Light One Candle

Advent WreathAfter reading posts on the advent season from two very talented bloggers, Tongue in Cheek and Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, I am inspired to share some of the Red Dirt Hacienda’s holiday traditions over the next few days. Just don’t expect mine to be as erudite or classy. Exhibit A: our over-the-top advent wreath. No evergreen or pottery wreath for our family. Ours is rugged to survive three children who joyfully light the candles at every opportunity and nearly set their hair on fire while trying to blow them out. Still, I don’t know what we would do without our wreath and our calendar of small books to start dinner conversation and share about the meaning of Christmas for our family.

Every Thursday, the kids’ school has mass, and last week, the children sang a Yiddish folk song titled “Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah.” The tune always makes me think of a menorah and the connection we share with the Jewish people as part of our Judeo/Christian heritage. As the children sweetly sang, I reflected on how light, especially candlelight, is symbolic of God’s presence and hope in darkness, both visual and spiritual.

advent-009.jpgOne of my friends said she always feels so pressured by the shopping and partying of Christmas that she doesn’t have time to enjoy advent. I think a lot of us feel that way. We want everyone to have a wonder filled Christmas, but I can’t do that, or be attuned to my family without our time together at the dinner table. We light the candle, read our scriptures for the day and join Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem.

So, in this season of hurrying up and waiting, what can we do to light our own candles and to replenish the light of others when theirs sputters?

For me, our family advent time helps, as do other things like:

  • Christmas Music. I play it whenever I’m in the car, and I’m in the car a lot. I like Jewel, Kathy Mattea, and of course, Bing Crosby.
  • Old Christmas Movies. I watch these while I wrap gifts. Personal favorites are: Come to the Stable, Holiday Inn, Miracle on 34th Street, The Bells of St. Mary’s. What are some of yours?
  • Helping a Family in Need. There are plenty of people who need food and presents during this season. How about sharing some of your light while spreading some hope and Christmas cheer? Oh, yeah, didn’t Charles Dickens write a book about that? We have tickets for the territorial version of A Christmas Carol in Guthrie next weekend. It runs from Wednesday thru Sunday at The Pollard Theatre.
  • Christmas Stories. We have two shelves devoted to Christmas books for both children and adults. My favorite children’s story is The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojciechowski. My favorite adult series is Christmas in My Heart, compiled and edited by Joe Wheeler. I think there are several in the series. I like them all.

Here’s hoping that during this advent season, you find a candle of your own and nourish your small light while helping others who don’t have one. Happy Advent everyone.

My Christmas Garden Gift List

As an avid digger in the dirt, here’s what I would like to see under my tree, or yours for that matter, this year:

1. Soap and Glory bath products. Soap and GloryI don’t know about you, but when I come in from spreading manure, I don’t smell like a petunia. I want something that will scrub me clean and smell good at the same time. If a product can do its job while entertaining me with sassy British wit, so much the better. Also, they aren’t expensive. I found mine at my local Target store.

2. Pink Ribbon Elite Gardening Gloves. First, full disclosure: As a Garden Writers Association Symposium attendee, I was sent two pair of Bionic Gloves to try. Bionic Gardening GlovesThis was after I told their rep that I’d destroyed two pair of the original style because my fake fingernails poked through. (I was going to save my fake fingernail info for, if and when somebody sent me one of those surprising things about me memes. Oh well . . . .) Bionic gloves are fabulous because they ease hand strain from arthritis or from just pulling too many weeds. They are pricey at $39.95, but would make a great gift for men or women doing just about any sport or hobby. This particular model has reinforced fingertips and is pink for breast cancer awareness. I hope my MIL isn’t reading because she’s a survivor and is getting a pair for Christmas.

3. Spinning Composter. Spinning ComposterI have bins and bins of compost including two black ones that I’m supposed to be able to lift the doors and just gather the black gold. They don’t work because all of the new stuff (slimy and sometimes icky) falls down upon my hands. (Good thing I wear gloves.) I always have to turn the entire bin over to find my hard-earned garden magic. This little spinning guy should stop that. According to Gaiam, it “is made of 50% post-consumer recycled plastic and it produces up to 85 pounds of odorless, fertile compost in about a month.” I’d like to see that. Somebody buy it and let me know if it works.

4. Waterfall Rocks. I have a birdbath, but I’m not too thrilled with it because it doesn’t attract as many birds as I would like. It’s a fact that birds like moving water, and these little rocks are mini pumps which should operate in existing birdbaths.

5. Book Darts. Book DartsYou all know how much I love books, and when I’m working on a post or an article, or if I’m just reading for pleasure, I like to mark my place without resorting to highlighters. Book darts do the trick. You can place one right on the page, and it won’t even crease it very much. I buy mine at Bas Bleu, which calls itself the “champion of the odd little book.” You just gotta love that.

6. Garden Cart. garden-cart.jpgI’ve had a garden cart like this for the last fifteen years (at least.) It is one of the best tools in my garden, and I leave it outside rain or shine. When we first designed my raised beds, we made sure the paths were wide enough to fit this baby. You can order it from Gardeners Supply Company for $199.00.

7. Back to Books. 1001-books.jpgI just bought and devoured 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. I know, it’s not about gardening, but it is fascinating, and I’m sure there are some books in there with garden in the title.

8. Tub Trugs. Tub TrugsThese are just fun and in great, bright colors that can’t be lost between the flora and the fauna. Gardenscape Tools has lots of pretty, fun stuff that I would love to see under my tree or in my stocking, and they have a nice gift guide for gardeners too.

9. Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent. burts-bees.jpgIn my steamy climate, the best time to harvest is in the morning and evening, and guess who else is out harvesting those times of day . . . mosquitoes. Since I don’t like spraying poison on my body, I found this natural alternative. It really does work, although I have to reapply it often. You can find it at Burt’s Bees.

10. For the Gardener Who Has Everything. How about a gift from Heifer International? Personally, in keeping with the garden spirit, I think a hive of bees is in order. It can be done for $30.

I hope my wish list helps you discover new websites and lovely new things for your gardening friends; or if you want something, feel free to buy it yourself. Sometimes, the best gifts are the ones we give ourselves.

For some even more unique ideas, check out my gal pal, Robin’s Bumblebee Garden Blog. She has some great gift items. Robin, I love those chimney pots.