Tag Archives: holiday

Holiday spirit

I do not have a large collection of holiday and seasonal decorations. I have some decorations for Christmas, a few for Halloween, and that’s it. 

What few I have, I like a lot. I believe part of continuing to like them is that they’re part of the decor only a short time each year, so each time I bring them out of storage it’s like meeting an old friend — sometimes one that I’d forgotten but am terribly pleased to see. Continue reading Holiday spirit

Give all the toys to the little rich boys

I’ve never been great at gift giving.*

Some years back, one of my sisters read a book, The Five Love Languages, which boiled down the ways people like to give and receive love into five “languages.” A person tends to be able to perceive love through one of these styles, and to give via one (although not by any means necessarily the same style).

Here are the “languages” (as I remember them):

  • Talk (saying sweet things to the other, compliments)
  • Spending time together (aka attention), doing things together
  • Gifts
  • Doing something for another
  • Touch

Thus: I might like to be told how wonderful/beautiful/amazing I am, but when I want to show someone that I appreciate them I could instead think the right thing to do is to give them a big hug.

So here’s the thing: I myself am big on the “spending time together” kind of love, and I’m really NOT into any of the other style. If you can find time to have lunch with me, I understand that you care about me. And if I can wrestle myself out of my hermetic hovel to share a meal or a drink with you, you should know that you are special to me.

(Let’s remember though that if I don’t attend your event, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I very well may think you rock socks. It might mean that I had a last-minute panic attack and needed to spend the evening sorting my actual socks. Please know that I stayed at home in panicky terror while feeling full of love for you.)

But so. Telling me that I’m terrific: not much effect. Giving me Tiffany earrings? I’m likely to rattle off a diatribe about blood diamonds. Shovel my snowy sidewalk? That I decidedly will appreciate, but I’ll view it as a debt and make plans to shovel yours in an upcoming blizzard. Give me a hug? I will hug back as best I can, and I will feel really, really awkward in the process.

Anyway. The Kinks’ classic holiday song “Father Christmas” always has held a special meaning for me. Yeah, give those gifts to the little rich kids. Give the money to the other kids who need it. But if you want to give me something, c’mon and let’s grab a coffee and chat.

* Can we please stop using “gift” as a verb? Where did this usage come from? Every time you “gift” something to someone, a tiny kitteh chokes on holiday ribbons.

25 days of Christmas

Oh hey! It must be December.

I’ve been scurrying through the last few weeks (months), head down and nose to grindstone, largely oblivious to the seasons. But I can’t help but notice that holiday music is back. Even my own iTunes has started playing it, unprompted by me.

The other night I turned on the TV for a small break, and WQED was showing a concert by Straight No Chaser. I recognized the name — I had blogged about their witty a capella version of “Twelve Days of Christmas” in 2007. Apparently the success of that YouTube video and recent interest in glee clubs has brought them fame, fortune, and a nationwide tour.

“Twelve Days of Christmas” by Straight No Chaser

All of which serves to remind me that I am far, far behind schedule in posting my annual Holiday Music Countdown. It’s already Day 2! And I don’t have a theme!

As it happens, last year I became so busy in December that I failed to finish my countdown of the 25 kookiest holiday songs. So the obvious solution is to resume that countdown, as if the intervening year had never happened. OK? OK!

The view from the snowflake truck

This Sunday morning, at the alarmingly early hour of 6:30am, I and a group of other volunteers for Butler Downtown helped to set up the electric snowflake decorations on Main Street, Butler, PA.

We volunteers unloaded the decorations from the special rigs they’re stored and transported on. In the photo above, we’re riding along on the truck with some extra decorations, back to Butler County Ford where they’re stored.

Linemen from Armstrong did the rather trickier work of lifting the decorations into their brackets and wiring them to the electricity. (Actually, I believe they just plugged them in with standard-issue electrical plugs. But there were other wires to work around and certainly more details than I know about.)

Good heavens, they were quick. We needed several trips to get the decorations into place, as they were stored on four different rigs and we had just one truck and trailer to transport them. By the time we got the larger snowflakes out on the street, the Armstrong guys had nearly caught up. When we came back with our second batch of the smaller, star decoration for the gas lamps, they were standing waiting, tapping their feet in the cold.

The whole thing took under two hours. Afterward, we went for breakfast at Linda’s South Side Restaurant, a classic diner. I had a massive and delicious potato pancake with sausage and some good coffee. I’d love to show you a photo of it, but there was not a chance to take one as I pretty much inhaled the food the moment it hit the table. Decorating Main Street is hungry-making work.

Ready for the holidays.

Tonight I went back to see the results of our endeavors. The street looks lovely, festive and bright. My iPhone can’t capture the scene — too hard to balance the strengths of the various light sources. I’ll try again with a better camera. But the shot above gives at least a small taste.

Kooky Christmas Countdown: #22 and #21

Continuing our Kooky Christmas Countdown of strange and wonderful holiday songs.

Number 22: "Five Pound Box of Money" by Pearl Bailey

Here’s a heartfelt plea from a practical woman.

Hey, Santa Claus!
You want to make me happy this year?
Listen to me honey.
Give Pearl something that’ll be of some use to me,
Like a five pound box of money.

Now there’s a little gift
That’s loaded with
Lots of sentiment
See, whenever I get blue, Santa,
I’m gonna think of you,
And at the same time I’ll have the change to pay my rent.

Money isn’t everything.
There’s no two ways about it.
But while we’re here,
Santa dear,
It’s much better with than without it.

You can listen to the song on YouTube. (If you find a video of her singing it, please let me know.) Or find it on Hipsters’ Holiday, one of my favorite holiday compilations.

Pearl Bailey was an award-winning Broadway performer, and as best I can tell she’s the only person who’s ever recorded this song.

If you’re interested, check out Miss Bailey on the Muppet show, in a particularly surreal clip made up of parodies of songs from musicals, thrown together in a Muppet version of Camelot (although none of the songs comes from the musical Camelot).

Number 21: "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses

Either you like this song, or you hate it, or you liked it the first couple of times you heard it and now you hate it, or you liked it and then hated it and now you’re back to liking it again.

I fall into that fourth camp. I think it’s the line "A&P has provided me / With the world’s smallest turkey" that does it for me.

Not sure if you know the song? Listen to it on Last.fm: "Christmas Wrapping."