Monday, December 29, 2008

Extented Christmas...

When you think things can't get any better, something like tonight happens...

I wish everyone could know what great joy a family can be to each other, and because of it, to all whom they touch. In addition to many wonderfully thoughtful Christmas gifts this year, Molly and Shannon's gift was to get the family to spend time together, enjoying things that they love. So, Shannon planned an outing for the boys, from William (age 4) to Grandad (he looks younger than he is :), to an Atlanta Hawks game on the Tuesday after Christmas. At the same time, Molly took the girls (including me) to dinner and on a rock-climbing outing with Morgan, Emily and Issy. It was just delightful to watch my granddaughters bravely climb to the top of the rock walls and to sit with my daughters chatting, laughing and sharing conversation with each other. The young ones had a private teacher and were just AWESOME, naturals on the climbing wall.

The girls had such a good time together that they couldn't stand to part, so off they went to Morgan's house for a spend-the-night party to finish off the evening.

Grandad came home shortly after I arrived. He said it was a great game and all the guys had a good time. He said he was proud of William sitting still and watching the game for so long. Of course, the guys didn't take many pictures (maybe a cell phone view) but nevertheless, the camaraderie was apparent. Christmas keeps on giving!

Note: Morgan is climbing competitively, and we will be watching her success with much interest! This picture of her was taken for the Urban Core Youth Climbing Program Brochure.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thank you for your prayers...

All is well tonight at 600. Mom is sleeping in her bed and seems to be feeling well enough to plan on having a gift exchange, here at the house, next Saturday. I am leaving for home in the morning so I can regroup and come back for a delayed Patton Christmas next week end.

Mom is a trouper and in her 81 year old way is living life to its fullest! My brother, his wife, my sister and her husband, are just awesome in the way that they take care of Mom. I sing their praises.

The beautifully wrapped packages are waiting to be opened. Greetings, hugs, stories and laughter are waiting to be shared.

Looks like I'll be home for Christmas after all. Please continue to keep Mother in your prayers.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


"The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes."

This blessed morning I a woke to the sense that something exciting was going to happen. You know, that Christmas anticipation...After Terr, Kate, Jeremy and I dressed and poured ourselves cups of coffee or wassail, we settled into the first gift of Christmas morning. I presented Kate with a CD I made of our beautiful Cashes Valley. We sat as if in a Silent Night and watched with nostalgic wonder at the familiar beauty. If you would like to see it, I will leave the unedited copy here for you to enjoy a peaceful moment with what Kate and I have in our hearts.

Afterwards we sat out the Christmas Morning casseroles, the traditional Sister Shubert's sweet rolls and pigs in a blanket, turned down the wassail and went into the candlelit Christmas room. Two gifts, three gifts, only a few gifts were exchanged between the four of us when we got the call that my mother was in the hospital. We decided sadly that Christmas in Murfreesboro was going to be postponed until we could get her back home to share it with us.

It wasn't long until I was surrounded by all six of my children, their spouses and significant others, all nine of my grandchildren, my daughter-in-law's mom (and my good friend), and along with them the love of family that multiplies joy and divides sorrow. They took the heaviness of my first Christmas away from my own mother in 61 years and blessed me with the hope of Christmas. No wonder the baby didn't cry in that manger - he was warmed from the cold of that night by great love.

* * *

This morning (the day after Christmas), Kate, Kristin and the boys are still sleeping, Jeremy is lovingly working on my computer, Terr is sitting across from me in our office on his computer, finding out the weather for me, as I am writing this before leaving for Murfreesboro to be with Mom...but first I will sneak a kiss from the sleepyheads, being so grateful for the time shared.

When my mother and father were apart from each other, he wrote her every day and always ended his letters with WAP (whisper a prayer). I am asking you too to WAP for Mom.

Hours 'til Christmas Day!

Tonight was wonderful! Christmas Eve services offered us hope in Jesus, amazing music, and the lighting of the candles, so that we may be reminded to spread the light. Kate graciously helped me prepare a wonderful pork dinner for the nine that were here. Then we sat around talking and enjoying the mood of excitement and anticipation. I had a lovely surprise when Mike came and joined us around the table for a while, after taking his mother-in-law home for the evening.

