365 Days of Christmas is keeping the spirit alive
all year to enliven your world.




Thursday, December 31, 2009

'Twas the Night Before Jesus Came

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'Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.
Their bibles were lain on the shelf without care
In hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed,
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
Mom in her rock with baby on her lap
Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here.
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray,
I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY.

The light of His face made me cover my head.
It was Jesus. Returning just like He had said.
Though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
Was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name.
When He said, "It's not here," my head hung in shame.

The people whose names had been written with love
He gathered to take to His Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound
While all the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late.
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight.
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear...
The coming of Jesus is drawing near.
There's only one life and when comes the last call
We'll find that the Bible was true after all!

~~ Dianne Donenfeld, 1988 ~~

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 12/24/09

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We’ve all heard that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. I know for sure that it’s also a lot more fun. Nothing makes me happier than a gift well given and joyfully received.

~~ Oprah Winfrey ~~

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 12/22/09

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Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 12/21/09

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If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.


Merry Christmas and lots of love to you and yours!




Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 12/20/09

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The best of all gifts around any Christmas Tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in Jesus and each other.

Monday, December 14, 2009

25 Easy Healthy Tips for Christmas and the Holiday Season

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The holidays can represent the best time of year for healthy living, as it is a time when many people can focus on a mind-body-soul connection. However, stress, heavy traffic, sold-out store items, and bad weather can interrupt that healthy and wholesome way of life for many. How can you maintain that holiday season joy and love for both yourself and those around you? The following easy, healthy living tips may help you keep your focus during the upcoming holiday season.

Mind (Stress Management)

  1. Spend some time alone. Use this time to meditate, read, or relax. Regain your equilibrium and remember that this time of year is a special time for friends and family.
  2. Avoid unnecessary travel. One way to keep your peace of mind is to stay home. If you need to travel, plan your trips to combine errands or — on longer trips — plan to drive at night and to avoid large cities during rush hours. If you’re caught in rush hour, make sure you have some music or a book on tape to help pass time.
  3. Watch the anger. Stress can lead to anger which can often lead to more stress (and may be linked to heart problems). Help yourself during bouts of anger by counting to ten and visualizing a relaxing experience.
  4. Don’t overspend. Your daughter/son/husband/wife or friends may prefer spending more time with a cheerful you than with whatever you got on sale during Black Friday. Avoid the temptation to overspend and you can avoid stress as well.
  5. Allow someone to help you. Why do you want to do everything yourself? Allow a friend to help you with chores, managing kids, or cooking (try a potluck for the holidays, rather than take on all the cooking yourself). You might enjoy the company and you can avoid stress at the same time.
  6. Balance work, play, and family life. What better time to learn how to balance your life than during the holidays? Parties, family events, and other social activities basically demand that you stop working for at least a few hours. You can continue this practice long after the holiday season.
  7. Be creative. Think outside the box when problems arise. Use humor, rather than anger, to find resolutions. Open your mind to the new and unusual and think about how you might incorporate those new ideas into your life.
  8. Smile. Smiling can make you feel relaxed and happy, even when you don’t mean it. You can tilt your neurochemical balance toward calm by smiling, as smiling transmits nerve impulses from the facial muscles to the limbic system, a key emotional center in the brain.

Body

  1. Watch your weight. Those candies are tempting and you don’t want to hurt Aunt Cookie's feelings by passing them up. Eat before you attend parties so you’re not so hungry when you arrive.
  2. Drop caffeine and soda. Get a jump start on a possible New Year’s resolution by weaning yourself off caffeine and sodas. Wean yourself away from caffeine slowly, otherwise you might end up with a caffeine-withdrawal headache that could last for a few days. Substitute herbal teas for hot and cold drinks. After a few days without sodas, you might wonder why you thought they tasted so good.
  3. Use locally-grown ingredients. While you may stick with traditional recipes, try to use locally-grown ingredients. Using local ingredients is environmentally sound as well as healthy.
  4. Drink plenty of water. Water can help to keep hunger at bay as well as to help hydrate you when you are subjected to dry air in heated environments. Water also helps your body eliminate toxins, such as those martinis you had the night before.
  5. Keep your body moving. It’s a given that most people eat more during the holidays. If you move more as well, you can keep your metabolism running and help burn those extra calories. Take stairs when possible, stand rather than sit, and offer to clean the table after dinner — not really exercise, but it all counts.
  6. Wash your hands often. Washing your hands often is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer if you can’t get to a sink and soap.
  7. Stay warm. If it’s cold, then dress warmly in layers of loose-fitting tightly-woven clothing. This way you can shed some layers if the day warms up or if you spend some time visiting indoors.
  8. Travel safely. Don’t drink and drive (and don’t allow others to drink and drive), wear a seat belt, and don’t speed. You also can put a kit in the trunk for emergencies that includes blankets, band-aids, aspirin, and other first-aid items.
  9. Treat yourself to a massage. Not only can a massage help release toxins physically, it can help you release negative and stressful energy. Think of the massage as a gift to yourself for the holiday season (but you might think about doing this several times per year. You, after all, deserve it.)

Soul

  1. Volunteer. You might gain a grasp on your own fortune when you offer to help others. Work in a soup kitchen, take a meal to an elderly neighbor, or look for local events that need volunteers.
  2. Count your blessings. What better time to be grateful than when you’re stuck in a traffic jam? You can begin by understanding that you’re not alone in that traffic jam and then work up from there. You can end by understanding that you are the only person in this universe who is exactly like you – a unique and amazing creation.
  3. Forget comparisons. One way to spoil your holiday is to compare yourself to who you see as the most beautiful/talented/charming, etc. person in the room. Stop those comparisons and you may begin to feel the love — from yourself and from others.
  4. Let go of expectations. The holidays often provide a time for expectations, especially in the gift-giving department. If you can let go of the material and remember the spirit of the season (better to give than receive), then you might enjoy whatever you do receive with a bigger heart.
  5. Make your heart bigger. This is an exercise in appreciating beauty in all forms and the elimination of a need to nit pick and point out flaws. Everyone is a unique soul, different than you. This does not make them better than you, nor does it make them less than you. Insults and judgments, even if they are not voiced, might only serve to increase your own insecurities. This process may begin with self acceptance.
  6. Let go of the need to control. While you can continue to make that dinner for friends and family, you can stop worrying about whether the gravy is just right or if the meat is overcooked. Relax, enjoy, and understand that the world will go on despite small flaws and even despite the huge mistakes. Go with the flow.
  7. Think of others first. This does not mean that you need to neglect your own needs; however, when you think about others and their needs you might be able to crowd out all those negative thoughts that might creep in over the holidays. Think altruism.
  8. Forgive and forget. Why not start out a new year with a clean slate? If you can forgive someone and forget the slight (real or imagined), perhaps you can enter 2010 with a real smile on your face.

