It’s Time to Celebrate!!!

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My grandma was an awesome lady. She used to give my brother and I great words of advice and words of wisdom as we grew up…but that story is for another day. But there is one quote that she used to say to us…especially as she got older…that I am understanding more and more each day, “the older you get, the days get longer and the years get shorter.” WOW! Isn’t that the truth!!

It is hard to believe that it was almost six years ago, February, 2013, that I decided to start a little blog in which I could share motivational, inspirational, heartwarming, and entertaining stories that I would find on the internet or from other people. I used to thunk that if I ever posted 100 posts…that would be amazing…200 or 300 posts would be “out of this world.”

Well, today marks my 1,000 post on “Good Time Stories!”

I never imagined in a million years that I would ever post that many stories, etc. I have enjoyed every minute and every word of each one of them. For people that know me (and even if you don’t), there is nothing in the world that makes me happier, makes my life feel so fulfilled as helping and encouraging others! I truly believe that human beings are wired in such a way, that “it is truly better to give than to receive.” Think about it…when do you feel the best? When you receive something or when you give something to someone and see the joy and happiness in someone. The gratitude and joy that they send back to you is immeasurable…simply awesome. If you ever have a lousy day, try helping someone else or show them an act of kindness…it will change your whole day!!

So, my journey of finding and posting new words and stories of encouragement will continue. Hopefully, I will be able to continue to find these stories and anecdotes to brighten others in a world that primarily a dark place…and give them a reason to smile, laugh, and see that every life is beautiful and our amazing world is a good place to be!

Why Would God Really Want Me?

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Have you ever felt like a loser? Worthless? Have you ever felt like you are simply “spinning your wheels” and getting nowhere in your life? Have you ever asked yourself something like, What is the purpose of my life?”, or “What can’t I use the gifts and skills that I have?”

Maybe you say to yourself things like, “I’m not perfect.” “I have all kinds of problems.” “I have no ability.” “I have no gifts.” “I’m just not worthy. Why would God want me?”

Well, here are some interesting facts about many of the people that were mentioned in the Bible that God used in mighty ways DESPITE their shortcomings and weaknesses.

Did you know that?…..

Moses stuttered.
David’s armor didn’t fit.
John Mark deserted Paul.
Timothy had ulcers.
Hosea’s wife was a prostitute.
Amos’ only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning.
Jacob was a liar.
David had an affair.
Solomon was too rich.
Jesus was too poor.
Abraham was too old.
David was too young.
Peter was afraid of death.
Lazarus was dead.
John was self-righteous.
Naomi was a widow.
Paul was a persecutor of the church.
Moses was a murderer.
Jonah ran from God’s will.
Miriam was a gossip.
Gideon and Thomas both doubted.
Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.
Elijah was burned out.
John the Baptist was a loudmouth.
Martha was a worry-wart.
Noah got drunk.
Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse?
So did Peter, Paul – well, lots of folks did.

But God doesn’t require a job interview for salvation. He’s our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t look at financial gain or loss. He’s not prejudiced or partial, not judging, grudging, sassy, or brassy, not deaf to our cry, not blind to our need. He knows who we are and what we are and loves us in spite of ourselves

SATAN SAYS, “YOU’RE NOT WORTHY.”
JESUS SAYS, “SO WHAT? I AM.”
SATAN LOOKS BACK AND SEES OUR MISTAKES.
GOD LOOKS BACK AND SEES THE CROSS.

He doesn’t calculate how you failed in in the past. It’s not even on the record.

Sure, there are lots of reasons why God shouldn’t call us. But if we are in love with Him, if we hunger for Him, He’ll use us in spite of who we are, where we’ve been, what we have done, or the fact that we are not perfect!

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Source: http://gatewaytojesus.com/

A Nightmare in Norway

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As most of you already know, I enjoy finding inspirational, motivational, heartwarming stories and any other kind of story, picture, etc. that will leave a person giggling, smiling, or feeling good about life. Well, today’s story is no exception. The author is unknown, but the story is a tale about some soldiers who confronted a mob of angry warriors and an eyewitness account of what they experienced…then lived to tell the tale.

Here is their story.

“We were in the United States Marines, doing a mock war in the Norwegian city of Trondheim with the Dutch, Germans, and other allies, training in urban combat> My infantry unit was positioned in a large soccer field next to an elementary school. Keep in mind there was no actual combat, even simulated; it was mostly just practicing maneuvers and tactics. But we still looked out of place with our weapons and gear, etc. It was February in Norway. Cold a sheck. Snow up to our knees. Norway obviously has no snow days, so the kids were all in school.

Anyway, so Norway has this most delicious and amazing delicacy, I have no idea what it is called, but it is basically a bacon-wrapped hot dog; we assumed it was called Candy of the Lord. As Americans, we were naturally and instantly addicted. You find them in gas stations, and there just happened to be one on the other side of the school where we were camped. A few of my fellow Marines and I requested permission to go to the gas station and we set out on our way.

We made it to right about where the main entrance of the school was, and the doors opened…school was out. There were only a few kids, probably 6 or 7 years old. Lots of talking and laughing. Gawking at us as we walked by, with our guns and huge ridiculous snow suits. One precocious little guy made shooting noises at us. We made shooting noises right back.

Then someone in my group…I don’t know who…God help me, I don’t know who…

Someone threw a snowball and hit a little girl in the leg.

Then those little Norwegian children unleashed hell.

There was a shrill cry of unintelligible gibberish and the doors of the school burst open. School children flooded out like a never-ending flood of something that never ends. Screeching, smiling, sprinting – how in the world were they sprinting?” the little bastards were slinging snowballs faster than the law of physics should allow. It was like the movie Elf. If you can imagine riding fast in a car during a snowstorm and sticking your head out the window. Now imagine the snowflakes that are hitting your face are snowballs.

We couldn’t see a thing. We couldn’t run.

We could barely breathe

We were in hell.

We tried to return fire and threw one, maybe two half-packed crappy snowballs that fell apart in the air, arms flailing like a wimpy little kid. I am from Texas. We are a unit stationed in North Carolina. We were so outmatched and out of our element, it made them laugh even harder. We were cut off from our main forces. We tried to perform a flanking maneuver, but they were too fast. I think that some of them were even throwing rocks!

As for my comrades, I could see them speed waddling in their huge snow suits back to camp like a messed-up pair of Teletubbies under withering fire. Screw tactics, screw me, screw the Candy of the Lord…this was survival! I was the slow one in the group. My snow boots were too big but they were the smallest size they had at the Issue tent! My Marines had left me behind!

I tried pulling my hood over my head and keeping my head down. No longer content to pelt my body with ballistic snow, the enemy swarmed me and dragged me down, cackling like a bunch of hyenas descending on a wildebeest.  I tried to sling them off me by spinning. I came out of one of my boots and fell. I began to scream and plead for them to stop but they neither understood nor gave a single Nordic damn. They literally pinned me down with about five kids on each limb. It was then that I actually thought – “oh crap…I’m really in trouble.” My snow mittens were ripped off and flung into the trees. They started shoveling snow down my suit. Have you ever had anyone drop an ice cube down your back? Well, now imagine someone shoveling handfuls of ice cubes down your shirt. It literally shocked the breath out of my body!

They left me laying there like a Family Guy accident victim. Moaning and screaming in the cold. Rifle packed with snow and dirt. Boot buried somewhere. The kids ran away laughing and jabbering in their crazy language. I just lay there trying to figure out what in the world had just happened.”

 

Have a safe, warm day!

Growing Old: An Encouragement for Women (and Men)

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Bad news folks…we are all getting older!! The creaky bones, heavy legs, achy joints, blurry vision, and a host of other “jewels” that will adorn us throughout our “Golden Years” is either here or just around the corner. For many people, the realization that our bodies are getting older and that our aging is getting more apparent as time goes on, can be a troublesome thought, or sometimes, just downright depressing.

What we older people need is some encouragement !!

Well, I have good news! A friend of mine from college recently posted the following little ditty that I thought would be a good thing to share with everyone and encouragement all of us “old people” (I am going to be 56 in a couple weeks) that we have much to be proud of!

