Traditions, Stories and Rabbit Holes

Christmas – a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. There are few holidays more historical or steeped in more tradition than Christmas. … Nativity, Decorations, Santa, Advent, Caroling, Poinsettias, Gifts and so many more. I love tradition – I can almost break out in song at the mention of the word. Remember Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof!!!

When our children were small our life was filled to the brim with Christmas traditions – We wanted them to know who and why we celebrated. We wanted them to have a stong foundation. We wanted them to have all the wonderful memories that Christmas traditions can bring. Oh the joy Mr. G and I experienced in the wonder on their sweet faces.

We now have the pleasure of so much wonder and excitement coming from these little candy canes! We will sure miss them this year! 😢

This was from last year. They have grown so much since then!

This season I have been reading Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins. It is a fascinating book that taps into my love of tradition and history!

SOME OF MY FAVORITE TRADITIONS…

Christmas Cards: I love receiving them and sending them. A time to share warm wishes and get an update from friends scattered about. Now more than ever. I hear that writing notes/letters, in general, has increased during the pandemic. I am so glad for that. I have sent more notes too but not enough – I plan to send more! In a world of “virtual” I have deeply enjoyed the written notes that I have received this year from others.

Christmas Cookies: Oh the joys of Christmas baking and sharing! My favorite cookie to bake is Grandma B’s Fruitcake Cookies. (recipe here) Even if you think you hate fruitcake, I suspect you will love these cookies too.

My favorite cookie to receive is my sister-in-law’s Pizzelles. A special memory from 2020 happened before the pandemic when our Ohio family came for a Christmas visit in February (so many schedules to work around). We had a traditional Christmas feast and Aunt Cindy treated us by making her family’s traditional cookie – Pizzelles! And, mentored her nephews through this fine art too! Aunt Cindy is from a big, beautiful Italian family where a multitude of wonderful recipes and traditions come from!

I don’t even want to admit how many of those I ate.

Christmas Music: We are definitely on the side of early Christmas music. Hearing Bing sing White Christmas is appropriate and encouraged after Halloween as needed. This season we decided to take advantage of Spotify and created wonderful playlists of all our favorites!

About Poinsettias:

Traditional or not, I will admit I have a love/hate relationship with Poinsettias. (My apologies to Mr. Poinsett) They just don’t fit with my Christmas “vibe,” especially this year. I like a soft, quiet, peaceful, twinkle light filled Christmas with fresh evergreens and pinecones. Then out of the blue comes the Poinsettia in every store! Screaming loudly and proudly that IT IS CHRISTMAS TIME! (In her best “Elf” impression) You gotta appreciate her enthusiasm! So most years I succumb to the loud lure of her call to have a real Christmas experience you must have a poinsettia. Then she comes home with me and sadly she just doesn’t fit in — demanding so much attention with those big beautiful bracts! Anyone else???

About Gifts:

Gift-giving can be a sweet part of Christmas. The wisemen certainly set the stage for gift giving. It can also be so “commercial” and can put undo strain on people. We each have to find our way with our own how and why of giving gifts.

While I do very much believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive … I just have to tell you about a special gift I received!

Look at this! While it was not a Christmas gift, recently a special friend sent me a book that I will treasure. It is a classic… “How to Grow Roses by J. Horace McFarland and Robert Pyle. Two men that are giants in the world of roses! Thank you Carrie!

This book sent me down a rabbit hole of wanting to know more and more about these two great men.

Want to go down the rabbit hole with me?

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

J. HORACE McFARLAND…

J. Horace McFarland was the son of nurseryman and publisher George McFarland, who settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania after coming home from the Civil War. Young Horace worked in his father’s nursery, but also gained experience setting type in his father’s publishing business, printing seed lists and later nursery catalogs. At age 30, in 1889, Horace McFarland purchased the vacant Mount Pleasant School where he opened his own publishing company, the J. Horace McFarland Company. He studied the newly invented color-photoengraving process, and subsequently gained contracts with major establishments to publish handsome nursery catalogs, numerous magazines, and significantly, L. Hyde Bailey’s monumental four-volume horticultural work, the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture.

