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Letters from Gjoy: Holiday Edition

By ELIZABETH SCHAFER, Editor

Another year gone, which means ‘tis the season that I get my Christmas letter from Gjoy.  

As of late, I have grown to highly dislike Christmas.  Yes, all the festivities are great fun, and yes, I am a mother of two boys that highly enjoy the Christmas season.  However, I seem to recall Christmas being a hell of alot more fun when I wasn’t in charge of it.  My boys are at the age now (9 and 11) that they are not interested in the usual toys that the Christmas season usually brings.  I remember when they were more interested in the wrapping paper and box more than what was inside. But alas, now it’s Beats by Dr. Dre and iphones.  Seriously, thanks Dr. Dre for creating ridiculously high priced headphones that I can’t afford to buy myself.

I also hate the have-to-go-here and have-to-go-there crap. Now that I have lost several of my grandparents and do not have as many places to go, I find myself beginning to miss the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  

I never really did the Santa thing with my boys either. Hey, don’t judge, I just don’t need some old fat guy taking all the street cred for my hard earned American dollars.  Now, I miss it.  Reason: because if the expensive electronics fall thru, I have someone else to blame besides myself.

My mom (Big Nanc) and my two sons, Collin and Cooper circa 2009

My mom (Big Nanc) and my two sons, Collin and Cooper circa 2009

Then I received my letter from Gjoy and some memories from Big Nanc (my mother).  I am sprung back into childhood Christmas’ of fun and family, and hope that I have left my boys with some of the decent memories that I have from days of Christmas past.  

When I was little I spent Christmas Eve at my Dad’s and then my brother, Derrick, and I would head to my mom’s after all the opening was done Christmas morning.  I never realized it when I was young how much the Christmas morning switch sucked until I now have to do it with my boys.  All I can do is hope that I am doing a good enough job that my boys are NOT noticing the switch, as I had no idea of the switch when I was little.  It was just the way it was.

Dang, my parents did a good job.  

Gjoy’s letter and my mom (Big Nanc) remind us that Christmas is not about getting the expensive electronics and making it to every family get together that there is.  Christmas is about spending the time that we have with family, and friends that we love.  It’s not about out-gifting and its not about how much money you spend. It’s about making and creating memories that you can carry with yourself throughout your lifetime.

I may not believe in Santa, I may not believe in the religious aspect of Christmas, but I do believe in love, family, and the Spirit of Christmas that comes along with these wintery months in the mitten.  

Happy Holidays Mid Michigan!!!

Elizabeth Schafer

Editor, The Laker Current

 

Elizabeth and GJoy circa 1987

Elizabeth and GJoy circa 1987

Dear Granddaughter,

This morning as I turned on the lights on the Christmas tree that sits all alone in the living room, I started thinking about Christmas when I was growing up.  As a small girl I expected snowflakes drifting down to add to the foot of snow that was already on the ground.  I didn’t expect to see a Christmas tree in the living room with large lights in strings of eight.  

Our tree magically appeared Christmas morning with a Christmas present for each of us during a “bad” year and two Christmas presents for each of us during a “good” year.

We hung our stockings carefully on Christmas Eve on a chair back after making sure we had a clean sock, since we knew that we would have lots of unwrapped candy and during a “good” year a orange and once in a while a brand new toothbrush.

Did I grow up poor? If I felt poor or deprived, I never knew it because our house was like everyone else’s house that had children going to the one-room school we all went too.  When Christmas rolled around, we had already celebrated the holiday at the school’s last day before our Christmas vacation.  The schools celebration was a performance by everyone attending school from first grade through eighth grade.  Our stage was a series of two-foot wide and twelve foot wide planks sitting on tree stumps that were saved year after year for the annual Christmas performance.

I can still remember the poem I had to recite in the fourth grade!  And, I remember first grade, as I stood on that platform in my beautiful dress my mother had made for me and we sang “Away in a Manger.”  Our audience was everyone’s family.  That room was packed with admiring parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  The group knew how to clap and if you were really up to standards and did the whole song with no mistakes, a few whistles were heard.