Christmas

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Christmas

C is for Christ!
H is for happiness.
R is for Rudolph.
I is for icicle.
S is for Santa.
T is for together.
M is for mistletoe.
A is for a lot of presents.
S is for sleigh.

Written by Cassandra, my daughter, 8, 12/2009.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Checking Them Twice

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As December speeds by, many last minute buyers feel the urgency to find just the right gift for a particular person. But, in that search for something cool, people often forget about safety. Before you buy this year, you may want to check out what the Consumer Product Safety Commission has to say about that gift that your family or friends really want. After all, it’s no fun to get (or give) a present that isn’t up to par and has to be returned.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Your Cards

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With the holiday season in full swing, I thought it’d be a great time to introduce you to a brand new FREE eCard service called YourCards.

YourCards lets you fully customize your holiday greetings to support your favorite cause or charity while spreading holiday joy to individuals or your entire social network on Facebook or Twitter.

With every card, senders can include a linkable and brandable logo — presenting virtually limitless opportunities for self-expression, networking, and charitable support. Users can point their recipients to check out their favorite foundation to support the animals or charity to raise awareness for diseases in every eCard they send out. By including the logo and URL of a favorite cause or charity, people can spread the important message of giving over the holidays.

YourCards has an array of holiday themed eCards that we would love to have you check out.

The Christmas Hope

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The Christmas Hope is the sequel to the hit films The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Blessing.

Lifetime Movie Network

RINGS IN THE HOLIDAYS ON

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13

WITH THREE CHRISTMAS MOVIES Based on

Donna VanLiere’s Best-Selling Novels

The Christmas Shoes – Starring Rob Lowe and Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim)

Airs 4 pm ET/7 pm PT on Sunday, December 13. The Christmas Shoes follows a young boy, Nathan Andrews, whose Christmas wish is to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mother (Williams-Paisley). On Christmas Eve, his path crosses with a stranger, Robert Layton (Lowe), an attorney who had been drifting away from his family until the recent death of his own mother. With the help of the generous stranger, Nathan is able to give his mother one last precious gift.

The premise of the story originated came from e-mail legend in 1999 and inspired the song by Eddie Carswell, a singer-songwriter from the Contemporary Christian Music group NewSong. The ballad eventually hit the #1 spot on the Billboard Charts. Soon after, author Donna VanLiere wrote The New York Times Best-Selling novel, and, in 2002, the television movie based on the book debuted on CBS to rave reviews.

The Christmas Blessing – Starring Neil Patrick Harris and Rebecca Gayheart

Airs 6 pm ET/3 pm PT*on Sunday, December 13. In The Christmas Blessing, Nathan Andrews (Harris) has grown up and is a medical resident. After losing a teenage boy on the operating table, he returns home and faces the memories of his mother’s passing. Nathan takes a position as a local coach and becomes taken with a beautiful teacher, Megan Sullivan (Gayheart). He forms a special bond with her student Charlie, who has also lost his mother, and together they both hope for a Christmas miracle.

The Christmas Blessing debuted in 2005 on CBS. Rob Lowe makes a special appearance, reprising the role as Robert Layton.

The Christmas Hope – Starring Madeleine Stowe, James Remar, and Ian Ziering

Airs 8 pm ET/9 pm PT* on Sunday, December 13. The third film in the trilogy follows Patricia (Stowe) and Mark Addison (Remar), a couple in a troubled marriage. When Patricia, a social worker, brings home a foster child who has no place to go on Christmas, they set aside their differences to give the young girl a special holiday. Beloved character Nathan Andrews (Ziering) returns in The Christmas Hope, bringing the stories full circle.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Personalized

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Instead of buying expensive ornament sets, explore other creative, cost-saving options for Christmas tree ornaments. It's easy to find instructions on how to make your own Christmas ornaments, how to choose the right materials, and even how to hang these Christmas tree ornaments. Following your artistic instincts, you can create homemade Christmas ornaments that will add a personal touch to your dazzling Christmas tree.

Making personalized Christmas tree ornaments is an experience to treasure. Make a Christmas angel to grace your tree. Use a hot glue gun to combine cotton balls together for the angel's body. Add broken sea shells to decorate your Christmas angel. Other easy homemade ornaments can be crafted from simple materials like shells and paper. To make the head of the angel ornament, take a medium-sized wooden bead and decorate it, using a small tinsel for the halo. To hang one of these homemade ornaments, use a small ribbon. Such simple yet dashing kids’ homemade ornaments bring life to the holiday spirit.

If you're still craving more Christmas ornaments, how to make them depends on what materials you have around. Got unused cinnamon sticks? With some experimentation, you can figure out how to make Christmas ornaments with such simple, common household items like cinnamon sticks. Ribbons, small figurines, and even rubber bands can make your homemade Christmas ornaments extra special. These ornaments can hang alongside glass Christmas tree ornaments, adding personal touches to your tree. Your Christmas ornament tree will also look dazzling once you jazz it up with other homemade Christmas tree ornaments such as a small family photo in a personalized frame.

In spending quality time with your family and loved ones this holiday season, make personalized Christmas tree ornaments part of the celebrations. Not only will you have a fabulous time, the memory of the precious experience experience will also be forever captured by your Christmas tree ornaments. And that would be just another thing to celebrate with everyone you love, year after year.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 12/5/09

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The true spirit of Christmas reflects a dedication to helping those in need, to giving hope to those in despair, and to spreading peace and understanding throughout the earth.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 12/4/09

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Christmas waves a magic wand . . . and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
~~ Norman Vincent Peale ~~

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Tree

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Just think of this as a Christmas gift from me . . . no strings attached . . . a small silver Christmas tree. This is especially for those who are less fortunate and cannot afford to buy a tree . . . and for those who just want a little something different.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Celebrate the Holidays

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Each day leading up to December 25th, visitors open a virtual door to reveal a way to give back to their community or contribute to global programs. In addition to charitable tips, behind each door visitors can find festive surprises including tracks from Peter Buffett’s beautiful holiday album, Star of Wonder, behind-the-scenes vlogs, and a first look at excerpts from Peter's upcoming book, Life is What You Make It.

The calendar can be viewed here: www.peterbuffett.com/advent.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bible Explorer

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Since we’re heading into the Christmas season, I thought you might like to know about this FREE piece of software for PC or Mac users. It’s called Bible Explorer and is a sweet study tool. It comes with over 200 free Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, and more.The software includes the American Standard Version (ASV), New International Version (NIV), New American Standard Bible (NASB) Bundle, King James Version (KJV), and the Bible in Basic English (BBE), just to list a few.

It doesn’t matter whether you follow the Catholic, Church of Christ, Dispensational, Lutheran, Mainline, Pentecostal, Puritan, Reformed, or Wesleyan doctrine, there is study material to help you out. There are also study aids written from Jewish Christian perspectives.

