Category Archives: Holidays

Mother’s Day – A Tribute to American Moms

 

The story begins in 1908 ~ over 100 years ago.  The West Virginia countryside was blooming with colorful wild flowers on the hillsides.  In a little country church, Ms. Anna Reeves Jarvis, surrounded by the sights and sounds with which she grew up, caused the first Mother’s Day Sunday to be observed.

Her own mother had passed away two years before, but the memory lived on. Just one year following the mother’s death; her still-bereaved daughter announced her intentions of founding a day to pay tribute to America’s moms.

A year of persuading Philadelphia civic leaders ensued led by the reigning American merchant, John Wanamaker, to back her crusade. Politicians, business leaders, educators and others joined the movement.

What had been a “good try,” however, fell of its own weight: the concept was too sophisticated for the societal position of mothers and women in general. Despite the international leadership and sponsorship, women crusading for peace in the world never could be in the environment of that day. It took sons, daughters, parents and friends all over the nation to give new life and enthusiasm to Mother’s Day.

In 1913, the U.S. Congress, by joint resolution made Mother’s Day a national holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first official announcement proclaiming the second Sunday in May a national holiday.

Today Mother’s Day is observed across the seas and in more than 100 countries of the developed world. It has an avalanche of acceptance.

Jarvis was generations ahead of her time in her view of feminism. Today 75 percent of all mothers with children under the age of 5 work outside the home at least some part of the week. In fact, more women than men are enrolled in college.

Women practice medicine, law, engineering, teaching,e politics and social work — every profession and skill once dominated solely by men.

To all mothers who provide a safe, happy and healthy haven for our next generation –

 A Happy Mother’s Day to all on Sunday, May 8th!

Marie Coppola Revised April 16, 2016

Ref:  National Mother’s Day Committee

Remember April Fool’s Day?

 

How did April Fool’s Day Get Started?   Why is April 1st – April Fool’s Day?

Some people lie in wait to “trick” or ‘surprise’ their friends and family with some made-up tale or joke.  Some get away with it all day and others see it coming and know it’s an April Fool’s joke.  How did this all come about? There are many theories, but the majority of them center around the Calendar-Change Theory.

The most popular theory about the origin of April Fool’s Day involves the French calendar reform of the sixteenth century. The theory goes like this: “In 1564 France reformed its calendar, moving the start of the year from the end of March to January 1. Those who failed to keep up with the change, who stubbornly clung to the old calendar system and continued to celebrate the New Year during the week that fell between March 25th and April 1st, had jokes played on them. Pranksters would surreptitiously stick paper fish to their backs. The victims of this prank were thus called Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish—which, to this day, remains the French term for April Fools—and so the tradition was born.” [Ref: Museum of Hoaxes]

Children and young adults have loved  to play these first day of April jokes on people – sometimes all through the day – so you never know what is a joke and what is true.

I thought April Fool’s Day would be a good day to share with all of you some titles of articles that I am thinking of writing…..it’s up to you to decide if I’m telling the truth or giving the day its due and April fooling you.   Are  these  real Articles or April Fool’s?

“How to Text a Message While Having Your Teeth Cleaned”.

“How to Make Cell Phone Calls from Prison”.

“Product Review of Foods that are Past their Expiration Dates”.

“How to Secretly Give Your Depression Away to Someone Else”.

“How to Make a Memorable Shopping Experience with a Very Small Child Who Didn’t Have a Nap”.”

“How to Fix Your Hair After Accidentally Spray-Starching It.”.

“How to Get your Pet Skunk to Make Breakfast for you in the Morning”.

“Assembling a Space Shuttle in your Backyard Shed”.

“Places to Travel on Vacation From Where You May Never Return”.

“Why Our Marriage Works Even Though we Live on Different Continents”

“How to Make a Nuclear Bomb From Things Around the House”.

“How to Cheat at Bingo”.

“DIY Medical/Surgical Procedures To Practice at Home”.

“Sure-Fire Ways to Annoy or Aggravate your HOA”

“Book Review: “Plastic Surgery for Dummies”

“How to Invite  Liberals & Conservatives to a ‘Share Feelings Quietly’ meeting.”

