American Patriotism: Getting Back To The Basics!

American Patriotism: Getting Back To The Basics!

There’s nothing I love more than seeing flags waving in a summer breeze, military personnel, both past and present, being honored, parades and family gatherings.

American Patriotism: Getting Back To The Basics!

“Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion, but a tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”  Adlai Stevenson

As patriotic, American citizens, we have a deep and abiding love for this great country.  We know America isn’t perfect–but we love it all the same.  How then, can we live every day in such a way that shows our gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy and contribute to our nation’s success?

Everyday Patriotism!

Real patriotism doesn’t mean we have to wait for a holiday or a special event to show our pride in America; it doesn’t require a red, white and blue dress code or fireworks.  Patriotism, in its truest form, should be discernible in our everyday actions…by the way we speak and in the things we do!

  • Study America’s History!

Learning about American history and what made us the strong, independent country that we are should be an ongoing venture.  I was lucky enough to have parents who discussed historical and current events at the dinner table and more often than not, they talked about political leaders with respect, even if they didn’t necessarily agree with their viewpoints.

There are so many amazing books dedicated to celebrating the American spirit and crucial turning points in our world’s history; read them together as a family.  (See some of my favorite picks here.)   My daughter recently introduced me to a new innovative book series by Lauren Tarshis called “I Survived” –about historical stories that are told through the eyes of boys and girls who lived to share their tales.  My two older granddaughter’s were quick to tell me how much they love these books.

I Survived book series

My husband and I recently watched a television program where a young girl shared the history behind the Gettysburg Address  by Abraham Lincoln, then she recited it in its entirety–watching her do this, inspired us to learn it too.  Doing things like this can’t help but make the rich history of the United States become more meaningful!

Gettysburg address by Abraham Lincoln.

Also, if you want to keep up to date with a brief overview of daily news headlines without all the usual political spin, I like the iPhone App Skimm.

  • Support Your Community!

Our local communities are obviously the most real and important part of America to us as average citizens, so it makes sense that getting involved in our hometowns and neighborhoods is a good place to start when trying to find ways to be active and contributing members of society.  At the very least, we can work to earn a good living to support our families, maintain our homes, and raise responsible children who recognize the many privileges that they are afforded by the cooperative efforts of the their city’s elected leaders and concerned local residents.

I always treasure the opportunity I have to engage in the voting process; attending caucus meetings gives you the opportunity to advocate, lobby and learn more about the candidates up for election and helps you make better decisions on the issues you feel will best support the overall well-being of your community.  In addition to elected officials, showing respect for police officers, firemen and others who put their lives at risk for the sake of their communities is something we should all be happy and willing to do.

Voting is a patriotic privilege.

“My vote is my voice…and the voice of all those who struggled before me so that I may have my voice.”  Lydia C. Obasi

I also found that volunteering and helping out at the schools my children attended was a good way to not only help their teachers, but stay informed about the curriculum being taught and how my husband and I could add to their learning experience.

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  • Work Hard, Serve Others!

Whenever my father would share stories about his parents, he always spoke about them and their tremendous work ethic with the highest regard.  As young immigrants from Norway, they had the utmost appreciation for a land that allowed them the freedoms to establish a family farm and business during the great depression of the 1930’s.  Despite their own meager circumstance at times, they were always quick to lend a helping hand to others in need and offered food and jobs when needed.

Early pioneer farm life.

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but we can work to change a small portion of events, and the total of all those acts will be written in the history of that generation.”   Robert Kennedy

My parents also worked hard to provide a wonderful life for our family, while making sure that each of their children had a good education and were self-reliant.  It’s rewarding for me and my husband, as well, to see our hard work pay off as our son and two daughter’s work to achieve their goals and dreams in this great land of opportunity.

  • Above All…Be Kind!

American patriotism, at its best, is understanding that we are a melting pot, so to speak, of many ideas, cultures and concepts…let’s celebrate them by being kind.  Kindness is an expression of caring…even the smallest act or deed done for another person can make a life-changing difference.  The ripple effect of kindness is unity despite diversity, and a genuine desire to share what we have with others while being grateful for the opportunities we have to learn from one another.

When my husband and I first saw the video below about Preston Sharp, a young boy aptly known as “A Pied Piper Of Patriotism” –it reminded us once again, of just how far reaching a simple act of kindness can truly be:             

I hope our American patriotism may be seen as a chance for us to show kindness!

