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Christianity/Religion Christmas Family family celebrations Our home

Of Christmas Past

On my Facebook site a few days before Christmas, I posted the following:

Year by year it became increasingly obvious that it was easy for some of our family to gift each other lavishly. Year by year it became increasingly obvious that to exchange gifts with their siblings and ever-increasing number of nieces and nephews was financially straining for others. Year by year all of us concluded that Christmas had become too mercenary, and that despite our words to the contrary, the season had become centered more and more on gifts, rather than on the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Last year, to contribute to alleviating the situation, we began a tradition that I believe helps us to celebrate Christmas as it really should be done. We continue this year. We have agreed to limit gifts among Jerry and me and our children, the siblings, their spouses, and their children to: handmade items, something we already possess, a purchase from a thrift or a 99 cent type store. It’s a challenge, satisfying, and lots of fun.

Today I want to show you a present I received; absolutely wonderful, but well within the rules of the “game.”

20150116-untitled (4 of 10)This was from Andrew and Shawnna, an oil painting on canvass they had bought some time back at a thrift store. It is stunning, the streaming light from the buildings and the streets remarkable; truly made me catch my breath when I first saw it. The painting is large, and I had a difficult time deciding on a place to hang it, but finally chose this spot in our study that leads to the back deck.

20150116-untitled (5 of 10)20150116-untitled (7 of 10)Attached to the painting when they bought it for $10.00 or so, was this paper that indicates the previous owner had purchased the piece in 1972 and had paid $145.00 for it. The name Beltrane is noted–not sure if that is the artist’s name or the buyer–rather suspect it to be the name of the buyer.

20150117-untitled (9 of 10)We will continue with our gift exchanges in this way, for it has proved to be successful, and I believe helps us to focus on Christmas as should be done. The process calls for thoughtfulness and planning. To Andrew I gave a set of DVDs from Because of the Times 2011, which I had watched numerous times. That cost me nothing, and I believe will be a real blessing to Andrew.

Life consists of so much more than frantic shopping, long check-off lists, cards sent because “they sent us one,” maxed-out credit cards that take ’til July to pay off . . .all that kind of thing. Rather, throughout the year we should insist on time to really live, to think on Jesus, on our loved ones, to truly remember the “reason for the season.” What say you?

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Christmas Crestline Culture Family Food Friends Holidays

Of Home, Family, Friendship, and Food

Our house is on the large size, rather more than Jerry or I need in our later years, but for the most part we enjoy having it, for often we have others here with us in Crestline, including our family of four children and all those who now trail along with them, including grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Friends. Neighbors.

20141225-untitled (79 of 114)We’re into our fifteenth year of living in these beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, and I’m not exactly sure in which one of those years we met Robert who lives down on the part of Wabern that merges into the woods. We were walking when we met him–sure of that–for it was years before we coaxed him into our home, so our relationship was cultivated as we walked past his house, and as we lingered to talk if he happened to be outside. I estimate his age as being in the late 40s, he’s of a reserved nature, of few words, and he shows a kind spirit. During these years Jerry had a serious heart attack even to the extent of a cardiac arrest in the ambulance as it headed to the hospital, and of course over the years, we told Robert of Jerry’s severe accident in 1994, and sometimes we discussed his residual problems, so maybe because of those things Robert assumed a posture of gentle concern for Jerry. Robert’s dark hair is styled into a ponytail that flows down his broad back. He is a recently retired operating room nurse. Sometime throughout these years, he married Jennifer, a charming, friendly young woman.

Much goes on at our place; a fair amount includes Winston, our grandchildren, and food.

20140805-untitled (62 of 187) 20140821-untitled (165 of 187) 20140824-untitled (171 of 187)Some of our oldest friends, both in age, and in the length of friendship, are Sam and Lil White. They live in Arizona now, and because he understood they would be by themselves for Thanksgiving, Jerry drove to Arizona and brought them to our home. They are each 92, vigorous in mind, but failing in their bodies. When Jerry had helped Lil into the house, she immediately sat down in a chair near the door and began crying. “What’s wrong, Lil? Why are you crying?” I asked.

“Happy, Shirley. These are tears of joy. I’m so glad to be here.”

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During the Christmas season nearly every year, Jerry and I host an open house for our friends and neighbors. 20141213-untitled (97 of 119)Usually we have around thirty people or so attend. I cook lots of food.

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This year Robert and Jennifer came. (Not pictured.) As they prepared to leave and as I gave them a small gift, wrapped up in a tiny beautiful Christmas bag, I sensed they were very touched. Something about people loving their neighbors enough and loving Jesus enough to spend a bit of time and money and arrange for a winter’s evening of joy for a couple dozen people touched them deeply. I could tell. I don’t understand it, for lots of people go to lots of parties, and Robert and Jennifer are certainly not backward people. Perhaps I had just forgotten, though, maybe I had not fully understood, how sometimes an open door, a hand on the shoulder, a slice of cake on a fine plate, a direct look in the eye can move another human.

