Tag Archives: Christmas memories

The Christmas Village

24 Dec

A Slice of Life

DiVoran Lites

 

 

 Every Christmas for years we set up a miniature village with lights shining from its windows. The buildings remind me of the seven years we lived in Westcliffe, Colorado a tiny town in the Wet Mountain Valley at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

The church in the set puts me in mind of the Lutheran Church established by German settlers in the 1800 hundreds.

 

 

The school was built in 1886. Now the historical society has turned it into a museum. Looking back I recall the pot-bellied stove that had to be fired up every school day from September to May when school let out. This was before consolidation so that only the children from town went there. We had first through sixth grade in the big room and seventh and eighth in an add-on at the back. Clinging to the bricks and shuffling to the end of the wall was a prime recess occupation along with swings and a merry-go-round. We also made up chase games we called cowboys and Indians. For a reward in school,we got to pull the bell rope so that the sound rang out over the whole valley.

I met my best friend Joan Piquette at school. She was a fine speller (it runs in her family), and the only child in the first grade. She sat in the first-grade row alone, but Mrs. Canda promoted her because Joanie already knew the first-grade work by osmosis. She seemed so small that in high winds my neighbor, Jeanine, and I held Joanie’s hands on the way home from school so she wouldn’t blow away.

 

 

From the box, I pull a ceramic train-station and small train and place it on the batting. We moved to Westcliffe to take over Min’s cafe, but after we lived there a while we also bought the old depot and turned it into a hotel/boarding house. We called it the White Cloud Motel. We moved into the upstairs but found the entire house yielded surprises: a large baggage room and a small cellar where you could breathe the scent of the earthen walls. In a first floor room, I found a hidden cash drawer. No cash. Off the kitchen, in the small bathroom ,my brother and I could climb out the window and slide down the metal roof. We’d climb back up and slide again to our heart’s content. Our parents were running the restaurant, so we had a great deal of freedom.

 

There was no crime in Westcliffe. This is my aunt and me in the remains of the old jail.

The mill in my lighted village puts me in mind of the Westcliffe Feed Store. What a looming mysterious place that was, a relic from days gone by. We weren’t allowed to go in it because of dangerous equipment, but we could peek through the dusty panes and wonder about the settlers who built it.

 

 

Our Christmas village contains two children riding a horse. My brother, David, is a natural-born horseman, but every time my bottom hit the saddle our oversized Shetland pony, Yankee, ran away to the corral. Dad advised me to hold the reins close to his neck with one hand. “That’s the way to show him who’s boss,” said Dad.

In the Christmas scene, children balance a snowman on a sled, reminding me of the one Dad bought and painted red. We sledded on every hill and ice-skated on a big pond outside of town. We built snowmen and on the way home from school some of us Westcliff kids soaked each other with snowballs.

One of the ceramic decorations is a small bridge which spans an imaginary stream. That becomes Grape Creek where Joanie and I stood and threw in the shells of the sunflower-seed we enjoyed, and watched them float on the current like tiny boats.

I never saw a real angel, but I placed one in the display because I like to think a guardian angel hovered over all of us. How else could I explain not falling off the roof when we slid down it, not falling off Yankee when he ran away, Dad and his friend Sweak Jeske walking down Pike’s Peak after Dad’s beloved Piper Cub crashed in a down-draft. And earlier Dad coming back from the Battle of the Bulge.

One day, when I was about eleven, I was reading Mother’s bible in my second story room, and looking up at the mountains through the window I came to this verse: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21. I made a decision then and there that I would seek treasures in heaven instead of earthly riches.

Bill and I pray that the child in you may find wonder and enjoyment in the coming year. We pray you will have peace from the Forgiver whose birthday we celebrate. We thank God for the angels that watch over us all. Merry Christmas and a joy-filled New Year.

 

 

Author, Poet and Artist

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

Christmas is Coming!!~Part 4

24 Dec

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

 

More Christmas memories.

 

I have so many fond memories of my time growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

 

 

Of course, it’s all I knew – we didn’t move around, once we landed in Albuquerque. But that’s why Albuquerque is so precious to me. It is home – even though I’ve not lived there since Fred and I married – 56½ years ago! Of course, home now is wherever Fred is. And that suits me just fine.

I had a memory “flash” through my brain recently, and thought I might share it with you who read my posts.

I had a great time with my maternal grandmother.

 

 

She was “Granny” to me, not Grandmother, or Grandma, or any other of those names for Grandmother that have come about. And because I loved her so much, when our grandchildren started coming up, I said I would like to be “Granny” to them as well. My Granny lived just 10 minutes away from our house. Unfortunately, all our grandchildren are least 12 HOURS away from us. It’s a little difficult being the favorite grandmother long distance!

In any case, I remember one Christmas in particular that the gift I received from Granny was so special to me, that I’ve never forgotten it. You see, Granny was a secret smoker. I guess, back in those days (1950’s), it really wasn’t a nice thing for women to do, so she would leave the house and go smoke in the back yard behind the garage – whether ours or hers. But when she came in, she was always chewing Doublemint gum.

