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Time for the Christmas Tree to stand proud.


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We recently took our Grandson, Dylan to see the Christmas Tree Festival in Leighton Buzzard. The church there is very old and has a magnificent spire. The whole of the inside of this delightful church was packed with Christmas trees of all colours with very thoughtful decorations. Just as we arrived, a party of school children entered the building and the noise level rose a bit! They were excited because quite a few of the exhibits had been made in the school and they were anxious to see them in their designated spaces.

Each tree said something special about the organisation for which it was set up. Particularly poignant to me was the one set up to collect money for the homeless in our community. Sadly this community has been growing over the years of our recession.

Dylan was entranced by all the trees and their decorations.

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When we had finished looking at the trees, we sat down to listen to the school children singing Christmas songs. Their voices rang out beautifully in the old building and filled our hearts with joy.

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…and before long, it was time to go home. Dylan soon dozed off in the car, aah

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Here is a story I wrote a few years ago:

Christmas Time at Langwitch

Barry Thompson, aged 6 years old, couldn’t afford to buy his mother a Christmas present, and he had racked his brains to try and think of something to make her but he wasn’t very accomplished when it came to making things.

It was 5th December, the day of the annual Christmas Tree Festival at St. Nicholas’s Church in Langwitch.  The beautiful old church looked even more attractive than usual, decorated as it was with thirty-six Christmas Trees of all colours and sizes.  Mrs. Smithers, the part-time secretary at Primrose Primary School, parked her car at the back of the church hall and made her way through the churchyard with Barry Thompson. She was looking after him for her friend, Angela, who was taking a break to do some Christmas shopping in the High Street.  Both Mrs. Smithers and Barry were looking forward to the treat of seeing the Christmas trees in all their glory.

The gravestones in the churchyard stood tall or leaned sideways as they passed between them. They looked just like a row of crooked old teeth.  A row of old yew trees was resplendent, covered in their scarlet red berries with dark branches hanging low in their dampness.  Mrs. Smithers held tight to Barry Thompson’s hand.  Heavenly music, played on the organ, was drifting towards them as they entered the church through the large oak side door, letting in a blast of cold air as they did so.

Once inside the atmosphere was warm and welcoming.  The smell of pine and candles was enthralling.  Mrs. Smithers paid the entrance money into a large plastic margarine pot and was given a programme and a voting ticket!  Following the numbers in the programme she made her way up the nave and into the chancel.  Each tree had been expertly decorated by young and old groups of volunteers, each hoping to win the coveted accolade of the “Best In Show”.  Proceeds from the festival were going towards the continuing restoration of St. Nicholas’s Church.

The Langwitch Lace Group had crafted some very pretty circlets of hand-made lace, exquisitely fragile and delicate, as they hung in gay profusion from their tree.  Their entry was entitled “Bobbins, Bangles and Lace”.  The Brownies had fashioned an exciting tree with photographs of themselves to decorate the branches.  Smiling faces looked out from the tree as Mrs. Smithers passed by with Barry.  Standing in the corner was a bottlebrush tree, donated by the local chemist, and covered all over in red, spiky baby-bottle brushes.

“How original!” thought Mrs. Smithers.

In the right hand corner was a wall plaque, which Mrs. Smithers read out loud to Barry:

“Every part of this church is open at all times, but this corner is a special place where children can bring their gifts of flowers, read and pray, and speak their hearts to God.”

Barry, red cheeks glowing, put, his little hands together and talked to God.  He asked for a Christmas present for his mum because he couldn’t think of anything and he didn’t feel clever enough to make anything.  He wanted it to be special, something she would really love and treasure.  He asked for something that she could keep for a long time.

Leaving behind that wonderful corner, Mrs. Smithers and Barry turned into the chancel and there stood a tree decorated by the local Rainbow Children in all colours of the rainbow and coloured lights as well.  It was enchanting.

At the end of the chancel was a large stained glass window.  By now dark outside, the interior lights lit up the window and Christ, hanging on his cross in the window with a crown of thorns upon his head, looked down upon his faithful people.  Mrs. Smithers thought she could see him smile. A young mum in a blue coat with a headscarf tied around her brown curls, was showing her toddler the beautiful window. He wriggled in his buggy and pointed to the image of Christ.

On went Mrs. Smithers, past “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by the Makin family and “Winter Wonderland” by Valerie and Kate. She stopped and cast her eyes over a magnificent floral Christmas tree decked out by the Langwitch Ladies Floral Arts Club.  Lavender coloured roses were tucked into the branches in uniformity, and strings of cream coloured pearls hung in loops all around.  Twinkly lights enthralled.

Down to the organ corner where one of the churchwardens was playing tenderly:

“Away In A Manger, No Crib For A Bed, The Little Lord Jesus Laid Down His Sweet Head”.

The Methodist minister was serving steaming hot cups of tea and coffee from an electric urn, and her assistant was arranging homemade mince pies on a large plate nearby.  Fruit cake and walnut cake and mini chocolate rolls were fighting for space on another plate nearby and the queue for refreshments was getting longer and longer.

