The Characters of Christmas – Joseph

December 4, 2016

There was a man who lived in Nazareth, a carpenter by trade, who, in another time and another place, might have had a very different occupation.  This man could have been king of Israel. He was a direct descendant of King David through his son Solomon.  If the Romans hadn’t conquered Israel Joseph may have been king instead of a carpenter.

Joseph was a godly man who knew God’s word and obeyed God.  He not only obeyed God, but he also obeyed the government that God placed over Israel.  He was a just man who took his responsibilities seriously.

Joseph was espoused to a girl named Mary, a virgin also from Nazareth.  She, too, was a descendant of King David but not of the kingly line.  He loved her deeply and was looking forward to making her his wife.  He must have been devastated when Mary told him that she was pregnant.  She must have told him that this baby was from God and not from a sexual relationship with another man.  She must have told him about the angel Gabriel’s visit and what he told her.  But Joseph’s mind was still in turmoil.  How could she have done this?  She knows the punishment according to the Torah for fornication was death.  Should he divorce Mary or quietly put her away?  After all, he had his own reputation to consider.  Joseph’s sleep that night must have been fitful with much tossing and turning.  Then an angel of the LORD, quite possibly Gabriel, came to Joseph in a dream confirming what Mary had told him.  Being obedient to God, Joseph took Mary as his wife. We’re not told at what point in Mary’s pregnancy they got married.

Word came from the Roman emperor that all men were to go to their home city, the city of their ancestors, to be counted for tax purposes.  Joseph knew that Mary’s time was near and probably would have done all he could to let her stay in Nazareth while he took part in the census.  Mary, however, refused choosing to go with Joseph to Bethlehem, a very long journey for a woman about to give birth to a baby.  The Bible does not say that Joseph had a donkey for Mary to ride, but Joseph’s concern for Mary was great enough for us to assume that he did something so Mary would not have to walk the distance.  When they arrived in Bethlehem they were tired and needed a place to rest.  The baby was coming soon, maybe even that night.  Joseph went from inn to inn looking for a place to stay.  But no place was available.  No room could be made for the couple soon to have a baby.  Finally someone said they could sleep in his stable.  They gladly accepted.  Joseph made a place in the hay and straw for Mary and him to sleep.  Sometime while they were staying in the stable the baby Jesus was born.

Sometime after Jesus was born Joseph found a house for the family to stay.  When Jesus was forty days old, Joseph and Mary took Him to the temple to offer the sacrifice redeeming the first-born male as required by Jewish law.  It is safe to assume that the wise men did not arrive before this event because of what happened after they left.  The Bible does not say how long Joseph and Mary lived in Bethlehem before the wise men visited.  It could have been as long as two years, because Herod killed every boy baby two years old and younger, but not less than forty days.  Sometime after the wise men arrived and quite possibly that same night, Joseph had another dream.  In it he was told to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt because Herod would try to kill the baby.  The little family fled to Egypt and stayed there until Herod died.  After Herod’s death Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to Nazareth.

We are not told much about Joseph after he and his family returned to Nazareth.  We do know that Joseph and Mary had a number of children together, a number of Jesus’ half-brothers being mentioned by name in the Bible.  We also know that Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem every year, at least until He was twelve years old, for the Feast of the Passover.  After that time Joseph is never mentioned again.  Some speculate that Joseph died fairly early in Jesus’ life.  They say that Joseph was anywhere from twenty to forty years older than Mary and died of old age.  However, it is not unreasonable to believe that Joseph and Mary were much closer in age.  Carpentry can be a hazardous job, and Joseph could have died in a carpentry accident.  Or Joseph could still have been living when Jesus died but was never mentioned because he did not factor in any more of the stories told in the Bible.  It is impossible to say for sure because the Bible is silent on the issue.

Joseph, because of his obedience to and love for God, was given a very important job, raising the Son of God.  It must have overwhelmed him at times, but God was with Joseph guiding him all the way and giving him the wisdom needed to do the job.

The Characters of Christmas – Mary

November 25, 2016

It has been several years since I posted this blog series so I decided to repost it.  As Advent begins this weekend use these reflections as part of your Advent contemplations.


Mary lived with her family in the town of Nazareth.  They were a poor family living in a town with a poor reputation.  “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” was the popular sentiment of the day.  They were descendants of King David through David’s son Nathan, but since the Romans were in control very few of the Jewish royal family were affluent.

Mary was a young girl, a virgin.  We don’t know her age.  Some believe she may have been as young as fourteen years old; others say she was older.  The Bible, however, does not give her age.  She was a loving, caring girl with a servant’s heart.  She was a thankful, trusting person, too.  She was obedient both to her parents and her God.  She was a normal, young Jewish girl with dreams of being a good wife and mother.

Mary’s parents were godly people who made sure Mary also knew God and loved Him.  They taught her the Holy Scriptures.  Because of this Mary was highly favored by God.

Mary was espoused to a man named Joseph, a godly man who also loved God, when she entertained a special visitor.  The angel Gabriel was sent by God to give a special message to Mary.  Gabriel said that God was with Mary and that she was blessed among women.  Gabriel revealed that she was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah.  Mary knew all the prophesies about the Messiah.  She probably hoped that she would be the one to give him life, but she was still surprised and probably stunned to hear that she was the one chosen by God to bear His Son.  She was willing to be used by God but questioned how this was to come about.  She was a virgin.  She never had sex with any man.  So how was she to have this baby?  Gabriel explained that God would take care of everything, and Mary understood that this impregnation would occur without the help of a man.  Mary must have wondered what other people would think of her.  Here she would be pregnant without a husband.  Oh, how the gossip would fly.  And what would Joseph think?  Would he leave her?  Would he divorce her?  Would he make an example of her and cause her to go before the judges?  She knew that God’s law said adulteresses should be put to death.  But Mary’s faith and trust in God shone forth.  She knew if God called her to carry His Son then He would take care of her even if the whole world were against her.

Mary was a loving, caring girl with a servant’s heart as evidenced by what she did when she heard that her cousin Elizabeth was six months pregnant.  Mary, being pregnant herself, left her home and stayed with Elizabeth and her husband for three months helping them with the housework, with the work in the fields, with everything imaginable.  Elizabeth’s pregnancy, like Mary’s, was a miraculous pregnancy.  Elizabeth and her husband were too old to have children; yet God intervened and caused them to have a child.

Mary was a faithful girl, faithful to her God and faithful to her husband.  Instead of staying in Nazareth when the Romans made Joseph go to Bethlehem to be counted in the census, where she could have had her baby in a warm house, Mary went with Joseph on the rough, possibly even dangerous trip to Bethlehem; and she made this trip when she was nine months pregnant.  Many believe that Mary made the trip riding on a donkey.  The Bible doesn’t say that.  She may have been walking.  Not likely, but it may have happened. I am sure Joseph would have done all he could to make the trip as easy as possible for Mary.  When they arrived at Bethlehem they were tired.  Joseph spent a lot of time going from inn to inn looking for a place for them to stay especially since Mary could give birth at any time, but nothing was available.  Mary was gracious.  When a stable was offered she willingly took it, choosing to sleep on the straw instead of the hard, cold ground.

