Tag Archive | Christmas

Walking Down Memory Lane on Nannie’s Birthday

There are some special people in our lives who never forget about us. They put themselves before others. That describes my grandmother. She went by so many different names. Katherine “Isabel”, Sis, Mama, Grandma, Granny (I switched from Grandma to Granny the first time I watched the Beverly Hillbillies. I thought it sounded neat. I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t thrilled. Now I do!) but to many people, she was “Nannie” and that fit her very well. Even neighborhood children called her Nannie.

Today “Nannie” would have been 104 years old. She was born on August 28, 1914. She is celebrating her birthday in Heaven with the Lord and her precious family. Parents, siblings, her husband, three children, a son-in-law and one grandson. She went home to be with the Lord in 1999 and looked forward to “going home”. I remember a few weeks before she was “called home,” she told me about a dream she had the night before. She said that as she woke up, her beautiful, sweet mother was sitting by her bed, stroking her hair. She reached up to touch her mother’s soft cheek and asked if she had come to take her home. “Not yet,” her mother had said, “but it won’t be long.”

Isabel was eleven-years-old when she lost her mother but seventy-four years later, she still remembered her mother’s face and voice.  No. I don’t think she had a vision but was looking forward to seeing her loved ones again. Someday, we will see her again!

I was thinking of different ways to celebrate her birthday. I could bake a devils food cake with her seven-minute frosting but I don’t have a double boiler or a hand mixer. She used to bake pineapple upside down cakes which were simply delicious!

One year, I bought mint julep candies in bulk and sent them to Mom and her sisters to share with their children and grandchildren. Granny had craved these candies when she was carrying my favorite aunt. To this day, whenever I hear the word Mint Julep or see the candy, I think of her. Perhaps today I will buy a Kit Kat bar in her honor.

 

Then I remember how she used to take me downtown on the bus to pay bills and shop. We always had lunch at the five and dime where we bought candy to take home for Aunt Sandara and for everyone to share. When I visited her after she moved to Richmond in the 1960’s she invited me to spend at least a week with her every summer. I loved that! I so longed for everyone to be together. She didn’t mind that we all talked at once, laughed loudly and sang in the kitchen. I think she relished it! As an adult, I lived in Richmond for a while and worked at a retail store. She would call me at work and ask me to bring her a Kit Kat bar. I usually bought a few for her. She would smile when I walked through the door with her treat.

There are so many memories of my selfless grandmother. She had a hard life but she didn’t let that get her down. This is one reason I write about her childhood. She worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant until past retirement age because she loved caring for others. She raised and helped raise at least three grandchildren and loved every child. I think her favorite thing to do was to rock babies!

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She was a good money manager and always made me laugh. She always cared about everyone. I feel blessed that she was my Grandmother. Love you, Nannie. I will see you again someday!

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Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy – Part 4

romance-trisha-winter-fantasy-canvas Every time Isabel entered the parlor, a new carved animal rested in or near the stable but she never saw Mama or Papa go into the parlor without the children.

“How did they get here?” Isabel asked Mama and Papa but their reply was the same.

“Must have come to see the Baby Jesus!”

After dinner dishes were washed and put away, each child donned their coats, hats, scarves, mittens and boots while Papa packed the sleigh.

“Did you remember to put on your woolens?”

“Yes, Mama but they’re so scratchy!” Isabel said as she scratched her arms and legs. When she struggled to scratch her back, Mama smiled. “Okay young lady, I’m convinced.”

“All aboard!” Papa said as he helped Mama into the front seat and handed her baby Sylvia. “Poor baby,” he said, “you have her so bundled, she can’t move a finger and probably can’t breathe with that piece of blanket flopped over her face!”

“She wouldn’t be able to breathe at all if I didn’t protect her face. That cold air will take her breath away – especially once we get started. It’s awfully breezy, you know. Besides, this is a very thin blanket with air holes since it is crochet.” Mama lifted the blanket long enough to place a kiss on the baby’s head, smiled at the child’s cooing.” Isabel followed Eugene into the second seat, followed by Maggie and then Curtis.

“Mama, make them scoot over so I will have room,” Curtis said as he gently pushed Maggie against Isabel who slid into Eugene who bumped his elbow against the sleigh. “Hey, watch what you’re doing!”

“I didn’t do it,” Isabel said as she looked past Maggie in Curtis’ direction. “He did it!” “That’s enough, children,” Mama said cheerfully. “Let’s see, what shall we sing on the way?”

