I remember when Christmas died. I do, really. Christmas at my house when I was younger was a wondrous thing! It was magical, and warm, and wonderful. All those presents, well, not that many, but lots of things my parents made by hand.... in my opinion better then store bought. But it was great!
From decorating the tree, too Christmas morning. Sigh
Then I married Charlie, and Christmas died.
He didn't believe in Christmas, mothers day, birthdays, or anything that meant he had to spend money for gifts..... or take the time to buy the gifts.
So I plugged on alone. With no extra money to buy gifts, I had to scrimp and scrape just to make sure the kids got some nice things. Don't get me wrong, we had the money, Charlie was a postmaster with the post office, and even before he became one.... mail men made lots of money..... but he wouldn't give us any.
I had a budget of $800 dollars a month towards the end (picture 800 dollars after 21 years of marriage, and try to figure how much a month I had to begin with.... let me tell you not fucking much!!!!!). But he always had a good car, lots of money for toys and guns and hunting trips.
But for me That money had to go for food, and clothing, doctors, the morgage on the house, (plus the property taxes) and dentists, School stuff, and everything else......... with 3 kids and 2 adults to feed and dress........ $800 dollars a month didn't go far..... and Christmas presents always seemed just out of reach.
It became even worse when all three kids had braces. I had to pay $250 dollars EACH a month to the dentist. that's $750 out of 800..... needless to say some times the dentist didn't get paid..... or we had peanut butter and jelly for days on end.... and I can't even count how many times we ate spaghetti in a week!!!!!!
Don't get me wrong.....He had ways of getting more money, there was the credit union, or he could have cashed in his vacation days...... witch he did do every year, or just stopped buying guns and hunting stuff and give me the money instead..... but that money went to his hunting trips..... not to me or the kids.
Why did I stay with him???? A misguided idea that when you marry, it's for life... and I still believe in that to this day.
But Christmas died for me. All the work, the decorating, the trying to find gifts, and the cooking..... for what? Most of the time the kids didn't even appreciate it, and the fat slob I married enjoyed the food and stuff, and got to sit back on his ass and do fucking NOTHING. What more could a man ask for?
I still decorate. Put up my tree, and love to look at it. I still get stuff for the kids and grand kids. But each Christmas morning, I look at the tree, empty underneath, no gifts for me, no treats from Santa.... and I die a little along with Christmas.
Mark me well..... any single woman out there.... if your man doesn't have that magic, that love of giving..... he will kill you.. slowly. Over the years your spirit and love will wither away.
NO man is worth that! I found out the hard way. And remember it's not the amount of gifts..... Greed isn't pretty in any woman, it's the fact that he remembered, took the time to pick something out, and wrap it, and tried to make you happy.
I tried for years to make Charlie and the kids Happy... and I think I succeeded most of the time.... but never once did they try to make me happy. And that's the sad part.
So this Christmas morning, I'll wake up to an empty tree again. Maybe cry a little, then move on.
I do get gifts, from friends, and family, and I love it all..... but most of the time it's not till way after, or before Christmas.... never ON Christmas.
But there is still a little girl in me who believes in Santa, white Christmas's, happy birthdays, warm mothers day...... maybe in my next life.... one can always hope.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I remember when Christmas died. I do, really. Christmas at my house when I was younger was a wondrous thing! It was magical, and warm, and wonderful. All those presents, well, not that many, but lots of things my parents made by hand.... in my opinion better then store bought. But it was great!
Posted by Judith at 5:00 AM
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
And I'm ready. Got my tree up (thanks to miss Mary who gave it to me a few years ago!) I was afraid that it wouldn't light.
It's one of those pre-lighted ones, and I'm always afraid something will blow out, and I won't have a tree. But it set up perfectly and looks pretty.
I keep thinking something was missing from it. The ornaments are gem tone, and some shells and mermaids hanging on it.... but it just didn't seem finished..... and then it hit me.... TENSEL!
I forgot to put that on it, now it has gold tinsel all over it, and looks great.
My out door decorations are up too......... but I won't light them till December 1st. I only turned them on to check that they were still working. I have lighted candy cane's hanging from the arbor. Looks pretty cool.
Right now the only thing under the tree is the cat! He always takes over the tree once it's up. It becomes his little home. But he likes it best when it lighted! LOL He's a hoot!
Posted by Judith at 3:42 PM
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Yesterday I had some time, so I figured I should check out my chrismas closet. Yes, I have a christmas closet.... You see, being on a very limited budget, I do my christmas shopping all year round.
When I see something, on sale, or for a fantastic price, I buy it, and stash it in my christmas closet.
This way I don't spend tons of money, I don't have, close to Christmas!
And after going thru the closet....... I'M DONE!
I got stuff for everyone..... and even 2 left over ones (I like them so much I'm keeping them! giggle)
And while I was sitting on the floor surrounded with bags from the store.... I figured I would put the gifts in their chrismas gift bags. Didn't decorate them, but they are in the bags, labled as to what goes to who.
I was worried that I might have forgotten someone, but nope, all there and accounted for. NICE!
NO NEED TO GO TO THE MALL WITH ALL THE HOLIDAY CROWDS, NO NEED TO BUY OVER PRICED SALE ITEM'S
(YOU ALL KNOW THEY RAISE THE PRICES, THEN LOWER THEM JUST FOR THE HOLIDAY, DON'T YOU?)
Believe me, I worked retail almost all my working life, and they do just that. So you think your getting a sale, but you paying the regular prices and maybe a little more.
So shopping right at the holidays is realy stupid!
But, I'm all done, now all I have to do is get the gifts to everyone, and since they are so wide spread around NJ and PA.... THAT'S GONNA BE THE PITS!!! But, I'll manage!
Posted by Judith at 3:28 PM
Monday, November 19, 2007
The DVR has ruined TV for me!!!!!!!
It's so nice to tape a show, and watch it whenever I want..... and to fast forward thru commercials! I'm finding now, that I have a hard time watching anything live, because of those stupid commercials!!!!
Like tonight, there's like 6 shows I want to watch, so I'm taping them all...... and in the morning, I'll watch them.....
but in the meantime I'm sitting on the computer instead of watching them.
It's just too much trouble watching all those fucking commercials, and spending an hour watching a show.... when the DVR is soooooo much better! And without the commercials the shows are like a half hour long!
Best thing I ever did!!!
Posted by Judith at 6:05 PM
I CAN'T WAIT!!!! Thanksgiving doesn't thrill me...... I'm going to Eileens, so at least the food will be good, but the holiday without turkey, mashed potatoes..... is just not the same!!!
But the good news is that I DECORATE FOR YULE!!! Yippppiiiiieeeeee!!!!!
The night of thanksgiving I aways start decorating. Put my tree up, and spread the pretty decorations and lights all over the place!!!!
I know, like a little kid...... but it makes me happy!!!
Posted by Judith at 3:31 AM
Saturday, November 17, 2007
2 cups Flour
4 teaspoons Baking powder
1 teaspoon Salt
4 Tablespoons Shortening
1 cup Milk
6 each Apple
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Pare and core apples. Sift flour, baking powder and salt; cut in shortening, add milk and mix to smooth dough. Turn onto floured board and divide into six portions. Roll each portion large enough to cover one apple. Place an apple on each piece of dough; fill with cinnamon and sugar; wet edges of dough and fold over apple. Place on greased baking sheet, and bake at 350-F until apples are tender (about 40 minutes).
2 Butternut Squash, halved with seeds remove
Margarine or Butter
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
1/2 Cup Honey
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
4 Tablespoons Butter or Margarine, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place squash cut-side down on greased shallow baking pan. Bake uncovered about 45 minutes or until fork tender. Wipe cut surface with a little butter and sprinkle with salt. Return to bake cut-side up about 10 minutes longer or until browned and soft. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Scrape out the squash into a mixing bowl. Add sugar, honey, ginger, pumpkin pie spice and butter. Beat with electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Put in buttered casserole. Return to oven, covered, for 30 minutes.
