Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Finding a New Home for the Dogs


            On December 24, 2014 my children decided to do white elephant gifts for what would be our last Christmas in Utah (only we hadn't planned for it to be our last Christmas together)  Jeanie recycled at least one gift that they had received, possibly both.

  


            They weren't wrapped, but left in black garbage bags, both huge.  One a bit bulkier than the other.  For some reason I was drawn to them - not knowing fully which to choose.  I settled on the flat one, figuring it was a painting of some sort. 
            Many people, when drawing white elephants, will allow a person to choose a wrapped gift or swipe an  unwrapped gift from somebody else.  I didn't know until later that Jenna had actually considered "stealing" the painting I had "unwrapped" but wanted the opportunity to unwrap something herself.  She chose what she considered to be the worst of all the white elephant gifts: sour cream and onion flavored crickets.

             My daughter-in-law, Rochelle was the last one to open a gift.  She chose the remaining plastic bag and removed the mushroom.  We all foresaw that it would be a part of her three-year-old's collection - though the stuffed mushroom appeared to be twice as big as Ester.

             Before we packed our gifts to take home, Jenna asked if she could have the painting.  Funny, because I was going to ask her if she wanted it - but I would have asked as a joke.  She was serious.  And so we took that painting and hung it in her room in West Valley.  We brought it with us to Oregon and it hung in her room at  the first house where we lived.  We brought it with us to our second house.  It hung in her room.  She  had even purchased a dog figurine that matched the painting.  It was placed over the painting until the end of June. 
            The painting had been removed by Service Master when they dried out her room.  It lived in the closet in Roland's office for nearly two months while most of her belongings were a in storage unit somewhere in Winston. When they returned, Jenna rearranged her furniture and walls and decided she no longer had room for this large 16X20 framed picture - though she still really likes it.  She was torn.

             She took a picture and sent it to Kylee along with a photo of a chair we had purchased at a yard sale and a more recent treasure: the hiking bag that had never been used. 


Kylee made a trade with her for some unnecessary stuffed animals.  Jenna loves  animals - even ugly ones.  Not to say that Kylee's animals were ugly . . . I hadn't actually taken a good look.  I just know there are a few animals that I didn't find as appealing as she seems to have. Her room is overcrowded with stuffed animals - which surprisingly did not make it to Winston, but have been in her closet this entire time.  I think Kylee got the better deal.  But that's okay.  Jenna is the one who normally makes out like a bandit.  We both love Kylee and are happy to see her get use out of things that Jenna had already retired.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Let the Music Play


            I love music.  All kinds of music really.  But the holidays are not complete without traditional Christmas songs and hymns depicting the original Bethlehem scene.

            On Wednesday night Jenna asked if we could attend the high school concert scheduled for last night.  She doesn't ask for much and I was excited that she wanted to attend.

            Thus last night we went to the high school to listen to the choir and two bands.  There were a lot more people than chairs.  The conductor of the high school band and choir is the same one who leads the Middle School's. 





            When Jenna has her school concert, it will be in the gym, but I think the concert last night was held in the auditorium.  I had thought perhaps the lunchroom, but I didn't see a kitchen.

            The auditorium/lunchroom and kitchen at Jenna's school are in a building by itself.  It is between the elementary school and middle school.  Both schools share the same cafeteria.  It  is known as the SkyHawk room. I don't have a photo of the building itself, but a rough map location here.
 
            It is where morning meetings are held and dances when they have them.  I think the room at the high school held their concert last night is roughly the same size as the Skyhawk Room.  I think the gym where the Middle School holds their concert seems to provide more seating.          

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Little by Little





        We lived in a different house during Christmas last year. Oregon seems to get really dark.  The street that we lived on was not well lit.  Actually, the entire neighborhood seemed dark - even where the lamp post could be seen.
        


        Tri City seems to have more light.  There's neighborhood streets that are better lit than others - our current street for example; is not near as dark as our first street.   A lamp post stands in the yard of the neighbors to the west of us.  I think it is the brightest lamp post I have ever seen.
       
