Tag Archives: Christmas

The Treasures of Christmas

Poinsettia 3

Janoski’s Poinsettias- So Beautiful

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

So here we are in the “in between” week, the week between Christmas and New Year’s that gives us a chance to catch our breath. It’s a good time for rest, relaxation, and yes, reflection. Maybe you’re with family, friends, and your children. Maybe you have time off from work and are taking a well deserved break.

I did a lot of entertaining the last few days. My cousins are here from New York, my sisters are both in, and my (soon to be born) granddaughter’s other grandma made a visit to Pittsburgh to spend Christmas with us. Talk about blessings. Jess’ mom Ann brought me this oh-so-cool gift of special M&M’s with my son and Jessica’s picture on them (no kidding). They were even in this box with little feet on them.

Holiday M&M's

Is This Adorable or What?

I am looking forward to getting to know Ann and Jessica’s family better in the coming years. A new child is so bonding and we will all have Penelope’s best interests at heart as we go forward. She is due on January 9, 2016 (my son’s 30th birthday ironically) but really, she could come at any time. We are anxiously awaiting her arrival.

What are the treasures of Christmas for me this year? It was quality time with my husband’s family on Christmas Eve. Then Christmas Day with my kids, cousins, sister and husband, Jessica and Ann, and especially another holiday with my mom. She never fails to keep up with it all, staying up late, getting up early, and always ready for whatever we want to do. I tease her about the planning we do- the food briefings for Christmas were months ago- but it’s all in jest. Really, her entertaining skills were my basis for what I do today. 🙂

The true treasure was keeping the origin of Christmas in my heart despite the rush and commercial tugs of the holiday. It was about coming back to center, recognizing and honoring what this holiday truly means. I wrote a post about the Navitiy icon for the Orthodox Christian Network and it was even an education for me. That is the great thing about writing for them. I learn in the process too.

I want to wish you a very happy New Year and thank you for all your love and support this year. I am truly blessed with such a beautiful group of family and friends. It makes my life so rich.

Christmas Morning 2015

Sunrise Christmas Morning 2015

 

Please follow and like us:
998

Celebrate Me Home

My son John and I, Christmas Day

My son John and I, Christmas Day, Photo by Christina Machuca

How was your Christmas? I hope you had a chance to be with loved ones and the special people in your life.

Did you travel? Are you home?

I think wherever we are on Christmas Day, that is home. Home is where we can put our feet up, sip a toddy or a good cup of coffee and eat one of our aunt’s delicious cookies.

Home is where our dog is, our children are and the fireplace is lit. There is laughter and music, jokes and good times.

We cherish those we are with and miss the ones who are gone. Our heart breaks a bit but is mended by the knowlege that their memory lives on in our soul forever and ever.

I found this video of one of my favorite songs and it is my Christmas card to you! Blessings to you my friend, for the rest of this year and the year to come! 

Please follow and like us:
998

Far From Perfection

Christmas Tree

So Jim tells me the emergency room (where he works) has been swamped the last couple of days with all kinds of non urgent cases. I wonder if it’s the stress of the holidays and maybe the dis-EASE born of pressure, overspending, and overeating that most of us are not even aware of. Plus it’s a full moon. Always a factor for consideration.

Used to be I could never get Christmas quite perfect enough. There would always be some small thing I was unhappy about- my own presents, not enough money for everything- you name it and there in would lay my dis-ease. Over the years, I’ve had to get over myself and my quest for perfection in everything. It’s just too much work.

When I was in the big throes of menopause a few years ago, I honestly wanted to check into the Hyatt during the days of Christmas. My responsibilities (or my perception of them) so overwhelmed me I didn’t know how I was going to get through it all. I didn’t want to take medication; I wanted to figure out how to manage without a meltdown. I did it and I have my family to thank for it.

I divided up food obligations and asked for help. We ate out a couple of times or ordered pizza when I wasn’t up to cooking. We rolled up in old blankets on the couch instead of matching sheets and comforters. I got through those hot flashes by easing myself into a humbler, less complicated existence.

Also important is my conclusion that God loves me no matter my flaws. My failed dessert, my dusty house, my occasional impatient words to my husband or kids- thank goodness I am forgiven all of it. I am not unique in the sense of my suffering and the sooner I get over that, the better off I am.

My holidays are not entirely stress free now but they are much better. Years ago I saw a close friend of mine react so calmly in the face of a hostess calamity. She had been through the death of her husband only a few years before. We were outside in her yard and a huge table filled with potluck dishes decided then and there that it wasn’t equipped to handle such a load. Down that table came, crashing to the ground and with it, all those donations of salad and dessert. I watched as my friend calmly finished what she was doing (at the other end of the yard) and allowed her friends to grab and handle the mess. What an example she set for me.

