Akrotiri also referred to Sovereign Base Area. It’s a British air base and only military personal live there. It has a salt lake and wetlands that is a breeding ground for green turtles and only remaining colony of griffon vultures is on the base.
I looked high and low, but that’s the county of Akrotiri. I got excited because I kept coming across information about the city of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini in Greece that had a cool history of being perfectly preserved under volcanic lava. It was really interesting, but alas, it was not the country of Akrotiri, the air base owned by the England.
So I decided to take a more festive angle and I came across special days in December. I do apologize a bit for the length, but it really did put me in the Christmas spirit. Enjoy!
December 4 – International Hug Day
A hug can say an incredible amount without uttering a word. It says I care for you, I love you, I support you, I encourage you, I miss you, let me comfort you. It says I don’t want to fight; I want to be close to you. It says don’t be afraid I will protect you. I want to take care of you, I’m proud of you, you make me happy. It says don’t go away, I need you, be safe, it says welcome. It says hello and good bye.
What did you last hug say? Happy International Hug Day.
December 7 – Letter Writing Day
I used to be a big hand written letter person. I had a friend in high school when she went away to college we wrote letters to each other. Our letters could be as long a 3-10 pages of hand written thoughts and feelings. Since I’ve had a computer of my own it became a more practical source as it was more effective with keeping up with my thoughts.
Though I know the art of the hand written letter has gone the way of the instant age I still love writing letters to people. I dedicate the time, effort, careful thought, precise wording and emote as much emotion as I can through the written word. I love the power of what a combination of written words, black on white, can evoke.
I’ve had to come to the acceptance that most people don’t dedicate the time to writing letters/emails, and this has been a hard one to learn being so far away from family and friends without a chance to see them, my only form of connection is through letters.
So if you’re feeling inspired during the season, I’d love, love, love to receive a letter from you; happy Letter Writing Day.
December 8 – Winter Flowers Day
There are a large variety of winter flowers ranging in color and beauty, but my favorite has to do with the feel of it; the Crocus. I go on later how beautiful winter can be, but I’m still a warm blooded Canadian and when I see a Crocus peeking out of the snow in a melted patch, with my down coat unzipped, my toque in my hand and scarf untied, I know Spring is warming up to make its debut real soon and that is a very happy feeling.
It’s nearing the end of the season, there’s more slushy gray snow than the sparkling white, your heating bill is getting on your nerves, you’ve had more dark cloudy skies than the blue sunny ones and you just want to see a little color again.
And then that sweet little Crocus of white, purple or yellow peeks out at you and you feel this warm flutter in your body. It always surprises me because they do arrive when there’s still plenty of snow on the ground; they seem out of place, got their time wrong, it still winter little flower, how did you get here?
They are a winter flower, but they cosy up to their pal Spring and they’re giving you a little heads up and telling you not to give up hope, winter is almost done and soon Spring will bring you color, warmth, buds, and the sweet scent of regrowth. They’re a prelude to what is to come, and so I welcome the adorable little Crocus and revel in his charming appeal; happy Winter Flower Day.
December 14 – The 12 Days of Christmas Begins
Fun little song right? Well you may be interested what the lyrics actually mean.
The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days between December 25th, the birth of Jesus, and the Epiphany, January 6th, the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men and the revelation of Christ as the light of the world. And the 12 gifts to Christians are…
1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus.
2. The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.
3. Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
4. The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
5. The five gold rings recall the Hebrew Torah (Law), or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.
6. The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
7. The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
8. The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.
9. Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
10. The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
11. Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles.
12. Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed.
If all that means something to you great and if you’re a religious person than it will give the song more strength, but Craig and I are looking at the 12 days of Christmas a little differently. We’ve decided to celebrate the 12 days leading up to Christmas with acts of romance, love and fun. Just another opportunity to show we love each other.
Regardless of the meaning, it still a fun little ditty.
December 17 – Bake Cookies Day
Since setting out to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle about seven years ago and then going vegan I’ve learned a few tips about baking and how to make recipes lighter and more importantly, healthier. This being the season for Christmas cookies and wonderful baked gifts I think we could use a few ideas to not add to the waist line this season. Of course if you eat the whole batch I have no sympathy for your weight gain:
- Always substitute white flour for whole wheat in your baking. More fibre and protein and helping those bowels move with more ease to evacuate all that unhealthy food you’ve been consuming.
- Use Splenda instead of sugar. I know we want to avoid artificial sweeteners, but when baking with high levels of fat and sugar, it’s good to go a little lighter. So when that recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar you are adding 829 calories versus 1 cup of Splenda adding only 96 calories.
- If you feel uncomfortable with sweeteners, then definitely go with organic sugar. Organic and regular sugar both contains the same amount of calories and fat, the difference between them is how they farm it. Organic sugar farmers do not use any chemical pesticides and herbicides on their sugarcane or sugar beets nor do they remove any of the natural molasses.
- If you’re worried about cholesterol and want to lighten further, you can substitute eggs for flax seed. Eggs in most recipes are for the purpose of binding and flax seeds do the same trick. You can find flax seed at any health food store throw them in the blender, blend until a powder and mix 1 Tablespoon of flax seed powder and 3 Tablespoons of water, let sit 3-5 minutes, and you got yourself one egg. Works perfectly.
- This one I love. Substitute oil for unsweetened applesauce (take it a step further and make your own applesauce). Good bye fat and calories and hello a moister texture and it won’t make your cookies or cake taste like apples if you’re concerned.
I’ve make cookies with no sugar, no oil and no eggs and they taste fantastic; happy baking.
December 20 – Go Caroling Day
My students and I started singing Christmas carols this week and the childish delight I get singing these fun songs makes my chest swell with giddiness. The images they invoke, the memories they spring forth, the sights and sounds swirl around in my head like fat sparkly snowflakes.
