Christmas 2021 Recap

Another Christmas has come and gone. I hope that you had a Christmas full of wonderful memories! This Christmas was full of a lot of joy for us, but there were some things that left me sad. I will attempt to recap and keep it as happy as possible. Many of my Facebook friends have already seen these pictures, but that’s ok.

Thursday, December 23

After working the night before, I slept for a couple hours and went and picked up my son. His brother was working that night and was coming up after work so we could celebrate Christmas Eve Morning together.

My dad and Rose came over that afternoon. Neither had met AJ yet, so it was extra special to have them here. When then walked in, Ella ran to them SO excited. She was so happy to see them. She loves them both so much!!

There is something that is so amazing to me to see my dad hold his grandchildren. There is a special light in his eyes. There are almost tears. It is so special. He always kisses them gently on the head and talks to them.

Dad and AJ

Ella was all about Grandma Rose that night! Grandma made her a Mickey and Minnie blanket, which she just loves. One of my favorite pictures from that day is the two of them snuggled up on the chair with her blanket.

Ella and Grandma Rose

My Dad, being the silly guy that he is, heard Ella saying some of the alphabet. He immediately thought of “Violent is the Word for Curly,” the Three Stooges short which features the “Swingin’ the Alphabet” song.

B A Bay, B E Bee, B I Bicky By …

So Dad had to sing it to her …

Dad’s chart was a bit off….

I was glad to get the chance to visit with them, and I am glad that three of his four grandchildren were there for him to see. Papa and Rose were very good to all my kids!

Dad and me – wish the lighting had been a bit better

Dad and Rose left around 7, and Dante’ called about 8 to say he’d gotten off work and was on his way. I was exhausted and was actually on my way to bed when he called. He asked me to stay awake, so I did. He came in and gave he the biggest hug. We had some leftover pizza, so I told him to dig in and not stay up too late!

As I crawled in bed, my heart was full.

Christmas Eve

I’m sure the day is coming when the kids will be up at like 4am to open presents! We were blessed that they didn’t wake up until after 8am! I had to laugh, though, because ever since we put the tree up, there has been a gate around it. It served two purposes. First, it kept that cat out of the tree and second, it kept Ella from pulling on the ornaments and the lights.

When she woke up and came out the the living room, she walked over the the tree and saw all the presents under the tree – and no gate. She literally just stood there – not really sure what to make of things.

Ella – perplexed

After a few minutes, Sam said it was time to go in and wake up the boys. They were already going to be leaving earlier than I thought (so Dante’ didn’t have to drive in the dark), so we wanted to get things going. We told Ella to go in and wake them up.

She ran into their room yelling, “Wake up, Bruh! Wake up, Bruh!” It was quite funny to watch my older boys stir in bed … all they wanted to do was stay asleep. Dante’ asked to sleep for another 30 minutes. I told him, “You’re sister isn’t going to wait 30 minutes and wants to open presents!” Against their wishes, they crawled out of bed and joined us in the living room.

Last year, we had to help Ella open her gifts. She wasn’t quite where she understood how to do it yet. This year, however, she was able to jump right in and rip open her gifts!

Ella – wearing the very cute PJ’s that Sam’s dad got for her

It’s neat to see how the various kids react to Christmas now. Dante is 19, so he’s very laid back. Dimitri is 14 and it depends on what he’s opening as to how excited or how much emotion he shows. Ella, she’s excited for everything. Andrew has no clue as to what is happening.

The boys

The boys are SO hard to buy for. They never seem to have any real ideas for me. Dante’ is kind of at the “gift card/money” stage. He’s happy with those. Dimitri really liked this golf game I had for the Xbox, so I made sure to get it for him to play at home.

Par for the course …

Ella, being the helpful big sister, helped open up AJ’s presents.

AJ watching sissy open gifts for him

Of course, I had to put together Ella’s basketball hoop, so she could slam dunk a few before dinner.

Two points!

After a hearty breakfast, the boys went into their room and played games for a while. Knowing that they were going to be leaving early, I made sure that dinner was done early. Keeping with my family tradition, I made ravioli with my homemade sauce. I made sure to send a jar home with the boys, as Dante’ loves it.

Personal note: I used a bit too much wine this time. I felt that it was sweeter than normal.

About 3, the boys had to leave to go home to their mom. Ella was napping when they left. When she woke up, I picked her up out of her crib and as we passed the boy’s room, she said “Bruh”? “Bruh”? It ripped my heart out. All she wanted to do was see her brothers! Sadly, I don’t think they really know how much she loves them and how important they are to her. This was the saddest moment of the entire weekend for me.

