Category Archives: Friends

Christmas Traditions

Good Christmas Gifts & Theirs Powerful Effects - Gift Hunters

Christmas is an annual festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25th each year. Christmas is both a religious and cultural celebration observed by billions of people around the world, both Christian and non-Christian.

The observance of Christmas occurs in 160 countries worldwide and celebration varies by country. Some countries celebrate on Christmas Day or December 25th. Australia, New Zealand, Bolivia, South Africa, Argentina, and Madagascar celebrate Christmas in another month other than December.

Christmas celebrations around the world can vary greatly in Christmas traditions. They usually involve setting up a Christmas tree with lights, hanging Advent wreaths and stockings, candy canes. Churches and families set up nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. Families also send out Christmas cards, exchange gifts, and prepare a Christmas feast to share with their family or their extended families.

I have practiced the following traditions most of the years or done it in a different way as time changed in the recent years.

1. Send Christmas Cards or Letters

I wrote a Christmas letter one year to print it on the Christmas stationery. After that, I switched to sending photos. I picked photos that represented the major activities or events of that year and included descriptions of them. The first couple of years, I made a collage of photos with Publisher, saved it as Jpeg, made 5”x7” prints to send them out. Then I switched again to order the 5”x7” Christmas cards from Costco. For the last two years, I ordered two-sided cards.

2. Exchange gifts

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My husband came from a large family. In the early years, instead of giving gifts to everyone, members of the extended family drew a name to be the receiver of the gift. The members of the immediate family, of course, exchanged gifts on their own. I bought gifts for my immediate family and wrapped them and put them under the tree. For the last five to seven years, I no longer bought gifts to send to my daughter’s family. Instead, I asked them what they would like to have for Christmas, then ordered them on Amazon, Macy’s, Columbia Sportswear, REI, or Sierra. The stores sent the gifts directly to them. If the clothes, shoes, or other items are not exactly right, they would return them, and I would order the right size until they’re happy with them. I don’t wrap Christmas gifts anymore.

3. Have a Christmas Dinner

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Our extended family used to have the Christmas dinner on Christmas day around 1:00 p.m. After dinner, some members would go to visit their in-laws from another part of the town, or another state. After the children are grown and married, most of the members spend Christmas with their grown children and grandchildren. We don’t meet as a large family.

I have been going to Portland, Oregon for many years to spend Christmas with my daughter’s family and enjoy our time with the grandkids.

4. Advent/Christmas Countdown Activities

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One friend brought a 2’x2’ wooden Advent calendar with drawers to a women’s meeting to share her tradition with us. She used this calendar for years during the growing-up years of her kids. She had age-appropriate activities for her four children. Another friend who was a teacher brought a 2D calendar to share what she did for her second-grade class for many years. Ideas such as filling 24 drawers with notes, candy, small toys, or keeping special ornaments in each box! For a 2D calendar, each day can be a window that opens to show the activity for that day.

5. Decorate a Christmas Tree

My granddaughter Nora picked a tree

We’ve had a Christmas tree almost every year ever since we live in a house. We only have the artificial tree, though. When I first decorated a tree, I covered the entire tree with garlands and ornaments. Several years ago, my daughter inspired me to do it with minimal decorations. I like it. It leaves so much room to show the green. My daughter and her husband pick their tree either from the national forest or tree farm. People can get a permit from Recration.gov to purchase a permit. It cost $5 for a permit of each tree plus $2.5 for the online processing fee charged by the website.

I think they got their tree from a tree farm this year. Autumn and Nora had a great time helping to pick one.

6. Start a Holiday-Themed Collection

My Hallmark Singing Snowmen Collection ⛄️ (2017) - YouTube

My sister-in-law collects snowmen. She hosts Thanksgiving dinner for many years. She put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving to make the event festive. She decorated the entire house with snowmen, from ornaments to wall hangings, stuffed snowmen, snowman candles, to a ten feet tall figure. I collected Santa, angels, and nutcrackers, but didn’t go too far before I stopped.

7. Attend a Christmas show or see The Nutcracker Ballet

Official Trailer: THE NUTCRACKER from Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema | Dec 18 -  YouTube

I have done both. We bought the season tickets to see the Broadway shows at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater for many years. The Christmas show is always a heartwarming story of Mr. and Mrs. Santa. The last song is an invitation for all the kids to come on the stage with the help of the elves. Mr. and Mrs. Santa would pick the youngest kids to sit on their laps when they sing the last song.

