My Top Five Christmas's EVER (Frances Louis)

After reading the previous postings, I thought I'd take a lighter approach and share my top five favorite Christmas memories. Being the romantic that I am, they are all rather sentimental and a tad 'gushy', but that's what makes them worth sharing.

5. Christmas '87: After making many (and I do mean MANY) promises to Santa to be on my best behavior until the ends of time should he deliver a sweet baby sister to our house, my family was blessed with the arrival of a new little girl a month prior to the holiday--which made for a pretty fabulous Christmas. I even delivered on the 'being good' part--for a week, anyway.

4. Christmas '92: Even though my mother did her best to hide one of the best gifts I have ever received, she could not thwart my eighth grade intuitiveness and extra sneaky hands. I found the gift a month before the holiday, but that didn't lessen the surprise. That fated Christmas I received a wooden black piccolo--and was the envy of the school band's flute section.

3. Christmas '95: No gift is ever as sweet as the first time you hear those special 'three little words' uttered--even if they are over the phone. My then boyfriend (who is now my husband--what can I say? I fell hard for the guy) gave his declaration of love---and made the Christmas of '95 the sweetest one ever.

2. Christmas '97: It took a few years (and a high school graduation to boot), but my boyfriend delivered and gave me his grandmother's diamond set in a beautiful gold band that currently resides on my left ring finger. He even got down on one knee--BEST CHRISTMAS EVER.

1. Now, I could go on and on about the Christmas's since '97 and give them all a rank on this list. The first time each of my three boys celebrated the holiday, each time our family shares the festivities with our exchange students, or the first time my husband and I enjoyed our first Christmas together all rate high, but this year, yes, the Christmas of '10 was extra special.

This year our family gathered around one strategically placed web cam and watched the birth of our future puppy--four states away. My boys (including the big one that I'm married to) were glued to the computer screen for a majority of the day--watching the large litter of pups (a whopping ten!) and bonding with their soon-to-be best friend. It is a memory I will treasure for many more Christmases to come.

Who knows what the Christmas of 2011 will bring, but until that time, I'm content with the ones I've been given...and I hope that you are as well. Many Christmas blessings and warm holiday wishes to all of you!

The Worst Christmas Ever, You Decide (Melissa Robbins)

Merry Christmas Eve to you all. When the topic of Worst Christmas Ever was suggested, I about fell out of my chair, I laughed so hard. You see, my family has a joke, “It's Christmas time. What's going to happen this year?” Since my husband, Reed and I shared our first Christmas while dating, some crazy thing has happened every year since. Like most families, over the years, we endured airport delays, illnesses, family squabbles, turkey issues, etc. When it came time to select the worst, I had several to choose from. I thought I would list our top four and let, you the readers, decide which one should be chosen as “The Worst Christmas Ever” for our family.

Heart Attack Christmas of 2003

Suppose to be a memorable Christmas because our daughter, Emma was born in 2003 and it would be her first Christmas. Reed, Emma, and I traveled to my in-laws house. On Christmas Eve, my brother-in-law had a heart attack and Reed's sister rushed him to the hospital. Reed, his aunt, and I are left to care for our niece and nephew (8 and 5) and Emma (7 months). We found ourselves taking up the role as Santa which included me gnawing on carrots (for Santa's reindeer) and eating cookies left for Santa. There was also the turkey debacle that I won't go into.

My brother-in-law had surgery Christmas day and underwent the same procedure that Reed's dad died from several years before. Stressful! I'm happy to report that BIL's surgery went fine and we celebrated a couple of days later, so maybe not the worst Christmas.

Helicopter Ride of Christmas '05

Again, suppose to be a memorable Christmas because our son, Duncan would be celebrating his first Christmas. Even more so, because by October, Duncan already had two open heart surgeries, so we will thrilled he was alive to share it with us.

