Early Christmas

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Santa came early to our house this year. But the decorations will remain up till January 6th.

Yes, you read that correctly, Santa came early. My son is already in Ontario with my family, and after a visit with them, he will then head to spend time with his father and his family. As hard as it is to be an empty nester, I’m happy for my son to have this special time with his extended family. Especially his aging grandparents.

I treasure every chance I get to be with him even if we aren’t doing anything. It’s special because he’s here with me. This year we got to decorate the tree and house as a family. He’s been away at university, so this was extra special for me. We spent our 4 days reading together, watching Christmas movies, playing a family board game, and he built his Christmas lego while I tried to work on my new novel.

I learned two valuable lessons early in life. One from my maternal grandfather. He always told me to pop in, even if it was only for five minutes to say hi and I love you. He understood how busy we were but at least those quick visits told him we remembered him and loved him. And the second one was from my mother. She always told us that whatever day we were together as a family to celebrate a holiday that was the day for her.

So, for me, I’ve had my Christmas. My heart is full. The rest of December will be spent working on my new novel and doing some crafts.

We have one more gift left. This one will be the gift of time and love. We will spend December 24th eating dinner with those who have no family.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. May you be blessed abundantly.

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Advent Guest: Su Mcleod

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The story of Advent is a story we have heard and have told many times. It is also one of the most important stories that we have to share. It is one of anticipation, waiting, opportunity, gifts and lives changed. In a time when we see so much hostility and protectionism in the world, it is important to ground ourselves back in this origin story. Though the story remains consistent and solid, how we live it, celebrate it and anticipate the birth of Christ is different year to year, person to person.

One thing that stays the same is that we all have a part in this story. Lives are being changed in our families and our communities by telling this story and sharing gifts through hospitality, meal programs, Christmas hampers and in an abundance of other ways.

Sometimes we miss that, as things become routine and expected in the way of “well we always do that” rather than the expectant anticipation of the story being revealed to us anew with fresh ears.

At PWRDF we seek to engage others by sharing the stories of our partners and how we are living out the Advent promise of hope, love, joy, and peace so all might live in a truly just, healthy and peaceful world.

This new resource is a reminder to us that Advent Lives … and is changing lives, today, through the voice of animals and partner stories.

We invite you into this journey with us.

pwrdf.org/Advent2018

 

Guest blog

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I am pleased to introduce you to the lovely and talented Nicole Ensing!

BIO

Nicole Ensing is a Worship Coordinator and a singer/songwriter living in Guelph, Ontario. Ensing’s original music has been described as a combination of “jazz stylings with folk charm and rock ’n’ roll energy”. She also enjoys spending time with artists, either engaging in their studios or her own. www.nicoleensingband.com

WHERE ALL SOULS MEET

This time of year the Christmas favorites come out, and not just because my band has gigs lined up. While holiday shoppers are listening to remakes of remakes we look forward to sharing our original song, Child of the Snows, with audiences. Granted, we look forward to any opportunity to sneak this gem in but the Christmas season is when it really hits home. This song is about the nativity and it’s based on a poem by G.K. Chesterton of the same name. What strikes me today is the line “We follow the feet where all souls meet, at the inn at the end of the world.” I can’t help but think of the scene in C.S. Lewis’ book The Last Battle in which characters enter a door in a stable and find themselves in Aslan’s country. In Chesterton’s poem, we enter the stable and find an unlikely King, Christ, who promises hope in a harsh environment.

CHILD OF THE SNOWS ~ G.K. Chesterton

 

There’s heard a hymn when the panes are dim

And never before or again

When the nights are strong with a darkness long

And the dark is alive with rain

 

Never we know but in sleet and in snow

The place where the great fires are

The midst of the earth is a raging mirth

And the heart of the earth a star

 

And at night we win to the ancient inn

Where the child in the frost is furled

We follow the feet where all souls meet

At the inn at the end of the world

Listen online https://soundcloud.com/nicole-ensing-band/a-child-of-the-snows

Be sure to follow the Nicole Ensing Band!

www.nicoleensingband.com

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https://www.youtube.com/user/NicoleEnsingBand

Nicole Ensing Band

A New Advent Calendar!

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Every year I look for new Advent Calendars, and this year I am excited to use the Reverse Advent Calendar. What a great way to count down the days to Christmas and give back to the community!

Over the years I’ve used some fun ones. This week I am on a mission to find some different Advent Calendars to share with everyone. If you have a favorite Advent Calendar, I’d love to hear about it and what made it your favorite!

 

Advent Calendar

6 weeks of Festivities or Panic?

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I must confess, I love Christmas! I love everything about it. The decorations, spending time with family, doing Advent activities, and family meals. One of my favorite memories is dancing around the house decorating with my son while we sang Christmas carols.

For years we made all the gifts and cards for family and loved ones. My son and I would spend hours carefully deciding what cards and gifts were perfect for each person, then we would hand deliver them where possible.

I didn’t want the stress and chaos to ruin the Christmas spirit. So we would start making our gifts early so that we could spend more time relaxing and doing Advent activities. Each year we would bring out our two Advent books, and I would go online or check out the PWDRF calendars to see what activities they recommended.

We would have my niece and nephews over for tobogganing or skating so my sister could shop in peace. Sometimes we would do crafts or make gingerbread houses. I still have some of the Christmas tree ornaments that we made.

I usually wait for December 1st to decorate but this year I will pull them out early. My son is 22 now and in his last year at University, and I don’t live near my family to have fun with their children. But we need the Christmas spirit to come early this year, so my husband and I will start new Christmas traditions. Who knows maybe he will join me for a song or two while we decorate?

How do you spend the weeks before Christmas?

Remembering Grandpa

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My Grandfather passed away 22 years ago this past August. I was due to have my son in November. My family laughed at me when I walked into my Grandparent’s house because I looked like I had swallowed a beach ball. My Great Aunt made me stand sideways so she could get a picture!

I was so big I had trouble reaching the clutch in my car as I made the hour-long drive home to say good-bye. As we gathered together, we knew it was for the best. He had struggled with his war injuries for as long as I could remember and now had cancer.

Grandpa was never the same after the war. How could he be? He watched his entire platoon die, he watched my grandmother’s brother die. His injuries were extensive, but he survived to come home to his beautiful wife and two children.

He was one of the lucky ones.

My son never met my grandfather, but over the years I took every opportunity to use teachable moments to share with him about the true meaning of war and its consequences. I shared stories with him and impressed upon him the importance of Remembrance Day. We’ve talked about what it means to our family and what it means to our nation.

Grandpa followed the footsteps of his father and uncles when he joined the war and always impressed on me to stand up for what I believed in and never, ever to set aside my principles. He believed in what he had fought for and never regretted the sacrifices that he made.

I’ve watched documentaries with my son over the years, and we are always shocked by how young the soldiers were. That took courage. As a mother of a young man eligible for the draft, if we had one, I couldn’t imagine what those mothers went through!

I am not ashamed of the tears I cry every Remembrance Day during the 2 minutes of silence. I am proud of the sacrifice my grandfather made so that we can live in freedom. I weep for the soldiers who never made it home. I cry for the parents who answered their door to receive the news that their loved one wouldn’t be coming home. I grieve for the widows and their children who will never know them. I cry for the victims of war, for the innocent children who suffer.

I am not ashamed of the tears I cry.

We have a family tradition where we thank a vet or an active duty soldier for their sacrifices and service. If we see one at a restaurant, we will buy them their meal. It’s the least we can do for all that they do for us!

Thank you Grandpa, I love you

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