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.

There’s No Place Like Home …

I’m sure you are familiar with the above holiday favorite, Home For The Holidays. This year, however, many won’t be going home for the holidays, they will be staying home. As I mentioned in my last blog, our Governor is already begging folks in Michigan to limit Thanksgiving gatherings to 2 families to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Sam and I have already decided that we are staying home this year for turkey day.

If the Covid numbers don’t start to taper off, and the curve doesn’t flatten, I fear that the Christmas holidays may be the same way. I really hope that this is not the case, but I understand the precautions that we need to take if we have to.

Since March we’ve all altered our normal way of doing things. Come on, if it weren’t for Covid, would you really let someone else shop for you and pick it up?! I can tell you I wouldn’t (this is based on the vegetables that were chosen by our designated shopper – YUCK!). My dad has already ordered Christmas gifts for Ella and the boys and he said “Now I hope they get here on time!” Isn’t that the truth?!

You can bet that deliveries of gifts and such will be delayed with more and more people shopping online. I’ve never been one to do online shopping. I have mentioned in the past how much I love just walking through a store to get ideas for gifts. Many of the best gifts I ever bought for people were things that jumped at me off a shelf at a store! It’s hardly the same scrolling a store website.

At any rate, I’m hopeful that by Christmas, life will be such that we can at least have a visitor or two. I would hate to think that I’d have to send my sons their presents via mail, or even drop it off on their porch. I really hope the holidays can be semi-normal. If not, I’m gonna try to brainstorm some things that we can do some family bonding over the holidays.

Speaking of bonding, I had the opportunity to do just that with my son, Dimitri, this weekend. On Sunday, while he was still sleeping and the baby was napping, I watched a really good message from a pastor friend of mine. It was a study on Satan. (When I taught the Sunday School message at my old church, I spent about 12-15 weeks on the subject. The subject is fascinating and I taught it because of a conversation I had with a fellow church member.) My son and I talked briefly on the subject a few weeks ago and I thought he might want to watch it with me.

After Sam left for work and the baby went to sleep for the night, he and I opened up our Bibles and watched the message together. What was nice about watching the recorded version was that I was able to pause it every time he had a question. The message was about 50 minutes, but with his questions, we were on the couch studying for about 90 minutes. He really enjoyed it and he said he learned a lot. He is with his mom this coming weekend, so he and I are already planning on watching two weeks worth of messages when he comes back in two weeks. What a blessing for me to be able to share that time with him!

“I Hate These Damn Stickers”

My wife reminded me of a funny story this afternoon before work.

A few days ago, she told me that she ordered a playhouse toy for Ella. As she gets older, she is getting bored with just chewing on the toys she has. So we decided to get her something that might keep her a bit more busy.

The above playhouse, can be put together in a square, like pictured above, or spread out. Anyway, it arrived today. When I woke up, the box was in the hallway, and I knew I wanted to put it together before she got home from Nana’s house. So I immediately went to work on it.

The thing that gets me about these toys is the gazillion steps it takes to put it together! There is always that 300 page instruction booklet with the bad pictures that are supposed to help you piece this thing together. Maybe it is just me, but I always find it extremely difficult to figure out which way a piece is supposed to face when I look at these pictures!

At any rate, I was practically done with it when Ella came home with Sam (who got her haircut today and looks as beautiful as ever). It was nice to actually be able to see her explore her playhouse before I left for work.

The one thing I didn’t do, was put the various stickers on it. Sam said that she would do it later tonight. When I talked with her after she got the baby down for bedtime, she said her OCD kicked in and it took her longer than she thought to put the stickers on. Hell, I’m glad she did it, because I literally have no patience for that!!

That is exactly what reminded me of a Christmas from my childhood. I think I was 10 or 11 and I had asked for the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars movies. I remember seeing the commercials for it and it was my “big” Christmas gift item. It was at the top of my list and mom and dad didn’t disappoint.

I remember being so impatient as I watched my dad put this huge thing together. By the time he had gotten it all together, he pulled out this big sheet of stickers (there may have even been more than one sheet). There were little stickers that went practically everywhere on the inside and outside of the ship.