After his second surgery, Duncan went home with a chest drain. Imagine a curvy straw with holes in it. We hoped Duncan would have the drain out by Christmas. Two weeks before, the nurses debated whether or not to remove the tube. They decided to wait. Duncan disagreed and pulled it out just enough to cause problems. A drain should be pulled out by a trained profession, not a six month old. We left Emma with neighbors and rushed Duncan to the ER. There was not a single doctor who had a clue what to do with a baby and a chest drain or who wanted to take charge. So after the ER doctor finally pulled out the tube, we all took an elevator ride to the top of the hospital. Imagine if you will, Reed and I looking out the window of the door to the roof of the hospital, as our son is wheeled onto a helicopter and flies off to Kansas City. Could one of us go with him? No. No room. Could I hop into a car and ride up to KC that very minute? No. It was midnight and the ground covered with snow and for those of you who have driven along the stretch of road between Wichita and Kansas City know that would have been a bad idea. I had to wait until the next morning before heading to the hospital hoping my son was okay by the time I got there.

Duncan remained at the children's hospital for a while and the doctors and nurses let us go home just before Christmas. I was thankful we didn't find ourselves opening presents around Duncan's hospital bed instead of a tree, so maybe not the worst Christmas.

Dehydration Christmas 2009

Let's jump forward a few years to 2009. I was 9 months pregnant with our fourth kid and Reed and I decided that with our track record for Christmases, that we would stay home for Christmas. This proved to be a wise decision. On Christmas Eve, Emma came down with a stomach bug. By the time, my parents and sister showed up, we were all sick. I got so dehydrated that my stomach cramped and then the cramps occurred every two minutes. Uh, oh.

Reed rushed me to the hospital. What's Christmas without a hospital visit? The nurses just thought I had the flu, but once they got Gwinn and I hooked up to the monitors and I started dry heaving, they changed their minds. Gwinn was getting stressed. The nurse filled me with two bags of saline stuff and put an oxygen mask on my face.

Do you know what happens when you get dehydrated and are 36 weeks pregnant? The baby decides “Forget this, I am out of here,” so it was a good thing we came to the hospital. Once I was re-hydrated, the contractions stopped.

I checked out of the hospital the next day. Emma was bummed we didn’t bring Gwinn back with us and my poor parents and sister got sick too, but Gwinn came a month later two days before her due date, so maybe not the worst Christmas ever.

Turkey Debacle Christmas 2008

I believe this Christmas may be the worst Christmas ever for our family. It is certainly the most infamous and most talked about. You may have even heard about it. It made the local news.

My in-laws were visiting us. Reed rose early to smoke our turkey for Christmas dinner. Just before lunch, I took Rebecca and my in-laws shopping for the after Christmas sales. Reed stayed home with Emma and Duncan. Reed called a little while later.

“Mel, come home.”


“Come home now.”

“Reed, what's wrong?”

“I set the house on fire.”

“You what?!”

When I got home, I saw several fire trucks, two ambulances, a news van, and many of my neighbors gawking at our house. Reed dumped ashes from the smoker into the plastic garbage can outside. Bad idea. The fire went from the garbage can to the garage and up the wall of the house to the attic. A neighbor saw the smoke and fire on his way to work. He called 911 and rang our door bell. Reed and the kids were in the basement and had no idea about the fire. Reed put the dogs outside, but our cat, Smokey (his name has a whole new meaning, now) hid. The firefighters eventually found him and gave him some oxygen.

The roof was toast (pun not intended), but most of our stuff survived. There was more water and smoke damage than fire damage. Emma’s room got the brunt of the damage to the bedrooms. All her new Christmas toys were gone along with her other toys. Luckily, her favorite bear survived. He had taken cover under Emma's backpack in the kitchen.

With weather, insurance squabbles, and contractors, we were out of our house for eight months while our house was repaired. At least, we were in the house for Christmas 2009.

So, readers, which of our Christmases should be named the Worst Christmas Ever? Heart Attack Christmas of 2003, Helicopter Ride of '05, Dehydration of 2009, or Turkey Debacle Christmas of 2008?

Oh, and if you are curious, we have already had Christmas Stomach Bug of 2010. Quite tame compared to other Christmases. No hospital visits. ;0)

I Remember Lexi (Penny Rader)

2006 was a grandchildren bonanza for me. Two grandbabies were born days apart in June and one more arrived mid-September. There was definitely a lot of joy that year. There was also fear. And sorrow.

One day, while witnessing my daughter Kathy's sonogram, we received some frightening news. Lexi would be born with a rare disability. Her femur bones were missing. We drew some deep breaths and bombarded heaven with prayers, certain we could get through this. Then Lexi arrived two months early. It didn't look good. Her lungs weren't fully developed. I can't find the words to explain how scared I was, we all were. My dh was in Houston because a grandson had been born four days earlier. I had to ask him to come home because we didn't know how long we'd have Lexi with us.

