Saturday, December 13

A Tribute to Mother

I have mentioned my mother so many times on my posts, but did I ever tell you that Mom writes poetry. In childhood, I would see Mom write little verses on any scrap of paper she could find. She kept them all in a book. Some were written on lined paper like what we used at school. Others were written on pieces of brown paper bag or an envelope. Mom could see beauty in everthing around here and in recent years has written poetry of her memories. The one I'm posting today is one about Christmas when she was a child. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12



It must be Christmas. This week has been full of surprises. Some came in the mail and one via hubby. It all started last Sunday morning when a knock came at the door. Lo and behold, there was the Canada Post delivery driver and in his hand was a parcel. Canada Post never delivers on weekends and I certainly didn't expect them to deliver on Sunday. The driver explained that in the month of December they always work weekends.

I brought the parcel into the house. The box was pretty battered and I hoped that whatever was inside was safe.

Seems this parcel had been in the mail since November 17th The only thing I can figure out is that it was held up in Customs for some reason.

This is what was inside. The beautiful scarecrow lady that Sandy, from Flip Flop Floozie, had told me she would send me. I had commented on how much I liked her and Sandy sent her to live with me. I was delighted. Thank you, Sandy, for your generosity. I love her and promise that she will have a good home here. Imagine! She traveled all the way from Georgia to southern Ontario. I wonder what tales she could tell about her journey?

The second surprise arrived at my door on Wednesday. About 1 pm, a knock came at the door and once again it was the Canada Post delivery truck driver. I will call him D. In his hand he held this box:
I knew right away that it had come from the US. I can tell by the box. I signed for it, brought it in and opened it. I'm expecting a few swap parcels and this one was all the way from North Carolina. Peggy of Hidden Haven Homestead had joined in my book swap and she was one of my partners. (I ended up with two partners because an odd number of people signed up. I loved it!) I carefully opened the parcel and was delighted to find some extra goodies inside.

Peggy included a beautiful book titled, A Quiet Knowing Christmas by Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham. Included along with the book was a card with one of Peggy's adorable goats on it, a cake of homemade Hidden Haven goat's milk soap and Hidden Haven homemade milk's goat hand lotion.

My hands have been dry and rough the last couple of weeks and none of the hand lotions that I have were working. As soon as I took this photo, I opened the lotion and put just a dab on my hands and then worked it in. Such a small amount and my hands are no longer dry. This is a great product. I would recommend it to anyone who is suffering from dry skin.

The goat's milk soap was Holiday Crunch fragrance and it is heavenly. I love the fragrance. Thank you so much, Peggy. Everything you chose was perfect. I will be sure to do a book review once I've read the book. Peggy makes and sells her own goat milk products and she does a terrific job. Be sure to take time to visit Hidden Haven Homestead and also Peggy's Etsy Shop. I know I will be buying a few gifts from Peggy for the special people in my life in the future.

This morning when I got up, there on the table was a Tim Horton's coffee mug. I'd seen these advertised on TV and mentioned that I really liked them. Tim Horton puts out a line of collector items each year and this is for 2008. It looks exactly like their take-out cups except it has a handle. For those who are familiar with Tim Horton's products, there is even a rim on the top of the cup. Hubby bought this for me on his way home from work. I love it!

So, this has been quite the week for surprises, which is not something I'm used to. It was such a nice treat to get so many unexpected gifts. I do appreciate my hubby and all of my blogging friends.

Remember the people who provide you with service this Christmas - the person who delivers your newspaper, the person who delivers your mail and anyone else who gives good service. You don't have to give a large tip or an expensive present. Cookies, candies or a card with a gift card or a small bill will let them know how much you appreciate their hard work. ~Blessings, Mary~

Thursday, December 11

Christmas Giving

One of my greatest joys in life is giving to others. I always like to be as generous as possible around Christmas time. I don't have a lot, but I do know there are others who are have less than I do and this year is a particularly hard year for many. Some right here in blogland are struggling to make ends meet - to pay the rent, the electric and heat bills and put food on the table. For them, Christmas this year will not be a time of spending for gifts and Christmas treats. It will be trying their hardest to find work so they can at least provide their families with a Christmas dinner.

This year I have done the following:

* Dropped my change into the Salvation Army kettle on the way out of the grocery store.

* Sent books to a little girl I know who may not get anything from Santa.

* Given books for both adults and children to the Christmas Basket Exchange.

* Put out a Baking Challenge to my friends and readers here in blogland. Some families will receive baked goods through this challenge.

If you would like to do something for those less fortunate this Christmas, you can do any of the things listed above or you can:

* Volunteer to help deliver Christmas baskets.

* Take a tag off a Christmas tree and buy for the child whose name is listed on the tag. Many stores, including Wal*mart have trees with the names of children who aren't going to find a gift under the tree this year.

* Volunteer in a church kitchen and help with the annual Christmas dinner that they provide to those who don't have money for food.

* Take some goodies to a nursing home, or call ahead to find out the name of a senior who does not have family to visit. These people will cherish the gift of your company, if only for a half hour. Many of them are lonely and would love to be spoken to in a kind manner or given a hug.

