We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
May the Spirit of Christmas be with you bringing you and your family and loved ones, the gifts of Health, Happiness, Prosperity, Peace, Friendship, Love, Brotherhood to all the people on planet Earth.
Have a Safe and a Merry Christmas!
the Christmas Spirit Blog | a proud member of the Homeboy Media Network
…… and a Happy New Year 2010!
So, you shop for your perfect Christmas Tree, if you haven’t done so already. All you need now is just a little guidance to help you choose the right one.
As you shop, keep in mind that the right tree will feel pliable and soft, even on varieties with stiff needles, such as spruces.
Bang the bottom of the tree on a solid surface once or twice to see if the needles are ready to fall, it’s okay if some brown or yellow needles drop, but the tree shouldn’t shed any green ones.
Bring your tree stand to make sure the trunk will fit.
Freshly cut Christmas trees generally hold their needles the best, so cutting your own is the only way to guarantee its freshness.
After you bring the tree home, use a bow saw to cut two inches off the bottom of the trunk, and place the tree in water in your garage or another location close to the house.
When you are ready to bring the tree indoors, make a fresh cut on the bottom of the trunk.
Introduce the tree to room temperature one day before decorating, allowing its branches to open completely.
Set it in a stand that’s big enough to provide stability and large enough to hold water for the tree’s daily needs.
Use a hand pruner or pruning saw to shape the tree for a balanced appearance and to make room underneath for gifts.
Make sure to cut away from your body and from other people while pruning.
There are several important safety tips for homeowners to remember.
Trees should be kept well away from fireplaces and at least three feet from any heating sources, and they should not be placed near exits.
When using decorative lights, use only those that carry a UL approved tag, and be sure to turn off the lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
Local fire marshals also recommend strongly that trees be kept indoors for as brief a period as possible.
More information on holiday safety is available at http://www.kate.net/holidays/christmas/holidaysafety.html
The American National Christmas Tree Association, which represents growers of holiday trees, says that homeowners should not add products such as fertilizer, bleach or aspirin to water to make trees last longer.
“Research has shown that plain tap water is by far the best” according to their web site. “Some commercial additives and home concoctions can actually be detrimental to a tree’s moisture retention and increase needle loss”.
A Christmas tree can take, on average, six to 10 years to mature to a suitable size. Each year 73 million new trees are planted, according to the tree growers association. But if you’re worried about the impact of all those holiday trees on the environment, take heart: Christmas tree farming does bring some benefits. A renewable resource, the trees boost air quality by generating oxygen and reducing carbon dioxide and particulate pollution. Tree growth also helps to stabilize soil, protect water supplies and provide refuge for wildlife.
Once the holidays are over, homeowners face a new question: What to do with the tree? Local jurisdictions typically schedule pickup for discarded Christmas trees, which are chipped and added to Municipal leaf piles for compost. Most trees, in fact, end up providing a rich source of compost material. Many unsold trees also enter the chipper thus contributing to enriching the soil.
You can do your own post-Christmas composting in a few easy steps >
First, prune the limbs off the main trunk.
Then strip the smaller woody stems off the main branches, putting the needle-rich stems in your compost pile. The needles will add nitrogen, while the wood stems will add carbon.
The trunk and main branches can be placed curbside for pickup.
If you find a cone on your tree, remove it and allow to dry outside over winter. Peel back its “armor” in the spring to reveal the seeds hiding behind each woody scale. Plant the seeds in sunny spots. In 6 to 10 years, with proper soil, sun, moisture, pruning and temperatures, you may have a homegrown Christmas tree or two.
Your old Christmas tree can also be used to create a wildlife habitat >
Lay the tree in the back of your garden, slightly out of view.
Allow it collect leaf litter and plant debris.
Place a hollow log or a dead shrub behind it. Squirrels, rabbits, foxes, toads, turtles and birds depend on this type of protected area for nesting and shelter from predators.
As the tree decays, it will provide food for insects and worms that will in turn be eaten by birds.
Evergreen limbs can also be used as protection from wind or freeze damage for plants such as rosemary, loropetalum, or the roots of tender perennials and bulbs such as canna and dahlia. Lay the branches lightly, just one or two thick, as blankets over the desired area. Remove branches as growth resumes in the spring.
Some people are brave enough to bring home a live tree that can be planted in their yard. If this is what you have in mind, go to a garden center or tree seller that has experience with growing them. Live trees can be planted right after Christmas, but now is the time to dig and prepare the hole and put soil for planting the tree in an area where it won’t freeze. The trees adapt well in humus-laden, well-drained soil, with sunlight. Of course, until you plant the tree, cover the pre-dug hole with thick plywood, for safety. Keep the root ball moist and take the live tree out of the house within a week after the holiday to keep it from breaking dormancy.
Waterstone’s last week reported that the fourth book by Dan Brown, “The Lost Symbol”, clocked up the most sales this month making it the number one Christmas read.
