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

Today is warm for December, in the mid-50’s. The sun comes in and out from behind grey clouds. A small breeze ruffles the few leaves left on the oak trees.

My den is filled with bags and packages. Tonight I will begin wrapping the Colorado gifts so they can be sent. I’m hoping I can finish by Monday. The good thing is no ribbons on the packages as the cats are prone to eat them.    I’ve even caught Fern munching.

When I was a kid, we had Advent wreaths, four candles set around a small decorated wreath which my mother always placed on the living room table. Three of the candles were purple and one was white or sometimes pink. Each Sunday in Advent one of the candles was lit. The odd color was for Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, the halfway point until Christmas. I can see the wreath in my mind’s eye. We’d all surround it and take a turn lighting the candles. I know there were specific prayers read from a card, but I have no memory of what they were or even who read them. I just remember the wreath and the candles.

Our house was always decorated. The picture window had snowflakes and stars from stencils and spray on white snow from a can. The Christmas cards were taped around the archway leading to the kitchen. Those were the days of Christmas cards. There were so many the mailman came twice. My mother would let us open them then she’d dutifully mark received on the index cards in the metal Christmas card file box. I remember the box had a green background and white trees and stars. Each year my mother would send cards to the names and addresses in the box and check sent when she did. If none were received back for two or three years, cards were no longer sent to them.

Cardboard Santas were taped on the walls and silver tinsel was hung around windows, but the centerpiece was always the tree. I remember crawling under it to plug in the lights which were big, different colors and burned hot. I also remember so many plugs attached one on top of the other I wonder how we avoided an electrical fire.

I always remember wonder when I think of Christmas as I was growing up. My memories are filled with colors and Christmas carols and wrapped presents under the tree. I remember all the Christmas cookie cutters and decorating sugar cookie Santas, trees, bells and reindeer. It was my mother who brought Christmas magic and gave us all the memories.

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10 Comments on ““Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.””

  1. Hedley Says:

    Paragraph three, line 4 – don’t think that I am not paying attention.

  2. olof1 Says:

    Warm here too and a storm is aproaching fast. Still calm outside but tomorrow will be a fun day to drive around in 🙂 I’m so gklad I now days have a rather heavy SAAB and not the light weight Mazda I had before 🙂

    Advent candlesticks are still very popular here but I have onkly seen one in the shape of a wreath here. Those candlesticks are responsible for loads of fires after advent third, people tend to forget outting them out and then their home burns down. I have an advent candlestick but I never let the candles burn, I like my home too much 🙂

    I miss the old days of christmas cards, I still get a lot since I send a lot but it isn’t the same. Back in the days those cards were so beautiful and even urther back they could look spectacular. I have a few from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and they really put time in making those cards special.

    Have a great day!


    • katry Says:

      It is much colder now that it is early evening. Tomorrow will be much like today. I do have to go to the dump and a couple of other places so it will be a pleasant day to do errands.

      The wreath is what holds the candles. It looks just like a door wreath but much smaller. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God. I think you need to make sure the candleholder makes the candle taller than the wreath and never leave it lit. We always blew up the candle when we were done.

      I still send a lot of Christmas cards because I like them too. I send Edward Gorey illustrated cards. This year I was lucky to find some I hadn’t already sent. Look up Edward Gorey and fruitcake, and you’ll see a picture of the card.

      Have a great morning!

  3. Richard Says:

    We were supposed to be all bright ‘n shiny and full o’ sun but NOOOOO … and I’m over here in the corner shoutin’ ‘YAYYYYY!’ … finally starting to get to the ‘cool-down’ part of the year at last.

    Spent the bulk of the afternoon making beef stew. The flat-iron steak was a good buy, and a much better buy than the trays of spurious ‘stew meat’ on display. Carrots, potatoes, green peas, onions, garlic, and all the other things that go into making beef stew the ‘comfort food’ of Lore et Legend … now to cook a bit o’ rice to serve it on – I’m done cookin’ and it’s time to git t’ eatin’ …

    No gifts, no ribbons, no packages … ’tis simplicity its own self. All that’s left is to make the cash withdrawals and do the calligraphy on the envelopes.

    We had the traditional bough wreaths with red ribbons, ‘sneaux,’ and pine cones in a circular format. No candles, ‘cuz fire risk.
    We decorated inside mostly … I think there was one year Dad strung lights outside, but that woulda been the only year. A ‘one-and-done.’ When I was married and a Proud Homeowner, I strung lights outside for the wife and my daughter, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. It was shiny. And bright.

