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My Blog

December 2013

Christmas Tradtions at Marshall Fields

Good morning once again to all my readers.  Frigid here is the Midwest.  Single digit temperatures are unbelievable this early in December.  I cannot imagine what the weather will be like as the winter continues.  If the way my birds at the window are eating...we had best honker down for a long, hard winter.
Well, today's blog is about the joy of Christmas windows.  I can remember since I was a child the joy of going downtown on State street to look into the Marshall Fields windows.  It was the most spectacular sight.  Children, including myself in awe over the mechanically moving figures in the window.  There just seemed to be something magical about those windows.  It took quite a long time to see them, for people would gather in bulk at a time to view its delightful treasure.  You would just patiently wait until it was your turn to get up to see it.  From window to window you would read the story as it traveled it's way down the street.  The magic was all there.  Inside those windows were dreams of both children and adults alike.  From magical fairies and elves to Paddington bear and Harry Potter.  It made memories for all who walked by.  How I miss those days.
It was a tradition since I was a child to go downtown to Marshall Fields and view the windows.  I went with my mother and then took my daughters.  From there I took my Granddaughters.  Generations of memories behind a sheet of glass. 
The golden trumpets handing outside only added to the wonder of the day.  We would buy cider from the street vender to keep us warm as we travelled back and forth, over and over again. 
When we were finished viewing the windows, it was a trip inside to the most magnificent displays of the holiday ever!  They were gigantic!  If anything ever made a statement, they certainly filled the bill.  Then it was off to the Elevators to go to the floor that hosted the Walnut Room.  This was the fantasy come true.  To sit under the elaborately decorated, gigantic tree and have lunch.  The magical fairy would walk around all dressed in costume and have the children close their eyes and make a wish as she waved her wand over their heads and sprinkled magic fairy dust over them.  When you watched them close their eyes and make their wishes it was truly a priceless moment!  I remember one year, my friend had lost her son and consequently gained 5 grandsons.  I took them all downtown with my granddaughters to see the windows and have dessert in the Walnut Room.  They had never been there before.  I thought perhaps because they were all boys that it wouldn't hold the same type of magic....BOY, was I wrong.  They asked whether they could always be a part of my tradition.  To see the boys close their eyes and make their wishes gladdened my heart.  They loved sitting beneath the tree and watching the train go around and around. 
These are the priceless moments of Christmas.  The joy on the children's faces cannot be measured with any yardstick.  The twinkle in their eyes, the grins on the faces are etched in my memory forever. 
I am so grateful to have been part of Marshall Fields Christmas gift.  Sometimes gifts are not always wrapped up pretty and tied with a bow.  Oftentimes they are right there out in the open for all to see.  You just need to make the time and the effort to look.  Thank you to all who created those windows for me and for many others.  It may have just been a job...but oh....what a job you did!

Barbara Morel... Alive in our Hearts and Memories

Well, good morning to all.  Hope hump day will get you through the rest of the week.  Frigid here in the Chicago land area.  Today I will be telling stories at the Gurnee Sunrise Senior residence as Mrs. Claus.  Christmas stories for that warm and fuzzy feelings. 
Yesterday, I received the sad news that an old friend passed away. 
So, today's blog is dedicated to her.  Our daughters met in grammar school some 30 years ago.  They became Campfire girls and then Scouts together.  I of course, was their leader in both of the organizations.  Our daughters became best friends and were like two peas in a pod.  Now, Barbara....my friend was a working mom.  Her daughter was a later in life surprise and she also had 3 sons.  We became close through the years because of our children.  This was a woman who loved her family and worked very hard.  She needed child care back in the day, and so she used to pay me to take care of her daughter.  I took care of Angela, as if she were my own.  The money that Barbara paid me went completely right back into the children.  It allowed me to take them places so that they could enjoy the summer. The children would trade places from being at my home to being with Barbara.  She was the kind of person that I had complete trust in when it came to my children.  She was the sort of person, because of working was able to take the children to larger events than I was, so the girls got both sides of the coin. 
One time in particular, Barbara took the girls to Wisconsin Dells for the weekend.  They were scheduled to arrive home at a certain time on Sunday.  This was back in the day when then were no other forms of communication except for a regular phone.  Well, we began getting concerned after they were 2 hours late.  Finally we received the call that they had just crossed the Mississippi River.  We were like..."that is in the wrong direction!"  We laughed so hard, because Barbara was not sure which of the ramps to take, so she decided to follow the beer truck.  She landed up in the wrong direction.  I don't think we ever let her forget that faux pa.!   
Tickets to Great America were quite expensive for us back then and her son was having a family outing and included us in the event.  We got tickets for a great price.  Their van and our cars headed out to Gurnee and had the best day ever.  I never forgot us all riding the log ride and getting completely soaked right down to our underwear...the kids didn't care...but Barb and I had a bit of a time with wet undies! 
There were many times that she hosted my girls over for a swim in her pool.  Toted them around as though her family now consisted of 2 additional daughters. 
Conversations of spaghetti and dinners were always part of our lives.  As was those cups of coffee and pop. 
Barbara landed up in a nursing home about a year ago.  Her children were quite amazing.  They were with her daily.  Always by her side until the very end.  What a fortunate woman to have that sort of loving and compassionate children, but then again, they became just like their mom. 
It is a difficult time of the year to loose someone you love.  Not that any time of year is not difficult, but the holidays seem more difficult.  She will be with them in spirit.  Each time they will decorate their tree, or replicate a tradition that Barb had made for them...she will be there. 
Barbara...all I can say is....I am grateful to have known you and better yet, to have you in our lives.  You gave so much of yourself...time to rest now and enjoy being back in the arms of your loving husband Tom and with your parents.  This is the circle of life that we all must take.  See you some day at those pearly gates and we'll go over old times.   

