Santa reflections

Before I packed up Christmas this year I wanted to reflect a little on that jolly old fellow. Was it me, or did there seem to be more Santa sightings than usual this Christmas season? Santa made it to the day center my special needs daughter attends. Santa also visited a YMCA party a couple of days before Christmas. With a fan base greater than Justin Bieber, Santa even stayed for pictures.

A couple of days before Christmas I saw him sitting on his throne at the mall. Nothing super unusual about that … except for the thousand very patient people in line waiting their turn. Perhaps the most unusual sighting for me was the grocery store. Actually, I never “saw” him with my own eyeballs but the announcement over the loud speaker spoke for itself. It was the same grocery store that a Facebook friend commented seeing an especially handsome Santa hangin’ out in our local Kroger.

“Would Mr. Claus please return to Customer Service for a message,” the voice boomed.

Oh, and did I mention Santa made a stop on Christmas Eve at our house. Mimi has an especially large lumpy spot in her heart for the bearded fellow. Always has. Most parents have that one special photograph of their little crying child sitting on Santa’s lap. Not so with Mimi.

Our son is a different story! Ricky was probably two when we hit the mall for our annual Santa photo. The two older girls went first as a reluctant Ricky watched. Katie sat on one of Santa’s knees and Mimi on the other. There were lots of smiles and laughter! We actually have much the same photograph of Ricky. Ricky is wailing on one of Santa’s knees and my husband is on the other knee. I offered to buy Santa a six-pack of ear plugs. He just shook his head and smiled.

“It comes with the job,” he whispered.

Since 2007 Santa has been parking his sleigh out in front of our house so he can get his annual “Mimi hug.” Mimi and Santa met at a Christmas party when I was working in the back office of a hotel several years back. He’s been coming to our house on Christmas Eve ever since. The photos don’t capture the lingering embrace and the way Mimi pats Santa on the back as they hug. But you get the gist.

Our “Sharing Sunday” tradition

The beauty of a blog is having the ability to tell the story with words and pictures. I’m not used to that luxury with writing a column for a newspaper. So let’s see what happens with this week’s post!

Every year for about the past 30 years, St. Martha Catholic Church in Kingwood, Texas has had a special weekend in mid-December called “Sharing Sunday.” The gist is parishioners bring mostly gifts, and some groceries, to church. We wrap and tag them with age and gender and bring them up during the offertory. I mean … a boy wouldn’t want to get a baby doll if you know what I mean.

This year the gifts were to benefit 14 local parishes in the Houston area, as well as the needy in our own parish. It is quite a sight to see hundreds of wrapped presents, stuffed animals, bikes and sacks of food stacked in front of the altar and around the church. Our special needs daughter used to point and say “mine,” but not this year. Mimi has her mind focused on “Ho-Ho.”

Our family starts saving for the next “Sharing Sunday” on December 26, by collecting loose change in the empty glass milk jugs that rest next to the microwave. By the time we feed the CoinStar machine the coins almost always total 100 bucks. This year hubby went along for the first time to see how the entire process of purchasing gifts works. I gave him camera duty so he could pay his way.

Next we were off to On the Park, a local Kingwood toy/candy store. I like to use local businesses, and the friendly owner, Fred, is always up for some fun small talk. This year we talked politics for about 30 minutes right next to the stuffed Frosty the Snowman. The other benefit of On the Park is they will wrap everything and I’m a certified terrible package wrapper. Just ask my kids.

“Mom wrapped this one, right?” Katie and Ricky have been known to say on many occasions.

Rick followed me around the store pointing out toys he thought kids would like. I turned down everything with a large price tag. My goal is to purchase as many fun toys as I can for a reasonable price. Did you know “Melissa and Doug” gifts are hot gifts for kids? Who knew? Not me … I’m still waiting for grandkids. We walked out with a dozen nice gifts and can’t wait for next year. Sharing … it’s another reason for the season.

Johnny “Football” Manziel … and the spontaneous night at the Heisman Awards!

Chad and HeismanSo by now everyone that doesn’t live under a ginormous boulder in the middle of the Grand Canyon knows Texas A&M’s very own Johnny “Football” Manziel won the Heisman!

