Category Archives: Holidays

Happy Belated International Women’s Day Again

In 2018 I forgot to post about International Women’s Day on March 8,  and so I did a post that proved very popular on March 9 instead where I looked at some of the women I had featured on my blog in the past year.  I forgot again yesterday and once again I’m following up a day late with descriptions and links to a dozen posts I’ve done about amazing women in this last year on my blog.  


I was truly fascinated to learn about Helena Penner Hiebert who was the first Mennonite woman to graduate from a university in Canada and the first Mennonite woman to teach at a university in Canada! Some say she was the first Mennonite baby born in Canada. 

Christine_Elliott public domain

Christine Elliot has nearly a decade of experience as a member of the Ontario Legislature, served as the auditor for one of Canada’s largest banks and has an international award for being an outstanding citizen because of her pro bono legal work.

In a post called Women in Politics I reflect on why two very capable and competent and experienced women were passed over for the leadership of the Ontario Conservative party in favour of a much less capable, competent and experienced man. Ontario isn’t the only place where this happens. 

anna arnold hedgemanIn a post called The Matilda Effect I wrote about a woman named Anna Arnold Hedgeman who was a key person in the successful organization of Martin Luther King’s march on Washington in 1963 even though only the efforts of the male organizers were publicly recognized. My post looked at other women whose inventions, discoveries and creative work was falsely attributed to men.

marion t

Marion Tuuluq in a jacket she designed

Creating Beauty was the name of a post I published about Inuit artist Marion Tuuluq who fashioned true works of art with needle and thread.  

simeon and Anna Dutch artist Jan Van't HoffIn my post I Want To Be  Like Anna I looked at a hundred year old woman from the New Testament who is a role model for how I want to live the last season of my life. 

ruth bader ginsberg public domainA post I titled The Audience Applauded For Her  talks about five interesting things I learned about American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg after watching the documentary film RGB. 

she persistedI introduced a new children’s picture book by Chelsea Clinton in my post She Persisted. Clinton’s book profiles women around the world who have broken gender barriers to excel. 


Marie Laurencin in 1912

Marie Laurencin is a relatively unknown French artist who created intriguing works of art. She also  illustrated Alice in Wonderland and painted portraits of some well-known people. I explored her life in a post called Who Is She? 


 Priscilla by Houston artist Sarah Beth Baca 

In my post Meet Priscilla I look at the life and legacy of an accomplished New Testament woman.

door to jacob hamblin home

In the doorway of the Jacob Hamblin House in St. George Utah.

In a post called It’s The Women Who Impress Me I make the point that the Jacob Hamblin  home in Utah named after a famous Mormon pioneer should really be named after his wives since they kept his home and farm running. 

the daughters of Zelophehad by Glenda Thomas

The Daughters of Zelophehad by Glenda Thomas

Five Sisters is a post that tells a story from the Old Testament about five sisters who manage to change a law to make things fairer for women. 

It’s Harder to Hate Up Close is what I titled my review of former first lady Michelle Obama’s book Becoming.  This accomplished woman has some important things to teach us. 

Last year’s Belated International Women’s Day Post

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Chreaster Really is a Word

One year when we were living in Hong Kong we didn’t come home to Canada at Christmas time but decided to fly back at Easter instead because our son was going to have a leading role in a Winnipeg production of Jesus Christ Super Star and we really wanted to see him perform.  Since we hadn’t been here for Christmas we got together with our family for what I dubbed a Chreaster celebration.  We marked Christmas and Easter at the same time.  I gave the children and their partners both a stocking and an Easter basket filled with gifts.  I even wrote a newspaper column about our Chreaster celebrations. 


Poinsettia and Lily photo by Sandy Keeton from the blog of the Saint John XXIII Catholic Parish in Perrysburg, Ohio.

I thought I had invented the word Chreaster but to my surprise I saw it in the headline of an article in The Washington Post this past week.  The columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. refers to Chreasters as people who only attend church on Christmas and Easter.  

Dionne says probably the Chreasters show up at church on holidays because they enjoy listening to familiar Christmas music and perhaps want to rekindle memories of their childhood.

He’d prefer to think they are people who have given up on the institutionalized church but still want to believe there is a transcendent being who creates beauty.  They still hope for a world where love and justice are the norm.  

I think a belief in a creative spirit and a hope for a better world is what motivates most good people in their daily life whether they never attend church, attend every Sunday or are Chreasters. 

Other posts…….

Indoctrination or Teaching? 

I Want To Be Like Anna

Violence in Christian Families

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Finding The Magi Around The World

Magi I photographed on the streets of Frankfurt Germany. magi denny bond0001
The Magi by Denny Bond. This illustration was for a curriculum I wrote for Faith and Life Press. I love it that there are more than three magi, they are of different races and some are women.

Magi photographed on a front yard in Gold Canyon Arizona.

