Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Fairy Rath

The Fairy Rath

THE ancient rath, or fort, or liss, generally enclosed about half an acre, and had two or more ramparts, formed by the heads of the tribe for defense. But when the race of the chieftains died out, then the Sidhe crowded into the forts, and there held their councils and revels and dances; and if a man put his ear close to time ground at night he could hear the sweet fairy music rising up from under the earth.
The rath ever after is sacred to the fairies, and no mortal is allowed to cut down a tree that grows on it, or to carry away a stone. Dangerous above all would it be to build on a fairy rath. If a man attempted such a rash act, the fairies would put a blast on his eyes, or give him a crooked mouth for no human hand should dare to touch their ancient dancing grounds.
It is not right, the people say, to sing or whistle at night that old air, "The pretty girl milking her cow; "for it is a fairy tune, and the fairies will not suffer a mortal to sing their music while they are dancing on the grass. But if a person sleeps on the rath the music will enter into his soul, and when he awakes he may sing the air he has heard in his dreams.
In this way the bards learned their songs, and they were skilled musicians, and touched the harp with a master hand, so that time fairies often gathered round to listen, though invisible to mortal eyes.

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Happiness is...

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Fairy Tree

Source: via Tami on Pinterest

'Twas the Day after Christmas

'Twas The Day After Christmas 
David Frank

'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house 
Children sat slack-jawed, bored on the couch.

Wrappings and toys littered the floor, 
An incredible mess that I did abhor.

With Mom in her robe and I in my jeans, 
We waded in to get the place clean.

When suddenly the doorbell: it started to clatter, 
I sprang to the Security-View to check out the matter.

The new-fallen snow, now blackened with soot, 
Was trampled and icy and treacherous to foot.

But suddenly in view, did I gasp and pant: 
An unhappy bill collector and eight tiny accountants.

The door flew open and in they came, 
Stern-looking men with bills in my name.

On Discover, on Visa, on American Express, 
On Mastercard too, I sadly confess, 
Right to my limits, then beyond my net worth, 
OUer the top I had charged, in a frenzy of mirth.

The black-suited men, so somber, so strict, 
I wondered why me that they had first picked.

They stared at me with a look I couldn't miss, 
That said "Buddy, when are you for paying for this?"

I shrugged my shoulders, but then I grew bolder, 
Went to the cabinet and pulled out a folder.

"As you can see," I said with a smile, 
"It's bankruptcy that I'll have to file!" 
And with a swoop of my arm, my middle digit extended 
I threw the bills in the fire: the matter had ended.

The scent of burnt ash came to my nose, 
As up the chimney my credit-worthiness rose.

Without another word they turned and walked out, 
Got into their limos, but one gave a shout: 
"You may think that's the answer to all of your fears, 
But it's nothing you'll charge for at least seven years!

Monday, 24 December 2012

The Night before Christmas

by Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Smile, it's almost Christmas!

The Miracle of Poinsettia!


At Christmas in Mexico, most houses display the Poinsettia. Just as we have Holly, Misletoe and the Christmas Tree, the Mexicans have the poinsettia. They believe that the beautiful plant brings a blessing that will last all year. The tradition has existed since 1834 when a miracle occurred in a tiny village.
In those days it was customary for people in the villages to take gifts to the Baby Jesus at Christmas Eve. Little Maria, a poor peasant girl had no gift, but she did so want to enter the church and see the Baby Jesus in His crib.
She stood outside, watching others as they entered, carrying their gifts. Some took food, some took crochet and lacework. Others carried flowers. But little Maria had nothing. One lady passed her with a huge bundle of flowers in her arms. As she walked by, a leaf fell from the enormous bunch and landed at Maria’s feet. She picked it up and thought, “I will take this leaf”.
Others saw Maria pick up the leaf and smiled as she carefully wrapped it in her small handkerchief. And then, clutching her tiny gift, Maria entered the church. She took her place at the end of the line of people waiting to make their offerings. Then at last, it was Maria’s turn. She stretched out her arm and carefully opened her fingers to place the leaf on the altar in front of the crib.
There was a gasp from the adults who had seen Maria fold the leaf into her tiny handkerchief. For as her fingers separated, it was seen that the little peasant girl was now holding a beautiful flower. The miraculous bloom was formed like a star with brilliant scarlet leaves
Word of the miracle spread quickly through the church and people fell to their knees. The gift of the Poinsettia came to be known as “The Flower of the Holy Night”.

Busy busy busy!

But Christmas tale number 23 is up next!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Legend of the Mistletoe

The Legend Of The Mistletoe

Mistletoe is one of the most famous symbols of Christmas and also the most recognizable; it is one of the most sacred and magical plants in Christian folklore. The sprigs of this plant are extensively used in Christmas decorations and it is also believed that the plant can protect the house from lightening and fire. This is why many people also leave the sprigs all the year round. There is also a traditional belief that mistletoe is a plant of peace and that a kiss under this plant ensures undying love and friendship. The belief that no lady standing under decorated mistletoe can refuse to be kissed, is obviously a major attraction for young men. And a kiss under mistletoe is often interpreted as a proposal of marriage. Though most of these beliefs and superstitions are of pagan significance, they are still prevalent in all their glory; the legend of mistletoe being a widely celebrated one.

