ACCM 2015: The Meaning of Christmas

Today is the twenty-third day of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015!

The featured topic is – the Meaning of Christmas – and the focus is on . . .
If someone dropped out of the sky and was unfamiliar with the concept of Christmas, how would you explain it to them? Can you put the meaning of Christmas into words? What does Christmas represent to you and is it different than when you grew up or from the meaning it had for your ancestors? Tell us what Christmas means to you and your memories of Christmases past.

When I thought about this featured topic and the possibility of meeting someone who was unfamiliar with the concept of Christmas, Charlie Brown’s question – “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”- to his friend Linus in the movie, A Charlie Brown Christmas, immediately popped in my head! Why did I think of Charlie Brown, and this movie? Well, everything I learned about Christmas and the birth of Christ in my early childhood Sunday School classes were summed up nicely by Linus when he responded to Charlie Brown’s question with this speech from the movie below –

Linus Van Pelt: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.
[moves toward the center of the stage]
Linus Van Pelt: Lights, please.
[a spotlight shines on Linus]
Linus Van Pelt: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not:”
[Linus drops his security blanket on purpose]
Linus Van Pelt: “for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'”[Luke 2:8-14 KJV]
Linus Van Pelt: [Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown]
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. [1]

Yes, Linus’ speech above is an excellent start, but the meaning of Christmas I believe is so much more than this. While surfing the Internet lately I came upon Pastor John MacArthur’s ‘Grace to You‘ website where he sums up the meaning of Christmas beautifully below –

For many, Christmas is the time to think of Jesus Christ as a baby in a manger. While the birth of Christ is a special and miraculous event, it isn’t the primary focus. The central truth of the Christmas story is this: the Child of Christmas is God . . . The humble birth of Jesus Christ was never intended to conceal the reality that God was being born into the world.” [2]

The deity of God is clear in n John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  Then verse 14 of that same chapter of John continues , “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Source Citation –

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas Quotes. (1990, October 17). Retrieved December 25, 2015, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059026/quotes

2. MacArthur, J. (2006, October 23). What is the real meaning of Christmas? Retrieved December 25, 2015, from http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA70/what-is-the-real-meaning-of-christmas

ACCM 2015: Santa Claus

Today is the sixth day of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015!

The featured topic is – Santa Claus – and the focus is on . . .
Today is the Feast of Saint Nicholas and the origin of Santa Claus. What are your memories of Santa Claus and waiting for him to come at Christmas? What does Santa mean to you today and how do you pass along that meaning to family and to others? Post your best Santa story and your memories of Christmases past.

Santa Claus addresses parade goers atop a Foley’s canopy after the 1960 Foley’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Chuck Farmer, Houston Post

My earliest memories of ‘Santa Claus’ began Thanksgiving Day 1961. Dad took me and my brothers downtown and found a great place for us to watch Houston’s annual Foley’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Either on top of dad’s shoulders or sitting on the curb at his feet, I saw for the very first time — giant caricature balloons, decorative floats, motorcades of all sizes, clowns, marching bands, singers, and much more. At the end of the parade Santa Claus appeared and announced to everyone he was coming soon!

After the parade, I would hear the song, SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN everywhere.The idea that he kept a list and checked it twice to find out if I’ve been naughty (I was a little mischief-maker at times) or nice — was something I worried about all the time. Even though I saw everyone’s excitement about him coming to town after the parade, the concept of Santa for me at this young age was suspect — if you know what I mean!

Liv with Santa, 1961

I wasn’t comfortable telling him what I wanted for Christmas the first time we met.The look on my face in my 1961 keepsake photo tells it all! But with each passing year, I found sitting on his knee telling him what I wanted for Christmas got easier. I believed in the magic of Santa Claus until I was 10 years old and was a little disappointed when I learned he wasn’t real. Thankfully, my disappointment didn’t last very long because my parents did a great job making sure I grew up knowing “Santa Claus” wasn’t the real reason for the Advent Season!

Taylor Siblings and Santa, 1957-1963

Click to Enlarge Photo!

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more athttp://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

ACCM 2015: Christmas Recipes

Today is the fifth day of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015!

The featured topic is – Christmas Recipes – and the focus is on . . .
The smell of cookies baking in the oven or perhaps mulled wine on the stove top. What are your favorite recipes during Christmastime? Are they different than the Christmas foods your mother made? What about your ancestors – what were their favorite recipes and Christmas foods? Share your favorite recipe and the story behind it. Post your favorite Christmas recipe and your memories of Christmases past.

