Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

After recovering from the post-Christmas stomach bug, we had a small get together for New Year's Eve with some old and new friends. A great time was had by all but I must say I don't think I'll ever buy fireworks again. We made shakers, had a balloon drop and pop and popped 16 yards of bubble wrap. All the popping made just as much noise as fireworks and totally wore the kids out! 

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Earlier this month, Cavett's teacher sent home a blank sheet asking about traditions in our family during the month and then we were to make a "snow globe" of how we celebrate. I didn't shy away from telling it exactly how it is at our house. Ok, maybe I left out the part about telling our kids that Santa was a real person, but that he doesn't still travel around the world and pop up and down chimneys and that instead everything we have and get comes from our Lord.  And Jesus' name will be found on some of the tags underneath the tree.  We have surely been blessed! 

Since he would be learning all about Kwanzaa and Hanukkah and we can send anything to public school, I did. What follows are our Christmas Eve and Day traditions that we will be doing tonight and tomorrow morning.

Merry Texas Christmas, You All!

The Hill family celebrates Christmas and focuses on Jesus' birth. During Advent which begins four Sundays before Christmas Day, we light an Advent wreath while we have dinner. The wreath has 3 purple candles and one pink candle. Each Sunday we light an additional candle until Christmas Eve when we light the white candle in the middle--the Christ candle. Every night we read a passage from the Bible and discuss it or have an activity that illustrates the passage.

On Christmas Eve we have Gumbo for dinner--a dish from Louisiana that is like a soup with sausage and shrimp over rice. Afterwards, we attend our church service where we light candles and sing "Silent Night." Our bedtime story that evening comes from the Bible telling about the birth of Jesus Christ from Luke 2.

The first thing we do on Christmas morning is a dance. We turn the stereo up really loud and dance to "Merry Texas Christmas, You All." It was my Dadoo's favorite Christmas song. Next we open our advent calendar to find the clue for our scavenger hunt to find Baby Jesus. He has been hidden all of Advent. After we find him, he is returned to the Nativity Scene and we sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus." Breakfast then follows. It is a Christmas Bread with origins dating back from the late 18th century in the Scandinavian countries. It is based on the legend of St. Lucia and typically celebrated on December 13th which used to be the winter solstice on the Julian calendar. It is a celebration of light--of which Jesus is the light of the world.

After opening presents and hoarding our wrapping paper, we then have a gigantic "snowball fight."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Advent By the Numbers

I've been on a bit of a dry spell. Not because I didn't have anything to blog about, but because I hadn't the time in which to get it done and accomplish all that needed doing. I feel so behind that I don't even think I could back log it all. Here's the solution. Advent by the numbers:

1 Advent workshop attended with many ornaments and an Advent wreath made

Cavett's Girlfriend at school, Sophia

6 volunteered hours at Cavett's school

1 gingerbread house made and much candy eaten
3 BSF lessons taught
2 Children's Sunday School lessons and 1 Adult lesson taught

1 family consisting of a 9, 7, 3 year old helped
6 Doctor visits
2 surgeries (yes, I even got in on the action and had a biopsy done on a concerning skin spot)

3 concerts, 1 ballet and 1 pageant attended with a very cute Christmas cow

6 friend dinners/parties

12 loaves of Christmas bread made and 11 given away

5 neighbors caroled to with Oreo Cookie Balls given

2 batches of gingerbread cookies made

2 parties at our house-1 for the Office and the other for Amber's graduation

7 overnight guests

1 Birthday Dinner for Mom at Rick's

an ungodly amount of dirty underwear changed (you don't want a picture of this one!)

countless gifts bought and wrapped

5 candles lit

1 Christ Child worshipped

Even though the list is long and all of these didn't have to be done. I was able to do it, only because I centered on putting Jesus first and giving my day over to Him to prioritize. The glory is all His and that is what this season is all about as well. Advent may be coming to an end, but my Advent will continue through the year as I look forward to His second coming.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Bread

Here is a repost from December 2008. Many of you have asked for the Christmas Bread Recipe.

Happy St. Lucia Day!

I'm sure many of you are saying, "Happy what?" Also known as St. Lucy's Day, December 13th was a Church feast day together with Advent, marking the beginning of the Christmas season. Before the reform of the Gregorian calendar, it also marked the longest night of the year. This is probably the reason why the tradition has lived on in the Scandinavian countries, since the nights in the winter are very dark and long and the idea of light overcoming darkness is appealing.

The meaning of Lucy or Lucia is "light" stemming from the Latin-"lux." In one of the stories associated with her legend, she was working to help Christians hiding in the catacombs. In order to bring with her as much food and drink as possible, she needed to have her hands free. She solved this problem by making a wreath to wear on her head on to which she attached lights. Thus she managed to see in the darkness of the catacombs.

As the tradition goes, the eldest daughter of the family dresses in white and wears a candle wreath while serving a sweet roll and coffee to her parents. Now, for some reason in my family, it was the 2nd daughter. I think Candace served it one year in a white dress with the actual candle wreath, although not lit. Our family typically makes this bread (which we call Christmas Bread) for gifts to family friends and then we also have a loaf for Christmas morning.

This is not really a hard bread to make, but it is quite involved making many dishes dirty and 2 risings. Today I delivered my last batch. That was 16 loaves and I still need to make one for our family to enjoy.

Even if this day has roots in pagan celebrations of the solstice, think again. As you see light this Christmas season, may you remember that it is Jesus that comes to overcome the darkness and illuminate us.
"The light shines in the darkeness and the darkness can never overcome it." John 1:5.

Here is the recipe:

1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. warm water
5 t. of yeast
2 eggs
4 c. flour

2-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
3/4 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
1 egg

4 T. butter
2 T. milk (maybe more for consistency)
2 t. vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar

Melt butter in the microwave. Add sour cream, sugar and salt to it and stir to luke warm. In a large bowl sprinkle yeast over water and dissolve. Mix in sour cream mixture. Add 2 eggs and flour. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Or, let rise 1 hour on counter.
Divide dough into quarters, thirds or half depending upon how big you want it. Roll into a rectangle. Spread filling being careful not to get too close to the edges or it will ooze out. Roll into a loaf or a circle, pinch and rise for 1 hour.

Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes. Cool and ice.
This recipe can make up to 4 loaves.