Holiday Stories

A Normal Thanksgiving … Finally

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

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 10:38-42)<...

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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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Standing at the sink with suds dripping down onto their bare feet was the 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 the sink 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 ...

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Overcoming fear

There are a lot of spooky things going on in our world right now. I mean, other than ghosts and goblins appearing out of nowhere on Halloween to scare us. 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 there was no one behind the counter. I needed a particula...

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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 — Christmas is over, and it's time to take the decorations and lights down and get on with life.

But Christmas isn't really over until after January 6th, the day when many Christians celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany from December 25th until January 6th. These days are a collection of 12 feast days, beginning with Christmas day and ending after the wise men’s revelation. The revelation is called Epiphany or the unveiling or finding God in the flesh (the baby Jesus in the manger).


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Memories of Christmas

What Christmas memories stand out in your mind?  My favorite memories are the smell of oranges, the crackling sound coming from our fireplace, and the sight of candy-striped material on the floor in my mother’s sewing room.

Christmas was the only time we had oranges. Regardless, their nostalgic sweet, citrus smell still stirs up memories for me regardless of the time of year. When we lived in South Texas, I loved it when it was time to go to orange groves and pick oranges. I could hardly wait until we'd get into the car and begi...

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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 there was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was "getting...

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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.

I thought about all the tim...

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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.


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What Grieving Parents Feel at Christmas

There was a quiet sadness that filled the room. Each mother there shared a special 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 and a group of mothers who gather each Christmas to share memories of their children who have passed away.

Warm hands reached out for mine as I entered the group. I listened as they shared stories of their children. It had been longing for some since they had held the warm hands of their children, but the happy memories they...

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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. 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 year ...

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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 asked my sister to take him to the mall and push him from store to store, picking out Christmas gifts for each one of us.  This would be the last time my family and I would have with my older brother, who had been given this sad news.


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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. He turned his face sideways so he could listen to our breathing, th...

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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, in a very simple way, may help you fill your Christmas list.

“The Very Monkey Christmas” is a Christmastime story about a problem Curious George and The Man with the Yellow Hat were having. 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 that ran from 2006...

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A Different Kind of Turkey Dinner

When we all met in St. Augustin, Florida, to celebrate Thanksgiving, there was a reason why suggesting a clambake for Thanksgiving did not go over very well with our children. It brought back memories of a traumatic Thanksgiving meal that caught them off guard long ago.

Our three children were elementary school age when we spent our first Thanksgiving with their grandparents in Missouri. They lived in a big brick house surrounded by 10 acres of rocky land on a rural road at the Ozark Mountain’...

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Thank You Notes

Inside the small white envelope was a pretty little card with a bear and flowers on the front. When I opened it, a note written 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...

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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 all night for the last child to arrive for the Thanksgiving holidays at the cabin we rented in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

I was thankful indeed, as I lay completely peaceful, knowing that once again, all of 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 that we found nestled in the Tennessee Mountains, surro...

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