Create Lasting Christmas Memories

Create Lasting Christmas Memories

Welcome to Heart of the Matter Radio/Podcast. Today Cynthia reminisces about a childhood Christmas memory. She also reflects on the deeper meaning of Christmas, emphasizing the hope found in Christ. As a special treat, Cynthia invites listeners to access her Christmas memories and a cherished cake recipe on the podcast’s website. Join us as we delve into the joy of creating lasting memories and celebrating the true significance of Christmas.

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 I’ve been encouraging women this year to create a memory at Christmas time. Because when you think about it, when your life is over, you are not going to wish that you had bought one more gift or that you had put up one more decoration. You are going to care about the people in your life.

And so I want to share a memory of mine with you.

When I was a little girl, they sold icicles to go on Christmas trees.

And the icicles were like little pieces of aluminum, little tiny strip. Mother wanted me to take one tiny strip and hang one of them on the tree at a time. Well, that was very slow and a little boring for me. I wanted to do something a little more exciting. And I discovered that if you threw the icicles up in the air, that they landed in such interesting shapes, and the light would hit them and it would make it really very pretty. So I would start to throw them, and mother would catch me and she would say, “No, you have to do them one at a time.”

And she’d show me again.”

After that I’d do them one at a time until she turned her back. Then I was throwing him again, because, first of all, it was faster and it was prettier. They made interesting shapes. Of course, now that I am grown, I understand that mother was concerned about money, and she didn’t want to have to buy more icicles next year because they were expensive.

Give Clear Messages

So sometimes when we are spending time with our family or with our kids, we don’t always communicate real clearly about what really is on our mind and what really matters. Because if she had explained, maybe I’d be a little bit more willing to have done it. And so we want to be careful that the messages that we give are carefully crafted so that our kids get them, that our family gets them. For instance, you want your family and your friends to know that you love them, even though maybe you disagree on something.

Well, back in Jesus day, they lived in difficult times. Just like now, they had to be careful how much money they spent. And they were worried about their provision and their food and their clothing. But Jesus made a very profound statement. I’m going to read it to you.

Luke 1223. He says, “…life is more than food and the body is more than clothing.”

Well, you know, that’s pretty profound.

In fact, when I was a kid, I thought that my body, my internal organs in my stomach did something for the world that was absolutely wonderful. And I couldn’t wait to find out what they did. And when I found out that all they did was keep me alive, I was very disappointed. Because you want to live for something bigger than that.

Let me tell you, you can live for something bigger than that, because that’s the point of this verse. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. And Christmas is a whole lot more than just simply purchasing gifts. The point of Christmas was God wrapped in flesh.

And because he came to live with us, Emmanuel, God with us, we can be reconciled to God. And he was the one who was the creator of all of life. What an amazing, amazing thing. And I love this verse that I had a teacher that used to talk to us all the time about “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” And she kept saying that. And finally, it really clicked with me that regardless of what happens in this life, that we can have confidence about the next life, about heaven, because of Christ in you, the hope of glory. I’m hoping that this year that you make memories with your family and with those you love. But I’m hoping that the memories that you make are clear.
I’m offering a gift for my listeners. If you will click here, you can sign up to get a few of my childhood Christmas memories and a cake recipe Mom used to make. I hope you do.
Christmas Wedding: Unveiling The Roosevelt Love Story

Christmas Wedding: Unveiling The Roosevelt Love Story

Welcome to Heart of the Matter Radio/Podcast. This week we have a special history episode. Mittie Bulloch lived in Roswell, Georgia, which is just north of Atlanta. She married Roosevelt during the Christmas season. Later she became the mother of President Theodore Roosevelt.

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Visit Mittie’s home, Bulloch Hall, here

Cynthia:

Holidays are upon us. And one of the things I love to do is to go back in history and talk about things that happened in history over the holidays. And if you recall, last year, I talked about Martha Washington and George Washington. They were married on the 12th day of Christmas, which was January the 6th, and she wore purple shoes. And that year, for Christmas, I baked a cake that Martha Washington liked to serve over the holidays. So, I think it’s so fun to find out what happened over the holidays at Christmas time. So, this year, I found out something special happened in my area, because I live in the Atlanta area, and I discovered that there was a famous person born here. There was a wedding here, too.

 

 

And today I’m going to have Gwendolyn Kohler tell us all about Mitti and Thee (or Theodore). So welcome, Gwen

 

Tell me about this story. It started in 1850 in Roswell and Marietta, Georgia.

 

Gwen:

 

Well, I need to take you back to the 1850s.

 

Cynthia:

Okay.

 

Gwen:

In the 1850s, Marietta was a booming town. It was quite the place to be. And if you wanted to shop and you lived in what’s now known as Roswell, you traveled several hours to Marietta to do your shopping. Then, petticoats, carriages, and horses were the mode of the day. And the telegram has now, fortunately, been able to connect the barrier between Cartersville and Atlanta. And that’s a big deal. David Copperfield was the hot book to have on your shelf to read. California is agitating for statehood, and Amelia Bloomer has scandalized New York City by appearing in bloomers on her bicycle.

 

Gwen:

 

Now let’s look back at Roswell. Roswell’s claim to fame, or one of its major claims to fame, is its national landmark, which is Bullock Hall. Bullock Hall is known as the home of President Theodore Roosevelt’s mother. Her parents, James and Martha, moved to Roswell in 1839, and they built this gorgeous temple-style Greek revival home that still stands as it was built at that time. It has been restored to as near as possible as its original condition. All right, now, in your imagination, think about our December weather. Think about that snow-rain mix that falls and makes all of our lovely Georgia clay into beautiful clay soup. Bullock Hall is at the top of a heart-shaped driveway.

 

Gwen:

 

This wedding that was planned had been planned for months. You cannot imagine Mitty Bullock torturing the neighborhood and her fiancé for months with plans for this wedding. Imagine carriages going up that heart-shaped driveway, letting off their passengers as the ladies are trying to keep their skirts from touching the mess. The house is a glow with all kinds of candles, decorated with ribbons and holly and greens. How did that happen? Well, you’ve got to step back in time just a little bit. About 1850, Mitti had a half-sister, Susan West, who married a man from Philadelphia, Hilborn West, and his friend was Theodore Roosevelt. They were married at Bullock Hall, and Theodore traveled with his friend Hilborn to attend the wedding, and Mitti caught his eye. Nothing happened at that point.

