SMALL BEGINNINGS  By Lori A Alicea

Dreams have to start somewhere.

You enter the race at the starting line like every other runner,
with no fast track to the finish.

Books are written and read one page at a time.

The corporate ladder is climbed one step at a time.

We see ourselves at the mountain peak, yet a “dream come true” takes their first steps at the base.

All leaders share a common story of small beginnings.

Don’t despise your small beginning at the lemonade stand level,
because dreams have to start somewhere,
so why not start with excitement at the beginning.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”Zechariah 4:10

ayvas lemonade stand

Your dream’s beginning is a perfect place to write and establish your vision as a road sign of encouragement for those to see who are running this race with you.

Small beginnings remind us that dreams are slow in “coming true.”

Runners grow weary when the finish line is further than they prepared for, a mile marker where some contemplate giving up on their dream.

But your vision’s road sign of encouragement will be that needed drink to quench their thirst of weariness along the way.

ayva lemonade party 14

Write the vision; make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end – it will not lie.

If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:2-3 ESV

Small beginnings require confidence.

Small beginnings require a belief that we are qualified in the first place, a belief that God picked the right person for this dream job when the resumes of others scream more qualified.

When God hand selected Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt’s bondage into the Promised Land, Moses drowning in all of his self-doubt responded,

I have never been eloquent….I am slow of speech and tongue.”
Exodus 4:10 NIV

O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”
Exodus 4:13 NIV

Our God, who knows us more intimately than anyone else when He fashioned us in the womb, should raise a confidence from within that we are perfectly called.

A Heavenly Father wants a childlike trust that in our weaknesses,
He will be our strength.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT

Dreams are a series of small beginnings.

One small beginning crosses paths with another small beginning, with God at times asking you to reach for more, to swim out into the deep, going beyond what feels comfortable.

Author and Motivational Speaker John Maxwell quotes:
To succeed in life, we must stay within our strength zone, but continually move outside our comfort zone.

When you least expect it, your lemonade stand adds a beautifully decorated table for the thirsty,

And additional yummies to the menu.

Small beginnings require faith and obedience for every step of the way that God has called us to take.

God speaks.
We listen.
We obey.
God speaks the next step.

Sometimes in the dream journey though, it seems as if
God has stopped speaking and gone silent, causing us to question the next step.

Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church
Asks the same question in his “Frequency Series” on hearing God:

Have you ever been in a place where you felt you weren’t hearing God?
Then go back to the last place God spoke to you, and ask yourself, did you obey?”

This happened to Jonah as recorded in Jonah 1-3.

The Lord instructed Jonah to go to Nineva and preach to the people regarding their wicked ways, yet disobeyed and went to Tarshish instead.

A huge storm arose in the boat he traveled and Jonah found himself thrown overboard, swallowed into the belly of a huge fish and deafened by the silence of God.

When Jonah repented, the Lord caused the fish to release him then spoke again the same request that Jonah disobeyed the first time silencing the voice of God, “Go to Nineva.” This time Jonah obeyed.

Dreams can come true but we must remember:
Small beginnings
can’t go any faster than “one step at a time”.

Welcome small beginnings, and not despise them.

Write and establish the dream’s vision as a road sign of encouragement for those that have chosen to run this race with us.

Be confident in our belief that God has called us to this dream fully and perfectly qualified.

Be expecting our small beginnings to cross paths with other small beginnings.

Be faithful and obedient to God’s voice and direction in every step.

Be in great anticipation beyond what you could have ever imagined.

ayva lemonade party 30

Rejoice, because wild dreams from God do come true,
when we faint “not” in our steps of
small beginnings.

WAIT FOR HER By Lori A Alicea

A grandmother’s prayer…

“Wait for her.”