I can think of oodles of people who may enjoy this as a gift including ministers, church leaders, grandma (who can’t see well), parents, and kids, and the list goes on. Part of the broad range appeal is due to the special libraries you can add according to your needs. For example, there is a library for preachers and discipleships, etc .

There are just so many features and possibilities with this software, I can’t list them all. To find out if this software is a good fit for your needs, you can click here to discover more about Bible Explorer.


Get Bible Explorer!

The Cards That Give Twice

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This holiday season, send cards that mean more.

We donate ten percent of card sales to well respected nonprofit organizations working throughout the world.

Good Cause Greetings is proud to support nonprofit organizations throughout the world through the sale of our unique line of holiday greeting cards. The purchase of Good Cause Greetings helps end hunger, provide housing, medical care and education for world citizens and improve the environment for people and animals worldwide. At the site, click on a charity logo to be linked to the collection of cards supporting that particular organization.

Seeds of Hope

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This holiday season, there is one gift – a piece of beautiful, hand-crafted jewelry - that is helping to give back: the Seeds of Hope Pin. The Seeds of Hope Pin is donating 25% of its proceeds to the National Foundation for Cancer Research (www.NFCR.org). Each Seeds of Hope pin is made of sterling silver with individually hand-set stones and signed by renowned artist, Robert Coogan, creating an heirloom-quality piece, made in the USA. Unlike other pins, the Seed of Hope pins can be personalized to reflect an individual's particular sentiment: White - Hope; Red - Honor; Blue - Triumph. 25% of the gross proceeds from each Seeds of Hope pin supports cancer research. Visit http://www.hopepin.com for more information.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stay Grounded

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Remember to make time to alone. It'll keep you grounded, centered, and calm during this busy Christmas season.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 11/20/09

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Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
~~ Dr Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas ~~

Monday, November 16, 2009

Christmas Bingo

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Christmas is the time of year to gather with your loved ones. Families congregate anticipating laughter, good food, gift exchange, Christmas music, and good holiday entertainment.

Holiday games are a great way to entertain all of your family members. Put on some Christmas music, whip up some eggnog, and throw on some Santa hats. Then gather everyone up and play games like Charades, Christmas Trivia, and Christmas Bingo.

Check this out, a new bingo version, Christmas style.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Recipe for Joy

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Help donate 1 million meals to the hungry this holiday season. Simply send FREE holiday e-cards from American Greetings to your friends and family. For each card sent, Kraft Foods will donate 10 meals to Feeding America. Be among the first to experience the joy of giving and spread the word about this program. Visit Recipe For Joy and send a FREE holiday e-card today and every day through December 31, 2009. For more information about Feeding America, visit Feeding America.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas Calendar

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If your looking for fun activities to occupy your kids then this interactive Christmas calendar will probably be of interest.

The Christmas advent calendar that's counting down the days with FREE games and activities that are great for kids and the whole family!

Here are just some of the board games and activities that are on the calendar:

  • Chutes and Ladders
  • Trivia Games
  • Coloring Pages
  • Word Searches
  • Word Scrambles
  • Ornament Templates
See the advent at: http://www.optimalprint.co.uk/christmas-advent-calendar

All games are downloadable, printable, and easy to be laminated and reused!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Unexpected Christmas

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We were well over half way to our farm in East Texas when the storm broke. Lightning flashed, thunder crashed and a tree fell with a great ripping noise. When the rain poured in such a flood that we could not see the road, my husband drove on to what seemed to be a bit of clearing deep in the piney woods.

As we waited I sensed we would not get to the farm that night to celebrate Christmas with our family. We were sitting there, miserable and dejected, when I heard a knocking on my window. A man with a lantern stood there beckoning us to follow him. My husband and I splashed after him up the path to his house.

A woman with a lamp in her hand stood in the doorway of an old house; a boy of about twelve and a little girl stood beside her. We went in soaked and dripping, and the family moved aside in order that we might have the warmth of the fire. With the volubility of city people, my husband and I began to talk, explaining our plans. And with the quietness of people who live in the silence of the woods, they listened. "The bridge on Caney Creek is out. You are welcome to spend the night with us," the man said. And though we told them we thought it was an imposition, especially on Christmas Eve, they insisted. After we had visited a while longer, the man got up and took the Bible from the mantle. "It's our custom to read the story from St. Luke on Christmas Eve," he said, and without another word he began: "And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger ... "

The children sat up eagerly, their eyes bright in anticipation, while their father read on: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night." I looked at his strong face. He could have been one of them. When he finished reading and closed the Bible, the little children knelt by their chairs. The mother and father were kneeling, and without any conscious will of my own I found myself joining them. Then I saw my husband, without any embarrassment at all, kneel also. When we arose, I looked around the room. There were no bright-wrapped packages or cards, only a small, unadorned holly tree on the mantle. Yet the spirit of Christmas was never more real to me.

The little boy broke the silence. "We always feed the cattle at 12 o'clock on Christmas Eve. Come with us."

The barn was warm and fragrant with the smell of hay and dried corn. A cow and a horse greeted us, and there was a goat with a tiny, wooly kid that came up to be petted. This is like the stable where the Baby was born, I thought. Here is the manger, and the gentle animals keep watch.

When we returned to the house there was an air of festivity and the serving of juice and fruitcake. Later, we bedded down on a mattress made of corn shucks. As I turned into a comfortable position, they rustled under me and sent up a faint fragrance exactly like that in the barn. My heart said, "You are sleeping in the stable like the Christ Child did."

As I drifted into a profound sleep, I knew that the light coming through the old pine shutters was the Star shining on that quiet house.

The family all walked down the path to the car with us the next morning. I was so filled with the Spirit of Christmas they had given me that I could find no words. Suddenly I thought of the gifts in the back seat of our car for our family.

I began to hand them out. My husband's gray woolen socks went to the man. The red sweater I had bought for my sister went to the mother. I gave away two boxes of candy, the white mittens and the leather gloves while my husband nodded approval.

And when I was breathless from reaching in and out of the car and the family stood there loaded with the gaiety of Christmas packages, the mother spoke for all of them. "We thank you," she said simply. And then she said, "Wait."

She hurried up the path to the house and came back with a quilt folded across her arms. It was beautifully handmade; the pattern was the Star of Bethlehem. I looked up at the tall beautiful pines because my throat hurt and I could not speak. It was indeed Christmas.

Every Christmas Eve since then, I sleep under that quilt, the Star of Bethlehem, and in memory I visit the stable and smell again the corn shucks, and the meaning of Christmas abides with me once more.

Written by Marguerite Nixon.

Prepare Your Heart for a Great Christmas

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Check out this wonderful devotional journal for women. It features scripture-based reflections and journal pages for gratitude, intention, and to-do lists. Written by a Christian mom and beginning on Thanksgiving Day and ending on the Feast of the Epiphany, the book is an insightful prayer companion for busy moms!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Celebrate the 26 Days of Advent

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Here are some fun family time activities to help your child learn the meaning of Christmas and remind them of how important they are to the world.