Tom told us the story of Elfie that I thought might interest you…

“As we reflect back on the season this Christmas Eve, we look back at Elfie. From the first night the tree went up, he became a part of the Sabonis-Chafee family, working his elfin magic every night that he was dusted and wished upon, sometimes funny, sometimes mischievous. As always, he took the wishes of the kids and put his own spin on his answers, sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate, sometimes random or irrelevant. He wrote his own version of the 12 Days of Christmas (The 78 Elves of Christmas!). He decorated the tree with socks, He created treasure hunts where he was the prize, and tonight he joined us for Christmas Eve services, before heading back to the Pole. And so, we send him off with a big, “Merry Christmas Elfie. See you next year!”

Strangest thing, before leaving to make way for Santa tonight, that little funny elf made one more appearance….at church, he somehow skidooed into my camera! (If you don’t watch “Blue’s Clues”, don’t even try to understand this.)

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night...(I’m really looking forward to seeing most of you tomorrow! )

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two days 'til Christmas

Morning started out in Terr's office, with me drinking coffee on one computer and Jeremy on the other, while everyone else slept in a bit. Soon the house was bustling with two grandsons, Kate, Kristin and Grandad all getting ready for the day.

After breakfast, Grandad took the boys to Northcroft! Cold as it was, they had a great day hiking, picking up limbs, building a campfire and shooting BB guns. Grandad took the special time to bond with the boys and tell them the story of Christmas. At the end of the day Aidan got a little sick to his stomach but is feeling much better tonight. We were saddened to hear that Morgan was sick today also. Hopefully tomorrow everyone will be feeling much better.

Kate's lifelong friend Lindsay, her husband, Joey and their new baby Mary Elle came to the house today for a visit and lunch. The old friends had a delightful time together and Mary Elle and I enjoyed a nap in the rocking chair.
Aidan seemed to be recovering when Kristin's significant other Alan came over to hang out with us for a while after dinner. He happily helped Keegan with a little invention he was working on.

Kate made more Christmas gifts in the kitchen while Jeremy did some work on the computer.

This should be a Christmas full of yummy surprises...

Tomorrow starts the countdown!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Three days 'til Christmas

I had some personal things to do today, so not a lot of time was spent on Christmas, except for this afternoon when Kate went with me to the nursing home to visit my great Aunt Lillie. I was delighted to have someone go along with me to bring in a little extra Christmas loveliness. We brought gifts for Aunt Lillie, and picked up a crate of Clementine oranges on the way, to pass out to the residents.

We found Aunt Lillie sleeping on the single bed in her small, crowded, shared room. She jumped up quickly when she heard our voices talking to Susan, her roommate (Susan is always delighted to see me coming too!). I introduced Aunt Lillie to Kate and after chatting for a few minutes we gave her a couple of my carefully wrapped gifts. She seemed delighted with the pretty, soft pink pajamas and black turtleneck sweater (I told her now we could look alike because I always wear black!), but mostly she liked the two flashing Christmas light necklaces that hung, flashing around my neck!

Soon an aide came in the room to tell Aunt Lillie that she was going to be taken on a bus trip to look at the lights and to bundle up because it was cold outside. Well, we dressed her in her new turtleneck and layered it with a vest and a jacket. Then I took off one of my necklaces and put it around her neck. She was thrilled and we started singing "This Little Light of Mine, I'm going to let it shine!" Together, with Kate, we sang it again to Susan and laughed at how festive we all felt.

On the way out, Lillie, Kate and I passed out the oranges to everyone we met. Some hurried to ask for one, some wouldn't let go of the box when it was put in front of them to select one of the fruits, some had a hard time picking one up and getting one out of the box at all, but we gave them until they were gone. Joyfully wishing everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS, with as much love and sincerity as we could muster. When we got to the front, we kissed Aunt Lillie and left through the alarm controlled glass doors.

We were quiet when we got in the car. A tear fell from my eye and, with understanding, Kate lovingly reached over and put her hand on top of mine.

I guess Christmas was in this day after all.

(I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of Aunt Lillie in her new black sweater and the blinking Christmas lights around her neck - I somehow left my camera at home, but it indeed made her face shine.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Four Days'til Christmas

This morning, the 4th day 'til Christmas, found me in church sitting next to grandchildren and Grandad. While scanning the bulletin I discovered my name on a special list of people honored with the gift of flowers. It said from TLC (my husband), given in honor of MPC (this is me!). What a sweet way to start the day. Thank you T!

The afternoon found us at the home of the mother of one of Kim's high school friends, where we enjoyed our 26th annual Christmas Tea with her high school girlfriends and their mothers.