Though you are too young to have entertained a thought about her just yet, too young to catch a glimpse of her loveliness or even imagine her name, I promise you one day the mere mention of her will burst the gates of your heart and flood your tomorrows, so much so that your grandmother in quiet prayer for your future wife she prays,
“Wait for her.”
ethan by wedding dress
When God was “knitting you in your mother’s womb”,
He was also “fearfully and wonderfully making her in the secret place”.

His “eyes kept vigil on your unformed bodies” and
His thoughts of the two of you already “outnumber the grains of sand.”

“All your days have been ordained and are
written in His book before one of them came to be.”
(Psalms 139)

God knows her.
He’s chosen her to complete you.
She’s perfect for you in every imaginable way.

Your grandmother prays for your chaste and faithful heart to
“Wait for her.”
picture 5
Surrounded by your love of sports, bicycle riding through town, summertime at the park and whatever else boys your age like to do, the future of your older self is too far of a distance down the tracks to see.
picture 6The prettiest girl in your life today who has your eyes you call her mommy.
brodie and kristie kissingThe heroes’ keeper of her heart is a man named daddy.
picture 18God has kept your young love for each other a secret and asleep, but a true love nevertheless, promised to awaken the morning of God’s perfect timing.
picture 17You must stay hidden from the thief of her counterfeit.

Swiftly flee from the distractions of delay.

Believe and keep a firm grip on God’s truth that,
“All your days have been ordained”, as well as hers.
“Wait for her.”

In the waiting you’re trusting for God’s introduction to your completeness.

In the waiting you bow a knee in surrender,
“Not my will but Thine.”

In the waiting you forfeit the world’s good for His Best.

In the waiting, your time will come.
picture 15But until then,
Wait for her.
ethan by wedding dressThe wait will be worth it all.

FRESH VISION FOR 2020 By Lori A Alicea

Welcome year 2020, we welcome you with open arms and great anticipation.

You are a brand new year and a new decade and the blank pages of my calendar wait with bated breath for God to unveil the details of the next 365 days of my life and family, so I might capture and record His goodness and faithfulness for our remembrance and encouragement in years to come.
FINAL calendarEver since I was a little girl, I have cherished like gold and hold tight a stack of blank paper in my arms, a brand new journal or calendar where the dam that jams up the words of my heart burst and gush as a raging river onto the empty pages, leaving behind the sediments of sentences, paragraphs and chapters of my thoughts.

At the beginning and birth of every New Year,
I ask God to give me fresh vision for this leg of the journey.

I pray for 20/20 vision that He might bring into focus those things both near and far I have struggled to see in the past.
FINAL featured imageI bow my knees to the plans the “Lord my God” has prepared for me, embracing the hope and future he has promised. May I never waver or question the direction of His voice, as a good shepherd never leads his sheep astray.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
FINAL bible
For this year 2020 I pray that in order to see His vision, I must also hear His vision with clarity when my Heavenly Father speaks. Oh that my ears be unstopped from the cares and worry which deafens His voice from my unbelief and willingness to hand over the reins that lead me.

Oh that I might celebrate the amazing truth that He knows me intimately by name when He calls me by name.

I have called you by name: thou art mine. Isaiah 43:1 KV

That whenever I hear my name in the night as Samuel did, I immediately recognize His voice with my answer,

 “Speak, your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 NIV

Lord, open my eyes that I might see through your eyes the vision prepared specifically for me.  Might I write this vision down as you have requested, making it plain and easy to follow for the race you have called me to run, never wavering to the left or to the right whether your vision for my life will ever come to pass, as You are a God that cannot lie.

And the Lord answered me, and said, “Write the vision, and make it plain upon the tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.  Habakkuk 2:2-3 KJV

God is not a man, that he should lie… Numbers 23:19

Lord, remind me this year 2020 to humble myself in your presence, to search daily for direction in Your Word, as promises of fresh vision is mine when eyes are solely fixed on you.
FINAL PEW BIBLE GLASSESFor this new year of 2020, I must turn the pages of year 2019, thanking Him for his faithfulness and goodness He has shown me and my family, yet moving on and forgetting the former things of the past 365 days, as He is doing a new thing, a wonderful and marvelous thing.