Lexi was a scrapper. She hung in there and fought for her life. When she was a few weeks old she was sent to Children's Mercy hospital in Kansas City. She had to have a tracheostomy to help her breathe. I can't thank the staff of Children's Mercy and the Ronald McDonald Houses enough for all they did for us while we were in KC. Lexi was finally able to return to Wesley hospital here in Wichita about a month later. I forget how many times she battled pneumonia. It became a routine for me to go to the hospital after work and read or sing softly to her for a while. I always kept a bag packed just in case we'd have to make another trip to KC.

That little girl had spunk. She had her favorites among the staff. She'd pretend to be asleep when a doctor she wasn't fond of came into the room. I've been told she also pulled the same stunt when they came in for physical therapy. After they left her room she'd open one eye and look around.

She came home from the hospital the end of November. My daughter's living room became Lexi Central. Her ventilator was pretty noisy. Home health nurses were on hand nearly round the clock. She made another trip or two back to hospital because of pneumonia. Because she had survived those first scary days I fully expected my little sweetie to keep chugging along. I was looking forward to watching her grow and amaze us all. Then, on December 11, minutes after I had gotten up to get ready for work, the phone rang. It was Kathy, asking me to come to the hospital. She told me Lexi had died. I couldn't wrap my brain around that. Sometimes I still can't.

She'd be four now. I look at Liam and Jessalyn, the other grandbabies born that year, and wonder what Lexi'd be like now. I'm sure she's giving the good Lord a great deal of pleasure and joy. I picture her laughing and running and keeping Him on his toes.

Something positive did come out of our loss. My daughter and Lexi's daddy formed a foundation in memory of Lexi. It's called Lexi's LAMB. We provide toys and activities for children in the hospital. On Christmas Eve we deliver presents in person to the children who are unable to go home. This year we'll also be giving small care packages to the parents. Just a few small things we hope will make their hospital stay a bit easier.

Till we meet again, Lexi girl. I just want you to know how much you were loved and how grateful I am for the five months we had with you. I miss you like crazy, punkin. I still haven't completely unpacked that bag.

Tis the Season

Usually at this time of year I'd be going out of my mind with trying to remember what I know I must have forgotten. But not this year. This year, back in March, I signed on to get daily digests. At the time I thought I was being ridiculous because I couldn't find time to write so why would I add one more thing to do? But, I was working with my personal technology pets--this time an ipod. Ipods play music (mp3 downloads) as well as videos, movies, pictures--depending upon the model and the skill of the owner. I'm not skilled. I only bought the thing so I could listen to my Romance Writer's of America tapes from the 2004 conference. Yes, I know it is 2010. Didn't you notice I'm not skilled? Anyway, I bought the ipod--same model as my elder daughter so that she could talk me through any snags. She's good about helping and keeps reminding me that the internet is a wonderful thing. Google anything you need and there is likely to be a tutorial to learn the skill--I'm not kidding. I recently was looking up sewing machine models that would most likely have the power to mend jeans. There were jean mending tutorials all over the internet. Who knew? Oh, and did I also mention I have a hard time staying on topic?

I heard you roll your eyes.

Where was I? Oh, yea. The ipod and the conference tapes. I wanted to listen to the tapes in the car. The CDs would only work in the computer. When I'm at the computer I have other, more pressing things to do than listen to conference tapes. So, I downloaded them into the computer--that took a bit. Did you remember I'm not skilled? Then I managed to do the deed and get them on a cd to listen to in the car. Duh. Then I discovered that the 300hours of conference would need that many and more cds because they're only 80 minutes long. Craaaaap!. Again, my technology stuck its tongue out at me. I swear tech pets are like mules. They will refuse to cooperate and then suddenly do so when you least expect it. My wonderful friend's husband has two mules. They are worthless unless they are paid a lot of attention when THEY want it. On their off times they bite the bulls and annoy them. Oops. Off topic.

Again, I heard you roll your eyes...quit that!

