Wednesday, December 29, 2010


My youngest daughter celebrated her 28th birthday today. It seems like only yesterday when she was born during an icy winter storm in, of all places, El Paso, Texas. We had just moved there two months before, returning from a three year military tour in Germany.
28 years. Where did the time go?
My youngest was always a Mama's girl. She stuck to me like glue when she was little, but became a little social butterfly once she started school.
She loved her naptimes. I would pick her up from school and she was still rubbing the sleepiness out of her eyes. Even in high school, she would come home in the afternoons and take a little nap.
Now, as a full-time mother of two, she could definitely use a nap every now and then, especially with baby #3 on the way.
But she loves being a Mommy. She wouldn't have it any other way.

God bless all of our daughters.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Child's Manger

My two- year old grandson has been fascinated with my little manger. When I first put it on display he would constantly rotate the figurines around. I let him play with my child-size Nativity, and so far he hasn't broken any of the characters. He was curious. He'd bring them to me, one by one, and ask,
"What is this?"
"The Wise Man."
"What is this?"
"The shepherd boy."
What is this?"
"Mary, Jesus' Mommy."
"What is this?" he asked, as he carried the tiny Jesus, cupped in his little hand.
"Baby Jesus."

But today took the cake. He put one of the Wise Man in his toy police car. I wish that I had taken a picture:).

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Going Where?

My daughter shared this cute story about my six-year old granddaughter on her Facebook page.

Erika was reading the Nativity story to her little sister. My daughter laughed when she heard her read about Mary and Joseph and how  "they had to travel to Birmingham".

It made me smile.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trees of Christmases Past

This was our Christmas tree from 1980. We were living in Germany. My oldest was seven months old, so this was her very first Christmas. We only had one car at the time, so I was a real stay-at-home Mom. I learned how to sew and crochet and made these homemade ornaments just in time for Christmas. I missed my family, but we made some good friends in our apartment building.

This was Christmas 1986. My youngest daughter (pictured here) was four years old. Our living room was warm and cozy, and I especially loved the stone fireplace in our little rental house.

We had moved into our new house by the time this picture was taken in the late 1980's. I was in a country decorating phase. Notice the ruffled curtains in the background. Even if I don't write on the back of my photos I can identify the time period by the decor.

I think that this one was taken the following year (same curtains).

My Victorian Christmas tree.

Christmas at my mother's house. Our family always got together on Christmas Eve. She would make her famous Potato Salad and Bratwurst, along with assorted cold cuts and rye bread. There was always a Stollen, a traditional German bread, and of course, Christmas cookies.

Christmas, 2005
I paid $5.00 for this little tree on clearance the year before.

An old-fashioned Christmas tree, 2009.  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Other Wise Man

From my postcard collection
One of my favorite Christmas stories is "The Story of the Other Wise Man" by Henry Van Dyke. I first read this story many, many years ago when my parents bought me a small book of short works by this Presbyterian minister. I had no idea who he was, but I loved the stories in this little pocket-sized book.
Artaban, the fourth Magi, is a man of forty when he begins his quest to find the Messiah, the King of the Jews. For years he is on this journey, but his travels do not bring him any closer to his King. Instead, he uses his wealth to feed the hungry, to heal the sick, and clothe the naked. The jewels that he had set aside for the Messiah are used to help ordinary people in need. Many years pass by, and Artaban is now an old man. He has yet to see the face of his King,  Finally, thirty-three years from the time he began his quest, he meets his King.
"Three-and- thirty years have I looked for thee; but I have never seen thy face, nor ministered to thee, my King."
And Artaban hears the words from his King, faint and far away:
"Verily I say unto thee, Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me."
He had found Him, at last.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Long-Ago Christmas

During the first six years of my life I lived in Germany with "Oma," which is what I called my grandmother. We lived in a tiny, picturesque village in a cozy duplex apartment. It was a hilly village and I remember walking down the steep roads with Oma to visit the butcher or baker. At night we could look across our berg and see the twinkling of lights from houses dotting the hillsides, surrounded by thick, wooded forests. At Christmastime, when the landscape was covered in snow,  it was especially picture-postcard pretty.
Oma would start the Christmas preparations in early December, by baking spicy Lebkuchen and the traditional German Christmas bread, Stollen. Everything was then wrapped and put away until Christmas. A freshly cut tree would be brought in on Christmas Eve and set up on a table in one of the two bedrooms. My grandmother, who had lived through two wars, never wasted anything, so wrapping tissue was carefully folded and saved for another use. I usually received a new sweater and mittens, a woolen hat, and other warm clothing. The winters in Germany could get bitterly cold and we stayed warm with the wood stove in the kitchen. Besides clothes, I would also  receive a doll or toy and a bar of Swiss chocolate. What I really adored, however, were oranges. They were a real treat. We didn't have them at any other time of the year.

I remember the excitement of waiting for Christmas and wondering if St. Nicholas would make an appearance. My uncle would often scare us with his loud footsteps and his gruff "Ho-Ho-Ho's". Oma always disappeared around that time, and it was only later that we discovered who played the role of St. Nicholas.
The church bells would ring on Christmas Eve, and we could hear the footsteps of people crunching through the snow, on their way to midnight  Mass. Tucked into bed on a cold and wintry night, underneath the featherbeds, it was truly a 'Silent Night, Holy Night.'