My daughter, Katie, and new husband, Chad, just happened to be in New York City hanging with Chad’s brother and family the very weekend of the Heisman award. They got there the Thursday before the big Heisman announcement. The city was buzzing about the upcoming event that would be held Saturday.

I saw their pictures on Facebook. It sure looked like they were having a great time. There were pictures of Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and the Christmas Market at Columbus Circle. And every day they made sure to walk past the Best Buy Theater on Broadway … just in case there was a Johnny “Football” Manziel sighting.

Did I mention Chad graduated from Texas A&M? This season Chad and some of his buddies attended the game of a lifetime … the A&M/Alabama game where A&M stomped all over Bama. Oh, and anyone that knows our daughter also knows Katie went to The University of Texas. I know … it’s a mixed marriage … but if anyone can make it work … they can.

So the night the Heisman was announced Katie, Chad and his brother, Kevin, decided, what the heck, let’s head down to Best Buy Theater for the big announcement. They were staying in Harlem and unfortunately missed the train that would bring them to Best Buy Theater on time. The important thing was to be down at the theater to celebrate. After all … Manzeil had won!!!

So there they were just after the announcement, Chad and Kevin standing in front of the Best Buy Theater. Kevin was posing Chad trying to get a picture of him in front of the banner sign that was congratulating Johnny. Our daughter was a few feet away at the street corner on Broadway when she saw three guys walk by. They had just left the Best Buy Theater. Two of the dudes had VIP passes around their necks. I don’t know the exact details, but she chatted them up, and one of the guys, a Heisman trustee, gives her his VIP pass. She promptly runs over to Chad and yells, “Get in there now!”

“My heart was racing when Katie handed me the VIP pass and told me to GO!! I had no idea I was heading to the floor where all the action was. I was just a few feet away from the greatest Heisman winners to play football … Doug Flutie, Earl Campbell, John David Crow to name a few,” said Chad.

Chad got a great photo with his hand on the Heisman trophy after the ceremony was over on the very stage where the ceremony was held. While he was standing in line to get the photograph of a lifetime, he chatted with Kevin Sumlin, A&M’s head coach, and with Kliff Kingsbury (A&M’s offensive coordinator, but as 12/12/12, the new head coach of his alma mater, Texas Tech). Both were in line to also get a firsthand glimpse of the Heisman. I could just imagine Chad saying to himself, “God … just pinch me now!”

“It wasn’t until later that I actually shook hands with Johnny Manziel. Katie, Kevin and I were walking the hallways on the 43rd floor of the Marriott marquis, where the Heisman hospitality suite was. Johnny and a few others walked right by so I was able to say congrats and quickly shake his hand,” Chad said.

Chad and Katie call it their spontaneous night at the Heisman Awards Ceremony. What a night … on so many levels!

Its Christmas ladies sew let’s party

I have belonged to a Prayer Quilt Ministry at our church for the past five years. We make prayer quilts for the sick of our parish and have quite an operation. Around 60 prayer quilts each year are blessed by one of our parish priests and given to ill parishioners. Most every Wednesday we laugh … sometimes we cry … we always pray … and sew.

There are a couple of tables on one side of the room with a nest of ladies hand sewing bindings down and prayer pockets on the back. On the other side there is a group of tables with two or three sewing machines humming along way over the legal speed limit. They are creating quilt tops and machine stitching bindings. There is another table where the three layers of a quilt are being tied. And we’ve got this awesome station where the ironing gets done. Our fabulous Helaine custom-made this huge heat-resistant cover for one of the tables. You can have dueling irons working at the same time.

Now I know my husband “follows” my blog and there is no way he understood what I just wrote. He thinks I knit quilts together. It is okay sweetie … you are not supposed to know about that kind of stuff.

So today we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the group and had a Christmas Party. Hey … we are ladies … we like to party. It’s in our DNA. Of course there was food involved complete with festive centerpieces and tablecloths. Can’t have a party without the proper décor. Betty came prepared with a couple of Christmas games she found on-line that was a crowd pleaser. No acts of sewing were accomplished but we connected and celebrated the reason for the season … the upcoming birth of our Lord.