We had just enough time to regroup, pack up our contribution of chili and cookies and head for Kim and Tom's house for our annual Christmas Caroling Party. We have been doing this party each Christmas for about the same number of years as the Christmas Tea, and Kim and Tom did a spectacular job with festive decorations and good eats! I think it was the biggest and best party ever...the reason? Well, a big crowd, for one, but it was also the best because... Santa Claus came!!!! Boy, did he have that house excited.

It was the perfect year for Santa to grace us with an appearance. We must have had 15 children attending, and they were all sitting on the edge of their seats. He talked to the children, did some magic and gave out goodies from his pack. What a kind and delightful man that gentleman is. No wonder everyone wants to see Santa. (Mrs. Claus was also in attendance, to help Santa keep moving so he could get to his next special stop. Santa has so much fun with the children that he has a hard time leaving!)

Now there is a late night card game going on downstairs in the den. I am headed for bed and leaving Kristin, Beth, Kate and Jeremy playing, very competitively I might add, a game called Squeak! (Don't ask, they are crazy into this game). I just hope they don't get into too much trouble for staying up too late and eating too many brownies!

Have you been good boys and girls? You never know when Santa is watching.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Five Days 'til Christmas

Another awesome day leading up to Christmas. Kate was off to do some last minute shopping in the early morning hours. I made chili for Sunday night's caroling party, did some laundry, general clean-up and wrapped a few more gifts while she was gone. Terr went out to gas up the cars, take a gift to a friend and pick up a few things we needed for baking.

When Kate returned, we spent the rest of the day working in the kitchen. She is a joy to work with and I loved being her chef (!A sous (=under in French) chef is the second in command -- he works directly under the executive chef and essentially runs the logistics of the kitchen.).
We made cut out cookies and iced them together and Kate worked on culinary Christmas surprises while I tried to keep things cleaned up. We were way-laid a couple of time when joined by gift bearing friends on a mission to bring Christmas cheer. What JOY!

We were getting a little weary around 10:00 p. m. when Kristin and the boys arrived for the holidays. Rejuvenated by their being here, we got a late dinner on the table and tried to hurry up and catch up with each other before being forced to bed so we can start all over in the morning.
Needless to say, the hour is very late (or should I say early). The house has gotten quiet (except for a rattle of a pan or two coming from the kitchen where Kate has returned to work on gift making, now that everyone has gone to bed...shhhh).
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....",
I think this is going to be "the most wonderful time of the year!".

Friday, December 19, 2008

Six Days 'til Christmas

Today was a wash. We took a vacation from the hustle and bustle and went to see AUSTRALIA.

Unfortunately, even Hugh Jackman's muscles couldn't save this movie...

...but it was fun!

(We weren't completely unproductive. We also planned menus, shopped for groceries and did a little more wrapping of gifts. We're almost ready!)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Seven Days 'til Christmas...

The Seventh Day before Christmas was filled with music. First, Emily sang a solo at her school's Christmas in Carols. Her parents, Kate and I, beamed with pride as she sung. Such a good job, Emily, such a good job!

(Forgive me Emily, I have tried for hours to turn this video right side up and I just can't seem to get it right, but I did so want every one to enjoy you beautiful voice.)

Second, Kate joined alumni, teachers, students and friends in the annual singing of the Messiah at her alma mater, The Westminster Schools.

(Kate is in the middle singing her heart out. She first learned to sing the Messiah at Westminster and continues to go back, when ever possible, to sing at this special event.)

I went, and watched, and marveled at the talent that runs in our family. I would like to think that the Christmas spirit made it even more glorious to perform and listen to.

Thank you girls for asking me to be a part of what you do so beautifully.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Eight Days 'til Christmas...

Memories from Kate on the 8th day before Christmas...

I'm the sort of person who never forgets where things come from. Like the Pledge of Allegiance, 1980s commercial jingles or the theme song to "Fraggle Rock," this extra bit of information takes up its indelible bit of space in my head - for instance: on my desk right now, I have three pens Jeremy brought me from work after I complimented them (very smooth ink dispensation, made of recycled plastic, handy hinged clip); a pair of nail clippers Lindsay decorated with beads and wire and gifted me when we were eight years old; a Mason jar full of pencils, but which used to be full of Mom's green beans; a charcoal drawing of ballerinas I fished out of my artist neighbor's trash. Two years ago.

