Vintage Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner. Some areas of the United States are even covered in white as I write this. For many of us it’s a harried time of trying to work a full-time job, Christmas shopping, Christmas decorating, baking, and what seems like an endless round of parties, functions, and to-do lists.

And that’s not how I want to remember Christmas.

I stumbled upon this on Facebook today. It’s a long read, but a very well-written story, and one that will soothe your soul. Even though it was an account of years ago, I believe there is still this kind of love and humanity in the world today. It just may be a bit harder to find.

It was Christmas Eve 1942. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas.

We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Daddy wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Daddy to get down the old Bible.

I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Daddy didn’t get the Bible instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

Soon he came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now he was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew he was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my coat. Mommy gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn’t know what..

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Daddy was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy. When I was on, Daddy pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed.

“I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.” The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.

Then Daddy went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood – the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. I asked, “what are you doing?” You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked. Mrs.Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I’d been by, but so what?

Yeah,” I said, “Why?”

“I rode by just today,” he said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.” That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, he called a halt to our loading then we went to the smoke house and he took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.

“What’s in the little sack?” I asked. Shoes, they’re out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy.”

We rode the two miles to Mrs.Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Daddy was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was he buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?” “Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?”

Mrs.Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Mrs.Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Daddy said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then he handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children – sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at my Daddy like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.

“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” he said. Then turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.” I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Daddy handed them each a piece of candy and Mrs.Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I’d never thought of my Daddy in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Daddy had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Mommy and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Daddy insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. My Daddy took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn’t want us to go. I could see that they missed their Daddy and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door he turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We’ll be by to get you about eleven. It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Mrs.Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles. I don’t have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will.”

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Daddy turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something. Your Mother and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough.

Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your Mom and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Daddy had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. He had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Mrs. Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, Whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside of my Daddy that night. He had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life..

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Here is the link to the Facebook page. I do not know anything about the origin of the story, but I think the person that shared it has a heart for humanity as well. https://www.facebook.com/alan.riser.9

To Thee I’m Wed

Today, October 20, 2019, my husband and I have been married for thirty-five years. I never really thought we would get here. Just too busy living life and surviving on a daily basis…and now all those years are gone!

This is a transition time in our lives. So many unanswered questions about what we are to be doing now. So many tests in the areas of health and finances. So many thoughts on what we did wrong and what we could have done better.

Even though we are overwhelmed right now, we’re still on the right path…just walking very stooped and slow. The light is dim at times, but it hasn’t gone out. I hope and pray for better days, more memories to look back on and smile about.

To Thee I’m Wed is the title to the first book I published. The character of Jason Miller is my husband, and I hope that I portrayed my husband’s patience, his enduring love for his family, and his dedication to his marriage in that book. Men such as Jason and George are hard to find. And without George, our marriage would not be what it is today.

Happy Anniversary, George! I pray that we have many more years together. I share these three pictures because they make me smile, and I think of all the reasons that I fell in love with you back in 1984.

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Welcome to Life!

I feel as though I should begin this post with a “Hello”, and the lyrics from Adele’s song. As you already know, I haven’t been around much lately. Life is happening at a pace that I’m having a hard time adjusting to. But I will…eventually.

We now have seven grandchildren, as of 6:36 pm on the 22nd. Her name is Josie. I had the privilege of being there for her birth, just as I have for all but one of our grandchildren. Eden decided to be born quickly in the middle of the night, so I stayed with the older two children while her parents made a trip to the birth center. When I say privilege…it is! At one time, I seriously considered being a midwife, or at least working in labor and delivery at a hospital. I love being with women in labor. The process of labor and birth is absolutely amazing to me…and it never dulls. So, it is a privilege to be a part of that very intimate time in a couple’s life, no matter how many times that process occurs. Mother and little Josie are doing well, and big sister Ashlynn is taking well to her new responsibilities.

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I am now also working full-time as the Activity Director at our local rest home. I do love this job…even if it seems strange to call it that. But it is hectic, and it takes the stuffing out of me by the end of the day. I love being more active and walking for much of my day. The sitting at my desk all day was wreaking havoc on my back and hips, but I’m adjusting to the activity. Sitting is about all I can handle by the time I arrive home. I am hoping that with warmer, spring air and sunshine, my energy level is back. After all, I’ll have a yard to tackle!

Renovation projects…of course have come to a stand still. I’m happy I accomplished as much as I did before Christmas. I really do want our son to have a life of his own, but I hope he has a couple months after he finishes with school in South Dakota to help me get caught up. Then I think we should sell the house and move to an apartment! 😉 We shall see. The little house by some water is still extremely appealing. And of course my lap-top will travel where no desk-top can. A row-boat in a middle of a pond with frogs croaking and birds chirping is beckoning me.

