Dickens Christmas Carol – Christmas Future

December 25, 2009

Scrooge reminds us that we can made a difference in the future of all our Christmases.   What will your Christmas Future look like?

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Yes! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in!

“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!” Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. “The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this. I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees!”

……….

Scrooge was better than his word.  He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father.  He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.  Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms.  His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.  May that be truly said of us, and all of us!  And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

What more could I ever add?  Thanks Dickens for your inspiration!

Have a Merry Christmas and may all your future Christmases be bright.

Till, Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

Twas The Night Before Christmas – 5 Night Before Christmas Activities

December 24, 2009

Twas The Night Before Christmas and all thru our house, we were thinking of fun things to do.

5 Night Before Christmas Activities.

1. Open one gift. As children, my sisters and I would gather around the Christmas tree and wait for Mom to hand us the one gift we could open before Christmas. Of course, we all knew what it was… it was no secret. Wrapped in white tissue paper, were pajamas our Grandma Ella had made. They were made from flannel and were so cozy. We loved them. It was our tradition to enter the living room Christmas morning with our new pajamas on. What memories.

2. Go through neighborhoods and view the lights. When I was a child, lights were not prominent on every house. We had one abundant area in town and several families decorated the outside of their homes with a strand of lights. We called it “Snob Hill. It was a treat to go for a ride to “see the lights.” Afterward, we often would stop for a bit of ice cream on the way home.

3. Bake cookies and place them on someone’s door step, ring the door bell and run. One Christmas, when I was eight, we had cookies delivered to our door step on Christmas Eve. We were so surprised! They were sugar cookies decorated with frosting and colored sugar crystals. I knew who ever baked the cookies had to be rich because they could afford to put colored sugar on top of the frosting.

4. Go Christmas Caroling. It was so exciting to run to the door when your heard voices singing Silent Night, or some other traditional Christmas Carol. I usually went with friends to carol at the neighbor’s door step because it was not a practice that my family participated in. It seems like it’s a tradition that has lost its way the last few years. I wish the practice would return.

5. Gather the family around and read about the birth of Christ in the bible or watch a movie about the Nativity. After all… isn’t this what Christmas is all about? I want to share with you the following short video of the Nativity. It’s so well done… you won’t want to miss it. I have a copy and we watch it every Christmas Eve.

Till Later,

Kathy
Insightful Nana

P.S. Have a lovely Night Before Christmas.

My Christmas Gift To You

December 23, 2009

My Christmas gift to you are Vintage bookplates that you can download and glue in your kids books or your own books for that matter.

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Reading is a wonderful past time and my love of reading came from my Mom, who always took the time to sit down and read me a story.
Of course, we started with picture books.  However, I was very young when she started reading “the classics.”  I was about 5 years old when she read novels  like Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol to me.   A weekly trip to the library was common.

By the time I was a Junior in High School, I had read, Gone With The Wind (at least 5 times… it was a favorite,) Les Miserables, Tom Sawyer, Jane Eyre and many other adult classics.

Some of my other favorite books, just to name a few,  are Atlas Shrugged, Fountainhead, John Adams, Cold Mountain and the Mitford series.  I could go on and on… but the point is… besides books, my mom passed on a life time gift… the love of reading.   Thanks Mom.

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I have a “Grandma Library” at my house.  It consists of many wonderful books ranging from pictures to old children’s classics.  They are books that my grandchildren and I read together.  One of their favorite books is To Market To Market by Anne Miranda and Janet Stevens.  When I say, “What do you want to read?” it seems to be on top of the stack.

So…. with Christmas gift giving in mind, give your kids and grand kids books and pass on a life time gift… the love of reading.   Here is a page of Vintage bookplates your can download and glue them into your kids books or your own books.   My gift to you.

Your Vintage Bookplates

Have a good day… and Merry Christmas To You.

Till later,

Kathy
Insightful Nana

P.S.  My mom pasted on the love of reading to my sisters also.  My sis, Sheila, would hide in the closet with a flashlight and read all night…. and sleep all day in school.  Now… that’s a love of reading.

