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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Everything Christmas

It is time for a FIRST Wild CardTour book review!

If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!

Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

Press (October 5, 2010)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator, Doubleday Religion /Waterbrook Multnomah, Divisions of Random House, Inc. for sending me a
review copy.***

Everything Christmas is a beautiful book either for your personal library or to give away as a gift.  It is rich with the history of timeless holiday traditions from all over the world and full of inspirational Christmas stories.  This book includes craft ideas, recipes, poetry, quotes and even the lyrics to well known (and maybe not so well known) Christmas songs.  From the cover to the pages inside, the colors and print reflect the Christmas season.  In the back of the book there is an index which makes it easy to find what you are looking for.  I found the Christmas Dinners section very interesting – over ten countries are represented.  There is also a Christmas Gifts section which includes ideas for homemade and handmade gifts.  This book is perfect for those who love the Christmas season!

David Bordon and Tom Winters are partners in Bordon-Winters, LLC, a book concept and packaging company that produces successful books and gift products. Their previous titles include the 101 Things You Should Do series, especially the popular 101 Things You Should Do Before Going to Heaven.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5,
Language: English
ISBN-10: 030772929X


December 1

Let Us Keep Christmas

Grace Noll Crowell

Whatever else be lost among the years,

Let us keep
Christmas still a shining thing;

Whatever doubts assail us,
or what fears,

Let us hold close one day, remembering

It’s poignant meaning for the hearts of men.

Let us
get back our childlike faith again.

History of Christmas

Many of our Christmas traditions
were celebrated centuries before the Christ child was born. The twelve
days of Christmas, the bright fires, the yule log, gift giving,
carnivals, carolers going from house to house, holiday feasts, even
church processions can all be traced back to the early Mesopotamians.
These traditions were passed down throughout the known world and were
popular in Rome long before the birth of Christ.

Most historians say that some three centuries after the birth of
Christ, Christianity was spreading rapidly. Church leaders were
alarmed that their converts continued to honor the ancient
celebrations honoring pagan gods. Early Christians had chosen to keep
the birth of their Christ child a solemn and religious holiday,
without merriment. For centuries they had forbidden their members to
take part in those ancient celebrations. But now it seemed it was a
losing battle. As a compromise, they agreed to allow their members to
partake in a demure and respectful celebration of the birth of Christ.
Thus, the Christian celebration we know as Christmas was born in Rome,
near the date 336 AD.

The actual date of Christ’s
birth is unknown, so the early Christians chose December 25, probably
to compete with the wildly popular Roman festival of Saturnalia.
Eventually, most of the customs from the festival of Saturnalia were
adopted into the celebration of Christmas and given new and sacred

Today, Christmas is both a holiday and a
holy day. In America, it is the biggest event of the year, celebrated
by people of all ages.

Christmas Every

William Dean Howells

The little girl
came into her papa’s study, as she always did Saturday morning before
breakfast, and asked for a story. He tried to beg off that morning,
for he was very busy, but she would not let him. So he began:

“Well, once there was a little pig—”

stopped him at the word. She said she had heard little pig stories
till she was perfectly sick of them.

“Well, what kind
of story shall I tell, then?”

“About Christmas. It’s
getting to be the season.”

“Well!” Her papa roused
himself. “Then I’ll tell you about the little girl that wanted it
Christmas every day in the year. How would you like that?”

“First-rate!” said the little girl; and she nestled into
comfortable shape in his lap, ready for listening.

“Very well, then, this little pig—Oh, what are you pounding me

“Because you said little pig instead of little

“I should like to know what’s the difference
between a little pig and a little girl that wanted Christmas every

“Papa!” said the little girl warningly. At this
her papa began to tell the story.

Once there was a
little girl who liked Christmas so much that she wanted it to be
Christmas every day in the year, and as soon as Thanksgiving was over
she began to send postcards to the old Christmas Fairy to ask if she
mightn’t have it. But the old Fairy never answered, and after a while
the little girl found out that the Fairy wouldn’t notice anything but
real letters sealed outside with a monogram—or your initial, anyway.
So, then, she began to send letters, and just the day before
Christmas, she got a letter from the Fairy, saying she might have it
Christmas every day for a year, and then they would see about having
it longer.

The little girl was excited already,
preparing for the old-fashioned, once-a-year Christmas that was coming
the next day. So she resolved to keep the Fairy’s promise to herself
and surprise everybody with it as it kept coming true, but then it
slipped out of her mind altogether.

