Saturday, December 31

Wednesday, December 28

The Twelve Days of Christmas...






One of our parishioners called me a day or two before Christmas to ask me how our family celebrates the Twelve Days of Christmas. I told her that we really try to make the most of the feast by having a treat or doing something fun each day to make this time special. Since our children are small, I try to keep things as low key as I can. We took some time to bake cookies today, we've been reading our Christmas books (including two new ones I ordered thanks to a recommendation from Grace's annual Christmas book post) as well as a bit from Little Man's new Paddington book, done some special crafts, taken baths with special soap, played with our lovely new Christmas toys, and are eating lots of fun treats (look at that Goldfish bread that we found!).

That being said, I loved the post that Carrie wrote entitled Ideas to Celebrate Christmastide. I'd really like to use Carrie's post as a framework to plan for our own Christmastide. It would be nice to have our celebrations based on the Church Calender, rather than random activities.

What are your plans during the 12 Days of Christmas?


Tuesday, December 27

Again and Again in Peace...


By VRev. Vladimir Berzonsky

“Again and again in peace, let us pray to the Lord” (Little Litany)

Again I was asked, “Why is there so much repetition in our prayers?” And again I responded the way I always had before - our worship includes certain themes and terms that bear repeating, because they remind us to pay attention to something significant on the way, or else to waft us upwards into the rarefied spiritual atmosphere of the Kingdom, lest we drift back down to the temporal and mundane area where we more normally spend our mental time.

Peace is among the most prominent; wisdom, another; and mercy, a third. Peace is the spiritual state that liberates us from the environment of distractions at minimum, angst, depression, hostility and self-destruction at worst. More than thirty times one hears the term “peace” through-out the Divine Liturgy, and at each hearing one should revive within oneself the aura of serenity. Think of it as an intake of mystical oxygen that clears the head and heart from lethargy and heaviness. Let it remind you of Who it is that is blessing you with peace, the price He paid to present it to you, and the moment par excellence when by the glorious mystical contact you have with the Apostles, you are there with them in the Upper Room of the dwelling of St. Mark’s gracious mother that traumatic evening when He appeared. He greeted you also with peace. You remember that He said: “My peace I give to you; My peace I leave with you – not as the world gives, do I give to you.” (Jn 14:27)

“Wisdom!” is another power-packed word you hear “again and again.” Snap out of your daydreams, it insists. This is not the time for reveries – mooning over something disturbing or planning your afternoon. You are here and now. Make the most of it. Something ponderous, wise and precious for your soul is about to be set forth. “Attend!” Pay attention. Focus your wandering thoughts and listen attentively. You may have heard it before, you may even know it by heart; nevertheless, even if the words of the gospel or prayer haven’t changed, you have. You are not the same person who listened in previous times of worship. Maybe then the phrases or parables didn’t mean much because it did not relate to your perceived needs at the time. Today you are another person from that stage of life. See now what you can make of it and apply it to your present situation.

The Divine Liturgy is in a sense much like classical music, an opera perhaps, a symphony – or better yet, a concert where one human “instrument,” the priest, is played against the response, the choir or congregation. It has modulated into its present form. A classic treatise on that development is called “The Shape of the Liturgy,” by Dom Gregory Dix. It has indeed taken shape from a time when the people of Christ gathered, the bishop entered and said, “Peace be with you,” and all responded, “And also with you.” They all sat or stood, heard and discussed the sacred scriptures, then continued with Eucharist. That basic outline has been enhanced through the centuries into its present form. Indeed, it is challenging to absorb and assimilate its divine beauty, then to apply it to oneself. More formidable a venture when offered in a foreign tongue, but even in English it remains a study in constant progress. One must first love it to be comfortable in prayer. It goes without saying, of course, one must first love God with all one’s heart, soul and mind even to make the effort to immerse one’s self into the Liturgy. Granted, it’s not a simple matter to develop an appreciation for the way we pray. We live at a time when people lack the ability to focus or concentrate. They expect instant gratification, entertainment, and quick responses to their felt “needs.” Orthodox Christianity challenges its children to grow in grace, develop a mind and soul able to comprehend the value of the treasures offered to us and expressed in our sacred worship, and to return and to return our affection to the Holy Trinity “again and again.”

Sunday, December 25

Christ is Born!


Thy Nativity, O Christ our God,
Has shone to the world the Light of wisdom!
For by it, those who worshipped the stars,
Were taught by a Star to adore Thee,
The Sun of Righteousness,
And to know Thee, the Orient from on High.
O Lord, glory to Thee!

Reading...

The turkey, which had been left to its own devices in the oven much to the concern of the two little girls, had assumed a luscious golden brown when Miriam returned to baste it.

She put on the vegetables and topped up the water in the steamer holding the Christmas pudding before going to set the table.

She had ransacked the airing cupboard and at last found a large white damask cloth, old and beautifully starched, with several darns executed, she guessed, by a long-dead hand. No one these days, surely, could be bothered to do such fine work.

