Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Remembering Our Soldiers at Christmas 2014

Not everyone will be home during the holiday season. Places at the dinner table, seats in a favorite chair, wine or water glasses will remain empty, especially on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Distance, obligation, estrangement, illness, money, various reasons will prevent family members from gathering together. Among those not home are our military men and women serving our country on foreign shores or a veteran without a home which should never be.  

Remember our soldiers
Whether here or far away
Keep them in your hearts
Throughout the night and day

Remember our soldiers
On land, in the air, or at sea
They sacrifice daily
 In the name of liberty

Remember our soldiers
Some won't make it home
Some are in the deserts
Some are all alone 

Remember our soldiers
Homeless on the streets
Feeling abandoned
Their only defeat

Remember our soldiers
Serving the Red, White and Blue
Honor their courage
In everything they do

Remember our soldiers
When one by chance you meet
Extend a hand in gratitude
For each heroic feat

Remember our soldiers
For they remember you
Caring, sharing, preparing
Before bidding adieu

Remember our soldiers
Amid joyousness and laughter
Remember our soldiers 
At Christmas time and thereafter

Sharla Lee Shults

While celebrating during the Christmas season
Always remember those away from home
Keep them in your hearts, cherish them in your soul
A day may come when you find yourself alone

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Gone, yet ne'er forgotten!

Amid all the festiveness of the holiday season come times of remembrance... Christmas past, family and friends gone but not forgotten. There is an overwhelming sense of sadness that at the same time brings on smiles of the heart. The joy, the laughter, the silliness within the seriousness of the time. With Christmas, there is always music, special music. Some of the melodies have been passed down from generation to generation while new ones hit the scene with the changing times.

Loving memories of those who have passed on are rekindled everyday in music that lives on and on and on...

Gone, yet ne'er forgotten
Music that calms & heals
Soothing the very soul
With each heart it steals
 Yesterday, today, tomorrow
Music starts the morning
Your songs live within us
Keeping our hearts yearning
With the Christmas season
You're missed more 'n' more
With melodies of the holidays
Drifting in and out the door

 Gone, yet ne'er forgotten
Music to relive the days
Happiness within sorrow
'Til the last memory fades

©2013 Sharla Lee Shults

To all who have loved ones in Heaven this Christmas, may you find joyful peace with family and friends.

Today in Music History: December 21, 1974

Welcome into the Spotlight...

 Mud in 1974

Mud: never a profoundly philosophical band, and never pretended to be. The group played music to have a good time, and merely asked that others join in, which millions of Brits did for a few years.

Mud were an English glam rock band, formed in February 1966. They were influenced by 1950s rock and roll, and are best remembered for their hit singles "Tiger Feet", which was the UK's best-selling single of 1974, and "Lonely This Christmas" which reached Christmas number 1 in December 1974. After years of unsuccessful singles, Mud finally had three Top 20 successes in 1973 with "Crazy" (No. 12), "Hypnosis" (No. 16) and "Dyna-mite" (No. 4). In 1975 they had seven singles in the UK Top 40 totaling over 45 weeks on the chart, the most by any artist in 1975.

1974 Mud were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with the Chinn & Chapman song 'Lonely This Christmas'. The group's second No.1 and third chart topper for Chinn & Chapman in 1974.

And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...

Up the chimney he rose!

Before ol' St. Nick rose up the chimney he had to have come down the same way. But, why the chimney at all...why not through the door or a window?  Could it be all doors and windows are suppose to be locked, especially at midnight and wee hours of the morning? When/where does the chimney really enter the picture? There are various stories why Santa comes down the chimney. The one most commonly known appears in the famous Christmas poem "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas" even though Santa's connection with chimneys dates back several centuries before the poem.

 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;...

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof--
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound...

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill'd all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose...

The anticipation of Santa Claus is felt the day after Thanksgiving, maybe even before then, but his story stretches way, way, way back, all the way back to the third century. The legend of Santa Claus has roots connected to a monk named St. Nicolas. It has been said he gave away his wealth traveling the countryside helping the poor and sick. Thus, the introduction to St. Nick about whom there are actually many legends! One in particular is celebration of his feast day, which occurs on the anniversary of his death, December 6.


Where it all began: A Bit of 'Sinter Klaas' History...

