Archive for the 'Christmas' Category

Christmas: In Three Words

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In Three Words

Memories, Flashbacks, Celebrations
Kisses under mistletoe
Cheery red check
Children wide-eyes
Excited laughing children
Frantic rushing parents
Presents under trees
Receiving favorite things
Proposals and rings
Families traveling far
Driving loaded cars
Sweet hot chocolate
Candy cane treats
Apple Rum Cider
Nutmeg and Eggnog
Making plans early
Late night parties
Singing holiday tunes
Cherished friends re-un
Love abundantly shared
Long airplane flights
Snowed-in delays
Families lovingly reunited
Tears of joy
Cats batting ornaments
Dogs chasing cats
Lights flickering on
Angels atop trees
Sweet treats galore
Frosting sugar cookies
Dipping cheese balls
Avoiding fruit cakes
Exchanging holiday recipes
Joyous carols sung
Hope-filled stockings hung
Crisp snowflakes fall
Card sentiments mailed
Monthly earnings spent
Playing in snow
Sparkling garland shines
Shopping last minute
World peace rings
Packing it up
Storing it away
Waiting another year
Anticipating next year
Doing it again

– Sheryl Roush, Speaker, Author,

Reprinted from Heart of the Holidays gift book by Sheryl Roush

Epiphany: Three Kings Follow the Star

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Lovers of carols and Christmas parties know that this season has 12 days, packed with golden rings, calling birds and various kinds of gentry, musician and domestic workers. December 25 is Christmas – and 25 minus 12 does equal 13. Do the math and you will see why shopping malls, newspapers, television networks, and other cultural fortresses annually deliver some kind of “Twelve Days of Christmas” blitz, beginning on December 13.

The problem is that for centuries church calendars in the East and the West have agreed that there are twelve days of Christmas and they begin on Christmas and end on January 6.

The twelve days of Christmas end with the Feast of Epiphany also called “The Adoration of the Magi” or “The Manifestation of God.”  Celebrated on January 6, it is known as the day of the Three Kings (or wise men/magi): Caspar, Melchior, and Balshazar. According to an old legend based on a Bible story, these three kings saw, on the night when Christ was born, a bright star, followed it to Bethlehem and found there the Christ child and presented him with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

January 6, the last day of Christmas, comes with its own traditions, rituals and symbols.  Carolers are going from house to house; in many homes the Christmas Tree is taken down and in some areas is burnt in a big bonfire.  For the children, this is an especially joyous occasion because, associated with taking down the tree goes the “plundern” (raiding) of the tree. The sweets, chocolate ornaments wrapped in foil or cookies (which have replaced the sugar plums) are the raiders’ rewards. 

The history of Christmas (the festival of the nativity of Jesus Christ) is intertwined with that of the Epiphany.  The commemoration of the Baptism (also called the Day of Lights, i.e. the Illumination of Jesus) was also known as the birthday of Jesus, because he was believed to have been born then of the Virgin or reborn in baptism.  In some records, Christmas and Epiphany were referred to as the first and second nativity; the second being Christ’s manifestation to the world.

In the fourth century, December 25 was finally adopted by the Western Christian Church as the date of the Feast of Christ’s birth.  It is believed that this change in date gave rise to the tradition of the “12 Days of Christmas.”  While the Western Christian Church celebrates December 25th, the Eastern Christian Church to this day recognizes January 6 as the celebration of the nativity.  January 6 was also kept as the physical birthday in Bethlehem. In the Teutonic west, Epiphany became the Festival of the Three Kings (i.e. the Magi), or simply Twelfth Day.  

