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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Quiet Times

I’m visiting my son in Seattle. It’s very quiet here. It has been very low key and very nice. Tonight we’re doing an early Christmas. I leave for Portland in the morning and they leave to my daughter-in-law’s parents in California in the evening so presents will be tonight. And maybe a movie.

I like the quiet but I’m missing my little ones too. Apparently, winds back home have taken down a lot of trees and power lines along with them do my neighborhood is without electricity until after 2 pm tomorrow. My daughter and the boys might have to find a motel if it gets too cold tonight. I guess it’s a good time for me to not be home. And our forecast now says snow on Friday!

Tomorrow’s drive home might not be too fun with a lot of rain but I’m looking forward to getting home and getting things for the boys’ stockings and wrapping gifts. Then I’ll be done! I’ve also decided I’m going to the grocery store on Christmas Eve to get myself a birthday cake. I haven’t had one in five or six years. They’ve opted for other desserts after Christmas dinner but this Christmas, my 60th birthday, I am gifting myself a birthday cake!

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Candy Cane Smile

A long time ago, in 1960 to be exact, I was in Kindergarten and it was my turn to take a treat for the class party. There were always three or four of us that had to take something in. We had more parties then. I think we had one for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Lincoln, Washington (this was before they combined their birthdays into Presidents Day), Valentines, Easter, and the last day of school. Lots of parties.

For the Christmas party, it was my turn. There were a lot of us kids at home and my mom didn’t work (most moms didn’t work then) and my dad worked a low paying cannery job. So there wasn’t a lot of money to buy treats for my class. The night before the party, my mom realized she had forgotten to buy something and she didn’t have supplies for cookies or cupcakes. We did, however, have a big package of individually wrapped candy canes so it was decided that I would take candy canes. When it was time to count them out and put them in a bag to take the next morning, my mom noticed that some of the candy canes had ants inside the package. We didn’t have enough of the ones with no ants for my class. There was no money and no time to go get anything else.

My mom decided they would try to get the ants out. She figured out that if she shook them and tapped them gently, she could get the ants to go out the little opening in the package. So there we were, my mom, my brothers, and I, shaking and tapping the candy canes gently to cajole the ants to get out of the package until we had enough for the whole class.

The next day, I took the candy canes to my class and everyone was happy. No one ever knew, outside of our family, about the ants in the candy canes, until now.

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weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee, I would welcome you and offer you some “Christmas coffee” then, as we settled in and got comfortable, I would tell you why we call it Christmas coffee. You see, many years ago, when my kids were growing up, I was the den leader for my son’s Cub Scout den. I had been doing it for three years when I finally got a reliable mom to be a co-leader. It was 1990 and I had the 18 Cub Scouts on alternate Tuesdays and then 22 Girl Scouts on the other Tuesday. I also had a newborn at home. So I sure needed that help. So we came up with ideas for Christmas activities that we could count toward a patch and use as gifts for the parents. One of my favorite stores had closed a few months before and I had bought lots of stuff to put away for crafting. In that load of stuff were thirty-six plastic apothecary jars. I had paid about twenty-five cents each. I then went to Smart & Final (kind of like a Costco on a smaller scale and no membership fee) and bought lots of coffee and cinnamon. My co-leader and I mixed up the coffee with lots of cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg. Then the boys filled the apothecary jars with the coffee, sealed them, tied a ribbon on them and they had red and green paint markers with which they could decorate the jars. Voila! Christmas coffee! So now my family always calls it Christmas coffee!

I would also tell you that Anderson talked me into putting up the little fake tree…it’s four feet tall, white, with lights. He picked it out at Big Lots about three years ago. He really likes it more than big trees and he gets to decorate the whole thing. So we have a tree and my lighted Santa face in the window, lots of paper snowflakes in another window, and a lot of bells! It helps to get and stay in the Christmas spirit. I’ve also been playing Christmas songs and watching some of my favorite Christmas movies. The Christmas Story is on right now.

