Smile for the Joy of Others

Smile for the Joy of Others

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas 2007

We had a great Christmas celebrating the birth of our Savior. For the first time in my life, I did not travel on Christmas Day. We stayed home in attempt to avoid the Christmas rush of hurrying through Santa and then traveling several hours to make it in time for Christmas lunch. And I will excitingly say, it was the best ever. It was amazing how much stress was eliminated by just staying home. We did, however, go to my parents Christmas night for supper and more presents. For those who don't know, they only live about 5 miles away.

We began our Christmas travels, Sunday the 23rd to JB's parents. We spent the night and celebrated with his parents, his brother and sister in law and Nonna. JB's sister, Angie, was on call so she was not able to make it this year. Christmas Eve evening, we traveled to Granny and Granddaddy's to celebrate with extended family. This year's family crowd was slime due to various family reasons. Regardless, it was just as sentimental and festive.

After arriving back home late Christmas Eve, we put the boys to bed and began Santa's toyshop.
(No words can describe these pics above).

We finally got it all set up in about 1 1/2 hours. Santa brought a roller coaster, teeter totter, tools, vacuum, tub toys, sit n spin, and many other toys...too many to list all, of course.

As you can see in the picture above, our den was taken over by toys. Uncle Wade and Aunt Tracy gave them the tent and tunnel set. We went ahead and put it together for the boys to experience. We made sure they new that Santa did not bring the tent and that it was given by family.
The boys have loved their roller coaster. It is nothing more than a car that zooms down a 10 foot track of hills. Regardless of it's simplicity, it has already brought hours of thrilling rides.

Since Angie was on call and couldn't go home, she spent the day with us. My dad also spent most of the day with us. We had lunch of grilled pork loin, creamed corn, and baked sweet potatoes. My dad's attempt to fry a turkey resulted in a back up entree of grilled pork loin. He has always done a great job of frying turkeys, hence the reason I asked for one this year. Instead, this year poultry ended up poached. We were, however, able to salvage a few pieces. There's always next year.

Since we stayed home this year, JB and I decided to "give Jesus a present". We took lunch to an elderly couple that lives across the street from my parents along with a small gift. They have little family and she is not in good health. It was such an honor to spread Christ's love on Christmas Day.

I hope all of you had a blessed Christmas and look forward to what the new year has to bring. May we always keep CHRISTmas in hearts year round.

Until next time, HB

Friday, December 28, 2007

Out with the Old, In with the New!

I am terribly embarrassed to post the picture above, but I must in order to give y'all a "picture" of what I am talking about. This represents all the junk that we have cleaned out and getting rid of. We even had people to stop yesterday and dig through it like it was a "junk store" open for business. To my amazement they found some things they thought worthy of salvaging.

JB has been off all week, so we followed through with our plans of "cleaning out" and starting the new year clutter free. We spent all day yesterday cleaning our closets (both bottom and top), toy boxes, cabinets, my sewing room and the garage. Today JB is cleaning out and organizing the storage room within our garage. It's shameful the amount of stuff we accumulate. It is also a reminder of just how much we are not in need of anything. However, we had to do this in order to make room for all the new toys that will one day become the same junk as pictured above.

My motto when cleaning out was "if I didn't realize that it was there, it's gone." It's sad that I didn't even remember some of the junk that I had stored away. Some had been stored since we moved here 3 years ago. If I haven't missed it by now, I definitely didn't need it.

It was comical watching Waste Management pick up our stuff. It was so much, that the driver had to get out and help. They both shook their heads in either frustration, amusement or dread at having to "deal with" our version of a junk yard. I saw them as I peeked through our blinds, too embarrassed to let them see me watch. Although, the boys stood at the glass door and watched with amazement as they said "bye bye stuff".

