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Thursday, December 24, 2009

from our family to yours....

(click to enlarge)
image by michelle photography

on the 12th day of christmas... 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the Night Before Christmas
by Sister St. Thomas, B. N. D. de N

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the town,
St. Joseph was searching, walking up roads and down;
Our Lady was waiting, so meek and so mild,
While Joseph was seeking a place for the Child.

The children were nestled, each snug in their beds,
The grown-ups wouldn't bother, there's no room they said;
When even the innkeeper sent them away,
Joseph was wondering, where they would stay.

He thought of the caves in the side of the hills,
Lets go there said Mary, it's silent and still;
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Made pathways of light for their tired feet to go.

And there in a cave, in a cradle of hay,
Our Savior was born on that first Christmas Day!
The Father was watching in heaven above,
He sent for His angels, His couriers of love.

More rapid than eagles God's bright angels came;
Rejoicing and eager as each heard his name;
Come Power, Come Cherubs, Come Virtues, Come Raphael,
Come Thrones and Dominions, come Michael and Gabriel.

Now fly to the Earth, where My poor people live,
Announce the glad tiding My Son comes to give;
The Shepherds were watching their flocks on this night,
And saw in the heavens and unearthly light.

The Angels assured them, they'd nothing to fear,
It's Christmas they said, the Savior is here!
They hastened to find Him, and stood at the door,
Till Mary invited them in to adore.

He was swaddled in bands from His head to His feet,
Never did the Shepherds see a baby so sweet!
He spoke not a word, but the shepherds all knew,
He was telling them secrets and blessing them too.

Then softly they left Him, The Babe in the hay,
And rejoiced with great joy on that first Christmas Day;
Mary heard them exclaim as they walked up the hill,
Glory to God in the Highest, Peace to men of good will!

image via Reflections of Christ: Fine Art Photography of Mark Mabry

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

here comes santa claus

every year, their reaction to santa is just a wee bit different. some years they are absolutely thrilled to sit on his lap & never want to leave. other years, they won't go near him (as evidenced in 2006 & 2008. two years old seems to be the magic age, when they were both deathly afraid of the man in the big red suit.) but it's always fun to see how they've grown & changed over the years. pictures with santa is definitely a tradition that will continue for years to come.

image courtesy of ana brandt

on the 11th day of christmas... Who'll Take the Son?

Who’ll Take the Son?

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great
works of art.

When the Viet Nam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.

He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the
heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.

The young man held out his package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.

“Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel.

“We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?” There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted. “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.” But the auctioneer persisted. “Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?” Another voice shouted angrily. “We didn’t come to see this painting.. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!” But still the auctioneer continued. “The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?”

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.” Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. “We
have $10, who will bid $20?” “Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.” “$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?”

The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once,
twice, SOLD for $10!” A man sitting on the second row shouted. “Now let’s get on with the collection!”

The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry, the auction is over.” “What about the paintings?” “I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets every

God gave his son 2,000 years ago to die on a cruel cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, “The son, the son, who’ll take the son?” Because you see, whoever takes the Son
gets everything.

–author unknown

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

plastic spoon reindeer

who knew plastic spoons could provide soooo much entertainment value?
check out the easy-breezy tutorial HERE.

on the 10th day of christmas... The White Envelope Project

For the Man Who Hated Christmas
by Nancy W. Gavin

It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas--oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it--overspending... the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma---the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears.

It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids - all kids - and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition--one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there.

You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.

Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down the envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.

find out more about the "white envelope" project HERE.

Monday, December 21, 2009

'twas days before christmas

'twas days before christmas, when all through the house
all the creatures were stirring, even the mouse;
wet undies were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that they would dry, much faster there.
the family was gathered around the john,
hooting & hollering, cheering little owen on.
& i in my 'kerchief, and pa in his cap,
had just awoken owen, dry from his nap.
when out in the bathroom there arose such a clatter,
i sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.
away to the "can" i flew like a flash,
tore open the door, after my mad dash
there was pee, i could see, in the toilet bowl.
meaning owen had aimed at the cheerios.
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
completely dry undies, & him smiling ear-to-ear.

on the 9th day of christmas... The Legend of the Poinsettia

The Legend of the Poinsettia
By Stephanie Herbek

Maria and Pablo lived in a tiny village in Mexico. Because Christmastime at their house did not include many gifts, Maria and Pablo looked forward to the Christmas festivities at the village church with great joy and anticipation.