“Why don’t we sing Jingle Bells?” Papa said as he handed Isabel a leather strap with jingle bells attached. “Try to keep time with the horses,” he said with a grin. “See? They’re wearing jingle bells!”

The entire family began to sing. “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way; oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.” The children finished three songs before they reached the Albright home.

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“Oh boy,” Isabel exclaimed. “May I see Sally Anne?”

“Yes, you may. I wanted it to be a surprise but your friend is going with us. Mrs. Albright and Cookie have volunteered to take care of baby Sylvia while we are caroling.”

“Oh Boy!” Isabel stood up in anticipation and fell into Eugene’s lap.

“Hey, sit down silly goose!” Isabel jumped out of the sleigh, hitting a piece of ice, sliding face down into six-year-old Curtis who landed with a thump on the ground.

“Hey,” he said sternly, “watch where you’re going!”

Isabel looked down at the torn stockings and already felt the sting of skinned knees.

“Oh dear,” Mama said, “you must be careful. It’s awfully slippery out here. Are you alright?”

“I’m okay,” Curtis replied as he pointed to Isabel. “Looks like the silly goose skinned her knee.”

“Son, don’t call your sister silly or a goose. Now wipe the snow from your clothes and carefully stand at the foot of the steps so that we may sing at least one Christmas Carol for the Albrights before we go inside.” Isabel brushed away tears from her cold face and tried to sing Joy To The World with the rest of her family but her knee stung as well as her pride. Sally Anne was standing at the door when Isabel fell and cried out to her friend.

Papa picked up Isabel in his arms and led the family into the welcoming light of the Albright home. “Come in, come in,” Mrs. Albright said as she reached for baby Sylvia. “Oh, what a sweetie. Cookie and I have been looking forward to this all day, haven’t we Cookie?”

“We surely have,” Cookie confirmed and reached for Isabel. “Why don’t you come with me, child? Cookie will get you all fixed up!”

“Yes,” Mrs. Albright said, “Sally Anne has a pair of woolen stockings Isabel may have. She can’t go out into the cold with the torn ones.” And so Isabel followed the Albright’s cheerful cook into the kitchen to sit by the warm stove. When it was time to go, Isabel had a bandaged knee, new woolen stockings and a peppermint stick for being brave.

Three-year-old Maggie stood quietly behind Mama looking around the room and timidly receiving a gingerbread boy from Mrs. Albright. Sally Anne, dressed in her warmest clothes, a hooded cape and fur muff, stood by Isabel until Papa declared it was time to go. She jumped up and down with excitement and then ran to the Christmas tree. “May I please give Isabel and Maggie their gifts now, Mother?” With a nod of the head from her mother, Sally Anne reached for two beautiful hat boxes.

“This one is for you, Isabel” she said as she handed her friend the largest package. “And this one is for you, Maggie,” she said with a smile. “You may open them when I say … Go!” Isabel looked at her little sister and they lifted the box tops together.

“It’s a muff! Just like Sally Anne’s! Look mama, look!”

“It’s soft, Mama!” Maggie said as she ran her fingers over the soft fur.

“Oh Lillian,” Mama said with a catch in her voice. “You shouldn’t have!”

“We wanted to,” Mrs. Albright replied with a smile as she adjusted the muff around Maggie’s neck and showed her how to slip her hands inside. Maggie’s eyes grew enormous as a shy smile spread over her face. Isabel had hers on in record time.

“What do you say girls?” Mama asked as she dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief.

“Thank you!” they said in unison.

“You’re quite welcome.”

“Mama,” Isabel pulled at her mother’s cape, “may I give Sally Anne her gift now?”

“Her gift is in the back of the sleigh so why don’t we wait until we come back to pick up baby Sylvia?”

“Yes ma’am.” It was then Isabel noticed her two brothers wearing leather gloves instead of their knitted mittens. They were also eating gingerbread men, jamming them in their mouth as they turned toward the door.

“This is going to be so much fun,” Sally Anne said as she linked arms with Isabel. “This is the best night – ever!”

Christmas Memories~Story Time

 

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Photo by kathiekingeryphotography.com

“Nannie, Can we make gingerbread men like your Mama made?” Kristen asked as she looked up at her great grandmother.

“Oh, I know we can. We may bake gingerbread men tomorrow afternoon.” Nannie said as the timer on the oven beeped.