I must admit that watching all that junk leave my care, left me feeling relieved, accomplished and somewhat refreshed. It reminds of the times I have left my sins at the altar for God to "through them away". What an awesome thought that is, that our Savior rids us of all sins (junk, trash, clutter, garbage) when we ask of His forgiveness. And just like all the garbage I threw away, it won't be remember. As Casting Crowns sings, it's as far as the east is from the west. Where Christ throws my sins away is as unknown to me as where my trash will end up. And as another song states, "your sins are erased, they are no more, they're out on the ocean floor". (Well, hopefully my trash doesn't end on the ocean floor, but you get the point.) As we no longer have to deal with the
material trash in our house, we no longer have to deal with the trash in our hearts and lives that keep us from feeling refreshed, revitalized, and redeemed when we give it to Christ and repent. And to know that the beginning of redemption all began with the birth of Jesus Christ in which we just celebrated through the Christmas season.

This new year, may you find your hearts, lives and homes to be clutter free...both of material trash and sins that keep you feeling guilty and unworthy.

Until next time, HB

Thursday, December 27, 2007

As the World Turns...

I heard that my aunt's twin was seen at Carols by Candlelight this past Christmas season. Furthermore, she was with a much younger, handsome man. Their interaction with each other was so that it was obvious they knew each other very well and both appeared to be enjoying each other's company, despite of who might be watching them. They obviously weren't ashamed or afraid of being seen together even though my aunt's twin is married. Why would they take such a risk at being "found out"? What about their love did they not feel the need to hide? Is their love so strong that didn't care who found out?

Just the facts, Mam.
Well, my aunt's twin is my mom and she did not attend Carols by Candlelight this year. Instead it was my aunt's (and my mom's) older sister, Myra. Oh, but yes...she was with a much younger, handsome man. His name is Kelly and it happens to be one of her sons. Therefore, they were enjoying each other's company in spite of who would see them.

You see, a man that knew my Aunt Jean (my mom's twin) told her that he saw her twin sister at Carols by Candlelight. Aunt Jean responded as if it might have been true. For all she knew, my mom could have attended the Christmas program. Then the story took a turn..."She was with a much younger man", he inquiringly informed her.

Then, after a quick thought, Aunt Jean realized that it was Aunt Myra, their older sister and that she had to be with Kelly, her son. She then informed his inquiring mind that it was her older sister with her "middle" son. To which he replied, "I didn't know she had another son. I know Chris and Ryan but didn't know that there was a Kelly."

Glad to clear up this season's edition of "Inquiring Minds Want to Know".

Until next time, you never know what soap opera you might star in, HB

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Few Funnies

Here are a few sites you might find amusing. The boys have been begging to watch them again, again, again, and again. You will have to copy and paste in your address bar to view. Have fun.

Don't You Just Feel this Way Sometimes...., too.

Remember, Jesus is the Reason for the Season. May we not forget the true reason we celebrate this time of year. Jesus, our Lord and Savior is Born!

(I got this through an email. Thanks, Denise)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Around the World--Brazil

Brazil (Boas Festas!):
Presépios (Nativity scenes) were introduced to Brazil in the 17th century in the city of Olinda, and they are proudly displayed in the northeast. This time of year the folk play Los Pastores (The Shepherds) is a big draw; the plot involves a gypsy trying to kidnap the Christ child. According to legend, Papai Noel (Father Noel) lives in Greenland, and when he visits Brazil to deliver gifts, he wears silk clothing to beat the heat; after all, the equator crosses Brazil.

Brazilians are a mix of people from many parts of the world, and as a former Portuguese colony, they have many Christmas customs which originate from this heritage.

One tradition is to create a nativity scene or Presépio. The word origins from the Hebrew word "presepium" which means the bed of straw upon which Jesus first slept in Bethlehem. The Presépio is common in northeastern Brazil (Bahia, Sergipe, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Maranhão, Ceará, Pernambuco, Piauí and Alagoas). The Presépio was introduced in the 17th century, in the city of Olinda in the state of Pernambuco by a Franciscan friar named Gaspar de Santo Agostinho. Nowadays presépios are set up in December and displayed in churches, homes, and stores.

