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My Blog

December 2014

New Year Memories

Good morning to all.  Well, here it is...almost the end of another year.  time to get ready to ring in the New Year.  As I sit here this morning, I started to reflect on so many of my past New Years.  I can remember when I was a young girl of 13 and I worked in a restaurant in the coat room at the restaurant my mother worked in.  I can remember taking in the coats and hanging them up.  I remember reading a book and occasionally glancing out the small room surrounded by beautiful coats and furs and staring out at the dance floor 100 feet away.  I listened as the band played on and the men and woman danced the night away donned in suits and chiffon dresses.  Dreaming that some day, I too would be doing the same on New Years.  Eve.  I watched as the evening progressed to midnight.  Hats and horns slowly made their way onto each of the peoples heads as bottles of champagne appeared on their tables.  The sound of the popping corks and the Auld Lang Sign rang in the New Year.  People laughing and kissing was surely a sight to see and remember.  I was bound to have the same scene embrace me in the very near future. 
Well, years rolled forward and I married and had children.  My New Years Eve was certainly a different sight than what I had envisioned.  I remember how I prepared food for the evening along with preparations for when the clock struck twelve.  It was hats and horns and streamers, along with pots and pans and large kitchen serving spoons.  As we counted down the clock with Dick Clark on the television, the children prepared their musical instruments to bang in the new year with.  These of course were the pots and pans.  Our attire was pajamas and slippers.  We would stand on the front porch of our home as the sounds of New Years rang out quite loudly.  Now the champagne was replaced with sparking grape soda so that the children could participate.  They of course thought that they were drinking the real thing.  One year was quite the scene.  My eldest daughter convinced herself that she was really drinking and proceeded to act like a drunkard.  To all of our surprise...she caught the flu during the night and was sicker than a dog the next morning.  She was positive that this was a hang over.  I laughed for many years over that one. 
Well, years have rolled on and as I sit here today, I think of how many of the years were never even greeted formally.  Tonight I will entertain guests with dinner and cards.  Somehow, my future vision of wining and dining to music never seemed to happen.  Almost 50 years have passed and I must say, I really think more about the resolution  tradition more than the rest.  I have made more resolutions than I care to admit have never come to pass.  Today, as I consider making a New Years resolution, I resolve to look forward to a new year with excitement.  I look forward to what life will bring to me and the courage to handle it.  I look to the past and see how fortunate all those years have been.  How much I enjoyed banging pots and pans and watching my children grow.  I enjoyed the thrill of being together and laughing the day and evenings away.  May you have a wonderful new year and may your future be filled with memories. 

On the 2nd day of Christmas

Good morning to everyone.  Hoping to find all well and happy.  today is the second day of Christmas....and did you realize that?  It is so discouraging to see that so many do not remember that there are 12 days of Christmas.  Now a days, so many even take down their decorations today, when really...Christmas has just begun. 
Growing up, we always celebrated Christmas until the three kings day on January 6th.  You wouldn't dream of taking down the decorations until then.  It wasn't until I became a storyteller that I learned the story behind the 12 days of Christmas.  To some...it may be such the song that you have heard through the years...but it is so much more.  Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from ANY practice of their faith by law - private OR public. It was a crime to BE a Catholic. Imagine that? 
It is said that "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith - a memory aid, when to be caught with anything in *writing* indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it could get you hanged, or shortened by a head - or hanged, drawn and quartered, a rather peculiar and ghastly punishment I'm not aware was ever practiced anywhere else. Hanging, drawing and quartering involved hanging a person by the neck until they had almost, but not quite, suffocated to death; then the party was taken down from the gallows, and disemboweled while still alive; and while the entrails were still lying on the street, where the executioners stomped all over them, the victim was tied to four large farm horses, and literally torn into five parts - one to each limb and the remaining torso.
The songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestling, much in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..."
The other symbols mean the following:
2 Turtle Doves means The Old and New Testaments
So to honor that, I will reflect on something OLD in my life  and decide on something NEW that I will begin.
 3 French Hens means Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds means the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings mean The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying means the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming means the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking means the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing means the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping means the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping means the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming means the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
So today, as I turn on my tree lights and bow my head in prayer...I look to the song for my teachings.  I remember that this time is the 12 days of Christmas.  I will sing the 12 days of Christmas song to remind myself of how fortunate I am to be able to sing of my faith without any repercussions.  . 