Whether you’re trying to reclaim peace, joy, love, or faith, these fun Advent guides may help.

The first is a 26-day guide for older children and adults. Each week begins with an article on the significance of that week’s theme, followed by seven days of thought-provoking questions for your reflection and written response through journaling. Together these lessons and exercises will take you through the 26 days of Advent and can help you find what you are seeking.

The second guide is great for family discussions and offers fun activities for younger children. It too is based around themes. It has articles to read as a family and a daily activity such as creating paper snowflakes, bird feeders, and more to help children learn the meaning of Christmas and to remind them of how important they are to the world.

Grab these two great resources here.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Christmas Examiner

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First article is up and my column is now active. Check it out at Christmas Examiner.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Star Still Shines

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The Glenn Mohr Chorale released a Christmas CD recently. The title is "A Star Still Shines." The CD is aptly named for the chorus shines with Christmas carol favorites and newly loved songs. The lyrics -- my favorite is Christmas in Heaven -- are beautifully written and the choir is brightly talented.

A new site, The Glenn Mohr Chorale, was launched this week and links to Youtube and Facebook are available. You can get a catch an wonderful earful of the music on the site too. If you're on Facebook, befriend the Chorale for updates.

(Updated 11/11/09.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Christmas Before Halloween

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Why start thinking about Christmas even before Halloween? Every wonderful experience starts with a vision. In October, we're going to figure out what our holiday season will look like and we'll take November to make it happen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 9/21/09

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Time was with most of us, when Christmas Day, encircling all our limited world like a magic ring, left nothing out for us to miss or seek; bound together all our home enjoyments, affections, and hopes; grouped everything and everyone round the Christmas fire, and make the little picture shining in our bright young eyes, complete.
~~ Charles Dickens ~~

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 9/20/09

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To celebrate the heart of Christmas is to forget ourselves in the service of others.
~~ Henry C. Link ~~

Friday, September 18, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 9/18/09

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May we not "spend" Christmas or "observe" Christmas, but rather "keep it."
~~ Peter Marshall ~~

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 9/15/09

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We should try to hold on to the Christmas spirit, not just one day a year, but all 365.
~~ Mary Martin ~~

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The History of Gift Wrap

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Though the practice of gift giving has a long Christmas history, those gifts being presented in colorful paper and tied up in curls of ribbon is a relatively new practice. While Christmas cards began to be sent in the mid-nineteenth century it wasn't until many years later that dressing up presents in Christmas finery caught on.

Holiday gift giving began long before Christmas. The Romans would give gifts to one another on pagan festivals like Saturnalia, the winter solstice, and the Roman New Year. The tradition of gift giving became associated with Christmas because of the offerings of the Three Wise Men, though early on the Church discouraged the practice of gift giving because of its pagan associations. But by the Middle Ages the tradition had become so popular that it became a mainstay of the holiday season.

Early on gifts were wrapped in simple tissue paper or more sturdy brown paper. In the nineteenth century, gifts were sometimes presented in decorated cornucopias or paper baskets. The technology did not exist to mass produce a decorated, foldable, paper until the 1890's, when developments in printing presses allowed colored ink to be printed fluidly on stiffer papers. A rotary system developed that allowed the printed paper to be rolled onto cardboard rolls or cut into smaller sheets. The printed gift wrap industry took off at the turn of the century. Hy-Sill Manufacturing Inc., founded by Eli Hyman and Morris Silverman, became the first American gift wrap company in 1903. Wrapping paper's biggest name, Hallmark, stumbled upon the gift wrap market by accident. In 1917, the Hall Brothers's typical offering of green, red, and white tissue paper had sold out in their Kansas City, Missouri store a few days before Christmas. The resourceful owner, Rollie Hall, had sheets of decorative envelope liners shipped over from a manufacturing plant. He placed these large patterned sheets on top of a showcase and sold them for 10 cents each. The decorative paper quickly sold out. The next year, the sheets sold for three for 25 cents, and again they quickly disappeared. The brothers began printing their own Christmas wrapping paper, and soon gift wrap sales rivaled their greeting card department.

Early gift wrappers had to be especially dexterous; scotch tape wasn't invented until 1930! And it wasn't until 1932 that the rolls of adhesive tape were sold in dispensers with cutter blades. Before then packages were tied up with string and sealing wax. In the 20's and 30's small sticky circles were sold in packets along with folded papers that allowed the wrapper to attach the paper. During this time also, small gift tags and a type of sticky decorative ribbon were developed, often included in packets of matching wrapping paper.

Over the years the look of wrapping paper changed as well. The first wrapping paper was decorated in the ornate style of the Victorian era, similar to the Christmas greeting cards that had become all the rage. Gilded flourishes of cherubs, birds, and flowers draped across sheets of popular wrapping papers. In the 30's and 40's, patterns became more stylized due to the popularity of Art Deco. Decorations moved away from nature to symbols we commonly associate with Christmas today. Popular patterns included ice skaters, snowflakes, Christmas trees, and candles. While the symbols remained the same, the artwork became more realistic again in the 50's and 60's. By the 70's and 80's, Madison Avenue had realized the potential of wrapping paper and hence, wrapping paper often had movie or TV show tie-ins, with designs incorporating popular movie or cartoon characters.

Gift wrap was saved from the rationing that many other products were subject to during World War II. The War Office believed that gift wrap and other Christmas traditions contributed to raising morale amongst citizens, and also believed that it encouraged people to send packages to soldiers far from home. Some gift wrap manufacturers turned to weapon and other wartime production, but the ones that remained making paper saw business boom. Sales actually increased by more than twenty percent during the war!

Innovations with gift wrap have continued. The 1980's introduced decorative plastic and paper gift bags, though these "new" bags weren't as new as some people thought. The Victorians had often given their gifts in decorated bags. The introduction of stick-on bows and cascade ribbons in the 80's and 90's further helped less than perfect gift wrappers.

By Mac Carey

Christmas Shows Schedule 2009

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Repeating a successful practice from last year, My Merry Christmas has a mega-schedule of programs for Christmas 2009, running from Thanksgiving (November 26) to the Epiphany (January 6).

All times are Central.

Saturday, November 28
• The Thin Man (1934). TCM, 11:00 a.m.

Sunday, November 29
• The Dog Who Saved Christmas (2009). ABC Family, 7:00 p.m.
• The Shop Around the Corner (1940). TCM, 8:45 p.m.

Thursday, December 3
• A Christmas Carol (1938). TCM, 7:00 p.m.
• Little Women (1949). TCM, 8:15 p.m.
• Tenth Avenue Angel (1948). TCM, 10:30 p.m.

Friday, December 4
• 3 Godfathers (1948). TCM, 12:00 midnight.
• Hell's Heroes (1930). TCM, 2:00 a.m.
• Bush Christmas (1947). TCM, 3:30 a.m.

