Special Keepsakes, Future Heirlooms

I am very excited to share some of our latest projects! These 3x3" miniature portraits were commissioned as Christmas presents this last year. When we were first approached with this idea, I had to admit that I had never done charcoal on canvas or thought about mini portraits, but I was willing to try. As these were not going to be framed and instead were being turned into Christmas tree ornaments, I chose to do the portraits on canvas panels rather than on a traditional stretched canvas to reduce the chance of damage to the art. After completing the drawings, I sprayed them with a charcoal fixative to protect them from smearing and make them water resistant, (though I would still not recommend testing that last one.) The result was more than satisfactory!

I enlisted Hannah's help on this one to get them finished in time for Christmas. It is wonderful having talented siblings!

I enlisted Hannah's help on this one to get them finished in time for Christmas. It is wonderful having talented siblings!

Although I was initially a bit hesitant, I am now so grateful for the opportunity to do these! I love how they turned out, and I am looking forward to doing even more. (My Mom has already hinted that she wouldn't mind having one of each of her ten kids. We'll see. ;) )


Memories of a Dear Friend

The 26th of December has always been a special day in my mind. It was the birthday of a dear friend, and I wanted to write a bit about her today.

I grew up in the old section of Lancaster, and most of the neighbors had been there for decades. There were the Brandts; Louie and Annie were high school sweethearts who met at AV High, and built their house in the 50’s. Their classmates, the Troups, lived next to them. There was Charlie "The Bird Man", famous for his army of cats and the weekly bird feedings at nearby grocery stores. Mr. Pederson was the neighborhood watch. Bonnie and Maxine had over 15 fruit trees and had lived there long enough to watch my house being built next to theirs in ’59. And then there was Anna Alexander. Zander, as she liked to be called, lived a street away. I don’t remember how we met; it seemed like everybody knew everybody. More than likely it was one of Mom’s constant walks around the neighborhood. My earliest memory of her was wondering who this old lady was that my mom liked to talk to, and why did her dog hate me so much? But then the letters started to arrive. Every birthday, on my birthday, mind you, not before or after, there was a card in the mail wishing me a happy birthday from Zander and Spotcy, (Her bloodthirsty companion), with a crisp one dollar bill. And there was a Christmas card on December 23rd, again with a crisp Washington inside. Being a capitalist, born and bred, I decided that Zander was alright, and I should be her friend.

I began to spend time with her, and soon learned about her. She was a shut-in, widowed in ’88, and had one adopted daughter who never came around. But Zander was never a bitter person, so she surrounded herself with a new family. Everybody in the neighborhood would stop by from time to time to check up on her. Even the mail lady would give special instructions to her vacation replacements, ("You knock on the door, hand her the mail, and ask how she is doing. If she needs anything, tell the guy across the street.") She sent out cards to over 30 kids every year, and her afternoons were spent working a call board for school kids who were home alone. After her demon dog Spotcy died, she was given a new dog named Indie, and I began to come over more frequently, (Indie didn’t try to kill me). We would sit and work on our stamp collections, watch Dodger games, or just talk. Oh, the stories that she would tell! She grew up as the only girl in a family of 5. She was a former Quaker, who got detention multiple times for knocking out the local bullies at school, ("Nobody was allowed to pick on my friends.") Baseball was her passion, ("I was the best catcher, nothing could get past my bloomers.") She got her first job during the Great Depression, and the first time her daughter put her in a nursing home, she bribed the orderlies, broke out, and went home. Eventually, her age caught up to her, and she went home at the age of 97.

Yet she is not gone. I have a teapot that she gave me, and one of her cards stashed away complete with the $1 bill. I became a raving Dodger’s fan, and I learned the value of investing in the lives of others. That was her mission in life. Whether it was the childhood friend that needed protecting, random kids in an old neighborhood, or even those old folk as she called them at the nursing home during the last 2 years of her life, she saw others as treasures, and she treated them as such.


A Tree Of Memories


We have our tree up! In fact, we have three. All of them even have lights now, which actually proved more challenging than we thought. You see, first, we ran out of lights after two and a half trees (that's what happens when you go from one tree to three). So then we took the lights off one and a half of the trees and redistributed them. (The other tree had colorful lights, and we wanted the two remaining trees to have white.) After getting everything looking great (with the help of an outdoor light net), two strands of lights died on us. Daniel, our resident handyman, tinkered with them and succeeded in fixing one, but the second refused to be revived. Dad saved the day by running to the store for a few more boxes of lights, and we are now (hopefully) done with that step of decorating. Though I have to say, I was getting pretty good at stringing lights!

After the lights comes my favorite part of decorating for Christmas, putting the ornaments on the tree. As we pull them out of the box, it's more than just glass and glitter that we hold in our hands, it's a memory. Each one has a story. Some are store-bought, some hand made. Some are beautiful, some are downright ugly. All of them are treasures. The memories that come bring a variety of emotions. Most are joyful. We talk about who gave us this one and laugh at how the child (who is now an adult) made that one. However, some of the memories are bittersweet. We are reminded of those who are no longer a part of our lives, and we silently hang ornaments that belong to loved ones who can't be with us this Christmas. Each memory, though, in its own way is good, and we are grateful for them all. So, although it may look as though our tree is filled with an odd assortment of mix-matched ornaments, it really is filled with wonderful memories. As I look at our tree throughout the Christmas season, I am continually reminded of the many blessings I have received.  

~Elisabeth Macy~

Thirty-Five Years Later

Thirty-five years ago Michael and I exchanged our marriage vows before a crowd of loving and supportive friends and family and before our Lord. It was a beautiful ceremony, complete with evergreen trees and Christmas plaid and communion. However, there would have been no wedding if a solemn moment had not occurred a couple of months earlier in a stretch of desert land that is now covered over with shopping malls and parking lots. There surrounded by desert brush with only my dog and God as our witnesses, we vowed that divorce would never be an option for us. Indeed, we committed to never speak the word in relation to ourselves. So serious were we, as young twenty-somethings, that we agreed that it would be better to never know the joy of oneness than to allow the mere thought of divorce to disrupt our union. You see, Michael had experienced the heartbreak that divorce brings from a very personal perspective and knew that he never wanted to experience it again.

By God's grace, that very first vow of a young unmarried couple made to each other and more importantly to our Lord has been kept. Our marriage has had its share of good times and also of difficult, but through it all, God has been faithful beyond all that we dreamed or hoped for as nervous young kids standing at the altar. One of the most amazing gifts, at least to me as a female, is the ever deepening love we have for each other in spite of grey hair and wrinkles and my added padding. We truly do love and enjoy each other more today, far more, than we did thirty-five years ago as newlyweds. Tonight, and every December 5th, we celebrate the start of Our Peculiar Family, marveling at God's incredible goodness to us!