Category Archives: Christmas

Wilson Christmas 2020

A “Healthy” dose of Holiday greetings to you from Steve and Jenny!!

What can I say about 2020?  As little as possible would be my gut answer!  The world as we knew it has been totally turned upside down by everything from COVID-19 to the very corrupt and divisive national elections!  What should I expect from a year that began with a colonoscopy for me and a root canal/crown for Jenny?!  I mean, even our most basic needs have been interrupted by a toilet paper shortage!  (And no, disposable masks are not flushable…)  Jenny and I have either eaten in our car or outside on lawn chairs under the same shade tree so many times in the Hickory Courtyard By Marriott parking lot in lieu of inside seating, we should just go ahead and carve our names in the bark of the beautiful Live Oak tree and call it our own!  But I digress…

We had a great time on vacation at Surfside Beach South Carolina in

Crystal beach

June with Alison, Justin and Crystal.  Of course, we had to modify our plans to seek outdoor dining experiences and less frequented beaches due to COVID concerns, but we were able to really enjoy our time together.  One of the highlights of our vacation was going down to Charleston for a day trip, where we took a carriage ride around the city and scoped out some points of interest; definitely a place to revisit once restrictions are lifted.

Because life hadn’t been interesting enough this year, in July, Jenny fell and broke her right ankle.  After fun with an ortho boot, knee scooter, wheelchair, walker, and cane, Jenny is currently in a lace ankle brace.  Her bone was not healing after three and a half months, so we’re doing an ultrasound bone stimulation treatment every night to promote bone growth.  If this doesn’t work, Jenny is facing surgery, complete with a rod and supper filler!  Even with her limitations, Jenny found the energy to dance with Crystal, which scared both me AND Crystal!  Jenny continues to enjoy cross stitching as an outlet and produced an awesome Christmas showpiece this year that I’m sure will become a cherished heirloom to others for years to come!

I bought something this year that I thought I would never ever buy; a gun.  Actually two; a 9 mm handgun and a 12 gauge shotgun.  The last gun I owned was a 20 gauge shotgun that I traded with my oldest brother for a dinette set right before Jenny and I got married. (Ooh, a shotgun wedding!)  Later, I’m going for my conceal/carry license so that I can officially have the handgun with me when needed and that may come sooner than I think; coyotes are getting worse around here too.

Jenny and I took a very relaxing vacation in October to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, around Harrisonburg.  It was the perfect time of the year to enjoy the magnificent fall colors on the Skyline Drive as well as the Amish area around Dayton, Va.  We even got a great surprise on that Sunday when Jenny’s sister and husband stopped by to visit on their way home!  But in hindsight, we both agreed that we have areas just as beautiful around our neck of the woods and there isn’t a toll involved to see them…

Growing up!

Crystal will be six in January and is now in Kindergarten and officially a Hudson Hornet like her mama!  Until recently, she went to school four days a week and we watched her on Wednesdays, where I did the remote lessons with her among other “adventures”!  For now, she is going all five days, but I’m not holding my breath that that will soon change again.  Crystal is thriving in school and making friends, even though masks are mandatory and there are several distancing restrictions in place which makes bonding a little more challenging.  We have so enjoyed her being with us and as the COVID plans continue to change and morph, there’s a chance she’ll be back with us once again.  I think Crystal really enjoyed learning to bake with Gum Gum and doing some “exploring” with Pops!  Alison and Justin celebrated one full decade of wedded bliss in June!  Oh, and did I happen to mention that Alison was selected as Teacher of the Year for Hudson Elementary after teaching there less than a year?!  Way to go “neighbors”!

As I close this letter, I could go on and on and on about all the horrible events that have taken place here in 2020; for it has seemed like a very long Romco commercial, “But wait, there’s more!”  But instead, I’ll tell you what I’ve missed…the little things.  I’ve missed the spontaneity of going to a movie or grabbing a bite to eat without social distance restrictions.  I’ve missed not being in our church sanctuary, not receiving and/or giving a spontaneous hug when needed, a handshake, of singing in the choir.  I’ve even missed seeing mouths and noses, smiles and frowns, parts of the face that complete a person’s persona but have for now, been masked over.  We even had to cancel our Disney trip with Alison and Crystal that had been planned for early December. 

