No Money Needed For This Gift

I recently read an article somewhere that talks about how some elderly people can go for weeks without talking to another person. Then it hit me, no wonder they are getting taken in by phone scammers. They are lonely and just want to talk with someone. Most of us if we are honest have sometimes looked at the phone, recognized the number and just let it go to voice mail. Most of us have more than enough human contact.

Last year I got an idea, and it stemmed from an idea that my sister told me about. Her church makes Easter Baskets for the sick and shut in at their church. You know the ones that can’t make it to church because they are ill, don’t drive anymore or for any number of reasons. They even made the decorated baskets a contest–the most creative.

Inside of each basket were things that they thought the people would like such as candy, coffee, even the coffeemaker, a pair of slippers and so much more. It seemed that my sister had so much fun gathering the items, and creating her masterpiece. The church would then deliver the baskets to the members.

So I decided that we would do an Angel Tree for Christmas at my church. We would do it for the sick and shut in. It would be the same as a regular Angel Tree, and similar to my sister’s church Easter Baskets with a few exceptions.

After I gathered all the names, phone numbers and addresses it was announced to the church, and to my great surprise the first Sunday all of the names were taken. The instructions to participate in the Angel Tree were:

  • Select a name
  • Call and talk with the person
  • Ask what they would like for Christmas
  • Ask if you could come over–if they said no which some might for several reasons including a) not looking their best b) house not kept the way they want it to be kept c) just don’t want any company.
  • If they didn’t want any visitors, then ask could you call them from time to time
  • If they agreed a visit was okay you were then to go out and purchase the items
  • You were to take the gift to the person, and sit and talk for a while. Even though you were purchasing a gift, you a were the greatest gift.

It was a great success. I was able to go on two visits, one with a friend. We visited a member in a nursing home. We sat and talked with her. The gift she loved, but she asked for a cold glass of orange juice. The gift basket had wonderful things in it that she had said she wanted, but our conversation and that cold glass of orange juice made her day.

My next stop was the name I had chosen. She wanted magazines and chocolate candy. I decided to give her a sugar high with all the chocolate I bought. After inviting me into her home, we talked about family, church, careers and more. She showed me pictures of her in her younger years, and so many family pictures. Some of the pictures were of her dancing–she said she loved to dance. When others would call her, she would tell them about my visit, not about the candy. My presence was better than candy.

Both of these beautiful people are no longer with us, but they have inspired me to do the Angel Tree again, and expand it a little. This time the names will be on a tree along with the Angel Tree wishes of our adopt a school. So we don’t get them mixed up, we will color code them.

This year I’ve added one more requirement to our Angel Tree. Each gift giver is asked to call and/or send a card to their Angel Tree person at least once or more a month. I’m hoping they will continue to visit the person. Gifts are great, but the gift of conversation and maybe a hug is so much more. Maybe when they visit they will take their children and/or grandchildren with them.

Most of us will be paying for Christmas gifts until Easter, but the gift of conversation and human touch cost nothing. Remember “thisisyourbestyear” and make someones holiday merry because all they want for any holiday is just a little time with you.

A New Tradition–Holiday Tea

*Guest post from Tea Lover CYCooper

Is it me or do the holidays seem to pass by quicker every year?  Christmas 2018 has come and gone, but even with all the hustle and bustle the holiday season brings, yours truly managed to travel across Highway 30 for a small staycation at the the MAGNFICENT Adolphus Hotel In Big D (that’s Dallas, Texas for some of you who don’t know).  I’ve stayed at the Adolphus  on a number of occasions, but this legendary hotel recently completed a 3 year renovation.  Yes, it’s more up to date but it hasn’t lost it’s old world charm and elegance.  Built in 1912 by “The King of Beers” Adolphus Busch, The Adolphus has hosted notable visitors including Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, U2, Maya Angelou, Madonna, Whitney Houston and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England.  

Besides being a top tier hotel, The Adolphus is also noted for its Afternoon Tea Service or High Tea which it serves throughout the year.  However, during the Christmas season the hotel offers its famous Holiday Tea. This tea is extremely popular and sells out quickly each year.  So, when reservations opened up on Monday, October 1st, @ 11 am, I got on my phone and called.  Let me tell you, it actually took me over 1 1/2 hours to get through and make my reservation.  

