Archive | November 2012

Those Traveling Kings

As songs have been claimed by different writers on this blog, I’ve pretty much agreed with each one. I love O Holy Night. I really don’t like The Little Drummer Boy. Santa Baby? The radio station gets turned before the second ‘a’ is sung. So now it’s my turn.

Feliz Navidad would have to rank right down there with Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer. I really doubt either song needs much explanation for my dislike!

As for my least favorite carol, it would be We Three Kings. I don’t know if it’s the words or the plodding music. Perhaps it’s the kid’s version that suddenly has them all smoking cigars! It might be the long, held out ‘Oooooooooh-oooooooh’ or it might be the never-ending verses. Whatever the reason, it’s not high on my list.

I have many favorite songs. Over the years, at least one musical artist either remakes a favorite or introduces a new one. Mandesa’s That’s Why Christmas Makes Me Cry, always makes me cry. Faith Hill’s A Baby Changes Everything, makes me cry. Josh Groban’s Silent Night, makes–are you seeing a pattern here? It doesn’t take much to make me cry.

Point of Grace has the best Christmas CD, in my opinion. It was their first one and last year, I bought an extra copy just in case they ever quit selling it! One of the songs is titled One King. The chorus says: One king held the frankincense. One king held the myrrh. One king held the purest gold. One king held the hope of the world.

Somehow, that fourth king redeems the three kings and I’m not so against them anymore.

One King. He is still the hope of the world.


 

Saturday is the first of December. In the hustle and business that surrounds Christmas, may we never lose sight of the One King–the One hope.

Sara

Christmas Music. What say you?

I love Christmas! So, it’s only logical that I love Christmas music, Christmas books, and Christmas movies.  While many of the aforementioned  are totally secular in nature and not really about the true meaning of Christmas, they’re happy feel-good things, and I still enjoy them.  I’m a total sap for them actually.   But that’s just the icing on the Christmas cookies.  The true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Savior, will always be the most meaningful and important to me.

Since the real topic is discussion about our favorite and least favorite Christmas songs, I suppose I should get to the point.  There’s Christmas songs, carols, and hymns.  A carol is  most generally recognized as a song of praise or joy, especially when in relation to Christmas. Although some may disagree with me, it’s been said that a hymn is poetry addressed to a Deity as a prayer. The words or text is actually the hymn.  But most of us are accustomed to hearing them with music, even if performed a cappella as the voices are the music. But I digress.

No matter whether it’s a song, carol, or hymn, choosing a favorite is difficult. I like so many. I agree that O Holy Night is a particular favorite.  I also love What Child Is This. But the list goes on.

My least favorite Christmas song? There’s a list of those too.  Santa Baby comes to mind right away. Eartha Kitt’s rendition was bad enough and Madonna’s recording didn’t improve it.   Many more have tried, but the song just doesn’t get any better.  Puhleez!  Give it a rest already.

No matter what your favorite Christmas carols, songs, or hymns are…may you be blessed this Christmas season as you listen and let the music warm your heart.

Merry Christmas!

Susan Hollaway

Christmas Carol Wars: Drummers vs. Angels

This week we’re discussing favorite and least favorite Christmas songs. I’m going to turn up the heat.

Sweet, but is it accurate?

The little drummer boy is not in the Bible.

Shepherds, angels, wise men, even a violence-prone king, but there is no little drummer boy who shows up at the manger. You would think it was Holy Scripture the way some people love “The Little Drummer Boy.” But it tops out as my least favorite Christmas song.

Don’t get me wrong, the song was okay the first 14,000 times I heard it, but now it seems to play constantly, that little brat never tiring as he bangs away on that drum. At the store, on TV commercials, Christmas concerts, the drive-through light display, there he is – bam, bam, bam.

Have you ever heard a young boy pounding a drum? Musical or restful are not words that come to mind. Picture Mary, having just given birth and getting Baby Jesus to sleep, and then this kid shows up and says, “How about I beat on this drum?” I think she would have liked to throw him out on his rum-pum-pum.

Some of you are probably ready to do the same to me after I’ve trashed your favorite Christmas carol, written by a woman who was a native of St. Joseph, Mo., by the way.

My favorite carol is a golden oldie, written by Charles Wesley in 1739. I love “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” because it conveys so much scripture in beautiful poetry.

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
Hail the Son of Righteousness (Psalm 72:1)
Light and life to all He brings (John 1:4)
Ris’n with healing in His wings. (Malachi 4:2)

That’s good news, it makes angels sing and little boys beat a drum. May the truth of this season set your heart free to celebrate.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Susan Mires

Who is winning the Christmas carol war on your stereo?

