Friday, December 14, 2012

Loving My “Christ Centered Christmas” Book

A few years before I met Roland,  I had gone into a Deseret Book Store in search of something.  Sharon Velluto was doing a book signing on her new book, “A Christ Centered Christmas” 

          I remember picking up a book and thumbing through it.  It looked interesting.  It was on sale as I recall.  I took it home and started reading it.

“How to Use this Book” – the very first words on the very first page.  “This book has been designed to satisfy the needs of all families {bold italics added} from those with small children to those whose children are grown, as well as singles and seniors . 
. . 
          How many times have I heard or read that . . . “and to all of those that are single, we love you as well” (though you are really not our main focus – we don’t want to exclude you – but these words will not be at all helpful to your current situation

          But it does!  Her book is seriously designed with everyone in mind.

          There are 24 devotionals that are designed to be as long or as short to cater to each individual or family needs and times.  I was so super impressed that the single person was not just mentioned – but embraced as well. 

          There are basically four sections – Devotionals, Optional Materials.  Cards and Activities, and Ornaments.

Illustated icons give the outline or theme on each devotional page


       In a nutshell: the jest of the 
       devotional outline

         The lesson

        Activity ideas (outlined in the 
        first section – detailed in the 
        activity section)

              Suggested song and scripture

              Stories are found in 
              optional materials

          I really like having an outline and being able to pull other resources that are available.  Not all the stories from the manual are among my favorites – but I especially enjoy the outlines and the activity suggestions.

          It’s NOT just a Christmas manual.  It’s a family home evening manual and resource manual to be enjoyed throughout the year – not just on Christmas!  It is such an awesome creation.  I actually ended up purchasing one for my sister-in-law for her birthday.  I don’t know if she’s used it near as much as I have.  My manual has actually taken some beatings during its life.

          I printed up the star ornament for the children in my primary class and we made them to go with our lesson.  But for the most part I really hadn’t done much with them until last year.  Jenna found excitement in creating a new ornament each day.  They continue to hang on our tree this year.

I have since adapted guidelines and themes for my own book with 24 sections and covers – instead of the four sections offered in “A Christ Centered Christmas” . I have my favorite stories and traditions and wanted to incorporate color and jacket protectors that can easily be removed or added to. And personalize it for me and my family. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gift Cards or Gift Giving

Anyone who knows me knows that gift cards ( for the most part) say, “I don’t care enough to be creative or to know you well enough to know what you really want.”  Anybody who truly knows me knows I loathe shopping.  I would rather have a useless gift that comes from the heart than a gift card.

I am probably in the minority as not everybody feels that way. I know my sister-in-law would much rather have the gift card than an item that she’s just going to exchange anyway.  At least two of my boys love receiving gift cards and being able to get what they want (with pants and shoes it’s just as well; they can’t just be purchased as they have to be fitted to their bodies)

For a while I refused to buy gift cards.  What does that say about me.  Giving someone a gift that I would never want for myself.  And yet how often do we buy or make things for people that we would never purchase or make for ourselves?

  Sending a gift card to a newlywed couple in another state is more convenient than putting a care package together.  And even though there is often joy at the receiving end of the package, will the contents really work for their wants or needs?

Gift cards at a shower or reception for newlyweds actually seems more acceptable for me than as a Christmas gift – as the couple may really be in need of something more practical than the nine toasters that made it to the gift table. 

Gift cards also make great stocking stuffers for the fuss budgets who are hard to shop for and don’t mind shopping on their own.  Jenna feels quite grown up when she has an opportunity to use a gift card.  They are convenient for both the giver and the receiver.  But still, not everybody appreciates them. 
          I like surprises.  I always have.  There for a while when mom would ask me what I wanted for Christmas I would always answer, “To be surprised.” And I rarely was.  My sister-in-law asked the same question last year after we had drawn names.  I think Sunny is creative enough to come up with something on her own – which she did – as she didn’t go for any of my suggestions.  And that really made me like it all the more.