It matters not whether you think this global pandemic was used to effectively control the masses, a live test on humanity like we’ve never seen before, or just an unfortunate set of circumstances that have gotten us all to this point, we all need to learn from this experience.  We need to appreciate life, family, friends, neighbors, teachers, coworkers, rowdy kids, strangers (and even toilet paper) more, to stop taking every moment that God has freely given us for granted.  Freedom has always had a price attached to it and we’ll all see in the coming years how much we’ve sold our souls to the devil, so to speak, to feel “safe and secure” with a transitioning government IF we have a transitioning government; the jury’s still out, so to speak.  Either way, may God have mercy on our souls; this truly is a troubling time in which we live.

But there’s always hope, which is exactly why we celebrate this season.  For HOPE was born on Christmas Day, in the form of a tiny little baby who became our King of Kings and Lord of Lords; we call Him Jesus!

Love to you and yours this Christmas from Steve, Jenny and Izzy the dog!

Flamingos in the Midst—And Other Christmas Surprises

Christmas has always been a time of surprises and thus was the case at our house one Christmas season. 

One morning we awoke to find a fuchsia flock of three dozen plastic flamingos meandering around on our front lawn.  My wife has always prided herself in presenting tasteful decorations both inside and out so the sight of a potential Griswald Christmas palace sent her into a state of shock.

You see our church youth group had developed a pretty successful scheme to raise money during the holiday season.  The idea was to “flock” a family with the colorful trailer trash version of the more popular tropical birds and hold that family captive until a “ransom” of a predetermined amount was paid to the youth group.  Once the ransom was paid, the embarrassed family could then designate the next “lucky” household to be flocked.  A full two weeks after the stationary stilt legged wonders appeared, they disappeared just as mysteriously.  Our daughter sheepishly admitted to honoring us with their presence; fortunately, my wife has a great memory and we have all the time in the world for the eventual “turnabout is fair play”…

But God has always been in the surprise business, even before the first Christmas was celebrated.  For example, when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was “chosen” and was going to have a child even though she was still a virgin.  Talk about a scripted dialogue as she announced to Joseph what was about to come to pass.  And of course Joseph got all bent out of shape and thought of divorcing her before “SURPRISE!”, an angel came to him in a dream and basically told him to put his big boy pants on; this was of God…straighten up and do the right thing!  And then there were the shepherds, just minding their own business as well as their sheep when “SURPRISE!”, an angel came to announce the Christ child’s birth…along with a multitude of heavenly hosts.  Talk about a “Depends” moment!

Thinking back though, it should not have been a surprise to anyone since Christ’s birth was prophesied in Isaiah about seven hundred years before the event.  John 3:16-17 NKJV says,For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  What an ultimate gift, humans!!  And yet, we go through our lives many times as if nothing had ever happened over two thousand years ago or that in our oh so near future a bigger event WILL take place.  James 5:7-9 NIV states, Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.  Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!  This doesn’t mean we need to cower down in a corner somewhere, afraid to live out the life that God has mapped out for us.  It just means, like making all the preparations for Christmas Day that we make preparations for Christ’s second and final arrival. 

Are you ready? December 25th comes around once every year and still folks scramble about as if it is a grand surprise on their calendar.  And while we keep an extra gift card tucked away just in case we have an unexpected guest, a $25.00 Big Lots gift card just isn’t going to cut it when it comes to Jesus’ triumphant return…Just sayin…So as you gather this Christmas with your own “flock” of family and friends, just remember that it is better to be surprised by the ugly sweater from aunt Betty than to be unprepared for eternity.

All I Want For Christmas Is Some Peace and Quiet

I was rummaging through some old papers and documents the other day when I ran across this little gem from an English Composition class.  This was an argumentative paper that reflected just the opposite of a topic that the writer strongly believed in; I chose Christmas.  Now here comes the disclaimer; I love everything about Christmas!  As you read through this narrative, you may notice that there are distinctive undertones of cynicism, yet between the recesses of the lines and words, there are significant truth bombs more relevant now than ever.  I hope you enjoy reading, “All I Want For Christmas is Some Peace and Quiet”!

Here it comes again.  I can see it in the stress-etched faces of passers-by, eyes fixated in terror.  Soon there will be no turning back for anyone; no credit card will be left untouched.  As Thanksgiving approaches, one has a sense of urgency and uneasiness, of unjustified dread.  Unjustified that is, until you are stretched out on your favorite sofa, channel surging one evening and you come across a commercial just bursting with holiday cheer.  It is only then that panic permeates your entire body, leaving you numb and listless.  Santa Claus is coming to town again, corrupting your children and robbing you blind in the process.

