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Your Christmas Memories and Traditions
December 22, 2008
Hi,

A "White Christmas" has been guaranteed for southwest Michigan.

I understand much of North America is colder and many locations are getting snow.

Isn't it GREAT?

As I look out the windows, I must say the landscape is beautiful.

Cold, but beautiful.

With close to 2 feet of new snow the past few days, some blizzard type winds tossed in and another 5" to 10 " forecast for tomorrow..........................

Who wouldn't love winter (tongue in cheek)?

The wind whipped drifts wrap around every object making for some magical snow waves.

It makes me feel a bit guilty that I'm not out there shoveling and feeding birds.

I'm pumped.................

Not only do we celebrate the birth of Jesus this week, but yesterday (Sunday) was the first day of winter.

You know what that means?

We get more snow and cold :-)

That's true...............................

But, it also means the days, or daylight slowly starts to grow longer.

Though we've already gained a few minutes on the night side, the morning side was still shrinking.

In a couple of weeks, the morning side will also begin to add on minutes.

This has something to do with an oblong orbit, the sun being much larger and other scientific stuff.

Yup, I look forward to the first day of winter just for that reason.

Kinda like hump day.

This past Wednesday I was blessed with a semi emergency hernia surgery.

A torn abdominal muscle about 4" below the sternum.

Seems I wrestled with one to many Christmas trees and I lost and problems were in the making for me.

Modern medicine is amazing.

Rolled into the operating room around 7:10 AM on Wednesday and Karen was taking me home around 10:30 AM that same morning.

Thank God for Vicodin.

Why not, surgeons (his gifts) and drugs are made by him too.

Getting in and out of bed is the hardest, as it causes so much pain and discomfort.

And don't cough or sneeze.

The pain sends me through the roof.

I'm not a sissy, mind you.........

We just don't realize that we use our stomach muscles for virtually everything we do.

They help to support our up right physique, our breathing, keep our insides, inside, walking, lifting, you name it.

Anyone that has had some kind of abdominal surgery will understand.

So............................

I get to sit around and do nothing for the next few weeks.

Maybe in a week or so I'll start walking the fur kids again, but that's all I'm allowed to do.

That is if we aren't totally buried in snow.

Storm after storm seem to be lining up and hitting us every other day or so.

It is so important to keep feeders filled in nasty weather (I have a good wife).

If you read these letters, you know this, but new readers may not.

You will notice right before and sometimes during a storm your birds are really busy feeding.

Birds are very sensitive to barometric pressures.

Yes, they know when the weather is about to change and will feast before and often ride out a storm in a protected spot.

With all the storms we've been having, my feeders have indeed been busy.

Christmas Bird Count

The "Christmas Bird Count" and how it came to be.

This year marks the 109th "Christmas Bird Count" which runs from December 14 to January 5, 2009

Prior to the turn of the century, people engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas "Side Hunt."

Seems they had nothing better to do so.............

They would choose sides and go afield with their guns and booze.

The team that brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.

Conservation was in its beginning stages around the turn of the 20th century, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations.

Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, an early officer in the then budding Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition-a "Christmas Bird Census"-that would count birds in the holidays rather than hunt them.

So began the Christmas Bird Count.

Thanks to the inspiration of Frank M. Chapman and the enthusiasm of twenty-seven dedicated birders, twenty-five Christmas Bird Counts were held that day.

The locations ranged from Toronto, Ontario to Pacific Grove, California with most counts in or near the population centers of northeastern North America. Those original 27 Christmas Bird Counters tallied a total of 90 species on all the counts combined.

Thankfully, the "Side Hunt" is no longer as well.

Advent In The Home

"The Coming of the Light"

Advent season starts 4 Sundays before Christmas.

The first Sunday in Advent.

"The Promise of the Light."

This candle signifies the prophets hopes and prayers.

The second Sunday in Advent (Dec 7).

"The Light is Come."

This candles signifies the stable birthplace of the Christ Child.

The third Sunday.

"The Shepherds Find the Light."

This candle represents the good news the angels sang to all people.

The fourth Sunday in Advent (The Sunday Before Christmas).

"Wise Men Worship Jesus, the Light."

This candle signifies the worship and gifts of the wise men.

Christmas Eve or Day

"The Light of the World"

This signifies the Christ Child's Birth.

Light the four candles and then light the center white or pink candle

I'm being redundant here, but it's the truth.

