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My True Christmas Story

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I have posted this here in past Christmases, so I apologize if anyone is getting tired of hearing it!

One year, after my sons had gone to live and work on their own and Christmas was approaching, I was looking around trying to think of what to buy my husband for Christmas. After I while I realized I was really trying hard to dream up a gift for him. I knew he’d be having an even harder time thinking of what to give me.

This got me to thinking about the whole meaning of giving and of Christmas. I’ll try not to make this terribly long, but this is the idea that came to me and what we actually did for Christmas that year -

My husband was a Game Warden. He often confiscated game killed illegally. What happens to it? We tried giving it to facilities like orphanages, but too many government and health regulations kept that from happening. So he always had a list of people he found who were down on their luck and needed food for their families. Most were country boys who could come retrieve the game and dress it and prepare it for eating. This included venison, wild duck, goose, quail, doves, sometimes fish.

Many of these people in our rural area supported their families off the land, too. They hunted and trapped and sold hides. So Jim would also stop when he saw a hide-bearing animal on the roadside - hit by a car - retrieve it and give it to someone so they could sell the hide. This little extra money made a big difference to some families.

Christmas was close and Jim found a huge raccoon that had been killed so he took it to the house of a construction worker who had hurt his back and was out of work. He knew the man would get a nice sum of money for it, enough to buy a few groceries for his wife and 5 kids. The next week Jim stopped by the man’s house and the kids came running out to greet him. One little boy said, “Mr. Jim. Thanks so much for the raccoon. We haven’t had meat in a long time.”

When Jim told me this, we were both horrified. These people were not only eating something most of us wouldn’t, it was a road kill, intended for the hide sale only. But they hadn’t wasted any of it! I’ve eaten roasted raccoon and it’s ok, but not what I look forward to having for dinner, and certainly not when it’s picked up off the roadside.

So here is the plan I put forward to my husband: This year we will not exchange gifts. We will use the money we would have spent on each other and we’ll buy groceries for this man’s family. The important parts of this are:

1. We are not just giving food to a poor family at Christmas. We are doing this instead of giving to each other. You and I will NOT exchange gifts.

2. We will not tell anyone about this.
A part of the Bible that has always made a huge impression on me is Matthew, Chapter 6, Vs 1-7. To put it in the vernacular - Do your good works in secret, don’t blow your own horn. You can read it here: tiny.cc/verse

There was a friend at our house when we were discussing this. He did not like the idea because this man was often arrested for one thing or another - misdemeanor crimes. Jim knew lots of people like this and helped them feed their families anyway. They knew if he caught them breaking the law, he’d take them to jail and then take some food to their families. We talked about it for a while and before he left, our friend added his own money to the contribution.

SO, on December 23rd, I left work early and went to the grocery store. I mentally prepared meals for that family of parents and 5 children - 7 days worth, and bought everything that would be needed to prepare them all. That included a turkey dinner for Christmas day and dessert and candy for the kids. I had more than one grocery cart filled. Christmas Eve morning Jim delivered the entire load, including cash we had collected from our friend. I didn’t go.

He came home crying. The gratitude of the entire family just overwhelmed him. It overwhelmed me, too. The father came to our house later to thank me himself and tell me how hard times had been and what this meant to his family. I can’t tell you the deep joy that filled me that Christmas. It was THE most wonderful Christmas I ever had. It became a tradition I repeated many times, but that first time was the most awesome.

So why am I telling you about this now? I want you, most of all, to hear the SEQUEL. The very next year, this man and his family were in better shape. He came to our house again, to let us know that he and his family were doing the same thing for someone they knew that was in bad shape! He was so thankful to us, not only for the gift of food and money, but for the gift of the GIFT. Of seeing the GIFT in action. I went on to hear, in subsequent years, how the GIFT was being passed on, throughout a community of working poor, and yes, people who were often in our jail for one thing or another. Still people with families to feed and needs to be met.

Even though we didn’t tell anyone what we did, the word spread around, mostly through a community of people that most good citizens ignored or wouldn’t associate with. I still hear about it now and then, 25 yrs later. I certainly still reap benefits un-imagined from it. The memory of that first time still gives me chills.

That’s my Christmas Story.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GRANJERRY1 12/31/2013 6:28AM

    Karen, was lovely reading this……
God Bless you for the action to touch so many lives………..
This is indeed the true spirit of Christmas

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ZEEDRA 12/28/2013 1:49PM

    I remember the story, Karen, but don't stop telling it...there might be new people reading it.
I thought I was getting a notice when a friend created a new blog but I'm not. I'm glad that I decided to check. And glad my list of Spark friends isn't long. Easier for me with my kind of brain to keep track.
Here's to all your good memories of Jim!

