Sunday Stills: #Traditions

Japanese Tea Ceremony Graphic

December is the time of year when we experience a variety of traditions. Some are long-standing, while others may be brand-new.

patiently waiting for Christmas in San Diego

Many families celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or other traditional events that may not be related to spiritual expression during the holidays.

Of course, celebrating holiday traditions means spending time with loved ones. I caught my little nieces gazing at the ocean during our traditional week’s stay in San Diego. With (usually) good weather, a Christmas Day trip to the beaches is a long-standing tradition in our family.

I love this image of my sis-in-law cuddling with one of her adoptive daughters as they open presents.

A young mother's embrace

Decor (or lack of)

Preparations for Christmas and our annual road-trip south to San Diego where most of our families live find us busy. Because we are away from home for 2-3 weeks, I decorate minimally and don’t put up a traditional Christmas tree. Instead we enjoy the Christmas trees of our families. Included in my minimal traditional decor is my 3-foot  wooden tree adorned with yellow lights.

Music

I am all about music during the holidays! I will happily start listening exclusively to Christmas music right after Thanksgiving.

These are two of my old favorites that simply aren’t Christmas unless I hear them: (Click to listen)

Linus and Lucy from Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas Like a Lullaby by John Denver

Something New

For the first time in years, my husband and I attended a concert. For the last four years, thanks to fellow blogger Doug Warren, I’ve been listening to Spotify. In 2018 I signed up for a premium account and started following artists. Spotify notified me of a concert by new-to-me, multi-talented electric-violinist Lindsey Stirling. After Thanksgiving we attended her concert in downtown Sacramento.

New Favorite: I Wonder as I Wander Lindsey Stirling

Going to a winter concert may be a new tradition for us!

A Surprise Event

To add to our busy-ness, a friend convinced us to host a high school student from Japan during the first weekend in December (Thursday-Tuesday).  At first I was reluctant, but she sent me the itinerary and it was do-able.

Cultural Homestay International is a program that provides cultural and educational experiences for high school students.

Cultural Homestay International (CHI) is a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1980 with the aim of promoting international understanding and goodwill through people-to-people exchanges. To live, study, or work together leads to a transformational experience of acceptance and genuine affection. 

This experience ran in conjunction with a local Christian high School and provided activities that included two days of school, excursions and other evening events. A group of 30 students from Ibaraki (north of Tokyo) stayed in the Sacramento area.

Our sweet student was 17 years old and had a good command of English. She loved our dogs. I discovered one of her hobbies (besides shopping) was Tea Ceremony Club. I did not have any photos of her, but the featured image with the graphic may give you an idea of this ancient Japanese tradition.

She celebrates Christmas with her family but only the retail stores have decorations up for all to enjoy. She got a kick out of seeing the Christmas lights and hearing Christmas music.

More photos next week for “festive!”

 

Your Turn

What traditions, new or old, do you observe or cannot live without during the holiday season? Please link back to this post for Sunday Stills, or simply comment!

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49 Days In 1988: Week 31 – First Night – Hugh’s Views & News

Night sky

Many thanks to Hugh for featuring me on his blog today!

This weekly feature shares accounts from his journal written in the 1980s and introduces bloggers’ book project and favorite 80s songs!

If you have not visited Hugh’s blog yet, please stop by!

Photo by Emre Gencer on Unsplash

via 49 Days In 1988: Week 31 – First Night – Hugh’s Views & News

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I’ve Got the Music In Me

Climb-Every-Mountain

Climb-Every-Mountain

Day three of Writing 101 asked us to write about three of the most important songs in our lives and why they are meaningful.

Now that Easter has just passed, a song that holds deep meaning for me is “In Christ Alone.” Although strong in my Christian faith, I still fall short every day. Too often I try to solve problems myself or needlessly worry about things that are out of my control.

A few years ago, when a particularly stressful work situation came up and I was literally alone, I stopped and gave it all to God. During the moments I prayed and asked God for help, I could feel the tension leaving my body. As I leaned on the Lord during that difficult time, I knew He was “my light, my strength, my song”…and in His power I would stand, as the lyrics state. Here are the first and last verses of the song.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry, to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Six years ago on April 9th, I (re)met the man who became my husband in 2013. I thought for weeks to what song I would walk down the aisle at our wedding. I finally decided on an instrumental piano and guitar version of “Climb Every Mountain” from the Sound of Music. The musical is my all-time favorite, not just because of the incredible Julie Andrews and the talented cast, but what the message of the true story conveys. Here are some of the lyrics.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.

The third song that holds deep meaning for me, is from the beloved A Charlie Brown Christmas’ “Linus and Lucy,” by Vince Guaraldi Trio. The sheer happiness and joy that emanates from this song is really indescribable.It was 1968 when I first saw this show at Christmas time. The kids dancing were actually performing the popular dances of the day (1964)…the “pony” was one of them.

Who doesn’t feel like a child again when you hear this merry tune? And later in the show, Linus walks out on stage and proclaims the passage from Luke 2 to answer Charlie Brown’s question “Isn’t there anyone, who knows what Christmas is all about?” That never gets old.

Enjoy this Youtube version of Linus and Lucy and do a little happy dance today to celebrate your childhood!

What are your favorite songs and how do they make you feel?

Desiderata–You Are a Child of the Universe

Sitting on beach
Sitting on beach
Child of the Universe

Happy Saturday and last day of February, 2015! I had to share this post again with this back story.

I had some business on my university campus last summer and as I stood in line, a young woman in front of me sported a tattoo with some of the words from this poem: “You are a child of the universe…” Both our jaws dropped when I asked her if this was from Desiderata, then finished the sentence, “…no less than the trees and the stars…” I was surprised I remembered it.

She must have picked up the poem from her parents, so much so that she dedicated those words onto her shoulder and upper arm. Truly a throwback to the seventies!

If you were around in the 1970s, this poem was so popular it became a  song on the radio. If you were a hippie in the 1970s this was also on your 8-track.

Read this, it is as meaningful today as it was in the 70s, and as it was when it was originally written (1920s). The Latin for Desiderata means “desired things.”

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

 Author – Max Ehrmann (1872 – 1945)

Note: Due to copyright infringement issues, I have recently deleted several stanzas of the poem. Please google Desiderata poem for the words.

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About this poem:

Desiderata was apparently written between 1906 & 1920 by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) who copyrighted the piece in 1927. The confusion about authorship of this poem is due to its distribution by Reverend Frederick Kates within a collection of works for his congregation in 1959.  The church notepaper was headed “The Old St Paul’s Church, Baltimore, AD 1692”. As the poem became more widely circulated, it came to be assumed that the poem originated in this old church which was founded in 1692.