You guys are the best.

Without out you, there wouldn't be much to "Gardening for Wildlife" and the newsletters I work on.

Because of you I put in that extra bit of time to make these letters work for all of us.

I wish I could meet and greet you, with a handshake or maybe a hug (I'm a tactile person).

I asked for some memories and traditions and you guys came through in good fashion (another reason why you are the best).

Christmas is a very special time of year and most of us have special memories and traditions.

I suggest you take your time reading what others have said.

There are some memories or memorials that may pull at a heart strings.

You will notice some similarities in a few of these.

Something will stir a thought that you may have forgotten about like the goodie bag after a church program (thanks for the reminders).

What about snooping?

Interesting, I mentioned in a past letter how our sense of smell is the one of the 5 senses we don't lose unless there was an illness or damage to our Olfactory.

Smells bring back Christmas memories as well.

Trees, gifts, children playing, songs, food and of course, our Lord Jesus

Yes, Jesus......

The reason for the season.

Take your time over the next couple of days and enjoy these treasures (a long newsletter).

If you have some memories, save them for next year.

Because it is the Christmas season, I am taking the next week off so I too can enjoy the season with my loved ones.

I will be back next year hopefully refreshed and ready to go.

I'm looking at some new ideas and material to keep a weekly letter going.

Would you like more input from readers?

Would a forum be something to add down the road?

I do think Christmas memories and traditions will be a yearly feature from now on.

I thank each and every one of you.

You are a treasure to me and you have blessed me as well.

No input or comments from me, just your words.

Enjoy.

Joyce-NW of Duluth, MN.

A great Christmas memory for me growing up were the fun Christmas plays we put on at Church every year. Before going home, receiving a small brown paper bag filled with peanuts, the old-fashioned hard candy, and a nice big fresh apple.

When I think about it, I can still smell the aroma of that bag of goodies!

As my older brother was a Marine in Vietnam during the late 60's, it was nice to see Santa,clad in his red & white did arrive there on a helicopter, with bag and all! He sent us pictures home. I was happy to see he did have some joy.

Joy----San Angelo,Texas

One Christmas I remember when I was 5. My dad was off somewhere and Mother and I were alone. The Local Lions Club brought us a Christmas box. It had a chicken and stuff for Christmas dinner and a Doll and a little set of dishes .

My mother had made me a little table and two chairs. I had cut a small tumble-weed- it looked like a Christmas tree, and mother had put it in a can of water and wrapped a sheet around the bottom. I decorated it with tinfoil and little paper decorations. I put a star on top made from tinfoil.

Mother made Chicken and dressing and some potatoes and giblet gravy and Biscuits.I think we had some cranberries. She made a pie and a caramel pecan cake.

When dinner was ready she put our dinner on my little table and sat there with me and we had a great dinner.We ate out of my new little dishes.

That Christmas was a great Christmas. It was really a good time for a little girl. She made it great.- I wont ever forget it. It was a tribute to Motherhood.

Jan in Salem, New Hampshire

Christmas traditions and memories...In the French Canadian families there is the tradition of "Reveillon". Which literally means the "awakening:. The whole family goes to Memere's (grandmothers) on Christmas eve. Babies are babysat by a responsible adult/older child. All the adults and the rest of the family go to midnight mass. After mass (which is approx. 1 a.m. or so) we eat....pork pie/toutiere. Everyone goes to bed around three a.m.. Christmas day dinner is late. Good family, good food, good memories, Blessed Christmases.

Nyla from Riverdale, ND

Our house was usually where Christmas day was held. With 11 children we had the biggest house. Grandma always made fudge. It was yummy but..... she would cut it in pieces the size of a piece of cake. Well, with aunts and uncles and cousins around we had to play in bedrooms and any little space we could find. Mom would find pieces of fudge for weeks after Christmas with one bite out of it and "stashed behind the beds, in the toy boxes, in closets, etc...."

You would have thought someone would have cut those pieces of fudge a little smaller!

Sheri in Platteville, WI

I have a couple of new traditions that my own family has established. Every year, the stockings have gummy bears in the bottom of them (a couple of handfuls in a Ziplock bag!). Now that they are in their 20s and 30s, they still expect the gummies, and it is spilling into the grandkids expectations as well!

Another tradition that we've just started since the family has expanded with spouses and grandchildren is that our own small family gathering is grilled steaks, pork, and chicken breasts. A change from all the ham and turkey we'll be getting everywhere else we go thru the holidays.

