Santas For Sale

A day's Get-Away can be just the thing for some holiday relief.
My Wonderful Husband and I laughed (and smooched) as we browsed row upon row of antique junk.
There were lots and LOTS of vintage Christmas decorations for sale -
so many kinds of Santas!
 Isn't this an odd little Saint Nick? 
Maybe it was a craft project during the 50's. 
 It must've been popular for us to find two of them in the same store! 
(Can you see our reflection on Santa's face?)

We found  Angry Santa standing on a chair near the bookshelves. 
Is he so angry because he has no hands 
or because his boots are made of cheap, white plastic?
I believe this Santa carries only has sticks and coal in his pack.

 This one has a cheerful, kind face, but his beard falling off is a little upsetting.  
It reminded me of the TeethFallingOut  dream. 
(No hands again - or maybe his sleeves are just sewn closed?)

Empty Eyes Santa! 
He makes me wince a little. This one could star in a Holiday Horror flick.

Another bad beard and another missing hand. 
Hands are so unpredictable, aren't they?
Ask any teenager.


December 26th

Today was pajama day.  
All Day Long
I loved it - my first true day off in weeks.

In my heart, though, today was a due date. 

You know, I don't remember the due dates of my boys. I think I almost hit the actual due date for My Oldest. Maybe I missed it by one day? The others, I know I missed, since none of  those man-babies seemed to want to leave the cozy womb, staying inside long enough to make me groan in anticipation, 
and a little bit of misery.

But I think due dates get erased, or at least smudged,  from memory when the actual, joy-filled,  birth-date occurs. When no birth-day comes, the due date remains, representing all that was hoped for, all that was dreamed. 

So every December 26th, I nod to myself, remembering, and again agreeing with Him that all is well. 
I find myself willing those dreams into the safety of His hand once again, knowing that there is a future, and a hope, 
because He promised. 


The Stable Truth

Merry Christmas, dear friends! 
I hope you spend the next few days savoring, 
and enjoying True Christmas with your loved ones, near or far. 
That's my plan, too.

"In our world too, a stable once had something inside it 
that was bigger than our whole world."
Queen Lucy in The Last Battle
by My Old Friend, Clive
Wouldn't it be nice to start a read-aloud time with one of the Chronicles of Narnia, 
during the quiet in-between week before New Year's Eve?


The Manly Option

The search for the perfect tree - a yearly challenge. 
 This year for the first time, I ended up in retreat to the car, leaving the men and almost-men to make the final selection. 
Fat and Impossibly Tall  
Thin and Just Tall Enough
You know what they all want, right? 
The MANLY option. 

Back when this photo was taken, our family made a yearly trip to scour the hills of Campbell County for the Perfect Tree
Tug Fork Tree Farm grew field after field of lovely trees, 
and our task to find that Perfect One would take an (entire) afternoon
The same discussion regarding tree shape/size occurred every year. 
My Youngest is demonstrating his choice, 
without compromise or any shred of embarrassment - 
the Fattest and Tallest tree on the farm.
Man in training!


Shoulder Peeking

I have nighttime camera issues. 
Or in low-light, like indoor evening shots. 
So Frustrating!
So these Christmas light shots were experimental. 
Trying the many settings on the dial, in a crowd, looking for something that worked. 
This didn't work, but I like the blurry dragging look anyway. 
Finally, this on the SPORTS setting. Yeah!
The camera captured the glow of the lights which was what was missing from the other shots. 

Later, we sat waiting for the Winter Wonderland puppet show to start in a large, outdoor auditorium. A young man with his tripod/camera was just in front and to the right. He was taking some photos of his friends, who were just to his right, as they ate funnel cake. 
I know I'm not the only one who peeks over the shoulder of other photographers (hahaha) to see how their photos are turning out. Right? 
So I'm peeking at this guy's review display - !!! Amazing, perfect photos in the miserable low-light of the auditorium! I was thinking of tapping his shoulder, but instead pointed the achievement to MWHusband, who I thought was 
'unaware' of what was going on right next to him. 
"Look at this guy's photos! HOW did he do that?"
"Didn't you hear him? He just got a new low-light lens."



My Youngest went airborne this week!  
My Dad flies this plane, sort of a wonderful hobby ...
... and he offered to take this guy up. My Middle Son wanted nothing at all to do with this sort of nonsense - "No, Thanks!" But this one, he couldn't wait.  
However, on the way, he made some last minute arrangements for the distribution of his 
Christmas gifts in case anything should happen to him. 
And he considered the benefits of  fasting.
I think he might have a love of sky, like I do.  
 He certainly got some great shots up there. 
The amazing sunset seemed to be just for him.
First time in flight - do you remember how the night lights looked to you the first time you saw them from that high up?  I guess I'm assuming everyone has been flying. It does seem that there are very few people now who've never been in a plane.
I know some who fly but won't look out the window, 
though, and what sights they're missing! 
I guess not looking is better than making use of that little paper bag.
Yes, and the rest of us do appreciate that. So much!


Not Just Lights

 It's not too late to do a zoo trip. 
The lights are all strung for the Festival
People asked us, "Why would you go during the day??? 
The lights don't come on until evening..."
BUT they seem to be on 24/7 - your tax $ at work.
And there are alot less people, which is very good and a little bit bad.
For viewing purposes. Of course you know what I mean.
 And all the animals are still working - even in December! 
Busy with shedding ...
... and snuggling ...
Did you know - you're not supposed to knock on windows at the cat house? 
FYI - Just in case you visit. 
... and squawking.
The flamingos get a little miffy at the sound of an empty water bottle being squeezed.
People say we look alike, My Youngest and I. 
I can't find the wrinkle remover tool on this site --- Blogger? Can't you help a girl out?


That Crazy Innkeeper

My Youngest, about eight years ago, busy playing with the manger scene at Christmas. 
Pajamas + fire + sock feet + sticky face = a happy morning. 
That I've set this nativity group out again, complete, is an amazement to me.
This is the 'play'manger scene
not to be confused with the 'special'manger scene
which was always placed up high, just out of the reach of my three small sons. 
That glass set was only for looking and not for touching
one of the very few items in our home to ever fit in that demanding category.
But this plastic set, this one was fine to play with, and I wanted them to
giving me an opportunity to talk to them about that holy night, and those who were part of the story. Now my Men and Almost-Men are too old to play with the pieces, and it turns out, this set, the ok-to-play-with-set, has become the real treasure!

That angel has flown through the entire house and always returned to her place on the stable roof. Baby Jesus has been wooled over, sent down steps (His bed does look a little like a sled...), and fed at the breakfast table. Those kings, and the shepherds too, have been on special ops with GI Joes, and I think Joseph flew in Chopper 5 more than once. 
Mary stayed put, always, as she apparently made a poor adventure partner for my boys.
The innkeeper, also, was not taken out to play and was regarded with mild scorn at all times.

"No room - REALLY?!? He was crazy, Mom, right?!"
It's so easy to find fault with others' callousness toward the Lord, while ignoring and excusing our own mishandlings... While I long to be Mary in the story "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord...", or a Shepherd, filled with wonder and "making haste" toward Jesus, too often I find myself in the role of that miserable innkeeper, busily blind to what is going on in the kingdom, missing precious glimpses of the Lord when He is made manifest right in front of me. 
Do you know what I mean? Do you see yourself in the Christmas story?

They've suffered a little damage - the donkey is missing an ear (broken while galloping with the camels), some hands have gone missing (it seemed to be very difficult to press a machine gun into the hand of a magi member), a shepherd's flute was bent (which sadly wouldn't make music when blown by small boys)

But they're all taking their places out there in the living room, welcoming the Christ Child in yet another Season of Joy.



Every holiday includes great photo opportunities.
People in the holiday spirit are willing to do unusual things.
And I heard from a reliable source that there's ALOT more fun to be had at the kid table.
How long will we have these days of laughter? 
Smiles and hoots of joy gilded by so-generous candlelight?
Are you savoring these days with me? 
Yes, believe me, 
I know it's not all fun and games, 
and tears of un-joy may also be shed when the family gathers.

But I'm trying to let those tears be like the pains of childbirth 
and allow them to slip out of my memories. 

I'm not going to listen when they cry "Here!" during the roll call of reminiscing. 

I'll pretend I didn't hear a thing and instead focus on recalling 
the smiles, the hoots, the winks, the hugs.
The Joy.


Rose Frost

My knock-out roses are hard to stop. 
They just keep blooming and blooming and blooming...
But that last frost stopped them cold.
It was time for them to take a break.
Merry Christmas - enjoy the nap!
  (frost on the patio chimney)


Lights and The Light

Lights are up - I love the lights!  
Lights are the men's job around here. 
I'm glad that we've convinced our sons that it's a HugeBigDeal to be a Light Handler.
And that they will be also.
"Boys, why do we have special lights at Christmas?"

"As long as I am in the world, 
I am the light of the world."
John 9:5

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
John 1:5

"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness."
John 12:46