Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Christmas is Coming (and there’s nothing we can do about it.)

How’s your December going? Everything on schedule? All decorated and wrapped, just waiting for the big guy to make his appearance?

Is anybody out there waving your hand, yelling, “Me! Me! Me!”? If so, come on over to my house.

I need help.

(Big surprise.) (Not.) 😀

One thing I am staying on top of is my daily reading, “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. I have to fight myself to keep from reading ahead.

If I ever met this woman, I’ll have to give her a big hug.

I do have one tree up and decorated. It’s the wild tree with ornaments from friends and from my kiddos when they were small and ones I’ve made and they’ve made. It’s my favorite tree.

My other tree is also my favorite tree. It has Grandmother’s ornaments on it. And some antique ornaments I’ve collected. I can’t share it with you today because it’s not up yet.

I will share some of my ornaments from my Everything Tree. They aren’t my favorites, because I don’t have favorites. Trying to chose the one I like best would be like trying to choose the friend I liked best. Or my favorite Bible verse. I just can’t do it.

But I can share some with you.

treeThis one was made by a friend.


A can lid, turned into a beautiful tree by one of my kiddos. (Trash to Treasure. A miracle of Christmas.)


Another treasure, made by one of my kiddos.


Dirty Santa ornament exchange with my writing sisters. I love, love, love these.


Three of my best gifts ever–Danny, Matt and Brad.


A friend was taking a stained glass class the year I got this one. It’s too heavy for a “real” tree, so I had to start buying fake ones just so it could be on it. 😀


From my secret sister once, years and years ago. That friend was a sweetheart and I miss her terribly.


I bought this bunch of unbreakable ornaments the year Danny was 11 months old on Christmas. The still give me a smile.

I have OSU ornaments from when my boys were in college, a dog and cat ornament because we’re pet people, and lots of stars. I love stars. They’re a great reminder. Read Philippians 2:15 and see if you can guess just one of the reasons why. Of course, you’ll need to read it in the New International Version to see what I’m talking about. 😉

My absolute favorite thing at Christmas? The best gift. The best feeling. The best anything?

There's only one gift better than this.

There’s only one gift better than this.


The gift of salvation.

Any hints for getting everything done, finished, baked, wrapped and gorgeous before Dec. 24th? I need all the help I can get!





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!


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.


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. 🙂


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?


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!


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?


Christmas’s Last Leg

A postcard from 1919, with artwork of Santa Cl...

Image via Wikipedia

Last night was the final leg of Christmas–our celebration with Dad and sibs. Oh, and spouses, kids and their spouses and kids were there, too. Some of them at least.

As usual, we gathered at Sister Debbie’s house. Debbie is the consummate hostess. Her house is decorated as if she were Mrs. Claus and the food was fantastic.

#4 wasn’t able to be there. (She lives in a far away land.) I sent her pictures and love during the celebration so she could still be part of things.

Our entertainment was so much fun. During the first part of the evening, Sister Debbie’s younger granddaughter watched us all dance as we tried to make her smile. She was just a little bit tired from all the Christmas fun she’d had, and since she isn’t a year old yet, it’s understandable she might get a little bit pooped out.

A cookie similar to "Gingerbread Man"...

Image via Wikipedia

And later Sister Cindy’s older grandson danced for us. (He turned a year old on the day I celebrated a year of pain free walking.) The child is full of personality and joy, and he even climbed on my lap for a moment or two.

We played Dirty Santa for ornaments, and like a dummy, I was the only one who actually made her own ornament to take.

The first one I made was this–

I knitted it from a show I watch on TV called Knitty Gritty. It’s one of my favorite shows, but they aren’t making any new segments. I watch the reruns faithfully and hope they’ll start making new ones. 

When I finished making the flower, it curled and flopped, so I wired the petals–not ideal if people are going to be handling it. (The poinsettia on TV was stiffer because they made it from wool and then washed it to turn it into a fabric. I didn’t do that.)

Rather than chance having someone get poked by the poinsettia, I decided to make another ornament. 

SD had mentioned taking ornaments that represent us, so I took a clear ball and put in lavender I’d dried last summer (because I’m a gardener) and “yarn”, which was really cross-stitch thread (because I’m a snitter) and a little snow (because I love snow) and a few sparkles just for the heck of it.

I don’t know that my niece who won it was thrilled, but it was fun to make. I tried one with miniature jingle bells, but the glass is so fragile on those clear ornaments that anything that heavy will break out the side. Or you have to not shake them, and who can hold an ornament with stuff inside and not shake it?

So this is what the one I took looks like–

I stole a good sized, sparkly gingerbread man from one of my BILs. When he pulled him out of the bag, Jeffrey put on his falsetto voice. “Don’t eat my gum drop buttons!” A line from one of the Shrek movies.

That’s another game we played last night. Actually, it’s more of an ongoing thing. We do movie quotes that go along with the action. (“Hello movie house!”) and the others try to guess the movie.

