December

Echo

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt

**************

In my present limited  state of activity, I’ve had lots of time to satiate myself with Chrismas movies. There is, of course, a common thread in all of them.  They are formula stories:  One or both of the romantic leads finds Christmas to be a bore, even dreads the approaching season, gritting their teeth to get through it.  There is always a very smart preteen child involved,  and there is some kind of conflict that eventually brings the two romantic leads together, with the grinchy one realizing that Christmas is the best time of the year.

Because music is so important to me, I am intrigued by the limited number of Christmas songs used in these movies.  You hear Deck the Halls, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Rudolph,  and a couple of other completely non-sacred songs.  Rarely, Silent Night is included. There is usually a choir, but rarely in a church. Often there is a wedding, again rarely in a church. Every now and then, you may get a glimpse of a nativity scene, again rare, and usually the focus is on the camel or a donkey.

Christmas, then, is simply a time of good cheer, love for mankind, and lots of decorating and shopping.  Family is emphasized. Tradition is emphasized.

Image result for a secularized Christmas

 I think I would be safe to say that I have never heard the Name of Jesus Christ mentioned in a single one of the movies I’ve watched, and I’ve been paying attention. There is “Christmas magic,” and there are “Christmas miracles.” Now and then we get a humanized angel who  orchestrates a happy outcome. Even when heaven is included in the script, we never hear the Name of God; we never hear of Jesus Christ.  The heavenly part is typically comical, with a sometimes sweet, sometimes distracted, sometimes snarky angel in charge of the gate.

So why is all this the case?  Well, you knew I was going to tell you 🙂

The whole season, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, echoes down through the halls of history with the amazing miracle of the birth of Jesus Christ; born to a little Jewish girl in a little Jewish town, insignificant to most yet acknowledged even at the time as something to think about. King Herod, after all, was so upset by this One that the Wise Men referred to as the King of the Jews that he had all Jewish baby boys age two and under massacred in an effort to destroy Jesus. The shepherds in the fields that night were told by the angels where to find Him.  Mary and Joseph understood, in greater or lesser degree, that this baby was the fulfillment of prophecy.

What was the miracle?  Little Jewish babies are born every day. Yes, but only one of them was conceived  by the Holy Spirit of God. Mary was a virgin, and she remained so until after the birth of Jesus.  Joseph was not His father; only in the legal sense could Joseph claim that position.

Jesus was the Son of God, born to die for the sin of all mankind.

But people are offended by the Name of Jesus.  People don’t want to hear about the sacred impact of Christmas. Silent Night gets are hearing now and then because of its universal familiarity.  Most children, I would venture to say, have no real idea what happened in O Little Town of Bethlehem.   It’s not politically correct, and we don’t want to offend anyone who may not believe in the Christian reason for celebrating Christmas.

I am here today to salute you all with  Merry Christmas, and may you search under all the tinsel and glitter to find the meaning and the importance of a baby born in a small country, a small town, a small stable because there was no room for the little family in the inn.

God bless you during this Christmas season.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/echo/

The Waiting is the Best Part

Anticipation

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt

*****************

Image result for anticipation

There are many things a child anticipates, and I’m using the word with a totally positive connotation here.  Most kids look forward to the first day of going to school.  It is a hallmark of their long trek to maturity, although they don’t see it in those words.  To most kids, it’s just proof that they’re not a little kid any more. They go to SCHOOL!

We anticipated birthdays with great hope, sometimes satisfied and sometimes not, but the anticipation of the event was always exciting. Another year older to prove yet again that we are no longer little kids.

Summer vacation?  Oh, you bet!  I loved school, but I loved summer more. I don’t remember ever being disappointed in summer when I was a kid.

Of course I anticipated falling in love, marriage, children, and now grandchildren. It’s a wonderful life. I also, most days, look forward with anticipation to to different kinds of work God has led me to.

There were Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then the new year, with the first big day coming on February 14 when we eagerly anticipated getting a bagful of valentine cards.  And all these special days filled our heads as we slept and dreamed; they filled our awake hours with high hopes, and in my case, those hopes were generally fulfilled.