“To all my female friends of “age”… Most of us are going through the next stage of our lives. We are at that age where we see the wrinkles, gray hair, extra pounds. Menopause has already showed up or just waiting around the corner. We see the pretty 25-year olds and sigh. But, we were 25, too, just like they will one day be our age. What they bring to the table with their youth and zest for life, we bring with our wisdom, experience and good hearts. For all we’ve been through earning each gray hair… raising kids, bills and ills and whatever else life brought you/us over the 30s, 40’s, 50’s, & 60’s we are survivors… we are warriors… we are women (and men). Like a classic car or fine wine. While our exterior may not be what it once was, it is traded for our spirit, our courage and our strength to enter this chapter of our lives with grace and pride for all we’ve been through and accomplished. Never feel bad about aging. It is a privilege denied to many.”

Have a great day everyone and remember what Samuel Ullman once said,

“Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm, wrinkles the soul.”

A Man’s Guide to Lasting Relationships

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I recently came across the following guidelines that I think was a very interesting and helpful tool for all the men out there around the world who are involved with relationships with their wives, girlfriends, or other loved ones. Speaking as a man, there are many times that I wish that I had a simple guide to follow, and now I do! So, out of the goodness of my heart, I will share these principles with you. Enjoy.

A Man’s Guide to Lasting Relationships

  1. Find a woman who makes you laugh.
  2. Find a woman who has a job and loves housework.
  3. Find a woman who is honest.
  4. Find a woman who will wait on you hand and foot.
  5. Find a woman who is awesome in the bedroom.
  6. Most importantly of all, and it is very important…make sure that these five women never meet!!

PS This is a “tongue in cheek” guide folks…or is it? 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the giggle!

Have a great day and SMILE!

The Things Money Can’t Buy

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In today’s world, many people spend many, many hours working hard to earn money that they will need. Unfortunately, many people put so much time and effort into their work that they quite often forget about the important things in life, spending quality time with their family and friends. Today’s story gives us a good reminder for all of us…time is precious. Don’t neglect the time that you should spend with your loved ones.

A man came home from work late again, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year old son waiting for him at the door. “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”

“Yeah, sure, what is it?” replied the man.

“Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?”

“That’s none of your business. What makes you ask such a thing?” the man said angrily.

“I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?” pleaded the little boy.

“If you must know, I make $20.00 an hour.”

“Oh,” the little boy replied, head bowed.

Looking up, he said, “Daddy, may I borrow $10.00 please?”

The father was furious. “If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is just so you can borrow some to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you’re being so selfish. I work long, hard hours every day and don’t have time for such childish games.”

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door. The man sat down and started to get even madder about the little boy’s questioning. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money. After an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think he may have been a little hard on his son. Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $10.00 and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door.

“Are you asleep son?” he asked.

“No daddy, I’m awake,” replied the boy.

“I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier,” said the man.

“It’s been a long day and I took my aggravation out on you. Here’s that $10.00 you asked for.”
The little boy sat straight up, beaming. “Oh, thank you daddy” he yelled.
Then, reaching under his pillow, he pulled out some more crumpled up bills. The man, seeing that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, then looked up at the man. “Why did you want more money if you already had some? ” the father grumbled.

“Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do,” the little boy replied.

“Daddy, I have $20.00 now. Can I buy an hour of your time?”
————
Share $20.00 worth of time with someone you love…just a short reminder to all of us working so hard for our living. However, let us not let time slip through our fingers without having spent some quality time with those who really matter to us.
————

Value Your Time.

Value Your Family.

Value Your Friends.

The Golden Slippers

Hilary McHone
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There are times in each of our lives when we need a reminder of the importance of having a spirit of giving and generosity towards others. Thus, is the case for the following story that I had posted on an old blog page of mine. While the author of this story is unknown, it is a beautiful story that I am sure will touch your heart and hopefully, remind all of us of the wonderful essence of a caring heart. (warning: tissues may be needed 🙂
It was only four days before Christmas. The spirit of the season hadn’t yet caught up with me, even though cars packed the parking lot of our local discount store. Inside the store, it was worse. Shopping carts and last-minute shoppers jammed the aisles. Why did I come today? I wondered. My feet ached almost as much as my head. My list contained names of several people who claimed they wanted nothing, but I knew their feelings would be hurt if I didn’t buy them anything. Buying for someone who had everything and deploring the high cost of items, I considered gift-buying anything but fun.

