The Cure for Grumpiness

The Cure for Grumpiness

Do you ever feel grumpy? Mona the monkey was feeling that way. She didn’t want to cuddle or let her mother pick itchy bugs out of her fur. She didn’t want to play catch-me -if you-can, or jump from tree to tree by the river. Mona was a miserable grump. Sometimes, we get grumpy too and that’s okay. . . if it’s just for a little while. But if we hold onto our grumps they can make us cranky. Cranky leads to crabby, and no one likes to hang around with crabby crabs. Mona’s best friend, Fern, knew the cure for grumpiness. “What you need,” she told Mona, “Is a Whatever.” “What’s a Whatever?” Mona asked with a grumpy frown. “I bet if we look together, we can find one in no time,” said Fern. With a loud sigh, grumbling,...

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Eating a Special Food on New Year’s Day?

Eating a Special Food on New Year’s Day?

by Sandra Merville Hart When I was a little girl, my dad insisted that I eat at least one spoonful of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. It was supposed to bring good luck. I didn’t like them. Eating even a spoonful seemed like a high price to pay for good luck in the new year. Folks from the southern United States eat black-eyed peas on January 1st. Cornbread is another favorite in that section of the country. Eating green, leafy vegetables, supposed to resemble money, bring prosperity. Citizens in Spain eat 12 grapes at midnight. Each grape represents one month of the year. If the fifth and sixth grape taste especially bad, for example, May and June might be a little difficult. Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians—among others—eat pork on New Year’s....

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I’ve Brought Some Corn for Popping

I’ve Brought Some Corn for Popping

by Sandra Merville Hart This line from the beloved Christmas carol “Let it Snow” started me wondering when the tradition of popping corn began. People have known how to pop corn for thousands of years. Ears of popcorn were found in the Bat Cave in New Mexico that are about 4,000 years old. Found in 1948 and 1950, a penny is larger than the smallest of these ears while others are about 2 inches long. Popcorn remnants discovered in Mexico have been dated to around 3600 BC. One-thousand-year-old popcorn kernels found in North Chile still pop. Aztec Indians in the 16th century used popcorn for ceremonial headdresses and necklaces. Young women danced a popcorn dance wearing popcorn garlands on their heads. Pearls or Nonpareil were names that the kernels were sold...

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Oh, Bring Us a Figgy Pudding

Oh, Bring Us a Figgy Pudding

by Sandra Merville Hart We sing the familiar Christmas tune, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” every year. If those early carolers refused to leave until they received a serving, it must be delicious. When did folks originally sing this song? The song is believed to date back to England in the 1500s. Carolers sang to their neighbors with greetings of the season. They hoped wealthy citizens would give them a treat, such as figgy pudding, to thank them for singing to them. The song, “Here We Come A-wassailing,” asked for a drink from rich neighbors’ wassail bowl, an invitation to warm themselves around the fire, and maybe a pork pie. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” specifically requests Figgie Pudding. The tradition of making this dessert at Christmas...

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First Children’s Christmas Party at the White House

First Children’s Christmas Party at the White House

by Sandra Merville Hart President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams didn’t have the warmest of homes at the White House in 1800. Their Pennsylvania Avenue home, built near a swamp, was drafty and cold. Large fires crackled in thirteen fireplaces to warm their home. In 1800, as Christmas approached the President and First Lady decided to host a children’s Christmas party. Their four-year-old granddaughter, Susanna Boylston Adams, lived with them and they wanted to honor her. Greenery was hung to decorate the East Room. Government officials and their children were invited to the party. A small orchestra played while guests munched on cakes and drank punch. They sang Christmas carols and played games. The party was a great success with one exception. One of...

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What Did the Magi Eat on Their Journey?

What Did the Magi Eat on Their Journey?

  by Sandra Merville Hart The Bible tells us in Matthew 2:1 that Magi from the east came to Jerusalem after Jesus was born in Bethlehem. It doesn’t give an exact location. Yet northern Arabia, Syria, and Mesopotamia were considered the “east” by the Jews. What might they have eaten along the way? Nuts, dates, and figs lasted a long time and were easy to pack on camels. They also needed to bring food and grain for their camels. The Magi may have traveled on sand dunes and desert for many miles. They’d also follow the rivers and streams as much as possible so they and their camels had plenty to drink. Folks living in the region likely shared water from their wells. When going through towns, they’d buy fresh bread, meat, fruits, and vegetables for the...