I loved Thanksgiving because of the friends, family, food and fun.  Christmas?  Same thing, only presents, too. And in my house, God was the center of those two holidays. I’ve always loved the story of the first Thanksgiving.  I find it both grievous and  infuriating that our revisionist historians these days are doing their best to take the shine off America’s first years, even to the point of a college removing the American flag because some arrogant young people say  it represents violence and terrorism.  What a slap in the face to all those who have fought and died to preserve our freedom to fly that flag!

I would challenge these folks to find me one single nation in the history of the world that has NOT been guilty of violence at some point in its history. But that’s not what this post is about.

I still anticipate these special days today, at age 69.  It’s different now, more settled, more peaceful, perhaps more realistic. I am still thankful for family, friends, food, and fun. I am looking forward to tomorrow.

I am thankful, on this Thanksgiving eve, for all the ways God has led me through my life to this point,  and I’m truly anticipating the rest of the journey as it comes closer to its end, because the greatest anticipation of all is to see my Savior.  That’s what will make it heaven.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/anticipation/

Days I’ve Loved

Tell us about times in which you linger — when you don’t want an event, or a day to end. What is it you love about these times? Why do you wish you could linger forever?

**********************

Christmas Days.  I love the ambience of the day.  Family, friends, good food, good fellowship. Shiny faces and sparkling eyes of little children, the heightened anticipation of getting through breakfast so they can start opening gifts. Christmas music.  Nothing like it. And of course the reason we celebrate, Jesus Christ.

Long summer days.  Days of innocence and pure pleasure, from the simple delight of a popsicle dripping down your arm to the joy of splashing into  a lake, pool, or ocean to cool off. Green everywhere.  Summer flowers. Long, sociable evenings in the yard, on the porch, around a campfire.  Singing the old songs at a church hymn sing. Relaxation.  Iced tea in sweaty glasses. The ever-present smell of someone, somewhere, firing up the barbecue.

My wedding day.  First day of a whole new era. Excitement, nerves, details, dressing, the meeting of his eyes and mine down the length of the aisle.  My dad giving me his arm.Loving these two most important men in my life:  My dad. My husband.  The newness doesn’t wear off right away.  Those first months as newlyweds carry the special feel of the wedding day.  Unforgettable.

The birth days of each of my children. The first, because this is something I’d never done before and everything was new and a little bit scarey. The second, because he was two weeks late and it was nearly Christmas and this time I DID know what was going to happen.  The third, because he, also was two weeks late; the biggest baby I had at 9lb. 7 oz., and we went to the soccer game while I was in the early stages, just to pass the time.  The fourth because we got our little girl, and we had decided that if it was a girl, we were done.  She was born on a Sunday morning, and the nursery chairman had a pink rose put on the church organ in her honor. Each new life was welcomed and loved long before making the grand entrance. They still are.

And now we have nine grandchildren. My word. Remember this golden oldie?

I could write all day along these lines.  I’ve had many wonderful days, some truly terrible days, and a lot of ordinary days.  I’m thankful for each and every one.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/linger/

Christmas in Pennsylvania

Write a piece about a typically “local” experience from where you come from as though it’s an entry in a travel guide.

******************************

There is something very special about Christmas in southeastern Pennsylvania.  So many old stone houses still stand, and many have been beautifully restored. During the Christmas season especially, you will see these stately old homes lit from the inside with a candle in every window. Often, they are also

adorned with  green wreaths and red bows, and swags of red from window to window and over the doors. A drive through the countryside of Bucks or Montgomery County will certainly put you in the Christmas spirit.

Another feature of Christmas decorating, especially in the towns and cities, is the luminaria that line the sidewalks. Paper bags filled with sand, with a candle glowing inside, make it easy for carolers and visitors to walk from place to place. 

Of course, the city of Bethlehem is a continual delight during the Christmas season. There is so much to see and enjoy.  We particularly enjoy the Love Feast at the Moravian Church on Christmas Eve, where the music is wonderful and the atmosphere takes you back to 1700 or so.  Each visitor enjoys a cup of hot chocolate and a delicious sugar cookie while the service is observed.  It’s truly a heartwarming experience.

