Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! Cherish your time spent with family and friends!

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The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things.  -Thomas S. Monson

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.  -Andy Rooney

Christmas Truths

Christmas Wisdom

I’ve found two short quotes that speak volumes about the Christmas season. Thought I would share.

How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!
― Benjamin Franklin

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Christmas

 

Holiday Parade

Every year our city has a Parade of Lights during the holiday season. It was 30 degrees here in Denver, but the turnout was incredible! Despite my hands shaking from the cold, here are some of the highlights:

The color guard starting off the parade.IMG_0541

North Elementary School, one of the category winners.IMG_0553

Of course, you have to have the police car complete with sirens for the kids. IMG_0542

Followed by the fire engine, again with sirens, much to the kids’ delight.IMG_0549

Dancers from the city’s dance studio.IMG_0556

The Brighton City Council float. My husband, one of the council members, was walking and handing out candy canes. IMG_0543

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Remax Realty, another category winner.IMG_0554

And, of course, every Coloradans favorite, the Denver Bronco bus. IMG_0558

The parade, with vendors selling all kinds of things that light up, as well as hot dogs, funnel cakes, hot chocolate, and music, is the perfect addition to the holidays!

 

Black Friday

Black Friday

For every person who loves Black Friday, there’s another that dislikes it equally as much. I’m of the latter camp. Shopping and everything that relates to “stuff” is my least favorite part of the Christmas season. I’ll take the lights, the music, the uncomplicated joy of the season well before Thanksgiving–much to my husband’s dismay–but shopping? If I could completely forego it, I would.

REI, one of my favorite stores to browse (it’s the halfway mark of a 30-mile bike ride my husband and I enjoy in permitting weather) closes all of its retail stores on Black Friday so their employees can have the day off to enjoy the outdoors, sharing experiences. Their initiative started the #OptOutside campaign and encouraged others to do the same.

I love this idea!

REI Chief Customer Officer Ben Steele said, “When we started this four years ago, it was that consumerism was spinning out of control, in a frenzy of consumption–I’ve got to have it, I need it, I’ll leave Thanksgiving dinner early to go get it.”

That’s a powerful statement. We spend Thanksgiving grateful for what we have and then get up early the following morning to go buy more.

“Black Friday: Because only in America people trample each other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.” Author Unknown

Many stores have even intruded into Thanksgiving evening to get the shopping started, using messages with a sense of urgency to get people in:

  • Limited Time!
  • Today Only!
  • Act Now!
  • Final Close-Out!
  • Deadline!
  • Offer Expires!

I’m not saying Black Friday is all bad. For some people, the sales are what allows them to purchase gifts for Christmas presents. And some people genuinely enjoy the shopping experience with family and friends. Though I have to admit I’m not one of those people. But what saddens me the most is when people go into debt buying “stuff” they don’t need or even want, simply because it’s on sale. When we buy what’s on sale because it’s “on sale,” we’re not saving money, we’re spending it. Too many times Black Friday leads to Red Saturday with people going into debt.

That being said, the Black Friday scrooge that I may be, sincerely wish everyone a Christmas season filled with family and friends, good health, peace, and experiences that bring you joy.

PeaceJoy

 

Holiday Spirit

Last weekend I participated in the Harvest Craft Fair in my hometown. I look forward to it months in advance and am usually a bit bummed when it’s over. Anticipation hangover. The craft fair signals the start of the holiday season with lights, music, and community. My favorite parts of the holidays.

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Each year I have one or two new books to add to my table. If I stay the course I’ll need to add another table. 🙂 The turnout, both vendors and shoppers/browsers, was the largest yet.

The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.
~ Terri Marshall

The rest of my week, and the weeks to come, are more centered around these books:

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For most people, it would be frightening to see these books on someone’s shelves. For mystery writers they couldn’t be more normal. And helpful!

And with that, short and sweet as it was, I’m headed back over to Birch Haven, Minnesota, the home of Melanie Hogan, to finish up NaNoWriMo strong.

Until next week…

Carpe Diem

Happy Thanksgiving

Holiday Fun

I participated in a craft and vendor show this past weekend at Harvest Fellowship Church, manning a table with my books. A writer friend of mine was there as well, her table next to mine. I’d been waiting a long time for this event, as it always promises to be a wonderful time and sets the mood for the beginning of the holiday season, including Christmas.

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Christmas? you say? But it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!

Yes, I know. I, too, am not a fan of stores displaying their Christmas merchandise before Thanksgiving. It seems to be getting earlier every year, to the point that one of these days it will probably be in the stores year-round.

However, that being said, Christmas means different things to different people. For the world of retail it means money. It means starting sales as early as possible, taking advantage of the marketing opportunity to make as much money as possible. Christmas music pipes through the speakers in department stores, subconsciously inspiring people to buy, buy, buy.

For others, me included, celebrating the Christmas season in combination with Thanksgiving means something entirely different. I don’t believe it can ever be too early to celebrate the birth of Christ. To begin preparing our hearts for the coming of the Savior. Thanksgiving isn’t only about remembering the Pilgrims, it’s about giving thanks to God for the thousands of blessings he gives me.

