Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

How to have the Christmas you’ve always wanted – part 3

September 7, 2013

Men – the Christmas gopher

Many men just can’t get excited about Christmas. Their women wish they would.
It’s not that they don’t enjoy the Christmas celebration, they do. They enjoy
watching the children opening and playing with their gifts. They enjoy the good
food and the atmosphere, but they still could take Christmas or leave it. On
the other hand there are other men that really enjoy the Christmas season. They
get into all the decorating, the shopping, and the planning involved in
preparing for the Christmas celebration.

Why is this? Why is it that some men have such a hard time getting excited
about Christmas? Perhaps it’s because of the limited role they play in the
Christmas preparations. Sure they provide emotional and financial support.
Sure they help run errands. They make some suggestions and take
responsibility for a few parts of the Christmas celebration, but they’re less
involved in the preparations than the women are. Except for dragging out the
decorations, getting the tree, and doing the heavy work the men do little to get
things ready for Christmas. Because of this limited involvement it’s difficult
for men to get excited about Christmas.

Another reason men have trouble getting excited about Christmas is that their
wishes are less represented in the Christmas celebration. Women tend to rely on
their own talents, tastes, and preferences instead of asking the men what they’d
like. Christmas loses the familiar, comfortable aspects that men grew up with.
It’s like breaking in a new pair of shoes. The comfort and familiarity of the
old pair is rarely recaptured.

A third reason men aren’t as excited about Christmas is they feel like they’re
attending another’s party, observing another’s celebration. Because their
decision-making power is limited men feel they are a spectator to their wives
production. Someone on the outside looking in.

The Christmas celebration is definitely not a spectator sport. The next few
exercises, taken from Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean
Coppock Staeheli, are designed to help men move from the spectator to the
participant, from the gopher to a co-planner.

Exercise 1: Rating Your Enjoyment of Last Year’s Christmas Activities
1. Scan the list below and cross off the activities that you weren’t involved
in, adding those that we have overlooked.
Decorating the house
Decorating the tree
Shopping for gifts
Making gifts
Wrapping gifts
Going to parties
Going to Christmas performances
Christmas activities with your children
Christmas activities at work
Religious activities at home
Church activities
Gift-opening rituals
Charitable activities
Family Christmas gathering

2. Beside each of the remaining activities, assign a number from 1 to 10 that
shows how much you enjoyed doing it last year. A 10 shows the most pleasure.
Feel free to add comments.
3. Think about what, overall, gave you the greatest pleasure last Christmas.
4. Which activities or situations gave you the least pleasure?

Exercise 2: Remembering Your Childhood Christmas
1. Think back to your childhood Christmas. Which traditions, activities, or
occasions were particularly pleasurable for you?

2. Of these important childhood memories, which of them are reflected in your
current celebration?

Exercise 3: An Exercise For Married Men – Your Role in Your Current Celebration
1. Which of the following statements most accurately reflects your role in your
A. My wife determines nearly all of the holiday events.
B. My wife determines more of the holiday events than I do.
C. We share the planning fifty-fifty.
D. My influence predominates.
2. How do you feel about this arrangement?

Exercise 4: Drawing Conclusions
1. From everything you know about yourself and Christmas, ideally, what changes
would you like to make in the coming celebration? (For the moment, don’t take
into consideration how realistic or unrealistic these changes may be.)

2. For married men: What do you most want your wife to know about how you feel
about Christmas?

When you complete these exercises, be ready to discuss the results with your

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine
by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and
Company, Inc.

How to have the Christmas you’ve always wanted – part 2

August 25, 2013

Women – the Christmas logistician

In many homes across America, preparations for the Christmas celebration are
carried out by the women. They decide what decorations go up, where the
decorations go up, and when the decorations go up. And if they don’t have the
decorations they want, they buy them or, better yet, make the decorations
themselves. They plan the Christmas feast. They spend long hours shopping for
just the right gift for everyone on the Christmas list. They clean the house
and prepare the guest room for the Christmas family get together. They help
with the church Christmas program and prepare for the neighborhood Christmas
party. Sound busy yet? When you add all this extra work to the busyness of the
everyday job and housework, it’s no wonder many women feel so stressed out and
tired at Christmas. They feel tired and yet happy too. They love making
Christmas special for their loved ones and gladly make the sacrifice.

What women don’t realize is that this added stress and busyness of the Christmas
season builds up and can burn them out. Christmas becomes a chore, no longer
enjoyable. They dread each Christmas season and can’t wait until it’s over.

Women have a great capacity to love. Into each facet of the Christmas
celebration they add their special touch of love, Many pour so much love and
concern into the celebration and into their families who don’t always show
appreciation for what they do that they figure why bother. Just like
rechargeable batteries need to be recharged when they run down women need their
love batteries recharged, something many women don’t take time to have done.

Some women strive to give their families the perfect Christmas. They scour the
Christmas magazines in store checkout lanes looking for the perfect theme for
decorating their house. Or they remember childhood Christmases and try to
reproduce them. Or they come up with their own ideal Christmas and try to come
as close to that ideal as they possibly can. And each year their anxiety level
climbs as they look around and feel that all their efforts fall short of what
Christmas should be.

Following this are some exercises that each woman should complete to discover
what, if any, changes should be made to make Christmas more enjoyable for the
family and less stressful overall. These exercises are taken from the book
Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli.

Exercise 1: Life-style Inventory
Many women overestimate the time they have available for holiday projects. Take
the following life-style inventory to get a sense of how busy you are before you
add on the responsibilities of Christmas.