J. Horace McFarland was named the Father of the American Rose Society.

One Hundred years after J. Horace McFarland became affiliated with the American Rose Society, the organization’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to bestow the title of “Father of the American Rose Society” at a convention in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Though he was not instrumental in the founding of the American Rose Society (the ARS had been in existence for about 20+ years before nurseryman-publisher J. Horace McFarland joined the organization), he was instrumental in turning the commercial growers’ organization into one that welcomed — and served — ordinary home gardeners and lovers of roses. McFarland was and is the most significant contributor to the organization. To this day, he remains the most remarkable and most loved rosarian the American Rose Society has known.

Read more here.

ROBERT PILE…

Robert Pyle was an internationally known nurseryman as well as a noted authority on roses. Throughout his life, he served in many capacities of several horticulture organizations including the American Rose Society, the National Association of Plant Patent Owners, the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboretums, the American Horticultural Society.

FROM STAR ROSES & PLANTS WEBSITE...

Over 75 years ago, Robert Pyle laid the foundation that still exists at Star® Roses and Plants today: A beautiful garden begins with exceptional plants. By establishing friendships with nurseries and hybridizers all over the world, Pyle expanded our horticultural palette. These friendships have allowed us to work with some of the world’s most innovative nurseries to introduce plants that have passed the ultimate test — the rigorous and diverse American climate. For some amazing pictures and more history, read on here.

THE PEACE ROSE

Most likely the most famous rose of all time, the Peace Rose, was introduced by Robert Pyle in 1943.

THE ROSE OF THE CENTURY

The video below tells the beautiful historical story of the Peace Rose. As you watch, you will see how many of the great rose giants intersect during one of the most tumultuous times in our history to bring us this beautiful symbol.

Hope you enjoyed your trip down the rabbit hole! Welcome to my world! 🤦‍♀️

BACK TO CHRISTMAS

Our Christmas decor is slowly coming together. We are savoring every minute. As is the order of the day for us – it is peaceful and adorned with twinkle lights.

We have had wonderful weather – just perfect for gathering evergreens and plant material from the garden for swags, wreaths, and other decor for inside and out.

For the first time, I am using battery-powered candles in some areas. I do appreciate them however, they will never completely replace the enchantment that a real flickering candle gives. BUT what a bonus the timer is! 🕯

My Annual Boxwood Tree…

CHRISTMAS DINNER

Our original plan was to be in England for Christmas. While our hearts break for the cancellation, we have decided to embrace our reality and we will celebrate in traditional English style. And use modern technology for our visit with our loves!

ON THE MENU…

  • Standing Rib Roast
  • Yorkshire Pudding
  • Creamed Peas
  • Roasted Root Vegetables
  • Wassail
  • Mincemeat Pies – ALL THE WAY FROM ENGLAND!!! 🇬🇧 Thanks to our sweet daughter!

When I think of my own “Plan B” celebration, I think of Mary and I am sure that her son’s birth in a drafty cave with animals for company and a feeding trough for a baby bed was not her Plan A. Whether we are on Plan A, B or C, God uses it all for his glory. And, we are so grateful!

And she (Mary) brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7)

Merry Christmas my friends. Wishing you joy!

14 thoughts on “Traditions, Stories and Rabbit Holes

  1. Very nice! Oh how I envy that wagon full of fresh greens, and he wreath you made with them (I assume) is amazing! As I read your post, I saw that you have the same Walmart Christmas dishes I have, and my Christmas tree ‘salad’ plate is sitting right next to me, having been my breakfast plate! The baby reindeer is my absolute favorite. Merry Christmas Teresa and family!

