Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Our one enduring New Year's tradition is to have black eyed peas for good luck. I usually have ham for Christmas and save the ham bone to cook with black eyed peas for New Year's Day. It makes a nice meal with a big pan of cornbread that I bake in a cast iron skillet. It also makes enough so that we can invite neighbors or friends in to share in the good luck meal with us.

For those of you who do not like black eyed peas, you might like to try Texas Caviar which can be served as a side dish with a meal.

2 cups black-eyed peas (fresh cooked or canned)
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 small can of chopped green chiles
Dash of cayenne pepper or your favorite hot sauce
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons minced celery
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced (or more, if you are a cilantro fan)
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

DIRECTIONS: Drain peas, rinse with cold water and drain again.
Combine olive oil, chiles, cayenne, onion, celery, vinegar, salt and pepper, and mix well. Pour over peas and stir gently. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
At serving time, add chopped tomatoes and cilantro, and mix carefully. Yum!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Our company left today and our house is VERY quiet! There are a few packages left under the tree to deliver to Son #2 and family when we visit them next week, but our house definitely has that "after Christmas look" with many leftovers in the refrigerator, several containers of cookies on the kitchen counter, gifts still to put away, and Christmas wrapping paper and tags to stow until next year.

However, looking back is a delight. We had a wonderful time with family and loved ones over the past week. We realized that we were celebrating Christmas this year with four generations gathered together. The first picture shows my mother who was the oldest at our celebration at 93 and the youngest was Grandchild #7 at almost 5 months old.

Miss Ella Bella discovered that Santa had come and eaten all the cookies and polished off the milk that she had left for him the night before. She was quite surprised and a bit dismayed that ALL the cookies were gone!

Grandchild #7 let his sister, Miss Ella Bella, help him open his packages and then she helped Granddaddy open his stocking gifts. When the gifts had been opened, she involved Granddaddy in coloring with her in her new coloring book. He was most happy to help her begin coloring Cinderella's beautiful dress. After having all boys in the family, these girl activities are a new experience for him.

Great-Gram read to Miss Ella Bella and then clowned around with her oldest two great-grandchildren. We had a wonderful time and these picture provide us with some great memories. We are, indeed, thankful that we have had these times to enjoy being together--with still more together times ahead when we gather with Son #2 and family.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


This is one last Christmas story from my Christmas booklet several years ago. It was written by my sweet brother-in-law and I was so pleased that he contributed to our booklet. My wish for all of you is a blessed and peace-filled Christmas. And here is the story of Rabbit Hunting in Alaska.

In the late 1950’s my two sisters and I were in elementary school in Anchorage, Alaska. Christmas in Alaska was fun because the guaranteed white stuff meant lots of sledding, snowmen, and snowball fights. However, winters in Alaska were cold, and the nights long. Long nights with no computers, and fuzzy black and white TV dictated that we find other forms of entertainment. Board games were fun and my sisters and I had asked for a SORRY board game for Christmas. A common tradition in our home was looking for presents before Christmas. Our parents hid presents throughout the house until the night before Christmas when they were placed under the tree. My parents knew about our “rabbit hunting.” They were good at hiding presents and added an extra precaution by taping and wrapping presents before hiding them.

My sisters and I found one particular wrapped package approximately two weeks before Christmas. From the dimensions and sounds when shaken, we guessed that it was a SORRY board game we anxiously wanted to play. We spent several evenings alone without Mom and Dad and thoroughly examined the mystery package. The minute examination finally led to cautious tugging at the edge of the tape holding the Christmas paper. Careful and patient pulling revealed a means to pull the SORRY Board Game out of its wrapping. The tape was carefully loosened allowing the wrapping paper to be opened at one end, and the SORRY board game slid out of its wrapping. For two weeks before Christmas, we enjoyed playing the SORRY board game every time our parents were gone.

We always detected our parent’s arrival home early enough to hide our mischievous deed. We carefully slid the game back into its wrapping, reattached the original tape, and re-hid the package. I fondly remember how much fun it was opening the well used SORRY game at Christmas and pretending surprise.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Musings

I am not ready for Christmas. I am on an errand of mercy. I received a plea for help this a.m. as I finished my workout at the fitness center and headed for church to pray for the various needs that I was aware of. Instead, I glanced at my cell phone and noticed a MISSED CALL sign. I returned the call and headed out to lend a hand. I left many things undone at home. I have a list of "to do things" as long as my arm as I rushed to help out.

