Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Raise your hand if you look forward to putting away Christmas decorations. Raise your hand if your decorations fight you while going down. I didn’t think so. You know that disgusting commercial where food fights the person with the sensitive stomach, slapping his/her face with vengeance? That commercial plays in my mind as I try to put away my outside wreath and small tree today. Except instead of becoming horrified, as the actors do, my acid-free belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly. I feel so stupid laughing maniacally alone in the garage slipping a wreath into plastic bags as it lights up with stored solar power.

I pull myself together, stash the still lighted wreath on its shelf and return the small tree to its box. It, too, suddenly comes alive with piercingly bright LED lights. Last year I called these zombie lights, but they are way too much fun for that moniker. For turning my dark, cluttered space into a twinkling, garish, fun garage for a day each year, let’s call them Vegas. They don’t mean any harm – I don’t think. . .


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I urge you to read the Five Days of Christmas Prayers from a favorite blogger. If these don’t capture your feelings, you are out of the mainstream.  Prayer #4 brings you down to earth, while #5 puts it all in prospective. (I realize there are two #4’s. I am referring to the one on Dec. 25th.)


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I brought my wreath with the solar lights  into the garage yesterday for storage. The minute the door closed and it got dark this is what happened. That wreath stayed lit from about noon yesterday to noon today. It looked freaky and alive in there.

All I can say is, if you don’t want to fool with cords or batteries next year, head for the solar lights. They rock. No expense once you buy them and they look beautiful.  Don’t fret about having to drive a stake through their hearts to get them to cut off. It’s all good.

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Don’t we all have an unrealistic, totally off-the-wall dream? Tell me I’m not the only one. Mine has been since early childhood to slip a cape over my shoulder, tie a bonnet under my chin, and play in a Salvation Army street corner band. Guys and Dolls when it came along decades ago did nothing to dampen that yearning. But there I was playing only a clarinet instead of a brass instrument, and playing that none too well.

In defense of the shallowness of my wishes, Jerry and I have long supported the Salvation Army. They do wonderful work with great humility. In nosing around the web I found this unattributed fact sheet and learned many facts I didn’t know. See if you do, too. And when you have finished, think about making a donation “where it will do the most good.”

Revised 2/08 Fact Sheet

(Based on International and U.S. Statistics)


 The Salvation Army provides assistance to those in need 365 days a year.

 Founded by William Booth in 1865, The Salvation Army is an international organization that meets the physical and spiritual needs of people in 113 countries around the globe, without discrimination.

 With 8,500 centers of operation in the United States, The Salvation Army assists nearly 36 million individuals nationwide throughout the year – almost 5 million of those during the holiday season alone.

 83% of your donation to The Salvation Army goes directly to program funding to help people who need it most.

 The Salvation Army operates several domestic violence shelters nationwide, where abused women and children can get a fresh start in life, safely and confidentially.

 When you shop at Salvation Army thrift stores, you are supporting adult rehabilitation centers that annually help more than 216,000 people from every walk of life fight substance abuse and return to their communities as participating, contributing members.

 The Salvation Army’s Alegria program in Los Angeles provides transitional and permanent housing and specialized support services to homeless and low-income families affected by HIV/AIDS.

 The red Christmas kettle debuted in San Francisco in 1891 in the guise of a crab pot. A depression had thrown many out of work, including hundreds of seamen and longshoremen. The campaign proved so successful that by 1900 it was imitated nationwide.

 Movie actors Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Mae West, and Joan Crawford have all appeared in movies with Army characters.

 More than 3.5 million people volunteer for The Salvation Army nationwide.

 The Salvation Army operates a Missing Persons Program, which helped more than 187,000 people last year.

 The Salvation Army’s Community Care Ministries visited more than 3.3 million people with special needs in hospitals, nursing homes, and correctional facilities last year.

 The Salvation Army assists nearly 19.8 million people with basic social services each year.

 The Salvation Army provided an opportunity to camp for more than 193,000 underprivileged children, seniors, and adults last year.

 The Salvation Army was at the frontlines in World Wars I and II, offering comfort and pastoral guidance.

 The Salvation Army provided nearly 76,000 job referrals last year.

 Peter Drucker called The Salvation Army “by far the most effective organization in the U.S.,” in Forbes magazine.

 The red shield dates from 1896 and serves as the trademark for the Army’s social services.

 Known for their brass band music, The Salvation Army has approximately 2,500 brass bands worldwide.

 Since the 1920s, a Salvation Army brass band from Southern California has marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

 The phrase “on the wagon” was coined by men and women receiving the services of The Salvation Army. Former National Commander Evangeline Booth – founder William Booth’s daughter – drove a hay wagon through the streets of New York to encourage alcoholics on board for a ride back to The Salvation Army. Hence, alcoholics in recovery were said to be “on the wagon.”

