Giving Children The Gift of The Christmas Season

Christmas gifts.

Christmas gifts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I did a story on a sub Santa Program in my home town. Sub Santa provides gifts for those children that otherwise would not have a Christmas this year because of their family circumstances. I think Leo Buscaglia says it best when it comes to what we can do to help someone else.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Leo Buscaglia

This is brief excerpt of the story that will appear in The Courier Sentinel this week.

Dawn Navarra has been working with the Sub Santa program sponsored by the Wells, Minnesota Lake and Kiester Lions Clubs for 12 years. It is the smiles on the faces of the children, knowing that they are going to get a gift that puts a smile on Dawn’s face. “When I see that smile on the face of a child it goes way into my heart.”

Sub Santa started many years before that at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, organized by Audrey Schroeder. The Lions became involved with the program about eighteen years ago.

Sub Santa provides gifts for children who might not otherwise have a gift under the tree on Christmas. Trees with tags are set up in area banks in Kiester, MN Lake and at three banks in Wells.

This might be a story about three small communities in Minnesota but the Caring and Sharing and Sub Santa programs are helping all across the nation sponsored by different groups and different individuals. Please take the time to find one and put a smile on a child’s face this Christmas.

There is a real need in our communities,” Navarra shared, “Until you
work with it, you don’t really know.

We don’t know unless we experience it ourselves. The entire article can be read in the Courier Sentinel. Like their Facebook page for updates on their new website coming soon.

Remember what you do to help someone else, may change their lives forever.

My Christmas Tree has Gone To The Cats!

IMG_0867Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

Meow, meow, meow — meow, meow, meow — meow, meow, meow, meow, meow.

It might take a little bit of the imagination but put those Meows, to the tune of “Jingle Bells,” and you have cats meowing “Jingle Bells.” I happened to find this song on YouTube. It was a teaser for an entire DVD of cat songs. I must tell you, it caught my cats attention. Boris and Nathasha were very taken with the song.

It is the Christmas season again. Last year we had one cat, Boris. He was young and was a little in awe of all the lights on the tree.

It is a tradition that Thanksgiving evening my grandchildren help put up Grandma’s tree and decorate the house. They are almost 10 and 6. The 6-year-old last year waited with baited breath because he felt he was old enough to put the glass decorations on the tree. He was a little deflated when I explained that my antique glass decorations were not going to go on the tree because we were not sure of Boris reaction to the tree.

In January, we adopted Natasha. She is part Siamese and is very thin-boned, graceful, sneaky, cunning and lovable. Fast forward to this December, Nathasha is still thin boned, graceful, sneaky, cunning, busy and lovable.

Boris is 14 pounds, not overweight, but a huge cat. He is laid-back, cuddly, watchful and lovable. This year, I explained to my grandchildren that we would have to see how our tree matched wits with Natasha. There would be no breakable ornaments at all on the tree until we knew how she would react.

For those of you who are empty-nesters and cat lovers, you know that you treat your cats a little like you treated your little children. Kids are always into everything, and it is the same way with your cat children. In our case, our littlest child that we are constantly watching is Natasha.

The tree wasn’t up for very long when my son started laughing. The tree was shaking, but you couldn’t see anything. Yes, it took us a little while to locate Ms. Natasha nestled halfway up the tree hidden in the branches. I should mention we have a prelit artificial tree because of allergies. She was so far hidden in the tree we had a hard time reaching in and getting her out. The next morning, my grandson informed me that he had found her at the top of the tree by the angel, when Natasha saw my grandson, she made the high jump from the top of the tree to the ground.

Enter Boris. Boris has been watching Natasha. He loves to lay under the tree and watch her mischief as if to say “What are you doing!!”

However Natasha’s antics finally got to him. I heard a few crashes one morning and came out to see that Borris had tried climbing the tree. He is too big to get inside and hide. There he was, halfway up laying on a branch that was halfway down, and he was holding on for dear life. He looked like a bull in a china shop. I carefully lifted him off of the branch.

We had been using a spray bottle occasionally to get Natasha to quit climbing the tree. My husband asked me why I didn’t get it out for Boris. I explained that if we would have scared Boris, because he is so big and clumsy, the entire tree would have crashed down.

Not too much scares Natasha. She likes to try and ride the vacuum cleaner. I got an alarm for the kitchen countertop that sounds off when something jumps on it. She loves it and likes to make it go off. The louder the noise, the more she is interested so the spray bottle scares her for a time, say seconds, and then she is back for more.

Her latest trick is to only climb when we are sleeping. I know this because she leaves clues behind. When we are awake she now lays under the tree and bats at the ornaments that she can reach when she thinks we aren’t looking. If you sit down near her when she is doing this she stops with her paw in the air and starts licking her paw. Her look that she gives you says “I’m not doing anything.” She keeps this up until we move and then she goes back to batting the ornament (unbreakable).

My granddaughter and grandson are on cat watch. They text me and ask if the tree is still up. They are so interested in what my cats are doing that it is becoming part of the family tradition.

Christmas is a time for kids. They may receive presents and be excited about Santa, but what they will remember years down the road is our escapades at Christmas with family traditions. Our grandchildren will remember the time we spent together trying to outwit the shysters as I call my two mischievous cats.

My decorations aren’t perfect, but they are the handiwork of little hands making my house look festive. Those decorations will stay right where they were placed whether it fits or not. I like Charlie Brown Christmas Trees, imperfect, reminding us that the season is what we make it with what we have. Memories, weaved by a family, will last forever in the hearts of those we love.

Interesting Face and Interesting Places

rp sign Rustic PInes Tree Farm siloMy journey this week has taken me to the interviewing platform with one of the papers that I write for, The Courier Sentinel. Each week after my interviews and after they appear in the paper,with the parties permission, I will give some highlights on this blog. Isn’t that what this n that is all about?

This week I had so much fun. I visited the Rustic Pines Tree Farm. The Tree Farm is located  south of of Kiester, Minnesota and is owned  by Keith and Carol Rinehart and their sons.

Immediately upon getting out of my car I saw the smiles  on the faces of a family that had found their perfect Christmas Tree. I watched as the tree was shaked (yes, they shake, rattle and roll the tree) to get the old needles out of the tree. It is then baled so it is easier to haul and get into a house. Walking around the property I remembered the  times I spent in the fall and winter walking around my Grandmother’s Farm. I loved the knots in the trees, the cool Silo, which has a story of it’s own that I hope to tell early in the next year, and the beauty and peacefulness of walking through the different types of Evergreen Trees.

Walking into the gift shop my greeting was a cup of warm cider and a warm stove surrounded by barrel chairs for me to sit and  enjoy the smell of the evergreen wreaths as they were being made. Complementing that were the hand-made crafts made by different crafters from the area that were available for sale. The friendliness of the owners and their staff and the atmosphere they provided kept me smiling for a long time.

It calmed my soul to walk among the trees and sit by the fire and feel the season coming to life.

If you want to know more, check out this weeks Courier Sentinel. The paper is expanding online after the first of the year. The link for the Facebook Page for the paper is listed above. I will list the links for the Tree Farm:,

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, Much Pleasure Do You Bring Me. (From the song, Oh Christmas Tree)