Considering Christmas Gift Cards?

December 22, 2009

Did you know that over 50% of gift cards are purchase five days before Christmas?  Perhaps folks can’t think of an appropriate gift to give that would please the recipient.  Or, maybe they just remembered someone to whom they want to give too.  I fall into both categories… so I’m running out today and picking up a few Christmas gift cards.

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Here are 5 tips you need to consider when purchasing a gift card.

1.  When you purchase a gift card, check on the expiration date.  Small independent stores are famous for putting a date limitation on the card.  Chain stores usually honor an expired card… but it would be wise to check anyway.  Try and find cards that don’t have an expiration date.

2.  If the recipient of the card doesn’t spend the full value of the card for one purchase, make sure the remaining money on the card can be spent at a later date.  Usually gift cards that can be swiped through a machine will account for the balance… but again, it’s wise to check.

3.  Are you aware that more than $1 in $4 that is spent on gifts cards is not redeemed.  Many cards get tucked in a drawer to be used at a later date… then they are forgotten about. (I’m guilty of this one.)  Stores make thousands of dollars on gift cards that are not redeemed.   In fact… they count on it.

4.  Instead of giving the recipient a gift card, consider cash.  Perhaps the person is saving for something special.  You could put the cash into a Christmas card and mention the desired item they are saving for.

5.  If you are purchasing a gift card from a chain store, make sure all stores will honor the card.  Sometimes small chain stores are independently owned and will not honor cards purchase from other stores in the chain.

Hope this helps… off I go to purchase gift cards.

Till Later
Kathy
Insight Nana

P.S.  You can increase the perceived value of the card by wrapping it in a large box.

Dickens Christmas Carol – Christmas Present

December 21, 2009

Again, Dickens Christmas Carol is a favorite  of mine.  We’ve covered Dickens Christmas Carol,  A Christmas past… now here we are in Christmas Present.

DICKENS CHRISTMAS PRESENT:

At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted, and considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at Bob Cratchit’s elbow stood the family display of glass. Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.

These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob proposed:

“A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us.”
Which all the family re-echoed.

“God bless us every one!” said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

The Cratchit family enlightens us to what Christmas is all about… family.  Even though they were without physical abundance, they celebrated what they had and rejoiced with their family.

On Saturday, we had our extended family Christmas party and it was loads of fun.  We too rejoiced in having family together.  Three of our families traveled 5 hours to join us… just to feel the energy of togetherness and share the spirit of the Christmas season.

I invite you to peek in and share in a little of our family celebration of Christmas Present.

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We feasted on Mexican Food.  Look at this mouth watering salsa my sister, Sheila, made.  It was delicious.

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No Christmas party is successful with out singing Christmas Carols.  The kids were getting their music makers out so they could lead us in Jingle Bells.

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Avary and Savannah belong to a singing group in Wyoming and shared a song they preformed on stage a few weeks ago.

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Claire preformed a dance for us.  Any talent is welcome at the family Christmas party.  (By the way… she’s not had any lessons but really has all the movies down.  Natural talent.)

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Sicily, Avary, and Savannah…. interested spectators.

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I guess texting is important too.  It takes a lot more talent than I’ve got.  I’d rather talk than punch letters.

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Norah is one talented little gal.  She has a very mature voice and sings right on key.  She knows how to put it all into her performance.lu-christmas-09

Lu doesn’t miss a beat.  She has a powerful little voice and knows every word of complicated songs.  Such a treat.

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“Enough is enough alright already!!”  I’m ready for dessert and presents.

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Can’t leave you on a bitter note.  This is Beck and his mom, Katie.  I have to say..  he’s not only darling… but really a great baby… that is… unless he’s pushed beyond his limits.

What can I say…. I love my family and extended family.  I’m proud to be numbered among them.

Till Later,

Kathy

Insightful Nana

P.S.  Like the Cratchit family… we’ve had our disappointments and grief this year.  We’ve lost several family members to death… one being as recent as August.  We’re just hanging in there together and just grateful  that we have each other… in the good times as well as the bad.    May you have joy and rejoicing in your family too.

