Brooms, Spiders & Roller Skates – Christmas Customs

 

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Like most legends and customs, they are not necessarily celebrated in every part of a country.  For example, in Norway there is the legend that on Christmas Eve, witches and evil spirits enter homes looking for brooms to ride open. To stop these evil witches from causing trouble, kids hide the brooms.  In some cases, a man  (or woman) takes a shotgun outside and fires it into the air.  The idea is to scare bad witches and spirits away so that Christmas can be celebrated in peace and love.

 

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In Ukraine, Christmas trees are often decorated with spider webs or an ornament which is hidden deep inside the pine tree.  Whoever finds the ornament or web may receive a special gift accompanied by good luck for the coming year.  There is a nice story or folk tale about a poor widowed mother  who could not afford decorations for her family’s Christmas tree. One Christmas morning she awoke to find a spider had beautifully decorated the tree with its web.  (A spider is also associated with the spirit and strength of women).

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In Caracas, Venezuela, there is a tradition to attend morning Mass starting on December 16th and ending either on Christmas Eve Mass (Dec 24th) or Christmas Day Mass (Dec. 25th).  This is not unusual for a Catholic country, but the manner in which Mass attendance is done is unusual and great!  Everyone gets to the church on roller skates or roller-blades.

The streets are blocked off to vehicular traffic until 8 am and children, the night before, tie one end of a piece of string to their big toes and hang the other end out the window. As roller skaters go by the next morning, they give a tug to all the strings hanging out the windows.

However you celebrate Christmas, may you have love, peace, joy and good health this season.  And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, may you also have the same good wishes.    Pauline.

Let Your Dog Give Blood So Other Dogs Can Live

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Just like humans, animals need operations and blood transfusions.  Dogs get into accidents and this is another reason that they need blood.  Some dogs get certain diseases and their blood becomes weak.  They need another healthy dog to donate blood – just like humans give blood.

Not Every Dog Can Give Blood

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The vet is the best person to ask if your dog can contribute blood.   It is not painful.  Usually, a vet will not take an old dog, as this dog might get sick if he or she gives blood.  Also is you own a very small dog, he or she also does not qualify to give blood.  Your dog must be healthy and weigh at least 25 kg ( 55 lbs).  The best dog donor is a dog that is easy-going and will not have a panic attack in the vet’s place.

There are Lots of Sick Animals (not just dogs).

There can be a shortage of human blood and hospitals and blood clinics ask adults to donate.  My mother received blood transfusions and she lived because another person cared enough to donate.  Dogs can only give blood to dogs and cats can only give blood to cat.  Your dog will not get sick from giving blood.

There can be blood shortages for animals, too.

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How Does a Dog Give Blood?

A needle will go into your dog’s jugular vein -this located along the neck.  It will not hurt.  Your dog will be able to walk out of the vet’s office.  Often, it is recommended that you give your pooch a rest day and lots of loving tender care.  Your dog is, after all, a hero and deserves some extra treats.   Thanks to you and your dog, some another dog will be receiving blood that will help it to live.   If your dog was sick and needed an operation, wouldn’t you be glad that some other dog had donated?

 

 

Nature: Strange Animal and Human Facts

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–Nose prints are used to identify dogs, in the same way that humans are identified by fingerprints.

–Slugs have 4 noses.Unknown-3

–Hippo milk is pink

–Americans love dogs because they have 58 million of them.

–Dogs and cats are either right or left handed…or left pawed and right pawed.

–Saudi Arabia imports camels from Australia

Human Beings

Unknown-5–If you want to wake up in the morning, eat an apple rather than reach for a cup of coffee.

–Do you realize that humans blink over 10 million times in a year.

–The heart of a blue whale is so large that humans can swim through

–During the average person’s lifetime, he/she will eat about 60,000 pounds of food. Now, that’s the weight of about 6 adult elephants.

Unknown-6–Humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas.

–Be glad that you are living in the 21st century, if you lived in Egypt about 3,000 years ago, you would not be expected to live past 30.

