Thursday, November 11

Here Come the Holidays!

Things Slowing Down 
Well, for the time being, things are slow here.  That will change soon, with the holidays fast approaching.  I'm very much looking forward to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's--I'm ready for the turkey, Christmas tree, Christmas music, and all of the other fun things that come around at this time of the year.  It's always been my favorite!  There's always something to do, whether it's shopping or baking or visiting, and I look forward to it all year long.  I have great memories of Christmas from when I was younger, and me and my family would go downtown to the annual nighttime light festival, where there would be a visit from Santa, Christmas music and carols that everyone there would sing, and then at the end of the festival, the switch would be thrown, illuminating a big city Christmas tree and dozens of other trees decorated with lights all throughout the park.  My mom would always decorate the house with all sorts of decorations, from strings of lights to bells, wax candle figurines, a Nativity that someone hand-painted for her, and so on.  There were always Christmas sugar cookies to eat and decorate, and I swear that there was more snow back then!  The tree would be assembled, and it seemed to just drip with all of the ornaments and decorations that we had.  A few presents were always under the tree a little early, just to tease us, and I admit that I would shake one or two when I thought no one was looking.  Christmas is such fun when you are a child.  We counted down the days to Christmas break, and we looked forward to playing in the snow with our friends.  I don't wish to be that young again, but I do wish that I could have that innocent view again.  Ah, the commercialization of Christmastime!  I really long for a Christmas devoid of material focus for a change.  I was in Kohl's last week (among other retail chain stores), and many of these places were already playing Christmas music!  While I don't mind it, it does seem to be a bit early for it.  I am guessing that the current economic state is prompting stores to try and get people in a spending mood earlier so that they can make their season goals this year.  But, regardless of what the stores want us to focus on at this time of the year, Jesus is and always will be the focus of my Christmas season (and all the rest of the year)!

Black Friday 
Well, now that you know how anti-materialistic I feel about Christmas, I thought I'd share with you a few websites that offer sneak peeks at Black Friday ads.  I don't--won't--go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving.  It's an unbending rule of mine.  Why on earth would I want to get up at the buttcrack of dawn--nay, before the buttcrack of dawn--to go and fight with a whole bunch of (fill in the expletive) women who have no concern for anyone around them, but just have to get the (fill in the hot toy/gadget/electronic fad) before you do, because if they don't, the world as they know it will end and the person for whom the gift is intended will, in fact, die if they don't receive it.  There is nothing that will get me out of bed that early to deal with that.  Ahem.  But for those who do enjoy the shopping experience, there are a few websites that post ads for many chain retailers weeks in advance:
Black Friday Ads-- they update their list whenever something new comes out.
Black Friday Info-- they offer several national chain store ads.
Black Friday--again, many chain stores. 
Black Friday 2010-- I think you get the idea.
Black Friday @ Gotta Deal--same as above. 
So, if early morning shopping is your preference, you can start planning now.  Hope this helps!  I'll be sound asleep, digesting waaaay too much turkey and stuffing.

White Fluffy Stuff
Well, I saw the first flurries last Friday.  What a thrill!  I was so excited.  I love snow, and I enjoy wintertime (for a while), and always eagerly anticipate the first significant snowfall of the year.  I love to have white Christmases and New Years.  It just seems to wipe clean the slate of the new year, and for many, a new start at accomplishing goals not attained the year before.  I don't really make resolutions at the beginning of the year; it seems too daunting.  If there is something I want to try and do, I just try to do it.  But others make resolutions every year, and that's fine!  Anyway, there's something great about watching the snow falling silently outside, while I am wrapped up nice and cozy in a big quilt drinking hot chocolate with a giant marshmallow on the top watching a movie with my best friend.  It's relaxing and a perfect way to spend a snowy day!

Where Did All of the Craft Shows Go?
I remember when I was younger that my mother, my sister and I would spend our Saturday mornings running around town to all sorts of holiday craft shows/bazaars.  You could find the neatest little handmade gifts at those things!  I loved to go to them.  I even sold something once, and did really well.  I have been going to a few craft shows in the area here, and what has happened??  There is nothing really to choose from, nothing original.  As someone who values hand-made crafts, as I am a crafty person myself, this makes me sad.  There is not the interest anymore that there used to be.  Everything is mass-produced and made in China as cheaply as possible, so no one is willing to pay for something made with quality and craftsmanship.  Half of the items for sale came from the Oriental Trading Company magazine!  So, I guess that if I want to give hand-made crafts this year, it looks as though I will have to make them myself.  Has anyone else noticed this?  Or am I the only dork that still goes to these things?

We celebrate Christmas in December of each year.  How this came about, who knows?  There is no evidence that Jesus was actually born this time of year; this is just when someone decided to make it a holiday.  Regardless, six weeks before the date of the Christ's birth, Mary must have been anxiously awaiting this event and His arrival.  Can you imagine what that must have been like?  What incredible excitement, and what a blessing, to be chosen to be the mother of the One who would die for our sins?  I can't!  Mary was indeed special for the Lord to choose her.  Joseph knew this as well: "21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."  (Matthew 1:21)  This is the true reason for why we celebrate Christmas every year.  I pray that you will keep that in your hearts, not only now when the holidays approach, but all year 'round.

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