Sunday, December 6
• Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1940). TCM, 5:00 a.m.
• Christmas in Connecticut (1945). TCM, 11:00 a.m.
• Remember the Night (1940). TCM, 1:00 p.m.

Wednesday, December 9
• Dead of Night (1945). TCM, 3:00 a.m.Thursday, December 10
• It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947). TCM, 5:00 p.m.
• Fitzwilly (1967). TCM, 9:00 p.m.
• Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938). TCM, 11:00 p.m.

Friday, December 11
• Susan Slept Here (1954). TCM, 1:00 a.m.
• Little Women (1933). TCM, 3:00 a.m.Saturday, December 12
• The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962). TCM, 5:00 a.m.
• A Christmas Carol (1938). TCM, 11:00 a.m.
• 3 Godfathers (1948). TCM, 12:15 p.m.
• The Lion in Winter (1968). TCM, 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 13
• Penny Serenade (1941). TCM, 5:00 a.m.
• In the Good Old Summertime (1949). TCM, 11:00 a.m.
• Susan Slept Here (1954). TCM, 1:00 p.m.
• Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945). TCM, 7:00 p.m.
• Johnny Got His Gun (1971). TCM, 9:00 p.m.
• Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925). TCM, 11:00 p.m.

Tuesday, December 15
• Swiss Family Robinson. TCM, 10:15 a.m.
• Gone With the Wind. TCM, 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, December 17
• Christmas in Connecticut. TCM, 7:00 p.m.
• Holiday Affair. TCM, 9:00 p.m.
• This Man Is Mine. TCM, 10:30 p.m.

Friday, December 18
• Period of Adjustment (1962). TCM, 12:30 a.m.
• The Shop Around the Corner (1940). TCM, 9:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 19
• Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). TCM, 11:00 a.m.
• Little Women (1949). TCM, 1:00 p.m.
• The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942). TCM, 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, December 20
• Ben-Hur (1959). TCM, 3:00 p.m.
• King of Kings (1961). TCM, 8:00 p.m.
• The King of Kings (1927). TCM, 11:00 p.m.

Monday, December 21
• Meet John Doe (1941). TCM, 11:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 24
• Blossoms in the Dust (1941). TCM, 5:30 a.m.
• 3 Godfathers (1948). TCM, 7:15 a.m.
• The Great Rupert (1950). TCM, 9:15 a.m.
• Bundle of Joy (1956). TCM, 10:45 a.m.
• All Mine to Give (1957). TCM, 12:30 p.m.
• Pocketful of Miracles (1961). TCM, 2:30 p.m.
• Period of Adjustment (1962). TCM, 5:00 p.m.
• Remember the Night (1940). TCM, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, December 25
• Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). TCM, 12:00 midnight
• In the Good Old Summertime (1949). TCM, 2:00 a.m.
• The Shop Around the Corner (1940). TCM, 4:00 a.m.
• Little Women (1933). TCM, 6:00 a.m.
• A Christmas Carol (1938). TCM, 8:00 a.m.
• The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942). TCM, 9:15 a.m.
• Christmas in Connecticut (1945). TCM, 11:15 a.m.
• Little Women (1949). TCM, 1:15 p.m.
• Holiday Affair (1950). TCM, 3:30 p.m.
• Susan Slept Here (1954). TCM, 5:00 p.m.

Monday, December 28
• Lady for a Day (1933). TCM, 11:00 p.m.

Tuesday, December 29
• Pocketful of Miracles (1961). TCM, 12:45 a.m.
• Battleground (1949). TCM, 11:00 p.m.

Thursday, December 31
• The Thin Man (1934). TCM, 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Christmas Journal

3 merry thoughts
Start a new tradition: Put together a holiday-only journal to capture your thoughts. Each season, add to the book and read past entries.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Christmas Card Writing Party

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During the height of the holiday season, sending out Christmas cards can seem like just another chore on your list of things to do.

This year, address this sometimes daunting task by turning it into a card-writing party!

Invite a few close companions to your home one evening and have them bring along their cards, envelopes, address books, pens, and postage stamps.

While writing out the cards at the dining room table, nibble on delicious and special appetizers.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The First Gift of Christmas

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When you join the Richard Paul Evans mailing list, $1 will be donated by Operation Kids to help abused and neglected children.

Also when you join the mailing list (offer good until 1231/09) you will receive a FREE downloadable audio copy of The First Gift of Christmas written and ready by Richard Paul Evans.

Each week someone from Richard's mailing list will win an autographed copy of Richard's latest book.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 8/22/09

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It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one's fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit.
~~ Isabel Currier ~~

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 8/20/09

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Christmas isn't just a day, it's a frame of mind.
~~ Valentine Davies, Miracle on 34th Street ~~

Monday, August 17, 2009

Christmas Town Trees

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Since the Christmas tree is one of biggest symbols of Christmas I am always on the look out for Christmas trees. Check out this beauty . . . LOVE the red. There are Fraser Firs, Cashmeres, Spruces, and more types of trees in abundance. Of course, ornaments are needed to decorate the trees. Also, available are tips on decorating your trees.

In addition to the online store, there is a blog. The Christmas Town Trees Blog shares recipes, decorating ideas, crafts, and traditions. Lots of fun Christmas inspiration can be found at Christmas Town Trees via the store and the blog.

I received no monetary value for writing this review.

A Fun And Festive Blog

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"This blog is definitely on-track with what Christmas-aficionados are after – a slice of trivia here, a cute quiz there, a wonderfully warm idea [over there,] and a helping of history with a side of cookies."

Don't you love that description?!

Christmas Town Trees found my blog and was kind enough to write up a brief post about 365 Days of Christmas.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Christmas Card Making Week

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The Christmas Card Making Week of Webisodes is this week. All this week we’re celebrating . . . and getting a jump-start on our Christmas cards.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Schedule

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The Trans-Siberian Orchestra has announced their 2009 tour schedule.

If you join the fan club you can purchase tickets before they go on sale to the general public. It doesn't cost anything to join the club.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Christmas Thought of the Day - 8/10/09

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My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?
~~ Bob Hope ~~

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Christmas Trivia - Bells

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The ringing of bells is an early pagan winter celebration to drive out evil spirits.

Later, the tradition was to ring bells on Christmas Eve to welcome in the spirit of Christmas with joyful noise.

In Norway, bells still ring throughout the country on Christmas Eve at 5 PM.

In Yorkshire, England, on Christmas Eve, the bell is rung once for each year that has passed since the birth of Christ.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Aroud the Christmas Net #5

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Christmas Trivia

I recently came across this Christmas trivia site, aptly named Christmas Trivia. If you’re into Christmas trivia you’ll surely like this site, as it’s got plenty of quizzes on a wide range of Christmas topics both easy and difficult.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Annual MMC Ornament Exchange

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It is time to start thinking Christmas 2009! What better way than to sign up for our annual ornament exchange at My Merry Christmas.