I remember a lot of Christmas gifts: a very trendy outfit from Mike and Mary - plaid leggings and a matching sweatshirt - at a fourth-grade moment in which I was desperate for coolness. (I wore it twice a week until summer.) A coveted, gleaming frying pan from Mom and Dad - quite possibly the most-used (and most valuable) item in my house. A wooden otter that rolled on an axis through painted waves - a gift from Grandmother that I felt too young to understand, and treated with cautious reverence. A pearl bracelet from Bo that made me feel as beautiful as her when I wore it; a shiny jacket that made me feel as cool as Dad when I climbed on the back of his motorcycle with him. Marvelous stacks of books that seduced me as I hauled them around joyfully, from wrapping-paper-strewn living room in Atlanta to wrapping-paper-strewn living room in Tennessee to blissful literary quietude in the mountains. A vaguely garish holiday sweater whose velvet-soft insides warmed me when I learned that it had belonged to a deceased relative. A watercolor of the Fox theatre from Kim and Tom, honoring my passion for performance and the beginning of a great journey to New York. A first-generation ipod that's given me literally thousands of hours of pleasure; an old bicycle, perfectly sized and precisely when I needed one; a spectacular cookbook, whose giver I silently thank every time I open its sticky pages.

And Santa's gifts - coyly arranged, as only magic could do, in a splendidly intricate tableau: Samantha reading a tiny magazine in her new dress; books heaped romantically like an ancient library, gymnastics Barbie perched atop them, her legs rakishly crossed. (I remember wondering what other children's display of gifts must be like: were the G.I. Joes marching in attack formation on chemistry sets? Were stuffed bears fending them off with Super-Soakers?) Stockings bulging with treats and treasures. The enthusiastic whack of a chocolate orange on the tabletop, and the subsequent delight of pulling apart the molded segments, the perfect taste.

Mostly, though, what I remember has very little to do with this uncanny ability to recall where things came from. Mostly, I remember a deep sense of intention. It was never about the stuff - it's about the warm little center of community, heating up and burgeoning outward as we give and give, back and forth. The note inside the front cover. The outrageously ornate clusters of ribbons. The breakfast casseroles assembled in the wee hours of the morning. The deep, warming comfort of a perfect pot of chili. The hours it must have taken to arrange those magical tableaus. There needs to be a words for this, the opposite of jealousy, that goes beyond "a spirit of giving."

I suppose it's Love.

Merry Christmas, dear ones. I love you.


*By the time you read this, Kate will be coming home for Christmas. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nine Days 'til Christmas...

Part of an email from Kristin...

Aidan (my little extreme consumer/capitalist) said yesterday that Christmas to him is not so much about getting presents, but about getting to spend time with family. He said that although he didn't believe in Santa, there was still the Spirit of Christmas. Last weekend, Alan's uncle died. His mother, Sylvia, is sad, but is relieved that he is no longer suffering. Both boys dictated letters to her just before her brother died, when he was in hospice. Aidan wrote: "I wish you a great Christmas while we’re there. I’m looking forward to seeing you and your house with Alan’s nephews and nieces too with you. Our Christmas tree is set already. I hope yours is. It will bring a great Christmas Spirit, and maybe it will make you feel better about your brother."

Note to Aidan from Mimi...

What a beautiful letter you wrote to Alan's mother when her brother was so very sick. It showed kindness, concern and a desire to make her feel better. That, my dear Aidan, is what Christmas is all about. Because of your act of kindness, I think you have become one of Santa's helpers! Christmas is truly in your heart, Aidan, and that kind of love makes me believe.

The Christ Child lives within me; and because He does, I have received great love and have great love to give. That makes Christmas so very special. We will go to church Christmas Eve, light thousands of candles and sing, "Glory To God In The Highest!" Then, we will come home and have Christmas Eve dinner with whoever can be here. Afterward, all will wait for the magic of Christmas morning. It is true that more Christmas magic happens when children are around, but I still get excited and can't wait for morning to arrive! (Did you you ever watch Polar Express? Well, I guess you could say I still hear the bell.)

We wake up to warm coffee, soft Christmas music and joy. We talk awhile together, exchange a few gifts and wait for the rest of the family to arrive. Then the fun begins!

Bring a happy heart and join in the festivities with so many of your family who will be in Atlanta this holiday season. We are so looking forward to having you, Keegan and Mommy in our midst for a very...

Merry Christmas!

