Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Childhood Christmas Eve

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Christmas Eve.  Christmas Eve…are there two more beautiful words in the mind of a child?

Christmas Eve was ONE thing in my childhood…pure magic.  From waking up that waited-for morning till jumping eagerly into our beds that night, absolute magic.  It tingled our skin, ran through our veins, sparkled our eyes, made our little hearts go pitter-pat…

Julie & Scott in the snow {my brother Scott & I at one such snowy early 70’s Christmas time}

Growing up in Northeastern Ohio was a wonderful thing. 

hpqscan0001_edited-1 {my dear Dad, doing what dads do…}

We were most always covered in snow by this time of December, and if we were very lucky—and we often were—the snow would fall gently on Christmas Eve night…magic snow fairies gliding down…changing colors as they went by the Christmas lights hanging from our front porch…


And, oh--the anticipation!  Brothers and sisters sitting around the Christmas tree…counting and piling their presents—who had a bigger pile?  What could this present be?!

 hpqscan0003_edited-1 {little Becky and Greg…oh, how time flies!  Mid-70’s}

We were a little kinder to each other that day…a little more forgiving of the things that usually would annoy…this was our last chance to show Santa that we’d been “nice”, not “naughty” this year, after all!

hpqscan0002_edited-1 {All the siblings gathered here mid-70’s except for Jenny…but she was there…Mom was pregnant here with number six.  Mom looks tired!}

Making plates full of all the delicious Christmas cookies we’d been making during previous days…putting a bow on top of each, and taking them around the neighborhood quickly to our very best friends and neighbors…sharing a little Christmas cheer…


One year, some  brilliant neighbor came up with the idea of every house in our large neighborhood being lit up by luminaries…and it became tradition.

image {I wish I had a picture of our childhood house on taken outside on Christmas Eve…sadly, I don’t, but this one gave me the same feeling…}

Someone was chosen each year to bring around waxed paper lunch sacks and candles to all the houses.  We would fill them each with a bit of sand so they wouldn’t blow over in the chill winds and light them as soon as it got dark…magic.  Sometimes we would take a quick, snowy walk and just soak it all in…

Helping Mom get our traditional Christmas Eve meal prepared…pierogies and kielbasi.  Now, we are not even one speck Polish, but there was—probably still is—a very large Polish population in our area of Ohio. 


For some reason, we tried this meal one Christmas Eve long ago, fell in love with it, and it became tradition.  Still is.  {This year, however, it will be homemade pierogi for the first time in our house—yum!}

In every one of our homes to this day (there are six of us kids), all over this country…pierogies and kielbasi are the meal on Christmas Eve.  A beautiful tradition that binds us together when we cannot be together otherwise (many thanks to the wonderful in-laws who allow it to continue!)…

 image {straight from the 1940s, this album was—and still is—my very favorite of all Christmas albums.  I feel just like a little girl again whenever I hear it…}

After dinner, laying on the carpet in the living room near our beautifully lit tree, listening to the family Christmas records on the record player…waiting for the family to gather for our “program”. 

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We would read the Christmas story from the scriptures first—it’s the most important part, after all…sometimes we would act it out with one of Mom’s handmade nativity sets.  We loved that! 

Next—our favorite part!  Dad—always Dad—would read the poem by Ogden Nash: “The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus”

hpqscan0002 {illustration for the poem by Norman Rockwell}

As time went on, and we learned the poem better, we would shout out the end of each line in unison as Dad read…another tradition we continue in each of our homes each and every year.

Last of all—“The Night Before Christmas” was recited—now the excitement was so extreme, we could barely contain ourselves! 


With kisses and hugs all around and the happy singing out of “Merry Christmas!”,  we’d fly up the stairs to our beds…blankets cozily tucked up to our chins…eyes wide open…would sleep ever come?!

And so with the thoughts of jingling sleigh bells, hooves alighting on our snowy roof (and I remember Christmas Eves when I KNEW I heard them!), and jolly Santa Claus leaving all we had wished for under our tree, off we’d drift….


