Editor’s Note: Nevada Appeal readers again share their Christmas memories.
Ornaments keep memory of mom alive
Christmas was my mother Gloria’s favorite holiday. Lights, decorations, trimming the tree, the handmade manger scene, homemade fudge, and food, plenty of food to feed her family and friends.
Gloria, a resident of Gardnerville, passed away under hospice care in the Carson Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in November 2008 from Alzheimer’s (miss you, mom).
After her passing, family members went through her belongings and took objects that they wanted to keep in remembrance of all the good times spent with her. One thing nobody seemed interested in were the numerous one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments she had collected over the years, ornaments which had always adorned our tree during the holidays, some dating back to the 1950s.
Wanting to share Gloria’s collection of Christmas ornaments, and give them a good home, I devised a plan that to this day has worked wonders for me and my friends.
I composed a tribute card, dedicating the ornaments in memory of Gloria, attached the card to each ornament, and picked up some small holiday gift boxes at the craft store. Then I individually wrapped each one.
During the Christmas of 2009, I gave the wrapped ornaments to all my friends and family members who I knew would give Gloria’s ornaments a good home. To this day, every Christmas I receive pictures of the ornaments hanging prominently on my friends’ Christmas trees in memory of my mom.
The wonderful warm feeling of knowing that the memory of my mother lives on in the joy of my friends and family each year at Christmas is the best gift I receive each and every year. Merry Christmas, everyone, and always remember those you love, and those who love you most ... your mothers! Oh, and dads, too.
The Best Christmas ever
Christmas has always been spectacular at our house. Christmas was a labor of love for my mother, but for my father it was a little more labor than love. Although, after a short time he would warm up to the season. It was a long season too, beginning around the middle of October and wrapping up around the first of February.
The Haskins homestead would be transformed into an incredible Christmas destination for family and friends alike. Home furnishings were removed to the garage and storage shed to make room for all of the decorations. Each decoration it seems brought a memory with it. Not a single room was spared. Even the bathrooms shouted, “Christmas is here!” It became a Christmas museum of sorts.
The Christmas tree was always adorned to the hilt. My dad always picked the perfect tree, although as a small child I do remember the aluminum tree that changed colors via a color wheel which turned in front of a lamp! But that was the exception.
Inside and outside, the house got the treatment, but inside was special. Inside, mom was playing Christmas music, baking cookies and making fudge! No wonder my friends always wanted to hang out at our house.
This will be my 62nd Christmas. I don’t remember much about the first few, but I’ll bet they were spectacular too. I can recall some of the favorite gifts that I received from my parents. One year it was a new bicycle and another year it was a leather basketball like the NBA players used.
Church has always been a big part of our lives. The Christmas story was never neglected. Christmas programs and plays at church and school always brought the story into our hearts anew.
So, what was my best Christmas ever? How can I select one? Each Christmas seems better than the last. Therefore, I am declaring that this Christmas will be the best Christmas ever!
Christmas Day will begin early for our family this year. We’ll begin with Christmas Day services at church and celebrate our Lord’s birth, the reason for the season. We’ll surround ourselves with family and friends. We’ll sing together and pray together. We’ll enjoy good food and fellowship. We’ll give and receive gifts. We’ll reach out to family and friends who are out of the area to wish them a Merry Christmas.
Cathy and I will thank God that we can share wonderful Christmas memories with my parents. They’re still getting along as well as can be expected. They’re not spring chickens anymore, but they still cling to one another and hold each other up ... and they’ve been doing that now for almost 66 years!
I know it will be the best Christmas ever, because at 4:30 p.m. our daughter Veronica and our son-in-law Chris will arrive with our very special Christmas present — Arianna, who for the first five years of her life found her favorite place for a nap was on Grandpa’s belly! And we get to squeeze that “peanut” for five glorious days! Definitely, this will be the best Christmas ever. Definitely! Have a Merry Christmas!
A Christmas story of great friendship
A dear friend of mine, Jim Gill, went through a divorce and had his son visit him on occasion through a child custody arrangement. I too had my son come live with me for two to three weeks a year. This one year we were going to have our children come visit us over the Christmas holidays. Gill and I planned to cut our own Christmas tree and set it up just for our two kids.
