Wordless Wednesday: birthday girl

Hopefully, this sequence of photos need no explanation. But, just in case you didn’t figure it out….she’s FIVE!

Blog hopping with Wordless Wednesday over at Comedy Plus.

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LTTL and Quotography: Christmas

Christmas quotography 72

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.
~Laura Ingalls Wilder

 My last post highlighted the birth of Jesus and mentioned that, along with Christ’s Mass, many people celebrate the season with other traditions as well. These traditions are woven into the fabric of the holiday and bring added joy and good feelings to the season. We all have childhood memories associated with holidays, and many of those memories probably center around that jolly, round person affectionately called Santa.

As an admitted Santa collector, I have about every size and shape Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Old St. Nick, Father Christmas and Kris Kringle you can imagine. For me, Santa and the other secular Christmas traditions in no way detract from the main event in Bethlehem that changed the world so many centuries ago. Santa in no way represents Christmas at the expense of Christ. True Christians hold Christmas in their hearts all year, regardless of the calendar page. But like the holly, mistletoe, garland greenery, twinkling lights and gift giving of the designated holiday season, Santa is just another tradition that serves a larger purpose in lifting the spirits of children of all ages. Call it a bit of fun, Christmas magic.

From childhood, Santa has always been a representative of the divine concepts of generosity, compassion and kindness. But, in addition to Santa, there’s a huge supporting cast surrounding his once-a-year joy ride. Because, without those “elves,” there’s no way Santa could make all those toys to gladden the hearts of little girls and boys! 😉

One of those elves appears at our house during December. Peanut named her Wendy. Her arrival means summaries are periodically sent back to Santa so he knows whether she’s on the Naughty or Nice list. But…as with all of us….Wendy isn’t without a little mischievousness of her own.

elf 2015 2

elf 2015 5

elf 2015 1

elf 2015 4

The experience of child-like wonder makes the holidays enjoyable for both adults and children alike. We will teach Peanut and Twix many lessons about generosity, love and grace throughout their lives. And, we’ll throw in a bit of Christmas magic just for fun.

The original story of St. Nicholas is one of a humble Christian bishop who loved God. He displayed this love by giving to others….not unlike our Heavenly Father who gave the world the gift of his son, Jesus, more than 2,000 years ago. Regardless of whatever name he’s called, his message is always the same. Love.

May your days be merry and bright this Christmas and throughout the new year.

Participating in LTTL and Quotography

LTTL & Quotography: Mass

quotography-mass72

The magic of Christmas is not in the presents,
but in His presence.
~Unknown

Quotography’s prompt this week is mass. Not being Catholic, the term is a bit foreign to me but I believe its interpretation in today’s culture can be interchanged with a couple of different synonyms.

Celebration of the Eucharist or Holy Communion/Lord’s Supper
A gathering together of Christians for the purpose of worship

Without getting really heavy into semantics, I’m adapting the prompt to be an interpretation of the meaning of that December holiday called Christmas.

Christmas = literally translated to mean Christ’s mass

Christmas is the celebration of the miraculous birth of God’s son, Jesus. The day when God Incarnate came to this world in the most humble, helpless form of a human baby. He was to be raised by earthly parents and experience, first hand, what is means to be human. He was to experience all the pain, suffering and sadness that goes along with our broken world. It is God’s act of pure love that sent Jesus to a dark, sinful, lost world to reconcile humankind back to their creator through the ultimate sacrifice….crucifixion, death and resurrection. A sacrifice Christians observe regularly through the Eucharist/Holy Communion/Lord’s Supper.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel….For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6)

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17)

 That’s it. That’s all. Did this happen in the dead of winter on December 25th with snow falling softly against the sky? No. Was there mistletoe and holly garlands? No. Was there gift giving? No. Was there huge celebratory get-togethers? No.

There were, however, scared human parents giving birth to their first child a long ways from home in a room that stabled animals. There were angels appearing on the hillsides announcing the birth…not to the upper class of people in the town and synagogue, but to the most lowly people of that period’s class system…shepherds. There were no grand Christmas trees, decorations or lavish gifts. His presence was the only present for miles around and went largely unnoticed by most people.

This is a present Christians celebrate every year. And we celebrate it alongside a host of traditions that date back to the cultures of the Druids, German and Celtic tribes, Roman mythology and Teutonic nature worship. The bible never mentions the exact month or day of Jesus’ birth. In the 5th century, the Western Church selected a day for the event to be commemorated….coinciding with the Roman feast of the birth of Sol (sun god). It also coincided with the Winter Solstice, an important time of the year for many pagan religions. Coincidence. Not hardly. People of all color, creeds and nationalities combined all these customs and traditions into what we celebrate now as Christmas.

