Published by the Rains County Leader on December 24, 2019:
As a kid, December 24th and not the 21st seemed like the longest night of the year. The day was busy with running to the store for some forgotten item, wrapping just one more package, and cooking. The house was filled with holiday smells as Mom prepared her offerings for the Christmas Eve party at Aunt Fay’s house and Christmas dinner the next day.
Later on, when Aunt Fay’s five children were older and another sister and her family moved to town, the party rotated among the three homes. But in the early days, the number of presents for their large family required opening them on Christmas Eve to make room for Santa Claus, so we always gathered there. It was almost as exciting watching the chaos at their house as it was opening our presents the next morning. By the time we made it to bed, I was so revved up with cookies, candy, and excitement that I couldn’t sleep. In looking back, and knowing how sensitive a mother’s ears are, I wonder if my restlessness kept Mom awake. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 17, 2019:
When I was a kid, December 26 was Granny Hagan’s birthday. Later on it became the day to return those what-were-you-thinking gifts and to stock up on Christmas supplies for next year. More recently I’ve heard it referred to by a specific name, especially on Facebook when greetings of “Happy Boxing Day” appear on the day after Christmas.
It turns out that Boxing Day began in Britain as a time when the rich boxed up gifts for the poor. I’m thinking it might have been a charitable way to get rid of the leftover turkey and those unsuitable gifts. It also became a day when servants were given the day off after receiving a Christmas box or gift from their employers. The servants in turn would go home and give Christmas boxes to their families.
Boxing Day isn’t widely celebrated in the U.S., but boxes certainly play a big part in the American Christmas season. Even though gift bags are probably more popular now than gift boxes, online shopping has resulted in an over-abundance of shipping cartons. And some traditionalists still like to wrap and tie bows on containers with square corners. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 4, 2018:
Kitty came to live with us in June of 2015, and a lot has changed since that mouthy little fur ball walked out from under our porch and into our hearts. She has become a big part of our lives, and she has become one of the favorite subjects for my columns, both for me as the writer and for my readers as well. I met another reader this weekend who recognized me. At least she knew my name, but she still identified me strongly with Kitty. That’s okay with me. She’s usually the more interesting of the two of us anyway.
Sunday afternoon I was going through some old files in my computer, looking for inspiration. I came across one of those nuggets writers love to find – an unfinished project that, even though it was abandoned for some reason, seems to have potential now. What I found was a paragraph I wrote about Kitty’s second Christmas with us. (more…)
Sara Beth Williams, Christian romance author with Anaiah Press, has used her marketing skills to organize several fellow authors into a special Christmas giveaway, and you readers receive the benefits. During the twelve days leading up to Christmas, Ms. Williams will feature a different author each day on her blog Live, Love, Writing. Each blog will include an opportunity to enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway to win ebooks, autographed paperbacks, gift cards, and other goodies. Check this blog daily beginning on December 13th for details and a link to each giveaway.
My day is Sunday, December 16th. My giveaway package includes a paperback copy of the first edition of my memoir, A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos. The book was written in the hopes of amusing, inspiring, and encouraging other caregivers or people who are going through a hard time. To provide the most relaxing atmosphere possible for reading, I’m also offering the following: 1) an envelope of mineral bath soak, 2) a cooling watermelon and aloe gel mask, 3) several herbal tea bags, and 4) most important of all – chocolate.
No purchase or subscription is required to enter the giveaways, but physical prizes can only be shipped to U.S. addresses. Come and join the Christmas fun.
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Published in the Rains county Leader on November 27, 2018:
It’s been a long time since I wrote a letter to Santa – in fact, I’m not sure I ever did. When the Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck Christmas catalogues arrived sometime in November, my brother and I went through them page by page with special attention to the toy sections. We marked items we wanted and passed the information on to Mom and Dad. Somehow they made sure the pertinent information reached the Jolly Old Elf because on Christmas morning one or two items appeared under the Christmas tree. (Santa wasn’t nearly as extravagant in those days, at least in our neighborhood.) Anyway, I thought a note was long overdue, if for no other reason than to say thank you for gifts of Christmases past.
How are you? I’m fine – well, not exactly fine but getting better. I’m recovering nicely from my shoulder surgery, but considering how it hurts when the weather changes, I think the doctor installed a barometer in there before he sewed me up. My knee acts up some, too – probably from a skiing incident several decades ago. It would probably feel better if I would lose a few pounds, but I’m sure you know all about that. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 19, 2017:
Many wedding ceremonies include words to the effect that “love is not a feeling, it’s a commitment.” The idea, of course, is that love is not simply the dizzying excitement of a new relationship or the warm, fuzzy feeling of a long established marriage. It’s a commitment to act in a loving manner even when you don’t feel like it. People who rely simply on loving feelings are often disillusioned when the honeymoon is over. The more Christmases I experience, the more I realize that Christmas is a lot like love –those who rely simply on the magical feelings of the season are destined for disappointment.
My husband David is a nostalgia kind of guy, and he often reminisces about the good old days, especially at this time of year. He recently lamented the fact that he can’t seem to recapture the excitement and anticipation he experienced during the Christmas season when he was younger. Unfortunately, some of the magic of those mysterious packages disappears when you know the bills will be waiting for you at the end of the month. And let’s face it, there’s not as much magic in a new sweater or even the latest book by your favorite author as there was in a shiny red bicycle or a Daisy Red Rider BB Gun. There’s still lots of magic to be found, though, if you know where to look. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 3, 2017:
I don’t make a big deal out of the holidays. Aside from a live Christmas wreath my brother and sister-in-law send us each year for our front door, David and I do very little decorating. It’s not that we don’t enjoy the lights and tinsel, but we have a small house with very little extra space for a tree – and now we have Kitty! We also don’t do a lot of shopping. Our needs are simple, and we tend to buy what we want or need as we go along, so we don’t have much of a Christmas list when December rolls around. In addition to decorating and shopping, there was a time when I spent a lot of time in the kitchen during the holidays, baking and making candy and other once-a-year treats. However, since we both deal with health concerns that are intensified by extra sugar, flour, and butter, I don’t do much of that any more either. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 13, 2016:
The children at our church presented a Christmas pageant during the worship service last Sunday morning. It was quite an elaborate production with a backdrop that portrayed Israel as it might have looked on the night Jesus was born. The children wore costumes that could be called authentic with touches of country casual and high fashion. There were wise men with jeans and cowboy boots and angels with stylish footwear – everything from chic sandals to suede boots with faux-fur trim. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on November 29, 2016:
I love music, and I especially love music at Christmas. I’m not crazy about the radio stations that begin playing the same forty Christmas songs over and over weeks before Thanksgiving. My brother thought I was a real Scrooge when, a couple of year ago, I posted on Facebook that I was very disappointed that our oldies station began playing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” on November 1. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 6, 2016:
Perhaps it’s because of my limits as a writer, or perhaps it’s the ripe old age I have reached, but I seem to begin a lot of my recent articles with some version of the phrase “When I was growing up…” Regardless of the reason, I’m using that phrase again today.
When I was growing up, we were taught not only to be gracious winners but also to be good losers. In today’s society, instead of teaching our children how to win or lose with equal grace, we have shielded them completely from the experience of losing. In the name of building self-esteem, we allow our children and grandchildren to beat us in Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, and we enroll them in sports leagues where everyone receives a trophy or where they don’t even keep score. We pass students from one grade to the next, even when they cannot do the work, and I understand that there are some schools where there are no grades at all. (more…)