BLOGMAS may be over until 2023, but Christmas is a state of mind and I hope it lasts for you all year!
Category: BLOGMAS 2022
We’re on winter storm watch here (like always 😀 at this time of year) and just like so much of the country this Christmas, but there is no need to worry ~ NORAD will be watching to track Santa’s progress for all the kiddos out there.
Every day of the year, Cheyenne’s Mountain (AKA Stargate to many SYFY fans 😀 ) NORAD defends North America using an all-domain and globally integrated approach to track everything that flies in and around Canada and the United States. But, on Dec. 24, NORAD adds a VERY special mission ~ tracking Santa Claus.
Like so many origin stories, NORAD’s mission to track Santa truly began with an accident when in 1955 a young child, trying to reach Santa, dialed a misprinted phone number from a department store ad in the local newspaper and instead of calling Santa, the child reached the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, the commander on duty that night who answered the child’s phone call, was quick to realize a mistake had been made and assured the child he was Santa. After more incoming calls, Shoup assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls and a tradition was born, that continued when NORAD was formed in 1958.
Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa’s location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families across the world. Because of the support, services and resources generously provided by volunteers and our government and corporate contributors, NORAD Tracks Santa has persevered for more than 65 years.
In fact, what started because of a typo has flourished and is recognized as one of the Department of Defense’s largest community outreach programs.
Each year, the NORAD Tracks Santa Web Site receives several million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Volunteers typically answer more than 130,000 calls to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline from children across the globe.
In addition to the phone line and website, children and the young-at-heart can track Santa through our mobile apps and social media platforms:
NORAD Tracks Santa Website: https://www.noradsanta.org
NORAD Tracks Santa Newsroom: https://noradsantanews.com/newsroom
From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.
It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.
- The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
- Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
- Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
- The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
- The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
- The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
- Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
- The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
- Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
- The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
- The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
- The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.
So that is your history lesson for today. Merry (Twelve Days of) Christmas Everyone – and, remember, the Twelve Days of Christmas are the 12 days starting December 25th and the Christmas Season runs until Epiphany, January 6.
While there are family and even cultural traditions for Christmas menus around the world, we try and vary our menu to OUR own tastes each year. Sometimes that is also dependent on regional availability of the specialty items needed to create those menus.
This year with it just being the 2 of us, we were planning a “trimmed” down menu with an Italian theme. At the last minute I found a FANTASTIC deal on prime rib and a butcher willing to cut a very small portion for me. We use the leftovers in our “lucky” New Year’s Black Eyed pea chili.
Life does have a way of taking over at times. I’m so sorry I’m running behind these past few days!
When does your family open their presents?
This category has changed a lot over the years for me as I have gotten older and had my own family. Being a military family on a tight budget I’ve always in the past started shopping early (like in January) to work everything in that we wanted to do so that it fit into our tight budget. It became a habit 😀
My family traditions as a kid were of a BIG Christmas eve open with lots of family and that carried on through college, but as we (cousins) all got older and began getting married with families of our own, our grandparents passed on, some of us moved away, blended families (each with their own traditions) were formed, etc… getting together for both Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day became harder and harder to do.
Eventually Christmas eve became a MUCH smaller event for mainly immediate family. We would have a small dinner and open our gifts to each other that night. Christmas morning was for being at our respective homes with our own kids opening presents and then the larger family get together much later on Christmas day for dinner at just one place, usually my grandparent’s or parent’s house and then eventually it was at our house after my dad passed away.
These days with everyone all over the country, both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are mainly just hubby and I with LOTS of phone calls to family and friends and we open our gifts on Christmas morning.
In years past we would attend the Christmas party at the Eagles and then deliver the neighbor plates and gifts to friends on Christmas Eve. 😀
This category sounds a bit like Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. That was intentional on my part. I believe there are truly lessons to be learned from that story! I don’t believe that we have to be the mean spirited, unkind Ebeneezer Scrooge with a life gone wrong though LOL 😀 in order to benefit from the lessons. We can CHOOSE to live a better life and be PRESENT in order to make a better FUTURE. There is ALWAYS room to BE BETTER and MORE loving and MORE giving!
Christmas Past truly is a COMPLETELY subjective category. The older I get the more I realize that it’s the traditions and the memories that weave our holidays together. It’s little things like the who puts the lights on the tree or the angel on top of it. It’s the favorite recipes that you only make at Christmas time. It’s the laughter of the munchkins each morning as they discover what mischief AnnaBelle has gotten into. It’s a baking day with the munchkins making your favorite traditional recipes to share on Giving plates to the neighbors…
This category for me is also subjective based on where we are living at the time. Again this year being back in the cold of the Pacific Northwest is actually making me remember Snowy Christmases for some reason. A couple of my favorite Christmases were when we were in Upper Peninsula Michigan. Maybe it was the trees, water and snow, but for me it was also the old churches. There was so much history there. These are 2 of my favorite country churches from Michigan. I took these pictures in 2011 at Christmas time, on the same day. That’s just how fast weather changes with lake effect snow!
