Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmases Past

It's time to put away all things Christmas and prepare for the new year.
Before I do, however, I want to share reminiscences of Christmases past, by decades.

10 years ago
We were still in the days when everyone came home Christmas Eve and stayed overnight.
Stephan, recently married, was in culinary school in Grand Rapids and Karen was teaching.
We had only three grandchildren then, ages 9, 3, 2.
Many fun photos document the family gathering. Here are a couple favorites of the young boys, and a funny clip from Letters to Santa.
Malachi posing on the countertop

Skye showing off G'ma Linda's PJ's and blanket

(FYI, Kayla's spelling has since improved to college-ready level.)

20 years ago
Stephan was a college student, glad to be home after his first semester at Moody Bible Institute.
His gifts were very creative: cards that represented something about each of us or our family and included a puzzler, hint or map to find the grunge-style flannels purchased at the Worn Again shop in Chicago.

The flannel shirts were discarded long ago, however these two cards hung framed in one of our bathrooms all these years.

Leah designed our Christmas card that year. When she saw it on the album pages I put together this Christmas, she commented on the great artwork,before realizing it was her own. smile

Our three in 1990
Mike spent three years building it in his spare time, before we could move into our new home.

The new house, taken Christmas day
We moved in shortly after Christmas thanks to help from my family members on Christmas day!

My mother, sil Kim, me, niece Tina (see previous post)
No garage door, no deck, no stairs going up to the loft, and much more to be done, but it was livable.

30 years ago--We were on the OM ship, mv Doulos. I haven't delved into those archives yet. However, we always enjoyed the ship Christmases--creative decorations and gifts, special meals, fun ship-family events, wonderful fellowship.

40 years ago--We lived in Germany. I was great with child, Stephan was born in March.

I don't remember much before that. Going back to when I was 16 and 6 would require much more research. So we'll leave it at that. An interesting exercise, nevertheless.

What will the next ten years bring, should we linger that long?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 Week 52: Christmas Week

Sunday we were so privileged to attend the Spanish speaking church in Warsaw and hear my two younger brothers speak about the third gift of the magi--myrrh, symbolizing suffering.

We spent a wonderful day with mis hermanos, last time before Ivan and Kim returned to Argentina. They flew overnight and should have arrived back home today, Christmas day.

Monday the small group of new women friends met again, this time at The Loft Inn. In one of the rooms is this beautiful prayer.

There are times when we feel helpless and hopeless. Our hostess said that many of her guests have been moved by this prayer. Sadly, Christmastime is difficult for many. Each year I pray for Christmas miracles, to be able to see God at work in our lives and around us.

It was certainly no divine miracle, but I did get all the year-end letters sent out, most via e-mail on Tuesday,  both the English and Spanish versions. And it was quite an accomplishment to shop and wrap all the gifts...

...and fill the stockings with each person's favorite candy.

They were very pleased and surprised to find their favorite sweets. Most had forgotten that last year I had them fill out a card and list their choice candy. Truth is, I almost forgot about it myself, but was fortunate to find the cards just in time to look for all the favorites. I know so little about the many varieties of candy.

Thursday, SIL Diane came to spend the holiday weekend with us as always. We made one last trip to the mall--fought the crowds; saw a fight in progress; forgot what door we'd come in and took a while finding our car.

A project I failed to complete was one sock of the two pairs I knit for the sons. Again this year I gave a sock and a promise.

Christmas eve morning we joined the Monday meal crowd for the annual holiday brunch at Chef's. Great food and great fun! Here our gracious hosts, Karen still on crutches after her second bunionectomy. 
One day, I woke up and lay in bed trying to remember Christmases past by the decades. Later I looked in the albums and archives for 2000, 1990 and further back, and uncovered some very interesting memories. I hope to write more about that this week.

A photo from twenty years ago was especially pertinent. On Christmas day, mind you, my parents and brother and family came to help us work on our new house to get it ready to move in a few days later. We are wearing work clothes; the electric saw to the left, ballisters lined up on the right, and cute little Tina.

Mother, Kim, me, niece Tina (who just got married!) 
This is what that corner looks like now.

That is, before all the family gathers, then the gifts pile high, most home made or hand crafted with love...

...such as these knit wool hats and neckies, 

...and even cute little boxes with tiny greeting-cards.

Holiday Blessings to all!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2010 Week 51

Last week of a great semester.A few more presentations and a final.
One student had us in stitches with a rendition of First Semester of Spanish Love Song.

