New Year Celebrations in the past December 31, 2020

Unlike many couples, we didn’t go out for a holiday dinner and toast the new year with champagne. My husband worked for the post office and was scheduled to work on New year day to do maintenance on the sorting machines.

We went to bed early so John could get to work by 6:30. But there was a celebration in our home every New Year’s eve.

For many years, my daughter had a sleepover with several of her friends. They would bring snacks, games and movies to watch. They all wanted to stay up to watch the ball fall in New York City.

Ruth’s Grandma, Helen, was in charge of the festivities. She distributed sparkling non-alcoholic juice, noise-makers, silly string and confetti poppers. One year, toilet paper rolls were given to tepee the trees and shrubs around our yard.

The girls and Grandma got little sleep that night. As they had welcomed in the new year.

John and I woke to find the house and yard littered with the celebration . Grandma was asleep on the couch and the girls were nestled in their sleeping bags in the family room.

Before the girls were picked up by their parents, they willingly helped to clean up the litter.

The new year sleepover was a tradition for many years. Now this year, we will have a different celebration. We will talk by the fireplace and recall past New Year’s eves and recall people no longer in your lives. Memories and hope will be central to welcoming the new year this year.

Carol Farnsworth

carolfarn@aol.com

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A waining moon, heralds the end of the year.

Stars twinkle , their light reflected on the hanging toilet paper.

The celebrates sleep , exhausted from the night’s activities.

All is quiet as we sip our coffee in bed.

Smiling we kiss and wish each other a Happy New Year.

copyright 12/31/2020

December 29, 2020 A time to Put Away

Some people think that putting away Holiday decorations is a depressing activity. My task is to take the ornaments off the tree. I find that removing an ornament I can feel it and remember where and why it was purchased. This is a relaxing activity for me.

I fondle a group of tin toys. A sled, a scooter and a wagon, they remind me of the toys of my youth and toys we gave to our daughter. I recall that all the tin toys are bright red to go with the season.

Then my fingers find a ceramic bird in flight. This was given to me on my first married Christmas.

Another favorite ornament is a dove with two strings of pearls in it’s beak. This came from my co-worker before I married and it’s smooth white contours remind me of a shell.

The newest additions are dutch shoes and a glass dutch windmill. Given to me by my husband to remind me of the decorated trees at Meijer Gardens. The whole dutch tree was covered with these two decorations.

I find that the time to remember and time taken to recall the stories bring a smile to my day.

Each precious memory is tucked in tissue paper and placed in various small boxes to be unwrapped in the next year.

By New Year Day, the indoor decorations are put away. The first day of the new year is spent cleaning and reflecting on what old thoughts and habits to put away. I take time to reflect on the people from the last year that I am grateful for.

I resolve to give to others in sharing talents, time and treasure with them.

I hope you can find many reasons to be grateful for the year 2020. If you come across an ornament that you don’t recognize , don’t worry. Consider it a gift and form a story around it.

Make your own memory stories.

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What adorns my Christmas Tree?

a bisque doll

a teddy bear

a red apple

french horn pair

a jeweled candy cane

a striped sock

and two bells

a small toy block

lites and memories hang

on the tree

they’re put away

for next year

to surprise me.

Carol Farnsworth

carolfarn@aol.com

copyright 12/29/2020

The light in the world December 22, 2020

At this time of the year, especially this year, I thank God for the light. On the darkest and shortest day of the year, I am grateful for a glimmer of the light that I can see. My memory supplies the rest. The past year I have been thankful for the support of family, friends and medical people that have touched my life. We all need the love and support of each other to be part of the light. Even support for the people that are not as lovable, the cold prickly ones. Do we extend the light to them? The rude person that cuts us off. The therapist that doesn’t understand our disability. Or the people asking for money on the street corners. Do we see the light in them and extend our light to them. In this season of hope and light may we look for the light in all we see and touch. A Blessed Christmas to all my readers.

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Spare Change
Dolly pulled her frayed black sweater close around her shoulders.Wind blew the falling snow into her face. Alternating the battered travel mug to keep one hand warm, she sat waiting. Holding out the mug with the spare change request to passerby’s. They neither heard nor saw her, as they mounted the steps to the cathedral.Copyright 12/22/20Carol Farnsworth

I will have a blog on the 24 for the Christmas break.

Let it Snow December 17, 2020

As we approach the Winter solstice ,our part of the country has not received any accumulation of snow. Normally, we would have a blanket of the white stuff by mid-November. It is odd to not see or feel snow underfoot. As kids, we started to sharpen our skates, wax our cross country skis and ready our sleds for the anticipation of a day outdoors. If the snow was the correct consistency, the boys would make a snow fort with several window holes where a barrage of snowballs could be launched at neighbor hood kids or a little sister. I amused myself falling backwards into the fresh snow to make snow angels. By moving my arms in an arch and moving my legs in and out. stepping out of the impression, a perfect angel emerged. I would make several snowballs of different sizes and wedge them together with great wet snow to make mini snowmen. I would decorate them with buttons and ribbons and place them in the freezer. I hoped to keep then until summer. Much to my dismay, they always disappeared. My mother told me that snowmen were not used to being coped up and they escaped in the night. With parts of the country dealing with more than their fair share of snow, it seems silly to long for the white stuff. The sound of crunching under boots, the feel of cold powder and the clean smell after a snowstorm keeps me longing and waiting. So let it snow!

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Billowing clouds gather, filled with moisture, they let go.

Snow drifts down to form piles.

Fills cracks on walls.

On roofs of bird feeders and in the squirrel dishes.

All is clean, bright and white.


Carol Farnsworth Copyright 12/17/20

Touching with a card December 15, 2020

The tradition of sending Christmas greetings in the form of cards has been a part of our family as long as i can remember. But where did this tradition start?

King James the 1 of England was given a card type correspondence in 1610. But the innovative mass mailing of an illustration was created by an educated and patron of the arts in 1843. Henry Cole was a busy man. But the Christmas letters, so popular in Victorian England were piling up. It was felt to be rude not to respond to a personal letter. He came up with a plan.

Cole contracted with an artist friend to produce a holiday portrait of a family at a dinner table with all members holding a glass of wine in a toast.

A banner on the top of the picture had the words Greetings with a blank space for personalizing the card. On the bottom of the picture the words Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year were printed.

Cole took the prototype to a printer where a 1000 cards were printed. He could respond to the many letters with a beautiful card.

In England, the postal office had invented a stamp for prepaying for letter sending. The new stamp helped increase the writing and sending of Christmas letters.

Printers in this country started to print and sell groups of holiday cards to send. Now the custom of sending Christmas cards generate nostalgia. The use of a special card along with a personal greeting or letter has continued.

My husband, John and I do the cards together. My job is to place the stamps and return address on the envelope. I write the Christmas letter and select the card to be sent.

John writes the addresses and the brief note inside the card. We take turns thinking what to write to each person.

We finish 10 to 12 cards a day until they are completed. This helps to keep the personal notes fresh.

This year, we have sent out more cards that normal. People that we don’t see for years are contacted to keep them in our loop. We hope to find that all are well and staying safe.

So take some time a send a card or two. Especially remember the disabled and elderly you know. They will appreciate hearing from you. They will use the card to decorate their home.

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To my readers who share the blog with me.

Merry Christmas,

Happy Hanukkah

Happy New Year,

Happy Kwanzaa

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Blog Dec.11,2020

I must apologize to my readers for this late post. On Tuesday morning, I tripped over an open dishwasher door. Landing on my left hip, I knew I did some damage.

My husband helped me into bed, where I stayed for several hours icing my hip. I made the decision to go to Urgent care.

X-rays revealing I had broken the ball off the hip bone.

I went to the emergency room and was scheduled for surgery the next day. I was out of the hospital the day after surgery.

Now I am self quarantined.

My daughter found this poem to cheer me up. The author is anonymous .

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T’was a month before Christmas and all through the town,

People wore masks that covered their frown.

The frown had begun way back in the Spring,

When a global pandemic changed everything.

They called it corona but unlike the beer,

It didn’t bring good times. It didn’t bring cheer.

Airplanes were grounded, travel was banned.

Borders were closed across air, sea and land.

As the world entered lock down to flatten the curve,

The economy halted, and folks lost their nerve.

From March to July, we rode the first wave,

People stayed home. They tried to behave.

When summer emerged, the lockdown was lifted.

But away from caution, many folks drifted.

Now in November and cases were spiking,

Wave two has arrived, much to our disliking.

It’s true that this year has had sadness a plenty,

We’ll never forget the year 2020.

And just ‘round the corner – the holiday season,

But why be merry? Is there even one reason?

To decorate the house and put up the tree.

Who will see it, no one but me.

But outside my window, the snow gently falls,

And I think to myself, let’s deck the halls!

So, I gather the ribbon, the garland and bows,

As I play those old carols, my happiness grows.

Christmas is not cancelled and neither is hope.

If we lean on each other, I know we can cope.

The smell of Baking December 8, 2020

The smell of baking December 8, 2020
My husband is a baker. He will make bread. The aroma of warmed bread from kneading, creates a yeast aroma through the house. .Creating a basel bread using fresh basil, he adds the scent of herbs to the yeast potpourri.
/But this time of year, the baking smell are all about Christmas Cookies. I am not talking about the frosted sugar cookies but the cookies from our youth. These include date\nut cookies, pfefernuse, nut balls and springerles. They are a Polish tradition.

