Tis the first Monday of December and all through my house, nothing is wrapped or ready like I’d planned. You thought that was going to rhyme, right? Um, no – I was trying to instill a bit of holiday spirit in the midst of my home chaos. I didn’t get anything done that I’d planned . . . well, except for laundry. I did take the gifts we have already purchased out of the other room, so we could see what we still need to do, but that’s about as far as that went. I managed to go to the store to get cat food – Itty Bitty is grateful – and in a fit of laziness I picked up Chinese take-out rather than cooking. I know! How self-indulgent! I wanted to bake a batch of cookies and that didn’t fit in with taking the time to cook and clean-up. I have priorities you know! Oh, and happy news! I got a jury summons for this week and didn’t get called in for today. One down and four to go! Woohoo!
Verse of the Day
December 3, 2018
Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Thoughts on the Verse of the Day
We crave food at regular intervals during the day. During this holiday season food occupies our thoughts and fills up our activities. But deep in our soul is a hunger, a soul hunger. This hunger cannot be filled by food, drink, or chemicals. This hunger was the desire built into us by our Creator, placed there when he knit us together in our mother’s womb. This hunger can only be satiated by Jesus.
History of Christmas Traditions
Mistletoe . . . we see it in all of the Christmas movies, hanging over doorways with a couple caught under it at the same time awkwardly kiss at the realization that it is there. Because we have been raised with the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, many of us don’t question where the tradition started, or why. I was curious though, and I’m sure at least a few of you are too. Here’s what I found out! It’s really interesting!
Mistletoe was considered to be sacred by the Norse, the Celtic Druids and the North American Indians. The Druid priests would cut mistletoe from an oak tree with a sickle made of gold, with the branches needing to be caught before they could touch the ground. The branches would be divided into many sprigs and handed out to the people, who would hang them over their doorways as a protection against evils, including thunder and lightning. It was thought that if you placed a sprig in a baby’s cradle that it would protect the baby from goblins, and that giving a sprig to the first cow to have a calf after New Year would protect the whole herd! It is also a symbol for peace and joy! In the ancient times of the Druids, whenever enemies met under the mistletoe in the forest, they had to put down their weapons and keep truce until the next day. This is where the custom of hanging a ball of mistletoe from the ceiling and kissing under it started, as a show of friendship and goodwill. So, while all of this “scandal” rolls through the country with everyone bringing up “harassment” from many years gone by, even dragging being kissed under the mistletoe into it as a potential harassment hazard, keep in mind that this is a tradition that goes back for centuries and that the original intent was peace and good-will, even between enemies.
So, what exactly IS mistletoe? Well, mistletoe is a parasitical plant that doesn’t have roots of its own and lives off of the tree that it is attached to. If it didn’t have that tree, it would die. It was thought to be sacred by ancient Europeans. It was used by the Druids in their sacrifices to the gods, and the Celtic people thought it had miraculous healing powers. The name for mistletoe in the Celtic language even means “all-heal”. They thought it rendered poisons harmless, made humans and animals prolific, kept them safe from witchcraft and even protected their homes from ghosts! With ALL of those amazing abilities they also thought the plant brought good luck to anyone who had some.
There is a beautiful story that the Norsemen had about mistletoe. The story goes that mistletoe was the sacred plant of Frigga, the goddess of love and the mother of Balder, who was the god of the summer sun. Balder had a dream about death, which frightened his mother, because if he died then all life on earth would end. To keep this from happening she went right away to air, fire, water, earth to every animal and plant, to get them to promise that no harm would come to her son. Now Balder couldn’t be hurt by anything on earth, or under the earth. Balder did have one enemy though. Loki, the god of evil, knew of one plant that Frigga hadn’t thought of in her quest to keep her son safe from harm. It did not grow on the earth, or under it, but on apple and oak trees. It was the mistletoe. Loki made an arrow tip of the mistletoe and gave it to the blind god of winter, Hoder. Hoder shot it, striking Balder dead. The sky went pale, and all things in heaven and earth cried for the sun god. For three days each element tried to bring him back to life. Finally, Frigga restored him. The tears she cried for her son turned into the pearly white berries that are on the mistletoe plant and being full of joy, she kissed everyone who passed under the tree on which it was growing. The story ends with a decree that anyone who stands under the mistletoe would come to no harm. They would just get a token of love, a kiss.
It was a natural transition to translate the spirit of this myth into a Christian way of thinking and to accept the mistletoe as a symbol of that great Love that conquers Death. Mistletoe’s medicinal properties, whether they are real or imaginary, make it perfectly emblematic of the Tree of Life, the leaves representing the healing of the nations, which parallels it to the Virgin Birth of Christ.
Later, during the eighteenth-century, the English gave mistletoe credit for magical romance, instead of healing powers. A kissing ball was made with the mistletoe and at Christmas time a young lady who found herself standing under a ball of it; brightly decorated with evergreens, ribbons and ornaments, could not refuse to be kissed. If nobody kissed her then she could not expect to marry during the following year. Whether or not we believe in the magic, it does make it fun to hang it up at Christmas time.
National Make A Gift Day – Hit your kitchen today and whip up a present your pals will really enjoy: a homemade gift! I usually make batches of cookies to give to friends and family, but sometimes I also make crafty things. I have a couple of ideas that I need to start on this week for the people I love. Bonus: Skip crowded parking lots and online shipping fees.
National Roof Over Your Head Day – As you sit in your home or office reading stories, reading this blog post, watching TV, or happily baking treats for Christmas, take a look around you. What do you see? Do you see your home, four walls and a roof, decorated with your belongings in such a way that makes it uniquely yours? Do you feel warm and secure when you enter your doors? Do you feel gratitude every moment of every day that you are so blessed to have a home where you are warm, dry and cozy? It is so sad that not everyone is as fortunate as we are. There are many homeless people right in our own communities, people who live in their cars, in cardboard boxes right on the street, or find a place to curl up in doorways of businesses or in parks. There are homeless shelters, but not enough beds available in them to cover the need. We, as a society, have all seen the homeless people who are in their predicament for a variety of reasons – sometimes health related, drugs or alcohol abuse, loss of their livelihood, etc. Every story is unique and different, every person valuable and special in God’s eyes, whether they live in a home, or in a box. Please today, take the time to appreciate all of the blessings you have been given, raise your eyes to heaven and thank God that you are not worried about where you will place your head tonight as you go to sleep. Say a prayer for those who are braving the elements, and if you are so inclined, please donate to a local homeless shelter, soup kitchen or other organization that dedicates their work to helping the homeless. We are blessed, so let us share the blessings we have been given, for we never know when we may be in need of such sharing for ourselves.
Food Celebration of the Day –
National Peppermint Latte Day – Oooooh, this is one I celebrate every morning! I have a café latte machine and make one to drink before work, and another to take with me. It’s delicious, soothing and WONDERFUL on a cold morning! You can make a delicious Peppermint Latte by making no sugar chocolate syrup (google any chocolate syrup recipe and substitute a natural no-sugar/no chemical sweetener for the sugar. I use Swerve.) add a few drops of peppermint extract. YUM!
I need to make a to-do list for every night of this week. I’d truly like to get my Christmas things done early enough to be able to enjoy the rest of the time baking cookies, going out to see the lights and just absorbing the reason for the season. What are your goals for this Christmas time? I’d like to know! I need to run . . . so have a great day! God bless you and I’ll see you tomorrow.
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Celebration list sources: