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Your Christmas Favorites & Legends Continue
December 20, 2010
For me, two of the most important days of the year occur this week.
Number one is of course 'Christmas Day', as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour.
Second, is the 'First Day of Winter'.
Why the first day of winter you ask?
Daylight will slowly, start to grow longer.
Minute by minute.
Record cold has gripped much of North America for a second wek in a row.
Lake Effect snow and winter storms have buried some regions and a freak tornado in Oregon, in December.
No matter what, weather manages to grab the headlines more often than not.
With all of this going on, my little corner of the world has but an inch or two of snow on the ground.
The waters of Lake Michigan (still 40+ degrees) keep us 10 to 20 degrees warmer than Wisconsin and other states west of the Big Lake.HMMMMMM, ............
We're sitting pretty good right now.
With all the hustle of the season, make sure you remember to keep your bird feeders filled and offer fresh water (heaters come in handy this time of year).
More important, remember the ONE that created the birds and other wildlife we enjoy.
Simple letter this week.
Two more Christmas legends and some Memories, Favorites and Traditions from readers.
Sit back and enjoy.
Legends of the First Christmas Tree:
Many folk legends have grown around the Christmas tree.
Christ's blessing and gift to mankind in the form of a decorated tree remains the central theme of most.
Across Europe, people used tree-based folk tales to teach children about the celebration of Christ's birth.
Evergreens were a symbol of rebirth from ancient times.
Egyptians brought green palm branches into their homes on the winter solstice as a symbol of life's triumph over death.
The Romans decorated with evergreens during Saturnalia, a winter festival in honor of their god of agriculture.
There are stories about that tells when Christianity first came to Northern Europe,
There are stories of Holiday trees,
Thor's Oak tree
The story of Martin Luther's creation of a Christmas tree lit with candles.
It was said that he was walking on a bright snow-covered, star-lit night pondering the birth of Christ. Enthralled by the evergreen trees, the stars and the landscape, he took a tree inside and put candles on it to represent the majesty he felt about Christ's birth as Jesus came down from the stars to bring us eternal life.
The first known decorated Christmas Tree however, was at Riga in Latvia, in 1510. Tannenbaum songs date back to the late 1500's
No matter, you may choose the legend right for you and your Christmas stories.
Legend of the Christmas Bell:
The star shone brightly over Bethlehem, guiding the shepherds from the fields and the wise men from far-off lands to the stable of the newborn King. But, in the city, a small boy - blind and alone- wandered aimlessly through the streets hoping someone would lead him to the Christ Child.
Suddenly, through the still-night air, he heard the faint tinkle of a distant bell. He turned and began walking in the direction of the sound. Gradually, its music became louder and clearer and he heard excited voices. As he approached the stable, a shepherd took his hand and led him to the manger.
The shepherd told him that the bell he heard hung around the neck of a cow watching faithfully over the sleeping Child. The little boy knelt silently in prayer and thanked God for the Baby Jesus. And he didn't forget a special prayer for the animal that had led him out of the darkness.
Since that first Christmas, bells have rung out the joy of the Birth, and called people to worship and prayer.
Sandra Smith,Truman Lake Area, Missouri:
When I think of Christmas it makes me remember when all 4 of our children was home. I would put the turkey on at midnight. Right after Santa brought all his goodies. Then later in the morning as the turkey's aroma filled the house; I knew it wouldn't be long till are bed would be filled with four children. Pressing us to get up that Santa had been there. My husband would always lag back making the house even more anxious for the day to get started. He always watched everyone open there presents and then we would look and there he sat not a one of his had he opened. Traditions how they do mold us. I know our children still laugh because he still is the last to open his gifts.
I Thank God for his Son and this wonderful time of year.
Happy Holidays to you and your family.
Sandra, Traditions indeed. I always amazes me that Santa has such timing no matter where you live.
Thank God indeed for his Perfect gift to us.