When I was teaching, I took my students to see The Nutcracker ballet every year as one of my field trips. I teamed with another class to go to share the cost of the school buses. I also took my daughter to the theater to see The Nutcracker. When I stopped going to see it in the theater, my daughter and I still watched the DVD at home.

On Saturday, December 11, 2021, my daughter Mercy took her older daughter, Autumn, to see The Nutcracker. They’ll start a new tradition.

8. Watch a Christmas Movie

My favorite Christmas movies are White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and The Polar Express. There are many newer Christmas movies. I don’t watch too many movies and I like these old ones so much that I seem to watch the same ones all the time.

9. Visit Christmas Lights, before or after Christmas

We went to this Christmas Boat Parade in 2018

Since 1932, each house on Peacock Lane – Christmas Street, in Southeast Portland Oregon, has been decorating for Christmas. The residents of Peacock Lane are happy to share that they will display their lights from December 15th – December 31st. For safety reasons, the Portland Police may shut down the Lane to motor vehicle traffic. My husband and I joined my daughter’s family to stroll up and down Peacock Lane one year. Each house had themed light decorations. The address is SE Peacock Lane, Portland, OR 97214.

For the last four years, except in 2020, my husband and I went to Newport Beach to take a cruise to watch the Christmas Boat Parade.

10. Build a Gingerbread House

One year, our church fellowship group had the Christmas catering dinner at a retirement facility. Every year the chef starts months before the season to use his own time to build the Gingerbread Village. He built one house at a time, and the trees, the decorations, and put them in the freezer. Right after Thanksgiving, he would set up the village and add the operatable train. The residents and visitors admired this creation with wonder.

My daughter built a Gingerbread house with Autumn. I know many families do this activity with their kids.

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You may have practiced some Christmas traditions for years, but you no longer keep them because of life changes. You may still keep some, or you want to start a new one. How about traditions your parents had? How about traditions your grown children have with their families?

Please describe them and share them with us in the comments. Thank you! 

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National Gratitude Month – November

November is National Gratitude Month – Royal Threads by Erica

Yvette M. Calleiro reminds me of a Calm calendar for November. You can download it if you’re interested.

National Gratitude Month is celebrated every November. It was declared the month of gratitude in 2015 after author Stacey Grewal advocated for it.

“Gratitude is an essential ingredient of a happy, fulfilling life,” said Grewal, who wrote the book Gratitude and Goals. “Research shows that practicing daily gratitude can enhance our moods, decrease stress and drastically improve our overall level of wellbeing. This challenge is a great opportunity to see if you can improve your life by getting more in touch with gratitude.” Grewal pointed out that, on average, grateful people tend to be happier, healthier; more physically fit, have a higher income and have much more satisfying personal and professional relationships. – PR Newswire

“Gratitude – The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” – Oxford Dictionary

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I will take time to relax, reflect on things I’m thankful for this year, write, and be with my extended family to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

I will focus on expressing gratitude in many ways :

1. Write a daily gratitude journal (could be brief)

2. Wake up filling my mind and my heart with thankfulness

3. Be grateful for health (good or not so good) and being alive

4. Be intentional to show appreciation to family members, friends, and people around me.

5. Stop and be thankful for the safe environment

6. Appreciate the natural beauty around me

7. Be generous in giving in a tangible way

What would you add to this list? I would like to hear it.

This means my blogging time will be reduced. I have two posts later in the month. Other than that, I’ll resume posting in December, in time to celebrate Christmas.

Pin by Alyssa McCool on Thanksgiving Joy | Thanksgiving quotes, Thankful  quotes, Happy thanksgiving quotes
Editor's Note: Living Grateful and Thankful – Wisconsin Conference of  Seventh-day Adventists

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Kindness

It’s the fourth week of the month! Harmony Kent from last month’s challenge picked the theme for Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge. This month’s theme is Kindness.

 

I chose the Alouette poetry form for this poem.

The Alouette, created by Jan Turner, consists of two or more stanzas of 6 lines each, (12 lines or more) with the following set rules: Syllabic: 5/5/7/5/5/7, Rhyme Scheme:  aabccb.