          I could never find the right words to express what I was feeling though until one day when Roland had returned home from the work Christmas party with a note from his boss which included the words I was feeling.  And so I quote a part of that letter because I agree.

          “Selecting the right gift takes time and thought.  In the words of one “expert” on gift-giving, ‘The art of giving a gift is that it must come from your genuine desire to acknowledge the kindness and value this person has shown you throughout the year. 

“‘A gift should be about honoring something you share and value with this person.  When you don’t know someone well and can’t really know what they would like, then you should give them something you, yourself, like.’ She suggests sharing one of your own values with them.”
          After reading that, I thought, “Wow.  That is exactly what I want to say.” Well, perhaps not exactly, but close enough.  The words convey how I feel.

          As it turned out, though the gift was one that was truly a part of the boss’ character, it really wasn’t something that nearly anyone in the office would purchase for his or herself.  However Roland could totally see Biff being thrilled with the item, and as we never know what to get Biff anyway, the office gift became a recycled gift for Biff.  And he loves it and is getting way more use out of it than we ever could.

My youngest boy is into recycling his gifts.  Perhaps we’re all guilty of that.  There is usually not so much thought put into recycled gifts other than getting rid of it and convenient self from having to go shopping or creating or whatever.  But I still think I’d rather receive a recycled gift than a gift card.  If I don’t like it, I can always recycle it next year.

We receive gift cards from Roland’s family.  Understandable.  They live in another state.  One sister in my ward gives out gift cards to her 30 grandkids and great grandkids.  Also understandable.  How does one find the time for personalizing that many gifts  - especially with her given health?

I do like the idea of still being able to personalize many gift cards as so many places will give a variety of choices on what your gift card looks like.

          So there you have it.  For what it’s worth, this is my opinion: People are different.  We need to focus on the people and not so much on the gifts.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Power of Prayer

          Christmas is the season for miracles.  But miracles happen everyday.  Not just at Christmas time.   

          Often my mom and I would drive to Bakersfield to see my brother and watch him perform in whatever current play he was in.

          One February when we happened to be on our way down, it was not the greatest of weather.  Snowing hard.  Blizzard almost.  It was ugly.

          We had stopped off in Nephi to get something to eat.  Mom asked if we should check into a hotel and continue our journey the next day.  I left it totally up to her – for I was for getting off the freeway two exits passed our home town – which is less than ten miles.  I definetly wouldn’t be driving in that kind of weather.  But mom opted to go on.

          Going through the canyon was worse part of our journey. We probably should have gotten a room – but than I wouldn’t have this incredible experience to share:

          The snow was falling so hard and it was dark outside and the headlights seemed to make this small star-shaped outline and was our only window to see not too far ahead.  Sometimes we didn’t even know if we were actually on the road or not.

Every once in a while a car would pass us.  Mom would speed up in order to follow the lights from the other car.  But then we’d have to slow down again.  If an animal ran out into the road, we would not see it.  Besides we couldn’t do over seventy in that particular car as it would sound as though it would fall apart.

 At least three cars had passed us and mom would speed up and then slow down again as we watched them disappear.  They were going too fast.  How could anybody possibly drive that fast in that kind of weather?  It was as though we were the only car being snowed upon.

          And then out of nowhere a truck appeared.  The driver guided us through the canyon.  We followed the lights until we were in the clear – and the truck was gone.  Vanished – like it had been beamed into the cold wet sky. 

          The truck was a miracle – whether real or imaginary – it had been a blessing.  An answer to thousands of prayers that were given in our behalf.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saving Lids and Christmas Trees

           I recall one year it was announced in Relief Society that we had been given the opportunity for submitting a tree to the festival of trees and were asked to save our frozen juice lids as we would be using them for making ornaments to decorate the tree.  We had an enrichment activity later on in the month making tin punch ornaments.

          I continued saving juice lids long after the holidays.  What a cute idea.  I tried making tin punch ornaments several years later with Roland’s two oldest girls.  As I recall, they didn’t turn out too great.  Still I kept the lids.  My scouting calling was too short lived for tin punch introduction.