~Emily De Shazo

POEM: Merry Christmas (the reason for the season)

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Merry Christmas! (the reason for the season)

The month before Christmas                                       
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying                                       
Nor taking a stand.
Why the PC Police                                                
had taken away,                                                  
The reason for Christmas –
no one could say.
The children were told                                           
by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men                                     
and Angels and things.
It might hurt people’s feelings,                                 
the teachers would say                                           
December 25th
is just a "Holiday."                                           
Yet the shoppers were ready                                       
with cash, checks and credit                                     
Pushing folks down
to the floor just to get it!                                     
CDs from Madonna,                                                
an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing,                                          
something quite odd!
Retailers promoted                                              
Ramadan and Kwanzaa                                              
In hopes to sell books by
Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging                                           
their trees upside down
At Lowe’s the word Christmas –                                   
was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples                                            
and Penny’s and Sears                                             
You won’t hear the word Christmas;
it won’t touch your ears.                                         
Inclusive, sensitive,                                            
Are words that were used                                         
to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden,                                         
Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen                                       
On Boxer, on Rather,
On Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate,                                         
there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus,
in all public matter.                                            
And we spoke not a word,                                         
as they took away our faith                                       
Forbidden to speak
of salvation and grace.
The true Gift of Christmas                                       
was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season,                                       
stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate ‘Winter Break’                               
under your ‘Dream Tree’
Sipping your Starbucks,
listen to me.                                                    
Choose your words carefully,                                     
choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS,                                          
not Happy Holiday!

-Author Unknown, but greatly thanked

The Feelings of Christmas

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May the wonderful feelings of Christmas stay with you
long after the gifts are unwrapped, the tree is taken down,
and the ornaments are safely stored away.

May the once-a-year joy of Christmas return to you
in memories throughout the year,
each time tugging at your heartstrings…
each time bringing a smile.

What Christmas Means

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What Christmas Means

If Christmas means Sharing,
then let us share together our hope for tomorrow…

If Christmas means Giving,
then let us give one another strength, encouragement, and faith…

If Christmas means Love,
then let us love one another with the hearts of children…

in the Spirit of Peace.

Where Would We Be Without Jesus?

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Where Would We Be Without Jesus?

He was born of a woman so that we could be born of God…
He humbled Himself so that we could be lifted up…
He became a servant so that we could be made heris…
He suffered rejection so that we could become His friends…
He denied Himself so that we could freely receive all things…
He gave Himself so that He could bless us in every way!

May Your Christmas know every blessing of His Love.

"He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for all–how will He not also, along with Him, gracously give us all things?" – Romans 8:32 NIV

Keep Holiday Stress to a Minimum: Learn to Say No

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Keep Holiday Stress to a Minimum:
Learn to Say No

4 simple tactics for saying no to unnecessary obligations.

By Katherine Kam and reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

For many of us, the holidays were magical in childhood, carefree times to be savored. But then we grew into hordes of harried adults, falling victim to the season’s high expectations. Holiday stress has become as much a tradition as the Christmas ham.

"People are overcommitted," says Marc D. Skelton, PhD, PsyD, a psychologist in Laguna Niguel, Calif. "Christmas and other holidays around this time are always supposed to be fun, and you’re supposed to do a good job in terms of entertaining friends and family." In an attempt to live up to the season’s tall orders, "people will just run from pillar to post," he says. It’s not even "Christmas" anymore, some of his clients lament. It’s "Stressmas."

We also overload ourselves with inherited traditions, even when they no longer fit into our busy lives, says Elaine Rodino, PhD, a psychologist in Santa Monica, Calif. If one’s mother "baked a thousand cookies and gave them to everyone she knew," Rodino says, "people feel obligated to follow the same kinds of things."

But there is a secret to cutting holiday stress: Just say no. You don’t have to bake all those cookies, Rodino says. "You can start your own traditions.’ And you can learn to say no to lots of other demands, too, including party invitations that don’t entice or a whopping gift list that could clean out a mall. 