 

Gwen:

 

But about three years later, Susan invited Mitti and her sister Anna to go to Philadelphia for a visit. Theodore Roosevelt heard they were in town and hopped on the train and came down and was quite entranced with Mitti’s charms. She and her sister then spent some time in New York City.

We went to Harvard and transcribed the letters for this period, and then we published them in our book.

So back to the story. In the letters, there is a reference to the sacred couch upstairs at Cousin Mary’s. They don’t give us any more information about the sacred couch. But enchantment happened, and Theodore proposed to Mitti.

 

Gwen:

 

She returned to Roswell wearing a diamond ring. He traveled down from New York to Roswell to meet the family, and to be properly engaged as her fiancé. Martha approved the marriage, and planning seriously took place. Now, this all had to take place with courtship by letter. Imagine she is in Roswell. A southern bell. He is a serious young businessman working in his father’s plate glass business in New York City. It takes approximately three weeks, or 21 days for the letters to travel between Roswell and New York.

 

Gwen:

 

Sometimes they even wrote to each other, and their letters passed in the mail. Neither one knew what the other one had said. So, therefore, things got a little interesting with this wedding planning. Mitti was not a shy, retiring girl. She was full of vim, vigor, and vitality. She loved to ride horses. She loved dancing. She loved parties.

 

Gwen:

 

She loved to read. She loved tableau, and she loved mime. She was a busy girl. Theodore is serious, working in his father’s business, and Mittie decides it’s time to give him a list of instructions. Now, how many young women now give their fiancé a list of instructions before they’re married? Well, they did. Mitti’s list is interesting. She said that in the future you will not stay. And I’m reading this from her letter right now.

 

Gwen:

 

She said, number one, these are numbered. That you in the future, you will not stay in town to read my letters. And take tea, dry toast. But will enjoy your social meal as in the olden times. Apparently, he had a habit of going to his room. Reading the letters with his tea and toast. Instead of joining the family for dinner. She feels his social life is badly lacking.

 

Gwen:

 

Number two, she says, I want you to follow my theory and enjoy yourself as much as you used to before me. But number three is the winner. That you take care of your dress. And never think about wearing a green coat to church. Tis perfect treason. It’s of more importance to the family than you imagine. But seriously, dear Thee, please, for my sake, don’t think of me in that kind of way and never go out.

 

Gwen:

 

I wish you would think about it. Follow my advice. Be assured. Tis much the better plan. I love all that I’m capable of loving, except mother. Yet I enjoy myself as much as I ever did. Only more. Because I can think of you with so much pleasure.

 

Gwen:

 

And he is longing for her letters. She does not write often enough. And every letter that I have. He is pleading for more word from here about what to do. When will she plan the wedding? Well, the wedding gets planned first. It’s going to be twelve bridesmaids. Because she has so many friends. But he doesn’t know that many men.

 

Gwen:

 

So, then she can’t have twelve bridesmaids. She finally settles on four. The primary one being, of course, her sister Anna. Theodore’s brother Cornelius is asked. And then he names George Morris and a couple of other friends. And he mentioned this name. Now, I do not know. I don’t want to offend anyone when I tell you this story.

 

Gwen:

 

But this gentleman’s name was Robert Campbell. We tried to look him up, but we’ve never been able to get his identity. But Mitti says to Thee, do not invite Robert Campbell. If you invite him, I will be going to Texas with Tom King, who lives across the street. Anyway, Robert Campbell did not come to the wedding, let’s put it that way. And Theodore came. And his parents traveled by train and steamship to come to the wedding. His brother Cornelius came too.

 

Gwen:

 

Those were the Roosevelts that were present. And the wedding was arranged. Mitti had invited her four friends to be bridesmaids. They were to wear white gowns with ruffles. Her gown was white silk. We have a reproduction of that at Bullock Hall. That we have on display right now in Mitti’s room for Christmas. And they were extremely excited about all of this.

 

Gwen:

 

So, what’s the arrangement? Her cousin, Reverend John Dunwoody is going to perform the ceremony. The Dunwoodys live next door, which was very convenient, and the girls are upstairs. The house is adorned. There are pocket doors between the parlor and the dining room, and that’s where the ceremony takes place. They close the doors. The wedding party arranges itself on the other side, and the doors are opened, and the ceremony takes place. After the wedding, they have all kinds of celebrations, and they have what was described as a very elaborate cake. Then the week following the wedding, this young newly married couple, what do they do? They live with Mother Martha for a week, attending parties that their friends in Roswell are holding in celebration of the wedding.

 

Gwen:

 

At the end of that time, they travel to New York City for the first year of marriage. They live with his parents, Cornelius and Margaret von Shaw Roosevelt. While his father’s wedding gift is. A house is being built on 20th Avenue in New York City, or 20th Street, I guess it is. And while living there and moving into the new house, Mitti has four children. Her second child is Theodore, who becomes the president of the United States. To jump ahead to the President Theodore Roosevelt. He said he was raised on wonderful stories of his southern ancestors.

 

Gwen:

 

And he came in 1905 to visit Roswell. He came to Bullock Hall. We have on display a picture of him standing with his party on the steps. He came with his second wife, Edith, who was wearing a black veil over her hot face. And she never took it off for the picture, so you never see her face. There was so much cinder and soot blowing on the train, the dinky that brought them from Atlanta up here, up to Roswell, that she protected her face with that heavy veil, and she still has it on in the picture. He wanted especially to come to Bullock Hall to see the library because he’d heard so many stories about it. He also visited the Presbyterian church that Mitti’s parents helped found, Barrington Hall.

 

 

Cynthia:

Very interesting. How many people actually fit into the house when they were married?

