Posted tagged ‘Christmas’
It’s finally that time of year when we take a step back and reflect on all that has transpired over the past 365 or so days.
For me, it has been a roller-coaster year of both highs and lows, culminating with Christmas this weekend and New Years the following. I for one am looking forward to the holidays and I know my kids are as well. They are going to be spoiled for sure this year!
You may have been aware of my notable absence this year. I know that I mentioned that things were going on in my personal life which kept me away from blogging for days and weeks at a time. Personally, I’ve gone through a lot this year. Most of which I have not expressed outwardly until today. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but I think it’s time for some closure.
Until this summer, my wife and I were expecting our 3rd child between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. We had been trying for more than two years and we were very excited. Unfortunately, on a trip to the doctor entering the 2nd trimester, the baby’s heartbeat became faint and we were told that the baby was not going to survive. Sadly, ten days later, my wife lost the baby. I was on a business trip at the time, and learned of this news when I returned home. Needless to say, we were devastated.
This, combined with the loss of a number of close relatives and other circumstances, sent me into what can only be described as a deep depression. Only recently have I found myself starting to move on to happier times. As part of our annual tradition of purchasing holiday ornaments, we bought one for our little “walnut” so that he’ll always be with us at the holidays.
I’ve tried to maintain “The Korner” as often as I can, but just haven’t had the desire that I used to. This will hopefully change as we move into 2012. There’s so much great news to share (as well as the crazy and quirky stories) and as you know, I love to post and love reading all of your comments.
For now, I’m preparing for some time with the family over the holidays to “live again” and make sure that I’m spoiling everyone as much as I should! They deserve it and I love to do it!
Treasure all the time you have with those you love. You don’t know how much time you have so make the best of every minute!
Happy Holidays everyone!
Someone caught me in my natural state!!!
The answer is “Yes” if you ask Rev. C. Thomas Anderson, a senior pastor of the Living Word Bible Church in Mesa, Arizona, who believes that Jesus wasn’t as poor as most believe.
Anderson says Jesus couldn’t have been poor because he received lucrative gifts — gold, frankincense and myrrh — at birth. Jesus had to be wealthy because the Roman soldiers who crucified him gambled for his expensive undergarments. Even Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, lived and traveled in style, he says.
“Mary and Joseph took a Cadillac to get to Bethlehem because the finest transportation of their day was a donkey,” says Anderson. “Poor people ate their donkey. Only the wealthy used it as transportation.”
Many Christians see Jesus as the poor, itinerant preacher who had “no place to lay his head.” But as Christians gather around the globe this year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, another group of Christians are insisting that Jesus’ beginnings weren’t so humble.
They say that Jesus was never poor — and neither should his followers be. Their claim is embedded in the doctrine known as the prosperity gospel, which holds that God rewards the faithful with financial prosperity and spiritual gifts.
A couple whose vehicle got stuck in the snow on a Christmas tree hunt in the mountains near the Oregon-California border have returned after going missing for two days.
From the Associated Press:
The Jackson County sheriff’s office says Jennifer and Keith Lee of Medford were able to free their all-wheel drive Subaru by placing rocks under the wheels. They called deputies after they reached a small town near home.
Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Rowland says the couple called as soon as they got a cell phone signal after hearing a massive search for them had begun.
Rowland says the couple had actually traveled across the border into California, away from the initial search area.
Shoppers still have a lot of holiday shopping to do — the typical consumer has finished 47%, compared with 53% this time last year, according to an NRF survey. NRF President Tracy Mullin said a late Thanksgiving might be to blame. “Retailers will try to manage the rush of last-minute shoppers with expanded hours, extra employees to stock shelves, and a lot of sales and promotions,” Mullin said.
With just over a week to go until Christmas, consumers have completed less than half of their holiday shopping – and millions have not even started yet, according to a report released Tuesday.
The procrastination comes as retail industry experts say a worsening economy and mounting job losses mean households will likely buy fewer gifts this year and possibly for fewer people.
According to the National Retail Foundation’s “Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions” survey, holiday shoppers said they had finished 47% of their gift shopping by the second week of December, which is a significant drop from the 53% of gift purchases they had completed at the same time last year.
Only 8% of respondents said their shopping is complete, and more than 41 million people have not even begun their holiday shopping.
The big procrastinators were men and 35-to-44 year-olds – 21% of each group said they haven’t started their shopping.
The NRF cited this year’s shortened shopping season as a likely culprit. There are five fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year than there were last year.
The shortened shopping season “means that the holidays have snuck up on many of us,” NRF president Tracy Mullin said in a written statement. “Retailers will try to manage the rush of last-minute shoppers with expanded hours, extra employees to stock shelves, and a lot of sales and promotions.”
Alongside a Nativity scene at the Legislative Building in Olympia, Washington, a sign put up by an atheist group is celebrating the winter solstice. But it’s the rest of the sign that has some residents and Christian organizations calling atheists “Scrooges” for attacking the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
From the Seattle Times:
A protest, several counter-signs and a news conference are the latest in a flurry of activity spurred by a sign put up Monday by an atheist group in the Capitol building in Olympia.
