Category Archives: Hanukkah

A Special Mystery and a Christmas Prayer

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When I received the book, “The Christmas Wish,” written by Richard

M. Siddoway, I did not know how much it would mean to me, in so

many different ways.  Richard is an educator in the public school system

of Utah, along with being a member of the House of Representatives.

He and his wife, Janice, have eight children and possibly grandchildren

since the book was published.

I think where they live in Utah, sounds very much like the book:

Bountiful.

First of all, it is a lovely book, with a special Christmas annual mystery.

A grandson who loved his grandparents and who had been raised by

them. He respected his grandfather very much and after he has passed

away, he finds out Grandpa had visited a woman named “Lillian” every

Christmas Eve. It has a happy ending, one his Grandma is pleased about

and readers are blessed by.

This book holds such great meaning, including being open to what may

possibly be another way to view a situation, along with the powerful

ingredient of forgiveness.

It was written in 1995, given to me in 2003.

Jean A. was my mentor, almost a decade younger than I was. I was in

the midst of pursuing my Master’s degree, when she found out she was

pregnant. A ‘surprise!’ baby.

A mother of three teenagers, Jean was a little distracted. But she was still

the very best preschool teacher of integrated developing levels of children.

A fine example for me to attempt to follow her beautiful and lasting

footsteps. Her husband and family were such a fine example of love and

Jean shone with a year-round Christmas spirit.

Little did I know, she would pass away when her little Spencer was only

three years old, doctor having found cancer growing rapidly due to the

increase of hormones from pregnancy. This book is a treasure and one

that is brought out every Christmas. I read it again, since it has a lot of

history in it, along with all the elements of a good story. I also hang up

a framed snow painting that has the words,

“Star light, star bright,

I wish I may,

I wish I might,

Have this Wish

I wish tonight.

Peace on Earth.”

 

Inside the book there is a precious poem:

“The house is warm, good cheer abounds.

The heart of Christmas is all around.

The children sing, their voices sweet,

The candles are lit, such rosy heat.

My heart is full, my eyes aglow,

For those here with me

and those I cannot know.”

~* Anonymous *~

(A preface also says,

“To Janice.”)

 

“I said a Christmas prayer for you

because the seasons near.

I didn’t ask for riches

but for gifts so much more dear.

I asked for joyful gatherings

with your family all around,

and for carols to inspire  you

with their old familiar sound,

I asked for quiet moments

in your heart on Christmas morn,

for a special time to celebrate

the Savior who was born.

I asked for friends to send their best

that you might know they care. . .

I asked for peace and love and hope;

and I know God heard my prayer.”

Written by

Nancy Parker Brummett

 

Happy “Festivus for the Rest of Us!”

Happy Hanukkah!

Blessed Christmas wishes,

Joy in Kwanzaa Celebrations,

or Hope you find Peace:

May it be True.

“Let’s Start at the Very Beginning”… of Seasonal Cards

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I love the first six words of this title, does anyone know why? It refers

to a famous song that has recently been remade by Carrie Underwood… I

will tell you the answer at the end of this post!

When Henry Cole, a London businessman decided to create the first Christmas

card, he is given credit for this undertaking in 1843. He originated this

card idea to his fellow business connections. Then, three years later,

it became a tradition or custom having spread itself around in big circles.

During English postal reform, 1846, this cost only one penny to send a

Christmas card to someone.

The very first card was commissioned by Henry Cole to the designer/artist,

John Calcott Horsley, of the Royal Academy of Arts (Fine Arts). There were

three panels on this first select card, two panels that held two of the

oldest Christmas traditions. These are also British in origin, “Feeding

the Hungry” and “Clothing the Needy.” In the middle of this tri-fold

card were the simple words, “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to You.”

This message is still one of the most popular ones, on Christmas cards, of

all time. The Hallmark Historical Collection of Cards has only two copies

of the “First Christmas Card,” along with over 100,000 printed artifacts

from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

When researching this lovely subject, which gives me special memories of

different styles, I learned that the cards do reflect the current times.

During the Depression years, there were American flags and wishes or

hopes for “better times.” During the War Periods, the words “Across the

Miles” and “Missing You,” became quite popular.

During the more modern “Cold War times” there was an increase of sharpened

wit and a wider demand for more humorous Christmas cards.

