Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Memories (by Janie Minten)

It is Christmas Eve, 2013, and the three of us have just returned from our family's annual evening together which included lots of food and a visit from Santa Claus himself.  It brought back many memories, and I'd like to share some with you.

Dorothy, Esther, and I love Christmas and have many, many memories of South Texas holiday celebrations with our mom and dad, aunts, uncles, a myriad of cousins, close family friends, and of course, each other. Our father’s Dutch heritage was dominant in our family, and for that reason many of our childhood memories of Christmas revolve around customs that our grandparents brought with them from the Netherlands.

One of the traditions took place every year on December 24. On that special evening, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even some friends who were like family would gather at one of the homes where we would anxiously await the arrival of Santa Claus.

When it became dark, we children would anxiously peer out of the windows, going from one side of the house to the other, looking for our first glimpse of Santa. You see, we all lived out in the country on farms, so wherever the party was held, Santa always had plenty of room to land his sleigh out in a field or pasture far away from the prying eyes of children, so we didn’t know from which direction he would come. We would be very quiet as we looked out for him, for we knew that we might hear the sound of his bell before we would see the light from his lantern. It was so exciting, but also a little scary!! (This was in the days before electricity in our homes!)

The adults were into this, too. They would be there with us, looking and listening, and to add to the authenticity of this yearly event, one of them would say, “Did you hear that? I think it’s Santa!” Or they would point up into the sky and say, “There he is! I saw the sleigh and reindeer!”

That would make us little ones look and listen that much harder. And then, we would really hear it—the rhythmic ringing of Santa’s cowbell! We’d rush to the windows on the side of the house we thought the sound was coming from and then we’d see him in his red suit with his white beard just barely discernable in the glow of his lantern as he walked the distance from where he had left his sleigh. One of the grown-ups would go quickly to the door and invite him in, and what an awesome thing that was for us! There stood Santa Claus himself.  We did not rush up to grab him. In fact, we would hang back, sometimes standing close to one of our parents for a little protection. We certainly did not yank on his beard, because WE ALREADY KNEW HE WAS REAL!

Santa had gifts for the good kids, and all of us were quite sure we fell into that category. But, you never knew for sure, because Santa might have remembered something you had forgotten from the past year!!

He would begin handing out gifts, calling the names of the recipients in his booming voice. It was such a relief when you heard your own name called, because, if you had been naughty, Santa Claus would wait until all the gifts were handed out, then he would call your name, tell everyone you had been bad, grab you, stuff you into his now empty toy sack, and take you back to the North Pole where he would make you into a doll. (Just a personal note: It never bothered me to think that my dolls had been bad little girls!  I never connected the two.)

Just to emphasize that he meant business, he would usually start pulling someone toward him, but then an adult would usually talk him out of it, saying that the child really was a pretty good kid. Christmas, 1930, stands out in Dorothy’s memory. She was three years old, and our parents were hosts to the family. At the time our family was still living in the original house built by Grandpa Peter J. Minten, and every one was in the kitchen. Santa Claus actually did put seven-year-old cousin, Buddy Boerjan, in his sack, and he left with him. He must have changed his mind, because he let Buddy go when he was out of sight of the others. This story was handed down for years, and it made believers out of the next generation!

It was not until I was an adult reading a book of Dutch Christmas customs, that I learned this was a Dutch practice. Sinter Klaus comes from Spain on a ship, rides a white horse while in The Netherlands, and takes naughty children back to Spain in his toy sack. It didn’t mention what he does with them, and I somehow think that the “doll story” was a result of our Aunt Annie’s very active imagination. She was always doing something to make our holidays exciting.

Now you know why we had a good healthy fear of Santa as well as great love for him. You've got to admit, it was a great way for our parents to remind us all year that we’d better be good. And besides that, he had a way of watching us through the windows at our house. At various times after Thanksgiving, we’d be doing dishes or one of our other chores in the kitchen at night when we’d hear a scratching noise on the window screen and turn to see his face peering in the window at us. Then he would disappear. Dorothy and Esther learned years later that it was Aunt Annie, our dad’s sister, doing the honors. Dorothy and Esther carried on the tradition when I was little.

