One thing to add about Christmas…

I know I talk a lot about Christmas and how much I love it…and I do. But the past couple years, despite grasping at enthusiasm and expressions to the contrary, I’ve been a bit underwhelmed. I suppose we all have. One thing I have noted though, and I take comfort in this, is the fact that as Christmas passes into the New Year a kind of peace settles into me, a belated spiritual cognizance, a harkening back to the way I felt in childhood. It is not a scream-in-your-face feeling, not one that would make me dance around the house and sing, but one that makes me feel rooted and warm and hopeful. I’ll take it. This is Christmas to me and if it’s not falling on the actual day itself, well, who am I to question how that ol’ Christmas magic works?

The point is that it does, despite one’s best attempts to lure it in. Like a faithful old dog, the Christmas Spirit comes because you need it, not because you’ve called.  

New Year’s Revolutions

Yes, that’s not a typo, nor is it a call-to-arms. It’s merely a comment on how many times we make New Year’s resolutions with high expectations, abandon them, feel we’ve failed somehow if we don’t meet them, resolve to make new ones when the next year comes around, and round and round and round between plans and, well, plans gone awry. I, for one, have not made any New Year’s resolutions for many a new year. I recognized the circling inevitability for me many moons ago. I’m not saying resolutions aren’t a good thing, because they are, and the beginning of a new year provides a wonderful starting point—what could be so bad about that? Nothing, really. Not for many anyway, because I do know there are people out there who successfully make and keep their New Year’s resolutions, but not me. So, why I am writing this particular blog? Because I’ve made a resolution which, by coincidence, happens to fall on the holiday that brings so many of us to determined expectations and long, slow tumbles away from them. 

Maybe it’s my age; maybe it’s the appalling circumstances I, we, the population of the entire world, has had to face these past two years (and it hasn’t stopped yet, folks); and maybe it’s because somewhere inside I’ve reverted to my young self, to a time where I believed in New Year’s resolutions and their power to change us.

Or, at the very least, to change me.

Not change, as in make me a different person. I’m quite happy with who I am. I’m talking about subtle changes, the ones that make us progress, move to something that better suits us, start a project, a hobby, a diet, a new direction. A new, ahem, blog—or the focus of said blog, at any rate.

I’ve been a writer my whole life. I started writing in earnest when I was seven years old and I’m not stopping now. Since my accident nearly three years ago (a tale that shall not be told here), I’ve had many issues with writing, issues which are slowly resolving. In fact, as an aside, I lost my ability to play the piano, but even that is coming back—I sat down and played a number of Christmas carols recently, with only a little struggle. So my happens-to-fall-at-the-New-Year resolution is to celebrate this integral part of me—the author. Right now, I have a royalty check staring at me from the refrigerator door (to be deposited once I get off my lazy behind) reminding me this is what I am: a writer; a published author; a wordsmith.

Therefore, starting with the New Year, I will be revamping my blog to focus on writing. These blogs will cover the writing craft, the stories behind it, the successes and failures, the successes of others, some reviews and more interviews, with regular rather than sporadic content (that is the BIG change for me). I’ll still continue with my Life as it Comes forays and will also increase the posts regarding handcrafted endeavors (one of my other joys, beyond and at a tangent from writing). There will always be my Christmas blogging, naturally. I can’t abandon Christmas. After all, it hasn’t abandoned me.

Here’s hoping this isn’t a revolving commitment but one that sticks. I guess we’ll find out. Check back and see.

Happy New Year everyone. May you be blessed with health, contentment, peace and joy.

Happy Christmas to All

Charlie Brown: Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?


Linus Van Pelt: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. [moves toward the center of the stage] Lights, please.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'”

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Winter Solstice

It’s cloudy here, a bit of snow predicted. I have been looking forward to seeing the “Christmas Star” and the meteor showers, but I’m going to have to content myself with photographs (like that’s going to make up for something that won’t happen for another how-many centuries). Still, the Winter Solstice is a meaningful time in many cultures and for many reasons. I, for one, recognize the whole “halfway out of the dark” thing, which is one of my favorite lines from the Dr. Who Christmas episode, A Christmas Carol. The changing seasons are precious reminders of the cycles of our earth and time itself. Whatever your sentiments about the Winter Solstice, I hope you’re meeting them head-on and with enjoyment.

My 10 Favorite Christmas Quotes

These are my ten favorite quotes relative to Christmas, whether from movies or television shows, books or, yes, the internet. Again, as with the movie list, they are listed as they pop into my head and not by any preference. I thought I might try to make this a little fun and see if any of you recognize where the quotes come from (some, of course, are obvious). Let me know in the comment section!

