Finding Destiny

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Each of us has a destiny, a purpose in life. Finding it is the trick, because there are so many distractions and demands that lead us astray. The challenge of discovering our inner core and the life’s work that will bring meaning to our souls is one that we all face. Often we find ourselves on circuitous and unsatisfactory paths in our search for the feeling, the passion that will assure us that we have finally found the right fit for our personalities and talents. We question our very worth as we struggle to become the best of ourselves, and we grow jealous of those who appear to so easily find their way.

I was in my early thirties before I felt as though I had found the key to a happy life. Even then I would sometimes allow the inevitable bumps in the road to discourage me and question whether or not I had been successful in choosing a lifestyle and career that suited me. My brothers always seemed to know exactly what they wanted to accomplish in life. One of them boasted at the age of five that he wanted to be a mathematician and just as promised in his toddler days he carved out a highly satisfying career in the world of numbers. His was a straight road, a shortcut to being exactly what he wanted to be. I envied his clarity and determination because I was muddled and confused for all of my teenage years and most of my twenties. It took me so much time to construct a life that made me both happy and proud.

My years as an educator allowed me to be more gentle on myself, because I realized through watching my students that I was the norm and my brother was an outlier. Most people tend to stumble upon satisfaction through trial and error. Sometimes failures actually provide the answers that we seek. In the calculus of life we achieve closer and closer approximations of meaning as we try this and then that. With each new experience we learn what we dislike and what excites us.

I had thousands of students during my career. I no longer remember most of their names., but I see the faces looking to me for guidance. Certain individuals stood out from that crowd of countenances. There was something about them that told me that they were special and would make a significant mark on the world. Some of them were exemplary and well behaved students. Others were less than stunning academically and maybe even frustrating trouble makers. For whatever reason I always remembered them vividly, and quite often learned that they had indeed been incredibly successful. I suppose that I have always had an eye for talent. I have found it in the homeliest of places, and been challenged by my fellow teachers in proclaiming it’s existence in some of the most questionable cases.

Early in my career there was a young man who captured my attention. He was in what were then called Honors classes. He was not the most outstanding of the lot, but his intellect was nonetheless advanced. He had an unending sense of humor and often distracted me with jokes that invariably made me laugh. He was a very likable soul with a bounty of charisma, but he struggled a bit with Algebra I. He took longer to master concepts than some of his peers in the class. He persisted nonetheless and always eventually figured things out. What was most remarkable about him was his wit and a spark of mischief that revealed his natural creativity. I somehow always knew that he would be a remarkable adult, even when I learned that one of his pranks in high school had resulted in great trouble for him.

I eventually lost track of him and then one day read his name in the newspaper. I immediately recognized him as one of my favorite former students. He was working as a publicist for the Secretary of Education, a position that fit his personality to a tee. I located him on Facebook and have followed his journey with pride ever since. When his boss left Washington D.C so did my student. He now works in New York City with some of the most incredibly altruistic and cutting edge companies. His work and theirs is literally changing the world for the better. His talents and his big heart have made him into the person that I envisioned back when he was just a young boy. By following his inner voice and taking risks he has found not just success but more importantly fulfillment. His most current work is with an organization that brings much needed medical care to remote areas of the world. Specially designed drones are delivering blood, medications and equipment to people in emergency situations who formerly would have died for lack of resources. My student is proud of his work, and I am bursting with joy for him.

There are so many different ways to approach life, and it is often difficult to see the way ahead in our one size fits all society. We have people and situations demoralizing us all of the time. We compare ourselves to those who possess abilities that we don’t have and seem to have it all together. We listen to naysayers who discourage us from seeking the dreams that fill our hearts. We are pulled down by competitions and meaningless tasks. We lose sight of who we are and what provides us with a feeling of accomplishment. Because we sometimes have to work harder than others to achieve the same results we question our abilities. When we make mistakes we become our own worst critics. We are lead to believe that we should follow a blueprint that was designed by experts who think that they have insights into our hearts, even when it makes us feel uncomfortable. We listen to the noise of the crowd. We fall for the propaganda and find that we are lost.

It is only when we quiet our minds enough to hear the tiny voice that is inside every single one of us that we begin to realize what direction we must take. It is the guide that we need in order to find our own personal destiny. It helps us to understand what values are personally most important.  It taps into the totality of our talents, our beliefs, and our desires. It soothes our very souls, and only each person knows if he/she has found it.

