Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Stories

Which Christmas story to choose from? To be honest I can't because I love them all. So I am just going to list my favorite stories (not in any particular order) and why I remember them.

As a child growing up I remember my Mom and Dad reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore. They would read this to us on Christmas Eve before we went to bed. We would gather altogether on the couch vying to be close enough to help turn the pages. "Twas the Night Before Christmas is the story of how a man hears Santa and his reindeer flying in his sleigh towards his home while he is preparing to go to bed on Christmas Eve. After opening our family gifts on Christmas Eve my Mom would sit on the couch with my boys and read this book to them before I could take them home. It has now become a family tradition.

Another favorite Christmas story for me is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Dr Suess. It also happens to be my husband's all time favorite Christmas show along with "The Christmas Story" movie. It doesn't matter who old or young you are everyone loves the Grinch! 

Originally published in 1957, the story of the Grinch who lives in a cave above the town of Whoville. He is tired of the  Who's joyous Christmas celebrations and decides to stop Christmas from happening. He does this by disguising himself as Santa Claus and goes to Whoville and steals all the Christmas trees, ornaments and presents. 

As I understand it, Dr. Suess wrote this book because of the commercialism of Christmas which is true today as well.

Next on my list is "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry. I read this book in high school as part of study on the works of O. Henry, a pen name for William Sydney Porter, a native North Carolinian. 

"The Gift of the Magi" is a short story. Originally published in The New York Sunday World on December 10, 1905 and was originally titled "Gifts of the Magi". In 1906, O. Henry published a short story collection titled, Four Million and the title was changed to "The Gift of the Magi".  

It is a story about a couple who make personal sacrifices in order to buy each other a Christmas gift. For me the moral of this story is that love is truly a priceless gift.

These are a few of my favorite Christmas stories. When I searched for "magical Christmas stories" I found this list of "20 Magical Christmas Stories" at  Of the 20 books listed I have only read three. I also found a list of "20 Famous Christmas Stories" at 
I now have a list of books to buy and I am looking forward to starting a tradition of reading these Christmas stories to our sweet little grandson, Easton.


"20 Famous Christmas Stories" at

"20 Magical Christmas Stories" at
Image of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore,

Image of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess,

Image of "The Gift of the Maji" by O. Henry,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

I had originally planned to talk about the Christmas nativity scene and what it means to me and to share photos of my beautiful Christmas nativity scene made by my Aunt Barbara. However, as I went to the New Testament looking at both Matthew and Luke for a scripture to post regarding the birth of Jesus, I discovered that in both the Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:26-38 had passages with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. In reading both passages I discovered that Luke's passage also included a portion of Matthew's and I have decided to post Mathew's passage. I am using the New International Version (NIV) Bible because it is a more modern translation.

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 

3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, 

Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, 

4 Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 

5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse,

6 and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife, 

7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, 

8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehosaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, 

9 Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 

10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, 

11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exhile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 

13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, 

14 Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akin the father of Elihud, 

15 Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, 

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.

From Matthew Chapter 1, Verses 1-17, The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah.

I was able to download this free Genealogy Chart of Jesus Christ from the website, Amazing Bible Timeline with World History ( The chart depicts the lineage of Jesus Christ using both Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:26-38 and shows the individual lineage of Joseph and Mary.
There is a little known fact that one of the reasons why the search term "genealogy" spikes around Christmas is because so many people are looking up the Genealogy of Jesus. Thank you Thomas MacEntee for sharing that little fact with me as I did not know this.
Amazing Bible Timeline with World History
Amazing Bible Timeline with World History

Monday, December 15, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Tree Decorations

Every year since the mid to late 1970's my Aunt Barbara has been sending my family her very special Christmas ornaments. Aunt Barbara makes the most beautiful porcelain Christmas ornaments. She makes them in her home and lovingly paints each one and personalize's each with our names and the year we received the ornament.

In the pictures above are some of the beautiful bells I have received through the years. As you can see in the pictures some of the bells are glazed and some are not, they all have a gold cord, which I call her signature. All of them have different pictures on the front and back and all of them have either "Dawn" or "Dawn and Tommy" written on them and all of them have a date. 

Bells are not the only ornaments that my Aunt Barbara makes, take a look at these exquisite icicle ornaments that she has made too.

On the left are the Wisemen and on the right are the Angels. All of them with her signature gold cord's for hanging. The Wisemen carrying their gifts of gold, franincense and myrrh in their golden urns and boxes. The details in their facial features and their turbans are beautiful. The Angel icicle on the left is glazed but the other two are not. They have their golden halo's, their hands together in prayer. With the Wisemen, what should have been their robes flows into the icicle formation. With the Angels their robes cascade down into the icicle formation.

In the picture above are some of the other beautiful ornaments that my Aunt Barbara has made through the years for me and my children. All of them with her signature gold cord and her exquisite details in each piece. My tree decorations are mostly these cherished and lovingly made ornaments. The rest of my ornaments were either made by my children or ones I have picked because they compliment the ornaments my Aunt Barbara has made for me through the years. 

