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Friday, December 23, 2016

Keep it real.

It's the day before the day before Christmas.

What?   Well,  today is December 23rd, the day before Christmas Eve.

I sit here this morning, and I am thinking how I feel right now about it.  Christmas is almost here. 

Each and every year in early December I vow to stop myself from getting crazy over making the holiday 'just right' and I instead purposely try to focus on the birth of the baby Jesus. 

Because, you know...

There are two Christmases.

Christmas #1.  This Christmas is the yearly time in the church calendar to celebrate the birth of God's son, sent to us in human form as a baby.  Jesus.  The one who came to show us love, and to die for us - to take on our human sins. To tell us that God forgives, with endless grace, and offers eternal life beyond this earthly world. 

The time I spend in church at Christmas is my favorite part.  I love to hear the reading from Luke.  I love to sing beautiful carols and hymns.  To see the candlelight.  Hear the Christmas message.  It's about that Love Came Down at Christmas.  Silent Night - and then Joy to the World!  

Christmas #2.  The other Christmas is the secular 'holiday' and it has merit too. It brings family and friends together.  It makes everyone feel closer, and we experience the gift of giving.  We take time to express appreciation.  

Of course, with giving gifts comes some stress - buying the right items, perhaps spending too much money, and feeling pressure to do it right. The decorations too. The food.  The high expectations can lead to stress and unhappiness.

I have felt pulled every Advent season as an adult as I prepare for Christmas.  I ask:   What is too much?  Why do we have to do it up so big?   And why start so early?  I worry that people will feel disappointment, and others will be left out.  I feel there is too much 'everything' put on the secular part of celebrating Christmas.

It makes me sad.  That's why I am often glad when it is over.  I exhale.  I relax.  

 Secular Christmas is fun too for sure - and many, many people just go into it all for the hoopla of it without putting any emphasis on the baby's birth.     Santa Claus is fun!  (okay, it's a childhood lie that often disappoints kids - but I won't get into all that here.)   Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman.  Now there is an Elf on a Shelf.  

So, it's the day before the day before.  What do you plan to do on Christmas Eve?   All Christian churches everywhere hold services.  Most will have a service on Christmas Day too - and this year it falls on Sunday, regular worship time.  So, walk into a church.  Try it.   Which Christmas are you going to celebrate?  

Merry Christmas to you!  Keep it real. 




Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Feeling frantic? Ready?

Are you running around frantic right now?    Thankfully, I have less on my calendar than I normally do today and tomorrow since my rehearsals are on break until the new year.   So, yes, I have plenty of time to answer the Hodgepodge questions.   How about you?

1. What's left to be done on your Christmas to-do list? 

I still need to pick up a few stocking stuffing items.  I also need to do some grocery shopping.  I think everything else is done.    If not, it's not going to matter!

2. The Hodgepodge lands on the first day of winter this year. What's your favorite thing about winter? 

Ha!  Nothing.     Seriously, it's my least favorite season.    I don't like cold weather.   I don't like the way the earth looks dead - grey and empty.  I don't like that I spend too much time indoors.  I don't like the shortened hours of daylight. 
I know - to everything there is a season.  But I don't have to like them all! 
Thankfully, I live in an area where spring arrives early.   So, I wait...

3. In what area of your life are you immature? Feel free to elaborate or not. 

Oh, I think people who know me would say there are several areas!  ha!   Seriously, I don't feel like an adult yet in many ways... and although I am way over the halfway point of my life, I still question myself at times about what I want to do with it.  I think I am immature when it comes to my passions...  music, politics perhaps.  I tend to go with my heart and not my head.   I don't analyze. I go with my gut.  I am selfish. 
But, the good news about feeling immature is the freedom to act silly!
 
4. What was the most (or one of the most) important lessons you learned in 2016? 
Never count your eggs before they are hatched!!  

I was pretty sure I was going to be happy on Election night - but I was stunned. Shocked.  Scared.  In denial.   I'm still there.    I don't want to get too political, but it was a wake up call to me.  I thought I knew humankind, but I felt a huge disappointment that night.   

So, it reminded me to put my hope in God.  I pray for level heads and for peace.    I am on a faith journey and perhaps this is part of my bumpy road, helping me to keep looking to, and putting my faith in, God.

5. It's Fried Shrimp Day...are you a fan? What's your favorite way to eat shrimp? Will there be shrimp somewhere in your holiday feastings? 