A Christmas Eve tradition for Sam and I has always been to do the Drive Through Holiday Lights display at Crossroads Village. For $10 a car, you get to drive through and see the many Christmas lights that they have on display. When the kids are older, we plan on going and doing the Christmas train ride, which is truly amazing, but for now, we just drove through.

When we arrived, we got Ella out of her car seat and let her sit on Sam’s lap as we drove through. She was so excited. As we got close to the lights, she’s yell, “Here we go, Mommy! Here we go, Daddy!” It was so cute. Sam made the comment that she loves seeing things through Ella’s eyes. This is so true! We’ve been through there every year, but this year was so much more exciting because of Ella!

Sleigh ride!

We thought about driving downtown Flint, which has some great lights, too. We decided against it, as it was getting late and the kids were tired. We went through out bedtime routine and got the kids to bed just in time for me to play Santa. I had a few things to put together so that they were ready for they kids when they woke up Christmas morning.

Christmas Day 2021

Sam wanted to be in the living room so she could record Ella seeing her presents, so I got her out of bed and asked Sam if she was ready. She said she was, so I sent Ella running into the living room. The video is priceless. The smile on her face is something I will never forget. We got her one of those Little People Jungle Rainforest things. It came with animals and makes noises and everything. It is HUGE and takes up a good part of the living room.

Here’s the monkey!

AJ’s Santa gift was a very cool floor chair. It allows him to sit up while on the floor and it’s a lot better than those Bumpo seats.

Sitting pretty

I love that both kids had “Santa” jammies for Christmas morning. Sam and I actually got matching PJ bottoms to wear that morning, too. AJ was wide awake and just taking in all the sights. I love this picture of him and Sam. What I love about it is that just above Sam’s right shoulder is a picture of Ella on her lap and in this picture AJ is on her lap.

One of Ella’s favorite gifts was a Leap Frog Tea Party set. The pot talks and it came with cups and cake.

Must be good tea!

I joked many times about having tea parties with my daughter. I am excited to say that we’ve had our first already and I am looking forward to the next one!

Yummy!!

It was daddy’s turn to help AJ open gifts. So I grabbed his stuff and we opened them up. I was as surprised as he was! LOL. Sam got him a very cool “Floor time” pillow with lights, sounds, and more.

Wow!! What’s this, daddy?

It made him like floor time a lot more….

Mesmerized

Before we all showered and got dressed to visit Sam’s folks, we attempted to take a family selfie. We have a camera that I could have set up with a timer and all, but with my cell phone, I could snap 5-6 pictures in the time it would take to get one on the camera. Good thing we went with the cell phone – because it only took us about 57 tries before we finally got this one.

Merry Christmas!

Since it was AJ’s first Christmas, we had to be sure to get a picture with him in his “First Christmas” outfit. Sam came up with the silly saying on the board and it made me chuckle!

Got him smiling and everything!

After the kids napped, we went to Sam’s folks for Christmas dinner. Sam’s mom put out an amazing spread with turkey, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and so much more. I’m not sure why we didn’t get any pictures while we were there, and I am sad that we didn’t. We are so grateful for them and enjoyed family time together.

After we got home and got the kids in bed, Sam and I crawled into bed. Before I drifted off to sleep, I thought back over the many memories that were made and thanked God for the many blessings that He has given me. I am truly a lucky man.

December 26

Having the Christmas tree up was driving Sam crazy. Not because it was up, but because we literally had to move Ella’s toys out of that corner of the room. All of her toys were moved in front of the fireplace and it just seemed like we were always tripping over them. Long before Christmas, it was clear that on the 26th, the tree was coming down!

I spent the morning taking down ornaments, unstringing Christmas lights, folding up stockings, and putting them all downstairs until next year. Before I finished, there was one picture we had meant to get of Ella that we hadn’t gotten. So I hurried out to the garage and got the props ready before Ella and I walked the neighborhood. Here is the picture we had hoped to get earlier in the season ….

Hauling her Christmas tree

It’s back to work tonight for me, at least for a couple days. Looking back over this holiday weekend makes me smile. There are so many wonderful memories forever saved in snapshots that I will look back on often. Life is good. I am blessed.

Craving Christmas Cookies

I posted a quick Facebook status about this earlier today. I was surprised to see that it is something I have not blogged about.