I know how it is back home, Christmas carols seem to start up the day after Halloween and they play the same ones over and over and over again until you gag on the words, but there’s something different about singing them with group of people. About wrapping your own voice around the words and hearing a friend or family member doing the same next to you and both of you, the whole group of you are being charged with energy of what that song means to you. Sure you can’t sing as well as Bing Crosby or croon or harmonize like the men in dashing, jaunty hats, but no one can feel them the same as you when it is your voice that brings them to life.
Happy Caroling Day.
December 21 – Winter Begins
It’s your right as a Canadian to complain about the weather, but it’s also our right as a Canadian to brag about the majestic beauty of our seasons. There are only a limited amount of countries that get the full beauty of winter, the sparkle, the ice kingdoms, the painfully blue ice cold skies and the shimmering diamond white of new fallen snow.
I know, I’m in Taiwan and I no longer have to drive in it, slip in it, bundle up against it and pay to be warm because of it, but, well this man says it well:
There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very
hollows in snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every
blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.
I have complained right along with you, but there are few visions of beauty that move me more like a sparkling sunny morning after a night of silent falling snow. Happy First Day of Winter.
December 24 – National Chocolate Day
Ah chocolate, my friend. I can trace my life through the years with my relationship with chocolate (I keep capitalizing chocolate as if it’s an important title or name). Chocolate makes people moan, scrape their plates, makes children jittery with excitement and your body say ‘thank you for that decadent gift.’
Growing up I was always a fan of the cheap chocolate Noname brand cookies that Mom used to buy, but my favorites were, if she had a coupon for it or it was on sale, were those Dare chocolate cookies and the Decadent Chocolate Chip cookies by Presidents Choice. FYI, those are made that much more fabulous when they’re frozen. Thank god Mom had a two limit cookie rule growing up. As torturous as that was it saved me from binges. Perhaps the loss of that rule had something to do with my 20 pound weight gain when I moved away from home. I didn’t wait for sales or cut coupons, I just attacked those cookies in my college room dorm.
It was the foil wrapped Santa’s and eggs at Christmas and Easter; the milk chocolate bunny on Easter morning. The mini chocolate bars at Halloween and the Mississippi Mud dessert my aunt Laurie made at Thanksgiving. Oh! And the few years I got a box of Turtle chocolates for Christmas, I practically whimpered in pleasure as I ate those nibble by gooey nibble in my bedroom in the basement so I wouldn’t have to share. Yes, chocolate and I were lovers.
Then there was the chocolate truffle. My life changed after that. One holiday in my mid-teens my brother brought home his girlfriend (now wife and I can understand why after these chocolates!) and she brought chocolate truffles as a gift to his many siblings. When that dusty, earthy, bitter sweet lump on chocolate (we laughed with adolescent squeals that they looked like poo) hit my tongue and instantly began to melt and fill my mouth my knees nearly gave out. I had never experienced anything like that before, and since Mom wasn’t watching and there was no rule for guest chocolate you can better believe I binged on those bad boys. After that day my palette compared every chocolate that entered my mouth to those truffles, and every day my palette searched for that sensation again. After I learned what they were in my adulthood I discovered them again in my late 20’s. And they still made me close my eyes, shudder and lean up against a piece of furniture. I raise my glass to you Truffle.
Okay, I know I could continue on about this, like the time Craig and I had the turtle cheesecake at a local bakery/café in Stratford, Ontario. You know how they say good chocolate can release endorphins? Well Craig and I ran to the privacy of our home after that experience. Or the dessert that was popular in the early 2000 in chain restaurants, the Chocolate Eruption, the Pop of Gold’s on side tables at Christmas, the Ferrero Rocher chocolate in their shiny gold wrapping, oh dear chocolate, how do I love thee.
So on December 24th, ya, ya, it’s Christmas Eve, but it’s also NATIONAL CHOCOLATE DAY! And I’m going to say thank you to the Olmec Indians who were the first to grow cocoa beans and the Mayans and Aztecs were the first to develop the first ever chocolate sensation, the hot chocolate. And one more big shout out before I close this, to Christopher Columbus for introducing the cocoa bean to Europe where our creative European friends then created what we know and love today.
Happy, happy, happy chocolate day.
December 24 – Christmas Eve
My hope is you get to experience this with some child, be it your own, students, nieces or nephews, because Christmas Eve is one of child’s most magical moments. And though I don’t have children of my own, I spin, and create and twirl the children who I care for, imaginations till they are dizzy and heady with anticipation and enchantment.
I remember Christmas Eve as a child and I would almost be sick with excitement at the thought of Santa and his reindeers landing on our roof, entering own home while we slept (though this image does scare some of my students, frankly I think they have reason to, a strange white man entering you home as you sleep and walking around and eating your food, a little creepy) and placing gifts under our twinkly, fragrant tree.
We live in a world that has lost a lot of fanciful mystery and though I was devastated when I found out there was no Santa Claus, I would not give up the years when I knew there was. Embrace magic when you can and I hope you will on this night.
December 25 – Christmas Day
A very Merry Christmas to all my loved ones.
December 31 – New Year’s Eve
It’s the promise of a new year that is so enticing and alluring; to leave behind troubles and difficulty of the past year or to celebrate the success and happiness of it. To feel you have a chance to better yourself and fill your heart with promises and good intentions. To feel excited about what is to come, what discoveries can be made and marvel at the ones you made in the past year.
Your slate is clean, you canvas ready to painted, your stomach quivers in anticipation as that clock counts down, as those seconds of the past year are becoming memories as you chant. When those two hands align your new life begins again and anything, anything is possible. And this magic happens every year of our life; happy New Year’s Eve.
Happy Holidays to all of you.