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4th of July

 

Bicsearchycle spokes laced with crepe paper streamers.  Red, white, and blue balloons tied to the handlebars.  American flags taped to the back of bicycle seats.  Daughter wore blue shorts, a white t-shirt decorated with stars and stripes, and a red ribbon was tied around her ponytail.  Son put on his red shorts, white socks with blue stripes, and a t –shirt with the words Happy Birthday America written with magic markers across its back.  My children and their bikes were ready for the 4th of July parade!

 

It doesn’t seem that long ago, but it’s been more than 30 years since the neighbors on Flatt Circle threw their annual 4th of July parties.  Small-town style.  They invited many families to celebrate our country’s birthday, and they blocked off their cul-de-sac street.  We neighbors and friends showed up carrying our lawn chairs and funeral home, cardboard fans.

 

What a grand event!  Anyone could enter the parade, but mostly children came decked out to march the two-block parade route.  My children’s bikes were decorated that morning, but it was obvious that some families had planned ahead.  Parents and children wore matching outfits, complete with holiday hats.  Painted signs and red, white, and blue banners were taped to the sides of Radio Flyer wagons in which toddlers rode.  We all waved American flags and patriotic music blasted during the ten-minute parade.

 

Our hosts loaded buffet tables with barbeque, hot dogs, cole slaw, baked beans – perfect for a hot summer day picnic.  Blankets and quilts spread on the ground were the dining tables.  After eating, the children raced their bikes and trikes and skateboards up and down the street while we adults talked and laughed and shared stories we’d told time and time again.  As darkness fell, everyone found a place to watch the fireworks show.  Young children settled in their parents’ laps, and big kids got as close to the fireworks as was allowed.  Bright, sparkling fireworks shot higher than the houses’ rooftops, and then the grand finale – red, white and blue flashes burst toward the sky.

 

When the party ended, we adults gathered chairs and blankets and children, who were too tired to ride their bikes home and begged to be carried.   Friends and neighbors hugged and shook hands and promised to get together more often.  After all, we lived just down the street from each other.

 

Our friends on Flatt Circle certainly knew how to host a party.  A parade and lots of fun and food and fireworks.  But looking back, the best thing about that celebration was that neighbors and friends gathered together.  It reminds me of the cookouts in our backyard when I was child.  Mom called her cousins and sisters who brought bowls of potato salad and fresh green beans and platters of sliced tomatoes.  Dad fired up the charcoal grill and cooked hamburgers. It was a big family social event. We young cousins played tree tag and hide-and-seek and eventually sat with the adults to hear the stories they told time and time again.

 

Let’s celebrate our country’s 238th birthday on July 4th with family and friends. Fireworks aren’t necessary, but there has to be food for any good southern celebration.  And there’s sure to be laughter and more than a few stories told.

Easter Egg Hunt

 

easter-egg-hunt-sign-13369720When I was a child, I was as eager to go to church on Easter Sunday as I was on Christmas Eve when Santa gave me a peppermint candy cane. I wore new clothes on Easter morning:  a pastel colored fancy dress, patent leather shoes, white socks with ruffles, and white gloves.  Mother made sure that my entire Easter outfit was brand new, but wearing new clothes wasn’t why I was excited.

 

On Easter at Byrdstown First Christian Church there was a big Easter Egg Hunt immediately after the preacher’s last amen. During the church service, several men hid eggs.  All hard-boiled eggs that church members had boiled, dyed, and decorated.  I didn’t hear a word of the service – not the hymns, prayers, scripture reading, or sermon.  During the long hour between 11:00 and noon, I squirmed and wiggled and stretched my neck to look out the open windows to see where Daddy was hiding the Easter eggs.

 

As soon as church was over, I grabbed my Easter basket from under the pew where Mother had put it so I couldn’t touch it during the service.  I ran out the church front door as quickly as I could.  I ran right past the preacher without shaking his hand. All of us children clutched the handles of our empty Easter baskets and lined up on the asphalt parking lot at the edge of grass.

 

On one side of the church, eggs lay on top of the grass in plain sight for the little kids to find, and the other side was divided into two sections for two age groups. Very few eggs were hidden for the teenagers because they were beyond hunting for eggs, but they were enticed to look for a prize egg.  Those of us in the elementary age group had the most eggs to find. We stood poised and ready, knowing that for every colored egg we could barely see there were many more hidden.   And when someone shouted, “Ready, set, GO!” we kids ran helter skelter gathering eggs that were hidden in tall tufts of grass, under shrubs, among the exposed roots of tall oak trees, and along a grown up fencerow.