“Now, lets have cookies fresh from the oven with a glass while of milk and I will tell you all about Christmases past.”

Kristen’s enormous blue eyes twinkled as she climbed on Nannie’s red step stool/chair and laughed as Nannie pushed the vintage stool close to the table.

“Now,” Nannie said as cookies, milk were in place before them and Kristen said a quick blessing, the story began. “When I was your age, I had two older brothers and a baby sister, Maggie. We were a poor family but we were rich in the blessing of love.

“Did you have a Christmas tree?”

“Oh, yes. We always had a Christmas tree. Some years we had small trees but in 1919 we had a wonderful, large tree.

“Did you get to help put the lights and decorations on the tree?”

“Oh, no. We didn’t have electricity.” Nannie smiled at little Kristen’s reaction. “Few people in our neighborhood had electricity. We lit kerosene lamps and candles. There were shelves on the wall to hold the lamps so that they wouldn’t get knocked over. That would have caused a fire, you see.”

“In 1919, we didn’t help with the tree at all. Mama and Papa liked to surprise us. Before going to bed on Christmas Eve, Mama told us to hang us our largest sock on a hook on the mantle of the fireplace. It was so exciting! Eugene and Curtis knew what to expect but it was my first Christmas that I would remember.” Nannie signed, took a sip of milk and looked ahead as if seeing that Christmas on the wall of her memory. “It was hard to go to sleep that night.

My brothers had told me something special would happen in the morning and no matter what, ‘don’t get out of bed!’ Of course, I heard a lot of strange sounds coming from the front room – that’s what Mama called our living room.”

“Oh,” Kristen said as she stuffed the last piece of cookie into her mouth. “What made the noises?”

“I didn’t know. I heard my brothers giggling from their side of the curtain dividing our room. Sometimes I thought I heard Papa’s voice and Mama’s soft laugh but I knew that couldn’t be true because Papa always went to bed at sundown because he had to get up so early to do chores. I finally got to sleep but before the rooster crowed, Eugene and Curtis woke me up. They each held my hand as we walked into the front room with their hands over my eyes. ‘Squeeze your eyes closed – real tight,’ they said. When Mama told me to open my eyes, I couldn’t believe it! A beautifully decorated tree with candles had appeared in the room! At least that’s what I thought.” Nannie said with a chuckle.

vintage Christmas tree with candle

Kristen leaned close and whispered, “Were there bunches of pretty presents under the tree?”

“We each had two gifts under the tree. Mama always knitted hats, scarves and mittens for us; wrapping them as one package and Papa had made a special gift for each of us. He built a small dollhouse for me,  complete with furniture and a doll family to live in it. I was so excited, I almost forgot to look in my sock. The boys didn’t forget, however. They went to the socks first. Each sock contained an orange which was a treat for us. We only had oranges at Christmas. There were nuts, a silver dollar, peppermint sticks and I got new hair ribbons. The boys got brand new pencils and a harmonica for each. We were so excited about our new gifts, we almost forgot breakfast.”

“What did the boys get under the tree, Nannie?”

“They got hand carved horses from Papa.” Nannie smiled and poured more milk for Kristen. “We had pancakes for breakfast. Just as we were beginning to eat, there was a knock on the door. It was then we realized it was snowing. Papa went to the door and there was a large basket of food with our name on it. The card was signed, Merry Christmas!” Nannie stopped to wipe her eyes with the corner of her apron. “The basket of food was sitting on a brand new sled for us to share. You see, we were very poor that Christmas and didn’t even have a chicken to roast for Christmas dinner. There was a turkey with all the fixins’, two pies and a cake. Flour, sugar, salt and coffee were also in the basket. Mama told us only Jesus knew she had used the rest of the ingredients on the pancakes. She said that she prayed about making the gingerbread men because she wouldn’t have enough to bake bread after Christmas. When she sat down at the table, she opened her Bible. God said He would provide and He did.

After breakfast, papa got out his old banjo and we sang Christmas carols all day. The best part was reading about how God provided His Son, baby Jesus so that we can go to Heaven and live with Him some day. You see, Christmas isn’t about the gifts, the food or even about the tree. It’s about Jesus; our Savior who left Heaven to be born of a virgin in a stable with a manger for a bed like a lamb.”

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“I love Jesus!” Kristen said as she slid off her stool to give Nannie a big hug. “I love Christmas too.”

