Brightly wrapped presents under the tree are a beautiful sight to behold on Christmas morning. As a child, scampering down the stairs to see what Santa had delivered was always exciting. Even though we all knew Santa Claus was a fictional character in our home, it was fun to think about. We all knew our parents provided our gifts, and my mother worked herself to exhaustion level to make sure we had a wonderful Christmas season.
In our home growing up, and in our home raising children, the birth of Christ being remembered was always the reason we celebrated. The older I become, the more meaningful that is to me. I still enjoy the lighted and decorated Christmas tree, and the giving of presents. The family gathered, and food contributed and enjoyed by cherished family and friends.
No, Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th, and there wasn’t snow on the ground with wise men present. But Jesus Christ was born, and the angels proclaimed it to the shepherds in the fields. A star boldly proclaimed where the Savior lay and directed those that wished to follow. December 25th is the day set aside for Christians to remember. I am thankful we have the opportunity to still celebrate that, and I am extremely thankful for the gift that was given.
Merry Christmas to one and all! May your day be filled with thankfulness, and joy!
If you are in the United States, it’s safe to say that you are probably experiencing some severe weather of some sort. It’s been a crazy weather week! Here in Kansas, we will be having a white Christmas for the first time in many years. I know I’m excited about that! I rather like that Norman Rockwell feeling I get when the holiday season is filled with wintry weather…snow-covered grounds, with cinnamon and pine filling your senses beside a crackling fire.
Stay safe everyone as you get ready for “the most wonderful time of the year!”
Christmas time has come once again. And like all older people, you know the ones…the ones I said I would never be like back when I was in my twenties and thirties…it arrives quicker each year! Now that’s a sentence for my editor to make a comment on! Thank you, Britta Ann for all your wise words on editing. I really do appreciate you!
I really dislike that each time I have posted this year…all three times I think it’s been…I apologize for not posting. Life has been a whirlwind, and I know all of your lives have been as well. I’ve been wanting to update you all, and the time has never been there. So, here’s a quick update. Maybe at some point, when the winter winds blow and I’m cold just sitting around, and all my books are finished, I will fill in all the little blanks.
In April this year, my husband and I went to Indiana for two weeks to help care for our newest grandson. I kind of had a bad feeling from the standpoint of caring for a six-month old. Doing that at 57 is far different than in your twenties! But we survived, and it was absolutely wonderful getting to know little Maverick, who is now an adorable 13-month-old. But for some reason, those two weeks started a tailspin of events that I’m still recovering from. The hardest part being just being gone from home a lot…which again, something I wouldn’t have found a problem back in my twenties and thirties!
June was a busy month. My sister, whom I hadn’t seen in many years, came for a visit, and we were able to meet her new husband. A great visit! So happy to have Evan as part of our family! My mother fell at the nursing home about that same time. Any of you that have worked in geriatrics know that is not a good thing! Yes, my mother broke her hip…and that’s even worse for someone in a care facility. (I say that after working in care facilities for many years. It just seems to go downhill after a broken hip. Nothing being said here about care facilities being bad!) The end of June held many visits to the hospital, where my mother did very well for about a week. It was wonderful to have that time with her and my father. The end of June brought a fantastic time for our family in Branson. I even went swimming, which I hadn’t done in so many years! It was once a thing I loved!
During our week in Branson, my mother took a turn for the worse. My husband and I headed straight to the care facility on our return, him leaving my suitcases at my parent’s home. My mother passed on July 2nd, and while very sad, I am happy for her, and where she is now. She was in so much pain that last week. My brother and his family were making plans to visit my mother but missed her by two weeks. It was still wonderful to have them visit for a couple days!
Here is a fill-in-the-blank-later moment. My husband and I are now living in my parent’s home…my father is here occasionally, but my husband and I are now caring for it. My father wants it to be our home, and I’ve explained that it will take a while. Some time will need to pass before I don’t look at each item that is here and remember that it was my mother’s. For now, that’s a good thing. So many of my mother’s monetary furnishings had to be sold to make room for our furnishings, but I’ve kept those special pictures, glassware, and furniture that I and my siblings remember from our childhood.
I’ve posted on how special my mother made the holidays. I look back now and wonder how she did it. Dozens of cookies, open house celebrations, decorations galore! We always had at least two Christmas trees, and some years five when we lived in the bigger houses. I fall way short of that, but I have my memories. Yesterday I finished decorating our new home. Simpler than what my mother once did, but homey for us.
Lots of traveling this past year, my mother’s death, and a move. But so much to be thankful for this Christmas season! I have found that in my own life, God seems to work that way. Many trials and testing, but so many other reasons to give thanks, and remember how gracious and merciful God is. I have reconnected with my sister, I have the opportunity to spend time with my father, I have been privileged to get to know my brother’s family a bit better. We’ve had visits with our children and our grandchildren that were wonderful! We have a beautiful home to live in, and my husband’s Parkinson’s is holding steady.