I got a call from my ex wife saying my son, Scott, could not come up to Nevada for the Christmas vacation. We would not be together over the holidays. Saddened by the announcement, I chose to keep it to myself and not dampen the occasion for Jim and his son.
Jim and I went to cut a tree in the Pine Nut hills southeast of Carson City. Jim had a four-wheel-drive pickup and could get deep into the best looking Christmas trees on the sunny side slopes of the Pine Nuts.
We got out and grabbed out axes, ready to cut the best looking tree for Jim and his son. Off we trudged in fresh snow up to our knees going uphill for about a half a mile. Jim spotted a chin-high full-skirted silver tip spruce tree and asked if it would do for me and my son as a good Christmas tree. Caught in my own consideration for Jim, I was forced to sadly relay to Jim that my son was not going to be with me for Christmas this year.
To this news, Jim related to me that his son was not going to be with him either for the holidays. So here we were, knee-deep in subfreezing snow, both looking at each other in complete shock realizing what we had come to do for each other. Jim’s mouth, still open, started to laugh. I too started to laugh and tears came as we turned to each other and fell into each other’s arms laughing hysterically.
Footprints in the snow
It was Christmas Eve morning 2015. I woke up to an ever so beautiful white world. Holy smoke, I thought, it’s a white Christmas right on cue.
Swirling snowflakes filled the air. Some four inches deep already with more piling on. It covered the ground, roofs and cars. The world seemed to be made of soft, pure and peaceful snow.
A silent white on white world had suddenly come into being. No cars on the road. No footsteps in the snow. The pine tree branches bowed down with long white fingers glistening.
Scientists can explain to you in detail how frozen water molecules cling together to form the structure of a snowflake. They can tell you the how and wherefore of its composition. But they can’t tell you why it is so very pretty. They cannot explain the wondrous beauty of a mountain covered in snow.
Mother Nature certainly surprised me with her dramatic Christmas show. It makes me think she may be a living, breathing, moody lady after all with a few surprises up her sleeve. Also, perhaps, a sense of humor, timing and a fondness for the dramatic.
Later all the people I ran across were of good cheer. They seemed to be taken by the timely surprise change of weather. It was like a magic gift for the kids. It seemed to heighten their dreams, fantasies and joys. You could see the wonder in their eyes and their bright smiling faces.
All the familiar landscapes were changed. They were covered over by a bright white, soft blanket. The street and neighborhood had a very pleasant dreamlike quality.
You can get so used to the humdrum world of mediocrity. Then something like this comes along. What can you say but wow! There really is beauty, magic and splendor in the world. You have actually seen and experienced it firsthand. You don’t have to watch TV or movies to see the spectacular. It’s right outside your window.
After a while I helped my neighbor walk safely from her apartment. She is in her eighties. But she was like a child again as we drove through the snow on our way to lunch. She sang Christmas songs as she drank in the beauty of it all.
I should have taken pictures. But of course I did — in my mind. I can reel them all back and enjoy them once again when I wish. When the world seems a dull grey monotony I can say I caught a glimpse of Mother Nature at her finest.
In the countryside of Ireland, I remember snow in my childhood. I can vividly recall building snowmen. Also having snowball fights with my classmates in those long ago days. Then there were years and years of no snow in winters spent in Southern California and later Hawaii. What a joy to experience it all fresh and new once again.
All I have to say in conclusion is:
“May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white”
In mid October, I had to replace a water cooler cover at Carson Home Depot and invited a neighbor who needed something at Office Depot so she went with me.
Even though it was rather warm, the wind was blowing like crazy but I opened the car windows halfway to cool it off for us and my two doggies.
On the way home, we stopped at Dayton’s Smith’s store. When we got back in the car, the wind was blowing even harder.
I said, “I was going to close the windows to keep that blowing dust out.” When I tried to shut her passenger-side window, the control on the driver side would not work so I asked her to push the button on the passenger side. That didn’t work either, which did not thrill me since we expected some rain and I figured my car interior would get drenched.
I, quickly said, “Jesus, I need some help!”
We headed toward Stagecoach. I stopped to drop her off at home and noticed, when I looked in her direction, her window was open only an inch or so. I asked if she had shut it. She said no.