ORANGE-CRANBERRY CHICKEN WITH SWEET POTATOES
1 4lb.Roasting Chicken
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1 pound Sweet Potatoes
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 cup Whole berry Cranberry Sauce
2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
Preheat oven to 375%.Grate rind from orange(don't include the bitter white part).Rinse chicken & pat dry.Sprinkle with salt,pepper & 1/2 the grated orange rind.Place,breast side up,on a rack in large roasting pan.Roast for 30 minutes.Meanwhile pare & cut the sweet potatoes into 1 inch slices,then toss with Olive oil.Place in single layer in the bottom of roasting pan.Continue roasting 1 hour & 45 minutes,turning potatoes occasionally & basting chicken & potatoes frequently,until the chicken juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with fork & leg moves freely. During the last 1/2 hour of roasting,combine Chicken broth,cranberry sauce & vinegar in a small saucepan.Bring to boiling over med.heat;boil 20 min. or until reduced to 1 1/2 cups.Peel white pith from orange,seed flesh & chop.Stir remaining rind & chopped orange into saucepan;simmer 5 min. Let Chicken rest for 20 minutes before carving.Cut chicken in half lengthwise down the middle.Spoon Cranberry Sauce mixture over chicken & serve with Sweet Potatoes.
SOFT GINGER BREAD
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Molasses
1/2 cup Butter or other shortening
3 cups Flour
1 cup Milk, sour
2 teaspoons Ginger
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Cloves
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
2 Eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon Soda - dissolved in
1/4 cup boiling Water
Cream the shortening and sugar, add the eggs and molasses, and mix well. Sift the flour and spices, and add alternately with the milk to the first mixture.
Stir in the dissolved soda. Pour into well-greased cake pan and bake at 350-F 30 minutes.
1 cup Shortening
1 cup Brown sugar
2 each Egg, well beaten
1 cup Molasses
4 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Soda
1 Tablespoon boiling Water
1 teaspoon Ginger>BR> 1 pinch Salt
Use a mixture of butter and lard for the shortening.
Cream the shortening and sugar together. Add eggs and beat thoroughly. Add the molasses and baking soda which has been dissolved in the boiling water. Sift the flour and ginger together and combine with other ingredients. Mix well. Pour into well-greased muffin pans and bake at 350-F about 20 minutes.
MORAVIAN CHRISTMAS COOKIES
2 cups Shortening
2 1/4 cups Brown sugar
1 quart Molasses
8 cups Flour
1 Tablespoon Cloves
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Baking soda *dissolved in 1 teaspoon Vinegar
Use a mixture of butter and lard for the shortening. Sift the flour and spices together. Add sugar and mix well. Work in the shortening with the finger tips or with a pastry blender. Add baking soda and molasses and mix thoroughly. Chill. Roll very thin on floured board and cut with fancy cookie cutters. Bake at 350-F about 10 minutes.
MORAVIAN SCOTCH CAKES
1 1/2 cups Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
4 cups Flour
2 teaspoons Caraway seeds
Mix the flour, caraway seeds and sugar together. Work in the butter with the finger tips until well blended.
Roll out about 1/3 inch thick on floured board. Cut in small squares. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 325-F about 15 minutes. When cold, cover with boiled icing and sprinkle with colored sugar.
ACORN SQUASH AND SWEET POTATO SOUP
1 large Onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 Tablespoon Vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed (5 cups)
1 small Acorn Squash, seeded and cubed
13 3/4 ounces Chicken Broth
4 Tablespoons Milk
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
1/4 cup Sour Cream
2 Tablespoons Sliced Almonds; toasted
Sauté onion in oil in large saucepan over med. heat until onion is golden, about 8 minutes. Add potatoes, squash and broth. Simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 25 min. Cool slightly.
Working in small batches, place the vegetables with the liquid in a blender or food processor. Whirl until pureed. Return the puree to the saucepan. Stir in the milk to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Heat over low heat. Remove to heated bowls.
Top each serving with dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of almonds and nutmeg.
