'Tis the day before Christmas
'Tis the day before Christmas
and all through the house
everyone is stirring
even a mouse.
The kids are at it,
screaming and more
carol singers sing out
then knock on the door.
The phone joins in
springing to life
Husband’s still shopping
it’s a message for wife.
There are no turkeys
anywhere to be found
he is trawling the shops
going round and around.
Mum goes back,
to yet more chores,
as the kids race round
slamming the doors.
The day continues
going from bad to worse,
Christmas or not
out slips a curse.
But in due course
the kids go to bed,
sleep is evasive,
Santa fills a child's head
The adults now have
to creep up and down,
helping Santa leave gifts,
without one small frown.
Finally they too
go to their bed
straight to sleep,
the sleep of the dead.
Two hours later,
or so it seems,
the kids are awake,
they can hear from their screams.
“Look what he’s brought me”,
shout Kerry and Pete,
whilst poor Mum and Dad,
simply wish for more sleep.
'Tis Christmas Day now
Both far and near
Yet in so many places
there will be little cheer.
Spare a thought then
for others this day
Those with no smile, no joy
coming their way.
The sad and the lonely,
the sick and the poor
those fighting in countries
war torn and more.
If you are enjoying
a Christmas more blessed
is it because you are lucky
and you live in the West?
For all of our troubles,
and all of our strife,
most of us live
a reasonable life.
Some may fare better,
such is the way,
but none should have nothing
this Christmas Day.
Look in your heart
and share what you can.
I bet you are stuffed
having eaten all but the pan.
But Christmas is more
than gifts and pure greed
it is about helping others
especially those in need.
Even giving a little
can do so much good
and happiness is catching
unless your heart is wood.
When I was young
it seemed strange to me
that at Christmas time
I would sit on the knee,
of a rather fat man
all dressed in red
who on Christmas Eve
left presents on my bed.
Just how this man
travelled here and then there
I was not sure
and so I would stare,
when Santa appeared
at our school or a store,
and then in a flash
be gone through the door.
How could this man
ride on a sleigh
that flew through the sky
on our special day?
How could he give
to so many so fast
such beautiful toys
that were made to last?.
The strangest thing though
was that on Christmas night
he would climb down our chimney,
which must have been tight.
So that when we awoke,
early Christmas day,
our presents were there
but not Santa's sleigh.
Still, as we all know,
now we are grown,
mostly its magic
bringing Santa to our home.
Its best not to wonder
just how things appear
but enjoy what you are given
for Christmas this year.
Fancy new Christmas Tree lights for the coming season? There are many bargains to be had but oh the variety; shapes, colours, styles, energy consumption and more are all up for grabs it seems.
Traditionally a set of Christmas tree lights could last a lifetime and some did! Most parts of the lights were either repairable or replaceable; add to this the fact that in the past a set of tree lights were far from cheap and it is easy to see why they were seldom thrown away.
Each year the same set of lights would be dragged out, tested, tweaked as necessary and hung, often on the same old tired artificial tree. Times were tight and resources meager and so this was common practice unless you came from a more affluent household.
Somewhere along the line Christmas tree lights became much cheaper. They started to be made in a variety of colours, styles and lengths; the wire colour varied and so did the actual bulbs. Indoor, outdoor lights were revamped and brought to life. In the 21st Century more and more Western households hang many sets of lights at Christmas both indoors and out but perhaps the most important set of Christmas lights will be those that adorn your tree.
They and the tree will be the focal point of Christmas in your home.
You may opt to add more than one set of lights but, as some now have 100 plus twinkling lights, one should be enough; it will depend on the size of your tree and what impression you want to make.
Too many tree lights and your ornaments will disappear into nothing; the right amount and appropriate colour, including clear, and your tree will come alive like sparkling diamonds.
One problem with cheaper tree lights is that they may be suspect; always check that they comply with your country's health and safety standards. Many of these lights come from China these days and whilst not all will be faulty by any means there are some unscrupulous dealers in that country.
Another thing to consider is that if you aim to almost have throwaway cheap lights they could damage the environment. Unnecessary waste is never good. The resources used to make a set of lights will be wasted if you simply throw them away each year.
A better option is to go for a mid-price set. One that offers replacement bulbs and the like; one that can be repaired, by changing a fuse for example, and become a family tradition.
LED lights are more eco-friendly as they use less energy but they may not be bright enough for you.
