Tag Archives: Christmas

The Value Of A Christmas Gift

The day has arrived.  The gifts are strategically placed under the tree.  The children arise with excitement while breakfast warms in the oven.

Quickly, the morning passes by.  The mimosa’s were sipped and the table was cleared while all who enjoyed sat with full stomachs relaxing to sounds of Christmas music and small talk.  It seems as though the day has brought joy and cheer.   Yet, there is a longing in the heart for more.  Something that cannot be purchased in a store.  Something that cannot be planned.  Something greater than anyone can explain or put a monetary amount to.  The salvation of a lost soul.

Given this day, the awaited Messiah was presented to  a fallen  humanity.  The birth of a child that will save sinners from death.  The knowledge of Him and His saving grace is by itself is the greatest gift given on this Christmas day.  That we recognize the importance of God’s gracious gift and His unconditional love makes all the fuss of the celebration seem insignificant.  The true blessing and true gift of immeasurable splendor…Our Lord Jesus Christ!

From our family to yours, we wish all a Merry Christmas.

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Hoping that everyone will take a moment to read this blog post.  It’s a wonderful thought provoking post.

https://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/what-if-jesus-never-came/

Making Memories To Share

Making memories:

One cat slept this way.  Not sure why he likes the blood to pool into his brain.  Perhaps it’s his “high”.   He does this quite often.  Although, this time was a marathon.

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The fascination this cat has with the fireplace is crazy.  No one can sit in front of it for too long as it’s just too stinkin hot.  Well, the cat sits in front of it, much longer than any of us can stand it, and then he jumps down onto the floor sprawling out until he cools down and then does it again.

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Our son eating the mussels he so longed to try.  He enjoyed them enough that the waitress gave him the recipe.  Although, we laughed when she said the chef wasn’t there and that she knew where to find it and that she would make a copy of it for us… ooops!  Thank You!

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A few of the 15 deer that we woke up to on Christmas morning out our bedroom window. I could only capture a few of them.  They were in the yard and in the woods.  We counted 15 that morning, and the next day there were 21.  Yes, that is all together at once, not spread out throughout the day.

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Our Christmas tree with Olaf enjoying warming himself by the fire.   ha ha

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Merry Christmas

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This year the family has, for the first time in years, felt like the season has come so quickly we just don’t feel as “merry” as we usually do.  We have stumbled through the last few months considering the changes that once again are at foot in our lives.  With the restructuring of my husbands job and the opportunities for change, we’ve just been too busy.

Well, last week I finally bought a new tree and put it up.  We all laughed as it’s a skinny tree that snugs up nicely next to the fireplace.  It currently has one ornament on it, and that is all this skinny tree will see other than lights this year.  I also put some lighted garland up the banister and a nice scene of snowmen in the front hall.  And lastly, there is one large standing ornamental pot with sticks and lights on the counter.  We all agree that we need to spend more time in the front hall as it’s the only room in the house (if I can call it a room) that has the feel of merriment.

All that being said, last night we decided we needed to spend family time together and get with the program and enjoy the lights and lawn decor that so many take so much time to put up.  We’ve lived in our current home nearly 8 years and we have heard about a neighborhood about 5 miles away that calls itself Candy Cane Lane.  People drive from all over to go through it and see all of the houses and their charming Christmas decorations.  We had not yet driven through Candy Cane Lane and decided last night we needed to.  So, I made some air popped (organic) popcorn  (I had to dig out the air popper out of the basement because we no longer eat popcorn) and filled two bags, one for the kids, one for my husband and myself and we drove over to this neighborhood.  We were amazed to see the line of cars sitting on the main road waiting to turn onto Candy Cane Lane, which wound around about 8 long streets.  It was a beautiful sight and quite entertaining as we saw everything from blow up dinosaurs to flying pigs to the reminders of the birth of Christ.  Some of our favorites were the snoopy and Disney themed lawns as well as the simply elegant lighted displays that didn’t offer anything other than white lights lining driveways, bushes, trees and the houses.

The best display of all was one that should be a reminder to all of the true meaning of Christmas.  It had spot lights on a simple sign that showed a tree, and a  hand holding a stake with a written reminder of the grace of the Lord who sent His son to die for the sins of sinners.  I wish I had taken a picture of it as it was quite nicely done.  We laughed out loud and thought the funniest display was the house next door to this one that had one sign made out of plywood with lights that spelled out “ditto” and an arrow pointing at the sign next door.

We came home and drove around our own neighborhood enjoying the lights, until we pulled up into our own driveway… We all at the same time said, “Oh look at this house, they must be Jewish.”  (you guessed it… for the first time in 8 years… no outside decor dresses this house.  Actually… I think it’s the first time in 21 years our home hasn’t seen christmas decor outside.  Not even a wreath!  Quite different than the days when my husband was just like Clark Griswold and placed lights on the roof.  From 1/2 mile away at the top of the street you could see a halo of lights it was so bright.)

We enjoyed our family evening driving around, eating popcorn and looking at the lights. Are we in the Christmas merriment spirit?  That’s yet to be seen…

Either way, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope that you will be reminded that this season isn’t about us, lights, gifts or food.  It’s about the birth of the Messiah who came in the flesh for the sole purpose of teaching and bleeding for His sheep that are called to follow Him.  A sacrifice, for the sins of those who will one day be with Him in an eternal Kingdom.

Gluten Free Fruitcake Frenzy

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Christmas and New Years always bring out the most wonderful memories of years gone by.  Some of those memories linger in our minds and in our senses.  This Christmas, maybe because I am in “lounge” mode allowing my body to heal, it seems my senses are even more in tune to what’s around me.  Sounds and smells can either irritate me or bring great joy.