Today, for whatever reason, I was thinking about one of the cookies that grandma used to make each Christmas. Among the many types of cookies she made were chocolate chip, oatmeal raising, sugar cookies, icebox cookies and the ones pictured about – pizzelles.

I am unsure if this was an Italian Christmas tradition or what, but she always made them for us around the holidays. In some Italian bakeries, and even at some grocery stores, you can find packages of pizzelles, but to me, they lack the “homemade” taste. I can tell these are mass produced and they just aren’t the same.

I believe I have grandma’s recipe at home for these. If not, my brother has it with her pizzelle maker. The pizzelle maker is literally an electric waffle iron, but for cookies.

I’m sure that my grandma’s maker is probably 30-40 years old, easily! If memory serves me right, the recipe was on the box, or maybe in the instructions. I did a brief search online before writing this blog and remember that some recipes were made with Anise extract, while others were made with vanilla extract. It has been so long since I had my grandma’s that I can’t recall what she used. She may have even used both.

I may have to eventually spend the $40-$50 and buy a pizzelle maker one day. This weekend I am going to pull out the recipe cards and see if I still have her recipe. Some of my friends on Facebook (and who are Italian) mentioned that they have their family recipes, so I may have to “borrow” one of theirs….

Here is one I found online:

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 8 tablespoons margarine, melted and slightly cooled
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons Anise extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Instructions

  • Cream the butter, margarine and sugar together. Add the eggs and Anise and beat until the mixture is creamy.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into the batter and mix until blended. If the batter is too thick you can add a tablespoons of water, or a little flour if it’s too thin.
  • Bake the Pizzelles according to the manufactures directions. Store in an airtight container.

MANGIA!!!!

Inspired by Blogmas

A few blogs that I follow, started to talk about “Blogmas” a week or so ago. From what I can tell it is a list of 25-31 Blog post ideas. Sort of a daily writing prompt that are all Christmas related. I did a search for “Blogmas” and read through a few of them. The list seems to vary a bit, but mostly contains the same prompts. The idea is to blog about each of these prompts daily. Some of the lists stop at 25 (Christmas Day) and some end at day 31 (New Year’s Eve).

The ones I read yesterday were under the title “Christmas Tag.” In essence, you answer the 20 questions and then tag a blogger to answer the same. I won’t tag anyone at the end of this blog, since I am technically not officially committed to “Blogmas,” but I liked some of the questions on the list and thought they would make for good reading (even though I may have answered a question or two in more detail in past blogs). So here goes:

