Will it be a Gem or Coal year?

Christmas is a time of wonder and joy for all.  A season of blessings and charity for others, but not every year goes accordingly.  This week I’d like to share with you some of my very best Christmases as well as the worst.  In the comments below, I would love it if you could share some of your Gems or Coals with me.

Christmas Eve

Christmas is magical as a child.  The anticipation of the gifts, the joy of being out of school, cookies, candy and the hope of catching Santa on the roof at midnight Christmas Eve, it’s all so perfect for children of any age.  For my family we usually spent Christmas in Massachusetts with both sets of grandparents.  The 24th was a dinner and opening presents at Nana and Papa’s in Norwood.  All of the cousins were there and one of us would be appointed to pass out the gifts.  It was a long process, as we were a full family of 16 and we had to wait turns opening each present.  But we would get through and by late evening my parents would bring us to Foxborough to my dad’s parent’s house.  My sisters and I were the only grandchildren, so it was a lot quieter than Norwood.  

Christmas day

I remember setting out cookies and carrots (for the reindeer) at night and going to bed with a smile on my face waiting for the jolly ol’ Saint Nick to deliver present. First thing in the morning I’d wake my sisters, parents and grandparents, then run to the tree, blazing with lights and boxes leading their way underneath the pine bows.  We’d have to wait until everyone was awake (my mom took the longest) but Grammy would make us breakfast – pancakes as my sisters and I would start on unwrapping the small gifts in our stockings. 

We’d play all day and by the afternoon we’d return to Connecticut.  For years upon years that was how Christmas went.  But families got older and some moved away so after a while it became just our single family enjoying Christmas at our house on Els Hollow.  

I moved to California in 1999 and from that point on Christmas became what I wanted it to be – or so I thought.  I met Jon in 2000 and with him each year has been different from the one before.  Christmas 2001 I thought for sure he was going to propose to me.  He had three envelopes and asked me to pick one I wanted.  I was excited beyond belief thinking, aww he wrote out the question and what, was the ring in his pocket… Nope, I opened the envelope and it was a picture of a Kitchen Aid mixer.  Sure, I wanted one and it would have been an awesome gift, but I had to bite my lip and stifle the burning tears of disappointment.  He knew something was wrong though and I had to tell him.  Luckily, he said that he had another plan for that.  My following birthday in June ended up being our engagement day.

The next year, Jon and I had moved to Illinois and by far the worst Christmas ever was when we broke up for all of fourteen hours on Christmas Eve.  I won’t get into the details (shocker!) but we needed time to adjust to our new life in the midwest vs. California – it was too much for Jon to handle – being poor from the move, living with so much family around, and having no time together since he went back to school.  So he panicked.  The next day though, he realized by a series of overly repeating songs on the radio – ones I still can’t listen to – that this was just a bump in the road, not the whole journey and we agreed to put off getting married and get used to the new life. 

The next Christmas, down on both knees Jon re-proposed.  The following December we married and a year and nine days later – Christmas day 2006 our son, Cameron was born.  Yep, he’s a Christmas baby!  And with his birth the magic of the holiday came back. 

The night before, Jon’s parents, my parents, three of my sisters, my brother-in-law and nephew were having a little party.  My due date was December 27th and I had been having strange pains and feelings all day.  I was restless and uncomfortable all night and by 10:30 pm Jon had to go into work.  His parents were staying at our house and we had all gone to bed after Jon left.  I settled down with A Christmas Story trying to sleep.  But just before midnight a huge contraction ripped through me and I screamed out for my mother-in-law.  The baby was on his way. 

By 2 a.m. my mother, mother-in-law and father-in-law drove down the emptied, snow-lined cobbled streets on the Hawthorne neighborhood.  It was an old street full of brightly lit Victorian houses.  Each one was decorated with wreathes, trees and twinkling lights as we drove cautiously down the bumpy street. My mother still tells the story of how magical it was.  We reached the hospital, met Jon and after a hard labor and finally a caesarean section, Cameron came into the world at 9:48pm Christmas night, weighing 7 pounds and 6 ounces.  He was the best Christmas present ever!