Our mother loved Christmas, too, and she would decorate the whole house. The home where we grew up was the second house built in 1926, by Peter John Minten, and many of those childhood Christmas Eve parties were held there when it was Mom and Dad’s turn to be hosts to the family. Today, that same house is our Christmas store, Santa's Texas Workshop.

We never lost our childhood awe of the holiday, and as adults we continue to celebrate in very special ways including that family party on Christmas Eve. These days, we meet at Cousin Leona Hill’s home for this annual event. Santa still comes, but the story of being taken back to the North Pole if you've been naughty is a thing of the past. Everyone brings food, and we eat and visit and have fun together. There are a lot of little ones in our family right now, as our cousin's grandchildren have children who are getting to experience this Christmas Eve tradition.  They are not all there every year, as they spend Christmas Eve with their spouses' families every other year.  That's a nice tradition in itself!

While the children all get gifts, we adults often exchange gifts through the person of Santa Claus. This is a great way of giving someone a gag gift without ever having to admit who it is really from! However, more often than not, the gifts are very nice, and we do find out who slipped them into Santa's bag.

There were five children in our dad's family. When we were young, the families of Tillie, Henry, and Johnny  all lived within “yelling distance” of one another, so we played together all the time. We also knew we had lots of cousins from the Albert Minten family in the San Antonio area, and sometimes they came to see us (although it was not at Christmas). As a result of this, many of the cousins who are still living are very close to each other today.

Tonight, as I sat and watched the children receiving their gifts from Santa, I could not help looking around at the faces of those who are in their 70's and 80's now as they proudly watched their great-grandchildren receiving their gifts from Santa.  Some of our cousins, who would be in their 90's and 100's,  have gone home to Heaven to be with God, but through the memories of Christmas Eves past, they were all there with us tonight.

I couldn't help but think that Peter John and Marijke (Mary) Siemonsma Minten would be proud if they could see their many descendents still gathering together to celebrate Christmas.  The little children who were there tonight are their great-great-great-grandchildren.  Who knows, perhaps on this most special night of the year when Jesus was born, God does allow those who dwell with Him to have glimpses of their families here on Earth.  I'd like to think so.  I'd also like to think that all of our ancestors are proud of what we have become.

As children, we did eventually learn the truth about Santa Claus. Different members of the family had played the part, including Aunt Annie and Cousin Mary Boerjan (Bone), who were really good Santas. But the most important thing that we learned was the true meaning of Christmas. While Santa is a wonderful figment of the imaginations of our ancestors, and of ours, Jesus Christ is real in each of our lives today. Our parents did a good job of raising us to know the difference. It never crossed our minds to question the reality of Jesus’ birth, His life, His death on the Cross of Calvary, or His Resurrection. He truly lives for us and in us today.

I pray that each of you, my readers, will have a very blessed and merry CHRISTmas. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Call for Reservations

Call us at 361-325-2068 or 800-276-4339 to make reservations to tour The Christmas House.  We will be open until March 31, 2011.

Yes, we are completely booked for tours in December, but it doesn't hurt to try.  Tonight we had a cancellation for tomorrow afternoon,   Someone called and wanted that time, so we were able to book them in on short notice.  We do have cancellations, and we fill those times on a first come, first served basis, so that is why it is a great idea to at least try.

We have a couple of 9:00 a.m. times available in January, and we are now making reservations into February.

So, don't be discouraged.  Just pick up the phone and call us.  You never know what might be available.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Misdirected by Google and GPS

A word to the wise: If you're coming to The Christmas House or Santa's Texas Workshop (reservations and appointments required), please DO NOT GOOGLE US! And DON'T RELY ON A GPS!  Occasionally a GPS will find us, but more often than not, GPS and Google think we are miles and miles west of Falfurrias on the way to Hebbronville!  We are actually north of Falfurrias.  After you make a reservation, we send a written confirmation with a map--use that!  Otherwise, call and we'll give you directions.  Or we can e-mail a copy of our brochure that has the map on it.