American Patriotism: Getting Back To The Basics!

“True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what’s right.”  Brigham Young

May we each live so that we are always a blessing to America!

Please share how you would describe true American patriotism.

 –Mary 

Valentine Gifts From The Heart!

Valentine Gifts From The Heart!

Although I’m a firm believer that we should give gifts of love all year long to keep our relationships strong…Valentine’s Day definitely offers the perfect opportunity to find great gifts from the heart for those we love!

Valentine Gifts From the Heart!

My mom always gave such fun, clever gifts; she often told me that when you thought about the stage of life the person was in, as well as a few things they loved, then combined it with a little personal flair–gift giving was easy!  My husband and I have found that we love to give gifts where we get to share experiences and adventures with those we love.  With these things in mind…here’s a few gift ideas from the heart that you could adapt for the Valentines in your life!

Gifts Of Time For Those Deep In The Trenches Of Parenthood!

I remember when I was a busy, young mom with one child or another pulling on my leg or screaming at the top of their lungs for attention, one of the best gifts my husband could give me when he got home from work was a grocery sack containing one of my favorite magazines, accompanied with a few special treats…the best part was that he’d take the kids outside to play for awhile or take them to get a fun treat of their own while I enjoyed an hour or so of uninterrupted time to myself!

Valentine Gifts From The Heart!

If there are any young mothers in your life–pick-up a fun magazine or two at the drug store, (in this digital age, it’s probably rare that they get any of these) take her kids for an hour or so and let her enjoy some much needed time alone!

Valentine's Day coupon.

On a weekend, you could arrange to tend the kids so that both parents could go to lunch–your treat!  Time together as a couple is always a welcome gift for busy, young parents.

(Click here for some other fun ways to get your cupid on as a couple!)

Curly Girl card.

Once in awhile you could even arrange for the husbands to watch the kids so the two of you can go out together! 

Gifts Of Togetherness For Our Children And Grandkids! ♥ 

Valentine’s Day certainly doesn’t need to be an extension of Christmas for our children and grandchildren, but it can be just as special when we consider each child and their unique personalities.  Much like their adult counterparts, I think kids just love spending time together doing fun activities!  My husband and I love sharing experiences with our kids and their families.

Bountiful Bowling! www.mytributejournal.com

A Valentine’s Day bowling date complete with fun prizes or monetary gifts for the most strikes, the lowest score, the best form…etc. always proves to be a good time!  Hamburgers, French fries and root beer floats are also a good addition to this celebration! 

I have a friend at work who does a progressive dinner with her kids the weekend before Valentine’s Day, each sharing their culinary talents on the part of dinner they’ve been assigned.  How fun does this sound!  I can’t wait to do this when my children all live close by–I can just imagine the great conversations and laughter we’ll enjoy!

Chocolate Trifle Dessert www.mytributejournal.com

Whether you do a progressive dinner or simply plan on a romantic dinner for two, serving this Chocolate Trifle will give you your Valentine’s Day chocolate fix.  (Find the recipe here.)

Heart art puppets! www.mytributejournal.com

In the past, I have put on “heart art” puppet shows with my grandchildren.  So much fun!  (You can get the details here.)

A Valentine Tea Party! www.mytributejournal.com

Hosting a fun Valentine’s tea party is also a fun way to give from your heart to those you love.  (Check out the fun here.) 

Gifts Of Loving Care For Grandparents And The Elderly! ♥  

Time flies when you’re having fun…and in a blink of an eye it seems the demands of young children, job workloads, and other time crunches no longer occupy your days as they once did.  I believe the benefits of being committed to our families and other responsibilities during the earlier stages of our lives is that the rewards come back ten fold as we get older.  One thing I used to love to do for my parents, especially when they couldn’t drive long distances to come visit us, was to take the holiday fun to them!

XOXO Plates for blog entry

A fun meal served in their home on festive dinnerware accompanied with some lively conversation, always proves to be such a great gift for those loved ones that will always hold a special place in our hearts!   (These unique XOXO plates are from Pier 1 Imports.)

Gifts From The Heart!

Another neat gift idea from the heart for grandparents or an elderly neighbor would be to get your kids involved and prepare a fun Valentine’s countdown where you include homemade cards, recent photos together, and maybe a hardware gift card for grandpa and a special shopping date with grandma.  I think they’d love some coupons for helping them with a few jobs around their house and yard that they could redeem as needed throughout the year. 