Along the way I decided that the Spirit of Christmas also includes answering the call for help and I am so glad that I responded the way I did instead of the response on the end of my tongue that almost said, "I cannot possibly spare the time!

Instead of spending time in the Mall completing my shopping list, baking stuff to give away, and wrapping gifts, I have held a delightful child who looked up at me with loving eyes and a grin a mile wide. I have played with a delightful little sister who has wrapped my heart around her little finger. And I hope I have helped this family in need over a bit of a hump.

I believe I have been gifted by answering that call for help this morning. I believe that is what the Spirit of Christmas is really all about! The rest of that stuff on my list will take care of itself--and my dear husband spent much of the day working on my list. I am so grateful to him for helping me out!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


A frugal hint that might not apply to all climates, but works nicely in our climate where we only get mild freezes is to plant a winter crop of lettuce. We have a neighbor who planted several kinds of lettuce and arugula and he shares with several of us in the neighborhood. I go over 2-3 times a week and pick enough for salads for my husband and me. I usually get plenty for two meals each time and it is delicious--so much better than what we get in the store. This fall I planted some chard, kale, cilantro and a bit of purple lettuce. It has grown well despite our drought and a couple of freezes. It is nice to have these fresh items in our salads and know that they have not been treated with pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Best of all is that they are not costing us an arm and a leg in the store.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


As I told you last week, several years ago I invited members of my family to write their Christmas stories and send them to me. I gathered those stories into a booklet, printed it out and that was one of my Christmas gifts to the family that year. This is the second story I have put on my blog. It was written by both Son #2 (she calls him WB) and his wife, Kara (you can click on her name to view her blog). I laughed until I hurt when I read their two versions of the same story. I hope you enjoy this one!

Kara's version:
It was going to be a wonderful Christmas. It was our first official Christmas in our first home as a married couple. I couldn't wait to start putting up decorations and filling our little house with holiday cheer. I had visions of sparkling lights hanging from the rooftop, luminarias lighting the entrance way and a majestic tree adorning our front room. As I stood outside staring at the front of our house one December afternoon I contemplated my strategy.

"I need a theme," I thought to myself. "Something traditional yet unique. No icicle dripping lights for us; besides the stores had been out of them since before Thanksgiving. I'm thinking white lights strung across the roof line, no mixing & matching, just plain white lights. Maybe some lights on the bushes as well. Then some pine boughs encircling our front windowpanes. Maybe a few velvet bows to tie it off. Nothing flashy, nothing plastic, just simple. Possibly a spotlight to shine on the wreath that will hang on the front door. Luminarias would be nice, but I couldn't use plastic ones and the paper bag ones might not weather the next couple of weeks. Guess I'll skip that."

I was thinking of all the Christmas themes my Mom had done over the years. Her decorations were always tasteful, unique, and catching to the eye. She always used real luminarias, fresh pine boughs, etc. She was always ahead of her time in the decorating area. Bless my Dad for trying to untangle the lights each year. The neighborhood was always aware of our lights going up when my Dad's shouts of frustration echoed down the street. Speaking of men and lights, I needed to enlist the help of my husband. Oh, I could have done it myself, but it would be more fun to involve WB. I saw him putzing around inside the garage as I contemplated my game plan.

"WB, let's put up Christmas lights!" I yelled to my husband who suddenly disappears around the corner of the garage. When he reappears and walks toward me I can tell he thinks this does not sound like fun.

"Okay, here's the plan." I began to tell him all my ideas and ask for his input (I've learned that this is important in marriage).

He took a deep breath and looked me in the eye and says, "Go for it!" and began to walk away.

"Whoa, you don't expect me to do this on my own? Besides, you are good with electricity," I respond. This I've learned in a year of marriage is called stroking his ego. "Why don't you get the lights and I'll work on the windows. And what about a spotlight; we don't have one," I blurted out in a rush knowing I may lose him at any moment to tools in the garage.

Reluctantly WB went into the attic to dig out the lights we had bought. I settled for manufactured pine boughs bought at Wal-Mart. This distressed me but WB assured me it looked natural as I wrapped the long strings around the windows.

