Monday, December 26, 2022

Holiday Traditions

You don't have to be famous to have a stable of paparazzi clicking away trying to capture the perfect shot. 

My mom's birthday and our family's Christmas Eve gathering have a good share of "Smile!" "Look this way!" and "Wait! Just one more!"

This was the first year since 2019 that all 32 of us were together. Covid canceled the whole affair in 2020. My family was absent last year, also due to Covid. So it was even sweeter to be together this year. 

My mom celebrated her 87th birthday on December 24.  Ever since the grandchildren were little, we've been taking a photo of the birthday girl with the troops.The first one with all seven of the grandchildren was in 1994.

From left: Abby, Brian, Blake, Mom holding Madison, Jill, Brent & Paige

The grandchildren shot is easier these days. They can even look the same direction. 

Now, my parents' 10 great-grandchildren are the little kids in the Christmas/birthday photos. But that gets easier every year, too.

December 24, 2022: Front row: Pratt, Mom, Dad, Clara and Cole. Back row: Benson, Holte, Braden, Neelly, Beau, Brooke & Kinley

Here was the 2017 version of the great-grandchild shot. See? I told you it was easier these days.

A few years ago, someone suggested an "outlaw" photo. So they got in on the photos this year, too. 

This was the entire gathering - minus my niece, Madison, who took the photo. 

Several years ago, we moved the evening meal to the shed to accommodate the crowd. I'm thankful to my brother and his wife, Kent & Suzanne, for the work they do to make it possible. 

It was good to be together.

We had our immediate family Christmas on Friday. The Ladds came a day earlier than expected to avoid the worst of the weather. While Jill and Eric worked remotely on Thursday, we still found some things to do. 

The girls also helped me make our traditional Oreo Cheesecake for our Christmas dessert, but I missed getting photos of that. 

It was a very Merry Christmas! 


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Christmas Greetings from Our House to Yours


I know that Christmas card letters have their share of detractors. But, I love getting cards and letters from people at this time of year. Even in this electronic communication age, I send quite a few Christmas cards. It's been a way for me to keep in touch of childhood friends and college buddies, along with sending greetings to landlords and family members across the U.S. and seasoning's greetings to neighbors. It seems we get fewer in return each year. I get it: We connect via social media. And the price of stamps continues to climb. Still, I love Christmas cards.

I've been involved in Christmas photo cards for most of my life. It's a family tradition. I starred in my very first one in 1957, as a 6-month-old baby.
By the time 1958 rolled around, I was already sharing space with my sister, Lisa, on the annual missive from Bob and Janis.

Though my brother, Kent, was born in December 1966, he didn't make the Christmas card until 1967. This is the first photo card with all my siblings. I would have been 10, Lisa, 9, Darci, 6 and Kent was 1.
My parents included their children on the family Christmas card until we graduated from college. Randy and I sent our first photo card in 1981, the year we were married.
We didn't send another photo card until 1985, the year Jill was born. It was only natural, I suppose, that we continued the tradition with our own children.
Christmas Card Photo - Jill - 1985
We sent one with the three of us in 1986, when Jill was 15 months old. After that, I usually stayed on the other side of the camera and just included the kids. (When you're the one doing the work, you get the most votes.)
Christmas Card Photo - 1986
The first one with Brent was in 1988. Brent would have been about 7 months and Jill was 3.
Christmas Card Photo - 1988
Back when Jill and Brent were little, this annual attempt was captured on film. And you weren't sure what you'd gotten until the film was developed. I have rolls and rolls of film chronicling the misadventures of getting two little kids to look their best in the same frame. The move to digital photography makes the storage problem easier - though it can't help everyone look great in every frame.

This year, we had the opportunity for several rounds of family photos, including Brent's and Susan's wedding in May and our farm machinery sale in August. Our retirement trip to National Parks also made the cut for the annual photo card with a snapshot taken by a Grand Canyon park ranger. 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! 

Peace on earth, good will toward all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The Music of the Season


There's just something about Christmas music that helps set the mood. Whether it's practicing the piano solos I play for church service preludes myself or singing "Joy to the World!" with people from several different churches during a community Christmas service, it just wouldn't be the same without the music of the season.

This month has been rich in music of all types - from school programs to church to professional musicians. And it's made my month "harmonious" - so to speak. 

Our first concert was at Wichita's Orpheum Theater. It featured pianist Jim Brickman with father-daughter singing duo, Mat and Savanna Shaw. The Shaws began recording videos during the pandemic, and I'm a big fan. I hate to admit it, but I was less familiar with Jim Brickman, though he's had a long and storied career as a solo pianist. But the whole thing concert was great. (They sang the song on the video above during the Wichita concert. However, I was a good girl and didn't record or take photos during the concert since the audience was asked to resist that urge. Still, I wanted to give you a taste of what we enjoyed that night. I love the message of the song!)

I did take the photo of the piano before the concert ever started, and I love the black and white version.

The other professional concert was a last-minute addition to my schedule, thanks to my friend and PEO sister, Okema, who had an extra ticket to The Texas Tenors. 

That concert was last Saturday night at the Fox Theater in Hutchinson. 

And surprise! Her tickets were on the third row. 

Before the concert began, the general manager gave the go-ahead for photos, though he said audio and video recordings were prohibited. These three classically-trained tenors were fantastic. I'd seen them on television several times, but I'd never attended a concert in person.

Again, the lighting for the show added to the beauty of the music.  Their pianist was phenomenal, too. (That level of talent kind of makes this amateur a little "green" with envy - though I suppose green is an appropriate color for the season).

I promise I didn't record it myself, but I found their same rendition of "O Holy Night!" on YouTube.


But it doesn't have to be professional musicians to get me in the mood for Christmas. We also got to go to Kinley's and Brooke's school music concerts. 

 Brooke's was first up. There were four classrooms of second graders on stage that evening.

Brooke had a speaking part and did a great job.

Kinley's fifth grade music concert was the following night. In their school district, fifth graders must choose one of three options: choir, band or orchestra. I was surprised at how few chose choir, but Kinley was one of them.

She played the jingle bells in one song.

 And this was a small video clip from a crowd-pleasing song. 

Grandma had to have a photo of Kinley and Summer at home before we left for the concert.

And Kinley went along with a photo on stage after the concert, too. How'd she get to be so grown-up looking?

It's been a wonderful month of music - and it's not over yet!


I seem to have taken an unplanned hiatus from blogging. I had several homemade Christmas presents that took a lot of time and effort. I don't feel all that retired, since I continue to complete my weekday KFRM radio reports and devote a lot of volunteer hours to the church and other community ventures. So blogging fell by the wayside for a bit. As my Facebook memories have surfaced this month, I've also noticed a lot of cattle moving and feeding blog posts. I am thankful that I'm retired from the feed truck with wind chills forecast at well-below zero later this week!