The Magi photographed on a tour in Nuremburg Germany. three wise men by linda syddick offering billy tea as gifts to mary and joseph pintupi people

The Three Wise Men artwork by Linda Syddick. The magi are offering billy tea as gifts to Mary and Joseph. I photographed this while visiting a museum in Sydney Australia. 

Magi photographed on the mantlepiece at my friend Debbie’s home.

Magi made of straw.  Photographed in Prague. the magi sagrada familiaThe Magi photographed on the outside of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Program cover colored and illustrated by a student at Elmdale School in 1994( check out the Magi and star at the top of the program) . The program was for a Christmas drama written by my husband Dave. It told the story of two Magi named Henry and Gertrude who never got to Bethlehem. Music for the drama was directed by Craig Cassils and every child in the school had made a puppet to use in the production. 

Magi I photographed in the airport in Frankfurt Germany  Illustrations from the beautiful book I found to give my grandson for advent called Rocks Tell the Story of Christmas by Patti RokusYesterday on a snowy grey afternoon I stopped to take a photo of the Magi atop the Great West Life Building on Osborne Street in Winnipeg.  Apparently they have been adorning the building every holiday season since 1973. 

Other posts………..

The Magi Once Got Me Into Trouble


Filed under Art, Holidays

Party On

One of the things I love about the holiday season is the many festive gatherings that are part of the celebrations.  All those good times with friends and family are an important reminder of the way our lives are enriched by relationships but they can also be tiring.t-4s christmasOne of my first Christmas celebrations was with a group of wonderful women who are former teaching colleagues of mine.  We meet regularly to visit and have good times together. Here we are in my friend Debbie’s lovely heritage home in Steinbach which she had beautifully decorated for the season. 

We also had a delicious supper of avocado salad, salmon in puff pastry and decadent chocolate cake courtesy of our friends Bonny and Jim. They hosted a Christmas evening for a group of five couples from our former church in Steinbach that has met for more than two decades. We always have a delightful time catching up on our lives during our regular get togethers. golf group christmasThis may look like a musical band to you but it is really a crew of eight men who hit the links with my husband once a week during the golf season. Just so happens there are lots of talented artistic types in the group so our annual Christmas parties to which partners are invited include a sing a long and dramatic readings penned by some of the golfers. Another musical party happened as a part of my husband’s Men of Song concert a week ago.  He is a member of a male choir at our church and after their annual Christmas performance we had a party that included partners and a potluck of delicious Christmas nibbles brought by the choir members. writing groupMy writers’ group had our holiday bash at Jodi’s festive home with Christmas treasures waiting to be discovered in every corner, one of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen, and a charming miniature winter village twinkling in the candlelight.  These talented and generous people have taught me soooooo much about writing for children. I admire each and every one and am so fortunate to be part of their group. Here we are ‘hamming it up’ for the camera in the photo booth at the Christmas party for Birchwood Motors where my husband is a part time employee.  The party was at the Winnipeg Convention Centre and over a thousand people were in attendance. 

I had a fun time with my work colleagues in the education department at the Winnipeg Art Gallery at our holiday party.  We exchanged gifts of things that we no longer needed in our homes, had pizza and salad courtesy of our department administration and enjoyed sweet treats we had all brought to share. 

A Christmas gathering with friends young and old at our house last Sunday.

Now that Christmas is almost here the number of holiday events will intensify. We have guests coming over or we are going somewhere every day for the next two weeks.    I’m taking a deep breath and getting ready to enjoy each day and each person, trying to remember in the hustle and bustle of it all that I am blessed beyond measure to have so many people in my life to care about and who care about me.    

Other posts……….

It’s Beginning To Feel Like Christmas

Dave’s Christmas Present

Christmas Poker

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A Cumulative Christmas Story By My Hong Kong Grade Five Students

In 2004 my fifth grade students in Hong Kong created this illustrated story for the school Christmas concert. We had been writing poetry based on The House That Jack Built poem pattern. A student Charissa Chan wrote the poem and all the students helped illustrate it.

