Saturday, 22 December 2007

12 Christmas Myths: Fact or Fiction?

12 Christmas Myths: Fact or Fiction?

Do You Know These 12 Christmas Myths?

Every holiday has its myths, but Christmas seems to have more than its fair share. Urban legends and old wives tales abound during this holiday season. Think you know fact from fiction? Here's the scoop on some of the most popular Christmas myths.

1. The Poisonous Poinsettia

Are poinsettia plants really dangerous for homes with children and pets? Nope. The rumor has been a conspiracy started by someone who didn't want to spend money on the school's poinsettia fund raiser.

As proven by recent studies, poinsettia plants are non-toxic. If you have pets, go ahead and put those poinsettias out. You've been sacrificing the beauty of these plants in vain.

2. Does the World Mistletoe Really Mean "Dung on a Twig"?

For those who are still 7-years-old at heart, go ahead and laugh it up. Every time someone says "mistletoe" they are indeed saying "dung on a stick". The word is derived from an Anglo-Saxon phrase and that is indeed the meaning.

3. Do Candy Canes

Really Represent The Blood and Purity of Christ?

Nope. This is another of those "wish they were true" Christmas myths, but it's not a fact. The reality is that candy canes were just a mindless sugary treat. They weren't even red and white initially. If you like candy canes go ahead and indulge but if you've been decorating with them because you thought they had a deeper religious meaning, you've been misled.

4. Is the "X" in X-mas an atheist attempt to take Christ out of the holiday?

Nope. No conspiracy here. The "X" in X-mas actually stands for Christ. In Greek, the word Christ begins with the Greek letter Chi (or "X"). For centuries the letter X has been an abbreviation for Jesus Christ.

5. Is Rudolph a Montgomery Ward Creation?

Say it ain't so! Is our beloved childhood friend nothing more than a commercial creation? Unfortunately the answer is yes. Rudolph was indeed created for Montgomery Ward department stores in 1939. However, the lovable reindeer took on a life of its own and now the story is a wholehearted Christmas tradition.

So there you have it -- the facts on five of the most common Christmas myths. How many did you have right? If you're wondering about the fact or fiction of any other Christmas myths you've heard, drop me a line. I love to dig into them.

6. The Tradition of the Christmas Nativity

Who Put Up The First Christmas Nativity?

It just doesn't feel like Christmas until you see the Christmas nativity displays lighting up front yards, churches and businesses. But when was the first Christmas nativity scene set up? Whose idea was it? When did it become a Christmas tradition? The answers may surprise you.

The First Christmas Nativity

The Christmas nativity wasn't always a Christian tradition. It's not like people were pantomiming Christ's birth immediately following the resurrection. So when did it really begin?

The first Christmas nativity was actually arranged by Saint Francis of Assisi. Of course Saint Francis used real people to depict the famous scene, not lighted plastic figures. But why exactly did Saint Francis begin this holiday tradition?

Spreading the Word

While many of us take for granted the fact that we can pick up the Bible and read about the birth of Christ, back in the day of Saint Francis not everyone could read and not everyone had access to a Bible.

What better way to spread the joy of Christ's birth than by "showing" the story to those who couldn't read about it. And so the first Christmas nativity was born.

What Did the First Christmas Nativity Look Like?

The Christmas nativity set up by Saint Francis looked much different than the nativities we see today. First and foremost, real people were used -- not statues. There were real animals too and a life-sized wax figure of the Christ child.

The popularity of the Christmas nativity grew and people starting displaying them at home. Wealthy families would even commission sculptors to create their very own nativity scenes.

Flash Forward

In today's day and age, you don't have to be wealthy to have your own Christmas nativity. Even the local Wal-Mart sells nativity decorations. What has changed, however, is the way Christmas nativities are viewed.

In America, where freedom of religion is supposed to ring true, it appears that the rule only applies to those who are not Christian. The Christmas nativity is under attack and there are those who don't want them displayed in public places.

My opinion? This is the Christmas season. Let's remember what the holiday is truly about and let the Christmas nativity scenes continue to be a wonderful Christmas tradition.

7. Who Started The Christmas Cards Tradition?

Why We Send Christmas Cards During the Holiday Season

This year while you're preparing all of the Christmas cards that will be going out to friends and family you may take a moment to wonder why you do it and who started it all. After all, it's not like the apostles took it upon themselves to send each other greeting cards to remember the birthday of Jesus. Hey, Hallmark didn't even exist back then! So how did Christmas cards become a part of this Christian holiday? Here's where it all began...

