You Are Invited: New Year’s Party

We’ll Take a Cup of Kindness Yet………….

It is that time of the year again—I am reinstating my New Year’s Blog Party, but this year we are going to be a little more sedate (there will still be table dancing if Robin sees this though).

All you have to do to join the party is Toast the New Year in some fashion or other. It could be with a resolution, a toast, a song, a favourite book, even a recipe for a killer appetizer.

We have become old acquaintances over the years, and with that in mind, and the tune of Auld Lang Syne looping nonstop through our brains, I say “Let’s get this party started!” on the eve before New Year’s Eve and continue on into the new year.

To get you started here is ~

My resolution: to be “the greater fool” as defined in the HBO series “The Newsroom”. According to the character Sloan Sabbith “The greater fool is actually an economic term. It’s a patsy. For the rest of us to profit, we need a greater fool— someone who will buy long and sell short. Most people spend their life trying not to be the greater fool; we toss him the hot potato, we dive for his seat when the music stops. The greater fool is someone with the perfect blend of self-delusion and ego to think that he can succeed where others have failed. This whole country was made by greater fools.”

A song: Anything by James Taylor

My toast: (stolen from Wallace Irwin) “I used to know a clever toast, but pshaw! I cannot think of it—so fill your glass to anything, and bless your souls~ I’ll drink to it.”

My favourite book of the year: “The Temporary Wife” written by Jennifer Klinec. An excellent book by a girl who literally lived just down the road from me.

Killer Appetizer: a round of brie spread with blueberry jam heated in the microwave for less than a minute—served on crackers with a glass of Freixnet or Cooper’s Hawk rose.

I am looking forward to hearing from you……………

Published in: on December 30, 2014 at 5:23 pm  Comments (26)  

In Waiting

As December wanes
We await the brand New Year
Memories intact.

Published in: on December 29, 2014 at 1:24 am  Comments (4)  

Peace On Earth

Published in: on December 25, 2014 at 12:14 pm  Comments (2)  

A Christmas Moment

Christmas Eve silence
Sweet beckoning miracles
Sugarplums dancing

Published in: on December 24, 2014 at 9:53 pm  Comments (15)  

Christmas: a feeling, a smell, a taste; a looking outside yourself

This is my last newspaper column for the year–anyone who made a contribution to my Christmas spirit is thanked with greatefulness (not a spelling mistake)–due to space I had to edit, edit, edit–but hope you enjoy:

“Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.” ~ Edna Ferber

This week, I put out plea on both Facebook and my blog asking for some suggestions to boost my flagging Christmas spirit. I wrote: “I am asking for your help during this season of merriment. I have one more Christmas column to write before the newspaper goes on Christmas vacation for the week between Christmas and New Year’s and I was wondering if you could provide me with a little inspiration. Tell me what makes your Christmas spirit sing–or give me some suggestions on how to give my flagging spirit some renewed energy. Christmas is my favourite time of year–but with all the bad news in the media lately, I need a little boost.”

First—the responses from my blog: Mimi told me that “we are donating to our grown children’s charities of choice this year instead of giving gifts.” She said that what lifted her spirits to great heights was the enthusiasm her boys showed for the idea.

Cindy said that she was interested in seeing the replies to this request as her spirits were a bit low too. Then she rethought her reply and said that “chocolate always raises my spirits.”

My sister, who is a faithful follower of my blog said: “I know this sounds trite in view of the atrocities that have transpired in Pakistan…but doing for others is food for the soul and right now my soul is hungry…..maybe a little chocolate and red wine too.”

Diane said that she suspected that a lot of people needed some spirit-lifting but the thing that worked most effectively for her is “Time and memories and laughs with friends and family.” She also had some sage advice for me: “there is still within (mankind) goodness, kindness and love. It just doesn’t make the news as much….”

Another blogger says that she has been “doing Secret Santa stuff that has given her personally a great deal of satisfaction.” She sends out cash and small gifts anonymously to those in need, and then writes them a note to tell them how they have touched her life.

Lillian is waiting for her whole family to get home to put up the tree. She believes that “The process is as much fun as the final product since looking at all our old, mostly homemade ornaments brings up a lot of memories and conversations.”

Brigitte tells us to remember Linus’s speech from the Charlie Brown Christmas special when he explains what Christmas is all about. His telling of the Christmas story puts it all in perspective: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'”

From my Facebook friends:

Missy believes that Christmas is about acknowledging that there are Christmas miracles; Kim says that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loudly for all to hear and to share that joy with Seniors; Mary and Tina agree with her—Mary going on to say that we should “Forget ourselves and bring cheer to others.”

