Christmas Memories from 1960

christmas cookies

For unknown reasons, I was flooded with Christmas memories yesterday afternoon. It started out with a sudden strong desire for one perfect cut-out Christmas cookie, and then all sorts of memories of childhood Christmases overwhelmed me.

When I was little, we always drove from Iowa to our grandparents homes in Kansas City to celebrate the holidays. My mom and my dad’s parents lived one block apart, so my family would stay at different houses, and then visit one house and then the other on Christmas Day. But when we were very small we would all sleep at Grandma Carter’s house to experience the magic of Christmas morning together.

This is how I remember it:

‘Twas the night before Christmas and my brother John and I simply could not settle down. We were supposed to be sleeping in my Grandma Carter’s big double bed, but instead were literally bouncing off the walls, trying unsuccessfully to contain our excitement about the next morning’s promised bounty. We would talk for a while and then quietly get up and peek around the doorway to see if Santa had arrived while we weren’t looking.

christmas-tree-vintage

Grandma Carter’s house was an unusual place, the place where magic could be expected. Her Christmas tree wasn’t tall, but to our young eyes it was most amazing in its sparkling aluminum glory. She had an electric color wheel that lit it up, changing its color constantly!  We would sit for hours watching it slowly turn the tree from shades of blue to green to red to yellow and then back again.  At home we had plain old evergreen trees.

Normally when we visited my grandparents in Kansas City, my parents slept in the double bed in the bedroom, and we kids slept on the couch in the living room. But this was a special night, one where we were supposed to go to sleep early in grandma’s bedroom so Santa could do his work in private. My big brother John was six and I was five years old, just at the age where we were beginning to wonder about the whole Santa Claus thing. My brother was a whole year older, so he instructed me in the intricacies of how Christmas worked.

walking dollThis particular year I had been talking about wanting a walking doll for months. It was almost as tall as me and if you stood behind it, you could make her walk by pushing one and then the other leg forward. Of course, there were other small things I had mentioned, and there were always underwear and socks under the tree, but my heart burned for my own walking doll.

daisy-red-ryder-75th-anniversary-bb-gun-27My brother wanted a Davy Crockett hat and a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun (of “You’ll shoot your eye out” fame in The Christmas Story!) more than anything in the world.

Somehow, and I don’t remember how it happened, John and I finally succumbed to the excitement of the long day before Christmas and fell asleep. No visions of sugar plums occurred, but there were definitely dreams of all the toys we wanted most.

First thing in the morning, came the sound of brother John yelling in my ear, “Get up, it’s time to open presents!” and with that the whole household began to stir. We rushed out to the tree and there was my big beautiful walking doll, too big to be wrapped! She just stood there under the tree smiling at me. I ran over, caressed her, named her Sally on the spot, and began helping her walk her around the room.

christmas card of old santaAfter my parents got up, John started ripping into his gifts and, sure enough, he received everything he wanted. He ran around in his coonskin cap, pretending to aim his gun at each of us. Then we hugged each other in delight, moving around the tree in a childlike dance of ecstasy.  Many decades later, the magic of that particular Christmas still lives on in my heart. So many recollections from childhood are lost forever, but this magical time of bonding remains one of the fondest memories of my young life.

Advertisements

Fine arts in a small town: La Veta Colorado

Some might say they need to live in a city to have access to a vast variety of fine arts. I wish those people could have attended our Holiday Arts Fiesta in La Veta this year. Last night we visited five different galleries in this tiny town, boasting world-class pieces in so many mediums! Clients regularly come from around the world to see and buy pieces from here… Be it batik, oil, watercolor, quilting, weaving, sculpture, you name it, we have got it going on here!

IMGP6979

The Spanish Peaks Arts Council prides itself in promoting and encouraging educational events in the arts throughout the Spanish Peaks region. Their summer programs for kids are fantastic! Watercolorist Kathy W. Hill is often featured along with many new and emerging artists like my husband Mike. Kathy creates wonderful paintings to capture the beauty of this area! She also offers classes in the summer.