–Use a hankerchief, a sneeze travels at over 100 m.p.h.

Help Yourself to Happiness: Helen Steiner Rice

Help Yourself To Happiness – Helen Steiner Rice

We are truly happy when we give to others.

Everybody, everywhere

seeks happiness, it’s true,

But finding it and keeping it

   seems difficult to do.

                                                                Happiness Sign

     Difficult because we think

that happiness is found

Only in the places where

wealth and fame abound.

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And so we go on searching

in palaces of pleasure

Seeking recognition

and monetary treasure,

Unaware that happiness

is just a state of mind

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Within the reach of everyone

who takes time to be kind.

For in making others happy

we will be happy, too.

For the happiness you give away

returns to shine on you.

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A Brand New Day: A Poem to Inspire Persons of All Ages

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THIS BRAND NEW DAY IS MINE,

TO SPEND EXACTLY AS I CHOOSE,

TO MARK WITH REAL ACCOMPLISHMENT,

OR TO SQUANDER AND MISUSE.

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TO FILL WITH LOVE AND CHEERFULNESS,

OR BITTERNESS AND PAIN.

IT IS MY CHOICE TO MAKE TODAY

A TOTAL LOSS OR GAIN.

 

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Climb Until Your Dreams Come True: Helen Steiner Rice (For Teens)

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        Climb ‘Til Your Dream Comes True –                                                                                                                             Poem by Helen Steiner Rice

Often your tasks will be many,
And more than you think you can do.
Often the road will be rugged
And the hills insurmountable, too.

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But always remember, the hills ahead
Are never as steep as they seem,
And with Faith in your heart start upward
And climb ‘Til you reach your dream.

For nothing in life that is worthy
Is never too hard to achieve
If you have the courage to try it
And you have the Faith to believe.

For Faith is a force that is greater
Than knowledge or power or skill
And many defeats turn to triumph
If you trust in God’s wisdom and will.

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For Faith is a mover of mountains.
There’s nothing that God cannot do,
So start out today with Faith in your heart
And ‘Climb ‘Til Your Dream Comes True’ !

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Animal Quotes for that School Assignment

 

dogsdogs“Happiness is a warm puppy.”― Charles M. Schulz

“Dogs never bite me. Just humans.” ―Marilyn Monroe

“Animals are my friends…and I don’t eat my friends.”― George Bernard Shaw

“I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it’s such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her.”― Ellen DeGeneresUnknown-3

“I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it’s such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her.”

― Ellen DeGenereshorses

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”― Anatole France

“You think those dogs will not be in heaven! I tell you they will be there long before any of us.”

― Robert Louis Stevenson

Spoiled? Maybe! However, I'm a goddess

Spoiled? Maybe! However, I’m a goddess

Unknown-7If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the catwould have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.”― Mark Twain

 

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“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” (unknown)

Unicorns Come At Night – Children’s Story of the Loss of a Pet

The loss of a pet is a sad time for children and teens. Chestnut, a beloved horse, is dying. Does Jill really see a unicorn and what is its purpose?

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Unicorns Come at Night appears in Pauline’s collection of stories called: “Gentle Journeys for Children,”  (Published by Progressive Education, India.) ISBN 9731017-1-2.

 

Reviews from Author and CBC Broadcaster.

  1. Pauline Gallagher is a Canadian writer of children’s short stories. Her close association with children has given her an insight into their nature, and armed with this perception, she unfolds and weaves a variety of tales in GENTLE JOURNEYS.

These stories entertain as they educate and enlighten.  Mala Thapar, Author of Children of India.

 These wonderful stories are meant to read out loud. My two children (3 and 5 years old) loved the characters, and the situations they got themselves into. They were engaged and entertained. I’m sure these stories will encourage their love of reading. I also enjoyed the many levels of meaning in these stories. And my children and I had terrific conversations about what the stories meant to them.

Joan Melanson (Broadcast Journalist for CBC – (Canadian Broacast Corporation.