Mary from Upstate, NY.

I have a couple of memories from Christmas Looooooong ago.

First, Santa never wrapped our gifts either. If it was wrapped it was probably boring clothes from Mom and Dad. We were allowed to get up in the wee hours and get our stockings, take them back to bed to go through. I know now it was so Mom and Dad could sleep longer and it is a tradition I continued with my girls for the same reason.

My funniest memory is the year my Dad, who ran a body shop for a car dealership, bought a Christmas tree, took it into the paint booth and sprayed it all different colors. Silver, red, green, blue, yellow! It was so pretty when he brought it in, but by the time it was decorated it had warmed up enough for us to know it didn't have that pine smell, it smelled of Paint! All of that Christmas the house reeked of lacquer! To this day when I smell that smell I think of Christmas.

That's enough from me, after living through 70 Christmases I have lots of memories, most good a few sad ones. But I always have celebrated the reason for the Holiday.

A Blessed Christmas to you and your family.

Lou from Lowell, MI

Here's my Christmas thing.

My oldest daughter lost first a baby girl, (Five weeks old, died of SIDS Dec 17 2000. ) Then a year later she had a boy, who was very mentally and physically challenged from complication of her pregnancy. When we first lost Jenna Rose, my wife and I decided we needed to do something for her. So became my Jenna/Jeremy tree.

It's really pretty simple. I take two Stars with white lights on them, and bolt them to a Purple Martin house I have up. I then wrap a couple of strings of white lights all around the PM house. I then take three long strands of Green lights, and attach one end to the PM house frame.

I then lay it out, and attach the other end, so I have both ends onto the frame, and from there, it stretches down to the ground, where I use a tent stake to tie it down. (I raise the rack to get the proper distance/length I need) I then put it onto a timer, so it comes on at dark, and off at dawn.

It's really quite simple, but we think the babies are enjoying it with God.

Robin in West Allis, WI

Christmas' at home when I was young, I don't think I can remember any one as being particularly memorable. We were rather low income and mother worked 2 full time jobs.

Christmas with my children was and still is magical. Ever since my boys Col (18) and CB(16) were babies, we always went to Christmas Eve service at the Church I was baptized and the boys went to grade school at.

There stood a 20 foot tree, the service was always lead by the school children and all of the traditional Christmas songs sung. At the end of service the lights were dimmed and candles were lit along the pews (which are always full) and Silent Night is sung. I never make it past the first verse and tears start to fall. Every Christmas Eve service the boys were in, 10 total. You would see them whisper and point, right before the organ started. they and their closest friends would be smiling at me and singing.

Then home to put out milk, cookies and carrots or apples for the reindeer and right to bed so Santa could come. 6am and the first squeals of delight would sound.

We still go to Christmas Eve service, and yes I still cry during Silent Night. Now I sit between these two handsome men and a not so small hand will take mine from each side.

Then home to look at our tree, and play remember when.

We stay up a bit later and get up a bit later, but there are still squeals of delight as something unexpected turns up. It seems that Santa still knows one or two things.....

Mary from Clarkfield, Ohio

I grew up on an 80 acre farm, in Norwalk,Ohio..Being the 4th of 12 children. My Parents made Christmas very special,,,Mom would bake cookies for weeks...Dad worked and tended to the farm,,we had cows and pigs and chickens....Which all feed us well.

Santa brought our Christmas Tree..which was the big surprise on Christmas morning to see that beautiful Tree and the gifts below,,,When we got a little older and Daddy could handle us he would take us to Midnight Mass,,and then when everybody was asleep,,,we older ones got to be Santa ,,and decorate the tree...

We would quietly go down the stairs and there was the tree,,,ready for us to trim.....then we would quietly go off to bed and wait for Santa....Then Christmas Day was such fun,,all the family together,,eating and playing new games.......

Thanks for the Memories you woke up in me today!!!!!!!!!!!

Jack from Battle Creek, MI.

I do have a not so good memory of one Christmas (born 1944) when I was 7 or 8. I knew I was going to get a bracelet that year and just couldn't wait. One morning before Christmas I hid by the old living room oil heater and opened the present. Well, mom found out before Christmas.

Let me tell you the talking to I got made me so sad. It was the saddest Christmas I every had but it was a good lesson learned.

