Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How to Celebrate a Twenty-eighth Anniversary.

Fly to Seattle to play with your grand-babies (and their parents) 'cause you just can't see them often enough.

Have a lip-smackin' dinner at the Cheesecake Factory

with key lime cheesecake for dessert.

Happy Anniversary, Randy!
Each year just keeps getting better.
Love You!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Three Baby Dolls for My Three Baby Dolls

I spent much of November knitting these rag dolls for my littlest angels.  Jenni spotted the pattern in the knit shop at Gardner Village and gave it her "ooo's" and "aaaah's".  I was thrilled to find the book again at the public library and decided to take on the project.



Sunday, December 28, 2008

Greetings! Everyone!

I thought it might be fun to post the Christmas card images our family members chose to give this year.  Ours is first.  Probably the most significant event this year for Randy and me was the birth of three new granddaughters - Evylee Julienne, Sadie Jane, and Kylie Mae.  We decided to portray them as little angels nestled in the arms of their siblings.  

Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
--Jenny J. Crosby
Well, Audrey and Emily felt a bit left out, so last minute, they created a Greeting Card of their own.

Next is our daughter, Jenni's, card taken by Randy while she and her babes were here in October.  What a breeze!  We just let them have fun for a bit with this adorable result.

David and Katie selected their recent family portrait for their card.

And here is Michael, Desiree, and Evylee in their newest family portrait.
So -- Happy Holidays from the Collier Family!

In the Spirit of Giving

Audrey has friends who travel each Christmastime to South America to give humanitarian aid there.  She hopes to do this herself someday, but in the meantime...  She thought it would be neat to provide Christmas for a family in need here in the Salt Lake Valley.    In her sweet way, she asked Emily, Randy, and I if we would like to participate by purchasing "Christmas" to give away rather than for each other.  Audrey contacted Inner-City missionaries from our ward who suggested a refugee family from Bhutan (which is located at the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains -- I had to look it up.)

For family home evening the Monday before Christmas, we went shopping and had a great time finding new clothes and new watches for the entire family.  The girls (and Clint) boxed them, and wrapped them, and tied them with bows.
We dawned our Christmas hats and drove downtown to meet Ganga (dad), Khina (mother), and Pabi (19-year-old daughter). Sons, Bishnu and Hem were away, but another brother, his wife, and baby had just arrived from Bhutan.  The young adult children spoke only a little English the mother and dad, not an ounce.  They invited us into their small, but very clean apartment.  They brought us plates of fresh fruit and warm, sweet rice milk, and entertained us with their music.
Sorry about the dark video.  Not enough light in the apartment; but this will give you a feel for their music. This instrument had four strings, pegs, a bridge, and was played with a rosined bow (with bells on the tip.) Sounds a lot like a violin, right? Audrey and I gave it a try. Hmmm... Not really much like a violin at all -- as we soon found out.

The family told us of their village in Bhutan.  Last July it had entirely gone up in flames destroying the belongings and homes of over 1400 people. They had very little to begin with, but after this, they had nothing -- except each other.

Tonight we supposedly gave our Christmas away, but we received so much in return.  I left this good family's home feeling very grateful, and filled with a "glow" after experiencing the sweet appreciation and giving spirit of this humble family.

 "Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things." -- President Thomas S. Monson

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pomegranates, Pitas, and a Christmas Pageant

"A Night in Bethlehem" is a favorite family tradition in our home.  Yes, it was a bit too fancy to be authentically ancient, but I just acquired new Christmas dishes and I just HAD to use them. The third Sunday of each month has an honored spot as Family Sunday.  The kids would be going their separate ways after today. We were all together with the exception of Jenni, Mark, and their babies... we felt incomplete...  Lucky for Randy and me, we will be flying there in a week! 
Our meal is at least Mediterranean and homemade grape juice is served.
The handsome fellow sitting next to Emily is her friend, Clint Jarvis from Idaho.
He had a way of making Kylie smile!
Give me a kiss!

The story of Christ's birth is retold in a family pageant.
And it came to pass... that there went out a decree... And Joseph went...into Judea...with Mary.
And she brought forth her firstborn son... and laid him in a manger; because there was no room in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them... and they were sore afraid.
"Fear not:  for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy."
(Yes, we got the giggles!)
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Rejoice and Be Merry - A Party with the Prophet

Each year in December, the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square celebrate with a memorable Christmas Party at the Grand America.  Always an amazingly delicious dinner -- good entertainment too.  Over 500 members attend, each with a guest of his/her choice. 

I spent the day sewing a new skirt for the occasion, but when I saw Audrey and Emily all dressed up in their festive red and black, I changed my mind and dug out my Christmas red dress.  I will save my new skirt for another occasion.  I couldn't be left out, you know.  
Audrey has chosen her sister as her guest for the past two years; I of course, have taken my sweetheart.

It is great to be in the presence of the prophet and to hear him speak.
He and others thank us for our service and sacrifice as members of the choir and orchestra. How can it truly be a sacrifice when this is such a blessing and joy?  Another highlight occurs at the end of the evening when we all join in singing "Silent Night".  This gathering produces a pretty awesome sound if I may say so myself.

The Carols of Christmastime

Music is well said
to be the speech of angels.
--Thomas Carlyle

It is certain that Christmas and music go hand in hand.  It would be strange to experience one without the other.  Yes, my days have been more than busy, but hopefully this effort has brought smiles to faces and joy to hearts

First Presidency Devotional 
This event involved a very reduced Orchestra at Temple Square because of the necessity to fit us up by the choir.  Audrey was thrilled to have been selected to join me for this world-wide broadcast for the second year in a row.  It is this event, first thing in the month of December, that helps me feel, "Yes, Christmas can come now."  It is fun to realize that members all over the world are coming together to listen to the words of prophets of God, all of us under the same bright star.

A Kurt Bestor Christmas
And on to the bit more secular...  But still enjoyable!  This year marked Kurt's 20th year of Christmas concerts at Abravanel Hall, twelve or so of which I have played.  I'm not certain just how many more years I will be asked to perform; I think Kurt likes "young ones" on his stage. No matter how old I am, though, Kurt will be slightly older!  grin.

Christmas Bells
Choices, choices.  This year the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square Christmas Concert conflicted with Kurt's Concerts.  I'm so torn and disappointed when this happens.  One pays blessings, the other pays "dough." I went for the dough and really missed out on four amazing performances at a filled Conference Center.  What a wonderful free gift to the community.  So, while I was performing Kurt's Concerts, Audrey was a block away performing with the Choir.  Randy and I attended on Sunday morning to hear her.  I cried the whole way through.  Wish I could have played both... Maybe next year.
Audrey with Meredith, Kathy, and Emily

Larry Miller Christmas Carol Sing-a-Long
Kathryn with stand partner, Aubrey

Located at Energy Solutions Arena, this event is free to the public.  This year Larry Miller furnished free hot dogs, drink, ticket to a Bees Game, free popcorn at the Megaplex Theater, and a free ticket to the 2009 Nascar Race.  Live links to troops in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afganistan, aloud families to sing with their loved ones serving there.  A very emotional Larry Miller spoke to his gathering about his love of Christmas, music, people.  He was just recently released from a 2-month stay in the hospital after a very severe heart attack, and kidney failure.  It is apparent that he feels very blessed to be alive.