Let's Travel Back in Time

Let's go back in time to 1840s Britain. The first postal deliveries were being sent thanks to the brand new “Penny Post” that had been set up.

Now that the Penny Post enabled people to send Christmas greetings to one another it became customary to do so. However, many people found it tedious and time consuming to hand write all of their Christmas letters. In 1843, the first Christmas card was commissioned.

Christmas Cards Come to America

For about 30 years, Americans had to import their Christmas cards from Britain. It wasn't until 1875 that the first Christmas cards would be printed in the United States.

And the Christmas cards sent back then really didn't mirror today's popular cards at all. The Christmas cards of yesteryear tended to depict flowers and faeries. It wasn't until later years that Christmas cards took on a “holiday theme”.

And the Evolution Continues...

What the Penny Post did for Christmas cards back in the mid 1800s, the Internet is doing today. The way we greet one another at Christmas is changing once again. Thanks to the wider acceptance of “e-cards” all it takes is the click of the mouse to send your friends and family Christmas greetings. Who knows what tomorrow brings...

7.
How Did The Tradition of Christmas Stockings Begin?

The Story of The First Christmas Stockings

Each and every Christmas most of us hang stockings on the mantles of our fireplaces (or other places in the home if fireplace isn't present) and wait for the goodies to appear on Christmas morning. But when did this tradition begin? What do stockings and fireplaces have to do with the birth of Christ? Here's some insight into why we hang Christmas stockings during the holiday season.

It All Started With a Foolish Act...

It's harsh, but true. The tradition of our Christmas stockings actually started with a man who squandered his fortune away. Some say it was due to depression after his wife's death. Nevertheless, he left his three daughters penniless and without a dowry.

Because these three women had no dowry, they would be unable to marry. After all, in those days a man didn't usually marry a women without a dowry attached.

One night, as the sisters had left their socks by the fireplace to dry, St. Nicholas rode by the girls' home on his horse, saw the stockings hanging and flung gold coins down the chimney. The coins landed in the girls' stockings, becoming the very first stocking stuffers.

Today's Christmas Stockings

Today's Christmas stockings are still hung by a fireplace, but they're rarely filled with gold coins. Little trinkets and small gifts are placed into the stockings and children rush to see what's been left on Christmas morning.

And while the original Christmas stockings may indeed have been wet socks drying over a fire, the Christmas stockings of modern times are much more elaborate. There are stockings in all shapes, colors, sizes and materials.

There is one thing I wonder... What would those three daughters of yesteryear have thought of the Christmas stockings of today?

8. Christmas Tree Facts You Probably Didn't Know

A Few Christmas Tree Facts

Most of us put up the Christmas tree each and every holiday -- mostly for tradition's sake. After all, it doesn't feel like Christmas until the tree goes up. But do you know much about the history of Christmas trees? Here are some interesting facts...

The First Christmas Tree

Well, the actual origins of the first Christmas tree have always been the topic of hot debate. Some say they are pagan in origin, others insist they are not. However, the first decorated Christian Christmas tree dates back to 1510.

The first Christmas trees weren't decorated with lights and glass ornaments, as we decorate our trees today. These trees adorned simple decorations made of paper and fruits. So where did the lights come from? In the 18th century people began hanging candles on their trees. With the advent of electricity Christmas lights were introduced and because they were safer, they quickly replaced the candle tradition.

The First Christmas Tree Lots

Think the tradition of going to the Christmas tree lot to pick out a tree is a recent one? Guess again! Christmas tree lots have been around almost as long as Christmas trees have. The first Christmas tree lot dates back to 1531 in Germany.

The First White House Tree

Each year many of us ooh and ahh over the White House Christmas tree. When did the tradition start? Back in 1856 and the first lighting ceremony was introduced in 1923.

So there you have it, some Christmas tree facts to remind us that Christmas trees aren't just something to make the season brighter. They are a long-standing tradition that add culture to our Christmas experience. This year as you're shopping for Christmas trees at the Christmas tree lot remember just how long ago the tradition was started.