Holiday Stress-Reduction Tip: Decide What Matters Most
"The spirit of the holidays is gratitude and giving," says Patti Breitman, co-author of the book How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty. Only a Scrooge would dispute that generosity is admirable. "It’s very satisfying to offer support to the people we love, help out a neighbor, or do something positive for the community," Breitman writes. But "the conflict arises when we continually agree to things that please everyone but ourselves or when we commit to tasks for which we have no time or desire." By saying "yes" to every holiday invitation and demand that comes your way, you could wind up exhausted and possibly broke. Instead, reflect on what you cherish most about the holidays, experts say, whether it’s sending greeting cards to maintain relationships, tree trimming, baking, religious observances, seeing family and friends, supporting a charitable cause, or just relaxing. When you know your priorities, you can turn down the less important things, Breitman says. "It’s easier to say ‘no’ if you know what you’re saying ‘yes’ to."

How to Say No to Holiday Stress:
1. Say No to Parties That You Don’t Want to Attend
2. Say No to Out-of-Control Gift-Giving
3. Say No to Unwanted Houseguests
4. Say No to Taking on the Work for a Big Holiday Celebration

Emotional Survival Guide for the Holidays: 7 Tips

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Emotional Survival Guide for the Holidays: 7 Tips
Experts explain some simple methods for driving away the holiday blues.


‘Tis the season to be jolly? Not necessarily.
For many people the holiday season, which kicks off with Thanksgiving and spans through New Year’s, is anything but blissful. In fact, this time of year may trigger a bout of the blues or perhaps ignite a depression that has been smoldering under the surface for months.
"Holiday blues are a pretty common problem despite the fact that as a society, we see the holidays as a joyous time," says Rakesh Jain, MD, director of psychiatric drug research at the R/D Clinical Research Center in Lake Jackson, Texas. "Many people feel depressed, which can be due to the increased stress that comes with the need to shop and the decreased time to exercise which gets put on the back burner during the holidays." While people with clinical depression should seek professional help, those with a touch of the holiday blues can try these strategies recommended by experts to assure a jolly Christmas and a happy new year.

Visiting Ghosts of Christmas Past
"See what it was in the past that led to trouble, whether drinking too much alcohol or not exercising enough or the decreased social contact that comes from going to parties with relative strangers, but forgetting to connect with friends and family," Jain suggests. "Every time depression visits, it leaves a fingerprint. Look for what in the past has been a repeat source of trouble and find ways to avoid it. If you plan, it’s very likely that you won’t be singing the blues this holiday season."

Sending a Holiday Card — to Yourself
"Writing about your holiday blues can actually change them," says Darlene Mininni, PhD, MPH, author of The Emotional Toolkit. "People who write about their deepest feelings when they’re upset are less depressed, less anxious, and more positive about life than people who write about mundane things," she tells WebMD. She suggests writing for 15 minutes a day for three or four days in a row and answering such questions as "Why does this upset me so much?" Or "What would I like to see happen?"

Avoiding Scrooges and Grinches
"Look at how to protect yourself from the energy vampires of the holiday season who deplete your holiday energy reserve," suggests Judith Orloff, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles and the author of Positive Energy. They can include the drama queens, blamers, criticizers, and sob sisters, she explains. Instead, "try and be around positive people. If your Aunt Meg can suddenly start up and start blaming and criticizing you and make you feel like a wreck, don’t sit next to her. Stake out a seat early."  "If you know sitting next to Uncle Jake at Christmas dinner will freak you out, assure that whoever does the seating arrangement moves you to another location," says Susan Newman, PhD. Newman is the author of The Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say It — and Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever. "Don’t be wishy-washy about decisions. People can’t read your mind. If something upsets you they won’t know it unless you say so."

Not Going Home for the Holidays
"If you want to go to your partners’ family this year and you have always gone home, simply explain that this is what you want to do and don’t obsess about the consequences," Newman says. "Remember, people are really looking to get something done and they are not thinking about you as much you think they are. When you say no, they are on to the next person or task. When you say no to people, you put yourself first and during the holidays, we are always putting everybody else in front of us."

