Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 17-Christmas Around The World

Well, it is creeping up on us...not long now everyone will be gathering for their official celebration of Christmas. Many will have office parties, Christmas Eve get togethers, early Christmas celebrations with friends or family, traveling to be with loved ones-etc. I decided to take a look at the way Christmas is celebrated. As I have talked about in previous posts, the time of year is celebrated many different ways. One thing that is common, Christians(as well as many other beliefs who take part in the tradition of this season) will be celebrating Christmas. Around the world Christmas is celebrated in many ways, becuase of this, I have picked out a couple of cultures that mean something to me. I am descended from Irish, Dutch, German, Native American(Cherokee & Choctaw), Polish, and Czech. My strongest(nearest) heritage is Irish, Native American, and Polish(also Czech, but that depends on who you ask :)  ). I, therefore, am focusing on my nearest heritage.

Poland began their Christmas celebration, truly, on December 6th with the St. Nicholas saint feast day. Special tasks that take place in Poland are baking Christmas piemik(gingerbread) and making decorations. Piemik are made in shapes that include hearts, animals, and St. Nicholas figures. Traditional decorations include handmade stars, decorated egg shelss, and colorful paper garland. Christmas trees, place in family rooms, are decorated and lit on Christmas Eve. Sometimes the trees are left standing until February 2. Christmas in Poland is celebrated until January 6. A tradition unique to Poland is

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 16-Heriza Kwanzaa, Happy Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is 10 days away and it is expected to be celebrated by around 18 million people around the US. Kwanzaa was founded by Dr. Maulana "Ron" Karenga, a professor of black studies, in 1966. This year marks the 46th annual celebration of a holiday created to honor the values of ancient African cultures and inspire African Americans who were working for progress. A celebration that is based on the year end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout all of Africa for thousands of years, Kwanzaa gets its name from the Swahili phrase, "matunda ya Kwanzaa." Karenga chose a Swahili phrase because it is a language spoken by many people all over Africa.
Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa represent the Seven Principles(Naguzo Sada). Celebrants of Kwanzaa greet each other every day with "Habari gani" or "What's the news?" The answer is the principle for that day. The seven principles are as follows:
umaja(unity)-building a community that stays together.
kujicha guila(self-determination)-speak for yourself and make choices that benefit you community.
ujima(collective work and responsibility)-helping others work within your community.
ujamaa(cooperative economics)-support businesses that care about your community.
nia(a sense of purpose)-setting goals that will benefit the entire community.
kummba(creativity)-making the community better and more beautiful.
imari(faith)-believing that a better world can be created for communities now and in the future.
There are many colorful celebrations for Kwanzaa. A very important one is karamu. On December 31st families gather for the feast. Karamu may be held at a home, a community center, or church. During the feast traditional African dishes are served as well as dishes including ingredients brought to the US from Africa. These ingredients include sesame seeds, peanuts, sweet potatoes, collard greens, and spicy sauces. Especially at karamu, the holiday is celebrated with red, black and green. Green is for the fertile land of Africa, black is for the color of the people and red is for the blood that is shed in the struggle for freedom.
There are seven symbols that are used in the celebration of Kwanzaa:
kikambe cha umoja(the unity cup)-drank from in honor of their African ancestors. Before drinking each person says "harambee" or "lets pull together".
kinara(candle holder)-this holds seven candles, one lit each day of Kwanzaa. There are 3 green, 3 red, and on black in the center.
mishuma saba(seven candles that represent the seven principles)(see kinara)
mazao(fruits, nuts, vegetables)-to remind celebrants of the harvest fruits that nourish the people of Africa.
mkeka(mat)-the symbols of Kwanzaa are arranged on the mkeka, which may be made of straw or African cloth. Symbolizes the foundation upon which communities are built.
zawadi(gifts)-Traditionally educational and cultural gifts are given to children on January first(the final day of Kwanzaa)
vibunzi(plural, muhindi)(ear(s) of corn)-Traditionally an ear of corn for each child that is present is placed on the mat.
Although it has become more common for celebrants of Kwanzaa to also celebrate Christmas and New Years; at first only Kwanzaa was celebrated. The reason being that one should mix the Kwanzaa holiday with any other culture, to make sure the integrity of the holiday is not violated.
I myself do not celebrate Kwanzaa, nor do I know anyone who does, but I hope anyone who is interested in this holiday was able to gain some knowledge from this post. In addition, if I have left anything out-or misunderstood something(and you celebrate this holiday)-feel free to comment and let me know.
Heriza Kwanzaa, Happy Kwanzaa

