‘Twas the eve before Christmas
And all through our dwelling
The thrill of the season
Was growing and swelling
The lights were all shining
The presents were wrapped
And I and my sister
For in a few hours
We’d pack up our stuff
And head to my grandma’s
All bundled and muffed
On the short drive
Our excitement was mounting
For soon we’d eat food
Open presents, and do gifting
Nana met us with cheer
As she opened the door
And Papa placed parcels
By the tree on the floor
First we trooped to the table
To gobble and dine
On luscious food
Of most every kind
Then we all gathered
In the room by the fire
All bundled and snuggled
For the rest to transpire
My dad read the story
Of that first Christmas day
We listened intently
Then he asked us to pray
After the reading
Sister and I took the floor
To present our creation
That had been quite a chore
Clad in Dad’s shorts and oversized shoes
We enacted “Papa’s Adventures”
The tales of our grandpa
And his hilarious misadventures
The family all laughed
And poked fun in jest
We all were so happy
And we felt very blessed
Next was gift time
And I was oh so excited
We all gathered ‘round
The tree that was lighted
Presents were opened
And scattered around
The paper piled up
‘Til we couldn’t see the ground
We played with our toys
Until late into night
When our eyes grew heavy
And we fought sleep with great might
Then we packed up our car
And made the trek back
Each with our gifts
All stuffed in our sack
But it wasn’t the presents
That made that year good
It was the time with my family
And the joy of childhood
It’s been many years
Since that one special day
But it’s forever in my heart
And there it will stay
Written by Taylor Hayden
Merry Christmas from the DBU Writing Center!
May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes & gravy have nary a lump,
May your yams be delicious, may your pies take the prize,
May your Thanksgiving dinner stay off of your thighs.
~ A Thanksgiving Poem by C.J Beaman
Everyone’s pretty familiar with the button-bursting power of Thanksgiving food, but what about the cool traditions? Can you think of any in your family? While you ponder, I’ll share a few of mine.
For starters, my family is a bit dispersed, letting life sweep us up and scatter us about as the years pass. On Thanksgiving, however, we are always sure to fly in, drive in, or dogsled in to spend time with one another. Then the next concern is that year’s Thanksgiving dinner host. As with most families, it’s hard to decide where to enjoy this special meal: who has the largest TV, most seating, and who’s cooking? This brings me to our first two Thanksgiving traditions, 1) that we disregard the first two concerns and 2) simply pack into my great grandmother’s house, sporting rumbling tummies for the meal she elected to cook.
Speaking of, our third tradition is being non-traditional with our Thanksgiving meal. Not in the “adding a little nutmeg to the pumpkin pie recipe” kind of way but a complete switch-a-roo. One year, the family table was decorated with necessities for a Mexican-food themed Thanksgiving. Dishes of chips, salsa, sour cream, and fresh veggies surround a couple of flour and corn tortillas filled with beef and cheese. The year before, a tart fragrance would linger in the air from my aunt’s mouth-watering lemon peppered fish served on a bed of white rice. Last year, to be even more rebellious, we didn’t even bother preparing a meal. Instead we pitched in for Kentucky Fried Chicken, which worked out imPECKably.
After gobbling down our chicken-fixin’s or whatever else we’ve determined to eat that year, my family and I, in all our largeness, usually gather around to watch the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving game. With great pride and admiration for “America’s Favorite Team,” we sport our jerseys (both real and not) and shout at our favorite players through the TV, with comments varying between congratulatory and critical – based on each play.
Our final Thanksgiving Day tradition is to put up our Christmas tree. That’s right folks, with bellies full from our Thanksgiving meals, we pull out my mom’s pack of 500 silver and gold Christmas ornaments. By nightfall, our Frosty the Snowman figurine is back in its proud position on the coffee table with fresh batteries in his back and a pep in his step (as he is motion activated to dance). Waving another successful Thanksgiving goodbye, my family and I eagerly welcome that big day in December, with tinsel, lights, and hundreds of ornaments – we make it rain Christmas on Thanksgiving.
Written by Ashley
When the sun rises on the tired old street of Nottingham, the quiet Sunday morning descends on the neighborhood with a hushed whisper. The small street is entirely abandoned, save for a single elderly gentleman hobbling to his car with the aid of a cane. Both sides of the street are lined with plain, single-story houses, many of which have run-down cars in the driveway. All in all, the neighborhood is nothing much to speak of; there are several dozen others like it in the city.
However, there is one house on the street, right in the middle of the block, which has a large rose trellis out front. Now, these roses in and of themselves are nothing special either, but they set the house apart from the others. This house is cared for. While most others have too-long grass and sparse flower beds, this one is clean and well-kept. The front is lined with colorful flowers and the grass looks recently mowed. But the special part about this house is not the outside, but the people inside.
