Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Advent Wreath

I am sure there is a long history to the advent wreath, but I really have never researched it. It's been part of my history ever since I can remember.

My parents had a gold circle with ornate candle cups as their advent wreath. My grandmother had a plain one. She put a green, plastic, Christmas wreath on hers and it looked very pretty.

Our first year of being married, I didn't have an advent wreath. I bought four votive candles (three purple, one pink), lit them, waited them to have enough wax to drip, and fastened them to a plate by the wet wax. I put a shimmering Christmas garland around it and called it a day. It served well and looked pretty.

Other years, I've used heavy coat thread to hang the wreath from the chandelier above our dining table, and decorated that with a plastic star garland we had. It looked great, and with a bigger family by this time, saved much needed table space.

There are traditional prayers and meditations, but often we lit the candle (or candles depending on the week) and said a simple grace.

A search on Google will find all sorts of Advent meditations and prayers but this might be a nice place to begin: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0132.html

I hope you observe Advent this year. I think you'll find it very beneficial!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hail and Blessed!








Not only is this Sunday the day we're holding our big Thanksgiving family dinner, it is also the start of the season of Advent.

You might not be familiar with the Advent Season. This year has been one more hard year, following more hard years than any of us want to remember. It seems, at least in these parts, that as soon as September started, people started to put up their scarecrows, pumpkins and even spider webs. Even before September ended, big pots of mums made their appearances as well as jack-o-lanterns, tree ghosts, and witches flying into walls. Hardly had the kids categorized their Halloween stash, than all Halloween and fall decorations were thoroughly removed and replaced with Christmas decorations. Christmas music has been on the radio, and avoided by me, for at least two weeks now.

Advent has been being pushed out the door for years now, but it seems like even Advent Calendars - items that have been passed down through generations even, are unheard of today.

I can understand it. The last few years have been just awful - no horrendous is a more apt definition. People have been losing their houses, their jobs, medical benefits, retirement and even all their savings for at least the last four years. Now we can add sabre rattling by North Korea and increased threats from Al Queda.

People don't want to think about waiting for Christmas. They don't want to think about giving things up. They feel like they've done enough giving up.

We don't need the somberness of purple candles. We need bright, colorful lights and cheery singing of carols that bring back memories of a happier time.

We don't have the emotional fortitude for advent.

But, may-be we should.

Advent is a simple season. If you don't want to have an advent wreath, Jesse Tree or advent calendar, you don't have to. You can have all three if you want them. They don't have to be plain, you can dress them up as much as you'd like!

The real beauty of Advent is the building of, and strengthening of character. In this world of noise and immediacy, when we want or think we need everything now, Advent encourages us to wait, to be still and reflect. Something BIG is going to happen. Something wonderful, more wonderful than has ever happened before and will never happen again. Something that deserves to be meditated on, anticipated, and truly celebrated for what it is.

The best part about Advent is the lack of pressure. There is nothing you must buy, no gifts to have to shop for, no traditional foods, no must go to meetings. However, you have to remember, that you will only get out of observing Advent, what you put into it.

Many people pray this prayer (It's called the Christmas Novena or St Andrew's Christmas Novena) starting on the first day of Advent until the Feast of Christmas :

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires. (Mention your intentions here) Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.

It is said 5 times at every meal. The repetition might seem strange to you, or even superstitious, but Our Lord has told us to be constantly praying. Remember the widow and the unjust Judge who ruled against her. But the widow kept petitioning the Judge, night and day, until he could stand it no longer, and reversed his verdict to rule in her favor.

Very wonderful favors have been given from the reciting of this prayer, and I really encourage you to make it part of your Advent this year.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thankful Day


One of the not-so-great things about having your children grow up, is that they grow up. They grow up, get educated, and move away. They have responsibilities that you can't suspend, things like the obligation to work on Thanksgiving Day.

So a few years ago, when the majority of our family had to work on Thanksgiving Day, we gave a long hard look at the holiday.

Was it a religious holiday? No

Did it have to be celebrated on any particular day to preserve it's authenticity? No. Throughout American history, Thanksgiving has been celebrated on many different days. In Colonial America, they sometimes celebrated many days of thanksgiving.

We broke down what we thought thanksgiving is to us - a day to be thankful and to gather with our family. We summarized that if over half of our family was missing the traditional Thanksgiving meal because they had to work and wouldn't be able to make the trip to our home, then it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving.

So we changed the day we would celebrate, to a day that the majority of our family would be able to gather together. One year it was on a Monday. This year it is on a Sunday. I also found that by not having our meal on the BIG THANKSGIVING DAY, a lot of the pressure for the perfect meal was gone.

We still have turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie; but the turkey isn't as large. We may cook more foods, but we don't cook a bigger quantity. Leftovers are more manageable and not a burden to try to foist into later meals.

So, while you are eating your thanksgiving meal, I will think of all the blessings that I have been given.

1. The top blessing for me is my year of remission from cancer. Because if I wasn't in remission, I would either be battling, or sleeping the deep sleep!

2. My next blessing is that all the rest of my family is healthy. Not relatively healthy with minor ailments. They are strong-as-a-horse healthy. And for that, I am grateful!

3. I am grateful for a husband who stayed loyal through all our ups and downs while I was healthy. I am grateful the way he put his shoulder to the wheel during the iffy days of my survival, and my grueling recovery.

4. I am grateful for the relationship between all of my children. They truly love each other, and will be there for each other through thick and thin. The older ones look out for the younger ones, so they avoid the pitfalls of life. And the younger ones remind the older ones to be vigilant for their health.

5. I am grateful that my illness didn't scare any of my children away from me. I'm sure coming to see me, esp when I was covered in tubes and wires was very hard to endure.