After some time the lights seemed to have been hung. I wasn't crazy about the bright orange extension cord that hangs from the edge of the roof to the ground by the garage, but WB assured me that no one would notice it, especially at night.

I had been unsuccessful in explaining the concept of a spotlight to my husband. This was very frustrating to me because I didn't think it was a difficult concept to grasp. I tried to explain to my husband for the hundredth time, "It's just a big bulb on a stake stuck in the yard and you plug it in!"

"What's it connected to? How does it light up?" WB asked again.

"Oh, geez, it's a light! A light you shine on things." Why was he making it so complicated? My parents had two in their front yard and for the next week I frantically searched the neighborhoods for some to show to WB. He wanted to rig an elaborate electrical system and I just wanted a spotlight on my door. I finally gave up and decided that the porch light would do.

Finally, we had to get a Christmas tree. I'm not sure who first mentioned the idea of a living tree, but I ran with it. We found a nice Norfolk pine about 3 feet high. We set it on top of a table by our window in the front room. I told WB it was perfect, small and young, but that we will have it for years and each Christmas it will grow and flourish just like us. It was a symbol of our marriage and all the Christmases we would share. I envisioned ten years into the future a six-foot tall tree surrounded by our children and I'll tell them, "your Dad and I got this tree on our first Christmas together and it has grown taller and stronger each year." It was the perfect last touch to our Christmas decorations.

WB's version:
It was going to be our first Christmas in our first home as a married couple. Kara had big plans for decorating, and set about trying to implement those plans. Kara spoke of visions of luminarias, simple white lights strung all along the roof line and bushes, pine boughs, velvet bows and a majestic tree in our front room. One lesson that I have come to learn in our marriage is that when Kara does the planning, WB gets to do the implementing.

I asked her, "What about the lighted plastic snowman, where will he go? And the plastic Santa, and the lighted plastic candles? Should we put those on the porch or in front of the bushes?" I smiled inwardly as Kara glared at me.

Kara then said that we would need a spotlight. After looking over the front of the house, I realized that there were no electrical outlets. Not one to be bothered by minor logistical impediments, Kara continued on with explaining how the spotlight would herald the spirit of Christmas at our house. I made the mistake of asking, "What would the light shine on?" Exasperated, Kara replied, "Our front door!" I pondered the architectural implications of highlighting our otherwise uninspiring front door, but I still remained puzzled as to what the spotlight had to do with Christmas. I could understand putting a spotlight on the chimney, or setting some spotlights out front like those seen at movie premiers so that Santa wouldn't miss the house, but I thought that the porch did an adequate job of lighting the front door.

After a thorough evaluation of the electrical demands of Kara's planned Christmas decorations, we settled on a string of white lights across the front roof line. Of course, I had to run an extension cord from the garage to provide power for the lights, which meant that during the day I had to remove the unsightly orange cord and replace it at dusk.

Our thoughts turned to the interior decorations, and most importantly, the tree. We both decided that a living Christmas tree would be both a nice economical and sentimental touch to our first Christmas. We bought a small Norfolk pine and set it on a table in our front room. Each year, the tree would grow and mark the passage of time as we would decorate it for Christmas. We envisioned that our children would help us decorate the very same tree. Best of all, we wouldn't have to spend any more money on Christmas trees!

Christmas came and Kara and I shared a wonderful holiday in our new home. However, six months later, the Norfolk pine had died, and Kara was already making plans for the holiday decorations, plans that included two spotlights; one red and one green.

As I remember it, we were at the hardware store and we finally found the elusive spotlights. The single spotlight was quite elaborate enough so WB insisted on the double one and he also chose the bulbs! It looks good on my front door, but not as good as it will look on my new front door WB will install for me next year:)

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Today we had visitors. My sister and her daughter and two children came over. My sister brought flowers for our mom and we went over and the children watched Mom knitting a scarf and then helped decorate her little tree.

Then we called my nephew and invited his family over so the cousins could play and we could have an impromptu Bar-B-Que dinner together. We counted and found four generations at the table tonight. What a blessing to be able to share this time amongst family members.

