Wednesday 26 December 2007

6000 Steps to Love


For some reason writers and movie makers tend to see the “Great Romantic Stories” as those where love never quite makes it. Romeo and Juliet – dead before they reach their one week wedding anniversary. Lancelot and Guinevere – adultery, guilt and ultimately loss all round. Scarlett and Rhett of Gone with the Wind – unhappy apart, even more unhappy together.

Tragedy may make for a gripping story, but it implies that romance is so fragile that it rarely endures in a real relationship past the “I do” wedding vows.

How depressing.

I once read a book where the lead character said that “true love” was a man who got up in the middle of the night to get an extra blanket when his wife was cold. I agree with her. Romance isn’t love poems and soft music, although both can be appealing, and it isn’t dramatic tragedies keeping lovers apart either.

I think true romance is the man getting up on a cold winter night to get that blanket, because real love is someone doing something unexpected and unasked… simply to make you happier or your life better. Romantic gestures are fun and exciting, but having someone you can trust with your heart and life is of far greater value. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend for some, but I’d rather have the man who loves me be my best friend than have the diamonds. The fact my husband buys me five red roses(to mark a special anniversary) is lovely and romantic, but the truth is that the fact that he checks every night that I’m warm is way more romantic to me than flowers could ever be.

In China a husband’s love created a stairway of 6000 steps carved into a mountainside. He carved them so that his wife could get around the mountain easier. This true story, with pictures, can be found here.

Six thousand steps, each one carefully carved… it must have taken him years and years. How many steps are there to expressing real romance and love? Those little gestures and simple caring things: sharing the last chocolate, making sure your spouse is warm at night, telling her she looks beautiful no matter how old she gets, letting your husband have the last slice of cake, sitting by a bedside all night when the one you love is ill, holding your loved one close when they need to cry and grieve… the list is endless and beyond counting.

Six thousand steps carved into the heart of the one who is loved. What could be more romantic than that?

Monday 24 December 2007

Song for Christmas Eve

Only one choice for me - Silent Night. :-) This version is by Celtic Woman.

Sunday 23 December 2007

To all Readers...


Wishing Everyone
a Peaceful and Joyous Christmas
Best wishes for
a Happy Healthy 2008!


Saturday 22 December 2007

Our Tree


Our Christmas tree and Father Christmas. We got the tree on sale after Christmas last year. :-)

Friday 21 December 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas



The Carol "Twelve Days of Christmas" has a fascinating history. Here's one version of the story:

"From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember..."

The partridge in a pear tree

...Jesus Christ.

Two turtle doves

...the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens, hope and love.

Four calling birds

...the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

Five golden rings

...the first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch:

1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy.

Six geese a-laying

...the six days of creation.

Seven swans a-swimming

...the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit -- Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

Eight maids a-milking

...the eight beatitudes: Bleesed are...

1) the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake.

Nine ladies dancing

...the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit -- Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

Ten lords a-leaping

...the ten commandments:

1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God's name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet.

Eleven pipers piping

...the eleven faithful disciples: 1) Simon Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8) Thomas, 9) James bar Alphaeus, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Judas bar James.

Twelve drummers drumming

...the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed:

1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) the holy catholic Church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.

Christmas song for the Weekend

A more traditional "Carol Of The Bells" by Celtic Woman. :-)

Thursday 20 December 2007

Christmas Get-to-Know

ChocMintGirl tagged me for this meme.

1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share Christmas facts about yourself.
3. Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. Wrapping or gift bags?
Same as Crystal and Tish, it depends on the gift. If the gifts are difficult to wrap, I will use gift bags.

2. Real or artificial tree?
No trees die for my holiday! Always an artificial tree.
3. When do you put up the tree?
We try to aim for first weekend in December, but it rarely happens. Preferably at least ten days before Christmas as it really does bring out the Christmas spirit. :-)

4. When do you take the tree down?
Usually a day or two after New year. A Tree up after new year just makes me feel sad.

5. Do you like egg nog?
I used to... until I realised it was raw egg. :-P

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
I can't say I had a favourite, but the most excited I can remember was getting a doll with blue hair. Blue was my favourite colour. I thought that doll was BEAUTIFUL. :-)

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes. Two actually. An old metal one that belonged to my dad as a kid and a woooden one I made myself.

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Oh, this one is an old family joke! My dad bought me a crouquet set as a kid. I hated the game. Not helped by the fact that our semi-desert African garden was too hard to knock the little hoops into the ground and we had no real lawn to play on.

9. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Actually.. I prefer ecards. No waste of paper or trees and you get such lovely cards that are animated and play music. But it still is wonderful to get, and send, real cards to people. :-)

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
No real set time, but probably somewhere in late November.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Mince pies and my mom's stuffing.

13. Clear lights or colored on the tree?

14. Favorite Christmas song(s)?
The Christmas Song - Nat king Cole, Carol of the Bells, Silent Night... and loads of others. I sang in the school Christmas choir so I still know most of them well. I loved being in the choir for Christmas. :-)

15. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Stay at home. To me Christmas is about peace, love and home.

16. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
mmm... Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen...
I'm sure there's some I've forgotten.

17. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Star. We had an Angel as a kid, but she got old and I've never found a really nice angel to replace her.

18. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?
Christmas day, usually afternoon since we'll be getting lunch ready in the morning and prefer to relax and open the gifts afterwards.

19. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Some of the TV shows - either boring and silly or just weird. They're having a series of shows on deadly snakes and other creepy animals this week... what is festive about that??

20. Do you decorate your tree in any specific theme or color?
Yes, last year it was gold, silver, red and green. This year we bought some extra copper baubles and tinsel and did golds and brown/copper colours.

21. What do you leave for Santa?

22. Least favorite holiday song?
The Little Drummer Boy. :-P

23. Favorite ornament?
New - the big angel my husband bought me last year.
Old - cottonball kitty. I wrote about that here.

24. Family tradition?
We always light a candle on Christmas eve - to remember loved ones far away or who have passed.

25. Ever been to Midnight Mass or late-night Christmas Eve services?
No. i've been to an early service in a park, which was nice and I went to a Baptism on Christmas eve once, which was unusual.

I really don't know who to tag. I've tagged so many people lately. So I'll leave it open for anyone who wants to take up the challenge.

May you have Rain

For me, Christmas Eve in Africa means rain. Soft rain. Warm rain. African rain. *Pula! (rain) - a blessing and a wish as powerful as “bless you” is to the Western soul. I was born in an area where rain fall never lasts longer than an hour and puddles evaporate within minutes of the clouds parting. In such a world rain is precious. Rain is survival. Rain is life, resurrection and birth.

As a small child Christmas rain would most likely be "guti" - soft soft rain on your face and hands that is more like a heavy mist than raindrops. At the coast it would be heavier more tropical rain that hisses like steam on the roads and rooftops.
My first Christmas in Scotland it snowed on Christmas day and I was so excited, but it was the cold sleet-rain on Christmas eve that made me feel blessed.

Wherever you are, may there always be soft rain to bless you at Christmas.

* "..pula means more than just the wet stuff which falls out the sky: it stands for luck, life and prosperity.."

Wednesday 19 December 2007

Midweek Christmas song :-)

Carol of the Bells is one of my favourite tunes. This more unusual version is by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Thursday 13 December 2007

The Meaning of Christmas

Amel tagged me to do this meme. :-) The instructions are:
1. Make a paragraph next to the last paragraph in the tag that is passed to you “What is Christmas to you” and put your name at the end of it linking back to your site, or the page that answered this tag.
2. You can use a title that will suit your Christmas idea.
3. Then tag as many as you can.

Christmas is an annual holiday that makes my little wishes come true. A pair of new shoes, new dress and gifts from my Godparents. That’s how I defined Christmas years and years ago until… I came to Bahrain. That’s when I realized what it really means. A special day to commemorate the birth of Jesus. Here in Bahrain, Christmas is nothing. It’s just an ordinary working day for almost everyone, unless your boss is considerate, he’ll give you at least a half day to celebrate, if there are celebrations happening. But in my case, there’s nothing to celebrate literally. Everyone is at work, that includes my husband and myself. We attend the midnight (Christmas Eve) mass and that’s it, go to sleep and get back to work the next day, on Christmas day. My first Christmas away from home happened in 1999. I came here in October and had the most loneliest Christmas ever in my life - without my family. That made me realized their importance. On how meaningless celebrations would be without them. To cut the story short, for me Christmas is all about Jesus and family. If you have friends to celebrate this special day with you, that’s a bonus!
When Silence Speaks

A little while ago, I talked to my daughter about this year’s Christmas being different from the other Christmases we had. She asked me why. I explained to her that my husband and I are both undergoing financial difficulties since hubby has just been doing consultancy work since March and that means no extra money for the holiday expenses, not that we give expensive, extravagant gifts, we don’t. She said something like: “It’s okay, we don’t need expensive gifts, what is important is that we are together.” Thank you, Trixie, for making this easier. (Please click on her name to see what she has written in her blog about her thoughts on this.) We have always emphasized about the real meaning of this holy day. That this is about Jesus who came to save us from sins and give us eternal life. We always make it a point to go to church during the morning of Christmas day to give thanks to the Lord. Christmas is not just a holy day, not just a time of giving gifts but a time to thank the Lord for the blessings of life.

