Christmas–My New Normal

Some traditions hold true.  Some change.  Christmas is no different.  I remember the first Christmas we had after my mom died.  For years, we went to our parents’ home for Christmas, even after she was too ill to prepare the meal.  We three girls brought the Tommi, Maggie, Paige, Danicafood, because my mom wanted us together.  The only time her holiday was changed was the day my sister went into labor in the wee hours of Christmas morning, and delivered the only girl grandchild to my parents.  They already had eight (8) grandsons, and no granddaughters.  That was a nice gift for them.  For my kids, they felt robbed of the day.  A few years later they said the day was not the same.  We all got together, short of my sister and her husband, and then the adult women all ran off to the hospital to see this Christmas baby girl.  We then returned to open all the presents under the tree with the family.  Every year, we went to my mom and dad’s, ate dinner, and had a huge gift exchange with all our family.

Our mom died in August, and all of a sudden we had to come up with a new tradition.  I don’t remember what we did that first December.  Maybe we showed up at our dad’s or one of my sister’s home.  The following year, we sisters decided to have a “progressive” IM001639Christmas celebration.  We loved it, the men hated it, and the smaller kids were okay with it.  We started at my home.  My home was very small back then, so I started with the appetizers, so I wouldn’t have to have folks around the table.  Everyone showed up and were fed whatever the appetizer I selected to make.  We also had to do some sort of small entertainment.  I don’t really remember what I did—maybe lead everyone in a Christmas carol.  After those two things were completed, I gave out my gifts to the family members.  We then went on to the next home.  As we progressed from my home, we went to homes to have soup, salad, main course, and desert.  No one had to drag presents with them because the adults who bought presents for all the kids, delivered them at their own home.  It was a fun day, and it took all day to eat our meal as none of IMG_1307.JPGus lived next door to each other.  After that year, my dad moved to Arizona, and one sister and her husband moved out of town, and also a couple of their kids scattered.  Two of my children made their way to the west coast.  The whole Christmas tradition changed again.  I had since moved to a larger home, and I worked out a deal with my remaining local sister that if she did Thanksgiving, I would do Christmas.  We did this every year through 2011.  Then in early 2012, my local sister was diagnosed with cancer, and passed away later that year.  We once again started a new normal.

I was like my mom.  I wanted Christmas at my home as long as I was healthy enough to celebrate with my children and grandchildren.  I hosted Christmas, even after I married Dennis, and lived 2 hours from my Missouri kids.  That worked every year until Dennis and I decided we wanted to move to Arizona.  Last year we were just snowbirds.  We wanted to leave the day after Christmas, so instead of hosting our children, we went to St. Louis and had Christmas at one of their homes.  We were still all together.

sledThis year the dynamic changed.  It changed for everyone.  One son in San Francisco got married, which changes the dynamic of his holiday, although he didn’t always make his way to the midwest as he had found his new normal in California.  He and his wife shared photos of their celebrations with friends who they love as family.   My youngest son, in Los Angeles, married and has a small child, and doesn’t have much opportunity to travel. My #3 son, his wife, and daughter flew to Arizona to have Christmas with us.  It was not a Christmas with lots of wrapped presents, since most of the grandchildren have grown up.  It is hard to shop for older teenagers when we don’t live near them, and they love to receive cash to do their own shopping.  I kind of miss having all the packages to wrap, always giving a toy, some clothes, and every grandchild would get a pair of warm winter pajamas and a book.  I was the book and pajama grandma!


So, the tree was bare underneath except for a few envelopes.  We did have Christmas cookies.  The consensus of the celebrants wanted grilled steaks, and since Arizona is supposed to be warm, their wish was granted — except, St. Louis, Missouri, was actually warmer this year on Christmas Day than Arizona!  We were fortunate that was the one day it did not rain, and steaks were grilled to perfection.

2019As my other children and grandchildren called me that day to wish me a Merry Christmas, we talked about how this holiday was different for all of us.  My grandson mentioned that this was the first one that not all the midwest family will be together—he will not be with his cousin who he celebrated with for 17 years.  My son, his dad, said that since they sold their home and moved to a new place in November, it was all new to them also, just making the new place their Christmas home.

