Life does have a way of taking over at times. I’m so sorry I’m running behind these past few days!

When does your family open their presents?

This category has changed a lot over the years for me as I have gotten older and had my own family. Being a military family on a tight budget I’ve always  in the past started shopping early (like in January) to work everything in that we wanted to do so that it fit into our tight budget. It became a habit 😀

My family traditions as a kid were of a BIG Christmas eve open with lots of family and that carried on through college, but as we (cousins) all got older and began getting married with families of our own, our grandparents passed on, some of us moved away, blended families (each with their own traditions) were formed, etc… getting together for both Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day became harder and harder to do. 

Eventually Christmas eve became a MUCH smaller event for mainly immediate family. We would have a small dinner and open our gifts to each other that night.  Christmas morning was for being at our respective homes with our own kids opening presents and then the larger family get together much later on Christmas day for dinner at just one place, usually my grandparent’s or parent’s house and then eventually it was at our house after my dad passed away.

These days with everyone all over the country, both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are mainly just hubby and I with LOTS of phone calls to family and friends and we open our gifts on Christmas morning.

In years past we would attend the Christmas party at the Eagles and then deliver the neighbor plates and gifts to friends on Christmas Eve. 😀


This category sounds a bit like Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. That was intentional on my part. I believe there are truly lessons to be learned from that story! I don’t believe that we have to be the mean spirited, unkind Ebeneezer Scrooge with a life gone wrong though LOL 😀 in order to benefit from the lessons. We can CHOOSE to live a better life and be PRESENT in order to make a better FUTURE. There is ALWAYS room to BE BETTER and MORE loving and MORE giving!

Christmas Past truly is a COMPLETELY subjective category. The older I get the more I realize that it’s the traditions and the memories that weave our holidays together. It’s little things like the who puts the lights on the tree or the angel on top of it. It’s the favorite recipes that you only make at Christmas time. It’s the laughter of the munchkins each morning as they discover what mischief AnnaBelle has gotten into. It’s a baking day with the munchkins making your favorite traditional recipes to share on Giving plates to the neighbors…

This category for me is also subjective based on where we are living at the time. Again this year being back in the cold of the Pacific Northwest is actually making me remember Snowy Christmases for some reason. A couple of my favorite Christmases were when we were in Upper Peninsula Michigan.  Maybe it was the trees, water and snow, but for me it was also the old churches. There was so much history there. These are 2 of my favorite country churches from Michigan.  I took these pictures in 2011 at Christmas time, on the same day. That’s just how fast weather changes with lake effect snow!

I JUST LOVE OLD CHURCHES! The bottom 3 pictures are from a REALLY neat stone church in the middle of Iron River, Michigan.
But, my favorite country church is from a teeny tiny little town in Michigan called Mansfield. It was once a growing little town until there was a mine disaster. Now all that exists is the monument to the disaster, the church and a few random homes.
These OLD Christmas pictures from a million years ago that I found in some old files bring back so many memories of the past!  Just goes to show you how subjective your memories of the past can be. The little boy with his back to you is my brother who in the last picture though much younger is much bigger than I am. I have NO idea what that look is all about, but it doesn’t look like I was very happy 😀 And it seems like there are a bunch of pictures with us sitting on that same step over the years 😀

While none of us actually know what the future holds, I pray that my friends and family have a WONDERFUL holiday and Happy New Year that looks even more “normal” than this past year has. May 2023 hold wonder, love, health and happiness for us all!


A couple years ago before COVID and again this year we went to HOLIDAY LIGHTS at Shore Acres on the Oregon coast. It doesn’t change in layout so it’s NOT an EVERY year thing. At least this year it didn’t rain but that made it bitterly cold! ALL of our travel is “AROUND” Christmas and never ON Christmas. The first time we arrived fairly early, just before dusk so we could walk through and get the lay of the land before walking through a second time after dark. This time they had “reserved” times only so we couldn’t do that. The displays are animated and themed.

Shore Acres is literally perched on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean and began as a private estate for Louis J. Simpson, a shipbuilder. Simpson developed the 3 story mansion complete with an indoor heated pool and ballroom as his “summer home”. The surrounding grounds included 5 acres of formal gardens full of shrubs , trees and flowering plants brought from around the world by himself and various lumbermen. There is even a 100 foot lily pond and caretaker’s cottage. The cottage still stands and was really decorated cute! I’d live there. I really wish I had seen the original mansion, but it has since been torn down after a fire in 1921 and the rebuild was never finished because of the depression and fell into disrepair. Oregon bought the property in 1942 for use as a public park. The gardens, lily pond and caretakers cottage were restored while the mansion was razed.