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15-Happy Hanukkah

In five days from today, at sunset, Hanukkah(also known as "The Festival of Lights") will begin and it will last for eight days. The Jewish who celebrate this holiday will begin by lighting the first (two) candles at sundown on December 20. I say two because the Menorah that is used has nine candles, eight for the eight days of Hanukkah and one extra to use in lighting each of the eight candles. It is forbidden to light any of the eight candles using any of the other eight celebratory candles. I have decided to write about Hanukkah in the topic for today, tomorrow will be Kwanzaa and the days leading up to Christmas will be about the way sub-religions of Christianity celebrate Christmas.
Hanukkah has a history that is not always completely clear, due to the different beliefs that can be found in Judaism. It is recognized by all Jewish people as a celebration of the take back and re dedication of the Second Temple. In 167 BCE a king by the name of Antiochus IV Epiphanes took over Jerusalem and banned Judaism, ordering an alter to Zeus erected in the Second Temple, in Jerusalem. Circumcision was banned and pigs were sacrificed at the alter of the Temple. A Jewish pries, by the name of Mattityahu, and his five sons led a rebellion against Antiochus. By 165 BCE the rebellion was a success and the Jewish people took back their Temple. The Temple was liberated and re-dedicated.
There was a Menorah located in the Temple that was lit using olive oil. The Menorah was required to burn each night. After the re-dedication, there was only enough olive oil to burn one day, but it wound up burning for eight. Eight days is how long it took to replace the supply of olive oil. This is one of the reasons that a Menorah containing eight candles (nine counting the Shamash, the extra light used to light each candle) is lit during the eight days of Hanukkah. It has been determined by many that the tradition of Hanukkah is to commemorate the miracle of the eight day long burning when the Temple was re-dedicated.
There is also another version of why the Jewish celebrate Hanukkah. That one being that there was an eight day celebration of songs and sacrifices proclaimed up re-dedication of the alter, this version has no mention of the oil miracle.
Rituals performed during Hanukkah vary, slightly. But it is definite that Hanukkah is not a Sabbath-like holiday and therefore there are no restrictions to a persons daily life. Adults go to work as usual, aside from sometimes having to leave early to be home by sunset for the light of the candles. Children go to school as usual, except in Israel. In Israel, children are out beginning the second day of Hanukkah, and then stay out of school until the holiday is over. Many families exchange gifts each night and typically fried foods are eaten. The Menorah, a nine branch candelabrum, is placed in either the window closest to the street, or near a door/doorway closest to the street. The Menorah consists of nine branches, but only eight are celebratory candles-the ninth branch is for the candle that is used in lighting the others. On the first day of Hanukkah, two candles are lit, one being the Shamash-which is the candle used to light the others, and the other one being the first candle of Hanukkah. Each day, the number of candles consistent with the number of days, is lit(example:day 4 you would light 5 candles total, the Shamash and then one candle for each day of Hanukkah). Friday is the only exception to the lighting at sunset, because Friday is the Shabbat the candle(s) for that day should be lit just before sunset. Each day the candle(s) must burn for at least 30 minutes past sundown(on Friday it will be a little longer than 30 minutes total because you may be lighting the candle(s) before sunset, but they still must burn for 30 minutes after sundown). Just before, or just after the lighting of the candles on the first day, three blessings are recited. After the first day, only the first two blessings are recited.
In North America, Hanukkah has gained increased importance because it typically falls right around Christmas time. Traditionally, Jewish children were given coins from their parents, but they started giving them gifts so they wouldn't feel left out-as children who celebrate Christmas get gifts during the Christmas season.
Both Israeli and North American versions of Hanukkah emphasize resistance, focusing on national liberation and religious freedom.
My children learn about different celebrations around Christmas, and I love the idea. It pleases me to know my children have the opportunity to learn how other children celebrate during this time of year. We, obviously, celebrate Christmas(and we celebrate it as Jesus' birthday, not only the commercialized ways), but I love to learn of the other ways people celebrate. I respect everyones different beliefs, and I wanted to share with you a little of what I know about Hanukkah. I hope that I did not leave too much out, or give too much-and anyone who celebrate Hanukkah....
Happy Hanukkah, it is a beautiful holiday.