The feast day mentioned above, of course, did not occur on the shores of America. So, the question becomes, "When did he appear on American soil?" St. Nickolas made his first appearance in American pop culture near the end of the eighteenth century in December, 1773 and again in 1774. Groups of Dutch families actually gathered in celebration of the anniversary of Sinter Klaas, aka Sinterklaas, Nick's Dutch nickname.
In 1804, John Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the society's annual meeting. The background of the engraving contains now-familiar Santa images including stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace. In 1809, Washington Irving helped to popularize the Sinter Klaas stories when he referred to St. Nicholas as the patron saint of New York in his book, The History of New York. As his prominence grew, Sinter Klaas was described as everything from a "rascal" with a blue three-cornered hat, red waistcoat, and yellow stockings to a man wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a "huge pair of Flemish trunk hose."
There is a lot of tradition behind Sinter Klaas, aka Sinterklaas. Visit Mia's Musing for a true Dutch girl's eye view. While this may not be the same Santa we are accustomed to seeing in the shopping malls, he is of the same origin just a slightly different look. When stores begin advertising Christmas shopping in the 1820s, gift-giving centered around children. By the 1840s, newspapers specialized in creating special holiday advertisements, which often featured images of the newly-popular Santa Claus. Today, you can find Santa busily entertaining children as they sit on his lap burning his ears with Christmas wishes.

The final push for Santa came in 1897, when the New York Sun ran an editorial responding to a question from eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, asking if there was a Santa Clause. The amazing, poetic and emotional response from Francis Pharcellus Church solidified our Santa. As Church said, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.” [Source: Where did Santa Claus come from?]

Embrace the Past...

Significant influences of Santa Claus in America include:

1659 - Puritanical theocrats brought the hammer down on Christmas traditions. From 1659-1681, a fine of five shillings was imposed for feasting and celebrating Christmas in Boston. Wishing a fellow colonist a mere "Merry Christmas" brought on the hefty fine. Perhaps this is where Ebenezer Scrooge got his beginnings!

In contrast, the settlement of Jamestown actually openly celebrated the season. 

1820 - Advertising for Christmas shopping began in stores in America.

1822 - Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters titled "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas," which begins with the famous line 'Twas the night before Christmas'. His imagery in the poem beget the jolly Santa Claus.

1840 - American newspapers began to creating separate sections for holiday advertisements, which often featured images of the newly-popular Santa Claus.

1841 - A life-size Santa Claus model lured thousands of children into a Philadelphia shop. This was only the beginning for the 'store Santas'.

Early 1890s - Salvation Army provided free Christmas meals to needy families. As the tradition grew, money was needed to fund the project. Unemployed men were dressed up in Santa suits who, in turn, hit the streets of New York ringing bells for donations, a tradition that is still live and well today. Also, in the 1890s, Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S.

1914 - On and around Christmas Day 1914, roughly 100,000 British and German troops were involved in unofficial ceasefires on the battlefields of WWI. The artillery in the region fell silent being replaced by the sounds of Christmas carols in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.

1931 - On Christmas Eve 1931, while the nation was mired in the Great Depression, a 20ft Christmas tree was erected by construction workers on a muddy site of what would become the Rockefeller Center in New York. Two years later, a Rockefeller Center Publicist organized the first official tree-lighting ceremony. Today, it is a multimillion-dollar extravaganza that attracts thousands of tourists each year.

1939 - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the most famous reindeer of them all, yet he was 'born' over a hundred years AFTER his eight counterparts.  Robert L. May, a copywriter at the Montgomery Ward department store, is accredited with his creation.  He wrote a Christmas-themed story-poem to help bring holiday traffic into his store using a similar rhyme pattern to Clement Clark Moore's Christmas poem.

1949 - One of Robert May's friends, Johnny Marks, wrote a short song based on Rudolph's story. It was recorded by Gene Autry selling over two million copies. Since then, the story has been translated into 25 languages and been made into a television movie narrated by Burl Ives, which has charmed audiences every year since 1964.

Do you believe in Santa?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fruity, Spiced Wine

The holiday season is a blissful season, times spent with family and friends in a joyous atmosphere. During this time parties commence, people come and go, bringing forth festive food and spirits. Christmas treats fill candy jars and cookie trays in abundance. Tables are set with kitchen aromas announcing somethin' good's cooking! Enjoyed throughout the holidays is seasonal fruit, either sliced, chopped, diced, mixed together for salad or ambrosia, baked in pies, served in a punch or other fruity, spiced beverage, which by the way is the topic for today.

December 20 is...

Sangria is a spiced wine, an ancient and much-loved tradition, and even though it originates from Spain and Portugal it’s enjoyed world-wide. It can be served as an iced outdoor treat in the summer, or as a great way to warm up indoors in the winter. Its warmth and festive color make it perfect for Christmas time.


There are practically as many recipes for sangria as there are drinkers of the fruity punch, and for sure a lot of delightful sangria recipes you should try, but the most common ingredients are wine, fruit, honey and sugar. What is truly neat about sangria is the ability to adjust the recipe to individual tastes. Before delving into the actual make up of sangria let's take a peak into its origin.

A Bit of Sangria History...
Over 2,000 years ago, when the Romans inhabited Spain, they knew the water was unsafe for drinking because of bacteria, and so it was common to fortify it with alcohol to kill it off. The first sangrias (whose name comes from sangre, or blood, and refers to its dark color) were likely heavily watered down mixes of wine, water, and herbs and spices. Basically, the Romans added anything they could to kill off the bacteria in the water and to disguise the taste of mediocre table wine.

