Monday, December 2, 2019

Advent Day #2--Christmas presents for YOU



Day 2 of Advent.


First a recipe


Connealy Scalloped Corn


This is my kids’ absolute favorite

It’s more really fantastic macaroni and cheese than scalloped corn but whatever it is, it’s a Connealy Family Reunion staple.



1 can whole corn-drained
1 can creamed corn 
1 c. small macaroni-the kind isn’t important
1 cup butter cut up
1 cup Velveeta cubed
Dump in greased casserole dish
Stir
Bake 30 minutes-stir
Bake 30 more minutes

And a Christmas Memory

When my kids were growing up I was always really frugal at Christmas (okay call it cheap...BE THAT WAY!!!)

My Cowboy worked so hard! And I was a stay at home mom and I always tried to treat his hard work with respect...which extended to spending the money.

So inevitably I'd set a budget...maybe $25 dollars a kid...and shop sales and start early...work really hard to get them something nice without busting the budget.

And then very close to the big day I'd talk it all through with My Cowboy, what I'd gotten and if I needed to get them anything more, and he'd say, "Let's get them all (fill in the blank...something big and fun and exciting)."
And we'd often go shopping together.

I remember the year, at the last minute, we went and bought them all sleds. All of a sudden my tidy Christmas plans were pretty extravagant and I had his blessing for that. And I could see he was having fun. And we could afford it, I was just hesitant to spend big.

An interesting fact about me and my cowboy. Our parents were ten years apart in age. I was one of the first of my parents eight children, third, and he was sixth of his parents seven children. 

His parents were like...wildly tight-fisted with money. My parents were pretty careless with it. But they both started out with NOTHING.
I mean seriously poor. And they both worked hard and bought farmland...hard to pay for...and ended up fairly rich (No money but valuable holdings).

My parents careless generosity meant little because they had nothing. So I grew up in a very poor household...eight kids in a three bedroom farmhouse. 

By the time my little brothers and sisters could remember there started to be some money but when I was growing up...nothing. I mean NOTHING. I remember coming upon my mom once crying...my mom was a ROCK I'm telling you. She did NOT cry...so this was shocking.
And I asked her what was wrong...I was scared to death...still pretty young. And she said, she wanted to write a letter to her mom...who lived about 90 minutes away but we rarely went to see them...gas cost money!
She wanted to write a letter to her mom but she couldn't afford a stamp. 
A ten cent stamp.

I've always remembered that as a shocking example of just how absolutely poor my family was. An my folks didn't burden us with worries about money which made this moment all the more shocking to me.

And his parents, by the time he came along were very well-to-do...in the context that they were always cheap. 

So we came into our marriage with very different attitudes about money. I just always knew that, by comparison to how I grew up, we were pretty well-off. He always felt poor.

I smile when I think of how he remembers our early years of marriage. Very desperate times to his way to his way of thinking. To me...I couldn't believe we actually had some money in the bank!!! I felt rich but was so used to worrying about money I was careful not to spend much. He felt poor and was so used to his parents parsimony that he was careful not to spend much.

It worked because big picture, we agreed to be cheap...but for really different reasons.

That made his generosity with the kids at Christmas very special. And I still remember him 'coming through' with big gift ideas that I'd have never dared plan on. The sled year was a great example.



Thank you for joining us in this season of faith, of peace, of holiness.


Christmas





And prizes...let's call them presents...presents you can WIN...which isn't exactly a present...still...




Leave a comment.
Let's talk great Christmas books.
Leave a comment about your favorite Christmas book to get your name in the drawing for an ebook copy of----------

by Margaret Brownley
Ruth Logan Herne 
                                    Mary Connealy al


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48 comments:

  1. Ah, Mary, I love this! I can just see you and your cowboy traipsing off into town to get those sleds.

    I love books about Christmas. I think A Christmas Carol is my favorite. Such a beautiful story of redemption

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    1. My whole (huge) family goes to A Christmas Carol every year together at the Omaha Community Playhouse. I didn't make it this year but next year I hope!
      I've got a sister who's got...like a season membership or something and she gets a good group rate on it.

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    2. It must be great in person. I like listening to it read aloud, too. There are some really great renditions out there.

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  2. Love your memory. Isn't it beautiful when God brings two people together from very different backgrounds into a harmonious relationship???
    My favourite Christmas books have to be from Debbie Macomber. I've read a couple of times Dashing Through The Snow and Merry and Bright. There are some other books I've enjoyed too but likely too numerous to list below. ;P Lee-Ann B

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    1. Lee-Ann, I love the 'too numerous to list' part. All readers can make this claim, right?