Dashing Through the Snow
"Get outside and exercise," says psychologist Joan Borysenko, PhD. Borysenko is the author of the soon-to-be-published book Saying Yes to Change. "This can be hard because if you live in certain parts of the country, it’s cold and snowing during the holiday season. But getting outside is great because you get sun, fresh air, and exercise," she says. Exercise has been shown to boost level of endorphins, the body’s natural antidepressants.

Remembering That It Really Is ‘A Wonderful Life’
"Be grateful for what you do have and all the positive things that have happened in your life," Orloff says. "Talk to supportive friends on the phone and find the kind of support to make you feel less lonely rather than dwelling on the loneliness." Jain agrees. "Thinking that the glass is half full, not half empty, is a simple but effective tool," he says. "Instead of thinking about what you can’t buy, think about the extra time and joy that you have to share with your friends and family."

Creating a Photo Opportunity
Many people actually love the holidays and feel let down only when the holiday season is over, Baron says. But making a plan to get together after New Year’s can help keep the holiday spirit alive longer. "Take lots of pictures over the holidays and plan a late-January get-together where everyone can share their pictures," he suggests. "It’s something to look forward to without waiting for the spring thaw."


Holiday Tips: Nurturing The Spirit Year Round

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Holiday Tips: Nurturing The Spirit Year Round

Learning from the Holidays

Holidays and joy are two elements of our lives that are naturally intertwined. Traditional celebrations awaken within us an ardent desire to reconnect with the people we care about and to share our abundance. During the holiday season, we feel more driven to actively practice compassion, tolerance, selflessness, and gratitude. When we feel stressed, we find peace in the company of loved ones. And, filled with warm thoughts, we endeavor to ensure that others can share in our celebrations. Yet while happiness and holidays go hand in hand, the serenity and optimism that blossom within as we act on our festive feelings need not be relegated to a few days or weeks each year. We can carry the holiday spirit within us all year long if we make an effort to embrace a celebratory frame of mind no matter what the date.

Holding the holidays in your heart can be wonderfully transformative. Changing your life can be as simple as thinking about the uplifting activities you engage in and the positive attitudes you adopt during the holiday season and then integrating them into your daily life. If you learn to always be as open to wonder as you are around the holidays, the world will seem like a more magical place, whether it is December, March, or August. While holidays represent a great opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, there is little preventing you from reaching out to the people you care about throughout the year. The patience, compassion, goodwill, and tolerance you feel while celebrating can easily become a part of your everyday experience. Likewise, you will soon discover that the generous charitable gifts you give once a year mean just as much during other months and are often needed even more.

To remind yourself of your decision to carry the holiday spirit in your heart, consider displaying some small part of your holiday décor to signify your commitment. Remember that giving, whether your gifts are tangible or of the soul, always feels good, whatever the occasion. However you prefer to celebrate the holidays, practicing the ideals of the season every day means experiencing the beauty of the holiday season all year long.

POEM: My First Christmas in Heaven

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I see the countless Christmas trees,
Around the world below,
With tiny lights, like Heaven’s stars,
Reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away the tear,
For I am spending Christmas
In Heaven this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs,
That people hold so dear,
Bus the sounds of music can’t compare,
With the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you
The joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description
To hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart,
But I’m not so far away,
We really aren’t apart.

So be happy for me dear ones.
You know I hold you near,
And be glad I’m spending Christmas
In Heaven this year.

I send you each a special gift,
From my heavenly home above.
I send you each a memory
Of my undying love.

Author Unknown

Heart of the Holidays Book Receives Another 5-Star Review

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Heart of the Holidays Book
Receives Another

5-Star Review 

There are times during the holidays when things aren’t as cheery and happy as we would like them to be. This book is a perfect companion during these times.

The stories and poems are uplifting, comforting and poignant. You can read a story or two at a time. There’s no pressure to "finish this book." In fact, a book like this is never really finished. It’s something that will be sitting in easy reach for many seasons. I’m sure. We can all use some inspiration and comfort all through the year.

