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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Twelvth Day of Christmas -- The Feast of Giving

Today is Christmas morning let us rejoice and be glad. As a Christians, we celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus who was the greatest gift that Our Father could give us: his only son the Lord Jesus Christ. Many times in my blog, I post things about the Universal Consciousness. As a Christian, I believe that one Supreme Being drives that consciousness: God. Many of you may have other beliefs and that's what's wonderful about this world: that we can be unique yet still part of a Whole.

Today we celebrate that in giving we receive. After we open the physical presents and sit down to share our Christmas Meal hopefully, we will also share a Christmas blessing. God wants us all to have joy and peace but this world is full of imperfections and sometime much heartache, war, poverty and injustice. God's gift to us was salvation through his own son. In addition, God is the giver who never stops giving. He is the Eternal Giver.

This upcoming year I will continue to give from my heart in the form of writing. I may or may not reach my goal of traditional publication, which, as best as I can tell, is about a .5% chance of happening; however, I will give and continue to work on my craft with joy and peace.

I hope that you, too, will give from your heart and feel the joy that life has to offer. Whatever your belief is, may you enjoy today with your family and friends.

The True Meaning of Christmas 

 This sentiment of the true meaning of Christmas appeared in The American magazine, vol. 28 (1889): "to give up one's very self — to think only of others — how to bring the greatest happiness to others — that is the true meaning of Christmas".

God who gave his only son initially inspired the giving of Christmas gifts. However, in the non-biblical definition, as it appeared in pop-culture, inspired an overt avoidance of the religious meaning. Instead, the commercialization of Christmas and the holiday shopping season was born.

According to research, The poem A Visit From St. Nicolas (1822) helped popularize the tradition of exchanging gifts, and thus the economic importance of seasonal Christmas shopping took it's seemingly permanent place in human history.

However, why can we not enjoy both the spiritual and material aspects of giving? First, we experience what Christmas means to us from a spiritual base and then we give to those we love in a material sense. I know, for me, there's no greater joy than seeing my loved ones open gifts they can enjoy and use beneficially. For those of you who have children, there is no greater joy; I'm sure, than to see the light and excitement shine through their eyes when they are opening their gifts from Santa on Christmas morning.

I've enjoyed posting the Twelve Days of Christmas and I hope you've received pleasure from my gift to you.

However you celebrate, may you enjoy the True Meaning of Christmas in your own unique and special way. Have a wonderful holiday!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Eleventh Day of Christmas -- Feast of Seven Fishes

The Feast of Seven Fishes is an Italian-American tradition.  Being of 100% Italian descent, I can boast of having had many of them. Some Italian families have eight to thirteen different fishes on this special Christmas Eve holiday and it is unclear when the tradition began. Eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the tradition of abstinence adopted by the Roman Catholic dictate, which requires the devoted to refrain from the consumption of meat on Fridays, and on the eve of specific holy days.

Dinner begins at three PM and you dare not be late!

Personally, I enjoy this dinner more than Christmas Day's fare.

This celebration commemorates the wait of the baby Jesus, the Vigilia Natale at midnight Christmas Eve.

The most famous dish Southern Italians are known for is baccalà (salted cod fish) phonetically spelled (b -ka-la). Our family is from Calabria and Sicily. I can't tell you when we last had baccalà. This year our family is getting together with close relatives and pooling our contributions including stuffed calamari or (ka la mare) which is the body of squid stuffed with a savory clam and clam infused spicy bread filling) and slowed cooked in gravy (our word for tomato sauce) served with spaghetti, of course. My parents adopted a lobster of sorts: large prawn roasted with a tangy butter sauce. There will be fresh shrimp, and fried shrimp (counting for two more fishes) now we have a total of five. Then perhaps there will be fried smelts, which are popped in your mouth and eaten, whole. If you can get them, broiled lobster tails are delicious served with hot melted butter. Don't forget the clams - steamed, baked or stuffed. And perhaps some scallops. You can always get more American phonetically pronounced (Med i can) and serve broiled tilapia or salmon. Now we have way more than seven. Oh, I forgot about the salad. Insalata dimara (seafood salad) my father-in-law who is Sicilian Napolidan (from the region of Naples) makes it with scungilli, conch, shrimp, calamari, celery, green olives, oil and lemon. You can always throw the anchovies (pronounced ah leech) on the antipasto. By now, surely, you've lost count, altogether, but you've got well more than seven fishes!

And why seven? According to research, seven is the most repeated number in the bible and appears over 700 times.
One popular theory is the number represents completion, as shown in Genesis 2:2: "By the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work." Theories about using seven fishes include: they represent the seven Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church and seven is a number representing perfection; the traditional Biblical number for divinity is three, and for Earth is four, and the combination of these numbers, seven. Then God on Earth arrives via the Baby Jesus Christ. Folklore would claim it's because of the seven hills surrounding the city of Rome.

However you celebrate, enjoy your Christmas Eve. God Bless!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tenth Day of Christmas -- Have you Baked Yet?

I, for one, am certainly not a baker. Never have been and baked goods are usually not on my diet. However, for the tenth day of Christmas I decided that it would be a great family event to bake together. Previously on the second day of Christmas posting (see below) I  put a blurb in about baking the traditional Italian pastry called pita piata ( I always thought it was pronounced bita biata, oh well). That was quite a venture!

