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Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Favorite Christmas Memory from author Carrie Fancett Pagels & a Giveaway!


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The “Gift” of a Grandmother

This may sound like a crazy post, but I discovered that I had a living grandmother (my great-grandmother) only when I was in my 50’s.  I’ll explain but let me tell my little story first.

Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers died before I was born. This greatly affected both my parents.  My father’s mother died when he was twelve and he never got over it.  One of the good things about him going to heaven was for him to be reunited with his beloved mother who died in her 30’s. My mother’s mom died when my mom was in here early 20’s and a newlywed and her mother in her early 40’s.

Blessedly I had a wonderful great-aunt who assumed the role of grandmother. And I had a step-grandmother who tried to be a grandma figure, too. But my mother and my older brother and sister told me that my paternal great-grandmother had died before I was born. My father never commented.

But I had recollections of someone rocking me in a rocking chair and early in my adult life the scent of lemon verbena soap, in a historical museum shop, brought back a strong recollection of a grandmother. Memories of wood smoke, too, and a wood floor and hands wrapped around me. When I was about twelve, my great-aunt pointed to my great-grandmother’s picture (with my great-grandfather) and asked me if I remembered her.  She said that her mother had asked her to look after us kids when she was gone.  When I said to my great-aunt that my great-grandmother died before I was born she blinked at me and may have denied it.  Then I told her that my mother said she had. Kids pretty much believe what their moms say so who was I to question such a fact?  As a sign of the times, my great-aunt said nothing more, probably to not cast any aspersions on my mother.

Fast forward to about five years ago and me looking through genealogy and finding something showing my great-grandmother died almost 30 years after her daughter, (when I was a young child.)  I talked with my mother. She explained how my great-grandmother used to have us out to the cabin all the time—that she constantly called (on the party line!) and asked them to come out.  And that she’d rock us children and oh how I loved to be rocked. And that my great-grandmother and my maternal grandmother discovered that they lived within one county of each other in Kentucky and knew many of the same people.

So many memories and confusion I had growing up were reconciled.  Researchers have found that scents are some of the strongest memory makers.  The fragrance of lemon verbena anchored me to the great-grandmother I remembered but whose memory I was denied (I don’t think deliberately.) My great-grandmother died before my younger sister was born and for that Christmas my father made me my own little tiny children’s rocker covered in vinyl!  I have a picture of me holding my little sister and rocking her.  Just like great-grandma would have done.

When I prayed about a story for Guidepost Books “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” I wanted to spend
time with the great-grandmother I’d gotten to spend some early times with.  And with the memory of her love.  It was amazing writing out a story where I could have several little girls get to enjoy time with a grandmother figure. A bunch of the story got cut about all the things I had them do (maybe I’ll post on my website!) but the process of writing the story was like making a wonderful new Christmas memory.  And this one has me remembering that A Cup of Christmas Cheer sold through 30,000 copies in under a month!!!  And went into a second print run, PTL!

Do you have a Christmas memory that is powerful?  Or one that was like a puzzle?

Giveaway:  Answer the question for an opportunity to receive an assortment of lovely scented soaps from Carrie! 

US ONLY. Leave an EMAIL so we can contact the winner. 
Carrie Fancett Pagels (www.carriefancettpagels.com) is author of Amazon top-rated Civil War novella Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance. Carrie also contributed to God’s Provision in Tough Times, Lighthouse of the Carolinas (July, 2013). Her short story, Snowed In: A Northwoods Christmas, will appear in Guidepost Books “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” (October, 2013). With a Ph.D. in School Psychology, Carrie served as a psychologist for twenty-five years. She has two popular group blogs: Overcoming With God (www.overcomingwithGod.com) and Colonial Quills (www.ColonialQuills.org).



57 comments:

  1. Wow! What a story!!! I must find "A Cup Of Christmas Cheer".
    I do have a powerful Christmas memory ..... staying up late with my Mom and sisters on Christmas Eve and watching "A Christmas Carol" then getting out of our pj's into some clothes and heading to midnight mass.
    Then we'd come home and have a cup of hot cocoa and Mom let us all open one gift ... which was a new pair of pj's which we all just had to put on!!!! LOL Sweet memories!
    diane @ aug's blog

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    1. DIANE, We used to stay up late on Christmas Eve when I was little too, and daddy let us open one gift at midnight! I thought all families did that until I met my husband's family. No opening on Christmas Eve so my childhood tradition was gone :) A Cup of Christmas Cheer can ONLY be ordered through Guideposts!