Ten Days 'til Christmas....

How are you giving your JOY TO THE WORLD? Many remember this summer when Andrew made and sold cakes to earn money so he could go to New York and visit Kate...Well, anxious to always have yummy goodies on the counter top to offer holiday visitors, Super Cake Man was again called to the rescue! He's back at it, delighting others with his culinary skills and throwing in a little festive decoration, an economical price and spreading the Good News with scripture, all at the same time.

(I think designer Mommy must have tied those bows.) Happy Cooking Andrew! YUM! I'll take one, too!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Eleven days 'til Christmas

Wish I could hear every detail of what each of you are doing to get ready for the big day! I'm sure you are not only preparing your list and checking it twice but also doing those things that make way for the Christ child.

(Did you see the December moon?)

Sunday, after church, the Sabonis-Chafees took us for lunch and to see Santa Claus on our third (or fourth?) annual Christmas outing at their club.

Brunch was delicious as we went through three buffet lines and filled our plates to our hearts' content, then made ice cream sundaes for dessert! Afterwards, we went to another large room downstairs and were greeted by Santa's helpers and the Big Guy himself!

I had a delightful encounter as I waved to Santa and yelled out to him that it was Little Merry, did he remember me? I also told him, I was still a good girl and I still had the doll he gave me over 50 years ago! Well, he said, of course he remembered me and was pleased that still I had "Betsy," but he had a couple of things he needed to talk to me about on the good girl issue. I blushed a bit and then remembered it was Andrew, Emily and William's turn to talk to Santa...although I can't imagine what Santa was talking about...maybe it was that plate of french fries I ate for dessert.

After happy conversations and the reading of the list from William, the children dug deep to find their favorite colored candy cane from Santa's basket. We soon hugged goodbye and departed for home to wrap more Christmas gifts, with a happy heart.

(Pardon the quality of the photo, every time I snapped a picture, the elf flash went off!)

Thanks for sharing the adventure, guys! We had a great time!! Can't wait for the caroling party where hopefully ALL my children and grandchildren will be singing. Talk about a photo op!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another thought from Kimberly....

How about moving from gifts to traditions in your blog? Today begins the 12 days of Christmas. You might consider doing something for each one of the 12 days of Christmas.

A silly family tradition that was started many years ago was getting a bag of spice drops and piling the kids in the back of the car and going to look at Christmas lights. The kids loved this every year and looked forward to the individual bags of candy and lights. Of course, we played Christmas music and sang.......

Another childhood memory was singing around the piano at Greatma's. Loved that....and her chocolate cake.

This is the piano of my youth where we all gathered each year to sing familiar Christmas Carols. Mother had an operatic soprano voice, Grandmother sang alto, along with several others. Aunts Dot and Paulette were accomplished pianists and each was very musical. Uncles Kenneth and Edsel were song leaders in the church, so they were always on key... Oh, it was a great joy of mine to hear their voices harmonize and to try to fill in wherever I could.

I wish I had a recording of Uncle Kenneth's little jingles that he use to sing to the children and of Grandmother Floyd playing "Little Brown Jug", on the harmonica. They made it such a happy occasion and I know the songs reached heaven, itself!

I must say, I love the traditions all of you are making, too; and I think maybe we might have some of that musical ability as well. With Kristin home for Christmas this year, I hope we'll have a chance to make a JOYFUL NOISE!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The best gift 3

Where is everybody with their favorite gift stories?

The above (snoring bear) was a gift to Terrence the year I got my mink coat! Boy did I feel bad, but I tell you, we all rolled on the floor in laughter when he opened the box and that bear started snoring with the rise and fall of its big belly. His belly doesn't move any more, but the bear still sits on the shelf in Terr's office. You're a good sport looks who's snoring.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The best gifts (2)...

Judy writes of sheep in a comment on the Christmas in a BIG way! post and I must say, it was one of the most heartfelt gifts that I ever gave...

Our sister, Betty, died in October of '02. We were stairsteps growing up: in January of any given year, Betty, Merry, Judy and Hugh were just a year apart in age. I always felt like I came in a package of four, even though we were individually wrapped.

Her untimely death did something to all of us and we were incomplete. I wanted to acknowledge it and ease the pain I knew Christmas would bring to us and to our parents.