December 14-The Best Gift To Give

I am posting yesterdays post late because I was having a problem thinking of a topic. My daughter is in Headstart and she got a gift from them today. It was a tiger with a blanket, a t-shirt that has Headstart on it, and some candy. Then I remembered seeing a Kindergarten class at her school opening presents yesterday. I don't have a lot of money, my children(who go to different schools) get free breakfast and lunch, as do the rest of the kids at their schools. Majority of the families at their schools can barely get just one gift for their children, and some cannot get any. The kids in those families do not even really know the difference, Christmas is exciting enough. My children have presents to open on Christmas, but not an extreme amount, and a lot of it will be clothing. Money is hard to come by these days, for a lot of people, and it got me thinking about the best gift out there. No matter how much or how little income you have, you can still give the greatest gift there is-compassion.
For those that have money available, why not give something to a child that has nothing. For those who are like me and barely get by providing for there own family, give time, love. You could do this by any means. There are plenty of things that those less fortunate would be happy to have. Take some time to think about it. You could volunteer at a homeless shelter, the salvation army, or anywhere that distributes food to people who don't have any, or who don't have enough. Or there is always the Salvation Army bell ringing. Even if you have very little-there are many place that sell toys, coloring books, crayons, etc, for a very low amount. You could go spend a little change and donate to Toys for Tots-or just that innocent kid down the street who has nothing to open on Christmas morning. The point is whether it be time, money, or just love-give it because compassion for those with little or none deserve to have it, especially during this time of year. Give the gift of giving, it will make someone else smile and it will make you feel good.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 12-Christmas Shows/Stories

So each year you can guarantee that A Christmas Carol will be aired right along with A Christmas Story. Both are classics, right? Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without them. So I got to thinking, what other stories and shows are always there during December. Of course you got the classic Rudolph, A Christmas Without Santa Clause, Frosty the Snowman and Frosty Returns. Oh, and it wouldn’t be Christmas time with Charlie Brown’s Christmas, or The Grinch Who Stoke Christmas. I grew up watching all of these, and reading many of them as well. I love how they have become a tradition for my children, just like they were around when my parents were younger. It never ceases to amaze me how long things can last. I mean, to see my children excited to watch the exact Rudolph I used to get excited to see, its so fantastic. It is yet another thing for me to smile about this season. Its just like A Christmas Carol, my kids know the story as well as I did when I was a child, and my parents, and their parents. Classics at Christmas time, are a part of what makes Christmas, I love that no one has taken them away. I thought of this because I spent the actual 12(since I was busy, I did not realize I hadn’t posted my Dec 12 topic-so that is what this post is) watching some of the classics with my kids. It was so fun to just sit there and watch movies that 20 years ago, my mom was sitting watching with me. If you celebrate the Christmas Season, or are not completely against it-think about taking time to watch at least one classic. They are all over different channels, all different times. Watch them with family, kids, friends, loved ones of any sort, or just watch them alone, but remember they are a part of Christmas as much as the decorations and traditions. Hell they are a tradition in themselves.
No matter how you choose to do it, just take time to watch at least one, its amazing how youthful and happy it could make you feel.

December 13-All I Want For Christmas

So this is now day 12 and there are only 13 more days left. I don’t know about everyone else, but for me, Christmas is easing its way in very quickly. I realized that I feel a little sadder than usual this year. At first I was unsure why. But then I realized that I am missing something that I have had at Christmas time for 5 Christmases, this year would have been 6. About 5 months ago I completely ended my 6 year long relationship with the father of my children. Now, at the time it was a good idea, not saying that it isn’t right now, but at this time of year you may begin to doubt your decisions made throughout the year. We are better apart, but it is still cold and lonely without him. I haven’t missed him, until December hit. I have spent plenty of Christmases without a significant other in my life, but once you have children with someone your relationship takes on such a different role that it gets complicated. I do not want him, per say, but I do wish we were together right now. For many reasons-a big one would be the fact that I expected my kids to have both of their parents, at the same time, every holiday. And another up there reason is I miss the cuddling at this time of year. December is such a cold month. Just starting to have very cold, wet, sometimes snowy, days and nights-it makes you want to snuggle deep into the covers and into the arms of a loved one. I find myself thinking some nights how wonderful it would be to have his arms wrapped around me. I have not missed that-at all-until now. On the spending holidays together: I feel my children are being cheated by not having both parents in the house to celebrate Christmas with them. I had my mother and father until I was in eighth grade, every December-we decorated and did things as a family. I could be at home and enjoy both their company. I think had I been younger it would have affected me more. I know my kids wish their dad could be with them all the time like I am, it just makes me sad that I cannot give that to them. There are of course several other benefits of having a significant other during December, I will not list everything, I chose these two because they are what I miss the most.
So, for anyone who is without a lover, whether it be a mini relationship, or one that was long term, and you miss that lover this Christmas-I feel your pain. I know the heartache you are feeling-the sadness, doubts, &/or longing. For anyone who is not without that special someone, cherish it, work at it, work on it, enjoy every minute of it, and smile, for you are blessed. Take a moment to cuddle, snuggle, hug, love, whatever, but do it with happiness, because there are people out there who envy the gift you have, don’t waste it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 9,10,11-Tis The Season To Be Busy!

