Winter Holiday Stories!


Happy Holiday!
Welcome to this Multi-Cultural Winter Holiday Treasure of Stories, images, music and videos!
The dates after each link show the year they were added to this page ~ at least one new one each year ~ it's become a Holiday Tradition, itself! May you enjoy many visits here throughout your holiday season!

  • Angels! Angels! Angels! ~ 2008 - 2013 Important Angels, Fun Angels, Available Angels ( in most cases ) !



  • True Story ~ 2001

    Stocking Stuffers ~ The Strawberry Top




    We love the Winter Holidays with all the trimmings - ALL the trimmings! And so, the fun of stocking-stuffers is refreshing.
    It began just so lightly - a renewal of awareness that the true spirit of Christmas is a small and shining thing that connects people in a special way!

    Our men were home from Viet Nam, our babies born, and work and study and family life going strong and happily!
    So much to be thankful for at Thanksgiving time and such Happy Winter Holidays
    - budgets could not dim the spirits overflowing with all the good things!

    There was a wonderful Decorator in our town who'd help me make my modest money look like a million - and her Last-minute Holiday Sale was not to be missed!
    Everyone could be sure to find a dazzler, affordably priced.

    And one year, among some tiny, lovely things piled in a basket, I found there, a little wooden strawberry-shaped top to add to our stocking stuffers.

    Three inches high, in the shape of a strawberry, and with a simple green spinning stick, protruding at the place for the stem, it was painted bright red-pink, with green strawberry seeds dotted all over it, and it cost all of 75 cents. I smiled at the "find" - a treat in every way, so far: "Sold!" And home we went.

    With lots of things of the day, under the tree, I did not give it much thought.
    It was just a little thing to look classic and cute in the stocking for our "very-good-all-year-long" children, and happily tucked it into one of them.

    But, on Christmas morning, after Church and the thrill of the opening of gifts and glee and feasting and hugs all around, our children were fascinated by the mirthful little top.
    They loved their gifts, many of them had been high on their list of fervent hopes and wishes, but the Strawberry top often won center stage for their attention! And we all had to enjoy turns with the little charmer!

    Each Christmas, thereafter, the top was among the first of the Holiday trimmings to be brought out from storage and we'd delight in anticipation of the first turn to spin that tiny Strawberry Top, as an effective ritual, signaling the start of holiday celebrations ! As the years passed, spinning the strawberry top became a key family tradition - a special moment and a focus for commitment to doing our part to make that year's Winter Holidays the warmest and most loving and dearest ever !

    A remarkable top! A wonderful top!
    An amazing top!
    A mirthful top!
    A remarkable spinning strawberry top!

    When our spaniel pup put a tooth-mark in it, teething, we held our breath, at top-spinning time...would it spin? A wooden top depends on a delicate balance. The pup-chewing might have ruined it! Undaunted, it spun as merrily as ever! And with our "otherwise-very-very-good" pup's toothmark in it, we loved it all the more! It was now unique; one-of-a-kind!

    The marvelous top would spin and spin, and spin and spin - for more than a full minute - and more than that sometimes! My sci-tech husband was impressed! Each time, proclaiming the strong and merry life, in the very smallest things, that always touches our hearts, and especially, at the Winter Holidays!
    Gathered around it, watching it, seemed to make a magic moment of oneness in our little family circle. Marvel!

    All too soon, our children were in their early teens, but our love and delightful times with the Strawberry Top did not waver. ~ until the summer their Father died suddenly, and you can imagine, that first Christmas following brought some really sensitive moments - that first one without him, except for his spirit, with us, always !

    That year, the Strawberry top earned its honors - with the children, so solemn , at my side ... hushed... Deliberately, I never remember whose turn it was to do the honor of the first spin! But one of us snapped-to with the quick and lite and firm twirl to the now slightly-worn wooden stem... "I guess we're ok !", I said, tearful but triumphant, as the top spun merrily and imperturbably, on the tabletop... bright, steady and strong - downright plucky!

    "The Strawberry Top still spins ! "

    Our hearts were truly lighter for it! And we three, now ... we did just fine!

    Even after the children grew up and "flew up" to fine life on their own, they sought that top at the holidays! A barometer, of a sort... life changes, but love is eternal! Our grownup Cancer Society executive daughter made an emerald green velvet pouch for it, with bright red velvet lining, and tiny clear crystal beads, like snowflakes, on the outside, and a satin cord drawstring to close the pouch and protect it snugly. The Strawberry Top had earned the royal treatment! Our News IT executive son always asked for it. It was no holiday without the strawberry top! If I visited them at the holidays, the top, securely in its pouch, would come along, and make the key moment with "we-three" together and loving one another for another wonderful year! How nice, to have a thing, so easy to take along, for a special bit of magic!

    Then in 2008, somewhere between my house and my daughter's the Strawberry top disappeared!

    We searched high and low, near and far, "two times" with no luck! We had to accept the fact that there would be no more Strawberry Top at Christmas. "NO - I am an artist", I thought - maybe a friend who works in wood might help and we could MAKE a new one and even put Apples' teethmarks back in it." But no luck in that direction.
    Then I looked online to simply buy a new one but there were none to be found!

    Sadly, I let it go. No small thing, the loss of a three-inch mirthful strawberry top!

    The Strawberry Top will be alive within us, always! My daughter and I thought perhaps that whoever found it may have more need of it than we did. It had served us during some pretty special times! And since the Spirit behind the Strawberry top was JUST that good, it really fixed our feelings.

    We wished that all should find and enjoy a Strawberry Top of their very own! And let it be.

    But there There really are Angels! at HOLIDAY 2011 - this wonderful update to share!
    We thought the story ended. But no. I TOLD you it was a remarkable top!

    I am good and practical and was resolved happily enough with the loss, but Christmas 2011 was a working holiday for me and, I was missing the celebrations, and New Years approaching; my mood was not what I would wish.
    Muddy thoughtfulness and chiding myself to enjoy the glow of Christmas Past and do better.

