It’s Memorial Day……..Again


Memories can be foggy

I was looking back at a blog I posted, New Traditions: What Is Memorial Day?  It was pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day after the Civil war. It was a day to remember all the people who served in the military and who died. This is different than Veterans Day when we pay tribute to all the living  men and women who are currently serving or have served in the military in the past. Memorial Day Graves

Memorial Day should be a day for family to gather and remember other family members who have served them in the past. To just remember those who were in the military, who served at some capacity in a war or military movement. My Dad was in the Korean War. I’m not sure what he did but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t shooting a gun…. My granddaddy was a guard in Newark, NJ. I’m not sure what he guarded but he served. My Pappa’s father was in the army…..they moved a few times even to Alaska.  So, you see, all families have some relative who served in our military forces. The stories of these family members need to be told and handed down to the next generation. This is what Memorial Day should be about, the remembering of our military in our families shared with others. This way they are never forgotten and will live on.


Memorial Day should be about the people who sacrificed a part or all of their lives so that you could live a free life of faith. Wait, didn’t Jesus do that? He sacrificed his life so that we could live. Jesus also need to be remembered on this day, and everyday. He gave strength to many soldiers, around the world.

memorial day wreath

Here are some thoughts to  ponder on when you comment on this post.      Why is Memorial Day important to you?   What do you do for Memorial Day? How can you make this a better family day? Who do you remember on this holiday?  How does God fit into your Memorial Day Weekend?

Until next time, God bless!!!!


Holiday Traditions

Image  Every year we bring down 6-8 containers of Christmas things. One is this calendar that counts down to Christmas. Why do I have it? My parents had one that Aunt Lydia (a sweet family friend/babysitter to all) made. I have not talked about our Christmas traditions, have I?

When I was very young, living with my Mom, I don’t remember any traditions. Then at 5 I went to live with the grandparents and all I remember was a table top Christmas tree. They were quite old by then so tradition was not there. I usually went to my father’s mother’s house on Christmas Eve. That was fun. We went to church and on the way back we traveled through neighborhoods to see the lights. There is nothing like city neighborhood lights at Christmas. Then we would get back to her house and I would have to go to bed. I barely remember when my Nana would have people over for a Christmas party. I do remember the bells would ring when they left and that meant Santa was here and I had to quickly get to sleep. The next morning I would get up and go to my brother Sparky’s room and tickle his mustache until he woke. We would go down and wait for my other brother, John and Aunt Sarah (my Nana’s sister). Nana usually was up since 4am. We’d eat, then open presents, then we would go get dressed and ready for our uncle, aunt, and cousins to arrive. Uncle Lynn and Aunt Caroline would bring the Turkey. (not talking about my cousin Scott). Usually our cousins Scott and Vicki would arrive with them but in a separate car. Their sister, Wendy, moved away in 1977 to Utah, never to be seen by me again.  So, we would open more gifts, talk, eat, have a birthday cake for me, then play a game like air hockey or king in the corner. After they all left then we would play one more game of Sorry or Uno with my Nana. Then it was time to return me to my grandparents. I would then open the presents they got me and then it was bed time.

When I moved to Judy and Michael’s there were all new traditions. Christmas wasn’t just on that day, it was from the morning of the 24th until the night of the 25th. I was also introduced to what a live Christmas tree was and decorating it. There was a story behind each ornament and tradition. They were told every year. While we decorated we played “Christmas is for Children” and “All I want for Christmas is My 2 front teeth”  on the stereo and other records (anyone remember those old Vinyl discs played on a record player?) We would go to Aunt Leslie (Boo Boo) and Uncle Jerry’s house for Christmas Eve Dinner, sing carols, (Each person would choose one. That was 18 or so songs we would sing.) and then open gifts from the cousins and aunts and uncles. Sometimes we would go to the midnight service. When we got home we would put on the pajamas that Grandmother (Judy, Leslie and Nancy’s mother) gave us, then came down stairs to put our stockings up and then each of us had an ornament that Aunt Judy made and we put those up too. Pictures were taken for EVERYTHING.

Christmas Day was a full schedule. First we woke up to our stockings next to our bed and full. Next, Michael, David and I run into Mark”s room to investigate contents. We return contents to stocking and run into parent’s bed room where they “seem” sleepy. Show them everything. then we sit at top of the stairs until Aunt Judy says, with moving camera on, that santa was here and we can come down.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (we still do this with David’s children and they love it!).


After presents are opened and thanks are given, we eat breakfast (on special china) and get dressed for church or not. Church is very casual and you bring your favorite gift. People go in their Pajamas or whatever. Uncle Michael signed our family up to open and usher, for LIFE. That means until the family line ends, we open and usher on Christmas Day. It is nice to see people who come in their pajamas, and people who have moved away (like us) coming back. After the very casual service and meditation (5 -10 min sermon ), the “who came the farthest” , “who is the oldest and youngest” and who has the most family here (our family usually wins) and singing carols (and happy birthday to Jesus and me – teens think they are embarrassed- HA!), we run back home to prepare for the Christmas Brunch and  25 or so people to arrive at our house.

