Wishing you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas and a warm holiday season. As we take a break from the blogging world, know you are thought of with love and kindness and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being in my life.
The forth candle is being lit tonight in our Advent weekly celebration, and it is called the candle of Love. You can revisit all the other candles here. Tonight’s candle takes me on twists and turns as I walk down memory lane and life in general, pondering the meaning of love and how it has affected me.
Love is universal, a language we all speak. Love makes everything better and love conquers all. Love is the answer when we want to shout and love warms our hearts in ways nothing else can. Love has always been a big part of my life, not always present and often lacking in ways I needed it to be. In recent years a new way of love has come my way and I have tried to practice it ever since. What I am talking about is unconditional love and I came face to face with it in the most memorable experience. It’s a very personal story to me, and one of great pain. It’s about a daughter chasing a mothers love for all of her life. It’s a story of love present but expressed through material things. It’s a story of bitterness and regrets. A story of accusations and grudges. A story that has pushed me to the edge and inflicted a pain that manifested for decades. It’s a story of immense sadness, of lost time and moments I didn’t think I could bear. Through it all, not only forgiveness was born but also a love that had to dig deep and in the end become unconditional.
This kind of love is in my life with everything today, even for myself. It’s blame burns brighter than any candle or flame. It’s all in, all forgiving, all understanding, all accepting, all embracing. Even during times of great injustice and hurt inflicted by others. For me love is everything or nothing. Love and your time is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone. Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, or love without conditions. Wikipedia describes it to be associated with other terms such as true altruism or complete love. This type of love has no bounds and is unchanging. It will always have a special meaning to me and in the end I wouldn’t wish for a different teacher showing me the ways of unconditional love.
Today, this 3rd week of advent, we are yet to light and celebrate another candle. We started with the Prophet’s Candle of Hope, and moved to the Bethlehem Candle of Peace during our second Sunday. This week brings another essential needed amongst all humanity as we celebrate the Shepherd’s Candle of Joy. In Christianity this candle takes on a big meaning as the shepherd’s served witness to Jesus’ birth and emissaries of joy. Joy is something we can experience each and every day. Joy and it’s meaning varies from person to person, depending on what we perceive as joy.
The dictionary describes joy as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. A delight, jubilation, triumph, a rejoice. The Oxford English Dictionary claims to be better and defines joy as a vivid emotion of pleasure arising from a sense of well-being or satisfaction. It describes it as a feeling or state of being highly pleased or delighted. Joy is something we associate with spontaneous action. Joy can motivate us and help us aspire to great things. Is joy dependent on others and needs to be brought to us, or is it a state of mind, just as we can deliver joy to others. Perhaps the feeling of joy starts with us and it is something we can also gift to ourselves? My exploration of the Shepherd’s Candle takes me just a little deeper this evening as I contemplate the true meaning of joy. I am recalling ways it has impacted me and how I have used it to bring joy to the world and to others. Again, I ask myself to see what is, what is great, what can be changed and what needs adjusting. Today it is joy I am focused on as I sit by the fire remembering the last time I felt this vivid emotion of pleasure and satisfaction. It is joy and a spontaneous action that I want to pay forward to someone else this holiday season. Seeing their delighted faces will tell me all I need to know when the time comes. Maybe it is in the form of a present, a thoughtful notion, an act of kindness, a warm hug, a thought and wish of wellness sent across the miles. Maybe it’s in baked goods and a little extra cheer. Maybe it’s a matching pajama family party, or maybe I’ll sing Christmas Carols of the top of my lungs….mmmh…ok, I think I’m getting carried away from the Joy of life and Christmas, but you get the point. Have yourself a great 3rd Advent.
The advent season has started last night and I almost missed it. After a long holiday weekend I felt emotionally and mentally exhausted from my trip into town, providing care, errands and companionship to…let’s just say a friend. I will write more about it when the time is right and the words don’t come by so hard.
