Wednesday, November 30, 2011
There are people who think Christmas is too commercial. They complain that stores put up their decorations too early. Perhaps they are right in many ways, but I think the poor economy has something to do with it this year.
Personally, I don’t care when a store starts decorating for Christmas as long as it isn’t the 4th of July. People don’t need to start their Christmas shopping until they are ready. However, I had a friend who always had her Christmas cards addressed and ready to send when the time came. She wrote them while sitting around her pool in July; it was one thing she could be ahead on. She purchased her cards after Christmas while they were on sale.
There are retirees who leave in the fall for their winter homes in Florida. They do their shopping during the summer before they leave and leave them behind to be distributed at Christmas. They save big on postage
I enjoy all the decorations that a store owner or homeowner puts forth; if we have the opportunity to enjoy them when there is still nice weather to get out, doesn’t it make it easier to appreciate them?
There are many senior citizens’ organizations who plan trips to New York City to view the shop windows and do some shopping. It’s why the stores do the trimming early and there are hours of time put forth to get those windows in the scenes and themes they do such a wonderful job on. Besides that is the time when we people take the time to make the trip before all of the hustle bustle of the times.
I like all of the bright colorful lights of Christmas – it’s the favorite time of year for a good many people and they show it. There is a kind of awe and wonder to a lighted Christmas tree. It gives me a warm happy feeling that tells me everything isn’t commercial. The Christmas tree is a symbol of love. I always get depressed and sad when the holiday season is over and everyone takes down their lights and decorations and it’s gloomy winter again.
Trees in homes generally do not look like trees in public places. Have you noticed this? The ones in the home have family ornaments and keepsakes on them. Homemade treasures handed down from year to year as well as ornaments with names and dates written on them. Souvenirs from trips you have taken over the years that you purchased particularly to place on your tree. They have personalities.
People who put their tree up two weeks before Christmas and the day after Thanksgiving take them down the day following Christmas, sometimes Christmas Day. That is the way they celebrate the holiday. The people, like myself, who put the tree up Christmas week or Christmas Eve leave it up until New Year’s or even Epiphany, January 6. That is why my tree, which is always natural, isn’t put up until Christmas. Some folks leave their trees up until Valentine’s Day or even later. Some wait until Easter. Of course, they have to be artificial trees. We realize mothers whose children bug them to put the tree up a month in advance and then proceed to wreck it almost before the holiday arrives want to take it down Christmas Day are exempt from all of this.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
By Carol WeimerThis Sunday the holy season of Advent begins.
This past week I made my annual trip to purchase my candles for the Advent wreath.
Many will take advantage of the weather this weekend and put up their Christmas decorations.
Have you ever noticed that even at Halloween time the Christmas decorations are put out at many homes and are lighted until either the day after Christmas or New Year’s Day? Then there are those who don’t put decorations up until either the middle of December or the week of Christmas. Their trimmings are left up until 12th Night Epiphany when the Wise Men reached the stable where the Christ Child was born. Many leave their decorated trees up for weeks after that, especially those who have artificial trees. At our house the tree is real and generally goes up just a few days before Christmas and comes down after Epiphany and then there are plenty of needles to sweep up.
The Advent Wreath comes in many kinds. It can be a green artificial wreath, one you can purchase in most craft shops or department stores. They can also be wire that you can place greens on, wooden forms with greens, Styrofoam circles, many, many types. If the wreath is fresh and you have kept it, the greens might need either freshening up with a sprinkle of water, or if it has faded purchase a can of green spray paint and give it a few squirts. Some folks use different colored candles. I prefer the three purple, one pink for the fourth Sunday of Advent and the white Christmas Eve or Day candles for the middle of the wreath. If your wreath doesn’t have a center holder, take a glass holder and place in the center of the wreath.
Be very careful; watch it like a hawk while it’s burning because it can be a fire hazard, especially if there are little ones around.
There is something special about Advent which means waiting, preparation, for that holiest of days. We seem to get so caught up in all of our Christmas preparations. We tend to get so busy with meetings, exercises in school, plays, concerts, parties that along the way we almost forget the spiritual meaning of the Christmas season.
The Advent Calendar is another way of preparing for the holidays and is the one thing that is so meaningful for children. They can be purchased at many shops, especially religious stores. If you purchase the one that has the “doors” on certain days before Christmas and you have placed a small gift behind it, the children get so excited but also realize how many more days there are until that big holiday. There are those that can be kept from year to year to enjoy or there are the paper ones with the inexpensive gifts placed behind dates. Having this item in the home helps keep the kids toned down a bit during this festive season.
With just the few things going on and knowing that pace will quicken and get more hectic and frantic, is it any wonder that we must make ourselves stop at least each weekend for the wreath and days for the calendar and remember what the Advent season really means? Think about having either an Advent Wreath or Calendar at your house. It gives the children the real meaning of Christmas.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
By Carol WeimerThanksgiving is just a week away.
The holiday has changed over the years.
Fewer and fewer families have persons who remember how Thanksgiving was celebrated before World War II.
I remember my family, along with my grandparents, would spend Thanksgiving at one of my great aunt’s home. There were quite people gathered, small children included. It seems that there was always so much food, so many more courses than today, but perhaps I’m wrong. At least it seemed so at the kids’ table as we waited for all the courses to be served so we could eat the special dessert with lots of sugar.
Usually an adult would be in charge of keeping us quiet and being sure we ate what was placed before us. But we had to stay at the table as long at the adults, who seemed to have lots of conversation going as they ate slowly, while we were eager to go outside to play with our cousins.
Back then table conversation was important and meaningful because there wasn’t football to watch; television hadn’t been invented yet. There was a radio in the house, but wasn’t protocol to have on while at the table. The discussions were boring and we would fidget hoping to leave the table soon.