Jenna found the lids when she was two or three. She’d play with them and count them and call it her money.  It was cute.  It definitely provided inexpensive entertainment.  So that was cool.

I love Jenna’s enthusiasm.  And what she perceives as beautiful.

When Roland and I were married, the boys had a Checkers game board with Santa Clause and Christmas tree pieces.  Over the years, the pieces would start disappearing and it wasn’t practical to try and play checkers. 

When Jenna was three or four, we had gone to a second hand store and she had fallen in love with a pink vanity set that I was not planning on buying – but the joy and enthusiasm and price made it worthwhile.

I remember coming in her room to help her find something and opened up a plastic drawer from her vanity and found it full of Christmas trees that were left over from the checker game the boys had.  It still makes me smile when I think of it.  She had to have them because they were “very beautiful”

Oh, to be that age again!

Monday, December 10, 2012


          I have absolutely LOVED eggnog since I was a kid.  Last year was actually the first year that I’ve not LOVED – it just isn’t as good as I remember.  Are the dairy product brands cheating us out of an ingredient perhaps?  Cutting costs in today’s economy?  I don’t see how.  The price of eggnog seems to be given the same value as gold.  I mean it’s always been more pricy than your milk or milk products – which also have increased in cost.  But I’m not even enjoying the “gold”

          You would think with its ritzy price, I would savor every drop and make it count.  But the truth is I’m NOT enjoying it.  Or rather I did not enjoy it last year and have not even bothered with it this year.

Could be my taste buds are warped?  I’ve always heard that smell a large percentage of what you taste and my smell has definitely gone.   I had actually learned the smell/taste thing in grade school – but that was many moons ago and it may not stand true today (for example, Pluto was considered to be the coldest planet when I was in school;   understand thatnow Pluto is NOT considered to be a planet at all – go figure)

          Even though my mouth is disappointed by the eggnog taste today,  I am equally grateful for the not-so-awesome taste as it really isn’t in the budget nor has it been for quite some time. And now I don’t have to feel like I am missing out.  I had eggnog twice last year (one at my mom’s and a one quart reputable brand that my husband and I purchased as a treat) On December 4th of last year, it left a nasty taste in my mouth.  Hmmm

          I know Corey still loves it.  But I think the quality of eggnog has gone down with the rest of the economy.  As I have said earlier, I haven’t even tasted egg nog this year.  And I don’t think I’m missing out anymore (unless BYU creamery does one.  I’d be so willing to try that)


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mark’s Very Own Stocking

          He entered another house in a countless number of foster homes.  It was mid December and his new foster mom asked what he would like for Christmas.  His request was simple.  Never before had he been in any home long enough to even celebrate Christmas.  He wanted his own stocking – which Diane had planned on getting anyway.

          They went out that night and allowed him to choose his very own stocking and made sure his name got written at the top.  He beamed for days and asked for permission to take his sock with him to school.  For him it represented a sense of belonging, something he hadn’t felt for almost ten years.

          His biological mother had abused him and who knows how many others?  He had been recycled in the system so many times it wasn’t any wonder that he understood what it was to feel neglected and abandoned.

          The first time I remember seeing him, Mark had a tremendous speech impediment as he had an obvious stutter.  He was hard to understand, I thought.   It must have required great patience on Tim and Diane’s part.  But they raised him.  They made him feel secure.  They made him feel whole.  He got to the point when it didn’t bother him to be hugged or touched appropriately – whereas before he’d been majorly uncomfortable about it.

          What a huge difference this couple had made in Mark’s life.  He was reared in the LDS Church and had many positive influences – but there were some who still continued to have problems with him and would often make fun of him and his speech.  There were a tremendous amount of obstacles that he was able to embrace or allow to work to his advantage.

          In time he learned to speak without stuttering.  When he turned eighteen, and the state cut off financial ties for him, he remained a part of Tim and Diane’s family.  They loved him and he loved them.