The problem:  Falfurrias is in Brooks County, and while that is our address, we are actually located in Jim Wells County.  Both have a County Road 401!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas is on its way!

Thanksgiving is over, and now it's time for the world to think about Christmas in earnest.  As the lights begin to twinkle on trees and garlands and in the windows of homes and stores, Dorothy, Esther, and I realize that the rest of the world has caught up with us! 

The pre-Christmas hustle and bustle can sometimes crowd out the true meaning of Christmas, so as you prepare to celebrate with family and friends, please don't forget why we do it.  We are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Take time daily during the coming weeks to remember.  Make sure your children and grandchildren understand the true meaning of this holiday (holy day).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Store Open Thanksgiving Afternoon

You Are Invited
Santa's Texas Workshop (the Christmas store) will be open on Thanksgiving Day from 1:30 until 6:00 p.m. 
Come and bring someone with you.
Everyone is welcome.

We do not conduct tours of The Christmas House on Thanksgiving Day.
Just the store will be open for shopping
(no appointment needed).

You may shop at Santa's Texas Workshop all year long,
but you must have an appointment.

You may make reservations to see
The Christmas House.
We will be open until March 31, 2011.

361-325-2068    or    800-276-4339

Please click on one of the links right below this and share this post with your friends.
Thank you!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

On Thursday, the 21st, we drove to Belton (300 miles north of home).  That evening, we attended the dedication of the beautiful, new president's home on the campus of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. A buffet dinner was part of that dedication.  It is a beautiful home.

On Friday, I attended the Board of Trustees' meeting while Dorothy and Esther participated in the activities planned for the spouses (or in their case, the sisters) of the trustees.  During the day, we all attended the ribbon cutting and dedication of Garner Hall, a new apartment complex that houses 140 students on the campus.   UMHB's enrollment is growing so fast that during the board meeting we okayed another new housing project to be completed before the beginning of the 2011 fall semester begins. 

Click here to read more about The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

After the meeting ended, we drove back to San Antonio, had a quick meal at a Pizza Hut, and then checked into our hotel.  We watched the end of the game as the Texas Rangers beat the Yankees (yea!!!!).  The next morning, we had breakfast and then drove home.  By 1:30 p.m. we were ready to greet a group that had reservations to tour The Christmas House.

It was a whirlwind trip, but we enjoyed every minute of it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fantastic weekend!

When we were growing up, there was a couple who lived about two miles down the road from us near La Gloria School.  They were from the Netherlands, as were our Minten grandparents, and while they didn't know each other in the "old country," they became friends here in Texas.  They had three sons, and one of them was our dad's best friend when they were young.  He and one of his brothers moved to Houston where they married and raised their families.  The third brother moved back to the Netherlands.

The Houston families would come down for visits, and since their children were close to my age, we played together along with some of our cousins.  Both of our grandmothers had passed away before I was born, so their grandmother was like mine, too, and they willingly shared her.  In fact, she and her husband were so much a part of our extended family that they were included in all family functions.  They even took their turns hosting the family Christmas Eve parties where Santa Claus made his annual visit to bring a special early gift to each child in the family.  (We have LOTS of cousins!) 

I loved it when mother had to go somewhere, and I was allowed to stay with Tante!  She baked fresh bread every Monday, and there was always a special little round loaf just for me!  She made good Dutch cookies, too.

Well, their grandchildren and and all of us kids down here in South Texas grew up, miles separated us, and time spent working and just living our lives kept us apart except for short visits here and there.  It was only after all of us retired that we were able to get together again.  Now it is almost an annual event for them to come down here one weekend in the fall, and that 2010 weekend has just ended with lots of happy memories.

It all started Friday evening when the three of us joined the Houston families at King's Inn (40 minutes from our house on the Texas Gulf Coast at Loyola Beach on Baffin Bay) for a seafood dinner--their treat to us!  Lettuce and tomato salad with slices of avocado, sliced tomatoes, fish, shrimp, oysters, onion rings, fries, and the world's very best tartar sauce!  Actually, it's the world's best everything on the menu!  Oh, my, it was super delicious! 