Shore Acres Holiday Lights is by decorated sponsors and volunteers. This is an Annual event, but they did miss a couple of years during COVID and is famous for its beautiful 7 acre botanical gardens and Japanese lily pond on the Oregon coast among the trees. It has over 350,000 lights, animated displays, Santa, choirs… A beautiful holiday tradition for the whole family.

Even on the years we travel to SIL’s party, we are home by Christmas itself. I love having our tree and decorations with a relaxed Christmas Day schedule. We do try and take 1 trip to see some sort of “City Sidewalks” type event.

These are a few of my favorite pictures from our trip to Holiday Lights at Shore Acres on the coast. We took some time to play in a couple of the small towns and stayed over so we didn’t have to drive the windy roads late at night in the rain. We were fortunate to be able to have lunch with an old friend to catch up the next day before we drove home. It’s a walking tour and it was COLD as all get out, but ALSO really beautiful.

2013 was the year of the “white” one 😀 was the first truly white Christmas we had here. I have HIGH hopes for this year, but there is a storm moving in that appears to be a bit warmer so it may just be a WET one instead of a WHITE one 🙁
Hubby made this for me to wake up to in the back yard before the snow got too bad that year. The house across the street that usually looked horrible back then, but NOT when it was under a beautiful blanket of snow. We are looking forward to the “new” neighbors who recently purchased it though as they appear to be making some rather nice updates while it sits vacant. So we will see.
Unfortunately, being in a cul-de-sac, delivery tracks leave MANY tire tracks at this time of year to mar the beautiful snow cover.
Even Rudolph was shivering! But not this year as he was previously donated to charity 😀
The first day after he storm was absolutely gorgeous though!
The duck pond behind the neighborhood was truly a work of art.
Obviously we hadn’t gone anywhere – no tire tracks in the driveway!
The fish ladder was like glass with the cold and ice.

The following pictures are from 2014 and one of my favorite picture years. The Festival of Lights is now 30 years old and a great way to kick off the holiday season. It’s an ALL Volunteer and NON-Profit.  It began as a fundraiser sponsored by the Rotary Club to help get the city out of debt and then took on a life of its own and now helps with scholarships and special projects. The festival runs every night from Thanksgiving to New Years. So if you have company in town for Thanksgiving it’s a great way to jump start to your holidays. You can drive your own car or take a horse drawn carriage ride through the displays. They have also coordinated a local radio station to listen to as you view the displays. The night we went through the fog was moving in early so a few of the pictures look a bit “smoky”.They have the world’s tallest (41 feet, 16,000 pounds with a working jaw) nutcracker built by a local company, 500,00 lights, 90 animated displays, 3D displays, horse drawn carriage rides through the displays and a Holiday Village with Santa, hot cider with a bake sale and a synchronized light show in the courtyard. The displays depict fairy tales, the military, patriotism, the local logging industry, local vineyards, local fishing and the traditional Christmas songs and scenes. People come from all over to see it. Unfortunately for locals, it doesn’t change much, but is still fun every few years.

Many years ago three of my favorite munchkins were coincidentally there the same night we were so I had to snap a few pictures of their discussions with Santa. They have grown SOOOOOOOO much since then! The two oldest now tower over me!
Even the lights with errors turned out cute.  It was difficult to get great pictures or continuous pictures of the animated scenes since there were so many cars behind us.


Be sure to join us for Happy Homemaker Monday and link up with our host, Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

How is everyone? Are you all scurrying around like I am all of a sudden with only 6 days til Christmas? Everything was moving along just fine until we took our little trip that was supposed be no BIG deal.

Seems like ever since we got back everything has been altered – my time away from home has increased, my jam and baking time has decreased… which all resulted in me getting behind on posting BLOGMAS links and visiting blogs though I made a BIG dent in remedying that last night and will continue to get caught up tonight. Thank you Jean for playing along so much!