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PROVERBS31JULIA 12/23/2013 12:53AM

    It's a great experience for you (and by the way, I *LOVE* the freesia photo in your background - I'm breathing deeply now wishing for a scent of it!! Ahhhhh)...

It's sad that so many take the "Christmas" message and make it a one day only thing, when I believe it should be year round... as much as possible. And you are so right to just keep the matter private, instead of tooting your horn. There's that saying I keep seeing around on Facebook etc., something about Giving to those who could never repay you. But those good works DO ripple out across the neighborhood, the country, the universe...


I hope you have wonderful visits with your family and friends during this time of the year.

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GABY1948 12/22/2013 2:51PM

    This is a beautiful story and I am glad you posted it again! emoticon

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BELTONWALKER67 12/22/2013 10:25AM

    A beautiful story and one that we never get tired of hearing. This is the true meaning of Christmas and a gift that just keeps growing as many people will be sharing their part of the story through the years. Thank you for sharing at this very special time of the year. Merry Christmas!

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AWESOMECHELZ 12/22/2013 7:47AM

    While reading your blog, I felt tears forming in my eyes and heart. I was preparing a Christmas lesson today for Sunday School, ages. 8-11, and your story touched my heart and it is something that I can share with them, with the lesson. Thanks for sharing this with us today.

I live alone and have no family, and often feel stressed prior to Christmas day. On Christmas day itself, no matter what's happening in my life, I always feel the Spirit touching my soul and peace. I know God is there with me, for me. So I can't wait for Christmas day and I thank you for sharing your Spirit of Christmas. God bless you. emoticon emoticon

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LADYRH 12/22/2013 7:37AM

    Karen what a beautiful gift that is still giving 25 years later. This is the true meaning of Christmas/ Thanks for sharing.

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IMLOCOLINDA 12/22/2013 3:16AM

    What a beautiful story about the true meaning of giving. Thank you so much for sharing!

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JENNY888 12/22/2013 1:14AM

    Such a beautiful story. I'm really glad you posted it again Karen.

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KAHLAD1 12/21/2013 9:20PM

    Such a wonderful Christmas story! God bless you!

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MORTICIAADDAMS 12/21/2013 9:16PM

    We have done something similar. We also like to keep a low profile about it. I worked with a woman who had a house full of children and a disabled hubby to support. They were poor and ate everything - even things I've never heard people eat before, like starlings. People would take them all kinds of dead animals and she would cook them. Raccoon, possums, carp, etc. She was a wonderful cook actually but many of us were afraid to eat what she prepared as we were not sure it is something we would want to eat. LOL!

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FISHINGLADY66 12/21/2013 5:54PM

    That's a wonderful story Karen. The biggest Wonder is the truth and caring and giving that you did. This world would be much better off with more people like you. God Bless you.

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Megan and the Scorpion

Friday, December 13, 2013

My GD Megan practicing her Scorpion!

Youth is a beautiful thing, isn't it?


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GRANJERRY1 12/31/2013 6:24AM

    Wow…. amazing agility…… I had learned a dance called Bharatanatyam and did similar steps…. some 70 odd years ago…..

You said it, youth is beautiful.

May the Lord Bless the child with health and long life.

Mani emoticon

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BECKYSFRIEND 12/15/2013 9:41AM

    makes me ache just looking-she's amazing

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JUDY1676 12/13/2013 10:50PM

    Amazing and beautiful! IF I could get in that pose, I would probably be taken to the hospital!

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WOUBBIE 12/13/2013 8:47PM

    Sorry, couldn't do that even in my youth!

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AKHEIDI 12/13/2013 5:57PM

    I did that once. ONCE! lol

She's a beauty!

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GABY1948 12/13/2013 1:37PM

    It sure is! Makes me hurt to see her do this! She looks healthy! Good for you guys instilling health in her so young!!!!

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CAT-IN-CJ 12/13/2013 1:37PM

    Afraid I'd have to be rendered unconscious to get into that pretzel.

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PJSTIME 12/13/2013 12:40PM

    Beautiful but I couldn't have done this even when I was young. I hope she continues to keep in shape she will never regret it.

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FISHINGLADY66 12/13/2013 12:05PM

    You have a lovely GD. I don't think I could have ever done that. emoticon Youth is a beautiful thing.