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    2. Oh what sweet memories and traditions, Diane! Thanks for sharing. Sounds like your Mom tried to make everything really special for you n your sisters!!! Merry Christmas!!!

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  2. Can't wait to read this story and the others in the two Guideposts books. Powerful Christmas memory - my 4 brothers, my parents, and myself going to look at Christmas lights every Christmas Eve, then all of us kids sleeping together in the basement waiting for the arrival of Santa. Christmas morning we would get up around 2ish, wake our parents up, and start the day playing with all the toys. We would have a huge breakfast (or 2) even before light! My parents never complained!
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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    1. Those sound like such happy memories, Susan! We have a huge park near where we live and they have it covered in lights and you drive through it. We usually take the kids (okay, one is 24 and will probably bow out this year) and we drink hot cocoa (dairy free for me!) have candy canes, and we listen to Christmas music (preferably from the 1940's) as we drive through. Special memories.

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    2. SUSAN, That sounds like it was fun to be in your home on Christmas! We used to drive around and look at lights. I still love the twinkling lights and always exclaim how pretty they are as we pass homes all decorated up.

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  3. I wouldlove to smell lemon verbena soap. I hear that term a lot on The Little House on the Prairie, but have never smelled that scent. (I have a collection of odd pieces of soap. My favorites are a huge aspirin and a hostess cupcake.)
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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    1. Susan, the first time I inhaled that scent I was FLOODED with memories of a woman rocking me near a wood stove. Rocking and rocking. I used to think I had totally imagined it and was I ever relieved to discover the memories were real! Merry Christmas!

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    2. I adore handmade soaps! Actually, about any scented soap is good to me :) My favorite is Chamomile Oatmeal...soft and smooth and oh so clean smelling!

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  4. beautiful, Carrie. I am so blessed that you had redemption of a memory so precious. Thank you for sharing, and thanks, Anne, for having Carrie on today. Blessings! (no need to enter me :) )

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    1. You heard this story on the phone, Kathy! You are so precious. Thanks so much for encouraging me to write this story and submit it to Joyce. Merry Christmas!

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    2. KATHY, I am delighted that Carrie agreed to be on here at such short notice! I am enjoying all these memories. They keep us close to our loved ones even whent hey are no longer around to share in the joy with us. Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

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  5. Such lovely Christmas memories, Carrie. I guess our Christmases are always just normal and traditional, b/c I have no memories of ANYTHING that really stands out. Gkids come over and hurriedly open their gifts and then we rush over to my sis in law's for food and carols. But it's all special.

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    1. DIANA! Normal and traditional is good and I bet you have some great memories of years past with your husband and children. Sometimes we get so busy we can't see what's right there with us. I know that's happened to me many times. This year I have been forced to be slow so I am taking it all in :) Love you, friend and wish you a Merry Christmas full of memorable moments!

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    2. OK, so now that you've said that, God will put on your heart a special memory, I just know it Diana. He does that with me. The grandkid memories must be extra special!!! HUGS!!!

      ANNE, you an I are both gimpy this year. Sigh… Will make it memorable for sure haha. Praying for both our hearings!

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    3. Not being able to get around sure makes me think about all the shut-ins! Next year, I am doing some heavy duty visiting/ministering and bringing some cheer into someone's life!

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  6. Oh Carrie, what a wonderful story. I enjoyed every word of it. I don't have any wonderful experiences or stories such as yours but I do rejoice in other peoples heart warming stories though. Thank you for sharing your story. My day has been made better already!

    Blessings!
    Judy B
    judyjohn2004(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. JUDY, We all have our own special memories and I'm glad they aren't like anyone else's. Otherwise, we wouldn't have anything to oooh and aaah over on here, would we? I'm sure your family has special moments especially with your adorable grands! They make the season so much brighter :) Love & hugs to you and a very Merry Christmas!

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    2. Ohhh, that is so sweet! Judy, I really felt kinda kooky thinking I remembered a grandma when I was told I'd never had one! Big hugs!!!

