Tag Archives: holiday

Farmhouse Christmases Past

2014-05-10-16-03-25

Several years ago, we stopped celebrating Christmas at Grandpa and Grandma’s farmhouse because they moved “to town” where they could have more help. The memories thirty Christmases before that are etched deeply in my memories. (OK, to be honest, I probably don’t actually remember the first two.)
When we drove through their tiny town and followed the curving highway out the other side, we would look across the empty fields to see the white barn. As kids, we always tried to be the first to shout, “I see the barn!” We would drive down the long gravel drive to park near the end of the sidewalk that led to the back door. As we unloaded food and gifts to carry them up the sidewalk, Grandpa would come out the door wearing his puffy warm vest over his work overalls and greet us with a loud “Merry Christmas!” and hugs at the top of the stairs. Sometimes we arrived and stayed several days before Christmas and some years we went only for the day, but the greeting was always the same.

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When Joy is Hard

Joy at Home
Sometimes the Christmas season is holly jolly, merry, and bright. Sometimes Christmas is hard and sad. It hurts when things do not go as expected, when we miss people who are not with us for one reason or another, and sometimes when traditions change.

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What I’m Into: December 2015

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This was the first Christmas that I was teaching college instead of working at the high school, so it was nice to have the longest break I have had since I graduated from college. As I told Brian, this was the best Christmas I have had since we got married. The first Christmas, I had a cold and then threw my back out by coughing too hard. The second Christmas, I had a cold that turned into a sinus infection and sent me to urgent care two days before Christmas (my mom also got the flu that year, so she and dad both missed out on our family celebration). This year, none of us were sick so everyone made it and seemed to enjoy our time together.

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A Blu-ish Christmas & Happy New Year

Blu-ish Christmas

Ever since our last day of school on December 19, I have been on an unplanned hiatus from blogging and most social media. I caught a cold before school ended for the break but thought I was getting better. The first two nights of our Christmas trip to visit Brian’s side of the family in Tulsa, I spiked a moderate fever. On Monday, I went to an urgent care center and was diagnosed with a sinus infection. Even with three prescriptions, it took me nearly a week to feel remotely normal again. I still have a cough but have much more energy and no longer sound like a frog when I talk.

Christmas Eve Bows

Off My Game

Once on antibiotics, I was not contagious so I still joined in on game night, dinners, and other gatherings with friends and family. Much of the week was fun but I felt mentally and physically fuzzy. I slept in, took naps, and sat around watching Doctor Who. If I saw you in the few days before Christmas and seemed sad or cranky, I just did not feel well and struggled to think straight. I was so out of sorts, I didn’t even drink coffee for two or three days because the taste was completely unappetizing.

Christmas

On Christmas Eve morning, we found out my mom had the flu. Since she and Dad did not want to get anyone sick, especially my elderly grandparents or two-year-old nephew, they decided to stay home for Christmas. On Christmas Day, Brian and I had breakfast and stockings with his parents his sister, Shanna, and then drove to my aunt & uncle’s house three hours away. In Ottawa, we celebrated with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, five siblings (counting the ones who married in), and a nephew.

Christmas Day Prep
Christmas Day Eli

Since it was on our way, Brian and I picked up Dad and Mom’s gifts for everyone else and dropped off the gifts to them on our way back to Tulsa at the end of the day. We also Facetimed with them so they could see and chat with everyone during gift-opening time. We intended to stay with my parents from Christmas Day until Monday but they suggested we visit another time, when they are less contagious. Brian and I (and Cola) came home on the 26th and have spent several relaxing days at home, resting and recuperating. It has been very nice!

Cola sleeps with her new toy

Happy New Year!

By New Year’s Eve, Brian and I were feeling much better. We rang in 2015 by playing board games with a few college students who were in town. We taught them how to play our version of Golf-the-card-game, played a Battle of the Sexes card game, and then split into groups to play either Settlers of Catan or Life.

How were your Christmas and New Year holidays?

 

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Lows & Highs: A Cold & A Christmas List

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.


Lows & Highs: A Cold & A Christmas List

Low: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

I have had a cold with major congestion for the past six days. It has reminded me how much I enjoy being able to taste my food, breathe easily, and hear clearly.

High: My Grown-Up Christmas List

I am not stressed out about my “To-Do Before Christmas” list. Even though I have had less time and less energy (because of work and my cold, respectively), Brian has been working hard to help with tasks that I do not have to do myself. He has been grocery shopping, wrapping presents, helping with meals, and much more while I bake cookies and make other seasonal preparations.

What are a low and a high from your week?

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Lows & Highs: Dancing & Sleeping In

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

 

Missed Sleeping Opportunity

On Wednesday, I was dragging and had to drag myself out of bed. It was not until I was almost to school that I realized it was a late start day and I did not have to be at school until nine. Instead of driving all the way back home, I drove a couple blocks farther to my favorite coffee shop, sipped a gingerbread Americano, and read a book. I really would have liked to sleep in, though!

Party Time!

We have had lots of seasonal social activities this week!

On Thursday, we met with our Barton students for our last Campus Christian Fellowship Bible study of 2014. We talked about celebration and treasuring experiences in our hearts and what we have noticed God doing this semester. I loved hearing some of the students share!

On Friday, Brian and I had a three-part date night. First, we went to the college Christmas party and visited with some of his coworkers with their spouses. Second, we had dinner at The Page. Finally, the highlight of the evening – and my whole week – was the Jingle Bell Swing! We danced and chatted and watched the Barton Hilltop Singers (show choir).