The people of Northern Brazil, as in Mexico, enjoy a version of the folk play Los Pastores or "The Shepherds." In the Brazilian version, there are shepherdesses rather than shepherds and a gypsy who attempts to kidnap the Christ Child.
Papai Noel (Father Noel) is the gift-bringer in Brazil. According to legend, he lives in Greenland. When he arrives in Brazil, he usually wears silk clothing due to the summer heat.

A huge Christmas dinner, unusual in the hot summertime, includes turkey, ham, colored rice, and wonderful vegetable and fruit dishes.

Devout Catholics often attend Midnight Mass or Missa do Galo. (A galo is a rooster.) The mass has this name because the rooster announces the coming day and the Missa do Galo finishes at 1 AM on Christmas morning! On December 25th, Catholics go to church, but the masses are mostly late afternoon, because people enjoy sleeping late after the dinner (Ceia de Natal) or going to the beach.

Decorations include fresh flowers picked from the garden. Fireworks go off in the skies over the cites and huge Christmas "trees" of electric lights can be seen against the night skies in major cities such as Brasilia, San Paolo, and Rio de Janeiro.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I read this article through MSNBC's World Blog. It struck me quite funny but sad also. If you click on comments you will see where I published comments that were left by readers on the World Blog.

This article was writtend by Ian Williams NBC News Correspondent.

NEW DELHI, India – Sankar Masthri is a monkey catcher. It says so on his business card.

"Monkey, Dog Hunter," it reads, together with little drawings of his targets and his cell phone number. The phone's ringing a lot these days, as India’s capital tries to rid itself of an exploding primate population that’s accused of all kinds of mayhem.

"Problem is, monkeys [are] getting smart," Masthri said, as we watched from a distance as one audacious monkey leaned inside a cage baited with bananas and made away with the food before Masthri could pull a wire to close the hatch and trap it.

Monkey hunters are paid 450 rupees (around $11) per monkey, a good rate by local standards. The monkeys are taken to reserves outside the city after they are caught. Masthri claimed to have caught scores in recent days, but the day we joined him was clearly slow going. "Smart monkey," he repeated, shaking his head and again taking cover behind a bush, wire in hand.

There are an estimated 20,000 monkeys in Delhi, and the effort to get rid of them has taken on new urgency after the deputy mayor of Delhi plunged to his death in October while trying to fend off a group of primates on his balcony.
"Marauding monkeys kill deputy mayor," screamed one newspaper headline. The media was soon filled with lurid tales of monkeys terrorizing the city.
Later, a group of monkeys went on a rampage in a low-income neighborhood, injuring more than 20 people, mostly children. Residents claimed the monkeys tried to snatch the children.

"We have lost our dear deputy mayor," Aarti Mehra, the mayor of Delhi, told me shortly after ordering extra teams of monkey hunters. "This menace must stop."

Anybody who feeds the monkeys will be fined, she says, though more drastic action against the primates – culling, for instance – isn’t really an option since the monkey is revered by the Hindu religion. The monkey God, Hanuman, represents strength.

Do not provoke an angry monkey. To add insult to injury, monkeys have taken a liking to the main government buildings in Delhi, where on most days large troops of them can be seen scaling fences and roofs, sitting provocatively on top of signs reading "Government of India." Several recently broke into the Defense Department, fleeing with confidential documents, which were found scattered over the streets.

They were even declared a security threat recently, amid dark murmurings of a possible Pakistan connection. Some government ministries and foreign embassies have brought in langurs, which are lanky, aggressive monkeys that scare away those causing problems. The langurs patrol middle-class and diplomatic districts.

We’ve had no problem since we deployed the langur wallah," one woman told me in the front yard of her large house, near the park where Masthri was working. "Before they would go to the roof and throw off the pots. They’d tear our clothes from the line. They’d sit on the gate and shake it. We couldn’t go out. The kids couldn’t play."

I (the writer of this article) can testify that the monkeys can be pretty scary. We filmed a stand- up, a clip of me talking to the camera in the park, as I strolled through a bunch of them on a path. As we finished, a pretty angry pair of monkeys confronted me, baring their teeth. I made a pretty rapid exit, with Masthri urging me to avoid even looking at them. He told me that under no circumstance should you confront an angry monkey. Luckily that was the last thing on my mind.