I JUST LOVE OLD CHURCHES! The bottom 3 pictures are from a REALLY neat stone church in the middle of Iron River, Michigan.
But, my favorite country church is from a teeny tiny little town in Michigan called Mansfield. It was once a growing little town until there was a mine disaster. Now all that exists is the monument to the disaster, the church and a few random homes.
These OLD Christmas pictures from a million years ago that I found in some old files bring back so many memories of the past! Just goes to show you how subjective your memories of the past can be. The little boy with his back to you is my brother who in the last picture though much younger is much bigger than I am. I have NO idea what that look is all about, but it doesn’t look like I was very happy 😀 And it seems like there are a bunch of pictures with us sitting on that same step over the years 😀
A couple years ago before COVID and again this year we went to HOLIDAY LIGHTS at Shore Acres on the Oregon coast. It doesn’t change in layout so it’s NOT an EVERY year thing. At least this year it didn’t rain but that made it bitterly cold! ALL of our travel is “AROUND” Christmas and never ON Christmas. The first time we arrived fairly early, just before dusk so we could walk through and get the lay of the land before walking through a second time after dark. This time they had “reserved” times only so we couldn’t do that. The displays are animated and themed.
Shore Acres is literally perched on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean and began as a private estate for Louis J. Simpson, a shipbuilder. Simpson developed the 3 story mansion complete with an indoor heated pool and ballroom as his “summer home”. The surrounding grounds included 5 acres of formal gardens full of shrubs , trees and flowering plants brought from around the world by himself and various lumbermen. There is even a 100 foot lily pond and caretaker’s cottage. The cottage still stands and was really decorated cute! I’d live there. I really wish I had seen the original mansion, but it has since been torn down after a fire in 1921 and the rebuild was never finished because of the depression and fell into disrepair. Oregon bought the property in 1942 for use as a public park. The gardens, lily pond and caretakers cottage were restored while the mansion was razed.
Shore Acres Holiday Lights is by decorated sponsors and volunteers. This is an Annual event, but they did miss a couple of years during COVID and is famous for its beautiful 7 acre botanical gardens and Japanese lily pond on the Oregon coast among the trees. It has over 350,000 lights, animated displays, Santa, choirs… A beautiful holiday tradition for the whole family.
Even on the years we travel to SIL’s party, we are home by Christmas itself. I love having our tree and decorations with a relaxed Christmas Day schedule. We do try and take 1 trip to see some sort of “City Sidewalks” type event.
These are a few of my favorite pictures from our trip to Holiday Lights at Shore Acres on the coast. We took some time to play in a couple of the small towns and stayed over so we didn’t have to drive the windy roads late at night in the rain. We were fortunate to be able to have lunch with an old friend to catch up the next day before we drove home. It’s a walking tour and it was COLD as all get out, but ALSO really beautiful.
The following pictures are from 2014 and one of my favorite picture years. The Festival of Lights is now 30 years old and a great way to kick off the holiday season. It’s an ALL Volunteer and NON-Profit. It began as a fundraiser sponsored by the Rotary Club to help get the city out of debt and then took on a life of its own and now helps with scholarships and special projects. The festival runs every night from Thanksgiving to New Years. So if you have company in town for Thanksgiving it’s a great way to jump start to your holidays. You can drive your own car or take a horse drawn carriage ride through the displays. They have also coordinated a local radio station to listen to as you view the displays. The night we went through the fog was moving in early so a few of the pictures look a bit “smoky”.They have the world’s tallest (41 feet, 16,000 pounds with a working jaw) nutcracker built by a local company, 500,00 lights, 90 animated displays, 3D displays, horse drawn carriage rides through the displays and a Holiday Village with Santa, hot cider with a bake sale and a synchronized light show in the courtyard. The displays depict fairy tales, the military, patriotism, the local logging industry, local vineyards, local fishing and the traditional Christmas songs and scenes. People come from all over to see it. Unfortunately for locals, it doesn’t change much, but is still fun every few years.
Be sure to join us for Happy Homemaker Monday and link up with our host, Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
How is everyone? Are you all scurrying around like I am all of a sudden with only 6 days til Christmas? Everything was moving along just fine until we took our little trip that was supposed be no BIG deal.
Seems like ever since we got back everything has been altered – my time away from home has increased, my jam and baking time has decreased… which all resulted in me getting behind on posting BLOGMAS links and visiting blogs though I made a BIG dent in remedying that last night and will continue to get caught up tonight. Thank you Jean for playing along so much!
