31 December, 2009

Celebrating...the end of a decade

Can you believe that it's been 10 years since the new millennium started? Wow...time moves so fast! Seems like it was yesterday when we were stockpiling food and cash in anticipation of computer issues when the year changed to 2000. Well, tomorrow is the dawn of a new year and a new decade. Here's a nice look back at the good and the not-so-good from the last year of the first decade of the "new" millennium. Thanks Yahoo.com.



Goodbye 2009!

Hello 2010!!

Happy New Year!!!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa

30 December, 2009

Celebrating...Kwanzaa

Hi guys!! This has been a crazy month and I know that I have neglected my duties here, But being African American, I could not let this year end without telling you about a celebration that is happening in my community during this time, Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa is a celebration of family, community and culture. It is a week long celebration which begins on December 26th and concludes on January 1st. First celebrated in 1966, Kwanzaa was created to reaffirm and restore African American's rootedness in African culture. Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one.
The focus of this celebration revolves around seven principles, called the Nguzo Saba (in Swahili). Each day is assigned a principle with the first day being Umoja which is Unity...to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race. Day 2 is Kujichagulia or self-determination...to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves. The third day is Ujima or collective work and responsibility...to build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together. Day four is Ujamaa or cooperative economics...to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together. The fifth day is Nia or purpose...to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness. The sixth day is Kuumba or creativity...to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. The final day is Imani or faith...to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
There is a specific way that the celebration is to take place, but over time people have personalized them so celebrations can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. Some families have daily ceremonies and others do a big celebration on the final day. There are several symbols that are used in conjunction with these celebrations. The most familiar is the Kinara which holds the Mishumaa Saba (a set of seven candles representing the Nguzo Saba---3 red candles, 1 black candle and 3 green candles). The Kinara sits on the Mkeka (mat) along with the Kikombe cha Umoja which is a unity cup.

I hope that you enjoyed learning a little bit about my culture and Kwanzaa. For more information visit: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org
Harambee! Harambee! Harambee!!

Luv Ya!
Pixxa

24 December, 2009

Celebrating...Merry Christmas Eve!

I can't believe that it's Christmas Eve already! Christmas is the best time of the year and I love all of the planning and anticipation that leads up to it. But I don't understand this year---where did that time go? I don't know what happened that time got away from me, but here it is Christmas Eve and I haven't accomplished one-fourth of what I'd hoped.

But I did want to post some pictures from a recent adventure that I had touring around as a tourist in my own city.

A week or so ago, my friends Kara and Stephanie and I decided to take our first ride on the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) Holiday Train. This train is no normal train by any stretch of the imagination, but instead looks like something straight out of the North Pole. The train is decorated inside and out. The outside is covered with lights and seasonal decorations and has Christmas music playing. The inside of each car has specifically upholstered seats, candy cane wrapped poles, red and green lights, and the ads are custom tailored to the theme too. And inside each car is a Santa Helper passing out candy canes to all who board. But the thing that makes this train the most special, is that right in the middle is a flatbed type car where the big guy, (yes, Santa himself) rides and waves as he passes by. After we rode the train, we decided to stop at a few of the attractions downtown to check out the festivities and decorations. Our first stop was an unplanned stop. As we were passing by one of the buildings, we spied the lovely lobby display and went in to check it out. There was a very nice display that reminded you of Christmas in Miami. There were dolphins, palm trees and even pink flamingos. Very cute! Next we stopped at the Daley Plaza to see the City of Chicago Christmas Tree and the ChristkindlMarket. This was the first time in several years that the city used one tree instead of building the enormous tree from hundreds of smaller trees. The reviews were mixed, but I think it's beautiful! The ChristkindlMarket is the largest traditional German holiday market outside of Germany in downtown Chicago on Daley Plaza. There were several outdoor booths set up. Some had gifts from other countries and others had food from other countries. It was a great place to find cute little unique gifts and the prices weren't bad either.
Our next stop was Macy's to see the infamous Christmas Windows. The theme was The Journey of Letters to Santa and the windows were very colorful and mostly rather futuristic. As you walked from window to window you saw how the letter you write gets processed and delivered to Santa. The Windy Pixel has better pix than mine if you'd like to check it out. After a brief stop in Filene's Basement for a quiick warm up, we went to our final stop, the Lions at the Art Institute. Each year there is a wreathing ceremony where the two lions receive each receive a wreath so that are "dressed" for the season. This year the Art Institute opened it's new Modern Wing so they decided to kick off the season with modern wreaths and then midway through change to the traditional wreaths. We were lucky? enough to see the modern wreaths. Here's a link to the tradition wreaths. I'm usually a modern girl, but prefered the traditional wreaths for these landmarks. Well, I hope that you enjoyed my brief (ha ha!) re-cap of a cold, pre-Christmas evening in Chicago.

