Tag Archives: Christmas

Creative Juice #75

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Creative Juice #75

First dose of Creative Juice for the New Year!

Some Little Christmas Artworks

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This December, my Zentangles all look kind of Christmasy:

I drew a few entries for Imelda Green’s Advent Calendar challenge:

And I drew two winter night scenes:

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These are the first drawings of mine that I’ve ever framed and hung in my house.

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What the Angels Said

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What the Angels Said

Merry Christmas!

In place of Monday Morning Wisdom, today I am sharing a poem I wrote in October as part of the OctPoWriMo challenge. The prompt was What is the Message? and the suggested form was nonet. I chose to write a paraphrase of Luke 2:10-14.

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What the Angels Said

I bring you good tidings of great joy.
Today in the town of David
A savior is born to you.
Find the babe wrapped in cloths:
This will be your sign.
Glory to God!
Peace to men.
Fear not!
Christ.

Poem © by ARHuelsenbeck

From the Creator’s Heart #130

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From the Creator’s Heart #130

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1: 21 NIV).

Ahwatukee Festival of Lights

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Ahwatukee Festival of Lights

Unless you’ve traveled in the southwest United States, you may never have seen Christmas lights done quite like this before:

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When we first moved to Arizona and our children were small, we’d make a point to drive down to the Ahwatukee foothills south of Phoenix to see the lighted cacti.

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How do you string lights on a cactus? Very carefully. I tried it one year. Not fun, but very pretty.

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The video below tells about the history of the Ahwatukee Festival of Lights:

Creative Juice #73

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Creative Juice #73

Some inspiring examples, and some silly stuff.

  1. Merging wood and glass.
  2. Masterful quilts.
  3. An artist’s process.
  4. End of the year reading list. Hurry up.
  5. Lovely embroidery kits.
  6. So it may really be true that you know stuff in your gut.
  7. Berlin is on my bucket list. Is it on yours? Here are the best places to take fabulous photographs.
  8. I love this artist. Sketches from Portugal.
  9. Beautiful photographs of birds.
  10. Quirky graffiti artist goes to Bethlehem.
  11. Christmas photography project.
  12. And one last silly Christmas-themed photo collection.

In the Meme Time: Come

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Guest Post: Family Singing at Christmas by Betty Mason Arthurs

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Guest Post: Family Singing at Christmas by Betty Mason Arthurs

Thank you to Betty Mason Arthurs for this caroling story.

Doing Life Together

Photo by Jeff Weese Photo by Jeff Weese

Family Singing at Christmas

by

Betty Mason Arthurs

Memories of my family and our love of music and singing together, now that my parents and one brother are gone, help to overcome my sorrow of missing them at Christmastime and bring me joy. I share a memory from Christmas Eve long ago.

My family stomped their boots on the porch of the old, two-story nursing home. Soft-colored lights and garland adorned the porch railing and reflected off the powdery snow in the early evening. Through the front windows I caught a glimpse of red and green crepe paper streamers draped over the staircase railing and the small Christmas tree in the foyer. It was Christmas Eve.

Giggling with excitement, I pushed open the heavy oak door. “Come on. The nurses are expecting us.” I urged my family forward and shut out the frigid air in Albion…

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Favorite Songs of the Season

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Favorite Songs of the Season

You know those $5 bins of CDs they have at Walmart? I always take a peek in the Christmas bin in case there’s a gem in there I don’t have yet.

This year I treated myself to Sarah McLachlin’s The Classic Christmas Album, and I am obsessed with it. I’ve listened to it every day since mid-November. It is so good, and it is not your typical Christmas album, though there are many classics on it. It’s her more unusual choices that blow me away. Her version of Prayer of St. Francis moves me to tears, as does her rendition of River, Joni Mitchell’s haunting and depressing winter song (can’t really call it a Christmas song).

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I’ve written about my favorite Christmas CDs before, and I don’t want to repeat, but there are a couple I could add to the list, as well as the Sarah McLachlan one.

About 20 years ago I was wandering around the mall at Christmas time (Remember malls? That same mall is dead now. Sigh.) and a gift store was beautifully decorated for the holidays, and the most beautiful music was playing—hammered dulcimer, mandolin, fiddle, recorder, harp. I commented on it, and the salesperson showed me the CD they were playing, which I promptly bought: Colonial Holiday. My husband spins wool into yarn on a spinning wheel, and he likes to spin with this CD playing.

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Speaking of instruments you don’t hear every day, how about handbells? The Magic of the Bells was recorded in 1996 by the French ringers known as Les Sonneurs. It contains some carols and other stuff, like a couple of Lennon/McCartney songs.

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And, yes, this is repeating, but I absolutely love Mary, Did You Know from Pentatonix’s That’s Christmas to Me:

I used to be an elementary general music teacher, and every year we would have a winter concert, and I would cram in as many Kwanzaa, Channukah, winter and generic holiday songs, and Christmas carols as I could. My ten most favorite carols (most going back to my own childhood) are:

  1. O Holy Night (I had a Jewish principal who requested it every year. “Can we do the one that goes, ‘Fall on your knees…?’”)
  2. Breath of Heaven
  3. I Saw Three Ships
  4. O Come, O Come Emmanuel (technically an Advent song)
  5. Carol of the Bells
  6. Coventry Carol
  7. We Three Kings
  8. Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella
  9. Joy to the World (technically a Second Coming song)
  10. Silent Night

What about you? Is there special music you like to listen to (or sing) during the holidays? What are your favorite carols? Share in the comments below.

Santa and the True Spirit of Christmas

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Note: This article was originally written in 1994, published in The Annals of Saint Anne and later in Active Christian News and on Doing Life Together.

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A portly man with a white beard, wearing a flannel shirt and suspender-supported blue jeans, pumped gas into his car. My then two-year-old son Matthew watched through the car window.

“Who is that, Matt?” I asked.

“Santa,” he whispered.

The man noticed Matthew’s peering eyes and waved.

We saw the man again a year later as he exited a delicatessen we were approaching. This time he wore a tuxedo with a shocking pink bow tie and cummerbund. Perhaps this was the day of his daughter’s wedding.

“Who is that, Matt?”

“Santa!”

As we passed, the man winked at Matthew and asked me, “Has he been good?” Obviously, he knew whom he resembled and enjoyed playing the part.

Every December, the man spent his free time attending preschool and Sunday school Christmas parties. He assumed the role of guest of honor at my children’s preschool. Wearing a finely tailored red velvet suit and cap trimmed in white plush, with black leather belt and boots, wire-rimmed glasses, white gloves, rouged cheeks, and his home-grown full white beard, he appeared to be the genuine article, not a department store imitation.

He listened attentively to the children’s requests, commenting on their wishes. When someone asked for a popular toy in short supply, I heard him reply, “Well, Mike, I’ll try. I’ve had a lot of orders for that one, and I’ve got my elves working overtime, but I can’t guarantee I’ll have it in time. Please don’t be disappointed if I leave you something else instead.”

Though he was willing to provide his services for free, when payment was offered to him, he said, “Thank you. I’ll send this right out to the American Cancer Society.”

Some might say the man really epitomizes the spirit of Christmas. Yet, he’s a mere caricature of the original Saint Nicholas, the legendary fourth century archbishop of Myra in Asia Minor (now Turkey).

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As the story goes, a poor man had three daughters, for whom he could not provide dowries. He agonized over their fates should he die. With no father, brothers, or husbands to support them, they were doomed to lives of poverty and degradation.

Nicholas, aware of the poor man’s dilemma, tossed three sacks of gold through the family’s window in the middle of the night.

Out of this folklore grew the custom of surreptitious gifts on Saint Nicholas’ Day, December 6. Eventually, someone (no doubt an advertising executive) got the bright idea of combining Saint Nicholas gift-giving with the celebration of Christmas.

Sadly, many people measure their self-worth by the quantity of presents they receive. Nothing could be more pitiful than not getting any gifts at all. Feeling guilty about the poor and the homeless who might not experience any Christmas bounty, we look for ways we can contribute.

Charities increase their appeals during the Christmas season. Many collect more money during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than during the whole rest of the year.

All December long we hear about individuals or corporations who provide gifts to needy families, thereby demonstrating the “true spirit of Christmas.” We hear about scout troops that donate toys to hospitalized children, and youth groups that sing carols at retirement homes. We sigh and say, “Ah, that’s what Christmas is all about.”

Sadly, the same shelters and food banks that were inundated with offers of good cheer in December get almost no attention in January or August.

The original Nicholas gave three dowry-deprived girls what they needed for a bright future. He wasn’t merely concerned with giving toys to underprivileged children. His motivation was changing lives, bringing hope where there had been despair.

Nicholas’ own model was Jesus, the man whose birth we celebrate on December 25. Jesus described His life’s goal with these words: “…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10: 10b ESV). The abundant life Jesus offers is eternal life, with God, not earthly possessions.

And that’s the true spirit of Christmas.

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