Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

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)

AND HIS NAME SHALL BE CALLED

AND HIS NAME SHALL BE CALLED

Nestled snugly to her breasts the baby wrapped in cloth

was cradled in his mother’s arms, her voice comforting and soft.

The beating of her heart, her milk and warm embrace

left him feeling so content when he looked into her face.

Livestock gathered near to ward off wind and chill;

They shared their sheltered space quiet, cold and still.

Heaven’s glory filled the skies immersing them in joy.

Radiant beams of light gushed towards the baby boy.

The story of his birth was heard throughout the land,

“The prophesied Messiah is born in Bethlehem.”

People came from all around to see the child king,

“Where is he that is born those angels about him sing?”

There was much rejoicing as shepherds ran to see

the baby born to the world, the prophesied to be.

Magi heard the news traveling from places far

with gifts for the baby king guided by the star.

Kneeling before the Savior they stretched out hands in praise;

God’s unfolding gift of love, how awesome His wondrous ways.

Mary pondered all these things and marveled how, that He

from one; a virgin came the Son of God, Jesus, Majesty.

***********

MERRY CHRISTMAS, ALL!  

Joyce E. Johnson (2013)

Footnotes: Although I published this post last Christmas I am re-posting it again with my wishes to all for a very blessed and wonderful Christmas and a happy new year in 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)

Lost at Sea – Part 3, conclusion

This is a an old lobster trap on the porch of a visitors center in Digby, Nova Scotia where lobster and scallops fishing remains one of the biggest occupations there with people living on the coast.

 

 

The movement was slight, but unmistakable.

“There! See that?”

“Got it. Lower us down. It’s too rocky, unsteady to set down the copter.”

“It’s Ingram. He’s alive. Caught and tangled in his own traps under a downed tree. We’ll have to pull him free.”

They radioed the pilot. “Send down the hoist pulley.”

“It’s tied on. Now! Easy! Lift him out, carefully. I think he’s got broken ribs. Not sure what else.”

Good. Now, let’s get him secured in the basket.”

They radioed back. “Take him up. Gently!

“I’ll let them know we’ve found him.”

It was Christmas.

Carolers gathered around the old hall. “Joy to the world…” They sang. “and heaven and nature sing…”

Ingram pulled Henry up onto his lap. “Henry, this is for you.”

Henry ripped open his present, his blue eyes as big and bright as the lights on the tree.

The miniature clipper was just like the one he let go the day he sent it out to sea.

Wow! Look, mama! It’s my boat.”

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Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Footnotes:  All photos used for this 3 part story are ones I took while on a trip to Nova Scotia, Canada many years ago. You can find part 1 and 2 of Lost at Sea previously posted.

The Night Before Christmas

Santa Claus

Santa Claus (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)


It was the night before Christmas when asleep in our house

I awoke with the sound of my snoring spouse.

I tried to sleep snuggled down in my bed.

But, it was no use; even covered my head.

So, I went to the kitchen, and put on the kettle,

to brew me some tea, and sit down to settle.

With my cup and a book I headed for my chair.

Then I heard a noise that gave me a scare.

What did I just see? I stopped to stare.

There plopped old Santa sitting astride

a floor full of toys with instructions beside.

A puzzled expression creased his dimpled, flushed face.

He looked so natural by the fireplace.

His round robust frame looked to pop like a cork,

when hearing my steps from the kitchen I came.

With no place to hide, and caught in his folly

he lumbered up getting caught in the holly.

Fallen from the mantle the garland like wreath

fell to his feet with the cookies beneath.

Spread out on the floor lay assorted parts,

nuts and bolts, tools and more.

But, he went to work assembling the toys;

a bicycle, a scooter, and robot for the boys.

A doll house, a tea set he checked off his list,

things my kids said, “Please don’t forget.”

In spite of the sight and comical scene,

He left such a mess I will have to clean.

But, I tiptoed away with my cup of tea

to give old Santa sprawled out by the tree

space to work, for he looked so perplexed.

Now, I vaguely remember falling asleep

curled up in my chair not hearing a peep.

When I woke in the morn on Christmas day

I tried to remember, Did I really see Santa,

Or did I just dream about a jolly old man,

who happened this way? Then I heard my kids squeal

with excitement and say, “Mom! Come see

what Santa brought us today.”

***********

Poem by: Joyce E. Johnson – 2012


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