9. Something You Probably Never Knew About The 12 Days of Christmas

Just Who Is the “True Love” In the 12 Days of Christmas ?

We all know that The 12 Days of Christmas is a song we sing during the holiday season, but what in the world does it really have to do with the holiday? How can someone's “true love” and a partridge in a pear tree really have anything to do with the date of Christ's birth? Here's the scoop...

Love Isn't Always Romantic

True love is never romantic love. True love is agape love and agape love is defined as an unconditional love for everything. Unconditional -- as in the person would die for you, regardless of what you did to that person. Getting to see the picture?

A Dangerous Time

The period of time when The 12 Days of Christmas was written was dangerous for believers. They were being persecuted and executed in many parts of the world. The 12 Days of Christmas is a way they could celebrate in code. After all, who would think twice about a children's song about love, birds, lords and maids?

The Symbolism

So just what does the symbolism mean in The 12 Days of Christmas? First is the “true love”. We've already figured that one out. The true love is God. But what about the other symbols?

There is much debate about what the other symbols mean, but a few that many agree on are the partridge (which would represent Christ), the four calling birds (which represent the four gospels of the bible) and the seven swans are the Sacraments of the Holy Spirit.

Speaking of Debate

Speaking of debate, while some disagree on what the symbols mean, others disagree the song is a Christmas “code” at all. But isn't that the way it is with all religion? Some people having faith and others dismissing or trying to disprove it?

Is The 12 Days of Christmas really a code? I'd like to think so. Just as the fish in the sand. What do you think?

10. The History Behind The Dazzle of Christmas Lights

Why Do We Put Up Christmas Lights During the Holiday Season?

It's that time of year again and we figured what better way to kick off the 2007 season of Christmas Lore than with the history behind those Christmas lights we'll all be hanging up soon. After all, we enjoy the beauty of this time of year. Why not get t the bottom of why the houses in our neighborhoods sparkle? Here's the scoop...

All That Glitters...

It turns out that Christmas lights date back to the 17th century (and maybe even before that period). Sure, there wasn't electricity back then, but they did have candles. Wealthy celebrants would place candles on their Christmas trees. Then, in 1882, electric Christmas lights were introduced and Christmas was never the same (in a good way, of course).

The Transition

It seems to be human nature that once we get a good thing, we can't get enough of it. People were so pleased with electric Christmas lights that they began looking for more ways to use them. Hence, the evolution of Christmas lights from a “tree only” decoration to a house-wide decoration.

Nowadays, Christmas lights are nothing like the lights of yesteryear. You can get them in all colors, shapes and sizes. There are icicle lights for your gutters, net lights for your bushes – even lights wrapped around wire to make decorative Christmas light figures.

Of course, if you're the more traditional type you can get the plain white Christmas lights of years gone by. There are so many Christmas lights to choose from now, there's certainly something for everyone.

This year when you hang your Christmas lights, think about how lucky you are. Imagine if they hadn't yet been invited and they were each individual candles you had to arrange.

Excerpted from Christmas Lore

Can you believe the lady's name is actually Laura Legend? Well is is!

Common Christmas Myths

Common Christmas Myths

There are so many "ideas" about Christmas which are untrue. We have made myths out of the facts!

For example how many wings do angels have?

If you thought, 2, you are wrong!

Read Luke and see. Nowhere does it mention wings even once!

They were wingless!

-More to come but these were taken from a Christmas site listed at bottom

Some Christmas Facts About Common Christmas Myths
Getting To the Bottom of Christmas Facts and Christmas Myths

If you celebrate Christmas you probably know the basics of the facts. Jesus lived, died and rose again to save us all. However, the way we celebrate Christmas and what we assume are Christmas facts may actually be nothing more than Christmas Myths. Wondering what's true and what's not? Here's the truth about some common Christmas myths.
Christ Was Born On December 25th

If you think we celebrate Christmas on Christ's birthday, you might want to think again. While Christmas day is indeed the celebration of Christ's birth (and I know many who actually bake Him a birthday cake) it's not really His birthday.

Christ was not born on the 25th of December as many people believe. What day was He born? That, my friends, is a question of much debate. Some say He was indeed born in December. Others insist it was June. No one really knows for sure, but December 25th is the day we celebrate His birth in the absence of a record of the true birth date.
The Christmas Tree is a Christian Tradition

Actually, the Christmas tree was a pagan tradition before it became a Christian tradition. On the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, the Druids would decorate a Christmas tree during a celebration. This was to honor the Sacred Grove of Trees that were worshiped by the Celtic priesthood.