People who have been through the wringer emotionally, financially and otherwise, can sometimes achieve a level of acceptance and serenity about life that serves as an example to the rest of us. Allowing myself the opportunity to work through the great pain and dis-ease of wanting perfection but falling far from it, is the best gift I can give myself.

How are you handling the pressure this holiday season? What have you let yourself off the hook for?

Please follow and like us:
998

Welcome Christmas!

DSC_0666

Dear Friend,

Today is Christmas! No matter where you are, no matter what you are doing, have joy in your heart and warmth for your fellow man and woman.

I searched for a good Christmas poem (tried to write one myself but poet I am not!) and this beautiful winter poem is the one I finally settled upon to share with you.

Love, Joanne

Glorious Winter

by Theodora (Theo) Onken

Come, oh most glorious Winter
Be quick to lay your silence down
Blanket us with your white coverlet
And i will wear my Green Christmas gown…
We will revel in your snowflakes-
Delight in a skate upon your iced over pond
Build forts and ramparts with much glee
Form a White Winter Bond…;
Come, oh most glorious Winter
We welcome your haunting White Noise…
All your white lanes all aglitter
Trees branches weighted-with White Winter Poise;
All agleaming and crisp making…
Comes thru the Decembers quick air
Completely dressed up in your Winter White
Oh, most Glorious White Winter, so fair!

Merry Christmas my friend!

DSC_0661

Please follow and like us:
998

Unwrapping Joy

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” ― Marianne Williamson

JOYI meet with a faith based group of close friends a couple of times a month. During the holidays, we share in a special event where we get together, have yummy snacks and unwrap a small gift.

Inside of every gift is a WORD. Yes, a word. This word is always something meaningful. This year, when I opened my gift, my word was JOY.

Now, I have to tell you that the night before this get together, I was not feeling Joy. As a matter of fact, I was feeling a bit of anxiety over a family issue that I was not sure about. I did not sleep well that night and said a small prayer in the morning for guidance and strength.

When I opened my gift and saw Joy, I felt immense peace. This meant to me that no matter what the conditions around me, God wants me to feel Joy this holiday season. I also took it to mean that I should rejoice and be glad in what is present in my life, because truly, I am blessed.

churchAfter that event, I started to see the word Joy everywhere. It was mentioned several times in a book I read that night. The next day when I pulled into the parking lot at work, there was “Unwrapping Joy” written on the marquee at the nearby church! Also I stopped at a retail store for a few gifts and JOY was actually an ornament on the Christmas tree. Joy was everywhere.

Though there is always something that can cause us a heavy heart, it is important we remember to breathe, live, celebrate and be joyous.

May you be joyous in these days leading up to Christmas! What is bringing you Joy in your life today?

Please follow and like us:
998

The Most Memorable Christmas

Do you have a Christmas that stands out in your mind?

In all of my Christmases past, there is one that stands out the most. I want to tell you about it….

Michelene and John opening their presents!

Michelene and John opening their presents!

It was about 24 years ago or so. I don’t remember the exact year. Jim was in nursing school and I was working as a sales manager for a home party company.

December was never a big month for sales and Jim, due to his schooling, was not working. Christmas was looking pretty gloomy for our young family. Michelene was probably 5 years old, John was maybe 2.

One day, two weeks before Christmas, Jim came home from school with news. He had applied for a scholarship months before and lo and behold, he (we!) was considered the neediest of all the students.

I think the check was for around $800. It was perfect. I paid some bills, bought some presents, and we bought a Christmas tree. 

It was not a fancy Christmas but we were provided for. We had everything we needed.

Why does this Christmas stand out in my mind? Maybe because it was my own little miracle. Maybe because I had faith that everything would work out ok.

It is a lesson that even whenever things can seem their gloomiest, there is a flicker of light somewhere that is burning bright. We only need look for the light and it will be there.

In this holiest of times, I hope you remember to look for the light.

Is there a Christmas that stands out in your mind? Tell me about it!

Please follow and like us:
998

All Wrapped Up Pretty with a Bow

Beautiful Bows by Karen Appleton

So Thanksgiving is over (poof!) and now it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to Christmas. I didn’t participate in any Black Friday events (did you?) because frankly, I’m just not into the hoopla. And, my list is not all that long. Let me explain.

We pull names on my husband’s side of the family so Jim and I only have two presents to buy there. My kids are older now and frankly, we’re just not into lavish presents. Plus we are still helping our kids in other ways financially. How much is too much (or not enough) when it comes to your kids (or grand kids for that matter)?