Now...time to get those cookies and glass of milk in place. Santa is on his way!!

Celebrate...pre-Christmas festivities!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa

15 December, 2009

Celebrating...those who serve

Sorry but I haven't been in much of a celebration mode, but this email was re-circulated to me today so I thought I would share it...in celebration of those who serve their country and others.

May God bless those who put their lives on the line for the safety and protection of others!!

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS,
HE LIVED ALL ALONE,
IN A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE MADE OF
PLASTER AND STONE.

I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY
WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE,
AND TO SEE JUST WHO
IN THIS HOME DID LIVE.

I LOOKED ALL ABOUT,
A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,
NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS,
NOT EVEN A TREE.

NO STOCKING BY MANTLE,
JUST BOOTS FILLED WITH SAND,
ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES
OF FAR DISTANT LANDS.

WITH MEDALS AND BADGES,
AWARDS OF ALL KINDS,
A SOBER THOUGHT
CAME THROUGH MY MIND.

FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFERENT,
IT WAS DARK AND DREARY,
I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDIER,
ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.

THE SOLDIER LAY SLEEPING,
SILENT, ALONE,
CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR
IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.

THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE,
THE ROOM IN SUCH DISORDER,
NOT HOW I PICTURED
A UNITED STATES SOLDIER.

WAS THIS THE HERO
OF WHOM I'D JUST READ?
CURLED UP ON A PONCHO,
THE FLOOR FOR A BED?

I REALIZED THE FAMILIES
THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT,
OWED THEIR LIVES TO THESE SOLDIERS
WHO WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.

SOON ROUND THE WORLD,
THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY,
AND GROWNUPS WOULD CELEBRATE
A BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DAY.

THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM
EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR,
BECAUSE OF THE SOLDIERS,
LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.

I COULDN'T HELP WONDER
HOW MANY LAY ALONE,
ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE
IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.

THE VERY THOUGHT
BROUGHT A TEAR TO MY EYE,
I DROPPED TO MY KNEES
AND STARTED TO CRY.

THE SOLDIER AWAKENED
AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE,
'SANTA DON'T CRY,
THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE;

I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM,
I DON'T ASK FOR MORE,
MY LIFE IS MY GOD,
MY COUNTRY, MY CORPS.'

THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER
AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP,
I COULDN'T CONTROL IT,
I CONTINUED TO WEEP.

I KEPT WATCH FOR HOURS,
SO SILENT AND STILL
AND WE BOTH SHIVERED
FROM THE COLD NIGHT'S CHILL.

I DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE
ON THAT COLD, DARK, NIGHT,
THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR
SO WILLING TO FIGHT.

THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER,
WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,
WHISPERED, 'CARRY ON SANTA,
IT'S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE.'

ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH,
AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT.
'MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND,
AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT.'


This poem was written by a Marine

The following is his request......

PLEASE, would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S. service men and
women, for our being able to celebrate these festivities.

Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us. Please, do your small part to plant this small seed.

Celebrate...and plant a small seed of gratitude!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa

04 December, 2009

Celebrating...an oldie---kind of

Just saw this on a friend's facebook page and just had to share. Enjoy!



Celebrate...RE-MIX!!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa

01 December, 2009

Celebrating...24 more days until Christmas

Happy December 1st!! Christmas Crunch Time!! I absolutely LOVE this time of year!! The decorations...people smiling on the street...shopping...Christmas Carols...and plans to get together with family and friends!! I kicked off my holiday season this past Saturday at a sing-a-long at The Music Box Theatre here in Chicago. They featured The Sound of Music and it was an interactive, sing-a-long, fun, good time!! They gave us various props that we were to use throughout the movie...and with the words scrolling on the screen, it was almost like being in the movie!!
Growing up in Chicago, it seems that one of the local traditions (I've not found anyone outside of the Chicago area who remotely knows what I am talking about with this) was the viewing of 3 short animated films that were always played on our local network, WGN. I was excited to find them on YouTube last year and I posted them here (December 15, 2008 post). So since these speak Christmas to me, I thought I would try to make this an annual tradition. So without further adieu. I bring you...

SUZY SNOWFLAKE (courtesy of the Museum of Broadcast Communications)




FROSTY THE SNOWMAN (courtesy of the Museum of Broadcast Communications)



HARDROCK COCO AND JOE (courtesy of the Museum of Broadcast Communications)



And remember...only 24 more days (23 more shopping days) until Christmas!!!

Celebrating...the Christmas season!!

Luv Ya!!
Pixxa