You can definitely feel that a new season has begun and Advent is a time to pause and cherish God’s most precious gifts to us. Coffee shops add special items such as peppermint mochas and pumpkin spiced latte’s to their menu, seasonal menu’s are found in restaurants, Christmas music is playing all around us in the shops we visit, we begin to make our wish list, we start to decorate our houses from the inside out and set up our Christmas tree, start buying gifts for family, friends and loved ones and might even find a random act of kindness throughout this pre Christmas time. This is a season for hope and kindness, to show just a little extra care and mindfulness. It’s a season for giving and sharing, especially with the less fortunate ones and those who have less. It’s a season and the anticipation of Christ’s second coming.
Yesterday was the 1st of Advent where we light the first candle. It is known as the Prophet’s candle and it stands for hope. We all have things we hope for. Maybe some of those things will hit your Christmas list and perhaps some of them will appear under your tree, while others are much harder to come by. This is when hope comes in and when we need to let go of stress, worry and even envy. Hope brings meaning and power to our thoughts while carrying us through without despair.
The Christmas/Advent season has always been my favorite holiday. For many years I was unable to enjoy it, working a hectic schedule in retail, ensuring everyone else’s season was perfect while being too exhausted at the end to enjoy my own. Also for many years I missed my home in Germany, being with family and loved ones, celebrating this special time with the same fond childhood memories. With another round of covid surging through Europe my heart feels especially heavy as Christmas markets are cancelled for the second year in a row and shutdowns threaten to be inevitable in the near future. Plus I need to go home and clear/sell a house. All thoughts that weigh heavily on me as I remember for myself to keep hope alive this season and always.
Last night I paused and ditched the plans and chores of what I was going to do. I remembered the 1st Advent and counted my blessings. It felt like a continuation from Thanksgiving but in a more intimate setting. I was alone, besides Cinnamon. I lit a candle, my Prophet’s candle and filled the air with an aromatherapy candle made from ginger, ginseng and honey to promote tranquility. It didn’t take long at all to fill the tiny abode with a fragrant aroma. It was simply wonderful and once again, I sat there in amazement, realizing that I haven’t taken care of myself nearly enough lately, realizing how busy I have been and that these moments of rest, of truly doing ME are so essential and needed. Not only for balance but also for my well being and sanity.
In addition, Christmas music was softly playing in the background while I was sipping hot tea, and soon I decided to make some farmhouse style beaded Christmas ornaments. Creating and crafting is always the ultimate relaxation for me and by the time I was finished, 5 ornaments with little bells were born. They now hang from a smooth branch I was picked up while hiking and it seems they now have found their perfect spot over a doorframe. I hung a banner in black and white houndstooth with deep red letters of “Merry & Bright” from the ceiling, along with a few wooden ornaments from the store. The solar Christmas lights are said to arrive this week and the small pine outside the living room will be decorated as well. Deers pass by my window frequently and I am already imagining a scene where I will see them softly walking through the snow while the lights are lit. Perhaps they will pass as reindeers, we shall see. 🙂
I hope everyone had a quiet and peaceful little Christmas and your hearts are full of warmth’s and joy. It’s been mostly quiet for us and to be honest Christmas came fast and went fast. I almost feel run over by it and the pre holiday spirit fell short due to recent events. How does one celebrate during those times of sadness? It’s difficult.
It was hard to focus on the magic of Christmas, but we did, and are continuing to incorporate a little Christmas spirit wherever we can. A few special people have reached out and sent us Christmas cards which we loved and we hope that ours found their way to those special destinations as well.
Special gifts found their way to us and left me emotional and overwhelmed by goodness. I know it’s because I’ve been around so many challenges lately and it’s crazy how your heart prepares itself for struggles in order to protect itself. You don’t even realize it, but it’s some sort of automatic defense mechanism. And then something sweet happens, a thoughtful gift, a kind word, a compliment, a card or email, and it takes you off guard because it’s not that you’ve forgotten how special it feels, but because there has been so little light and special moments like these in your life lately. Maybe you have exhausted your own reserves, giving too much and not receiving what you need. Maybe life has beaten you down, maybe people have treated you poorly, made you feel insignificant and ugly. It could be a lot of different things.