Hurriedly, I filled my shopping cart with last minute items and proceeded to the long checkout lines. I picked the shortest but it looked as if it would mean at least a 20 minute wait. In front of me were two small children — a boy of about 5 and a younger girl. The boy wore a ragged coat. Enormously large, tattered tennis shoes jutted far out in front of his much too short jeans. He clutched several crumpled dollar bills in his grimy hands. The girl’s clothing resembled her brother’s. Her head was a matted mass of curly hair. Reminders of an evening meal showed on her small face. She carried a beautiful pair of shiny, gold house slippers.

As the Christmas music sounded in the store’s stereo system, the girl hummed along, off-key but happily. When we finally approached the checkout register, the girl carefully placed the shoes on the counter. She treated them as though they were a treasure.

The clerk rang up the bill. “That will be $6.09,” she said.
The boy laid his crumpled dollars on top of the stand while he searched his pockets. He finally came up with $3.12. “I guess we will have to put them back, ” he bravely said. “We will come back some other time, maybe tomorrow.”

With that statement, a soft sob broke from the little girl. “But Jesus would have loved these shoes, “she cried.

“Well, we’ll go home and work some more. Don’t cry. We’ll come back,” he said.

Quickly I handed $3.00 to the cashier. These children had waited in line for a long time. And, after all, it was Christmas. Suddenly a pair of arms came around me and a small voice said, “Thank you, lady.”

“What did you mean when you said Jesus would like the shoes?” I asked.

The boy answered, “Our mommy is sick and going to heaven. Daddy said she might go before Christmas to be with Jesus.”
The girl spoke, “My Sunday school teacher said the streets in heaven are shiny gold, just like these shoes. Won’t mommy be beautiful walking on those streets to match these shoes?”

My eyes flooded as I looked into her tear streaked face. “Yes,” I answered, “I am sure she will.”

Silently I thanked God for using these children to remind me of the true spirit of giving.

Chuckles for Christmas

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The Holiday Season can be a time of great stress and make people anxious as they rush around stores, malls, etc., to find gifts and presents for the family, friends, and loved ones. Whether it be preparing dinners, snacks or great feasts, getting ready for the relatives, the list goes on and on.  After a while, it can simply become overwhelming.

Well, today, I have good news for you! I collected a few quips about the Holiday Season that, I hope, will bring a smile to your face, gladness in your heart, and a giggle or two, to help brighten your day.

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“Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.” – Victor Borge

 

“For Christmas this year, try giving less. Start with less attitude. There’s more than enough of that in the world as it is – and people will usually just give it back anyway!” – Anne Bristow

 

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph.” – Shirley Temple

 

“The one thing women don’t want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband.” – Joan Rivers

 

“Christmas, here again. Let us raise a loving cup; Peace on earth, goodwill to men, and make them do the washing up.” – Wendy Cope

 

“It’s all fun and games until Santa checks the Naughty List”. – Anon

 

“Christmas: the only time of year that you can sit in front of a dead tree eating candy from socks”. – Anonymous

 

“Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.” – Unknown

 

“Three phrases that sum up Christmas are: Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, and Batteries not Included.” – Unknown

“The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men”. – Jay leno

 

“I set a personal record on Christmas. I got my shopping done three weeks ahead of time. I had all the presents back at my apartment, I was halfway through wrapping them, and I realized, ‘I used the wrong wrapping paper.’ The paper I used said, ‘Happy Birthday.’ I didn’t want to waste it, so I just wrote ‘Jesus’ on it.” – Demetri Martin

 

“People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.” – Unknown

 

“Christmas is a magical time of year… I just watched all my money magically disappear.” – Unknown

 

“Even before Christmas has said Hello, it’s saying ‘Buy Buy’.” – Robert Paul

 

“Anyone who believes that men are the equal of women has never seen a man trying to wrap a Christmas present.” – Unknown

 

“You know you are getting old, when Santa starts looking younger”. – Bart Simpson

 

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly”. – Andy Rooney

 

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall”. – Larry Wilde

 

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. But if the white runs out I’ll drink the red”.  – Unknown

 

“Three Wise WOMEN would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, bought practical gifts, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and there would be peace on earth”!

