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Reflections of All Grandma Wanted For Christmas Was

I originally posted this two years ago. Since then I’ve learned a lot more about these individuals—especially my grandma and dad! I love them so much more! I’ve decided this is one of my all-time favorite Christmas stories. It’s unique and yet has parallels to the first Christmas.

(And if you want the movie rights, leave a comment, and I’ll put you in contact with my dad.)

All Grandma Wanted For Christmas Was…

Christmas of ’76 was memorable for my dad and his family.

Just a few days before that Christmas, my grandpa wrote:

 December 22, 1976 – Geraldine had the operation in the St. John’s Hospital. All went well. We all visited her except John – under 14 not admitted to the hospital…

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My dad tells it to me:

Grandma had to have some surgery, and elected to do it during the holidays because she felt that she would get better service – on account of so many patients wanting to be out of the hospital for Christmas. Gerald and Cathy felt the children should all band together and pay for the operation.  I was going to optometry school at that time and didn’t have a penny to my name.  My 3 youngest siblings were likewise poor. 

So Gerald and Cathy, and also Yvonne and Bill, contributed the lion share of the bill.  They paid it ahead of when Grandpa went down to see how much he owed for the operation and hospital care. 

 I wondered what I could do to help my mom? I hoped that there might be something that I could do for her, as I loved her as much as anyone else. I went up to see her and to try and figure out what that special something could be that I could give. I said to Grandma, “Mom—What would you really like for Christmas?”

 Grandma astonished me with her answer.

” I want to see your little brother”.

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 That might be impossible. My little brother, John, was not old enough (according to the posted signs) to enter the hospital.  The hospital was guarded on the front steps by an armed guard. Gun at his side.

 As I prayed and pondered I remembered the time a few years before when I had dressed up like Santa when the youth of our ward went Christmas caroling. I thought, I could do that again and maybe – just maybe – I could get John in, if he was dressed up like an elf.

 I asked my sisters, Beth and Joyce,if they could help me with John’s costume. I would need green tights and green everything for John. They assured me that they could furnish the costume. I asked John if he was willing to go along with the idea, explaining that there was a chance that it might not work and that we could be severely reprimanded by the guard or hospital authorities. John said he was willing to give it a try.

So John and I got all dressed up – I as Santa Claus and John as an elf. We went up to the hospital entrance. The guard spotted us coming.

 “Well, what have we here? Santa and his helper! Right this way!”

 It was hard to get up to Grandma’s room. When I dressed up like Santa before, I just ran around with the other youth in the ward singing Christmas carols. People seemed to think it was cute that Santa was along. I had not anticipated this time that so many patients would want to say hi to Santa or to tell him that they had been good.  It was a treat for Santa to be where they were in the hospital.

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Eventually our family – including John and I in costume -made our way up to Grandma’s room. Grandma seemed to be resigned to her circumstances, and comforted by the fact that she was indeed getting find treatment. You should have seen the look on her face when she saw us, and spotted John – she was overjoyed! We had a nice visit that day. 

“You brought me the best thing ever!”    

John and I walked away with a feeling that I will never forget.

 To this day that is one of my most memorable Christmases.

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 My Grandpa’s Diary Entry for that Christmas:

December 25, 1976.

All gathered around the Christmas tree at 8:00 am, except Geraldine who was still in St. John’s Hospital. We all opened the presents. We had a wonderful Christmas time.

Cathy Lynn prepared the Christmas dinner. It was truly a banquet. We had lots of leftovers.

At 2 pm we all went to the hospital to see Geraldine. Douglas dressed as Santa in the Ward’s Santa Claus suit, and John was made up as an Elf. We put all her presents in Santa’s bag- she was really surprised to see us. We spent about an hour at the hospital. On the way out of the hospital Douglas and John made several stops to see children both young and old to wish them a Merry Christmas.

 We all felt at the end of the day it had been the best Christmas we had ever had, even though Gerri was in the hospital. We begin to see that even during trying times we are able to have very choice experiences and good times. The Lord truly has been good to us. He has blessed us in so very many ways. But best of all he has blessed us with each other.

A better family I could not be part of, they are really great.

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The Pretty New Girl

Some of the “obstacles” Grandma—or Geri—faced growing up was constantly moving and her younger sister. Geri was more proper, and her little sister was more laid back. A memorable experience was when Geri was called to the school office once. It turned out it was because her little sister was going by the name, “Honey.” Was that actually true? The school officials wanted to know. “No, her name’s not ‘Honey,” said Geri. Her sister said Honey was her name because, “That’s what everyone at home calls me.” Little sister hadn’t meant to embarrass Geri.

