Category Archives: Christmas

A Special Mystery and a Christmas Prayer

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When I received the book, “The Christmas Wish,” written by Richard

M. Siddoway, I did not know how much it would mean to me, in so

many different ways.  Richard is an educator in the public school system

of Utah, along with being a member of the House of Representatives.

He and his wife, Janice, have eight children and possibly grandchildren

since the book was published.

I think where they live in Utah, sounds very much like the book:

Bountiful.

First of all, it is a lovely book, with a special Christmas annual mystery.

A grandson who loved his grandparents and who had been raised by

them. He respected his grandfather very much and after he has passed

away, he finds out Grandpa had visited a woman named “Lillian” every

Christmas Eve. It has a happy ending, one his Grandma is pleased about

and readers are blessed by.

This book holds such great meaning, including being open to what may

possibly be another way to view a situation, along with the powerful

ingredient of forgiveness.

It was written in 1995, given to me in 2003.

Jean A. was my mentor, almost a decade younger than I was. I was in

the midst of pursuing my Master’s degree, when she found out she was

pregnant. A ‘surprise!’ baby.

A mother of three teenagers, Jean was a little distracted. But she was still

the very best preschool teacher of integrated developing levels of children.

A fine example for me to attempt to follow her beautiful and lasting

footsteps. Her husband and family were such a fine example of love and

Jean shone with a year-round Christmas spirit.

Little did I know, she would pass away when her little Spencer was only

three years old, doctor having found cancer growing rapidly due to the

increase of hormones from pregnancy. This book is a treasure and one

that is brought out every Christmas. I read it again, since it has a lot of

history in it, along with all the elements of a good story. I also hang up

a framed snow painting that has the words,

“Star light, star bright,

I wish I may,

I wish I might,

Have this Wish

I wish tonight.

Peace on Earth.”

 

Inside the book there is a precious poem:

“The house is warm, good cheer abounds.

The heart of Christmas is all around.

The children sing, their voices sweet,

The candles are lit, such rosy heat.

My heart is full, my eyes aglow,

For those here with me

and those I cannot know.”

~* Anonymous *~

(A preface also says,

“To Janice.”)

 

“I said a Christmas prayer for you

because the seasons near.

I didn’t ask for riches

but for gifts so much more dear.

I asked for joyful gatherings

with your family all around,

and for carols to inspire  you

with their old familiar sound,

I asked for quiet moments

in your heart on Christmas morn,

for a special time to celebrate

the Savior who was born.

I asked for friends to send their best

that you might know they care. . .

I asked for peace and love and hope;

and I know God heard my prayer.”

Written by

Nancy Parker Brummett

 

Happy “Festivus for the Rest of Us!”

Happy Hanukkah!

Blessed Christmas wishes,

Joy in Kwanzaa Celebrations,

or Hope you find Peace:

May it be True.

Sit-Com Stars in Hallmark Movie

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On another post, we had just been talking about 1989, when a few

of our favorite funny situation comedies originated. I could not

believe my ‘luck’ when I turned on the Hallmark Channel to find a

movie with a catchy title, “The Christmas Con.” There is an ensemble

cast of six famous actors from more than six situation comedies.

They show their talent and  versatility in this meaningful Hallmark

movie.

 

I will sketch the plot in, along with giving you the ‘who’s who’ of t.v.

series actors. If you are a fan of television trivia games, you may be

able to ‘keep up with me,’ in this essay about performers who have

been around television for years: one since 1982. Although the title

isn’t very pretty nor the story as simple as some Hallmark Christmas

movies are, it tells a meaningful story of hope and forgiveness.

 

There is a collection of outstanding, amusing actors who played

character parts in this story of ‘redemption.’ The movie has two

characters, an ex-convict who needs to change his way of dealing

with people, passing through his life ‘taking’ and never ‘giving.’ The

second character must face his addiction, he has to fall flat on his

face, embarrass himself, go to jail and then, find his way home.

 

The actor who plays the character of an alcoholic man, came from a

caring family, dramatic show, “Party of Five.”  My two daughters loved

the whole cast of this show. They would know this man who later left

this show to play an irascible red-headed doctor.  Although, you may

or may not,  have known the popular teenaged-cast of “Party of Five,”

he was, “Will Mc Corkle.” Then you may have seen him as the red haired

“pain in the butt” doctor from the serious show, “E.R.”  This character

was the head of the “E.R.” as, Dr. Archie Morris. “Archie” was disliked by

most everyone, (nurses and the E.R. hospital staff) which showed quite

a range of talent in this role played by Scott Grimes. It was nice to have

known him as a likable man in the first show, then respect his portrayal

of a ‘by the books’ doctor who sometimes went ‘head to head’ with John

Stamos, who played another type of character on “E.R.” Scott Grimes

went from “E.R.” to act in a few television movies, along with another

series, “Band of Brothers.”

