A Photo a Week Challenge: Christmas Memories

Growing up, Christmas was always filled with amazing smells. My mother and both of my grandmothers would bake and make candies and various treats to share with neighbors and at family parties. My favorite were the spider cookies. They are semi-sweet and butterscotch chips melted then mixed with crunchy Chinese noodles and peanuts. Then you drop them by the spoonful onto wax paper and let them harden (or chill them in the fridge if you don’t have the time). Salty and sweet and crunchy all at the same time. I recently made some for a church party, and when I bit into one (to test and make sure I got it right), I closed my eyes and was instantly in my mom’s kitchen, nine years-old, and hearing my mom and my grandmother talk about everything that still needed to be done before Christmas.

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE ONE OR TWO OR MORE PHOTOS OF YOUR CHRISTMAS AND/OR HOLIDAY MEMORIES.

Everyone is welcome to participate, even if your blog isn’t about photography.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Each week, I’ll come up with a theme and post a photo that I think fits. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Thursday, when the next photo theme will be announced.
  2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “A Photo a Week Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.
  3. Come back here and post a link to your image in the comments for this challenge.
  4. Follow nancy merrill photography so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements.

Christmas Lights Day #15

Cute couple lit by Christmas lights

Thankful November 30th: Life

I have a wonderful life. I love my husband. We have great kids. Most of our family lives close by, and we have good opprotunitues to visit those who don’t. We travel frequently to really cool places. We have our own business and live in the freest country in the world. Life is good.

I’m glad that I’ve had the chance to reflect on what I’m grateful for this November. Hopefully our gratitude isn’t limited to just one month each year.

May this holiday season fill your homes and hearts with love, thankfulness, and peace.

Thankful November 29th: Home

We live in a little bungalow-type house that was built in 1961. It’s small, but comfortable. We are empty-nesters, so we don’t really need a lot of space. My husband bought this house a year before we met. We’ve done some major renovations on the inside, and we love the huge garage that the previous owners added. But in all honesty, as much as I love our little house, to me home is anywhere Russell is.

Thankful November 26th: Love

There are many things that we can live without: extra money, going to movies, a house as big as the Jones. There are some things we can’t live without: food, water, air, and love. Studies have shown that without love, newborn babies stop thriving. There are so many different ways to show love: spouses and partners, friends, family, even complete strangers. The Beatles said all we need is love, and to some extent, they were right.

Thankful November 15th: Murphy

We have a dog. His name is Murphy. He is a mutt, with some shar pei in there (his forehead wrinkles when he is nervous or interested and his tongue is black). My husband adopted him from the local shelter when he was a puppy. He was one when we started dating and two when we got married. He is now nearing thirteen, and while he still sometimes thinks he is still a puppy, his energy lasts only about ten minutes. He is loving, loyal, and very forgiving. He gets excited whenever we come home, even after two-week-long trips. I love you, Murph. Thanks for letting me into the family.

Thankful November 10th: Family

I know that I’ve already mentioned my parents and my siblings in individual posts, but I have a lot more family. My husband’s family is very large (he is the youngest of eight kids). I have a wonderful group of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I inherited four wonderful children when I married my husband. And then there are people who aren’t blood relation, but are still family. Family is very important to me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thankful November 5th: Sisters

I have three sisters: two older, one younger. Growing up, we were the bane of our brother’s life. He even told my mom once that he didn’t care if it took twelve sisters, he wanted a brother. He didn’t get one until my oldest sister got married and he finally got a brother-in-law.

I have a lot of friends with only sons, and you frequently hear (or read in a meme) the saying that boys are harder to keep alive, but have less drama. I’m sure my parents went through a lot of drama with us. Even with all of the drama, I love my sisters. We are now all really good friends. We live close (all within 10 miles), and we love getting together for family parties or a girls’ lunch with mom.

Thanks, guys (well, I guess gals), for helping me have a wonderful childhood and built in friends.

Thankful November 3rd: Wonderful Parents

My parents are wonderful. My childhood was somewhat amazing. We didn’t have much money (my dad was an elementary school teacher when I was younger and finally retired from the United States Department of Agriculture; my mom was an office manager), but we always had enough. My mom and grandmother made a lot of our clothes, and friends would ask me where I got many of those clothes. My father was a hard worker. When he quit teaching, he took whatever he could find to support his family before getting a job with the USDA Arial Photography Field Office. I had more than one friend tell me that they wished they had grown up in my family.

But more than just providing for our physical needs, my parents instilled in each of their five children a love for family. When we could afford to travel, we drove across America seeing amazing things, learning crazy travel songs, and playing every travel game you can think of (license plates, alphabet match, I see). My parents also loved each other fiercely. They loved holding hands, sitting next to each other, and sharing a quick kiss no matter who was watching.

When my father was at the end of his life, my mother did everything she could so that he could stay at home and not have to go to assisted living. When it got to be too much for just her, hospice came in the mornings to help, and we took turns helping her at night. Dad didn’t always remember which of his kids was there helping, but he always knew when my mom was near him.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for a wonderful example of selfless love and devotion.