Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas on KJK Farms

This past Wednesday we finally got around to celebrating Christmas with my family on the farm.

 We ended the day with a few family pictures.

Dad's surprise gift this year was a KJK Farms fleece blanket (anti-static, pet hair resistant) for each of us. The surprise was definitely a highlight, as usual!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Zerger Christmas

Every year, my Grandma Lu's brothers and sisters get together for an amazing potluck and great fellowship. This year was Grandma's turn to host the gathering. It was a little bit smaller than usual, but that just meant more amazing food for me.

Highlights from the day included watching the little kids play, seeing Grandma with all six of her living siblings (there were nine who lived to adulthood - at least one or two from each family were there), visiting with Jody (who I'd never really talked to in person before, just via our blogs), watching Gracie, Jada, and Sidney sing (BRAVE girls!), and just spending time with my amazing extended family.

Christmas Eve

I have some catching up to do...

We spent the 23rd and 24th in Lyndon, celebrating with Jeff, Barb, Leah, and Justin.

We took Jazzy with us. She behaved better at their house than at ours... She kept trying to make friends with the cats, but they weren't having it. Maybe some other time.


We hung out, ran around town a little, ate, and opened presents.  It was a pretty low-key weekend.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

the lost art of thanks

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.” -Cicero

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mom has "stuffed" a package of thank you cards into our stockings, among a variety of other useful items. (hint, hint, mom.) Whether it's a not-so-subtle hint or something inexpensive to add, I'm not sure.

Either way, it's handy to have a stack in the desk drawer. And, it's a good reminder. (Here's your fair warning: I might rant in the coming paragraphs.)

Speaking of thanks, I've been wondering for the past year or so... Since when did writing a thank you for a gift become optional?

Maybe I'm old-fashioned in this respect. And maybe thank-yous are completely outdated or optional, in an age of texting and email and expected gifts.

But I think not.

At least, they shouldn't be.
I'll be the first to admit that I love receiving gifts. Yes, I know that "it's better to give than to receive," but if somebody is going to give, somebody else has to receive. Right? ;)

That said, I readily admit that no one has to give me anything. It's not a requirement for Christmas or my birthday or any other occasion. It's a choice they make, to purchase or make something for me; a choice that I'm very grateful for. And I think it's important to acknowledge their time and effort. I'd like to think they carefully chose for me, considering what I would most love. Or they took the time to read my "list." (Yes, I'm a big list-maker. Have you met me?!)

And since nobody has to give me anything, I want them to know that I appreciate when they do.

So I write a thank you. Practicing intentional thankfulness makes it an intuitive habit.

I don't remember ever being forced to write a thank you note. We just did it, though there were most likely years in my childhood that I just didn't.There were definitely years when I waited so I could combine Christmas and birthday thank yous.  I do remember, vaguely, being taught that it should begin with thanks for the specific gift, continue with a note about how you'll use it or something along those lines, possible add a personal note, and end with repeated thanks. I still use those guidelines to write thanks today. It's not hard.

I still don't understand, though, why it's not done. Is it that we expect gifts? That an invitation to Christmas or a life event or a birthday includes an unspoken understanding that gifts will be given and received and, therefore, there's no need to acknowledge it when the gifts are given and received?

Or is it that we think a verbal thanks is enough? Or we think it's a waste of time and paper and stamps to write and send them? Or we just don't think about it at all?

Regardless, I have to confess that I find it unacceptable. But since I can't change anyone else's behavior (unless my occasional rants have an effect), I will just keep writing my own thank you notes, ask Brad to the same, and someday, if we're so lucky, teach our kids how incredibly important it is.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kohlman Christmas

Yesterday was Kohlman Christmas.

After great food and lots of presents, the day ended with attempts to recreate a picture from 20-some years ago...

Pretty much the same thing, right?!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Yes, I know we're still a few days away. But I've gotta say it if I'm gonna post about all my Christmas decorations.

(I have to admit that I used to be a Scrooge... or is it Grinch? about "no Christmas before Thanksgiving." Not anymore. I don't know exactly why or how my perspective changed, but it did.)

I love, love, love decorating for Christmas. I started asking Brad if I could get things out on Halloween. He said no. Lots of times. He finally gave in a couple days before Thanksgiving.

I actually wasn't going to take many pictures of my decorations and tree this year. I asked myself, Who needs Christmas tree pictures every year?!  ...especially since the tree is the exact same kind as last year with the exact same ornaments.

But then, I was reading a few blogs. People were posting about their own Christmas decorations. And I read phrases like "my theme this year" and "blends perfectly with my home decor."


In my world, that's not what decorating for Christmas is about. There's no theme. Or, I guess, "Christmas" is the theme. Nothing blends perfectly; if it does, why put it out? Shouldn't a tree in your living room stand out a little bit?