Marie Coppola Revised March 2018

Easter Blessings Twitter Readers

"Wherever or whenever you are experiencing darkness of the soul, Jesus is there, a Light shining in darkness.   We need not see and believe, but instead we have the opportunity to believe and see."   Blessings for a Light-filled Easter.   He Lives!

“Easter, when delight was turned to disappointment and disappointment was turned to delight. Surely Satan and the forces of evil must have thought they had won the great battle. If the forces of evil could have danced, surely they must have been dancing in the streets. They thought they had killed the Son of God.

Darkness seemed to have been reigning supreme from the time when Judas and an armed crowd, came to arrest Jesus under the cloak of darkness. Darkness provided the cover for the evil intentions of those persecuting Jesus but also for the shameful abandonment of Jesus by his disciples. Even Peter had to slink away into the darkness to hide his shame.

How the forces of evil must have rejoiced as “from noon onward there was darkness over the whole land,” until at last Jesus “gave up his spirit.” How they must have believed that this darkness was just a foretaste of the spiritual darkness which would envelope the earth unabated by the Light of the World. But God had another plan and turned their delight to disappointment.

While darkness still seemed to reign, Mary Magadalene and her companions, and later Peter and John, came “while it was still dark” only to find an empty tomb. Disappointment upon disappointment, or so it seemed at first. But when they realized that the face cloth was separate from the other burial wrappings, a ray of hope and light pierced the darkness, never to be extinguished again. Rather, it was a ray of hope and light which was to grow in brilliance as Christ’s resurrection became known and its meaning understood. Praise God, disappointment is now turned to delight!

“The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits’, the ‘pioneer of life’. He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.” (C.S. Lewis, from Miracles)

Christ’s arrest, suffering, death, burial and resurrection introduced a new creation, a new life that has not only escaped the bonds of death but also the chains of enslavement to our natural passions and their subsequent evil behavior. With Jesus’ resurrection comes power to live differently. Jesus introduces a whole new perspective and purpose to life—life lived in union and communion with the Trinity. This new-creation life is described in Ephesians 5 as walking in the Light because through the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence we are able to see life with new insight. In addition, walking in the Light implies a life of holiness is possible, free from the shadows of darkness.

Wherever or whenever you are experiencing darkness of the soul, Jesus is there, a Light shining in darkness just as John said in the beginning of his Gospel. We should no longer shrink into our fears believing the lie that evil will triumph, but follow the disciples’ example and seek out the resurrected Christ. He is risen, he is triumphant, we are in him, full recipients of his victory. In Christ, we are a new creation, and can experience living as a new creation in the peace and power of Jesus. ….we need not see and believe, but instead we have the opportunity to believe and see.”

Ref:   Excerpt from Reflecting on Sunday’s Readings ~Easter Sunday 

Scripture text is from the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, (New York: The National Council of Churches) 1997, c1994; Reflecting On Sunday’s Readings, Copyright 2002-2013, Richard A. Cleveland.

 

Marie Coppola   March 2013

 

Who was St. Patrick?

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day is March 17th

Patrick was born to wealthy Christian parents a little over 1,600 years ago in the British Isles.  St. Patrick wasn’t Irish, and he wasn’t born in Ireland. Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in modern-day England, or more precisely in Scotland or Wales (scholars cannot agree on which). He was born in 385 AD. By that time, most Romans were Christians and the Christian religion was spreading rapidly across Europe.

At the age of 16, while on his father’s country estate, he was kidnapped by pirates and taken to pagan Ireland where he was sold as a slave.  He spent several years in Ireland herding sheep and learning about the people there. At the age of 22, he managed to escape. He made his way to a monastery in England where he spent 12 years growing closer to God. After six years of servitude, he escaped and found a ship that took him back home. Eventually, Patrick was ordained a priest and later a bishop, after which he was granted his wish to go back to Ireland.

St. Patrick used the shamrock to preach about the trinity.    Many claim the shamrock represents faith, hope, and love, or any number of other things but it was actually used by Patrick to teach the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and how three things, the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit could be separate entities, yet one in the same. Obviously, the pagan rulers of Ireland found Patrick to be convincing because they quickly converted to Christianity.