I have a seafood allergy.  I don't eat much of anything that comes from the ocean - BUT  - I love shrimp.  I have introduced it into my diet over the years and I think I have a tolerance to it now.  Thank goodness!!  
I am like Forrest Gump's friend who worked on a shrimp boat - and I love shrimp grilled, bar-b-qued, and fried!  I just had an appetizer of coconut shrimp the other night.  

I live in the lowcountry of South Carolina where the shrimp are caught and served fresh daily!  They are wonderful here!


6. What sound lulls you to sleep? 

I am fortunate to fall asleep easily.  Most nights I turn off the light - and the sound of silence is all it takes.

7. What one word best describes your 2016? 

Blessed.        I know it's cliche' but it's true.
 
8.  Insert your own random thought here.
As this year comes to an end I'd like to thank Joyce, our Hodgepodge leader, for the weekly questions and her commitment to the Hodgepodge. I'd like to thank my readers of it, some I know but some I have only met here.    I hope your Christmas includes celebrating the birth of Jesus, and I hope you get to spend some time with family and friends, and enjoy good food and drink - and stay safe if you travel!! 

See you in 2017 ! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Pearls of wisdom - and more

Hello Hodgepodgers!  Another week, another set of questions...

Here we go!

1. Are you more task oriented or people oriented? Elaborate.

I am a task oriented person.  Why?  I am not good at delegating to others.  If there is a task to do, then I am much more likely to jump in and just do it myself.  From beginning to end.   

2. December 15 is National Wear Your Pearls Day...do you own/wear pearls? If you're a man answering the question, does your sweetheart own or wear pearls? Everyone share a 'pearl of wisdom' with us here today.

I have several sets of faux pearls.  Nothing real.   My mother-in-law gave me a set of her pearls a long time ago - and I think they are real - but I passed them along to one of my daughters.   I'm not big into owning fine jewelry.

Here's my 'pearl of wisdom' courtesy of Hoda Kotb.  "I try to live in a little bit of my own joy and not let people steal it or take it."

This quote comes from a list of "Inspiring Quotes from 100 Extraordinary Women". To see the whole list, go to www.huffingtonpost.com/smanatha-ettus/100-quotes-from-100...



 3. Speaking of pearls...oysters? Are you a fan or not a fan? If you answered yes, tell us your favorite way to eat oysters? If you said no, be honest-have you ever tried one or does just the idea of eating an oyster make you gag a little?

I am not a fan of oysters - for several reasons.  1. The first time I saw someone eat them was when I was in college at a Baltimore Colts game (yes - Colts, not Ravens) and there were these crude guys behind me shucking and slurping oysters!  Yes, in the upper deck of the old Memorial Stadium!  It was gross.

Also, I have a fish allergy.  So, I'm not very brave when it comes to trying anything from the ocean.  I have passed out in the past from eating shrimp.

Plus, oysters just seem very 'chewy.'  Yuck.   No, I have never tried them.  

4. Time Magazine has named President-elect Donald Trump Person of the Year. Let's take presidents and presidential candidates out of the mix for a minute. If a political figure had not been chosen who would you name Man or Woman of the Year for 2016?

Thank you!  Let's think about people not in politics - who have done wonderful things!

FYI: I googled the 'short list' for this year, and most were politicians - in America and elsewhere.


I think I would pick firefighters - because this has been a year of some sad fire tragedies, and firefighters have had to work overtime to save life and property.   I'm thinking specifically about the Gatlinburg wildfires, and the warehouse fire in California.


5. The Pantone Color of the Year for 2017 has been announced, and it's a vibrant green aptly named-greenery. Your thoughts? Is this a color currently in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in this shade for the new year? Click here to see the color.

I like the color!    I am a green person in general.  (Must be cuz I have green eyes!)  I already have some tops the Pantone color of green - or close to it.   So, I don't plan to specifically buy something new to wear that is the color.   I also do NOT plan on changing my home colors!


6. Today I've had too much________________________.

Well, as I type this my morning has just started.  So, let's change it to 'yesterday I had too much...'

time in front of the TV.    sitting on my butt time.   

A better sentence maybe:   I've had too little ______________ .      exercise.  reading time.

7.  Share a favorite lyric from a favorite Christmas carol. 
 
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, Did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered
Will soon deliver you
Mary, did you know?


8.  Insert your own random thought here.

 I'm entering a new decade in two days.  I still feel 30-ish.  But, in reality I will be double that.  I WANT to keep feeling 30ish!   Anybody got words of advice for me?? Any pearls of wisdom?  

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!"

Tick, tick, tick...

The December clock is ticking away and Christmas will be here soon.  So, of course, most of today's Hodgepodge questions have to do with preparing for Christmas.  Read on. 

