Holiday Gems

One of the joys of the holiday is settling down

after all the energetic activities

to read inspired holiday fiction.

 

You are no doubt familiar with some of the well-known holiday books and short stories…

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol…     The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson…

Eugene Field’s The First Christmas Tree…          O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi…

A Visit from St. Nicholas   (‘Twas the night before Christmas) by Clement Clarke Moore…

And, of course, the sacred Bible accounts of the first Christmas.

 

Well, here are some gems that I’ve recently discovered.

They are not as well known, perhaps, but are some of the most beautiful holiday stories I’ve read!

Christmas Day in the Morning” by Pearl S. Buck

A farm boy works so hard, only to see disappointment in his father’s eyes, until one Christmas he overhears his parents’ conversation and learns what Dad really thinks of him.

 

My Christmas Miracle by Taylor Caldwell

A true story of the lowest point of her life

 

A Christmas Inspiration” by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Fun-loving young women living together in a boarding house take notice of one of their quirky, quiet neighbors.

 

A Gift from the Heart” by Norman Vincent Peale

The true story of a young Swiss girl employed by a wealthy American family and her Christmas surprise.

 

The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien (1976)

A collection of letters the author wrote from 1920 to 1943 to his children “from Father Christmas”.

 

and, my VERY favorite,

The Man at the Gate of the World by W.E. Cule

The Magi Caspar’s quest to find the Saviour of the World, and his obedience to the call to stand at the Gate of the World—in the city of Damascus—and wash the feet of weary travelers.

Most of these I found during the past few weeks of reading these two books:

A Classic Christmas, and The Fireside Book of Christmas Stories.

 

For more selections

Here is American Literature’s beautiful collection of Christmas Stories, and

(I can’t resist!) Linus’s version of the first Christmas.

 

Wishing you many peaceful, happy hours of reading, and

A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020!

 

Review of The Little Hunchback Zia by Frances Hodgson Burnett

“And it came to pass nigh upon nineteen hundred and sixteen years ago”

Front page, The Little Hunchback Zia

This begins Frances Hodgson Burnett’s little book published in 1916 about a rejected, deformed orphan boy who is sent to beg for the cruel woman who keeps him.

The Little Hunchback Zia

The Little Hunchback Zia

One day, hiding in the brush near the road to Bethlehem, he watches a surprising number of families and animals pass by on the road, playful and happy. But Zia falls asleep sobbing in unbearable loneliness.

The Little Hunchback Zia

Yet in the night Zia awakens smiling, feeling an unexplainable calm, without and within. Soon he sees one part of the sky growing lighter, and the sheep nearby suddenly attentive. In the darkness, a weary man walks slowly up the road, leading a donkey which carries a woman. A radiance surrounds her.

 

The Little Hunchback ZiaAlthough he thinks he is dreaming, Zia nevertheless feels compelled to follow them. And as the crippled and diseased boy climbs the steep hill toward Bethlehem, he does not waver or stumble.

Whatever had led Zia to Bethlehem now leads him to find the radiant woman and her husband in the mangers of the cave. The woman invites him to come near to the new born baby.

But he refuses, warning her that he is an unclean leper. Yet she insists. “Draw nigh,” the woman says, “and let his hand rest upon thee!”

Front cover, The Little Hunchback Zia

Zia obeys. He bows his head to the Holy child and feels the feather light touch of his tiny fingers. Soon Zia is healthy and standing upright for the first time in his life.

Frances Hodgson Burnett, the well-known author of The Secret Garden, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and many other books, writes in a way that immediately engages and grips her reader. Every page of this little book seemed to draw me deeper into Zia’s experiences and emotions. Even though the story is based on the well-known events in the Bible, and the ending is predictable, every compassionate word of this beautiful story is precious.

The intricately drawn illustrations were done by Spencer Baird Nichols and W.T. Benda. I always love it when a book has a beautifully hand-written presentation in the front pages, and this brand-new book was a gift to a Sunday School student for faithful attendance during 1916.

Inscription, The Little Hunchback Zia

You can buy a printed copy of this sweet book on Amazon, read the Kindle version for free on Amazon, and various versions for free on www.gutenberg.org, www.childrenslibrary.org, and http://www.online-literature.com/burnett/3042/ .

You can make Homemade Christmas Cards with Classic Art

A couple of years ago I was having trouble finding the kind of Christmas cards that I wanted in the stores.  I was looking for a Biblical scene and Bible verse, and wanted some extraordinary art.  It was early in December, so I decided I’d try to make my own cards.  For anyone interested in doing the same, it wasn’t really hard, and it was a pleasure looking through all the breathtaking classic art available for free on the internet.

Inside of Card Front of one card

Click HERE to download (pdf file) or just to see how all of them turned out.  The first page shows the inside text used for all cards, followed by 7 different images and corresponding back covers (the first 2 are black and white images, the rest are color).  If you like them, feel free to use them!