Not that there is anything wrong with the holiday season.  Peace, good will toward men is a very noble reason to celebrate Christmas, not to mention the Christ child’s birthday.  But given today’s emphasis on sensationalism and commercialism, the three wise men would do well to present gifts of Prozac, Valium, and Ritalin.  The distorted, commercialized ritual of Christmas begins with shopping for the unappreciative, followed by the search for the elusive perfect tree, and finally climaxes with the distribution of gifts to family members, immediately followed by the requests for the receipts of such sought after gifts.  So why DO we do this to ourselves?

Shopping has always been a fun, leisurely sport, enjoyed typically by those who actually have money to spend.  But when the Christmas season hits, it is every man, woman and shoplifter for him or her self.  Mothers and wives exchange their aprons and pot holders for pepper spray and baseball bats, anything that will give them an advantage over the other toy hoarding citizens that no doubt have already given one of their kidneys for the newest gizmo on the market.  One week before Christmas, everyone is so dazed and confused, they continue to buy that something special for individuals not even on their Christmas list.  All that matters now is that we have sufficient gifts for whomever may drop by; the mailman, the minister, the local orphanage—it is of no consequence; just be prepared.  As the shopping comes to an end, there is a slight pain in the pit of the stomach as you realize, “Man, I have to wrap up all of this crap!”  After all the gifts are beautifully wrapped, we try to stuff the mini mall of merchandise under a tree that only has a floor to tree clearance capable of accommodating a comic book.

Finding that special tree has always been an exercise in tolerance and ambition.  Some folks like to travel the hillsides, scanning the horizon for anything that still looks green, spruce like and big enough to withstand the weight of five tinsel laden boxes of holiday cheer.  Others prefer to wander through the fire retardant forests of Walmart, torn between the permanently snow laden pine or the ever famous, one piece, sit and trim.  Finding the right tree is the easy part; trimming the tree can be suicidal.  There is an unwritten rule that a string of Christmas lights will work as long as they are not attached to the tree.  Once applied, the Christmas tree lights have a mind of their own.  Rule number two deals with the application of decorative bulbs and garland.  No matter how many boxes of tinsel you have, it is just not quite enough.  The last rule applies to the tree itself.  There are always five times as many gifts as there is room under the tree to place them.  But why worry; the gifts will soon be given to family and friends anyway, right?

Family gatherings have always been the mainstay of the holidays.  One can almost feel the anxiety and irritation rising from the depths in anticipation of another “encounter”.  The location may vary, even the time frame may hover within two weeks of Christmas but the “encounter” remains a constant.  The gathering begins with the initial greeting at the door.  While still clinging to a favorite relative, you begin to scan the interior of the house for a “safe place”, a little bit of territory to call your own.  Next comes a little chitchat, a review of deaths from the previous year and a little catch up on the families’ aches and pains.  Any potential discussions relating to recent surgeries are reserved for the holiday meal.  While the adults are wasting away the hours bemusing themselves with nonsense, the children are circling around the gifts, perfecting their scotch tap removing skills, and preparing for the impending gift opening frenzy.  When the time arrives to open the gifts, the kids are oblivious to anything around them except for the shiny new toys unwrapped by other kids.  Their sense of greed overwhelms their sense of excitement and a squabble is sure to ensue.

The parents, on the other hand, have a more succinct sense of dread as everyone sits around in the circle of judgment and waits their turn.  One by one, the adults open their gifts as everyone else waits for the recipient’s reaction.  It is wise at this time to “psych out” the spectators with a broad smile and approving nod; sharing your real impressions of the gift can wait until the interesting drive home.

Again, that nagging thought crosses the mind, why DO we do this to ourselves.  It is time to start shopping for compliments for one another, not for the material trash we bestow upon our friends and family.  Wouldn’t it be better to embellish someone’s self-esteem than to spend hundreds of dollars prettying up a dead tree?  When it comes to family gatherings, I think that all of us would enjoy the Christmas holiday just a little more if we could just drop the dramatics and be ourselves.  Christmas is all about the Christ child, childlike fun and tradition, not unwarranted guilt and obligation.  So go ahead and deck the halls with boughs of holly; I’ll be the contented one in the corner, having a very merry Christmas of my very own.

The Christmas Box

Christmas box

The holidays are once again upon us and all of the old memories come flooding back as we place precious moments, cleverly disguised as Christmas ornaments, so very carefully on the twinkling light laden evergreen.  Some memories bring a smile to the face as you reflect back on a different time, perhaps a long forgotten place; the memory, once lying dormant, nestled deep in the recesses of the mind until a sight, smell or event once again revives the remembrance in vivid details.  Thus is the case when I see a candy orange slice or old fashioned hard candy.

