Holidays

15 02, 2021

President’s Day – The Beginnings

By |2021-02-04T14:09:41-06:00February 15th, 2021|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

There are still a few of us around who remember celebrating both George Washington’s birthday on February 22 and Abraham Lincoln’s on February 16 instead of a single President’s Day.

Back then, the original emphasis for a President’s Day was our first president George Washington’s birth. In 1800, a year after his death, it became a perennial day of remembrance named Presidents’ Day.

At the time, Washington was the most important figure in American history. In fact, the 1832 centennial of his birth and the start of construction of the Washington Monument in 1848 were national celebrations.

It wasn’t until 1879, when President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the law that initially only applied to the District of Columbia, that Washington’s birthday became a designated federal holiday. In 1885, the holiday expanded to the whole country.

Gradually the George Washington emphasis shifted to others who had ever served as president.

Then, in 1971, with the enactment of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, President’s Day became another three-day weekend for the nation’s workers.

Several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, but for the most part Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as the day to celebrate all U.S. presidents, past and present.

Four chief executives were actually born in February—George Washington, William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

Presidents’ Day never falls on any of their birth dates. Rather it is always celebrated on the third Monday of February.

Probably more than you wanted to know about President’s Day. But isn’t history interesting?

18 01, 2021

To Think About on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

By |2021-01-17T15:16:03-06:00January 18th, 2021|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Today is a day set aside to honor  Martin Luther King, Jr. and his accomplishments. It is also a federal holiday dedicated to a day of service.

Dr. King’s attitude on service was clear.

Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

King’s  words offer introspect and inspiration to find a project that forwards his vision and participate. While today’s coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns disrupt plans for many in-person celebrations and volunteering efforts, there are plenty of safe virtual activities available.

This NYT article has suggestions from several different areas of the country. A Google search using your locale will bring up local opportunities.

If you’re into parades, Houston offers their annual parade virtually on January 18, from 10 a.m. to noon on HTV and via Facebook on the Original MLK Day Parade page.

Dr. King’s nonviolent activism during the civil rights movement changed things. He passionately believed

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

MLK, Jr. Day offers an opportunity to reflect on the past, think about the present, plan for the future, and remember what is truly important–We are all in the same boat now.

Let’s make this boat we’re in a better place.

4 01, 2021

Discovering My Nativity’s Provenance

By |2020-12-26T10:23:05-06:00January 4th, 2021|A Writer's Life, Holidays|4 Comments

If I had decorated for Christmas this year–which I didn’t–I would now be taking decorations down and storing for next Christmas.

We had a painter working to rejuvenate the outside of our almost forty-year-old home. He did a fabulous job painting and power washing. The house looks clean and fresh. Unfortunately weather delays meant he didn’t finish until December 23. We decided it was too late to put up decorations only to take them down three days later.

Not decorating gave me extra time to read subscription blogs, which had piled up like old newspapers used to do.

Image via Megan Hanlon

Imagine my surprise when one of my favorite blogs, Her View From Home popped up with a picture of my nativity angel and a heart-warming blog.

Turns out Her View from Home blogger, Megan Hanlon had the exact same manger I have when she was growing up. Only the angel she’d named Gloria and loved playing with as a child had gone missing by the time she inherited the set.

I’d received my nativity set as a thank-you for an estate sale I’d done many years ago. I always said someday I’d research its origin, or provenance. Never did.

Ms. Hanlon wanted a replacement Gloria to share her memories with her children. She searched the web. Finally, on eBay, she located “a white box with an outdated Sears & Roebuck Trim Shop logo and a picture of four figurines: a guitar-playing lad, a bearded man carrying a basket of bread, an angry camel, and a ginger-haired angel in a blue dress draped with a banner that proclaimed “Gloria.” All the pieces were there according to the listing.

She’d found her Angel Gloria replacement and, thanks to her blog, I now know where my set came from and its age.

Figures were missing from mine too—the four additional characters. I only had Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus and a homemade manager structure. No sheep or shepherds, no camel,  no “guitar-playing lad” or “man with a basket of bread,” and no Magi.

Missing Magi didn’t matter to me. Those kings didn’t show up at the manger anyway, but arrived later where Jesus lived as a small child. The sheep and shepherds I substituted from other sets. I’d bought a shepherd playing bagpipes in Ireland that I use. Still no man with a bread basket, but I may search eBay to complete my set with those original pieces.

