Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa begins today and is celebrated every night ending on January 1. You may be asking, what exactly is Kwanzaa? I have to admit I was asking myself that as well, so I did a little research.

Kwanzaa was created as an African American and Pan-African holiday in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, to celebrate history, values, family, community and culture.  Kwanzaa is rooted in first fruit celebrations found in cultures throughout Africa both in ancient and modern times and has much to teach us all.

Each night candles are lit and one of the following seven principles is celebrated.

1. Umoja (Unity)

2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) 

3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)

4. Uja maa (Cooperative Economics)

5. Nia (Purpose) 

6. Kuumba (Creativity)

7. Imani (Faith)

And of course there is food! On day six there is a feast.

The six principles of Kwanzaa are the foundation of civilization. Aren’t these something we should all want to celebrate? I encourage you to learn more.

For more information on Kwanzaa please visit:

National Museum of African History and Culture

Kwanzaa Traditions from Oprah Daily

The Culinary Traditions of Kwanzaa

Dr. Karenga’s Website

The Real Spirit of Christmas

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. — Calvin Coolidge

Bob and I believe that Christmas is not a day, but the way we live. To live with the conscious awareness of the Christ Presence living in, through and as us is to celebrate Christmas everyday. Sure the celebrations, the parties, pagents, carols, decorations and food are nice, but they are just the icing on the cake. They can also turn our attention away from the true meaning of the holiday.

Once all the holiday hoopla is over let’s not put the Christ Presence away with the decorations. Let’s continue to live the Presence and shine our light into the world. The world needs us now more than ever. So go out there and shine.

Winter Solstice

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
‘We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,’
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Oliver Herford

The winter solstice is the time when one half of the earth is farthest away from the sun. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere this usually occurs on December 21st or 22nd. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, it usually occurs on June 20 or 21.

Okay that’s the scientific explanation in a nutshell. But how and why is this event celebrated?

The winter solstice has been honored and celebrated by many cultures, religions and spiritual traditions. The time of greatest darkness encourages gatherings of loved ones and celebrations of rebirth and the return of the light. Christmas was originally based on Pagan traditions. Winter solstice has been celebrated in various ways by different names by different cultures for thousands of years.

Okay, so that’s what I found doing research on the winter solstice. I did not feel I should write this, because I didn’t think I knew enough about it and asked for a volunteer. When no one offered I did my research and came up with the above.

Then Spirit gently guided me to realize that I do understand winter. Living in a tourist area most people love the summer. But for me winter is my favorite time of year. When people ask a puzzled why? I say because it gets quiet. The tourists and part timers go home, the constant building and remodeling stops, big trucks stop showing up and crowding our roads. The loud parties stop and it gets quiet.

During this quiet time winter pulls us inward. Not only into our physical home, but into our internal spiritual home. The other holidays occuring during his time distract us and try to pull us away from what really matters, but we need to observe this time of darkness for the rest, quiet and peace it offers us.

This year let’s use this time of cold and darkness to stop and reflect, spend some time in introspection and setting intentions. Honor the season by taking time to honor your stillness.

For More Information:

Kids National Geographic https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/winter-solstice

https://nypost.com/article/winter-solstice-meaning/

Check out celebration ideas here:

First Night of Hanukkah

“That’s what Hanukkah is about: trying to survive the darkness on the far-fetched hope there’s still some life and light left in the universe. It’s more than just a religious story. The days have been growing shorter, imperceptibly but inescapably darker … Heading into the night of the winter solstice, every spiritual tradition has some kind of festival of light. We’re all just whistling in the dark, hoping against hope that someone up there will see these little Hanukkah candles and get the hint.” — Lawrence Kushner

This is the first night of Hannukah. This is the time Jews around the world gather as families for eight nights to tell the old story of a great miracle involving light.

For more information please visit:

https://reformjudaism.org/jewish-holidays/hanukkah

https://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/article_cdo/aid/102911/jewish/What-Is-Hanukkah.htm

The Time for Comfort

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”Edith Sitwell

It’s National Hot Cocoa Day!

It’s hot cocoa day, but who really needs a reason to have hot cocoa? When it comes to hot cocoa I’m a homemade kind of girl. Nothing is better and it really isn’t hard to make. And if you have special dietry needs making you own from scratch is your best option. Here’s my reciipe.

Genie’s Dairy Free Hot Cocoa

This recipe makes 2 servings. You may double it to serve 4.

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (I prefer dark)

3 Tablespoons Stevia

1/4 cup water

2 cups almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Mix together cocoa, sugar and water in saucepan.
  2. Stir and cook until mixture starts to bubble.
  3. Slowly add milk and vanilla, stirring to blend.
  4. Heat continuing to stir until the cocoa is drinking temperature.
  5. Pour into cups or mugs and serve.

Note: If you use vanilla almond milk the extra vanilla may not be needed. You may also use any type of non-dairy milk that you prefer. My go-to is almond.

Random Acts of Christmas

Copyright 2017 by R.O. Robbins

Genie’s Note: This is an oldie but goodie from 2017. Enjoy and take a minute to think of ways you can spread joy through random acts of Christmas or whatever holiday you may be celebrating.

One thing I like to do for the holidays is give a small (very small) token gift to people at random.   One year I hung handmade angel ornaments anonymously on neighbor’s door knobs.  Other years I have given candy canes or tea bags from a display on our door (we spent a lot of years in apartments). 

One year I grabbed a handful of holiday stick pins from our Christmas box (when Bob worked for a toy, novelty and gift company) as we were leaving for church and pinned them on people who were very special to me.   And of course, I have given away more plates of holiday goodies than I can count.

Several years ago, I gave a kid’s party for grownups. We sang carols, talked about our favorite holiday memories, made crafts and of course we ate goodies. Reindeer antlers were given out at the door and I handed out the leftovers on my daily walk.   Remember I live in a senior community.  I’ve never seen so many women over fifty smile and giggle.

What I remember most about all the things I have given out over the holidays is the reaction of the people receiving them.  Most have reacted like instead of a mere token I gave them gold.  People like to be remembered and appreciated, especially in a way that does not make them feel obligated in any way.

This year more than ever we truly “need a little Christmas.” I hope you will think about Random Acts of Christmas, Hannukah, Solstice, or whatever else you may celebrate.  This isn’t about spending a lot of money or any money for that matter.  The thought really does count.

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