Another view of Christmas

My sister in Los Angeles is as intrigued with new words as am I.  She asked if I knew this word – Conciliabule.  No, I didn’t, do you?    It is a clandestine meeting of conspirators.  So how can I use it in a sentence?  “Obviously, the group of women in the coffee shop was a conciliabule.  What were they planning, and against whom?” Is that OK although it isn’t one sentence but two?

And today into my inbox popped this from Qantas.  That is the Australian National Airline.  As an aside, years ago when we were in New York I had to meet my husband at the Qantas office.  When I told the cab driver where I wanted to go, he asked if that were one of the newly emerging African airlines.  Our friends at Qantas were not amused.

Anyway, back to the inbox

On the twelfth day of Christmas Qantas offered me

Flights to New York from $599 economy one way and

Twelve Big Apples
Eleven junk boats sailing
Ten lions roaring
Nine hibiscuses blooming
Eight roos a jumping
Seven lucky dragons
Six Asian elephants
Five Big Bens chiming
Four koi swimming
Three empanadas
Two merlions
And a koala in a gum tree.

Notes –
1.   The Merlion (Malay: Singa-Laut) is a well-known marketing icon of Singapore depicted as a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish
2.   An empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries of The Americas and in Spain

A Koala in a Gum Tree

Have fun whatever you are doing today.  I am and enjoying the sunshine here in this most beautiful city.

Courtesy Simon Woolf

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Christmas Is Coming

 

holly

“Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat;
If you haven’t got a penny a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!”
Nursery rhyme and Christmas carol (frequently sung as a round)

When I was growing up in London following the end of WW2 we always had goose for Christmas dinner.  Not for us a turkey.  In fact, I don’t ever remember having turkey at home until long after I was married.  Quite late on Christma Eve father would go to the market and buy a goose.  They, of course, were reduced at this time so that’s when he went.

Later, after moving to New Zealand with my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman), I remember a particular Christmas at home with my family.   By this time, the late 60s, goose had been superseded by turkey and father in company of his son-in-law, took off as usual to purchase the bird.  Well, these two men purchased the bird and then in a festive mood did a round of various pubs on the way home.

When they did eventually arrive home, much later than expected by mother for dinner, they were without the bird.  It had been left in one of the hostelries they had visited.  Mother was less than pleased, she didn’t drink and didn’t think it was at all funny.  I had to decide whose side I was on and while secretly siding with father and DYS I nodded assent and support to mother.

Some time later, and rather more merrier I might say, they arrived home complete with bird.  Mother was placated, a late dinner was served and much laughter followed  And the story of the bird was told on many Christmases that followed.

What happy memories.

And now, did you know?