To honor the birth of Christ, the church displayed a beautiful manger that drew crowds of admirers. Villagers walked miles to admire the manger, bringing lovely, expensive gifts for the Baby Jesus. As Maria and Pablo watched the villagers place their gifts in the soft hay around the manger, they felt sad. They had no money to buy gifts for their family and no money to buy a gift for the Baby Jesus.

One Christmas Eve, Maria and Pablo walked to the church for that evening's services, wishing desperately that they had a gift to bring. Just then, a soft glowing light shone through the darkness, and the shadowy outline of an angel appeared above them.

Maria and Pablo were afraid, but the angel comforted them, instructing them to pick some of the short green weeds that were growing by the road. They should bring the plants to the church, the angel explained, and place them near the manger as their gift to the Baby Jesus. Then just as quickly as she had appeared, the angel was gone, leaving Maria and Pablo on the road looking up into the dark sky. Confused but excited, the children filled their arms with large bunches of the green weeds and hurried to the church.

When the children entered the church, many of the villagers turned to stare. As Maria and Pablo began placing the weeds around the manger, some of the villagers laughed at them. "Why are those children putting weeds by the manger?" they asked each other. Maria and Pablo began to feel embarrassed and ashamed of their gift to the Baby Jesus, but they stood bravely near the manger, placing the plants on the soft hay, as the angel had instructed.

Suddenly, the dull green leaves on the tops of the plants began to turn a beautiful shade of red, surrounding the Baby with beautiful blooms. The laughing villagers became silent as they watched the green plants transform into the lovely star-shaped crimson flowers we call poinsettias. As they watched the weeds bloom before their eyes, Maria and Pablo knew they had no reason to be ashamed anymore. They had given the Baby Jesus the only gift they could--and it was the most beautiful gift of all.

Today, poinsettias are a traditional symbol of Christmas, thanks to young Maria and Pablo and their special gifts to the Baby Jesus.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

on the 8th day of christmas... The True Meaning of Christmas

The True Meaning of Christmas
author Unknown

Just a week before Christmas I had a visitor. This is how it happened...

I had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed, when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out. "What are you doing?" I started to ask. The words choked up in my throat, and I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager, boisterous character we all know. He then answered me with a simple statement. "TEACH THE CHILDREN!" I was puzzled; what did he mean? He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement pulled a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood puzzled, Santa said, "Teach the children! Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that now-a-days Christmas has forgotten.” Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it in front of the fireplace. "Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, representing the everlasting hope of mankind, all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven.” He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. "Teach the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise.” He then reached into his bag and pulled out a strand of CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. "Teach the children that the lights symbolize that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of Jesus who fills our lives with light.” Once again he reached into his bag and removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree. "Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love never ceases, like god's love which has no beginning or end.” He then pulled from his bag an ornament of HIMSELF. "Teach the children that I, Santa clause symbolize the generosity and kindness we feel during the month of December.” He then brought out a cluster of HOLLY BERRIES. "Teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our savior. The red holly represents the blood shed by Him.” Next he pulled from his bag a GIFT and said, "teach the children that god so loved the world that he gave us his only son... thanks be to god for his unspeakable gift. Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the holy babe and presented him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men.” Santa then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the tree. "Teach the children that the sugar cane represents the shepherd's crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring back lost sheep to the flock.” He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL. "Teach the children that it was the angels that announced the glorious news of the savior's birth. The angels sang 'glory to god in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men.” Suddenly, I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL. "Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring to guide us to god. The bell symbolizes guidance and return. It reminds us that we are all precious in the eyes of god.” Santa looked back and was pleased. I saw the twinkle in his eyes as he said: "remember, teach the children the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am but an humble servant of the one that is, and I bow down to worship him, our Lord, our God."

image via HERE.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

on the 7th day of christmas... Could I Hold the Baby

Could I Hold the Baby

song by Rachel Mecham Goates

It's Christmas Eve, I'm tucked in bed,
I'm snug & warm, my prayers are said.
I start to think about the first Christmas night.
The manger warm, the baby fair,
the star that led the shepherds there.
& What I'd say to Mary as she smiled,
at the little Christ child.

