As you can see from this picture, the Schultheis grandchildren (plus niece Tori) had a visit from Santa while we were all gathered at Stephanie and Joe’s for dinner on the 23rd. This year we were glad to see that in the past year, Mrs. Claus (a.k.a. the “Deacon’s wife”……a.k.a. Anne Campbell) found some time from her Christmas cooking and baking chores (not!! ha, ha!!) in order to sew the rip in Santa’s pants that was discovered when he got up from his chair last year to head out the door for the North Pole (oh, and if Mrs. Claus can’t find her spool of red thread, she should contact the Baird house……….apparently it was left in Santa’s clothing and fell out onto the floor to be spotted by one of the grandchildren after Santa had made his departure ) LOL!!.
In addition to the Santa visit at Stephanie’s, the grandchildren were also treated to seeing Santa (Richard……was that you again???!) at Jennifer and Jim’s house the previous weekend for the annual Schultheis family Christmas party where a crowd of sixty “kids” ranging in age from one to sixty-nine gathered to catch up with one another and to remember Christmases past. We were all so grateful that Kim, Jared, Katie and Kelly, their spouses and Feller’s adorable grandchildren (in the above picture, Dylann and Lilly, are the first two on the left and in the picture on the right is their brother Nick ) joined us, for we know their hearts are sill grieving over their loss. I hope that being surrounded by family and the joy that always emanates when the Schultheis clan congregate will have brought them all some small measure of comfort.
That same weekend also brought the Clark siblings and their spouses together, along with Uncle Bill who drove over from Pittsburgh, for the 20th (or so) annual Gag Gift Christmas Party at Maria and Tommy’s. This year there was a general consensus that the “gag” gifts were more “gag” than gift. As I am sure many are aware, the way a gag gift (or White Elephant) exchange works, is that everyone is asked to bring an inexpensive, wrapped gift, there is a tally taken of the number of gift-bearing family in attendance, and then everyone is asked to choose a number from folded slips of paper equal to the number of gifts. This year a coin was tossed and it was determined that the holder of the highest number (some years this distinction goes to the holder of the lowest number) would have the privilege of becoming the last person to keep or trade, thus guaranteeing possession of the best of all the gifts. Obviously this is a much sought after honor and I was elated to find that……..miracle of all miracles……my slip of paper contained the highest number!! My excitement was quite short-lived, as about halfway through the gift selection process, I began to take stock of the gifts which had thus far been opened and I thought to myself………….just my luck…….I finally had the opportunity to have the last pick of all the gifts and, coincidentally, this was also the year everyone seemed to have actually abided by the rule of purchasing a truly “gag” gift!! I offer, as evidence, the picture of Bobby and Billy wearing their respective gifts!!!!
When my number was finally called out, there was one lonely, amateurishly wrapped (um…….Bobby???) gift sitting in the middle of the floor “adorned” in plain white paper with a flat bottom and an odd-shaped lump in the center!! As I tore the paper apart I was surprised to find a signed OSU football along with an Eddie George signed hat and poster. The hat and poster may eventually find their way into a grandson bedroom, but…………………………………I am keeping the football!! Now……………… if we all only had an OSU Bowl game to look forward to this week (twelve and 0 and no place to go!!!!)
As it seems I happen to have lots of pictures which illustrate better than my mere words the Clark/Schultheis events of the past two weeks, I will offer up a couple more. Last March, Natalie won a $1500.00 raffle at a fundraiser with which to purchase a hand-made performance dress. The dress she is wearing in the next picture is the result of much discussion and planning and was shipped from Manchester, England just in time for Christmas., as well as for her Irish dance competition in Pittsburgh this past weekend. You might also notice that in this picture we presumably have yet another Irish step-dancer waiting in the wings. Mayce has been imitating Natalie’s dance steps since shortly after she began walking and when Natalie tried on her dress on Christmas day, the other grandkids decided Mayce should not be left out. So they dressed Mayce up in Natalie’s old dance skirt & wig…………Mayce thinks she is now……….Mayce O’Baird.………LOL!!!!!