I wrapped Friday, Saturday and Sunday all into one because I am SO busy! I love this time of year, but it never fails to be the busiest. I cannot be the only person who ends up with too much on their plate at this time. Christmas decorations, EXTRA hyper children, school projects, shopping, wrapping, writing, editing, critiquing, posting, blogging. Its all so much. I find myself lacking sleep and forgetting things that should be done. This is the time of year that I love the most and the time of year that I float through. It is crazy, I stay up so late to get things done, that I spend half of my day just sort of going, not focusing completely. The madness that is December can be overwhelming, so I post to give this advice. Organize the best you can. Anyone who has the swamped December that I do, find a way-any way-to take a moment to breathe. Relax, take time away from the crazy and just chill. Whatever you do to escape your insane schedule-Make your self do it if you have to. But remember that regardless, it is a MUST to do so. I am still working on that chill moment, I will find it though, make sure you do as well. Merry days 9, 10, and 11...only 14 days left-it creeps up very quickly, don't let it catch you by surprise :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

December 8-Deck the Halls

Well I fell asleep last night prior to finishing this post and when I went to edit it-I realized I hadn't published my posts Dec2-7. I guess I was saving instead of publishing-that's why you should not wait until you are WAY past tired to get around to your blog. WOW- oh well, I got days 2-7 posted so if you are reading this one, wondering what happened to the others-they are now posted, sorry about that....

Here we are, 8 days in and 17 aways from Christmas and I have yet to decorate. I don't know what has happened this year, but I have not gotten around to setting up my Christmas decorations. My children are going crazy, begging me to get it done. It makes me feel bad that I have not made time to do so, but things are hectic around here-as is normal for Christmas time. I mean, I do have a few things out, but it doesn't really feel like Christmas until the tree is up. Even if you only put a small tree of any sort-do it. I remember one year I couldn't afford a tree so I improvised. We had a fake tree-like plant and I decorated it. I put garland and ornaments and even candy canes and we put all our presents under the tree-and it was great. The point of decorations, for me, is another sign of Christmas. It is a part of Christmas celebrations and traditions. No matter where you are in your life, find a moment, a way, to decorate. Even if you celebrate the Christmas season different-decorate for what you celebrate, but just do it. The joys of Christmas are not just in the things that happen in this season, they are also about being able to walk into your home and be reminded of what time of year it is. Without some kind of decorations to pick you up when you get down, it is harder to pick yourself up. It may seem silly, but its true. Whether you live alone, or with others, take a little time to Deck the Halls and celebrate Christmas-or whatever you choose, just celebrate.

December 7-Frosty

Those nights you cant wait to get into your nice warm bed, and snuggle under the covers. The mornings you get up and there is frost blanketing the yards and covering your car windows. Running out to the car 10 minutes before you have to leave because if you don't warm it up you wont be able to see and you may mess something up.
On day seven I have decided to take time to recognize the cold, frosty, winter weather. Weather is also very significant to this time. I mean, I remember being little and wanting a white Christmas SO bad. I begged with Mother Nature to please let it snow for Christmas. Of course, as I got older, those pleadings for snow turned in to begging for it to not snow. I drive well, and I know how to drive in the snow-but I hate it. I would absolutely love it if it could snow snow snow-but not touch the streets. Here in Oklahoma we have the oddest weather and winter has been crazy the last few years. It was just last year that we had our blizzard-and snow like that just doesn't happen here. I am a winter baby and winter is typically my favorite season, but as a grow older I grow weary of the cold. I cannot stand to be cold. If I had to choose between being cold and being hot-I would definitely pick cold. But it doesn't mean I love it as much as I used to. At least when you are cold though, you can bundle up and cuddle up to get warm. In the summer months-there is no cuddling. Most days its more like-touch me and I may have to hurt you. Summer is sticky hot and Winter is frosty cold. We transition from warm weather to cold weather and that is something else that plays a part in the love of the Christmas season. People want to cuddle up to loved ones. We sit around drinking hot chocolate, cappuccino, coffee, tea, or whatever else your warm me up drink may be. This season causes us to spend more time inside, therefore more time together. It makes us have to find things to do together where we can be warm and still be entertained. So, snuggle up with your spouse, or your child(ren), your mother or father, grandmother or grandpa, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your friend(s) or even your pets-whoever you choose-just cuddle. It is the best way to spread the love and keep warm. It is just another blessing of Christmas, embrace it, and embrace someone you hold dear.

