What do you think?

Once upon a time I contributed to the blog world everyday. Everyday. Now it is generally about once a week and I have lost a lot of “followers”. I regret this. I so enjoyed participating and made a lot of new friends–not just friends in the ether world–but a lot of true friends.

I held a New Year’s Eve/Day party on my blog a couple of years in a row and they were quite successful. A lot of people came with their canapes and resolutions in haiku form and dressed (I am assuming) to the nines. Some of you provided entertainment and recipes. It was a lot of fun.

Is there any interest in having a blog party this year? Let me know….and I will organize it if enough of you are interested.

Enjoy the rest of your time between Christmas and New Year’s. Hoping to hear from you…

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Published in: on December 28, 2016 at 6:53 pm  Comments (15)  

No More Tree Shaming

Don’t hate me because I put up an artificial tree…my weekly column for your reading pleasure?

 

 

“O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me…”
There are so many divides in this world that I would like to close the deep chasm on at least one. You do not have a better Christmas soul if you put up a real tree. Perhaps I am a bit defensive here since I have been decorating the same “fake” tree for years. In fact, it has been so many years it now resembles a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree, with missing branches and the rest twisted towards the front to make it appear fuller. I place it in a corner, so no one is the wiser (until, of course, I reveal my secret in this column.) I transform my “Charlie Brown tree” into a fully dressed, dripping with decorations, stuffed with thick ribbon, proud lady crowned with a gold wicker star. The star wears a sign that announces to one and all that “Memories Are Made Every Christmas.”

I have thought about getting a new tree festooned with lights so I do not have to drape the tree with lights myself, but I have now abandoned white sparklies for several strings of colourful lights that look like candy drops, and are easy to string on the tree. They look festive and for some reason I am no longer anal about whether or not the wires show.

This year I probably only put up a quarter of my Christmas decorations—which you would think would mean my Christmas spirit was lacking and the décor scant. But no, I just have a lot of decorations. And I must admit I am planning a bit ahead. What goes up must come down. When I finally take the decorations down in March (just kidding) the job will not be overwhelming. (I must add here that because I put up a fake tree, I do have the option of taking the tree down in March. Just sayin….)

Do not get me wrong. I love real trees—and am happy that our local prices are not anywhere near what New Yorkers are having to pay. I am sure we have all heard of the $1000 specialty trees, but at $85.00 a foot for a normal tree, even a more modest tree takes a bite from the Christmas budget. My fake tree is looking better and better in comparison.

I read an article in the Windsor Star by The Washington Post’s Jura Koncius, who has, as a design writer in years past, “been a traditionalist, making clear my disdain (for anything) artificial”.  She chastised (her) colleagues” by calling their “pre-lit, remote-controlled trees tacky.” She admitted that in 1999 she wrote an article “shaming people who had fake trees.” She is now ashamed of herself, as she has taken the plunge and joined the “other side”. She has gone “fake” for several reasons—and saving her marriage was the first one (her husband had apparently better things to do than spend two days of his life on strings of lights that never seemed to work.)

She also said that they succumbed to buying a fake tree because they did not want tree branch scratch marks on their newly painted walls, sap stains on their rug, or watermarks on the hardwood floor from watering the tree daily. While she still claims that the “real thing is worth it” she admits that “real life gets in the way”. She said that when her brother-in-law found out that they were getting a tree in a box from Home Depot, he asked “What would Martha Stewart say?” Her husband’s retort was priceless. He said. “She’d love the idea. We bought one of her trees.”

I am not here to start a “tree war”. Just because I find a fake tree meets my needs and that of my family, I am not trying to change your mind if you are a dyed in the wool “real” tree or nothing aficionado. All I am asking is for some respect. I respect your choice if is different from mine. In fact, I love the smell of a fresh tree—just not the mess (finding stray needles in July), the work: cutting off the end of the trunk so a fresh base will absorb more water; watering daily; dragging it out for recycling; and last but not least—you cannot keep it up for four months. I am proof positive that “fake” trees never die.

