Friday, November 21, 2014

Holidays, Grief, and The Boar's Head

For more Seven Quick Takes head over to This Aint The Lyceum for the link up.

1.  This is the first holiday season without both my parents.  My fiance moved to the area last year at this time to help me take care of Mom as he realized it was getting too much for me to do myself, and he knew he wanted to move to this area before long anyway.  My family pretty much shattered thanks to someone who spread a number of lies about me.  Because of my fiance's work, he can't get away to spend time with his family, so it's just the two of us.  By this time next year we'll be married and we're starting to discuss new traditions.

2.  We have decided the tree will go up the first Sunday of Advent.  In future years, I'm hoping we make our personal gift exchange on St. Nicholas Day and reserve Christmas for celebration with extended family.  Since he is required to work a half shift on Thanksgiving, he offered to take a shift for up to two other people -- would make a 12 hour day for him, but since we aren't going anywhere, there is no reason he can't free up someone else's day and allow them to spend time with family.

3.  Even more than missing my parents at the holidays, I keep thinking how much I'm going to miss them at my wedding.  Mom always told me that she hoped to live long enough to see me married, but she passed away in February.  Our wedding is in May.  Fifteen months.  At least at this point, the thought of not having them at the wedding is overshadowing them missing at the holidays.  I am sure it will hit me at some point, even if it's next year.

4. The house I inherited is sturdy but was also built in the late 1800s. It was renovated in the 1920s, and some things were updated in the 1960s but not much since then.  My fiance and I decided that aside from Tinkertoys for his five year old brother we aren't purchasing any gifts this year.  I've been entering blog giveaways like a mad woman because gift giving was a huge part of Christmas for my family.  So I'm trying to see what I can come up with from blog winnings.  I'm also really focusing a lot of time to my eBay store because, well, there is a wedding and home repairs that need paid for!

5.  Last year I purchased the book The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas so that my fiance and I could start a tradition of a Jesse Tree.  I bought ornaments for us to paint, the whole nine yards.  A year later and the ornaments aren't made.  We'll go ahead and use the devotional again this year, but I'm considering having a craft table at the wedding reception and writing the verse on one side of the ornaments and allowing the children (or adults who want to) to create our Jesse tree ornaments for us.

6.  Just 31 minutes ago, a friend of mine posted a photo of her holding her new daughter.  She and her husband have a heart for special needs orphans, and this is their 4th daughter.  In the next few days they will be united with their 3rd son.  What a wonderful holiday gift.  (This doesn't fit with the theme of my post today, but it makes me want to cry for them, so maybe ending this on a happier note is a good thing.)  These toddlers are close in age and my friend has joked they have been expecting twins.

7.  I doubt I'll be listening to much Christmas music this year.  I do love the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  The haunting longing tune is why I love it.  My least favorite carol?  The Boar's Head!  And generously leave you with that this week!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Saving Christmas Review and Giveaway (ends 11/20/14)

Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas premiers on November 14th in select theaters.

I had the rare opportunity to be able to preview it before it hit theaters.

About the movie:
This Christmas, have your family join with Kirk Cameron’s family and dive headfirst into all the joy, dancing, celebration, feasting, imagination, and traditions that glorify the true “reason for the season.” KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS is an engaging story that provides a biblical basis for our time-honored traditions and celebrations, and the inspiration to stand strongly against a culture that wants to trivialize and eliminate the faith elements of this holy season. So take in the splendor; take in the majesty; take in the story. Take it all in… and let’s put Christ back in ChristmasKIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS is in theaters for a limited engagement beginning November 14 for two weeks only!

And second, I will be hosting a giveaway where one of the readers of The Radar Report will win a Saving Christmas swag bag.  This will include a SIGNED Kirk Cameron Saving Christmas poster, a car air freshener that is shaped like a Christmas ornament and smells like a pine tree, plus a CD of Christmas songs.


My opinion of the movie:

There was nothing that was new to me in this movie.  My fiance, though, said it presented a very different view on the symbols of Christmas than he has ever been taught.  I did enjoy this movie, and I honestly cheered as Santa Claus was described as to how he fits into Christmas traditions.  If you didn't know, the real Santa was St. Nicholas.  I only learned last year what a defender of the faith he was.  At the council of Nicaea in 325, there was a man named Arius who was spreading heresy.  And St. Nicholas was so upset he punched him right in the kisser! (And who says church history is boring -- yet this was something I didn't learn in my history of Christianity class in high school!)  Saint Nicholas is one of my heroes of the faith.  I know I don't have the courage to speak up when I hear false teachings.  (Although it's probably a good thing that I don't defend my faith with my fists, but I still admire him!)

Even though there was nothing new to me (but I am also much more versed in the Bible and Christian history than the average person.) I still very much appreciated and enjoyed this movie. Swaddling clothes.  I remember asking about them when I was in my first Christmas pageant at Church.   "Just something they used back then"  (Yes, but what else is it used for?)  What are frankincense and myrrh?  As a child, I thought they were pretty lame gifts for a Baby.  But as I have learned more, I understand why they were given.

In 2006, I had the privilege of visiting Israel.  One day of the trip, we began in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity.  I was able to kneel at the spot where it is traditionally thought Jesus was born.  That afternoon, in Jerusalem, I walked the streets of Jerusalem where some Christians walk each Friday to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher  to commemorate the death of Christ.  I visited Christ's traditional burial spot, and where some Christians believe He was buried in the same day.  Christmas points towards Easter.

The movie was an interesting concept.  It begins and ends at a Christmas party, while the bulk of the movie is two men sitting in a vehicle, and as Christmas traditions are explained, the movie goes to that tradition.

There was only one part of the movie I didn't enjoy -- the hip hop dance at the end.  I felt it went on too long, and that it didn't really add to the movie -- I think any number of endings would have been just as good if not better.   I am not having dancing at my wedding reception, and yes, I've caught some flak about that.  I grew up in a church that taught dancing was wrong.  I don't agree with that by this point, but also I'm not a big fan of dancing -- even hip hop.  I was glad when that segment was over.

Overall this was a great movie, one that I enjoyed.   I would recommend it to any Christian to help them know about the meanings behind some of the symbols and traditions of Christmas.  It will be in theaters on November 14 and will only run for two weeks, so if you want to see this movie, don't wait.

Also, be sure and visit the site for more information and to download images you can use on Facebook like this one:

Also, you can watch the movie trailer right here:

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

And now for the giveaway:

One winner will be chosen from my blog to receive a prize pack of a Kirk Cameron signed movie poster, a Christmas CD, and a car air freshener that smells like a tree.  U.S. and Canada only.   Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Shop like a Pro on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

It's that time of year again to don your Santa hat or your elf suit and start buying gifts.  Can you believe next month it's Christmas?  I know I can't.  My gift closet is unusually sparse this year.  One year I started Christmas shopping BEFORE Christmas the year before.  That's how I have often been, but this year has had so many things going on that I haven't been able to stock the gift closet like I usually do.  So that means buying more like an "average" person.  I'll obviously be watching sales and shopping bargains, but this is certainly not like the year I had my Christmas shopping done before spring thaw!