Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making Christmas Memories ...

with Little or No Money.
I remember the wonder of sleeping under the Christmas tree as a child. It was our night before Christmas eve tradition. There were no DVD movies or pizza delivery. It was very simple...pillows and blankets and p.j.s and three very quiet children each peering up into the branches laden with shiny ornaments and the streaming silver icicles that would catch the colors of the lights with their gentle movement. It was a magical sight, ripe for our imaginations, and mesmerizing to sleepy eyes.
I remember my father making fudge and getting to lick the spoon and I remember wrapping the perfect squares in wax paper to fill tins for gifts. This year my little granddaughter dips pretzels for a easy task for a little one who wants to feel grown up.
I remember the years when we cut our own tree and I remember the years when we ran through the chill evening air of a tree lot inspecting size and shape. Though our suggestions seldom influenced the final decision, our participation somehow seemed vital and added to the thrill of the tree.
I remember the Christmas that my father built my little sister a miniature kitchen stove and sink and it impressed me so much that a lifetime later, I designed and built one for my first granddaughter.
I designed it so that the all the pieces could be cut from a single sheet of plywood. I will try my best to locate my plans and post them in plenty of time for next year.
It is with such joy and warmth that I remember my mother making decorative candles and the yule log she made and the delightful aromas that drifted from our kitchen day after day and stockings filled only with oranges and apples and nuts and a candy cane. I also remember later years with the living room filled to over-flowing with presents and the stress of budgeting for 5 bicycles, a brass bed and a diamond ring in the same year. Of the differing memories, it's the simple ones that seem the sweetest and this year, it is those memories that I hope to help create.Dream beautiful dreams, little ones!

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Christmas Colors - and other things

In the midst of the glitz and glitter, the clamor and crush of the shopping scene and the high stress, low budget of this Christmas season, I feel the need to insert some sanity, seek out meaning and secure some level of peace for myself and my family. The following list is where I'm starting my thoughtful journey in coming up with reasons for the trappings of the season.

RED - the blood of Christ
GREEN - the color of money, reminding us that the love of it can be the "root of all evil" and the only time Jesus did anything out of anger was to overturn the tables of the money changers in the temple
WHITE - the color of snow and symbol of Christ's purity...and we say "pure as the driven snow"
BLUE - the color of the sky for Christ came down from heaven and rose up again
SILVER - for the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas for his betrayal of Jesus
GOLD - for the streets of heaven and the gift of one of the wise men to the infant, Jesus

TREE - an evergreen to represent everlasting life
LIGHTS ON THE TREE - represent the stars in the night sky
ANGELS - for the angels who brought glad tidings to the shepherds
ROUND ORNAMENTS - for all the planets God created and hung in the sky to circle the stars

TEARDROP ORNAMENTS - for the drops of water at baptism

BELLS - for the bell that rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold
DOVES - for the Holy Spirit

FRUIT - for the fruits of the spirit
GRAPES - for the blood of Christ in the Holy Sacrament

WHEAT - for the bread which is the body of Christ in the Holy Sacrament

shaped like a shepherds staff ( in a "J" for Jesus) and colored for his blood and purity
CANDLES - for light as Jesus is the "light of the world"
RIBBONS & BOWS - remind us that we are bou
nd together in Christian love, like the old hymn..."Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love..."
GIFTS - because the wise men brought gifts to the infant Jesus...because Jesus taught that giving is a way of showing fact, the Hebrew letters that spell the word "love" in Hebrew translate independently as "I" "GIVE"...and because God gave His son as a sacrifice for us and continues to give us His gift of Grace.

SWEET TREATS AND FEAST - as a manner of celebration

A silly note: I like the convenience of an artificial tree but wish in my heart it was real, so I created a bit of an illusion by standing a piece of firewood at the base to cover up the totally obnoxious POLE that looks nothing like a tree trunk. Worked great, don't you think?

I wish you and yours the very merriest Christmas, filled with family and love and continued blessings.