Christmas 2016

Christmas 2016
God Bless Our Troops

Click on the cabin below to see our family website.

Click on the cabin below to see our family website.
We love what we do!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Today was a Ben day.  Ben loves to go to the library where his friend "Mr. Mike" is the director of children's services.  Ben has changed so much since we first started going there.  When we first started going he would not leave my lap and didn't really join in much with the singing.  Over the year he has come out of his shell, has made a few friends, and hardly knows I'm there.  Today's topic was magnets.  


After story hour we headed to Walmart to pick up some smooth-sided pint-sized canning jars.  Over the last few months I have really gotten into making grungy candle jars.  I've tried the embossed kind but prefer the look of the smooth side.  I have started leaving the area under the picure "un-grunged" so that as the candle burns it seems to come to life.

Last night I made a batch of lavender soap.  I like to pre-measure my batches and limit the icky job of measuring out the oils to once a month.  I used my last batch last night so next week I have that fun chore again.   I have a bad habit of cutting the soap a bit too soon.  I find it hard to wait and see how the swirls in the soap turned out.  Since I now go down to watch Ben on Tuesdays, I didn't have time this morning to cut it and take a peek.  I unmolded it, but it sat like this until I came home and had time to cut it.

I am now sold on waiting . . . maybe.  It was soooooo much easier to handle since it had more time to harden.  I will most likely make a couple more batches since I have a hard time keeping this on the shelf.  

Cure date for this batch is Feb. 1. 

On the way home from Ionia today, I stopped by the church one last time.  I had a few things to clear out of the church and my office.  I was hoping no one would be there because I just wanted to get in and out with the least amount of emotion. Fr. Nate was there and we talked a few minutes about the loss of a two year old in the parish.  He had been battling cancer and looked so good the last time I saw him.  I can't think of any harder thing to go through in life.  This child's grandfather is a local funeral director, who in fact buried our little Joseph. 

 Then I turned in my keys.  That made everything official and I barely got to the car before losing it.  Afterwards I stopped at Walmart and saw a man who had been in our RCIA program but never completed it.  I had heard that he'd had his leg amputated but hadn't seen him.  I stopped and spoke with him for a few minutes.  He has a positive spirit and I enjoyed talking to him.  I also ran into a parishioner - one I will greatly miss and we spoke for a while.  This is what I love about smaller towns.  Everywhere you go you know you will run into a familiar face. 

When I got home I opened a letter from one of my cantors.  When I think of those ladies I do start to cry.  They stuck with me through thick and thin over the years.  We've laughed together and cried together and we have made plans to get together regularly.

As always, when I need to lift my spirits, I head to my happy place - my craft room.  I finished the snowman quilt I started last week.  I only have to finish sewing on the binding.  I love to hand sew the binding - especially if I am making the quilt for someone else.  It gives me a chance to think about them and pray for them.  Often, I give my quilts to people who are battling cancer.  I am keeping the snowman quilt, though, because there are some things I really wish I had done differently.   It's a cute quilt, but I am still on a learning curve with my quilting machine.  The lighting isn't very good here, but you can see the quilting fairly well.

Last night I made the patch for the quilt I am giving to Clay.  The quilt itself has been done for a while, but I need to put the identifying patch on the back.  Clay picked out the fabric himself.
He loves to hunt and fish with his dad so this choice was no surprise.

Tomorrow I am going to lunch with a friend who was also on the staff with me most of the time I was at St. Mary.  And another friend will be joining us. 

Tonight is the night that La Befana used to come and visit when I was a kid.   January 6th was when we celebrated the Epiphany - or La Festa Dell'Epifania (hence the name La Befana).  There are many versions of the legend, but this was the one I heard as a child.

The legend of la Befana
Like children everywhere, Italian kids look forward to the arrival of the red-suited 
Babbo Natale on Christmas Eve. However, this relatively modern tradition pales in comparison to the anticipation generated by the arrival of an old witch in early January.  On Epiphany Eve, the old, tattered and soot-covered Befana flies around the world on a broomstick and comes down chimneys to deliver candy and presents to children who have been good during the year. For those who have fallen a bit short of model behavior, la Befana will leave lumps of coal. (Realizing that no one can be perfect for a whole year, these days la Befana often leaves a sweet “lump of coal” made from black sugar.)
            La Befana has been an Italian tradition since the XIII century and comes from Christian legend rather than popular culture. The story is that la Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men who asked her to lead them to the stable where the baby Jesus lay in a manger. La Befana was too busy cleaning her house at the time, so she declined the offer to go with them. Very soon she realized that she had made a huge mistake, so she gathered up a bag full of gifts and set off alone in search of the baby Jesus. Though she followed the same star as the Magi, she was unable to find the stable. Undaunted, la Befana continues to travel the world over to this day searching every house for the Christ child. On January 6, the first day of Epiphany, Italian children hold their breaths as they search their stockings for a sign that they have been good that year.
The arrival of la Befana is celebrated with traditional Italian foods such as panettone (a Christmas cake) and marks the end of the long and festive holiday season in Italy.

On January 6 we would go to Grandma and Grandpa Caputo's house and celebrate Christmas.  Our Christmas tree never, ever came down before January 7th.  While the rest of the world had moved on, we got to celebrate Christmas just a little longer.  To this day, my tree never comes down until after Epiphany.  And my friends John and Bea always give us a panettone di Natale for Christmas!

"La Befana vien di notte
Con le scarpe tutte rotte
Col vestito da Romana
Viva viva La Befana"

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