The family that lives there is young, unlike most of the residents of the neighborhood. The husband is a quiet character, but he loves to laugh and joke around. His wife is his perfect complement, with a loud and out-spoken personality. They don’t have much money to speak of, but they make do; they are happy. With them lives their infant daughter, a tiny, round bundle, all bald and smiley.
Despite the dreary nature of their street, it is the perfect place for the little girl to grow up. The empty streets will soon become her playground, the cracked sidewalk her race track. Here, she will have her first interaction with nature and adventure. While the old brick house won’t see her first prom, and the driveway won’t house her first car, they’ll still be some of her first memories. Alongside her sister, who isn’t even a thought yet, she will grow into a writer and explorer, all thanks to that house, on that street, in that neighborhood.
Written by Taylor
Father’s Day signifies something different for every father and child. For many, the day presents precious moments of reflective acknowledgement and expressed appreciation. It can be a time of community in which we have the opportunity to place ourselves in our Fathers’ shoes, to momentarily see our small worlds through their eyes.
Eager to understand how and why Father’s Day is so important to us, I asked some fathers in my Church community some questions about fatherhood and how they felt about Father’s Day.
[Me]: What’s your favorite part of being a dad?
[Dad A]: I’ve loved watching my kids grow closer to God. I’ve loved watching them use their skills and talent to glorify Him!
[Dad B]: My favorite part is the privilege and opportunity I have to father three human beings. I get the chance to disciple them so that they’ll become people who will carry the same legacy.
[Dad C]: When I get to teach them God’s ways and see them following His leading.
[Me]: What are your favorite memories of your children? Do you have any particular parenting experiences that you value most?
[Dad A]: Family holidays for sure. Fishing in Southern England with my kids was one of my favorite things to do. We’d spend weekends and summers laughing together on the beach, climbing rocks, and catching crabs.
[Dad B]: Summer vacations! We got to spend quality time together as a family.
[Dad C]: I think my favorite part was the whole thing: seeing them grow into the people they are now. I love thinking back to the days when they were still dependent on me. They’ve changed so much and have different personalities! I can’t believe how much they have overcome. They faced so many challenges when we moved here to the United States.
[Me]: What do you consider to be your strengths/strong-suits when it comes to being a father?
[Dad A]: I’m not sure if I have strong suits.
[Dad B]: I believe my strength is my ability to meet them at their level. I can be their Dad and their friend at the same time.
[Dad C]: I’ll do whatever it takes to protect my kids.
[Me]: What do you consider to be your shortcomings/areas of improvement when it comes to being a father?
[Dad A]: I have lots of those! I think one thing in particular is that I don’t think I tell them I love them enough.
[Dad B]: My weakness is definitely my temper!
[Dad C]: My weakness is that I don’t want to see my family sad. And I’m really good at spoiling my kids too!
[Me]: Finally, is Father’s Day special to you? If so, why?
[Dad A]: It reminds me of my solemn responsibility to be a Father to my children and it connects me back to the fatherhood of God in my life.
[Dad B]: It feels so special to get all of the attention for a day. You get to feel like you’re passing on a legacy to your kids – especially the love of Christ!
[Dad C]: It’s a time to reflect upon what I am lacking in as a Father, a time to receive my family’s affirmations, and a time to mend and evaluate my shortcomings.
Week after week, I watch these fathers invest their time, love, and wisdom into the lives of their children. I cannot help but think of how privileged we are to have such guardians. I know many do not have the opportunity to experience the protection, guidance, and friendship of an earthly father; but we are all blessed to have a heavenly Father. And if such delight can be found in the love of a human father, how much more in the divine love of our gracious God!
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11 (ESV)
Written by Jeka
Image credit: Jeka Santos
Mother’s Day, a time in early May, has been dedicated to celebrating the mommies, mothers, mamas, and moms across the nation for many years. Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day founder, dedicated her life to honoring the great women who’ve endured much hardship for their children while continuing to be poised and graceful (History.com staff para.1). For the women whose love for their family is so unique, moms deserve a day dedicated to celebrating them in a spectacular way. Here are a few ideas for D.I.Y. gifts to wow any mom on Mother’s Day.
First on the list of gnarly gizmos and gadgets is a D.I.Y charm bracelet. This simple yet elegant gift is gentle on the pockets, easy to make, and still very personal to that special lady. To make this charm bracelet, you will need a chain, jump rings, a lobster claw clasp, and a few meaningful charms. You can add as many or as few as you’d like and still achieve a one-of-a-kind look that will make Mommy smile. This gift will also allow you two to grow and improve the gift over time, as the charms can be updated and multiplied with time. As she sports this sweet act of love around her wrist, she will always be reminded of your appreciation for her as will everyone else.