        Downtown Myrtle Creek is usually lit up - particularly at this time of year. We put our Christmas lights up before December started.  Little by Little we have seen other houses and yards being decorated and providing light on otherwise dark roads.  I love Christmas lights!




Monday, December 5, 2016

Activities

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints introduced us to an Advent Calendar this year








Meanwhile, Jenna has decided that we need to do an additional activity each week.  Thus far most of our activities have been craft related

Day 1 Thursday - she decided we would make wreaths

Initially, Roland made two large bows, but they were nearly as big as the wreath itself

Day 2 Jenna put me in charge of Firday's activity.  We made the tree

On Saturday, we cut out snowflakes while watching "Pete's Dragon"



Day 4 - yesterday.  She put me in charge again, and so I decided we would put a puzzle together.  Roland helped us with it - well, actually ended up doing most of it.  And Jenna disappeared.  She told me to take a picture of the finished product



Friday, December 11, 2015

It Really is the Simple Things

          Christmas does not have to be about spending money or exchanging gifts - though I love the gift giving thing.  There are some years that we have really had to stretch. We have been recipients of "Sub for Santa" many times. Overall, I think those are the most memorable.  And I have really been touched by all of those who have made an effort to our cause.



          We moved to West Valley at the end of 2009.  It was hard to leave our Kearns ward family - but at the same time, we felt that the move was the right thing for us. Less than a week before Christmas, I received a call from the Relief Society President of the ward we had left.  She said that she had gifts for us from the ward.  She came in the second snowstorm of that season.  She brought two other sisters with her.  Their gifts more than doubled the amount of gifts that we already had.

          The next year was Tony's first year in the WV house.  Our gifts were even more sparse than the year prior (before adding gifts from the Kearns ward). Roland's mom and sister had sent us gifts every year, but we hadn't received a package from them that year. I think we had three gifts for Jenna and one for each of the boys.  Roland and I had only one present for one another.  Both simple (like a twinkie sized furuit cake from me;  Roland actually likes fruitcake - but that's beside the point)

          It was just after 10:00 p.m. when I placed the eight gifts beneath the tree and went to bed.  I was really tired and wanted to sleep.  I was in awe the next morning to find an explosion of gifts beneath our tree.  I couldn't even imagine where they had all come from.

          As it turns out, both Tony and Biff had decided to play Santa as well.  Tony had purchased several gifts for each family member, and Biff had kept a huge secret from us as Richard's mom and sister had taken him shopping earlier in August.  They had loaded up his car with gifts  Neither Tony nor Biff was aware that the other had also played Santa.

          I love Christmas.  I love the suspense.  I love the Spirit of giving and doing.  Recently I read a post on facebook which touched my heart.  My friends were driving the Salt Lake roads when traffic had come to a halt.  In the intersection was a woman behind the wheel of a stalled truck.  A man had seen her and tried to help.  When the truck wouldn't start, he offered to push. 






          Seeing that assistance was still needed for moving the truck, my friend got out of his car to assist with pushing also.  The next thing my friends saw others had left their cars and were helping to push the truck out of the intersection.  No honking of cars or verbal abuse from other drivers.  The lights had changed, but every driver seemed to be patiently waiting - on the roads of Salt Lake.  That, my friends, is truly a Christmas miracle.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12 Days of Nativity


About a year and a half ago, after we cleaned mom’s house, I reclaimed my nativity mentioned here and learned that it was just too large for my small house and my less-than-tidy family.  Last year was the only year I put it up.

My family had sent me a wooden nativity the first Christmas I was on my mission.  The nativity consisted of five pieces: Mary, Joseph, two lambs and the baby Jesus.  My brother Patrick had painted each of the figures. 

Two years after I had returned from my mission, I had purchased a bunch of Christmas items that went on clearance following the holidays.  One of the items I purchased was a three-piece wooden set with painted camel, the three wisemen and a shepherd.  I added those to my existing nativity.  That is what I used for several years after Roland and I were married.