Since then Christmases are mostly hits with the occasional miss, but overall, it is still my favorite time of year.  I love the camaraderie of people in general, the songs, the baking, the secretive gift buying, Christmas cards, surprising family… all of it!!  And plus now, we get to have birthday cake on Christmas night!  So please, friends, family share with me one of your favorite Christmases or a worst, if you so feel the need and have a 

M E R R Y  C H R I S T M A S!!!!


Is that a red cape under your scrubs…


Superman… a strange visitor from another planet, sent to earth with powers and abilities beyond that of mortal men, and disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way!

That was the opening to the 1950s television series The Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves.  It sums up the life and story of Superman in one long sentence.  Of course, those aren’t the only details that make Superman the hero he became.  As a baby, Kal-El, was saved from death by his parents who sent him in a space craft across the galaxies as his planet, Krypton exploded.  He landed in Smallville, Kansas and found Martha and Jonathan Kent, who raised him as their son.  Soon, Clark Kent, as Kal-El was named, went on to find that he was different from the other kids around him.  He had powers that crept up like super speed,  x-ray vision, heat vision, tremendous hearing and smell; and best of all, being able to fly.  But Clark knew that there was more that he was destined to do beyond his small town and went out to explore the world before settling in Metropolis.  There, he met the girl of his dreams, Lois Lane, a spirited, raven-haired journalist.  With all these circumstances around him, Clark began to use his gifts for good and daily transformed himself into the blue-suited, red caped superhero that we all know and love – Superman.

There have been several reincarnations of Superman on both tv and the movies (oh and of course, the comic books).  From Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies to Dean Cain’s tv series The New Adventures of Lois and Clark and more recently Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel, where the story focuses on the life of Clark Kent while he was raised in Smallville, Kansas.  Now, how does this pertain to me …. I am a huge Superman fan.  Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who doesn’t mind my lust for the man in the red cape and, in fact, encourages it by buying me knick knacks, collectibles and multiple dvds.  Our most recent purchase was the series collection of Smallville and the day after we bought it we began what will probably be a year-long nightly marathon of the show  (there are 218 episodes).

Yesterday though, my husband Jon had an epiphany about his life in comparison with the young Clark Kent of Smallville.  So folks, I would like you to meet my husband (note he even wears glasses).

Jonathon James was born in Korea with the name Kim Ki Bum and adopted by a family in North Dakota.  His parents often have told me how his adoption, though it was planned, was not expected to come so quickly.  They were supposed to have a year long wait but it ended up being only a few months and the child that came off the airplane did not look like the baby’s picture they received from the adoption agency.  Instead of a healthy two-year old, this child was a sickly eighteen month old boy, malnourished, covered in chicken pox and suffering from pneumonia in both lungs.  They believe that perhaps the child they received was one that was not going to survive if he stayed in Korea, so the orphanage sent him out in search of the parents that could take care of him.

Jon survived because of that choice and in fact, never had a severe illness or even a broken bone from that moment on.  He was raised just miles from his grandparents multi-acred farm, living and working on the farm each summer.  But even as nice as Grand Forks, North Dakota was, Jon had a need to explore and find himself out in the world.  After a brief stint in college, he left his childhood home for the U.S. Navy, dare I say, to fight for the American way.  He travelled the country from Florida to Maine and finally San Diego, California, where he earned his Naval wings as an aircrew man and met the woman of his dreams, me – a tenacious, dark-haired writer.

When we married and settled in Illinois, Jon went back to school to become a registered nurse and today, he rescues and saves the lives of many in the surgical room of our local hospital.

Be it fate or just pure luck, 10 years ago this December 16th, I married my own, personal “super man” without even trying to.  I love you, babe!


41uy4q1pb7l-_ac_ac_sr9895_Dress your own Superman TODAY