Tag Archives: Christmas

The strangest dream: the incredible, growing house

photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

One of the (few) things I like about Facebook is that it shows me things that I’ve posted on the same day over the years. It’s interesting to see old photos and status updates.

Today, though, what popped up was a link to a blog post I’d written in 2009, on an old blog, in which I chronicled a dream I’d had a few nights before. I keep a dream journal and often read through it to see if I can decipher messages I’m trying to send to myself. I’m a vivid dreamer and I’m convinced my subconscious talks to me when I sleep.

So when I read the post from seven years ago, I didn’t remember the dream at first. I apparently never wrote it in my journal. But as I read the post it came back . In detail. I could see the rooms, feel the furniture, and I remember the tone of voice people used when they talked to me.

It’s an interesting enough dream to share again. There’s a message in there somewhere, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it comes as the holiday season kicks off. A quick note: I’ve changed or eliminated the names of some people and edited out a few random comments I’d made at the time. But otherwise, here is the dream:

* * * * * * * * * * * *

For some reason, in this dream darling husband David and I had been given a huge, mansion-like house. It had a ground floor, three floors of bedrooms, and then an attic. Cassie, David and I set ourselves up on the third floor, with lovely, huge rooms, big windows, and lots of sunlight and beautiful antique furniture. Continue reading

The Story of Christmas, by Bandit

Bandit, helping Mommy with her column.

Bandit, helping Mommy with her column.

Once upon a time, in a December long ago, I was on a deadline with no idea what I wanted to write when Bandit, my Border Collie, offered to write my column for me. I took him up on the offer. With Christmas just a week away, I thought it might fun to share Bandit’s story of Christmas.

The Story of Christmas
by Bandit*

It is almost Christmas time and pretty soon we will have parties and Santa will come and leave lots of presents.

Do you know why? You don’t? Then I will tell you the story of Christmas!

Once upon a time a man named Joseph and his wife Mary were traveling across the country to a family reunion. On the way, they stopped at a hotel. Mary wasn’t feeling so good. I guess riding on a donkey for eleventeen hundred miles can make you feel pretty barfy.

This was not a hotel like the one me and Mommy stayed at when we went to visit my Grandpa. That time, I got scared when Mommy left me alone in the room and I chewed a big hole in the door. That was a nice hotel with very nice people who did not put me in jail for being a Bad Dog.

Joseph and Mary stopped at hotel with people who were not so nice. It was very busy and everyone was cranky because there were so many people on their way to their own family reunions. So when Joseph and Mary went inside, the check-in guy said, “Sorry, buster. You don’t have a reservation and we don’t have any rooms.”

Joseph said to the check-in guy, “Can’t you see my wife Mary has a really bad belly ache from riding on a donkey for eleventeen hundred miles? Don’t you have any place we can sleep?”

The check-in guy, who it turns out wasn’t so mean after all, said, “Gee, Mister. I am very sorry your wife feels barfy. But I really don’t have any rooms. I guess you could stay out in the barn.” Continue reading

Send a care package to “Any Soldier”

My care package sent through AnySoldier.com.

My care package sent to a soldier through AnySoldier.com.

The holidays can be difficult for anyone separated from their family, but especially for our service men and women. And even more so for those who don’t have family or friends to write letters and send care packages.

Yes, there are service men and women who don’t get a letter from home. Ever.

That’s why I wanted to just put the website AnySoldier.com on your radar. It’s a great resource if you want to support our troops. And while the deadline is looming to send packages and have them arrive by Christmas, you have until December 10 in most cases, if you’re sending it Priority Mail.

Here’s how it works: someone in a unit volunteers to be a contact person with Any Soldier. They give a brief description of what their group needs or what might be helpful in boosting morale. When you send letters and packages, they then distribute them to any soldier who might be in need of a letter of encouragement or a treat from state-side.

I’ve sent packages via the website several times. Twice I’ve heard from the contact person, so I know how important the small gesture meant. I’m not talking huge things here. Instant oatmeal, granola bars, coffee, tea, trail mix, jerky, Kool Aid, magazines, tampons, razors, butt wipes. These are important things for service men and women in miserable combat situations.

If you’re interested in sending to “any soldier”, here are a few things to keep in mind. (And I have to apologize if I’m using any incorrect terminology. I tried to use “troop” and “unit” and “service men and women” in the right context, but forgive me where I’ve screwed up.)

1) This isn’t a pen pal service, so don’t expect a reply. While every single thing you send is appreciated, these are men and women who are literally in war zones or battle. They have far more important things on their minds than sending thank you notes. (Having said that, don’t be surprised if you do get a reply. It’s a beautiful thing to hear first hand how your package filled with Pop Tarts and beef jerky made someone’s day.) Continue reading

Merry Christmas and on to 2011

It’s hard to believe it, but Christmas is over. In the blink of an eye, done.

This year, we went easy on the gifts, the planning, and the hoopdela. Which made Christmas morning quilt-free. We didn’t over spend, over buy or over indulge. We  bought a few gifts, had lots of fun with family on Christmas day, and napped a bunch. (Well, I napped, anyway. And watched a lot of TV.)

But I didn’t set foot in a Walmart even once.

Oh, I was tempted, believe me. There were a few times I wanted something and I knew Walmart would have it.

For example, I bought a lovely bottle of brandy, just for kicks, and wanted some brandy snifters. I couldn’t find them anywhere I had normally been shopping. Namely Target. I tried Big Lots and the grocery, both of which had a lovely selection of glassware for the holidays. I was sure that the mall stores had glassware, but I’d been to Eastview once and wasn’t at all interested in fighting the traffic to go back.

