Christmas Without Mom

I’ve been extremely melancholy and tender hearted these last few days.  This will be my first Christmas without my Mom.  When she passed away last March, we were all greatly saddened and yet happy for her to be released from her body that was making her unhappy.  She was ready to go home and be reunited with Dad.

Our first Christmas without Dad was hard too, but for some reason, this year it’s super hard for me with Mom being gone.  She loved Christmas so much.  Perhaps it’s because it’s the first Christmas without at least one of my parents here.

I’ve probably talked about this before, but Christmas has always been a big deal for me…. as far as family goes.  While the hustle and bustle and anticipation have always been fun, the most important thing of all was having family together.  Our family traditions are what made me look forward to the Christmas season.  As I get older, I realize just how important those family times are.

I was raised in a close family.  At least those of us that lived around got together often.  While raising my kids, we spent almost every Sunday evening at my parents home.  We would gather for ‘cheeseies’ (a family tradition of an open faced broiled cheese sandwich) each week, spend time together and the cousins would play.  It meant the world to me and was a priority in my mind.

At Christmas time we would gather each Christmas Eve.  The evening would start with a big dinner; with tables and chairs strung everywhere as the family grew.  Then we would gather in the living room and portray the Nativity with each of the kids acting out the parts.  My daughter, Mandy, being the youngest girl (of only a handful of girls) in the family got the honor of playing Mary for many years.  Our costumes always consisted of sheets, towels, scarfs and tinsel with the manger being a doll cradle and who knows what doll for the baby Jesus, unless there was a newborn in the family…. then they got the honored roll of being the Baby Jesus.

After acting out the Nativity, we would sing songs (sometimes my kids would be the entertainment since they participated in a kids performing group back then) and we would wait in anticipation for Santa’s arrival.  We always tried to keep the kids distracted and occupied while we waited for his arrival.

Once Santa arrived through the front door, it was mayhem and excitement!  He would sing a couple of songs with us and then reach in his big bag and call out the name of each of the kids one at a time.  They would come sit on his lap and get their small gift from him.  It was an opportunity for each child to have their photo taken with Santa by their parents.  It was a joy to watch from year to year, the young kids go from being petrified of him to jumping on his lap.  (And what a hoot to look back at the photos and see the styles we wore!)  He would have us sing a few more songs and end with Jingle Bells as he left to ‘go to the next house’.  What a fun tradition that was.

Then we would exchange gifts amongst cousins and adults (drawing names as the family got bigger).  Then off to our own homes to get the children all snuggled in their beds with visions of sugar plums dancing through their heads.  Christmas Eve.  The best part of Christmas for me growing up.

As my parents aged, they were getting tired of all the clean up…. plus the family growing with many great grand kids made it a tight fit for their home.  We spent several years trying to do it in their church cultural hall.  Then grand kids grew, started marrying people who had their own Christmas Eve traditions and it turned into a party at some local ‘event’ place (like a Roller Skating facility) one a night other than Christmas Eve for the last few years before my Dad passed.

Once Dad passed and Mom had had her stroke, she ended up needing 24 hour care and spent the last 6 years of her life in an Assisted Living facility.  We were always able to reserve one of the rooms there to hold a family party, but it was never on Christmas Eve again.  Too many family members with their own Christmas Eve traditions…. but none the less…. we gathered.

Mom with Daisy on her lap last Christmas Eve at her place.  You can se the joy in her face of having us there.
Mom with Daisy on her lap last Christmas Eve at her place. You can se the joy in her face of having us there.

The last few Christmas Eve’s, my little family has spent the evening with my Mom at her Assisted Living place.  Sometimes we sang for all the patients there…. but last year, we just spent time with her in her room and sang to her.  She loved it.  It meant so much to her.  We always took the time to look through the Christmas album the family and made for my parents several years back with photos of all those great Christmas Eve’s.  I’m feeling sad I don’t have that at my house this year.

I just don’t know what I’m going to do with myself this year without her here to spend Christmas Eve with!  My heart has been so tender these last few days.  I’ve shed many tears missing her and Dad and those sacred traditions.  I want so desperately to carry on some of those traditions in our family.  It’s been hard because my children haven’t been married with kids of their own up to this point, so we haven’t had the little ones around to treasure those moments.  I know it will come.  Jon and Ali got married this year and I have BIG hopes of it all beginning soon.  I just pray that it will become as important to them as it is to me.

Family is everything to me.  I want to spend more time together than we do.  I love them all so much.  We are trying to carry on the larger gathering of the family for a Christmas party.  I promised Mom we would.  Though it won’t be till the first of the year…. we will still gather and enjoy each others company…. laugh at the White Elephant exchange and just be grateful for one another.   As with anything in life, it gets harder and harder to make the schedule work for everyone to be there….. but we will do our best and miss those that can’t make it.  And Mom will be happy we did.