    1. Hi Donna! YES, I did make the wreath. I have so fortunate to have so many evergreens! When we moved here 35 years ago there was not even grass. We planted to be able to “forage” and it has worked out — although some of our evergreen are now too huge! lol. Have a Merry Christmas and congratulation on the grandbaby. She is a doll! What a blessing grandchildren are! They give you more love than you ever thought possible. Enjoy every minute. xo

    2. Yes, I do have those dishes and LOVE them. Many years ago Mr. G gifted me a set of the “Happy Holiday” collection by Nikko and I love those too but seems we have used the Better Homes and Garden “Heritage” set mostly for the last 3 years. I particularly love the Christmas tree one and Mr. G loves the nostalgic station wagon with the tree on top! I am so glad when I see them out each year at WalMart. And, they keep adding to the collection! Enjoy! 🎄🎄🎄

  2. Merry Christmas Teresa and Family! Thank you for such a splendid Christmas message. We always enjoy your photos, information, and how you share the things that are special to you. However, your Christmas 2020 message is very touching and uplifting. Your Plan ABC illustration touched our hearts and reaffirmed the PEACE of Christmas! Everything in life is better when we know God is in control of 2020 and all that is to come in the future. Have a blessed Christmas!

    1. Hello Jim, It is amazing how we all are having some of the very same feelings regardless of our location or our stage or age. This has been a year that demanded we pay attention but try not to be overwhelmed! We are almost there. 2021 is looming and we pray all the limitations of 2020 will begin to dissipate! I so look forward to the things I have missed most… family, friends and our freedoms! Merry Christmas.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! You are so talented, creative, and an inspiration. So glad that I turned my computer on just now. I love sprigs of fresh holly leaves and their red berries and English ivy in my decorations, And I love cardinals also when decorating. I live near Williamsburg, VA, and I especially love their apple cone decorations using fresh boxwood and magnolia leaves (for the base). You must get you an apple cone, but I bet Mr. G could make one for you. Instead of red apples, one can use fresh oranges or fresh lemons (Easter). The apples are fresh also and smell so good. A fresh pineapple is the crowning touch on top. The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality. Just google 18th century Williamsburg, VA, and see their beautiful apple cones and wreaths. I baked a cake today (yum)! Oh, you must bake some gingerbread. Your little grandsons are so adorable! Thank you again for all of your blogs this past year. I use to have the Peace rose, and I want another one. Peace, love, joy, and hope to you and yours. A very happy new year, too! P.S. I grow the herb, rosemary, and I am using it and sharing it this Christmas. I love its fragrance and its delicate flowers!

    1. Hello Sherry, Yes, I did make the wreath from all that “stuff” in the wagon! I have seen the fruit trees and they are special! The story of the peace rose is special and I love to hear about it! Have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your special treats!

  4. Do you have a Lidl store in your area? It is the BEST! They have spring bulbs, poinsettias, potted flowering bulbs in bloom, fresh bouquets of flowers, and miniature roses that are potted. They have a bakery, frozen seafood, and a lot of other food items. Prices are really good. I wanted to tell you that I purchased a miniature lavender rose with so many roses in bloom that lasted a long time. I finally have a lavender rose now, and I will keep it indoors until spring when I will plant it outdoors. And we have a live small cedar tree from our yard that we dug up and potted during the summer months. It has become our tabletop Christmas tree decorated with small Victorian Santas. So pretty! Don’t forget to listen to Nat King Cole’s “A Cradle in Bethlehem” carol.

  5. Merry Christmas Teresa! I get a little excited when I see your blog pop up on my email, always ready for a little garden chat! I purchased your recommended book “The Christmas Tea” for my friends and gals in the family. Time to slow down and enjoy this reflective season. Thank you for your beautiful message. Please share the greenery you used in your Christmas projects above, I’m not familiar with some. Have a wonderful holiday!

  6. Donna – I have a holly ‘swag’ on our front door – the holly bush, loaded with red berries, is right next to the front porch – but that is the total of our outdoor decorations. Your house is just beautiful with winter greenery. I am glad to know about the rose book. Thank you!

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