Onward to the holiday spirits... if you have not already clicked the images do so for they link to a variety of recipes. Keep in mind sparkling water can be added to give the drink more fizz, and fruit can be kept out of the glasses using a strainer. Some of the fruit can even be mashed or grated and then stirred into the wine to give it an extra-rich flavor. How this drink varies centers on the type of fruit, the presence or lack of carbonation and the kind of spirits added, if any at all. 
For the choice of fruit, the key is to use that which is in season in order to underline the flavor of the drink. If possible, try to let the fruit marinate in the wine a day ahead, or at least a few hours before serving, to get the most out of the natural fruit flavors. With this being wintertime, apples, quinces (California’s Pineapple quinces and the East Coast's Orange and Smyrna varieties), persimmons, Asian pears are in season but, of course, you can actually enjoy the taste of any fruit year around.
For the type of wine, connoisseurs suggest using a good quality red wine such as Rioja to get the authentic Spanish flavor. However, many agree that you should just choose something you like and it does not necessarily have to be an expensive wine. Inexpensive wines are perfect for this drinkafter all, masking the taste of cheap wine is exactly how sangria came into existence.
Other variations suggest adding a good brandy, a few shots of a favorite liquor, or a splash of orange juice combined with Triple Sec. Do remain mindful, however, with every little bit added is an increase in alcohol content. Of course, sangria doesn't have to be alcoholic at all! If you’d like to add bubbles, consider soda water or a citrus-flavored soda pop. Some sangria lovers add honey or sugar as well. It's all about individual taste!



Is your mouth thirsting yet?

yum, yum, yum . . . yummy!

Next on the Calendar...Stay tuned!

Folk Legends - greatest folk artists ever!

Today in Music History: December 20, 1969

In the 1960s, Greenwich Village was a crucible of creativity. Involvement in music was a matter of joyous discovery, not business. Everyone knew folk music was having an enormous impact in the Village, but was a couple of years away from being embraced on a national scale. Dozens of cultural and popular icons got their start in the Village's nightclub, theater, and coffeehouse scene during the 50s, 60s, and early 70s.

Welcome into the Spotlight...

1960s publicity photo of the group.
"Peter, Paul and Mary are not only three of the greatest folk artists ever, but also three of the performing arts' most outstanding champions of social justice and peace. They have lent their time and talents to the Civil Rights Movement, labor struggles, and countless campaigns for human rights for decades, and their compassion and commitment remain as strong as their extraordinary artistry." [Source: Peter, Paul & Mary History]
Peter, Paul & Mary: No American folk group has lasted longer or amassed a more loyal following than Peter, Paul and Mary; indeed, few groups of any genre have logged more years (45) or miles (countless) in direct, yearly touring; spreading the message and engaging the next (now four) generations.

Beginning with their debut at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village in 1961, Peter, Paul, and Mary launched a decade of recording songs that would bring socially conscious music to the mainstream. The group is now virtually synonymous with Folk music, but before Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers came on the scene, McCarthyism had forced folk music from the likes of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie underground. A decade later, the trio had 11 albums and 12 hit singles, including classics such as "If I Had A Hammer" and "Leaving On A Jet Plane," firmly establishing themselves as the most successful Folk music group of all time.
[Source: Songfacts.com]

1969 Peter Paul and Mary went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Leaving On A Jet Plane'. The song was written by John Denver in 1966 and most famously recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary. The original title of the song was "Babe, I Hate to Go" but Denver's then producer Milt Okun convinced him to change the title.
No.1 singles on this day...

No. 1 Albums on This Day... 
1969 The Rolling Stones went to No.1 on the UK album chart with their 10th release Let It Bleed, featuring 'Midnight Rambler', and 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'.
2008 Britney Spears went to No.1 on the US album chart with Circus, the singer's sixth studio album. Spears explained that the album's title has a double-edged meaning. It refers to both her life being a metaphorical circus, and also her fondness for the actual big-top show. She said: "I like the fact that you're always on the edge of your seat when you're at a circus... You're never bored. You're just really engulfed in what's going on around you. And you want to know what's going to happen next."

1962 The Osmonds appeared for the first time on the NBS-TV Andy Williams show. The brothers performed 'I'm A Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas'.
2012 Adele was named Billboard's top artist of 2012, while her hit record 21 was named top album of the year in the music magazine's annual review. The 24-year-old was the first to receive both accolades two years in a row and the honors for Adele came in a year which saw her win six Grammy awards and dominate the US charts. Her second album 21 went straight to No.1 when it was released in March 2011 and did not leave the top 10 until the beginning of September 2012, during that time, it spent 24 weeks at the top spot.

And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...