Throughout all years, the most popular Christmas card of all time would

be one with angels or the Nativity scene. The Baby Jesus in a Manger is

a sight that means so much to the Christians that are celebrating the

birthday of the Son of God.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s the designs reflected the times again, with

Flower Children, Peace Symbols and the First Manned Moon Landing. The

creative artists worked the Christmas message into the designs. I seem

to remember during this period of time, my parents ordering their

Christmas cards from UNICEF. One particular card’s design had the Peace

dove with its olive branch and the words, “Peace on Earth” on the outside

and the enclosed message being: “Goodwill to Men. Happy New Year.”

In the early 1980’s, a surge for a new sports-oriented society drove the

card designers or artists to depict Santa in a jogging suit with running

shoes on. This was our “fitness craze” beginning! I remember the cards

that my parents received including a relaxed Santa and a reindeer on the

beach in an old-fashioned red longjohn looking bathing suit. Maybe my

memory is playing tricks on that one! Ha Ha! There have been cards with

such product placement as Coca Cola or Budweiser beers, maybe some

other countries had ales or liquor, as in a toast given to celebrate

the upcoming New Year. Of course, there are the popular children’s

cartoon characters and current animated movies that make it on the

annual Christmas cards being sent out.

There have also, throughout the television era, (which it is still

going on, right?) “spoofs” on the T.V. shows and commercials were

worked into the Christmas card department! With new innovations, and

different accessibilities being included, there are certainly Braille

Christmas and other holiday cards to be purchased. I know the man down

the hallway, David, told me he cherishes “hearing” from his blind friends

he made in the Columbus School for the Blind. He also appreciates his

family members who order these special cards. He has an orange cat who

likes to try to sneak into my apartment that I told David he reminds

me of Garfield! I asked him if he had any residual eyesight when he

was younger, he answered he loved Garfield in the Sunday comics

when he was in elementary school. He is “nearly blind” he says but

is able to tap his way around the apartment building using his cane

and has a woman who comes in to help him once a week, doing his

laundry and she (Linda) put up a Christmas tree for him. I peeked

in and told him when he gets a Braille card to please bring it

down, since I had struggled with that course while in the Master’s

program at OSU. (I have an A average but received a “C-” in this

course, due to not being able to go beyond Elementary level in

my typing Braille. That heavy typewriter and taking the tests

in Braille, was almost the “death of me!”

The various holidays celebrated around the world have been shown in our

Christmas cards. My cousin, Heather, married a Jewish man in the 90’s,

so from that point on, we sent both a Christian card and a Jewish one

celebrating Hanukkah. My parents also had friends, the Lezbergs, from

when I was in third grade through their retirement, who received the

general box of holiday card, that was before the Jewish individual

cards were bought for Jerry, Heather’s husband and then, one sent

to Dad’s good NASA friend, Herb, and his family. I am not sure if

there is a timeline for when Kwanzaa cards came into being, I did

not see this in the articles I read. I am sure there is a historical

reference somewhere for this!

I wonder, as some of my friends have recently discussed this subject,

will technology take away the fun and custom of sending Christmas

cards? I know you can send e-cards and email family newsletters.

There are also, “walls” on Facebook, where you can post a general

“Happy Holidays” or “Enjoy the Festivities!”

But, I hope and truly believe there will be some of us that will

still buy the boxes of Christmas cards, sit down and address them,

write a personal message, possibly write a family newsletter,

copy this off to send in numbers or like I do, write each family

a personal note on Christmas decorated stationery. Which I enclose

in each of the cards I send off with Christmas stamps and little

seasonal stickers sealing them closed. Do you know why it is worth

the effort? To me it is so special and I get teary-eyed to see

the letters and cards coming to me. I feel like I am having a

“visit” with them, different from the phone calls and the

hurried notes that sometimes get written on birthday and

Easter cards.

There is something “magical” about Christmas

cards, or is it my age?

What do you think about this age-old tradition? Is it

going “by the wayside?”

I will make one more appeal or declaration Why it should

not be discontinued, this holiday tradition has managed

to “weather the storms” of wars, economic hard times, and

social changes, including more cultural beliefs and

embracing the changes.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, those six words start the

song, “Do Re Mi” from “The Sound of Music!” I feel that

Carrie Underwood did a sweet, innocent portrayal of a

nun who falls for Captain Von Trapp. She sang every bit

as well as Julie Andrews and I know this is almost

“blasphemous,” but I enjoyed it better than any other

portrayal of Maria. This is also, a true story, which I

read while in elementary school and my Grandmother Mattson,

who came to America from Germany, encouraged me to read.

