12 Things You Don’t Want To Hear About Christmastime

12 Things You Don’t Want To Hear About Christmastime

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… some safety ideas to drum into your head about keeping Christmas safe and fun. Christmastime is a joy to behold, but can literally be the death of you as you’ll see below.

1 – Toppling Trees

It’s important to make sure that your tree is properly supported. Nobody wants a tree to crash down on their heads or their train sets or even into the fireplace. This is all the more important if you have cats who are inclined to climb the tree and bat at the ornaments. It’s one thing to ensure that you have a broad base to ensure the tree stands upright at all times, but you will probably also want to anchor the tree at various points up the height of the tree if critters are likely to climb up. Securing the tree to the spindles of a staircase near the top could help to keep it from falling.

If you have a natural tree, you’ve cut the thing away from its root structure. Traditionally, the base for real trees involve screws that burrow into the trunk and long feet standing off in three directions. Actually, a disk-like or inverted funnel type of base would be more stable. Keeping a real tree properly watered is also crucial to keep it from drying out and becoming a fire hazard. Tree fires figure annually in about 240 of all house fires with an average of 13 deaths and 27 serious injuries. Carelessness with Christmas trees accounts for up to $16,700,00 in property damage each year.

2 – Firey Wires

As we mentioned above, a dried-out real tree that is heavily decked with electric lights can become a towering inferno. The heat of the lights and even in some cases the wires of the lights could be enough to set a dried out tree afire.

Frayed wires on lights that you are either too nostalgic or too cheap to get rid of from one year to the next can cause a fire whether your tree is natural or artificial. Make sure to inspect your light strands from year to year and buy new ones when you need them.

If you want the same lights your parents and grandparents used since before you were born, there are more modern versions that look like the retro-style lights but will keep you safe and save you energy because they are LED lights.

Another common hazard of electrical lights is the desire to have too many plugged into one socket. Having a massive daisy chain of lights plugged in back to back in a single socket is an all-too-common site during the holidays. This can overload a socket and risk starting a fire within the walls of the house. These are particularly dangerous because you don’t realize your house is on fire until it is way too late and they’re harder to put out because the fire department has to break through your walls to put it out.

3 – Hazardous Hanging

Some people like to put decorations all over the house, inside and out. The important thing is to ensure that you have safe footing wherever you choose to hang your lights, garland or ornaments. Be certain that you have a ladder that is at least as high as you need to reach and that you have someone holding the ladder firmly at the bottom.

Inside, the typical ladder is a folding step ladder that forms an a-frame. People will also often use staircases and balconies as places to try to extend themselves to less accessible places. Unless you’re a professional gymnast or mountain climber, you’re probably not going to do very well hanging over a banister to try to hang decorations. People trying to hang decorations will tend to focus on the process of mounting the ornaments and disregard the awkward position they’ve extended themselves into.

Outside, a leaning ladder is more usual. Making sure that this type of ladder is firmly planted is key. Most modern aluminum ladders have grippy feet at the bottom, but these are of dubious use if there is snow or ice on the ground where you’re planting the ladder. Likewise, if you climb onto the roof, you need to be extra careful not to hit a slippery patch. The steeper the pitch of the roof, the more hazardous it is to walk around on.

4 – Pretty Poison

Some of our natural decor can have a rather bad effect on people and animals. At the top of the list is mistletoe. Every single part of the plant is disastrously toxic to people and pets. You may certainly keep on kissing under the mistletoe, but make sure none of the berries drops off into your mouth!

Another dreadfully toxic decoration is holly berries. It would take only 20 berries to kill a child. Keep it up high and away from toddlers who are inclined to put things in their mouths.

Poinsettias have a reputation for being poisonous to cats and dogs. This is only partially true. The taste of the leaves is so bitter that any animal is not likely to eat enough to have a lethal dose. For those who munch first and regret it later, eating poinsettia leaves is likely to induce drooling,  vomiting and diarrhea.

It’s been found that up to 80% of Christmas lights contain lead. Of those, up to 28% contain lead in quantities that would prohibit their sale in Europe. Lead poisoning can impact your stomach and kidneys and lead to impairment of your brain and nervous system.

