The highlight of our holiday arrived during our Christmas Eve service at church.
We were all feeling a hole in our celebration because our eldest grandchild could not get off work. Christmas is a busy day at Disney World and she was in Orlando working. We were trying to accept that she was grown and this was a normal part of growing up, but we were all a bit sad. The worship service had just begun. My son-in-law was the liturgist for the evening and was preparing to read the scripture when I noticed my tall, handsome grandson walk into church. He had a girl with him. I wondered who this girl was when I recognized that it was my sweet granddaughter smiling at her brother's side. I left my place in the bell choir to hug this beautiful girl who had surprised us all and was not working at Disney World after all. When I looked up at her dad he was grinning and crying. This girl was the best present this family could receive.
It was wonderful to have my children and grandchildren together for Christmas. We enjoyed presents, food , conversation, games and laughter. In the afternoon we all enjoyed a nap and then settled in for more fun, laughter and conversation.
Tomorrow we drive to West Virginia for two days to visit with grandchild number eight. We have not seen her for many months and it will be good to see how much she has grown.
We do feel blessed with the love of our wonderful family.
This weekend I am hosting my first annual Christmas blog party. You are all invited. It's an open house potluck so do come any time. I'll be providing some delicious home made eggnog, both with and without the brown liquid flavoring, and of course my world famous gumdrop cake. You can bring whatever you think we need to make it a real party.
The tree is decorated and I have all your presents wrapped and waiting by the prettiest tree we ever did have. I bought them all at the alternate gift bazaar I recently attended.
For my kids, grandkids and my Fowler cousins I purchased a gift of sight by paying for cataract surgery and eye care for someone who would otherwise be blind. This gift is in honor of Granddad Fowler and Gramma Byrtle, who lived their last years in blindness.
I next purchased training for a village health care worker and midwife in a village where there is no health care. I am giving this to my nurse friends, Cazzie, Julie, and Rosemary. I just knew you all would like it.
Sling, I got you something special. I paid for kitchen and bathroom cabinets to be used in a Habitat for Humanity home. I doubt they will be as beautiful as the ones you can build, but they will be appreciated by a family moving into their own home. For my quilter friend ,Anne, I bought two warm blankets to keep a homeless person warm. They are not the beautiful works of art you create but they are warm.
I next bought some school supply kits to help needy children. I picked these for Lorraine and Jeannie and Tracy who work so hard to see that their kids have a good education.
Greeny, I knew this was just perfect for you. I picked garden tools and seeds to help people in the third world grow a garden so they can have good food to eat and to sell.
Middle Child, I had to think a bit before I picked your gift. Then I remembered you once said rain water was your favorite drink. For you I bought the gift of fresh, clean, safe water. You are helping people in Guatemala enjoy cool, clear water. Yolinna, thank for helping me pick out this gift.
John, I bought you a flock of chickens. I figured in your busy, full household you wouldn't mind having a bunch of chickens running around and laying eggs. Or maybe you can throw them in the back of the truck and tell a wonderful story about them. I know they will be appreciated.
I am giving Craig and Diane the gift of nutrition education and good food for the hungry to say thank you for all their work in bringing food to our tables.
Just Me, I am giving you a donation to the interfaith food pantry. It just seemed like the right gift from this Christian lady to the rabbi's wife.
Now that the gifts have been opened, enjoy another round of eggnog and enjoy the company of friends here at our blog party.
One of my favorite things is being part of the senior chorale. Almost a hundred of us old folks get together every Thursday and practice singing. I had never been a part of a singing group until I retired and I find I really love it. My fellow chorale member are a lively bunch of people who love life. We have a great time together. Our young director is quite demanding and works us hard. I think we sound pretty good when we finally get ready to perform. Our holiday program this year was all hallelujah music. All the songs were based on that wonderful word, hallelujah. It was great fun to perform before an audience of over 500 people.
I have just put the gumdrop cake in the oven. Now Christmas can come. This cake was made by my mother-in-law every Christmas and I have made it now for the past forty-seven Christmases. My daughter has been making one for the past twenty-four Christmases. It takes a little bit of time because you have to cut up two pounds of gumdrops into small pieces. It is hard because the pieces always stick together and the knife gets all sticky. The effort is worth it and the cake is part of what makes Christmas really Christmas. It looks like a fruit cake but tastes much better.
What food makes you know that Christmas is almost here?
Gumdrop Cake By Gramma Kay
1 lb. seedless raisins 2 lbs. Gumdrops – No black ones (Buy lbs. ‘cuz we always snitch) 4 cups sifted flour 1 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp. nutmeg ¼ tsp. cloves ¼ tsp. salt 2 cups sugar 2 eggs 1-cup margarine 1 cup chopped nuts 1 tsp. vanilla 1 ½ cups applesauce 1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 Tbs. hot water
Cut up gumdrops into sifted flour. Add nuts and raisins. (If you don’t mind picking them out later) Add all other ingredients
Bake in big wax paper lined pan for 2 hours on low oven (250 – 275 degrees)
I have lost my cell phone. I really don't use it a lot, but I do feel incomplete without it. What if I need to call someone? What if someone needs me? If I can't find it I will have to recreate my whole phone book. That will be hard. I do hope I find it soon.
I received this in a recent email. It contains important advice for this time of year.
1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.
8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention.
My astronomer took this picture as he left work one evening this week. He loves it when the night sky does something spectacular. Seeing the moon between Venus and Jupiter fits his idea of spectacular. He called to make sure I went outside to see this unusual sighting. It is unusual to see such bright stars in the evening sky. I was glad he made me look skyward.
According to Bob Ryan, our local TV weatherman, if you took one trillion dollar bills and stacked them end to end, they would reach from the U.S. treasury building to the planet Venus. Venus is far away. One trillion is a very big number.
Last night we completed a lovely holiday week-end with a trip to the Kennedy Center. I always enjoy attending performances there. It is such a glamorous place and it touches me with a sense of history. Last night we sat in the beautiful concert hall and listened to some outstanding music, a performance by the honors musicians in our local county schools. The band was excellent, as was the orchestra. After the intermission the elementary school honors chorus sang. In the center of the front row was my beautiful young granddaughter. The concert hall was filled with their sweet, young voices and I began to cry. My grandbaby was singing on stage in the Kennedy Center. It was a lovely moment that just overwhelmed me.
She beamed from the stage and waved to her family. Many of the big family who love her were there. Besides her grandparents, her mom and dad, her sister and brother, her dad's girlfriend, her mom's boyfriend, and her mom's boyfriend's mother came to share her moment of glory. She is loved by all of us. We are a modern American family.