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Archive for December, 2014

Joy Reigns!

christmas plates plummer 2

I’m doing a little happy dance this morning because today Emily came over to help me go through some cupboards and decide which things to toss, which to donate, which to keep. And she found my Christmas plates which were my mother’s and have been missing for two years. The almost identical ones which were my grandmother’s may have been donated, but I am so happy to have these. And I would swear I’ve looked through this cupboard ten times in the past two years without finding them.

Looking at them, but not seeing them.

Good Grief. And My Hat! (For those on the D.E.Stevenson list who recently had a discussion of this expression.) I was just telling Emily that they would not be where she was looking when she held one out to me and asked,
“What’s this, then?”

These are the plates from which I ate the Christmas dinners of my childhood. And they were used more than once during those long past Christmases…….And my children ate their childhood Christmas dinners from them….And my some of grandchildren until two years ago….So now I have the eight plates that were my mother’s Plummer Christmas plates with the fluted edges. The illustration is of the Plummer plates with smooth edge which were my grandmother’s. (Though looking more closely, the illustration may be of the Spode design…My plates are very, very similar but have a star atop the tree.) I might possibly have donated them, though I doubt it. Nevertheless, these eight plates have put another song in my heart!

christmas plates plummer

The above photo is a Plummer Plate. The shape is not like my plates which are round.

And besides finding the lost, I am extremely grateful to Em for moving what seem like thousands of things to where they belong, what she calls their “final destination”. I just do not have the stamina to do this right now…Some went upstairs to Paul’s old office, some to the garage, some to the places in the family room where my art supplies are, some to Andy’s room, some to mine, some to the trunk of my car to take to Goodwill.It was a lot of schlepping hither, thither and yon. And so much was accomplished. This also makes me very, very happy!

Joy reigns!

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Village Thrift………..

When my children were growing up, I was often to be found in a little rural thrift shop in the village of Richfield. It was called The Treasure Loft and run by Mildred and her two daughters….It stayed in business long enough for Alice to shop there when she was first married and she and Mike were living in The Octogon House. Finally, and sadly, Mildred retired and her daughters did not want to continue…But it really was a place for treasures. One of the women who resold books there was a cook book editor and I found some wonderful buys, and also often, excellent hand made pottery and textiles as well as clothes. I had a lot of fun stretching my dollars there and finding exotic things! And now it’s becoming more fashionable to do so. I bought many things there – dress up play clothes for the kids. I remember some amazing long dresses for the girls and a strange sort of velvety blue top for Andy that looked as though Henry VIII might have worn it for a portrait. Sometimes he wore it with a velvet sort of beret. The three of them often made up little plays and invited Paul and me to come and see them. Sweet days to remember.

Village Thrift 1

Nowadays, Alice shops often at Village Thrift in Cuyahoga Falls. She finds amazingly excellent bargains at rather amazing prices. Mildred always told me that Alice had a good eye. So I was amused when I called Emily this moring, to try to schedule some things later this week, to hear that she was at the Village Thrift with Alice and two cousins, Julie and Marian and the four of them were carefully looking through the offerings. They are all mothers of young children. Indeed, they have ten children between them and the oldest is ten……They can use the help and fun of thrifting….Perhaps it’s genetic!

village thrift 2

Alice pretty often finds top brand sports clothes for pennies on the dollar when it comes to buying skiing outfits for her offspring.

It’s part of recycling and also has all the pleasures of the chase and the surprise of finding treasure.

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I just discovered that the new appearance of WordPress, at least for those writing the posts, means that drafts are no longer saved, or at least no place where I can find them, so here I am beginning again.

The sun is shining for the second day in a row here in northeast Ohio. It’s like a miracle for December 2014!

Christmas is beautiful this year, though I am sure the kids would like snow so they could enjoy some winter sports over their break.

My own three children, Alice, Emily, and Andrew, gave me a wonderful present together….A three month course in The Artist’s Way, at our local CSA Farm, Crown Point. I did some of this on my own when Julie Cameron’s book first came out in the ’90s, but life has gotten in the way for nearly two decades and a re-energizing would be so very welcome! And I’m so glad they gave me an experience rather than a thing since I am at that point in life where I am trying to give away things every day!

books the artist's way

My sweet niece Casey, daughter of my “baby brother” Art (in his 50s now) became engaged over the break to her wonderful fiancĂ© Jeff. I am so happy for her and all their family! Welcome to Jeff and I wish all of you happiness! Jeff is in the military and this happened on his Christmas leave.