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Happy Birthday, Jesus Cake

Happy Birthday, Jesus Cake

by Sandra Merville Hart The tradition of birthday cakes for Jesus began over 500 years ago when desserts were a rare treat. Children looked forward to baking a cake to celebrate Jesus’s birthday. Moms often hid little gifts inside the batter. Children found tiny toys like marbles or even a coin in their servings. The cake itself contains special meaning. White cake symbolizes the sinless life of Jesus. The cake rises while in the oven to represent His resurrection. Red icing reminds folks that Jesus died to save us from our sins. The light of a single candle reminds us of the star the Wise Men followed to Bethlehem. Candlelight also means that Jesus is the light of the world. I wrote “Happy Birthday, Jesus” on my frosted cake. Ask your mom for red and green...

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President George Washington Declares a Day of Thanksgiving

President George Washington Declares a Day of Thanksgiving

by Sandra Merville Hart The Revolutionary War was over. Leaders wrote a new United States Constitution. The nation elected its first president. Peace reigned again. New Jersey Representative Elias Boudinot asked that Congress pass a resolution to request that President George Washington declare a thanksgiving observance. Congress passed the resolution. President Washington liked the idea and agreed. On October 3, 1789, Washington issued a proclamation that Thursday, November 26th was to be a national day of thanks to God. He reminded Americans that God’s care had led them through the Revolution and helped them establish a new government and Constitution. Washington sent the proclamation to state governors. Newspapers printed it to tell citizens about it. There...

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Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Did you know … Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day. Armistice is a big word that means two armies at war with each other agree to stop fighting, at least for a specific amount of time. November 11, 1918 World War I was known as “the Great War” until World War II. At 11:00 am on November 11, 1918, the armies agreed to stop fighting. A Legal Holiday November 11th became a legal holiday called Armistice Day in 1938. Moment of Silence United States citizens honored soldiers of “the Great War” (World War I) with parades. They also paused for two minutes at 11 am for a moment of silence. People pray for the soldiers or think of them quietly during moments of silence. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier A World War I soldier was buried...

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Get Ready, Butterflies! Winter’s Coming!

Get Ready, Butterflies! Winter’s Coming!

When cold winds rattle the last leaves on the trees, we prepare for winter. We snuggle under extra blankets, slurp up warm soups, or even travel south. God helps butterflies get ready, too. In summer, monarch butterflies live just a few weeks, flitting from flower to flower to sip nectar. But autumn monarchs can live eight months. They soar south on the fall winds to live in warm Mexico. There, fluttering black and orange monarchs cover every inch of some trees, making them look like tall, stained-glass windows. When spring comes, they mate and head north. Mourning cloak butterflies don’t migrate. As it gets colder, they shelter under tree bark and rocks. God gave them special proteins and extra sugars to keep their insides toasty warm. In early spring they...

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Aviation Boot Camp

Aviation Boot Camp

by Lori Layne Billy grasped the yoke in his hands and pushed forward slowly. The plane tilted towards the earth and began to race down. He held his breath. “Great job.” The instructor smiled and pulled the airplane back level. Tim was an Aviation Boot Camp pilot with a love for Jesus and Aviation, in that order. This day’s lesson allowed Billy and Tim to get closer to heaven as they soared high in the sky. The writer of Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Tim said, “Here’s a mind-blowing fact about the universe, Billy. If the sun were as tall as a typical front door, Earth would be the size of a nickel. Do you understand that God made all of this?” “You mean that cloud that looked...

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Columbus Day

Columbus Day

When Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain on August 3, 1492, he planned to create a sea route to India and China. Columbus took three ships Columbus was an Italian explorer. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who ruled Spain, believed in Columbus’s plan to find China so he sailed west with three ships: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. Columbus landed in the Bahamas Columbus landed in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, but thought he reached the Indies. Most Europeans scholars knew the world was round European scholars knew the earth was round in 1492. They didn’t know about the Pacific Ocean. They believed that sailing across the Atlantic Ocean would lead them eventually to China and Japan. Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean again and...

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Surrounded by Fish

Surrounded by Fish

Mrs. Moses Diary “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” Exodus 14:21-22 (NIV) by Bonnie Beardsley Dear Diary, Pharaoh let us go after the last plague. Even the Egyptians were glad that we were leaving. We could have gone a shorter way when we left but that was not the way God showed with the pillar of fire and cloud for us to go. It led us to the Red Sea. Pharaoh must have changed his mind. His army came after us. The people started to panic. Then the pillar of fire and the cloud moved from in...

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