Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Final Post for 2010

Hello, my bloggy friends! : ) I'm sorry I've been gone so long. Not only has it been a very busy time around here, I also managed to get sick the day after Christmas. Spent the entire day of the 26th in bed with a stomach virus and then followed that up on the 27th by spending the day in bed with a migraine. And to top it all off, that was my BIRTHDAY! Do I know how to have a good time or what?

Today is the first time I've been able to eat since the virus, too. It wasn't the worst virus ever (I've definitely been sicker in the past) but recuperating from it has been extremely difficult. I'm still very tired and weak. And the worst part? I STILL HAVEN'T GOTTEN TO HAVE MY BIRTHDAY DINNER! (I'm all about the food, ya know?)

Don't know about you guys but I'm having a hard time believing that another year has come and gone already. 2010 was a year of many personal changes for me. BIG changes on the inside. A year of personal growth, I suppose you'd say. I know there are some who don't like the changes, but that's okay. I've finally decided that I'm not out to please everyone. I'm doing what I know in my heart is best for me because I finally realized that when I'm not doing what's right for me, I'm failing everyone around me. I've learned to say 'NO' when it's the best thing for me. I've learned to say 'STOP' when what's happening is unnecessary or...just not what I need.

Basically, I guess I've just learned that I'm worth my time and effort. That's a big realization for me. : ) I can't say I've perfected it all and I can say that I probably never will, but I do know that I'm growing and changing and I'm happy with what I'm seeing. That's BIG for me, too. : )

I once read on a t-shirt "Everybody is worth something 'cause God don't make no junk"...well, it took me 45 years to come to the conclusion that this applies to me, too.

And just FYI...

I did NOT just celebrate my 45th birthday.
I celebrated the 16th anniversary of my 29th birthday.

So, my friends, until next year! That 2011 is the best year yet for each of you is my prayer. God bless and please be careful and wise in your New Year celebrations!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Farewell, my friends!

But only until after Christmas. : ) I've decided that I need to devote the next few days to my family and all the Christmas hubbub! If I have a chance, I may drop back in for a quick post. But I wanted to be sure to wish each of you the very merriest of Christmases! May your blessings be abundant and your hearts be filled with the Christmas spirit! : )

God bless each of you. : ) Merry, merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Morning and It's a GREAT ONE! : )

I know people mostly complain about Mondays but I'm here to sing its praises today. : ) There are a few reasons that this Monday is great.

1. I awakened to SNOW falling outside my bedroom window! YAY!!! I hadn't watched the news over the weekend (honestly, aren't the days usually better when you don't watch the news?) and had no idea it was in the forecast. Last thing I heard was a chance on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, so this was a pleasant surprise! : )

2. I get to take my babies Christmas shopping today! They each have friends for whom they want to buy presents and we really haven't had much opportunity to take them before now. Yes, there is school but all they're doing is watching movies and such so I don't mind letting them miss. After tomorrow they're out until January 3rd anyway. : )

3. Now this reason is the trickiest one of all. You see, it required me to get a head start on this great mood last night. But that was not a problem at all thanks to my good friend Robin over at Alabama Slacker Mama. I hadn't been online much yesterday afternoon and when I did check my email in the evening, I found THE COOLEST email! Robin was informing me that I had won her giveaway!!!

Can you say AWESOME??? : )

I won a $50 Visa gift card!!! Merry Christmas to ME!!! LOL!!!

You can't imagine how excited I am!

So needless to say, not only did I awaken to a beautiful snowfall and happy thoughts of Christmas shopping with my family, but I even had a big ol' smile already plastered on my face thanks to Robin!!!


If you have never visited Robin's place, please do. She is such a cool, sweet, creative lady who adores her beautiful little family and is a fantastic bloggy friend! : )

And now I'm OUTTA HERE! The Hubster, the kids and I have some memories to make! : )

Friday, December 17, 2010

These are a few...

...of my FAVORITE things about Christmas Eve:

*The Nativity*

*Christmas punch*

*Glowing Christmas lights*

*My children's sparkling eyes*

*The laughter when everyone is here*

*Taking the time to savor every little moment*

*The time we spend reminiscing on Christmases past*

*Memories of Daddy handing Christmas coins to everyone he met*

*Reading from the Book of Luke to my kids when I tuck them into bed*

*The peace*

*The quiet*

What are your favorite things about Christmas Eve?
It's only one week from today! : )

And don't forget to check out Kelli's Kitchen for new posts! : )

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Beautiful, Snowy Thankful Thursday!