Thank you, God, for all of these! Have a wonderful Christmas season!
Christmas Eve has arrived. I always look forward to this day and tomorrow. A special time spent with family, and whenever those days occur…memories abound.
I am missing my mother this year. She is still with us, but in a nursing home. The woman that was once a huge part of our holiday celebrations, only remembers the work involved. And I guess I don’t blame her for that. She went above and beyond for her family during the Christmas season.
Weeks of baking which included cookies of all kinds, and decorating sugar cookies. See’s Fudge, and gingerbread houses when we were older. We always had several trees to decorate. My father and brothers hung strings of white lights over barns, and shrubs, while candles illuminated every window.
We didn’t always have new clothes for Christmas. My mother shopped at the Salvation Army when we lived in Longmont, Colorado. We always had plenty of new-to-us clothing, and often from high-end places. My mother was a savvy shopper. She could stretch a buck to the breaking point in those days. What she didn’t purchase, she crocheted or knitted. Our babies always were well-dressed, and warm.
In between all of that, my mother played piano and organ for our church services. Which always meant a Christmas Cantata. I don’t know how she did it all.
Today, in America, we celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s become a day of copious amounts of food and eating.
A day to share with family and friends.
At one time, our schools taught that the Pilgrims and Indians came together during those first autumn days, and shared their bounties.
It’s been a very long time since I was in school, but I hope there are some memories of those first years when the settlers struggled, for our school children today. I remember being in first grade, and our mothers made a Thanksgiving dish for us to share during class. My mother also made me a long, calico skirt that I wore for a few years. I loved it! A couple children dressed as Indians, some as Pilgrims. We sat on blankets on our classroom floor…and we tried to place ourselves back several hundred years.
My take away from that day at school wasn’t all the political stuff, but the working together, and being thankful for our family, friends, and good food.
I pray your day is filled with Thanksgiving memories, and the acts of sharing, and caring for one another. We all have much to be thankful for.
Today, here in America we celebrate our Veterans. The men and women that have served in our armed forces. Without their dedication and sacrifice…some the ultimate sacrifice…we would not have the freedoms we still enjoy.
While I have no memory of family serving in actual battle, my husband’s paternal grandfather served in World War I. His Uncle Cal served in the Vietnam War for multiple tours. During my years working in rest homes, I had the privilege to speak with many war survivors. I was always amazed at the stories they told, the experiences they had.
And I was extremely thankful for them serving their country.
Today we remember all of you, and we thank you for your service.
My maternal grandfather, Daryl McMillen, United States Navy
My father, Larry Johnson, United States Air Force
My husband, George Dykeman, United States Air Force
My brother, Todd Johnson, United States Navy
My husband’s family…
His paternal grandfather, George Dykeman, United States Army
His father, Robert Dykeman, United States Marine Corps
His uncle, Calvin Dykeman, United States Air Force
His uncle, Albert Dykeman, United States Air Force
His brother, Ron Davis, United States Marine Corps
His brother, James Dykeman, United States Marine Corps
My husband has another uncle, Tom Dykeman that may have been in the service as well. If family reads this post, please be sure to correct me and post the branch.
Please be sure to show your thankfulness and support for all our Veterans today. Display your flag correctly and with respect. Attend services for these Veterans if available in your community.
And always…remember their dedication and sacrifice to the United States of America.
My mother loved old homes, and probably passed that down to me. Throw in a little history, maybe some drama about a place, and I’m hooked. Because of those two items, I read a lot of Victoria Holt in my teenage years. I also enjoyed John Jakes, and Eugenia Price for the same reasons. And yes, when I was younger, I read a wide assortment of genres. Usually spending my lunch hour reading in the library rather than eating, if I had the option.
Because of my mother, we were privileged to live in some real beauties over the years. That also meant a lot of restoration projects, and cleaning! I don’t think we ever just lived in a house. And about the time it was fairly decent, and had a good kitchen, we moved. This happened a few times in my memory. That is probably the reasoning behind so many of my own kitchen projects!
So imagine my surprise when a friend from high school, (actually in my sister’s class I believe) shared this link with me a couple days ago.
My parents purchased this house the summer of 1978, the year I celebrated my 14th birthday. We had been living in Burlington, Vermont since that January and my parents saw this house on the way through Crown Point, New York. So about August, we began making weekend trips to the house to clean, paint, and get ready for us to move into. Those were long days, but I was so excited! For one thing, I had hated living in Burlington. It was one of the rare times we had moved to a new house in a new neighborhood, and the schools were not great. I won’t even mention how miserable it was to move to Burlington in January! You can let your imagination run wild and it will be on course.