Could I hold the baby?
Will He smile at me?
Does he know why he is born,
and what His life will be?
Could I hold the baby,
and tell Him of my love?
How glad I am that Jesus Christ,
was sent from heaven above.

Now every day the whole year through.
I'll think of all that I can do,
to be like him and live as He showed me how.
And I'll remember that Christmas toys,
are not as dear as girls and boys,
that Jesus loves each one of us endlessly.
He loves you and me.

Could I hold the baby?
Will He smile at me?
Does he know why he is born
and what His life will be?
Could I hold the baby
and tell Him of my love?
How glad I am that Jesus Christ
was sent from heaven above.

listen to the song HERE. download the sheet music HERE.
image by ted hinnegar

Friday, December 18, 2009

on the 6th day of christmas... Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect

Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect
by Richard Schneider

They say that if you creep into an evergreen forest late at night you can hear the trees talking. If you listen very carefully to the whisper of the wind, you can hear the older pines telling the younger ones why they will never be perfect. They will always have a bent branch here, a gap there...

But long, long ago all evergreen trees were perfect. Each one took special pride in branches that sloped smoothly down from pointed top to evenly shaped skirt.

This was especially true in a small kingdom far beyond the Carpathian Mountains in Europe. Here the evergreen trees were the most beautiful of all. For here the sun shone just right, not too hot, not too dim. Here the rain fell just enough to keep the ground moist and soft so no tree went thirsty. And here the snow fell gently day after day to keep every branch fresh and green.

Each year as Christmas approached, the Queen's woodsmen would search the royal evergreen forest for the most perfect, most beautiful tree. The one fortunate enough to be chosen would be cut on the first Saturday of Advent. It would then be carefully carried to the castle and set up in the center of the great hall. There it reigned in honor for all the Christmas celebrations.

Out in the hushed forest every evergreen hoped for this honor. Each tree tried to grow its branches and needles to perfection. All of them strained to have the best form and appearance.

One tree, Small Pine, grew near the edge of the forest and promised to be the most beautiful of all. As a seedling it had listened carefully to the older trees who knew what was best for young saplings. And it had tried so very hard to grow just right. As a result, everything about Small Pine, from its deep sea-green color to the curling tip of its evenly spaced branches, was perfect.

It had, in fact, already overheard jealous whispers from the other trees. But it paid them no mind. Small Pine knew that if one did one's very best, what anyone else said didn't matter.

One cold night, when a bright full moon glittered on the crusty snow, a little gray rabbit came hoping as fast as he could into the grove of evergreens. The rabbit's furry sides heaved in panic. From beyond the hill came the howling of wild dogs in the thrill of the hunt. The bunny, his eyes wide with fright, frantically searched for cover. But the dark, cold trees lifted their branches artfully from the snow and frowned. They did not like this interruption of their quiet evening when growing was at its best.

Faster and faster the rabbit circled as the excited howling of the dogs sounded louder and louder.

And then Small Pine's heart shuddered. When the terrified rabbit ran near, Small Pine dipped its lower branches down, down, down to the snow. And in that instant before the wild dogs broke into the grove, the rabbit slipped under Small Pine's evergreen screen. He huddled safely among the comforting branches while the dogs galloped by and disappeared into the forest.

In the morning the rabbit went home to his burrow, and Small Pine tried to lift its lower branches back up to their proper height. It strained and struggled, but the branches had been pressed down too long through the night. Oh well, Small Pine thought, no matter. Perhaps the woodsmen wouldn't notice a few uneven branches near the ground in a tree so beautiful.

Several days later a terrible blizzard lashed the land. No one remembered ever having so much wind and snow. Villagers slammed their shutters tight while birds and animals huddled in their nests and dens.

