Thursday, December 27, 2012

Snow Upon Snow

A pine tree standeth lonely
In the North on an upland bare;
It standeth whitely shrouded
With snow, and sleepeth there.

It dreameth of a Palm tree
Which far in the East alone,
In the mournful silence standeth
On its ridge of burning stone.
Heinrich Heine, German poet (1797–1856)

I know of at least one Northerner, with snow on his shoulders and cap, who is dreaming of Egypt's stately palms. What would our Egyptian friends think of donning long johns, snow pants, parka, boots, gloves and cap and striking out of the warmth of the house with cheerful enthusiasm to face the elements?

Our first snowstorm of the season started blowing during dinner last evening and dropped so much white stuff that the Time Traveller had to shovel a path to his car. Since then snow continued to accumulate upon itself until morning. We awoke to a quiet, white world blanketed in a foot-thick layer of frozen precipitation.

It's a beautiful sight but it has to be dealt with so right after breakfast, Dad and I headed out to clear the driveways and sidewalks of our elderly neighbours; Dad with a snowblower and me with a shovel. Three hours later we returned home for a warming cup of coffee and some Christmas treats, after which I collapsed into a sound sleep, as deep and as silent as the snowbanks we had created. Welcome wintertime to Ontario!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gifts of Love

Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.
Jean Anouilh, French playwright (1910-1987)

S-I-L puts so much love into her home, particularly at Christmas time. It is a gift of herself to her family that we treasure as we gather together to celebrate Christmas.

S-I-L mentioned that she needed some cotton bags to protect her purse collection and I figured I could make some muslin bags and dress them up with some creative applique, a few buttons and other bits of trim. It was a fun Christmas project and now she'll have the best dressed purses in the closet.

Mom and I began working on a labour of love for the grandson/nephew back in the summer. For the Star Wars fan we created a unique quilt (I think) that has been a really fun partnership. I've wanted to share our work on the blog as it progressed, but couldn't . . . otherwise it wouldn't have been a surprise!

The traditional 'Garden Path' pattern takes on a futuristic spaceship look with the fabric we found. We had quite a time piecing snippets of fabric together so that the 'windows' onto space presented a cohesive appearance and I think we did a pretty fine job of it. What's really cool is that the constellations and planets will glow in the dark of the recipient's 'man cave'.

We found some perfect fabric for the quilt's reverse side. As a snowstorm blusters outside, it's our hope that when wrapped up in it, the quilt and the love that went into making it will warm body and soul.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Time

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.
Ruth Eleanor "Peg" Bracken, American cookbook author (1918–2007)

The exhausting busyness of the past few months, filled with baking, gift making and service, concluded today with loving familial fellowship around the dinner table. Everything that we wanted to get done, got done and all the hectic activity succumbed to peace and comfort -- and isn't that exactly what Christmas is all about?

May the Peace and Comfort of Christmas fill our hearts today and always.

Monday, December 24, 2012

♬ Oh Come, All Ye Faithful ♬

Oh, come let us adore Him!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Angels Still Appear

Angels still appear to those
ready to receive blessings
in spite of the barren
impossibility of their lives.

Elizabeth still recognizes Jesus
and calls him Lord,
receiving him to her heart,
in spite of the distraction
of her own blessing.

Blessings still come
to those who believe
that nothing is impossible
in the hand of God.

Mary still gives birth,
not just every Advent,
Mary still gives birth
each day to this Child
who advents into hearts,
unexpectedly and forever.

Herods still live who
would kill this Child,
but Mary and Joseph
still flee into the desert,
and the night,
to protect the One
given into their keeping.

Doors still slam in the
inns of this world,
Herods still plot to kill,
deserts and darkness
still threaten our safety,
but God still lives.
In spite of war and terror,
Mary gives birth
to the Prince of Peace.
In spite of hunger,
Mary gives birth
to the Bread of Life.
In spite of lost sheep,
Mary gives birth
to the Good Shepherd.
In spite of hearts
pregnant with hatred,
Mary gives birth to LOVE.

It is not done!
It is not done!
It is not done!
The birthing is not over.
The blessings continue.
Angels wait in the wings!

"Angels Still Appear" by Ann Weems in From Advent's Alleuia to Easter's Morning Light (2010)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

♬ Give Love on Christmas Day ♬

Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don't quite know how to put our love into words.
Harlan Miller, British writer

With just three days before Christmas, it seemed that everyone was on the road or in the malls. Some folk looked perplexed, others frantic, and yet others took the time to smile at strangers. Two strangers had to laugh with each other as we tried to pass around the newly arrived inventory blocking the aisle. Yes, indeed, the calendar may say December 22 and the shelves may still be full of Christmas paraphernalia, but Valentine's Day is on the minds of marketers. Slipping a red, heart-shaped box of chocolates under the Christmas tree would certainly let a loved one know you care . . . although eyebrows might rise querying if the gift was bought ten months earlier. All this begs the question, why don't we Give Love on Christmas Day?

