Christmas News & Giveaway

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal 30 Comments


I believe that every life is a collection of individual ‘journey stories.’ ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Do you feel like you are on a journey as you look ahead or have been on a journey when you look behind? I can agree with Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s quote about life being a series of “journey stories.” When I think back on my life, I see it in chunks of times or journeys. Through the first journey, I was a child, learning about so many things. Then I married and set out on a new journey, still learning of course. I became a mother to guide my own children on their beginning journeys.

I have had seasons of work, some lovely writing work, some brain-draining writing work, some farm work, some secretarial work. I’ve gardened and canned produce. I’ve painted walls and houses. I’ve written stories and books. I’ve counted cows and carried in wood. I’ve nursed children through all kinds of childhood complaints. I’ve encouraged those same children along many new journeys they took in life. I’ve been a Sunday school teacher and part of a church family. I’ve cooked for preachers and work hands and hosted plenty of family get togethers. I’ve roasted hotdogs over a campfire. I’ve picked apples by the bushel. I’ve tasted strawberries freshly ripened by the sun without bothering to wash them first. I’ve fought briars and snakes for wild blackberries and enjoyed the jam that bubbled and cooked in the same iron pot my mother used to cook her jam. I’ve welcomed new babies into the family and said sad goodbyes to those who departed this world. Now I’m in my grandmother journey time with the blessing of seeing my grandchildren grow up. In time I may even get to meet some of my great grandchildren should the Lord give me enough years to journey on.

Along those journeys, I’ve seen a lot of Christmases. In that early childhood journey Christmas came slower than molasses. December seemed three months long. Then as a mom it was fun seeing Christmas through the eyes of my children. They were shepherds and wise men and angels in church Christmas plays. They overflowed with excitement on Christmas morning. We enjoyed. Now it seems that Christmas zooms around way too fast, but I still enjoy Christmas and having my family come home to celebrate. It’s good to re-experience the wonder and joys of Christmas with my grandchildren now. I know many of you have been or are on some of the same journeys as me. You have lovely memories of times past and are making new memories on your new journeys.

I sent out a Merry Christmas newsletter this week. If you didn’t get one, let me know and I can e-mail you one or you can find it on my Facebook page or find it on the web here. As with every newsletter, I have a giveaway. Since it’s Christmas, the first prize is this Willow Tree statue of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus plus winner’s choice of one of my books. Second prize is a package of Novel Teabags that have literary quotes on every teabag tag along with winner’s choice of a book. Third prize is the choice of one of my books. You can enter by sending me an e-mail from my Contact Page or leaving a comment here on my blog post. Deadline for entering is midnight EST December 16, 2017, and you must be at least 18 to enter. If you want to, you can tell me about a favorite Christmas gift or tradition. A story is not necessary to enter, but your stories are always fun.

Here’s what Jolene wrote about one of her family traditions at Christmas.

Wish you really lived nearby ’cause I have a hunch there’d be some singing and music going on. That’s what happens every time my family gets together. That box of hymnals gets drug out and they’re soon calling out one favorite after another. Sometimes they even mention what key it’s in tho’ I don’t usually pay serious attention to that, choosing rather to play it a bit lower since none of us are great sopranos or tenors. Interspersed among those great hymns of faith are various choruses learned in Sunday School or at summer Bible camp or collected from who knows what corner of the country. And I can’t think of any better way to celebrate family than by rejoicing in our spiritual family relationship and the promise of that greatest-of-all-family-reunions awaiting us.

“Christmas feels like a little sample of heaven’s celebration.” (That’s from Jolene too.)

Thanks for sharing that with us, Jolene. It makes me smile as I think of some favorite hymns and some of the songs we learned with the kids at Bible School. I’m thinking we might all be humming “Jesus Loves Me” now.

Thanks for reading and stop back by on Sunday night. I have some really great stories to share. One of them had me blinking back tears as one of my newsletter readers learned the true value of a gift at Christmas when she was six years old. Oh, and I did get up my Christmas tree with the help of three of my granddaughters. Made it more fun. The picture up top is from a few years ago, but my tree looks about the same every year. I was resting with my Christmas socks on and enjoying the lights.