For sure, next year when I set up my nativity for Christmas, I’ll be smiling and thinking of Ms. Hanlon’s children playing with her Gloria angel.

You can read her touching blog about “Finding Gloria” here.

21 12, 2020

A Much-Needed Holiday Tradition in a Pandemic Christmas

By |2020-12-21T05:56:23-06:00December 21st, 2020|A Writer's Life, Holidays|0 Comments

A long time ago, I began including newsy letters in our Christmas card greetings. In the beginning I wrote out the notes on individual cards.

With the introduction of word processors, I began to mass produce the letter. I know, I know some people loathe mass printed letters in cards, but I love them.

Keeper of things that I am, I have copies of every letter I’ve written, and there are a lot. The youngsters in that first picture card are all now parents and two are grandparents!

Last year for Christmas, we copied and compiled all the letters into notebooks for each of the children.

While it was never my intent to record family history, the letters are a memoir of sorts.

Reading through them sure brought back memories for all of us.

 

We’ve moved a lot between our military years and corporate days. I count Christmas greetings from friends with letters inside a real blessing, especially since our in-person visits are limited these days.

This year more than ever, we need to count blessings. Name them one by one as the old hymn says. If you don’t like the Christmas letter idea, it’s still a good idea to take some time to write down what’s been good this year. Remembering happy, positive things can, in turn, lift our spirits.

After the year we’ve had, I’m all for lifting spirits. How about you?

As 2020 comes to end (at last), it’s time for Chicken Wrangler Sara and me to begin our annual holiday break. See you back here on January 4 with new thoughts and views from the front porch.

Until then, enjoy the archives. We’ve been doing this since February 20, 2012. Hard to believe, isn’t it? There’s lots to browse.

14 12, 2020

Christmas Traditions during a Pandemic – classic movies

By |2020-12-01T15:37:52-06:00December 14th, 2020|Holidays, one word Wednesday|3 Comments

Getting in the holiday spirit during this season is proving hard for many of us. Since we’re hanging close to home, we’re watching classic movies.

I suspect most of my readers weren’t around when White Christmas debuted in 1954. But, I’m guessing everyone has heard the song and many watched the classic.

White Christmas is right up there at the top of favorite Christmas movies with It’s A Wonderful Life.  Nothing sets the holiday mood better for me than a bag of popcorn in hand and watching the musical set in New England.

White Christmas has it all — romance, Rogers and Hammerstein songs, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney singing, Danny Kaye dancing.

Below is a clip of my favorite scene. I love the costumes, the dancing, and the singing.

Now don’t you feel more in the holiday spirit?

Ironic that hearing the classic song brings on images of Christmas past and the promise of Christmases future, especially since it was written tongue-in-cheek by Irving Berlin, a Jew who did not much care for the holiday.

Do you have a favorite classic holiday movie for getting in the holiday spirit?

7 12, 2020

Christmas Traditions during a Pandemic

By |2020-12-01T15:07:54-06:00December 7th, 2020|A Writer's Life, Holidays, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Christmas 2020 will be different. That shouldn’t stop us from all our traditions.

One of my familiar things to do is watch A Claymation Christmas Celebration. If you’ve never seen it, you’ve missed a real treat.

The program aired on CBS TV in 1987 and  won a 1988 Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program. We watched the show live and then for years afterward popped our video in the VCR to kick-start the holiday at our house. It’s available on YouTube nowadays.

The animation is something called stop motion clay animation that rivals some of today’s high tech productions.

So what’s the story about?

Two prehistoric dinosaurs one named Rex, an intellectual tyrannosaurus, and the other Herb, a dimwitted, bespectacled styracosaurus with a voracious appetite, are the main characters. The pair guides you along a typical small town’s Christmas choral celebration with various Christmas carols preformed. The California Raisins are special guest stars.

Throughout the story, Rex tries to explain the true pronunciation and meaning of the term wassail. Different groups sing their rendition, all of which are lyrically incorrect.

Finally, a large truck loaded with elfin, cider-swilling townsfolk arrives, singing the correct version. When one of the townies explains wassailing means going around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols and getting treats and cordials, Rex’s theories are validated, much to his delight.

My favorite carol from the show is “We Three Kings.”

The Walrus ice-skating to “Angels We Have Heard on High” is a very close second.

 

If you want, you can watch the full thirty-minute show on YouTube here.

For repeated viewing, you can purchase your own VHS video from Amazon or a DVD with Will Vinton’s Claymation productions for Easter and Halloween.

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