O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree – Real or Artificial

Do you have a “real” tree or artificial one this Christmas? This can be a loaded question for some. There are differing opinions of what constitutes as an “authentic” Christmas when choosing your tree. I personally would prefer the fragrance of a real tree, however, apartment dwelling has changed the premise of my choices. Apparently, an artificial tree is more conducive to smaller dwellings that do not allow many options for disposal of a real tree. Ask me how I know….ok, I will tell you my short story.

I went from a 2200 square foot home, to a 900 square foot apartment. And, while having a small, live, potted tree was an option, I just cannot have Christmas without a massive, fragrant, tree occupying a third of my living room. So, I convinced my husband to go shopping for a “real” tree. We found one we liked at a local market, strapped it to the top of our car, and proudly went home to put it up. Everything was fine until first, carrying up a flight of stairs, then trying to clean up all the needles that dropped from the tree onto…..well…..everywhere. Then, rearranging the furniture to accommodate the tree that now had taken up most of the room, made me second guess my opting to “go green”. But, in all, after lighting and decorating, I was happy. Until, with still two more weeks to go before Christmas, the tree started to dry up and die, in spite of my diligence to keep it watered and nourished. You could not walk by it without wiping out an entire branch of pine needles. We made it to Christmas, but let me tell you, I was taking that tree down the day after. It was so dry, there was no way to simply carry it across the room and out the door without making a horrific mess. So, while my husband was at work, I got his wire cutters and snipped every branch off so I could toss it into a garbage bag. When my husband got home, he had a mere bare stump to carry out to the dumpster. Yes, I declared that future Christmases would include an artificial tree, and so be it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love the thought of a real tree. In fact, every time we pass a vehicle with a beautiful “real” tree strapped on top of it, and the happy smiles of the family in the car, knowing that Christmas was about to be put up in their homes, I smile, and then, I snap out of it.

Why do we even have Christmas trees? I bet there are many different reasons that the diverse global population has for having a tree at Christmas time. Every family has its own stories of either going out into the woods to find that perfect tree, or just the plethora of tree lots that make it fun to shop for one. But the history of the Christmas tree dates back to ancient times when the early Romans would adorn their homes with evergreen branches as a symbol of life. (Hence, I suppose, real might be better for demonstrating this) It took the Renaissance era to display the tree in homes as a symbol of Christmas. There are many theories and stories relating to this iconic part of Christmas, but I prefer to enjoy the simple meaning…..it is a part of the decor that families choose to have as part of their own expression of the season.

The tree is symbolic of the place where gifts are stored til Christmas morning, or the where we can hang beautiful lights and ornaments. I read somewhere, long ago, that when you look at the tree, it is pointing upward, to remind us of the fact that it is not what is under tree that matters, but the birth of a child long ago that was and still is the ultimate gift of the season.

It does not matter if your tree is real or artificial. What matters is if your heart is real, if the love you have for your family and friends is real, and if your faith is real.  What matters is the family that gather around it. May the blessings of the holidays be abundant in all of your lives.

As always, I ask that you leave your comments below. Thank you and God bless all of you.

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Holiday Parties – Let The Games Begin

It is that time of year when all across the world, families will gather together to feast and play fun,silly, games. I say silly because, some of the games I have been involved in requires you to do some crazy stuff. Does anyone remember that game show on television, Minute to Win It? Our family loved playing many of the games they featured on the show. My favorite was called Junk in the Trunk. It required strapping a tissue box to your “behind” and filling it with ping pong balls. You had to shake your booty and get as many balls as you could out of the box in one minute. Needless to say, the room will always break out in a roar of laughter and O-M-Gees! I suppose that giving yourself permission to just go for it, and not care about what you may look like when playing these games, can be a good thing, after all, it is the holidays. In fact, you stand out more when you are the person who chooses not to “play“.

When I was a child, our family enjoyed playing board games. Some of them are vintage classics, like Sorry, Monopoly, and my dad’s favorite, Trouble. Many of these classics have survived the test of time and are still played around the family dining table today. I love being able to play with my grandchildren, and tell them stories of when I used to play the very same games with my parents.

Besides the family gatherings, many corporate offices plan an annual holiday party. I have attended many with my husband and always declare that I will not be playing any games, and that is final. But, when there, some evil competitive spirit rises up in me, and I am overcome with not only the need to play, but to win! No one ever believes me should  I happen to describe myself as shy, especially if they have seen me play games at a party. Oh well, again…..it is the holidays…..and there are often some great prizes.