Some of these stickers were so small and went into places that my dad’s hands barely fit! The combination of him struggling to get the stickers on right and me asking him “is it done, yet?” was probably enough to drive him crazy. At one point I just remember him yelling out, “I hate these damn stickers! You’d think for the money you pay for something like this, they’d find some idiot to put them on for you!”

THANKS to my brother, Christopher, for sending me this picture of dad putting it together!

Dad all duded up to assemble Christmas presents!

He was so frustrated, and there were plenty of stickers that were a little crooked. I knew better than to say anything to him, though! I learned to appreciate his patience when I had to start putting stickers on Lego sets for my sons when they were growing up!

I have a feeling that I will be building plenty of toys in the years ahead, and yes, struggling to get tiny stickers into small places. I will love every minute of it, though, because the look of joy on your child’s face when they see the finished product is one of the best things a dad can ever experience.

Fall Photo Shoot 2020

Maybe I need to add this shirt to my wardrobe …

‘Twas a Blog Before Christmas

It feels like I haven’t blogged in forever.  Usually Christmas brings about many topics and many memories to write about and I felt like I had dropped the ball.  However, as I looked back over the last 7 blogs – 6 of the 7 were Christmas related, so I guess I’m not as “Grinchy” as I thought.

It’s been a busy week for me.  Last Monday, we had our company Christmas party.  This year the theme was “Hawaiian Christmas”.  I used to have a Hawaiian shirt, a few actually, but my ex hated them and made me donate them to good will.  I was telling Sam about the theme, and my mother in law told her she had a grass skirt, coconut bra, lei, and Hawaiian hat at her house.  I borrowed them for the party and wore them all – including the coconut bra (it’s always about getting a laugh!).  There’s a story behind it, which many of my coworkers know, but some do not, so I won’t tell it here…but one of our coworkers came dressed as Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s!  This, in itself is hilarious, but factor in that the coworker who did it is female makes it even funnier!!

Holiday-White-Elephant

One of the highlights of the get together over the past couple years has been the White Elephant gift exchange.  This always reminds me of that Christmas Episode of The Office where everyone has a specific person they are to buy for and then it becomes “Yankee Swap” with everyone getting gifts that were meant for someone else.  One of my favorite episodes of that show.

gettyimages-141187188

With our party, everyone brings a gift.  Everyone choses a number and then gets to pick a gift.  No one unwraps them until the end.  A gift can be stolen three times.  This can be very misleading, as some of the biggest and prettiest gifts are often crap!  Last year, one coworker got a toilet seat and accessories (This year, he got a HUGE can of Bush’s Baked Beans!).  Another got bunny slippers made from tampons.  This year, I found a silly picture of my boss (Amy) from last year’s party.  I blew it up into an 11 x 14 picture and had a caption on it “Who needs an Elf on the Shelf?  You now have Amy in a Framey!”  Lots of laughs … and I wasn’t fired, so that’s good!

For the gift exchange, I got the LAST number!  Really, this is the worst because, all the gifts worth stealing have been stolen three times and not going anywhere!  As they got closer to my number, I kept looking to see what one I might want to steal.  When they finally got to my number, I was handed a gift.  I didn’t get to chose one.  I was like “What the hell?!? What if I didn’t want this one?!”  I was basically told that “this is the gift that you get!” Then, I opened it….

gift

My sneaky coworkers took up a collection and bought Sam and I stuff for the baby.  The basket included teethers, rattles, onesies, some very cute outfits (one will probably be the “take home” from the hospital outfit), and an Amazon gift card.  They knew we hadn’t received a mattress for the crib, and we are using the card to get one.  It was pretty overwhelming and they are lucky I held it together.  With as emotional as I have been lately, I could have easily cried at the party.  I work with some pretty amazing people!

Ultrasound

We had a coupon for a return visit to the place that did our gender reveal ultrasound.  It does 3D ultrasounds, so we can really see our baby’s face.  I was so excited to go in and see her!  We got there and found out that they had overbooked.  They were going to get us in, it was just going to be a bit.  When we finally got back, Sam got up on the table.  We saw the baby’s face briefly, and did get a picture of her.  We found out, however that the baby is breech.  Frank breech to be exact.  I had no idea that there were a few different “breeches”, but sure enough, there are!

breech_grande

So, basically, she is sitting in Sam’s pelvis with her legs up in the air.  This made it difficult for them to get more pictures.  They suggested we go walk and see if the baby would move.  We went and had dinner and walked around the store.  When we returned and got back up on the table, it was even harder to get pictures.  We had to reschedule.  We’re going to go back right after the first of the year.  Sam said she hopes that she doesn’t come before then, as she’s starting to have cramping and contractions on occasion.  She isn’t due to arrive until February, so I’d like her to wait a few weeks.  Here is the picture we got to see.  I think she looks like Sam, but she thinks that she has my facial features.  One thing we did get to see was that she has hair.  We could see it floating on the ultrasound.  Pretty cool!  The excitement continues!!!