“Me too,” Nannie said as she returned the hug. “Now, when you come back tomorrow we will bake gingerbread boys while I tell you about your Grammy’s Christmas when she was your age.”

Just then the doorbell rang and Kristen’s mother walked into the kitchen. “I want to be part of that too! I’ve never heard that story before.”

“Oh, if you come often enough, I could tell enough stories to fill a book. I’m so glad you came! Walking down memory lane always makes me feel like a child again – experiencing the joy of Christmas all over again and again.”

Little Isabel~ Story Time

 

Little Kristen set aside her book and followed a voice coming from the kitchen.

“Joy to the World, the Lord has come…” Nannie put a pie in the oven and wiped her hands on her festive apron and turned to her small granddaughter. “I thought you were playing,” Nannie said as she cleaned flour from the kitchen counter before picking up the child.

“Nannie, I’m bored.”

“Bored? How can you be bored when there is some much work to do before Christmas? With all of your toys, it’s hard to imagine being bored.

“Will you tell me a story? Please?”

“Of course I will tell you a story. What kind of story do you want to hear?”

“My favorite – tell me about when you were a little girl!”

“Well,” Nannie said as she lifted Kristen onto her lap, “that was a long time ago. Do you want to hear anything special?”

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“What was Christmas like when you were a little girl?”

“That was a long time ago but I still remember Mama and Papa making Christmas for us.”

“How long ago?” Kristen asked as she shifted and found a comfy spot on Nannie’s lap.

“A very long time,” Nannie said with a smile. “Lets see, the year was 1919 when I was your age. I remember it well. Since I was too young to go to school, I helped Mama bake cookies.”

“What kind of cookies, Nannie?”

“Gingerbread boys and girls. You see, cookies were part of the tree decoration but I didn’t realize that until Christmas morning.  Mama always put a hole in the gingerbread child’s cap for the ribbon.”

“Did you get to lick the beaters?” Kristen asked as she remembered baking cookies with her Mama.

“Mama mostly used a spoon to mix the cookie batter but she had a egg beater for the eggs and wet ingredients before she spooned in the dry ingredients. Lets see,” Nannie said as she stood up with Kristen and headed for the kitchen. After rummaging through two drawers, she picked up the red handled instrument. “This is what Mama used to beat the eggs and other wet ingredients. See? You turn the handle like this and the beaters turned around and around until the eggs were nice and fluffy. Do you want to try it?”

 

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Kristen’s eyes grew big as Nannie demonstrated how the beater worked. “How do you take it apart so that you can lick the beaters?”

“We don’t. It is all one piece. Would you like to try?” Kristen picked up the beater and turned the crank just as she had seen Nannie do. It slipped from her hands and landed on the floor.

“I’m sorry, Nannie!”

“That’s alright pumpkin. I did the very same thing the first time I tried it too. Mama just smiled and said, ‘Isabel, if you don’t get it right the first time, just pick it up and try again and again until you can beat eggs as fast as I can.'”

Don’t forget the Birds!

 

These are a few of my favorite things

These are a few of my favorite things

John and I bought a live Christmas tree for our apartment. I had already strung popcorn for an old fashioned look.

It was a cold evening when we bought the tree and John decided to leave the tree on the deck overnight. Imagine our surprise the following day when we decided to bring the tree into the house and found a little bird nestled inside the branches!

Our First Christmas Tree 1985

I had always loved watching birds and among the gifts John gave me on our first Christmas was a book about birds.

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 We have had bird feeders for many years but the first time feeding birds that Christmas was very special.

After Christmas when I took the tree down, I placed the strings of popcorn on trees and bushes outside for the birds.

When I saw this vintage card and poem on Pinterest, it reminded me of our first tree and the little bird.

Have fun feeding the birds this Christmas and all winter long.

I often go to my computer to help with identifying birds. For information about identifying and feeding birds, click on the following link. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/Page.aspx?pid=1189. if you’re like me, you will want to photograph and keep a list of birds who come into your yard! Through the years it has been a joy to give families with children the gift of a birdfeeder, birdseed and a bird identification book.

Did you know that Our Heavenly Father knows when a sparrow falls? Birds must be very important to Him but He cares about you even more!

