The gift of love is the best Christmas gift one could want

IRON MOUNTAIN — For weeks, my husband has been asking me what I want for Christmas. My mother, too. Every year we have this struggle, because every year, I really don’t know what I want. I usually only want a few things, and then because they’re so small or so odd, I tend to forget them before I ask for them. Last year, I asked for a cast iron skillet, but that was all I could think of wanting, and that want was more out of need. This year, I actually did write a list, because on a particularly slow day at work, I decided to look up on the computer “popular gifts for 2018,” and found a few things I liked, and so I gave that list to my mom, but she promptly lost it and I couldn’t actually remember what had been on it to begin with.

This has been a problem of mine since I was a child — never knowing what I wanted — and it always had “consequences.” A few weeks ago, my mom, sister, aunt and myself all went to dinner, and we were chuckling about how I’d actually given mom a list, but when she lost it I’d forgotten it. And when my aunt asked us who we thought had received the worst Christmas gifts in our family, everyone pointed their finger at me, and we laughed as I recounted some of the “all-time lows” of Christmas.

When I was about 10, I had a rough Christmas — while all my cousins opened up their iPods and cameras, I opened up a suitcase. All week, I had eyed the biggest box under the tree that had my name on it, until I saw what was inside. When we were kids, all of the cousins used to do a Christmas exchange, and my brothers always got the coolest gifts, like Legos and Packers gear and remote-control helicopters — but me, I got a “sew your own hat” kit, pen pal from El Salvador, and a manikin.

Don’t worry mom — these stories are pure hilarity at this point in my life, and I haven’t been scarred for all eternity. But as a kid, these gifts definitely left something to be desired. However, as my mom said, I really did it to myself, because I never knew what I wanted.

Part of that, though, is that I liked to be surprised. After finally rewriting out my Christmas list for my mom and husband, I realized I wasn’t as excited about it as I should’ve been because I kind of knew what I would be getting. I liked when I didn’t know — but when I didn’t know, I was also always disappointed.

See, aside from those few gifts that were disappointing to a child, I also received amazing presents. When I was 5, I received my first American Girl Doll, and the photo capturing the utter joy I felt is one for the ages. In high school, my mother got me the KitchenAid mixer that I still have in my kitchen today, and when I turned 13, my grandma got me a leather jacket and in that moment I had never felt more grown up.

As an adult, the gift aspect of Christmas matters less to me. I don’t really care what I get for Christmas, I just like being with my family. I like making Christmas cookies with my grandma and wrapping packages with my mom as we watch the Hallmark channel. I love playing in the snow with my sister and swimming in the pool with my cousins, and I can never get enough Bing Crosby to save my life. I love knowing that after Christmas dinner, we all will put our paper crowns on and read really corny jokes and that on Christmas Eve we’ll sing “The 12 Days of Christmas” song horribly off-key. These are the parts of Christmas that I love. These are the gifts that don’t come with a receipt and should never be returned.

Dec. 3 marked the anniversary of my husband’s and my engagement, and I shared a photo of that night on my Facebook page with the caption, “Two years later and I’m still wearing the same smile” — my friend commented on it and said, “So many people say Hallmark movies are unachievable; I disagree. You are proof, my friend. Girl goes to Ivy league school, girl graduates, girl moves to Chicago to teach inner-city kids, girl returns to her small hometown with her one person, girl marries her best friend, girl opens boutique/Hallmark store, girl achieves Hallmark movie.” My husband and I had a good laugh, but her words touched me.

In the last year — really, the last several years — Rob and I have had some unfortunate events. The gifts of life have been somewhat like the horror gifts of Christmas past — they weren’t asked for, and they weren’t always wanted, but nevertheless, they were given — and it took a newfound friend to point out that despite the hardships we’ve gone through, our life was pretty great. I had never put my experiences into a perspective like that — was my life really like a movie, or rather, are all our lives in some way like a movie; we just have to choose to see the experiences that have brought us to where we are? She knew my life wasn’t perfect, but the milestones that got me where I am today mapped out a wonderful existence. It’s true. I’ve never been good at knowing what I want for Christmas, but I know what I want from life. I want love. I want family and faith. I want authenticity.

As I sat on my couch this week, with the glow of my Christmas tree in the corner and my three boys (hubby, kitty and puppy) all quietly sleeping on the couch beside me, I felt more at peace than I ever knew I could. In that moment, I had everything I could ever ask for. I had love, family, faith and authenticity. Christmas is about receiving and giving, yes, but it’s also just a day and time of year. It’s not your forever existence. It’s not about what you get or what you have. It’s about how you choose to be with what you get and what you have. That manikin that made its debut on that Christmas morning so long ago? It’s now in my store, and it’s a beautiful reminder that sometimes the things we never thought we needed had a purpose all along. In the Hallmark movie of your own life, let the materialistic wants of your mind fall away, so that you can see the genuine desires of your heart.

As Charlie Brown says, “It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree that matters. It’s who’s around it.”




Scenes and sounds, 11:45 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

Sunday: Uno, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Pretty nails, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; line dancers, 1:30 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Reminisce, 11 a.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.; craft, 3 p.m.; laundry day, 4 p.m.; dinner theater, 5 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 10 a.m.; Bible study, 11 a.m.; puppy visits, 1 p.m.; Crystal Hogan, 2 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1 p.m.; Golden K bingo, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; Daily News, 11 a.m.; spinning records, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Room visits, 1 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Exercise, 11 a.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Sunday: One-to-one church visitor, 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.; how do you feel?, 10 a.m.; bingorama, 2 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Memory books, 9:30 to 3 p.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; VFW bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Kids visit, 9 a.m.; Mass, 10 a.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; holiday movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee social, 10 a.m.; smart shoppers, 10 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; gifts from Santa, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; shopping trip, 12:30 p.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; Christ United, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; Santa’s elves, 1:15 p.m.; cards and wrapping, 1:15 p.m.; holiday movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Puzzler, 10 a.m.; reminisce, 10 a.m.; geri gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m. daily.

