Celebrating Winter Solstice 2017

Today we are having a feast with friends and family. Food, fun, music, booze and a celebration before Christmas break hits.

I love entertaining people. Having guests over makes me feel like I’ve done some good in the world. Having everyone leave with full bellies and a bit of cheer makes me happy.

Happy Winter Solstice everyone!

Jing-A-Ling

After my daughters’ Large Ensemble performance yesterday, we drove home listening to Christmas music. We had Sirius XM Holiday Traditions playing when a song came on that got us all hyper. It was one that I don’t remember ever hearing before. I know it was a classic because it had that sound of old Christmas songs…

The Andrews Sisters were belting out a quick paced “Jing-a-ling Jing-a-ling” in our car. The golden age of the swing era had us smiling and laughing the entire way home. We kept reciting the lines over and over with a rigorous “HAHA! HOHO!” thrown in. When we got home, both girls were excitedly asking to buy the song on iTunes.

I forked over the 99¢ to purchase the song. Within moments, it was on three of our cellphones ready to play. Instant gratification. No waiting for the radio to play it again in their rotation. No having to wait until the next day to see if the record store would have it in stock.

Today consisted of my daughters playing the song for their friends in school. A classic Christmas tune from 1951 brought to life by a couple of teen girls in 2017. When I picked them up from school, we listened to it again in the car. Never in my life did I expect such joy to be found in a Christmas song.

There are many holiday songs that we love to sing along with, but this New to Us song will be remembered for years to come.

“Jing-a-ling Jing-a-ling”

Jazzy Warm Up

Tonight is the final concert of 2017 at our children’s school. We have arrived early (as usual) to drop off our kids and get good parking. The show starts at 7pm, but the teachers want the students here 30-60 minutes early for warm up.

My wife and I are pretty much the first in line to go into the auditorium. The doors are open slightly and the senior jazz band is doing one last rehearsal to test the acoustics and microphones. As we wait outside the doors, we are getting treated to some well performed jazz.

The kids at this school put a lot of effort into their performances. I enjoy coming to these shows to hear them. Being a Fine Arts School, there’s always a higher caliber of skill sets. As we hear the warm up, I’m happy that we got our children into this school. I’m proud that they have taken on the challenges as well.

As we wait for the show, I get to speak with other parents of these talented children. This is the kind of show that packs an auditorium. Line ups are forming for the door and the ticket booth with still forty minutes before the performance begins. I’m glad to be here early enough to be able to get a great seat with my wife. The show will be sensational. I’m looking forward to it.

Alvin & The Chipmunks & Me

When I was younger I listened to “A Chipmunk Christmas” album over and over and over… and over… I memorized every song- word for word. I even followed along in the storybook and memorized that as well. Not bad for a five year old boy back in 1981.

I would sit in my bedroom on my bunk bed and daydream about being a part of the story. I listened to the record so much that the needle wore out on my record player. Not to mention a couple scratches were made as I attempted to play songs on repeat.

I also tried to draw the Chipmunks (with me in their world). Living in Edmonton as a child made it easy to imagine a winter wonderland. As the years went on, I watched cartoons and fantasized even more about living in magical worlds. A part of me never wanted to grow up.

And I kept my album.

Last year, we gave our daughter a portable record player. She listened to my album as her first ever record on the player. It made me happy to know that I was able to pass on a bit of magic. Even if she is a teenager, she still loves sharing in my nostalgia.

When she played the album, I sat with her. The little boy inside of me smiled with joy. A feeling of butterflies inside my stomach overcame me. The Chipmunks have brought me joy for over 35 years.

This week I plan on listening to the album again. Probably when I’m alone in our peaceful and serene home before Christmas break.

The golden harmonica will fill my heart with joy once more.

I Hear Dead People

It’s the Christmas season. It means Christmas songs are everywhere. Many songs performed by artists who have long since passed. A bit of sadness overcomes me every time I hear one of these artists:

  • Bing Crosby
  • David Bowie
  • Elvis Presley
  • John Lennon
  • George Michael
  • Tom Petty

Numerous more artists have died who also performers carols and Christmas songs. All of these are beautiful songs shared every year. There is a certain joy heard in each of their voices. A joy that continues to be shared with audiences even though they are no longer with us. As sad as I may be hearing their melodies, I know they performed to bring happiness to all.

Let their legacy live on in a time of cheer when we need it most.

I’m a Bad Husband

The title of today’s blog could be considered a lie. I’m usually a great husband (tooting my own horn). But I decided to do something all wives hate right before Christmas- Home renovations.

Yes. I have become that man. The one who is using his time off to redo our 1/2 bath. One week before Christmas.

It’s not all my fault. Really.

I was supposed to have some vacation time back in November, when I had this project planned out. But things changed. And my time off moved. Which I was totally okay with. I don’t think I’ve ever had December vacation before.