Christmas Movie Memories

Good morning everyone.  Hope you are fairing well during this frosty times.  More snow is expected this week.  This is just the beginning of winter...oh joy!
Well today's blog is about my tradition of watching movies for the holidays.  It has always been such a treat for me to see those feel good movies.  Through the years, I have chosen some that are always a must see.  I watch the most favorites while I wrap my Christmas presents.  Now some of the movies that I consider Christmas movies may not necessarily be the ones that the average person sees.  but non the less...they are my favorites.  Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary's have always been two of my favorites. Just dial O for O'Malley leaves you feeling like you will never be left in the cold.  That there is always someone who will care. The other has always been Heidi with Shirley Temple. There is something so special about this little girl's performance.  The way that you can break through anger and resentment and replace it with love. 
One year...long ago, I had fallen down my basement stairs.  I had really banged myself up quite good and just needed to lay still in bed after the fall.  Well, that night, a movie I had never seen before came on TV.  I fell in love with the movie.  Bishop's Wife with Loretta Young, David Niven and Cary Grant.  What a charming tale in this movie.  The gift of angel and a wish and prayer answered.  It has been one of my favorites ever since. 
There is a movie that I deem as one of my favorites and that is not even one that is seen any more.  I am so glad that it was on TV when a VCR was around.  The name of the movie is called "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear".
This movie is with Mickey Rooney.  It was probably made in the late 70's.  It is a wonderful movie that has Mickey as the grandfather who wants to show his grandson who lives in California what a real Christmas is like in New York.  He dies before he has a chance...but fear not...he is made an angel detective who comes back in search of the Christmas spirit.  If there is any way to find the movie to watch...I highly recommend it. 
There are list of wonderful movies...One of my all time favorites...along with many others, is White Christmas.  It has always been my hidden dream to wear the Red Christmas dress worn by Rosemary Clooney.  I now wear Mrs. Claus' red dress...but someday, I would love to have one like in the movie.  Did you know that in Ohio there is a Rosemary Clooney museum?  In the museum, that gorgeous dress is one display. It is my dream to get there and just be close to it!  Sounds, perhaps rather silly, but it is a child's dream that never seemed to fade away.   As much as I love White Christmas...I never go without watching Holiday Inn.  To have Bing's singing and Fred Astaire dancing is like a dream come true in one place.  To watch the movie now...they might be revoked for being politically incorrect.  What a shame that would be. 
Then there is the one movie that I had never seen, and one year, it seemed as though it was on a 24 hour marathon.  It's a wonderful Life.  Charming movie with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.  To see how a town can rally around a person and repay all his kindness and care.  How could you walk away from seeing such a feel good show and not feel grateful with your life?. 
Today, it is so very different with the way that TV and recorders are.  You can watch TV anytime you want.  But in the olden days, you waited with bated breath for when one of those movies came on.  You would gather the family around and watch it together. 
I remember that it was a family tradition of ours to wait for Rudolph to come on.  It was always on the day after Thanksgiving.  I would spend the day with the children decorating the house for Christmas and then I would warm up all the leftovers from Thanksgiving and we would all do the rare thing, watch the movie while eating our dinner off of TV trays in the living room.  It was a tradition.  It was the only time of the season that we would get to see it.  My how things have changed. 
I remember when the movie The Christmas Story came out and we gathered together to watch it.  We laughed the night away.  What great memories to hang onto. 
Today there are stories on the Hallmark Channel that are made special for Christmas.  I suppose it is good that they keep rerunning them...but after a while, they get to be unappreciated I think. Everyone knows they can just see it later.  It doesn't seem like family time is the same anymore. 
Well, as for me...My marathon will begin this weekend, starting with Going My Way. I will pull out all of my favorites, a box of kleenix and some snacks.  I will settle down for a long winter's marathon of Holiday spirit and good tidings.  If you have any favorites...I would LOVE to hear about them.  Sharing...that is what Christmas is about.  I hoe some of you will share your favorites with me. 