Where was I? Oh, yea. So, I bought the ipod for the conference tapes. After hours of attempting to get the technomules to cooperate, I finally had the conference loaded into the ipod and then my ears got sore listening to the earbuds (why they are called earbuds I cannot conceive as I swear they were trying to do naughty things to my ears). Then, remember daughter one? She mentioned that if I had half a brain (Eureka! I do!!) I would install a transmitter to transmit the ipod sounds to the radio and listen in full comfort.

I purchased another techopet.

This one turned out to work easily and well...even for me.

I began to listen to the tapes which works out so very well since it is forty-five minutes one way to the bank or grocery store. Then. I listened to how to get more time to write. The writer recommended The principals found there help keep the real world from swallowing whole all the time you have for the writing world. It works.

My Christmas is not only on schedule, but I have time to pamper myself a little and find things I've been putting off getting done. Last week I was to have participated in a Book-in-a-week push. I had pledged five new pages. But I found something more, much more. I am now over my brain freeze on my work-in-progress (WIP). I edited and had such a good time with my story, I have nothing to show, but a grin. No new pages, but I fixed the devil out of the ones I had.

I have achieved a degree of calmness and best of all--hope. This next year is going to be one of the best I've had in a long time in my imaginary world of writing. I'm setting some serious goals. I haven't been as productive since our long ago, worthy president, Pat made us set goals. I was surprised at how many writerly goals I met that year. The thinking, selecting, and writing down of them caused them to be stored in the silent but working half of my brain. I'm setting goals for 2011. Professional goals. Technopet goals. (Yup, they're going to be trained or else.) has taught me how to get the most out of my time.

You may think this is an odd thing to write about at Christmas, but these experiences, work, goals, and opportunities, missed and taken, are also the things that make up a life and reasons to celebrate. Creating an eddy of calm in a fast-paced world so that I can create in writing is a great joy. So, I say, God bless my daughter, my technopets, google, and the author that steered me towards Oh, and while I'm at it. Have a very, very, merry Christmas with toasty warm toes and tight tummies from eating lots and lots of 'good stuff'!!

I'll Do Some Caroling

Here is my gift to my fellow WARA members and any other of our blog followers at this special time of year: A new Blossom story. Also, here is a picture of the "Blossom" Christmas tree in my office.

“Rockin’ around the Christmas tree,” Blossom moo-sang in her loudest voice, swaying her flank—which, she admitted, could stand a little trimming down—from side to side. “At the Christmas party hop.”

For Elsie’s benefit, Blossom did a fancy little hop, first the front legs and then the back legs. Something she’d perfected in the last few days. Much, of course, to Elsie’s continual eye-rolling at her practicing.

Elsie gave her typical harrumph and turned the other way in the field. No “party” mood for Her Highness, Blossom thought with a smile. The cranky Jersey paid as little notice to the whole holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year as possible. Same thing every year. But not Blossom. Oh no. She loooved holidays, especially Christmas.

“You will get a sentimental feeling when you hear voices singing.” Happily singing away, she strolled off toward the corner of the field where Ferdinand would, hopefully, be waiting to greet her. To heck with Elsie and her sour mood. The same went for the foolish dozen other cows who she knew yearned to be happy and heart-free like herself, yet who were wary of crossing Elsie. She could hold one devil of a grudge. Most cows didn’t want to risk facing it day-in and day-out, but Blossom didn’t mind at all.

“Let’s be jolly.” She did another zippy little hoof two-step, bopping her head around in pure delight. “Everyone’s dancing merrily.” Okay she didn’t know all of the words to the song she’d heard Farmer Sam’s daughters singing occasionally, but did it matter. No.

“Let the Christmas Spirit ring,” she mooed and picked up her pace. The wind really was kind of biting this morning as it blew across the snow-free field.

She shivered and breathed in the cold air. Instinct told her there would soon be snow covering this land. Most of the herd—including Elsie the opinionated—hated snow. Blossom didn’t particularly like being cold when she made her daily round about the field, but she would venture forth in rain, sleet, hail, snow… Well, in most any inclement weather to go see her beloved Ferdinand.

Thinking of her handsome one-ton prime bull had her almost skipping now. “We sing a love song…Your nose is a chilling…We’ll frolic and play…walking in a winter wonderland.”

She hesitated and blinked. Were those words right? Had she combined songs? Did it matter? Nope!