We all have less time these days but our throw away world is bad news. If you can afford to why not buy a good set of classic tree lights, which will not date quickly, and treasure them. Handing family Christmas tree decorations or lights down through the family is a lovely idea.
Whatever option you go for never compromise health and safety. At Christmas Time there is usually news of at least one house fire or death by electrocution, due to faulty Christmas tree lights.
The key phrase should be, If in doubt-throw them out.
You may or may not have already assembled your tree, lights and ornaments. There is usually ample time to bag a bargain especially as far as Christmas Tree lights go; the nearer it is too Christmas the better the bargain will be. In order to get exceptional value for money purchase after Christmas in the January sales.
Always store your Tree lights carefully after Christmas; remember the wiring could become damaged. If you have been able to buy replacement bulbs, just in case, label them. In a year's time you may not be able to find them, nor have a clue which set of lights they are for.
If you buy in the post Christmas sales check the lights over fully working and test before use. If there any faults you will need to get your money back or a replacement. Discovering they do not work the following Christmas could be costly.
For added peace of mind purchase an RCD safety plug to run your lights from. These have come down in price and could be a lifesaver.
Fishing is a hugely popular hobby in the U.K. If you have a partner or family member who is into fishing what can you buy them for their 'sport' this Christmas?
Most people who love fishing buy numerous bits and pieces to support their hobby. If they have fished for some time it could be tricky getting something they need and want and keeping it a surprise.
You could always ask what they want but if you want to surprise them what about a gift voucher? This could be a great option but take care; a local fishing shop sells gift vouchers but they have a limited time before they expire. Make sure your gift voucher has longevity.
Remember also the recipient could easily misplace or lose the voucher; in some ways cash could be a better option.
But if you want a gift here are a few possibilities for the fisher person in your life or family.
Does the recipient only fish in good weather or is he or she faithful to the hobby all year around? Either way there will be some items of clothing available as a gift.
Apart from traditional waders what about a warm gilet, hat (which can be warm and woolly or accommodating for hooks and more), gloves, sun-glasses, fun T Shirt, mac or umbrella all specifically for use while fishing
Remember fishermen and women come into contact with water all the time meaning material is important.
Chairs for this hobby range from the cheap and cheerful to the streamlined and comfortable. Bear in mind the space needed to carry fishing paraphernalia in a car. You can find various fishing chairs at this link.
Fishing bits and bobs may include:
Check out whether the person only pond fishes, enjoys sea fishing, like fly fishing or is even more diverse before you begin to shop around.
A fishing licence is costly and can make a good gift.
There are many fishing magazines such as Angling Times and an annual subscription to one will go down a treat.
Books on fishing and fishing videos and DVD's may appeal but take care; some people simply want to fish not watch others doing it. However a DVD or book offering fishing tips and advice may work well.
The following was originally written a few years ago after watching a Christmas themed show on television in which it was stated that the correct way to decorate a Christmas tree was to start with the lights, add the tinsel and then the decorations.
This advice was the reverse to how I had always decorated my Christmas tree.
Now my tree down the years has always looked good though I say so myself. After more than 40 years of marriage to the same guy we have quite a few decorations bought or passed down.
But I am always open to suggestions on how to improve anything or make it easier so I tuned in and listened up.
The presenter stated that her method would guarantee that the lights sparkled discretely onto the tree's ornaments.
My tree as I already said has always looks fab, and received plenty of good comments, so I guess that either way will work well.
But here is the basic advice then, no matter which order you chose to decorate your tree:
It is always best to place your tree and then lay out all of the tinsel and decorations on the floor. Put the lights in one place on the floor, the tinsel another and the decorations with each other.
This way you can see exactly what you have got.
This may prevent your tree having too many ornaments in one part and empty bare patches in another.
Above all remember that Christmas should be about fun. Try not to make decorating the tree just another Christmas chore. Take your time, have a small glass of wine, or two, and a mince pie, or two, and enjoy yourself.
Tips & Warnings
You will need
Wouldn't it be great to have family tree decorations to hand down to future generations? In order to do just that you will need to make sure that you take good care of your decorations.
The vast majority of tree decorations around these days are practically unbreakable but they are the more run of the mill ones. Extra special tree decorations can still be a little delicate and even those that are tough may still start to look a little tatty without the necessary care.