“Forget the former things;
Do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!…”
Isaiah 43:18-19

Lord, I want my life to count for this new year of 2020.
I want my life to matter, to make and be a difference for Your Kingdom.

But I desperately need a fresh vision from You today.

I need a slice of fresh bread of vision from You, not the day old kind the world has to offer.

Lord, I dedicate this new year of 2020 to you.

Oh, that my words and deeds this year be pleasing in your sight.

May I continue live my life as an ambassador for You.

May I clearly see with 20/20 vision and hear with distinct clarity
Your Fresh vision for 2020 set before me.

May every day this year of 2020 I reply as Samuel did when You repeatedly beckoned him in the night,

“Here I am Lord. Your servant is listening.”

IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS By Lori A Alicea

With the Christmas holidays finally here, most of us have completed our shopping and gifts of all sizes and shapes have been wrapped and placed under the tree to honor our longstanding tradition and spirit of giving.

So many gifts have been purchased from wish lists, ideas, hunches, or desperate last minute resorts when a person is too difficult to buy for.

When the long-awaited mystery inside the wrapping paper is finally revealed, gifts have a way of sparking a range of our emotions.

From tears, screaming and jumping for joy for the gift idea that you nailed.

To the eye-roll and half-smile of the present you’re confident will be returned or re-gifted.

Or the recipient who laughs or stops mid-sentence in their remarks of their newly unwrapped gift, “Ohhhhh…you shouldn’t have”.
Translation….you shouldn’t have.

There are those gifts from an elderly grandparent or person of “limited means” you appreciate because it’s their thought that counts.

Sometimes though Christmas pauses with a moment you least expect, catching you and your heart unaware and off guard when you receive that present you first have to wonder about for a few minutes, then breathe out a bit of Christmas “awe” as you realize that what you hold isn’t the gift,

But the priceless THOUGHT is the GIFT.

This was Christmas for me years ago, but I remember the details like yesterday.

Gathered around the table after Thanksgiving dinner that year, my husband’s family and I rummaged the Black Friday newspaper ads for ideas to clip out and share between each other for our secret Christmas gift exchange.

All night long we laughed, passed newspaper pages around and clipped out three ideas for our personal wish list.

One idea out of character for me as I am not a “girly girl” who primps and pampers herself for hours, was this sweet manicure set complete with polishes and lotions that caught my attention. Prior to this gift exchange, I wasn’t one to paint my nails, but this adorable manicure set had me thinking that maybe I should start.

When the evening finally drew the curtains to a close at this family Thanksgiving dinner, with most members ready to share their wish lists with a secret Santa, decisions were made at the last minute to nix the gift exchange idea, citing no plausible reason than “just because”, maybe next year.

With my wish list in hand sighing one last time at the manicure set I could have easily bought for myself, crumpled and threw the paper of ideas into the trash, walking away never discussing my Christmas desire nor giving any thought of it the rest of the Christmas season.

While Christmas is a time of secret Santa gift exchanges in many relational circles, Christmas is also a sentimental time to remember your neighbors.

On our country rural street of 350 North where we lived at the time, there were only five houses with five mailboxes at the end of each our neighbors two acre plot of land. Old wooden fences divided most of our properties, and neighbors talked to each other from time to time at the fence, getting to know one another in small talk.

Old man Chester lived with his wife on the east side of our property, and widowed Betty on the west. In our twenty year stay living on 350 North, we became close friends with Betty who took an interest in our blended family and collie.  Chester on the other hand, we occasionally waved to while mowing the grass, plowing the snow, or drinking coffee outside on a sunny day.  We learned of him through his habits and ways, as neighbors usually do living so close in proximity to one another.

