Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Joy Blog Hop



Over at Liz's Random Ponderings, To celebrate her 100th post, she decided to have a Christmas Blog Hop to talk about your favourite Christmas tradition, memory, gifts given or received, carol/song and/or why you celebrate Christmas. I love Christmas so thought this is perfect to partake in this blog hop.

I am Canadian, my father was Canadian but he always said that my mom, his wife (obviously) brought Christmas to him. Before that, he was a single man who went to the relatives and drank shots of whiskey. My mom changed all of this by bringing traditions that were handed down from her mom and her mom before her. My mom grew up in Germany-Wittenberg, Germany to be exact, where she and her siblings were always part of the Christmas play. My mom was always an angel as well as her older sister. Her one brother was the shepherd and her other brother was one of the 3 kings..a short king but a king nevertheless:)

They did not see the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve and it was decorated with hand-blown glass, candles and tinsel (lead tinsel which I have). In her province (Saxon-Anhalt), St. Nicholaus did not come with the creepy Krampus like it is done in Bavaria, but he came with an Angel. The shoes were polished up on Dec. 5th and placed out for St. Nicholas to place chocolate and candy in the shoes. If you were naughty, you got a potato.

The Christmas season started with the first of Advent where a wreath hung from the ceiling and 4 candles were on top of the wreath. Each Sunday they lit a candle until the 4th Sunday where all the candles were lit. They would have a little Christmas cookie or chocolate or Christmas Stollen which my Oma made. My mom fondly remembers travelling through the snow to go to the nearby baker to have the Stollen baked (it was too big for the regular oven). Going back home, the sleigh, my Oma pulled, had the freshly baked stollen on it and my mom and her brothers and sister could smell it and could hardly wait to get home and try a piece.

My mom's grandfather told them that St. Nicholas's reindeer would be very hungry so they would need to make sure plenty of hay was left out for the reindeer to eat. My mom and the rest would put all the hay out for the reindeer and Christmas morning, it was all gone. My mom always felt happy that the reindeer were fed. Later on she realized her poor Opa was out there bringing all the hay back into the barn.

The Christmas market in the town's square would be on during the whole season and it would be so much fun to walk and look at all the pretty stalls and see what was created whether it was something baked or something to hang on the tree.

Since my mom always celebrated Christmas Eve, that is when they received all the gifts. She always got a new dress her mother had made for her along with a hat, scarf and mittens. Each of them received a whole orange and some special chocolates that my  mom savoured. One year, my mom received a complete doll house with all the furniture done exactly like the home she lived in. Her father built the whole thing. It was one of her treasures.

All this, she brought with her to my dad and she created Christmas for him and for us. We would go to Mass that Christmas Eve and then, after, we opened all our gifts. We never opened them on Christmas Day. I now make my own Advent wreath, decorate my home with garlands, Santas, other decor plus, the Christmas village and the Nativity. Say what you will, but Christmas is not just for kids. I may not be religious but it is CHRISTmas and despite this holiday being taken from a pagan festival, we now celebrate the birth of Jesus who did actually exist. People can dispute whether he is the saviour or not, but no matter what, he has changed the world.  It is not about Disney characters and what the kids want. It is about peace, joy and good will to all men ( that means women too-I never take offense to that)

My Christmas tree has coloured lights (no candles-not liking a fire), a variety of ornaments from glass blown ones to the eggs my mom made and I hang the tinsel, one at a time, on the tree. I play Christmas music from traditional German carols to the Bonanza Christmas album my father bought back in 1962 or 1963. Christmas would not be the same without that album. My mom, being an OCD German, taught us well and we never (I mean we really don't) rip the Christmas paper. I cringe every time I see beautiful paper being torn up. We take time and slowly undo the paper and have a box for paper, a box for bows and a bag for some garbage. I have paper from when I was a kid! I plan to use it in a scrapbook I want to make.

Christmas is special and it does not mean to break the bank, complain about what you didn't get and gorge your stomach with turkey, it is about family, peace and love. I wish people would remember all that and not go out on Boxing Day which should be a holiday (used to be in Canada) to fight for crap and exchange things. Take another day, sit back and enjoy. I do love every moment of it while I look at a book, take a sip of wine, enjoy listening to Christmas music while I look at the tree, think of my mom and dad and gives kisses to my hubby, our 5 cats and our doggie, Wallace.

Thank you mom, for giving Christmas to all of us. You are in long term care and don't get excited like you used to for Christmas but you still give me joy.


My Nativity scene


My Christmas tree with the tinsel hung one by one


My Advent wreath that I make every year


An egg (chicken) my mom created with St. Nicholas pulling a sleigh (she made the interiors)


My Christmas village  the upper left, partly cut out, is my local Cathouse, as every village should have one. I bought these for under $3 and painted them all. The last few my hubby painted also.

