Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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?


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



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


Happy Halloween!

Minnie Mouse in Mickey Mouse Works (1999)

Image via Wikipedia

Do you remember Halloween when you were a kid?

We used to wear our costumes to school and have parties to celebrate the fun day.

I tried to think of the earliest Halloween I could. It was when we lived in The Ford, way back in the day. I remember a party we had at my grandparents’ house when we all wore costumes, but I probably only remember that because of the picture of me and all my cousins in costumes. (It had to be a big picture to get all those cousins in.) 

The first one I remember for sure is the one right after we moved to C-Town. Sister Debbie and I were so excited to go trick-or-treating in our new Small Town World. And the best part was, our friends, Janie and Sally, were coming to trick-or-treat with us.

We got dressed and waited for them. It seemed as if they were never going to get there, so Mom let us go next door to trick-or-treat our neighbors, Tom and Jane.

Debbie dressed up as Minnie Mouse, with official (Minnie Mouse ears and everything!) and I dressed up as a witch. (My kids would tell you that was prophetic. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!) We took our t-0r-t bags and trailed up the small hill to the neighbors and rang the bell.

Tom was tall and slender with only a small rim of hair on his head. It seems he always had a funny tale to tell, and even if he wasn’t telling something funny, he had laughter in his voice, just saying hello. And Jane was one of the sweetest women I’d ever met. (Most women were sweet back then, come to think of it.)

They took us inside, took our pictures, talked to us a little, then let us choose something for our treat bags. I don’t really remember the treat. I do remember that they made us glad we rang their doorbell.

We wandered back home to watch out our big picture window while we waited for Janie and Sally. Finally, their car pulled up in front of our house. Then another car pulled up behind them. And another, and another, until a whole line of cars was there.

Mom and Dad’s friends from The Ford had come to C-Town to give them a surprise house-warming. Our new house, which had been empty and lonely just a few days before when we moved in, was filled with warmth and light because the great people from The Ford took their Halloween night to share their love with us.

I don’t remember if there was anything to eat or gifts, but I remember a bunch of people in our house and being very glad that C-Town really wasn’t that far from home at all.

Did you trick-or-treat as a kid? What’s the earliest Halloween you remember?


Christmas Play

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

Image via Wikipedia

One of the things I miss most about Christmases Past is Christmas programs. Not the actual program itself, so much, but getting ready for it. Practicing parts, trying on costumes, deciding what kind of makeup will be worn are all part of the excitement that makes the experience so wonderful.

Because my kids are pretty much grown, I don’t get to work with them for programs anymore. I enjoyed that almost as much as I liked being in programs myself.

One year I was a ballerina doll, left by Santa under the tree. Smart teacher. She had me dance, but not talk. LOL! 

One of my favorite years was way back in the dark ages when I was in 6th grade (it was grade school then, not middle school). Back when we still read the Bible and prayed in school.

Our music teacher’s name was Miss Thelma. She said she’d started teaching at such a young age, she couldn’t bear to be called Miss Allen, so she had permission from the principal to be called Miss Thelma, and it stuck. We thought she was about 302 years old with her gray hair, no makeup and a glass eye. (Really a glass eye?I don’t know, but that’s what all the kids whispered.)

Anyway, that year we presented the Christmas Story. The reason for Christmas Christmas Story, not the movie on where the kid gets the BB gun. (I like the Red-Ryder-BB-gun-with-a-compass-in-the-stock-and-this-thing-which-tells-time one, too, but it’s not the one I’m talking about. We’ll talk about it another day.)

Back in the day you could depict the birth of Christ in public school without anyone even thinking about complaining.  

So we were getting ready to do the play, and I was hoping for a “big” part. Mary, maybe, since that and angels were the only parts for girls. (Unless you count the animals, and I don’t think Miss Thelma asked any of us to be sheep.)

I didn’t get to  be Mary or the angel. (I don’t remember ever being either one.) I was asked to be the narrator. Okay, I wasn’t asked. I was told I’d be the narrator, and that I’d have to memorize Luke 2.

I was so excited, and scared to death. What if I couldn’t memorize twenty whole verses? I didn’t want everyone laughing at me, so I worked hard that night and memorized–

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

I stood in the corner of the stage, putting some emotion into those twenty verses, talking and pausing as the other kids acted out the story like a silent movie.

Marsha Williams, a beautiful girl with dark hair and dark eyes, got to be Mary. She walked in slowly with Joseph, and sat holding a doll wrapped in swaddling clothes. 

Mary Fox, a pretty blond with long, smooth hair, was the head angel in charge. She stepped onto the stage, wearing sparkling wings and shining with glory to hold up one hand at the shepherds. Then all the angels came on stage and sang–

♪ ♫ While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground, the angels of the Lord came down and glory showed around. And Glory showed around.♪♫

We had three wise men (I’m not sure they’re mentioned in this passage, but we sang to them anyway.) ♫♪ We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we travelers afar.♫♪

It was the normal Christmas stuff, but I loved it. I think the other kids did, too.

Two of my sisters were in a Christmas musical when they were in first and third grade. #3 and #4 sang and danced and entertained the audience with a beautiful show! I didn’t get to see it, but I heard about it for months. (Or it might have been years. LOL)

I wish I had a picture of them that I could share with you. (I’ll see if I can find one.)

My own kids were in several Christmas plays. I loved helping them memorize their parts!

This is my oldest son in a play called, “Oh, My Stars, It’s Christmas!” (I always thought the title sounded like a mom with amnesia who suddenly came to on Dec. 25th, but that really wasn’t what it was about.)

 I sent him this picture and asked if he remembered it. He said he must have blocked the memory for some reason.

Funny thing is, I don’t remember much about it, either. It might have been the year his younger brother, Matt, was born. I’d had two miscarriages and got pregnant with Matt (#2 son) in a year. Matt was born the next October.

If I’m remembering it right, my mother took care of getting Danny to the practices, making his costume and etc. No matter what else was going on, she wanted to be sure he got to participate in the program.

As an adult, Christmas programs are usually cantatas. I’m usually invited to sing with the choir, but this year I didn’t make it. I’m so disappointed in myself that I didn’t join, because the benefit is always mine.

Did you like being in Christmas programs when you were a kid? What was your favorite part?