Christmas Crazy Moms

Good morning everyone.  Well, Monday is here once again.  The weekends go so quickly, don't they?  Well. yesterday I performed Christmas stories at the Plano library for their Christmas tea.  It was a lovely event.  The tables were each set with a separate type of Christmas dishes.  They served 3 courses and I told stories at the end of each course.  They were very well received.  It was so wonderful to see such changes of expression on the audience.   There was engagement, laughter, tears, smiles.  It doesn't get any better than that. Due to where I was, I was able to meet up with my friend who I really feel is my daughter and we enjoyed a 2 1/2 hour lunch together.  What a wonderful day I had...and then I had to drive home in the storm.  The storm that headed east was a mess.  What would have normally taken me an hour to drive...took 2 1/4 hours.  My eyes hurt from staring out the window, as did my hands from keeping a grip on the steering wheel.  But, by the grace of God...I got home safe and sound. 
Well, I thought about what today's blog should be about and decided on the stress of the holidays.  As I sat at the table with a family at the tea, the mother at the table had a list a mile long of things she needed to do when she returned home.  I listened as she carefully counted out what needed to be done at home.  She did this numerous times.  She had 6 loads of laundry to do, put up the tree, make dinner, bake cookies and get some repair done to her car...all before today.  I watched as her daughter's face changed each time she spoke of the chores that needed to get done.  I didn't say a word, but felt bad for her...not that she had so much to do, but that she was in such a state of worrying about all that she had to do that she couldn't really enjoy fully the time she was spending with her daughter and her mother at this tea. The look on her daughter's face told it all.  She was frustrated, perhaps sad with what was yet to come. 
I totally understood this all too well.  There was one Christmas that put a stop to my craziness.  Yes, craziness....who ever said we mothers that work needed to be these super humans?  Here we are...just trying to create memories and wonderful moments and all the while we are creating a lot of frustrations.  I remember my waking call years ago.  I had a gift store and was running full speed.  It was the holidays, I had all the shopping done, the next day was Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day in which I was to prepare these huge meals, clean house and get everything prepared and gifts wrapped.  I had come home from a full day of work, had all the gifts boxed and piled in separate piles and asked my teenage daughters to help with the wrapping that night.  Each would have to wrap a stack.  I was extremely exhausted, and as we sat in the living room, I told them I wanted to cat nap for 10 minutes and then we could begin.  We also had to get tables set, etc.  I told them to wake me in 10 minutes.  As I closed my eyes to slumber, I heard one daughter say to the other..."Man, she is going to be such a #itch tomorrow!  Well, there it was...my wakeup call...in more ways than one.  THAT was not the memory I was trying to create.  You see, I thought that everything that needed to be done or prepared had to be MY way...the PERFECT way.  Food all made by ME. I opened my eyes and told them to go to bed.  I would take care of everything.  They looked at me in complete astonishment!  I had a new plan.  I told them that in the morning, if they wouldn't mind, there would be one or two things to help me with and left it at that.  For the first time ever..I went to bed.  When the morning came, I got into the car and drove from store to bakery, picking up all the cookies that I did not have to bake, the foods that I could just place in a bowl and not have to prepare from scratch. I also purchased a bag of bows.  When I arrived home, I made a call to the fish house and ordered all the fish for that night's dinner.  I slapped a bow and wrote a name on the gifts and placed them under the tree.  I put on Christmas music and the girls helped me set the table and done!  I was not going to have my girls have a Christmas memory of a mom who was crazed!  It was wonderful.  It was from that time on that I discovered that I am not SUPER woman!  I try now to do the things I enjoy to do and the rest is just what it is. 
Now that the children are in another state, one Christmas they came here.  They spent Christmas Eve at the other family house and were to arrive on Christmas Day at our home at 11AM.  At 9 the doorbell rang and there they were.  I was washing the kitchen floor.  I asked them to just give me a couple minutes to finish.  From that point...what the heck...I asked the granddaughters if they wanted to make some Christmas cookies.  So there we were, making cookies on Christmas day, laughing, making a mess, eating cookie dough and loving every minute of it.  The music was playing and the adults were snacking.  No pressure, just lots of love and laughter. 
So my advice to all the moms who are out there...those who need to work and even those who don't...remember...it is the memories that linger on....it is the smile on those children's faces that is the picture you want to remember.  It isn't  how the lists get done, or how perfect it all looks.  Give yourself a break and enjoy the moments.  We all want the holidays to be moments of happiness not dread. 