Help Mama soak away the stress of being a mom, amongst other things, with a D.I.Y Spa in a Jar and D.I.Y Scrubs. To create a scrub your mom will love, take a small container, some white or brown sugar and pair it honey, olive oil or coconut oil, and a few drops of an essential oil she likes. After using this delicious-smelling concoction, she will have skin to die for! To fashion a Spa in a Jar, simply grab a large mason jar and fill it with those D.I.Y scrubs, lip balm, a face mask, and any other helpful trinkets for relaxation. Next, decorate the jar with some of her favorite colors and a nice ribbon. She will definitely appreciate the lovely gesture from you and the reminder for her to treat herself.
Finally, go the classic route with a spectacular Mother’s Day themed meal. Rock your mother’s taste buds with some fabulous flap-jacks, sausage, and an omelet the size of your head. For the moms more inclined to heartier meals, home-made-bacon-and-cheese-burger sliders would be a great choice. If you’re more of a Pizza Roll microwaver, simply make some fresh lemonade and chocolate covered fruit for a mouth-watering reaction. My mom will be receiving a Spa in a Jar as well as a tasty Mother’s Day meal. Whatever you decide to make, or try to make, your mom will love and welcome it.
Show her a little gratitude with these cute and easy D.I.Ys. Remember, there is no judgement if you go crazy with hearts in these D.I.Ys as long as you have fun in creating them and use them as tools to show just how much you love and cherish your mom, mommy, mama, and mother.
History.com Staff. ” Mother’s Day.” History.com, 2011.
Written by Ashley
As a child, I hardly noticed it: how hard he worked and the gradual toll it was taking on his health. For the longest time, I thought men were born with hands as worn and callused as his. I loved his hands, though rough and dry, and as I grew, I began to examine them more closely.
“Daddy, where’d you get these scratches from?” I’d ask, holding his tired hands in mine while sitting in his lap. “Oh, I got those from a box cutter. I’ve been crawling through an attic all day installing air ducts.” It seemed like every day his hands could tell a completely different story. “Daddy, why is your thumb nail blue? Did you paint it?” I’d ask, smiling. “No, sweetie,” he’d reply with a grin, “That’s not paint. I smashed it at work today and it bruised. It’ll only be like that for a little while.”
I loved hearing my daddy’s work stories and asking him questions about his scars and scrapes and bruises. He was the epitome of Superman, and at times, I thought he was invincible. To this day, I continue to ask him questions about his hands, arms, and legs, yet I no longer find the same amusement in his responses.
“Daddy, why are you limping tonight?” I ask, for it is becoming a common occurrence. “My knees just start giving out around this time. They’ll be better in the morning.” “Dad, why are you dragging your arm like that?” I question. I’ve noticed he’s been favoring it lately. “Oh, don’t worry about it. The doctor thinks I’ve torn my rotator cuff. I might need surgery, but it’ll be back to normal in no time.” This is the most recent response I’ve received, and my stomach churns because of it.
My dad has worked the same job for my entire life. He’s worked days, nights, and many weekends for as long as I can remember. Why? Because he wants nothing more than to provide anything his family needs or desires. My dad works circles around his coworkers. People from cities and states across the nation wait days for service because they would rather have my dad’s hands working on their houses than anyone else’s. My dad is known, not only for his hard work and dedication, but for his honesty and loyalty to his customers. My dad loves his family more than anything else in the world, even when we fail to appreciate him for everything he does for our well-being.
Tears fill my eyes as I write these things about my daddy. He is one of my strongest role models, and I don’t do enough to show him how much he means to me. However, this alone is not the sole reason for my remorse. My heart is even more contrite by the lack of appreciation shown for my other dad: my Heavenly Father.
Like my dad, my Heavenly Father has worked the same job for my entire life. He’s been there by day, night, and every single weekend. Why? Because He wants nothing more than to provide for the needs and desires of His children. My Father works circles around all others. People from many cities, states, and countries around the world call upon Him daily because they desire my Father’s hands to work and move in their hearts and households. My Father is known, not only for His love, diligence, and dedication, but for His honesty and loyalty to those who rely on Him. My Father loves me more than anything else in the world, even when I fail to appreciate Him for everything He does for my well-being.
I can’t even imagine what our Father’s hands must look like. I wonder if they’re as worn and coarse as my daddy’s. Unlike my dad’s, His work never ceases. He is constantly building and creating and working for our good. He takes no breaks. He receives no vacations. Yet, I’m sure that His hands remain as strong as the love He has for us. Wouldn’t you think?
This Father’s Day, I encourage you to talk to your dad. I’m not talking about a simple “thank you” or “I love you.” Tell him how much he truly means to you. Take a long, hard look at his hands and recognize how much he might be sacrificing for you. But don’t stop there. Take even more time to talk to your Heavenly Father, and continue to do so as long as His breath is in your lungs.
Happy Father’s Day!
Written by Haley
Image credits: Haley Briggs