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Monday, November 23, 2015

Nutcracker

Is it just me or do you find a nutcracker creepy?  I am referring to those evil looking wooden soldiers that seem to haunt a perfectly good Christmas as they somehow find their way to being a staple during the Yuletide season. I was told they are meant to look scary, to ward off evil spirits. Those huge teeth and angry eyes .....shudder!! My former Danish neighbours used to display a waist-high nutcracker next to their christmas tree every year and it scared the crap out of my boys when they were little. We could see it from our window.  It looked really creepy at night when the lights were out and you could still see those ginormous white teeth under the blinking christmas lights. Eeeek!

Why are they called nutcrackers and do they actually crack nuts? I googled for information and here's what I learned from Dawn @ Dawn's Scary Thoughts.

"Well, they do crack nuts and apparently nut crackers have been around since at least the Greeks and Aristotle, at least in a decorative/functional form. England’s King Henry VIII gave second wife Anne Boleyn a decorative wooden nutcracker as a gift in the 1500s. But, the colorful nutcrackers we now associate with Christmas didn’t exist until the 18th century, and were the product of German craftsmen.

In Germany, nutcrackers weren’t just practical tools, they were totems said to protect families from danger. Their big wooden teeth were designed to scare away evil spirits, and their ability to crack nuts symbolized the circle of life: A tree drops a seed (nut), which becomes a tree and from the tree the wooden nutcracker is born. The nutcracker, by design, also was a form of satirical political commentary. Nutcrackers made in the image of high-ranking officials, kings and soldiers were a way to force high-status men to “serve” the people. For example, Napoleon may have won battles in Germany, but he was helpless in the hands of the German people, who made the little general’s likeness the most popular nutcracker design of its time.

In the 19th century, nutcrackers began being sold as children’s toys for Christmas. The most popular designs during this time were harlequins and soldiers. One of these soldier nutcrackers became the protagonist of E.T.A. Hoffman’s novel The Nutcracker and the King of Mice , which subsequently inspired Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suit e and The Nutcracker ballet. In America, the nutcracker as a collector’s item first gained popularity in the 1950s, when American GIs returning from Germany brought the colorful nutcrackers home with them. During the same period, The Nutcracker ballet’s popular success also sparked interest in the colorful wooden toy."

My cookified version of a nutcracker.

Nutcracker Cookies
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

And oh, my nutcrackers were featured on Sunday's Best Link-up #49 and Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party #97 !

Monday, November 16, 2015

Santa

Growing up, I always believed that our parish priest, Father W, was Santa. Father W was Irish and he looked just like the Santa depicted in my story books - jolly, round, red-faced  and lushly white-bearded. He had the kindest face I know and kids just adored him. For many years, he always played Santa in the children's Christmas parties that were organized by our church.  My parents went along with my belief and I was told that though Father W was a priest, he would magically transform into Santa during Christmas. I was convinced. I guess it bought them time before I would eventually figure out that Santa wasn't real. I was about six years old when Father W returned to his home country.Taking his place as parish priest was Father A, a priest from India.

Now, don't get me wrong - it was nothing racial but being greeted at a children's Christmas party by a brown and skinny Santa with a fake white beard made of strung up cotton wool instead of your regular picture-perfect Santa was a major bummer! One of the older kids at the party, a real meanie, squealed smugly, "It's Father A! Told ya, Santa IS NOT REAL!".

On the way home after the party, Mom explained the truth about Santa. Funny, but the revelation did not devastate me. Like the tooth fairy and Easter bunny, our culture and religion place very little emphasis on Santa. To us Christmas = Birth of Christ and Easter = Christ's Resurrection.

Frankly, I think Santa and the practice of gifting have taken away the true meaning of Christmas. I always remind my boys that Christmas is all about giving and not gifting when they don't get the gifts they request.

Interestingly, I asked my son, Rodney, how did he find out that Santa wasn't real. He answered that he never really gave it a thought and that he knew Santa wasn't real from the start! Anyway, he googled that when he was six!

Am I a bad mom?

When and how did you find out Santa isn't real?

This week's cookies
Santa Cookies

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cedric

My parents used to have a pug named Cedric. He was abandoned by his owners when they migrated to Canada.  My mom found him  in our neck of the woods when she was taking her daily evening stroll. Mom adopted Cedric. Dad lovingly nicknamed him "Ugly". Cedric was kinda ugly in a beautiful sort of way.

I hate people who dump their pets when they move. It breaks my heart. Poor Cedric! He pined for his owners ever single day. Each time Mom opened the gate, Cedric would run to the house of his previous owners and wait there until Mom called for him. He returned to the empty house daily, faithful, loyal and resolute, awaiting his master's return.

Cedric lived with my parents for a good five years before he succumbed to cancer. I dread to think what might have been if Mom hadn't rescued him. God bless my mom!

Pug Cookies
Sharing this short, poignant Hungarian film with an impactive message about abandonment.

There is a twist. The ending really hits and I had to watch it a second time before I got it. I was wondering what kind of a man could leave his child behind until I realized she was .........

Monday, November 2, 2015

Haze Update

This is the first time I'm out of the house in the open without a mask after being forced to stay indoors for more than a month because of the haze. The air quality is definitely better thanks to the monsoon season that has just started. The rain has brought some respite from the haze but experts warn the relief is temporary, as wind patterns could still turn unfavourable and bring polluted air from the fires in neighbouring Indonesia.

This picture was taken when I was at Josh's campus to deliver the RAK cookies. Thankfully, the resident ducks and geese were unaffected by the haze. It was reported that chickens were dying by the millions in a month when the API (Air Pollution Index) hit dangerous levels. Chickens are more vulnerable than humans because of their complex respiratory system. Funny, you would think that mosquitoes are affected too but nope, they are not. Dang!

Finally, I can breathe easy! Good news for now until it comes back again to haunt us year after year.

This week's cookies
Peacock Cookies For Deepavali/Diwali

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