I even had a girlfriend text and ask if everything was okay because I was usually her first card received. I sat here last night trying to finish mine up. This might be the first year my cards have been late! 😀
The weather here has been BRRRRR cold with highs in the 30’s and the lows in the high 20’s. I REALLY don’t mind the cold, but it’s a WET cold here that gets into your bones! We went to the Timber Town Tinsel Town Electric parade on Saturday night that was supposed to begin at 7PM, but didn’t actually begin until 715PM. It wasn’t a very long parade, only about 45 minutes, but I was FROZEN by the time it was over and it was 24° when we got home!
We had a GREAT trip last week to SHORE ACRES to see the Holiday lights! We were there the Christmas before the COVID lockdown began and it was pouring down rain. Fortunately, this year it wasn’t raining, but it was COLD, BRR REALLY cold! The substitute rental had a beautiful location right on the bay. It also had VERY limited TV channels, but we were able to get NETFLIX and watched The Christmas Chronicles one evening while sitting by the fire.
The trip did set me back a bit on Christmas prep, but that’s okay. Several friends are quite ill and I filled in a few duties for them at our Eagles post also, but was happy to do it. A friend and I went clothes and toy shopping yesterday for the kids of the needy family the Auxiliary adopted for the holidays. We were able to get it all wrapped in the afternoon. Today we’re going to finish the food shopping and then deliver it all this afternoon.
I was supposed to be cooking tomorrow, again on Friday and next Tuesday for the Eagles, but unfortunately they have decided to close until the New Year due to so much illness happening amongst the members 🙁
THIS WEEK’S TO DO LIST, PROJECTS & APPOINTMENTS
WHAT’S ON THE DVR/TV
This week is a fun read – Snowfall & Secrets by Kimmy Loth, a new to me author that I chose from a list on Bookbub for a free read 😀
12/ 19 BMONDAY
HAMBURGER STEAK & VAMPIRE SLAYER CHEDDAR CREAMY MAC & CHEESE
CHICKEN FRIED CHICKEN & PEPPERED GRAVY with MASHED POTATOES
APPLE BALSAMIC CHICKEN, SOUTHERN CORNBREAD & BUTTERED CARROTS
POT ROAST and ALL the TRIMMINGS
HONEY THYME ROAST CHICKEN
BLOOMING QUESADILLA RING
|PORCHETTA, SICILIAN SPAGHETTI
MORE PEANUT BUTTER BALLS
I met 2 really cool cats this past week. The gray and white is “Bella” from our time at the coast. Bella is evidently the resident neighborhood guest greeter. She was so friendly, sweet and soft. She just marched herself into the house like she belonged there 😀 The black and white is KitKat, an older cat and my neighbor’s daughter’s cat who is here visiting through the holidays. KitKat is even sweeter and even softer! 😀 I’m still editing the pictures from the coast and the parade, but hope to get that post up very soon.
links will be up soon 😀
- PEANUT BUTTER BALLS
- SALISBURY STEAK & POTATO SKILLET
I’m a Virgo and as such tend to make lists and be over-prepared as a general rule. So, the only last minute gifts I tend to need are a couple extras for those unexpected visits that come up like a surprise gift from a neighbor.
A few of the “things” I keep on hand (with a festive ribbon already tied to them) for those occasions are:
- Coffee gift cards
- Homemade JARS such as the Harvest Soup or Brownie mixes I did this year
- Soft, comfy lap blankets
- Homemade applesauce
- Homemade jam
- And closer to the actual day a plate full of homemade goodies
Here are a couple of recipes I make most years that are great to have around and NEVER, EVER go to waste whether they are given as gifts or eaten in house LOL 😀
1 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup Kraft caramel bits
14 ounces Eagle-Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Fisher’s Cinnamon Pecans
- Line a 9×9 pan with heavy duty foil leaving enough foil overhanging the edges to use as handle to lift the foil out of the pan after the fudge has set.
- Using a double boiler over medium heat melt the chips, caramel bits and condensed milk together until smooth.
- Immediately pour into the foil lined pan.
- Top with pecans using a piece of wax paper to press the pecans slightly into the fudge.
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
14 ounces Eagle-Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Crushed Honey Roasted Peanuts or walnuts
- Line a 9×9 pan with heavy duty foil leaving enough foil overhanging the edges to use as handle to lift the foil out of the pan after the fudge has set.
- Using a double boiler over medium heat melt the chips and condensed milk together until smooth.
- Immediately pour into the foil lined pan.
- Top with peanut pieces using a piece of wax paper to press the pecans slightly into the fudge.
WOW I’m truly blessed with so many to choose from!
Some of my favorites are my very first personal desk when I was 9, my aunt coming to visit from Texas around that same time and sitting on the floor in a leather dress playing A Barrel of Monkeys with the younger kids or maybe the year I got my first bike, whoops wait that was the birthday before Christmas.