Holiday Christmas Traditions

December 20, 2009

Holiday Christmas traditions have become a big deal in our family.  Through the years, we’ve added so many that I can’t keep track of them all.  In fact, there are a few Christmas traditions I didn’t  know existed until one the grands told me.

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For instance… for several years,  I’ve added crackers and cheese to the grands Christmas bags.  It started out as being just a little filler in the bag.  Now…  heavens forbid… if I should forget to add them to each child’s Christmas Bag… along with their own can of Mandarin Oranges or Smoked Oysters.   “It’s a tradition, Nana.”

Last night was our extended family Holiday Christmas party.  I thought  it would be fun for everyone to bring their favorite Mexican dish.  “Great idea, but your still going to make  Sweet and Sour Meat Ball aren’t you?”  “What, no Sweet and Sour Meat Balls?”  “It’s a Christmas tradition!”   Oh dear, I didn’t know it was a tradition but I added Sweet and Sour Meat Balls to my part of the fare.

A few other traditions ended up on the food table… like Emily’s stuffed mushrooms, a baked ham, and Sheila’s rich Chocolate Brownie Triffle.  No one seemed to mind that these traditional Christmas foods ended up with the Beef Enchiladas, Chicken Enchiladas, Shredded Pork and Chili Rellenos on the table.

Still have shopping to do.  Last night, six year old Randall said, “Nana, I sure hope I get my own bottle of Martinelli in my bag again this year. (A none alcoholic cider that is popular in our area.)  Oh dear… another tradition.

Till Later,

Kathy
Insightful Nana

P.S.  Do you have a favorite Holiday Christmas Tradition?

Christmas Carols – Christmas Harp Music

December 19, 2009

Playing Christmas carols while I wrap gifts is a personal Christmas tradition.  Wrapping gifts is not my most favorite thing to do, so playing Christmas music seems to take the edge off of all the scramble and clutter.

Several years ago, I was in the Midwest on a business trip when I ran across a CD of Christmas carols played on a harp.  Wow… talk about an angelic sound.  Since that time, it is the first CD I play for the Christmas season.

This rendition of the Canon is played on the harp by two woman.  Take 3 minutes, sit back and enjoy the angelic sound of Christmas harp music.

My sister, Nicole, and her daughter, Leslie, are proficient at playing the harp.  Nicole is coming from Idaho for our family Christmas party and I’m hoping she’ll bring her small harp and entertain us with a few Christmas Carols.  My son, Brad, plays the guitar and so does my grand daughter, McKenzie.  Of course, we’ll be hearing from all the Grands.  They love to share all the songs they’ve learned in school.  Looks like we’re in for a great program.

Have a good Christmas season and don’t forget to turn on a few Christmas Carols to inspire you during this Christmas season.

Till Later,

Insightful Nana

P.S.  The old Christmas carols are my favorites… O Holy Night, Away In The Manger, and Silent Night are at the top of my list.

Buying Online – 10 Tips For Shopping Online

December 17, 2009

Buying Online can be risky business, especially during the holiday season.  Here are 10 tips that may be helpful for shopping on line no matter what season your buying for.

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1.  Compare prices.  It’s easy to do… Just google the item your looking for and various retailers should pop up.

2.  Research the seller.  Make sure you have the the sellers physical address and phone number in case there are problems.  Try calling the number before you buy…  and if no one answers or you get a answering machine… beware.

3.  Make sure you have the latest firewall and anti-virus software on your computer.  During busy shopping seasons, viruses run rampant through the internet.  (Good reason for having a Mac…. no viruses.)

4.  Look for indicators that the site is secure.  Look for an “s” after the http:// in the URL address bar.  Even though this is not full proof, it helps.

5.  Don’t e-mail information like your credit card or checking account number.  Scammers will use this method.

6.  Don’t send cash or wire money for your payment.  Pay by credit card… even when using Pay Pal.  Your credit card company will help you retrieve your money if you don’t receive your item.

7.  Keep a paper trail and save all your records of your online transaction.  Include the product description, price, receipt and any e-mails your receive or send.

