Posts Tagged "Christmas"

An Opportunity of a Lifetime!

Posted by on Dec 16, 2015 in Blog, Double Cousins |

An Opportunity of a Lifetime!

  This week my daddy celebrated his eighty-third birthday. You might think that is really old! I understand. When I was a kid, I thought it was too. In fact, when he was 38 I told him in two years he would be an old man! Believe me, when I turned 38 he thoroughly enjoyed reminding me of my words. Sigh. A few years ago we sat down and I asked him a series of questions. I interviewed him. I wanted to hear his stories and boy, did I. I had warned him and he was ready. He even had a list of things he wanted to talk about. I typed it into the computer as he talked, and we taped it. So, now we have it. The memories of Marvin Jones. It was an opportunity of a lifetime! It’s a good thing because he recently had a stroke, and speech is very difficult for him. He wouldn’t be able to have that conversation today. Next week is Christmas. You will be seeing grandparents, great-aunts, great-uncles, maybe even great-grandparents. Now is your chance! Make a list of questions, let them know ahead of time what you would like to do, and then be ready to record what they say. Smart phones usually have a really great recording device and then it can be transferred to a computer and shared with the family. Here are my list of questions, but if you want more or different ones just google “questions to ask your elders” and you will get many sites with wonderful suggestions.   Have fun and get those memories down. You don’t have forever! Miriam’s list What is your first memory? What is the most important thing you learned from each of your parents? What was Christmas like? What is your favorite story that your dad would tell? What is your scariest memory from childhood? What was your favorite food that your mom made? What other memories stand out? What was the most important lesson you learned while in the military/college? What is the most important thing you would like your children and grandchildren to know? How did you meet your...

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Remember and Be Glad. . . My Choice

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Remember and Be Glad. . . My Choice

We visited an outlet store the other day. They advertised a free coffee mug if you purchased $30.00 of items. I wasn’t there to buy. I was there to see about a book signing. But, the more I walked around the store, the more Christmas sales I found. I ended up with a mug. It has the verse Psalm 118:24 on it. Christmas is everywhere these day; stores, work, home, church. If you are a Scrooge, it isn’t a good time of year for you. Or, if you’ve recently lost a family member. Or maybe, it is the first holiday season since your loved one passed. Either way, it is difficult. As a nurse, I’ve seen it many times. I know this first-hand, too.   November 23rd was the due date eight years ago of our unborn child. It seems like every eight-year-old child I see this year is cuter than cute. December 2nd was the 85th anniversary of marriage of George and Mildred Jones, my grandparents. It was also the 18th anniversary of the day Grandma McKnight went to heaven. December 7th is remembered as Pearl Harbor Day. But, for me it is remembered as the day Grandpa McKnight followed Grandma to heaven. Next month there are more such anniversaries, ones that I note. Every. Single. Year.   So, what are we to do? What would my mother and grandparents want me to do? Would they be thankful if I spent the day moping around and feeling sorry for myself? I think not. Yet, that can be a real temptation. Sometimes, the loss just reaches out and grabs me by the neck and squeezes. It comes at the strangest moments.   Maybe it is when the girl’s choir lines the walls of the church and raises their voices in praise to the Lord. I glance at my husband, his eyes shut, head moving slightly to the music, a look of joy and peace on his face and I am reminded of the look on Grandpa McKnight’s face when he heard glorious music. Of course, the pew would have been shaking from his laugh-cry if it had been Grandpa.   Maybe it’s when looking at an adult coloring book of Psalms and I flashback to memories of Grandma McKnight listening to us recite Psalms to her.   Or, maybe it is in a patient’s room when the old man in the bed is watching episode after episode of westerns. I stand there, holding my breath. Will Matt Dillon save Miss Kitty? And, why didn’t they ever get married anyway? Then, in my mind I see Grandpa Jones sitting on his couch watching his favorite show. My eyes burn.   Or maybe, when my husband opens the shades in the kitchen to let in the morning sun and sings, “Sunshine in her window, makes Miriam happy. . .” and I remember just how much Grandma Jones loved John Denver.   Or even when the eight-year-old young lady and her daddy...

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A Memory-Building Detour – Creating, Reviewing, Protecting Legacy!

Posted by on Nov 29, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

A Memory-Building Detour – Creating, Reviewing, Protecting Legacy!