Handmade and the Creating of Memories

Good morning.  One very frigid morning here in the Chicago land area.  It is about 7 degrees this morning, and only expecting a high of 23.  I am wishing I didn't have to go outside anywhere today...but alas...I must drop off some items at The Grove for the store.  If you are in search of wonderful handmade items for the holiday...this would be a wonderful place to shop your local artist.  High quality crafts and items for sale. 
Yesterday, I performed for a school in the suburbs.  I did a Revolutionary War program and it was wonderful.   The children were so attentive and interested.  It was such a pleasure to see children so engaged in a topic.  It interacted with them and had a great time.  After the performance and a change of clothing I drove far out west to a craft show that has always been dear to my heart.  It took me about an hour and a half to get there...only to be disappointed in what I found.  They have changed the show!  It used to be filled with beautifully done arts and crafts that were intermingled amongst antiques.  I was through the building in 15 minutes and purchased nothing.  The look on the crafters was so disheartening.  It was not like there weren't some nice things there...but the room was filled mostly with crocheted scarves and towels.  It used to have amazing hand sculpted Christmas fabrics and unusual crafts.  On the almost 2 hour drive home...even my husband commented about how the things at the Grove are outstanding and that this show was a huge disappointment. 
So today's blog is about American Made.  It is a passion of mine, since I am an American Artist to see people who can appreciate what is handmade.  It has been my passion since I was a child, to take pride in what I make and sell.  Now, you may wonder whether I had that passion as a child, and my answer would be yes.  I became an active "artist" at the age of five.  I must say that I was younger than that when I really began, but as a professional I was about five.  Now you might laugh, but at the age of five, I would have been considered quite the crocheter and already had requests from neighbors to make them things and got paid for them.  I was already drawing and sketching without any formal teaching other than from my grandmother and grandfather.  My days were spent on the rocking chair on the front porch of our Chicago home doing my arts.  There was never a dull moment.  I remember learning to crochet, needle point, sew, sketch, paint and even loom.  As the years went by, I learned more and more.  When I went to grammar school, I was encouraged by the nuns to pursue my art.  When I got to high school, I wanted to pursue the arts, but my mother would have none of that.  I was to major in business.  It was quite a disappointment for me.  I could not take home economics, art or drama.  The one concession my mother did make was that she paid for me to have private singing lessons.  It is a shame to not be able to pursue your dreams.  I know that the business end of things helped me in the future...but I always wondered what it would be like to have lived out my dreams. 
As time went by, I was introduced through the computer to art classes.  I signed up and never stopped from that point.  I learned the true value of art and the value of handmade.  I have taken numerous classes from various art teachers and have now become one.  I teach art to all levels of students and in various medias.  I am a teacher of the Deco Art company who encourages use of their products and encourages you to experiment with new lines.  There cannot be anything better than that!  Here is the problem...in America...I have seen in all forms of art...and that includes storytelling, that those who are invested in them are mostly over the age of 50.  This is becoming a dying art.  With school cutting out the arts programs, children are no longer encouraged to become interested in all those wonderful forms of art.  When you walk through some of the craft stores, you are now viewing glue together crafts.  Most of which leaves nothing for the imaginations to kick in.  There are so many imports these days that are everywhere to purchase...that a handmade item is, in my opinion overlooked and also DEvalued.  People will look at a handmade item and question the pricing.  They don't understand, how in today's economy, all of the materials have gone up and how many hours may have been spent into making something.  Something handmade is a treasure...something that you can pass down from generation to generation.  I hope that someday, my work will be treasured.  I am ecstatic when one of my customers comments about how every year they hang the ornaments that I have painted each year and look forward to the new ones.  I have one customer who has purchased family ornaments each year for her children and wondered whether they really wanted them...otherwise why bother spending the money on them.  When she finally decided to ask them about it, all of them said the same thing...that they loved them and looked forward to receiving them each year.  So there you go, I am hanging around in many homes!  I leave a memory for those I don't even know.  I am a part of their Christmas and their lives.  A piece of their memories.  I have a customer who, every year gives me a picture of each of her grandchildren in their Halloween costume and has me paint them on an ornament.  I laugh each year as I paint that piece of their history, knowing that 30 years from now...I will still be alive as they hang those ornaments and discuss their lives.  That is the value behind the handmade. I hope that you stop and think about all those wonderful treasures and those that may have made them.  Support your local artists.  We are all trying to make a living with our arts and give quality to those who buy it.  We are not only selling a product, we are selling a piece of ourselves and a memory at the same time. 

