Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Cheer Day 22 - Breath of Heaven

And for me... this is Christmas. 
Photo: The Nativity Story

One of the most beautiful Christmas songs out there, sung by one of my favorite musical artists, Amy Grant. 


Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) Amy Grant

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Cheer Day 21 - Peace Train (or Tricycle)

It was December 1960. I was barely two years old. I didn't know a lot... but according to my mother, I knew that Christmas was a'comin' and... 

I. Was. Ready.

Santa came to my Mama Hodie's house that year (my mom's mom.) I only have flashes of memory, and frankly wonder if those flashes are more the result of the very few, well-worn photographs instead of my actual cognizance of that Christmas morning in the piney woods of southeast Texas.

Regardless... it looks like I had every 2 year old's 1960 Christmas-dream-come-true under the tree... a tricycle and a jack-in-the-box! What more could you want? Well, there's the tea-party table and chairs that you do not see in the photograph, and the baby-doll to entertain at said tea-party...but that's beside the point.

As I perused old Christmas photos searching for inspiration for tonight's blog, I began to reflect on the simpler times of my life. It became clear that the happiest Christmases really were the ones where the focus was not on the getting, but more on the giving.. and the loving... and the laughing. 

So, what is at the top of my Christmas list this year? It's a short list. Just one item, really. But if delivered, it could lead to so many more gifts that last beyond the glitter and the gift-wrap.

This year I wish for peace. For you. For me. For our families. For our world. 

Wanna' get on my peace train? (Or tricycle?)  Decide to take  at least one step to make the peace... keep the peace.. share the peace. And in some cases.. you might have to just "hold your peace." And, that's okay, too.

Get a jump start by listening to Vince Gill on youtube. Just click here: Let There Be Peace on Earth - Vince Gill

Christmas is a-comin'.

I. Am. Ready. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Cheer Day 20 - Home Sweet Home

Day 20 - Christmas Cheer!

I've been decorating my own house for Christmas since I was 20 years old. (That was a couple of years ago....) But, there's just something about helping your dad and mom decorate their house that is especially sweet! Because, I don't care how old you are. Nothin' beats Bing Crosby's White Christmas on the CD player... wrappin' lights around the tree with your daddy... and sneaking Christmas cookies from your mama's kitchen counter.

We got a late start at my folks' house this year. My dad and I were wrapping lights around the tree this afternoon while Mom sat out the reindeer, and snowmen, and Santas, and Christmas bears and... well, you get the idea. I'll share the finished product.. mmmm, once it's finished!

For the first time in awhile, most of our rather large family will be together for the holidays this year... not on Christmas Day, but that's okay. Anytime we are all together.. it's Christmas...and a cause for celebration!

I would love to hear your stories of family togetherness at Christmas. What's your favorite family tradition or memory? You can comment on this blog, or email me.. or just think about it privately!  Cherish your family and others you love....during the holidays and always.

Merry, Merry... y'all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Cheer Day 19

Day 19 - Christmas Cheer

I am blessed to have a lot of creative friends, particularly at Christmas. I live vicariously through their mesh-masterpieces, wonderful wreaths and elegant embellishments.

My attempt at Christmas crafts ended many years ago when I had an unfortunate run-in with a hot glue gun, some rhinestones and snowflakes... and a freaked-out kitty who tore through my masterpiece on his way to the top of the Christmas tree. 


On the downside.. my crafty buddies make me feel very inadequate at times.On the upside, my creative friends provide me with many moments of visual joy!  And that brings me to the photo tonight that brought a smile to my face and Christmas cheer to my heart!

Photo: Leah Yarbrough Fuqua
Check out the grapevine snowman on my friend, Leah Yarbrough Fuqua's front door! I love the creativity, simplicity and ingenuity of this cheerful door decor!

I am just 6 days away from the final Christmas Cheer blog entry. So, tip your (Santa) hat in salute to those who make our holidays more fun with their sometimes traditional, sometimes off-beat, but, always fun decorations that help make our holidays complete.

Merry, Merry... Y'all! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Cheer Day 18- Wow! Did you HEAR THAT?