Today I struggled to come out of a fog. I had a nap—longer than I intended. I bolstered myself with a touch more caffeine. Still, I needed something. So, I put on some baroque music and the constantly moving lines of the pieces start to wake up my brain. On the counter I spotted the tea cups I brought home with me from our recent trip. Ah, yes. A cup of tea. Just the thing. I smiled as I poured the water over the tea bag. This cup will always be a special memory of our detour to see cousins.   Usually, when we come home from South Dakota we shoot east and drop down through Chicago, or at Sioux Falls drop down to Kansas City. This time we chose to come back through Nebraska and Kansas.   In Nebraska I had two goals; the first was a stop in North Platte to research the next Double Cousins mystery. The other was a visit with my cousin Gordon and his wife Jan at their ranch. Something about that ranch fills a hole in my heart. The hole left when Grandpa moved off the ranch? Maybe. The hole left when Grandpa died? I’m not sure. But what I know is that their hospitality is a challenge and a blessing to me each time I am there. Their love for the stories of our elders, the details of the history of our family, and determination to leave a godly legacy for the children remind me so much of Grandpa and Grandma Jones. And, well . . . there is the fact that Gordon is a horse man, through and through, just like Grandpa, AND the fact that his ranch is right in the place that Grandpa loved more than any other, the Sandhills of Nebraska. We stayed at their home one night.   First we met in Gordon, NE, for pizza before Jan went to work the night shift at the hospital where she is a nurse. (Yes, my cousin Gordon lives outside of Gordon, Nebraska—how cool is that?)  While Jan worked, Gordon, Bruce, and I spent the evening talking about family history:  Gordon found another barn built by our great-grandpa Jones, memories of our grandparents, Grandma’s ability to do what she wanted without making a scene, and the project at hand, the re-publishing of Grandpa Jones’ books. By the time Jan got home in the morning, Gordon had decided he needed to get on the road with some cattle he was moving. A storm was coming. We ate a quick breakfast—delicious cinnamon buns—and Gordon was out the door, a bit ahead of us.   A quick visit, but what great memories. I wish I had taken a picture of Gordon and Bruce talking politics the night before, but I didn’t . You’ll have to imagine that! From there we drove to North Platte where I lived as a child and where Carly, one of the “double cousins”, lives with her...

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Treasured Memories-Books, Boxes, and Hiding Places.

Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Blog, Double Cousins |

Yesterday I called Mom to alert her that some packages would be arriving in the mail. Thanks to online shopping, most of my South Dakota Christmas gifts are on the way. “I’ll call when they’ve all arrived and we can go through them so I can tell you who gets what,” I suggested. “Then if you just stick each one in a plastic grocery bag they will be wrapped.”   We both laughed and Mom assured me she would do something better than that.   You see, a few years ago my now-adult nephew asked me a question. “Aunt Miriam, Why do you wrap our presents? They are always books!” He was right. It is a rare gift-giving opportunity that they receive something besides a book from me. I know which gifts I still have from my aunts and uncles, and they are books.   If that means I no longer have to wrap presents, so be it!   I was reminded of another Christmas the other day when a friend posted a picture of her daughter delighting in the discovery of two boxes of mysteries her mother had stashed in the closet. Buried treasure, indeed! The comment that went with the post was “The expression on Anna’s face when I told her I have boxes of Nancy Drew books up in the closet…priceless!”   That’s what took me back thirty-eight years.   Christmas 1976 we were living in California. Christmas was a bit bizarre in the San Joaquin Valley, mostly because the weather was just not, well—Christmassy! But we persevered. My parents gave each of us a new coat because we needed it. Then, of course they gave us something fun.   I don’t remember what “fun” thing I got, but I definitely remember my brother’s gift. It was stashed in the trunk of the car. Somewhere, at a garage sale my parents found a box of Hardy Boys books.   An entire box.   Now, my brother was one of those kids who read everything in sight and if he couldn’t find fiction, he read the encyclopedias. In fact, I think he sometimes read them first because they had a lot of interesting stuff that he didn’t know yet. I thought he had the most information of any human being stashed in his head until I met my husband, also an encyclopedia reader.   Anyway, after all the gifts in the house were opened Clark sat dejectedly holding his coat. Having a good attitude about getting nothing but a winter coat for Christmas is a hard pill for a nine-year-old to swallow! But then, hope! Daddy took him out to the car and opened the trunk.   Best Christmas gift ever! From dejected to ecstatic in one second!   When I was writing my first book the memory of a box of mysteries in the trunk of a car resurfaced. I combined the Christmas story with the tendency of my great-uncle to bring things to Grandpa’s ranch...

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