The springerles cookies are a lemon\anise cookie. The fragrance of lemon wells up form the mixer. The subtle of anise combines in the dough . The mixture is cooled for an hour before caked. The cookies are rolled and cut into shapes with cutters. When the cookies are removed from the oven the anise taste and smell is prominent. This cookie gets better with aging. The flavors blend and the cookie becomes softer.

Pfefernuse cookies are made with strong coffee, brandy , cloves, all spice, cinnamon and black pepper. This group of ingredients combined to make a delightful ball shaped cookie. The cookie is dipped in powder sugar for a final touch of sweetness.
The original recipe for date\nut cookies was a a bread. Making individual cookies makes storage easier.
The nut balls are mostly ground walnuts, butter and flour.
They are dipped in powdered sugar after baking . The cookie melts in your mouth with an explosion of buttery nut flavor.
But the best scent is from making peanut brittle. Starting with raw peanuts or cashews, corn syrup and butter are brought to 240 degrees. The nuts are poured into the hot liquid. The syrup continues to heat cooking to 300 degrees. The last ingredient is a mixture of baking soda and water and vanilla. This changes the color and causes the mixture to develop bubbles. The mixture is poured over buttered cookie sheets and allowed to cool. The large piece of brittle can be picked up and broken into pieces.
You may ask, what do you do with all the goodies. That is where the fun begins. We package the treats and deliver to friends and neighbors . In this time of distancing , we hang the treats in bags on the doorknobs .Afterward, we text the recipient of the treat. This is our way to bring smiles and joy to others.
So what do you do well? Do you write poems? type one roll it up with a ribbon and delivery to your friends.
Are you able to draw? Make a small illustration to decorate a Christmas note and deliver or mail them.
Even if you think you have no special skills, you can call a friend or write to a distant friend to see how they are doing. The gift of yourself will be appreciated.
So what are you waiting for? Spread some good cheer, You and others will feel more connected to each other.

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Sharing Gifts

A crisp new snow set the mood
So little time, so much to do

Rising bread and brittle to make
I sip some coffee and take a break

A missing ingredient eludes, peace, love and kindness too
they are the reasons for what we do

Putting down my cup, I grab the phone
To call my daughter inviting her home

Together we knead the bread and pour warm brittle too
We laugh and talk til our work is through

packing it up, topped with a bow
We make deliveries, through gentle falling snow


Carol farnsworth
carolaspot
copyright 12/8/20

December 3, 2020 Deck the Halls. My husband and I have a tradition that we have kept for 24 years. It started when my Mother gave back two child size dolls from my youth. We added three additional large dolls from my Daughter’s collection. Several others were bought at a second-hand stores. They made quite a collection. Our intention was to dress and display them as children doing holiday activities. The dolls have been sledding, cross country skiing, ice skating, and making a snow man.On the front porch a store front display has shown a line up for Santa, lighting the advent wreath, elves making toys and loading Santa’s sled.Each year, I think of a theme and John makes the stage props to make it happen. We have had lighted fireplaces, desks, a real mailbox, a 7 foot lighthouse and a lit ice rink and a winter carousel .The magic of these tacky decorations come alive at night with lighting and seen from traveling cars. For this most unusual holiday, we chose the activity of making cookies. The child size stove is open with a light lighting the cookies being put in to bake. There is a decorated refrigerator next to the stove. four other children are in the process of rolling, decorating and eating cookies. They stand around a kitchen table. Each doll is clad in a bright colored chef apron and hat. Holiday decorations adorn the pink walls . All this in a five by 10 foot space. The idea of offering an activity that the family can enjoy from their cars and then go home to do the baking themselves. Many of our neighbors and friends have decked their homes to entertain the kids, old and young alike. This year with no Christmas parade, virtual visits with Santa and restricting crowds, This is a safe and fun activity.

Deck the hall with many dollies

Fa La La La La La La La La

Making smiles and be jolly

Fa La La La La La La La La

Piling in our cars, we travel

Fa La La Fa La La La La La

To see the lights, with no fear of virus.

Fa La La La La Fa La La La

December 1, 2020 Advent

December 1, 2020 Advent

The word advent means to wait for an event, person or thing. There are many events that we are waiting for this year.

We wait for a vaccine from drug companies. We wait for a treatment that will cut down the mortality of this virus. We hope and wait.

We wait for the new administration to take over in the government. We hope to have economic relief. Looking in the new leaders for guidance.

But the real meaning of advent is not to be a passive waiter. What are we doing to actively welcome the change?

Change starts with putting others before ourselves. Are we trying to stay home as much as possible. This will protect others and slow the virus from spreading.

