Go Ahead…Open It!

Image by yuyun fan from Pixabay

What traditions does your family have when it comes to Christmas gifts?

Do some of your family members like to give “prank” gifts?

This seems to be the specialty of a lot of Dads. Kids unwrap a gift from Dad to find an iPad box, and squeal with glee. When they open the box, however, they discover that inside are a bunch of eye pads! Thanks, Dad!

Or perhaps your family likes to disguise what the gift really is by wrapping it in a way that leaves you guessing. You might receive a large box, but when you unwrap it you find that it contains a series of increasingly smaller boxes. The last one contains the real gift, which might be a tiny box with jewellery inside.

In my family, we always open our gifts on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day itself. This tradition started when a certain little girl, who shall remain nameless, couldn’t wait until Christmas morning to see what “Santa” had brought her.

But no matter how a gift is wrapped or when it’s given, offering the gift is only half the equation.

It has to be received before the action is complete.

Read more

More Than Meets The Eye

Image by kalhh from Pixabay

Sometimes we don’t realize what we’re looking at, do we?

This winter solstice is a good example of that, because tonight we’ll be able to see a particularly bright “star” in the night sky.

That is, you might assume it’s a star, but you’ll actually be seeing something quite different.

This rare “Christmas star” will actually be a planetary conjunction. The planets Jupiter and Saturn will be so closely aligned tonight that they will appear to be one ultra-bright object.

At other times, a bright “star” you see might actually be a binary star system; that is, two stars orbiting each other. Or it could be the planet Venus. You’d need to study it through a telescope, adjust your focus and consult an astronomical guide to know for sure.

The truth is, sometimes we don’t really understand what we’re seeing.

That was certainly true for many of the people who saw the baby Jesus and the star which heralded His birth.

Read more

Yes, Virginia, There Really Is A Jesus Christ!

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

If you still believe in Santa Claus, please avert your eyes from the screen right now.

I’ll wait.

For the rest of you, how old were you when you realized that there wasn’t really a Santa Claus?

Five or six? Nine or ten? Thirty?

For me, the realization came on bit by bit over the years when I was little.

First off, on the gift tags on my Christmas presents, I noticed that the “To Lori, Love Santa” inscription was written in handwriting that looked an awful lot like my Mom’s. In fact, exactly like hers. I realized that it was, in fact, my Mom’s handwriting, not Santa’s.

That was my first inkling that something was up with this whole Santa thing.

Read more

No Matter Your Age, There’s a Miracle For You!

Stained glass window depicting Gabriel and Mary. Image by Dorothee Quennesson on Pixabay

When we think of the Christmas story, we often focus on the birth of Jesus as the only miraculous event that occurred.

And indeed it was an awesome miracle: the virgin birth of a baby who would become the Saviour of the world.

But there was another miraculous birth that happened around the same time, described only in the gospel of Luke.

The angel Gabriel told Mary she would conceive without having had relations with her betrothed, Joseph. The Holy Spirit would come upon her, and she would give birth to a son, who was to be called Jesus.

This was no doubt astounding news to Mary. But the angel didn’t stop there: he had another amazing news flash.

Read more

Preparing a Place Just For You

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pixabay

If this were a normal Christmas, I imagine that many of us would be preparing to have guests over for the holidays.

We’d be spiffing up the house, decorating the Christmas tree, and getting the guest bedroom ready for overnight visitors.

We might also be planning the decorations for the dining table: choosing which candles and flowers to use, bringing out the best china, or making whimsical place cards.

It’s fun to prepare for guests, isn’t it? Selecting special touches that you know they’ll like, ensuring that they’ll be comfortable, even customizing things so that each guest feels cherished.

This year, however, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into our Christmas plans. For many of us, preparing for guests is something that’s off the menu.

But did you know that there’s someone who’s still preparing a place for you, pandemic or not?

Read more

Christmas Fruitcake Solution

Do you like Christmas fruitcake? Or do you just pretend to? Some people look forward to making or receiving fruitcakes at this time of year. Other people dread the prospect of eating fruitcake yet again.

If you’ve been faking enjoyment of Christmas fruitcake all these years and would really rather not eat any more of it, I think I have a solution for you:

Read more

The Most Dazzling Christmas Light

Photo by Paul Vladuchick on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

What’s your favourite Christmas tradition? Is it exchanging gifts, baking special desserts, decorating the tree, or perhaps wearing ugly Christmas sweaters?

For many of us, our most cherished Christmas tradition probably involves lights, whether they’re on your own Christmas tree, or decorating houses in your neighbourhood. Some people go all out, putting tens of thousands of lights on their home, as in the example pictured above. Apparently, the interior of that house is decorated with the same exuberance, and with all the lights on, the homeowner can’t use the microwave without blowing all the fuses.

This season is inextricably linked to lights, but might we have missed the most important light of all?

Read more

The Perfect Christmas?

Photo by Adam Clark on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

What’s your idea of the perfect Christmas? Many of us have images in our minds of what the ideal Yuletide should look like.

It usually involves a spectacular Christmas tree with enticing gifts piled beneath it. The house would be decorated with pine boughs and red bows inside, and the exterior decked out with lights. The day itself would feature a scrumptious dinner with all the fixings, and numerous home-baked desserts. Top it all off with a house full of family, friends and laughter.

There’s only one problem with this picture.

Read more

How Larch Trees Are Like Jesus

Larch Trees, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Photo by Steve Jurvetson on Flickr CC BY-2.0

It’s easy to categorize trees, isn’t it? Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the autumn. Coniferous trees bear cones and keep their needles throughout the year. It’s simple to tell them apart.

Case closed, right?

But what about the larch tree? It bears cones and has needles like a conifer, but the needles drop off each autumn like a deciduous tree.

So which is it, coniferous or deciduous?

Read more