I’m not sure exactly why it happens, however, I’ve noticed that the things I didn’t find enjoyable in my younger years, certainly are so the older I get.  For years my grandmother used to make  a traditional holiday fruitcake.  I never liked it very much and honestly thought it was just horrible.  As I have grown older and matured (wink), I found that I actually do enjoy it and I begin to crave it as the holidays arrive.  My grandmother being 88 years of age, does not make too many loaves any longer and in the last few years I have had the pleasure of receiving one when she may have only made two.  I am grateful that she shared it with her granddaughter and am even more grateful for the recipe.  After all, since finding out I have celiac, it’s been one aroma I miss at Christmas and New Years.

With her family recipe, I was able to come up with a gluten free alternative that satisfies my craving and it is quickly becoming a favorite in our home.

As the Christmas morning snow fell from the sky, we took pleasure in warming ourselves by the fire and began our morning with preparing the batter and placing the fruitcake in the oven so that it would be cooked before we started preparing and cooking the Christmas dinner.  From our home to yours, I hope that you will enjoy this gluten free twist to fruit cake.

(Note:  There are alternative options for soaking the fruit in rum as rum is not gluten free.)

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Gluten Free “Family Recipe” Fruitcake

24 hours prior to making, soak:

6-8 Cups organic no sugar added dried fruits in rum (pineapple, cherries, raisins, plums, dates)

Mix in a small bowl mix and set aside:

2 Cups Gluten Free Almond Flour (or Sweet Sorghum Flour)

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/4 tsp. Salt

1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp. Nutmeg

1 tsp. Allspice

1/2 pound chopped soaked & dried almonds

1/2 pound chopped soaked & dried pecans

In a mixing bowl, blend together:

1 Cup melted butter

1/2 Cup Organic Cane Sugar

6 Eggs

2 Squares bittersweet baking chocolate, melted

1/2 Cup Honey

1/2 Cup Sweet Red Wine

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Mix together the dried and liquid ingredients together until well blended.  Fold in fruit, reserving the liquid.  Pour into greased and floured loaf pans and bake for approximately 2 3/4 -3 hours or until done. Remove from pans and let cool completely.

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Serve and enjoy!  

 

Christmas Memories

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As the years slip by and the children grow older, Gary and I laugh at how we have changed our views of the holidays.  We’ve stumbled from our first Griswold Christmas,  of family, obscene decorating and parties, to where we are today.  Quiet Christmases spent with just the four of us.  Every other year we have the pleasure of celebrating with an additional one or two family members, with a tree that has minimal decoration’s and dinners that amount to appetizers.  Though we enjoy the celebration of family and friends, it has become apparent that change is in the air.

Last night we turned on the Christmas Vacation  movie with Chevy Chase and laughed over Clarks decorating of the house.  When Gary and I were first married Gary took it upon himself to see if he could top Clarks display by putting enough lights on the house we could see it lit up from the top of the street.  At our second house, we witnessed him dangling from the ladder over the front door as he tried to hang a huge wreath over the window.  Our third house had the welcome addition of lighted reindeer in the yard and blow up snow globes with the inside of the house looking like a Christmas Museum.  Our current home struggles to keep up with the Christmas fanfare.  Simple professional lights lining the house and one tree outside, and inside has been degraded to just a simple tree with enough decorations to hide the areas where the lights are out.  The snowmen that once adorned the window boxes are still stashed in the basement, the decorative green corner swags sit in their storage bins and the stockings…. we aren’t quite sure where those have ended up.  The soldiers lie still,  sleeping away another year of not being placed on the banister steps and only one Madame Alexander doll makes it on the tree.   As for the parties, those have long since become a thing of the past and our extended family celebrating Christmas together has ended due to distance, death and divorce.   In fact, the last time our entire extended family celebrated Christmas was in 2004 and the last time we celebrated with our parents all together was in 2007.

As we opened up the branches of the artificial tree on Saturday, we shared fun memories of Christmases past and real trees that were freshly cut hanging over cars,  those too big to stand alone and tied to walls, and those that fell during parties.   We talked about movies that make you laugh and cry and got excited looking for them so that we could enjoy watching them in the next few weeks.   After hanging half of the decorations, we started watching the movie Elf.  Laughing at the memory of our son dressing up as Elf and surprising his dad at his office.  Yes, he even had people on the streets laughing as he pretended to pull gum off of the railing of the bridge and considered jumping into the large tree in the lobby.   The memories and laughter had me thinking of A Christmas Carol, considering the past, present and wonderment of the future.

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It may sound sad to others, yet to us it has brought new opportunity for the four of us.  We have started out our holiday season the last two years enjoying Disney and the beautiful displays that go up the day after Thanksgiving.  Spending that first week of December driving around the campsites to see all the work put into decorations really is something all four of us enjoy, and hopefully something we can continue.

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It makes me wonder how many more Christmases will we have with our children before they move out and marry, having children of their own?  How much longer will we be able to celebrate in our own home before we have to start traveling to theirs? (After all, 17 years ago we started the tradition of not leaving our home on Christmas day, so I hope our children will continue that when they start their families.)   Our senior is taking college classes and is confident he will be leaving as soon as he finishes his degree.  Moving to Scotland is in both kids future plans.  The question of the future remains, will they stay there or will they return to raise their families here?  Will they end up somewhere else?

Do I long for Christmases of the past, with family, parties, decorations and fanfare?  Of course!  However, I embrace what God has done with our family unit and the memories that we are making.  It is with great Joy that He has shown us what is truly important at this time of year.  It’s the reminder that Christmas is not about us at all, it’s about celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior.  It’s not about shopping, stress, speeding tickets, selfish desires and parties.  Nor is it about the mythical figure of Santa.   It’s about worshipping  the creator of all things and enjoying the simple pleasures of just being together, with smiles and laughter that will be heard in stories for future generations.