I even had a girlfriend text and ask if everything was okay because I was usually her first card received. I sat here last night trying to finish mine up. This might be the first year my cards have been late! 😀

The weather here has been BRRRRR cold with highs in the 30’s and the lows in the high 20’s. I REALLY don’t mind the cold, but it’s a WET cold here that gets into your bones! We went to the Timber Town Tinsel Town Electric parade on Saturday night that was supposed to begin at 7PM, but didn’t actually begin until 715PM. It wasn’t a very long parade, only about 45 minutes, but I was FROZEN by the time it was over and it was 24° when we got home!

We had a GREAT trip last week to SHORE ACRES to see the Holiday lights! We were there the Christmas before the COVID lockdown began and it was pouring down rain. Fortunately, this year it wasn’t raining, but it was COLD, BRR REALLY cold! The substitute rental had a beautiful location right on the bay. It also had VERY limited TV channels, but we were able to get NETFLIX and watched The Christmas Chronicles one evening while sitting by the fire.

The trip did set me back a bit on Christmas prep, but that’s okay. Several friends are quite ill and I filled in a few duties for them at our Eagles post also, but was happy to do it. A friend and I went clothes and toy shopping yesterday for the kids of the needy family the Auxiliary adopted for the holidays. We were able to get it all wrapped in the afternoon. Today we’re going to finish the food shopping and then deliver it all this afternoon.

I was supposed to be cooking tomorrow, again on Friday and next Tuesday for the Eagles, but unfortunately they have decided to close until the New Year due to so much illness happening amongst the members 🙁

  • LAUNDRY & CLEANING I’ve been deep cleaning this week getting ready the holidays.
  • GROCERIES & ERRANDS YAY I’m done until 2023.
  • PAPERWORK, PHONE CALLS & PROJECTS Nothing this week except charity projects and baking for neighbor holiday plates.
  • RECIPE RESEARCH & MENU PLANNING Taking a break until 2023.

  • NETFLIX Christmas Chronicles, Naughty & Nice
  • CABLE A few Hallmark movies and Christmas shows
  • CHRISTMAS MOVIES It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, The Polar Express, The Shop Around the Corner, It happened on 5th Avenue, Die Hard (and yes it’s a Christmas movie), Christmas Vacation, Elf, Love Actually…

This week is a fun read – Snowfall & Secrets by Kimmy Loth, a new to me author that I chose from a list on Bookbub for a free read 😀

12/ 19 BMONDAY
12/23 FRIDAY
12/25 SUNDAY

I met 2 really cool cats this past week. The gray and white is “Bella” from our time at the coast. Bella is evidently the resident neighborhood guest greeter. She was so friendly, sweet and soft. She just marched herself into the house like she belonged there 😀 The black and white is KitKat, an older cat and my neighbor’s daughter’s cat who is here visiting through the holidays. KitKat is even sweeter and even softer! 😀 I’m still editing the pictures from the coast and the parade, but hope to get that post up very soon.

links will be up soon 😀



I’m a Virgo and as such tend to make lists and be over-prepared as a general rule.  So, the only last minute gifts I tend to need are a couple extras for those unexpected visits that come up like a surprise gift from a neighbor.

A few of the “things” I keep on hand (with a festive ribbon already tied to them) for those occasions are:

  • Coffee gift cards
  • Homemade JARS such as the Harvest Soup or Brownie mixes I did this year
  • Soft, comfy lap blankets
  • Homemade applesauce
  • Homemade jam
  • And closer to the actual day a plate full of homemade goodies

Here are a couple of recipes I make most years that are great to have around and NEVER, EVER go to waste whether they are given as gifts or eaten in house LOL 😀

1 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup Kraft caramel bits
14 ounces Eagle-Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Fisher’s Cinnamon Pecans
  • Line a 9×9 pan with heavy duty foil leaving enough foil overhanging the edges to use as handle to lift the foil out of the pan after the fudge has set.
  • Using a double boiler over medium heat melt the chips, caramel bits and condensed milk together until smooth.
  • Immediately pour into the foil lined pan.
  • Top with pecans using a piece of wax paper to press the pecans slightly into the fudge.

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
14 ounces Eagle-Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Crushed Honey Roasted Peanuts or walnuts

  • Line a 9×9 pan with heavy duty foil leaving enough foil overhanging the edges to use as handle to lift the foil out of the pan after the fudge has set.
  • Using a double boiler over medium heat melt the chips and condensed milk together until smooth.
  • Immediately pour into the foil lined pan.
  • Top with peanut pieces using a piece of wax paper to press the pecans slightly into the fudge.


WOW I’m truly blessed with so many to choose from!

