Christmas in a Small Town

Merry Christmas from St Johns Michigan. This is a view of our main street downtown all decorated for Christmas.

This small town has so much to offer year round but it is especially beautiful this time of year.

The stores down town have a decorating contest. So many unique shops.

There is the Adorn Mint Gift Shop. You can find all kinds of stocking stuffers here like earrings, candles, and the one I love is an beautiful glass etched with the state of Michigan outline.

And if you love candles (who doesn’t this time of year), you have to shop at the Kymora Kandles Outlet. I love this beautiful gift box loaded with candles.

But there is more than just candles here. Beautiful purses along with dozens of other gifts.

The Mint Door Boutique has many one of a kind clothing and a nice line of shoes to choose from.

If all that shopping (and there are many more stores to choose from) makes you hungry, stop and grab a cupcake from Cupcakes and Kisses St Johns. All the delicious items in this bakery are made from scratch with real butter, sugar and eggs.

And for your chocolate lovers, you must make a stop at Oh Mi Organics. The store carries 180+ flavors and its chocolate is all gluten, dairy, peanut free. They even have vegan options. I can verify that their chocolate is beyond description. This is one store I always take my visitors to and buy them some chocolate.

One of my favorite places to stop and relax while shopping is the Global Coffee Shop. The shop has a map of the world. The owner encourages us to think about where our coffee comes from – what’s in a cup of coffee, how it got there, and why it tastes the way it does. She says “Here, everything about the coffee matters – from the people, the origin, the elevation of the farm, and the processing, all the way to the meticulous brew.” I love to sit in the corner of the shop and sip my coffee while watching the people walk by.

Another very special treasure in this small town is the Art and Soul Art Gallery. Sponsored by the Clinton County Arts, this store promotes, encourages and supports the artist in Clinton County, Michigan. While you would expect an art gallery to sell beautiful paintings, the art here includes much more than that. You can find pottery, jewelry, scarfs, quilts, books as well as many beautiful paintings. My own husband has some of his paintings there.

You can end your day by enjoying a good meal. There is Main Street Cafe, Domino’s Pizza, Main Street Pizza and our latest addition, St Johns Brewing Company.

We may be a small town, but there is no need to fight the large crowds at the malls or in the larger cities. Just visit my small town. You will love it!

The “Real” Story of the First Christmas

The beauty of that night was not a calm, serene setting with radiant beams emitting from or around the baby. The beauty of that night was how clearly it showed the love of God – sending His son not to the king’s palace or the rich man’s house, but to a dirty, cold, dark stable.

Grandma's Ramblings

thCADPOVFO

Silent Night, Holy Night

What a beautiful picture we have of that first Christmas!  Mary and Joseph, dressed in plain, but neat, clothes.  The baby is wrapped in a clean blanket and the shepherds and Wise Men all stand or sit on the clean straw.  And one of our most beloved Christmas carols make it all sound so peaceful and clean.

Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, all is bright

But was it a silent night?  Was all calm and bright?

According to the Gospel of Luke, Mary and Joseph had just made a long trip from their home town of Nazareth to Bethlehem.  This would not be considered a “long” trip today.  It is approximately 100 miles and MapQuest says it can be made in less than two hours.  However, at the time of Jesus’ birth, travel would have been on foot on rough roads with no Holiday Inn or…

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A Surprise Christmas Card

merry-christmas

A dear friend died this week.  My husband and I had watched him battle cancer (two different kinds) for over two years.  It was hard to see him slowly lose the battle.  He fought hard and he never lost his courage or his great sense of humor.

His family asked my husband to do the funeral service.  It was an extremely hard thing for Paul to do.  They had been friends for almost 20 years.  In the very beginning of their friendship, I had surgery for breast cancer.  The cancer was very advanced and my husband was  frightened as his mother had died from breast cancer.  Richard came to the hospital and sat with my husband through my surgery and did not leave until I was out of recovery.  That cemented their friendship.

That – and their love of golf and corny jokes.  Although they claimed they played golf, I think from listening to their tales that they spend more time laughing at each other’s skills than they did actually playing the game.

After my retirement, I often joined the two of them for breakfast.  It was such fun to just sit and listen to them as they teased one another and shared stories of their time on the golf course.

While it was hard for my husband to do the funeral service, he was honored that the family said that was what Richard would want.  As we arrived at the funeral home, his daughters handed us an envelope.  On the outside it said, “Paul and his bride.”  That was how Richard always referred to me – “Paul’s bride.”  When Paul and Richard met, if I was not present, he would always ask, “How is your bride?”  The handwriting on the outside was clearly not Richard’s.  So we assume it was just a card saying thank you for doing the service.