In a previous post of mine, titled All Hallow’s Eve in 2017, I included this: A gorgeous home built by the town banker in the late 1880’s from what we were told. His name was A.J. Wyman, and he began a banking business in April, 1881 in Crown Point. My parent’s talked with people all over town getting as much information about the house as possible. They were told that the oak staircase in the front of the house was hand-carved and took a year to make, and other interesting facts and trivia. Some they questioned, because you never know how the stories change over the years. Another item that was shared was that nuns had lived in the house for a while. The Catholic Church in Crown Point was just a little ways from the house. A realtor friend of my parents at the time said the house had porcelain sinks, tubs, etc. originally, and they had disappeared from the house during a time of it being rented.
The summer we arrived, the house had been a duplex. The section that had been for the Wyman family when built, the north side, had been done in oak. The south side was done in cherry, and housed the servants. There were pocket doors between the two sections for servants and family to be able to cross discreetly. So these two sections had been closed off to make two homes. My parents used it for one home, opening it back up.
Because of this, there were two kitchens, and three bathrooms at the time we moved in. For some reason, my mother elected to use the south kitchen, which is what you see in the above real estate pictures. I say for some reason, because the other kitchen was rather nice, actual cabinets and counters. But it was modern, and my mother wasn’t into modern too much back then. She even put a wood cookstove in the kitchen we used. It was located on the same wall where you see the stainless range now. My grandfather built a brick wall for the cookstove, and that’s where I learned to lay brick. When we lived there, the kitchen had no cabinets. Just an old porcelain sink. There was a gorgeous butler’s pantry just off this room, all done in cherry. We kept all our kitchen supplies in there. The other kitchen has now been made into a bedroom, the only one on the first floor.
I was amazed, and so very pleased to see that all the woodwork is still intact, and not painted! It was gorgeous, and it still is. I spent many hours with lemon oil polishing it. My father hung the wallpaper that you see in the front foyer, parlor and what was our formal dining room. That included the wallpaper you see going up the stairs and in the upstairs hall. I remember him placing a long board across that rotunda, and hanging that very heavy wallpaper. It’s wonderful to see that it survived all these years! I had noticed that the red-flocked paper in the northwest room we used as a formal dining room is not finished on the west wall. I seem to recall my father running out of wallpaper, and that was not completed. I will have to ask him about that!
My sister and I had the two bedrooms on the north side of the house with the bay windows. Mine was on the west and her room was on the east. One brother had the room next to mine, that is now a bathroom. The room that was a huge bathroom when we lived there is now a bedroom. Another brother had the bedroom across from the bathroom. It is now where you see the baby bed and whicker furniture. A doorway that was installed, and not original to the house leads to a bedroom in the servant’s section of the house that my parents used. In the pictures above, you see a really pretty bathroom with burgundy colors and an old toilet. This was where the cistern for the house was located, and it was gigantic! That was all that was in that room. The bathroom my father used was the bedroom you now see at the end of the hall. The bedroom across from there has a daybed in it if I remember correctly. When we lived there, the walls in the servant’s quarters were pretty bad. It’s nice to see that they have been updated…but for my taste I would have gone with something not so dark, and that complemented that cherry woodwork a little better.
The large room at the back of the house had been the woodshed. It was pretty rough when we lived there. We used it for a family room, and I had a sleep-over with many friends in that room! The Christmas we were there, we had a huge Christmas tree, and my father anchored it to the supports in the ceiling. The room is nice now, and very cozy-looking. Not to mention the added bathroom that was once my mother’s laundry room. You entered it through where the washer and dryer combo is in the kitchen now.
The row of pine trees beside the house on the east side were planted by my parents. My mother would be thrilled to know they grew to be so big! I was surprised to see how very much the house is blanketed by trees. It seemed rather open to me back in the ’70’s. My brother had a horse and a pony that had stalls in the barn, and a corral behind the barn. We kept rabbits there as well. A very large garden area was to the west of the barn. My father grew lots of potatoes that second summer we lived there. He stored them in that cavernous basement beneath the house. It was a terrible thing to hear my mother ask for wood for the stove or potatoes. That meant a trip to that dungeon, and that is exactly what it looked like! I can still remember the damp coal and heating oil smells from all the years before us.
Memories! Mine seem even more sentimental now. My mother is in a nursing home. A small room with very little of the items that she at one time enjoyed having surround her. She does have memories of the Crown Point home, and other homes she enjoyed fixing up and decorating. She often mentions all the work they took to maintain! Slowly, her material items are being given out to family members, and I hope they come to love them as she did.
I suppose this post is more for me than anyone else. A record of my thoughts when I was looking through the pictures that Allison shared with me. I have good memories of my school years in Crown Point. My favorite teachers were there, and I still have many friends that I stay in touch with through social media. Someday…it would be nice to return…preferably with my siblings, and remember the good times.
Not just the bad.