– Anonymous

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“At Christmas, all roads lead home”. – Marjorie Holmes

Wonderful Traditions of New Year’s in America

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The annual celebration of New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite times of the year. It is during this time that we reminisce about the past year and, at the same time, look ahead, plan, and make resolutions for the future. Millions and millions of people around the world take part in the festivities and revelry as they welcome in the New Year.

As with many of the holidays that we have throughout the year, I always find it very interesting and enjoyable to find some history and fun facts about each day. This holiday is no different. So, I decided to share some interesting facts with you about the celebration of New Year and some other intriguing things…so…here we go.

Interesting Things That Are Dropped New Year’s Eve

Most people from around the world, know that every year, New York City welcomes in the New Year in Times Square, by dropping a big “ball” which gradually descends from the top of a pole to the bottom, where it rests while all kinds of lights blink and shine as the new year begins. It all started in 1907 after there was a fireworks ban. In 1907, the iron and wood ball weighed 700-pounds and was covered with 25-watt bulbs made of iron. Today, it weighs 11,875 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is adorned with 2,668 Waterford crystals. Meanwhile, close to a million people in the square, dance, party, hug and kiss, and have a good time at this joyous moment. Around the world, approximately 1 billion people watch world-wide festivities from their televisions or computers.

But are there other things that are dropped in celebration of New Year’s instead of a giant ball? You bet there is!!! Here are some remarkable objects that are “dropped.” So, without further ado, here are some things from around the United States that I think you will find entertaining.

In Brookville, Florida, a giant tangerine was dropped 40 feet in 2009.

In Traverse, Michigan, a cherry is dropped.

In Flagstaff, Arizona, a pine cone is dropped from a hotel.

In Prescott, Arizona, a boot is dropped

In South Lake, California, a gondola is lowered.

In Temecula, California, a bunch of grapes is dropped.

In Niagara Falls, Ontario, a 10 foot guitar is dropped from a specially designed 120-foot scaffold at the Hard Rock Café.

In Easton, Maryland, a red crab is dropped.

In Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a 100-pound stick of bologna is dropped.

In Easton, Pennsylvania, and giant M&M is dropped

In St. George’s, Bermuda, a paper-Mache Bermuda onion covered with Christmas lights is dropped.

In Black Creek, North Carolina, a large red heart drop is lowered.

In Eastover, North Carolina, a three-foot-tall, thirty-pound flea is dropped.

In Elmore, Ohio, a sausage is dropped.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, a flying pig is “flown”, not dropped, demonstrating to everyone that there is at least one occasion “when pigs fly.”

In Red Lion, Pennsylvania. A wooden cigar held by a lion is raised.

In Panama City, Florida, an 800-pound beach ball is lowered from a tower 12 stories high.

In Praire du Chien, Wisconsin, A carp (real but dead) caught by a local fisherman and weighing between 25-30 pounds is lowered.

In Vincennes, Indiana, a giant 18-foot, 500-pound steel, and foam watermelon is raised 100 feet during the final 60-second countdown to midnight.

…..and there are many, many others!!!

 

Several Amazing Facts About the New Year Celebration

The Babylonians celebrated New Years over 4,000 years ago.

The New Year’s song, “Auld Lang Syne,” means, “times gone by.”

If you want to have a happy new year, don’t eat lobster or chicken. Lobsters can move backward and chickens can scratch in reverse, so it is thought these foods could bring a reversal of fortune.

The Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. Apples and honey are usually eaten to celebrate.

In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day to bring good luck all year long.

In some countries, the use of fireworks are used for more than just celebrations…they are also believed to scare off evil spirits and bring good luck

44% of American adults plan to kiss someone at midnight.

61% of people say a prayer.

Over 1 million people line the 40 miles of shoreline of the city of Sydney, Australia.

In Japan, at the stroke of midnight, Buddhist monks strike the gongs 108 times in an effort to drive out the 108 human weaknesses.

New Year’s Day is the oldest celebrated holiday.