 

Credit Google Search

 

I’m sure she thought it covered her smokers breath. She never said she was a smoker, and we never mentioned it to her.

All that to say that, on that particular Christmas morning, when I unwrapped my Christmas gift from Granny – it was a whole BOX of Doublemint gum….just for me!!

 

Credit Google Search

She knew I loved that gum, and that present, while not all that expensive, was one from her heart to mine. She knew I would enjoy that gum so much – and she was right! I thought of her every time I took a stick of that gum and chewed it. I was sorry to get to the end of that box of gum.

Such a small memory, but a delicious one for me. One I’ve forgotten occasionally, but sometimes it just pops back into my head.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day 2017. May God’s blessings be upon all of you. May you know the JOY of being God’s child, and having the comfort and direction of the Holy Spirit living within you each and every day. May He guide your footsteps, and direct your paths to His righteousness. May you spend eternity nestled in the bosom of the one and only, loving, forever…..God Almighty! Hallelujah and Amen!!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS

 

 

 

Candlelight Processional-Just Wow

18 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

We went to EPCOT at Walt Disney World Sunday night  for the Candlelight Processional.  Judy wrote about her visit there a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to share my thoughts while they were fresh in my mind.

The Disney Parks blog description of the Candlelight Processional:

The Candlelight Processional is one of the most anticipated holiday offerings that many Walt Disney World Resort guests look forward to – and return for again and again – each year. The show takes place at the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot and features a celebrity narrator retelling the traditional Christmas story, as well as live music from a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir. Each year the list of celebrity narrators varies and is usually announced during summer, with more narrators added as the season gets close. The live music in the show is delightful, with the show featuring both recognizable Christmas carols and a handful of international holiday songs. The show is included in Epcot admission and takes place three times nightly, usually running from late November to late December (this year’s dates are November 25 – December 30, 2016).

We have attended this many times over the past twenty years but for some reason, this year’s performance kept me on the verge of tears. Maybe it was because our seats were very close to the stage so that we could  see the performers so well. There are three groups that sing: A small group of professional singers, The Voices of Liberty, a cast choir and a large choir dressed in yellow robes who are high school students.

 

 

There is so much activity, with the live orchestra, the conductor and the narrator that I am usually trying to take it all in. Tonight was different.

Once the high school choirs found their places on the risers, two men in wheelchairs were wheeled onto the stage. There have been adults in wheelchairs each show I have attended but I haven’t been close enough to see them well. Tonight, I could see them, as well as their escorts and they were singing and enjoying being a part of the performance. As I looked at the faces of students singing words of joy for the birth of Jesus, I claimed the promise that God’s words would not return void (Isaiah 55:11). Wherever their lives will lead them, I prayed  the seeds planted would flourish in their lives someday.

The music that accompanies the Christmas story is filled with such joy and there is always someone on stage interpreting the story and songs with sign language. The woman signing tonight literally captured words, lyrics and sound in her hands and her whole being. I had to stop watching her as I feared I might begin sobbing  at the sheer beauty. I wanted to shoot video to share with you but decided to refrain out of respect for her and the people around me. Our daughter did take a still shot. It is blurred but I think it captures the moment.

 

 

I always look forward to the triumphant call of the herald trumpets. The orchestra has six of them and uses three on each side of the stage during the performance. A tweak to my enjoyment of tonight’s performance is that we sat directly underneath them. I wanted to give them a thumbs up, but decided I might embarrass my family.

 

These two herald the beginning of the processional.

 

The show always ends with the The Hallelujah chorus and the voices and instruments soared to almost heavenly heights. Although Disney overuses the word, tonight was magical.

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace and goodwill to all men.”

 

PS… I almost forgot to mention that the celebrity narrator was someone named Trace Adkins. People seemed excited about him. I guess he is some kind of singer.

 

Christmas is Coming~Part 3

17 Dec

SUNDAY MEMORIES
Judy Wills

 

 

 

More Christmas memories.

I have always enjoyed music. I’m not a terrific pianist, but I get by. Unfortunately, I usually have to have the music sheet in front of me in order to play anything. I don’t have the gift of “playing by ear.” I wish I did, but God didn’t give me that talent.

 

 

I have always loved to sing. As I mentioned in another post, my first memory of singing was my first grade class’s Christmas program. I think I did a solo to Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. I’ve been in choirs of some sort all my life, especially the church choirs. But I was also in school choirs, as well. (Please see my post of October 16, 2016, titled Music to my Ears)

I have one Christmas musical memory that is precious to me. We were stationed at Tyndall AFB, Florida (Panama City, Florida), and I had joined the Officer Wives Club singing group. We performed for quite a few venues throughout the Christmas season, doing our Christmas music.

 

Photo credit WJHG.com
 Credit Google search

 

This one particular time, we were performing our Christmas program for anyone on Tyndall who would like to come to a concert. We did the performance in the Chapel, since it held a large number of people.

