Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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I Know the Big Guy!

I know the real Santa.

Don’t raise your eyebrows. It’s true, I do know him.

I met him a long time ago, back when my kids were small.

Here’s how I know him. Every year, St. Nick visited C-Town. When my kids were little, even though we lived in Pryor Creek and had our own parade there, the boys insisted we had to come home to C-Town because that was the only place where the real Santa made it for the parade.

So we’d come home. We watched the bands and floats and Shriners entertain, and even though there was a wonderful show going on, the boys only wanted one thing. Okay, two things. Candy and to see Santa riding on the big red fire engine.

And when Santa cruised past, he always waved his hand at our corner of the parade route and shouted, “Hi Danny! Hi Kyle! Hi Matt! Hi Brad! Hi Grant! Hi Melanie!  Merry Christmas.” For him to know their names, he had to be the authentic Kris Kringle, didn’t he?

Santa also took time to come to our church to visit with the kids after the Christmas program. He not only knew their names, he gave them  each a bag of candy, too.

So #1 son deducted that he HAD to be the only real Santa.

Who was I to argue?

SHAY KIDS DO NOT READ THIS!!! (I mean it. You’ve been warned.)

PS:  Don’t tell my kiddos, but the Big Guy was represented by a Christian man in our church. His suit was made by one of the wonderfully talented women in our church. (Don’t you love people who donate their time and talent so freely?)

This man was kind and loving to the kids in town and very, very patient. (With the length of some of the lists and the crying the babies did, he had to have a ton of patience!)

Not only was he a member of the church we went to most of my life, but he was also a neighbor. They make the best Santas, don’t they?

Way back when I was a kid and one of my sibs recognized the Santa we visited or noticed his beard wasn’t real, Mama always explained it by telling them the man was Santa’s helper. He had to have helpers like that because the Big Guy was so busy at the North Pole getting ready to fill up that sleigh and make his whirl-wind trip to all the boys and girls in the world.

Wow. Remember believing that? What a sweet time it was when we really believed that all the world received gifts. Back before we knew about hate, unhappiness, prejudice and my-way-or-the-highway kinds of life. And before we knew about poverty in parts of the world that make you cry to think about.

I still believe in Santa. (Even though Paula told me the truth when I was four. BTW–it’s okay, Paula. I enjoyed knowing and helping Mom keep the secret all those years.)

Besides, Santa is the Spirit of giving and Christmas and forgetting old hurts and loving one another. So of course, I BELIEVE!

Do you?

mom, dad and me


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What Mama Told Her Kid

When I was little, little, before the time of younger brother and sisters, I asked some really silly questions.

 

When Mama started teaching me the “alphabet,” (a new word in my vocabulary)  I asked her if they left any letters out of it.

I have to give her points. She didn’t laugh. She just answered, “I don’t think so.”

One day after church, I asked her where God came from. (Isn’t it cool the way kids always ask Mama the easy stuff?)

She answered, “He didn’t come from anywhere. He’s always been here. He made the world and everything in it.”

And when I asked her where Santa came from, she had the answer.

I don’t remember if the answer was in a book she read to me or if it was something she made up. I seem to remember colorful pictures, but there are a lot of Christmas books in my past. ;)

Here’s what she told me: (At least, this is the way I remember it, and probably what I told my kids.)

Once upon a time there was a man named Kris Kringle.  He and his wife really loved kids.

Mr. and Mrs. Kringle didn’t have children of their own, so they prayed and prayed for one. While they waited for God to answer their prayer, Mr. Kringle made toys while Mrs. Kringle baked cookies and made candy that came to their shop.

Once a year, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Kringles gave a toy to every child in the town.

Mr. and Mrs. Kringle grew very old and never had any children, and one day they died. When they got to Heaven, God said, “You’ve been so good, I’m going to make you a saint.  What would you like your eternal reward to be??”

Mr. and Mrs. Kringle didn’t hesitate. “We want to be with the children.”

So God made Kris “Saint Nicholas.” St. Nick and his wife continue to make toys, and every year, to celebrate the birth of Christ, he gives a toy to every child in the whole world.

That’s what Mama told her children. Or at least, that’s what she told this child.

What did your mama tell you?