This particular Christmas something seemed “off” at Chester’s house. His driveway hadn’t been plowed for weeks.  Newspapers piled up on the front porch.  We rarely saw an evening light burning through Chester’s windows.  We hadn’t seen any sighting of Chester or his wife during the month of December that year.  So, with a tin of homemade Christmas cookies and a worried look, my husband David walked over to Chester’s front door in neighborly concern and softly knocked.  Not expecting an answer with the windows completely dark, David still knocked a few times and to his surprise, a weary neighbor greeted my husband and opened his home for a Christmas visit.

For over an hour, I waited anxiously for my husband’s return. Off and on while busy making cookies, I looked up at our two-acre driveway through the kitchen window for a sighting of my husband David.  Finally, catching a glimpse of him in the moonlit night walking back down the driveway and into the house, he somberly took a seat at the dinner table where I joined him.

Re-telling his visit with Chester, my heart broke to learn that our neighbor had been holding a faithful vigil near his dying wife’s hospital bed these last December weeks, who sadly entered into eternity a few days prior, leaving behind her grieving husband of over fifty years.

Receiving news like this the “lists of Christmas” begin to pale in its relevance; the baking, the shopping, the caroling, the tree lighting, etc. are irrelevant when someone loses a loved one. In the hurt of someone else’s deep wounds and pain, Christmas could do all of us a favor and exit early until another December next year.

But to my surprise, Chester’s sorrow hadn’t quenched his spirit of giving, and sent an unexpected Christmas present home to me, a neighbor he mostly knew in passing.  Taken from the hospital box of his wife’s belongings that still sat on the living room floor when he first arrived home without her, Chester reached inside and handed David a small tin that bore the name of the hospital where Chester’s wife had lived her remaining weeks.
this one 1A small hospital gift to his wife was now a gift to me. Removing the top portion of the tin, it revealed an early desire of my Christmas heart I had forgotten about but God hadn’t; a manicure nail set, albeit miniature.
this oneAt first glance, Chester overwhelmed me when during the darkest hours of his life; he was emotionally willing and able to think of somebody other than himself, by giving me a gift that embodies the sentiment:

“It’s the thought that counts.”

Moments later, God overwhelms my heart realizing when no one knew about this gift but Him, God reveals Himself in a hospital manicure set meant for somebody else, yet through a grieving man, prompted the spirit of giving to me.

So often at Christmas we look for the biggest present, or the most expensive, even the prettiest, wrapped gift under the tree.

Sometimes at Christmas, the best gifts are the least expected.

When I least expected, a gift of a different kind was waiting for me under my Christmas tree so many years ago.

What I had forgotten my Heavenly Father remembered.

The Father who knows every detail of my life that …the very hairs of your head are numbered… Luke 12:17 NIV

He Remembered.  

The Father’s THOUGHT of me that Christmas was His GIFT.

PICTURE IT By Lori A Alicea

Christmas thirty years ago, I never pictured it.

Christmas thirty years ago, if you could picture it, was just the three of us, a newly single mother watching her two young children sit in front of the camera for their annual holiday portrait, an insert to the family Christmas card.
XMAS Jake and Candy 2Back in the day, portrait studios were located in the “big box stores”. Closer to the holiday when I usually scheduled our photo session, multiple procrastinated families like mine crowded the couches waiting impatiently for their name to be called, as photographers were unfortunately behind schedule during the final weeks of Christmas.
XMAS Jake and CandyI doubt any young mother pictures it, and I was no exception.
I didn’t think of it, I didn’t imagine it.
I wasn’t in denial, I just didn’t picture it.

I doubt most of us picture it although it’s happening to us all.

The only picture that mattered to me thirty years ago were those of my little boy and girl dressed in their holiday best.

