Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

Archive for the category “Christmas”

Memories Are The Best Gifts

Christmas Eve Christmas.am.j“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder

1-Christmas15.gChristmas Day, 1/2 The Celebration Showing in the Photo!

Christmas is a mystical and spiritual time. There is the mystery of gift giving still mixed in my mind and heart with my youth, my parents, Santa Claus, visiting his Summer Village with my dad. An event which caused me to believe in him until I was at least 10!

Christmas memories blogged about here:

“Mom’s Christmas Tradition” and “Dad’s Christmas Tradition”. Filled with such fun and adventure. A divorce cushioned with such positive memories of family  ~ difficult time made merry by their efforts.

My dad just loves to have fun. He remarked to me after this year’s extravaganza in my sister Suzy’s party room ~ how fun it was to watch the children and grandchildren  What intelligent, sharp people they are. How fun, how happy. Many years of love, many Christmases have contributed to that.

Our faith. Our churches. Our parents. Traditions. Dad and Uncle Dick’s free for all wrestling matches every Christmas Eve. The Merriment. The dedication to children. The laughter. The joy. Eyes twinkling. Bells jangling outside near the roof at dad’s house. The tremendous energy that went into creating occasions and memories for all the kids in our family.

I saw a movie this season. One of the characters told the father in the film something I found profound. “You cannot stop the bad things that happen to your children in life, but you can create good memories for your children.” And that is a Father’s gift to his family.

I believe that is true. And in believing that, I know our family is very rich indeed. Thank you Dad. It’s no wonder your birthday follows so closely after this sacred and mystical time of Christmas. This is a loving and giving time. This time when Earth received Jesus the greatest gift of all.

You are first and foremost a giver. I want to thank you today…12/29/2015 your 86th birthday for all the wonderful memories you created for me, the greatest gifts you have given me. Happy Birthday Dad!

Love you! Lib

Christmasparty.b

Open House Christmas Week with Son and Grandsons

Dad83

Signing off with a fave Christmas Photo of Dad and I

 

 

 

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Happy New Year!

New Years Eve Lunch

New Years Eve Lunch

A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I’ve played the friend, Have lived and loved and labored here, And made of it a happy year. ~ Edgar Guest

I have been busy online being a friend, wishing my online friends a Happy New Year and offline reflecting on the past year and planning for the year ahead.

I have not made any New Year’s resolutions, because this year they rather made themselves. I am turning  60 in 2013, and I had a bit of a crisis of the body and mind about my weight when I saw my blood pressure rising and the doctors having trouble keeping it under control. My internal medicine doctor suggested I join Weight Watchers for that reason as well as rising cholesterol readings, and aggravated arthritis.

I finally did, the week before Thanksgiving. I do not own a scale, not being fond of dealing with that particular reality. But I had been to the doctor’s office enough to know the general neighborhood I was creeping into! Let us just say that when I finally joined I was entering a neighborhood I would rather not live in at all!

I was glad I had made the decision at last. I am mentioning this in my New Year’s post because today was also the day of my Weight Watcher’s meeting and at noon today, I discovered that even though it was the holidays, I had lost a few ounces shy of 18 pounds!

Today is cause for celebration for me. Not just that I have lost weight, but that I know I can make changes in my life and habits that are significant and that I can be happy doing so. That alone, makes me positive and happy about greeting the New Year with anticipation and assurance that this year will be a better year. Filled with more accountability, discipline, good health and possibility than the last.

As for all the wonderful friends on and offline I Christmas’d with, sent and received cards from and greetings on Facebook and Twitter, exchanged many heartfelt love you’s and Happy New Year Eve and New Years over the past two days…I can only say I am thankful to a very loving God for bringing them all into my life.

Best of all, my wonderful Lord…who has given me the fabulous gift of a loving family, I thank Him for my dear husband Mike who is my very best friend and lifelong love, and my fun and giving daughter Abby who is a delight and bringer of joy into our lives and always has been!