Today, when thinking with a thankful heart,
these are the things that come to mind:

*This peaceful, snowy pajama day at home with the kids. We are snowed in and it is BEAUTIFUL out there, warm and cozy in here; with the Christmas tree all aglow and the aromas of yesterday's baking still filling the air.

*Josh Groban's soulful voice singing my favorite Christmas carols.
*Norman Rockwell
*Currier and Ives

*All my sweet memories of Christmases past.
(Yes, that's me in the front. The toothless wonder!)

*My Daddy. Even though I miss him more than words can say, I know how blessed I am to have had him for the 32 years that I did.

*All the lovely posts I've been reading on your blogs. The ones that touch my heart, make me giggle, give me reason to think.


I have a whole lot of reasons to be thankful!
How 'bout you? : )

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ginny's Story...A Remembrance

*To honor the memories of Glenna, Denzil, Cassandra and especially Ginny, I am once again putting Ginny's Story here on this, the anniversary of the Silver Bridge tragedy.*

~The following story isn't a happy little Christmas vignette. What it is, in fact, is a true and rather long tale based on conversations with Ginny, the daily journals in which she wrote, and the cards and letters she treasured for so many years. It is a story of love and loss, and a lesson in humanity. You never know for certain what life is truly like for another person until you take the time to listen to (and really hear) them. It is very important to me that it be told, especially on this day. I think that if you'll do me the honor of taking a few minutes to read it you'll understand why.~

It was December 15, 1967. The Christmas card arrived that morning, Glenna’s familiar handwriting gracing the envelope. A short note was included, asking about Mom, Daddy and Gramma, and saying that she and Denzil would be traveling to Gallipolis Friday evening after work to finish up their Christmas shopping. It was signed “Merry Christmas! With love, Denzil, Glenna and Baby”. This was Friday and the card had been mailed two days before. Ginny read the card aloud to her husband and her mother that morning, not knowing what the rest of the day would hold for them all.

Denzil and Glenna did head out to Gallipolis that evening, just as the Christmas card had foretold. Ginny knew they would because Glenna had been having some problems with swelling and, with the baby due in January, she needed to finish her shopping before she was unable to do so. Ginny, Ginny’s mother and Buck were even going to make the long drive to Denzil and Glenna’s small mobile home to celebrate this year because they knew the trip would be too much on Glenna. That’s why Ginny had no doubt that her daughter and son-in-law would do just as they said.

That’s why, when she heard that the Silver Bridge crossing the Ohio River between Pt. Pleasant, WV and Gallipolis, OH had collapsed, taking with it all of the rush hour travelers who were crossing it at the time, she knew in her heart that Denzil and Glenna were gone. In her mother’s heart, she knew that her precious daughter, her unborn grandchild, and her son-in-law had fallen to their deaths in the icy waters of the Ohio River.

She knew.


Glenna’s childhood bedroom still sat much the way it had before she married Denzil some 4 years earlier. In the days following the accident, while Buck and Ginny awaited word on the recovery of bodies, they gathered Glenna’s belongings from her new home and took them back to that childhood bedroom, tucking them neatly into the cedar chest that sat by the foot of the bed. There were dresses, skirts and blouses; maternity tops and coats; and, saddest of all, there were the tiny, embroidered gowns and the hand pieced crib quilt that had been lovingly crafted for the baby. They were just sure it would be a girl. Her name was going to be Cassandra.

Ginny eventually went on with her life, but things were never the same for her. There was always that missing piece, that hole that couldn’t be filled. She and Buck traveled extensively throughout the U.S., pulling their camper from state to state and taking pictures all along the way. They had photos, reels and slides that recorded every trip they took over the years. Buck would set up the projector on the weekends and they would relive their travels, sharing them with friends and family. Ginny’s sister and brother-in-law, Peanut and Howard, sometimes joined them on their journeys. They had never had children themselves, so Glenna had been like a daughter to them as well. They felt the sting of her death just as surely as if she’d been their own. Ginny and Peanut were already as close as two sisters could be, but this shared grief somehow drew them even closer.

