26 Days ‘til Christmas……. Why the 25th?

Wiki suggests “One theory to explain the choice of 25 December for the celebration of the birth of Jesus is that the purpose was to Christianize the pagan festival in Rome of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means “the birthday of the Unconquered Sun”, a festival inaugurated by the Roman emperor Aurelian (270–275) to celebrate the sun god and celebrated at the winter solstice, 25 December. According to this theory, during the reign of the emperor Constantine, Christian writers assimilated this feast as the birthday of Jesus, associating him with the ‘sun of righteousness’.” And since Jesus is the “Son” of God I found this interesting.

Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity. These elements, including the Yule log from Yule and gift giving from Saturnalia, became syncretized into Christmas over the centuries.

The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336AD, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.

Love history, the research on this was endless. It is non the less a day to celebrate Christianity, love of God and his only Son, Jesus, and all he brings to this earth. AMEN


27 Days ‘til Christmas… Hanging the Christmas stockings

Hanging the stockings by the fireplace is not your only option. They can add a little Christmas to any room and are such an easy and inexpensive decoration to add.

This year while scavenging around the house, I located some rhinestone vintage pins that were sitting in the jewelry box. I had used the butterfly pin in the wedding bouquet at my daughter’s wedding in October. Spending a good percentage of my life in Texas, I come with a bit of bling. If it doesn’t shine and sparkle, well what is the point! So I added the rhinestone pin to my velvet Christmas stocking, made a velvet ribbon with long tails and fastened them to the center windows. I then stuffed the stockings (of course until they can be filled with surprises on Christmas Eve) with tissue paper to hold their shape. Now I have an elegant addition to the stockings and new placement from the traditional fireplace location.

“And the stocking were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there”

I’m thinking the window would be a safer option for Santa this year. He probably gets tired of all that soot.

28 days ‘til Christmas…. The boomerang

I am so glad I can officially look ridiculous with my Christmas music in the background and house filled with happy elves and Santa’s as my backdrop. Who set the rule that you can only decorate after Thanksgiving when it falls so close to December, it just isn’t fair. I will forever have jingle bells in my step, and socks and a Santa hat, red sweaters and my green boots.

I was in Normal Heights (funny name for an area of San Diego) last night listening to music at Java Joes with a fairly eclectic crowd of musicians. One of the songs was called boomerang. It struck me as a great idea for this morning’s blog. I’m feeling compelled to complete this season with the sense of us as a community and caring and sharing. Decorating of course is my talent and creates the ambiance of beautiful traditions, but my hope is that Christmas is really about people.

There was a time in the not too distant past I was, shall we say, in a super bad place. Tearful most days, I was reluctant to feel anything but sad. I was chatting on the phone with a friend and she stopped me mid sentence and said, “Kerri, do what you do best, help kids find jobs, find a place to give of yourself, this will drive you to happiness.” She was right. I would like to call this the boomerang effect, because from that day forward kids came out of the woodwork seeking help and I became very passionate to help them; landing jobs for 10 kids in an eight month timeframe. I was being crushed on the inside, but my heart was blessed from these kids and the act of giving great for the soul. So here is the most magical thing that happened. My movement of caring for others came back to me in gifts of unimaginable love. It got to the point I would look up and say, “Ok, that was a good one, God!” the gifts were that obvious. Was I always so unaware of my surroundings? So what they say truly does exist. What you give, you get back and this my friends is the boomerang effect.

The Holidays can be difficult for so many. Open your hearts, your mind and your front doors. The possibility of a better world exists right outside in our own communities. If we are only present enough to give.

29 Days ‘til Christmas… the Thanksgiving Feast

As I stepped on the scales (big mistake) I shuttered to think of all the food I ate. I am cowering a minimal calorie intake and ramping up the exercise today. Mt. Soladad was slow and painful. No rain, wind or earthquake was going to keep me from going on that walk. Colleen and I meet at 7am three times a week and venture to one of the most beautiful spots in the world, a 360 degree view of San Diego. Breathtaking we see ocean, mountains, the bay and downtown. I am not missing that walk or cycle ride until I shed this weight!

It had been awhile since I pulled out the baking goods and was pleased to see that I was having a blast mixing the dough and preparing the filling for the pecan tarts. Bill was unable to make the trek down from Temecula as he was sick, so I started my day early. Unfortunately me and everyone else in town forgot an ingredient or two.