My sister and I attended The Adolphus Holiday Tea earlier this month and YES it was definitely worth spending that 1 1/2 hours on the phone to get that reservation.  The Holiday Tea takes place in the SPECTACULAR French Room Restaurant of the hotel.  The French Room, included in the recent renovations, has been restored to its original glory.

The Holiday Tea starts with a glass of Rose Champagne, followed by the first course of finger sandwiches, scones and a light delicious tea from China. The second course of tea cakes & sweets is accompanied by a slightly bolder tea which compliments the desserts.  Looking around The French Room on that December day, we saw women/girls of all ages (and some men) enjoying this delightful and refreshing experience.  The food, tea and service were EXCELLENT.  Much like attending the Texas Ballet Theater’s production of THE NUTCRACKER, having Holiday Tea at The Adolphus may become an annual Christmas tradition.  

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Enjoy Yourself–You’re Worth It

by CY Cooper

It seems like it was only a day or so ago we were all enjoying the sights and sounds of the Christmas season.  It’s really hard to believe that we are now moving toward the middle of January 2018 and getting set for the next BIG holiday, which is Valentines Day.  It didn’t take the retail stores long to move forward as they were putting up hearts and flowers the day after Christmas.

You know it’s not a secret that the holiday season is just plain busy for everyone. Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, church or other organization functions, most of us find ourselves so busy we don’t have time for ourselves or to just look around, sit for a quiet moment and ENJOY the season.

Well during the holiday hustle and bustle I did a couple of activities for yours truly.  I registered for a total of (3) cooking classes.  Two of the classes took place at the Fort Worth Cooking School at Central Market and the other at Sur La Table in Fort Worth.  Let me tell you, all (3) classes were hands on, educational and a lot of FUN.  Besides taking home the recipes and instructions on what we accomplished in class, all participants took home a nice sampling of our finished baked goods.  Now I’m sure you’re probably thinking that you want to do anything but cook/bake, BUT as stated earlier it was FUN, a lot of FUN. It was an activity where you could go with a friend or by yourself and meet other people with an interest in cooking/baking.  Plus, for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours you were away from the holiday rush.  I learned to bake everything from buttermilk biscuits in a cast iron skillet, Parker House rolls to eggnog cranberry swirl bread just to name a few.

I didn’t just stop with the cooking/baking classes.  My sister and I attended the Texas Ballet Theater’s THE NUTCRACKER at the wonderful Bass Hall.  It’s become a family tradition and it’s a MUST SEE.  If you’ve never had the chance to see this ballet, you should.  It just may become one of your Christmas traditions.

carol 3

And finally, yours truly is a fan of tea, and The Ashton Hotel in downtown Fort Worth starts their Holiday Tea Service the day after Thanksgiving.  This was my first time attending but I can tell you it won’t be my last.  I tried to reserve a couple of seats for the week before Christmas but they were all booked up.  I made a reservation instead for a date after Christmas and even then there wasn’t an empty seat to be found.  Holiday Tea at The Ashton Hotel runs through the end of the month of December.  The tea was EXCELLENT and so relaxing.  DEFINITELY put this activity on your TO DO list for the 2018 Holiday Season.  

The Christmas of 2017 was busy and it sped by quickly, but I can truly say it was FUN and memorable.

It’s 2018.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Christmas In Songs

As a child the songs of Christmas and the holiday season were always some of my favorite tunes.  At that time they always made me happy.

Even today some bring back memories of times gone by.  While in elementary school I was a member of the choral club, and doing one performance I actually had a solo.

Once I entered fifth grade I was made a member of the famed girls group at school–the Charmettes. This group sang on the two annual school programs. The winter program was called “Winter Wonderland”, and we always closed the program with it. Every time I hear it now I call my best friend and we break into song and laughter.

While working at a high school, the choir would do caroling through the halls. A lot of us would follow them to hear our favorite song.

I remember the great Christmas celebrations on Della Lane at home.  How much fun we had decorating the tree.  It seemed that everyone had a picture window where they displayed their tree.  The memories of home always come to mind.  I can’t go back to that time, but each year I do go home for Christmas–if only in my dreams.

Merry Christmas to all.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. What’s your favorite holiday song?

Christmas In October–Why Not?

As “women of a certain age” we can do whatever we want when it comes to celebrating special days and times.  We can drink that champagne at lunch if we so desire. Deciding to eat cake for breakfast is one of my favorites.  Who say’s we can’t do it?  So why not have Christmas in October, or at least the memories of Christmas past.