Interestingly enough, Scott Richard Grimes made a ‘soft rock and roll’

album, (also described as  ‘popular rock’) called, “Sunset Boulevard.” He

wrote all of the songs and sang them, too. I have not checked this out

but it was favorably reviewed, in its genre.

 

Then there was the character of the  endearing ex-convict with a ‘heart

of gold,’ who plays Santa Claus, making a promise he nearly is unable to

keep for the son of the red-headed man. Scott Grime’s plays a father/

ex-husband who is unfortunately battling alcoholism. His son asks Santa

Claus to bring his mother and father back together again for Christmas.

 

Santa promises to bring this estranged father back ‘into the fold,’ becoming

part of the trio the boy considers his ‘family.’ The ex-con is played by Barry

Watson, who both my daughters had major ‘crushes’ on, while he was the

oldest son in a family of seven members being raised by a minister, known

as, “Seventh Heaven.” Barry Watson left “Seventh Heaven,” to battle in his

own personal ‘real life drama,’ Hodgkins Disease. My family, son included,

had Barry in our prayers for a few years. His attractive long-haired look in

the family show changed to a gaunt, bald look when he was interviewed

during this period of time. The producers allowed him to ‘spread his wings,’

by being behind the camera, in his writing plots and helping set up scenes.

 

There is a memorable scene, in The Christmas Con,” which paints a fairly

accurate picture of an A.A. meeting, where Scott Grimes’ meets Santa Claus,

out of costume. I feel capable of analyzing this subject, due to my own personal

experience of being married to an alcoholic, having attended one year of A.A.,

two years of Alanon, and taking my three children to Children of Alcoholics

meetings.

 

The man who is Santa/Barry’s best friend is played by, Jaleel White, who

portrayed the dorky, inept character named, “Steve Urkel,” in “Family

Matters.” His character has mended his ways of conniving and trying to

trick others, while also being a good and supportive friend to Barry’s

character. He gets to also romance Barry’s ‘sister,’ in the movie, using his

charming demeanor. He looks ‘nothing’ like Steve Urkel, has grown into

a handsome man.

 

John Ratzenberger’s in the cast of this Hallmark movie, playing a Grandpa,

and you know where he came from?  “Cheers,” where he was “Cliff Clavin,”

the mailman, the one who sometimes kept the bar stool warm for hours.

He was the stocky man’s (“Norm’s”) best friend, “where everyone knew

their names.” This series lasted from 1982 -1993. No wonder we felt these

actors were part of our family! John R. went on to make a few different

television movies, played guest character roles on shows and my ‘grandies’

love him in such familiar children’s animated films as the “Toy Story” series,

“Monsters, Inc.” and “Cars,” where he plays (‘voices’) a rusted-out truck.

 

Another familiar character, where you may wonder, “Where have I seen

this attractive black woman before?” She has a unique character part,

as a female preacher in a church.  By the end of the story, you realize this

does not exist. It is a boarded up church, having been condemned. The

recognizable woman, who you don’t immediately ‘place’ or figure out

where she came from, is  talk show hostess, Wendy Williams. She ends

up being a fantastic singer, when she is caroling with church folks in a

neighborhood. I felt she was the Guardian Angel for Barry’s ex-convict

character.

 

The last famous displaced series player, is the actress, Melissa Joan Hart.

You got to know her as a teenaged witch in “Sabrina the Teen Age Witch,”

if you had children in the 90’s. (This ran seven years, 1996-2003.) Along

with Melissa’s more current role on  the show, “Melissa and Joey.” In the

Family Channel show, she is a town councilwoman and Joey (Lawrence)

is playing her ‘stay at home’ Nanny/Housekeeper. Can you believe Joey

was on The Johnny Carson Show, singing at age 5 years old? He is NOT

in this Hallmark movie, but was in one with Melissa Joan Hart, a few

Christmases ago.

(Yes, the plot for “Melissa and Joey,” resembles the one of “Who’s the

Boss?”)

 

Melissa’s character believes in her brother, the man who has just been

released from prison. You don’t feel he was a dangerous criminal and

are sympathetic to his character. (He had been a ‘grifter’ or ‘con artist,’

hence the name of the movie…)

Melissa and Barry make a believably good sister and brother team.

Melissa Joan Hart debuted as the director of this movie, which is a

new position for her to be in.

 

When Jameel’s character meets Melissa, he shows his debonair side,

which eventually they become close and they make a ‘cute couple.’

Their characters go about playing the ‘normal’ fantasy of carrying out

Christmas routines, as they decorate Melissa’s house, listen to Santa/

Barry’s quandary. Both Jaleel’s buddy character and Melissa’s sister

character cheer for the miracle of fixing the nearly irreparable marriage

and family together again.

 

Yes, I told you part of the ending.

The journey makes it worth watching.