  1. When do you start getting excited for Christmas? I would say that I probably start getting in the Christmas mood right after Halloween. Many radio stations begin playing Christmas music then. I could listen to Christmas music any time of the year, but hearing it on the radio starts to get me excited for the season.
  2. Is Christmas your favorite holiday? I would say yes. I have so many wonderful memories of past Christmases. I love that people’s attitudes tend to be happier during the Christmas season. There just seems to be a lot more joy around Christmas.
  3. Do you prefer to stay at home or travel for the holidays? I guess I prefer to stay home – or close to home – for the holidays. When I read the question, travel seems to insinuate going out of state or a lengthy trip. Most of my family is within a 60-90 minute drive, so that really doesn’t seem like travel to me.
  4. Be honest: do you prefer giving or receiving gifts? Definitely giving. I love to see the look on a person’s face when they receive a gift from me. I wouldn’t consider myself the best gift giver (trying to buy anything for my wife is SO difficult). I like to have some sort of idea of what a person wants before I shop for them. As far as receiving gifts – I never really feel comfortable when someone buys me something.
  5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve? I have every year since I was a kid. We always went to my grandma’s house for Christmas Eve and opened all our gifts. During my first marriage, we always let my sons open one gift on Christmas Eve (usually Christmas pajamas). Today, my sons come over the day before Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve morning is our “Christmas.” They spend Christmas morning with their mom. My daughter and my son will have some gifts to open Christmas Eve morning with their brothers and then more for Christmas morning.
  6. Have you ever built a snowman? Yes. Quite a few actually. I remember loving when the snow was “good packing” and you could build snowmen and snow forts. Just recently, my daughter and I started a snowman, but she was so excited to play in the snow, he was never finished. Can’t wait for our next opportunity to build one.
  7. Do you decorate the outside of your home for Christmas? Yes. Usually the front and side porches. It is by no means the best on the block, but I’m happy with it. One day I hope to be courageous enough to climb up on the roof and do more. For now, I’m happy with it.
  8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake? Fake. In all my years, we’ve never had a real tree. I enjoy them when they are at someone else’s house, though. I enjoy the smell of the pine tree. I am not sure that if we ever got a real tree that I’d be comfortable with it. You know, fire hazzards, bugs or animals possibly still being in them, the fact that you have to water it each day, and stepping on pine needles for months after….
  9. Most memorable holiday moment? How does one even begin to answer this question?! I have so many from childhood, and now even more with each of my children. I just couldn’t narrow it down to one.
  10. What do you like to do over Christmas break? What break?! I have a couple days off and work the rest of the days in between. I wish that I could stockpile vacation time up so I could actually take more time off during the holidays so I could spend it with family.
  11. Which holiday traditions are you most looking forward to this year? One thing that I have come to really look forward to is driving through the Holiday lights display at Crossroads Village on Christmas Eve night. It doesn’t change too much every year, but I always love going through and seeing the lights.
  12. Best Christmas gift you’ve ever received? Urgh – again, very difficult to chose one. Maybe it was the Atari 2600. It also could be the cribbage board my grandpa gave me. Or it could be the gold trumpet charm from my mom. Stretch Armstrong? I just can’t narrow it down.
  13. What is your all-time favorite holiday treat? Toss up between Pignolata (loved when my grandma made this!) or cannoli. Both were staples at Christmas time (along with many many Christmas cookies).
  14. Your favorite Christmas movie? I would say A Christmas Story or any version of A Christmas Carol. (Christmas Vacation could easily be in there, too!)
  15. Your favorite Christmas song? Man, all of these “favorite” questions are just to difficult! Dean Martin’s Marshmallow World is a definite favorite! Santa Claus is Back in Town from Elvis, Mel Torme’ The Christmas Song, Doc Severinsen’s Jingle Bells, the list goes on and on!
  16. What makes the holidays special for you? Family! Spending time with my family is all that matters! Sharing those special moments with them is everything!
  17. What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season? I’ve never really been away for the holidays, but I know some places go all out. Disney, Branson, and so many other places really have some amazing things going on. Maybe one day we’ll be able to check them out.
  18. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you stick to them? I used to. I don’t really any more. I shouldn’t need a new year to want to make changes in my life. For many years, I would make them and would fail miserably at them.
  19. You have been granted one Christmas wish, what will it be? I would wish to make a difference. Included in the wish, I would wish to be a role model for my children, a good friend, a good husband, and a man whose faith helped lead others to the Lord.
  20. Who’s “it?” At this point on the list you are supposed to pick someone to answer the same questions. If you are so inclined, you may do so. If not, I hope you enjoyed my answers.

Christmas “Recycling” Project

It’s hard to believe that next month, this blog will celebrate it’s fourth “birthday!” As we enter the month of December, I am filled with nostalgia. My thoughts turn to Christmas and the many wonderful memories I have of past December days. In over 500 blogs, the subject of Christmas has come up more than once.

When I worked in radio, I had folders where I stashed bits and jokes that I could recycle or reuse the following year. In a sense, that is what I am doing with this blog. Recently, I have received many new followers who may have missed these the first time they were published. So here is a “Best of” blog with links to some of my favorite Christmas themed blogs.

A Christmas Carol

Scrooge and Mrs. Kellogg

Christmas Character Rankings

Who sits at the top of my list of Favorite Holiday Special Characters? He’s a chilly guy …

Channel Changing Holiday Songs

This list is still pretty accurate a few years later …

A Letter to Old St. Nick

One of my most powerful blogs. I still am moved by what I wrote.

Christmas Eve at Grandma’s

I have SO many wonderful memories of Christmas Eve! I miss my grandparents so much!

Christmas Tree in Pictures

In looking through pictures, there are so many with trees from over the years …

The Miser Brothers!

One of the blogs I wrote that always gets a lot of views this time of year is one I wrote on my favorite Christmas special…

A Major Award!

For the same blog-a-thon I wrote about Ralphie and his old man!

Holiday Alphabet

This blog would be a little different if I wrote it today …

Holiday Rodents

Everyone knows the ONE Chipmunk song they always play, but I feature a different one here…

Last Christmas was a First Christmas

Last year’s Christmas memories. Ella’s first Christmas!

Some blogger friends are participating in “Blogmas” which features a different Christmas themed blog daily all month long. I’m not sure I could do that, but it was heartwarming for me to go back and reread these and I hope you enjoy them, too!

