Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels We Have Heard on High
While adding greenery to the corners of the house I pretend it is freshly cut from outdoors.

My son was hovering around me while I balanced on a chair to arrange some garland and ornaments on the mantel. A favorite CD played instrumental Christmas hymns with flute, guitar, and fiddle. I added to it by humming and singing a chorus or two.

He became talkative. He liked watching his mother tinker. Apparently, he liked seeing her merry. In the same room – at the other end of the kitchen/keeping room  – I’ve been caught wearing a frown in my efforts to get supper on the table - that is - when garrulous family members distract the cook. A slightly furrowed brow is the result of concentrating within a multi-task, time-sensitive setting – especially if I am measuring ingredients for a new recipe and am mentally keeping track of cup and spoonfuls. 

But on that sunny afternoon I wasn’t concentrating. I felt no time-sensitively. I was light-heartedly absorbed. And I was free and relaxed to listen and respond to whatever the current life-observation happened to be. We talked away.

Figures of Mary, Joseph and the Christ child inside the beehive oven are an idea borrowed from one of Tasha Tudor’s storybook illustrations. A donkey rests on folded legs in the shadowy recesses of the oven. The figures of the shepherd and wise men are close by. Perhaps the wise men should be placed at the farthest end of the mantel. It would be sometime before they followed the star and found their king. Most importantly the events or the story are remembered and our Lord is adored. 

Adoration is rarely observed outside the home or church. Only at Christmastime might we hear a “Christian” Christmas song played on the radio or on loud speakers in the marketplace – one or two perhaps. I find the jolly holiday lyrics of the 20th century cheery and amusing, some even touching, but I love the words of the old Christmas hymns. They bring tidings of great joy because “. . . in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive Him still the dear Christ enters in.”*

Caroling is a lovely way to publicly rejoice and proclaim “. . . This, this, is Christ the King whom shepherds watch and angels sing.”* My married daughters and their families and friends did some caroling in their neighborhood. They telephoned to tell me it was a bit chaotic. One neighbor, however, already in her pink fuzzy nightgown, said, “Thank-you. What a beautiful ending to a hard and hectic day.”

Quietly contemplating the words of the hymns of advent can be a source of devotion. Without the profundity of  “God the Incarnate Deity”* where would we find the true meaning of Christmas?

Do you see, among the greenery, the gingerbread cookies made of felt? They are a gift from a friend who is skillful with a needle. The white icing is embroidered in chain stitch. The cookies are stuffed. Felt pieces are held together on the edges with blanket stitch - in ginger-brown.

The angels are an original design painted by a friend who knows I am fond of Pennsylvania folk art.

With her mind on gift giving and her eye on the plain wooden shapes at the craft store, she began seeing them as Pennsylvania Dutch angels. She researched the faces for historical authenticity.

Fractur symbols are incorporated on the front and back. I marvel at her attention to detail, how tiny a paintbrush she must have used, and how she has found time to develop her talent – while raising six children.

Actually, I know how she does it. It is her efficient use of the daily schedule of service to her family that allows her a little creative Mother Culture in the sidelines.  

Becoming warm from all my decorating I hung my cardigan over the back of chair, and then cast aside my knitted scarf.  I rolled it up and placed it on a windowsill for the time being. 

In that instant I couldn't help notice how the scarf's colors blended with the spray of greenery there - especially the faux orange and berries. Thus, the festive feeling of my "fall" scarf (started in July) is being carried over to Christmastime.

*O Little Town of Bethlehem, What Child is This? Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Thank you for visiting,

Karen Andreola 


  1. I also love the hymns of Christmas. They evoke such a warm, expansive feeling of awe. These early winter evenings are my favorite time to enjoy them.

    Isn't it interesting to see where an unhurried conversation will go?


  2. You have decorated in such a beautiful way Karen! What lovely way to incorporate simplicity with praising!


  3. Lovely Christmas decorating Karen...so sweet & simple!
    I too, enjoy the traditional Christmas songs. We have been listening to lovely classical Christmas music daily.


  4. Thank you for this post--it gave me the chance to regroup after a hectic day.

    I like your cozy fireplace area and decorations.


  5. Lovely...I adore you hearth area especially....and that scarf! What a nice post. Thank you, Karen. :)

  6. I will be decorating our tree and our home tomorrow, so your post is a timely inspiration. I so enjoy your decorating, and especially love the nativity scene in the beehive oven. And, as a knitter, I must complement your lovely and unique scarf!
    So glad you had that sweet time with your son.

  7. Karen,

    Thank you for sharing a few of your Christmas treasures. I am especially fond of your Nativity and am just a wee bit jealous of the beautiful brick fireplace in which it resides. :) Your scarf is scrumptious! I'd love to know where you found the pattern.

    Many blessings to you and yours,

    ~Lisa @ HappyinDoleValley :)

  8. I'm always happy to hear from you, Ladies. I'm still marveling at this thing called "blog friends."

    Children at any age can be keen on conversation but it seems that my young adults craved it most - and I've always liked to take advantage of it when it arises to ensure a close relationship - but when cooking . . .

    Simplicity and praising is exactly my desire, yes. I wish I was better at dealing with clutter in a few "other" corners of my house.

    The pattern for the frilly scarf is on the July 4th post, "Red Yarn at Night, A Knitter's Delight." I used the fingering weight pattern. There is probably just as many stitches in this scarf as in a small child's sweater done in worsted. I know it took longer to knit the scarf than Joseph's size one cardigan. Anyway, it isn't the time that sways me, but interest in a project that does.

    The best purchase I ever made at the price club eight years ago was this nativity set. All the figures filled our contemporary bow window in Maine. I needed a lot of Spanish moss to surrounded the figures. Most of the places where we have lived over the years have had no fireplace. This Rumpford fireplace makes up for it. I like the British custom of laying filled stockings on the foot of a child's bed while he is sleeping for a Christmas morning treat. There is no need for a fireplace.

    Thank you for taking a break for a visit and a chat with me during these busy days.
    Karen A.

  9. Thank you Karen for another lovely post :) I always enjoy visiting your blog.
    Smiles, DianeM

  10. Such a lovely post.Love the oranges with cloves, I just did mine today.I enjoy doing this each Christmas season.The ornaments your dear friend made for you are a delight to treasure.The scarf is beautiful.Love the beehive oven best,makes one want to pull a chair up for tea.Blessings to you Karen. Dawn E. Brown ps.......thank-you for the special note I received from you a bit ago.It blessed me much dear friend...

  11. We are headed out to do some caroling to some older church members tonight. "Where meek souls will receive Him still the dear Christ enters in." Praying that those who hear those words will let them sink into their souls and take root. The Pennsylvania Angels are lovely...what a sweet friend you have to create such a personal gift.

  12. Karen,

    What another lovely post! I LOVE your scarf. It is so pretty on you. I will have to go back to that post and look up the pattern. I LOVE your fireplace and mantel. We are currently enjoying a cold spell here in southern Arizona and we have our fireplace blazing right now. ;o)

    I love the simplicity of your decorations. I am afraid simplicity is not a word to describe me or my decorating! ;o)

    We had neighbors carol us a couple of nights ago. They were on a flat trailer with hay bales being pulled by a tractor that had a karoke machine set up on it. We could hear them coming from over a block away. It was great! ;o)

    Love, Heather