Gratitude Day 189 – Being Raised

Sat., Jan. 5, 2019

1 Corinthians 6:14 – God has raised the Lord and will raise us through his power.

While everyone is packing away their Christmas decorations and moving onto Valentine’s day, I’m still savoring Christmas. Technically, Christmas goes until today, which is the 12th day of Christmas. And so, I share one more Christmas post; maybe as a bit of inspiration for us to think about how we are “raised.”

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Hubby Rick and I don’t exchange Christmas gifts. We never really have, by choice. Honestly, I don’t expect Christmas gifts. We’ve consolidated our Christmas giving to our grandchildren and very little beyond this.

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However, we received one Christmas gift that truly is special. Rick’s sister, Linda, gave it to us. When she arrived at our house on Christmas day, she left it on our beautiful front porch, right next to the homey Christmas decorations we’ve enjoyed. A couple days later when it had snowed, I saw it on the porch and bought it inside. This is what it looked like.

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I put an old towel underneath to let the snow soak into. And soon enough, this is what it looked like.

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It’s nearly perfect for us.

Rick and I were both raised on dairy farms. We both have put in plenty hours milking cows, mowing hay and doing the yucky jobs that are part of growing up on a farm. Rick also hauled milk for 25 years. This means he picked up the milk from various farms and delivered it to the local processing plant where it was turned into cheese or butter. When Rick and I planned to get married, his son, Darran, took over the family milk hauling business. Darran continues to haul milk today.

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On my family farm, my sisters and I also raised sheep. For us girls, this was a way for us to put a little money into our savings accounts, which was used when we attended college. My sister Debbie still raises sheep and allows me to be involved every once in a while.

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Look a little more carefully at the old window. I knew exactly where it came from. It is an original window from the house where Rick’s parents lived the last 50+ years of their lives. This house was built in 1850 by a General Starks, who also happened to be a general during the Civil War. Built as a glorious house in its day, at one point, the house was a stage coach stop. This window is one of the original windows, indicated by the wavy glass. I have a few other of these windows in our house as well; used for decoration.

So much heritage in one window.

So much reflection about who Rick and I are and where we came from. How and why we were raised.

Yes, we were raised on farms. This has colored who we are, our work ethic, our occupations and how we view life. Rick’s son, Darran, has chosen to raise his kids very much like he was raised: on a farm, with animals and a dad who hauls milk.

While being farm-raised is a cornerstone of who Rick and I are, there is another similar aspect of our backgrounds. We were both raised with an emphasis of having faith in our lives. We both grew up going to church. Our families, as well as ourselves, have been very involved in a faith community like, forever. We make faith an active part of our daily lives; not just in what we do but also in the choices that we make.

Just as it is impossible for Rick and me to separate our farm roots from who we are, it’s just as impossible for us to separate our faith roots as well. We are both grateful that our parents made sure faith was just as important in our lives as making hay and feeding calves. Yes, we still struggle with faith and God’s role in our lives and the world. But at the end of the day, we know giving up on faith is just as impossible as not appreciating the hard work and dedication being involved in production agriculture requires.

So, how were you raised? What values were instilled in you as being most important? How do you share these values with your children and/or grandchildren?

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Sister Linda – thanks for the wonderful reminder of our roots. I’m still looking for a special place to put in our home. Maybe after the Christmas decorations are finally down.

For great reminders what being raised with what we consider important, I am grateful.

Holy God – thank you for giving each one of us life. Thank you for families and people who have taught us values that were important to them, which they passed onto us. I pray we see being raised in faith as a cornerstone of our very lives. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 184 – Treasures

Fri., Dec. 28, 2018

Luke 2:19 – But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

There are SO many things to treasure at Christmas time. Here are just a few things that have been happening in our world the last few days.

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Our friend Tatev visited us for several days over Christmas. It’s always a treasure to have her stay with us.

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We hosted family on Christmas day. Here is Hubby Rick and nephew Kevin in rare form. After an early morning of ice fishing, maybe they were a bit tired and easily amused! (As the picture was being taken, Rick informed me that it had better not end up on the internet. Sorry …)

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A whole bunch of other things happened but I have no pictures to show them.

 

Everyone’s Christmas is unique and different. Every year, our celebrations are just a bit different.

I pray we find special moments in these days that we can treasure; memories for future days and times.

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This week is a good week to ponder. I pray you are finding some time to do so. I’m looking forward to some soon!

For simple treasures in our world, I am grateful.