 

Gwen:

 

We have searched high and low. There is absolutely no record of who attended the wedding. Simply know that the gentleman who was the minister at the Presbyterian church did not approve of the bridesmaid’s dresses. So he would not have been there because his daughter was to be a bridesmaid, and he wouldn’t let her be a bridesmaid because he considered the dresses a little bit too frivolous. So he was not there. I assumed the Kings, the Smiths the other prominent families, the other founding families in town were all there. But there is no record. There is no guest book, no list that’s kept.

 

Gwen:

 

And in her notes, the letters about the wedding, there is absolutely nothing they mentioned about anyone other than the girls, who were her bridesmaids, and Cornelius. And the other gentleman who was a groomsman for thee, Tom King, from across the street at Barrington hall, was invited to be a groomsman as well, which was very nice of him, based on the fact that he had been a suitor of Mitti’s earlier, I do believe that’s not talked about a lot. Mitti was very much the social butterfly in town, so I suspect there had been an earlier flirtation going on in the letters. Remember I’d mentioned to you that Mitti was a very feisty soul. There are a couple of stories about her, if you’d like to hear those. I would love it. One was, that there is a mountain somewhere between Roswell and Marietta. I think I know which one it is, but I’m not sure.

 

Gwen:

 

She referred to it as Lookout Mountain. They decided to go on a picnic. There were several young people in their late teens, and early 20s that were quite a group about town. Mittie decided that she wanted to return to Roswell before the rest of them. So, as she writes to Thee, she picked up a red tablecloth, tied it around her waist, another around her head, turban style, and took a friend’s horse and rode back to Roswell before the rest of them came in the carriages. One other thing she did, the other one. She told him about this one, too.

 

Gwen:

 

I know he was not happy about it. She went on an overnight picnic to Stone Mountain. Now, can you imagine the packing for overnight in 1853? Carriages, tents, hampers of food, heaven knows what.

 

Cynthia:

Do they sleep in a tent?

 

Gwen:

 

They pitched a tent. That night it rained.

 

Cynthia:

Oh, my.

 

Gwen:

 

They pitched the tent too close to the stream. She writes that at midnight they had to go to the inn at the top of the hill where they danced and partied. In the morning, they went back to their tent, and they had wet biscuits and floating bacon for breakfast before returning to Roswell.

 

Cynthia:

You were telling me that there were several things she’d like to do, and one of them I didn’t recognize.

 

Gwen:

 

Tableau.

 

Cynthia:

Okay, see, I don’t know what tableau is.

 

Gwen:

 

All right. The tradition of tableau is mime, in a way. What they would do would take a Greek tale, a Greek legend. They would spend the week, they would all have these conversations where they would plan what legend they’re going to do. They would make costumes, and then they would all go and pose in the picture that they envisioned that the legend represented. And someone would sit and read the legend.

 

Cynthia:

They had to stand still for a long time.

 

Gwen:

 

I can’t imagine it. They also talked about reading aloud. They talked about playing card games. They talked, oh, she loved to do the quadrille. She loved to dance. That was, of course, a very elaborate dance at that time. Horseback riding.

 

Gwen:

 

Oh, one of the other things she mentioned which I didn’t understand was G-R-A-P-I-N-G. That’s what you call it when you go out to pick the grapes.

 

Cynthia:

That makes sense.

 

Gwen:

 

And the other thing mentioned, that’s funny. When she was unwell, her mother would make her something called an egg pop.

 

Cynthia:

An egg pop?

 

Gwen:

Now, again, we did some considerable research about that, and somehow it sounds to me a little like eggnog with some liquor added.

 

Cynthia:

Oh, I bet it was. Didn’t she have a heart problem?

 

Gwen:

Never properly identified. They talked about it as palpitations. Yeah, probably something that was brought on by excitement and anxiety. I don’t know. She was also viewed later by her family as rather delicate. Let me tell you this delicate woman. Later, after the Civil War, traveled the Nile River. She traveled all over Europe.

Gwen:

I know she liked to have her tipple, shall we call it. She had certainly tasted beer and wine and other delights. She was raised as a very feminine southern woman in the old tradition and therefore seen by, northerners who write many of the books about her. Unfortunately, though I may be from the North, I’m very, a little critical of the Northern attitude towards Southern women, especially in that period, because they’re viewed as helpless. And Southern women were raised, if they were in a family of the status of the Bullocks, raised to be cared for. She was raised to be waited on. And so, therefore, that was her expectation for life. So, I’m not too happy always with the comments that are made about her.

Cynthia:

Isn’t the family related to the person who was the first governor of Georgia?

 

Gwen:

Oh, yes. Archibald Bullock was the first royal governor of Georgia. And James Bullock, I believe. I haven’t got the genealogy here in front of me. I think he was his grandson. But, yes, he was a significant person during the American Revolution. And her father, James Bullock, joined the Chatham artillery, which was down, of course, around Savannah.

Gwen:

He did not fight in the war. He was not in the war. Father was an entrepreneur. He was investing in gold and mineral rights in north Georgia. Early on, he was an investor in the steamship The Savannah, which was the first venture to have fast travel across to England from America, which was a colossal failure. They neglected to leave enough room for all of the fuel. Oh, well, I think that was the way the story went. So, he had quite a life also, and he was. Well, that would be enough.

Gwen:

Talking about James Bullock is another whole story because he was Martha Bullock’s second husband. And if I start on that story, we won’t finish.

 

Cynthia:

What was Mitti’s problem with green?

 

Gwen:

I don’t have any idea. We have laughed about that so many times. She simply did not want him to wear a green coat to church. There’s no other mention of the color green. We don’t know what her favorite color was. We know she liked violets, but I have no clue about that green coat. But I think. Imagine telling him, you can do anything you want, but don’t wear that green coat.

 

Gwen:

Who knows? Or it didn’t do much for him. He was a tall, dark, very good-looking man, but apparently, it just didn’t do much for her or for him, in her view.

Cynthia:

Do you know what kind of refreshments they served after the wedding was over?

 

Gwen:

 

Well, there are varying lists of things that you can read depending on which expert you want to listen to. What I know is that they serve cake. That’s the one thing that was specifically mentioned in the letters. I am sure that there was a major feast. I’m sure that there had been cooking down in the kitchen all day long. I am sure that there were all kinds of wonderful foods. But food was not on her mind. I bet Theodore was on her mind.

