Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Lace

A fresh snow is falling this morning. Just in time for a lovely white Christmas.

A Christmas gift of lace and new family calenders came to my door from Mom. 

Table Lace

Mom crocheted this lace over 25 years ago. The note in the package said, "I don't use this anymore." Imagine my delight! 

Frances is home. Can you tell? Here is my newest elephant from Thailand. This one is teak. It feels wonderfully smooth and elegant cupped in one's hand.

Have a nice Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mennonites and Movies

You can pass this off as just another one of stonehousescribblings’ little rants or not as you wish. I am not writing this to impress you with anything about me. I am just attempting, from my own small and sheltered world view, to blow the whistle on something that I happen to think is important.
Les Miserables and The Hobbit both hit the theatres this month. It is a Christmas traditions to have new  movies or shows come out this time of year. I haven’t seen either of these shows, to be perfectly honest. I heard some of the buzz about them and ran into previews or reviews of them. Why would I notice or be interested?
Actually, I am not interested. Initially, when I would hear about the new movie or show coming out; I would be mildly curious because I like literature and don’t like to miss out on something worthwhile.  But in listening well and looking into this stuff I find mine fields and pit falls galore.
I am worried sick about the values taught or presented in movies to our not-quite-so-sheltered children today.  Why is it now ok to view violence, immodesty, immorality, rebellion, and the occult? And the  standard answer, “Oh, yeah we had to skip over that part.” Really! Do we Mennonite parents really know what our children are watching? The proof of this watching will be in tomorrow’s pudding.
We don’t need to use movies to be informed or well adjusted people in our world.  Some of us made it all the way to responsible, mature adulthood without them. And I would like to have done that again for our children. Since it’s too late for that, I just want to say here that there are a few parents left out here who are unashamedly creating some lines in the sand and providing some push-back about movie selections.
So, Les Miserables has a great story line. If to know that particular good story line is important to you; I’d recommend reading the book, although I believe it will be a bit of wading and maybe even through a slough now and then, at that. As far as Tolkien’s yarn goes, you can read that, too; although you might find it dark, wearisome and somewhat boring. Better yet, read something to “grow your soul”, this Christmas, aloud to the family around the hearth and skip movie night altogether. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Short Days

      They say that time flies when you’re having fun. We ARE enjoying these short winter days. I looked it up and verified that in Northern Wisconsin we are having our shortest days. About 8 1/2 hours a day from actual sunrise to sunset. So morning coffee is by lamplight and the soft glow of Christmas lights and evening supper with the whole house lit like a hotel and  fires on deep coals in the stoves.
                                              Counting Our Blessings
1. The big pile of firewood. Three hungry stoves, too.
2. Plenty to eat. “There’s more down cellar in a teacup.” – Pa Ingalls ( I always wonder what he meant, exactly.)
3. Projects. For Christmas and for occupation.
4. Work. The men pull on warm togs, grab lunches and phones heading off to work before daylight and returning dirty and hungry after dark. But they're contented and happy to do it... every day. 
5. Beauty. Of snow, and winter scenery, and indoor comforts.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Songs For You

      Christmas music and song is everywhere.  I listened in on VCY for a few minutes in the car yesterday. That’s about how long I can last on VCY America, but that is beside the point here. VCY carols run along the same lines as our Mennonite Christmas songs: carols with lyrics telling the story of Jesus birth and Salvation to a sinful world. This is what a good carol ought to do. Back in the day, at church, we sang the Christmas songs from the Christian Hymnal.  There are about six or ten of them.  Joy to the World, Silent Night, Hark, the Harold Angels Sing, To Us a Child of Hope is Born, Oh, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, and Room for Thee are the songs we sang over and over at church for all the 20 years I attended, come Christmastime.  At school we learned “new” Christmas songs, if we had an ambitious teacher; thus we learned: Silver Star, From Lands of the East, Drummer Boy, Fear Not Oh Ye Shepherds, and other children’s songs for Christmas. Little did I know that ours was a rather narrow repertoire of Christmas songs. 
     Then we attended Bible School. There we had a large group of young people who loved to sing together, so we tackled O Holy Night, and the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Handel would have turned over in his grave at our rendition; but we loved it. It took a whole five minutes for us to get through it because Urie or was it, Dan, could NOT get us to speed it up. But guess what, when it is sung anywhere now; I can still sing along.                                                  
     Then there is Schubert's Ave Maria thing.  It has to be a Catholic favorite of all Christmas music. And people have been conditioned to thinking it belongs in the list. Frankly, I have my doubts. The lyrics are in Latin and have little meaning to most ordinary folks. That’s just my opinion. Another list of songs for Christmas include War Is Over, and I’ll Be Home For Christmas. These songs are sentimental songs surrounding the holiday more than the real meaning of Christmas. I still enjoy hearing them, now and then, because they are reminders of  Peace and Goodwill.  And of family gathering traditions. Then there are the songs like Do You Hear What I Hear and  Welcome To Our World that retell the same old story  from a more modern perspective. If you are singing Rockin Around the Christmas Tree, and Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, you have totally missed the point. Listen again to the lyrics of the carols this year. 

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