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Perogies and the 12th Day of Christmas

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS – DAY 12: January 6th

What is the 6th of January?

a.  Ukrainian Christmas Eve

b. Epiphany

c. the 12th day of Christmas

d. the perfect opportunity to pig out on perogies and cabbage rolls

Answer: ALL OF THE ABOVE!

January 6th is the proverbial 12th day of Christmas, and it is also the FIRST day – Christmas Eve – of Ukrainian Christmas.  (If I was really orthodox about it, I could start all over with yet ANOTHER 12 days of Christmas if I wanted to. But I won’t. I think I’m finally Christmassed out.)

Why do I care? Mostly because I LOVE perogies and Ukrainian Christmas is the perfect opportunity to indulge in my favorite childhood Ukrainian food. Both of my paternal grandparents emigrated to Canada from the Ukraine. They were both culturally and linguistically German but part of the lingering Ukrainian legacy in our family was – you got it – perogies!  And cabbage rolls!

Growing up in Winnipeg, Canada, where there is a large Ukrainian population, a number of my childhood friends celebrated Ukrainian Christmas. I was always a little jealous that we didn’t, because they always got two rounds of gifts! (Either that or their parents got great deals on buying presents because they could wait and shop the AFTER Christmas sales!)

Nonetheless, we enjoyed the perogies and cabbage rolls.

So guess what we had for dinner tonight at our house? Yep. Perogies. (They taste a lot better than they look.)  But maybe that’s just because I grew up on them.  I’ve linked the recipes if you want to try to make them from scratch. They’re kind of a lot of work, though. So I just stock up in bulk at Costco every time I go to Canada. 🙂

Do you have any favorite foods that connect you to your family history? What are they?  Do share!

The Great Send-off

(even if they won’t arrive by Christmas)

“If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.”   ~George MacDonald

I can count on one hand, if that, the number of years I have actually mailed Christmas cards IN TIME for them to be received by Christmas.

But timing is hardly the point.

One my MOST FAVORITE things about Christmas is the cards and letters that keep us connected with people whose lives and paths have crossed ours through the years.  Of course, these days with Facebook and all, some might argue that we don’t need Christmas cards anymore … we can chatter with far-flung friends 24/7. But you can’t hang a Facebook post on your bulletin board, your refrigerator, the garland on your stair bannister, or your kitchen window (my newest way to display photos of dear friends; thank you Lisa G. for the idea!). Facebook posts flash across your screen, seen once then (pretty  much) lost forever in cyberspace.

You can send a generic Facebook post in thirty seconds on your phone while waiting in line at a fast food joint. Sending a Christmas card, on the other hand, says …

… you mean enough to me that I stopped my busy life for a few minutes to put something in writing (how old-fashioned!).

… I care enough to spend time, money, and thought to send you a personal message and something tangible to let you know you’re being remembered and thought of warmly.

… I am grateful for the deposit you made in my life at some point, many years ago or maybe just last week.

… Christmas is special and so are you!

So that’s what I’m doing this evening … putting on a movie, munching on Doug’s spicy rendition of Mom’s Nuts ‘n Bolts recipe, and addressing envelopes … maybe with you in mind!

“I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers…” Philemon 1:4

Letting Go

There’s something that often strikes me when I hear remarkable stories about people who overcome tragic abuses, losses, and injustices and go on to live lives full of joyful and dynamic impact. How do they DO that, I wonder?

It’s a sharp contrast to others I encounter who DON’T have that same peace and joy and freedom—who live life scarred and beaten down, bitter, and full of self-pity.  What makes the difference?

I think it’s the freedom of forgiveness.

I put a little post on my FB page the other day about unforgiveness vs. forgiveness and—oh my goodness!—it was my most commented post ever!  I think it’s because the tension between the two is so common to the human experience.

The desire NOT to forgive, to hang on to offenses, is a temptation for all of us.  So why don’t we ‘fess up, admit it, and talk about it more?

