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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Wait. What? It’s a few days before Christmas. This may not be the best time to talk about dieting. Maybe we should leave the diet talk until the New Year.

I suppose I could talk to you about Christmases gone by. I do have one picture of me sitting on Santa’s knee and Christmas is on Thursday this year so I could combine it with TBT (Throw Back Thursday).

Michelle & Santa Circa 1965ish

Michelle & Santa Circa 1965ish

There is no indication as to when this was taken but I think it was around 1965, give or take a year. Apparently I dressed like I was in some kind of prison program. It was when Santas wore more makeup than a working girl on New Years Eve. Other than that, I think we can all agree I was absolutely adorable. Right?

Or, perhaps I could tell you about what’s happening behind my house. And, with pictures being worth a thousand words, here are a few that should save me several thousand. So when you tally it up, this will be a novella!

Christmas Lights

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Christmas Light3

Christmas Light4

Christmas Light5 copy

Christmas Light6In case you missed it, that one shot somewhere in the middle includes Santa and some steel drum players…actually playing the drums for all to hear.

The CP Holiday Train is still one of my favourite Christmas activities but you are probably tired of hearing about it.

CP Holiday Train

 

Let’s see. There is the weather. Remember last year at this time? Most of the people in my neck of the woods were headed into the Polar Vortex and sitting in cold houses with no electricity.

Ice Storm 2013

Ice Storm 2013 – 30,000 Remain Without Power In Toronto

I get cold just thinking about it. We were lucky. Our power came back on Christmas Eve day.  Others? Well, not so much. There were people without power for weeks! Not to mention the homeless people who were out there in that insanely cold weather. Which brings me back to the knitting diet.

It bothered me a lot that I was warm and watching reports of people who were not. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Here’s the thing — yes there is always a thing, isn’t there? Those crazy neighbours with all the lights? They collect food and donations for the food bank from everyone, including the bus tours whose riders come to look at the exhibition. Then there’s the Holiday Train, which goes across the country entertaining families and collecting donations of food and cash for the local community food banks. So, when I tackled my latest weight loss program, I decided to do something that might benefit someone else. Now, my talents are limited but my vices are bountiful. “Where am I going with this,” you ask. Well, probably my biggest vice, addiction, or what ever you want to call it is TV. I am a hard core TV watcher. The only time I watch less TV is when I am making TV…something I haven’t done for a while. See if you can follow along. TV watching is conducive to snacking — snacking on junk food. Popcorn and potato chips are my main companions when I’m indulging in a little binge watching. So what could I possibly do to keep myself occupied while succumbing to my addiction which I have no intention of stopping? Knitting became the answer. It’s impossible to eat chips or popcorn while knitting. Sure, I suppose you could do it, but the wool would become greasy and the popcorn fuzzy. Yech! I’m not a very good knitter but I can knit one, pearl two and I finally learned to cast off. So I knit a scarf! Then, I knit another one. Around scarf five or six, He-Who noticed.

He-Who: What are you doing?

Me: Knitting.

He-Who: Yeah, but what are you knitting and for who?

Me: Scarves. It’s all I know how to do.

He-Who: Who’s going to wear all those scarves?

Me: Cold, homeless people. I’m going to keep knitting until next winter and then give them away to people who might need them.

And thus, my friends, the Knitting Diet© was conceived. My habit of watching way too much TV never waned but I continued to knit through the summer and into the fall. Before too long, the cost of wool became an issue. Well, to be honest it was an issue from the start. But other people chipped in and bought wool for me to work with. I learned to watch for sales and cashed in on the coupons at my local craft store. Here are some of the scarves I made over the past several months.

SCARVES

A sampling of the scarves

We packaged them up and a Chaplain friend of ours is seeing that they get to people who will really need them this winter.

packaged scarves

 

The knitting has officially begun for next year.

I know someone is going to ask if the diet worked. Yes! Yes it did. I actually lost about 65 lbs. this year and the knitting definitely contributed to that total. There were other measures taken but I think we can leave that for the New Year.