Like most aerosols, spray snow is quite toxic if you inhale the fumes while you’re spraying a jolly snowman onto your window. If you’re going to be using spray snow, be sure to keep a ventilator mask on to prevent ingestion of such chemicals as methylene chloride and acetone. This is also still an issue while the snow is drying on the surface you’ve sprayed it on. Keep the kids away until the snow is dry to prevent inhalation of these carcinogenic compounds.

5 – Friendly Fire

What’s Christmas without candles, a Yule log or a blazing fire in the hearth? A good bit safer, to be sure. The days most commonly associated with house fires started by candles are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. All the more so since the original form of Christmas lights on your tree was to have candles on the branches. Can you even imagine?

We’ve already seen some of the adverse effects of letting your real tree dry out, but even a properly watered tree can catch fire due to frayed wires, sparks from the fireplace, kids playing with matches or any number of sources.

Fireplaces pose a variety of hazards. Keeping the chimney swept is important as is keeping a spark screen in front of the fireplace. Collected soot in the chimney can start an uncontrolled fire as can animal or bird nests that may have been built there in warmer months.

Yule logs were great in viking long houses in the Dark Ages, but not so much today. Modern homes lack the dirt floors and unrelenting Scandinavian winter air that made Yule logs an important holiday tradition. Having an enormous burning log laying across the length of your living room just isn’t something sustainable in modern households. You might want to put one in the backyard, but you still want to make sure that popping sparks from the log don’t set the grass or nearby trees or bushes alight. Wildfires are not festive and you will be charged with arson if you survive the blaze.

6 – Cheerful Choking

Infants, toddlers and pets are all too often tempted by the delightful ornaments we hang for Christmas. Brightly colored doodads and shiny tinsel can quickly wind up in mouths and throats. Cats in particular are inclined toward the consumption of tinsel. The tinsel itself won’t kill them, but when it passes through the string can cause internal damage if you try to pull it out. Cats with tinsel hanging out of their posteriors are a less than festive part of the holiday season.

Another choking hazard during the holidays is all of the wonderful food. It’s a time for generosity and feasting. People tend to chow down during the holidays, setting aside their diets in favor of cookies, pies and sumptuous dinners. The problem is that any number of these dishes can put you in need of the Heimlich Maneuver. Nuts, bones, unchewed morsels of meat, vegetable or baked goods can easily obstruct airways.

Giving bones to pets is an age-old treat, but not necessarily safe. Rawhide bones are a better option since actual bones can break and splinter, causing choking hazards and sharp fragments to puncture internal organs.

7 – Shiny Sharps

As we mentioned above, dogs chewing on actual bones can cause sharp fragments that can injure them internally. Likewise, we have any variety of sharp decorations that can lead to injury. Worst of all, there’s the dreaded icicle of death.

8 – Slippery Slopes

Although we established that skiing, snowboarding, tubing and sledding are awesome ways to stay fit and active during the cold days of Winter, these also combine the unfortunate mixture of an excess of speed and a dearth of friction. This can be a deadly combination. About 42 skiing/snowboarding fatalities are recorded each year while as many as 20,000 kids were injured in sledding accidents in recent years.

This is a risk you’re generally willing to accept when you’re out playing, but if you’re just walking down the street ice and snow can still be quite slippery and dangerous. I actually had this problem walking to work a few years ago. I was walking across the courthouse square on my way to work and then, WOMPA, I was suddenly horizontal. My wingtips might as well have been skis. My head hit the sidewalk and I was seeing in triple for hours afterward. That sucked.

9 – Fattening Foods

A lot of people go off their diets to enjoy the sumptuous treats of the season. That can be a problem if you’ve already got a heart condition, high cholesterol, diabetes or morbid obesity. If you don’t already have one of these problems, you might just push yourself closer to the borderline of any or all of them if you binge during the Christmas season. It takes 3500 calories over what your body naturally burns on a daily basis to add a single pound of fat. The bad news is that the typical Thanksgiving Dinner can rack up as many as 4500 calories. The occasional splurge is not going to have dreadful lasting effects, but the thing about splurging is that it quickly becomes habit-forming. The dopamine buzz you get from happily munching everything in sight will train your brain to keep on munching even when you don’t necessarily even want to. This is definitely a slippery slope.