I think it was last Saturday that I said I wasn’t going on anymore trips for awhile. Well, early tomorrow I leave for Seattle! I will only be there until Tuesday morning so it’s a quick trip to see my son and daughter-in-law before Christmas. I missed seeing them at Thanksgiving so I’m going up for a couple of days. I’ve got all the gifts to wrap and some things for the baby…who won’t arrive until mid May but I’m taking some things now. Wish me luck! It will be raining the whole way up and back down!

What have you been up to? Are you in the Christmas spirit yet? Gifts all settled? I think I finally finished my shopping. Have you watched any Christmas movies? Which is your favorite?

I think I’m calling it short. I have a cup of coffee getting cold and I haven’t touched it yet. And I have to unpack my car from the last trip before I can pack it for tomorrow! Hopefully I can do that between rain showers! No garage and my daughter’s boyfriend’s car is in my covered parking spot (since a year ago July…it was supposed to be there for two weeks!) so any in and out of the car and I get rain soaked!

Tell me about you! I’ll read as I sip my coffee.

For those who visit only on coffee share days, I wish you a wonderful Christmas with family and friends! Come back next Saturday for my first coffee share post of my sixties decade!

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#WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog hop hosted by Diana at Part Time monster...go on over and take a look!

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Once Upon A Time

A long, long time ago, I lived in a neighborhood full of wonderful friends and supportive people. I was the perfect place to bring up a family (well except that it was really close to Los Angeles). I was invited to join a babysitting coop where we babysat each others kids for points that we could cash in when we needed a babysitter. I didn’t usually need a babysitter because we never went anyplace without the kids but I did join, just in case. It was also good for the kids to have other kids over when I babysat once in a while.

One year, as part of the babysitting coop, we decided to have a Christmas party with caroling and then Santa! It was fun to plan and the kids looked forward to it. They didn’t know Santa was coming but they looked forward to the party and to caroling. The question was who would be Santa? None of the dads wanted to do it then my friend, Linda, asked her dad and he said yes! The mom’s knew who Santa was but the kids didn’t. Most of the kids had not met Linda’s dad previously so they didn’t recognize him. It was neat to watch the look on their faces as Santa held them on his lap and took his time with each one of them then handed them a gift (the parents had supplied the gifts for their own children). To see Santa interacting with the kids was a treat, too. You could tell that Santa was truly enjoying his appearance as Santa. The evening was a huge success, mostly because we had such a genuine Santa!

A few days later, Linda and I were talking about how the kids had love her dad as Santa. She said her dad had said that it was the best thing he had ever done…the most special feeling of all!  Later, I was to find that out for myself when I got to play Santa for my kids’ elementary school. And I think one of the reasons I agreed to do it was because I knew from  Linda’s dad that it would be a really great thing to do for the kids…and for me, too!

I won’t ever forget that very special Santa who was not only a perfect Santa but a truly nice man that treated my kids and myself as if we were his family. I miss that Santa. And I won’t ever forget the feeling of friendship and community in that neighborhood where my kids were raised.

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My daughter, Tina, enjoying her time with a very special Santa.

 

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weekendcoffeeshare

 

If we were having coffee this morning, I would bring you into the warmth of my living room. Anderson spent the night and wanted to sleep on the couch instead of in his bed (because he slept on the couch at his other grandma’s house in Tacoma last week and liked it) and he’s currently watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree so we could sit away from the TV and chat a bit.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that today, December 12, is the day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. It was on this day in 1531 that she made her fourth apparition to Juan Diego (a young indigenous boy) and the day on which he delivered the bundle of roses (which were not only out of season in December but also did not grow in Mexico) to the bishop as a sign of a miracle from la virgen de Guadalupe. When Juan Diego put his tilma (a type of shawl worn for warmth) down before the bishop and opened it up, out tumbled the roses, leaving behind the imprint of the virgen de Guadalupe on the tilma. It was then that the bishop agreed to the virgen’s wishes, that a church be built in her name. Today, the Basilica of Guadalupe stands on the site where Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego in Tepeyac. She has great significance for Mexico as a country and for Mexican people all over the world. She is found in just about every home where people of Mexican descent live. She is prayed to for everything, especially for pregnant women, children, and issues having to do with mothers and their children.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that you can find another story associated with Mexico over at Solveig’s blog where I’ve contributed to her Advent Calendar posts with a legend of the poinsettia, which comes from Mexico. Thank you for having me, Solveig.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m glad I don’t have any travel plans for a while. I’m tired. It has been non stop activity of some sort here since summer. Let’s see, road trip to California in August, a trip to the Oregon coast for three days, a trip to Bend for another three days (both in August), then off to Seattle in September. October was a travel-free month. Then November took us on another road trip to southern California for a funeral (seven days). And the latest trip was to Omaha, Nebraska just this last week. Yup! That’s why I am so tired.