Thank you Aunt Barbara, for all of the beautiful and exquisite ornaments on my Christmas tree! I love you!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Santa Claus Christmas Decorations

Growing up Christmas decorations were a big deal in our house. My Mom decorated every space available and still does. During the year her hutch in the dining room holds tea cups and tea pots that belonged to her both of her grandmother's. At Christmas they come down and the spaces are filled with smaller nativity scenes, special ornaments hang from the knobs of the higher draws, and other smaller decorations of the season.

I believe the most treasured of the Christmas decorations in my Mom's possession is the Santa Claus that was hand painted by my grandfather, George K. Rueff. He painted Santa in 1941 for my Mom. On the back is the story of the painting, the date and it is signed by my grandfather. My Mom was four years old when Grandpa made this Santa.

 My Mom started all of us girls a Santa Claus collection of our very own about 20 years ago, maybe longer. I have probably 20 to 30 different Santa's. They are all different too. Some are musical, some light up, and some are ceramic while others are porcelain. They all hold memories of Christmases past and I look forward to the day when I can share their stories with our grandson, Easton. There are way to many to photograph so I picked just a couple to share.

This is my very first Santa Claus. I have had him for as long as I can remember. He is at least as old as I am and I am 52 years old. He lights up too! His right knee has melted from the light bulb that was originally used. A couple of years ago my husband Tommy put a small strand of LED white Christmas lights in him so that the plastic no longer gets hot as it once did. They just don't make Christmas decorations like this anymore. Hopefully this Santa light will last several more years so that I can pass him on to Easton.

The two tall Santa's represent a good portion of my collection. The Santa on the left to me represents an image of perhaps a Victorian era Santa. I also have some that remind more of St. Nicholas or perhaps Father Christmas with his mitered hat and incense burner.

The small one in the middle is glazed ceramic. It is a music box and plays "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". When the music is playing it rocks.

The Santa on the far right is more like a late 20th century Santa. He has over his right shoulder a bag of gifts that are wrapped.

Tomorrow I will share some of my favorite Christmas Ornaments.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Cookies

As children, my siblings and I would help my Mom with the baking of our Christmas cookies. We would make pfeffernussee "Rocks" cookies, lebkuchen cookies, springerle cookies, fennel cake cookies with lemon icing, sugar cookies, applesauce cookies, oatmeal cookies, cut-out cookies, peanut butter cookies, spritzer cookies and chocolate chip cookies just to name a few.

We all have our own favorites and when my Mom was baking that particular cookie, it was our time one on one with her. With five children getting one on one time with Mom was always special. We all helped with the cut-our cookies and the decorating of all of the cookies. We would also hand her the ingredients when she asked for them.

I am sharing two recipes today. The first one is our family recipe for Pfeffernusse cookies. When my children were little, they started calling this cookie, "rocks" and the name stuck. Both my son David and my husband Tommy consider them their personal favorites. The recipe is below.

The second recipe I am sharing is my own favorite Fennel Cakes. It is a recipe that my Mom found in the Miami Herald in the late 1960's or early 1970's. When I make them I use both the fennel and anise seeds combined.

If you decide to try them, I hope you enjoy them as much as my family does.

Copyright © Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014, All rights reserved.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Prelude to Christmas Cookies

I was searching for images of Christmas cookies and discovered little gem about Christmas cookies on I thought it would make a great prelude to sharing my memories and recipes of Christmas cookies tomorrow. It was posted by Edna Wakeham and you find it at

Copyright © Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014, All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas at Church

As a family we really did not participate in any Christmas programs, that would come later after my family moved from Florida to North Carolina. I believe that this is most likely because while we lived in Florida my siblings and I went to Catholic school at St. Bartholomew's Catholic Church (more about that in a later post).

We would go to Christmas Eve Mass at  St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Miramar, Florida. I remember the big Nativity scene that the Church would put up outside on the lawn. This Nativity, was huge to me! The manager was similar to what a manger should be with the walls, small windows and thatched like roof. All the people were done lifelike with so much detail to them. I remember the cradle would remain empty until Christmas day when the baby Jesus would then be placed in it.

Copyright © Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014, All rights reserved.

In the far left picture is Joseph kneeling and behind him wrapped in blue is a shepherd. In the top middle is the back of the manger. In the bottom middle is one of the wise men. The far right is of me and my sister with our Dad. As you can see there is either an ox or cow against the far manger wall and the angel. 

This is the one memory of Christmas at church that is foremost in my mind as little girl.

We belonged to Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church (OLG) once we moved to Greensboro, NC. My favorite Christmas memory of OLG is the Christmas music. I love listening to Christmas music at OLG. They have this magnicifent organ, known as The Jublilee Organ which was designed by Detlef Kleuker and has 2,226 pipes. It is called The Jubilee Organ because it was dedicated on the church's 25th anniversary. I remember when this organ was built, it seemed like it took forever to be installed! Below is a picture of this beautiful instrument.

This photo is courtesy of Brian Mullins Photography, Apex, North Carolina

Then there is the Children's Mass at OLG which began in the late 1970's. I know that my sister Susie was an angel in the Children's Mass one year. Then my children began participating in the Children's mass in the mid-1980's. David was always the drummer boy. When he aged out of the Christmas pagent he would then serve as an altar boy for the Children's Mass.

These are my favorite memories of Christmas at church.

Copyright © Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014, All rights reserved.