Gearing Up For The Holidays

I feel like I haven’t really blogged about “life” lately. I kinda feel like I haven’t really even had a minute to sit down and write. Between wacky schedules at work and an even wackier sleep schedule, writing has been a challenge. So here are some highlights from the past couple weeks….

Right after Halloween, Sirius XM radio launched a bunch of their holiday channels and the Christmas music was readily available.

I took advantage of a rare 60 degree November day and put up the outside Christmas lights. I know, I know, people think I am rushing the season. The truth is, I don’t like putting them up in the cold. They have been up for a couple weeks now, and the only time I have turned them on is to make sure they looked ok.

The side porch takes the most lights. I always check the strands before stringing them up to make sure they work. For some reason, one of the strands had a cluster of lights in the middle that didn’t light up. Both ends lit up, but not the ones in the middle. I went through and tested bulbs, but couldn’t find the problem. So I put them up anyway! I just made sure the unlit portion of the lights was covered by lights I knew worked!

We don’t do much to the front porch, though I’d like to. I got razzed about how I didn’t get up and string lights on the roof by some friends. I’ve never been a fan of heights, so, these are the highest my lights will go. Besides, I only have a three step ladder!

Baby Milestone

AJ celebrated being one month old a week or so ago. It is amazing to come home from work and see just how different he looks to me after only one day! He is much more alert and his sister just loves him! He is starting to take notice of a lot of things around him. Recently he discovered the mobile on his swing.

Holiday Tradition

Every year, we take a trip up the Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth (“The World’s Largest Christmas Store”) and get an ornament for the Christmas tree that represents a big event from the past year. Sam and I have one for our engagement, our first Christmas as husband and wife, when Sam was pregnant with Ella, Ella’s first Christmas, and now we needed to go and get one for AJ’s first Christmas.

Obviously, life at our house is pretty crazy with two little ones. We had planned to all go to Bronner’s as a family day trip. AJ was napping and Sam suggested that Ella and I go, since we knew exactly what we wanted. There is an ornament that is exactly like Ella’s except it is blue for a baby boy.

Finding the ornament took all of 5 minutes. The line to get it personalized was long and we stood in line for almost 30 minutes (Thank goodness I had the PBS app on my phone, so Ella didn’t lose her mind waiting!). I had pictures of Ella’s ornament and how they did hers, and we wanted AJ’s to be done the same way. Ella and I walked around a little bit while they worked on the ornament. There are plenty of photo ops throughout the store and outside.

It was close to lunch time, so we snapped a couple pictures, picked up the ornament, and drove home. I hope to be able to take a drive up there one night when the lights are all lit up and grab a couple pictures.

Later that day, I took advantage of nap time and brought the tree up from downstairs. We’ve been trying to decide where to put it this year. We’ve moved everything around in our living room two or three times due to the addition of Ella toys or furniture, so it was unclear where it would go. There is a little nook in our living room where we had moved a lot of her toys, easel, toybox, etc…. We decided to find somewhere else for those things and that the tree should go there.

So, the tree is up and the lights are on it. However, we will decorate it this weekend or next weekend. I did have some help with the lights as I put it up …

…and, of course, little brother had to get into the act …

I’m excited for the holidays this year. Ella is at the perfect age for unwrapping presents! It is going to be a fun holiday season ….

Covid Christmas Memories

I think you would agree that Christmas was a lot different this year!  In a way, it was sad because it was Ella’s first Christmas and it should have been spent visiting grandparents and family.  Thank goodness for video chats!

My dad met me at my work the Monday before Christmas and brought all the gifts for the kids.  I loaded them up in the car and brought them home after work and placed them under the tree.

I was lucky to have both my sons over for Christmas Eve.  I picked up Dimitri on the 23rd and brought him to my house.  Dante’ had to work, so he drove up after work.  They spent the night, so Christmas Eve morning was our Christmas.

My brothers are still sleeping, so I’m here to inspect all the presents!

Naturally, Ella was up before anyone else.  Dante’ and Dimitri were up late.  Dimitri was up about 9, and he woke Dante’ up for presents.  Lol – he was exhausted.  At home, normally he isn’t up until after noon!  He literally opened presents and went back to sleep!

Dimitri nabbed a cool gaming chair and new bed, while Dante’ was loaded up with gift cards.  We video chatted with my dad as they opened their gifts from him, so we didn’t get any pictures of them opening his stuff.

The aftermath!

Ella made out pretty good!  My dad bought her this cute little princess tent! 

