All posts tagged: Holidays

Christmas Tree

Christmas – there is, perhaps, no other time of the year when Peace and Goodwill is more prevalent. That is what makes Christmas my favorite time of the year and my Christmas Tree my favorite photo this month. My Christmas Tree is full of decorations that are either home made or from little shops all over the world. There is even something from Qatar where local merchants take a multi-prong approach to marketing for every major holiday, even non-Muslim ones! O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your branches green delight us!   They are green when summer days are bright, They are green when winter snow is white.   O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your branches green delight us! – English version of O Tannenbaum by Ernst Anschütz –   The Christmas Tree in Canada:  Advent calendars, gingerbread houses, cookies and Christmas trees were all introduced by German settlers who migrated to Canada from the United States in the 1700’s. But it was Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, who solidified the Christmas tree …

Pumpkin Meets Drill

A well-rounded and compact head – a good description of a cabbage, but it works for a pumpkin too! This year I used a drill to make almost perfect round holes in my jack-o’-lantern. (Did you know that the term jack-o’-lantern comes from an Irish folktale? Large turnips and potatoes were used by the Irish in Ireland, but they switched to the readily available pumpkins when they came to America.) ‘Jack’ doesn’t look all that handsome in the daylight, but he really ‘shines’ in the dark! When I was looking for a quotation about pumpkins, I found a musing by Alexander McCall Smith. It reminded me of transporting my pumpkins last year.  I secured them in the back seat of the Jeep and briefly thought about what quiet, friendly companions they were. The pumpkin looked delicious—almost perfectly round and deep yellow in colour, it sat on the passenger seat beside her so comfortably as she drove out of the car park, so pleased to be what it was, that she imagined conducting a conversation with …

The Christmas Spirit Can’t Come too Early this Year

The World of Commerce starts promoting Christmas earlier and earlier each year, it seems. In Canada and the United States, the ‘Great Pumpkin’ products can be in one shopping aisle and ‘Jolly Old Saint Nick’ can be in the next. Personally, I don’t like the crass materialism of the season, and I really feel sorry for the Sales Associates in the stores. Imagine having to listen to the same Christmas music for almost 2 months! This year, however, I’ve put up my small table top Christmas tree already. Every time I walk by it, I am cheered by the tiny white snowmen decorations that my daughter and I made over 18 years ago. At night the twinkly lights brighten that corner of the room. It is peaceful. I have several reasons for putting up this tree so early. First, it is a calming reminder that this final journey with a loved one is down their path to a peaceful place. The tree is also a reminder that the greatest contribution I can give others right now …

Christmas 2016 – Santa and the North Pole

Christmas is very nearly here, and I’d like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and All the Best in the New Year. As you can see from this photo of my Christmas tree, I’m all ready for Santa to visit.  I anticipate one very nicely wrapped medium sized gift of the hair drying appliance variety! For better or for worse, Christmas is a time for gifts and giving. Who knows that better than Santa – and Wal-Mart, Costco and Tesco, to name just a few of the larger retailers! While it is easy to walk into the familiar brick and mortar stores in communities around the world, it is quite impossible to visit Santa’s establishment. There are several reasons for this. First, of course, is the fact that Santa is not a retailer. He is the owner of a factory and distribution outlet. His business model simply does not include on-site sales. Then there is the issue of the location of his  facility. It is, according to lore, at the North Pole …

Christmas Greetings – 2015

The Car Guy is in the kitchen making S’More Pinwheels; the snow is gently falling; NORAD is already tracking Santa’s progress; we have no place we have to be until tomorrow morning – Life is Good. I don’t mean to sound like a Grinch, but if we are going to be ‘entertained’ by Christmas Carols for almost a month, don’t you think they could play this one now and again? I want a hippopotamus for Christmas Only a hippopotamus will do No crocodiles or rhinoceroseses I only like hippopotamuseses And hippopotamuses like me too! – Written by John Rox, sung by Gayla Peevey in 1953- To the member of our family who got my name in the Christmas draw – you didn’t ask me for a Christmas Wish List. Did you finally get me a hippo? To my small group of faithful readers – and to the thousands of followers of this blog who might stumble onto this post by mistake – Have a very Merry Christmas! Post 525

Cautionary Tales – Falling off the Roof and Securing a Pumpkin

We had two ‘Be Careful!’ events at the Red House this week. The first was when The Car Guy went up on the roof to check the chimneys and see if the gutters needed cleaning. I was truly torn as to whether I would go up there too. I’m okay going up the ladder. The transition from ladder to roof is a bit scary. I’m okay walking around the roof, as long as I stay at the peak. The transition from roof to ladder… that is the really hard part. But, I did it, and really enjoyed looking at the yard below. The second ‘Be Careful’ event was the transportation of the Pumpkins. They had to get from our house to the Family Pumpkin Carving Party, a trip of half an hour. I’d already given the pumpkins a lobotomy and didn’t want them rolling around the back of the JEEP. I also didn’t want them to turn into projectiles if we had to stop suddenly! The Car Guy decided this was the best way to …