 The first Salvation Army band was formed in 1882 by accident. Charles Frye and his sons offered their services as bodyguards for Salvation Army street preachers. They began playing music on their brass instruments to give them something to do while they protected the officers, and soon after quit their family business to lead the Army’s music department.

 The Salvation Army led in the formation of the USO – United Services Organization. The USO operates service units, which serve members of the armed forces abroad.

 “Strawberry Fields Forever” in the Beatles 1966 song by that name, is John Lennon’s nostalgic reference to a Salvation Army orphanage called Strawberry Field In Woolton, England. Lennon is said to have played with childhood friends in the trees behind the orphanage when he was a boy.

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The herald angels sing

Glory to the new born king……

M E R R Y  C H R I S T M A S

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A picture is worth a thousand words. That’s a good thing because I don’t have time during this season to write a thousand words. Pictures might have to do for a few days. I’ll promise to make them festive, with the help of our beautiful tree.

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Texas Vignette

Texas Vignette

Men always say not to fret, that everything always manages to get done somehow. Meet “Somehow,” the women of the world. Somehow has had a lot of help this year from her children and husband. Stephen took me to buy the tree–a perfect tree. Days later he appeared at the door just as I was attempting to put the lights on a seven foot tree. Today we brought out ornament boxes and my husband, fresh from another hospital stay, helped hang a goodly portion. There are crazed balls from our first Christmas fifty-one years ago all the way to the ones I added last year. The dough angel and heart I made when the children were small have survived. My youngest child is forty, so that is no small feat. I’m not saying I’m a bad cook, but I must have the only dough  ornaments not eaten by bugs.


We have one box to go, but you know what? It will get done somehow. It always does.

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pic0011.jpgtree04-0091.jpgI am not ready to throw the Christmas tree to the curb, but we’ll have no choice in a few days. We bought our first live tree in many years — just for one year —  I thought. Jerry has been disappointed in our slim, artificial tree since the first year. It looked beautiful, took little space (and lots of ornaments) and snuggled up in a box demanding nothing when the season came to a close each year. Yet I came upon Jerry at his workbench the other day with a truncated section of this very tree, his clippers mutilating the lights. Dr. Frankenstein was driving a stake through the heart of the tree getting ready to discard it. I rescued that part and hope the other two are in tact somewhere.

I’ll admit the live one is amazing, green, fresh and fragrant, but it has to come down without procrastination. This in the house of a family who once left a tree up until Good Friday. No leaves are dropping and drooping is minimal, but there is the safety factor. The battery in the smoke detector began beeping its demise yesterday. The tree has to go. I don’t think I’m ready. Maybe I’m not ready for any of them to go. Maybe I have an issue with endings. But beginnings, that’s another story. A new year? Bring it on!


Note: In case it is not obvious, the live tree is on the left above, artificial on right.

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A week from today Christmas 2007 will be over. You’ll be in the mood to tidy up, get rid of crushed wrapping and bows, begin to return your storage area to normal. Not so fast! Now you deal with the Box Nazi. The box your computer came in, your mixer, your what-ever with moving parts and sensitive electronics all slap your wrist with the warning that goes something like this: Retain original box for shipping. Sometimes it goes on to predict dire consequences (and voided warranty) should you ship in anything other than THEIR box, with THEIR Styrofoam. You could flatten the boxes, but there is still that specially constructed Styrofoam. So even you who have ripped the tags from your pillows take this seriously.  You stack this Christmas’ boxes on top of boxes from Christmases past, knowing one day soon your storage area will be filled with air surrounded by cardboard.

And all over the land Box Nazis are curling their lips in a Satanic grin.


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lambjesus.jpg“We’re going to see Mary Had a Little Lamb,” three-year old Hannah squealed again.

“No, Hannah,” I corrected her more times than I care to remember, “We’re going to see Mary and Baby Jesus.” Her look humored me. I reminded her of the manger scene at Ahmaw’s house and the first Christmas story. That look again. During the long wait in line Hannah let everyone know she was going to see Mary Had a Little Lamb.

“There are no lambs here, Hannah, just Mary and Baby Jesus.” My granddaughter was going to be very disappointed if she expected to see a lamb.

A Walk Through Bethlehem took my daughter-in-law, granddaughters and me through dusty paths, past markets manned by Biblical figures greeting “Shalom.”  The smell of oil from lanterns, frankincense and myrrh and and sounds of the market transported us to an ancient time and place. In the crisp night air it was easy to forget we were on church grounds. Along the way characters discussed the pilgrimage to register for the census upon edict of Emperor Augustus. Hannah quietly took it all in. Abruptly it seemed, we reached a stall with hay, three opulently dressed wise men, and Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus. A cow lay on the ground with a jackass nearby with the feel of a real manger.

“Mary had a little lamb!” Hannah shouted. I shifted my gaze from the real live baby. There beside Mary, a little lamb bleated as Hannah’s patted its puffy wool.

I know when I am beaten.

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