1. Check all the following statements that are true for you:
I’m employed full-time.
I’m employed part-time.
I have young children who are not yet in school or daycare.
I have children in school or daycare.
I’m a student.
I’m a single parent.
I have extended-family obligations.
I am primarily responsible for managing the household.
I have the following additional commitments:
Volunteer work (boards, charities, committees, etc.)
Children’s activities

2. As a general rule I can count on _____ hours of free time a day.

3. I usually spend those unscheduled hours in the following ways:

4. To find time to prepare for Christmas I usually take time from:

Exercise 2: Examining the Work of Christmas
This exercise will help you gain a more objective view of all the holiday
responsibilities you may be adding to your everyday schedule.

1. Look at the following list of typical holiday responsibilities and place a
check by the ones that you were primarily responsible for last year.
Making up a gift list Getting the tree
Christmas shopping Decorating the tree
Making gifts Outside decorations
Wrapping gifts Hosting parties
Mailing gifts Preparing company meals
Writing cards Helping with school activities
Making cards Planning family gatherings
Helping out at church Making Christmas dinner
Holiday baking Extra grocery shopping
Home decorations Making travel arrangements
Sewing clothes Packing
Special holiday cleaning Preparing for houseguests
Advent preparations Other

2. Add any tasks that we have overlooked.

3. Spend some time remembering how you felt last Christmas as you were doing
each of the chores that you checked. Put a star by the ones that you actually

4. Take a piece of paper and write down the tasks from the above list that you
did not enjoy doing last year. Beside each one, write down a few words that
describe the reason(s) for your dissatisfaction. Here are some common reasons:
Not enough time
Not enough money
Not enough family support
Not enough help
Don’t enjoy this kind of activity
Don’t value this kind of activity
My performance didn’t measure up to my expectations
Wasn’t creative enough

Completing these exercises should give you a better idea of how much time you
have available for holiday projects, how much you attempt to do each Christmas,
and how you feel about those tasks.

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine
by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and
Company, Inc.

Christmas in South Africa

September 25, 2012

Carols by CandlelightChristmas in South Africa is a summer holiday.  Therefore the customs of Christmas observed in South Africa are different from those observed in the northern hemisphere.  For children the Christmas season means a month-long break from school.  Adults, on the other hand, plan trips to the beach, the river, or the mountains if they can get the time off from work.

A number of Christmas traditions celebrated by some South Africans reflect the country’s heritage as a British colony.  As the days of colonization slip farther into the past South Africa is developing its own Christmas customs.

Christmas decorations in South Africa display a simple elegance.  Houses are decorated with pine branches.  Inside the house a Christmas fir stands in a corner with presents placed around it.

On Christmas Eve children hang their stockings for Father Christmas to fill.  Fruit, nuts, sweets, and other goodies fill the stockings as well as toys, in the homes of more well-to-do families, or more practical items, like school supplies, in other homes.

South Africans love to sing, especially during the Christmas season.  Many will spend a portion of their Christmas Eve attending a Carols by Candlelight event full of singing and pageantry.  They also form groups of carolers and sing throughout the neighborhood at homes and on street corners.

Christmas day dawns bright and warm.  Many attend church services before beginning Christmas celebrations at home.  Christmas day in South Africa is spent relaxing with family and friends.  While gifts are given, mainly to family and a few select friends, gifts do not give meaning to the Christmas holiday.

By mid-day temperatures are rising causing many to decide to have an outdoor lunch instead of a larger Christmas dinner.  Wherever the Christmas dinner is served the following foods are usually found: turkey, roast beef, mince pies, suckling pig, yellow rice with raisins, vegetables, and plum pudding.

Pumpkin Fritters, Traditional South African Recipe
(found on Yahoo Answers)

4 servings 12 fritters 30 min 30 min prep

2 cups cooked pumpkin, dry (see note below)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder (not soda)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (see note below)
2 large eggs
oil (for frying)
cinnamon sugar, if used

Put all the dry ingredients in a processor.
If not using a processor, put in a mixing bowl, and mix well.
Add the eggs, and process well until a thick batter forms — or mix well in the mixing bowl. The batter should almost hold its shape when tested with a spoon.
If the batter is too stiff, add a tiny amount of milk. If by any chance it is runny, add more flour (shouldn’t happen!).
Heat oil in a pan, using medium to high heat to start with.
Scoop up heaped tablespoons of batter, and drop into pan, but not too close together. You won’t have huge fritters as some of the batter will stay clinging to the spoon.
Fry until firm and golden on the underside, then flip over and fry on other side.
(You could use a non-stick pan and not use oil or butter, but a little oil is preferable).
The fritters will puff up slightly and keep their shape, but will deflate a bit as you take them out of the pan. To test for doneness, press very lightly on the fritters. When done, they will tend to spring back. If still uncertain, press harder: no batter should run out the sides.
Serve warm, either as a side dish, or as a dessert with plenty of crunchy cinnamon-flavoured sugar.

NOTE 1: The pumpkin MUST be dry. We do not have canned pumpkin in South Africa, and would use home-cooked pumpkin. Whatever: drain very well, or cook the pumpkin in a pot without a lid until all water has evaporated.
NOTE 2: I do not know if your canned pumpkin is sweetened. If so, don’t add sugar — it’s your choice.
NOTE 3: I specified yellow sugar, which Zaar’s format does not recognise. Use brown or white if no yellow granulated sugar available.

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