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  7. Oh, Carrie & Anne ... what a truly lovely post!! And I TOTALLY agree about scents being so powerful for the memory!! Which just reminds me I should go back and add a few more in my WIP ... ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. JULIE, One memory in particular, I was in my mid-20s, a grad student in SC, and I'd gone into a shop in Charleston, SC, and inhaled the scent of lemon verbena and it was like a whoosh, a rush of memory and it freaked me out. About a decade later they came out with that research about scent being the most powerful of memory associations. So yes, in our MSes and WIPs we have to have those sensory details. And sometimes a scent recalls a suppressed or forgotten memory. In therapy with PTSD patients, it is KEY to get them to recall the scents. Because they have to avoid or desensitize to those scents.

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    2. JULIE, Your books are filled with sensory delights, my friend! I can recall like it was yesterday my Granny's cheeks and how they always smelled of Almond Cherry Jergens lotion. And her favorite perfume was Evening in Paris...ahhhh, sweet memories! I'd say scents are pretty important, whether they're good or bad.

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  8. Thank you Carrie for that beautiful memory of Christmas! I agree that smells link us to our past and Christmas to me was the smell of pine - it brings back memories of the whole family picking out a tree to decorate and that smell in the home. We would go out and drive around to see the Christmas lights a few days before Christmas. My parents were married on December 24, so often we would celebrate that and I know the night before Christmas we always were sent off to bed early - no doubt so the folks could finish last minute wrapping, but we had a difficult time falling asleep! The older we got we would go caroling with our church and I remember one evening the moon was full and the temp was perfect. There was snow on the ground and it just glistened in the moon light - everyone was in awe of the beauty. I don't know about powerful, but with such a clear, bright night many felt God was shining down on our group - we felt blessed that evening and it sure felt more like Christmas! Lots of good memories of Christmas's past!

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    1. I love the smell of spruce!! and pine!! But am allergic to that and fir! I miss caroling. Wow, that sounds like a time I had caroling in upper peninsula of Michigan! With the moon on the snow and I was in a carriage with a horse--so fun!! Gee, were you with me???

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    2. I love the smell of real Christmas trees! I do miss that now that we live in a small house and have an artificial tree :( And I love to go caroling!!! I always imagined it would be delightful to live in a village (like in the UK) where everyone celebrates together. We're kind of isolated out in the country.

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  9. Now that you've asked that question I honestly do not have one definitive real early memory about Christmas, everyone Xmas was filled with people, presents and food. I was an only child so these family events were overwhelming and the scents, sounds, names etc merge into one huge grab bag of wonderfulness but nothing specific. My Dad was Norwegian and we carried on their Xmas Eve opening gift time, married we split gift opening in two. This is a wonderful post.

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    1. Did you have that icky fish they make? Or the sweet grog? Sounds like a fun Christmas, Lynn!!! I remember watching my mom make candy, yummmmmm!!!!!

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    2. Lynn, It sounds like you had wonderful Christmases growing up! Being surrounded by family is all the gift I ever want :) Thanks for being such a faithful follower and coming by today. I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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  10. My grandma was an Evening in Paris granny. I used to love to smell her. Her little house smelled like her. It was wonderful! And I always wanted to be like her. I want to read and own A Cup Of Christmas Cheer. It sounds lovely!

    Handmade soaps are my thing. Love, love, love them!

    My fondest memory is when I was about nine years-old. I was told NOT to go into my parents bedroom under NO circumstances. I had tried and tried to sneak in but could never manage it. (Watchful eyes) One day the phone rang and I KNEW this was my opportunity. I walked in and there was the bike I had wanted so badly. Dad made me promise to act surprised on Christmas morning. He didn't want to ruin Mom's happiness. Well, my acting job was quite OVERDONE. He finally took me aside and told me to stop. :-) Maybe I should have been in acting. Ha.

    Hugs Anne! MWAH!

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    1. Oh Robyn, You were a curious child Like I was! I always tried to sneak a peek ;) One year my mama wrapped a Barbie doll for me and left a little place on the back exposed (couldn't see the Barbie) and she wrote 'Peek Here' on it :) I guess that was before the phrase was popular. She knew how nosy I was! I'm pleased that our granny's had something in common, as we have so much in common! Love you and miss you, {{hugs}}

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    2. ROBYN, I WEAR Evening in PAris still!!! I have a bottle I ordered because my Great-Aunt used to wear it and she gave us some when we were little girls. My dad was funny and didn't like that perfume and said it smelled like French ladies of the night. Then my mom asked him how he would know, lol, and that was the end of that conversation!

