Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Many Christmases

Let's start at the very begining. Friday, Dec.22nd we had the Grate Christmas at Dayspring Wesleyan Church. Many gathered for good food and fellowship with family. It was a special evening. Grandma was a little confused about who some of us were, but she was in high spirits.

This is Sam and Emmy having a good time being silly.

Below is Kelley and Andrea. Who knew we looked so much alike?

Everyone took this opportunity to get a special picture with Grandma. This is one of my favorites.

Grandma with her 6 children from left to right: Marla, Margo, Brenda, Sis, Marion, and Keever.

These are Margo's 5 daughters and Becky who belongs to Marla. Aren't cousins fun?

Dad took this opportunity to get a special picture with his Mom. I love this one!

Cousin Scott read the Christmas story and did the devotional this year. It was special as always.

Christmas with Jason and Holly and the kids took place on Sat. morning. What a blast we had. The kids were hillarious as they loved each present with such drama. J and Holly were fun too! :) Here you have Jason and Zeke with their new looks.

Elijah LOVED his official Troy Smith jersey!

While Emmy Rae got a new OSU shirt and buckeye necklace. Zeke got an OSU jogging suit so now everyone's ready to go for the big game on the 8th! GO BUCKS!

Next came the Walsh Christmas on Christmas Eve. Everyone had a good time eating and opening presents. I had Aunt Linda's name this year and she loved her Santa decoration. Mom will kill me for posting this picture, but it's too fun not to post. Sorry Mom! She got her brother a Nascar hat, but she's as much a fan as he is, so she tried it on and was being silly. I caught her in the act.

Grandpa Walsh got himself a new coat. He looks pretty happy with this gift.

A traditional family picture!

Christmas morning was enjoyed in it's customary way. We jumped on Mom and Dad's bed about 6:30 which was a little later than normal. They had already been up and were just waiting for us. Jon did join us for the customary wake up call which got some chuckles. Here you have Andrea and I in our Christmas PJ's.

Andrea got Jon a new coat.

Mom loved her Christmas purse from Andrea.

Looks like it was the season for coats. Andrea and I went together to get Dad a new coat too.

Christmas Day was also a sad day because Grandma Grate fell and sprained her wrist and fractured her pelvic bone. She's back in the hospital with another 4-6 weeks in a rehabilitation facility. This made for an unusual Christmas day as it was just mom and I for most of the day. We did have a nice visit with Carolyn for a few hours which made the afternoon fun. Well, as I sit here typing this, I'm thinking about all the decorations I need to take down and the outside lights. It's fairly warm and sunny today, so should I get out there and do it? I sure don't want to. I love putting it all up, but I sure hate taking it down. Well, guess I better get to it. I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful, blessed holiday season like I did!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas pics of kids

I have to add some more pics of more recent Christmases with the kids. The post was mostly old pics so no kiddie pictures were included. But these are too cute to not post.

Elijah instructs me as I play his new gameboy.
Love this crazy grin.
Is it time to open presents yet?
What a sweetheart!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Traditions and Memories

What is it about this time of year that turns us all nostalgic? I am so sappy at Christmas time. I have a special Christmas album with all my Christmas pictures from years past. Every year, I love to pull it out and remember my favorite traditions and memories of the season.

The season officially begins on Thanksgiving evening when we decorate mom and dad’s house for Christmas. This process gets longer each year as mom seems to add trees and decorations galore. It sure is beautiful when it’s finished though. Andrea and I both cherish this time. Jason always found a place to hide or somewhere to go. This was not his favorite part of the season. We listen to all our favorite Christmas music and sing along while we spend hours putting lights on the tree. Mom likes them woven clear into the middle of the tree so it glows all the way through. This is not a fast process, but once you’ve done it this way, you can’t return to just going around the outside. I think the most memorable decorating was the year that we had some little nesters in our decorations. There were not one but two mice in the box. There were shrieks as well as me hurdling the coffee table to jump on the couch. Dad and Jason chased them around the house, killing one, but losing the other under the basement door. Now the little mouse was injured but not dead. I found him the next day while doing laundry. Mom thought there was a mountain lion chasing me out of the basement as I ran from the tiny, injured mouse that was running the opposite direction. This has been a fun memory to revisit through the years.