At Peace on Christmas Eve – 2013

All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring – Forgive but do not forget. Forgiving changes the perspectives. Forgetting loses the lesson – Paulo Coelho – Post 456

The WestJet Christmas Miracle

Part of a WestJet flight attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of WestJet Airways.” Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus – but he wears a blue suit, not a red one! Watch how Santa and his WestJet Elves put the magic back into Christmas: WestJet Airlines was founded in 1996 by a team of Calgary entrepreneurs as a western Canadian regional carrier with three aircraft flying to five cities. Today, WestJet is Canada’s leading high-value, low-fare airline offering scheduled service to more than 80 destinations in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. They lead in the ‘fun factor’ category too! Post 455

Cats and Pumpkins at Halloween – 2012

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, Voices whisper in the trees, “Tonight is Halloween!” – Dexter Kozen – At night, if I don’t rein in my imagination, the walk from the road to The Red House is spooky. It is a long winding driveway, lined with tall dark spruce trees and just beyond are thick woods where all the wild animals lie in wait. When I was a kid, I would not have ventured up this driveway on Halloween – unless I knew with absolute certainty that the treats at the door were worth being that scared. It is a forbidding stroll at night. We haven’t had a trick or treater at our door for a long time. There used to be a few children on our rural road, but they have long since grown up. I still decorate for Halloween anyhow and we still buy a few treats just in case. And I will likely walk down to the end of our driveway and back, just to get the adrenalin going. Nothing …

A Very Short Christmas ‘To Do’ List – 2011

It will come as a shock to no one that cancer isn’t something you put on your “LIST OF THINGS TO DO TODAY”. – Erma Bombeck, Chapter 13, I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to go to Boise – Children Surviving Cancer- Early December, 1992. The diagnosis was acute lym­phoblastic leukemia. Our youngest child, a teenager who had been feeling ill for only a few weeks, was suddenly a cancer patient. My Christmas “To Do” list was pretty short that year – put up our Christmas Tree at home and a little tree at the hospital. I suppose I cooked a turkey on Christmas Day, but I don’t really remember. I wrote my annual Christmas Letter, but it was very short. It started out with, “Then, life took one of those turns that you never really expect…” Christmas happened anyhow. The rest of the family stepped in and upheld the traditions they felt were important. Friends and family visited and brought baking (which was a special treat because it …

We Say Merry Christmas – 2011

Our Family celebrates Christmas. We aren’t all practicing Christians, but we say Merry Christmas, and we sing Christmas Carols. We decorate our house, and eat turkey. We visit friends, and we exchange gifts. We believe in the miracle of the birth of all children. We hope for Peace on Earth, and we extend our hands to all in Good Will.  We don’t think you have to belong to any particular religious denomination to accept and celebrate all that is good about this holiday – this holiday we call Christmas. Some of the most wonderful things have to be believed to be seen. Like flying reindeer and angels. Like peace on earth, goodwill, hope, and joy. Real because they can be imagined into being. Christmas is not a date on a calendar but a state of mind. – Robert Fulghum –

Easter Dinner – Signage For When the Guests Get Here

Today is our Easter Dinner and we’ve invited lots of people. When the guests arrive, there is always a bit of general confusion and milling about while coats are hung, hugs and handshakes are exchanged and food donations are sorted out. (A dinner party at the Red House is rarely a free lunch…) At recently past functions, very small children have been ushered outside to play, or put into closets if there is a chance they will take a header down over the edge of the stairs where the railing is not yet a railing. Except this year – I’m much more organized than in the past. I have Signage for the parents! The First Sign will make it clear how very small children should be monitored: After dinner, we’ll bring out some treats. There is a sign for that: We like to end things with Coffee. It is the signal to our guests that it is time for them to perk up and get ready for the long drive home. I have a sign …

cartoon heart Valentine

The Market and Valentine’s Day Spending – 2011

The retail industry in America is buzzing with excitement. They believe that Valentine’s Day spending this year will be up about 11% over last year. The National Retail Federation expects $15.7 billion will be spent on traditional Valentine’s gifts – Greeting Cards, an Evening Out, Candy, Flowers, Jewelery etc. Canadians will spend a proportional amount of money too, but we don’t like to brag about it, I guess. I can’t help but think that there are better ways for Americans to spend their $15 billion, given that they are still trying to recover from a recession. For example, did you know that there are about 50 million Americans who go hungry each day, and $15 billion dollars a year would feed them all? About $15 billion a year is needed to replace aging drinking water systems. $15 billion is twice what the National Parks Service needs to bring maintenance of facilities up to date. Somebody needs to figure out how to market these needs and make it easy for people to put money or time …

