There is something about the beauty of a decorated Christmas tree that dazzles and keeps me staring at the twinkling lights producing a quiet almost peaceful mood. I am thankful for peace and tranquility, but most of all for the reminder of why we celebrate with decorated trees, mantles and presents. It's the birthday celebration of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
I'm sure we are all thankful for those tastes of Christmases in years past. I guess I'm a little more nostalgic this year due to my mother's declining health. Mom, being the third of four girls, is the remaining survivor and this particular Christmas I am remembering her sisters and their particular Christmas specialties. For instance, each year Aunt Edna made a fresh coconut cake. Her husband, my Uncle Gordon, would split the fresh coconut and Aunt Edna would cover her homemade cake in those deliciously fresh coconut flakes! She always saved hubby and me a piece. Regardless if I didn't make it to Virginia until after the holiday, Aunt Edna saved those two pieces of cake for us.
Mom's baby sister, my Aunt Ruby, made homemade custard for us to drink. It was absolutely the best ever. Aunt Ruby explained she had to stand at the stove and stir the custard until it thickened which took a long time. She only made it at Christmas and I couldn't get that recipe out of her! Unfortunately, she has passed and the knowledge of that recipe with her. Hopefully, it will resurface in a box of keepsakes at some point.
But these two remembrances of delicious treats we enjoyed each Christmas will always be a part of my past with these dear Aunts.
Why is it that so many of us watch Hallmark Christmas movies? Especially since the majority of these movies share approximately three plots, have the guy kiss the girl the last five minutes of the movie and there is always a guaranteed happily ever after. If you ask me, I think the world loves a happy ending, love triumphs over separation whether its been a year or five, and we enjoy the feel of a small town where everyone knows one another. Of course it doesn't hurt to have a bit of ice skating, drinking hot chocolate and eating our weight in sugar cookies!
Yes, these movies are simple and often extremely predictable, but at least there is no nasty language, and even kids can watch without viewing gun battles, stabbings or develop a fear of what evil exists in the world. This is a couple of hours where goodwill prevails and people look out for one another and simply love each other. You've gotta love that theme, so get out the sweatshirts and socks that are labeled with "Hallmark", heat up the hot cocoa and grab a sugar cookie...it's Hallmark Christmas movie season!! Being a bit of a Cinderella girl, I'm thankful for happy endings!
As I was talking recently with a friend from "back home," I mentioned that it seemed all I was doing anymore was writing devotionals for the website, writing cards, building curriculum and basically "ministering from the desk!" My friend then pointed out, "That's a great title for your next book!"
The more I think about it, the more I like it; however, I must confess that I do perform a lot of ministry work from the desk in my office. It's a perfect space that allows peace and quiet so the Holy Spirit can intervene on a regular basis without interruptions!
Although it doesn't seem a grand item to utter thankfulness, I am truly grateful for this office, my desk and the opportunities each day I have to write, call and send positive thoughts via snail mail, texting or email to those whom God lays on my heart.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Time to get those lists out, my friends! Send out a blast to family and friends and find out which cookie they like the best and get going a little earlier this year to bake, bake, bake! I love receiving those requests and then filling them. One of these days, I'm going to send out a blast to the kids and grandkids that Gramma is opening her kitchen to all who would like to help with the baking!
So, let the baking begin and be thankful for those smells in the kitchen that remind you of days gone by and the memories being made today.
Today I finally reached a destination I have been meaning to travel for quite some time...the home of a friend who is basically a shut-in. This friend is about my age, has children around the ages of mine and has dealt with numerous health situations which have rendered her basically homebound. Although God has nudged me countless times to get going, my feet always found another path to travel that I believed was more urgent. This morning I realized this destination was equally important.
How many of us have the ability to walk, run (perhaps slower than we used to), drive, enjoy travel and have opportunities to fellowship with others? Do we realize there are individuals without access to those same pleasures? Would there be persons in your life that remembered you in a homebound situation and visit with regularity?
With Thanksgiving approaching and many Americans heading to soup kitchens to assist with meals for the homeless, isn't it time we gave back throughout the year by asking our church family for names of those not able to move about? If we work together we could cover a lot of visits and let people know they are not forgotten. Isn't that the arms, hands, and love of Jesus working in and through us as believers?
“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” - Philippians 2:4 (KJV)
This year I asked if my two adult children would like to respond for what they are thankful. The following paragraph was written by our son, Nicholas:
"I'm thankful for family. For having two matriarchs, my grandmothers, still alive and providing their love everyday. For my parents who continue to do more for me than I can possibly fathom or ever repay. For my sister, brother-in-law, and my two beautiful and hilarious nieces. My aunts, uncles, cousins and especially those who provide many memories on family vacations and get-togethers."
Well, here I am 39 years after leaving home (Virginia) and I'm still in the northeast...Pittsburgh, to be exact. Now most people who have known me the majority of those 39 years, my fellow inhabitants of Pittsburgh, are aware that my plan (years ago) was to head back to the south as soon as the path was clear. That simply means as soon as hubby could get transferred...didn't happen; or as soon as the kids went to college...didn't happen; or possibly when hubby retired...didn't happen. But you know what happened on the way to see the Wizard of Oz and find out how to get back home? I found I was home...yup, six hours away from my "roots" and in an area of little winter sunshine, cold and snow.
Last night we had our first flakes of snow (not quite what is shown on the picture, but it's gorgeous, isn't it?). After spending Veterans Day shopping in 50 degree weather and enjoying a day of briskness and sunshine, we awoke to chilly temperatures and snow on the grass. Of course, being in the sunshine with warmer temperatures is nice and I will need a break in about a month or so, but it is also really neat living through the seasons. With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the way, just seems necessary to have a little snow. As I write this blog post the snow flurries are flying and the sun is out...can't get any better than that when you have the heater running at your feet and the windows displaying what's happening outside.
So today I am thankful for the first snowfall of the season. God said in Genesis after the flood occurred in Chapter 8, "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." This I know from being on this earth six decades, winter will come and winter will pass. For now, I'm happy to watch it snow!
If there is one particular type of restaurant where hubby and I love to have breakfast, it has to be a diner!! Whenever we visit different cities we will ask local residents where their choice of hometown eating might be found and we have never been disappointed.
Just this morning we found another diner close to our home called "Alice's." Now, I haven't a clue why the name Alice, and I should have asked the friendly young people in charge, but I was too interested in my surroundings. It was simply a little space with several tables, a small counter with bar seats and the kitchen was fully exposed. The young man that waited our table was extremely courteous and polite and we were served our piping hot breakfast quickly. The coffee cups were filled several times and we were checked on frequently and asked if we were in need of anything. Service was delightful!
Gab & Eat is another of our local favorites , but and the seating fills quickly since they close at 2:00 p.m.. There isn't a lot of room to move around and memorabilia covers the walls from local sports teams and celebs. One pancake will fill you up, so be careful with your portions!
Then there is our Sunday after church favorite, Ma & Pops. We know the waitresses, the owners, the cooks and now a lot of the people who frequent the diner. It's a wonderful place to gather, eat and chat, but once again seating can be limited. However, those waiting to be seated are courteous to one another and take turns not jumping ahead which can be extremely refreshing!
So why might I be thankful for these small businesses? Because they are the heart and soul of our communities; blue collar people who work tirelessly to serve. It's purely a taste of home when you enter these establishments and smell bacon frying, coffee brewing and strike up a conversation with a stranger who happened to take a seat next to you at the counter.
If you ask me, we need a few more down home diners where we can gather and enjoy sharing in community spirit!