I grew up in the sleepy town of Nelsonville Ohio, tucked in the Hocking Hills of Zaleski State forest.  My family went to the Church of the Nazarene on Adams Street where my spiritual foundation was birthed.  The church itself was a blonde block split level building with stairs both leading up to the sanctuary and downward to the Sunday school classrooms.  The windows in the sanctuary were all made of stained glass with names of those who donated to the building of the church, etched in the bottom of each window.  Back behind the pulpit and the choir loft was a very large, round stained glass window with what appeared to be curious and perhaps mischievous cherubim peeking out from and around puffy white and gray clouds. Those same angelic faces also gave many a child an impressive fright as they seemed to stare and follow your gaze if you dared to look too long.

Our family mostly went to Sunday school and seldom attended church unless there was a special speaker or possibly a visiting missionary.  The exception came during the Christmas season.  Every year, I would be involved in the children’s Christmas program in some way, whether it be a small bible verse to say or, as I got a little older, a speaking part in the Christmas pageant.  And every year I would fuss and fret over my insignificant part, not wanting to go up in front of “those people”; the congregation which looked to me as scary as the angels in the windows.

There was only one thing that kept my eye on getting through this hideous, inescapable ordeal; the Christmas box.  You see, on the Sunday before Christmas after the pageant was over and everyone was dismissed from the service, everyone received a treat box.  I know Mary and Joseph had the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh presented to them by the Magi but we had the treat box and piece of fruit, which seemed of equal value, given to us by the big guys, men from the church that seemed to tower over us kids and would many times have to stoop down to hand us our treasures.

Unable to curb our enthusiasm and curiosity, as soon as we clambered into the back of the car, my siblings and I removed the scotch tape that bound the box and carefully opened the lid, like a treasure hunter investigating his discovery.  Aside from the choice of a Red Delicious apple or navel orange, the box contained an assortment of incredible edibles that would sure to satisfy the taste buds for days to come. Coconut bonbons, peanut clusters, chocolate drops, walnuts, sugar coated orange slices would greet you as you opened the box as well as an assortment of old fashioned hard candies which made up the majority of the candied treasure chest.  My favorite was the raspberry hard candy that was filled with a juicy center and would burst in your mouth as you clamped down.

I would always choose the Red Delicious apple which I could quickly devour and toss the core.  My sister, Jennifer however, always chose the navel orange as we headed down the church steps and to the awaiting car.  Jennifer didn’t just eat the orange; it seemed she held a ceremony for it as she celebrated the citrus in her hands.  Jennifer would carefully lay out a paper towel and peel the orange rind, piece by piece until her orb resembled a raggedy softball.  Then she would separate the orange segments and isolate just one, where she would slowly and painstakingly remove all of the membrane until the orange nectar was exposed.  She would then stick half of the orange segment into her mouth, close her eyes and bite down, orange juice running out of her mouth and down her chin.  At times, there would be a soft moan of gratification and the process would repeat itself until the fruit was completely gone; it was as exciting to watch as watching paint dry…

As I look back on those times and reminisce, I have to smile and shake my head, for something as small and insignificant as a treat box in an adult’s mind, was so special and anticipated in a child’s.  But I also have to shake my head at us adults, who constantly need to be reminded of what the true meaning of Christmas actually is; that Hope was born on Christmas Day and the possibility now exists for us to live eternally with and for the One who gave His life so we may never truly die.  Like the child of my past, anxiously waiting for that treat box, we need to daily wait with great excitement and anticipation what blessings our Lord has for us as well as what service, task and/or ministry He needs for us to carry out.

As I entered adulthood with all the different responsibilities it entails, I was able to take part in ordering the contents and filling the treat boxes for that same local church.  I learned that we had far fewer chocolates in the box as opposed to hard candies because of cost and that it really was a financial struggle for the church to continue providing the fruit for the congregation.  But I also knew that everyone involved felt it was well worth sacrificing from another line item area to ensure everyone had a special treat in their hand.  And nothing else felt more rewarding at the time than bending down and handing a special treasure, the Christmas box, to a child who had just performed their heart out for a very gracious loving congregation…

Thought of the Day–12/25/17

Mother and Child

Thought of the Day—God’s love was shown and Hope was born for us on Christmas Day!  May peace reign in your lives as you celebrate the Christ child this Christmas…happy birthday, Jesus!