The best Gift I ever got

Good morning and Merry Christmas.  For me, Christmas began last night.  Christmas Eve has always been the beginning of the season for me...but more so last evening. 
I began my evening at a candlelight service at the Salvation Army.  It was a night filled with emotion.  As we took the audio trip back in time to Bethlehem and sang the songs that are so befitting the coming of Christ...I was overtaken with emotion.  The major presented a most amazing take on the story.  Fear and joy.  How we can have both of these emotions at the same time in so many facets of our life.  How true that is on so many levels.  For me, life has made so many twists and turns.  So much had happened in the past 60 years of my life.  I contemplated the Christmas' of past.  I thought about all the preparations and all the traditions.  I thought of how much I tried to keep it all up.  I contemplated what they meant to me and to others.  Then, last night...I just wondered where it all went?  I thought about all those who were involved in those days of long ago.  I thought about the countless nights of lost sleep and pure exhaustion.  I thought about how many times I have washed and cleaned, shopped and wrapped, prepared and cooked meals.  I made sure that no one was left out.  No corner had been forgotten.  I made the cookies and the fudges, decorated the tree, the outdoors and just about every room of the house.  I wrote Christmas cards and made gifts....and until last night...I never realized how I had not stopped to truly take in the reason for it all.  Yes, I can say that I did it for all those that are precious to me...family and friends...but somehow... in that quant chapel, I understood why.  It was the same reason that Christ came to us.  It was all out of love. 
Today, as I no longer have family near to celebrate with...I remember that even my Savior is no longer present in human form, but has never left me. What a gift I received.  In fact, I reopen that gift continuously.  
Last night, my eldest granddaughter became engaged.  As I looked upon both her and her fiancés faces I received yet another gift.  Their smiles portrayed love. Love is the reason  for the season.  Love for all mankind.  I was given yet a second gift last night.  I played a large part in her life and to see her happy and filled with love and standing next to the man who loves her unconditionally was amazing...to say the least.  As I looked at the picture of them...I saw myself.  I remembered what it was like. I remember the fear and the joy.  The fear of what the future holds and the joy of being in the moment.  I remember the gift of Christmas...the gift of that baby.  That package in swaddling clothes that was filled with love.  I never really thought this hard about how much the actual picture scene tells us.  It wasn't just a baby...but a family.  A struggle....yes struggle.  Imagine Mary and Joseph and the situation they were in.  Mary with child...not of Joseph....a man wanting to find the child...to end His life...and no where for them all to stay. Travelling that was long and hard.  The kindness of an innkeeper.  Let us all remember that the scene was of a FAMILY, it was filled with kindness and love.  May you open that gift today. Merry Christmas from my house to yours.

The Christmas Tree Surprise

Good morning everyone.  Well, Christmas is just days away and as I sit here in my living room, I cannot help but think back in time.  I guess my thoughts are brought on by the saying :what we do out of love".  I remember all the years of growing up as a young girl and racing home on the last day of school to decorate the Christmas tree with my Grandfather.  I can remember bursting through the door only to be greeted by the aroma of Christmas.  The smell of the fresh pine tree, hot chocolate and freshly popped popcorn.  It was a thrill to string the popcorn, drink the cocoa and listen to Bing Crosby on the phonograph player.  My grandfather would put on the bubble lights and grandma would carefully unwrap all the glass ornaments.  We would trim the tree circling the finished product with popcorn strings and finish it all off carefully with tinsel.  Oh, what a memory!
When I married...the unfortunate choosing of a bad tree a couple years in a row caused my husband to want only fake trees.  If disturbed me each year thinking that my girls wouldn't get the same experience of a real tree.  It bothered me so much...that one year...I secretly purchased a small 3 1/2 foot tree and hid it from my family.  We decorated the fake tree and on Christmas Eve, upon arriving home and putting the girls to bed...I revealed to my husband what I had hiding in the shed.  I made him bring in the tree and I had secretly gotten everything ready to decorate it.  I had decided that I wanted it to be the very first thing that my girls saw when them opened their bedroom door on Christmas morning.  So very quietly, we decorated this wonderful fresh tree in the hallway right outside of the bedroom door.  The thrill of them seeing that sparkling, popcorn trimmed, tinsel clad tree had me lying awake all night.  I put a note on the tree wishing them Merry Christmas from Santa and began a trail of presents that started under that tree into the dining room, circling around the dining room table leading into the living room and under the main tree. 
When Christmas morning arrived...I was pleasantly surprised with the squeals of joy that came from the girls when the saw that tree.  The smell was just amazing...and the sight of the tree and two VERY thrilled little girls was truly one of my finest Christmas gifts ever.    They talked about it all day long and for many years to come.  Today as I sit here thinking about that day...it brings a smile to my face.  Today, there are no longer children in the house for Christmas. The house is empty with only memories left of those precious years and those golden memories.  What I did for my love for them...was a gift for me as well.  A gift that lasted over time.  When I look at my tree and gaze into the lights...I still remember the way that small little pine tree gave way to a very special Christmas.  I don't remember what was in all those boxes trailing through the house...but I have never forgotten the tree and the smile on my girls faces. 
It is no wonder that when I hear the words to the song by Bing Crosby..."When you trim your Christmas Tree...think of me...beside you." That Grandma and Grandpa and my daughters are with me in spirit. 
Oh Christmas Tree....Oh Christmas Tree...HOW LOVELY ARE YOUR BRANCHES.