Animal rights activists oppose efforts Plenty of people believe monkeys are getting a bad rap and that the real problem is one of man, not monkey.
Delhi is a rapidly growing city. Urbanization is eating into the forest areas where the monkeys used to live. With so much of their habitat destroyed by man, they’re heading to the city.

Animal rights activists claim the monkey catchers are making matters worse by splitting up families. "They get aggressive when you split up a troop," according to Sonya Ghosh, an animal rights campaigner who is working with the government on the city’s simian crackdown.

First catch of the dayIn the park, Masthri eventually got his first catch of the day, with the door of his cage crashing down behind a monkey that pushed its luck too far. It started thrashing around, shaking the cage. Outside, perhaps 20 others looked on from the trees and the edge of the path. One of them sat on a water tap, nonchalantly turning it on for a drink, then off again.

"They’re getting clever," Masthri repeated. "We’ll have to try a new area." Of course, there are no shortages of areas, and the $11 bounty for each monkey gives him plenty of incentive. But a morning with the monkey hunters does leave you wondering whether the monkeys are not adapting better to the city than the city is to them.

Monday, December 17, 2007

New Side Bar Info

Just wanted to let y'all know that I have "cleaned" up my side bar information. If you continue to scroll down and look to the right of the page you will notice that I have added and deleted some links. Some of these links are new blogs in Ministries of Interest and some are new places to shop under "The Blog Mall".

I am considering starting a new blog with nothing but recipes that are "busy woman" friendly. These would be easy to fix recipes for busy women...rather you are busy with being a mom, a career or both. I would love to know if there is any interest. If I do this, I definitely want contribution from others in getting recipes.

Also, check out the survey I have added. Feel free to vote, your name nor any personal info is needed.

Just some info. Please let me know what you think. To leave a comment, just click on "comments" below the message. Type in your comment and publish/post. I do ask that you not leave your full name.

Until next time, HB

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Around the World--China

China (Kung His Hsin Nien Bing Chu Shen Tan!):
There's nothing like a gigantic ice sculpture to remind the Chinese that Christmas is coming. Chinese Christians have adopted traditions from the West—they light their homes with paper lanterns and decorate their Tree of Light with paper chains and paper flowers. Children hang stockings in anticipation of a visit by Dun Che Lao Ren (Old Man Christmas).

Christians in China celebrate by lighting their houses with beautiful paper lanterns and decorating their Christmas trees, which they call "Trees of Light," with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns. Chinese Children hang muslin stockings and await a visit from Santa Claus, whom they call Dun Che Lao Ren (dwyn-chuh-lau-oh-run) which means "Christmas Old Man."

Since the vast majority of the Chinese people are not Christian, the main winter festival in China the Chinese New Year which takes place toward the end of January. Now officially called the "Spring Festival," it is a time when children receive new clothing, eat luxurious meals, receive new toys, and enjoy firecracker displays. An important aspect of the New Year celebration is the worship of ancestors. Portraits and paintings of ancestors are brought out and hung in the main room of the home.

Do they Chinese celebrate Christmas in China? Well, the answer to this question is both YES and NO.

If you walked around a major Chinese city 20 years ago, you probably wouldn't have seen many signs of Christmas. This is because Christmas is a Christian holiday and not many Chinese people are Christian. However, if you were to visit those same Chinese cities today, you'd see signs of Christmas everywhere you looked!

On the Avenue of Eternal Peace in Beijing, China, there are Christmas displays everywhere. Many Chinese people celebrate by decorating their houses with Christmas trees, cooking and eating special foods, and spending time with family and friends.

So yes, the Chinese celebrate Christmas. But no, most do not celebrate it for the same reasons that Christians do.

In Hong Kong, the figure who visits children is known as Lan Khoong or Dun Che Lao Ren. There are church services given in Chinese as well as English. Children send Christmas cards depicting the Holy Family in a Chinese setting. Public areas are decorated with Nativities, poinsettias, streamers, and paper chains.