Good storage of precious Christmas tree decorations can also:-
• Save you time as you will not have to keep shopping for new tree ornaments each year or wasting a huge amount of time decorating your tree as you will know exactly where everything is.
• Save you money as you will not have to purchase over and over again but rather just buy the odd new decoration.
So here are my tips for storing those little tree treasures
1- Always lightly dust your decorations as you take them down to put away for another year. This way they will be in pristine shape next Christmas with little effort.
2- You can just use cardboard boxes but it is better to pack in wooden boxes or crates if possible. If you use cardboard boxes make sure that they are tough and strong. It is often preferable to store the decorations in the original packaging; also, you never know, this way they could become valuable antiques someday.
3- Layer suitable tissue paper at the bottom of the box or an old blanket. Make sure though that there are no fibres which may snag the decorations.
4- Wrap each decoration in kitchen paper or soft tissue paper. This will prevent one decoration scratching the surface of others that are close by.
5- Layer more tissue paper between layers of the decorations.
6- Preferably use a box that has a tight fitting lid. If not make one yourself.
7- Try to ensure that the box is as airtight and as damp proof as possible.
8- Store the box or boxes of Christmas decorations somewhere that will be easy to access the next year but out of harm’s way. A loft which is not damp or regularly accessed may suit. This should mean there is no chance of the decorations getting broken by a silly accident.
As with anything precious that you want to protect a little thought goes a long way. When you look at how pretty but delicate some decorations are it is obvious that you need to take care of them.
I love my Christmas tree but I am a lazy decorator of it. All of my decorations are threaded with Christmas wrapping ribbon and tied with a generous loop. For the last few years these ribbons have been red, gold and green to match the decorations. This means that every year my decorations are already threaded and good to go. Every once in a while a change of ribbon is all that’s needed. There is really no need to but a different colour can alter the whole appearance of the tree and its decorations.
Amongst our home Christmas decorations there is one that was mine as a child, a few that were my mother-in-laws and even one that was my Grandma's which dates back to WWII. These may not look full of glitz or glamour but they are heart-warming at Christmas-time.
It's just a Christmas tree
You may or may not love Christmas. Whether you do or you don't the odds are that you will put up a tree indoors at Christmas, a Christmas tree. These have come a long way since Queen Victoria of England; in the19th Century popularized the Christmas tree. She was persuaded by her beloved husband German Prince Albert. The celebratory trees do however date back to a time long before this Queen.
In ancient times people had a different relationship with trees and foliage. Plants and the like often had an almost religious feel. Before the birth of Christianity people believed they could ward of evil spirits, or at least some people believed that they could.
Following the lead of Queen Victoria of England the West adopted the practice of decorating a tree and placing one in their homes. That practice has continued in the UK during wars, good and bad times, and changing fashions; the “tree", however, has experienced some changes along the years.
Real or artificial
This can be one of the most important factors in choosing your tree. There are pros and cons to both. An artificial tree may seem better value for money, as it will last for years. It does not drop needles and does not have to be transported home each year. These days you can buy artificial trees that look real. You may say why not then buy real in the first place, but read on. Artificial trees come in many shapes and sizes. There are half trees which can be attached to walls. This is very useful where space is at a premium. There are many colours also.
Real trees have in their favour tradition, a specific scent, memories and eye appeal for some.
A real tree does not have to drop needles from the day it is put up to the day it is taken down. On the contrary you can buy real trees these days which are grown so that the needles will not shed easily. It is also down to how you treat the tree in your home. It is after all a living thing and will need some specific TLC, tender loving care. For example if you place a Christmas tree next to a radiator in your home it will not fare well. Simple.
Real Trees can pose a problem after Christmas. You could buy one that is suitable to plant in your garden after the festivities end. Alternatively you could chop it up using the wood to burn and the foliage for garden compost. Although many trees are planted with Christmas in mind you should consider the environmental implications of buying a real Christmas tree.
More choice from artificial
If you decide on an artificial tree you will find a huge choice on offer. First and foremost consider the colour of the tree. Personally green trees speak Christmas but the choice is yours. Many people these days purchase a tree to fit in with the style of their home. They then dress the tree accordingly with specific themes or colours. Black trees are also popular. They are not too dissimilar to trees really.
They may look to you like a dead tree but they will often fit into a modern home better than a traditional Christmas tree.