A familiar deep bellow pulled her from her wandering thoughts. Warmth curled through her. Ferdinand.

Donning her most beatific smile, she sped toward him. Her hunka-hunka burning love had already nudged down the weak part of the fence so that she could join him. He stood watching her, proud head held high, anticipation dancing in his large brown eyes. Heat, too. Naughty, naughty bull. She knew just what he was thinking, wanting.

“You should play harder to get.” Elsie’s words of disgust so often spoken to her crawled through her thoughts. “He only wants you for one thing.”

Not exactly true, although Blossom knew he really did enjoy that one thing. So what! So did she. But she also knew he really liked spending time with her. How many times had he stood patiently letting her babble on—and she did have a tendency to babble at times—about this or that? Did he ever make fun of her spinning tales of fancy? No. Did she manage to get him past his stoic, too serious moods with a bout of teasing or tickling that special spot just behind his ear with her tongue? You betcha!
“Last Christmas I gave you my heart…I gave it to someone special,” she sang, her heart fairly bursting with love. Her hoofs danced over the rest of the distance between them.

“Ah, my sweet Blossom,” Ferdinand rumbled, tenderness lighting his eyes. “You own my heart as well.”

As she stepped carefully over the downed fence and snuggled next to him, he heaved a relieved sigh. “Merry Christmas, my love.”

She tucked the words inside her and playfully nibbled at his ear. All was right with her world. “Back at you, my love.”

Oh, How I Love Christmas

First, let me set the stage. For many of my years I've lived seven miles from a gas station, twenty-two miles from a loaf of bread, and forty-five miles from a movie theatre--where they show only one show at a time. I go to town generally once a week on my 'town day'. This may give me a skewed perspective. Maybe.
Second, my birthday is the twenty-third of December. That gives me an extra holiday during this holiday season. In our home as I grew up, we received one present for our birthday and a cake. But the real present for me was that we didn't have to do any work on our birthdays. We could ask other family members to wait on us and as long as we were nice about it, they would. It was like being Queen for a day. And with the twenty-third as my birthday, I rarely had to go to school and as an adult have always taken the day off, paid or not. After all, if you can't celebrate your own day then what good is your life? As you can see, I hold that as a minimum celebration. And to this day, do not turn a tap on my birthday--unless I really, really want to. As I believe I mentioned. That's an extra holiday for me. Yippee!!
Last, Christmas comes at exactly the right time--the middle of winter. How does it get better than that? We can't go out an play so why not have great food, open presents, and see family and friends we haven't had time to see for a while inside the house. And the best part? They're all bunched up in one place and easy to find!!
Without Christmas, how would the merchants know when to bring out the new models of washers and dryers? Without Christmas, who would think up special songs to sing? Without Christmas how would some of us find jobs in the dead of winter for money to tide us through? How would stores know when to fill the shelves to bursting, decorate, and advertise to get a chance at our money to be the equivalent of their 'harvest'?
Without Christmas we'd never see all the new toys because we wouldn't know when to go looking for them. And that would be a sad, sad, tragedy.
Oh, and the food. Most of us can't really afford not to have all the eating done in one little six week season. My goodness, we'd be able to tuck our heads and roll to town. No need for a car at all! Without a Christmas season there wouldn't be china to pass down. If we used it year round it wouldn't have the proper reverence we give it as special. We'd be using it for everyday and chip the h$ll out of it.
Thank God for Christmas for without His input we'd be completely hedonistic. Because of His influence in different ways through different religions we learn to be tolerant and treat others during this particular season as we would like others to treat us. And should we be some of those who don't believe in Him. It doesn't matter, for the attitude of benevolence still surrounds us all.
Thank the good providence that Christmas exists. For it brings a poignant sadness remembering those who aren't here with us. For without a bit of sour, we can't see what joy we really have or have had or need to make.
Oh, how I love Christmas.

Past Christmases: Memorable in Many Ways

AS a child, there were good holidays and bad ones.  Like everyone else, I had good ones and bad ones, but they were all memorable.