Of course, we took pictures and were quickly able to share them with my brother and his wife who are still at Mayo where my sister-in-law is quickly recovering (quite miraculously--thanks to many and their prayers!) from a kidney transplant about three weeks ago.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Several years ago I invited members of my family to write their Christmas stories and send them to me. I gathered those stories up into a booklet, printed it out and that was one of my Christmas gifts to the family that year. I have asked several of the family members for permission to print their stories and they have given me the okay. Here is one of my favorites from Son #4:


I will never forget the first Christmas away from my family. I was eighteen and just finished up with boot camp for the Coast Guard and got stationed in California. It was December 1995 and I was new to the Coast Guard and the people at the small boat station. It was Christmas Eve and I showed up for work in the morning and saw all the people go home who had the next two days off and became a little jealous of them knowing they will be with their families. It was just another day at work and being the new kid, the jobs were not the best. Christmas Eve consisted of watching some movies with five guys and just kicking back and relaxing a little.

On Christmas morning about six thirty I woke up and got dressed. Just like any morning I started my normal routine since I was not told any different the night before. I walked downstairs to a smell I have never smelled before in my life. The officer of the day was cooking in the kitchen by himself since three thirty in the morning. He had food all out on the tables and he asked if I had ever had roasted chestnuts. Saying no, he opened up the oven and had trays of chestnuts (the smell I was not familiar with). Soon everyone got up and came down to enjoy the fine food. When we all sat down to eat the front door opened and all of the people that were off and their families came over to enjoy the day with us since we were stuck at the station. The rest of the day was spent throwing the football, lying around on the couch, and eating. For the first Christmas away from family I knew I had a new family made up of people that were in my situation once before.

I have not had a Christmas like this one in the Coast Guard since, I don’t know if the people are changing or the mindset of taking care of one another has changed. All I know is I will always remember the first Christmas away from my family could have been sad but I was so full of food and laughter that I was full of holiday cheer.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Coupons! That is my Frugal Friday hint. I have been clipping coupons for about six months now and it really pays off. Today I went to Walmart to buy some groceries and looked through my coupons before I left home. I came out of there with ONLY the things on my list and saved $6.50 with the coupons I used. Several of the things I bought were marked down, so that made the coupons even more valuable. Yesterday I went to Walgreen's and had clipped coupons out of their Sunday advertisement. I bought three bags of things and, once again, saved $6.00. In both shopping trips I was very rigid about only buying things on my list because I know how easy it is to get carried away with the other things that I see as I shop for things on my list.

It has been years since I clipped coupons. It was something I did when my boys were growing up and we needed to make every penny count. Since the boys left home I had gotten lax and did not pay that much attention to how much money I was spending. Now it shocks me at how much I could have been saving if I had been more conscious about spending. This economic downturn has really made me think about the money that I do spend nowadays.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Once or twice in the past I have asked for prayers for my friend Helga's ten-week-old grandson who was born with a heart problem. The doctors say that the heart is now strong, but Rudy is having several unsolved problems and the doctors are perplexed, the parents are frustrated, and the family needs prayer. A friend submitted the following proposal on their blog:

Our good friend, Bob Drummond, approached me this week with a proposal that we highly welcome. As the doctors are finding it difficult to explain Rudy’s lack of progress and are trying new things, this would be a great time for some focused prayer. So, please read below and join as you feel led–

Rolf and Trish have allowed me to be a “guest poster” on Rudy’s Beat to encourage the multitude of friends who have so faithfully supported the Geyling family during this season of challenge and uncertainty for a time of prayer and fasting for Baby Rudy. Acknowledging the wonderful grace God has administered through the dedicated and talented doctors and nurses who have so expertly cared for Rudy, we also recognize the need to rely on the power of our personal and powerful God to bring healing or change when we get to the limits of our human abilities and wisdom.

As you are aware, there are two areas that are crucial to Rudy’s healing and development right now: the stoppage of the unexplained fluid leaking into his chest cavity and his ability to take and maintain nourishment so he can develop the strength he needs to progress. As you know, the progress in these important milestones has been inconsistent, even confounding, yet essential for his growth and health. So, as Rudy is slowly beginning to take nourishment through a feeding tube and Rolf and Trish have to make some important decisions regarding the next treatment options, I think it is appropriate that we join together (as we can) for a time of prayer and possibly. fasting, on Thursday or Friday this week, as is best for you.

This exhortation is given with the full respect of the different faith traditions of Rudy’s supporters and that prayer and fasting can take many forms, from full fasts to fasting to and praying for one meal a day. In our freedom in Christ this is not about doing “it right” or like others do. God does not need our formulas or prescriptions, just our humble faith and acknowledgment of His Lordship and sovereignty over all things, including Rudy’s little body.