Mary was also a strong girl, strong spiritually and strong physically, too.  She was tired from the long trip, tired from the search for a place to spend the night.  All she wanted to do was lay down and sleep, but she could not. Labor pains began.  The baby was born.  And yet she still could not rest for a group of shepherds entered the stable asking, “Is this the place?”  Then they explained why they were there.  What an incredible, unbelievable story!  Unbelievable to anyone who has never interacted with an angel.  Mary believed.  Mary knew why they were there worshiping her little Son.  Yet Mary did not understand everything that was happening because she pondered in her heart all that she heard.  She did not understand why her God would send His Son birthed by her to save the world from their sins.  Only after the shepherds left could Mary get some sleep if her thoughts did not keep her awake.

Two other times we are told that Mary pondered things she saw and heard in her heart.  One was about forty days after Jesus’ birth.  She and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to offer the sacrifices of purification as demanded by Jewish law and the scriptures.  Simeon and Anna, two elderly people who were frequently found at the temple, came to them and worshiped Jesus and told Mary their story.  Simeon even prophesied about Jesus’ death.  This must have really puzzled Mary.  The next was when the wise men knocked on the door of their house.  We do not know exactly when this was as the Bible does not say.  We can surmise that it was more than forty days after Jesus’ birth because Mary, Joseph, and Jesus left for Egypt the soon after the wise men left.  It may have been as long as two years after Jesus’ birth.  Why else would Herod have killed all babies in Bethlehem two years old and younger?  The wise men worshiped her Son and gave him wonderful gifts.  The gifts that were given to Jesus would have caused anyone to stop and think.  Gold is a kingly gift, frankincense a priestly gift, and myrrh a burying spice.

Mary truly was blessed among women and highly favored with God and man.  She was chosen by God to bring His Son into the world.  She believed God and trusted Him to get her through the hardships of life and trusted her son, the Son of God, to take away her sins and be her Savior.

 

Christmas Holly

October 26, 2016

By George Wither

The holly! the holly!
Oh, twine it with the bay!
Come, give the holly a song,
For it helps to drive
Stern Winter away,
With his garments so somber and long,
Then sing to the Christmas holly
That hangs over peasant and king.

It peeps through the trees,
With its berries of red
And its leaves of burnished green,
When the flowers and fruits have
Long been dead And not even
The daisy is seen.

Then sing to the holly,
The Christmas holly,
That hangs over peasant and king.
While we laugh and make merry
Neath its glittering boughs,
To the Christmas holly we’ll sing.
So now is come our joyful feast;
Let every man be jolly;
Each room with ivy leaves is dressed
And every post with holly.


Christmas Cranberry Pudding

1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups fresh cranberries, halved
½ cup molasses
1/3 cup hot milk
½ cup chopped nuts

Sift flour with baking soda.  Stir in cranberries.  Combine molasses and milk; stir into cranberry mixture until well blended.  Stir in nuts.  Pour into a 6-cup buttered mold.  If the mold has a lid, butter the inside and cover mold or cover with buttered aluminum foil pressed tightly over mold and secured with string.  Place mold on a rack in a pan with a tight-fitting cover.  Pour about 1 inch of water into the pan.  Bring water to a boil and cover; reduce heat to simmer.  Steam for 2 hours.  Cool 10 minutes; unmold.

Sauce

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup light cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter in a 1-quart saucepan.  Stir in sugar and cream until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Stir in vanilla.  Serve hot over pudding.

(Poem and recipe taken from Ideals Christmas magazine, 1983)

100 Great Ideas for Gift Baskets

October 3, 2016

christmas-gift-baskets-7With Christmas less than three months away here are some ideas for your Christmas gift giving this year.

1. Use a large terra cotta plant pot for a “basket”. If you like, you can personalize the pot by painting it with acrylic paints. When the paint is dry, spray a light coat of polyurethane over the pot to add a shine. Fill the pot with:

a.. Gardening gloves
b.. Hand trowel
c.. Hand rake
d.. A selection of vegetable and/or flower seeds (go for something unusual)
e.. Bottle of liquid fertilizer
f.. A gardening book
g.. A subscription for a gardening magazine

 2. Use a large pasta bowl for a “basket”. Fill the bowl with:
a.. A package or two of gourmet pasta
b.. Tongs
c.. A package of sun-dried tomatoes
d.. Extra-virgin olive oil
E.. Spices: oregano, basil, garlic powder
f.. A collection of your favorite pasta recipes hand-printed on recipe cards
g.. And/or a pasta cookbook

 3. For the golfer, fill a basket or a golf bag with.
a.. Golf tees
b.. Golf balls
c.. A baseball cap
d.. Sunscreen
e.. Score cards
f.. A small towel
g.. A can cooler to keep a can of pop or beer cold
Of course, don’t forget to personalize the towel or baseball cap – you can
stitch on them, use fabric paints, etc.

 4. Wine appreciation basket. Fill a Basket with:
a.. Two bottles of quality wine, one red, one white
b.. Corkscrew
c.. 2 or more wine glasses
d.. Wine appreciation book
e.. Tickets or an invitation to a wine tasting (often held at wine specialty shops or wineries)
Extras: add snacks to go with the wine – fine cheese, fruit, crackers, etc.

 5. For the dog lover. Fill a large dog bowl with:
a.. Sqeeky toy
b.. Rawhide bone
c.. Dog biscuits
d.. Dog brush
e.. Dog collar
f.. Leash 

6. For the crafter. Use a rubber storage container for a “basket” Fill the container with:
a.. Glue gun and glue sticks
b.. Acrylic paints
c.. Assorted brushes
d.. A craft knife
e.. Other craft supplies such as beads, pom-poms, wood sticks, buttons, stickers, dried flowers, etc.
f.. Craft patterns or how-to books

 7. Fill a square basket with:
a.. Note cards
b.. Envelopes (choose a variety of sizes)
c.. Note paper
d.. Letter opener
e.. A pen or a pen and pencil set
f.. A personalized seal and some sealing wax
g.. Personalized return address labels

8. For the shutterbug. Fill a basket or a camera bag with:
a.. Assorted film
b.. Coupons for picture developing
c.. Filters for his/her camera
d.. Lens cleaning solution and cloth
e.. Assorted picture frames and/or albums

9. How about a relaxation pack. Fill the basket with:
a.. A gel eye-pack
b.. Epsom salts or bubble bath
c.. Aroma therapy oils
d.. Scented candles
e.. Books on tape (to listen to in the bath)
f.. A hand-held massager
g.. Relaxing music on CD or cassette

10. Kids Coloring Kit. Fill a rubber/plastic storage box with:
a.. Crayons (get the big package with tons of colors)
b.. Non-toxic markets
c.. Assorted papers, include a variety of colors and textures
d.. Coloring books
e.. Assorted stickers
f.. A paint box and brushes 

11. For the sports enthusiast, use a sports helmet or hat as a “basket” ( eg. baseball cap, football helmet, etc.).  Fill the helmet or hat with:
a.. Sports cards
b.. Baseball, puck, etc.
c.. Shoe, boot or skate laces
d.. For the hockey player, add: lace tightener and some tape
e.. For the baseball player, add: mineral oil, batting glove and gum
f.. A sports video
g.. A subscription to a sports magazine
h.. A poster of their favorite player 

12. For the new home owner. Use a tool box as a “basket”. Fill the box with:
a.. Screw drivers
b.. Wrench
c.. Hammer
d.. Pliers
e.. Assorted nails, screws, washers
f.. Gift certificate for the local hardware store
g.. Do-it-yourself book
h.. Assorted odds and ends like: light switch covers, light bulbs, duct tape paint brushes, knobs and handles, etc.

13. For the guitar player. Fill the basket with:
a.. assorted picks
b.. tuning fork
c.. sheet music
d.. CDs or cassettes of great guitar players
e.. guitar strings
f.. electronic tuner
g.. lesson books 

14. For the soap opera fan. Fill the basket with:
a.. tissues
b.. bon-bons
c.. soap opera magazines
d.. biographies of their favorite stars
e.. pictures of their favorite stars
f.. blank video tapes
g.. fan club membership 

15. Create a winter fun pack. Fill a toque with:
a.. lip balm
b.. moisturizer
c.. mittens
d.. hot packs
e.. a pass to the local ski hill
f.. hot chocolate
Extras: add a crazy carpet or a sled (although it won’t actually fit inside the “basket”, you can present it on the side).

16. For someone who is into new age. Fill a basket with:
a.. tarot cards
b.. crystals
c.. scented candles
d.. incense
e.. new age music on CD or cassette
f.. certificates for palm reading, psychic reading, etc.
g.. books 

17. For grandparents who are far away. Fill a basket with:
a.. children’s artwork
b.. gifts made by the kids
c.. frames family pictures (let the kids buy plain wooden frames and decorate them with stickers)
d.. videos of the family
e .. a long-distance calling card
Extras: fill out the basket with candy, coffee, tea, biscuits, Christmas ornaments, candles, etc.

18. For the craft enthusiast, how about a project in a “basket”. Fill a basket or a rubber/plastic box with:
a.. grape vine wreath
b.. dried flowers
c.. pine cones
d.. hot glue gun and glue sticks
e.. wreath hanger
f.. ribbon

19. For the one who loves their car. Fill a basket or a bag with:
a.. tire gauge
b.. quart (or gallon) of oil
c.. wax
d.. chamois
e.. car wash coupons
f.. squeegee for the windows
g.. mileage log and pen
h.. travel mug 

20. The sundae basket. Fill a basket with:
a.. ice cream scoop
b.. gourmet sauces
c.. sprinkles
d.. cones
e.. maraschino cherries
f.. assorted nuts
g.. sundae glasses and spoons
h.. coupons for gourmet ice cream

21. Fill a gold fish bowl with:
a.. fish food
b.. aquarium gravel
c.. net
d.. gift certificate for fish from pet store
e.. book about care of gold fish

22. Use a cookie tin for a “basket “. Fill the tin with:
a.. your favorite cookie recipes or a cookbook
b.. cookie cutters
c.. chocolate chips
d.. nuts
e.. decorator icing set
f.. assorted sprinkles

23. Here’s a rainy day basket. Fill a basket with:
a.. deck of cards
b.. cribbage board
c.. find-a-word and/or crossword books and pencil
d.. herbal tea
e.. tea cup

24. Accessories for men. Fill an overnight bag with:
a.. socks
b.. underwear
c.. belt
d.. tie
e.. tie clip
f.. handkerchiefs
g.. wallet
h.. watch

25. For the shop-a-holic. Fill a basket with:
a.. cushioned insoles
b.. directories for local malls
c.. gift certificates (get a lot of small ones for different stores)
d.. tote bag to carry home purchases
e.. parking pass
f.. list of babysitters or volunteer to babysit
g.. coupons

26. Create a comedy pack. Fill a basket with:
a.. deck of trick cards
b.. whoopee cushion
c.. chattering teeth
d.. joke books
e.. comedy movies, cassettes or CDs
f.. tickets to a comedy club

27. For the woodworker. Fill a basket or rubber/plastic box with:
a.. assorted sandpapers
b.. chisels
c.. router bits
d.. saw blades
e.. files
f.. varnishes
g.. brushes
h.. paints
i.. patterns and/or instructions

28. For the computer buff. Fill a basket with:
a.. mouse pad
b.. diskettes
c.. novelty or personalized disk labels
d.. anti-static wristband
e.. travel mug (so that things won’t spill on the computer)
f.. a list of your favorite Web sites

29. Create a salon pack. Fill a basket with:
a.. salon shampoo and conditioner
b.. hair brush and/or combs
c.. barrettes
d.. combs
e.. scrunchies
f.. clips, bows, pins, twists, etc.
g.. book on hair styles

30. Fill a stew pot or pottery casserole dish with:
a.. assorted dried beans: kidney, black, white, navy, pinto, etc.
b.. dried red chili peppers
c.. chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, cilantro
d.. chili recipes
e.. ladle
f.. oven mitts

31. For the teenage girl. Fill a purse with:
a.. a wallet (you can even start it off with a little cash)
b.. key chain
c.. lipstick holder
d.. purse sized perfume atomizer
e.. purse sized hair brush and mirror

32. For expectant parents. Fill a baby’s bath tub with:
a.. hooded towel
b.. wash cloth
c.. rubber ducky
d.. baby shampoo
e.. baby powder
f.. baby lotion
g.. terri sleeper

33. For those who make their own wine or beer. Fill a box with:
a.. wine or beer kit
b.. empty bottles
c.. personalized or novelty wine/beer labels
d.. beer caps or wine corks
e.. caper
f.. recipes

34. For the skier. Fill a tote bag with:
a.. lip balm
b.. sunscreen
c.. goggles
d.. gloves
e.. scarf
f.. ski pass
g.. wax

35. For the executive or the home-office owner. Fill a briefcase with:
a.. day timer
b.. business card holder (one for the wallet, one for the desktop)
c.. pen and pencil set
d.. newspaper subscription
e.. shoe polish
f.. reference books
g.. desk calendar
h.. coffee mug

36. Create a New Year’s Eve party pack. Fill a basket with:
a.. champagne
b.. glasses
c.. party hats
d.. noise makers
e.. sparklers
f.. confetti
g.. balloons
h.. party invitations

37. For the crochet or knitting enthusiast. Fill a basket with:
a.. assorted needles or crochet hooks
b.. assorted patterns
c.. buttons
d.. ribbons
e.. personalized “made by” labels
f.. wool

38. For the writer. Fill a basket with:
a.. lined note pads
b.. an engraved pen
c.. reference books (dictionary, thesaurus, quotes, how-to books)
d.. pocket tape recorder and tapes
e.. style guide
f.. newsletter or magazine subscription
g.. books about how to get published

39. For the music groupie. Fill a basket with:
a.. fan club membership (look for their favorite musician on the Web, many bands now have online fan clubs which also sell tickets, posters, t-shirts and more)
b.. CDs, cassettes of their favorite group
c.. posters of their favorite group
d.. biographies
e.. sheet music
f.. tickets to a concert
g.. band t-shirts

40. Create a night out in a basket. Fill a basket with:
a.. list of babysitters or coupons for babysitting
b.. restaurant guide and/or gift certificates
c.. movie reviews and/or tickets
d.. movie reviews and/or, tickets to a show or a concert
e.. cab fair
f.. lighted key chain

41. For the mystery lover. Fill a deer stalker hat with:
a.. mystery novels
b.. mystery game for computer
c.. magnifying glass
d.. puzzles or brain teaser books
e.. how-to-host a mystery game

42. For the hiker, use hiking boots as a “basket”. Fill with:
a.. maps
b.. rain poncho
c.. bear bells or repellant
d.. trail mix
e.. compass
f.. first aid kit for hikers

43. For the vegetarian. Fill a basket, pot or large bowl with:
a.. your favorite recipes hand-printed on recipe cards
b.. assorted dried beans
c.. brown rice
d.. sun dried tomatoes
e.. spices: oregano, thyme, basil, garlic powder, etc.
f.. mixing spoons
g.. pot holders

44. For the cowboy at heart. Fill a cowboy hat with:
a.. bolo tie
b.. western belt buckle
c.. boot protector
d.. gift certificate for country dancing, horseback riding, rodeo, etc.

45. For someone who like to walk or jog, fill a tote bag with:
a.. pedometer
b.. sweat band
c.. tapes and batteries for the walkman
d.. shoe laces
e.. sport socks
f.. personal alarm
g.. t-shirt
h.. water bottle in a shoulder or waist holder

46. Use a cosmetic bag for a “basket”. Fill the bag with:
|
a.. nail polish
b.. emery boards
c.. nail clippers
d.. nail brush
e.. cuticle remover
f.. nail file
g.. nail polish remover
h.. cotton balls

47. For the couch potato fill a large basket or box with:
a.. assorted bags of flavored popcorn
b.. other snacks like chips, nuts, candy
c.. pre-recorded movies
d.. TV Guide subscription
e.. TV Remote holder
f.. Comfortable slippers
g.. Cushion

48. Create a stock-the-bar package. Fill an ice bucket with:
a.. shot glasses
b.. bottle opener
c.. cork screw
d.. maraschino cherries
e.. cocktail napkins
f.. jar of olives
g.. fancy toothpicks or cocktail umbrellas
h.. bar guide

49. For the crafter, fill a rubber/plastic container with:
a.. small terra cotta plant pots
b.. flexible stencils
c.. acrylic paints
d.. stencil tape
e.. brushes
f.. spray polyurethane
g.. seeds to plant when pots have been decorated

50. Make a kid’s beach pack. Fill a plastic pail with:
a.. plastic shovel
b.. sand molds
c.. beach ball or plastic floatation device (deflated)
d.. beach towel
e.. flip-flops
f.. sunglasses
g.. sunscreen for kids
h.. bathing suit

51. For someone who takes road trips, fill a tote bag with.
a.. maps
b.. travel mug
c.. sunglasses
d.. hotel coupons
e.. tire gauge
f.. beaded seat cover
g.. travel games
h.. recorded music on cassette or CD
i.. car air freshener

52. For the musician. Fill a decorative can with:
a.. reeds/strings/drum sticks/mouthpiece – appropriate for the instrument they play
b.. sheet music
c.. valve oils for brass instrument players
d.. instrument strap
e.. electronic tuner
f.. metronome
g.. recorded music of their favorite artists

53. For someone who likes to BBQ, use an apron with pockets for a “basket”. Fill the apron pockets with:
a.. marinade recipes
b.. BBQ sauce
c.. BBQ tools
d.. packages of meat tenderizer
e.. skewers
f.. gift certificate for the local butcher

54. For the collector: Fill a basket with:
a.. reference books
b.. items they collect
c.. display cases, books, etc.
d.. cleaning supplies (special polishes, oils, brushes, etc.)
e.. tickets to a collectibles show

55. Create a bachelor’s survival kit. Fill a laundry basket with:
a.. laundry guide
b.. cook book featuring easy meals like casseroles
c.. roll of quarters and some laundry soap
d.. take-out pizza coupons
e.. an iron
f.. room deodorizer
g.. any other cleaning supplies
h.. food staples like macaroni dinners, canned tuna, canned soup and, of course, beer!

56. For someone who like to walk or jog, fill a tote bag with:
a.. pedometer
b.. sweat band
c.. tapes and batteries for the walkman
d.. shoe laces
e.. sport socks
f.. personal alarm
g.. t-shirt
h.. water bottle in a shoulder or waist holder

57. For just about anyone. Fill a basket with:
a.. teddy bear
b.. coffee mug
c.. hot chocolate mixes
d.. bedtime story books

58. For the student or the home-office owner, use a rubber garbage can as a “basket”. Fill the can with:
a.. stapler
b.. tacks, paper clips, pens, pencils
c.. notepads
d.. hole punch
e.. desk lamp
f.. desk calendar

59. For the cat lover use a cat basket as a “basket”. Fill it with:
a.. food and water dishes
b.. collar
c.. brush
d.. catnip ball
e.. rubber ball, rubber mice or other cat toys
f.. book on cat care

60. Create a Christmas Decorating basket. Fill a basket with:
a.. nativity set
b.. assorted Christmas ornaments (store bought or hand-made by you)
c.. decorative lights
d.. candles

61. Make a basket full of puzzles. Fill a basket with:
a.. Rubik’s cube
b.. 3D puzzle
c.. jigsaw puzzle
d.. word-search book
e.. crossword puzzle book
f.. slider puzzles
g.. and any other puzzles you can find

62. For someone who sews, fill a sewing basket with:
a.. needles
b.. assorted threads (stick to basic colors: black, white, navy, cream)
c.. pins
d.. thimble
e.. pin cushion
f.. measuring tape
g.. tracing wheel and paper
h.. sewing club membership

63. For someone who likes to lounge in the sun, use a sun hat as a “basket”.  Fill the hat with:
a.. sunscreen
b.. sunglasses
c.. lemonade mix
d.. novel

64. Create a gadget collection, for someone who is moving away from home, getting married, or moving into a new home. Fill a canvas onion bag with:
a.. garlic press
b.. can opener
c.. jar opener
d.. paring knife (carefully wrapped)
e.. strawberry huller
f.. egg slicer
g.. cheese slicer
h.. mixing spoons
i.. measuring spoons and cups
j.. egg timer
k.. grater

65. For the wood shop owner use a shop apron as a “basket”. Fill the apron with:
a.. safety glasses
b.. wood glue
c.. sandpapers
d.. measuring tape
e.. paint brushes
f.. shop magazines
g.. woodworking patterns

66. For the fisherman use a tackle box as a “basket”. Fill it with:
a.. assorted lures
b.. leaders
c.. pliers
d.. gloves
e.. guide to local fishing

67. For baby fill a basket with:
a.. rattle
b.. bib
c.. story book
d.. stuffed animal
e.. sleeper

68. Create a women’s accessories basket. Fill a basket with:
a.. a silk scarf
b.. scarf clip
c.. earrings
d.. belt
e.. broach
f.. necklace
g.. perfume
h.. evening purse

69. For cyclists use a cycling helmet as a “basket”.  Fill it with:
a.. cycling gloves
b.. water bottle
c.. reflectors
d.. sunglasses
e.. odometer
f.. patch kit

70. For the aquarium owner, use a decorative tin for a “basket”. Fill the tin with:
a.. fish food
b.. book about aquarium maintenance
c.. algae magnet (you run the magnet up and down the outside of the tank to remove algae inside the tank)
d.. a net
e.. thermometer
f.. ornaments
g.. gift certificate for fish

71. For someone who likes games, fill a basket with:
a.. decks of cards
b.. dice
c.. poker chips
d.. poker rule book
e.. pocket electronic games
f.. plane tickets to Vegas

72. For the painter: Fill a decorative tin with:
a.. paints (acrylic, water color or oil)
b.. brushes
c.. paper or canvas
d.. charcoal

73. For someone who bakes use a cake pan as a “basket”. Fill the pan with:
a.. pot holders
b.. decorative frosting set
c.. assorted sprinkles and nuts
d.. baking recipes
e.. cake server

74. For someone who travels by plane a lot. Fill a travel bag with:
a.. travel pillow
b.. travel alarm
c.. flight schedules
d.. gum
e.. magazines or novels
f.. toothbrush

75. Create a Christmas box. Fill a decorative Christmas box or tin with:
a.. assorted home-baked cookies
b.. assorted chocolates
c.. Christmas ornaments (better if you made them yourself)
d.. pre-recorded Christmas music
e.. tuck in some candy canes or foil wrapped chocolate Santas for a finishing touch

76. Create a night in, in a basket. Fill the basket with:
a.. wine
b.. wine glasses
c.. pre-recorded movie
d.. candle
e.. candle holder
f.. romantic pre-recorded music
g.. appetizers: cheese and crackers, olives, something you’ve made yourself

77. Create a kid’s bath set. Fill a basket with:
a.. bubble bath
b.. no-tears shampoo and conditioner
c.. bath crayons (they let kids write on the tub or the wall, then they wash off)
d.. bath toys
e.. bath mitt or decorative face cloth
f.. printed towel
g.. robe
h.. slippers

78. For the teenage girl, fill a cosmetic bag or cosmetic tray with:
a.. assorted makeup in the latest fashion colors: lipstick, blusher, eye liner, mascara
b.. cotton swabs
c.. makeup sponges
d.. nail polish in the latest colors
e.. nail file
f.. facial cleanser
g.. facial moisturizer
h.. eye makeup remover

79. For the computer game player. Fill a decorative box with:
a.. membership to an online gaming site
b.. computer game CDs
c.. joy stick
d.. mouse pad
e.. shareware games on diskette

80. For campers, use a backpack as a “basket” Fill the backpack with:
a.. tent pegs
b.. compass
c.. sharpening stone
d.. mosquito repellant
e.. tent patch kit
f.. campers cook set
g.. utility knife of Swiss army knife
h.. campground guides

81. For the lover of spicy foods, use a chili pot as a “basket”.  Fill it with:
a.. spices: cayenne pepper, black pepper, white pepper, dried red peppers, chili powder, paprika
b.. hot sauces like chili sauce
c.. salsas
d.. hot pickles (pick them up from an Asian food store)
e.. fresh peppers
f.. Pepto-Bismol
g.. recipes

82. For the sci-fi fan. Fill a basket with:
a.. Science fiction novels
b.. sci-fi movies
c.. collectible figures (you know, the plastic ones modeled after TV and movie sci-fi characters)
d.. Spock ears
e.. books about their favorite shows or authors
f.. tickets to a sci-fi convention

83. For the engaged couple fill a basket with:
a.. wedding planner
b.. unity candle
c.. garter
d.. cake knife
e.. honeymoon travel information or tickets
f.. wedding decorations
g.. wedding album

84. For someone who works out at the gym fill a tote bag:
a.. towel
b.. water bottle
c.. workout tapes or magazines
d.. power bars
e.. sports drinks
f.. sports socks
g.. gym membership

85. For adults only — fill a basket with:
a.. scented candles
b.. massage oil
c.. lingerie
d.. wine
e.. wine glasses

86. For the jigsaw puzzle lover. Fill a basket with:
a.. jigsaw puzzle
b.. puzzle mat
c.. coffee mug
d.. magnifying glass
e.. gourmet coffee

87. For the naturalist. Fill a knapsack with:
a.. binoculars
b.. bird watching guide or wildlife or wildflower guide
c.. log book and pen
d.. maps
e.. trail mix

88. A small twist on the usual coffee gift basket. Fill a basket with:
a.. gourmet coffees
b.. coffee mugs
c.. novels
d.. chocolates
e.. decorative bookmark (why not make one yourself)

89. For someone who is on their feet all day, use a rubber tub as a “basket”.  Fill the tub with:
a.. Epsom salts or bubble bath
b.. towel
c.. pumice stone
d.. foot lotion or foot powder
e.. comfortable slippers
f.. nail clippers

90. Create a kid’s craft kit. Fill a rubber/plastic storage box with:
a.. colored paper
b.. crayons
c.. stickers
d.. pipe cleaners
e.. buttons
f.. pom-poms
g.. white glue
h.. kid scissors
i.. wooden shapes
j.. wobbly eyes
k.. kid sized craft apron
l.. sparkles

91. For little students fill a children’s lunch box with:
a.. pencil toppers
b.. decorated pencils
c.. colored pencils
d.. rulers
e
.. plastic stencils which let them draw stars, circles, etc.
f.. stapler
g.. children’s scissors
h.. water bottle in a shoulder or waist holder

92. For someone who likes needlepoint fill a basket with:
a.. patterns
b.. canvas
c.. assorted thread
d.. needles
e.. thimble
f.. frames for finished work

93. For the movie buff, fill a basket with:
a.. pre-recorded movies
b.. movie soundtracks on CD or cassette
c.. batteries for the remote control
d.. head cleaner for the VCR
e.. movie tickets or gift certificates
f.. popcorn

94. For someone who like to walk or jog, fill a tote bag with:
a.. pedometer
b.. sweat band
c.. tapes and batteries for the walkman
d.. shoe laces
e.. sport socks
f.. personal alarm
g.. t-shirt
h.. water bottle in a shoulder or waist holder

95. For the electronics hobbyist. Fill a plastic box with:
a.. resistors
b.. capacitors
c.. wire
d.. pliers
e.. soldering iron and solder
f. . light bulbs
g.. LED lights
h.. printed circuit boards
i.. project books
j.. wire cutters
k.. electrical tape

96. For the chocolate lover. Fill a basket with:
a.. chocolate cookies (home baked is best)
b.. chocolate bon-bons
c.. chocolate sauces
d.. chocolate syrup
e.. chocolate dipped coffee spoons
f.. hot chocolate mix
g.. chocolate covered coffee beans
h.. chocolate flavored coffee beans
i.. chocolate recipes

97. For the young at heart — fill a basket or a small toy box with:
a.. silly putty
b.. assorted magnets
c.. magnifying glass
d.. yo-yo
e.. paper airplane kit
f.. kite
g.. kaleidoscope
h.. puzzles

98. For the health food buff. Fill a basket or a mixing bowl:
a.. brown rice (in a bag tied with a ribbon or in a glass jar)
b.. other grains like quinoa, spelt, bulgur, etc.
c.. all-natural candy bars
d.. tofu in aseptic packages (so it doesn’t need refrigeration)
e.. assorted dried beans (black, black-eyed peas, chick peas, lima beans, fava beans, etc.)
f.. assorted spices
g.. all natural skin and body care products (find them at your local health food store)

99. For the someone who never has enough time. Fill a basket with:
a.. coupons for your babysitting time
b.. cookbook featuring meals in 30 minutes or less
c.. day timer to help them organize their time more efficiently
d.. watch
e.. information about or coupons for a shopping service which will do their shopping for them
f.. coupons for other time saving services like dry-cleaning, tailoring, take-out food, car washes, etc.

100. Create a Chinese food “basket”. Fill a basket or a wok with:
a.. Chinese tea set
b.. package of green tea
c.. cook book
d.. cleaver
e.. chop sticks
f.. package dried black mushrooms
g.. bottle of soy sauce
h.. other sauces like plum sauce, Szechuan sauce, teriyaki sauce, etc.

Finishing Touches
Finishing touches actually come into play when you begin to assemble your basket. You can enhance the presentation of baskets, boxes, tins, hats, etc. by first filling them with:
a.. colored cellophane “grass”
b.. crumpled tissue paper
c.. a piece of fabric (try something with a Christmas print)
d.. shredded newspaper or colored paper
e.. straw
f.. raffia

Then carefully arrange your items over top of the filler.  Finish up by tucking in:
a.. candy canes
b.. foil wrapped chocolate Santas
c.. other foil wrapped candies
d.. small pine cones
e.. a bunch of cinnamon sticks tied with red ribbon
f.. Christmas greenery like the tips spruce and pine branches
g.. Christmas ornaments
h.. lots of small bows
i.. mandarin oranges
j.. nuts in the shell
k.. small scented candles
l.. Christmas baking (wrapped in cellophane)

Wrapping Your “Basket”
“Baskets” that are in actual baskets do not need to be wrapped, but if you wish, you can wrap them in cellophane. Simply gather the cellophane around the basket and tie at the top with ribbon.

This method also works for “baskets” made with hats, boxes, bowls, pots, plant pots, etc.  

Decorative boxes and tins usually can stand alone without wrapping.  Rubber storage containers can be wrapped in cellophane as above or can be wrapped with wrapping paper.

Some “baskets” like tote bags, backpacks, shopping bags, etc. are best left unwrapped. Instead, finish them with colorful bows and ribbons.

Our Silver Christmas

August 25, 2016

TIMG_20131129_211658_753his year we experienced a special celebration at our house.  It was my wife and my 25th anniversary.  It made me stop and think about the 25 Christmases that we experienced as a family.

Our first Christmas we did not have much money.  We got a Christmas tree, a star to top it, lights, and some garland; but we did not have ornaments.  My wife had some books with bead patterns for Christmas ornaments.  We must have made several dozen ornaments, bells, stars, ball ornaments filled with figures.  Many of these ornaments we still have and still put on our trees.

A few years later we had some little ones to enjoy our Christmas trees.  By this time we had some store-bought ornaments hanging from the branches.  We also had a train running around the tree.

Then came a major move from the Gulf states to the upper Midwest.  We no longer had room for the train.  The tall trees did not fit either.  We started using a 4-foot tree set on an end table.  The star and the bead ornaments were still there, and more children were enjoying Christmas with us.  We finally bought a slim 6-foot tree and started decorating the tree with color-themes.  Our favorites color themes are red and silver, blue and silver, and purple and silver.

Many of our Christmas traditions were set during this time.  Every year we set up our tree the day after Thanksgiving with all the children helping decorate.  We usually take a Saturday in December to make several kinds of cookies.  The family decides on 3 or 4 kinds of cookies to make. (At one time we let every child choose a cookie recipe to make on that day; but as more children arrived, cookie making day became a chore instead of being enjoyable so we cut down on the number of cookie choices.)  Every Christmas morning we have a hashbrown breakfast casserole.  Last year when my wife and I talked about doing something else for Christmas breakfast the children spoke up and made us know that they wanted the traditional hashbrown casserole.  Unlike many families who have turkey with all the fixings for Christmas dinner, we have an extra-cheesy, extra meaty lasagna.  It sure simplifies the clean up.

Then came another move, not so far this time.  Now we are able to comfortably set up two Christmas trees.  We decorate one tree with a color-theme and the other with our favorite ornaments.  The train has also reappeared.

The next 25 years will be full of surprises.  As the children grow and move on to make families of their own, I am sure we will be dropping some traditions and adding new ones.  The trees will lose some ornaments and gain others.  But, oh, the fun we will have getting there.

Merry Christmas!


Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole
1 lb ground sausage ( “hot” or “sage” flavored)
¼ cup chopped onions
2 ½ cups frozen cubed hash brown potatoes
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups)
1 ¾ cups milk
1 cup baking mix
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1. Cook sausage and onion in large frying pan over medium-high
heat for 5 minutes or until meat crumbles.
2. Stir in hash browns, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until sausage
is no longer pink and hash browns are lightly browned.
3. Drain mixture well on paper towels.
4. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13×9-inch baking dish.
5. A stoneware baking dish works really well.
6. Stir together the lightly beaten eggs, shredded cheese, milk,
baking mix, salt, and pepper.
7. Pour evenly over sausage/hashbrown mixture.
8. Stir well.
9. Cover and chill for 8 hours.
10. Bake covered with foil at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
11. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until a wooden pick
inserted in the middle comes out clean.
12. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
13. You can also keep the casserole warm until you are ready to eat
by covering it with foil and putting it in a 200 degree oven.
14. Optional toppings: sour cream, favorite sauce of your choice
(picante, hot sauce). You can also garnish it with parsley.

Christmas in Brazil

July 28, 2016

brazil_treeThose who would love to spend Christmas on Christmas Island might enjoy spending Christmas in Brazil.  Temperatures range from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  A Brazilian Christmas, a blend of Portuguese, African, and Indian customs, is a holy time of remembering the birth of Christ celebrated with close friends and family. 

Papai Noel:  Although pictured as doing so Santa Claus, or Papai Noel as Brazilians know him, does not travel by sleigh and reindeer.  Instead he travels by helicopter.  In early December thousands of children fill Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro waiting for the arrival of Papai Noel.  The helicopter lands; Papai Noel steps out, and the children flood the field.  He greets the children shaking their hands and giving them small toys, such as balloons, water pistols, whistles, and more, as gifts.  After the gift-giving Papai Noel steps to a microphone on stage and leads everyone in a sing-a-long.  Local singers and musicians accompany the throng as they sing Christmas carols and other popular songs.

Children in Brazil do not hang stockings for Papai Noel to fill on Christmas Eve.  Instead, in northern Brazil, children put their shoes by the tree, by their bed, or near a window to be filled with all sorts of small toys and goodies by Papai Noel when he arrives later that night after the children are asleep.

Papai Noel personally visits the children in the southern regions of Brazil earlier in the evening on Christmas Eve.  He takes time to talk to each child before giving presents to the child.  Often Papai Noel is a relative, a friend of the family, or a co-worker.

Presepios:  With the vast majority of Brazilians being a religious people it is not surprising that every church and nearly every home puts up a presepio or nativity scene.

Many churches display life-sized versions of the presepio including life-sized animals.  Among those animals is sure to appear a rooster to remind parishioners of the Missa do Galo (Mass of the Rooster).  Some church presepios are so elaborate that non-church-goers go to church to see them.

Home presepios may be set up in early December; others are not set up until Christmas Eve day.  Some are small fitting on a coffee table; others fill a whole room.  Some are simple; others are abundant.  Whether large or small, many include pieces that have been handed down for generations.

Most home presepios include the Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the three magi, angels, a star, cows, chickens, sheep, and a rooster.  One of the peculiarities of these home presepios is the figures may not be the same scale.  It is not uncommon for Jesus to be larger than some of the other figures.  Another peculiarity comes in the personal touches.  One may see Brazilian animals, Brazilian fruits, airplanes, trains, and other “impossible” figures included in family presepios.

Christmas cards:  Usually people try to send their Christmas cards so the recipients get them before Christmas; but in Brazil, people think nothing of sending their cards after Christmas.  Many cards arrive at their destinations between December 25 and January 6.

Most cards have the traditional wintery scenes showing lots of snow, Santa Claus and his reindeer, Christmas trees covered in snow, and children wrapped in heavy, warm winter clothing.  However, more cards are appearing showing traditional Brazilian weather and scenes of sandy beaches, palm trees, Christmas trees, and, more importantly, no snow.


Look for more about Christmas in Brazil at CustomsOfChristmas.com.

Joy To The World

June 27, 2016

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

In the days of Isaac Watts, the author of this hymn, there was in England extreme prejudice against newly-composed hymns.  Congregations were strictly devoted to singing the Psalms in worship.  So Watts reworked certain Psalms in freer and more spontaneous versions.  In 1719, he published Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, creating a new style of church music.

“Joy to the World” is based on Psalm 98, which tells of the Messiah’s coming and kingdom.  The reader may be able to see Watts’s first stanza in Psalm 98:2-3—and the arrival of a victorious King.  The second stanza is drawn from verses 4-8—through the praise of all creation.  The fourth stanza is seen in verse 9 –God’s righteous and loving reign.

Watts strayed a little from Psalm 98 when he wrote the third stanza to this hymn—“No more let sins and sorrows grow/Nor thorns infest the ground.”  This seems to be a direct command from the divine King Himself.  Then Watts returns to the psalm, imitating the last sentence in verse 3—“He comes to make His blessings flow/Far as the curse is found.”

Set to a tune by the greatest of all English composers, George Friedrich Handel, “Joy to the World” can powerfully fill the heart with the joy of Christ’s coming, especially when sung standing with a congregation on Christmas Eve!

– From the book The Carols We Love by Daniel Partner, Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc


Heavenly Mix

Ingredients

2 cups butter
2 cups white sugar
2 cups corn syrup
1 (17.5 ounce) package crispy corn and rice square cereal
1 (17.5 ounce) package crispy rice cereal squares
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Directions

  1. In a large bowl or disposable roasting pan, toss together the corn and rice cereal, rice cereal, almonds and coconut.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar and corn syrup in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, continue to cook for 3 minutes. Pour over the cereals, using a large wooden spoon to stir the mixture until evenly coated. Spread out on a cookie sheet to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Christmas in Ireland

May 25, 2016

irish-christmas-cakeChristmas in Ireland, with all its religious overtones, is a time for family.  The religious nature of an Irish Christmas begins with Advent.  Starting four Sundays before Christmas Advent is a time to ponder the birth of Christ and get ready for the celebration of His birth.  It is a time for confession of sins and for expressing sorrow for wrongdoing.  One must be holy when expecting a holy Visitor.

Much must be done to prepare for Christmas.  Houses must have a thorough cleaning.  The grounds and all out-buildings get a good tidying also.  Christmas cards are sent to neighbors, friends, and family members.  Most of these cards have religious themes but Santa Claus, reindeer, and snowy landscapes may also be seen.

Christmas trees did not become a regular part of Christmas decorating until the 1960s.  Some people put their trees up the first week of December while others wait until Christmas Eve.  Electric lights, tinsel and a variety of purchased and homemade ornaments adorn each tree.

Even churches get in the spirit of the season by decorating the pillars and the altar with garlands of holly leaves.  A nativity scene is also part of every church’s display usually found near the altar, in the back of the church, or outside in front of the church.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve day final preparations are made for the Christmas celebration.  As expected, unmarried children, no matter their age or how far away they live, arrive at their parents’ house.  Most, if not all, Christmas shopping is done; but many shops stay open later than normal for those last-minute shoppers.  The house fills with glorious odors as food preparation begins in earnest.  The family goes through the house giving it a final tidying before the celebration begins.  Some of the more religious families fast on Christmas Eve until dinner when a simple meal of fish and potatoes is served.

Many families wait until Christmas Eve to put up their Christmas tree.  Candles are placed in the windows.  For many the Christmas season is about to begin, with the lighting of the candles.  Traditionally the main candle is lit by either the youngest child in the family or a daughter named Mary.  Some children hang their stockings before the family goes to Midnight Mass; others wait until after mass.  After returning from mass the children go to bed.  After the children fall asleep the parents place the children’s gifts under the tree or around the room often arranged in piles on chairs with the child’s name on the chair.

Christmas morning children awaken and rush to see what Santa Claus has left for them.  Most gifts are practical, but as Irish affluence increases the gifts become less practical.  Some who did not go to Midnight Mass, and some who did, attend “First Light” Mass at either 6:00 AM or 8:00 AM.  After mass the men and boys enjoy games of hurling (a game similar to field hockey), Gaelic football (a game like soccer), shooting competitions, and hunting rabbits with greyhounds.

The women prepare the Christmas feast and deliver gift baskets to less fortunate neighbors filled with the ingredients for a “proper” Christmas dinner.  The Christmas table is covered with a linen or lace tablecloth and set with the best china, polished silver, and cut-glass stemware.  The traditional Christmas dinner may consists of roast goose or turkey (often served with ham) stuffed potatoes heavily seasoned with black pepper, mashed or roasted potatoes with gravy, and one or two vegetable dishes.  Desserts may include Christmas cake, Christmas puddings such as bread pudding or plum pudding, mincemeat pies or tarts, sherry trifle, soda scones, fairy cake, and cookies.

After the Christmas feast families stay home relaxing, talking, singing and playing musical instruments, and telling stories.  Irish history was once passed from one generation to the next via stories told at family gatherings like Christmas.  Therefore, it is not surprising that some of these stories are of family ancestry, the famine, Irish heroes and villains, the countryside, as well as the Nativity.

Nollaig Shona Duit  (Merry Christmas!)

For more information about the Irish Christmas season visit CustomsOfChristmas.com.

Clever Christmas Decorating Ideas On A Budget

April 27, 2016

This month we have a special treat.  Guest author Renee Hopkins gives us some inexpensive Christmas decorating projects that we can start working on even now for this coming Christmas.  They also will not take a lot of room if you are decorating a small apartment.  Thank you, Renee, for these wonderful ideas.


 

Christmas is a festive holiday filled with family, friends and celebration. Part of making this holiday so special is decorating your home in a way that makes your home feel welcoming, festive and fun. While you can certainly spend a fortune trying to achieve the right holiday look in your home, you don’t have to. With some simple tips, you can create a beautiful and inviting Christmas décor that you’re certain to feel proud of.

  1. The Christmas Treeladder tree

The traditional pine Christmas tree is always a classic look, but today, creative and chic ideas are in and quickly taking its place. Create your own unique Christmas tree with a fold out ladder, a few boards (cut at different lengths) a small pot of green paint and green, red and white household items.

Simply paint your boards green, and arrange them along the steps of the ladder (after the paint has dried). This will provide you with the triangular shape of a Christmas tree. Place your red, green and white household items on the shelves, and you have a uniquely decorated tree at little to no cost.

  1. The Christmas Cracker

Tired of the less appealing little novelty items you get inside your Christmas crackers every year? Why not make your own?

You willChristmas Stocking And Presents need wrapping paper (the type of wrapping paper you use will determine how elegant or creative your Christmas crackers will be), cracker snaps, cardboard toilet paper inserts, small gifts, stickers and some ribbon.

Cut the wrapping paper into a rectangle measuring about 30cm in length and 20 cm in width. Glue one cracker snap onto the paper, lengthwise, and place one toilet paper insert in the middle with the gift inside. You can also add a hand written joke. Place another two toilet paper inserts on each side of the middle one and roll the paper around all three.

Join the two ends of the paper with a sticker. Twist the paper where the inserts meet, and remove the two outside toilet paper inserts. Tie ribbons around the twist to add flair and hold the twist in place.

  1. The Christmas WreathMaking Of Christmas Wreath

In the same way new and novel ideas are replacing the traditional Christmas tree, wreaths are taking on whole new look too.

Take a piece of sturdy cardboard, and cut it into a ring in the desired size. Collect items from around the home or garden that can be glued to the ring to entirely cover the cardboard. Anything from bottle corks, to beads, buttons, seashells, seeds, burlap, gift bows, ribbon, fabric or traditional pine cones can be used to create a unique and stylish wreath.

  1. Outdoor Christmas Characters

Christmas Milk Jug DecorationsStart saving up those plastic milk containers, making sure to wash them out carefully. Use different color paints and cardboard cutouts to create a snowman, reindeer or even Santa Claus. Dangle a small handheld torch from a string tied to a piece of wood, and place it into the opening of the bottle so that the stick holds it in place. You now have a creative outdoor decoration that lights up from the inside.

To truly have a chic and elegant Christmas this year, think outside the box, and get creative. Your friends and family will simply love how innovative you are and appreciate the effort you put into making this memorable holiday a spectacular one.

About The Author
Renee Hopkins runs an innovative and affordable home décor site. Visit http://chichomeaccents.com/ to find everything you need to make your rooms beautiful, comfortable and chic.

Happy Easter!

March 26, 2016

It all started many years ago that first Christmas with the birth of a very special miracle baby.  The Baby was special in that His birth was looked forward to for hundreds of years.  His birth was foretold by many people during that time with specific things mentioned many years before they happened: He would be born in Bethlehem, His mother would be a virgin, He would be born of the tribe of Judah of King David’s line, kings would give Him gifts, children would be killed after His birth, and more.

He was a miracle baby born of a virgin who never experience sexual relations with a man until after the Baby’s birth.  A miracle in terms of all that had to be orchestrated to get the right parents to the right place at the right time to fulfill the prophesies about this Baby.  A miracle in that God became man to live and fulfill a specific purpose.

The Baby grew up.  He became a man with a purpose, to live to pay the penalty for man’s sin.  He was not forced to do it.  He was not paid to do it.  He did it willingly.  He did it out of love for mankind.

The first Easter became the culmination of this Man’s finishing the payment for that penalty, a payment He did not need to make for Himself for He never sinned.  The first Easter marked God’s acceptance of that payment.  When Jesus rose from the dead leaving an empty tomb God showed mankind that He was satisfied.  The debt was paid in full.

Now it is up to each member of mankind.  What are we going to do?  Are we going to try to pay the penalty for our sins ourselves?  We are told that we can never do this even if we lived a thousand lifetimes.  Or are we going to accept Jesus’ payment for the penalty of our sins?  We can do nothing to earn it.  We can only accept it or reject it.

It is my hope that everyone who reads this will accept Jesus’ payment for the penalty of his or her sins.  Only then will Easter and Christmas have true meaning in our lives.

 

Resurrection Rolls

  • Prep 10 m
  • Cook 15 m
  • Ready In 25 m

Recipe By:Mommyof3

“A great Easter recipe to do with the kids! Rolls with marshmallows wrapped inside, which become hollow as they bake, it represents the tomb of Jesus on Easter morning, when you break them open they are empty inside!”

Ingredients

  • 1 (10 ounce) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 8 large marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Separate crescent rolls into individual triangles.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar.
  4. Dip a marshmallow into melted butter, then roll in sugar mixture. Place marshmallow into the center of a dough triangle. Carefully wrap the dough around the marshmallow. Pinch the seams together tightly to seal in marshmallow as it melts. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
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