A couple of days later, Robert and Jennifer knocked on our door. They brought a gift, a tiny holly plant wrapped in festive paper, and as we sat together on the couch, Robert said, “Thank you for inviting us. Thank you. We had a wonderful time.” I believe both their eyes glistened.

20150112-untitled (25 of 25)This has been a difficult post to write, and I’m not sure even now, I have expressed what I am feeling. Hope you “get” it. 🙂 Did you? Please tell me.

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Crestline Family Friends Life love My Family My Home Photography Uncategorized Weather/Nature

Christmas Afterglow

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Perhaps Chloe said it best last evening; “Granny, it’s kind of sad when Christmas is over, huh?” She paused, thinking I’m sure, that Nathaniel, Rebecca, Mike and Mel weren’t here anymore, and continued, “Especially when some of the people have gone.”

“It is, Chloe. Can be depressing.”

But holiday life cannot last forever, and so before this day is over, our Crestline home will be cleared of people: we’ll creep down the yet frozen driveway–Andrew and his gang will head south to San Diego, and Jerry and I will drive eastward to Lake Havasu.

It has been a white and wonderful Christmas–all my children have been here except for my oldest, Steve. He had planned to come Monday, but a business deal arose which he had to handle, then the weather worsened, requiring chains or four-wheel drive vehicles on the mountain roads, and he was not sure he could make it. Mike and Mel spent most of the day here Friday, Rebecca has been here since Tuesday, and Andrew came in on Sunday, as did we.

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A group of us were out on this day trying to deliver little gifts to the neighbors but the wind was blowing so hard, the ribbons were flying off the packages, and it was so bitter cold, that we failed to get our job completely done.

dsc_0009Some of the neighbors weren’t home, so the youngsters left the presents at their doors.

Then to add to our joy, late yesterday, our dear friends, Adam and Sharon Pierce drove up the icy roads to spend a few hours with us.

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So ends Christmas 2008. Our exchanged gifts were not lavish; our joy in being together was boundless. I trust your Christmas was as blessed as has been Jerry’s and mine.

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America Arizona California Children Christmas Culture Food Friends Holidays Lake Havasu Life love My Family My Home Photography Social Travel

Christmas 2007 in Review Part 3

Seth and Aunt Becky, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.
Some of Steve’s out-of-town friends were in on the secret and had arranged a motorcycle ride that would end at the Harley-Davidson store in National City–a San Diego suburb. As I understand it, the store routinely serves hamburgers to its clients on the open air roof-top veranda. Dearrah had the brilliant idea of utilizing this area, and arranged Steve’s 50th birthday party there. Caterers cooked hambugers, prepared other food and drinks, and decorated the tables. Not sure who supplied the cute birthday cake.
The tall heaters helped knock off the chill as we stood about visiting with friends and relatives and awaiting the arrival of the birthday boy. After a bit we heard loud motors and the riders roared onto the parking lot. Cameras in hand we gathered about the elevator, but in a minute someone screeched, “There he is,” and sure enough he had arrived on the opposite side from where we were.
It was great fun, the hamburgers were delicious, the coffee was smooth and robust, but we weren’t able to taste the cake. We had a drive back to Lake Havasu of more than five hours, so after saying many good-byes, we went to our car, took Andrew home, said good-bye to our little people there, and headed for Arizona. (We had given Steve his birthday gift while he was at our home for Christmas, but Jerry had a special gift he gave Steve privately at the party. I’ll write about that later.)
At 10:30 on Saturday night, we pulled into our parking space at DJs RV in Lake Havasu.  Tired, we fell into bed. Church would start at 9:00 on Sunday morning. Christmas was finished. (But then again, Christmas is never finished…it lives and breathes…because He does!)
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My devotional blog is here.

 

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America Christianity/Religion Christmas Culture Family Goodness of man Holidays Honor Life love Money Social

The Secret of Santa

KANSAS CITY, Mo — Susan Dahl had spent four months homeless in Colorado and just been on a harrowing 10-hour bus trip through sleet and snow. Hungry and broke, all she wanted to do was get back to family in Minnesota.

That’s when a tall man in a red coat and red hat sat next to her at the downtown bus station, talked to her quietly and then slipped her $100 on that recent December afternoon.

For years, Larry Stewart had been a secret Santa, for it was only last year that he revealed his identity.  His appearance has always been quite different from that of an ordinary Santa. This is his picture…but earlier this year at the age of 58, he died from cancer. Through the years in his secret way, he had given away over one million dollars. Anonymously he walked the streets, rode buses, saw people in need and handed out $100.00 dollar bills.

more hereand here.