Christmas Spirit Returns

Good morning to all.  Well, what a difference that a day makes.  Yesterday's Christmas party perked up the Christmas spirit.  What a great time spent with friends.  A room filled with artists and friends.  One of the things that we did was collect toys for tots and had 2 marines there to take the gifts.  2 very nice young men.  During our conversations...we all commented on how very young they were.  I commented on how...when we were that young...the young men seemed so grown up...now that we have crept into the golden years...they looked like babies!  What a difference the day can make! 
I met a lovely women yesterday who has joined the group....I had actually met her on facebook and now...she has joined our guild.  It was such a pleasure.  She is a wonderful addition and I was pleased to have an opportunity to have a nice conversation with her. 
Later on in the day...I attended a Come to Bethlehem at the Salvation Army.  What a stupendous job they do recreating that time for all to experience.  Walking from room to room, we were told the story of the birth of Christ.  From Caesar to the shepherds and wise men. From the messages given to Mary and Joseph to searching for the star and finding a baby wrapped in a blanket you retravelled that time in history.  Afterwards,. there was a magnificent concert.  It was filled with the spirit of Christmas!  I sang my heart out.  Tears flowed from my eyes as I sang the verses of "O Little Town of Bethlehem"....truly feeling in God's Presence.  What a wonderful change in my spirit.  It was a blessing indeed.  It reminded me of how wonderful life is and how truly blessed I am.   The Salvation Army is welcoming to all.  They don't try to twist any arms to coming there....just instill the suggestion of finding your own place of worship...and if you don't have one...to feel free to join them.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Walk to Bethlehem with the Salvation Army...I would highly recommend going.
Upon returning home with some friends...we played some cards and then had the Christmas gift discussion.  You know the one....the one about what to buy people.  How many struggle with the whole "I HAVE to get something for this one and that one!"  I am once again reminded of a young boy's comment to me...."Mrs. Claus" .  when he told me his 3 choices for Christmas gifts...and I asked if there was anything else...his comment was simply..."why should I receive more than Jesus received?  After all...it is HIS birthday we are celebrating!"  Well...out of the mouths of babes!  We often forget that the gifts are a symbol of Love.  It so reminds me of the part of the movie with Loretta Young, David Niven and Cary Grant in The Bishop's Wife...where at the end...the minister speaks of getting a tie and the pipe....and how we need to remember the true meaning.  Recently, my granddaughter send me a picture of gifts that she was MAKING!  MAKING....I was so very proud of her.  That is truly a gift of love and friendship.  A gift of caring enough to give of your time....it took me back to the morning party and one women shared that after many years of exchanging....the chose to exchange only handmade gifts.  The giving of oneself....now that is a precious gift.  That is a true symbol of the meaning of the day.  That makes me want to do more and more to make people happy.  It is the little things in life that I have found thrill me.  It is the memories and not the presents that keep my heart full.  My Christmas spirit has returned.  It seems that it just had to take a walk down memory lane.  I don't care what others seem to put out there.  This Politically correct business seems to only work for those who want THEIR opinions to be heard and don't care about those whose opinions and beliefs are being offended.  I choose to say YES to my savior and His miraculous birth....I am not asking anyone to change their beliefs...just be kind and gracious enough to let me have MINE!  Today I will strive to share the Love of the season.  I will strive to make each day special in the name of the season.

Christmas Season Time

Good morning to everyone.  It has been quite a while since I had been at my post....So much has gone on and so much to deal with.  It has been a struggle to get through this season....many reasons behind it.  A lot a friends who have been ill...a very close friend lost her battle with cancer.  Others are battling the monster at this moment.  I seem to have lost the spirit and the energy that goes along with this season. Thanksgiving was dampened with the thoughts of the following day of a wake to attend. But non the less...a lot that I am thankful for. 
I recently picked up a wonderful book at a good will store and it is filled with amazing stories of Christmas spirit.  It reminded me of what the season stands for...and what I should be celebrating.  I have been in such a state lately...I am really missing the holiday that I used to have.  How do you capture that when the house is void of your children and grandchildren?  When they are too far away to be with on the holiday?  Today I read about the love of the season.  How to spread that love onto others.  Tonight I will visit a walk to Bethlehem and enjoy the concert.  I will be there with friends...how wonderful is that?  Tomorrow I will go on a candlelight tour of a historical home with my friends in the Red Hats...how exciting!  I have finally put up my Christmas tree...and the sparkle of the lights have seemed to brighten my spirits.  I have wrapped some special gifts to ship to the grandchildren and as I prepared them, I was filled with joy over the thought of what thrill they might bring! Today I will enjoy my Christmas party with my painting friends...it is sure to be colorful!  So why the blahs?  Just missing some of the days of old.  Missing the people who made it so special for me.  Missing the get up and go that sometimes fibromyalgia seems to rob from me.  I continue to push myself to get things done...but lately have needed to stop, drop and rest.   I guess we all have to remember that time is so relevant in our lives...we need to remember to take the time to remember...take the time to relax...and take the time to enjoy.  Sometimes, I feel that I just don't have enough time in my day to do all that I want to do...so I have to start to make the time. Starting today...time is going to be on my side!  Hope you do the same.
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