Ella

I love that we can see her like this!!  It really is amazing!!

Writing Prompt Extras

I get a daily writing prompt in my email.  Many times I don’t feel like there is enough to write about in a full blog.  There were two this week that I felt I could write about, but only as an “extra” to a longer blog, or a blog full of random things (like this one).

Prompt #1

“Besides a family member, what is something that used to be a part of your holiday celebration that is missing today?”

Instant Egg Nog.  Really?!  Yes!  My brother and I recall this vividly!  My grandmother used to buy it in a pouch and make it for us every year.  It was VERY good.  I have looked for it every year, but simply cannot find it.  I recently came across a picture of the pouch and hoped that this would lead me to a website to buy it, but no such luck.

nog.png

I have always loved Egg Nog – the non-alcoholic stuff, anyway.  I never even knew that it was supposed to contain alcohol until just recently.  When you go to the store today, you can find various kinds of Egg Nog’s, and I have to admit, I really like the Custard Nog.  It has a very unique flavor to it.  Please let me know if you ever see this instant stuff in a pouch, though!

Prompt #2

“What is the oldest Christmas Ornament on your Christmas Tree?”

I actually mention the ornament in the blog I wrote about Christmas Trees.  When I was a 6 year old boy, I was going to catechism for church.  They gave us all this baby Jesus ornament.  My mom always hung it on the tree, and it eventually went with me when I moved out. The ornament get’s hung every year on the tree.  I remember asking Sam if I could hang it when I moved in.  It really doesn’t fit with any of the ornaments that she has, but she lets me hang it up there every year.  The ornament is 43 years old.  One day, I hope it will get passed down to one of my children, and then one of their children.

ornament

Good Grief

In between working my real job, filling in at the radio station, and working on the baby’s room, I finally got 30 minutes to sit down and watch a Charlie Brown Christmas. It is one of many Christmas specials I have to watch every year.  Every time I hear Sally say, “Will you please write a letter to Santa Claus for me?” I chuckle.  They had to feed so many of the child actors their lines a few words at a time and then piece it together to form a sentence.  You can really hear it in that line.  I love it!

I don’t care how many times I see it, I still love when Linus starts quoting the Bible and tells the Christmas story only to walk over to Charlie Brown and say, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

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One of my favorite Charlie Brown quotes:

“It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree that matters, it’s who’s around it.”

After work tonight, I will go home to sleep.  I am excited because I get to have my sons tomorrow.  Christmas Eve was always when we celebrated with my dad’s family, and it is when I get to celebrate with them.  Christmas Eve morning is our Christmas.  I can’t wait to pass out their presents and celebrate with them.  My grandmother always made ravioli, and I plan on doing the same.  My work schedule has prevented me from seeing them much this month, so I am extra excited to have the day with them.

Because I will be focused on my sons, and my family, I may not get the chance to blog before Christmas.  I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season and that you are surrounded by friends and family.  Whether you are celebrating, Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, or another holiday, I hope that your holiday is full of joy and that you make happy memories!  Thanks for reading!  Merry Christmas!

snowman

 

 

 

 

Oh Christmas Tree …

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Happy December to you! Maybe it is because Thanksgiving was so late this year, but it is hard to believe that we are less than a month from Christmas! The reality of that sunk in this weekend as I did a couple shifts at Cars 108 and we are playing all Christmas music.

One song always really sticks out to me each Christmas, mainly because it really isn’t a Christmas song – Linus & Lucy (AKA the Charlie Brown theme) from the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun song that immediately makes be think of Charlie Brown and the gang, but it is a song that is used in basically every Charlie Brown special. Personally, the soundtrack to the Charlie Brown Christmas special is one of my favorites.