Best/Worst Christmas Songs

This week we are sharing our least favourite and our most favourite Christmas songs. So let’s get the bad news over with first…

Please don’t hate me Beatles fans… The number one song that does not get ‘all my loving’ is Having A Wonderful Christmastime by none other than Sir Paul McCartney. The lyrics, the ill-fitted choral pieces, and the musical score all work together to make a very strange piece.

Sadly, I must concede that I’m in the minority. If Wikipedia can be trusted, McCartney regrets writing this song (on that fact, ‘I’m a believer’), however, it allegedly earns him $400,000 a year with a cumulative total of $15 million. I’m sure those royalty cheques must make him feel ‘glad all over’.

Now for my favourite Christmas song of all time…O Holy Night. I played this piece every year at our church’s Christmas recital on the violin while my brother accompanied me on the piano. Though I enjoyed playing the violin, I secretly wished I were singing this song with the powerful vocals of Celine Dione. Chills run down my spine whenever I hear O Holy Night on the radio, regardless of who sings it.

Aside from the emotion-stirring melody, I find the message very moving. It is a celebration that our Savior shed the glory of heaven to come to Earth in the most humble of beginnings.  The goal was to bring us freedom, love and peace. The moment of His arrival was a holy night, indeed.

Although I appreciate many renditions of O Holy Night, I wanted to share this version by the Celtic Woman performed in Slane Castle, Ireland. This is what I imagine the angels sound like.

Cherie Gagnon

Hope you enoyed it!

– Cherie

What Christmas song do you look forward to the most each year?

Memories of Christmas

I found this picture and it caused my memories to flood back.   You see, I attended a one room school for the first six grades of my schooling.  A one room school, with eight grades and one teacher.  There were two in my class.  Marilyn, and me.  When it was time for us to recite our lesson we would go to the front and sit on the recitation bench.  It looked like this one in the picture.  I know, because somehow when the school was torn down and dismantled, the bench ended up in my grandparents basement. Years later, I rescued it and it now sits proudly at my son’s house, where it holds books and backpacks and memories of today.  One of the best of the memories of this old school was Christmas.  Because in those days,   Christmas was all about Christmas and each event of the season was anticipated, prepared for, enjoyed and remembered.

We worked for weeks, preparing our parts and songs for the Christmas program. Older children helped the younger and everyone had a part.  There were costumes and construction paper decorations.   Paste and glitter and practice and giggles until finally all was ready.

When finally the day arrived, we spent a good part of it cleaning until everything sparkled.  It was part of our education.  Last minute practice, one last run through of the recitations and we were on our way home where the preparation began in earnest.  Baths and hair bows, shiny black patent shoes and a brand new dress, sewn with love by a mom already busy. How excited we were when it was finally time to return, one mile down the road, to that little school.  And to a packed house, because back then everyone came, the whole community, we proudly presented our program.

Everyone joined in the carols,  Silent Night, The First Noel, Away in a Manger , It came upon a Midnight Clear.  It didnt matter that we were singing about Jesus.  It was Christmas afterall and years later I was to learn the little phrase that everyone back there knew… Jesus IS the reason for the Season.

So what’s my favorite of all the Christmas songs.  I think it is one we don’t hear much any more.  But it was sung on one of those special nights, in a lilting soprano voice and stays in my heart as a memory always cherished.

STAR OF THE EAST

 Star of the East, oh Bethlehem star,

Guiding us on to heaven afar

Sorrow and grief are lull’d by thy light

Thou hope of each mortal, in  death’s lonely night

Fearless and tranquil, we look up to Thee

Knowing thou beam’st through  eternity

Help us to follow where Thou still dost guide

Pilgrims of earth  so wide

Star of the East, thou hope of the soul

While round us here the dark  billows roll

Lead us from sin to glory afar

Thou star of the East, thou sweet Bethl’em’s star.

Star of the East, undimmed by each cloud,

What tho’ the storms of grief  gather loud

Faithful and pure thy rays beam to save

Still bright o’er  the cradle, and bright o’er the grave

Smiles of a Saviour are mirror’d in thee

Glimpses of Heav’n in thy light  we see

Guide us still onward to that blessed shore

After earth’s toil is  o’er

Oh star that leads to God above

Whose rays are Peace and Joy and Love

Watch o’er us still till life hath ceased

Beam on, bright star, sweet  Bethlehem star.

Blessings, and may Jesus be your reason for this season.  Kathy

Who Would Guess?

Recently, while cleaning off a shelf in the bunk room closet, I came across two bowls…one a rather detailed carved affair with a forest scene complete with deer. The other was one that hubby made while still in high school, inlaid walnut and cedar.