Eventually, to win pagans over to the religion of Christianity, the decorating of a “Christmas Tree” was incorporated into the Christian tradition. Hence, the reason we decorate Christmas trees each and every Christmas season.
Santa is Fat and Jolly

The Santa Claus we know today is nothing like the man who actually existed. Santa Claus was a holy man. He did not believe in excess so obesity and fur-trimmed clothing probably wasn't par for the course. In fact, early depictions of Saint Nick show him as a thin man (though he does indeed have a beard) in the robes of the church.
The Sad Part

Okay, so here we've discussed three Christmas myths that aren't founded in fact. The sad thing is that some uneducated individuals try to tell others that none of Christianity can be trusted because of these myths.

What's my answer to that? These myths were created by man. Not the Bible. The Bible doesn't talk about decorating a tree, a man who rides in a sleigh or a December 25th birthday. The Bible, and Christianity as a whole, cannot be disclaimed because of these Christmas myths. To think otherwise, my friends, is to fall for ignorance.

from ChristmasLore.com http://www.christmaslore.com/some_christmas_facts_about_common_christmas_myths.html

Merry Christmas with a Capital "C"

Good point! I love it! -cp

Friday, 21 December 2007

Third Day - I want to feel Christmas Like A Child

Third Day - I want to feel Christmas Like A Child

The Light of the World - Saves Energy!

Charles and Wally hope you like your Christmas card!

Did you enjoy this Christmas card video with Third Day singing and the beautiful light show!

Seaway Mall, Welland, ON Shoppers Get Surprise "Flash Mob"

TranSiberian Orchestra in Buffalo Dec. 27, 2011 !!!

Dino Direct Free Shipping!

Find the favorable goods from Dinodirect

Celine Dion - O Holy Night

Who Am I - Casting Crowns

Do YOU Know Who You Are?

A beautiful light-dance against black background with the music of Casting Crowns

Carol of the Bells - Trans-Siberian vs Mannheim Steamroller

It's okay to like one or the other! Personally I love them both!

It's Your Birthday

Christmas Stories: 'Ansel's Special Gift'

Christmas Stories: 'Ansel's Special Gift'

by Larry E. Scott

Christmas Stories: 'Ansel's Special Gift'

What's the most meaningful gift you've ever given someone? The poignant Christmas story "Ansel's Special Gift" addresses this very question. It shows the joy that can derived from giving gifts to others and how these gifts can remind us of what's truly important in life. Read "Ansel's Special Gift" and see how it relates to your own Christmas experiences.

"Ansel's Special Gift"

Ansel Nordquist steadied himself against the cold night wind. Tightly gripping his gold-knobbed cane, he stared at the bright and lovely things in the Saks Fifth Avenue window. "What to get?" he asked himself. He needed to buy only one present, but it had to be perfect. Perfect. Just right. And time was running out.

Snowflakes, thick and fluffy, tumbled through the air. In the street beside him, a dapple-gray horse with steaming breath pulled a carriage of young lovers beneath the stars and twinkling Christmas lights.

Busy shoppers scurried by, feet crunching in the new-fallen snow. Faintly, he heard the ting...ting...ting of The Salvation Army bell. The air was heavy with freshly cut pine mixed with the smell of hot popcorn from the street vendor's cart.

A gleeful toddler squealed, "Hurry, Mommy! Come on! Come on!" He tugged hard at his mother's skirt, pulling her from the boring windows filled with gowns and jewels and furs to the exciting windows, down the street, loaded with wondrous toys.

Ansel's Special Gift is one of our beloved Christmas stories.
©Publications International, Ltd.
Ansel turned cautiously, steadied by his cane, and shuffled toward the next Saks window, wondering what beautiful things it would hold. His cashmere coat and white silk scarf kept him warm against the chill. Nevertheless, the bitter wind brought tears to his eyes. Or was it the wind? Perhaps, instead, it was the season.

Window after window, Ansel passed. Each was filled with different things that, at various times in his life, he had bought. The diamond ring. The wedding band. The casual and the elegant clothes. The maternity wear and the baby things. The toys. Oh, yes, the toys. Especially the ones that came in pieces and had to be assembled.

