“And so this is Christmas… I hope you have fun… The near and the dear one …The old and the young… A very merry Christmas And a happy New Year …Let’s hope it’s a good one Without any fear “

Small town Christmas

The words of this song are playing in my mind as I recount for you the joyful past few weeks heading up to Christmas and I thought I would share with you. Last night we were at the “German festival” in Tomball, a small suburb of Houston, and it warmed my heart to be elbow to elbow with people in the crowds walking past booths with hand carved ornaments, with the smell of warm buttered popcorn and sausage on a stick in the air.

It felt just like the good old days, children in their red and green festive Christmas outfits, Santa with little ones on his knee, and people smiling and buying gifts for their loved ones.

The first time we went to the German fair years ago was because of M. James who was in the German club at school, and was planning to go to Poland, so we went to get a taste of the German culture. Brad’s family being German is also interesting to me.

The German fair was proceeded by a sip and stroll a week earlier in Tomball and during that event I was able to purchase a lovely Our lady of Guadalupe glass ornament to send to my mom at the “my front porch” store, a great store. I also found some delish pecan turtle cheesecake from eats and sweets, a log cabin restaurant that is new and has a great menu.

I found a few hand crocheted quilts made by a lovely German lady and one of them had big multi colored roses on it that Steph and I both loved. The lady had in the front of her booth, a box of “used” but delightful stuffed animals that children could buy for just a dollar or two because she said “children always bring their money and need to be able to purchase something fun” with their savings.

I thought it was really living the Christmas spirit that she did this. Steph now has this lovely quilt to take home with her that I bought from this lady to remember this wonderful Christmas here in Texas. We also got “in the spirit” by shopping for a Christmas tree…Texas Style…lol.

To go with our Christmas story of the Nutcracker … I also got to buy a ballerina doll from the German lady I know who lives a few blocks away in our neighborhood to illustrate the dancers in the story. I love the doll and I love the lady who sold us the doll as she is really reminiscent of the good old days in her prim, vintage style dresses, fitted at the waist with an apron, with her hair in a really truly beehive.

She has invited us in the past to come bring Eevie to see her dolls at her home and when she had a garage sale, we bought a wooden hand made doll house from her that is just precious and is in my kitchen on the floor for the children to play with…. all hand made. In my home, the kitchen is where we all end up congregating, having tea parties and baking cookies!

I love in my home, like this vintage style home in Tomball, the kitchen is the center of the action.

This same German lady from my neighborhood also gave Eevie a doll that laughs and has a hand knitted red sweater and red booties which Eevie loves. This year when I went to purchase the ballerina doll from her, she came up to me and told me that I have a beautiful face. She did not stop there, she went on to say my face glowed and that I look lovely all the time, even when she sees me working out or jogging.

She told me that not many people have a face as beautiful as mine and I have to say, thinking about her comments, that most of the time, when I am trying to work out and lose weight and am taking care of little ones, it is nice to know that people still see me and appreciate me even when I am all scuzzy. lol. It really touched me that she took the time to tell me those kind words…and I think she is also beautiful, not just in her words but in her kindness and generosity. I am so happy she is my neighbor because the world needs more people like her…people who are happy, who see the good, and who take the time to express it.

And I am grateful that Spirit is contagious, because people at the German fair were again caring about people, and not afraid, and it was very good.

As I waited in line to get my lemonade and polish sausage, I had my own chance to be kind because I noticed that the girl serving people was not dressed warmly for the cold weather and was shivering very obviously. When it was my turn to be served I asked her if there was anything I could do to help warm her and she told me that she wished her coffee was hot.

I was happy to go find a place that was serving a coffee and returned a steaming cup of hot vanilla coffee to her booth and the smile on her face was such a reward. She was petite and thin and reminded me of the little match girl, and reminded me of how grateful I am to be able to help someone who was cold, or who needed something, so that “the story” these days, can have a better ending than the story of the little match girl. The Christmas spirit was so evident and all encompassing that it touched us all and that makes me happy!

Also at the fair, Avy and Cali were delighted to carry around not only their stuffies, but also the lighted balloons that I found and bought for them, and the glittering lights and clear balloons gave a magical feel to the night. We watched the man with the stilts do acrobats and listened to edelweiss being sung by a man with a yodel…incredibly beautiful and made me think of mom, the sound of music, and our family growing up because our family took us to Raleigh when the movie came out to see it. That is when I learned that Edelweiss is one of my mom’s favorite songs.

The fudge and turtle brittle we bought at the fair, was part of desert tonight at our dinner table tonight, as Sunday dinner at “Lissy and B’s house” this Sunday was “chicken Maria’s way”, a mandarin orange salad and sparkling grape drink. That brittle, so buttery, oh my!

All the cousins were delighted to see each other, as they walked in my doors, screaming excitedly and giving each other hugs, to then run and play with the lighted Christmas houses and “snow” set up on the floor, and slide about on the hardwood, the same way we used to do as kids.

We had our Christmas music playing (on the TV even, thank you YouTube) and Avy was telling me that she liked reading the tags on the presents under our sparkling tree and seeing who the presents were for. She is so precious! I have had SO MUCH FUN buying gifts for all the kids this year who will be sharing Christmas at our home and watching them ride carnival rides and playing games with them. Having them close is a priceless gift I have been given, and I will treasure these memories.

Christmas also is a time where we reach out to our friends and my friend Kristi stopped by a few days ago to have coffee and to tell me of a beautiful musical horse and cart that played Christmas music at an estate sale. We were able to go together(she drove me over there) and it was still there… so it is now set up on my table and the horses going up and down is enchanting for the children to watch and listen to. (I am thinking that maybe my sweet daughter is also planning a musical toy gift for me and I may just HAVE to open it early). The kids are also enchanted that I also bought gold plated goblets at that estate sale, and Avy wanted to know if I “sold just one cup” would I get enough money to “buy a house”. I WISH! lol These cups just sparkled at our thanksgiving table and at our Sunday dinners.