Christmas Eve.  Is there any better memory to hold on to?  Magic.  Sheer magic…

Wishing each and every one the most merriest of Christmases…may warmth, love and family traditions fill your holiday with all the very best!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Windows

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A budding artist, Karen was given free-reign to create as a child…and create she did!  Clay, fabric, crayons & paint…she experimented with it all and made so many wonderful things!

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Recognizing her talents, her parents encouraged her in every way they could…especially at Christmas time…

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Large picture windows in the front of their Phoenix home were her canvas at Christmas…decorated for the neighborhood to see!

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Karen was very proud of her work—and so were her parents!  I love the photos I have of her posing in front of her festive masterpieces!

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I know that she would practice her pictures on paper before committing them to glass, because I found one of those paper pictures this summer at my mother’s house…the only one surviving, I would imagine…

Looking through a cupboard with Mom, I found a large, folded piece of thick paper…browned and tattered at the edges…a bit of yellowed tape still remaining on a couple of corners…


…as soon as I carefully opened it up, I recognized it immediately from the many photos I’d seen… “Oh, Mom!  One of your Christmas window paintings!”, I said…she just smiled…

Christmas window 3_edited-1 {sweet little sister, Judy poses in front of Mom’s painting…Judy was blind, and probably would have had this painting very lovingly described to her…}

“Can I take it home with me?”, I asked… “I’d love to hang it up at Christmas time!”

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“Oh, you wouldn’t hang up that old thing”, she smilingly protested…

…but I did!

DSC07558_edited-1 {in my kitchen today with my youngest daughter, Annie, who was about the same age my Mom was when she painted this one…} 

Hanging in my kitchen, a warm reminder of Christmas past, when my mother was given the gift of expressing her talents for all to see by her loving parents…

…a wonderful gift, indeed. 

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Merry Christmas, Mom!

And the happiest of Happy Birthday wishes to my beautiful daughter Chelsea!


How is it possible that I’ve been a mother for 22 years already?!  You are the most amazing young woman and I love you so…


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Oh, Christmas Tin!

DSC07518_edited-1 {I just love this vintage Christmas light reflector!  Found in a box of Christmas treasures at a yard sale…lucky me!}

Hello, dear friends!

Just popping in during this busiest of busy weeks to wish you all a merry almost Christmas!

Had a wonderful time tonight…we had about 50 friends over for homemade soup (5 different kinds) and homemade bread—we’ve been in the kitchen for a couple of days getting ready!  Think we’ll be making it our new Christmas tradition.  My husband dubbed it “The Campbell Soup Kitchen”…cute, huh?!

A little project to share with you today…a bit of new life brought to an old, very used, very loved muffin tin from a kitchen long ago…


…found at a yard sale this summer for just 25 cents…little did it know what was in store for it (neither did I at the time!)

It was hard for me to do anything to the beautifully tarnished & rusted design of this lovely muffin tin…doesn’t it seem like even the simplest of household objects were given the utmost thought in design in days gone by?  Probably why we all love them so!


I made this to share on a wonderful new & fabulously creative new site:  The Creative Patch.  Hope you all stop by and see what’s going on over there…the lovely & talented Sheila has so much in store for you!


Such an easy little project…I just chose some fun, retro images, cut them to fit the bottom of each cup, surrounded them with Platinum Stickles (of course!)…

…I decided a bit of “snow” was very, very necessary under each image…a bit of dimensional white paint was dabbed on just where I wanted it, then topped of with some fine, iridescent glitter…snow!


A nice, fluffy bunch of seam binding, topped off with vintage buttons crowned the muffin tin…


…and a merry collection of Christmas-colored vintage buttons finished it off at the bottom—easy peasy!

DSC07526_edited-1 {I sure love photographing my projects on my Christmas tree during the holidays—gives everything just a little more sparkle!}

Well, that’s all for today…hope you’re enjoying every minute of every day in this wonderful holiday season with your family and friends…I sure am!

See you soon with something new…