Synopsis: Unicorns Come at Night

It is heartbreaking for anyone to lose a pet, especially for children. I have provided the reader with the death of an animal with the promise of life for their pet in the Happy Hunting Grounds. Here is how the story began. On a holiday near the city of Boston, USA, I visited a pet cemetary. It was a bitter-sweet combination of loss together with loving memories. One particular statue stood out and it was a tribute to a beloved horse that was buried there. I wondered what was the horse’s story, and so I wrote this fictional story.

Unicorns Come at Night  by Paula Key© 2015.  This will become a children’s ebook in early 2016.

Unicorns Come at Night

Unicorns Come At Night- Book Cover

Unicorns Come At Night-Book Cover designed by Tina Green and given to Pauline as a gift.

Chapter 1 – Chestnut and Jill

 

Unknown-5They knelt around him, their bodies casting shadows around the dimly lit stable. The veterinarian looked at Mr. Morgan and Jill. He shook his head. Jill Morgan felt a cold shiver creep over her entire body. She felt powerless as she looked down at her dying horse. Tears filled the teenager’s eyes. Her stomach felt tight and sore.

“Come along, Jill. Why don’t we let Chestnut rest? suggested Mr. Morgan. He led his daughter out of the barn. Glancing back for one last look, Jill’s sobbing shook her body. She reached for the door to steady her feet. Mr. Morgan put his arm around his daughter’s shoulder. His voice was gentle and full of love.

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“Chestnut has lived a long, long life. Right now, he is a very sick horse.”

“Why don’t you just say that he is dying?” yelled Jill, as she twisted herself free of her father’s arm

“All things must die, Jill.” whispered her father.

This was a fact that Jill could not deny. Why did death have to happen to her horse? She was not ready for such an event. Her head began to hurt and she felt dizzy again. It was impossible to imagine a day without Chestnut. Slowly, she walked with her father back to the house. There was an uncomfortable silence. Neither of them knew what to say.

The dinner food remained on Jill’s plate in spite of encouraging words from her mother. Amy, her younger sister, spoke non-stop about her friends in the third grade. Jill smiled and tried to talk whenever someone spoke to her. As if sensing her pain, Mrs. Morgan gave permission for her daughter to leave the table.

“It will be over by morning!” her father’s voice was kind and yet, firm.

Fear and panic exploded in Jill’s mind. She rushed upstairs to the peace and safety of her bedroom.images-4

Tears flooded her pillow, as Jill buried her face in it. She felt alone and afraid. Inside her were many questions about death. What was it like to die? Did animals and humans go to the same place? Why did death have to take people and animals that were loved?

The night became darker. Jill could not stop thinking about death. Her grandparents were both dead. Grandpa Morgan had died four years earlier.

Just weeks before his death, grandpa asked Jill to take care of old Chestnut. She had kept her promise and the horse became her best friend. Now, just like her grandpa, Chestnut would soon be dead. Life did not seem fair. Life had too much pain in it.

ill rolled over to the edge of the bed and took a picture frame off the side table. She smiled at the joy on the faces of grandpa and grandma Morgan.

Chestnut, a young horse, was pulling their wedding day carriage. Jill did not remember her grandmother. She had died before Jill was born. What would she have been like? How did grandpa feel after she died? Jill had asked her grandpa these questions. Now her mind would go back in time to remember the answers.

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There was one particular night that Jill remembered. She was a small girl at grandpa’s farm. The two of them played a favorite game. Jill sat on his knees on the old rocker and he would say the same familiar words.

“Jill ask me a question, any question!”

Together, they had covered such topics as the stars, unicorns, earthquakes and foreign countries. One particular night, Jill had asked him a different question.

“Grandpa, why did grandma die?”

She remembered that he had not answered immediately. When he did, there were tears in his eyes. His voice was sad when he spoke.

“Jill, your grandmother died because it was the time for her to go!”

“Go where, grandpa?”

“There is a place for everyone and everything that dies,” replied her grandpa. “It is a great place of happiness.   North American Indians call it the “Happy Hunting Grounds.”

Her grandfather showed Jill a painting he had displayed in his office.   Jill noted that the artist was Sophie Iremonger. She saw many horses, birds and animals.

