Posted by: bree1972 | December 22, 2011

As the Angels Give 12/23/2011

Whoops!  Forgot to say that I’ll be taking a little blog vacation during the holidays.  We’ll be traveling some, so the next Lake Blackshear blog will be Monday, January 2.  Please have a fun and safe New Year’s Eve, and I hope your holidays have been wonderful and filled with only good things.  I can’t wait to start a new year of blogging!  Love ya’ll!


If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.  George MacDonald

In December of 2009, after our second summer on the Island, I wrote about a gift Jane Kemp from Minnesota (a blog fan) had created for her mom for Christmas.  Jane and her mom loved Mackinac Island and visited as much as possible.  In an email from Jane that year, she explained:  “When I read you might publish a book from the blog, I thought, ‘I’ll make a blog book myself, and give it to mom for Christmas.‘”  Jane printed out page after page of blog stories and photographs and compiled it into a spiral notebook, with pictures of geraniums on the front cover.  She entitled it, “Mackinac Island Living Through Bree’s Blog….as blogged by Brenda Horton.”

Jane emailed this photo of the blog book to me in 2009.

In the spring of 2010, when I was facing surgery, I received a scrapbook Jane created especially for me.  It is beautiful and filled with photos from the blog and little snippets of what I’ve written over the years.

Jane’s note with the scrapbook read:  “Hi Bree. Hope this finds it’s way to you, and that I got the correct address . . Bear did say he lived on Flintside Drive, and I only found one Horton on Lake Blackshear!  As soon as you said you were having surgery, I had this idea . . for a little memory book to peek at while you make your recovery.  I hope you and Ted enjoy it – as you begin to make plans for another trip to the island.  Your friend in Minnesota, Jane.” 

I love this book, and it travels back and forth with us to Michigan every summer so I can share it with others.

Last week, tired and grouchy from battling traffic and other shoppers in Albany, I was sitting on the den sofa feeling pretty sorry for myself.  I couldn’t seem to find any kind of Christmas spirit this year.  Even though I had lobbied for a small tree, every time I looked at it – bare underneath at that time – I wanted to cry.  “Where is my joy?” I asked myself.  Of course, I knew one of the problems.  Christmas is always a time when I miss my parents the most.  I miss daddy’s fun-loving spirit and mama’s quiet smiles.  I miss walking into their house on Washington Street in Sylvester and smelling all the Christmas fixin’s – my mom’s dressing and sweet potato souffle’ and ambrosia.  I miss watching daddy carve the Christmas hen – yes, that means “chicken” (mom always claimed she didn’t know how to bake a turkey).   To say I was throwing myself quite a pity-party is an understatement.

It was then that Ted walked out to the mailbox (probably to get away from my grouchiness).

When he returned, he said, “You have a package from Jane in Minnesota.  Were you expecting something from her?”

Puzzled, I said, “No. In fact, I haven’t heard from Jane much this year.  What in the world could it be?”

I opened the card on the outside of the package.  It read in part:  “Hello Bree, and Merry Christmas to you and Ted from your blog follower – Jane in Minnesota!  I have been lax about leaving comments but have been a faithful reader – even tho my world has been turned upside down.  I lost my dear mom back in May.  Like you – I am an only child, blessed with loving parents.  She was my best girlfriend as well as ‘mom’; I miss her terribly!  Have been taking care of my dad – after 59+ years of marriage with mom, it’s been a big adjustment for him.  Anyhow – you may recall I had shared with you of my creating a ‘book’ of some of your earlier blog posts and other info on Mackinac Island (and Lake Blackshear too!) and giving it to her for Christmas as a gift.  She loved it and got much enjoyment out of reading your stories about our favorite island.  I know she would love you to have the book . . . I hope you get a kick out of reading your words – ‘book’ style!  Merry Christmas, Bree!”

Within the beautifully wrapped package was the book Jane created for her mom.  There is no way I can explain what seeing it meant to me.  The time Jane put into the development of her mom’s gift is a testament of her love for her ‘best girlfriend’. The book is over 150 pages and filled with copied photos, entire blog posts, comments from readers – including most of the comments and emails by Jane to me and my comments and emails back to her.  There’s also a section of blogs from the lake and posts from other Mackinac bloggers.

What a cherished gift – one that will travel with us, along with Jane’s scrapbook, to Michigan each summer.  Reading through it brought such wonderful memories – of times with friends, times in the quiet solitude of the Mackinac woods, time standing on the shores of Lake Huron and thanking God for the blessed life we have.

