Sunday, December 18, 2011
(Written in 2005, and lifted from my files...still may be interesting to some, especially related to Christmas history.)
Hey, I'm a Christmas junkie. I love the music, the food, the giving of gifts, and the fact we celebrate Christ’s birth.
As soon as Thanksgiving hits, I start scanning the car radio for Christmas music, and this year I have found several stations that are playing the music 24/7. One station is in Louisville (106.9) and the other in Santa Claus, In (103.3).
I enjoy the Christmas music, especially the old carols and tunes. It seems there haven’t been many new good Christmas songs added to the old favorites. I also enjoy the old Christmas TV shows, and some of the new ones are enjoyable too.
Christmas has always been an important celebration with the Junker family. In the past, it included a trip to church on Christmas eve. The kids of the church always put on the special program.
After the service, the entire clan gathered at Grandma Junker’s house. There was chili and oyster stew, plus sandwiches and Christmas cookies. Santa came and we kids all received a toy. We had to wait until later to receive the gifts he left for us at our individual homes.
The next day after we had our individual Christmas celebrations at home, we gathered again at Grandma’s house for a big family dinner--lots of really good stuff to eat, especially desserts.
This year, the family Christmas celebration came early. As kids get married and have their own kids, and each family has two sets of in-laws, it is difficult to get everyone together as we did in the past. However this year we had a great gathering and wonderful dinner a week early. It wasn't quite the same, but still wonderful.
In this country, most people celebrate Christmas related to our religious holiday; however thinking about the holiday caused me to do a bit of research. I knew that many of our symbols originally were pagan symbols, but was surprised that a winter celebration goes back much further than the birth of Jesus.
Many Europeans rejoiced during the winter solstice when they believed the worst of the winter weather was behind them. They would look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.
The Norse in Scandinavia celebrated the Yule season starting Dec. 21, which is the winter solstice, through the month of January. The men of families would bring home large logs in recognition of the return of the sun. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could be as long as 12 days.
The Norse were delighted to see sparks fly. It seems they thought every spark represented a pig or cow that would be born during the next year.
For most Europeans, it was probably the best time of the year to celebrate and feast. Most of them had slaughtered most of their cattle, rather than feed them through the winter, so there was plenty of fresh meat on hand. Also, it was time that most wine had been fermented and was ready for drinking.
Also occurring this time of year is Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. This year for the first time since 1959, Hanukkah and Christmas overlap as Hanukkah starts at sundown, Dec. 25..
Hanukkah, the Hebrew word for dedication, is an eight-day festival celebrating a victory for religious freedom in about 165 B.C. and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.
According to people of Jewish faith, During that rededication, there was only enough oil to light the temple for a day but, miraculously, it burned for eight days. That was enough time to prepare more oil for the menorah. To symbolize that miracle, an additional menorah candle is lighted each night. Because it is often near Christmas, Hanukkah has become a time for gift giving.
While the early Europeans had their reasons for celebrating this time of the year, I prefer ours.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and to my Jewish friends, happy Hanukkah.
It seems like it was just almost to hot to fish the other day. Then along came Thanksgiving, and now it’s almost Christmas.
As part of my Christmas tradition, I try to pass along some gift ideas for the outdoors person. Some people think it is tough to buy a Christmas gift for an outdoors person. But, really it’s easy.
Outdoors people love gadgets and anything that will help them enjoy their sport, whether they are anglers, hunters, boaters, hikers, or pursue any other form of outdoor recreation.
But in case you are short on ideas, here are a few that come to mind as we approach the final countdown for Old St. Nick. Several came from friends, and several are available online. However, most are available from local stores, which offer good service and connivence.
COLEMAN GRILL -- The Coleman Roadtrip grill is great for RVers, campers, tailgaters or cookouts in the backyard. It sells for about $179, but is a good investment.
The grill is fueled by propane. You can use the same bottles or attach a larger tank as I do during the winter in Florida. I cook on it almost every day.
The grill folds for easy transportation, yet has a 285-square inch cooking surface. There are removable mix and match surfaces, grill, griddle and stove top. Mine came with two grill surface and a year later I purchased a griddle top,which receives a lot of breakfast use.
The Coleman Roadtrip is available from most sporting goods stores, or may be ordered on line, including from the Coleman Company.
Coleman’s website even has a gift guide where you can view dozens of gift ideas by price range. It’s a Coleman.com
COCOONS -- Sunglasses for the outdoors person who wears glasses. Cocoons® is an excellent brand of optical quality sunglasses designed specifically to be worn over prescription eyewear.