According to legend, St. Patrick drove all the snakes, or in some translations, “toads,” out of Ireland. In reality, this probably did not occur, as there is no evidence that snakes have ever existed in Ireland, the climate being too cool for them to thrive. Despite that, scholars suggest that the term “snakes” may be figurative and refer to pagan religious beliefs and practices rather than reptiles or amphibians.

The original color associated with St. Patrick is blue, not green as commonly believed. In several artworks depicting the saint, he is shown wearing blue vestments.  Green was associated with the country later, presumably because of the greenness of the countryside, which is so because Ireland receives plentiful rainfall. Today, the country is also referred to as the “Emerald Isle.”

His mission to Ireland lasted 30 years. During that time, he established monasteries, churches and schools throughout the country. He is credited with its eventual conversion.   He died March 17, 461 A.D.

The Irish have observed this religious holiday for thousands of years. But, how did we come to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the United States?  There are more Irish in the USA than Ireland.  Well, sort of. An estimated 34 million Americans have Irish ancestry. Some are pure-blood Irish, meaning they or their parents came from Ireland, but many more have mixed ancestry today. By contrast, there are 4.2 million people living in Ireland.    North America has only observed this holiday since the late eighteenth century. Even though not a legal holiday in the USA, St. Patrick’s Day is widely recognized and celebrated throughout the country with Irish festivals, parades, food like corn beef and cabbage, drinking, prominent displaying of the color green and Irish traditions.
Marie Coppola  Revised February 2015

Ref: Little Books of the Diocese of Saginaw, Inc,

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A Valentine’s Day Poll

 

Although Valentine’s Day is the day for love to be expressed, there is a portion of our very diverse world that brings some realities to the forefront.  Don’t throw away the sampled chocolate creams, bitten into, and then  left in the Valentine box or try to throw them at any dissenters of the Love Day.  It’s good to let those you love know how much they mean to you.  But let’s look at the other side of the coin, only for purposes of fairness.  It seems gals seem to get more caught up in Valentine’s Day than guys do.   Wanting to do the same thing that day is a plus for happy hearts.   If not, you may have to vote on what you will do.

For example, there are people (okay, I mean guys) who would open their eyes in horror at the thought of their in-laws or anybody being invited for dinner if Valentine’s Day fell on the day of the Super Bowl game. Most guys just aren’t going to be great dining partners on this day, unless you leave the TV on, in view from the table, and no one speaks while the game is on.  Except at half time.  And even then.  Hey, there is great entertainment going on.  (I loved Eli and Odell dirty dancing).    Even the great commercials get ‘quiet time’.   Let’s be fair again – women love Super Bowl. too.  And women come in handy on Super Bowl day if it’s falls on February 14th – to remind their Valentine to get up once in awhile to walk around to avoid blood clots from sitting so long.   If your man is a get up, shout, yell, or ‘flay his hands at plays’ kind of man  – you need not remind him as much.

I love Valentine’s Day whenever it is — I am a romantic and this is THE LOVE DAY. Saying that, I am not responsible for any comments or remarks that come out of this poll quiz – a comparison of woman and men’s views of what they prefer to do on Valentine’s Day.

Okay, here is the quiz ~ which of these Valentine ‘ ideas’ ‘are men’s or women’s?  And which one appeals to both of you?

Place a letter  M  (men)  Or F (female)  or B (Both) at your preferred activity:

1.  I would rather write a poem expressing my love and devotion, tie it with handmade ribbons and valentines, and present it to my sweetheart after I have made a special dinner and fed my love chocolates and bon bons while he/she relaxes on the couch.  Or…

2.  I would rather watch any or all sport events scheduled for that day and give a card during commercials.   If its sunny that day — maybe  wash the car.  Or…

3.  I would rather brush my love’s hair, listen to all she/he did this past week, and go for a leisurely walk holding hands.  And then a quiet dinner – just we two – out somewhere.   Or…

4.  I would rather catch up texting with my friends  & check out  Facebook and maybe play a video game or two.  Or…

5.  I’d rather take my sweetie on a Valentine Hunt to different stores for coffee and doughnuts, visit home-made chocolate stores, and the bakery to let him/her know how sweet he/she is to me. Even if I am accused later for a five pound weight gain from my ‘gift’.  Or…

6. I’d rather jam with my friends for a few hours and then chill out with them for awhile and then take a long nap on the sofa.   Or…

7.  I’d rather sing a made-up love song – maybe a rap love song – and play part of it on my recorder which I haven’t played since fifth grade.   Or…

8.  I’d rather watch the Women’s Ice Hockey scheduled that day – these women rock – they’re no sissies.    Or…

9.  I’d rather share a pizza and then relax on the sofa while watching a rented, sappy chick-flick and cuddle.   Or…

10.  I’d rather my love make a great dinner and then we’d  watch a high-action thriller movie. My love can pop the popcorn and pour us wine.