How she'd laugh and how he'd curse, trying to put the toys together. She'd bring him coffee. They'd sit and talk of Christmases past. She'd drink the milk and eat the cookies the children had left for Santa. Then, when all the work was done, they'd sit on the floor in front of the fire and pray to the child who had changed the world. They'd pray to the Prince of Peace. They'd kiss. They'd hold each other close. They'd feel the fear of all the world and the safety of each other. Yes, these were the times when they knew love best. These were the fullest of years.

A smile crept across Ansel's face. "Wonderful, wonderful times," he thought. "But my gift...I must find my gift."

Ansel turned from Saks and walked down the street. Past the haberdashery. Past the bakery. Past the laughter-filled cafe. He came to a stop at the toy store window. He watched the circling electric train running through mountains and villages. The sailboats. Airplanes with gas engines. Mesmerized, he watched them all, losing himself in the ghosts of the past and their hollow, faraway laughter.

Then a shiver ran down his spine. Despite his hat and gloves and coat, Ansel was growing cold. He was growing tired. But nothing...nothing could he find. He could not find his treasured gift.

Then he saw it! There it was! Tucked in the corner. High on a shelf. Up behind the expensive toys. Yes! There it was. The perfect gift. The most perfect gift of all.

Ansel entered the shop and purchased the gift, requesting that it be nicely wrapped. Then he walked back to the street and hailed a cab.

"Where to?" the cabby asked.

"St. Elizabeth's Hospital," Ansel replied.

Go to the next page to find out how "Ansel's Special Gift" ends.

Christmas Stories: 'Ansel's Special Gift,' Part II

Here is the second and final part of "Ansel's Special Gift":

Upon arriving at the hospital, Ansel paid the driver, tipping him nicely. Each wished the other a Merry Christmas. Ansel shuffled through the lobby to the elevator, taking it to the fourth floor -- to Sarah's room.

Once inside, Ansel removed his hat, gloves, and coat. He pulled the chair close to Sarah. He took her hand and gently stroked it.

"Hello, Sarah," he said, not expecting an answer....None came.

Ansel gazed at her beauty. The rest of the world saw her 80-year-old wrinkles, frail white hair, and swollen, gnarled, arthritic joints. But not Ansel. Oh, with his eyes he saw those things, but not with his heart.

What Ansel saw was a woman who had devoted her life to him. She was a young woman high on a ladder, giggling, with paint in her hair. A woman on the sidewalk in front of their house playing hopscotch with the neighborhood kids. A woman with skin like farm-fresh cream -- ripe, round, and aglow with child.

His heart heard her soft lullabies rocking their children to sleep. It heard her laughter as she ran with them on the lawn, jumping into piles of bright autumn leaves.

His heart smelled her scent mixed with salt air when, standing on ships' decks, they'd seen the world with lovers' eyes. And he felt the comfort of awakening in her arms each day.

Yes. This was the Sarah that Ansel's heart saw. Not the Sarah connected to life by various wires and tubes.

"It's Christmas Eve, Sarah," Ansel said softly. "I brought you a gift. Would you like to open it now or save it for tomorrow?"

Knowing that Sarah couldn't answer, Ansel reached for the gift and placed it on the bed beside her. "OK. We'll open it now. See the beautiful ribbon, Sarah? And the paper? Red. Your favorite. I picked it out especially for you. And I watched to make sure they wrapped it right. Just for you."

With aged, trembling fingers, Ansel unwrapped the gift. While doing so, he journeyed back through time....

"The cow's gone dry, Ma!" Ansel hollered, walking through the door.

"What'll we do, Pa?" Sarah yelled back, busy in the kitchen.

"Shoot her an' have her for dinner, I guess."

"OK, Pa. Best git out an' shoot her."

This was their greeting each night when Ansel came home from work. How it began, they couldn't remember. Just silliness. Just being young. It certainly had nothing to do with them. They didn't live on a farm. They lived in the city. And Ansel couldn't milk a cow. He was an attorney. All they knew was that it was fun. It was theirs and no one else's. It was their special way of saying, "I love you. Good to be home."