Whether you celebrate Christmas as Christ’s Mass or simply as a winter holiday, perhaps the Grinch said it best.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. 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!

My wish for each of you this Christmas is to be filled with the joy and peace of God’s act of pure, unadulterated love for his creation.

Merry Christmas!

Playing along with Quotography and Life Thru the Lens

Photo Blogging Challenge: ‘Tis the Season

photo blog challenge

 

PJ’s theme for December’s photo challenge is, appropriately, ‘Tis the Season. And while that sounds easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, it was not really the case at our house. Shortly after Thanksgiving, Entrepreneur was diagnosed with kidney cancer and it looks like it has spread to other areas. Needless to say, the season came to a screeching halt and never really materialized to its fullest potential. I had most of the decorations already up, but never quite embraced the season this year. My Christmas music was oddly silent most of the month.

But, thanks to wonderful friends and family, we got through surgery to remove the kidney, and he came home from the hospital for Christmas. We’re waiting for biopsy results and bracing for the next phase. It’s all very surreal and our days are not very merry and bright this year with this hanging over our heads.

But the holidays did come, complete with a visit from Santa, and we embraced them with thankfulness and new perspectives. Here are my five plus one extra just because I can.

1. What is Christmas without a poinsettia? This one is the size of a small bush, two and a half feet high, and showed up at the hospital to brighten his room during his stay.

pointsietta

2. While this is not the snowfall many of you have already had, it’s the most we’ve had all month in Middle Missouri. Just enough to make everything look clean and pretty, calm and peaceful. Peaceful and calm…Two things I could really use right now.

December 2014

3. No Christmas season is complete around here without a trip to see the Magic Tree. Peanut has seen it almost every year since she was a year old. This year was the first one for Twix at 10 months.

peanut magic tree lights Twix magic tree

4. A little Christmas bling….

ornament

5. …on the Christmas tree.

Christmas tree 2014

And one more, because everyone needs a little elf like this one hanging around the house at Christmas.

Peanut Santa 2014

So, there you have it…the bad balanced by the good. Check out PJ’s post to see what ‘Tis the Season means to others.

December Photo Challenge: Festive

photo blog challenge

Festive is the theme for PJ’s December photo challenge. And I wasn’t short on ideas. Granted, they are fairly traditional, but I hope you like them.

Christmas lights always look festive to me regardless of the weather.festive 1

This ornament is one from my childhood. My sister has three and I have three. Not sure how I’m divvying mine up between my TWO daughters when I’m no longer here but that’s for them to figure out.
festive 2

The above ornament can be found on my festive Christmas tree, which will be up until the 12th day of Christmas, January 6th….or until I get the motivation to tear it apart and take it down. Notice the festive handmade decoration, courtesy of five-year-old Peanut.
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You simply can.not deny this is festivity…personified.
.festive 4

And now, the pièce de résistance….the Magic Tree. Every year this bare tree is transformed with 15,000 incan­des­cent mini lights, 15,000 LED lights and 7,500 color changing LED lights by a local man who calls himself Will Treelighter.  For you math magicians, that’s more than 37,500 lights. Wrapping the tree in lights takes about 40 hours, and Mr. Treelighter does it during the off hours from his day job. He calls it a a sense­less act of beauty.

magic tree 2011-1

But wait…there’s more! A bonus entry because, technically, the *festive* season lasts until January 6th.

December is also the month for birthdays in our family. Peanut’s big brother, The Golfer and Mom all celebrated another year. While we do try and separate birthdays from Christmas, inevitably the lines sometime get a little blurred. But they didn’t ask to be born in the middle of the holiday hoopla, so we do our best to make them feel like Christmas isn’t running over them.
birthday collage

PJ has some other festive links over at A ‘lil Hoohaa. Check them out!

I hope everyone has festive—but safe—New Year’s celebrations.

And yes, this is the daily double post for Tuesday, Dec. 31st. A very busy meme day in the blogosphere.

The nativity story as told by a five year old

This artwork has adorned my pantry door since Thanksgiving. It may look confusing to you, but I assure you there is a logical story here.

Peanut nativity 1

Peanut explained it after she asked me to write the words to Joy to the World below her picture. Then she set out to complete the story using coffee stirs and tape.

So here is the story….. from right to left.

*They* came on a raft (right), following the baby Jesus star (left).
Peanut nativity 2

…until they found the baby in the manger.
Peanut nativity 3

Completely logical. Right? 🙂

Last minute gift ideas

Christmas cactus 72
Texture by Kim Klassen: 1217 music 70% soft light and holiday button #2

 

Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
~Oren Arnold

Merry Christmas to you and yours.
May your holiday lights shine bright and your cocoa be hot.

Linking up with Quotography, Texture Tuesday and Texture Twist.
Quotography  texture-twistTexture Tuesday