Christmas Week ~ Part 2

On Friday morning, December 23 – the eve of Christmas Eve – I was feeling a need to go somewhere since we were having a quiet Christmas week.

We had our family’s Christmas celebration on December 4 because some of our family – especially grandchildren – had many other family celebrations. Having the meal early meant that each of our Pennsylvania family could attend.

When Cerwin came to the living room with our morning coffee, I asked if he wanted to do something “brave” that day – like going to a new (for us) Costco for some supplies we needed. 🙂 I chose that store because we had a $32.00 Costco check to spend.

He liked the idea, and upon checking the directions, learned that Harrisburg Costco is a bit closer than Lancaster Costco – where we usually go.

We left the house shortly before 2 pm – planning to shop then get supper at a steak house.

The trees in our area are quite bare of leaves these days.

With bare trees and ground cover, we can see deeply into woodlots.

Our first stop was Bass Pro – just to see what they had. We both enjoy this store.

We didn’t buy anything.

Costco isn’t far away from Bass Pro, but late afternoon Christmas traffic made the trip around the city quite slow.

It was difficult to find the usual things we get there because the store is set up quite differently, but we weren’t in a hurry so did eventually find everything we wanted.

As we were ready to check out, I looked for the shortest line and chose the first one. The line was long, but it was one couple with three carts – including two very large TVs and some other expensive-looking things – thinking this line shouldn’t take so long.

I noticed two men in black overcoats nearby and immediately thought there was a security problem in checkout. I was also trying to figure out if they were in our line or the next one. I followed their eyes and soon knew they were guarding someone.

Cerwin was talking to the man with the TVs – checking on the deal he got – and was oblivious to the men standing next to me.

The two men did not appear to have purchased anything, so I became more and more convinced that they were bodyguards for the couple in front of us. After the couple paid for their equipment, I paused a bit to see if the two men in black would move forward and go through the checkout.

They moved in lock-step and handed the clerk a Costco card. He handed them a piece of paper and they followed the couple with the TVs out of the store.

I do wonder who was in the checkout in front of us. 🙂

Later as I thought about that experience – after watching their eyes looking back and forth across the checkout lines, I thought about the blessing of having a God who does the same thing for me. He goes before me, guards each side of me, and is also my rearguard.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me a live example of having a bodyguard.

Because of the busy traffic in Harrisburg, we decided to go to the Outback Steakhouse in Palmyra. Can you guess what town we are going through in the above picture?

If you guessed Hershey, you got it right. 🙂

I enjoyed a few Christmas lights along the way.

The Roadhouse was busy and noisy, but the food was delicious. Cerwin got steak tips, I enjoyed shrimp and seasoned rice.

By the time we got to Mountain Road – our turn-off road from Route 72 – we hadn’t seen many Christmas lights, so Cerwin (knowing I was hoping to see some Christmas decorations) asked if I wanted to see Gloria Burkholder’s lights. Of course I said, “Yes.”

Shortly after passing Mountain Road, we came upon the above house and yard that were fully decorated – along with Christmas music. We stopped, watched the many moving lights and listened to the music.

At the south end of Manheim we came upon these decorated cars – giving the appearance that a police cruiser had stopped the one in front of it.

Santa Claus was in the cruiser.

Gloria’s beautiful property

As you can seek by her lake – it was a beautiful, calm evening.

From there we went home by Kreider Farms to see their silo.

Oh, what a delightful evening.

Christmas Week ~ Part 1

Sunday, December 18 through Tuesday, December 20

We started Christmas week by having lunch at Pizza Hut with most of Jeff and Chris’ family to celebrate a few 2016 birthdays – Chris, Donovan, Diana, and Gloria.

Oh, what fun to be with their family.

The next day (Monday) we enjoyed lunch with the staff at TFC’s International Office.

Jon (Lynn’s husband), Cerwin, Lynn, Danielle, and Carol

Waiting for the hot dishes to be put in place.

George (Jane’s husband), Jeff, Scott, Karen (Scott’s wife), Mike, Carol’s daughter (I don’t remember her name), Carol, Dan (hidden) and his wife, Melody.

Everyone brought something.


Lynn Kolb blessed us with a song as we enjoyed the food.

I don’t think most of us realized that she has a beautiful singing voice.

We posed for a staff picture after the meal: Left to right – Lynn, Ruth, Carol, Mike, Inge, Scott, Danielle, Dan, Bunny, Jim, Sam, Cerwin, Jeff, Jane, and me.

Tuesday evening I went outside to enjoy and photograph the beautiful sunset that filled the western sky.

Same sunset – but a bit more to the north.

What I was seeing through the dogwood tree on our patio.

It was a delightful beginning to our Christmas week.