Now for one Christmas song that is one of my favourites-Merry Christmas!



54 comments:

  1. Hi, Birgit!
    I enjoyed the story of your Christmas celebration history. I, too, love to decorate with garlands and this year my husband and I are eating dinner at the table with Advent readings and candled wreath! We open gifts on Christmas Eve too.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!
    Mary

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    1. Thank you! It is such a special time

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  2. Wow, your German traditions with Christmas sound enchanting! And magical.
    Don't blame you for not wanting to set the tree on fire now though.

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    1. It really is enchanting and I have been blessed

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  3. Hi, dear Birgit!

    Bless your mother for bringing Christmas into your life. I believe that Christmas traditions are important to families because they focus on the true meaning of the holiday. In the course of my lifetime I have seen us drift far afield in the ways you mentioned. You can become intoxicated by the glut of material possessions to the point that the effect is toxic to your soul. Thank you for sharing your memories of Christmases past and pictures of your holiday decorations in the present. I hope your mother will experience the joy of Christmas and I wish the same for you as well, dear friend.

    Please join me in remembering the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Three years after the deadly attack that took their lives, my heart still aches for their parents, brothers and sisters.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. I have already lit a candle for the people whose lives have changed forever. The people left behind, parents, siblings, loved ones are still suffering and I pray that they can find some way to adapt because this is something they will never get over.

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  4. I'm the single guy who takes the cats and goes home, everything done for me lol not just for kids indeed. Uggg to stupid boxing day, haven't people got enough? Nope, as they go and try and get more and more.

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    1. Lucky you! I avoid going anywhere on the 26th..it is not needed

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  5. Oh I love the line about your mom that she still gives you joy :) She indeed did give you and your family wonderful traditions that will continue to live on in the years ahead :) So true about so much you wrote about the meaning of Christmas too. You truly were blessed (and I know you know this) with the traditions your mom did with Christmas :)

    betty

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    1. Oh I was and my brother as well. I know that I had a Christmas and continue to have a Christmas that many people wish for..I am blessed

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  6. They left out hay for the reindeer! That's so wonderful. My mother is also very careful with Christmas paper and I remember using the same sheets year after year. They became part of the tradition along with the ornaments.

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    1. They did and her poor Grandfather (my great granddad) had to haul it all back in-He loved to do it though as it gave him joy

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  7. Thanks for sharing those photos - Merry Christmas!

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  8. What super traditions! Great memories, Birgit. Have a wonderful Christmas.

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  9. Thanks for sharing such wonderful traditions! My kids would go crazy over that beautiful Christmas village. Merry Christmas!

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  10. Our Christmas is also all about family, giving thanks and being together. Our kids love our traditions and I hope they make their own someday like you have in a way that suits their families.

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    1. Wonderfully put and so great to keep traditions going plus add new ones

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  11. I love reading about Christmas traditions different from the ones I'm familiar with. Take care, and thanks for sharing.

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  12. What lovely traditions! And wise words about all the materialism, I hate that too.

    Strangely, I had never heard of the Krampus until tonight when I read about it in another blog, and now in yours. Definitely not one to envy.....

    Have a wonderful Christmas.

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    1. Yes, on December 5th, in the evening, St. Nicholas comes to each person's home to give out candy etc.. to good boys and girls but if they are bad they get a potato or coal. In my mom's region, he came with an angel but in Bavaria he came with an evil devil-looking thing called Krampus. In Holland St. Nicholas came on a boat with Black Peter(Yup...talk about traditions coming from the slave trade-yuck!) who is a young man holding a lantern

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  13. Lead tinsel, really Birgit? You sure know the traditions. When Christmas day arrives at our house eyes greedily size up the presents. However a sense of sobriety before the festive celebrations takes precedence. TBH we rip the wrapping off the presents, I know its sinful but hey what do you expect? I'm a redshirt used to living dangerously. I loved the one about feeding the reindeer. God bless Moms everywhere this Christmas. They really are irreplaceable treasures.

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    1. The tinsel has weight to it! It never harmed us and we knew to wash our hands after. Oh the poor paper:) I love that my great grandfather did this.

