Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Grumpy Old Man

I’m grumpy.

Maybe it’s me, but lately I seem more irritable. This is not a good thing given we’re entering the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons.

My mood exudes foulness for various reasons.

First, I’m getting old. At 45 I’m definitely in the middle-age-phase of life. Perhaps I’ve recognized my time is short on this earth. So little things like traffic jams and waiting in line at a retail store check out make my fuse burn faster. Plus, my body is breaking down in areas that mystify me. Twinges in my cervical vertebra; a plantar wart on my right foot thanks to the fitness center shower at work; a sty on my eyelid that refused to go away for months (sounds like I belong in a belltower, doesn’t it?). These medical issues never occurred to the old, young me and if they did, they didn’t last for weeks on end. Apparently reaching 45 also means maladies and conditions that, in many cases, should not be mentioned in writing. Thank God for WebMed.com so I can self-diagnose myself better than my Aunt Martha did back in the ’70s.

Secondly, my gorgeous wife and I are remodeling a bathroom in full DIY mode. We’re both competent, but we’re also learning that days quickly turn to weeks and suddenly the little master bedroom bath project is already a month old and we’re behind schedule. Add to it the war wounds of remodeling – cuts, bruises, sheetrock dust everywhere, and working in a small space with large power tools and only one tiny window for ventilation – and the thought of the project now makes me frown. Fortunately, my wife is my mood counter balancer. We’ve yet to have short words with each other over that little project. We just want to get ‘er done.

The other thing making me angry (at the present moment) is all the Christmas advertising that is invading my space. It’s not yet Thanksgiving, but every retailer in town began airing their TV spots in early November. As if I’m not aging fast enough, the Best Buys and Targets of the world want to rush past Thanksgiving and head long into the Christmas shopping season to make me older, faster. Ummm. No thanks. I’ll wait until after Thanskgiving before I start my Christmas shopping or break out the decorations. Why rush a good thing?

There. Now you know. I’m angry. Don’t cross me.

Or at the very least, don’t ride your brakes in traffic and make me curse you. After all, it’ll be Christmas…soon.



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I can’t resist providing a couple links to some Christmas hilarity.

First up is the classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” performed by bunnies in 30 seconds. Be sure to click the bunny icons at the end for outtakes.


And here’s what is sure to be a new Christmas Classic tune featuring The Hives and Cyndi Lauper in “A Christmas Duel.” It’s a cheery holiday song unlike any other.


Howlin Pelle
I bought no gifts this year
And I slept with your sister
I know I should have thought twice before I kissed her
But with the year we had last
And the dress that she wore
I just went along for the ride
And I came back for more
And I’m sorry, baby

Cyndi Lauper
(That’s all okay honey cause see)

I bought no tree this year
And I slept with your brother
I wrecked your Daddy’s car
And went down on your Mother
I set your record collection on fire
And said I never knew
Felt kind of bad about that
And I know you did too

So whatever you say, it’s all fine by me
Who the fuck anyway wants a Christmas tree

Duet : Cyndi Lauper and The Hives
Cause the snow keeps on fallin
Even though we were bad
It’ll cover the filth, we should both just be glad
And spend, spend, spend this Christ- Christmas together

Howlin Pelle
I married you last year
Bet you thought I was sober, right?
But I was drunk as a skunk and I made a mistake
This could all have been over

Cyndi Lauper
Ah honey please don’t excuse your behavior
Cause I hired a hitman and changed your will

Cyndi Lauper and The Hives
It’s now all in my favour

So whatever you say, it’s all fine by me
Who the fuck anyway wants a Christmas tree
Cause the snow keeps on fallin
Even though we were bad

It’ll cover the filth, we should both just be glad
And spend-spend-spend this Christ-Christmas together
And spend-spend-spend this Christ-Christmas together
And spend-spend-spend this Christ-Christmas together
And spend-spend-spend this Christ-Christmas together

Howlin Pelle
Holding on without any reason
Cause something’s strong (something’s strong)
This holiday season (this holiday season)

Duet : Cyndi Lauper and The Hives
So whatever you say, it’s all fine by me
Who the fuck anyway wants a Christmas tree
Cause the snow keeps on fallin
Even though we were bad
It’ll cover the filth, we should both just be glad

And spend-spend-spend this Christmas together
(repeat 3xs)
Come on!

-Merry Christmas!-

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Christmas time is here
We’ll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year”

Plenty of Christmas childred-treehood memories float around my head this time of year. Like the several-year-stretch of purchasing flocked Christmas trees from Del’s Garden Center in Spencer, Iowa. Dad and Mom even bought a red flocked tree (around 1972, I think). It seems a heinous act, flocking a poor evergreen, but back in the ’70s it was the “in” thing to do and Del’s flocked Christmas trees like nobody’s business.  For those of you unfamiliar with the process, they basically stick the tree in a paint room on a stand that spins in a circle while a thick coating of foam-like, dyed flocking material covers every branch and needle. Instead of vacuuming up dried needles on New Year’s Day, we vacuumed red flocking attached to dried needles. It was stunning stuff.