Some of my favorites are my very first personal desk when I was 9, my aunt coming to visit from Texas around that same time and sitting on the floor in a leather dress playing A Barrel of Monkeys with the younger kids or maybe the year I got my first bike, whoops wait that was the birthday before Christmas.

But I think my all time favorite was when my grandfather who worked for General Electric as an X-ray technician of sorts (he oversaw the installation and calibration of X-ray equipment) and the year he brought home a GE Snow tree with beautiful ornate ornaments (I still don’t know the correlation between between being an X-ray technician and Christmas trees though).

Anyway this tree had a HUGE decorated cardboard base and once the tree was up and decorated you filled this base with thousands of tiny Styrofoam balls and when you turned the switch on the tree would make it’s own snow.  As a kid I thought it was pretty cool, but as an adult I look back and realize what a MESS it made!! Especially when the Santa Ana winds were blowing and the static electricity was high – those damn balls stuck to EVERYTHING! We lived in the high desert of southern California and the winds were ever present during December, often morphing into their severe form of Devil Winds and the snow was nowhere to be found so the tree was a novelty we all enjoyed.

But wait, that is not my favorite memory. It turns out that my favorite memory is of trying to stump my dad each AND EVERY year with his gift – it became a mission of sorts to be the first person to stump him. I swear the man was like Carnac when it came to knowing what was inside a box. We tried EVERY year to stump him and I don’t remember ever being able to actually do it. We tried adding bricks, taping a silver dollar with duct tape to the bottom so it would flip back and forth to make noise when you shook it, the box inside a box trick, adding a pair of old shoes… but he ALWAYS guessed!  I still don’t know how he did it. Sadly 🙁 this will be the 30th Christmas without him. He died so young, but I have so many wonderful memories of him and Christmas from when I was young.


Today was supposed to be about the weather, winter wonderland and Timber Town parade. But, then I realized I planned that poorly as tonight is this year’s parade. So, I’m trading today with tomorrow 😀

Christmas is the most important holiday to me and not because Santa comes, though that is pretty important to the kiddos, but more importantly, it’s a caring spirit, a sharing feeling, an attitude that I try to practice all year long.  I truly feel good about giving – whether it’s the Angel trees I select gifts for or the smile from the Salvation Army bell ringer as you put your money in their red bucket and wish them Merry Christmas. 

For 10 years I chaired an Angel Tree Program for FISH and I loved doing it! I prepared for it every year and I truly believe each year got better and better. The night before we distributed the gifts I would go shopping for the teenage girls and boys that always seemed to fall through the cracks in the donations.  We were ALWAYS lacking in gifts for the teen girls no matter what we tried to boost things up for them.  So, now when I choose the angels from the trees in the community I seek out the teenage girls specifically.

Christmas means lots and lots of memories of family, some no longer with us, but ALWAYS in my heart when I hang an ornament that reminds me of that person or a recipe that they always prepared like my dad’s, Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing or Gram’s Christmas box full of goodies picked out just for each one of us or…

One of the things I try to practice is to make at least one homemade gift each year – nothing extravagant, but just something that says “I MADE THIS with LOVE JUST FOR YOU“.

The years that we host the Christmas holidays we include a lot of family recipes.  But, more importantly, Christmas is the spirit of Love and Giving and it must be felt and shared. Christmas is a gift from above and each year as I grow older I realize more and more that Christmas is about Love, Peace, Sharing, Caring and just being together.

I can only answer for myself, but I assume for those that are not religious, the meaning of Christmas is still a celebration, but one of celebrating friendships and family by gathering to eat together, share their time and share tokens of appreciation in the form of gifts with others.

May we ALL carry the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all throughout the year by remembering the REAL reason for the season.


I touched on this topic a bit in a prior post. But, just giving you some ideas didn’t seem like enough. There are questions. Lots of questions 😀 There are so many ways to wrap or bag presents!!

Do you save paper from year to year? My grandmother always neatly unwrapped her packages so she could save the paper to re-wrap something in the future.

My cousin is an artist and loves to die her own fabrics that she uses to wrap gifts in.

Do you write directly on the paper or bag or do you like cute gift tags? Do you make your own? Do you use last year’s cards to make this year’s tags?

Do you prefer gift bags? Do you use tissue paper?

Do you use bows or ribbons or both? Do you add stickers? Do you add ornaments? Do you use decorative tapes?

