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Yule be comin’ round the mountain…

Yule.  It’s little more than a week away.  But I’m willing to bet most of you don’t even know what it is – other than an alternative word for Christmas.  It’s a lot more though, I promise you.

When the early Christians were out shopping for a day to celebrate Christmas they chose December 25th because it coincided with the Pagan celebration of Yule.  Hoping for a great many converts from the old ways, they thought that usurping the high holy day of another faith was a good call.  Meh.  Not so much.  I have to admit though, it does give me a bit of a chuckle when I hear complaints of how secular Christmas has become, or how awful it is that non-Christians have usurped their holy day.

There are a lot of Pagans who hold a little bitterness over the theft of our celebration.  Everything from the tree, to the star, to the holly, to the gifts, to caroling, and more…  these were all Pagan symbols and rituals.  However, I don’t think it’s worth the anger.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned it here before, but I generally believe anger to be a wasted emotion.  I’d prefer to exert my energies in a positive way.  If you’d like to read a great little piece that talks about some of the early world’s December celebrations visit http://www.religioustolerance.org/winter_solstice0.htm – and the writer presents everything in such a way as to give equal weight to all celebrations.

Having been raised Pentecostal (fundamentalist Christian for those who don’t know.  Borrow Jesus Camp from your local library to see Pentecostals in action – some call it crazy, but growing up from within the Church it was the way it was, it was our normal), my extended family all celebrate Christmas.  And I didn’t seek another path until I was 18, having always just accepted our faith as truth.  Now though, I happily celebrate both the original celebration of Yule and a turkey-day version of Christmas.

Some members of my extended family don’t really understand my choice to celebrate the Solstice… and one in particular who self-identifies as Christian (but who has never been a church goer and doesn’t celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas) can’t seem to help but give me flack about it.  Snide comments in regards to our inability to wait to open gifts until the 25th really do hurt when they come from someone you love.  But it is what it is.  Generally I really love that we get to celebrate both holidays.  For us, the celebrations last from December 21st through December 26th…  which is fabulous!

On the Solstice we (my immediate family) go on a tour of holiday lights, and exchange gifts, we eat, we drink, we enjoy the spirit of the season just the three of us knowing the rest of the world is on high stress trying to get ready for the 25th.  It’s a fabulous day and night that is just full to the brim with love.

On Christmas Eve my parents host an annual holiday party for old friends and some family.  We eat a TON of food (all finger foods)!  We play games, we laugh, we drink home made eggnog (I made some last year, and at request will be doing so again this year… and likely every year after that).  It’s just a great way to say goodbye to the craziness that often fills the couple of weeks leading up to this day.

On the 25th the wee girlie will awaken to find her stocking full of treats and little trinkets and toys.  Then, bright and early, we’ll head to my parents place again for hours of presents.  We unwrap one at a time, taking turns “playing santa” by picking the next gift.  With 12 people there, we really do spend hours opening gifts and sharing in one anothers surprises.  We’ll stop every so often to eat leftovers from the night before, and to make a fresh pot of coffee.  And then it will be time to open packages, insert batteries, plug new gadgets in, and play together.

Boxing day (for those outside Canada, that’s the 26th) all the Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Great Grandparents and sometimes more all gather for our big holiday dinner.  Everyone brings something.  And we also play a white elephant gift exchange game – all vying for whatever the best gifts were that year and trying to avoid the booby prizes (for a few years in a row, a half used tube of toothpaste kept finding it’s way back into the game).  Trading and laughing until whomever set the rules for the game that year says “enough”.  And we all giggle over who got what.  Games, desserts, visiting, and more laughter…  followed by major clean-up.

Yep.  I love all of our traditions – Christmas AND Yule.  And the fact that the beginnings of our celebrations are a week away has me awfully excited.  So whatever you celebrate during this season of darkness, however you celebrate the Sun’s rebirth, I hope it comes with many blessings for you and yours.  No matter what we celebrate, we should celebrate with tolerance, acceptance, and love… for no matter what our beliefs, we share the journey that is humanity.

Trimming our half-a-mini-faux-tree-thing.

I’ve shared in the past a little about our funny little half a fake tree wall hanging, and why we love it in spite of it’s intense oddness.  You can read all about it here:  https://td365.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/the-yule-tree/

Normally I like to put the kind-of-a-tree up on Yule.  It’s part of our celebration…  but the girlie has been asking to do so for a couple of weeks already, so I figure it’s something worth bending on.  🙂  And this year, instead of just photographing it, we decided to do a couple little iPad videos – each one is only about 30 seconds long, so give them a click and take a peek.

Organizing Ornaments:  After putting on the garlands, we always sit down and dig all the tiny ornaments out of the tins, organizing them as we go.