But I think my all time favorite was when my grandfather who worked for General Electric as an X-ray technician of sorts (he oversaw the installation and calibration of X-ray equipment) and the year he brought home a GE Snow tree with beautiful ornate ornaments (I still don’t know the correlation between between being an X-ray technician and Christmas trees though).
Anyway this tree had a HUGE decorated cardboard base and once the tree was up and decorated you filled this base with thousands of tiny Styrofoam balls and when you turned the switch on the tree would make it’s own snow. As a kid I thought it was pretty cool, but as an adult I look back and realize what a MESS it made!! Especially when the Santa Ana winds were blowing and the static electricity was high – those damn balls stuck to EVERYTHING! We lived in the high desert of southern California and the winds were ever present during December, often morphing into their severe form of Devil Winds and the snow was nowhere to be found so the tree was a novelty we all enjoyed.
But wait, that is not my favorite memory. It turns out that my favorite memory is of trying to stump my dad each AND EVERY year with his gift – it became a mission of sorts to be the first person to stump him. I swear the man was like Carnac when it came to knowing what was inside a box. We tried EVERY year to stump him and I don’t remember ever being able to actually do it. We tried adding bricks, taping a silver dollar with duct tape to the bottom so it would flip back and forth to make noise when you shook it, the box inside a box trick, adding a pair of old shoes… but he ALWAYS guessed! I still don’t know how he did it. Sadly 🙁 this will be the 30th Christmas without him. He died so young, but I have so many wonderful memories of him and Christmas from when I was young.
Today was supposed to be about the weather, winter wonderland and Timber Town parade. But, then I realized I planned that poorly as tonight is this year’s parade. So, I’m trading today with tomorrow 😀
Christmas is the most important holiday to me and not because Santa comes, though that is pretty important to the kiddos, but more importantly, it’s a caring spirit, a sharing feeling, an attitude that I try to practice all year long. I truly feel good about giving – whether it’s the Angel trees I select gifts for or the smile from the Salvation Army bell ringer as you put your money in their red bucket and wish them Merry Christmas.
For 10 years I chaired an Angel Tree Program for FISH and I loved doing it! I prepared for it every year and I truly believe each year got better and better. The night before we distributed the gifts I would go shopping for the teenage girls and boys that always seemed to fall through the cracks in the donations. We were ALWAYS lacking in gifts for the teen girls no matter what we tried to boost things up for them. So, now when I choose the angels from the trees in the community I seek out the teenage girls specifically.
Christmas means lots and lots of memories of family, some no longer with us, but ALWAYS in my heart when I hang an ornament that reminds me of that person or a recipe that they always prepared like my dad’s, Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing or Gram’s Christmas box full of goodies picked out just for each one of us or…
One of the things I try to practice is to make at least one homemade gift each year – nothing extravagant, but just something that says “I MADE THIS with LOVE JUST FOR YOU“.
The years that we host the Christmas holidays we include a lot of family recipes. But, more importantly, Christmas is the spirit of Love and Giving and it must be felt and shared. Christmas is a gift from above and each year as I grow older I realize more and more that Christmas is about Love, Peace, Sharing, Caring and just being together.
I can only answer for myself, but I assume for those that are not religious, the meaning of Christmas is still a celebration, but one of celebrating friendships and family by gathering to eat together, share their time and share tokens of appreciation in the form of gifts with others.
I touched on this topic a bit in a prior post. But, just giving you some ideas didn’t seem like enough. There are questions. Lots of questions 😀 There are so many ways to wrap or bag presents!!
Do you save paper from year to year? My grandmother always neatly unwrapped her packages so she could save the paper to re-wrap something in the future.
My cousin is an artist and loves to die her own fabrics that she uses to wrap gifts in.
Do you write directly on the paper or bag or do you like cute gift tags? Do you make your own? Do you use last year’s cards to make this year’s tags?
Do you prefer gift bags? Do you use tissue paper?
Do you use bows or ribbons or both? Do you add stickers? Do you add ornaments? Do you use decorative tapes?
Do you disguise the gift in the way you wrap them to try and confuse the receiver?
Or do you a little bit of all of the above?
I wrapped as I went this year and boy did that make things easier than facing a large pill of gifts to wrap all at one time! I also went pretty simply with color coordinated papers, matching ribbons, cute little tags or their favorite character ornaments and colored twines. For the munchkins I always have some fun ornament style tags made.
There are so MANY fun ideas to try ALL over PINTEREST, but these are some of my favorites! These are also some simpler, but classic ideas! I LOVE that some of them are so creative and use plainer papers – papers that can be used year round and then spruced up for whatever the occasion is.
Do you have a special character that you collect and decorate with? Originally I collected Angels and Santas. Then I added snowmen. Then I added Reindeer. And then I added gnomes. And then I added Peanuts. And I LOVE to find unique nativities. I also love bubble lights and have added a few displays. I want to like nutcrackers, but I just can’t get there 😀