Monthly Archives: December 2012

Another Wholly Precious Time . . .


It is no secret to the family who rattles around the old farmhouse at Shady Acres that the father of the household, (“Certain Man,” or “CM,” or “Daddy” by his daughters, or “Dad” by his sons) has a penchant for hats.  Yepper!  Hats. Beaked fabric hats that are made for souveniours, for baseball players, for farmers in the fields, for bad boys to wear backwards, for almost any conceivable purpose.  Certain Man collects them.  He has for years.  He has over two hundred of the redundant looking things.  Redundant except for the identifying logos on the front of each hat.

I have displayed them around the top of my laundry room (until the dusting of them became too labor intensive).  I have bought “over the door” hat holders for them but those inventions left much to be desired.  I hammered nails into the wall of the stairway going into the basement, but it would only hold a portion of them, and when Certain Man took it upon himself to remodel that area into a space for storing his Christmas Village and accessories, he took them all down.  So we had this old upright bureau in the basement that was mostly resistant to the beasties of the basement, and we stored them there.

Most of the time, he has a favorite one that he wears “for good” meaning when he goes somewhere besides the chicken house or Southern States or Ace Hardware or Gray Burlingame’s.  Usually that one is the newest one from the chicken company that we are growing for, or from Goulds Pumps, or some other fairly readily available supplier that provides him with a hat of his liking.  The other kind are often in a sorry state of affairs.  Sometimes falling apart, almost always dusty and dirty and ordinary. He is a little picky about what kind of hat he wants to wear.  He likes breathable material in the summer, heavier in the winter.  Doesn’t like them to “stick up like a rooster” in front, but doesn’t want them to make him “look like a skinhead” by being too tight.  Hats are a real science to this man, and he has so many memories tied up in the individual hats that I couldn’t conscientiously do a purge.  There were hats that his daughters bought him from lands afar.  There were hats given to him on MDS trips with memories that make him smile.  There are hats from people he likes, from previous employers, special hats proclaiming “#1DAD” or “Campbell’s Taxidermy” or “Yutzy’s Plumbing” or “LONDON, ENGLAND” or even “#1 Plumbing Inspector.”

Then Middle Daughter, in years gone by, has begun to make blankets for her siblings that have significance.  She started with the mile-high stack of tee shirts belonging to Youngest Son.  She sorted and trimmed and counseled with him as to which ones should just go to Salvation Army, which should go to the trash and which he would like to preserve.  It was a thing of deep sentimental value, and Middle Daughter stitched love in every seam and knotted it tight with affection.

Then Youngest Daughter wanted a tee shirt blanket, and Middle Daughter got busy again and made a coverlet that caused the little ones to crow and climb around under it and make a tent and giggle with glee.  Youngest Daughter was delighted with how things turned out, and the blanket will warm her through the cold Ohio winters as she readjusts to the difference in temperatures between the equator and the latitude of 39.7442° N.


Carson, Charis and Nevin under Rachel’s unfinished Blanket.

And then, Middle Daughter connived to have Certain Man’s name for Christmas.  He had a blanket that I had knotted for him years and years ago, and it was getting threadbare.  (One time when I was heating it up over the wood stove so I could tuck it over him, I almost caught it on fire because I got it too close and left it too long.  So that part was really coming apart!)  He hasn’t complained much, but has voiced a desire for a new blanket of his own.  When Middle Daughter pondered upon it, she decided to try her hand at taking apart some of his hats and putting them together into a knotted comforter for him.  It didn’t take too long  for her to convince herself that it was possible, and she set to work.  

Whew!  Was this ever a job!  The material was thick on some, deteriorating on others.  There was much planning and piecing and reconstructing and agonizing, but finally she GOT IT!  She used over a hundred of his hats, didn’t repeat a single logo (there were some repeats of companies, but with different logos) and got it all done before Christmas and tucked it away in a box.  Certain Man knew of the project but was careful not to look before it was time.  I was so excited for her that I could hardly contain myself.  It was so warm and meaningful and attractively put together in a masculine sort of way.