Another binge item is alcohol. It’s found that 40% of highway deaths during the holidays are due to drunk driving. With all the Christmas parties, family get-togethers and New Year’s Eve celebrations, people find a lot of ways to consume a lot of alcohol and act very irresponsibly. Even with a designated driver to see you safely home, you may still have to deal with the awkwardness that attends facing your coworkers after a night of drunken foolishness at the company holiday event. A coworker of mine drank himself boneless before supper and proceeded to make a complete fool of himself at the company Christmas party quite a few years back. He wasn’t with the company for long after that. You definitely need to know your limit and stick to it. You also need a designated driver, a guest room to crash in or the good sense to wait until the alcohol is out of your system before you head home. Remember to wait at least one hour for each drink you’ve consumed. If you’re going to be expected to leave the party by a certain time, time your cutoff to allow for this safe waiting period or start making arrangements with less besotted buddies.

10 – Family Feuds

One of the biggest problems around the holidays is not burning trees or choking on tinsel, it’s family blowups. As much as we’d all like to have perfect families with perfect lives, people are just people. We rub each other the wrong way.

Old grudges fester from year to year. The person who irked us as a child probably totally steams us as an adult. Even though Jesus is the very embodiment of divine forgiveness, his birthday celebration is typically a chance to reopen old wounds and revisit festering age-old grievances. If you can be the bigger person and begin the process of spreading forgiveness in your family, great. This can be a truly miraculous healing experience for you and your family.

If the hurt is severe and irreparable, you might just want to skip the family get-togethers and get yourself a new family. Friends can be a family to those who can’t go home for whatever reason. Home is where the heart is. If the place you grew up only tears your heart out, you might want to leave the past in the past and move on.

Warning! Harsh Language. Not child-safe!

Warning! Harsh Language. Not child-safe!

11 – Shopping Shenanigans

What’s Christmastime without people being absolutely horrendous to each other while shopping for gifts for other people? Can we possibly get through a Black Friday without people being trampled to death when the doors open? Can we get through the holiday season without people wrestling each other over the last hot selling item at the store? Can we not deliberately smash shopping carts into people’s cars for double-parking? Can we not throw a fit and cuss out the cashier for being so slow?

Apparently not. People wonder why I do most of my Christmas shopping online. Let the UPS guy fight holiday traffic. I’ll sit home and watch Christmas movies and bake cookies.

12 – Ghoulish Ghosts

When worse comes to worst, you might just get haunted! Is there anything more of a downer for the holidays than having a gaggle of ghosts hassling you?

♫ There’ll be scary ghost stories And tales of the glories of the Christmases long, long ago… ♫

Fortunately, none of us are miserly enough to justify being haunted in order to be taught the meaning of Christmas.

Of course, there’s always the mogwai. Just don’t get them wet or feed them after midnight


On this Twelfth Day of Christmas, I wish you a fruitful, happy, healthy and absolutely wonderful New Year. The holidays may be drawing to a close, but here it’s Christmas All The Time. Stop in whenever you like. We’ll have the cocoa hot and the Christmas lights on for you all year long.

Some helpful storage ideas

Some helpful storage ideas

Christmas isn’t over by a long shot, but some people like to pack it up and get on with life shortly after Christmas Day. Here are some ideas you might find helpful.

5 holiday organizing hacks to save

Ornament organization 101

Posted by George Takei Presents on Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fragile Ornament Storage

The video suggested putting them in a plastic cup. Not so sure I agree. If they’re fragile, you don’t want them rattling around a plastic cup like that. Sure, you could give a bit of bubble wrap or some tissue paper to be safe, but that can be cumbersome and the packaging can shift. If you want to be truly safe, think about getting sheets of spongy cushioning. The soft sheets will form around the ornaments and hold them in place.

If you’re storing spherical or nearly spherical ornaments, you might want to consider egg-crate foam sheets. The indentations in the egg crate foam surface create nestling nooks for the ornaments to settle into, but I’d still recommend a flat sheet for the top in order to hold them in place.

If you’re dealing with antique glass ornaments, you might want to consider individual velvet pouches to prevent the paint from being brushed off by friction from the foam sheets. It won’t happen immediately, but damage can occur over successive years.

Wreath Storage

Only do this if you’ve got a wreath made of artificial greens. If you have a fresh wreath, you can get another one next year! That being said, you could very well hang your wreath in an oversized shopping bag in the closet like they show in the video. If you don’t mind dusting the wreath off next year, that’s great.