Then we take an hour nap and get ready to go to Grandmother’s house. At grandmother’s we eat more (burp) and she used to make a cake in the shape of a wreath, Chocolate with chocolate pudding inside. Then we would take all the cookies that she packaged and get in cars to go caroling at the pastor’s doors and other people who may have been alone on Christmas. We come back and sit around talking and digesting and then Santa appears. he comes in telling elaborate stories about Rudolf and the others. He gives out the presents then leaves. Then at night, when I’m all tucked in bed I thank God for sending his son in human form, letting him suffer through childhood and  puberty, so as to better understand us humans.

The day after Christmas is what I call “the downloading” day. It’s when we sit around and take inventory of the things we got and the memories we made. We eat the left overs and watch a movie or play a game together as a family. It took me a few years to get used to the traditions but I finally had decided where to spend my Christmas/Birthday. The huge traditions won out. So I would go to my Nana’s the day after and not see my Aunt Caroline and Uncle Lynn  for a long time.

Most of those traditions changed.  When Nana passed, there was no more Gardiner Family Christmas. When Grandmother and Aunt Leslie Passed the Christmas eve was moved to our house and the family caroling was moved to Christmas night at her daughter’s house. We don’t go to the pastor’s homes to carol like we used to either (which could be a good thing if you heard us sing). Uncle Jerry has moved away and we are all grown up.  Nothing can ever replace these traditions and memories. The feelings that children have from these last a life time. It’s when we grow up and some traditions change but those feelings, stay the same, that you know it’s not the traditions, as much as it is the closeness and love of the family that is the best tradition of all.our family 2012

The Christmas Count Down




December 1st is the start of a fun month for us. It starts with a birthday and ends with birthdays. We love Christmas time! We have no children of our own so we decorate for all the children in the area. We decorate outside and inside.  It’s our way of showing the joy in our heart regarding the reason for the season.  

The only thing we are missing from our indoor decorations is a train around the tree. We have a village that takes up 3 or 4 tables now and growing. Image  Then we do the calendar  and the hall way and the bathroom too.   I will put the newer pictures up in another posting. 

However, in all the decorations and gift buying we all need to remember that, in the end, we can’t take any of it with us. What we do take with us is the love we feel when we watch our nephews, nieces, aunts and uncles, brothers… It’s what we feel when we have not seen a relative in months or a year and we hear their voice. Christmas is THAT feeling. 

Share your Christmas memories and I will share mine. Till next time, keep reading and keep talking to me to let me know what you want to read.

New Traditions: What Is Memorial Day?

Memorial Day can be defined as a day established for people to remember significant people or events. We inherit memories of people and events that effect us as individuals, families, and as a country.

Memories can be foggy

Memories can be foggy

As a country we remember the military who sacrificed their lives in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WW 1, WW2, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and of course the most recent war in the Middle East. What we forget are the little “battles” and assignments that military personal still have to do such as “man” the bases we create after a war. There may not be any physical battles in Germany or Australia but ask any military personnel and they will tell you they are fighting to learn how to be better soldiers. They are learning from the soldiers that fought in the previous wars. That is their “inheritance”.

My family showed me the other meaning of this patriotic day. Just remembering significant people. People who have lived before us who meant something to us or to people we love.

Before I went to live with the cousins, the only holidays that I paid attention to were Christmas and Easter. Those were the two holidays I went to visit with my brothers and my other Grandmother and my Dad. This family was different. Almost every holiday meant a family gathering of some sort. Christmas was a two day event, starting at one house for Christmas Eve, then Christmas day was our house for brunch then Eleonore’s house for caroling and dinner. By the time I was 11 I started calling Eleonore, Grandmother and Ed, Grandfather.  I know it seems confusing to an outsider looking in but when you have lived it, it makes sense.

Memorial Day was celebrated in another family gathering. The whole family, Grandmother, Grandfather, Leslie’s family, Nancy’s family, and the 6 of us, all met at the local nursery and picked out plants. They would be planted at the graves of family members. At 11 I thought this was neat. We went to Grandfather’s family’s graves and planted some things. Then we all went to  Grandmother’s parents’ grave (If you have been following the family tree, Anne and John Becker) and planted some flowers there. Afterward, all 15 of us went to a local restaurant for lunch. I liked this new tradition I was learning about. I looked forward to Memorial Day every year from then on. This was our inheritance. To pay respect to the people in our family who came before us and taught us how to pray, live, work, and play.

So, as some may look at Memorial Day as a somber day of remembering our military, or as a day to party, maybe you can look at it differently too. Maybe you can start a new tradition for you and your children. Plant some plants to honor your parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great grandparents, etc…. and show your children that memorial doesn’t always have to be sad. Memorial Day is a day to show respect of the memories of other people, who have come before us to “blaze a trail” of faith, peace, love and hope. That is our inheritance which is valued as priceless.

Life's Eternal Voyage

Life’s Eternal Voyage