It is really long, so that he can tuck it under his feet on the recliner and keep them toasty warm.  The whole family has looked over the different logos pictured there and we remember happy, happy times from the last long decades of time.  It was another wholly precious time on Christmas Eve when Certain Man opened his box and found this labor of love, fashioned with creativity and ingenuity.  

. . . another reason why the evening was very, very special.  Thanks, Deborie-girl!





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Another Holy Moment . . .

There has been a thing of wonder, almost a Christmas Miracle that has happened at the House of Certain Man and Certain Man’s Wife.

When our family exchanged names earlier this year, our son in law, Jesse, (known as “Beloved Son in Law”) drew my name from the stash.  I was so tickled when I realized he had my name because Jesse is the best gift-giver of our family.  He just has something the rest of us don’t have.  And very, very blessed are the recipients of his gifts.  It wasn’t so much that he liked Christmas.  But even with his avowed dislike, he was still just so good at it.  I was quite sure that I was going to be happy with whatever he decided to do.

I had no idea.

In the days leading up to Christmas, I was surprised to hear him say that he was just so excited about Christmas this year.  Not just once, but over and over again. And Eldest Daughter walked about with a secretive, but extremely pleased with herself air about her.  I mused that having a little girlie who was old enough to know about Christmas and the ramifications thereof had changed Jesse into something different, and it pleased me to see Christina so pleased with his excitement.  Now and then, I thought about the fact that he had my name, and I even thought that he must have something pretty interesting up his sleeve but —

I had no idea.

On Christmas Eve, the night when our family has traditionally opened their presents, we gathered in the living room.  We had dined on the traditional Shrimp Chowder, and our children, now all adults, had each made some appetizer dish to go along with the supper.  The excitement in the room following supper was barely contained as our Granddaughter said her Bible verses, Daniel read the Christmas story from Luke 2, and then led us in prayer.  When it was my turn to open my gift, there were two carefully wrapped presents, a smaller, flat box on top of a larger, very heavy box.  

Jesse said, “Mom, you are to open the small one first!”

It was then that I noticed that all the family had left their places and were gathered around, cameras ready and eyes so eager I could almost feel the electricity.  I felt the weight of the package and wondered again what in the world could possibly be so exciting.

I had no idea!!!

I cut the ribbon, and pulled the pretty paper back and it was a book.  A BOOK???


The book was a hardback, with a glossy, paper cover, and it was MINE!!!

I held that book in my hands and wept.  I just couldn’t believe it.  I’m weeping now as I write this.  It felt like the dreams of forty plus years had miraculously taken flesh and bone before my unbelieving eyes.  I looked at my Beloved Son in Law and couldn’t speak.

And then our children, these adults that I can still hardly believe are ours, began to talk.  They said things about marketing and moving forward and how they wanted to help and how they thought that these stories would sell, and how important they felt it was to not just sit on something that people would really like to read.

I opened the cover and looked at the stories, and thought about a thousand things.  I thought about how I have friends and family who write so much better than I do.  They write about Growing Up Mennonite In Knoxville, about being the head nurse of an Emergency Room in Florida, about growing flowers and raising grandsons, and tending aged parents, and death, and about being a Mommy to three rambunctious and beautiful kids while struggling with depression, about being a grandma with stories that won’t be quiet in a grieving heart, about our family history and our family nemeses and quirks and strengths and victories — about so many things that are so interesting and well written!  I looked at the earnest faces of our children, and the trickles of hope began to seep into the fear of “not being good enough” and I began to almost believe that it could be so.  Maybe.

In the second package were five more books.  One for each of our children.  One for Beloved Son in Law and Eldest Daughter. One for Middle Daughter.  One for Eldest Son and Ohio Heart Throb.  One for Youngest Son and Girl With a Beautiful Heart.  One for Youngest Daughter.  Jesse asked that I sign one for each of them. 

