Christmas Conspiracy

Earl and Mooch

Earl and Mooch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blessed is the season which engages the whole word in a conspiracy of Love!” ~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

I found these words of Christmas holiday wisdom on the Daily Comics page in my local daily, The Windsor Star. It was in the comic strip “Mutts” by Patrick McDonnell, and the one frame strip had an illustration of a dog and cat hugging while perched on the back of a chair looking out onto the world through a window.

Winter Landscape Illustration

Winter Landscape Illustration (Photo credit: pavlinajane)

I wish all of you peace and harmony and love (to go along with the hustle and bustle of the season and the occasional argument and alcohol induced outburst).

Happy Christmas Eve Day.

A Christmas “Like”

Confession (film)

Confession (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I feel a confession coming on, and since it is Christmas I think that all my blog friends will forgive me. Sometimes I hit “like” just to say hi. I read your posts 90% of the time; okay 75% of the time, but sometimes when I am in a rush I just want to acknowledge you and your friendship—so I hit “like”. Sometimes I hit “like” when I have nothing to add; and on occasion I hit “like” to let you know that I was there and support you.

Please forgive me. I find myself wrapped up in a lot of “to-dos” which should be “already-dones” so my free time has been limited of late. I would not come by if I did not care—so for that 25% of the time that I do not give you my full attention—remember I am thinking of you anyway.

And as a side note–I owe a few of you some replies to your comments – I am on it.

Do you ever “like” just to say hi?

Published in: on December 23, 2013 at 5:43 pm  Comments (30)  
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The Sunday Before

Christmas Caroling Students

Christmas Caroling (Photo credit: Lower Columbia College)

The glow of Christmas

Shines bright as the day draws near

Sing Hallelujah!

Published in: on December 22, 2013 at 4:40 pm  Comments (7)  
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Joy to the Messiness of Christmas

christmas morning!

christmas morning! (Photo credit: Nikki McLeod)


“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.
Don’t clean it up too quickly.” ~ Andy Rooney

 Christmas is meant to be messy—it is a combination of all those things that make it slightly chaotic, happily disordered, and a bit muddled. There are those who may succeed in putting order in the holiday season—with napkins folded in reindeer shapes, festive name plates creatively crowning every plate, and a gourmet dinner cooked flawlessly for shining happy faces around the dining room table. Impeccable manners are displayed and the conversation is articulate, with no hint of religion, politics, or money.

          Beautifully wrapped gifts are opened carefully, the paper whisked away before it hits the floor, and expressions of gratitude greet every well-chosen present. Tasteful Christmas sweaters are worn with flare, and well-mannered children sit quietly awaiting their turn to open the bounty provided by Santa.

          …………………..Okay, now for a little reality. What I have described above may have happened on the Christmas shows carefully orchestrated in days of yore, (think Bing Crosby Christmas specials) and Martha Stewart may still bring some order to the holidays (though we really don’t know—Christmas Day may be one of havoc, turmoil and mayhem at her house too) but as for me and mine—we start out carefully unwrapping our gifts, but it soon becomes a frenzy of paper torn off with abandon, and bows tossed aside to reveal the prize of the day. Later we are left scrambling to find instructions and batteries among the tissue paper and flotsam and jetsam of Christmas unwrapped.

          I strive to produce a gourmet meal (having watched one too many shows on the Food Network), but we are all satisfied with what is eventually the outcome of my labours—some years it is overcooked prime rib, others a butchered turkey (this year I am going to use an electric knife bestowed on me by a friend—so hopefully it will not look like I wrestled with the meat). Generally the meal tastes pretty good and it is always saved by dessert. Those who gather around my table are generally well-mannered, but voices do get raised in passion, and perhaps a wine glass gets knocked over (usually by me as I am a klutz). But I contend that it is the “mess” of Christmas that makes it festive; it is the confusion and jumble and tangle of the whole event that is what makes memories.

          Christmas is not meant to be perfect—after all it is celebrated by people, and who do you know that is perfect? I love the noise of happy kids—their exuberance and joy at a holiday they can barely believe is happening makes one rethink what is important. I always have the sugarplum of a perfect Christmas dancing in my head, stress out to make sure that everything is impeccable–then I come to the realization that the Christmas we celebrate this year will be just right—despite arguments, unwanted presents, and overcooked meat. Life has its peccadilloes and so does Christmas.

         

June and Ward Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley and...

June and Ward Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thinking that Christmas will not suffer from some turmoil is unrealistic—remember even June and Ward Cleaver had to put up with Beaver’s antics and Eddie’s caustic charm. Christmas does not solve the world’s problems per se, but for a few moments it can put them on hold and we can bask in the glow of our Christmas trees, the warmth of our families, and enjoy all the special foods and drinks and presents that help make the season merry.

          My fervent wish for all of you is that you can take some time out this Christmas to enjoy what the season has to offer. I leave you with these wise words from W.J. Tucker (my addition is in brackets):

          “For centuries men (and women) have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home.” ~ from Pulpit Preaching

          Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ~ may you find joy in this holiday season!

