In this week’s Wednesday Five, we are reminded of some of the compelling stories of holiday seasons past that have resounded with Women’s Voices’ readers. Here are some of our most popular holiday favorite stories — the magic of Christmas time in Paris; a kind stranger returns an I-phone and her name is, of course, “Angel”; the festival of lights that is a Danish Christmas; finding a way come down from the high impact of the holidays; and the belief in the bayberry candle to bring a year of good luck.



‘Christmas in Paris: Magic, Mystery, and Romance,’ by Tish Jett

noel1(1) The glittering Grande Roue (Ferris Wheel) at the Place de Concorde.

No matter who you are, no matter how you try to explain it, Paris changes you. It’s a magical place. It sparkles with hope and possibilities; it somehow, and I’ve tried unsuccessfully to understand why, makes la joie de vivre seem uncomplicated, obvious, attainable.

And at no other time of year does Paris shimmer and glow more brightly than during  Noël. Its everyday, refined elegance is suddenly turned out in exuberant bursts of light and color, and even music in the streets. The entire city becomes a huge, over-the-top Christmas party.  It’s virtually impossible not to be swept up in the festive splendor of the season. Read more



‘A Christmas Angel,’ by Susan B. Johnson

8615140675_3195f50ac8_zImage from Flickr via Abhinay Omkar (Creative Commons License)

“I don’t know who I’m calling,” she says, “but I found a cell phone and, although it’s locked, this number was displayed on the screen.” I say that I have, indeed, lost my phone and ask her where she is. . .

She is attending a church meeting in the theater where we were last night. She explains that after parking her car, she paused to change from driving shoes to high-heeled pumps, and that was when she spotted my phone lying in the grass.

I thank her again and again, and we make arrangements to meet in an hour. Her name, of course, is “Angel.” Read more



‘The High Impact of the Holidays,’ by Dr. Cecilia Ford

4251975730_dc2ecace46_zImage by rosipaw via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The holiday season tends to provoke strong emotions in us. There are those who love them and those who don’t, but for most of us, holidays are distinct and well defined in our personal histories . . . Meanwhile, it seems that just by improving our attitude about the holidays we can get more out of them. Instead of feeling pressure, we can be helped if we understand that holidays are not just for children but are important, healthy rituals that maintain—and even improve—our emotional well-being. Read more



‘Danish Christmas: A Festival of Lights,’ by Suzanne Russell

Tivoli_640x425Tivoli at Christmastime.

Although I have to confess to owning (probably) Denmark’s only Martha Stewart rotating Christmas tree from Kmart, I really appreciate the traditional Danish Christmas trees. They are small fir and pine trees with lots of space between the branches. They are decorated with strings of Danish flags, small white candles, and cone-shaped baskets or woven paper hearts filled with candy. They are too delicate to be burdened with lots of decorations, so they retain a very natural look. The night before Christmas Eve, we put a small branch from the tree under our pillow so that all of our Christmas dreams will come true. Read more



‘Please Don’t Blow Out the Bayberry Candle,’ by Toni Myers

It was a raucous Christmas Eve. I hated champagne, but we were allowed to drink, so I had to sip it. Salted pecans and black olives were my favorite snacks, set out in silver scallop-shell dishes, one of which I still have. Best of all, the bayberry candle, a pillar. Letting it burn to the end gave you a year of good luck; the reverse if you blew it out. Years later, I learned that it was blown out behind my back and that the rest of the family was in on that. On this day, I do not let the bayberry go out, putting it in the bathtub for the night.  I heard that was unwise, so now I buy votive size. Read more

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