6. I am grateful for all the prayers that were continually offered for me during my struggle. I'm sure that, and my surgeon, are the only reason I have been given a reprieve.

7. I am grateful for the Internet. It kept me in touch with, and helped me to get to know better my Aunt Tanya and cousin Bernadette , both who left this world in God's friendship within this year.

8. I am grateful to Bernadette, who's example and advice helped me to endure hospital life.

9. I am thankful for my language.

10. I am thankful that my husband has a full time job.

11. I am thankful that we have enough food.

12. I am thankful for a roof over my head.

13. I am thankful for a warm house in winter and a cool house in summer.

14. I am thankful to live in America.

15. I am thankful that we aren't governed by Sharia law in America.

16. I am grateful that I'm not a woman, or a Catholic under Sharia Law.

17. I am grateful that my testimony is valued equally with a man's testimony in court.

18. I am grateful that I can own property in my own name.

19. I am grateful that I can vote in all government elections.

20. I am grateful that I can pick who I want to marry.

21. I am grateful that I can pick if I want to stay married.

22. I am grateful that I could go to school, without having to hide that information, or worrying if I would be killed on my way to school or in school, simply because I was a female.

23. I am grateful that I can pick what church I want to attend on Sunday, without fear that terrorists are going to drive through the front door, throw bombs at us, and shoot three year olds through the mouth because he screamed "Stop the shooting!" in terror.

24. I am grateful that I don't have to go to any church, temple or mosque if I don't want to.

25. I am grateful that I don't live in a country where enemies can make up offenses against you, for adultery, witchcraft, blasphemy etc, and you get railroaded into a death of hanging until suffocated, stoning, crucifixion, or burning at the stake.

26. I am grateful to live in a country where I was allowed to accept every single child God sent us, without fear of forced abortion or fines.

27. I am grateful to live in a country where I can write what I want on this blog what I want to write, without the fear of having my door pounded down in the middle of the night, being arrested, and never seen again.

28. I am grateful that I live in a country in which I can write a letter to the editor about politicians, about the cost of the paper today - Sunday price, filled with paid advertising - feeling very ripped off, and being able to sign my real name, without fear.

29. I am grateful to live in a country where I can wear a religious symbol four foot high, on my five foot body, and no one will have the right to tell me to remove it.

30. I am grateful not only for free public schools, but also for the right to home school if I wish. I only wish that the free education extended onto college and tech school, and didn't end at the age of 21, but went on until death.

31. I am grateful that I can bring such joy to all people. Some people feel joy at my arrival, and others feel joy at my departure.

32. I am grateful for the relatively inexpensive price of chocolate. (And hope that the rumors I've heard that chocolate will be too expensive for the average person to buy in the next 20 years are totally wrong.)

33. I am grateful for the readers of my blog. Thank-you!

What are you grateful for?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And now a break from our usually scheduled programming!

Here I am, typing away on a keyboard attached to a borrowed computer. I still have no idea what I, or one of my family members, clicked on in order to get the computer frying virus that we got. So, I'm a little nervous about using the computer, and my imagination is a little rusty at this point. The conclusion to my Halloween Story will be coming, but it's kind of hard to write about Halloween in November, on a borrowed computer.

Before I continue on this particular post, let me reiterate, I am NOT a professional. I am only someone with a certain world view and the common sense of that world view. I can only give my opinion, and I can't guarantee that it is correct. So please take the following with a big ol' shaker of salt. Come to think of it, sipping on a Margarita couldn't hurt either!


Dear Old Broad,

My husband lost his very good job a few months ago. There was no warning, the whole department was given a box at their desk to clean out their effects, and were escorted by a guard out of the building. He was home before ten that morning.

I have a little part time job in retail. It was never meant to pay any bills, just mostly gave me something to do.

We have figured that we can pay the mortgage for about six months, and if our house isn't sold by then, we'll most likely lose it. Just like so many other Americans.

We bought a small, single wide trailer in a nearby park, and have been transferring things we want to keep to the trailer and dumping years and years of memories into a dumpster. While I'm doing that, my husband is doing maintenance on the house so hopefully it will sell faster.

All the kids are out of the house, except one, and she will be out of high school this year. I'm not thrilled that someone else will get to use my newly remodeled kitchen when and if my house sells, but I'm trying to make the best out of it. With the trailer, at least we know we'll have a roof over our heads.

The problem is my husband. He is so angry! I don't think he thought his job would ever end, and if it did, he'd find a new one easily. The fact that he'll probably work as a greeter in Home Depot when the unemployment times out has him furious.

The situation isn't my dream scenario, but I'm dealing with it. He is not. He is angry, sarcastic and caustic. It's making trying to deal with the situation much harder than if we could just deal with it as a team.

I know there's nothing you can do. I'm just venting.

Sincerely,
His Wife



Dear His Wife,

My first question to you is this, do you fear that you might be physically harmed by him when he is angry? Because if you do, you need to get help, and a women's crisis center would probably be the place to get it.
If you are not afraid for your physical well being, and please remember I'm not an advice giver by trade, then I think you need to get your husband some counseling. If he's spent a lot of time being educated and/or time working in this profession, then his loss is probably more than what it appears at first sight.
I'm guessing he is going through a very depressing time.

Well, that's it for me. I'm sorry that I'm not much more help than this. May-be my readers will have better suggestions?

Friday, November 5, 2010

You can't keep a good woman down, knock wood!

It happened again, my computer got a horrible virus that resisted all of the tricks that I learned previously to remove it.

Then my son came for a week. My knight in shining armor! But, alas, it kicked his butt too!

So now, I am on a "loaner" computer. So all of the nifty pictures that I had for my blog, that were stored on my computer, are gone too. They might be salvageable, but I won't know for a very long time.

Sociable

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