 

 

Comments 30

  1. AmyJo Medaris

    One of my favorite traditions growing up was making red and green construction paper chains to decorate the Christmas tree and other areas of the house. When I became a mom, I continued that tradition with my kids and expanded it to make a larger paper chain into an advent calendar for my kids to help them count down the days til Christmas. Actually havent done it in a few Christmases because my kids are mostly adults now, but may just have to do it this year to be reminded of Christmases past. Thanks for the walk down memory lane 🙂

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      Ann H Gabhart

      I used to make those with my kids and my Sunday school kids sometimes, Amy Jo. You must be creative to make an advent calendar that way. Sounds like a great project with your kids. They will probably enjoy going down memory lane with you if you decide to make the chains again. Enjoy.

  2. Deana Dick

    I love spending Christmas with our three grown boys. We go to one of their houses and spend the day playing games, eating and talking. We still give them stockings each year. It’s something they don’t want to give up. I love it because I find fun things to put in there and I love watching them like little kids as they look through the stockings.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      That is fun, Deana. I’m sure they appreciate you finding the fun gifts. I do a stocking for my daughter and it’s usually mostly favorite candy and little presents. I need to go shopping for that now.

  3. Karen G.

    I always had Christmas Eve at my house with all the family and Christmas Day we go to my sister’s. For about fifteen years now, we have both days at my sister’s because the last time I had Christmas Eve everyone thought it was too much for me after I ended up with a migraine on Christmas Day and had to leave right at dinnertime. That wasn’t the first time – I suffered from migraines for years.
    My sister always has a game planned for everyone to get involved but this year I’m doing the game. It’s called the Saran Wrap Christmas Ball. You wrap prizes or little gifts with saran wrap until you have a large ball. It’s a lot to explain but you can google Saran Wrap ball and you can see how it goes. I thought it would be a blast.
    Our Christmas this year is going to be a little sad because my mom passed away in September and it will be one less person joining us but I’m sure she will be there in spirit.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      You are right that Christmas will be a little sad without your mom there with you, but you’re also right that she’ll be there in spirit and in your hearts. That game sounds fun. I’ll have to check it out. We do a gift exchange in my husband’s family – one of those where you pick presents and then somebody can steal them or trade them. We always struggle to find rules for the game everybody thinks works best, but the object of it all is to have a little fun.

      So sorry about your migraines. They can be hard to deal with. My daughter-in-law has them sometimes. Sounds as if you and your sister are able to work it all out and still have beautiful family times together.

  4. Shirley Blanchard

    I love celebrating Jesus birthday, tho my family is not close i have my hubby ,son, and daughter, its been a hard year i had cancer, hubbys got parkensons and for 3 months hes had hugh water blisters covering his body a reaction to meds, but we have hung in there and God has walked ever step with us. i would love to win the figurine , i know theres been a rough year for lots of your readers so my prayer is God send it to the one who needs lifting up
    God bless and good luck ladies

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      Ann H Gabhart

      I’m so sorry to hear about the hard time you’ve had this year, Shirley. I pray your treatment for the cancer has been successful and that the doctors will find a better medicine for your husband. Parkinson’s can be a difficult disease, but I hope you both can continue to hang in there, as you say. It is a blessing to know the Lord is there with you through whatever happens.

  5. Nancy Thompson

    As I look at our beautifully decorated Christmas tree, I view the ornaments as a collection of many memories…..each has a story of an occasion , the thoughtful person who gave me one ….or perhaps a special decoration made by one of our daughters many years ago . The “Shiney Brights” that belonged to my mom always bring thoughts of home and childhood holiday anticipation . Now as we observe Advent ,I want to pause and pray, and allow Jesus to interrupt my “to do list”, prepare and direct me daily for the task He has for me. I feel so blessed as I celebrate with JOY the birth of our Savior with family and friends!

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Nancy, those Christmas tree ornaments do tell stories at times. At least, those are the kind of ornaments I like best. I admire how you pause and pray and let Jesus interrupt your “to do list.” Sometimes I get too busy, but it is the joy of the Savior’s birth that should be thought of the most.

  6. Jeanne Hansen

    My daughter and her family attends Christmas Eve services with us each year
    I appreciate that two of our granddaughters start their Christmas with the true meaning of Christmas.
    Then Christmas Day we share a meal, open gifts and play games.
    I’m thankful they decided to move to Kentucky and live nearby

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Christmas is better when you can have time with your children and their families, Jeanne. It is good that in all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we do focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Sounds as if your daughter and you know how to do that.

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  7. Grace

    We don’t do stockings on Christmas, but we save them until New Year’s Day along with a small gift or two. It prolongs Christmas a little more and adds some fun.
    On Christmas Eve we open one single gift, then the main ones on Christmas Day. Thank you for the giveaway!

