Each year since 1978 I have put together a photo Christmas card to send out to family and friends. As I went through my photos of the year past, I was pleasantly surprised to see all the events that had gone by. There were so many photos that I was having a hard time choosing which ones to put on our card. I finally narrowed it down to four photos and went to Meijer to get the job done.
And then the “fun” began.
I got my phone hooked up to the computer at their photo lab and started following the directions to make a card, which begins with editing the chosen photos and then setting them into the card pattern. Well, this proved to be quite an undertaking this year. There were many starts and stops. Every time I tried to put the final product together I was “chopping” off someone’s head, namely my brother who is a foot taller than I am. Or I was “slicing” someone down the middle, my husband or my daughter who were on opposite sides of the photo I was trying to fit into the card.
I finally thought I had it all figured out with the four photos nicely arranged, but when I clicked to finish and when the insert greeting was dropped in, it took out my sister-in-law’s head and upper body!
At this point, I guess my sighs, grumbling and frustration caught the attention of the young photo lab lady who had been trying to help me. She came over and softly said, “You know you can make your own design?” Ah, no. Are you seeing my gray hair? I just learned how to hook my phone up to your computer. Designing my own card is not in my skill set.
Blessedly she coached me through choosing my own design, photo frames, fonts and greeting. What an angel! As I clicked the final click that sent the cards to print, I knew the spirit of the season was flowing through the photo lab at Meijer. I was blessed, no doubt about it. Mission accomplished.
My next holiday task is to write my Michigan Mitten Memo, which I send out with my Christmas cards. I have a big ring binder that holds all our family cards and Memos so I can go back to the first one and watch my children and grandchildren grow and change over the years since 1978. Of course, I see myself grow and change and wonder if that thin, young, full head of brown-haired person is really me. I guess the proof is in the photo. Not to mention the thin, full head of hair man who always is in the photos with me. Buried under our senior personas is a quite good-looking couple, if I do say so myself.
A new holiday experience for me this year was to choose a favorite holiday item and bring it to share with a group of teachers at our holiday meeting for our chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa. I pondered over several Christmas ornaments, several crèches, Santa figures and lighted village pieces. When I couldn’t decide which to pick, my friend Barb said, “Choose the one that stirs your heart.” Well, that made it simple.
I have collected Christmas-themed children’s books since my children were little and I have my favorites among them. So I whittled it down to three books: “Apple Tree Christmas,” “Angela” and “Winter’s Hope.”
“Apple Tree Christmas” was a book I gave my daughter when she was little because the story centers around a farm family and an apple tree. My in-laws were fruit-tree farmers here in Michigan and therefore I thought the story setting was just right. “Angela” was written by Frank McCourt about his mother, Angela, and how she “stold” the baby Jesus out of the church crèche because she thought he was cold.
I love these stories. But the one that stirs my heart the most and always brings tears to my eyes is “Winter’s Gift.”
The cover picture of this book shows a mare going through the woods in a blizzard. The story is about a recently widowed man who is spending his first Christmas alone and has lost hope. He finds the mare exhausted on the ground behind his barn and brings her into his barn for the night. After settling the mare down, he falls asleep in the barn and awakes to find the mare has given birth to her foal. When he sees the foal, he notices that it has a white star marking on its forehead. The star reminds him of the star his wife would put on top of the Christmas tree every year and say it was the most important part of the tree because it represented hope. “No matter how bad things get, you should always have hope,” she would say.
At this time of the year, we are reminded of the hope that was brought to us by the star of Bethlehem. May it shine brightly for you all. Merry Christmas!
— By Janice R. Beuschel, Tribune community columnist