I wish you all the happiest and brightest of all years in 2013. I pray they are filled with all the love and promise your heart and mind can hold and that this year brings you closer to God, friends, family and your dreams!

Love you all! Libby

Christmas Magic and our Journeys to the North Pole

For young children there is no confusion between believing the account of the Christ child’s birth — the real meaning of Christmas — and the magical tale of Santa and his North Pole workshop and the toys he brings to little girls and boys.

“Oh east is east, and west is west,
And never the twain shall meet–
Until they come to the end of the earth,
To Santa Claus’ retreat.”
― Walter R. Brooks

In our family, we kids lived with this dichotomy for many years. Years longer than our friends. We knew Santa was real because our dad and mom had taken us to the North Pole and Santa’s Village, many, many times.

Santa Answering Letters at the North Pole

Somewhere in the state of Colorado, high up in the Rockies, my father knew of a village replicated after the storybook renditions of Santa’s Village at the North Pole. After many days of driving in the summertime, we climbed high into the Rockies above Colorado Springs, above Pike’s Peak, past the cabin my grandma Meme owned to the North Pole. It looked just like summer at Santa’s village and we delighted to travel there. My dad and mom were always excited to show us every inch of the beautiful village, introduce us to the elves they had grown to know so well over the years, and finally to Mr. and Mrs. Claus. We sat on Santa’s lap and told him what our hearts desired, and within reason, we always got what we asked for! Sometimes even if it was a puppy or kitty!

It’s no wonder then that we argued with our friends incessantly as they tried to tell is there was no such thing as Santa Claus…we had been to the North Pole and met the real Santa! Not his helpers, the department store Santas everyone else had met, but the very real one!

It’s no wonder I believed in Santa until I was nine years old! 🙂
That Christmas was the last Christmas my parents were together. When I think of that night I am overwhelmed with nostalgia and I wonder for just a moment, why they ever parted. I know the answer in my head, but my child’s heart twinges as I think of that night.

I awoke to a noise I heard in the family room of our new house. I tiptoed down the stairs and peered around the corner from the kitchen. I could see my mom putting the stockings up on the mantel. The stockings! Santa’s private domain. My dad was assembling a toy by the tree. They were talking softly and laughing. I thought, well there they are, they are Santa after all. My friends were right.

For a moment I felt foolish, and then I looked at the warm, loving scene before me. All seemed right with the world. I felt older and quite wise. I thought I was witnessing something beautiful: love. I tiptoed back up the stairs and went to sleep. The next morning dawned sunny and clear with new fallen snow. It was an extraordinary Christmas! God bless you all! I hope yours this year is as well! Love, Libby

My house now, this Christmas

“Friends: The Glue That Holds Life Together”

Best friend Hetty and Me!

“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”
― Jon Katz

Heather and I have been friends for years. We discovered each other on Twitter. She was the girl with the lion sized faith for Christ @Hetty4Christ. She has Epilepsy and had 2 brain surgeries. I thought if someone who was that powerful in God would become my friend I would be so blessed! Well friends we became. She had an epiphany and became @AliveinMe. She was living in Arizona and awaiting her third brain surgery. Trying to stay out-of-the-way of too many seizures and I was anticipating my big stomach surgery that same winter of 2010. We were on Skype, talking, praying, joking every day. She was and is a marvelous best friend.

Her third brain surgery may have been one too many…20/20 hindsight who is to say? At any rate, they seem to have nicked one of her pain centers leaving her in constant pain, especially in her legs. Uncontrollable pain, the kind that makes you wish you could take a break, you know what I mean, say good-bye to this world of sorrow and toil. But she’s strong with so much to hang on for. She has a wonderful little girl, 10. A sweet husband, and a strong faith. So she is fighting a valiant fight to cling to this world and hope and pray for an answer for her pain. Please join me will you in my prayers for dear Hetty? I call her Heather too. I feel like she has suffered so much she should have a proper grown up name like Heather, but she is such a beautiful little sprite, a former gymnast, such a Hetty. So I call her both and Honey and love. She is my dear friend and my heart aches so for her. I want her pain to lift so much! I do not want to see her this way, but I want to see her always! I love her and want her to be well!