My folks liked to have a special Christmas breakfast and when all us kids were growing up and had kids we still got together at their house for the same. After my folks past in 1999 my wife and I still have Christmas breakfast for our kids and grandkids. It is a good tradition.

The presents are fine but that is not the reason for the season. My wife and I went to a Christmas play and music program at Church last night. Of course it was all about Christ birth.

You are never to old to remember the true meaning of Christmas and what He meaning in our lives.

Evelyn... near Burlington, Iowa

As for a Christmas memory..in 1946 we finally got electricity...remember going out and cutting a red cedar tree for a Christmas tree..that was the first year we actually had lights on a tree! I was 5.

Our youngest son now has the angel we used for a tree topper.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Angela in Porter, TX

This is not really a Christmas tradition but just the most memorable Christmas I ever had.

I was about 11 years old at the time, I am 50 now. I am an only child and a girl, and my Dad did not play a very big role especially as I was always reading or crafting something, neither of which he did. He also worked second shift so I only saw him on weekends and he is not a very demonstrative person. This is a preface just to let you know how special that Christmas was.

That year one of the new toys was called Toggle Blocks, they were plastic cubes with holes or pegs on each side and one side was hinged to open. Kind of the precursor to legos. Well, after many years of asking for erector sets and such and only getting dolls and tea sets, that year Santa brought Toggle Blocks. They even came with wheels and wind up motors! I have many happy memories of playing with those things for years, and the best was that Dad sat on the floor with me for 3 days creating things like vehicles and ferris wheels and robots.

So parents, listen to what you child really wants and don't assume girls shouldn't want to build things, and Dads, find something you can do together with your daughters, it will give them good memories that last a lifetime.

Sharon from Neenah, WI.

Growing up when I was about 8 or 9 years old and my older sister by a couple years we were so interested in finding out what we were getting for Christmas. Mom always hid the presents but we always found them.

Mom and Dad were gone and we found our presents, we picked out the ones marked with our names on them and unwrapped them and looked them all over. We wrapped them back up being careful to make them look like they did before...we did it! or at least we thought we did... and when Christmas morning came, there was no enjoyment in opening the presents because we knew what they were.

Mind you they were what we asked for but it just took all the fun out of Christmas morning....WE NEVER DID THAT AGAIN and we never talked about it...Moral of the story...Being Surprised is so much better than knowing what you are receiving for Christmas..

Lynne in Homossas, Florida

We started a tradition of decorating Christmas ornaments and dating them. The oldest one is from 1989 and though some have broken over the years there are will always be new ones to add next year.

I make hot chocolate and we all sit down together and decorate our ornaments while something sweet is baking in the oven.

Karen in Cincinnati, Ohio

We live in southwest Ohio in an old farm house built around 1867. I'm sure this old house has experienced many Christmas celebrations before we came here in 1975.

Every Christmas Eve since we have been here we have a big family gathering. Some years we have more people then other years but we always host the gathering.

My oldest son has named himself "the Christmas police" and we cannot change a tradition without consulting him. Ths year we will have my sister and family from Findlay, Ohio,

My niece and her husband from Savannah, Georgia, her husband Jim just arrived home from Iraq last night so that will be a special treat this year, We also have Gloria from Pittsburgh plus my two sons and family and my mom who is 85 years old. We have 4 grandchildren so the house has children again.

I can just imagine the old house smiling because it is full of laughter and fun once again, most days it is just my husband and I who are here, some days when he is traveling it is just me and the cat! But on Christmas Eve the house is full and many guests sleep over so the bedrooms are once again occupied and the old house is happy.

Vickie in Cartwright, Oklahoma

My fondest memory is going to church on Christmas Eve at 11:15, receiving communion and lighting our candles from the Christ candle while singing Silent Night leaving the church and ending standing at the cross in front of the church with all my family at exactly midnight.

What better way to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Cindy in Buffalo, NY

When I was a kid growing up in Hicksville, Ohio, we always went for a ride to look at the Christmas lights and magically Santa came while we were gone.

My Mom used to put spray snow on our picture window and angel hair on our tree. Our stockings were hung on the front door knob and 2 hinge pins (3 kids) - we always got a huge orange and apple and nuts in the shell.

On Christmas day (and all holidays) my father's whole family got together for all day - all 30 of us, plus assorted friends and current love interests. I always got a dime store gift from Grandma & Grandpa - dusting powder with a big fluffy puff, "toilet water" in an interesting bottle (one year like a oil lamp), a "bargain" book (that I still have).