Because the rather detailed one actually fell from the shelf amidst other things that came tumbling down in my cleaning frenzy, I decided to set it out. I used to display it all the time when we were at Windsong Ranch because I thought it fit the area. Looking at it again, I decided it still fit our wee cottage, so set it on the low handmade cedar chest that I remembered always being at the foot of my Aunt Hazel and Uncle Audress’s bed. Fitting, I thought, because the bowl also came from this particular aunt and uncle, and I had inherited both.

The very evening I graced the top of the chest with the pretty carved bowl, granddaughter #4 visited. And her first words? “Oh goody, you got out the bowl for the nutcrackers…but where is the nut bowl that ALWAYS went with it?” Yep–she meant the one hubby made.

I had never thought of them being a tradition. In reality, it was just convenient to put the whole nuts hubby enjoyed in one, and the nutcrackers in the other….on the small table by his chair. Simple.

When granddaughter #2 came later, her first words were nearly the same…”Where is the nut bowl? Grandpa, will you get nuts again like you always used to do?”

Memories. Who knows how they are made? Not usually planned, and not at all as elaborate as one might think. Yet–from Thanksgiving until well after Christmas, the bowls were filled with nuts and the assortment of picks and crackers. And even to us it brought memories of the little ones standing beside grandpa, being cautioned not to pinch their fingers in the nutcrackers, and always, always, always having to sweep up the shells that seem to fly here and there with their efforts.

Once again the bowls are out. By grandpa’s chair. And while Thanksgiving dinner was not at our house this year, we came home filled to the brim with new memories made, and took delight in the old ones…while cracking walnuts and almonds and watching the shells fly.

Who would ever guess nuts in a bowl could evoke such tightness around the heart?

It’s a Bright Friday

I’m borrowing the term “Bright Friday” from all the Vera Bradley emails I’ve been receiving, but what a great way to explain today. So much better than “Black Friday”. Honestly, I’m not a shopper so there is NO item that would be cheap enough for me to go shopping today in a bigger town or city! I think you either love the concept of today or you don’t.

Bright Friday describes my day. The boys have had two days off from school and three are left. Our plans are few so it’s like free days around here. My oldest needed a haircut BADLY. As a mom, I’m learning to choose those battles, but I was thrilled to make the appointment when he asked me to. We ran into town this morning, had time to talk, did a little shopping (he was thrilled when I paid for that “muted grunts deer call”), and laughed together. THOSE are priceless moments when your son is almost sixteen!

Now we’re home for the next three days. My list is long: art projects to prepare, bags and purses to sew for gifts, fudge and a pumpkin pie to make because no one brought one to our family gathering yesterday.

I love days like this and am so very thankful for this time at home with my family.

It’s a BRIGHT FRIDAY and I hope you’re having one too!

Sara

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
As you enjoy this day, I hope wonderful memories will wash over you warming your heart, and that your day will be filled with experiences and fellowship that will become new memories that you will cherish as well.

Praise and thanks be to God from whom all blessings flow!

May God richly bless you this Thanksgiving.

 

Susan Hollaway

The Aroma of Thanksgiving

It’s the simplest, yet most elegant of holidays.

When we gather round our own tables, yet all share the same meal.

It is a national holiday, a spiritual service, a personal observance.

A day committed to breaking bread and offering prayer. Nothing more, nothing less.

More than anything else, this day to me is an aroma. Sage stuffing baking in the oven, filling the whole house with that once-a-year scent of goodness. When Mom would spend hours preparing traditional recipes in Grandma’s pans. I still make stuffing (or dressing, as Grandma called it) the way Mom taught me, with apples, celery, a stick of butter, sage and a little more sage.

This evening, I’ll tear up slices of day-old bread.

And remember. And give thanks.

“Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.” II Corinthians 2:15

What’s a Thanksgiving tradition or memory for you?

The Freedoms of a Thankful Heart

The Freedoms of a Thankful Heart…

Freedom to accept how we’ve been divinely created

Freedom to be content with what we have

Freedom to be grateful for our natural talents and enjoy the gifting of others

Freedom to be generous

Freedom to receive kindness

Freedom to cease chasing after those things to which we believe we are entitled

Freedom to develop humility in spirit

Freedom to find beauty in each new day, even when times are difficult

Freedom to release anxiety and embrace peace

Freedom to yield to Providence

Freedom to love openly

Cherie Gagnon-Cherie Gagnon

“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” – 2 Chr. 20:21 b (NIV)

What does a thankful heart mean to you?