The Tradtion of Hanging the Stockings for St. Nick

Good morning everyone.  We are officially past hump day and heading towards the weekend once again.  For those of you who celebrate the season and the tradition of hanging your stocking on St. Nicholas day, here is your chance. 
For those of you who may have never heard of this tradition, St. Nick was born into very wealthy and prosperous family.  He had become orphaned at a very young age and donated his inheritance to those in need and to the poor.  He was made the bishop of Myra at a very young age and was also put in prison where many priests and bishops were.  Now as the story continues...Nicholas had heard about this father who had 3 daughters.  He wanted his daughters to have a good life...but in order for this to happen, the man had to pay a dowry, which he did not have...and thus, he daughters would become old maids without money.  One night, Nicholas heard of the poor man's plight and while passing through his home, Nicholas tossed in a bag of gold coins through the window.  The coins landed up in the stockings that were handing on the fireplace to dry.  This is were the tradition of hanging stocking came from, in hopes that they would become filled.  The tradition of hanging stockings and honoring St. Nicholas came long before the celebration of Santa Claus
.Good children receive treats – candies, cookies, apples and nuts – while naughty children receive lumps of coal. In Germany, children still put a shoe outside their bedroom doors on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, and hope to find candy, coins and maybe a small gift in them on Dec. 6. In the Netherlands, children put their shoes in front of their chimneys in hopes of finding chocolate or a small toy in their shoe when they wake. 
Thinking back to when I was young, this was a tradition is our household.  We were of Polish descent, as far as I knew, and now, knowing that this was predominantly a German tradition...I cannot help but wonder how we can to celebrate the day.  Non the less, I thoroughly enjoy the message that it brings....  Helping those who are less fortunate and in need.  
When I think of Christmas stockings, I remember having very special ones that were hand stitched and decorated.  When my children were born, my cousin made these beautiful red and white checked, lined stockings that were decorated with felt angels. She had embroidered their names on the cuff at the top.  I still have those stockings.  Many Americans hand their stockings to be filled on Christmas Day, and have never heard the story of St. Nicholas.  It would be a wonderful story to share with them. 
I have even made pure white stockings to give with a poem about filling that stocking for Jesus.  Here is the poem in case you would like to add this tradition to your list.
It wasn't that anyone had really been forgotten, no children had been slighted or made unhappy and no adult had been left unremembered. The presents had all been distributed and all the stockings were beautifully filled, all that is except one;It was the stocking intended for the child of Bethlehem. Of all the people belonging at that Christmas gathering, only he had been forgotten. Only he had been left out of the festivities. This didn't seem quite right, in as much as it was His birthday that was being celebrated. This year, the little white stocking will be hung in a special place in our home . On Christmas Eve, we will gather the family together And each of us will write on a piece of paper, A gift for Jesus to be placed in the stocking. It will remain in the stocking Until next year's Christmas Eve, When we will reach into the stocking and pass out the papers from the year before. We hope that you will enjoy beginning this Holiday tradition in your home. 
One year I remember going to my Aunt's home every day to work on a stocking for my Grandmother.  It had to be stitched and  sequins were sewn on.  It had this beautiful Santa on the front.  I worked on it as a surprise for her.  It seemed that as I grew older, I had realized that every one had a stocking hung except for her and I wanted to be the one to give her that gift. 
She was very surprised that year when she opened that present.  Her eyes twinkled that day that same that I would have imagined they say that Santa's eyes did.
As for stockings...the most popular Christmas ornament that I paint is always the fireplace with the stockings hung and I can personalize names on the stockings.  so whether St. Nicholas is  celebrated or not...the hanging of the stocking tradition seems to be carried on in some form or another. 
One of the dearest songs I hear and causes me to become quite melancholy is the one where they sing "Hang the stockings, right by the chimney, and won't you hang one for me too.   Fill them all with sweets and goodies...as we used to do!"  It reminds me of my grandparents and also my daughters. As I hang the stockings today, I will fill mine with the memories of those I love.  My family...oh how I miss them...and Jesus...oh how grateful I am for His gifts.   