 

We hunted until someone found the prize egg, a hard-boiled goose egg wrapped in gold paper, and the adults in charge declared that every egg had probably been found.   We children counted the number of eggs in our baskets because money prizes were given for the number of eggs found – the most eggs, the least, and none.  And the person in each age group who found the prize egg got a bright shiny silver dollar.  I found the prize egg only once—inside the downspout of the gutter.

 

I took home all the eggs that I found.  Eggs that other church members had boiled and dyed, and I hunted those eggs again in our backyard as many times as I could get my mother or daddy or brother to hide them.  There weren’t any prizes at home.  I hunted just for fun after I’d taken off my fancy new Easter clothes.

Easter Eggs

 

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Brown eggs don’t dye pretty colors like white eggs – except for purple.  Brown eggs dipped in purple water turn a beautiful dark wine color.  Most colors – yellow, green, blue – made brown eggs look like a clod of dirt.  Granny’s chickens laid brown eggs and Mom certainly never considered taking only wine colored eggs to the church Easter egg hunt.  That’s why, when I was a kid, Mom bought white eggs to color.

 

Each church family took colored eggs for the egg hunt.  On Saturday afternoon before Easter Mom boiled several dozen eggs – some white from the grocery store and some brown from Granny’s henhouse.  Mom and I, and my brother if Mom could rope him into helping, (teen-age boys think they’ve outgrown such childhood activities) colored each egg.  We used the Paas dye – tablets that dissolve in water.

 

Mom didn’t like plain one-color eggs.  We did half blue and half green eggs and tri-color eggs.  We’d color an egg all yellow and then dip each end in blue or red.  Using a paraffin pencil we’d draw designs that wouldn’t absorb color before dunking an egg in a color solution.  We decorated with glitter and sequins —anything to make an egg look fancy.

 

We colored a few brown eggs in red and purple liquid dyes and used crayons to draw designs on most.  Mom drew rabbits and simple flowers.  My favorite way to color brown eggs was with multi-colored stripes and zigzag lines and circles.  We spent what seemed like all afternoon sitting together at the kitchen table.

 

I dyed eggs with my children and now with my Grands.  Next week I’ll throw a plastic tablecloth over my kitchen table and bring out boiled eggs and coloring supplies.  The box of Paas dye hasn’t changed – except for the price – in 50 years.  And I’m glad.  There’s something magical about dropping a small colored tablet into three tablespoons of white vinegar and making brilliant colors, before diluting the solution with a half-cup of water.

 

And ever year, someone asks, “Why do you have to add the vinegar?”  Because the directions say to isn’t a good enough answer.  The vinegar creates an acid solution so that the colors bond with the calcium in the shell. And sometimes there’s more ‘why’ questions.

 

I know that plastic eggs are cheaper than real eggs and prizes or candy can be put inside each plastic one, but I like real Easter eggs.  The ones you boil and color.  And in the process, it’s a time to talk and laugh and create.  It’s not just about coloring eggs; it’s about the shared experience.

 

A few days ago, my seven-year-old Grand asked, “Gran, when are we going to color Easter eggs?”  I like that.  She didn’t ask, “Are we going to color Easter eggs?”   She asked, “When?”  Then she said, “I’m going to draw designs with crayons on some.”   Good, because I have some brown eggs to be colored and I don’t like Easter eggs that look like a dirt clods.

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Another Day to Celebrate

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 1.32.40 PMSunday, March 2 is Theodor Seuss Geisel’s birthday and if he were living, he’d be 110 years old.  Dr. Seuss Day, also known as Read Across America Day, was created by the National Education Association to celebrate reading, and it began on March 2, 1998.

Geisel first signed his pen name “Seuss” on a cartoon that was published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1927 when he made a living as an illustrator and a cartoon artist.  His first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before it was published in 1937.  But it wasn’t until 1957 when The Cat in the Hat was published that Dr. Seuss was recognized as a children’s book author.  I’m thankful he kept trying.

Some of his books are nonsensical and children love them.  I wore out Hop on Pop and Green Eggs and Ham reading them to my children.  As I whipped green food coloring with scrambled eggs my stomach turned flips, but Son thought green eggs were a fun breakfast.  And while he read the book, I cooked the eggs.

