Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Last Look at Christmas 2010

After the rest of the family hurried home to wait on Santa, you Fabulous Five quickly changed into your Christmas gowns and sprinkled Reindeer food on the front lawn so that Santa could find our house. Oh, how the entire front yard glistened in the moonlight! Santa surely would have no problem finding us tonight!

Then everyone gathered around the Christmas tree downstairs to read our new book . . . or let the new book read to us! Mande got Mimi an early Christmas present--one of the recordable "Twas the Night Before Christmas" books. Mimi recorded herself reading the story so that long after I'm gone you will be able to hear me read to you on Christmas Eve. I'll never forget the wonder in the 5 sets of little eyes when you realized it was Mimi reading the story! (Mimi thinks there were too many tears in the mamas' eyes for us to have a picture of this.)

It was then time for cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer on your special hand print/footprint plates and cups the older girls made when they were babies. The carrots caused a little problem this year; we had a bloody mouth to take care of so we completely forgot about our Christmas Eve presents. Oh well, one more for morning!

This is what ya'll saw as you hurried up the stairs to the Nest to wait on Santa to come. You all wanted it to snow so badly for Christmas that Mimi thought she would help things along a little bit just in case with snowflakes drifting from the ceiling.

You were all so sure you saw Rudolph's red noise and heard sleigh bells before you drifted off to sleep . . . and who knows . . . you may have . . .

because bright and early Christmas morning we found that Santa had indeed found Mimi's house! But before we could find out for sure we had to wait on all the mamas and daddies to get up and get the cameras all working.

Granddaddy always has to "guard the gate" until just the right time for ya'll to bounce down the stairs.

But once down the stairs, you all found everything you had asked Santa for and more!

Mimi and Granddaddy surprised ya'll with another BIG family present this year and here ya'll are waiting to find out what it is . . .

A Cruise on the Disney Dream!

Mimi also made Minnie Mouse beach towels for each of you and packed a little suitcase with your personal ticket and a cruise ship charm for your pandora bracelets.

The boys again did most of the cooking for Christmas Morning Breakfast! Thanks, guys!!

Aunt Lynn and Danielle and her family joined us as always for breakfast. We missed David and Jessica since they still had more family to visit out of town. I don't know what ya'll were most excited about . . . getting more presents or the snow falling outside!

Danielle and Sweet Josie got a very special present from Mimi ~ Danielle's first porcelain tea set. Danielle had forgotten all about it but Mimi had been saving it for just the right time since we had cleaned out Pop and Gran's house. Of course, Josie got her own metal tea set so she and her mommy can have tea parties now.

As soon as presents were unwrapped, everyone got on warmer layers and rushed outside to play in the beautiful white snow our Father gave us for Christmas.

What a Wonderful Present ~ the best of the day!

Mimi and Granddaddy were so blessed to have all of our family together for Christmas again this year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Thanks so much to all of you for making that special effort to be here!

What a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of our Savior and the precious family He has given us and made us a part of!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010 on the Acre

Candles in the windows and on the tables, 5 twinkling trees, an island running over with food, Jesus' birthday cake iced and waiting, presents galore, and snowflakes in the Nest . . . everything ready and anxiously waiting on the family to arrive.

the "A" girls and their mommy and daddy were the first to arrive

the "C" girls and their mommy and daddy flew in from the north

baby brother and his family came over the hill and through the dell

Doodah, Scotty, the boys and baby Josie came across town

(sorry the pic is so blurry)

The Newlyweds

David and Jessica were like Santa with many stops to make Christmas Eve before arriving at Aunt Sissy's for desserts and presents.

Of course, Mimi has no pictures of this, but the childrens' table was set with green reindeer plates, a wooden reindeer surrounded by a wreath graced the center of the table, and a personalized bag of Reindeer Food marked each child's seat. Maybe you can just remember the way it looked when you sat down. All the adult children ate in the breakfast area of the kitchen while the "older" adults ate more formally (ha!) in the dining room.

Everyone loved reflecting on Christmases past as they looked through the albums and old pictures before and after dinner.

