Monday, December 01, 2008

A Time to Celebrate Memories

Hello friends,
The pictures that accompany this entry are images of the most important memories of our family. On the left, you can see, what I like to refer to, as a memory tree. On the right, you see a closeup. If you double click on these pictures, you will blow up each picture so that it is easy to make out tiny toys, ornaments, and printed messages (on the blocks). I urge you and your family to do much of the same. Collect your precious memories, and celebrate every one, because that is where your treasure lies.
We have all seen, in the last month or so, just how pointless it is to cling to money and wealth. In many of our bank accounts, IRAs, and 401Ks, we have seen our fortunes, big and small, dwindle. But all is not lost, if we count our wealth in shared memories, love, kindness, hope, and faith. There are two times that faith becomes everything: the first is when we lose everything, and the most difficult is when we gain everything.
Many of us have lost so many things, jobs, opportunities, and even our homes. In my life, I have gone from poverty and want, to solvency and a future. It's scary, because the more you have, the more you have to lose. So, I must never depend upon good fortune, I can only depend on the grace of God. We did not acquire these blessings. We have sought to be obedient, believing in God's grace, and striving to honor Him with our lives.
My husband has always said that enough is as good as a feast, and yet, God has given us more. Should this be taken away (yes, I feel the ice-prickling of fear skipping along the hairs on the back of my neck) we must be willing to walk out our front door, with those whom we hold dear, and toss the keys through the door behind us, never looking back. This is easier said than done.
You see, there are many treasures I would leave behind: the trees in my yard, which I have grown from seedlings; the flowers that I would never see grow to maturity; the view of the mountains from my back deck; breathtaking sunsets and the rosy glow of dawn. I love this place, this house of my dreams. And the garden that has taken back-breaking toil and unending prayer, I would long for it, too. In the last eleven years, we have struggled, as many have, to meet every payment for this house...this land. It has been a struggle, yet here we are, by the grace of God.
We are a small family. Our pets outnumber us, and that is how we like it. Oh yes, gone is the perfectly ordered home. Our carpeting looks like it was designed by Google Earth, with bits of blue surrounded by continents of brown. We have pukers, and we have poopers. We have tender hearts, and those fierce to warn and protect. We have our invalid, Happy Dog, who is lying in his crate at my side, so that his little tail can get well, where it was injured.
The things of this earth are temporary: houses, cars, and bank accounts; but the heart and soul of a family is forever, just as I believe that our pets are. I am not afraid to love a God, who counts precious, a single sparrow. One day we will be in heaven together, and in the meantime, there are memories, both past and those we have yet to celebrate in our own way, never to be forgotten. So celebrate your memories this year. I hope you will like my little gift to you.
Christmas Memories: Creating the Christmas Toy Tower

Christmas is a time to celebrate old memories and create new ones. As we unpack our ornaments and decorate our homes, we often come across those little things that make our hearts yearn for yesterday. What do we do with all the little extras, which fail to make it onto the tree? Where will we put the gifts that our children made so long ago? What about those character ornaments? And those little toy soldiers and nutcrackers? Why not create a new Christmas memory by creating a Christmas toy tower. It's a great family project that is timeless, and it is a lovely way to celebrate the season together. Here are the step-by-step instructions.

Necessary Supplies: 3 fifty piece bags of ABC wooden blocks; 1 Styrofoam cone (the larger, the better); lots and lots of miniatures (little toys, jewelry, antiques, religious items, character ornaments, gold balls, and one special piece to go on top); 1 wooden lazy-Susan for the base, 12 - 14 inches in diameter; 1 round piece of red felt or heavy, shiny, Christmas fabric, large enough to cover lazy-Susan base; hot-glue gun and glue sticks; plastic peanuts (optional).

Step One: Cut felt or material into a circle 2 inches larger than base; lay lazy-Susan upside down on material; pull material up, using a running stitch around the edge and pulling it tight (if using felt, steam the fabric to shrink); glue down edges of fabric with hot glue, and secure to bottom edge of lazy-Susan.

Step Two: Organize blocks into Christmas messages, such as, "Merry Christmas; Joy; Peace; Love; Noel," or include your children's names, or any message you like. Hot Glue Styrofoam cone to center of base. Glue first row of blocks to the outside edge of base.

Step Three: Keeping blocks close together, hot glue row after row of blocks, with your messages facing outward, going round the cone, higher and higher, always leaning rows towards the cone shape. Fill in any gaps, around the cone, with plastic peanuts, as you work your way up. This will give your tower stability. Continue hot gluing, building upward, following the cone, and filling with plastic peanuts as needed. Don't forget to leave little ledges on each row, as you build up.

Step Four: Once your basic block tower is complete, begin to glue your miniatures, ornaments, and gold balls on your ledges. Keep things balanced by adding miniatures on first one side and then the other, since the tower will be able to be visible on all sides. Have fun with this step, and don't hurry. Assist small children, by gluing their choices where they want them to go. You can always counter balance later, if you need to. When your tower is completed, place its chosen crown of splendor on the very top. Perhaps an angel, a model airplane, or a toy drum.

The toy tower is your family's opportunity to celebrate your lives, filled with memories of Christmases past and present. Don't insist on being perfect. Think of your toy tower as a garden of memories, always celebrating a welcome surprise, at every turn. Keep it carefully for more shared joys, in the years to come. © Jaye Lewis, 2007
With love,
Jaye Lewis

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