Merry Christmas Every One

Stay Warm 

Logo pig bookends Christmas

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Last week I was coming home from a Christmas party. My neighbour was at the wheel as we had car pooled and well, I don’t have a car anymore. I was a bit out of sorts. The place where the party was held had gotten way too hot and I started having a thundering headache fairly early on. Let’s just say I was not my usual jovial self. In fact, apparently, I was quite annoying as my chauffeur threatened to abandon me several times throughout the evening. On our way home this wonderful beacon of neighbourly joy decided to stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things so she could hunker in the next morning. Anyone who knows me understands that the one thing I can not tolerate is grocery shopping. I am truly blessed that He-Who loves to grocery shop and usually takes care of it. Upon occasion he has tricked me into going with him. You know … accidentally on purpose. His life is hell for the next day or so until I forgive him for his sin. Needless to say I could not let this go by with my neighbour.  I started protesting immediately. She had pretty much had enough and said, “Fine. Wait in the car.”  You all know I live in Canada, in the frozen north. It is December and after 10:00 pm so the sun has been down for hours. The temperature is sitting around -23C with the windchill. There is no way I am sitting in the car while she lolly gags around the grocery store. So, in I go. I call He-Who, tell him where I am and ask him if we need anything. I am smart enough to know to put the phone away from my ear as he hysterically laughs at me being in a grocery store. Believe me the cloud of darkness over my head is reaching its peak.

grocery store copy

After a much longer then anticipated exploration of every aisle in the store we paid for our goods and went back outside into the now cold car.  The remainder of the ride home was looking bleak and very quiet.  Quite frankly I was too busy sulking like a two year old to carry on a conversation. I know it is hard to believe but there I was headed for the naughty list in the fast lane.

Naughty or nice

The neighbourly one broke the silence.

“So what do you think of the lights behind us?”

“What lights?”

“What do you mean, what lights?”

“What lights? I don’t know what you are talking about?”

“What are you, freaking blind? When was the last time you look out your back window?”

“I look out it every day.”

The car got silent again. We were nearing home. Left turn onto Liverpool Road. One more right hand turn and I am home and this night is over! As I said this in my head I realized she was driving past our street. I swear I whined like a baby, “I live there.  You missed my street!” She took the very next right and my eyes popped out of my head! I was out of the car and snapping pictures all the while losing feeling in my fingers.

This, My Friends, is what is behind me…

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I was one happy camper and thanked my neighbour profusely for taking the time to show me and for making my night. See what I did there? Back on the good girl list.

Christmas Lights

When I started this post it was with full intention of going back and getting some better pictures and video so you could get the full effect. I was going to post it on the weekend. I mentioned previously I live in Canada. I live in Pickering, Ontario, which is part of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). We had a pretty serious ice storm over the weekend and much of Toronto and the surrounding areas were left without power, heat, hot water – you know, all those comforts we have come to know and love – for days! By day two our cell phones were dead and I was longing for a hot tea. Remember that neighbour? She gathered up the phones and chargers, my electric kettle and all the thermoses and insulated cups we could find and drove to her office in the next town which had power back. When she returned we had charged phones and hot tea. We were fortunate that we have a gas fireplace to keep us warm and I slept on an airbed in front of it. As I type this it is Christmas Eve and my power returned this morning but there are still people without power and heat. The hydro guys have been working around the clock since Saturday to get every one back up and running in some of the bitterest winter weather I have ever experienced. They all deserve a medal and our undying gratitude.

Here is a sampling of images to give you an idea of how beautiful and deadly the ice storm was.

As I play catchup with my cleaning, baking and work I just wanted to take a few minutes to say how grateful I am we came through this unscathed, to ask you to say a little prayer for those who are still in the deep freeze and to wish you a very “Merry Christmas”. Stay warm!

Fireplace

Logo pig bookends Christmas

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This week found He-Who and I heading down to the Niagara Region to run errands (usually this means pay bills), Christmas shop (so we have bills to pay) and visit family (which is hit and miss because we go on days like Tuesday).  Our list of “errands” took us into the US which means I get to stop at my baby sister’s in the hopes of seeing her, my hysterical brother-in-law, my beautiful niece and my adorable grandniece.  Did I mention it was Tuesday? The brother-in-law was working, my niece (who is about to become a nurse) was doing her clinical and little Ellee was off at her daycare. Luckily, my sister was home so I got to see her.