O Tannenbaum is the instrumental that kicks off the album. Many know the song as simply “Oh Christmas Tree”. (In case you were wondering, a tannenbaum is a fir tree). It’s one of my favorite versions of the song. I had the chance to hear it over the weekend and it got me to thinking about the Christmas Tree. I recently had the chance to go through a bunch of family pictures and I was surprised at how many of them included the Christmas tree. This blog is sort of a “pictorial” blog featuring some of those pictures.

As I looked through the pictures, it was fun to see the various decorations and the toys under the tree. Bear with me, as some of the years I am guessing on …

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The above picture is of my dad in 1951. He would be 5 here. As I look at this picture, I see a little of me, my brother, and my oldest son in my dad.

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The above picture is my mom. Just a guess, but this is probably from 1953 or 1954, as she looks 5-6 years old here. Tinsel seemed to be really big in the 50’s! Wonder what that “Little Painter” set is worth today….

On Leave

The above picture is my dad, home on leave from Vietnam. The date is 1967. I really have no idea what that tree is made of. Eventually, my grandma had a ceramic tree that my mom made that stood about that high that she put there in the window. This one looks … fluffy. There are pictures of my dad with both his mom and his dad next to this tree too.

My folks told me that the local paper used to put names and addresses of servicemen who were overseas in the paper for people to send letters. Both of my parents were from the same city and my mom sent my dad letters. With letters, occasional pictures were sent back and forth, too.

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I think the above picture is one my mom sent to my dad. I am not sure. I am not sure because I don’t know where this was taken. It would seem to me that this would be a picture that she would send to my dad overseas. At any rate, some things stand out, though. Note the “sunbust” clock on the wall – I know my grandma had one of those. Also, note the cool Hi-Fi with the ceramic cat on it. This was a record player and radio. It probably also played 8 track tapes and stored records. I know my dad, and my grandpa had one of them, so again, not sure when this is.

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I know for a fact that this was taken at my grandma’s house. I know this because of the fireplace and the huge wooden fork and spoon on the wall behind the TV. In my lifetime, I don’t recall my grandparents ever putting a tree on the TV, so I am guessing this is before I came around.

I was born in May of 1970. I was 7 months old for my first Christmas. I am thankful that my folks took lots of pictures. A few of my favorites all come from 1970, all for different reasons.

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The above picture is my and my great-grandpa. He passed away shortly after this. It is the only picture I have of him and I.

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I am not 100%, but I believe this picture was taken in my mom and dad’s apartment. My dad can correct me if I am wrong. I remember that stuffed Bugs Bunny to my right very well.

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I am pretty sure that this is at my grandma and grandpa’s house. What I love about this picture is a little foreshadowing. One of my favorite sports to participate in is bowling. I love that I am propped up next to a balling ball bag in this picture.

7 mos with Mom (2)

This is absolutely one of my favorite pictures of my mom and me. It was taken at my grandparents house, probably Christmas Eve. I love this picture so much, because it reminds me of another … which I will share in a few pictures.

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The above is obviously from the same year. This time, I am with mom and dad. My grandma always kept her house hot, so mom took off her vest. Dad, who is ALWAYS hot, must not have felt it was too warm, because his is still on here.

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One more from the same year (and you won’t have to look at that brown bowling ball bag anymore!), here is my and my grandpa. I always loved this picture of us. I was his first grandchild, and you can see just how happy he is here.

Grandpa and Grandma Davidson Christmas 1970 (2)

These are my mom’s parents – Grandma and Grandpa D. The date on the picture says 1970, but another scan from my brother says 1967. Not really sure. It could easily be 1970, though. It is one of my favorites of them. The tree is in the corner where my grandpa’s recliner used to always be.

Jodi and Keith Christmas 1972

The date on the above picture is October of 72, which means I am 1 here. This is at Grandma D’s house. That is my Aunt Jodi holding the bear. Note in the background, another Hi-Fi. My grandpa used to have big band records I used to listen to on it.