Saturday morning I woke up to four more inches of snow on the ground………..so far in the past several days, central Ohio has had more snow than all of last year combined………………………global warming where are you?????????? Oops, I forgot……………………Al Gore now calls it climate change!!!!! Oh dear, now I have unleashed the demon within me and I am not sure if I can bring it under control. Thoughts are flying wildly inside my head………….such as fiscal cliff, Obamacare, tax the “rich”, HHS mandate, Reid, Pelosi, Boehner, Obama (4 million dollar vacation/executive order to raise Biden’s and Congress’ salaries). Whew!…………..I think I heard Crick admonishing me to stifle and now I am breathing slowly……….. in and out…………………..there…………………I am becoming calm………………calmer………………………calmest :)
I do believe that little “p” rant is a result of “stifling” myself all throughout the holiday gatherings………..just couldn’t hold it in any longer!!! Now back to my “Fa-la-la-la” blog……………..as I was saying about waking up to the snow………….it presented a bit of an inconvenience as the Clark siblings were meeting cousins Jan, Ralph and Mary Fran (visiting from Oregon) at Bob Evans for breakfast and the driveway needed to be shoveled first. Crick must have been watching and feeling sorry for old “Mare” because before long, I was joined by not only Peter, my next door neighbor, but also Matt who lives two doors down. The job got done in half the time thanks to my heavenly sent “snow angels”. Fortunately, everyone made it to B.E. and, I am thinking that Katie (niece), who was working at the carry-out counter that morning must have tipped off the staff that her crazy family was coming as we were eventually seated in a remote section of the restaurant :)!!! Great thinking on their part because Billy brought along some props for this holiday picture which Tommy insisted not be posted to Facebook with his name tagged!!! LOL
Thank goodness for all of this activity which keeps me focused on the present moment and allows for me to enjoy the happiness and joy that accompanies the Christmas season. I gratefully accept all of these cheerful gatherings as blessings from a merciful God and I continually thank Crick for teaching me (trust me….. a few years ago it would have actually pained me to say this!!!) to “be glad I woke up and was able to put two feet on the floor”. By practicing to let go of many of the things that can not be changed and seeing that my glass really is half-full, I have truly been able to be at peace with my life. While I forever pictured Crick and me growing older and crankier (LOL) together, looking forward, together, as our grandchildren grew into young adulthood, watching proudly as their lives unfolded before us……………….and even as that vision has been shattered, and even as his absence feels at times so overwhelming………………………..still I draw comfort from remembering his always cheerful optimism and giving thanks, as he would, for all of the wonderful people who were brought into my life by the joining of our two lives together……………..our children/their spouses, grandchildren, siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents, friends. These relationships always, always, always strengthen me, comfort me and enable me to experience a little bit of heaven here on earth.
As the New Year approaches, my resolution is to continue to try to embrace Crick’s grateful attitude and to “keep my eye upon the doughnut and not upon the hole”.
A thankful attitude opens windows of heaven. Spiritual blessings fall freely onto you through those openings into eternity. Moreover, as you look up with a grateful heart, you get glimpses of Glory through those windows. You cannot yet live in heaven, but you can experience foretastes of your ultimate home. Such samples of heavenly fare revive your hope. Thankfulness opens you up to these experiences, which then provide further reasons to be grateful. Thus, your path becomes an upward spiral: ever-increasing in gladness.
Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love, which enables you to communicate intimately with Me. A thankful mind-set does not entail a denial of reality with its plethora of problems. Instead, it rejoices in Me, your Savior, in the midst of trials and tribulations. I am your refuge and strength, an ever-present and well-proved help in trouble. from Jesus Calling
God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress. Psalm 46:1
P.S. You must know me by now……….there usually is a postscript………..I simply couldn’t resist sharing just two more pictures………………………..these were just two of the many, many generous and thoughtful gifts that I received over the holidays. One was a canvas wall hanging created by Sophia and Sydney (with perhaps just a little help from Jessica!!) and the other was the latest book by GB given to me by my ever-forgiving employers………..Drs. Lori and Ira!!!