Members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group of atheists and agnostics, put up the sign that says, in part: “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” It was partly a response to a Nativity scene put up nearby by a private citizen.
Steve Wilson, 28, of Federal Way, is organizing a protest for 2 p.m. Sunday on the Capitol steps.
Wilson, who attends the nondenominational Christian Faith Center, said atheists have a right to air their views but that the sign they put up is disparaging to people of all faiths.
His plan is to hold “a pro-faith rally rather than an anti-atheist” demonstration, he said. “We just want to go show our support for people of faith. We don’t want any hate. We want to display a message of God’s love for all people.”
On Friday, Pastor Ken Hutcherson of Redmond’s Antioch Bible Church, plans to hold a news conference at the Capitol to unveil his own sign, which says, in part: “There is one God…. Atheism is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
Earlier Thursday, two Olympia residents put up a “Statement of Christmas” sign, said Steve Valandra, spokesman for the Department of General Administration, which maintains the Capitol grounds.
Valandra said since Wednesday, his office has handled more than 300 calls on the issue — most from out of state, and that he anticipates getting more requests for other displays.
Earlier this week, Gov. Christine Gregoire’s office was inundated with calls — about 200 an hour, a spokesperson said, after Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly urged viewers to call to protest.
“Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds,” the sign says in part.
Dan Barker, a former evangelical preacher who now heads up the atheist and agnostic Freedom From Religion Foundation, said it was important for atheists to see their viewpoints validated alongside everyone else’s.
Barker said the display is especially important given that 25 percent of Washington state residents are unaffiliated with religion or do not believe in God. (A recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found 23 percent of Washingtonians said they were unaffiliated with a religion and 7 percent said they didn’t believe in God.)
“It’s not that we are trying to coerce anyone; in a way our sign is a signal of protest,” Barker said. “If there can be a Nativity scene saying that we are all going to hell if we don’t bow down to Jesus, we should be at the table to share our views.”
He said if anything, it’s the Nativity scene that is the intrusion.
“Most people think December is for Christians and view our signs as an intrusion, when actually it’s the other way around,” he said. “People have been celebrating the winter solstice long before Christmas. We see Christianity as the intruder, trying to steal the holiday from all of us humans.”
The scene in Washington state is not unfamiliar. Barker has had signs in Madison, Wisconsin, for 13 years. The placard is often turned around so the message can’t be seen, and one year, someone threw acid on it, forcing the group to encase it in Plexiglas.
According to a survey from SnagAJob.com, retail stores plan to hire 33% fewer seasonal employees this year because of the sluggish economy. Many stores also started hiring earlier this year in September or October. “There are some opportunities out there, but there certainly aren’t going to be as many,” said Daniel Butler, a vice president with the National Retail Federation.
Nick Sciscione was standing in line at one of his favorite clothing stores when a cashier asked him if he would like to apply for a job.
With winter break approaching, it seemed like a good idea to Sciscione, an 18-year-old college sophomore who wanted to make some extra cash to spend on essentials like gas, clothes and parking tickets.
Sciscione took an application home, but decided that even though he had a solid offer from the store, he wanted to look for a better opportunity. He picked up an application from another clothing store at the Menlo Park Mall in Edison, New Jersey. This weekend he plans to look at other places to work between semesters.
“I wouldn’t limit my search to just retail,” said Sciscione, a dance major, adding that he thought he could pick up some hours teaching dance classes.
People like Sciscione might be wise to take the sure thing, said Daniel Butler, a vice president with the National Retail Federation. There are two things working against them: They are a little behind the curve in starting their search, and they will find that many retailers are curtailing the number of seasonal workers they will hire.
The federation forecasts that holiday sales will grow this year by 2.2 percent. The average increase for the past 10 years has been 4.4 percent.
A Web site that tracks hourly workers says managers who are adding staff for the holidays will hire fewer workers, and the number of stores hiring no additional help is increasing.
In a survey commissioned by SnagAJob.com, managers responsible for hiring said they would be bringing on about 33 percent fewer seasonal workers and 20 percent fewer hourly workers for the holidays.
Of 1,006 managers who responded to the survey, 57 percent said they will hire no additional help, 8 percentage points higher than last season.
Butler, who worked in retail for 26 years, said a majority of employers started their seasonal hiring in September or October.
“There are some opportunities out there, but there certainly aren’t going to be as many,” he said. “What happens now with many students is that with their class schedules, they don’t get out in time to be able to work at most stores in retail — unless it is a place they have worked before.”
Butler said that as a hiring manager, when he figured out his seasonal staffing plans, he would first think of who had been on staff and who he knew could come back for the holidays — when many retailers do a huge percentage of their yearly business.
Managers like to bring back such “floaters,” Butler said, because they already know the merchandise and don’t require any training. It’s important to identify during the summer those workers who can come back during November and December so it makes other elements of seasonal planning easier, he said.