The book, which broke every record when it was released, beat the Guinness World Records 2010 and Stephenie Meyer’s Eclipse.
Brown’s first book, “The Da Vinci Code”, which was later made into a film, was top of the Christmas book chart back in 2004.
Waterstone’s fiction buyer Janine Cook said: “The Lost Symbol has not been far from the top of the charts since publication, and it’s a great gift, which is why it’s back on top”.
In other news, rock band Rage Against the Machine ended the X-Factor’s four year dominance of the Christmas number one spot following half a million people supporting an online campaign to get ‘Killing in the Name’ to the top of the charts.
An ivory and gold toothpick once owned by Charles Dickens was sold at an auction in New York City for the amount of US$9,150.
The item is engraved with the English author’s initials. It was sold by heirs to the Barnes and Noble family. The pre-sale estimate was $3,000 to $5,000. The auctioneer, Bonhams, said the buyer did not want to be named.
An authentication letter from Dickens’s sister-in-law says the author of “Great Expectations” and “A Christmas Carol” used the toothpick up to his death in 1870.
The author, also known by the pen-name of Boz, created some of the most memorable fictional characters of all time. Dickens’s work, which also includes “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield”, has enjoyed enormous popularity in America since the author’s own lifetime. Charles Dickens visited the country and wrote the travelogue “American Notes”.
Related Links > http://www.bonhams.com
Source > BBC
Christmas Carols > Christmas carols are synonymous with the holiday season and can invoke the Spirit of Christmas in even the most Scrooge-like individuals. Indeed, Bing Crosby crooning “White Christmas”, Alvin’s squeaky “Chipmunk Christmas Song” or a group of carolers singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” can bring holiday warmth on the coldest December day.
The Origin of the Christmas Carol > The first carols were religious hymns written about the birth of Christ and included themes such as the nativity, peace, angels, baby Jesus, and the North Star. Beginning with St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), carols have been sung in church to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s said that St. Francis was the first person to set up a manger scene in a church, a model of the stable in which baby Jesus was delivered that included farm animals, shepherds, and three singing wise men.
Christmas Carols around the World > The oldest printed collection of Christmas carols was published in 1521 by Jan van Wynkyn, an Englishman. The book included the “Boar’s Head Carol” which is still sung today.
“Silent Night” was written by an Austrian priest named Fr. Joseph Mohr in the early 19th century and was later translated into hundreds of languages. The popular version of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” was written by Canon Frederick Oakeley of London in 1852, but the origins of the song date back to the 13th century Franciscan St. Bonaventure. A Latin version was also popular in 1744 at vaudeville shows in Paris.
American Carols > “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was written by Phillip Brooks of Boston, Massachusetts, a preacher in the 19th century who became Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts in 1891. He wrote the famous words of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” three years after he journeyed to the Holy Land and spent Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. Brooks gave the words to his church organist who set them to music on Christmas in 1868. “We Three Kings of Orient Are” dates back to 1857 when John Henry Hopkins wrote the carol for a Christmas pageant at the General Theological Seminary in New York City.
Modern Carols > In recent history, carols have come to tell about not only the nativity, but also secular holiday traditions, including reindeer, snowmen, Santa Claus, and more. Some popular nonreligious carols include Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas Is You,” “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” by Bruce Springsteen, “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley, and “Jingle Bell Rock” by Hall and Oates.
All I want for Christmas… is a divorce > A British law firm is offering an unusual present for unhappily married couples this Christmas, divorce gift vouchers.
British law firm Lloyd Platt and Company in London said it has received hundreds of enquiries since putting the vouchers on sale last month.
Offering couples half-hour or hour-long advice session with a lawyer, the firm has sold 54 vouchers in three weeks, according to the Daily Telegraph. The firm is calling the vouchers this year’s “must have” present, and cost 140 euros.
“Christmas can be a very stressful time for families as we have always seen by the huge increase of people seeking advice in January” senior partner Vanessa Lloyd Platt told the newspaper. “The vouchers seem to appeal to an enormously wide spread spectrum of people looking for that ‘must have’ gift for Christmas” she said. She added that buyers include husbands, wives, mistresses and people using them as a suggestion to their friends and family members.
However the vouchers have been criticised for encouraging people to seek a divorce rather than resolve their problems through counselling or other means.
“It’s typical ambulance chasing by lawyers who are doing this for business reasons” said Dave Percival, who organises an annual National Marriage Week, which celebrates the institution of marriage.
Lloyd Platt and Company said the vouchers offer people “all the practical options available to them, divorce being only one of the options”.
How realistic are your New Year resolutions?
Here’s some Tips and Hints to help you keep yours >
Try aiming for something manageable that will still make you feel good.
Tell your friends and family and ask them for help sticking to it. It’s easier if you don’t go it alone.
Don’t make too many resolutions. You’ll find it easier if you have one goal to aim for.