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ZEEDRA 12/13/2013 10:35AM

Unfortunately, I have Scorpiophobia. I have a fear of bringing my knee any higher than my hip and my feet any higher than my knee as well.

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MORTICIAADDAMS 12/13/2013 10:10AM

    Excellent!! My scorpion died a long time ago. LOL.

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VEGIBIKER 12/13/2013 9:53AM

    wow. Yeah - I don't think I'll try that one. Youth is pretty awesome

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

WHO trims those hedges?

Words not needed.

Party Boat (I'm sorry SP doesn't let this photo come through in a larger size so you can see the beauty of this boat with every sail lighted.)


Equal time.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZEEDRA 12/3/2013 6:22PM

    I Like!

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KINEPS 12/1/2013 5:21PM

  Thanks for sharing!! I can't imagine how long it took to decorate tall those sails!

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PURPLELVR7 11/29/2013 9:49AM

    emoticon emoticon

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PJSTIME 11/28/2013 5:20PM

    Love the pictures. Hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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ZEEDRA 11/28/2013 5:01PM

    Thanks! Fun and beautiful (remind you of anyone? Hahahaha!)

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LADYRH 11/28/2013 5:51AM

    emoticon Karen, thanks for sharing.

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GABY1948 11/27/2013 8:25PM

    What a BEAUTIFUL blog, Karen! Thank you so much for sharing!

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FISHINGLADY66 11/27/2013 6:54PM

    Oh how lovely,. Thank you for sharing these.

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MORTICIAADDAMS 11/27/2013 6:26PM

    Loved the pictures!!

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Monday, November 11, 2013

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZEEDRA 11/12/2013 10:28AM

    A dog's devotion is unbelievable. I'm so glad that soldiers and veterans have a companion/healing program now. It sounds like adoptees are needed for when the soldiers or veterans pass away.

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LADYRH 11/12/2013 6:36AM

    Karen thanks for sharing and caring.

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FISHINGLADY66 11/11/2013 8:38PM

    Thanks for these heart touching photos. They bring tears to my eyes also.
God Bless America and all our troops.

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DEMETERSCO 11/11/2013 2:16PM

    Beautiful photos - tears in my eyes♥

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PJSTIME 11/11/2013 12:52PM

    Thanks Karen for posting these pics. God Bless all our veterans.

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MORTICIAADDAMS 11/11/2013 12:22PM

    Loved the pictures and the message. God bless our troops.

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GABY1948 11/11/2013 11:51AM

    emoticon emoticon God Bless them ALL!

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MIMIDOT 11/11/2013 11:33AM

    Well said! Bless our veterans!

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VINGRAM 11/11/2013 11:02AM

    emoticon emoticon

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ERINLINDSAY83 11/11/2013 10:57AM

    Thank you for sharing this. God bless our Veterans and their families!


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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Two teenagers go to the store for their parents. Mom has given them a list of items to pick up for her. They are gone a very long time. Finally they return and do you know what took them so long?

They could not read the list! They are both honor students! Why couldn’t they read that list?

It was written in CURSIVE!

Forty-five out of fifty states have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a set of state-led educational standards. Texas, one of the five who has yet to adopt the Standards, has found one major flaw in them – they do not include cursive writing instruction as part of elementary school curriculum.

You can find information about this topic all over the internet. Here’s one example:

Our kids won’t be able to read the love letters or war diaries of their parents and grandparents.

How much history is WRITTEN in cursive?

How many ways will our kids miss out that we can’t even think of right now, because they can’t read cursive? If a kid wants to be a cop, let’s hope she doesn’t come across a suicide note or ransom note written in cursive, hmmm? She’ll have to call for a translator! There are a thousand more examples out there in life and will be for a very long time.

The proponents of omitting cursive from school curriculums say it is more important for students to learn to use keyboards so they can survive in a technological age. I’m all for technology. I love it. I use my ipod, ipad, iphone and streaming movies every day. But can’t they learn BOTH?

Are schools promoting PROGRESS or are they FAILING our kids? Won't they be losing a large part of their heritage?

I love new tech toys, but somehow not passing on the art of cursive writing seems like a mistake to me. Time will tell, I guess.

What do you think?

And tell me, is this happening in other countries? Or was this "Born in the USA?"


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IMAVISION 12/8/2013 11:01PM

    In regard to the statement that cursive isn't used --- I use it daily --- I used it as an elementary school teacher & was happy that it was part of mandated lessons. Actually, I started my teaching career at a Rehab Center, where I taught an after school program for high school students in need of learning to write more clearly in cursive.

