Archive for December, 2010

Just the Right Time for Cranberry Wine

December 21, 2010

Tis the season to light the log in the fireplace and lift a glass of  wine, cranberry wine from Lynfred Winery.

Who, what, where you ask?

Lyn and Fred Koehler… Owners of the Lynfred Winery located in Roselle, Illinois.

Their holiday season cranberry wine is light, tart and warming. It “goes down” easily and is a great accompaniment to most any  heavy dinner you are planning on consuming.



Christ mas

December 20, 2010

Every year someone does a story about how the top ten (money making) Christmas songs have been written by Jews. Every year I promise not to get my panties in a bunch about this. And every year I do just that. 2010 is no exception. A recent article in a Jewish publication announces the following list:

10. “The Christmas Waltz,” music and lyrics by Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne.

9. “Silver Bells,” music by Jay Livingston, lyrics by Ray Evans.

8. “Winter Wonderland,” music and lyrics by Felix Bernard.

7. “Santa Baby,” music and lyrics by Joan Ellen Javits and Philip Springer.

6. “Sleigh Ride,” lyrics by Mitchell Parrish.

5. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” music by Buck Ram, lyrics by Walter Kent.

4. “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” music and lyrics by Irving Berlin.

3. “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow,” lyrics by Sammy Cahn, music by Julie Styne.

2. “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”), music and lyrics by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells.

1. “White Christmas,” music and lyrics by Irving Berlin.

Let’s get a few things straight. There is holiday music, songs of the season and then there is Christmas music or the carols. What comes to mind for me is a meaningful list:

10. We Three Kings, lyrics by Episcopalian Minister, Rev. John Henry Hopkins, Jr.

9. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, lyrics by Unitarian Ministier, Edmund Sears

8. What Child is This, lyrics by 19th century Poet, Surgeon, William Chatterton Dix

7. Away in a Manger, unknown for certain but credited to Martin Luther

6. Joy to the World, Church music director, Isaac Watts

5. O Come O Come Emmanuel, John Mason Neal, founder of the Society of St. Margaret

4. O Holy Night, lyrics by Unitarian Minister, John Sullivan

3, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Chaplain, Minister Charles Wesley

2. Silent Night, Father Joseph Mohr

1. O Little Town of Bethlehem, Episcopalian Minister, Phillips Brooks

And we wouldn’t want to forget George Frederic Handel’s Messiah (composer) / Libratto by Charles Jennens taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
Now come on and sing choirs of angels and come let us adore HIM, Christ, the Lord.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

December 20, 2010

I write because I feel a need to tell stories.

There is a moment of reality that springboards my ideas into a chaotic universe that I must organize. I realize that I suffer from a knee-jerk reaction to write when I am the eyewitness to an event.  Writing is safe. It is a mask that protects me from public criticism.

On this particular morning neither the heavy gloom nor the seemingly endless drizzle would stifle my creative yearnings.

There is something exceptionally moving about people’s need to listen to a story. There we were. Huddled as one and engaged; connected ~ the minister, a rabbi and a widow.

As the music played, “You’ll never walk alone” one by one we stood; father, mother, wife, child and friend. Tears streamed  down their checks as the clouds opened. Candle light touched candle light to brighten the grieving morning.

Hearts in mourning were comforted by the shared prayers of strangers.

I moved toward the center of the raised stage and faced the audience. I was moved by the generosity of their gazing eyes. My lips formed words that I hoped would wash away their pain. As I spoke, the faces shared suffering and loss. Barriers of bitterness, guilt and exhaustion faded as the candles were extinguished.


Put your personal signature on this day.

December 12, 2010

Put your personal signature on this day. This 3:19min. video may just be better than any sermon you hear today! Great service comes from your heart.

20 Days Til Christmas 2nd Sunday in Advent

December 5, 2010

Advent 101 or a Refresher:

On the first Sunday in Advent

  • Light one purple candle
  • Read Isaiah 60:2-3

On the second Sunday in Advent

  • Light two purple candles
  • Read Mark 1:4

On the third Sunday in Advent

  • Light three purple candles
  • Read Isaiah 35:10

On the fourth Sunday in Advent

  • Light all the purple candles
  • Read Isaiah 9:6-7

On Christmas Eve after sundown or on Christmas Day

  • Light all the purple candles and the white candle
  • Read Luke 1:68-79 and Luke 2:1-20

Three Weeks to Christmas

December 5, 2010

Well I know how to throw a party, if I do say so myself. We celebrated the fourth night of Hanukkah with 20 eclectic friends and some special family. I cooked and prepared for two days; everything was homemade: three dozen killer latkes, one mighty fine outta the gate brisket, four loaves of mandel bread, seasoned pecans, Israeli salad and eight cups of fresh applesauce. There was spiked mulled cider (the crockpot was licked clean), Havdalah led by Dennis and Hanukkah reading and candle lighting by all the guests.