 

Gwen:

And having the bridesmaids in order and making sure that he had the right grooves. But oh, one of the other things that she did. She told him that when he came to visit, not to rent Tom King’s horse because he was hard to control. So. Poor Tom King.

Cynthia:

Yeah, that’s interesting. As I have researched, I’ve discovered that cakes that were kind of in England that came over here, that Specialty cakes were oftentimes they were called fruitcakes, but they weren’t the kind we have today. They were just kind of a spice cake with a few pieces of fruit.

Martha Washington had cooked one for her Christmases. Hers was a dark kind of fruitcake, but it had apples in it. It wasn’t anything like we think of a fruitcake.

 

Gwen:

Sounds rather delicious anyway. But no, she didn’t talk about food, really, in her letters. Thee talked more about food and talked about his tea and toast. And he actually, later on in the letters, he went to New Orleans for a friend’s wedding and he was doing seafood salad of some kind. And the cook who was helping him didn’t realize what he was doing. And she mixed the chicken salad with the seafood salad and it was served. And he was a little concerned about that. Strange little tidbits crop up in these books all the time.

Cynthia:

And so how many children did they have altogether?

 

Gwen:

They had four children. The president, Theodore Roosevelt, first was Anna, then Theodore, then Corinne, and the last was Elliot, two boys and two girls.

Cynthia:

I’ve read that Theodore had asthma as a child.

 

Gwen:

He was very sick as a child with asthma. And his father worked with him and helped him build his body. His father used to take him out for carriage rides at night to help ease his breathing. But, yes, he suffered greatly. It was not until he was older that he began to work on bodybuilding. And Develle had a life for himself.

Cynthia:

And he was the one the teddy bear was named after.

 

Gwen:

Well, that’s very true. There was a story about the president going bear hunting in the south, and the story is that there were no bears that day. So, someone captured a bear and brought it to the clearing. He told the president he could shoot him, shoot it, and then have the skin for his trophy. President Theodore Roosevelt refused to kill the bear. A cartoonist in New York City heard the story and drew the cartoon. And then a toy manufacturer wrote to the president and asked permission to make bears and named them after him. And at the same time, in Germany was beginning to make toy bears.

Gwen:

He was known for being the wildlife king, and he founded all the national parks. He did a lot of good things.

 

Mastering Holiday Stress: Secrets to Finding Peace

Mastering Holiday Stress: Secrets to Finding Peace

Welcome to Heart of the Matter Radio/Podcast. This week we have author and counselor Tina Yeager give us tips on Mastering Holiday stress.

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Cynthia:

The Christmas season is here again. And so many of us get so stressed at Christmas because we’re going to celebrate and we’re going to celebrate hard.  We make all these plans, and we suddenly realize that we really can’t do it all. And we get kind of irritable and stressed. And it becomes a difficult season for moms because usually moms are the ones that do so much of the work. So today I have with me Tina Yeager, and she’s a fantastic teacher and counselor, and she’s going to kind of give us some tips on having a peaceful Christmas for us while we try to do stuff for other people. So welcome, Tina,

Tina:

Cynthia, it’s always a joy to spend time with you and to share with your viewers and listeners.

Cynthia:

Yes. Give us some tips on how we can make Christmas peaceful.

Tina:

Well, we need to make sure that we’re focusing on the right things at Christmas, the meaning instead of the materialism that’s around us. Make sure that you’re putting people and faith as your top priorities this Christmas instead of all the pressure stuff. Things that seem to be important because everybody’s doing them and everybody’s pushing them from commercialism. Instead of making that your priority, make sure that every day begins with Jesus. How can I honor you today as the meaning of my Christmas season?

Cynthia:

Do you ever have overlapping parties? What do you do about that?

Tina:

Well, it’s okay to say no and to decline gracefully. And I think it’s important to say no and decline gracefully. You need to set ahead of time a schedule of what your capacity is and everyone’s capacity is different. Your health is something you need to consider your energy levels and your fatigue levels. Also think about your temperament. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How many kids you’re bringing and getting babysitting for, all of that is going to play into your capacity.  Mark out what you can do.

And then once those slots get filled, you have to say no. I’m sorry I’m overbooked for the holiday season, but I appreciate you. Sending them a thank you card for inviting. Let them know how much they mean to you is a great way to let them know gracefully.

 

Cynthia:

I feel like a party pooper when I do that sometimes.

Tina:

But if you do it well and you help that person feel loved with just a little extra handwritten note. Let them know how much you appreciate that, and that you want to still be invited the next time. That can help get rid of that feeling.

Cynthia:

Or maybe invite them to do something with you after the New Year starts.

Tina:

That might be another way. If you tell them instead, “I’m going to do a friends I love get-together on Valentine’s Day week and then maybe we can catch up then.”

Cynthia:

I like that because I’m already starting to feel that pressure even now and it’s early in the month. I mean, it is fun, but you only do so much without getting overwhelmed. What other tips do you have?

Tina:

Well, I think planning is helpful, and scheduling time to make that time to plan is important. I think that setting that and making sure you have room for margin.

Margin needs to be big enough to accommodate self-care and peace, your faith journey, and making sure that you have scheduled time for unexpected things. Those things happen whether you’ve scheduled time for them or not. If you don’t plan enough margin to cover that, then you’ll be behind the gun underneath and overwhelmed and too many things that you already had planned to do, and now you can’t catch up on them. And all those things happen.

So, emergencies and last-minute things will come up.

Make sure you have room in your schedule for those.

Cynthia:

And it seems like a lot of times when we get asked to a party, we’re asked to also bring a gift. I could do without the gift because I’d rather just be with the people. Is there any way to squirm out of that gracefully?

Tina:

Depends on the party, and it depends on the party host. You can ask, are your guests bringing you a gift? At this party? It’s okay to ask that question. And instead of bringing a gift that costs you money, you could bring something to all your parties that you make ahead of time in a batch, for example, I like to make for people that are work friends or neighbors or people that aren’t family members, but you need to give them a little something. I like to make Russian spice tea, and you could make a big batch of that and put it in little jars. And these can be upcycled jars that you had for jellies or jams. And you just put like a little sticker on the top and say, here’s how many tablespoons of this Russian spice tea mix there are, and put a little bow on it. Then you’re done with all of those hostess gifts that you have to bring.