I am finally feeling better but still wake up with itchy eyes and some congestion. I am beginning to think it has a lot to do with the kitty. She is a long haired one and leaves her hair all over, including on my face where she like to rub up against me and lick me while I sleep! I hope I am wrong but if I’m not, this kitty might need to find another home. 😦

I’m currently reading a book called In the Heart of the Dark Wood by Billy Coffey. It is a sequel to the last book I read, When Mockingbirds Sing. It is very interesting, so far. I’m hoping to get through it soon so that I can read my traditional Christmas book (traditional since I discovered it in 2010), O Little Town: A Novel by Don Reid, which I highly recommend. What are you reading?  Do you have a favorite Christmas read that you dust off and enjoy every year?

I think I’ll cut it short. Anderson is beckoning. He is working on a jigsaw puzzle that is kind of tough, even for me, and wants some help. Later this morning and afternoon we’re supposed to go to a few Christmas events in the area, if the weather doesn’t wash the day away. We’re in Portland, Oregon where we’ve had A LOT OF RAIN this week! And tonight I have to clear room in the living room to set up a small Christmas tree.

So tell me what is new in your neck of the woods? Books? Movies? Christmas activity and traditions? Do tell!

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#WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog hop hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster. Go see what others are sharing and maybe you will join us?

 

 

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I remember when Christmas was the happiest time for me. It was special, even though we didn’t do anything special.

I remember the secrets and the whispers that I knew were all about presents. I remember piling in the car at night to drive around town looking at Christmas decorations. I remember decorating the Christmas tree and the whole family sitting in the living room night after night enjoying the tree, and each other.

I remember sitting with the rest of the family and watching the same movies each Christmas. White Christmas was a favorite. My sister and I would pretend we were the two sisters in the movie and sing the “Sisters” song, complete with fans and all the movements. So many years ago yet it seems like just a few. It’s A Wonderful Life always made me stop and think, even before I knew what it was all about. I think what I liked about it was the way the whole town came together to take care of the Bailey’s. Then the animated movies: Frosty the Snowman; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; and later, A Charlie Brown Christmas. They are all still favorites and I enjoy sharing them with my grandsons who also enjoy them and this year, Anderson knows the words to some of the songs so even better!

I remember the Christmas parade on the day after Thanksgiving. I always loved parades but this one was special because at the end of the parade, there was a Christmas program at the Civic Auditorium, where the parade ended. At the end of the program, those of us that had the special tickets given out by the church and the schools, would line up and we would get a wrapped toy to put under the tree. It made me feel so special to be a part of the group that got to go to the front of the auditorium and line up in the right line (by age and gender). Not everyone got to do that!

I remember writing out all the Christmas cards my parents sent out and keeping a list of the ones we got from other people. My mom was too busy and she said my handwriting was better so I got the list of people and addresses and wrote them out and addressed them to the people that had sent one the previous year. It made me feel so grown up. I think I started doing it when I as in about fourth grade!

I remember my dad putting on Christmas carols on our stereo that was one of the components in out cabinet TV in the living room. And when in the car, that was what we listened to. I remember singing along and being so proud that I could sing along with Adeste Fideles, which I thought was one of the best Christmas carols. My favorite, Silent Night, I learned in Spanish, too…Noche de paz…such a beautiful song in any language.

