Saturday, December 29, 2012

Holidays: 4. Celebrate!

When a holiday arrives, focus on simply enjoying it in whatever fashion you choose. Once the "big day" is here, it's time to celebrate! If priorities have been set, preparations planned and carried out beforehand, then everything should fall into place. If not, you know what you need to do for next year. Even with the best of intentions, however, unexpected things can occur that might disrupt the best-laid plans. Adjusting your attitude and rolling with the punches certainly can help get you through. Concentrate on what is most meaningful.

The home-made part of our Christmas this year was again the baked goods and special meals. My sister flies in from Montana to spend a week with us, which is one of only two times a year we see each other, so is much anticipated. I planned the week's meals, leaving enough wiggle room for any changes that might come up, including a meal or two out. Good thing, too, as those things did occur! While shopping, I happened upon locally-made potato sausage, which is one of my husband's favorites from his childhood and Scandinavian heritage. Although it was not on my carefully planned list, I did buy some and his delight with that meal made the change well worthwhile.
For weeks before Christmas, I worked hard to create two special rag quilt bedspreads for our grand-kiddos. These took hours and hours to make, but I felt they were well worth the effort. With matching sheet sets, they seemed to be much appreciated. Although not as much fun as age-appropriate play things, my hope is that these will be a longer-lasting reminder of the love we have for each of them.
One of our family traditions that my husband got from his dad is a cleverly-written hint on each gift tag. He also delights in wrapping all sorts of noisemakers, weights, etc. into a package so as to confuse the recipient who may (will) carefully inspect and shake the gift before opening it. This usually involves all sorts of containers of nails, screws, or BBs, and heavy bricks or pieces of wood. It makes the unwrapping of gifts a lot of fun, regardless of what the gifts are. This year I wrote a poem hint to go on each of the quilt packages. Here is the one for the blue jean quilt:
Blue Jean Dreams
Grampa wears blue jeans,
Your Dad, he does too.
And you may have noticed,
These jeans don’t look new.
Grampa’s worn Levis
501s for a while,
Your dad seems to wear
Whatever’s in style.
These jeans have seen things
You and I never will,
So study at each piece
As you lie there, so still.
With garden soil and sawdust,
Oil and gasoline,
These jeans have been dirtied
Through good times and lean.
And maybe you’ll notice,
There’s a ladybug, too.
Gramma stitched it in the ‘70s -
It now belongs to you.
Pieced carefully together,
As families sometimes are,
And stitched with much love,
These jeans have come far!
So wrap it around you,
It’s yours now to keep,
We wish you sweet dreams,
Each night as you sleep.
A large snow storm was predicted for our area on Christmas morning, so we warned our son that we might need to celebrate with him and the grand kids on another day. That morning, as the snow arrived and began to accumulate, my mind began spinning out ideas for another celebration - "just in case". Fortunately the snow turned to rain and all went off as planned. With laughter, gift unwrapping, cameras clicking and boxes, bows, and paper strewn across the living room, we enjoyed the time we had to the fullest. The turkey came out of the oven, the table was set, and every single person - the small and the tall - helped in some way to prepare our feast. For those not with us - nieces and brother-in-law far away and the sister we lost last year at this time - we remembered, spoke of, and talked to by phone, so our important connections were made and maintained.
Glitches? Oh yes, there were those! The week before Christmas, my husband suffered an accident in his workshop that necessitated a 911 call, trip to the ER, and 13 stitches to close a large rip in the palm of his hand. He's mending well, and even sported a bright red wrap on that hand on Christmas Eve day, put there by a wonderful "Mrs. Claus" at the medical clinic.
I did not get our cookies baked before my sis arrived, so we baked a batch a day for 3 days. These were all new ones I wanted to try - none of my usual ones, but they were well-liked.
 Our church is in the middle of a large building project which necessitates most of us parking along the edge of the adjoining cemetery. The usual Christmas Eve services were changed to only one in the late afternoon and parking was muddy and messy, but a lot of people made it and the candles glowing in the growing dusk still brought tears to my eyes as we sang Silent Night. I remembered that humble birth from so long ago, the precious sister no longer with us, and the loving one beside me. What a special night spent with special people...
Because of the "hand incident" and other things, my final week of sewing was disrupted, so the second rag quilt did not get finished. No worries, though, because our grand-daughter got her sheets, a couple of other things, and this poem with the beginnings of her quilt: 

Memory Quilt
The best-laid plans
Of men and mice,
Sometimes don’t work,
And that’s NOT nice!
People have problems,
And time gets short,
So try as we did,
This ship “missed its port”.
It might look quite ragged,
Pieced together just so,
And it’s barely big enough
To cover one toe.
But – WAIT – there’s still hope!
If you can patient be,
Another week, or two,
Or maybe even three…
It will come together,
We’ll add so much more,
And we think this warm gift
Will be worth waiting for.
When complete, it will warm you
And make quite a set,
For it matches some other
Warm things you will get.
One thing to remember,
Imperfect as we be,
Love sometimes takes time,
To get to you from me!
And ain't that the truth!!
To add to the fun, one of our nieces called back on Christmas Day to say she'd like to drive up the next day with her dog and significant other (not necessarily in that order...) for a short visit. We see each other seldom, so welcomed this chance to see her. She's recently learned that her body is intolerant of gluten and other things, so we quickly put our heads together and with some internet searches and a few things she brought from home, we managed to share the remnants of our Christmas feast in a form that worked for all of us. Although I sometimes curse it, technology really can be a marvelous tool at times like this.
And so our Christmas holiday, although certainly not perfect, was considered a success by all in our family. We connected in meaningful ways - gave, received, shared, ate, laughed, cried, and are left with the sweet, mellow afterglow of times well-spent. What more could we want?




  1. This sounds like a perfect Christmas with the love of family all around you. Blessings to you Barb and Bill. Wonderful New Year!..Melinda

  2. What a wonderful Christmas! I LOVE the quilts and the poems that go with them. Your grandkids will treasure them the rest of their lives, I'm sure. And I like the idea of baking cookies every day with your sister better than doing them ahead of time. Have a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  3. It truly is a perfect Christmas for you and your family and I'm sure the blessings are glowing long after Christmas's joy, peace and love have faded a bit in the routines of daily life. Merry Merry Christmas Barb and Bill and Happy 2013 that is right around the corner. from Peg

  4. wow ladybug! i LOVE your denim quilt!! with all the little added things...label, pockets, ladybug!!
    i think it's so much nicer to GIVE from the heart...hand made things mean so much more. GIVING of ones self. love. appreciation. hugs.

    you are always such an inspiration...your words...your pictures...are always warm & encouraging.

    so sorry about your hubby's hand! ouch! scary! i hope he heals quickly.

    you have a HAPPY new year!! =)