It is okay if you are on a totally opposite side from my

way of thinking or have a different take on this custom of

exchanging cards… Really, it is!

Let me know!

Hugs to All and no stamp needed!

December Around the World

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This is an exciting month for many people around the world! I hope

you  will find some interesting facts about holly or other news here,

along with some important dates to remember. My Mom told me that

she and Dad liked to decorate the mantel over the fireplace, with yew

branches.

I always feel there is a sense of wonder, magic and celebration in the air!

DECEMBER

2nd~  New Moon

“To have a project prosper, start it during the new moon.” Old Farmer’s

Almanac, 2013.

Hanukkah which started on November 28, 2013 lasts eight days. This

would mean that (I think) it would end on December 5, 2013, counting

the beginning day.

7th~  Pearl Harbor Day

Remembering the bombing of Pearl Harbor and how sad we felt when

our own “territory” was attacked.

12th~  National Poinsettia Day

While in Mexico, U.S. Minister Joel Roberts Poinsett (who died on this day

in 1851), came across a striking native plant. He later introduced the

plant in the United States. It became known as a Poinsettia, named in

his honor for bringing it to our attention. We love the bright pink, red

and white flowers using them to decorate around our house for the

holidays. Mom loves the pink ones the best.

17~  “Full Cold Moon”

“When ’round the moon there is a “brugh” (sounds like “bruff”)

The weather will be cold and rough.” Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2013.

Wright Brothers Day is also celebrated on Dec. 17th.

21st~ Winter Solstice

After today, the days get lighter meaning there will be more daylight

from this day onward. Celebrate by sowing lettuce seed in a pot. Or

you could try your hand at planting a window herb garden.

Place in a sunny kitchen window.

25th~ Christmas

“The holly’s up, the house is all bright,

The tree is ready, the candles alight.”

Written by German composer, Carl August Peter Cornelius (1824-74).

26th~ Boxing Day in Canada

Also, Kwanzaa begins its celebration on December 26th.

31~ New Year’s Eve

Enjoy this last night of 2013 and the beginning of new adventures and

dreams around the world…

May Peace On Earth somehow, magically reign!

I always enjoy watching the different cultures shooting off firecrackers

and having parades with dragons, along with so many other traditions

on the television shows. I have found that HGTV and PBS have some

interesting focuses on New Year’s Eve.

Out in the country, be careful when shooting off your guns into the air!

Here is a section on planting for the woodland creatures and for using

holly in decorating, too:

Old fashioned wished to “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” resound

from my post to yours! Here are some facts about Holly (Ilex). It may be

considered evergreen or deciduous. They offer a variety of leaf types, dull

or glossy, shades of green or blue-green. Sometimes they have yellow or

white “splashes.”

Grow a few with broad, pointed leaves such as Chinese holly (I.coruta),

along with others that feature narrow, oval leaves such as inkberry

(I.glabra).

A type known as “ferox” (I.aquifolium) is also called Hedgehog holly and

has spiny edges.

I hope I have these facts correct from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2013.

If you are botanists, please feel free to give any needed amendments!

In our old house, I loved to cut different evergreen branches and holly

sprigs to decorate in vases, baskets with a hidden dish containing water

and even a wooden bucket by the hearth with the varieties mentioned.

The natural presentation of holly adds such a lovely scent to your rooms.

An arrangement can be made with different types to contrast and add

dimension, plus the bonus of the red berries to brighten it up. Arranged

in any kind of container you can imagine provides some extra oxygen to

the indoor environment, too.

Scents to enjoy during this month: Seasonal Aromatherapy!

*Spicy or pungent scents*

1. Evergreens boughs and branches.

2. Cranberry strings draped on branches of your trees.

3. Oranges with cloves stuck into them.

4. Cinnamon brooms or pine cones in a basket.

5. Hot mulled apple cider or eggnog with nutmeg.

*Sweet or yummy baked goods scents*

1. Sugar or Spritz cookies, so sweet and buttery, too. I like mine iced!

2. Gingerbread cookies (Don’t forget to read the Gingerbread Man or

Gingerbread Baby (I like Jan Brett’s version best.) books to little ones!)