Ruppelt, Casey dec 2014 with Jeff on leave

Andy had a chance to meet with Kevin Pansky, one of his best friends, yesterday, and Kevin’s wife Kristin, and their six month old baby Declan who, I hear, doesn’t let his Mom and Dad get much sleep at night! This was about an hour after Andy had a nice “Cousins Lunch” at a local Pad Thai restaurant. Holidays are often a great time to reconnect with cousins who are not in town that often. There were eleven of them at a long table at the back of the restaurant. Afterwards, all of them had a hike on the towpath in the National Park nearby, walking north. Andy and Kevin, meanwhile, were walking on the towpath far north, hiking south. But it’s a long, long path and they never did meet……

Emily and Ingmar had a glorious tree, probably the largest ever because the house they are renting has a sort of Cathedral ceiling. And it was beautifully lit with real candles! I would share some photos of this tree. I have some. But they are Andy’s zip files and I don’t know how to get them into this blog!But I know it is good for you all to use your imaginations!

Many American families have already discarded their Christmas trees which they put up after Thanksgiving. But we don’t have our trees until shortly before Christmas Eve and I keep mine up until at least Twelfth Night, the feast of The Epiphany. I’m certainly still celebrating. The Wise Men don’t even arrive until January 6th!

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Christmas card cozy picture

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

——the Reverend, Howard Thurman

Christmas cards angels 1

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Oh, were we? Speaking of trees? Well, I was thinking of them. I’m still decorating my little table top tree downstairs, but when Paul was alive we always had large living trees which were decorated Hungarian fashion with not only ornaments and lights but lots of cookies and also special “szalon cukor” (parlor candy) for people to enjoy eating. I remember that one of my nephews burst into tears (he was about 3 years old) when he saw his first American Christmas tree. “It has nothing to eat,” he wept.

Stephen dec 2014 getting the tree

Today Alice and her family were at the tree farm we’ve gone to for years now, nearly an hour south of here. I believe their family tree story at the moment is that they buy the tree and put it up and Baby Jesus decorates it on Christmas Eve and Santa Claus brings the gifts to put under it and Alice and Mike add the presents they are giving people in the morning….It does become complicated……

Stephen dec 2014 getting the tree 2

DD Emily and her family have Baby Jesus/Christ Kindl bring the tree on Christmas Eve, and decorate it and put gifts under it….

Alice is having her nieces, Emily’s daughters, at her home for the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Then everyone is coming to my house where we sing in the candle-lit kitchen and in time, Andy will read the Christmas story from Luke and we will sing more and a bell will ring and we will go see the tree and the gifts. Then Emily and her family will go to their home for their singing and gifts. Alice and her family will have a Christmas supper with Andy and me. And then go home and find their presents the next morning.

See what I mean about complicated? Yes, it is! But it was not much simpler when Alice, Emily and Andy were the little kids themselves. And it is always magical and heartwarming.

Look how strong Nathan has become! He’s a real help with this tree cutting and bringing home!

Nathan dec 2014 getting the tree 2

Nathan dec 2014 getting the tree

Meanwhile, I am going to miss the Advent singing tomorrow because I’ve nearly lost my voice with the unfortunate cold I am trying to shake off! And I must put in some more time finishing my Christmas cards……
I’ve had two days of doing not much of anything except gargling with hot salt water. (It does help.) And sipping Lady Gray tea. And reading free feel-good Kindle Christmas stories.

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Memories…Christmas is always an emotional time for everyone, I think. Happy ones or sad ones, or a mixture of both………

Yesterday a blogger I’ve been reading for years now, Brenda at Coffee tea books and Me, published a post on “Why I celebrate Christmas”. Somehow it triggered many memories for me from the Christmas I was six years old and finishing the first semester of first grade.

Christmas tree german

Nearly a year before in January of my year in Kindergarten my dear father Eli died, from one half hour to the next. Probably if it had happened now, he would have been saved. But there were no EMS people then. It took our family doctor a half an hour to arrive and by then it was too late. There is so much else I could write about those days, but that is a story for another time. Now I am remembering preparations for Christmas the following year. I remember sitting on the dark red plush sofa in our living room and watching my mother and grandfather on a step ladder decorating our really tall tree. Up to that point, in every other year, I had heard the Santa Claus story and how he brought the Christmas tree as well as the presents, but the winter of 1951 we did things a little differently.