An annual gift wrapped up as a Christmas portrait that only a mother could truly appreciate; a parent’s attempt in preserving the Christmas faces of her children as a keepsake to reflect on when the passage of time caught them growing up.
XMAS Jake and Candy 1I never pictured it until thirty years later when I opened up a packed box of my mother’s belongings, finding a stack of clippings from my old column she saved, stumbling upon a specific column that took me back to the portrait studio where I picked up my children’s Christmas pictures for the holiday season that year.
XMAS Jake and Candy 3EVERYONE’S LIFE IS A STORY WAITING TO BE TOLD
By Lori A. Alicea

No telling how many people cross our path and we never know their name or story.  Faces are everywhere.  Crowded streets; busy stores.  We rub shoulders, but barely make eye contact.  We all have a story, but who takes the time to wonder?

Waiting for my purchase at a local Photography store, I got my first glimpse of him, an old man with downy white hair, possibly in his eighties, sporting an old flannel shirt and yellowed jeans, wearing shoes that had seen better days.

This man didn’t see me as he entered the store, but I followed him around with wondering eyes.

Sitting close by, the exchange between the old man and clerk was audible.  He inquired about the special.  By his casual appearance I assumed a future appointment was in the making.  Assuming wrong, he reached for a coupon from his pocket for a portrait taken that morning.

Directed to the sofa by me, we both sat in silence.  I could hear grandpa’s labored breathing.  I watched grandpa’s wrinkled hands folded, as if in quiet prayer.

In that moment the words to an old song began to play in my head, “If a picture paints a thousand words”.  In that song I began to wonder about the words that painted this old man’s portrait.

Father? Husband? Friend? Lonely? Happy? Rich? Poor?  Who was this person?  Surely he belonged to somebody.  Was grandma alive?  Did grandpa have kids?  If so, do they call?  What about his dreams?  Fulfilled?

Encouraged by a mutual smile, grandpa and I engaged in conversation.

Grandpa told me he was having his picture taken to send in cards to his family.  Grandpa said he didn’t know how long he’d be around, and wanted everyone to have a picture to remember him by.

What a beautiful man, what a lovely idea.  An old man with a story, a book destined to be a best seller, a picture of a thousand words.

I wish I had an extra hour to hear the “rest of his story”, but the clerk was calling my name.

I purchased my pictures and turned around to leave, but stopped long enough to smile at the old man and bid him good-by.  Grandpa smiled back and wished me the same.

Weeks later I wondered about grandpa.  Was grandpa’s picture a delight to whom ever received it?  Was grandpa’s picture a reminder to spend more time with him?  Did grandpa’s card get lost on the stack of other mail?

My questions will remain unanswered.  But that day an old man reminded me no life should ever go unnoticed.  That each life is a picture of a thousand words, a story worthy to be read.

…………………………………………..

Thirty years ago I was in my late twenties and the eighty year old man in the story could have been great-grandfather.
great grandpa in ava illinois

Thirty years later and I now thirty years older, the eighty year old man in the story could have been my father.
dad and cookiesYou never picture it when the “second hand” of your life’s clock is ticking down the minutes.

You never picture it when you’re blowing out another candle on your birthday cake.

You picture it through the lens of the old photographs taken of you in your twenties, thirties, forties and those fifties, soon to open a new chapter in my sixties, when you wonder:

How can it be that so much time has passed since my young children sat in front of the Christmas camera, kids who have grown up themselves and are now taking pictures of their own family at Christmas.

We must picture it that age can’t be controlled any more than the weather.

But you can number your days; to keep watch and value the life you have been given; to not waste our minutes and hours on matters that don’t matter.

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.”
Psalm 39:4 NIV

 …What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
James 4:14 NIV

In twenty years I will have attained the age of the man in the story.

Twenty short years and beyond;

I need to picture the impact I want to make with my days and live it in front of the lens and those I am sharing my life with.

Might the story of my life and the story of your life boast a best seller.

Might the story of the old man in the Photo store cause us to be more vigilant and read between the lines of those we rub shoulders with; even strangers we share a couch with for a few brief minutes while waiting, because:

… an old man reminded me no life should ever go unnoticed.
That each life is a picture of a thousand words, a story worthy to be read.