  • Clement Moore’s 1823 poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was the catalyst for the reinvention of St Nicholas into the jolly, fat image of Santa we now know?
  • Also invented by Moore, Santa’s travels are invariably connected to reindeer.  In the poem, they are pictured charging through a winter sky complete with strong, elaborate horns.  But in winter reindeer lose their horns so are Santa’s reindeer all female or are they castrated males?
  • Moore omitted to tell us that St Nicholas was Turkish.  He was real and was born in Patara, Turkey.  He was an early Christian and in the 4th Century, he became bishop of the district of Demre where some of his bones can still be visited.  Little fact is known of him, only oral legends relating to his goodness and kindness to children.
  • Another poem, this one by Frank Baum (who wrote The Wizard of Oz) told that Santa lived in a valley called Ho Ho Ho.  American marketers quickly picked up on the poem and Ho Ho Ho became Santa brand’s catch cry.
  • The song Jingle Bells never mentions Christmas and has no connection to Christmas.  It was originally composed for America’s Thanksgiving festival in 1857.
  • Nobody knows when Jesus was born or died. For many centuries people in the northern hemisphere celebrated the winter solstice, the shortest day and the turning point in the long, often hard, cold winter.  Some 300 years after Jesus’ (guessed at) death date, Pope Julius I announced that 25th December would be the date to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  As Christianity spread around the world, this date took over the existing festivities and became “Christmas”.  The word Christmas didn’t come into being until 1032 AD.
  • The bible doesn’t say that three kings visited the baby Jesus but refers to “Wise men from the east”.  They may well have been astronomers (they did follow a star) or Zoroastrian priests and the fact that the three gifts, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh are mentioned is the possible basis for assuming there were three visitors.
  • And the gifts they brought.  Gold and Frankincense would be acceptable but in ancient times Myrrh was very expensive and used in embalming dead bodies and was burned at funerals to disguise the smell of bodies that hadn’t been embalmed.  Why would it be brought to a newborn child?
  • And everybody’s favourite – Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”.  There have been 14 versions of this story.
  • Four Calling Birds in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  Originally it was four colly birds, colly being the ancient word for black (as in collier and coal) so colly birds were blackbirds.  As time went by colly fell out of use and didn’t make sense so people started saying four calling birds.  This doesn’t make sense either.
  • Decorated evergreen trees have been part of December celebrations in Europe for many centuries reminding everyone that spring is just around the corner.  The decorated Christmas tree became accepted in the UK when Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the children were depicted in the “Illustrated London News” standing around a lavishly decorated Christmas tree.
  • The use of X as in Xmas is not at all invalid or disrespectful.  The word Christ was never part of Jesus’ name, it is a title assigned by later worshippers in Greek meaning ‘the anointed one’.  In ancient Greece, the letter chi was written with a symbol very like an X and the title assigned to Jesus was Xristos and was frequently abbreviated to just X.  So writing Christmas as Xmas has been considered acceptable for some 1000 years.  Note early publications were charged by the number of letters so using X in Xmas was encouraged.
  • The wassail ritual was an ancient pre-Christian custom of drinking a toast to the sun after the northern mid-winter approximately 25 December and hopes for a bountiful harvest in the coming warmer months. Hence the song ‘Here we come a-wassailing’ was a gathering of friends drinking a toast.  “Waes Hael” in ancient English means “Be healthy” and the usual drink was a mixture of spices, apple juice and eggs.  (Give me a G&T any time).
  • Christmas was cancelled in England in the 1640s when Puritan law forbade churches to open on Christmas Day and banned home decorations, celebrations, carol singing and the creating of Nativity scenes.  December 25 was declared a day of everyday work and fasting.  The outraged populace made Christmas observances in secret until the Monarchy was restored in 1660 and King Charles II restored Christmas.
  • And finally, a horse named Santa Claus won the Epsom Derby in 1964.

So there you have my list – as my son always says I have a fund of useless information.  Enjoy it anyway.

 

 

Another View of Christmas

I just found this from 2012 and have to ask the same questions 5 years later. Nothing has changed

I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

“An eye for an eye
will make us all blind.”
Mahatma Gandhi

After all the cheerful Christmas posts I have been writing and reading, I remembered this video – Happy Christmas (War is Over) from John Lennon.

Lennon was murdered on 8 December 1980 and so it is obviously many years since he sang this song but  what has changed?  War is still being raged around the world; people are dying; children are being maimed; people are starving; people are being punished for their beliefs; bombs are still being manufactured by countries who deny this; prisoners are being inhumanely treated….  Will we ever learn?

And compare that video with the words of Imagine

YES JUST IMAGINE
Wouldn’t that make for a Very Happy Christmas

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It Had to Happen

 

Sunshine

Photo credit Simon Woolf

After days of wonderful warm sunshine and almost no wind, we have been lulled into the belief that summer is really here this year in Wellington.  Unfortunately, I awoke this morning to heavy rain and strong wind.  The rain didn’t last but the wind has blown all day.

 

Wellington Weather

Photo credit Stuff

Well as the song goes, What a Difference a Day Makes!

But what to do in the face of the weather.  I have been re-reading an editing my book on Surviving Grief and Loss.  I have high hopes that it will be ready to be published by March.  Also, I have been acting as a Beta reader for a couple of blogging friends and finishing reading the latest book by Louise Penny, Glass Houses.  My review will be posted on this book in a day or so.

So a productive day including finishing off Christmas wrappings.  Which brings me beautifully to Christmas carols/songs and once again I want to share my favourite with you.