The Legend
The mystical power of mistletoe, and the tradition of kissing under this plant, owes its origin to the legend of Goddess Frigga and her son Balder. Frigga was the Goddess of Love and her son, Balder, was the God of the Summer Sun. Once, Balder dreamt of his death. He was obviously worried and told his mother about the strange dream. Frigga was worried not only for the life of her son but also for the life on Earth because she knew that without Balder, all life on Earth would come to an end. Thus, she did her utmost to avoid such a mishap by going everywhere and appealing to every being in air, water, fire and earth, to promise her that they would never harm her son. She was promised the safety of her son by every animal and plant under and above the Earth.

However, Loki, the God of Evil, who was an enemy of Balder and always had evil designs in his mind, was aware that there was one plant that Frigga had overlooked. It grew on apple and oak trees and was known as Mistletoe. Thus, Loki made an arrow and placed a sprig of this plant at its tip. He then beguiled Hoder, the blind brother of Balder and the God of Winter, and made him shoot this arrow at Balder. Balder immediately died and everybody was worried as the Earth turned cold and life became dreary. For the next three days, every creature tried to bring Balder back to life but he was revived only by Frigga and with the help of mistletoe. Her tears on the plant became pearly white berries and she blessed it such that anyone who stands under the mistletoe would never be harmed and would be entitled to a kiss as a token of love.

Experiences of the Wise Men

Legend of the Experiences of The Wise Men

Melchior, the King of Ind, Balthazar, the King of Chaldea and Jasper, the King of Jasper were glad to be informed of the sacred Christmas Star by their astronomers. They lived thousands of miles away, yet they saw the Star that was prophesized about, at the same time. Since they knew that Star was there to inform them about the newborn King and Lord of Jews, they decided to go and search for Him and worship Him. Unbeknownst to each other at the time, they set out on their path with rich gifts for the baby and trains of mules, camels and horses, accompanied by several people to assist them during the journey.

The Star acted as a faithful guide and shone brightly all the way for each of the Kings and his people. It even stopped where they halted and started moving again when they wanted to continue their journey. There was peace throughout the world at the time of Christ's birth, so the gates of the cities and towns were readily opened for the new visitors. The royal appearance of the Three Wise Men was enough to win them respect, awe and admiration of the people on the way. Star showed them the easiest way to Bethlehem as they meandered over hills, waters, valleys, plains and forests without much difficulty. It was only at Jerusalem, where the clouds hid their divine Star; Kings met and greeted each other with great reverence and joy and learned that they had common pursuit. So, they decided to travel together for rest of the way.

They inquired in Jerusalem about the whereabouts of the Christ, as the Star was lost to them. Herod was alarmed on hearing of the three royal personages arriving in his kingdom and inquiring about the newborn King of Jews. He invited them to his palace and guided them to Bethlehem, requesting them to contact him when they have found the Child. The Three Wise Men set out again. Once they were out of Jerusalem, the Star again appeared and they followed it to Bethlehem. Its brightness increased as they reached the Holy Child and at the sixth hour of the day, they reached Bethlehem. However, they were not little surprised when the Star stood light in all its glory and brightness over a lowly stable. The radiance of the divine Star made it look like a second Sun in the sky.

First, Melchior went in the stable. He was an old man and found a wise old man of his age full of knowledge there. Balthazar, the middle-aged man, entered the stable to find a man of his own age who looked quite calm and peaceful meditating there. Jasper, the youngest of the three, found a man in his youth full of passion inside the stable. Then, they entered together to find Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus and they wept with joy and reverence. They came with great gifts but the sight of the Holy Child so awed them that they gifted Him the first gifts that came in their hands from the treasure.

Melchior drew out a round apple of gold and thirty gilt pennies; Balthazar offered incense and Jasper offered myrrh to the Child. They traveled back to their kingdoms together without going back to Herod, heeding the advice of the angel they dreamt that night. At the Hill of Vaws in Ind, they made a fair chapel to worship the Child and decided that it was to be the place of their burial. Then, they took leave of each other and went to their own kingdoms with gladness in their hearts.

Christmas tale 21 & 22

All caught up after the two tales up next!

Have Heart

Friday, 21 December 2012

A Christmas Tale

A Christmas Tale
Here is a contribution from a member of 'Panikatak', a very entertaining folk band who regularly play at the South Lakeland Storytelling Club. They write a lot of their own material and here is Ian Birket's contribution to the Christmas meeting on December, 2nd. 2003.


By Ian Birket (Panikatak).

Santa was cross, he'd had a bad day.
His elves were on strike for more overtime pay.
Thay'd all been on strike since the end of the 'fall'
They wanted a 'National Elf Service' for all.