I’ve always believed in the adage “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”  But on that day last week, sitting on the sofa in our den, holding Jane’s love-filled gift to her mom – now passed on to me – I was blessed to receive not only her book, but my Christmas spirit as well.  I know God will bless Jane – who gives as the angels give.


The shopping is done.  The gifts are covered in holiday paper, tied with pretty ribbon, and they wait beneath our tree for Sunday morning’s hustle and bustle.  It will just be Ted, Blake and I to open presents on Christmas Day, but that’s ok.  Having our children or grandchildren with us is always a time of celebration, even if they come one at a time!  Jason and Blair will be coming in the day after Christmas, and later in the week we will leave for Florida to celebrate with Julie, Matt and the grandchildren.  That’s the “sunny and warm” trip I mentioned on Monday.  The “snowy and cold” trip will be in January, when we’ll fly out to visit Blake in Colorado.  We’ll stay in Ft. Collins a couple of nights, then drive with him to Beaver Creek, CO (near Vail) to spend two nights there at a ski resort.  We’re hoping for tons of snow, but no blizzards to change our travel plans.  We are so excited about both trips, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

I pray your Christmas Day is filled with everything joyful – family, friends, good food and special gifts.  And perhaps, sometime during the day, there might be a quiet moment when all your folks can gather together and read the greatest Christmas story ever written.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David.

To be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

We Wish You a Very Merry Christmas!

In Christian love,

Brenda, Ted, Maddie & Bear



  1. From Northern Indiana I send warm wishes for a Merry Christmas to you, Bree, Ted, Bear and Maddie. Enjoy the time with your family. Thanks for giving me the gift your blog. I look forward to it every day.

  2. What a wonderful, generous, heart warming gift Jane sent.
    You truely are an angel Jane. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sure your mom must have loved that book as much as you enjoyed making it for her.To now share that book with Brenda shows what a beautiful heart you have.

    Merry Christmas Brenda, Ted, Maddie, Bear and to all the wonderful blog readers. Have a blessed holiday!

    • Thank you, Hilde, and certainly I wish you the same.

  3. Ditto what Hilde said, plus a special thought for Jane. What a lovely, generous gift she gave – both times.

    Hold everyone close, whether in person or in thought, and a very Merry Christmas to you, too.

  4. Merry Christ-mas to you and yours also and I will keep you in my prayers for safe and happy traveling back and forth during the holiday season.

  5. Brenda,

    What a wonderful, sacrificial gift, one to be treasured as the years go by. I enjoy giving, but I don’t know if I could have done that. Jane, you must be an amazing person.

    My wish is for everyone to have the best Christmas season ever, as you spend time with family and friends.

  6. What a lovely, lovely gift! I wish you and your family and all of the Bree’s blog family a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years. Safe travels to everyone who is venturing away from home and I hope Santa is good to all of us!

  7. Missing the Christmas spirit this year seems to be going around. I hear it a lot from friends and clients. I find myself missing my mother (we lost her in Jan of 09) more and more each Christmas. I am thinking about making fudge just like she did, even though I still have some in my freezer from the Island. 🙂 Just remember that our loved ones are always with us, and someone greater then us is giving them their Christmas hugs in our place. Enjoy your gift from Jane from MN, and I hope you have a blessed Christmas.

  8. What a truly remarkable gift you received from Jane. I was misty when I read your blog about the book that Jane had made for her Mother. It was such a labor of love to compile the pages and I’m sure her Mother treasured this gift above all others. I’m so sorry about Jane losing her beautiful mother this year but what an incredible gift to give you for Christmas. Today we peeked into Jane’s family and saw the love….thank you, Jane and thank you, Brenda. Merry Christmas to all of you.

  9. Merry Christmas back to you Brenda. Gifts of love arrive in all kinds of packages. My son has made a movie with videos and stills from several of our last trips to the Island, including some of your pictures. I can’t wait to see it.

    • Awwww . . . what fun!

  10. What a lovely generous thing for Jane to do, in the midst of her sadness. People are so good, aren’t they! Have a wonderful holiday with your family Bree. And hugs to Jane as well.

  11. Happy Belated Merry Christmas to two of my dear friends…..What a friend you have in Jane….I am serious about coming to see you two this spring….Love always

    • Just name the time, Diane! You are always welcome!

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