A great read any time of the year.

-Marilyn Dalrymple

The First Nutcracker: Tchaikovsky’s Ballet

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On Dec. 18, 1892, the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg held the first performance of Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker.

TRIVIA: The Twelve Days of Christmas

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Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas) start with Christmas Day and finish with the eve of Epiphany on 5th January. The Twelve Days of Christmas dates back to English origins in the sixteenth century although the music is reputed to be French.

The first publication date for The Twelve Days of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas) was 1780. Each of the The Twelve Days of Christmas has a religious significance and are symbolized following the lyrics of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Surviving the Holidays

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Surviving the Holidays
by Jacqueline Wales

We are all gearing up for the Holiday Season, and since many of us love it and maybe just as many hate it, I’d like to offer you my five top tips for getting through the chaos without losing your mind.

  1. You are not the GIFTS you give. YOU ARE THE GIFT. Remember to treat it with respect.
  2. You don’t have to accept every party invitation that comes your way. People will love you anyway.
  3. Gift giving is not a competitive sport. If you receive something, you don’t have to give one back, especially if it means going into debt to do so.
  4. When the hurly-burly sets in……Remember to Breathe
  5. If you so desire….. be a BAH HUMBUG! The party will continue anyway.


Celebrating What Truly Counts

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Celebrating What Truly Counts

The Perfect Holiday

As the holidays arrive it is easy to become distracted by our desire for perfection. It might be the need to craft a festive environment, always be in an upbeat mood, or simply the desire to find just the right gifts for everyone in our lives. Even though these things can be positive, if we start putting too much pressure on ourselves during this season, we are much more apt to forget what truly is important—celebrating our lives with the people we care about.

For many of us this time of year can stir up a host of mixed emotions. For example, we might feel a tinge of nostalgia for past holiday celebrations, when times were simpler, or a sense of being let down due to the unmet expectations we have for ourselves and others. No matter what our feelings are, they are likely to be caused by an unrealistic sense of what the holidays should mean for us. Rather than thinking of this season as a time for finding the perfect gift or hosting the best party, we can get so much more out of the holidays if we create a personal inventory of the things that matter most to us. With each item we add to our list, we can then set the intention to use this season as a time to consciously rejoice in and express our appreciation for the blessings we have. The more we are able to let go of our traditional expectations for the holidays, the more open we will become to the bounteous spirit that lies within us.

Our true enjoyment of this season will only come from looking within and reflecting on the deeper spiritual significance the holidays have for us. Infusing our holiday activities with a sense of gratitude will bring a greater level of enjoyment to our life and also help us extend loving and kind energy to all we encounter. It is this spirit that will allow us to truly celebrate by sharing our greatest gifts—infinite love, peace, understanding, and joy—with those around us.

Story Winner: The Wildest Christmas Dinner

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This is an article submitted to a 1999 Louisville Sentinel contest to find out who had the wildest Christmas dinners.  This won first prize.

Christmas With Louise

As a joke, my brother used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas.  He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them. What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay’s kids’ stockings were overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.

One year I decided to make his dream come true.  I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll.  They don’t sell those things at Wal-Mart.  I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown.

If you’ve never been in an X-rated store, don’t go.  ; You’ll only confuse yourself.  I was there an hour saying things like, "What does this do? You re kidding me!  Who would buy that?"  Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section.

I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour.

Finding what I wanted was difficult.  Love Dolls come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I’d only seen in a book on animal husbandry.  I settled for Lovable Louise.  She was at the bottom of the price scale.  To call Louise a doll took a huge leap of imagination.

On Christmas Eve and with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life.

My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours. Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with Louise’s pliant legs and bottom.  I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray.  I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.

The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused.   She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more.

We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.

My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door.  "What the hell is that?" she asked.

My brother quickly explained, "It’s a doll."

"Who would play with something like that?" Granny snapped.

I had several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut.