And Donner and Dancer and Cupid and Blitzen
had gone of in a 'hoof' since early last Whitsun'.
His lights wouldn't flash and his bells wouldn't ring
and his Jing wouldn't Jang and his Jang wouldn't Jing.

He'd asked Mrs. Claus for the weather forecast
and wished Christmas present would become Christmas past.
Global warming has meant there'll be no snow this year,
so she said, "Sorry my luv, there will just be 'rain dear!"

On top of it all, he'd the presents to sort
and political correctness had made the task fraught.
No dolls for the girls or guns for the boys,
no fireworks that bang or pollute with their noise.

No harm to their teeth from a sweet or a lolly.
Nothing sexist or racial, like a doll or a Golly!
No books on religion or to do with the body,
no 'Famous Five' and nothing on 'Noddy'!

No caffeine filled drinks to cause tension and stress.
No glue and no paint, because of the mess.
No jigsaws with pieces that some kid could choke on
and nothing too fragile that would only get 'broke-on'.

No feathers or fur and nothing of leather.
Nothing too simple and nothing too clever.
Nothing too violent and nothing too scary.
Nothing Royalist or 'Gay', not a Queen or a 'Fairy'!

Nothing with e-numbers or colourings that might
bring them out in a rash or be hyperactive all night.
No balls and no bats which could injure or bruise
and nothing with bits they were certain to lose.

No marbles or beads that a small child could fit
up its nose, in its ears or unmentionable bit.
And trees must be from a sustainable source
and the lights must be energy saving, of course!

And gone were the days when all they would wish
was an apple, an orange and a wooden goldfish.
Now a video, computer and color TV
was what they all asked for when they sat on your knee.

And he was tired and fed up of appearing so jolly
and he knew what he'd like them to do with their holly!
And he was sick of clambering about on those roofs
now he wasn't as nimble as he was in his 'yoof'.

And he hated the folks who said, "No pets at all,
a puppy's for life not for Christmas", they call.
Well it's OK for them with their fine protestations
but what can I do with five thousand Dalmations?!!

In spite of it all, at the end of the night
he'll have managed to give every child something right.
And he'll sit by the fire with a big jug of beer
and wish you all, "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!"

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree

There is a Christmas custom here which pleased and interested me. The children make little presents to their parents, and to each other; and the parents to the children. For three or four months before Christmas the girls are all busy; and the boys save up their pocket money, to make or purchase these presents. What the present is to be is cautiously kept secret, and the girls have a world of contrivances to conceal it -- such as working when they are out on visits, and the others are not with them; getting up in the morning before daylight; and the like. then, on the evening before Christmas day, one of the parlours is lighted up by the children, into which the parents must not go. A great yew bough is fastened on the table at a little distance from the wall, a multitude of little tapers are fastened in the bough, but so as not to catch it till they are nearly burnt out, and coloured paper hangs and flutters from the twings. Under this bough, the children lay out in great order the presents they mean for their parents, still concealing in their pockets what they intend for each other. Then the parents are introduced, and each presents his little gift, and then bring out the rest one by one from their pockets, and present them with kisses and embraces. Where I witnessed this scene there were eight or nine children, and the eldest daughter and the mother wept aloud for joy and tenderness; and the tears ran down the face of the father, and he clasped all his children so tight to his breast, it seemed as if he did it to stifle the sob that was rising within him. I was very much affected. The shadow of the bough and its appendages on the wall, and arching over on the ceiling, made a pretty picture, and then the raptures of the very little ones, when at last the twings and their needles began to take fire and snap! -- Oh, it was a delight for them! On the next day, in the great parlour, the parents lay out on the table the presents for the children; a scene of more sober joy success, as on this day, after an old custom, the mother says privately to each of her daughters, and the father to his sons, that which he has observed most praiseworthy, and that which was most faulty in their conduct. Formerly, and still in all the smaller towns and villages throughout North Germany, these presents were sent by all the parents to some one fellow, who in high buskins, a white robe, a mask, and an enormous flax wig, personate Knecht Rupert, the servant Rupert. On Christmas night he goes round to every house, and says that Jesus Christ his master sent him thither, the parents and elder children receive him with great pomp of reverence, while the little ones are most terribly frightened. He then inquires for the children, and, according to the character which he hears from the parent, he gives them the intended presents, as if they came out of heaven from Jesus Christ. Or, if they should have been bad children, he gives the parents a rod, and in the name of his master recommends them to use it frequently. About seven or eight years old the children are let into the secret, and it is curious to observe how faithfully they keep it.

Christmas tales 19 & 20

Right, tomorrow we'll be caught up to the calendar! 

Why remain in the dark?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Story of Panettone

The Story of Panettone
This story was told by Heather Edwards at The South Lakeland Storytelling Club on December 2nd. 2003. She attributed the tale to Tomie dePaola in a book entitled 'Tony's Bread'. Having done a little research myself, I haven't been able to find the book to which Heather refers, but have discovered many other versions of the story. I liked Heather's telling and with her permission, offer it to you.