In 1970, their mother passed away. She had resided in a house right next to Ginny’s and again, Ginny had an added grief to bear. In the early 1980s Peanut became very ill with cancer. Before she was able to come home from an extended hospital visit, Howard fell ill, too. They soon discovered that he had cancer as well and Ginny brought them both home to care for them in their last days. They passed away within weeks of each other. Then in 1987, Ginny lost the last of the loves of her life, Buck. He, too, was taken by cancer. Ginny had never been more alone.

My in-laws had become friends with Ginny and Buck in the early 60s. My husband, born in 1965 and only 2 when the Silver Bridge collapsed, had been a comfort to them to have around over the years. I can’t help but think that he helped to ease the pain of the loss of the only grandchild they would ever have, the one they never got a chance to meet. Since three of his four grandparents had already passed away, Buck and Ginny were very important figures in Phil’s life. Before long his family began taking vacations with Buck and Ginny, traveling to state parks and visiting popular sightseeing destinations. Even now he talks about how they got together most weeknights to play Pinochle and Pollyanna, and the Saturday morning trips into Harrisville with Buck and Ginny to do their banking and visit the five and dime where Buck always allowed Phil to pick out a comic book to take home. These are the threads that were woven together over the years, forming the fabric that is Phil’s past and foundation. Precious memories, indeed.

In the last few years, we watched Ginny’s health fail remarkably. Her diabetes was out of control and she refused to eat the way the doctor said she should. She would have ‘spells’ when her sugar dropped too drastically and she sometimes was unable to even remember what happened. She had an aneurysm in her stomach that caused her frequent pain. The doctor warned that it could rupture at any time, but there was nothing they could do because Ginny wasn’t strong enough to withstand surgery. Her kidney function declined rapidly but she adamantly refused dialysis. “I don’t even know why I’m still here” she’d say, always wishing that she would just die. She wanted to be with Buck and Glenna, Peanut and Howard. She always asked her doctor how she was going to die, wanting details so she would know if it was happening. He kept telling her he couldn’t give her those kinds of answers, but because he had once told her it was a possibility, she convinced herself that she would simply fall asleep and not awaken. That was somehow comforting to her.

Through it all, Ginny stayed as busy as she could. Still driving long after she should have had her license taken away, she would play Bingo several nights a week. She would tell you that she didn’t really even enjoy the game so much. It was the company. Ginny made a whole new set of friends when she started playing and they became very important to her. Bingo gave her a reason to look forward to getting up in the mornings. When she wasn’t at Bingo, chances are she was sitting in her lounge chair or stretched out on her couch sleeping. She slept several hours a day because congestive heart failure left her unable to take in enough oxygen.

Ginny always said that when she was gone, there would be no one to remember Glenna. She just knew that Glenna’s short life was all for naught, that she was the only one left to keep her memory alive. When Ginny gave us an old wash stand that had been her mother’s, my husband did a beautiful job refinishing it. He sanded away an aged, dark finish and restored the beauty it had originally held. When it was done and we had brought it to our bedroom, Ginny came for a visit and we asked her to come upstairs to see what we had. Needless to say, she was stunned at how lovely it had become! And then she saw what we had placed upon it. Two double picture frames, one on each side of the bowl and pitcher, holding pictures of Buck and Ginny, Denzil and Glenna. I told her that day that we wanted those pictures there so she would know that none of them would ever be forgotten, that I would see to it that they were always remembered.

On April 5, 2009 Ginny passed away. I hope and pray that she has now found the peace that she could not find in life. When I think of her, I see her sitting with Buck, Peanut, Howard, Denzil and Glenna, and she’s holding a beautiful pink-cheeked cherub named Cassandra. And Ginny is smiling, a smile that reaches all the way to her heart.

Glenna Grose Taylor
Never to be forgotten.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Smile in the Mail

Did you ever find a smile in your mailbox? There have been a few times when I've pulled something totally unexpected and wonderful out of mine, and I think it is the fact that it is so completely unexpected that makes it even more special.

Christmas cards started rolling in here a week or so ago and they always brighten my day. : ) Who doesn't love receiving happy Christmas greetings from friends and family? Especially those we don't see very often. As for some of them, it's the only time of year we're in touch with each other.

