Xmas Heroes – Christmas Truce

Xmas Heroes – Christmas Truce

On June 28th of 1914, a Bosnian Serb nationalist assassinated the presumptive heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Due to a mad web of international treaties and cultural obligations, this began a horrendous conflict that lasted four years. The war ultimately cost the lives of 11 million combatants, 7 million civilian victims, 20 million wounded and countless families broken by the deaths and property destruction. Entire towns were wiped off the map. Ancient sites were demolished. Empires fell and countries ceased to exist.

The Christmas Truce in No Man's Land, 1914In the midst of all this, on Christmas Eve of 1914, peace broke out. Men who had been shooting at each other for months spent an unexpected night of friendship and camaraderie that began with a bit of Christmas spirit.

Trench warfare was a soul-sucking drudgery. Men on each side had dug a rabbit’s warren of trenches through which they could travel safely back and forth along the lines. Small makeshift barracks were dug among the lines as well as supply closets and ammunition depots. On top of the trenches, machine gun emplacements provided cover fire to keep the other men down in their tunnels. It was dreary and uncomfortable. After a summer of rapid exchanges back and forth across battle lines, the trenches created a sort of dreadful permanence to the battlefield that would persist for years to come.

On that particular night, it was time for the combatants to celebrate the season in their own ways. For the Germans, they chose to sing the song written less than a century before by Father Mohr and Franz Gruber. Stille Nacht rose over the parapets to reach the ears of their British adversaries. Before long, the Brits joined in with their own Silent Night.

http://christmasallthetime.com/xmas-heroes-franz-xaver-gruber/The song led to a conversation. The conversation led to men meeting in No Man’s Land, the wasted and bomb-scarred area between the trench lines. This was an area that was usually a guaranteed death sentence to any who entered it, but on Christmas Eve it became a gift exchange and even an impromptu football game. Unlike both World Wars, the Germans actually won.

Sadly, the truce was not observed everywhere along the lines. In many places, fighting continued. Afterwards, reactions were generally disapproving.

The French felt betrayed by the British who had participated. Being friendly with the army who had invaded their land and caused so much damage and death was considered to be a slap in the face.

Winston Churchill and Kaiser Wilhelm II-(1906)General staff was certainly concerned that this sort of fraternization could lead to open mutiny and collapse of order. Rather than viewing it as a grass-roots rejection of the validity of the war, it was seen as disciplinary matter. Threats of court martial and renewed propaganda to demonize the enemy changed the nature of warfare afterwards. The remainder of the war was a cold, dehumanizing slog to an ultimately pointless finish on the 11th of November in 1918. Millions dead and empires shattered. All of this could have been prevented in the summer of 1914 or staunched at Christmastime of 1914. Instead, they brutally stamped out the Christmas spirit and ordered the shooting to begin again.

Trivia Day and Spaghetti Day

Trivia Day and Spaghetti Day

Christmastime is quickly slipping away and we’ve only got a little bit of the magic left to share. So, why not sit the family down around a bowl of spaghetti and play some trivia games?

Spaghetti Day

Spaghetti Day Spaghetti is a wonderful comfort food for the chillier times of the year. You can enjoy the usual tomato sauce, alfredo sauce or garlic butter depending on your mood. You can also add proteins such as meatballs, shrimp, sausage or langostinos to fortify the dish. If you’re into vegetables, you can use a light broth and make a wonderful pasta primavera.

There are unresolved issues about the origin of spaghetti. Some say that it was created in Ancient Greece and others hold that Marco Polo brought it back from the East after dining on it at the court of Kublai Khan. Whatever the truth is, we’re glad we have this versatile dish to keep us warm and nourished.

Trivia Day

Is there anything more enjoyable for a family to enjoy than an evening playing a trivia game? From the classic Trivial Pursuit and all of its specialty variations (we really enjoy Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit) to the latest craze in trivia games, trivia games test your memory and teach you things you might not have known before.

