Happy New Year!

January 1, 2019

May the coming year be filled with many blessings, few disasters, many memories, few break ups, good health, and fulfillment in your daily life.

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2018

Luke 2:1-11

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Stressful, Expensive Christmas Traditions

November 23, 2018

Are some of your Christmas traditions are causing you more stress or are costing you more than you wish to spend?  Early on those traditions were very enjoyable.  You looked forward to doing them.  But now you may be dreading the tradition that you once enjoyed.

If that is the case with you consider modifying the tradition so it will become enjoyable once again, come up with a less expensive version of the tradition, or drop the tradition all together.

Case in point, when my children were younger (and there were fewer of them) I dedicated one Saturday in December to making cookies for Christmas.  Each child would choose a kind of cookies to make, and we would make it together.  I really enjoyed making cookies with my children. But, as our family grew and three kinds of cookies became five or six kinds of cookies, the tradition became a chore; and I dreaded doing it.  So I decided some changes should be made.  My oldest daughter loved Chocolate Mint Snow-tops so I told her if she wanted them she could make them anytime before Christmas.  Also, instead of every child choosing a kind of cookie, we chose as a group what kinds of cookies we would make.

This year I’m planning to make just two kinds of Christmas cookie, frosted sugar cookies and spritz cookies.  I no longer dread Christmas cookie day.

 

Chocolate Mint Snow-top Cookies

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 10-ounce package mint-flavored, semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2/3 cup powdered sugar

In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  In small saucepan over low heat, melt one cup morsels. In large bowl, cream butter and granulated sugar.  Beat in melted morsels and vanilla; beat in eggs.  Gradually beat in dry ingredients.  Stir in remaining morsels.  Wrap in plastic wrap; freeze for 20 minutes or until firm.  Shape dough into 1inch balls; roll in powdered sugar.  Place on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until sides are set but centers are still slightly soft.  Let stand for 2 minutes.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Cool on wire racks.  Makes 3 dozen cookies.

 

 

 

Anticipation – the Start of the Christmas Season

October 24, 2018

At this time of year I really start looking forward to Christmas.  As Halloween nears I find myself getting excited about Christmas, wanting to listen to Christmas music, and looking forward to putting up Christmas decorations.  In some ways I think Halloween is the beginning of the Christmas holiday season.

The producer of some of my favorite Christmas movies and TV specials is Rankin/Bass.  Here is a Halloween video that Rankin/Bass produced.  I think you will enjoy it.

Christmas Crafts To Make (As Gifts)

September 25, 2018

Here are links to two Christmas crafts.  One of them I have made; the other I hope to make soon along with my children.

Coat Hanger Christmas Treescoathangertree

These are a delightful Christmas craft that makes wonderful Christmas gifts.  I made a number of these several years ago and gave them away.  At least one of them is still being used.

http://customsofchristmas.com/crafts/coathanger_christmas_tree.pdf

 

Marbled Christmas Tree Ornamentsmarbledornaments

Hopefully I will be making some of these with my children this year.  They may be used as Christmas gifts for teachers and friends.

http://customsofchristmas.com/crafts/marble_ornaments.pdf

 Happy crafting for a merry Christmas!

We need a little Christmas…

August 25, 2018

 

Christmas Eve by Laura Hope Wood

The snow began to fall as twilight deepened
And swirling flakes fell far into the night.
A fairyland soon covered hill and valley
As drifts piled high in silence deep and white.
There was no sound to break the evening stillness,
But just the feel of Christmas all around.
Somehow the joy and peace that comes with giving
Came with each snowflake as it settled down.
A tall tree trimmed with bright and shining tinsel,
Through frosted windows such a rosy glow
Of presents wrapped in green and crimson tissue
And firelight dancing on the floor below.
A holly wreath with bright red, frosted berries
To greet me as I near the waiting door.
I seem to hear the sound of sleigh bells ringing;
It’s Christmas Eve, and I am home once more.

 

Oven Caramel Corn

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.  Divide 15 cups popped popcorn (unsalted) between two 13-by-9-inch baking pans; set aside.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine ½ cup butter or margarine, 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, ¼ cup light corn syrup, and ½ teaspoon salt.  Stirring constantly, bring just to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Stir in ½ teaspoon baking soda.  Slowly pour mixture over popped corn, tossing to coat.  Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Makes 15 servings.

 

Poem and recipe from Ideals Christmas magazine 1996

Merry Christmas in July!

July 25, 2018

Today is Christmas in July.  Here are three Christmas cartoons that I hope you will enjoy.

The Wish That Changed Christmas

Family Circus Animated Christmas 1977

Ziggy’s Gift

Merry Christmas in July!

Canadian Christmas Customs

June 24, 2018

Christmas Lights Across CanadaSettlers from many countries and many cultures contributed to the colorful Christmas customs shared by many Canadians today.  Yet they have all come together to form some traditions that are uniquely Canadian.

Since 1985, at 6:55 P.M. Ottawa-time in every province Christmas lights on every government building in Canada are turned on in a huge show of pomp and circumstance.  Many of the ceremonies are repeated nightly until January 7 and may include caroling, performances by local performers and national celebrities, light shows, fireworks, and Christmas treats.  While each ceremony may be similar in content each province adds its own cultural flare to the festivities.

On Christmas Eve many Canadians attend church services.  Churches of all sizes from the large cathedrals to the small-town churches offer the singing of the carols of Christmas, performances, and teachings on the meaning of Christmas.

Bringing Christmas trees into the house for decorating was introduced to Canada by German immigrants in the late 1700s or mid-1800s.  Now Canada is a major producer of Christmas producing about 6 million trees per year.  Nova Scotia, the Christmas Tree Province, produces over 1.5 million trees each year for sale in eastern Canada and the United States.  The province also ships Christmas trees to Central America, the Caribbean, and Venezuela.  Every year a 70-foot tree is sent to Boston, Massachusetts in appreciation of the help sent to Halifax from Boston in 1917 when a ship with a full cargo of explosives exploded in Halifax Harbour killing 19,00 people and destroying much of the city.

Many French Canadians still attend midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and participate in winter sports on Christmas Day.  Some still save their gift-giving for New Year’s Day, but others give their children presents on both Christmas and New Year’s Day.  On New Year’s Day many enjoy a lavish turkey dinner with family and/or friends.

Christmas cards were and are a favorite way for Canadians to keep in touch with friends and family who lived afar off.  Christmas cards first appeared in Canada in 1876.

In 1905, the Eaton’s department store sponsored the first Santa Claus Parade in Toronto.  The parade has grown in popularity and is now the largest Christmas parade in Canada.  Because of the success of the Toronto parade other cities started having Christmas parades of their own.

For years Canadians of all ages and especially British Canadians have spent Christmas afternoon either watching on TV or listening to the radio as the queen of England gives her annual message to the Commonwealth.

The Christmas season ends for British Canadians on January 6 with the Feast of the Epiphany or Twelfth Night.  A bean and a pea are baked into the Twelfth Night cake.  The people who find them in their piece of cake become the king and queen of the night’s festivities.

The First Nations Peoples of Canada includes all groups of people who lived in what is now North America prior to colonization by the Europeans.  Many of them held festivals during the winter season, such as winter solstice festivals featuring feasting, singing, dancing, drumming, racing competitions, and games of strength such as wrestling. 

Missionaries from the colonies taught these peoples the Christian Christmas customs they held dear.  Many of the First Nations Peoples started celebrating Christmas also mixing the old winter festival customs with the Christmas traditions brought by the missionaries.  Now many of the festivals include giving gifts and good things to children and to others.  Even Santa Claus visits these people with gifts and merry making at their Christmas festivities.

Canada’s Christmas customs have come from a wide variety of cultures.  They have given Canada a set of Christmas traditions unmatched anywhere in the world.  Yet they still have formed their own set of national Christmas customs. 

Merry Christmas!  Joyeux Noel!

Traditional Canadian Christmas Dishes

May 25, 2018

Next month I hope to present Canada’s Christmas customs.  Therefore, I am giving you four recipes from the book Christmas in Canada from World Book that are traditionally found in a Canadian Christmas feast.

Fruit Fool

½ cup sweetened whipping cream
1 cup unsweetened applesauce or other fruit puree
¼ tsp almond extract

Whip cream until stiff.  Fold in fruit puree and almond extract.  Chill mixture in refrigerator.  Serve with fresh fruit or shortcake.

Makes 4 servings

 

Mulled Cider

1 quart apple cider
4 or 5 whole cloves
cinnamon stick

In a medium saucepan, mix together ingredients over medium heat; heat well, but do not allow to boil.

Makes 4 servings.

 

Maple Syrup Pie

Pastry for a 9-inch single-crust pie
¼ cup flour
½ cup water
1 cup maple syrup
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tbsp butter whipped cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line 9-inch pie pan with pastry; prick several times with a fork.  Bake pie shell for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Allow pie shell to cool.  Mix flour and water until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, stir together flour mixture and maple syrup.  Stir in egg.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick.  Add butter and stir until melted.

Pour mixture into cooled pie shell.  Allow pie to cool at room temperature until set.  Serve topped with whipped cream.

Makes 8 servings.

 

Molasses Taffy

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups molasses
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
¼ cup butter

In a large saucepan, mix together sugar, molasses, corn syrup, and water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until temperature on a candy thermometer reaches just below the soft crack stage (268 degrees F) or until sugar is dissolved.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until a small amount of mixture threads when dropped into cold water.  Remove from heat and stir in butter.  Pour slowly onto a buttered slab or buttered cookie sheet on a cooling rack.  Allow to cool slightly, then pull with your fingertips, allowing a spread of about 18 inches between your hands.  Fold mixture back on itself.  Repeat this motion rhythmically until the mixture forms a glistening ribbon and the ridges on the twist begin to hold their shape.  Roll mixture into long, thin strips.  Cut into pieces and place on buttered wax paper.

Makes about 2 pounds.

The Hope of Easter

March 31, 2018

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