Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. ~ Hal Borland

Holiday Intolerance

happy holidays

My brother once said that once in a while I write about things that are controversial.    This may be one of those times.

I have watched folks get their underwear in a bunch because some people choose to say Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas.  I am talking about a tight bunch, maybe even a knot, and they have no problem telling anyone who does not use the phrase Merry Christmas they are wrong, lost, heathen, you pick your word.

Biblical scholars are quite uncertain about the actual date when Christ was born.  I acknowledge that December 25th is the day most, but not all Christian faiths, choose to observe the birth of Christ.     So greeting friends and associates who practice the Christian faith or hold Christian beliefs  with a greeting of Merry Christmas is perfectly correct..    Statistically they say about 70-80% of the US citizens say they are Christian.  So saying Merry Christmas is pretty safe.

On the other hand  nearly 30% of the citizens practice something other than the Christian religion.  I feel blessed that I had the opportunities to meet co-workers and neighbors who were in the 30%.  This life experience has made me a Happy Holiday girl.  I make no apologies.   I wish everyone peace on earth, good health and a happy holiday no matter how they celebrate it.    I have no interest in insulting a person  by suggesting their religion/belief system is wrong and mine is right.   It is to me more than tolerance; it is acceptance.    I have not seen the red phone to God, to let me know which religion is right.   So I seek to understand, find similarities and understand differences.

So the next time you consider telling someone that happy holiday is a wrong greeting, consider this, are you behaving in a Christian fashion?

Last Weekend Before Christmas

OK it is not really the last weekend before Christmas, but if you hope to ship anything it is the last weekend before Christmas. It is.

This is where the rubber meets the road.   Time for procrastinating is over.   Time for a reality check is due; what can be done for Christmas and what can’t be done.       The family of years ago with everyone living within a couple of  hours of their parents is long gone.   We are now scattered to the four corners of the continent and even a few have settled across the pond.  It is no longer possible for everyone to descent on the old home place for the holidays.   We no longer meet up with family members we love to see and a few we would rather skip seeing.    If you are not going to be home for the holidays it is now time things ready to ship.

This long distance family has been a boon for the commercialization of the holiday.   When you lived near your family it seemed that you saw them often enough, that if you wanted to give a gift, you knew what your family member would appreciate or need.    Your family knew more about your business than you wanted, but there was a quiet understanding when times were tough that your gift may not be as expensive or extravagant as you wished, but it came from the heart. Instead today we feel we must spend to show our love and that we are thinking of family.   That shipped gift without your face, well it has to make up for something.   So we tend to overspend and send gifts we aren’t really sure are right.   Some how we think anything less would not say I love you.

I wrote this because I am struggling with the reality that I am not going to do any  Christmas baking this year. I usually bake dozens of cookies or all sorts and sizes.  I am that person you hate to get behind at the post office.   It is I who lines up with 25 or so priority mail boxes to ship to family and friends all around the country this last shipping Monday before the holiday.   Those boxes are lovingly packed to the brim with just enough for each family member to have one or two of each kind.      Cookies are my love in a box,and some how not doing it seems like I don’t care enough to make time.   Though my  logical brain understands the circumstances this year,  my heart feels some of that Lutheran guilt.

Today I thought for a couple of minutes about running to town and buying 25 made in Montana  goodie food boxes and shipping them apologizing for it not being homemade.   Then something kicked in, those that know will understand.   Those that would not have understood, should not have been on my list anyway.  I have made peace with this decision.   I have also promised myself that this year, when they least expect it, I plan to mail those on my Christmas cookie list some love in a box.     Not because it is a holiday, their birthday or some significant day, but because I thought of them and wanted them to know someone in Montana loves them.

It feels a little weird, but I know it is alright.   The presence of a gift or not does not change how I feel about them.   Those who we love know that.

Christmas Tree – Yes, No, Maybe

One of the many trees that RangerSir has brought home over the years

One of the many trees that RangerSir has brought home over the years

I am not sure if we will have a Christmas tree this year or not.   We do not always have a Christmas tree, and that is OK  with us.    The responsibility for a tree  falls to my husband traditionally because he loves having a tree.   It also falls primarily to him  because we still cut our tree out in the woods.   The woods, where most of the trees are not really Christmas tree material.     This means that starting about October RangerSir starts to keep an eye out for the perfect tree, perfect “Charlie Brown” style open with short needles.    He picks out several possible trees, never knowing if the snow is going to be deep and early, and some of those will not be accessible come harvest time.   He buys a tree cutting permit, throwing it in the glove box so he is ready when the time comes to cut one.   Finally when the mood is right, the roads are accessible , the weather is isn’t too cold and whatever other stars need to alight, RangerSir will make a detour on his way home from work and get the tree for our holiday.

This year he has been laid up, and there has been lots of snow since he last worked. He was still looking at trees and had not trimmed his list of possibilities to just a few.  He has no idea what roads are snowed closed and where we could get still with 4-wheel drive get in and out.   On top of this it is now bitter cold here in southwestern Montana, like the frostbite kind.  The man of our house will not be making a trip trip alone this year.     If we get a tree this year it will be a joint endeavor, a true family effort.

Will you be having a tree this year??  Is it one use or permanent?   Do you make it a family outing to go get a freshly cut?   Or is is simple and small, just enough to bring back memories and warm your heart?

Most Busy Time of the Year

Oh my did I set myself up for failure planning to blog everyday during this holiday season.  Obviously it isn’t going to happen.    The holidays for are very busy days for so many of us, for me it isn’t so much the holiday as it is work.   This is the the preparation season for my employer’s most significant event of the year.   Already my days are long and most nights when I quit my stack of to-do’s is bigger than it was when I started.    I am not complaining but it makes me thankful that we simplified our Christmas years ago.   We participate in that which we enjoy and skip the rest.

That is my reflection today, what things can you skip?   Does it take to much time and bring too little enjoyment for yourself or others?   Is it money that you can’t really afford to spend?   Do you do it because you always have or it is expected, what would happen if you did not do that this year?  Could you skip one thing this year and would it make the holiday a little better for you?

Christmas Photo Design & Ordered

Tonight we picked out a photo taken of us this year to enclose in the Christmas cards.  It was taken this summer when friends from Minnesota were here.   We were both smiling, a reflection of the good times we have when we get together with friends.    It definitely is a great snapshot to share with friends & family.

Once the photo was chosen, then I had to get it all dolled up in Photoshop.  What means is we usually add a few holiday graphics.     I grabbed a few free digital art items and bought a couple more.   This year we went toward the infographic look for our picture, sort of.    There are a few number of this kind of Christmas pictures to be found on Pinerest if you are not familiar with infograhics.  It will take place of the traditional Christmas letter.   One less thing I will be doing this year; writing a letter.


Now I am trying to load it up to the local pharmacy photo processor so I can have them printed.     There must be a ton of this going on because my upload is taking forever.   Oh well soon it will be in the que for printing.   One less thing for me to worry about.

An inspiration piece from Pinerest for our Christmas photo this year.

Make My Cookie Choices

I am biting of a big chunk of responsibility here in the midst of the holiday season that can be so busy, I plan to blog daily.    I plan to share each day my steps working up to Christmas.  So without further ado I kick of the first of hopefully 25 consecutive posts.

The first of December brings the time that I look over old recipes, dig out cookbooks and look for new one to try, visit Yummly.com, visit the ever popular pinerest.com, tv cooking show sites and lastly recipes.com.   This is a big deal in planning for me because I pull my list together and make one trip to the warehouse store, purchase what I need and call it quits.    Planning my baking is also an early effort because they need to be shipped to family and friends back in the Midwest.   Off to plan.   I will let you know what I decide to make this year.