  1. “Christmas…halfway out of the dark.”
  2. “For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
  3. “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
  4. “To kindness and love, the things we need most!”
  5. “Look daddy, teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”
  6. “[Christmas] is the season for kindling, not merely the fire of hospitality in the hall, but the genial flame of charity in the heart…”
  7. “We are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.”
  8. “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?”
  9. “Christmas will always be as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand.”
  10. “…with razzleberry dressing!”

And yes, more than ten, but I seem to make a habit of that: “Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeers, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas.”

Ten Things to Do to Get into the Festive Spirit

It’s been one heck of a year. Christmas is going to be tough—which, really, should make this time even more precious than usual. I’ve listed a few suggestions for getting into the Christmas spirit. Hopefully they will help, and if you have any others please feel free to drop them into the comments!

  1. First of all, give of yourself. Knowing you’ve helped someone can enhance the season in ways nothing else can. If you’re able, purchase non-perishable foods from the grocery store and drop them off at the local food bank for those less fortunate. Giving always bring a lift to the heart.
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

2. Plan a virtual get-together. If you have a computer, set up a Zoom meeting or something similar. Send out invitations, same as you would to a physical get-together and have everyone plan on getting dressed up exactly as if you were really going to someone’s house for the holidays.  

Photo by Ono Kosuki on Pexels.com

3. In line with the above, how about a virtual Secret Santa? Have everyone pick from the list of invitees to the above get-together and each person can mail a $5 gift (or a handmade one—that could always be a theme—handmade) to the person they’ve picked, to be opened at the “party”.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

4. Right now, begin watching as many holiday movies as you can manage—whether you’re into Hallmark Christmas romance movies, old classics, kids’ flicks, comedies or some of the newer favorites (you can check out my blog – 10 Holiday Movies I’d Watch Any Time of the Year – Revisited for some suggestions new and old). Or read something Christmas-y, for yourself or to others.

Photo by Nadi Lindsay on Pexels.com

5. Start playing those Christmas tunes early! Radio stations often begin playing Christmas music right after (or before) Thanksgiving. Sing along and encourage those in your house to do the same.

Photo by Victoria Borodinova on Pexels.com

6. If you have young ones (or even not-so-young-ones) around the house, craft early and copiously. Check for blogs—there are many giving instructions on items to be made with objects around the house! Bright paper chains from construction paper are quick and easy and can be draped everywhere, lol.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

7. Put strings of Christmas lights up around your door now. Even without the usual flux of visitors, you can still make the house festive for your family and the bright lights around your entryway always help greet the season.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

8. Create some Christmas cards for those closest to you. Have your kids help.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

9. Plan a cookie exchange. Email family and/or neighbors and have each person create their favorite cookie recipe. Small batches can be dropped off (still exercising social distancing) or mailed to people on the list and everyone will end up with a delicious variety of cookies for Christmas.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

10. Plan a social-distanced caroling event. At the time arranged you can either all meet on-line and sing your hearts out or, if a neighborhood-type event, meet outside and sing while maintaining safe distance (your voices can be heard through a mask). Practices can be held virtually, which will help in creating a feeling of camaraderie.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Okay, that’s it for now. Something else may pop into my head and I’ll blog an addendum.

In the meantime, keep the faith, as they say, and remember that we’re all in this together.

10 Favorite Holiday Movies I’d Watch Any Time of the Year – Revisited

I know I posted this list last year (or was it the beginning of this year? I do believe I might have come in a little late with it), but I am re-posting and adding another. So that makes it eleven. Yes, eleven in a list of ten. What the hey, there aren’t really any strict rules in listing your favorite things, are there? I’ve already begun watching some of them, which might mean I’m a sap, but I’m really finding myself in need of cheer. As I said before, I would highly recommend all of them. If you have additions, let me know. These are not listed in any particular order except as they came into my head, so #1 is not lording it over the other ten.

Curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and start watching!

  1. The Grinch – the new one, with Benedict Cumberbatch as the Green Man himself. Or the Green Who? I’ve always been confused about the Grinch’s origins. Anyway, this is a wonderful version that has far outstripped my love of the original.
  2. The Holiday (Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Rufus Sewell) – If you watch this on a dvd and are feeling a little down, be sure to play the scene in the tent made from sheets over and over again to snap you out of it.
  3. A Christmas Carol (Dr. Who Christmas special, with Matt Smith as The Doctor) – unique take and strangely uplifting.
  4. The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe (another Dr. Who Christmas special with Matt Smith–are we detecting a pattern, here?) – splendid story and the last scene brings on the humany wumany happy tears.
  5. A Charlie Brown Christmas – even after all these years, I still cry a bit when Linus describes what Christmas means and again later, as the children sing at the very end of the cartoon. I think it’s all of 24 minutes long, so that crams quite a lot of emotional boo-hooing into a short period (happy tears, though).
  6. The Man Who Invented Christmas (Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce) – If you’re a fan of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, you’ll enjoy the film depicting the events leading up to his creation of this wonderful tale.
  7. The Santa Clause – the first one only. Not so much a fan of the second and third, although the scene in the gymnasium in the second movie always gets me.
  8. A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott (need I say more?)
  9. A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart (again, need I say more?)
  10. Angela’s Christmas – touching, cute, heartwarming.
  11. And, well, any of the Harry Potter movies. Not Christmas movies, per se, but I do love the scenes of holiday magic. Honestly, I enjoy the entirety of each movie, but we’re sticking with Christmas for now.

