Thursday, December 26, 2013


Leftovers. Not a word that enjoys a good connotation. One suggesting unsavory slush, abandoned at pan or bargain basement bottom. Unwanted. Not chosen.

But if leftovers are remnants, parts and pieces lingering from a bigger entity, we all bring them home every day in the fragile form of memories. The best ones are lovingly collected and revisited time and again. They are shared, compared, and recorded.

I have leftovers filling my heart right now. Christmas 2013 has gifted me generously with moments to actively celebrate what I expressed gratitude for at the Thanksgiving table one mere month, family, friends, and the peace, love, and security that each one of these brings home for safekeeping.

Doctor James Dobson believes that "a family should maintain a variety of traditions that give each member a sense of identity and belonging." Amen! This year we honored not only traditions of the past, but new ones as well, recognizing that the youngest among us are growing in capability and enthusiasm for the season.

Aunt Christy initiated "Cousin Movie Night" early in the month of December. Before "snuggle-up-in-your-sleeping-bag" time arrived, she made sure each kid was "decorated" suitably for the event!

Wearing the "Cousin Christmas Jammies" that Aunt Mary Jo provides annually, the kids gathered around Aunt Christy so she could help them make a festive jingle bracelet. (Nothing to worry about, grandma - the boys loved them too!) These were simply fashioned from bells and a chenille stem....a hint, perhaps, of the Polar Express movie that would round up the evening's fun....?

But whoever heard of going to the movies without a snack in hand - or, in this case - around one's cute little neck? Aunt Christy provided a gourmet spread of colorful cereal, candy coated pretzels, and sugary rings to string on ribbon lengths long enough to carry an "all you can eat" feast that would last all night!

Cousins, happily belled and "necklaced," await the next event - grandma's very unordinary rendition of The Night Before Christmas.

I think mice are rather nice. Their tails are long, their faces small, they haven't any chins at all.....Okay, those words are not original with me. They belong to Rose Fyleman.

But these are my own....

Their cute little faces
show up in places,
where the story goes wrong,
since they just don't belong!

Pulling up her best dramatic flair, this grandma commenced turning pages of the timeless classic. Who would have guessed what was to occur once "Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse" was read? From behind the book came a series of "whooshes!" and staccato movements that suggested one thing alone. There were, in fact, mice who were still stirring! To the sounds of delighted laughter - while no doubt looking like a peddler just opening her pack - I tossed each child a finger puppet mouse. It was "edge-of-your-seat" fun from that moment forward. They were instructed to listen for the randomly inserted word, "mouse," as a signal to raise their little critters high and cheer loudly for the joy that is Christmas!

"And Mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap - and oh my goodness! There's a mouse in my lap!"
"But a miniature sleigh with three tiny mice!"
"To the top of the house....look! There's a mouse!"
"In the beard of his chin peeked a wee tiny mouse!"

I've gotta be honest. The picture above was posed after the event. Actual story time action was pure unbridled enthusiastic exuberance! Far beyond what I expected from this sacrilegious tweaking of a story no one usually dares tamper with! Try it yourself next year and see!

Perhaps 2013 was "The Year of the Mouse." I began another seasonal tradition too, this time for my four granddaughters alone. Bree was the only one old enough to receive hers this year, but I have three more "in stock," waiting for Ava, Angeline, and Kaylee.........

Hot chocolate was served in Aunt Mary Jo's kitchen after story time. It was creamy, steamy, and delightful, loaded with mini-marshmallows and capped with a mountain of freshly whipped, sprinkle-topped cream. Once Bree sipped the top ounce from her mug, it was evident that this experience would not be like any other. The tippy tops of two tiny ears came into view. Hmmmm.....What's that? Well, drink a little more, sweetie! The pair of tiny ears was soon joined by a poking pink nose!...and then a set of beady black eyes!

To the surprise of everyone - except "know-it-all" grandma, of course! -  a sassy little mouse peered up at them from a place he will forever abide, venturing out but once each year when little girl cousins gather to sip hot Christmas chocolate and recall discovery of childhood magic in the bottom of a ceramic mug.

It's nothing new for me to guide the three oldest grandkids in the making of gifts for mommy and daddy. We do seasonal workshops and wrap what we make. This time we kept everything simple. There was so much else going on!

For mommies and aunties we made paper Santa necklaces strung with sparkly pom poms to wear on Christmas morning. For grandpa, daddies, and uncles we decorated foam cover notebooks with self adhesive stickers.

And then we wrapped what we made - with lots and lots and lots of tape!

Teddy agreed to model one of the handsome necklaces headed for mommy's stocking!

Grandma constructed the basic Santa head. Kids cut triangle hats with scissors, punched red stars, selected color, size, and order of red and green pom poms, drew eyes, and glued button nose and tiny white pom poms to beard. Grandma connected everything on Baker's twine threaded on an extra large needle.

