Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's almost CHRISTMAS!



I have always enjoyed the Christmas season. We have so many different traditions to celebrate. Over the course of the next few days I will try to share some Christmas symbols with you. A lot of the information that Iwill share I've garnered from many different sources, and I have used this information to create a "Hanging of the Greens" program that I have used during my time as Minister of Music in various churches across North and South Carolina.

A Christmas tree, Yule tree or Tannenbaum (German: fir tree) is one of the most popular traditions associated with the celebration of Christmas. It is normally an evergreen cone bearing tree that is brought into a home or used in the open, and is decorated with Christmas lights and colorful ornaments during the days around Christmas. An angel or star is often placed at the top of the tree, representing the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity story.

The Legend of the First Christmas Tree:
The night of the Savior's birth, all the living creatures, both flora and fauna, came to Bethlehem with gifts. The olive tree brought its fruit and the palm its dates. But the little fir tree had no gift and was so tired it couldn't resist when the big trees pushed it into the background and hid it from view. But then a nearby angel took pity and commanded a cluster of stars to come and rest on its delicate boughs. When the Baby Jesus beheld this lovely lighted tree, He smiled and blessed it, declaring henceforth that fir trees should always be filled with lights at Christmastime to please little children.


"Oh Christmas Tree"
1. O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree,
Thou tree most fair and lovely.
O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree,
Thou tree most fair and lovely.
The sight of thee at Christmas-tide
Spreads hope and gladness far and wide.
O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree,
Thou tree most fair and lovely.
2. O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree,
Thou hast a wondrous message.
O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree,
Thou hast a wondrous message.
Thou dost proclaim the Savior's birth,
Good will to men and peace on earth.
O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree,
Thou hast a wondrous message.
3. O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree,
You glow with Christmas brightness.
O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree,
We sing with joyful lightness.
The radiance of this happy night,
To all of us gives hope and light,
O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree,
You glow with Christmas brightness.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving part II







After a magnificent meal on Thanksgiving day, I've had a chance to do some more reflecting on things for which I am grateful. In spite of a rough year financially, Bren was able to go back to school! She is working hard at getting her associates degree at Greenville Tech, one of the great things in South Carolina. I am thankful that I live in such an excellent part of the Upstate. We can be in the mountains in a matter of minutes or at the beach in just a few hours. South Carolina has it all! ( Of course, I am just a little prejudiced, being a native born son!) I am grateful for some of the fun traditions we have here: the family dinner at major holidays, friendly rivalry between some of our schools: Clemson and USC, Furman and The Citadel, and the old time Parker High versus Greenville High game. Of course that last one is just a memory, but for graduates of those two schools before the 1970's, those games are still fresh and the fun is in talking about them.




I'm thankful that I can still learn something! Our eldest and his wife have taken up the hiking bug, and I've been following their progress with great interest. They have even found a place here in Greenville County that I didn't know about. Just recently they went hiking at the Conestee Nature Park. With that name I would have thought that it is located downstate, but it is right here in Greenville County. I guess us older folks will have to go take a look at the place and do a little non-strenuous hiking ourselves. We have a good number of parks available to hike in our here. Table Rock (pictured), Paris Mountain, Jones Gap, and Pleasant Ridge just to name a few. The last three are in Greenville County.

I am especially happy to have found an old friend on Classmates.com. FER and I have been friends ever since elementary school, sharing many,many experiences. Somehow we lost touch over the years, but now we get a chance to share again. God is good!












Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things for which I am Thankful

At this time of the year it is good to pause and reflect on things for which we are thankful. Even though the times have been very tough for us economically this past year, we DO have quite a few things for which we are grateful.

Let's begin with the big one: We are so thankful for our family.

We have a new granddaughter! Our first grandchild is a very special gift from our younger son and his wife. She was born in Sweden in October. We will see her for the first time at Christmas. Her other set of grandparents are flyig us to Sweden for the holidays! We are so grateful for our friendship with them!



This year our older son and his wife gave us the present of a special family vacation to Tybee Island GA. Without their help we would not have been able to go on vacation this year. They have been very good to my wife and me this year, helping us out when they could, and just generally brightening up some tough times.



We can be thankful for our parents too. Even though they are getting on up there as far as age is concerned, they are as youthful as ever in their attitudes. They have helped us out when we would have been without transportation more times than once. And they have helped to keep our spirits up also. My wife's sisters and mother helped her go on a cruise this fall so they could have some family time together. Her sisters are trying to support each other more than they have in the past and it is allowing them to grow closer together.


We are especially thankful for our church family. Yes, I said family. Not church friends. Our church is a very friendly church, and they have taken us in and helped us several times. They have helped with the support of cash, and prayers, and even once, new glasses after mine broke. That's not just friends, that's family.