One of their friends and his wife from Houston also came down for the weekend, because he grew up in Falfurrias and we know him quite well.  They were also at King's Inn for dinner.   

The next morning, we had a group coming at 9:00 for a tour of The Christmas House.  Then at 1:30 all of the Houston group and a few of our cousins met at our home, and we took them on a tour of TCH.  We spent a lot of time during the tour talking and remembering old times.  Afterwards, they all went shopping at Santa's Texas Workshop.

BTW, our cousins came from here (La Gloria, our community that is near Falfurrias), Castroville near San Antonio, and  San Antonio.

Then at 7:00 p.m., we all met again along with lots more of our local cousins and some from out of town, at El Jardin Restaurant in Falfurrias, where the three of us treated everyone to a buffet dinner.  Salad bar, enchiladas, Spanish rice, beans, chicken fried steak, corn, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  It was super delicious good!  Gloria Almendarez (owner) and her staff out did themselves on the food and the service.  There was lots more visiting going on there, too!

We finally all said goodnight, but we weren't finished!  This morning at 8:00, we all met at Strickland's Restaurant for breakfast compliments of one of the Houston couples.  More visiting, talking, remembering, etc.!  While there, we all got excited about next year's "reunion," and made plans for that.

Then at 11:00, two of the Houston group went to church with us, while the others got back on the road to return to their homes.  The three of us sang a special at church.

Now, you'd think that was enough already, wouldn't you?  But we weren't finished yet.  We came home after church and got ready to do a tour of our Christmas House.  A young married couple, both graduates and employees of "our" University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, were due to arrive at 1:30.  We had never met them before, but we're friends now!  Even though they just graduated in 2007 and 2008, we three who graduated in 1949, 1952, and 1970, and the two of them had a great time together.  We love our alma mater which is a very special place.  But I'll save that for another blog!  After  showing them our home, TCH, it was back to Strickland's where we treated them to dinner.

Right now, my sisters are already in bed, and I'm headed that way!  We knew that after this weekend we might need a little rest and time to catch up, so no tours tomorrow!  Esther didn't even set the alarm, so that means we get to sleep late--maybe until 7:30!!  Then, with no rest for the weary, we'll have a busy day taking care of business, etc.

So, "Merry CHRISTmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Admission Fees Stay the Same

  The admission fee for tours of the Christmas House have been $8.00 per person (ages 5 to adult) and $6.00 (ages 2 to 4) for many years.  We have had a lot of our visitors tell us we should be charging $10.00 per person for a tour that offers so much entertainment and enjoyment.  That may be true, but we made a decision not to increase the fee and have not changed our minds.  So, you can still find something in this world of rising prices that remains at an affordable cost. 

  We look forward to seeing you at Santa's Texas Workshop and The Christmas House.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Twenty-fifth Opening Day just 15 Days Away!

It is hard to believe that we are getting ready to have our 25th opening day of Christmas House tours.  Time flies, especially when you're having a good time!  It has been a lot of hard work, but worth every bit of it.  We are looking forward to this new season and hope that you will be joining us for a tour sometime between September 18, 2010 and March 31, 2011.

We had the nicest e-mail from a couple who were Winter Texans in the Rio Grande Valley for many years.  They had a standing reservation to bring a group of their friends to tour the Christmas House every January.  For several reasons, they decided in 2008, to spend their winters in Florida where they have children and grandchildren.  However, they have kept in contact with us, and after we sent out our last e-mail newsletter, we had a reply from them.  I just have to share one thing that he said, because it is comments like this one that keep us going.  "I certainly hope that you all have a wonderful season at the Christmas House. I know your love for your work transcends anything we can imagine. You provide such a great chance for folks to see what a Christian attitude can really promote."  Comments like this make it all worth while, because above all else--the decorations, the glitter, the fantasy--we want people to leave our home with the true meaning of Christmas in their hearts and minds--a message of hope, peace, and salvation through the One whose birth we celebrate.  It is not really about our love for our work, but rather our love for our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He gives us the love for the work that we do.