Let’s consider that there are circular boxes available for the specific purpose of storing wreaths available at most retailers for a modest price. As with your delicate ornaments, you’re going to want to protect your wreath from bouncing around in the box. If your wreath features attachments such as pine cones, plastic fruit or other doo-dads, you’d do well to secure the wreath with a sheet of foam beneath and on top.

Wrapping Storage

The hangers shown in the video are interesting, but that’s going to be hanging on the back of your closet door all year long? Who can spare the space for out of season items? Actually, I’d recommend putting that setup together at the beginning of your holiday shopping so that it’s conveniently available for wrapping gifts as you acquire them.

Another great idea for storing your tubes of wrapping paper during the holiday season is to use an over the door shoe organizer. If you cut the bottoms out of all but the bottom row of shoe compartments, it acts as a sheath for your wrapping paper rolls.

As for storage, you can lay your wrapping tubes side by side in a garment bag. It’s going to keep the dust off and will be long enough to accommodate wrapping paper tubes. You can also flat pack gift bags, rolls of ribbon and bags of bows in with the tubes. You might even choose to use a vacuum seal bag to save space and keep the items fresh and dust-free.

Tangle-Free Light Storage

The most important point of storing lights is to wind them up in such a way that they won’t be tangled when you need them next year. There are a variety of perfectly good options, including the clothes hanger depicted in the video. There are some that look like little plastic ladders, wheels, reels and planchettes that you can safely wind your lights on and unwind them with ease next holiday season.

Lazy Man’s Tree Storage

I guess that’s one way to do it. You could definitely shrink wrap your tree as is and cut it free next holiday season, but what are the chances you’ll cut something you don’t want cut when you go to open it again next year? It may be lazy when you wrap it, but it’s going to be crazy when you go to open it back up.

There are plenty of excellent options. I prefer to put it right back in the box it came from. The artificial tree is structured to come apart, fold up and store away with ease. If your tree’s storage box has become damaged with age, there are a variety of bags and boxes available commercially that you can use as substitutes.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over

I hope you found these tips helpful, but just remember that Christmas isn’t over until Epiphany! It’s only the Fifth Day of Christmas, for pity’s sake. Don’t rush it! Savor the season and enjoy the holidays with your loved ones.

Setting Up Your Shabby Chic Victorian Christmas Village

shabby-chic-victorian-christmas-village

Setting Up Your Shabby Chic Victorian Christmas Village

Christmas villages can be a lot of fun to put together since you will be choosing each and every piece, from the people and shops to the trees and ice skating rinks. You can even turn your village into a shabby chic one that looks like an old-fashioned Victorian village during Christmas.

Just what is Shabby Chic?

It is a style of design where furniture and accents are selected for their apparent age and signs of wear. Also, new items can be distressed to emulate an antique appearance. Shabby Chic is a balance between vintage luxury and casual comfort.

Use Pink, White, and Light Blue on your Houses

shabby-chic-blueMost Christmas villages use old-fashioned model houses and buildings, but they are usually made to look like red brick, wood trim, yellow shutters on the windows, or other colorful accents; but these aren’t the best options for a shabby chic display. For your Christmas village, consider using all white or pastel-colored houses and buildings.

Use Victorian-Style Houses

Shabby chic and Victorian styles are often closely matched, so try to find small cottages for your village with an old Victorian look that adhere to the color scheme. Things like pointed roofs, bay windows, and brick roofs are good options for this particular style. Houses with “gingerbread” trim in the eaves or porch railings echo the comfort element that shabby chic introduces with its ruffles and frills.

Look For People in Old-Fashioned Clothing

The figurines you choose to populate your Christmas village should also represent your desired shabby chic style. Shabby chic attire is vintage in appearance, typically layered and loose fitting. Shabby chic clothing adheres to a pastel or earth tone such as white, lavender, beige, grey, antique rose and powder blue. Fortunately, most figures that are sold with other Christmas village supplies typically have the old-fashioned clothing style you’ll looking for. Keep a close eye on what they are wearing in order to match your shabby chic design. You can always paint the figures to fit the color scheme. For a Christmas village, you’ll want a reasonable mix of young and older adults, elderly, children and babies. Pets are also good to have a thriving community.