    Sluggishly, I typed "Strawberry Top" in Google Search, and then clicked .
    The page burst forth with such an extravaganza of Strawberry tops I jumped!

    I cannot remember when I was so delighted! Londji a toy company in Spain sells, by the dozen if you like...
    Strawberry tops
    andddd...
    apple tops,
    carrot tops,
    pear tops ,
    striped tops,
    Tops of the World
    and more!

    Christmas! If you've read the story so far, you may have some idea of my jubilation and shock, so suddenly rescued! I emailed Londji and sent this link to explain my query - there was no purchase option for the tops at the webpage, and would they help me?! They are at Facebook, and I left the note there, too! In spare moments, I mused about just how I might wish to purchase this wonderful thing!

    But Londji was not done delighting me! Londji Responded: no purchase for me; they liked the story so much they are sending me the GIFT of a new Strawberry top!

    I only half believed them because people get expansive at the winter holidays, then forget and go their way.

    But then it was January 21, 2012 - Saturday noon! At the time, I was bunking in at an old historic scenic Mill art Studio - Lovely but no mailboxes.
    Connecticut snowfalling, I put on my boots for the 10-block hike to the Post Office, but had not gone a block when friends spotted me, chiding me for "traipsing" in the weather, though they know I do that normally, and gave me a lift.

    On our way, I told them the story, and then they understood my cheerful motive for braving the weather. They pulled up and waited, as I accessed my Post Office Box. There it was, as promised - and now "myown". Not wishing to keep my Good Samaritans waiting, I ran back out the door, to share it immediately!- Tobias and his Mom Bonnie were nearly as delighted as I was and warm hearts won over the blizzard all the way home and farewell !

    The place I cleared for it in my window seat became a stage with one Strawberry Top Dancing at my spin ....Yessss!!!! In appearance, nearly identical and in its performance, every bit as lovely!

    The Strawberry Top passed the test and spun for over a minute almost immediately!

    A remarkable top!
    A wonderful top!
    An amazing top!
    A mirthful top!
    A remarkable spinning, marvelous strawberry top!
    Such a small thing, to create such grand spirit and life!

    All I can say is "thank you so much" Londji and share it all here, to pass along the wonderful tale that is true and still spinning!

    I found a tiny lighted pedestal for the Mirthful Strawberry Top, and, at the top of a mound of clear marbles,
    it radiates the light and reigns throughout the Winter Holiday Season and remains, not far, the rest of the year!


    My dreaming wish this year? To spin that top not alone but with my Honeymooning son and UK daughter-in-law, my daughter and her beau, in my new home, with or without a new beau of my own! A nice dream - a strong six at the top-spinning moment. If not this year, certainly next, since all three of us are in new homes with new lives at setup and "no time off" status. Top-spinning on SKYPE may be fine for now!

    I hope you enjoyed this story so far! And it's updates. I end with this wish: May your holidays merrily spin, and spin, also, and always!
    May you enjoy a Happy Holiday and a most prosperous and healthy NEW YEAR ! .....

    "Mirth on Earth !"
    ....Elle Fagan .....








    ~


    My church added this "After Mass" prayer for the Christmas Season. With us at war, it is a good one.


    Called To Peace

    If there is to be Peace in the World,
    There must be Peace in the Nations.

    If there is to be Peace n the Nations,
    There must be Peace in the Cities.

    If there is to be Peace in the Cities,
    There must be Peace among Neighbors.

    If there is to be Peace among Neighbors,
    There must be Peace in the Home.

    If there is to be Peace in the Home,
    There must be Peace in the Heart.

    Let us be the Bearers of Peace!

    Amen.


    Nice, isn't it?

    It is important to say that Peace is not referred to in the Perfectionist sense - that may never happen in this world!
    But it gently reminds us of the value of even the smallest gesture of peace, at all levels.

    It is also important to realize that we can rejoice because most of us DO achieve a certain amount of Peace within and without, or we'd seldom make it to Friday!
    Let us praise one another and ourselves for the good we do each day, as we pray to do more.

    But with us at war, we believe it helps to call , extra, for Peace, specially, and always at Christmas , with its beautiful, age-old message of

    Peace on Earth, Good Will to All Mankind.


    Elle











    Legend - fable - fiction
    The Robin's Christmas Story
    from "A Christmas Stocking" by Louise Betts Egan


    On that first Christmas, it is said, the night was wrapped in a bitter chill. The small fire in the stable was nearly out, and the Mother Mary worried that her baby would be cold, she turned to the animals about her and asked them for help.

    "Could you blow on the embers," she asked the ox, "so the fire might continue to keep my son warm?"

    But the ox lay sound asleep on the stable floor and did not hear her. Next, Mary asked the donkey horse and the sheep to breathe life back into the fire, but the sleeping animals did not hear Mary. She wondered what to do.

    Suddenly, Mary heard a fluttering of little wings. Looking up, she saw a plain, brown-colored little robin fly into the stall. This robin had heard Mary calling to the animals and had come to help her himself, he went over to the dying fire and flapped his wings hard.

    His wings were like little bellows, huffing and puffing air onto the embers, until they glowed bright red again. He continued to fan the fire, singing all the while, until the ashes began to kindle.

    With his beak, the robin picked up some fresh, dry sticks and tossed them into the fire. As he did, a flame suddenly burst forth and burned the little bird's breast a bright red. But the robin simply continued to fan the fire until it crackled brightly and warmed the entire stable. The Baby Jesus slept happily.

    Mary thanked the robin for all he had done. She looked tenderly at his red breast, burned by the flame, and said "From now on, let your red breast be a blessed reminder of your noble deed."

    And to this day, the robin's red breast covers his humble heart.






    Artwork








    True story

    " Hopper "

    It began at a special time and place!
    A friend's apartment featured a veritable computer think-tank, in a cedarwood-panelled country home office, full of windows and window coverings, books and comfy chairs for the long hours online, in hilly upstate Connecticut.