A brown mother wren had become lost in the storm. With feathers so wet she could barely fly, she went from one large evergreen to another looking for a shelter. But each tree she approached feared the wren would ruin its perfect shape and clenched its branches tight, like a fist.

Finally, the exhausted wren fluttered toward Small Pine. Once more Small Pine's heart opened and so did its branches. The mother wren nestled on a branch near the top, secure at last. But when the storm ended and the bird had flown away, Small Pine could not move its top branches back into their perfect shape.

In them would be a gap evermore.

Days passed and winter deepened. The packed snow had frozen so hard that the deer in the forest could not reach the tender ground moss, which they ate to survive. Only the older, stronger deer could dig through the icy snow with their hooves.

One little fawn had wandered away from his mother. Now he was starving. He inched into the pine grove and noticed the soft, tender evergreen tips. He tried to nibble on the, but every tree quickly withdrew its needles so the tiny deer teeth couldn't chew them.

Thin and weak, he staggered against Small Pine. Pity filled the tree's heart and it stretched out its soft needles for the starving fawn to eat. But alas, when the deer was strong enough to scamper away, Small Pine's branches looked very ragged.

Small Pine wilted in sorrow. It could hear what the larger, still perfect trees were saying about how bad it looked. A tear of pine gum oozed from the tip of a branch. Small Pine knew it could never hope for the honor of being the Queen's Christmas tree.

Lost in despair, Small Pine did not see the good Queen come with the woodsmen into the forest. It was the first Saturday of Advent, and she had come to choose the finest tree herself because this was a special celebration year in the history of her kingdom.

As the royal sleigh, drawn by two white horses, slowly passed through the forest, her careful eye scanned the evergreens. Each one was hoping to be the royal choice.

When the Queen saw Small Pine, a flush of anger filled her. How could such an ugly tree with so many drooping branches and gaps be allowed in the royal forest? She decided to have a woodsman cut it to throw away and nodded for the sleigh to drive on.

But then...she raised her hand for the sleigh to stop and glanced back at the forlorn little pine.

She noticed the tracks of small animals under its uneven needles. She saw a wren's feather caught in its branches. and, as she studied the gaping hole in its side and its ragged shape, understanding filled her heart.

"This is the one," she said, and pointed to Small Pine. The woodsmen gasped, but they did as the queen directed.

To the astonishment of all the evergreens in the forest, Small Pine was carried away to the great hall in the castle. There it was decorated with shimmering, silver stars and golden angels, which sparkled and flashed in the light of thousands of glowing candles.

On Christmas Day a huge Yule log blazed in the fireplace at the end of the great hall. While orange flames chuckled and crackled, the Queen's family and all the villagers danced and sang together around Small Pine. And everyone who danced and sang around it said that Small Pine was the finest Christmas tree yet. For in looking at its drooping, nibbled branches, they saw the protecting arm of their father or the comforting lap of a mother. and some, like the wise Queen, say the love of Christ expressed on earth.

So if you walk among evergreens today, you will find, along with rabbits, birds, and other happy living things, many trees like Small Pine. You will see a drooping limb, which gives cover, a gap offering a warm resting place, or branches ragged form feeding hungry animals.

For, as have many of us, the trees have learned that living for the sake of others makes us most beautiful in the eyes of God.

Buy the book HERE.

image via HERE.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

on the 5th day of christmas... The Christmas Orange

The Christmas Orange

Sometimes it is easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas. The busy traditions of the season and the appealing advertisements for material goods can leave the pure and simple truths far, far behind.

Jake was nine years old with tousled brown hair with blue eyes as bright as a heavenly angel. For as long as Jake could remember he had lived within the walls of a poor orphanage. He was just one of ten children supported by what meager contributions the orphan home could obtain in a continuous struggle seeking donations from townsfolk.

There was very little to eat, but at Christmas time there always seemed to be a little more than usual to eat, the orphanage seemed a little warmer, and it was time for a little holiday enjoyment. But more than this, there was the Christmas orange!