I am SO grateful for parents who started and kept such special traditions in our family.  The thing that amazes me the most is that none of the spouses of us siblings had a spouse with Christmas Eve family traditions.  The party at the Bangerter home was the priority!  And you darn well better be there!  It wasn’t until the grandkids started getting married that we ran into conflicts with other family gatherings.  We were blessed to go so many years without those conflicts.

I’m grateful for my family and want them to treasure this time of year as much as I do.  I know Mom and Dad will be with us all in spirit, but I miss them so terribly much this time of year!

Much love to you all and may you have a blessed and wonderful Christmas with cherished loved ones by your side.  And if they aren’t able to be with you…. may you be able to communicate with them all your love.  MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL…. but especially to you MOM!!  May your first Christmas in Heaven with Daddy be one of your best!  You can SEE and MOVE and SING!  I love that….. it makes me so happy to think about that.  Miss you tons!

I Am Grateful!  How Are You?


We Three Amigos

I love spending time with good friends.  An occasional Girl’s Night Out (GNO) is great fun.

The other day, my good friends and I took the opportunity to go and listen to a presentation by another friend of mine called: Understanding, Appreciating and Supporting the Men in Our Lives.  I knew that we wouldn’t have as much time to visit with each other doing this, but I also knew it was good information we all could use to help better our relationship with our husbands.

We enjoyed the presentation a lot and each learned things that will help us.  As we were leaving that night, we stopped to thank the presenter, Ramona Zabriskie, who is a friend of mine.  I was telling Ramona that these are my good friends, the ones I have been singing with for years.  Of course, being a musical person herself, she asked us to sing.

Myself, Nila and Laurie at Nila's wedding Love these ladies!
Myself, Nila and Laurie at Nila’s wedding
Love these ladies!

We don’t really do a cappella.  Everything we do is with a live band or recorded music.  But I figured we knew the harmonies to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy well enough to get through a verse or so a cappella.   So we did and Ramona loved it.  It makes me very happy to be singing with these ladies.

Whether we are singing or not, I just enjoy spending time with them!  This was the first chance we had had to get together since Nila got married.  It was fun to catch up with her and see how she is doing in her new marriage.  It’s so wonderful to see her happy after being alone for so many years.

One of the things we learned in Ramona’s presentation is that women use LOTS more words in a day than men do.  That’s one of the reasons we are such social people!  I truly believe that women need women as friends because we understand that part of being female and we relish talking with someone who understand and thrives on that too.  And I seem to have a lot to say!

I’m grateful that even with our busy lives, that my friends and I can make time to get together and just enjoy each other’s company.  And if we get a chance to sing while we are doing it…. that’s even better!  Love you ladies!

I Am Grateful!  How Are You?

Friends, Food and Fashion Consulting

Today was a great day.  There’s many things I could blog about today that I’m grateful for….. and I probably will eventually hit all those things in future posts.  But I won’t hit them all today.  I’ll limit today’s post to Friends, Food and Fashion Consulting!

I had lunch today with a group of friends from college.  It was great fun.  2 hours just flew by!  It never seems like you have enough time to really visit like you want.  In fact…. if we hadn’t been at a very popular busy restaurant, we may have hung around to visit longer.

It’s always fun to try and catch up on what’s going on in each others life.  It’s been a while since this group of friends have met for lunch… so it was great fun.  I’d love to do it more often, but it’s amazing how busy our lives get!  Someone said today that they thought as we got older we were suppose to have more time to do this sort of thing, but it seems like we just get busier!

The food was great…. we ate at Cheese Cake Factory so how could it not be?  But…. the company was the best part!  Two of my dear friends that I still sing with were among those there today.  We don’t sing as often as we’d like to anymore, so we don’t see each other as much.  After we finished our meal we decided to go take a look inside the mall.  A couple of brand new stores had just opened up yesterday so the mall was crazy busy!  They are new stores to Utah, the first in the state, so a lot of people were there to check them out.

After walking through Crate and Barrel together, and deciding that we did NOT want to stand in any kind of line to see H&M…. (we weren’t that curious!),  we talked for a few minutes and then Laurie left with her husband and son to go somewhere else.  Nila and I decided to go to a few more stores as long as we were at the mall.

There were several stores I wanted to look in today since I don’t make it to that mall much anymore….. but the rest of my afternoon was spent with Nila pretty much going to where she wanted to stop.  The first stop we made was a pretty high end store that she loves to shop at.  After a few minutes there, with no purchases I might add…. we stopped at the Bare Minerals store.  I needed to pick up some Warmth since I was out of it.  Nila decided to have one of the girls give her a makeup makeover while we were there.  I decided to stand by and watch and take notes.  I figure you can always learn new tricks!