    We were working on our new websites, sometimes with two or more friends, when the house cat, Snowpuff, came to the door and meowed to come in. My friend, a mature type, was not normally all that expressive, so I jumped a bit, when I heard his burst of laughter, as he opened the door:

    Snowpuff posed in the doorway with a companion, and gestured for permission for his new friend to come in, along with him.

    The weather was bad. Spring in Connecticut is a delight, its alleuvial soil and cold winter investments yielding an extravaganza of flowers, but sometimes backslides, with an Easter snowfall, or damp and chilly rains. And Snowpuff's new friend was a baby squirrel.

    There were no little ones in the house...not much fear of disease risk to a child, from befriending an animal from the wild.

    The baby squirrel sat alongside the cat, politely following his host's lead, as any two pals might do, and so my friend laughed again, and invited them both in.

    The two entered in fine spirit. And with Snowpuff hosting, the baby squirrel found the food and water bowls and litter box in under ten minutes, as we wondered at such an instant adaptation.

    The guest squirrel was soon bringing laughter throughout the house on that cold, grey and rainy day. He interacted at once, and related to the three adults at the home that day, as well as to his feline host. He seemed to scamper everywhere, hopping from chairback to chairback as if to imitate his natural habitat....so we named him "Hopper". He was small and clean and light, so his antics were amusing and not destructive.

    The weather did not improve and Hopper spent the night, with no issues. He brought warmth and some extra sweetness to the home, in the discouraging weather. We declared the event in good order and went back to work, all in a merry mode.

    In subsequent days, Hopper would keep us happy company, and the place glowed a bit extra at the new life it protected.

    One day,scampering about, Hopper found me at work at the computer and found his way into my pocket ,and began a habit of spending naptime there.....simply climbing in and going to sleep!

    Again, our unexpected guest earned his keep!

    However, baby squirrels grow quickly, and soon Hopper was chewing the wickerwork , and "going wild" , the scampering no more; his movements were now powerful, and our place was too tame.

    Not long after, with "his host Snowpuff", on one of his forays out to the yard, he did not return.

    The 'way of the wild', they'd say in olden days. But no matter... he'd done it right for us while he was among us, and I wondered if he would be forever a "special squirrel", from his experience with us... would he impact his natural world specially? But, again, we all had to let it go, and get back to work, through moments when, "conspicuous in its absence" was the life of Hopper with us. The glow remained.

    A few weeks later, Hopper returned! He ran right indoors without hesitation, too shelter from another serious storm. And scampered easily right back out, when the weather cleared. Laughing again, we were relieved to see that, apparently Hopper's re-adjustment to the wild went just fine, and that he was one smart squirrel, to see to himself so cleverly.

    We mention him occasionally, to this day.

    I do not recommend "getting friendly" with undomesticated animals - it can be dangerous. Still, for us that time, it worked out well, and reminded us of the grand truths of life and its rights.
    May we all respect all life in all forms, always, and celebrate the exchange of life among all life forms, for the good of it all, to our best ability.

    Thank you , Hopper!

























    A Fun, Tech-friendly, Future-Carol to add to Classic Holiday Favorites !
    Sing to the tune of "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen!"

    God Bless You, Merry Macintosh !

    God Bless you, Merry Macintosh !
    Let nothing you dismay!

    And with your new IntelInside
    We always win the day!

    We team so well, and in top form,
    for so much Work and Play!


    Ohhhhhhhh, Mac, life is true Comfort and Joy!
    - Comfort and joy
    Ohhhhh, Mac, my life is true comfort and joy!



    The night was dark, the moment dire,
    When first you came to me!

    At just my deepest hour of need
    You filled my heart with Glee!

    And soon a brand-new Dawn arose
    So much to do and see!


    Ohhhhhhhh, Mac, life is true Comfort and Joy!
    Comfort and joy
    Ohhhhh, Mac, my life is true comfort and joy!



    We've worked and won without a care
    Thru times that made men roast,

    And new success again this year
    and please ~ 'tis not a boast!

    But modest humble song of praise
    To all we raise this toast!


    Ohhhhhhhh, Mac, may we know Comfort and Joy!
    Comfort and joy
    Ohhhhh, Mac, may life be true comfort and joy!














    True Story
    ...and, as promised,

    The Story of Oscar the Mouse...

    Our homes and neighborhood were classic ~ we lived in two, during my childhood, and this one, in 1959, was part of my Mother's inheritance from her Father, and when things were lean during the big depression, one of the upstairs bedrooms was used for a hatchery for the baby chicks that would provide 'eggs for sale' for extra money, and food for the family of many children. When my Mother inherited it, later, in happy and prosperous times, she and my Father remodeled it completely, and he carved her name in a heart on one of the foundation supports ... and it was a showplace: with respectable property attached and gardens of mountain laurel, iris, forsythia, azalea, pussywillow, dill, chinese lanterns, roses, and trees of crabapple, macintosh apples, green pears, purple plums and huge maples with a swing always there, and evergreens to tantalize us with promise of Christmas, all year long!

    This year, however, we had a problem: construction of new homes, begun that summer, just across the street, was going quietly and beautifully and our real estate value expected to improve from the neighborhood upgrade; if only the clearing of the field hadn't created many homeless field mice, the project would have been flawless.

    We were happy and loving people, but our aging, faithful spaniel could not take a cat in the house just then, so, suddenly being "overrun by the little critters" created a lot of work, and as much laughter as frustration ... and it was a mighty challenge for a bit ... they were everywhere ! My Libra father did not even like a mousetrap, but here we were, forced to learn, at his instruction, how to properly bait one, and set it effectively and "disinfect like crazy" before and after success with it, since such animals can carry serious disease.

    My Mother, aghast, recruiting my Sister and I to sweep and scrub, to clean after the odd-smelling leavings found everywhere ... including the drawer that held our eating utensils ! Seated at the table, the acoustic ceiling above us echoed a "tick-a-ta-tick-a-tuh-tick-tick-tick" , as the mice ran across ... stopping dinner and dinner conversation and discouraging appetite for continuation of the normally jolly time. After bedtime, the quiet in the house created more of the same, as our marauders scampered about the attic, and spaces between floors and walls, and basement.

