Even Charlie Brown Questioned Christmas

Charlie Brown Christmas

Charlie Brown Christmas (Photo credit: Keegan Jones)

“I just don’t understand Christmas. Instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down.” ~ Charlie Brown from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, 1965

Maybe because it is December 13th I am not feeling my usual holly jolly self. Other bloggers are letting their inner Scrooges and Grinches out, so maybe this is my day to let the merriment go on without me. Even Charlie Brown questioned Christmas—we are expected to be happy, but sometimes we are not.

I understand why this is the most merry time of the year, but I also understand that it is not all that merry to some people. I have been one of those people on occasion—two years in a row I lost a parent in December—my mom first and a year later, my dad. That does not make for a holly jolly time. That was over twenty years ago now—and I still feel the pangs – I miss them especially at this time of year because we had some wonderful family Christmases that were not quite the same after they exited this planet Earth.

I have of course come up with some of my own traditions and I will never lose the spirit of Christmas, but some days take their toll, and no matter the season, you have to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The ugly has reared its majestic head this week, and I am busy eradicating it, but it does not go away just because it is the holidays. Just as Charlie Brown had to find the meaning of Christmas, I too must go in search of it today.

There is so much I love about Christmas. But I know that this time of year can be stressful. Even trying to be merry can put a bit of strain on us when reality keeps butting its head in. We have to deal with life even if this is a magical time of year—and in the end, I know that the merriment will win out.

Hope

Hope (Photo credit: bitzcelt)

My Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown (Photo credit: Elizabeth/Table4Five)

Last year I was about to buy a new Christmas tree when I had a conversation with my son who is away at college. That conversation resulted in this offering (slightly edited for you) which I wrote for my weekly newspaper column.  As I get ready to put up the tree this year, I am not even thinking about getting a new tree–the die is cast–and until it falls apart, it will be part and parcel of our Christmas traditions.

The decision has been made. No new Christmas tree this year. I bandied the idea about and even went so far as to look at some of those fancy pre-lit trees. But I talked to my youngest son, Tyler, who is coming home in a couple of weeks from college, and he said no to a new tree. He wanted our traditional, though far past its prime, spindly Christmas tree. I call it our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, as I have to finagle with the branches to get them not to droop, and wedge it back into a corner, forcing all of its branches forward, thus producing a thicker, more (seemingly) luxurious tree.

Now you may be thinking to yourself that if I want a new tree, I should get a new tree, and not necessarily listen to the nostalgic whims of my son. But, I too, had doubts about getting a new tree. And some of the new ones I looked at were really no better than the one I have, once I put my magic spell on it.

I decorate our Christmas tree as if there is no tomorrow. The branches are layered with ornaments we have received over the years. Homemade and store-bought share space on a tree that groans under their weight.  But the stars of the show are all the decorations that both my sons have made over the years, carefully wrapped in tissue until they are brought out  to be placed lovingly on the tree.

Macaroni sprayed gold and arranged in wreath shapes, reindeer made from those old large Christmas light bulbs with antlers shaped out of chenille pipe cleaners, sleighs cleverly fashioned from popsicle sticks, tissue paper stained glass bells and stars, and pinecones with glitter galore will adorn our tree again this year. Of course we have a million other ornaments, each imbued with memories, or just purchased because we liked them. But really, our tree, like yours, is just an excuse to walk down memory lane for a few weeks in the dark bleak midwinter.

In honour of our cat, we don’t put tinsel on our tree, as a choking cat is not a festive thing to see—and as the rest of the members of my family are quite taken with Kitty Bob, I make this exception without much regret. But if that cat does to the tree what he did to the tree last year, one of his lives is going to be threatened. Thankfully a teddy bear took the brunt of his indiscretion and could be thrown in the washing machine, but I was none too happy.

On a more festive note, once I wrestle the lights onto my “old” un-pre-lit tree, the rest is gravy.  At one time I made my husband do this job, as I found it frustrating. Now I just wind the lights around the tree in a “come what may” fashion, and they actually look better than if I do it carefully. I have learned over the years that by dressing the tree with about a thousand ornaments, those obnoxious wires will effectively be hidden from sight.