Do you disguise the gift in the way you wrap them to try and confuse the receiver?

Or do you a little bit of all of the above?

I wrapped as I went this year and boy did that make things easier than facing a large pill of gifts to wrap all at one time! I also went pretty simply with color coordinated papers, matching ribbons, cute little tags or their favorite character ornaments and colored twines. For the munchkins I always have some fun ornament style tags made.

There are so MANY fun ideas to try ALL over PINTEREST, but these are some of my favorites!  These are also some simpler, but classic ideas! I LOVE that some of them are so creative and use plainer papers – papers that can be used year round and then spruced up for whatever the occasion is.



Do you have a special character that you collect and decorate with? Originally I collected Angels and Santas. Then I added snowmen. Then I added Reindeer. And then I added gnomes. And then I added Peanuts. And I LOVE to find unique nativities. I also love bubble lights and have added a few displays. I want to like nutcrackers, but I just can’t get there 😀


Today is supposed to be about your favorite character, but I didn’t get the pictures for it done before we went on our trip that we won’t be home from until later today so I’m trading it with tomorrow’s favorite family traditions 🙂

This has always been a really hard category for me.  I LOVE Christmas!  There is nothing about this season I don’t like short of maybe crowds of rude people and Black Friday.

Sometimes seeing things through someone else’s eyes can give the same old traditions new meaning and in the long run that can also make the favorite traditions and the memories mean even that much more.

If I had to pick just one tradition though, it would be putting up the tree as a family while eating leftover turkey (from Thanksgiving) sandwiches.  When I was a kid we usually put our tree up the day after Thanksgiving and leave it until Kings Day, the Epiphany on January 6th. 

Hubby and I USUALLY still do that and for that reason we like to go cut our own tree so it’s fresh and lasts the entire time.  I use an apple cider/sugar mix that keeps the sap from forming on the cut area and keep the water cool and full. But, this is the year we broke with tradition and used the artificial tree, put it up before Halloween and ate out for Thanksgiving so didn’t have any leftover turkey for the sandwiches 🙁

When I was a kid we did a BIG family get together with a HUGE buffet of fun food and we opened our family presents on Christmas Eve.  I just saw a few of my cousins recently and we were reminiscing about some of those holidays and LOL how horrible our wardrobes were back then. Thankfully, I’m not in the bottom picture because I remember what I was wearing! But I love my brother’s plaid pants and Monica’s floral blouse. If you don’t hear from me for a few days I’m SURE it’s because one them found me after seeing that I posted this picture LOL 😀My mom recently retired that tablecloth finally! I never did like it so that made me very happy!

Then on Christmas Day we would do Christmas morning and “Santa” with just the immediate family followed by a BIG turkey dinner with all the trimmings including my dad’s stuffing and giblet gravy with ALL the family as well as extended family, which included crazy Aunt Louise and Uncle Herb. I replicated dad’s stuffing recipe a few years ago (Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing) and that is now a MUST TRADITION for the Christmas meal no matter what the protein is.

But, what was is just that, WAS so our newest tradition in the last several years is watching Christmas movies, just the two of us and dreaming about moving to every small town depicted in them, kind of like Stars Hollow from the Gilmore Girls.  We loved that show!



BEFORE I get to my normal more solemn stories and inspirations I wanted to share this story that made me laugh and then laugh some more! I found this on facebook so don’t know where it actually originated.

My husband added these “cookies” to his Walmart order last week, to meet the minimum amount for free shipping. If he’d clicked on them for more info before clicking “Add to Cart,” he might have noticed the very tiny letters that said, “real USA chicken as the #1 ingredient” and questioned his purchase. But, as he did not do that, they ended up on our front porch, along with a pack of Oreos. This was a pleasant surprise to my kids, who wasted no time digging in. I opened the package for them, which I might not have done if I’d noticed the tiny words on the label that read, “treats for dogs.” Or if I’d noticed that some of them were shaped like a dog bone. Or if I’d sniffed them after cutting off the shrink-wrap.

But, as they looked like cookies, said “Christmas cookie biscuits” on the label, and arrived with Oreos, in no part of my mind was I thinking that maybe I should verify that they were for human consumption.