I was sad to see my kids leave for Missouri.  They had an early flight this morning.  Life goes on though, and they have to get home and back to work and school.  We now have our tree and Christmas decor around the house that will need to come down and be packed away.  

I still think it was the right thing to move here.  Our family is growing and the kids and grandkids have their own busy lives.  I am no longer babysitting grandkids and having them come for sleepovers.  They have school activities, boyfriends, girlfriends, other friends, and even work obligations.  We also have a place that they love to visit.  One granddaughter was here for the week of Christmas.  A grandson is coming with his friends in January during their winter break from college.  I am working on a date for my oldest granddaughter to come visit.  Our home in Arizona is open to friends, but is especially open to our family.  Our Christmases will be different, but that is what happens in all families eventually.  We will learn our new normal.

tree quote.jpg

Santa Baby

sistersI was a big fan of Santa.  I believed that jolly old guy would deliver every year.  I wrote him letters.  The first one was apparently dictated to my mom.  She sent it off to the North Pole, or so I thought she did.  After my mom passed, I found many things she had saved over the years, of which two were letters I had written to Santa Claus.

I should have known that first Christmas as the age of 6, that Santa was sure to disappoint.  The first item on my list was a Saucy Walker Doll.  My sisters both had this type of doll, and I was dollenvious of their beautiful dolls, so I requested one.  I think I did receive one but it was a smaller version.  Of course, I was a smaller version of my sisters back in those days.

The second item on the list was dishes.  I am sure I received those, because I had a lot of play dishes, pots and pans, toy rolling pin, just everything a little girls in the mid 50’s would think her play kitchen should have.

I requested a bank, and got one that you couldn’t take the money out of until it reached $10.  Do you know how long it takes to save up $10 in those days.  It felt like forever.  We bankfigured out how to fool the totaling of the register to bring it to $10 way before that large sum of money was saved.  There were important things I needed to buy, and I couldn’t wait for the $10 to accumulate.

The next item was a huge disappointment.  Why on earth did Santa not bring me the requested “baby brother?”  He didn’t even bring me a baby sister.  What kind of Santa is that?  I was going to name my brother Charles.  I don’t know why—there wasn’t a single Charles on either side of our families.  I think it was a sturdy name—maybe I was aware at age 6, that Queen Elizabeth had a little boy the same age as me by the name Charles.  What made me think I could name my brother anyway?  Charles, or whatever his name could be, never arrived under our tree or anywhere in our house.  I was the end of child making in this family.1954 Santa Letter

The doll buggy and doll bed sound like something I got.  As you also see, I was into properly dressing my dolls also by requesting doll clothes, skates, and shoes.  I loved all my dolls, and I loved dressing them up.  I spent a lot of my time “playing house” and loved pretending to be a mother.  By the way, I never got a ballerina doll either.

I made a good try at age 6 to writing my first name in cursive, a lost art today.  My last name apparently was a bit more difficult to do in cursive.  It is good to know that I promised to be a good girl and mind “my mother and daddy.”  I was a very compliant child, and took this part of my job seriously.

So then a year later, I learned to write, and apparently I found a toy catalog, probably a Sears Roebuck, or maybe a J.C. Penney.  My writing is quite primitive, but I sure could copy names of toys that I saw, as I am sure that those descriptions would not be how I would have stated the item. 1956 Chrismas Letter A1956 Christmas Letter B

I am amazed at how demanding I was with the jolly old fellow.  I just went straight to the point.  I didn’t promise to be a good girl, I didn’t start with a nice introduction—I just told the man what I wanted for Christmas.  I noticed, though, that I didn’t bother to sign the letter.  How did Santa know who to deliver the goods to?  As I think about it, I am not sure I got all those or any of those things.  That could be why—Santa didn’t know who wrote this note, or maybe he wasn’t happy that I had not promised to be a good girl.

FastFoto_0300I believed in Santa for a long time—probably much longer than kids today.  One year I went shopping with my mom.  I was always with her.  She bought some stuff and I never thought anything about it, until on Christmas morning.  When my sister opened her much coveted paint by number oil painting set, a light bulb turned on in my brain.  I remembered my mom buying that when I was with her!  The magic was gone!