My mom had given me a small nativity sometime before we had moved to West Valley.  It was smaller than my wooden set, and often I displayed both sets.  I hope that they are still in the shed, but it dawned on me that since I haven’t run across either, that they may have been in the same box with my dip n drape nativity – never to be seen again.  Except for a wooden lamb that somehow drifted from the rest of the set, and a small Mary from the other.  

Randy said he wished I had given him the nativity – which is odd, because of all my children, I figure that he really wouldn’t want it.  Thus I thought I would give him one of the missing nativities, should I have come across them. But alas, it is still not discovered.

Last year Roland purchased another nativity set and put Biff in charge of picking out the figures.  I have Mary, Joseph, three wisemen, a donkey, a lamb, a camel, an angel and surely you’ve heard of the Christmas rooster – which by the way is almost the same size as the sheep.  And so this year I added Ooki’s elephant to the set.  The rooster actually looks more out of place than the elephant does.

Well, somebody has decided to give each of our activity girls a nativity set – one piece at a time. Jenna received Mary on the 16th I believe.  I noticed one of her friends had taken a picture of her Mary and posted that someone had left it along with the scripture.  The scripture that came with the first nativity figure was Luke 1:26-31.

The following day Jenna received Joseph who came with a verse from the children’s songbook.  The third day was a donkey.  The forth day was the Stable.  The fifth day was a cow.  And the next three days were wisemen.

         Jenna had diligently taken pictures.  The last she took was of the cow.  She had borrowed my LG cell phone – which I had to replace as it cut the conversation.  I still use it as a directory and had told Jenna that she could borrow it to take to school for a brilliant idea she had wanted to make as a gift for her teachers.  Unfortunately it did not work out.  I had forgotten I would need a chip to transfer pictures, but did not have a chip on hand nor do I want to invest in another after losing two chips already.

Unlike the nativity that I received last year, Jenna’s includes a shepherd – which came next and was followed by a sheep.  We’ll have to see what the next two days bring.  I imagine that Christmas Eve will come with the Christ Child.  Pics will come – eventually.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Holidays are the Hardest - Missing Traditions

Pie Making




         I can’t find a reference to mom’s traditional pie making event. I suppose it could have started with her children.  I do recall having assisted with pies at least once in my childhood.  Kayla says she remembers a time when it was just her and Corey that did it with mom.  I don’t think I ever viewed it as an actual tradition until Ellen and Kimball were small.

            My mom made a huge assortment of pies on the Wednesday before  Thanksgiving each year.  The grandkids looked forward to assisting with rolling out the dough and filling the pie with whatever they chose. 
            We’d have apple pie, banana cream pies, coconut cream, chocolate cream, cherry, lemon meringue and of course, pumpkin.  More pies were added to the dinner each time new grandkids were added to the family.

            I don’t remember how often my boys had made pies with grandma.  At least twice – and they have fond memories.  And I have pictures of some of the pie making events.  Jaime may have been a baby when some of these were taken.  Neither Jenna nor I recall her ever having had the opportunity to assist with rolling out the dough or wearing an apron.



            It wasn’t long after Jenna was born when mom announced her last year for her annual pie making event.  Each year after that we ate pies that had been made in the bakery department of various stores.

            My boys had just recently commented on how much fun they had had making pies – and then Kayla had posted a message in facebook about the yesteryear tradition.  I got overly sentimental and cried for nearly a half hour.

            I miss the family that I grew up with. I miss so many traditions that we shared at one time.



 Hand Made Nativity


            When I was growing up, I loved “Dip n Drape” dolls.  I remember going with mom to look at pattarns and material for the project.  We settled on a nativity set as it was closed to the holidays.  I remember buying Styrofoam balls and cones and craft sticks and following directions.  I was in high school at the time.

