Friday, February 01, 2008

Festive February is here!

Festive February!

Festive February is the month many people await for in winter shortly after the New Year. It is the shortest month of the year, featuring so many promises, especially one being the hope of a warmer spring right around the corner, and yet it’s still a month smack in the middle of wintry weather. Very slowly there is evidence of the days becoming a wee bit longer and already we have noticed how light it is outdoors when we are still having our evening dinner together around the dining room table.

Those who suffer from S.A.D light disorder know the month of February naturally provides a hope for brighter days ahead, and they can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the dreary January burnout blues to end. It's also known as "Heart Health Month" in February, an important reminder for all of us to stay on top of our physical health by getting into our doctor for a general heart check-up if neglected or long overdue.

February is a month filled with activity, school exams and sport tournaments, and secret craft making in our home has officially begun. Our little red mailbox usually becomes filled with small notes mailed to one another all year long, but come February, other types of notes and tiny gifts appear inside its front mail drop.

My wonderful latte find today, yum!

Oh, and did you know this was "National Cafe Latte Month"? I never knew that until today, and it was a good thing too. I had the perfect opportunity to celebrate this fact, finding to my delight a new restaurant in town serving a mighty large latte as a single serving. I was thrilled to say the least with the presentation and as ever, I had my handy dandy camera tagging along with me nearby in my purse, so I grabbed it and snapped the photo above. Isn't it just a marvelous latte? However, upon my fourth sip or so, and due to the heaviness of the cup with the contents inside, I picked up my cuppa-wonderful, with one hand (tsk, tsk) promptly losing my grip, resulting in a tidal wave splashing directly onto my lap! Ah, you could say I had brought undesired attention to myself, and once the warmth of the latte wore off, I shivered all the way home again.

Making crafty things seems to be a highlight for the children in the month of February, just as in other months, though the themes continue to be an element for their enticement. Visits to familiar themes on both the Hallmark and Liturgical year church calendar fill our craft time with sweet creations of all sorts.

The table is filled, and the fun has already begun!

We have been gathering round the table with the center piled high with a heap of craft making debris, and often the continued gatherings go on for days and days for those afflicted by the love of designing and creating.

For many years we gave the children small brown or white lunch bags to decorate for Valentine’s Day, and when they were happy with their completed artistic endeavors, these were adhered to the side of the kitchen breakfast bar for the Valentine deliveries soon to come.

Everyone got into the act, even mom and dad. Several times, apprehensive teens felt a bit awkward and were just not too sure if this flurry of constructing was not cool anymore when they became older, however on sudden and last minute impulses, usually all would end up sitting down to create something in the nick of time, participating and pouring forth good sport efforts along with the rest of the clan. What fun they would all have thinking of others, and diligently try to flee from the temptation of checking their mailboxes for early deliveries. Patience was the key for all, but on the final day when the time had come, they could hardly wait to see what awaited them inside their bags. There were not just cards in there either folks, but often treats, or gifts, and sometimes their daddy bought his girls a flower or the boys something special.

When the older ones were young and still living at home, there were no formal “snow days” in the west (heck, if it did snow, for sure we had a snow day if it lasted!) as the east is accustomed to having, but our Valentine crafty days often allowed for extra free time artistic endeavors for sure.

In addition, today, the tradition continues with children living in our home still designing, and planning for a valentine fun day with mailboxes and crafty fun.

With the new month featured on my calendar today, already I see many items located in the small boxes for the family to do, attend, or follow up on. I quickly glanced through the weekend to see what awaits us and could not help but smile when I saw that tomorrow was “Ground hog day.” Who ever coined this day as something special was likely an unusual character! I remember as a child buying into the folklore of this day, how crazy, but some truly believe the predictions of the season of spring imminent if the groundhog appears.

Tomorrow, Feb 2 is also a special day on the church’s liturgical year calendar. It’s the “Presentation of our Lord in the Temple”, also known as Candlemas.

“And Simeon blessed the Lord and said; “Lord, no let thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine yes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people of Israel.” And, his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign of contradiction. And a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”

(Luke 2: 29-35)

This day is also known as “Candlemas”. The term "Candlemas" refers to the practice whereby a priest on February 2 would bless beeswax candles with an aspergillum for use during the year. This practice is called for in the present Roman Missal in which candles are still blessed, some of which are distributed to the faithful for use in the home.

As a lover of candles in my home, I have finally reached a time when I am able to safely light candles in our home without the worry of little hands attempting to reach up and harm themselves, or burn down the house, whichever comes first.

I love lighting candles for creating a warm ambiant atmosphere in our home, and certainly since we have moved east I tend to light more candles than ever before.

As well, I often light a candle with a prayer intention attached, so when I glimpse at it while the burning is in progress, I will continue to hold that person, or special intention up in prayer for the duration of the candle’s glowing light (and beyond). It is a pleasant visual reminder to pray and not cease the prayer when something or someone has offered an intense situation for sending me down on my knees. Candles too are just one of those simple pleasures I suppose for me as well, are they for you too?

All that said, I assure you that I've definitely been burning a lot of candles these past few weeks, and months tending to the growing desire to keep special prayer intentions close to my heart and never allowing them to become adrift in my thoughts, intercessions and offerings. To be sure, there is always so much to pray for isn’t there?

Here’s a great suggestions; Let us all resolve to make February one of those months where we continue anew to pray “on purpose” all of the time. Naturally we should be all praying regardless anyway, but shall we say, let's up the anty, with or without a candle glowing. Therefore if you have candles sitting around your home yet unused, how about taking them out (just because), and lighting them for a special treat. I dare you! (smile)

May your hearts be bursting with love for those who are dear to you, may your days be merry, and may your days ahead be filled with thoughtful preparations for Lent just around the corner.

Happy February everyone!