On Saturday I received an absolutely gorgeous card! A lovely Christmas angel. She reminds me of cards I've seen in antique shops; those heirlooms of days gone by.

But she was not the only breathtaking thing in the envelope. Included with this sweet Christmas greeting was one of the nicest little notes I have ever received. : ) It was a note expressing appreciation for my blog and I can't begin to tell you how much it means to me.

I originally 'met' a very sweet lady named Vanessa while researching my family tree on the internet a few years ago. We exchanged some information regarding relatives we have in common from a couple of generations past and we never actually met face to face...just online. Vanessa was even so kind as to share copies of some additional information she had found regarding my maternal grandfather's family even though I really wasn't able to be of much help to her. She has been doing this research much longer than I have been and had made a lot more progress.

We have exchanged emails and Christmas cards and I always very much appreciate them. I know that some folks don't think much of online friendships, but some of the very nicest people I have met were met online. : ) Many of them I've still never seen face to face but we continue to maintain great friendships via the Internet.

Vanessa, if you are reading this, I want you to know how very much I appreciate your sweet words. : ) Your cards always brighten my day, but that little note tucked inside the angel could not have come at a better time for me. : )

Miscellany Monday

Good Monday morning to you! : ) December 13th already, and that means less than two weeks until Christmas! WOW! This year has really flown right by and before you know it, we'll be turning the page on the calendar for 2011.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Remember back in the 80s when the year 2000 seemed so very far away?

Well, the date doesn't really matter as much as the fact that it's Monday! And that means it's time to share the miscellany. Click on over to lowercase letters to link up and share all the little things in your life. : )

*I FINALLY got my new computer cord!
This makes me very happy! And I really shouldn't say 'FINALLY' since it was here within 3 days of being ordered. Talk about fast service! I was impressed, especially this time of year.

*I haven't finished my Christmas cards yet.
I know, I know. It's less than two weeks away and my cards typically go out the first week of December, but what can I say. I'm so much more relaxed this Christmas and I'm not freaking out about it.
I refuse!
They'll get signed, they'll get sealed and they'll get mailed.
All in due time.

(Note to self: GET WITH IT! It's LESS than two weeks!)

*I'm typing this on Sunday evening as we are all hanging out around the house, playing Wii, playing on our laptops, watching some television, etc. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the snow we've been promised by every weatherman on television. So far we haven't seen a flake, other than about ten minutes worth of flurries that occurred mid-afternoon and didn't even stick to anything. WE WANT SNOW!!! And the kids want a snow day!

*I watched It's a Wonderful Life on Thursday while I wrapped packages.
My Christmas season is not complete until I've watched this movie.
I NEED my Jimmy Stewart/George Bailey fix.
(I sometimes need this fix in the middle of April or even July, too. And I never deprive myself.)
I adore that man and that movie never fails to make me feel good. : )

*I do believe I'll be mixing up some cookie doughs this week. I need to mix up some cookie doughs this week. And since Brie is going to be here to help, I'm going to have her snap
some pics to post over at Kelli's Kitchen. I'm also planning to make Sausage and Peppers Rustica this week and I'll try to get that posted as well. It is one of our favorite dishes! When I want to make something that EVERYONE in the family loves, this is my go-to dish. Even Tucker loves it. Yes, my picky 8 year old could eat his weight in this. It's THAT good.

I suppose that just about does it for the miscellany in my life this week.
It's been a rather laid back few days, without a whole lot going on.

And I've enjoyed every single, solitary, less-than-exciting moment.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


A Note from Kelli: I've been gone due to computer issues. AGAIN. This time it was my cord that died, so at least that is relatively easily remedied. Right now I'm borrowing a cord for a little while but I have a new one on the way. While I have the use of this cord, I wanted to stop in and post so you wouldn't think I've fallen off the face of the earth. : )

Now it's time to celebrate thinking small. It seems we're always searching out all things bigger, better, new and improved. I know I just posted about this very thing not long ago, but I feel it bears repeating. Recent events have caused me to realize even more the value of my time and, most of all, my sanity.

This year instead of spending my Christmas season feeling like this:

I decided I want it to be more like this:

I want a peaceful, serene Christmas. Not so much hustle and bustle and more relaxing and enjoying my family. I want to take the time to experience Christmas as I did when I was a child. I want to see it through my eight year old's eyes and feel that same excitement and anticipation. So instead of just saying this is what I want and thinking I should do something about it, I did it. I simplified. And I must say, I'm liking this. : )

Guess what. ONE TREE.