Do you remember Christmas Club accounts at the bank?  You put a certain amount of money into the account every week, and the first of December, the bank closed out the account and gave you the money.  One year my mom, got me an account.  I don’t remember how much it was. It was pretty minimal, but at the end of the year, I had money to buy my family Christmas gifts, and I learned how fun it was to find the perfect gift for each person.  I bought my mom a new metal canister set and my dad a light table for sorting his slides.  I had some money left over and bought myself a pair of shoes, and wrapped the box and put it under the tree for myself—one can never get too many presents!

IMG2780I loved Christmas.  My dad was the resident Scrooge, so my mom took us girls out to find our Christmas tree.  We could never purchase the tree before my birthday (December 16), so usually on the 17th we went tree shopping.  Judy, the middle sister, would string the lights on the tree, and then we would pull out the  glass bulbs and hang them.  The final touch was always the tinsel on the tree.  We thought the tree was beautiful.  We would turn on the lights, put our Johnny Mathis Christmas album on the Magnavox stereo, and marvel at the tree and the beautiful holiday music.  Those were good days—simple and fun.  We had family dinners with aunts, uncles, and cousins.  We went to church, and performed in the Sunday school Christmas programs.  I even sang (yeah, can you believe that?) “We Three Kings” in a trio with two other little girls.  Each of us got to sing one of the verses solo.  My apologies goes out to those who may remember this performance!

Today, there are new traditions, and I hope my kids and grandkids have heartwarming memories of their Christmas celebrations as much as I do.

What were the traditions in your family?  Do you have fond memories of these days, or were you from a household that Christmas was a chaotic time with stress and family disagreements?  I am so grateful that our Christmas celebrations were wrapped with family love, and celebration of Christ’s birth.isaiah

Not So Ready for Christmas!

nativityThe holidays are upon us, and I am not feeling it yet.  I try to think why that is.  I have had the tree up and decorated since the week of Thanksgiving.  My nativity collections have found places to be displayed around the home.  I have even started to receive Christmas cards.  I still have to purchase and send mine.

Now that we are in Arizona with only 9’ ceilings, our 12’ Christmas tree was donated back in Missouri.  The biggest I could find was a 7.5’ tree.  The next size was 9’ which would have hit the ceiling without my angel topper.  

I also had to make a decision about what ornaments to add to the tree since I had a very filled 12’ tree in the past.  My American flags are a given.  I have two small flags stuck into the tree.  The first one I received when I donated some flagmoney to help repair the Greek Orthodox Church near the site of the Twin Towers.  It was damaged on 9/11, and as I gave a small cash donation at a Greek Festival in Missouri, they gave a US flag.  I don’t remember where I got the 2nd one.  My decision for ornaments were the “grandkid” ornaments.  These are the ornaments I have bought with each grandchild in mind, and they hang on my tree until they are young adults.  Then I pack them up and give them their ornaments for their tree.  If you want more information on how I do that, click here.  Along with those, I added ones that are about Dennis and me, or our grown children, and then of course, the many character ones I have collected from Hallmark over the


The Singing Chickens

years.  My “Singing Chickens” have died, and I cannot find a way to possibly repair the ornament.  My Statue of Liberty ornament that plays the “National Anthem” is still alive and well.

So, the tree is decorated.  The house is festive.  I’m still not feeling it.  Last night I purchased the ingredients for Christmas cookies, and I need to start baking in the next day or two.  

I used to feel festive when the grandkids were little.  I would shop for gifts that I knew they would love.  Now, it’s about giving them money so they can purchase something


Christmas 2006

they wanting, or for them to save.  It’s not as much fun as watching them open packages with toys, games, pajamas, and books.  I really miss those days.  I miss the days when my kids and grandkids would be in awe of the Christmas tree.  I miss when they would search for the alligator I have hidden in the tree.  Yes, there is a pickle in the tree, but the alligator was much more fun to search.  I miss them searching the tree to find the new ornament that year with their name on it.

Being in Arizona will be the start of new Christmas traditions.  Dennis’ son is coming in town next week and we will celebrate an early Christmas with him.  The following week, the week of Christmas, my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter will be with us.  My granddaughter is now 17 years old, and won’t have the same awe in the holiday that she had as a small child.  On the other hand, I am super excited to have them here for the holiday.  It will make our Christmas transition to Arizona a bit easier.