Cynthia:

That’s a good idea. Something that you make is going to be more personable anyway and it’s less expensive.

Tina:

I mean, if you want to make a batch of cookies and put them in a cute little dollar store box, you can do that too.

Cynthia:

What other ideas do you have for reducing stress?

Tina:

Make sure that you are making personal gifts as well, instead of having to purchase all your gifts. Some of the most meaningful gifts are the ones that you make yourself. And it doesn’t always have to take hours and hours. If you’re not somebody who can knit a whole sweater, then maybe that’s not the kind of personal gift you want to do.

Last year I made Christmas ornaments for each of my family members, and it was part of their gift. It wasn’t their only gift, but each ornament was made in a shape. I bought them at Michael’s and these little wooden shapes, and I put words that I decoupaged that described that person’s best traits all over that outside of the ornament.

So, it was very personal and something they could keep forever.

Cynthia:

That is nice. What I’ve been doing this past year is knitting my washcloths for the kitchen so that I have a rag that I’ve done myself that I can wipe down the table with and stuff. And that might be a nice gift to give somebody.

Tina:

Yes, you could do that. You could create a little scripture verse and put it with it and wrap it nicely with a pretty ribbon. Ribbon can make anything look like it’s more elegant, even if it’s inexpensive. And you can get ribbons at the dollar store.

Cynthia:

Great. So, do we tend to cut back on sleep in the holidays? Because I know parties go late. That’s one thing that causes me a lot of stress.

Tina:

When we don’t sleep, we get less productive. It seems like that lack of sleep is making us get more done. But you’re working slower. You’re not being as efficient, so you get less done when you don’t sleep. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can cut back on sleep. The other thing that happens when you don’t sleep is that you get sick and this is cold and flu season, so you don’t want to be sleep-deprived going into all these holiday gatherings either. You will be able to do more, see more people, and be a bigger blessing if you get the rest that you need.

Cynthia:

And so, for those of us who are tempted to stay up when there’s a party that we do go to, say goodbye early while you’re still wide awake.

Tina:

Yes, that’s a good idea. Or just tell them ahead of time, I need to go home and get some rest. I got an early day tomorrow, but I wanted to see you. So, I will bow out at 09:00 p.m. And I love you guys, but I want to make sure I am healthy enough to love everybody else, too.

Cynthia:

And see you left a good taste in their mouth when you said it that way.

Tina:

Exactly. People who love you will be understanding of what your needs are, not just theirs.

Cynthia:

Yeah, that’s good. But you also have a class about this, right?

Tina:

I do. I have a course called Your Stress-Less and Joy-Blessed Holiday Season. And just for your listeners right now, I have a bonus coupon, a couple of bonus coupons.

One is all caps, FRIDAY23 for 2023. So, Friday 23 and you can get 25% off of the retail price of that class. So that brings it down from $49 to 36.75. And then five people, whoever the first five people are that sign up with another coupon could get even less, can get even more off for their course. They can put in the coupon code actnow if there are any of those left.

Tina:

And they will get that course instead for $27. But that’s only for five people. So whoever the first five are that sign up for that will get that coupon.

Cynthia:

Tell me more about what they get.

Tina:

I’ve got planners for meals. I’ve got travel planners. I’ve got all kinds of comprehensive information in there.

Cynthia:

Travel planners. Wow, that sounds great. So that’s worth it if you’re thinking about what your month is going to look like.

Tina:

Yeah. What is your health worth? Right. Your health and your well-being and your mindset. What’s that worth to you?

Cynthia: What is the link to your class?

Tina:

Click here

Sarah Joseph Hale’s Fight to Make Thanksgiving a National Holiday

Sarah Joseph Hale’s Fight to Make Thanksgiving a National Holiday

In today’s Thanksgiving episode, we delve into the history behind this beloved holiday. Join Cynthia as she explores the origins of Thanksgiving, the remarkable story of Sarah Joseph Hale, and how she played a pivotal role in making it a national holiday.

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Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621. For many years, various parts of the country celebrated Thanksgiving while others didn’t.

George Washington Issued a Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789 as did John Adams and James Madison. Thomas Jefferson, however, believed such that a violation of church and state.

Sarah Josepha Hale believed Thanksgiving should be a national holiday

Sarah was born in New Hampshire in 1788 and married David Hale in 1813. However, her husband died in 1822, and she had work to support her family. She chose to write, and her most famous work is Mary Had a Little Lamb. Her writing caught the attention of a lady’s magazine and they invited her to serve as editor.

Louis A Godey hired Sarah as editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1837.

The magazine became the most influential and widely read magazine at the time. Sarah didn’t agree with feminists of the day but she steered the magazine away from politics and social issues. Instead, she encouraged women’s education while hiring original writers.

Her family had celebrated Thanksgiving every year as she grew up, and she saw the value in being thankful. Sarah often wrote articles encouraging a national day of Thanksgiving.

At the time, slavery split the nation. Sarah believed a national day of Thanksgiving could unite the shattered nation. She frequently wrote Lincoln and requested him to establish a regular holiday.

When the Union won the battle of Fort Donelson and Shiloh in 1862, Lincoln wrote a Thanksgiving proclamation. After the battle of Gettysburg, her wrote another one. Sarah appealed to him again for a national holiday, and he asked his staff to draft the appropriate documents. He set the Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November.

Cynthia is offering a gift to her listeners this year. Click here.

 

 

Prepare for the Holidays and Nurture Relationships

Prepare for the Holidays and Nurture Relationships

Cynthia and author Janet K. Johnson discuss ways to prepare for the holidays and nurture relationships

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Cynthia:

The holidays are upon us. And when I say that I include Christmas as well as Thanksgiving.

