Holiday Stories

Consider The Lillies

Our daughter, Carol, died on July 3rd, 1980. She was 19 months old. It was devastating for us.

We adorned her small casket with beautiful white daisies. Our family and friends filled the church with arrangements and lots of daisies.

When we were married, we decorated the church with daisies, my favorite flower. Our niece and nephew threw daisy petals down the aisles before I walked to unite with my husband.

The flower is beautiful yet stunningly simple, and I have always admired it.

Everyone that knew us w...

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What is Your Love Language?

It only took 40 years for my husband to realize that bringing me coffee in bed was one of the ways that I felt loved. But, of course, he’s not a coffee drinker, so the smell and taste of freshly brewed coffee in the morning is not a big deal for him.

After we retired, we bought a 26 foot RV and traveled out West to Alaska. It had a small table, a chair, a bathroom, and a tiny kitchen area next to the bed. So, only one of us could be at the cooking area at a time.

One morning while I was still sleeping, he woke me ...

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A Normal Thanksgiving … Finally

It's beginning to look like a more typical holiday season this year. Of course, we did not spend Thanksgiving with our children and grandchildren last year like everyone else.

Missing an almost entire year of holidays with our family has made me rethink how I want to cherish every moment I have with them in the future.

Let me explain. If you have ever read the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible, you know that Mary was the person greeting her guest, washing the feet of Jesus, and peacefully enjoying her company. (Luke 10:38-4...

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Sharing the Season

One year, while we were living in south Texas, I received a box in the mail from my son. The package was about 12X12X12 inches but felt very light. I couldn't imagine what was in it.

The post office had marked it fragile, so I was careful as I removed the tape and slid the lid off. I heard a rustling sound when I moved the box. The gift was wrapped in soft white tissue paper with a tiny piece of tape holding it together.

I carefully eased the tape away from the paper and opened it.  An earthy sweetness rose up to meet a...

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A VALENTINE STORY

Standing at the sink with suds dripping down onto their bare feet was a fun way to wash dishes for my children when they were little.

I would pull a chair up to the sink for them to stand in and then fill it with warm, sudsy water. I provided little things they could wash to entertain themselves.

While I did the rest of the housework, bubbles and giggles were everywhere. And, yes, I had to clean that up too.

However, as they got older, the game became a chore, and their enthusiasm disappeared. My husband helped a...

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Overcoming fear

Other than ghosts and goblins appearing out of nowhere on Halloween to scare us, many spooky things are happening in our world now. We might be startled when someone plays a trick on us or jumps out to scare us, but it will go away after all the trick-or-treat bags have been opened and we put away the scary costumes. I did my Halloween prank accidentally this week when I walked into one of our small local businesses. There weren't many people in the store, and no one was behind the counter. However, I needed a particular item and couldn't f...

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Happy Mother’s Day Rosie

Rosie knelt, felt the pecans in the grass, and then crawled around on the ground, collecting them and depositing them in her bucket.

She is legally blind and couldn't see the nuts when she was standing. Her vision, which had been damaged by scar tissue as a child, was clear enough to make out objects, but she had to get very close to see the details.

When she held the pecans in her hand, she used her sense of touch to tell the difference between good and bad ones.

She could feel if there was a tiny insect hole or...

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My Christmas tree is still up

My Christmas tree is still up. I know — It is the first day of the new year, and it’s time to take the decorations and lights down and get on with life.

However, Christmas isn’t over until after January 6th, when we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany.

The 12 Days of Christmas is the title of a song we know. Still, it refers to the period between Christmas Day, when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, to Epiphany, when they mark his manifestation — “incarnation,” in some Christian traditions.<...

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Memories of Christmas

My favorite memories are the smell of oranges, the crackling sound from our fireplace, and the sight of candy-striped material on my mother’s sewing room floor.

Christmas was the only time we had oranges. Their nostalgic sweet, citrus smell still stirs up memories for me, irrespective of the time of year.

When we lived in South Texas, I loved it when it was time to go to the orange grove to pick oranges. I could hardly wait until we’d get into the car and begin to peel the skins off while the sweet, sticky juice ra...

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Giving The Gift of Life

Dear Santa

“Before you get too busy with all the gift lists, we need your help. We will ask you for a special gift.

We have a friend. He is an Native Indian. He went to fight in the war, in a nation called Vietnam. He's a very tall man, long hair, skinny and dark like some of us Latinos.

Tom does not speak Spanish. He speaks Indian and English, but he is a nice man.

Our friend's name is Tom. Now that he's a little more sick, he went to see his family in Arkansas. But we know you can find him.

...

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The Best is Yet To Come

As I watched the second candle (the candle of Peace) of the Advent season is lit in church on Sunday, I thought of the fork my friend gave me at the very beginning of this Christmas season.

It was something no one had ever given me before–a set of silverware, yes, but not just one fork. However, with the dainty fork that I can wear as a pendant, she gave me a beautiful story to go with it.

It seems a woman had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and she was given three months to live. As she was “getting her aff...

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Imagination is a Gift

“I don’t know what happened,” she said. Suddenly I had this entire white wall as my canvas and a palette of colors to play with. I lost track of time and let my imagination go wild.”

It started as an artistic effort to paint a small mural of flowers on a little girl’s wall. However, my daughter said when she stepped out of our granddaughter’s room two hours later, there was an entire garden scene, complete with an apple tree, sunflowers, and a furry little bunny sitting beneath it all.