Karen Sue of Des Moines, Iowa:
For decades we would go out on the day after Thanksgiving and cut down a fresh tree, sometimes we would wade in knee deep snow while toting the little one with us.
After the lights were put on, the kids got to put on the ornaments where they could reach. I had the fine glass ornaments that were on my father's first tree that my grandmother saved for me. After the kids went to bed I rearranged the ornaments they put on. Shame on me. Gradually they learned the largest ornaments go on the bottom
We always put out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. On Christmas morning I would be down stairs to stuff the turkey and get it into the over. Then daddy would come down and start coffee for the visiting grandparents. Until everyone was dressed in their Christmas clothes and the grandparents were down stairs, our children had to wait at the top of the stairs and could not come down stairs until called. This tradition carried on with our children's families.
Two years ago, when I broke my back, ended the Christmas trees. I have now put my attention on the mantle.
Karen Sue, thank you.
I know you added so much more, I didn't have room for it all.
Once again, we see how important traditions are whether old or we make new ones.
Bill from St Louis, Missouri:
This is my first time writing you.
Some of my Christmas memories include: I was 9 maybe 10. We were very poor, I remember a knock on the door one Christmas eve, It was a man from the St. Vincent De-Paul society.(Catholic charities). The man had a box of toys with him, they weren't wrapped or new, but, it was my only gifts that Christmas. That was also the one that really sticks out in my memory. I was so thankful to get them.
My mom was a single parent and she did the best she could for us. My wife and I have a Christmas angel program we operate with our church. God allows us to help 30 or so inner- city children every Christmas. God is so good, He really is the reason for the season.
It is often the little things we remember that grow into something special later in life. You are a prime example and God notices.
Hope to hear from you again (real soon).
Cheri of Martinsville, Indiana:
I grew up on a farm in Indiana and on that farm we had what we called "the lost acre". To get to it you had to cross a little bridge so we weren't able to use it as part of the farm field for crops.
My dad decided to plant evergreen trees on that one acre so that one day we would be able to cut down our own Christmas tree. He ended up with 500 scotch pine and 500 white pine. Of course when we got them to plant they were only 3-4 inches tall. It was going to be awhile before we would be able to cut down our own tree for Christmas.
The years went by and the trees grew until finally we were able to go cut down our own tree that we had planted years ago. Now you know that the trees outside don't look quite as big as they do once you get them into the house.
We picked our tree, cut it down and asked dad if he needed any help carrying it to the house (which was quite far from the lost acre). He said no, he could handle it.
So he picked it up to put on his shoulder and the tree was so big that it went right over his shoulder taking dad with it. After he got up laughing he said that yes, he did believe he could use some help getting the tree home.
Once the tree was in the house and decorated it was so big that when we sat down for our Christmas dinner we were all sitting among the branches. That was a Christmas to remember. :)
How neat to have your own little tree farm Cheri.
I recall those years of going out in the field and cutting a tree. Must've been 5 feet of snow back in those days. We gave the man a dollar and helped ourselves. Christmas trees, decorating, smalling cookies baking, they are all treasured memories for so many of us.
Thanks for sharing your memories with us.
NancyAnn Thorne, presently living in Malin Oregon:
One of my favorite memories of the Christmas season is making bird feeder suet blocks with my Dad.
The day after Thanksgiving (this was before there was such a thing as Black Friday), Dad and I would head to town to our favorite butcher and buy a few pounds of suet. Then we headed to the farm store for seeds. Finally, a trip to the grocery store for the nuts and we would head back to the ranch.
The next day, Dad would get out the forms we used year after year and the fun would begin. A Christmas record would go on the player and we would start to melt the suet. We would put some strong cord into the blocks and over the side.
Some of the melted suet would get nuts, some seeds and some both. Dad always did the pouring because he was afraid I would get burned....even when I was an adult he did the pouring. I smile today thinking of him worrying about "his little girl."