In my world, decorating for Christmas is about a real tree, purchased on Black Friday and slightly crooked despite our best efforts, covered with colored LED lights and a random hodge-podge of ornaments from our childhoods.

In my world, decorating for Christmas is about pulling out Grandma Lu's Santas (for the first time this year) and mentally picturing where they were placed around her home.

yes, there's a Santa wall hanging on top of my kitchen cabinets.

In my world, decorating for Christmas is about arranging the Willow Tree nativity that was a wedding gift from my aunts and uncles and thinking of our families, scattered around the country.

In my world, decorating for Christmas is about unwrapping the nativity from my childhood pastor and his wife, and reminiscing about Christmas Eve programs at Grace Hill, from the angel costumes to the paper bags of peanuts and candy to the cookie reception.

In my world, decorating for Christmas is about the newly handmade nativity, smiling at how my dog chewed up the Holy Family's heads, which I'm sure I'll do for years. (Yes, those are teeth marks on baby Jesus. He was the only body casualty... the rest was just heads.)

In my world, decorating for Christmas is about setting out the Fontanini Nativity from Grandma Lu's, replaying the childhood days when I rearranged the set on the sunroom table.

In my world, decorating for Christmas is about setting the puzzle nativity, made by Grandma & Grandpa Klaassen's friend Harold, on the cabinet in the dining room that came from Grandpa's parents' house.

In my world, decorating for Christmas is about unwrapping the nativity that Grandma Donna chose to give me and putting it way up high, where the donkey can't lose the other ear.

In my world, decorating for Christmas is about finding the nativity that dad picked out for me the year he began the surprise present tradition.

In my world, decorating for Christmas means a random but completely put together collection of ornaments, nativities, and Santas. It means important memories and sappy sentimental stories. And I wouldn't have it any other way, even if my theme doesn't coordinate perfectly with the rest of my home.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Party time!

We are thankful to be part of a small group of "young adults" (defined loosely) through our church. Saturday evening we had our annual Christmas get-together - an appetizer supper and grab bag gift exchange.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nuns Having Fun

For three of my four college years I lived in the mods (four double and one single room that shared a bathroom and living room) with - more or less - the same group of girls.

When we first started talking about living together, somehow we christened ourselves "The Nunnery." I think it had something to do with the fact that we wanted to live in mod 2B, and there's that great "to be or not to be" Hamlet quote... and that play also includes the line "Get thee to a Nunnery!" Conveniently, none of us were dating at the time (though that didn't actually last).

Am I remembering that right?!

Living so close together for two or three years means you form bonds that are different than just about any other. One of the things we discussed before moving in (we talked a lot - still do when we're together) was that we wanted to be intentional. We were choosing to live in community, not just to live with each other in order to get a mod.

And we did. Quite well, I might add.

Sure, we didn't always get along. The bathroom wasn't always as clean as some of us (okay, ME) would have liked. But for three years we lived as our own little "family" of nuns.

We had photo shoots. We pulled pranks (some successful, some not). We studied. We laughed and cried together. We talked. We shared life. We prayed with and for each other. Every Sunday evening we spent time together. We celebrated milestones, big and little. We saw each other at our worst and at our best.

Yesterday (Saturday) a few of us had a chance to get together. It was amazing. These are most definitely the "kind" of friends that can go for months without talking and pick up as if we never left off. I am so grateful to have the chance to know these women, to have shared so much with them and to be able to look forward to sharing more with them in the future.

So, without further ado, some pictures I promised to share...

Kiley & Katy, deep in thought.


Mama Becca & baby Micah

Jill was super excited about the nursing cover...

Yes, I even change diapers.

Jill was also super excited about Micah.

Too cute.

little hands

Mir holding Micah

After almost four hours of eating and visiting we had to part ways, but not without plans to get together again - soon. And next time we need to get a picture of all of us together.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Don't Bite My Head Off...

I found this great idea on Pinterest, a simple nativity that needed only a few items. I immediately made a list of what I had to buy. Then, after two or three weeks of carrying the list around, I gathered the supplies.

The heads were the most difficult thing to find.The package said that these can be either doll heads or cabinet knobs. Gotta love versatility.

The craft paint colors weren't quite the same as the sticker on the bottles. Oh well.

I did a little bit of painting.

And then.....

Jazzy did a little bit of chewing. Only the heads. Oops.

Maybe a lot of chewing. I let her out this morning (she usually hangs out in the kitchen while I run in the basement.) I heard a few thunks while I was on the treadmill but thought it was her nylon bone. Nope. It was Mary and Joseph.

Fortunately, I usually buy extra. So tonight I painted some new heads and finished up these little nativities.

Then I put them way out of the dog's reach.