I’m not encouraging anyone to eat green eggs, but I hope that all children had someone to read to them.  As an educator, I welcome questions about how to help children learn.  It’s a three-word answer:  read to them. Whatever you want to read or whatever they want to hear.  Dr. Seuss said, “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”  And, in my opinion, no one is ever too young or too old, too small or too big, to be read to.

How do you choose books that are appropriate for children?  Choose a book in the children’s section at the public library.  Ask your child’s teacher.  Search Google.  Read the classics that you read as a child.  Children quickly tell you which books they like.

My Grands have their favorite books.  The toddlers choose Little Blue Leads the Way, Go, Spot, Go, and books about trains or Curious George.  My almost five-year-old Grand’s favorites are Goodnight Gorilla, A Snowy Day, and all books featuring Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.  My first grade Grand likes books by Mo Willems (her favorite is I Am In A Book) and the Little House on the Prairie books.  My oldest Grand is in a Star Wars phase so he chooses The Yoda Chronicles and anything about Star Wars – not my favorite topic, but I don’t let him know.  All he knows is that I like to read to him and hear him read.

Why read to children?  Dr. Seuss said it best in I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!  “The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”   A quote that screams “Read!”  A quote that urges adults to read to children.

To celebrate Dr. Seuss day, my Grands might think me a bit wacky when I don my tall hat like the tall cat wore in The Cat in the Hat and read the book aloud.  But they’ll like the cupcakes, and I’m not telling them that the book has been around since I was a kid.

Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  A day to celebrate reading.

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Counting the Days Until Spring

DSC00365There are 29 days until the first day of spring and this winter’s cold, gray days have almost broken my spirit.  I hope that sunny days like the past few will stick around, but I don’t trust Old Man Winter 2014.  So I’ve searched for ways to celebrate, hoping these last days of winter days will go by quickly, and I found a website that lists Funny Days, Weird Holidays, and Celebration 2014.   According to http://www.daysoftheyear.com, every day is a special day, most in more ways than one, and I picked a day or two each week to celebrate.

Today is Chocolate Mint Day.  As in Girl Scout Chocolate Mint cookies and York Peppermint Patties.  Can’t this be a weeklong holiday?

Wednesday, February 26th is Oh, for Pete’s Sake Day.  A day to mince words, to substitute an offensive word or phrase with something more acceptable.   When I say ‘For crying out loud!’ which was one of my granny’s expressions, and ‘Oh, for Pete’s sake!’ I wonder who’ll know what I mean.

Friday, February 28th is Flower Design Day.  I’ll celebrate this day in honor of my mother who opened a flower shop in the basement of my family’s home to earn money for my college education.  It’s a day to appreciate floral design as a creative art form, and to show off flowers – real, dried, or fakes – or even draw a picture of flowers.  Wonder if I remember how to make crepe paper roses?

Tuesday, March 4th, is Grammar Day.  On my calendar, every day is Grammar Day.  My dad was a high school English teacher and he always corrected my grammar, even when I taught 6th grade English.  This day is also Pound Cake Day. Did you know pound cakes have been traced back to the 18th century?  And that pound cake got its name because of its ingredients?  One pound of butter, eggs, flour and sugar.

Friday, March 7th is Doodle Day.  A day to celebrate the idle sketches we all make while listening to a speech or during a boring meeting.   On this day we can deliberately doodle all day.

Monday, March 10th, is Dream Day.  It was created in 2012 by a Columbia University instructor to encourage the achievement of dreams and to make the world a better place.  Dream Day, a day to make a plan or help someone achieve a dream.

Friday, March 14th is Potato Chip Day.  I wish I’d know about this day before now.  I’ve often said, “When I open a bag of chips, I’m not happy until the bag is empty.”  On this day, I’ll eat every chip and celebrate.

Wednesday, March 19th is Chocolate Caramel Day.  Any candy worth its calories has chocolate and caramel.  There are so many choices.

And finally, Thursday, March 20th is the first day of spring!  A day to dance and sing!  Hopefully, in the sunshine, but I’ll celebrate a rainy spring day.

Choose your own special days. You might like Fill Our Staplers Day and Inconvenience Yourself Day.  If you’re looking for an excuse to eat, on almost every day the list of Funny Days, Weird Holidays, and Celebration 2014 celebrates a food.  How about Melba Toast Day and Corn Dog Day?

Just 29 more days.