1 1/2 c Milk; scald/cool to lukewarm
3 1/2 Yeast; dry/envelopes
3/4 cup Water; lukewarm
3 cups Flour; sifted
1/2 cup Eggs; yolks/lightly beaten
3/4 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Salt
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Butter; softened
Flour; 10-11 cups, as needed
5 cups currants
1 1/2 c Almonds; chopped or slivered
1 cup Citron; chopped
1/2 Lemon; rind only/grated
2 teaspoons Rum
Milk should be cooled to about 100 degrees. Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and add 1/4 cup of the cooled milk and 3 cups sifted flour. Cover the sponge with a cloth and let it ripen until bubbles appear on the surface and it is about to drop in the center. Pour the remaining milk over the sponge. Add the egg yolks, sugar and salt and beat until the ingredients are well blended. Add 1 cup flour and beat well. Blend in the butter. Add more flour gradually to make a smooth dough, or until 10 to 11 cups have been added. Some flours absorb more liquid than others. Knead in the currants, almonds, and citron, along with the lemon rind which should be mixed with the rum. Knead the dough until the fruits and nuts are dispersed well through it and it is smooth. Dust the top lightly with flour and let it rise in a warm place about 45 minutes.
Punch it down and let stand for 20 minutes. Divide the dough in half and knead the pieces until smooth. Let them stand for 10 minutes longer. Place one ball of dough on a lightly floured board, and with a rolling pin, press down the center of the ball, and roll the pin to and fro 4 to 5 times, pressing all the time to make an elliptical shape 6 inches long and 3 1/2" wide. The center rolled part should be 1/8" thick and 4 inches long. Both ends should remain untouched, resembling rather thick lips. Place this rolled out piece of dough on a buttered baking sheet and brush the center part with melted butter. Fold one lip toward the other and on the top of it. Press the fingertips down near and below the lips, pulling somewhat apart. Give a pull away from each end, pointing them toward the lips. The shape should resemble a waning moon. Repeat the process with the second piece of dough.
Let the Stollen rise, covered in a warm place until they double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Bake them in a moderately hot oven (375 degrees) for 35 to 40 minutes. Do not overbake them. Cool them on racks. Brush them with butter and cover with vanilla sugar.
SWEET POTATOES AND CRANBERRIES
6 sweet potatoes
1 cup cranberry sauce
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon orange rind
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 cup cranberries
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Boil sweet potatoes in their skins until barely tender. Peel, slice thickly, and arrange in a buttered baking dish. In saucepan mix remaining ingredients. Simmer, uncovered, for five minutes. Pour over sweet potatoes and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until glazed and hot.
ROAST LOIN OF VENISON WITH CRANBERRIES
2 thick slices of lemon
2 thick slices of orange
2 slices of peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 small bay leaf
2 cups fresh cranberries
4 pounds boneless loin of venison, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped juniper berries
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups beef or venison stock
2 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish
In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the lemon, orange, ginger, sugar and bay leaf with 1 cup of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to moderate and boil, uncovered, until syrupy, 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in the cranberries, then remove from heat and cool. Transfer the mixture to a glass container, coer and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days, stirring once or twice during that time.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Rub the venison with the olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, 1 teaspoon of the pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of the chopped juniper berries, pressing the seasonings into the meat. Set the loin on a rack in a roasting pan and roast, basting frequently with the pan juices, until medium-rare (about 135 degrees F on a meat thermometer), 25 to 30 minutes. Cover the venison loosely with foil and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
Meanwhile, remove and discard the bay leaf and the lemon, orange and ginger slices from the cranberries. In a food processor or blender, puree half the cranberries and half the liquid until smooth.
In a medium nonreactive saucepan, boil the wine over high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the cranberry puree, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Strain the remaining whole cranberries and add them to the sauce with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt, pepper and chopped juniper berries. Swirl in the cold butter.
Slice the venison thinly (stir any juices into the sauce) and serve with the sauce, reheated if necessary.