09f9294da6fb55286758771fcd822260The Birds Christmas Tree picture
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Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy – Part 2

 

christmas-girl-rolling-cookiesThe squeak of the back porch door and the sound of Papa and her two older brothers prompted Isabel to investigate.
“Isabel,” Mama scolded, “one of these days you are going to hurt yourself; jumping off the stool that way!”
“Yes, Mama.” Isabel smiled and slowly backed to the door and then ran the length of the back porch to hold the screen door.
Papa entered the back porch, stomped snow off his boots, and then made a show of wiping his feet on the braided rug before entering the kitchen door. “Temperature’s dropping awfully fast,” Papa said as he sauntered to the stove to warm his hands while Mama poured a cup of steaming coffee into a heavy mug and offered him a gingerbread cookie.
“Here’s your tree, little princess,” Papa teased as he pointed to a tiny tree before stepping aside to reveal a large pine.
“Oh, Papa it’s beautiful!” Isabel jumped and clapped her hands simultaneously.
“That is a lovely tree!” Mama reached over Isabel to open the door wider. “Let’s move out of the way, dear so that Papa and the boys can bring that lovely tree inside.”
Isabel skipped into the kitchen and moved her stool out of the way before running to Maggie.
“It’s here, it’s here Maggie. Wake up!”
Maggie sat up and rubbed her eyes. “The Christmas tree?”
“Yes!” Isabel sang, “The Christmas tree and we get to help decorate it!”
Both girls danced around the kitchen as Papa carefully carried the tree into the front parlor and placed it gently into the corner where it could be seen from the kitchen and through the windows.
“Now girls, don’t get too excited. We need to prepare supper and clean up the kitchen first. Besides, we haven’t finished stringing popcorn. We will work on that tonight and add a few of the decorations. Tomorrow we will wrap up cookies to give to our neighbors when we go Christmas caroling. How does that sound?”
“Fun!” Isabel and Maggie sang in unison.

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After the dishes were done, the popcorn strung and handmade ornaments hung on the tree, Mama picked up the family Bible and the children gathered around her.
“Did you know that the people of Israel waited for the birth of Jesus – the “Messiah” for a very long time?”
“As long as we waited for baby Sylvie to come?” Maggie asked softly.
“Yes,” Mama said as she reached down and touched the child’s cheek. “They waited many years.
“That’s a long time!” Isabel exclaimed, walked closer to Mama and sat cross-legged on the floor.
“Almost since the beginning of time – since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden.”
“Did Abraham wait for Jesus to come?” Eugene asked as he folded a piece of paper to cut into the shape of a snowflake.”
“Yes, Abraham believed! God even showed Abraham that He what salvation is all about; He showed us what salvation is by promising Abraham a son and then as precious Isaac began to grow and learn how to be a man for God, he was used as an example of sacrifice.”
“God asked Abraham to take Isaac to the mountain, didn’t he Mama? Eugene said as he laid his craft aside and leaned on his elbows as Mama flipped the pages of the Bible to Genesis.
Papa turned from adding water to the bucket holding the tree, rubbed his chin and joined the conversation. “Abraham was a very old man when little Isaac was born, you know.”
“Older than you, Papa?” Curtis asked innocently.
“Oh, I guess Abraham was about fifty or sixty years older than me.”
“He was old!”
“Yep, he and Sarah both were much too old to have a child. That is part of the miracle – right Mama?” Papa tossed the question back at Mama who had found her place in Scripture.
“That’s right,” Mama smiled at Papa and then looked at the children. “Sarah was much older than me so don’t need to ask. She was even older than Gammy Isabella and Grandma Sarah Elizabeth too. Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born and Sarah wasn’t much younger.”
The children quieted as Mama pulled the lamp closer to her chair and lifted the Bible.
“Genesis chapter 21 tells us about the birth of Isaac. It also tells about what happens when people try to take matters into their own hands to make things happen instead of waiting for God to answer but we will discuss that another time. Tonight, we are talking about the very long wait Abraham and Sarah had to wait for the son God had promised to them. Oh, they were so happy to hold that sweet baby in their arms! Every day he grew bigger and stronger making their parents proud to be chosen by God for such a blessing! They laughed as he smiled in his sleep, watched him try to fit his tiny fist in his mouth – just like you did when you were babies.