1975

The above picture was taken at our old house on Brandywine. I am about 4 here and my brother is probably just 2. The thing that stands out in this picture is the ornaments on the tree. See those diamond crocheted things? Yeah, my mom made them. She had many hobbies (I have an entire blog ready about her various hobbies through the years) and this particular year, she was crocheting everything! I remember a maroon vest that she made for me! At any rate, those ornaments were two squares, with a piece of an egg carton in the middle, and a tail hanging down. I am sure she made these for many people. I remember seeing them on other family members Christmas trees, too.

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A year later, same house, and same ornaments! You can see them a little better in this picture! I am probably 5 here, while my brother is 3. This would be the last Christmas at this house, as we moved the following year. A couple things (besides the ornaments) stand out in the picture. First, there is the organ I used to play, and mentioned in the blog about my music lessons. Next, I remember the Ernie and Big Bird stuffed animals! Then there is that picture above the organ – it’s two horses. I think everyone in my family had that picture!! Finally, and this should get my wife’s OCD going, note that I am wearing the pants from one pair of PJs and the shirt from another in this picture! Good Lord!!!

Mom, Chris, & Keith Xmas 79

The picture above has to be from 1977. My grandma bought us each a set of Star Wars figures that year. I think there were like 20 issued the first year. I remember my grandma having trouble finding the Jawa figures! This picture would have been Christmas morning, and we had gotten the figures the night before at grandma’s. If I remember right, we had the big Han Solo and Jawa dolls (pictured here) and Boba Fett and Princess Leia, too. What I love most about this picture is that my mom is in it wearing this yellow robe. I have written about her yellow robe in previous blogs. She wore this thing SO much that it was stained and had tears and holes in it. She loved this robe. Eventually we bought her a new one for Christmas one year and she wore that. We assumed that she threw this one away, but after she passed away, we found it in the back of the closet! I have a “memory bear” made out of this robe.

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The above has to be from 1978. If you can look past my brother’s golf pants and my wacky shirt, you will see a Tie Fighter and X-Wing Fighter. You can see the tree set up on the TV, but cannot really see the amazing display on my grandma’s mantel. Every year, she put up angels, Santa, reindeer, trees, snow and more. There was one piece that always stood out – a little mouse that was in a flower arrangement that I sent her when she was in the hospital. She put that up every year!

Keith Doctor Doctor game

It obviously took my folks awhile to develop film! This is from Christmas of 78, and was not developed until August of 79! First, I love how skinny I am in this picture! Second, I remember having the sliding wooden doors that covered the doorwall. I also remember the bad paneling in the living room! I can see the Polaroid camera on the TV, the candy jar, and the glass candle sticks that my mom had. I wish I could make out more of the presents under the tree, but I remember really wanting this game. I also remember that star on the tree. It was made of hard plastic and the ends were very sharp! It could probably be used as a weapon!!

Grandma and Grandpa Xmas 79

The above picture is of my dad’s folks, my Grandma and Grandpa P. This was in 1979 – I remember that was the year that everyone was taking Polaroids! At family gatherings, everyone took pictures and wrote their last name on the bottom, so they knew what pictures belonged to what family! A couple things I notice right away: The tree topper, I never understood just what the hell it was! It wasn’t a star, it was just this spaceship shaped thing that lit up! I remember the musical angels on the wall. They moved from room to room as I recall. Grandma’s beehive hair! She wore it this way for SO long!! I also notice the pack of cigarettes in my grandpa’s pocket – you could bet they were either Lucky Strikes or Pall Malls. It looks like he is wearing a bracelet in this picture. I don’t remember him wearing one, but he did here. Just love this picture!!

cousins

The above is from 1980. This is my brother and me, with my cousins Arin and Melissa. This is at my Grandma and Grandpa D’s. A couple thoughts on this one – I am holding the very cool Coleco Head to Head Baseball game which I loved! I do not remember that bear I am holding! This is probably the year that my grandpa bought me my cribbage board, too! What is sad about this picture, is knowing that my grandpa would pass away in less than a year after this picture was taken.

mom dante

Jumping many years ahead now for the above picture. Remember the picture of my mom and me by the tree? It reminds me of this picture. Here is my mom and Dante’. This may not have been her last Christmas, I think Dante is 2 here. She loved him so much and I see the same joy in her smile here as I do in the picture of her holding me.

boys at trailer

The above picture is about a year or so before my divorce. I just love this picture because these two guys (no matter how much they may fight) really love each other. This was such a spontaneous picture and it remains one of my favorites of the boys!

boys last year

The above picture is from last Christmas Eve morning. Christmas Eve was always bigger than Christmas on my dad’s side of the family. The fact that I get the boys every Christmas Eve Morning to open up gifts is so special to me. I cannot wait until they can celebrate it with their sister. They are going to be such great brothers to her.

