The Beauty Around Us

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Christmas 2018

We celebrated Christmas three times.

Christmas celebration #1 was held on Sunday at my brother and sister-in-law’s home.  We left our home in Warren PA at 10:30 am en route Jim and Judy’s house. Jim and Judy live about an hour’s drive north of Pittsburgh. We arrived at Jim and Judy’s house at 1:00 pm.  We thought we were the last to arrive.  But that was not the case.  While we were filling our plates, Judy’s brother Donald and his wife Gina arrived.  Others who came to Christmas dinner, in addition to Jim and Judy, Donald and Gina and Bob and I, were our nephew Michael, his wife Kailey and their three children; our nephew Jared, his wife Sara and their two children; Sara’s parents; and Judy’s mother.  Our niece Emily and her husband Dan and their daughter, who live in Minnesota, were not able to join us this year.  Christmas dinner included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, noodles, sweet potatoes, pickled eggs, and corn.  Dessert included pumpkin pie, chocolate dream pie, cookies and a gingerbread cake.  We departed Jim and Judy’s house at 3:30 pm, as gifts were being opened.  Bob and I did not participate in the gift exchange; however, Judy made sure I didn’t leave empty handed. 

Judy made this wooden sign for me. Great job, Judy, and THANK YOU!

We returned home at 6:00 pm.  It was good to see my brother and his family and the others.  We had a very good visit with everyone.

Christmas celebration #2 was held on Monday at Stacey’s house.  We left home at 1:30 pm and arrived at Stacey’s house about 15 minutes later.  Chris (Stacey’s mother) and Jay arrived a short time later.  Our dinner included roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and, for dessert, apple pie, ambrosia, and brownies.  Harper and Juniper received a surprise visit from Santa Claus.

Santa Claus is showing our granddaughters that their names are on his nice list.

Santa Claus brought the girls early Christmas presents.

Harper and Juniper with Santa Claus

Stacey, Chris, Jay and I knew Santa Claus would be stopping by.  Nevertheless Santa Claus took Stacey and me by surprise.  We expected Santa to come to the front door.  Instead he came to the back door.  We heard bells and “ho-ho-ho” a short while before he made an appearance.  At first we didn’t know what we were hearing.  To me the noise sounded like it was coming from a radio.  Stacey and I got up from the table (we were finishing up dinner) and walked into the kitchen.  We were looking out the kitchen window, when Santa’s face appeared.  He startled us!

After dinner we opened gifts.  Everyone was happy with their gifts.

I took a few pictures, after we opened our gifts.

“Big Grandma” Chris and her granddaughters

“Big Grandma” Chris, Grandma Linda, and our granddaughters

Stacey and her daughters

While we were at Stacey’s house, it snowed. 

Snow fell on Christmas Eve!

It stayed cold through Christmas Day, so we had a white Christmas.

Christmas celebration #3 was at our home on Christmas Day, with only Bob and I in attendance.  Bob and I opened our Christmas gifts to each other in the morning.  We are happy with our respective gifts.  I prepared Christmas dinner, which we ate around 2:00 pm.  Christmas dinner included baked ham, baked potato, whole berry cranberry sauce, cauliflower and broccoli medley and, for dessert, pumpkin pie.  The ham was a spiral ham.  We have lots of ham leftovers!

’Twas a very merry Christmas for Bob and me. We spent the Christmas holiday with the people who mean the most to us.  We are so blessed!

 

 

 

 

A Visit from Santa’s Elf

On December 8th Bob’s sister, Cynthia, sent us a Facebook message.  Cynthia asked us where we would go if we could take the motorcycle and ride together to one of our favorite places to take photos.  Cynthia said that this was a VERY serious question.  We had to be sure we knew the answer we both agreed on, because once we decided, we could not change it!  After a few minutes of thought, Bob and I told Cynthia that we would go to the Finger Lakes Region, in particular Watkins Glen, New York.