He became his Papa’s helper when he learned to walk and then run.”
“Did they have sheep to sheer?” Eugene asked excitedly.
“Oh, yes. Abraham had many fine animals and many workers helping him but I am sure he taught Isaac all about the animals.”
Mama smiled and continued with the story. “One day, God spoke to Abraham and asked him to do something very hard. Something Abraham could never imagine doing but he trusted God.
“What did he ask Abraham to do, Mama?”
Mama began to read. “God said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. So Abraham arose early in the morning and saddled his donkey and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship and we will come back to you.’ So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look to the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide Himself the lamb for the burnt offering.”
Mama hesitated and then looked at Papa and then at the children. “Abraham obeyed God and made the altar just as he was supposed to. He put the wood on the altar and then he lifted up his son, Isaac and laid him on the altar where he would normally put a perfect lamb.”
“But why, Mama?” Eugene stood and looked over her shoulder to see the Word of God.
“Because God asked him too,” Mama said softly. You see, before Jesus was born, a perfect lamb or a ram had to be sacrificed to cover their sin. It was an act of faith to show that they believed God would forgive them – to lay the blame for their sin – and remember anything that displeases God is sin – on the sacrificial lamb.”
“They kill the fluffy lamb like Papa has to shoot animals for food?” Isabel felt a tear run down her cheek as she remembered seeing Papa bringing home a deer and a turkey earlier in the week.
“Something like that dear,” Mama said softly, “however, this was an offering to God and not for dinner. The animal used for the sacrifice was very special.”
“So what happened to Isaac?” Curtis asked impatiently.
Mama scooted closer to the lamp and continued reading. “Lets see now, where did we leave off? Oh, verse ten.”
“And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of The LORD called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ So he said, “Here I am.”
And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
“Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
And Abraham called the name of the place The-LORD-Will-Provide.”
“Phew!” Eugene exclaimed, “I thought he was going to kill Isaac!”
Mama nodded in agreement and looked at Papa before continuing with tears in her eyes.
“The Angel of the LORD spoke to Abraham a second time and told him: ‘By Myself I have sworn, said the LORD because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son- blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed (children) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed My voice.”
“Abraham and his son, Isaac went home,” Mama said softly as she pulled out a hankie, blew her nose and placed the hankie in her apron pocket. “In the New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter eleven, it said that because Abraham believed God, it was counted to him for righteousness. It also says that because Abraham obeyed God and offered up his only begotten son believing that God would raise him up from the dead. Boys, what was the Bible verse you learned in Sunday School class last week?”
Eugene and Curtis stood up and began to quote together:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3: 16
“Thank you, boys,” Mama said as she closed the Bible. You see, God gave us a picture of what He planned to do for you and for me. He planned to send His only begotten Son – Jesus to be our sacrifice so that by believing in Him, we will have everlasting life with Him in Heaven.
Abraham was just a man. Isaac was just a boy but Jesus is God’s perfect, sinless Son. He is God in the flesh. He is called Immanuel which means ‘God with us.’ We are human and sin. Some boys may have struggled to get away but Isaac trusted his father. Perhaps Isaac also trusted God to save him – and he did. He provided a ram. Jesus is our ‘ram’ isn’t He?”
“Lets see now,” Papa said slowly. God promised a son – Isaac to Abraham and Sarah but they had to wait many years before Isaac was born. Abraham’s seed or descendants had to wait hundreds or even thousands of years for Jesus to be born – right Mama?”
“That’s right, Papa. The book of Matthew starts out with the people who were born and died before Jesus was born and it is a very long list! King David is on that list too, Mama said. The Bible is filled with mention of Jesus or the Messiah all through the Bible – from beginning to the end. Last week, the preacher said that it is as if there is a red ribbon all the way through the Bible and that red ribbon is Jesus. Remember when God created everything and then he created man? He said, ‘Let us make man in our image.’ Jesus is God the Son. It is hard to understand but God The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are ‘three in one.’ We won’t truly understand it until we are in Heaven.”
“But it’s Christmas,” Curtis said, “why are we talking about Abraham and Isaac?”
“We wanted you children to understand how important Christmas is. It isn’t about the tree or the pretty decorations you made for it and it isn’t even about filled stockings.” Mama said as she leaned over and rocked baby Sylvia’s cradle. It is about the long awaited, special, miraculous baby who was born in a stable like sheep to be the Savior of the world. Did you notice that God kept calling Isaac ‘your only son or your only begotten son?’ Jesus is God’s only begotten son.
Isaac’s birth was a miracle because Abraham and Sarah’s age. Jesus’ birth was a miracle because He did not have a earthly father. God is His father. Jesus was born of a young woman who was pure. A virgin – but we will talk about that when you are older.
Abraham and Isaac had to travel to the place that God would show them. Mary and Joseph, the man God chose for Mary to marry so that he would be a good fill-in father for Jesus, had to travel to Bethlehem. They later had to travel to Egypt because of the wicked King who wanted to harm Jesus. Jesus traveled in His ministry and then, he had to walk up the hill called Calvary to become the sacrifice for our sin. After He gave His life for us, His disciples, his family and followers waited three long days when Jesus arose from the dead!
So you see, waiting so long for Jesus to come is very much a part of the Christmas story. Sometimes, we forget that because we focus on gifts and trees.” Mama said with a smile and nodded to Papa who stood and left the room.
Papa returned to the room with a large bundle and walked slowly to the tree.
“What’s that?”
“Is it a gift?”
“Who’s it for?”
Everyone seemed to speak at once while watching Papa struggle with the bundle in his arms.
“Mama,” Papa said with a chuckle. “Guess you had better help me with this before I drop it!”
Mama rushed over and removed the gunny sack to reveal a wooden structure.
“Oh,” Isabel exclaimed, “is it a doll house?”
“Of course not, silly!” Eugene said with confidence. “It’s a stable!”
“That’s right, Eugene.” Mama smiled as she helped Papa lower the structure and placed it carefully under the tree. Next, he dug into the bag and pulled out some hay to lie on the floor of the stable. Next, he pulled out a box on legs and filled it with hay.
“What’s that?” Little Maggie asked and reached out to touch it gently.
“It’s a manger!” Curtis said. “You know – the bed for baby Jesus but it’s really a food box for the animals. Right Papa?”
“That’s right, son.” Papa said as he stood and placed an arm around Mama. “Why don’t we sing just one Christmas carol before we turn in for the night? I’m afraid the chickens have beat us to bed tonight!
Mama picked up her squeeze box and played Joy to the World as the children and Papa sang along. Isabel looked once more at the stable with the empty manger.
“Papa, what about Baby Jesus? Doesn’t he sleep in the manger?”
“Well little Princess,” Papa said softly, “we have to wait.”