Second week of meeting with a small group of new friends to share and support one another.

Notice the lovely china, the scrumptious chocolate cake, the friendly dog at my feet (if I were sitting at my place and not taking a picture), and the lovely sunshine. Outside it was very cold and snowy. All good.

Another outing was midweek to drive my wheelchair-bound friend to the monthly Elderberries meal. The weather was bad, Mike had another committment, so I had to drive the special van. Her enjoyment of the evening made it all worthwhile, and Mike came and drove on the way back. A good day. Sorry no photos.

 All week the snow has persisted. Thursday the commute to teach was long and messy even on the major highways. Would everyone be there for the final exam? Of course, they can't miss. All went well.

Kayla was not feeling well one day. I picked her up from school to give her a ride home. She came out with a ballerina hippo, a special gift from the yearbook teacher.  I begged a smile to see the new hardware in her mouth. She had braces put on the lower teeth this time, but you can't see them in the photo. Do you see the red and green decor?

Friday was niece Tina's big day. For lack of a photo for the day, I will go back and use one taken on Thanksgiving day when she tried her dress on for our advice on accessories.

Notice the cute little purse. You can't see the lovely red shoes.

Finally, this week I continued decorating and got some more Christmas shopping done. I found a new seasonal banner for our stairwell.

Less than a week until Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 Week 50

The Christmas season is in full swing. I love how it brings to the forefront the story of God's love. Everywhere and in many ways we see and hear reminders of the Incarnation--God became man and dwelt among us, Emannuel.

This week I set up the miniature nativity scenes on windowsills. Two new ones are: one from my SIL in Argentina, simply adorable; and another that reminds me of Stephan's ice sculptures. Like ice, it is difficult to photograph.

Speaking of Stephan (Chef-son) he is in New York state. Ice carving competition season has begun.

Monday Night Dinner at Chef's was great fun. Small, the core group, but good food and great stories.

Here, some of the Christmas decor, including Karen's own ceramic nativity in the center.
And speaking of the DIL, she had surgery this week--the second bunionectomy.

Mike continues to work at the Red Barn setting up the art room. This week he installed the kiln found on Craigslist and converted to single fase electricity. It came with some extras such as the POTTERY sign.

Teaching Spanish continues. One more week, then the worst--grading finals and calculating semester grades.
The commute has been okay so far, only one day of hazardous weather. Most of the time I enjoy the sunrise so much that my camera is clicking constantly. Hmmmm, that may be even more dangerous.

Center Stage Dance Studio had their Christmas program Wednesday and Kayla participated in every session from 4:30 to 9:00 pm. I was there for the first and Mike for the last.

Kayla is in the back row on the left. A couple years ago she and I made some of the aprons they wore for this "We got hot chocolate" number.

Just when we run out of Christmas sweets, a neighborly gift appears in the mailbox. I may not need to bake at all! Remember I'm only a 'Koch' (German for cook) by marriage. It is very convenient that the real 'Koch' in the family likes to cook. We were responsible for appetizers for our progressive dinner group and this is what he prepared. Can you guess what they are?

These were the leftovers. A quick photo at the end of a long day when I realized I had taken NO pictures.

Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 Week 49

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Time to put away thanksgiving decor, after the small turkey dinner on Sunday.

Monday, this was my view all day long, grading papers and preparing for class, completely afónica (voiceless), hoping to be able to conduct class by Tuesday.

Only one ornament on the tree--a hand painted gift from one of my students.
And, yes, class did go on as usual even though I had to whisper.

The house Christmas lights welcomed me as I drove up the lane. Thank you, Michael!
The photo was taken later, closer, from the south lawn. The 18 foot span can be seen through the trees from the road 700 feet away.

Wednesday we had our first snowfall and our trees have had a fine dusting ever since.

Thursday, another student gift. Oops, the peppermint bark is almost gone!

Friday, Kayla came over after school and helped get the Christmas decoration going. It is still in progress, but I do believe the cat likes it.

A marvelous event Saturday evening was the performance of Handel's Messiah by the Marion Philharmonic Orchestra and the Taylor University Chorale. All the more special because some of the participants and soloists grew up in our community.

I am especially moved by Handel's masterpiece and the words from Scripture. It starts out with comfort and ends in triumph with Hallelujah and Amen. A wonderful reminder of why we celebrate this season.

Also this week we celebrated the home going of a dear lady in our community, a life well-lived that inspired us all.