It seems to have become a ritual in my little clan to take our bedraggled Christmas tree out of its duct-taped ramshackle box each year and transform it into a thing of beauty (at least in our eyes). Inexplicably my family is devoted to this well-worn tree. It is our fractured tradition. And I guess, as the aforementioned Martha Stewart is reputed to say: “That is a good thing.”

 

 

Published in: on December 13, 2016 at 1:39 pm  Comments (6)  

Chestnuts Roasting, Jingle Bells Jingling

 

In an effort to expand my ever-narrowing horizons I picked up a music CD by George Strait called “The Best of George Strait-The Christmas Collection.” I have never been much for the country music scene even though its popularity, unlike my horizons, seem to be expanding.

I picked the CD up on the random advice of an older woman who was alongside me looking at a number of Christmas CDs at Walmart. I was really just looking with no real intention of buying but she regaled me with the wonderfulness of this CD. Now she was obviously a country music fan as she also described for me a number of other country star’s music, but she also told me she really liked Bing and others of his elk. I like Bing and his cohorts too, so I thought I would take a chance on George Strait.

Now, I am aware of George Strait so he must be kind of well known, but I really picked up his CD because I did not want to hurt her feelings, as she seemed so positive that I would like it. (I tend to avoid yard sales, going to the market alone, and other smaller venues where things are sold, as I always feel like I should buy something so I do not hurt the vendor’s feelings—I do not have the same feeling in big box stores, groceries stores or stores like Sears). Besides, it was only five dollars—probably due to the fact that it originally came out in 2003.

So, I just put it on and my first thoughts are of Gene Autry, one of my dad’s favourites—and something I was introduced to as a youngster (and have sort of rejected for lo these many decades.) I am getting the feeling that George Strait is of the “old school country” and not the flashy, sequined, new country which is awfully close to rock and roll. So far, he is homey, bringing back Christmas memories of my long-ago youth.

I really like his ballad “Old Time Christmas”—he just sang “the magic never melts away” and being a long-time champion of Christmas I could not agree more. I give credit to my parents, particularly my mom for creating unforgettable Christmases and my eternal fondness for this time of year, though it is a much different celebration for an adult than a child. I find that I am now the creator of Christmas good (and hopefully not too many bad) times and no longer just the recipient of good cheer. A heavy mantle to carry, but I (mostly) enjoy it.

Now he is singing “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”, and his rendition is beautiful. Admittedly this is one of my favorite songs, but he is up to the task. It takes well to “countryfying”. I love snow but in context. In the context that it does not make the roads slippery. I love how it transforms the bleak winter landscape, blanketing everything in white.

“Jingle Bell Rock” is the next song. Not one of my favourite—must bring back unpleasant memories–though I cannot conjure them now. It is just a feeling…. Next up is “All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth). I remember the days when I was wishing for my front teeth—losing my baby teeth was an inexplicably traumatic time for me, so no good memories there. Strange that I can still remember that.

The next tune is unfamiliar. Called “Merry Christmas (Wherever You Are)”, it is kind of sad. But I like the subsequent one on the CD. It is called “Noel Leon” and is about a fellow named Leon who leaves his Christmas lights up all year, with a flashing Noel sign, making it “feel like Christmas all year long.” It is a story song—really quite lovely. And my description of it is sorely lacking—it is a must hear.

The eternally festive song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is properly upbeat—a well-worn song that may have been played one too many times. Not like the last song—which is my favourite of all time. Called “The Christmas Song”—I envision chestnuts roasting on an open fire with such fond nostalgia. Which is strange, since I have never experienced first hand chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

So, do I like the CD? Yes. Do I like George Strait? Yes. Am I a country music fan now? Sort of. And I would like to thank the lady who recommended him in the music aisle at Walmart. Five dollars well-spent. George is now joining my Christmas repertoire of James Taylor, Michael Buble, Carole King, Bing Crosby, Sting, and Nat King Cole (who sings my favourite rendition of “The Christmas Song” ever).

What is your favourite Christmas tune, song, CD, or carol?

Published in: on December 6, 2016 at 2:15 pm  Comments (5)