 

 

And the 12 Days of Christmas New Zealand style

 

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree
On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Two kumara
And a Pukeko in a Ponga Tree
On the third day of Christmas
Three flax* kits
On the fourth day of Christmas
Four huhu* bugs (*a huhu bug is a large flying beetle)
On the fifth day of Christmas
Five –  big – fat – pigs!
On the sixth day of Christmas
Six pois* a twirling (*pois are the softballs on plaited cords used by Maori women when dancing)
On the seventh day of Christmas
Seven eels a swimming
On the eighth day of Christmas
Eight plants of puha* (*puha is dandelion leaves)
On the ninth day of Christmas
Nine sacks of pipis* (*pipis are small shellfish)
On the tenth day of Christmas
Ten juicy fish heads
On the eleventh day of Christmas
Eleven haka* lessons (*haka is a Maori ‘war’ dance)
On the twelfth day of Christmas
Twelve piupius* swinging (*piupius is a Maori flax skirt)

Original words by Kingi M. Ihaka

So that’s my day for Sunday 10 December 2017.  I’m looking forward to the sunny day promised for tomorrow.

 

Summer is Here

Sunshine

The pohutukawa is the New Zealand Christmas tree.  Maori lore has it if it blooms early in December there will be a good summer.

December 1 is the first day of Summer here in New Zealand and the sun is shining.  It has been the second dryest November on record here in Wellington and so different from last year when the rain fell and there was little or no sunshine.  The forecast is great for the rest of the summer.

But already on this first day of summer one man has drowned.  All New Zealanders love the water and water sports.  We all live within a short distance of the sea but some folks still don’t listen to the advice to wear life jackets at all times on the sea.

But let’s now think towards that special day that will be here in just 24 days.

Yesterday, when I went out to water the very dry garden I saw this lovely rose that my No4 Grandson, Jae bought me for Christmas last year.

Then I thought of the presents the boys have given me in years past when they were much younger.

This from Grandson No 1.  He was about 14 and told me that he had to buy it for me as I told them, the boys that many times.

These were made for me by Grandson No 2 in “tech-on-ology”.  He was in primary school so would have been about 9.

When the going get’s tough from Grandson No 4 when he was about 12.  He bought this without any help from his Mum.

And this little garden ornament from Grandson No 3 in such a dry part of the garden prior to the watering.

These are all special gifts that I am keeping forever along with many others.

And I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you some of the facts and fallacies surrounding Christmas as we now celebrate it.

And my son will tell you his mother is a fund of useless information and to confirm it…Did you know?

