Did you have a wonderful weekend? We had a really lovely, mostly lazy Saturday, and I’ll admit that my Sunday was mostly lazy, but I did watch hubby paint the kitchen! (I offered to help – he said he could do it on his own.) It is going to look AMAZING when it’s done. It needs another coat or two of paint, but it already brightens up the house and looks pretty incredible. I can’t wait to share it with you after it is all done. Nothing like a coat of paint to give new life to the house!
Verse of the Day
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Thoughts on the Verse of the Day
Are you ashamed? Culture tries to make us ashamed about our faith, portraying people of faith as stupid, insensitive, judgmental, and hypocritical. Are you ashamed? Are you willing to share your faith humbly and gently with those who do not know Jesus as their Lord? Are you ashamed? Your hero left heaven to come to earth and risk everything so that you could come home to heaven with him. This Gospel is powerful. This Gospel is transformational. This Gospel, and the salvation it brings, are for all people. So let’s not be ashamed; let’s be joyous and generous with this incredible gift that we have received.
Mistletoe . . . we see it in all of the Christmas movies, hanging over doorways with a couple caught under it at the same time awkwardly kiss at the realization that it is there. Because we have been raised with the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, many of us don’t question where the tradition started, or why. I was curious though, and I’m sure at least a few of you are too. Here’s what I found out! It’s really interesting!
Mistletoe was considered to be sacred by the Norse, the Celtic Druids and the North American Indians. The Druid priests would cut mistletoe from an oak tree with a sickle made of gold, with the branches needing to be caught before they could touch the ground. The branches would be divided into many sprigs and handed out to the people, who would hang them over their doorways as a protection against evils, including thunder and lightening. It was thought that if you placed a sprig in a baby’s cradle that it would protect the baby from goblins, and that giving a sprig to the first cow to have a calf after New Year would protect the whole herd! It is also a symbol for peach and joy! In the ancient times of the Druids, whenever enemies met under the mistletoe in the forest they had to put down their weapons and keep truce until the next day. This is where the custom of hanging a ball of mistletoe from the ceiling and kissing under it started, as a show of friendship and goodwill. So while all of this “scandal” rolls through the country with everyone bringing up “harassment” from many years gone by, even dragging being kissed under the mistletoe into it as a potential harassment hazard, keep in mind that this is a tradition that goes back for centuries and that the original intent was peace and good-will, even between enemies.
So, what exactly IS mistletoe? Well, mistletoe is a parasitical plant that doesn’t have roots of its own and lives off of the tree that it is attached to. If it didn’t have that tree, it would die. It was thought to be sacred by ancient Europeans. It was used by the Druids in their sacrifices to the gods, and the Celtic people thought it had miraculous healing powers. The name for mistletoe in the Celtic language even means “all-heal”. They thought it rendered poisons harmless, made humans and animals prolific, kept them safe from witchcraft and even protected their homes from ghosts! With ALL of those amazing abilities they also thought the plant brought good luck to anyone who had some. There is a beautiful story that the Norsemen had about mistletoe. The story goes that mistletoe was the sacred plant of Frigga, the goddess of love and the mother of Balder, who was the god of the summer sun. Balder had a dream about death, which frightened his mother, because if he died then all life on earth would end. To keep this from happening she went right away to air, fire, water, earth to every animal and plant, to get them to promise that no harm would come to her son. Now Balder couldn’t be hurt by anything on earth, or under the earth. Balder did have one enemy though. Loki, the god of evil, knew of one plant that Frigga hadn’t thought of in her quest to keep her son safe from harm. It did not grow on the earth, or under it, but on apple and oak trees. It was the mistletoe. Loki made an arrow tip of the mistletoe and gave it to the blind god of winter, Hoder. Hoder shot it, striking Balder dead. The sky went pale, and all things in heaven and earth cried for the sun god. For three days each element tried to bring him back to life. Finally Frigga restored him. The tears she cried for her son turned into the pearly white berries that are on the mistletoe plant and being full of joy, she kissed everyone who passed under the tree on which it was growing. The story ends with a decree that anyone who stands under the mistletoe would come to no harm. They would just get a token of love, a kiss. It was a natural transition to translate the spirit of this myth into a Christian way of thinking and to accept the mistletoe as a symbol of that great Love that conquers Death. Mistletoe’s medicinal properties, whether they are real or imaginary, make it perfectly emblematic of the Tree of Life, the leaves representing the healing of the nations, which parallels it to the Virgin Birth of Christ.
