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Hello friends,
          During the lighting of candles in the liturgical season of Advent, we are invited into “waiting with hope.”  It’s a powerful alternative invitation when fear and anxiety dominate our national discourse.
 
          I love the encouragement in the French Christmas carol O Holy Night, often sung on Christmas Eve.  The poet and wine merchant Placide Cappeau wrote the words to celebrate the restoration of the Roquemaure organ in 1847.  The lyrics still resound with meaning today as he writes, “A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn” and “Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.” My hope this Advent is we also experience the poet’s further words, “Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” What a great soul space we are offered!

Best Global News: A thrill of hope in a weary world!

          If your heart yearns for some comfort to the 78 million refugees in camps around the world, be sure to read of this stunning 100 Million dollar grant for Syrian and Rohingya refugee children.
 
          Utilizing Sesame Street’s adaptive efforts to the Arab world, their programs plan to bring literacy and emotional and social development during the pivotal pre-six years.   Beautiful news!  I promise your smile will be as big as Big Bird’s heart as you imagine children having programs created to counter the effects of their daily stress and suffering. 

           Check out this story.

Christmas Music, Children’s Books, and Global Art

          The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship draws young adults from the diverse expressions of faith within both Protestant and Catholic traditions.  So throughout the Hearth, we’ve tried to collect global expressions of Christian art.  Enjoy this Madonna and Child from a tile artist in Mexico and the Black Madonna replica, discovered centuries ago in Montserrat, now a major pilgrimage in Spain.
 
          A family tradition has been to discover one Christmas album, and after going to Mark O’Conner’s stunning Christmas concert, we’ve added An Appalachian Christmas. O’Conner is a Grammy-winning American violinist and composer whose music combines bluegrass, country, jazz, and classical music. This album includes guest artists such as YoYo Ma and Rene Fleming.  A joy! 

            What are some of your favorite Christmas albums? I’d love to hear! 
           
          During a Christmas luncheon for our book group, women brought one of their favorite childhood books.  Everyone remarked on the beauty of illustrations, such as the four versions of Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales and Jan Brett’s The Mitten and Home for Christmas.  Another favorite, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever included a family’s tradition of reading this hilarious story aloud while the children decorate the tree.  Other classics, great gifts for Christmas reading, include The Gift of the Magi, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, A Christmas Carol and Wind and the Willow.

Life on the Land:  Hearth and Gardens

          For the book group, I brought The Secret Garden that influenced our choice to build a Secret Garden near the Hearth.  It includes a beloved Troll House where children discover miniature gifts.
 
            Nearby, we’ve planted hundreds of new bulbs for spring, and l was fascinated by the ways Mary, the child in the Secret Garden, describes how bulbs might feel after she cleared the beds of overgrown weeds.  She imagined the renewed happiness of the thousands of snowdrop bulbs ignored for ten years. 

           Such nice clear places were made round them that they had all the breathing space they wanted, and really, if Mistress Mary had known it, they began to cheer up under the dark earth and work tremendously.  The sun could get at them and warm them, and when the rain came down it could reach them at once, so they began to feel very much alive.
 
            This reminds me that even in the busy time of Advent, we still have a need to pause, even for a few minutes, and clear breathing space.  This mindfulness practice allows us then to re-engage feeling more alive and not quite as harried.

FESTIVE FOODS

It’s the kitchen aromas and memories of festive celebrations that we harbor forever in our hearts. 

Do you have a family holiday recipe you’d like to share?

It’d be fun to collect and share favorites from our readers.  Just contact me through the website www.lindalawrencehunt.com.  Thanks! 

These are absolutely delicious,
quick, and filled with healthier ingredients.  

Jim’s comment at the breakfast table, 
“These are SO much better than package-mix pancakes!”

          On my office desk, I’ve kept a beautiful card year-round that was created by a beloved friend, Marianne Frase. Her words remind me daily of ways we can extend the gift of Christmas throughout the year.

Merry Christmas! 
Linda and Chelsea, who gives joy every day!

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Linda Lawrence Hunt   The Hearth   Spokane, WA

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Linda Lawrence Hunt · The Hearth · Spokane, WA 99218 · USA

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