It would have been tough switching schools so often. Grandma was involved with school activities. One icebreaker seemed to be band.

A member of the band

A member of the band

She was a clarinet player. I call her the “pretty new girl.”I could picture students saying, “Have you met the new girl?” “Her name’s Geri Evans.”

The prettiest girl at every school

The prettiest girl at every school

This was backed up by Grandma herself when I told her how pretty she is in her pictures. She smiled and said people often told her that when she was growing up. She then told me she went to the movies with a boy in fourth grade. My jaw dropped. According to her and my mom, the church didn’t have strict rules about dating. But still, I was in shock. “Grandma!”

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Children, Courage, and Voting Your Conscience

I work at a school. I evade political conversations but listen to them if students engage in the subject. A student looked me in the eye and said, “Well I don’t want Trump. Trump is bad.” She looked down, made sure her shoe was on all the way, and then looked up. “But Hillary’s done some bad things…”

At that moment, there was a certain peace. I was assured I had done the right thing. The subject changed to something else, but I wonder if this student would be proud of my McMullin vote.

Children remind me of what I stand for. I voted my conscience. Many will say when it comes to voting, it’s more important to vote strategy. But it isn’t about that. Voting is about your choice—not a party’s or majority’s choice. Voting your conscience tells you what you stand for and don’t stand for. What you want to be.

I hope I showed courage like the American heroes today’s children are learning about. Those heroes that took a stand when they were in a minority.

I strive to be honest, true, and virtuous. I’m not perfect, but sometimes when I make choices, I think of my nieces and nephews. What type of example am I setting for them?

I hope posterity will view Sarah Patten as someone who chose to do the right thing even if it wasn’t popular. I hope they see that my beliefs reached to all aspects of my life—including voting.

 

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Whatever Happened to My Vote?

Whatever Happened to My Vote?

(Put together by Sarah Patten—inspired by “Whatever Happened to My Part” from the musical Spamalot and the 2016’s presidential election)

Whatever happened to my vote?
It counted and was worth to note.
Now the election is soon
And I don’t know what to do.
Third parties are stringing me along
As the debates go on and on
This is one unhappy voter
The race is getting grosser
Here’s a soul searching poem in my post
Whatever happened to my vote?

I am sick from what I read
What I see on the TV
What I hear on podcasts and Nancy.
The Democrats are still corrupt
Republicans will self-destruct
Do we think a Ross Perot should lead?
Ross Perot!

Whatever happened to my voice?
Once I could choose
Now there’s no choice
We’re with a pervert and a crook
Who are polluting Facebook
We might as well elect a dog
At least I’d follow Fido’s blog
If you think that sounds bitter
Just go and look at Twitter
The true and lying tweets give me a headache.

Whatever happened to my—
—I’ll get a passport, Sammy!

Whatever happened to my—
Not Trump!
Not Hillary!
But my vote!

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My Angel

Who said angels have to be people?

This post is dedicated to Angel on her birthday.

 An Unexpected Gift

Christmas Eve day in 2004 was a very special day. I was slow getting ready, and I believe I was staring at the Christmas tree when the phone rang. My older brother answered it and then quickly hung up.

“There’s a lab at Save Mart who needs a new home!”

With that, my family and I went from lazy to rushing to meet up with my mom.

When my family met up with Mom, she was with a mother and two little girls holding a black puppy.

A puppy?

I wanted a young adult dog. But my expectations changed as we took turns holding her.

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My family outside of Save Mart with our new “edition.”

We quickly found out she was named after her mother Angel. She was most likely part Labrador Retriever and Australian Shepherd. She had been born September 22. My family had fallen in love. Mom paid the previous owners, and we carried a very scared puppy home.

Angel hardly moved, wouldn’t eat, and ignored us when we got home. We had her rest in my  brothers’ room. I was in the hall trying to get her out. I gently talked to her. She would start approaching me and then go back in the room. Then she finally came and curled up in my lap.

Best Friend

Angel’s eyes show compassion when she knows you’re sad, and so she sits with you. She use to jump around when she could tell you were happy. She prefers sitting down now and wagging her tail. My dogs have always tried to make people happy.

As I mentioned before, Angel was very shy when we were brought her home. Her shyness was one of the probable reasons why she was the last pup of the litter to find a home. I had just returned from school and taking the winter off. Most of my friends were out of town going to college, and my family had their busy lives. I worked some, but I was basically alone. I think that’s why Angel and I became so close.