A Christmas tree, no matter how battered, is the repository of memories past, present, and future. Maybe next year I will get a fancy dancey pre-lit tree that has all its branches, but this year I will be happy with what I have.

(Note: 1. This is next year, and I will not be getting a fancy dancey pre-lit tree. 2. The cat did not do the unspeakable to the tree last year.)

What traditions do you have that cannot be broken?

English: Closeup of a string of decorative Chr...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

~ A Kinder, Gentler Halloween ~

Cover of "Happy Halloween! (Festive Peanu...

Cover of Happy Halloween! (Festive Peanuts)

 I understand that Halloween is going to be limited and rescheduled in some areas. To all those who had to survive the terrible Frankenstorm, my heart goes out to you. The pictures on television show such devastation. I hope some of these quotes and jokes help lighten your day a bit. To everyone else: Happy Halloween! And to those of you caught up in the mess of the storm: Double Happy Halloween!

In light of  my penchant for a non-scary Halloween, I typed in “cheery Halloween quotes” and Googled it. This is what I came up with—a few funny quotes and moan worthy jokes. So if you are like me, and not fond of the dark side—read on. If you do like the dark side, well just consider the following an expansion of your horizons into another kinder, gentler universe:

“I’ll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.” – Unknown Author

“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.” – Linus from ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’

“Charlie Brown is the one person I identify with. C.B. is such a loser. He wasn’t even the star of his own Halloween special.” – Chris Rock

“Nothing on Earth is so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night.” – Steve Almond

“On Halloween, the parents sent their kids out looking like me.” – Rodney Dangerfield

A few jokes the website terms as funny follow—you be the judge:

Q. What do the skeletons say before eating?

A. Bone appetit!

Q. What happens when two vampires meet?

A. It was love at first bite!

Q. What’s a Vampire’s least favourite song?(this is my favourite one)

A. Another one bites the dust!

Q. Why was the mummy so tense?

A. Because he was all wound up.

Q. Why didn’t the skeleton go to see a scary movie?

A. He didn’t have the guts.

Share these with your kids–they will think you are so clever.

Do you have a Halloween joke or two  or funny memory you would like to share?

T ~ is for Turkey Day

Thanksgiving postcard circa 1900 showing a tur...

Thanksgiving postcard circa 1900 showing a turkey and football player. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Turkey Day is a term coined by my youngest son, Tyler, referring of course to Thanksgiving Day—but it really does synthesize what the day means to him. He has used this term for about twelve years now, first utilizing it one Thanksgiving weekend when he was about nine. We decided to go apple picking on this now infamous Thanksgiving Day twelve years ago for a “fun family outing”.  (For those of you who are not Canadian, and from the looks of my stats—that is many of you, Thanksgiving is the second Monday of October in our country.)

For some reason, many Canadians have their Thanksgiving meal on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, which leaves us time to do other things on Thanksgiving Day besides eat leftovers (which in my books is one of the most wonderful meals there is ~ I think I like noshing on Thanksgiving leftovers as much as the original meal.)

So, on this day in the year 2000, we decided to go apple picking, and while we were there we picked up a few pumpkins from the orange grove (just seeing if you are paying attention—of course it was a pumpkin patch, and no we did not see Linus there looking for the Great Pumpkin—it was too early).

Since it was late in the apple season, our wagon ride to the apple trees that still had apples was rather lengthy—and Tyler, in great spirits that day, kept wishing everyone a Happy Turkey Day. This garnered all kinds of interest, which he just ate up. He was a pixyish looking little guy, so he got a lot of waves and smiles with his exuberance.

To this day, he loves turkey—and Thanksgiving is just not Thanksgiving without turkey at our house. Before he grew to realize his love for the big bird, I would serve other meals I was just as thankful for (like prime rib or lamb or ham) and were much easier to contend with. Since he has made this realization, we serve turkey every Thanksgiving.

After lo these many years of thawing turkeys, stuffing turkeys, and complaining about thawing and stuffing turkeys, I have come upon a foolproof  Thanksgiving meal. I get one of those turkeys that come already stuffed and that you can take out of the freezer and stick into your oven with just some minor preparations.  I stumbled upon this solution at the advice of a friend who I think may have been tired of me complaining about the thawing and stuffing of the bird that stars in a proper Thanksgiving meal. And to that end the search for the perfect turkey commences today.