The cast of recognizable people who have become part of our ongoing

landscape of television. Those people who come into our living room,

visit and stay awhile. They become more familiar than big screen

actors.

There are a few ‘surprises’ and twisting turns leading you to the

expected and satisfying ending. I didn’t tell you anything you didn’t

know since almost all of these movies come out ‘safe and sound.’

 

Hopefully, instead you will want to watch this more. Since it is the

way they handle the simplistic story, how they fulfill their duties as

characters which will help you admire Scott Grimes, Jaleel White,

Barry Watson, Melissa Joan Hart, John Ratzenberger and Wendy

Williams. In my mind, this is an ‘All Star Cast’ of television experts.

 

This is a treat to see, savor and remember. It shows me Christmas is

a time for all possibilities imaginable to come true.

 

Musical Notes

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When David Letterman took over for Johnny Carson, it was not a

pretty sound heard around the country, possibly the world. There

were four letter words, profanity being blurted out and there was an

inexplicable sadness for ‘losing’ the off stage private person, on stage

hilarious man. Who could replace Johnny?

My parents  were open-minded  and would routinely enjoy ‘new’ things,

which meant they eventually watched, “The Jay Leno Show” and “The

Late Show with David Letterman.”

There was a night owl lurking in both parents, even while completing

their careers, they were ‘stout’ and ‘devout’ late to bed and during the

week, early to risers.

Now, retirement changed this but that is another story!

I was flabbergasted that TONIGHT will be the LAST Christmas show

with David Letterman where he features the fabulous (‘dahling’) woman

known to many as “Darlene Love.” You must have heard her singing, even

if not on this show, but David’s Late Show band leader, Paul Shaffer,

was the one to have discovered her and encouraged David to have her on

his show, particularly singing (should I say, ‘belting out?’) this marvelous

song,

“Baby, Please Come Home for Christmas.”

She came in short hair, blonde hair, long and wavy hair, sometimes even

crimped hair, she changed her octaves over the 18 years of being the one

who heralded in the Christmas season’s last week before evening show.

 

David Letterman has declared her (or ‘dubbed her’) the Christmas Queen!

 

There is someone or something that brings Christmas into your heart,

if you follow the tradition to celebrate this holiday. . .

Who or what makes the holiday come true?

David Letterman sometime almost 30 years ago said,

“It’s just not Christmas, without Darlene Love on our show.”

 

If you cannot listen tonight, don’t have DVR to save this momentous

occasion, then find her and look her up on Youtube or listen to her one

one of Phil Sceptor’s brilliant Christmas albums, recorded in 1963…

Moving Ahead to Don Gay Apparel

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My coworker, Josephina, who goes by “Joe” among her friends

outside of work and “Fee” here at the warehouse, was sharing her

hopes for her wife and children to have an abundant Christmas.

Since the past two weeks, our hours have been cut, I have been

worried about those who have waited to purchase Santa’s gifts,

but cannot offer to help out anyone, unfortunately.

Fee was telling me about a publication on Monday, saying I

“should check it out.” It is called, “Outlook” magazine, which is

on the free newstand outside our library interior doors. This

would be like the ‘foyer’ of the building, where there are a few

public notices for clubs, organizations, and other public service

announcements.

I took home “Outlook” and was amazed at the multitude of very

interesting articles and information for the holidays presented

within a ‘magazine’ for Gays, Bisexuals and Lesbians. I was so

enthralled with the subject of music, since the ‘stereotype’ of

this magnificent group of human beings, is they love their

musicals and ‘show tunes.’ The articles about famous local

people and famous national people who have recently ‘come out’

had my attention, too.  The recipes for cocktails and yummy

appetizers had me interested and copying a few down. It is a very

informative and well-rounded publication. On the cover is a lovely

photograph of Bette Midler. Her article is titled,

“Divine Intervention.”

Do you remember when Bette Midler wore corsets and was on the

wild side, as “The Divine Miss M?” She made a lot of friends in the

gay and lesbian community, singing in the Continental Bath House.

I still consider her attractive, liked her G-rated family movie with the

theme of being an unprepared grandmother, “Parental Guidance.”

Her songs, “God Is Watching Us” and “The Wind Beneath My Wings,”

are on my all time favorite Top 50 songs.

 

Why did Fee send me to pick this up? The better question is,

“What took me so long?”

I have had a long history of having many gay friends, particularly

the guy who took me to my high school prom, along with both of

my brothers’ good and oldest friends. My youngest brother met

his friend in running clubs. My ‘older,’ one who is only 18 months

younger than I, had not noticed his high school friend who was a

wrestler and also, accompanied a group of us to my brother’s

high school prom, until college when he ‘came out’ to him.