IMGP6978

Artists like Peggy Zehring offer experimental drawing and painting classes across the street at the La Veta School of the Arts, and Shalawalla is the home of unique and beautiful batiks, plus classes too.

Flying Horses Arthur

We are also home to noted Oglala Lakota artist Arthur Short Bull. His watercolors are stunningly stark and powerful.

Lady-of-Shalott- by Ricky Tims

And if your interests run towards art quilting, La Veta is home to one of the top quilters in the world, Ricky Tims. If you ever get a chance to see his work, do not miss it!

This is just the beginning when it comes to La Veta! We also have amazing music festivals like the annual Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival. When we first moved here we were amazed to attend a free presentation by Native American flutist Robert Mirabal at Francisco Fort, an adobe fort originally built in 1862.

train ride

Later that summer we took a narrow gauge train up to old La Veta Pass with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band…

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band at Fir

to hear them play in a pristine mountain setting… a fine time was had by all!

Eight Boomer Bloggers Share Their Thoughts!

IMGP6976

It’s been touch and go on whether I would get into the holiday spirit this year, what with over a months worth of health problems, but it finally hit this morning!

IMGP6991

Luckily Mike had already gone out to cut our honorary Christmas bush, put it in the stand, brought it inside and watered it. Man, that tree was thirsty! And speaking of the holidays, let’s see what our other Boomer bloggers have been up to this week!

What would the holiday be without Moms? One of our new columnists Jennifer Koshak says:  Mommyisms are things that only a Mother would say, but in this case, they are things that only my 98-year-old Mother could say.  Go visit UnfoldAndBegin.com to read the latest installment in Laugh With These 3 New Mommyisms. 

Lest we forget, the holidays are super tough for those who grieve, Carol Cassara over at A Healing Spirit reminds us of the writer Joan Didion’s moving take on grief in two memoirs she wrote after the deaths of her husband and daughter. Her writing on grief is some of the most lucid, moving and deep, worth reminding you of if you’ve read them, and worth reading if you haven’t yet.

60th birthday cake fireSpeaking of celebrations, another of our new members, Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond recently was asked: “What was your BEST birthday ever?” She immediately thought of her recent 60th birthday celebration, but then, after looking back over 60 years, she found that there were several others that might be rated as ‘the best’.  Find out why this best birthday question reminded Sue of the importance of reflection and gratitude.

sick in bedMeryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting spent the past few days close to home, actually at home, caregiver to her sick hub. She was healthy, but to avoid going stir crazy, she came up with a list of things to do while caring for a temporarily sick person who needs attention, but not 24/7 care. Go read her cute and funny list of fun suggestions: 10 Things To Do While Home With a Sick Spouse.

Rebecca Olkowski has been getting her steps in to stay in shape. She strolled the beautiful Napa wine country with her family during Thanksgiving. Then, she hiked up to the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles with her sister after they drove back. You go girl!

pretty purple Australian trees

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, offers us highlights from her recent vacation to Australia. Robison went to Sydney, where she lived in the late 1960s, to revisit the places she lived and worked. She and her sister, niece, and great nephew also visited Perth, a city Robison choose because it’s Australia’s only major city that she had not yet visited. In addition, she wanted to see Perth because it’s on Australia’s west coast like Seattle is on the west coast of the United States.

Tom Sightings is in a reflective mood this week, pondering What Makes Us Happy? He has done a little research, and has a few ideas of his own. Maybe you can chime in with a few insights of your own. Skip on over to Sightings Over Sixty.

Polar-Express-fbHope you are all enjoying the pre-holiday slump like I am! Time to get out those old music CDs. What are your favorites? We love Wind Machine, Portraits of Christmas from 1990(!) and Polar Express. As many of you know, watching the Polar Express is an annual ritual for us. Even though we almost have it memorized, we always find something new and different every time we watch. There is much more to this simple childhood tale than meets the eye. Genius at work here! Can you hear the bell?