3. Anise flavoring (licorice tasting) in Pfefferneuse (Germany) and

Pizzelles (Italy).

4. Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, or Butter Nut (made

with pecans) Balls melt in your mouth! These are coated with powdered

sugar on them.

5. Kuchen (Germany), fruitcake or coffee cake. What is your family’s

breakfast holiday treat? My Grandmother made kuchen, my Mom

made those cinnamon rolls with orange glazed icing that you could

squeeze from a tube.

*Tangy and Cheery Scents*

1. Oranges in jello or in the toe of your stocking hung by the fire.

2. Grapefruits to be sectioned, balancing some Vitamin C in your diet.

3. Warm cocoa with marshmallows in a big pot on the stove when you

come in from playing in the snow or taking a walk in your boots.

4. Popcorn to string on your trees and happen to be popped into one’s

mouth, too!

Whether you believe in Christmas or any of the hoopla attributed to it,

it is hard not to think of the history of such figures as:

Father Christmas

Santa Claus

Kris Kringle

Saint Nicholas

and if you have any interest in looking them up and providing more about

them on your own posts, go for the countries and when they began to be

observed.

November: Savor With A Grateful Heart

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“Orchards have shared their treasures,

The fields, their yellow grain.

So open wide the doorway-

Thanksgiving comes again.”

Author Unknown

From the delicious and family holiday where Thanksgiving is served

up to Chanukah, along with the sober and patriotic holiday of Veteran’s

Day, the month of November is a smorgasbord of variety and textures.

Here are some special days to remember this coming month of

NOVEMBER

Nov. 1st

All Saints Day (Some may call this the reason we celebrate All Hallow’s Eve

on October 31st!) Oh, and my mother’s birthday, too! Did she ever let us

forget the part about the saints?!

Nov. 3rd

For those of you who have this Daylight Savings Time ends on the New Moon.

“Save seeds from a large healthy heirloom variety pumpkin to plant next year.

Wash the seeds in lukewarm water, then air-dry in a cool spot for a few weeks.

Save in a cool, dry place.” Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2013.

Nov. 6th

“If your ground is not frozen, this is a good time to transplant trees and shrubs.”

Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2013.

Nov. 9th

“When rabbits are fat in November, expect a long, cold winter.” Old Farmer’s Alm. ’13

I had heard that those caterpillars of orangish black and black stripes that the wider

the stripes the colder the winter. What “signs” of a long winter do you know? Please

share!

Nov. 11

Veteran’s Day

Remembrance Day (Canada)

“Sow poppy seeds now for flowers next year. Mix the tiny seeds with

sand and sprinkle over the garden.”  Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2013.

I was intrigued to find out the symbolism of poppies, affiliated with

some Veteran’s fundraising. Buy a poppy to put on your jacket to

remember the vets.

The Egyptians used poppies in their funeral rites. There are also the

meanings of “beauty, magic, consolation, fertility and eternal life.”

If you like legends, there is a beautiful use of poppies in a Chinese

legend given on a site titled:

“Living Arts Originals   Enrich your Life with Symbols”

On this website, the Lady Yee in the legend follows her warrior husband

into battle, when defeat is evident, she dances with a sword to raise his

spirits. When the attempt fails and the battle ends, Lady Yee commits

suicide. Where she is buried, red poppies spring forth representing her

devotion, love and sorrow.

Nov. 17th

Full Beaver Moon.

I like to include these full moon dates, have always enjoyed gazing at the

awesome night sky. I was raised on Lake Erie where the most inspiring

sights and emotions were on a cloudless, clear and crisp winter night.

It fills you with the wonder of our gifts, when you are looking out on a

body of water, no sight of anything but the water and sky. There is a

peaceful feeling and the thought of endless possibilities.

The message is: “The sky is your limit!”

Nov. 28th

Thanksgiving

I have written a book review that encompasses the way Thanksgiving began

in our country and when it was first celebrated. Please check this out later

this month in my post, “A Thanksgiving Story.”

“Chanukah” or

Hanukkah lasts from sunset on Nov. 27th until Dec. 5th, 2013.

Remember to show gratitude for your life, family, friends, and fill this

holiday season with cherished moments. Connect with some who you may

have lost touch with…

Share in your traditions, celebrate and listen to others while you chew your food!