Once, in a little village in the hills above Milan, there was a baker named Antonio and a very good baker he was too. He made bread for all the people in the village. Good coarse country bread that kept the villagers from going hungry when they worked in the fields, ploughing and tending the grapes.
Now the baker was a widower and he had one daughter a beautiful girl, but spoilt. Because her father was so very fond of her, he wouldn’t let her do any work. Not in the bakery or anywhere else. He wouldn’t even allow her to help with the housework. All poor Seraphina had to do each day was sit in her window and watch the world go by.
She spent most of her time looking out into the street and the market square - and eating sweets! So she wasn’t only spoilt and bored, if truth were told, she was getting sadly fat!
One day in November, not long before Christmas, there was great excitement as a group of young huntsmen rode into the village looking for something to eat and drink. As Seraphina leaned out of her window, her eyes met those of one of the young men and 'pouf!' it was love at first sight!
Luckily it was love at first sight for the young man as well and he gave her a big wink! He then sat down to talk to the old ladies who are always to be found in Italian village squares. He wanted to find out about the lovely lady in the window. They in their turn were eager to know who he was. Tt turned out the young man was called Angelo. He was the son of the Duke of Milan and a very important person. Between them, Angelo and the old ladies hatched a plot so that Seraphina and Angelo could meet.
Angelo called for ink and paper and wrote two letters, one to Antonio and one to his daughter Seraphina. This is what they said. To Seraphina he wrote,

"Dear Seraphina, I love you. Soon we will meet and I will hold you in my arms".

To Antonio he wrote,

"Dear Antonio, I like your bread. Please meet me at the Market Square after Mass tomorrow. I have a plan that will make you rich and famous!"

He asked the old ladies to deliver the letters. Next day they all met and Angelo told Antonio of his plan to set him up in a bakery in Milan and for him to marry Seraphina. Both Seraphina and Antonio thought that this was a good idea and the next day they left for Milan.
Once in Milan, Antonio and Seraphina spent the day going round the bakeries of the great city. They tasted Torte, Pane and Biscotti and found them delicious. The biscuits were sweet and crisp and the bread soft and white, and scattered with wonderful seeds.
While they walked and nibbled at the bread, Antonio became more and more sad. At the end of the day he went to Angelo and said, "I cannot make bread here, my bread is good bread but it is bread for the workers in the hills. Your friends would not buy my bread". "Oh", said Seraphina, "if only you could make bread as sweet and rich as these dried fruits and candies". "Yes", said Angelo, "and as rich and sweet as this punch fortified with eggs and milk and honey". "THAT’S IT!" said Antonio, "I'll make a bread that tastes like all of these things!". And soon Seraphina and her father departed back to their village with wagonloads of the biggest eggs the sweetest honey and the plumpest raisins and fruit.
All the next day Antonio experimented and muttered to himself in his bakery and at the end of the afternoon, he put all the dough into bowls to rise overnight. The next day he filled every baking tray and tin in the bakery with the dough. There was still some dough left over so he put what was left into clean flowerpots and baked it in them.
Soon the whole village was filled with the delicious smell of baking bread. Antonio, Seraphina and the people of the village, plus Angelo (who had ridden up from Milan), could hardly wait for the bread to be cool enough to be cut and tasted. At last Antonio took his first bite and everyone waited with bated breath, "YES!" he shouted, and soon everyone was munching and laughing. And then Angelo loaded up the cart and took what was left back to Milan.

Everyone in the village waited and within the week, a cartload of new supplies came up from Angelo with a note, "My friends loved your bread and please can you make lots more? Also, make it all in flowerpot shapes because my friends liked that best. Bring it to Milan as soon as possible and Seraphina and I will be married the next day".
As soon as he could, Antonio with Seraphina set off for Milan with lots of the new bread. As they approached the gates of the city, Antonio could hear the bells ringing and he thought it was because it was Christmas Eve, but as he abecame nearer, he could hear cheers and the people calling "Toni, Tonio we love your bread, 'Pane', Panne, Panettone".
And that’s why the Italians always eat Panettone, 'Tony’s Bread', at Christmas and why the best Panettone comes from Milan.

A True Christmas Story

A True Christmas Story
Here is a fairly well known tale. I think it is worth re-telling. It conveys a valuable message; No matter how tough things are, don't give up. You just don't know what lies around the corner.....!