Give Love on Christmas Day
People making lists
Buying special gifts
It's a time to be kind
To one and all
It's that time of year
When good friends
Are dear
And you wish you
Could give more
Than just presents
From a store

Why don't you give love
On Christmas day
(On Christmas day)
Oh, even the man
Who has everything
Would be so happy
If you would bring
Him love
On Christmas day
(On Christmas day)
No greater gift
Is there than love

People you don't know
Smiling out hello
Everywhere there's an air
Of Christmas joy
It's that once a year
When the world's sincere
And you'd like
To find a way
To show the things
That words can't say

Why don't you give love
On Christmas day
(On Christmas day)
The man on the street
And the couple upstairs
All need to know
That there's one cares
Give love
On Christmas day
(Christmas day)
No greater gift
Is there than love
What the world
Needs is love
Yes, the world
Needs your love

Why don't you give love
On Christmas day
(On Christmas Day)
Oh, every little child
On Santa's knee
Has room for your love
Underneath his tree
Give love
On Christmas day
(Christmas day)
No greater gift
Is there than love
What the world
Needs is love
Yes, the world
Needs your love

Give love
On Christmas day
(Christmas day)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Laughing Chickens

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright.
Mel Tormé and Bob Wells in "The Christmas Song" (1944)

Running across the muddy parking lot of my favourite poultry purveyor, carrying the Christmas turkey in my arms, I caught sight of a congress of roosters and hens running towards me through the field of tall grass. They scurried down into the ditch and up again and ran across the gravel, coming to a halt outside the purveyor's door. Their appearance surprised me because they have never been around during my other numerous forays here to purchase chicken. Then I realized: these roosters and hens have no fear at this time of year. It's their cousins, the geese and turkeys, that need to keep a low profile. The chickens are cackling with yuletide joy.

In the jolly spirit of the chickens, I leave you with Mr. Bean and his Christmas turkey:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Christmas Rush

Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given, when Christmas Day comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes.
Joan Winmill Brown, British actress and author

In the rush of seasonal activity, I have neglected my chocolate box but many good things have overflowed with the cookie baking, shopping and making presents, chatting with good friends and re-connecting with lost ones, clapping along to musical theatre, feasting at a festive potluck, using my 'new' voice to read for the first time during a candlelight worship service, preparing for a job interview, helping out at the no-charge Christmas store and, finally this evening, decorating the Christmas tree. What a bounty of blessings!

Through all my years, setting up the Christmas creche always causes me to pause and give thanks. From the time I was a child, unwrapping each of the figures and arranging them around the baby has been a stirring task as my heart hears:
 The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sweet Giving

It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), founder of the Missionaries of Charity (1910-1997)

When the neighbour lady phoned asking me to drop round her house, I figured there was a problem with her computer as it can, on occasion, leave her shaking her 88-year-old head (it's a Windows machine, what can I say?). But there was no computer problem. She greeted me at the door with a lovely gift of cheeses, English pickle, orange chocolate, and a plate of homemade mince pies and carrot cake to carry back to the family. Her thoughtful present warmed the ol' homestead. We beamed at her kindness and it looked to me as if even the mince pies were smiling . . . before Dad gobbled one up. ;-)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

♬ It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! ♬

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, American author (1867-1957)

The Time Traveller and I meandered along a park path lined with festive lights. I was like a child, gleefully pointing, "Oh, look there!", as a snowman blew chilly air to create a snowflake; and "Oh, look at that!", as trainee reindeer jumped off a ski ramp and drifted down to the ground with parachutes. There's magic in the air at the most wonderful time of the year when middle-aged old timers feel like kids again and gladly clap their hands in delight.

Be of good cheer at this most wonderful time of the year!

For a trip down memory lane to a time before digital effects, watch Andy Williams sing "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year". The song was composed in 1963 by Edward Pola and George Wyle, who worked with Andy on his TV show. They don't make entertainment like this anymore.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer"
It's the most wonderful time of the year
It's the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It's the hap- happiest season of all

There'll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago

It's the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When love ones are near
It's the most wonderful time of the year

There'll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago

It's the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When love ones are near
It's the most wonderful time
It's the most wonderful time
It's the most wonderful time
It's the most wonderful time of the year

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wreathed In Smiles

Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.
Author Unknown

Cat keeps us wreathed in smiles. Her favourite game involves hunting ankles and today she camouflaged herself in the greenery of an as-yet-unhung Christmas wreath to stalk her prey. With her daily antics, there is never a dull moment 'round the ol' homestead.

On route to buy Cat the chicken for her meals, the car turned itself into the parking lot of our local purveyor of fine Eccles cakes. Their garden, aglow with decorative cabbage, made for a cheery entrance. They, too, brought a smile to the day.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas and Cat

God made the cat in order that man might have the pleasure of caressing the tiger.
Fernand Mery, French veterinarian (1897-1983)

Christmas decorations are slowly coming out of storage. With their baubles and bows and bells and boughs, Cat is on a prowl of wonderment. It's sooooo exciting!