One of my best Christmas memories involves Uncle Floyd and Aunt Evelyn. Floyd worked for my Dad who owned a machine shop and small-engine repair business. (Floyd and Evelyn were not actual relatives BTW). Floyd should have been retired, but Dad had a soft spot for Floyd who was a fountain of information when it came to mechanics.  The aged Floyd and Evelyn lived in a little town, Sioux Rapids, about 20 miles from our home. Each Thanksgiving and Christmas, we would collect them and host them for dinner. Evelyn made delicious caramel pecan rolls, and it would kill me to sit in the backseat of the car with those rolls waiting until we got home before I could indulge. A few years back, I began my own attempt in mimicking the creation of those pecan rolls. Both Floyd and Evelyn have passed away, so I turned to the Google and after trying a couple recipes and combining a few things, I landed on what I believe is a very close caramel pecan roll recipe that would make Evelyn proud. It’s a tribute of sorts to them both and the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners of my youth.

Some traditions fade away – while others remain or re-occur or begin. Gone are the days of flocked trees but those pecan rolls are back in my life. And my two kids, who practically peed their pants in anticipation of Santa’s secret visit and the  gifts he left them for Christmas morning, are teenagers. The excitement may be (mostly) in the past, but the spirit and intention that comes with spending time together making a dinner, playing cards or watching a movie remains anticipated and important.

Lead on!” said Scrooge. “Lead on! The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit!”
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens


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The Thanksgiving holiday brings about many opportunities for epic proportions of everything.

First comes the Thanksgiving feast. Massive turkey combined with plates and plates of carb-laden potatoes, stuffing and other side dishes followed by a row of pies in nearly every flavor, results in even a Jack Sprat-like family feeling obese at the end of the day.

Black Friday provides shoppers with the “biggest shopping day of the year.” Consumers camp out overnight at their local Best Buy store so they can trample employees in a mad rush to buy the specially-marked-down Bette Midler Christmas CD…errrrr…something like that.

On Friday night, more crowds to elbow in order to snap up tickets for an epic movie. This year’s offering, “Australia,” with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. With at least three movies within the movie, the two hour, 45-minute production included far too many slo-mo shots of a shirtless Jackman. But the sell-out audience didn’t mind the cliches and obviousity of the epic film complete with happy ending. What would you expect?!

The gynormous weekend activities continue. Twelve-foot-tall Christmas trees lashed to the tops of Toyota Priuses; massive front-yard light displays; and miles and miles of gift wrap in order to make those purchases from Black Friday look presentable under the tree.

It’s appropriate, then, we get Thursday through Sunday to eat, shop, sleep, eat, queue in check-out and ticket lines, eat, sleep and decorate for the next major holiday. What better way to start celebrating the Holiday Season?


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Celebrate Christmas 24/7/365

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tiding of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.’

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. And they said, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews, for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.’

And they found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger and when they had seen it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”

Of all religious holidays, Christmas owns the top rung on the ladder. Even for those of us less-than-certain about all things biblical, Christmas opens the window long enough to ponder the possibilities. It also gives us opportunities to make memorable moments with family, show our gratitude to friends and be thankful for all that’s been given to us.

In the car sometime last week, while listening momentarily to a radio station that plays Christmas songs 24/7 from Thanksgiving through Dec. 25, I caught a lyric that essentially said, “Every day should be Christmas.” There would be a lot of Christians unhappy if that were the case, because Jesus needs His birthday.

But when it comes to making memories, saying thanks to friends and being satisfied with where we’re each at in life instead of toiling to get ahead all the time – Christmas should be each day. These are things we need to live and breathe regularly, not just once a year.


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I Heart Pie This Christmas

The kids and I will celebrate Christmas on Sunday (they’ll be with their mom and her family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). By special request, we will dessert on apple pie.

Looks good, yes?

Apple Pie


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Are your stockings hung? If not you better get to it! For in just a couple days, Santa will be making his rounds – snacking on cookies and milk at each stop and leaving all kinds of goodies around the Christmas tree for you to enjoy on Christmas morning.

Naughty or NiceThat’s IF you’re on his “nice” list, which I’m thinking most of my regular readers made this year – the “nice” list, that is. From Kitty over at “The Show Must Go On,” who helped me, and numerous readers learn how to make roux for gumbo; to Woeful at “@ The Library,” who continues to assist library patrons no matter how bad their hygiene or their interest in searching porn on public computers; to Jill at “Wordsmith Extraordinaire,” who writes some of the best stuff on the blogosphere; Colleen at “Communicatrix,” who has shared her soul-searching, goal-setting and hypnosis trials with her readers unabashedly; and Fatty at “Fat Cyclist,” who serves as an inspiration both for riding with continued frequency and enthusiasm and being a rock as his dear wife deals with cancer recovery; it’s clear these friends (and other bloggers too numerous to mention in this short post) enjoyed a good year. Santa will smile down on you for all your efforts.