Jingle Bell Swing Date Night Tickets
Us on Jingle Bell Swing Date Night

On Saturday, we had First Friday Game Night that we rescheduled from Friday so we could have date night at the dance. Boy, was the house packed! We had raucous games going at two different tables at one point.

College Student Game Night
College Student Game Night

On Sunday, I played with toddlers in the church nursery and we packed our table full of college students again for lunch.

College Student Sunday Lunch

College Student Sunday Lunch

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What I’m Into: November 2014

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Techie

The #FireworkPeople community has brought an uplifting, supportive tone to my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I have enjoyed meeting the other ladies as we participate in Twitter parties where we share how we would answer various discussion questions. Not one to miss out on an opportunity to encourage others, my mom has joined the group, too. I think this is more activity than her Twitter account has ever seen!

I know I have mentioned DesignLoveFest’s free wallpapers before, but these are new ones and I am into them this month! Naturally, my favorite is “But First, Coffee.” Which ones do you like?

Food

If you have not noticed, I am very much a hot drinks kind of girl! In November, I have been sipping almond milk hot chocolate with homemade chocolate syrup and sometimes candy cane syrup, too. I still make powdered hot chocolate for everyone else, so this dairy-free version is just for me.

Random Fun

Idina Menzel and Michael Buble’s duet of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” made much less creepy by changing the lyrics and having two adorable child actors lip sync them.

Entertainment

On Netflix: I got hooked on Bletchley Circle and then found out the show ended after only seven episodes! It is a smart mystery drama about four women who worked in code-breaking during WWII and, in post-war Britain, they stumble into solving mysteries that stump law enforcement.

Speaking of Idina, her Christmas album Holiday Wishes has been a fun treat, but I have only been listening for the past few days!

Reading

I finished the predictable but sweet Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. Now I am reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and Along Came a Wolf (The Yellow Hoods, #1) by Adam Dreece.

What are you into this month?

I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

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Tradition, Tradition!

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Every Monday, I post and answer a selection from my collection of good questions. This week’s question is “What tradition do you wish more people would follow?”

What Tradition Do You Wish More People Would Follow?

The Thanksgiving/Christmas Divide

Does this question make anyone else think of the song “Tradition” from “Fiddler on the Roof” or is that just me? Speaking of music, I wish more people would save Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. As a kid, I eagerly awaited the start of Christmas music on the drive home from Thanksgiving at our grandparents’ house. Along with my parents and siblings, we blasted Mannheim Steamroller from the van speakers and sang the instrumental parts or drummed along on our seats until Dad’s ears got tired or he got a headache. It was a fun, simple way to start the Christmas season with music we loved and anticipated. These days, it seems like stores begin playing Christmas music as soon as Halloween is over, which is far too soon in my opinion.

Now It’s Your Turn

Take the questions and ask your friends or family. I would love to hear your answers in the comments (seriously. that’s why I ask, after all)! If you have suggestions of questions for me to include, let me know.

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Lows & Highs: Exercise & Dirt

Low: This week, my low was the exercising-so-hard-I feel-like-I’ll-die feeling when Brian decided to rev up the pace on our Saturday morning walk. There are no pictures, but I was definitely hot pink, sweaty, and out of breath when we finished shaving a whole minute off our usual minutes-per-mile pace!

High: We celebrated Fathers’ Day with my family and I taught Eli how to use his new sand toys. He may have also learned a “fun game” from Aunt Abby that involves using the scoop to catapult dirt and sticks across the grass… he was going to put them in his mouth, though!

UncleBrian&Eli

Look how big Eli has gotten!

Eli&Toys

One happy toddler!

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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When Traditions Change

BowlingThanksgiving is a little different every year, but many of us have our traditions that remain the same. For years, my family has had celebrated early Thanksgiving with Dad’s side of the extended family and Colorado Thanksgiving with Mom’s side (and whichever of us siblings who could go). Last year, Brian and I were dating and he had been looking forward to celebrating with his family in Oklahoma while I was excited to celebrate with mine in Colorado (especially since all my siblings came!). We agreed since we were dating and not married, it was more important to us to celebrate with our respective families than together.

This year was different because Brian and I planned to spend the holiday with our Oklahoma family and my two married siblings planned to visit their in-laws too. Then my Colorado grandparents moved to assisted living in Wyoming and my parents came along when I took my new husband to meet them over a long summer weekend. The family decided summer visits are nicer and easier in some ways, particularly since we have to drive further now. Suddenly, Thanksgiving was different for my parents too.

My new Oklahoma family had their traditional dinner on Thanksgiving Day and some of us played games afterward. Brian and I taught them how to play Golf (the card game) because it works for odd numbers of players and does not take long to learn. Later that weekend, we went bowling with the extended family. (From what I am told, that has not been a tradition in the past.) Most of the family did not know my opinion of bowling, though, and I think some of them felt bad for me at first because I bowl badly… very badly. In one of our two games, I scored under fifty. Nevertheless, I find bowling to be relaxing, hilarious fun because I know I am not skilled at it; there is absolutely no pressure to play well.  I like the social aspect of chatting with other players while waiting for our turns and cheering when someone has a good throw. I also enjoy having no expectation of excelling, so I am never disappointed with my score.

Brian and I have only been married for six months, so we are still experiencing some of each other’s family traditions for the first time and figuring out which ones fit our family. When I was younger, I was very attached to traditions because I liked life to be consistent and familiar and comfortable. As an adult, I still enjoy some traditions but also have fun trying new ones, experiencing the way others celebrate, simply making up new traditions for our new family of two.

What are some of your holiday traditions?

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