 

Speaking of ‘coming out’ there is a well researched and presented

article on this subject in “Outlook.” It is addressing the idea of

trying this over the holidays. I would say letting relatives who are

younger know about your personal choices, but wait to inform

ones who are older. This is a ‘tricky minefield,’ and why make

the  holidays uncomfortable?

 

My friend, Fee, told me a few interesting facts about her life,

along with her girlfriend’s, too. Most people think that she and

her girlfriend are just living together to save money, to share

co-parenting with another woman and also, their long lasting

friendship. Fee also shared her growing up years with me, over a

sparsely populated break time. We had chosen to go to break later

than most of the order fillers. She is a grown version of Campbell’s

Soup kids. I would describe her as a past redhead, more blonde now.

She told me about how average looking she had been, how she did

not have much confidence and how being in a steady relationship

with her first boyfriend led to her marrying him. She says she had

lack of self esteem. Fee was friends with Jessie, her current partner,

through many years as Jessie was married to a friend of her husband’s.

I was glad to hear that there was no history of abuse on the part of

either of their husbands against them. This traumatic experience

can sometimes draw people away from being heterosexual.

My coworker Karen and her Suzie experienced this, individually

although not necessarily conclusive proof of most gays or lesbians.

 

In the case of the men I have known in my life, they ‘knew’ it, all

along but fought their desires to be with men, wanting so badly to fit

into the ‘normal’ society.

 

Fee told me their children are so happy they are a family. Some of

the kids remember the turmoil while they had fathers in their house.

Jessie was the ‘brave one,’ Fee told me. She ‘came out’ and told her

she loved Fee.  Fee still has a Granny and an “Auntie” who don’t

know that the two roommates are lovers. Fee also did give our work

insurance a ‘thumb’s up,’ since they do cover same sex partners for

medical, dental and vision insurance. Fee would like to get married

to Jessie. She says their wedding announcements would say a silly

and joyful declaration (like):

“Jessie is my girl,

Joe is my guy.

Together~

Jessica and Josephina

are one happy couple,

One happy family.”

Jessie embarrassed me a bit, but mainly since we work together, I

would not want to picture any of my coworkers’ romantic lives…

But Fee told me that the two of them take turns leading the family,

doing certain chores like cooking and cleaning, depending on their

busy schedules, She went a ‘step farther’ to share with me,

“Jessie likes me to be the ‘guy’ and I don’t mind wearing the pants

in the house, but sometimes I want to be the ‘girl’ who gets their

bath drawn, back and body parts rubbed and all those delicious

moments.”

Since I was sad to hear that a male college student got beat up

recently in the news, for holding hands and kissing in public,

I wished to ask her a personal question about prejudice. She told

me a shocking thought, that she “felt luckier to be a woman who

chooses to be gay, since men have it harder, it is not as easy for

society to accept men who are gay.”  She continued to surprise me,

by saying,

“It is easier to be a ‘gay woman’ than to be of a different race. You

know you can ‘hide’ your sexuality, if you choose, but I feel bad since

the world is still a harsh place to be if you are of color.”

Fee told me to go ahead and put the musical lists that I found in my

post, as long as I focused on a song that she and Jessie love and feel

says it all:

” Waiting on the World to Change,”

John Mayer,

“Continuum”

album,

2006.

 

How could I not include the fine and exquisite list of holiday songs,

recommended by the “Outlook” media magazine?

This is an excellent and eclectic list. Hope you will enjoy this and

it is much more encompassing than my short list of favorites on

another post.

1. “Blue Christmas,” by Elvis.

2. India.Arie with Trombone Shorty, playing “I’ve Got My Love

to Keep Me Warm.”

3.  Kenny G. and Dave Koz, “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.”

4. Idina Menzel (of “Frozen” children’s animated film fame and also,

original cast of “Rent” on Broadway) singing the songs

“Holiday Wishes”

“Do You Hear What I Hear?”

“All I Want for Christmas, is You.”

and ** Original song written by I. Menzel, with Walter Afanseif

and Charlie Midnight, “December Prayer.” (The critics say this is

wonderful.)

5. Harry Connick, Jr. singing an original song, “When My Heart

Finds Christmas.”

6. Barbara Streisand, (recommended her whole album),

“A Christmas Album.”

7. Human Nature, “The Christmas Album,” with the songs that

they highlighted as, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

and an original song, “Mary’s Boy Child.” (I need to listen to

these original songs recommended very soon!)

8. Dave Koz, “The 25th of December” album. One song that

caught my interest was “All You Need is Love,” from the Beatles,

of course:

Sung with Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Richard Marx,  Heather

Headley and Johnny Mathis.

9. Any Christmas songs sung by Johnny Mathis, they absolutely

loved and recommended. The nicknamed J. M.: “Mr. Christmas!”

The favorite on the list of mine is, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time

of the Year.”

10. The Singing Bee brought us “Pentatonix,” which is an all

a capella group of singers. The song that is their original holiday

song is, “That’s Christmas to Me.”