  • Decorated evergreen trees have been part of December celebrations in Europe for many centuries reminding everyone that spring is just around the corner.  The decorated Christmas tree became accepted in the UK when Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the children were depicted in the “Illustrated London News” standing around a lavishly decorated Christmas tree.
  • Christmas was cancelled in England in the 1640s when Puritan law forbade churches to open on Christmas Day and banned home decorations, celebrations, carol singing and the creating of Nativity scenes.  December 25 was declared a day of everyday work and fasting.  The outraged populace made Christmas observances in secret until the Monarchy was restored in 1660 and King Charles II restored Christmas.
  • Clement Moore’s 1823 poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was the catalyst for the reinvention of St Nicholas into the jolly, fat image of Santa we now know?
  • Also invented by Moore, Santa’s travels are invariably connected to reindeer.  In the poem they are pictured charging through a winter sky complete with strong, elaborate horns.  But in winter reindeer lose their horns so are Santa’s reindeer all female or are they castrated males?
  • Moore omitted to tell us that St Nicholas was Turkish.  He was real and was born in Patara, Turkey.  He was an early Christian and in the 4th Century he became bishop of the district of Demre where some of his bones can still be visited.  Little fact is known of him, only oral legends relating to his goodness and kindness to children.
  • Nobody knows when Jesus was born or died. For many centuries people in the northern hemisphere celebrated the winter solstice, the shortest day and the turning point in the long, often hard, cold winter.  Some 300 years after Jesus’ (guessed at) death date, Pope Julius I announced that 25th December would be the date to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  As Christianity spread around the world, this date took over the existing festivities and became “Christmas”.  The word Christmas didn’t come into being until 1032 AD.
  • Another poem, this one by Frank Baum (who wrote The Wizard of Oz) told that Santa lived in a valley called Ho Ho Ho.  American marketers quickly picked up on the poem and Ho Ho Ho became Santa brand’s catch cry.
  • The song Jingle Bells never mentions Christmas and has no connection to Christmas.  It was originally composed for America’s Thanksgiving festival in 1857.
  • And everybody’s favourite – Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”.  There have been 14 versions of this story.
  • The bible doesn’t say that three kings visited the baby Jesus but refers to “Wise men from the east”.  They may well have been astronomers (they did follow a star) or Zoroastrian priests and the fact that the three gifts, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh are mentioned is the possible basis for assuming there were three visitors.
  • And the gifts they brought.  Gold and Frankincense would be acceptable but in ancient times Myrrh was very expensive and used in embalming dead bodies and was burned at funerals to disguise the smell of bodies that hadn’t been embalmed.  Why would it be brought to a newborn child?
  • The use of X as in Xmas is not at all invalid or disrespectful.  The word Christ was never part of Jesus’ name, it is a title assigned by later worshippers in Greek meaning ‘the anointed one’.  In ancient Greece the letter chi was written with a symbol very like an X and the title assigned to Jesus was Xristos and was frequently abbreviated to just X.  So writing Christmas as Xmas has been considered acceptable for some 1000 years.  Note early publications were charged by the number of letters so using X in Xmas was encouraged.
  • Four Calling Birds in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  Originally it was four colly birds, colly being the ancient word for black (as in collier and coal) so colly birds were black birds.  As time went by colly fell out of use and didn’t make sense so people started saying four calling birds.  This doesn’t make sense either.
  • The wassail ritual was an ancient pre-Christian custom of drinking a toast to the sun after the northern mid-winter approximately 25 December and hopes for a bountiful harvest in the coming warmer months. Hence the song ‘Here we come a-wassailing’ was a gathering of friends drinking a toast.  “Waes hael” in ancient English means “Be healthy” and the usual drink was a mixture of spices, apple juice and eggs.  (Give me a G&T any time).

And from Mary Oliver

“Hello, sun in my face.
Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…
Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.” 

.

 

 

On This Day

Sunday, November 17 was a cold, foggy day in 1957.  All those years ago and I was a naive young girl sitting painting my nails and talking to my family.  Excited, yes and somewhat scared at what I was getting myself into. what I was about to do.

Wedding photo

Our wedding 1957

This was the day I was going to marry my Dashing Young Scotsman.  Oh so many years ago.

I clearly remember sitting in the car on the way to the church with my own, supportive Dad who asked me again was I sure that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with the young man waiting at the church.  He told me that there was still time to change my mind.  Of course, I was sure and no I didn’t change my mind.

And the Dashing Young Scotsman became the son my Father didn’t have.; his own son having died as a small baby.  My parents loved him as did my sisters.

So on this day 60 years ago, I married my soulmate and for the next 41 years, we celebrated the fact that we had found each other.

What a long time ago, no doubt before many of you were born, but what a glorious day it was for me.  And how glad I am that I didn’t change my mind on the way to the church.

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions,
they can take away your money,
and they can take away your health.
But no one can ever take away your precious memories.”
Judith Baxter, Blogger, Mother, Grandmother, Friend
1938-

.

Can’t Wait To Check In

Do you remember this from April 2014? I just love it.

I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

After yesterday’s serious blog I just had to post the following which was sent to me today via email.  Don’t know how true it is but it is certainly worth a good laugh.

“A friend went to Beijing recently and was given this brochure by the hotel. It is precious.
She is keeping it and reading it whenever she feels depressed.
Obviously, it has been translated directly, word for word from Mandarin to English.

Getting There:
Our representative will make you wait at the airport. The bus to the hotel runs along the lake shore. Soon you will feel pleasure in passing water. You will know that you are getting near the hotel, because you will go round the bend. The manager will await you in the entrance hall. He always tries to have intercourse with all new guests.

The Hotel:
This is a family hotel, so children are very…

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You Can Survive

On re-reading some of the articles I had published on Ezine Articles I came across this one from December 2010.  During that time I was wearing my life coach hat and most of my clients were grieving as was I.   I thought it worth reposting 7 years later just as it appeared.