1 Dozen apples; baked
1 cup Water
4 cups Sugar
1 Tablespoon Freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons Ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon Ground mace
6 Whole cloves
6 Allspice berries
1 Stick cinnamon
1 Dozen eggs, separated
4 Bottles sherry or Madeira wine
2 cups Brandy
Ancient England gave us the custom of "wassailing". It is based on the tradition of friends gathering in a circle, whereupon the host drinks to the health of all present. He sips from a glass of hot punch or spiced ale, then passes the glass. A special bowl was used as the vessel. As each friend raises the vessel, before sipping he or she proclaims the Saxon toast "Wass hael!" meaning "be whole" or "be well." Although many versions exist, this one contains the symbolic ingredients: apples, representing fertility and health; spices, signifying riches and variety; eggs, a symbol of life and rebirth; as well as wine and brandy.
The beverage is served hot, so plan on a heatproof punchbowl. This makes enough for a crowd. Just how large a crowd depends on your group's taste for rich, spicy wine drinks. Figure on at least 16-18 servings.
Cook's notes: This also can be made with a combination of beer and wine, preferably sherry, with roughly 4 parts beer to one part sherry. The resulting flavor is authentic to the Colonial period, but far less familiar to contemporary palates.
Prepare the punch: Combine water, sugar, and spices in a large stainless steel, enamel or glass saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until light in color. In separate pans, bring the wine (and beer, if used) and the brandy almost to the boiling point.
Fold the whites into the yolks, using a large heatproof bowl. Strain the sugar and spice mixture into the eggs, combining quickly. Incorporate the hot wine with the spice and egg mixture, beginning slowly and stirring briskly with each addition. Toward the end of this process, add the brandy. Now, just before serving and while the mixture is still foaming, add the baked apples.
Presentation: Serve in heatproof cups or punch glasses. Guests are welcome to take part or all of an apple.
2 Quarts apple juice
2 1/4 cups Pineapple juice
2 cups Orange juice
1 cup Lemon juice
1/2 cup Sugar
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon Whole cloves
Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Uncover and simmer an additional 20 minutes. Strain and discard cinnamon and cloves. Serve hot.
Yield: 3 quarts.
YULE MOON COOKIES
1 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cup. flour
1 1/2 cups grated almonds (blanched)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 T. water
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Add grated lemon peel, salt, flour, grated almonds, and 1 tsp. vanilla; mix thoroughly. Place dough in bowl. Cover and chill thoroughly. When dough is well chilled; or next day, roll out dough to 1/8" thickness and cut with moon/crescent cookie cutter. Place 1/2" apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
While cookies bake, combine confectioner's sugar, vanilla and water. Spread over tops of cookies while still warm, but not too hot as icing will melt. Thin with additional drops of water if glaze is too thick.
Allow cookies to cool. Yield: 10 dozen cookies.
YULE LOG COOKIES
1/2 cup Brown sugar, firmly packed
3 Tablespoons Butter or margarine, softened
1 cup All-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon Baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon Ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon Ground nutmeg
Red and green decorator icing
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, beat the brown sugar and margarine until blended. Add the egg; beat until well blended. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices; mix well. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough with your hands to make two 10 1/2-inch logs; flatten slightly to 1 1/4 inches in diameter. With a spatula, place the logs 2 to 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Dip a non-serrated knife in water; score each log diagonally at 3/4-inch intervals. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until set and no longer moist. Cool for 1 minute. Remove from the cookie sheet; place on a wire rack. Cool for 5 minutes. With a serrated knife, cut the logs at the scored lines.
Cool completely. Decorate each cookie with decorator icing to resemble a holly leaf and berries.
Posted by Judith at 12:14 PM
Our Christian friends are often quite surprised at how enthusiastically we Pagans celebrate the "Christmas season". Even though we prefer to use the word "Yule", and our celebrations may peak a few days BEFORE the 25th, we nonetheless follow many of the traditional customs of the season: decorated trees, carolling, presents, Yule logs, and mistletoe. We might even go so far as putting up a "Nativity set", though for us the three central characters are likely to be interpreted as Mother Nature, Father Time, and the Baby Sun-God. None of this will come as a surprise to anyone who knows the true history of the holiday, of course.