On October 3, 1863, in the third fall of the Civil War, President Lincoln issued a proclamation:
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, …, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him …

Giving thanks to the Father for the birth of His Son fits in nicely here. It’s never too early for that. So bring on the Thanksgiving holiday, complete with turkey, pumpkin pie, family, and football, while at the same time preparing my heart for the birth of Christ. And Christmas lights and music? When the heart is focused on Him, Christmas music isn’t about buying, it soothes and helps prepare. And lights? Who doesn’t love the beauty of lights.

Enjoy this holiday season, the entire season, for all it’s worth.

Wishing you a most blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. – E.P. Powell

Merry Christmas

Nativity

May be the peace of Christ be with you as you celebrate this day, the birth of our Savior, with family, encircle you in comfort if you’re spending a quiet day alone, and fill all of our hearts with gratitude for those in the military who cannot be with their loved ones, and to the loved ones left here with an empty place at their table as their brave soldier honorably serves our country.

Merry Christmas from our family to each and every one of yours.  May you each see the beauty and magic of this special day in your life every day all the year through.

All is Grace.

Two for the Price of One

Two quotes struck me as so profound today that I couldn’t choose between them…therefore, both follow:

Benjamin Franklin

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!”
― Benjamin Franklin

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (mu...

 

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

―     Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

 

 

 

 

All is Grace.

My Ten Favorite Memories

1.            Lying in the fishing boat we kept anchored to the old wooden dock on the lake at the house I grew up in.  I would lay there for hours, sometimes still in my pajamas, writing poetry, dreaming about becoming a journalist in New York City, or sometimes just laying doing nothing at all except listening to the waves lap against the shore and stare into the clouds.Sunset on a lake north of Brainerd, Minnesota.

2.            In the wintertime, on that very same lake, ice skating in circles and dips, my big green pom-poms bouncing on my ice skates, enjoying the stillness, the solitude, and quiet that comes with early morning.

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3.            Midnight sliding on New Year’s Eve with my boys, my sisters, my nieces and nephews.  My parent’s house was on a hill, and we had many sleds of all shapes and sizes–toboggans, round saucers, and wooden sleighs with runners.  After we all brought in the new year together we went outside and enjoyed the thrill of the hill.  Sliding with the kids, everyone bundled up so nothing was exposed except faces with bright eyes, rosy cheeks from the cold, and the widest smiles I have ever seen.

4.            Road trips with my boys from Colorado to Minnesota, the music we listened to–everything from Grover Levy and DC Talk to Colin Ray–the games we played–like trying to find license plates from all 50 states and “I Spy”–to the cherished conversations we had.  They would tell me about their deepest secrets in the confines of that little black Chevy Prizm.  Time I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

5.            Sitting around a bonfire by the lake, the fire glowing orange,  blue in the deepest, hottest areas at the center, the crackling of the flames and sparkling light of the fireflies down below the hill from where we sat roasting the perfect marshmallows for the s’mores we devoured.  Then we would catch some fireflies and keep them in a jar so we could watch them throughout the night as we were tucked safely in bed.

Roasted Marshmallow

6.            Christmas Eve as a child, my parents, my sisters and me sitting around the Christmas tree that was decorated every year with multi-colored lights and ornaments we made in school, reading the story of Jesus’s birth from the book of Luke in the Bible before we were allowed to open one carefully wrapped present.  From there we went to my grandparents house where we gathered with aunts, uncles and cousins, ate a festive Christmas meal, followed by presents and playing with our new toys before going to Midnight Mass.

7.            At fourteen years of age, cleaning cabins at a lakeside resort.  I would get up early Saturday morning, walk down the country road to Fishin’ Mission Resort and clean cabins, enjoying the time spent with one of my sister’s who also worked there, as well as a couple of our friends.  We met so many fun people at that resort and made so many memories.

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8.            After high school I lived with my grandparents for a few months while I went to college and worked at a local business, getting home between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.  My grandma would either be waiting up for me or would wake up and sit with me at the kitchen table and we would talk about so many things.  Sometimes just about the evening.  My grandma wanting to hear about my night at work.  Treasured moments indeed.

9.            We had a wood-burning barrel stove in the house I grew up in.  So many fun times revolved around that stove.  Like my whole family going deep into the woods to cut wood in the fall, the smell of the freshly cut pine or oak, the smell and sound of the chainsaw, working hard and taking breaks to walk and explore in the woods.  On winter evenings my sisters and I would carry wood from the woodpile outside, the pure whiteness of the snow making it look anything but nighttime, each carrying in our five armloads before we could stop.  And after sliding and ice skating, throwing the hard wet snow that collected on the bottom of my snow pants and my mittens onto the barrel stove, listening to it sizzle.

10.          And the best memory of all, the day each of my boys were born.  Little did I know at that time, that that day would change every day of the rest of my life.  The memories collected in my life’s journey from that day forward is indescribable and could fill a multi-volume set of books. And I do love to write.

Writing journal

  All is Grace.