Use Lots and Lots of Snow

christmas-village-02Having lots of snow is a given for any type of Christmas village, but all the more so for one designed in shabby chic. Shabby chic uses a lot of white in its decor, so adding extra snow around your village allows it to have a natural shabby chic look. Spread snow on the ground, cover rooftops and trees with it, and sprinkle it around so traces of snow are glistening on the figures and other decorative elements.

Add Your Bristle Brush Trees

Trees are a part of the essential scenery for a Christmas village, but they usually come in dark green. Bristle brush trees are best because even though they mostly come in green, they are quite easy to spray paint other colors. Make your trees shabby chic by spray painting them all in a white or silver color, then staging them all around the village.


With a little effort, you can take generic Christmas village elements and make a shabby chic diorama to complement your personal style.

How to handle a real Christmas tree

Festive Fridays

How to handle a real Christmas tree

Personally, I grew up with artificial trees. I consider them more humane than killing a live tree for decorative purposes, but I recognize that some people love the tradition of going out and cutting your own and I fully support all of the local tree farms that provide an opportunity for people to have natural greens in their houses for the holidays. The following is a guide to finding your perfect tree and some tips for what to do with your greens after the holidays are over.

For those who put so much time and effort into selecting the perfect Christmas tree, due consideration should be given to giving your tree the best possible care. If not, you will surely be disappointed when the needles start to turn brown or yellow, or branches begin to break days or weeks before the season is over. Safety is also an important reason to take proper care of your Christmas tree because a drying Christmas tree also presents a serious danger as a fire hazard. An average Christmas tree should last for about five to six weeks if the proper care is taken.

After selecting your Christmas tree, the first thing that should be done when you get it home is to make a fresh cut and place it into a stand with water. A Christmas tree shouldn’t be mounted dry. The water in its stand should be refreshed regularly. A fresh cut is made by cutting about an inch from the bottom at a slight diagonal to help the tree to absorb water. If a fresh cut isn’t made and the Christmas tree is left exposed to air, the vessels for transporting water can become blocked. This could lead to premature browning and the tree could become a fire hazard due to drying out. Your Christmas tree should be secure in its stand and it should stand away from open flames or sources of heat such as furnaces, fireplaces and air vents, all of which may dry it out.

Decoration of the tree should begin after it has been mounted in its stand. Take sensible precautions when decorating to lessen or avoid your Christmas tree becoming a fire hazard. Ornaments that have an open flame or candles should never be used as decorations.

Christmas tree lights should be checked to make sure the bulbs are working properly, the connections are intact and that no part of the cord is damaged. If there appears to be any exposed wiring or bulbs that are not working or which are working intermittently, that string of Christmas tree lights should not be used.

Select a good Christmas tree stand because water is the most important ingredient to getting the longest life out of your Christmas tree. When selecting a stand, find out how much water it can hold when your tree is placed in it. Some water will be displaced by the base of the tree, so it is important that your decision is not based on the total volume of water the stand can hold.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, an average Christmas tree can absorb as much as a gallon of water every day. Therefore, it’s important to check the water everyday and refill as needed. To make sure your Christmas tree gets enough water, the Association recommends that one quart of water is provided for every inch in diameter of the tree’s trunk.

After Christmas is over and your wonderfully decorated Christmas tree has provided such holiday joy, it is important to remove it before it dries out. Options to discard your Christmas will likely depend on the services offered by your local government. Some municipalities will pick up Christmas trees on specific days. Some towns may require that residents take their trees to a specific location. In others, Christmas trees will be picked up with the trash on certain dates.

Christmas trees should never be burned in your fireplace! It can cause the build up of creosote, a colorless, oily substance that can lead to chimney fires. A much better alternative is to make mulch of the tree by cutting it to pieces yourself.

If you prefer live trees to artificial ones, please keep these important safety tips in mind to ensure a healthy and happy holiday season with the splendid, natural scent of a pine or fir tree.

10 Quick Tips to Save You Time and Money Storing Your Decorations

10 Quick Tips to Save You Time and Money Storing Your Decorations

Okay, maybe inviting the kittens to help isn’t terribly productive but the process of putting Christmas away for the year doesn’t need to be drudgery. Taking a little time and following these ten tips will help you…

luggage

  • A. Save time by getting your Christmas decorations organized so you can find them quickly and easily next holiday season
  • B. Save space by using boxes that can be easily stacked and organized.
  • C. Save money by storing your Christmas lights and decorations in a way that preserves their quality and extends their life span.