The form name is a French word meaning ‘skylark’ or larks that fly high, the association to the lark’s song being appropriate for the musical quality of this form.  The word ‘alouette’ can also mean a children’s song (usually sung in a group), and although this poetry form is not necessarily for children’s poetry (but can be applied that way), it is reminiscent of that style of short lines.  

 

 

 

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2021 – #Potluck – #ChineseNewYear by Miriam Hurdle

I’m with Sally at Smorgasbord Blog Magazine today. Sally features my post about the legend and traditions of Chinese New Year. I learned a lot by preparing this post. It brought back many childhood memories. Please head over to visit Sally and her rich features on her blog.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1100 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine.

The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics. This series is along the same lines… but is a ‘Lucky Dip’

In this series I will be sharing posts from the first six months of 2021 – details of how you can participate are at the end of the post.

This is the first post from children’s author and poet Miriam Hurdle and was published in February 2021 and is a celebration of Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year – Memories, Calendar, Legend, and Traditions

Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 12, 2021. It is the year of Ox. The holiday was…

View original post 1,589 more words

The Covid Effect – Vaccinated or Unvaccinated

The US President Biden announced on Thursday, July 29, 2021, that people will get $100 in payment to get vaccinated! Here’s the story leading up to the current news.

The IMF and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The Covid-19 Devastation

The first announcement of pandemic and lockdown in California was March 2020. In the following nine months, Covid cases and deaths throughout the nation spread like a plague. The entire world was in a helpless and desperate state as the scientist wasted in no time to find a solution. I developed a spreadsheet to track the numbers and paid attention to the cities, states, and countries where I have family and friends.

I canceled my trip in March 2020 to be with my daughter for the birth of my younger granddaughter, Nora. My husband and I didn’t go to my niece’s wedding in October 2020 in Hong Kong. We didn’t go to my husband’s niece’s wedding in November 2020 in New York.

We watched the news and waited. Then Pfizer and BioNTech announced on December 11, 2020, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the emergency use of the mRNA vaccine against Covid-19. The authorizations of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were issued early in 2021. The news highlighted President Biden and Vice-president Harris received the vaccines.

Source: Pfizer

The Hope

People lined up for miles waiting to get the vaccination. Some even drove from New York to Florida to get their shots. In the months to come, individuals and organizations volunteered to make appointments for the folks who couldn’t get through the busy phone lines. Again, individuals and car rentals stepped up to give rides for many to the vaccination sites. Mobile clinics delivered vaccines to some hard-to-reach neighborhoods.

The Relief

After the spring break for schools in 2021, the cases and deaths declined steadily, showing a sign of recovery in the society. There was such a relief of hope that life will become normal again. President Biden promised that there would be a July 4th Independent Day celebration. There was!

We watched the Washington D.C. spectacular fireworks with such excitement. I made up the lost time in visiting my daughter’s family. We have visited them and enjoyed the granddaughters in March, May, and June 2021, and have scheduled at least the next trips in August and September. Our church met in person on June 20. The adult fellowship and women’s groups scheduled different small group gatherings. I’ve attended almost two meetings a week. I also attended my chorale rehearsal held in a member’s backyard.

 Déjà Vu

The month of July has seen Covid-19 cases in the United States increase at the fastest pace since last winter, marking the start of the latest wave of infections to afflict the nation. A new STAT analysis of Covid-19 case data reveals this new wave is already outpacing the spring and summer waves of 2020.

Source: Statnews July 26, 2021

“The current COVID-19 surge in the U.S. – fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant – will steadily accelerate through the summer and fall, peaking in mid-October, with daily deaths more than triple what they are now.

“In that scenario, at the peak in mid-October, there would be around 60,000 cases and around 850 deaths each day. Each scenario also includes a range of how bad things could get – the very worst end of the range for the most likely scenario shows about 240,000 people getting infected and 4,000 people dying each day at the October peak, which would be almost as bad as last winter,” says Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina.

Lessler notes that there’s a lot of uncertainty in these projections and that how things play out depends on lots of factors.

Source: NPR July 22, 2021

The Skepticism of Vaccination

Rochelle P. Walensky, Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out that the new surge became a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The outbreaks of cases in parts of the country are higher because of the high percentage of unvaccinated people who are at risk. And the communities that are fully vaccinated are generally doing well. The news reports showing that those being hospitalized or dying of covid-19 are overwhelmingly unvaccinated.