As a transplant, my sweet friends welcomed me to their homes and traditions. My only daughter, Blair, is spending it with the new in-laws, so sunny San Diego is where I stayed. Spreading the day out, I visited Maureen’s family for the first time. The fire was crackling when I arrived and her kids and husband a delight to finally meet. Next, I spent my 3rd annual Thanksgiving with Perry’s family and all the grown up kids. Loud laughter and stories abound. Later that afternoon I settled down to spend a quaint evening with Erica and new friends as we feasted gourmet and lifted a glass or two in celebration of the season, our friendship and the most amazing meal on the planet. It’s the kind of day you want to last forever. Cheers to you and yours and hope that it was filled with the warmth of friends and great food and memories.

30 Days ‘til Christmas…. Ice skating days of old

I know you think this is a silly notion. Can we really manage to stand on a pair of skates and race around a rink at our age??? Can our ankles stand up to the thin metal base between us and the ice? Do we look completely ridiculous lacing up the magic we are about to experience? Well of course we look ridiculous and yes bending down to lace up those skates can seem a little ackward, but “why not” is the motto I live by. It was such a grand part of the winter holidays. I just can’t shake this fond memory.

Exploring those pleasures that we experienced as a child can be a great way to bring back the days of old. Since I turned 56 two years ago I have learned to surf, paddle board, been kayaking and this past weekend, found the rink I want to skate on. It is located in this little piece of heaven town, Alpine, California. It’s so great to jump in the SUV and head east away from the beach towards the mountains (feels more holiday after spending years skiing in Colorado). I am hoping to catch a glimpse of snow this year, it has been too long. Last weekend I also collected more pinecones that I scattered throughout the house in celebration of this Christmas season.

This rink is outdoors which cracks me up when the temperatures are in the 70’s. It is touted as the largest outdoor rink in the country, impressive. So I was thrilled to stand on this massive patch of ice. The rink was opening in a few hours, so I had to sneak out on it to get the full effect. I could not have been more excited.

I can remember as a child huddling in the warm hut trying to bring back feeling in my toes and fingers it was so cold in Iowa. I can see the potbelly stove and smell the lingering fire that created heat for our chilled bodies. Once unfrozen, it was a race to get back on the ice to enjoy the thrill of gliding on the ice. There were 3 patches of ice and wonderment that we visited as kids. Dad built a rink in the back yard which made us very popular in the neighborhood. Depending on the winter, it was built in December and we skated through most of January. Or we would all load into dad’s pick up truck bed and he would drop us off in back of the brick factory off the Des Moines river. There laid the most beautiful pond. We would bring hot dogs and hot chocolate, build a fire and skate the day away. Middle school had a rink so that was a great meeting place for all of us skaters. I remember the Monte and Cody, Mark, Greg, Kim and my twin and I meeting in the cool crisp winter evenings.

Can’t wait to hit the ice, let the wind blow past me as I glide around the rink. My youthful thinking will sustain the pain in my ankles. I will turn and skate backwards and try the spins on the ice I thought I had perfected as a child. I will be Dorothy Hamill once again. And hopefully when I fall it will be graceful and with laughter and no tears. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

31 Days ‘til Christmas…Turkey and Gobble Gobble Gobble

I can smell the turkey and fixin’s already. Mom would have been busy with baking pies and the special breads would have been prepared weeks ago and placed in the freezer. Pumpkin, datenut and banana breads were the assortment in a spread of more food than anyone could possibly consume. I’m a mashed potato freak, so I will have to be careful not to embarrass myself with too many servings. Control is a difficult word for me. But then when I think about it there is also turkey legs, yum, the cranberry sauce, the brussel sprouts, green bean casserole, prime rib, gravy and lets not forget the pies. I am seriously in trouble just thinking about it! Control. Control. Control.

Our family of six plus back in the day would fill the table. With the variety of ages, there were always guests or “orphans’ that needed a place to go for Thanksgiving. I believe we all still pass on this tradition of extended family! I am thankful for friends as I participate as one of the orphans this year. Bill, my friend from high school of all things, will explore two fabulous gourmet Thanksgiving feasts with me here in La Jolla. Both transplants from Iowa, we reminisce about days of ice skating, doing donuts in cars on ponds frozen over and throwing snowballs in mischief. I hope that Bill is up for a bit of exercise, I just can’t see missing a single bite this Thanksgiving. I am preparing two pecan tarts, a new recipe fresh from last weeks cooking class. Tis the season to bake, and I am ready. The other super cool part of this year’s holiday will be taking in others traditions, enjoying new recipes, table settings and introductions to new friends that may someday become old friends.