Later, during the eighteenth-century, the English gave mistletoe credit for magical romance, instead of healing powers. A kissing ball was made with the mistletoe and at Christmas time a young lady who found herself standing under a ball of it; brightly decorated with evergreens, ribbons and ornaments, could not refuse to be kissed. If nobody kissed her then she could not expect to marry during the following year. Whether or not we believe in the magic, it does make it fun to hang it up at Christmas time.
Food for Thought
Have you ever looked at your family and had to acknowledge that you are taking after your mom, your dad, an aunt or uncle, etc. and came to the realization of something very important . . . you were really happy that you resembled them in either looks or behavior, or it made you want to change. A good example for me is that I never really thought I took after my Dad, but lately I have come to see that, like him, I don’t sweat the small details. If I need to do something, but it doesn’t get done in great detail, as long as the end result is acceptable, I’m fine with it. I don’t stress out if everything isn’t perfect, which I am going to assume is the best thing for my blood pressure. Being happy about this is a good thing, just as being unhappy about negative behavior and changing it could turn out to be good. If you are perpetuating bad behavior – such has having a terrible temper, or being difficult to be around – and you haven’t liked this in a family member, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that you need to make some changes for the positive and be a more pleasant person to be around. In this Christmas season, where peace and good will are supposed to reign, it’s the very best time of all to make the positive changes and be deserving of the blessings that have been bestowed upon you. Just a thought.
National Dice Day – Today we celebrate, well . . . DICE! In Ancient Greece dice were considered to not be lucky, and were supposedly controlled by the gods. The very first dice were made with sticks, sea shells, nut shells and pebbles. Later on dice were made of animal knuckle bones and eventually modern dice were created. They are made in a variety of materials such as plastic and wood. The singular form of dice is “die” or “dice cube”. I knew about die, but not dice cube. The official game of National Dice Day is . . . are you ready for this? “DICE!!” hahaha how original is that? The basic game is played by rolling a die, or dice. Multiply the number rolled by 100. The person with the highest score after 4 rolls wins! Couldn’t be easier! I actually learned to count and add in my head in great part by playing Yahtzee with my Dad, so dice were a big part of my growing up years.
Santa’s List Day –This is the day that Santa checks his list – you know the one in the songs and stories! “He’s making a list, and checking it twice . . . ” Santa’s elves have been hard at work compiling lists of all of the naughty and nice children. Naughty kids get coal in their stockings and nice kids get gifts. This where the fairly new tradition of having an Elf on the Shelf comes from. Does anyone else find the thought of people of indeterminate stature (or anyone of any stature) stalking our every move to report back to their boss what we’ve been up to, to be exceptionally creepy and invasive? Does this naughty/nice list scenario remind you acutely of invasions of our privacy that have recently come to light that have been perpetuated by our government?? I know – way to make a fun kid’s story grim. . . it’s really rather disturbing if you put much thought into it though! (Don’t get me wrong – we have an elf, and have been known to take pictures of him getting into mischief – we just haven’t gotten him out this year!)
Wear Brown Shoes Day – Do you have a pair of brown shoes? Most of us may have a pair of brown shoes in our closets, but they truly don’t get worn that often. Today is the day to dust them off and put them on your feet! Doesn’t matter if they are brown boots, loafers, or any other brown colored footwear – they’ll do. As I was writing this I had to wonder, how many pairs of brown shoes and boots do I actually have? Used to be I didn’t have any because I didn’t really have anything to wear them with, but now I think I have at least 6 pairs . . . if you count the two pairs of hiking boots. By the way, if you wear brown shoes today, make the look uniform and wear brown socks too!
Food Celebration of the Day –
National Cookie Day – Don’t stress during the holidays: Take a tip from the pros and double (or triple) your next batch. Freeze the leftover dough to speed up your next round of cookie-making. If you are participating in a cookie exchange or simply baking for your family, a yummy cookie recipe is key. While some people have recipes passed down from generation to generation, the beginner baker can struggle to find a recipe worth sharing. If you don’t want to pass off store bought cookies as your own this year, try this Snickerdoodle Recipe that I found – attributed to Chef Dobra Bielinski. It’s been said that it is Santa’s favorite cookie!
Snickerdoodle, makes 4 dozen
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 t vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
2 T white sugar
2 T ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
- Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate-Dipped Fortune Cookies
- Frosted Ginger Cookies
- Best-Ever Butterscotch Cookies
- Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
- Soft & Chewy Sugar Cookies
- Triple-Chocolate Fudge Cookies
I’m ready for a great week, and I hope you are too. Don’t sweat the small stuff, make a list of the things you need to do, and though aiming to complete that list, don’t sweat it if you don’t get it done! It won’t give you more time, it will only stress you out, and that is not what this time of the year should be about. God bless you and I will see you tomorrow.