          True story.  Except for the names.  There are thousands of Marks in this world.  How fortunate we are to have the many who are like the Tims and Dianes among us who can wipe out the negative and insert the positive.  I feel so blessed to have been part of their lives myself – even if it was only for a short time.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Just Make the Best of It

          You can’t always control the outcome of what you’ve planned – but you can control your attitude towards the outcome.


          You are driving your family to your in-laws to spend the holidays.  The car breaks down, or the weather prevents you from arriving to your destination at designated time.  What do you do?

a.    Mope about it

b.    Make the best of the situation

I would hope that if it was my family that all of us would select the answer b.  Okay, so things didn’t work out to our expectations.  We can still create positive memories.

We can stop off at the motel and learn more about the owners and/or staff that is working.  We can help them to have a more memorable Christmas.  We can sing Christmas carols.  We can tell stories.  We can have meaningful conversations.

I recall the power going out one year on Christmas day.  It was one of the most memorable Christmases for many.  Families were forced to come together because they couldn’t depend on electrical entertainment.  One could not drive anywhere.

We had gone exploring just to see how many streets were without power.  Lots!  Not many people venturing out in the snow.  Enough to wonder the same thing we were. 

Our power returned after about 8 hours or so.  Bill and Kayla were still without.  We offered for them to come stay with us.  Their power returned as they were getting some overnight bags together.  But there were some that were without for three days.

And then there are those who’ve had to change their plans due to elements – such as Sandy.

Another example: All of the children have shown up for Christmas dinner except for one – of course you are concerned – but try focusing on the ones who are there instead of dwelling over the one who’s not thus creating a worrisome holiday for everybody else.

Attitude can make or break how one may perceive Christmas.  What memories do you want to hold onto?  What memories will and do you cherish?

Keep safe this holiday and may your attitude make this the best Christmas ever!

Friday, December 7, 2012

What Makes the Reindeer Fly

         At the end of last month, Jenna (mentioned in this post) decided that she and I would each write a story.  This is the one I came up with:

          Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a colony of umbas.  Now “what is an umba?” you may ask. An umba was a creature so small that he was overlooked for many years.

The umbas lived in an enchanted forest filled with candy canes and gumdrops. The candy canes, to them, were the size of trees.  And the gumdrops could be sat upon, the way a human might sit on a large rock.

          One day an elf entered the forest where the umbas lived.  The elf had been sent on a mission by Santa Clause himself.  He had been given the field assignment of finding a treat that could be left in the stockings of good boys and girls.

The umbas hid from the elf because he was so much larger than they and they were afraid that he was a harmful giant. After all he had been crushing parts of their forest with his feet.

          When the hungry elf looked beneath his feet when he heard a loud crunch, he bent over and picked up a broken candy cane.  He looked around and noticed several candy canes and gumdrops.

“What were these things?” he wondered. 

He sniffed and tasted.  Oh, what deliciousness.  He bent over even further to pick up a gumdrop.  It had a different taste and texture but it too was delicious. The elf removed a large pouch from around his shoulder and proceeded to fill it full of candy canes and gumdrops.  The umbas were devastated.  How in the world would they ever protect their land and homes?

          When the elf returned to the north pole with his newfound candy collection, Santa was impressed.  He recruited a team of elves to gather what was left – and to take with them a specialist who could determine how to replenish what was removed.

          The umbas meanwhile had prepared a way to protect themselves from the evils of the elves.  They fought to save their land – but because they were so teeny, they were unnoticed by the elves – who continued to pick candy canes and gumdrops and drop them into their bags.

          Many umbas returned to Santa’s castle that day – for they had remained clinging onto candy canes and gumdrops that had been picked.  Being at the North Pole was a whole new adventure for them.  They had moved themselves into the barn where the reindeer lived.

          Now, before the umbas had moved in, Santa’s reindeer were just like any other deer.  They didn’t fly.  But gradually they learned how.  You see, the umbas carried a magic inside of them which was passed on to the reindeer who had eaten the entire population of umbas.  And so even though we don’t have umbas anymore, it is through them that the reindeer were given the power to fly.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Pageants

          Many cultures, communities and families reenact the nativity story found in the Bible (Luke 2 and Matt 1 and 2)
          My mom’s neighbor from across the street has always had a Christmas pageant from as far back as I can remember.  As she had four boys, I would always play Mary – until gradually other families were invited in and the role of Mary was passed off to other girls.

