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TEN DAYS TO CHRISTMAS … DAY 3

My photo countdown to the celebration of Christmas … Day Three!

Day 17

Actually, the first decorations I put up this year was my pair of Christmas Trees. They sit on  a pair of shelved openings between the dining room and the living room. The trees are identical except for the decorations. Also they are pre-decked, so all I have to do is remove them from their storage containers and plug them in. It also seems like every year a new decoration is added to the trees thanks to two nieces who are very crafty.  When I was a kid we always had a live tree that went from floor to ceiling. My father was basically Father Christmas personified, and he always came home with the tallest and roundest tree on the lot. After he passed, I tried to maintain his traditions, but the availability of Christmas Trees just wasn’t the same. “Humbug!” he would have exclaimed! “They want an arm and a leg for a twig that’s not even a sapling!”   I actually bought a large artificial tree that could have passed for one of his select live trees when fully decked out. But after putting it up and taking it down by myself for ten years, I packed it in a storage box and moved it to the shelf in the basement. It sets next to the box of tissue wrapped glass ornaments that my mother collected for over more than eighty years. She died when she was 96. It was right before Christmas. I haven’t opened her decoration box since then. Times change as we grow older, but the memories go on forever.

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THE WORD PRESS DAILY POST WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: WARMTH

Whether you live on my side of the planet or in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoying real heat on the beach or in your yard, show us your take on warmth. You can go from the literal (saunas! scarves! steaming cups of tea!) to the figurative (the embrace of family members coming together for the holidays, the look of affection on your pet’s face, or even just a photo with a particularly warm color palette, no matter its subject matter). (For more information, go here.)

Warmth

And Mlle. Renee was snuggled in the warmth of her bed.

While visions of dog treats danced through her head.

THE DECEMBER SOLSTICE WILL OCCUR AT SUNSET (5:03 PM) LOCALLY TONIGHT

In other words Fall falls and Winter officially causes our temps to plummet. (Not that it hasn’t been cold around here the last couple of weeks.)Tomorrow

And in case you’re wondering, the above sunset occurred at Fort Riley, Kansas.  Please note that  I spent two winters there many years ago. The solstice is also when a lot of people celebrate ancient pagan traditions like burning the yule log, hanging mistletoe over the doorways and decorating the Tannenbaums. The early Christians incorporated these traditions into the celebration of Christmas and they are still around today.

And as you sit around this week listening to all those familiar Christmas songs, remember that the top ten most popular Christmas songs were written by composers or lyricists who were Jewish.

10. “The Christmas Waltz,”  (Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne)

9. “Silver Bells,” (Jay Livingston and Ray Evans)

8. “Winter Wonderland,” (Felix Bernard)

7. “Santa Baby,”(Joan Ellen Javits and Philip Springer)

6. “Sleigh Ride,” (Mitchell Parrish)

5. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” (Buck Ram and Walter Kent)

4. “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” (Irving Berlin).

3. “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,”(Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne)

2. “The Christmas Song – Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” (Mel Tormé and Bob Wells)

1. “White Christmas,” (Irving Berlin)  And did you know that Bing Crosby’s recording of this song is the best-selling single record ever.

And yes, Virginia, Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer (Johnny Marks) is also on this list along with The Little Drummer Boy, Sleigh Ride, Jingle Bell Rock, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays, Do They Know It’s Christmas and Have A Holly Jolly Christmas.

So, we owe a lot of our Christmas traditions to a lot of people who weren’t even Christians. That’s why I  share my Christmas love and joy with everyone I know during the holidays! Though I don’t have many pagans on my list of close friends these days.

So Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Happy New Year!

Personal side-note: There is one song on this list that still makes me teary-eyed whenever I hear it today … it is I’ll Be Home For Christmas. And that’s because my Grandmother had five of her six sons serving overseas in the military during WWII, and she would break down crying whenever she heard the song on the radio. 

 

JUST ANOTHER GLOOMY DAY IN ANOTHER GLOOMY WEEK!

As winter fast approaches, Moms Nature has been sending us nothing but gloom and more GLOOM! We haven’t had any sunsets for days and our afternoons have been looking like twilight. Add that to the fact that I have never been overly thrilled about Christmas (or any other form of Shopping) and compound it with the fact local groups and now even groups from out-of-state and even country have been going around town   and exercising their constitutional right to protest peacefully by marching through the local shopping centers and stores disrupting business and often forcing the stores and centers to completely shut down. I am a long time advocate of civil rights, but I do not condone civil disruption. So recently I have been limiting my shopping  to a weekly trip to restock the pantry and fridge. So I have forgone Christmas shopping and gift giving for this year.

Instead, I have decided to return to those glorious days of yesteryear (aka, my grandmother’s time) and drag out my personal recipe book to make items of hand baked goodness for people on my gift list. Since Target or Macy’s would not be able to exchange any of these gifts, I have mailed out this postcard so the intended recipients can customize their gifts.Card

Hopefully, I won’t live to regret my holiday decision. Also, don’t expect to see any posts from me the week prior to Christmas.  Also, I am not responsible for any excess calories you consume during the holidays.