Here is a little picture of cuteness from Cinnamon’s first Christmas, while waiting for Santa. She heard that he was the guy to make it happen and that he could bring lots of treats and toys, and he did not disappoint. The end result was a belly full of special goodies and a dinner of kibbles mainly left untouched. Surprise there and who would eat bologna when there is filet mignon, although her dry food is no bologna to say the least and it’s expensive, nutritious and the best. There is always breakfast I suppose.
We made Glühwein for the first time ever, and it was really delicious. I drank a half cup and felt like I needed to lay down lol. Either it was really potent or I am getting more and more a lightweight, tipsy at the smell of alcohol. Where have my German roots vanished to? Today more pooch cookies are on the menu and we will spend some more time in the kitchen most likely lighting some candles and listening to Zucchero while filling the air with delightful smells. It snowed overnight and the sun is out right now. It looks peaceful and clean. We watched a holiday movie and may watch another with a quarter cup of Glühwein to be safe, and maybe we even manage a little creative time and some crafts later. Probably should do that before the Glühwein.
Further we watched an online Christmas sermon from my church in Germany. It was held from the apprentice lady who did Mom’s funeral in 2018. It her first and she did an amazing job. Of course this brought back more memories, but overall I was glad and needed to watch her Christmas message.
Last night I drew a Oracle card from a new animal spirit deck I got for Christmas and made my connection with the deck. I shuffled the cards, excited to see what message they had for me and what it was that I most needed to know right now. What came up was self care on various levels with the “Snake spirit – Time to heal.” Spot on I say.
It’s the most wonderful season of the year and Christmas Day has arrived. My wish for you is that a little magic and wonder has found it’s way to your heart in whatever shape and form.
If everything is going according to plan, I hope for a few video chats with my family in Germany during the holidays. The holidays are much different this year and the streets in Rothenburg Germany, (picture from last year) and it’s lavish Christmas village and markets, have turned into ghost towns. The streets are deserted and hauntingly empty is the word from my uncle’s side of the family. Something I don’t think anyone has experienced before since this town is usually bustling with tourism and travel from around the globe. Now, hardly a soul stirs and dares, with lockdowns in effect, and safety cautions at the highest priority. This is one time I can wholeheartedly say “hail to technology.” Plans are underway to have multiple households join in on the call. I hope all I have to do is merely accept the chat as I have never Skyped or FaceTimed with more than one person. I’m showing my age here and my fingers are crossed lol.
There is a 40% chance of a white Christmas this year. I know that I will miss family and loved ones and most likely the holiday blues will find me at some point. I am planning distraction and a little holiday spirit for myself as I reread the first paragraph of this post, holding the same wish for my heart as well.
Here is a list of holiday cheer for myself.
I will wear a festive, red and white candy cane striped wool hat, with a long tail and a green pompon at the end that has a little jingle
My hair will be soft and wavy
Red lips and a little glitter is a must on the holidays
I am looking to wear something red
I will make homemade pooch cookies for cinnamon
I will also attempt for the first time ever to make homemade Glühwein (a mulled wine from Germany)
Sipping on my hot mulled wine after taking my little girl (Cinnamon) out for a stroll, I think we’ll settle in with a Christmas movie
May your Christmas and holiday season be merry and bright. And may you be blessed beyond means and measure. Wishing you much health and joy, now and always.
It’s Christmas Eve and more than ever we need to believe in the magic of this season. This year it is a season that has been stripped of festivities and gatherings to spread warmth’s and joy. Where there are usually bustling Christmas markets, family gatherings and a time that is spent together, we are facing loneliness and isolation. More than ever we need to believe in the magic of life and the world itself, no matter how difficult it might get.
I remember back to a holiday when a neighbor gifted me a Christmas towel. It came attached with a poem called “The Christmas towel.” Something so simply, yet so profound and meaningful. In all honesty, I don’t think I ever truly captured it’s meaning and value until recently. All of a sudden it strikes a different chord and stirs something that sinks deeply within the heart to be cherished and held onto for all eternity.