While in England, Judy sent a photograph of sheep to me, and asked if I could paint them. I told her that I wasn't an artist, just a wannabe, and I couldn't do such a thing (even though I was secretly flattered that she thought so!). But she just knew I could! And, well, my desire was so strong to ease the pain, to give hope, that I tried to paint that photograph: three sheep huddled together and another, separated on the other side. I tried to make up for the lack of excellence of the painting by surrounding it with the best frame I could find. I was pleased with the results.

It was a large painting and I couldn't wait to bring it in and give it to her. Sisters have a special bond, and the day Betty died, my bond with Judy grew stronger and more protective - we would never take each other for granted again. She had to fill Betty's shoes for me, as Hugh filled Daddy's when he died in 2005.

Anyway, that painting became an important gift to this giver as well as to the receiver.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The best gifts...

This is hard to capture in a picture, but the memory was precious. Last year, I had a neighbor stop by. Rang my front door bell, and just asked for a hug. She saw our house lit up for Christmas and just wanted to give me a Christmas hug. As soon as she gave her hug, she was off. I thought that was a sweet act of love and made me smile.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas in a BIG way!

Boy, have I been busy trying to get ready for Christmas! I know you have been too, but I just have a hard time getting my head around my heart. It must have something to do with my childhood because my feelings run so deep. I want magic! I want perfection! I want to give big so everyone will love me, because I love them so…

Wow, I guess that’s what God wanted on that first Christmas. How can I use that first Christmas as my guideline and stop all this worry that I might fail? How can I give the perfect gift to my children, as God did for His? Aha - maybe the secret is giving everyone the same thing, you know, one size fits all. Then everybody’s idea of the perfect gift would have to be the same. That’s a problem. It doesn’t fit. What’s magical and perfect for me, might not be for everyone else. How did God get around that one?

...I think I’ve got it! He gave us what He treasured and wanted us to have, and it was so good that the night turned into glorious and great love happened.

That’s what I’ll do. I’ll just let my love pour out (again) and see what happens. Come to think of it, except the years I lost loved ones, I have always thought each Christmas the best ever and the gifts weren't the deciding factor!

Have you ever gotten (or given) a gift that was over the top in thoughtfulness, kindness or love? Something that you knew was a little more special than other years? A gift, whether it cost money or time, that you remember with a smile because of the gift behind the gift?

Will you join me in sharing those with each other? Email me (with a picture if possible) and tell me about a gift that stands out in your memory and I will post them from now until Christmas on Chatterbox…I’ll start!

I'm sure I will be thinking of many between now and Christmas. Now that my thoughts are headed in that direction, many gifts are coming to mind - everything from the shawl Natali knitted for me, to the key holder Andrew gave me so I could hook my keys on the side of my purse and be able to find them. I can remember mostly the sweet faces of joy when a child gave me something that they were proud to give. Oh, how touching that memory is, even if I don't recall, right off the bat, what the gift was. Let's see...there was the mink coat...but I won't go there...then there was...

Rabbie! Kate brought Rabbie home from school all wrapped up in hand made Christmas wrapping. She was in her beginning years of elementary school and I thought she was so brilliant for making such an intricate statue. Rabbie still holds a place of honor in the curio secretary in the living room, right next to the infamous "horse pot."

Kimberly reminded me the other day of the time and painstaking care taken by my nephew Chad when, for a few years in a row, he drew our names for Mother's family tree giving. He designed and carved us each a hand mirror, sanded it carefully, stained and varnished it, and burned our initials in the handle. What a special gift.

I thought I had opened the wrong package on Christmas morning a few years back. It was a gift from Shannon. Then I read the inscription:

"A dose of inspiration for the creative
person ready to tackle new adventures
from an Old Master.
Sometimes the teacher who appeared in
our youth still has a message for us."
It wasn't until I read the book that I cried. It was Shannon's way of encouraging me to explore my talent. He saw me. He saw what I didn't!

Oh, gosh, there are so many!!!
But I will leave it with your memories in hopes you will share them with us and bring the magic into the season. Even if you are too busy to write something down, that's okay, I know you are thinking about it! :)

<- Christmas drawing from Keegan that is right up there with Emily's frog painting she gave me last year, and Morgan's jeweled box. ->

Picture book, photos, charms that reminds me of many more!!! But the best gifts of all have been the present of your presence. You have honored me by returning my gift of love.
P.S. The gifts I have most enjoyed giving are my paintings, no matter how good or bad they were, they were a gift of the heart and thoughts of the receiver were in each stroke. My New Year's Resolution is to paint more!