I hope this is useful for you and that it brings to mind the true beauty of this season, and of the gift that God gave us for the taking, the gift of abundant life, knowing him, walking humbly with him.

* * * * * * * * * *

Here are the steps I took:

IMAGES

First, as much as I wish otherwise, I could not draw a scene myself.  So, I started looking for ideas for images to use on the cover of the card.  Initially, I tried taking photos of two manger scenes that I have, and played around with special effects on the photo editing software.  That was fun, of course, but in the end I didn’t have anything that I liked.  If you are looking for an unusual Nativity scene, you are welcome to these, 10 images in a Word document.  The ones at the bottom were my son’s favorites.

Next I looked on my clipart and Bible DVD’s for various images and photographs, and found 3 that had possibilities.  Then I Googled “copyright free nativity images” and I hit the jackpot:  THANK YOU, reusableart.com! I found exactly what I was looking for, and more.  (They have over 3,000 beautiful public domain images from old books and magazines that go far beyond holidays to birds, animals, children, seascapes, buildings, trees, flowers, patterns–a feast for the eyes!)

CARD STOCK

Then I figured out what card size I needed.  I’d bought a ton of red greeting card envelopes in the summer when the dollar store had them on sale (for 5 cents each!), so I had to make my cards so they fit in the envelopes.  I decided on a card stock size of 6” x 9″, which would fold to 4.5” x 6” to fit in a 5” x 7” envelope.

MAKING THE CARD ON THE COMPUTER

I used Open Office Impress (free presentation software) and started with a blank slide.  On the Format/Page menu, I selected a custom-sized page and set it to 6×9 inches landscape.  Then I inserted the image on the right side, and a text box full of text on the left, which, after folding in the middle, would make the front and back.  One more similar slide with text on the left and right sides made the inside of the card.  (I am sure that that there are easy templates available online, and if you’re smart you’ll avoid the “custom” card size that I did–I won’t do it that way next time!)

TEXT

Customize yours for exactly what is special and meaningful to you and your loved ones!

For the inside left side text, I chose the lyrics from the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, a piece of music that I have loved ever since we sang it in choir in college.  For the inside right side text, I just wrote a short sentiment from the heart.

In the back cover text, I listed the title of the painting and the artist information, as well as a blurb about Handel and his work.

FINISHING

I saved my final files as pdf’s that would print on 8-1/2 x 11” card stock or paper, with the intention of using a paper cutter to trim the side and bottom to 6 x 9”.

My plan was to print onto my own card stock at the self-serve copy/print department of the office supply store, but I wasn’t allowed to do card stock on self-serve.  They had to do it themselves with their own very high quality expensive card stock, and it would be at least a week before they had time to do mine.

So I printed the black and white inside of the card at home on my laser printer, then printed the color sheets at the office supply store on regular white paper, and trimmed them using their paper cutter.  I attached the color pages to the outside of the cards with double-sided tape.

I hope this gives you some great ideas and the joy of making your own personalized cards!

* * * * * * * * * *

This was originally posted December 18, 2012

You can make Homemade Christmas Cards with Classic Art

A couple of years ago I was having trouble finding the kind of Christmas cards that I wanted in the stores.  I was looking for a Biblical scene and Bible verse, and wanted some extraordinary art.  It was early in December, so I decided I’d try to make my own cards.  For anyone interested in doing the same, it wasn’t really hard, and it was a pleasure looking through all the breathtaking classic art available for free on the internet.

Inside of Card Front of one card

Click HERE to download (pdf file) or just to see how all of them turned out.  The first page shows the inside text used for all cards, followed by 7 different images and corresponding back covers (the first 2 are black and white images, the rest are color).  If you like them, feel free to use them!

I hope this is useful for you and that it brings to mind the true beauty of this season, and of the gift that God gave us for the taking, the gift of abundant life, knowing him, walking humbly with him.

* * * * * * * * * *

Here are the steps I took:

IMAGES

First, as much as I wish otherwise, I could not draw a scene myself.  So, I started looking for ideas for images to use on the cover of the card.  Initially, I tried taking photos of two manger scenes that I have, and played around with special effects on the photo editing software.  That was fun, of course, but in the end I didn’t have anything that I liked.  If you are looking for an unusual Nativity scene, you are welcome to these, 10 images in a Word document.  The ones at the bottom were my son’s favorites.

Next I looked on my clipart and Bible DVD’s for various images and photographs, and found 3 that had possibilities.  Then I Googled “copyright free nativity images” and I hit the jackpot:  THANK YOU, reusableart.com! I found exactly what I was looking for, and more.  (They have over 3,000 beautiful public domain images from old books and magazines that go far beyond holidays to birds, animals, children, seascapes, buildings, trees, flowers, patterns–a feast for the eyes!)

CARD STOCK

Then I figured out what card size I needed.  I’d bought a ton of red greeting card envelopes in the summer when the dollar store had them on sale (for 5 cents each!), so I had to make my cards so they fit in the envelopes.  I decided on a card stock size of 6” x 9″, which would fold to 4.5” x 6” to fit in a 5” x 7” envelope.