Christmas Cookies for the Giving

Good Afternoon to all my readers out there.  I hope that even though it is a dreary day here in the Chicago land area, you are doing well.  As for me, I found time this morning before the rain to get outdoors and decorate the house for the holidays.  I have now joined the crowd with lights that will make the home look more inviting.  I have more decorating to do...but it has officially begun here. 
I went to shopping and while I was out, I began to think of the tradition of Christmas cookies.  My family is moving over the holidays and won't arrive until Dec. 23rd.  That is surely not a lot of time to make for a festive Christmas.  I began thinking of ways that I can perhaps do something that will help to make the day special for them all...especially the children.  I have purchased some small gifts and mostly their gifts this year will be Gift Certificates.  I hate doing that, but this year there isn't much choice in the matter.  So I began to think about cookies and the childrens favorites.  I decided I will start my Christmas cookie baking and include them with some other small surprizes for them and over night the box. 
When I began thinking of baking cookies...it really transported me back in time.  It was the one thing I must say that I looked forward to all year!  I would usually go on a cookie baking marathon.  I would bake for a week straight.  Just me, the ingredients, Bing Crosby and Barbara Streisand in the kitchen.  I truly enjoyed all the baking and the decorating that came along with it.  The special recipes that were at the top of the list.  My favorite all time recipe was for my Grandmother's Kolacky.  There are so many recipe's out there for Kolacky....but Gram's was always my favorite.  It took a lot of more work than the average cookie...and then there was Gram's and my secret tip to making them.  They never looked like the ones that you may be used to seeing.  I rolled the dough out thin like a sheet of paper.  Cut it into triangles, filled them with the fillings and rolled them up like a crescent roll and curved them on the cookie sheet.  After they were baked and cooled they were dusted with loads of powdered sugar.  They literally melted in you mouth.  I haven't made those cookies since my daughter left us 17 years ago.  they were her favorite cookie and I just couldn't bring myself to make them.  But this year, I have decided I can no longer wait for her return for me to make the cookies.  I want to share them with all of those I love and time slips away too fast.  Perhaps the smell of those delightful tidbits will bring her home. 
Through the years when my mother was alive and working for a perfume company, she always volunteered to bring in trays of cookies...which meant....I would making them.  But to tell you the truth, I never minded.  I makes thousands of cookies each year and found great delight making pleasing arrangements on the tray.  Another of my very favorite recipes is for a butter cookie.  My mother used to have this lovely lady work for her and do her baking when my mom ran the counter at Woolworths years ago.  Her name was Ms. Violet.  She used to work in a bakery and had this marvelous recipe for the bakery butter cookies.  It was so great, because one recipe could make a ton of different types of cookies.  And her chocolate topping was out of this world.  I loved making long ribbon type cookies and spreading the chocolate between the two and then sandwiching them together.  Then I would dip an end into the chocolate again and then roll them is chocolate sprinkles or crushed nuts.  I used the same recipe to make red and green cherry topped cookies, sprinkled cooked, chocolate cookies and more.  I made the standard nut cups, pecan crescents, peanut butter and Hersey kiss cookies, melt aways, spritz, pizelles, biscotti.  The list could go on forever.  Each year I made all sorts of fudges and candies.  I am not quite sure how I managed all that work and yet it never seemed like much.  I sang to the music and got lost in my own visions of sugar plums and cookies dancing through my head.  I decided that this year, the children deserve to have something a little extra special to help make their holiday brighter.  So there's cream cheese and butter,  vanilla and flour....some salt , some fillings and cooked by the hour....and do you recall the most famous cookies of all!   Okay....now if you sang the last sentence to Rudolph the red Nosed Reindeer. You are about where I am at this moment...and that would be quite giddy!  But cookies making it will be...using all the favorites from those I loved who are no longer with me...but their spirit and their cookies live on!!  I think I will fill some trays for friends and neighbors.  I have even decided to elf a few.  If you have never heard of ELFIN...that is when you put something at someone's door and then take off running so they don't see you.  I know of some people who could really use that this year!  I will pull out my Grandma's apron and think of her as I bake those tantalizing little treats.  I will remember the days of old, when I helped her bake cookies in the kitchen so long ago.  Only back then, we didn't have the same types of appliances we have today that make it so much easier, but it never stopped us from having a good time.  I will even treat myself to a batch...or maybe two of Grandma's Peanut Butter cookies.  I still have her original recipe from  the cookbook using Peter Pan Peanut Butter.  I will have to hide some and try to forget where they are or else I will eat them all in one sitting. 
Well,  I hope that cookies are in your future this year.  I hope that you will share them those you love and maybe with those who could just use a special treat! Perhaps you may host a cookie exchange or just join in on one for the fun of it.  Because...after all, that's the way the cookie crumbles!