So, as you are led, I invite you to join the literally hundreds of people from all around the world who are following Rudy through this blog in a dedicated time of fasting and prayer for Rudy on Thursday or Friday this week. Let’s ask our gracious Lord to bring an end to the fluid leakage as He sees fit and that Rudy be able to take and tolerate the nutrition he so desperately needs.

Over the years I have observed that one of the redemptive miracles in times of great challenge and crisis is how the invisible Body of Christ can become so visible to others through acts of love and sacrifice. The outpouring of love and support for the Geylings and Baby Rudy is evidence of this, as people all over the world, many of whom have never met the Geylings, have been united in their love, support and prayers. This is a powerful witness to a watching world of the reality of the living God we love. On behalf of the family and friends, we express our thanks and great appreciation for you faithful prayers and support! It has been literally miraculous. Again, I ask you to join us for this time of dedicated prayer and fasting.

Standing with you for Rudy and the Geylings.
Pastor Bob

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


My painting classes ended last week and will not begin again until sometime in January. I missed going to class this week and have two pictures "in progress" that will have to wait until January to be finished. I doubt if I have much time to paint the next couple of weeks anyway since I have not done one bit of decorating yet and I have to get several packages ready to mail by the first of next week. Why the first of next week? Because the Post Office says that is the latest date they can assure that packages will get to their destination by December 24. Well, at least that gives me a target to head for.

Meanwhile, I thought I would share with you two pictures that I have finished. I took pictures of the paintings and am very disappointed with the quality of the photographs, but you will get the idea of what I have been working on. The covered bridge picture had a lot of architectural detail that was very tedious to work on, but I am very pleased with the end product. I may do more of that type of painting. The pelican was not quite so tedious, but I really got carried away with those rocks at the top of the painting. I am not so sure about my skill at doing bird feathers--perhaps I need to practice on another bird or two.

I believe my next project will be a still life painting, but then there is that lovely water lily I took a picture of and that oak tree and dirt road picture that I have. Oh my, I can hardly wait for January to begin painting again. Hope Santa brings me some new brushes, though!


This cookie has become a tradition in our family during the Holidays:

2 egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate bits
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 375°F for 15 minutes. Beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually add sugar until thoroughly mixed. Fold in chocolate and nuts. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil, or use a silicone baking sheet. Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls onto lined cookie sheet, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Place cookie sheet in oven and turn oven off. Leave cookies in oven (without opening the oven door!) until oven has completely cooled. Makes about 2 dozen.

I usually divide the beaten egg whites into two bowls. I add chocolate chips to one batch along with red food coloring. To the other bowl I add chopped walnuts or pecans and green food coloring. I sometimes leave some of the cookies white. They make a nice platter of cookies.

I used to make these cookies in the evening and leave them in the oven overnight. My boys could usually tell when I had made the cookies and sometime during the night they raided the oven. The next morning when I would open the oven, there were often more blank spaces than cookies on the cookie sheets.

Friday, December 5, 2008


I figure I am saving a bundle of money this year by staying home making my Christmas presents. Seems like I tend to go into a store and see things that I just have to buy. If I stay out of stores, then I am not tempted to buy things I see.

I do need to do some shopping soon, but I plan to take a specific list along with my Christmas list and that should hinder impulse buying if I STICK TO THE LIST!

Meanwhile, meander over to my daughter-in-law Kara's blog and see her neat Frugal Friday hint for Christmas evergreens to use in decorating.

And here is a recipe for PATCHWORK SOUP MIX that would be great for gift-giving:

1/2 cup barley
1/2 cup dried split peas
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
1/2 cup dry lentils
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried sage
1. In a wide mouth pint jar layer barley, split peas, rice, and lentils.
2. In plastic bag combine parsley, garlic, pepper, salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, & sage.
3. Decorate jar lid and attach seasoning packet with ribbon to jar. Attach a recipe card with the following directions: 1. Empty jar contents into a colander and rinse. 2. Place contents in a large stockpot and cover with 10 cups water. 3. Stir in 1 chopped medium onion, and the seasoning packet. 4. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Check after 30 minutes and add additional water if necessary.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The following is a story my sister wrote about Christmas trees at our house when we were growing up:

The Christmas Season always started for us on Thanksgiving Day. We usually stayed home for Thanksgiving because that was the time for Christmas tree sales to begin.