Robert May was a short man, barely five feet in height. He was born in the early part of the last century, that is to say, the nineteen hundreds.
Bullied at school, he was ridiculed and humiliated by other children because he was smaller than other boys of the same age. Even as he grew up, he was often mistaken for someone’s little brother.
When he left college he became employed as a copywriter with Montgomery Ward, the big Chicago mail order house. He married and in due course, his wife presented him with a daughter. Then when his little daughter was two years old, tragedy struck; his wife was diagnosed with a debilitating disease. She became bedridden and remained so until she died. Nearly everything he earned went on medication and doctor’s bills. Money was short and life was hard.
One evening in early December of 1938 and two years into his wife’s illness, his four-year-old daughter climbed onto his knee and asked, “Daddy, why isn’t Mummy like everybody else’s mummy?” It was a simple question, asked with childlike curiosity. But it struck a personal chord with Robert May.
His mind flashed back to his own childhood. He had often posed a similar question, “Why can’t I be tall, like the other kids?” The stigma attached to those who are different is hard to bear. Groping for something to say to give comfort to his daughter, he began to tell her a story. It was about someone else who was different, ridiculed, humiliated and excluded because of the difference.
Bob told the story in a humorous way, making it up as he went along; in the way that many fathers often do. His daughter laughed, giggled and clapped her hands as the misfit finally triumphed at the end. She then made him start all over again from the beginning and every night after that he had to repeat the story before she would go to sleep.
Because he had no money for fancy presents, Robert decided that he would put the story into book form. He had some artistic talent and he created illustrations. This was to be his daughter’s Christmas present. The book of the story that she loved so much. He converted the story into a poem.
On the night before Christmas Eve, he was persuaded to attend his office Christmas Party. He took the poem along and showed it to a colleague. The colleague was impressed and insisted that Robert read his poem aloud to everyone else at the party. Somewhat embarrassed by the attention, he took the small hand written volume from his pocket and began to read. At first the noisy group listened in laughter and amusement. But then became silent and after he finished, they broke into spontaneous applause.
Later, and feeling quite pleased with himself, he went home, wrapped the book in Christmas wrapping and placed it under the modest Christmas tree. To say that his daughter was pleased with her present would be an understatement. She loved it!
When Robert returned to work after the Holiday, he was summoned to the office of his head of department. He wanted to talk to Bob about his poem. It seemed that word had got out about his reading at the Christmas party. The Head of Marketing was looking for a promotional tool and wondered if Robert would be interested in having his poem published.
The following year, 1939, printed copies of the book were given to every child who visited the department stores of Montgomery Ward and it eventually became an international best seller, making Robert a rich man. His wife had unfortunately died during this time, but he was able to move from the small apartment and buy a big house. He was at last able to provide handsomely for his growing daughter.
The story is not quite over. In 1947, songwriter Johnny Marks used the theme of Robert’s poem for a song. He showed the song to a famous film star of the day, Gene Autry, ‘The Singing Cowboy’. Autry recorded the song and it became a world-wide number one hit. You may just remember it. The first line goes....”Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose.....!”

Christmas tales 17 & 18

Almost caught up to the calendar! Two tales up soon!

Vocation: find yourself

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Tale of the Christmas Tree Fairy

By Tim brooks and Mick Fall, 1972.

I’ll tell you an old Christmas story,
as we sit round the log fire at night.
Why each Christmas tree has its fairy on top
and why Santa’s beard is so white.

It happened one winter in England,
on a dark Christmas Eve long ago
There was Santa out doing his rounds
and playing on t’ sledge in t’ snow.

He were taking all t’ presents t’ t’ houses
and then, when that job were done,
he went round once again with his fairies
putting Christmas Trees in every one.

Now just when he thought he might finish
an’ ‘t’ last house were comin' in sight.
He went to fetch more trees off t’ toboggan,
And he found he were just, four trees light.

This discovery quite upset Santa,
So he gave to his reindeer a shout (whoa up!)
And he sent for his Christmas Tree fairy
to chastise her for leaving them out.

"Eeee by gum, tha’s a daft little fairy.
Tha’s daft as a fairy could be.
When you loaded the sledge up this evening
Tha must‘ve missed off some o’ trees".

“Oh Sod it!” replied t’ little fairy.
Which was really quite un-fairy like,
“I’ll ‘ave fer t’ go back t’ factory.”
And with that she got on her bike.

“Hold on a minute,” cried Santa
“There’s a way that won’t let yer forget
Fetch one tree back fer each finger
On ‘t right ‘and – you’ll get it right yet”

Then off like a shot went our fairy.
Much faster than t’ light from ‘t sun
‘Cause Einstein hadn’t been invented
and she wasn’t to know it weren’t done.

Now if you could ‘ave watched ‘t little fairy
There was trouble to come, you could tell.
For when she were counting her fingers,
She added her thumb in as well.

Now Santa, he waited for hours
‘Till his patience were running quite dry
When at last he saw t’ fairy peddling
For all she was worth through t’ sky

But then, as the fairy got nearer,
Santa’s anger it grew more and more.
He could tell by the load she was bearing,
that she’d fetched him five trees, not four.

Then Santa got redder and redder,
started roaring with all of his might.
Till the glow from his nose outshone Rudolph’s
and his beard, it began to turn white.

“Why, tha’s stupid”, he yelled at the fairy,
“Tha’s four times as thick as I’d thought.
Now go and put t’ trees in t’ houses
And when tha’s finished - report.”