ASHLEE AND ELLEE

My sister’s house was decorated for Christmas and she handed me a bag of goodies from Ellee. It seems 3-year-old Ellee has been getting quite crafty and is making a lot of presents for her family. Inside the bag I found all kinds of treasures. These are a couple of my favourites.

ELLEE ART

As you can see, all of them are fridge worthy. Everything I pulled out of the bag made me smile more. They were all keepers.

Looking around at my sister’s home, I noticed that she still kept the little Angel/Elf I made her years ago when I was still in school. I made them for everyone that year and most of my family still have them. They were the silliest things but they remain one of my favourites.

Angel ElfOver the years I have made many gifts for my friends and family. They all have a Christmas tree with lights from my ceramic phase; they all have a hooked rug from the year I took that on; and they all have a thread painting from the years I studied Japanese thread painting (also known as Bunka). There were dolls, photos, puzzles and knitting.  These were the gifts that people chose to keep. In later years when I had a good job and career (I know that’s a bit like a once upon a time fairytale) I bought expensive gifts but I bet neither they nor I can remember what they were.  There is a certain magic to something into which you have put time, effort and maybe a drop of blood or two from a needle prick.

Japanese Thread Painting

This is “Bunka” aka: Japanese Thread Painting

I can go to most of my family’s and a lot of friends’  homes and find something on display that I made for them. When we came home, I realized that a lot of the things I had hanging around were things that friends or family had made for me, or I had made myself. I tell you it is Christmas magic!

Homemade gifts

I may not see everyone I would like to see as often as I would like to see them. They all, however, have a little bit of me with them all the time,  and I a little bit of them, through the things we have made for each other over the years.

The last thing in my bag of goodies from Ellee was this…

Magic Wand

I pulled it out of the bag and looked at my sister questioningly. She said, “Oh, that’s your magic wand.” I wish you all could have seen the look on He-Who’s face when I instantly pointed it at him and said, “Disappear!”.  It was magic!

Christmas Lights

Ellee finished her cookies

Ellee finished her cookies

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It’s a new year.
2013
I’m happy to start a new year.
2012 was not one of my favourite years but I don’t wish it away for anything because along with some of the really bad things that happened, a lot of really great things happened.

This year for the first time in my life I am making a New Year’s resolution that I know without a doubt I am going to keep. I promise on my honour for as long as I live, I will never, and I do mean never, move during the Christmas Holidays again. If some insane impulse ever makes me even contemplate this I beg all of you to please slap me upside the head. Do not hold back. Just swing back and wallop me with everything you have got!

Who in their right mind would ever decide to do such a thing? Well, I did find someone else who has done it. Amy over at The Bumble Files had a tale to tell in her A Christmas Journey: Ghost of the Past. I am letting her use the “temporary insanity” card.

craycray

It seemed like a good idea at the time and I was excited about being back in Niagara Falls for Christmas. I had a plan. I was organized. I made gigantic labels for everything so there would be no confusion.

1) STORAGE     2) NIAGARA FALLS     3) DUMP

Niagara Label

Big Labels should have worked.

I had been purging for weeks and thought I had it all figured out. “Ha!” I say, “Ha!”. Let me just say this, the move began Friday Dec. 21st. Never in my wildest imagination of disasters did I picture us having to drive back to Oshawa everyday (including Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve) except for Christmas Day & Boxing Day. Pieces of furniture were missed that were to go in storage and we were unable to get them in the car so we had to rent a vehicle. A lot of things were missed with the load that went to the dump and the Christmas presents I had carefully labelled with the children’s name that were to receive them and set aside somehow ended up in storage. I hope. Yes, we were the last ones to leave Walmart on Christmas Eve trying to not disappoint a little one. Did I mention that we finally got the winter storms that had been predicted? The driving back and forth was pretty nerve wracking.