Lord God – it’s easy to look at social media and see someone else’s treasures and overlook our own treasures. It’s easy to think that other families have “better” celebrations. It’s easy to expect things to be different than they are. I pray we can find special treasures in these days. Help us to ponder the deeper meaning of the season and this time in our lives. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 180 – Less Is More Christmas

Thurs., Dec. 20, 2018

Luke 2:10 –   The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people.  DSC06974

OK, it’s just a few days before Christmas. Two days ago, I was trying to figure out how I was going to get everything done that I still want to accomplish before Christmas. Later, I regrouped. I rethought. And I came up with a new plan; one, I’m confident is more realistic.

Why do we try to do SO MUCH during the holidays? Are we consumed with the right things?

Too often: No.

Interested in my revised plan?

Good. Here it is: Top 10 Most Important Ideas Right Before Christmas:

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  1. DON’T add any more people to your gift-giving list. If they weren’t on your list by now, DON’T ADD THEM. In fact, look over your list and decide where you can cut back if you are still navigating the shopping/wrapping/preparing gift business. (For those of you whose gifts are perfectly wrapped and under the tree, well, you can skip to #9.) The rest of us? Simplify gift-giving. Buy less, use something you already have or just decide that time with this loved one is more important than a gift. Look at the 5-Minute Gift and be inspired to make something that will be special for this person

 

9. DO plan time with a special friend, family member, spouse, etc. I’ve had time with my dear friend Mary Ann this week. We had a specific project that we planned to work on. Problems beyond our control slowed us down. Way down. These special Christmas gifts I had planned will probably not get done by the time I had hoped. Rather than focusing on what isn’t getting done, we’ve hung out and enjoyed a delicious malt Mary Ann’s husband, Bob, made for us.

8. DON’T try to squeeze in one more party than what you’ve already got on the calendar. Running to five different celebrations in 36 hours isn’t heroic. It’s craziness. Pick one or two. Let the rest go.

  1. DO extend the holidays and celebrate beyond the normal Christmas time. I had hoped to have a dear friend over before Christmas. There is literally not a day when we can both make it work. So, we picked a day after Christmas. Problem solved. I’m feeling great that we will see each other. We’re both feeling less stress and know this will be more enjoyable for both.

 

  1. DON’T have ridiculous expectations. Somewhere along the way in the next five days, someone will loss their temper. Someone will feel left out. Someone will be disappointed. Maybe you will be the one! Hubby Rick often reminds me that it is best to have low expectations and be pleasantly surprised when something goes beyond your bottom-of-the-totem pole expectations.

 

  1. DO plan on down time. Hope in the car and drive around and look at Christmas lights. Make a batch of hot chocolate and watch a movie. Get out your favorite card or board game and have a mini-marathon session. Let your soul be restored; not frazzeled.

 

  1. DON’T decide this is the week to go on a diet, try a new exercise routine or follow a tight budget. This are all noble and great ideas. Just probably not this week. Pick a date in the near future when starting to make a change is more realistic.

 

  1. DO take time and think about the last year. What were some of your favorite moments? When could have you responded to a situation with more grace? What lesson did you learn this year can you take forward and use as a spring board for future growth and change?

 

  1. DON’T expect the week to be only filled with Hallmark-worthy pictures and moments. Most of us don’t live in Unrealisticville. Keep your celebrations true to who you are and the traditions you value.

 

  1. DO remember the good news of the season. The angels told the shepherd’s the news was for all people; not just some poor shepherds who were herding wooly sheep on a Judean countryside. This good news is for us as well! How might we keep focused on this great and wonderful news? THIS is the reason we celebrate Christmas. Everything else is residual.

There will be moments in the next five days when I will forget to focus on this list. I pray that I remember to come back to this list of 10 simple ways to come back to the whole reasons we celebrate Christmas.

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For simplifying Christmas, I am grateful.

Lord God – may we not be afraid to slow down and hear the angels sing today. May we be amazed that the Messiah has been born. Help us see the most important aspects of Christmas this year. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 179 – A 5-Minute Gift

Tues., Dec. 18, 2018

Matthew 2:11 –  They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Anyone trying to figure out a gift for a loved one yet? And feeling the reality of just a few more shopping days before Christmas?

I have a solution for you. It’s quick, easy and you may not even have to leave the house!

Would you like to “borrow” my 5-minute gift idea?

Good. Here it is:

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A recipe memory box.

The last number of months, I have been going through boxes and boxes of things from my Mom and grandmothers. These 30 or so boxes have been moved multiple times. Last winter, Hubby Rick shared with me that either I go through these boxes or he would start putting them into the garbage. The hint was taken.