MAKING THE CARD ON THE COMPUTER

I used Open Office Impress (free presentation software) and started with a blank slide.  On the Format/Page menu, I selected a custom-sized page and set it to 6×9 inches landscape.  Then I inserted the image on the right side, and a text box full of text on the left, which, after folding in the middle, would make the front and back.  One more similar slide with text on the left and right sides made the inside of the card.  (I am sure that that there are easy templates available online, and if you’re smart you’ll avoid the “custom” card size that I did–I won’t do it that way next time!)

TEXT

Customize yours for exactly what is special and meaningful to you and your loved ones!

For the inside left side text, I chose the lyrics from the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, a piece of music that I have loved ever since we sang it in choir in college.  For the inside right side text, I just wrote a short sentiment from the heart.

In the back cover text, I listed the title of the painting and the artist information, as well as a blurb about Handel and his work.

FINISHING

I saved my final files as pdf’s that would print on 8-1/2 x 11” card stock or paper, with the intention of using a paper cutter to trim the side and bottom to 6 x 9”.

My plan was to print onto my own card stock at the self-serve copy/print department of the office supply store, but I wasn’t allowed to do card stock on self-serve.  They had to do it themselves with their own very high quality expensive card stock, and it would be at least a week before they had time to do mine.

So I printed the black and white inside of the card at home on my laser printer, then printed the color sheets at the office supply store on regular white paper, and trimmed them using their paper cutter.  I attached the color pages to the outside of the cards with double-sided tape.

I hope this gives you some great ideas and the joy of making your own personalized cards!

* * * * * * * * * *

This was originally posted December 18, 2012

Homemade Traditional Christmas Cards

My family and friends will be receiving my Christmas cards a bit late this year because I was so engrossed in making homemade Christmas cards.  I remembered that last year my Mom and I were talking about not being able to find Nativity or Biblical scenes on Christmas cards in the stores, and I have been going through an artistic/drawing phase lately, so I thought I’d try my hand at making cards my Mom would like.

My first attempt at drawing a Nativity scene lasted only a few minutes.  It was obvious that my final product was either going to look like a kindergartener drew it, or I’d have to take a lot of time (and eraser) to make it look “good”.  And I was pretty sure I didn’t have that much time, since I’d have to send them to Mom by snail-mail during the first week of December at the latest.

So, I started looking for images to use on the cover of the card.  First I tried taking photos of two manger scenes that I have, and played around with special effects.  That was fun, of course, but in the end I didn’t have anything that I thought Mom would like.  If you are looking for an unusual Nativity scene, you are welcome to these, 10 images in a Word document.  The ones at the bottom were my son’s favorites.

Next I looked on my clipart and Bible DVD’s for various images and photographs, and found 3 that had possibilities.  Then I Googled “copyright free nativity images” and I hit the jackpot:  THANK YOU, reuseableart.com! I found just what Mom and I would like, and more.

Inside of Card Front of one card

Click HERE to download (pdf file) or just to see how all of them turned out.  The first page shows the inside text used for all cards, followed by 7 different images and corresponding back covers (the first 2 are black and white images, the rest are color).  If you like them, feel free to use them!

I hope this is useful for you and that it brings to mind the true beauty of this season, and of the gift that God gave us for the taking, the gift of living life with Him.

* * * * * * * * * *

In case you’re interested in doing something like this, here are the steps I took:

I started by figuring out what card size I needed.  I’d bought a ton of red greeting card envelopes in the summer when the dollar store had them on sale (for 5 cents each!), so I had to make my cards so they fit in the envelopes.  I decided on a card stock size of 6” x 9″, which would fold to 4.5” x 6” to fit in a 5” x 7” envelope.

I used Open Office Impress (presentation software) and started with a blank slide.  On the Format/Page menu, I selected a custom-sized page and set it to 6×9 inches landscape.  Then I inserted the image on the right side, and a text box full of text on the left, which, after folding in the middle, would make the front and back.  One more similar slide with text on the left and right sides made the inside of the card.

For the inside left side text, I chose the lyrics from the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, a piece of music that I have loved ever since we sang it in choir in college.  For the inside right side text, I just wrote a short sentiment from the heart.

In the back cover text, I listed the title of the painting and the artist information, as well as a blurb about Handel and his work.  I saved my final files as pdf’s that would print on 8-1/2 x 11” card stock or paper, with the intention of using a paper cutter to trim the side and bottom to 6 x 9”.

My plan was to print onto my own card stock at the self-serve copy/print department of Staples office supply store, but I wasn’t allowed to do card stock on self-serve.  They had to do it themselves with their own very high quality expensive card stock, and it would be at least a week before they had time to do mine.

So I printed the black and white inside of the card at home on my laser printer, then printed the color sheets at Staples on regular white paper, and trimmed them using Staples’ paper cutter.  I attached the color pages to the outside of the cards with double-sided tape.

* * * * * * * * * *

This was originally posted December 18, 2012