My brother was a member of a Boy Scout Troop, and each Thanksgiving the Troop received a shipment of Christmas trees by rail car that had to be unloaded. All members of the Troop, and their families, helped unload the rail car that was parked across the street from the Boy Scout tree yard. The weather did not really effect our unloading the car. If it was very cold, everyone just bundled up, and if it was warm, we felt really lucky. The process usually took all afternoon.

The Scout Troop made almost all their money for the year's plans through the selling of Christmas trees. Sometimes the Scouts sold light bulbs to bring in extra money. After setting up the tree lot, the Troop members usually worked on the lot selling the trees. Everyone had to share the duties. Parents volunteered their time and expertise.

We always purchased our Christmas tree from the Scout Troop lot. One year in particular Mother requested a perfectly shaped tree. The men working on the lot agreed to find mother the best tree. After a thorough search, Dad brought home what he thought was the best tree.

We placed the tree in our formal living room in front of the window. Mother and I noticed that our tree was perfectly shaped and contained no bare spots. After Dad placed the lights on the tree, Mother, my brother, my sister and I started decorating it. Mother and I started noticing that some of the limbs had different needles on them. She and I found this to be very unusual. After closer scrutiny, we discovered that the men on the lot had placed a branch in every bare spot and trimmed all limbs. The men working the lot drilled a hole in the trunk and then placed a pine limb in the hole. All bare spots were filled and branches were trimmed to create a great shape. This tree was the best tree of all.


My blogging friend, Barbara, posted a Christmas meme and suggested that her readers do the same. Here is mine:

C-Christ Child
H-Holy Night
R- Resting quietly
I- Inner peace
S- Star over Bethlehem
T- Thankful
M- Mary, Mother of Jesus
A- Advent Prayers
S- Star of David

This is not a "tag" but perhaps you would also like to consider how you might fill in the letters of CHRISTMAS.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I was excited to see that one of my blogging friends, Linda, of My Own Velvet Room, has reviewed my book, Growing Up in the Texas Panhandle on her blog. Here's an excerpt:

"I know that this book will be a treasure to Pat's family in the years to come, but as one with no connection to Pat's family, I can say with surety that this is also a wonderful read for anyone with an interest in reading lifestories."

It is wonderful to hear that Linda has read my book and loved it! Thank you so much for your review, Linda.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


This is my Christmas rant. First a friend went to buy Christmas stamps--the ones with the Botticelli Madonna and Child on them. The Post Office said they were out of those but could give her Hanukkah instead. Sorry, but that is not our tradition! She could also buy the Muslim stamp but she wanted the Christmas stamp with the Madonna and Child on it for her Christmas cards. The second postal station was out and so was the third one! They each had plenty of Hanukkah stamps and a Christmas toy stamp, but she wanted the Madonna and Child. She visited the main post office but did not find them there. She returned to our local postal station and they had gotten in 11 sheets of stamps only. She bought them all. Seems like others are also looking for the same stamp! I don't even know how to start my own search for the same stamps.

Next, I came across a site where I could get a Christmas decor for my blog and I found that they had 717 pages of pictures--each page had 12 pictures that I could choose to insert on my blog. The first few pages were cutesy bears with Santa hats, snowy scenes, Christmas trees, holly, and so on. I looked through 109 pages seeking one with a religious theme. I found three: one had a nativity with Santa kneeling in front and the other two were the same with different wording--a silhouette of the Holy Family traveling against a sunset background. I was not impressed! The thing that distressed me the most was the increasingly sexual aspect of the pictures with almost-nude males and females dressed in Santa hats and scarves that left little to the imagination or signs that said, "I want......for Christmas."

Next, I went to find Christmas paper for our Christmas newsletter. Once again I could not find ANYTHING with a religious theme at our local office supply chain stores. My next stop in that search will be one of the religious goods stores--if I can find one that has not gone out of business this year.

My thought after those experiences was: What has happened to the REAL meaning of Christmas? I began praying the prayers of Advent this past Sunday and will continue saying those prayers and meditating on the scriptural meaning of this season each day until Christmas. Why is it so hard to find support for the religious meaning of Christmas out there in the world? What has our culture done to the real meaning of Christmas?