From our house to yours

Here at Mama’s Empty Nest,

we all wish every one of our family, friends, and blog readers

a most blessed Merry Christmas

from our house to yours!

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“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

©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Tis the season for nostalgia

blogIMG_0089“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!” ~Charles Dickens

It happens every year in December.  Once Thanksgiving gets pushed out of the way by the onset of Christmas songs non-stop on the radio, we start hauling out the holly, lights, and tinsel, and the Christmas season gets launched at Mama’s Empty Nest.

And just like clockwork, I commence remembering past Christmases.  What is it about this holiday celebration that elicits so much nostalgia?  My birthdays don’t produce such a foray into the past.  I don’t reminisce about Easter or the Fourth of July or any other holiday quite as much as I do Christmas.

Thoughts of Christmas always take me back.  To my childhood.  To remembrances of family now gone, my parents and grandparents.  To my childhood home.  To memories of decorating the Christmas tree, or getting that one special present, or riding in the back seat of the car bundled up in hat, mittens, and scarf exclaiming oohs and aahs while our family observed brightly colored Christmas lights decorating houses in our area.

Christmas invokes remembrances of the hustle and bustle of downtown Christmas shopping when the air was brisk and my breath made visible vapor and my parents’ arms were loaded with Christmas packages to take home and wrap.

It reminds me of home baked aromas of goodness filling the house and the scent of pine in the living room from the real Christmas fir tree.  I close my eyes and remember how it sounded to hear bells jingling outside your house and how my heart seemed to skip a beat at the prospect of Santa and his reindeer up on the rooftop.

I can envision the old-fashioned glass Christmas ornaments placed on the tree, the tinsel and shiny icicles hanging from the boughs.  Christmas time meant carols played and sung at the upright piano.  It meant worshiping the new born King at church services.  It meant ribbon candy, and candy canes, and a sweet smelling orange at the bottom of my Christmas stocking.

Augusta E. Rundel wrote, “Christmas… that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance — a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”  

Yes, that’s it.  I’m spellbound by Christmas, engulfed in the enchantment of nostalgia.  The Ghost of Christmas Past comes to visit me, but he never allows the other ghostly visages from A Christmas Carol the opportunity to show themselves.

blogIMG_0073That strong sense of nostalgia for Christmas past proved why I thoroughly enjoyed a little excursion Papa and I took one Sunday afternoon recently.

Here in our little town, a stately Federal style house built in 1842 serves as home for our county’s historical museum/genealogy society.

A weekend Christmas Open House at this house enticed my sense of old fashioned sentimentality enough to want to take a tour and the opportunity to get a glimpse of Christmas from yesteryear.

Each room of the house sported a different Christmas tree and decorations, many of them vintage, sprucing up the antiques and relics on display.

It was a nostalgic wonderland, a trip down memory lane.   My husband, being the history and military buff that he is, enjoyed the “military room” immensely.

I loved the parlor with its antique organ, piano,  and furnishings bedecked with old fashioned Christmas decorations;  the sewing room with its display of hand-made antique quilts; and the kitchen with its homey and familiar cooking utensils from the past all festooned with yesterday’s Christmas flair.

Each room of the house caused my mind to wander with memories of my parents and grandparents.  In the kitchen, tin cookie cutters decorating the tree were exactly like those my mother used to bake Christmas cookies.  Vintage Christmas greeting cards festooned a pine garland and reminded me of my grandmother as did the old sewing machine and kitchen utensils.

blogIMG_0093Interesting tidbits of history related to us by museum volunteers enhanced our walk down Christmas memory lane.  It truly was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

As we departed the house and stepped back into the 21st century, climbed in our car, checked our cell phones for texts or missed calls, and drove back home, I pondered.

What will our children remember about Christmas?  Will they wax nostalgic for the traditions and special memories their dad and I tried to create for them?  Or will it just be another holiday like so many others?

Each December as they ready their homes for Christmas, will they remember and relive special memories of us and growing up in Mama’s Empty Nest?

Only time will tell.

©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Once a year

blogIMG_0131It’s so easy, isn’t it?  That’s what you’ve been asking yourself this Christmas season.

Pull into a crowded parking lot at the nearest Wal-Mart or whatever store you frequent, cruise the lot for an empty spot, jump out of the car with your long list of must-haves to join the throng of Christmas shoppers.

On the way inside the store, you hear the familiar ringing of a bell and you spy the volunteer bell-ringer with the Salvation Army kettle.  You’re in a hurry, but you reach in your pocket or wallet or purse and dig out whatever you can find – some change or a couple of bucks.  Throw it in the kettle, accept the “thank you, Merry Christmas” and scurry on your way.

You walk inside your house of worship.  There’s an “angel tree” in the foyer.  Gift tags with the only identifying items such as “3-yr-old girl wants a baby doll, wears size 4T clothing.”   You choose a tag, purchase a few items, and send those off to be distributed to the child in need.