"Where are her clothes?" Granny continued.

"Boy, that turkey sure smells nice Gran" Jay said, to steer her into the dining room.

But Granny was relentless.  "Why doesn’t she have any teeth?"

Again, I could have answered, but why would I?  It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, "Hang on Granny, hang on!"

My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said,  "Hey, who’s the naked gal by the fireplace?"

I told him she was Jay’s friend.

A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting.  It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa’s last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well.  We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise like my father in the bathroom in the morning.  Then she lurched from the panty hose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa.

The cat screamed.  I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants.

Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car.

It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember.

Later in my brother’s garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise’s collapse.  We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh.

Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health.

Secret Santa

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The man had just filled his car with gas; he was cold, wet, and ready to head for home. He opened his car door and bent down to climb inside.

"Sir, sir."

He glanced in the direction of the frail voice to find a well-dressed, elderly lady attempting to get his attention.

He closed the car door and walked towards her. "Can I help you, ma’am?"

The older woman explained that the gas pump was not working properly, and asked if he knew what she was doing wrong.

"These are new pumps and very touchy-even for me. I’ve found the easiest thing to do is forget locking them while I fill; they keep shutting off for some reason."

"Oh my! I can’t keep pressure on that handle until my tank is full. My hands don’t have much strength in them anymore." She cast her blue eyes to the ground in frustration.

"I’d be honored to fill your tank for you!" The man’s Texas accent was gentle and he gave her a little wink. "By the way, I love your British accent."

"Yes, a British accent in Texas.people always notice!" She smiled. "We just came to the States a few years ago. That’s my husband in the car." She paused for a moment, "He has Alzheimer’s now."

"I’m so very sorry for both of you." After a slight lull the gentleman continued. "Why don’t you get back in the car while I do this; the snow is picking up and you’re going to get wet."

She was a lovely woman with snowy-white hair; her attire was prim and proper as one would expect from a Brit. "I’d rather visit if you don’t mind. Our son is out of town for Christmas; he’s with his wife’s family this year and I’m feeling a bit blue."

A knot formed in the Texan’s throat and he hoped to change the subject. "Just what are the two of you doing out in this weather? I hope your drive home is a short one. You know these Texas drivers aren’t the best when it comes to snow and sleet," he teased.

"We’re on our way home from a Christmas party. The medical center has one each year for the Alzheimer patients. They are rather like children’s parties-and they have Santa visit. Oftentimes patients will have moments they recall things from their past. Some sing along to Christmas carols when they haven’t carried on an actual conversation in quite a long while."

"Did anyone recognize Santa today?"

"Oh, yes, my husband recognized Santa and tried to steal his hat! He even said, ‘Ho, ho, ho-Merry Christmas.’ His recollection was rather brief but it was the highlight of my day." She grinned.

The gas pump clicked off, the woman swiped her credit card to make payment, and turned to thank the man who had been willing to help her. The two were saying their farewells when the squeal of brakes, a thud, and breaking glass at the intersection caught their attention.

"Oh, my!" The lady whimpered with a distressed expression. "It’s getting so slick. I’ve got to hurry and get home."

"Ma’am, I’d be honored to follow you in case you have problems."

She hesitated momentarily and then appeared relieved, "Oh, I’d be so grateful. I can’t thank you enough. And by the way, my name is Margaret." She reached out to shake hands with her new friend.

"Margaret, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. My name is Ray." He patted her hand gently before they released their grasp. "You just drive slowly; I’ll be right behind you."

When Margaret pulled into her garage Ray stopped curbside. "I just want to be sure you get inside safely," he shouted.

Margaret waved and asked him to wait for a moment-then nodded and spoke to her neighbor hanging Christmas lights. She guided John into the house, quickly reappeared in the garage, and motioned for Ray to pull into the driveway.

