A Year of Smiles – Day 347: The SMILES of Christmas

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Christmas SMILE #13 (Reason to SMILE #347): THE YULE LOG

It’s amazing what you find out when you do a little research. I’ve discovered that the practice of burning a Yule log goes back to before the 12th century and people actually burned a log in the fireplace. They didn’t just light candles that were placed on the log. I’ve also learned that the remnants of the Yule log, a small piece kept to light the Yule log the following year, were also thought to have powers that could ward off evil spirits, unfortunate circumstances and poor health. How about that!

I’m pretty sure my family Yule log has no magical powers – at all. But it is pretty awesome! Take a look:

yule log

That’s 39 years of candle wax right there. C’mon. You’ve gotta admit that’s cool!

For my family, the tradition of “burning” the Yule log began in 1978. The log came from the woods surrounding our house. I can’t say I remember burning the first candles of our Yule log but I can say that every Christmas I do remember, the Yule log was there with candles burnin’ and wax a-drippin’.

Now that I think about it, there may just be a bit of magic in this Yule log for it sure does invoke so many happy memories of Christmas traditions, family and love. And it always conjures up a SMILE.


A Year of Smiles – Day 343: The SMILES of Christmas

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Christmas SMILE #9 (Reason to SMILE #343): THE WISH LIST

Do you remember making your Christmas wish list as a child? Did you make a list for your parents or did you write a letter to Santa? Although I may have when I was very young, I don’t remember writing letters to Santa. I always had a Christmas wish list, though! Well, actually, it was more like a catalog – the Montgomery Ward catalog, that is.

Every year, my brothers and sisters and I would flip through the Montgomery Ward catalog (or Monkey Ward, as we called it – I have no idea why!) and mark all the toys or clothes we wanted for Christmas. I loved flipping through each page, seeing all the new toys and the latest electronics (like boom boxes – Haha!) and drooling over the coolest fashion trends. I knew I wouldn’t get everything I wanted for Christmas but dreaming of all the possibilities while turning each catalog page made it all seem so magical.

No one flips through catalogs anymore, do they? Nowadays, my kids make a wish list on Amazon and then share their list with me electronically. They find the items they want, add that particular item to their list and forward it to me. Then, I decide which items I can afford, add them to my cart and click, click, click, the shopping is done. It’s not quite as magical as it used to be. Convenient and less time consuming, I suppose, but missing so much of the wonderment and excitement I remember as a child. (Maybe that’s because I’m footin’ the bill!)

Who knows. My kids may feel just as much magic creating their wish lists online as I did flipping through the pages of the “Monkey” Ward catalog. After all, a wish is a wish no matter how it’s made. And where there’s a wish, there’s always hope. And where there’s hope, the SMILES can’t be far behind.

What are you wishing for this Christmas?

A Year of Smiles – Day 293

Reason to SMILE #293: FAIRY TALES

Well, of course, today’s SMILE is fairy tales! Reason to SMILE #292 was musicals. The only logical choice for today’s SMILE was fairy tales. What else could it have been?

Okay. Logic may have had nothing to do with it. I’ve been binge watching “Once Upon a Time” on Netflix. That may have had a slight affect on my SMILE choice for today.

Nah. Probably not. 😉

What’s not to love about fairy tales? They’re filled with colorful characters, magical lands, nonsensical creatures, beautiful princesses, handsome princes and all sorts of other peculiarities and whimsies that captivate the imagination. And in a fairy tale, you’re sure to find epic battles between good and evil, daring adventures of unassuming heroes, courageous quests of valiant knights and beautiful stories of finding true love.

Not everything is honky dory in a fairy tale, though. There are hurdles to jump, tests of character to pass and sadness to overcome. But no matter how dire the circumstances of the hero, knight or princess, no matter the setbacks, the struggles or the flaws of the protagonist, there will always be a happy ending in a fairy tale. Darkness never wins and love conquers all.

Boy, that sounds good! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could call on a fairy godmother when life is too hard, if we could wish upon a star for our every need, if we could wave a magic wand to right every wrong and solve every problem? Wouldn’t it?

It’s easy to get caught up in a fairy tale and wish that real life could be so, well, fair. We want life to make sense. We want justice to win. We expect good to vanquish evil and love to always win out over hate. But it’s not always that way.

There is always hope, though. You just have to read the right story to find it. You see, the answer to life’s problems can’t be found in a story that begins with “Once upon a time.” No, the story of real happiness, real sacrificial love and real lasting hope begins with “In the beginning, God.”

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The truth of God’s Word brings hope that will put a SMILE on your face for a lifetime! You really should read it. 🙂