Category Archives: Christmas

The Ugly Christmas Blessing

Pheasant scarf

Often times in our lives, we have unexpected surprises come our way, whether it be in the form of an unexpected guest, phone call or especially hidden surprises in the mail.  And while these little surprises are at times, a hair less than welcome, we still need to address the “opportunity” and go on with our lives.  At Christmas time, these little surprises may end up wrapped in pretty paper and topped with a bow; later to be re-gifted to another, unsuspecting receiver of good things.  So was the case one year with my wife.

Jenny, had been diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) soon after her thirtieth birthday and wanting to be as informed as possible, we decided to contact the Dayton chapter of the Lupus foundation for information and support.  A couple of years after becoming members in this chapter, we decided to participate in their annual holiday gathering that included a gift exchange.  Jenny had selected a rather nice gift that she confidently wrapped and we headed off to the event with the gift in tow.  The evening was pleasant enough until we got to the gift exchange.  All of the gifts were numbered and when Jenny’s number was called, she claim her prize and proceeded to unwrap it.  As she pulled her new treasure from the box, we both were a little caught off guard by her new gift.  Jenny had received a new neck scarf about 14 inch square.  In the middle was a fall hunting scene with a hopeful hunter, holding his trusty rifle in his arms and two very startled pheasants fleeing the scene in the forefront.  Around the entire scarf was a broad border with mallard ducks, falling and dying in every position imaginable.  The ride home was more than a little quiet as Jenny fumed over getting a “white elephant” type of gift instead of a legitimate one like she had taken.

The Wilson side of the family that lived in Ohio always got together before Christmas and part of the fun was drawing names for a gift exchange with children under a certain age excluded, as they would get a gift from everyone.  I just so happened to have my sister, Jennifer’s name and being the dutiful brother that I was, always tried to make her experience very “eventful”.  The prospects of bestowing Jennifer with this new “special accessory” was overwhelming so I schemed to hide away her legitimate gift in another room and tucked this beauty under the tree.

The time came for the great unveiling of everyone’s treasures and going from the youngest to the oldest, it was eventually Jennifer’s turn.  Jennifer loved Christmas and unwrapping gifts and she was in a particularly festive mood that Sunday afternoon.  She picked up the gift from me and proceeded to carefully unwrap it.  It was more than I could do to keep a straight face while she opened the box lid.  Her face transitioned from pleasure to confusion to pain and back to confusion as her countenance plainly read, “Oh Go….”, while at the same time, a guttural growl matured into more of a nervous giggle as the sound rose up out of her esophagus.  I have to give her credit; Jennifer was trying so hard not to be disrespectful of the ugliest scarf she had ever seen.  She finally uttered, “Uh, how nice?!” After a very pregnant pause, the room erupted in laughter and Jennifer was left off the hook as the story of the scarf was told and her “real” gift was presented.

Thus was the beginning of a wonderful family tradition; the passing of the ugly Christmas scarf.  Each year, everyone would second guess who had the scarf to pass on to another unsuspecting family member and we would have to be very imaginative on how we would hide the “Old Maid card” of a trickster gift with the real present.  Even the out of state loved ones would get in on the act and inquire of who got the scarf.

One year, either Jenny or I had received the scarf and had it safely stored away until theDuck Lab next Christmas.  As we walked through Hobby Lobby one day, we came upon a bust of a black Labrador Retriever with a dead Mallard duck in its’ jaws.  We both knew we had to buy it to add a little more to the “special” gift.  We tied the scarf around the dog’s neck and presented it.  From that moment on, everyone would be very suspect of a larger present, thinking they were doomed to acquire the unwanted “gem”.

It has been over twenty five years since my sister was first presented with the ugly Christmas scarf that has, down through the years, become a real blessing and a cherished tradition in our family.  Many changes have occurred during this time; the loss of loved ones, the relocation of others, and the maturing of the children into adults with their own traditions.  But one thing will always remain; the love we have for one another and our strong family bonds.  And I bet, somewhere in Ohio, perhaps even the Belpre area, there lies in the back of a dark closet or maybe in a musty basement, the proud black lab with the forever dead duck in its’ mouth and a particularly ugly scarf tied around its’ neck, just waiting to be presented once again to an unsuspecting family member at the Christmas gathering…

Thought of the Day–12/6/17

SANTA sketch

Thought of the Day—What if Santa were real and he took the time every day to lower his head and pray to God for the needs of all the children from all around the world that was on his list, regardless of who was naughty or nice?  I’m sure that if Santa were found out, there would surely be a worldwide scandal and he would be placed on trial to answer for his questionable deeds.  But did you know you ARE Santa in someone’s life?  Take the time to pray over those children that YOU can influence in a positive way…and oh, wait, there’s something else you can do.  Read the REAL Christmas story to them and answer any questions they might have…it will make an eternal difference…

Thought of the Day–12/1/17

NATIVITY

Thought of the Day—As we transition from the season of thanks to the season of giving, we need to continue to be in an attitude of thanksgiving.  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

A Little Bummed in Bethlehem

nativity-retro

As Christmas once again approaches, you can almost feel the anticipation in the air along with perhaps panic, dread and impending doom on the part of those last minute procrastinators.  It is the time of year when the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the holiday beckon you once again to experience Christmases past.  For lying dormant in the souls of adults is their inner child anxious to burst forth and once more relive the Christmas magic of their childhood, even if some of the memories were less than memorable.