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Teach the Children

 

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

From Facebook–

This isn’t original with me (it’s all over Facebook) but I love it. I’m sharing it here in case you missed it. Wednesday, we’ll be back to our regularly schoeduled program.

merry-christmas-ball.jpg
Late one Christmas Eve, I sank back, tired but content, into my easy chair. The kids were in bed, the gifts were wrapped, the milk and cookies waited by the fireplace for Santa. As I sat back admiring the tree with its decorations, I couldn’t help feeling that something important was missing. It wasn’t long before the tiny twinkling tree lights lulled me to sleep.

I don’t know how long I slept, but all of a sudden I knew that I wasn’t alone. I opened my eyes, and you can imagine my surprise when I saw Santa Claus himself standing next to my Christmas tree. He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot just as the poem described him, but he was not the “jolly old elf” of Christmas legend. The man who stood before me looked sad and disappointed, and there were tears in his eyes.

“Santa, what’s wrong?” I asked, “Why are you crying?”

“It’s the children,” Santa replied sadly.

“But Santa, the children love you,” I said.
“Oh, I know they love me, and they love the gifts I bring them,” Santa said, “but the children of today seem to have somehow missed out on the true spirit of Christmas. It’s not their fault. It’s just that the adults, many of them not having been taught themselves, have forgotten to teach the children.”

“Teach them what?” I asked.

Santa’s kind old face became soft, more gentle. His eyes began to shine with something more than tears. He spoke softly. “Teach the children the true meaning of Christmas. Teach them that the part of Christmas we can see, hear, and touch is much more than meets the eye. Teach them the symbolism behind the customs and traditions of Christmas which we now observe. Teach them what it is they truly represent.”

Santa reached into his bag and pulled out a tiny Christmas tree and set it on my mantle. “Teach them about the Christmas tree. Green is the second color of Christmas. The stately evergreen, with its unchanging color, represents the hope of eternal life in Jesus. Its needles point heavenward as a reminder that mankind’s thoughts should turn heavenward as well.”

Santa reached into his bag again and pulled out a shiny star and placed it at the top of the small tree. “The star was the heavenly sign of promise. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was the sign of the fulfillment of that promise on the night that Jesus Christ was born. Teach the children that God always fulfills His promises, and that wise men still seek Him.”

“Red,” said Santa, “is the first color of Christmas.” He pulled forth a red ornament for the tiny tree. “Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the color of the life-giving blood that flows through our veins. It is the symbol of God’s greatest gift. Teach the children that Christ gave His life and shed His blood for them that they might have eternal life. When they see the color red, it should remind them of that most wonderful Gift.”

Santa found a silver bell in his pack and placed it on the tree. “Just as lost sheep are guided to safety by the sound of the bell, it continues to ring today for all to be guided to the fold. Teach the children to follow the true Shepherd, who gave His life for the sheep.”

Santa placed a candle on the mantle and lit it. The soft glow from its one tiny flame brightened the room. “The glow of the candle represents how people can show their thanks for the gift of God’s Son that Christmas Eve long ago. Teach the children to follow in Christ’s foot steps… to go about doing good. Teach them to let their light so shine before people that all may see it and glorify God. This is what is symbolized when the twinkling lights shine on the tree like hundreds of bright, shining candles, each of them representing one of God’s precious children, their light shining for all to see.”

Again Santa reached into his bag and this time he brought forth a tiny red and white striped cane. As he hung it on the tree he spoke softly. “The candy cane is a stick of hard white candy: white to symbolize the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock the foundation of the church, and the firmness of God’s promises. The candy cane is in the form of a ‘J’ to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth. It also represents the Good Shepherd’s crook, which He uses to reach down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray. The original candy cane had three small red stripes, which are the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed, and a large red stripe that represents the shed blood of Jesus, so that we can have the promise of eternal life.”

“Teach these things to the children.”

Santa brought out a beautiful wreath made of fresh, fragrant greenery tied with a bright red bow. “The bow reminds us of the bond of perfection, which is love. The wreath embodies all the good things about Christmas for those with eyes to see and hearts to understand. It contains the colors of red and green and the heaven-turned needles of the evergreen. The bow tells the story of good will towards all and its color reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice. Even its very shape is symbolic, representing eternity and the eternal nature of Christ’s love. It is a circle, without beginning and without end. These are the things you must teach the children.”