Here is a list of 6 ideas for some holiday party games:

  • Ornament Guess – have your guests  guess how many ornaments are on the tree. Easy game to set up and you can reward the winner with a prize.
  • Christmas Carol Pictionary – teams race to draw popular Christmas carols, if the team guesses, they have to sing it to get their points.
  • Candy Canes – played like the game Spoons, but using candy canes.
  • Christmas Charades – you can’t have a party without some sort of charades game. Just make a list of holiday phrases or titles of Christmas movies or songs.
  • Blind Christmas Tree Ripping – see how well your guests can rip a Christmas tree out of construction paper while blindfolded. This is a good one to include the kids in the fun.
  • Jingle in the Trunk – this is a holiday twist to the Junk in the Trunk game mentioned above, only, you fill a tissue box with jingle bells instead of ping pong balls.

Party games are not for everyone. Many people are either intimidated or uncomfortable to participate in any kind of games at a party. If you are hosting a holiday event, always include games that can be either be played as a couple, (where perhaps, the wife is more willing to participate….wink, wink), or include non physical games, such as, trivia games. There are many sites that offer holiday printable games.

This holiday, whether you play games at your party, or simply choose to invite people over to share a meal and celebrate the season, remember to keep the reason for the season at the forefront of your gathering. In the process of our moving to a different state, I misplaced a manger that I once had and kept very visible amidst all of the other holiday decorations. I recently found one to replace the one I used to have. When I put it up, I immediately felt a peace come over our home. It is a simple reminder of the day of our Lord’s birth, and the hope he brought into the world. My eyes will wonder across the room, the lights, the gifts under the tree, and the stockings hanging, and then it falls to the scene in the manger and I know……Christmas is not about the games we play, or the food we eat….it is about the one laying in that manger. God Bless you all! Please, leave a comment below.

Blogging Grandmothers Link Party
Blogging Grandmothers Link Party


How to Keep Family Traditions

One of my all time favorite movies is the classic, Fiddler On The Roof. Though many life lessons can be learned from this movie, the one that stood out for me was the importance of upholding family traditions. I won’t give out any spoilers, but, in the movie, we discover alongside Tevye, the Jewish milkman and father of 5 daughters, that keeping traditions alive in a family can be challenging.

The holidays are the times we most often try to uphold our family traditions. Often, these traditions have been passed down from generation to generation. When I was growing up, our family unwrapped our gifts on Christmas Eve. My dad, would gather the family together and hand out gifts one at a time. When the unwrapping was done, we feasted on Christmas dinner as a family. Christmas Day was a day for visiting friends and enjoying all of our gifts.

So, it was only natural for me to uphold that same tradition when I had my own family. Luckily, my husband was willing to adopt my traditions. But for some, it can definitely become a problem if you both grew up with different family traditions. Over the years, I have had to let go of the traditional ways I grew up celebrating the Holidays. My children are grown with families of their own, and they have started their own traditions. There was many a time I felt like Tevye in the movie, and wanted to scream “noooo, that is not how we do things, it is not our tradition!” But, like Tevye, I came to realize that some traditions are better left as memories, so that there is always room for new ones.

So, how can we keep family traditions during the holidays, whilst keeping family peace and joy at the same time. Here are some suggestions that I myself have tried and found to be helpful:

  • Pick a Holiday – Since the holiday season stretches out over the course of 3 main events……Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, agree to host one of them with family and celebrate with the traditions you grew up with. It became a tradition for our children to celebrate Christmas Eve at our home, so they could be free to celebrate Christmas Day with their spouse’s family.
  • Pick another day – Though Thanksgiving is on a Thursday, you can always choose to celebrate on another day if their is a conflict, that way, no one has to make an uncomfortable choice. We often celebrated with a huge party on Thanksgiving weekend when I was growing up. Everyone was invited and brought a part of the meal that resulted in quite a feast.
  • Volunteer – Many churches actually prepare a Thanksgiving dinner to feed the homeless and less fortunate. It is a tradition that has changed many lives, both for the recipients and for those volunteering their time.

There are countless other ways that I’m sure many families have found to incorporate traditions from both past and present, keeping peace, love and harmony in their families.  I have only been speaking from the perspective of someone whose children are grown, with families of their own. But, it is wonderful when young families take the time to establish traditions that will continue for generations.

Whether your traditions are about what foods you cook, whose house you go to, what games you play or what decorations you put up this holiday season, the most important tradition of all is love. Love binds us all together. It transcends culture, social status, and feeds the soul. Without love, nothing will taste good, look good or feel good. If we can establish and cultivate love within our families, we can change the world. God Bless You All! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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