Extra points as a couple if you pick the same activity.  Are you a match made in Heaven or a loner candidate for Valentine’s Day?   In any event, Show the Love.

© Marie Coppola Revised February 2017

Why do Catholics get ashes on their forehead?

 

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

The Catholic church observes Ash Wednesday, on March 1st this year. The Ash Wednesday observation begins the forty-day season called Lent which precedes the celebration of Easter, Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The Forty Days are symbolically observed by the Church and are followed by the Three Days of the Triduum, from Holy Thursday evening, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and through Easter Sunday.

Ashes are a symbol of penance by the blessing of the Church, and come from a ceremony of past times when Christians who had committed grave faults were given public penance. On Ash Wednesday, the Bishop would bless the hair shirts which they were to wear during the forty days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms from the previous year. Then, the sinners were turned out of the church because of their sins — and not enter the church again until Maundy Thursday (known today as Holy Thursday) after having won reconciliation by forty days’ penance. This tradition revolved to later Christians, who came to receive ashes out of devotion and to be reminded that we are from dust and to dust we shall return.

The ashes are still made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by incense. They are administered by the priest, deacons and lay ministers on Ash Wednesday in the shape of a cross to foreheads of the church community. They are marked with ashes to remind humble hearts that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told “Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

The Teutonic word, Lent, which denotes the forty days’ fast preceding Easter, originally meant the spring season. It has been taken from the Anglo-Saxon period translated from the Latin term ‘quadragesima’, meaning the “forty days”

An excerpt taken from Pope Benedict XVI’s meaningful 2009 Lenten message — “For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to focus my reflections especially on the value and meaning of fasting. Indeed, Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry” Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law and Elijah’s fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb, Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter. After the Forty Days, Jesus then began a journey of healing and teaching which would end with his death, Resurrection, and Ascension.

He Himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of the forty days spent in the desert that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. The true fast is thus directed to eating the “true food,” which is to do the Father’s will. “He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry”. {Ref: Pope Benedict XVI’s Lenten Message 2009}.

For this reason, Catholics begin a season of penance, reflection and fasting which is an opportunity for spiritual renewal and self improvement. Some Catholics fast or ‘give up’ in sacrifice something which holds importance to them. For some it can be a habit or a food or a personality trait. Others, instead of ‘giving up’ something may chose to bring additional positive habits into their lives such as charitable good works, being kinder to others, being a Samaritan or refraining from temptations of the world.

Fasting is also an aid to open one’s eyes to the less fortunate of our brothers and sisters. In John’s First Letter, “If anyone has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, yet shuts up his bowels of compassion from him – how does the love of God abide in him?”. Voluntary fasting enables one to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who sacrifices to help his suffering brother.

Ref: Catholic Online; www.Catholic.org; At Home With the Word 2010

Marie Coppola Revised February 2016

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy to The Children ~~

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“I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authorityvested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 15, 2018, as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday.  I encourage all Americans to observe this day with appropriate civic, community, and service programs and activities in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy.”

 Martin Luther King, Jr., a minister, activist and a prominent leader in the African American civil rights movement.  He was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 192 was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee at age 39.

His legacy was realizing civil rights in the United States and he is known as a human rights icon.

Some of the highlights of his legacies are:

the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and buses began to operate on a desegregated basis in 1956.

He was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

He led the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered his famous “I have a Dream” speech to over 200,000 marchers.

In 1964, he became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination, through non-violent means.

He was anti-Vietnam War and anti-poverty, based on religious principles.

He was posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.

He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

In 1986, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established a U.S. national holiday.