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      Ann H Gabhart

      That’s fun, Grace. Stockings are fun whenever you open them but I like how you make the fun of Christmas last. I don’t do a stocking for all my kids and grandkids. I think I just get overwhelmed by the number of gifts I’d have to get to fill the stockings. I have nine grandkids. But I do a stocking for my daughter and her husband. They don’t have kids and we usually have a time for Christmas with just them since sometimes the big gathering is more kid oriented.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Stories about good Christmas memories can bring a tear to the eye, Kathy. It is a beautiful season. May you enjoy every minute of it.

  8. Janette

    We lived in a little town in the center of Michigan. It was Christmas eve and my father was the minister at the Presbyterian Church. Our family was there for the Christmas Eve service. There had been no snow yet that Christmastime and we longed for a white Christmas. The service was a candle light one so everyone held a little white candle as we sang the beautiful carols of Christmas. I remember being touched by the love of Christ as my heart drank in the sight of candlelight glow and the miracle of the season. When our family walked outside after the service there were snowflakes swirling all around and a light dusting of snow had already covered the ground. As an 11-year-old girl I will never forget the magic of that moment and the love of Christ that filled my heart.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      What a beautiful memory, Janette. Thanks for sharing it with us. I think Candlelight Services do have a magic all their own. You can just feel the spirit of Christmas. Then it was fun to have the snow come like a gift to you. Merry Christmas!

  9. Bev A Knudsen

    My favorite Christmas so far was about 20 years ago. My twin brother and my Sister-in-law adopted 3 brothers from the Marshall Islands They adopted them in September so that following December was their first “real” Christmas. I am not sure who had the best time…my parents and siblings getting a fresh taste of the wonder of Christmas or the boys who were so pleased with their first new toy that they ignored the pile of presents in front of them and started to play with and check out the first item.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      That is a Christmas to remember, Bev. We are so spoiled to having so much in our country that we don’t always realize our blessings. I can understand why that was so fun for all of you. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Lucy Reynolds

    Our favorite part is attending Christmas Eve Candlelight Service and afterward having birthday cake for Jesus. We eat finger foods, play games, and sing carols. The children open Christmas pajamas and we just enjoy family time.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      That sounds like so much fun, Lucy. Several who have responded to my newsletter talk about having a birthday cake for Jesus. Some even put on candles. Your family time sounds like a night to treasure. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Lisa Harness

    A most memorable Christmas is the one when I received a tape recorder. My Daddy had recorded a message about each one in our family. I now wish I still had that recording.
    A tradition is that I make my last batch of fudge then we all snuggle and watch “A Smoky Mountain Christmas” & “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      If you still had that tape it would be a treasure for sure, Lisa, but you do have the memory which is a treasure too. That was a thoughtful and beautiful gift. Your tradition sounds fun too. Fudge and movies.

  12. Jolene

    I feel honored that you shared part of my story with your readers. Let’s add them to our sing-along, okay?

    I was touched by the simple emotion shown in the Willow Tree figurine. Mary seemingly has forgotten her tiredness and the endless miles as she cuddles her precious newborn. And Joseph, uncertain in his new role as father and protector, stands lovingly at hand. Such familiar human actions, so much like us, such divine love reaching out to us!

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      Ann H Gabhart

      The more the merrier with sing-alongs, Jolene. We can raise a joyful noise to the Lord for sure. The Willow Tree figurine is lovely and your description makes it even lovelier. Thank you for sharing your Christmas tradition. Joy to the World – that’s one of the easier carols to sing and a happy one to sing.

  13. Jeanne

    Our favorite Christmas tradition is an Advent devotional we started in Germany when our young Military family was asked to light the first candle and read the devotional. Our daughter (now 37) was only 3 and our son (now 40) was 7. Our daugher’s”line” was “Why do we light one candle?” and it brings a chuckle each year when we get to that line now that there are just the two of us and our grown kids (now in distant states) have their own Christmas traditions. We still use those tattered pages, the Bible, and hymnal to continue lighting the candles and reading the devotional together. Not only is it meaningful, but it brings back those treasured years when our children took part!

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Jeanne, that such a precious tradition. I’m thinking it’s kept the meaning of Christmas fresh each year for you and as you say brings back all those wonderful memories of when your children were helping you light the candles. When our children move away, we miss them but we’re glad for the new families and the new traditions they make. Thank you for sharing.

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