And then there is the Putz. It is hard to describe this intricate, detailed rendering of the events of the birth of Jesus Christ. On a wide stage, the panorama of these events is recreated with figures, backgrounds and lighting that make you feel you were actually there.  Children love the Putz. The word is pronounced like puts, and is a Yiddish word that is literally ornament, finery, probably noun derivative of putsn to clean, shine; compare early modern German butzen to decorate.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/local-flavor/

Love It!

The holiday season: can’t get enough of it, or can’t wait for it all to be over already? Has your attitude toward the end-of-year holidays changed over the years?

************************

I love Christmas. Always have. Right this minute, I’m enjoying having slept in until 8:15 on this my first full day of being on my Christmas break.  What’s not to like?  I don’t go back to work until January 6.  Nineteen days!  I’m an independent contractor, so I can pick and choose when I work and when I don’t. At this stage of my life, that’s a real sweet situation.

But Christmas isn’t just about time off.  I understand, largely because of the work I do, that Christmas is the most difficult time of year for a lot of people.  Some of my clients have dreadful memories of Christmas Past that make them cringe at the appearance of Christmas Present and Future.  If you came from a radically dysfunctional family, then you laugh in derision at the song It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  

If you are not a person of faith, Christmas may not have deep meaning for you. When that is the case, it becomes just another commercialized holiday, hyped out of reason and way overdone.  Even for those of us who celebrate the true, deep meaning of Christmas, the hullabaloo around gifting and spendingspendingspending can put a damper on the joy.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

I remember many years ago, reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s description of Christmas on the prairie, thinking, “That’s the way it should be.  There should be a sense of holiness, of quietness of spirit, of peace and hope and joy. The emphasis should be not on what I get or give, but on what the world received.”

And that, clearly, is the whole reason we have Christmas. What the world received when the Son of God agreed to be born as a human baby, to live and minister and die to get the victory over sin and death, that is why Christmas is a precious time. Let the rest of the world do as they wish to minimize this wonderful celebration’s true meaning, it has never changed for me. The holiness of the coming of the Christ Child overshadows all the glitz and glitter and get and give.

The gifts that are exchanged in our family are always delightful and fun, but we never let the gifting process become the center of Christmas. We give gifts because the Wise Men brought gifts to Jesus, knowing that He was the King of Kings. Everything we do at Christmas is based on this most wonderful fact, that Jesus was born to die that we might live forever with Him.

When we keep our sites firmly fixed on what Christmas is really about, we can keep the joy and the peace even in the midst of the craziness that can rule the season.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/getting-seasonal/  Yay!  the pings are back 🙂

Silent Night

Write down the letters of the ABC. For each one, choose a word that begins with that letter. Now, write a post about anything — using all the words you’ve selected.

***********************

“This is such a busy time of year, sighed Katrina.”  Coming to rest  at the top of the Christmas tree, she folded her wings and settled next to Zoe. I’m supposed to give you a break, Zoe.  You’ve been standing here with your wings open for hours, and you need a rest. Why don’t you go invisible and find a shop where you can get yourself a bagel and some nice hot chocolate?  I’ll take your place for a while.  No one will know the difference.  After all, what mortal knows one angel from another?”

Zoe was glad to take Katrina’s offer.  She didn’t mind being the treetop angel for the White House Christmas tree.  There was so much to see! So many people walked by, and they were usually a happy bunch during the month of December Still, it would be relaxing to take that break.  She unfurled her wings and lifted off the tree while Katrina settled in for her shift. “Take care, Dear. There’s really nothing much to do, but you will need to watch out for that pesky cat that keeps trying to climb up to the middle of the tree.  Someone tied a catnip treat there, and the  poor kitty really wants it!”

Katrina settled in, enjoying the radiant lights on the tree and over so much of the city. The White House was beautifully decorated in the traditional style of the season.  As she rested on her perch, Katrina couldn’t help but think about that first nativity in Bethlehem.  There had been angels there, too—crowds of them, singing praises to the Son of God. She shivered as she remembered the echoes of that anthem as they rolled through the heavenly arches. Such joy had soared through the heavens that night! Katrina thought about the elegant presidential home compared to the humble manger in which the Savior of the world had been born in human form.