In fact, if truth be known, the holiday of Christmas has always been more Pagan than Christian, with it's associations of Nordic divination, Celtic fertility rites, and Roman Mithraism. That is why both Martin Luther and John Calvin abhorred it, why the Puritans refused to acknowledge it, much less celebrate it (to them, no day of the year could be more holy than the Sabbath), and why it was even made ILLEGAL in Boston! The holiday was already too closely associated with the birth of older Pagan gods and heroes. And many of them (like Oedipus, Theseus, Hercules, Perseus, Jason, Dionysus, Apollo, Mithra, Horus and even Arthur) possessed a narrative of birth, death, and resurrection that was uncomfortably close to that of Jesus. And to make matters worse, many of them pre-dated the Christian Savior.
Ultimately, of course, the holiday is rooted deeply in the cycle of the year. It is the Winter Solstice that is being celebrated, seed-time of the year, the longest night and shortest day. It is the birthday of the new Sun King, the Son of God -- by whatever name you choose to call him. On this darkest of nights, the Goddess becomes the Great Mother and once again gives birth. And it makes perfect poetic sense that on the longest night of the winter, "the dark night of our souls", there springs the new spark of hope, the Sacred Fire, the Light of the World, the Coel Coeth.
That is why Pagans have as much right to claim this holiday as Christians. Perhaps even more so, as the Christians were rather late in laying claim to it, and tried more than once to reject it. There had been a tradition in the West that Mary bore the child Jesus on the twenty-fifth day, but no one could seem to decide on the month. Finally, in 320 C.E., the Catholic Fathers in Rome decided to make it December, in an effort to co-opt the Mithraic celebration of the Romans and the Yule celebrations of the Celts and Saxons.
There was never much pretense that the date they finally chose was historically accurate. Shepherds just don't "tend their flocks by night" in the high pastures in the dead of winter! But if one wishes to use the New Testament as historical evidence, this reference may point to sometime in the spring as the time of Jesus's birth. This is because the lambing season occurs in the spring and that is the only time when shepherds are likely to "watch their flocks by night" -- to make sure the lambing goes well. Knowing this, the Eastern half of the Church continued to reject December 25, preferring a "movable date" fixed by their astrologers according to the moon.
Thus, despite its shaky start (for over three centuries, no one knew when Jesus was supposed to have been born!), December 25 finally began to catch on. By 529, it was a civic holiday, and all work or public business (except that of cooks, bakers, or any that contributed to the delight of the holiday) was prohibited by the Emperor Justinian. In 563, the Council of Braga forbade fasting on Christmas Day, and four years later the Council of Tours proclaimed the twelve days from December 25 to Epiphany as a sacred, festive season. This last point is perhaps the hardest to impress upon the modern reader, who is lucky to get a single day off work. Christmas, in the Middle Ages, was not a SINGLE day, but rather a period of TWELVE days, from December 25 to January 6. The Twelve Days of Christmas, in fact. It is certainly lamentable that the modern world has abandoned this approach, along with the popular Twelfth Night celebrations.
Of course, the Christian version of the holiday spread to manycountries no faster than Christianity itself, which means that "Christmas" wasn't celebrated in Ireland until the late fifth century; in England, Switzerland, and Austria until the seventh; in Germany until the eighth; and in the Slavic lands until the ninth and tenth. Not that these countries lacked their own mid-winter celebrations of Yuletide. Long before the world had heard of Jesus, Pagans had been observing the season by bringing in the Yule log, wishing on it, and lighting it from the remains of last year's log. Riddles were posed and answered, magic and rituals were practiced, wild boars were sacrificed and consumed along with large quantities of liquor, corn dollies were carried from house to house while carolling, fertility rites were practiced (girls standing under a sprig of mistletoe were subject to a bit more than a kiss), and divinations were cast for the coming Spring. Many of these Pagan customs, in an appropriately watered-down form, have entered the mainstream of Christian celebration, though most celebrants do not realize (or do not mention it, if they do) their origins.