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    3. Carrie, I will have to order some! I didn't know you could still buy it. My Granny's bottle was so beautiful and she would let me smell it every time I visited :)

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    4. I meant smell the perfume, NOT the bottle :-)

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  11. My greatest memory is with my Great-Aunt that me n my children called Granny Honey. She was my Grandmother. I remember when I was very young of her and a man that was only a figure in my mind. My Granny passed away and the figure of a man came into my memories even more then taking to my Aunt and telling her about the man. She told me it sounded like her dad who loved me so much. Always wanting to hold me and take me with him. I never knew my Grandfathers they were not living. Grandpa George was there for most of my young life and He passed when I was 6 years old. My granny Honey taught me to cook and crochet. She loved my children. Our two youngest never knew their Grandmothers. They passed before they were old enough to know them. My greatest memory of my Grannie Honey is peppermint candy and lotion.

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    1. LeAnn, Those are beautiful memories! Thank you so much for sharing them. Grandparents have the capacity to make a huge impact in the lives of their grandchildren. I pray I am a positive influence in mine! And I hope they have fond memories of me someday. Peppermint Candy is a must at Christmas! I always loved seeing those red and white discs in my stocking :) Blessings for a Merry Christmas!

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    2. That is SO sweet, LeAnn!!! My kids are going to see their grandparents this Christmas--that is my gift to them. Thanks so much for sharing about Grandma Honey!

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  12. My mother died when I was five, a month before my sixth birthday. I have no memory of her. She was 41 and died following a surgery. I visited from out of state with my grandmother an afternoon when I was 17. I am glad she was able to see me again. One precious memory I have is of that same summer visiting a childhood classmate. We were walking in their entry hall laughing. An elderly grandmother was in the other room and said, "Sally's here." An older sister of my friend told her, "No, Mother, Sally died." Her response: "I hear her laughter." Isn't that so beautiful what the Lord did for me! When I read Psalm 139 for the first time, all of my questions were answered. The Lord had been with me all of the time and I had not been alone. How precious this Psalm is to me, and Psalm 119:111, Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
    I have two Christmas memories that stand out. When I was eleven, my stepsister and her family had arrived in the night to our home from out of state. I woke her, I am sure early, in the morning to show her the beautiful short-sleeved turquoise sweater with pearl buttons and my first yellow-haired doll from Santa (arriving via their packages I surmised when I was older).
    The second one is such a Christmas miracle. On Christmas morning, as my daughter and I sat quietly looking at the lights on our tree, our mailman knocked on our door and delivered a package from my parents. Christmas of juicy fruit gum, tootsie roll pops and mittens, and certainly a coloring book and crayons ~ will always be a wonderful memory to me.
    I would love to have the scented soaps!! Merry Christmas and many blessings, Carrie and Anne. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House
    lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

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    1. Kathleen, Your memories bring tears to my eyes! God is so good to us in every way. I know our Christmases will never be the same but we can rejoice in our memories! Love to you, sweet, sweet friend in Christ, for a blessed Christmas!

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    2. Kathleen, What beautiful memories! Thanks so much for sharing! That was very touching! Hugs and Merry Christmas!

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    3. You both are very dear to me. Merry Christmas and I am thankful for His gift of joy. Kathleen

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  13. Anne, a touching story. It is great that you have a scent memory. It seems like I have memories triggered by a scent, but I can't put my finger on it right now. I do know that it is a powerful thing. Please have a very happy Christmas season.

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    1. Merry Christmas to you, too, Amy! What is your fave Christmas memory? Happy Christmas!!!

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  14. Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!
    Bring you Good wishes of happiness.

    Sorry for greeting you earlier,, just don't want miss saying this.
    By the way, I'm clotee. It's my first time visiting your blog. I am blogger too, and now try my best luck to open an e-store. Nice to know you.

    Regards,
    Clotee

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    1. Clotee, Thank you for coming by again today. I hope you have a blessed Christmas too!

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  15. I loved reading your story. I always stayed up to watch the weather on Christmas because the weatherman would always track Santa so I could always see where he was before I went to bed. What wonderful memories! I love homemade soaps. They are always so fragrant and feel so good.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. I think they have an app for that nowadays which is so funny! Our weathermen didn't do that up in Michigan (that I know of!) but I've lived places where they did. Blessings!

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    2. Melanie, I remember doing the same thing when I was little! I used to make hand-milled soaps but haven't in years. They are my favorites. So glad you came by. Have a great week!

