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Gardening For Wildlife #48 MERRY CHRISTMAS
December 20, 2007

Christmas is upon us.

It seems like only yesterday was December 1st.

I did manage to find time for a Christmas letter, such as it is.

Hopefully everyone has dug out from the recent storms and those of you that lost power have heat and light once again.

There is last minute shopping and I still have to make the cookies.

Even in the hustle and bustle, I don't forget my birds.

In years past, the Christmas letter would be on memories ofChristmas past and traditions in the Patterson family.

You know, fond memories as a child and the family traditions. Going out and cutting down the tree, decorating and mom reading us stories.

My mom loved Christmas and passed that on to her kids and now her great grand kids enjoy the traditions of the Patterson Christmas.

Even with all the fluff, mom made sure we knew the real meaning of Christmas.

Though she is now celebrating Christmas in Heaven with dad, (how Glorious for my parents) I must say The season isn't the same without her.

Do you ever wonder how those traditions get started?

No matter, we always look forward to them don't we?

We have started a new tradition these past few years.

Karen, Yolanda and myself head off to Fredrik Meijer Gardens to enjoy the traditions of Christmas trees from around the world.

This time we took Karen's mom, our oldest girl and grand kids to enjoy all the trees, lights and of course the tropical gardens.

With that comes the many questions.

I like that.

This letter will touch on some Christmas firsts that started traditions for most of us

The first tree.

Where did Santa come from?

The very first Christmas.

Wreaths have been used as a decorative sign of Christmas for hundreds of years.

Christmas wreaths can adorn any part of your home, inside or out.

The wreath is made of evergreens, most often pine branches or holly.

It is decorated with a variety of items including pine cones, holly berries, fruits, and just about anything you can imagine.

The wreath has significant meaning for the season.

It's circular shape represents eternity, for it has no beginning and no end.

From a Christia perspective, it represents an unending circle of life.

The evergreen, most frequently used in making wreathes, symbolizes growth and everlasting life. Holly branches have thorns.

When used in a wreath it represents the thorn on Jesus' crown when he was crucified.

Bright red holly berries symbolize Jesus' blood that was shed for us.

The wreath over the hearth brings a warmth to our hearts as we stop to reflect upon the true meaning of this very special day.

Today, it is sometimes hard to remember the real meaning of Christmas.

The first Christmas tree seems to have been a mixture of Christian and pagan rituals.

It is said that in 1510 near Riga Latvia a tree was decorated and worshipped before the men in black burned it.

Stories of the first real Christmas tree point a few decades later to Martin Luther in northern Germany.

Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas.

One crisp Christmas Eve, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight.

When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth.

The Christmas tree tradition most likely came to the United States with Hessian troops during the American Revolution, or with German immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The custom spread slowly.

The Puritans banned Christmas in New England.

Even as late as 1851, a Cleveland minister nearly lost his job because he allowed a tree in his church.

Schools in Boston stayed open on Christmas Day through 1870, and sometimes expelled students who stayed home.

The Christmas tree market was born in 1851 when Catskill farmer Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds of evergreens into New York City and sold them all.

By 1900, one in five American families had a Christmas tree, and 20 years later, the custom was nearly universal.

In the 1960's it was fashionable to have an Aluminum tree and all the same shape and color ornaments.

Thankfully, that is one tradition that never caught on.

A F. W. Woolworth brought the glass ornament tradition to the United States in 1890.

From 1870's to 1930's, Germans made the finest molds for making ornaments with nearly 5,000 different molds at the time.

Everything else seems to be made in China or other Asian countries.

John Horsley of London, England invented the first Christmas card in 1843 as a favor to Henrey Cole.

By the 1880's Christmas cards manufacturing was BIG business, not only for the cards sold, but created unknown opportunities for artists, writers, engravers and printers.

There are many beliefs or thoughts on the origin of the first Christmas stocking. Most believe the tradition started in the Netherlands.

And why not, isn't that where Santa or Saint Nicholas made his first visit as Sinter Klaas.

Here is the American version for your reading pleasure.

But where would we be without the very first Christmas?

When God's timing was right, centuries before the first Christmas, ..........

The Prophet Isaiah spoke about this world changing event.

"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:

And the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty god, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth even for ever."

Can you even imagine?

A God so powerful he created everything in an endless universe.

Fingers strong enough to write in stone yet tender enough to wipe the tears from our cheeks.

A God that gave us the ability to think, to ask questions and find answers.

Yet, no one can explain how two separate cells can come together and create a human baby.

Now that is a miracle. Santa, decorated trees, stockings, wreaths and other things are traditions of the season.

However, there wouldn't be a Christmas for people or department stores if it weren't for that day 2007 years ago.

Giving is more important than receiving (tell that to a child).

God showed us that with his everlasting gift of love.

He was also teaching us a lesson.

I continue to urge you most weeks to share something as simple as a smile with others. Something so simple and easy to do yet, it has a profound affect on both the giver and receiver.

Continue to share your smiles and maybe throw in a few blessings.

, many God felt blessings to you and your family this Christmas season.

All of you have blessed me by inviting me into your home. By allowing me to share and hopefully teach a few things now and then.

I am truly blessed by all of you.

I will catch you again in the new year.


May God Richly Bless You.

Now ..............................

God found the perfect time to give us the perfect gift.

And in the same country there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

An angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone about them. They were terribly afraid, but the angel said to them.

"Fear not:

For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts singing praises to God.

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

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Gardening For Wildlife.

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