Cocoons specializes in a variety of OveRx® (over prescription) options, from sunglasses, to clip-ons to low vision absorptive filters and more.
These special glasses can be purchased for under $50 and are available at a number of sports retailers and on-line.
HOOSIER GIFT -- Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources offers a number of items anyone would like to find under the Christmas tree.
Outdoor Indiana gift subscriptions are $12 per year, plus a calendar. And OI also sends a card announcing your gift.
Or, the $99 State Park Holiday Gift Pack includes a 2012 resident Annual Entrance Permit, an Indiana State Park Inns gift certificate worth $70, a one-year subscription to Outdoor Indiana magazine, and a 2012 Outdoor Indiana full-color calendar.
More information is available on the Outdoor Indiana Facebook page, or call Amy at 317-233-3046, or Jessica at 317-233-2347.
STOCKING STUFFER -- A fishing lure always makes a good stocking stuffer. Even if the recipient already has a duplicate, he or she can always use a duplicate. You never can have too many lures.
TIMELY GIFT -- Giving a gift of time to take someone fishing, hunting or hiking is special. Simply write on a card that you are giving them a trip in the outdoors. This is especially nice for a youngster or oldster, who might not be able to enjoy the activity alone.
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Contact writer Phil Junker by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Recently on an evening radio news show, the host and a guest
were discussing that fewer people these days take the time or effort to say, “Thank you.”
There were several speculations as to why. Younger people aren’t taught to say it, people just expect more, some just have learned or care about good manners. Maybe they don’t appreciate what they receive and what they have.
It seems the right thing to do to thank the waitress at the cafe for filling up my coffee cup, the pharmacy tech at the drug store for smiling and obtaining my scripts quickly, the woman at the hardware store for helping find an item. I’ve heard people say it is unnecessary. That’s their job.
However for me, a “thank you” is in order for good service and a smile. It just seem right. My grandkids do say it. Others should too.
OK Junker, why the “thank you” sermon.
It had been on my mind, and then a friend, Tammy Sapp, sent me a news release from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, which seems to be right on target related to the subject and the time of year. It’s relevant whether you are in New Hampshire or here in the Midwest.
“ If you're a hunter or angler, the holiday season is an important time to extend thanks to landowners who share access to their land, says Charles Miner Jr., who heads up the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Landowner Relations Program.
"The generosity of landowners often makes outdoor experiences possible, especially in a state like New Hampshire with more than 70% of land under private ownership," says Miner. "It really makes a difference when you take the time to let landowners know you appreciate their allowing access to hunt and fish on their property."
A few ways to say thanks to landowners::
• Visit the landowner at the end of the season to express your appreciation, and, if possible, provide them with some of your harvest.
• Send a personal note or holiday card to the landowner, thanking them for sharing their land.
• Send a gift basket, Fish & Wildlife Calendar, magazine subscription, or gift certificate to a local restaurant.
• Help them protect their property by documenting and reporting suspicious activities.
• Offer to help with outdoor tasks, or to clean up and properly dispose of illegally dumped materials left on their property.
If you are mentoring a young hunter or angler, be sure to include them in thanking the landowner – it's a great lesson for them to learn!
“Remember – the tradition of hunting will only continue if we all follow the basic principle of landowner relations: Treat the landowner as you would like to be treated and treat their land as you would like yours to be treated.
“Fish and Game’s Landowner Relations Program works in partnership with landowners, hunters and anglers to identify problems landowners experience in providing access, and work proactively to address them.
“As the foundation of the Landowner Relations Program’s efforts to work with landowners who provide access for hunting, Operation Land Share provides direct assistance to landowners to resolve issues resulting from sharing their land. Landowner Relations Program efforts are funded through generous donations, sponsorships and grants. If you'd like to help, or to learn more about the program, visit www.wildnh.com/landshare. Your support will help to provide access for present and future generations of hunters and anglers.
Many states have similar programs to make private land available to hunters, espescially after the growing season is over.. Such programs are important as the amount hunting land and habitat shrinks throughout the country.
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READER’S NOTE -- “Funny that you had an article about sandhill cranes in today’s newspaper. I heard and then saw my first sandhill cranes of the fall migrating south only yesterday. A few minutes later I heard some others and looked up saw my first Whooping Crane flying over the farm. It was with 15 sandhill cranes but larger and all white with jet black wing tips.
“The Whoopers used to fly east of here near Louisville but changed to Southern Illinois a few years ago to avoid the Smokies. I have seen whoopers in Texas but never before in Indiana.
“You might tell your readers to make sure they know the difference. There would probably be a jail term for shooting a whooper.”