I remember the Christmas candy in the glass jar that was there “just to look pretty” until it got close to Christmas and we got to eat one each day! I remember my dad making candy for us but that’s memory I’ll share later as it’s a “dad memory” and because he just passed in May, I have a special place for those memories. I remember the boxes of food that the people from the church would bring us that made it possible for us to have delicious meals for the holiday. Sometimes we would get boxes from the school, too. With such a large family (there were nine of us) we always used every bit of the food they brought to us.

I remember later Christmases, when we had my uncle living nearby and we had gotten a little older. On Christmas Eve we would all get together and make tamales. It was fun, not just because we knew there was delicious food at the end of the night but because we were all together and we laughed and sang and talked. The grownups would drink beer and the kids would get to drink soda, which was not common in our house so sodas were special to us. I think the most special part was that we were all together, at least to me.

I remember Christmases when my eyes sparkled just like the lights on the tree and my voice jingled with carols. I remember Christmas when there was wonder in my mind and joy in my heart. I remember Christmas when we were all together and that was enough to make it special.

I remember Christmas.

 

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Stille Nacht, or better known to most of us as Silent Night, was first sung on Christmas Eve in a St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria in 1818.  The lyrics were written by John Mohr, a young priest.  He had written the lyrics in 1816 but hand no music to go with the lyrics.  In 1818, he took the lyrics to Franz Xavier Gruber who was a schoolmaster and organist in a nearby village and asked him to compose the music to go with the lyrics.  Both Gruber and Mohr performed the Christmas carol on guitar at the church that December 24th.

Since then, it has been translated into 140 languages and recorded by countless artists.  It is said that it is the one song that American, German, and French troops could sing together during the Christmas truces of World War I in 1914 because it was the one song they all knew the lyrics to in their own language.  I’m thinking that must have been some awfully inspirational sight and sound, out in the middle of battlefields, all those soldiers stopping their fighting, putting their guns away and singing together.

It’s one of my favorite Christmas carols.  To me, the lyrics and the serenity of the music are what the Christmas season should be about.

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healthy Christmas season. This cold has to go away soon. I’m hoping only a day or so more of it. Wednesday has me traveling again…this time going to check out Omaha. When we get back, it will be right into the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season which is my favorite time of year. And with two little boys with big eyes and bigger wishes, it should be a fun year. So yeah, that’s what I want…a healthy Christmas season so I can participate the way I want to.

This year will find us here at home. My son, who usually hosts Christmas, will  be going to California to spend the holiday with his in-laws so we’ll stay home. That means putting up the big Christmas tree this year, which we haven’t done in the past few years. I have a little 4 foot one that I’ve put up the past couple of years and let Anderson decorate it. This year I think we’ll get out the big tree and have both of the boys over to decorate it.

Next year? Who knows. It’s all up in the air right now. If we move to Omaha, I suppose we’ll stay there because flying anywhere will be too expensive and driving three days in each direction in the winter weather will be out of the question. Next year there will be a new grand baby…and we just found out it will be a new grand son. So there will be three grand babies next year. We have to work on getting them to come to Omaha!  That, of course assumes we’ll be in Omaha. I don’t know where we’ll be but I hope we’ll be together. That’s what Christmas is about. Family. Togetherness.

Okay, ramble over. Consider this a fever induced ramble. I can’t seem to focus these days.

I hope you all have a magical holiday season.

P.S. If anyone has pumpkin pie and turkey left over, send me some! I missed it all.

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When I was growing up, I was the one who helped my mother do the everyday correspondence, even though I was the fifth of seven kids.  I remember being in second grade and being the one that filled out and addressed the Christmas cards for my mom every year.  I had to print because I didn’t know cursive yet.

One year I was filling out the cards and the card my mom had picked out was a really pretty one.  It had a bright red poinsettia on the front of it and on the inside it had the normal holiday greeting but on the backside of the front picture was a paragraph about the poinsettia being introduced to the United States in 1828 by Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.  It also mentioned a Mexican legend about this flower, which in Mexico is known as la flor de la noche buena, or the Christmas Eve flower.  It didn’t tell the legend, it just mentioned that there was one.