Wearing masks and changing the masks . The masks wear out and cloth ones must be frequently washed.

Are we concerned with our government to write or call to let our leaders know when they are doing a good job or if they could do better? Our elected officials are human. They could use a kind word as well as criticism.

Finally, we must accept that we can not bring about change by ourselves. We can put the needs of all nations into the power that created the world. whether, you believe in the creation story or the big bang theory. There is a higher power that is waiting for us to open our hearts, just a crack. Be active, be watchful, work to bring about an advent this year.

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Advent

We are waiting for this advent?

Is it the vaccine to conquer the virus?

Do we long for the end of isolation?

How long must we wait for these things to pass?

Do we hope for a different direction in our government?

Do we want economic relief from bills and rent?

Do we desire a consistent message from our leaders?

Or do we wish to have a baby born long ago,

That spirit to be present in our lives?

What are we doing to make this happen?

Opening our hearts, we can help Advent begin.

James Campbell guest blogger 11/25/2020

Seasons greetings from Odessa, Texas. 

This year has been one of many challenges. Never before in our lifetime have we faced the monumental surge of calamities that has been visited on this nation. 

The year began in the midst of the impeachment debacle, which finally ground to a halt when the Senate refused to convict President Trump of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden. Allegations of corruption swirled around the son of the would-be Democratic nominee in the 2020 election. The Democrats impeached President Trump for threatening to withhold vital foreign aid to Kiev if the investigation didn’t move forward. The Republican majority in the Senate refused to uphold the impeachment by a clear two-thirds majority. The Democrats were disheartened, insisting that the investigation was politically motivated. According to their thinking, this was a smear job by Trump that was designed to discredit Joe Biden  in hopes of ruining his chances for the nomination.  

At the same time, the Coronavirus reared its head, and a worldwide pandemic broke out. In the US, 200000-plus deaths have resulted, and the present surge is pushing hospitals and morgues alike to their limit.  The promised vaccines are months away, and the most dire predictions forecast the worst winter in modern history. 

The initial outbreak led to hoarding and panic purchasing of essential items. By way of reply, stores were forced to ration many necessities: toilet tissue, cleanex, cleaning products, and food. At one point, meat prices went to all-time highs, as crops rotted in the fields because farmers couldn’t get the crops to market. Estimates of the number of hungry Americans range to 54000000

Stores closed as the nation went into lockdown. Restrictions on the number of customers that could occupy businesses at one time were put in place, mask mandates were in force in many communities, and many of these edicts are still active today. 

On May 25, Minneapolis police officers murdered George Floyd by placing a knee on his neck and holding it in that position for eight minutes while he pleaded for one more breath. The outcome was an escalating insurrection in the streets as  blacks rioted, and proceeded to set up autonomous zones in some municipalities  In some cases, citizens armed themselves in order to protect their lives and property. The left is calling for the police to be defunded, while simultaneously crying out for stricter gun laws. The panic among the population has increased accordingly due to the circumstances that have been created by the lawlessness and lack of police action that are the end product.  

To top it off, the election of 2020 is still in question, with President Trump refusing to concede in light of allegations that the election was rigged. No one can predict how this will turn out, the Trump White House is still contesting the final results  in court, with conservative pundits backing President Trump to the finish line. 

And yet, adversity has brought out the best in many people. All across the land, first responders are going the extra mile to save lives as the death rate climbs. My cousin and her husband are  among those. 

Food banks are doing their part to feed the needy, and charities of all kinds are raising money to assist in that effort. Entertainers are getting in on the action. Any number of celebrities from rock groups to movie stars are doing their part to help in these troubled times. If nothing else, many are encouraging their fans to follow the present guidelines in order to bring the pestilence under control.  

In Odessa, our local United supermarkets are going beyond the call of duty. They have a segment on the local news called, “Tell Me Something Good,” which promotes positive actions and random kindness in our community and the surrounding area.  

On a personal note, Aunt Sue is making progress in her recovery from her fall on October 16th. Her arm is healing nicely; we will know more after her doctor’s visit this coming Tuesday

We will spend Thanksgiving by ourselves This year; United is providing the meal.  Cousin Courtney and her new husband Stephen must work that day. Eric’s family will have the kids for Thanksgiving.  

The sun is still shining, and we are still among the living. We will give thanks for what we have, as we pray for those who are less fortunate, But there  for the grace of a higher power go we. 

Best wishes and blessings from the Campbell family, James R. Campbell, Caronita Sue Campbell, and pets, puppy dog Copper and Kitty Cat Milly. 

As always, Thanks for your time, 

With Loving Kindness, 

James R. Campbell

Campbelljamesr1968@gmail.com