          Over the years, my neighbors have been blessed with many grandsons – but not many granddaughters.  The role of Mary had gone to my niece – who (unlike me) quite frankly had become weary of the playing Mary every year. 
          The last year I remember when Ellen had played Mary was the year our neighbors got their first granddaughter.  There were four children born in the family that year.  Their granddaughter, twin grandsons and Patrick and Sunny’s youngest. Four babies to choose from to fill the role of Jesus.  Ellen started out holding one of the twins.

          I had to leave during the pageant.  As we were leaving I heard our neighbor comment about the crying twin.  It was something along the lines of: “Well he isn’t being a very reverent Jesus” 

When we returned, I noticed that Ellen was holding her sister who was almost twice the size of the twins.  By then the wise men had already joined the scene.  I thought it was appropriate that “Jesus” was larger than newborn – as he would have been in real life when theyarrived”  

          I love stories of unique spins that result from one or more who is performing in the Christmas pageant such as thisone  or this cute story.

           My favorite part of the Christmas pageant is singing all the songs that have been written and used with the nativity theme.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

of course we have to have MUSIC

          I LOVE music.  I love to sing – though I haven’t been blessed with a great singing voice nor have I done much to change that.  I’m certain that Corey has a much larger music collection than I.  And probably a larger variety of music.  Corey does have a gift.  And so does his partner.  Oh – the awesomeness!

          I have instrumentals and vocals.  I have children’s music.  Pop music.  Oldies. Temporary Christian.  Even a few country songs (just a few though). But all of those put together don’t add up to the great number of music I have collected for the Christmas season.  I LOVE Christmas songs.  I love the familiar traditional songs.  I like the original ones that have not yet been popularized.  I love the ones about Santa.  About the festivities.  About the snow.  About celebrations.  And most importantly, the ones about Jesus. 

          Spirit often speaks to spirit as I listen to the words.  Singing along with the more spiritual tunes of the season doesn’t often come easy – as so often my eyes leak which makes my mouth blubber and so I have to just listen.

          One of the first Christmas CDs I purchased was Julie Andrews.  On the album was the song, “I wonder as I wander” – which I could sing along with until I got Vanessa Williams and the tears would flow so hard when I tried to sing with her that I actually can’t sing with either one.

          I’ve always loved “Carol of the Bells” and am intrigued by each version. I haven’t disliked the song “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” but it hasn’t been among my favorite.  Yet I have in my collection four distinct various versions of this song.  And I absolutely LOVE each one.

          I love Trisha Yearwood’s “It Wasn’t His Child” Dan Fogelberg’s “The First Christmas Morning”  Michael W. Smith’s “Emmanuel”, Steven Curtis Chapman’s  “Emmanuel”, Michael W. Smith’s “child in a manger”, Vanessa William’s “Gracious Good Shepherd” David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s “Peace on Earth” (but then again “Little Drummer Boy” has been my favorites Christmas song for years and Mannheim Steamroller’s “Christmas Lullaby”

  The list goes on and on.  I keep a couple of cassettes in the car to play when I tire of the stations spinning out the same 24 hits each year.  Come on!  There are enough songs, enough versions, and enough artists that really – a new song could be played every ten minutes in any given day and they wouldn’t have to repeat any of them! 

Bless the wonders of YouTube that assists us with entertainment to play and share.  I hope you enjoy these two as much as I do. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Jesus Sock: and Other Traditions

          Each of us has traditions.  Many are the same.  Some vary. Some get lost.  Some don’t work.  A tradition may be carried on for generations. Some may brush away.

