Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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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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Hole-In-The-Wall Gang

Do you have favorite Christmas memories you revisit every year? I do. And I like to pretend I’m normal, so I think you probably do, too. 🙂

Sometimes the ones that give us the biggest smiles are the ones that were so awful at the time. Such as when we got the new wagon from Santa.

I don’t remember if it was a Spess Kids present or specifically Brother Jeffrey’s gift. (We never paid a lot of attention to that kind of thing–share and share alike is what Mama enforced.) I remember all five of us getting in that wagon so Dad could take a picture.

The wagon wasn’t red like a normal wagon. It was blue or aqua. And we couldn’t play with it in the street, of course, so we were instructed we’d have to keep it on the sidewalks and driveways when cars weren’t parked there. Since Grandmother and Granddad lived next door and we had a connecting sidewalk, that wasn’t such a bad deal.

Anyway, it was a cold Christmas Day and all our aunts, uncles and cousins were at Grandmother’s for Christmas dinner. With a crowd that size Dad had two brothers and one sister, two of which had four kids at that time, and while one had five. With Dad’s five-at-that-time, you get a number close to thirty, which it a little crowded, no matter how big the kitchen and living room is.

So when we asked Mom if it was okay to go next door to our house and play, she let us go. We showed off our loot and played with it for a little while. I went to do something else, and when I came back, Sister Debbie and Joanie were taking turns, pushing each other through the house in the wagon. One pushed, one rode and steered, then they swapped places.

They had a great time because we had a huge living room with a wood floor–an excellent runway for the blue missile. You had to do some quick stepping if you started through the living room at the wrong time!

Whenever Joanie did something, she went at it hard, and pushing the wagon that day was no exception. She pushed it right into the wall.

Of course, it went through the sheet rock and left a hole the size of a grapefruit, which was not a pretty sight. So Sister Debbie and Joanie decided to hide it. They shoved the big, brown chair up against that wall, and rushed back to Grandmother’s to play.

Since I wasn’t part of the hole-in-the-wall-gang, I didn’t feel it was my place to rat them out, but my stomach hurt the rest of the afternoon because of it.

Now we had a sharp pair of parents, who didn’t miss much. When the family left Grandmother’s and Mom and Dad came home, they immediately noticed the chair in the wrong place.

Mom shoved it back where it belonged. I can hear her now. “Oh, my stars! What happened to the wall?”

Sister Debbie didn’t get spanked, if I remember right, but Dad could make you feel awful when he scolded you. “Your mom works so hard, keeping this house nice. Now you’ve made a hole right inside the front door. It looks awful. Do you know–?”

The wagon was moved outside and never came back in again.

So, what Christmas memories do you enjoy? Want to share one or two?

Ps: Deb–feel free to correct any mistake I made in this telling. 🙂


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The Reason

I finally got one of our Christmas trees decorated. It’s the tree I put the kitchen sink on.

You know what I mean. This is the one with ornaments friends have given me, kids made me, ones that weren’t really ornaments but I hang them on the tree anyway.

Oh, wait. I have those on both my trees. 😉

Anyway, when I’m decorating this tree (it takes over one end of the family room) I do a lot of praying. I pray for my kids and their spouses as I hang the ornaments that have pictures of them as kids and the ones they made me when they were little.

I have a bell that one of my friends gave everyone at her wedding several years ago that hangs there, so I pray for her, her husband and her two kids.

Gorgeous ornaments I’ve scored playing Dirty Santa at the RWI party each year give me several spunky ladies to pray for. (And sometimes I pray for the ones I stole them from. 🙂 )

I have one from a very special secret sister who passed away the week before my youngest son was born, so I pray for her family when I put it on the tree.

I pray for G-Man when I hang something from a package he gave me, and I pray for my walking buddy when I hang Santa’s underwear. (She swiped them from him.)

I have a sparkly N’awlins mask my friend Marilyn made me one year, so she gets prayed over.

And I have a gorgeous hand made ornament my friend who went through hip replacement before I did. She was so encouraging to me, she gets a pile of “bless hers”.