The search  entails buying one of these guys on sale. They are an arm and a leg if not on sale. As we speak, they are purported to be on sale at my local grocery store—so as soon as I get this post done, I shall be hightailing it out of here to get one that is affordable. Last time they were on sale (a couple of weeks ago) they had all been scooped up and only the regular turkeys were there biding their time in the frozen food bins.

I know that some people are suspicious of these already stuffed birds, but I cook mine until there is no mistaking that it is done—and truly the stuffing is delicious and there is a generous amount. And I do not have to thaw the dumb thing. In the past, I have taken turkeys out of my freezer and crowded my fridge for a full seven days and still the thing wasn’t completely thawed out.

Turkey Day is only a couple of weeks away, but I will not be satisfied until I have one nestled in my freezer among the corn and peas, and ready to be taken out just before I have to throw him in the oven (or place him ever so gently, let’s not get violent here.)

O happy day—this is me doing the Snoopy dance—Turkey Day is going to be easy peasy this year and every year hereafter.

Thanksgiving at the Trolls

Time for Ghoulies and Ghosties and Long Legged Beasties

Cover of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie...

Cover of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

 Kingsville is my hometown on Lake Erie near Windsor

“A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the *snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night.”  J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, is the originator of these words which are an eerie prelude to this season of Halloween. Many find the dark quiet and comforting, a respite from the busyness of the “lighted” hours. But at this time of year, we do pause, even for just a moment on Halloween and wonder if the ghoulies and ghosties and unexplained things that go bump in the night are getting restless.

Are there ghosts? I am not prepared to deny their existence. If they are like Casper then all is well, but as for some of his green tinged ghastly cohorts and diaphanous friends the colour of fog, I am not so sure. Kingsville famously has the ghost, George, who resides at Kings Landing. By all accounts, he is mischievous but never hurtful or threatening. From my cursory research, his existence is known only through phantom footsteps and flickering lights as he is shy and has never shown his gossamer self. In other words, George is my kind of ghost.

An online blog called Red Room that I belong to asked us to write our favourite ghost story. I do not have a favourite ghost story—although if I had to choose one, it would be about George—being a hometown boy and all. But I must admit, his penchant for turning taps on and lights off is not an appealing trait.

I have adopted the “cute and fuzzy school of Halloween”; my stance on the scarier side of the celebration is to ignore it. I love the little princesses and frogs that come to my door, the boys and girls dressed as their favourite heroines and heroes—be they caped, crowned, or sparkly. I admire imaginative costumes, even if they are creepy, for after all, even I have to accept and respect that Halloween’s more gory aspects has its admirers, though I am not one, nor will I ever join their fold.

In light of  my penchant for an non-scary Halloween, I typed in “cheery Halloween quotes” and Googled it. This is what I came up with—a few funny quotes and moan worthy jokes. So if you are like me, and not fond of the dark side—read on. If you do like the dark side, well just consider the following an expansion of your horizons into another kinder, gentler universe:

“I’ll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.” – Unknown Author

“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.” – Linus from ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’

“Charlie Brown is the one person I identify with. C.B. is such a loser. He wasn’t even the star of his own Halloween special.” – Chris Rock

“Nothing on Earth is so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night.” – Steve Almond

“On Halloween, the parents sent their kids out looking like me.” – Rodney Dangerfield

A few jokes the website terms as funny follow—you be the judge:

Q. What do the skeletons say before eating? A. Bone appetit!

Q. What happens when two vampires meet? A. It was love at first bite!

Q. What’s a Vampire’s least favourite song? A. Another one bites the dust!

Q. Why was the mummy so tense? A. Because he was all wound up.

Q. Why didn’t the skeleton go to see a scary movie? A. He didn’t have the guts.

If nothing else, you can pass these jokes onto any eight year old you know—they will appreciate them. As for me and Halloween at my house, I may don my witch’s hat (with veils and pretty silky black flowers),  give out some candy, then turn my lights off at 8:00. After all even witches need to get their beauty sleep. (I have purchased my candy a little ahead of time—but bought stuff that does not tempt me—there is nothing worse than candy bars that call to you in the night, except maybe for ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night!)

*If you are wondering, a snib is the catch that holds the bolt on a lock.

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