For modern Witches, Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon "Yula", meaning "wheel" of the year) is usually celebrated on the actual Winter Solstice, which may vary by a few days, though it usually occurs on or around December 21st. It is a Lesser Sabbat or Lower Holiday in the modern Pagan calendar, one of the four quarter-days of the year, but a very important one. This year (1988) it occurs on December 21st at 9:28 am CST. Pagan customs are still enthusiastically followed. Once, the Yule log had been the center of the celebration. It was lighted on the eve of the solstice (it should light on the first try) and must be kept burning for twelve hours, for good luck. It should be made of ash. Later, the Yule log was replaced by the Yule tree but, instead of burning it, burning candles were placed on it. In Christianity, Protestants might claim that Martin Luther invented the custom, and Catholics might grant St. Boniface the honor, but the custom can demonstrably be traced back through the Roman Saturnalia all the way to ancient Egypt. Needless to say, such a tree should be cut down rather than purchased, and should be disposed of by burning, the proper way to dispatch any sacred object.
Along with the evergreen, the holly and the ivy and the mistletoe were important plants of the season, all symbolizing fertility and everlasting life. Mistletoe was especially venerated by the Celtic Druids, who cut it with a golden sickle on the sixth night of the moon, and believed it to be an aphrodisiac. (Magically -- not medicinally! It's highly toxic!) But aphrodisiacs must have been the smallest part of the Yuletide menu in ancient times, as contemporary reports indicate that the tables fairly creaked under the strain of every type of good food. And drink! The most popular of which was the "wassail cup" deriving its name from the Anglo-Saxon term "waes hael" (be whole or hale).
Medieval Christmas folklore seems endless: that animals will all kneel down as the Holy Night arrives, that bees hum the "100th psalm" on Christmas Eve, that a windy Christmas will bring good luck, that a person born on Christmas Day can see the Little People, that a cricket on the hearth brings good luck, that if one opens all the doors of the house at midnight all the evil spirits will depart, that you will have one lucky month for each Christmas pudding you sample, that the tree must be taken down by Twelfth Night or bad luck is sure to follow, that "if Christmas on a Sunday be, a windy winter we shall see", that "hours of sun on Christmas Day, so many frosts in the month of May", that one can use the Twelve Days of Christmas to predict the weather for each of the twelve months of the coming year, and so on.
Remembering that most Christmas customs are ultimately based upon older Pagan customs, it only remains for modern Pagans to reclaim their lost traditions. In doing so, we can share many common customs with our Christian friends, albeit with a slightly different interpretation. And thus we all share in the beauty of this most magical of seasons, when the Mother Goddess once again gives birth to the baby Sun-God and sets the wheel in motion again. To conclude with a long-overdue paraphrase, "Goddess bless us, every one!"
Posted by Judith at 11:35 AM
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Going thru my stuff and found this realy good picture of me!!! Don't know where it came from since I don't take good pics, but this one is nice. Besides the fact that my hair is now past my shoulders! It does grow fast!
Posted by Judith at 9:48 AM
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I'm tired of pain!!!!! I'm so tired of it.
Those of you who know me, know I have fibromyalgia....
What is Fibromyalgia?
"The variety and severity of symptoms caused by fibromyalgia vary from person to person. Widespread, chronic pain —often described as deep or burning—is the most common symptom.
This pain is more common in the body, hips, and shoulders, and it is rare in the hands and feet. It usually develops gradually and can interfere with even simple daily activities.
Other symptoms that commonly occur in addition to pain include:
Fatigue that interferes with work and daily activities.
Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking up feeling tired).
Less commonly, people with fibromyalgia may have:
Morning stiffness lasting more than an hour.
Constipation or diarrhea related to irritable bowel syndrome.
Memory problems and difficulty concentrating.
Anxiety or depression.
Fibromyalgia can sometimes feel like the flu. You may experience body aches, tiredness, and intestinal problems. The pain in your joints and muscles may be especially bothersome at night, waking you from sleep, or in the morning, when you may feel very stiff and sore. You may have trouble concentrating because of fatigue.