The Quippery

New Years Day – Thoughts, Not Resolutions

It’s a bit early to predict what 2011 is going to be like. But one thing I know for sure, my New Years Resolutions are not going to fail. I didn’t make any. I did set myself a few tasks, though. The first one is to get my “Big Girl, All Dressed Up” Coat altered. If that proves unfeasible, I’ll send it off to Good Will. It is a nice, simple long black coat with a leather collar. Since I wore it last, a few years ago likely, it has changed. Or at least, the memory I have of the coat has changed. The once moderately padded shoulders now make me look like a football player. I seem as wide as I am tall. I will never be accused of being a fashion maven, but even I could sense that the coat and I no longer belong together. Next – I’m going to be a bit more selective about which blogs I make comments on. Without even stating a preference for one side or the other, I have been …

Christmas Peace – Keeping the Season Simple – 2010

I’ve been reading quite a few blogs over the past few days, and the general consensus seems to be that this holiday season has become anything but peaceful. “Crazy ideas of a perfect Christmas” is how one blogger describes her preparations. “Worst traits of humanity” is how another blogger observes the shoppers. “Madness that are the weeks leading up to Christmas”  is how another blogger sums up her last week of activity. I’m a perfectionist to the nth degree in many things. I have the potential on any given day to detail something to death. And sometimes I do. This is balanced at Christmas, quite thankfully I must say, by the fact that I am not a shopper, and I really don’t like to cook all that much.  It has simplified the Christmas holiday immensely. So while others are rampaging through the stores for yet another gift to add to the pile under the tree, I have placed just one. It is a power tool for my Spousal Unit. And I didn’t even have to …

A Christmas Tree Decorated with Memories – 2010

My Christmas Tree is my Memory Tree because most of the decorations were either purchased at places we have visited, been gifts from family and friends, or are crafts I have made. My favourite ornament when I was a child was a this red and white dotted glass ball. Above it in this photo are thin slabs of wood that we cut from a fallen branch in our yard. Many of the decorations were purchased from the places we have traveled to. When I decorate the tree, each of these ornaments is a pleasant reminder of a place we have visited. Others, like the stitched ball in the top right of the photo,  have been gifts from friends and family. One fall I crocheted snowflakes for the tree. Each one was uniquely different – partly by design, and partly because I’m not all that proficient with a crochet hook. In our house in England the bathrooms didn’t have light switches. They had pull cords. I bought these decorative  pull cord handles for the bottom of the cord, then …

The Magic of December at the British Museum – 2010

December can be a mournful month, with certain days being particularly difficult. My mother died on this day (15th)  in 1987.  Every December 15th throws me a bubble off plumb all day – not half a bubble, a whole bubble off. I had an equally bad December in 1991. That was the year cancer visited our house. My Christmas letter that year started out with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself -I lived through this horror, I can take the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  Then I talked about our child and leukemia. December 2000 wasn’t a great month either. We had completed two years of assignment in England, and were being transferred to the Middle East. It wasn’t a move I was looking forward to. The first half of the month was consumed with packing and movers. On December …

Why I Support Halloween – 2010

With Halloween just around the corner, this Photo-Quote was a natural. The photo is a pumpkin my granddaughter carved, and the quote comes from Charles Schulz: There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin. – Linus Van Pelt in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” by Charles Schulz – Halloween will likely elicit the usual Church/State debate about religion. State, in this case, are the schools in Canada (and the United States) that have either renamed or eliminated Halloween. I have been an ardent supporter of Halloween for over 50 years, and I have never thought of it as a religious holiday. When I took my kids out trick or treating, I knew I would be warmly welcomed by the people who knew me, and, by the ones who didn’t. I knew that my neighbours came from all walks of life and practiced all sorts of religions. But on Halloween night, we were one big happy community. Of course, there were always a few houses that didn’t …

Christmas A Normal Family

The Annual Christmas Letter – 2009

I’ve been sending out an Annual Christmas Letter since 1984. The first letter was a way of responding to all the notes that were in the Christmas Cards I had received that year. People were summarizing their year with glowing accounts of how successful their career was, how brilliant their children were, and how “Martha Stewart” their lives were. I could have written a similar letter, I suppose, but there is a cost to using that kind of creative license. No, I wanted to talk about my family in the most truthful way I could. And the truth was, we were an average Canadian family, except we moved around a lot. My husband’s job was the catalyst for many of our moves, but sometimes we moved houses just because it seemed like a good idea at the time. We had three kids and a cat who had to adapt to our nomadic circumstances. So, I could have written about my husband and his successful career. But it was much more fun, and instructive, to expose …