And speaking of work, we open in 15 days, so I'd better get back to work.

Remember:  the store, Santa's Texas Workshop, will be open for shopping on Sunday afternoon, September 19, 2010, from 1:30 to 6:00 p.m.  No appointments needed like other times during the year, just come, bring some friends, and SHOP!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

House of Boxes

One month from today, on September 18, 2010, we will be doing the first tour of the 2010 Christmas season.  We're in our second month of decorating and are on schedule, so far!  Decorating the house takes eight weeks.  We could probably get it done in four weeks, but we do have a life and lots of other things to do.  One of those things is keeping up with all of the merchandise that comes in for the store.  Every box has to be opened, checked for breakage (etc.), re-boxed, and priced.  We do all of this in the storeroom (air-conditioned) that is attached to our warehouse, so it all has to be transferred to the store (some of the extras are stored in the warehouse). Then each piece has to be displayed and the rest of the extras have to be be put away in the store.  The final thing is to put each item's empty box in a place where it can be found quickly when the last of an item is purchased.  You just can't believe how organized Esther has all of that process.  It's amazing. 

We are living in the "House of Boxes" right now.  It will be nice to get it all cleared out, cleaned up, and ready for tours.  People ask us all the time, "How can you live in a house that is decorated for Christmas for 6 months?"  Well, it's actually nicer to live in the decorated house than in the house that is undecorated or is in the process of being decorated. 

Once the house is undecorated, it is rather depressing, because the shelves are empty, the garlands and trees are just hanging/sitting there with nothing on them.  We're so used to the beautiful colors, glitter, and decorations that we miss it all when it's gone.  It's good to see a room redecorated and ready to go!

September 18, will be the beginning of our 25th season.  We hope those of you who read this blog will be able to come see us.  The info for contacting us is on the right side of this blog.

On the right hand side of this blog there is a box where you can sign up to receive our e-newsletter.  It is secure, your privacy is assured, and we don't send out lots of newsletters, so we'll not be filling your inbox.  It will keep you informed of what's going on here at Santa's Texas Workshop and The Christmas House.  So, just fill in your e-mail address and hit "GO."  Also, hit the "LIKE" button if you enjoy our blogs.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Thirty-five years and counting!

    We know that it is hard for many people to think about decorating for Christmas in August.  However, it is the most natural thing in the world for us.  We have been doing this for 35+ years.  The first 10 years of major decorating-from 1976 to 1985, we did it just for our own enjoyment and that of family and friends who came to our Christmas open houses.   In 1986, after Dorothy and Esther retired from teaching school, and at the insistence of a friend, we decided to open our home to the public for tours by reservation only.  Many of our family and friends thought we were crazy, but we wanted to try it anyway, and we had the blessings of both our parents to turn our home into a public venue.  It is our home, and that is why it has always been by reservation only.
    So, in 1986, we launched our first season of tours.  We already had our Christmas store, Santa's Texas Workshop.  We had opened it in 1984, and it seemed that the two ventures would fit perfectly together.  We must have been right and all the critics who said it would never work must have been wrong.  We are getting ready to open for our 25th season of public tours.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Facebook and Twitter

Yesterday I signed us up on Facebook and Twitter!  Wow, we're really up and coming, technologically speaking, aren't we?  The link for Facebook is on this page.  I hope you'll become our friend and like our page, Santa's Texas Workshop and The Christmas House.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Christmas 2010 is on its way!

It's summer.  It's hot and humid.  We have trillions of mosquitoes, and they are huge!  It has been so rainy!  We've had close to 10 inches just from the tropical systems that have gone into northeastern Mexico and the tip of Texas.  Hurricane Alex didn't make landfall near us, but we got lots of rain and were under tornado alerts for long periods of time.  A tornado did a lot of damage in Hebbronville just 35 miles west of Falfurrias. 

Praise the Lord that in 1907, our grandfather Minten bought this land in a place where there are no rivers or creek beds nearby.  We have never had to worry about flooding like they do in many places.  Of course, wind, lightning, hail, and tornadoes have no respect for anyone's location.  They go where they want and do what they want to do.  We put ourselves in God's hands and pray for His will to be done.

