Monday, November 21, 2016


   With Thanksgiving a little less than 3 days away, it means that a lot of us start to think more about Christmas.  We start to think about what theme or decorations that we're going to put up and how its all going to look.  Also we've got to start thinking about putting the lights up onto the house and anywhere else that you want them to go.  Just think of how many trips we're going to take up into the attic to bring down all of the boxes filled with Christmas decorations (by yourself most of the time, because everyone else disappears during this fun filled time).
   One of the main items that we ponder on the most though, is the Christmas tree.  Whether it's an artificial tree or a real one.  The Christmas tree is usually the focal point of your inside the house Christmas decorating. Most of what we decide to do with the tree and how it gets decorated, coinsides with  what the rest of your Christmas theme or  decorating style on the inside of the house.  The Christmas tree is the showcase item, with all  of its glistening lights and the different ornaments that you love and adore.  The only thing that can turn this art piece into a nightmare is choosing a bad tree.


Picking out your Christmas Tree

   There are two ways to go about picking your tree, one is to  go to the nearest Christmas tree lot or big box store (Walmart, Home Depot, Kmart) or you can load up the family in the car and go to a Christmas tree farm near you and cut your own.  If you're rushed, go to the local big box store, but take your time and look around, don't just grab the first one on the way to the register.  If you have children, the only way to go is to cut your own. Load the family up in the family up and make an outing of it, with sandwiches, cookies, hot chocolate and probably a change of close (things have a tendency to happen when you're in the outdoors, when it's muddy or snowing.  When you're around evergreen trees,  sap has a tendency to stick to just about anything and everything you touch.  Wiping it  off on your clothes makes it worse,  when you get back in your car and you're ready to leave sap has tendency to stick to the seats and other upholstered pieces in the car, and is a bear to get out, so bring some glove for everyone to wear.
    Whatever way you go, try to make it a fun outing.  It's not all that hard to avoid a bad tree, when you take the time to look over the tree like you would pick out clothes or furniture.  Just remember,  after picking that special Christmas tree, that you want to have plenty of room for your ornaments, lights, and all the other things that make your tree special.

   You should take some measurements of where you want  the tree to go and how much room you have around it, before you go and make sure to write them down.  You should know how high your ceilings are before you put the saw to your Christmas tree, because once it's cut it's pretty much yours.  Once you get the Christmas tree home, it often has the magical powers of growing from the time you left where you purchased your Christmas tree until the time you reach home (it must have sucked in all the wind that blew through it on the way home).  You should select a tree that is one foot shorter than your ceiling height because you need to remember you will probably be adding a tree topper to it.
   One of the best ways to see how healthy the tree is to grab a handful of needles and pull gently on it, you want to do this especially if you're buying the tree already cut (no telling how long the trip was to get to the lot from that tree farm out of state,  and if they have been sitting for a long time in the elements.  Loosing alot of needles tells you that the tree is very dry and it won't last more thank a week or two.  Also if you're cutting your own tree, look at it from all angles, especially if it's surrounded by other trees.  Look over it for bare spots and missing branches.  The needles should bend not break.

   You will want to shake or bounce the tree to check for losing needles, and it also kind of cleans the tree of leaves, bugs,  and other debris that may have accumulated inside of the tree where you can't see.  A few needles will always fall off a tree once it is cut due to the shock factor.  Fewer needles will fall from a fresh-cut tree versus a tree that has been cut.
   The tree trunk will need to have at least six to eight inches of trunk on it below the last branches, so that the tree can be properly placed in the stand and stand up straight.  Don't forget, before putting it in the stand that you should cut off at least a half inch off  of the bottom of it.  When the tree was cut at the farm or when you  cut it down sap starts leaking out of the bottom to cover up and seal up the cut.  The new cut will make it so when the tree is up in the stand it will drink up the water, so it will last longer.

