Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Season of Memories

We began the holiday season this year by  celebrating Thanksgiving at our home. My husband and I put up and decorated a tree in our living room and another in our kitchen. When it comes to decorating our Christmas trees we  are sentimental and nostalgic in how we do it. We have collected ornaments since we were married and though we cannot fit all of them on our trees, we put as many on as we can each year. It brings pleasure to us as we place each one on the tree, remembering how it was acquired, whether purchased, handmade and/or given to us by family or friends.

The very first ornaments we purchased are the red, blue and gold ones pictured in the photos below.  My husband was deployed overseas with the U.S.M.C. the first year of our marriage. These ornaments, along with some tinsel garland and some icicles were about the only thing we had for decorations on our first Christmas tree the following year after he came home from overseas. They are quite worn after all these years. I can still remember what a sweet Christmas we spent in that drafty little rented duplex in Jacksonville, North Carolina near the base where my husband was stationed. These days we place them farther back in the tree where they are less likely to be broken and where they reflect the light from the Christmas tree and are less likely to get broken.
Vintage Ornaments  Placed  Deep in the Tree to Reflect Light
One of our First Christmas Ornaments as a Married Couple
Our Vintage Ornaments from Christmas 1969
There had been four boxes of these ornaments but in the early years, when sweet little hands began to help decorate the tree, some of the ornaments were shattered and one of the container boxes has been, much to my regret, discarded. Can you believe I still store them in the original boxes that I have patched and taped together over and over again? The cardboard has become so brittle and the inserts have pretty much fallen apart. The cellophane which once covered the "windows" of the boxes has now been replaced with plastic wrap. The boxes indicate that the ornaments were made in the U.S.A., a rare thing in this day and time!  I still cannot bring myself to throw the boxes away after forty-five years!

Vintage Ornaments in Crumbling Boxes

Tattered Vintage Ball Ornaments from Christmas 1969
In the past, I have purchased kits to make gingerbread houses and had my grandchildren over to decorate them. This year we did something different. My two daughters, five grandchildren and I met  at my daughter's home to make gingerbread houses. Technically, however, we did not use gingerbread.  I raided my pantry to find some boxes to cut up and use as foundations for our houses, which we covered with graham crackers, icing and candy.  Following is a picture of some of them, after I cut, taped and stapled them together to form the foundations.
Foundations for Our Gingerbread Houses
The grandchildren used a lot of imagination and had fun sampling the icing "stucco" and candies. They all had so much fun. We used lots and lots of icing, many graham crackers and a vast array of candies.
Constructing Christmas Gingerbread Houses
They got really creative with their designs. Jewel's was loaded with decorations!
Getting Creative with our Gingerbread Houses
This little one was very proud of her creation!
Creativity in Progress
Our oldest, Glenn, got quite serious with his house. He built his own foundation. He wanted a bigger and taller house than the others. He covered the back of his house with ice cream sticks.
This is Serious Business for Our Grandson Glenn
Our Oldest Grandchild with his Gingerbread House Creation
My daughters had just as much fun as their children. As you can see from this picture, the children weren't the only "kids" eating the icing!
Having Fun Making Gingerbread Houses
What a fun time we had decorating those houses!

Those who follow my blog will know that one of the places our family enjoys visiting is Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, South Carolina. We have been fans of the zoo and gardens since it first opened some forty years ago when the eldest of our daughters, Angela, was not much more than a toddler. It has grown over the years in both size and popularity, offering many more family-oriented activities and features. The love of this place has been passed down from us to our girls, who are now parents themselves. Our five grandchildren have developed a love of the zoo and beautiful gardens and the wonderful and diverse animals there.

Each year during the holiday season the folks at Riverbanks is host to an event known as "Lights Before Christmas." It starts just before Thanksgiving and ends a day or so before the New Year begins. During this time, the place is aglow with nearly one million twinkling lights which have now been transitioned into LEDs. It quite an awesome spectacle and one that our family endeavors to fit time into our schedule for every year. This year we attended the event with Darien Baptist Church, where my son-in-law, Jason, is the pastor.  If you would like, you can check out their Facebook page
here. There are a few photos of some of the folks who attended the event with us in the photo album of the church's page. I am including a few of the pictures I took of the lights and one of the animals. as well.
Lights Before Christmas 2014 Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens

Lights Before Christmas 2014 Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens

Lights Before Christmas 2014 Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens
Lights Before Christmas 2014 Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens
Lights Before Christmas 2014 Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens
Lights Before Christmas 2014 Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens
For those who love snow, such as our granddaughters, it snows every night of the event--courtesy of a snow machine!
Lights Before Christmas 2014 Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens
Lights Before Christmas 2014 Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens
Lights Before Christmas 2014 Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens

The Koalas are some of my favorite animals at the zoo and the female recently gave birth to her baby! I was fortunate to get the following picture of this sweet Mother Koala while she has her new baby nestled between her hind legs. If you look closely, you can see its little head peeking out near the bottom of the picture! This was an unexpected surprise and delight to be able to see this mother and her new baby during our visit.
Mother Koala and Her New Baby at Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens 2014
We went to see our grandson Stephen play in the holiday band concert at the school he attends.
He is the one on drums in the back row and wearing the red Santa Claus hat. He enjoys playing in the band. Okay, please humor me and allow me to boast a little. This school year, his last in middle school, he was asked to play in the High School band and so he has been playing at the football games at the high school too. I am just a tiny bit proud of him!
Stephen's School Holiday Bank Concert 2014
Another even that we attended was the children's Christmas program at the church where our daughter Angela and her family are members. There were several angels being "heard on high," complete with wings and our Jewel was one of them. She is the angel in the middle in this not very clear picture.
Church Christmas Program 2014
In addition, I had the pleasure of having lunch a couple of days before Christmas with my sweet sister-in-law, Janet and one of her best friends and my friend as well, Kelli Johnson. These are two of the sweetest gals I know, barring none! They are such treasures to me. This is a picture I posted of them when I gave them the "Darn It" dolls I made for them to have when they get stressed out at work!

We wrapped up 2014 holiday celebrations with dinner at my daughter Angela's home on Christmas day with family and friends. It was an especially precious time for us because we are blessed to have my son-in-law, Angela's husband Jimmy, with us for another Christmas! Some of you might remember that he is courageously battling stage IV renal cell cancer. I do not know anyone who has not been impacted by cancer in some way. One of my most ardent prayers is for a world that is free of all cancer.

As you can see, our family has been very busy with holiday festivities,events and activities. I have not had much spare time to visit your blogs or to post on my own. I have a lot of catching up to do on all your blogs!

What have you been doing to celebrate the holiday season? Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or any of the special events that take place during this particular season, I hope your celebrations have been and will continue to be blessed with many sweet and precious moments, shared with the people in your lives that make the season so special and meaningful to each and every one of you. Hopefully, you will have some beautiful memories too.  I wish for you a new year in 2015 is that you will be blessed with a peace that passes understanding, boundless love and happiness beyond comprehension!

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