1. Let's talk holiday decorating. On a scale of 1-10 where do you fall? (1=Scrooge and 10= Clark Griswold). What's your favorite corner-room-table-space to decorate? Is it done?

I would say I'm a 5.  I used to be a 7 or 8.  Back when the daughters were home, growing up, I spent much more time (and had more rooms to fill) decorating.   We had two trees inside.  Usually one or two outside.  And lots of Christmas knick-knacks, and such.  Over the years somethings have broken, or I have gotten tired of the 'same stuff up each year.' I like to mix it up each time. 

This year I have less space, and less items for decorating.  I gave away some things right before we moved.  This year we have one tree inside, and one tree outside.  We have outside lights - which I really like most. I like to have the darkness at night illuminated (hopefully tastefully) so we have lights on our bushes and some electric candles in the windows.

Favorite space to decorate?   I definitely have scaled down over the years but I still like the main room (the living room) to have the big Christmas tree with the family ornaments,  and a few other decorations.  I prefer making the outside look festive...with a door wreath, and the lights at nighttime. 

2. Is there a nativity scene in your decorating somewhere? Post a picture or, if it's special to you in some way, tell us why. Or do both-it's Christmas!

I bought a beautiful nativity set a few years back.  I really like it and I put it up each year, BUT I have not put it up this year yet.  Since we have recently moved, I find I'm a bit limited on space for things...and, yes,  that was the plan: to downsize and make life simpler.   But, I love my nativity so I will try to set it up - I need to find a spot somewhere where I can see it but the dogs and the cat can't bump into it.  The figures are glass, so very fragile. 


3.  Do you live in a social neighborhood? If so are you glad? If not do you wish you did?

We have moved into a pretty social neighborhood - and on a social street.  When we first arrived a few months ago, our neighbors were very kind and greeted us.  One brought over a pie - and one gave me a lovely mum.  Then, when hurricane Matthew came through, all the neighbors rallied together and helped each other out.  We had many people from the neighborhood offer to help, and many came by to  share their concern for us (since we had the big hole in the roof! )

Yes, I am happy that they are 'neighbor-ly' and I am happy that they are dog-friendly too!  It's a nice place to live!

4.  As the saying goes, 'there's no time like the present'. How does that ring true in your life right now?

Right now?  Well, I believe that it really is true always!  But, as we get closer to Christmas - which is a major deadline for decorating, and gift buying and wrapping, card writing and sending, etc.,  then it really rings true.  "Get 'er done" now, or there will not be time later!

And as we know - I like to  'get 'er done' to avoid stress if at all possible!

5. Do you dread Mondays? Why or why not?

No, I do not dread them.  In fact, I kind of like them.  I do not work outside the home, so when Monday morning rolls around I do not have to get up early and get out to a routine job.  So, I find Mondays each week are days of calm after a weekend, and a day for me to do laundry, and to straighten up the house, or to do anything that was placed on the back burner over the weekend.   


6.  Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus, Amaryllis-which on the list is your favorite holiday plant? Are any of these on display in your home right now?

I have a cactus that has a bunch of buds on it right now... I'm waiting to see if the buds will open up in time for Christmas!  I hope so.   And, I ordered two poinsettias through our church that will be used to decorate the sanctuary for Christmas Eve and Day. I will bring them home after that.  

My favorite?   I think the poinsettia.  It IS the Christmas flower!  I get poinsettias every year.   Unfortunately, I can't keep them alive from one year to another.  That is difficult to do.  Putting in a dark closet, etc.   I just go buy new each year.

7. Share a favorite quote from a Christmas movie.

Well, I have two favorite Christmas movies!  They are  "White Christmas" with Bing, and Danny Kaye...and National Lampoon's  "Christmas Vacation" with Chevy Chase.   I just watched "Christmas Vacation" last night... and love this line when Clark's wife  is in the kitchen with their daughter and they are talking about sleeping arrangements while all the relatives are there....

"I don't know what to say, but it's Christmas and we're all in misery." 

From the movie "White Christmas"....   

"It's cozier, isn't it?  Boy, girl; boy, girl."

and

"It's beautiful in Vermont this time of year!  You know, with all that snow!! "

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

The movies and the music are some of my favorite things about the Advent and Christmas seasons.   I love to make time for them! I hope you do too.

Be safe this coming week. Breathe as the clock keeps ticking closer to Christmas.  Take time to enjoy a funny holiday movie...or to listen to beautiful music.  Pray for peace.