11. Take 6 (band) plays “He is Christmas.” An original song to be

listened and appreciated.

 

The fun and lively Christmas Concert for my granddaughter’s (Lara)

Fifth Grade Chorus had these songs on their program:

1. “Yankee Doodle Boy/ Kid From the U.S.A” written by John Jacobson

and Alan Billingsley.

2. “Colors of Winter,” written by Amy F. Bernon.

3. “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth,” by Don Gardner and

arrangement by Sally K. Albrecht.

4. “March Pat-a-Pan,” accompanied on the flute by Ana Moder and on the

hand drum by Stacy Lemke, Chorus director. The song was arranged by

Audrey Snyder.

 

I enjoyed the four songs sung by the Sixth Grade Chorus:

1. “Jubilate Deo,” an old traditional “round” song, no author or lyricist

given.

2. “Hava Nashira,” Israelis Folk Song, arranged by John Leavitt and

accompanied by Laura Lenhart on the clarinet.

3. “Gloria Tibi Domine” written by Greg Gilpin.

4. “Peace on Earth/ It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”

 

 

Are there any other songs you would like to include?

I am always happy to feature music and especially

recommend your looking

into the original songs

on this list.

Music connects our senses,

gets us up and moving,

it builds emotions

and brings

couples

closer.

If

we

could

only get

the world

to connect

so easily

it would

be a

better

place.

I am ‘off’ to see the “Fantasy of Lights, ” after I pick up my oldest

daughter, Carrie with her two boys, Skyler and Micah.

We plan to go see Santa Claus and eat a dessert out.

(Wouldn’t hot chocolate and cookies, pie or cake be scrumptious?)

 

Joyful, Cheery Sounds

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On my way into work this morning, while there was frost on my

windshield and rear window, I blasted my heater and I was once

again, thankful for the warmth and the sound of the air coming

out with a whoosh! The radio was playing one of the most cheery

songs, with a country twang in her voice, Brenda Lee was singing,

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” The radio announcer was

using a pleasant, vibrant sounding voice, “Good Morning and let’s

all say, ‘Happy 70th Birthday to . . . Brenda Lee!'”

The first recording of this rocking song was in 1958, written by

Johnny Marks, for Decca Records.

 

While driving behind the school bus, the air brakes squealing and

the door opening on London Road,  to admit busy and excited

high schoolers, (yes, I am up that early!) I felt the movement in

my feet tapping to the music on the radio and the emotions of

the students, too. I usually wish I weren’t ‘stuck’ behind a school

bus, since this means two stops on London Road, along with the

longer stop at the railroad where we ‘catch’ the train, having to

wait for it to pass by. The train whistle blew, the steam was puffing

out of the ‘chimney’ and I felt the rumbling of its approaching

and then listened to the rattling of the clickety-clack.  That is how I

would describe the repetition of the sound.

 

Once I got into my building, several people call out my name, some

who are going off to sleep, (third shifters) and those who are on my

own shift, greeting me. These are happy people since our bosses

had decided to pack our day with ‘heavy’ work and include our half

day’s worth of work we usually do on Friday and complete it today.

This means a three day weekend! Hurrah!

 

At first break, I told my two friends, Tammy and Karen, about Brenda

Lee’s birthday. We agreed the song was still a popular one, the way

it has a lot of joy and glee in its words. Then, Tammy told me she has

been enjoying listening to Harry Connick, Jr. and Lady Antebellum’s

Christmas albums. Karen stated she loves her older albums, now on

Cd’s which include those familiar voices which bring nostalgia into

her home and heart. She likes Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Burl

Ives.

I started making a list in my head, of the songs and people they were

talking about and decided to also, include some of my own personal

favorite songs and carols, along with some memorable sounds of the

holiday season. This is a compilation of some of my favorites, along

with some coworkers’ suggestions:

SONGS:

1. Harry Connick, Jr. singing, “Sleigh Ride,” which begins with the

words,

“Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,

Ring, ting tingling too…” (Thanks to my friend, Tammy.)

 

2. Dean Martin singing, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,”

which was written in 1951, by Meredith Wilson.

 

3. Bing Crosby singing, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” This

makes me sad, thinking of those who are in the armed services who

may not make it home for Christmas. The thought of the Bob Hope’s

USO holiday celebrations overseas for years and years, quickly cheers

me up again. This tradition carries on still through the help of the

USO.org. There was a lovely photograph of Idina Menzel with some

military families representing the USO. I hope the troops have a lot

of fun and the jokes make them laugh out loud, like Bob Hope would

wish this to go. “Thanks for the memories, Bob!”

Here is a short schedule of locations they are expected to be

entertaining the troops:

Dec. 7-16, 2014:  Japan, Guan and Hawaii, with the Dallas Cowboys

Cheerleaders.