Of course, this is a blog about decorating for Christmas. Yes, I am completely decked out in Christmas décor. I spent the usual week of fretting over what to add and delete. I believe every inch of the cottage is thankfully cluttered in this seasons cheer. I started last night with my first dinner guest. It was so fun to see the garlands and Christmas tree glitter and to light my many candles to set the ambiance for the evening. Open a bottle of bubbly and start to spread joy this holiday season in the giving of each other. It is the memories of being with friends and family that bring us the greatest happiness. And remember to control yourself as you Gobble Gobble Gobble this Thanksgiving!


Merry Christmas!

Christmas day starts with breakfast. After everyone slips on their robe and creates a grand cup of java, we migrate to the refrigerator to pull out the staples of the meal.

The table is set with special care with garlands twinkling around the window making the room magical. A run to the grocery store for the indulgence of cute donuts has created a stir. Mr. Grinch, Frosty and the Christmas wreath are displayed on a tray. The creative effort of the pastry chef leaves us laughing. Christmas music belts out “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” while a gentle rain runs by the coast only lingering long enough to wet the surface of the sidewalks.

Christmas morning is a time to unwrap presents and share special surprises that we have thoughtfully purchased. Later in the afternoon we will gather for party with my California cousins and the evening we will attend dinner at our friends home.

Have a very Merry Christmas to you, your family and friends. May your day be filled with the joy this season has to offer and may you have a very blessed 2015 New Year.

Christmas Eve

In celebration of Christmas, my added bonus is that I was born on Christmas Eve and I have a twin sister. Because we often times celebrate the holidays with family, the day has become what traditionally we felt as “left forgotten” but now an excellent day to have a birthday as we now spend it together. Our family is large and we live in various places around the country, I am usually the furthest away so this is a plus to be able to see them.

So what is this day’s significance? Christmas Eve around the world has traditionally included the gathering of family and friends, the singing of Christmas carols, the illumination and enjoyment of Christmas lights, trees, and other decorations, the wrapping and/or opening of gifts, and general preparation for Christmas Day. Legendary Christmas gift-bearing figures including Santa Claus, Father Christmas, and Saint Nicholas are also often said to depart for their annual journey to deliver presents to children around the world on Christmas Eve. My bonus is I get to open the first present!!!

This year my birthday celebration was spent with very special friends, such a beautiful treat to be here in lovely Southern California!

May the special pleasures and surprises of the season adorn you this holiday and in the New Year.

2 Days until Christmas: Getting Ready for Guests, Remembering Friends

Anticipation for company and getting the last details together definitely has me scrambling. A note has been left on the guest bed and a little present to let my friend know that I appreciate her effort to fly in for the holidays. The guest bed has a large garland draped behind and I have Christmas bulbs dangling from the ceiling.

There are a few more little presents to wrap, a grocery store run and cleaning up from my messes to put my house back in order. I have been up early in the flurry of everything that needs to be done today.

My mind races as I prepare other small gifts to neighbors and friends. I am making a conscience decision to let a few people know I appreciate so much that they have done for me throughout the year.

Christmas is a time for us to stop and consider how fortune we are and to let those special people in our lives know that we appreciate them. The giving of a Christmas card or a phone call to wish them a very Merry Christmas, perhaps a bottle of bubbly or homemade jam are the ways I hope to bring joy to others this season.

3 Days until Christmas: The Gift of Ourselves, being “Present”

Often times “present” is a gift, but what if the gift was ourselves being “present” in the moment. Rather than shop on Christmas day or spend hours cooking and cleaning or watching endless TV, consider spending time with each other. Linger over a simple breakfast in night robes.

When opening packages, enjoy each person as they unwrap a gift. Take turns sharing funny stories of Christmas’s past. To extend the enjoyment of gift giving, we do scavenger hunts to find presents . This involves a lot of hilarity and fun to see everyone trying to figure out a clue. We race from place to place in anticipation of finding the gift. Many times these gifts are super simple and silly.

One of my favorite traditions on Christmas Day is to play games or cards. Such a fun activity for everyone to participate. Pull out the classics like Life, Uno, Jenga, Dominos, Clue and Monopoly. Trivial Pursuit can really be a fun way to engage the crowd, even if that crowd is small.

Today take the time to make an effort to be present in the moment with family and friends. Savor the time together. Linger longer than planned and share a story. Phone a friend and wish them a Merry Christmas.