O Christmas Tree

Starting with a piece of 2 1/2 inch wide by 3/4 inch thick wood, I sawed out a basic triangle and a trunk. Then the whittlin’ began, just hackin’ away until a pine tree appeared. A rasp and file helped too. The saw was also used to trim out some outer branches. And once the woodworking was done, paint was applied. A couple different greens for shading and a couple browns too. Finally, a bit of white paint was added for a touch of snow.

A small amount of work for a decorative little item, standing at 3 1/2 inches tall. And as a bonus, the organic nature of the subject-matter makes mistakes of little concern.

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Christmas Pyramid

My wife was at HomeGoods the other day and sent me a picture of a candle-powered spinny thing. I thought it was neat and wanted to see if I could create such a thing myself. According to my research, it’s actually called a Christmas Pyramid.

After a failed first attempt, I added more fins, shortened the spindle, and turned up the heat, using a total of 8 candles — and voila, it actually spun! Here’s a gif of the spinning action and a video’s included at the end.

Christmas Pyramid

Christmas Pyramid Prototype

This is only a prototype and includes no adornments. To go from here, I’d widen the spindle support structure and add a wheel-shape to the bottom, on which I’d place decorative figurines. We’ll see if that actually happens though.

The fins were formed from a thin basswood left over from a craft project. They’re attached with custom-carved holders that are inserted into a custom-carved octagon-shaped spindle-topper. The spindle itself is a pointed oak dowel that turns with suprisingly little friction within its wood-based support.

Tool usage primarily entailed measuring, sawing, chiseling, whittling, drilling, filing, and sanding. It was a pretty tedious process making the 8 fins and their associated tinker-toy style holders. But that style of holder does allow me to rotate the fins to whatever angle-of-attack I want.

It was only a couple of days in the shop to make and a pretty neat accomplishment. When I saw it just sitting still with 4 candles I was a bit disappointed, I even raised them to the point of slightly burning some of the wood — but then with the addition of 4 more candles — Ha! The thrill of victory!

Tis Better

An excerpt from the fictional tales: Defender of the Christmas Faith

It’s often touted that it’s better to give than receive. Yet to become a giver there must be a receiver — therefore we should not place judgement upon either party lest we involve ourself in a game of spiritual hot-potato, always trying to give away what lands in our lap. We must graciously and appreciatively receive, lest we insult the giver.

In fact, Christmas is very much about receiving. For God so loveth the world, that he hath given his only begotten Son. Who are we, mere mortals, to give anything? We have nothing but what the Creator provides, we’re simply swapping the things we don’t own amongst ourselves. Truly, the only thing we can give is our thanks.

Believe not the naysayers proclaiming that some must lose for others to win. We’ve all already won. Don’t listen to lackers that believe in the finite, peddling their nonsense of limitless limitation. Doomsayers have plagued every era, yet the good times have kept on rolling. Why should we presume the fun will stop in our generation?

Christmas is a time for miracles, a time for receiving gifts we don’t deserve. When I fill out my Christmas Wish List, it’s full of items that stir delight. When I think of Christmas, I imagine thrilled hearts rapaciously tearing apart wrapping paper — I hear squeals of glee as long sought toys are finally in hand. What we’re experiencing through receiving, is joy.

Therefore, let us not shun this merriment, but embrace it. Let us lift our cups high in celebration of the season, a celebration of life itself, displaying our wholehearted appreciation for the gifts we receive. Let us wish the best for others and hope they receive their heart’s desire, but let us not forget our own enjoyment as we are part of the all.

As it is said, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Christmas Play

And the son of man saith unto his Father: Lord, take me instead. Let there be peace on Earth. Let my suffering pay the price for man’s sin. By my sacrifice may others know everlasting joy.

And the Lord saith unto His only begotten son: So be it. And the deed was done, blood paid for the sins of man.

But from his lofty seat the son wept. For in their minds men still hate. A gift given, but refused. Mankind chose anger over love. For instead of aiding, man abused. Instead of forgiving, man despised. Instead of generosity, man coveted. Instead of hoping, man despaired.

And the Lord saith unto His son: Why do thee criest so?

And the son saith: Lord, was my sacrifice in vain? Why does man reject my sacred gift?

And the Lord saith unto His son: A gift so given from the heart can only be received by the heart. The mind of man is confounded by Earthly sights and sounds. To appreciate this present, man must accept with his heart. Those that seek, shall find.

And the son saith: As ages pass how is it man can come to know my gift?

And the Lord saith unto His son: It shall be retold in every age, but understood only by the pure of heart. Only when the mind is still can the heart hear. To appreciate a gift such as yours, man must prepare himself to receive it, only then can joy come to reside.

And the son saith to his Father who art in Heaven: Is there nothing that can be done for the sake of those now suffering?

And the Lord saith unto His son: A man cannot receive what he cannot comprehend. Joy is a state beyond the ways of the world. Only through the spirit can he come to know such a state. Yours was a gift given to the soul. Man must see past his mortal layer to know everlasting joy.