I have always told my students to list the things that make them happy. I encourage them to take note of the moments when they feel a surge of passion. Those are the clues that will lead them to choose the right trajectory for their lives. I caution them to think for themselves and to use their failures as lessons that are perhaps more important than the ones that bring them success. Most importantly I urge them to discover the moments that fill them with a sense of excitement, meaning and pride. That is when they will know what they must do.

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No Tongue Can Tell

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Imagine living in an island city filled with beautifully colorful buildings that look almost like doll houses. The streets are filled with smiling happy people who bask in the sunny days and enjoy the ocean breezes. Along the shore on a pier out in the ocean there is a huge ferris wheel that citizens reach on a train that transports them over the water. There is a port that brings goods and money into the area from all over the world. It provides jobs that make the citizens some of the wealthiest in the nation. This is surely a place that must be paradise, a dream come true for all who dwell here.

Now consider that news arrives of a coming storm. Reports differ as to its potential strength. The local meteorologist does not believe that it will be particularly harmful. The signs from the ocean appear to be mild. There is no reason to panic or leave. It’s simply time to batten down the hatches, get together indoors with neighbors and celebrate good fortune. You watch as the ocean asserts its power and the sky grows dark. The streets of your town begin to fill with water, but nobody is particularly worried. They’ve seen this kind of thing before. It will blow over and the sun will return. Maybe the wind will create the need for a few repairs, but nothing more.

By nightfall you become a bit more concerned and invite frightened friends to your more substantial house. Things should be just fine, but as the squalls come ashore something is very different about this hurricane. It is more frightening. Too many things are blowing past the windows. The water is inching rapidly toward the front door. You and those with you climb to the second floor to wait it out. The tension in the group becomes more palatable. Your heart begins to race and you have thoughts that you want to wish away.

Something slams into the side of the house. Suddenly there is an open hole the size of an entire room. The place is breaking apart and everyone becomes hysterical. You see water raging past filled with flotsam and jetsam and people who do not appear to be alive. The floor on which you are standing begins to crumble. You grab at a portion of your once fine home that has suddenly become the foundation of a makeshift raft. You carefully place your children on the flimsy lifeboat and search for your spouse who has suddenly disappeared under the water. You are in a panic, not knowing what to do. Should you dive under the darkness in an attempt to find her, or is it best to look after your children? You pray to God for strength and protection. You want this horrifying night to be done.

You float aimlessly for hours. As far as you can see  there is unspeakable destruction. Little do you know that it is far worse than you imagine. Perhaps it is best that you are ignorant of the true extent of the terror, because you might lose all hope if you know what has really happened. You calm your children and wait for the sun to rise. You want to cry, but know that now is not the time.

When the day dawns the winds have ceased and the waters have begun to recede. The vision before your eyes is unimaginable. You want to shield your children from the truth, but the death that surrounds you is so massive that there is no possible way to keep them from knowing what has happened. Your once majestic city by the sea is gone, never again to be one of the most important places in the country. A later accounting reveals that more than six thousand of your friends and neighbors and fellow citizens have died in the hurricane, a count that will not be equaled even a hundred years later.

The task before you and other survivors is daunting. Some have already decided to just leave, but you want to stay in this place. It has burrowed into your heart, and even with all of the pain that it has created you can’t bear to go somewhere else. You join the building process and silently hope that you will find your relatives and friends who are missing, but you never do.

Your city will become a small town, no longer destined to be as glorious as it once was. You help to build a seawall designed to keep the raging waters at bay. You work to raise the entire island, a modern marvel of engineering. You are proud of those who work to bring things back to a semblance of normalcy. You are a survivor of something so terrible that you will never be able to adequately speak of its horror. You don’t want to talk about what you lost. You try not to think about the orphanage that no longer exists, or the tiny souls from there who were eventually found buried under the sand with their caretakers next to them. Yours is a story for the ages that you will never want to repeat.

This is a true account of the great storm of 1900, a category four hurricane that moved right over Galveston Island in Texas. To this day there has never been another natural disaster in the United States that claimed so many lives. In the course of only a few hours the once thriving city was decimated, and would ultimately be reduced to a sleepy place that mostly attracts tourists and brave souls who find themselves in love with the tropical atmosphere. Many of the homes of 1900 still stand, reminders of a time when some of the most powerful and wealthy individuals in America lived and worked in the once bustling city. On a sunny day it is easy to imagine how wonderful life must have been before the true danger of being there was revealed.