As I have gone through these boxes, I have found some treasures, some interesting things and some things that just needed to find their way to Goodwill, the garage or someone else’s house.

One day, I ran across just a few of my Mom’s recipes. My Mom had a large box of recipes. She also had tons of recipe books as well as recipes in binders. I found maybe 20-30 recipes, truly a small sampling of her recipes. I’m not quite sure why or how these recipes were separated from the others. I laid them aside, wondering what to do with them.

Eventually, I came up with this idea. I asked my sister, Debbie, to send me some spoons from my Mom’s everyday silverware. I asked her not to ask me why; just put them in the mail and send to me. And she did. Once I had the spoons in hand, I was ready to make these recipe memory boxes.

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I purchased shadow boxes for the ones that I made. I got them from Michaels for about $10 each. Choose what size you want. My boxes were 12×12”. If you don’t have an official shadow box or don’t want to go to the store and get one, don’t! Use a regular picture frame that you have on hand. You may not be able to include a piece of silverware. Maybe you have something else you can use instead.

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First, I removed the back of the shadow box. I used the white piece of paper in the box as the backing for the recipes. I kept it all very simple, not wanting to add anything extra to what was already there.

Then, I picked out the recipes I wanted to use for each box. A high priority was to use recipes hand-written by my Mom. I chose to use original recipes, not copies, as I felt this made them really look authentic. Several of the recipes have stains on them, earned by repeated use by my Mom. Some have frayed edges. Most were discolored. I thought each of these attributes only made the recipes look more special. I tried to pick recipes that I felt might be significant for the family member who would be receiving each particular box.

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I put the spoon on first towards the bottom of the piece of paper with a hot glue gun. Apply hot glue only on the surfaces that touch the paper. Next, position the recipes where you want them to be. I put two recipes in each box. You can use as many or as few as you wish. Run a bead of hot glue around the perimeter of the recipe, flip it over and attach to the backing paper.

Let the glue set-up for a few minutes. Put the paper with the recipes and/or silverware into the box. Close the back. Wrap. In 5-minutes, you can have a special, meaningful and very cool Christmas present.

Maybe recipes aren’t your thing. Think of something that meaningful for your family. Arrange it on a piece of paper cut to the size frame or shadow box you have and in 5-minutes, you’ll have a present!

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I made recipe memory boxes for the Deaton women in our family. They LOVED them, or at least this is what they told me!

When the magi came to visit baby Jesus, they brought seemingly very unpractical gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh. Actually, each gift shared something very special about Jesus:

The gold reminds us that Jesus is the king of kings;

The frankincense symbolized Jesus’ deity as God;

Myrrh, a common embalming oil, represented death.

As I get older, the reason for giving gifts has changed. I love gifts that share a tradition of the past and hope for the future. Well-worn recipes draw us, Mom’s family, back to a time when we enjoyed the foods she made for us and her passion to cook and bake.

Before you run off to the store to get a last-minute gift, stop. Think. Reflect upon something you have that might be meaningful to a loved one. Something that tells a family story or history. Find a fun way to share this gift with loved ones. I have a hunch these gifts will be dearly loved and treasured.

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For gifts that help us discover our family and heritage, I am grateful.

Almighty God – as the magi presented gifts to Jesus and his parents, we too, present gifts to people important to us. I pray we see the ultimate present of Christmas as Jesus, God’s son, who comes to us in the form of a baby. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 178 – The Journey of Family

Mon., Dec. 17, 2018

Luke 2:3-4 – Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea.

This past weekend, Hubby Rick and I made our annual journey to Augusta, WI for the Deaton family Christmas. On Saturday, my siblings and our significant others, my nieces, nephews and their children all descended upon my sister Debbie’s house for our annual Christmas celebration.

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For our family, this is our annual journey to the little town where I grew up. Augusta is small; about 2,000 people. It’s where I graduated from high school, where our family attended church and grocery shopped. There was even a time when I held the title Miss Augusta.

When it came time for my parents to move off of the farm where they raised their family, they moved into a house on Main Street … in Augusta. While I have not lived in the Augusta area for decades, this is still the area where I grew up. Where I remember going to the Red Dot café with my Dad. Where I still know every word of the high school cheer song when it is played.

Instead of Bethlehem, our family journeys to Augusta each Christmas. Together, we read the Christmas story, eat a large meal and take the annual Deaton Christmas photo. It has become a tradition that we all look forward to and no one wants to miss.

