Monday, 20 December 2010
The simple things of Christmas . . .
In the little window
Stands a tinselled Christmas tree,
Gay with candles, red and gold,
a lovely thing to see.
Lighting up grim surroundings
for the passer-by
With a glow that warms the spirit
and delights the eye.
To the ugly street
there comes the hint of Holy things,
A flash of glory in the gloom,
a rush of Angel's wings.
The heart is touched by something
that is strange and mystical,
And faith returns, the faith of childhood,
new and wonderful.
This is what we need today,
so shine out little tree!
give us back what we have lost;
faith, hope, simplicity . . .
Once again our country is in the grips of dangerously cold weather and plenty of snow. I dare say we are possibly going to have that thing that eludes us most years . . . the great elusive White Christmas! A very rare creature in these parts to be sure!
Airports, motorways . . . little village streets, all stogged full of snow . . . nobody's moving. I can well imagine how all of this snow has gotten a lot of people's Christmas holidays off to a very poor start, especially those who have spent the night sleeping on an airport floor. We don't have a lot of snow here in Chester, but it is very cold and the frost lays deep on every outdoor bush and surface.
My heart goes out to those who are homeless and have no place to shelter themselves from the freezing cold. I wish that I had a cupboard filled with extra blankets and scarves and mittens that I could give away to help them out. I remember thinking one year, why didn't everyone donate their mismatched socks and mittens to a charity so that they could be dispersed to those who could so very well use them . . .
I think it's important at Christmas, amidst all of our big meals and gift giving, to pause and remember those who do not have even the barest and basic necessities of life. That's why it's important to give to charities such as the Salvation Army . . . who do so much to help the homeless and the poor.
At the same time I am made mindful of my many, many blessings. A roof over my head, a warm hearth, hot food to warm my belly, friends, family and love. How can I, when I have so much, not pause to help another??? That is where the true meaning of Christmas is to be found and where it lives . . . the simple act of reaching out to others in need . . . service. Even a simple crust of bread tastes better when it is shared in love.
I am mindful also that at this time Mary and Joseph would have already begun their preparations for their long journey towards Bethlehem . The three wise men, whom had seen the star of prophecy, had already set out upon their long journey to find the Christ Child as well. Had they doubted or delayed, they might have missed their moment and arrived too late to see the newborn King . . .
In five days time . . . we too, must arrive at the manger with our gifts of praise and adoration. Spiritually, we should have already begun the journey, for there are many things along the way between now and the 25th to waylay and detain us. We make costly plans and elaborate and exhausting preparations to entertain ourselves, our friends . . . our families . . . when in reality, all we need to bring is our hearts.
It is not a complicated or dangerous journey to the stable door . . . but merely an act of opening our hearts and minds to the simple message of truth . . . of love.
Today, amidst our frantic holiday preparations, may we all take pause to remember those who are in need and to give, and to remember this most Holy reason for the season, as we too begin our journey towards the manger and the Christ Child . . .
Please do take time to watch the video. It will touch your heart and bless your day today.
A simple recipe to grace your holiday table . . .
makes 12 servings
Delicious carrots in a cider vinegar reduction, almost a sweet and sour taste. Fabulous!
9 cups of carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch sticks
(about 2 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup packed soft light brown sugar
2 TBS butter
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Place the carrots in a large saucepen. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until crispy tender, then drain well. Set aside.
Place the sugar, butter, vinegar, mustard powder, paprika, salt, and celery seed in a large nonstick skillet over medium low heat. Cook and stir until the butter melts. Bring to the boil. Toss in the carrots. Cook, stirring constantly, until the carrots are heated through and glazed, about 3 minutes. Add the parsley, tossing to combine. Serve.
In The English Kitchen today, Welsh Cheese Pudding. Delicious!