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Jill wanted desperately to believe that such a place existed. The clock ticked away as Jill slept. Suddenly, a familiar noise woke her up. Had she been dreaming or had she heard Chestnut?

Scrambling out of bed, Jill made her way down the stairs and out to the barn.

The heavy breathing of Chestnut told Jill that he was still alive. She adjusted the warm blanket, and gently stroked his head. Chestnut opened his eyes and snorted. This was his way of greeting her. For a moment, she looked at each other through the eyes of love.

Jill started to speak to Chestnut. She lay down in the straw and put her arm across his neck. His warm face felt good against her cheek. He snorted and it was the snort of happiness. Without warning, Chestnut’s body shook. Jill became frightened. She began to speak out loud to him.

“Chestnut, do you remember the first time we met?

Do you remember how we trained and trained?

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Of course, I fell off many times, but you always came to see if I was O.K.”

Chestnut opened his eyes and snorted gently.

“You understand, don’t you? Do you remember the golden statue we won?”

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And now, my bedroom is full of all the trophies and ribbons we won together. If you get well, we could win more!”

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Chestnut’s body shook. Jill hugged him closer to herself. She wondered what would happen to Chestnut after he died. Was there a horse heaven? She had read more about the Happy Hunting Grounds after her grandfather’s story. Would Chestnut go there?

 

 

The thoughts of Chestnut dying made Jill cry. She sobbed quietly. Chestnut opened one eye. Jill thought she saw tears in it. Was he aware that he was dying? In the next few seconds, he made an effort to gently nibble her hand. Jill bent down and kissed him on the side of the face. Suddenly, and without warning, Chestnut stopped breathing. Jill shook his head.

“Breathe! Chestnut, breath!” yelled the girl.images-6

There was no sign of life in the eyes of Chestnut. Jill began frightened. She jumped to her feet. She could not control her voice. She screamed, “Chestnut, it’s not time for you to go!”

 

images-7Startled by Jill’s shouting, a large owl took off from a beam near the roof of the barn. Jill walked behind it and watched it fly out into the night sky.

 

 

 

Above her, stars twinkled and stretched out like an enormous carpet of diamonds. A full moon lit up the speckled sky.Unknown-2

Just then, Jill noticed a dark object moving across the face of the moon. She stared through her tears, unable to identify the shape. The dark image was coming closer to her. What could it be? Jill rubbed her eyes in disbelief at what she saw. Heading towards her was a winged unicorn.

 

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The young girl looked immediately towards the barn. She told herself that her mind was playing tricks on her. People often imagined that they were seeing things when they were upset. And she was upset!

Jill stopped looking at the night sky. She decided that she should return to the house.

“I will wake up mom and dad. They should know that Chestnut has died!”

Saying these words out loud made Jill cry again.

The night air felt refreshing as Jill turned the corner of the barn. Her home was in sight. She felt safe. She decided that there was no unicorn flying in the night sky. She might as well look up at the sky again.

She had not been imagining things – her heart was wildly thumping. Approaching from the northwest, just above the treetops, was a magnificent white unicorn!

Unicorns Come At Night- Book Cover

Unicorns Come At Night-
Book Cover

Jill stared at the wonderful sight. Large wings balanced its beautiful body, as it descended slowly towards the ground. The young girl marveled as the wings curled backward helping to slow its speed. Jill had seen airplanes reduce speed by using parachutes in a similar way.

“No one will believe me!” Jill said to herself.

Closer and closer came the unicorn, adjusting its speed. As its hooves touched the concrete driveway, sparks flew in all directions.

“There must be marks all over the road,” thought Jill. She remembered that her father had recently paved the driveway.

“Dad is going to be really mad when he sees those skid marks!”

Sleep was now out of the question. She forgot that he intention was to tell her parents about Chestnut’s death. Instead, Jill hid behind a rain barrel.

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The magnificent unicorn walked gracefully towards the barn. Her coat was dazzling white. Silver curls of silk-like hair hung down each side of her mane. A glistening golden horn emerged from the centre of her head. It was studded with diamonds and gems of many colours.

 

The moonlight cast a shadow on the unicorn. Jill watched the ground. The shadow danced like a pony when it moved. Each hoof was lifted with the face of a ballerina and they flashed when moonbeams hit them. The unicorn pranced towards the barn with its ringlets bouncing from her mane.

“She must be the Queen of the Unicorns, but why was she here. Why was she going into Chestnut’s barn?

End of sample Chapter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belinda’s Dandelion by Pauline Gallagher : Bullying & Diversity

Here is one of my stories.  It celebrates diversity and illustrates how easily it is to become part of a bullying situation.

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Pauline Gallagher, M.Ed   Art by Jean T Murphy

Plus: Bonus Article: “Dandelions: Ancestry and Fun Facts.”

Published in Pauline’s Gentle Journeys for Children”

(Published by Progressive Education, India.) ISBN 9731017-1-2.

Plus Bonus Article   “Dandelions: An Ancestry of Dandelions and Fun FactsIMG_0488 (2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Pauline was born in Ireland and has lived in England and Australia. She has taught literature in High School and enjoys the challenge of daily blogging. Pauline has enjoyed success with many of her children’s stories.

(i) BELINDA’S DANDELION is one of her many stories originally published in her book, “Gentle Journeys: Stories of Awareness for Children.”

This collection was published by Progressive Education, India and sold to Indian schools. (ISBN 9731017-1-2).

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It was a warm spring day, when a Dandelion woke up and took her first look at a beautiful world. All around her were dazzling colors, wonderful scents and delightful sounds.

There were other plants in the garden. They had also bloomed for the first time. These plants were dressed in nature’s finest clothes. The little Dandelion was quick to tell everyone how beautiful each one looked.

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The Crocus felt the Dandelion’s love and said,  “Dandelion, your head is like the color of the sun. You are very pretty plant.”

The Dandelion was happy to live in a garden where plants were friendly and kind to one another.

Night came to the garden. The plants began to whisper goodnight. Suddenly, an angry plant yelled out in the darkness.

“It is NOT a good night! We have a weed amongst us.”

“What’s a weed?” asked the Dandelion.

The angry plant made herself tall as she spoke.

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“A weed is useless and ugly. Sometimes, it even tries to look like a flower.”

The Dandelion had more questions.

“Who are you? How do you know such things?”

The angry plant twisted her stem and shook her petals.

“I am a perennial. This means that I bloom each year. Tomorrow, the gardener will water the flowers and pull out ugly weeds.”

The Dandelion looked around her. The moon had begun to shine her light on the plants. They looked so pretty.

“Lady Perennial,” said the Dandelion respectfully. “I see no weeds in this garden. Everyone is different and each plant is beautiful.”

The Perennial twisted her stem again and hissed at the Dandelion.

“Stupid Dandelion! You are the only horrible weed among us!”

The Dandelion shivered with fear as all of the plants looked in her direction.

A Pansy spoke up.

“Lady Perennial, who decides which plant is a flower and which plant is a weed?”

“Humans made this decision a long time ago.” answered the Perennial.

The Pansy was confused. “But, she looks and speaks like one of us. I don’t think we should put her down by calling her a bad name. That would make us bullies.”

“Weeds have no feelings!” replied the Perennial. “They cannot feel pain like plants.”

The Dandelion did feel the pain of the Perennial’s words. She turned to her friend the Crocus.

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“Dear Crocus, you told me that my head was like the sun. Please tell me that the Perennial’s words are untrue.”

Now, the Crocus was afraid of the Perennial. If she stood up for the Dandelion, maybe the Perennial would pick on her, too.

“I never said that your head was like the sun. You, Dandelion are just a lying weed!”

This is a sneak peak.

Pauline.

You can find this story and other stories on Amazon.

 

 

 

Desiderata: A Great Poem for Teens

desiderata – by max ehrmann

images-11Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story.

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Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

 

Unknown-6Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

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Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

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But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

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Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

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Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann c.1920