Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our Favorite Christmas Books

My Dear friend Marcie introduced me to Mary Engelbreit and my literary world was never the same. Her illustrations are amazing and drawn with such love.  Each one of our children have a copy waiting for them when they want it someday for their children. 

This next book was a favorite because our children grew up without a chimney.  This covers the 
"chimneyless children everywhere."

Again, the illustrations are wonderful.

One of my favorites is Bob....

And another great illustrator/storyteller is Jan Brett.  With her Scandinavian style, it is near and dear to our Swedish roots.

This is a moving, yet somewhat dark, story that lifts us all with hope.

And another Night Before Christmas. This is a pop-up book and is absolutely delightful.
Quick peak inside...
Our girls would marvel at each page. Wonderfully done. 

Time to Fly!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Our Christmas Fir 2012

The Tree

My husband used to lay on the floor with the girls after the tree was decorated, (their heads way up under the tree) and look at the lights from that vantage point.  He always has an interesting perspective and has been great about teaching our children how to think outside of the box. 
Their feet sticking out from the tree and the Ooos and Ahhs that soon followed are some of my favorite tree lighting moments. 

My Daughter1, who is married, told me last week that she and her husband have started the tree bottom collecting.
Traditions are awesome.

Start your own this year! 

Time to Fly!

The Chicken Chick
Thursday, December 6, 2012

Do you hear what I hear? Our Tree Tradition

That Christmas carol rings true as I hear the clock ticking toward the holidays.  
Can you believe that the Turkey and Dressing are just a Pepcid memory? 
How about Black Friday? Did you camp out for something you just couldn't pass up? 
I'm listening to Christmas tunes at work and it seems I just watered my impatiens in my flower box outside last week!

We got our tree this weekend.  We always get a real tree. We have for years.  
The one thing I would like to share with you is a tradition that started the Christmas before my husband and I were married. 1982 to be exact (No, I did not rock any 80's big hair) 
I had a tree in my apartment that he helped me decorate.  It was huge for the little one bedroom I was in, and I remember only some red Christmas ball ornaments, come candy canes, and white ribbon bows that I made and put on it.  For some reason that year I dated the bottom of the tree, (you know, the part that you cut off so the tree siphons,) and kept it.

So the tradition was born.
Every year since then we have keep the bottom of our trees and marked them with the year.

Some announce dates, others are non-descript.

Large, small, whatever, we have them all.
30 of them...Has it been that long?
This little guy comes out every year and stands on the new tree bottom.
When it has dried out for the year,
I mark them with a simple sharpie.

Funny how something just "starts" and then continues with no planning, those happy accidents that find their way into our family traditions.

What are some of your "happy accidents" that have materialized into an all out tradition? Love to hear! 

By the way, Do you hear what I hear? 
The sound of my tree waiting to be decorated!

P.S. Remember this little cutie? MOD CLOTH! Just had to have him.
(My only decor purchase this year!) 

Time to Fly!

Chic on a Shoestring DecoratingSomewhat Simple

The Chicken Chick
Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Feast Day of St. Nicholas-Dec.6th

December 6th The Feast Day of St Nicholas

Legends and folklore: St. Nicholas

In his most famous exploit,[26] a poor man had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them. This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment, would have to become prostitutes. Hearing of the poor man's plight, Nicholas decided to help him, but being too modest to help the man in public (or to save the man the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to his house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the man's house.
One version has him throwing one purse for three consecutive nights. Another has him throw the purses over a period of three years, each time the night before one of the daughters comes of age. Invariably, the third time the father lies in wait, trying to discover the identity of their benefactor. In one version the father confronts the saint, only to have Saint Nicholas say it is not him he should thank, but God alone. In another version, Nicholas learns of the poor man's plan and drops the third bag down the chimney instead; a variant holds that the daughter had washed her stockings that evening and hung them over the embers to dry, and that the bag of gold fell into the stocking.
The tradition of Saint Nicholas Day, usually on 6 December (19 December in most Orthodox countries), is a festival for children in many countries in Europe related to surviving legends of the saint, and particularly his reputation as a bringer of gifts. The American Santa Claus, as well as the British Father Christmas, derive from these legends. "Santa Claus" is itself derived in part from the Dutch Sinterklaas.
 It's not celebrated much in the U.S. -- although there has been some awareness of the holiday in Wisconsin -- but in Northern Europe, St. Nicholas Day is a big thing. Traditional celebrations included gifts left in children's shoes (from which American Christmas stockings developed).
Good children receive treats -- candies, cookies, apples and nuts -- while naughty children receive lumps of coal. In Germany, children still put a shoe outside their bedroom doors on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, and hope to find candy, coins and maybe a small gift in them on Dec. 6. In the Netherlands, children put their shoes in front of their chimneys in hopes of finding chocolate or a small toy in their shoe when they wake.

