The Giving Tree

Here We Come a WassailingWaukesha Series North Bank

Just recently my cousin and I were laughing over the antiquated term “wassailing.” It sounded like a trick to be played at Halloween rather than an enjoyment at Christmastime. We may think of wassailing as a pastime noted only on today’s holiday cards with old-time villages and neighbors out caroling, but we still carry on the tradition. If you read from the dictionary you’ll find it sounds very familiar to modern day holiday events.

wassail |ˈwäsəlˈwäˌsālarchaic 

noun: 1.) spiced ale or mulled wine drunk during celebrations for Twelfth Night and Christmas Eve. 2.) lively and noisy festivities involving the drinking of plentiful amounts of alcohol; revelry.

verb: 1  no obj. ] drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.

verb: 2  go from house to house at Christmas singing carols: here we go a-wassailing.


We may not go wassailing door-to-door so much anymore, but we have concerts in
schools, malls, churches, performing arts centers. Not to mention all of the live bands performing in restaurants and bars everywhere. I wonder who’s a better wassailer now?


To Give and Not Receive

THE GIVING TREE by Shel Silverstein is one of the most simple, poignant and honest poemsI'll Be Home For Christmas I’ve ever read. I’m sure you’re familiar with the poem about the tree that continues to give and give to the boy who doesn’t really regard the tree at all – at least not after he grew up. Still the tree gave. He gave all he had to the boy. This isn’t a Christmas poem, but after reading this I’m reminded of giving at this time of year.

This has always been a season of giving. All kinds of giving is going on now. Families and friends, churches and charities, nonprofits… it’s wonderful to see people “in the Christmas spirit.” It’s not about the money, or the toys, or the presents under the tree; it’s about the Christmas spirit. The spirit of giving. This is the example of the nativity.


“For God so loved the world that he GAVE his only begotten son…” John 3:16


My neighbor friend is the best example of the Christmas spirit I know. At times she has been more of an angel knowing it’s been hard for me to get out the last few months. So she’s occasionally left bags of groceries and small meals hanging on my door. There is no cmas-treats-smallway I can repay her. I can give her a gift, but nothing will equal her kindness to me. All I can do is accept what she does with as much grace as I can muster. It’s very humbling. My friend isn’t wealthy, which only amplifies the point: money is not necessary to keep the Christmas spirit!

But if you do have money that’s okay, too. All I want to say to you is, Merry Christmas! Enjoy your holiday with whomever you are blessed to share it; give with all your heart because it feels too good not to; and receive with as much grace as you can.

The next time someone tells you the holidays have become too commercial, or gifts are just for the children, just respond with a big “Bah-Humbug!” and tell them they’re missing the point of giving altogether.

World Watercolor December Challenge

I did some Christmas painting this month (and one not Christmas at all), which was the theme for our December challenge in the World Watercolor Group. Charlie O’Shields is a faithful comrade keeping us all on task. Some of these are more sketch like while on my annual Christmas trip to see family, and some are pretty well finished paintings. I’m placing them here for you to look through, if you care to.

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Also: It couldn’t be helped. I wasn’t able to remove the tags and notes I make to myself.

Have a wonderful holiday. Be with family and friends. If that isn’t a possibility for you, walk downtown and help out at the local shelter or give blood. Whatever. There are all kinds of people in need, and it’s amazing how little our aloneness feels when we give to others. I know this to be true.

Love and joy come to you, and to you glad Christmas, too. And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year, and God send you a Happy New Year!




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