As I work on my spirituality, I don’t want Christmas to be only about shopping and gifts. It just seems too superficial. In my early days as a new mom, the holidays were about lots of presents, cooking, decorating and getting exhausted. I usually got a terrible cold when New Year’s was over, likely from all the self induced stress I put myself through.

Last year, I tried something new. I took each of my kids to a music event. John and I went to see Handel’s Messiah, and Michelene and I went to see Jackie Evancho. This way, I gave a larger gift- my time– and both kids responded in a positive way. Also, this gives me a chance to support local non profits like the CLO or Pittsburgh Symphony. So that is what I think I might do this year. A music or artistic event, a teeny bit of money and some socks. Everyone can always use warm socks.

I want to remember, most of all, that the holiday is about spending quality time with family and whatever is the reason for the season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, I think the ritual of eating and spending time together with family and friends, when accompanied by the symbolic significance of your holiday, is the synergy that makes holidays meaningful.

So my gift list this year isn’t too long. I kind of like it that way. I’m into wrapping my time up pretty with a bow and being with the ones I love.

(Thank you to Karen Appleton for her beautiful painting of Bows! Click on her name below the bows picture and visit her website!)

How do you feel about gift giving? Is it all about the presents or do you do something different? Fill me in!

Please follow and like us:
998

Christmas Expectations

Take a rest from expectations!

Christmas brings out the best and worst in me.

I like to organize, plan and execute the most perfect events. I like my presents to be carefully chosen and exquisitely wrapped. I like my cookies to be freshly baked and melt in your mouth buttery. I watch shows on how to do it all; I read articles and email blasts on the greatest holiday gift ideas, the perfect way to use leftover turkey, etc. etc…..

That said, I can also have the world’s worst case of holiday depression from trying to do it all and expecting others to know how I want it done. I am better than I used to be in this regard (oh, the perfectionism!), but I can still use a bit more work in the whole realistic/unrealistic thinking arena.

My husband likes to say that an expectation is a premeditated resentment. I think this hits the nail on the head! Better to go with the flow, let things happen as they will and mind my own business. If I let go my expectations towards others and myself, my life is much happier and easier.

Merry Christmas my friend!

Please follow and like us:
998

Feeling a little marshmalloweeee…..

English: Marshmallows

Feeling alittle fluffy!

Lately I’ve been feeling like a marshmallow. You know, kinda soft and fluffy. Is this a good thing? Well, maybe it is ok if you’re a marshmallow but probably not if you’re a human.

With the holiday just around the corner, I decided that all I can really do is try and keep the marshmallow-ness of me at a regular softness and size. I am certainly not of the little tiny marshmallow genre at the moment. I thankfully would not call myself one of those giant marshmallows either and that’s good because they are so darn hard to toast. Getting those warm on the inside while toasting well on the outside is really a challenge.

I have a craving this morning for Rice Krispies Marshmallow Treats so I may just make myself a batch for Christmas! Have a sweet and soft kind of day!

 
Please follow and like us:
998

Christmas….Keeping it simple

English: Plateful of Christmas Cookies

Keep it simple!

I am a self-professed over doer. Like anyone these days, I want to keep my job, get everything done at home, be prepared for what may happen next, decorate my house beautifully for Christmas, make everyone a batch of delicious cookies; the list goes on and on.

What I realize of course is that I set myself up for my own impossible goals. Then, thankfully, my sense of reason kicks in and I have my AH HA! moment. My consciousness reminds me ya can’t do it all!

Gone are the days (hopefully!) when my plate was never full enough for me. I was always thinking how much more can I possibly pack into my day? Even when I think I’m taking it easy I can challenge myself to look closer and question my own schedule. Can I snip a few things here or there? Squeeze in an extra nap? Cut back my Christmas list just a bit?

This year, I am paying a single mom to make cookies for me. Baking is not high up on the priority list for me and Jillian loves to bake. This isn’t costing me a fortune (I am rich in many ways but not when it comes to my pocketbook!) and I love this young girl I am giving this task to. We will both be winners on this one.

I am having a large crowd on Christmas Day for dinner. Last year, I insisted on using real dinnerware, silverware, etc. for 25 people. It was very nice of course but my plumbing almost backed up from all the dishes we washed. This year, it’s going to be beautiful paper plates, holiday paper napkins wrapped around good plastic silverware and easy food offerings (some pre-done!) that are easily warmed up.

The perfect Christmas does not have to be perfect. It can be a last minute guest, a batch of botched cookies that you laugh over, a chance to reconnect with an old friend. This year, I want my holiday to be more about relationships- I want to spend time with my family and friends that mean the most to me.

So for me this year, I’m open to whatever may come my way. Hopefully it will be a less intense, more deeply satisfying connection to the true meaning of Christmas.

Please follow and like us:
998