Archive for the ‘Christmas Memories’ Category

Christmas in the Rockies

Longs Peak, RMNP, 14, 259 foot elevation, second tallest peak in Colorado.

A view of RMNP peaks off Trail Ridge road.

Lower elevation at the foot of RMNP, a clearing where herds of elk are usually seen grazing. Towards this time of night at sunset hours they will hunker down for the night. The sun was just beginning to go down, and the skies lit up with soft hues of pink and orange. These clouds seemed to descend down upon this peak, and I thought it was an awesome sight to photograph.

Elkhorn Ave. and The ‘Old Church Shops’ in Estes Park lit up for Christmas.

A view of the southeast side of  Estes Park. Notice the large star lit up on the side of the mountain.

 

Sometimes the Christmas season gets hectic with the business of shopping, decorating, program events, parties, and family gatherings. There are times when things came too soon and hurried right after the Thanksgiving Day holiday and often just having a moment to sit and relax with a cup of hot chocolate and a favorite Christmas movie seems like a luxury I don’t have or take time for and regret it later.

But, through the years we have tried to keep a few favorite Christmas traditions and even started new ones as we tried to prioritize what meant the most to us. Things like going up to the mountains to cut and collect our own greenery and pine cone branches to make our own wreath was a favorite event. Browsing through Christmas shops and antique stores to find a new Christmas ornament or antique toy to place under our Christmas tree was another.

But, our favorite thing is to just drive up to the mountains during the holidays and spend the day exploring the territory. This year we went up to Estes Park that sits at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park, then drove up part way to Trail Ridge road. After the first snow storms of the season they close the first gate to the higher elevation areas when snow cannot be cleared and it becomes too dangerous to pass or drive through safely.

I took these shots above this last Friday (12-15) when we went up with our dog, Maggie, had a bison burger and fries at a favorite place and walked around town in Estes Park on our way down before returning home. Making a day of it makes it a special memorable outing. Colorado has not seen too much snow this season thus far, so it is pretty dry along the front range except for brief snowfalls in the higher elevation. Snow skiing is a very big sport industry here in Colorado so the ski slopes are waiting anxiously for some really good snows that keep them busy into spring. But, for those of us who are happy to find just enough to tramp through the white covered ground in brisk temperatures, and see Christmas lights glimmer off its white sheen it is enough to make our day.

I hope your Christmas will be merry and bright, memorable and special. Merry Christmas to all.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

 

The ‘spirit of Christmas’ in historic downtown, Loveland

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I took this shot from across the street of our downtown historic Rialto Theatre. The wind was blowing hard, but the temperature was only about 30+ degrees. Still, we knew the big freeze and frigid arctic blast was on its way into town. Thursday evening was the only good night before the snowstorm hit to walk around downtown, browse through shops and antique stores, then go to dinner at an old-fashioned diner where their specialty is their famous burgers, fries and shakes. Dinner was delicious as we sat by the window looking out onto the street at the traffic pass by under brightly colored Christmas lights. It brought back memories of years gone when we sipped shakes at the corner drug stores and drive-ins.

Although our town is well over 100,000 in population right now, it was only about 28,000 when we moved up here twenty-three years ago. But, the town has tried to maintain a small town atmosphere in the historic district just two miles from home. There is a nostalgic feeling to the old district, and the  ‘spirit of Christmas’ past, present and future in a Charles Dickens like setting. The foothills to the west of town and the towering Rocky Mountains thirty-five miles further west give Loveland the feel and look of an old-fashioned Christmas post card people used to send to family and friends that today can only be found in antique stores.  One of our favorite things to do is browse and shop for nostalgic things, toys and collectibles that I could imagine wrapped up under someone’s tree. Like family traditions kept and adopted down through the years, or things contemporary, old or new every town and place celebrates Christmas in their own way. Merry Christmas to you and yours from Loveland, Co.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

 

Other things I used to do

One of my old 'practice' sketches

One of my old ‘practice’ sketches

 

When I was growing up in Colorado Springs one of the things I loved doing was sketching and drawing. I would take some favorite photographs or pictures of things or people and practice duplicating the image as best I could with a pencil. When in elementary school my teacher would pick me out to do a wall mural or display for the border above the chalkboard. She’d have me climb up onto tables so I could reach the areas since I was so short. One time I was so engrossed in drawing Easter egg baskets, eggs and bunnies that I literally did not notice how close I came to the edge of the table and fell off, much to my embarrassment. I was so embarrassed and afraid to get up and try again for fear of all the kids laughing at my lack of grace and coordination, and abundant clumsiness. But, I did get back up and finish my border art project.