Dec. 13- Clare Bowen (Hostess) at Tinker Air Force Base,  Oklahoma.

Dec. 16- Anthony Hamilton (Host) at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

Jan. 3 – 9, 2015:  Robert Irvine (Host) at Japan and Okinawa.

(Thanks to my friend, Karen, for reminding me of both Bob Hope

and the USO, along with Bing Crosby and Dean Martin’s songs.)

 

3. Whitney Houston singing the hymnal carol, “Do You Hear What I

Hear?”

(Thank you to Melvin, my coworker, who suggested this version but

I enjoy Carrie Underwood’s ‘take’ on this lovely song also. )

Here is a bit of the history of the song:  It was written in 1962, by a

married couple who were moved by seeing children on the streets

of New York City (babies in strollers) and what the lamb might have

heard in the manger scene. This was on the cusp of the Cuban Missile

Crisis, which is why there are words imparting a message of Peace.

The lyrics were written by Noel Regney and the music was written by

his wife, Gloria Shayne Baker.

 

4. John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Happy Xmas/War is Over,” which

begins with the words, “So This is Christmas.” It was written in 1971,

with tongue in cheek, by John and Yoko, in protest to the Viet Nam

War. It is also said they were thinking of their future children and

what children would ‘inherit’ in the world, with war still going on.

(Their son, Sean Lennon, was not born until 1975.)

When this song was produced, the voices of John, Yoko, the Plastic

Ono Band (with instrumentals) and the Harlem Community Choir

were beautifully blended together. The flip side of this single was

called, “Listen, the Snow is Falling.” The cover of this is ‘vintage’

looking in sepia brown and beige, with the children’s choir, ages 4-14,

included on it.

This song was also played a lot, after John Lennon was murdered on

December 8, 1980; 34 years ago this week.

*This is one of my own personal favorites.

 

5. Nat King Cole singing, “The Christmas Song,” also recognized as,

“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” This lovely song was written

in 1944, by Bob Wells and Mel Torme.

*Another of my favorites, since my parents played this on their stereo.

 

6. Bruce Springsteen’s version of the old classic song, “Santa Claus Is

Coming to Town.” This is the 2nd oldest song on the list today. It was

written in 1934, by John F. Coats and Haven Gillespie. It was presented

for the first time on the Eddie Cantor’s Radio Show. Later, in 1935, it was

also recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Band. My parents listened to this

version on the stereo and radio.

*I love the way Bruce ‘rocks this one out!’

 

7. My friend Cheryl thought the carol, which to her sounds like it belongs

in a church with a choir, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” sung by

Julie Andrews, is her favorite song of all time.  This hymn was written

by a Unitarian minister, Edmund Sears, in 1849. He lived in Wayland,

Massachusetts. There are various versions of music to go with his

moving words.

Here are a few unusual ones to share with you:

Sergio Franchi sang this in 1965. He was an Italian opera tenor, who

died in Connecticut.

Eric Burdon and the Animals used the music from “The House of

the Rising Sun,” to accompany these lyrics.

Stefan Borsch, (Sweden) performed this in his native language.

The Lettermen performed and put this on a Christmas album in

1987.

Darryl Hall and John Oates included this in a Christmas album.

Anne Murray sang this in 2001, which I feel this would be simple

and beautifully done.

Josh Groban, who is known for singing operatic style, sang this in

2007. He does a fine performance of the song, “You Lift Me Up.”

 

Cheryl is feeling much better about her grandson’s recent death,

since she enlarged a favorite photograph of Christopher when he

was only 6 years old, with her mother, his great-grandmother. She

likes to say often, “Christopher is up in Heaven with my Mom.”

Last Christmas, you may have noticed, Cheryl had me write down a

short message/poem she had written in memorial of her mother’s

fifth anniversary of her death. We are close to one another in the way

we get emotional and are sentimental. She is my one coworker who

cried and held my hand, while we watched the first Inauguration of

President Barack Obama. If you did not read the one night I wrote,

“I have to go,” over and over on a post, you may not know that her

grandson died in his sleep, due to his weakened body, his having both

a combination of the flu and a cold. The autopsy of this fine 23 year

old graduate of Delaware High School and Columbus State student

will not be completed until after the first of the New Year. Cheryl takes

comfort that he had put up his Christmas tree the day of his death and

had also called her to tell her he was putting on some special family

ornaments she had given him when he turned 21.

 

Here are special sounds that are permanently etched into my own

memories:

1. A fire in a fireplace crackling. The logs making a ‘thump’ when they

fall into one another. There is peaceful serenity in listening to a fire.

2. A little child whispering in your ear. This almost makes the hairs

on my arms stand on end. It is magical, whatever words are told.

3. The ‘clink’ of a crystal or glass against another one, while a toast

is being given. The sound of the repeated ‘clinks’ at weddings, to get

the bride and groom to kiss, makes me smile.