This is the kind-hearted, dutiful angel Gabriel, who delivers messages for God

This is the young faithful virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted dutiful angel Gabriel who delivers messages for God.
This is Joseph, the hard-working, humble carpenter, who married the young, faithful virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted, dutiful angel Gabriel who delivers messages for God.
These are the tired, hungry people who traveled to Bethlehem with Joseph, the hard-working, humble carpenter, who married the young, faithful virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted, dutiful angel Gabriel, who delivers messages for God.
This is the impolite, money-hungry inn keeper who turned down the tired, hungry people who traveled to Bethlehem with Joseph, the hard-working, humble carpenter who married the young, faithful virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted angel Gabriel, who delivers messages from God.
This is the simple, but cozy stable of the impolite, money-hungry inn keeper who turned down the tired, hungry people, who traveled to Bethlehem with Joseph, the hard-working, humble carpenter, who married the young, faithful virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted, dutiful angel Gabriel, who delivers messages from God.
This is the tiny, but warm manger that was in the simple, but cozy stable of the impolite, money-hungry inn keeper who turned down the tired, hungry people, who traveled to Bethlehem, with Joseph, the hard-working, humble carpenter, who married the young, faithful, virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted angel Gabriel who delivers messages for God.
This is the beautiful, loving baby Jesus, who slept in the tiny, but warm manger that was in the simple, but cozy stable of the impolite, money-hungry inn keeper, who turned down the tired, hungry people, who traveled to Bethlehem with Joseph, the hard-working, humble carpenter, who married the young, faithful virgin Mary, who got a message from the kind-hearted, dutiful angel Gabriel, who delivers messages for God.
And that baby grew up and became a Light to the World!

Other posts……….

Five Star Hotels For The Holy Family

Christmas in Hong Kong

Puzzling- A Christmas Family Tradition

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Filed under Art, Holidays, Hong Kong

Music From Young Men to Lift Your Heart

Last weekend I was privileged to hear a program of  music at the First Presbyterian Church here in Winnipeg that featured four outstanding boys’ choirs. 

The first was Ecole Sisler Boys Choir conducted by Carolyn Boyes. I was moved by their beautiful rendition of He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother made popular in the 1970s by The Hollies and Neal Diamond. The lyrics apply to each one of us no matter what stage we are at on our life’s journey.

It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way there
Why not share?

The second male music group was the Pembina Trails Boys Choir conducted by my talented daughter-in-law Alisa Wiebe.  What a full rich sound those ten little fellows made! One of their selections was called Walking in the Air.  It was a piece of music from the film version of Raymond Briggs’  classic children’s book The Snowman. The beautiful sound of the choir had me closing my eyes and  floating in the moonlight sky with the flying snowman and his young friend as they surveyed the ground below.  

A Stopping by Woods mural done by some of my elementary students in Mitchell

Next up was the Kelvin Boys Choir conducted by Kimberly Brown. Their outstanding selection had to be the piece by Randall Thompson which set to music the words of Robert Frost’s poem Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. It is a poem I memorized as a child and have introduced to nearly every class of students I have taught from nursery school to grade twelve.  As the choir sang I imagined the mural a group of my grade two students once created to illustrate the poem. 

We always sang Ubi Caritas at the end of our meals at Tao Fong Shan our church in Hong Kong

The final group to sing was The Winnipeg Boys Choir conducted by Spencer Duncanson. One of their numbers was Ubi Caritas, a piece that is special to me because our church in Hong Kong always ended our Sunday gatherings with it.  The Winnipeg Boys Choir sang a version by Ola Gjeilo in Latin. The phrase that repeats itself over and over is Ubi caritas et amour, Deus ibi est.Where love and charity are, God is there

My Mom and Dad at Christmas with children from a refugee family from Sierra Leone they sponsored

Those words speak to the true message of the season. God is present wherever and whenever people act in a kind and helpful way. It doesn’t matter if we are Buddhists or Hindus or Muslims or Christians. Whenever we care for others God is present and real.  Regardless of our cultural background or racial identity we invoke God’s presence whenever we open our hearts to those in need.  Regardless of our sexual orientation or gender we are the embodiment of God’s spirit when we touch the lives of others in a positive way. Regardless of our social or economic class when we share our resources with others, God’s love as it is illustrated in the story of the baby born two thousand years ago becomes a reality in 2018. 

Near the end of November I wrote about how a choir of young women had inspired me.  Last weekend it was choirs of young men who did.  The message of their music has infused a real sense of hope and joy into the holiday.
Other posts………

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A Christmas Tree For Readers

christmas book tree

Our church Christmas tree made of books. The baskets at the side are for mitts and hats to be donated to charities who distribute clothing to needy people.

Last spring, Lorraine one of the creative and talented women who decorates our church building for the various seasons asked me if I knew where she could get some old books.  I am the church librarian and I told her each year I weed our library collection pulling books off the shelves that are no longer being taken out by patrons to make room for new ones.  She asked me to save the books I was withdrawing from circulation.  In church last Sunday I saw the reason why!

lorraine with her tree

The very talented Lorraine with the tree she created.

Lorraine has taken all those old books and turned them into a beautiful Christmas tree for our church foyer. manger scene book christmas treeShe has thoughtfully arranged children’s books near the bottom of the tree and included a manger scene. 

The tree is outside the door of the church library and it has already drawn any number of new readers into the library because they have questions about the tree.  We celebrate Christmas because of a very special story.  How appropriate to recognize the season with a tree full of stories. 

Other posts…….

A Flood of Books

Children’s Christmas Books – The Classics



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