I believe that there should be a national standard in education.

I, also, believe that home schooled students should have to take all tests that public school students do. Also, that the home schooled students should have to take said tests in a classroom along with the public school students.

I was floored to learn, just this past week, that there is something going on called "unschooling" --- seems parents go on record as having their children home schooled; however, no schooling is given these children. Texting is used as a tool for these children to "teach themselves" to read. Unreal that this is allowed to go on!

I could say more about the American public education system; however, it will just depress me to continue.

I do fear for this country! And for many more reasons than just the poor education that we are giving our young people.

God bless!

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FISHINGLADY66 10/14/2013 11:05AM

    emoticon I know we are in a different generation, but I think we should still teach the basics. After all, we still teach about evolution and a lot of things in our past. Interesting blog Karen. Thanks!

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NOMIS1 10/14/2013 9:35AM

    I think a lot of the basics should be brought back.

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LADYRH 10/14/2013 5:34AM

    emoticon Today's children are losing so much by all these educational changes.

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KNITTINGNAN 10/13/2013 11:44PM

  I guess I agree with Woubbie, in that I print everything as a result of nuns attempting to make me learn the palmer method of handwriting, which I just hated. My printing is far more legible that most people's cursive scratches and is complimented by those who read it.

On the other hand, I am far more concerned about our children's social skills as they are becoming glued to cell phones....not even talking, but frantically punching their thumbs into little buttons as they send abbreviated nonsense messages to each other. Spelling doesn't matter anymore, regardless if it is printed or written in cursive. How sad to observe a family at a restaurant, mom, dad, and even young chilren all concentrating on their cell phone pads without even establishing eye contact with the waitress or each other.

Now you have got me started@#$%^&*&^%%$ emoticon

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MORTICIAADDAMS 10/13/2013 9:50PM

    I feel we are pretty much raising a generation of idiots. I hate it. People walking around with a phone attached to their hand like it's part of them. When the power is out, the internet is down, the phone tower is down, they are devastated. Literally. They can't function. If we ever have a huge natural disaster we all better hope there are enough older people like my husband and your man to get us through it because this generation doesn't know how to do much of anything other than push buttons.

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VINGRAM 10/13/2013 9:33PM

    Big, big mistake! emoticon

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GABY1948 10/13/2013 5:44PM

    OMG I TOTALLY agree with you! I write cursive FAR better than I print! I had no idea this was going on! This world is fast becoming a place that has NOTHING I want! Thanks for sharing! This old lady is FAR out of the loop, I guess!

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ZEEDRA 10/13/2013 4:59PM

    I'm just checking up on it, Karen, but we're into politics now!!!

My first and only reading so far came up with this partial definition: "Common Core State Standards, the first-ever national academic standards for students..."

I would say this has become a very political issue now, though the origin was a co-operative effort, in 2008, between a Democrat and a Republican (wish the news would carry more of this type of cooperation) to design a standardized program. In the beginning, many states signed on and now that it has been judged to be a federal initiative, which I am reading it is not, some states are backing out. People seem to want to bite their noses to spite their faces!

Because people don't always stay in one state, this would be a good way for students transferring to another state to have the same basics. Because this is "basic/core", it is just that...departments of education, states, parents, etc. are free to promote and encouraged further study. This is not meant to inhibit progress but to simply define "step one" (my opinion).

I don't see anything I'm reading, so far, that discourages cursive writing.
A good example of the flexibility is from your attachment, Karen, is:

"The Massachusetts Department of Education requires that fourth graders should be able to “write legibly by hand, using either printing or cursive handwriting.”

I'll do more reading on this now, I think.

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SHOAPIE 10/13/2013 4:36PM

    Cursive writing is as important as spelling correctly!

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PJSTIME 10/13/2013 4:10PM

    They need to learn it regardless of whether they use it later or not. There is too much history not to know how read it. Look at all the museum with cursive artifacts let alone past family history. I am thinking of moms letters from dad in WWII that would not be read in the future.

I also wonder if kids will know how to really tell time, count out change or even tie their own shoes.

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WOUBBIE 10/13/2013 3:28PM

    Actually, a lot of languages don't even have a equivalent to cursive. My kids constantly complained about how much time they wasted learning to write in cursive and then never ever used it in the real world, except for signatures. They should be taught how to write it and read it, of course, but i don't think anyone outside of calligraphers really uses it much. I myself print everything and don't even use lower case most of the time. Much faster and easier to read.

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