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Knowing we’re covering multiple generations, we’ve tried to make it fun for all ages. There’s a craft for the kids. Favorite Christmas cookies. Usually, a card game. This year, we included our dear family friends, Donald, Celeste and Ruthie, who were neighbors when we lived on the farm and have been a special part of our family.

Several years ago, we started the Deaton Family Gift Exchange, which has truly become the highlight of the day. Rather than purchasing gifts, I wrap up a whole bunch of family “treasures.” We have a white elephant gift exchange. Some of the gifts have significance. Some are just plain silly. Others are not highly sought out by anyone. With each gift, I write a little story, explaining the significance of this item.

I knew this year’s gift exchange would not top last year’s Deaton Family Gift Exchange. After multiple requests, the beloved Winnebago camper was the highlight of last year’s exchange. It’s the camper I received for Christmas when I was 5 or 6. Every Deaton child, neighborhood children and young kid who walked into my Mom’s house probably played with the Winnebago. Nephew Ben proudly ended up with the Winnebago last year. It keeps a special spot in his living room.

As I wrap and prepare the gifts, I’m never quite sure what items will be most sought after. Or what item no one will want. Again, this year, I was completely surprised.

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My great-niece Snow was the second person to unwrap a present. Naturally, she picked the biggest box, as any 5-year-old would. Inside? This bucket. Immediately, we ALL knew the history of this bucket.

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Probably an old lard bucket, its sat underneath my Mom’s kitchen sink for decades. Literally, decades. This was her potatoes and onions bucket. She also put peelings and other scraps into the bucket. When it was time to feed the sheep, the bucket was taken with and emptied.

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This bucket as a lot of usage miles on it. Hubby Rick could not believe that I had driven this beat-up bucket to our house, only to wrap it up, so it could make the journey back to Augusta one more time.

Snow tried diligently to pawn the bucket off each time a new gift was unwrapped. She wasn’t very successful. Later, Rick “traded” Snow for the bucket, specifically, so he could leave the bucket under Debbie’s tree, a gift for her to discover later.

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At last year’s Deaton Family Christmas, my Mom was there. It was really the last day she was fairly alert. The next day, she began a steady decline in which just a few weeks later, she passed away.

How fitting that Mom’s bucket became the gift everyone had a story about and the one we talked about all afternoon.

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When Mary and Joseph made the journey to Bethlehem, they had no idea how this one trip would change their lives. When my parents traveled from central Iowa to northern Wisconsin on a very cold day in February 1961, could they anticipate how this one trip would change our family forever? I hardly think so.

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Life is full of journeys. Some of these journeys are exciting. Some are difficult. Some take bends and corners we’d rather live without. Every family has a journey. Every family has history. Every family has things that draw out memories and stories, just like this bucket.

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Our Deaton family isn’t perfect. We have lots of things that we’d like to change. At times, we disappoint each other and forget to give each other enough grace.

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Yet, we’re still family. We are the ones who will continue the journey my parents began years ago. I love that we take time on Christmas to remember parts of this journey, share it with each other and keep the spirit of my parents and our grandparents as part of our Christmas celebration.

Our village isn’t Bethlehem. It’s Augusta. It’s part of our story, our journey.

What’s your journey?

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For journeys of family yesterday, today and tomorrow, I am grateful.

Merry Christmas from the Deaton’s.

Holy God – it’s nearly impossible to understand how one journey to Bethlehem changed so much. It’s difficult to imagine the emotions and feelings Mary and Joseph felt as they were on this journey. As we journey in life, may we always see you as part of our journey. May we keep our eye on you, the one who knows best how we should steer our journey. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 168 – Unwrapping Christmas

Sat., Dec. 1, 2018

Matthew 2:11 – The Wise Men went to the house. There they saw the child with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures. They gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

As you read the following quote, please note the year it was written:

“Twenty-five years ago, Christmas was not the burden that it is now. There was less haggling and weighing, less quid pro quo, less fatigue of body, less wearing of soul; and most of all, there was less loading up with trash.”

–  Meredith Deland in Harper’s Bazaar, 1904

Can you imagine what Meredith Deland might say today if she observed some of our Christmas traditions? Might she be even more appalled?

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In the last years, I have tried to unwrap Christmas and refocus on the true meaning of what I feel Christmas is: the birth of a baby that became the Savior of the world. Yes, it’s hard to give up those traditions which we have embodied for years. (True confession: I ordered Christmas cards again this year. A lot of them, even though I keep thinking I’m going to edit this whole deal. So, I send them out again because LOVE hearing from people that I often do not see.) I will bake our favorite cookies. But there are areas where I try to pull back the glitzy wrapping paper and get to the true heart of Christmas.