The Other Side of Greed

Money cash

Money  (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

WordPress Krista asked today: “What is your least favourite personal quality in others? Extra points for sharing your least favourite personal quality in yourself.”

 My least favourite quality in others is greed. It is also my least favourite quality in myself. I have trained myself to be generous, but I have to admit that though I love to give, I also love to receive.

I was talking to a friend yesterday who said that someone he knows and respects posted on Facebook that Christmas to her is no longer wanting things, but being grateful for things. I would like to join her league—but this friend and I have not been quite as fortunate in life moneywise as the person who posted on Facebook. We both laughed and he said—“Yeah, Peace on earth and goodwill to man, but I would be grateful for a new truck.”

People who make wide sweeping statements such as “I don’t want anything for Christmas”, or “I am just happy being grateful for all I have” forget that others are not as fortunate as they are. I sometimes think that my brush with poverty has made me more aware that not everyone has a silver spoon in their drawer (I do, but my silver was inherited). I am more compassionate now and more willing to give to Missions who feed the homeless, having come close to walking in the shoes of the less fortunate. I am lucky to have family and friends who helped me and my family through some rough times saving us from a dire situation. Not all people are so lucky. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Have you ever had something unfortunate happen that taught you some lessons?

Published in: on December 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm  Comments (8)  
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What Is Your Reason for the Season?

christmas 2007

(Photo credit: paparutzi)

 My weekly newspaper column:

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

 It is hot (as in 40 degrees C) in Australia right now, which could explain why a blog friend of mine has decided to discard Christmas for the time being. But her real reasons are far beyond the discomfort of the heat.  Her husband is in a nursing home with advanced Parkinson’s; her teenage son has back surgery on Tuesday; the same son was in an awful accident not too long ago which put several of his younger cousins in the hospital — he has been charged and must go to court and may face jail—all because he was trying to give them a bit of fun; her stove has stopped working so there is nowhere to cook the turkey; and she just cannot face the added pressure of shopping and decorating and cooking for Christmas. When she broached the subject with her son, he agreed—in light of all that was going on in their lives, Christmas was not a bright light, but a responsibility which overshadowed their joy.

         

English: First Omagh Presbyterian Church - Mid...

Presbyterian Church –  Taken at noon on Christmas Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

   They did make one concession though. They are going to go to church on Christmas. My first reaction when I read of their decision to forego the splash that is Christmas was one of pity, and I could not help but think about what they would miss out on. But are they really missing out? They have made a decision to celebrate what they truly believe Christmas is about—the spirituality, and erase all the extras, except for a visit from the son’s grandma which was his one concession to the season.

            I love the hurly burliness of the Christmas season and even when I have had to face the loss of some of those closest to me at the “happiest” time of the year, I have been able to celebrate, though a bit more sombrely and with a little less sparkle.  I find the Christmas season cheers me up—there is something in the air and it seems merrily contagious.  For the most part people are kinder, they smile more, and they greet friends and family and even strangers a bit more heartily. The lights on our trees and houses and decorations bring a brightness to an otherwise dark time of year.

            I love all the things Christmas—but I understand when the pressure to create a perfect holiday makes it less than merry and bright. Some people find blessings in the spirituality of the season and like my Australian friend this year discard what they think of as the commercialization and crassness of Christmas. I embrace the spirituality of the season, but the others parts of Christmas are close to my heart too. Yes, Christmas has been commercialized, but we can make our choice as to the extent we want that aspect to enter into our celebrations.

          

Cover of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole...

Cover via Amazon

  I think Dr. Seuss had something when he had the Grinch (of How the Grinch Stole Christmas fame) reflect on what Christmas was all about. This excerpt from the book (and movie of the same name) says it all: “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

            Humourist Dave Barry puts a little different perspective on the whole question of Christmas, and though skewed for laughs, he covers several bases:“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall’!”

            Only you can answer the question of the meaning of Christmas and only you can decide how to celebrate it.  I am kind of partial to how President Calvin Coolidge defined it on Christmas Day, 1927 in his Presidential address: “Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

What does Christmas mean to you?

Christmas spirit is………….

“Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.” ~ Edna Ferber

Christmas is a feeling—one so strong you can reach out and touch it, savour it, respond to it. When we talk about Christmas spirit, I imagine a diaphanous spectre with gossamer wings, but in truth:

Detail of original engraving "The Hours&q...

 gossamer wings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Spirit of Christmas

Cloaks our soul in warmth and love

Safely swaddling us ~

What do you think Christmas spirit is?

Sights and Sounds and Smells of Christmas

“All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur—this lovely world, these precious days…” ~ from Charlotte’s Web

The sights and sounds and smells of Christmas are what make the holiday come to life.

English: By Richard Wheeler (Zephyris) 2007.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My favourite sights are:

1. Lit Christmas trees laden with decorations.

2. The excitement of little kids when they get something they really wanted. I still remember my youngest son dancing and jumping up and down with excitement when he received a Fisher Price castle with all its accoutrements—it was pure joy and happiness.