Until next time, HB

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Around the World--Bethlehem

Bethlehem (Edo Bri'cho o Rish d'Shato Brich'to!):
Palestinian Christian girls and women light candles in the Church of the Nativity, marking the countdown to Christmas Eve. In this town, where Jesus is said to have been born, Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians take part in Christmas processions and religious ceremonies, while mingling with Jews and Muslims. The town is alight with decorations, and often the residents crowd the rooftops to witness the rites.

The little town where Jesus is said to have been born is the site of the Church of the Nativity, which is ablaze with flags and decorations every Christmas. In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, thousands of people rang in the holiday in Manger Square. On Christmas Eve natives and visitors alike crowd the church's doorways and stand on the roof to watch for the dramatic annual procession. Galloping horsemen and police mounted on Arabian horses lead the parade. They are followed by solitary horseman carrying a cross and sitting astride a coal-black steed. Then come the churchmen and government officials. The procession solemnly enters the doors and places an ancient effigy of the Holy Child in the church. Deep winding stairs lead to a grotto where visitors find a silver star marking the site of the birth of Jesus. Christian homes in Bethlehem are marked by a cross painted over the door and each home displays a homemade manger scene. A star is set up on a pole in the village square.

As one might imagine, Christmas in Bethlehem, the city where Jesus was born, is a major event. Some of Bethlehem's Christmas celebrations would be familiar to Europeans and North Americans - the streets are strung with Christmas lights, there is a Christmas market and Christmas plays are performed.

But other events, which are the most important religiously, are special to Bethlehem and in keeping with the traditions of the Holy Land. These consist of multiple services and processions led by many different Christian denominations, including Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Ethiopian, Armenian and more.

Most Christmas processions pass through Manger Square, the plaza outside the Basilica of the Nativity, which stands on the traditional site of Jesus' birth. Catholic services take place in St. Catherine's Church and Protestants often hold services at the Shepherds' Fields.

Bethlehem Christmas celebrations stretch for a long period, as different denominations celebrate Christmas on different days. Roman Catholics and Protestants celebrate Christmas on December 25; Greek, Syrian and other Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 6; and Armenian Christians celebrate Christmas on January 18.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Leaves and Laughter

As many leaves were falling, so was the laughter. Last week my dad came over to watch the boys so I could sew with little inturruption. It was such a pretty day, so he took the boys to the backyard.
While I was sewing, he told me to get my camera. Of course, I couldn't resist.

They were all playing in the leaves....what a childhood activity. I think every child enjoys "leaping in the leaves".

Even Pappaw joined the ranks of childhood for awhile. Don't know of better "grandchild sitting" than this.

“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower”~Albert Camus

Until next time, HB

Christmas Around the World---Australia

Australia (Merry Christmas!):

Naturally, Santa Claus arrives on a surf rescue boat in Queensland, because he visits in high summer. Australians surround themselves with Christmas bush, a native plant that has little red flowers; some use gum-tree branches for decoration, rather than evergreens.

In Melbourne, tens of thousands of people gather each Christmas Eve for Carols by Candlelight, a tradition since the early 20th century, which has caught on in other Australian cities.

Christmas in Australia is always about 30° Celsius which is a rather hot day. Most Australian families go away and spend their holidays in a resort or on the beach. Swimming is always popular.

Unlike in New York, people walk around in shorts and T-shirts and still get sweltering hot. Everyone invites their friends and grandparents over for salad with cold meats, or a picnic, or even a barbecue. Nobody has anything like a roast dinner or a turkey.

When kids wake up in the morning, they hurriedly toss off their sheet and race towards the plastic Christmas tree. The presents are piled up under it. When the time comes to open the presents the kids tear off the paper. When all of this is over they go outside and have a game of Cricket or go to the beach for a swim.

In poorer areas of Australia, kids expect two or three presents but some get many.

Families sometimes venture north or go overseas for Christmas but most stay in Australia and relax in the floods of glorious sunshine.

In Queensland, the beaches are incredibly popular, especially down at the Gold Coast.

The food is never hot, and many go out for dinner instead of having a heavy lunch. Many people go to church as well to celebrate and pray.

