Are You Ready For Christmas? Or Not?

Manger scene under the Christmas tree in Ely C...

Manger scene under the Christmas tree in Ely Cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

That question seems to be something that I ask frequently. Of course people respond with shopping stories, Santa stories and family get together stories. I do the same thing. As I was contemplating writing this column for the week of Christmas I reviewed the conversations I have had with people throughout the week including my grandchildren. Then it hit me. All my conversations have been about the materialistic things of Christmas.

I must admit I am not hustling and bustling this Christmas. I have decorated my house. I have put up my tree, taken down my tree because of the cats and put up a smaller tree. I have listened to Christmas music on the radio and I feel the excitement of the coming week. I have to finish my crafty projects and gifts. I have a little shopping to do for my grandchildren but they are easy things. I am in the midst of working on Christmas cards and maybe by the time you read this some of them might be in the mail. I am not my usual hyper Christmas self. I am enjoying the season because of it. The commercial part of my Christmas is almost ready.

But am I ready for Christmas? I don’t think I have contemplated the right reason we celebrate this holiday. So, no, I am not ready for Christmas.

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25. We may go to church before that day to prepare for the actual day. Or not. We may read “The Christmas Story” to our children and grandchildren. Or not. We may take the time to sit in silence and remember that night so long ago that leads to more Christian Holidays, Good Friday and Easter that happen in our spring. Or not. We may take the time to realize the roots of the tradition that we call Christmas. Or not.

Somewhere, somehow, we spend more time thinking about what we are going to buy someone for Christmas, what we are going to eat and how we are going to spend the holiday than we do thinking and feeling about the story that has been told to us through the ages, the birth of Christ. This tiny baby has gotten lost in the tinsel and the wrapping paper and the ribbon.

We may take the time to go to Christmas Eve services and if they run long we are impatient because there is more fun waiting for us at home. Many churches don’t have Christmas Day services anymore because attendance was so low. Could it be dinner preparations were more important?

Most stores are still closed on Christmas, unlike Thanksgiving, but I imagine that trend will change with time when that tiny baby born in a manger is forgotten some more. No, I have not taken the time to get ready for the birth of Christ and if I think about Christmas in that way, then I am not ready for Christmas.

Perhaps there are ways we can be ready in the midst of the tinsel and tree lights. We can look into the face of a tiny child and see the goodness and beauty in them. We can look into the face of a person we normally would not take the time to greet and see the hunger for acceptance in their face. We can take the time each day to find that tiny baby in the people we meet. We can drop a few coins in the Salvation Army kettle. We can look around us and be grateful for the freedom of religion. We can reach out our hearts and touch someone that isn’t seeing the joy of the season that we see in the lights and the music and the merriment of food and family.

I enjoy the sights and sounds and fun of Christmas. My Christmas wish for you, is for moments in the midst of the merriment to remember the reason for the season and to feel the peace and the joy that those moments may bring.

Some of my readers added a few Christmas wishes too:

“My Christmas wish is for peace in the world and safe return home for our troops.” — Mary Stenzel

“My wish would be for tickets home for Christmas. We would love to be with family for the holidays and haven’t seen snow since 2010!” — Alissa Bruss Ellingson, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

“My wish this year is that my many family members who are suffering illness, shall all improve, and hopefully we will have some healing and cures.” — Gina Nelson

“My one wish is our family all get together and enjoy each other’s company.” — Cecile Schnebly

And I will end with this quotation from Sunday school lesson book author Roy L. Smith:

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”

Giving Children The Gift of The Christmas Season

Christmas gifts.

Christmas gifts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I did a story on a sub Santa Program in my home town. Sub Santa provides gifts for those children that otherwise would not have a Christmas this year because of their family circumstances. I think Leo Buscaglia says it best when it comes to what we can do to help someone else.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Leo Buscaglia

This is brief excerpt of the story that will appear in The Courier Sentinel this week.

Dawn Navarra has been working with the Sub Santa program sponsored by the Wells, Minnesota Lake and Kiester Lions Clubs for 12 years. It is the smiles on the faces of the children, knowing that they are going to get a gift that puts a smile on Dawn’s face. “When I see that smile on the face of a child it goes way into my heart.”

Sub Santa started many years before that at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, organized by Audrey Schroeder. The Lions became involved with the program about eighteen years ago.

Sub Santa provides gifts for children who might not otherwise have a gift under the tree on Christmas. Trees with tags are set up in area banks in Kiester, MN Lake and at three banks in Wells.