          One of my favorite Christmas books is “God’s Vitamin C for the Christmas Spirit”  which shares stories, ideas, traditions and reasons.  One of the thoughts I read was written by Christi Anne Shepeard in which she shares a tradition of “The Jesus Sock”

          The story unfolds that there is an extra sock in her possession – one that doesn’t match the other socks selected for each family member that year.  She decided to make it a sock for the Savior in which her family would write letters and insert them into the sock – every year. 

          I thought that sounded like a cool tradition – one I wanted to incorporate into my brand new family.  But only Randy and I seemed serious about keeping the tradition and wrote faithfully for three years or so.  And I continued by myself for a while.  But then I seemed to lose track as well.  But our thoughts and words to Jesus are pretty much all year around without the sock.

Gifts  -         One of my favorite traditions is to actually take turns watching one another as we open our gifts individually.  When everyone is tearing into their own gifts they miss out on the joy of watching one another – I think.  I don’t know when it started for the family I grew up with, but I remember doing it that way more than not.  And that’s how we did it after I married into my new family.

          I thought the greatest Christmas would be if we could milk unwrapping packages all day.  I tried incorporating thoughts and scripture or singing carols between each gift.  That lasted only one Christmas.  But I finally got my wish when Jenna was a year and a half.

          Oddly enough her sisters actually spent Christmas Eve night with us – but Roland was instructed to have them home by 1:00 on Christmas afternoon.  The ward had provided many of the gifts that were under the tree – plus there were some from each sibling and the girls had brought gifts for Jenna, Roland, me and the boys.

We had set up an appointment to feed the missionaries for an afternoon lunch. And just so the girls wouldn’t miss out on seeing one another’s reactions, we had to make sure to open all the gifts that were to or from the girls before the missionaries arrived. 

We’d opened maybe 20 gifts before the missionaries arrived.  Somehow we had missed the one to the boys from Francis and Pamprin.  But Jenna took it upon herself to find and open the gift while we visited with the three Elders who came for lunch.
After the Elders left our house, we loaded up the cars.  Roland took Francis and Pamprin back to Malificent’s and I took Jaime and her brothers to my mom’s and we opened more gifts after Roland joined us.

We were at my mom’s for several hours, playing games with siblings and cousins and enjoying the holiday.  It was kind of late when we returned back to the house where Roland and I resided at the time – still many packages awaited beneath the tree.  Each we opened one at a time.  It had been an all day event!  I absolutely loved it!  And would love to do it again.

Ornaments -         And then there’s the ornaments.  Mom and Dad had no ornaments the first year they were married.  They decided each of their children would have ornaments to take with them when we left the nest. My mom and dad traditionally brought each child an ornament for every year they lived at home. 

Actually tried that one with the boys – but it didn’t take.  They had ornaments. I had ornaments – more than just the ones from home – they had doubled, quadrupled even.  And the amount of ornaments in the box always outnumbered the branches on our mostly Charlie Brown trees.

Roland was more into themed trees.  One year we had a boring one that consisted only of silver baubles.  I like the personalized ornaments much better.  The children have always decorated the tree.  I believe Jenna rearranges the ornaments on a daily basis.

Family dinner -    we do this on Christmas Eve. For the longest time we had it at the home of my great aunt on my father’s side.  It continued – even when the family seemed to outgrow the house.  10 of us became 12 and then 16, 17, 20 . . . and then it became too much work for my great aunt.  So we did it at mom’s house for a while – 25, 30, 32 – in-laws, schedules, more-than-not inconvenient weather.  And one year we said: “Maybe we can do a family bbq in July instead” which has its perks. 

We still do a family dinner, but right now it is just mom and her children and their families.  14, 15 16, 18 and growing. Neither my sister nor I have houses large enough to have us all around the table – but to take the stress off mom, we did a simple dinner at my brother’s house last year.  Their house is small, too – but somehow it seems to work.  As it would have worked at the first house that Roland and our children and I lived in.

Hats -          On Christmas morning the child who passes out the presents wears the Santa cap. Often the rest of us will wear elf or Santa caps as we open our gifts. 