The ghosts of a magnificent time and place lurk along with those who died so tragically in a single night. There is something indeed special about Galveston that can’t be described until someone has spent time there in the changing seasons. It is easy to fall in love with this town, but those who choose to make this island home must understand that danger is always possible.

After 1900, the improbable happened. A swampy little place called Houston became the titan that Galveston had been. The people there dredged a channel from Galveston Bay inland to create one of the busiest ports in the world. Houston would grow to become the fourth largest city in the United States, and until just this year would not experience anything resembling the tragedy that befell Galveston in 1900. Hurricane Harvey flooded the streets and homes of Houston, but thankfully did not even come close to killing the number of people who died long ago in the place just fifty miles south. Still those of us who have lived in Houston and visited Galveston understand better than ever the need to respect the storms that form in the Atlantic from June to November each year.

Now that hurricane season is over we have some time to relax before considering what we must do to make this area less likely to crumble under the brunt of a killer storm. The potential for disaster will roll around again just as it does each year. It’s important that we try to imagine the possibilities so that we will plan wisely and take precautions when danger becomes imminent. We more than most know what it is like when Mother Nature grows surly, and we understand the we can never be complacent about her power to change our world in an instant. Ours are the kind of stories that no tongue can tell.

Looking Forward

SupplierDiversityLBack before there was DNA, ancestry.com, or genealogy or libraries sponsored by the Latter Day Saints families often told tales of ancestors that may or may not have been true. Sometimes the stories were so compelling that they were handed down from generation to generation, thus spreading unfounded myths about the folks who were long past. Thus it was with my own relations who had all kinds of theories about who we were and from whence we had come.

One of the more popular ideas was that my maternal grandfather had actually been born in Cleveland, Ohio of Slovakian parentage, and that only my maternal grandmother had been an immigrant from Eastern Europe. With help from a first cousin I have determined that both of my grandparents were born in the Slovakian territory of what was once the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I have seen their names on ship manifests and now have proof that they entered the United States at the port of Galveston, Texas. My grandfather eventually became a naturalized citizen and I have copies of the document detailing when and where that happened as well, Oddly enough there are still relatives who refuse to believe the evidence that my cousin and I have gathered, preferring instead to insist that Grandpa was in fact an American citizen by birth. Some family fables refuse to die.

I recall a time when a Jewish friend of my mom’s declared her certainty that we were the descendants of European Jews. Her only clue to the veracity of that statement lay in our appearance and mannerisms, as though there is some stereotypical methodology for determining such things. Imagine my surprise when a DNA test revealed that I do indeed have a trace of Eastern European Jewishness tracing through my veins. It was a rather exciting discovery and one that my mother and her friends seemed to believe even before I had found the grain of truth.

It’s far easier in today’s world for me to learn that I am not a descendant of Native Americans as my paternal grandmother had always claimed. My high cheekbones are more likely derived from my Slovakian family members than from some Southeastern tribe. Still the stories of our Native American ancestry were part of my Grandma’s repertoire, and I suspect that she truly believed that they were true. The fact is that the bloodlines through her go straight back to Great Britain and then lead to Normandy and Norway. There are no Native Americans anywhere, but I grew up thinking that I must in fact be from one of America’s earliest people simply because my grandmother always told me so.

I bring this up because Senator Elizabeth Warren has been skewered again and again for claiming that she is of Native American descent. If her family is like mine she no doubt heard these things while growing up and had no reason to believe that they were untrue. We listen to our elders and we buy into their tales, never really thinking that they may be telling us falsehoods. I suspect that they actually believe those half truths themselves, leading to even more certainty that their stories are indeed true. It is little wonder that Senator Warren took the word of her relatives and saw herself as a true Native American, especially considering that she haled from Oklahoma where it was far more likely that her ancestors might have intermingled from many different groups.

