed the big blue book (it’s a big thick book of children’s literature…same one I had growing up…a gift from my mom).   As I eavesdropped on the reading, I heard  “Night Before Christmas” being read.

Their Jurassic Park room just got a lot of cool accessories.  And we hopefully taught them a little something about managing their money and responsibility.

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Tonight we saw A Christmas Carol.  Not just any A Christmas Carol.  This one was adapted from the one-man version that Charles Dickens performed in England and America about 160 years ago.  Tonight it was performed by his great-great-grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens.  The whole story, 28 characters, one man, one and a half hours.  The  boys loved it and laughed throughout the play.  I realized how much this story has been a part of my like, without really ever knowing it.

As this very talented actor made me laugh and cry just a wee bit, I mouthed many of the lines with him.  Scrooge is such a part of  cultural references, not just at Christmas time, but year round.  I suppose this would make Dickens very pleased since Scrooge said he would keep Christmas in his heart year round.  The whole concept of the story as a one-man show is amazing and works because each character is easy to relate to.

Mr. Dickens (the great-great-grandson, not the dead one…Marley was dead to begin with) stays afterward and signs autographs and poses for pictures.

He signed programs for each of the boys, my copy of A Christmas Carol, and even signed the boys’ copy of Muppet Christmas Carol.  A  very charming man and very proud of his heritage.  If he ever comes near your town you really should go see the show.

I will keep Christmas in my heart year round, I will live in the past, present, and future.  Come in, and know me better, man.

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Dreadful to read of people outing Santa as not real.  I believe in him.  I know there are different legends surrounding him, but based on one particular version, why wouldn’t I want to? Who wouldn’t want to believe in a man who is so inspired by the love of God to spread love by giving presents?  If you’re good, you are rewarded.  Hmmm…make good choices, be rewarded for it.  Yes, I can get behind that concept. Make poor choices (or be “bad”), get coal (insinuations of fire and brimstone…interesting concept to ponder one day).

My sons have begun to ask about the big guy in red.  Peer pressure has seeped into their lives faster than the frosting melts into the crevices of a cinnamon roll.  I usually deflect and redirect as needed.  I will never say the words “he’s not real” to them.  No way.  I don’t think my parents ever explicitly told me.  I’m forty-one.  I still listen for the hooves on the roof.

When I was around eight  years old, I really began to doubt.  I was certain he wasn’t real.  Well, when Santa shows up at your front door to ask why you don’t believe in him, it makes you rethink the whole situation.  The pictures truly captured my shock (I wish I had them, but the basement flooded a lot).  I never turned back since that December night.  It was an awesome feeling to see him up close and personal.

My sons and I went to visit Santa at the mall last week (yes, I am aware of how that flies in the face of the big guy in red not being about commercialism).  Santa spent about 20 minutes with my sons.  My youngest made his Jack Nicholson face in one of the shots and one is a classic picture with Santa.  But my favorite picture was taken by the very sweet elf as the boys were just chatting with Santa.

The boys and Santa

I will treasure this picture forever.

The other wonderful thing that happened during this visit was eavesdropping on my sons.  I heard them emphatically tell Santa that even though some of their friends said he isn’t real, they know he is.  They told him they looked all over the house and, I quote, “Mom is good, but she can’t hide a tree in the house.”

Thank goodness Santa brings our tree.  The boys go to sleep with empty stockings hanging on the railing and nothing else.  Come morning, Santa has brought the fully decorated tree, filled the stockings, and left the presents from his sack under the tree.  Santa’s presents aren’t wrapped because he only has to pull them from his sack, so the wrapped presents are from Mom & Dad.

Mom is good, but she can’t hide a tree in the house.

I just hope the boys don’t go in our neighbor’s backyard.