One way I do this is how I approach gift-giving. I’m not trying to convince anyone to stop giving gifts to people they love. I encourage us to be more thoughtful in how we go about gift-giving.

To help spur us into why reconsidering gift-giving, look at these statistics:

53.1% of people report receiving unwanted gifts during Christmas. This amounts to $16 billion of unwanted gifts every year. (What COULD be done with this money?!) Reports indicate 18% of gifts are never used and 4% of gifts are immediately thrown into the trash.

This speaks nothing of overspent Christmas budgets. Or how one-quarter of Americans are still paying off last year’s gifts.

What are we to do? How can we reframe Christmas gift-giving into something more meaningful? Can we stop buying for those who really don’t need or want a gift? Can find joy in other ways?

Here are a few suggestions to help us unwrap Christmas:

  • Stop purchasing gifts for those who don’t need or want a gift. Choose alternative ways to celebrate. For many of us, if we “need” something, we find a way to get it. “Waiting” until Christmas for a special gift happens less often. From the beginning of our marriage, Hubby Rick and I agreed NOT to purchase each other Christmas gifts. Rather, we make contributions towards families who have a need. Last week, Rick announced that he had completed his Christmas shopping. A young driver that Rick works with will soon begin his second round of cancer treatment. The co-drivers collected money and gave it to him at Thanksgiving. I’m confident my “Christmas” present is important to this family that has young children. Each year, Rick and I pick families and given them a little extra cash at the holidays. The cards and letters back from these families have made us cry. In subsequent years, often these same families have paid forward our gift to another family in need. Rick and I love giving these gifts as our presents.

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  • Wrap up special and funny family items and turn it into a gift exchange. This is my FAVORITE way we have unwrapped Christmas. My nieces and nephews would agree. For the last several years, I have put together the Deaton family gift exchange. I wrap up items from our family. Some are special and meaningful, i.e. – my Dad’s dog tags. Others are quite silly – the 4-H songbook when my siblings and I used to go Christmas caroling to shut-ins. I include little stories with the items. At our Deaton Christmas, we open these gifts in an orchestrated way. The process has become so special I’ve had to create “rules.” To learn more about how we do this, read my post about the Winnebago camper, the highly coveted gift in last year’s exchange. Family members repeated tell me: DON’T STOP doing the Deaton family gift exchange. This event special because it has also become a way we pass family history and stories from generation to generation.
  • Make a gift. Last year, I made a crayon wall hanging for our granddaughter, Ellie. After she opened it, I realized her brothers felt disappointed they didn’t receive something like this. This year, I am making presents for our three youngest grandkids. Being crafty is not a requirement. I still have the shelf my Dad made for each of his kids one Christmas. My sister-in-law Linda gives us canned goods from her garden each year.
  • Make a donation to charity. While Charitable Tuesday is past, I am confident charities will still accept donations. It can be a monetary gift or an in-kind gift. Take your children or grandchildren shopping and let them pick out items to donate. Our local food pantry is encouraging people to donate toiletries this Advent. Blankets, pj’s, coats (new or gently used) – there’s always a need.

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  • Make a birthday box for Jesus. I will share this calendar during kid’s time at church on Sunday and encourage their families to make a birthday box for Jesus. They can give the box to a family in need or bring it to Christmas Eve worship, where it can be donated to the local food pantry.
  • Memorable “silly” presents. We do this with our grandkids and Rick’s kids. I wrap items from the Dollar Store or other silly items in little gifts bags. We take turns opening these bags and seeing what silly thing is inside. There is always exchanging after we’re done, because who wants pink bifocals other than Grandpa? The kids talk about the oranges, apples, flarp, and goofy mustaches they got at our Christmas celebrations.
  • Plan a special outing. Pick something you can do together: sledding or ice skating, a movie, bake cookies and deliver to neighbors or something else that you come up with. We’ve stayed overnight at a hotel with a waterpark with our grandkids and nephews in lieu of more presents. Create a tradition which focuses on something other giving gifts and expresses how special our loved ones are.

Yes, I am buying a few Christmas presents. It’s hard to completely get away from this, especially when kids or grandkids are involved. I’ve watched our grandkids count how many packages each received and compared with each other. When this happens, this as an opportunity to unwrap why we give gifts at Christmas.