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The above picture is from 2018 (on the right) and 2017 (on the left). When we first got Moe (left) he got up in the tree! When Maizey came along last year, the fact that she was almost in the same exact spot as Moe the year before made me laugh. So I put together this comparison picture. It still makes me laugh!!

sam at tree

This picture (along with the song I mentioned earlier) was the reason for this blog. As I mentioned, so many favorite pictures involve the Christmas tree. I took this picture of Sam just the other night. It was her idea. The silhouette of her baby bump against the lights of the Christmas tree is just beautiful!! I posted it on Facebook (she did, too) and mention how I cannot stop looking at it!

The reason is that it brings about so many feelings: Feelings of love for my beautiful wife. Feelings of joy and nostalgia – because it is Christmastime and the Christmas Tree. Feelings of excitement and anticipation – because the baby will be here soon. Feelings of happiness – because the picture brings a smile to my face every time I see it.

In the years ahead, I hope that more and more wonderful pictures will be captured near the Christmas tree … so I can reflect on them, too!

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A week of Showers and Lights

It has been very busy week for us! It has been so busy, this is the first chance I have had to sit and blog. I won’t bore you with some of the busy stuff (like work, work meetings, and such). I’ll hit the high lights and try to bring you up to date.

We have a weekend routine. That routine was all jumbled up this week. The things we would normally do at certain times had to be done between things that we normally don’t do. I was all messed up.

Most of the week, we were doing last minute preparations for the baby shower. We had things to do Thursday night (after a call in meeting for work), and then Friday we had tons of running around to do. We had to drive an hour to Sam’s work to pick up new scrubs. After that we had our monthly appointment with the OB/GYN (and got to hear baby Ella’s heartbeat, again!). Then we had to go to the hall to set up for the shower. We were gone literally all day. Saturday, we had early errands to run before heading to the hall for the baby shower.

Baby Shower

What an amazing day for us! We were surrounded by family and friends and they showered our baby with so much love! My mother-in-law and sister-in-law hosted the shower for us. The theme was a “shower”. We had clouds and raindrops. It was perfect.

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Not everyone we invited was able to come. Some live out of state or out of town. Some of our friends/family who RSVP’d weren’t able to make it either, but we understand that sometimes things happen.

Some of the high lights for me:

  • Seeing my beautiful wife. The future mommy of our baby looked simply amazing! Her sister put a little braid in her hair, and she wore a very cute outfit. There were times I’d be chatting with someone and I’d catch her out of the corner of my eye and just smile! I am one lucky man!
  • Seeing my Godmother. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it meant that she was there. I LOVE just sitting and talking with her and she means the world to me.
  • Seeing my cousins. I was so glad to see cousins from my dad’s side of the family and my mom’s side of the family. I don’t get to see them often enough! Every year, my cousins from my dad’s side have a big holiday party, and I cannot wait to go!
  • Watching my dad and Sam’s dad chit chatting away at the “guy” table.
  • Being able to wish Rose a happy birthday a day early.
  • Having my old morning show partner, Steph, and her daughter there. She told me her gifts were so we’d think of Aunt Steph all year round, and she was right! She have us a beautiful Christmas blanket and about 8 Halloween costumes! I expected nothing less from her. She is really one of my truest friends!
  • Meeting some of Sam’s family that I hadn’t met yet.
  • Having Sam’s Grandma there. She had been praying for us to have a baby since we got married! She is so excited for us.

One of my cousins mentioned how much she loves reading this blog. Again, I was told what a good writer I am, not by one, but by a few of my cousins. I am always embarrassed by this. I am also humbled by the fact that people actually read what I write. I’m not sure why.

The hardest part of an event like this, is getting the chance to talk to everyone. Once everyone is there, you are being pulled this way and that way. You try to mingle while people are eating, but you never seem to make it to everyone. Then you are obligated to be up front to open presents. People sometimes leave before you ever get the chance to say hello. It’s not intentional, it just happens.