I’m doing a special focus this year, and it’s going to be called Make a Memory. Instead of getting all upset and being uptight, I want us to focus on our family and our relationships and doing things that we’ll remember years from now. When we get to the end of our life, we’re, we’re not going to say, gee, I wish I had bought that. We’re going to be thinking about what we did with our family and our friends. Today I have with me Janet Johnson, who is an author, and she’s going to give me some of her thoughts about how we can make this Christmas special and Thanksgiving special. Welcome, Janet.

Janet:

It’s so good to be here.

Cynthia:

Give me some thoughts on how you prepare for the holidays.

Janet:

Well, that all depends on how busy I am, and it depends and the season in my life. And I think that goes for everybody. As you all know, I’ve had some difficult times. I’ve had some struggles and some significant deaths in my family. And so, the holidays have not always been a time of joy.  I’m always celebrating the birth of Jesus, which is the real reason for Christmas. But for Thanksgiving, when there’s an empty chair, sometimes it’s very difficult. But there are ways around that I have discovered.

And one of the ways, for instance, and I’m just going to kind of share perhaps ways to honor those that are not present with us now, whether that would be through just that they’re not there because of distance or for a military member being away or for someone who has passed. One of the things to do is to have a basket when people come in and have them write a fun memory about the person that you’re talking about. And then it does not have to be a funny story or a fun memory. And then you pull one of the things and that person tells the funny story. Well, everybody around the table is going to be laughing and going, oh, I remember when. And different things like that. And that brings a really special time. And if you do that each year, you continue to have that person with you, and it is great fun anyway.

It’s just great memories. One of the things that our family did after my mom passed the first year. I didn’t realize how significant this was until afterward. our son called and said, “Do you have Grandma’s recipe for the cranberry casserole?”

I said, “Yes, I do.”

And so, he said, “We want to make that recipe.”

Well, guess what? Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, that cranberry casserole is on our table wherever we are celebrating.  I think we develop traditions, and so it’s important to be able to keep those traditions, and they just bring joy into whatever the celebration happens to be. I want to kind of think about Christmas time, because that’s a difficult time, especially, too, for people who have lost loved ones. And one of the things that someone suggested to me, was gathering all of the ornaments through the years that have been given to Grandma on a special tree. And every year that tree gets brought out.

And Grandma’s a part of the celebration that is there. And the kids loved it because their ornament that they had given to Grandma was right there. And it’s a happy memory. It’s not a sad memory. It’s a happy memory. And that’s the thing that we want to do, is always to remember the happy times. I think it’s important to be able to allow the children to, for instance, make a mobile for Thanksgiving or for Christmas.

For instance, they could have a heart as the big heart, and then five or six little hearts. They draw a picture on the heart of a special memory they have from Thanksgiving. It’s probably going to be a tradition, like that cranberry casserole. And then they can put little ones about people that are special or whatever. And then you can hang it up in their room, or you can hang it in the dining room or wherever they want to hang it, as just a reminder of all the different special times that they’ve celebrated over Thanksgiving. Of course, it would depend on the age of the child. Of course, the most important thing for us as moms and people who are trying to nurture children is time. We get so busy with everything else, and it’s more important to just sit down and play some Legos than it is to have a perfectly decorated house. And I think sometimes we forget that because we want everything to be perfect.

But perfection comes when we hear a child just tell somebody else, my mom sat and played Legos with me yesterday, or whatever it happens to be, or colored or things like that. So it’s just really important.

Cynthia:

That is an important message that I think we need to say more of is that time spent with our kids is probably more important than any decorations we might have or special gifts because the time is molding them in a way that nothing else can. So that is such an important thing to say don’t get your schedule so crowded that you don’t have time to spend with your children.

I really appreciate that emphasis on the person missing, because my father passed away the week of Thanksgiving, and so we buried him the day before Thanksgiving. He had military, so we had to be buried in a military cemetery.  They wanted him out of the way, but they didn’t want to wait till after Thanksgiving. It kind of forced us to do things quickly. And that year was so uncomfortable because it was such a sudden change, and it was a lot. My parents had always been with us at Christmas time, and he was my last parent. His death put a dent in our Christmas that year. Continually making the things that my mother made, or at least one or two dishes and bringing the stories about them in has included them, and it kind of helped us to heal. Plus, it gives a heritage to the kids.

Janet:

And I think that’s really. I didn’t realize that cranberry casserole was so important, but as I thought back on it, that was something mom always prepared. When we went to visit her, she had that cranberry casserole. And I think traditions are important. The year after our son was killed, I didn’t feel like doing much. I got up that morning, Christmas morning, and I put some cereal and stuff on the table. My daughter said, “Mom, where’s the Christmas quiche?”

And I said, “I didn’t make it.”

“Why not? It’s a tradition.”

I didn’t know it was a tradition. Guess what? Every Christmas we have that quiche. Right. But I think we can get so involved in our feelings that we forget the feelings of our children and what’s important to them. So, one of the things that we can do as moms is ask them what’s important to them about whatever holiday it is, whether it’s Christmas or Thanksgiving or a birthday or whatever. Ask them, “What would you like to do this year?”

Allow them to have part of the decision-making and be a part of that whole conversation, rather than us as parents saying, well, we don’t need to do this. We don’t need to do that kind of thing. For instance, if they’re older, like a teen, or 6th, 7th, 8th grader, whatever. If Grandpa died, he always put the star on the tree.

“Who’s going to do that?”

So, in expressing it to one of the older children, “I would like you to do this if you think it’s okay.”

Always give them the choice to honor Grandpa by doing this, and they see it as an honor to their grandpa. He becomes the one who puts the star on the tree. It’s all about allowing them to be included in all the decisions that are being made.

Cynthia:

I think that’s sweet. Do you have anything else to add before we close?

Janet:

No, I just think that our children are so important to us, and we just want them to thrive well. Death is going to come. Hard times are going to come. struggles are going to come. But for them to know they are secure in our love and the love of the Lord. That gives them a solid foundation for whatever’s going to come against them.

As a gift to my listeners, I’m giving some of my childhood memories of Christmas and a cake recipe my mother baked. You can find that here.