Funny thing is, my kids do the same thing and make it harder by throwing in a TV show along the way. Great fun if you watch the same stuff; a little tougher if you don’t.

The Dirty Santa big hit with the babies was a dancing snowman with a flashing nose that sang a song no one recognized. Brother Jeffrey ended up with an ornament that was a pair of six shooters (perfect!) and Sister Debbie got “Mine’s bigger than yours is.”

Did we have fun? Yes!

Would I change a thing? Only to get others there who weren’t able to make it.

If at all possible, will we do the same thing next year?   What do you think? 😉


The Grandmother Tree

See anything weird about my tree? (Besides the fact that there are no ornaments on the top where I can’t reach.)

No, it’s not a squirrel. Look again.

You can tell now. Right?

Now you can’t mistake what’s weird. Those are gloves, and I hang them on my tree every year.

All right, maybe it’s not weird weird, but it’s kind of different. Here’s why I do it. My family of five used to live in Grandmother’s house, with all of Grandmother’s stuff and most of our stuff. It was just a little(!) crowded, but we were looking for a house of our own. We didn’t expect to stay long.

While we lived there, I found a box full of Grandmother’s gloves from the ’50s and ’60s, which she’d saved, along with just about everything else she ever owned. (If you look up the definition of my maiden name, I think you’ll find it means never-throws-anything-away.)

When we moved to our own house, I took Grandmother’s gloves with me along with her old ornaments. (Yeah, I got the keep-it gene, too.) A year or two later, G-Man and I spent the weekend in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and we found an antique store that had a lot of old ornaments. We bought them, then had to buy a new tree to put them on. (I didn’t want to mix them with my other ornaments.)

I have a tall ceiling in my living room, so we bought a big, fat tree. When I put on the old ornaments, it was a little sparse. I didn’t want to add new ornaments, didn’t want to add bows, so I decided to add the gloves. (I tacked them together at the wrist so I could hang them from branches.)

I also put hankies on the tree, but they don’t drape as well.

   This is one of Grandmother’s old ornaments. I’m not sure what year she bought them, but they’re plastic so they can’t be too old.

So’s this one–

Looks like Sputnik, doesn’t it? 😉

This isn’t one of Grandmother’s. I bought Merry Christmas because Mom had one like it when I was small. It was my favorite and I always wanted to be the one to put it on the tree.

Now I get to be the one to do it every year. *sniff*

Until Grandmother passed away, she had a huge family party on Christmas Eve for all her kids, grand- and great-grandkids (and anyone else we dragged along.) 

We’d all dress up in our crisp new Christmas clothes and go to their house (next door to my parents) to spend non-working time together and gain weight (she and her offsprings and their wives were all great bakers and candy makers.)

Each family took the Grandmother and Grandad a gift, and for years, Grandmother bought and wrapped a gift for each person in her big family. Later, she gave the adults and any kids she knew wouldn’t keep what she picked for them anyway money, and asked the other kids’ parents to help her shop for their own children.

At the party, she stayed busy the whole night in the kitchen while Grandad swore to any kid who’d listen that he had Santa tied up in the powerhouse. We had so much fun!

Those were beautiful, easy days with very few worries. Thinking about them never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

I have a lot of great Christmas memories, so I can’t say this is my absolute  favorite, but putting up my Grandmother Tree each year helps me keep it fresh.

How about you? Do you like shiny and new and latest or do you keep it and use it forever? In other words, patina or shine?

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Christmas Celebrations

We have a fantastic store here in C-Town called Celebrations where you can get anything wonderful you really need. They have fresh flowers, plants, gifts, edible stuff (like dips) gifts, apple cider mix, dishes, Christmas ornaments, Christmas candles, Christmas gifts and poinsettia.

All the truly important stuff.

And very friendly sales people who a helpful and even wrap for you. And like doing it! (My sister works there. Can you tell?)

Did I mention they have gifts? Adorable gifts. The kind of thing you’d like to get if you were receiving instead of giving.

(No. They don’t know I’m writing this.)

And Christmas ornaments.

I bought these there a few years ago. Aren’t they adorable? (They turned up when I cleaned my office last weekend–probably the first time since I bought them. Cool, huh?)

But Celebrations was awful. After what they did, I probably won’t be able to eat a bite. (Or else I’ll eat all of C-Town.)

I just know all my hair will fall out! I might even chew my nails to the quick. (If I had nails, I’m sure I would.)

I won’t be able to sleep a wink until New Years.

So what was the nasty thing Celebrations did?







They posted this on Facebook–

“Not to panic you or anything, but we are just a little more than TWO weeks till  Christmas? Do you have all your shopping done?”

The answer is no. I don’t. I’ve only bought one gift.

In case you read this, Celebration Ladies, I love you more than my shoes (ornaments)! 🙂 

 BTW: In case you’re wondering, I “borrowed” some of these pictures off their fan page on FACEBOOK. Hope that’s okay. 🙂