Finding ways to honor losses at the holidays

angel of grief
Angel of Grief monument in the Hill family plot, Glenwood Cemetery in Houston. Photo by Michael Schaffner.

by Ann G.

The winter holidays are a time of cheer and cozy family times—for many of us, but not all.   More than we realize, many people feel past losses more acutely at this time of year, and even changes from the usual rituals can bring sadness.   Beyond knowing that a bittersweet feeling at holiday times (and anniversaries) is normal, there are resources to turn to for help, and for ideas that will help us cope. Continue reading “Finding ways to honor losses at the holidays”

Movie Mondays: Holiday Edition from “The Spoiler”

By now, most everyone knows of both a traditional approach and perhaps a more cynical view of the holidays. Here are a few alternatives to the usual classics that may still brighten your days and lift your spirits, if you are so inclined.

The Capra classic It’s a Wonderful Life emphasizes the power of redemption and celebration in troubled times. Jacques Demy’s through-composed musical from the 60s, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg veers away from a traditional musical in a number of ways, yet still retains beautiful colors, composition, plaintive melodies and plenty of romance. Why is this a holiday pick? The snow falls at the end…and if there’s a dry eye by the last note, you’re truly a Grinch.   Continue reading “Movie Mondays: Holiday Edition from “The Spoiler””

Romantic Wednesdays: Holiday Romances

It’s that time again. What time is that, I hear you asking? In this early December, when the spirit of holiday shopping is everywhere, it’s the perfect time to celebrate the season with the gift of a perfect Holiday Romance.

Here are just a few to start off the season, but there will be more. Let’s celebrate the season with a whole lot of love.

christmas he loved her by juliana stoneThe Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone is a Christmas love story that definitely pulls at the heartstrings. It’s a small town romance, and a second chance at love story wrapped up with a bright shiny Christmas ribbon. There’s also more than a bit of a “forbidden romance” thrown in to make it extra spicy. But because it’s the Christmas season, there’s going to be a happy ever after once the sadness is done.

  Continue reading “Romantic Wednesdays: Holiday Romances”

Science Fiction Fridays: Alternate holidays

I am a proud Grinch. I don’t enjoy anything about the holidays; not the lights, not the food, not the music and definitely not the cold weather. However, one thing I do love is a heartwarming science fiction tale, and it seems like even the most dour author can turn out a warm and fuzzy when it arrives around this time of year. So while I only enjoy the holidays because it means new stories from some of my favorite authors, you may find these suggestions will only add another bit of cheer to your celebrations.  Here are some science fiction choices that will make your Christmas out of this world! Sorry about the awful pun. Continue reading “Science Fiction Fridays: Alternate holidays”

Gingerbread is in the air …

It’s getting cold out there, and the month of December brings out the wonderful aroma of baked goods everywhere. As I am planning a gingerbread-themed birthday party for my daughter, I started to wonder about the origin of the gingerbread man.

The gingerbread man may have made his first appearance at the court of Queen Elizabeth I. The Queen apparently “favored important visitors … with charming gingerbread likenesses of themselves,” according to an article by Karen S. Edwards and Sharon Antle in the December 1988 issue of Americana. Here’s a bit more from the article:

“After the Grimm Brothers’ tale of Hansel and Gretel described a house ‘made of bread,’ with a roof of cake and windows of barley, German bakeries began offering elaborate gingerbread houses with icing snow on the roofs, along with edible gingerbread Christmas cards and finely detailed molded cookies. Tinsmiths fashioned cookie cutters into all imaginable forms, and every woman wanted one shape that was different from anybody else’s … Most of the cookies that hung on nineteenth-century Christmas trees were at least half an inch thick and cut into animal shapes or gingerbread men…”

Many of us have grown up with the fairy tale story of the Gingerbread Boy, but you may not be aware that this story has been adapted into different cultures or retold with a twist. Here are a few:

The Runaway Rice Cake by Ying Chang Compestine.  A family in China only has enough rice flour to make one Chinese New Year rice cake; it ran through the village with the boys chasing after it and was only stopped when it bumped into an old woman. The boys shared the rice cake with the hungry old woman leaving not much for their own celebration; however, Continue reading “Gingerbread is in the air …”