As I go shopping, I see “Let It Snow” decorations, and I just have to laugh.  I left Missouri because I don’t want to deal with snow.  Finding these many different decor items with this phrase seems so silly here in the valley of Arizona.  It could snow, but even if it did, it wouldn’t be significant.  The signs should say, “Let it snow in the mountains or elsewhere in the county.”  I want a Christmas sign to say “Let it Shine.”  That would be perfect.

I am enjoying the spiritual preparation for the holiday, because for me, that is what Christmas is really about.  Was Jesus born on December 25?  Most likely not, but that doesn’t matter.  It’s about remembering and celebrating his coming to earth.  It’s not IMG_0100about a babe in a manger, although that is how he came.  It is about God coming to earth as man, the only suitable sacrifice to make us reconnected with the God of the universe.  It’s about him preparing a way for us, living as a good example, but the purpose of coming to be a sacrifice for us.  Remember the ancient Jews had to make a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, starting with Passover, when they put the blood of the lamb on the door frame.  Jesus is our Passover lamb.  No longer do we need a sacrifice because Jesus willingly gave himself, to take on our sin, once and for all.  He died a horrible death for us.  It didn’t end there.  He didn’t stay dead.  He came back to life, and this was witnessed by a multitude of people who saw him after his death.  Christmas is just the beginning of the story.  Easter is the middle of the story.  The story is not over.  He will come again, and then all things will be made right on earth.  We will then really see “Peace on Earth.”  His birth brings “Peace on Earth” in a spiritual way to individuals, his death and resurrections brings “Peace on Earth” for now and to the future, and one day, He will bring this “Peace on Earth” back for all time.  Yes, I do believe that.

So, in the meantime, I celebrate Christmas in my feeble way.  I will decorate my home, bake my cookies, have a special dinner, and give gifts.  I will do all the trappings that our culture does for the holiday, but I know that the story is much bigger, and that gives me the Christmas spirit I wasn’t feeling a few minutes ago.

Wishing you a joyous Christmas!



The 100th Anniversary of My Dad

They say the third time is a charm.  I don’t know who “they” are, but I’ve started writing two previous times, and I just got stuck.  I want to share with you about the 100th anniversary of my dad’s birth, which was November 28.  I was getting bogged down in the story, and then last night I remembered what I learned in my coach training.  Don’t get bogged down in the story.  We don’t need the story—we need to know why the story is significant.

First, he was my dad, so that has significance for me.  But, of course, not much for you.  So here are a few things that made my dad unique:

  1. My dad was an immigrant.  He was born in a German community in Romania, and when he was 10 years old, he took the voyage over the Atlantic Ocean with his mother, and four younger brothers, where they landed at Ellis Island.  After their physicals and whatever else they had to do to be admitted to the United States, his aunt met them in New York, and they took a train to St. Louis, Missouri, where they met up with his father, who had prepared for their arrival.


    The Passport Photo

  2. My dad was the oldest of eight children, with seven boys born, before his sister was born.  I think that made him a born leader.  His mother required the boys to wash windows and scrub floors on a consistent basis.  Not only was their home clean, these boys didn’t have a lot of time for mischief, although, my dad did tell a few stories of boyhood mischief.  He also learned a good work ethic.

    Grandma & N clan

    The only photo I have of all the children with their grandmother.  Photo taken approximately 1939 or 1940.

  3. My dad worked for two defense contractors (Curtis Wright and McDonnell Aircraft) Andrew Nothum Army Pvtbefore being drafted into the army during World War 2.  He was a noncombatant, and served as a medic.  His basic training was in Miami Beach, Florida.  He was there for 18 months.  He then was sent to Spokane, Washington, and Riverside, California until he was deployed to New Guinea in the Pacific, where he was stationed until the end of the war.  I don’t know a lot about his army days, but he always thought that young men needed to serve time in the military because it would make a boy into a man (whatever that means).
  4. He was an entrepreneur, and started his construction business in the early 1950’s.  Most of his family of brothers were “self-made men,” who like my dad, “didn’t play well with other children,” and became their own bosses as business owners.  Not only were he and his brothers business owners, they were very successful in their careers.  The American dream was alive and well with this family.  They worked hard to accomplish all that they did.  My dad started small and grew, from park buildings, to  homes, and then to commercial buildings with his specialties being schools and churches.  One can still drive around the St. Louis area and see many of the buildings he constructed.
  5. My dad was complicated, and not an easy person.  I don’t know if it was because of his first ten years in Romania, his being an immigrant and teased at school, or what, but he was not an easy person.  His life focused on business more than anything.  He worked long hours, and because of that, was not involved in his daughters’ lives, such as school functions.  As long as my mom ran the house well, he was hands off in most of our upbringing.  I wish I had a dad more involved, but I did have a dad who supported us well.  We were well fed, had a really nice shelter over our heads, and he paid for our college educations.  I am not complaining at all, but balance would have been nice.