Six years old and in first grade.  Back in the day when clothes from the dry cleaners came in long, paper bags, I really liked my teacher.  She was beautiful.  She was fun.  She was a nun.  And she came up with the neatest idea for a gift we could each make for our parents.  We each would lie down on a dry cleaning bag, and she would draw around us, then we would get to "decorate" ourselves with crayons.  (Hair, facial features, even our clothes!)  The day I was to be drawn around, I didn't go to school.  I had the mumps, and I didn't make it back to school again until after the Christmas holiday.  No nifty gift for my parents, only pain and looking like a squirrel ready to carry the latest haul of nuts up a tree.  Not my favorite Christmas.

Seven years old and in second grade.  I really didn't like my teacher.  She was a nun, too.  And she didn't like me, because I had earaches and couldn't always go out to recess---doctor's orders.  That meant finding a place or someone to watch over me, while everyone else went outside in the cold.  That year for Christmas we made our parents Christmas cards.  We began with our choice of red or green construction paper, folded in half.  Sister Mary Christette (or however it was spelled) would hold the folded, colored paper against the wall with a stencil of our choice over it.  We each then sprayed "snow" on our card, revealing a beautiful, snowy image when the stencil was removed.  I stepped up and was handed the can of spray snow.  Holding it out toward my card with the pretty angel stencil, I pushed the button.  Only the button wasn't pointed directly at the card.  It was pointed at Sister Mary Christette.  In her long black habit, which was now covered with white snow.  To say she was angry would be an understatement.

One Christmas was definitely not one that I'd want to skip.  Three older kids lived next door to us, and they were like the brother and sisters I didn't have.  One year for Christmas, they gave me a 3x5 index card that read:  "We didn't finish the boxes of cereal fast enough, so Linda will be a little late arriving."  They'd saved boxtops to get me a doll that represented Danny Thomas's daughter, Linda, on the TV show Make Room for Daddy.  I cried and cried, I was so happy.  Another year the two older girls were making a cute little quilted skirt and vest for their cousin for Christmas.  When Christmas arrived, I learned that the "cousin" they'd made the roller skating outfit for was me.

My own children have their own memories of our Christmases, and now we're all making new memories for their children.  I hope your memories of Christmas are as good as ours!

The Grave Christmas by J Vincent

Grave ( noun) l. A burial place in the ground or other place of internment 2. last resting place 3. death 4. the end of something or as an adjective 1. serious in manner 2. Needing serious thought. All of these definitions apply to my Christmas 1976, the worst Christmas thus far in my life. I was tempted to write that it wasn’t the most terrible. There were moments of laughter, flashes of joy and Germanic stoicism demanded the denouement. But there were moments only “worst” can describe.

Sunday, the 19th we loaded the kids in the car and headed to see friends. On the spur of the moment we decided to stop by my parents’ home as my dad hadn’t been well. When I walked into my parent’s bedroom I had the strangest sensation I’ve ever had. A chill went up my spine—before then I always thought that expression was more figurative than literal but never again. The thought flashed through my mind that I would never see my father alive again. I shoved it aside as impossible. After all Mom said he was better; that plans were on track for our usual Christmas Eve family party.

When we got home that night there was a message on the answering machine that Dad had gone into the hospital. Around 3 AM the phone woke us. A call at that hour is never good news but I was astounded when it was the hospital, that my father was dying and they could not reach my mother. My hand shook as I hung up the phone and told my husband. I dialed Mom’s number. She answered almost at once. I told her the hospital wanted us to come in and that I’d meet her there. After calling my brothers’ and getting our neighbors to watch the kids we headed in. By the time we got there we were told that Dad was on a ventilator but there was no sign of life. Shortly thereafter the machines were turned off and he was declared dead.
Because of the nearness of Christmas he had to be buried on the 23rd. My mom, brothers, sister, and I met at the mortuary to pick out the coffin later on the 20th. Somehow everything that needed to be done got done.

My dad had wanted a wake so Mom insisted there be one. He was almost the last in the community to be brought home for a night vigil after the rosary at church. Between rosaries we reminisced. I heard many new stories about Dad but the very very late night didn’t help anything.

The morning of the 23rd was clear and cold. When I had my kids (ages 3, 5, 7) ready to go I picked up the three year old and followed my husband and the other two towards the door. As I passed our Christmas tree—a 7’ long needled cut pine. My daughter, on my hip, reached out and grabbed for a branch. To this day I can close my eyes and see the tree falling in slow motion and hear the tinkle crinkle of breaking ornaments. I don’t remember what I thought, just that I kept on walking. The actual funeral is a blur of memories. Rather unreal. Picking up the tree that night and setting it as right as we could was very real.