And I should mention that our wrapped gifts each sported their own hand punched star tags!

"I think we're done here!"

May your New Year be full of sumptuous leftovers - more than enough to bring you joy and every good thing you wish for!

Folkmanis field mice finger puppets can be found here on page 9.
"Holiday Mouse" mugs are sold online at Hearthsong and Magic Cabin toy retailers.

Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. (1983). Dr. dobson's principles of parenting.
Retrieved December 22, 2013 from

PoemHunter. Mice. Retrieved December 22, 2013 from


  1. Sigh! You are such a fun grandma. I loved every little thing.

    My most precious gift this year was a calendar of Zoe - Zoe is our grandson Ben's cat and he loves to take photos of her. He made the calendar (with great captions) all by himself - and they had them printed at Walgreens. It is so wonderfully special and reflects his humor and his personality. He is nine and quite talented with the camera. Of course he's been using Grammy's camera since he was two. :-)

  2. What darling photos! It looks like they had an absolutely magical time! Love the idea of cousins jammies!

  3. You really are a wonderful grandmother. I love that you do so many things with them that are meant to celebrate their family life with their parents, as well as with you, if you know what I'm trying to say. I really like the movie night idea, she did a great job organizing it and it looks really fun. I hope you've had a lovely Christmas, J.

  4. Your first photo looks as if it were a Christmas card! The perfect tree by the perfect fireplace, the perfect CHRISTMAS MANTEL :) :) :) and the gifts reflected below.
    So much creativity here...I love the idea of the little ones nibbling on their food necklaces while snuggling and watching a Christmas movie and the finger puppet mice game while reading Twas a Night Before Christmas...that's a keeper. I hope to remember and do that for next year...just the sort of silly and fun game that children love.
    And the kids are just adorable in each and every picture. They get cuter every day : )

  5. Brilliant! So much fun and so special! I know you all must have had a truly wonderful Christmas. And I hope the New Year, for your entire family, is happy, healthy and holds more love than you can imagine.

  6. Gorgeous decorations - right out of BHG. And, the kids are so cute and those jammies are perfect. What a fun time everyone had. Memories to be enjoyed for years to come. Perfect holiday. Can't wait to see what 2014 holds for all those special cousins and their extraordinary grandma.

  7. Oh Grandma Joyce you have outdone yourself again! I just love those necklaces -- oh the sugar rush!!! I don't care if some of the photos are staged they are just wonderful. You just keep raising the bar of what a real Grandma is supposed to be! You really are wonderful! Merry Christmas!

  8. Wow- Adorable photos! I really like those mouse cups. That's something that the kids will look forward to & remember about Christmas. I think I may have to add that to my "Christmas 2014 tradition List".

    I love traditions. I just did a few posts pre-Christmas about traditions that keep to the 'true meaning' of Christmas. You may want to check them out for next year for your little grandchildren! I'm going to provide the links for you, in case you want to check them out:

    Shepherd Bags:

    The Star on the Shelf (A Christian Elf on the Shelf Alternative)

    HUGE Round up of Resources for a Jesse Tree

    Santa Key (Free printable poem)

    The Santa Sack Idea

    Printable 'Scratch off Donation' templates for Recruiting Family to Support a cause dear to your heart. :)


  9. What beautiful pictures! The tree and fireplace...looks like a cover of a magazine. So cozy and warm. What fun activities with your grandchildren. Love the mouse in the cocoa! What a beautiful holiday you had!

  10. Precious, precious photos. Your place looks lovely and your kiddos are adorable as always. Mice? I love your mice... in cups and otherwise. Such a warm and cozy post.

    Best to you and yours in 2014, Joyce!!

  11. Love all the fun! Keep it up grandma! xoxo Susie @Bowdabra

  12. WOW, just wow. If I were a better writer I could be more eloquent than that! :) But all of the wonderful, fun attention to detail really did wow me. Mice props for the story! Ceramic mugs with a surprise at the bottom! I adore the Dobson quote about traditions- traditions are important treasures to begin and continue. ♥

  13. Wow what a wonderful time you all must of had! I love the little bracelets and edible necklaces. Thanks for sharing at the Let's Get Social Sunday monthly link party. Hope you entered the Flash 48 hour Round Robin giveaway on our Facebook pages. 6 Prizes!

  14. I love the joy I see here in the pictures....happy happy!

  15. you are a Christmas angel-one who provides the best leftovers anyone wouldn't mind having everyday! XO

  16. What a beautiful photo of your tree and mantle. It looks so filled with the warmth you go on to talk about in your post. Lovely!

  17. I really do hope I get a chance to get back to Michigan before they get much older! They are so darned cute!

  18. You always have the most fun at your house. I wish I could sneak in and play, too. Love the mice...I'll check out that link! Thanks! Sweet hugs!