Angel’s Other Friends

Though socially awkward, Angel had a chance friendship with two dogs behind our yard. People love to see her. She’s come out of her shell. One person who broke through to her was a five-year-old girl. She’s thirteen now and is kind of like a second owner to Angel and my other dog. Angels also loves the girl’s little sister. Angel opens up more quickly to people she senses have gentle souls. She especially adores little children and babies.

Angel has aged quite a bit now. I don’t know how long she has to live. But she has had a good life. One individual that kept Angel going and probably preserved her life is our very energetic Australian Shepherd, Zane. He makes sure she gets plenty of exercise!

And of course, my parents. Angel has a harder time being around men, but she loves my dad. Angel really loves my mom.

I’m not there to take care of Angel, but I can rely on my mom to take care of the dogs.

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My mom shows so much love to the dogs.

And that is not always easy. The dogs are mischievous and have a new—and delicious— diet because of Angel’s special needs.

Angel easily makes me happy. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but I believe Angel was sent from above.

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Happy birthday, Angel!

 

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The Princess, the King, and the Tyrant

It’s strange to start out with the moral at the beginning of the story, but that’s exactly what I’m going to tell you. No, Maximilien Robespierre will tell you:

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Maximilien Robespierre was a well-spoken leader who led with terror.

 

“Citizens, take warning; you are being fooled by false notions.”

Those words are taken from an address to justify the execution of Louis XVI.

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King Louis XVI of France wanted peace.

It also sums up what others would feel toward Robespierre as time went on. Basically, it leads to the question: What is truth?

Maximilien Robespierre had pushed for Louis XVI’s execution but wasn’t for Princess Elisabeth’s, the King’s sister.

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Princess Elisabeth of France. The King’s youngest sibling.

Yet, she was executed May 10, 1794. And a couple months later, Robespierre would be executed.

The lives of the Princess, the King, and the Tyrant were connected way before the French Revolution.

Losses

An important place to start is the year of 1764. It was important to both the Robespierre and the Bourbon families.

In May, Maximilien Robespierre turned six, and the royal Bourbons welcomed a baby princess.

In July, Robespierre’s mother gave birth—to a stillborn son. She died soon after. Robespierre’s sister recalled in her memoirs this death changed him. He lost his childhood. In addition to that, his father left the family. The man who was supposed to be one of the most important  role models in a young boy’s life distanced himself from his children. I consider this to be Robespierre’s first major rejection.

The Bourbon children lost their parents to death within three years of Princess Elisabeth’s birth.

Successes

Despite losing parents young, Louis, Elisabeth, and Robespierre were all very intelligent and accomplished individuals. Just to mention some examples: Louis excelled in languages; Elisabeth in mathematics; Robespierre in rhetoric. All three wanted to be models of virtue. The Bourbon children took a religious approach while Robespierre leaned on secular philosophies.

Elisabeth carried a certain charm from her earliest days. Despite being a wild child, Elisabeth grew up to be lovely and known for her piety and wit. There were three proposed marriages, but in the end, she and her brother, now King, agreed that she would stay with the family.

Sometime early in Louis’ reign, he and his wife stopped by the school Robespierre attended. In fact, Robespierre was handpicked to give a speech in Latin at the special ceremony for the King and Queen. It turned out to be a dismal day. It was rainy, the monarchs were running late, and when they did arrive, they stayed in their carriage for the speech and ceremony. They left promptly after the ceremony. Robespierre had just been rejected by high society.

Life’s not fair! Right, Robespierre?

But Robespierre was a bright student and would eventually move up his way into politics after completing school. He started on a small scale during the king’s early reign. Louis and Marie-Antoinette had more of a positive image then.

To someone like Robespierre, it probably seemed as if the King had everything. Besides not agreeing with the King’s politics, I think there were other things that Robespierre  would find bothersome about the King. Louis XVI had obtained power through family deaths. He had a beautiful family, and he had a live sibling born in 1764. The King got a free pass while Robespierre slaved away to get to the top.

Annoying Sister

Elisabeth annoyed her sister-in-law at times. She could surprise her brother. But there was never any doubt that these individuals cared for one another, and that the King and Queen would be eternally grateful to Elisabeth for staying with the family to the very end.

Elisabeth felt she was following God’s plan for her. She was heaven sent in the eyes of Louis and his family.

She was certainly a type of nuisance for Robespierre. If only she had escaped like some of her other family members, he wouldn’t have been caught in a desperate situation.  He fought for her at her trial. But he lost. He just wanted her to be exiled, not guillotined.

People marveled at her poise during her trial and execution.

