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Christmas

51xw909pyml__sx258_bo1204203200_Christmas Day, 2016, has come and gone. All the weeks of anticipation, shopping, food planning and preparation, writing and sending out Christmas cards, presents wrapped, and secrets whispered to Santa Claus, are some of the traditions of this celebration.

I am always amused when I hear people speak of the charm of an old fashioned Christmas because I was born early enough, and poor enough, to appreciate what an old fashioned Christmas really is. If we had to put the forethought and preparation into it, Christmas would under go a speedy metamorphosis that would give a picture more reminiscent of life in the late 1940’s through to the 1990’s of that nostalgic old fashioned Christmas. I am thankful I don’t have to raise a turkey, then, when the time is right, chop off it’s head, clean it out and pick off it’s feathers.  The same applies to geese or any other fowl, whether tame or wild .  I appreciate the opportunity to purchase a turkey that has been flash frozen and sealed in plastic for my protection. About the only old fashioned thing about my Christmas turkey is the stuffing.

I still make stuffing the way my mother taught me and she learned from her mother and so on down through the generations.  I still use the same ingredients and method and like it enough to shove my hand, full of the uncooked dressing, through the bottom end of the bird and stuff it’s hollowed out carcass until it is ready to fall out the other end.

Just imagine the gifts; I do not embroider hankies for my daughters, they use disposable tissues. I do not knit socks for my husband or son, as they are quite content to grab a package of 10 pair for $4.99 or other ‘bargain bin’ find.

Gift buying had it’s limits. Debt was not even considered at an old fashioned Christmas, this is one tradition that needs to be reintroduced.  Our family tradition is ‘three gifts for each one because Jesus got three gifts from the Wise Men.’ I am finding the new guidelines of four things for each, one thing they want, one thing they need, a book and one thing to do, an excellent guideline as well, and it helps budgets because it sets limits. .

The dream of an old fashioned Christmas can still be built into our memories when the TV and electronics are turned off and activities are carried out instead. Things like board games, cards, skating, tobogganing, and talking,  are enjoyed instead. It is about time together, shared experiences and a lot of laughter that create those memories that we will remember as an old fashioned Christmas.

 

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Really?

I wrote a post about Christmas and how it is celebrated by different people and customs. I got a message that the author felt they must tell me that it all evolved from imageszyixe3hoa pagan festival. The celebration of light returning was an excellent teaching opportunity for the church. In Christian faith the light coming into the world is Jesus, from whom we gain salvation in the world darkened by sin. Most people of that time were illiterate and very superstitious so why not use this time of year to turn a pagan festival into one that teaches how Christ is the light of the Christian faith.  Who cares when the “real” birthdate of Jesus was? It really does not matter, the lesson in hope and salvation was made in a time when people could ‘see’ the light and ‘see’ the escape from darkness (ignorance).

 

Christmas Pudding

l56756-the-grinch-logo-65964I enjoy Christmas and all the fuss and busyness of the season. I have an Advent calendar, an Advent wreath and Advent candles. I do Advent devotions and attend Christmas church services.  I also hang stockings for Santa Claus to fill with goodies and presents under the decorated Christmas tree. I have a foot in both the religious and secular world during this season.

Some would say you can’t have it both ways and to them I say, “Yes I can and will.”  Never has a season that is viewed as a time of peace ever been so controversial. What gives people? Everyone clamouring to be right. Guess what? You are right no matter how you celebrate Christmas.

I have a dear friend who raised her children with a religious view of Christmas and her children knew the presents came from the parents. My children knew this was a time to celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus but they also believed that Santa Claus left the presents and filled their stockings.  Guess what? All the children were happy and excited about Christmas and overjoyed at the gifts they received.

My point is, no matter how you celebrate in your family, it is the right way for you and yours. These squabbles over how it should be celebrated, if it should be celebrated and when it should be celebrated (for my Orthodox friends) it is right.

