Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Gift

The Gift
by Ray Boltz

For them there were no presents
Around the Christmas tree
No flashing lights unless you count
The lamp across the street
A fire in a barrel
No chimney and no roof
To most of them Santa Claus
Was the man who made the soup

In an alley was a mother
Two children by her side
Trying hard to keep the spark
Of true Christmas alive
She said we may not have some things
That other people do
But Christmas is for everyone
And we're God's children too

Oh and Jesus loves you
And so do I
Think about the baby and the star up in the sky
I don't think Santa's comin'
Cause he don't know where we live
But who needs Christmas presents
We already have the gift

Well early Christmas morning
While they were still asleep
I packed a box of food and clothes
And walked back to their street
Imagine my surprise when I saw presents all around
Blankets, toys and winter coats beside them on the ground
And the card I read from Santa said
Inside the three of you
The real heart of Christmas is still beating strong and true

Oh and Jesus loves you
And so do I
Think about the baby and the star up in the sky
Santa Claus is comin'
Cause he knows where real faith lives
But who needs Christmas presents
We already have the gift
Who needs Christmas presents
We already have the gift

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Perfect Tree

The Perfect Tree
by Ray Boltz

The ornaments are ready
The place has been prepared
Strings of lights and holly
Are draped across the chair
The family's all together
I know where they must be
Everyone is searching
For the perfect tree

Mother wants a straight one
The children want it tall
Dad just hopes that somehow
He can get it down the hall
Soon they'll gather round it
As proud as they can be
But when they're looking at it
I wonder if they see

The perfect tree
Grew very long ago
And it was not decked with silver
Or with ornaments of gold
But hanging from its branches
Was a gift for you and me
Jesus laid His life down
On the perfect tree

With all the celebrations
Sometimes the truth is lost
That every step this baby took
Brought Him closer to the cross

The perfect tree
Grew very long ago
And it was not decked with silver
Or with ornaments of gold
But hanging from its branches
Was a gift for you and me
Jesus laid His life down
On the perfect tree

Come back tomorrow for The Gift.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Origins of the Christmas Tree - Part 3

Christmas trees sat on tables until the late 1800’s. Each family member had a tree on the table and his or her gifts were placed around their own tree. They began to stand on the floor and came in larger varieties and sizes. Soon manufactured trees began appearing.

The tree wavered in popularity due to times of mourning for Queen Victoria, wars, and hard times. Large trees were decorated and erected in public places to help the morale of the people during the hard times.

Live Christmas trees are still very popular, and what fun it is to go and tag your tree early in the fall and have it ready to be picked up on your specified date. It can be a family tradition with each member looking for the “perfect” tree.

Manufactured trees have gained popularity due to their convenience. These perfectly shaped trees can be put up and taken down without a single needle dropping into the carpet. They are so natural-looking that many times it fools everyone. You can even buy pine sprays to put on your tree to make it smell real.

The newest item is the already-lit Christmas tree. This was a brilliant idea and simplified life for many households. All you need to do is set up the tree, plug it in and then decorate it. No more messing with strings of tangled lights and wrapping them around the tree.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas as you and your family gather around your own Christmas tree and share stories and memories of Christmases past.

Come back tomorrow for the final Christmas tree post - The Perfect Tree.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Origins of the Christmas Tree - Part 2

Georgian Kings brought the first Christmas trees to England. Since the English didn’t like the German Monarchy, they didn’t copy their court by putting up Christmas Trees.

A few families did have Christmas trees as a result of the influence of their German neighbors. The Christmas tree didn’t grow in popularity among the English until the reign of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The German-born Prince had the family standing around the Christmas tree and it was illustrated in the London News. Since Queen Victoria was very popular, the tradition began to be copied and quickly spread from England to the shores of The East Coast in American society.

The first trees were decorated with silver tinsel, silver wire ornaments, small beads and candles. The decorations were home-made and young ladies spent hours working on Christmas crafts. They sewed little pouches for secret gifts, made paper baskets in which sugared almonds were placed and made beautiful angels to sit on top of the tree.

Glass ornaments appeared around 1870. They were imported from Thuringia to England and became a status symbol. The more glass ornaments on the tree, the better the social status. Flags also became popular to decorate the tree as the British Empire grew. Flags of allied countries as well as the Empire were hung on the patriotic trees.

In the 1800’s many innovations came along to change the Christmas tree forever. The introduction of electric lights in 1882 and metal hooks for hanging decorations on the tree safely are just a couple.

Come back tomorrow for Part 3.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Origins of the Christmas Tree - Part 1

The Christmas tree, like many other Christmas traditions, originated in Germany. In the 7th century, a monk from Devonshire traveled to Germany to preach the word of God. He spent time in Thuringia, an area of Germany, which became the center of the Christmas Decoration industry. Legend says he used the triangular shape of the fir tree to describe the Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. People began revering the fir tree instead of the traditional oak. The original Christmas trees were hung upside-down from ceilings as a symbol of Christianity.

The first decorated tree appeared in Latvia in 1510. Martin Luther is said to have been coming home and, seeing how the stars shined brightly through the fir trees and lighted the dark night, decided to add candles to his tree.

Christmas trees have been decorated with many different items. Food items were the symbol of plenty while paper flowers were symbolic of the tree in the Garden of Eden. Red flowers symbolized knowledge and white ones stood for innocence.

Another staple of the decorated Christmas tree is tinsel. It too originated in Germany around 1610. An interesting fact is that the original tinsel was actually made with pulled silver. It was durable, but did tarnish quickly. Silver was used for tinsel up until the mid-20th century.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Gift From the Kitchen

There are a myriad of ideas that you can implement to make people smile on Christmas day. Gifts can come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be any type of gift that you would like to give. Sometimes, thoughtful gestures of kindness are the best present to give.

If you’re handy in the kitchen, be sure to fix a meal for an elderly neighbor. Oftentimes, family members can be far away or deceased, so take the time and drop a plate off along with enough for left-overs for a few days.

Look for others in your neighborhood that might appreciate a friendly gesture such as those that have lost a job, or others that have a new baby in the household. Mothers always love it when they don’t have to do the cooking, especially when their own mother might be far away, and a happy trip home for the holidays is impossible for either.

Home-cooked meals can be taken to shelters for abused women and children or for homeless veterans too. Food is a necessity for life that you can share with others, and it certainly exemplifies the giving spirit of Christmas.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas at the Office

Co-workers are some of the hardest people to buy gifts for. You "know" them well because you spend so much time with them and yet you don't "know" them well on a personal level. You feel you should buy them gifts but don't really want to spend a lot of time or money on their gifts, so what can you do?!

Gift baskets are a great way to handle multiple gifts with some ease. While the gift basket may sound generic, it is actually one of the most personable of all gifts if you take the time to make it unique to you. Create a basket that will say, “This is a present from your favorite co-worker.”

Gift baskets that you make yourself can actually be quite low in cost because many of the items can be bought in bulk and then just split up between them all. The gift basket can also be of any size - depending on what you have to put in it. And it won't be a problem that everyone has the same gift because they will all be talking for weeks about the great “theme” basket they got from you.

You could choose a movie theme and your basket could include microwave popcorn, candy, and a classic DVD or gift certificates to your local rental store. Or how about an emergency kit for the car trunk? Simply go to your local discount store and buy travel packs of your basic first-aid items, a bottle or two of water, beef jerky, and a flashlight (don't forget the batteries!)

And while they are commonly referred to as gift "baskets," there is no reason why the "holder" needs to be a basket. Instead of using an actual basket, you can use anything that goes with your theme.

Get creative and maybe a theme that is related to your company would also be a great idea.