This peaceful, equality and rights Baptist minister had a dream of a world where discrimination would be changed and be made illegal. In the 1950’s,  Ameica was not a place where all men were created equal. In many places in the country, discrimination against minorities was legal. Dr. King preached nonviolence and urged all people to be peaceful in their efforts to change inequality in America. His focus was on the future of America’s children.

This focus on children is the basis of my review on a children’s book, entitled “Martin Luther King, Jr. (My First Biography)” by Marion Dane Bauer, published the end of 2009 and is a slim, 32 pages long.

In keeping with Dr. King’s focus on the children of America, the book explains how Dr. King believed what his mother told him as a boy, that ‘he was just as good as anybody’. That encouraged him to want to spread that message to everyone and this book is designed to repeat that message to kids 5 years old to eight years old.

And he did bring about the change that allowed all children to go to the same schools and eat at certain restaurants regardless of their skin color. Dr. King, in his work and acts, allowed that all children could play in the same playgrounds, and dine in restaurants that previously would not let them. And the laws were changed. All children could drink from the same water fountains and use the same restrooms. People became strong in believing that ‘they were just as good as anybody by showing them they could have any seats on buses, in school and lunch counters where it was not allowed before.

This book is excellent for all children and especially for those who feel left out or different or don’t believe that they are not equal or the same as others. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that he and all persons were just as good as anybody else and this book relives the legacy he left to all of us.

 

© Marie Coppola Revised January 2013

How to NOT Burn Out During the Holiday Season


It’s really hard not to get caught up with the holiday season. Thanksgiving is fairly simple; the menu is the same each year, you’re a pro at getting things done. The hardest part is getting everyone to sit down at the same time and eat and eat and eat.

Christmas is different. It starts at the end of the Thanksgiving parade, with ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’ as the last balloon float. The very next day, Black Friday, hordes of shoppers are at the stores or cyber shopping on the net and Christmas has begun and it’s not even December first. Stress is showing it’s distorted face already.

It’s easy to wig out during this season. There’s decorations to hang and greeting cards to write out. We say every year – no cards this year – but change our tune upon the arrival of the first one in the mail. ‘Ohh, we have to send them one.’ Holiday get togethers begin as early as December 3rd or 4th since some folks go out of town or travel for the holiday, so your calendar is quickly filled up – until January 1st.

Gift lists are made up and that takes some time in selecting ‘wish gifts’ within your budget. There are office parties, club parties, church gatherings and concerts, school activities, until you are feeling really bogged down. To keep up with all the activity, you’re not sleeping long enough, you’re snacking on early-sent Christmas cookies and you’re feeling sluggish. The house needs an overhaul, the church is asking you to bake for their bake sale on Sunday – could you make those wonderful takes-two-days-to-make cookies? The school is having a Christmas play ;the kids are all excited about it and it’s on the same day as the grab bag Club luncheon.

It’s easy to get overloaded and stressed out. And that’s the last thing you want to do. After all, it’s the holidays and you’re supposed to be enjoying them.

Some suggestions:

Lower your expectations of what you want done and what you will do. Try not to fill up every day with an ‘event’ or ‘date’. You need time to regroup and you want to enjoy what you do. It’s easy to feel obligated to return an invitation or ‘it’s your turn to have it at your house’, but sometimes you need to:

Learn to say “NO” to urgent requests to do things outside of the home. You have enough going on in there. The person may be overloaded and wants to delegate to you to help them. And speaking of that word….

Delegate within your family the chores needed to be done at home. Pull names out of a hat if you have to, but someone could help decorate, another could put up the tree, one can shop for groceries, others can help clean the house, bake, write out cards – it is a family holiday and everyone can help out, but remember to…..

Stay positive; getting a negative attitude or being crabby will make everyone disappear and if you want them to help, and you can….

Plan itineraries with the family and figure out who will be where and when. Put a calendar on the fridge with ‘mandatory’ dates to be home if family or company is expected and…..

If company is coming overnight, plan for them way before they get there. Get their room ready and if they cancel at the last minute….

If the unexpected happens, try not to worry things you have no control over. Life happens. With any extra time made by cancellations,

Prepare some meals beforehand and freeze them for unexpected events or company.

Some personal tips:

Exercise. Even 10 minutes of walking or dancing a day can benefit your mood and health.

