Good News, Great Joy, All People

Firstly… Happy Christmas!  Today is Christmas Day… and I hope that where ever you are that you know that you are loved and that today what we celebrate is for you… it’s Good News, Great Joy and it’s for All People!

It has been a number of years since I have written a blog about Christmas… in fact, if my quick dig through the blog is correct, I have only written about it once on this blog… I did a whole series way back in 2011… but since, there has only been a few references to Christmas time and the occasional picture, but this week as we have been traveling through New Zealand, I have been thinking a lot about Christmas and all that we do to celebrate.  

Before leaving Melbourne Christmas was obvious and everywhere, there were songs, and gifts, food, lights and events and it all seemed to be everywhere all the time… It was quite overwhelming to be honest.  Since arriving in New Zealand I have discovered that over here, this appears to not be the case.  Christmas is much less obvious… perhaps this is because we have been doing touristy things and driving and not really frequenting shopping centres, but it seems to be much less constant here… and not just in one part… everywhere… Sure there are TV ads about Christmas and sales and the occasional Santa… but there is much less caroling, less lights, and generally less Christmas.  And while at first I found this wonderful and much less stressful, as Christmas Day has come closer and closer I have found myself longing for it… for the tinsel and lights, for the carols and community events, for a church to have something on for us to go to… 

Perhaps in New Zealand Christmas is just much more relaxed and they actually have it right, much less about the show and much more about the important stuff, taking a minute to stop and spend time with family? Or maybe being the end of December we’ve just missed it? I am not really sure… but I have found myself longing for the strangest things… homesick in a weird way for my ‘normal’ Christmas… which, in reality, is just as hectic and overwhelming as the weeks I described before we left.  

I have been trying to work out what exactly I am missing… and to be honest, I think it’s a few things… the familiarity of my Christmas Tree and decorations… the twinkle of the lights… and the communal carol singing… because Christmas is a story of good news and great joy… and the songs that we sing declare this over and over again, in beautiful harmonies with the occasional outrageous descant.  

A number of years ago our church’s Christmas series was on the theme ‘Good News, Great Joy, All People’ and it’s a phrase that has been stuck in my head ever since… but I think is mostly because it is true… and it’s adaptable to lots of mundane tasks you might like to declare at home.. for example… Good News, Great Joy, All People… Dinner is ready… or Good News, Great Joy, All People… I’ve finished the washing… see works for everything.  Anyway, at Christmas there is an opportunity to have shared joy with all people over the gift of Christ, the hope of the world, the comfort in his birth and the miracle it was (in fact the older I get and the further into Motherhood I journey, the more of a miracle I think it is).  

This year more than any other I have felt the weight of the world as it groans under poor human stewardship and been prompted over and over and over again to care for the land I live in and the people I live among… That in this difficult world full of pain, suffering, and problems that so often seem too big and difficult to comprehend… Where people seem to shun and judge first and listen second… Where my homeland burns and the land I am in has more rain and cold weather than a summer should or would normally contain… I know of a hope and light and joy that is for all people without a catch… and I have missed declaring this for weeks on end.  I suppose the challenge for me has been how do I celebrate and bring this hope to others without my pre-provided platform… or prompts?  And once again I think I have found my answer within the lyrics of a Christmas Carol… one I have blogged about before here way back in 2011… O Holy Night, but this time it has been the third verse that has caught me each time… it says…   

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is Peace
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother
And in His name, all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us Praise His Holy name
Christ is the Lord; O praise His name forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim
His power and glory evermore proclaim

So that’s what I will try to do today (and every day) to share this light… When Isaac wakes up to his makeshift paper Christmas tree, when we sing with Dave’s Grandparents’ at church, when we break bread with our family on a rare Christmas where we only have one destination to be… I will love, I will be a bringer of peace, and with my actions, I will be a bringer of Good News, Great Joy for all people.  

Tea Time with Em – Dec 24

Well here we are everyone… Day 24… the last day of the Advent Calendar… it’s Christmas Eve… and I am almost out of tea… If you are have endured this review process and are still reading these blogs… congratulations… I will try to make the blog a little more exciting after Christmas… there will be no more tea reviewing for the foreseeable future… I also promise not to do this again… because it turns out that while I have enjoyed the novelty of the tea Advent Calendar when it comes to the teas I like I am actually pretty boring… I just like black tea… nothing fancy… just black tea.

Through this process though I have tried new things, I have confirmed that I am not a fruit tea person and found a couple of teas that I could be tempted by again… and that some of these new teas I can have without my usual one sugar, so that’s a plus… but mostly I have just confirmed that I am most likely to stick to the plain stuff… Thanks for sticking around… I hope it wasn’t too tedious.

Tomorrow for Christmas day my gift to you will be no more tea reviews and my gift to myself will be a regular ceylon tea…

Day 24:

Tea: Christmas Breakfast 
Initial Reaction: I thought you might be hiding here Christmas breakfast… and what a good idea to pop you last…    
Brew Time: 4 mins 
Enjoyed with: a dash of milk
Flavour: Good… There is a lot going on in this tea… and I was hoping for a relaxing finish to a hectic season… but the tea is also hectic… it tastes like Christmas spice… and look it’s probably me not the teas… but I do enjoy a less is more with spice… but it was a fun way to finish… 
Score: 6/10

Bonus review from Dave: Not as festive as I hoped… I was looking for some real excitement… 7/10

Tea Time with Em – Dec 22

Day 22:

Tea: Melbourne Breakfast 
Initial Reaction: Hello my old friend!    
Brew Time: 4 mins 
Enjoyed with: Milk
Flavour: I am a fan of Melbourne breakfast… which is good because I am also a fan of Melbourne, Breakfast, and breakfasts in Melbourne, it’s sweet and smooth and just delish
Score: 9/10