With a cup of tea in one hand and a plate with mince pies in the other, Mrs. Smithers sat herself down with Barry on one of the glossy oak pews.  Her thoughts returned to Christmases long ago.  She remembered the Christmas of 1962/3 when the whole country was covered in snow for weeks.  As a little girl in long red Wellington boots, she went with her dad to fetch milk and eggs from the shop because the milkman was unable to get his float down the road.  Dad’s breath froze on his moustache and turned it prematurely grey.

Coming back to the present, Mrs. Smithers chose her favourite tree and put the number of it on her voting slip.  The slip went into a waste paper basket collection receptacle, to be counted later.  She bought a raffle ticket and popped it in the drum and then left the church as she found it, a place of great tranquillity.

Dark outside now and getting colder, the Churchyard surrounding the church building was well lit and ghostly shadows followed Mrs. Smithers and Barry back to the car.

“Now” she said “I feel that Christmas has begun”.

Three weeks later and it was Christmas Eve.  Angela Thompson, Barry’s mum, went to the front door and opened it to put the milk bottles in the crate and some rubbish in the dustbin.  There on the doorstep was a huge black cat, which meowed urgently, asking to come in.  Mrs. Thompson looked around and saw Barry.  He knew why it had come.

“It’s for you mummy, it’s your Christmas present,” he said knowingly. He knew that Jesus wouldn’t let him down.

Oma

Hamley’s Toy Shop – a child’s delight!


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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

My grandson, Dylan, has been to the famous toyshop in London, called Hamley’s, to make his Christmas choices. At three year’s old, there is no end to his list of wants, but who would spoil the magic? Not me, for sure…

Here at the cottage, the shopping is almost done. I still have the food to buy. I don’t have enough room to store very much and soon every corner will be filled.

The decorations will go up at the weekend. I must check that the lights for the tree still work!

The cake is made and sits in a tin awaiting the marzipan and the icing decorations.

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How are you getting on with your preparations?

Oma

So much to be thankful for!


photo (5)This picture is the very first one taken where I am with both my grandsons and their daddies. Needless to say I am very proud of it. Dylan, on the left, wasn’t feeling well that day so he looks miserable and Sam was tired because it was near his bedtime; so neither of them were very happy, but I was because it marks a moment in history for me. I am a very lucky Oma indeed. Shown are two of my three sons. The eldest one was not present and doesn’t have any children but I felt he was worthy of a mention!

‘Deep streams usually run smoothly and quietly. They have the same rocks and obstacles to overcome as their noisy, shallow counterparts, but they are so full that they can rise above those difficulties so a casual observer would never know they were there.

Whether our lives are turbulent and noisy, or smooth and graceful doesn’t depend on how many or how few problems they contain. It depends on how full they are.’

From The Friendship Book – 2013

Family life does not always run smoothly. I have experience of that like everybody else, but it is how we handle these turbulent times that matters isn’t it.

I have much to be thankful for. I really do. At this time of year as we pass through Thanksgiving and look forward to Christmas, I am more aware of it than usual.

I wish you all, my blogging pals, a peaceful week as you prepare for your Christmas festivities.

With love from the cottage and Oma x

The Church Christmas Bazaar – cupcakes galore!


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Last Saturday we had the Christmas Bazaar at church. Larry and I had a ‘Tea-Time Stall with all things tea-time on it. Our stall wasn’t very big so we couldn’t display too much at once, but it did have the advantage of being over the heat vent so we were nice and warm throughout the proceedings. I was a bit worried about the toppings on my cup-cakes melting, but they sold so quickly that I needn’t have been concerned.

I got the recipe out of a new cook-book, which a dear friend gave me recently. Over here in England, cup-cakes are a relatively new invention (correct me if I’m wrong please). In any case they are new to me. I am more familiar with fairy cakes, which are a good deal smaller and have a lot less topping on. Here you see the completed cupcakes. I made three sorts; blueberry, chocolate chip and all chocolate. Larry was allowed to eat one of them!DSCF1628

There were lots of other stalls and I thought you might like to see some of them:

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This is our ‘Tea-Time Stall’ again, this time showing how I present some of the cakes – in tea-cups. The tea cups were also for sale so the visitors could buy the cakes on their own or a cake in a cup. You can also see the tea cosies I made and the pot holders.

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Next is the main cake stall with lots of attractive goodies for sale.

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There was a raffle for the hamper. I bought a whole book of tickets, but I didn’t win anything.

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This stall sold ‘smellies’. I bought the pink shower bag. It had some body lotion inside!

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There were lots of books for sale:

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Bric-a-brac

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These hand-made gingerbread men were beautifully made.

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We had a very well-designed bottle stall…

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I hope you enjoyed your trip around the bazaar and if you are having your own bazaar soon, I wish you well with it.