Christmas Eve was surreal. Mom insisted we have our traditional family party just as if nothing had happened. There’s nothing more bizarre than forty children and adults in a house celebrating Christmas while ignoring the funeral that just took place. Despite the under laying atmosphere the kids had a good time with gifts galore. There were even moments for the adults with matching blue Stetsons all around and Looney Tune sweaters.

We headed home early that evening as our oldest was to be in the procession to bring the baby Jesus to the crib. We had everyone dressed and I was brushing out our eldest’s long hair when I notice a red dot on her neck. Checking her face and arms I found a few more. I had never seen chicken pox before but I knew what it was. She couldn’t go to church that evening or the next day. There was no choice but for either my husband or I to go to church that night and the other in the morning. I won the toss. It was the most miserable experience I’ve ever had. I had never before been to a Christmas Eve Mass without my husband since we married. For that space of time I couldn’t count my blessings, only my lacks.

The patina of time has softened the memories. We even laugh about that falling Christmas tree (It really didn't look to bad after we set it rights -see photo above) and the kids getting chicken pox one after the other. What I did learn that Christmas is that all things change; that everyone is mortal; and that the birth of the baby Jesus is to be celebrated no matter what. He after all, gets me through the “worsts” in my life.

To those who are wondering (tisking) about the title—I mean no disrespect by it. It just seemed fitting in a straight-faced, tongue-in-cheek, and deliciously wicked sort of way. Wishing you all a Merry Blessed Christmas!

TWELVE DAYS by Reese Mobley

Trying to pick out a favorite holiday memory would be like trying to pick out a favorite child. Impossible. I love them all equally—although usually not at the same time. Each of my Christmas memories are a bundle of good and bad, bittersweet and sugary sweet. From the memorable Christmas mornings when I was a kid to each holiday we welcomed a new baby or grandbaby into our lives all the way to the first Christmases spent without the ones we love.

Life is good like that. So, feeling blessed beyond belief, I did what every reasonably normal person does when feeling nostalgic. I took liberties and composed a song. Feel free to sing along as I present my revised version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

On the First day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a new-ew the-sau-rrr-us.

On the Second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, two mocha lattes and a new-ew the-sau-rrr-us.

On the Third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, three back rubs, two mocha lattes and a new-ew the-sau-rrr-us.

On the Fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, four reams of paper, three back rubs, two mocha lattes and a new-ew the-sau-rrr-us.

On the Fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, five gold Rita’s, four reams of paper, three back rubs, two mocha lattes and a new-ew the-sau-rrr-us.

On the Sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, six ink cartridges, five gold Rita’s, four reams of paper, three back rubs, two mocha lattes and a new-ew the-sau-rrr-us.

On the Seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, seven new plot lines, six ink cartridges, five gold Rita’s, four reams of paper, three back rubs, two mocha lattes and a new-ew the-sau-rrr-us.

On the Eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eight hours of quiet, seven new plot lines, six ink cartridges, five gold Rita’s, four reams of paper, three back rubs, two mocha lattes and a new-ew the sau-rrr-us.

On the Ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, nine muses dancing, eight hours of quiet, seven new plot lines, six ink cartridges, five gold Rita’s, four reams of paper, three back rubs, two mocha lattes and a new-ew the-sau-rrr-us.

On the Tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, ten go-od pag-es, nine muses dancing, eight hours of quiet, seven new plot lines, six ink cartridges, five gold Rita’s, four reams of paper, three back rubs, two mocha lattes and a new-ew the-sau-rrr-us.

On the Eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eleven extra days ‘till deadline, ten go-od pag-es, nine muses dancing, eight hours of quiet, seven new plot lines, six ink cartridges, five gold Rita’s, four reams of paper, three back rubs, two mocha lattes and a new-ew the-sau-rrr-us.

On the Twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve Godiva Chocolates, eleven extra days ‘till deadline, ten go-od pag-es, nine muses dancing, eight hours of quiet, seven new plot lines, six ink cartridges, five gold Rita’s, four reams of paper, three back rubs, two mocha lattes and a new-ew the-sau-rrr-us.

Merry Christmas!

Hugs, Reese