That caught my interest and I started to wonder and ask and read about this beautiful flower.  After several years, I learned the legend.  I’ve shared it with my readers previously but I’d like to share it again.  I’ve put it into my own words.  I’ve changed the name of the little girl to Maria (she is called by different names in different versions of the story).  I just recently learned that December 12 is “the day of the poinsettia” in the United States, which is interesting to me because December 12 is also the day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico.

The Legend of the Poinsettia

[This is a retelling of the traditional legend of the poinsettia.  I have read many versions and have worded this one in my own words, from a number of variations on the traditional legend.]

In a small village in Mexico, many years ago, lived a family with three children.  The daughter was María and the oldest of the three.  Her two younger brothers were Pablo and José.  Her father worked wherever he could find a job, often traveling to villages far away for a few days of work.  María’s mother was a wonderful weaver.  People from villages nearby brought their weaving to her.  María helped to take care of her little brothers while her mother worked on the weaving.

One day, the priest from the village church came to see María’s mother to ask a favor of her.  Each year the villagers participated in a procession to the church where they re-enacted the birth of the Christ child.  The priest brought the blanket to cover baby Jesus to María’s mother to repair as it was frayed and damaged.  Instead, María’s mother said she would make a new one because the old one was too far gone.  She assured the priest it would be ready in time for the Christmas Eve procession.

The next day, María’s father left to a village to do some work.  He would be back in a week.  His children stood at the entry to their small house, smiling and waving at their father as he left then they went to school, María leading the way as she held on to her brothers’ small hands.  When the three children returned home, their mother was very ill.  María left to call the doctor who was in another village.  When the doctor came, he took care of María’s mother but told María that her mother had to remain in bed until she was well.  It would be some time.  María promised to take care of her mother and make sure she took her medicine.

For the next few days, María took care of her mother and her brothers and tried to finish weaving the blanket her mother had begun to make for the baby Jesus.  It was such an honor to be asked to contribute this small gift to the village’s tradition and to the Christ child.  Her mother had begun to teach her to weave but María couldn’t do it.  Instead, the thread became tangled in the loom and it was no use.  There would be no new blanket for the Christ child that year.  María cried in shame.  Her family would be dishonored and shamed.

When Christmas Eve arrived, María did not want to go to the procession because she was so ashamed of not having been able to make the blanket.  Her little brothers were looking forward to the procession and they pleaded with her to take them.  She finally agreed, thinking that she would hide in the bushes near the church, close enough to watch the procession and close enough to watch her little brothers but far enough to not feel her cheeks burn with shame.  So she took them to the procession and sank back into the bushes, out of sight.

From nowhere came an old beggar woman and asked María why she was hiding.  María told her what had happened.  The woman told her she had to join the others in the procession and participate in the tradition of bringing a gift to the Baby Jesus.  The woman told her it did not matter what she took as a gift to the Christ child.  The only thing that mattered was what was in her heart.  María argued that she could not join the procession with no gift but the woman convinced her that the gift would be joining in the procession and being present.

Not wanting to go into the church empty handed, María looked around her but found only some green leaves growing near the bushes.  She grabbed an arm full of them and joined the procession into the church.  As her turn came to proceed up the aisle to the manger, María walked with the bouquet of green leaves in her arms, tears running down her cheeks because she was so ashamed of having no gift.  As she placed the leaves at the manger as her family’s gift, she closed her eyes in shame.  She heard the collective gasp of everyone in the church and feared that they were laughing at her for bringing weeds to the Baby Jesus.  She opened her eyes and instead of the wild green leaves, she saw the most beautiful red flowers.  As her tears dropped onto the green leaves, each leaf turned a deep red.  They were the most beautiful flowers María had ever seen and they were her miracle gift to the Baby Jesus.

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The following story is real.  Not even the names have been changed to protect (or accuse) anyone.  I originally posted it in 2008 on this blog.  I hope you enjoy it.  I know it was a tear filled time as I lived through it all but now, looking back at it, I actually laughed.