The only thing that seemed to overshadow our event was a menorah lighting on Laguna Beach. Picture this: four surfboards on either side of a longboard that served as the Shamash.  That has to be the most unique celebration!

But ours was memorable.

22 – 2 Christmas

December 3, 2010

I put on a happy face.

Altho I was laid off in June.

and while it seems outta place…

I whistle a happy tune.

I think that’s how the song goes… At any rate, there are no jobs out there. PERIOD. Now if I spoke Vietnamese,  or wanted to work 40 hours a week as a case manager for $9.00 per hour, or have my brain used for research at UCI or work for Greenpeace. Yeah right. But hold on. Unemployment is down sorta of. Statistics play into the fact that there is temporary hiring for this jolly spending season. And then of course, there is the good news that my unemployment benefits have not be extended (that goes for  millions of the nation’s jobless).  How grand that’s gonna be for Christmas. It’s like the company who lays you off the week before Christmas. Yes I share the news with nearly two million Americans who will have their unemployment checks run out this week. This is bigger than the Grinch.

23 Days and it’s Christmas

December 3, 2010

Fires broke out in the Galilee on Thursday morning, December 2nd. They have spread rapidly and have taken an estimated 41 lives. More than 20% of the trees in the national forest have been destroyed; much more natural devastation is expected.  As the  fires continue to rage 17,000 people have been evacuated, including from neighborhoods around Haifa.  Haifa University is also being threatened.  Israeli forces have mobilized to contain the spreading forest fire, the worst in Israel’s history, but early Friday morning it continued to force emergency evacuations.

Israel is running out of the chemicals to douse the fire, and doesn’t have the manpower or equipment to contain the blaze.  The international community is offering desperately needed assistance: fire-fighting chemical from France, fire suppression equipment from Spain, Greece, and Cyprus.; and additional aid from Britain, Russia, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Romania, Jordan and Bulgaria. The IAF is readying to send aircraft to neighboring countries to gather fire retardant chemicals to assist in extinguishing the fire.

During this season of love, anticipation and hope let us pray for our sisters and brothers in Israel.

24 Days and It’s Christmas

December 2, 2010

An article written by Orange County Register business columnist, Jan Norman, “What are the favorite greeting cards this year” got me to thinking about the origin of sending Christmas cards, then on to how the Hallmark greeting company got started and ultimately that it’s about time to start selecting the family card that captures the perfect sentiment, making that card list and  heading to the post office to purchase the postage stamp of the season.

With e-cards, Facebook and email at our fingertips, many find it adequate to send greetings with the click of a computer key.  The environmentalist will argue that sending that card is detrimental to the balance of nature. Others may say that Christmas cards add to commercialism.

But in the true spirit of the season of Advent and Christmas, the holiday card is about slowing yourself down. It is about demonstrating a deliberate, thoughtful concern for another.

There is Aunt Dorothy many miles away without a computer; she looks forward to hearing from you each year. And then there are Shirley and Bob; they moved away years ago and love seeing how the family has changed and is growing. Your mom and dad’s old neighbor, Bill doesn’t send cards, but it seems you are the bridge from his past to your today.

When my adult son was young,  I introduced him to the Christmas card tradition. He helped select the card. As I hand addressed the cards he would lick the stamps and affix them to the envelope. I would write a special sentiment in each card, sign them and he would personalize the card with a sticker or his trademark. The point is, we saw this as family time.

Before you decide to drop out of the Christmas card cycle, think a second time. Even if you have to  use your computer to generate that annual canned letter (that EVERYONE receives) or address labels (ouch), the Christmas card “process” is a call to order in your life for a time and will change the life of another.

25 Days ‘Til Christmas

December 1, 2010

“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…” What a wonderful way to get in the spirit and start the holiday count-down then settling in with Dr. Seuss’  classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” A childhood favorite, for the young and young at heart, you can stroll the streets of Whoville in search of a timeless message for Christmastime. This book is a reminder of how we get caught up in the rush and loose sight of the importance of spending time with family and friends and bringing joy to others. If this classic isn’t in your personal library and you don’t own the movie version, you can catch this little movie tonight on television and I am sure before it’s over you will be singing: Daboo doreh, Daboo Doreh ~ “Welcome Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.”

And if you want to do a little Seuss time traveling check out the official Seussville website!

Welcome Christmas cheer!