But with all the weather events that we are having, we haven't stopped working.  The 2009 Christmas decorations are all down and packed in boxes.  They are still sitting in the house, because of the rain and mosquitoes, but it's done! 

On July 21, we will begin the process of decorating with all the new themes for 2010.  We always start on that day, because it was our dad's birthday.  Many years ago we made it a tradition to begin decorating for the next season on that special day. 

So, you need to start making your plans to come see us.  If the Lord is willing, we'll be opening for the 25th season of Christmas House tours on Saturday, September 18, and we'll be open until the end of March, 2011. 

We've also been working like busy little elves in the store.  We have hundreds of new Christmas items that you are going to like.  The store is open by appointment year 'round.  It will be open for shopping on Sunday, September 19, from 1:30 until 6:00 p.m. and no appointment is needed that day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Family Cruise to Hawaii

My word!! It has been over four months since I last blogged. Time does fly, but we also keep ourselves very busy. I go to bed at night thinking, "I should have posted a blog." Then I fall asleep, and that's that.

Since last January 24, 2010, lots has happened. We sort of ended our 24th season on March 31, and then we went on vacation. We normally stay open until the end of April each season, but this year our vacation was scheduled for April.

We have a wonderful group that has been coming to the Christmas House for 23 of our 24 years. (They missed the second year - 1987.) About 20 years ago they asked if they could always be our first group when we open each September. Then a few years later they asked if they could also be last. They started out as paying guests and have ended up as good friends.

So, we did not hesitate to ask them if they would mind waiting to do the last tour on Sunday afternoon, May 2, and they said that would be fine with them. We just could not do it at the end of March, because we had other groups scheduled right up to the end of the month, and our vacation was scheduled to begin on April 2. Yes, we went on vacation a month earlier than usual this year!

Where did we go? We traveled by Amtrak to Ontario, California where our cousin, Mickey, and her husband, Wade Landrum, met us on Easter Sunday morning. We spent two days in Anaheim, and then the three of us along with Mickey, Wade, and his mother, Idell, drove to San Diego where we boarded Holland America's ms. Zaandam. We were joined on board a little later that afternoon by the Landrums' daughter, Jennifer Robinson, her husband, Kevin, and their three year-old son, Austin. At 5:00 p.m. the ship set sail for a round-trip cruise to Hawaii.

The nine of us had 15 wonderful days together on that cruise. This blog would become much too long if I tried to tell you everything that we did. It would become even longer if I told you all about Austin! Let it suffice to say that he was the "darling" of every one who met him, and the eight of us adults were known on the ship as "Austin's party!"

Here we are in casual Hawaiian.  Left to Right: Front row: Jennifer Landrum
Robinson, Wade Landrum, Austin Robinson, Mickey Landrum, Idelle Landrum.
Back row: Kevin Robinson, Janie Minten, Dorothy Minten, and Esther Minten

We spent five days cruising the islands, making stops at Hilo, Hawaii, Nawiliwili, Kauai, Honolulu, Oahu, and Kona, Hawaii. We were supposed to spend a long day at Lahaina, Maui, but the winds prevented the tenders from operating, so we had no way to get from ship to shore. The captain was very apologetic, but he said that they could not risk the safety of the passengers trying to get us aboard the little boats that would have taken us from the ship to the pier and back again. Seeing the whitecaps in the bay, we understood. While it was disappointing to miss the luau that we had scheduled, the captain made up for it by cruising along the sea cliffs of Molokai. This was something they had never done before. Here is a link (or you might have to type it in) with pictures and info posted by the captain. If you click "more" at the bottom of the page under the pictures, you will find more pictures. As I looked at them, I noticed that my pictures that I took are almost identical.

We returned to San Diego on April 21 and stayed in Anaheim until April 28. Mickey, Wade, and Idell live just a short 10 to 15 minute drive from Disneyland. We stayed at the Disneyland Resort Marriott Courtyard (used those great Marriott Reward points), and Mickey came and picked us up each day so we could do something touristy. Yes, of course we went to Disneyland a couple of times.