It's quite simple and fun . . . you ship off an ornament to someone and they ship one to you. Personalize the ornament as a Christmas greeting from your family and share what is sent to you with all who enter your home this holiday season.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Christmas Trivia - Candy Cane

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A 18th century English candy maker decided to make a candy commemorating Christmas (this was during the time that Christmas celebrating was outlawed in England). The result was a candy cane representing the Shepherds staff. Made of white candy to represent purity with three red stripes for the Trinity and one large red stripe for Jesus' blood shed.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chrstmas in July - Angels

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Angels are a beautiful symbol and a wonderful decoration for your home. Whether you are decorating for the holidays or creating accents for various rooms, this collection of angel craft projects is full of lovely little angels that will brighten your home.

The editors have picked 16 of their favorite quick and easy angel crafts for this special eBook, including the popular clay pot garden angel (page 14), an angel wind chime (page 20), and the kid-friendly angel ornaments (page 40).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Christmas Trivia - Candles

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Lighting candles is an early pagan tradition to drive away the forces of cold and darkness.

The Romans decorated their temples with greenery and candles.

The early Christians started to light candles as symbolic of the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Christmas Trivia - Christmas Cards

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Card making began with school children drawing pictures of biblical scenes and a message like Happy Holidays and I promise to be good, etc., that was given to their parents before Christmas.

In 1846, after the advent of the British postal system, the first Christmas Card was produced, showing a family celebrating a Christmas dinner in the center and on each side were acts of charity picturing feeding and clothing the poor, with the message "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.", made by John Calcott Horsley. 1,000 cards were made.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Christmas Trivia - Kris Kringle

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German for “Christ's Child” or “Christkindlein.” A name for an early German gift-bringing infant Jesus or angelic being, who was thought of as a Christ's helper and gave gifts to poor and needy children. As cultures merged, visits from the similar St. Nicholas, Pere Noel, Pelznickel and Christkindlein all became overshadowed or mutated into Santa Claus.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Christmas Trivia - Mistletoe

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Ancient Celtic priests called Druids around the New Year would collect mistletoe from their holy oak tree and offer some as a sacrifice to the gods. Some would be hung up during a ceremony which people would stand under it and kiss showing an end to their old grievances with each other. This later practice never actually died out.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ideas for Twig Trees

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Thanksgiving Tree. Each person in the family, including dinner guests, trace their hands and write down things they are thankful for.

Spray paint red and white like a candy cane and hang candy canes from it.

Use only nature type things like bunches of holly berries, small eucalyptus wreaths, bouquets of baby breath, pinecones.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Safely Store Your Ornaments & Holiday Decor

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Proper storage of your ornaments and decorations keeps them in perfect condition year after year. Purchase sturdy storage containers and resolve to store your treasures properly this year!

WHAT NOT TO DO!

Don't wrap ornaments or decorations in newspaper, printed tissue, or other printed papers. The inks can rub off on the ornaments and ruin them.

Keep glass ornaments away from damp environments, like basements, garages, storage units, or attics. These treasures need to be kept inside to avoid mold or mildew damage.

Avoid using plastic shopping bags for storage as they tend to break down or weaken over time.

CONTAINERS

Compartmentalized ornament boxes are wonderful and can be found at discount department stores or ordered online.

Specially made containers are great, but you can also use sturdy cardboard boxes and inexpensive plastic bins with lids. It's a good idea to save your original ornament boxes whenever possible, especially for breakable items as they are usually packaged to prevent damage.

POSITIVE PACKING TIPS

Save and organize your gift wrapping materials in a plastic organizer made especially for this purpose. You won't have to buy all new materials next year, and you'll know exactly where your papers and bows are when you need them.
Long rolls of paper can also be stored by tying the rolls together with string or ribbon (don't tape them or use rubber bands that can mark or tear the paper) and lying them flat on a closet shelf. Store gift bags by removing any tissue paper from the bags, fold bags carefully, and store the folded bags in your largest gift bag or in a large department store bag. Hang or place the bag so that it won't be crushed or come into contact with moisture.

Sturdy cardboard inserts (like the ones packed inside all those toy packages) work great for wrapping garlands around to keep them flat and untangled. Layer in paper bags for protection and easy handling next year.

Wrap individual strings of lights around cardboard inserts. Check for broken or burned out lights and replace or mark with a colored twist-tie for replacement next year. Buy replacement bulbs in the after Christmas sales.

You can quickly make cloth bags to store and protect your lights by cutting the legs from a pair of old, worn out jeans and either sew, glue or use fusible web to seal one end. Place lights inside the bag and secure the open end with a large rubber band and by tying a length of string securely around the end. The bags can then be securely hung up in your storage area on a hook or nail. Store smaller strings of lights (for wreathes, or other decorations) in plastic containers marked to identify what the lights are used for.

Store extension cords with lights so you can locate them next year when you need them.

Use acid-free tissue paper to wrap loose ornaments and place in shallow, sturdy cardboard boxes or plastic ornament containers.

Many home/school made ornaments have candy (peppermints, etc.) that can deteriorate, get gooey or sticky, attract pests, and are generally not easily stored. If you want to try to keep them, place each in a Ziploc baggie to protect other items from direct contact.

Cushion ornaments by using lots of tissue between them. I don't recommend Styrofoam peanuts as packing material because they can get wedged into an ornaments tiny openings and cause breakage, and moisture can also cause the material to stick to your ornaments

Avoid overcrowding a box of ornaments or making too many layers.

Use sturdy cardboard boxes to store antique or fragile ornaments rather than airtight plastic containers.

Ornaments with photos, natural materials (pinecones, dog biscuits, macaroni, etc.) should be wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and stored in airtight containers to avoid attracting insects. Note that some natural materials may not store well from year to year.

Place small packets of silica gel (available at arts & crafts stores) in storage boxes to avoid mildew.

Wreaths should be wrapped in tissue paper and can be stored in cardboard boxes; avoid stacking wreaths.

Separate out any ornaments or objects in need of minor repairs and set aside to fix before packing them away.

Store collections or like items together so that each collection can be easily put together next year.

Label boxes for easy identity next year.

Use a clear plastic shoebox to organize and store extra gift tags, tape, scissors, small ribbons, trims, ornament hangers, cookie cutters, and other small miscellaneous holiday items.

Ribbons and bows are best stored in a large plastic box so they won't be crushed or exposed to moisture.

STORAGE ENVIRONMENT

A cool, dry area where the temperature remains fairly steady is preferable for storage of your treasured collectibles.

Avoid storing holiday decorations in laundry rooms, garages, outside storage buildings, basements, or attics that are not temperature regulated.

A high closet shelf or indoor under-the-stairs storage area where the boxes can remain undisturbed is ideal, especially for fragile items.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Unify the Decorations on Your Tree

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Create a truly unique tree by adding special decorating touches.