Spread upon the dining room table and decorated with two candlesticks borrowed from the mantlepiece, it began to look like a festive board, although Miriam cursed herself for forgetting to buy crackers, those instant decorations. As it was, there was no time to search for flowers or ribbons, but she filched a few holly sprigs from above the pictures where the children had put them, and set them round the candlesticks.

"It's marvelous!" cried Hazel.

"Can we put some pretty things too?" queried Jenny.

"Yes, do," said Miriam, rushing to the kitchen to attend to an ominous hissing noise."

No Holly for Miss Quinn
Miss Read

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More Quotable Sunday HERE

Saturday, December 24

Christmas Eve...

All the little ones are tucked in to bed, dressed in their Christmas best. We'll wake them in a few hours to go to the midnight Divine Liturgy. There is a festal meal following and we are bringing submarine sandwiches!

This is the second year that we have had midnight Liturgy and I love it! It was something my father did in his church when I was a little girl. My mother would bring all of us home while my father finished up things at church and feed us subs at the dining room table. We would set out the tea tray and a plate of cookies for my father to nibble while he set out the gifts under the Christmas tree. Then, we would open stockings, have a breakfast feast, and presents in the morning before Vespers. Remembering all of that brings back such happy memories for me. I really like that we have carried that over into the traditions we have for our own little family.

What are your traditions on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?

Friday, December 23

Christmas Menu...

Following Noon Vespers
Cheese and Cracker Tray
Ham Sandwiches
Chips and Dip

Dinner
Porkloin
Mashed Potatoes
Stuffing
Christmas Cauliflower
Peas
Cranberry Sauce
Gravy

Dessert
Christmas Candy
Ice Cream Sundaes

Thursday, December 22

Preparations...

I have officially given up on unpacking and we are concentrating fully on the Christmas season! It will be fun to finish up the last minute preparations that make things special for us.

It was exciting to open the mail box today and find a box from Dandelion Summers inside. Nearly two months ago, I placed an order for a Saint Joseph figure hoping that he would be here for Saint Nicholas Day. He wasn't, but he arrived during the pre-feast of the Nativity! Perfect timing!

Tuesday, December 20

Jewels of Winter...



It is so exciting that all of the citrus is coming into season now! We bought the sweetest clementines last week. The grapefruit seems pinker than I have ever seen! These will be the color in January when everything seems to turn gray-brown.

Monday, December 19

Tree Trimming...








Once the tree was all decorated, Sugar Plum stated with wonder in her voice, "Oh Papa, it is just lovely!"

Sunday, December 18

Reading...


In each stocking there was a pair of bright red mittens and there was a long flat stick of red-and-white-striped, pepper-mint candy, all beautifully notched along each side.

They were all so happy they could hardly speak at first. They just looked with shining eyes at those lovely Christmas presents. But Laura was the happiest of all. Laura had a rag doll."

Little House in the Big Woods
Laura Ingalls Wilder


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More Quotable Sunday HERE

Friday, December 16

Gingerbread Day!








When I found out that our little local bookstore was hosting a Gingerbread House party for the second year, I was thrilled! We began the afternoon with by reading our favorite gingerbread stories and enjoying some gingerbread boy and girl stickers that I found while out and about. After dinner, we headed out to the bookstore to have some fun! Miss Allison read the little ones a Jan Brett book and then passed out pre-made houses (so much easier!). Then the decorating began! There were many different snacks and sweets to decorate with (and sample!). Yum! Both Sugar Plum and Little Man's houses have found a place on our table to be admired by all who stop in!

Thursday, December 15

The Door to the Kingdom...


The door (with a lovely lock!) has been put up between the parsonage and what will eventually be the chapel! Hip, hip, hooray!

Wednesday, December 14

Getting in the Christmas Spirit...

I was a little worried that I would feel like it was Christmas this year with all of the hubbub going on, but I was out getting some odds and ends at the hardware store and noticed some beautiful and simple wreaths for $7. I hung two and instantly felt that familiar Christmas excitement that I was hoping for!

Tuesday, December 13

Twilight...

It is nice to be surrounded by woods and fields.

Sunday, December 11

Reading...


M
ama was back from her errands and had brought the news that the Christmas tree Mr. Ryan had promised her would be there by Monday. It was exciting to think about, the fragrance of the spruce filling the house, trimming it with the chains of paper and popcorn, the stars and the candles. What a lovely light they would make. Lili could hardly wait."

The Lion in the Box
Marguerite De Angeli

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More Quotable Sunday HERE


Saturday, December 10

Festal Learning Basket: Saint Lucy


Commemorated December 13th

Books

Lucia, Saint of Light
Kirsten's Surprise: A Christmas Story
Hanna's Christmas


Activities
Make a Saint Lucy Crown
String Twinkle Lights Around the House
Collect non-perishable foods to give to a food pantry

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Please note that December 13th is also one of the feastdays of Saint Herman of Alaska. The learning basket that I created for him is here.
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