Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

A special thanks to Therese Nagle for another heartfelt guest-post.  And a Christmas theme, too! Enjoy...

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

 Ah, Christmas. In the midst of all the holiday preparations and busyness, a constant theme for many is trying to find meaning and significance. We all want to create fond memories for our children. We want to find that “perfect gift” that is remembered for years. We want to acknowledge the important people in our lives. Sometimes, we get lucky. A small act or gift can spark many things – memories, kindness, laughter, love. Good stuff that spreads all kinds of good feelings for years. I am so very lucky to have shared a holiday tradition with a wonderful person for the last 29 years – my Mom – Mary Modesta Nagle.

It started innocently enough. In 1983, I sent out Christmas cards for the first time. I had graduated from college the previous spring, and some might remember a big recession and slim job prospects for a newly minted grad with a liberal arts degree. I was living in Iowa City, working at a day care center, without benefits and not much salary – a very hand-to-mouth existence. I needed a “real job” to make enough to meet my student loan obligations. On the card I sent to my parents, I wrote, “a new year too, maybe I'll even find a job.” In the next year, I did find a “real job” and moved to Minneapolis. In 1984, my Mom sent the same card back with “you did!”

Well, that very same card has been traveling between Iowa and Minnesota ever since. The card morphed into two, had paper taped to the back and now travels with a note pad for the current year's sentiments. I have no words to describe how much this card means to me. Twenty nine years represent a lot of life. We each tear up when we read over what we have written to each other over the years. We have had great joy, great sorrow, challenging times, joyful times. We both have admitted to each other that the card is stored in our respective safes during the year we keep it. The card is incredibly important to both of us.

As some of you may remember from my earlier stints as a stand-in on Sara's blog, I am one of the 10 Nagle children that grew up in Sara and Matt's house. Yep, my parents raised 10. My Mom has done amazing things in her life. Something truly remarkable is that she manages to have a unique relationship with each of us. About 15 years ago, I was telling some friends about the traveling Christmas card. A friend asked me if my Mom has traveling cards with any of my siblings. The question prompted me to ask my Mom. “No” she told me, “only you.”

Something so simple and inexpensive has grown exponentially. An offhand comment about finding a job sparked a decades-long tradition that brings laughter, tears and closeness between my Mom and I in ways that would be next to impossible to duplicate any other way. Some things in life are genuinely amazing. This card is one of them. It is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Therese and her mom

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

30 Years Together

This post isn't about Christmas, but it definitely deserves attention!  On this date (December 4) in 1982, my parents got married.  Thirty years later, they are still in love and going strong.  Now if that isn't "the good", then what is??

Here is a link to my recent post on the Quad City Moms Blog, dedicated to my parents:
                                                       Everyone Has A Story

And here is a picture of my parents, enjoying lunch with their three grandchildren, on their 30th anniversary.  It was quite the fancy lunch, considering my son picked the place (Hungry Hobo!).  Thank goodness they settled on his second choice...the first choice was Taco Bell, haha.

Monday, December 3, 2012

To Me, You Are Perfect.

As I said, I am a sucker for anything Christmas. I'm also a sucker for romantic comedies; the sappier the better.  So, you mix the two together, and what do you have?

Love Actually.  One of my all-time favorite movies, without a doubt.  Here's one of my favorite scenes:

click here to watch it:  To Me You Are Perfect
Now, if that doesn't melt your heart when the wind and snow are blowing outside your window...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

O Holy Night

The Christmas music on the radio begins earlier and earlier each year….this bothers some people. I am NOT one of those people. I swear it was still October this year when I was walking with my boys through WalMart and I spotted the Christmas decorations and lights at the far end of the store. I’m not sure who yelled “yay!”louder…them or me. And the music started even before Thanksgiving this year; much to my husband’s dismay. I have been blaring it in my mini-van ever since.

By far, my FAVORITE Christmas song is “O Holy Night”. It is a beautiful, beautiful reminder of what Christmas truly is: about that night, so long ago, when a little baby was born in a faraway land and the world changed forever. I have always loved this song, but after becoming a mother, I am even more appreciative of this amazing story of this little tiny, yet world-changing, baby.
No matter what your favorite Christmas song is, do me a favor this year: take the time to sit down and actually listen to the words of the song. Sometimes the lyrics are so familiar that we just sing along with them without a thought…this is great, but it might lend to us forgetting what we are even singing. I know I do that! So, when you are sitting at home (not driving your car!), try to take a minute (or three) and relax, close your eyes, and let the words sink in. No matter if it’s the beautiful lyrics of “O Holy Night” or the silly lyrics of “Frosty the Snowman”,just let it sink in. Enjoy the moment.

**My two favorite versions of this song are by Josh Groban (of course!) and *NSync (they do an amazing acapella version)

O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night
Of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine, oh night, oh night divine

Chains shall He break
For the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy
In grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord, let ever ever praise Thee
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh, oh night, oh night divine

Saturday, December 1, 2012

25 days of Christmas.

I'll admit it...I love Christmas.  I love EVERYTHING about it.  As a Christian, I relish in the story of the baby Jesus and I love singing all of the Christmas hymns in church. But I also love all of the commercialized aspects of Christmas as well...I can't help it! Many people spend "Black Friday" out shopping like crazy people...I spend it at home with my children, drinking hot chocolate, turning on the Christmas music, and decorating our house from top to bottom with Nativity scenes, Santa Clause, snowmen, and twinkling lights.

In the spirit of this blog, looking for the good, let's spend the next 25 days enjoying the Christmas season.  Whether you are spending the holidays in a pew at church singing hymns, or going to the mall for your kids to visit Santa, let's just enjoy this month, these 25 days of excitement, peace, and family.

Come to "The Good" from December 1 to December 25 for your little dose of Christmas...songs, recipes,  videos, stories, traditions, etc.

Happy, happy holidays to all of you who faithfully read my blog. You are MUCH appreciated!