When I was very young, my family lived in an old clapboard house, the back of which faced the massive black railroad trestle that spanned the Hocking River which we lovingly called the “Black Bridge”.  The house was small for a family of seven and had no running water.  One coal stove sat in the middle of the living room and served as the heating source for the entire structure, even though it more than fell short to heat the “boy’s room”.  Every year a few weeks before Christmas, our mom would ask her kids to write a letter to Santa and list what we would like for Christmas.  Being the youngest of six children, I would need assistance in drafting this “special” letter.  After our letters were complete, we would put the “messages of hope” into the coal stove so that the smoke and sparks would lift the special delivery upwards and straight to the North Pole…at least that’s what our Mom and older siblings would tell us.  We knew the true meaning of Christmas was the birth of the Christ child but Santa had to be real too…right?

One year, my sister Jennifer and I had finished making our lists and had just tossed them in our version of Santa’s mailbox when Jennifer exclaimed, “They’re just burning up!!  They aren’t going to Santa!  There’s no such thing as Santa Claus!!”  I sheepishly looked around the room as the others tried to assure my bratty bigger sister that there really WAS a Santa Claus; meanwhile, a sinking feeling hit the pit of my stomach as the possible realization set in…bummer.  I found out later that Santa indeed had a distribution center in town at Maurer’s Five and Dime; Mom would go there every week to give them a little money to secure our gifts and make sure Santa still brought our toys…sounded like extortion but I played along…

Fast forward just a few years and we had really moved up in the world.  When I was around eight, my parents bought a house that actually had running water and flushable toilets!  There were three of us kids left at home and our Christmas traditions continued.  Glitter dusted pine cones suspended by red satin ribbons adorned the front door.  The pungent aroma of pine filled the air as pine sprigs decorated the mantle of our oversized fireplace.  The Christmas tree was decked out in fine garland, multicolored lights and ornaments before being embellished with thin strands of silvery icicles which clung to everything but the tree.

It was during this time that I got a little savvier about the gifts under the tree.  I knew surprises would eventually show up on Christmas Eve but I just KNEW what some of those presents already nestled under the tree were.  The dreaded socks and underwear…bummer!  Our family had Christmas on Christmas Eve each year and we would gather in the living room and turn the overhead lights on which were only to be used for special occasions.  When it came my turn to open gifts, I would try my best to find and open the lowliest of gifts; socks, underwear and a fresh pair of flannel pajamas first to get them out of the way.  The pajamas would last until early spring when there would be holes worn in the knees and the legs would then be cut off to make “spring” pajamas.  Don’t get me wrong, I did appreciate my parents’ efforts but I wanted the FUN stuff and besides, I could pull the end of my socks out and tuck them under my feet to avoid the toe holes and to make them last a little longer, right?

Let’s go back a couple thousand years to a little town called Bethlehem where the Christ child was born.  Sure, there were shepherds wowed by angels and later, wise men mesmerized by a star, and of course Mary experiencing not only the miracle of birth but bringing forth the savior of the world?!  That would surely be something to celebrate but yet there were others milling around that just didn’t have the same mind set and enthusiasm.  You see the Jews were awaiting their promised Messiah, the one that would bring an army of angels and completely annihilate their enemies.  They wanted a super action figure that would raise his mighty sword and smite their opponents but instead, what they received was a tiny little swaddler that couldn’t raise his own head, let alone an impressive rapier.  They wanted the latest and greatest toy and ended up with their version of…well…socks and underwear…bummer.  And so they systematically tossed their hope and salvation aside like some unwanted gift and walked away.  They rejected the perfect gift of God, what they really needed and had prayed for; instead of embracing this priceless gift of Love, they nailed it to a rough hewn wooden cross…

As I have gotten older, hopefully I’ve gotten a little wiser.  Sure, I’m still like a kid at Christmas time.  And we all want something cool, exciting, different and stimulating in life as well.  We want to ignore the mundane and go straight for the latest and greatest, the flashiest and finest.  But life isn’t as much about the flash as it is about the gift of the everyday and ordinary moments, the trials and the learning times that God puts in our lives to make us stronger and better for Him.  Here’s an example of what I am talking about.  Earlier in the year, I somehow injured my lower back which really compromised my day to day activities.  I finally sought out and found a good chiropractor who began my treatments back to eventual health.  I had been deaf in my right ear for approximately fifteen years prior to this treatment from Meniere’s disease.  Through the neck manipulations as part of his treatment protocols, the nerves going to my ears were stimulated to the point of causing a sixty-seven percent restoration of my hearing in my right ear.  With the use of a hearing aid, I now have complete use of my “deaf” ear once again.  Some may call this a “happy accident” but I call it God working in our everyday to bring good from a bad situation; my “socks and underwear” moment became a gift of restoration and thanksgiving.