The next big holiday is the day after, Boxing Day. I'm not sure if you have a similar day in America, but in Australia this is like a day for cleaning up. Everyone helps out to clear the paper and to store it for next year, and the tree is also disassembled.

Christmas is the most exciting time of the year. The school kids get six weeks off and all the shops close on Christmas day and Boxing Day. December is one of the hottest months of the year so many people need air conditioning in their house. Sometimes it can get so hot and sticky that you can't stay outside for more than an hour.

Compared to New York, our ways and traditions may be different but we all celebrate Christmas for the same cause.

Forget the snow, forget the sleighs.

It's never a white Christmas in Australia where Christmas Day occurs in the first month of the southern summer. Unless of course, you are at the top of Mt Kosciuszko where you still might find some unmelted snow.

Christmas in Australia, you may as well forget the turkey, too, although quite a large number of Aussies cling to the English tradition of a Christmas roast dinner. And yes, it's quite anachronistic to have cold-weather fare on a summer's day.

The trend for Christmas in Australia has been toward seafood - prawns, lobsters, crabs, mussels, scallops, pippies,
Balmain bugs - and cold salad as Christmas fare. And lots of fine Australian wine and robust Australian beer.

So, for Christmas in Australia, we have Santa Claus (sweltering in his heavy suit), Christmas cards (some depicting snow and, yes, sleighs and reindeer, too), Christmas carols, heavy shopping and Christmas gift-giving.

Outdoor activities
Because it's summer, many Christmas in Australia celebrations occur outdoors, with steaks and prawns on the barbie, and beer drunk out of bottles.

In the evening, there could be Carols by Candlelight, the big ones being at the Domain in Sydney and at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne. Smaller cities, and towns, and villages and suburbs, too, may have their own Carols by Candlelight versions.

Church services
For the religious there's Midnight Mass and Christmas Day services.

And there's always the beach. And because it's summer, there'll be people celebrating Christmas in Australia on the beach when the weather's fine.
And before you know it, it's
Boxing Day.

Until next time, HB

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Around the World, Japan

Christmas in Japan is a bit different from here. The major religion in Japan is Buddhism and Shinto, so Christmas is more commercial event. The main celebration revolves around Christmas eve and not Christmas day.

In Japan it is common to give Christmas presents. Within the family parents give presents to their children, but the children do not give presents to the parents. The reasoning behind this is that only Santa bring presents, so once the children no longer believe in Santa the presents are no longer given.

Most Japanese families would have a Christmas tree and now it is becoming very common to have lights on the outside of houses as you would see in Australia.

For single women in Japan it is really crucial to have someone to spend Christmas eve with. It is also really important for them where they spend Christmas eve and what present they receive. The whole evening must be very special, gorgeous and romantic. Japanese women who have a boy friend tend to show off, so women who don't are not happy to talk about the topic. There also used to be a sarcasm that Christmas is compared with a woman's age. Cake shops throughout Japan always try to sell all their Christmas cakes before Christmas eve. Any cakes left after Christmas are seen to be very old or out of date. Women over 25 years old used to be said 'unsold Xmas cake.' It's a bit bad joke, though. However, nowadays, the average age for marriage has changed, getting older and older, and it is a history.

Christmas is one a few holidays that is celebrated in Japan with as many traditions as there are of countries. Whether the symbols of Christmas are the candles, singing carols, or Santa Kurohsu, the spirit rarely changes: the spirit of peace, giving gifts and good will towards everyone. Christmas began at the beginning of the 20th century and is sure to keep on going.

There are 2 special customs in Japan: First, the daiku, or Great nine, which refers to Beethoven's ninth symphony. This is performed in many places at Christmas time ( also New Year), sometimes with huge masses of choruses for the most famous part, with what Americans sing as a hymn- Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.

The second custom, is the Christmas cake. Christmas in Japan just wouldn't be the same without it. It's a blessing to the Japanese bakery industries, that's for sure, because this is not a home project. Japanese are shocked when told that America knows of no Christmas cake and that it is a Japanese custom.

Japanese families eat turkey mainly on Christmas Day, but some eat it on Christmas Eve depending on their custom.

Christmas Tree
There are no live Christmas trees in Japan, only artificial trees. Not that many houses have their own tree yet, but are starting to appear more often at Christmas time. The trees are decorated with small toys, dolls, paper ornaments, gold paper fans, lanterns and wind chimes. The most popular ornament us the 'origami swan.' The Christmas tree is placed in hospitals to lift the spirit of the sick.

Mistletoe and evergreen are hung from the ceilings. Tinsels and lights are hung in the dance halls, cafes and pinball parlours (where 'modern- minded' Japanese go to celebrate). An amulet for good luck is placed on the front door. 1000% of lights at shops have increased within approx. 7 years. Japanese children exchange thousands of 'birds of peace' in the past, of the pledge that war must not occur again.

For a few weeks before Christmas, shops set up displays of appropriate gifts for men, women and children (especially children). On Christmas day, families sit around the tree to exchange their gifts, whether it be at their house, relatives or friends. For some families who have Christmas trees, they'd gather the presents under the tree.

Santa Kurohsu, as people call Santa in Japan is a popular character at Christmas time. Japan Santa does not yet appear in person, like in shopping centers. He is only pictured as advertising foil. Santa is pictured as a kind old man, carrying a round sack on his back. He is known to have eyes on the back of his head, so he can watch the children all year round.

Most churches will have their own special Christmas worship service on the nearest Sunday before the 25th of December and perhaps on Christmas Eve.

The story of Jesus born in a manger is fascinating to the little girls of Japan, for they love anything having to do with babies. In the scene in the nativity, many become familiar for the first time with a cradle, for Japanese babies have not slept traditionally in cradles. Others may even put on plays about the birth of Jesus.

Christ/History Christianity
Japan is pretty low with 1% believing in Christ, with a few truly understanding the significance of the birth of Jesus. The Christian faith was first introduced in Japan by Jesuit and later by Franciscan missionaries in the 16th century. There were probably about 300,000 baptised believers in Japan.

In some homes Christmas carols are sung gaily. One of the most popular song is Silent Night. Children are chosen to sing carols to the patients in hospitals. Some carols are sung in shops (some songs are sung in English).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I would like to introduce y'all to the newest member of our extended family, UGA, named after the Georgia Bulldogs mascot.

Although he has a face that only a mother could love, I must admit that he is a sweet and loving pet. He is white English Bulldog that I would consider to be a big, lazy baby even at 5 months old. He is very playful with the kids and we have already grown to love him in just the few weeks he's been apart of the family.

“Bulldogs are adorable, with faces like toads that have been sat on”~Sidonie Gabrielle

Until next time, HB

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Gingerbread House

As most of you know, I participated in The Gingerbread House Arts and Crafts Show this past weekend. First, let me thank those of you who stopped by and complemented me on my display and merchandise. You will never know how much an encouragement you are to me. Your encouragements give me much needed confidence in what I am doing.

Second, I had a great time doing this show. Although it was a success for me, I don't have any other experience with this craft show to compare it. So, I have reserved the same booth for next year. I sold alot but have a good bit of inventory left. I prepared for a bigger crowd than I think came, but still alot of shoppers. Several experienced vendors with this show said that this year was a slow showing and it appeared that there wasn't as many shoppers as last year. But most still felt it was successful. They all encouraged me to come back and be apart of it again next year, so he we go.

As a beginner in this business, I am learning so much. The what to do's, how to do it, what not to do. I am learning what sells the best, what people want more of and what attracts more viewers. And I am sure as the year and shows go by, I will continue to learn more that will better prepare me for the next show.

As with the last show, I must thank those that helped me. First without Christ NONE of this would be possible to do. He has blessed me with the ability to learn all the new software, machine, and the creativeness to do this job. He has also blessed JB and I with blessing of me being able to stay home. Without this ability, I wouldn't even have the option of doing this "home job". Second, I also could not do this without the help, sacrifice, and encouragement of my family. As with the last show, they humbly and sacrificially gave their time to help me.

