Monday, April 25, 2011

Christmas in May

Easter, or more correctly, Resurrection Day; the most important celebration day of the year for Christians, has come and gone.  The week or so before it saw a flurry of activity at the shop - from both "The Old Man in the Bib Overalls" and customers. Now that it is over and the dust has cleared, we move on to the next celebration, "Christmas in May".  This comes the first week in May.

As Laura wrote in "The Long Winter", the Ingalls family celebrated Christmas the first week in May when the trains started running again.  Here, in Mansfield, the trains are never stopped for the winter.  And, for that matter, nothing that is stocked in Laura's "Sweet Memories" comes off any of the trains.  But we celebrate in the shop, like the Ingalls family, to keep the legacy of Laura alive.

So, "The Old Man in the Bib Overalls" will be busy decorating the shop with Christmas decorations.  Christmas candies are available year around in the shop, so I will make sure the stock is up on those.  Last year the shop opened in May and it wasn't quite the time to have Christmas and a grand opening.  The celebration last year came in July.  Some folks thought the old man had lost it!  But, the Laura fans understood that Christmas was a special time for Laura.  She wrote about it in almost all her books.   Christmas was more than just the celebration of the birth of Jesus; it was a time when each family member showed their love for the others by making something special for them.  When they had funds they would buy something special, but usually they didn't have any extra money to do that.  And when they had the opportunity to share Christmas with friends, like the Boasts, they scraped together what they could to make everyone happy.

Our times, with the economic recession going on, are not as bad as the times experienced by the Ingalls family.  Comparatively, we have it pretty good!  But, how often do we throw a "Pity Party" for ourselves; and forget the blessings that we have all around us?  In this day and age most of us don't have to walk miles to get to a store or to school.  Most of us don't have to live on bread and milk alone, as they did.  And most of us don't walk around with holes in our shoes.

On the other side of that coin we find blessings that the Ingallses had that we seldom find in the 21st Century family - the great bond of love for one another.  It seems that the hustle and bustle of everyday life has taken up that time which had been set aside to appreciate "Family and Friends".  When is the last time you sat down to dinner with your family, let alone made something for each of them?

The time we spend doing for others is time well spent!

When is the last time you told a family member or a friend how much you cared for them?  And then, did you just say it, or did you show it? If you lost every thing that you owned would you still have something to show for your life?

At the beginning of April this year my Daffodils came out - nearly 300 of them!  But about three weeks later a hard spring rain came and destroyed the blossoms.  I had wanted to take some pictures of them to share before they died off, but I was too late.  Isn't life much the same?  One day we are enjoying our family and friends and the next day, they are gone all too soon.  We waste too much time on foolish endeavors and not enough time on those we love.  That is one of the reasons I have my shop - to share with others.  A trip to visit Rocky Ridge Farm makes a great experience to share with your family or friends.  And then to top it off, it is good to visit Laura's "Sweet Memories" and take home some of those memories in a bag.  I hope you'll be able to do that soon - it would be nice to see you!  You can find out more about my shop's location and business hours on the web site .

As I get older I find that memories are comforting - even those which aren't happy ones.  But I do prefer the happy ones!  I only wish I had made better choices and made more happy memories while I was young.  But it's not too late for you!

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Commitment & Life Lessons

This week a good friend of mine is making that big step from single life into marriage. (Hope she knows what she is doing!)  These days  I wonder if any young person gets the proper counsel needed.  Before I performed a marriage ceremony I would always ask the intended if they understood that it was a serious matter.  I wanted them to be certain that they knew it was a life long commitment and that it would be like a "bed of roses".  Even a bed of sweet smelling roses has hidden thorns!  If you lie down in a "bed of roses" you will eventually get hurt; and so is marriage.  But unlike lying on the roses; when you get hurt in marriage or go through hard times, you can't just jump up and run away!  These days we see that lack of commitment "For better or for worse" doesn't stand the test of time.  So now, more than ever, the person contemplating marriage should make sure of both party's commitment to a life long partnership.  The alternative lie spread these days is that you can just live together and not get married.  That's even easier to break than any marriage vow; and where does that leave you?

Marriage was ordained by God; and it is a covenant relationship between the man and the woman along with God.  You may have a divorce betwen people but you can't divorce God!  So it is best to stay single if you can't commit all the way.

I wish my friend and her new husband a very happy and life-long marriage - but hope that they will make that commitment even when times aren't happy.

You may ask, "What does this have to do with Laura's 'Sweet Memories'?"  Just this -
I've made a commitment to have a candy and souvenir shop and I'll do my best to make it a place where folks can go home with something special.  My commitment is based on my beliefs; and this shop is just some of the fruit grown from my beliefs.  Integrity is a virtue that shows up in every area of our life - either you have it or you don't!  If you'll read any of Laura's writings you'll find out about integrity and hard times in marriage.   She wrote knowing that she was teaching lessons to people young and old.  We can use her life's experiences to build upon.  Thanks, Laura!  The lessons are better learned while young; than a life wasted without learning them at all. But, better late than never!

"It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." 
"Let us make memories carefully of all good things, rejoicing in the wonderful truth that while we are laying up for ourselves the very sweetest and best of happy memories we are at the same time giving them to others." Laura Ingalls Wilder

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Easter - a time to enjoy candy!

Easter, or Resurrection Day, has long been associated with the giving and eating of candy.  The new movie, HOP, has given the candy industry a new lease on life and "Jelly Bellys" are always in stock here.
At this point you must visit Laura's "Sweet Memories" to experience and purchase - nothing is sold over the internet.  It's the experience that makes the shop the place to visit before or after a visit to Laura's home of Rocky Ridge Farm, just a mile away.

Our Easter Candies arrive the week of April10th - but it is a candy shop afterall - so you'll always find a great variety of candy throughout the year!

"The Old Man in the Bib Overalls" has been busy stocking all those unique candy items; especially those that are associated traditionally with Easter.
The stock of candy has doubled from last year.  And will probably continue to grow, if I don't run out of room to display it!  It is fun to work in a candy shop - not because of the candy, but because I get to see all those happy faces!  Some will tell you that candy isn't good for you!  But, if you don't have some self-indulgence, life is pretty flat!  And I, myself, can't leave the "Farmer Boy Fudge" alone!  I also enjoy the "Pa's Fiddle" chocolate piece.  And I like the Root Beer Barrels, too!  And ... well, I guess I stock a lot of my favorites as well as those everyone else enjoys!

I make my own greeting cards and have made some special ones for Easter. 

Laura didn't write much about their celebration of Easter.  But she did write a lot, and often, about Christmas.  That's why I stock Christmas candies year around!  And there will always be a "Christmas in May" celebration to honor her memories of the Christmas her family celebrated in "The Long Winter".  But that's coming next month.  Right now I'm busy working with E.B. to make up some Easter Baskets.  Working in this shop may be fun, but it's still work!  What do they say, "50% inspiration & 50% perspiration"? Do you have any Easter traditions in your family that involve candy?
It is my firm belief that every family has an interesting story; just like Laura's family had one.  But aren't you glad that she wrote hers?

If you are a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan and know others who might be interested in seeing what goes on in her hometown of Mansfield, please let them know about this blog.  Thanks.  Please come back and feel free to leave nice comments. :)