Yes, that's right. I put up only one tree this year. The big one in the family room, the most important tree in the house. Didn't put up the parlor tree or the one in the master bedroom. The kids each have a small tree in their bedroom and they did that all themselves. We are typically a five tree family, so this is MAJOR.

And I'm not freaking out over the baking and cooking and all that fun stuff. Shopping is finished and wrapping is all done.

I've had time to watch Christmas movies and read Christmas stories with the kids.

This is nice. : )

Sunday, December 5, 2010

If they could see him through my eyes...

He's just a little guy. He wears glasses and he often has 'asthma shiners', those dark circles under his eyes that many asthma sufferers must endure. He's very thin, to the point that we must buy the jeans with the adjustable waist. He's not a gifted athlete but he's so very smart, typically bringing home A's on his schoolwork and report cards. He is kind, considerate, polite and caring.

These attributes melt my heart every single time I look at him. But they are also the very things that paint the proverbial bulls eye smack in the center of his forehead, making him the perfect target for bullies of all shapes and sizes. I understand this. He looks like the kind of kid who will shrink back from confrontation and just hope you go away and leave him alone. He looks like the kind of kid who will do everything in his power to blend into the background and not attract your attention, thereby avoiding your rude remarks and cruel treatment.

When school started this year and the same ol' stuff started up all over again -- as if there had been no summer break and no opportunity for a change of heart-- frustration set in due to the fact that this has been going on since kindergarten and three years is enough! So I gave my little guy some instructions.

"Stop tolerating it. Tell someone. Tell the teacher. Tell the principal. Tell SOMEONE!" I told him. I knew it was risking even more bullying because of being a 'tattletale'. But I also knew my little guy was being beaten down, not physically but emotionally.

Up until this time we had simply tried to teach him to be the better person. We'd taught him to do his best to turn the other cheek, to defend himself by keeping his calm and not letting it get to him.

But a child can only do that for so long. And as a parent, it's dreadful to have to expect him to do it AT ALL.

I know these kids won't be seeing my blog and that even if they did it would make little difference. But this mother's heart is breaking and I need to get it out. So here I am, typing out my thoughts and feelings and hoping that if one of you out there is going through the same thing, at least maybe now you'll know you're not alone.

I just wish the bullies could see what I see when I look at my little guy.

When you look, you see only a skinny, geeky kid wearing glasses.

*I see a kid with a bright smile and a generous heart.

You see a boy worthy of being the last pick when you're choosing teams at recess.

*I see a boy with such a deep sense of loyalty that he will give his very best for his team, even when it's a game he may not enjoy very much.

You see a kid you can boss around when it suits your needs. Use him then toss him aside when you're done.

*I see a boy who is willing to do anything for a friend and is always happy to give of himself to help others. He could be the very best friend you'd ever have.

You see someone whose discomfort gives you a feeling of power and makes all the other kids think you're really cool.

*I see a kid who doesn't deserve to be the object of your wrath or a rung on your ladder to higher social standing. I see someone who just wants to be your friend.

So this is my plea to you:

Please leave him alone. He can't hurt you by being in the same room with you. Your ego won't be bruised, nor will your social standing be downgraded if you show him the courtesy of not insulting or criticizing him. It is entirely possible for you to acknowledge his existence without torturing him, if you so choose. You can say hello and go on about your business. Or if that's just too much for you to handle, you have the option of ignoring him completely. Honestly, I'd just as soon he never really is your friend because I don't want your example to be the one he follows. I don't ever want him to think it's okay to treat others the way you've treated him.

I would really prefer that you simply leave him alone.
And I don't think that's too much for this mom to ask.


Right now I'm to the point that I'm considering homeschooling. At least for the rest of this year, to give us a chance to get a better grip on this situation and to better prepare him to handle whatever it is that life throws his direction. Kids can be so cruel and mean-spirited. They just don't realize how much damage their words and actions can do. I don't have the answers for the big picture, but I'm diligently searching for the solutions that will work for our family. I owe him that much. He is my responsibility and I must do everything in my power to see to it that he has a safe and happy childhood with every opportunity to become all that I know he can be. There is just so much good in this kid! He is a treasure and we are blessed to have him in our lives.