Introducing Little Isabel-Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy Part 1

Friends have asked for more Isabel stories and since I am still working on the sequel to The Vision of a Mother’s Heart, I thought it would be fun to write stories about “Little Isabel,” a prequel of sorts. Isabel was born in 1914 so the stories will take place prior to 1924.

In case you missed the Little Isabel Christmas stories from my first blog, I am re-posting them on my personal blog. There are several parts to Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy. So enjoy!

(I have posted a preview of the sequel to The Vision of a Mother’s Heart. Look in the archives for The Watch which is taken from the sequel, Hope Beyond The Sunset.)

christmas-girl-rolling-cookies

Isabel’s Story
By Katherine Hinchee Purdy

Isabel’s curls bounced as she jumped and clapped her hands. “Papa’s coming, Papa’s

coming,” she sang while skipping into the kitchen where Mama was taking out a tray of ginger

bread men from the oven.

“Isabel,” Mama softly chided the child, “you will be out of energy before we trim the tree if you

keep that up! Besides, Papa and the boys have work to do before they bring the tree into the

house. Climb up on the stool and help me decorate some of the cooled cookies.” Mama

walked around the kitchen work table, tied Isabel’s hair back with a ribbon, placed Isabel’s

Christmas apron over her head, and tied it in the back. “Have you washed your hands?”

“Yes ma’am,” Isabel said as she picked up a flat butter knife and began spreading frosting on a

butter cookie. “I’ll bet baby Sylvia wishes she could help too!”

Mama looked at the baby in the cradle in the corner and smiled. “Perhaps next year she can

help. Maggie is only three years old but she did a wonderful job helping with the first batch of

cookies.”

Isabel looked over at her sister napping on the cushioned chest against the back wall, covered

with her favorite quilt. She envied her sister but refused to give in to the urge to nap since she

had declared herself “too old” to nap on her fifth birthday. Besides, if she napped she might miss

something and this little girl didn’t want to miss anything.

Mama turned to the stove and gently used the spatula to remove the cookies from the pan and

placed them on a cooling rack and then stepped into the back porch and returned with a napkin

holding a disc of cooled dough for another batch. While Mama’s back was turned, Isabel quickly

ran her finger around the bowl of icing and quickly popped her finger into her mouth just as Mama

returned to the kitchen.