I guess I acted as the emcee for the gift opening. I was the one reading the cards and announcing who the gift was from. Our nieces were there basically opening them for Sam. It was unorganized chaos – LOL! They were opening things so fast, that we actually went through the gifts at home afterward, so that we could actually see some of the stuff that we missed at the shower.

As someone who talked on the radio for a living, I was given the responsibility of thanking everyone after all the gifts were opened. I was having such a hard time. With all that has transpired over the past three years, and to be there in front of those who love us, to have to come up with words was very difficult. I am sure Steph probably shot video of it. I was certainly fighting back tears! I know I wanted to share a dream I had the night before, but the emotions of everything took over, and I never did – so here it is:

The morning of the baby shower, I shot up out of sleep. Sam was already awake and asked if I was ok. It took me a second to kind of figure out that I had just woke up from a dream. The dream was so real and so vivid. I was dreaming that we were at the baby shower and the baby was already here. I was holding her. She was beautiful (just like her mother). She had dark hair. I was feeding her at one point. There were many people there. At one point I looked up and my mother was smiling. I was in the process of handing the baby to my mom when I woke up. I wish I could remember more about the dream!

After the shower, I stared at the table of gifts. I thought about how much our baby is loved and she has yet to be born. The outpouring of love and well wishes was truly overwhelming. Sam asked if we’d need someone else to bring stuff home. Well, I naturally took this as a challenge and put all those hours of Tetris to the test. It wasn’t easy, but I fit every last gift into the back of the car!

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Thank you Tetris!!!

Speaking of “thank you”, my dad gave me a huge laugh at the end of the shower. One of the things you have the guests do at the shower is address an envelope. This is the envelope that we will send the thank you card in. So my dad comes up to me at the end of the shower says, “Here’s my envelope.”

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This cracked me up so bad!

Wild Lights at the Zoo

Sam and I knew that the baby shower was going to leave us pretty wiped out, so we both took Sunday night off. It was opening weekend of Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo. We decided to get tickets and go. We’d done this once before and loved it! They decorate the zoo with Christmas lights, play Christmas music, and it is something that we have decided will be a tradition for us.

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Every year, they add more lights. There are some areas where the lights are all synchronized to music and there is a light “show”. It is very cool. There are also lights shaped like animals. So we saw elephants, penguins, giraffes, and new this year – foxes.

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As you walk through, they have bonfires where you can stop and warm up. There are also places to buy hot chocolate, coffee, or alcohol if you wish. Some of the houses are open as warming stations – the Otter House was open, but they were busy sleeping and we didn’t get to see them. I love the Otters!

Some of the photo ops are just amazing. They have this huge Christmas ornament that you can stand inside of. While we were there, there was a wedding proposal inside the ornament. I probably drove Sam nuts taking all kinds of selfies while we were there! I always feel weird asking someone to take our picture, but we had someone take one of us by this huge star – it was pretty cool!

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The last time we went, it was very cold! Last night, it was about 39 degrees. It was the perfect night. It took us about an hour to get through, which was perfect, especially since Sam had been on her feet almost the entire day before, and now here we are walking the zoo. As you walk out there is a very cool tunnel of lights –

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There was still snow on the ground yesterday, so it was the perfect event to get you into the holiday spirit.

Christmas is coming …

I woke up today to see that one of the radio stations I work at flipped to all Christmas music. I got text messages from some people asking why we did it, and some from others who were thrilled that we did it. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, this kind of thing is very polarizing – you either love it or you hate it.

Sam loves Christmas and loves to sit in our living room with all the Christmas lights on. The tree is up after the first snowfall. So, yes, ours is up already! There are those who will say we are rushing the season, and they may be right about that. To those people I say, “So what!?”

The holiday season (which includes Thanksgiving and Christmas) is a time for thankfulness and happiness. It is that time of year when we are all a bit kinder to each other. We give a little bit more, we smile a little more, and we love a little more. I have quoted this song before, and I will again. Elvis sings:

“Why can’t every day be like Christmas? Why can’t that feeling go on endlessly? For if every day could be just like Christmas, what a wonderful world this would be!”

Spread the joy! Share a smile! Be kind! Be thankful!

I’m totally ok getting into the holiday spirit a bit early –

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