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My six year old said during dinner this evening, “I can’t resist food…it’s just too good.”  Monday night is pizza night.  It used to be on Friday nights, but I don’t mind making dinner on Friday night, I have the time.  Monday night is chaotic, so we switched pizza night.  They truly couldn’t resist.  They polished off their pizza and started attacking the parents’ pizza.  They also ate half the bread sticks.  He was right, he can’t resist.

And now a question.  (It’s an interrogative statement seeking knowledge, but that’s not important right now.) Who is Coupon Suzy and why must she invade my world so often?  They are awful commercials.  Highly annoying lady.

Charlie Brown is on and memories of childhood come flooding in to my mind.  “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest.”   The cartoons of today don’t seem to have the staying power of the old ones.  The classic Christmas shows are on every year, but I don’t know that the Shrek one will last for forty or fifty years of annual showings.

The classic is, of course, The Year without a Santa Claus…Heat Miser and Snow Miser…I’m too much!

The Peanuts gang is tackling some serious issues.  Phobias, depression, the need for real estate, the over-commercialization of holidays.  Plus they pepper it with historical references (the Red Baron, no, not the pizza…Baron Manfred von Richthofen).  You know how they balance all the world pressures?  Their deep appreciation for culture.  I dare you to watch them dancing to Schroeder tickling those ivories and not stand up to join them.  Love the way they dance mostly because I can dance like them.  It’s a very free dance style, when one didn’t care about how one looked while dancing.  It’s like the way Phoebe ran (see the Friends episode).

No matter what religion you have faith in, even if you don’t follow religion, one thing about Christmas-time is universal.  It can bring out each person’s childlike wonder in the world.  It can help each person to remember to simply be nice, every day of the year this is possible, but somehow each year at this season, it seems a little easier to do.  Yeah, it’s the Dickens in me.  Yes, it is a wonderful life.

Winter is a time for shedding the old and looking to the future for a new way.  Perhaps you do live each day in the past, present, and future.  If you do, you can renew your energies during the winter season, flowering in the spring with nature.  If you don’t live each day this way, you can start.  Winter is such a reflective time, the days are shorter and darker and colder.  You can turn inward as you stay indoors.  You can let go of your past yet keep it with you to remind yourself of where you’ve been and where you’re going.  Don’t live for or in the future so much that you miss the moments you are in.  Cherish the present as it truly is a gift.

So as my sons can’t resist pizza, I can’t resist putting my thoughts down, pen to paper, or at least the digital version.  I know most think being called Scrooge is an insult.  But think about it.  Think of how the story ends.  I wouldn’t mind being called Scrooge.  Bah humbug-not to anything-it’s just a fun phrase.


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When did it get to be November?  I feel like I was eating our traditional New Year’s dinner from Lim Fong only yesterday.  Here it is November.  Halloween is packed away, November’s fall decorations are out, and in no time I’ll be putting out the Christmas decorations.  Many toys are on the boys’ lists.   They work on their lists all year, but it gets intense after Halloween.  The sequence is a brief discussion of what costume they want for next year (which will change at least a dozen times) and then it quickly turns to the toys and presents they simply HAVE TO HAVE.

The day after Thanksgiving we will go to the farm and get the office tree.  The boys help us decorate it.  We also pull out the decorations for the waiting room, patient room, and the house.  But upstairs in the living room, there is no tree.  On Christmas Eve, once again, two pajama-clad boys will stand next to their empty stockings.  They will set out cookies and milk using the special “china” .  When they wake up in the morning, there will be a fully decorated tree, filled stockings, and presents all over the floor, spreading out from under the tree.  Santa does an amazing job each year.  He’s really considerate too.  He does the “some assembly required” on the big toys so the boys can start playing with them right away.  Santa doesn’t wrap his presents, just grabs them from his sack.  Mom and Dad do wrap their presents and the boys will tear through the paper, and then try to look excited since Santa gives all the cool presents.

I do love this whole season of holidays…from Halloween through New Year’s.  So wonderfully festive.  But we don’t need the Christmas music yet.  Please…not yet.

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