She is my precious friend. I will fight to keep her with me. Fight to find answers for her pain and to stop all seizures. Fight for her life to be restored to her. While in pain she has become a gifted jewelry maker. We’re putting her jewelry website back up soon and I’ll tell you all about it. She is talented and gifted and has found a beautiful way to keep her mind off the pain. Necklaces, one of a kind, colorful, joyous, born of pain and crafted in love.

She is so courageous. Think of her and pray for her often will you? Especially this Christmastime? Thanks for listening. Thanks for your prayers. Love always, Libby

Dad’s Christmas Tradition

“The light of the Christmas star to you. The warmth of home and hearth to you. The cheer and goodwill of friends to you. The hope of a child-like heart to you. The joy of a thousand angels to you. The love of the Son and God’s peace to you.”
― Sherryl Woods, An O’Brien Family Christmas

Christmas at Dad's

Christmas Eve at Dad’s was something to look forward to all year. You may wonder why he isn’t in the photo. He is probably taking it. However, Uncle Dick, his spirited brother is also AWOL. They could be recovering from their wrestling match.

Wrestling match? Now what does that have to do with Christmas, you may wonder. It’s a Baker family tradition. It was born out of the belief that Christmas is about children and giving them the best possible Christmas ever. One year, to our collective delight, my dad and Uncle Dick started rough housing right in the middle of Betty, my step mom’s impeccable decorations. We all squealed and laughed and clapped. It evolved into a wrestling match. And became a family Christmas Eve tradition. Uncle Dick usually won. When you consider he had at least a 60 pound weight advantage on Dad, was unbelievably strong and nearly 6 feet tall, my dad’s height — it’s not too surprising. But the sight of them was! They looked like two big bears rumbling around the living room. As I look back, I think their faces were red from the exertion involved in missing everything they could have hit, including their spell bound audience, and in not hurting each other! We laughed uproariously! It was so fun.

Shortly after the wrestling match, we were so wound up. Suddenly, there was the sound of sleigh bells coming from the roof. It’s Santa we all yelled! The excitement level in the room escalated. We all ran into the living room where the tree was to see that it was surrounded knee deep in presents. What lucky kids we thought, Santa visited us at our Dad’s and at our Mom’s.

On a side note. In this picture I was in 9th grade and too old to believe in Santa Clause. The babies in the picture are my darling sister Sara next to Scott on the floor, and my cousin Julie is in the back being held by my sister Suzy. Betty, the lady on the far left in beige and gold — is my lovely step mom and Sara’s mom. The lady in the red skirt is Marlys, Julie’s mom, Uncle Dick’s wife. In the back standing on the left is my wonderful Grandma Dorothy who my father says I am like, and my grandfather Pop is on the right, Dad’s dad.

What a beautiful blended family we were and we didn’t even know it!
We adjourned to a wonderful dinner, lots of conversation, and more laughter. I always love a party where wrestling matches, the entertainment of children, and general frivolity come before dinner. 🙂

We played with our gifts. We checked with Dad and Betty and Sara to make sure they liked theirs and finally said our goodbye to the Baker family Christmas. Oh, how would we wait another year? Dad drove us home. We were quiet and sleepy in the car. When my dad is happy he gets the urge to sing. He sang Mack the Knife to us, our favorite of his many renditions. What a treat! What a perfect evening!

Found! A picture of the Happy Wrestlers! Dad and Uncle Dick!

Christmas Mom-Style

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ”
— Burton Hillis

My Beautiful Regal Mom's Last Card 2009. Alzheimers, Still Knows Her Kids!

If my mom missed us on Christmas Eve, she never said so. We were over at my dad’s having an uproariously good time which I will tell you about. My mom stayed home alone on Christmas Eve and wrapped our gifts. She always built a fire in the fireplace for us to come home to. And made popcorn for us in a big wooden bowl with matching little bowls and hot chocolate. We all got to open a gift from her that night and we always knew what it would be: our new jammies.

