Herald Journal Columns
Dec. 26, 2005, Herald Journal

Keep the spirit of the season alive


I know Christmas Day was yesterday, and many people are happy that the “craziness” and stress that can go along with all the activities and festivities of the day may be over, but the holiday season is still upon us, and the “spirit” of Christmas should always be with us.

In actuality, the term “12 days of Christmas” means the 12 days following Christmas Day. Here’s a neat way for family members of all ages to continue the “spirit” and true meaning of Christmas, especially when a lot of the holiday “hoopla” is over.

Wrap up 12 small boxes, or just use 12 envelopes, with each box or envelope containing a slip of paper with an idea on how to continue to spread holiday love and cheer to others. Open up one box on each of the 12 days following Christmas.

Here are some ideas:

- Go to a nursing home or senior care center and visit with some residents there.

- Make New Years’ cards and send them to military personnel.

- Make a care package and send it to a military personnel serving in Iraq.

- Bring some goodies to a person who is shut-in.

- Bring food to a food shelf (after the holidays is when they really need donations).

- Visit an elderly neighbor (it’s nice for people to know that they are thought of at other times besides Christmas).

- Do something “neighborly” for a neighbor.

- Write thank-you notes to those who gave your family gifts.

- Bring a food dish to a family who has a dad/husband/mom/wife serving in the military.

These are activities your family can do together, good for people of all ages to participate in.

Share some laughter

I wanted to share a cute joke that I found, in the spirit of the holiday season (from the website, www.xmas.fun.com):

“T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care. They’d been worn all week, and needed fresh air. (As parents, we all know this certainly could be true.)

It is a great idea to share jokes with your children (of all ages). Laughter is wonderful for everyone and can lower stress levels, which is important for all of us, children included.

It is good to laugh together as a family, and it is important for children to see that adults can have fun and laugh, too.

Throw some laughter and humor into everyday activities, such as getting ready in the morning or making family meals.

Sing a song while cooking.

Share a joke with your son or daughter when they wake up in the morning to help them wake up on a positive note.

Your children may think something has happened to you, and may even call you “weird,” but nonetheless, they are really enjoying it!

Growing icicles

When I was a girl, I remember icicles hanging from the eaves and thinking how magical it looked. I also enjoyed breaking some off to play with and suck on (being careful that the icicle did not stick to my tongue and tear some skin off, which did happen a few times, but I learned to wet the icicle first).

With improved insulation, icicles hanging from roof eaves are not so common anymore. Here’s a way to bring some of that “icicle” magic back.

Poke a tiny hole in the bottom of a plastic container. Hang the container from a tree limb or porch roof, in an area that no one is likely to walk under.

Fill the container with water and set out on a frigid night. The next morning, you and your children will be treated to a lovely icicle (the same principle as putting a cup of water in the freezer, but it seems “different” when the water freezes outside.)

Did you know…

I visited Holasek and Son Greenhouse in Lester Prairie a couple of weeks ago to purchase a poinsettia plant and was amazed by the beautiful array of plants they had, in a spectrum of colors.

Some were painted purple and gold, or maroon and gold; some were adorned in glitter. I, of course, chose the traditional red, which the clerk told me is still the most popular.

While the poinsettia plant is enjoyed all over, it is native to Mexico. It got its name from Mexico’s first American ambassador, Joel Poinsett. He brought the plants back to America in 1828.

People in Mexico, in the 18th century, thought the beautiful, red, star-shaped leaves were symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem and thus, the poinsettia has become a favorite traditional plant at the Christmas season.

(I always believe knowledge is power – share some of these “tidbits” with your children, and they will think you are the smartest person on the planet!)

Happy New Year – may it be filled with love, laughter, and “magic.”