And the son saith: Yet why is it so difficult to see? Can I not shout from the Heavens for man to awaken from his nightmare?

And the Lord saith unto His son: A flower cannot bloom while still in seed-form. Sturdy roots and ample stem must grow, lest the flower fall from its own weight. And so man must be prepared to receive your divine gift of everlasting love. In every age heralds tell of the path — those ready to receive proceed upon it.

And the son saith: But why must man linger so long in darkness if the light of the heavens shines so brightly?

And the Lord saith unto His son: What may appear as dirt and darkness is the sprouting of a holy spirit. See not the mud but the moistened seed. Look not to the withering leaves but those that thrive. Think not of the growing-pains but the potential. Labor may appear as pain, but know it to be the foundation of life, the instrument of joy.

And the son saith: By such words I have come to understand your plan. I see the garden you so planted upon Earth. I know now my sacrifice is a gift that shall bear its fruit — for each must bloom when the time is right, and by Heaven’s light prosper.

Christmas Miracle

When I think about what my life should be like, I tend to imagine the mundane. From watching lots of old black & white sitcoms while growing up in the suburbs, I simply see a more idealized version of that. A nice house with a decent yard, a friendly community, quaint local shops, raising kids, getting old, and that’s about it.

I didn’t particularly enjoy my childhood, but I think that was due to family issues more than a dislike of the lifestyle. Within a positive family environment, I have a feeling it could work out well. And after living in a single-wide mobile-home in a trailer-park, my longing for such a lifestyle has only grown.

Of course, having had the family I did, I very much appreciate the importance of creating a supportive atmosphere that facilitates smiles. Witnessing the effects of anger, abuse, and negativity forces me to adopt a different approach to life, encouraging me to maintain a positive attitude.

Lately, I can’t help but look through real estate listings of nice houses with decent yards in pleasant little communities. I even went so far as to attend an open-house. I’m not in a position to make such a purchase, nor do I see a logical path to that ability — so I turn to wishes.

Therefore, this Christmas, I wish for a nice house in the suburbs with all the trimmings. I know it seems self-indulgent, and I suppose it is, but there’s also those with whom I live that would appreciate the room to grow and the schools and the neighborhood and all it has to offer.

Thank you for your consideration,
Rich

How To Christmas

In early December, in the late-afternoon or after supper, play Christmas music of the 1950s and 1960s, such as The Little Drummer Boy by The Harry Simeone Chorale and Marshmallow World by Dean Martin and It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year by Andy Williams.

Mail out Christmas-themed cards to various relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Mailing out early gives recipients a chance to reciprocate and provides them with an address if necessary. And of course, use Christmas-themed stamps.

Bring home a formerly living pine tree, typically of the Balsam Fir or Fraser Fir variety. Beginners should start with a 5 foot or under whereas an intermediate can go about 6 to 7 feet. It may be easier to secure the tree in its stand while still horizontal, before bringing it into the house.

Typically, a couple sets of string-lights will cover a small tree. Start at the top and wind it around and around, ending with the pronged-end at the very bottom of the tree. Place a lighted star on top of the tree and plug it into the beginning of the string-lights. Now plug the lights into an extension cord and insert into a wall outlet. Observe the wondrous magical lights as Christmas music plays in the background.

With lights lit and music playing, place shiny bulbs, various ornaments, ribbons, bows, or other garlands around the tree. Take your time and enjoy. When complete, pour water into the tree’s stand and place the tree-skirt around the base. Place any pre-existing presents under the tree. Further house decorating is optional — one might include artificially lit candles in the windows, a wreath on the front door, a manger scene, a Christmas village, hanging mistletoe, or toy-soldier nutcrackers.

By mid December, bake a batch of ginger molasses or sugar cookies — also consider baking holiday breads such as pumpkin or cranberry. Leave out a bowl of mixed nuts accompanied by metal nutcrackers and keep a supply of clementines in the fridge. Christmas-themed movies should be watched around this time as well — classics include Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966), A Christmas Story (1983), and Scrooged (1988).

Presents should be purchased and wrapped by this time. If young children are present, gifts from Santa should be hidden and wrapped differently from other presents and placed around the tree late Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, presents are opened.

In the late-afternoon, Christmas dinner is consumed — a roasted meat with gravy and root vegetables with a splash of corn or peas. For dessert, consider having apple pie with vanilla ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream.

The tree and other decorations are removed sometime after New Years Day. And remember, throughout the season, at all times, be mindful of Christmas cheer and goodwill towards men. Wish others the best and give the gift of forgiveness and the present of patience. And have yourself a very merry Christmas time.

P.S. As every Christmas movie teaches, it’s never too late to save Christmas.

Season of Giving

Not accepting the status quo, Jesus challenged society, inspiring people to go beyond selfish inclination and follow a divine standard. Sacrificing one’s comfort for others, providing without prompt or hope of gain, forgiving the unforgivable — this is his transcendent message. Sacrificing even his life, he showed we are to give all we have for the welfare of the world.