I clipped a few recipes from contest winners in our local newspapers and decided upon the following cookies: mint chocolate, gingerbread and oatmeal. And we got a bottle of Bacardi Gold rum to add to our very own rum cake.

The kids will be over later and we'll start our baking. However, my other half is starting on the rum cake now.

Hope you enjoy your own baking. If you don't eat the cookies you can always put them out on your Christmas table.

Ninth Day of Christmas

A Village Display 

After you've attended the Christmas pageants, parades, open house tours, and toured the neighborhood lights, you may be ready to settle down to a holiday movie. The old ones like Miracle on 34th street, A Christmas Carol and White Christmas. Or the new ones like Home Alone and  Elf. You could record them and watch them at your leisure.

Soon it will be Christmas. Time to reflect on our Lord or whatever Your Higher Power is and thank Him for all He had done.

I don't know if you plan to attend a church service, but I hope you do. It will be very uplifting and give you a good feeling inside.

That thought that the magic will soon be over is niggling at my brain. I have to stop it. Because the joy of the holiday season can truly be carried with us the whole year long!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Eighth Day of Christmas

Chocolate Wonder World
Forget the diet, well, to a certain extent. There are so many delectable treats, chocolates, cookies, cakes and other sweet delights. Or you can simply enjoy the store displays.

Seventh Day of Christmas - Window Shopping

]A stroll through any local downtown area will reveal some amazing store Christmas decorates windows. Grab and coffee and peruse them!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sixth Day of Christmas -- Excellence Verses Perfection

What is the difference between excellence and perfection -- to you?

I've read one definition: excellence is trust and perfectionism is selfishness.
To me, when working with a group of people, and the Universe is comprised of many people, beings, angels, etc, you have to believe that your contribution, when made in it's best effort, is all you have to do. Then trust the Universe to return back to you whatever else you need to do.
Perfection --- just merely aiming for it is futile. We are mere immortals, humans and there is NO perfection. Being flawed is part of our beauty. To me, the selfishness come in when we are so absorbed with achieving what it unachievable we miss out on the beauty and the happenings around out.

What do you think? Feel free to post! Namaste!

Fifth Day of Christmas --- Simplicity

The Simple Life

Embrace the simple pleasures in life. A walk on the beach, a ride on a little boat, a stroll through central park or a busy downtown shopping area. Enjoy it without a particular mission in mind, just simply take in the sights and appreciate whatever detail your mind can absorb. The above picture was taken from a fifteen foot john boat and I saw many sights including the following sunset. The world viewed from the water:

Sun Setting on the East
And don't forget your sanctuary -- peaceful moments there are precious.
Your Sanctuary
If life is too complicated, think of what you can do to eliminate the unnecessary and enhance the simplicity in your life!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Are you feeling Frazzeled? Here's Your Fourth Day of Christmas Gift to the Rescue


Take a few minutes to just be. Give yourself a few minutes, first in the morning, to clear your mind and think of absolutely nothing. Do you count down from 10 to 1 as previously posted in the second day of Christmas (see below) and tune into the silence and peace a clear mind provides. 

I challenge you to give yourself these moments for yourself. Even five minutes, if you can, of a totally empty clear mind. Can you do it? Or do a thousand thoughts cross your mind while you are attempting the exercise?

This time of year, we are so busy, writing the cards, fighting the traffic to get to the mall or the store. Possibly fighting with relatives trying to coordinate the holidays (I'm Italian, so you might imagine this!) ... but if you can take a few minutes at the outset of the day in your sanctuary to clear your mind for those few precious moments. 

Then when the craziness creeps back up in your life you can go back to initial state of peace you felt and recall it into the current moment. 
Give it a try! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Third Day of Christmas-Three-Worded Mantra

Do you use mantras?
Today I awoke and recited my daily affirmations aloud and really paid attention to the content of the words, like for example: "I refuse to accept undesirable circumstance as having final outcome".
Then I prepared myself, in quite a chipper mood, to catch up with paperwork on my desk and, uh, yes I had to open three more form rejections. Two of them were sent back, one with my Thanksgiving-themed return address label and the other with my Christmas-themed return address label. I will add that the two were both from the same agent. Yes, I know you're supposed to have a tracking system. Well, I foolishly mailed them to the same agent but that was before I had my excel spreadsheet for snail-mailed agents. Anyway, I feared the agent would be perturbed that I submitted twice, but fortunately he or she probably missed that I duplicate-submitted because I got two form "Dear Author" rejections (same exact copy) politely stating that because of the huge volume of submissions he/she was unable to respond in a personal manner. However, that I should be assured that he/she had most dutifully read my query and brief synopsis and that they were sorry to decline interest in the project. I wonder, then, would he/she have time to read the query/synopsis?
 The above are merely ramblings of my mind, departed from the original affirmation in the second paragraph above. And NOW I shall share with you my third Day of Christmas gift, which is a three-worded mantra:


Whatever your goal is, no matter what, keep this three-worded mantra in mind ... or create one of your own. Never stop in the pursuit of your goal. Anything you put your mind to, with resilient effort, you will succeed in.