I looked up and said, “Jesus, thank you!”
When I got home a block around the corner, it dawned on me that neither of us even heard the window close nor did we even notice we did not have to deal with wind-blown dust in the car!
I opened the window again, then closed it!
That was no accident!
I thanked Jesus again!
Happy birthday, Jesus
Each and every December
There’s a special birthday to remember
We know it’s time for Christmas
When everywhere we go
We see bright lights and Christmas trees
And faces all aglow
But these are mere reflections
Of why we celebrate this day
A story is told of long ago
This is what they say
Our Heavenly Father sent His only Son
To Earth to be born
In a lowly stable,
So lonely and forlorn
No church bells rung
Or carolers did sing
To proclaim and announce
The birth of the King
A star shone bright that Holy Night
Guiding shepherds to the site
Where the holy Christ child
Was to be born that day
Where he was wrapped in swaddling cloths
Then laid upon a bed of hay
For when Mary and Joseph came to Bethlehem
“No room for you in the Inn,” was said
No kingly palace or lovely place
For this King to lay His head
Heavenly hosts praised God saying:
“Glory to God in the highest, on Earth
Peace and goodwill toward men”
The shepherds who followed the star praised God
For what they had heard and seen
As it was told to them
This King — that was born to die
That our sins would be forgiven
So that we too would become his heirs
And secure a place with Him in Heaven
This is my Christmas prayer to you
Whatever you say or whatever you do
Thank your Heavenly Father up above
For sending us His only Son to love
That through our faith and trust in Him
His light in us will not go dim
So, as we gather together today
To celebrate this holy season
Let us not forget
That Jesus is the only reason
Take some time to stop and pray
Thank God for the gift of His Son today
Pelican Story: A Christmas poem
Once upon a time in a small Mexican city
There was no Christmas; such a pity.
There were no pine or fir for a Christmas tree.
Cactus and desert were all you could see.
Santa covered the earth from high in the air,
But he had no Christmas tree to guide him there.
With lights on a cactus, the people tried to fake it.
Despite good intentions, it just didn’t make it.
So Santa never came by to deliver his toys
Making for sad little girls and boys.
But this town got a really big boost
When a flock of pelicans came to roost.
With their long beaks and double chins
Certainly no way a pelican grins.
Skimming over waves in formation, such a sight.
But up close, pelicans look incapable of flight.
One pelican in particular stood out in the flock,
It was Sam the pelican, the one who could talk.
The children went to Sam their friend,
“Santa never stops here: this has to end.
Help us, help us” they begged of Sam.
“But I’m a wave skimming bird, that’s all I am.”
“Go high in the sky and direct Santa here.”
When Sam agreed, the kids gave a cheer.
But Sam’s a pelican who doesn’t fly high.
Only giant frigate birds master the sky.
Frigates fly on thermals to get up there,
Higher than all others, even on a dare.
The frigates all laughed when he went to their caves.
“You won’t get that high, you’re stuck to the waves.
He can’t fly that high, the hell he can.”
But they didn’t reckon on Sam the Pelican.
“But I’ve studied your methods and I’ll get by,
I’ve practiced and practiced, it’s time for a try.”
So on December 24th at dawn’s first light
He set out on this important flight.
He found a good thermal on which to ride,
Along with the frigates who laughed at his side.
He kept his wings rigid, didn’t flap them at all
He rose above the frigates — was having a ball.
Higher and higher, I swear it’s true
So far up, into space he flew.
Soaring by space craft, astronauts had a fright,
But he kept on flying — into the night.
Past the man in the moon, Mars and Orion,
Boy, this pelican was really flying.
Having never flown so high, he started a spin,
A pelican at play, he broke into a grin.
He went faster and faster, spinning and spinning
All the while, grinning and grinning.
In a puff of smoke reindeer and a sleigh appeared
With that jolly fat man and his flowing beard.
The reindeer, sleigh and Santa were on his right,
Santa yelled: “What brings you out tonight?
I’ve finished my route, it’s time to go in.
While flying home, I noticed your grin.”
Sam told Santa there’s no Christmas in town,
And Santa looked — looked right down.
He saw the world full of Christmas cheer,
Everywhere, everywhere but here.
