Bringing the Light into the Season

 

Today as I look around the studio and the women’s store I feel the season of Christmas fast approaching. Remembrance Day has passed and we are busy prepping for the holidays. Windows are glittering with white lights and shiny balls.

At night at home I have little lights on timers that come on at five until ten and when I come home in the evening they are waiting for me. I try to think of winter as a festival of light. I miss the early morning and evening light that came naturally in my window so I reinvent it with a little sparkle. I put small white lights on shelves to lighten up the long hours of darkness in my house studio. They make me feel cozy and warm.

Our windows in both shops are simple but they too focus on the warm white light that we need in winter. Georgina, Susan (30 Church Women’s Clothing) and Denise put the windows together today. Watching them really got me in the mood for this long season of celebration.

I just do not engage in all the negative hype we hear about Christmas. I think it is a miracle season. It is a time when we look outside of ourselves to help, or cherish others. I still see the beauty in giving and receiving gifts and love the symbolism of it. The wisemen brought frankincense and myrrh to the baby and it turns out, he too , already had everything. Gifts can be simple, joyous, and useful. We do not have to overburden anyone.  I love to give gifts.

I look forward to the little celebrations that people have.

The joy and comfort. The hope, peace, and charity that prevail at this time of year. It still makes me believe in possibility. It reminds me of the importance of faith.

It is our season. It is my season. Time to spread a little joy. Time to remember others’ kindness.

There is no way that I am going to diminish the beauty of this season. It is a celebration of birth. I want it. I want to share it. I want to celebrate it.

These months of darkness need a blessing.

And Christmas is just that, a chance to celebrate what we have, what we had, and what we hope for.

So the season starts, not with endless shopping, though I will do some of that.

Not with endless plans for fancy evenings and complicated foods.

It starts with a little white light in the window.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maritime Mary: Little Christmas Bears

Many years ago when I was experiencing a difficult pregnancy, my doctor ordered bed rest but did not offer much hope that the pregnancy would continue. A fierce determination raged in my heart as I felt so connected to this baby, wanted her so much to survive. 

I followed orders, rested and kept busy by spending some time stitching six little Christmas bears that were in a kit that I had purchased a year or so earlier. Each stitch was a labour of love for my little baby. 

All went well and we had a beautiful little girl, now a cherished adult. And every Christmas I make sure that those little bears find the perfect spot to remind us of the great fortune we received. This year, they are adorning an inside wreath. 

Really, those bears are just a few pieces of now faded felt, but they are so much more. They remind me of the sanctity and beauty of life and the fortune we were bestowed. 

   
   

Maritime Mary: I’ve Been Thinking

I’ve been thinking about Christmas. Yesterday I ventured up to the attic and took a few decorations downstairs. They got no further than the spare room. I just was not ready to decorate or string up some lights. 

I have also been thinking about Christmas baking and went as far as to purchase extra sugar, butter, chocolate and gumdrops. But so far, no baking has occurred. 

I have also pondered Christmas shopping. To date, much more list making than shopping has been accomplished. 

And then last night, as my Book Club was emerging into the night, we walked out into a light snowfall. It was beautiful and cold, and a wee bit inspiring. 

As I write, I am watching the sun just beginning to climb over the horizon and I see that the deck and grass do have a layer of fuzzy, airy snow. This I am sure will soon melt away but later today I may be inspired to bake or decorate or shop. Or maybe I’ll wait for the next snowfall to motivate me. 

   
 

Maritime Mary: Merry Christmas!

As Rita MacNeil’s CD, Now the Bells Ring, was playing in the background, I happily crossed off the last of my Christmas to do list today. The sun was attempting to make an appearance and my little world felt serene.

Soon my nest will be full, family will be together and company enjoyed. That’s the best part of the Christmas season, being with those we love and enjoying the traditions we bring forward.

In between now and then, there should be some time to sneak away with a book and plan the next hooking project. Contented!!

May your Christmas be what you need it to be. Merry Christmas to you!

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Catherine Bussiere: Christmas

December 21st
it’s hard to believe
I see the Santas here and there
a few decorations
but really walking around Barcelona
wearing a light shirt under a sunny sky
I don’t feel like Christmas is in a very few days

My son Sam joined us this week
we had said good bye to the hills of Provence
spent a day in Marseille
got off the bus really early one morning in the city of Gaudí
and a few days later Sam was here, on our door step
not in my computer talking to me on skype
but right there in front of me
sleepily standing between his brother and sister who picked him up at the airport
Could I possibly want anything else
my three babies for Christmas
my three adult babies
maybe that’s even more special

Barcelona is great and I should tell you all about it
but in a way
at this point in our trip
it is more like a shell that holds us all
a beautiful shell I must say
it is where we get together as a family for a precious amount of time
where we walk and talk
shop (mostly for food) and cook and drink
laugh and snuggle
where we just hang out and enjoy being together

it is precious isn’t it
once the kids grow up
once life takes us apart
when we all fly our own direction
to be able to take the time
make a pause
and reconnect with our dear ones

of course there’s always someone missing
make that a plural
my son’s fiancé
our moms and dads
brothers and sisters
nieces and nephews
the list goes on

But for what I have I am thankful

I wish you who may read this blog a happy Christmas
I wish you to spend time with anyone who is dear to you
may it be family or friend, make the best of it
Merry Christmas!