MY DAILY CALENDAR – DAY 357 – DECEMBER 23, 2013

MY DAILY CALENDAR FOR MONDAY, DAY 357 OF 2013: And if I thought today was cold, am I going to be frosted tomorrow! The current temp at 11:30 pm is 12 degrees F and dropping. I actually stayed inside all day and did a bit of holiday baking. I actually enjoy baking, and I could see myself with a little bake shop. As long as I could find someone to do the clean up behind me. Today I felt ambitious and whipped up a double batch of Christmas stollens. These are a made using a yeast dough that need kneading and rising before baking. And here’s what I produced …

CHOCOLATE AND PECAN STOLLENS

CHOCOLATE AND PECAN STOLLENS

 

CHOCOLATE CRUMB AND CHOCOLAT COVERED PEANUT STOLLENS

CHOCOLATE CRUMB AND CHOCOLATE COVERED PEANUT STOLLENS

 

APRICOT STOLLENS

APRICOT STOLLENS

HEAVENLY HASH AND COCONUT RAISEN STOLENS

HEAVENLY HASH AND COCONUT RAISIN STOLLENS

Twelve stollens all together which I will be wrapping and handing out on Christmas Day.

TODAY’S ORIGAMI CHALLENGE – THE DOLLAR PEACE DOVE:

THE $ PEACE DOVE

THE $ PEACE DOVE

Would you believe that I did not have a foldable one dollar bill in my wallet.  So I had to use a five?

The $5 Peace Dove

The $5 Peace Dove

Trust me, as soon as I shot the photo, I unfolded the fiver and returned it to my wallet … wrinkles and all.

SNOBOB TODAY’S MENSA PUZZLE:DSC08711

AND CURRENTLY ON DISPLAY FOR THE HOLIDAYS…

MY 1939 LIONEL TRAIN

MY 1939 LIONEL TRAIN

 

DSC08691

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise

ChristmasPast

CHRISTMAS – 1946   I was seven years old and when my father opened the wooden sliding doors to what we called the front room known today as the living room, the first thing I saw was a strange set of metal tracks circling the Christmas tree. At one end there was a large wrapped package with my name on it. My father lifted the box to reveal a Lionel Lines Passenger Train. I think the only person more excited than I was, was my father. Under the guise of showing me how to operate the train, my father actually got to play with it more than I did that first Christmas.

Because we lived on the second floor of a two family flat in the city, we really didn’t have the space to set up the train on a year round basis. So my father would set the train up every year for the next seventeen years. He probably would have set it up for an eighteenth year except for the brain aneurism that took his life on Halloween. I was in the Army then, and my family didn’t set up a tree that year.

For the Christmases that followed I always set up the tree and decorated it with my mother. But for some reason, I never did set up the old 1666 Prairie Steam Engine passenger train under the tree again. I figured that my mother had given it away to one of my brothers or Goodwill during one of her periodic “Got To Get Rid Of Some Of This Junk” closet cleaning rampages. Until early this week … when I was cleaning out the closet. It wasn’t a rampage though.

At the back of the second highest shelf I discovered an old cardboard box tied up with hemp rope. The remains of the original sealing tape were still on the carton and I noticed it had the Lionel logo on it. I brought it done from the shelf and sat on the floor to open it up. SURPRISE! Inside the box … still in their individual original orange and blue deco Lionel boxes were the locomotive and all of the cars from my old train set.DSC04762

The old plywood board we used to use for setting up the train is long gone. And I really don’t have the drive to set up anything more the 3-foot tall pre-lit  and decorated tree I put up every year. But I did want to display the train to honor my dad. I placed it on a section of track on one of the photo shelves in the living room where it was last seen 48-years ago. That’s my dad  (age 14) in the photograph behind old Engine 1666. His mother and father are in the middle photo, and the far right photo is the high school graduation photos of his three sons.

(You can click on the photo to enlarge to full image size.)

THREE SCENES FROM MY THURSDAY

SCENE 1LittleLambSTORY BEHIND THIS SCENE…

Last week I bought Christmas gifts for my new great-niece and -nephew. They were the cutest stuffed play toys that were square-shaped animals.

Lion Nichole’s toy was a bright yellow lion with a mirror on one side and butterflies on the other.

elephant Luke’s toy was a blue elephant with a stubby little trunk and huge wrap-around ears.

I thought they were both … oh so cute and perfect for babies learning how to play.

Apparently Mlle. Renee thought they were awfully cute, too. And every time she walked past the bed where they were waiting to be wrapped, she would sit down and look at them and give a little I really would like to have that whine.

This has gone on for several days. She never attempted to remove the toys from the bed … just the whine and the longing look.

OK, so I caved today. I went in the plastic bag of old stuffed animals and found a little stuffed lamb and presented it to her. She was so happy! She went around the house carrying it in her mouth.  And then she eviscerated the poor little lamb … another addition to her collection of unstuffed animals. And yes, she regularly plays with all the poor deflated creatures.

SCENE 2HolidayFlowersStory behind this scene …

No one ever sends me flowers. But, today, somebody bought me flowers … a beautiful bouquet of holiday cheer. Ok, it was me! I was at the local stupidmarket when I saw this bouquet as a store special. Knowing that no one else would buy me flowers, I bought them for myself. Sometimes I really surprise myself.

SCENE 3SnowBirdStory behind the scene …

While waiting for the bus to go to the stupidmarket I say another pigeon pretending to rule the roost.  This one was a white pigeon with blueish black wing tips and tail … also a dark cap.  I named him/her … SNOWBIRD. Even though there is no snow forecast for the extended future.

SCENE 4MayanOreoStory behind the scene …

I am now convinced that the entire brouhaha over the Mayan Calendar and the impending end of the world is a gigantic practical joke instigated by this darn Martians and/or other extraterrestrials who were visiting the ancient Mayans, Egyptians and sundry other ancient people looking for sites for interplanetary vacation timeshare. Look at that calendar, and tell me you don’t see a very old Oreo cookie.

That’s my life …

Santame

And welcome to it!