    The traps were set in earnest when the harmless nibbling cut the wire on one of the burners of our kitchen range, causing dangerous sparks, blown fuse and dysfunctioning range burner; and one night at dinner, we teamed up, again, as a survival group, when a glance at the scritchity noise overhead was met by the glance returned from one of the mice, whose industry had bored a hole right through the munchy acoustic tile ... we looked at one another with big eyes, unable to swallow our food, but always social, we remembered, "Well, how do you do ?!" , to this unexpected guest... More traps, and success, and one more demonstration from our Father: acoustic tile patch repair 101.

    The New England summer had peaked, and many rodents hibernate, so, thanks to our responsible activism, and the season, we experienced relief ... "wow! no more mice!" ... and we did not realize how much bedlam the mice caused, till the relief and fatigue we shared afterward made it very clear ... my goodness! For a family-bonding experience, we would have been happy to "skip it", though the chase had often made us a laughing team, in this tv-sitcom misadventure.

    Time passed, as did Summer, and Autumn, and the uproar in our home calmed and then shifted into Winter Holiday preparations. It had been some time since our ' Battle of River Street Field Mice '. But now, we were the "scurry-ers", with so much to do! Cooking, at least, was again safe and hygienic, without the mice, and decorations and shopping and choir and Christmas-caroling group and the sacred re-enactment of the birth of Jesus, and midnight mass, and Santa, restoring all the warm and generous feelings, perhaps, dented by the in-house assault of a few months before.

    Relaxing with television after another busy Holiday Preparation day, my brother, wide-eyed, silently tugged at the sleeve next to him, and so on, till he had our attention ... he pointed to the very center of the livingroom carpet, just behind the TV area: Aaaaaa... mouse ! ... sitting up and politely alert, as though he had been invited to join our circle! He was theater, in his cheery innocence; solitary, self-contained and thoughtfully sharing the television program, he kept to his spot, as though it truly was his spot. We simply stared in disbelief, and determined not to lose our Christmas Spirit, warily welcomed him to the circle and enjoyed the Television Program with our unexpected and unlikely guest. Sometime during the show, he must have left, since he was gone when we next glanced in his direction. Off and on, but ongoing, throughout that holiday, the mouse reappeared ... and an imaginary, smiling, rapport developed among us, and our "Secret Sharer" of-another-sort, as he carefully took the same spot on the carpet, and seemed to fit right in. After the first few visits, my Brother named him "Oscar" - he was quite the "ham" - and after all the "mouse-in-the-house" troubles, this Christmas Mouse brought warmth and smiles and a secret among us, since most of our neighbors would not understand this "about-face" rapport with a rodent.

    Our Father sent us to our Compton's Encyclopedia and the library helped: Like Cricket on the Hearth, Christmas Mouse stories are very old in literature, since it is normal for them to scurry into a warm spot from the strong, cold, weather. In days before good household disinfecting cleaners, they probably caused a health problems, and worse, and sometimes still can and do. I know we boiled the place, stem to stern, at home, till the mice stopped invading.

    And yet, Oscar's visit was a "different story, altogether"! And my Father, being always the Libra philosopher, captured our eyes and attention with that look that says, ' there is an important life lesson to be learned here.'

    "And now," he said, we have a "Christmas Mouse" story of our own. Silent, but, in happy warm agreement, my Mother smiled: don't touch him, but, ok, for now ... the extra disinfecting from him this winter will probably save us from colds, too !

    Sometime thru that holiday, Oscar ended his visits, but more than forty years later, the memory is still a delight!
    I hope you think so , too!

    May we celebrate the special winter holiday renewal of the fundamental spirit of Hospitality throughout the Season, especially for unexpected and unusual Guests ! ~ elle

    image credit: Animation Factory






    Author's Note:



    I like to share stories of "Life Before the Age of Aquarius", both to enrich the understanding of our grownup children, and to
    praise our parents....
    our life force did not come from nowhere...
    it came from them...
    from their achievements and their frustrations...
    we are, to the best of our own limited ability, their justification...
    and this is the time of year to bring it all up and feed ourselves through cold months and difficult moments...
    on the love, the courage and the fun and the beauty of their gifts to us!
    My own Mother was double-orphaned, but with a lucky genome, and property, and lots of siblings...
    through the years, as different from one another they may have become,
    they would bond to learn, to work, and make and share a loving home and be loving parents, because of the parents they barely knew...
    I just want to praise them! After having parented, and reached midlife, I am so impressed with them, all they did and felt and shared and gifted to us...
    All of them were greatly influenced by their spouses' family values, and so it is simple logic that I write here, since my Father's people were hometown Irish-American, loved work, arts, and family loyalties, and sometimes, America, most of all!
    Thank you !


    In the Fities and early sixties, The Magi were Mother, Father and God! All year long we celebrate our diversity in work and play, but at the Winter Holidays, we honor our ethnicity specially. So much of the beauty of my holiday memories shines from the special "lost art" feeling from the childhood ethnic observances. So I hope to share these stories well.

    My children find it helps their understanding of their elders, and since it is so foreign to them, they seem to be truly interested! My generation did the corporate relocations, and so had little awareness of their roots except for visits with a few of them, and too few of them. Grown, they celebrate their previously-hidden soul - the many, many relatives astound and delight them, and I suspect that it helps them maintain balance in their futuristic psyches.

    This page, then, is a bit more than a simple sharing of the luminous things at the Winter Holidays, but I hope my visitors enjoy at least that much !










    ~

    Christmas Fantasy


    Santa & Mrs.

    My house was too quiet, with Christmastime near!
    My feelings too lonely! My eyes shed a tear!
    I locked up for the night and so, off to bed,
    But sat up again, averting my head
    To the space between shelves that divided the rooms,
    With one little lamp to break up the gloom.
    Right there on my chairs, just taking a rest,
    Were "Santa & Mrs." My house was so blessed!
    They saw I was shocked and said not to fear:
    "Your place is so quiet, we thought we'd stop here!
    And just take a break from Holiday noise!
    There's so much to do for good girls and boys!"
    Well! I was pleased, and feeling much better!
    They rested and napped, then back out in the Weather...
    I guess is what happened, since I, too, got sleepy.
    Soon, I was napping and no longer weepy!
    And when I awoke, they seemed to be gone...
    Me, alone, but not lonely, enjoying a yawn!
    This yarn for the season I hope you'll recall,
    When enjoying its picture, among one and all!

    e.s.fagan winterholidayY2K








    True Story








    The True Meaning of Christmas
    ~ and Some of its Symbols.