This might be a story about three small communities in Minnesota but the Caring and Sharing and Sub Santa programs are helping all across the nation sponsored by different groups and different individuals. Please take the time to find one and put a smile on a child’s face this Christmas.

There is a real need in our communities,” Navarra shared, “Until you
work with it, you don’t really know.

We don’t know unless we experience it ourselves. The entire article can be read in the Courier Sentinel. Like their Facebook page for updates on their new website coming soon.

Remember what you do to help someone else, may change their lives forever.

My Christmas Tree has Gone To The Cats!

IMG_0867Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

Meow, meow, meow — meow, meow, meow — meow, meow, meow, meow, meow.

It might take a little bit of the imagination but put those Meows, to the tune of “Jingle Bells,” and you have cats meowing “Jingle Bells.” I happened to find this song on YouTube. It was a teaser for an entire DVD of cat songs. I must tell you, it caught my cats attention. Boris and Nathasha were very taken with the song.

It is the Christmas season again. Last year we had one cat, Boris. He was young and was a little in awe of all the lights on the tree.

It is a tradition that Thanksgiving evening my grandchildren help put up Grandma’s tree and decorate the house. They are almost 10 and 6. The 6-year-old last year waited with baited breath because he felt he was old enough to put the glass decorations on the tree. He was a little deflated when I explained that my antique glass decorations were not going to go on the tree because we were not sure of Boris reaction to the tree.

In January, we adopted Natasha. She is part Siamese and is very thin-boned, graceful, sneaky, cunning and lovable. Fast forward to this December, Nathasha is still thin boned, graceful, sneaky, cunning, busy and lovable.

Boris is 14 pounds, not overweight, but a huge cat. He is laid-back, cuddly, watchful and lovable. This year, I explained to my grandchildren that we would have to see how our tree matched wits with Natasha. There would be no breakable ornaments at all on the tree until we knew how she would react.

For those of you who are empty-nesters and cat lovers, you know that you treat your cats a little like you treated your little children. Kids are always into everything, and it is the same way with your cat children. In our case, our littlest child that we are constantly watching is Natasha.

The tree wasn’t up for very long when my son started laughing. The tree was shaking, but you couldn’t see anything. Yes, it took us a little while to locate Ms. Natasha nestled halfway up the tree hidden in the branches. I should mention we have a prelit artificial tree because of allergies. She was so far hidden in the tree we had a hard time reaching in and getting her out. The next morning, my grandson informed me that he had found her at the top of the tree by the angel, when Natasha saw my grandson, she made the high jump from the top of the tree to the ground.

Enter Boris. Boris has been watching Natasha. He loves to lay under the tree and watch her mischief as if to say “What are you doing!!”

However Natasha’s antics finally got to him. I heard a few crashes one morning and came out to see that Borris had tried climbing the tree. He is too big to get inside and hide. There he was, halfway up laying on a branch that was halfway down, and he was holding on for dear life. He looked like a bull in a china shop. I carefully lifted him off of the branch.

We had been using a spray bottle occasionally to get Natasha to quit climbing the tree. My husband asked me why I didn’t get it out for Boris. I explained that if we would have scared Boris, because he is so big and clumsy, the entire tree would have crashed down.

Not too much scares Natasha. She likes to try and ride the vacuum cleaner. I got an alarm for the kitchen countertop that sounds off when something jumps on it. She loves it and likes to make it go off. The louder the noise, the more she is interested so the spray bottle scares her for a time, say seconds, and then she is back for more.

Her latest trick is to only climb when we are sleeping. I know this because she leaves clues behind. When we are awake she now lays under the tree and bats at the ornaments that she can reach when she thinks we aren’t looking. If you sit down near her when she is doing this she stops with her paw in the air and starts licking her paw. Her look that she gives you says “I’m not doing anything.” She keeps this up until we move and then she goes back to batting the ornament (unbreakable).

My granddaughter and grandson are on cat watch. They text me and ask if the tree is still up. They are so interested in what my cats are doing that it is becoming part of the family tradition.

Christmas is a time for kids. They may receive presents and be excited about Santa, but what they will remember years down the road is our escapades at Christmas with family traditions. Our grandchildren will remember the time we spent together trying to outwit the shysters as I call my two mischievous cats.

My decorations aren’t perfect, but they are the handiwork of little hands making my house look festive. Those decorations will stay right where they were placed whether it fits or not. I like Charlie Brown Christmas Trees, imperfect, reminding us that the season is what we make it with what we have. Memories, weaved by a family, will last forever in the hearts of those we love.