Your civic group participates in Operation Christmas Child with Samaritan’s Purse.  You dutifully find shoe boxes, shop for small toys and school supplies, soap and toothpaste, and cram the boxes full and write a check so the boxes might be shipped to the other side of the world into a child’s eager hands in time for Christmas.

Your favorite hair salon/doctor/grocery store sponsors a food drive to replenish a  food pantry and another local business holds a winter coat drive.  You pack up some canned goods, drop them off.  You rummage in the front hall closet and dig out those still good but unwanted winter coats and donate them.

You might even take your kids for the day to volunteer distributing bags of groceries with Christmas dinner items packed inside to families in need of food.

And you call this charity.  You call this good will.  You call this helping those in need.  You call it whatever you want to call it because it makes you feel like you’ve done something to help.  Something to serve.  Something.

And this something proves easy when you do this once a year.

It’s Christmas.  We think about those who go without during this holiday season and it’s easy to open our hearts and our wallets or check books.   Because isn’t that what we should do?  Isn’t that what makes us feel like we’re spreading Christmas cheer?  Or isn’t that what makes us feel good?

Yes.  Yes.  And yes.  But…..you ask yourself…why do you only perform these good deeds at Christmas time?  Where is your generosity the rest of the year?

And what would happen if you actually gave all through the year?  In March.  Or August.  Or every month of the year.

What if you provided a summer picnic to a needy family?  What if you purchased a fan to cool off a summer’s day for someone who can’t  afford one?

What if you donated food staples to the food pantry all year long because really, are people only going hungry at Christmas time?

What if you helped a child, one who needs  food, clothing, school supplies, and a little toy to bring a smile to his or her face, for 12 months or 12 years?

What if you gave your time to spend it with someone who is lonely?  Someone who is hurting, someone who is grieving?

What if you prayed every day for God to help those who desperately need Him in their lives and to use you in any way He sees fit to teach them about His saving grace?

What if you focused on the feelings of those in need instead of focusing on your own good feeling when you give?

What if you opened your heart every day of the year and not just once a year in December?

Wouldn’t that be something?

©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

I’ll be memed for Christmas

blogDSCN8295Christmas Eve will find me…reading my friends’ blogs on my laptop.

Yep, I’m sitting here on Page 24, Chapter 12, in my Opportunity book in my easy chair (resting my hip) with my feet propped up on the matching ottoman and I’m waiting for the Christmas Eve festivities to commence at our house.

Two blogging friends, Dianna at These Days of Mine, and Georgette at Georgette Sullin’s Blog have posted a Christmas meme and invited their readers to join them.   A meme, in the blogging world, is a topic that spreads from one blogger to another.

After reading their posts, I thought it might be fun be “memed.”  (If there is such a word?)  So read on for my answers to the Christmas meme questions.

1. What is a Christmas song you can listen to even in June?   It’s hard to narrow down the field here because honestly, I could listen to almost any Christmas song year-round.  So for me, it’s a toss-up between “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “Joy to the World,” my absolute favorite Christmas carol.

2. Hot chocolate, eggnog or mulled wine? Well, eggnog grosses me out,  I don’t think I’ve ever tasted mulled wine, so I’ll have to answer hot chocolate, even though I’d rather have hot tea (peppermint would be good!).

3. When do you put your Christmas decorations up? We always start decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving but never, ever before Thanksgiving is officially over.  I like to enjoy Thanksgiving and give it due honor.

4. What are you having for Christmas dinner? Ham, it is.  We also always have twice-baked potatoes, a couple kinds of vegetables, hot dinner rolls, a special multi-layered jello salad that I make every Christmas because it’s so pretty, and lots of cookies for dessert.

5. What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? When hubby and I were young marrieds, we visited an ice cream shop where we savored a special Christmas sundae.  Once we had our children, we began a tradition of making those sundaes every Christmas Eve before we attend church candlelight service.  We’ll be eating them tonight!

6. Have you ever gone caroling? Oh yes, Christmas caroling was definitely on our holiday agenda when I was growing up.  After hubby and I got married and had our children, our family always participated in caroling with our churches.  I’ve got lots of caroling memories stored in my memory bank, but in the last few years,  we haven’t gone caroling.   I miss it, so that’s something we need to  start again.

7. When did you discover the truth about Santa? What truth?? ;-)

8. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? It’s a hodge-podge of miscellany: a couple cherished ornaments from my parents’ tree, gifts from friends, ornaments we purchased on trips, with a few homemade ones thrown in for good measure, multi-colored twinkle lights, red bead garlands, and until this year, an angel topper  (but her lights burned out permanently this year, so now there’s a brand spanking new lighted star).

9. What’s the best thing about Christmas? For me, the best thing is spending time with my family while we celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth.