    Symbols ! A Part the True Meaning of Christmas
    Sometimes such questions are not really a question, but an opportunity.
    A chance, once more, for all mankind to think about it for a minute, and share their insights -
    to celebrate the diversity of understanding, and its source in a unity of Truth.

    To Christians, for whom Christmas is named, The True Meaning of Christmas is very simply, the Celebration of the Birth of Christ -
    "Christ's Mass" is the source of the word.

    However, most of its symbols were there long before.
    The Christian religion is said to be eclectic - that is, evolved from that which came before.
    The goal was outreach to existing beliefs - using old symbols to help explain new concepts worked.
    In time, legend, lore and thought enhanced the value of the symbols, and gave richer meaning.

    That symbols relate to us and grow with us, reassures us that it is a good thing.

    And that is why cultures and belief systems that seeming have little in common share similar symbols -
    they grew from one another, sourcing in the same source of life and aiming there, as well.

    Winter Holiday? It's about light and warmth and the life things in the months when nature challenges, with cold, dark, and minimum growing things to eat.

    It's about life ! The Winter Holidays began as gatherings of folk to share life-saving observances. Things that were found to vastly improve the winter months.
    And soon man realized that if these gatherings were made attractive, desirable and even fun, their lessons were more likely to be learned.

    People would come to hear things they should hear; to learn the way of it all; to practice the ways and well! And so is sourced so much of ritual and tradition. Someone tried it and it worked!

    One of the reasons elders howl as traditions change or are dropped is because the observaces were taken up by people because they serve a LIFE purpose - and in a very subtle way. If we drop old traditions we may forget the survival message in them - survival of the spirit, as well as of the body and culture.

    The rest of the symbols we associate with the Winter Holidays are varied - I have listed a few of them here, and placed links to pages with more complete data, and you may enjoy finding more on your own - share them with me if you like!

    The Christmas emphasis on Fellowship and Brotherhood and Community we show in many gatherings and special closeness in the family circle - this, too, is about giving a good vitamin pill to the part of us that experiences life as a power and motive and goal, all at once.

    The weather may discourage it all, but with this little bit of encouragment, called 'holiday jollity' as they say in one old song, we win over it easily!

    On the life level, it reminds us to group up and help one another should the bad day befall us. With so much fun in these observances, it tells us that the outcome of a bad day, confronted as a group, is quite likely to be very good, too. We relish it.

    It's about LIFE!

    We like symbols of things at this time of year, too! They speak in all languages, and without a word.

    And end with this message, now and always!
    "Peace On Earth ~ Goodwill Toward Man ! "




    Here are a few notes concerning other Winter Holiday Symbols - if you email me with more, I will add them here:

  • SCROOGE ~ The Winter Holiday and Christmas messages are so important to our "basics" - physically, spiritually, historically and personally - that we seldom wonder at the message of the stories and film versions of the "Scrooge" tale.

    "Scrooge" takes the idea further: it is not merely important to participate in the grand ideas of the Winter Holidays - To disdain the message is a danger. And the book was written at another time in our history when it was feared that folk might forget and later, suffer bitter regret.

  • CHILDREN - Why the special emphasis on children at the Winter Holidays? Not all that long ago, the child mortality rate was pretty high. Some bore large families with the idea that half of them might not reach adulthood. Even in the most primitive times, to charm the children extra in the dark cold days was much better than huddling in a corner,in homes where heat was an option, waiting to fall ill, till Spring.

    Our children are our bid on immortality. We know we cannot live forever, but through our children, it feels better - life will go on.

    So, it is only logical that some extra to enthuse the children should be practiced at this time of year. Only logical that we should honor Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus, so specially and his message of delighting the Children, as a reward for good behavior. Only logical that we wish to fill their minds and hearts with delight that often wins over even the illnesses of the cold winter days.

    And only logical, the emphasis on the "Holiday Bustle" and the importance of toys and other items to keep us busy and happy, especially in indoor activities, till Spring.

  • FIR TREE - the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind. All the needles point heavenward,making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven.

    We bring the fir tree and other fragrant evergreens indoors for fun, these days, and they still smell wonderful! But in olden times, housekeeping was not easy to do - and sanitation even worse. The boughs brought indoors were not an option, but the only thing for some folks to improve conditions indoors, with everthing shut up for the warmth till Spring.

  • STAR - the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of that promise. This is the most popular of the meanings, but there is so much more. The star is hope - light and direction in the darkness. Direction for the mariner, and land voyager alike, it symbolizes the fact that there are insights, directions, clues and inspiration in the darkest moments, through the toughest issues, and this message is so grand it impresses us, in ways that are out of reach to our consciousness and yet most profound. And of course, it's another simple symbol of light in the darker months.

  • CANDLE - for Christians the candle reminds us that Christ is the light of the world,
    and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness.

    The neat thing about even the simplest interpretation of the candle is that is Man-Made.
    The candle says that light wins and we can make light and so we have power to do something about the dark, the cold, the difficult issues.
    Not only do we benefit from light, we can generate it!

  • WREATH - a circle - a line that never ends, but continues, round and round - symbolizes the eternal nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection. Love is rich and enriched - so we warm to ones with greenery, and fruit and candies and sparkling ornamentation of every sort!
    Or maybe one so elegantly simple that it breathes the miracle of love as one simple statement. Delight!

  • SANTA - when we think of all the things we like, things we desire, just as we came from the womb, source in our parents, we feel instinctively that all good things come from an entity - SomeONE - and so the Santa symbol helps and improves feelings of benevolence and generosity in response, when we need something - a feeling that is echoed within us, and subtly helps even our inner workings.
    Believers see Santa as a God symbol - and a fine one he is!