So straightway off went the fairy,
and as soon as she’d finished, t’ last place
She brought fifth tree back to Santa
And waved it in front of his face.

“Whatever shall I do with this one?”
Our innocent fairy enquired,
So Santa, he upped and he told her
‘Cause by now he were feeling quite tired.

The fairy, she looked up at Santa
And her face it went a mite red
But then, being the good little fairy she was
She upped and she did as he said.

So now, at the end of my story
You’ll see why to this very night,
each Christmas Tree has a fairy on top
And old Santa’s beard is quite white.

The moral, should ever you want one
is simple – when doing your sums
If you really must count on your fingers,
Don’t forget to remember your thumbs.

The Elves and the Shoemaker

The Elves and the Shoemaker 

Once upon a time there was a poor shoemaker. He made excellent shoes and worked quite diligently, but even so he could not earn enough to support himself and his family. He became so poor that he could not even afford to buy the leather he needed to make shoes; finally he had only enough to make one last pair. He cut them out with great care and put the pieces on his workbench, so that he could sew them together the following morning. Now I wonder," he sighed, "will I ever make another pair of shoes? Once I've sold this pair, I shall need all the money to buy food for my family. I will not be able to buy any new leather.

That night, the shoemaker went to bed a sad and distraught man.

The next morning, he awoke early and went down to his workshop. On his bench he found an exquisite pair of shoes! They had small and even stitches, formed so perfectly that he knew he couldn't have produced a better pair himself. Upon close examination, the shoes proved to be from the very pieces of leather he had set out the night before. He immediately put the fine pair of shoes in the window of his shop and drew back the blinds.

Who in the world could've done this great service for me?" he asked himself. Even before he could make up an answer, a rich man strode into his shop and bought the shoes-- and for a fancy price.

The shoemaker was ecstatic; he immediately went out and purchased plenty of food for his family--and some more leather. That afternoon he cut out two pairs of shoes and, just as before, laid all the pieces on the bench so that he could sew them the next day. Then he went upstairs to enjoy the good meal with his family.

My goodness!" he cried the next morning when he found two pairs of beautifully finished shoes on his workbench. "Who could make such fine shoes--and so quickly?" He put them in his shop window, and before long some wealthy people came in and paid a great deal of money for them. The happy shoemaker went right out and bought even more leather.

For weeks, and then months, this continued. Whether the shoemaker cut two pairs or four pairs, the fine new shoes were always ready in the morning. Soon his small shop was crowded with customers. He cut out many types of shoes: stiff boots lined with fur, delicate slippers for dancers, walking shoes for ladies, tiny shoes for children. Soon his shoes had bows and laces and buckles of fine silver. The little shop prospered as never before, and it's proprietor was soon a rich man himself. His family wanted for nothing.

As the shoemaker and his wife sat by the fire one night, he said, "One of these days, I shall have to learn who has been helping us."

We could hide behind the cupboard in your workroom," she said. "That way, we could find out just who your helpers are." And that was just what they did. That evening, when the clock struck twelve, the shoemaker and his wife heard a noise. Two tiny men, each with a bag of tools, were squeezing beneath a crack under the door. Oddest of all the two elves were stark naked!

The two men clambered onto the workbench and began working. Their little hands stitched and their little hammers tapped ceaselessly the whole night through.

They are so small! And they make such beautiful shoes in no time at all!" the shoemaker whispered to his wife as the dawn rose. (Indeed the elves were about the size of his own needles.)

Quiet!" his wife answered. "See how they are cleaning up now." And in a instant the two elves has disappeared beneath the door.

The next day, the shoemaker's wife said, "Those little elves have done so much good for us. Since it is nearly Christmas, we should make some gifts for them."

"Yes!" cried the shoemaker. "I'll make some boots that will fit them, and you make some clothes." They worked until dawn. On Christmas Eve the presents were laid out upon the workbench: two tiny jackets, two pairs of trousers, and two little woolen caps. They also left out a plate of good things to eat and drink. Then they hid once again behind the cupboard and waited to see what would happen.

Just as before, the elves appeared at the stroke of midnight. They jumped onto the bench to begin their work, but when they saw all the presents they began to laugh and shout with joy. They tried on all the clothes, then helped themselves to the food and drink. Then they jumped down and danced excitedly around the workroom, and disappeared beneath the door.

After Christmas, the shoemaker cut out his leather as he always had--but the two elves never returned. "I believe they have heard us whispering," his wife said. "Elves are so very shy when it comes to people, you know."

"I know I will miss their help," the shoemaker said, "but we will manage. The shop is always so busy now. But my stitches will never be as tight and small as theirs!"

The shoemaker did indeed continue to prosper, but he and his family always remembered the good elves who had helped them during the hard times. And each and every Christmas Eve from that year onward, they gathered around the fire to drink a toast to their tiny friends.

Christmas tales 15 & 16

Still catching up to the calendar!

Up soon!