December 6-Christmas Music

There is a radio station-Mix 96.5 FM- that we have here in Oklahoma. From the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas, they play ONLY Christmas music. Every year I only listen to this station. I absolutely love Christmas music. I am making this post short because I am really just posting to tell you to listen to Christmas music if you don't. I know many people do not like Christmas music at all, but you should find some that you can enjoy. Christmas music does so many things. Like music in general, it can calm you. Then there is the fact that it helps to get you into the season. Christmas music is beautiful and uplifting-it would do some good to listen to some. Just wanted to throw that idea out there for you to think about...

December 5-Traditions

Alright, day five in my countdown to Christmas and I have been thinking about traditions. When I was little Christmas always went like this: Christmas Eve: Bake Sugar Cookies and Decorate, Then Drive Around and Look At Christmas Decorations/Lights, Then Go to Grandma's House(Dad's side) and Celebrate Christmas over there, Home, Cookies and Milk for Santa, Make Sure Lights are Still Turned On(So Santa Can See), Go to Bed. Christmas Morning: Get up(CRACK of Dawn, usually it was about 4 AM and mom had a "Don't get me up until 7" rule. Let me tell you, when your a kid waiting to leave your room to see what Santa left you and to open up all your other presents-3 hours might as well be waiting an entire day-it sucks!), Wake Mom and Dad up, see what Santa brought, open gifts from parents, get ready and wait til time to go to Grandmommy's House(mom's side), Finally go to Grandmommy's, Get there and wait for everyone to be there and ready, open up presents, Eat and visit, then Go Home and enjoy everything from the day. We also always had a traditional dinner at Grandma's on Dad's side-Turkey, Ham, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Stuffing, etc. And we alternated between Enchiladas and Lasagna at Grandmommys house-Turkey and Ham get old so we did it a little different, our tradition, but still a tradition. As the years went, we grew(my sister and I) and Christmas did a little changing of its own-in the Tradition aspect. I mean for one, my niece was born and my sister no longer lived at home so we had to wait for Christmas at moms until my sister did Christmas at her home. Eventually I grew up and no longer lived at home-had children of my own and their fathers family to spend Christmas with. Traditions changed a little to accommodate everything, every ones life changes. However, there are things that we never changed and things that we carried over to our own homes. My house, my children and I, still baked and decorate sugar cookies on Christmas Eve, still drive around looking at lights and decorations, still leave the Christmas tree(lights) on for Santa, still set out Cookies and Milk and my kids wake me when they get up so they can see their Santa gifts and open their other gifts(I don't make them wait until 7-they can wake me up as soon as they wake up, no matter how early). My dad, my kids and I still spend Christmas Eve at my Grandmas house and the dinner there is still traditional. We no longer go to Grandmommy's house(for reasons I stated in prev topic-The Woes of Christmas) but we do go to moms and we still either have Enchiladas or Lasagna. So, things change, people grow and family circumstance changes, but there are still traditions to be found in our family. Do you have Christmas Traditions? Have things gotten lost over the years? Has too much changed? Take time this Christmas to think of a tradition that your family has, hold it tight, things can change. I challenge you to find at least one tradition that you can hold on to. If you really don't have traditions then I challenge you to start one. Traditions are important, not always, but it is good for you to have at least one Christmas tradition that is always consistent. You could be having the craziest Christmas of all time and that one tradition is what makes or breaks it. As long as there is one thing that you do every year, no matter what, your feet will not lose their ground. It may get wobbly and you may find yourself falling off-balance, but then you see or think of that tradition and it all comes back.