Three Strike Christmas

For some reason my ex-husband always chose without fail, the start of the school year when I had school clothes to buy for three kids or Christmas when I had gifts to get for the kids, to file for a Modification of Support.  When he filed such an order, he did not have to pay me any support until the hearing which was usually 4 to 6 weeks after filing for the modification.  He did this Christmas of 1993 and his petition failed.  He did it again Christmas of 1994 and although that petition also failed, it left the kids and I in a bad financial situation because we had no income for a couple of months.

Christmas of 1994 the kids went to their dad’s house on December 23rd.  He was to return them by 10 AM on Christmas morning.  Because of the absence of money, I didn’t have many presents for the kids.  They all wanted a computer and I found a man that would build one for me and not charge an arm and a leg and he would build it to the specifications needed by/for the kids.  He took a payment to get the parts and then the rest when he delivered it on Christmas Eve.  I had checked with him a couple of days before Christmas and everything was on schedule.  I was glad because although this was a gift for all three of them, it was really primarily for Tony, the oldest who needed it for school.  I had managed to get a couple of computer games at discount that I would give him for Christmas.

Tina wanted a bird.  I had found her a beautifully ornate bird cage at a yard sale about a month before Christmas and I had it stashed in the garage.  I just had to get the bird.  I planned on getting it at the local swap meet on Christmas Eve while the kids were at their dad’s.

Everything was on target that Christmas Eve.  I got up early and was at the swap meet when they opened at 7 in the morning. I knew exactly where the pet stand was and I got there in time to get the most beautiful lavender colored parakeet!  It was the most beautiful bird I had ever seen.  I was so happy to have gotten it and it was only $4!  On my way out to the car I stopped and picked up a couple of small things the kids would like and was pleased that I got them at bargain prices as the vendors wanted to unload them quickly so they could go home.  I made my way home and set up the cage and put the parakeet into it.

Just as I finished with the birdie, the phone rang.  It was bad news.  The man that was building the computer for me was calling to say that the fan he had ordered for the computer did not work and he’d have to wait til the 26th to get another.  The kids would not have their computer on Christmas.  I was bummed but I figured I would make the best of it and was glad I had managed to get a deal on the bird and the things I picked up at the swap meet or they really would not have anything.

I went to the grocery store to get what I needed for Christmas dinner and to see if I could pick up some stocking stuffers for the kids.  I was in the store for a long time and when I came out, it was clear that it had been raining for awhile.  I got the groceries near the car and then I slipped and fell.  I fell flat on my back in the middle of the parking lot, in the rain.  I couldn’t get up.  I just lay there as cars went around me.  It took about seven or eight cars going around me before a man came and helped me get up and got me to the car. Then he picked up my groceries and got them in my car.  He actually offered to drive me home but I thanked him and said I could make it home.  I had a previous back and knee injury so this was not good.  It took about a half hour of sitting in the car crying before I felt I could drive home.

Once home I put the perishables away and took a pain pill and went to bed.  I slept for a very short time and wakened when I heard a loud crash!  I ran to see what it was and got to the living room in time to see my daughter’s cat running past me with the bird in his mouth!  He had somehow gotten out of the bedroom where he had been stashed til he could be introduced to the bird.  The loud crash was the cat, Noisemaker, knocking down the cage.  I chased the cat all over the house until he let go of the cat whose neck had been broken.  I threw a shoe at the cat and sat and cried again, holding the dead bird in my hands.

I ended up going to bed and crying myself to sleep after taking care of the bird mess in the living room.  I didn’t even eat lunch or dinner.  I just slept.

When the kids got to the house the next morning, I answered the door with tears in my eyes and the only thing I could say to Tina was “Your stupid animal killed your Christmas present!”

The kids kind of rolled with the punches that day and enjoyed themselves and the gifts they had.  The day was fine and on the 26th, their computer was delivered and we went back to the swap meet and had my daughter pick out another bird.  They also had some Christmas money sent by relatives so they enjoyed the after Christmas bargains at the swap meet.

I guess no matter what happens and no matter how many strikes against us, if we’re together, it’s  a Christmas hit!  It matters not what material things they have or I can give.  We have each other and we are willingly and eagerly together.  That’s what counts.

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