    The only photo I have of our whole family together, circa 1958

  6. My dad mellowed as he got older.  He was widowed at age 74.  He once commented to me that he would not have known how to cook and clean if my mom had not been sick for years.  It was skills he ignored in his young adulthood, which he had to learn later.  Well, maybe his mother, back in the day, taught him the cleaning skills, but he taught himself to be a pretty decent cook.
  7. When I look at photographs of my dad and his family, I am struck at how handsome
    Mathias N 17 yrs

    My dad’s father

    these brothers and their dad were.  I was told that my grandmother called it the “Nothum Curse” because women were always attracted to these handsome men.  There is a “Nothum look” that I cannot explain, but I see photos of cousins and their kids, and most of the boys have these handsome Nothum features.  I think it’s the eyes.

  8. I argued with my dad—a lot.  He was stubborn, and so am I.  We did not see the world the same way.  He had in his head what I should have been, and it was unspoken, but it was spoken when I wasn’t what he thought I should be.  There was a period of time where I didn’t like him at all.  I didn’t think he had my best interests in mind.  Maybe I needed to go into the military so I could have grown up faster.  Over the years I realized that in his way, he had my best in mind.  He didn’t know how to kindly share his dreams for his daughters, and was good at telling us what we did wrong instead of praising us for what we did right, but all in all, he really did want the best for us.  As I have gotten older, I have forgiven him for not being able to express that to us.

My dad passed away in 2010.  He was a few months over 90 years old.  He remarried after my mom died.  He was married to my mom for 53 years, and his second marriage lasted for eleven years until his death.  He moved to Arizona after my mom’s death, where two of his brothers lived.  He outlived those two brothers.  In fact, he outlived all but the three youngest siblings.  

What did I learn from this man?  Some lessons were learned through the negative example, and others through the positive example.

  1. I learned that positive words to my children build up their spirits, rather than telling them what they do wrong.  They, as I did, know what we do wrong.  We don’t need to beat ourselves up any more than what we already do to ourselves.  Because of continually feeling judged by him, I committed to myself to love my children unconditionally.  I don’t always agree with them or their choices, but that does not change my love for them.
  1. Working hard will bring its rewards.  My dad was poor as a child.  He worked hard, started his own business building bathrooms in parks, until he was a player in the commercial building business.  
  1. My dad was self taught—he only went through the 8th grade.  He was smart, and never quit learning.  We had a set of World Book Encyclopedias in our home when I was in grade school.  Every so often he would tell me to go to the bookshelf a pull the letter “B” or another letter of the alphabet—that’s how the encyclopedias were.  Everything you ever wanted to know about anything that started with that letter was in that particular book.  He would sit and read the whole book.IMG_0006
  2. My dad had a crazy sense of humor.  I think along with looking like his side of the family, I got his off the wall humor.  I don’t particularly remember any jokes he told, but he could always make everyone laugh at his antics.


  3. My dad was good at carrying through most promises he made, except for the little stuff he told us as kids.  It may not seem like much, but my dad promised two things we never saw.  The first one was a swing set, and the second one was a playhouse.  He was a building contractor and he would draw pictures of

    My son proudly on his swing set.

    a playhouse, and we would ohh and ahh over the drawings and promises in our heads, but those two things never happened.  When I had my first child, my sister reminded me of the swing set promise, and said she made dad honor it, so I called and asked for the swing set.  The next thing I knew, we had a swing set in our back yard.  I learned if I tell my children if I am going to do something, I just better do it.  Sometimes, I waited to the last minute, because I didn’t want to promise them anything I couldn’t deliver.  So, if I planned a special outing, I didn’t talk about specific plans until I knew we could make them.  I hope I was 100% consistent at this, but I may not have been.  I did my best, and still try to do my best with my kids and grandkids to deliver on my promises.