            It was a good first project.  We had it on display just once a year – usually on top of the piano – where the entire thing fit nicely.  And many of the flaws were overlooked – like one wiseman who had the appearance of having a “stuck-up” personality.  And one wiseman who’s arms were heavier than his body – and was giving a present to lean on so that he did not appear as though he was trying to do push-ups.  And the baby Jesus became a permanent part of what Mary held in her arms – though it probably looked like she was dropping him.

            I had intended on making a manger – so that it would appear that she was placing him in.  I had intended to make camels and sheep – though realistically the seven pieces I had took up quite a bit of room both on display and then in storage.

            It boggles my mind that the set has been around since I was in high school – making it roughly thirty-five years old now.  Mom hadn’t taken it out the last few years that she lived at home.  And I took it back before we sold her house. 

Growing up, I never thought of our house as huge.  It was an average sized house.  It had three bedrooms, two baths, living room, kitchen and unfinished basement.

            Over the years my parents put in the money to have half of the basement finished and added a back room addition to the house.  The house included five bedrooms, three bathrooms, kitchen, living room, family room, game room, dining room, laundry room, storage room – not to mention it had an attic. 

            I’ve lived in two houses since I’ve been married.  The two houses combined did not have as much space as the house I grew up in.  So of course there is not nearly as much storage room


         I had put the nativity up last year.  I had to put the wisemen on a different area than the other four pieces.  Roland had suggested that I part with it last year.  I just didn’t have the heart to throw it away – though many of the dolls were beheaded.  I had planned on making it one more round.

We have even less room for it to be displayed than we had last year.  Plus I’ve been cleaning out my shed and either throwing out or donating a lot.  (12 yard bags and counting) but I still couldn’t bring myself to throw it out. 

         I knew if I donated the dolls to the thrift store, the majority (if not all) would get thrown away, and so I put it in the classifieds and someone picked it up less than an hour after I had posted for free.  She didn’t seem to mind the fact that many of the dolls needed to be repaired.   I hope it works for her and that it may be around for a few more years at least.  


  

Christmas Lights








I remember one year going with my sibs and mom to temple square.  It was Christmas night and the weather was really quite awesome.  We had gone downtown to see the lights.

This year the November was nice weather overall.  Cold, but bearable.  Excpet the last day.  It was cold and bleak and actual typical of so many November days that I can remember – although the last few years have seemed to make an exception.

            I was surprised at how warm the weather seemed yesterday – well, in comparison to Sunday.  Jenna and I started out with a beautiful morning.  I had dressed in layers, but had taken the top layer off as I headed back home.

            I had dressed in layers while picking her up.  I had stripped both layers down while waiting for school to end.  Both Jenna and I carried our coats to the bus stop.  But by the time we reached the crossover, we both had our coats back on.  It cools down quite drastically once the earth rotates away from the sun.

            Roland had given me a camera for Christmas last year – only he had given it to me before Thanksgiving so that I could take pictures and get a feel for it before Christmsa.  It was a nice camera.  A red Nikon which I liked a lot – that is until pushing the power button no longer did anything.  




It had died before Roland and I had taken to Jenna to Disneyland at the end of August.  I hadn’t had the camera an entire year.  That was truly upsetting.  





            I was hoping the battery was the problem, but I had the battery tested in addition to another working battery put in my camera.  I was told my best bet was to send it into the manufacturer – which I did.  I never heard back from them.

            The other night he produced another camera meant for Christmas.  This time a Sony W830 – which may take me a while to figure out.  I’ve had Sonys before, and I like them, but they have all died as well.  And I don’t expect this one will last much longer than the Nikon – though I welcome the opportunity to be proven wrong.



            I told Jenna that we should go downtown to see the lights.  December started out with quite pleasant weather and I though since it was so nice that we should go last night. I suggested to Roland that we go see the lights for family home evening.    I would have just taken Jenna on the train if he had not wanted to go. 