Later after the next generation we grew to 50.

My mother's family is in Germany and we visited there one time at Christmas time in 1961. The one thing that sticks in my memory is the real candles clipped to the real Christmas tree, and my dad worrying himself into a tizzy that we were all going to die in a fire.

Now that we live in a consumer culture and many of us live far from family, I find myself longing for "simpler" days and Christmas - time together, less stuff.

Laurie in Aurora, IL.

When I was young we never had a chance to decorate the tree because Santa Claus brought the tree on Christmas Eve. When we went to bed everything was normal. When we got up on Christmas morning there was a beautiful fresh Christmas tree with lots of presents under the spreading boughs.

There were 5 of us at that time, and everybody had their own 'pile' under the tree. No names, but everyone instinctively knew which pile was theirs. As we grew up, and us older ones had 'spending money', and the younger ones didn't believe in Santa any longer, the older ones would go out and shop for a tree a week or so before Christmas. We couldn't keep it in the house toooo long because of needles shedding. And we would pick the biggest, fullest tree we could find. And THEN we finally got to decorate the tree.

What a treat.

I still love to decorate the tree every year, even though it is now a pre-lit artificial tree.

Another memory...On Christmas day we didn't have a normal meal routine. On Christmas Eve my mother would bake a ham, and a turkey and make a ton of side dishes. Then on Christmas day, after Church, she would put everything on the big kitchen table, with disposable plates and flatware. And then she and my dad hosted an Open House...all day. Relatives, friends and neighbors would stop in all day long to admire the tree and visit, and make a stop at that big kitchen table, and load their plate with food.

Marti in Lake Milton, OH

My favorite Christmas memory has to be when our daughter was from 8 mos. to 4 yrs. old-I had a friend come over and be Santa. those were really special times.

Now I see my grandson with Santa, and the magical belief that lasts for a short time is so dear. Not for the gift factor, just the innocence of that age.

I send a letter from the "North Pole" to my grandson, and it's a joy to hear him tell me he got a letter from Santa!

Joe near Spartanburg, SC.

My family in Western Md, where I grew up, always decorated the tree as a family event the day before Christmas. We boys went out and got the tree from the field when we got old enough.

We always went caroling with the Brethren In Christ Kids that were serving two years at our local Nursing Home.

Farney in Boonsboro, Md.

My middle sister was born Christmas Eve Dec 1946, and that was one to remember. Dad would have to push snow with the car all the 6 miles to hospital.

My Wife Rita remembers seeing a brand new bicycle one year peeking down through the heat vent above the LR, (it's how they got heat upstairs) Both my family and the wives ALWAYS read the Christmas Story before opening any gifts on Christmas Morn. Ah, yes, very fond memories of Christmas' long ago.

Our fun was with a couple neighbor boys and Sledding down the steep slopes of the Saw Mill, and taking a CAR out on the frozen Golf Course Pond. (yes, we were sewing a few wild oats. LOL)

I remember these well. I would go into a panic if my kids did this. LOL!

Babara in San Antonio, TX

My family has several Christmas traditions. The one we have had since our children were young is making a homemade Christmas tree ornament for each person in the family ... we then on Thanksgiving exchange ornaments and end up with loving handmade ones.... each is dated with the person's name.

Another tradition is traveling around the Texas hill country for the magnificently colored Christmas light displays... I always bring lots of hot chocolate and marshmallows along to enjoy with homemade decorated cookies the grandsons and I make. We spend the night in a hotel and the grands sleep with us and its just such a sweet, loving memory to be added to the many others in our hearts.

The birth of Christ is always the center of our Christmas especially when we make His birthday cake and the grandchildren decorate it for Him.

Cal in Canton, Ga.

What memories Christmas years ago bring back. As long ago as 80 years I can remember the excitement when this time of year came. I was born & raised in a small town in western Pennsylvania. The town would decorate the downtown area but never turned the lights on until December 1st.

All the stores did likewise. That is when stores showed there Christmas merchandise.

My Mom would take us on the trolley into town to see all the decorations. She would get us a hot cocoa & that was a big deal for us.

Christmas eve we had to go to bed early or Santa wouldn't come. After we went to bed parents would put up tree, with train set up & small city under tree. We weren't allowed to even think of coming down stairs until we heard my Dad playing Jingle-bells on piano.