I had an aunt who often noted that we were a biracial family from some point in history when our ancestors might have been African American. She would gaze into the mirror and see her jet black hair and brown eyes so dark that they almost resembled nuggets of coal. Somehow she decided that her physical attributes were indicative of blackness. She went to her grave feeling certain that she was a mixture of white and black ancestors, and I have to admit that her tales were so exotic that I half believed them even though the skin of family members from that branch is almost colorless save for the splotches of freckles that dot their arms and legs and faces. Eventually my DNA test totally squelched my aunt’s idea, but there was a time when the uncertainty made me wonder.

We all long to know our histories, but in many ways they don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. It is what we are now doing that determines who we really are, not the stories of people that we never met and maybe don’t even know about. The most important thing about each of us is how well we have evolved into kind and just individuals who use our talents to the best of our abilities. It is in the attitudes and ethical values that we learned from our parents and pass down to our children that we find the essence of who we are. In fact I often think of how my mother always felt that knowing one’s genealogy was of far less importance than gazing into the future. She had little or no desire to look back or to define herself by ethnicity or race. She truly believed that we are all essentially the same with only minor variations over which we have little control. It was the human mind that fascinated her and the potential that we all possess to use our intellect well.

Each of us is the sum of our genetics and our environment. How we approach the world is determined in a large part by our most immediate interactions. Unfortunately we have a nasty habit of dividing ourselves into groups and even attempting to rank them as though there are actually superiors and inferiors. Such stereotyping can lead to the ugliness of racism unless we avoid its pitfalls. While there is nothing wrong with taking pride in our family heritage, it is a slippery slope to believe that our family trees somehow define us as being either better or worse than our peers. We simply are who we are at birth and then it becomes up to each of us to take our mix of DNA, history, family life, and education and forge our own individual destinies.

It really is time that we be more intent on living together with open hearts and minds rather than playing classification games. Much of the trouble that the world is experiencing is derived from an illogical hatred of differences, whether they be religious or ethnic or racial. So much blood has been shed in the name of “isms.” Sometimes we humans devolve into the same kind of thinking that creates wars between rival gangs. It is illogical and even hateful. When it comes from those who are supposed to be our leaders it borders on evil.

The truth is that few of us will ever know our backgrounds for certain, and that is okay. It’s fun to find out a bit of who we are, but more important to move forward and be ourselves. We need not define who we are by the branches of family trees. Instead it is crucial that we all be allowed to develop all of the components of our makeup into the best possible versions of ourselves. At the same time, if we are right thinking, we will embrace the lovely variety of mankind, and rejoice in our differences. When we encourage the many disparate groups to offer their unique ideas and talents to the betterment of us all, the world becomes a safer and more dynamic place. Let’s celebrate our wondrous variety in all that we do.

A Whole New World

hqdefaultGrowing up with a single mom in an era when such situations were quite rare gave me a different point of view than many of my contemporaries. I was raised to believe that I was capable of accomplishing anything that I chose to do. My mom was liberated out of necessity and she was a feminist out of choice. She was also as American as apple pie, someone who cherished freedoms and served no masters other than her God. She never wanted me to clean houses or wait on tables. While she saw such jobs as honorable work, she often noted that her own mother had done such things in order to lift up her children, and it should not be our fate to be at the beck and call of either the wealthy or the powerful. She believed that we were as worthy as any other humans and that we must never bow down in submission to anyone, not even a queen or a king or a president. I suspect that she would have enjoyed seeing the Obama family approaching Queen Elizabeth on equal footing. She truly saw the United States as a place where each man or woman had the potential to rise into the higher echelons of power. She viewed education and the use of intellect as the most direct pathway to individual success, but she never pushed me or my brothers one way or another. Part of our liberty lay in the ability to make our own choices.

Mama adored the Queen of England, not so much because of her royalty but mostly because she carried herself with such dignity. She had the same kind of affection for Eleanor Rosevelt and Jackie Kennedy because she saw them as distinctly American royalty, women who were equal in every way, and sometimes even a bit superior, to their powerful husbands. She truly saw these two as being more regal by way of their accomplishments and in the manner in which they carried themselves than most of the blue blooded royals throughout the world. She was inspired by both of them, particularly after they proved themselves to be such strong individuals after the deaths of their spouses. Because of my mother’s philosophies I suppose that I  grew up without the traditional female filters that had so defined women for eons. I quite arrogantly understood my own capabilities and simply forged ahead, announcing my plans to my husband rather than conferring with him to get his approval. Luckily I married a man whose own mother was strong-willed and he saw nothing unusual about my way of doing things.

My brothers are in turn married to incredibly independent women who have always marched to their own drumbeats. Their partnerships, like mine, are based on mutual respect. Neither of them feel that they or their spouses should play a dominant role in their marriages. They have loving and faithful wives, but always coequal partners who share both the burdens and the blessings of married life. There is no competition in their roles, but rather a strong sense of mutual respect and support. They are as thoroughly modern as my mom was.

Women everywhere are breaking stereotypes and punching holes in glass ceilings. In some corners of the world they are sometimes held back by cultures and traditions that do not deem them to be as worthy as men. Even here in the United States we still struggle to understand and encourage the female half of the world. Recent news developments have proven that we have a long way to go before we see the universal acceptance of women as fonts of power in their own rights. Still the evidence of their abilities and potential has always been right before our eyes. Everyone has a story of a remarkable woman that carried her own weight even when it was thought that doing so was crude and maybe even rude. Our minds regarding women are indeed changing even if the pace is slower than we wish it to be.

It’s not really so difficult to help young girls to become as strong as we hope they will become. All we have to do is allow them to make their own choices and to understand that we support them regardless of which direction they want to go. In our typical folly we sometimes think that we have to throw the baby out with the bath water to foment change. In other words we go from swathing baby girls in pink and showering them with thoughts of being princesses to insisting that they eschew fashion and all study to become engineers. It’s important to understand as my mother did that the key to raising mighty women lies in encouraging them to follow the destinies that lie within their own hearts, not ours.

Even the staunch and staid monarchies are slowly but surely changing. This week Prince Harry announced his engagement to a woman who might have been scandalous in a bygone era. She is a divorced biracial American actress, but none of that appears to matter as much as the fact that she is an amazing woman or that she and Harry are very much in love. She has established herself as a success in her own right, and she has been honored for her compassion and the causes that she supports. In the new frontier she does not have to be of royal decent to forge an alliance with a prince. While she is indeed quite beautiful, I suspect that it is her generosity and openness that captured Harry’s heart. I think that my mother would be quite pleased to hear of this remarkable development.

I have great hopes for society even though we women still have miles to go. More and more often we are being accepted in the halls of commerce, academia, manufacturing, and politics. Right here in my own little corner of the world a tiny young lady kicked the winning field goal in this year’s gridiron rivalry. Women are winning seats in local, state and national government at a faster rate than ever before. More than half of today’s college graduates are female. We go places and do things that were once taboo. We still have a long way to travel, but there are positive signs that women are finally enjoying more and more of the kind of freedoms that my mother so appreciated and desired. We have some kinks to iron out and bad thinking to overcome, but the future looks brighter for young girls all of the time. 

I have only one granddaughter. She sometimes has to fight her way to be part of the group of six young men who are my grandsons. She is all too often unfavorably compared to her twin brother by well meaning teachers and relatives who have not discerned how truly remarkable she is in her own right. She has very special talents that will no doubt take her far. She is unafraid to take risks and she works twice as hard as the guys to reach her goals. She is determined to make her own individual mark on the world, and I believe that she will find the success that she seeks. Like the female trailblazers who have come before her, including her great grandmother, she is on a mission to change the way we do things. If she maintains the courage to focus on being herself, she will be able to ignore the naysayers and the slights and find her way. If my mother were still here she would remind my granddaughter that she is just as important as a queen, maybe more so. She would urge her to hold her head high and follow her dreams. After all, even a girl from an ordinary family who has proven to be quite competent on her own may soon be a princess. It’s a whole new world and it is good.

Making Magic

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Each of us have so many Christmas stories, many of which are worthy of a spot on the Hallmark movie channel. One of my favorite yuletide tales came from author Truman Capote who shared memories of one holiday that he spent with his aunts in Alabama. It was a lovely vignette that spoke volumes of his love for his relatives and their love for him. There is much beauty in the humblest of celebrations and my own childhood is filled with them.

After my father died we were always on a tight budget, but my mother was a very creative soul who had a way of making virtually everything fun. We’d make dozens of cookies while Christmas music played on our Victrola. We loved to sing along while we worked which gave Mama the idea of teaching us how to sing The Little Drummer Boy in four part harmony. First she listened to the song just enough to transcribe all of the words. Then she assigned our various parts and showed us how to put all of them together. It was a great deal of fun, much like it was for the boys who sang with Bing Crosby in the movie Going My Way. It took us quite some time to perfect our routine, but when we finally achieved perfection we felt like singing angels.

Mama was somewhat mischievous when it came to searching for a Christmas tree. She always seemed to choose the day with the most horrible weather for that adventure. She would even laugh when the temperature became lower and lower and the rain began to fall by declaring, “It’s the perfect day for getting our tree.” I think that somehow she thought that the weather outside had to be frightful for us to fully appreciate the experience. We’d inspect the ones in our price range as though we were judges in a beauty pageant until we all agreed on the perfect candidate. Our mother always insisted on sawing off the bottom of the trunk and storing the tree in a bucket of water overnight before setting it in the center of the picture window in our living room. Then the decorating would begin complete with some of those cookies we had made and maybe even some hot chocolate that she prepared with real cocoa and milk. She had particular rules about how each step of the process should be done and the results were always glorious. What I loved the most was the scent of the needles filling the house with the perfume of the season.

Mama loved to go out looking at the Christmas lights on people’s houses. One of the best places in the city back then was near the cemetery where our father was buried. I’m not quite sure how she worked her magic but she managed to make the ritual of putting flowers on his grave less sad by ending the task with ice cream and a drive along the enchanting streets. The best of the displays was a Nativity scene complete with the music of Silent Night. Of course that always inspired Mama to suggest that we sing our way back home. I always thought that my mother had missed her calling. She should have been a Broadway star. She was an extraordinary dancer and had a knack for music that was uncanny. She seriously had enough skill to be a professional even though she was completely self taught.

Because Mama so loved Christmas music we always attended the concert at our church put on by the members of the choir. It was one of the highlights of the season featuring all of the religious classics. My favorite was always “O Holy Night.” One of my best friend’s mom both accompanied the performers on the piano as well as singing in the most beautiful soprano voice. Our mother’s alto voice might have been a lovely addition to the choir, but for some reason she never thought to join.

Most children discover that their parents are Santa Claus by coming upon their gifts before Christmas Eve. I have no clue how our mom hid our presents, but there was never even a hint of what we would receive until we awoke on Christmas morning and discovered the magic that had occurred while we were sleeping. She even managed to put together bicycles  without our ever noticing. She kept us thinking that Santa was real far longer that most kids today do. I don’t know that she ever really told us the truth, but at some point we figured it out on our own.

Of course the very best part of Christmas for us was going to our grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve. Every single aunt, uncle and cousin was present on that evening and the tiny living room was bursting at the seams. Mama and her siblings competed with one another to see who would select Grandma’s favorite gift. It was fun watching their expressions as their mother opened each package. Many of them attempted to buy her dresses and shoes even though they knew that she would still walk around in her bare feet and would always cut the sleeves off of the bodice for comfort. She delighted all of us with her reactions, and watching her open the gifts was the highlight of Christmas.

There was a TG&Y store near our home when we were children. One Christmas we were shopping there when we saw a magnificent Nativity set. The figures were about a foot tall and they stood inside a wooden manger. We thought it was the most beautiful thing that we had ever seen but it cost about twenty dollars and that was a huge amount of money, Mama wasn’t sure that we should be so frivolous as to even think of purchasing it. Still we wanted that lovely creche so much. Even after we had gone home we kept speaking of it and wishing that we might display it in our living room. After dinner Mama got a strange look in her eyes and announced that if we gave up a little bit of this and that we might be able to afford the luxury. We cheered with glee and jumped into the car as excited as if we were going to buy bars of gold. When we set up the lovely statues on our formal dining table we thought that they were wonderful. We never once regretted our decision to throw caution to the wind because Mama would display that set every Christmas for the remainder of her life.

My brothers agreed to let me have what remained of the Nativity after our mother had died. By then all three of the kings were missing and Baby Jesus had lost an arm, but I am as proud of it as I am of anything that I own. Nobody will ever understand what that little display meant to us back in the long ago. Even though I could replace it with a much finer looking one from Costco I don’t have the heart to do so. I think that Jesus looks glorious just as He is.

The Christmas memories that we make with our children and grandchildren will last a lifetime no matter how simple they are. It’s about love and sharing and having fun. It’s making cookies, decorating the tree, singing and visiting with family and friends. It doesn’t take much to bring magic into our lives, just a bit of time and imagination.