I asked, “But where does that leave you, Santa?”

The tears gone now from his eyes, a smile broke over Santa’s face. “Why bless you, my dear,” he laughed, “I’m only a symbol myself. I represent the spirit of family fun and the joy of giving and receiving. If the children are taught these other things, there is no danger that I’ll ever be forgotten.”

“I think I’m beginning to understand.”

“That’s why I came,” said Santa. “You’re an adult. If you don’t teach the children these things, then who will?”

(Author Unknown)


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♥ Things I Love ♥

This is one of my all time favorite Mother’s Day cards. #3 son, Brad, made it for me. I should have written the date on it, but I didn’t think of it. :(

I don’t remember if Brad didn’t have any money that year or if he ran out of time, but he wanted to give me a card for Mother’s Day, so he made his own.

For years I’ve kept it close at hand, just like some of the letters to Santa my boys wrote. They warm my heart and make me feel very much loved.

The front says,

Dear Susan Carol Spess, Shay.

Happy Mothers Day

It’s decorated with all the things I love–Watermelon, flowers, a fountain, tulips. (Smart kid, huh?)

Inside is a poem.

 Dear Susan C Shay,

Hope you have a happy Mothers day.

Because this is a special day.

Happy Mothers Day. Yeah!!!

He signed it with a heart.

I’ve had many years of Mother’s Day cards and gifts–funny, happy and once in a while, sappy–and each one was very special because it came from my children or their father. But none of them is more special than this card from my little boy’s heart.

And the funny part? The part that makes me laugh and cry and want to hug my little boy one more time?

Can you read it?

“P. S. Sorry this is not a real card.”

I think it’s among the realest cards I’ve ever received.


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Three F’s

For as long as I can remember, Grandmother and Granddad had their family over for Christmas Eve. We’d eat homemade candy, desserts and goodies and open the gift the G’s had for us. Then we’d watch while they open our gifts.

After they were gone, that tradition had to change. It was decided that we’d combine the office Christmas party and the family party. Since much of the family is part of the business, that makes a lot of sense.

This year, we got together again. And, no surprise, we had a great time. (At least I did.)

 This is the pair who does all the planning and worrying, and they send out the invitations. (And we haven’t been disappointed yet!)

The food is always DELICIOUS. (And we’ve been a bunch of places over the years.)

And this was to keep us from starving BEFORE we got our steaks. (Talk about yum!)

 We get to visit with people we love and don’t get to see often enough. And we get to wear our Christmas sweaters. There’s never enough Christmas sweater time.

Everybody who possibly can makes it a point to be there.

Young , , ,

And not quite as young. (Except at heart.)

We have fun

Fun!

 FUN!

Food, Fun and Family. What could be better than that?


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H♥B♥D♥ KENDAL

Happy Birthday to You!

Today is Kendal Grace’s birthday. I won’t tell you how old she is, but I’ll tell you she’s beautiful, exciting, full of energy and has an adorable son and a great husband!

I’ll always remember the day before she was born.

That year, the Spess clan went to OKC to celebrate Christmas. Her mama, Sister Cindy, was very, very pregnant and spent a lot of that day in her chair. Our son, Danny, seven, was a joy. Matt was three and Brad wasn’t a year old yet.

Danny played with his cousins that day and had a great time. Baby Buggy (Brad) was easy to take care of that day, but poor Matt had a disaster. Although he had a big pile of gifts from Santa, the only “friend” he cared to take along was the same one he took everywhere.

Puppy. His stuffed Snoopy with a blue shirt that said, “Puppy Love” that he’d swiped from his Aunt Amy. Matt dragged Puppy every place we went by his ear, his tail, his leg or however he could grab him. Just as long as Puppy was by his side like some kids take a security blanket, Matt was a happy camper.

That day, Matt was playing around with the other kids and, of course, Puppy, when he pulled the dog’s nose right off.

Matt wailed so loud, you’d have thought he pulled off his brother’s nose.

Of course, Brad was having his mid-day “meal” when the emergency happened, so I had to work one-handed. Sister Cindy found us a needle but only one color of thread. While Brad nursed, I sewed on the nose (a black pom-pom type nose) with great big stitches. Great big purple stitches.

