On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .
John 1:14—-And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Apostles’ Creed: I believe in God . . . And in Jesus Christ his only son . , . I believe in the Holy Ghost.
On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .
Hebrews 1:2: Long should God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.
On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .
John 1:1-5: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Matthew 1:23: Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.”
**New tradition we started in 2015, adding a day of Christmas ornament each year.**
O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. Collect for the Nativity of our Lord, The Book of Common Prayer, 1979.
Our family has been enjoying a smaller, slower paced Christmas season since adopting the church calendar. Instead of a monthly run-up to Christmas, we have the waiting and preparing season of Advent.
All our baking, shopping, and cooking are done during the weeks of Advent. This year we did sugar cookies for neighbors and the post office/UPS drivers during week 2. Biscotti and brownies for us during week 3. Chili, turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing were all prepared on the 23rd.
Our plan for Christmas is: on Christmas Eve day, we clean the house and finish putting up the decorations. We don’t put up much, but it seems just right to us. Chili is prepared and put in the crockpot to be eaten after Christmas Eve service at church. When we return home, we eat our chili and open gifts. Christmas Day is usually very slow, very quiet, and everybody just does their own quiet thing. Breakfast is waffles and turkey sausage, lunch and dinner are leftovers. We usually watch a movie.
Another of our traditions is to put 12 candy canes on the tree for each person. Each day of Christmas a candy cane is taken off — sometimes eaten, sometimes just saved for a later day. I think this might be Michael’s favorite part of our traditions.
Hannah’s work means that every other year she works on Christmas. This year her schedule had her working a 12 hour shift on Christmas Eve so we opened gifts on the evening of the 23rd and had our chili for Christmas lunch. Unfortunately that also meant we missed Christmas Eve service.
During the 12 Days of Christmas we will light the white Christ candle during Vespers, eat foods a bit richer than normal, and prepare for Epiphany (which is also Kelly’s birthday).
Some of our favorite recipes —
Katharine Hepburn Brownies
1 1/4 sticks (5 oz; 140 g) salted European butter
Slightly rounded 1/2 cup (125 g) sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
1. Put the butter in the work bowl of a food processor* fitted with the metal blade and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the butter is smooth. Add the sugar and process and scrape until thoroughly blended into the butter. Add the egg and continue to process, scraping the bowl as needed, until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Add the flour all at once, then pulse 10 to 15 times, until the dough forms clumps and curds and looks like streusel.
2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gather it into a ball. Divide the ball in half, shape each half into a disk, and wrap the disks in plastic. If you have the time, chill the disks until they are firm, about 4 hours. If you’re in a hurry, you can roll the dough out immediately; it will be a little stickier, but fine. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
3. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Working with one disk at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch (4 and 7 mm) thick. Using a 1 1/2-inch (4-cm) round cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can and place them on the lined sheets, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) space between them. (You can gather the scraps into a disk and chill them, then roll, cut, and bake them later.)
5. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are set but pale. (If some of the cookies are thinner than the others, the thin ones may brown around the edges. M. Poilâne would approve. He’d tell you the spots of color here and there show they are made by hand.) Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.
Do ahead: The cookies can be kept in a tin at room temperature for about 5 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 1 month.
You can skip softening your butter. Whether you make cookie dough in a stand mixer, with a hand-mixer or (my favorite) in a food processor, you can save time by cutting your cold butter into chunks and letting the machine bang it together with the sugar until soft. It will be bumpy at first and you’ll need to scrape a few times to make sure no nubby cold bits remain but within a minute or two, the butter just right for the rest of the ingredients. It doesn’t just save time, it makes for a cooler, firmer dough that’s going to take less time to chill.
You can skip the refrigerator chill. And…
You can skip flouring your counter. As soon as my cookie dough is made, I roll it out between two large sheets of parchment paper to the desired thickness and it’s a total breeze. No flouring (which can toughen the dough). No pre-chilling (which takes so much more time). No fighting the cold dough flat (which makes us grumpy). Then, I slide this onto a baking sheet and pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes (or a day, or a week, or months until needed), until firm and cut the cookies in clean, sharp shapes from this. I then use these parchment sheets to line my baking sheets. (No waste!) Extra dough scraps can be easily rerolled and re-chilled the same way, with no erosion in dough quality because it doesn’t absorb extra flour. Bonus: No floury mess to clean up.
A couple extra tips: As you roll your dough between parchment sheets, some creases will form; pull the sheet loose so they don’t etch into the dough. When you remove your “board” of dough from the freezer, gently loosen/peel the sheet that will be the underside of the dough before placing the dough back on it. This bit of air ensures that your cookies, once cut, will come right off with no “peeling” needed. (Although even if peeling is needed, it too is a cinch with cold dough on parchment.)
Our Celtic Heritage: Looking at Our Faith in the Light of Celtic Christianity
A Study Guide for Christian Groups
By Chris King
Read Dec 2017
Session 1: The Caim and the High Cross
Session 2: God the Creator
Session 3: Never too Busy to Pray
Session 4: The Trinity
Session 5: St. Patrick’s Breastplate
An everyday religion that permeates all.
Caim — circle, circle of protection. Starts small, just round you, and then ripples outward as you pray for those both near and far.
High Cross — the victor’s cross, sun circle as crown of victory and wholeness, this life is a challenge, struggle, battle, but Christ goes before.
They did not take Christianity to the people so much as reveal the God who was already there.
Parting — God be with you
Celtic = God is present in creation and in our lives.
Advent marks the beginning of the church year. It comes at the darkest time of the year, surrounding us with hope, peace, joy, and love. It invites us to anticipate the arrival of Jesus and the light he brings into the world.
Advent gives us a chance to step back from the cultural norm of gift lists, shopping, a frantic pace, decorations that overtake the house, and an expectation of “more.” Advent, for me, is not just a time to count down to Christmas, it is a time to prepare my heart and my home for a deeper connection to the Christ.
Our Advent traditions are pretty basic because I like to keep it simple. My first step is always to clean the house and look for things to donate. While I’m cleaning, I put away all the knick-knacks that normally sit around our house. I usually buy new cloth napkins (white and blue, see a thread?) The advent wreath is given a place of honor. I really like to use blue candles and I’ve contemplated using all white candles. This year I’m using 3 purple, 1 pink, and a white Christ candle that were part of an Advent activity at my church.
Each night during my Vesper devotions, I light the appropriate candles, say the Vesper service, and read the scriptures (I use the Book of Common Prayer for my daily reading) and finally I conclude with the week’s collect from the BCP. This adds less than a minute to my normal Vespers routine.