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A Surprise Christmas Gift

outline_of_a_television_set_0515-0911-0317-3308_SMUWhile shopping at the Goodwill Store, I hear the crackle of an intercom and then a lady’s voice.  “Is this on?” she said.  I looked toward the checkout counter.

“Will the young man who looked at a TV and wanted it please come to the front?” the lady said.  I looked around.  No one walked toward the front.  Without using the microphone, the lady turned to three other store employees who stood crowded around the counter close to her and said, “What if he doesn’t know who he is?  Anything else I can say?”  They talked among themselves, but I could only hear the lady who made the announcement.

“Will the tall young man who told someone that you wished you could buy a TV please come to the check-out counter?”  she announced.  “Think he’ll come now?”  she said without the microphone.  “Shouldn’t we go look for him?”

He was tall.  Taller than six feet and slim.  He walked in a slow, easy-going way with his chin tucked low as he approached the checkout counter.  The Goodwill employees parted to make space for him.  A TV sat on the counter.  “This is for you,” the lady to the man.  I couldn’t see his face or hear him.  “No, really, it’s yours.  A gift.” she said.

The employees clapped and laughed.  One patted him on the back and all except the lady who’d made the announcement walked away.  “Another customer brought it up here and said to give it to the young man who wished he could buy it.  He paid for it,” she said.

The young man obviously said something and I wanted to walk closer and hear the conversation, but an audience would have been an intrusion.  “All I know is he wanted you to have this TV and he paid for it and it’s yours.  So Merry Christmas!”  she said.  He didn’t pick up the TV.  “Yes, you can take it right now unless you have some other shopping.  I’ll keep it right here till you’re ready to go.”

He wrapped his arms around the portable TV and picked it up.  He walked a few steps away from the counter.  “Oh, wait,” the lady called to him.  “I forgot something.  There’s money left over.  The man said to give it to you.”  He shook his head and walked back to the counter where he set the TV.  “Yes, I’m sure,” said the lady.  She laid some bills in his hand.  With the back of his other hand, he wiped his eyes.

I hope the anonymous donor saw that tall young man as he walked toward the store’s door. He took long intentional steps and held his head high.  And he was smiling.  As he walked out the door, he dropped his head and shook it from side to side.

A surprise Christmas gift for one young man.  A gift that was generous and kind.  A gift that reminded me the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Merry Christmas from the Ray household to yours!  May all your Christmas wishes come true.  Look for the next Where We Are column on Tuesday, December 31st.

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A New Christmas Tradition

Picture 1We stacked Christmas gifts under our Christmas tree until three years ago when Husband came home with two big boxes a few days after Thanksgiving and said, “I bought us an early Christmas present!”  An electric train.  I never knew we needed a train.

This surprise gift was actually for our Grands.  And prompted by our oldest Grand, David, who was five years old at the time.  When he visited, he’d drag out the little wooden train set that our son played with when he was young.  David connected the track pieces and pulled the rail cars around the track.  Then he would take the pieces apart, create a different track, and while lying on his belly on the floor, he pulled those cars around and around.

The past two years, Husband has set up the electric train under our Christmas tree and filled the train cars with treats –our Grands’ favorite candies.

But now, as of last week, we have a new Christmas tradition.  The setting up of the train.  Our three oldest Grands bound into the living room.  David, age 8, said, “Where’s the track?  We need to get started.”  His sisters Lou and Ruth, ages 6 and 4, went straight for the bags of candy.  Husband suggested to David where to place the curved and straight track pieces.  Lou ripped the top off a bag of peppermints and arranged the candy in a green train car.  Ruth opened a bag of Dum Dums suckers and dumped them on the floor.  The fun had begun!

But we were missing one Grand who needed to be a part of this new tradition.  Dan is 2 ½ and lives an airplane ride away.  That little wooden train set is now his and he spends hours making tracks and pulling the cars around and around just like his daddy and his older cousin did.  And I wanted Dan to see his Pop’s electric train and his cousins setting it up.  So through the magic of video communication, Dan’s daddy and I connected on iPhones.

Now I’m pretty good with video chat on a big computer when I sit still and watch and talk.  But I need practice with Face Time.  I heard Dan’s mother say, “I think your phone is on mute,” and “Can you take your finger off the camera?”  And there’s a tiny screen, smaller than a postage stamp, that I was suppose to be able to see what I was showing Dan.  Even with my glasses on, I couldn’t see that screen.