Many people in America, eat Black Eyed Peas, cabbage, and ham on New Year’s Day for good luck.

In South America & Spain.
A person will take 12 red grapes and 12 green grapes and at midnight, they eat their first 12 red grapes, thinking about each month that passed this year, and all the things that they are grateful for that happened this year. Then they eat the 12 green grapes, thanking in advance for each new month’s blessings that will come the next year. (I know, it’s a lot of grapes to eat, so most people only do 12 grapes, and I guess they combine the gratitude for the months past and the months to come) I remember Pink or red underwear was usually for Christmas and yellow undergarments for good luck in the New Year.
No matter what tradition, this is a wonderful opportunity to reflect with gratitude for the experiences and lessons we receive this year, and to pan on the areas we want to improve or change as we have an exciting fresh chapter in our lives to start anew. (Contributed by Amira of Body and Soul Nourishment Blog).

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Well, I hope that you enjoyed these tidbits and facts. I would like to personally wish each and every one of you the healthiest and happiest New Year!!

And here’s to many, many more! J

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Sources:

Ducksters.com

Ibtimes.com

Qualitylogoproducts.com

CNN.com

History.com

Worldwide Traditions of Christmas

brown and red pinecone christmas decoration
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We as Americans know the customs of Christmas here in the United States…but have you ever wondered what some of the traditions of Christmas are like in other parts of the world? Well, sit back and discover some short, interesting facts, how other people from around the globe celebrate Christmas. 

Belgian

The children there believe it is kindly Saint Nicholas who brings them their presents. They also believe he rides a horse so they leave him hay and carrots and water for the horse just outside the house on December 6.

Canada/U.S.

Christmas trees are decorated and stockings are hung on the fireplace for Santa Claus to fill with gifts. Cards and gifts are exchanged with friends and relatives. Children put on pageants and go caroling.

China

The Christians in China light their homes with beautiful paper lanterns. Santa is called Dun Che Lao Ren. The children hang stockings just as we do.

Czechs

They serve a very large and delicious dinner with many courses. Courses are like a appetizer, followed by soup, then a salad, then maybe the first meat dishes, and so on till the dessert is served. They serve this meal on Christmas Eve and it does not matter how big the family is, there is always a place set at the table that is set for the Christ Child.

Denmark

Santa is known as Julemanden and he arrives in a sleigh pulled by reindeer with a sack full of gifts. Danish children know the elves as Juul Nisse, and believe that they live in the attics of their homes. Instead of cookies and glasses of milk, they leave rice pudding and saucers of milk out for them.

England

From England we have acquired several customs. The first is the use of Christmas trees. This was made popular during the rein of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Prince Albert came from the country of Germany and missed his native practice of bringing in trees to place on the tables in the house, therefore one Christmas the royal couple brought a tree inside the Palace and decorated it with apples and other pretty items.

The second custom is what is known as Boxing Day. It is celebrated the first weekday after Christmas. What this means is that small wrapped boxes with food and sweets, or small gifts, or coins are given to anyone who comes calling that day.

Santa is known as Father Christmas, wearing long red robes and had sprigs of holly in his hair. Instead of mailing out their christmas list, children throw it into the fireplace and Father Christmas reads the smoke. England is also where the tradition of hanging stockings by the chimney began, due to the fact that Father Christmas once accidentally dropped some gold coins on his way down the chimney which got caught in a drying stocking. Another interesting thing is that instead of opening up their gifts as soon as they wake up, English children wait until the afternoon.

France

Santa is known as Pere Noel. He is accompanied by Pre Fouettard who keep track of who has been good or bad for Pere Noel. In some parts of France, Pere Noel brings small gifts in the beginning of December (Dec 6) and comes back to deliver more on Christmas. In France the children get to open their gifts on Christmas, but the parents and other adults have to wait until New Years. In France the children place there shoes by the fire place in hopes that le Pere Noel/Father Christmas of le Petit Jesus/Little Jesus will place gifts for them. They also have dinner at midnight on December 24 this is called Le Reveillon. They have a cake called La Buche de Noel that is served after the dinner.