There are so many things to think about.  Jesse has done an incredible amount of research, work and — yes, investment.  I know that he worked hard, and had some help from Jessica (Girl with the Beautiful Heart) in editing.  Judging from the reactions and words, I think he has had lots of encouragement from his brothers and sisters in law, too, but my mind is still overwhelmed at the immensity of this gift.  I’m still processing, still thinking, still almost unable to believe it.  

I had no idea.

But I surely am one grateful gal.

Oh, and don’t order one yet.  He only got six printed, and as I was looking through, I saw some editing that I would like to do before we do anything on a grand scale.  I feel so very uninformed about this sort of thing, but I think I would like to learn.  

It looks like there just might be an adventure ahead.   



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Merry Christmas!


*Remembering a Quarter of a Century * Christmas * 2012 *
Shady Acres * 7484 Shawnee Road * Milford, DE * 19963

Dear Family and Friends:  
            The Farmhouse at Shady Acres is looking a lot like Christmas these days.  The Manger scenes are in their nooks and corners and shelves and Daniel’s Christmas Village is one of the best he has ever put together.  There have been some Christmas gatherings and lots of activity to keep the old folks at this house moving (sometimes “exhausted” would be more like it!) but nothing can dampen the excitement as this family prepares for a more normal Christmas than we have had for a number of years.  Lord willing, the children will all be home for Christmas on Christmas Eve for the first time in a very long time.  This makes the Mama at this house very glad!
            It was 25 years ago that we wrote our first Christmas letter.  Christmas, 1987, I sat down and wrote it in long hand, got my friend and next door neighbor, Esther (Sclipon) Clark, to type it out on her sophisticated typewriter that would make the margins all the same, and we sent it out with a Christmas card to our friends and family.  The year after Rachel was born we sent our first picture, and since then, we’ve only missed one year of sending a picture of our tribe.  It seems significant that on this 25th anniversary of the letter, the picture is of just Daniel and I, on a happy excursion to Boldt Castle, one of the places we first toured on our honeymoon almost forty years ago.  It’s hard for me to not include everyone, but we just don’t have a current one available.
            *I looked back tonight to that first letter, and Christina was eleven, had just been baptized, took high honors in the Fine Arts Contest at school, and we were looking forward with some trepidation to the “years ahead.”  We’ve been so incredibly blessed to watch her grow into beautiful womanhood, become a wife and a mommy, and we’ve been privileged to enjoy a relationship with her and Jesse and our precious grandchild, Charis, that is rewarding and pleasant and mutually respectful.  We are so grateful to God for this little family that brightens many a day with the precocious comments of three-year-old Charis, as well as lightens many burdens by the willing assistance of Jesse and Christina when extra hands are needed around the grounds and house at the old home place.  Jesse still works for Burris Logistics in Information Technology, and Christina is a homemaker, babysitting two days a week for the same little Kate-girl that she has had for almost two years.
            *Deborah had just turned eight in 1987, and the words “sensitivity” and “perfectionist” and “energy” were used to describe her.  We also talked about the fact that she almost always had some sort of project going and that she talked a lot.  Fancy that!  That is still our girl!  She has her fingers in so many things, always has some sort of project going, and still likes to talk.  The biggest project for this year was remodeling her room and library, with amazing results.  She traveled to the Holy Lands with a tour group in late March and had a wonderful time.  She has been employed by Delaware Hospice for over two years and continues to be very busy with this organization.  She loves her friends and their children dearly, and almost always has some sort of plans in her head for blessing the young moms as well as their children.  She is currently taking horseback riding lessons with the hope of someday riding trail somewhere on a hiking expedition. She teaches the Young Women’s class at church and studies and plans and ponders ways to make the lessons practical and interesting for these gals.  