She had a
splendid Christmas. She went to bed early, so as to let Santa Claus
fill the stockings, and in the morning she was up the first of anybody
and found hers all lumpy with packages of candy, and oranges and
grapes, and rubber balls, and all kinds of small presents. Then she
waited until the rest of the family was up, and she burst into the
library to look at the large presents laid out on the library
table—books, and boxes of stationery, and dolls, and little stoves,
and dozens of handkerchiefs, and inkstands, and skates, and photograph
frames, and boxes of watercolors, and dolls’ houses—and the big
Christmas tree, lighted and standing in the middle.

She had a splendid Christmas all day. She ate so much candy that she
did not want any breakfast, and the whole forenoon the presents kept
pouring in that had not been delivered the night before, and she went
round giving the presents she had got for other people, and came home
and ate turkey and cranberry for dinner, and plum pudding and nuts and
raisins and oranges, and then went out and coasted, and came in with a
stomachache crying, and her papa said he would see if his house was
turned into that sort of fool’s paradise another year, and they had a
light supper, and pretty early everybody went to bed cross.

The little girl slept very heavily and very late, but she was
wakened at last by the other children dancing around her bed with
their stockings full of presents in their hands. “Christmas!
Christmas! Christmas!” they all shouted.

It was Christmas yesterday,” said the little girl, rubbing her eyes

Her brothers and sisters just laughed. “We
don’t know about that. It’s Christmas today, anyway. You come into the
library and see.”

Then all at once it flashed on the
little girl that the Fairy was keeping her promise, and her year of
Christmases was beginning. She was dreadfully sleepy, but she sprang
up and darted into the library. There it was again! Books, and boxes
of stationery, and dolls, and so on.

There was the
Christmas tree blazing away, and the family picking out their
presents, and her father looking perfectly puzzled, and her mother
ready to cry. “I’m sure I don’t see how I’m to dispose of all these
things,” said her mother, and her father said it seemed to him they
had had something just like it the day before, but he supposed he must
have dreamed it. This struck the little girl as the best kind of a
joke, and so she ate so much candy she didn’t want any breakfast, and
went round carrying presents, and had turkey and cranberry for dinner,
and then went out and coasted, and came in with a stomachache,

Now, the next day, it was the same thing over
again, but everybody getting crosser, and at the end of a week’s time
so many people had lost their tempers that you could pick up lost
tempers anywhere, they perfectly strewed the ground. Even when people
tried to recover their tempers they usually got somebody else’s, and
it made the most dreadful mix.

The little girl began
to get frightened, keeping the secret all to herself, she wanted to
tell her mother, but she didn’t dare to, and she was ashamed to ask
the Fairy to take back her gift, it seemed ungrateful and ill-bred. So
it went on and on, and it was Christmas on St. Valentine’s Day and
Washington’s Birthday, just the same as any day, and it didn’t skip
even the First of April, though everything was counterfeit that day,
and that was some little relief.

After a while
turkeys got to be awfully scarce, selling for about a thousand dollars
apiece. They got to passing off almost anything for turkeys—even
half-grown hummingbirds. And cranberries—well they asked a diamond
apiece for cranberries. All the woods and orchards were cut down for
Christmas trees. After a while they had to make Christmas trees out of
rags. But there were plenty of rags, because people got so poor,
buying presents for one another, that they couldn’t get any new
clothes, and they just wore their old ones to tatters. They got so
poor that everybody had to go to the poorhouse, except the
confectioners, and the storekeepers, and the book sellers, and they
all got so rich and proud that they would hardly wait upon a person
when he came to buy. It was perfectly shameful!

it had gone on about three or four months, the little girl, whenever
she came into the room in the morning and saw those great ugly, lumpy
stockings dangling at the fireplace, and the disgusting presents
around everywhere, used to sit down and burst out crying. In six
months she was perfectly exhausted, she couldn’t even cry anymore.

