Epiphany 101

Borrowing from the incomparable list-making of Alejna, this is a list related to EPIPHANY.

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Epiphany: In name and title

Epiphany: Sudden flashes of realization

  • Epiphany, the sudden discovery of some meaning.
  • Epiphany is also used to describe religious visions, such as Theophany, Hierophany, and Darsana.

Epiphany: A holiday around the world

  • According to the Gospel of Matthew, the three Kings (Magi) followed a Star in the heavens to the Baby Jesus, arriving with gifts for him on the day now celebrated as Epiphany.  Melchior represented Europe, arrived on horseback and brought gold.  Gaspar represented Arabia, arrived in camel, and brought frankincense.  Balthazar represented Africa, arrived on elephant, and brought myrrh.  Most Christian calendars recognize this date as January 6th.
  • Some branches of Christianity celebrate the coming of Epiphany by honoring it as the Twelfth Night.  These Christians Twelve Holy Days from December 26th to January 6th is considered the spiritual heart of the year to follow, with January 6th as “Holy of the Holiest.”
  • In England, “Twelfth Night” is traditionally the last opportunity to party before the resumption of post-holiday work.  The “Yule Log” is kept lit until Twelfth Night to bring good fortune in the new year.
  • Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate the Baptism of Jesus with the Feast of Theophany (literally, “manifestation of God”) on January 6th.  They also perform the “Great Blessing of the Waters.”  In Greek Orthodox tradition, during the “Blessing of the Waters” celebration, young men dive into the water to retrieve a cross that was thrown in by a priest after being blessed.  The first man to find it is believed to have good luck for a year.
  • In Ireland, Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th under the name Little Christmas (Nollaig Bheag) , or Women’s Christmas.  This is the first time I’ve heard of Women’s Christmas (Nollaig na mBan), but the general idea is that men take up all duties related to house, home, and family, and women party all day.
  • Italian children hang their socks on the eve of January 6th for Befana to visit to fill them with candy or coal, behavior dependent.  This is similar to Russia’s Baboushka,  who also provides presents on the eve of Epiphany.
  • In Spanish tradition, on the even of the Day of the Kings (El Dia de los Reyes), children polish and leave their shoes ready to accept presents from the Kings.  Roscon, a special type of bread decorated with candy fruit, is made.
  • In Mexico, children may leave shoes near the family nativity season or under a tree, with notes with toy requests for the Kings, sometimes with offerings of hay for the Kings’ animals.  A bread called Rosca de Reyes is made in the shape of a King’s crown and holds a small doll inside.  The person who finds the doll in their bit of Rosca is responsible for throwing a party on February 2nd, “Candelaria Day”.
  • Similarly, in Puerto Rico, children traditionally fill a box with hay and put it under their beds.  They eat Rosca de Reyes in the evening, with a small doll inside representing the baby Jesus.
  • The Christmas season ends on January 6th in the Philippines for Tatlong Hari (“Three Kings”).  Children here also leave shoes out, so that candy or money may be placed inside.  Others greet one another with the phrase “Happy Three Kings!”
  • The gâteau des Rois is eaten in France on Epiphany.  This is a kind of king cake, with a trinket (usually a porcelain figurine of a king) or a bean hidden inside.  The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket becomes “king” for a day.  King cakes are eaten in other areas of Europe, including Belgium and Portugal.
  • King Cake is also available in Louisiana starting on January 6th, as Epiphany marks the start of the Carnival Season, which lasts to Mardi Gras Day.  (Side note: I’m all about blasphemy, but eating King Cake before January 6th is seriously messed up.)

Epiphany: The day that comes tomorrow

  • Epiphany = January 6th = tomorrow.
  • It is the last day of the yearly daily blogging event, Holidailies.
  • King cakes will go on sale in New Orleans; Paul will have jury duty; and Kate will go to the Aquarium on a field trip.
  • My age will change from age 21 to age 22.  In hex.
  • Tomorrow, January 6th, is My Birthday.



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Unbridled avarice… but done relatively neatly.

Wow. We told the kids that they could not dive into the holiday bounty until we gave the go ahead… and they listened.

(Please forgive the unfinished touches of the room. Have a mentioned that we’re in year 5 of renovation on our 100+ year old house… wait, I have? Well, don’t I get to use that excuse for at least a decade or so? Or at least get some reprieve because it’s Christmas?)

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Paul and I were exhausted. Presents had been stock-piled far away from child eyes for weeks — Will has developed an “exploration” habit — because we couldn’t risk a security breach. So, it was a last minute effort to pull it all together. The effort would have come off without a hitch, had Kate’s tea cart come with both a right side and a left side. Instead, it was equipped with two left sides and a nice note on the receipt asking buyers to please return the items by December 15th if there were problems. The item? It’s no longer available on the seller’s website.