In one front corner of that one-room school house, the Harding School, was a large evergreen tree that someone had cut from their family woods and we students had made construction paper chains and hung handmade ornaments that we all thought were beautiful.  We put paper chains on the windows and extra tree branches on the sills so that the entire room smelled like Christmas.  Each child received an orange from Santa that evening.  No gifts were exchanged, as we were all poor by today’s standards, but our hearts were rich with friendship and good tidings of the season.

I graduated from Harding School and continued on to high school.  I was the only one of the three of us that graduated from the eighth grade that June that went on to high school from the little one-room school house.  The other two girls went back to work on the family farms.

My dad died during the winter of my 9th grade year, and some how Christmas has never been quite the same.  I can still sing “Away in a Manger” and I still love Christmas and always hope for softly drifting snow on Christmas Eve.

I still fix hot chocolate many evenings during the week before Christmas and enjoy the beautiful tree that I now decorate with strings of red lights and ornaments I have purchased over the years.  I still decorate the house with red candles and tinsel.  I buy everyone too many gifts and too many gifts are given to me.

Deep down I miss that simple tree with the home made ornaments that meant evenings with Mom and Dad and my brothers sitting around a table sharing a special evening.  I still miss the popcorn we popped and made into chains as we tried to eat more than we strung.

Life can be like that.  Memories can keep us warm and content.  So, dear Granddaughter, store your memories.  Your time will come to share.  And may your Christmas be merry and bright.

Love, G-Joy.

Memories from Nancy Beckwith: (my mother and GJoy’s baby girl)

bignanc   I still believe in Santa Claus. The first time I experienced the magic of Christmas was as a young child on the way home from my Grandmothers house in Munger on Christmas Eve headed back home to Mt. Pleasant. We were all stuffed into the family station wagon, all seven of us, and my mother was in the backseat probably to keep the peace.  Tapping on the car window, and pointing to the night sky, my mother said “Look, it’s Santa and his sleigh.”   I was sitting next to my mother and I remember looking out that car window and I saw him.  I saw Santa. We all saw Santa. I learned  the magic of Christmas that night.  I felt the love of my mother and my family, what Christmas is about.  I believe in Santa.

   We made that same trip on Christmas Eve for many years. Each year I would look up in the night sky for Santa, and each year I found him.  As I got older I didn’t always say I was looking, because I did not want to be teased by my big brothers.   I bet my siblings were looking for Santa too.  As the youngest, I never got a window seat, but I would lean over and look out the car window up at the beautiful twinkling night sky to search for his sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.  I always found it. I would see Santa on Christmas Eve. The magic of the word believe.  I believe in Santa.

     This year on Christmas Eve, my 57th year, I know the magic of Christmas is around me.  The lesson of believe still glows warm and merry inside my heart.  I will go outside, and look up at our Michigan starry sky and search again for Santa.  I am sure I will see him, and experience the joy of my childhood Christmas once again.  I believe in Santa.  Believe.

Best Ever Easy Hot Christmas Appetizer

You can make this ahead of time, put in the freezer and pop under the broiler when guests arrive!

1 stick butter or margarine, softened

5 oz jar of Old English cheese spread, room temperature

1-1/2 tsp mayonnaise

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp Lawrey’s seasoned salt

7 oz can crabmeat, drained.

6 english muffins, split

Mix all the above ingredients and spread on English Muffins.

To serve immediately cut each muffin half in six pieces and bake in 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.

To freeze and serve later, cut each muffin half into six pieces and place on cookie sheet and put in freezer.  When each piece is frozen, store in plastic bags in freezer.  They will keep for months and can be baked frozen or put under the broiler 5-10 minutes.  Serve hot.

This recipe is from The Mole Hole Cookbook, which was a gift from my mother over 20 years ago. Love this cookbook.  If you ever run across one, buy it!

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