St. Nicholas is revered in many countries and in many languages:

and more traditionally in this Country....

The melting of tradition over time has got us to the place in history where we are today.  All of us coming together, different versions of St. Nick, that have evolved into 
Santa Claus.
So, "Happy Christmas to All,
 and to All a GOOD NIGHT! 
Don't forget to leave your shoes out! 

Time to Fly!

Our Christmas Favorites: The Sequel and Claymation

Yesterday I posted our family favorite Christmas movies. Today we are going for the Animated version of that list.

BUT FIRST.. Claymation! 

In clay animation, each object is sculpted in clay or a similarly pliable material such as Plasticine, usually around a wire skeleton called an armature. As in other forms of object animation, the object is arranged on the set (background), a film frame is exposed, and the object or character is then moved slightly by hand. Another frame is taken, and the object is moved slightly again. This cycle is repeated until the animator has achieved the desired amount of film. The human mind processes the series of slightly changing, rapidly playing images as motion, hence making it appear that the object is moving by itself. To achieve the best results, a consistent shooting environment is needed to maintain the illusion of continuity. This means paying special attention to maintaining consistent lighting and object placement and working in a calm environment.
Source: Wikipedia

Do you have any idea how much time and patience this takes! 
Are any of you old enough to remember "Gumby and Pokey"?
As a kid, that was the first I remember of Claymation. Gumby was created in the early '50's. 
The Christmas specials started shortly after. So on with the list! 
My Favorite of course is Rudolph.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (1964) I was 3!

Little Drummer Boy (1968)

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town! (1970)
(I love Fred Astaire as the narrator)

Nestor, the Long Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)

There are many more wonderful Claymation Specials. Those of you that are younger, should get your kids in on the fun and let them see something non-digital!

Other family favorites include:
Frosty the Snowman (1969)

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

A Chipmunk Christmas (1981)

And our favorite:
Little known-
The Christmas Toy (1986)
made by the Jim Henson Company.

As always there are MANY others, some more popular now with new characters and fond new memories of the things you will watch with your kids.
With this post, the Christmas Tradition I mentioned yesterday will have to wait until later in the week.
Until then...
Enjoy the Christmas season and all that it has to offer.

Time to Fly!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My TOP 10 or 11...Christmas movies...A re-post

As mentioned in an earlier post: 

Here are our Family Non-animated Favorites
In no particular order:

The Bishop's Wife  1947

White Christmas 1954 
(Where the classic song "Sisters" is from, also)

It's A Wonderful Life  1946

The Bells of St. Mary's  1945

Miracle on 34th Street (Original)  1947

A Christmas Carol 1984
George C. Scott version  (although the Muppet version is awesome, we'll list it later)

The Santa Clause 1,2, and 3.  1994/2002/2006

Mrs. Santa Claus 1996

Jack Frost 1998

And just for fun...the old TV Variety Show Specials

No, Christmas Story did not make our list...GASP! 

I had a girl house, and not that it's not a great movie, it just didn't catch on as one of our favorites. 
There are so many others.  I'm sure you are thinking "But what about..."  
This is our list, and ones we count on to keep that traditional feeling in our home.  I'd love to hear some of your favorites that you watch!

So that's the 1st List.  
The 2nd List, Animated Favorites, will follow soon. Here's a teaser...

1960's Claymation: What would we have done without it?

Time to FLY!