The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. ~ Psalm 16:6 nasb

Monday, December 31, 2012

Yummies For Our Tummies!

We received a large package on Christmas Eve!

Jacob became the designated package-opener.  We had received a phone call from my sister-in-law Kirsten, who told us to expect the package and that we'd need to open it right away because it was perishable.  And perishable = food!  This makes my guys happy.

Honey-cured bacon

Smoked turkey breast

Honey-baked ham!

What a blessing all this food was!  The bacon went into the freezer for future meals, and the turkey and ham became our dinner that night, and served as meals throughout the rest of the week.  The double blessing was that I came down with a cold in the evening on Christmas evening, and was sick the rest of the week.  No cooking for me!  I was able to rest a lot and not have to worry about feeding the guys.

Thanks, Tony and Kirsten, for the Christmas gifts!!

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Golden Gift at Christmas -- Part Two

You can read about the first part of our Christmas Day celebration here.

After our white elephant gift exchange, and after we had additional sustenance to make it through the rest of our afternoon, we had our parents sit on their couch, and presented them with a long-overdue gift.

Dad was being goofy, as usual.

I mentioned that my parents' 50th wedding anniversary occurred in June.  We weren't able to celebrate it together, since they had just sold their house and were living in their Lake Bonaparte home until their new house was built here.  There were only one or two occasions for our whole family to get together, so the date for presenting this gift ended up getting pushed back until Christmas.

We put together a memory book for them, spanning their early years of life, their years together, their wedding, and all the memories since.  We asked, and many family and friends sent us pictures and words and thoughts and stories, and we included all of that in the book.  I love the below picture best, with the family gathered around, laughing as they took a stroll down Memory Lane.

Though it's late, we wish you a Happy Golden Anniversary, Dad and Mom!

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

A White (Elephant) Christmas -- Part One

Christmas was at my parents' new home this year.  They've had a busy year--my dad's 80th birthday, selling their home in six days, spending an extended time at their lake home while their new home was being built, their 50th wedding anniversary together, coming home and moving in to their new home, then hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas!  Whew; I got tired just typing that.  :)

My mom's goose, all decked out for Christmas, greeted us at the door.

Her pine cone wreath looked so pretty!

Foyer decorations.

My mom's table is always festively decorated.  I wish I could be like that!

This year, in lieu of gift-giving, we had purchased gifts for others.  We still wanted to do something fun on Christmas Day, though, so it was decided that a white elephant gift exchange was in order.  No one was allowed to purchase anything--the gift had to be something already in our homes and which we no longer wanted.  I'm a de-clutterer by nature, so it was a bit challenging finding six gifts in our home, one for each of us to contribute to the exchange pile.  But we did it.

Let the fun begin!

Simultaneous yawns.

My brother Jeff showed off his nature and scenic photography.


My mom opened one of the first gifts.

I think Jeff may have been in trouble, for some reason...

My brother Matt opened his choice of gifts.

I was so busy having fun, talking, and taking pictures that I didn't realize my Dad had chosen a gift already and was opening it.  I was thrilled that he chose this gift--it was a set of three country gospel and hymn CDs!  We listened to them throughout the afternoon, and he was happy with his choice.

Thomas goofed off with Grandma when he tried to read his number upside down.

He opened a trivet in the Americana style; there was also a matching clock.  (I later stole this gift from him.)

Yeah, Danny got the gag gift--he loved the chocolates, which came with a leg lamp night light (if you've seen A Christmas Story, you know what this is).

Fernando promptly stole Danny's gift for the leg lamp night light.

So, Danny got to open another gift--a heavy-duty Christmas tree stand!

Jacob opened an old mug, saved by his grandparents from my childhood days in Spring Lake Heights, NJ.

Char picked a great gift, too--a backgammon set.

Since I stole Thomas' gift, he got to open another one.

This was a brand new card game set.  We had purchased it on clearance many years ago, and left it in our "gift box" in our closet.  It was nice to finally give it as a gift!

Sweet Joseph.

Mom knew what was in the bag.

It was sort-of awkward.  I had wrapped up a little old tea kettle that I thought I had gotten at a garage sale.  Wrong.  Mom had given it to me; it was her grandmother's.  Oops.

Mom took it in stride, though.  And I may just end up with that kettle again!

This wasn't all the gift-opening there was on our Christmas Day.  Stay tuned for a very special Part Two!

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Giving and Receiving

Hmm, for some reason I thought I had already written this post...

Bags and bags of gifts!

At Christmastime over the past several years, our (extended) family's paradigm of Christmas has been changing.  Christmas has been different since our own children have grown into young men.  For a little background, here's a simple family tree:

Dad + Mom

Matt + Char           Christine + Fernando                    Jeff





That's it--a pretty small tree.  It looks more like a cross, come to think of it.  Christmas has become a bit of a challenge--there are no longer little ones or young kids to buy presents for, and our young men have told us that they really don't want anything as far as gifts are concerned.  Soooo, what to do?

Well, one year we did a grab bag--each family member picks someone else's name and shops for just that person.  One year we did a puzzle exchange; that was fun since we always do a puzzle on New Year's Eve.

For the past few years, we've put our focus on others.  My dad's church has a program that ministers to needy families at Christmas.  They put up a Christmas tree in their lobby, with cards all over the tree.  On the cards are the names of children, with their ages, clothing sizes, and a space for wanted things.  Church members can pick one (or more) of the cards and shop for those children.  The gifts get bagged up and distributed to them before Christmas.  It's a neat way to minister to a family who otherwise wouldn't have much to celebrate on Christmas.

This year, our family decided to participate in this once again.   We all met up at Target, broke up into groups, each group having the card with the needed/wanted items, and we took off throughout the store.  It was so much fun walking around and trying to find things that these kids needed and wanted!  Plus, it was lots of fun shopping for girls, since I rarely get to do that.  :)

After shopping, we all met up at my parents' home to share lunch and wrap gifts.


After lunch, we got to work sorting gifts by child, pile by pile.

Then, it was time to wrap.  I loved watching some of the guys wrapping!

The children we shopped for were from two different families, so we ended up with two piles of gifts.

After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him.  Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11 NASB

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