White trees have been around for many years. They usually look very artificial. You could choose one instead that was basically green but already dressed with fake snow. These trees look more white than green in some cases. If you want to let your imagination fly go for purple, bright pink or orange. A word of caution here though. If you are buying a fake tree as it is more value for money stick with traditional green. If you do not you may find that you are stuck with a bright pink tree which you hate a couple of Christmases down the road.
When you buy an artificial tree always buy from a reputable retailer. Check the label to ensure that it meets your country's safety standards. You do not want to bring a fire hazard into your home do you?
Remember to take into account the cost of decorating the tree. Bear this in mind as far as costs and colours go. If you buy an orange coloured tree for example you will be limited what you can decorate it with, unless you are a clever designer.
Up and ready
One advantage with some Christmas trees is that they come as a package. You can purchase a pre-lit tree but you can go much further. You can buy a tree which has fixed decorations on it. Each year you will simply get it out of its box, shake it and erect the tree. Job done after a little fiddling about. Most of us, however much we complain about "doing the tree", love to decorate the Tree though. It brings back memories, allows your artistic side to soar, can be sociable, enables different and personal choices, and so much more. A pre-lit and pre-decorated tree could be too clinical for you.
If you have mobility issues however one could be perfect. If you live on your own and struggle with fiddly objects it may be a must. Each year the "lights" need to be tested, would around the tree and so on. A pre lit tree can save you time and a frayed temper.
The downside with pre-lit trees can be if the lights no longer work. If your tree has served you faithfully over a few years that may not be a problem. It could be time for a change. Most of the things you need to consider about what type of Christmas tree to buy boil down to personal choice, safety and money.
In our increasingly lengthy marriage we have had at least one Christmas tree in our home each year, except for perhaps one year. When we were newly-weds we would buy a huge real tree. With no car we would carry it home between us. By the time we arrived home the tree had less needles than earlier and we were covered in them. Days later we would find odd ones in our hair. Occasionally tempers heated up but on the whole it was fun. It was also not easy.
For many years we have had artificial trees. After a rather poor looking one we bought a decent real looking tree which served us well for years. Last year we opted to update and went for a traditional looking pre-lit tree. My heart occasionally toys with the idea of a real tree but my brain says no. This year with our latest, fast and furious rescue dog Tinka a real tree does not make sense. Who knows, next year could be different.
The image here is off our tree last year. For once there was snow on the ground outside. That was a little before Christmas though.
As a final thought
I have wonderful memories of our childhood Christmas tree. At the time it was, now how do you say it these days, Awesome. When we removed it many years later it was a pathetic post war effort. It was all of two feet tall, if that. It was spindly with little foliage. It was in reality dismal. However once Mum got to work on it the magic begun. Remember Christmas magic is about more than biggest and best. I can still see that childhood tree in my mind's eye and for me it will always remain, amazing.
The changing face of Christmas
Christmas has changed down the years. This has been due to many things, including technological advances but Father Christmas is still a magical constant, isn't he?
Christmas remains a magical time of year for children. For those of the Christian faith it is a time to come together and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Families still tend to use the time to reinforce relationships and of course giving gifts, for some, is the best bit of Christmas.
Christmas has changed down the years though and never so much as in the 21st Century.
Has Santa been able to keep up with modern advances? Of course he has, what a question.
Computers and the spread of the Internet has probably single-handedly changed so much of our lives and Christmas. People are less inclined to shop on the actual High Street anymore but rather virtually, online.
Christmas Cards look set to die a death with many people these days preferring to make a donation to a charity instead or send an electronic card. However if you do send and receive traditional Christmas cards they are still fun. Yes they can be costly to post, dust gathering and a pain to display but once they are in situ they add to the Christmas feel of your home.
Then there is Santa
Santa Claus, Father Christmas or plain old Santa, call the big guy what you will has changed little down the years. That is his magic. The elves who work hard alongside Santa at the North Pole have been able to utilise modern advances though which means they can make more gifts than ever before. This has proved useful with an ever increasing population in the modern World.
In the 20th Century there were destructive World Wars. With resources at a premium the gifts were less awesome but one way or another Santa always got through. Wars are taking hold in some places again but Santa's use of modern technology means he can cope much better than in the past.
Santa's sleigh has also been upgraded to help Rudolph and the other reindeer get Santa around the globe faster. There are few if any undiscovered countries these days and the same goes for those that used to be uninhabited. This would have put an impossible burden on Santa and the reindeer. Thank the Lord for modern technology.