Try to eat nutritional food. Don’t snack on fat and sugar foods.

Rest during the day if you can – or better yet, take a 15 minute siesta. Or just close your eyes and be still. And try to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night.

While working around the house, put on your favorite music – or holiday music. That will keep you upbeat.

Consider buying everyone gift cards – people love them – and it’s a whole lot easier on your stamina of running around warm, stifled stores and then out into the cold. The flu is out there and around us.

If you HAVE to buy something personal, the internet is great – and it is delivered right to your door.

Remember, Less is More. The less you have to do, the more you will enjoy yourself. Don’t knock yourself out. The holidays weren’t meant to see how much money we all spend on each other, or to outdo everyone on the block with our lights and decorations. They weren’t meant to stuff everyone with 20 varieties of cookies or have 30 people over for dinner (unless that’s your thing). Simplify your life – have small gatherings and really enjoy the people you are entertaining. It’s hard to have conversations with 30 guests while your juggling all that food to serve them. Share yourself with your company and make memories.

Christmas is a feeling, a sharing, a loving and giving time. Wrap that thought around you and celebrate the Reason for the Season.

©  Marie Coppola  Revised November 2014

Santa Claus to the Rescue


 

It was an exceptionally busy year that Christmas. Most young families experience a hectic month of December, especially if they have a toddler, a baby and holiday visitors.  We were no exception, and having a last-minute list to fill, we decided to take a quick trek one early Christmas Eve to the grocery store, for much needed staples.

Normally, doing so would be just that – a quick trip – but we lived high on a mountain overlooking a large lake. Because of hazardous driving conditions in snow and ice this time of the year, winter trips were monitored carefully. We listened to the evening news regarding snow activity, and snow was not predicted that evening – but possibly on Christmas morning.

At the store, we ooh-ed and aah-ed at Christmas displays, and were more than startled upon leaving the store to see heavy snowflakes coming down. The parking lot was already covered. We quickly brushed off our small car and loaded it with our groceries & packages, We then  slowly slipped and slid the 4 miles to our large hill of a street.

There were no other cars on the roads and as we approached the bottom of our hill, we could not see the top of it for the powdering of snow coming down like confectioner’s sugar coating everything. I cuddled my baby daughter close to me and my son, the toddler, was excited at seeing the snow. After all, he knew Santa was coming later that evening.

After three attempts to put the car in gear and make it up the hill, we could only go up about a quarter of the way, and then we would slip backwards, sliding side to side. I was starting to get somewhat alarmed and taking my cue, the baby started to cry; it was time for her feeding. Although grateful that I was still nursing her, my thoughts were on the weeks’ worth of groceries in the car and how in the world would we get them home and more worrisome – how could we even try to walk up this long, slippery hill with two small children?

After about 20 minutes, when I was starting to worry if we would run out of gas trying to keep the car warm, we heard a chugging sound and an old large, black sedan with chains on the tires was coming up the hill. The car stopped (which amazed me that it could do that on this hill) and a tall, large man with white hair and white beard (I kid you not)  got out of the car. He had on a wool knitted hat, a plaid flannel shirt and suspendered pants and I couldn’t believe that I could even think the thoughts I was thinking in our worrisome predicament.  He offered  that he, the ‘stranger’, would take my daughter and me up the hill to our house and then go back for the rest and the car. It was strange, too, that we knew almost everyone in this lake community, but had never seen a white haired, white bearded man. I put aside any thoughts of anyone abducting us in this weather and went with him. I didn’t feel I had a choice.

We easily made it up the hill to our house. Our house was 40 steps up from the street and the stairs were completely covered with snow. The stranger carried my daughter with one hand and helped me up with the other up all those stairs – I had no boots on. Once we got inside the warm house, I watched the stranger from our front bay window go down the steps, disappearing in swirls of snow and drifts. It seemed and looked surreal to me.

Some time later, I heard the two cars chugging; the stranger had put chains on our car, too. They parked the cars, and the rest of them carried up all the groceries and one little boy.

