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Blessings and resolutions for the new year

December 27, 2013
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Counting our blessings this particular season, family, friends and health, we can add good weather. Counting good weather as a blessing may be stretching it a little, however our sunny south is making the holidays much easier and safer than in many parts of the country.

It is a real hardship having to deal with weather in the teens, and no electric or heat for a day or two. Your favorite family car stuck in a snow bank or upside down on an icy roadway. It is not a real great adventure stranded at an airport with a few hundred tired and cranky people, waiting and waiting.

Holiday joy can disappear real fast.

We still have tired and cranky people here to put up with, and airport delays, but we are not fighting cold weather which does add a terrible physical toll to human life.

It is such a temptation to go back home for major holidays to be with family and celebrate the good old times.

In reality, the back home family may prefer to be snowed in without having to worry how to keep everyone warm, happily entertained and safe from frost bite.

The recent 4 to 6 inches of fluffy white snow that covered parts of South Jersey a few weeks ago prompted calls to me. The calls were telling me I should hurry up and come up for a visit to see the beautiful snow. I was not convinced it would be worth the trouble.

The old day snows where we struggled with snowsuits, several times a day, with several kids, and there was plenty of snowy hills for sledding are nice memories.

Those kids mostly just remember the sledding fun and the hot chocolate later. They do not remember wet snowsuits and boots all over and numb fingers and missing gloves. I do. Been there done that.

Children who only get to slide around on man-made ice hills around here really do not experience the thrill of sledding, but they get a taste of that cold thrill and that seems to be enough.

When they graduate high school and finish collage, they can get a job and go skiing for their chill thrill. In the meantime, it may be for the best to just stay here and be warm. With all of the technology we have nowadays, you can share the thrill of snow while sipping a cool drink right here.

I do have to mention that one precious memory of a 4-year-old looking up at

the sky with wide eyes as he sees his first snow fall and his delight in trying to catch them on his tongue. Priceless.

We are having a bit of a chill right here this week. This is the season that it is a real blessing if you still have a sweatshirt from up North, in the back of the closet, or a turtle neck sweater, that still fits.

A new year is just around the corner. That is kind of a blessing, too. We can throw out the old and bring in the new: ideas for living more healthy, remembering old friends, more smiling, volunteering in the community and lots of other things to help us and others to get the most out of life. We are all passing this way just once, don't wait too long to do some good.

A new year is the season or rebirth. Celebrating the new year is one of the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago.

The Babylonian New Year celebration lasted for 11 days. Each day having its own particular mode of celebration. They became carried away with some of their pagan celebrations and the early Catholic Church condemned all the festivities as paganism.

As Christianity became more widespread, the early church began having

its own religious observances.

A bit more New Year's Eve history tells us that New Years Eve is December 31 of every year. It is celebrated in vountries that use the Gregorian calendar.

It was Julius Caesar who changed the New Years day to Jan. 1. He changed it in honor of Janus (God of all beginnings and gate keeper of heaven and earth). Janus was always depicted with two faces. One looking back to the old year (past) and one looking ahead to the new year (future).

One of the customs was to exchange gifts and then make resolutions to be friendly and good to one another.

The day was considered a feasting day for a while and some of the English colonies still kept March (spring) as the beginning of the new year.

In 1752, everyone seemed to adopt the Gregorian calendar, but still had some disagreements on how to celebrate the day. Puritans in New England felt Janus was an offensive pagan god and choose to simply ignore Jan. 1 a feasting day. Instead they just made the entire month of January as the first month, of the months.

Now we all consider New Year's Day as (the day after) and headache concoctions and junk food are enjoyed while watching football games on television.

The New Year's resolution tradition began when the Romans, who were very much into indulging themselves with excess, as a way of acting out all the chaos that they hoped a new year would rid them of. By purging yourself of all the excess energy and confessing your sins, you could start over in the new year - overcoming their weaknesses and make better citizens of themselves.

The custom of making New Year's resolutions came into vogue in the 20th century - with the understanding they would not be kept for long since humans were naturally backsliders by nature to their naughty habits and ways and would have to be renewed annually.

There is a lot more New Years Day and Eve history to be read on the computer. Too much for here. So count your blessings and renew your vows to have a better year.

One vow for all is to make our environment better, like the air and water issues we have. What can you do to help? The soil we plant our foods in, what can you do to help.

I do not have any tomatoes on my plant yet but blossoms, and the bell pepper has a tiny blob of green started. If you hurry, you can still plant something. You do not need a plot, just a wide pot, with some good soil, sun and water. Read your plant tag. They do well in the black nursery pots.

I like the smaller tomatoes because I have better luck with them. But I have family that does the big boy and has great results. Unfortunately he just lost a couple bell peppers to an iguana. Hard to discourage those things.

I also wanted to mention the lovely glass cylinder of red tulip bulbs I have growing in water. I now have two beautiful red tulips and three more bulbs with buds. Cool.

Happy New Year and happy gardening until we meet again.

H.I. Jean Shields is a past president of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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