Last night we received another Facebook message from Cynthia.  She wrote that we “must be on the “nice” list.. Santa sent me a message…’I could deliver it later tomorrow (Tues 12/23) or Wednesday 12/24.’ When will someone be home?” Bob told Cynthia that I would be here all day today, as well as Wednesday. Cynthia said that Santa would be at our house between 3 and 4 today.

Santa’s elf, not Santa, came to our house a little after 3:30 pm today. Now, IF Santa’s elf had been dressed as an elf, a photograph would have been in order. Santa’s elf, however, was dressed in civilian attire and arrived via a privately owned vehicle. Santa’s elf brought Bob and me a Christmas gift. Because the package did NOT say “do not open before Christmas”, we opened the package.

 

IMG_3468
Inside the package was a lovely portrait of our cat, Patches, that
Cynthia commissioned Ellen Paquette to paint for us.

It looks like Patches posed for the painting. The likeness is amazing.  Look closely at the painting.  Do you see the camera? the motorcycle? Watkins Glen Gorge?  What a WONDERFUL surprise!  Thank you, Cynthia, for such a perfect Christmas present!  Mrs. Paquette does extraordinary work!

Oh, who was Santa’s elf?  Santa’s elf was the artist herself, Ellen Paquette!

Hometown Christmas Parade

Bob and I attended Warren’s annual Christmas parade yesterday evening.  The parade route ran from the south end of Market Street, along Pennsylvania Avenue West, and disbanded north on Hickory Street.

Parademap

Photograph obtained from Times Observer newspaper
(Please click on image for larger size)

There was a very good turnout for the parade.  Weather reports called for rain during the evening.  The “parade angels” must have been watching over us, as the rain held off until the end of the parade.  A very light rain began to fall shortly after the end of the parade.

We watched the parade at “the point”’ in front of the Heritage Fountain (Special Event #3 shown on map above).  We watched the parade with friends.

Some of our friends

I took both of these photographs, while we were waiting for the parade to begin.

More friends

The parade began at 6:30 pm and reached our location approximately 20 minutes later.

John Gertsch Memorial Post Color guard

Youth Connection

Warren Area High School Marching Band

Relay for Life parade float

Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts

Brett Fallon (dancer)

Here comes Santa Claus
and Mrs. Claus!

This year’s parade was sponsored and coordinated by the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry (WCCBI) and the Warren Times Observer.  A big thank you to both organizations, as they did an excellent job with the parade.

As soon as the parade ended the Christmas tree was lit.  The Christmas tree stood in front of the Heritage Fountain, located near from where we watched the parade.  There was no tree lighting ceremony, as was expected.  The tree lights just came on, with no fanfare.  The Christmas tree was the only night’s disappointment, not only for the lack of a tree lighting ceremony.  I, along with others who were standing around me, felt that whomever decorated the tree could have done a better job.

the lit Christmas tree

Our friends dispersed after the tree lighting. We returned to our car and drove home.

 

 

 

Company Christmas Party

Bob and I attended his company Christmas party this past Saturday eveninbg.  The company Christmas party is a function that I look forward to.  The companionship of friends, the Christmas decorations, a festive atmosphere and entertainment go a long way toward getting me into the holiday spirit.

As we entered the company’s recreation center, we dropped off a bag of non-perishable food items in one of the collection boxes located inside the building. Bob’s company is having a food drive to help those less fortunate. The food collected will be given to the Salvation Army for distribution locally in time for Christmas.

We enjoyed the company of many friends, especially those who sat at our table. There were six seated at our table — Tom and Liz (Bob and Tom graduated high school together), Ron and his friend Angie, and Bob and I.

Tom and Liz

Angie and Ron

Bob and I
(Liz took this picture of the two of us.)

Of those sitting at our table, I knew only Ron and, of course, Bob.  Tom, Liz and Angie were friendly and sociable. We enjoyed a variety of conversation with those seated at our table. We socialized with friends at other tables as well.