If you have other favorites you’d like to add to this list, please feel free to post a comment! If I haven’t already seen them, I’ll happily keep them in mind for this year.

best christmas towns in USA — post re-blogged from Delusional Bubble

Now if only I could travel to all these places, I’d be in one glorious state of mind. I have shared this blog from “Delusional Bubble” who graciously provided this joyful list of best Christmas towns. Enjoy! I did.

Believe it or not, Christmas is closer to us than it appears! The second best thing to do after spending the holidays at home is to travel to a place where you can feel the spirit of Christmas and make memories that would last you for the years to come. In this post, we’ll talk […]

best christmas towns in USA — Delusional Bubble

How to Make a Keepsake Ornament

If you’re like me, you hold onto Christmas cards from prior years, either because they have meaning to you, or because they are too cute or beautiful to toss into the recycling. Or both. Below is an excerpt from my craft book, 12 Days of Christmas Projects, showing you how to recycle those Christmas cards into keepsake ornaments.

In this example, I used a card that had a cutout along the top edge, so added glitter to the background behind the bears’ heads.

Supplies

  • old Christmas cards   
  • white cardstock
  • glue stick
  • safety scissors
  • pencil
  • ribbon or yarn
  • glitter
  • hole punch
  • something round to trace around (about 3” to 3.5” across, such as a large glass or coffee mug),  or a large circle punch (usually cuts a circle about 3.5” across)
  • gold or silver glitter pen
  • Mod Podge or similar water-based sealer/decoupage glue (optional)

Instructions

  1. Gather all your supplies. Cover the area where you are planning to work.  
  2. Look through your Christmas cards for the ones you would like to use. Place the glass upside down on the card(s) and position it until you find the area you think would look best on your ornament. Trace around the glass with a pencil. Repeat this on each card for as many ornaments as you plan to make.

Note:   If you would like to make a keepsake ornament for a particular card, also place the glass over the area containing the signature and/or sentiment written by the sender and cut that out as well. This will be used on the back of the ornament.

3. Cut out the circles you have traced. If you have a circle lever punch, use that instead. The card illustrations or photos will be the front of your ornament. The signature or sentiment, if you choose to use one, will be the back.

4. Next, trace the same size circles onto the white cardstock, twelve circles for each ornament you plan to make. Cut or punch them out. These will make up the interior layers of your ornament(s).

5. Take the circle made from the Christmas card, locate the top of the illustration and then take your small punch and punch a hole about a ½” from the edge. Line up your ten layer circles one at a time beneath the top circle and line up the punch in the existing hole, punching a hole in the layer beneath. Repeat with all layers. This is done to ensure the holes are all in the same place. Make sure you do the same to any signature/sentiment circle, if you are using one.

6. With your glue stick, place an even coat of glue on a circle, making certain not to miss the edges. Line up the next blank layer and press firmly into place. Repeat until you have all layers glued together. Place an even coat of glue on the last layer and line up your card/ornament front and press firmly into place. If you are making a keepsake ornament, place an even coat of glue on the back side of your ornament and line up the signature sentiment facing out and press firmly into place.

7. Once your ornaments have dried, sprinkle glitter onto a paper plate, a piece of foil, or the baking parchment. Run the glue stick around the outer edge of your ornament and roll the ornaments edgewise through the glitter. Lay the ornament(s) aside in a clean space to dry once again.

8. On the blank backs of the ornament(s), write a fun holiday sentiment or personalize with the name of someone you plan to give the ornament to as a gift for their own tree.

9. Cut your yarn or ribbon into lengths about twelve 15” long.  Cut as many lengths as you need so you have one for each ornament you’ve made. Slip the ribbon or yarn through the hole at the top of each ornament and tie a knot about 3” above the ornament, then tie the remaining length into a bow.

10. Your ornaments are ready to hang!

12 Days of Christmas Projects (How to Make Twelve Simple & Delightful Holiday Projects to Inspire, Enjoy & Give) is available at the following on-line retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, (as well as others) and can be ordered from your local bookstore.