And now it was on the Fourth of July! On the Fourth of
July, the first boy in the United States woke up and found out that
his firecrackers and toy pistol and two-dollar collection of fireworks
were nothing but sugar and candy painted up to look like fireworks.
Before ten o’clock every boy in the United States discovered that his
July Fourth things had turned into Christmas things and was so mad.
The Fourth of July orations all turned into Christmas carols, and when
anybody tried to read the Declaration of Independence, instead of
saying, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary,” he
was sure to sing, “God rest you merry gentlemen.” It was perfectly

About the beginning of October the little girl
took to sitting down on dolls wherever she found them—she hated the
sight of them so, and by Thanksgiving she just slammed her presents
across the room. By that time people didn’t carry presents around
nicely anymore. They flung them over the fence or through the window,
and, instead of taking great pains to write “For dear Papa,” or “Mama
“ or “Brother,” or “Sister,” they used to write, “Take it, you horrid
old thing!” and then go and bang it against the front door.

Nearly everybody had built barns to hold their presents, but
pretty soon the barns overflowed, and then they used to let them lie
out in the rain, or anywhere. Sometimes the police used to come and
tell them to shovel their presents off the sidewalk or they would
arrest them.

Before Thanksgiving came it had leaked
out who had caused all these Christmases. The little girl had suffered
so much that she had talked about it in her sleep, and after that
hardly anybody would play with her, because if it had not been for her
greediness it wouldn’t have happened. And now, when it came
Thanksgiving, and she wanted them to go to church, and have turkey,
and show their gratitude, they said that all the turkeys had been
eaten for her old Christmas dinners and if she would stop the
Christmases, they would see about the gratitude. And the very next day
the little girl began sending letters to the Christmas Fairy, and then
telegrams, to stop it. But it didn’t do any good, and then she got to
calling at the Fairy’s house, but the girl that came to the door
always said, “Not at home,” or “Engaged,” or something like that, and
so it went on till it came to the old once-a-year Christmas Eve. The
little girl fell asleep, and when she woke up in the morning—

“She found it was all nothing but a dream,” suggested the
little girl.

“No indeed!” said her papa. “It was all
every bit true!”

“What did she find out, then?”

“Why, that it wasn’t Christmas at last, and wasn’t ever
going to be, anymore. Now it’s time for breakfast.”

The little girl held her papa fast around the neck.

“You shan’t go if you’re going to leave it so!”

do you want it left?”

“Christmas once a year.”

“All right,” said her papa, and he went on again.

Well, with no Christmas ever again, there was the
greatest rejoicing all over the country. People met together
everywhere and kissed and cried for joy. Carts went around and
gathered up all the candy and raisins and nuts, and dumped them into
the river, and it made the fish perfectly sick. And the whole United
States, as far out as Alaska, was one blaze of bonfires, where the
children were burning up their presents of all kinds. They had the
greatest time!

The little girl went to thank the old
Fairy because she had stopped its being Christmas, and she said she
hoped the Fairy would keep her promise and see that Christmas never,
never came again. Then the Fairy frowned, and said that now the little
girl was behaving just as greedily as ever, and she’d better look out.
This made the little girl think it all over carefully again, and she
said she would be willing to have it Christmas about once in a
thousand years, and then she said a hundred, and then she said ten,
and at last she got down to one. Then the Fairy said that was the good
old way that had pleased people ever since Christmas began, and she
was agreed. Then the little girl said, “What’re your shoes made of?”
And the Fairy said, “Leather.” And the little girl said, “Bargain’s
done forever,” and skipped off, and hippity-hopped the whole way home,
she was so glad.

“How will that do?” asked the

“First-rate!” said the little girl, but she
hated to have the story stop, and was rather sober. However, her mama
put her head in at the door and asked her papa:

you never coming to breakfast? What have you been telling that

“Oh, just a tale with a moral.”

The little girl caught him around the neck again.

“We know! Don’t you tell what, papa! Don’t you tell what!”

William Dean Howells (1837—1920) Best known as an editor
and critic, this American fiction writer produced more than forty
novels and story collections. He challenged American authors to choose
American subjects, portray them honestly, and create characters who
use native-American speech. As a critic, he helped to introduce
writers like Mark Twain, Hamlin Garland, and Stephen Crane to American

What is Christmas? It is
tenderness for the past,

courage for the present, hope for
the future.

It is a fervent wish that every cup may

with blessings rich and eternal, and that

every path may lead to peace.

Agnes M. Pharo

Scented Applesauce-Cinnamon


3 cups applesauce

3 cups ground

Mix applesauce and cinnamon
together until it is thick enough to hold a form. Flatten the mixture
on a flat surface and cut into cookie-cutter shapes.