  • HOLLY LEAF - is an old symbol of immortality. Green and bright red berries, when nothing else is doing much at all! To Christians, long ago it was said to represent the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent blood shed by Him. More about Holly

  • GIFTS - God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
    Jesus, the Ultimate Gift to Mankind!
    We also commemorate the Gifts from the Magi, the wise men, who bowed before the holy babe and presented Him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
    We should give gifts in the same spirit as the wise men."
    WE are profoundly reminded that all life is a gift. That each of us is, in turn a gift to life, and that in work and play, we exchange a bit of life as a gift to one another, and not just germs! - in our interactions we inspire one another and empower one another. Like a social gift in a box with ribbons or simply given, we take it home with us, and make good use of it, to enhance with beauty on a shelf or wall, or put to work in some way that helps, or we might save it or pass it on, as a gift, in turn, to another.

  • CANDY CANE - represents the shepherd's crook. The crook on the shepherd's staff helps bring back strayed sheep from the flock. We are part of the Human flock, of the Family of Man. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper. That in community we all help to maintain the group.

  • ANGEL - the angels heralded the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang 'Glory to God in the highest, on earth, peace and good will.'
    The Angel is a very powerful symbol. One we need in days so dark. Just as we learn all good things, in hope that we will be given the right insights to do our work, and our lives as we should, we still depend on the right insight to reach us at the moment it is needed. And this is the angel within us - the Angel who brings us the word and the inspiration, and the insight that wins the day. A symbol of all that is specially good in many spiritual ways.

  • BELL. The bell symbolizes guidance and return. As the lost sheep are found by the sound of a bell, the bell brings people to the fold. And the bell sings our the triumph of Christmas and all that it holds for us! It expresses, more than any one voice, the Exultation!

    As the ox and lamb, as the Angels, Shepherds and Magi, We bow down and worship Him, Jesus, our Lord, our God."



  • TV's EWTN website Advent page for Christmas lists more of the Christmas symbols explanations.












    MEMORIES OF A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS STAR



    Written in 2002, this little true story recalls earlier days:

    Christmas at our childhood home, in the 50's and 60's was luminous ! In good times or bad, always filled with love and energy, church and community, and special family experience. Mother's eleven siblings, Father's seven...family visits took all twelve days!

    Our parents were young, bright, beautiful and creative, and each year, we got busy, happily sharing everything that pleased, to make Christmas special.

    I especially loved outings to the family homestead, the "Little Whitehouse" for some of Grandpa's Running Pine for garlands, but the running pine was placed on the endangered list, that far back, and so we stopped the 'Currier & Ives'- type expeditions. We missed the event: such fun, to gather up the long vines, entwine them, till they created the evergreen fullness in a garland, and hang them over the mantles and anywhere else that felt grand to find some on Christmas morning!

    Fortunately fun begats fun! We were soon diverted with equal delight, to Developing the Art of The Purchase of the Perfect Christmas Tree and cultivating the mystified devotion to its decoration, care and feeding.

    Electric light shows on the outside of the home were an innovation, in those days, and thrilled us, as they do now! With the house outlined in lights and two lighted candlesticks of molded plastic, by the front door, Winter lost its power to freeze, entirely! And that is a thing to say: our New England winters could be discouraging, at times, with cold, ice, snow and storms.

    But not with our parents! Holiday-glowing, until we knew we should and could do something special - and so "The Star"!

    Commemorating The Star of Bethlehem, this would be a special star...if we could do it right, only the Original Star of Bethlehem could be better!

    And so began the talk and planning sessions at the kitchen table and sketches and plans for the project, so that our Star might dazzle and yet be strong enough to endure, outdoors, through wind and cold.

    With all of us contributing, and encouraged to contribute, our ideas and wishes and thoughts, planning was soon followed by some shopping for supplies, and then some serious evenings' work.

    The entire family, and a very special "Angel", a devoted friend of many gifts, gathered in the kitchen to assist and kibitz, as the work began...singing the holiday songs in three languages throughout! I think the only thing I hated from those days, was the cold glare from that flourescent kitchen ceiling fixture, but dark comes early in the winter, and I remember tuning out the insult of such light, and my Father giving me "the look" that said, sympathetically : "I know it's awful, but they'll get there with it, and we can rise above it, for this, easily!" He was, of course, right! And so, "to it"!

    In Connecticut's cold and windy winters, this Star would do just fine with a sturdy wood backbone, so Angel and our Father went to work at that! We might help measure and mark the wood, with the funny, flat pencil.

    Then a faceted, three-dimensional skeleton for the contours of the star, created with Wooden lath and dowelling, and supports for endurance at every angle, and weak space.

    Then Mother entered, and we three children, with boxes of aluminum foil, unrolling and crimping sheets of the shiny stuff, to create "billions and billions" of facets in them, when partly smoothed out. Such fun to wiggle the faceted sheets, this way and that, and pick up their sparkly fun! There were not yet many things that did so. We were in no hurry to be done!

    Such fun to mash the foil into balls, but not too hard, now! A perfect task for children our age!

    The crimped, smoothed foil was then stapled to the frame to fill out the contours created by the skeleton.

    We jumped back and forth, between hushed devotion to the task, and just plain old-fashioned glee! Our star was already looking amazing!

    Finally, the bulbless strings of lights were fashioned along each edge, height, width and depth of each point, and, varying the colors each year, a four-inch, heavy-duty outdoor bulb was fastened in each socket. The mood getting serious now....

    Then, with us keeping watch for safety and steady footing, Angel and our Father climbed to the porch roof, via the upstairs hall window, fastening our Star to the top front of our home, with "guy wires" of a sort, so that even the strongest winds would not disturb it.

    Then back indoors through the window, our Father making sure we gathered around him attentively. He would demonstrate the safe and strong method for creating the electrical connections. Our parents had a way of making things seem effortless in their youth, but it was a lot of work, and the concepts brave for the times. It would be our job to light the star each sundown and extinguish it in the morning, so the extra instruction with the wiring was important.