            *Raphael was five. He loved the farm where his daddy worked, was most comfortable in jeans and boots and loved music.  He had a sensitive spirit and was concerned about relationships.  He was quick to apologize and had a loving, gentle heart.  My heart caught at the description of Raph as a five year old that is so apt these 25 years later.  He and Regina have had an eventful year, and there are many things that are worthy of praise.  They bought their first house this year in Sugarcreek, Ohio, and seem to be thoroughly settled.  Gina, with the help of her mom, planted a garden, and that was exciting to see.  She raised some astounding greenbeans.  The summer was hot and dry, and discouraging, but hopefully next year will provide even better results for her labors.  She recently became a full time homemaker while Raph continues his job at Troyer Furniture.  They are active in the youth ministry at their church, Grace Mennonite, and Raph still plays drums for the worship team.  We are eagerly anticipating having them home for about a week over Christmas.  We never get to see them enough.
            *Lem was 20 months old when I wrote that first letter.  He enjoyed books, animals (!) and loved to play with the older children, but was especially fond of his brother.  I wrote something about an “easy-going temperament” that was decidedly off base, but other than that and the animal business, things are pretty much the same for our Lemuel.  His love of learning has him studying for his PhD in Social Work at Bryn Mawr.  He continues to work part time as a counselor in a Mental Health facility in Philadelphia, but looks forward to having better situation in the near future.  Jessica graduated with her Masters in May and has done very exceedingly well at her job with the Veterans Administration. They are still living in the same apartment they rented over three years ago  in King of Prussia, PA.  Their jobs, educational pursuits, friends and church keep them very occupied, and we don’t see enough of them, either.  They will also spend some time with us over Christmas.  Another reason for joy!
            *Rachel was not even mentioned in that long ago letter.  We didn’t know there would be a “Rachel” (though we hoped for at least one more child!).  She finished out her sophomore year at Cedarville University in Ohio, and then came home for the summer, working two jobs and taking college courses at the same time.  She worked at her old job as a gardener for Joe Warnell on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Then, on Tuesday and Thursday, she babysat for Carson, Nevin and Kate.  The summer went like a fast moving train, as we prepared for yet another departure.  She is, even now, on her way home from Uganda, AFRICA, by way of Paris.  She did a semester abroad for her junior year internship, and served with Compassion, International as a social worker, while racking up a whole lot of cultural exposure and study.  Daniel and I go to La Guardia to pick her up on Dec. 15th, and it will be good to have her safely home again.  But what is “safe” if it isn’t to do what we feel God has called us to do?  For Rachel, that is going when and where she is called.  For me, it means to be quietly trustful at home when I am so tempted to worry about – well everything, actually.  Malaria, revolution, parasites, food poisoning, Ebola virus outbreak, violence and even about what impact the atrocities of that region would have upon the heart of our youngest offspring.   I had plenty of lessons, and we are never too old for lessons in the school of trust.
            *Never too old.  Well, there are some things that make me feel pretty old.  (Like writing a Christmas letter for 25 years when you didn’t even start until you had been married over 14 years.) Daniel and I both will celebrate our 60th birthday next year if we live and the LORD tarries. Twenty-five years ago, Daniel was still working full time on Jerrel Heatwole’s dairy farm, but thinking seriously of starting his own plumbing business.  We certainly had no idea of where that endeavor would lead us, but the journey has been exciting.  Daniel continues with his job at the state as a plumbing inspector, and the chicken houses, farm and garden tasks and church/deacon responsibilities take up a good bit of his time as well.  He is scheduled for a knee replacement in May.  It certainly is time! He has endured enough pain and inconvenience.  We hope for a cancellation that will get him in earlier but this will happen in God’s timing.  Last year, I said that his favorite “job” was being a grandpa, and that’s still true.  Just this week, Charis “helped” her Grandpa set up chicken house on a cold, dark evening, and loved every minute because she was with her beloved Grandpa.
            *And that leaves me.  25 years ago, we were caring for two handicapped ladies.  We still are.  Cecilia has been here 13 years, Nettie for six.  And my 1986 paragraph? “The gift of health and strength and optimism is not a thing to take for granted. I’m daily grateful for the way HE not only enables, but causes me to enjoy the constant rounds of washing, cooking, cleaning, sewing, and nurturing.  I’m never quite all done, but have a real sense of purpose and intent that keeps it all from being mundane.”  I’m not doing much sewing these days, but the rest is still pretty much the same.  Twenty-five years later, this life that I share with the people I love best is anything but mundane, and for that, I give Grateful Praise.