Our dinner was prepared by Wells Hog Wild BBQ.  Appetizers were served at 6:00 PM and included veggie trays, smoked sausage and cheese platters and meatballs in BBQ sauce.   Shortly before dinner was served, the huge Christmas tree was lit and a word of prayer was said. Dinner was served shortly after 6:30 PM.  The banquet table was filled with delicious entrees of beef, chicken and pork as well as side dishes of mixed green salad & dressing, dinner rolls and butter, corn, baked beans, and red potatoes.   For dessert we had a selection of different flavored cupcakes from Fifth Avenue Cake Works.  The chocolate cupcake with peanut butter icing was delicious!  The bottom of the cupcake was a flat cookie, an Oreo I think.  Inside the cupcake was a miniature Reese’s peanut butter cup.

Christmas carols were provided by the Warren Area High School Madrigal Choir under the direction of Rob Pearce.

WAHS Madrigals Performance

After the Madrigal Choir’s performance, we were entertained by Stand-up Comedian Vic Henley.  Mr. Henley was funny; there was much laughter throughout his performance.

The show was followed by the music of Logan Black of Pitch Black DJ Service.  Everyone at our table left the party soon after the music started. Neither Bob nor I dance. We find it difficult to talk over the music, so we always leave the party soon after the music starts.

We received unexpected news during the party.  In addition to having Christmas Day off work, Bob and his coworkers will have the day after Christmas off, with pay, as well!  It is not unusual for the company for which Bob works to give its employees the day before or the day after Christmas off, when Christmas falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday.  I can’t remember employees having the day off after Christmas, when Christmas Day falls on a Wednesday!

 

Here Comes Santa Claus

Bob and I attended Warren’s annual Christmas parade and walk yesterday evening.  Weather reports called for an ice and snow mix during the evening.  The only precipitation that fell was a little bit of snow.  The snow began, as the parade started. What a magical feeling!  This year’s parade was sponsored and coordinated by the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry (WCCBI) and the Warren Times Observer.  The two organizations did an excellent job.

ChristmasParade

Bob and I watched the parade and the lighting of the Christmas tree.  We then went home.  Many people stayed after the parade, enjoying the many special events held in the downtown area.  Special events included live music, refreshments, horse-drawn trolley rides and, of course, visits with Santa Claus.

 

 

Kira’s Christmas Photo Shoot

I had a Christmas photo shoot yesterday afternoon at a friend’s home. My photo subject was an adorable 3-year-old Maltese named Kira.

Kira’s Christmas Photo Shoot

My friend and Kira’s owner, Cheryl, and I worked together to get Kira to pose on a stool covered with a blanket.  I photographed Kira quickly,  before she moved.  Kira is a wild little girl; she was very excited about getting her picture taken.  I think she liked the experience, though.  As I packed up my camera to go home, Kira made boisterous attempts to get into my closed camera bag.  I think she wanted me to take more pictures!  Cheryl will be printing one or more photographs to put in Christmas cards for those who have not yet seen Kira.

Christmas Day

We celebrated Christmas with our daughter, Stacey, her husband Mike and our two granddaughters, Harper and June, this afternoon.  Christmas dinner included baked ham, scalloped potatoes, tossed salad, dinner rolls, and green beans.  For dessert we had coconut cream pie.  After dinner we exchanged Christmas presents, and I took a few pictures in front of  the Christmas tree.

Later we sat around the kitchen table, while Bob played a couple tunes on the mandolin.  Harper and June listened and watched intently.

Several weeks ago I borrowed an old L.L. Bean sled from a friend. We finally had snow that stayed on the ground long enough for me to get a photograph of Harper and June riding a sled for the first time.

It was a very short ride. The girls were tired. In fact, doesn’t it look like June could fall asleep right there on the sled?

I hope that your Christmas was as enjoyable as was ours!

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