People with fibromyalgia have periods when their symptoms become worse and periods when they have milder or no symptoms. Flare-ups of fatigue and muscle and joint aches are common, especially following physical or emotional stress. Many people with fibromyalgia report that cold or damp weather, poor sleep, fatigue, stress, or overexertion makes their pain worse."
That little blurb from the doctor doesn't even begin to tell you what it's like! When they say chronic pain, they mean day in day out, FOREVER!!!! You can't exscape the pain, it doesn't go away, sometimes it's better, but it always THERE!!!
what you all don't know is that I'm in pain, like 24/7!!!! Sometimes it not too bad, sometimes it brutal.
I remember when it started. I had just had my son Matthew, so it was 26 years ago! After his birth, I couldn't sleep, my nice foam mattress seemed lumpy and hard. I started waking up every few hours...... my hip would hurt, my arm would hurt, and so on and so on. I'd wake up, change positions, and try to sleep again. Thought it was the mattress, got a new one, but nothing seemed to help me.
I'm one of the weird people who refused treatment. I didn't want to spend my life on pain pills.......... and that's about the only treatment they offer you.
So I spend my days in pain. I try to smile, but sometimes it's just too fucking hard!
Like now, I'm in a BIG FLAIR UP! My ribs hurt when I breath, my shoulders, upper back, and lower back ache constantly. If you think it's funny, put a nail thru your thigh, and keep hitting it all day long.... that's the pain...... but instead of one spot, it's all over the fucking place.
I know I can take the pain pills, but I refuse. I will on rare occasions take some Tylenol, but even that is rare and far between.
And I WOULD KILL for a night without pain!!!!!!!!
ONE FULL NIGHT OF SLEEP!!!! Sometimes I wake up 6 or 7 times a night!!!!! You think I would be used to it, but even after all this time................ when I have a bad flair up like now........ I want to run outside, and step in front of a big fast truck!!!!!! Why not, it already feels like I've been hit by a truck, maybe not surviving is the way to go.
But the flair up will go down, and for a while I'll still be hurting, and not sleeping.... but the pain will me much more manageable, and at times.... I'll not even think of it. Until I try to move, or clean, or work in the garden, or do any type of physical labor at all!!!!
But I keep moving, refusing to allow myself to wallow in the pain. I'll go to Englishtown and walk for hours, even though I know that for a week after..... even walking will be agony. Maybe that's how I handle pain. I aggravate it, and ignore it. Hay, works for me.
But tonight I'm gonna take a Tylenol. Because I would love to breath without pain!!!!! During a flair up I get so depressed! Even sitting reading a book hurts!!!!!
Posted by Judith at 3:31 PM
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Well, I did that last of the yard stuff this week. Emptied the hose, and stored it in the great box I bought, along with the cushions from the swing, and all kinds of pots and garden tools. Everything fit great!!! I did put the swing canape in the shed. Don't want to leave it out all winter, they get holes in them, so it's better that it's away in the shed.
My house is decorated for fall, and I went in the shed and brought the Christmas decorations up front, so on Thanksgiving weekend I can decorate the house.
I put the winter freeze guard on my outside spicket, and dug up the horseradish, and in that pot, I planted garlic. Garlic is always planted in the fall, for mid summer harvest.
I still have a few pots with mum's in them that I'll probably empty out this week, and put the pots away for spring...... but that's about it for now.
Everything is mulched, warm, and waiting for winter.
I gave up on the idea of painting!!!!
New people moved in next door, and they decided to paint........ well, lets just say the results were NOT good, and they even primed over the wall paper first..... so I'm not even going to attempt it. Must have been nuts in the first place to even think of it.
Though the ceilings will still get done...... but because of the trouble with the car....... new battery, and tires..... it will probably wait till spring to get done.
I'm not even thinking about Thanksgiving. I have no idea what I'm doing for it.
Seems kind of a lost cause if you can't eat Turkey :( It's just not the same. But I did buy a nice big ham just in case. Though I'm not a big fan of ham, maybe if it glaze it and put pineapple and Cherry's on it...... well, we'll see.
Posted by Judith at 11:17 AM