Rainbow Inspiration

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Santa's Little Secret

 (Not really for children, this one! Be warned!)

Santa’s Little Secret.

Santa Claus was almost finished. He had travelled several times around the world, delivering his gifts to the many millions of children who inhabit the Earth.

He smiled as he thought about the children. They it was who sustained him through the night. He drew strength from each and every child whom he visited. It was a special strength that enabled him to begin his preparations for the next year immediately after each Christmas.

This year was no different, and now he was nearly done. He placed the toys into the pillowcase at the foot of the bed. Then he quietly moved to look at the child, innocently sleeping.

He gently uncovered the little boy’s head, leaned over and sank his teeth into the soft neck, drank his fill of blood, then refreshed, re-adjusted the bedding, rose up the chimney and flew away......

Copyright Leslie Melville 2004

Legend of Baboushka

Legend Of Baboushka 

Christmas heralds a time of merry making and gift giving, of bonding with friends and family and of spending time in the warm glow of love. Of course, gifts are the most awaited and best loved part of Christmas. It is a tradition which, according to legends, has continued since the birth of Christ, when He was offered the first gifts that would later become an important aspect of the celebration of his birth. And like gifts, Christmas stories are also an integral part of the occasion. Every region has its own favorite Christmas story that elders and children alike love recounting during this time. The ritual of giving gifts during Christmas, especially to children, had its origin in a very poignant legend. This is the Legend of Baboushka and, it is widely believed that it originated in Russia. This story was very popular in Russia before the revolution of 1917.

The Legend
The legend of Baboushka is about an old and lonely woman who is considered to have started the tradition of giving gifts to children. Baboushka, which means 'grandmother' or 'old woman' in Russian, lived in a big house, safe and warm. However, she led a very lonely life with no company, friends or neighbors. Only the sound of travelers passing in their carts and the animals grazing nearby could break the monotony of her existence, these being her only solace. She would provide food to the animals and birds and offer a resting place to weary travelers.

When winter came, and winter in Russia is long and dreary, these little comforts would also fade away. Even the birds, that she would leave crumbs for, would desert her for warmer climes, leaving the old woman sad and lonely, wishing and praying for company. It was on one such winter night, when she was trying to sleep, that she heard a noise steadily growing louder - voices and grunts - and she knew there are no humans or animals for miles around, what with the entire earth being blanketed in snow. Before long, she heard a loud pounding at her door and she rushed to open it, thinking that it must be a cold and famished traveler only to find three large horses with three noblemen dressed in, she thought, some of the finest and richest clothes that she had ever seen.

Baboushka invited the men inside but they declined. Instead, they invited her to travel with them, to Bethlehem, where they were bound, they said, to find and welcome the child who would be the king of Jews and lead mankind to salvation. Since, it was night and the winter harsh, the old mother asked the strangers to alight and spend the night her house so that they all can leave in the morning but they declined, saying that they do not want to get delayed, and set off. Later that night, she thought of the three men and the strange tidings they bore about the child who would be the king. She felt sad at rebuffing their invitation and so, then and there, she decided to meet the Child.

She gathered some trinkets to gift him and set out in the cold dark night. But, as luck would have it, despite travelling far and wide she could find neither the boy king nor the travelers. Legend has it that the old mother is looking for the boy king to this day and that whenever she meets a child she presents him/her with trinkets and continues on her search. Thus, from her, originates the custom of giving gifts to children on Christmas, no doubt to continue the pious work of Baboushka.

Christmas tales 12 & 13

We'll attempt to catch up to the calendar, shall we? TWO Christmas tales today, then!

Express yourself completely


Hello, everyone! Apologies for vanishing a fair few days- we had major wind here and it seems something somewhere broke and allowed us only intermittent internet. Hopefully sorted now!

We'll get back into the swing of Christmas tales and inspirational posts later today (loads of catching up to do!)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

it happens when...