Choose a Christmas Tree Theme
Spark your creativity with a color or style theme. For instance, a silver theme can use silver ribbons, silver ornaments, and garlands of silver beads. Choose the decorations according to the theme. An elegant theme would use velvet, satin, sparkles, and beads. A country theme would make use of raffia, cookie cutter ornaments, popcorn and cranberry garlands, and wooden toys. Add clumps of dried herbs to a kitchen tree for a wonderful scent in the room.

Too Much is a Good Thing
You can never really have too many decorations on the tree. If they're evenly spaced and carefully selected, the more the better.

Add Natural Materials
Use colorful ribbons to tie together clusters of dried flowers or small twigs. Place them between branches where some fill is needed. Use wire to attach the clusters to the branches.

Use Silk Flowers for Color
Trim blossoms off stems of silk flowers and lay them on the branches of your Christmas tree for a formal look. Choose blossoms in shades of the colors of your theme or choose all white for a snowy effect. Place the flowers evenly around the tree on the inside and outside of branches.

Add Sparkle With Metallic Spray
Preserved leaves, pinecones, and seed pods can be embellished with metallic spray paint &/or a sprinkling of glitter. Add just a touch for a subtle look or cover completely for a more formal effect.

Ribbon Streamers
Instead of a garland, attach holiday colored ribbons or long strands of raffia to the top branches of the tree. Wind them down and around the branches to the bottom of the tree.

A Crowning Glory for Your Tree
Every traditional Christmas tree is topped by a star or angel. If you have a family heirloom, use it even if it doesn't "match" your tree decorating theme. Traditions are an important part of Christmas and what more suitable place would there be for an heirloom than the tip of your Christmas tree?

What Do the Holidays Mean to You?

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Your Holidays Are Lively



For you, the holidays are about celebration. You enjoy all the fun and fellowship that the holidays bring.



You celebrate the holidays in a minimalist style. You are likely to only give one great present and decorate your house with a few special items.



During the holidays, you feel magical. You love all of the decorations and how happy people are. You like to sit back and take it all in.



You think the holidays should be nostalgic and sweet. The holidays bring out your inner child.



Your best holiday memories are of childhood foods and traditions. You secretly still wish you believed in Santa Claus.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy Leon Day!

2 merry thoughts
“Leon” is “Noel” spelled backward. Leon Day marks the halfway point to Christmas.

Do something today to get ready for Christmas... buy a gift (or two), create cards, work on your Christmas notebook, create an ornament, send a Christmas in June card to a friend, listen to some Christmas music.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How Much Do You Know About Christmas?

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You Know a Lot About Christmas



You got 10/10 correct



You know tons about the history and traditions surrounding Christmas.

When you celebrate the holidays, you never forget their true meaning - or all the little fun details.



Random Christmas fact: The average mall Santa is 5'9, 218 lbs, and 52 years old. The average waist size is 43 inches.

The History of The 12 Days Of Christmas

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There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

  1. The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
  2. Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
  3. Three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.
  4. The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John.
  5. The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
  6. The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
  7. Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit -- Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
  8. The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
  9. Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit -- Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
  10. The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
  11. The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
  12. The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

You're Invited

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You are cordially invited to A birthday celebration!

Guest of Honor: Jesus Christ

Date: Every day. Traditionally, December 25, but He's always around, so the date is flexible.

Time: Whenever you're ready. Please don't be late, though, or you'll miss out on all the fun.

Place: In your heart . . . He'll meet you there. You'll hear Him knock.

Attire: Come as you are. Old clothes are okay. He'll be washing our clothes anyway. He said something about new white robes and crowns for everyone who stays til the end.

Tickets: Admission is free. He's already paid for everyone. He says you wouldn't have been able to afford it anyway . . . it cost Him everything He had. But you do need to accept the ticket!

Refreshments: New wine, bread, and a far-out drink He calls "Living Water," followed by a supper that promises to be out of this world.

Gift Suggestions: Your life. He's one of those people who already has everything else. He's very generous in return though. Just wait until you see what He has for you!

Entertainment: Joy, Peace, Truth, Light, Life, Love, Real Happiness, Communion with God, Forgiveness, Miracles, Healing, Power, Eternity in Paradise, Contentment, and much more! All "G" rated, so bring your family and friends.

R.S.V.P. is Very Important: He must know ahead so He can reserve a spot for you at the table. Also, He's keeping a list of His friends for future reference. He calls it the "Lamb's Book of Life."

Party Given: By His Kids (that's us). Hope to see you there.

Christmas Trivia - Holly

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Early Christians of Northern Europe decorated their homes and churches with this easily grown evergreen that was called “Holy Tree” later “Holly”, because the pointed green leaves reminded them of the crown of thorns and the red berries of the drops of blood at Jesus' crucifixion.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Getting to Know You - Christmas

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1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
For the children, wrapping paper. For others baskets. Sometimes I use gift bags for unusual-shaped or bulky items.

2. Real tree or artificial?
Artificial since I do so many trees and I don't want to deal with the pine needles of a real tree. Also, since I'm the only adult in my household I have no idea how I would get a real tree in the tree stand. Lol.

3. When do you put up the tree?
The big traditional family tree is put up between the 2nd and 4th week of November. The other trees start going up the day after Halloween.

4. When do you take the tree down?
The tree does not come down until after Kings Day, the 6th of January. If I took it down earlier my grandmother and father would come back to haunt me. Lol.

5. Do you like eggnog?
No.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
The year I got 10 Barbie dolls, 1 Ken doll, and all the accessories. Thank goodness for yard sales.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes. I have several since it is one of things I collect.

8. Hardest person to buy for?
My mother because I feel the gift has to be perfect. Long story.

9. Easiest person to buy for?
My children and dog.

10. Worst Christmas gift ever received?
Not receiving a gift for Christmas.

11. Mail or email Christmas card?
Definitely mail. Though, I do send e-greetings too.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
The old Rankin Bass animated shows.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
All year!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
No.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
I love it all. Lol.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
With having a variety of trees, I have both, depending on the theme of the tree.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Too many to list: Santa Baby, Mary Did You Know? (Favorite), Jingle Bell Rock, others that I cannot remember the titles of right now.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
We stay home on Christmas day.

19. Can you name Santa's reindeer?
Yes, I can.

20. Do you have an Angel on top or a star?
Depends on the theme of the tree. Both.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
The kids open two gifts on Christmas Eve: (1) pajamas to wear that night so that the kids look crisp and clean for pictures on Christmas morning, and (2) one book or movie to watch read or watch on Christmas Eve. All other gifts are opened on Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Commercialism, being a humbug.

23. Best thing about Christmas?
Christmas spirit, believing in Santa Claus, the birth of our Savior.

24. Favorite Christmas quote? Believing is seeing.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The W in Christmas

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Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.

Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year.

It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant." I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production.

Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment, and songs of reindeer and Santa Claus, and good cheer. So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row - center stage - held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down - totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear: "CHRISTWAS LOVE"

I believe, He still is...

Story by Candy Chand.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wordless Wednesday #4

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Look at these ceramic trees I found at a flea market. I got all five for $10.00. Whoo hoo!




To see other great photos of just about anything, go to 5 Minutes for Mom.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

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It was Christmas. The snow that gently hugged the tips of the mountains and the farolitos (paper lanterns) that graced the homes and business establishments in the desert Southwest told me so. But it was not Christmas in my heart. My children were busy with their holiday parties, and simply baking the perfunctory cookies for them was a massive chore. You see, tragedy had struck our family just four months earlier by way of the untimely and sad death of my oldest daughter, Kristen.

Much to my surprise, life proceeded, albeit on a surreal level. How would I get through the holidays? How could I be strong for my family? Christmas was just two weeks away, and my parents decided to fly out and join us. They had not weathered the death of their grandchild well. It was good that we would all be together for this holiday. Little did we know what was about to happen to us on that holiday.

It was a quiet night. The lights of Albuquerque sparkled below us, and I had just finished playing Christmas songs on my piano when the front doorbell chimed. My son, Nick, was quick to see who had come to visit us this late.

“What in the world?” he exclaimed. “There is no one here.”

My daughter, Kate, ran to the door and gasped in surprise. Sitting on the front porch was a beautiful white candle covered in a glass dome. The fire of the candle danced merrily, and we quickly brought it inside.

How nice! Who could have given us such a nice present? Why didn’t they stay so that we could thank them? So many questions!

The following night, after a particularly stressful day, we once again heard the sound of the doorbell. The children laughed merrily. This time, a basket of freshly baked ginger cookies was left for us. They were still warm and covered with a clean red-checkered dishtowel.

Nick quickly ran out onto the porch and into the driveway. No one was there. What was going on? Who could be doing this? And how could they disappear so quickly without a trace into the night?

On the third night, we waited with anticipation. Nick had a plan that he felt would be foolproof. He would be ready this time if the doorbell rang. He camped out in the foyer, directly in front of the door. Sure enough, this time, there came a knock. Before anyone had a chance to respond, Nick swung open the door. However, much to his chagrin, he wasn’t fast enough. Nestled among delicate green foil were two crystal tree ornaments. They were filled with a fragrant, spicy potpourri. We immediately placed them in a prominent location on our Christmas tree.

This was fun! My father’s eyes sparkled with life, and my mother’s face was lit with a happy smile.

How wonderful! Someone was playing the “Twelve Days of Christmas” on us. But who? Who could be doing such a wonderful thing?

The fourth night arrived, accompanied by a storm. Wind and snow lapped against our windows with a fury, and we were certain we would not receive a visit from our Christmas "ghost" on such a dreary and cold night. We were wrong!

Right on schedule, the front door rattled with a knock, and this time, two tiny, wooden angels with starched lace wings were left behind for us to behold.

The children ran to the end of the porch. Nothing could be seen, not even a footprint in the snow. Such a mystery!

On the fifth, sixth, and seventh nights, we received tall, honey wax candles, a nut bread bursting with cherries and almonds, and a tiny nutcracker carved from clothespins and held together with pipe cleaners.

Now it was time to get down to serious business. Our curiosity was piqued. We simply had to know our mystery benefactor.

“No,” said my father. “Whoever it is does not want to be seen, and it is our responsibility to keep it that way. This is part of the gift. This angel is also receiving a gift, the pure and obvious joy of giving, secure in the knowledge that he or she is bringing joy to this family at a very difficult time.”

He, of course, was right.

On the eighth night, we waited. No one came. Disappointed and tired, we went to bed. We had come to look forward to our nocturnal visits and now wondered why they had stopped.

Morning dawned brightly, and when my husband stepped outside to retrieve his paper, lo and behold! On our threshold were two gifts: a red poinsettia, and a lovely Christmas cactus that was preparing to bloom. Our friend had truly caught us off guard this time. Indeed, our eighth and ninth day gifts had been quietly left outside our door sometime during the night.

On the tenth night, we received an apple pie, steaming hot and carefully wrapped in red and green napkins.

On the eleventh day, brown and white handmade coasters made of cardboard and lined with satin ribbon were left. So lovely!

Christmas Eve was upon us, and it had happened so quickly that we forgot our sad spirit. Our sweet angel had taken our minds from our loss and had treated us to a very different kind of Christmas. It was one that we had never anticipated.

Each night, the children had run outside in a vain effort to catch a glimpse of our benevolent friends, and yet, on the twelfth night, we still had no idea who had so diligently and kindly bestowed us with its sweet blessings.

On the twelfth day - Christmas Day - we sat in the living room. All of our gifts had been exchanged, and we had enjoyed a quiet family dinner. It had been a good Christmas, after all, loving and joyous.

Then, the front doorbell rang. Right on cue, our secret Santa disappeared into the night, leaving behind a small white envelope. Upon opening it, we found that our twelfth Christmas gift was a message, neatly written in a child’s hand. It read:

I am the spirit of Christmas
Which is PEACE
I am the spirit of gladness
Which is HOPE
I am the heart of Christmas
Which is LOVE
Have a Merry Christmas!

We were changed from that night on. We began to heal. Going on with our lives seemed a bit easier. We never knew who left all of those wonderful gifts. We did, however, divine the “Spirit of Christmas” and how important it is to take the time for friends. We learned how essential it is to bring a bit of sunshine into a dark place, not simply at Christmas, but all year through.

Reprinted by permission of Janet K. Brennan (c) 2001 from A Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What Christmas Carol Are You?

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What Christmas Ornament Are You?

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You Are an Angel



A truly giving soul, you understand the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas with a Captial C

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Monday, June 8, 2009

ABCs of Christmas

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A is for the Animals who shared the stable
B is for the Babe with their manger for cradle.
C is for the Carols so blithe and gay.
D is for December, the twenty-fifth day.
E is for the Eve when we're all so excited.
F is for the Fun when the tree's at last lighted.
G is for Goose which you all know is fat.
H is the Holly you stick in your hat.
I is for the Ivy that clings to the wall.
J is for Jesus, the cause of it all.
K is for the Kindness begot by this feast.
L is for the Light shining way in the East.
M is for the Mistletoe, all green and white.
N is for the Noels we sing Christmas night.
O is for the Oxen, the first to adore Him.
P is for the Presents the Wise Men laid before Him.
Q is for the Quiet of the holy Eve as God's greatest blessing we all did receive.
R is for the Reindeer leaping over the roofs.
S is for the Stockings that Santa Claus stuffs.
T is for the Toys, the Tinsel, the Tree.
U is for Us - the whole family.
V is for Visitors bringing us cheer.
W is Welcome to the happy New Year.
X, Y, Z bother me.
So now to you all, wherever you be, a merry merry Christmas, and many may you see!