So, I’m still here, and I check in every now and then. Thank you to all of you that keep stopping by and commenting. It is a real encouragement! Have a great week…spring flowers and painted toe-nails are just around the corner!

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Those Precious Memories

When in doubt, I go to Jim Reeves and his melodious voice.

Our memories mean more and more to us as we grow older. I see this every day. It amazes me what the mind can recall. I pray your memories are indeed precious and beautiful this Sunday morning. Have a wonderful week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMGtWkJgdIM

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I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

This life we live is uncertain, filled with obstacles, lost expectations of our youth, and a lot of ‘just getting by’. Life is a journey that each of us has been given, and it is also a gift. Along with the struggles, and the not-so-good days, there is hope, and there is joy.

I’ve always loved the words to this song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n3iLXHzX9k

It was written by Ira F. Stanphill in 1950, during a very difficult time in his own life. From what I could find, his wife left him to pursue a career of her own, at the zenith of his. If any of you know of different facts, or more, please share. I always enjoy learning more about a person. Mr. Stanphill wrote this song out of the pain, betrayal and loss he was experiencing at that time, and you can feel it.

So many items in this life are unknowns. We don’t know what the day will hold, we don’t know if any of us will be here tomorrow. But we do have today, and we can rejoice and take comfort in that. Make your Sunday… today, a good one.

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Merry Christmas!

Tomorrow is Christmas Day. The house has been draped in garland and ribbons, the tree twinkling, aglow with Christmas memories.

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The baking is done, lovely aromas of sugar and spices, a confectioner’s dream. The green and red dye has worn off from tiny fingers, the tongue will be tinged for days…until no crumb remains.

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If you are privileged, you’ve seen carolers, and listened to their sweet voices, and maybe not so sweet, lifted with joy in song. You’ve enjoyed a Christmas program or two, and delighted in your children or grandchildren, niece or nephew.

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The music has played, and set the tone, and all that remains is the opening of gifts, and a day filled with family, friends and laughter. The absolute best part about the festivities. That meal is also pretty special!

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Tomorrow, let us recall the reason for it all. That babe in a manger, so very small. You may not be surrounded by family and friends, your house a delight of colors and smells. You…alone physically or emotionally… have the most special of days, the time spent with a Man, that died for you…the same. He now sits at the right hand of the Father, waiting for you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fB3Fo6yG2n0

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I wish you a very Merry Christmas! Thank you for reading, for being part of my life.

 

That Christmas Feeling

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I love this time of year! The aromas wafting through the house…cinnamon sticks and pine. Well, normally our house smells of those items, but today it smells of burnt toast thanks to our youngest. I’ll have to light some more candles tomorrow. At one time, I had a can of pine scent to spray through the house since we had a fake tree, but those kind of smells lead to a whopping headache for me these days!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas:

Snow drifting lazily outside your frosted window,
The fire crackling merrily,
The orange and yellow flickers mesmerizing with their glow.
The fresh-cut tree being dragged through the house,
Just “one more inch” to help it clear the ceiling.
The winter crispness emanating from those needles,
The pine scent filling the air.
Then commence the decorating,
Lights weaved over the prickly branches.
The “oohs” and “aahs” of each ornament plucked from the box,
A kaleidoscope of memories besieging your heart.
The stockings are hung, the nativity displayed,
The routine of the festivities replayed.

A candlelit house, smelling of pine and baked goods,
A hint of cinnamon and spice.
The gentle pause in the daily routine,
A soft snuggle by the twinkling lights.
These are my memories,
This is what the Christmas season looks like for me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGBie5pT9nw

Christmas is the time of year that we set aside to remember that our Lord and Savior came to earth as a baby. The decorations, the lights, baking and presents are traditions handed down from many countries for many generations. They are what they are…pleasant traditions that I look forward to sharing each year. For me, they don’t take away the importance of that tiny baby, humbled, but still a King. They add to the feeling of home and family…my memories. And I cherish them.

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I pray your Christmas season is one filled with joy, and many happy memories…

I Was Where?

At one time in my life, I spent literally hours at shopping malls. I kept up this habit until we had two small children. By then it was a great way to get out of the house for a few hours and incorporate some much-needed walking into my day. I never really spent much money, but I recall the people-watching and the store windows. At Christmas time, I loved the decorations and the music, the shoppers with the common goal of locating that perfect gift.