We can skip over Columbus Day, Halloween and even Thanksgiving, and go directly to Christmas and all of the joy that it brings.  No matter who you are, the sights and sounds of Christmas will always somehow put you in a better mood.  I’m not talking about Christmas shopping, malls, discounts that aren’t discounts–I’m talking about Christmas trees, nutcrackers and of course Santa himself.

As a child in Longview, Texas McIntosh Drug Store would open up a Christmas store next to their downtown pharmacy every year.  I can’t really remember if it opened in October or November, but I do remember the excitement that I had visiting it each year.  The sights, sounds and even the smells always seemed to work magic on everyone who went inside those magical doors.  As with everything, there is no McIntosh Drug Store anymore, there are only pharmacies.  Their magical Christmas store is just a memory for those of us who were fortunate enough to have lived it as children–children who believed in Santa long after they should.

To my surprise and delight in Tyler, Texas they have a Christmas store appropriately named The Christmas Store.  It is complete with the wonderful sights, sounds and smells of happiness. When I visited it recently, I knew that Christmas was still some time away, but the magic had me at the first blinking light.

My Christmas in October bought back childhood memories which always warm my heart. Who cares if it’s too early to start to think about the joys of Christmas?  As women of a certain age, we can have Christmas whenever we want.

Celebrate each day.  Why wait?  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

The Christmas Store is located at 121 E. 8th St., Tyler, TX 75701

Christmas Gifts

As we mature, it seems that people we love find it hard to find Christmas presents that we like.  They aren’t quite sure that they have selected the one gift that we will really enjoy.  Our taste in clothing and such may have changed, we have decided that more is not always the way to go.

Let’s talk about gifts that are not your run of the mill gifts, but they might make some of us happy.  We’re just giving people hints at what we might like.

makeup artist

  • At home makeup artist–someone to do your makeup for you.  I know that we can go to the mall and have the nice lady at the counter do our makeup, but we have to drive there and then go home.  It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.  Ask the lady at your favorite cosmetic counter if she would consider doing your makeup at your house, and the cost. If you use something like Mary Kay, ask your representative to do your makeup.  You can even have your friend whose makeup is always great to come in and work her magic.

hair at home 2

  • At home hair salon–well not really the entire salon, just the necessities and a few products. You know when you took that shower, how your hair was not the same, or you had it done the day before, and can’t quite get it like the stylist did.  Ask your favorite stylist to come and do their magic or ask your friend to do it.

Bed and Breakfast Getaway

  • Girlfriends getaway–must be at least 3 days and 2 nights.  What’s the point in going away if you get there, check in, eat dinner, go to bed, get up, eat breakfast and leave? Again 3 days and 2 nights This does not have to be at the Ritz Carlton, just somewhere you would enjoy.  If you want rest and relaxation, don’t get a place close to shopping or vice versa. It would be something special (I think) if you could rent an entire Bed and Breakfast for a girlfriends getaway.  How about a nice timeshare?

wine making class

  • Wine lover?  Can’t make it to a vineyard, how about a winemaking class where you make your own wine.  Then you bottle it and put your own personal label on–then drink it.
  • Lifestyle concierge–I did this for myself for Mother’s Day.  They can help you organize anything from closets to your life.  I have the name of a great one in the North Texas area.  You will be surprised at how little you need.  You will like the organization. These are just a few suggestions for gifts for women of a certain age.
Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.   Share your gift ideas with us.

Holiday Weight And Exercise

I love those people who say eat this instead of this for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas and even New Year’s. You know those people who say eat one cracker, a carrot, a lot of celery and drink sparkling water and you will be fine.  We’ve waited the entire year for this food, and we know the consequences of overeating and under exercising. It’s the holiday season which means it’s the no exercise and way too much food season. I mean good food, you know cakes and pies with specialty alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to help the food go down. The holiday season probably started with Halloween when we ate the left over candy that we had.

wine and food trayThere is cheese other than American or Cheddar with a sprinkle of carrots and celery for show. There is Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving Day for gifts, for more food and drink and much more. There is so little time and so much to do so who has the time to exercise? What’s a girl to do? As we have matured our metabolism has gone down, and hips, bellies and everything else seems to get bigger doing the holiday season when they say we will gain 6 to 10 pounds in less than a month.