Ansel pulled the last of the wrapping from the box. "Here it is, Sarah. It's all unwrapped. Here...give me your hands." Ansel drew her hands toward him so that Sarah could hold the gift. Then he placed it in her palms. It was a small, fuzzy stuffed toy -- a brown and white cow that mooed when squeezed. The cow lay in Sarah's limp hands. Ansel reached and squeezed the cow. "Moo...moo..."

In the silence, Ansel heard a sound--quiet, soft, muffled. Looking from the toy to her face, he saw Sarah's eyes -- open, distant, glassy. Her lips moved slightly. Ansel rose from his chair, standing in disbelief. Months -- months it had been -- since Sarah had stirred.

Gently, afraid of breaking the spell, Ansel leaned toward Sarah, turning his ear to her lips. "What, my dear? What did you say?"

Quiet as wind-driven snow, Sarah whispered, "What'll we do, Pa?"

Never had Ansel felt such joy! These few words from Sarah's lips! What a gift! What a gift! Never had there been such a wonderful gift! Tears welled in Ansel's eyes, falling on Sarah's cheek. Our words! Our special words! he thought, then chokingly replied, "Shoot her an' have her for dinner, I guess."

Into the night, this holy night, Ansel waited for Sarah's response....

But Sarah lay silent. She held her cow. She sailed into the great beyond....

Trans-Siberian Orchestra with Worship Dance - Larger Screen

A Christmas Miracle

Christmas Stories: 'A Christmas Miracle'

Like many Christmas stories, "A Christmas Miracle" focuses on the importance of giving. In this tale, a young girl, Rose, dreams of a Christmas morning filled with extravagant gifts. It's a dream that has no chance of coming true because her family is poor. Ultimately, though, Rose's family's act of kindness to a stranger produces a Christmas miracle. To find out what this miracle is, keep reading. Perhaps "A Christmas Miracle" will enhance your own Christmas spirit.

"A Christmas Miracle"

Rose rubbed the sleeve of her nightgown against the frosty glass and peered out into the night sky. The moon peeked over the mountain behind the little cabin.

Rose searched the sky. She needed to find a shooting star. Christmas was only three days away, and she had to make a wish.

"Rose McKenzie, stop your daydreaming," Mama said. She pulled the curtain shut and kissed the top of Rose's head. "It's time for bed."

Rose scrubbed her face and hands in the washbasin and ran a brush through her tangled hair. Her brothers, James and Henry, were settling down on their mattresses near the fire. Baby Bonnie was already fast asleep in her little bed -- a drawer lined with soft blankets that rested on the chair beside her parents' bed.

'A Christmas Miracle' is part of this collection of Christmas stories.

Rose leaned over to kiss the baby good-night. Then she kissed Mama and Papa, blew out the lantern, and crawled into the little fold-up bed next to the window that she shared with her sister, Sarah.

Rose tugged the covers to her chin. The fire in the fireplace hissed and popped. Papa's snores rattled through the cabin. Outside, the wind rustled through the trees.

And Rose thought she would never fall asleep. It was too close to Christmas, too close to the most wonderful day of the year, and too close to the morning when her family would open small homemade gifts again.

Rose looked out the window again. She remembered how Mama had stared at the lacy green dress in the window of Mr. Pranger's store when they drove into town. Rose wanted to give her mama that dress.

She closed her eyes and could see Mama opening it on Christmas morning.

There was Mama, laughing out loud in surprise. The green lace dress matched Mama's sparkling green eyes.

Then Papa opened his gift -- a shiny black pipe. Not a homemade one, whittled from a hickory branch. A brand-new pipe ordered from a catalog and shipped all the way from New York City.

Bonnie's gift was a crib, carved and painted, and the boys got new wool coats. In Sarah's gift was a note that said, "Look outside." Sarah pulled open the door, and there stood a dapple gray pony with a big red ribbon around his neck.

"They got just what they wanted," Rose murmured.

She opened her eyes. Sunlight streamed into the cabin.

Rose shook her head. "It was only a dream," Rose said, as she smiled. "But what a wonderful dream. I wish it could come true."

After breakfast, Rose helped her mother wash dishes. "Mama," she said. "If you could have anything for Christmas, anything at all, what would you wish for?"

Mama smiled and set the clean plates in the cupboard. "I already have everything I could want -- you, your brothers and sisters, and your father, all in good health."

"I know, but I mean something extra," Rose said, as she squeezed out the dish towel. "Something wrapped in a box that you could open on Christmas morning. What would it be?"