Years later, I hope to pick a beautiful towel, perhaps the next time while shopping, wrap it up beautifully and write the poem on festive paper. Years later I feel the need to pay it forward to someone in the hopes of spreading a little Christmas spirit. Have you heard of the poem and this tradition before? If you have I’d love to hear your experiences with it, and if not…well I’d like to hear your thoughts anyways. Here is the poem.
The Christmas towel
At first glance, it is easy to look at a towel as a most ordinary object. Have you ever stopped to think that for thousands of years, the towel has been used for many wonderful purposes? For example, the mother who wipes the tears of a child, the physician who binds the wounds of a patient, or the woman in her home wiping her hands as she moves from task to task.
Perhaps the most significant use of the towel happened nearly two thousand years ago when our Savior, only hours before He hung on the cross, took an ordinary towel in His loving hands and dried the feet of His disciples. This simple, loving act personifies the selflessness and loving service we seek to give during our lives. It illustrates that an ordinary thing like a towel, in the right hands, and with a giving heart, can lighten another’s load. As with every action performed by the Savior on this earth, His act of service reminds us that simple day to day kindnesses are the Savior’s way to bless and comfort.
This towel is given with love and with the hope you will do works of goodness with it as the Savior did so many years ago. May the absorbing spirit of the season blot out our problems, soak up our sorrows, wipe away difficulties, and may your Christmas be shining and bright!
It’s the 4th Advent today, the last Sunday before Christmas is here. Four weeks leading up to Christmas, we celebrate the 1st, the 2nd, the 3rd and finally the 4th of advent. On this last Sunday, four candles are lit on a decorative wreath, signifying that Christmas is here. Family gathers over cookies, hot cocoa, Christmas Carole’s, mulled red wine, while visiting Christmas markets, filled with booths of handmade treasure and other magical things.
The wait is over, especially for children who anticipate for the “Christkind” to bring many presents and goods. I was lucky to see the Nürnberger Christkind while I was in Germany. Dressed in gold with her curly hair and magical crown, she represents the spirit of Christmas in the most angelic way. You can’t help being drawn in to her soft voice delivering her Christmas message to children and adults alike.
It’s the magical time of the years, a time filled with spirit, believe and hope. A time that is hard for some of us who have lost someone special and who adjust to this magical time without. May you always remember the magic of this season and know that you are not alone.
It’s been ages since I spent Christmas in Germany, and I have always dreamed of being here for the holidays. Although my favorite time of year, it was a time that made me homesick and sad while in the states. And now that I’m here things once again have turned out a lot different as imagined. We change and so do our life’s. We don’t stay the same, our experiences change, although our memories from times past may always stay the same. This Christmas is different as the ones I remember from my childhood. Mom is at a nursing home and we haven’t baked any cookies together. We haven’t gone sledding down the hill with our dog chasing after us. There haven’t been any cozy evenings of crafting straw stars and ornaments, while drinking spiced cider and Glühwein. Times have changed and what I held onto all these years were the memories of the past. We all have them, and not all are bad, some actually warm our hearts.
Life always has a few curveballs in store for us and things seldom go smooth. Perhaps sometimes it’s best not to imagine or expect anything at all. It might sound negative, but by nature I am an optimist, and still can’t help but wonder if the perfect scenarios even exist. Would we learn something if they did? More times then none we have to roll with the punches and our successes and challenges lie in learning to do it well. And to learn not to resist, I think is an additional asset that will assure success.
I am here for Christmas this year, and despite the pros and cons, it is nice to re-emerge into some of our German cultures. I am exited to visit the Christmas markets and catch the spirit admiring the lit up booths, lining up the old inner cities. Many handmade items will be on display and I’m sure that I won’t be able to resist a little souvenir. I am looking forward to taking some picture and watch people mingle.
The picture above showcases the lit up Christmas tree in my village and a little red ginger that has taken refuge under the tree.