    But now

    the moment...

    big eyes!

    no noise!

    no breathing!

    ... the 'power-on' , as the rest of us flew to the front yard ....

    ...3,2,1.....

    TaaaaDaaaa!!!!!!!

    Fiat Lux!!!!!

    Let there be Light!!!!



    Completed, the star was more than three feet high, not including its supports, and thirty feet up on our rooftop and lit, it dazzled the entire neighborhood!

    Word spread, even then, about neat lightshows, and People came from miles around to see the spectacle, and, of course we were gleeful over both the star and the excitement it created at Wintertime!



    A real Christmas Star!



    And each year, for many years after, the Star was brought out from careful storage, the foil refreshed as needed, variations in the color scheme of the lightbulbs worked out and, one year, we even gave it the amazing new snowspray stuff!

    We loved it, and never lost interest in it, even when we were no longer "little ones" and mostly into things that were "cool"...

    We loved it so much none of us will remember how and when it disappeared from our lives!

    And remembering our Very Special Christmas Star still creates the glow that comes from within, and the desire to share its message of warmth and light in cold, dark places, just as far and as well as it will go!



    Author's note: year's later, I wondered if the Foil covered Star was precognitive... a precursor.....soon after the Star disappeared, my Father's hands were fashioning the gold foil that wrapped the Lunar Landing Module...crinkled foil on a much fancier star!...neat coincidence, no?


    Happy Holiday! Whoever you are, wherever you are, you surely do have a special light to share, as well...especially when you think otherwise! May it glow for you, forever!




    If you enjoyed the story, please tell me! Elle Fagan


    esfagan@ellefagan.com










  • A Christmas Gift for Fireplace Lovers

    A Family Hearth

    We no longer see the hearth as the heart of the family as in olden days. The Hearth was once the center of family life. At the hearth, daily, year-round was done the cooking, ironing, some cleaning, reading,and more, and of course it provided warmth in cold weather. Today, all these functions are performed differently and variously and yet we love the heart for its symbol of all these things from the dawn of Mankind.

    My current home is an apartment attached to a home with a jolly one that shares its glow in the two-sided fashion - one side faces the living room and one the dining room. Warm and good, it creates a healthy hardy feeling whenever it is lit. It shares of life of its own.

    I do not mind that my apartment has no fireplace when I can enjoy the memory of ours in Greenville, North Carolina, home to my late husband and our two children - Connecticut natives 1970-84. In Spring, the dressings at the hearth put away and all swept clean and filled with ferns who love the charcoal remnants. As did our pup, who would jump in and nap behind the ferns to enjoy the shade and the cool brick work on a hot summer day. Our children's laughter would tell us our Brittany, Apples, was in the fireplace again.

    Then was Autumn and time to prepare for cold weather with cleaning and fitting the hearth for the cold months ahead. And, of course, if Santa was expected to visit with Generosity on Christmas Eve, it was the consensus in our young family that the Fireplace should be super Santa-ready.

    Not so unusual an idea in itself - the hearth should be cleaned for safe functioning yearly and in Autumn since summer might have brought birds nests that could be a danger when the hearth was used.

    Fireplace cleaning was no chore, but a delight to the young children in our town, because the local service would send a workman in Classic English Chimney Sweep costume and there would be the performance of the ritual in merry fashion, enriching the holiday experience for our children and sometimes their friends.

    Sometimes the man who did ours would bring the music from "Mary Poppins" songs, along, and always the wonderful costume with coat, scarf and hat , a broom over the shoulder, as he danced into the den. The children and I would have everything ready for him, with the furniture moved out of the way so that he could get right to work. First laying sheeting to protect the room from dust, he'd empty the fireplace from fenders, door, grate and dogs/ firedogs and/or real dogs, like ours. And then with his vacuum running to catch most of the dust before it could land, it began: sweep, vacuum scrub and all along the merry music, and soon done! Then the process repeated in reverse and, smiling from our cash gifts and treats for him, out he'd go - dancing out the door.

    If he installed the heat exchanger, the task was done - or we would do it later.

    And we'd enjoy our together time around the hearth with warmth from the heat exchanger, hot cocoa, good stories and one another! And we'd relax - knowing that Santa's visit would not be blocked by a bad chimney, it having been officially inspected and swept! Nothing remained but hanging the stockings, extinguishing the fire, and opening the glass doors so the jolly elf could deliver his treats safely and quickly and enjoy the milk and cookies we'd left with a thank you Santa nearby.



    Simplicity of design genius, the front of the tubes fed a fan that blew the warm air into the room, NOT up the chimney. The wood burned normally, heating the metal tube grate and creating the same lovely fire. With our existing glass and brass screen, fully closed, there was zero heat loss, without sacrificing the fine Hearth experience in any way.


    My wish for you is that, however you enjoy a hearth of any sort, please do !

    ~~~elle

    A Christmas Gift for Fireplace Lovers

    The Pleasure of the Fireplace is an energy-saver, too, thanks to the Fireplace Heat Exchanger. I do not know why everyone does not have one. Those who do, feel they've won a great prize.

    Practically speaking, the fireplace experience is a huge heat-waster in the modern home; it takes all the house heat it can access up the chimney and imparts heat only if one is standing near the flames.

    But the Fireplace Heat Exchanger saves the day! It replaces the grid under the logs with one of hollow tubes which heat from the flames, and send the warmth into the room, rather than up the chimney, via a small fan attached outside the fireplace, discretely behing the woodstack. For best results, start with the glass fireplace enclosure. The outlets from the logs/heatgrid are placed in a narrow panel that rests beneath the bottom of the glass fireplace enclosure. Nearly invisible but wonderful! The appearance is normal and the behavior of the real logs and fire is normal but now the fireplace will help heat your home, instead of taking the heat up the chimney. They can be found in stores and where-to-buy/online in several designs from super country to uptown city but all of them wonderful . Happy Holiday!



    Happy Holiday and Best wishes for a fine New Year !



