Tag Archives: family traditions

Mel’s Twelve Memories of Christmas

Today is December 12th. It is not a significant date for me personally, but it does remind me of the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I am sure you all have heard this melody. One of my favorite versions of this song is actually an ice skating performance by Olympic medalist, Scott Hamilton. I was obviously too young to remember watching this on television, but Mom taped to VHS the 1990 Disney’s Christmas on Ice performance that year. We watched it probably every year growing up, as ice skating was a something our family enjoyed…not only watching during the Winter Olympics, but also trying our own talents on the frozen pond out in the field. Let’s just say, I never¬†landed that “Double Triple Axel.” ūüėČ

Pulling out the Christmas DVDs and VHS tapes last week, I found this recording. Exciting! Even better is that captions played too. I was shocked! In watching some of the performances, I got to travelling down memory lane and complied some of my favorite Christmas memories:

12. Caroling: Whether it was with the youth group (the van rides were memories in themselves), my family (we sang at the nursing home), or friends in Denver (we went around the neighborhood, to the fire station, and¬†then sang at the town square by the lighted tree¬†in Arvada)–singing carols and giving¬†baskets of fruit was something I always looked forward to each year.

11. Family ski trips¬†at Wolf Creek: It’s true–

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10. Handel’s Messiah: Last December, we attended a performance at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton. It was just the orchestra and¬†the four soloists: a soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and baritone. Beautiful. If you’ve never listened to the entire oratorio,¬†I recommend¬†it.

9. Coming home¬†for Christmas breaks¬†in college and on Christmas Eve (post-grad): The song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” took somewhat a¬†literal¬†meaning.

8. Calling the grandparents: It was really sad when my hearing no longer permitted me to¬†talk to my grandparents at the same time as my family. (I had to call separate using the internet captel.)¬†But that won’t be the case this year!!

7. I am not sure where the tradition started, but after the Christmas Eve service, we drove around town to see Christmas lights, then came home to watch¬†Jim Henson’s Muppet Christmas Carol. When it finished, we sang Christmas carols by the lighted tree.

6. The gingerbread candle family: When I was about 7 or 8, Mom purchased a candle making kit and we made gingerbread candles for Christmas. (You would not believe how many years the gingerbread scent lasted!) Since there were four of us sisters, we each took a different mold structure and when they were set as candles, we painted them. Best part is that Mom still has the candles and sets them out each year.

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Guess which one is mine–

5. Christmastime by Michael W. Smith: It was the most anticipated album of the season!

4. Community performance of the Nutcracker held at Adams State College: It took place every other year and was always very well done! The youngest ballerinas in training made¬†the cutest mice…how could the Mouse King be intimidating¬†after being associated with them?

3. Decorating my room with Marcia: Sharing a room meant sharing the fun in decorating for the holiday. When we finished, we liked to fall asleep with the Christmas lights twinkling throughout the room.

2. Dad’s French toast: Christmas brunch! Bonus, we got¬†“cutie”-sized oranges¬†in our stockings.

1. “The Little Drummer Boy,” Whiteheart version: 1993. Pure rock, drums…best ever.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions or memories?

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Filed under Family Times, Funny Stories, Random, Uncategorized

It’s different this year…

I knew it would be, but I didn’t think it would be so hard. I think it started when thoughts became reality: this would be the first Christmas¬†in which I would hear¬†no music. Earlier this summer when I gave my cd’s away,¬†the facts were there, but not the season. I am glad I gave when I did…but now it is starting¬†to settle in–Christmas¬†in Silence. Oh, believe me, I sing in my head like a 24 hour radio station, but it’s not quite the same.

There is still joy in the start of¬†December. I am just navigating my way around¬†some¬†“lumps of coal:” some ‘differences’ between Christmas present and Christmas pasts.

Eleven years ago,¬†my Christmas season was not so ordinary either. Between my diagnosis¬†on November 18, 2002 to my first¬†major surgery December 18, 2002–I¬†had missed most of school but still completed my assignments, sat for hours in waiting rooms and bright-colored hospital rooms at¬†Denver Children’s in which I¬†met a whole team of doctors that talked to me about everything that I did not even grasp or understand and still tried to do fun seasonal traditions with my youth group and family.

Then I had my surgery. I think my biggest worry was thinking I would not make it home in time for Christmas. Like I said, I did not (at that point) fathom the seriousness of the surgery and its possible effects nor even living the rest of my life with this disease. I cried more about missing school than fearful emotions (nerd, I know.) The day of the surgery, my pastor and his wife joined my parents and myself in the waiting area. They had brought some gifts from their boys and the youth group. One was a stuffed chicken that played music and danced, “The Chicken Dance” song. For some strange reason this was huge for us back then.

