Mina has been asking for a Barbie doll lately and her mother has been resisting. Mina has many dolls already!

Gramma has a box of Barbies at her house. They are mostly dolls I bought very cheaply at Value Village back in the days when I was running a community centre. One evening, while on FaceTime I showed them to Mina. Of course, she wants them!

In order to stay as close as possible to her mother’s good side, I decided to give one doll to Mina, Skipper – this doll was her favourite when I showed them to her. Her Uncle Simon and Auntie Chrissie will be carrying it to California for her birthday.skipper

I did a little research online and found that this model was created in 1967. She is in pretty good shape for such an old girl, wouldn’t you say?

Another special doll in my box is the one I bought myself. My parents didn’t have money for buying toys so I saved hard and finally had the $3.50 or so that she cost back in about 1967 or 8. I believe she is a “vintage standard” model –

Here is Barbie wearing the crocheted dress I made for her a number of years ago:


Christmas Eve Dedication

In the Mennonite Church babies are not baptized, adults are. However, we do have a Parent/Child Dedication service. As part of the Christmas Eve service at Bloomingdale Mennonite Church (after the ice storm put an end to Sunday’s service) my little grandson, Volker William Burkard Gehiere was dedicated with his parents and the whole congregation.

Text written by Trina, read by Gary:

“I think when we name our children the names we chose are often really wishes we would like to bestow upon them. There is something that speaks to us in the name that we want to pass to our child, it may be frivolous or psychological but there is something.
In the case of our little boy it is more so the latter. The wishes are many and varied but most if not all go back to the name and the man he was named for, his grandfather, Volker Willi Walter Burkard. We wish him to be kind and compassionate with a great sense of humour, a maker, someone with a wonderful spiritual life, a beautiful loving person.
Today I hope we are helping him in some small way fulfill those wishes.”

Barb Smith-Morrison’s blessing as she carried Volker through the congregation:

Volker, God loves you. May you grow to love God and to serve humanity. May the gracious Spirit of Christ and the fellowship of God’s people bless your life this day and all days.

The congregation’s commitment:

Gary and Trina, we support your calling as parents and accept our calling to love, support and encourage you. We offer the gift of ourselves, our lives and example to nurture your family as you grow.
Volker and Mina, we pledge you our care and love. We promise to encourage you as you grow into all that God has created you to be. We welcome you.

The ‘true’ story of Christmas

There is a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth. Maya Angelou

Does it really matter if the Christmas story is factual? If a pregnant Mary really rode on a donkey and gave birth in a stable? If shepherds did, in fact, see choirs of angels? If a star actually guided Wise Men to the infant?

The truth, for Christians, is that God truly experienced human life, not as a king or a mighty warrior, but as a vulnerable baby born to a teenage mom, a refugee, one of the undeserving poor.

Growing up in a farming family of ten kids Christmas was not the commercial venture it is now. We rarely had a Christmas tree, though we did have a few decorations and lights. We also had a creche (which did not survive ten children). A Christmas Eve tradition was listening to a dramatized Christmas story on a LP record. My mother, who had two babies at the beginning of January did not enjoy thinking of riding a donkey in her state! We may each have received a gift (before we reached our teen years), and we all received a plate of candy, nuts, an orange and grapes — a wonderful treat! — on Christmas morning.

Burkard family creche
Burkard family creche


My in-laws had quite different customs. I learned there about Advent and Advent candles. When Volker was young it was the Christ Child who came on Christmas Eve while the family was at church and left behind a beautiful tree and gifts. His family too had a creche, but it was not touched by children.


When Simon was born I decided I wanted a creche that children could play with. When he was two years old I found a pattern in a magazine and over the next several years I made the pieces.

Small friends play with the creche
Small friends play with the creche


I have since lost the pattern, but these little bean-bag dolls have been played with by many children over the years. (A dear friend from the Middle East refers to the shepherds and Wise Men as the Mullahs and Ayatollahs.) I am so thrilled that now my grandchildren will also have that opportunity.