Then, for many years, the thought of entering that brightly-lit fray had the power to make me feel as though an elephant was sitting on my chest. The mall was the last place I wanted to be, and during the Christmas season I really wanted to avoid it. My comfy office chair guided me through many years of birthday and Christmas shopping.

I’ve noticed that life seems to travel in full circles. I’m also the person that would always do the opposite of others, not wanting to follow the crowds. If hair was to be short, mine was long, and if curls were the go-to style, I wouldn’t fuss so much to have that bounce. I haven’t told my family this, but the other day when I was contemplating the painting of our house, two sides one color and two sides of another color flashed through my head. After all, people don’t normally decide to do this to their homes. (And, if you live in a neighborhood with rules, you may not be allowed to do this!) I just know that our house has been the same color for over ten years now, and I want something different and unique, but all in good taste…of course!

So maybe that is the greater reason that I found enjoyment in not one, but two days at two malls…all in the same week! That, or the company I was with. It was also an excellent way to get that walking in! Because I was having such a good time, I even had my picture taken a few times…also a rarity. Thank you to my husband and our youngest for two fun days. It reminded me of why I once spent many hours at the mall, and shopping. The picture below is actually at Home Depot. I’ve never looked so good in red!

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I think this is one of my favorite pictures of my husband and me. It just makes me smile. Merry Christmas! May your Christmas shopping be peaceful, enjoyable and those gifts right at your fingertips.

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The Time for Giving!

My newest release is available! Lots of excitement here! That’s me doing a little happy dance in the snow.

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Okay, not really. It’s been almost in the seventies the past couple of days here in Kansas. So no snow, but that’s what I would be doing if I could!

In honor of When Love Grows and the release, I am having a Goodreads giveaway. 

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/269283-when-love-grows

This will begin on December 11, 2017 and end on January 8, 2018. So you will have one month to enter this giveaway. I will be giving away three, signed copies of When Love Grows. No purchase necessary. But if you would like, you may read When Hope Blooms first and get acquainted with the little town of Wheatacre, Kansas. The story continues in When Love Grows, but it can be read as a stand-alone. You may purchase When Hope Blooms, or any of my books right here: https://www.amazon.com/Deborah-Ann-Dykeman/e/B01B2BYPK6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1512426480&sr=1-2-ent

Happy reading everyone, and I wish you a very happy December!

Welcome To the World!

Because I delivered five babies, I went through labor five times. My labors weren’t the ones where you went in and played cards for a while, skipped down the hospital corridor with your backside for all to see, had an epidural and then were told to push because you were numb from the middle down.

Now, to be fair, I’ve never had an epidural. These were stories told by other moms that had one. Because of my fear of anyone poking around my spine, I always declined. I would rather be completely sedated. But you understand that with any fear, it can be completely irrational. Facts don’t matter! Each woman is different, every person experiences pain in a different way. Every woman needs to do what she feels is best for her labor and delivery, and she  needs the support of those with her.

My labors were long, and I delivered big babies. With each one, the first cry and the first glimpse of that tiny face…made all those hours very well worth it. Around thirteen years later with each child, I rethought those moments and my conclusion was that I was delusional at the time. Extreme discomfort and pain can do that to you! But with each child, when active labor began, it was that feeling of despair. The memories of what that long contraction felt like…and I wanted to run!

So it was with our second oldest when she was in labor with our sixth grandchild last Wednesday. Believe me, I felt those contractions, I knew by the look on her face that she wanted to run. But labor is one of those items in this life that you have to see through until the end. And women all around the world for ages have done it over and over again. Women are strong, they are formidable, a force to be reckoned with. And yet, when a child is small, and sometimes big, they want their mother to ease the pain…to comfort.

Our sixth grandchild, the fifth girl, arrived last Wednesday, November 22nd at 3:43 pm. Her name is Eleanor Rose Elise…Ellie to us. She weighed 7 pounds and 6 ounces, 19 inches and then some, I think. The statistics dim for me after the first few days. Because of her parents request to not post pictures at this time, I will not. But she is a real cutie! Her big sister Ava thinks so as well.

Family is one of those Divine Institutions that God has given us in this life. Marriage and family is to be honored and cherished. It is a Blessing far beyond my comprehension. It is what makes this world, rather difficult to live in at times, just that much better. I am thankful for mine!

Welcome to this big world, Miss Ellie Rose! I look forward to watching you grow into the delightful woman God created you to be. And may your mother have the honor of watching your little ones arrive in this world one day. It is a Blessing to behold!

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