Place cookie shapes on a cookie sheet to dry for 3 to 4 days depending
on the size and thickness of the cookies. If using as a hanging
ornament, make a hole with a toothpick before drying.

15 ornaments.

Chestnut Dressing

8 Tbsp. butter

3 ribs celery with leaves,

16 ounces chestnuts

1 large chopped

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 pound sourdough
bread, cubed

3 cups turkey stock

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut a deep X into the flattest side of each
chestnut and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 30
minutes, or until outer skin of chestnut splits. Wrap roasted
chestnuts in a towel to keep warm. Peel off the tough outer skin of
the chestnut and thinner inner skin with a sharp knife. Chop the
chestnuts coarsely and set aside.

Melt butter in a
large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook,
stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Empty skillet contents into a
large bowl. Add cubed bread, parsley, and enough stock to moisten the
mix, about 2 1/2 cups. Stir in chestnuts and add salt and pepper to

Use to stuff poultry or place in a buttered
baking dish, drizzle with 1/2 cup more stock, and bake 30 minutes to
an hour.

Makes 10–11 cups.

Roasted Goose

1 goose, 10–12 pounds

1 orange,

kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For giblet stock (used in gravy):

2 onions, quartered

1 carrot, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 pints of water

2 sprigs of sage

2 sprigs
fresh thyme

1 Tbsp. cornstarch (to thicken)

The goose should be defrosted and left at room
temperature for at least 2 or 3 hours before cooking to bring it to
equilibrium. This will improve the overall texture of the finished
product. Remove the giblets from the goose and set aside. Wash the
bird thoroughly inside and out with cool water and pat dry with a
kitchen towel. Cut away any loose pieces of fat. Then rub the orange
inside and outside of the bird. Mix the salt and pepper and rub into
the skin and inside the cavity of the bird to season it.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Truss the bird by
folding the wings back under the body. Then tie the legs together with
butcher’s twine. Lightly prick the skin of the bird several times with
a fork to allow the fat to adequately render during the cooking
process. It is important not to pierce the flesh of the bird. Place
the goose breast-side up on a rack in the roasting pan, and bake in
the oven for approximately 30 minutes to develop some initial color.
Then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and continue cooking for
approximately 3 hours.

Make a simple giblet stock to
fortify and enrich the gravy while the goose is roasting by placing
the giblets in a saucepan with some goose fat and cooking over low
heat until browned. Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, herbs, and
water. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for about one hour.
Strain and cool until needed.

The goose is done when
the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 175°F. For a visual test
to see if the goose is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part
of the thigh. If the juices run clear, then it is ready. If not, then
return to the oven for additional roasting time.

the goose is cooked, allow it to rest for 20–30 minutes. This will
allow the meat to firm up and will help retain the juiciness of the
bird. Remove all of the drippings from the roasting pan, strain, and
remove the fat. Add these defatted drippings to the giblet broth and
season to taste. To thicken the gravy, combine 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch
with 3 Tbsp. of water and add to the gravy. Bring to a boil and simmer
for 1–2 minutes or until thickened.

Little Town of Bethlehem

Phillips Brooks

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all

While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of
wondering love.

O morning stars together, proclaim the holy

And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men
on earth!

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is

So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His

No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of

Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear
Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy pray to the
blessed Child,

Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the
mother mild;

Where charity stands watching and faith holds
wide the door,

The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and
Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray;

Cast out our sin, and enter in, be
born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels the great
glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us, our Lord

Historical Note:

Christmas Eve, 1865, Phillips Brooks was in Jerusalem, a trip intended
to inspire spiritual rebirth after the horrors of the Civil War. Just
a few months earlier, he had spoken at the funeral of President
Abraham Lincoln. That clear night as he walked the streets of the Holy
City, he had a sudden inspiration. Renting a horse, he set out for
Bethlehem. After a solitary journey under the clear night sky, Brooks
reached the tiny, remote village and was surrounded by the spirit of
the first Christmas. His impoverished soul was refreshed as he
considered what had happened there so many years before. Three years
later on Christmas Eve, 1868, as he sat alone in his study preparing
his sermon for the next day, he felt inspired to pen the words to this
beautiful carol.

I, the Lord

will send my messenger

to prepare
the way for me.

Then suddenly the Lord

you are
looking for

will appear in his temple.

messenger you desire

is coming with my promise,

and he is on his way.

(Malachi 3:1, cev)

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