And it stayed on, just like that, until Matt outgrew his security dog. (He’s still here, in my house somewhere, with the faded purple stitches.)

We’d hoped Cindy’s baby would be born while we were at her hosue that Christmas, but it didn’t happen. Late in the afternoon, everyone–including Mom and Dad–went home.

THEN Cindy went into labor and had Kendal not too long after midnight.

And the girl has kept us entertained ever since!

Love!

That!

Girl!!!

This is Kendal a couple of years ago. Since then, she’s had a baby who’s now a very smart(!) and active two-year-old. And sweet Kendal is a thin, active and very beautiful wife and mama.

Want to read about Kendal’s wedding? Check it out here! 


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Christmas Leftovers

A Christmas tree at Santa Claus' Park. In 2005...

I hope your Christmas was everything you dreamed it would be. Mine absolutely was. All my children were home, together, at the same time. All their spouses and spouses-to-be were here. No one cried except me, and it was the good kind of crying.

And I got to see my Dad and all my sibs except #4. I heard from her, though, so the day was p-e-r-f-e-c-t!!!

I had a couple of Christmas memories I didn’t get a chance to share with you before the big day, so I thought I’d shake them out now.

Christmas trees growing up were always cedar trees. The kind that grow like weeds in this part of the world and the government will pay you to get rid of. But as kids, we didn’t know that. We thought they were beautiful.

Besides the fact they poked you if you got too close, lost their needles (I’m not sure what a cedar has in place of leaves, but I’m calling it needles) if you looked at it too hard, and couldn’t hold up an ornament that weighed more than about three ounces (spun glass and tinsel, anyone?) what’s not to love?

After all, they were green and smelled kind of wintery-outdoorsy for about a minute and a half.

So every year, Dad and Granddad would cut several cedar trees for our houses and a few of the neighbors. I always thought they were so kind to share the trees off our land with other people, and at no charge!

When I was about ten or twelve, I found out the really good part was going out to cut the trees. We’d bundle up, pile into a pickup or station wagon, drive out to the farm and walk through the woods until we came to the “perfect” tree.

The first time Dad handed me the axe, I was so surprised, I nearly dropped it. But I stepped right up and chopped that tree right down. I haven’t cut one in years, but it seems like they were very easy to cut down. I think he let #2 cut down the next tree that day.

We never did cut the bottom off and stick it in water so it wouldn’t dry out, like they say you should do if you want your tree to stay “fresh”. We put them in water, and if they wouldn’t drink we figured they weren’t thirsty.

The worst part was undecorating the tree and getting it out of the house when the holiday was over. Not only was the tree scratchy, it kind of exploded when you moved it. Remember in Christmas Story when they go to buy their tree and one leaves a perfect ring of needles?

That’s the way our cedar trees defoliated themselves after weeks in a house with dry air. Rub past it. Thrum! Bump the wall with it. Bam! Shove it through the door. Kaboom!

Clouds of dry cedar needles. They burn well, too.

Other happy (now, anyway) and favorite Christmas memories:

  • The year #4 put “makeup” on Sister Debbie’s brand new doll with an indelible ink pen.
  • Finding gifts months after Christmas that were hidden in Grandmother’s closet and forgotten by Santa.
  • The year Mom’s beautiful bracelet (from a jewelry store!) disappeared from under the tree. When we couldn’t find it, Mama asked #4 if she knew where it was. Oh, yeah! She’d hidden it in the ice cream freezer. Upside down, smashing the bow.
  • Every Christmas, dressing like Mom and my sisters in velvet dresses that Mama made. Sometimes Brother Jeffrey got a matching vest or jacket. For some reason, Dad never sported velvet. ;) (Not that we minded.)
  • When my kids were one, three and almost eight and they took turns opening presents so they could fight over every gift. (Mostly the one and three-year-old really picked on the eight-year-old.)
  • Hanging of the Greens.
  • All the Family Christmas Eves at Grandmother’s house.
  • Knowing the real Santa Claus (because he knew my boys by sight.)
  • My parents living out the true meaning of Christmas.
  • Knowing the One whose birthday we’ve celebrated for over two thousand years. (No, I don’t remember quite all those years.)
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