Gingerbread Houses & Items for Lebanon VA Medical Hospital

Our Christmas Celebration on Sunday, December 4 – continued

While we put the food away after lunch, some of the family set up and designed six gingerbread houses. Ian, Marcy, Mother, Allie, Deb, Anthony, Abby, and Jesse.


Deb, Anthony, and Abby. Anthony enjoyed decorating the gingerbread men.


Ian Josiah, Deb, Allie, Anthony, Jesse, Mother, Abby

Josiah, Ian, Deb, Chris, and Allie

Those who didn’t want to make gingerbread houses visited in the garage or watched football in the man cave or living room. Marcy, Mother, Jordan, and Dustan.

Jere and Cerwin

Jesse decided to make a second one.

A finished one

This year was Roy and Deb’s turn to choose a project – in lieu of exchanging gifts. They chose the Lebanon VA Medical Hospital. The VA provided a list of items that are needed.

It was fun delivering these things to the VA today: shampoo, chap stick, disposable razors, tooth brushes, mouth wash, tooth paste, postage stamps, phone cards, word search books, etc.

Christmas Gifts and Games

Sunday, December 4

After the lunch items were put away, we put the Now-You-Have-It-Now-You-Don’t items on the floor. (Hidden in front of Jere and Kristen.) Then each person read the Bible verse that was given them – verses about the birth of Jesus.

When we were finished with the Now-You-Have-It-Now-You-Don’t game we had a contest to see who could pick up the most candy canes in one minute – by only using their mouth.

Jana and Marcy

Nate and Jared

Jere and Jesse

Ian and Jesse

There was a tie. Two people had 11 candy canes.

Someone else had 10 and there were a variety of other numbers.


Tomorrow night: Making gingerbread houses

Our Family Christmas Meal

Sunday, December 4

We planned our family Christmas celebration for the first Sunday in December because there are so many other family dinners that involve our children and grandchildren.

I was pleased that it suited each of our Pennsylvania children and grandchildren. I set the table for 27 – which included my step-mother.

It was also the day our grandsons Jesse and Jared were baptized after morning worship, so we celebrated their special day with a cake from Lititz Family Cupboard bakery – Cake & Cup.

I decided to make our lunch as simple as possible and chose haystacks this year.

It went over quite well, so it may become a tradition.

Our children and married grandchildren each brought one item for the meal: Jeff & Chris – apples and dip, Jere & Kristen – red beet and deviled eggs, Roy & Deb – cookies, Nate & Abby and Dustan & Jenna brought tortilla chips for the haystacks.

The boys focused on the desserts and snacks. 🙂

Tomorrow night I will show you the rest of our celebration.

Day 1 in Maine – Christmas

Monday Evening, January 4

DSC_6691After supper at Sea Dog, we went to Hannah and Lydia’s place to exchange a few gifts.

DSC_6693The gifts in the box were for Now-You-Have-It-Now-You-Don’t. I forgot to take pictures of that game.

I think we brought some of these gifts from Pennsylvania – given by Nate, Abby (their Pennsylvania daughter & sister), and Anthony.






DSC_6702Two chocolate bars for Diane.

Hershey Christmas

Saturday Evening, January 2

DSC_6563Our great-nephew Tavian

DSC_6565Our great-niece Elyse

DSC_6567Dot arranging some of the food.


DSC_6568My brother Clair (holding his grandson, Tavian), his wife Kate, and their son-in-law Rob watching the children playing.


DSC_6570It appears that something was funny.

DSC_6572Supper is served!











DSC_6588These next few pictures are fun. Our sister-in-law Brenda grabbed my camera as she watched the five Hershey siblings remising over childhood Christmas stories.

DSC_6590Dale, Nancy, Me, Clair, and Steve.

DSC_6592The Ziplock baggies included some of dad’s treasures that he found on the farm – the most valuable were some Indian relics – arrowheads, spearheads, etc. Our stepmother gave them to me a few years ago, so I had them identified by a local arrowhead expert.

DSC_6594This is the first time we were all in one spot since I had them identified last January.


DSC_6596Playing volleyball…

DSC_6601…with little ones weaving in and out among their feet.

DSC_6598Cute little Emma

DSC_6599Cousins: Laura, Jessie, Kate – and baby Anna


DSC_6603Molly checking out a dessert



DSC_6607It looks like Jenna and Madelynn are having a serious conversation.


That was a fun evening.

I love being with my family.

Christmas Supper With Cerwin’s Family

Sunday Evening, December 27

DSC_6259This meal included  those who could attend of Cerwin’s siblings, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Do you notice Nathan trying to get attention in the background?

DSC_6260Now you can see him! 🙂

DSC_6261Every married couple brought a hot and cold dish.