Mom’s 1950’s Mirro Cooky Press

Baking cookies was an expected tradition in my home for the holidays! So when we saw mom pull out her 1950’s Mirro cookie press and cookbook (remember this cooking gadget from back in the day?), it wouldn’t be long before the smell of baked sugar, caramel, and peanut butter cookies would fill the air and have us all heading for the kitchen to sample them!

There were 12 different cookie design disks that came with this cooky press. When I asked my brother, Elgin, which cookie design was his favorite, he said he didn’t have one. He didn’t care what the cookies looked like as long as he could eat them fresh and hot from the oven!

Eating freshly baked cookies was a must for my brother Jon, but what those cookies looked like was very important to him too! According to mom, he wanted all of our Christmas cookies to look like dogs. Dogs?! Yep, that certainly sounds like something my brother Jon would want – LOL! But, trust and believe, mom wasn’t having none of that! So as well as a dozen dog shaped cookies, there were Christmas trees, stars, and other festive shapes associated with the holidays baked too!

Mirro Cooky Cookbook, 1950

I don’t remember having a favorite cookie design growing up. What I do remember was hanging around the kitchen to eat any, and all, cookie dough left in the bowl and on the spoon. Mom’s cookie dough (and cake dough too) was so-o-o-o good! When I asked her about sharing some of those great cookie Christmas recipes with me a few years ago, that is when she informed me that the cookies we loved so much came right from the Mirro cookbook that came packaged with the cookie press (which she still has today) all those years ago!

Looking for a simple, yet fun, Christmas recipe to make with the kids for the holiday? Then check out this cookie recipe from the 1950’s Mirro Cooky Cookbook below.  Enjoy!

Caramel Cookies

Time: 10 – 12 mins
Temp: 375 F

1 cup of shortening
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. of vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups of sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of soda

Directions:
Cream shortening; add sugar gradually and cream thoroughly

Add beaten eggs and vanilla extract

Sift flour, soda, and salt gradually, then add to creamed mixture

Fill your Mirro Cooky press and form fancy designs on an ungreased cookie sheet (if you don’t have a cookie press, spoon cookie mixture instead on the cookie sheet)

Bake until cookies are a light golden brown; yields 6 dozen

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

ACCM 2015: Christmas Lights

Today is the fourth day of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015!

The featured topic is – Christmas Lights – and the focus is on . . .
Some families string up a few lights each year while others go nuclear and are destined to force their neighbors into a brown out situation. Did your family put up lights and outdoor decorations around Christmas time? What about the neighbors? And was it a favorite family activity to drive around to look at Christmas lights? What about any local attractions such as parks, zoos and the like which put up displays of lights and outdoor decorations? Write about anything related to Christmas lights and your memories of Christmases past.

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] really had to give today’s feature topic a lot of thought because I can count on one hand (and still have 4 fingers left) the number of times my dad put up outdoor lights and decorations for Christmas! Then I thought, since I’m the baby of the family, maybe these outdoor decorations were done when I was too young to remember them. No, that wasn’t the reason at all. Both of my brothers recently confirmed that putting up outdoor lights and decorations wasn’t something dad liked, or even wanted to do. However, what he did like from time to time was taking the family to see beautifully decorated homes and neighborhoods for the holidays – which is probably why I enjoy Christmas Light tours today!

Click to View!

While living in San Gabriel, California in 1989, I had an opportunity to experience one of the best Christmas Light Tours that year — the spectacular Balian House in Altadena, California! This 1922 Mediterranean-style mansion at 1960 Mendocino Lane is the home of the ice-cream mogul, George Balian. During the tour, I learned the family has decorated this house and the 3.5 acres surrounding it for the holidays since 1955. They started with 10,000 colored lights and today, the 10,000 lights cover just the front walkway alone!

Click to View!

There were many holiday scenes to enjoy on the tour such as Santa with his elves and reindeer, and Charlie Brown with the Peanut Gang in tow. Most, if not all these scenes have movable parts that made it a fun experience for kids (and adults too). My favorite part of the tour was the Nativity scene with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus laying in a manger surrounded by angels, shepherds, Wise men and a whole host of others celebrating the birth of Christ!

Click to View!

Thousands of people visit this mansion every year and I can certainly believe that because there were a lot of people there that night! And once the strolling carolers began to sing, “Children laughing, people passing; meeting smile after smile. And on every street corner you’ll hear…” everyone who knew the song was singing right along with them!

Just when I thought this night couldn’t get any better, Santa Claus appeared on the sidewalk a few feet in front of us with a HUGE bag of toys for all the kids there that night. My son’s face lit up brightly when Santa handed him a gift from his bag. Marcus was so pleased with his gift, and Santa, that he gladly took a picture with him for me!

Click to View!

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more athttp://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”