    There really is a Killarney And its message still rings true!
    I hope to get there one day, But, for now, the song'll do!
    Special thanks to Bing Crosby, whose American
    recording of the song, above, was "Top40" in the '40's!
    Photo above is of the Killarney Park Hotel
    in "actual" Killarney, near Dublin and its airport.
    find it online and visit...lovely! I do hope to get there!

    And if things Irish charm you, you may enjoy Irish & Other Celt at this site.

    Christmas in Killarney is an Irish Christmas song
    written by John Redmond, James Cavanaugh and
    Frank Weldon, copyright 1950.
    This song has been performed by many artists,
    most notably Bing Crosby on his album "White Christmas".

    Song: "Christmas in Killarney" sung by Bing Crosby, at YouTube !

    Christmas In Killarney


    The holly green!
    The ivy green!
    The prettiest picture you've ever seen!
    It's Christmas in Killarney,
    With all o' the folk from home!

    It's nice, ya' know,
    To kiss yer' beau
    While cuddlin' under the mistletoe!
    And Santa Claus
    You know, of course
    Is one o' the boys from home!

    The door is always open!
    The neighbors pay a call!
    And Father John, before he's gone,
    Will bless the house 'n' all!

    How grand it feels!
    To kick yer' heels,
    'N' dance to the tune of the Jigs 'n' Reels !
    I'm tellin' you no blarney!
    The like' you've nivver known!
    It's Christmas in Killarney!
    With all o' the folk from home!







    Origin of 'Jingle Bells' Song Is Debated + Songwriter's Hall of Fame Link
    By RUSS BYNUM, Associated Press Writer
    SAVANNAH, Ga.
    - Dashing in the sun, through oaks and Spanish moss. Sleigh riding's no fun, when there's no snow to cross. Could "Jingle Bells" really be a song of the South? It's not hard to see why balmy Savannah has a tough time selling the Christmas carol as a native creation. Or why the claim makes folks in Medford, Mass. _ hometown of the song's composer _ cry humbug.

    This much is known: James Pierpont was the organist at Savannah's Unitarian Universalist Church in 1857 when he copyrighted the song "One Horse Open Sleigh," a title later changed to "Jingle Bells." One of the most popular American Christmas songs, "Jingle Bells" made Pierpont a pre-Civil War one-hit wonder. But did he write it here as a piece of homesick, holiday nostalgia? Or did he compose it years before in Medford, not seeing the tune as a moneymaker until he drifted south? "No one really knows where he was when he wrote it _ that's the rub," said Constance Turner, Pierpont's great-granddaughter in Coronado, Calif. "Evidently, James was quite the free-spirit and he published some bad songs and one, at least, we know of that's a very good song."

    Medford, just outside Boston, claimed the carol without challenge until 1969, when Milton Rahn, a Savannah Unitarian, announced he had linked the song's composer to Georgia. Rahn was listening to his daughter play "Jingle Bells" on the piano when he glanced at the sheet music and noticed the composer's name: J. Pierpont. He had earlier found letters John Pierpont Jr., the church's pastor from 1852 to 1858, had written home to Medford saying his brother, James, had come to Savannah as an organist and music teacher. Further research found the composer had married in Savannah in 1857 weeks before he copyrighted "Jingle Bells." "I saw this as something to help us get publicity for the church," Rahn said.

    Pierpont, who lived from 1822 to 1893, was said to be a wanderer who ran away to sea at 14 and later went to California during the Gold Rush. During the Civil War, he joined a Confederate cavalry regiment in Savannah, bucking his family's staunch abolitionist views. Though Pierpont came from an aristocratic family _ his nephew was the financier John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan _ he never made much money himself. His other songs included several touting the Confederate cause, with titles such as "We Conquer Or Die" and "Strike For The South." But none struck a chord like "Jingle Bells."

    After Savannah erected a "Jingle Bells" marker across from the church in 1985, then-Mayor John Rousakis declared the tune a Savannah song. To folks in Medford, that made Rousakis and Rahn a pair of grinches out to steal their Christmas history. A series of not-so-jolly exchanges followed. "In the words of Shakespeare, it is our intention to keep our `honor from corruption,'" Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn wrote in a 1989 letter to Rousakis. "We unequivocally state that `Jingle Bells' was composed ... in the Town of Medford during the year 1850!" Rousakis fired back with an equally strong, unyielding letter. "James L. Pierpont is still here with us," Rousakis wrote, noting the composer's Savannah burial. "I am sure (Pierpont) will join us in spirit when we finally and formally proclaim Savannah, Georgia, as the birthplace of `Jingle Bells.'"

    According to Medford, Pierpont was inspired by the winter sleigh races down snow-filled Salem Street in Medford and wrote the song at the Simpson Tavern, a boarding house with the only piano in town. Ace Collins, author of the 2001 book "Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas," says he found more proof of Medford being the rightful birthplace while researching his chapter on "Jingle Bells." Collins said he found a New England newspaper from the early 1840s that mentioned "One Horse Open Sleigh" debuting in Medford at a Thanksgiving church service. The song proved so popular, he said, Pierpont gave a repeat performance at Christmas. When it comes to which city deserves bragging rights, Collins gets diplomatic. Pierpont may have written his song in Medford, he says, but Savannah made him realize its universal appeal. "Savannah was the key," Collins said. "If it can play in Savannah, where snow was a novelty, it can play anywhere."

    On the Net:
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah Georgia probable site of debut of "Jingle Bells"
  • Medford Massachusetts birthplace of author of "Jingle Bells"
  • Songwriters Hall of Fame ~ have fun finding the story behind other favorite songs, Holiday and "otherwise".
    Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



  • "The Night Before Christmas
    Please enjoy the Classic Fun! You may also enjoy following this link to learn about its author, Clement Clark Moore.
    If you find the story has begun without you... click "Stop" and take the little book to the startpage, using the "Previous" or "Next" buttons ! If the storybook disappears, the page has "timed-out".Just Press Refresh/Reload to continue! ... :-)

    Description:
    Number of Pictures:  of