Tiny clay figures are used in the Christmas Crèches, Mangers. These figures are most unique as they are dressed in what is popular in provincial clothing that year. The figures are Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the Wise Men, the Shepherds, and Angels.

Italy

It Italy, the main exchange of gift doesn’t occur until January 6th, the day traditionally believed that the Wise Men reached the baby Jesus. Italy has La Befana who brings gifts to for the good and punishment for the bad. She is the same character as Russia’s Babouschka who refused to give the Wise Men food and shelter. The nativity scene may have first been set up by Saint Francis of Assisi. This first one was set up in a cave outside of a village and the villagers were so impressed by the display that now many of the communities compete for the best nativity.

India

Houses are decorated with strings of mango leaves. Lights are place on the window sills and walls and a star is hung outside. A sweet holiday treat is made called thali and it is brought to neighbors and friends.

Japan

The Japanese decorate their stores and homes with greens. The only part of Christmas that they celebrate is the giving of gifts. HOTEIOSHA the priest is like our Santa Claus, and he brings the children their presents.

Mexico

Mexico calls Christmas Navidad. They celebrate Christmas for nine days with Las Pasdas. It is a time where people dress as Mary and Joseph, traveling from house to house asking if Mary may stay the night. They are told the is full. After which the door opens back up and all are invited in for a party with food, songs, and for the children a Pinata. The Pinata is made of paper mache and filled with all kinds of goodies. The object is to break it open with your eyes blindfolded. After which the children all dive for all the goodies they can pick up. On the ninth night they are told yes there is room for Mary in the stable and all come in for food and after all go to Church to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child.

The Netherlands

Santa is known as Sinterklaas, and he came to Sweden originally by boat, setting out on December 6th from Spain. He makes his gift deliveries by horseback. The children leave their shoes out, filled with hay and sugar for Sinterklaas’ horse. In the morning they find their shoes filled with candy and nuts. When Sinterklaas appears to the children, he takes the form of their father or a favorite male relative.

North Pole

Santa and his helpers are getting ready to deliver gifts to the children of the world.

Poland

From Christmas to New Years the streets are lined with lovely stalls called, JOSELKI, each one is carefully painted with scenes from the Christmas story. The booths are elaborately decorated in tinsel and lighted candles.

Spain

The children of Spain leave their shoes on the windowsills filled with straw, carrots, and barley for the horses of the Wise Men, who they believe reenact their journey to Bethlehem every year. One of the wise men is called Balthazar, who leaves the children gifts. They call Christmas Eve Nochebuena, and families gather together to rejoice and share a meal around the Nativity scene.

Russia

Russia has someone named Babouschka, who would bring gifts for the children. The tradition says that she failed to give food and shelter to the three wise men and so she now searches the countryside searching for the baby Jesus, visiting all children giving gifts as she goes. Santa was known as Saint Nicholas but today is called Grandfather Frost, wearing a blue outfit instead of red.

The Russians use to celebrate Christmas with great joy and happiness before the Revaluation of 1917. They used to stroll up and down the streets with stars on the end of sticks that they called Stars of Bethlehem. The people went to church services and shared a special meal at home. After the Revaluation the Soviet Government banned Christmas. What the Russians do today is celebrate New Years Day with a special tree decorated like we do ours for Christmas and they have a New Years Day Children’s party. The children join hands and sing songs as they walk around the tree. They wait for DYET MOROZ Grandfather Frost, and his helper SYYEGORACHKA The Snow Maiden to bring them their gifts.

Switzerland

Santa Claus is called CHRISTKIND, the Christ Child coming to bring gifts to the children dressed in all white with a golden crown, He is helped by Saint Nicholas.

Uruguay and Argentina (Added From Blogger Amira)

In Uruguay and Argentina, children wait for January 6 to receive the big gifts that are brought by the 3 wise Magi : Balthazar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India. Children leave their shoes outside and a bucket of water and hay for the camels. One of the 3 Magi usually leaves a handwritten personalized letter sealed with red wax, telling the children about how they behaved during the year. On Christmas Eve a dinner is shared with family and friends, and smaller gifts are left under the tree by Papa Noel. Usually a Nativity set is also placed near the Christmas tree, and the baby Jesus is added to the Nativity set on Christmas day.Special sweets are made for Christmas like “turron” ( a nougat confection, typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts, and usually shaped into either a rectangular tablet or a round cake), and “Pan Dulce” or “Sweet bread” which is made with nuts and dry fruits.
Some people go to the midnight mass. There are fireworks at midnight on Christmas Eve as well as in New Year’s eve. Feliz Navidad & Merry Christmas to all! Amira

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What is your favorite Christmas or Holiday tradition? Do you know of a tradition from another country that wasn’t mentioned? Please share your thoughts with us if you would like!