“Quickly take me there to make it right,
I’ll use your grin for my guiding light.”
So Sam checked his bearings, so the story goes,
His grin showed the way, not Rudolph’s nose.
As he went straight down, he began to wail.
Sam the Pelican with Santa on his tail.
They came into town faster than the wind,
All because that pelican grinned.
They made it in time, the kids were ecstatic,
Now Santa comes every year, it’s automatic.
Your misery in reading this will soon be gone,
Only four more couplets, so please read on.
Heed the moral of this story if you want to win,
Imagine what you can do with a grin.
Look to the skies till your head starts spinning,
Look up and see if that Pelican’s grinning.
And if he is, it’s positive and good,
Christmas will arrive, just like it should.
And lights on cactus aren’t really so odd,
Remember the spirit — Feliz Navidad.
The night before Christmas on the Comstock
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when down in the mines,
The men heard the whistles that signaled the time.
From the bowels of the earth, they were pulled to the top,
Up out of the shaft, then they came to a stop.
From the Chollar and Yellowjacket they came,
From the Savage and Belcher, and some with no name.
With lanterns in hand and dirt on their faces,
They started their hike to their favorite places.
The frozen snow sang as they walked or they rode,
Up the hill to the bars of the old Comstock Lode.
Some went to the Delta or the Boston for action,
Others went to the Bucket for their satisfaction.
Saloons and bars were their gathering places,
When drinking and gambling and hoping for aces.
Some men ordered whiskey, some ordered wine,
Cold beer was a favorite — soon all men felt fine.
The big shots showed up and bought a few rounds,
While girls of the evening came out on the town.
Miner John Mackay and Senator Bill Sharon
Joined up with a party of rich silver barons.
They all drank a Christmas toast to their successes,
And bragged to each other of their many excesses.
At midnight, the whistle of the Lyon heard clear,
Across the Divide announced Christmas was here.
The bells of Saint Mary and Saint Paul soon did ring,
Calling the town’s faithful to worship their King.
The miners raised glasses to toast and to cheer,
And remember the fellows who were no longer here.
In the east the clouds parted to reveal a star bright,
The men went out to see in the cold winter night.
And when they returned, they raised up a cheer,
“Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year.”
My favorite clown
Douglas is my second adopted son. He was proof positive that children learn many things from their siblings. One of the first things he did that confirmed that belief for me was walking.
His brother Gregory worked hard and often steadfastly to learn to walk; Douglas watched. Gregory mastered that skill at about 13 months old. Douglas did mimic everything Gregory would do. I suspect he saw walking as a valuable skill.
When Douglas was 9 months old I watched him crawl out of the kitchen and into the dining room. Approximately 2 minutes later, he walked out into the kitchen and said, “See, Ma, I can walk.” I was totally flabbergasted! Very soon, he mastered “run” and often I tell him, “You only walked for a day and have been running ever since.” He always says, “That’s true.”
During his first year in school, he loved kindergarten and talked very fast about all the things happening every day. Before Christmas vacation, Douglas told me he was making me a present at school. He told me I would love it and, I do. I bring it out every Christmas; it’s a tradition for me.
On the last day of school he came home with a rather large bag that was stuffed with tissue. He announced, “Your present is in that bag, Mom. But you cannot open it until Christmas.” I agreed and asked if he had any hints about it he would share. He said it had something very precious inside it. Wow! My curiosity was certainly piqued!
The day to open presents arrived. It was Christmas Eve. Douglas presented a very entertaining commentary about his gift and told me to be careful opening this present.
The clown, my favorite clown, was made out of plastic milk jug, with a hole cut into the back of it. The jug was dressed in a clown outfit with a plastic doll’s head with a lot of hair on it. (Douglas had lots of hair that people commented on very often. He said he picked the head with the most hair so I would know he made it for me).
He was so excited for me to look into the hole in the back of clown. In it was a little box with a panda on it. As I opened the box, he said, “Be very careful, Ma, so you don’t drop it.” I remember just how excited and curious I was.
Inside the little box was a piece of cotton and on it was a straight pin and a dime. Douglas immediately asked, “Do you know what it is, Mom?” He then asked me to look closely. He then announced proudly, “It’s a dime-and-pin!”