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Diane Krys: Memory Lane

IMG_7669Thanks to a few big boxes of Christmas decorations we uncovered during my parents’ downsizing, I’ve been on a trip down memory lane. Growing up, Mum always decked the house to the hilt. She draped handmade Christmas blankets on every chair to keep us cosy. We had Christmas centre pieces, doorknob hangers, advent calendars, Christmas card holders, and festive linens galore. Dad, my sister and I were in charge of the tree. It was always real and no matter how carefully we chose it there was an inevitable weird, sparse side we didn’t discover until the tree was half way decorated. And then there were the boxes of bright, delicate glass ornaments; the kind with the hand painting and indented centres; they’re still my favourites. The final touch was the tinsel. Strand by strand we would place it. Occasionally, I may have tossed a small clump or two- I’ve never liked things too perfect! The tree was flanked by “giant” plush Santas; there was a time when I remember they seemed as tall as me. There were elves, little bottle brush trees and a Christmas village that I loved to set up in a cloud of angel hair. When this transformation took place the air also filled with the sweet, spicy smells of lots and lots of baking. Everyday in December it seemed like we would come home from school and be greeted by wire cooling racks full of the day’s bounty. As a teenager this magical setting had the power to enchant me out of the basement where I usually holed up and actually hang out in the living room. For all this evocative stuff what I mostly remember is how warm and loving our home felt. Not unlike a lot of families,there were difficult times yet Mum knew how to carve out this special time and space to acknowledge the meaning of the season and be grateful for each other. Whether that means a simple star, evergreen bough or a houseful of decorations to you, I think it’s important to do what we need to do to find the meaning amongst the chaos and bring those we love close. The smallest gesture can create the most loving moment. This afternoon, I’m taking a few of these markers from our Christmas’past and doing a little bit of decorating on my parents’ mantle in their new condo. These decorations have been boxed up for so many years I think it’s time they sprinkled some of that love again.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Maritime Mary: Christmas is Coming!

Growing older does have its perks. As we are firmly into the festive month of December, I’ve noticed that among our friends and others our age, we do less shopping, more visiting and gathering, more Christmas.

We are more acutely aware of the needs of others, those without. We notice the Salvation Army kettles more, stop more often, appreciating those who give of their time to sit with it. We read of the Christmas for Kids Angel Tree campaign, the planning of the community Christmas dinner for the 25th, and the Christmas Cheer Box Drive which sees all the local churches working together. These and other projects are in full swing all round this town, this province, this country.

I am grateful to live in a community, where all around the spirit of Christmas is alive and vibrant. To give is to receive.

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Maritime Mary: Joy to the World

The stockings are hung and the ‘Holly and Ivy’ dishes are out. The halls are decked and ready. We need not dream of a ‘White Christmas as we have an abundance of snow.

Tonight my family will attend a Christmas Eve mass complete with pageant and then we will welcome friends for a small gathering. Simple traditions are the most treasured.

I am very thankful. Peace to you all. Merry Christmas!

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Maritime Mary: Gumdrop Cookies

Gumdrop cake or loaf was always something I baked at Christmas time. Then one year I paid attention and realized that I was the one consuming most of it. So it was time to stop the loaf! But still, part of Christmas baking has always been cutting up gumdrops, nice and sticky. I then decided to switch it up and make gumdrop cookies instead. That plan has worked well as everyone dips into the cookie jar for these.

These cookies are not going to win an award in the most attractive category but they are very tasty. My family likes soft cookies so I always try to undercook them a bit. They freeze really well so perhaps you can bake up a big batch or two and them hide them behind the frozen turkey. Good luck with that!

GUMDROP COOKIES
1 cup butter or margarine.
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 salt
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cups gumdrops, cut up (I use more.)

Cream butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and add vanilla.
Add remaining ingredients, mixing well. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. (Not too closely together as the spread.). Bake in 350 degree oven for 12 to 14 minutes. Let cookies sit on the sheet for a few minutes before removing. Makes 4 dozen.

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Maritime Mary: Sameness

Generally speaking, many of us are quite predictable. After numerous years here in our good Earth, we form habits, patterns.

I was thinking of this recently as my husband and I went downtown to view our annual Christmas parade. There was no discussion, we simply walked to Mansour’s Men’s Wear, as we always do. Surely there were less windy places we could have chosen on this bitterly cold night, but there are regulars who always gather there each year and that is where we stand as well. Mind you, we are all very aware that hot chocolate will be served inside the warm store. Keith had it all ready, as expected.

While I love to make frequent changes in my home, moving furniture and accessories, there is reassurance in the predictable, the sameness. With the approach of the Christmas season comes the traditions that so many of us relish. In the summer while at the cottage, it’s that same sandbar location that I gravitate to, in church, the right hand side, at the rink, section B.

We seek comfort in the familiar. We find our place.

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Maritime Mary: ‘Tis the Season

All it took was some friends, a few supplies, armloads of fresh pine and fir, holly complete with berries and some nice red dogwood. Those were the ingredients for a fun filled afternoon to create inexpensive beautiful swags to decorate our front doors for the Christmas season.

Swag making is more fun in a group. Sometimes it takes two to wire boughs together tightly. We trade off supplies, some purchased from the dollar store, pine cones and other gifts of nature. We drink tea, critique, laugh and admire.

And by the end of the afternoon, we proudly pick up our creations and go home to deck our doors.

And so, the season has begun.

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