Below is the house our first Christmas. Isn’t it beautiful?
When I was young, this made me sad. Summer, and all the activities we were involved in was one of the highlights of my youth. For a few years, I was in summer school. I know that may send shivers down some spines, but for me it was a few weeks when I could extend the classes that I really loved in school. I took art classes…fun stuff like pottery, and macramé. My siblings and I always took swimming lessons, and then spent every day at the pool.
When the first cool breezes hit Longmont, Colorado, (where I lived until I was thirteen), we knew it was time for school to begin once again. There was always a shopping trip to purchase new clothes and shoes for the school year. These clothes came with instructions from our mother of what day, under what circumstances, and what kind of weather those pieces of clothing were for…and we didn’t stray. You were not caught in school clothes if you were playing in the yard, and never on a weekend. Work clothes were not worn to school, and church clothes were for church, and only very special occasions. This list of instructions was the same for all children. When the cool weather changed to winter, you added a cardigan to your dress, and sometimes tights, or knee-high socks. I spent many mornings waiting for the school bus and wishing I had remembered my tights instead of the knee-highs. I would board the bus with red, chilled-to-the-bone knees.
After the first day of school, you had your school-supply list. That of course meant another trip to the store. I think I was in middle-school before a list was posted before school started. That second trip to the store was fun, and must have cost my parents a small fortune when all four of us were in school. But back then, those supplies were yours to use. A nifty little school box, (that we kept caterpillars in), stored our pencils, erasers, and little scissors. If you were really fortunate, you had your own pencil sharpener that didn’t eat up too much of your pencil, saving you the wait time of using the class crank one. Life was easy back then, and the little things meant a lot.
Memories make up so much of our lives, and I have many good ones. I started this post with the end of summer, and even as an adult, it makes me melancholy. The days are already becoming shorter, and the mornings have that autumn feel, even if the temperature rises into the nineties. Outdoor projects once again beckon me, but now they are a process of getting things ready for the winter. A winding down, preparation for the holiday season ahead.
One day, my goal is to spend a substantial amount of my year beside the ocean. Seaside is still my favorite place to be. A few trips to see my father’s side of the family in the San Diego area, made many good memories for me. Most notably the time we spent at the ocean. The beaches were a little more crowded than I liked, but the crashing waves, sand sifting beneath your feet, and that salt-water tinge in the air were always there. In my young-adult years, I was introduced to the Cape Cod surroundings, and I felt as though I had found my special place beside the ocean. It still beckons.
For me, summers always mean water, and that seaside experience. I don’t even want the palm trees and sand, but the sand dunes and beach roses. White picket fences trailing into oblivion, dune grass swaying in the ocean breeze. Even though I’ve lived in the middle portion of the United States for most of my life, this is my picture of summer.
And today, those pictures are replaced with the memories of trudging off to school in a plaid dress, wet leaves plastered on the sidewalks. That damp smell filling your head, as the heavy air lingers around the trees.
Easter Sunday is approaching quickly. Here in Kansas we were experiencing sub-zero temperatures just a couple weeks ago. The past few days have been in the ’70’s. Now, another storm is approaching, promising lots of snow in some areas.
Spring…a season of new life, expectations, and hope.
So many of my posts are reflecting back on my life and thoughts. Easter Sunday was another day I looked forward to as a child. Yes, I understood that we were celebrating and rejoicing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But the bigger picture for me at that time was a new Easter dress and decorating eggs. Remember…I was a child, and I thought as a child.
I have happy memories from those Saturday afternoons of dipping eggs. I don’t think we ever missed an Easter-decorating-eggs-day. Little cups of vinegar, the tablets melting into pools of color. The wire holder that was to help scoop the colored eggs. Always difficult for little hands to manage. But little fingers worked well. I think every child in Sunday school the next day had colored fingers! When the wraps came out in the 1970’s, I was thrilled. We could take our decorating to a whole new level.
My father always hid our Easter baskets first thing on Easter morning. We have pictures of us, proudly displaying our baskets. Our hair a mess from sleeping, mine usually in curlers. Those were the days when everyone bought a new dress for Easter Sunday, and you proudly marched off to church in it. When I was small, the outfit still included a new hat, shoes, white gloves, and a tiny purse. Of course more pictures were taken. And now they are included in photo history. A time when life was more simple, and it seems joy was taken in the little things.
Our youngest asked if we could decorate eggs this year. She’s 16, and very talented in the drawing, and painting areas. For me now, I don’t want to take the time to decorate something I’m going to crack, peel the shell off and eat. Because now I think like an old woman. No disrespect intended, and there is nothing wrong with decorating eggs. But it would be very special to have some pretty eggs for Easter Sunday.
I hope this post brought back your own special memories. The holidays are a time to reflect on those days…and that is part of making them special. Happy egg-decorating!
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