On my most memorable Thanksgiving, the adults began discussing what the after-dinner activity should be.
One of the boys at the kids’ table started singing “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go...” and was reprimanded for singing at the table. But, one of the younger adults at the grownup table stood up and continued singing the well-known Thanksgiving song.
Then it began. Most arose, and a huge chorus of men and women joined in and and we all headed for the parlor where the piano was. Fortunately there were several who could play and one song led to another and kids and all went through a repertoire of hymns, Christmas songs (“Up on the Housetop”) went over big and then on to singing rounds.
It seems as if the old and young had a common bond in the sing-along and the singing went on after dark and the women finally left to clean up the delicious meal all had enjoyed.
Can you imagine suggesting such entertainment today following a dinner on a holiday especially Thanksgiving or New Year’s? In some homes TV trays are used to enjoy the meal without missing a play in the football game. Would the younger folks even know some of the songs? How may families have a piano or even a piano or even someone who can play one these days? I’m not criticizing, I’m just stating facts.
However you celebrate, enjoy the holiday with your family.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
By Carol WeimerMany people shop on Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving to get themselves into the spirit of the holidays.
Many just HAVE to do it. I have friends who have their lists made, their alarm clocks set for four in the morning in order to get the head start on all of the bargains that are advertised. Some don’t want to buy the door-busters, they just want to be there when the doors open and they can rush with the other folks into the store. It seems to be in their blood.
I have a few pointers or advice on how I shop.
Start your list with names, color likes, sizes. Use a large sheet of paper, preferably colored, you can find it easier in your purse. Small pieces have a tendency to get lost or set aside and you don’t discover until you need it again. Jot down ideas opposite each name; try not to go shopping without something in mind.
Sizes can be easily obtained from grandmothers or mothers. They make a business of knowing all of the family members’ sizes, especially at this time of year.
If you are going shopping, rise early, eat a hearty breakfast and be there before the stores open. I have found that people gather an hour before the doors open, so if you are early you can park close to the entrance, making it easier to put your purchases in the trunk. That is if you are successful in obtaining what you planned to purchase. I try to do most of my shopping that one day, which means I’m there for the whole day. I always save my shopping bags from the various stores and use them the next time I plan to go shopping by taking several so that I don’t have to empty any when I take some to the car.
By arriving early you save time, too, because you find the stores are not crowded, you can easily grab a sales person. You won’t be standing in long lines at the cash register. If you can’t go shopping early, try shopping at weird times - many have learned as I have that the 4-7 p.m. hours are good, everyone is home to dinner at that time or just getting out of work. Saturday nights also seem to be a good time, when there doesn’t seem to be so many shopping. The stores that remain open all night are a possibility and also evenings on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday you seem to be able to find space to park. I guess those people are the ones that have shopped on Saturday and Sunday and are all tired out.
Have a special drawer at your house or a particular bag or box that is delegated for ALL receipts. I have the sales clerks put receipts in all of the bags I purchase and when I finally get around to remove the purchase, the receipt goes into the bag that I use for receipts; that way, when I’m asked by the person who might need it to exchange one of my gifts, I have it. That saves so much time and makes exchanges so much simpler. It seems there is always someone who needs a receipt.
Also, if you plan on shopping more than half a day, you will need something to put back from that early breakfast to replenish your energy. Remember to eat early, like shortly after 11 or 11:30 a.m. If you wait, you will never get anything to eat as the lines in the food court or restaurants are so long you can drop from hunger and lose an hour’s time of shopping.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
By Carol Weimer
Some of the china was new to you when you started keeping house, and some might be hand-me-downs going back generations. These heirlooms will be passed along to the next generation.
Some of those without heirlooms are manufacturing their own and shopping garage sales for someone else’s antique items. We’ve mentioned before old time photos of ancestors are turning up on living room and den walls. Some of these ancestors belong to the family, while others have been purchased at auctions or garage sales and “claimed” as ancestors. Who would question if that was Grandfather or Uncle Ned?
How often have you gone through your own photo albums that were put together by one of your relatives, but never identified who the folks in the pictures were? Aren’t we all to blame for this? Printed snapshots are becoming extinct anyway. Now with telephones that take pictures to be viewed on your computer, you don’t need the expense of having them printed.
It’s called modern technology and it’s great.
But to those who don’t want phony photos, there are other ways of having heirlooms. You can hand-craft your own and pass them along. Quilting has become popular and almost everyone who can thread a needle can do it. There groups that meet each week to quilt. In one community there is a circle of ladies who making lap robes for elderly people in hospitals, assisted living residents and nursing homes. Some are called prayer quilt robes that are accompanied by a card with a prayer on it. What a thoughtful gesture.
The patterns of some of the quilts have been handed down from generation to generation and while the material may be new, the pattern is an heirloom. There is plenty of time if you start now to create your own quilt for Christmas gift giving to your son or daughter or favorite niece. You can also stitch one up for your bedspread. There are all kinds of calico now available to make replicas of granny’s quilt.
For the men who might want to pass along heirlooms of their own and don’t sew and are handy with carpenter tools, there are patterns of the olden toys to make complete with kits to supply wheels, and other parts to toys used by boys in the 1890s.
They are reproductions, but in 25 years they will be the beginnings of an heirloom if the gift is given to one who plays with it carefully so it can be kept to become an heirloom.
I have given wooden toys that I purchased at craft shows to my small boys that are relatives, and while they show some wear and tear that is expected, they are now 25 and 30 years old and are sitting on shelves in their bedrooms and will one day be given to their children to either play with or put on display as show pieces.