We had made arrangements in advance for some temporary measures to be taken both with Canada Post and with our internet provider as this location was not to be our final destination. When it came time to implement these plans all of a sudden we were told, “you can’t do that”. In the panic that ensued (admittedly more from me than from He-Who) tears were shed (yeah, me again) and we had to figure out a new plan. Needless to say we were off-line far too long. Somehow I am no longer getting all the notifications for the blogs I follow. It may take forever and a day to catch up on my reading and commenting but I am trying. If I miss any please forgive me in advance.

That being said I do have to acknowledge some awards bestowed upon me before the big moving fiasco.

Thank you Lisa from Life With The Top Down for “passing forward” the Liebster Award to me and to Meredith at The Wanderlust Gene for nominating me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.  I have come to admire both these women for their writing and feel that I have come to know them well from our “comment” conversation.  With each award there is always a criteria to follow for passing along the honour so here we go.

Liebster Blog Award

Liebster Blog Award

According to Lisa, Liebster (pronounced: leeb-stir) is a German word meaning sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.  The Liebster Blog Award recognizes up and coming bloggers and winners are asked to “pay it back and forward.”  The award is given to those bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

The Rules for the Liebster Award are as follows: 

  • Link back to the blogger who gave you this award
  • Post the award to your blog
  • Post 11 things about yourself.
  • Answer the questions asked of you, plus create 11 new questions for your nominees to answer
  •  Nominate 11 people you think deserve the award and link them to your post.
  • Go to their pages and tell them they have been chosen

Rules of the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

  • All recipients need to thank the giver
  • Post 7 things about yourself
  • Pass the award on to 7 other bloggers of their choice and let them know that they have been nominated.
  • Include the logo of the award in a post or on your blog

 

I’m going to do a little cheating here and answer the 11 questions Lisa asked me and hopefully you will accept that as the “things about myself” for both awards.

1.  What is you favorite song of all time?

It’s A Wonderful World – has to be Louis singing it.

2.  Boxers, briefs, boy shorts, granny panties, thong or the universal choice of Commando?

Boy Shorts – To be honest it depends on who is doing the wearing.

3.  Would you break the law to save a loved one?

Without thinking twice.

4.  Would you go back to being a teenager, without the wisdom you have now?

I was much wiser as a teenager. Also, I could always use that I was “young and stupid” as an excuse.

5.  What are you most grateful for?

The short period of time I had with my Mother.

6.  Are you a beach or mountain kind of person?

Beach. Beach. Beach.Beach.Beach.Beach

7.  Reveal one of your guilty pleasures?

American Hogger fascinated me.

8.  Are you a dark, milk or white chocolate lover?

I know I will never hear the end of this but I am not a fan of chocolate. Give me butterscotch or caramel. If I had to choose chocolate it would be white.

9.  If you could give a newborn child one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be kind.

10.  What is your best childhood memory?

Listening to my Mother sing.

11.  Do you act your age or your shoe size?

Neither…lately I have been acting way older than my shoe size.

I am passing forward the Liebster Award to:

Woggins Writing •  Twenty8 • Meredith With Her Mouth Open • There And Back • My Ideal Woman • Vyvacious • Edith Levy Photograpy • Cowboys and Crossbones • Matterings of Mind • Bohemian Sentiments • Personal Perceptions

The 11 questions I have chosen for the above bloggers are …

1) What is your favourite line from a movie?

2) Name three songs you have sung most recently.

3) What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

4) Dog or cat?

5) Name your top five TV shows (past or present)?

6) When you walk with someone you love do you hold hands or link arms?

7) What is the one thing that will bring a smile to your face even on your darkest day?

8) Would you rather walk through a garden or on a beach?

9) Have you ever worn socks with sandals?

10) If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?

11) Have you ever laughed so hard something embarrassing happens?