Love in a Chirstmas Card

Good morning everyone.  I hope your holiday went well.  I taught the Alzheimer's painting this weekend.  We made a reindeer from a toilet paper roll and added a glitzy red pompom for it nose and some candy cane antlers.  I told them the story of how The book Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was written here in Chicago and  how it was bought by Montgomery Wards.  We then sang the song together.  I also shared some Christmas History of Chicago and the story behind the song The 12 Days of Christmas.  Then then joined me in singing it.  The joy and sparkle in their eyes is really something wonderful to see as they try to remember the words.  It is such a rewarding and wonderful moment. 
Well, today's blog is about Christmas Cards.  It seems to me that such a wonderful tradition has dwindled through the years.  Whether it is the cost of the postage or the lack of time, I feel it is a loss. 
I know that through the years, I have taken a lot of time and thought into choosing a Christmas card.  They are a reflection of how I am through the year.  If it is humorous and funny...then I am surely in a playful mood.  If I am missing loved ones or home...they are usually a card of a fireplace and home or a tree.  If I am being nostalgic then they would have had a winter scene with a sleigh ride.  One year, I found a card that had snowmen sitting by a campfire reading a story book...now how appropriate is that for a storyteller?  This year, I found a charming card with winder birds.  I love my birds and feed them at my kitchen window.  Many who sit at my table marvel at the amount of birds who come to dine there.  I just want to share that joy with others. 
When I think about receiving cards form others, it is such a joy.  It is a reminder that I am in their thoughts.  Sometimes they include little notes, others include a letter of the year...all the things that happened in their family.  What a nice way of getting caught up with their lives. 
I have thought about how much I have loved waiting for my tree to be up and sitting next to it with the lights and tinsel all a shimmer and writing out my cards.  A tradition of love.  If the saying. every time a bell rings, as angel gets it's wings, then perhaps it should be  said that  each time a Christmas Card is received...someone's thoughts and love is retrieved. 
Christmas cards began around 1840 by Queen Victoria and have had many changes through the years. In the 1940's is was common to have more patriotic cards during the war.  There were cards that included toys or gifts.  One year, I hosted a USO Holiday event with my Red Hat group which included others. We spent some time gathered at the tables and wrote Christmas cards to our service men and women.  A time to be grateful for their service that keeps us safe and free.  I think that this is a wonderful thing to do and such a nice surprise for them who have the holiday season away from family and friends.  Here is an address if you would care to send a card of two of gratitude. 
 Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capital, MD 20791-5456
There are so many ways that people display their cards.  Some use wall hangers or baskets, some are taped on doors and archways or fireplaces.  Christmas Cards are recycled.  The craftier persons have made baskets, ornaments, bookmarks and boxes from them.  What a nice way to keep those memories around. 
Christmas cards are a sign of love.  A sign that someone is thinking about you.  What a special moment it is, to open a card from someone who has been away or perhaps a bit distant at that moment in your life.  A rekindling happens when that card is open and read. 
So if you are ready to spread your love and care this season, drop someone you are thinking about one of those wonderful notes of joy.  You may be surprised at how it may just brighten up someone's day.  Think about that person and their opening of your card and it may brighten up your day as well.  Happy writing!
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