She had just turned thirty the week before she was executed in May 1794.

Fooled by False Notions

More and more people considered themselves “fooled by false notions.” The new government had stressed equality and virtue— so why were so many being punished and put to death?

Robespierre and his comrades became distrustful of one another. They too felt they had been fooled. They weren’t as loyal as they professed they would be. He had helped to reform this new society, and now he and former allies were betraying each other. This was  Robespierre’s third and final rejection.

Robespierre was executed in July 1794. Had his stillborn brother lived, he would have turned thirty a few weeks before—the same age as Elisabeth, who had met her death in her birthday month of May for being loyal to family. An eerie coincidence.

While I don’t accept that Robespierre is scapegoat of history, I do feel sorry for him. He had all these ambitions and felt that to fulfill them, he needed to take away life. In the end, the curse he set on so many rebounded on him.

 

Sources:

Maxwell-Scott Mary Moniac. Madame Elizabeth de France, 1764-1794.

Robespierre, Charlotte. Charlotte Robespierre’s Memoirs: Part 1.By   http://revolution-fr.livejournal.com/2370.html  accessed August 16, 2016.

Ten Brink, Jan. Robespierre and the Red Terror. 1899.

Trail and Execution (French): de Beauchesne, Alicide-Hyacint

Images:
Princess Elisabeth of France by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (Public domain in U.S.) 1782

Portrait of Louis XVI by Antoine-Francois Callet. 1788 (Public Domain in U.S.)

Portrait of Maximilien Robespierre. 1790 (Public Domain in U.S.)

 

 

 

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Review of Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars

Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars: Her Life, Her Times, Her Legacy by Elena Maria Vidal left me a lot to think about. 

Elena Maria Vidal is a fantastic writer and researcher. She paints a realistic portrait of Marie-Antoinette with facts to back all of it up. It’s very exciting. This book is spiritual, adventurous, and sweet.

I was especially surprised to learn about two specific pieces of unique artwork. It was fun to find out that Louis XVI kept a certain, flirty picture of Marie-Antoinette on his desk in which she’s dressed like a goddess holding a vase with his profile on it. The other one was a tearjerker sketch of Marie-Antoinette entering heaven to her welcoming husband and her two children who died before her.

One of the most memorable scenes comes from a memoir of a servant who witnessed Louis XVI coming into Marie-Antoinette’s room. While he’s being comforted by his wife, she commands the servant to leave.

From other examples, it’s obvious he suffered from depression, but with all the exterior events and past memories, who could blame him? And shouldn’t Marie-Antoinette get the most dedicated wife award? She stuck with him despite the multiple times he wanted her and their children to go to safety.

The spouses gave each other strength and were concerned parents. After their deaths, their daughter was provided for thanks to Louis’ emergency fund and Marie-Antoinette’s diamonds that had been sneaked out of France.

Thank you, Ms. Vidal, for providing so much information that makes me want to learn more!

 

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The Return of the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast

Being three decades old, I know it’s hard when people give advice freely—especially about marriage. There was a recent meeting/discussion about the topic. I liked what was said, but it made me think of two past posts I wrote. I hope those in the discussion will read this as well as those who contacted me right after I posted those articles! New readers of course are always welcomed.

Last year, I compared myself to the (non-Disney) Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beauty. In the Little Mermaid post I told how I related to the little sea princess mainly because past hopes and heartbreaks. I would also like to add the reason I have a problem with the story is she died after that heartbreak. That’s an easy way out. It’s harder but to live. That’s where my comparisons with her stop.

As for Beauty and for the Beast, it was about how I fell in love with myself by coming to the realization I have surprising accomplishments. (They’re surprising to me anyway.) And how it’s important to live.

The thing is, I still am connected with all these fairy tale characters.

Like the Little Mermaid, I have a fascination with discoveries and sometimes wonder too much. There are times I wish I could be more like her—take risks. Yes, caution is necessary but I think there are situations when it’s appropriate to step into the unknown.

As for Beauty and the Beast, I still see the beauty and ugly in me. I’ll never forget the night when I came to the unexpected conclusion that I loved myself. I’m telling you, it’s a wonderful experience falling in love—even if it is with yourself.

I guess I have no real advice about finding the one—which can be refreshing. Hopefully, though, my story will help others.

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The Extraordinary Mark Twain According to Susy

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I got this from a school book fair. $5 was the final and fair price.

The Extraordinary Mark Twain According to Susy, by Barabar Kerley and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, had a creative narrative and brilliant illustrations with little inserts of what Susy, the real life daughter of Mark Twain had to say about him.