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  14. I love your mom's stories, Birgit. I can imagine her telling them to you when you were young. That's pretty cool that you still have wrapping paper from your childhood. Dick inherited his mom's stash. After 12 years, we can see the bottom of the box. I've taken to patchwork the paper when I gift wrap presents for people who deserve his mom's wrapping paper. Your post inspired me to join the blog hop. Hop, hop, hop. :-)

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  15. What very special memories. Thanks for sharing. Hugs

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  16. Really enjoyed reading this special post. What lovely & lasting traditions your sweet Mother has handed down to you. Her family truly understood what the celebration is in honor of. It IS the birthday of Christ, whether it came from Pagan festivals or not...it became a Christian day. Whether Christian or not. ALL people can celebrate peace, kindness & love for each other..which is what Christ taught us. One of my pet peeves is when I see the word "Xmas"...as I was taught as a child, when it's written that way, it takes Christ out of Christmas. It's wonderful when each generation can appreciate the traditions of the previous ones, and hand them on down through the ages, adding in some new ones of their own. Thanks for sharing yours with us in this post. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, TFS & Hugs too. (we were taught to not waste the papers & ribbons as well).

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    1. Thank you for saying what you said:) We really need to celebrate all this and more. We can learn from other religions too because they also talk of peace and love they just celebrate in a different way. My mom is special

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  17. What great traditions.

    We do sort of celebrate December 26th. Because my parents split, we split the holiday. Dad does Christmas with his wife's family on the 24th and us on the 26th. And since the birth of my eldest nephew, that day gets another celebration. (Eeek, he turns 10 this year!)

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    1. When families split then it just means Christmas last longer:) I hope your nephew doesn't feel he is gypped because his birthday is at Christmas time. My Aunt (my mom's sister) always felt that way. They grow up fast-my niece is 20!

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  18. What a lovely description of Christmas traditions in your family. I love angels and make an angel painting for each Christmas. Thank you for sharing so much!!!

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    1. My mom had an angel tree! When she lived with me she decorated her tree with Creche angels, birds and white lights

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  19. Those are lovely memories, Birgit.

    Love,
    Janie

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  20. Such lovely stories of Christmas traditions! My grandma and mom would always make us keep the wrapping paper, bows, and even gift tags, does that come from German culture (we have German ancestry)? You have beautiful decorations. We used to have some glass-blown ornaments and lots of tinsel when I was a kid :)

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    1. It could be! Germans can be disciplined and without much money especially during and after the war years so saving makes sense. Glad you enjoyed reading this

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  21. So, Boxing Day IS about punching each other? I'll have to inform Rocky.
    Seriously, what a beautiful set of traditions. You do Christmas right.
    I plan on posting "A Penwasser Christmas" this weekend. It's a repost, but from 2013, so you haven't read it.

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    1. I will enjoy reading it and yes, Rocky would get pummeled.

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  22. Okay, I got too excited and couldn't wait for the weekend. Part I of "A Penwasser Christmas" will be posted Thursday.

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  23. I loved every word of this post, Birgit. Thanks for sharing your beautiful Christmas decorations - they're gorgeous.

    My mom is Scandinavian, and I always enjoy hearing about how her family used to celebrate Christmas. We still make a big deal over the stockings - every little gift is wrapped and we open them one by one (and yes, we're all adults. I don't think Christmas should only be for kids, either).

    Growing up, my mom didn't have very much, but her father was a great storyteller. Sometimes he would make up little poems that gave clues so she could find her gifts. Since I'm the writer in the family now, I did that for my parents once. It was fun. Hid my dad's gift in the barbecue. :D

    Merry Christmas!

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    1. That is so wonderful to create a game and make it extra exciting to find the gifts. Great tradition

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  24. A cathouse in your village...heh heh

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  25. I like the wreath!
    I can't imagine having lit candles on the tree. Fire hazard!

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    1. Germans did it all the time and some still do I think....nuts!

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  26. Hi darling, how are you today?AMAZING DECORATIONS I love this, another great post.
    Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Check out my new post if you're interested:
    http://its-dominica.blogspot.co.uk/
    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

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  27. Birgit, I really enjoyed reading about your grandmother and mother's memories. What a delightful post! It's kinda ironic because tomorrow I'm sharing a Christmas Stollen recipe that I made for the first time. I hope you'll stop by and let me know what suggestions you might have. The Christmas joy leaped out at me viewing the photos of your home decorated so festively and you were point on about savoring Christmas. Total appreciation for what we've been given, instead of complaints for what we didn't get and anxious to hit the store the day after should be the furthest things from our minds. Keeping Christ in Christmas is the most important thing and everything else in its proper place. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year, my friend!

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    1. I will be interested in your Stollen:) Thank you for the kind post

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  28. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Birgit. Beautiful traditions endure forever. This Saturday we are having a Carol Service at our church. As always, the German community is participating and Stollen will be served after. There'll be mince pies from the English, Banketstaaf from the Dutch, our local Bolo de Rei and yummy Swedish Glogg to wash it down. Everyone bringing their traditions and customs... beautiful...and undeniably delish! I'll be thinking of you as I tuck into the Stollen. :)
    x Asha

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    1. That sounds like a wonderful day you have planned! Enkoy the stollen and Glogg:)

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