She absolutely loves playing in it!

It’s like her own club house!

She got to open one of our presents to her that day…it’s the cutest puppy that she can bounce and spin on.

Later that day, Sam’s mom dropped off the gifts for Ella and the boys.  The boys got some amazing Nike hoodie sweatshirts and Ella got a Minnie Mouse car that she can ride on or walk with.

It makes all kinds of noise!  Each button makes a different sound and the horn has like 4 or 5 different horns.  I’m sure in a month or two I will pull the batteries out!

The greatest thing about Christmas Eve was spending it with some of the greatest gifts God ever gave me: Sam and my kids!

The boys went home Christmas Eve evening so they could be with their mom Christmas morning. After Ella went to bed, I got to work putting Dimitri’s bed together and building Ella’s big gift from us.

With all the time we are spending indoors, we wanted to get her something we could play with inside and eventually outside.  We bought her this really cool swing and slide.

She loves to swing! She loves to go down the slide, too!  It’s funny that she’s already doing things her way!  She wants to climb up the wrong way!

One of my closest friends, Margaret, had asked if Ella had a toy box.  She ordered the perfect one and hand delivered it last weekend.  It’s also a fainting couch!  Lol.

Our little princess was right at home with it….

As different as the holiday was, it was still full of good memories!  I hope you and your family had a blessed holiday season.  Happy New Year!

Whoop! Deer it is!!

The “Overlap”

We are now three days from Christmas. Remember back in October when folks were all up in arms about people putting Christmas stuff up? I remember blogging about how this year we could use some happiness and approved of the “early” holiday cheer.

I was reminded of a cartoon which shows up every year (in some form or another):

I was reminded of the holiday “overlap” after reading one of the blogs I follow. The blog’s author, Beth, posted it here:

Personally, I have yet to walk into a store that has the Valentine’s stuff out, but I know that come December 26th, it will start showing up! I don’t know about you, but I don’t even start thinking about Valentine’s day until mid-January or early February.

I’ve never really understood the reason to rush a holiday? A month in advance is plenty. Now, Christmas may be a little different in that some people start saving money for Christmas as early as January (yes, 12 months early!). I know plenty of people who Christmas shop all year long. I would think that of all the holidays, Christmas is probably the biggest, at least where gift giving is concerned. Every one is buying gifts for someone.

I’ve never received an Easter Gift bigger than a basket with candy, a Labor Day surprise, a Fourth of July gift, or even a President’s Day gift. The only times I receive a gift is my birthday, my anniversary, and Christmas. Still, the retail stores are quick to usher in the next holiday even before one is over! I don’t get it.

In commenting back and forth with Beth, she brought up a good point. Why don’t they just have “Holiday” stores. One store – with everything you need for every holiday? At least you could walk in there and not wonder “Why is the Halloween stuff out in April?!” You’d expect it to be!

Thanks Beth, for the inspiration. I’m off to buy Valentines…..

A Musical Childhood Christmas Memory –

I love Christmas Music. I have blogged about it in the past. I have Christmas songs on my iPod that I can listen to at any time of the year, just because they make me feel good! I usually give my wife a hard time when she plays her Pandora on shuffle when she is getting ready for work and it plays Christmas music, however, deep down, I am ok with it.

In the many years I DJ’d weddings and parties, I used to love DJ’ing Christmas parties. As people were coming in, and as they ate dinner, I would just sit and play many of my favorite Christmas songs. I had a huge tote full of nothing but Christmas CD’s. I had everything from instrumental Christmas songs, country Christmas songs, children’s Christmas songs, classic Christmas songs, novelty Christmas songs, jazz Christmas songs and everything in between.

At some point I decided to try to put the songs I played most often on a hard drive to cut down on all the stuff I was bringing to DJ gigs. I came across the hard drive in a box of our Christmas stuff and there were a lot of albums on it. I wondered if it would play in the USB in my car, and sure enough it does. I will go from folder to folder and play track by track.

I came across a folder that brought me back to when I was just a little kid. Here I was driving home listening to this album and laughing at the cuts I had forgotten about. Every year on the radio, they over play one of their songs, and while this album was geared more toward kids, I was pleasantly surprised at some of the songs on it.

Admittedly, you either love or hate the Chipmunks. That being said, if you base your opinion on the Chipmunk Song that plays every hour on stations throughout December, I can see where you might lean toward disliking them. Now, if high pitched voices annoy you, then you probably won’t like anything they do!

Growing up, their Christmas album was one that my brother and I played a lot. We played it on my dad’s stereo and on our little portable record player. I remember it had a yellow label – why I remember that I don’t know.

The Chipmunks First Christmas Album

I’m not sure, but I’m sure that this album came about because of the success of the Chipmunk Song (Christmas, Don’t Be Late). It’s a pretty straight forward album. There is interaction between the rodents and David Seville on some songs like Rudolph )where they take him to the North Pole to meet the famous reindeer), and White Christmas (where Dave is sad because there is no snow).

What’s interesting is that when I looked at the folders my CD’s were in, there were actually 3 Chipmunk Christmas CDs. I wondered why, and then I realized that years ago, when I bought them, not all the songs from Volume 2 were actually on the Volume 2 CD (and it actually had many of the songs from the first album, too).

At any rate, the original album starts basically the same way as the first one – with Dave introducing the boys and straight into Jingle Bell Rock. This volume is more “playful” than the first album. There is a “copy cat” song that is reminiscent of the Chipmunk Song called Wonderful Day in which Alvin drives Dave crazy with a harmonica. In the 12 Days of Christmas, Alvin gets more and more anxious for the song to end, and even sings about how tired he is getting. Theodore laments about his two front teeth, the listener can sing along with Deck the Halls, Dave does a swinging rendition of The Night Before Christmas, and it’s a lot of fun to listen to (even as an adult.)

The whole point of me writing this blog is because of one song that I had forgotten about. Greensleeves is a traditional English folk song. The album contains a Christmas song sung to the melody of Greensleeves. I’m not sure why I was so moved by this song when I heard it. I love the instrumental arrangement and yes, the rodent harmonies. The lyrics are what really got to me, they kind of hit me. I will post a YouTube link to the song, but first, here are the lyrics:

Christmas Time (Greensleeves)

Oh, Christmas time, oh, time of joy
A wondrous day for each girl and boy
The fire is warm and the spirits bright
What a beautiful sight, it is Christmas

Raise up your voice and sing
Fill the room with joy
Let the laughter ring
Sing out with word and rhyme
It’s a wonderful time
It is Christmas

The children gathered around the tree
How they look and wonder and laugh with glee
Their hearts are filled with a hundred dreams
And they’re counting the moments ’til Christmas

Raise up your voice and sing
Fill the room with joy
Let the laughter ring
Sing out with word and rhyme
It’s a wonderful time
It is Christmas

Come sit you down and eat your fill
It’s a time for happiness and good will
May all good thoughts and dreams come true
And we wish you all Merry Christmas

Raise up your voice and sing
Fill the room with joy
Let the laughter’s ring
Sing out with word and rhyme
It’s a wonderful time
It is Christmas

___

I began to think about lyrics in general and out of a holiday context. How often do you find yourself happy enough to raise your voice and sing? Shouldn’t every day be a time for happiness and good will? Shouldn’t laughter ring out every day? These questions took me back to the Elvis Presley song where he asks “Why can’t every day be like Christmas? Why can’t that feeling go on endlessly? ‘Cause if every day could be just like Christmas, what a wonderful world this would be.”

Well, here is the song. I hope you enjoy it.

Lost In Thought

I was sent home from work tonight because of low volume.

The night started off on a high note. One of my co-workers stopped at an Italian bakery and brought me some pignolata! It is a Sicilian dessert that I blogged about 5 days ago. I was excited to dive right in. Naturally, I had my reservations. My grandma never used sprinkles, and this batch has them on it.

I asked my co-worker if she wanted to try it. She stated she bought some for herself and a friend and had tried it. She was not impressed. My heart sank. Now, I had to try it. I was disappointed. It was similar, but no where close to grandma’s. There was not enough honey, not enough chocolate chips, and no powdered sugar. Sigh.

As I drove home, I passed the town Christmas tree. It was already lit. Stupid Covid. Every year, our little town does a tree lighting ceremony. Santa shows up, there is a parade where the high school band marches down main street, and the shops are open with baked goods and hot chocolate. Afterward, there are some games and other activities. Obviously, this didn’t happen this year. What a shame! I really enjoy doing that with the family.

I came home to to a quiet house, turned on the Christmas lights and thought about how different things are gonna be this year. It makes me sad. It makes me hope that there will be some sort of “normal” by next year! Kids shouldn’t have to talk with Santa through a bubble or behind glass…

It seems that every time I open my Facebook, a friend has lost someone dear to them. One friend has literally posted about one friend passing away and within an hour, she posted another friend had passed away, too. Too many friends have lost parents or children this year. Many of these aren’t even Covid related! There is so much sadness.