Jesus did.  He said we’re supposed to forgive those who hurt and offend us even up to “seventy times seven.” That’s a pretty radical suggestion! It’s way beyond our humanness sometimes.

That’s why I think much of the work necessary to truly forgive happens first through prayer. Prayer is a way I can interact personally with the Father’s heart—a heart that is full of infinite forgiveness and unconditional mercy and love (unlike my own).

That’s not religion.  That’s relationship. When I connect with Him, by faith and through prayer, those qualities can become mine. He gives me the desire and power to forgive, and the strength I need to do so. That’s the only way I can fulfill Jesus’ radical commandment to forgive seventy times seven.

I’m speaking from experience here, not just theory. I’ve had to forgive hurts and injustices just like anyone else. Big ones and little ones.  It’s a day-to-day exercise, isn’t it?

One of the biggest forgiveness tests for me came once when I had to go back into the very environment where I had been been wounded and subjected to a significant injustice.  Could I do it? It was hard to think of coming face to face with my offenders. But having forgiven them first in my heart, through prayer and in concert with my Father’s heart, I was ready to do it with my actions.

It was one of the most healing things I’ve ever done.

When we forgive, WE’RE the ones who are set free. It’s not so much about letting the other person “off the hook.” WE are the ones released from the prison of unforgiveness.  That was certainly my experience! And I hope it’s yours, too.

 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Colossians 3:13

 

Is there a person, an offense, or an injustice you want to forgive, but are having trouble with it?

Can I suggest doing it WITH GOD FIRST, in your heart, through prayer?

THEN put it into practice with your thoughts, words, and actions.

Was it any easier?

I’d love to hear your forgiveness stories!

 

 

Fruit of My Labor

Self-sufficiency in any degree feels good, don’t you agree? … and besides, the green beans and tomatoes from my own garden just plain taste better. I love the feeling of knowing I grew something or made something myself…  whether it’s a flower, a green bean, a quilt, or, for that matter, even a book!

Right now, late September,  is the season when, in years past, I would have been quite happily canning pears and peaches and filling up my panty and garage shelves with lovely jars of nummy fruit for the winter months.

Alas, not the case this year (or last year, for that matter).  Sigh.  A season for everything.  And this particular season (of my life), my harvest is more books than produce.  Not quite as nummy.  But equally satisfying, I suppose–in an odd way–when I see said books all stacked up and know they are a “fruit” of my labors. In a way, they feed other people. As my 14-year old says, “Books are candy for the soul.” (The librarian overheard her saying that and posted it on the wall of the school library.)

So I guess that’s my contentment advice for the day: Every season has its own harvest.  Can’t moan that this season is different or worse than another.  Just different fruit.

My blog slogan is “Who Says You Can’t Have It All?”  I still stand on that principle.  I just don’t try to do it all in one day (anymore). Or in one season.  🙂

What is the “fruit” of YOUR  labor in this season? I would love to hear what you’re doing that may be different than what you’ve done in other seasons of your life!

How to Talk to (Little) Girls

A friend sent me a link to a to great article recently, about how to talk to little girls. I was SHOCKED when I read it to realize just how GUILTY I am (and have unconsciously been with my own girls) at paying way too much attention to what they look like.

Teaching girls to value who they are rather they what they look like needs to start when they’re young–but it’s a life long exercise. And, in view of the constant barrage of cultural immodesty, it’s a challenging one. Trust me, I’m the mom of three daughters, I know!

Michael Hyatt recently posted a blog about how he has tried to instill modesty in his five daughters, What Ever Happened to Modesty?  Great advice. We don’t hear that word much these days, do we?  It’s pretty much counter cultural.

What I thought particularly cool about the talking-to-little-girls article was that it came the DAD of a three-year old girl.  Wow, if Allie at three has a dad who is already so ON IT, she is blessed indeed (way to go, Will).

What are your ideas for raising young women who have a clear sense of (and confidence in) who they ARE–rather than depending on what they LOOK LIKE for their sense of value?

Would love to hear your thoughts …