Traditions seem to be dying out faster than hand written letters but it is just those very traditions that keep us connected to the past and with our ancestors. I 12373398_1054530267900672_8302093150560862531_nhave an old, patterned, heavy glass dish I got when my Mother passed away. She got it from my Grandma and she got it from my late Great Grandmother.

It was the dish that was always reserved to hold the cranberry sauce at special family gatherings such as Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.  I do the same. Another tradition that has evolved over the years is for Grandma to give presents to the grandchildren to open on Christmas Eve, each one containing a new pair of washed pyjamas and a new book, paper dolls, movie or other quiet activity.

So no matter how you celebrate, or even whether you celebrate, lets agree we all need a time out to sit back and think about peace and how we can do our part to make it happen.

November

4f63f52b28d212439408bbc7f186b563The countdown for Christmas is officially on in our home. Our village has Christmas Capers the last Saturday of November where vendors sell their wares in our community hall.  Our local Lion’s club serves up a pancake breakfast and the shoppers move on the see, sample and buy from the huge selection of goods being offered for sale.

I haven’t missed one since moving here and I count on it for buying the unique gifts I want to give my family.  Another huge bonus is the support for local businesses. I am a strong believer in fair trade, ethically produced, and local vendor goods. I see it as investing in my community and in the future for my grandchildren.

All this happiness and glitter however has one drawback; I enter hyper Christmas mode. Wrapping gifts, sending cards, planning pet and home care while we visit away and of course, the baking!

My Norwegian heritage has guided me throughout the years and I do not rest until I have baked 7 kinds of cookies. I am not sure when this tradition started in our family but it is one of those things that I carry on.

At some point in all this ‘glee’ I am bound to feel overwrought and want to hold up my HELP sign, so friends, when you see this signal, know I need a visit and a cup of tea while we test the cookies that are baked.

Slow it Down Please

Time to slow down the calendar, maybe add a few days or something because I am running out of time to get things done and have no idea where it went. Easy enough to slow down the clock but my time is now measured in weeks and months; I long ago lost any control over the hours in my day.

One of my happiest pastimes is Christmas shopping online, I am about half way done. I am enjoying getting my products before they are no longer available; very good strategy when shopping for children’s wishes and wants.

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Notice:

This is NOT in any way representative of how I run out of time.

Close Call

fe85008a153bfa0075278de2c760e1efI found myself with the strongest urge to clean and reorganize today. I knew it was at a critical stage when I began to line up all the mugs into neat rows.  I was already planning how I could upgrade my pantry by using decorative containers and the latest in food storage containers. Pretty in the front and utility in the back. The vision was growing and seemed to be highlighted with dancing sunbeams on this idyllic scene. I looked out the window and it was still overcast and raining, the wind was bending the trees in the wind and I recognized the danger signals. Quickly I poured myself a cup of tea, grabbed a catalog and settled onto the sofa under a quilt and a cat by my side.

I am better now, not a single thought of cleaning or organizing anything. I haven’t had a close call like that since spring. I am hopeful this horrible incident will not repeat as the new fall programming is coming on the TV and there are lots of catalogs as companies try to persuade one to part with their money for that big commercial event called Christmas.

 

August Preparation Time

I have always been a winter person. Not the kind of winter person who embraces the snow and ice, skiing, skating and other winter pursuits. I am the type of winter person who is always preparing for winter. As I plant my garden in the spring I think about the food it will provide to get us through the winter. When I am looking for anything, I always have an eye out for how it will benefit us through the winter. I get anxious if the outside home repairs are not completed before September 1st, keeping an eye to the thermometer for that first killing frost. 11174857_877408438969712_66517093008883550_n

I believe the label given to people like me is a “nester” because I want my home to be warm, safe and full of wonderful things that make special memories.  Call me what you will, I will always be the ant and never the grasshopper; I don’t know if I could ever relax enough for that.

Living in a manufactured home I am without a basement or even a cellar, what I do have however is a wonderful area custom built pantry shelves just off my kitchen. I always feel a sense of relief when I see the shelves full with this year’s harvest and the bounty we have been blessed with.

Now where did I leave my paint brush? The shutters and trim need some ‘spiffing’ up.