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Showing posts from December, 2014

Twelve Months of Christmas

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The tiny wrapped present had somehow gotten hidden beneath the tree skirt in the hubbub of Christmas morning. Now all the wrapping paper, ribbons, and family had departed, and the lonely package remained undiscovered. 
Gathering the empty ornament boxes, she went to work. Tissue wrapping each ornament from the decades old family collection was a chore she preferred to do alone. And no one would notice any stray tears either.




As she finished, she carefully folded the billowing tree skirt. That’s when the tiny package tumbled out. Smiling, she saw her name on the tag. Her son had cleverly hidden the package knowing she’d find it in just the way she had.
Underneath the shiny red paper, a tiny wooden box contained a small slip of paper. At the top of the paper was the word LOVE. Then underneath were all the family member’s names—each name next to a month of the year. The tradition started long before she was born—in a time when there weren’t as many gifts, nor money. But her great gran…

Mr. Grump's Christmas Cookies

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It was a Christmas tradition I never enjoyed—delivering a plate of Mom’s Christmas cookies to Mr. Grump. No, his name wasn’t actually Mr. Grump but that’s what he was to me. He never smiled and rarely spoke, so why did we have to give him a plate of delicious cookies?
Sitting in the back seat, my job was to hold them while we took the obligatory drive to the other side of town. I kept my hands on either side of the plate, steadying it as we took the hairpin turns up his muddy driveway. His house always looked the same—peeling yellow paint and a rickety fence around the perimeter.




Mr. Grump was one of Mom’s library patrons. Every day he’d arrive just as the library unlocked its doors so he could be the first to read the Seattle Post Intelligencer. He’d sit at the same table for the same amount of time and then neatly fold the paper. He walked everywhere he went, so in order to read the morning paper he’d already traveled three miles—rain or shine.
As far as anyone knew Mr. Grump di…

Love and the Christmas Blanket

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Little Kevin nestled on the couch next to his grandma. He loved watching her nimble hands work the long knitting needles. He couldn’t believe how those quick motions could create a soft blanket. 
He’d sit and watch as Grandma would tell him a story about the person she envisioned receiving the blanket.

This one was for a boy about his age, so it was  bright red and would have trucks and tanks and a tall climbing tree with a lookout on top. It would be lined with red fleece to keep him warm at night. Grandma always knitted the words, “Made with Love” along the trim.



…..ten years later


Kevin drove Grandma to the craft store where she asked for the softest yarn in a pale pink. The fleece lining needed to be comfy and warm. She raised the fabric to her cheek. Finally, she found the softest one in a perfect hue of pink—just like the morning sunrise. Once back in her small apartment, her gnarled hands worked the knitting needles as nimbly as always—despite her fading eyesight.
As Kevin pre…

Lost on a Drug Smuggler's Route

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Long before cell phones and GPS for personal use, I once got lost on a hike in Northern Idaho’s Selkirk Mountains. After half a day of wandering beneath towering pines and tamaracks, my hiking buddy and I concluded that the narrow path we’d followed was an animal track and not the route we should have taken.





Struggling along the rugged terrain, we’d already seen enough bear scat to begin wondering if it was black bears or grizzlies. No one was going to find us in the dense forest—and there was no way to contact anyone anyway. All of my mountain climbing experience hadn’t prepared me for this.


Thankfully Sam (short for Samantha) had completed Army survival training. Her skill set didn’t include grizzlies, but what she knew would certainly help now.





The following morning we decided to climb a narrow ridge in an effort to get above the tree line. From that vantage we hoped to orient ourselves again. The shale rock was treacherous and sharp to the knees when we slipped, but we were able …