If you want to tackle the latest trivia games, I’ve located 119 amazing facts that could help you in your next trivia challenge.

Click on this game to get your copy

Click on this game to get your copy

Click on this game to get your copy

It’s the Eleventh Day of Christmas and not a moment too soon. Who doesn’t love a band of pipers?

Eleven Pipers Piping

Make A Gift Day

Make A Gift Day

It’s December 3rd, so you still have enough time to make some personalized gifts. In fact, prior to the turn of the 20th Century, most gifts were personally made rather than store bought. Christmas wasn’t the big commercial event that it has become.

Harken back to the olden days and make gifts for your friends and loved ones. I’ve tracked down over 250 ideas for gifts that you can make yourself.

Some of my favorite homemade gifts are the cookie kits in a mason jar. It’s fun because you make it look like sand art and it’s practical because they can just dump out the contents and bake themselves a bit of holiday fun courtesy of you!

The absolutely best thing about making personal gifts for your loved ones is that you’re genuinely giving them a bit of yourself. Even if you’re not the handiest or craftiest person, the fact that you’ve taken the effort to make something special will make the gift that much more treasured. To this day, I still remember the presents that my Nana made for us all. When you make a gift yourself, you’re making memories that will last a lifetime.

Fritters & Mutts

Fritters & Mutts

Today we’re going to fill your belly and your heart. December 2nd is National Fritter Day and it is National Mutt Day.

National Fritter Day

To celebrate today as National Fritter Day, we’re going to hook you up with breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Fritters are any sort of cake or pastry with fruit or meat inside and are a classic comfort food in many regions of the country.

Breakfast: Cheesy Bacon Fritters

This image courtesy of cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com

This image courtesy of cinnamon spice and everything nice.com

I just love the smell of bacon in the morning! My mouth is watering just thinking about these bad boys.

If you like the extra zing, the recipe includes a ration of jalapeños. Click through to get yours sizzling.

Lunch: Easy Zucchini Fritters

This is going to make a really tasty lunch for you today. I love zucchini in casseroles, stir fry, as a side or even in cookies! Click here to see how to have these for lunch.

This image courtesy of laurenslatest.com

This image courtesy of laurens latest.com

Dinner: Indonesian Corn Shrimp Fritters

Bakwan (seafood cake with whole shrimp).jpg

This image courtesy of Garrett Ziegler. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Also known as Bakwan Udang, this savory shrimp dish brings an exotic set of spices to your holiday table.

Click here to learn the secrets of this Eastern dish.

Dessert: Easy Glazed Apple Fritters

Is there anything as tasty as an apple fritter with a generous layer of glaze?

Click here to find out how to make this tasty treat for dessert tonight.

This image courtesy of cinnamon spice and everything nice.com


National Mutt Day

We were watching the highlights of the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day and it’s neat to see all the exotic breeds, but not everyone has the cash for a purebred or the medical problems that are inherent in some of the breeds. A lot of people just want a furry friend who is going to live a long healthy life without the cost and drama of a pedigree. If you have room in your home and your heart for a fuzzy family member, today is specially designated for the rest of the canine community.

How to Maintain Weight During the Christmas Season

How to Maintain Weight During the Christmas Season

Eating Heartily but Mindfully During the Christmas Season

During the Christmas season, bikinis are a distant memory and warm, baggy clothes are in.  Sweaters, long johns, scarves and boots reshape what goes for shapely. Indulgence in the many foods featured at Christmas isn’t as likely to produce the same feelings of guilt. All the same, its not a great thing to start the New Year carrying a few extra pounds. So why then eat yourself into yet another resolution to take off a few extra pounds if you can deftly avoid it?

Whether it’s sharing holiday treats at work or having an evening out at a dinner party, you can have your favorite Christmas food and enjoy it.  While you seem to be chowing down heartily with a smile, the key strategy is to exercise moderation. It involves sticking to a budgeted eating plan.  A budgeted eating plan is not about the cost of what is eaten, but about the quantity of what is eaten.  This is not unlike the Weight Watcher’s point system. It is important that a moderated eating budget is developed because it is almost impossible to avoid exposure to a lot of cookies, candies and other sweets at Christmas.

