Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas !

Today is Christmas Eve and I already received a wonderful present! We got a Christmas card in the mail today from the sailor we "angeled" through Soldiers Angels. He is now safely home and will celebrate Christmas with his beautiful wife and children. Now that's a great present! If only all our service men and women could be as lucky.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if our battle-weary troops could be given a Christmas cease-fire like the troops in World War I?
On and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies. Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops sang Christmas carols to each other across the lines, and at certain points the Allied soldiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing. At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man's-land, calling out "Merry Christmas" in their enemies' native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer. The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers' threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers' essential humanity endured.

I came across this and thought I would share it:

I had no Christmas spirit when I breathed a weary sigh,
and looked across the table where the bills were piled too high.
The laundry wasn't finished and the car I had to fix,
My stocks were down another point, the Dolphins lost by six.

And so with only minutes till my son got home from school
I gave up on the drudgery and grabbed a wooden stool.
The burdens that I carried were about all I could take,
and so I flipped the TV on to catch a little break.

I came upon a desert scene in shades of tan and rust,
No snowflakes hung upon the wind, just clouds of swirling dust.
And where the reindeer should have stood before a laden sleigh,
eight hummers ran a column right behind an M1A.

A group of boys walked past the tank, not one was past his teens,
Their eyes were hard as polished flint, their faces drawn and lean.
They walked the street in armor with their rifles shouldered tight,
their dearest wish for Christmas, just to have a silent night.

Other soldiers gathered, hunkered down against the wind,
To share a scrap of mail and dreams of going home again.
There wasn't much at all to put their lonely hearts at ease,
They had no Christmas turkey, just a pack of MREs.

They didn't have a garland or a stocking I could see,
They didn't need an ornament-- they lacked a Christmas Tree.
They didn’t have a present even though it was tradition,
the only boxes I could see were labeled "ammunition."

I felt a little tug and found my son now by my side,
He asked me what it was I feared, and why it was I cried.
I swept him up into my arms and held him oh so near
and kissed him on the forehead as I whispered in his ear.

There’s nothing wrong my little son, for safe we sleep tonight,
our heroes stand on foreign land to give us all the right,
to worry on the things in life that mean nothing at all,
instead of wondering if we will be the next to fall.

He looked at me as children do and said its always right,
to thank the ones who help us and perhaps that we should write.
And so we pushed aside the bills and sat to draft a note,
to thank the many far from home, and this is what we wrote:

God Bless You all and keep you safe, and speed your way back home.
Remember that we love you so, and that you’re not alone.
The gift you give you share with all, a present every day,
You give the gift of liberty and that we can’t repay.

-Author Unknown

"...this is an open and grateful tribute to the men and women
who serve every day to keep our nation safe."

In Love and Friendship,
Sharon and Katie

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Holidays

Today Hanukkah begins at sundown. It is celebrated with excellent food, an exchange of gifts, and the lighting of beautiful menorahs (special Hanukkah candelabras)
filled with brightly colored candles.

According to the Jewish Outreach Institute, "Many Jewish holidays commemorate events invested with historical and religious meaning, and Hanukkah is no exception. Hanukkah means "rededication," and it commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by foreign forces. The celebration also reaffirms the continuing struggle to live by God's commandments and to lead Jewish lives. In a period of eight days, Hanukkah offers us a glimpse of the Divine, an opportunity to dedicate ourselves to all that is holy in the world, in our family, and in ourselves. We hope that the lights of Hanukkah illumine your path in the world, and through your life's journey."

Unlike some of the other Jewish holidays, which require intense spiritual reflection or elaborate preparation, Hanukkah is easy to celebrate. Spinning the dreidel is part of the fun. Take a minute, learn something fun, and join in part of the Jewish celebration. Click here to play. Then click on Spin the Dreidel on the sidebar.

To everyone who celebrates this holiday, many blessings to you in the coming year and a wish that we can all deal peacefully with each other.

Until next time....
Happy Quilting,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I'm Baaaaack!

Sorry for the long absence, but life and illness got in the way for a while! You know you've been bad when your kids tell you you need to sit down and update the blog, lol. This is my official excuse--and I'm stickin' to it! So now I'm trying to catch up with everything at once.

Let's start with the ALQS swap. Kate emailed me to tell me that my quilt to Margaret in Australia was well received and that she loved all her goodies. I had fun making a wallhanging I called "Falling Maple Leaves." Since I live on a street with Maple in the name and it's mile after mile of maple trees, I thought the Maple Leaf block would be perfect for a Fall quilt. Those are my favorite colors, too! I also included a coffee mug with maple and oak leaves on it, some locally made maple sugar candy and fancy coffee, a FQ, and some post-its.
And of course, Katie has to be right in the middle of everything and put her stamp of approval on it! I hope Margaret's not allergic to cats, lol. But so far, I haven't received my quilt yet. I can't stand the suspense of waiting for it to come. Kate (that runs the swap) said it'll be coming along, to just be patient. Does she know who she's talking to???

My next project was the Halloween Trick or Treat swap. Here's the lovely package I received from Roslyn in the UK. A beautiful hand-made padded box, some Halloween pictures that I framed, a bookmark cross-stitched with my name, some yummy chocolates, pretty ribbons and charms, a tissue holder and tissues, and a darling cross-stitched pumpkin.
It was a wonderful package to receive and I starting using the box right away to hold my hand-sewing items. Thanks so much, Roslyn.

In between those, DD had her 40th birthday and we gave her a Turning Twenty lap quilt I made for her, among other things.
Then we went to Outback Steakhouse with her kids for dinner, 'cause that's her favorite place to go. I confess I love their cheese and bacon covered fries! I know they're so bad for me, loaded with fat and cholesterol, but once a year won't hurt, will it?

I was lucky enough to win half of the November Happy Blocks, so after the holidays I'll be starting a great fall quilt. The blocks I've been receiving are just terrific, so I'll have a wonderfully scrappy quilt when I'm done. Thanks to all the ladies who made them.

I mailed out my swap quilt for Chookyblue's Secret Santa Christmas Swap on the 5th of December, so it should be there this week. I hope the person likes it. Katie and I had a difference of opinion when I made it. She thought the decorations on it were for her to play with and bite off, and I told her they weren't! She doesn't like "NO" any better than my kids did, vbg. BAD KITTY ! This was a fun project and I love making my labels on the computer. I received my package for the swap from Tracy in Australia. She takes wonderful photographs and makes them into notecards and post cards and she sent me some of them. She also made me a darling round bucket, a small tote bag with a kitty on it that looks a lot like Katie, and a Christmas hanging pad. Also a zippered pouch that is perfect to keep my cosmetics altogether in my purse. A great package of gifts to receive!
I sent out my package for the Quilted Angels Secret Santa swap last week also, but I forgot to take a picture of the things I sent Debbie. I received a really cute pincushion basket that held lots of spools of thread and a Santa hinged box, with an ornament inside it, wrapped in a fabric bag just perfect for potpourri, from Kat in the same swap.

Next time I should have pics from the Miniature Booty Swap and Doll Quilt Swap 5. I promise it won't be so long before my next post. Until then.........

Happy QuiltingSharon