Day 18 - Christmas Cheer 

Photo Credit: Bill Starling Mobile Press-Register
Today's Christmas Cheer is beauty for the the eyes, the ears... and the spirit! Carol of the Bells was presented as part of the University of Mobile's 10 Annual Christmas Spectacular a way you may never have seen it before! 

Do yourself a favor. Click the youtube link below (it's safe and virus-free) and take a few minutes to watch and listen to this awesome piece of music, which is performed by incredibly talented singers, musicians and orchestra director Steve Dunn. Don't be lulled into familiarity by the traditional opening It's filled with surprises that just may take your breath away! 
Photo Credit: Dan Anderson

The first comes about 2:00 into the piece..
it's these guys... UM alumni- dueling guitarists! 

Photo Credit: Dan Anderson

The second at around 3:53. (Here's a clue.: Drum. Line.)

Here's the link.CLICK IT. And... enjoy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Cheer Day 17- Yummy!

Today's Christmas Cheer is served up in a mug! 

A steaming cup of Holiday Spice Tea seemed just the ticket to brighten the otherwise gray, rainy day we are having on the Florida/Alabama Gulf Coast.

No matter what the weather may be at your holiday homestead... you should try it! The recipe was passed along to me several years ago. I am passing it along to you as my gift to you today!

Merry, Merry... ya'll!

Holiday Spice Tea
2 cups Tang instant orange drink
1/2 C. instant tea (I used Community brand with lemon)
2 c. sugar
2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp ground cloves
Mix together and store in an airtight container. Use 2-3 heaping tsp to 6-8 oz hot water.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Cheer Days 16

Photo Courtesy: Robert Antoine
Today's Christmas Cheer comes to us courtesy of a new friend I met at the recent Christmas Craft Fair at St. Anne Catholic Church in Pensacola, FL.

I visited the sanctuary during one of my pre-fair visits. It is one of the prettiest churches I've ever been inside. The Christmas decorations only make it more so.

In light of the pain that our country has felt in the past few days, following the horror in Newtown, CT... I wanted to share this picture of peace... and to ask you to continue to pray. 

For peace.
For healing. 
For wisdom.

Friday, December 14, 2012

No Christmas Cheer- Day 14

Day 14 - No Christmas Cheer.

It was inappropriate today to write a blog entry on Christmas cheer. 

Credit: Douglas Healey/Getty Images
Truth be told, I am sure I join millions across the country... and around the globe.. as we react with stunned disbelief to the news that 20 elementary school children, and six adults, died in a horrific shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut school. 

The facts are still unfolding. Some of what we've been told will change, as the investigation moves forward. 

One fact remains. Lives were cut short today. 

20 little beds will be empty tonight. 6 adults will not be home with their families. And, the lives of their loved ones have been forever changed.

Christmas cheer? It's in short supply tonight.It will return, to a greater or lesser degree, as the days go by. But tonight, cheer is replaced by the grief and heartache we feel for people we do not even know.

Please pray for the family and friends of those who were murdered today.

And, if you haven't already done so, hug your children... no matter how young... or how old... they may be.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

From Christmas Cheer to Christmas Weird Day 13

Day 13- Christmas Cheer!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here you can have both! Actually, it's a picture.... and several thousand words!

The Christmas tree at the Pensacola State College library is made entirely of books! 

I've read that books are one of the most popular gift items for Christmas. That reminded me of this quote  by Charles "Tremendous" Jones

"You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books that you read."

Here's to meeting... and reading... and growing.

Merry, Merry... ya'll!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

From Christmas Cheer to Christmas Weird Day 11

Day 11- Christmas Cheer!

Where can you find the prettiest Christmas decorations? Well, it all depends...

New York City  has its Rockefeller Center Christmas tree complete with 30,000 lights.

Washington, D.C. has it's 40-something foot tall National Christmas Tree, and the 57-tree Pathway of Peace.

Walt Disney World has Cinderella's Castle all decked out in a breathtaking display of beautiful lights.