We loved coming home on Christmas Eve to our cozy house and Mom. She loved Christmas and the whole biblical history of the night. Our crèche was out by the fireplace, our tree was decked out beautifully, a real one despite my mom’s allergies.

We would hug and all tell our story of being at dad’s and show mom our presents. She would exclaim over each one. Then we would open our Christmas Eve present from her and rush to put them on. We would all sit together by the fire and drink cocoa and mom would read the bible, about the very first Christmas. We would huddle together and drink in the warmth of the fire, hot chocolate and love. There weren’t any other presents around the three, for Santa hadn’t come yet.

Soon we’d say our good nights, hugs and kisses and go to bed. Mom stayed downstairs for a while. The next morning couldn’t come fast enough. We all had to wait at the top of the stairs until my grand parents arrived. They came with more presents perhaps, we couldn’t really see them, but I knew them so I’d say so! When we got the word — the four of us would charge down the stairs and into the living room for Christmas morning…It was beautiful, breath-taking.

Our stockings were stuffed and we opened them first. Santa had been generous (they were my mom’s favorite part!) And my grandparents brought more love into the house so that it was bursting with it. More gifts to spoil us with, their great smiles and laughter so that our Christmas morning overflowed with it.

Soon my grandmother left to go home to the huge turkey she had in the oven, my grandfather her always gentlemanly escort by her side. Later that day would be Christmas dinner with our wonderful matching cousins and more merriment than the heart could hold!

O Christmas Tree!

I love Christmas! To me it is a magical time of year. It always has been. The birth of baby Jesus — Savior of the world tops everything and is truly the reason for the season — but I’d like to talk about Christmas’ trappings for a bit. The little things that make a child’s Christmas never-to-be-forgotten. My dad was the master of Christmas magic! First of all we never went to a tree lot. From the time I was very young, old enough to walk through the snow and have dad carry Suzy on his shoulder we went out and chopped down our own tree.

Now maybe this was a common occurrence in those days for many people in rural Minnesota, but we were the only ones in our suburb carrying out this ritual. We had to drive a long distance to get to a tree farm. It was a long Dad Hike to find a tree worthy of our living room and decorations. It had to be magnificent! It was such an adventure every year. We waited with such anticipation and enjoyed every second of the day spent with my tall, handsome, knew-how-to-chop-down-a-tree dad!

We didn’t look at any of the little trees. They were not to be disturbed on the tree farm. We walked past them all until we found a tall one with a wider trunk. My dad knew the names of all the kinds of trees and just the kind we liked. Norway pines. They were a very pretty green and had long needles. They lasted a long time.

Finally our quest was over. My dad had spotted our tree! We ran over and found a good sized tree covered in snow. I held Suzy’s hand and we stood back. My dad took his ax out and started to chop down the tree. Now it’s a very easy matter to cut down a tree properly and push it the direction it should go when it’s time for it to topple. And my dad knew exactly how to do it. He would never risk knocking a tree over on one of his children, so it’s hard to imagine where they get this stuff they put in the movies. But I never felt any warnings of danger or mishap when my dad was around!

Soon Suzy and I were standing back further and Dad was giving the tree a nice little shove. TIMBER!!!!! We all yelled (the most fun part!) and down came our Christmas tree. Dad laid down parallel to the tree to measure 6 feet and then added a bit more in length for our living room. On cue Suzy and I followed suit and began making show angels. A small snowball fight and many giggles followed. Then back to the business of cutting the tree to the right length, tying a rope on the trunk and wrapping it around the branches so we could pull it back to the car.

When we got home after singing merrily in the car it was time for hot cocoa and Billy and Mom to join in the decorating after we untangled the lights and got the tree in it’s stand. Still my job to this day!

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all thirty feet tall.”
― Larry Wilde

Our Tree and Us

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