JB helped with the boys on the nights and weekends that I had to devote to sewing. I am blessed with such a husband that makes it a priority to be as good of a father as a husband.

My mom also helped keep the boys a few days so that I could devote full, uninterrupted time to sewing. She also gave up her Saturday and Friday to be there at my booth with the encouragement that only mothers can give and I love her more for it.

My dear daddy also helped in his own special way. He came over a few days to help with the boys so that I again could have uninterrupted time to sew. He also loaded up that huge shelf and transported it to the show and back home. He devoted his whole Friday to help me set up my display along with staying to man the booth til my mother could get there. He is such a special daddy to have.

My sister, my friend. She, too, helped watch the boys a few days so that I could sew. She also gave some of her time to help set up my display. I was in such a frazzled state on Friday trying to set up and arrange my display. Tiffany came to the rescue. She has the gift of being able to "take over" and get it done. She, like my mother, can imagine in her mind and make it happen which is a gift that I do not have. She also gave most of her Saturday to help man the booth even when she had to work that evening.

My mother in law, Paula, gave up her Friday and Saturday to come over and keep the boys for me. It's nice to leave them with someone and not have to worry. There's definitely no bribing or begging to get her to come over. She's in the car and ready to come on the words "will you?".

Again, without each of these family members, I could not have done this. They each are so special and I am truly blessed to have them.

Until next time, HB

Friday, December 7, 2007

MeMe and Pappaw's Pride & Joy!

Last Friday, we took a visit to my sister's to me their new dog, UGA (blog regarding UGA to come later). The boys wanted some strawberry milk, so while Tiffany and I were fixing all the kids drinks we had the little ones on the countertop. Alex came in and decided to join...."kodak moment". So, here's to Meme and Pappaw...your pride and joy! They love you!

PS...Dad, make sure Mom sees this blog, please. You know she says she's from the "lipstick generations, not the internet generation".

Until next time, HB

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Power of Makeup

It's amazing what make-up can do for women. If you don't believe me, just look at the following pictures.

I got this through an email...thanks, Denise. Thought some might enjoy it, I'm sure there are others who won't find it quite as funny, oh well.

Monday, December 3, 2007

O' Christmas Tree, O' Christmas Tree

Don't you just love our tree? JB and the boys worked hard cutting it down, loading it, and getting it home. It's the tree of all tree's.

Seriously, this past Saturday, we dragged our artificial tree down from the the attic. We had forgotten last year just how small it looked in our vaulted ceiling den. We even had to put it on a table to elevate it to give it a little more height.

After looking at our "twig" of a tree, JB announced that we would venture out to look for a live tree. We went to a local tree farm, actually the same farm as the pumpkin patch in hopes of finding that perfect tree for our family. Our mission was accomplished with JB and the boys sawing down the tree we picked out. It is a Leland Cypress that stands about 6 to 7 feet tall.

So far, all we have put on it is lights, but that is what's the most impressive to the boys. They get up wanting to turn the "ights" on and don't dare turn them off before they go to bed.

I'll have to post the fully decorated tree later. But for now, at least we have a tree.

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.”~Larry Wilde

CB and JB ahead of BB and me trekking out to the trees.

Little Paul Bunyan's with their equipment on a mission to cut down the ultimate Christmas tree.
Little Paul Bunyan's in training.
Until next time, how lovely are your branches...HB

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The City of Lights

This past Thursday night, JB and I took the boys to see the Christmas lights attraction in a nearby town. It was very pretty and festive. There are 1000's of lights that light up the town square and its area stores. The boys enjoyed running around seeing the "ights". Christmas is gonna be fun this year as the boys have finally reached the age to notice the decorations, Christmas trees and the uniqueness that comes with this season. We have already enjoyed looking at the "ights" in our neighborhood and can't wait to explore again when more "ights" are blinking closer to Christmas.

A few more pictures follow, hope you enjoy.
“That quest for something pretty. Flowers and Christmas lights, it's what we're programmed to love.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk