Podcast #67- 316 Days to Go!

candy cane hearts

Podcast #67- 316 Days to Go!

Click here to listen to our latest podcast- Catching up for 2015!

We try to get back on track this week and collect our thoughts for 2015 podcasting.  Natalie and Jeremy discuss thoughts about holiday bargains, the 2014 Christmas wrap up, and lots and lots of craft ideas!
Snowmen, winter and snow days off from school also feature prominently in our chat leading up to Valentine’s Day 2015.  Listen in for all the details.

Where do Christmas elves come from? I mean, beyond the North Pole

photo-39At the auction yesterday, Jeremy and I bought a box with three bendable elves with an eye for using them on our tree for the Festival of Trees in November 2013.

We’ve written about elves several times, including the popular Elf on the Shelf, but our treasures yesterday got me to wondering about the origins of Christmas elves.

There’s no question that elves are part of ancient mythology, especially stories of Germanic and Scandinavian origin.  They have both a good and bad reputation, dividing along the lines of gnomes (bad) to elves (good).

Elves were not a part of American Christmas tradition until the Victorian era and a Louisa May Alcott Christmas story (unpublished) in 1950. Harper’s Weekly  published a poem, “The Wonders of Santa Claus”  that mentioned Santa’s elves in 1857. I’ve included a link to the curious poem, with illustrations.  Godey’s Lady’s Book, America’s most popular fashion and women’s magazine of the Victorian period, is credited with popularizing many Christmas traditions, including the Christmas tree and elves.  An engraving of Santa with his elves was featured on the cover of their 1873 issue.  This photo is of a page from that issue. elf engraving

I’ve included two additional links from elfcrazy.com.  This website is devoted to all things elven, and, while it’s a commercial site selling elf dolls, the information is fun to read and kid-friendly.  One link offers clever names for Santa’s elves and suggestions for naming your own elf.  Check them out. I’m partial to “Pepper Minstix.”  Jeremy has already named our three auction elves–we’ll reveal his most clever idea as we get closer to the Festival of Trees.

Black Friday- 2012

You’ve seen the ads, read the posts, and made your decision on this crazy annual transition to the holiday season.  Today was Black Friday 2012.  (well, I guess it technically started on Thursday night this year).  If you have been reading and following the Yule Log then you are familiar with our thoughts and ideas about this uniquely American tradition.  Natalie again posted yesterday promising her manifesto on the subject.  She was home busy cleaning the fridge last night (and nothing says Christmas like clean fruit and veggie drawers).  No cleaning projects for me, I was out in the madness of the moment.  Black Friday has become one of those annual experiences for me.  It just has to be done.  I have gone for years with family, but distance and other factors now let’s me go with new friends.  This year I dragged along my good friend Allie.  It was her first time and we did plenty of prep to be sure she was ready.  Flyers scanned and labeled.  Lists made.  Budget set.  Comfy shoes and snacks on hand.  Apps loaded.  Let me share our play-by-play of the grand adventure:

We began at my house at 7:00 PM.  After some quick strategizing and sharing plans we set out.  First stop was Michael’s for their 30% off everything coupon offering.  Next we headed to Wal-Mart for what they called “Event 1”, the 8 PM deals.  We got in and out by 8:20!  Next we darted cross town to Toys R Us.  Toys and bargains in hand we jumped into our first snaking line of the night.  Christmas luck shined on us and we were directed to a new line that moved really fast.  Out of there and on to Target for some advertised bargains.  First bump in our night- the LONG line in electronics.  We bailed on that part of our quest and check-out in the front lines.  Then it was back to Wal-Mart for “Event 2” at 10 PM.  This was the new option for the mart of the big deals that were guaranteed.  With a TV, blu ray and HDMI cables in the cart we headed to check out.  Screeching halt to our progress as we hit the wall of guests waiting to pay.  The next 50 minutes was spent making new friends in the line and hearing other people’s stories about Black Friday glories from the past (and a weird tale of a worker’s illness). While in the slow line, Allie was finally allowed to use the bathroom too.  When we left Wal-Mart we still had time left to run to Sear’s before the midnight opening of Kohl’s.  Snagged some good deals on tools there and then headed to Kohl’s.

Finally it was actually Friday!  Black Friday for real, landed us in our first outside line of the night.  We queued up in the chilly night air and waited about 8 minutes for the doors to open. We divided and conquered this time.  We swarmed the store, got everything on our lists, and somehow were the first people to check out with our cashier.  Back to the car by 12:10!  On to Best Buy and the largest crowds so far.  The newly remodeled Frederick store threw me for a loop since I wasn’t familiar with the new store layout. We got out in decent time and once again had everything on our list.  By now Allie and I were ready for some food.  Where to go at 2 AM on a Friday?  IHOP of course!  Full of eggs, bacon, and hash browns we headed back to Sear’s for the 4 AM door busters.  While there we also did a short walk-through of the mall (no purchases).  After this my novice companion was starting to fade.  We went to Bsocov’s and Allie stayed in the car to “rest” a little.  I snatched up pillows, socks, and some good gifts for super cheap.  Had to stop at Home Depot next to get my 99 cent poinsettia plants.  Allie “rested” some more:)  The time was now after 5 AM and we were entering hour 10!  Allie was re-energized and we hit our last three stores.  Lowes had BOGO storage bins, a fire safe, and other gifts on the list.  Staples had a crazy deal on some needed school supplies, including Sharpies.   Last stop in Frederick was A.C. Moore for 40% off coupon use.  After a quick pit-stop at my house to unload the car we headed to Timonium for the Festival of Trees!.  We got there a little early so we made one last stop at Wal-Mart to grab the last of our deals- $4 fresh pine wreaths!

Black Friday 2012 was a total success!  Allie is now a veteran and we had a great time on our adventure.  Ending with the Festival of Trees was also really fun and we still had money left to buy some special treats there.  Looking forward to Black Friday 2013!  Who wants to join us?