Here are my seven nominees for The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award:

IfYouNeverTri • Life On A Silva Platter • Words We Women Write • Jean Day Friday • A Londoner From Afar • Articles of Absurdity JavaGirls Life

One other honour I would like to mention is that I was “Freshly Pressed”. Being “Freshly Pressed” is something I think we all would like to happen whether we admit it or not. Le Clown On Fire actually campaigned to have it happen to him. In my case the post that brought me the honour was actually written on another blog I am a part of called Canadica.  It is a collaboration of  a group of American and Canadian bloggers pretty much poking fun at each other’s country. If you are looking for a good laugh I suggest you check it out.

One final thing I would like to mention as we start burning through another year. He-Who has decided that he is no longer “He Who Shall Remain Nameless For His Own Protection” and has taken to calling himself  “He-Who Must Not Be Blamed”. This is going to be an interesting year.

Silk Purse Productions

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http://www.niagarafallstourism.com/experience/holidays/christmas/

For the first time in over 10 years I will be home for Christmas. Niagara Falls will always be “home”, no matter where I live. As it turns out, He-Who and I will be “wintering” in Niagara Falls and we are planning to be there until the end of March. Now, I know that most people would prefer to winter in a warmer climate. Niagara Falls would not be their  fantasy destination during the colder months but for me it is exactly what I need. It will be wonderful to be able to catch up and make plans with friends I haven’t seen in way too long. As a rule we drive two or more hours (depending on the traffic) run around to see a few family members and then before you know it we have to turn around and drive back. We try to get way too much into one trip and everybody gets short changed. I’m looking forward to simply being able to drop in on someone for a coffee and not always be thinking of the drive back.

That’s the good news folks.

Things haven’t exactly gone well the last few years for He-Who and I. After losing the job I loved at the TV station and having a really bad experience at a smaller company in the “Big City”, we decided to venture out on our own. The business we started was in the Durham Region which is what prompted our move here.  It has been very difficult for He-Who as he continued to work in the horse racing industry in and around Woodbine Racetrack and had to spend way too many hours on what has to be the world’s worst highway … the 401.  After two years we had to make the very difficult decision to stop losing our money on the business and call it a day. Of course this means we no longer have to live here so we gave our notice. While this was going on things started to go really wrong with the Racing Industry here in Ontario. Race tracks were being closed, racing days were being eliminated and in short, the government was annihilating the racing industry. Yesterday was He-Who’s last day for this season’s contract so we have some pretty scary decisions to make.

We’ve been very blessed with friends and family and it wasn’t long before someone accepted our invitation to let us house sit for them while they are in Florida for the winter.  Of course while packing and making the arrangements to get rid of as much of our stuff as we could and to store the rest, my car decided that it was time for it to retire. In all honesty it has taken me over 400,000 k and can probably use the rest but it could have had better timing. While one of my relatives is trying to coax my car to come out of retirement a long time friend said, “use my car”. Just like that.  So while we may be temporarily homeless, a little underfinanced and unemployed, we have an abundance of wealth with family and friends.

Michelle & Santa

Santa and I for
Toni over at Words We Women Write

I plan to make the best of our winter in Niagara. After all it is one of Canada’s 10 Most Festive Christmas Cities. It will be wonderful  to see and spend time with the people I have been missing, some of whom you have met here in my stories. Best of all – I’ll be home for Christmas.

Christmas Logo pig lineup

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Yesterday Amy over at The Bumble Files wrote a wonderful piece, “How About a Lovely Tree In Your House“, that inspired some memories leading me to share with her an old post from when I first started blogging on a very irregular basis. (No need to point out I am still pretty much irregular). I have been struggling with the Christmasy post I was working on and I’m pretty sure only 3 people read the original post so with Amy’s insistance encouragement here is an updated version of the story.

My most vivid memories of Christmas include my Mom. She always made it a very special time for us. To us she was Christmas. We lost her when I was 12 and each one of us took that part of her and hung on to it in our own way. My sister Pat is the over the top Christmas Queen in our family. For me, two things bring me right back to my childhood Christmases. First, the song Silver Bells brings me to my Mother’s side, and I can hear her singing it or humming. The other, is the Christmas tree…the very real Christmas tree.

