There are certain things which have to be included in Christmas. First and foremost, how about Christ, since it is a celebration of his birthday, after all. After struggling to find cards with the words Merry Christmas, instead of just happy holidays, we turned to the oldest grandchild for some creativity. The first grader, in all of her goodness and charm, made a drawing of Santa at school and then wrote "I Believe" on his hat. I couldn't have said it any better. We made cards out of her artwork so we could send Merry Christmas wishes to our family and friends. If I wanted to tell them "happy holidays," with this generic saying, I could sent it out for any day of the year. It's Christmas, not just any ole' holiday. There's no doubt I overdo it when it comes to making memories and traditions for the grandkids. Luckily the adult children go along with my craziness during this time of the year and, as long as I feed them, will agree to bring the kids over. If football or basketball is on, that's even better, as the son-in-laws don't worry as much about when it's time to call it a day, unless of course, I run into overtime and then it's game over. We had our annual cookie making day and the pros, a.k.a., 4- and 7-year-old grandkids, helped the little ones. The toddler twosome, as I now refer to the youngest grandsons, munched through enough sprinkles and icing to send anyone into orbit. They crashed and burned just about time to go home, so it worked out really well for me. Besides keeping Christ in Christmas, it's a time for family. I'm so fortunate to have them all living so close to us. I realize at times they probably don't feel it's as fortunate for them, but I think I've done a pretty good job brainwashing them into thinking that moving any further away would be too hard on the grandkids to not be near family. As of right now, it seems to be working. The two older grandkids helped me decorate the tree with plastic bulbs, hung with twine, along with some crocheted snowflakes to make it as toddler proof as possible. It didn't take long for the toddler twosome to remove all of the ones they could reach and after presents were wrapped we decided to block it off with an extra large dog fence so they couldn't maul the gifts. Slobber and wrapping paper just don't mix well. We are just days away from Christmas and the family continues to pass germs back and forth. Most everyone has some kind of ailment right now and they're still blaming me from being sick on Thanksgiving. My motto for the Christmas celebration is to medicate and monitor and come as you are. We can't infect each other anymore than we already have. We may be passing around the Kleenex box, but we'll be together, and that's all that matters. I'm raising my cough syrup and making a toast wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a germ free New Year!

Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at