Ill-tempered Snowman


It was dawn on an icy-cold Christmas morning. The sun was emerging from over the horizon and standing on the top of a hill was the snowman. He had been there for about three weeks and was looking the worse for wear.
There was a stick underneath his arm. If he had originally had a hat and scarf, it had long since been stolen. One of the stones that had been his eyes had fallen off, so he only had one eye.
The carrot that was placed in the middle of his face to represent his nose was now rotten and had become black and shrivelled, and the small stick that was his mouth had slipped down slightly at one end, so that his mouth was crooked – he was not a pretty sight!
And he was cold! Oh was he cold! The wind at the top of the hill was relentless and he had almost become solid ice! He gazed straight forward with his one eye and watched as the sun rose a little higher in the sky. “That looks as though it might be warm”, he thought to himself. The large red golden ball did indeed look as though it might be warm. “I think I’ll just go a little nearer and see if it is!”
He carefully picked up one foot and shook away the loose snow. Then he did the same with the other and clumsily began to walk down the hill, clump, clump, clumpety clump, clumpety, clumpety clump.
As he made his way down the hill, the snowman noticed an old woman gathering sticks for her fire. She was wearing a big red woollen shawl. “Ooh! That looks warm”, he thought. He went over to the old lady and said, “Give me that shawl!” “I will not!” replied the old lady. “I made this for myself many years ago to keep me warm on a cold day like today!”
“Cold?… Cold? You don’t know the meaning of the word!” said the snowman. “Do YOU have a pillar of solid ice running down the centre of YOUR body?” “No, I haven’t” said the old lady. “Well I DO!” responded the snowman, nastily. “So give me that shawl, or I’ll hit you on the head with my stick!”
Well the old lady didn’t want to be hit on the head, so reluctantly, she handed the shawl to the snowman. And without so much as a ”Please may I?” or even the hint of a “Thank you very much!” the snowman took the shawl and wrapped it tightly around his shoulders. With that, he set off once again down the hill, Clump, clump, clumpety clump, clumpety, clumpety, clump. Followed (at a safe distance!) by the old lady.
A little further down the hill, the snowman came upon a young boy who was making snowballs and throwing them at a tree. The snowman noticed that the boy was wearing a pair of bright red woollen gloves. “Ooh! They look warm!” thought the snowman. “Give me those gloves!” he demanded. “I will not!” the boy replied, “My mother knitted them for me. They keep my hands warm on a cold day!” “Cold?…Cold? What do you know about cold? Bellowed the snowman. Are YOU covered with snow from head to foot?” “No”, said the boy “I’m not”. “Well I AM! The snowman shouted back. “And if you don’t give me your gloves right now, I’ll hit you on the head with my stick!”
Well the boy didn’t want to be hit on the head so he reluctantly took off his gloves and handed them to the snowman. And without so much as a “Please may I?” or even the hint of a “Thank you very much!” the snowman took the gloves and put them on his hands. He drew the old lady’s shawl more tightly around his shoulders and set off again down the hill, with a clump, clump, clumpety clump, clumpety, clumpety clump! Followed (at a safe distance!) by the old lady and the young boy.
When he got nearer the foot of the hill, he noticed an old farmer sitting on a bench, tying up his bootlace. The farmer was wearing a bright red woolly hat. “Ooh! That looks warm”, thought the snowman, when he saw the woolly hat. “Give me that woolly hat!” he demanded of the farmer. “I will not!” answered the farmer. “My wife knitted it for me to keep my head warm on a cold day!” “Cold? ….Cold? What do YOU know about cold?” the snowman angrily replied. Do icicles drip from the end of YOUR nose?” “No” said the farmer, “They don’t”. “Well they DO from mine!” said the snowman, “And if you don’t give me your hat, I will hit you on the head with my stick!”
Well the farmer didn’t want to be hit on the head and so he also handed over his warm, woolly hat. And without so much as a “Please may I?” or even the hint of a “Thank you very much!” the snowman pulled the hat down over where his ears would have been (if he’d had any!), pulled his gloves further onto his hands, wrapped the shawl even tighter around his shoulders and continued to the bottom of the hill, with a clump, clump, clumpety clump, clumpety, clumpety clump! Followed (at a safe distance!) by the old lady, the young boy and the old farmer.
When he arrived at the foot of the hill, the snowman saw a village. At the edge of the village was the schoolhouse and standing in the doorway of the schoolhouse was the schoolmaster – wearing a pair of bright red velvet slippers!
“Ooh! They look warm!” thought the snowman. He clumped up to the schoolmaster and rudely demanded, “Give me those slippers!” “Certainly!” replied the schoolmaster, But if take them off here I’ll get my feet wet. Why don’t you come inside where it’s warm?” The snowman went into the schoolhouse and the schoolmaster led him into his living quarters. There was a big fire burning in the grate. “Now then”, said the schoolmaster, pulling a chair towards the fire, “Why don’t you sit here and warm your feet while I go and take my slippers off.” The snowman sat in the chair and the schoolmaster pushed him even closer to the fire and left the room.
By this time, the old lady, the young boy and the old farmer had arrived outside the schoolhouse and were peering in through the window.
The schoolmaster returned and said to the snowman, “I’ll give you my slippers shortly but I was just about to make some hot soup, I’ll bring you some,” He pushed the chair even closer to the fire and then noticed the old lady and her companions looking in though the window. “Come in” he said to them, you look colder than the snowman, would you like some soup?”
The three came in. They looked over towards the fireplace. All they could see was a chair and on the floor beneath the chair, a very wet shawl, a wet pair of gloves and a wet woolly hat, all floating in a great pool of water! The schoolmaster picked up the wet clothing, wrung out the water and placed the items on a clothes-horse. “There”, he said, “We’ll hang them here to dry”. He picked up a mop and mopped up the water that had been the snowman. There was also a small, black stone and a piece of stick, which he threw on to the fire. The larger stick he used to poke the fire.
“That’s the snowman sorted”, said the schoolmaster. “Serves him right! Now who’s for soup?”