We always had a real tree growing up. In my early teens I had to fight for it. My Dad had started to introduce the idea of an artificial tree. When I was 15 I lost that fight. I was devastated and stayed in the basement. Now, at that time I had a group of friends that hung out in my basement all the time. We did everything together and were pretty much inseparable. My friend Jimmy, who I have always called JQ, knew how upset I was. We were close and he just “got” what it meant to me. JQ walked to the closest place he could find a tree. It was in the lot of a local Church. Did I mention we were 15? We didn’t have our drivers licenses yet, so JQ dragged that tree all the way back to my basement. When he showed up with it one half was pretty much worn off, but, it was the most beautiful tree in the world as far as I was concerned. That night all the gang came over. Everyone brought leftover lights from their homes and stuff to make ornaments with. We spent the night making some pretty funny looking ornaments and stringing popcorn for the tree. It was a wonderful tree and I still have some of the ornaments.

JQ is one of those special friends that become a part of you and your life and you always have a connection with. He is like that for many people. It is his nature. In later years when I was ill and on my own, JQ would again show up on my doorstep with a Christmas tree (this time he drove it there so it had all its branches intact) with his two beautiful little girls in tow. It was wonderful. Watching him set it up and the little ones helping him make it come alive. Over the next several years that became almost a tradition. JQ and his daughters would bring me my Christmas tree and decorate it. I have pictures of them with the finished tree every year that shows them growing up. I do hope JQ knows how much it meant to me that he helped keep my Christmas alive.

JQ & His Daughters Making Christmas for Me

JQ & His Daughters Making Christmas for Me

When He-Who and I celebrated our first Christmas he knew the score right from the beginning. He had heard many times how JQ had saved Christmas. A tough act to follow, but, My He-Who stepped up to the plate. He would scour the lots and always bring home the best tree for us each year. Until…

Yes, until, the year he was travelling through Texas and New Mexico with his daughter just before Christmas. He was on the phone every day promising he would be home in time to get me my tree. A funny thing happened that year. For some reason there was a shortage of Christmas trees in the US and Canadian trees were being shipped at a premium stateside. Newspapers and newscasters started talking about how hard it was to find a tree now. I started to worry, and told him he was going to have a hard time finding a tree. “Don’t worry. I always find you the perfect tree, I won’t let you down”. I’m sure he thought I was making it up until he arrived home shortly before Christmas and saw the headlines. He-Who, being He-Who, was sure he could still find me one. He searched and searched and phoned to tell me about his lack of progress. He decided he would have to bite the bullet and buy an artificial tree. He had no idea at the time the run there was on artificial trees because of the lack of real ones and he was starting to sweat. He knew no matter what he did he couldn’t win at this point. I remember it clearly, like it was yesterday. I had been in the edit suite all day finishing up Christmas promos.

He-Who: I’m really sorry, but I can’t find a real Christmas tree.
Me: Did you think I was making it up? I tried to tell you.
He-Who: So I went looking for an artificial tree.
Me: (eyes welling up) I don’t want an artificial tree.
He-Who: Well there weren’t any left anywhere. But, I found this small tree at Canadian Tire. It was the last one. It is really pretty. It’s fiber optic.
Lots of silence…
Me: You bought me a fiber optic Christmas tree? (Crying ensued)
He-Who: But it’s really pretty
Me: (suck it up he feels bad enough) OK, well at least I can put my ornaments on it.
He-Who: (poor bastard) Ummm, no you can’t, you can’t put ornaments on a fiber optic tree.
Me: (more crying) OK, well at least I can put the angel Lorne (my boss) gave me for Christmas on it.
He-Who: (poor, poor bastard) Well, actually you can’t. You can’t put anything on it. It is fiber optic.
Me: (a lot more crying).
He-Who: (poor, poor, poor bastard)

The rest of the day I sniveled through and blubbered my way home, threatening to report him to JQ for anti Christmas activity.

When I arrived home he had set it up quite lovely. He stood beside it meekly, waiting. I cried. “That’s not a tree, that’s a psychedelic bush! That’s Ralph.” Note: I have this habit of naming things. And Ralph was the worse name I could think of. (That was before I had met my brother-in-law Ralph, who I like a lot, so sorry Ralph.)