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  3. I love Christmas! Thanks for your post! My favorite Christmas books are always the ones that make me cry! The heartfelt stories that bring people together!

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    1. The books where 'The Grinch's heart grew three sizes.'
      Or the Charlie Brown Christmas where Linus recites the first few verses of the book of Luke.

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    2. Yes, yes!!! Love those! Also "lost puppies" or reunion stories or someone who overcomes a disease, etc.!!! Love them all!

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  4. Oh my stars, this is a book in the making.... Mary, what a beautiful analogy and how fun was that Christmas, to have your cowboy make that leap...

    This is an absolutely wonderful, marvelous story and may I say I love being part of the Star Inn stories! Wasn't that a great assignment????

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    1. A book in the making? Two tight-fisted people finding and marrying each other? :) Okay. LOL
      It is a nice story and Christmas is Star Inn is one of my favs. It's so fun we're in that Homestead Brides collection, too, with Pam and Erica and others. And IT'S ON THE BESTSELLER LIST!

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  5. Wow, Mary! What a story!

    We're a very frugal family over here, too. I'm definitely frugal, Jon might be labeled more as "cheap", but mostly when it comes to himself. Also, he's just really good with finances so we can live debt-free (except the mortgage) and I can stay home with the kids.

    We keep Christmas simple. Trying to focus more on other people than on presents for our family. For each kid, we try to do the "Something they want, need, wear, read" rule. There may be multiple items in one category (such as clothing), but still it's simple. We may also do a family gift or a group gift for the kids.

    Oh, and Santa fills the stockings (like St. Nick). We put the gifts under the tree.

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    1. Beth, my daughter says that gift giving poem.
      Something they want
      Something they need
      Something to wear
      Something to read

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  6. My husband and I learned pretty quickly who was the saver and who was the spender after we got married and luckily we also learned to get on the same page. We have made sacrifices, but we've never had to go without, so I am grateful.

    As far as Christmas books there are so many I've loved. The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke is short and beautiful. Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes was the first biblical fiction I ever read and it made me see the Christmas story in a brand-new way. Then I love some contemporary ones like Debbie Macomber, Jan Karon's Shepherds Abiding, and The Shoe Box by Francine Rivers. Then there are novellas like Krista Phillips' A Kinda Country Christmas.

    I didn't realize until now how much I love Christmas books :)

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    1. Hey this reminds me, I wrote a 3 novella collection of Christmas stories, including a retelling of The Gift of the Magi.
      https://www.amazon.com/Three-Christmas-Novellas-Longhorn-Sweetest/dp/172666984X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=three+christmas+novellas+mary&qid=1575341275&sr=8-1

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  7. Awww, Mary.I loved this post. Money does funny things to a couple. I love how you and your husband worked through your different mindsets regarding money. And how fun to buy each of your children sleds! i also so appreciated what you said about respecting your husband through being careful with how you spent money. That, to me, must have been a gift to him.

    Merry Christmas!

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    1. Hi Jeanne. Well, he always worked really HARD for his money. I tried to respect that everyday. I've got the old cheap furniture to prove it.

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  8. Mary, what a sweet story. Isn't it interesting how different backgrounds can affect us so much?

    That recipe sounds amazing!

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    1. The recipe is fantastic. It's always the first thing gone on the massive family buffet. Easy to make, too.

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  9. A wonderful story, Mary. It definitely takes compromise and sacrifice when two people come from different situations. The story about your mom and the stamp made me feel sad. It is hard for us today to imagine not being able to come up with a dime. We do need to appreciate the blessings we have. I just love all Christmas books. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is definitely a classic, though.

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    1. I just read somewhere about the abundance in America. We live, for the first time in human history, where the poorest of the poor have, as their main health problem...obesity.

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    2. I've read A Christmas Carol once, and found it really hard to get through. Dickens Victorian English language is almost in need of deciphering. I should read it again.

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  10. Lovely, Mary. I have a sled Christmas story too. Hubby and I were living in Kirksville, MO, a small farm town with WONDERFUL people. He was teaching ROTC at NE MO State University, now called Truman State. We had bought our first house and had little extra money so when my eldest, probably 5 years old at the time, asked for a sled, I bought a cheap snow saucer. Remember them? My parents came to spend Christmas with us and when my dad found out what I had bought when his first grandchild wanted a sled--from Santa--my dad scoured our small town to find the real deal. Sleds were nowhere to be found, probably all sold out that close to Christmas, but eventually he found one very large Flyer at the hardware store. So Santa brought our little one a huge sled that we all could climb on. She was thrilled and I was grateful!

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    1. Debby that story makes me smile. God bless Grandpa.