"Well, it would be a mighty funny-looking box," said Mama. "But if I could have something extra, I'd wish for a Christmas tree, tall and full, with so many decorations you could hardly see the branches. And a big, plump turkey I could roast with dressing and potatoes." She leaned against the cupboard and smiled. "And when it was done, we would sit down at the table next to our Christmas tree, and eat the finest Christmas dinner any of us have ever tasted." She closed her eyes. "I can almost taste it now."

"And a new dress?" asked Rose. "Would you like a new dress?"

"Yes," Mama nodded. "A new dress." Then she shook her head. "But there's no sense wishing for something you can't have."

Papa chuckled. "Looks like Rose isn't the only dreamer in the family." He reached for his rifle. "I can't promise you a turkey, but maybe I can find a fat goose for our Christmas dinner."
He pulled on his coat and headed toward the woods.

Rose waited for Papa all morning. While she swept the cabin, peeled potatoes, and mended her stockings, she kept peeking out the window to see if Papa would bring home a goose.

Finally, just before noon, Papa tramped out of the woods carrying a gunnysack over his shoulder. Rose threw down her mending and burst out the door.

"Papa, you did it!" she cried. "We'll have roast goose for Christmas after all."

Papa laughed. "Not quite, missy." He opened the sack. "I didn't see any geese, but I did bring home a pheasant big enough to feed seven hungry McKenzies."

Papa hung the pheasant under the eaves outside the cabin. Its russet and green feathers gleamed in the sunlight.

"I'll need to clean it," Papa said. He blew on his hands and rubbed them together. "First I need to go inside and warm up. Is that your mama's potato soup I smell?"

Rose followed Papa inside and helped Mama ladle out seven bowls of soup.

While they ate, Rose tried to watch the pheasant. But every time she glanced out the window, Papa said, "Eat your soup."

After lunch, Rose ran to the window and shouted, "Oh, no! Papa, look. He's eating our Christmas dinner!"

Go to the next page to find out how "A Christmas Miracle" ends.

Christmas Stories: 'A Christmas Miracle,' Part II

Here's the conclusion of "A Christmas Miracle":

Rose pointed at a bear that had wandered into the yard and pulled the pheasant down from the eaves.

Papa flung open the door. The bear ran off into the woods. All that remained were a few russet feathers lying in the grass.

The next day was Christmas Eve. After breakfast, Papa, Henry, and James pulled on their boots and coats and set out for the woods.

"Don't worry," Papa said. "We'll have a fine Christmas dinner yet."

Rose waited by the window. Sarah came and sat down beside her. The sun rose high in the sky. Finally Papa and the boys hiked out of the woods. James carried a gunnysack over his shoulder. Rose and Sarah rushed to the door, and Rose flung it open.

"Did you get another pheasant?" Rose asked.

"Is it as big as the first one?" asked Sarah.

"Not a pheasant," said Papa, "and not as big."


James opened the sack and pulled out a small quail. "Birds just aren't that plentiful this time of year," said Papa. "But we won't leave this one under the eaves." He laughed and said, "That pesky bear can catch his own Christmas dinner." Papa and the boys cleaned the quail right away and brought it into the house.

Rose stared at the little bird. "But this can't be our dinner," she said. "It's barely enough to feed Bonnie."

"Nonsense," said Mama. Then she kissed Papa on the cheek. "It's exactly enough. Rose, you can help me peel potatoes, carrots, and onions for quail soup. And Sarah, you can help me bake loaves of bread. Then you can both take turns churning fresh butter. This will be the finest meal we've eaten in months."

Like most Christmas stories,

Mama pulled her big soup kettle from the cupboard and put it on the stove.

The quail soup simmered, and the bread dough baked into crusty brown loaves. Savory aromas filled the cabin. Rose and Sarah churned butter until they were sure their arms would fall off.

Finally, as the sun sank over the mountaintop, Mama said, "Help me set the table, Henry. Dinner's ready."

Sarah and James scrambled to their chairs. Rose placed the bread in the center of the table, and Henry set out bowls and spoons. Mama carried the hot soup over from the stove, and Papa held Bonnie in his arms. Then they all bowed their heads to give thanks.

Tap. Tap. Rose looked up. Someone was knocking at the cabin door.