Christmas with family
Several years ago, when my children were young, we lived in Harbour Heights, Fla. My brother lived in Tampa and he, my two children and I decided to go to West Virginia to spend Christmas with our mom and our two sisters and children.
We drove straight through and it was the first time, in our adult lives, we had all spent Christmas together.
We had a wonderful time which we’ll never forget.
Family, not things, warms Christmas
My brother Tom and I were born and raised in Smith Valley, farm country, USA. We were poor but my parents always saw that we had a decent Christmas.
They went to the pine forest in Sweetwater Hills to get a tree. The tree was beautifully decorated and had few gifts underneath.
We sat down to Christmas dinner, usually turkey with all the trimmings. My mother was a fine cook, so we had other goodies!
I will always remember the Christmas my brother got a pair of gloves and a toy John Deere tractor. I received a doll and a pair of gloves, which I wore until it had holes.
We were very thankful for these gifts. One can be happy and thankful with what they receive even if they are not luxury gifts — being with family on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas!
Thru Prison Bars
On my nightly rounds as a state prison guard,
I observed the same old sights
In the closing matters of an unruly day,
From bunk-check to turning out lights;
And throughout each night there routinely occurred
A mass of other things —
Still the same, like the shouts of fellow guards
At mutinous murmurings —
But a thing that intrigued me somewhat was the sight
Of two men looking out from their bars —
One of them always looked down at the mud,
While the other up at the stars!
I wondered why, that night after night,
They seemed gripped in such a spell
That both stared in different directions
From the windows of their cell ...
They’d stand in their places for hours on end —
And each time I’d go by,
The one looking down would never look up,
While the other just gazed at the sky —
‘Till finally one day I went to their files,
And found what I wanted to know —
A background on each revealed the truth
As to why they acted so!
The dismal man looking down at the mud,
It was his first time in,
When so quickly (in his own mind) his whole world
Had crumbled right under him;
He wasn’t to be confined so long,
And soon would be up for parole,
But somehow his outlook was still affixed
On that slimy old mud hole!
Now the man with the constant upward look
Had committed terrible crimes
A criminal to the highest degree
An offender many times —
But it showed there was something left in him
A spark enough of hope,
That told him to hang in, look up,
And never look down and mope!
The cause of distinction between the two,
I came to understand —
That the one with the heavy criminal past
Held a crucifix in his hand ...
While his buddy only a cell away,
And freedom just ahead,
Had an empty heart as well as hands
With that downcast look of dread ...
It would be worth noting just what it takes
To raise the sights of man —
He must surely come to know the truth —
That he’s part of a Master Plan!
Let this be a rule in your life, my friend,
That no matter who you are,
Your eye can be caught by the grayness of mud,
Or the brilliance of a star —
It’s up to you and everything hinges
On where you fix your eyes —
Either on the grimy ground at your feet,
Or the glory of the skies;
There’s one more vital thing to cite,
And it’s something you must do —
Just carry a crucifix in your heart,
If you can’t carry one on you!
A Penitent Plea: How long has it been?
How long has it been that I’ve plucked a leaf from a tree with the personal feeling that I’ve rent a bit of flesh from the body of your universal being?
How long has it been that I’ve gazed at the moon and considered the gap no longer existing between its silvery presence and this good old earth?
How long has it been that I’ve looked into the sun, and not being bothered by its near-blinding rays, have allowed it to draw me magnificently in?
Has it been that long that I’ve heard fine music and really listened to it?
Since I’ve had a hobby and not just a responsibility?
That I’ve been euphoric without having to take a drink or smoke a joint?
Since I’ve prayed, and not just spouted traditional words and phrases?
That I’ve danced simply for the sake of dancing?
That I’ve taken a long, unchartered walk and cheerfully greeted nature, and not just conformably jogged for physical health alone?
How long has it been since I’ve made love and not just sex?
Since I’ve been thrilled by the spectacle of an ornament-laden Christmas tree with the reminder that Santa Claus isn’t the only one represented there?
Since I’ve looked up at the stars and just wondered?
How long has it been since I’ve recalled, dear God, that You are everywhere?
Oh, Father, forgive me for not even remembering — how long it has been!
Susan F. Cornell