I just wish that...just for a moment...the bullies could see him through my eyes.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

12 Days of Christmas...Day 2


Slip on over to The Blessed Life and link up!

Today's topic...

Christmas Traditions

Wow, where to begin? We have TONS of Christmas traditions around here. I guess I'll simply share some of our favorites and I'm warning you...this list could be LONG! ; )

Christmas just wouldn't be the same without certain foods. I'm sure every family has their own list of favorites but I doubt that any of them are much stranger than ours...

Christmas Eve is a time for finger foods and everyone's favorite 'party foods'. We have sausage balls, meatballs, Lil' Smokies, relish trays, Chex Mix, etc. We like to snack while playing games, asking Christmas trivia questions and just 'hanging out'. And we absolutely MUST have Christmas punch. My Mom has made the punch for as long as I can remember but now that my branch of the family tree doesn't travel all the way home on Christmas Eve, the responsibility has fallen to me. It's a simple concoction, nothing fancy or difficult, but to us it means Christmas. :) I'll share the recipe in Kelli's Kitchen before the month is out.

Christmas Day is when we have our actual Christmas dinner and we have never had the traditional turkey or ham sit-down dinner. Instead, I use my electric roaster to cook up a large beef roast with lots of potatoes, carrots and onions. We have a salad and hot bread along with it and it makes a simple but delicious meal without spending hours upon hours fretting over meal prep.

But we all know that Christmas dinner can't happen until sometime after Christmas breakfast, and that's the meal we most look forward to on Christmas Day! I bake up a couple dozen of my yummy homemade blueberry muffins with streusel topping and also a batch of my Daddy's oyster stew. Daddy made the BEST oyster stew. I don't know how it started, but every year on Christmas morning he made a batch, so I grew up with that tradition. When I married The Hubster he thought I was nuts to insist that we have oyster stew for breakfast any day of the year, let alone on Christmas! But I had to pick up where Daddy left off because it just wasn't Christmas without it. : ) I'll post the oyster stew recipe this month, too.

And of course there are the sweets. Lots and lots of sweets. You can see just a small sampling of what I mean by clicking here. (There are lots of pics in that post and they aren't all food pics, but scroll through and you'll see some of the things Brie and I make each year.) I usually bake at least 6 or 7 different types of cookies, not to mention all the other dishes we love and absolutely MUST have.

Right about now you're thinking "All that girl DOES is EAT!" But we do have a few traditions that don't involve food. Really. Actually, my favorite tradition doesn't involve food at all. : )

Every night of December we read a Christmas story. Last December I posted each day about the book we were reading that night. We read pretty much the same books/stories each year, but I do pick up at least one new book each year. I wrote about this year's new addition here. : )

And last, but certainly not least, we do what we can to spread the cheer by helping out a family less fortunate than our own. I want my kids to grow up knowing that they have the ability to make a difference; that no matter how bad things may be at the time, there is always someone else having an even tougher time than they are. That's another lesson learned from my Daddy. : )

I'm going to stop now, before this turns into a book. ; ) Go link up and share your Christmas traditions with us, too! : )

12 Days of Christmas


I'm linking up at The Blessed Life for the 12 Days of Christmas fun! : ) You should join us!

Today's topic is...
What does Christmas mean to you?

(From the Second Chapter of Luke)
7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

THAT, my friends, is what Christmas is all about. : ) It is the reason for the season.

It's a time to gather with family and friends, reminiscing about Christmases past and enjoying each others company. It is a time to remember with love those we miss the most each year at this time.

It is a time to bake too many cookies and consume too many calories and to dread stepping on the scales.

It is the time when the best of who and what we are is brought to light in the giving that we do. Not just the giving of prettily wrapped packages or of spare change into the little red kettles, but the giving of ourselves. The time we take to be a little more polite and the effort we make to be a little kinder to those we encounter.

It's the time when the greatest joy is found... in the twinkling eyes of a child; in the ringing of a child's laughter; in the childlike anticipation that bubbles up within each and every one of us as Christmas draws nearer.

May your December be FILLED TO THE BRIM! With love, laughter, and most of all, HOPE. : )