At first, it was just us in the room. Then a couple and a¬†with a small¬†boy, maybe aged 4, joined us. Making casual conversation, they told us that the boy’s name was Gabriel. That is all I know,¬†but I can still see his face when we showed him the dancing chicken.¬†It was silent joy of the season. I saw him a few days later when my sister and I went downstairs to do the craft of the day. Gabriel’s dad was pulling him in a red wagon; my sister was pushing me in a wheelchair.

The craft was a folded photo book. They had loads of Christmas stickers and markers. I just used stickers. I still have the little booklet; It holds five of my favorite pictures from that hospital experience. And I was discharged on Christmas Eve.

scan0001 Note: the reindeer antler headband!

Present day–my handwriting is down to minimal use. My few Thanksgiving cards were simple (I liked it that way.) I¬†knew my Christmas cards would have to be too. Wanting a different but fun¬†greeting card to accompany my picture and¬†“<3 Mel” signature,¬†I decided on stickers. I got twelve cards done and noted how it was¬†like¬†a OT exercise to my fingers. I cried because¬†on a card I messed up my signature and smiley face so bad I was going to throw it away. Mom and Dad said¬†I should still send it.¬†It is not about my signature, smiley face or stickers–it is about bringing joy to my family and friends this season. I¬†need to focus my own joy on that aspect as I finish my cards this week.

It’s only December 1st.¬†I don’t¬†think gratitude should be limited to the month of November. I¬†have much to be thankful for even in the different¬†physical circumstances.¬†Not all is different: Already this upcoming weekend, I have fun holiday events that I plan to attend with¬†my family.¬†Christmas movies have captions and I realized that I can still enjoy the Nutcracker ballet even if I¬†don’t hear the music.¬†Ballet is beautiful. Tis the season¬†for a good cup of peppermint mocha, gingerbread cookies and peanut brittle; carolers, classic Christmas¬†novels by the fireplace, and trees decorated with lights and special ornaments; snow, parties with friends or family, and the times of solitude.

It is the season of giving, the most wonderful time of the year, the joy that is ours in remembering the greatest gift of all:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 ESV

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Family Times, Hospital Trips

“Hey! Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!”

Yeah, probably one of my favorite lines from Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Filmed in 1946, just timeless family classic. Growing up, we had a family tradition to watch Jim Henson’s The Muppet Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve after the church services and It’s a Wonderful Life on New Year’s Eve. Yes, it is a story that takes place on Christmas Eve, but the message always brought in a great ring to the New Year (“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”) No traditions seemed to be any¬†greater than those two.

Yesterday, I had an eye appointment with the neuro ophthalmologist¬†to see how my optic nerves are¬†doing. I had¬†another visual field test and¬†everything seems to be going the direction that they are¬†wanting. The plan is just to stay on the medicine¬†they¬†prescribed for me¬†last appointment and have¬†another follow-up appointment in February. On our way home from Cincinnati, Mom and I stopped by a Barnes and Nobles there in one of the suburbs. I did not have to have my eyes dilated so imagine the ecstatic feeling that I was having. ūüôā We synchronized our cell phone clocks and set a time limit we were for sure bound not to keep. Then we went inside. I just love books! I was not intending really to buy any, because I have been in the process of downsizing my own shelf. But as I passed by the Christmas selection table, my eyes spotted one titled, 52 Little Lessons from It’s a Wonderful Life. I had seen this book before from¬†a trip to BN a week before Thanksgiving–it was a coffee run (Starbucks are limited around this area). But I had decided at that point to wait. Then I forgot about it.

I skimmed over the introduction by its author, Bob Welch. Fifty-two lessons for each week of the year. I bought it and started it this morning. It is like a little devotional that incorporates the lessons taught from the movie. I like it so much I decided to finish it in 52 days instead of¬†weeks. I believe that takes me to almost the end of January. So in essence, I will still be bringing in the New Year with the movie…even if I am not watching it on New Year’s Eve.

I just wanted to share this book with you, because it is a good reminder of little lessons of faith and life that we so often forget…we turn into George Bailey without realizing it. I know I have. It is then that¬†God sends people like Clarence to show me once again how important and special my life is and that it is worth living to the fullest.

Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

~Clarence

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Filed under Books and Movies, Family Times