The vintage kid gloves I also bought there at the estate sale, were part of our white elephant gift exchange, and four year old Damon got them, as well as a red felt hat with purple feathers. He was a good sport, and put them on for us so we could all laugh. I still have the gloves and they are leather and so soft, if anyone wants them ( I already have some gifted to me from Brad from Breckenridge Colorado at a leather glove store) and I hate for them to just sit and not be worn. I think kid gloves like how mom wore, are so incredibly elegant and look so lovely on ladies.
But back to houses, and speaking of houses, Devlin and Steph have loved getting the feel of small town America, staying in their little cottage in Tomball. Devlin has enjoyed this experience of living in Texas in a small towns outside of Austin and now Houston, and Steph and I, as we do our walk several times a week around Tomball, just delight in all the charming homes with their one car garage, white picket fences and holiday cheer and ornaments.

I am getting to visit many new restaurants and stores in the area and Tomball is my new favorite place. Families are everywhere here…dads with their ball caps and trucks, moms with their wagons and strollers, and children with their balls and puppies out in the yard. It makes me so happy to see people being good to each other, not afraid, and helping each other out.

Even the signs are kind and I expressed appreciation to a store owner for her sign that said “our store is small so please consider the number of people occupying our store before you choose to bring in your stroller”…instead of a glaring sign saying “no strollers”. Some of us, myself included, NEED the stroller to corral a busy little two or three year old and to help keep them from touching things or wandering off so I really appreciated that sign.

I also appreciate recipes and game ideas from my sisters and other family, since I have been hosting Sunday dinner at my home for several weeks. My idea for desert came from Steph Brown, when she suggested using a rolling pin to put candy canes in a bag and let the kids “wack” the rolling pin and crush the candy canes to put on top of ice cream.

We did not “wack” anything this time and we will next dinner, but I did think her idea was festive and fun and I did get the candy canes but instead got the giant marsh-mellows and melted chocolate and dipped the end of the marsh-mellows in chocolate and then in sprinkles and then stuck a candy cane in the marsh-mellow. These candy cane marsh-mellows were then the “Stir” for our gourmet “hot chocolate” that the other Steph brought to my home, and it was a real hit for the kids they LOVED it for desert.

I have been reading all of the cousins The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers and the art in the book is amazing. It is helpful for them to understand the story as they watch my little nutcracker musical stage production that I bring out every Christmas and put in my kitchen. Eevie has loved it since she was an infant and now Damon and Avy and Cali Love it too.

I have also been reading the children from all my most favorite children's books while they are here visiting, because the books that were meaningful to me appear to be meaningful to them too. Moms “grandfather twilight” and “when the sun rose” have been requested by Jonathan, and I am so grateful for all the books mom has been sending over the years because all my children LOVE seeing them again and seeing their names in the cover, handwritten by mom. I just shipped Jonathan these two books and Heather is so excited to read them to Ellie. I was also grateful that Erik and Jacque made the trek here for thanksgiving with little Wyatt and were able to stay and participate in Calais birthday party the next day as well.

Balloon art and face painting were done by a really talented lady and we all enjoyed watching the kids play with their fancy balloons and eat yummy nothing Bundt cake.

All the new babies in our family this year makes it so exciting and each year Brad and I get a sterling silver ornament for any new baby for their first Christmas. This year we had to get NINE ornaments. JOY!! We are so thrilled for all the new parents and cannot wait to meet all the new babies in our family and share in their excitement.
We have also loved letting the puppies in our families get to be friends as well, and these are our observations about the dogs in our family right now here in Tomball…

“kazi” literally prances when he walks, “Dundee” puts on a smile on his face for Steph…(literally a smile..have never seen a dog smile lol), Jelly bean the baby dachshund is bonkers for Kendall but Ellie who is a real princess, and a long haired dachshund, likes me so much she LEAPS to get petted when I go to Kendall's house, Cooper loves everyone and as a shepherd dog, herds everyone, and his tail knocks things over when he is so excited, and last but not least, Reggie, also a dachshund, is very chill and sweet. Most of these dogs are Kendall and Daniel’s.
Also, this holiday season, speaking of Kendall, She and I have been comparing our “camellias” and Kendall's plants have literally BURST with flowers everywhere that are GORGEOUS, and mine have buds but are still pending lol. But both of us are working on our green thumb and enjoying getting plants (and our children) to grow.

I have helped Steph home-school for a few of her lessons and Cali and I have fun reading her sight words, when Avy is doing her lesson with Steph. I love that Steph says the pledge of allegiance and then does a bible lesson every day with her girls as well as singing hymns. She is doing so much good with her homeschooling of them and I am grateful to be a small part of her day. Her hard work shows and this lovely gentleman told Steph at La Madeline's that he loved watching her with her girls and said that she has a beautiful family. I agree. I love how Kendall has been able to work from home and spend time with Daniel and her children as well, and that she makes the effort to take them to church so they can learn about God.

I am so excited to hear how all of you are doing, and really am proud of each of you my sisters and other family members…Steph still taking care of her family in spite of a hurt arm, Tina learning how to manage having a boisterous Golden Doodle named Pistol while still working full time, Andy still working hard achieving great success as a businesswoman, Brad working hard to fix things around the house and keep up with work, and mom keeping up with politics, church, walking and writing us letters that are always so inspiring and interesting. I LOVE MY FAMILY.
This Christmas is the best. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

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