Most times we would have chicken or turkey for dinner but some time during holidays my brother & his hunting buddies would come over & Mom would fix meal of squirrel, rabbit, pheasant etc. My kids & grandkids act like they are going to get sick when I tell them that.

Linda in Rices Landing, PA

We were a family of 5 kids with a father who worked in the coal mines in SW PA, lived in a small mining village, and had a stay at home Mom. Inevitably the mines went on strike every December. Now some would argue that it was because most of the men wanted to go deer hunting, but regardless, we always knew that a "strike" meant there was no extra money.

As I grew older I must say that more and more often I wondered....how did my parents provide the Christmas they did for all of us? Our tree was always huge and gorgeous.....and it was not even in our house when we went to bed on Christmas Eve. Santa brought our tree and decorated it too - what a chimney we must have had - what a Santa that must have been. For many years we did not have a car so my parents Christmas shopped in towns that were 20 to 35 miles away on a commercial bus.

We got doll houses, bikes, a rocking chair....just some of the things I remember. How did they get all that home on a bus? And where did they put it after they got it home? I don't ever remember finding a single present early and goodness knows we snooped once we were old enough to begin doubting Santa's existence.

There was no doubt at our house though as to what the true meaning of Christmas was, as church played a huge role in our lives. We all had a part in the Christmas play at our community church and for weeks Mother listened to us practice our verses. Just as we received gifts, we were expected to "give". Mother made us purge the toy box, and we had to clean up all of last year's toys and pass them on to those less fortunate.

My Mother truly "swept out" the old year by preparing for the holidays with a whole house cleaning. My sisters and I still laugh to this day. We really believed (because Mother told us so convincingly) that Santa would not come if walls were not washed, closets and drawers all cleaned (give away anything someone else could use, that you did not) and especially windows and curtains had to sparkle before a wreath could be hung or a candle lit. Oh, and who else remembers those curtain stretchers with the nails that you thought would tear your fingers off!

She cooked and baked and the house smelled so good for days leading up to the big day. With the spices she used there was no need for candles or potpourri you find in most homes today.

On Christmas Morning it was my Dad who was the hero and fixed the big breakfast. He worked a couple jobs so it was probably the only morning he was home to do that task. These memories are fresh in my mind as today was the day we picked up the blankets for our parents graves. Memories can be a wonderful thing.

Now even though my own kids live great distances from us, we still have traditions we keep. I've made hundreds of Christmas cookies that were packed in tins and shipped or delivered to our grandkids in Hawaii, Illinois and Florida.

Like my Mom, I want them to have a taste of Nana and Pap's house from Pennsylvania. I really thought they liked the presents better, but the grown-ups say, "we think they like your cookies best of all." My granddaughter Grace says, "Nana's cookies are best cause she makes them with love."

It makes us happy to know that tradition and love lives on at this special time of year.


Deloris in Lexington, Kentucky

The first and foremost thing that made Christmas for me as a child was when the church Christmas play was picked out and we all were assigned parts. Oh the hours I spent trying to memorize my lines and getting our costumes ready but that is when I KNEW Christmas was coming and the excitement ran through me.

I also remember the little brown bag you got at church on the Sunday of our Christmas play with nuts, apples, oranges and candies. Mom sneaking to sew us new outfits without us getting to see the material, even a suit for dad and going to my grandparents who lived 2 hours away in the mountains with all my cousins, aunts and uncles and taking hikes through the snow and through the woods, the smells of all the food and MOUNDS of presents (mostly home made ones or small gifts to show their love for us) then Christmas Eve getting to open one present and the anticipation of Christmas morning when we'd have a big breakfast after checking out what Santa had brought and then going in and exchanging our gifts.

It didn't matter what I bought or made for my parents, I can remember them going on and on about what a great gift I'd gotten them (even though I'm sure it was all about their love for me, not especially what I'd made or picked out - LOL). My father passed away when I was 16 and now my mother has just had a stroke and is in a nursing home, so I cherish the memories of Christmas that I had as a child and this year, am going to decorate for the residents at mom's nursing home that have no family to be with and bring hopefully a little cheer and joy to them as well as inviting them in for our family get together on Christmas Eve in the conference room at the home.

New place, new traditions but still the comfort and joy of my mom and my sister and her family.