This is yet another reason why doing Christmas shopping early is SO OVER-RATED. Next year, I am totally waiting until the last minute.

Here’s another behavioral surprise for the day: the kids also took turns giving out gifts and watching others open them. (With constant reminders, but still.)

I did manage a few surprises for Paul, despite his finding out about his Very Special Surprise, which I had worked for months to acquire. (By months, I mean reading a few internet articles and wiki forums.) So when he opened the awesome astronomy binoculars I researched and planned for, he was underwhelmed.

Wait. Why did I work so hard for weeks in advance?

BUT. I did surprise him with this little cutie. A piece by a local folk artist:

xmasday 4

It says:

“I loves you once
I loves you twice
I loves you more than
beans and rice”

Yea, you rite!

xmasday 5

Kate loved her surprises. A Belle dress from Will, dress-up box and Fancy-Nancy book from Nana, princess puzzle & bracelet from friends Dave, Shelly & Zoe, cute socks from Aunt Deb & Uncle Gary, games from Uncle Skip & Aunt Emily, toys from cousins Brayden & Maggie…. and CINDERELLA’S CASTLE from Santa.

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At it’s opening, I was expecting an ear-splitting scream, followed by a fainting episode. This didn’t quite happen, though she was definitely excited. Who wouldn’t be? The castle lights up. And plays music.

Really, we were all enthralled.

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Will’s interest in it was a bit different. He was looking closely for things to push later on, for the purposes of driving his sister crazy. A skill he is VERY adept at using.

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Also? There were one of a kind hand-made gifts!

Nana made a BEAUTIFUL matching sweater and hat!

xmasday 9

Gwen made felt SUPERHERO capes!

Super Will…. with his pants unbuttoned.

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And Super Kate, too.

xmasday 3


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Happy Holidays!

Beautiful double rainbow, this afternoon, from our house to yours!


Merry, Merry!

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Mi Familia

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Christmas List



— The Nutcracker Ballet.  Kate wanted to be taken on-stage to join in on the dancing fun.  Will admitting liking it after an hour of 6-year old whining about life.

— The Teddy Bear Tea at the Roosevelt.  High marks for decor (see above) and tasty treats.  Price keeps it a purely blue-blood affair.  Friendly wait-staff helped us smuggle out uneaten goodies.  We can say we’ve been there, done that.

— Lights at Lafrienere Park.  Original lights more interesting than the Copeland lights.  Free and open, a plus.  If you’re in the ‘burbs (say, because you need to buy car parts), it’s worth a few minutes of your time… and that’s all it will take.

— Holiday Movie.  The Princess and the Frog rocked in about seven-hundred ways.

— Packages mailed.  TODAY.  Used awesome FedEx discount.  Lots of lucky folks getting POST-Christmas surprises!


— Holiday eats.  Paul bought a turkey today.  The kind that you have to put in the oven and cook.  Can someone dial 9 and then 1 and just be ready…?

— Presents wrapped.  EVERYTHING for the kids is hidden and unwrapped.  We’re hoping for an early bedtime so that we can get to work.

— Christmas cake.  Kate is still begging for a “Christmas Cake” — this is the child who doesn’t even LIKE cake.  I must remember to not leave Southern Living magazines around where she can see them.

Happy Holidays!

(And, if you can, send suggestions on what to do with an 11-lb bird!)

Family Life in NOLA
Mi Familia
Special Family Moments

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12 days of Christmas, in sound only.

We’re 6 days into the business trip, and here is where we’re at:

Twelve critical car failures
Eleven inside-out shirts
Ten broken pieces
Nine honey-soaked shelves
Eight groceries lost
Seven piles of cat puke
Six un-mailed packages

….Five sections of tree lights out!….

Four flat-tire helpers
Three more days of single-parenting
Two arguing children

Mi Familia

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My kids are going to FREAK.

We celebrate Christmas because it would feel strange not to, I think that is the bottom line. Also, I love the idea of the “season of giving” — and when we talk about Christmas, this is the way we frame it. We say that people, for centuries and eons and since time forgotten have had these mid-winter celebrations, all right around when the days are the shortest of all the year.

We have explained that some celebrate the life of a man named Jesus, who some believe was special because he did nice things for others. I’m pretty sure I use those words exactly. We hadn’t spoke much about God in the past, just “Gods” in the sense of mythology, with Christian myth as prevalent than those of Greece and Egypt. Then, God came into our household on the silver voice of some proselytizing child in summer camp. Initially we were troubled, but decided to take it in stride. It gave a good learning opportunity. That not all people believe the same thing and that this is okay. In fact, it can be very important… otherwise, how we would ever learn new to see new things?