But, sometimes... sometimes.. the prettiest Christmas decorations are found in the small, quiet cities and towns of America.

Sometimes, they are found In communities where Christmas is more about giving than grabbing; more about family than fancy parties; more about the Presence, than about the presents.

So.... enjoy this view from the Riverwalk in Milton, Florida. A small town, with a big heart... and a  keen eye for decorating! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

From Christmas Cheer to Christmas Weird- Day 10

Day 10- Christmas Weird

This little piggy went to... the North Pole?

He's a cutie-pig for sure... but no doubt this little fella fits into the Christmas Weird category! Found him sandwiched between angels and snowmen in a Christmas display in Santa Rosa County, FL.

Perhaps the decorator is an Arkansas Razorback fan. "Sooooooooooo-ie, Santa!" Love it!

Merry, Merry... ya'll.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

From Christmas Cheer to Christmas Weird Day 9

Day 9- Christmas Cheer

If you think about it, Christmas really is about simplicity. On that night which changed the course of history, there was no fancy birthing suite; no skilled medical team in attendance; no expensive custom-designed cradle or  designer newborn outfit with an elaborate "J" monogrammed on the front. 


There was just a tiny baby, born in a tiny stable under the stars; born with stable animals in attendance; wrapped in 'swaddling clothes' and then placed in manger. 

All of these thoughts came to me this week, as I was keeping my eye out for Christmas decorations and displays to share with you. I happened to find myself in downtown Mobile one day, and I stopped in the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Because the historic church is so beautifully ornate, I expected the Christmas decorations inside to be the same. Instead, I found a simple display of poinsettias at the altar.

And, it kinda' took my breath away. 

Because without a potpourri of Christmas clutter to make me go, 'ooh' and 'ahh,' I found myself focusing on the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. 

He's right the top of the photograph... near the ceiling. 

Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas decorations. I love to look at them. I love to put them up. I even love packing them up every year, with the anticipation of getting them out again the next December! 

But, sometimes...

Sometimes, I like to focus on the simplicity of the season. Slow down. Reflect. Enjoy time rather than things. Spend time with family instead of at so many functions. Focus on the Presence rather than the presents. 

Think about it. For at least a couple of days this holiday season, just chill. Stop running around fretting that you won't have the perfect holiday if you don't have every trapping that we are programmed to believe is necessary for a wonderful Christmas celebration, Think stable-manger-stars. Think simplicity. 

NOW... having said all that, I am off to the Surfing Santa  Beach parade this afternoon. Something tells me I may have a few photographs to put into the "Christmas Weird" blog entries in the coming days. Merry, merry... ya'll.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

From Christmas Cheer to Christmas Weird Day 8

Day 8 - Definitely Christmas Cheer!

Have you ever thought about what it was really  like that night in Bethlehem? 

Nativity scenes try to capture the moment. But, the "Bethlehem Experience" takes things to the next level, as it gives you the opportunity to walk-through a re-creation of the Bethlehem marketplace and a live nativity on the night of Christ's birth. WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW!

The display caught the attention of Mobile, AL television station, WKRG. Follow this link for the story.. (you may have to copy & paste)

Then, check out the next Bethlehem Experience at Moffett Road Baptist Church in Mobile, AL tonight (Dec. 8) 6-8 p.m. and again Thursday, Friday and Saturday (December 13-15) also from 6-8 p.m. 

The folks at Moffett Road Baptist Church comprise an awesome community of faith. I've had the opportunity to meet and work with many of them. You owe it to yourself to have the Bethlehem Experience this Christmas season. 

"Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." Luke 2:15

Today's Christmas Cheer blog was inspired by a friend who shared the Bethlehem Experience with me. I'm searching for Christmas decorations and displays that capture my attention...from the traditional ones like the Bethlehem Experience.. to the more off-beat (see Day 3.)  If you have one you'd like me to share, get in touch with me via a comment, or through Facebook!

Friday, December 7, 2012

From Christmas Cheer to Christmas Weird- Day 7

Day 7- Christmas Cheer!

I am having trouble finding additions to the "Christmas Weird" entries.