3. A present with my name on it—(I know it is better to give than receive, but admit it—we all like to receive).

My favourite sounds are:

1. The tinkle of jingle bells in the distance.

2. Choirs singing beloved Christmas carols.

3. Laughter at Christmas get-togethers.

English: A cinnamon roll with glaze

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My favourite smells are:

1. Stuffing or dressing—does not matter to me if it is inside or outside the turkey.

2. Ginger.

3. Cinnamon buns.

What are your favourite sights and sounds and smells of Christmas?

Tidings of Great Joy

Christmas illustration

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is Monday, so it must be my weekly newspaper column–hope you enjoy:

        “The Christmas tree?  All Christmas trees are perfect.” –  Charles N. Barnar

My Christmas spirit is intact. My Christmas tree is up and I wonder now what took me so long. If I remembered more clearly each year how much I love having the tree up, I would probably put it up in mid-October. I am thinking it is a good thing my memory is so poor on this particular point—even I would get tired of having a tree up for two and a half months.

          Everyone has a different tradition when it comes to putting up their tree. Those who go the traditional “real” tree route have no choice but to put their tree up a little later as a tree bare of its needles is none too festive on Christmas Day—and that is what happens if you put them up too early. I have not had a real tree for years but I do remember the daily watering and finding needles hidden in the carpet in July—neither of which adds to the charm of a real tree for me. But the smell, the smell is wonderful—which is why I have a wreath of real spruce branches on my door—I can go and stiff it at my leisure, and enjoy it as John Geddes describes the scent beautifully in A Familiar Rain: “freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin – inhale deeply and fill your soul….”

          I consider the tree I put up a “real” tree in the sense that it carries the weight of Christmases past, the joy of Christmas present, and the probability that it will still be around for Christmas future. It is not one of those more expensive ready-lit trees; it is old, the branches are a bit unwieldy, and though sparse I have the tree in a corner and have trained the branches to curve to the front, so it looks much fuller than it really is.

          The tree is always dressed to the hilt—decorations drip from every branch and at the top is a little wooden plaque that I attach to a gold wicker star that declares: “Memories are made every Christmas.” Below it is a beautiful oval ceramic decoration given to me by my sister that purveys the sentiments of the season: “Behold I bring you tidings of great joy.”

          I understand that Christmas does not bring everyone joy. I am fortunate in that even though I have lost dear ones at Christmas, known of people who have had to deal with great tragedies during this festive season,  and had to deal with troubles of my own—the season brings a respite of sorts for me. I know it does not serve everyone this way—as I said, I am fortunate. (Living in temporary denial helps a lot—somehow I have the capacity to put reality on the back burner for a while.)

         

christmas tree with honest to goodness real ca...

christmas tree with honest to goodness real candles (Photo credit: ambienttraffic)

I remember reading books about Christmases past, in the days when the Christmas tree was not put up until Christmas Eve, and the crowning glory came when the lights were turned on (or lit during more historical and need I say it, dangerous times) for the first time. I love that tradition but not enough to relive it myself.  Amidst the daily grind, I enjoy being able to feast my eyes on something that takes me out of the moment and into a pleasant reverie.

          Last night I sat in the living room with all the lights out except for those on the tree—and the word magical sprang to mind. Transforming what is essentially a Charlie Brown Christmas tree into a thing of beauty is truly mystical. And that is highly representative of the season—it is mystical in the way it transforms even Scrooge attitudes into Tiny Tim’s way of thinking.

          Christmas does not solve all our problems but the season and its meaning, whether spiritual or secular (or both) gives us something to hang on to. There are those who believe that the “reason for the season” is not given enough air time; but I think that the feelings derived from Christmas do not have to be limited.

          There seems to be a controversy over whether one should say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. I am not entering the fray—I will stick with Merry Christmas but happily respond to Happy Holidays. At this time of year we should practice tolerance and not get in a snit—stick to your guns and expect others to respect your viewpoint. Problem solved.

          I leave you now humming “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”, dispersed with a little “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” while listening for some “sleigh bells in the snow.”

Christmas Spirit Captured

christmas spirit

christmas spirit (Photo credit: spapax)

The wing chair has been moved from its usual spot to clear a space for the Christmas tree. I have vacuumed the sacred spot and ruined the lives of a few spiders and dust bunnies. Someone is taking a nap on the couch, and son number two is “just checking his emails” so I await a rested husband and an up to date son to help me deck my halls.

I am determined to get the tree up today. It is long past due according to my inner holiday calendar but unexpected  life events sometime takes precedence. It is important to get the tree up, to ensconce it in lights, and trim it in ornaments that have been nestled in their boxes for lo these eleven months.

I have decorated many a Christmas tree and no longer fuss about hiding the cords on the lights as I know that once it is trimmed that will not matter. I cannot wait to bask in just the glow of the tree lights  tonight  and dream about Christmases past and enjoy Christmas present. Christmas future I will leave to take care of itself.

I have now caught the Christmas spirit. She was being a bit slippery this year, but I finally struggled with the demonic powers that were scaring her away and won. My victory, though hard won is intact and I am ready for whatever the holiday season throws my way.

christmas paint

(Photo credit: cassie_bedfordgolf)

Did you have any trouble summoning your Christmas spirit this year?

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