Nurturing Gratitude: Practical Tips for Fostering Thankful Kids

Nurturing Gratitude: Practical Tips for Fostering Thankful Kids

In this episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jill Rigby Gardner about raising respectful children in a disrespectful world. We discussed the importance of cultivating gratitude in children, the impact of the self-esteem movement on kids’ behavior, and practical tips for instilling a grateful attitude. From redefining treats to teaching manners, we learned how to shift the focus from self-centeredness to valuing and respecting others. Join us as we explore ways to nurture grateful hearts and foster a culture of respect in our children.

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Cynthia:

Well, we’re here, right before Thanksgiving and the big question is always how can we make our kids more thankful? But in actuality, we need to have our kids be polite year-round. And just being thankful all year round, that’s always a good thing. My guest today is Jill Rigby Gardner, and she has written a book called Raising Respect, Children in a Disrespectful World. We’re going to talk a little bit about why kids are so disrespectful and how we can help them get there, but also how we can help them be thankful. So welcome, Jill.

Jill:

Hi. Cynthia. Glad to be here with you.

 

Cynthia:

So, Jill, why are kids so disrespectful these days? What’s the big deal?

Jill:

I’ll give you a couple of answers. The major answer I’ll give you is that in the late 60s, and early 70s, we bought into the ridiculous notion of self-esteem, and I call it the Great Lie. And it’s no different than the sin of pride in the Garden of Eden. But we understood that was bad, right? Go back to 16 or 17 hundreds. And there was a lot of discussion about vain, glory, vanity of self. We still understood bad. Then we come along to the early 70’s it’s all reframed and it’s now called self-esteem.

 

But it is no different. It is all the same, the esteeming of self. And we all fell for it hook, line, and sinker. And this time we decided it was a very good thing. We decided it was an essential part of our existence. It has not been a surprise to me, although it’s been heartbreaking to watch since I started meaner to the heart 25 years ago. In the last 25 years, what’s happened in our society and as we have become more and more disrespectful, and I take it all back, most of the issues we’re having today, I’m going to take it back to that evolution of self-esteem. Finally.

It was called something that we all fell for and decided it was a good thing. And the clearest definition of self-esteem is esteeming of self, which we should have understood is the same thing and not good. But we didn’t. And so, what’s happened is rather than esteeming others, children esteem themselves. And all this talk today about love yourself, love yourself, love yourself and the world will love you. If we just thought about that for a half minute, we would recognize the truth is the more deeply we fall in love with ourselves, the harder it is for us to love others. Right? Because we get lost in ourselves. And of course, out of all of that comes this disrespectfulness.

Because if you’re lost in yourself and if your goal in life is the esteeming of yourself and it’s all about me, there’s not going to be any level of respect left in our society. And that’s what’s happened.

Cynthia:

Yeah. And we love ourselves. Even for people who are depressed, we love ourselves. That’s our problem is that we’re not thinking about the other person. It’s very hard to do. But you have an entire chapter in here in your book on being grateful and so on. So, I just want you to share a little bit about how you can change that mindset to other-centered and be grateful for what we do have.

Jill:

Absolutely. It begins with helping children to get outside themselves. I’ll give you just a silly little example. One way to start this is if you’ve been going to the grocery or on your shopping trips and your child has become accustomed to a treat. Okay, number one, you know, you’ve crossed the line when they have become accustomed and now it has become an expectation, it is now no longer a treat, right? So, if your child is looking for what they’re going to get, right? Of course, there’s no gratitude because there’s an expectation. And so, you’ve kind of programmed them to expect something, a treat. So, it’s no longer a treat because that’s an unexpected pleasure, is a treat.

You created the problem. So how do you undo that? And this is one of the first steps toward leading children toward a heart of gratitude. So, the next time you go to the store, you say, “No, not today.” And you’re going to have to be willing to deal with whatever your child is going to give you. But you’re the parent. You have the God-given authority to stand in your place of authority. There’s no need to get upset. There’s no need to raise your voice.

And the more your children get upset, the more you can be calm because you’re standing in your place of authority. And you know, what you’re doing is what’s best for your child. So dependent on how long it’s going to take to undo it depends on how long you’ve been doing it. So, I’m not going to promise the first time, repeatedly, every time you go, no, not today. No, not today. No, not today. If you stand in it and remain calm, you will break that cycle and they’ll stop asking because you’ve removed that expectation. Now, here’s the cool thing about this.

So, the day comes when you go in and you’ve been on two or three trips and nothing has been asked for, nothing’s been said, and today you’re going to say, “All right, honey, why don’t you get a treat today, and get a second treat to give away.”

Well, your child, you’re going to blow your child’s mind in the first place. Now you’ve confused them because you’ve been telling them no. But guess what? Now they receive the treat as a treat out of your love for them for no other reason but just because. Right? But what they do is they get one treat, they get a second one for someone else, and they turn, and they give it away. If you’re not comfortable doing that right at that moment, wait till you get back in your neighborhood, back around people. You know, there’s so many stories I’ve gotten from people who’ve done this right there in the moment. And what happens to your child’s heart is this. They immediately feel and experience for themselves how much better it feels to give something away than it feels to get it.

And I’ve had so many parents, Cynthia, say, they started doing this, and then I’ll get an email and say, “jill, what do I do now? Every time we go to the store now, they want to buy something to give it away. How do I break that?”

And say, “Why do you want to break that? What a beautiful thing.”

So, if you want to kind of break the greediness that kind of crept into your child’s heart, that’s the best way to break it. And that’s also the first step toward cultivating gratitude. Right. Because now you’ve removed the expectation. And what they get now, they’re appreciative for it, and they’re not going to turn around and ask the next time they go to the store. No, and don’t do it twice in a row.

You have to do it periodically, and then it becomes a treat and it’s appreciated. So that’s one way, to me, that’s kind of the first step toward helping children cultivate gratitude.

Cynthia:

Well, here I am getting ready to go out of town and visit my granddaughter, and I was thinking about, I need to take something, and I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t. I don’t know. That’s a thought. I never thought of that before.