Joanne, in Central New York

I have many Christmas memories, but the one I enjoy reminiscing about was Christmas Eve at my Grandmother's house. I am of German heritage, so there was lots of tasty things to eat, not the least of which was lentil soup.

Grandma would make big kettles of it (so the people at my uncle's restaurant could have some). This uncle would also bring her a keg of herring which she would clean and make herring salad and pickled herring from. (I can still see her sitting on her stool at the sink full of herring!) Aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather and feast on her special food.

After presents were opened, we would all head for one of the aunt's or uncle's homes to enjoy dessert, then on to my house where my Dad would offer egg-nog and other beverages. Then we (Mom, Dad, and brother) would pile into the car and head for my aunt's on my mother's side which was on a farm about 50 miles away. It was a long night, but one I still remember 50+ years later.

Stella in the Quebec, Province

One activity I remember fondly was making cookies with the kids. It just goes to show you how each child is an individual. I would make this sour cream dough cookie recipe each year. The batter is extremely soft, but boy are they delicious. I would roll a small amount at a time. When I finished cutting them out with Christmas cookie cutters, the children would decorate them.

First my oldest son would do his thing. You can say his thing because the decorations were all over the place and lots of them. You could hardly see the dough. What a mess, but that was okay..

Now my daughter on the other hand did her creative thing. Everything had to be just so. The colourful sugar candies were placed "a la Renoir" style. You sure knew which ones were hers.

Now my youngest son, not to be out done by his brother, decided always to decorate his with as much candies as possible, but in a geometric fashion. Just say if it was a star, every point had to have a candy on it, and so on.

Of course the friendly or not so friendly conversation were as to who decorated the cookies the nicest. Well, let's just say, when it came time to eat them, no one cared how they were decorated. They just shoveled them into their mouth.

You know, I might surprise them with the dough and ask them if they would like to decorate the cookies. I could just see their faces. Like mom must be living in the past........AGAIN.

Jean, NW of Atlanta, GA

I remember going out with my Dad and finding the best Christmas Tree that grew on our farm. Later, I would sit and glaze at it's beauty, with the large older multi colored lights while listening to Christmas Songs played on a turn-table. Silent Night is still my favorite.

The Sears and Roebuck Catalogue was worn out from me looking at the Toy section since I could only choose 3 items to ask Santa for. Even after I had told Santa what I wanted, I would continue to dream of all the fun I would have when the big day came.

I was always an Angel in our Quaker Church's Christmas Play. I will never forget the year that my older sister was chosen to play Mary. I was so proud of her. She was a lovely Mary.

Christmas morning was always a thrill. My Mom (now 81) always made sure that everything was well placed and ready to play with. The big bag of Oranges and the Peppermint candy sticks, which we would use as straws inside a hole cut in the oranges, was my favorite treat.

It was my job to go out and gather Running Cedar to decorate our fireplace mantle. It grew on our farm in NC. I miss it since it doesn't grow here in GA.

Wonderful Memories!

Sue, I'm sorry no location given

I love Christmas, the lights, the music, the smell of pine. I love the little kids Christmas programs, and how excited they get with all the hustle and bustle.

Years ago a friend introduced me to tea called the nutcracker tea, she also gave me a pretty little tea cup. So every Christmas night, after all the family has gone home, all the gifts are unwrapped and all the dishes done, I sit by the lighted tree and have a cup of nutcracker tea in the cup that she gave me.

I give thanks to God for another year w/ my family and for every blessing I can think of.

I've never told this friend that I do this, but maybe I should.

"MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE."

Thank you all for your time and participation.

Thank you for your thoughts and memories.

If you were left out please forgive me as your memories are lost in space.

I put in everyone's thoughts almost to the word given to me.

Remember, I am off next week (to heal now).

Its time to fly

Before I go, here is your postive thought for the week and lifetime.

Heve a God Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year.

Luke 2: 8-14

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. and an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.

And the angel said to them, "be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of s great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased."

Mathew 2: 9-11

And lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before the, till it came to rest over the place where the child was.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.

Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and murrh.

What more can a person say.

God's ultimate gift to mankind.

GOD SO LOVED the WORLD.....................

HE Gave his only begotten SON..............

A new and permanent covenant with his people he loves so much.

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. John 3:16

Ask and you shall recieve.

Nothing more to add to that, except one BIG SMILE to share with others.

God's Blessings to you and yours this season and through out.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers. Better yet, have them sign up so they can recieve their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.
























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