Now other people have taken up the joyful task, and are walking our world handing out joy.

“There was this fella named Larry Stewart,” one of the new Santa’s tells a man in the bus station. “He was an old friend of mine. He was called Secret Santa, and every year he would find a few people who might need a little money and he would ask that you pass on the kindness.”

People respond differently to the gesture. Some cry. Some scream. A rare few even say “No thanks.”

Others take the money and offer their own gifts, like Robert Young, who was homeless and had only 20 cents in his pocket. When Secret Santa gave him $200, Young, 50, took out an old notebook and ripped out a song he had written.

“It’s yours now,” he told Secret Santa, who thanked Young, and carefully tucked the pages into his pocket.

The new Secret Santa has also started a Web site, and is trying to recruit other Secret Santas across the country. “Larry’s dream was for a Secret Santa in every city,” Kansas City’s Santa said.

There are now a couple apprentices, with more candidates turning up all the time. But, he says, you don’t have to be willing to hand out money to be a Secret Santa.

“Anyone can be a Secret Santa,” he says. “You don’t have to give away $100. You can give away kindness. Help someone.”

What say we join this club? Maybe it will be money you hand around, maybe it will be a plate of cookies, or a simple gift, or a chunk of time to sit beside a hospital bed. Secret Santas…the spirit of Christmas.

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My devotional blog is here.

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America Animals Children Christmas Culture England Holidays Humor Life Photography Recreation Social Sports The World Travel

He’s Gone Green, He Has, Poor Santa!

Santa Claus cyclists dressed in green

Five men dressed in green Santa Claus costumes, on behalf of The Climate Group, promote energy-saving appliances to help combat climate change.

From BBC News

Bring him back! I demand a chuckling, roly-poly red-suited Santa with his magic sleigh and all the fat reindeer and Rudolph with his energy-squandering flashing red nose.

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My devotional blog is here. 

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America Arizona California Culture Food Holidays Humor Life Social The World

Not Quite Perfect Shopping

 

 

McDonaldHave I told you the shopping here in Lake Havasu is abysmal? I mean it is awful. I want duly noted the tremendous, unselfish and long-enduring sacrifice I am making for the Kingdom of God by living here in shopping dearth-land, and by the corollary suffering brought on by this extreme repression of my God-given female shopping gene. Three major “department” stores grace our fair streets: WalMart, KMart, and Penny’s. There was one more place when we first came here–one called Dunlaps. Had its going out of business sale a couple of months ago. Very sad.

Holiday shopping days are upon us, and as I was puzzling about my dilemma today, I recalled that this time last year I had all my shopping done, my cards arranged, and the postage bought. Sickening thought, for this year–the year of our Lord 2007–I have no shopping done, don’t have one Christmas card in our motorhome, and haven’t even glimpsed a Christmas stamp.I believe God is humbling me and asking that I sacrifice the joyous exhilaration I experience when I stroll through crowded malls, as splendid notes of carols vibrate the fragrant air, angels fly, Rudolph blinks, Santas ho ho their way to golden thrones, and the cash registers merrily cha ching their way through each day.

It’s probably good for me to be so deprived. I was seriously considering that God is trying to teach me a lesson, bring me down a notch or two, when through my prowling around the internet, such a thought was solidified in my mind and I knew it for a surety. For of all things I learned of an outlet mall McDonald’s, where the food served is imperfect.

GURNEE, IL—Hungry shoppers at the Gurnee Mills outlet mall can now get a name-brand lunch at a bargain-basement price, thanks to the Monday opening of McDonald’s first “Not Quite Perfect” outlet store, offering imperfect and irregular items from the fast-food giant’s menu. More here.

So, I am resigned…(maybe)…to not quite perfect shopping. Don’t look for me at the splendid malls of Phoenix, or striding around those in Las Vegas, or at South Coast Plaza or strolling down Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles or prancing around Hollywood and Vine in smart Christmas shopping attire. No, you’ll probably fail to find me there. More apt to spot me in the aisles of WalMart or KMart or sitting in a plastic booth at one of McDonald’s fine discount shops. 😦

I clicked over to peek at Rodeo Drive and found this paragraph you must read:

In fact, Rodeo Drive is home to the single most expensive store in the world: Bijan (at 420 Rodeo Drive). You must make an appointment in advance just to shop at Bijan (which was named after its Iranian owner). On a typical visit, Bijan‘s average customer spends in the neighborhood of $100,000 on men’s fashions, which range from a $50 pair of socks to $15,000 suits.

Believe I’ve veered from my designated place. I’ll just wander back now to McDonald’s Discount and wonderful “Wally World!”

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My devotional blog is here.