The men talked for a few minutes outside and shook hands – the stranger refused any nourishment or a drink. I was standing at the bay window now with my almost three year old son in my arms watching the bearded stranger walk down the steps with the lights on amidst large pellets of snow tumbling down around him. As if the man was aware we were watching him, he turned around and waved, and then I laughed and said, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.’ And to my son, I asked, “Do you know who that man is?” And without missing a beat, my toddler said, “That’s Santa Claus”. And I nodded, and said, “Yup, that’s who he is.”

© Marie Coppola Revised December 2016

What Holiday Does a Holiday Tree Celebrate?


Reprinted by generous permission of  Rev. James L. Snyder

Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.net. His web site is www.jamessnyderministries.com.

 I will confess right up front to a certain degree of confusion. The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage will corroborate this confession. So many things confuse me; I am not sure where to begin, and once I begin, where in the world will it stop?

I have been married for over 41 years but I must confess, not to the same woman. Oh yes, it is the same woman with the same name but it is not the same woman I married 41 years ago. Where is that young woman I married?

When first married, I thought I knew everything there was to know about women and wives in particular. I do not know if it is the ensuing years but I am rather confused about this whole matter of being married. I suppose that is the mystery of romance. If you ever figure it out it loses its charm. Romance without charm is just an old man and an old woman who have lived together for 41 years.

That is just one area of confusion. I harbor no aspiration of unconfusing my level of confusion in that area. There are other areas I could work on that might be a little more productive in this regard.

An area particularly that has me greatly confused is the Christmas season with all the Christmas decorations including the ominous Christmas tree. Oh, how I love that old Christmas tree and decorating it and celebrating the whole Christmas spirit.

What has been confusing me for the last several years is this uncertainty about the season. Some people do not want to call it the Christmas season; rather they refer to it as the holiday season. What I want to know is, what holiday are we celebrating in December?

I know the holiday we celebrate in November, and the other holidays sprinkled throughout the year.

In July, for example, nobody calls it a “holiday parade.” It is the Fourth of July parade, for Pete’s sake! In February, nobody calls it a “holiday banquet.” It is a Valentine’s banquet.

Just so everybody knows, nobody will catch me singing a “holiday carol.”

I suppose with all the holidays in this country throughout the year it would be simpler just to call everything a “holiday.” That would simplify things and help those who cannot keep up with the calendar. I am all for that.

It seems the only squabbling that goes on is during the month of December. Actually, the squabbling begins before our turkey dinner has finished digesting. Maybe some people get too much turkey in their system and it clouds their thinking. All they have to do is squabble about something and so the only thing in front of them is the Christmas season. I get that.

What I do not get is the level of anger directed in this direction. It would seem that the Christmas season offers a huge threat to our society. We cannot call our Christmas tree a Christmas tree; it has to be called a holiday tree. Everybody knows, the word “Christmas tree” is some kind of code inviting disaster on our society. I have never heard anybody define or describe what that disaster would look like.

What amazes me is simply that this is a huge issue in some people’s minds. Nothing is more dangerous to society than this.

The word “Christmas” carries with it more danger to our society than the ominous financial cliff we are facing, the threat of terrorism in our own country and Lindsay Lohan at 4 AM.

What is more confusing to me is that these people who are trying to protect our society from anything religious wants to substitute the word “Christmas” for the word “holiday.” It just shows the level of education in our country has not kept up with the times.

I know it has been a long time since I have been in school, but I do know that certain words have certain definitions. Do the people who object to anything religious understand that the word holiday comes from the phrase “holy day?”

I am not a PhD but I do know that the phrase “holy day” has religious roots.

So, I am really confused along this line. On the one hand, we are not to use the word “Christmas” because of its religious connotations. At the same time, we are supposed to use the word “holiday” which in every dictionary in the land means “holy day.”

I could be corrected along this line, but in my thinking the phrase, “holy day” has some very distinct religious roots. When I hear somebody complaining along this line, and they do it so vehemently, I have a question as to their sanity. It does not make sense to me.

Christmas is a holy day but we are not allowed to think of it as a holy day just use the term “holiday.” Now I am really confused. Is it a holiday or a holy day? Is it sacred or is it secular? What holiday does a holiday tree really celebrate?

I like what the apostle Paul wrote, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days” (Colossians 2:16 KJV).

I will not allow any man’s objections affect my celebration of the Christmas season. To quote from a great secular classic, “God bless us, everyone.”