Whoops! Forgot to say that I’ll be taking a little blog vacation during the holidays. We’ll be traveling some, so the next Mackinac Island Winter Update will be Wednesday January 4. Please have a fun and safe New Year’s Eve, and I hope your holidays have been wonderful and filled with only good things. I can’t wait to start a new year of blogging about our favorite island! Love ya’ll
If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give. George MacDonald
In December of 2009, after our second summer on the Island, I wrote about a gift that Jane Kemp from Minnesota (a blog fan) had created for her mom for Christmas. Jane and her mom loved Mackinac Island and visited as much as possible. In an email from Jane that year, she explained: “When I read you might publish a book from the blog, I thought, ‘I’ll make a blog book myself, and give it to mom for Christmas.‘” Jane printed out page after page of blog stories and photographs and compiled it into a spiral notebook, with pictures of geraniums on the front cover. She entitled it, “Mackinac Island Living Through Bree’s Blog….as blogged by Brenda Horton.”
In the spring of 2010, when I was facing surgery, I received a scrapbook Jane made especially for me. It is beautifully done and filled with photos from the blog and little snippets of what I’ve written over the years.
Jane’s note with the scrapbook read: “Hi Bree. Hope this finds it’s way to you, and that I got the correct address . . Bear did say he lived on Flintside Drive, and I only found one Horton on Lake Blackshear! As soon as you said you were having surgery, I had this idea . . for a little memory book to peek at while you make your recovery. I hope you and Ted enjoy it – as you begin to make plans for another trip to the island. Your friend in Minnesota, Jane.”
This book is so special to me, and it travels back and forth with us to Michigan every summer so I can share it with others.
Last week, tired and grouchy from battling traffic and other shoppers in Albany, I was sitting on the den sofa feeling pretty sorry for myself. I couldn’t seem to find any kind of Christmas spirit this year. Even though I had lobbied for a small tree, every time I looked at it – bare underneath at that time – I wanted to cry. “Where is my joy?” I asked myself. I knew some of the problem, of course. Christmas is always a time when I miss my parents the most. I miss daddy’s fun-loving spirit and mama’s quiet smiles. I miss walking into their house on Washington Street in Sylvester and smelling all the Christmas fixin’s – my mom’s dressing and sweet potato souffle’ and ambrosia. I miss watching daddy carve the Christmas hen – yes, that means “chicken” (mom always claimed she didn’t know how to bake a turkey). To say I was throwing myself quite a pity-party is an understatement.
It was then that Ted walked out to the mailbox (probably to get away from my grouchiness).
When he returned, he said, “You have a package from Jane in Minnesota. Were you expecting something from her?”
Puzzled, I said, “No. In fact, I haven’t heard from Jane much this year. What in the world could it be?”
I opened the card on the outside of the package. It read in part: “Hello Bree, and Merry Christmas to you and Ted from your blog follower – Jane in Minnesota! I have been lax about leaving comments but have been a faithful reader – even tho my world has been turned upside down. I lost my dear mom back in May. Like you – I am an only child, blessed with loving parents. She was my best girlfriend as well as ‘mom’; I miss her terribly! Have been taking care of my dad – after 59+ years of marriage with mom, it’s been a big adjustment for him. Anyhow – you may recall I had shared with you of my creating a ‘book’ of some of your earlier blog posts and other info on Mackinac Island (and Lake Blackshear too!) and giving it to her for Christmas as a gift. She loved it and got much enjoyment out of reading your stories about our favorite island. I know she would love you to have the book . . . I hope you get a kick out of reading your words – ‘book’ style! Merry Christmas, Bree!”
Within the beautifully wrapped package was the book Jane created for her mom. There is no way I can explain what seeing it meant to me. The time Jane put into the development of her mom’s gift is a testament of her love for her ‘best girlfriend’. The book is over 150 pages and filled with copied photos, entire blog posts, comments from readers – including most of the comments and emails by Jane to me and my comments and emails back to her. There’s also a section of blogs from the lake and posts from other Mackinac bloggers.
What a cherished gift – one that will travel with us, along with Jane’s scrapbook, to Michigan each summer. Reading through it brought such wonderful memories – of times with friends, times in the quiet solitude of the Mackinac woods, time standing on the shores of Lake Huron and thanking God for the blessed life we have.
I’ve always believed in the adage “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” But on that day last week, sitting on the sofa in our den, holding Jane’s love-filled gift to her mom – now passed on to me – I was blessed to receive not only her book, but my Christmas spirit as well. I know God will bless Jane – who gives as the angels give.
The shopping is done. The gifts are covered in holiday paper, tied with pretty ribbon, and they wait beneath our tree for Sunday morning’s hustle and bustle. It will just be Ted, Blake and I to open presents on Christmas Day, but that’s ok. Having our children or grandchildren with us is always a time of celebration, even if they come one at a time! Jason and Blair will be coming in the day after Christmas, and later in the week Ted and I will leave for Florida to celebrate with Julie, Matt and the grandchildren. That’s the “sunny and warm” trip I mentioned on Monday. The “snowy and cold” trip will be in January when we’ll fly out to visit Blake in Colorado. We’ll stay in Ft. Collins a couple of nights, then drive with him to Beaver Creek, CO (near Vail) to spend two nights there at a ski resort. We’re hoping for tons of snow, but no blizzards to change our travel plans. We are so excited about both trips, and I can’t wait to share them with you!
I pray your Christmas Day is filled with everything joyful – family, friends, good food and special gifts. And perhaps, sometime during the day, there might be a quiet moment when all your folks can gather together and read the greatest Christmas story ever written.
To be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
We wish you a very Merry Christmas!
In Christian love,
Ted, Brenda, Maddie & Bear