“My, my,” sighed the faithful angel as she glowed from the top of the dark green tree.  “If only the people down through the centuries since our dear Jesus was born weren’t so ignorant  of the great love and mercy  He showed by leaving the wonders of heaven to come down here and be a man for a while.  If only they truly understood His only objective, He knew He was being born so that He could die, the perfect sacrifice Whose blood would cover all sin. It still fills me with awe to think of the Father’s plan, and the Son’s willingness to fulfill it.”

Katrina suddenly realized that things had gone pretty quiet in the area surrounding the tree.  Peering down through the branches, she watched as two men set up a xylophone, a beautiful instrument that very few people could play these days. Seemed to her it was all guitars and drums and a lot of yelling into microphones!  As she watched, one of the men pulled a case out from under the xylophone. He removed four mallets that seemed to have some kind of wooden, maybe padded, heads on them. Holding them expertly, he played a melodious scale and then segued into the familiar harmonies of the world’s favorite Christmas carol, Silent Night.  The two men blended their voices to sing in perfect harmony as the crowd stilled to listen.

The mellow notes floated up into the crystalline air, seeming to melt into the stars of the heavens. Christ the Savior is born! Christ the Savior is born!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/alphabet-soup/

Aunt Katie

What’s the best present you’ve ever received that was handmade by the giver, not store-bought? Tell us what made it so special.

*********************

When I was about eight, I think, which would have put me in the third grade, I still loved playing with my dolls. I had a special one that I kept long after I stopped playing with her. She always had a place of honor among my stuffed animals.

Sadly, though, the poor little thing didn’t have a lot of clothes.  I remember the outfit she was wearing when I got her, and one other that I had pieced together from an older doll who was pretty much used up.  So I was hoping, hoping, hoping for a new outfit for my doll that Christmas.

My Aunt Katie, my dad’s youngest sister, lived far away in Colorado.  I loved the few visits we made with her, as we moved from Minnesota to Oregon and back again during my growing-up years.  She was kind, and very pretty.  She always sent birthday and Christmas cards, but rarely were there any packages.

That year, however, a box came from Aunt Katie and Uncle Lyman.   Such a thrill!  That box was like a wonderland to me, since we just didn’t get that sort of thing very often. This was back in the good old days when Christmas didn’t start until after Thanksgiving, and when gifts didn’t have to cost a fortune in order to be acceptable. ANY gift was a treasure!

I remember my dad cutting the string around the box, peeling off the brown paper, cutting the tape that held the cardboard flaps together.  As he pulled the flaps back, the excitement built until I could hardly stand it. The box was packed full of brightly-wrapped gifts, decorated with curly ribbon. There was something for everyone.  I have to be honest, though. I don’t remember what my dad, mom, or sister got. I just remember my gift.

On Christmas morning, we always had to choke down some sort of breakfast before the gift-opening ceremonies began. It was an unusually good Christmas, with new things that I’d never imagined. But Aunt Katie’s box is the one I remember the best.

It was full of clothes that were the perfect size for my doll! This was before the Barbie Doll invasion, and my doll was cute and innocent. There were little pants, skirts, tops, even pajamas. And my absolute favoirte was a grey corduroy coat with pink piping around the collar, with a matching bonnet. Oh, I was in heaven!  Each outfit had to be tried on, fussed over, and displayed to my disinterested but tolerant family. Aunt Katie had made each outfit herself, and some of it was hand-stitched.

What a thrill for a little girl’s heart!  I kept that box of clothes and the doll, and passed them on to my own daughter many years later.  I can’t remember if the doll and the clothes survived to be passed on to her daughter, as some of my other things were. Seems to me the doll’s hair was in pretty sad shape the last time I remember seeing her, and many moves and “clearing out the junk” may have sentenced my doll to her heavenly reward.

In any event, that was the first hand-made gift I remember.  It meant the world to me.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/by-hand/