I have a beautiful dove Sweet Shirley made everyone in the office. Blessings on her, too.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t stop, get on my knees and spend hours praying for each of these people. I just ask the Lord to bless them as I work. And I think about the joy they’ve given me over the years. (And years and, in come cases, YEARS!)

And since no one volunteers to help me put the ornaments on the tree (or take them off) I have lots of quiet time to pray.

He’s the one I should be talking to when I decorate my tree, anyway, right?

After all, He’s the Reason for the Season.


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Is There a Santa?

I’ve heard about this all my life. And thanks to Terri, my friend on FaceBook, I finally get to see it. (Thanks Terri!)

All I can say is, Virginia thought ahead! (Only September and she’s talking Santa? Whoa!) Anyway, read on!

This little girl lived with being “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” for the rest of her life. Wonder how that affected her?


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Sisters, Sisters

♪ There were never more devoted sisters . . . ♫

It’s a song. Remember? In the movie, “White Christmas?”

 Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen

If that doesn’t bring it back for you, watch this:

http://youtu.be/xG5MT3sCKBg

ANYWAY, two of my sisters spent their weekend trying to make me jealous. (Imagine that!)

First, one invited me to go with her to Colorado. I LOVE Colorado. Summer, winter, spring or fall, I think Colorado is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

So when I couldn’t go with her, she taunted me by sending me this–

 That’s Breckenridge Ski Resort. Can you imagine a sister so mean, she’d send you a picture like that? 😦

Or this?

This is #4 actually standing in Christmas Central–aka Breckenridge. You can just see the meaness sticking out all over her, can’t you? 😉 There she is, all Christmasy and happy.

I’ll bet Santa came by and gave her a big hug the next moment. (Can’t blame him, can you.)

And if you think #4 likes to torture me, wait till you see what Sister Debbie did.

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First Christmases

A Christmas tree in the United States.

I’m not talking about the FIRST first Christmas. I’m talking about my first Christmases.

When I was a kid, Santa came on Christmas morning, and didn’t wrap the presents. So when we got out of bed, our presents were out there!

In G-Man’s family, on the other hand, Santa came on Christmas Eve, and wrapped his presents.

This was when we lived in Bartlesville in a tiny little house. It’s a real Christmas tree–CEDAR.

 Here’s G-Man, wearing his gift from me. (He had a 750 Gold Wing and I wanted him to stay warm while he rode it.) He bought me that rocking chair behind him. It’s still in my living room. 🙂 I don’t know where his insulated coveralls are. LOL.

When we had kids, we had to compromise. Santa came on Christmas morning, but he wrapped his gifts.

More work for Mom. 😦

Our first Christmas with children was when we lived out at Silver Creek Ranch. I ran the dress shop (Four Seasons) and G-Man did what he does when he’s not in a pharmacy. Our tree was a REAL Christmas tree, which means it was a CEDAR. It was small enough to put on top of a card table in the kitchen, so #1 couldn’t reach it. And I bought all unbreakable ornaments in case he did reach it, nothing would break.

Somewhere I have a picture of him trying to reach the tree. 🙂 Of course.

This is Matt’s first Christmas, and Danny’s 4th. I’m not sure if Danny didn’t like to get his hair cut or if I didn’t like wrestling him into the barber chair, but he looks like a little hippie boy here.

A couple of years later, we had another first Christmas.

As you can see, Baby Bradley is disgusted, Middle boy Matt is kind of uncertain, but Big Boy Danny is a happy camper with his mouth full of candy. My kids always knew when they were around the “real” Santa because he knew them by name.

Amazing what a true saint can do! And this Santa was a true saint.

After all the boy’s first Christmases, we had the other kind of first Christmas. First Christmases with wives.

And they’ve come in order. Danny and his wife, China, first.

This year, we’ll have Matt and his wife, Nikki.

Next year, it’ll be Bradley and his wife, Nicole.

At least I have everyone’s stockings ready to fill.