Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Traditions.....

Growing up as a young girl in northern Minnesota, Christmas was always a favorite time of year. No school, no homework (not much anyway), shopping, fun with friends, Christmas baking, playing in the snow, special programs at church, trudging through knee-deep snow to find a Christmas tree, decorating the tree, listening to Christmas music... The list could go on endlessly.

But perhaps my absolute favorite memory about the Christmas season is a tradition that started many years ago. On Christmas Eve, my Mom, sisters, and I would go to the Christmas Eve service at church. After the last song was sung, we would rush to pick my Dad up from work, where "neither snow nor rain, not heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." In other words, because he worked at the Post Office, my dad usually worked Christmas Eve to deliver last minute cards and greetings.

Once Dad got off work, we would travel thirty miles over the river and through the woods to my Grandma and Grandpa Kading's house. We would hurry inside their cozy one-room cabin, and after a few hugs all around, the crackling fireplace beckoned us to enjoy her warmth, as sweet aromas filled the air, leaving our mouths watering in anticipation of a delicious meal. Our eyes adjusted while a small kerosene lantern glowed on the table, providing just enough light to create a wonderful ambiance.

At last it was time for dinner! Our whole family enjoyed close fellowship around the small dining room table as we laid our eyes on a wonderful feast! Our traditional Christmas Eve meal included ham on bun, potato salad, cranberries (Grandma usually had both kinds, since us girls were picky and only liked the ones from the can!), frog eye salad (it's not gross like it's name implies), lime jello with pears, cottage cheese, carrots, pickles, and probably something else that escapes my mind at the moment. After the delicious main course, the best part was yet to come. PIE!! As if one kind of pie weren't enough, how could you possibly choose between three different kinds? So, we usually sampled all of them. Pumpkin pie (Dad's favorite), apple pie, and filled cherry pie (Grandpa's favorite). And what piece of pie would be complete without a little rather large glob of real whipped cream, not Cool Whip, the whipped cream wanna-be. When our stomachs could hold no more, we'd get the kitchen cleaned up as quickly as our food-laden bodies would allow.

By this time, my sisters and I were nearly bursting with excitement. Either that, or it could have been the yummy food still in our stomachs. It was finally time to open gifts. Mom and Dad would usually bring one gift for each of us, and of course there were gifts from our grandparents. They would look on with enjoyment as my sisters and I rewarded them with shrieks of delight as we discovered our treasures! One Christmas in particular stands out to me. Or rather it's one gift that stands out. The details are slightly fuzzy, but I do remember playing with my new Tiny Tears doll under the dining room table. This was usually our place of choice for playing, probably due to the lack of room with all our gifts strewn about. Somehow my sisters and I felt like we were in our own little world, and imaginations would run wild as we played "house."

After an evening of extreme excitement and fabulous food, we would begin our journey home. Our loot would be carefully packed into the car and the rounds of hugs and kisses would begin. Before we left, Grandma would hand Becky, Erin, and me an individually-wrapped gingerbread man. I remember we usually didn't eat these for a couple weeks because they were special cookies.

In my memory, it was always snowing on those Christmas Eve nights when we left Grandma and Grandpa's house. The frosty night air would instantly chill our bodies, but out in the woods where my grandparents lived, one of my favorite things to do was gaze up at the beautiful night sky. In the stillness and intense blackness, the stars seemed to twinkle a little brighter than they did at home. An occasional tree would crack as it swayed in the wind, and often you could hear forest creatures utter their goodnight to their neighbors. Not wanting the Arctic temperatures to completely freeze us, we would quickly load into the car, with us three girls huddled together in the back seat. With stuffed tummies and hearts full of love, we would usually fall asleep only a couple miles down the road. We'd arrive home and head straight to bed, with the knowledge that tomorrow would also bring more excitement.

Christmas morning dawned bright and early. My sisters and I had bedrooms upstairs, but we knew on Christmas morning we were not allowed to go downstairs the minute we woke up. You see, Mom and Dad usually had one gift for us that they did not wrap. When we woke up, we would holler downstairs, signaling to our parents that we were ready for the day to begin. I don't remember what time we usually woke up, but shortly thereafter, Mom and Dad would join us upstairs, bringing breakfast with them. After eating, Dad would read the Christmas story from the Bible and then we'd head downstairs to open our presents and stockings.

We'd play with our gifts for the rest of the morning, and then it was time to head to my Dad's parents' house. This journey was much shorter, only 2 miles. A flurry of activity would follow, as aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered for a Christmas dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, and all the trimmings. And of course, more pies, cookies, and candy..... The house was usually buzzing with excitement and chatter as people watched football, played games, and opened gifts. After round two of food, we were ready to head home.

Over the years, our traditions ad locations have changed slightly, but every Christmas brings my favorite tradition... celebrating Jesus' birth with family. As you gather with family this Christmas, please take a few moments to celebrate the real REASON we celebrate this wonderful season.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. --Isaiah 9:6

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. --Luke 2:10-14


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Official!!!!

The last cookie has been frosted...

A child's yearly quota of sugar has been consumed...

Veggie Tales have entertained hyper children for the last time this year...

Glitter glue is no longer taking up eternal residence on the table...

Students have been introduced to Miss Heather's favorite Christmas book The Crippled Lamb...

Miss Heather nearly teared up while reading The Crippled Lamb...

Thousands of bits of wrapping paper are no longer peppered on the floor...

Miss Heather has checked and yes, she does still have all her hair...

The shrieks of excitement are a silent memory...

Sentiments such as Merry Christmas, See you next year, or I'll miss you have been uttered...

The anticipation of a huge snowstorm is lingering in everyone's minds...

The last student has been picked up...

The lights are turned off...

The door is closed....


