Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Sputniks on my Tree

I’ve almost finished decorating for Christmas! (Woohoo!) Unlike other people in my life who have their homes decorated well before Thanksgiving, I’m a little slow. (Yeah, the phrase ‘a little slow’ is relative. Kind of like being a ‘little pregnant.’)

One of the reasons I’m so slow is that I really enjoy my ornaments. I like looking at them, remembering where they came from, praying for the people who gave them to me (or were with me when I bought them.)

Most of them aren’t just things I bought in a store; they have great memories attached to them.

And I like the really old ones best!

7-ornament

When I found this bell, mixed in with a lot of junk ornaments, I knew I had to keep it. It was part of the pharmacy’s decorations when we bought the store in Pryor Creek.

2-ornament

I bought this bell in a group of six or so when I thought #1 Son was old enough, and the tree tall enough, that it would be safe. This is the only one left. 🙂

1-ornament

I fell in love with this guy the moment I saw him. His big red bow and the heart that he keeps right out there make me smile.

4-ornamentThis is a new Christmas Carousel, but it’s exactly like the one Mama bought me when I was little bitty. I love it, just because of the feeling that comes back when the angels fly around it and make the bells go ting, ting, ting. Remember those?

11-ornament

These were Grandmother’s from the ’50’s. I fell in love with them, so they’re mine now. (They’re plastic, too!)

5-ornamentThese were her sputnik ornaments. (Except the sparkly ones at the bottom.) Aren’t they great? I can’t imagine her liking these as much as I do. I think I enjoy them so much because they were hers.

6-ornament Most of these I’ve bought at antique stores. They’re so different from the ones you buy today. Not at all perfect. Just homey and old and faded. Perfect.

10-ornamentA blue Merry Christmas. So sweet!

9-ornament

Hand painted poinsettia. Don’t you love it? (I do.)

3-ornamentThis is a new picture I bought this year. It might not be something that’s always be on my walls at Christmas, but the sentiment is exactly right. If there wasn’t one gift under my tree, as long as my family is together and happy, that’s the best present of all!

BTW: I have four trees this year. (That’s right, #4. Don’t you love it?) The one with Grandmother’s ornaments, her gloves, and my antique ornaments, a white feather tree, covered with candy canes, my family room tree–covered with family pictures and homemade ornaments–and my kitchen tree, with kitchen paraphernalia I’ve collected for a lifetime.

Now that I have almost all of it out, it’s almost time to put it all back.

Next year, someone remind me to get started a lot earlier! (Then, come and help me decorate!!!)

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite ornament(s) on your tree?

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Names of Jesus

cropped-merry-stars.jpgKnow whose birthday is coming up in a little over a week? 🙂

Those are some of His names in my header. I decided to do that because I read of a woman who made wire Christmas ornaments of some of Jesus’s names. She thought it was important for her kids that He have a presence on their Christmas tree, and now she has them for sale. You can see them here.

But I’d seen a beautiful “sign” at Thanksgiving, and thought I’d like to do that with Jesus’s names. (Those little ornaments would get lost on my tree full of pictures and bling.) So I started trying to figure out how to make one of those signs.

I planned to finish it in 8 1/2 X 11, print it out and either frame it or Modge Podge it on a board. But seeing that Christmas is just a little over a week away, I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not.

Do you know what happens when you start doing something like this sign with the names of Jesus? His names start standing up and making themselves known.

There’s one. There’s another one. Oh! Look, there’s another one.

I wish I could tell you my favorite of them. One moment I think it’s “I Am,” next I think it’s, “Lover of My Soul,” or “Lamb of God” who was sacrifice for my sins. Or maybe it’s “Immanuel, God with Us.”

God With Us. I love that.

But my favorite? I don’t know.

How about you?


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A Nightmare for Christmas

Christmas in the post-War United States

There’s something that terrifies me, and I have nightmares about it every Christmas.

It stems from my childhood, back when I was tender and vulnerable. Back when things impressed me and made a big difference in my life.

I think I’ve mentioned that I have four sisters and a brother. Each Christmas, Mama turned herself inside out, doing her best to figure out what we really wanted for Christmas. (I might have said I wanted ice skates, but with not so cold weather and no place to skate, she knew I wouldn’t be happy.)

So she’d shop from can’t see to can’t see, getting just the right gifts for all of us.

On Christmas morning, we’d rush to the living room to see what we had under the tree.

This particular Christmas morning, we all looked at our gifts and were giddy with joy. All of us, except one.

Now if you know my sibs, you know we’re very individual people. Debbie’s sweet and loves to have people at her house, Jeffrey’s a caretaker/outdoorsman, Lisa’s a ton of fun, I’m weird, Omega’s a baby (well, she’s THE baby, anyway) and Cindy is quiet, plays well with others. (Well, we all play well with others, but she doesn’t a really good job of it.)

I don’t remember what I got that holiday morning or what any of the others got. I only remember Cindy’s response.

When we’d all finished and were admiring our take, Mom noticed Cindy was crying. When she asked what was wrong, Cindy answered.

Her answer is the stuff nightmares are made of . . . for me, anyway. She said, “I didn’t get anything I wanted for Christmas.”

AAAAACK!

Mama was devastated. I was devastated for her. In fact, I think the entire family nearly bawled when Cindy said those eight words. The very next day, though, Mama made up for it. She took Cindy to Tulsa and let her pick out just exactly what she wanted.

She got to keep all the gifts she’d been given that she didn’t want, and get new ones, too. (Maybe that’s when the rest of us bawled.)

So a few days before Christmas, I’ve always worried that come Christmas morning, when we’re all sitting around the tree unwrapping the presents I’ve so lovingly wrapped, I’d hear those horrible words.

I don’t think I could handle it.

Do you have a nightmare for Christmas?

 

 

 


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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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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)