10 Quick Tips

1. Use Clear Plastic Boxes – These are great because you can see the contents without having to spend time labeling each box. Plus the plastic helps protect from moisture better than cardboard. When stacking, be sure to place the largest and heaviest boxes on the bottom and smaller boxes on the top.

2. Box your Beads – Pack the beads in small boxes such as plastic shoe boxes. If you use many strands of beads, larger boxes could become too heavy. To keep the beads from becoming tangled, place individual strands in baggies. If you prefer, you can wrap each strand around empty paper towel rolls and tape the ends.

3. Don’t Heap Up the Christmas Lights – Use reels to wind your strands of lights so they don’t get tangled. You can use Santa’s Bags that include stackable reels. Another way to go is to use a kind of wind up like you’d use for a power cord. If you’re sticking with the clear plastic boxes, you can roll individual light strands into a gallon zip-lock bag to prevent them getting tangled.

4. Save Space with Re-Shapeable Decorations – Bows made of wired ribbon can be flattened and reshaped next year. Wired ribbon garlands and streamers can be tightly rolled. They don’t need to be flattened unless you need to conserve space.

5. Don’t Crush Your Wreaths – Wreaths can be stacked in larger boxes but each wreath should be wrapped with bubble wrap. If they aren’t wrapped then they shouldn’t be stacked. Bubble wrap can be purchased where office supplies are sold. Wreath boxes can also be purchased and are readily available on the Internet and in stores.
Twinkling Strand
6. Wrap Christmas Ornaments Properly – Ornaments should be individually wrapped in white tissue paper or where greater protection is needed, wrap in bubble wrap. Since most ornaments are lightweight they can be stored in large boxes. If you still have the original boxes the ornaments came in, then store them in these and then place them in the storage container.

7. Protect Christmas Decorations from Moisture – If you live in a humid climate using plastic containers may not be enough to protect from moisture. Place packets of silica gel in each container to avoid damage from humidity. Silica gel can be purchased at arts and craft stores. If you cannot find individual packets, you can make your own by wrapping several tablespoons of silica gel in white tissue paper and securing with tape. Several packets should be placed throughout the box.

8. Guard Against Temperature Extremes – Delicate decorations such as ornaments made with photos or wax can be temperature sensitive. Store them in a climate-controlled area or they could deteriorate, melt or stick together.

9. Clearly identify Christmas Storage Boxes – Attach a red ribbon or tag to each Christmas storage box. This will make them easy to identify next Christmas if they have been stored with other boxes unrelated to Christmas decorations.

10. De-clutter – Some people have a tendency to just “hang onto stuff” in hopes that they’ll find a use for it later. Don’t waste space by holding onto old ornaments you know you’ll never use again (unless of course it has some sentimental significance). Just toss out the trash.

christmas wreathA final note: You may also want to consider Christmas ornament boxes and wreath boxes for especially fine ornaments and wreaths instead of clear storage containers. They are available in stores and on the Internet. They are very convenient and some are even acid free for even greater protection for your fine collectibles. They are more expensive, but for high quality, valuable ornaments this may be a worthwhile investment.

A little organization today will take some of the stress out of Christmas decorating next yuletide. Happy un-decorating!

Falling Needles Family Fest Day and Bacon Day

Falling Needles Family Fest Day and Bacon Day

Only one day left in the year and we’re looking at cleaning up and having a jolly good treat.

Falling Needles Family Fest Day

Maybe you’re not ready to take down the Christmas tree just yet, but when you do please act responsibly. Falling Needles Family Fest Day is another of the wacky holidays invented by the folks at wellcat.com

I’ve linked some tips for environmentally friendly ways to dispose of a live Christmas tree. If your township does not provide a drop off point or a curbside woodchipper, you might want to consider the tips in the video.

As far as cleaning up the pine needles in your home, remember to empty your vacuum canister or put in a fresh bag. Whatever the vacuum doesn’t get up can be gathered with a lint roller. You can also use nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol or even hand sanitizer to get sap off your hands after you’ve cleaned up after your tree.