So strong was my assumption that they were actual cookies, that I thought nothing of it when my 11-year-old daughter complained that they tasted bad. Store-bought sugar cookies are always gross, which is why I wasn’t tempted to eat one. I shrugged and said, “Try microwaving it for 10 seconds, they’re probably frozen from being outside.” She did so, but it didn’t help. She told me they tasted the way she imagined dog food would taste. STILL no alarm bells in my mind. Meanwhile, my 14-year-old son ate all of his cookie with no complaint. One of my neighbor’s boys even ate one later that evening, again with no complaint!

The next day, my 6-year-old son, who hadn’t had one yet, joked that he was going to have a dog treat (referring to the cookies). I asked why he said that, and he said because they were shaped like bones. Wait… what?! I grabbed the package to inspect it, and sure enough. They were dog treats! I fed my kids DOG TREATS!! I FED MY NEIGHBOR’S KID DOG TREATS!!!!!

Though shocked and somewhat horrified, I literally fell on the floor dying of laughter, especially when my oldest said, “I thought they were good!”

After confessing to my neighbor that I’d fed her son a dog treat (she also thought it was hilarious, thankfully), I gave them to a much more suitable recipient: her German Shepherd.

However, I did make one of them into an ornament for our tree. Because that is a Christmas memory that deserves to be preserved.



This is such a beautiful story that makes you understand that things truly do happen for a reason. Don’t forget to grab the tissue box.

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc… and on December 18th they were ahead of schedule and just about finished.

On December 19th a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.

The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc… to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.

Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet.. ‘Pastor,’ she asked, ‘where did you get that tablecloth?’ The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and she never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth, but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a house cleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving.

The man asked him where he got the Tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike.

He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.

He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

This true Story was submitted by Pastor Rob Reid.


Or this story I found years ago over at Heather’s blog Family Forever, now a closed blog, but I kept it to remind me to remember this for the future.  I think next year that many of my gifts will be given in the same manner as my family really doesn’t ‘need’ anything, but so many others do. Don’t forget your tissue box as you read this story.


It’s just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas –oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it — the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma — the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth.. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended.

Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, ‘I wish just one of them could have won,’ he said. ‘They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.’ Mike loved kids — all kids — and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition –one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknown to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope. Mike’s giving spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always.


Be sure to join us for Happy Homemaker Monday and link up with our host, Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

This will be pretty quick this morning as we’re leaving this morning for our Christmas trip to the coast. There is a small craft advisory and wind predicted at the coast as well as a 10 degree temperature drop so I’ve packed accordingly. I even packed an umbrella in case it does rain. Weather around here can change at the drop of a hat 😀

We almost weren’t going to be able to go. The vacation rental we rented and prepaid for last month canceled on us. 🙁 Fortunately, the management company is really good though. 🙂 They found us another rental, still on the water, but actually bigger and better AND they covered the price difference! So, we’re really excited about these couple days away.

One of the reasons to go to the coast for a couple days and have reservations to see Shore Acres. It’s a wonderful light display that has been closed down since COVID. We went the Christmas before COVID and it was great, but POURING down rain. So, I’m REALLY looking forward to this year. It’s supposed to be REALLY cold, but at least the rain/snow is supposed to hold off until after we return home. I’ll post pictures later this week.

Doing Happy Homemaker Monday, EVERY MONDAY, loyally for all these years and so extensively helps keep me on track of my daily life as it summarizes the past week and lays out a fairly concise plan for the current week.

  • LAUNDRY & CLEANING After I get back on Thursday I’ll finish cleaning up from all the sorting I’ve been doing.
  • GROCERIES & ERRANDS Thursday I have a couple appointments in town and will get caught up then,
  • RECIPE RESEARCH & MENU PLANNING Thinking of making a HUGE return to the more basic recipes in the coming new year.

  • NETFLIX We finished the first season of Wednesday and found it really fun. We are going to finish NCIS next – we’re at season 16
  • CABLE With most shows in winter hiatus I’m catching up on Christmas movies and cooking shows.

A favorite fun author I read gave a us a fun little read for Christmas if we downloaded her new app which will make getting her books easier for all. I’m going to start it for our little trip.


One of favorite places is this 124 year old tavern.The exposed brick walls inside and out are part of the charm that makes this old building so unique.

We’ve been coming here for the past 10 years and through 4 owners. The BEST thing is that through all those owners, not one of them changed the menu! They have THE BEST sandwiches and all the recipes are still made the same way despite the change in ownership over the years.

And I took a Christmassy Highland Cow painting class yesterday. I’ll do the fine touches later this week as I ran out of time.