Cybil and Josie entertained us with their dancing skills while the bigger kids played in the Nest as we waited on Taylor and Payton to arrive.

Then it was time to open presents!

(Again blurry pictures ~ maybe Mimi will learn to use her camera one day!)

Modeling their new attire!

With the sound of sleigh bells signaling time to hurry home, the Penland family said a hardy "Good Night and Merry Christmas" to beloved family and friends.

Then began our Christmas Eve bedtime traditions . . .

more tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Twas the Week Before Christmas . . .

and all through the house, Mimi is scurrying around like a mouse!

And I just realized I had never posted any pictures for ya'll of the decorations ~ so come take a mini tour before you arrive on Friday . . .

No pictures of the outside at night, but you know there'll be candles in the windows to welcome you home and guide you safely down the drive. One year when Mande was younger Mimi thought about not putting candles in the windows. She had such a fit because "no one would know how to get to our house on Christmas;" so the candles will always be lighting the way home.

The carolers are singing in the entry while the big tree twinkles in the living room.

See the basket beside Granddaddy's chair ~ it's full of Christmas picture albums ~ how much fun are we going to have looking through all of those and won't Mommy and Daddy be so surprised? The Nativity Gran and Pop gave to Granddaddy and I on our first Christmas highlights the coffee table along with a new special book to read on Christmas Eve. Notice the black and white picture with Santa in the back . . . that's Mimi and Big Unc just a few years ago.

The decoration on top of the armoire was the first "store bought" decoration Granddaddy and I bought when we first got married 40 years ago.

The kitchen is all aglow as the "Christmas Card Tree" holds the Christmas Eve presents under it. Mimi's collection of Santas again reign on top of the "Treasure Box" chest.

The Nest Tree and The Nursery Tree all dolled up in pinks . . .

. . . while downstairs Rudolph, with his wreath of bells, guards the tree, ready to alert ya'll if Santa passes by . . .

. . . and the stockings are hung on the mantle with care.

Hope you enjoyed your little tour because I know you'll be too excited when you get to Mimi's to notice anything except cousins and presents!

Mimi has been busy the last two days entertaining some very dear friends from childhood and teaching days with my traditional Christmas Brunch (times 2 this year). But, of course, there's no pictures of food or people ~ you know Mimi when she's having fun (my little camera was even waiting on the tea cart both days)!! But I did snap one of the dining room (before the table was completely set) with 2 of the little friendship gifts waiting on my friends.

Oops, I see a few of the "Candles on My Table" are leaning and I had not yet remembered to put in the fresh greenery and berries around the candles . . . oh, Mimi!

Mimi found this dear prayer on one of the many blogs I visit ~ sorry I can't remember where ~ but I love it and have one on my refrigerator. Inside the little bag is a pack of hot chocolate complete with mini marshmellows and a chocolate dipped candy cane so each friend can be still and remember the Reason for the Season.

And, in case you're wondering . . . Mimi does believe in Angels!!

Hope everyone hurries up and gets well so you can travel "over the hill and through the dell" to Mimi's!

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. ~ Luke 2:11

"Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Christmas Wreath

Forty-eight years of marriage equalled a Christmas tree whose branches were completely covered with ornaments . . . ornaments from the first years of marriage, ornaments for two children, four grandchildren and one great-grandson for each year of their lives, and keepsake ornaments from every trip they ever went on. Yes, I'm talking about the Christmas Tree at Gran and Pop's house.

Those ornaments and the stories and lives they represented were what made the Christmas tree at Gran and Pop's house so very special. And they're what made us all want to be there to help decorate the tree even if Gran hadn't decreed it to be so. Decorating always took a very long time because we had to retell the stories behind each ornament amid tears and laughter and, of course, bites of the Datenut Pinwheel cookies.

The first Christmas after Gran passed away Pop wanted to put up the big tree with all the ornaments and do everything just like we did when Granny was with us. Every Christmas after that, though, he only wanted a small tree and insisted we take the ornaments; but we just couldn't take them yet . . . we kept thinking he would change his mind and I kept thinking that magically Gran would be with us in person the next Christmas.