Let’s try to figure out what we can do to get our exercise in, and control our eating habits. I love the people who say eat before you leave home. Sounds good, but not feasible—it’s holiday food, not regular old food. There is someone bringing Christmas Cookies (I love that song by George Strait) everyday to work, and besides it is the holiday season.  Have a cookie or two; who eats one Christmas cookie if they are good? Go to the Christmas parties at work, eat the “good” cheese, another cookie, drink the punch and have fun. Don’t beat yourself up when you think about it. After the party grab your coworker and walk for 20 minutes, too cold outside then do it inside. If you have someone to walk with you, it will go fast. Walk at a brisk pace, but walk. You had your Christmas goodies and exercise too. Walk as much as you can atStarbucks-red-holiday-cups work during the holiday season. The party was at night then go home and put on old disco music, you know when you were in college the kind that lasted 15 to 20 minutes and dance like you did back then. If you want a special coffee drink, and there is a coffee stand close by—yes walk to it. Sit there and drink it and walk back to home or work. Take your marker with you so that you can draw your own Christmas design on the red cup.

You’ve got 2 or 3 parties in one weekend and you want to attend them all. What are you going to do?  A friend of mine says to wear the that body hugging outfit—the one that you can get away with. She says that since you are a woman of a certain age, and you can still rock it, you will not eat too much because it would spoil the effect. Sounds good to me. Food or fashion?

Another friend says never go in eating, wait for a while, talk with the people at the party. Find someone interesting even if it is just the hostess or the person you came with. Don’t sit for a while, stand and walk. Finally get food and drink, yep get them both. It’s kind of hard to eat a lot when you have two items to hold. Remember how hard it will be to take the weight off after the holidays. If nothing else, decide on which party you think will have the best food and drink. Be polite at the other parties eating a small amount. Save your calories for the good stuff.

Still running to the mall and shopping center to buy gifts. Make it an exercise day too. If you don’t have to go back to your car after buying your gifts, go back to the first store and walk the entire property once or twice as fast as possible in the Christmas rush. Don’t stop to look at something else, just walk.

You can start your walking routine during the Thanksgiving holiday. A lot of places have Turkey Trots featuring 5K and FB_IMG_144762941666510K races the morning of Thanksgiving. Make it an exercise tradition to do one of these walks. I am not a Black Friday shopper, but just to get some exercise go to the mall—leaving your credit/debit cards at home. Just walk.

Do not bring food home with you—leave it there no matter how good it is–not even Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Dream about it for the next holiday, but leave it there. Why do you think they are giving it to you?

Have to bake something for the Christmas season, bake your least favorite cake, pie or cookie, one that you rarely if ever eat. Make sure what you bake is tasty, just not what you like. The ones you like taste even better warm. Skip the cleaning lady, and deep clean your house after the holiday season, mop, vacuum, dust and more–it’s a great workout.

Do other things instead of just eating for the holidays, see what is going on in your area because who is going to eat carrots and celery for the holiday season?  Not me cause George and I sure do like those Christmas cookies.  Eat, enjoy and exercise.  Remember thisisyourbestyear”.

Christmas Memories Giveaway

One of the highlights of Christmas as a child growing up in Longview, Texas was the arrival of the Sears Christmas Catalog, which they called the “Christmas Wish Book”.  Sometimes it came in the mail, and other times we would go to Sears and pick it up in the Sears catalog department. I really don’t know who was more excited my mom, my siblings or me.  I know my father even took a look or two in the magical wish book. My sister and I would sit on either side of our mother and secretly and sometimes not so secretly declare what we wished that Santa would bring us.

Sears 11

After my mother and the neighbors had talked about what was in their catalogs, it was then the children’s time to make their wishes.  I would make wishes with my sister.  We would tell what we wanted for Christmas all the while laughing and wishing.  I always wanted those mother daughter dresses that my mother was bound and determined would never be worn in her home.

Sears 5When everybody had their turn with the wish book, I would get one of my parents red marking pens, and begin to check off the items I wished for.  The book would be a sea of red, but it was okay–it was a wish book, and red was a Christmas color.

Sears 10

Most of the things I checked I never got, but the wishing was so much fun.

Please share with us your Christmas memories of the Sears Christmas Wish Book–you could win a $50 gift card for Sears/Kmart.  Just post your comment by noon on Friday, December 12–winner will be announced that evening.  You could have an extra $50 to buy someone their wish or maybe buy yours–at least add to it.

Sears

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Looking forward to hearing your memory of the Sears Christmas Wish Book.

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