Challenges for Father Christmas
In the 20th and 2ist Century Father Christmas has faced many challenges, not least a lack of belief in the Big Guy. Added to this people have built homes with no chimneys and fireplaces, have blocked off old chimneys and more. Modern day security systems have been a further challenge for St Nicholas, that is Santa. Thankfully he has an excellent team of experts that help him all the way. Just as technology has moved on so has the magic of Christmas. It has had to. Failing to keep pace was simply not an option.
As far as believing in Santa goes that is down to us. There is not much he can do. He never could. Perhaps in the past believing was easier but it is still possible. Just hold the spirit of Christmas in your heart as you search the night sky for a glimpse of his sleigh. I bet if you look hard enough and listen intently you will see a brief flash of red as the gift giving team race across the sky. If he proves too fast these days you will surely still hear a tinkle of sleigh bells.
Track Santa's journey
One useful tool that could help you catch a glimpse of Santa, Rudolph, Blitzen and the other reindeer is the NORAD Santa tracking System. It is not active until Christmas Eve. The timescale for this event varies according to where you are in the World. Santa has a job keeping up with time differences but he usually manages to. Again it is modern technology with sophisticated sensitive world clocks that help him on his travels.
The NORAD site is already preparing for Christmas Eve, fine tuning its tracking systems and more. If you want to see how it's going check here.
One of the things that has had a negative impact on some traditional Christmas foods is their all year round availability. These days you can buy mince pies or have a "Christmas dinner" at almost any time of year. As a child in the fifties certain food stuffs were not readily available. This meant that some foods were only available for a short time. That made them extra special.
In the past more of the Christmas fayre was made at home at not store bought. Home made Christmas pudding, sweets cakes and Christmas biscuits all added to that special feel. With modern appliances that help cooking and baking time in the kitchen it has never been so easy to get stuck in and make a wide range of Christmas foods. Yes there is a little effort involved but that superior taste will be well worth it.Yes the face of Christmas has changed, some things for the better and some not. Father Christmas remains an eternal part of our celebrations though and long may he do so.
Season's Greetings folks.
Time is a precious commodity
21st Century living for most people is hectic. Time is one of our most precious assets. As such we guard our free time, however brief, from unnecessary intrusions.
An older person however may have too much time on their hands. A depressed person may have all the time in the World to sit and think but that may not be the best option.
Time is funny. Too much free time can in some cases be as bad as not having enough time. This is not governed by age, money or your sex. Loneliness at Christmas is terrible. Some people can feel lonely in a room full of people but there will be others who will not see or speak to a soul over the Holiday Season.
For them the gift of your time is as valuable as giving them a million dollars.
Family, friends and the Community
If you look no further than your immediate neighborhood there are bound to be people who could use some of your time. An elderly person with no immediate family may love a little of your time. It could be used to complete a few chores that have become impossible tasks to the person or just to have a friendly chat.
There could be a sick neighbour who has a dog that needs walking, shopping to collect, a Christmas tree to put up, Christmas Cards to write and post or any number of minor jobs which have become insurmountable tasks.
Local charities would probably love a little of your time, especially at Christmas. The people who work at services such as dog rescue centres are often volunteers. The animals will need feeding, walking, cleaning up after, grooming and more whether it is Christmas or not. Giving a little of your time will ease the burden on the volunteers. It will allow them a little extra time to spend with their loved ones over the Holiday Season.
Hospitals and residential homes may equally value a little of your time. It may be helping with chores or visiting patients and residents who have no family who can visit. Homeless shelters are sadly on the increase, especially during the Christmas period. An extra pair of helping hands will be welcomed here for sure.
In the UK hospitals have a volunteer service which operates throughout the year. A few extra helping hands at Christmas are very useful. Check out what you can or cannot do in good time before Christmas. Even volunteers will need to have CRB, police checks, to make sure that they are suitable to work with chldren or vulnerable adults.
Make it official
Get busy on your computer and create a Christmas gift certificate of time. Include who you are giving the gift to, what it is for and how much time you are giving. This gift could be perfect for grandparents or parents. It could be a promise of a garden make-over in Spring, the re-decoration of a room, a weekly allotted time for shopping ot whatever you know will be important to the recipient.
Above all use your imagination and cater a gift of time to suit the person or persons on the receiving end.
If money is tight time may be all that you have to give but it could be the best gift received this Christmas.
Become a hospital volunteer
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