As it stands, St. Nick may be sitting on the fence when he comes to my chimney (is that a mixed metaphor or what?). It’s not that I’ve been intentionally bad since last Christmas, but I haven’t made all the best of decisions.

There were a few nasty grams that were written but never sent to my former spouse (hey at least I didn’t hit send, so give a little credit, right?). And back in July I failed to return a call to an old college friend, throwing a wrench into that long-standing friendship. I haven’t been the best at maintaining relationships of any kind really, in 2007, except when it comes to my kids. For them, I do whatever it takes. They’re family, after all, and I’m their Dad. When I’m old one day, they’ll be the ones deciding if I go into a care facility or come live with them – so I figure it’s best that I be nice to them no matter what.Santa's lap

Still, with all my indiscretions during the year, with any luck, good ol’ Santa will have a little something with my name on it Tuesday morning when I climb out of bed. I’m hoping she’ll look something like this. Is that a look of desire I see on Santa’s face? Santa, does Mrs. Claus know about your little innocent tryst or is that yet another secret that you’re keeping under your red hat?

I think we best leave those questions unanswered. It’s that time of year when mystery needs to be appreciated.

And with that, my friends and partners in blogging, I just want to wish you all the very Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years. To Misty, Max and Michelle, Greg, Stil, Biblio, Jenn, and LK – and to the one and only Jason Mraz – thanks for writing, commenting and sharing all you share.

I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings. “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”

Cheers to you, everyone!


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I’m not talking about silicone breast implants. Although I have an opinion on them. What I am blogging about is the conundrum of real versus artificial Christmas trees.

Each have their advantages.

  • Real trees smell wonderful when freshly cut.
  • Artificial trees don’t prick you to death when you’re stringing on the lights. In fact, the latest of models have the lights pre-strung, saving you hours of torture every year. (A friend has been known to throw out her real Christmas tree every Dec. 26 with the lights still warm and in place!)
  • A real tree, with its natural beauty, warms up a room more so than those made in China. However, they’ll really warm up a room fast if you leave a candle burning close by and those dry needles catch on fire.
  • Artificial trees offer easy take down and clean up. No needles left behind to step on when you’re barefoot sometime next July.
  • Artificial trees are available at any big box lumber store, department store or – yes – even the progressive greenhouses where owners now know they must cater to the ever-growing market of tree buyers interested in artificial trees.
  • Real trees: If you go hunting in the woods for one, you might die.

Case in point: Frederick Dominguez and his three children got lost in the snow on Dec. 16 when they set out to cut down a Christmas tree near Paradise, Calif. Three days and nights spent in the snowy woods, and many helicopter and foot searches later, Daddy Dominguez and his kids were spotted and rescued.

“We weren’t prepared at all,” son Chris Dominguez said, after the rescue. “We just thought we were going to go up to the mountains, get our tree and go back home. It didn’t turn out that way.”

Sounds to me like next year the Dominguez family goes to Lowes for an artificial tree.


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Okay. Here they are. A few of my favorite classic Christmas songs performed by some of the best artists from my childhood years.  Mom had many of these Christmas albums and I can clearly remember playing them in wonderful Hi-Fi Stereo Sound throughout the Christmas season.

Let’s start out with a favorite from Andy Williams.

Next let’s give a listen to “Silver Bells.” The song was first performed in the movie, “Lemon Drop Kid,” starring Bob Hope.  Here Hope sings it with co-star Marilyn Maxwell.

Christmas isn’t complete without this classic from Nat King Cole.

I’ve gone through periods of really liking Elvis Presley and not liking him at all. In his classic “Blue Christmas,” however, it’s hard not to sing along with him.

I’ve saved the best for last, my friends. Here Bing Crosby gets a little back up from Frank Sinatra as they sing, “White Christmas.”

Hope you enjoy these classics. There are many more of course – like Dean Martin, Ray Coniff and others.  If you have a favorite, send it my way.


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Christmas Carol Favorites

What’s your favorite?

Music runs through my veins year ’round, but it’s so pervasive this time of year as radio stations and shopping malls and restaurants, too, pipe in loads of Christmas music to keep everyone in the spirit. I hear many people say, “Ugh! I’m so sick of hearing Christmas songs!” C’mon people! Show a little appreciation and love for good music that only gets played six weeks out of the year.

I refuse to even attempt to rank order my favorite holiday songs because it’s just that hard to say, “yeah, this Christmas song is my absolute, all-time fave.”

Several songs exist, however, that make me stop in my tracks and listen (and yes, sing along). Like this one written by the legendary Vince Guaraldi and performed so well by the Peanuts Gang on, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown.” I actually taught myself how to play this (badly) on piano.

Diana Krall is a tremendous performer with one of the best jazz voices ever. Here she performs, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

In this next video, Sarah McLachlan cover’s John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas.”

I’m only getting warmed up, which means I’ll do another post on great songs of the Christmas season, but I’ll stop with this fun little cover of “Winter Wonderland” performed by Jason Mraz on the old Craig Kilborn show back in 2003.


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