Christmas was the only time of year that such a rare treat was provided and it was treasured by each child like no other food admiring it, feeling it, prizing it and slowly enjoying each juicy section. Truly, it was the light of each orphan's Christmas and their best gift of the season. How joyful would be the moment when Jake received his orange!

Unknown to him, Jake had somehow managed to track a small amount of mud on his shoes through the front door of the orphanage, muddying the new carpet. He hadn't even noticed. Now it was too late and there was nothing he could do to avoid punishment. The punishment was swift and unrelenting. Jake would not be allowed his Christmas orange! It was the only gift he would receive from the harsh world he lived in, yet after a year of waiting for his Christmas orange, is was to be denied him.

Tearfully, Jake pleaded that he be forgiven and promised never to track mud into the orphanage again, but to no avail. He felt hopeless and totally rejected. Jake cried into his pillow all that night and spent Christmas Day feeling empty and alone. He felt that the other children didn't want to be with a boy who had been punished with such a cruel punishment. Perhaps they feared he would ruin their only day of happiness. Maybe, he reasoned, the gulf between him and his friends existed because they feared he would ask for a little of their oranges. Jake spent the day upstairs, alone, in the unheated dormitory. Huddled under his only blanket, he read about a family marooned on an island. Jake wouldn't mind spending the rest of his life on an isolated island, if he could only have a real family that cared about him.

Bedtime came, and worst of all, Jake couldn't sleep. How could he say his prayers? How could there be a God in Heaven that would allow a little soul such as his, to suffer so much all by himself? Silently, he sobbed for the future of mankind that God might end the suffering in the world, both for himself and all others like him.

As he climbed back into bed from the cold, hard floor, a soft hand touched Jake's shoulder, startling him momentarily and an object was silently placed in his hands. The giver disappeared into the darkness, leaving Jake with what, he did not immediately know!

Looking closely at it in the dim light, he saw that it looked like an orange! Not a regular orange, smooth and shiny, but a special orange, very special. Inside a patched together peal were the segments of nine other oranges, making one whole orange for Jake! The nine other children in the orphanage had each donated one segment of their own precious oranges to make a whole orange as a gift for Jake.

Sharing what we truly value is the true spirit of Christmas. Our Heavenly Father gave us His beloved Son. May we, like the children in the orphanage, find ways to share His love with others less blessed.

Rewritten from an anonymous source by Laura Martin-Buhler

image via HERE.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

on the 4th day of christmas... Santa's Prayer

Santa's Prayer

The sleigh was all packed, the reindeer were fed,
But Santa still knelt by the side of the bed.

"Dear Father," he prayed "be with me tonight.
There's much work to do and my schedule is tight.

I must jump in my sleigh and streak through the sky,
knowing full well that a reindeer can't fly.

I will visit each household before the first light,
I'll cover the world and all in one night.

With sleigh bells a-ringing, I'll land on each roof,
amid the soft clatter of each little hoof.

To get in the house is the difficult part,
so I'll slide down the chimney of each child's heart.

My sack will hold toys to grant all their wishes.
the supply will be endless like the loaves and the fishes.

I will fill all the stockings and not leave a track.
I'll eat every cookie that is left for my snack.

I can do all these things Lord, only through you,
I just need your blessing, then it's easy to do.

All this is to honor the birth of the One,
that was sent to redeem us, your most holy son.

So to all of my friends, least your glory I rob,
please Lord, remind them who gave me this job."

by warren d. jennings

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

on the 3rd day of christmas... christmas nails

Christmas Nails

It's Christmas time at our house
and we're putting up the tree.
I wish I could find some simple way
to remember Christ's gift to me.
Some little sign or symbol
to show friends stopping by,
the little babe was born one day
but he really came to die.
Some symbol of his nail-pierced hands,
the blood he shed for you and me.
What if I hung a simple nail
on my shining Christmas tree?
A crimson bow tied round the nail
as his blood flowed down so free,
so save each person from their sin
and redeem us for eternity.
I know it was his love for us
that held him to the tree,
but when I see this simple nail
I know he died for me.

- Author Unknown

Monday, December 14, 2009

on the 2nd day of christmas... m&m christmas poem

image via HERE.

