365 Days of Christmas is keeping the spirit alive
all year to enliven your world.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

12 Days of Christmas - Day Six

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Christmas is the most loving, giving, joyful holiday of the year. Yet it can be the most burdensome season as well. So much to do and so little time to do it. The voices of expectation vie for our attention. Perfect presents cry out to be purchased. The house and hearth long to be dressed. Parties and program invite us to attend. The list goes on and on. The sad truth is that we can become weary of Christmas just thinking about it.

But, shhh! If you can hush the holiday clatter for just a moment you will hear another Christmas voice, a quiet calling from the Baby in the manger. "Come to Me," He bids.

To help you stay focused on the Heart of the season, choose a quiet place to set a nativity scene (even if it is in the bathroom) and find some quiet moments every day to hold the Baby Jesus in your hands and know that He holds you in His.

Heavenly Father, forgive me for listening to all the
other voices before I've listened to Yours. Help me to set aside time to be with You and to know You're with me. Amen.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

12 Days of Christmas - Day Five

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The tree is standing tall and each ornament that you place reminds you of God's grace and His love for one and all.

Do you remember how sparsely decorated your first Christmas tree was? If you know a single woman who has just moved into her first apartment or a newlywed couple celebrating their first Christmas together, create or purchase a collection of ornaments that will decorate someone else's heart and home with the Reason for the season.

Monday, December 29, 2008

12 Days of Christmas - Day Four

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I am like a tree that is always green,
giving my fruit to you all through the year.
Hosea 14:8 NLT

I cringe at the word "artificial," but I'm getting used to it. I remind myself that it's not the kind of tree one has -- real or fake, stately or scraggly, noble or pine -- but the symbolism that points the heart heavenward.

The evergreen tree was first used in celebration of a false god by people who did not know Jesus, the Creator of this symbol of everlasting life. As those who know Him and love Him, we have redeemed its value and given it a place of honor in our celebration of the only true God.

As you set up your tree, remember that Jesus is like an evergreen . . . eternal and everlasting. With Him there is no beginning or end.

Heavenly Father, thank You that not only is Jesus like a
tree, but that He died on a tree to save us from our sins, so that through faith in Him we could have eternal and everlasting life. Amen.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

12 Days of Christmas - Day Three

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When Jesus was born, God decorated the skies with heavenly fireworks to introduce the Light of the world.

Considering God decorated the heavens -- His own dwelling place -- it seems no less fitting for us to dress up our homes with strings of lights, carols that worship His name, and symbols that help us celebrate the birth of His son.

Some say that the Christmas tree, the candles, and other such trimmings belong to the pagan past. I believe all things belong to God and we have simply reclaimed them for His glory!

As you look at your decorations, delight in the symbolism of the season and thank the Lord for the reminders of who He is and why He came.

It's Called Christmas

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It's Called Christmas (With A Capital C)

This song tells it like it is. It is the CHRISTMAS season not the holiday season. It is a special, historic event celebrating CHRIST not a blank holiday. Celebrate with me!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

12 Days of Christmas - Day Two

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We all need to know we are valued -- by God and each other. Open your door this Christmas to those who nee a touch from above.

The custom during Bible times was to greet one another with a holy kiss to show love and honor. Whenever possible, especially during the holiday season, greet your guests -- whether family or friends -- with your best smile and a hug to match.

Friday, December 26, 2008

12 Days of Christmas

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From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. During that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit -- Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit -- Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Merry (Twelve Days of) Christmas!

12 Days of Christmas - Day One

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Christmas is a special time of year, a season set apart from all others to celebrate a miracle. What an incredible miracle it was! God came into this world to bring us the gift of salvation. In fact, He was the Gift!

Christmas is a time to celebrate . . . to rejoice . . .
not only in the miracle of Christ's birth,
but with even deeper joy
we celebrate the miracle of His being born into our lives,
making His home in our hearts.

Boxing Day

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Revive the Custom of Boxing Day

During the Middle Ages, British churches opened their donation boxes the day after Christmas. Today, December 26th, box up and donate your outgrown clothes, books, and toys to a charity organization.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Jesus

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Josh Groban performs O Holy Night as scenes from The Nativity play.

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas - Day 25

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This is a 6 ft white tree named Pretty Peppermint. All the ornaments are red.

Merry Christmas!

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Dear Friends and Fellow Bloggers,

There are so many things to love about Christmas . . . carols that sing of Jesus' birth and joy to the world, the scents of the season that fill the air and tempt our tummies, the radiant beams of lights from rooftops to tree tops, and the sight of our homes and hearths decorate to usher in the most joyous season of the year. It is a season marked by giving and sharing and caring. Christmas truly is the most beautiful holiday of them all. Beautiful to behold with the eye and the heart!

I pray that each of you will be drawn close to Jesus, the One whose birthday we celebrate. It is my hope that through the sights and symbolism of the season you will invite Him to fill your heart and home with His incredible love today, throughout the holiday season and throughout the new year.

As it was more than 2,000 years ago, children are the heart of Christmas. And sometimes, it takes a child to remind us what Christmas is really all about. Watch this familiar video.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas - Day 24

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The toy tree is 4 ft tree aptly named Toy Treasures.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas - Day 23

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A 5 ft tree in the doorway between the kitchen and family/living room titled It's Christmas Time Again.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas - Day 22

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This group of photos is from the second landing of the front stairway. There are three trees: 1st - Poinsettia, 2nd - Old Glory, 3rd - Candy Cane Caper. There is a view coming up the stairs and close ups of all three trees.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Christmas Cookie Are You?