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Have an AWESOME Christmas and Holiday Season!

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Source: portharbor.com

Lessons From A Christmas Tree

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Christmas and Holiday season is a beautiful time of the year. There are millions of lights, decorations, and celebrations taking place all around the world. It is truly a season in which )on the most part) people focus their time and energies trying to give and help others. It is a time of hope, happiness, and a time of reflection.

Thus, the reason for this short blog.

We all can learn a lot during this time of celebration and mirth. A few days ago, I came across the following little “Lesson List”, that I thought would be a cute reminder of some things that we could learn…from a Christmas Tree!

“Lessons from A Christmas Tree” ~ Jane Lee Logan

  1. Be a light in the darkness.
  2. We all fall over sometimes.
  3. You can never wear too much glitter.
  4. Bring joy to others.
  5. Sparkle and twinkle as much as possible.
  6. It is okay to be a little tilted.

A Story of Christmas Magic

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Photo Credit: Dragon Lady via Flickr

One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season, is finding interesting and heartwarming stories that touch your soul and put a smile on your face. Well. today, I was reading some stories on the web page “The Gathering Place” and came across this story. Even though the author is unknown, I felt that it was a sweet little tale to share with you! Please be prepared…a box if tissues may be required.

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Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl.

“Who is this?” asked Santa, smiling. “Your friend? Your sister?”

“Yes, Santa,” he replied. “My sister, Sarah, who is very sick,” he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

“She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!” the child exclaimed. “She misses you,” he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy’s face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas.

When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

“What is it?” Santa asked warmly.

“Well, I know it’s really too much to ask you, Santa, but ….” the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa’s elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors.

“…The girl in the photograph … my granddaughter . well, you see … she has leukemia and isn’t expected to make it even through the holidays,” she said through tear-filled eyes. “Is there any way, Santa . any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That’s all she’s asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa.”

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do.

Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do.

“What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying,” he thought with a sinking heart, “this is the least I can do.”

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children’s Hospital.

“Why?” Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah’s grandmother earlier that day.

“C’mon …. I’ll take you there,” Rick said softly.

Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall.

Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl’s brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah’s mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah’s thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah’s aunt, sat in a Chair near the bed ! with weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, “Ho, ho, ho!”

“Santa!” shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes intact.

Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son — 9 years old — gazed up at him with wonder and excitement.

Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he ad to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah’s face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room.

As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa’s shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering “thank you” as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes.

Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she’d been a very good girl that year.

As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl’s mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah’s bed, holding hands.

Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.

“Oh, yes, Santa … I do!” she exclaimed.

“Well, I’m going to ask that angels watch over you,” he said.

Laying one hand on the child’s head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still
with eyes closed, he started singing softly,

“Silent Night, Holy Night …. all is calm, all is bright.”

The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah’s frail, small hands in his own.

“Now, Sarah,” he said authoritatively, “you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!”

He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he “had” to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could — not dolls or games or toys — but the gift of HOPE.

“Yes, Santa!” Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room.

Out in the hall, the minute Santa’s eyes met Rick’s, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed.

Sarah’s mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa’s side to thank him.

“My only child is the same age as Sarah,” he explained quietly. “This is the least I could do.”

They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap.

“Hi, Santa! Remember me?!”

“Of course, I do,” Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her. After all, the secret to being a “good” Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the “only” child in the world at that moment.

“You came to see me in the hospital last year!”

Santa’s jaw dropped. Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest.
“Sarah!” he exclaimed.

He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy — much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before.

He looked over and saw Sarah’s mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed — and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about — this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well. He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, “Thank you, Father. ‘Tis a very, Merry Christmas!”