4. Dogs bounding towards the door, barking or yipping loudly,

announcing the arrival of guests.

5. The door slammed. I imagine those who have little children saying

to themselves, “Oh, how annoying…” and following this with a lecture

to their children, “We never slam doors in our house.” Somehow, one

day it will come to this, you will wish to hear the door slamming with

the following sound of the words, “Mommy/Daddy. . . I’m home!”

Trust me on this.

6. Baby lambs in the country kitchen of my first babysitter, Mrs. Auble,

“Baa-ing” or ‘bleating’ for their milk bottles, followed by the slurping

noises of their drinking and pulling on the bottles, furiously tugging.

7. Hearty yells.  Across sledding hills, neighbors greeting each other

across streets and yards, and the one voice, that would bring you

running home for lunch (summer) and dinner (winter).

8. Leather boots or rubber boots crunching through the snow. The

sound of the crunch makes you stop talking and ponder in wonder.

9. Birds chirping and singing despite the weather. They always seem

to not be concerned with the cold, brisk air. Their songs echoing in the

early morning air. (Particularly, for me, the cardinal’s message.)

10. The sound of a familiar voice coming across the air waves, now

on cell phone. Back then, on a heavy, black rotary dial phone, of

loved ones (grandparents) far away.

 

Those are my carefully chosen Top Ten “sounds,” will you please let us

know what sounds make you happy, particularly around the holidays?

You may mention a song or a personal memory. . .

 

 

 

 

 

December Wonders

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Making your spirits bright and your home fires warm,

makes me think of our Winter’s blustery cold and the

upcoming holidays. There are several directions your

faiths and belief systems may go- Kwanzaa, Chanukah,

Christmas or other ways. You may not be living in a cold

climate, you may be in the exact opposite of my location,

being greeted daily with warm sunshine, gentle breezes.

Wherever you are, I try to write a monthly newsletter to

keep up with various customs, cultures and faiths.

Please feel free to add in the comments section, a special

family tradition to make this interactive and meaningful.

 

Thomas Kinkade’s ‘healthy habits’ message for December is:

“Take care of your body, keeping your

body running the way it is supposed to

can be effective in lifting your spirits.”

(12/2001)

In a December issue of Prevention Magazine,

there was a list of “7 Foods to Keep You Healthy.”

I took the list and added a few personal favorite

ways to use these in the Season of Peace:

1. Eating almonds over the holidays will add some

much needed Vitamin E.

2. Serving different peas or beans, not only add

extra fiber to our diets, fill you up more, but also

give you a great source of Zinc.

3. The special addition to carrots, sweetens your

salads or grated can be added to various casseroles

(even mac and cheese), along with Vitamin A.

4. Mushrooms, cooked or raw give you Selenium.

They can be used in dips, stuffed caps or in gravies.

5. Drinking tea, either black or green, boosts your

antioxidants. Over a warming cup of tea, sprinkle a

dash of cinnamon or nutmeg to create some festive

flavorings.

6. Tomatoes give you Vitamin C, which can be so great

at fighting off colds. I like to have them in salads, but

also enjoy the way you can stuff them with crushed

croutons and Italian flavorings. Nutritionists advise

heating tomatoes releases more of its healing power.

7. Yogurt, which you can include in desserts, sauces and

dips gives you those probiotics that we all need, especially

as we get older.

 

DECEMBER

Birthstone:  Turquoise or blue peridot gemstone

Flower: Narcissus

I think of Poinsettias, when I think of December.

 

There are so many new and old books of Christmas,

along with other December holidays. This is a book

which can bridge any personal choices: “Rabbit’s Gift,”

by George Shannon and Laura Dronzek

(Harcourt Children’s Books) Snowfall, blue skies with

the beautiful effect of snowflakes and a message of hope.

 

December 6-

Full Cold Moon.

Full Night’s Moon.

 

December 7-

Pearl Harbor Day

and

Remembrance Day:

Wherever you live, take some moments to

honor your heroes. Those who serve and

protect us and our freedoms deserve our

meditation and gratitude.

 

“Believe in a Higher Being.

Believe in others and yourself.

Believe in miracles and wonders.”

(Author Unknown)

 

December 14- Quarter Moon.

 

15- Bill of Rights Day.

 

December 16th (sundown)- 24th:

Happy Hanukkah!

 

18-

This is the 50th anniversary of the Pink Panther

theatrical short featuring Pink Panther harassing

his foil/enemy. These characters are the creations

of Fritz Freleng. This won the 64th Academy Award

presentations in the department of “Animated Shorts.”

 

Definitely, this is a reminder that December is the time

to enjoy, laugh and be playful. Pink Panther was so silly

and fun.

 

22- New Moon.

 

December 25th- Christmas Day.

