This is one of serveral variations that I do for the holidays. Sometimes I form into a wreath and put a bow on it and use pimentos for ‘holly’ berries. At other times, I have formed into a pumpkin and used a grapevine leaf and a twisted pretzel stick for a stem at Thanksgiving. This iteration uses almonds. Just start at the bottom and work your way to the top. It takes a bit of time but it surely does look nice. I serve it on a clear green glass plate.
From approximately 1998 until 2011, my husband and I had the priviledge of standing in for Santa and Mrs Claus at the Christmas Party for the SC Department of Mental Health Child and Adolescent Clinic in Anderson, SC. The Clinic served anywhere from 300-400 children and their siblings each year and gave each a dinner of pizza and cookies and made sure each had a toy to carry home, along with a visit to Santa and Mrs Claus.
Santa took time with each child to see what their concerns were, how they were doing in school, put in a pitch for reading and just kept the belief alive that someone was truly interested in what they had to say.
It was my job, as they saw me first, to keep them interested until it was their turn to see Santa. So, I kept up banter and answered questions, lots of questions. Such as, “How did you get here? I didn’t see any reindeer.” Says me, “We had to take a commercial flight. The reindeer don’t fly except on December 24th. Didn’t you know that?” There was never a question that I couldn’t answer. After all, I still BELIEVE!
Part of the banter was telling them why I was there. “You know, I don’t get out much. I usually have to manage the elves. They get into SUCH TROUBLE if they are on their own! You should see what happens in the paint factory!” Or, “You know, Santa really is so lucky. He gets ALL the cookies. You get cookies tonight. I never get cookies. I’m always too busy to eat them!”
One of my most treasured memories of all our years is that one little girl who stood in line twice so that she could return to bring me her chocolate chip cookie. It was the sweetest thing that ever happened. She was so happy to present it to me. I teared up, turned to Santa and said, “Look! My VERY OWN cookie!” She was so pleased. And that smile was priceless. Her mom took a picture with the two of us. She didn’t take one with Santa. The little girl wouldn’t sit on his knee! But I had a fan for life!
Last year, on December 1st my Santa got two blood clots in his leg and the Clinic declined to allow him to serve. So, we retired. It was time. We don’t miss what it took for us to move all the set (crafted, supplied and set up by us with never a thank you!), but we do miss talking to and visiting with all those children. It was a significant part of our Christmas. And Norman makes SUCH a great Santa stand in, don’t you think?
"So I went down to the potter’s house and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him." Jeremiah 18:3-4
Oh, how often I have wanted to fly unbidden from the wheel, not wanting to feel the pushing and poking, the painful molding of what the Potter is trying to make of me! But he will have none of it. Were it so, I would this day be broken lumps of clay in the corner—dry, broken and good for nothing but slowing up the leaking of dirt from flower pots.
It is difficult this molding. It took a very hard whack indeed to get this pot to remain still, silent and completely submissive to the Potter’s hands. And then the molding began again. I’m not finished yet. But I am beautiful!
“A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed — what gospel is that?”
I’ll be home for Christmas. Thank you Jesus for a warm, dry place to share with my husband and family. Parts of it may need extensive work. But parts of it are excellent. Kind of like me…a work in progress.
These are some photos from last year’s decorations at my daughter’s home. She has been a lover of the purple since she was a young girl and that knight in shining armour is in her living room year round, just so you know. The feathers are boas used as garlands over the windows. Super idea!
She popped up ten years ago and said she wanted to be married in a castle—had always wanted that. So, she went and found one. In Jamestown, NC, of all places. It was lovely, just right for the wedding and for her. There was a knight there as well! Perfect.
A friend of mine moved three months ago. Then she called and said her house had finally sold and she needed to get rid of a bunch of stuff. “Would you like an old pump organ? It doesn’t work, but it is really pretty.” “Sure,” I said, having no earthly idea where I would put it.
We showed up to look at the organ. It wasn’t just pretty. It was an 1880’s vintage Clough and Warren parlor reed organ with cast brass foot pedals and it is made of walnut. Ummmmm. Yes. Yes! I found a place for it, and it’s decorated for Christmas.
To make a long story very short, we went to her home four times and carried away four Jeep loads of stuff. AND I AM TRYING TO DOWNSIZE!! We rented a small booth at a local antique mall just to get rid of the stuff I already HAD! But that is another story….
One cannot, well, does not, say no to gifting. One simply must not. One does not say no to two Gone with the Wind hand painted lamps—one oil, one electrified. One does not say no to a 2 ft by 4 ft gold filigree oval framed and bevel glass mirror or an 1880’s vintage Welch cathedral clock.
One doesn’t refuse more than a dozen picture frames of varying sizes and all antique. One loads a Victorian floor lamp with an intricate cast brass base and green swirl marble halfway up the stand into the Jeep without a whimper. And a five piece silver and etched glass cruet set complete with stand. And a huge white pottery punch bowl that I could probably swim in.
However, one most assuredly does not say no to two crates full of books—all from 1880-1910, which included, dare I say it, a beautiful copy of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Had it been the edition published just five years earlier, it would have been worth $2,000. As it is, it’s probably quite the lovely acquisition.
Just two weeks prior to my lovely friend calling, my husband and I had been saddened to finally be convinced that two friends to whom we had loaned, what was for us, large sums of money many, many months ago were probably never going to repay us. Since we live on a fixed income, this presents a loss that is significant to us.
And then God showers us with such unbelievable beauty from a source that I could never have asked for or imagined. I do so love him for bringing our Christmas early and with such gleeful abandon. What joy it must give him to bless his children in such a way! He’s like that.
I thank my friend for thinking of me and giving with such thoughfulness and extravagance. And I thank my Lord for doing the same.
Hating to wait. Fidgeting in lines and always ending up in the one that stops moving! Always. Waiting for payday as an adult–excruciating. Children, convinced that Christmas would never come.
And yet, lines eventually moved. Paydays arrived when they were supposed to and every Christmas has always come on schedule.
It is that way with faith at times. There is a desire to know more about Jesus. But to know it NOW! However, James says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4
Being a believer is a journey. Faith work takes time and sometimes it requires waiting. Just like it does for Christmas. If faith is to grow, if belief is to become secure, then just like children and all things Christmasy and wonderful, waiting with excitement and expectation is required, as Jesus reveals new and joyous things.
Remember, there may be decades of reading scripture, moments of doubt, anger, indecision—but be “…confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion!” Phil 1:6
What moments of doubt or trials have you experienced as a believer? Do you believe these times were “a test of your faith,” as James suggests?
Have you ever felt under attack or not understood something in scripture? What have you done when this occurred? Might you think now of another believer whom you could call to pray with you?
Can you go to God now and ask the Holy Spirit to continue to guide you on your journey of faith as you study his Word?
This box has been in the family and circulating with various presents since around 1960 or so! The ribbon was from our son and daughter in law’s wedding six years ago. Recyling is great during the holidays! Getting ready to recycle some of last year’s photos as I’m not quite finished with this year’s decorating.