<...

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The Santa Claus Story

My husband and I were sitting in a Burger King, having lunch, when a lady approached us and asked, "Sir, would you mind coming into the playroom with our children?" We looked up at her and back towards the room where about 20 little children's faces were pressed against the glass looking our way. "The children think you are Santa Claus," the lady said.

My husband had a white beard and was wearing a Santa hat and a red shirt. He smiled and said, "Sure!" And off he went with a big smile and a little bounce in his step.

He...

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What Grieving Parents Feel at Christmas

There was a quiet sadness that filled the room. Each mother there shared a remarkable memory of her child. It was a comfortable place to be because it was all right to cry.

My friend had invited me to join her in a chapel with a group of mothers. They gathered each Christmas to share memories of their children who had passed away.

Warm, inviting hands reached out for mine as I entered the group. I listened as they shared stories of their children. It had been a long time for some since they had held the warm hands of their chil...

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Little Metal Christmas Trees

It was small, about 2 ½ feet high, with green branches and a different color fiber optic light at each thistle’s end. It sat in a window of our house that faced the street on a small table I found in Mexico. The tiny twinkly lights were constantly changing, and it became a brilliant display every evening as darkness arrived. But, humble as it was, it represented Christmas for us.

Of course, our children were not that impressed with our little artificial tree. They grew up with the smell of pine saturating the house each ...

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A Final Christmas Gift

How do you pick a Christmas gift for someone who only has a few days or weeks to live? That’s the dilemma I had when I got the news that my brother, Gerald, who was in stage four brain cancer, had one last request–to celebrate Christmas with all of his brothers and sisters together.

He knew this would be the last time our family would be with him.

Hospice, a unique nursing service that focuses on terminally ill patients, was called in. The medical staff focuses on the patience pain and symptoms while attendi...

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Shotgun Christmas

We always pretended to be asleep. It was a game we played with our dad on Christmas Eve. He told us he couldn’t signal for Santa until we were sound asleep in our beds.

As soon as he announced it was time to go to bed, we would run to our rooms, change into pajamas and jump into bed to wait for him to come to say goodnight.

He’d lean down close to our faces to see if our eyes were closed. Sometimes I could feel his scratchy beard brush against my cheek. Finally, he turned his face sideways so he could listen...

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A Curious George Christmas

If you are making a list and checking it twice, I think I may have found a children’s movie that may help you fill your Christmas list very simply.

“The Very Monkey Christmas.” It is a Christmastime story about a problem, Curious George and The Man with the Yellow Hat. They must both find out what each other wants for Christmas.

Curious George is an American animated educational children’s television series based on the children’s book series of the same name from 2006-2015.

In this...

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A Different Kind of Turkey Dinner

One year our children and grandchildren joined us in St. Augustin, Florida, to celebrate Thanksgiving. Our daughter suggested we have a different kind of Thanksgiving dinner that year. “A clambake,” she said.

Her suggestion didn’t go over well with her brothers because it brought back memories of a traumatic Thanksgiving meal that caught them off when they were children.

Our three children were in elementary school when we spent our first Thanksgiving...

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Thank You Notes

Inside the small white envelope was a little card with a bear and flowers on the front. When I opened it, a note in a child’s handwriting read, “Thank you, Mrs. Landers, for the movie tickets. We’re going to see Lizzie McGuire. I appreciate your letter. P.S. Thanks.” Signed Sami (with a flower over the I).

It was a thank you note from a child. I sent movie tickets for a story that we published of hers for a contest.

When I finished the note, I thought about how wonderful it was that her mother ta...

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8 tips to be be safe for Halloween

When I was a child, I knew that I could eat as much candy as I wanted on Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. It was great. My parents didn’t seem to be bothered by all the sweets my brothers, sisters, and I could consume in one day.

However, on any other day of the year, they would not let us have as much. It didn’t make sense to me. But, of course, when I became a parent, I understood the need to monitor sweets, and I also became aware of the price of buying candy bags for my children.

So we did pretty much t...

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Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, and everything was going wrong. There was no heat to warm the small trailer where we lived. That was because the butane tank that held the gas was empty.

We called the gas company, but they refused to come out on holiday to fill the tank, even though the temperature would only reach 15 degrees. My husband’s job had brought us to the small Georgia town. He was the new pastor of a small missionary church.

It was so cold in the trailer that the children had to wear their coats and glo...

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Making Room For the Important Things

Recently I heard a beautiful song called “Is There Room.” It made me think of a time when we were invited to a friend’s home in south Texas to share in their family’s Christmas Posada.

Posada is the Spanish word for “inn,” and the Posadas Navideñas recalls the events leading up to the Nativity of Jesus. Las Posadas is a nine-day religious festival celebrated throughout Mexico. It begins on December 16 and ends on Christmas Eve.

It is a way Christian families commemorate Joseph and Mary’...

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Feeling Safe As A Family

At 4:am, my head finally sank into the overly soft pillow in the attic bedroom. I had been waiting for the last child to arrive at the cabin we rented for the holidays.

I was thankful as I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that, once again, our children were under one roof. If I listened intently, I could almost hear each of them breathe, though they were sleeping on different levels of the three-story cabin surrounded by tall gold and red trees.

It was a feeling every Mother longs to feel with her children. If they ar...

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