OH, I’VE BEEN GOOD…PINKY, PROMISE GOOD By Lori A Alicea

They’re all good, aren’t they?

In a grandparent’s eyes, their grandchildren, each and every one of them, make the “Good List” come December. Just send your grandparent a greeting card wearing Christmas jammies and find yourself on the “Very Good List”.

Yes, grandparents know their babies have those “bad days” from time to time.
hollis pjBut don’t you worry kids; your name stays on our “Good List” throughout the month of December and beyond.
rosalee pjGrandkids are something else.

You ask them if they’ve been good, and there’s always that one whose suspicious look and reply has you both wondering and laughing under your breath;

Oh, I’ve been good… pinky, promise good.
cova hollis face babyGood or bad, a grandparent’s heart is to give good gifts to their grandchildren. Grandchildren don’t earn our love by accumulating enough good stickers.  Nor can they lose our love by those checkmarks of bad behavior next to their name.

“We love” is reason enough to give.
We give because we love.

There are no strings attached to a grandparent’s love in giving.

Well, unless you consider the strings that tug your heart when a grandchild’s bare feet on a wood floor are heard racing the halls searching and calling your name. In these treasured moments a grandparent scoops up this child, surrendering his keys to the toy store.
IMG_4654No matter our age, our Heavenly Father delights in his children running and searching the halls, calling out for him and his whereabouts.

There are no “good days or bad days” that ever jeopardize his love for us.

And just like a father or grandfather, God loves to give good gifts to his children.

If you…. know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11 (NIV)

In fact, our Heavenly Father’s best gift came to us as baby.
2017 xmas jammies kizzy mae 1The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, (which means “God with us”.) Matthew 1: 23 NIV

A baby who would grow up and give his life in exchange for our life; yes our Heavenly Father’s best gift at Christmas came to us wrapped as a baby.

We didn’t earn it. We didn’t deserve it.
But God loved us enough to still give his very best, his only son.

If the bottom of your tree seems bare and empty come December 25, remember a good Father doesn’t show up empty handed. He gives good gifts.  He lavishes himself on his children.

This dad is beside himself, anxious for you to see and remember the blessings from the gift of his son this Christmas and all year long. If this is your first Christmas with Him, your Heavenly Dad can’t wait for you to open and receive this wonderful gift of his son into your heart.

In a grandparent’s eyes, their grandchildren, each and every one of them, make the “Good List” come December and beyond.
2017 aubrey xmas jammies 6In our Heavenly Father’s eyes, his children are always on the good list.  No “good stickers” or “checkmarks” beside our name ever earn or jeopardize his love for us.

There are no strings attached to the gifts bearing his name and affectionate love.

Unless you consider the strings that tug on his heart, when the sound of bare feet on wood floors are heard running and searching the halls, calling out for their Heavenly Dad.

Pinky Promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY CHRISTMAS GIFT OF OLD By Lori A Alicea

Christmas as a grandmother of ten changed everything for me.

Remembering how my grandparents put so much thought and festivity into Christmas Eve for us six kids and our cousins, an evening we looked forward to every year, stirs me to be a memory maker as my grandfather and grandmother were, to intentionally leave behind indelible Christmas card moments in the minds of our grandchildren.

Maybe our grandchildren watching a Hallmark movie might remind them of the lovely decoration creations that Gaga breathed holiday life into her house with.
USE as main pictureMaybe the old fashioned Christmas tree and specially wrapped gifts all stacked by the warm fireplace, waiting for anxious good little boys and girls to open might re-create a Norman Rockwell painting in their memories.
USE xmas tree presentsMaybe the Christmas table’s wintery themed centerpieces and place settings for everyone might remind them to always give thanks for those family members and friends sitting beside them for dinner.
2018 alicea xmas 2For me as a grandparent, it’s my inner child’s delight to unwrap the gift of our grandchildren’s excitement through every planned and unplanned moment of our Christmas gathering. I pray the next generation of grandparent’s experience the same holiday joy with their grandchildren as that last two generations have.  I pray I am honoring my grandparent’s legacy as I pass onto my grandchildren those Christmas memories they so generously gave to me.