Christmas tree in Germany

I remember watching, but not feeling much except a sort of sadness. Not overwhelming, but a bit empty. And I remember asking my mother about Santa Claus and how presents came at Christmas time…..

Christmas Tree from Denmark 2010 wiki commons

And my mother came over and so kindly and gently reminded me that God is Love and Love is what makes all these things happen. I thought then that it was a perfect explanation and I still do. This is why I celebrate Christmas. Love came into the world…….Love comes and makes wonderful things happen. A good reason to try very hard to keep Christmas in our hearts all year around. My mother and I did not always see eye to eye as I was growing up, but several times at critical moments she came up with the perfect words to comfort and heal.

Christmas by Carl Larsson

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nutcracker 1

Today, Andy, Alice, Emily, Sofia, Clara and I are going to see the Nutcracker ballet at the Akron Civic Theater.

http://akron.com/akron-ohio-entertainment-news.asp?aID=22134

I think Sofia and Clara will enjoy the ceiling of the theater which has twinkling stars and clouds that drift across……

The little girls are very excited to see the ballet, as are the rest of us. (They have been taking ballet lessons for a few years now.) We’re having lunch at Lockview, across from the theater and then going to the performance in the beautiful, renovated and saved from destruction Civic Theater.

I’m posting this in response to Weaver of Grass’s request for blogs to be upbeat these days and try to counteract the bad news in other places. A good request!

nutcracker 2

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advent wreath 2

For well more than fifty years, Advent has been one of my favorite seasons of the church year. I was in high school when I read Maria von Trapp’s book Around the Year with the Trapp Family Singers and learned of the Austrian custom of singing around the Advent wreath on Sunday afternoons, ending with a little tea…….Or learned that Advent Hymns and Christmas carols are not the same things…

When my children were growing up (and actually, from the time Paul and I married, and before there were any children to share this custom) we also sang English Christmas carols and Hungarian Advent and Christmas songs on Sunday afternoons. We made family song sheets and everyone really loved this custom. It had been more difficult to accomplish this in recent years, especially with Emily’s family so far away, but now they are close and tomorrow, the first Sunday of Advent, we will be gathering at her home to sing….I can hardly wait.

I began this post a few days ago and we’ve already had the first Advent singing at Em’s…….It was preceeded by some cookies and tea which Ingmar said was his family’s custom, though I’m not sure this helped us get our singing voices and we certainly need all the help we can get. We are not the Trapp Family, alas!

Then we sat in a circle and the wreath with four white candles and one lit was on a table beside Ingmar. We go around the circle and each person takes a turn to choose the song from our Jalics family Songbook, a work in progress for more than the last 30 years! We have songs in English, German and Hungarian.

Some are upbeat and the children seem to like these best, songs such as O Du Froeliche and Deck the Halls……For Jingle Bells Emily handed out bells for us to ring. Some are songs that were beloved by family members who are no longer with us, such as Fel Nagy Oromre which was the favorite of my husband Paul’s father. Or O Little Town of Bethlehem which my grandfather Art Granat liked very much. We never get every song in the songbook, but we give it a good try!

Sunday, besides being the first Sunday of Advent was also the name day of my son Andrew, the feast day of Andrew the apostle, the fisherman. Paul and I wanted names which would be good in both English and Hungarian. In Hungarian Andy’s name is Andras. (pronounced “Awn drahsh”.)

I find myself struggling to accomplish much of anything during these days of ever diminishing daylight, and there is a lot to do…….Many Christmas cards need to be written, and though I no longer decorate the least bit compared to what I once did, there are still many things waiting to happen! The nativity set, the tree, little things set about to remind us that the season of Advent and Christmas is coming…….I need to put out the books I read and look at this time of year….I need to cultivate a certain emptiness in myself to make room for the coming of Love into the world. Et Verbum Caro Factum Est.

Christmas et verbum caro factum est

If you go to this link http://www.amazon.com/dp/0870612409/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=33854793835&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12329148069911349716&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_115o7rr5o1_b#reader_0870612409 and click on the image of the book The Reed of God you will be able to scroll down til you come to the pages on “Emptiness” which I have pretty much read every Advent since I was a sophomore in high school and Sister Gabriella recommended the book to me…..

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