Jill:

You know, that’s so hard with grandparents. I have seven grandchildren. It is so incredibly hard. If every time you go to visit, you bring something, then the day does come when they are looking forward to what they’re going to get more than they’re looking forward to seeing you. It’s a hard habit to break. But one way you can do it again. You can bring something for your grandchild and then something to share. I love doing that concept most anytime. Giving them something to share rather than just something for them, but something that they can turn around and share with someone else. Another thought I had for you about kind of cultivating gratitude is a service, of course, and that’s to help your child, to serve others, and to help those who are less fortunate. And the old thing about Thanksgiving is such a great time.

I know some families who, on Thanksgiving afternoon, one of the activities they do is that they clean out their closets. The children go and clean out their closets and gather things that they take, and they donate sometime next week. And you take your children with you, of course, and don’t throw it in the back of the car and go do it. You need to take your children with you and donate things that are toys that they’re no longer playing with and not things that are in bad condition. That’s not the point at all, but to share things that they’ve enjoyed and that have meant something to them. And that’s a fun thing to do on Thanksgiving afternoon. And like I said, I know some families have made that kind of a ritual. We need to be thankful for what we’ve already been given.

Cynthia:

I love that concept. That is so beautiful. You want to teach your kids that when you do something for them, they need to thank you and be appreciative. So, do you have any tips on doing that?

Jill:

Let’s kind of broaden that a little bit, maybe to the courtesies kind of in a broader sense, because it does speak to a heart of gratitude. The whole idea of being courteous to others, that in and of itself is a heart of gratitude being put into action and into words. I’m a big proponent, I know, obviously, I’m from the south, but I’m still a very big proponent of everyone getting on our bandwagon of, yes, sir and no sir and yes ma’am and no, ma’am. And the reason for that, two reasons for that. When you’re thinking of the adult-child relationship, and again, trying to cultivate gratitude, the reason for yes sir and no, sir and yes women, no ma’am is simply because it sets the stage for a child to understand that there are adults and there are children and they are not on the same plane, and that there is to be respect. And it is simply showing respect. And it’s the first, simplest way that a parent can instill respect in a child. For authority is yes or no, sir, and yes ma’am, no ma’am.

It just befuddles me that so many people just don’t care for that. They just don’t agree with it. I hear it all the time when I travel and speak, and I always try to come back to help make the point. But it’s such a simple, very direct way to instill an attitude of respect because you don’t have to say yes, sir and no, sir to your peers, but you must say yes, sir and no, sir, yes, ma’am, no ma’am to adults. And it sets in place that first understanding of what respect means. Right. Particularly respect for authority. And out of that, of course, then follows the please.

I like to teach it in sign language to young children. I love to teach those five courtesies in sign language. Kids love it. And it kind of becomes something that exists between you and your child when they can say, thank you and they can say, you’re welcome, and they can say, please and I’m sorry, excuse me. And kids, of course, love to learn that.

And it’s just kind of a fun way of instilling those courtesies and reminding them that thank you and you’re welcome. I even love going through Chick fila because you’re always going to hear, “It’s my pleasure.”

Cynthia:

Well, really, what you’re talking about is going all the way back to respecting the individual by saying, I was thrilled to do that for you. You can even be respectful of your peers, even though you wouldn’t be calling them sir and ma’am. That’s kind of the basis of what manners is all about.

Jill:

Yes, it is. Our definition for manners is that manners is an attitude of the heart. That’s self-giving, not self-serving. It’s not memorizing the set of rules. That’s etiquette. Manners is a kind of an umbrella. Manners is the attitude behind the action. If we’re trying to instill gratitude in the heart of the child, then we must understand that the content of our child’s heart, whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, is what determines what they think, what they say, and what they do.

And so, we have to work in their hearts, not an expectation of Behavior. So much out here and a correction of Behavior. If there is Ingratitude out here, if you’re seeing selfishness in your child, then there’s a heart issue. It’s not the Behavior. That behavior is just simply a reflection of what’s going on in the Heart. So, you’ve got to get behind that behavior. We often like to say that respect in the Heart will Formulate Respect in the Mind, which comes out in the Actions. So, a Respectful Attitude toward things, which is where you want to work, is on the Attitude.

That’s where you can really see a change in a transformation. Not so much correction of the behavior, but correction of the Attitude behind the behavior.

Cynthia:

I think you hit on something when you talked about the difference in manners and etiquette, because I’ve always thought of etiquette as, oh, goodness gracious, there’s a list of rules, but manners is being. Yes, yes, the difference is big.

Jill:

So much so, Cynthia, it’s, you know, it truly is. I’ll tell you a sweet story that just happened in my neighborhood. I live in a cul de sac, and I have one neighbor on the right, and I have three neighbors in the circle. This happened just, like, three days ago. A little Ziploc bag was left in our Mailbox, and it had a note on it that had mom embossed on the top. And Walt, in a child’s Handwriting, W-A-L-T. It wasn’t a sentiment, but inside of it, it was a dollar bill and change, and it added up to $2.02. And so, my husband checked the Mail, and he said, oh, Walt must have stuck this in our Mailbox by mistake.

So he walked over to my neighbor, to return it. And Walt just turned three, and it was put in our mailbox intentionally, because Walt, in his precious little, tender heart and his very keen ears, he’s been tuned in to all the talk about the high cost of groceries and all the high cost at the pharmacy and especially the cost of gasoline, is out of control. And he told his mom that he wanted to give his neighbors some of his birthday money to help them buy gas for their cars.

Cynthia:

So sweet.

Jill:

Three years old. Three years old. Is that just the most precious thing?

Cynthia:

Precious, that is.

Jill:

Truly. Other synonyms. I mean, there is a full explanation of what it looks like, right? He saw a need. He recognized he could meet the need, and he. Very unselfishly, he was very grateful, right, for what he had received, and he wanted to share what he had received to help others.

Cynthia:

That’s just great. Well, is there anything else you can add before we close?

 

Jill:

I’ll close where we started. We started talking about self-esteem. What we try to do through all our programs and our books and everything that we do is help children learn how to esteem others. Right? How to put the needs of others ahead of their wants, how to, just, like little Walt, look for the needs of others and be the one to meet that need in someone else. And what happens is that it’s so beautiful.

 

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