I feel good about our celebration of Christmas, even as atheists, because I love ritual and celebration and delight in giving. Like it or not, Santa is a modern day representation of these things, so we have chosen to embrace him.

Does all of this justify my use of The Santa Threat during the holiday season? Maybe it’s appropriate that Santa represents Christian tradition, as I am definitely applying him within a fire-and-brimstone theology. Or, more likely, I am just really being lazy and need to step up on my parenting.

In any case, it’s been hot and heavy over the last day, These Threats. I feel badly about it. It’s bad parenting, sure, but it’s also working against my view of how we participate in this whole darn holiday. So when I saw Emmy had made these for her kids, I had to join in.

I give 50/50 odds that upon hearing her name in the first 3 seconds, Kate misses the rest in her excited squealing and that Will gets so worked up he has to run to the bathroom and miss the entire video.

Here’s Will’s.

Here’s Kate’s.

Mi Familia

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Let them eat cloud!

Today is Bastille Day and, as one might expect for a French summer camp, there were school-related activities.  Sometime last week, Kate’s teacher sent home notes asking the students to wear costumes for Bastille Day for their party and parade.  Accordingly, I planned on not thinking about it until 8am this morning, roughly 30 minutes before leaving for school.

Thanks to a tu-tu stuck in the back of her closet, Kate was a cloud:

She is holding a Christmas ornament with a picture of herself in it at age 7 months.  I have no idea from where she took said ornament or why she insisted on posing with it this morning.

The white bracelet?  She made it at school last week.  I thought it gave her outfit just the right touch.

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Mi Familia

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Bang with no boom.

View of downtown New Orleans from the rooftop of Tulane’s 6-story parking garage.

The view of downtown New Orleans, with Fourth of July fireworks silently exploding in the distance.  There are two sets of fireworks because the celebration here has “dueling barges” sending off pyrotechnics from the river.

All in all, an easy way to see fireworks with no crowds.  Drunk college kids arrived part-way through (note to Tulane: install a sobriety check-point directly at the exit of the garage at 9pm on the Fourth) but the roof area is large enough for them to be only a minor annoyance… in the sense that we can’t help but look at ourselves and go, “my goodness, were we that self-absorbed and clueless when we were that age?!”

It’s not a sign that we’re old.  It’s a sign that we’re simply mature.

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Family Life in NOLA

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Bunny Salad

Too much candy on Easter?  Try the BUNNY SALAD

Step 1: Assemble ingredients.  Pears, lettuce/spinach leaves, carrots, strawberries, cottage cheese, peppercorns.  A plate for your garden, peeling tool, and cutting board are also useful.  Note that the actual recipe calls for fully-sized carrots and cloves, which will screw you up later, so be prepared to roll with it.

Household bunnies are optional.  Note that if you take one to the store, there will be a lot of pointing and giggling.

Step 2: Contemplate safety of child’s fingers, then say, “F* it” (to yourself, please) and let them go to town with the peeler.  Consider counting fingers before he starts, just in case.

Step 3: Use a knife to cut peeled pear in half.  Keep the stem on the end for a nose, if you like.  Use the peppercorns and carrots as eyes and ears.

Damn.  The string carrots won’t work.  Substitute pear peel.

Damn.  Pear peel won’t stick.  Neither will peppercorns.  Realize you screwed up.

Get creative.  Dig some holes for the eyes.  And ears.

Step 4: Get smart.  Use toothpicks.  Let the kid cut the toothpicks before insertion, he’ll love it.

Pat yourself on the back for being such a Super Mom.

Step 5: Notch that Super Mom status up a few bars by letting the 5 year old use the KNIFE.  The emergency room won’t judge you, you creative Mom, you!

Step 6: Add strawberries and carrots to the lettuce patch.  You’ve got bunnies in the garden!

(Note: if you haven’t already realized that you need two bunnies for your two children, hurry and make a second.  Substitute whatever necessary to make it work.)

Step 7: Don’t forget to use the cottage cheese to make fluffy bunny tails!

Step 8: Have your kids pose with their salads so you can send them to Mothering and Parenting websites and magazines.  You need to document your awesomeness.

Step 9: Realize that your kids may begin to get that the salad is a ploy to distract from eating Easter candy.  Be prepared to talk up the awesomeness of the salad!

Step 10: Reward children who eat bunny salad with Easter candy.  As if it would end any other way.

Happy Easter!

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Mi Familia
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New Tai Chi Move

Carry berries to mountain and wish HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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