“Save the icing for the cookies Isabel or you’ll ruin your appetite for supper.”

“Yes ma’am,” Isabel whispered and lowered her head. “I’m sorry.”

“No need to be sorry, child. I did the same thing this morning. The temptation was too great. Just

one more taste and then you can put a ribbon hole in this last batch of gingerbread boys so that

we can hang them from the tree.”

“Mama,” Isabel said as she carefully used a small dowel to place a hole in the last gingerbread

boy’s head. “I wish we could cel-eeee”

“Celebrate” Mama said with a smile.

“Cele-brate Christmas every day!”

“That would be lovely dear but we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We only have one birthday each

year. Besides, if we celebrated every day, don’t you think you would get bored?”

“Oh no,” Isabel said with a smile, revealing a space where a new, permanent tooth was just

beginning to show. “I can never get tired of Christmas.”

Just as she placed the last ribbon hole in the gingerbread boy, the back porch screen door

squeaked.

 

Christmas Tree Gospel

Hello, friends. It is hard to believe it’s Christmas time again. As we trim our Christmas tree, I like to remember the lesson I taught children through the years with a Christmas tree, lights, ornaments and my Bible. The Christmas Tree Gospel. I am reposting the post from last year.

How do you share the Gospel at Christmas?The light of Christmas

Christmas Tree Gospel

Christmas Ornaments 2012 005

Have you ever considered using your Christmas tree as a witnessing tool? I used to love using a small Christmas tree to present the Gospel to children.

  • First, we discussed the evergreen tree which reminds us of eternal life. It is ever green with sap running through it (before it is cut down)
  •  The shape of the tree points to God.
  • Of course, the tree must be in a stand to remain upright, as we need The Lord Jesus as our firm foundation.

Next, I would do (especially in Awana at night)  is to have someone turn out the lights so that the room would be dark – just as the darkness of sin. The world was in darkness until the Savior came.  I would then turn on the tree lights. White lights because they shine brighter than red, blue, green or even yellow lights.

  • The lights on the tree remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
  • The lights also remind us that we are to let Him shine through us ”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
  • The lights also remind me that there will be no need of sun or moon in Heaven; for Jesus is the light. “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it; and the Lamb is the light thereof.” (Revelation 21:23)
  • Gold decorations & tinsel remind me of the streets of gold in Heaven. (Rev. 21:21)
  • Red decorations remind us that Jesus was born to die.  He shed His blood that we may be saved.  He paid the penalty for my sin. (John 3:16)
  • White on the tree reminds me that he washed me white as snow.
  • The star reminds us of the Bethlehem star which signified the birth of the King of Kings and was a guide for the wise men to follow that they may find Him, and worship Him.
  • Angels remind us of the Heavenly Host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on the earth peace, goodwill toward men.” (Luke 2)

(In the Bible, Angels appear as men.  They are not portrayed as beautiful women in slinky or fancy dresses with wings and a halo. They are messengers of God.  They came to announce His birth and to Worship Him! We are to worship Him and not the angels.)

  • Ice-cycles hung on the tree reflect the light – just as we are to let The Light of the world reflect through us. When I was a child, the Ice-cycles were silver tinsel cut into long strands. Granddaddy always insisted on hanging them on the tree one by one so that they would hang perfectly. (I must admit to giving into the urge to take a hand full and fling them on the tree and allowed them to fall where they may. They often landed on the floor!) Today I use crystal or clear plastic. When the light shines on the crystal ones, we can almost see a rainbow reflected on the wall!
  • The tree skirt reminds me that He has clothed me with HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
  • The gifts under the tree remind me of the greatest gift of all. Salvation wrapped in love. The perfect gift from God – His only begotten Son; the lamb of God who was born to die for us. Our virgin-born Savior, wrapped in swaddling clothes was the best gift ever given!

When doing the Christmas Tree Gospel presentation, sometimes I gave each child a card with a verse to read as we came to the appropriate moment/decoration. Of course, each was given the gift of a candy cane to take as a reminder of God’s wonderful gift to us.

Please excuse the family pictures as I haven’t decorated our tree yet this year and didn’t have a suitable photo of a Christmas tree to use.   I would love to hear how you share the Gospel at Christmas. Please feel free to give us your stories in the comment section. Have a blessed Christmas season this year!

Kathy on Christmas Eve 1964

Love,

Kathy