10. What do you want for Christmas? JOY, JOY, JOY!

Perhaps you’d like to play along with your own Merry Christmas meme.  Or, if you’d like to respond to any of the above questions, feel free to do so in the comments.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Faith is…

blogDSCN8268“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”  ~Voltaire

Faith is a young woman believing an angel’s unbelievable message.  ~ Luke 1: 26-38

Faith is a man, taking that young woman who was with child – a child not biologically his – as his wife anyway.  ~ Matthew 1:18-25

Faith is taking a journey away from home to a different village and finding no room to stay when a baby is due to be born.   ~ Luke 2:4-7

Faith is shepherds hearing an astonishing message from a host of heavenly beings and then seeking a newborn child.  ~ Luke 2:8-20

Faith is waiting for years to behold a long-promised Messiah. ~ Luke 2:25-35

Faith is following a star.  ~ Matthew 2:1-12

Faith is believing a tiny babe came to earth to save us all. ~ John 3:16-21

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6

And faith is knowing He is coming again.  ~ Matthew 24:30-31

In my year-long book called Opportunity, Chapter 12, Page 23,  I pray for all of you to have the most blessed Christmas season – one full of faith.

“A faith is a necessity to a man. Woe to him who believes in nothing.” ~  Victor Hugo

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Joy in my world

blogDSCN8357“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat”….okay, I’ll admit I’m starting to look like the Christmas goose because lately there have been just too many goodies surrounding me to nosh on.

But seriously, “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat.”

Every time hubby and I drop some spare change in those red Salvation Army buckets, I pray that someone truly needy will experience a little bit of love and joy this Christmas.

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.  Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat.  Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat.  If you have no penny, a ha’penny will do, if you have no ha’penny, a farthing will do.  If you have no farthing, then God bless you!”

I’m praying today in my book of Opportunity, Chapter 12, Page 22, that God will bless those who virtually have nothing.  Many of our brothers and sisters in the world will experience Christmas Day with not even a simple present while some of us gobble up gifts like gluttons.

During a discussion with my co-workers yesterday, I was reminded of something I believe is worth sharing.  My boss’ sister recently returned from a mission trip to India and that initiated a conversation about those who live in third world countries.   Shortly after Christmas, two of my young friends will journey for the second year in a row to Haiti on a short-term trip giving aid where it’s sorely needed.

blogpix1As I  sat comfortably in our office with my co-workers, well-fed, well-clothed, and…well, just well and conversed about our loved ones’ trips, we agreed that the sights seen in those countries must stay with the traveler forever.  The poor, the sick, the abused, the needy, the mistreated, the hungry – how could you forget them?

During mission trips, my own children have witnessed firsthand those who are so very less fortunate in far-off lands like Mozambique, Honduras, Belize, and even our southern neighbor, Mexico.

blogpix2Yet amid all the misery and incredible poverty, I believe every one of these traveling missionaries would tell you the same thing – when they journey abroad to minister to these poorest of God’s children, they are amazed that the least of these, who lack material wealth, have the most incredible joy when they worship God.

I distinctly remember when our son returned from such a trip.  He seemed almost too overwhelmed to talk about what he’d seen, but he shared one aspect impacting him the most about those to whom he ministered.

“They literally have nothing, but they are so happy!” our son said with amazement.

blogpix3Those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord worshiped Him with a zeal that my son had not witnessed before.  When these brothers and sisters in foreign lands, even though they have so very little, worship the King, they worship with gladness and exquisite exultation.  Their hearts are bursting with happiness even if their stomachs ache from hunger, and they are so grateful for the smallest of gifts.

Compare that to those of us who live with such comfort and extravagance here in the USA.  We, who have more than enough, grumble and grouch, whine and complain, and overspend on Christmas gifts, decorations, clothing, and food we don’t really need.

Who among us really understands the true meaning of Christmas?

Those of us who must have the finest decorations bedecking our halls, the larder bursting over in abundance with more food than we could ever possibly need, our shining Christmas trees surrounded by scads of gaily wrapped presents?

Those shoppers who scurry and hurry to find the ‘perfect’ gift no matter what it costs?

Or those fellow believers who live in humble shacks, with one set of clothes on their backs, maybe enough food for one meal, and no presents, no decorations, no gadgetry, no fine dining?

There is one sure thing they possess – the understanding of the most amazing gift ever given at Christmas to mankind.  The gift of salvation.  And I wonder if that’s the one gift we overlook this time of year?  I know I am guilty of that.

Christmas is coming.  There will be an abundance of delicious food, shiny decorations, gifts wrapped in pretty paper, and much merry making at our house as all our children will be home here in Mama’s Empty Nest for celebration.

But you know what I really want to fill my house?  JOY.  True unspeakable, undeniable, unimaginable, unadulterated JOY! The kind of exultation that the shepherds must have felt when the angels appeared in the night sky.

“While shepherds watched their flocks by night,

Glad tidings brought an angel bright:

How great their joy, great their joy,

Joy, joy joy!

Joy, joy joy!

Glory to God in heav’n on high.

Glory to God in heav’n on high.”

And that delight, that kind of elation, that kind of true joy only comes from receiving the gift of salvation, knowing Jesus on a personal level, and hearing His voice as we quiet our hearts and our celebrations to listen for Him and Him alone.

May you be blessed with that kind of joy this Christmas.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com