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Not Me Monday Tuesday

Wow, what a week it's been. In fact, it was so busy that I took the liberty of creating a Not Me Monday Tuesday post. Just couldn't get it all done yesterday! You can still visit MckMama's blog to see those who were not procrastinators like me.... they actually got their Not Me posts done on the right day. But the way I see it, I'm just spreading out the fun, right? Okay, I know I'm in my own little world, but you can just humor me.

Anyway, getting on the the point of this post....

On one of my many late nights at school this week, I got a taco. Softshell chicken taco to be exact. About half-way through, I did not chomp on a chicken bone and feel like I nearly broke a tooth. Hmmmm.... maybe I should call my sister Erin for tooth-gluing tips.

Friday night after school, I did not travel to Duluth (80 miles from home) with two friends to look at Christmas lights. Why didn't you look at lights in your own town? you might ask. Well, if we were honest here, I'd tell you that the real reason we went to Duluth was not to eat at the best place on earth--Olive Garden! While there, I absolutely did not order manicotti. And if the server accidentally placed such a hideous dish in front of me, there is definitely no way on Earth I would take a picture. No, that would be totally inappropriate in a nice restaurant!

After a scrumptious dinner, we layered on our warm clothing and headed to Bentleyville, an outdoor light display in downtown Duluth. We did not nearly freeze, since we were near Lake Superior and it was rather windy. Seeing the outdoor ice skating rink, literally thousands of lights, and snowmen and reindeer roaming about, I did not envision myself in a movie. With the cheery Christmas tunes from the likes of Bing Crosby and Gene Autry, Jenny, Rebecca, and I would never have embarassed ourselves by linking arms and skipping down the path, all the while singing. No way... not us!!! Here are a couple shots from our night.

After gallivanting around on Friday night, I did not sleep in on Saturday. And when I finally woke up in the land of the living, I did not have 5 purses to finish and get in the mail. With the hand-stitching completed, I did not have to rush to the post office to meet the deadline for mail pick-up. There were not 6 people ahead of me in line and when it was all said and done, I did not have only 3 minutes until the truck came to whisk away the packages mailed late by procrastinators such as myself all those other people ahead of me in line.

Because I'm not the cool teacher I am, I did not bake sugar cookies for my students. In case you have me confused with that other crazy teacher, I did not put a couple of spoonfuls of frosting on a plate and let the kids go to it. Even more exciting, some of the frosting even make it onto the cookies!

Okay, here's the Wal-Mart story I promised you...
Yesterday I went to the Wal-Mart photo center to print out 4 pictures I needed for a school project. 4 pictures, people! I looked at the Kodak machine and there was a message saying it was out of paper. Once I got the attention of the lab technician social chatterer, I mentioned that the printer was out of paper. He looked at me like I had an alien head and said, "Yeah, that machine isn't working right now." Fine, I'll go to the next machine. As I started to touch the screen, Mr. Helpful did not say to me, "That one doesn't work either."

Okay, Buddy, would it be easier for you to tell me what machine DOES work?

Only the Fuji machines work right now."

Is that because you don't want to take the time to add more paper? Okay, now to find a Fuji machine.

All full. Of course they are. Okay, I'll wait.

Three hours fifteen minutes later, a machine opened up, so I started to upload 300+ pictures. Once I found the ones I wanted, I tried to order the specific size I needed. When I didn't see the mini prints, I hit another button for more sizes. BIG MISTAKE! The 300+ pictures were not gone from the screen, and I did not have to start over.

So starting over once again, this time the computer did not freeze at picture #26. For four minutes! Yeah, this isn't going so well.

Back to the counter to speak to Mr. Not-So-Helpful, I mentioned that the computer was frozen. He did not walk over, hit a button, speak not a word to me, and head back to whatever it was that was consuming his time.

Another four minutes pass... computer still is not on.

Waiting, waiting, waiting....

In the meantime, another computer opened up, so I moved to that machine, loaded pictures (all 300+ of them), and looked for the mini print option. When I couldn't find it, I decided once again to solicit the services of Mr. Not-So-Helpful. "Excuse me, how do you do the mini prints on this computer? You know, the ones that print 4 small prints on a standard 4 x 6 print?"

This was not his reply: "The Fuji machines don't have that option. The only machines that print the mini prints are the Kodak machines."

At this point, I was not trying to hold in a very rude comment. So I politely said, "Like Kodak as in the 4 machines that aren't working now?"

"Yes, that's right. Or you could do a collage print and print out an 8 x 10 size or larger."

Not really what I wanted, thank you. That's why I asked about "mini prints."

As I left the photo department completely defeated, I glanced at my watch. I did not waste 45 minutes and have absolutely nothing to show for it! My next step? I did not head to Target to print out my pictures... and I was not successful. Thank you, Target.

Do you have some moments you'd rather not claim? Try a not me post and see how therapeutic it can be!


For those of you who get this emailed to you, that last post was an oops..... I was searching for something on google, hit return, and didn't realize i'd jumped back to another window, the one that had my blog post up. So.... I'll finish it later. Although, just re-thinking about my Walmart trip, I'm mad all over again! :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not Me Monday--Postponed until Tuesday

To all my faithful blog readers--yes, all 4 of you--I will be postponing my Not Me post until Tuesday. I actually have a really good annoying story for you, but it's going to take too long to write tonight.... so you'll just have to be patient and wait till tomorrow!

Sweet dreams!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Crafts with Auntie Rah

Tonight Callie, Ashleigh, Natalie, and even Micah got in on some crafty action with Auntie Rah. Yes, I know I'm a little adventurous to try something involving paint, especially with almost-two-year-old Micah, but it was fun!The ornaments turned out as unique as those who made them. And we had ZERO mishaps with the paint! (Becky, you have to act surprised when you see these!)

Of course, Micah had a few other things on his mind....