It is hard to believe if my parents were still alive, my mom would be 101, and my dad would be 100. I have become the “old” person now that they are gone.  That’s such an odd feeling.  Yesterday I was young, and then I woke up and wasn’t!  I still wonder how these years went so quickly.  

I don’t know what my family will say about me when I am gone.  I don’t know if I will have the privilege to become a centenarian.  I don’t know if I will depart this earth much sooner than that.  I just know our parents have an impact on our lives way past their departure.  I suggest to you, as I continually ask myself, what am I leaving for my kids and grandkids to remember about me?  Does my behavior teach them lessons in a positive or negative way?  Something to think about . . . .


The only photo with just me and my dad.

Children with Cancer

Being 70 years old, I see a lot of friends becoming sick.  I recently wrote about losing so many of my classmates.  Although this is sad, nothing bothers me more than hearing about children who are critically ill.

I have been very fortunate that there has been very little major illness in the children in my family and extended family.  I have a nephew, when he was 18 months old, contracted spinal meningitis, was in the hospital for an extended period of time, in very grave condition.  When he recovered, it was discovered that this illness had robbed him completely of his hearing.  He became profoundly deaf.  I know that at first this was quite a challenge for my sister and her family.  He just turned 50 years old this month, and although, he cannot hear, he is a healthy person with a career in IT, married, and the father of five children.  That was the most of any serious childhood illnesses that hit our family.

SAMSIn 2013, I married Dennis and moved to Fulton, Missouri.  Shortly after our marriage, I attended a neighborhood meeting.  One of the neighbors told me that the family next door to me had a child who had been diagnosed with cancer, and they were out of town for his treatment.  I never met Sam.  He passed away from this dreadful disease in 2014.  During Sam’s many hospital stays, he was always focused on the other children in the hospital.  This boy had such a tender heart.  He always prayed for them, and he wanted them to be comfortable.  After his death, his mom, dad, and twin sister start a foundation called, Super Sam Foundation, for fighting childhood cancer.  This sweet family, who just wanted to live a “normal” life, became the catalyst for a foundation that comfort packssupplied comfort packs for sick children, their siblings, and their parents, because it was Sam’s wish to take care of “all the kids.”  Not only that, this small family from this small town, won the hearts of the community and the surrounding communities.  They sponsored a 5k and 1 mile fun run, golf tournaments, corn hole tournaments, and an annual Hope Gala.  The foundation has raised money to actually fund research for childhood cancer.  It is an ongoing issue because not much funding is going to find a cure for childhood cancer.  The foundation annually goes to Washington D.C. to meet with legislators to encourage them to raise the amount of money used for childhood cancer research.

This was new to me.  Through their Facebook page, I read about family after family in mid Missouri, all over the state, and even farther out, of so many children being diagnosed with cancer.  It is hard to read these postings of children in the fight, of parents doing everything they can do to get their child treated, and hoping and praying that their child can be healed.

ribbonIt is heartbreaking to see the the postings of children who have “earned their wings.”  They did not survive this terrible disease.  It is heartbreaking to read about a child who was in remission, to have the cancer return, and return with a vengeance.

I just had no idea that so many children, and so many families were having their lives turned upside-down because of this terrible disease.  Why are so many children getting this disease? When an older person gets cancer, our addle brains think that over the years they have lived in a hazardous area, or smoked, or had some high risk behavior that may have caused this.  But . . .  children?  They aren’t walking around smoking, or living a high risk life.  They are playing with their siblings and friends, going to school, and enjoying life as a child.  Then, BOOM!  They are healthy . . . until they are no longer healthy.

I don’t have answers.  I wish I did.  I do know we live in a broken world, and everything is broken.  So, people get sick, bad things happen everywhere, and I know that this earth is not my permanent home—my permanent home will be in God’s presence for eternity.  There will be no more sickness, danger, or death.  But for now, those things still happen.  