Thought of the Day–12/24/17

Ornament

Thought of the Day—As we enter the eve before Christmas, let us remember that it matters not what lies beneath the tree as much as what lies in our hearts.  A heart full of thankfulness for our one perfect gift–Jesus, a heart full of love for our family and friends and a heart full of joy in anticipation of being with those you love…that is what the Spirit of Christmas is all about…

Wilson Christmas Letter 2017

 

Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas from the Wilsons!!

A big “HEY” to our treasured family and friends!  We hope that your year has been full of fun filled moments and cherished memories.  Jenny already has our house in festive mode inside and out; she is perusing what kinds of incredible edibles she can whip up for this Christmas season.  Soon the dishes will be stacked high and the flour will be flying!  (Just kidding Jenny…honest!)

Our year began with Crystal changing our official titles of, “Grandma” and “Grandpa” to Gum Gum and Pops!!  Yep, that’s right; we have been “rebranded” and couldn’t be happier…I don’t know how she chose Pops, but Crystal saw Jenny chewing gum and I think it stuck…the name anyway…

Jenny and I started out the year with a nice vacation at Disney World; just two elder children wandering through the Magic Kingdom while wondering what Crystal will think of it all in a few years.  We went to Gatlinburg for a week in May and toured the burned out areas of the region, including our Tree Tops Resort that lost more than half of its’ buildings including our unit.  We were due for a vacation at Edisto Island in September but one of the many hurricanes this year preempted our stay until April of next year.

One of the family’s great tragedies this year was the loss of my sister, Jennifer on October 25th.  She has left such a chasm in our hearts that I fear healing will be both very slow and painful.  We will all miss her zest for life, her candid, “shoot from the hip” demeanor and her passionate love, for she loved fully and unconditionally.  She left this life like she lived it; on her terms.  Jennifer may not have been granted physical healing, but God granted her another ten plus months to experience true emotional and spiritual healing that had eternal ramifications.

Crystal will be three in January and has continued to steal our hearts.  Crystal is very intelligent and insightful; many times she will make a remark that makes us pause and question, “where did THAT come from?”  She is certainly a free Crystalspirit who can be very quiet and composed, but suddenly will break out in song or exclaim, “There’s a bear!”  Crystal is very much into play acting now and you never know who she is going to be.  One moment she might be Millie, her cousin or any member of her preschool class.  All I have to say is, Justin and Alison are in BIG trouble…

Under the category of pity poor me…I’m mourning the passing of my fifties…Yep, I’m sixty now…makes me a little nauseous when I hear that; I believe the thought makes my older siblings a little uncomfortable as well.  Jenny and Alison lessened the blow by taking me to Ocean Isle Beach, NC for a few days of “reality adjustments”.

As I bring our Christmas letter to a close, I am reminded of the fragility of life and how we so often take for granted what is truly a gift from God that keeps on giving; the magic of ordinary days.  The lyrical laughter of a child, perhaps the friendly banter with coworkers, or a much needed phone call from a friend or loved one are just simple reminders of love wrapped in the every day.  And while it might seem a little unrealistic to expect everyone to just drop what you’re doing and ponder on your life, all I’m asking is that you perhaps take the time to readjust your heart, even for a while, to one of thanksgiving.  Slow down a little, use all of your senses so you can truly experience all the blessings around you.  Kiss your spouse, hug your kids, make that call, patch that relationship, and forgive those silly grievances you may have with another, for we don’t know how much time we have with them or they with us.  And please remember one thing this Christmas season, peace on earth and good will towards men begins at your own front doorstep…

Much love to you and yours this Christmas and always!!

From Gum Gum, Pops and Izzy the dog

Steve and Jenny

Thought of the Day–12/18/17

Christmas gifts

Thought of the Day—It’s a week before Christmas. Are you still trying to find that perfect gift that no one wants or are you making final preparations for the perfect gift your whole family wants AND needs; your presence?  I’m not talking about your physical body being present and accounted for as much as you, in the moment, getting involved; go to that Christmas Eve service, engage with your kids and others, play those table games, arrange dinner around your needs not vice versa.  It’s not too late to surprise your family this Christmas; make it count!

Thought of the Day–12/16/17

Christmas Cross

Thought of the Day—Jesus isn’t the reason for the season…we are…For if sin had not entered into this world and if we were not in such a desperate state of need, there would be no need for a Savior to save us from our sins…but here we are, with that very need.  So we, the receivers of God’s most perfect gift, celebrate the gift of Jesus this season and we worship God the Father for His perfect love for us!  John 3:16-17 (NIV) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.