David moved around the Christmas tree connecting track pieces.  Ruth poured bags of Hershey’s kisses, Smartees, and chocolate Santas onto the floor.  Lou stacked candy in train cars.  I pointed my phone all around the room to share the fun with Dan, but he wasn’t happy.  He wanted to touch the train and eat a piece of candy.  He wanted to be here.

The Grands here shouted, “Bye!” to Dan.  Husband promised Dan that he could blow the train whistle and that his favorite candy, Dum Dums, will be on a train car when he visits soon.

Chaos?  Yes.  Mess?  Yes.  Making memories?  Yes.  Do it again?  Yes.

Glad Husband bought the train?  Yes.  That’s how traditions begin.  And there are reasons to create new traditions just as there are reasons to keep the old ones.

 

 

 

 

 

What Season is This?

beautiful_christmas_tree_6_hd_picture_170696 A few weeks ago, my 4 ½ year old Grand and I were together in my van.  While we waited for a traffic light to turn from red to green, Ruth and I admired the bright golden leaves on a maple tree.  We talked about the many colors of leaves during the fall and that fall is also called autumn.  Time for another fact.  I grab teaching moments with my Grands.

“It’s fall now and next will be…?”  I said.

“Christmas!”  Ruth shouted.

“Christmas is a holiday.  But you’re right.  Christmas is in the next season.  It’s winter.  Does that make sense?”  I said.

Ruth was seated directly behind me so I couldn’t see her face.  Since she was silent, I guessed that she was thinking.  The traffic light turned green and we’d travelled several blocks when my Grand said, “Well, Samuel calls the next season Christmas and Elsie calls it Christmas and I call it Christmas.  Mommy and Daddy call it winter.”  If you were four, would you agree with your older brother and sister or your parents?

The more I’ve thought about Ruth’s answer, the more it makes sense.  These December days certainly don’t feel like fall.  Golden leaves and orange pumpkins are long gone and by the calendar, winter begins December 21st.  So here we are with a few weeks that aren’t really fall and not yet winter.  And it’s a time with activities all its own.

Christmas Season – a time to decorate.  The only time of the year that we rearrange our living room furniture.  That’s so our Christmas tree can stand front and center of the window with enough floor space for Husband’s electric train under it.  The everyday decorative knick-knacks are packed away.  Out come Christmas pillows, a manger and nativity, family pictures of past Christmases, carolers, red candles, boughs of green, gold ribbon.

Christmas Season – a time to shop.  I shop more now than I do all the other seasons put together.  Shop for gifts and things I didn’t know I needed until I saw them advertised at door buster prices.  Shop at the local toy store, bookstore, kitchen store, bazaars, department stores, drugstores, online, wherever gifts are sold.

Christmas Season – a time for bells.  The ringing of church bells, jingle bells, hand bells, Salvation Army bells.  Bells on my mailbox, bell collection on my pump organ, bells tied to little girls’ shoelaces and hair ribbons.

Christmas Season – a time for mistletoe.  One tiny sprig of green leaves hangs on the doorway between my kitchen and dining room to encourage hugs and kisses.

Christmas Season – a time to party.  With friends and family and coworkers.  With food and drink and presents.  To play games and sing and visit.

Christmas Season – a time for good wishes.  Husband and I have friends with whom we connect only at this time each year.  Call me old fashioned – I like Christmas cards and family newsletters and pictures.  And I like the shouts of “Merry Christmas!” across grocery aisles and parking lots.

Ruth is right.  Winter doesn’t come after fall.  Christmas does.  Christmas Season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now is the Time to Eat Easter Eggs

deviled-easter-eggs3  According to my mother, now would be the time to eat Easter eggs.  Easter Eggs that had been hard-boiled and colored for Easter Egg Hunts.  Now, three or four days after Easter.

Long before the days of plastic eggs and cellophane wrapped candy eggs, Easter eggs were real eggs.  Real chicken eggs.  Eggs that my granny gathered from her chicken house.  On the Saturday before Easter, Mom boiled two to three dozen eggs in an aluminum pan.  As soon as they were cool, she and I colored them using a PAAS coloring egg kit and crayons.  And as soon as the eggs were colored, we had our first Easter egg hunt.

I’m sure when my brother, my only sibling five years older than me, was young, he hunted Easter eggs, but my memory only goes back to Mom and me taking turns hiding and hunting eggs in our backyard.  The backyard where our dog ran and played and slept in his doghouse.  Where my brother rode his horse right up to the within a few feet of the house and tied her to a tree.  Where everyone walked every day.  That’s where we hid Easter eggs on the ground, under shrubs, and in bushes.