Bacon Day

It’s almost shocking that we’ve had to wait this late in the year to celebrate something as delicious and versatile as bacon. Bacon is marvelous for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Some people even indulge in bacon candy or bacon flavored ice cream. That’s a bit beyond my tastes, but there are countless novelties associated with bacon that you can find if you’re a connoisseur. Bacon Day

For your Sixth Day of Christmas, six geese a flying? Well, geese are wild. Just try finding a picture of them laying.
 

Six Geese A Laying

Make Cutout Snowflakes Day and National Fruitcake Day

Make Cutout Snowflakes Day and National Fruitcake Day

Winter’s off to a quick start and we’re going to help things along with some cutout snowflakes. After a fun time crafting our own snowflakes, it’s only fitting to sit down to a piece of rich, delicious fruitcake. Let’s get celebrating!

Make Cutout Snowflakes Day

Some of us get enough of the real things and may even have a yard full of them at this point. Just the same, it’s a fun holiday craft to engage in. Kids love to cut wonderful shapes and watch with wonder as the snowflakes unfold into individual works of art.

So, whether you live someplace where it snows or not, you can have a Winter Wonderland indoors with just a few creative clips.

National Fruitcake Day

I know, I’m one of the few people who actually likes fruitcake. Apparently, I’m not the only one since they’ve designated a national day for it. Wahoo! Makes my day.

First references to fruitcake date back to Roman times. Many would joke that the same fruitcakes have been passed back and forth as gifts since that time, but with proper preservatives and airtight packaging a good fruitcake will only last 25 years.

Two towns have long been battling for the title of Fruitcake Capitol of the World. Corsicana, Texas, is home to the Collin Street Bakery while Claxton, Georgia, is the home to two major fruitcake bakeries: the Claxton Bakery and the Georgia Fruitcake Company. While it hasn’t yet been finally decided, Claxton has claimed the title on their water tower.

Today is the Third Day of Christmas! Here are 3 French Hens
 

Three French Hens

Festivus and National Pfeffernusse Day

Festivus and National Pfeffernusse Day

We’ve got pfeffernusse cookies today to help us celebrate Festivus. Frank Costanza may not have approved of tinsel, but we approve of cookies covered with confectioner’s sugar!

Festivus

A Festivus for the rest of us! This is a silly holiday that was invented by Frank Costanza on the Seinfeld TV show. As it turns out, it was actually invented by the father of Dan O’Keefe who wrote the episode. His experiences were filtered through the lens of the Seinfeld characters and made even more comical.

Aspects of the holiday are the unadorned aluminum pole, the Airing of Grievances and the Feats of Strength. Click the image of the book to learn more about this anti-commercial, non-religious, totally hilarious holiday.

National Pfeffernusse Day

This spicy cookie has roots and variations throughout Northern Europe. German immigrants brought it to America with them as a holiday tradition some time in the 1850s.

Traditional homemade pfeffernusse are a small hard biscuit that you may wish to dip in your tea, coffee or milk. Typically, the store bought cookies are baked to be soft and able to be eaten without dunking.

Pfeffernusse Cookies

Click on the cookies to see the recipe
Image courtesy of Jenn at allrecipes.com

Look for an Evergreen Day and Oatmeal Muffin Day

Look for an Evergreen Day and Oatmeal Muffin Day

Today, we’re on the hunt for the perfect natural tree and we’re going to fortify ourselves for the search with a hearty oatmeal muffin!

Look for an Evergreen Day

The Perfect Tree Many people enjoy the scent of a natural Christmas tree and have made a family tradition of finding just the right one.

The evergreen tree is a symbol of everlasting life. In the midst of stark winter landscapes, the evergreen tree remains a beacon of hope.

The tradition of decorating evergreen trees began in Germany in the 16th Century and became part of English tradition when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert popularized German ways of celebrating the season in the 1840s. The first reports of Christmas trees in America were in the homes of German immigrants in the 1830s.

Oatmeal Muffin Day

Oatmeal is a classic cold weather comfort food. Who doesn’t remember starting the day with a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal topped with brown sugar, honey or fruit? Oatmeal also makes a wonderful batch of cookies. One of my favorite with or without the raisins.

Oatmeal contains calcium, potassium and soluble fiber that provides heart health benefits and can reduce blood pressure. Oatmeal also contains a compound called β-glucan that can help to reduce appetite.