* Seek out a homeless person and buy him/her lunch. Money isn't a good idea but a nice lunch and your company would be very much appreciated.

* Buy a blanket or sleeping bag for a street person if you are able, or even take them a blanket that you no longer use. Warm coats are also appreciated by people who live on the streets. Check in your city for an organization that will accept donations of blankets and coats for street people.

* Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

* Take a child who is lonely to a movie or out for lunch. Kids who are less fortunate would look forward to any type of outing.

* Give a single mother an IOU for babysitting services. Even a couple of hours will give her a much needed break.

* Become a Big Brother or Big Sister and give a child the gift of your time.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada

There are so many ways to help the less fortunate. If every person would just do one of these things, the world would be a much different place. Give of yourself this Christmas. It is the greatest gift you could give. ~Blessings, Mary~

Wednesday, December 10

Letter to Santa

Recently while looking through my folder of poetry, I came across this poem that I saved many years ago. It sends a message that will forever touch my heart. I hope that it touches yours just as deeply.

Letter to Santa
Snowflakes softly falling,
Upon your window play
Your blanket snug around you,
Into sleep you drift away.

I bend and gently kiss you,
When I see that on the floor
There's a letter neatly written
I wonder who it's for.

I quietly unfold it,
Making sure you're still asleep,
It's a Christmas list for Santa...
One my heart will always keep.

It started just as always
With the toys seen on TV,
A new watch for your father -
And a winter coat for me.

But as my eyes read on,
I could see that deep inside
There were many things you wished for
That your loving heart did hide.

You asked if your friend Molly
Could have another Dad.
It seems her father hits her
And it makes you very sad.

Then you asked, dear Santa
If the neighbor down the street
Could find a job, that he might have
Some food and clothes and heat.

You saw a family on the news
Whose house had blown away,
"Dear Santa send them just one thing,
A place where they can stay.

And Santa those four cookies
That I left you for a treat -
Could you take them to the children
Who have nothing else to eat?

You know that little bear I have,
The one I love so dear?
I'm leaving it for you to take
To Africa this year...

And as you fly your reindeer
On this night of Jesus' birth,
Could your magic bring to everyone
Good will and peace on Earth?

There's one last thing before you go...
So grateful I would be...
If you'd smile at Baby Jesus
In the manger by our tree. "

I pulled the letter close to me,
I felt it melt my heart.
Those tiny hands had written
What no other could impart.

"And a little child shall lead them,"
Was whispered in my ear
As I watched you sleep on Christmas Eve
While Santa Claus was here.

Author Unknown

Tuesday, December 9

What's Happening in My World

Well, the day started off great. About ten 0'clock, I gave Carolyn at Talk to Grams a call. Carolyn has been having some health problems but is doing much better now. We had a wonderful talk and got to know each other a little better. Thanks, Carolyn, for taking the time to chat and become better acquainted. It was a real treat.

Please pray that Carolyn will continue to do well. If you haven't met her, be sure to stop by her blog. She is a wonderful lady and we have so much in common.

It seemed after that the phone didn't stop ringing. I ended up talking to several people, paying bills by telephone banking, sending hubby on an errand and then the phone rang again. It was Jordan. He had money and he wanted to go out Christmas shopping. I really didn't feel up to it but took him and we did have a good time. We looked at things and he chose gifts for his family and even Grandpa and I. He is a good shopper and did all of his shopping at the dollar store and stayed within his budget. He is a smart little shopper and the things he bought were really quite well thought out for a boy who is only eleven. Good job, Jordan!

When I got home, I addressed 60 cards of the 232 I have to get done before Friday night and I already had 40 done before that, so I'm not quite at the halfway mark. I will be glad when they are done. Every year I do this and every year I dread it. I love making out the Christmas cards that we send to family and friends but the ones for hubby's clients are quite a challenge.

Well, that about wraps it up for now. Enjoy your day and remember to do a small kindness for someone. A phone call can mean so much to those who don't have a chance to interact with others on a regular basis. ~Blessings, Mary~

Monday, December 8

Christmas Holly

I've always loved holly. The beautiful red berries against the dark, shiny green leaves bring a splash of colour to our homes in the Yuletide season.

English holly has been used as a symbol of Christmas in European countries for centuries. The spiky leaves represent the crown of thorns worn by Christ as He hung on the cross. The berries, the droplets of blood that he shed and the green leaves in harsh, frigid climates represented everlasting life.

When Europeans came to America, they didn't bring English holly but found that there was holly growing in the New World. This is the holly that they used each year to decorate their homes and it's been a tradition ever since.

Early in the 20th century, holly was very popular. People began stealing it from the forests on private property and there were times when holly trees were cut down for the precious green leaves and berries that were produced. At that time Delaware and Maryland passed a law that forbid the sale of fresh holly in order to prevent the vandalism that was taking place.

Before Europeans arrived in America, Native Americans used holly leaves to brew tea for coughs. They sometimes used the berries for buttons for clothing but the majority of berries were left for winter food for the birds. Holly berries are poison to humans but birds love them and they are a great source of nutrition for our feathered friends.

