Monday, December 26, 2011

My Favorite Things at Christmas

As a child I loved songs from the Sound of Music. One of my favorites was "My Favorite Things." I was pleased to hear it on the Glee Christmas episode. It's the little things that I love at Christmas time-- singing carols with the lonely elderly at a nursing home and at Christmas parties with friends. Santa in his sleigh at the end of the Christmas parade. My red-bordered Christmas dishes with the snowman couple painted in the center. The twinkle of the lights on the tree. Special ornaments like Baby's First Christmas and the crystal angel at the top. Watching movies like A Christmas Story or Rudolph once again. Playing Santa's helper to make sure a needy child has presents Christmas morning. The velvet petals of a deep red poinsettia. Kisses under the mistletoe shot out of an oak tree. A wayward baby lamb in the pre-school Nativity play. The light in a child's eyes when they open a present. Extended family gathered at Grandparents' house to share Christmas dinner, vow to visit more often and hold the newest baby. Rarely here, delicate snowflakes icing the black branches of a pine tree. Snuggling in front of the glowing fireplace decked with garland and stockings. An unexpected gift (there's always one every year). This year it was a snow white calf birthed by my son's cow on Christmas Day.

When it's all over-- the shiny gift paper and bows trashed, the food devoured, the candles blown out, the decorations put away-- the one thing that will remain are the memories. Memories of how our family celebrated Christmas. I hope our grandchildren will fondly remember our traditions every Christmas to come... and that they will make them their own favorite things.

What are your favorite traditions?

Friday, December 23, 2011

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

The lyrics to one of my favorite Christmas carols, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on December 25th 1864. At this time, Longfellow was had gotten word that his son had suffered a crippling injury in the Civil War. He was also still mourning the death of his wife who had died when her dress caught on fire a few years earlier. Longfellow himself was burned trying to save her. Heartbroken, he was unable to attend the funeral and never shaved again. (See the tragic story here). Although the poem reflects the sorrow Longfellow was feeling, he ended on a hopeful note, lines which bring me to tears. Two of the seven stanzas which concern the Civil War are missing from the song and the remaining five stanzas were altered in 1872 by songwriter John Baptiste Calkin (1827-1905). Ironically Calkin's melody was the 1848 American militant hymn, "Fling Out the Banner! Let It Float" by George Washington Doane (1799-1859). I personally prefer this melody over the more popular one by Johnny Marks which is published in The Reader's Digest "Merry Christmas" Songbook. After days of searching for anything close to the original melody I found this one. It even shows the lyrics!

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

The omitted stanzas:

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn, the households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Giveaways

There I was, liking pages gallore and suddenly I was winning things. I didn't even know I'd entered anything. I won a $10 iTunes card from S.E. Shurtleff  who just published The Cameo Caper, FIVE books by Becky Due for liking her page, and a beautiful bracelet from UliNai Premiere Fashion Jewelry. So, I've started paying attention. Here are some Kindle contests sponsored by some more of my facebook friends, click on the links to enter! I will add more as I find them, so check back. If you have a contest and want to list it here, please do so in the comments! Thanks and good luck!

Mary E. Martin, promoting her Trilogy of Remembrance
Larry Kahn, promoting "King of Paine"
JH Glaze, promoting his sequel to The Spirit Box, "Northwest"

About Me

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Wynne Huddleston is a poet, musician and teacher. Her first book of poetry, From the Depths of Red Bluff, ISBN: 978-0-9840483-2-8, published by the Mississippi Poetry Society, Inc., is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Ms. Huddleston is the Mississippi Poetry Society 2014 Poet of the Year. Her poetry has been published in numerous publications including the Birmingham Arts Journal, Camroc Press Review, Stymie Magazine, Danse Macabre, Orange Room Review, New Fairy Tales Anthology, Ink, Sweat & Tears, and Four and Twenty. Her poem, Same Stars, Different Houses received a Pushcart Nomination from Deep South Magazine. Awards include the 2013 MPS Award, and Winner of the Grandmother Earth National Contest 2010 for Environmental Poetry. Ms. Huddleston was born in Lone Star, Texas, but has lived in Mississippi most of her life. She has been an elementary music teacher for 25 years, and has 2 grown sons, and 2 grandchildren.