Trimming the Tree:  Here’s kid-kid.  She did the majority of the trimming herself this year.  I helped with about 1/3 of the ornaments, but only when asked.  She was having sooo much fun doing it, that I wanted to save as many as possible for her.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!:  When we were all finished, Lily-Ann wanted to do one last video.  So here she is singing (unrehearsed) a little carol.  And I must say, I think this years tree is the best yet.  All thanks to my awesomerific kid!  😀

Holiday Magic or Bah Humbug

Wow!  Okay.  LOL  I just deleted about 800 – 850 or so words here.  LMAO  I had this whole thing written about this nut-job doctor I saw one time and his insane crack-pot idea that babies fix the mentally ill (trust me, this guy was a loon, you should have heard some of his conversation starters and theories… just wow!  There was a reason I never went back to the clinic he works at)…  but honestly?  The entire thing came down to this:

I look at my four year old.  My amazing, incredible, super smart, totally cherished little kid…  and how could a bah humbug even cross my mind?  Yule may be only a couple weeks away (and no, we are not even close to being ready) but I am SOOOO excited for everything that comes along with both Yule and Christmas.  This season is SOOOO special and SOOOO fabulous – and it’s because we get to share it with these amazing little munchkins we call children.  They make EVERYTHING awesome.  Even when you’re sure they should be getting a lump of coal.  😉

A gripe about online merchants.

Yep.  I’m going to gripe.  Not at all what I usually do on this blog.  I much prefer to focus on the positive.  However this happened to me TWICE today.  And I’m not happy about it.

I found the perfect Christmas gift for one of my sisters.  She would have just keeled over.  It would have stopped her heart and then – after being revived – she’d have jumped around the room.  It was THAT good.  I added it to my shopping cart, and went to pay.  Started entering my information, got to “state” and went to scroll through the list of locations…  No Saskatchewan.  Now, occasionally an online vendor simply makes a mistake and only includes US states in their list – and if you contact them you find out they do indeed (like most vendors) ship to Canada.  So I clicked to enter into an online chat.  But no.  This vendor does not ship to Canada.  Disappointment number one.  😦

Ready for Disappointment number two?

I have been wanting a family necklace since my daughter was born.  Something I could wear that symbolized the love shared between Damon, Lily-Ann, and myself.  For our fifteenth anniversary, my husband promised me said necklace.  All three of us have been looking for the right one for a little while now…  and we finally found it.  My daughter loves it, my husband loves it, I love it.  It couldn’t be more perfect if it was crafted specifically for us.  It is everything we could have hoped for.  It makes my heart sing just looking at it – and knowing my husband and daughter love it as much as I do fills me with joy.  So, with all of us in agreement, we put it in our shopping cart and click “check out”.

I begin filling out our information.  I put in which stones we need.  I put in our names and our address.  I select “Saskatchewan”.  A window pops up.  It informs me that they will not ship to a Canadian address, but if I follow the link shown in the pop up window that I can put an order in with their Canadian store.

Guess what?  This perfect pendant.  The one that makes my heart sing.  The one that we spent hours and hours looking for.  The one that couldn’t be more ideal if it were designed specifically for us.  It’s not available on their Canadian website (where everything is twice the price of the US site, in spite of the fact that our dollars are worth pretty close to the same thing).

Do I feel like crying?  You bet.

I actually told my husband that I couldn’t even look any more.  That he should just find something he likes and buy it.  😦  Do I feel like a bit of a baby over this?  yep.  But I can’t really help it.

If you don’t ship to Canada say so in a prominent place.  “Ships to US Addresses Only.”  That’s not hard.

Bunch of jerks.  😦

I’m going to go pout in a corner.  I’m not a happy mommy.

Packing away the holidays…

Today, the wee girlie, Damon, and I packed away our holiday staples.  We put the ornaments and garlands  into Nana’s old tins.  Lily-Ann put on the lids, as her Daddy packed away the Yule tree.  All tucked away, safe and sound, for next year.

Often this is a process I find mundane and completely unenjoyable.  But I made the choice to find joy in it this year.  Instead of focusing on the fact that the holidays, which I so love, are done with for another year, I thought about all the fun we had.  Remembered all the people, the laughter, the food, the gifts, the special times we shared and the new memories we made.  And you know what?  It was actually a really nice time.

So far so good on this journey to joy.  🙂

tins full of holiday cheer

Nana's Tins

In the coming days I will be adding a new page to the blog.  One inviting you to take your own “joy journey”.  I hope you’ll add your name and commit to the challenge.  Let’s make life more joyful.

Good Brown Gravy – Christmas Traditions

Hope everyone had a great holiday.  We always have a ton of fun, with loads of family.  I love it.

On Christmas eve it’s my parents annual “family and friends” party.  Lots of old friends, some that you haven’t seen forever, lots of family, and mountains of food.  Everyone brings something, and this year I brought home made eggnog (posted the recipe a few days ago on the blog, so if you back track you’ll  find it).  It was sooo good.  Everyone wanted to know what was in it, and everyone had seconds, thirds, and fourths.  LMAO  We played a couple dance games, as well as lots of rockband on the Wii.  It was a ton of fun.