NPR reported that the vaccine rollout reached a critical stage in which most adults who wanted the vaccine have gotten it, but many others were holding out. There were 12 influential social media users have impacted the outcome. These 12 individuals are well known to both researchers and the social networks. They include anti-vaccine activists, alternative health entrepreneurs and physicians. Some of them run multiple accounts across the different platforms.

Source: NPR May 13, 2021

Vaccine Incentive Programs

As of July 28, 2021, at least 189,494,180 people or 58% of the population have received at least one dose. Overall, 163,588,042 people or 50% of the population have been fully vaccinated.

On Thursday, July 29, President Biden called on state and local governments to use funds from his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to offer $100 payment to individuals as incentive to get vaccinated. The payments would be offered to newly vaccinated Americans.

Source: ABC News

Do incentives work? Yes… and no. Some people are motivated by cash incentive but some are not.

On May 27, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom launched the $116.5 million vaccine incentive program – the biggest in the nation – to boost vaccinations as California prepares to fully reopen the economy June 15, $100 million in $50 prepaid or grocery cards for the next two million newly vaccinated people, and $16.5 million in cash prizes for all vaccinated Californians.

Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery program, which offered $1-million prizes and full-ride four-year college scholarships to vaccinated people. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests lottery incentive programs do not increase the likelihood that individuals will become vaccinated.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California and winners of the “Vax for the Win” lottery in Los Angeles last month.

Vaccination Mandate from Employers

President Biden announced Thursday a strict new vaccine requirement for US federal workers, the nation’s largest workforce with some two million people. The order requires employees to show proof of vaccination or be subjected to mandatory testing and masking. “This is an American tragedy. People are dying, and will die, who don’t have to die,” Biden said in the East Room of the White House.

After months of encouraging employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19, companies are beginning to roll out mandates – a dramatic escalation of Corporate America’s approach to halting the spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, Google and Facebook became the first two Silicon Valley giants to issue mandates of their own.

Here are the companies that have announced Covid-19 vaccine requirements for at least some of their employees:

Google, Facebook, Twitter (TWTR), Netflix, BlackRock (BAAPX), Morgan Stanley (MS), Delta, Disney, Saks Fifth Avenue, The Washington Post, Ascension Health, Lyft, and Uber. The list is growing.

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What do you think about vaccination?

Do I enjoy being poked by the needles? No, I don’t. I’m allergic to some unknown medications to me and my doctors. The allergic reaction caused inflammation to my entire body and I ended up in the hospital in March 2018 and November 2019. Yet, I signed up on three scheduling sites to line up for vaccination. I only got a sore arm from the first shot and a mild rash from the second shot.

My son-in-law is one who fears needles since a kid. My daughter and he signed up to fill the spots when individuals failed to show up for the vaccine. At the time they signed up, only the folks 65 and above were eligible. They received notification for the availability and went from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington to receive the vaccine. I was there visiting them when they had the second shot. My son-in-law rode his bike for more than an hour from his home to the clinic to take his mind off the fear of the needle.

During the sixteen months lockdown, the one frequently asked question was, “When can I go see my grandchildren?” I asked the same question many times. I only visited my granddaughters twice during the first twelve months of pandemic. My daughter and I had several discussions on this matter. We had the same understanding that I might be at risk of virus and could pass it on to the babies. For the benefit and well-being of everyone in the family, it was not wise for me to go.

Going to visit my granddaughters became my motivation to get vaccinated. I was so excited to receive the second vaccine several days before my trip to Nora’s first birthday. I had an allergic reaction after the second shot, but my daughter said one of her friends also had rash. After taking ibuprofen for several days, my rash went away.

Some people do not take the vaccine for medical reasons. A long-time friend suffered from the collapse of both lungs. One lung is nonfunctioning, and the other lung has 22% breathing capacity. The doctor didn’t recommend him to take the vaccine in case he had an allergic reaction which might worsen his breathing.

The vaccine incentive may not motivate all the unvaccinated people to take the vaccines. I hope that when large companies step up to require their employees to prove the vaccination status to return to work. This mandate plays a heavier weight on motivating people to take the vaccines even though it’s not their preference.

In the meantime, I wear the mask when going out to protect myself and others. Stay safe, my friends!

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