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    3. Melanie, you are the winner, congrats!!!

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  16. Hi, Carrie, & Anne!

    What a touching post, Carrie!

    My most memorable Christmas day was one of which I wasn't even aware - the one on which I was born, at home! I'm sure it was my mother's most memorable Christmas, also! The country roads, in the area, were slick & hazardous - when my father risked his life, to drive to find the doctor (I don't know why the phone wasn't used - perhaps, it wasn't working, or there was none. My mother doesn't remember.). My father couldn't locate my mother's doctor, ended up leaving a message for him, at a hotel - where the doctor, frequently, stopped - & managed to reach another doctor. My mother's doctor arrived, just as I was being born. On his way home, he stopped by my grandmother's house, greeting her: "good afternoon, grandma"! I was the first grandchild on my mother's side of the family, I'm sure my grandmother thought the reason my parents hadn't shown up for Christmas dinner, was due to the bad weather.

    Carrie, I'm so happy that you have wonderful memories, of your great-grandmother, connected with scents of soap & a rocker, & that you were able to re-live those memories, again, in the writing of "your story for "A Cup of Christmas Cheer" (isn't God good to us?)! Reading the story behind "your" story, makes me, even, more anxious to read "A Cup of Christmas Cheer"! I don't remember my great-grandparents, but have wonderful memories of all 4 of my grandparents!

    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Bonnie, that is wild! What a scare for your parents!!! Oh, what a GIFT for your gps!!!! I'm so glad for the gift of a grandparent's memory yes! Hugs!

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    2. WoW, Bonnie! That is awesome :) You really do have a fantastic Christmas story to tell. And wasn't that sweet of the doctor to let your grandma know you were born. I hope you have a Happy Birthday AND a Merry Christmas!

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  17. Hello Anne and Carrie. I love reading all of the comments, but must read slow for time sure passes fast while I read. i ccaaaan't remember mush when I was under 6. I know we always had to wait un til Christmas morning to open gifts. Was never much so didn't take long, but we were always happy. I do remember one house we lived in out in the country. We got excited when daddy would go cut us a tree. Had to lock the front door and put our tree there. So we used the back door. We kids all made paper ornaments to put on our tree. Including a long paper chain. Mother would pop corn and we would put thread thru them and make a chain for our tree. We were so proud when it was finished. Then the family would play board games. I don't have much memory of gifts until I was about 9 or so. We had moved to Houston,Tx. during WW ll so daddy could work at the shipyard. One of my oder sisters had gotten a job and bought me a little girl doll that fit in a little metal suitcase with a place to hang clothes in the other side. She had made some clothes and hung them inside. Of course it was from Santa. The first gift I really remember and I was real excited. And, of course the year I had a baby girl about 1pm on a Christmas Day. I have enjoyed this conversation.
    Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. MAXIE, that is SO sweet about your sis! My mom was the eldest girl and when she got a job she bought little presents for her sisters. I remember her commenting about that and I think it kinda made her sad in a way. I dk if that was because there wasn't anyone doing that for her or not. Oh you had a CHRISTMAS baby how wonderful!!! Big hugs!

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    2. Awwww Maxie, That is so sweet! Your sister sounds like a real gem. Times were tough for folks during the war but you know, I think our society has lost something that you had during that generation. Now it seems everyone is out for how much they can get and how fast. I LOVE your memories of time spent with family making paper chains and popping popcorn! Thank you so much for sharing that with us. Many wishes for a Merry Christmas, Maxie!

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  18. HEY Y'ALL - I'm off to do some shopping but will check in later. Love all the comments and sharing of memories!!!

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  19. Popping in before bedtime here... absolutely lovely post !
    Memories, powerful is the memory of being with my moms family including my great grandmother Kells each year before she died, she was a funny wise woman for sure. But I love the time we all spent together.
    Linda Finn
    faithfulacresbooks@gmail.com
    Faithful Acres Books
    http://www.faithfulacresbooks.wordpress.com

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    1. Hi Linda, I agree. Time spent with family is the best! In fact, the reason I ended up being absent from blogging this weekend is just that! Spent some precious time with family celebrating Christmas early, and wishing my oldest niece a fond farewell as she embarks on a career in the US Air Force!!!

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I am so delighted that you've taken time to come by and comment. Blessings for a joy-filled day!

1 Corinthians 1:3 ~ Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.