Christmas day it was a bit of organized chaos as my parents, siblings, husband, girlie, and dogs (my parents dogs, my sisters dog, and one of ours too) all huddled beneath the tree for presents.  We ate left overs from the party, had a scrumptious salad, and just hung out all day watching movies and enjoying one anothers company.

Yesterday, boxing day, is when our extended family celebrates together.  Aunts, Uncles, cousins, grandparents, great grandparents… anyone who lives anywhere near the city… everyone meets at my parents place.  We eat a big turkey dinner, followed by mounds and mounds of pies, cakes, squares, chocolates, a gingerbread house, and more.  We play games, we visit, and we do a white elephant gift exchange game.

I absolutely love this time of year.  I adore family gatherings, and for our family, Christmas means three of them all in a row.  It fills my heart in many many ways.

Today we stopped by my parents (as if they weren’t sick of us already, having had us over the last three days in a row)…  LOL  We heated up the gravy and a bunch of the left overs, and enjoyed one last day of feasting together.  It was a real nice treat.

So… to everyone who couldn’t be there with us, we missed you.  And to all of our friends and family, we love you.  Thank you for being part of such special memories.  They are something that I will always treasure, and now, I know they are something that my daughter will also grow to love and treasure.

Merry Christmas!

heating up the turkey gravy

Mmmm.... good brown gravy.

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick upload…  I’m sure I’ll have lots of photos to share in the coming days, but whether I’ll get online to upload one a day or not is a big question.  So here’s one from tonight.  At the annual family and friends Christmas Eve party.  Thank you Jamie for snapping this one for me.  It means a lot.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Wee Girlie and I.

 

Hope you all have a safe and happy weekend surrounded by your loved ones.  Make merry and a happy ho ho ho to each and every one of you.

The Yule Tree!

Today we put up our Yule tree. Now… before you say anything, I feel the need to defend our poor little fake tree. LMAO

We live in a house with just over 600 square feet. Within this house live people, dogs, and other sundry animals (cat, parrot, turtle)… That’s a lot of life packed into not a lot of square footage. So. Would I like to have a real tree? You bet your buttocks. Can we make our space work to fit in a real tree? Uhhh… no. LOL

Our little tree is a goofy little thing. It’s half a fake tree that gets hung on the wall. It takes up a depth of about six inches. And takes up no counter space, no dresser space, no table space. It takes up no surface space at all. And for a brief time while it hangs on the wall, the only thing displaced is the calendar that usually hangs there.

So yes… While I would LOVE to have a real tree, I’ve come to love our funny little half tree thing. It works for us. 🙂

Now back to today: We put up our Yule tree. And it was the first Yule tree that the wee girlie decorated on her own. Damon sorted ornaments, I handed them to the girlie, and she placed them all – thoughtfully – where they needed to be.

This years Yule tree is not the most balanced or aesthetic one we’ve had… but I think it’s awesome.

We’ve already had several ornaments fall off, calling to the girl to come carry them back home. I’m choosing to think of it as the fun of the holidays just extending itself out to last as long as possible. Why decorate a tree in an hour when you can spend days doing so? My only hope is that none of the little glass ornaments from my childhood hit the road, as they might not be quite so forgiving. LMAO It’s a good thing there is carpet beneath the half-tree-thing.

So here is my photo for today. I’m calling it “Ode to half-faux-tree-dom”.

Ode to half-faux-tree-dom

Now I’m heading outside to see how the eclipse is coming along. Should just be getting started about now, I figure. 🙂

I may or may not be back on tomorrow with a post/picture for you all. Tomorrow is Yule after all.

Take care of one another, and may the spirit of the season warm your hearts and hearth.

Hmmmm… Really?

...says the consumer driven corporate powerhouse eager to have you spend, spend, spend in the name of whatever you choose to celebrate.

Busy, busy day.

Spent the morning with the wee girlie.  Playing, cuddling, colouring, eating, getting ready for pre-k…  Then the afternoon was devoted to Green Party business, including chairing an executive meeting.  In the evening we picked up my sister Jewles, and headed off to the library.  Following that it was over to my parents for some supper, where we helped my Dad navigate through the maze of uploading media on his Mac and iPod.  Put the wee girlie to sleep.  Then worked on Christmas presents and played on facebook for a wee bit.  Now, laying in bed, girlie beside me, posting on the blog.  Whew.  LMAO

Tomorrow morning will be much the same (and my favourite part of the day because it’s just me and the girl), in the afternoon I’ve got presents to work on as well as some scrapbooking business to attend to.  Then it will be off to my parents place to help decorate the tree.  😀  Sooo looking forward to that.  Because we’ve just got the tiny half tree that hangs on the wall (will share a picture when we put it up) I really do enjoy helping set up my parents tree.  And I’m sure Lily-Ann will too.

Now, I’m going to share a photo of the girlie playing at the library.  Then I’ll be playing a bit of Warstorm on FB.  And nighty night.  LOL  Just me and the dogs awake in the dark (Damon is up on the desktop computer).  😀

Playing at the Library!

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