Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Memory Chain

Here's an idea my family has enjoyed for almost 30 years now that has kept us from getting too distracted by the little stresses and reminded us of what's most important....

Years ago, when my husband and I were first married and about to join my parents, my sister, brother-in-law & 2 nephews and my brother and sister-in-law for a Christmas Eve dinner, I was anticipating all the little stresses that would go along with such an event. Which serving dish was appropriate for what...whose recipe to use for something-or-other...did the napkins match and did somebody remember to iron you want me to wash that for you, no, I just did that, Mother...etc., etc., etc. Not to mention the commentary on my haircut and my outfit! Maybe your family isn't like that, but mine was back then, or so it seemed to me at the time.

I was determined to find a way to deflect all the tension and remind everybody to have fun and enjoy each other. So here's what I came up with...a Christmas Memory Chain.

I cut strips of construction paper to make a paper chain. On each link I wrote a Christmas memory. I started with the kind of things you think of when you say "It's just not Christmas until..." or "You know it's really Christmas when...." and then branched out to funny or sweet things I remembered from Christmases past. I had no trouble coming up with things to write! Here are some of them:

Red & Green Hershey's Kisses in a silver candy dish (My mom put that out every year!)

Candles lit in every room

"What size does your mother wear?! (My dad could never remember!)

Steve & Eydie on the radio

Christmas Ideals magazines sent every year from Aunt Fiesty (yes, I really did have an "Aunt Fiesty!" That wasn't her real name...we just called her that because she was!)

"You can't come in here!" (something my mother always yelled from behind a closed door when she was wrapping presents!)

A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV

The weatherman's radar showing Santa's getting close!

Aunt Becky's "pregnant" Christmas tree (flat on one side and rounded on the fit perfectly up against her window!)

So many more, but I won't bore you with them all here!

I gathered my paper chain and we took it with us to my sister's house.

At some point in the evening I got up and I hung this paper chain around the bookshelves in my sister's living room. Right away everybody started asking what it was and what it was for. I just told them to go read it. They did.

They'd read one and smile. They'd read another and grin even bigger. By the time they read a third they'd be laughing and reading them to each other out loud!

We had a wonderful time reliving some great Christmas memories. Good thing I'd brought along more blank links for the chain because we thought of lots more things to add to it.

Now, each year, we all notice things that should be added to our Christmas Memory chains, whether figuratively or literally. Whether I use an actual paper chain now or not, there's always something that happens every year that makes me say "Oh, there's a good one for the Memory Chain!"

So, whether you're looking for something to get your extended family laughing or just an excuse to tell stories to your kids, you might want to give this a try this year. It might become a tradition for your family, too! (You can keep the kids busy decorating the links of the chain, too!) Let me know how it works for you!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Packages and Choir Dolls

For the past couple of days I've been gathering everything that must be mailed to members of my extended family for Christmas. Since I live in Maryland and most everybody else lives in Texas, that's a lot of people. Now, my thing isn't about spending a lot of money and shopping for the next big thing. Mainly because I don't have a lot money...never have...never expect to. Necessity is the mother of invention, so they say. In my family, make that poverty is the mother of creativity!

I don't know if my mother made these because of a lack of money for buying decorations or if it was just a burst of creativity. I say a burst because with my mom we saw a steady stream of creativity and talent every day of our lives. But I remember when she made these choir dolls by folding magazines, spray painting them and adding a few other details. They're made with a copy of Look magazine, one Good Housekeeping and a TV Guide. My dad drew the faces and cut them out. I helped by staying out of the way!

These choir dolls were put on display in a place of honor atop the piano every year at Christmastime until they practically fell apart. I still have these original dolls. One year I started to make new bodies for them, finding current magazines of the appropriate sizes and I made an interesting discovery. Today's magazines have at least four times the amount of pages that magazines had in the early sixties! If I try that again I'll have to do it with with much less than a whole magazine! I'll get to it someday. In the meantime, here's a picture of the originals:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Happy 100th Birthday, Grandma!

Yesterday was my grandmother's birthday...her 100th birthday!

I didn't get to go to the party since she lives in Texas and I live in Maryland, but I sent flowers to honor the occasion. I talked to my sister tonight and got a good report of the festivities and it sounds like a good time was had by all, especially Grandma!

A few weeks ago I was in Texas for a brief visit and my sister and brother-in-law and I went to see Grandma. We had brought along some old family photos we'd found that we'd never seen before. One photo showed what appeared to be a large family gathering of some kind...several couples with kids of all ages, one mother holding her baby in her lap. We showed it to her and asked if she knew anything about it. She perked right up and said "Oh, yes! That baby is me! I was six months old!" She said it was a family reunion and she pointed to each person, reciting their names and relationships, telling us the whole story of the event as though it had just happened last week.

We were spellbound. Well, at least I was. My sister was scrambling to write down everything she was telling us so we could have it all documented!

100 years. She told me once how she used to pick cotton as a child of 6 or 7, with the hot Oklahoma dirt burning the soles of her bare feet as she dragged that long sack of cotton behind her. And yesterday, I was ordering flowers for her over the internet and now I'm sharing the story with all of you. 100 years...amazing....

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sale Time!

It's sale time...I mean that two ways. First, I have things on sale in my Etsy shop. All my pocket mirrors and notecards are 10% off now through Dec. 8th. This is part of the Etsy Blogger Street Team's Holiday Sale. And second, I'm hoping that this sale will lead to ...uh...sales!

Here are some of the pocket mirrors I have, which are all made from recycled magazine images and are each One Of a Kind. These would make perfect stocking stuffers or wrap them up and put them under the Christmas tree!