One year while in the fifth grade my teacher had another student act as my ‘model’ so I could sketch him posed like, The Thinker sculpture. There were many highlights during those years when I explored my artistic expression, via pencil, and pen as I began to also ‘write.’  The following year my sixth grade teacher liked my fiction story and told me I should be a ‘writer’ when I grew up. I never got to realize my full potential beyond the point of merely sketching and drawing from photographs, sometimes even trying my hand at oils and watercolors. A dream to go to art school after high school was put aside and I got married. But, I kept what I did in art and through the years would bring out my sketch pad and try some again. The above picture is one I did from an old photo, with all its smudges and eraser marks. My love and interest in watching ballet prompted this sketch a very long, long time ago. 🙂

I recently attended a performance of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet with my daughter and granddaughter which was a tradition at Christmas time with my daughter and I when she was small. This year’s Nutcracker event was the first for my five-year old granddaughter. She loved it, and it will no doubt become an annual event for them now, too. Keeping alive some of those old traditions allows us special quality times to enjoy together.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

 

 

Christmas traditions; old and new

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Our first Christmas, celebrated in 1966, with my parents in L.A., Ca.

Our first Christmas, celebrated in 1966, with my parents in L.A., Ca. One of our little elves is behind us under the tree.

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This year’s Christmas tree.

 

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As this Christmas rolls around and we are decorating I pull out some favorite things we’ve had since our first Christmas together 49 years ago. We have kept some favorite Christmas traditions and things like old ornaments, and a pair of small elves just as special as all the Christmases we’ve had together. Added to those in the last several years are some collected antique Children’s toys that now come out each year and are placed under the tree. The village set I have is arranged and placed in front of my fireplace, and our nativity set, displayed on another table.

Through the years we have collected a large number of tree ornaments of all different kinds. The little silver-colored travel trailer our daughter calls the ‘silver Twinkie’ looks identical to our Airstream travel trailer up on our mountain property. She gave us this one. The little teapots and cup and saucer miniatures hang as reminders of my love for hot spiced tea. Little bear ornaments bought at Yellowstone Nat’l Park and the Grand Canyon bring back memories of those trips. A little yellow lab that looks like our beloved deceased yellow lab, Titus. There are homemade ornaments I’ve created using old eyeglass lenses holding favorite tiny photos of my husband and girls taken many years ago.

A couple of years ago friends gave us a ‘pickle’ ornament that tells the story of the pickle placed on German trees. Children would hunt for the pickle. So, this new ornament and the hunt for the pickle buried among the tree branches was added to our ‘new’ traditions.

As a child growing up I loved the traditional old Christmas carols sung in church. There were caroling parties,  nativity plays and programs we were in, dressed in angel costumes. The special choir and orchestra concerts performed each year of Handel’s Messiah or other Christmas cantatas told the story of Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem. I sang in some while singing in church or school choirs.

As the years went by some traditions we kept while adopting new ones, like taking our youngest daughter to go see the Boulder Ballet and Longmont symphony orchestra perform the Nutcracker, and going to a dinner theater show at a local venue. They all held a special place in our heart as we celebrated Christmas.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

Memories from Christmas’ past

My sisters and I one Christmas, a very long time ago. I am the youngest and smallest one.

My sisters and I one Christmas, a very long time ago. I am the youngest and smallest one.

 

Fudge cooking on the stove, hot steaming cocoa with floating plump marshmallows, taffy pulls, popcorn balls, caroling, recitals and Christmas pageants with new taffeta dresses, candles lit in window sills and trees with bright bulbs and multi-colored lights.  Sneaking around, spying in the attic for those illusive hidden presents I found. The memories linger like the smell of my mother’s fudge and Christmas cookies.

Listening for ‘sleigh bells’, thumps or bumps of Santa’s landing on roof tops and reindeer hooves touching down are the things I imagined, but never saw. Like any child I believed in Santa too. In the town I was from (Colorado Springs) there is a favorite popular Christmas place, North Pole. It is a magical Christmas village full of little cottages, toy stores, confections and the smells of all kinds of sweet treats, a real herd of reindeer, sleigh and of course a Santa Clause and Mrs. Clause. I loved visiting Santa there, but knew eventually that he did not really fly around the world in a sleigh on Christmas Eve. There came a day when I spotted Santa walking down Main street wearing a business suit, just like a scene from one of my favorite movies, Miracle on 34th St. I was older then, and knew the truth about his ‘job’ as the Santa at North Pole, but he brought so much happiness to children with his gentle nature, warm embrace, love and generosity to children like me before his death. Yet, ‘Santa’s legend lives on.

But, there is another one I came to believe in more as I listened to the story told and retold of a baby born to a virgin Mary in the little town of Bethlehem, Israel over 2,000 years ago. He became more real to me than any imaginative friend I could have dreamed of.  I learned how He loves me, lives on, will never die or leave me, and is always there for me. He sacrificed his life for us all so we could know him in a way that surpasses any imagined, or anyone who ever lived. That baby was Jesus, a Savior and Redeemer born to all the world. He is the reason I celebrate this Christmas, then and now, as I came to know Him, personally. His story is found in Luke, chapter 2, New Testament Bible, not a legend, but a truth, real, and God’s gift to us that lives on, continues to give and be received.

I wish all my blogger friends, readers and followers out there a very blessed and Merry Christmas, and a happy, prosperous year in 2015. Thank you for reading, commenting and following my site. It has been a wonderful journey as I traveled the country and globe with you through this site and yours.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

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