We had the buffet line in the kitchen to make room for everyone in the garage. I think there were 42 of us.




DSC_6278I expect the conversation of these five men (Elvin, Bryan, Jordan, Nathan, and Nathaniel) had something to do with things under the hood of vehicles.

Leslie and Pat are watching children.

DSC_6269Owen is the great-grandson of Cerwin’s sister Velda and her husband Mel.

DSC_6275Owen and his cousin Audrina – Mel and Velda’s great granddaughter

DSC_6272It’s fun having little ones at our family gatherings.

DSC_6263Our great grandson, Anthony

DSC_6270Bailey and Anthony exploring our toy-filled baskets

DSC_6277The four little ones on the floor – Bryson, Peyton, Anthony, and Bailey.

DSC_6276Bryson, Peyton, and Bailey are grandchildren of Cerwin’s brother, Elvin, and his wife, Pat.


We had a great evening of enjoying delicious food and each others company.

Our Family Christmas

Saturday Evening, December 26

0 (1)We do not do a lot of decorating for Christmas, but do try to make the garage area a bit festive.

0 (2)

0 (3)

1 (1)Jere and Kristen made the ham in their new smoker.

It was delicious.

1 (2)Deb and Chris discussing the table setting.

DSC_6248Our children and grandchildren make it easy for us. They bring all the food and we take care of the place, table settings, coffee, juice, water, and mocha punch.

1 (3)Nathaniel getting mocha punch

1 (4)Our dinner was a bit somber this year since Jere and Kristen’s special needs adopted “son” had just been taken to hospice and was near death – meaning Jere wasn’t there very long and Kristen wasn’t able to come at all.

3-1-1024x591They were glad that they had honored Gregg (in wheelchair) a few weeks earlier by taking him to see the Peanuts Movie – along with many other residents and caregivers.

They adopted him many years ago – so someone could legally care for him after his parents were gone. Though he could rarely put together full sentences, he conveyed to Kristen that he knew she would soon have to call the funeral home – “Not for Mamma or Daddy, but for me.”

He passed away a few days after Christmas.

1 (5)Back to our Christmas meal

1 (6)Nathan getting dessert

1 (7)

1 (8)


DSC_6249Reading the Christmas story from Luke 2.

DSC_6250I print out Luke 2, separate the verses, then hand them out in random order. Since everyone has heard the story many times, we read the verses in the order they receive them – not in verse order.

DSC_6251Deb reading her verse.

DSC_6253Playing Now-You-Have-It-Now-You Don’t.

DSC_6254Everybody receives three numbers. When their number is called, they choose an item. However, the item must stay in view of the others, because the item can be “stolen” until a person’s third number is called. Only then can the item be hidden behind their chair.

DSC_6255Anthony did not receive a number, but could choose any item he wanted. He thought he wanted these colorful bag clips, but soon decided that they were not a toy, so put them back and chose a bag of pretzels. 🙂

DSC_6256We loved the simplicity of this Christmas.

DSC_6387During the Thanksgiving holiday, when the children and grandchildren usually exchange names, it was decided to do something different this year – with the money they would have used in the gift exchange – and buy groceries for Manheim Food Pantry.

DSC_6389The food pantry appreciated the change in our Christmas exchange…

DSC_6850…and we were honored that our children made this choice.

Since the idea came from Jere and Kristen and their children, we decided that another one of our children will choose what we do next year.

Christmas Day at Landis Homes

Friday, December 25

DSC_6195This was our group of nine family members who were free to have Christmas lunch in Landis Homes Azalea Room with Cerwin’s mother. Clockwise: Cerwin, my empty chair, Juanita, Deb, Roy, Mother, Velda, Mel, Uncle John, Josiah.

DSC_6197From the other end of the table.

DSC_6199Josiah and Uncle John enjoying conversation.

Those who read my blog will remember that John had his 100th birthday a few days earlier.

DSC_6206After a delicious, delightful lunch, we took some pictures of and with Mother.


DSC_6213Mel, Velda, and Mother.

Velda is Mother’s oldest daughter.

DSC_6217Juanita and Mother.

Juanita was visiting from North Carolina and is Mother’s granddaughter – Bob and Doris’ oldest daughter.

DSC_6220Mother and Josiah.

Josiah is her great-grandson – our grandson – and Mark and Diane’s oldest son.

DSC_6225Deb, Mother, and Roy

Deb is her granddaughter – and our youngest daughter.

DSC_6228As we left West Campus to take Mother back to her room in East Campus, I took a few pictures of Christmas decorations.

We were glad that it was a warm day because we had to take her across the parking lot.



DSC_6234We had a delicious, delightful lunch.