She thanked Ray again and soon mentioned this being the first Christmas she and her husband had ever spent alone. Ray, always a soft touch for older folks, was happy to listen. She spoke fondly of traditions her family adhered to when she was a child in England and revealed an interesting glimpse into her a taste of her cherished memories from across the pond.

"You know mistletoe is very traditional in England. My first "real" kiss was under the mistletoe when I was a teenager. Oh, what memories I have." For a split second, Margaret looked like a young girl again.

Several minutes passed before Margaret began to shiver and they were forced to say farewell.
Christmas morn found Margaret peeking out her front door just as the sun crested the horizon. She stepped outside, instantly clasped her hands like a small child, and peered up and down the street. With not a soul in sight she began to examine the items discovered on her porch.each one dredged up memories of years gone by in Merry Old England.

Just above her head hung an arrangement of mistletoe adorned with elegant lace; she touched it gently. Bedecked with Victorian ornaments, a small, lighted Christmas tree sat in the corner-beneath it a homemade mincemeat pie wrapped securely and tied with golden ribbon. The card attached said only, "From: Santa." Hanging from the doorknob a brilliant red Santa Claus hat with tag, "To: John."

Margaret called to John; he slowly made his way and stepped outside. Nothing on the porch sparked his interest until Margaret placed the Santa hat in his hands. After staring at it and stroking the velvety softness, he plopped it onto his head. It sat askew but John’s face beamed as his voice rang out across the neighborhood, "Ho, ho, ho! Ho, ho, ho!"
Parked several houses away, a Secret Texas Santa sniffed and wiped at a lone tear. a happy tear. "Merry Christmas and God Bless." He smiled and drove towards home.
Kathy was born and raised in the small town of Augusta, Kansas, a few miles outside of Wichita. She married a native Texan, Jerry, in 1977 and was soon transplanted to Dallas. A large city offers many things, but she misses the slower pace of small town America. Kathy has two stepchildren and four grandchildren. Pets have always played a huge part in her life. In fact, they were her inspiration to begin writing. Kathy’s website can be viewed at: YELLOW ROSE ( or she can be contacted at

©2007 Kathleene S. Baker

Christmas Season Movie

Christmas, Heart of the Holidays, Kwanzaa, Movies, New Year's, Winter Solstice| No Comments »

Christmas Season Movie

Christmas Season is here.
Childhood memories, wishes, hopes and dreams.
Believing in the miracle and the joy of Christmas.
Giving way to our desires and wishes that our dreams will be.

Mary Robinson Reynolds wrote this movie because for many people, including herself, our first awareness of a connection with something greater than ourselves – the magic, and the miraculous – came through the legend of Saint Nicholas. Dream your dreams … go ahead, rediscover how to get in touch with your heart’s truest desires once again, because the New Year will soon be calling you into action. What you want, wants you! Regardless of what has occurred in your life this past year, the Spirit of the season beckons you to continue forward with the dreams that are trying to be dreamed through you. Some dreams are as simple as those we dreamed of in childhood. Some dreams are bigger than we "of ourselves" can accomplish.

This is the magic of Christmas …Connect with the Spirit of the season…Dream Big!
A sweet movie reminding us of wishes past:

A Letter from Jesus

Christmas, Heart of the Holidays, Readers Respond, Stories| No Comments »