            Downtown was crowded with patrons who had come to see the lights and take pictures.  I really don’t have the hang of my camera.  It will be a while.  I did get a few okay pictures – among a bunch of duds.  Thank heaven for Photoshop, huh?









Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Truth About Santa


 



Almost every year since we moved to West Valley, Roland will ask, “When should we tell Jenna about Santa Clause” 

I always answer, “Tell her what?”

“There’s no such thing as Santa”

“What do you mean?”

He gives me a look.

“Roland.  I believe in Santa.  I have been Santa.  And we have been recipients of Santa a huge amount of times.  What do you mean there’s no such thing as Santa?”

“We need to tell Jenna that you and I are the ones who put the presents out.”

“Oh . . . why?”

“You don’t want her to be the only one in third, forth, fifth grade to still believe.”

“Tony is 23, 24, 25 and he still believes in Santa Clause. I’m 48, 49 . . . and I still believe.”
Another rolling of the eyes.

Media warns us about targeted homes during this time of the year.  Robbed of Christmas by thieves.  We left the house around 2:30 and did not return until after 8:30.  We had always done Christmas Eve at mom’s house.  Perhaps a few times at Patrick and Sunny’s.  But I did not spend Christmas with my sibs last year.  Each had made obligations with other people.  Roland, Jenna, Biff and I spent Christmas Eve with mom.

This year Randy took it upon himself to host the family gathering on Christmas Eve.  All three Romero boys with their wives, our granddaughter Ester, Roland, Jenna and I gathered at the home of Randy and Carrie.  We spent some time together before exchanging gifts – something we had always done with mom.

Before we left for Randy and Carrie's house I turned on the light in the backroom and plugged in the Christmas tree.  I prayed that we would not become a target of thievery.  Upon our return home we discovered the opposite.  Instead of taking (or stealing) gifts, someone had left two bags full of presents.  FULL.  I think it is the third or forth time we’ve returned home to find presents left on our door step (though the first time in this house) Santa also left this note:



I would have thought Jenna herself had done it just to prove a point.  But of course she couldn’t have.

“See daddy.  Santa is real,” she said to Roland.  
 Just moments later she asked me, “Why doesn’t daddy believe in Santa Clause?”

“I don’t know.  I have explained it to him just as I have with you.”

When Jenna was six I told her that Santa does not always wear red.  He doesn’t necessarily have a white beard or a very large belly.  Sometimes Santa is not even male nor does he always appear in the winter time.  Sometimes “Santa” may leave a sack of groceries on your doorstep in the summer or leave a coat or warm blanket for you in the fall.  Santa goes by many different names.  And he likes to remain anonymous.

 
Many have commercialized Christmas. Santa becomes a symbol of selling product – the commercialized Santa.  Not the Spirit of Santa – or the Spirit of Christ.  When one gives secretly. Santa is a symbol of Christ.  I sincerely believe that.

Roland and I purchased the game “Operation” and Jenna had picked out a pair of shoes that were on close out.  She said we could wrap them and put them under the tree. Those were the only two things that we had purchased for Jenna.  Now (I kid you not) there are about 30 presents under the tree just for her – at least I think they are for her.  Santa put tags on all of the wrapped items but neglected to put names on any of the tags – and so we will just have Jenna open all gifts with no names and let her divvy them out as she sees fit.

Roland’s mom has sent gifts in the past, but I recall our second year in WV there was nothing in the mail from her.  I wasn’t upset about it, but I was surprised.  As Christmas got closer, I hadn’t given it much thought.  

Biff and Tony were both living at home (Randy was on his mission) and things were tight that year.  I think we purchased three small gifts for each person.  I had placed them beneath the tree before 10:00 (first visit from Santa) 

When I awoke the next morning, there was 3-4 times the amount of presents than there had been when I went to bed.  Tony had a generous heart that year and decided that he would play Santa (2nd visit) and Biff (who had spent two weeks in August with Roland’s family) had placed gifts beneath the tree from Roland’s family and Santa (3rd visit) That year was definitely full of surprises.