Esther's birthday was April 24th, and the Landrums treated all of us plus Mickey's brother (and our cousin) Ed and his wife, Becky, to a wonderful dinner at the Orange Hill Restaurant in Orange. It was a great celebration. The next day, we met Ed and Becky along with their children and families at Po' Folks restaurant in Buena Vista for dinner. With us, Mickey, Wade, and Idell, and all of Ed's family, there were about 20 of us. It was a great reunion!

On Wednesday, April 28, at 3:30 p.m. (PST),we boarded Amtrak's Sunset Limited in Ontario for the return trip to San Antonio. We arrived there the next night at 9:30 p.m. (CST). As always, Cavender Cadillac kept our new car while we were gone. When we picked it up on Friday morning, it was all shiny and clean and serviced! Our vacations are always worry free when it comes to our car--thank you to everyone at Cavender's.

Now, we've been home for almost a month, but that doesn't mean that we've been still. We've been to Belton, so I could attend a Board of Trustees' meeting at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor; we've been to Corpus Christi a couple of times, and Kingsville and Alice several times each. We've cleaned up the warehouse and worked in the store getting it ready to receive lots of new merchandise.

The old saying that "a rolling stone gathers no moss," must have special meaning for us. I've not seen any moss in a long time!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Where Has Time Gone?

Oh, my! My last blog was Christmas Day, and now it is a month later! Where does time go? We all ask that, don't we? We spent December 31st until January 3 in San Antonio. We were there to attend the wedding of our cousin, Sue-Anne Hill (granddaughter of one of our first cousins). We celebrated New Year's Eve with Cousin Leona (mother of the bride) and Carol (a cousin from California) by having dinner at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian Steakhouse at the Rivercenter Mall. The food was delicious and the service was superior. We highly recommend it. We slept a little late on New Year's Day, which was a treat for us since we get up pretty early everyday at home. We spent a leisurely day resting, reading, etc., and then got ready for the wedding rehearsal and dinner afterwards. The bride paid her "older" cousins a great honor by asking us to sing "The Lord's Prayer" at her wedding. The rehearsal dinner, hosted by Ian's (the groom) parents, Howard and Pat Benoist (Ben wah) was a lot of fun. Cousin for cousin, the two families are evenly matched! We really enjoyed getting to know the new extended family members. Most of our family members from far and near stayed at the Fairfield Inn near downtown, so we enjoyed just sitting around visiting on January 2nd. The bride's parents, Leona and Jerry Hill, provided a lunch of cold cuts, chips, etc. for the family members and all of the bridesmaids who were there getting their hair done. The Fairfield Inn very graciously allowed us to use their breakfast room after that meal was completed. We finally went back to our room where we got ready for the wedding. At 4:00 p.m., a bus hired by the groom's parents came to our hotel and picked up family and friends and took us to the church. After the 5:00 ceremony, the bus took all of us to the reception, and after that, back to the hotel. Nice and super thoughtful!! The wedding ceremony took place in the beautiful chapel at Our Lady of the Lake University. Chapel is a misnomer, as it more like a cathedral! It was beautiful and the perfect surrounding for a beautiful bride and a beautiful ceremony. The reception/dinner was held at the Witte Museum in a large room with ample room for tables set for ten people each. The next morning, which was Sunday, the 3rd, we all were invited to the home of the groom's parents for a fajita brunch. More food, and it was all delicious! Our family members once again enjoyed getting to visit with the groom's family members. Knowing that we would probably be tired, we didn't schedule any tours on Monday morning, the 4th of January, but we had one at 1:00, and we've been busy every since. Things haven't slowed down at all even though Christmas 2009 is a month in the past. A few days ago, one of our guests called the experience here "a lovely extended Christmas." And that is what it is. The true Spirit of Christmas is alive and well at the end of Jim Wells County Road 401 north of Falfurrias. We'll be open for tours until the end of March. We hope to see you if you haven't been here yet this season.