Blueberry Oat Muffins - Click through for the recipe to these wonderful muffins

Click through for the recipe to these wonderful muffins. Image courtesy of elegantemily at allrecipes.com

Poinsettia Day and National Cocoa Day and Gingerbread House Day

Poinsettia Day and National Cocoa Day and Gingerbread House Day

Alright, yesterday was a bit of a disappointment as far as picking from pre-defined holidays goes, but we made the best of it. Today, we’ve got more holidays than we can shake a stick at. What awesome Christmasy holidays they are, too!

Poinsettia Day

littleangel This festive plant was brought to the United States from Mexico by our first ambassador to that country, Joel Roberts Poinsett. He was an avid botanist and Poinsettia Day marks the day that Mr. Poinsett passed on in 1851. With its festive red brachts and the deep green leaves beneath, this plant is a natural choice for holiday decorating.

There is a persistent rumor that a poinsettia is poisonous, but a 50 pound child would have to eat over 500 leaves to see any harm and there’s no way they’d get more than one down since they taste horrible. The plant has a sap that can induce allergic reactions to those who are sensitive to latex. Just the same, you’ll want to keep the pets away from it because the leaves can induce vomiting. That’s not very festive at all.

Poinsettias in their native environment are a perennial shrub that can grow 10 to 15 feet high. The vast majority of poinsettias grown for sale in the United States now come from a ranch in California rather than directly from Mexico. The Paul Ecke Ranch accounts for 70% of domestic sales and 50% of the worldwide market of these beautiful plants.

National Cocoa Day

Cocoa was first consumed by the Mayans. Cacao trees only grow within 20° latitude of the Equator. The Aztecs drank a chocolate beverage called Xocolatl. They felt it increased endurance, fought fatigue and permitted a man to walk a whole day without food. I think that might be stretching things a bit, but I know there are days I’ve had a chocolate-only diet and I’m still here to tell the tale.

The Spanish sat on their discovery for almost a century before exporting it throughout Europe. During that time, they got the idea to start adding sugar, vanilla and other flavors to improve the taste.

The Aztecs valued cocoa beans more than gold and jewels and who can blame them? You can’t eat jewelry. Incidentally, it takes 4 cacao seeds to make an ounce of milk chocolate or 12 seeds to make an ounce of dark chocolate. A cacao seed pod is about the size of a pineapple and holds enough seeds to make seven chocolate bars or two dark chocolate bars. Cocoa now comes primarily from West Africa, where they process every step by hand to ensure quality. If you wonder why fine chocolates are so expensive, it’s the limited supply and the labor intensive processing. Cacao trees can blossom all year round, but the flowers die if they are not pollinated within 24 hours of blooming. There’s a lot that goes into your candy bar or mug of hot chocolate!

Chocolate first came to the United States in 1765 with Irish chocolatier John Hanan. He partnered with Dr. James Baker to refine the beans imported from the West Indies. The business they founded is now the Baker’s Chocolate brand you still see today. I am rather glad they did. I can’t imagine facing the long winter months ahead without a hot, creamy mug of cocoa to look forward to. How about you?

Hot Chocolate

Gingerbread House Day

While gingerbread itself has been around for quite some time in its cake and biscuit form, the gingerbread house gained popularity in the 19th Century after the publication of Hansel and Gretel in Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Since 1991, the city of Bergen in Norway has created a gingerbread city they call Pepperkakebyen. Any child under 12 can build and contribute a gingerbread house to the display. This has spurred cities throughout the US to make their own. The Gingertown projects are constructed by architects in Washington DC, Nashville, Dallas and Atlanta. The finished products are displayed at hospitals and community support service locations throughout their communities. Charitable donations are collected and distributed through the Gingertown collaborations.

The Guinness World Record for largest gingerbread house was most recently broken in 2013. A team from Bryan, Texas, made a 2520 square foot house with edible walls. Jon Lovitch, the executive sous chef of the New York Marriott Marquis hotel just broke the Guinness World Record for largest gingerbread village last month! Just for a giggle, I’m going to mention that in 2011 the Guinness World Record for fastest marathon dressed as a gingerbread man was broken by David Smith of the UK with a marathon time of 3 hours, 42 minutes and 20 seconds.

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