We have been blessed immensely.  I hope to play Santa to others the way others have played Santa to our family.  Although when we have been the recipients our gifts seem to outweigh anything that Roland and I have done on our own.  Jenna’s going to be overwhelmed.  I know I am.  It's kind of like mom and dad stopped by to surprise us - but of course I think tangible gifts had to have come from a tangible being.  Perhaps someone related to mom and dad? 
 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Gingerbread Traditions



           As I have mentioned in a few posts already, I grew up in a house across the street from George and Peggy Bird. Both are from American Fork.  Peggy grew up learning all of the domestic skills of saintly motherhood.  She cooked, she sewed, and she baked. She loved her boys.  She was a devoted mother.
           
            My mom was raised in San Francisco.  She did not grow up understanding canning and food storage or many of the skills that Peggy had acquired.  Mom did try her hand at baking, sewing, crocheting, and even canning.  She loved us.  She was a good mom.  But I think my brother Patrick and I both believed that Peggy was better at baking.  It seemed like she was always baking.  I remember almost every time I walked into the house, she was baking.  What I remember most is the molasses cookies.  Was there ever a time I had gone across the street when molasses cookies weren’t available?  Not when I was in elementary school anyway.

 

I also remember the many Christmases we spent with the Birds. We became part of their family and enjoyed their traditions.

            There was the annual Christmas pageant.  For the longest time I was Mary.  When other families were invited to join in the production I lost my glorified role.  I remember getting demoted to an angel with no speaking parts.   Humility was not my strong suit.




            One tradition that mom had adapted into our own household was the annual ornament that each of us received and would add to the tree.  And when we were grown and out on our own or starting our own families, we would take our ornaments with us.

            One tradition that we didn’t adapt (though Patrick and I would drop hints each year) was the annual gingerbread house that Peggy made from scratch (I now fully understand why mom didn’t seem as excited about what Patrick and I thought would be great.  And perhaps she did attempt it but it just wasn’t her forte)



            I don’t know how early in the month she made it.  I would imagine it was decorated on a Monday night.  Each of the boys would help decorate (as I recall) and it would become part of the decorations.  On New Years Eve the boys would hold their annual Gingerbread Smash.  I think Patrick must have gone to them all – and I’d gone to a few (I usually got sick just before the new year) and we would each have an opportunity for hacking away at the house and then devour it.  That was something special.

 

            Nowadays commercialism offers pre-made gingerbread kits.  The taste of the gingerbread isn’t near as wonderful as the rich taste of Peggy’s made-from-love.  But Roland purchases kits each year – first for the boys and now for Jenna.  And each year Roland builds the house and instructs the kids on how to assist and then allows them to finish decorating with wherever their imaginations lead.  Less than 24 hours later the house gets broken into.  A few pieces here and there – the house goes from slum to run down eye-sore.  He doesn’t believe in display.  Too bad.
 


            Fortunately I have taken pictures every year – even last year when the house started out looking like a HUD home. Crooked, run-down.  Each year we’ve used up all the frosting.  This year was just a little bit different.  Roland purchased a pre-made house that we didn't have to glue.  We also ended up with tons of frosting left.



            Jenna decided that she wanted a green roof.  Roland helped her to spread the icing.  Other than that she decorated the entire thing by herself.  She included a flower on one side and a vegetable garden behind the house.  I thought it ironic that she’d call them vegetables as two of them in real life are vegetables that she refuses to let near her mouth.  



            Jenna created a vine and gave it tomatoes.  Next to that are two carrots.  And then a corn stalk with a few ears.  Finally eggplant which I don’t think she’s ever tasted before.  I have.  Haven’t been impressed with the taste of it.



            On the other side is a Christmas tree.  A Christmas tree and a vegetable garden.  I suppose it’s possible.  Not in my part of the world.



            Roland took some cookies out of the pantry and told us to decorate them. 



We still have frosting left.  But many parts of the gingerbread house have been eaten - including some of the roof.