Bob says that Christmas is made merrier for him by doing Christmas bird counts. He says that for him it is “a tradition as much a part of the season as Christmas carols, Santa Claus, and turkey dinner.” (I am assuming here that Bob is not counting turkeys.)

My niece Chay advises “Find some little kids to hang around with–that will put anyone in the spirit”. Her spirit is also lifted by “going to a pub while the snow is falling and drinking your favourite beer with your better half while Christmas music plays and you know the last of your Christmas shopping is done!”

My Christmas spirit was lifted as much by those who took the time to respond as what their responses were. This is a magical time of the year—when miracles come to the fore, when the sounds and tastes and smells of Christmas remind us of the wonder that we celebrate.

Here is wishing you a very Merry Christmas and the hope that your grandmother will not be run over by a reindeer spooked by carolling (howling) dogs singing “Jingle Bells.”

Published in: on December 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm  Comments (16)  

Need Some Christmas Spirit

I am asking for your help during this season of merriment. I have one more Christmas column to write before the newspaper goes on Christmas vacation for the week between Christmas and New Year’s and I was wondering if you could provide me with a little inspiration.

Tell me what makes your Christmas spirit sing–or give me some suggestions on how to give my flagging spirit some renewed energy.

Christmas is my favourite time of year–but with all the bad news in the media lately, I need a little boost.

And while you are at it–tell me what you will be eating on Christmas Day–I could use some easy suggestions–and if you want to throw in a recipe that would be wonderful.

Thanks so much–you always come through for me–so I am looking forward to your comments!

Published in: on December 17, 2014 at 4:34 pm  Comments (31)  
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Put Another Log on the Fire

My newspaper column for this week:

Ten days before Christmas. By the time you read this, the timeline will have shifted. Sounds ominous doesn’t it? Remember when we were kids and ten days was a lifetime, and Christmas seemed to take its jolly time to get here? I read an explanation the other day about why as we get older things seem to move faster—something about events no longer being new to us so we experience them at a faster pace. I am sure that explanation makes sense to someone somewhere, but it did not really resonate with me.

I do find that different things have become more important to me over the years. Things I would have glossed over or not paid any particular attention to when I was younger. As I get older, I may not get wiser, but I do find myself being more reflective and more thankful for the present. Sound like I have taken one too many bites from Oprah’s gingerbread, or delved too deeply into Deepak Chopra’s philosophy, or heaven forbid, taken a page out of Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now? (I find all of his books to be dense, or maybe I am the one who is dense.)

Over the weekend I was lucky enough to attend two small parties—one with my Writers’ Group, and another with some friends whom I have known since high school. The warmth of being surrounded by good friends (with good food in our bellies topped up with a little wine) was wonderful, but the loveliness of the moments spent with friends was brought to the fore even more vividly by a suggestion I read this morning in my search for a topic for this column. I turned to a book that my husband gave me over a decade ago called “The Little Book of Christmas Joys” and recognized in number 303 a truth that had been borne out by my experience over the weekend.

My little book of joys suggested in number 303 that “When you have friends over and there’s Christmas magic in the air, don’t let the evening end early. Throw another log on the fire.” In both instances, the hosts of the evening “threw another log on the fire”, if not literally, then figuratively. I stayed up long past my bedtime listening to shared stories and taking part in something that needed no screen, either computer or television or phone, to keep me entertained. The art of conversation and conviviality is not lost—and the closeness of friendship shared is one of the most potent elements in the magic of Christmas.

On Saturday I was fortunate to share some tea with a couple of friends at Tim Horton’s. The coffee shop was filled to the brim as it so often is. Our peals of laughter brought us to the attention of other patrons, who I am sure wondered if we had brought a flask to spice up our hot drinks. We had not—we were just enjoying being in each other’s presence. We joked, occasionally elbow jostled, and left on a higher note than the one we had come in on.

Life is full of these moments. My dream for Christmas Day is that I be surrounded by family and friends and that the warmth of the day envelope us all. But I have learned to appreciate the random moments when my family is just sitting around watching a movie, or sharing a meal and laughing together. Or those moments when you realize that the friends that surround you are the most important thing—and that sharing our lives together is what life is all about.