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  11. What a great story Mary I know in my marriage I am the spender and he is the saver. I want to buy everything for everybody but I know I can't. I love the book Where Treetops Glisten by Trica Goyer, Sarah Sundin and Cara Putnam.

    Tighefan42atgmaildotcom

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    1. Tighefan I'm loving the lists of great Christmas books. I'm going to look a bunch of them up.

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  12. Honestly my favorite christmas book is the Book of Luke - The Christmas story.
    Second though is: The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere and
    Mary Did You Know by Mark Lowry
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

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    1. Hi Lori. I read a book by Karen Kingsbury called … I think Sara's Song in her Red Gloves series that was so sentimental and beautiful I just cried like a baby. But Kingsbury often has that affect on me. Still, beautiful book!!! sniffle

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  13. A Christmas Carol, hands down! We watch one version every year and I usually read it, too!

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  14. I can't choose just one Christmas story! I love Michelle Griep's Dickens Christmas series.

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  15. Love your story! My husband and I are also very frugal, but we do try to do something special for the kids. As for my favorite Christmas book, I always enjoy the ones who celebrate the birth of Jesus.

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    1. That's the spirit of Christmas to give, I love that, Joy.

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  16. Mary, I also make scalloped corn for Christmas dinner, it's my husbands mom's recipe so you know it's old! But I can't have dinner without it :-) It's written on a 3x5 card that has seen better days (think old food splotches). My mouth waters just thinking about it.

    I don't know whether I grew up rich or poor, my parents never talked about money in front of us, or at least that I remember. I'm the oldest of three and was an only child until I was 9. So I suppose I must have gotten spoiled by the time my brother came along. Looking back, we always had everything we needed so there wasn't much to complain about. Talking about sleds, I do remember one year in winter (I grew up in Illinois), we had a horrible storm come through and dump lots of snow and ice on the ground. So much so that nobody could get anywhere! Well, we lived in an apartment complex on a hill, so my dad got out my metal saucer sled and we zoomed down that hill in the middle of the road. Now THAT was fun!!

    Thanks for sharing your story, you have a keeper cowboy for sure!

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    1. Trixi, as a rule, the more battered the recipe card, the more delicious the recipe. :D

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  17. I read as many Christmas novels and novellas as I can between Thanksgiving and Christmas but don't really have a favorite I can name.

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  18. I don't really have a favorite Christmas book, but there is a children's Christmas book that my family and I read every year. It is called Voices of Christmas, it is one of my favorite things that we do for Christmas.

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  19. Many years ago, I read a Regency story that has always stuck with me. I think it was in a Christmas collection, don’t know the author, but it involved a soldier who thought he’d lost his fortune and couldn’t afford presents for his niece and nephew. He tried to steal something for them but wound up giving away the little he had—kind of a twist on The Gift of the Magi. Of course, in the end he wasn’t destitute and he reunited with his lady.

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  20. What a special story. I love the intricacies of backgrounds and relationships and how everything comes together in interactions. My family was always pretty poor too, though my parents did a good job of keeping us fairly unaware of it. I was the oldest so I was always very conscious of it. (My family likes to joke that we're the reason Sonny's BBQ switched their policy from "all kids under 5 eat free" to "one kid per paying adult eats free" because they had all 5 of us in under 6 years and we went there a lot. ;-)

    Hubby and I have an only child and while I'm a little sad she doesn't get to experience all the siblings, we've enjoyed being able to spoil her a little more than our parents were able to do with us.

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  21. Mary, first, thanks for sharing a family favorite recipe - which sounds delicious and decadent! Second, I'm not taking a chance on missing the Christmas stories by y'all, so I bought the anthology. Best wishes to the others on winning a copy! Third, thanks for this heartfelt post, which reminded me of my childlike understanding of near poverty and my mother crying over a bill left unpaid. Scary, to a child, when a parent, our rock, is in tears.

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  22. Thanks for the wonderful post. We had simple Christmases while I was growing up. I had 8 siblings, and my dad was a schoolteacher, so money was kind of tight. We kept it simple when my kids were growing up, too. I can't help but think that Christ wouldn't want us to go into debt to celebrate his birth.

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    1. I don't actually have a favorite Christmas book, but I'd love to be in the drawing for Christmas at Star Inn.

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  23. Great post.
    We only give money to the grandkids. We donate to charity instead of giving the kids gifts. We are retired and on a fixed income. We grew up middle class but had to work very hard for what we got. It was a blessing that we started married life out with my hubby in the military.

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    1. No favorite Christmas book except maybe A Christmas Carol by Dickens.

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  24. Little Women , might not sound traditional but since it is that time of year, I love this story! I am so looking forward to this Christmas and all the festive things this year!
    Linda Marie Finn

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