I am thinking that's a good thing.

 I DID see a billboard the other day advertising two personal injury lawyers wearing Santa hats. I thought that was kinda' weird.. but I let it pass.

Today's entry comes from the Renaissance Battle House Hotel in downtown Mobile, AL. This 26 foot tall Christmas tree is breathtaking! If you are anywhere near here, CHECK IT OUT! 

They have  a picture frame and chair set up in front of it so that you can take you own Christmas photo. 


This Christmas display was recommended to me by a blogging and FB friend. If you see a Christmas decoration, or display, that is pretty... or pretty weird... let me know! I'd love to share it. In the meantime, check out my previous blog entries.. and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

From Christmas Cheer to Christmas Weird Day 6

Day 6- Christmas Cheer

I've seen so many beautiful Nativity scenes while scouting Christmas decorations to share with you. This one caught my eye because of its sheer size! The life-size scene covers a lot of ground! It sits outside a church on Highway 90 in Pace, FL.


The scripture on the banner behind the Nativity: Matthew 1:21 "thou shalt call his name Jesus." 

If you run across a pretty... or even pretty weird... Christmas display this holiday season, let me know! I'd love to share it, as we count down to December 25. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

From Christmas Cheer to Christmas Weird Day 5

Day 5- Christmas Cheer

I found this lawn decoration while driving through a lovely, quiet neighborhood. It made me smile! I love that Santa is the conductor of this Christmas train and Frosty is right behind him!

Check out my previous blogs with Christmas decorations that range from 'cheer' to 'weird.' If you know of a pretty-- or pretty weird-- Christmas decoration, let me know. I'd love to share it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

From Christmas Cheer to Christmas Weird! Day 4

I'm spending the days leading up to Christmas sharing holiday decorations that catch my eye... for better or worse--from Christmas Cheer to Christmas Weird! 

Day 4- Christmas Cheer AND Christmas Weird!

Bellingrath Gardens and Home-Magic Christmas in Lights has to be one of my favorite places to go during the Christmas season. It is a winter wonderland filled with lights that depict all things wonderful,and some things weird-y-ful, about this magical time of year. You decide which is which!
Only in the South.
Christmas lights in the shape of an armadillo.
A view from the lake

If you know of a Christmas decoration that is especially pretty.. or pretty weird... let me know! I'd like to share it!

In the meantime, check out Bellingrath Gardens Magic Christmas in Lights!

Monday, December 3, 2012

From Christmas Cheer to Christmas Weird! Days 1,2,3

I am NOT going to say it. I am NOT going to say it. Okay... I am going to say it. It IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas... everywhere you go.

What has caught my eye of late, however, is not just the amount of decorations that are up, but the wide, and often bizarre, variety of lights, garland, tinsel.. and blow up Santas.

So... my plan was to put up 25 days of Christmas decorations ranging from Christmas Cheer to Christmas Weird, one day at a time. The first three days of the month got away from me, so here are days one, two and three all at once!

Day 1: Christmas Cheer

Coming off of a painful football season, Auburn University needs something to be happy about. (I'm the mother of an Auburn grad and a big fan, so be careful now.. ya' hear?)  I found it tonight on Samford Lawn. The Christmas tree is a reminder that life is about more than football. It's about hope, promise.... and perhaps the gift of a better season on the field next year!  War Eagle!!

Day 2: Christmas Cheer

Oh, Christmas tree, Oh, Christmas tree! How lovely are your branches! I found this tree at the Christmas Market at St. Anne Catholic Church in Pensacola...a small church with a BIG heart and an even BIGGER Christmas tree! I wasn't there when it was decorated. Wonder who in the world they got to go all the way up there to put the angel in her perfect spot?

Day 3: Christmas Weird

COVER THE KIDS' EYES! Found this yard decoration in Pace, Florida. Santa bagged a (rein)deer. Oh, my. Hope Rudolph doesn't see this.

Stay tuned.. more cheer and weird are headed your way! If you see a particularly pretty.. or strange... Christmas display, let me know! I'm on the hunt... pun intended.