Movie, 10:45 a.m. daily, and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Gathering place, 11:40 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 11:40 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Popcorn Day Fridays.

Protestant Church service, 3 p.m. Sunday.

Exercises, 10 a.m. daily.

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; company’s coming room visits, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Did you know?, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; Lutheran church, 2 p.m.; movie and a manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Remembering when, 10:15 a.m.; monthly birthday party/Golden Throats entertain, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; K bingo, 2 p.m.; magic moments, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: ABC game, 10:15 a.m.; Mass, 2 p.m.; chips n’ chatter, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Parachute, 1:30 p.m. daily.

Monthly support group for grief and loss, 2 p.m. second Monday of the month.

Weekend pet visits.

Sunday: Rosary, 8:30 a.m.; Mass, 9 a.m.; bingo, 10:15 a.m.; tailgate party: Packers vs. Falcons, 1 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.

Monday: Christmas cookies, 10:15 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Men’s breakfast, 7 p.m.; bingo, 10:15 a.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; Yahtzee, 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; coffee and trivia, 10:15 a.m.; jokereno, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; bunko, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattergories and hot cocoa, 10:15 a.m.; derby day, 2 p.m.; family night, 6:15 p.m.

Friday: Exercise, 10:15 a.m.; Christmas stories, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Jokereno, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; Yahtzee, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Coffee clutch, 9:30 a.m. daily

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Packers vs. Falcons, noon; Bible study, 2:30 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Wheel of Fortune, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Christmas party, 6 p.m.

Friday: Christmas program, 1 p.m.

Saturday: Suzuki piano players, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; Packers vs. Atlanta, noon

Monday: Bingo with Bette, 10 a.m.; Girl Scout caroling, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Chair exercise, 10 a.m.; ornament display by Valri, 2:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Christmas craft, 10 a.m.; basketball team visit, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.

Friday: Catholic church service, 10 a.m.; music with Jan and Gino, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; flippo, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Life connections, 9:45 a.m. every Monday.

Busy bee, 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Rosary 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; sensory, 10:30 a.m.; Packer party, noon; Lutheran service, 2 p.m.; Phase 10, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Worship and communion service, 1:30 p.m.; rosary, 2:30 p.m.; bowling, 3:30 p.m.; Scrabble, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Resident Council, 10:30 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; Scattergories, 3:30 p.m.; Uno, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Shopping outing, 10:30 a.m.; family/resident Christmas party with Jim Clements, 2 p.m.; rummy, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday: Christmas movie, 10 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; “Sorry” board game, 6 p.m.

Friday: Mass, 10 a.m.; happy hour, 2 p.m.; fish fry outing, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; coffee social, 10:30 a.m.; mind joggers, 2 p.m.; sensory, 3:30 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month.

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m.

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


Meals will be served on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 5 p.m., with the salad bar opening at 4:30 p.m. The dinner donation is $5 for age 60 and older and $6 for those younger than 60. There is a $1 charge for take-out containers. All are invited.

Cribbage will be played at 1 p.m. Wednesdays and be concluded in time for dinner.

Monday: Soup, salad, spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, and homemade dessert.

Tuesday: Soup, salad, liver and onions, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, and homemade dessert.

Wednesday: Soup, salad, Reuben sandwiches, homemade french fries, and homemade dessert.

The center is closed Thursday through Sunday.

A blood pressure reading can be taken by request at any time while the center is open.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

(Continued from page 6-A)

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free.

Dances take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. Admission is $6; coffee is free.

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.

Evening meals are usually on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with the meal served at 4:30 p.m. A donation of $4 is accepted for seniors age 60 and older but not required.

Home-delivered meals are for seniors 60 and older can be delivered seven days a week. Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235. For transportation, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60.

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48 hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

The four senior dining locations are:

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal at noon Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Jigsaw puzzles, cards, cribbage and board games are available. The coffee is always on as well.

Tipler Town Hall


Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Jigsaw puzzles, cribbage, cards and board games are available. The coffee is always on as well.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60.

Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60.

Thursday meal, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner at 4:30 p.m.

Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235. For transportation, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule


Senior center director: Jill Anderson

715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday.

Transportation to the meal site from the Niagara, Wis., area is offered.

They welcome any senior groups that would like to use the meal site as a meeting place — join them for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time.

Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play.

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome.

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea, and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50.

If Norway-Vulcan Area schools are closed due to snow, so is the senior center. If the schools are on a two-hour delay, the center remains open.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

A senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Telephone reassurance is available for any senior who doesn’t get out much and would like a friendly daily phone check to see that all is well.

Monday — Center board meeting, 10 a.m.

Tuesday — CSFP (green card) food distribution, 8:30 to 9 a.m. at the old Northland building.

Tuesday — “Welcome Winter” dinner with beef stroganoff, egg noodles, peas, carrots, soup, salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert. Bingo and prizes with 50-50 also available; sign up early.

Note: A CSFP food card (green card) is available to income-eligible seniors. Make an appointment to get signed up. File of Life packets available at the center.

Note: Ask about the Medicare Savings Program. This program helps people pay their Medicare part B premium. You may be eligible. The local MMAP counselor can be reached at 1-800-803-7174, or dial 211.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m.

Cards: Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday.

Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months.

A puzzle table is available to enjoy.

Volunteers are always welcome.