December 4-Children During Christmas Time

So, I don't know about anyone else's children, or even children you may know, but mine go crazy at this time of year. It's all the excitement, they know Christmas is coming and they cannot contain themselves. My kiddos get so anxious and wild-it makes no sense to me. I have always loved Christmas and I don't remember going too crazy in December, heck I even had my birthday to be anxious over. I do know it is not only mine that get excited. Many of the teachers at my eldest's school always talk about how crazy the kids get leading up to winter break. I think it isn't just Christmas, i think it is everything associated with December. Kids have a sense for things that we adults lost long ago. They have those feelings that we don't have time to stop and feel anymore. Kind of like a rush that we feel in our bodies, our hearts, that we just ignore. I mean really, who has time to think about how happy they should be over a month? Adults have so much going on that all they think of is that December is here, Christmas will follow and then New Years. We know the time is coming, we know what will happen on the 25th day of December, but we don't have time to let ourselves dwell on the things that means. We cant stop and go wild just because its almost Christmas. However, those sweet innocent children can. Each child has the ability to just be, to just accept, to just let whatever happens happen, and to just feel it all. Every thing that December and Christmas time bring with it. They have no responsibilities to hold them back from going buck wild. They can act however, they may get into a little trouble for it, but its okay. They are kids and its Christmas time, so everything is okay. I am making this post short and sweet, my point is an easy one here: Lets all take a child moment, take a lesson from that child you know-even if its your inner child. When you feel that flutter within that you don't have time for, make time for it! Feel its pull, let that little flutter fill your heart and GO CRAZY!!! Just not too crazy, you do still have responsibilities, just let them be for a moment and feel the excitement of this time of year. Who knows what it may do for you...

December 3-The Woes of Christmas

Well, I am following up my Joys of Christmas with the Woes. Unfortunately where as there are so many things about Christmas to be joyous about, there are also things that can bring you down a little. For some this time brings on old pains, new pains, or just the everyday same ol same pains. Example-December 26, 2008 Betty Lavon Turner passed away at 12AM-well to get literal it was like 1203AM. Betty was my grandmother. She was in the hospital a few days prior to her death. We had Christmas in her hospital room and then Christmas night, while some of us were with other family, having our Christmas elsewhere-we were called back to the hospital. It was around 7PM Dec 25, 2008 when I got to the hospital. It was 10 PM when we all went to her ICU room and, basically, said goodbye. At 1130PM I decided I would go back home, to be with my babies. At 1205AM Dec26, 2008 my mom called to tell me my grandmommy was gone. Here we are now, going on three years and I still remember it all like it just happened. It saddens me even writing it. My heart aches for her every holiday-the most being Christmas. Point of this is that some people have so much to be sad over during Christmas. There are people right here in my community that will barely scrape by just to give their children one thing on Christmas People who will not have a meal on Christmas day, unless they can make it to a Shelter of some sort that still has enough food left over. There are people who will spend Christmas Eve sleeping under the bridge on the highway, or in a park, or just somewhere on the streets in general. Many with only the clothes on their backs to stay warm. There is that family I wrote about in a prev post that have to face what I face in 2009-their first Christmas without a loved one-of course, the loss of a child is hardly comparable to that of a grandmother. They are both sad, but the loss of a child will hit harder on Christmas morning. Anyway-I am sure I could find many other things that someone can be sad over during Christmas, but I am also sure the point is taken.
Lighter side of the woes of Christmas, and yes there are lighter woes. For instance, I have yet to decorate and I typically do that the day after Thanksgiving. Oh, and lets not forget the shopping, are you done? I'm not and probably wont be until the week before Christmas, or could even be a few days before. Wrapping, ugh, i don't know how anyone else feels about wrapping those presents, but I hate it. And I usually end up having to wrap for my mother, my dad(sometimes), sometimes my sister, this year I will have to help my kids because they will be shopping at their schools. So, there are a few things on the lighter side of woe. Point from this post would be just this: I know there are many things to be woeful over this Christmas(and others to come) but, if you think of my prev post(The Joys of Christmas-go read it if you haven't :) ), there are many things to be joyful over as well. Don't get sucked into the bah humbug of your woes, remember the joys and happiness will overcome.

