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Happy Anniversary, Baby

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Posted 10-12-2011 at 06:41 AM by Jeff Westover

October 12th, 1991, was the day My Merry Christmas was born. That also happened to be the day I got married.

Those two events go hand-in-hand for one reason: Aubree, my now-25 year old daughter.

We became a family that day. And almost immediately we started making plans for Christmas.

She presented to me a terrific challenge. For all of her short life she had celebrated Christmas one way: every Christmas Eve she spent at her grandparent's home in a sea of family. They ate, opened gifts and enjoyed each others company.

For all of my 28-years I had celebrated Christmas differently -- like a child. Every Christmas Eve we would stay home as a family and hang our stockings. We might see some family drop by and we might spend time with them on the phone. But our home was ground zero for Christmas and the action all happened within footsteps of my bedroom. Christmas meant that intimate family time together, reading the Christmas story from the Bible, and waiting for Santa Claus.

How did we bring these two Christmas worlds together in our blended family?

Well, that challenge was presented to me on Day #1 of married life as my new daughter, still in her own white wedding dress (I had to propose to her, too), threw down the gauntlet and insisted that Christmas would never change for her.

I knew Christmas would never be the same for any of us. That was only fair. And that's what next generations do -- they improve upon the Christmas of the past. But how?
It was a question I stewed about all that glorious fall season as we celebrated being a family. I even prayed about it. The issue concerned me because I knew that no matter what we did that first year (not just Christmas) we would be setting precedent for our family going forward. And I just didn't want to mess it up.

On a whim one sleepless morning, perhaps pining away for some Christmas cheer, I listened to some Christmas music I had not heard in a long time. And it put me in a mood. Without thinking I wrote a letter to Santa Claus -- pouring out my heart. In my mind this was a healthy exercise meant to help me think my way through a problem.

And it worked.

Within days the fax machine in my home office started to buzz with a response from Elf Ernest at the North Pole. And the rest, as you know, is history.

I look back on those fall days of 1991 with wonder now. How little do we realize at the time how the little things we do become the bigger things that define us.

In those golden days it was my fondest hope that I would be a good father to Aubree and her future siblings. It was my wish that I could be a strong husband for my dear bride. It was my hope that what I would eventually choose to do for a living would make me happy in one sense -- but would not define me, as I had seen careers so define other men. I wanted more than anything else to be worthy of it all.

Those grand things seem impossible when we face them as we just start out.

So here we are 20 years later -- sitting amongst a Christmas empire on this thing called the Internet. I have friends now I didn't have 20 years ago -- from all over the world. I've had experiences I could never have imagined back then -- and those experiences are unique to me and to this place.

20 years sounds like a lot and yet it seems like a mere flash of time. I didn't marry my wife "until death" -- I married her forever.

If I have another woman it is My Merry Christmas. As the years have turned so too has my attention come more and more this way. Back in the days when my children were quite small I would start updating MMC in early October -- right around our anniversary, in fact -- and by Thanksgivng I had done what I could do for the year. The email would roll in and I did my best to handle it.

But I had a job and lots of kids and who had time to do everything?

As we went from fax machine to website, from one site to two to twenty to now nearly forty websites dedicated to Christmas (where will the insanity end?), one constant has remained -like an immoveable marker set in stone: people.

From that first note I got from a worried parent who wanted to explain how Santa got around the world in one night I've had nothing but a steady stream of comments, questions, stories, and shared experiences of people from all over the world all related to Christmas.

It amazed me then, just as it amazes me now, how Christmas brings us together.
In my private life I am just that -- very private. In the course of my career I've had the opportunity through my writing on various topics to be before groups large and small. I've done radio and television and classes and Internet chats and conventions. None of those are things I like to do because, well, I'm a shy person. But Christmas is different. About that I can't be shy and about that I can't be worried about me. For whatever reason it just flows.

I've learned -- discovered, really -- that is just the way it is for many of us. As folks gather here and begin to share it bubbles up in the form of memories or even talents. I look on it now and causes me to marvel.

Take, for example, the case of Jay Isherwood. There was a time when a person like Jay and I could pass on a train platform or at an airport and never have a conversation. Different people from different worlds. But cast the element of Christmas between us and we become brothers. He's running a Christmas radio station these days for us -- and his only complaint, like my own, is that it isn't a 24-hour a day occupation.

Consider Michael Reilly, another Christmas brother. Here's a man whose love for Christmas goes back generations through the service of his grandfather. What a story! And what a tradition of Christmas that was so different from my own.

Or, Louanne Jeffries. She just a woman in Ohio banging away on her keyboard like bazillions of others out there in the world. But could you imagine Christmas here with us without her? What a dear soul.

I could go on and on: Maureen, Radio Jon D, AuntieMistletoeDear and so many others.

It has taken me 20 years to learn these Christmas lessons. And they are blessings that continue to grow and expand.

Thank you for all being a part of it.

On this day I would be remiss in failing to mention one more thing: my sweetheart and best friend, Sandy. Around these parts she is scarce and some have questioned me about that over the years. Truth be told, she's not much of a computer person. But even more she's occupied with the things that fulfill her -- namely, the kids and me.

She is my queen. Sandy works heart and soul, day and night, caring for us and seeing that our needs are met -- not through the wallet, but through the heart.

I cannot imagine life without her and for me life literally began when she said "yes" to my proposal of marriage. And what a ride it has been together.

Happy anniversary, MMC. And thank you for all you are!
Total Comments 6

Comments

  1. Old Comment
    [B][I]Dear Jeff -[/I][/B]
    [B][/B]
    [B][I]You have enhanced my life as well. Before MMC I was so much more lonely and sad. Because of you and your wonderful website and all the Christmas family here, I feel Christmas every single day I am here and I am not leaving !! You are all an integral part of me now and my Christmas soul. God truly blessed me when He led me to you and I am so thankful that He did.[/I][/B]
    [B][/B]
    [B][I]Happy Anniversary MMC and big [/I][/B]
    [B][/B]
    [B][I](((HUGS))) to you Jeff, your bride Sandy, your children and to all our Christmas family xo[/I][/B]
    Posted 10-12-2011 at 09:46 AM by caninemom3 caninemom3 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    GingerMel's Avatar
    That's very inspiring. Thanks Jeff.
    Posted 10-12-2011 at 10:01 AM by GingerMel GingerMel is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Meceka's Avatar
    God blessed me, too, when I found this site. Thank you, Jeff, for creating such a wonderful home for us!
    Posted 10-12-2011 at 03:39 PM by Meceka Meceka is offline
  4. Old Comment
    One Spoiled Brat's Avatar
    Happy Birthday My Merry Christmas...Happy Anniversary Jeff and Sandy...From deep within my heart I'd like to say a BIG thank you for this site, the family, the laughter, the tears, the sharing of memories, for being a part of my life...Each day I take a special time and thank God for the blessing you are to so many...Twenty years down and a lifetime to go...May God continue to bless you and the family as He always has...Merry CHRISTmas....
    Posted 10-12-2011 at 05:52 PM by One Spoiled Brat One Spoiled Brat is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Michael Rielly's Avatar
    Happy Birthday MMC! I look forward to the next 20!!!! Thanks for all that you do!
    Posted 10-17-2011 at 02:45 PM by Michael Rielly Michael Rielly is offline
  6. Old Comment
    JayIsh's Avatar
    I feel blessed to be part of this community! And consider Jeff, and all of you, real friends!
    Posted 12-01-2011 at 10:51 AM by JayIsh JayIsh is offline
 
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