Exchange - There is still gift exchange – though family to family is more of a recent thing where we draw names.  We used to get for everybody – but the economy’s made it tough.   Actually, we didn’t even draw names this year (that usually takes place on Thanksgiving)  Just as well.  We’re all on the financially strained side – three of the families are anyway.

Movies  -     I enjoy watching Christmas movies, no matter how trite and sappy.  I will always tune in to “It’s a Wonderful Life” just as Clarence jumps in the water to save George who jumps in after him.  I love that cute angel.

A tradition I have only for myself is to watch at least five different versions of the Christmas Carol between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Among my favorite are the Muppets, the American Christmas Carol, Mr. Magoo and the musical Scrooge.

And those are just a few of my personal examples. What are some of yours?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Origins and Legends of Christmas

          We had an awesome program at Relief Society earlier this month. The theme was on the origins of Christmas – why we use various icons in our holiday celebration.

          The star, the angels, the nativity . . . those I could figure out.  But where did Santa Clause come from?  Or Christmas lights? Or the candy cane – though growing up I had always believed that it was to represent the crooks of the shepherds who were “abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night”  but there’s actually more to it – or so goes the legend. 

          Origins have become fabricated over the centuries.  Or else the decorative plant life was adapted from pagan celebration and reasons were made to fit the Christian holiday – which (unfortunately) often gets overlooked about why we have a Christmas and why we started celebrating it in the first place.

          I’ve now come across two sources which tell me that the candy cane originated in Indiana – a treat designed as a reminder to why we have Christmas.  The original candy cane in red and white. 

          First off the candy cane is hard – that was to symbolize comparing Christ to a solid “rock” and white stands for purity.

          The shape of the cane is not only in the shape of a crook (symbolizing the Good Shepherd) but when turned, it becomes the letter “J” which stands for “Jesus”
          Jesus atoned for all of our sins.  His blood was shed. The red of the candy cane symbolizes that blood. 

          This may have some truth to it, but according to this web page the claim is false.  But I do like the quote, “meaning is still there for those who “have eyes to see and ears to hear” – I think that’s true with all symbols if we just focus on the possible reasons as they relate to Christ.

          Clement Clarke Moore had written a poem for his children.  This later became known to the world as “The Night Before Christmas Using the description of a jolly man dressed in red, an artist drew the symbol that would later be accepted by the nation as “Santa Clause” a symbol of commercialism.

          I LOVE the book “I Believe in Santa Clause” written by Diane G. Adamson and illustrated by M. Chad Randall.  The book has received criticism from the Pharisee types – “How dare somebody compare Santa Clause to Jesus.”  While others rave, “This is really cool.” 

          I’d rather see a Santa Wreath decorating somebody’s car bumper than the nativity scene. I’d rather see Santa drinking coke or riding a Norelco shaver than have the commercialism of Christmas desecrated or Savior by portraying him as the one drinking coke or using Norelco. 

          Santa Clause has been made fun of, abused, loved, accepted, rejected, used, given, smiles, loves children, wears red, brings gifts . . . Jesus has been made fun of, abused, loved, accepted, rejected, used, given, smiles, loves children, wears red, brings gifts . . . granted the gifts that Jesus gives are eternal and intangible whereas the gifts we receive from Santa are tangible and don’t last quite as long. 

But there are similarities between the two that don’t have to be viewed as sacrilegious.  Santa is a part of Christmas whether you like it or not.  Maybe the problem is he’s become almost bigger, more important than the “Guest of Honor” – but with Santa symbolizing the commercialism aspect, he helps to keep the sacredness of our Redeemer.

There are some symbolisms or d├ęcor that are offered that I don’t so much care about its origin – such as the Yule Log, Wassail Punch or Figgie Pudding.  They’re not a part of my Christmas.  That doesn’t mean they’re less important to others. 

From stars evolving into candles on the Christmas tree to lights (because candles start fires – and actually so can lights) improvements have been made on many Christmas symbols.  At the same time, commercialism has desecrated so many others. 

Whether the legends and/or origins have truth or not, I really appreciate the symbolism that ties so many icons to the true meaning of Christmas.