Nila looked beautiful when she was done.  The gal’s name that did her makeup is Whitney, by the way.  If any of you go to the Bare Minerals store at Fashion Place mall and want a makeover…. ask for her…. she was great!

Then Nila wanted my advice on some clothes to wear for work.  She’s a Legal Secretary, so she has to dress nice everyday for work.  I told her to try Dillards.  She told me that every time she goes there she can never find anything.  I always find stuff when I shop at Dillards.  So…. between the two of us, and her modeling the clothes we found …. she walked away with a pretty good stack of new clothes for work!  I think she’s going to save them as her Christmas gifts.  And the best part….. the were all on sale!  That’s the only way I buy anything at Dillards…. on sale!

So today…. I spent time with Friends…. had some great Food and got to be a Fashion Consultant!  It was all very fun!  I’m so grateful for the fun, but mostly for the time I spent with friends.  It was so good to spend some time with Nila.  We used to see each other almost everyday when we had a business together, so it felt nice to spend some time with her.  I didn’t even mind that I didn’t get to the rest of the stores I wanted to see.  Friends are much more important that that!  Besides…. the mall isn’t that far from me.  I can go shopping another day.  However…. I think I’ll wait till AFTER the Christmas rush!

I am Grateful!  How are You?

Failure to Complete in 60 Seconds……

Sometimes short and sweet is just what we like, right?  That’s what you’re getting today!

I love creative people.  I don’t know who invented the show “Minute to Win It”…. but I think they are brilliant!  One of the things I love about the show is how you can take several of the games they play and use them at a social function.  That’s exactly what we did today!

We had a Softball Team BBQ today.  The manager of the team’s wife is a creative and talented person.  She always likes to have games to play while we are there.  “Minute to Win It” games we the event of the day.

Even though we started giving up on the timing process and just started seeing if we could actually do it, it was fun!  And I personally only achieved one of the games that we played today!  It wasn’t just failure to complete in 60 seconds for most of these games….. it was failure to complete at ALL…. even with no timer!  They aren’t easy challenges!  I wonder how much time the people that appear on the show actually spend ‘rehearsing’ the games!  Probably a lot more time than I would even consider!

I’m grateful for a fun afternoon with friends and the laughter of watching each other try to meet the challenges of some “Minute to Win It” games!  Good company is always a plus!!!

Have you played “Minute to Win It” games at home or a social gathering?

I am Grateful!  How are you?

Self Serve Yogurt

My first experience with self serve yogurt was about a year and a half ago when some friends of ours took us to a place called KRAVE in St. George.  We were down there for the Senior Games and went over to spend some time with our friends that live in St. George.  After spending a few hours at their house playing some competitive card games and a little Mexican Train Dominos…. we decided to end the evening with a treat and that’s when we were introduced to the concept of self serve yogurt.

It’s a dangerous thing to get hooked on!  I do love the fact that you can build your own yogurt by choosing your flavor and then adding all the toppings you want.  The danger comes in approaching the cash register and weighing your creation in order to calculate how much you owe for this concoction!  You think you are doing so well by choosing only fresh fruit and nuts (ok…. a few yogurt chips too…) and then you get to the counter and place it on the scale and whamo!  That $.38 an oz doesn’t sound so good any more!  We spent about $5.00 each for our creations.  I guess it’s good thing that we didn’t pick the ‘heavy ‘ toppings!  Actually, when you think about it…. I guess it’s really not anymore expensive than those specialty ice cream shops like Cold Stone or Baskin Robbins.  At least at Krave they have a ‘punch’ card you can fill up and get a free one after you buy 10!  I’m not aware of those other places doing that!

One of the best parts of visiting Krave tonight was seeing our picture flash on the TV screen behind the cash register!  When we were down here last Oct. for the Senior Games…. we brought a bunch of the softball team members with us to get some yogurt and they asked if they could take our picture.  They do that quite often.  They take random pictures of their customers and then they put them in their computer and it randomly plays a slide show of all the pictures they’ve taken.  And I mean random.  We saw our picture as we went up to the cash register to pay and then sat down and watched the screen for another 20 minutes or so as we ate our yogurt and it never came on again!!  Several other pictures that had been up came on again…. but not ours!  How weird is that that we happened to approach the counter just as our picture came on and then never again?  Weird, huh?

Krave is a fun place to visit ….. with great yogurt and toppings and a family friendly wall of ‘acrylic’ that becomes a giant chaulk board for its customers!  You should try it sometime!

I am Grateful!  How are you?