Vintage Christmas tree lot

   The Caring of your Christmas Tree at Home and Safety Issues  

   One you get the tree home and and after you've cut that 1/2 inch off of the bottom of it, if you don't plan on putting the tree up right away, get a plastic bucket and fill it with water and put the tree in the water filled bucket until you're ready to install the tree into the stand.  This will keep the sap from covering the cut and will help the tree to take in some much needed drink.  Make sure any stand that you're going to be using for the tree, can hold at least a gallon of water.
   Check the water level of the tree everyday, especially the first two or three, because that's when it seems to take in the most. Make you to keep the level above the bottom of the tree, if it gets below the bottom the tree may sap back over,then you would have to take the tree back out of the stand and recut it, also watch out for adding too much water to  your tree.  It may even be a good idea to keep a towel hidden under the tree just in case water does get spilled.

City tree lot today

  As long as your fresh Christmas tree is kept with an ample supply of water, it presents little if any fire hazard.  Do not place your Christmas tree near a fireplace, heater vents or any other source of heat.
   You should use only UL-approved Christmas lights for your tree and nonflammable decorations too.  Also turn off Christmas tree lights when leaving home or going to bed to reduce the risk of fire.



The Mayflower

   At daybreak on November 19, 1620, the Mayflower passed the headland of Cape Cod and found herself in peril.  The shoals were dangerously and she had to turn back northward.  Finding a favorable wind, the Mayflower and her human cargo enter the protected waters of the Bay and stared out onto an unknown land.  This was the Pilgrims new home.  After 66 hard days at sea and winter approaching, those faithful English Separatists faced the Winter of 1621.

Plymouth Colony


   The first winter for the Plymouth Colony was filled with loss and longing.  More than half of the 102 Pilgrims that arrived on the Mayflower.  Food was scarce.  Hunger and disease plagued and weakened the people.  Cold and harsh conditions wore down moral.  Prospects for the new colony were weak.  The actions of smart men and the sacrifice of brave women contributed to the survival of the Pilgrims.

The Mayflower Compact

The Social Contract

   President Lincoln once remarked that a house divided against itself cannot stand.  The Pilgrims knew this principle to be true.  English Separatists were not the only passengers on the Mayflower.  Of its 102 passengers, only 37 were Separatists.  The remainder were craftsmen and sailors.  There was even one soldier, Miles Standish.  The men of the ship met and came to an accord as to how to run their temporary colony until some guidance came from England.  This accord was call the Mayflower Compact.  The document served as a written promise of the men present to each other and to God for the sake of the survival of the new colony.

The making of the compact


   In the absence of the Compact, allegiances and community would have been lost in the need and instinct for survival.  After the 41 colonists signed the compact, a leader was elected and under this leader authority was given for the organization and establishment of the colony.

A Place to Rest

   As winters go in Massachusetts, historians describe the winter of 1620 as a mild one.  However, for unfamiliar newcomers, the weather conditions were inhospitable.
   The ground was hard, frozen and covered in snow.  The wind was blustery and there was a great deal of rain.  For a ship full of people, very sick people and low on food, the conditions were harsh.
   While the sick were being cared, able bodied men, such as William Bradford, braved the condition to scout the New World.  Luckily, the Pilgrims were not the first Europeans to wander these lands.  Men such as Captain John Smith of Jamestown fame and explorer Samuel de Champlian, had arrived more than a decade prior.  Champlian even created a navigational chart which the Pilgrims used as a Guide.

Miles Standish

   By using the map, the Pilgrim scouts were able to explore the areas on the shores of the Cape Cod Bay.  After several trips to shore, the Pilgrims had located an advantageous site for building their community.  With the break in the weather, there was hope of building adequate shelter for all those aboard.  On Christmas Day, they began to build.
  Finding the Plymouth colony with a good fishing lake and an ample harbor and an empty camping spot was the second bit of good luck for the Pilgrims; the first had been not being hit by the arrows and safely ending the first minor battle.

