Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas to all

We woke this morning to a young 4 year old shouting at the top of her lungs, "It's Christmas, wake up, it's Christmas."

For the past month we talked to our daughter about the value of Christmas and it's true meaning. We did go present hunting and thought about what we could give to each important person in our lives. My daughter very much longed for a My Little Pony horse. She repeatedly mentioned it to her grandparents. Yet whenever she thought of Christmas, she would be so very happy to get to celebrate Jesus' birthday with our family.

We opened some of our gifts early because we were travelling to Arizona to visit family. She very excitedly opened gifts and helped everyone else open gifts including her baby sister. But she knew it was not yet Christmas.

Last night, we opened a few more gifts with my Mom, aka Grandma Shari. We attended a Christmas Eve service at my mom's church. But she knew it was not yet Christmas.

Some children happily imagine the presents being delivered by the red-robed jolly elf, Santa Claus. But not my daughter. She knows that Santa is not a person who is around today. She thinks of him as a nicely dressed, kind man who loved Jesus so much that he wanted to give to others as we should also. When asked what Christmas is, Rachel happily responds, "It's Jesus' birthday!" This is a good enough reason to be happy.

So why is she jumping for joy at the realization Christmas has arrived? We gathered family together, with a breakfast cake already. We placed the one candle in the middle to represent our one and only Lord and King. We light it. Her bright face explodes with sound as she loudly sings "Happy Birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Jesus, Happy birthday to you, and many more." We all blow the candle out and thank our Lord for the best gift ever given. Dad reads the story of Jesus original birthday. Our reason for excitement is here. What a great day!

By the way, did I mention, on the couch a few feet away were full stockings with more presents yet to come. But our daughter did not venture to open them until Jesus was first acknowledged. The excitement is present, it is full, it is joyful and it is NOT about Santa.
Thank you LORD GOD ALMIGHTY for Your incredible gift!

(by the way, I came across this info on the 12 days of Christmas. Not sure if it is solidly true, but it's interesting to think about.)

"The 12 Days of Christmas"
~ Origins and Religious Meaning ~
Caveat: I've discovered that there is a controversy disputing the authenticityof this interpretation, just to inform you.
Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829.
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith. In short, it was a coded-message, a memory aid. Since the song sounded like rhyming nonsense, young Catholics could sing the song without fear of imprisonment. The authorities would not know that it was a religious song.
"The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The better acquainted one is with the Bible, the more these interpretations have significance.
The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…"
The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, but it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.
1st Day:
The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them. The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.
2nd Day:
The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments.
3rd Day:
The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love—the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13).
4th Day:
The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
5th Day:
The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
6th Day:
The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation.
7th Day:
The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
8th Day:
The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.
9th Day:
The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
10th Day:
The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments
11th Day:
The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles.
12th Day:
The ‘twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.
So the next time you hear "the Twelve Days of Christmas" consider how this otherwise non-religious sounding song had its origins in keeping alive the teaching of the Catholic faith.
adapted from email messages,from "How To Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas,"by Hugh D. McKellar,U.S. Catholic, 12/1979,and from "‘12 Days of Christmas’ is no nonsense, but a serious riddle"by David CrowderEl Paso Times, 12/19/1993.Also, Origin of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"An Underground Catechismby Fr. Hal Stockert 12/17/95

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

My heart goes out to families.

Ok, so I couldn't just stop. I had to write this one. As I read on the DrudgeReport about the attack in Mosul my heart was just sad. I believe we are fighting this war for a good reason. I believe we should stay there. I believe we need to finish what we start and finish well. All that said, it does not negate the sadness I feel as I think about the families of these soldiers. People who, depending on where their family member is stationed, consider Iraq to be hell.

I am saddened by the knowledge that this Christmas will mark the beginning of years of memory as this time of year is associated with the death or dismemberment of someone they love. I am saddened by the knowledge that this will continue at least for a season. We are inextricably tied to the country of Iraq. To leave would be a sin against ourselves and the people who have come to depend on us to make change occure.

Please join with me in prayer for the families left behind and those who are still there. May God grant them wisdom and courage in the midst of stress and tragedy. May the see the goodness of God in that place.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Merry Christmas

This California blogger is going to take a short break from blogging for Christmas, I will be back writing on Wednesday, December 29th. Priorities are priorities and I will be spending time with my family.

Ideas for family time....
go look for beautiful Christmas lights dressed in P.J.'s with warm drinks and snacks in the car. You could even talk about Jesus, the light of the world.

Play a board game together which can involve as many members of your family as possible.

Sing Christmas carols, you could even use CD's as back up to your own beautiful voices.

Watch timeless classic Christmas tales on video together with popcorn for all.

Make sure to focus attention on the real reason this holiday exists...Jesus, the perfect present for all, anything less isn't really CHRIST- MAS.

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Arnie speaks up

On a recent trip to German our illustrious governor or perhaps I should say, "The Governator" announced that American Republicans should probably go more leftist if they want more votes. (USA Today)How interesting!
He knows, as does the rest of our country, that President Bush did not win by a slim margin. He was not just barely over the top, he was way over the top as American politics states it. In fact, while President Bush's campaign put barely any money into the state of California, he did quite well even here. Most of the so-called "blue" states were very narrow wins for John Kerry. It is predominately the large cities like Los Angeles, Detroit, and Philadelphia which voted against President Bush. So, instead of stating the obvious, that Republicans did a great job and if we want more votes we need to get our message into the cities, Arnie states, "I would like the Republican Party to cross this line, move a little further left and place more weight on the center."

Let's be real here. This is the same governor who called himself a fiscal conservative while encouraging an already close to bankrupt state to spend extraordinary amounts of money on research which has yet to prove itself after 20 years of active use. I am of course referring to the money's our state voted to give to embryonic stem cell research. This money adds to the California debt it doesn't take away. How on earth is that fiscally conservative? He is out for himself and whatever he can attain for him. He calls himself a Republican but everything he really stands for is all Democrat. Maybe he's deluded himself into believing his own retoric because he is in one of the most liberal families in the U.S. with Ted Kennedy as his uncle-in-law perhaps he truly does believe himself to be conservative. That, however, does not change the reality. He is simply a wolf in sheep's clothing. Just because he knows how to bahhhh doesn't mean he won't eat meat.

Republican who heed his advice are simply asking to be eaten by the wolves. Come on folks, we won. Why bite the hand that fed you the election?