******

When we lose someone we think that we will never get over the loss. We are in the depths of despair and can see no way out of it. We might fall into depression, caring little about what we eat or how we look. In some cases, if this goes on for a long time professional help will be needed.

But for most of us, with the help of family and friends and somebody who has been where you are now, we can survive. We can come through these days of despair and learn to live again albeit in a different world.

When I was first alone after 41 years of being married, I didn’t know how I would go on. I had grown up with my soul mate and was absolutely bereft at his passing.

For several weeks I wallowed in my misery but then I realised that he would not wish that for me. We had talked in a general manner of what to do if one or other of us died. But obviously, these talks were very general and didn’t touch on the actual day-to-day living alone.

I went through all the stages of grief. Resentment, anger and frustration that this should have happened to me (note the me inserted there when in fact it had happened to him); I then became immobilized and couldn’t think, I was fearful and wanted to hide. My family and friends were great support to me through these trying times. How lucky I was to have them.

Then I went through the blocking mechanisms stage. Some people employ alcohol, drugs, sex, excessive spending for me I turned to work. I worked all hours so as not to have time to think of what had happened. I fell into bed every night absolutely exhausted. Of course, much of this was nervous exhaustion.

After a length of time and with the help of friends and family again, finally I could recognise how lucky I was to have had the years with my love, to acknowledge and accept that this awful thing had happened and that I was strong enough to move on with my life.

There is no defined time for ‘a length of time’. It may be weeks, months or in some cases, years after the actual loss. And accepting in no way minimises your feelings of grief and loss. You can go on grieving (as I did) long after you accept the fact that this has happened and now you have to live the rest of your life without that special someone.

If you are suffering through loss and grief I empathise with you. I have been there. When I was first alone I was fortunate in having close friends and supportive family to help me acknowledge and cope with my devastating loss.

Now there is a program to help you do just that.Brittany Watkins has been where you are and will guide you step by step through the healing process.

This amazing program is called Move from Grief to Joy [http://www.griefandlosssupport.com]. It is full of ways to help you move through the stages of grief and live a normal, interactive life again. With this program [http://www.griefandlosssupport.com] grief becomes manageable and you can survive.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Judith_Baxter/221670

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/5595313

Gallery

The scale of the tragedy

Originally posted on Heavenhappens:
26 foot Knife angel made of surrendered knives We hear awful things about gun crime in the USA, which is really worrying.  In the UK we don’t have gun crime on the same scale because we…

Night Train to Lisbon

 

Thanks to AMK Lakelett, one of the authors I follow I was reminded of this movie.  Have you seen it?  It is based on the book of the same name by Pascal Mercier, a Swiss writer, and philosopher.  Pascal Mercier is the pseudonym of Peter Bieri, who studied philosophy, English studies and Indian studies in both London and Heidelberg.

Raimund Gregorius (Jeremy Irons) is a stuffy academic teaching Latin at a college in Bern.  One day, on the way to work, he stops a young woman from jumping off a bridge.  He takes her with him to the college but she runs off leaving her coat and a book with a ticket for the train to Lisbon.

Leaving everything behind, yes everything, he rushes to the station and when he can’t find the young woman, he takes the night train to Lisbon.  He becomes entranced by the book she was carrying.  Amadeu de Prado, the (fictional) author is a Portuguese essayist and doctor. Through the writings, in the book the author explores the ideas of friendship, love, loneliness, and death.  Gregorius becomes determined to track down the author or at least find out about him and his life.

His investigations take him to the doctor’s home where he meets the sister (Charlotte Rampling), who acts as if the author is still alive.  His further investigations then lead him all over Lisbon as he meets with his teacher and friends, and those who were involved in the author’s life both as revolutionaries and in his professional life.

Through Mariana (Martina Gedeck), a friendly optician who assures Raimund that he is not boring, he meets her aged Uncle Joao (Tom Courtenay), another member of the resistance who rebelled against Salazar’s dictatorship. Prado is quoted” ‘When dictatorship is a factrevolution is a duty”.’

This is a fascinating film, showing what can happen when one man walks away from all that he has known, to pursue a whim. The film was not greeted with much acclaim by reviewers, but I enjoyed it and am now off to get a copy of the book from the library.