Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! When I was growing up, Mama made a big deal out of it and passed that enjoyment on to her kiddos.

It’s always been my favorite time of the year, too. From our first Christmas as a family, G-Man and I’ve loved it! garyWe lived in B’ville for our first Christmas. Those are insulated coveralls, Santa brought him for riding his motorcycle. The rocking chair behind him was my present. (I still have mine, but the coveralls are long gone. LOL!)

SusanNotice the gorgeous Christmas tree. It’s a cedar, and when I was growing up, it was the REAL Christmas tree.

baby-dannyThen Baby Danny came along. (Okay, about five years later, Baby Danny came along.) That’s when the real fun at Christmas began.

Knowing how active and inquisitive Danny was, we put the tree on top of the card table, and bought all soft, knitted ornaments in case he succeeded in grabbing the tree and turning it over.

Luckily, he never did. I don’t remember what was in that present under the tree, but I still have the ornaments on my tree today, even though I don’t have to worry about him turning it over anymore. Much.

Brad-toys

This is Baby Bradley at Mama’s on Christmas morning. You know it’s Mom’s because of the red carpet. Mama loved red–because it’s the quintessential Christmas color? Could be!

When Brad was this size and I took his picture, he always looked as if I’d just caught him doing something. Can you see that innocent, “Who, me?” look? LOL!

gifts-and-tearsI laugh every time I look at this picture. We’d just moved to Pryor Creek the August before. Brad (on the right) was one and Matt (crying) was three. For some reason, the kids naturally opened their presents one at a time while the others watched. The others would then go and try to take it away from the owner.

More tears than understanding that Christmas. (And parental laughter!)

Matt-giftThose Christmas morning battles dissipated as the boys learned to enjoy their own presents, or to be sneakier about taking them from the others. 🙂

3-boysBatmen and Mickey Mouse came for Christmas one year, and everyone had a great time.

Don’t you love the look on all their faces? Danny’s thinking, “How soon can I go back to bed?”

Matt’s just giddy with the happiness of  celebrating the season.

And Brad is thinking, “I’ll bet I can swipe those other gifts and put them back before anyone finds out.”

We’re back where we started now. All the boys have wives, homes, and (furry) children of their own. But Christmas is still the most wonderful time of the year.

I think I’ll go paint something red. 🙂

 

 

 

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Christmas in Heaven

This is a repeat from last year, with a few changes. 😉 I hope you’ll enjoy it.

another-merry-christmas

I started to repost this on Facebook yesterday. At Christmas, I like remembering friends and loved ones who’ve passed.

But when I really looked at that picture and read the words, it sounds almost as if my loved ones were gone. Over.

That’s not true. Those who’ve gone on are in HEAVEN! (No doubt about that.) They’re with the Jesus, face to face!

Can you imagine the celebration There when it’s Jesus’s birthday? The joy, happiness, the atmosphere of pure love that happens when they celebrate The Day the creator of the universe and everything in it became a helpless human child, so that thirty odd years later he could take our sins?

Try to imagine the colors. The songs. The absolute explosion of joy that inundates everyone during the celebration!

In my imagination, when the heavenly choirs sing, their music is visible,  colored light, like rainbows and sparkling stars. But that’s my weirdness showing there. LOL!

Christmas was Mom’s favorite holiday. She loved it, worked HARD to make it special for me, my siblings and my kids.

One year she made our picture window look like stained glass by coloring a giant picture and doing somthing to it (seems like baby oil was rubbed on it, but I was just little, so I’m not sure) to make it transparent.

And because there was no Internet, she drove to Tulsa day after day, Christmas shopping for all her loved ones. I remember many nights when she’d come in, exhausted from being over there and going from store to store, not only for our family’s gifts, but for Grandmother’s, too, since Grandmother didn’t drive.

Nope. I can’t just light a candle to remember her at Christmas. I’d have to set off an entire pyrotechnic display!


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A Day That Will Live

cropped-merry-ornament.jpgA long, long time ago in a land far, far away (at least it seems that way now) I had a very good friend named Mary. (Yes, that’s her real name.)  Mary was dating a guy she really liked (a bunch!) and he had a friend she thought I’d like.

“Want me to fix you up?”

No. No! I don’t like blind dates. I had one once, and he turned out to be a kindergartener.

But she assured me that this guy not only wasn’t a kindergartener, he’d finished college and had a real job.

Ooookay. Let’s do it! (I tried not to act too thrilled, but she probably noticed how excited I was when I didn’t stop jumping up and down.)

Now I’d had a few less than stellar dates in my time. I had one where the guy took me to Denny’s, looked at the menu and said, “I had no idea it would be this expensive!” so we got up and left.

Another guy took me out and asked me to marry him on the first date. (Uh, no. But thanks.)

And yet another guy, who had a key chain with a girl’s name on it. When I asked who Tara was (not really her name) he said, “Have I been talking about her a lot? We just broke up . . . ”

See ya.

Anyway, I knew better than to place any big expectations on this date. But at least I figured I’d be safe, since my friend, Mary, and her guy, Sam, would be with us.

December 7th, a day that will live in infamy. It was cold and windy night (for real) and I was running late. (As usual.) My apartment had only one door and it was a sliding glass patio-type door. When G-Man and his buddy got there, I didn’t have my dress on yet, so I couldn’t even invite them in.

“Hurry up! It’s cold out here.” Sigh.

I hurried, so they didn’t turn into a pair of popsicles They were just a little blue from the cold when I let them in. As soon as the ice melted off their noses and ears, we bundled up and went to pick up Mary.

I remember that Christmas season as one of the best in my memory. Why? Probably because I didn’t have a lot of stress over gifts or decorating, and I wasn’t responsible for making anyone else’s Christmas “perfect.” (And I didn’t have a kid pointing to someone else’s gifts and saying, “I didn’t get as much as him.)

All I had was a really nice guy to talk to, spend time with, get to know, and fall in love with. Great way to spend Christmas, if you ask me. 🙂

We were married five months and twelve days later.

Pretty nice Christmas present Mary gave me, wasn’t it?


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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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Keep the One

Even Santa knows that Jesus IS the reason for the season.

Even Santa knows that Jesus IS the reason for the season.

I posted this last year on Christmas Eve. A friend asked me to repost today.

Enjoy . . .

A woman was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable, and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids.

She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the   year—overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, get that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, make sure we don’t forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.

Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd in the car. She pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn’t take it anymore and stated, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot.”

From the back of the car everyone heard a quiet, calm voice respond, “Don’t worry. We already crucified him.”    

For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Don’t forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did it, just think how different this whole world would be.

Celebrating The Reason For The Season, all year ’round!