It was always Andrea's job to do the greenery above the window. She wasn't always happy about this, but she did such a nice job.

Dad helps keep the lights straight.

Andrea and I doing our favorite job.

The Grate clan has always had a huge Christmas each year. When the family was smaller we were at Grandma and Grandpa’s but that time passed about 30 people ago. We now have to rent the family center at Dayspring. This has always been a special Christmas to me. It has never been about presents. Every year Dad or Aunt Marla would read the Christmas story and do a short devotional before we began opening presents. We would sing a few carols and then everyone would go around and give hugs and kisses and Merry Christmases! There was always lots of laugher and tears shed during this time. Through the years, some of us grandkids have taken over those responsibilities. Jason does the story and devotion of the years that he’s there. I’ve even done a year or two. Of course, my year I took us in a different direction and read a beautiful children’s book about the birth of the baby Jesus. We have lots of little kids now that squirm through that time so I thought this might be nice. All the kids get up and say their Christmas pieces or sing/play a special song. The Grate’s have always been musical and that hasn’t changed with the new generations. One year, Grandma stood up and shared how she picked each of her children’s names. That was really interesting and special. That was Grandpa’s last Christmas with us. I remember it so vividly. He felt good that night and had a good time. His own recliner was brought to the family center so he would be comfortable. We all knew, he wouldn’t make it to another Christmas which made it a night of mixed emotions. I got lots of pictures and have very special memories of that Christmas. I also have to add here as I’m re-reading this entry that one favorite memory I have of Christmas at G&G Grate’s was the bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Grandma always took Christmas bulbs and hung them with thread from the ceiling in the living room. It was the coolest thing. All of us grandkids loved it!

This is one of my favorite pictures of Andrea and I with Grandma and Grandpa Grate. Their fun personalities really shine through in this picture.

Jason and Cousin Kyle share a laugh as Jason prepares to get spiritual.


Aunt Marla shares the Christmas story.

The Walsh (my mom’s side) Christmas takes place on Christmas Eve. We go to Grandma and Grandpa Walsh’s house for dinner and presents. This has always been a fun night. Andrea, Jason and I are the only grandchildren so we were a little bit spoiled. We always sat in the living room to eat while the adults sat in the kitchen. We were always impatient to get started with the presents and I think the adults sat extra long just to torture us. Uncle Ed always plays Santa handing out all the presents. Again, there is always lots of love and laughter. On our way home, we always drive around and look at Christmas lights. This is one of my favorite traditions. We have a few neighborhoods that go all out, so it’s fun to drive through and see what new things they’ve added each year. It was always hard to come home and go to bed. I was on gift overload and I knew the best was yet to come.

I love this picture (except for Jason's closed eyes) because Grandma and Grandpa Walsh are genuinely happy to be taking the picture. They don't really like taking pictures and it's sometimes a chore to get Grandma to cooperate. This was a good one.

This is a little more recent and a little more accurate. ;)

Long, Long ago.