Mama frowned at Papa and said, "Who would be visiting way out here at this time of night?"

Tap. Tap. Papa opened the door. A stranger stood on the step. His eyelids sagged with weariness.
The stranger's voice quivered. "Could you shelter a hungry traveler from the cold?"

"Of course," Papa said. He opened the door for the stranger. "You're just in time for dinner. We don't have much, but you are welcome to share what we have."

"Bless you," said the stranger. "Merry Christmas."

Mama set an extra place at the table and began ladling out the soup. When she finished filling the eighth bowl -- the stranger's bowl -- the soup kettle was empty. "Look at that," Mama said. She set the bowl in front of the stranger. "We have just enough."

After dinner, the stranger helped clear the table, then sat in a chair by the fire.

"Where did you come from?" Sarah asked him.

The man chuckled. "I've traveled for so long, it's hard to say just where I'm from. I've been to the Great Lakes and to New York City and to the White House. I've even met Abraham Lincoln himself."
Henry's eyes grew wide. "Abraham Lincoln!" he exclaimed.

The stranger nodded. "Twice. I plan to keep traveling and meeting good folks like yourselves. I want to see the ocean someday, and the Grand Canyon."

"And the giant redwoods?" asked James.

"And the giant redwoods," said the stranger. He pulled a harmonica from his pocket and began playing. Papa pushed the table aside and pulled Rose to the center of the floor. Sarah picked up Bonnie, Mama grabbed the boys, and soon everyone was dancing.

The stranger played and played, and Rose's family danced and danced. Finally, Mama collapsed in a chair. "Time for bed," she said.

James and Henry piled blankets on the floor by the fire for the stranger, and everyone crawled into bed.

Before Rose closed her eyes, she took one more look out the window. A bright yellow star shot across the sky, leaving a sparkling trail behind it. "Oh!" she cried. Rose stared at the shooting star.

"Please let my family have a wonderful Christmas," she whispered, "and let Mama have a Christmas tree."

Dawn peeked over the mountain. Rose opened her eyes. It was Christmas! She would surprise her parents and the traveling stranger by making the coffee before anyone else awoke.

She tiptoed toward the fire. James and Henry were fast asleep, and the stranger was gone! On the floor where he had slept lay a bulging gunnysack.

"Mama! Papa!" Rose shouted. "Look."

Her parents rushed over, Sarah stumbled out of bed, and the boys sat up on their mattresses. They all stared at the sack.

"It's filled with presents," Papa said. He pulled out a box and read the tag. "This one's for you, Sarah, and this one's for Mama."

He passed out the gifts, then he, Mama, Sarah, and the boys began pulling off wrapping paper.

Mama lifted a green lace dress from her box, and Papa opened a shiny, new pipe. James and Henry unwrapped new wool coats, Sarah unwrapped a toy horse, and Mama helped baby Bonnie unwrap the biggest gift of all -- a crib, carved and painted, just like in Rose's dream.

Rose watched in silence. She was happy for her family. Still, the sack was empty, and there was no gift for her. She ran to the window to hide her tears.

"Oh!" she cried. "Look!"

Outside stood a fir tree, full and tall, with beautiful hand-carved decorations. Rose ran out the door. On the tree was a note that said: "To Rose. Merry Christmas."

"It's a miracle!" she shouted. "My wish came true. Merry Christmas!"

Meaning of Christmas - GO FISH GUYS

Yes it is! Here is another GO FISH video-musical "It's About the ..."

IT'S SPELLED WITH A CAPITAL "C"

VERSION TWO - MORE CARTOONS

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry [Not the candy bar! But it is a SWEET story.]

[Editor: Will there be MORE magi this year with the ailing economy? This is the classic story.
To Boys and Girls: Remember this story was written 150 years ago when a penny was worth a LOT more than it is today!]

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."

The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pierglass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

Down rippled the brown cascade.

"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"

Jim looked about the room curiously.

"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication.

And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest.

They are the magi.

[Will you be a wise -man, a wise -woman this year? If so, you too are part of the magi!]

For more about O. Henry otherwise known as William Sydney Porter, see the entry on Wikipedia or go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gift_of_the_Magi

VEGGIE TALES: GIVE CHRISTMAS AWAY

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Carol of Bells

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Acappella Christmas

The Living Nativity - Be patient. It starts slow but gets much better!