Mom chose the best-colored eggs to take to the church Easter egg hunt that immediately followed the 11:00 Sunday service.  And after that hunt, I brought home a basket of eggs – mostly eggs that other church members had boiled and colored.  So by Sunday afternoon, we had at least three-dozen Easter eggs – some from our house and some from the church egg hunt.

What to do with all those eggs?  Mom and I hid and hunted, then hid and hunted again and again and again.  Until mid-week, when she declared that it was time to eat some of the eggs and put the rest in the refrigerator, while they were still good.  Still good – as in not crushed or too dirty.  Eggs that had not been refrigerated since they’d been boiled on Saturday.  Eggs that had rolled around in grass and weeds.

Mom’s decision called for a sorting process.  Eggs without cracked shells were put in the refrigerator.  Those with cracked shells were eaten first.  A boiled egg with a cracked shell had rivers of color – just like on a map – that matched its shell color.  I’d sit on the back porch, tap an egg on the on concrete floor, shell it, and eat it.  Hand to mouth, with a few sprinkles of salt.

Supper included deviled eggs.  I chose the one I wanted to eat by the outside rim of color on the white.  A blue or pink rim, certainly not yellow or green.  During the next week, Mom served boiled eggs for breakfast and chicken salad sandwiches for lunch.  No egg was wasted.  And none ever went bad in the refrigerator.

Recently, I was told that boiled eggs should be refrigerated two hours after being cooked.  Maybe that’s because today’s eggs aren’t gathered in Granny’s chicken house.

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Christmas Glimpses

imagesAs I relax with cup of hot tea and homemade fudge, I’m relishing pictures of Christmas.  Husband and I celebrated Christmas with our Grands and their parents for two days.  Six adults and five children – age seven and under.  Lots of food and gifts and squeals and fun.

I’ll print and treasure many photos.  Our eighteen-month-old youngest Grand wore the red vest that I made for his daddy 35 years ago, and  he sat on the windowsill to test-taste a dill pickle.  Elaine, age 19 months, climbed to the top of the spinet piano and found the hidden out-of-reach candy.  Ruth, age 3, hugged her new doll and asked her uncle to help change the doll’s clothes.  Lou, age 5, knelt to the floor to kiss her little cousin good-bye.  Our oldest Grand, David leaped in surprise when he saw his gift – a remote control car.

Some Christmas images can’t be printed.  Some are happenings.  I saw the antlers, fuzzy and worn, stuck onto the roof of the brown compact car.  Who’d do that?  It seemed dorky.  “Look, Momma!  Rudolph!”  I heard a child’s voice.  A little girl tugged at her mother’s hand that held her tightly as they hurried across the shopping mall parking lot.  “Momma, look at his red nose!”  I looked and I chuckled.  A softball size red sponge ball was attached to the grill of the car.  I wish I knew who’d done that.  My hectic shopping day turned into a happier day.

One evening, Husband I stood outside the doors of Spring Street Market ringing a bell for Rescue Mission donations.  The smell of hot donuts floated our way from Ralph’s Donut Shop, just a block away.  As a customer carried her groceries out of the market, we were talking about the wonderful smell.  She agreed the aroma was enticing and waved to us as she drove out of the parking lot.  A few minutes later, her small green car swerved alarmingly close to us and then stopped.  This angel lady rolled down her car window and said, “Merry Christmas!”  She handed us a white bakery bag.  Two hot donut twists straight from Ralph’s.  We shouted, “Thank you!” as she drove away.

My college roommate, Jo Ann, visited me before Christmas for a day of candy making and my five-year-old Grand was also here.  “We need two cups of Chex cereal.  Lou, do you know how to measure?”  Jo Ann asked.  Lou, standing on a chair and on eye-level with Jo Ann answered, “Sure, I help Momma cook all the time.”  I stood aside.  For one thing, we were using Jo Ann’s White Trash candy recipe, but mostly I wanted to watch two people I love.  Jo Ann and Lou knew each other by name, but had never been together for more than a few minutes at a time.  Never stirred with the same spoon.  The next day Lou asked, “When’s Aunt Jo Ann coming back to make more candy?”

Glimpses of Christmas.  Some printed on paper.  Some printed in hearts.