Christmas is about the decision that God made to save mankind! The piercing truth is that Christmas is about so many decisions. First: It is the decision of God to send us Jesus Christ. Second: It is the decision of Mary to accept the will of God and cooperate in the plan of salvation. Third: Joseph decided to take Mary as his wife despite her condition. Joseph did not understand completely and yet because the angel told him so, he decided to say ‘yes’, too. Sometimes I feel that the yes of Mary overstated and the weight of Joseph’s yes was underestimated. If Joseph did not agree to the angel’s leading, the ‘yes’ of Mary would have resulted in a condemnable pregnancy that could have led to a dead mother and baby. Mary should have been stoned to death if Joseph decided to say no. Joseph’s decision was important. Fourth: It was also the decision of the wise Men to go another way and not collaborate with Herod who wanted to kill the Child Jesus. Fifth: It was the decision, too, of the shepherds to go in haste and tell the others what they have seen. So, for me Christmas is a story of decisions!

hhhhmmmm, ‘what is Christmas to me?’ … is something that is very significant to my heart… Christmas to me is approaching Jesus with an offering of simple adornments, not gold or precious stones but a pure and clean heart! It is important to remember though that it is HE who wants to come to me, to us. How we look externally and/or outwardly might not mean as much to HIM but only a pure and contrite heart!…. He wants to look into our hearts because it is there where HE wants to dwell to bring to it beauty and light. His wish is that here, within the deep recesses of our hearts and souls, which HE fashioned with love after HIS own heart, only one STAR shines brightly!…. So our hearts must carry HIM and HIM alone. For HE is the light, like no other. And if we carry HIM in our hearts, there is no need for make-up, jewelry, or even a brand new colorful polo shirt or blouse and skirt because we will radiate with HIS light and beauty and when that happens, there can never be too much.


What is Christmas? hmmmm… When the month of “ber” comes and it’s getting colder, Christmas is coming and i’m always looking forward for this month and weather. When i was young, Christmas for me is vacation, wearing new clothes, meeting relatives and getting more presents. But it changed when i entered college and got a job. The meaning became saving money, meeting friends and buying presents specially for my godchildren. Generally, we defined Christmas as the birth of Christ. Everyone is busy buying presents but we never thought or gave anything to the Celebrant (Jesus). This Christmas, give your present to God. Surrender your life to Him and this is the best present that you can give.


We celebrate Christmas because it’s the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ. It’s all about Love why HE was born and died on the cross for us. John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Therefore, for me the true meaning of Christmas is Love and with it comes forgiveness and reconciliation. We also remember His birth by giving each other gifts, worshipping Him, and being especially conscious of the poor and less fortunate.

Thinking Out Loud

Christmas for me is the ultimate reminder on how much God loves us, that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to be our Savior. For me, its a celebration of love and a time to share our blessings to others.. a time for giving and reaching out to the less fortunate and it’s also a wonderful time to be with your family. Christmas is not just all about santa claus or the gifts that you will receive or for shopping, we should always remember that Jesus is the reason for the season and let us reflect on how much God loves us.

Just Let Go/Pieces of Me

Christmas is about giving love, forgiving. This remind us how lucky and how God love us when he gave us his only son Jesus Christ. A time for sharing our blessing to our family, friends and to others.

Celebrate Life/My Journey

When I was younger, I looked forward to every Christmas because that meant new dresses, new pair of shoes, toys and a lot of presents and money from ninongs and ninangs. Now that I’m older, married, and have my own family, I view Christmas differently. Remembering the birth of Jesus and the real reason why He was given to us by God the Father is the true meaning of Christmas for me. Whether you’re having an extravagant or just plain simple feast on the table, being together as a family especially on this blessed day is what really counts. Giving random acts of kindness to people you meet everyday and touching their lives in your own little way is more than giving expensive presents. These 3 are the true meaning of Christmas for me which I try to teach my children.

Liza of moms…..check nyo & A Simple Life.

To me, Christmas means my mom happily cooking to celebrate Jesus Christ's birth. She always sets up a tree, and her eyes shine as she does it - it is quite a treat for any daughter to witness: I love you mom!