COPD – The Silent Epidemic

COPD affects an estimated 30 million Americans, and over half of them have symptoms but do not know it…

So, why am I writing about something so depressing right after Thanksgiving? Because Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) killed over 150,000 Americans last year. It’s the third largest killer in our country after heart disease and cancer. Over 16 million of us have been diagnosed with this irreversible disease with no cure, and another 10-15 million will develop it without knowing it. Early screening can identify COPD before major loss of lung function occurs.

What are the risk factors and common causes of COPD?

Most cases of COPD are caused by inhaling pollutants including smoking (cigarettes, pipes, cigars, etc.), and second-hand smoke. Fumes, chemicals and dust found in many work environments are contributing factors for those who develop COPD.  Genetics can also play a role in the development of COPD—even if you have never smoked or been exposed to strong lung irritants in the workplace. Another major factor is simply the air we breathe.

“It is enough to be grateful for the next breath.” ~ Br. David Steindl-Rast

I learned that I have COPD last winter after noticing how much of a struggle it was to breathe properly at 7,000 feet elevation. I had had no symptoms living at 5,000 feet for decades. I never smoked cigarettes and exercised regularly, but I still had bronchitis many, many times in my life. Cat scans also found nodules in my lungs, which can be a precursor to a lung cancer. The good news? My increased awareness and monitoring of my lung problems.

Go watch this excellent piece that appeared on CBS Sunday Morning this week to learn more about how COPD can be helped in pulmonary rehabilitation centers. Unfortunately, COPD has a big image problem, one that is keeping it from receiving needed government funding for research.

As you might guess, I have learned so much about this common killer, one that will only get more common as air quality declines. The first thing I learned is something that Senior Contributor Ted Koppel’s wife, Grace Anne Dorney Koppel also talks about in the above CBS piece. COPD can be seen as a “it’s your own damn fault” disease.

lung association

So now, when I tell others that I have COPD and they invariably ask me, “Did you smoke?” I respond with, “No, but I did breathe!”

To quote Grace Koppel, “Disease is blame free.”

 

A New Sunrise in Southern Colorado! So much to be grateful for…

IMGP6928

The clouds and sun had a special surprise for us this morning. Today we saw the brightest yellows and oranges at sunrise that I have seen so far! The sky was bursting with bright colors…

IMGP6930

.. begging us to come outside to enjoy everything it had to offer us on this glorious new day!

IMGP6935The Wahatoyas or Spanish Peaks were lit up like only nature can achieve, and we knew we had moved to the right place…

Feeling Daily Gratitude Changes Everything!

IMGP6912

Observing the Sangre de Cristos from our new home

I wonder what percent of Americans ever stop and think about their lives on Thankgiving, or as far as that goes, any day. What a crazy, busy group we are! I’m retired so I have more time for contemplation and meditation, but I have also found a way to improve every aspect of my life. It may sound too simple to really work, but it truly does, and it only takes five minutes a day!

Go here and stop, look and listen…

At first it may feel silly or even uncomfortable, but give it some time. At first you may feel too busy or distracted, but keep trying to let go, breathe and take these few words into your heart and mind. No, I am not selling you anything, I’m trying to help you appreciate and enjoy your life more completely.

I started watching this video everyday about ten years ago. I now have it almost memorized, and yet I still need those five minutes of guided meditation to remember exactly how wonderful my life is. And the best part is my life has gotten so much better with this simple gratitude practice! Appreciation of all the amazing people, pets, your surroundings, and your life leads naturally to improving your life.

Trust in the universe leads to ever better quality of life for you and your family.

grateful living

“It is enough to be grateful for the next breath.” ~ Br. David Steindl-Rast

I wish you all a glorious THANKSGIVING! Let’s give thanks for so many amazing blessings!

A message from Gratitude.org: “On Thanksgiving, I pledge to overcome the illusion of ENTITLEMENT by reminding myself that everything is a gift and, thus, to live GRATEFULLY.”