As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there is a celebration in my honour and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated. During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer and closer. It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me. As you know, the celebration of my birthday began many years ago. At first people seemed to understand and be thankful of all that I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the reason for the celebration. Family and friends get together and have a lot of fun, but they do n’t know the meaning of the celebration. I remember that last year there was a great feast in my honour. The dinner table was full of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts and chocolates. The decorations were exquisite and there were many, many beautifully wrapped gifts. But, do you want to know something? I wasn’t invited. I was the guest of honour and they didn’t remember to send me an invitation. The party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside, they closed the door in my face .. and I wanted to be with them and share their table. In truth, that didn’t surprise me because in the last few years all close their doors to me. Since I wa sn’t invited, I decided to enter the party without making any noise. I went in and stood in a corner. They were all drinking; there were some who were drunk and telling jokes and laughing at everything. They were having a grand time. To top it all, this big fat man all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the room yelling Ho-Ho-Ho! He seemed drunk. He sat on the sofa and all the children ran to him, saying:  "Santa Claus, Santa Claus" as if the party were in his honour! At midnight all the people began to hug each other; I extended my arms waiting for someone to hug me and do you know no-one hugged me. Suddenly they all began to share gifts. They opened them one by one with great expectation. When all had been opened, I looked to see if, maybe, there was one for me. What would you feel if on your birthday everybody shared gifts and you did not get one? I then understood that I was unwanted at that party and quietly left. Every year it gets worse.  People only remember the gifts, the parties, to eat and drink, and nobody remembers me. I would like this Christmas that you allow me to enter into your life. I would like that you recognize the fact that almost two thousand years ago I came to this world to give my life for you, on the cross, to save you. Today, I only want that you believe this with all your heart. I want to share something with you. As many didn’t invite me to their party, I will have my own celebration, a grandiose party that no one has ever imagined, a spectacular party. I’m still making the final arrangements. Today I am sending out many invitations and there is an invitation for you. I want to know if you wish to attend and I will make a reservation for you and write your name with golden letters in my great guest book. Only those on the guest list will be invited to the party. Those who don’t answer the invite, will be left outside. Be prepared because when all is ready you will be part of my great party.
See you soon. I Love you!

Polish Christmas

Christmas, Heart of the Holidays, Stories| 1 Comment »

by Krystyna Mazur

Christmas is a festive holiday in Poland. Many customs, ceremonies, and beliefs center around Christmas Eve, a special day in Polish homes. An important element contributing to its dignifed atmosphere are Christmas decorations, notably a beautifly adored  Christmas tree.

    Christmas Eve is believed to affect the entire New Year.  For this reason, it had to be spent in harmony and peace with everyone showing kidness to another.

    Today it is still devoted to long preparations for Christmas Eve dinner. All the work has to be done before dusk. Then they whole family sits down to dine together, in the most important event of the day.

    Traditionally, Christmas Eve dinner begins when the first star appears in the sky. First, there is prayer, sometimes with e reading from scripture about Jesus’ birth. Than the family wishes one another all the best for the New Year and, as a sign of reconciliation, love, friendship, and peace, share oplatek, Christmas wafers, that symbolize holy bread.

    The dinner consist only of meatles dishes. Traditionally, there should be twelve courses, reflecting the number of months in the year. After Christmas dinner, many people end the day by attending the midnight mass known as "Pasterka."

    Today Christmas Eve dinner is sumptuous and diversified. Typical  dishes include red barszcz, beetroot soup with mushrooms or uszka (dumplings stuffed with mushrooms), a plain cabbage dish, or pierogi with cabbage and mushrooms, sweet dumplings with puppy seeds, pastries, cakes, fruit; nuts, sweets and compote drink made from stewed prunes, dried pears, and apples.

   The main treat, though is fish. The Polish cuisine is noted for a variety of fish dishes: soups, herring salads, fish with sauce, cream or jelly, fish in aspic, baked, fried, or boiled fish. A traditional Christmas delicacy is carp or pike in grey sauce with vegetables, almonds, raisins, spices, wine, or beer.

   A popular event during the period after Christmas is the Jaselka, a nativity play staged by amateurs. In the country you can still see caroles who go from house to house with a star or nativity crib. Traditionally, they expect to be tripped for the visit; once the payment was in Christmas delicacies, but today these have been largely replaced by small change.

    The carols are often dressed up and improvise scenes that loosely draw upon biblical motifs. Typically, the characters are King Herod, an angel, a devil, death, and sometimes a gypsy and bear or goat.

  *** My  Inspiration story  you can find in the book Heart of the Holidays created by many other  writers who share their International stories


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