The wise men didn’t show up empty-handed at the stable. While their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh seemed unpractical for a baby, their symbolism was powerful; then and now. Giving gifts can be very powerful and positive. Maybe we just need to unwrap how and why we give them this Christmas season.

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For the chance to unwrap Christmas and focus on heart-felt gift giving, I am grateful.

Holy God – unfortunately, we’ve taken the concept of giving gifts, represented by the wise men, and often turned it into something driven by consumerism and unrealistic expectations. May we be inspired to unwrap Christmas in a new way this year. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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The Winnebago Camper

DSC06196Sun., Dec. 24, 2017

Luke 2:7 – And she wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

 It’s just a toy Winnebago camper, circa early 1970’s. But nephew Ben thought he’d won the jackpot.

When I was 5- or 6-years-old, all I wanted for Christmas was a Barbie camper. Apparently, they were terribly expensive. Instead, my Mom bought me this Winnebago camper for $10-11. I remember opening it on Christmas morning, still in my pajama’s. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, and it was the only gift I received that year, but it was a camper.

This camper has brought years and years of joy and happiness to our Deaton family. I grew up in an old farmhouse with hardwood floors. I can still hear the sound of the camper’s wheels being pushed across the floor. Full-size Barbie’s didn’t fit inside the camper. But we could sit on top of the camper and ride it. Not only did my sister’s and I play hard with the Winnebago, later, it was the favorite toy for my niece and nephews to play with. After my parents moved to town, they rode it down main street. Inside the house, they would make a circle through the dining room, living room and kitchen, going from carpet, hardwood floors and linoleum with each pass.

It’s been played hard. The rear window is missing. The bumpers have hit way too many walls. But it’s mere presence drums up a whole bunch of fun memories.

For the last several years, presents with my Deaton family have taken on a whole new twist. (I explain this more in https://simplewordsoffaith.com/2016/12/13/were-they-practical-gifts/) I wrap up items from my parents, grandparents and long-standing family traditions. With each gift, I include an accompanying story, sharing a little history of this item. Each year, there are highly sought after presents: my Dad’s dog tags from when he was in the service, a photo book from when he was stationed in Germany. Since we began this tradition, my niece and nephews have been asking when the Winnebago camper would be included. Everyone knew this would be a highly sought-after item.

This was the year.

Last week, I went through boxes of items from my Mom’s and pulled out 22 items, wrapped them and the accompanying stories. Then, I went and found my beloved Winnebago camper and wrapped her up. When I shared with Rick that the camper was part of the Deaton gift exchange, he asked me if I really wanted to let it go. I felt it was time to let another family continue the joy of this very special item.

It was clear my niece and nephews were anticipating the Winnebago. There had been advance plotting and planning for who would end up with the camper. Naturally, being the biggest box, it was the first gift opened by great-nephew Dane. He was cautioned that while it was his for the moment, it wouldn’t be his for long as stealing gifts are part of the exchange.

Quite honestly, there were lots of super cool items in this year’s Deaton gift exchange. My grandfather’s high school diploma from 1925. The honorary FFA Chapter Farmer plaque my Dad received. A copy of the sale catalog from when my parents disperse our registered Holstein herd in 1987. My Dad’s 4-H record books. The well-worn Uno cards were busted out for another game. Not so popular? The Easter basket from the 1960’s. The head silhouette of my sister Debbie. Even her husband, Keith, didn’t select this. Niece Jenny was stuck with Debbie’s framed head from third grade.

The last person who selected a gift was my nephew Ben’s wife, Jackie. Yep, she picked the Winnebago for her husband Ben, which let to flurry of last minute gift steals and exchanges. No doubt, Ben was one happy camper last night as he loaded the beloved Winnebago into their vehicle to take home. For him, this was the best Christmas gift he could have received.

Ben - winnebago
The new proud owner of the Winnebago – my nephew Ben

As much joy and laughter we experienced at our Deaton family Christmas yesterday and as many cool memories the Winnebago camper eludes, let’s not forget THE single greatest gift of Christmas ever: the birth of Jesus. As we gather with family and friends today and tomorrow; as we sit in worship tonight with lit candles and sing “Silent Night,” I pray we can be very thankful we have a God who loves us so much that he sent his only son into this world for all our benefit. This is the reason why we celebrate. This is the reason we exchange gifts. This is the reason we even have a Christmas. It’s a gift even more special than the Winnebago camper.

From all the Deaton clan, I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

DSC06175Lord God – Words can’t express the deep gratitude for the gift of your Son, Jesus, into this world. I pray we see your love as the reason for the season.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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