I have used the word “share” many times throughout this column—and though I could have called on my thesaurus to find a few derivatives of the word I did not—as there is no greater word than share. We share our lives and we are richer; we share our food and drink and we are sustained; we share our laughter and we reach that ultimate goal: happiness.

This Christmas season I am counting my blessings. And the blessing that wins out over everything else is the people in my life. They help me keep what little is left of my sanity; they bring joy to my life; they are the magic of Christmas.

Am I getting sloppily sentimental? Perhaps. But is there a better time of year to realize that sloppy sentimentality? I think not. So put another log on the fire, even if you do not have a fireplace.

What is one of your Christmas blessings?

Published in: on December 16, 2014 at 12:47 am  Comments (23)  
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I don’t know. I passed through it once, but I’ve never really been there.

thisi is so powerful!

Live & Learn

Important to stick with this short film until the finish…

onism – n. the frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time, which is like standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die-and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.

Full Transcript below…

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Published in: on December 9, 2014 at 11:10 am  Leave a Comment  

You Are What You Eat

This week’s column is a longer rendition of my last post (with some changes)–so if you read it–skip on to half way through–

I am feeling a bit uneasy and cannibalistic discussing this but did you know that how you eat gingerbread boy tells a lot about you? There are so many ways we can self-analyze ourselves, but I found this one particularly entertaining and seasonally on target. How often do we get to analyze our holiday selves?

Apparently if you eat the head of your gingerbread boy first, says Dr. Alan Hirsch, you are a natural born leader. I always eat the head first. For some reason it just makes sense to me. As for the natural born leader stuff, well, maybe—because I am not a very good follower. Just ask any man with whom I have ever slow danced.

Dr. Hirsch is the neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. One would think he had better things to do than analyze how we eat our gingerbread—but apparently not. Personally I think he may have just made up this seasonal anecdote, but I am a bit sceptical by nature (except of course when it comes to Santa Claus whom I wholeheartedly believe in, but that is another column). If his analysis is true, then I wish that I ate the left arm of my gingerbread boy/girl first because that would mean that I am creative. So I may just start rethinking the way I eat my gingerbread.

I am going to stay away from the right arm altogether. Eating it first according to the good doctor means you are pessimistic. I do not need any more pessimism in my life, so if you see a trail of gingerbread right arms anywhere, you will know I have been there, and rejected the right arms for fear that their pessimism will rub off on me. Eating the legs is a whole different ball game though. If you prefer to start at the extremities, it means you are sensitive. I do not start with the legs, but my husband often says I have “delicate sensibilities” which translated means of course that I am a pain in the neck, so it is somewhat surprising that I do not eat the legs first given my propensities.

The article from which I gleaned these fascinating facts was written by an unknown editor in the December Food Network magazine. It was accompanied by a picture of a gingerbread boy with his mouth likened to the famous “Scream” painting, and there was a bite out of his head. A little unsettling to say the least—maybe I will forego eating any gingerbread boys this season.

Now, I am sure we could extend this type of self-analyzation a bit further. What does it mean if you love Christmas fruitcake? If you listen to all the negative chatter about the luscious cakes you might be tempted to buy into the negativity about them. But not me. I love fruitcake and though I am not sure what that may mean, I think that it can only be good. Perhaps I am a non-conformist. Perhaps I am nostalgic—because my mom always made fruitcake at Christmas. Or, and this could quite possibly the case—I am a bit of a fruitcake myself.

I have many favourite Christmas foods that could be dissected successfully for personality traits. Take turkey stuffing: ostensibly (yes, I used the thesaurus to find this word—having used apparently already a couple of times) you are a risk-taker if you stuff your turkey as (some) experts advise you to cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole to avoid any chance of food poisoning. A culinary note for you: once stuffing is cooked outside the turkey, it is no longer stuffing, but dressing—this is an important distinction among foodies.

My favourite holiday cookie is one that even I dare to make—it is so good that the trouble of actually making it from scratch is worth it. It is the raspberry thumbprint cookie. It too can be analyzed—and I am afraid that the jury would name me as a glutton as I have been known to shove the whole cookie in my mouth at once (I tend to make them on the smaller size so this can be done without danger of choking). Slovenly though my method may be, it is gastronomical nirvana.

I am not sure that how I eat my food really is a window into my soul, but I do know that I enjoy all the Christmas delights the holiday has to offer, and whether that makes me a leader or slovenly is up for debate.

Published in: on December 9, 2014 at 10:29 am  Comments (18)  
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Published in: on December 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm  Comments (6)