    Our tree usually had two types of lights: The big BIG bulbs and the teeny tiny bulbs. Seems like these were always the type that would make the entire strand go out if only one light burnt out 0r had an electrical disconnect. It’d take forever to track down where the bad bulb was. I can remember lots of words I don’t think I was supposed to know then being said some nights.

    Of all the holidays and ‘special occasions,’ Christmas truly is the only one that still holds memories of that sense of wonder and magic I felt as a child. It was … special. Still is. Not so much for me, but for seeing my daughter and her family enjoying it now. I can’t imagine being at this stage of my life without having them near to enjoy it with.

    • katry Says:

      Did you ditch the shorts and sandals with the cool down? I had the opposite as it seemed warm today; long sleeve shirt was enough.

      I love beef stew with all the veggies you mentioned. Sometimes I’d cook dumplings on the top of the stew. I figure bed stew, meatloaf and mashed potatoes are the first three on that comfort food list. Oops, I almost forgot mac and cheese.

      I have three grand-nephews and a grand-niece and for them I have gifts. Their parents do get gift cards, but the tradition means I also give them each a new ornament, a toothbrush and some neat soap like a lobster. One brother-in-law gets a gift card from his coffee shop where he is sometimes a twice a day regular. What was fun was I uploaded a pictures of his pets for the front of the card.

      I have a wreath on my front door, one on the fence gate and another huge one on the fence in the driveway. I have ribbons and decorations for them that I saved from a few years of wreaths.

      My house will have outside lights. Many of my neighbors have their lights up now, and they look great. Most are colored strands, but I have a white star and I put all white lights leading to it.

      I think when we were kids all of the bulbs would be out if one bulb was bad. I remember my Dad checking the bulbs one by one to find the bad one. I use small white lights in the center of my tree as they look like stars. The rest of the lights are colored.

      I have always loved Christmas.

      • Richard Says:

        Kat, joo mek choke about tchorts, jess … ? I did make one small concession to weather and wore a sweatshirt instead of a T, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go for now. Maybe after it gets into the 30s for a while I’ll change my mind, but for now, it’s still shorts. Besides, I have the legs to pull it off (and did you notice how modestly I said that?) … it’s great to not have a strong sense of shame – or irony …

      • katry Says:

        You are a hearty soul though I did see a man wearing shorts at the grocery store yesterday. I was just in a long sleeve shirt so it wasn’t all that chilly.

        Last night, though, got really cold!

  4. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    We didn’t have an advent wreath at home. I remember the one in church, though. I sang in the choir so I was up near the altar. The Advent Wreath was to the left of the pulpit and sat on a wider portion of the wooden divider that enclosed the choir area. The candles were large and thick and decorated with gold-colored designs. The Gaudete Candle was particularly showy since it was white and the design showed to advantage.
    We always sang Oh Come, Oh Come, Emanuel during Advent. There were other standards, too, but I remember that one because the breathing and musical phrasing didn’t match. Basically, we should have had to sing the whole first verse on one breath because there weren’t any logical pauses. If the pause made sense musically, the lyrics demanded continuation and vice versa. As I recall, our choir mistress actually told us to grab a breath wherever we could but don’t everyone do it at the same time. 0-O

    I put Christmas decos on my mom’s bike, yesterday. The bike has lived in the back yard for many, many years and moves around depending on what needs to be done out there. It’s now leaning against the black walnut tree and can be seen from the road. So I decorate it. It’s now sporting a red bow, some plastic fantasy glittery foliage with plastic mistletoe berries. And there are two glittery fantasy birds on the handle bars. Their shed glitter can still be seen on and around the couch. And on the dogs. 🙂

    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      It is amazing how exact some of our memories are. You probably looked around when the choir wasn’t singing and that scene stayed etched in your memory. My church also had an Advent wreath near the altar. I remember the priest lightning it.

      Oh Come, Oh Come, Emanuel is just about my favorite carol. I never noticed that breathing was a difficult part of the song. I’ll have to listen better this year.

      I love the decorated bike. One of my neighbors does the same thing and her bike decorations reflect whatever holiday it is. I laughed at the picture of the dogs festive with their glitter.

      Have a great day too!

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