For me, Christmas means HOPE. Always has been, always will be. The fallen world has received the greatest hope of all: the birth of Jesus Christ. And since hope is all around, then it's only normal to see so many acts of kindness around Christmastime. In Indo, we never exchanged Christmas gifts, but now I live in Finland and I start to buy gifts for my loved ones. Christmas also means family gathering for me and candlelight service at church. Plus I get to sing Christmas songs and enjoying a Christmas play and dance. Other than that, for me Christmas also means SERENITY. I can feel a different kind of peace in my heart whenever Christmas comes along. And since Christmas is near New Year, it's also time for reflection for me: reflecting all the blessings that the Lord has given me and then thanking God for everything.


As a child Christmas was the love of family holding me safe and stories of magic and miracles.
As I got older I grew to realise that there are deeper forms of love and more subtle forms of gift-giving. The love of God giving his son to the world is echoed every day in the love of good people making sacrifices for each other without regrets. The love of friends and family giving time and sharing, understanding and laughter. The love of a life partner giving more than there are words to describe. And the more you embrace that truth of love the more the gifts grow.

Christmas is a reminder that love is more than an emotion
– it is the energy of miracles.


I'm tagging:
Guyana Gyal

Tuesday 11 December 2007


PV of "Finding Me" wrote a great post recently on the idea of confessions. He said:

Let's have some fun with this blog. Confessions. I'll post a few of my own. If you are inspired, or just want to unload one, post as a comment - you can even post comments anonymously. I don't get off as easily.

I’m taking that challenge a step further and making it into a new meme. To give it some structure let’s limit it to five to seven confession statements. Tag five bloggers or leave it an open challenge - that part I’ll leave up to you. ;-)

My Confessions:

1. When I was little I thought a monster lived in the toilet plumbing and I was afraid to flush if I was in the toilet alone… in case I woke “it” and it came out and got me. I would only flush if I wasn’t alone, or the door was open and I could flush and RUN… FAST.

2. When I had insomnia in my 20s I started listing things to try to fall asleep (counting sheep is just annoying). I started with listing names of fruit and vegetables, people’s names, but ended up with dog breeds. As a result of that I can now recite a list of 70 breeds of dogs without much struggle.

3. I hate untidiness and clutter. I even feel more clumsy and less able to think clearly in an untidy space. Now this does NOT mean I am tidy and a perfect house-cleaner! It just means I get irritable if I am surrounded by mess… and eventually that does force me to go tidy up.

4. I was named Michelle because my mom’s doctor’s name was Michael.

5. I can hear high pitch sounds like bats and “silent” dog whistles

6. I worry too much… then I worry that I worry too much!

7. I’m driving phobic- does it have an official name? I have my license and I’m a fairly good driver, but I’d rather walk than drive and I avoid driving as much as possible.

I’m tagging:

Blur Ting
Mother Hen

Friday 7 December 2007

For the Weekend - Christmas interviews

For those who won't know the TV show. These Tv short animations are made by interviewing ordinary people and then transforming their thoughts by turning the "interviewees" into animals. My favourite TV show! :-)

Monday 3 December 2007

Friendship and friends


Amel has awarded me the BFF award. Thank you Amel! In fact - a double thank you because I was actually writing a blog piece on friendship on Friday that I forgot about until I had this very pleasant "reminder". ;-)

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about friendship. This year I’ve made some wonderful new friends (like Amel and the others on my blog list), I’ve re-connected with some old friends, and I’ve managed to make new friends out of people I had first known as family (that’s actually quite an accomplishment as family bonds can sometimes make being plain old friends way more complicated).

I’ve also lost a few friends this year. That’s been sad, but a part of life. It’s not just that people change, but also that sometimes what we need from friendship changes as well. A close friend chose to walk away from me this year. I was sorry to see her go, but I do understand that she did what was best for her. Her life is following new paths where I just don’t fit anymore. That’s okay. You don’t have to be friends forever in order to have been blessed to know each other.
There’s an old email that talks of friendships lasting SEASONS or LIFETIMES. I’d say it’s more a case of friendships being like flowering plants. Some plants flower that year.. and then die – SEASONAL. Some plants bloom over and over – LIFETIME.

Both are beautiful and both are significant. We don’t think one flower is superior to another simply based on how long it flowers for – we just rate them as special because of how beautiful they are while in flower – friendships are just the same.

Enjoy them while they bloom and always be grateful for their beauty – no matter how long you get to have that beauty in your life. It doesn’t matter how long they last.