Oma

Merry Christmas One and All


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We are truly lucky to have three wonderful sons and their partners and one adorable grandson, especially at Christmas time, which is so full of memories of Christmasses gone past.  Although our parents are no longer with us and we ourselves are growing older, there is still much joy to be had. You only have to look a little way for it. The pictures today are of a present we received from one of our sons. It was a Christmas hamper, filled with carefully chosen goodies designed to please us. I’d like to share with you what we found in it.

Most of  the foods were handmade and how they found the time to make them all, let alone pack them up, is beyond my comprehension since both have full time jobs! It made me feel very humble.

So to say I was grateful is an understatement because for the last ten days I have been suffering with a dreadful head-cold, one of the worst I’ve ever had with all the horrid symptoms imaginable. Hopefully it’s going away now!! slowly!!

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We’ve eaten the delicious gammon and leek pie, which was  filled with goodness and smelling wonderful.

For tea there is mackerel pate, sausage rolls, cheeses, home-made fudge, biscuits and goodness knows what else.

The next picture shows a rolled up knitting magazine for me to enjoy later. There was also a tape measure and another little gadget, which will be handy for my knitting exercises.

Can you see two miniature whiskys?

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There is toffee in the paper bag below. We’ll have to watch our teeth on that! One Christmas I had a very nasty experience when I ate some of those tiny silver balls and broke two back teeth.  Ouch! I shan’t be eating those again.

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There are gold coins in the gold box, which reminds me that I wanted to tell you that some more buried treasure has shown up in a field very near where the Staffordshire Hoard was recently discovered.

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The card brought a tear to my eye!

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Thank you for letting me share some of the joy I am experiencing.

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Count Your Blessings

Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.

Christmas Cribs


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Back in 2007 my church in England had an exhibition of Christmas cribs. People were invited to bring in their cribs for display and a small entry fee was charged for the pleasure of looking at them. They were gorgeous and many of them told wonderful tales of family history.
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I have become accustomed to showing them again each year because they are so pretty. Do please click on the pictures and read the words.

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I know that many of us are struggling with the question ‘where was God last week when all those beautiful children and their teachers were shot’ and there is no answer really: but we must have hope. Without hope we have nothing. We must have hope that the world will become a better place and where better to start than with a new life – a new baby born to save mankind from themselves.

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I have to believe that most people are good people.

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Please take a few minutes to look at these lovely scenes and try to find some hope in them.

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Do you have your own crib? If not, why not get one? make one? During the Christmas period, when we are all so fixed on over-eating and indulging ourselves, why not have a focal point in your room, which when you gaze at it, gives you HOPE.

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I want to wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

May your God go with you wherever you wander.

Oma

Time to send Christmas cards and decorate the tree.


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Yesterday, being Friday, was a good day for Dylan to help me with the decorating of our Christmas tree. Although he didn’t really feel very well, he was very helpful, unpacking all the baubles for me and putting them on the tree, very carefully. When it was finished, it looked very nice. He has already decorated his own tree at home so you could call him experienced!

 

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With help, Dylan was able to put the star on the top too!


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…and after all that work, he got to choose a special biscuit.


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The cards are quickly filling up the window ledges…
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and the dresser …


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and I am looking forward to the festivities to come and to sharing them with you too.

I’d love to know how your preparations are going?

Oma

Time to shop for Christmas.


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It’s time to shop for Christmas, if you haven’t already!

I’ve been getting out of the cottage regularly once a week for a few weeks now, although my Christmas list is still unfinished.  These pictures were taken in my local shopping Mall yesterday and I thought I’d show them to you today. This year’s theme is stars and I think it works very well, don’t you?

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I don’t know about you, but I rely a lot on lists at this time of the year. It’s nice to tick things off when done, then finally one gets to the point where there is nothing left to do.

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There is always something, sometimes several things, that get forgotten or lost. This year for me it is the gift tags.  So far I haven’t found the ones I carefully made using last year’s left over Christmas cards. It’s too late now because I’ve bought some new ones.

There are two levels to my shopping Mall. You can see the layout clearly in the next picture. The balcony shops are at the top and there is a lift to the lower floor. This is very useful for wheelchair users, older people like me and mums and dads with young children and pushchairs.

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We have lots and lots of cafes here, but they’re not all in the middle of the Mall like I’ve seen in America. Ours are more spread out around the Mall and in the stores themselves. One is never far away from a cup of tea or coffee over here.

The hanging stars in the next picture look better in real life than in the photo, but you can get the idea. Very pretty.

The triangular shaped piece of furniture in the centre is a rubbish bin, which is emptied regularly throughout the day.

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These beautiful reindeer are made out of painted twigs with little fairy lights all through. Just delightful.

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Christmas is all about giving and the wishing wells in the next pic. are part of the Mayor’s appeal. You can donate to his appeal and make a wish at the same time.

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So as we prepare for Christmas let’s take some time to appreciate all the work that has gone into our lovely decorations. They are enjoyed by so many people, especially the children and really help to put our hearts and minds into the spirit of Christmas