December 2-The Joys of Christmas

OK, here we are on day two of the countdown to Christmas and I have been thinking of all the joy that this time of year brings to me. The hustle and bustle. The decorations, at my home and all around town. The time with family. The lights in my little girls eyes. All the excitement of every child. The Christmas shows on TV, classics and new. The music associated with this time of year. The sign that I have conquered yet another year of the madness that is life. The giving, love, happiness, sharing, smiling, laughing. These are the joys of Christmas. I am sure that somewhere in there I missed things, there is so much to be joyous about during this time. I may be a little bias because I am not only a winter baby, but a December baby and one week shy of being a Christmas baby, but this is absolutely the BEST time of the entire year. December makes any troubles suffered the other 11 months all worth while. It makes every heartache, teardrop, and anger for someone or something-meaningful. December is the time when people are more caring. At least 50% of people are going to feel the Christmas spirit. People are going to give to the less fortunate-those that have been forgotten all year. Some will reach out to family they ignored January through November. Others will call up that friend they couldn't find time for. Strangers will speak to other strangers in the street-even if it is just a simple nod of the head-it happens during this time. I love it, every bit of it. My heart is huge-I always give when I can. Smile at the woman furious about-what? I don't know, but she needs a smile. I always donate food to food banks as often as I can. I donate all clothes my children and i outgrow and I do what i can for those who have less than I do(which trust me-is VERY little). Point is, I always give, i am that person who wants everyone to always be happy. That one who wants no crime to ever happen. I have never stolen, I don't cheat, I do my very best to never lie, i want everyone to love each other. This is my time-December is that one time of year that other people feel the way I do. The kindness that Christmas brings out in people is what is the most joyous part of Christmas for me. I enjoy seeing so much giving, so much caring, so much love. it makes Christmas the most wonderful time for me. So-my lesson for this post is short:
Think of all the joys of Christmas. Think of everything happy that you can during this time and embrace it. Take it all in and then-carry it over to January, February, March, etc. The kindness that makes December the most wonderful time of the year should not be reserved for Christmas only, it should be kept with you always...Let the joys of Christmas become the joys of the year.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

.December 1-To Be Or Not To Be-Merry Christmas?

Okay everyone today is day one of twenty five very busy days for me. I am not really sure why, but always from December 1 to December 25 I am a very busy person. I have a feeling -between revisions, critique group, new MS, and everything else that I always have going on - these twenty five days will be SUPER BUSY. I have decided to give myself yet another thing to do during these busy days. I will have a topic daily-some will be related to each other, but I am sure some will not.
So to kick off my 25 days of posting(my countdown to Christmas) comes topic number one:


I was born, December 18, 1985 one week to the day before Christmas. From the time I was born, beginning December first(and sometimes around Thanksgiving) everyone would say Merry Christmas. In elementary school we had Christmas parties and Santa's Workshop(which is where a group brings items to the school so that the kids can shop for presents for their family-so they can have gifts that are a secret and that they got all by themselves.), we always put on a Christmas Pageant-where we sang Christmas songs and did a Christmas play,  there was always a Christmas Parade, people put up Christmas trees and decorations, everyone read(or watched) A Christmas Carol and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, we made Christmas cookies and drove around to look at Christmas lights. And on Dec 25-Christmas day-we opened up presents, Christmas presents. I said Christmas fourteen times just now, and it flowed out completely natural-it didn't even sound repetitive to me as I typed it. The reason? Because it is what it is. Every time I said Christmas it was because it fit there, I couldn't imagine another word in its place. Well, some I can imagine it because it has already been "changed" to say something different. For instance-schools no longer have Christmas parties, they have Holiday parties; there is no longer a Christmas Pageant, but a Holiday Pageant. The Christmas parade is not the Holiday parade, and decorations are just that, decorations-even sometimes though they are Holiday decorations. And Merry Christmas is now Happy Holidays. I know other people celebrate the holiday of Christmas differently and call it something different. Some celebrate Hanukkah, other Kwanzaa-but people have been celebrating those for years. When did it become so offensive for people to say Merry Christmas? When did everyone decide it was best to just say Happy Holidays and leave it at that? I was always taught that some people have different beliefs and it is okay to accept that and you must respect them. So I say why cant everyone feel that way? I respect anyone who celebrates Christmas different than me, who calls it by a different name, anyone who has different traditions for this time of year. So should I not receive that same respect? I have spent 25 years 11 months and (almost) 2 weeks celebrating Christmas and will continue to do so until then. (My children will be raised the same) I have always, and will continue to say Merry Christmas. I mean no offense by it if you do not celebrate Christmas. Tell me Happy Hanukkah in return, or whatever it is you believe-but please do not be upset that I tell you- MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!