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Are you simple and sweet or decked out with all the trimmings? Take Martha Stewart quiz and find out what type of Christmas cookie you are.

I'm Molasses-Gingerbread Cookies.

Serves 48 , 48 -100 cookies

1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1/4 cup water
5 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon cinnamon (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon allspice

1. Place margarine in large mixing bowl & soften it in microwave for a few seconds.
2. Cream sugar and margarine, then add molasses and water.
3. Combine all dry ingredients. Add to the mixing bowl & mix together.
4. Let dough cool, covered, in freezer for at least an hour.
5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
6. Roll out dough & cut out with cookie cutters.
7. If the cookies are thin, bake for 6 minutes. If they're thick, bake for 8 minutes. They will appear slightly underbaked, but that's what makes them taste so good & chewy.
8. Let them cool on wire rack.

These cookies stand on their own without frosting.

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas - Day 21

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The wall tree is 2.5 ft and titled the 12 Days of Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus

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From the Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897:
Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Francis P. Church's editorial, "Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" was an immediate sensation, and became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in the The New York Sun in 1897, almost a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.

Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O'Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter:

"Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn't any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.

"It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, 'If you see it in the The Sun, it's so,' and that settled the matter.

" Well, I'm just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth,' I said to father.

"He said, 'Go ahead, Virginia. I'm sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does.' "

And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents' favorite newspaper.

Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer. Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, "Endeavour to clear your mind of cant." When controversial subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.

Now, he had in his hands a little girl's letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.

"Is there a Santa Claus?" the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully. And so he turned to his desk, and he began his reply which was to become one of the most memorable editorials in newspaper history.

Church married shortly after the editorial appeared. He died in April, 1906, leaving no children.

Virginia O'Hanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Master's from Columbia, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator. Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia O'Hanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, NY.

From The People's Almanac.

The Sugar Castle

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The Sugar Castle, displayed in the historic Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco, took over 400 hours to create. Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Francios Houdre was inspired by European architecture and used a variety of tools for this construction, including X-Acto knives, glue guns, and rulers. The piece features a motorized base which allows the castle to slowly rotate. A hole in the base accommodates wires for the lights in the pulled-sugar-paned windows.

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas - Day 20

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This 2 ft tree is titled Harry Potter and the Christmas Tree. The ornaments include glow-in-the-dark stars, Harry Potter bookmarks, silver and blue ball ornaments, and Harry Potter game cards.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Looking More Like Christmas

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This is my tablescape on the kitchen table using greenery, vases, pinecones, red pinecones, cookie cutters, and red ball ornaments. (The red hats are part of the chair backs.)

It's Looking Like Christmas Again

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This is the hutch in the kitchen. I took the doors off so its easier to see my dishes, vases, and glassware. I have lots more crystal and dishes but put much of it away since the doors are open.

6 ft flocked pencil tree is next to the hutch and is titled Gingerly Gingers.

This tree is my smallest at 1 ft. The tea set with cups, cake, etc., were received as a gift from my dear friend, Terri Lee (Australia). This tree is aptly named Sugar and Spice.

Christmas Thought of the Day - 12/19/08

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It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, "God Bless Us, Every One!"
~~ Charles Dickens ~~

It's Looking Like Christmas

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I have more photographs than I do countdown days so today you get an extra treat of extra photos.

This 3 ft tree -- named Rudolph -- has a wide girth and is sitting on the landing at the top of the back stairway. The ornaments include a set that represents the characters from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie, reindeer bells, red berries, and red bells.

This is a 2 ft birch tree. I thought it was unique, but I haven't figured out how to add ornaments to the tree yet.

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas - Day 19

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The first picture is of the garland -- nothing fancy but it does provide nice ambient lighting -- placed on the back steps. The second picture is of the four trees on the front steps (before the first landing).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas - Day 18

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This 2 ft tree is aptly named Nature's Beauty and filled with fruit, berries, and pinecones.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Star Commercial

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This is one of my most favorite Christmas commercials. I know the holiday season has stared when I see this commercial.

Bubble Tree

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Check out Barbara's bubble tree. The 8 foot tree has a tube of water that runs down the middle of the tree instead of the usual tree trunk. This year her theme is Aquarium Bubble Tree.

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas - Day 17

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This small tree -- Friendship Frenzy -- may only be two feet but it is one of my favorites because each ornament holds a special meaning to me.

Star-shaped Gingerbread Cookie - The cookie reminds me of my love of gingerbread and the friendships of my online group, 12 Months of Christmas.

Santa - Santa reminds me of my belief in the Christmas spirit. It also reminds me to help others.

Jeweled Cross - The cross reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas: Jesus is the reason for this blessed season.

Pickle - The pickle reminds me of my German ancestry. It also reminds me of my son, Cameron (his nickname is Pickle).

Glass Heart - The heart is a reminder of my love for my friends.

Glass Blue Teardrop - The teardrop reminds of my favorite color and the love of crafting.

Flag/Red Ball - This ornament reminds me of my love of my country -- Good Ol' USA -- and my military history.

Crocheted Angel - The angel reminds of all the people and friends who were supportive during my bout of cancer.

This tree stays up all year long. (The angels get packed away after the Christmas season. Usually there are various photographs of my children
surrounding the tree.)