Just something to think about as we head into Christmas week.  So what do you say?  Isn’t it time we appreciate the gift of life, love, family and memories this Christmas?  How about giving the gift of time to spend with a loved one, you know the gift of your presence?  Oh, and by the way…I’m sure we have kept the tradition alive and well in our family for I know for a fact that our granddaughter has some pretty pairs of Paw Patrol panties and sport socks in her stocking…

James 1:17–Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Wilson Christmas Letter 2016

vintage-christmas

It’s December 1st!  The turkey has been tossed and the pumpkin pie pitched.  The credit cards are still very warm and flexible from Black Friday.  Yep, we are firmly snuggled in to the holidays.  But what comes next you might ask?  Well, the annual Wilson Christmas letter of course!  So curl up with your favorite large mug of stimulant and enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                                Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas from the Wilsons!!

 

A big welcome from the state of confusion; from wildfires to floods, riots to bathroom laws, not to mention a political swing state!  And it is going to take more than Bath and Body Works to remove the stench from this election year.  But alas, I digress…

This year has been fairly uneventful family wise.  I am still adjusting to being “Stevie Homemaker” as I have not yet started back to work.  This doesn’t mean I’m sitting around all the time; every day seems to bring on a new set of “opportunities” that keep me quite busy.  In fact, I’m not sure how we got everything accomplished when we both worked.   I am still writing as I am led and inspired so if you have a burst of courage or curiosity, log in to www.lifesimplyspoken.com and take a peek!

Jenny celebrated (tolerated) her twenty-fifth year working for OneAdvanced which used to be Vista which used to be Advanced which used to be CSH Group which used to be Iris, which used to be Transoft, which used to be Easirun which used to be Sinc, Inc.  No wonder she answers the phone with “UHhhh?”  One of the big highlights for Jenny this year was being called for jury duty to serve as a juror on a murder trial this fall.  All of her prayer efforts seemed to pay off as they suddenly had to postpone the trial and she was off the hook.

We managed to take a couple of vacations during the year; we went to North Myrtle Beach in April and to the Shenandoah Valley in September. Alison, Justin and Crystal were able to meet us at the beach for an extended weekend and it was great watching Crystal experience the sand and surf for the first time.  I also sneaked back up to Ohio in late September to say “HEY” to former coworkers and family as well as pick up “Buckeye supplies”; items we crave but can’t get in North Carolina.

Jenny and I are also fully embracing our roles as grandparents for there is no role more rewarding.  Crystal will turn two on January 31st of next year and I know Alison and Justin can’t wait to wander into the “terrific twos”!! Watching little Crystal grow and swinging-crystallearn is pure joy in action.  Looking back at this past year in pictures of Crystal’s life, there has been such a dramatic change in appearance, abilities, and personality.  Crystal loves to analyze every little thing that goes on around her so many times, she has a very serious looking face which makes picture taking a challenge.

Crystal has a great little sense of humor, loves to try new things, and doesn’t forget anything.  Her favorite color is purple which thrills her grandma to death.  One of her favorite toys is a Minnie Mouse scooter car we got her last year.  She just loves to fly up and down the hallway on it.

One of the highlights during the Thanksgiving season was three generations working together to make pumpkin pies.  Crystal’s attention span was waning just a bit but I’m sure Grandma Wilson won’t be deterred and this will become a regular learning time.

As I bring our Christmas letter to a close, I am reminded of how divided our country is as we approach 2017.  We will have a new president at the helm and we need to lift this new administration in prayer as they attempt to unite our broken country and move forward with one identity—Americans! There are many who would love to see our nation fail and fall but I would like ALL of us to disappoint these factions and begin the healing process from the inside out.  Believe it or not folks, we are all on this same boat called the USS USA and whether you consider this a battleship, a cruise ship, a party boat, or a simple houseboat we are ALL in this together and if we don’t get this right, we will ALL go down with the ship.  What better time of year to put into practice “Peace on earth, good will toward men”.  But it starts with me…and you…2 Chronicles 7:14  If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

From Jenny, Steve and Izzy the dog