The next day we would un mold the blocks and tie a loop in the end of the cords. We saved a few out for immediate use and the rest went into the refrigerator for later use.
Sometimes we would have to repeat this process if it was a cold winter and we needed more food for our friends.
I was in my 50s the last time Dad and I made feeder blocks. I really miss that time spent with him.
Thank you NA for sharing.
No matter how big or grown up a daughter thinks she is, they are always 'daddy's little girl'.
What caught me was the togetherness and time you could spend with your dad.
There are many men (including myself) that wish they had such memories with their dad and that in itself is a gift to treasure.
My favorite memory is from 50 years ago when I received a red pedal car fire engine for Christmas, I still remember how excited I was! That little engine got a work out from me ha ha! I remember Mom always baking cookies and pies and sharing with family members and friends! My dad always joked she made enough for the army , as there was just the 3 of us. My Dad passed away in 2002 and I am so happy I have the wonderful memories I have of all our holidays!
My best friend of 28 years told me years ago all she ever wants for Christmas is my homemade cookies and hot chocolate mix. About 6 years ago I didn't make the hot chocolate mix,she said you didn't make the hot cocoa mix, I said no I figured you must be getting tired of it, she laughed and said NO I will never get tired of it! Needless to say she gets it every year and we always joke about it! I am blessed to have such wonderful memories!
God Bless! Wishing you & your family a Blessed Christmas and New Year!
Thank You for jarring my memory Gloria. I recall the 'Little Red Fire Engine', except it was my older brothers and I got the beat up and used version to peddle around in.
Jan from Eastern Iowa:
In grade school the time from about Thanksgiving until the week of Christmas meant the planning and production of a school play. Being a one-room school (prior to 1960) the entire school was involved. It included recitals, skits, songs & dances. All the parents were invited and a good time was had by the kinds preparing & doing the entertaining.
Being out in the rural areas, my dad's cousin & Dad's uncle had farms that border on bluffs that faced north. Our farm was on the other side of the road & our bluffs faced east & south. In the early winter when it wasn't freezing for teens to be outside. Some of younger cousins were send to the timber to gather evergreens from along the bluffs--now these were not of the tree type evergreens but a low ground cover type of evergreen that my mother & dad's cousin's wife would make into wreaths & sell for extra Christmas cash. Oh the fun of traipsing thru the light snow to gather these boughs of evergreens. There were usually three of us that got this chore on weekends or days off of school.
Okay Jan, anything for a day off from school.
Growing up in a rural farm community in SW, MI., I can relate.
I also recall the small schools (mine was a 2 room) and back then and God was still in the class room and Christmas plays showed that.
Christa of South Dakota:
I grew up in Germany so it was very different there. The 6th. of Dec. a kind of scary figure like Santa but not as nice went around to remind the children to be good. If You were not He left coal & rotten apples at your door. I remember hearing the bell ringing as He walked around town. Some people hired Him to come to their house that was pretty scary at the time.
Christmas Eve was very exiting the Christmas angel brings the tree & the gifts. I had to stay in a separate room & Mom & Dad had to help the angel that flew in through the window with the tree & set it all up. I was listening for noises Christmas songs were playing on the radio. Finally all was ready & I was able to see the tree with real candles burning & the nativity.
We always said a prayer there before standing in awe in front of the tree. Only after that was I aloud to check out the presents. There are 2 holidays in Germany, we always went to my cousins house the 1st one. There were 6 kids & I loved going there. The 2nd one all the relatives came to grandmas house, we all like it there too. Those are very fond memories I have from my childhood.
Here I loved decorating the tree & bake special Christmas goodies.The children & grandchildren look forward to that every year. Christa, thank you so much for sharing some of your childhood memories. Learning about different cultures and tradtions always fascinates me.Marti from Lake Milton, Ohio:
I have a small manger scene for my 3 yr. old granddaughter, and showed it to her the other day. She was amazed by it,especially the sheep and cows. I told her the story about Baby Jesus. Not sure what she really understood, but she listened intently. I love setting out my decorations, they add so much color and interest. My favorite thing with Christmas is for the young children and the excitement for them. There's Santa, Rudolph, cookies, and of course presents.