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Funnily enough, a couple years ago, my dad said we should write short biographies of each other! Susy ended up writing over 130 pages about her dad!

In regards to Susy herself, I think it’s very appropriate and entertaining to write your own family member’s biography—especially in their life time so they can get more of a say. Susy wrote when she was thirteen, “It troubles me to have so few people know Papa, I mean really know him.” She made a good case for her papa and added unknown dimensions of him. From her portrait of him, I still saw a narcissistic man, but I felt more sympathy with how insecure and just how loving he was.

While I like what all the creators of the book did, I found my mind wandering, and it was hard to concentrate. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I recommend that classrooms should get their own copy.

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20 Questions with Sarah

Thank you to all my readers who continue to show interest in Her Storyline. I think it’s time that I answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

  1. What made you want to start up this website?
    Women are often misrepresented in history, but something that really motivated me occurred on one Tuesday night. I came back from a class, and my mom was watching a movie about an extraordinary heroine that took place during World War II. I wondered why I never heard of her. I thought of more stories that get missed in history, and I wanted to help bring them to the surface.
  1. How do you decide who you’re going to write about?
    I decide when knowing that a certain person won’t get out of mind until I write about her.  That’s when I know. There are so many people I want to write about, but there’s so little time!
  1. Are you the only person who works on this site?
    I do a lot of it, but I have my own inspirational support crew. They edit, write, give honest feedback, and are there to make suggestions. A special shout out to Jenny, Brenda, Lynn, Kyle, and Dad.
  1. So you do take suggestions?
    I do, but I can’t take them all unfortunately. However, I do like hearing them. They’re very uplifting.
  1. Where do you find your subjects?
    All over! Like I said, I take suggestions. Lots of times I feel like I’m led to them. I like history in general. Random books, shows, and footnotes make me curious. I’ve made the most discoveries, however, while doing research about someone else.
  1. Who’s been your favorite?
    I can’t say. That’s like picking a favorite child! It sounds cliché, but it’s true.
  1. Who do you like least?
    The majority of the time I love whom I’m writing about or I wouldn’t be writing about that person! However, there are people within their stories that I would like to have a little chat!
  1. Like whom?
    Hmm…the top two are King David and Robespierre. I don’t think they would like to talk to me though!
  1. Out of the women, who would you like to interview most?
    Whoever I’m writing about! If I had to pick one, though, I’d choose Anne Neville, wife of King Richard III. Hopefully, she would tell the truth about herself, her husband, and what really happened to those poor princes in the tower.
  1. Why don’t you post more often?
    It can take a really long time for me to research and write the posts. Sometimes I get too nervous. And I admit that sometimes I don’t make time.

11. Who’s surprised you the most?
        Definitely Marie-Antoinette and the Kennedy clan.

  1. Who would you like to be friends with most?
    I would have to say Michal. It sounds weird, but in a way, I feel like I’m already friends with her. I’ve spent the most time with her. If I met her in real life, I hope she’d let me in.
  1. What’s the biggest lesson you learned since starting this website?
    That extraordinary people exist now and all around us. Everyone really does have a story and contributes so much to society—even if they don’t think they do. As great as it is to learn about people in the past, it’s also good to learn about the people in the present.
  1. What’s the most frustrating thing about keeping up this website?
    Getting sad. Sometimes I can hardly bear the sorrow that these women went though. And to be totally honest, it’s also difficult for me to keep going when those who are near and dear to my heart roll their eyes at my efforts. Thankfully, I’m blessed with more supporters.
  1. What does “remember the ladies” mean?
    It’s what Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John, when he met with the Continental Congress in 1776. She wanted women to have a voice—almost 150 years before American women could actually vote!
  1. Will you write about Mormon pioneer women?
    I hope so! They are very extraordinary!
  1. What’s your favorite time period?
    I enjoy the intrigue surrounding the Wars of the Roses. I also love the Tudor era. Think about it—even if you don’t give a hoot about what was going on at the royal court, there’s something for everyone like religious reformers and martyrs, exciting world discoveries, and odd fashion.
  1. Who would you be most nervous to meet?
    King David because I haven’t been very complimentary toward him. I would still like to meet him, but he’d literally want to kill me! Out of the women, Charlotte Corday. Even though I believe she did the right thing, I wouldn’t want to upset her!
  1. Are you married?
    No.
  1. I didn’t like what you wrote. Can you change it?
    I take these requests seriously. Maybe. Maybe not. I try to be classy as well as honest.

 

Remember The Ladies