There is not much I can do.  The best I can do is help fund organizations like the Super Sam Foundation.  Five years later, the Santuff family is still fighting for “all the kids.”  What am I doing to help this fight?  What are you doing?  I do know this family is stronger today than they were 6 years ago.  But they are strong without one of their loved ones.  That shouldn’t happen.  

The other day I opened my Facebook account, and the Super Sam


Sam & Ava

Foundation had a post on their Facebook page, of which I am a follower.  Today posted was a paper that Sam’s twin sister, Ava, wrote about Sam.  I don’t know if it was a paper she wrote for school, or just one she wrote because it was on her heart.  It is a love story about Sam, and his super powers, and that in the end he is healthy in the presence of God.  It is probably one of the sweetest things I have read in a long time.  This girl is only eleven years old.  I cannot wait to read her book when she is an adult—she writes so well, and can teach us so much.  I got permission to post her paper.  Please read it.  Please think about how you want to fight this evil disease.  Please pray for all the kids and the families that are in the fight today, and really pray for those families who have a hole in their family with the loss of their child.  Here is Ava’s paper:

“Live On”

A Tall, yet all too real, Tale written by: Ava


1 S&A

Sam & Ava

There was once a great evil. It was almighty and everlasting. There was also a fun-loving, and pure hearted little boy, Sam. He was a normal boy, with a mom, dad, a twin sister, and a big family that loved him very much.

One day he was on an adventure, gathering black berries for his family. When he came home in his lightning fast race car he noticed he had something in his nose. He thought it was just a big booger, but it was nothing close to it. It was the evil. A shard of the evil had gotten into his nose.

After a couple days his family had decided to take him to see a wizard that would be able to help him with the shard of evil. The wizard told the boy that he had that shard of evil running through his body. He was very lucky though, because he had been brought in very early and that he was going to be okay.

The small but strong boy went into a room were a group of wizards would try to remove the shard from his nose.



Once he came out, he was good and healthy. It was all good again, and everything was normal again… until everything wasn’t.

He had found that the evil had spread to his bones. It was the start of the Great War, Good vs Evil. It would be Sam against the great evil that was lurking within him.

Sam had been in the battle for a couple months now. He was very strong and courageous. He also had friends, sidekicks, and his twin sister to help him fight. As if the fight wasn’t hard enough, the poison killing the evil was also killing his hair and energy.

1 Super Sam FSam had many superpowers. About half way through the war Sam had obtained the nickname of “Super Sam”. He was so smart he could solve any equation. His strength was incredible, he had the ability to lift up houses, buildings, and juggle them in the sky while flying. But the best super power he had was his ability to make his twin sister clean his room for him.

Super Sam was fighting so hard, he swinging his sword of blue flaming lightning, and it could slice through a great white shark like cutting paper with scissors. And firing his arrows that were so sharp they could shoot through twelve mountains. But it wasn’t enough. The evil had a secret weapon though, it was a snake, it was the size of a worm with venom that could kill armies and armies of men. It was invincible. But Sam had a way about him that was so stubborn that he wouldn’t let the worm sized snake win the Great War.

Ava w: signHe had beaten it. The pure hearted, strong and kind boy had won it. But it took such a great deal of energy to swing his sword of flaming lightning that he had to retreat back to the one he loves most, God. Super Sam was a hero to all who have known him. Sam was so strong and powerful and he was such a good person he deserved to go to a place with no suffering or pain, only joy and happiness.

And as for me, Sam’s twin sister, I can say that the Great War of 2014 was terrifying, but Sam was so brave and strong he rightfully won it. And now he deserves to be drinking orange smoothies and eating boxes and boxes of plain cheese pizza. Though my one minute younger brother went up upon the stars unlike I had expected, he still will always be in my heart. So live on Super Sam.

I hope this doesn’t seem shocking to you, but there are just too many kids suffering with this awful disease called cancer.  It needs to be stopped in its tracks.  I am grateful to the Santuff family for their commitment to fighting childhood cancer, and for being a source of encouragement to families going through this journey.

How can you help?

  • Pray for these kids.
  • Pray for these families, parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
  • Donate if you can to some organization that helps fund research and care.  If you don’t know one, try the Super Sam Foundation.

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