8.  Review the return policy and deliver rates.  Make sure you’re aware of who pays for shipping.

9.  Beware of ridiculously low prices.  Scammers entice victims with low prices.

10.  Have the company confirm that your product will be delivered by the due date you need your purchase.

Buying online is certainly convenient.  Online Christmas shopping is up 25% from last year… so buying on line is popular.  Be wise… be safe.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S.  I recently had a company ask me to fax all of my information including my credit card.  No way!  Of course, I didn’t purchase the items I was looking for.

A Christmas Carol – Christmas Past

December 15, 2009

In Dickens,  A Christmas Carol,  the ghost of Christmas past is Scrooge’s first visitor after his partner Marley leaves.

The story reads:

“Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me?” asked Scrooge.

“I am.”

The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance.

“Who, and what are you?” Scrooge demanded.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”

“Long Past?” inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish stature.

“No. Your past.”

Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend or any knowledge of having willfully bonneted the Spirit at any period of his life. He then made bold to inquire what business brought him there.

“Your welfare,” said the Ghost.

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By looking at our Christmas Past, are there lessons to be learned for our own welfare?   As I look back, one of the most memorable for me was the Christmas of my sixteenth year.

I was a Sophomore in high school.  Two classes joined together to provide Sub for Santa for a family in need.  In fact we had two families.  I was on the committee to interview one of the families for their particular needs.

As I entered the trailer of this family, I was in shock at the disarray of my surroundings.  The place was a mess.  A toddler sat in a high chair playing with a dead chicken.  I kid you not!  A pair of newborn twins lay on on a bare  mattress covered with  a worn out blanket.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

The class not only provided needed gifts, but a Christmas tree.  I was not with the group when the tree was delivered, but was one of those who went back with gifts on Christmas Eve.

I did not look forward to returning to that unkempt, stinky home.   Christmas Eve arrived and we went to the home with a ton a needed items….. food, clothing, toys, bedding.

When we arrived, a smiling mother answered the door.   We were was surprised to see that the place has been cleaned up and the tree, with it’s sparkling lights, stood in the corner.   A weeping father sat in a chair holding the twins.

We placed the gifts under the tree and sang a Christmas carol or two before we left.  We may have provided physical needs for the family, but I departed the home carrying the greater gift…. a new heart!

Even after all these years, their faces, filled with joy and gratitude, is fixed in my minds eye. Who was I to judge circumstances?  It had become my honor to help provide a “leg up” for a family in need.

I went home with a full heart!  Christmas was the next day… but I had already received my gift.

Till Later,

Kathy
Insightful Nana

P.S.  What is your most memorable Christmas Past?

Dickens Christmas Carol

December 12, 2009

I’ve had a fascination with Dickens Christmas Carol every since I was a tike and my mom read the story to me.  The old books didn’t have colorful pictures like they do today.  The illustrations were old wood cut images or ink drawings which added to the darkness of the tale.   The art work always intrigued me.

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A number of years ago, I designed  craft projects for  instructions books for the “Tole Painting” crowd and I designed an entire Christmas book dedicated to the subject of A Christmas Carol.  I had just a good time with this book and it was very well received…. even though the printer spelled Dickens wrong on the cover.   (You can imagine my dismay and panic when the first book was delivered and I realized 20,000 copies were sitting in the warehouse waiting to be delivered to craft stores.)  Yikes!  Miss that one in the proof reading!  However, it sold out and went to two extra printings….guess those painters didn’t care about a little misspelled word.

I watch the Dickens Christmas Carol movie every year but I stick to the old black and white version because it takes me back to childhood.

There is a quote by Scrooge’s partner, Marley, that  I ponder over now and again.  It reads:    “I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.  Is its pattern strange to you?”

Hmmmmm.   The encouraging  thing is… I can break the chains that bind me to old thoughts and habits.  Every day I can start anew.   That’s what A Christmas Carol is all about…. breaking the chains that bind.

Just doing a little reminiscing the past few days.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S.  Haven’t seen the new Dickens Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey… Is it worthwhile?

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