I knew deep in my heart that wouldn't happen, just as Pop knew. But, still I wasn't ready to take the ornaments from her special place in the attic. Those ornaments, as well as the big tree, stayed boxed up for 9 more years.

In October after Pop joined Granny in Heaven, I had an idea about just what to do with all of those precious ornaments that had meant so much to each of them . . . and I hurried about gathering all I needed to make my idea a reality.

On Thanksgiving night in 2004 after everyone was full on turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie, I asked the family to go into the playroom and close their eyes. Quickly I brought out the boxes that held my surprises . . . Christmas Wreaths . . . one for each child and grandchild with all of their special ornaments bought for them by Gran and Pop over the years. I also included some of Gran's other special oraments like the snowflakes she had crocheted, an ornament from their travels, one of the many birds that would light on the tree, and some of her homemade decorations like the napkin rings she made. I chose, also, for my tree the little nativity scene above because each year, I would help her gather moss to fill the glass bowl that would house the nativity scene.

Oh, how the tears flowed as we looked at our wreaths and thought about the stories Granny would tell as we hung our ornaments each year. Granny's signature red plaid ribbon was used for the bows as well as some of the red ribbons she tied on anything that stood still for a second, sometimes including Pop!

We each have special places in our homes for our wreaths. And it is my prayer that as the grandchildren hang their wreaths each year, they will retell the ornament stories and how the wreath came about to the great grandchildren. I want them to know how much their great grandmama loved Christmas . . . not because of Santa or presents or even the parties she hosted; but because of the Savior whose birthday we celebrate on that wonderful day of days . . . the Savior whose presence she and Pop are in tonight.

Mimi's Christmas Wreath hangs on my bedroom door so it is the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see as I wake each morning. As I walk past it, I can't help but gently touch each ornament, remembering . . . not just the stories of the ornaments or the tree that held them . . . but the love that surrounded all of us as we placed them on the tree . . . the love of parents who made sure we understood why and who we were celebrating on December 25 . . . that we knew . . .

Jesus is the Reason for this Season!

My wish, dear children, is that you would NEVER forget this truth or get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of all the other things you all do to make special Christmas memories with your own children to not take time to stop, watch the twinkling lights on your trees and feel God's presence with you.

Love, Mimi

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"I'll Be Home for Christmas!" . . .

times FOUR . . . first cousins, that is!!
Forty years ago things were new and exciting at Mama and Daddy's house on Christmas . . . my baby brother had blessed us with a new baby girl . . . a small set of bright blue eyes through which we all could view the beauty and wonder of the Season! Four years later, my first-born, a baby boy, added new excitement to Christmas and more presents under the tree as we all spent Christmas Eve at home with Mama and Daddy ~ now known as Granny and Pop! For 4 years, those 2 first cousins anxiously awaited Santa's visit curled up in bed together at the childhood home of their parents. Then a 3rd cousin was added to the bed when my baby girl arrived. Five years later, the last of the first cousins joined the group as they fought off sleep while waiting on Santa snuggled up to Gran and Pop, listening for sleigh bells and being read the Christmas Story from the Bible. Even though my brother and I lived in the same town as our parents, we packed our bags and went "Home for Christmas." Santa knew we'd be there building a tradition that would live on as long as we're on God's earth.

How did we go so quickly from these precious faces waiting on Santa to where we are today?

Christmas 2009

Although only one of the four cousins lives in their hometown (2 of them are even out of state), they'll all be home on Christmas Eve with their families of giggling little girls, roudy little boys, a college freshman, a new bride and a granddog as big as a horse. Oh, Mimi can't wait and I just bet Nana can't either!

There just might be snow . . . most definitely mistletoe . . . and Mimi's slowly getting presents under the big ole tree.

The address has changed, the grandparents have new faces and names, and the children now have children of their own; but the love that binds our hearts together still brings us "Home for Christmas." Thank you, Mama and Daddy, for giving us one of the greatest gifts . . . the gift of family!

Thank you, Cousins, for coming home!

Love always and all the muches ~ Mimi