M&M Christmas Poem

As you hold these candies
in your hand,
and turn them,
you will see.
The M becomes a W,
an E, and then a 3.
They tell the Christmas story,
it's one I'm sure you know.
It took place in a stable.
a long, long, time ago.
The E is for the East,
where the star shone so bright.
The M is for the manger,
where baby Jesus slept that night.
The 3 is for the wise men,
bearing gifts, they say they came.
W is for worship, hallelujah, praise his name.
So as you eat these candies,
or share them with a friend.
Remember the meaning of Christmas,
it's a love story that never ends.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

on the 1st day of christmas... the tale of 3 trees

image via HERE.

The Tale of Three Trees
a traditional folk tale, retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up.

The first little tree looked up at the stars twinkling like diamonds above him. "I want to hold treasure," he said. "I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!"

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. "I want to be a strong sailing ship," he said. "I want to travel mighty waters and carry powerful kings. I will be the strongest ship in the world!"

The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and busy women worked in a busy town. "I don't want to leave this mountain top at all," she said. "I want to grow so tall that when people stop to took at me they will raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world!"

Years passed. The rains came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall.

One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain.

The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the first tree fell.

"Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest," thought the first tree. "I shall hold wonderful treasure."

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the second tree fell.

"Now I shall sail mighty waters," thought the second tree. "I shall be a strong ship fit for kings!"

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven.

But the woodcutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me," he muttered. With a swoop of his shining ax, the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought him to a carpenter's shop, but the busy carpenter was not thinking about treasure chests. Instead his work-worn hands fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals.

The once-beautiful tree was not covered with gold or filled with treasure. He was coated with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took him to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ships were being made that day. Instead the once-strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat.

Too small and too weak to sail an ocean or even a river, he was taken to a little lake. Every day he brought in loads of dead, smelly fish.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard.

"What happened?" the once-tall tree wondered. "All I ever wanted to do was stay on the mountain top and point to God."

Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams.

But one night golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box.

"I wish I could make a cradle for him," her husband whispered.

The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. "This manger is beautiful," she said.

And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening, many years later, a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake.

Soon a thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. He knew he did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and rain.

The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace, be still!" The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun.

And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the King of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry, jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her.

She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.

But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything.

It had made the first tree beautiful.

It had made the second tree strong.

And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God.

That was better than being the tallest tree in the whole world.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

frosty the snowman...

if you stop by our house today, you'll find us in the kitchen baking making THESE. maybe if i get brave we will attempt a gingerbread house. i haven't made one since i was a kid... any tips or tricks you might be willing to share?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

christmas countdown

it may be 79 degrees outside, but it's definitely beginning to look a lot like christmas. december 1st in our house means we are in the midst of holiday decorating. it also means that the annual christmas countdown has begun. so how do you countdown? add a new ornament to the tree each day? celebrate with a small gift or special treat? read a different christmas book each night? a couple of years ago we started a new family tradition - an "activity based" advent calendar. sometimes our "activities" are big outings & sometimes they are just little things, but we try to do a little special something, every single day... spreading christmas cheer throughout the entire month. so here's this year's list:

1. write letters to santa
2. watch: how the grinch stole christmas
3. go to disneyland
4. attend a christmas tree lighting
5. holiday toy express
6. read: the tale of the three trees
7. ride the irvine rail roade christmas train
8. make hot chocolate floats
9. watch: the nightmare before christmas
10. start our own "white envelope"tradition
11. have a picnic dinner by the christmas tree
12. dana point harbor boat parade of lights
13. read: the christmas orange
14. ding dong ditch christmas treats
15. gingerbread house
16. watch: white christmas
17. make home-made bread for hot chocolate & toast
18. have breakfast for dinner
19. newport beach boat parade
20. read: why christmas trees aren't perfect
21. have a fondue/ candy cane dipping party
22. drive around to see the neighborhood christmas lights.
23. watch: elf
24. sing christmas songs, tell the story of the true meaning of christmas, & read the christmas story

here's to a happy holiday season! it's definitely one of the happiest times of the year!