Men of Action

   Under the authority of the Compact and planning, the Pilgrims began to build.  The pilgrims had not selected a wooded area to begin work.  Instead, through their surveys and exploration, some of the men had found a clearing.  The clearing had once been the site of the Pawtuxet village.  The tribe had one roamed the area, but had died due to disease.  The location for the colony was found on Christmas Day, the Pilgrims began building the Plymouth settlement.
   The sick were taken off the ship and able-bodied men lead their families to build.  19 families in all began to build their shelters.

   Those that could be spared also built storehouses and a church.  Even more scouted for food to supplement the merger rations remaining from the Mayflower.  And, when the time was necessary, others took up their muskets to hunt and to defend the other Pilgrims.

Sacrifice of Mothers

   While the men offered leadership, the strong women of the colony provided just as much in support and care.  Of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower, 18 were women and three boarded the ship pregnant.  They had endured the treacherous journey across the sea, but their work had only begun when it was time to settle in the New World.
   Women managed the meals, cared for the sick, and cared for the 30 Pilgrim children.  They helped the children gather food and offered basic instruction to the children.  The women's sacrifice is best told by their numbers.  Many opted when food was scarce to give their portions to their children.  Of the 18 women, only 4 survived the winter.


   The fact that the Pilgrims did survive the harsh winter of 1620 is a testament to their resolve and their faith.  The New World was to be their Promised Land.  On their arrival, one could hardly see the promise.  However, through the foresight of planning, leadership, hard work and ultimately personal sacrifice, the Pilgrims, nearly half of their number, survived to build the Plymouth Colony.



   In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph Mcfee was distraught because so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry.  During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty stricken.  He only had one major hurdle to overcome---funding the project.
   Where would the money come from, he wondered.  he lay awake nights, worrying and praying about how he could find the funds to fulfill his commitment of feeding 1,000 of the city's poorest individuals on Christmas Day.  As he pondered the issue, his thoughts drifted back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England.  He remembered how at the Stage Landing, where the boats came in, there was a large, iron kettle called "Simpson's Pot" into which passers by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.


   The next day Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street.  Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, "Keep the Pot Boiling".  He soon had the money to see that the needy people were properly fed at Christmas.
   Six years later, the Kettle idea spread from the west coast to the Boston area.  That year, the combined effort nationwide resulted in 150,00 Christmas dinners for the needy.  In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first mammoth sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a custom that continued for many years.  Today in the United States, The Salvation Army assists more than four and a half million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time periods.


   Captain McFee's kettle idea launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but all across the world.  Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile and many European countries.  Everywhere, public contributions to Salvation Army kettles enable the organization to continue its year round efforts at helping those who would otherwise be forgotten.



   Are you looking for "Thanksgiving quotes? Thanksgiving inspiration messages or sayings? Here is just a small collection of some of  some inspirational Thanksgiving quotes.
   Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated with a big turkey dinner shared with family and friends.  Oddly enough it is the most traveled holiday of the year and the perfect time to say "Thanks" and teach children the importance of being grateful for what you have.  The following Thanksgiving inspirational sayings are here for you to inspire your family this Thanksgiving.  So read though them and maybe ponder them in thought.  Maybe you could even use one of them when we say grace or our thanks before you eat a bountiful Thanksgiving feast.

  • "If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness.  It will change your life mightily". --Gerald Good
  • "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them".--John Fitzgerald Kennedy
  • "Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow".--Edward Sandford Martin
  • "Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving".--W.T. Purkiser
  • "Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal.  It's a way to live".--Jackie Windspear
  • "Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men, but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude".--E.P. Powell
  • "For flowers that bloom about our feet; For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet; For song of bird, and hum of bee; For all things fair we hear or see, Father in heaven, we thank Thee"!--Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have".--Frederick Keonig
  • "Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving".--W.T. Purkiser
  • "Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow".--Melody Beattie
  • "Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal.  It's a way to live".--Jackie Windspear
  • "Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received.  Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling.  Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse".--Henry Van Dyke
  • "Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare.  They re consumed in twelve minutes.  Half-times take twelve minutes.  This is not a coincidence".--Erma Bombeck
  • "An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day".--Irv Kupcine