Christmas Eve at my grandparents wasn’t the themed Christmas’ of today, yet holidays with them was every bit as memorable.

My grandparent’s tree was simple with its homemade ornaments and star, yet lacking in luster minus the sparkle of twinkling lights we use today, as the heavier miniature bulbs were popular in their day. I lavish though the ornaments that were passed to me from my grandmother’s tree, thinking of her just the other day when I decorated my own tree with a few of her treasures.

My grandparent’s cardboard fireplace set up in the basement corner looked authentic to a young girl as the plastic Santa sleigh and his reindeer did. I never told grandma, but I looked forward to seeing that fireplace every year, as we didn’t have one at home.

Grandma’s tables were accentuated and lit with holiday candles, which permeated the air with a Christmas fragrance of evergreen.
USE AS MAIN PICTURE 1Stacked by the fake fireplace were all of grandma’s gifts, each wrapped and topped with a pretty bow. Every grandchild snooped and found the package that bore their name in the stack.  With “ants in their pants” they counted the seconds until present time.
USE bowChristmas at my grandparent’s house was not the extravaganza of Christmas’ today. But Christmas at my grandparents nevertheless etched in my heart these framed moments I can see with clarity and enjoy today.

I remember all those rounds of pool with my cousins using the “kiddy pool table” that grandpa let us destroy over the years, while keeping the adult one hidden and covered.

Grandpa wowed and impressed us every year with the unveiling of his newest inventions awaiting a patent. Grandpa was super ingenious and had an infectious laugh.

Grandma kept our appetites satisfied before dinner with appetizers of meatballs and assortments of cheeses and crackers.

Once the dinner bell rang, I can still see Grandma Bertie going up and down the stairs to set the table with her famous roast and side items that completed our dinner. I sure missed her meals when Christmas Eve dinner became too much for grandma to prepare.

But my sweetest memory of Christmas at my grandmothers, was finding the table of her homemade Christmas cookies and peanut butter balls. I stuffed my mouth all night long full of her confections. The plate of cookies was as round as the table.  Grandma had to have baked for days to fill that plate.

When my grandparents passed away, we adult kids were allowed to go through their house and take whatever items remained of their life. I was blessed to inherit my grandmother’s cookbook full of holiday cookie recipes.  That sad day I secretly asked my aunt if anyone had taken grandma’s beaded two-layered table cloth sewn by my great aunt and crystal plate, both which decorated my grandmother’s cookie table every Christmas Eve.

Aunt Bonnie took me to a closet where this “Christmas Gift of Old” hung in quiet silence, hidden probably for years from that final Christmas Eve my grandmother hosted. My aunt was more than proud to say I could have this coveted memory.

Oh the years as I child I admired the intricate time consuming detail of this table cloth while eating my grandmother’s cookies. Now, as an adult, I still admire the time my great aunt gave to making this tablecloth, the inheritance that now covers a table during my holidays. I even serve my Christmas cookies on the same plate my grandmother did, taking me back to the days when Christmas was simpler, yet whose wonderful memories have stood the test of time.

I miss my grandparents and times spent with them as a child at their house on Christmas Eve.

It’s funny how so much energy and money is spent on Christmas gifts that most, including myself, can’t remember what we give or get from year to year.

But I’ve never forgotten my grandmother’s ornaments or cookie table cloth
USE TABLECLOTH FINAL
and plate inherited all those years ago,
USE cookie platter
invaluable gifts from a woman who has no idea how much I appreciate, the holiday gifts given in her honor,

My Christmas Gift of Old.