 

 

I had told Fred to bring the girls, to enjoy the concert. As I recall, they sat near the front of the Chapel. We sang quite a few songs, then I was to do a solo…I Wonder as I Wander. Since I had always done a bit of public speaking, it was my habit to look at the “audience” as I was speaking – or in this case, singing. As I looked out at the audience, I happened to look at my family. While Fred and Karen were invested in my song, when I looked at Janet (she was about five years old at this time), I nearly stopped singing for joy! Her little mouth was open to an “O” and her eyes were saucers! She was completely swept up in Mommy singing!

Perhaps she had never heard me singing before. I’m not sure. I’m only sure that she was entranced with her mother singing. The look on her face was one I’ve never forgotten. It is so precious a memory for me.

That’s one sweet Christmas memory I won’t forget.

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued through Christmas~~~~~~~~~~

Christmas is Coming!

3 Dec

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

 

Now that December is upon us, it’s time for more of those Christmas memories.

In the 1970’s, when we lived in Panama City, Florida (Tyndall AFB).

Photo credit WJHG.com

 

We had a habit – for Christmas – of taking at least one week off (probably two weekends and the week in between) and driving down to Titusville, for several days with my brother, Bill (Lites – another blogger), and his family. We always had a great time with them, and the cousins were able to renew friendship with each other. Karen and Renie (Charlene), being the oldest in the families, seemed to latch onto each other, while

Janet and Billy did the same. After some days there, we would drive across the peninsula to Clearwater to spend a few Christmas days with Fred’s parents in their “retirement” condominium. They hadn’t actually retired yet, but kept the condo for vacation purposes.

Credit Google search

 

I remember one Christmas especially. It was in 1976. We were planning on our annual Christmas trip to Titusville and Clearwater – when Janet (five years old at the time) came down with a fairly light case of chickenpox! She and I must have been exposed at the same time, because I came down with a VERY light case of shingles on my back at the same time. When Fred was a child and had the chickenpox, he apparently scratched a couple of the blisters on his face, resulting in a couple of “holes” or scars – one on each cheek. When Janet’s blisters erupted on her face, I held her up to her daddy and said, “see those scars on daddy’s face? (She nodded her head yes) If you don’t want those scars on your face – DON’T SCRATCH THEM!” Fortunately, she followed instructions quite well, and never had any scars on her face. Other parts of her body? Not sure!

I called Bill and DiVoran, and asked if everyone in their family had already had the chickenpox. DiVoran’s question was: “why? Are you bringing it down to us?” When I explained about Janet and myself, they both assured us that they were immune to that particular disease. So we made our trip, and all was well.

 

 

As just a side note about chickenpox – Karen never came down with the chickenpox at that time. She seemed to be exposed and exposed through the years, but it wasn’t until she was 14 years old that she actually caught the disease – much to her distress!

I’ll post other Christmas memories in future musings.

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued through Christmas~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmases Past, Present and …Future?

25 Dec

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

Christmas, Christmas, Christ-mas….in the air… If you are ever at Walt Disney World, and EPCOT in particular in the Christmas season, stop by and hear the Voices of Liberty in the American Pavilion. The singers are dressed in Dickens-themed attire, and their songs are all Christmas, as well as a few Hanukkah songs. Totally delightful!

We have so many good memories of Christmases past. I’ve written about some in previous musings.

 

 

Christmas has always been a special time in our lives. Growing up, we usually had Christmas in our own home. Only once do I remember going to San Antonio, Texas to spend Christmas with my Grandmother and Aunt Jessie. And we were involved in a car crash approaching San Antonio! Not long after that, Granny and Aunt Jessie moved to Albuquerque.

I want share this one picture of my husband that I found.

 

2

 

Since he was born in February, this would probably have been his second Christmas, but he was approaching his second birthday. Did you notice the Mickey Mouse toy beside him? Wow! Do I wish we still had that toy! However, I’m sure that it went through his years, as well as his three siblings. So it might not be in very good shape by now!

After we married and began having our own Christmas celebration, we found ourselves at either one or the other in-laws’ house. That “tradition” continued even after we began our family. After our girls were a bit older, I told Fred that we needed to start staying at home and making our own family “traditions.” His initial response was that our family “tradition” was to go somewhere else! But that didn’t last long.

 

Since we’ve moved to Florida, our tradition has continued to be…let’s celebrate in our own home, and let the children and grands come to us. That has worked well. I believe all but about one or two of the 21 years we’ve lived here have been anywhere but here. And one of our daughters and her family will be with us again this year.

 

 

As for the future:   well, who can say? Both of our girls live in states that have tons of COLD weather, and avoiding cold weather and snow was one of the reasons we moved to Florida! It also gives our daughters and their families an opportunity to experience lovely Florida warmth at Christmas time. At least that’s our excuse!

As we all know, the future is in God’s hands…and His plan for our lives is so much better than anything we could devise for ourselves. So we will continue to share our Christmas with our girls and their families, as long as they are willing. We will continue to share the Good News of Christmas with them – that God sent His one and only Son to this earth as a baby, so that He would die on a cross for our sins, but, miraculously, by the Hand of God, be raised from the dead and grave, to give us eternal salvation.

GOD IS AMAZING!! And He is LOVE. And He is PEACE.   And He is JOY. And He is all of those things, and more, in this life, with the promise of eternal life with Him. How great is that??!!

 

 

 

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