Let’s just say, my Mom has some spending issues. But, Christmas is not the time of year that you complain about something like that. Christmas morning was incredible! I’m not sure how much my Dad enjoyed it as he was probably mentally calculating how much overtime he needed to work at GM to cover the cost, but for us kids, it was awesome! It still is! She hasn’t slowed down one bit as we’ve gotten older. I feel very greedy, but I just have to say I love it! Sorry Dad, better build another house! When we were kids, they always put a gift unwrapped in front of the tree from Santa. That was always exciting to see what he brought us. Andrea and I would get Jason up and then go jump on mom and dad’s bed. Of course, they never got up fast enough to please us. And then they thought they needed to brush their teeth and comb their hair. We would be waiting at the top of the stairs ready to race down, but Dad would take his sweet time. It was pure torture. Then finally, he’d say, “I’d better go first to make sure Santa came.” We’d race down the stairs and the fun would begin. I remember many Christmases but the most vivid is the one where I got really sick with Pneumonia and had to go in the hospital on Christmas day and the one where I got all my clowns. That was an awesome Christmas. Want to know what we did last year? Jason and Holly were home for Christmas, but their kids don’t get up early yet. Well Andrea and I are still all about the early. So, Andrea got me up and we went in and jumped on the bed to wake mom and dad up. We decided to open one present each while we waited for the late sleepers to get up. Holly came in and busted us! We felt bad, but Andrea and I just wanted that early morning magic. That’s part of the fun for us. I’m wondering how this year will work with the new hubby? Will Jon jump on mom and dad’s bed too? Ha! That mental picture makes me laugh.

Mom and Jason on Christmas morning.

The 3 of us with many of Andrea's stuffed animals. I don't think Jason and I got those for Christmas.

A special sisterly hug on Christmas morning.

Probably my most special Christmas memories occurred later on Christmas day. We always had visits from Grandparents who would come to see what Santa brought us. G&G Walsh would come for dinner in the afternoon and the G&G Grate would come for leftovers that night. We always played games on Christmas night with G&G Grate. Dominoes were our favorite. They were both ornery little cheaters. We had so much fun laughing at them. Grandpa was a hoot. He had the best sense of humor. I miss him so. It’s just not the same without him. Think they have dominoes in Heaven? I hope so!

A special Christmas day visit with the Joneses and my Grandparents.

One of our famous games of Dominoes. This is probably one of my most favorite memories in the whole world. I love ya Grandpa.

Well, as I sit here on my prep at school with tears streaming down my face, I just want to close by saying that I am so thankful for a family that taught me the true meaning of Christmas and threw in lots of fun and magic to go with it. The memories I have and the many more to be made, will last me a lifetime. I’m also thankful for a savior who came as a tiny baby to save us. All these special memories were made because of a holiday that celebrates his birth. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year!



Look Who's 8!

Well, it's little guy's 8 years old. It's hard to believe. Aunt Kelley is feeling really old. The wierd part is to think how fast it has gone and in 8 more, he'll be driving. Scary! We celebrated this occasion at my house on Sat. I had the kids Friday night while Jason and Holly enjoyed Christmas with friends in Ft. Wayne. Sat. Mom and Dad drove over for the day. The only ones missing were Andrea and Jon. They were missed. Elijah asked about 11:00am what time they were getting there. He was a little bummed but got over it when he saw Aunt Andrea sent her present with Grandma. Ha! Aunt Kelley threw Elijah a "Pirates of the Carribean" party since he loves that movie. We all wore our pirate hats to get into the spirit. Elijah and Aunt Kelley in their pirate hats.The big 8 year old!
What a cool cake!
He got all the candles on the first blow.
The Movie! Aauugh!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

And the winner is....

The winner for this year's Christmas card photo is....

This was my favorite picture as well as many of you. Thank you for your input. Now, to receive this Christmas card, right click on the picture, save picture to your computer photos. Print picture. Hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Long Awaited Photos

Okay, here they are, the long awaited Christmas card photos. It took me a little longer to get mine ready as I had to take a trip to Marion to get the different trees. Going to my mom's is like going to a Christmas store with many different displays to choose from. I would like to thank my photographers, Mom, Andrea and Sue for making this dream a reality. Please let me know which one you would like to display on your fridge. :) As requested, me and my little Sandy.
Mom's dining room tree.
Glamour shot by mom's living room tree. Wish I could airbrush this like the magazines do.

Santa and I by Mom's bedroom tree.
Cozy by the fireplace pontsettias.

Hiding the parts of myself I don't really like behind the pontsettias.