Make it a memorable Christmas!
As always, Daniel and Mary Ann Yutzy



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Recipe for a Christmasopherous amount of Party Mix

Recipe for a Christmasopherous amount of Party Mix

One box Honey Nut Chex

1/2 box Wheat Chex (about 4 cups)

1/2 box Rice Chex (about 6 cups)

!/2 Box Corn Chex (about 5 cups)

6 Cups Cheerios

1 pound bag of the thinnest pretzel sticks you can find

1 lb. box cheese crackers (like Goldfish — but I prefer Stauffer’s Whales)

1 large bag regular Bugles

4 smaller bags Caramel Bugles

1 or 2 boxes Ritz original flavor Munchables Buttery Thins 

1/2 large can (like Sam’s Club size) Cashew pieces

1/2 large can spanish peanuts

3 lbs. Pecans (large pieces)

Mix all these together in a very large container.  (Needs to hold 7-8 gallons)

I toss these together until it looks like party mix.


5 cups vegetable oil

6 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce

6 Tbs.  Seasoned Salt (like Lawry’s)

4 Tbs. Garlic Powder


Using a wire whisk, mix together very thoroughly.  Then drizzle several cups over the already mixed ingredients and toss together well.  Continue doing this until the liquid is all gone.  I whisk the mixture very well just before drizzling each time, otherwise the spices will sink to the bottom and stay there.  When all the liquid is gone, I toss the mix a while longer, just to be sure I have maximum coverage.

Once you are satisfied that it is pretty evenly distributed, put into four large foil pans.  
(The really big ones that are the size of a large cookie sheet and have deep sides.) 
I believe they are the size of the large pans in a steam table.

About now, you should preheat oven to 250 degrees   (If you have access to two ovens, use both.  It will cut the baking time in half)  Space the racks enough apart that you can slip a four inch pan on the bottom rack and still have room to have a large pan on the top rack.   Like so:

You are going to bake this mixture for two hours at 250 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes.  One of the secrets to having really good Party Mix is to be very attentive while you are baking it.  I use a timer, set EVERY SINGLE TME.  I also set a second timer for 2 hours.  Otherwise I loose track of when I am actually done.  I’m pretty OCD about making Party Mix correctly.  It is expensive, and can be such a disappointment if I don’t pay attention.  And I don’t “stir” my Party Mix.  I use the fifth foil pan, and gently dump the top rack’s pan into that empty pan, then take the bottom rack’s pan out and dump it into the now empty pan from the top shelf.  I put the mix that had been on the bottom rack on the top rack, and the one that had been on the top on the bottom, and that helps to keep things more even.  (At least it works that way for me, in my head, in my practical application.)  🙂 

When it is all done, I pour it onto a counter or table that has been covered with brown paper

and let it cool.  


Then, I put it back into the original container (carefully washed and thoroughly dried) to use as desired.  There is no reason why you couldn’t pack it into pretty Christmas bags or containers, although I try to put it into a plastic bag when I put it into a container, just so it will stay fresh.  

And then you are ready to give it away.  If you have a husband or offspringin’s that look at that big container of Party Mix and think there is “plenty” there, and give it away to strangers that happen to stop at the house to deliver something, or take big bags to work so people can eat it all in one day,

Believe me, dear friends.  I know!
But I am so happy that it is so popular.  
And if you have questions, just ask.
I will try hard to answer.



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