Tea Time with Em – Dec 21

Day 21:

Tea: Eggnog
Initial Reaction: In tea? Wonderful… and I love the pink… well done T2… I know it doesn’t look pink in the picture… but just trust me on this one.
Brew Time: 3 mins 
Enjoyed with: Milk
Flavour: I am yet to have any actual egg nog this season… so I’m not sure if this is what it’s supposed to taste like… but there is a LOT of vanilla… but it does taste festive 
Score: 6/10

Bonus review from Dave: much like the real thing if you drink too much of it you’re going to be sick… 2 cup maximum… 5/10

Tea Time with Em – Dec 20

Day 20:

Tea: Sleep Tight
Initial Reaction: Well this is awkward… where having this first thing in the morning because that’s the only time we have today   
Brew Time: 4 mins 
Enjoyed with: Nothing, just good water
Flavour: It’s good… I would enjoy this at the correct time of day
Score: 7/10

Bonus review from Dave: Relaxing… 7/10

Tea Time with Em – Dec 19

Day 19:

Tea: Go Go Goa
Initial Reaction: What the heck does that mean? What kinda tea even is this? 
Brew Time: 3 mins 
Enjoyed with: Milk and honey…
Flavour: Rooky error… I should have tasted this before I added the honey… all I can taste is honey… but if this was honey tea it hit the mark… 
Score: 5/10

Bonus review from Dave:  All I can taste is honey… what’s it supposed to be *emma reads description* oh it tastes like a weak Carmel latte… 6/10

Tea Time with Em – Dec 14-18

So it’s been a BUSY couple of days… but really no one cares because it’s Christmas time and let’s face it these reviews aren’t really mind-blowing… so you probably haven’t missed them all that much… so rather than do 5 separate posts, I thought I would just pop them all in this post together…

Day 14:

Tea: Chai
Initial Reaction: I had forgotten about Chai tea… this could be fun…   
Brew Time: 4 mins 
Enjoyed with: Milk and honey… probably a bit too much milk… it come out quicker than I thought it would…  
Flavour: Spicy and sweet… although honey will do that.  It’s actually quite nice… nicer than I had expected… although I think my expectations were fairly low… it’s always the cinnamon… 
Score: 7/10

Bonus review from Dave: Ummmm… it’s sweet… but it tastes exactly like I thought it would… 8/10

Day 15:

Tea: Spellbound Cider
Initial Reaction: I do love cider… but in tea form? I guess we will find out.  Brew Time: 3 mins 
Enjoyed with: Just water… but by the time I got to it mine was cold… that’s what you get when you’re busy… 
Flavour: Sweet… and cider my… I think it might have even been better cold… I am really realising that I am not a fruit tea person… but it wasn’t terrible… either my expectations for fruit tea are getting lower or I am learning to appreciate them better. 
Score: 6/10

Bonus review from Dave: It tasted like someone left the appletiser out at Christmas… 6/10

Day 16:

Tea: French Earl Grey
Initial Reaction: Oh I don’t mind an early grey… excellent… and this one is French 
Brew Time: 3 mins 
Enjoyed with: Milk and sugar… it’s how I’ve always had my earl grey… despite it telling me it will be fine by itself… lies…
Flavour: This one was super fruity… and sweet… but the sweetness was probably my fault… as far as earl grey’s go it was pretty tasty 
Score: 7/10

Day 17:

Tea: Jade Mountain 
Initial Reaction: sounds exotic… green tea and chocolate what an odd combination 
Brew Time: 3 mins 
Enjoyed with: Nothing… there is already enough going on here
Flavour: look if I haven’t already said it… I should… I’m not sure chocolate and tea mix in the tea… chocolate is an on the side thing of its own… and tea should be left tea… I taste the cocoa, I taste the praline… I taste the green tea and separately sure… but hot and together not so much
Score: 4/10

Bonus review from Dave: A bold choice to put chocolate and green tea together but admits the confusion, not a bad drop… 7/10

Day 18:

Tea: Strawberries and Cream
Initial Reaction: I think someone gave me some of this once… maybe… I’m actually not sure… we’ll now is as good a time as ever to try it again… or for the first time… 
Brew Time: 3 mins 
Enjoyed with: Just water  
Flavour: Not as sweet as I was expecting which was a pleasant surprise… I mean it’s sweet, but not overwhelmingly so like some of the other teas I have tried from the calendar… would I rush out and buy it, probably not, but if they had it in-store as a taster would I have some… sure 
Score: 6/10

Tea Time with Em – Dec 13

Day 13:

Tea: Detox
Initial Reaction: Oooo a purple tea… Oh it’s Detox, what does that mean? Contains liquorice… sure why not…
Brew Time: 4 mins
Enjoyed with:
Flavour: Not at all what I expected… it’s almost a bit woody… there is a flavour in it that I can’t quite put my on it… to be honest… I am not sure I like it… I’m also not feeling particularly cleansed or detoxed… but that could also be due to the fact that I have natural suspicion that rings when ever I read the word detox…
Score: 4/10

Tea Time with Em – Dec 12

Day 12:

Tea: Twinkle Berry
Initial Reaction: Doh! More fruit tea… although I do like berries… I am choosing to stay positive and hopeful that I might find the right fruit tea for me…
Brew Time: 3 mins
Enjoyed with: Nothing
Flavour: Look… to be totally honest this was better than I thought it would be… and it was really pink… I thought it would taste like hot ribena, but it didn’t and it was no where near as sweet as I was expecting… in fact as far as fruit teas go it was pretty good.
Score: 6/10

Bonus review from Dave: It was good, I finished the cup and I’d do it again 8/10