They will be getting their letter from Santa, which I write, on some cute Santa stationary. I get a big kick out of writing them, and they love getting them. There are so many wonderful things that go with Christmas, the family, friends, food, and closeness and sharing it brings. It also brings happiness, and that is very nice.
Hope your Christmas is a joyous one.
Thank You so much Marti and good job as you create a new generation of memories and traditions.
Tula of Alanson, Michigan:
Watching birds with my mother, now 93, and my father at our cottage on Crooked Lake. That's where I got my love of bird watching.
Tula, you pull at my heart strings when it comes to bird feeding and watching. I was just the opposite for me, I got my parents hooked when I was a teen feeding birds.
Brenda of Kosciusko, Mississippi:
Christmas to us has evolved also. This year we don't have a 'tree' because I hate cutting down living things needlessly and really don't like artificial stuff so we are again doing a Christmas 'branch'. We scout the yard for branches that need pruning, find one that looks 'right', prune it and take it in. Once inside it needs a bit more pruning usually since they never (as do Christmas trees) look as big as they are till they take over the whole room. We stick it in something that will hold it up, use the smallest lights we can find and run them up and down each little branch. The results are different but beautiful. I used to do this many years ago and brought the thought here.
Brenda, the branches look nice and festive, unfortunately, I can't get them on here.
Sandy of Albion, New York:
I will always remember going to my grandmothers house. She made every holiday special. From the wonderful smells of her cooking to having wonderful cookies and deserts.The house decorated and so many presents it would take hours to unwrap. She would meet us at the door with hugs and kisses and tell us we were growing much to fast. She was only 4'9 we kids would think it was cool when we passed her in height. She passed on her love of cooking to me with her recipes and hints. So, now I'm passing them on to my kids. I hope they keep the traditions going as they get older and have kids of their own. Thank You Sandy.
What is it that makes things so special at grandma's?
my grandparents passed early in life, but the few memories I have of them are indeed special.
Joe Wilson, in Inman, South Carolina:
Growing up in Western Maryland was a challenge in itself. We would always get SNOW before Thanksgiving. That is when we boys would hit the slopes to sled. AND look for the "perfect" cedar Christmas Tree. We were young and didn't mind the cold then. I sure couldn't do that now. By Christmas Tree time, we knew exactly which one we wanted - even though it was on the Saw Mill Property, the owner didn't mind us getting our tree there.
We decorated about 1 week before Christmas. Gifts would show up under the tree every now and then. On Christmas EVE we would sing carols, eat popcorn, peanut brittle, and special foods. Especially drink Mulled Hot Cider. Yummy! However on Christmas Morn, no matter how early, Mom & Dad would read the Christmas Story from St. Luke in the King James Version of the Bible. We were anxious and excited, but we knew God came first, and we must wait. After the reading and a prayer, we opened gifts. We always got clothing, good warm bib overalls, and flannel shirts and a toy or two. (Western Maryland is very cold country-I don't miss it at all living in South Carolina) Mom would then fix a yummy breakfast of Hot cakes, Piggy Puddin, Ham, orange juice, milk, and sometimes even browned Potato chunks, and mixed fruit for dessert or her special fruit cake.
I have very fond memories of my childhood, because of fabulous parents that cared and were there for me. My 4 siblings and I looked forward to the Christmas Season. Not only was our family at home and all together, but we could Ice Skate, Sled ride in the Saw Mill hills, go to the farm, get our milk, and sometimes help there. - - - Once even we boys took a car out on the frozen ponds of the golf course. The ice cracked, and we got that car off there mighty fast. Sledding on the main road was a real treat, and we would hook our toes in the sled behind us, and have a train going down that steep hill. Imagine the fun we had.