I've always wanted two holly bushes for the front of our property. I've never been able to find them, but one of these days I will. If you want holly to produce berries, you have to have both a male and female plant. In late spring both bushes will produce creamy, white flowers, but only the female produces berries. A single male holly bush can pollinate up to eight female bushes.

Holly bushes like full sun and acidic soil. They can be grown in partial shade but will probably develop leaf spot. Some kinds of holly produce yellow berries and to me these are not as pretty, but it is a personal preference. Traditional holly has red leaves and if this is your goal, be sure to read the label or ask staff at the garden center. Another option is to buy holly when it has berries on it to be sure of what you are purchasing.

Do not prune holly after it flowers in early spring or there will be few berries produced. The best time of year to prune your holly bush is December, though holly doesn't really need to be pruned. Left to its own devices, holly will grow naturally in a pyramid shape.

When we see pictures of holly, we automatically think of Christmas. It has become known as a symbol of the holiday season. It can be used in centerpieces, swags, wreaths and other decorations to make your home more festive.

It's going to be busy around here. I have a lot to do before Christmas. The boys came over for the afternoon and we got the Christmas village up. Then we headed out to a farm that sells Christmas trees. They also have a Christmas store. It was terribly cold and the wind had quite a bite to it. By the time we walked to the store from the parking lot, we were freezing. We looked around in the store, which had some unique Christmas ornaments. They even had a western section with cowboy Santas. Some were on horses and some were wearing cowboy hats and boots. No, Anni, they didn't have a stagecoach, but I did think of you and looked for one. We didn't buy anything but had a good time looking around. Then we headed out to look for a tree. However, we had a change of heart when we saw they were asking anywhere from $50 to $70 for a tree.

I wish all of my friends and readers a great week. For the next three weeks we are going to be busy. Make sure you take time for yourself so as not to get an overload of stress. After all, Christmas is a time of joy and giving. Be kind to yourself and do an random act of kindness for someone less fortunate. You'll be surprised at the great feeling you will have knowing you've done something to make others happy. ~Blessings, Mary~

Sunday, December 7

Canada's Political Scene

Some have asked me to let them know what is going on in Canada's political scene. In a recent post, I expressed my views on the coalition government and also the Conservative party. If you haven't read the post, it can be found HERE.

Our Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the leader of the latter. Stephen Dion, former leader of the Liberals, will lead the coalition if indeed it remains together until the 3rd week in January when Parliament will reconvene. This is the man who said that if he lost the election in October he would resign and a new Liberal leader would be chosen.

Our Governor General, Michaelle Jean, was in Europe when all of this unrest took place and now she has returned. The morning after she arrived home, Prime Minister Harper met with her and asked her to allow him to prorogue Parliament until January 26, 2009. Michaelle Jean agreed.

In my opinion that was the best call she could make and kudoos to her for giving Harper the extra time. When Parliament goes back in session, Harper will present a federal budget and face a fresh confidence vote.

This entire thing makes me nervous. I don't favor the Conservatives and, up to this point, have never voted for them. However, I don't agree with the Liberals, New Democrats and Quebecois that they should take over with a coalition government. I have been told this is perfectly legal and I realize that it IS legal. The thing that makes me wary is that Dion was going to resign if he lost the election and instead he formed a coalition with the other opposition parties to defeat Prime Minister Harper, just seven weeks after the people of Canada went to the polls and gave him a minority government.

The voter turnout for that election was 59%. People, we should be ashamed and the ones who didn't vote are now the ones voicing very aggressive comments about what is happening. If you didn't want it to happen, you should have used your right as a Canadian citizen and voted.

Back to the issue at hand. (Sorry, this makes me crazy and I tend to rant.) Let's review. We had an election in October. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was returned to power. Stephen Dion, leader of the Liberals was then supposed to resign. His party is sick of him and the Canadian people who voted didn't want him in power. He isn't the right leader for our country. Now, Dion is determined to become leader of the opposition party. He is desperate, in my opinion, to become Prime Minister using whatever tactics he has at hand.

In my opinion, this is a legalized coup. Stephen Dion is essentially taking over the government, only in a peaceful manner using a law that has only been used once in Canada's history. Only he didn't figure on Governor General Michaelle Jean allowing Harper to prorogue Parliament until January 26, 2009.

When January 26th arrives, Harper will present his federal budget and face a new vote of confidence. If there is a non-confidence vote, then Michaelle Jean will have to either allow the Coalition to take power, or call an election that will cost us billions of dollars.

I dislike the thought of a Coalition government taking over just for the simple fact that they are NOT voted in by the people. Yes, an election will cost taxpayers a LOT of money, but that way we get to voice our opinion. With a self-elected Coalition, we, the people of Canada, have no say in who our next Prime Minister will be. That is just plain wrong and I pray that our Governor General has more sense than to let that happen.

At this time Parliament is in limbo and nothing more can happen until January 26th. Though I don't often write about politics on my blog, this is big and I will give you an update then. Please pray for Canada and her leaders.
Note: I just noticed that they are calling for Stephen Dion to resign. Read the story HERE!

Enjoy your weekend and your Christmas preparations. ~Blessings, Mary~