But Walmart? They’re open 24 hours a day. No traffic at 10 PM, right?

In the end, I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and found a very lovely set off four brandy snifters for $20. And I felt pretty good about that purchase.

So here I am with less than a week to go in 2010, and now that Christmas is behind me I can start thinking about the new year and my plan for adventure.

The big question: if I’m going to live like I believe what Jesus taught is actually true, what should that life look like?

31 days without Walmart – holiday spending up over last year and that’s a good thing?

The results are in, and according to comScore.com, holiday spending in the first 35 days of the November-December 2010 shopping season is up over 2009.

I have to wonder when we think that it’s a good thing that we’re spending more money on stuff we don’t need when unemployment is so high, foreclosures are commonplace, and poverty is rampant around the world.

We live in a consumer driven, disposable society. We buy, we use, we throw away, we buy more, we use more, we throw away more. And we celebrate the whole cycle.

Perhaps the most disturbing statistic this year is that retail sales increased 28% over 2009 on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving Day? Aren’t we supposed to be gathered with family on Thanksgiving Day, giving thanks for health, family, freedom, and all of the other wonderful things we’ve been blessed with over the year? Instead, stores opened and shoppers headed to the mall to pick up bargains. Bargains for which I’m sure they were thankful.

But it’s not the same thing.

31 days without Walmart – Day 10 and I cheat a little

I confess. I went to Big Lots to get tins to ship cookies.

Forgive me consumers, for I have sinned. I went to a StuffMart.

Not Walmart, but just as bad: Target. And OK, Big Lots.

As you know, last week, I went to  Big Lots to get tablecloths for my husband’s family Christmas party, saving at least $7 on a disposable item. But I’m trying to avoid discount stores at all costs, in the interests of going 31 days without a StuffMart.

But yesterday I went to Big Lots to get Christmas tins to ship cookies and other edible treats. I knew they had them cheap; I didn’t even look at the labels, but yup, they’re made in China. I didn’t even think about it. I needed something I knew they had inexpensively, so I went there. I was on autopilot.

Today, I’ve been on a quest to find something to keep the chicken waterer from freezing. I started at Country Max but couldn’t afford a heater ($52) and the heated dog water bowl is too deep. So I thought I’d try Beyond Hardware, the local hardware store. Which just happens to be in the Target plaza.

I figured if Target had a heated dog water bowl it might be cheaper than the hardware store. I confess, it was tempting to go check out the discount clothing racks. And I had to shield my eyes as I went by my biggest temptation: the book section.

I did make two purchases: a bottle of Aveeno fragrance free body wash and a box of Feline Pine cat litter that was on sale. Things I need at prices that saved me little money.

I feel a little guilty; normally, I’d get the Aveeno at Walmart (same price) and the litter at Wegmans (a dollar or two more since what I got at Target was on sale). So I’m avoiding Walmart and going to Target instead? Kind of defeats the purpose of the experiment. And I’m not out of either of those items. I didn’t need to buy them.

But I am proud of myself for not getting distracted by shiny stuff. No clearance racks of clothing I don’t need, no books to add to the huge pile next to my bed.

In the end, I didn’t find anything that I could use to keep the water from freezing in the henhouse. I have a 250 watt heat lamp in there already; I just lowered it closer to the metal waterer and am crossing my fingers that the stupid chickens don’t think I just gave them a new swing.

As for the Big Lots tins: I bought more than I needed, because I didn’t want to have to go back. Hopefully, I can return what I don’t use.

So I spent $0 on what I needed, and about $15 at Target on two things I will need eventually. And about $25 on a bunch of tins to ship goodies for gifts.

Of course, I haven’t even begun to Christmas shop yet. Make a list, make a list, make a list …

31 days without Walmart – Giving good gifts

Yesterday was my husband’s annual family Christmas party, and I took part in the Secret Santa gift exchange.

This is my husband's Aunt Kathy. I picked her name in the Secret Santa gift exchange.

Because of my “31 days without Walmart” project, I needed to get a gift somewhere other than the StuffMart. As I wrote last week, it would have been easier and more convenient (and certainly less tempting) to just do everything at Walmart, but in the end, also less special.

I picked my husband’s Aunt Kathy and went to Mostly Clay on Schoen Place in Pittsford for a gift. I love this store, owned by Margie LaTourette. Years ago, I used to own a tea shop in the space below hers and we’ve remained friends ever since.

For Aunt Kathy, I picked out a piece of pottery from Sommerville Pottery. It’s officially called a ‘brie baker’, but it’s a round, rimmed plate that can be used to serving hors d’oeuvres or as a small tart or pie pan. Very functional, very pretty, and locally made.

When Aunt Kathy opened her gift and saw “Mostly Clay” stamped on the box, she asked if there was something actually in there from Mostly Clay or if I just resused a box. When I told her that indeed there was a gift from the store in there, she got excited.

Apparently, she loves that store! And she explained later that she used to have a dish much like the one I gave her. But it broke and she’s missed it every since.

I got Aunt Kathy a 'brie baker', essentially a pottery dish that can be used for lots of things, made by Sommerville Pottery on Keuka Lake, NY.

She seemed genuinely pleased with the gift, which made me happy.

Sure, I could have gone to Walmart and gotten a scarf or gloves or something else in the price range. And I’m sure she would have loved it. But instead, I got something with a personal touch, got to see my friend and support her business, and really think about the gift I gave.

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