These memories will always stay in my mind. It was some of the BEST years of my life. Thank You Dear Lord, and thank you for my childhood home and the most fondest memories. Thank you Joe.
We need memories, and when you look back, you just know the good Lord was watching over us. Why else would be still be alive after all the not so smart things we dd growing up.
Leona of Nova Scotia, Canada:
Just the other day I had to tell our Grandson of what Christmas was like for us when we were children for a project he's doing at school. We talked about the stocking first, there was chocolates, ribbon candy, clear toy candy ( which would be in the shape of a sleigh, Santa, rocking horse or something similar ) and nuts in the shell wrapped separately oh so neatly by our parents in waxed paper with a twist at the top, a small toy or two an orange and an apple and I remember at the last we got a quarter in the bottom of the sock. We have been doing a sock here for our Grandson since he was born, he is now 11 and he still believes ( I imagine this will be the last year ) and of course the sock today is much different than it was when we were kids, he gets 5 dollars in his sock here along with some candy and a few small toys but these toys are far more expensive than what we got.
For my main Christmas gift I would get a doll and or a pair of skates ( boy did I ever like getting a new pair of skates ) and of course clothes, the kids today aren't too fussy about getting clothes. My Brother had a Lionel train set and he use to get a piece to that every year ( I use to love playing with his train set ) my Husband remembers getting about the same as me in his stocking and he remembers getting a cork gun with the soldiers that you would line up and shoot down and britches as well that had laces up the side for tightening them to put in his boots.
Then Cole wanted to know about the tree if we went to a tree lot or somewhere else, John lived in the city of Halifax, so John his Father and Sister went to a tree lot and picked out a huge tree as they lived in an old house with 10 foot ceilings, they would bring it home and leave it outside till it was the day to bring it in and it could have snow or freezing rain on it so his Mother would put a sheet or something like that on the floor and wait till It dripped dry, we would got to the woods for our tree as we lived in the country (Tantallon, Nova Scotia). After John and I got married and the kids were big enough to go we would all go to the woods and cut our tree as well usually my brother and his family would be with us doing the same thing but your not allowed to do that any more. We told Cole what the decorations were like on a tree when we were little like glass balls and birds on a clip, big lights that you put reflectors in back of, tinsel icicles and angle hair to make a big glow around the lights.
John remembers his Grandmother playing Santa one year and I remember my big Brother doing that one year.
Then of course there was the remembrance of our Lord and it being his birthday. We would go to mass on Christmas, midnight mass if possible on Christmas Eve and then come home and have a feed of meat pie which was made with game meat. I still make meat pies but we don't eat game meat any more so their made with chicken and pork now.
Christmas day was usually spent playing with your new toys and visiting your friends to see what they got from Santa and the big turkey meal with all the trimmings.
Have a safe and Happy Christmas and New Year !!!
Thank You Leona, for sharing.
I wish we would've kept our Lionel train set, it would be worth a small fortune today. I liked the pills you could drop in the smoke stack and the engine would puff away
Santa is one smart cookie to keep up with inflation.
I still believe.
If you are looking for a nice wild turkey, I have 13 well fed birds you can have.
There you have it folks.
Some of your favorite memories, traditions and thoughts on Christmas.
From Santa, to giving and sharing.
Family time, all about thre kids.
To The celebrating the Birth of Jesus.
Thank you all for your time and thoughts.
Thank you for the many Christmas cards, hard copies and E-cards, plus your well wishes.
I am greatly blessed by all of you.
As I have in the past, I plan on taking next week off.
I will be back in early January, 2011.
A Very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to you,.
It's time for me to fly for now.
Before I go, here is your Positive and Christmas thought for the week.
The most wonderful gift of all.
The Birth of Jesus:
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:1-14 (NIV)
"Treat the earth well:
It was not given to you by your parents,
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our
Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb
Your friend indeed,
Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.
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