When we opened the card it was a Christmas card.  Thinking it was a little strange that his daughters were giving us a Christmas card, we opened it up.  My heart skipped a beat as I saw the signature inside the card.  It said simply, “Richard.”  We immediately recognized his signature.  Also enclosed was a picture of him.

His daughters told us although Richard never sent Christmas cards, just before his death he asked them to get him some Christmas cards.  He then signed a few and asked them to give them to his special friends at his funeral.  He knew he would not be here for Christmas and he wanted us to know what our friendship had meant to him.

This is a special card my husband and I will treasure forever.

Merry Christmas Richard!

 

 

 

The “Real” Story of the First Christmas

thCADPOVFO

Silent Night, Holy Night

What a beautiful picture we have of that first Christmas!  Mary and Joseph, dressed in plain, but neat, clothes.  The baby is wrapped in a clean blanket and the shepherds and Wise Men all stand or sit on the clean straw.  And one of our most beloved Christmas carols make it all sound so peaceful and clean.

Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, all is bright

But was it a silent night?  Was all calm and bright?

According to the Gospel of Luke, Mary and Joseph had just made a long trip from their home town of Nazareth to Bethlehem.  This would not be considered a “long” trip today.  It is approximately 100 miles and MapQuest says it can be made in less than two hours.  However, at the time of Jesus’ birth, travel would have been on foot on rough roads with no Holiday Inn or McDonald’s along the way.  Mary may have had the luxury of riding on a donkey as our pictures always show, but even so with Joseph walking by her side, the trip would have been long and hard.  I can’t imagine making such a trip while eight or nine months pregnant.

Upon arrival in Bethlehem, Luke tells us there were no rooms available at the inn.  The innkeeper is often portrayed as an unsympathetic man who refused a place for Mary and Joseph.  However, if the town was crowded with visitors for the census and there were no rooms available, he may have acted out of compassion by providing a place for them in the stable nearby.  At least there they would have a roof over their heads and some protection from the night.

While we don’t know how old Mary was, most scholars believe she was probably a teenager.  So – here is a young girl, found pregnant before she was married at a time when that brought great shame (and could have brought death by stoning), far from home getting ready to give birth in a stable.  I’m not sure how calm she must have felt or how silent the night was as she gave birth to her son.

I imagine Joseph – worrying about his young wife giving birth without benefit of the comforts of home, wondering how he was going to be able to raise the Son of God.

It appears that shortly after giving birth, Mary laid Jesus in the manger.  While trying to rest, Joseph and Mary had visitors.  Shepherds.

These wthCAFPG1MEere men who were on the bottom of the Palestinian social ladder. They would be placed in the same class as tax collectors and dung sweepers.  In spite of their fantastic story of angels appearing to them with the wonderful announcement of the Messiah’s birth, only one of the Gospel writers – Luke – bother to tell us about them.

Judaism’s written record of the oral law, the Mishnah, reflects this prejudice, referring to shepherds in belittling terms. One passage describes them as “incompetent”; another says no one should ever feel obligated to rescue a shepherd who has fallen into a pit.

Being out in the field with the sheep for a long period of time, I can only imagine that their clothes may have been worn and/or dirty and they were probably in need of a good bath.  Not necessarily a beautiful, neat scene.

They related their story to Mary and Joseph of the angels’ appearance and the wonderful message of peace the angels had shared.  While many pictures of the shepherds visit to the manger show a bright light shining on Mary and the baby and the carol says “Radiant beams from Thy holy face,” Luke’s narrative does not give any hint of that.  Rather, the shepherds were told they would recognize the baby by:

And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.

Certainly they would not have needed that sign if there was a radiant light streaming around the manger when they arrived in Bethlehem.

By writing this I am not trying to detract from the beauty of that first Christmas.  Rather, I hope that we see the birth of Jesus Christ for what it was.  Not a beautiful, serene scene where everything was calm and bright.  Our Savior did not come to a world of comfort and ease.   The writer of the letter to the Philippians said:

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.   Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.

 The beauty of that night was not a calm, serene setting with radiant beams emitting from or around the baby.  The beauty of that night was how clearly it showed the love of God – sending His son not to the king’s palace or the rich man’s house, but to a dirty, cold, dark stable.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son!

That’s the “real” story of Christmas!