I feel like my prayer list grows bigger and bigger every night. I pray for those friends who have family members in the hospital. I pray for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. I pray for those who have struggle because of the loss of employment. The list goes on and on. I will keep praying …

My cousin summed things up recently when she posted this…

Before you start bragging that you’ve done your Christmas shopping and post a picture of 175 wrapped gifts under the tree, please remember :

Some parents have lost their jobs and don’t know how they’re going to feed their kids, never mind buy presents for them.

Some families are on 80% pay and only just managing to pay bills. 😔 (Some are making less than that, or trying to make it off unemployment!)

Some people have lost family members and Christmas won’t be the same now or ever again. 💔

Some people don’t go online and now have no idea when or how they’ll be able to shop.

Some people are completely isolated and alone, and won’t be receiving any gifts from anyone at all.

Some people are fighting for their lives!!! Christmas shopping is the last thing on their minds. So remember, nobody likes a show off!!!

For me this year, more than ever before, it’s more important who is around your tree rather than what’s under it.

Be humble. Be thoughtful. Be kind. That’s what the holiday season is really about.

Mom Memory – Ceramics

My brother was decorating for Christmas today and sent me a picture. That picture is the inspiration for this blog. I don’t recall blogging about this specific topic, but if I have, please forgive me.

My mom had many hobbies. I know I have mentioned them in the past. I can always remember her crocheting things as a kid. She made blankets, vests, and yes, even Christmas ornaments. She also was on a fabric paint kick for a while. She made sweatshirts for everyone in our family and friends, too.

Aside from quilting, I believe the longest hobby she did was ceramics. The work she did was amazing. I recall she had a table set up in the basement where she worked. She had one of those desk lamps with the swing arm on them to help her see. I remember it was a bright yellow lamp.

I remember two pieces she did for my grandma. One was a ceramic “praying hands” and another was a bust of Jesus. She did both of these in a “Mother of Pearl” paint and they came out white and shiny. I have no idea what became of them, but its a good bet that one of my aunts have them.

Somewhere I still have a few of the pieces she made for me. I have a snail and frog that sat on a shelf in my room for years. She made mugs, statues, busts, an Easter village, Halloween village and trick or treat bowl for candy, and Christmas ornaments. One year, our tree was loaded with so many of her ceramic ornaments, we had to tie the tree to the wall so it wouldn’t fall over!! My brother and I joked that it was because of the “angel band” ornaments. She must have had 40 ornaments with angels all playing a different instrument (they were hideous!).

She made ornaments for every family. Each one had their last name on it. My brother still has the one that was on our tree. I’m not sure if I lost when I moved in with Sam, but my mom made an ornament with a dog sleeping by the chimney. She painted it to look like our beagle, Daisy. I didn’t see it when I unpacked the ornaments this year, so I am not sure if still have it. I hope so.

One of the things my mom made (and I wish I still had) were ceramic Christmas trees. From what everyone tells me now, these are very popular and the older ones are worth some money. They had a light in the bottom that lit up the lights that were glued into the tree.

My grandma loved these little trees so much, she had my mom make her a large one. It was two pieces. My mom did the tree in the “Mother of Pearl” paint that she used for the pieces she made for my other grandma, and I remember it was just beautiful. My grandma used to put it up in her front window.

If you look closely, you can see where the base and top come together on the tree above. It probably was 3-4 feet tall.

I write all of the above to get to the picture my brother sent me today. I had all but forgotten about these pieces, which came to be symbolic of our Christmas decorations. I don’t recall them having a specific spot among the decorations. As a matter of fact, I believe they moved around from year to year. Sometimes they were on the table in the front room, other times they were on the mantle. Sometimes they were among the buildings of the Christmas village, other times they were in the front window. Mr. & Mrs. Claus were always there.

I don’t know if they were my mom’s favorite pieces, but she always made sure they were displayed prominently somewhere each Christmas. My mom told me that Santa was kissing Mrs. Claus goodbye before heading out to deliver all of his toys.

To be honest, I probably knew my brother had these, but I forgot. Every Christmas, I miss my mom a bit more than the rest of the year. Maybe it is because of the ornaments. Maybe I miss her singing along with Johnny Mathis. Maybe I just miss her smile and laughter. I’m grateful that a bit of mom still shows up at Christmas.