Many religions celebrate Christ’s Birth,

Rejoice and Follow the Stars wherever your faith

takes you.

“December is a time

of celebration and joy.

A time of promises kept

and Love reborn.”

~ Flavia, 2003.

 

26th- First Day of Kwanzaa.

This is a festive celebration of African American

community, culture and faith. This continues

until January first.

Boxing Day- Canada, U.K., Australia and NZ.

 

Many people shop for the following holiday

season (2015), finding bargains and gifts for

the coming year.

 

28- First Quarter Moon.

 

December 31st-

New Year’s Eve.

“Another fresh new year is here. . .

Another year to live.

To banish worry, doubt and fear,

To love, laugh and give.”

~ William Arthur Ward

(American Writer, 1921-1994)

 

May you and your family enjoy many experiences of

happiness. This final month of the year arrived far

too quickly! I hope you find ways to make December

stretch, savoring these special moments. Include some

meditation to help you to relax and not get too stressed.

For me, nostalgia arrives as I take out the ornaments

and decorations of Christmas past.

May this lovely time of year fill your senses with joy and

wonder in the simple things.

Most of all, wishing all of you to experience feelings of

Hope and Peace.

 

 

 

Life and Death: Basketball and Christmas

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A unique and special idea for those children who are disabled, with illnesses and

cancer is to celebrate Christmas in July.  There was a Hallmark movie, called,

“November Christmas” that also follows the concept that “Life is too short. . .”

From babies to a specific college freshman basketball player named Lauren, who

have dealt with cancer and deadly diseases and illnesses, we are sending out our

heartfelt wishes for healing and relief of pain. Wishes for families to keep up the

valiant work in making their lives comfortable and meaningful. This post is not

meant to depress readers, but to show how much others are willing to extend

themselves to make special ones ~ young people’s lives~  dreams come to fruition.

 

Brian Rutledge has property set up in Ohio, where he has “Santa’s Hideaway Hollow.”

His friend, from Mecca, Ohio, B. B. Simons arrived in July with his own rendition of

the Tow Mater, (the red truck which has a country accent), in the children’s animated

films from “Cars.” His Tow Mater had a large furry white beard that caught children’s

eyes. Their hearts and hopes to see Santa, fulfilled by Brian’s large-framed Santa,

dispensing not only “Ho Ho Ho’s” but a grand and festive meal, ice cream treats and

other wonderful holiday ‘treats,’ such as red tubular ‘balloon hats,’ with white tubular

‘beards,’ blown by one of the numerous volunteer elves.  Children wore these, along

with visiting a ‘nails and beauty’ salon, where colorful nails with glitter were ones

that little girls and boys displayed.

The red clad volunteer ‘elves’ arrived on horseback, in golf carts and other means of

transportation for this event, where three large tour buses with over 300 hundred

people, families and children unloaded. Some were shy, some were outgoing and

dancing to the beat at the drum circle, where a parent of two special children who

include one with  battling sickle cell anemia and hydrocephalus were there.

Toys and gifts given by donations from others, are specifically labeled, since Santa

Brian remembers the children who have come here a few times, along with messages

sent ahead from guests’ adult members, making sure the gifts fit the little ones’

requests. Santa’s Workshop is filled with wonder and excitement by all who enter.

 

The song, “It’s a Small World” (After All), reflects the true meaning of this place and

the holiday spirit.

 

There is a young college freshman basketball player, named Lauren Hill, who has been

battling a serious case of terminal cancer, found in an inoperable mass in her brain.

She came to Ohio’s Mt. St. Joseph University, fully intending to be a basketball ‘force

to reckon with,’ but her aggressive cancer has caused the NCAA to give permission

and there is a special game to watch, nationally played on Fox Sports today. It is held

at 2 p.m. so put Lauren and her team in your thoughts and prayers. The Cincinnati

location of Xavier College basketball courts, with Hiram University versus Lauren’s

team causes me to hold my breath and heart in a pinch. I just felt so much emotion,

reading this in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sunday November 2, 2014.

The part that grabbed me and would not let me stop from writing this post, was the

doctors and family did not even expect Lauren to be able to wait for  the originally

scheduled November 15, 2014 game. Special arrangements between her Coach, Dan

Benjamin, and Hiram’s girls’ basketball Coach Emily Hays, plus the permission of

the NCAA meant this is like a ‘last wish granted’ to Lauren.  Everyone working to

make this ‘happen’ deserve: “Thanks!”

 

Go Mt. St. Joseph University Girls’ Basketball!

 

For those who are professionals in hospitals and doctors’ offices, all those who teach

and touch these young peoples lives, through paid positions and volunteering, all

are ones who get a ‘Big Thank You’ for making a difference in these families’ lives.

The ones who leave money to Hospice and “Make A Wish” foundation, along with

cancer research programs, also are in our hearts and minds.

 

Life, death, Christmas and basketball…