Valentine's Words of Wisdom book.

A unique gift from the heart would be to make a collection of the wise advice your parents have given you over the years and jot them down in a special “Valentine’s Word of Wisdom” booklet.  How surprised will your parents be to find out that you not only listened to them…you actually learned a thing or two as well!  (I found this cute heart notebook in the Etsy store FavouriteNotebook.) 

A favorite piece of advice my father once told me was…“Remember, romance doesn’t start in the bedroom!”  Wise man that dad of mine!

Valentine Gifts Just For Fun!

Valentine’s Day also seems like the perfect time to put a little creative spin on our gift giving–letting those we care about know that although day to day life requires us to be responsible adults most of the time…we can always enjoy a little frivolous fun sometimes too!

Valentine Gifts From The Heart!

♥ One of my very most favorite Valentine gifts ever, was when my cute hubby bought us aprons and a night cooking class at a local kitchen store.  Seriously, so much fun!  (It was fun to stock up on a few new, much needed kitchen accessories after the cooking class too.)

♥ “642 Things About You” (That I Love) is a fun, quirky love journal for you and your loved one to fill out together or individually as the mood hits…it’s full of random questions (precisely 642) that will have you laughing…and reflecting on why you love that person so much.  (Here’s a couple of sample questions: “What you said that made me laugh when I first took you home to meet my parents.” / “If our relationship had a mascot, what would it be?”)  So many fun ideas–if for no other reason than to have a good laugh together–this is a great Valentine gift from the heart!  

 ♥  I learned from my sweet mom that no gift is ever complete if it isn’t accompanied by a heartfelt note–long after the gift is forgotten, the thoughtful expressions of love in a note live on in our hearts! 

♥  We’re all trying to stick to our New Year’s diets, (well, sort of) but any gift that includes miniature Valentine candies is a fun gift to receive, especially when it’s given with a cute heart tray or container!    

Whatever you do for those you love for Valentine’s Day, it will be perfect as long as you include lots of…..

Valentine's Day Gifts from the Heart!

I wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day!  I hope it’s filled with some of the people and things you love the most!

 I would love it if you’d share a fun personalized gift from the heart that you’ve given to your special loved ones.

–Mary 

Santa’s Prayer!

Santa’s Prayer!

When I was growing up, my mom always seemed to know how to create the perfect balance between Jesus and Santa Claus at Christmastime; she used to tell me that they were friends.  “After all,”  she’d say, “they both want you to be good.”

Santa's Prayer!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

My husband came across this amazing song a few years ago by one of his very favorite country groups–and it has become a beloved Christmas song at our house!  You can push play and listen to it while you scroll through the words and pictures.  Best blessings to everyone as you celebrate Christmas and welcome in a new year!

“Santa’s Prayer” lead vocals by Larry Stewart with Restless Heart

“Lord, here I am all dressed up for the season, but it seems so many folks forgot the reason.”

Santa's Prayer!

“I’ve got on my bright, red suit, snow-white beard, black, shiny boots, but this year old Santa’s feeling blue…Lord, I felt a need to talk to you.” 

“I’ve seen my picture in all the stores in town–I’ve seen my face most every place…but yours is seldom found.” 

Santa's Prayer!

“I’m just a pawn, but you were born a King…sure, they’re gonna love the gifts I bring.”Santa's Prayer! Isaiah-9-6“But the greatest gift they ever will receive…is the love that’s bringing Santa to his knees.” 

Scroll design.

“I just have one wish I wanna wish tonight–that we might be reminded of that star so bright!”

Santa's Prayer!

“Let it shine down on the cost, from the manger to the cross, and let the world see me as a second thought…to the one that guides old Santa when he’s lost!”

“Oh, I’ve seen my picture in all the stores in town–I’ve seen my face most every place…but yours is seldom found.”

Santa's Prayer!

“I’m just a pawn, but you were born a King…sure, they’re gonna love the gifts I bring.”

Nativity scene.

“But the greatest gift they ever will receive…is the love that’s bringing Santa, it’s the love that’s bringing Santa–oh, it’s the love that’s bringing Santa to his knees.  Santa Claus is coming…kneeling down to pray.”

“Lord, make this a holy Christmas Day!”

May we all know kindness, love and peace this Christmas…and in the coming year!

–Mary