People came and went over the Holiday season. They would come in and admire Ralph. He-Who would smile triumphantly and I would explain that although it was a pretty thing, it was in no way a Christmas tree.

White Christmas Holidays ended and He-Who went off on business again. Ralph remained in my living room. I put the rest of the decorations away, but this was He-Who’s creature and he was to deal with it. I started reading this book called “White Christmas” by Jody Rosen  , the story of how Irving Berlin penned the now famous & traditional song we all know and love. It tells the tale of the Russian-Jewish immigrant who wrote America’s yuletide ballad that would become the world’s all-time top-selling and most widely recorded song. Somehow, it struck a chord with me that if Irving Berlin could come to mean so much to those of us who loved Christmas, then so could Ralph. By the time My He-Who returned home Ralph had become Irving and we had bonded.

Somehow, out of stubbornness by both of us, Irving stayed up all year long. On principle, I was still not putting him away. The truth is I didn’t want to tell He-Who that Irving had become my confident and I talked to him all the time. The following year, Irving was a welcome member of our celebrations, and he was finally put away after the season. Irving continues to celebrate every Christmas season with us, but

Irving

Irving

… he is still not a real Christmas Tree.

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Merry Christmas Everyone

Christmas Logo Separation Bar

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We are fast approaching my favourite time of year.
No, not Christmas (although I am a huge fan).
No, not New Years (although I appreciate getting to start another one).

My favourite time of year is that time right in between Christmas and New Years, after all the chaos and madness that Christmas can bring and before the excitement of ringing in the New Year. This is my time. I get to snuggle up with my books and read to my heart’s content. Now I am not talking about the latest on social media, running your own business or how to make a ton of money. All of those are worthy reads throughout the year as a matter of course. Those are the books I have to read to stay on top of things. I’m talking nothing but pleasure reading. A novel, a story, an adventure.  You aren’t going to solve any mysteries of the world, cure cancer or strike it rich.  You are going to read just for the pure pleasure of reading the written word.

So, I thought I would share a bit of my Christmas Library with you.  To be honest, I do start before Christmas with two very special books. First is Williams – Sonoma Christmas, the book I can plan all my meals and entertaining with. The second is Joy to the World  – A Family Christmas Treasury which has something for everyone. There are stories, songs and poems from all around the world and as the name implies is a family tradition and treasure.

Then it’s time to get cozy with the rest of my favourite Christmas reading.
Richard Paul Evans has a wonderful collection starting with his well known The Christmas Box, then Finding Noel and finally The Gift. Evans’ style is warm and intimate and makes you feel like you are getting a personal glimpse into his characters’ lives. 
The Last Holiday Concert by the author of Frindle, Andrew Clements, is fun for young readers and adults alike. One to share with your kids. 

One of my favourite authors, Frank McCourt, whose memoir Angela’s Ashes won him a Pulitzer Prize wrote a captivating children’s storybook shortly before his death. Angela and the Baby Jesus is a lovely story, elegantly illustrated and the perfect Christmas story for all ages. 

Another Irish author I read a lot is Andrew M. Greely. He takes me on adventures and makes me laugh out loud and quite often I find myself double checking that yes indeed this man is a Catholic Priest. In Home For Christmas he “weaves a moving tale of redemption in the grand Holiday tradition of It’s A Wonderful Life.


Perhaps my most loved book to read this time of year is White Christmas:The Story Of An American Song by Jody Rosen. This vividly written historical tale tells the story of how one of the most famous Christmas songs came to be.
With any luck there will be a new book to add to my Christmas Library this year. Either way, I will be quite content to put my feet up, snuggle under a throw and read to my hearts content. By the way, I will also be sipping my favourite Holiday beverage, a Chai Alexander which I thought I would share with you too.

Chai Alexander 
1 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Voyant Chai Liquer
1/2 oz Dark Creme De Cacao
1 oz milk or cream
Shake in a cocktail shaker until frothy & strain into a cocktail glass. Sprinkle with ground nutmeg.

Cheers and Merry Christmas!
M

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