At work, you may seem like Ebeneezer Scrooge if your response will always be, ‘Bah, Humbug’ whenever some Christmas goodies are offered. It will seem as if you aren’t in the holiday spirit; particularly since  everyone is usually in a festive and more relaxed mood, and the pace at work is usually slower at this time of year.

A clever way to partake in Christmas goodies, for example, is to substitute some Christmas cookies for a bagel that you might have with breakfast or for a mid-morning snack. Also, instead of just taking one cookie from the platter (which is noticeable and likely will encourage a colleague to tell you to have more) take three instead. That’s where the plan can come into play. You can then nibble at the cookies over two or more hours, because nobody will be watching how you really eat. You can always have a few candies, one cookie or a cookie and a half by your desk and that way it will seem as if you are heartily enjoying the holiday treats.

However, the proximity to such tasty treats can lead to temptation.  Should you indulge, you will need to find a way to burn off the extra holiday calories.  If weather permits, taking a walk at lunchtime can help to burn those calories and excuse you from some of the jolly peer pressure to further indulge.  If the weather is not conducive to taking a walk and you work in a building with stairs, put on your ear buds and rock some Christmas music while you get a quick cardio workout.  I would recommend at least one song for every extra cookie.  If you need to run a whole album on the steps, you should probably forego the idea of nursing treats at your desk as a stealth, health technique.

Another tactic is to bring low calorie Christmas cookies and candies that you’ve bought or made yourself to counteract others that are being offered at work or parties. Since eating healthy is the best approach, health-conscious cookies will not be frowned upon as long as they taste great.  My wife has a recipe for zucchini cookies that are always a hit with visitors. For instance, a box of sugar-free Christmas chocolate candies will look just as delightful as their more fattening counterparts.  Here is an interesting resource with some Guilt Free Chocolate Recipes that you might be interested in at Christmastime or any time you need a chocolaty treat without all of the calories. It’s no surprise that in a 2004 poll sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, chocolate was the favorite edible holiday gift among Americans surveyed. Sadly, fruit cake was last on the list.  Frankly, I love fruit cake but my wife would simply say that you are what you eat. According to the Association, the second favorite holiday food gift was a fruit basket and a plate of cookies took third place.

For an occasion such as a Christmas party or a dinner, particularly the family Christmas Dinner, where larger quantities and selections of food are available, the budgeted eating plan will be a means to control serving portions and to select the healthier choices of food. At an event where more desserts and sweets are likely to be on hand, a few of the options can be sampled and eaten slowly to present an apparently full plate as you mingle. If you cannot resist the urge to try everything, then stack your plate with one of each and don’t go back for seconds unless you can pass off an item or two. The same is basically true of Christmas Dinner. The main difference is that the food served during Christmas Dinner will be heavier. Select your portions wisely and you can enjoy all of the flavors of Christmas without winding up with Santa’s belly.  If you stick to your budget at a sumptuous Holiday Dinner, your stomach will be full from the wonderful food and your soul will be full of joy from sharing another memorable holiday with family, friends and loved ones.

Snowflake Oldies Dance

Adults 21+ are invited to St. Jerome’s

Snowflake Oldies Dance

Saturday, December 8, 2012
8:00 PM ~ 11:00 PM
St. Jerome Regional School Auditorium
250 W. Broad Street, Tamaqua, PA

Dancing DJ – Ed Zelonis
60’s, 70’s, 80’s and by request
(non-alcoholic event)

Dress to Impress

Tickets: $10.00/person in advance
$12.00/person at the door

Tickets available after weekend Masses
Weekdays at the Rectory Office, 9:00 – 4:00 PM
or by contacting The Office of Adult Formation:
570-624-9181 or adultformation@hotmail.com

Dress to impress

We’re going to have a blast!

Snowflake Oldies Dance

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