So now I’m tiling a cramped 3 foot by 6 foot room. They always tell you to add 10% for waste. But I can’t figure out the formula for how long a project takes. I’m already 12 hours into it and don’t see an end in sight. I’m regretting starting this project ten years ago……. but it has to get done. There was never going to be a good time to do it. I’m sure I could’ve hired someone, but I like doing this sort of thing on my own.

The hardest part is knowing how much there is still left to do. New toilets and vanity to install after the tiles are all done. And the tiles are at least two more days of work. Mostly because I am a perfectionist, every row needs to be level and precise. No cutting corners!

I’m content to be doing stuff like this during my time off from work. Sure, travel would be nice as well. But knowing that I will have a nice looking bathroom once it’s all said and done, is a great sense of accomplishment.

So, even though I may be a bad husband for doing a home renovation project right before Christmas- it’ll be a nice gift once it’s all completed. I’ll be back in the good books then.

Old and Broken

Old and broken is how I feel. I am sore. All over sore. Headache. Back pain. Muscles aching. Even emotionally drained. You name it, I am feeling it.

It seems that the teddy bear sitting beside me shares my pain. Not much we can do about it but throw a bandaid on our wounds and push onward. Work through the pain and put on a brave face. A face that will make others smile when they see us, even though we hurt.

Old and broken. That’s how I feel. But it’s not what others see.

Next Generation Of Milestones

When you have children, there are tons of exciting milestones at a young age:

  • First step
  • First tooth
  • First word
  • First Christmas

Then they get a couple years with a few moments here and there until first day of school. After that there’s not a whole lot more that you can get excited about. About ten years pass by until the next set of milestones.

  • First job
  • First love
  • First car

I won’t celebrate their first kiss. That’s a personal moment- but it’s kind of a big deal for pre-teen/teenagers. Let them enjoy it. Driving their first car or getting a job- that’s a step into adulthood. A scary realization that this is the next stage of life.

Today, our fifteen year old daughter went for a job interview. Sort of. It was more a meet and greet for an opportunity of employment. A former coworker of mine messaged me that her work was looking for some extra part time help. It was nice of her to think of me and my children. It also made this a bit easier for a first job opportunity to our oldest daughter.

So I took our eldest daughter to meet the owner. For the past couple of days I tried to prepare her for what may happen at an interview. The questions asked, the answers she should give, I also told her to study up on the business as well. Driving there, we went over everything again. She was nervous. She was ready to give up before even entering. But she knew she had an opportunity here to get out of the house and make some money.

We walked in and were greeted with some smiles. I saw my former co-worker and introduced my daughter. I then let them be, because as much as I want to tout all the great things about my daughter to an old friend and a prospective boss- this was about my daughter using her courage and showing off who she is. From what I could tell, his afternoon went really well.

We shall see how it goes now. Will she get a call back? Will she be able to do the job? Will she enjoy it? In the end, it’s been a good learning opportunity for my daughter. Whether anything comes of it or not. It has started something deep inside of her- a drive to enter the adult world.

Sharing Plans

I’m currently on a “stay-cation” before Christmas. My first day was with my wife as we wrapped all the Christmas gifts for our children. I also had to run a quick errand to put insurance on my car (I completely forgot about it and the insurance ran out yesterday). The rest of my afternoon was taken up with driving our children home from school and to speed skating. None of this is what I had planned for today.

I wanted to start my day at Home Depot. I have been trying to finish our ensuite bathroom for almost ten years. I was going to buy tiles, toilet, faucet and all the other parts/supplies to finish the project.

That was my goal. Unfortunately, my wife had made other plans for my time off.

I realize that I may not get this project completed, let alone started, this week. My time off is going to be spent doing things to help out around the household instead. I didn’t realize how much my wife has to do on a regular basis as well as run her own business. This is also the last crunch for her Christmas sales and she wants to complete those orders.

What has happened is a common occurrence for couples. I had plans for my time off- my wife had other plans. Neither of us communicated our plans. I had every day laid out for my time off. My biggest drawback was not sharing or discussing with my partner. She too has every day planned out until Christmas. Without either of us getting upset, we had to make a game plan. A plan that meets both our needs.

I still get to go shopping at Home Depot. My wife still gets time to focus on her business. Somewhere in the mix we will focus on the kids…

Variations in Music

I was driving home tonight listening to Sirius XM Holiday Traditions. Usually some classic Christmas melodies and songs are played that everyone has heard at some point. These are calm and soothing as I drive home from work.

I was pleasantly surprised when an instrumental rendition of “My Favorite Things” was played. The biggest difference from the original song (and most music on this station) was that it was up beat and cantina sounding. It got me grooving and wanting to race home. The song must’ve been really good because the main part of the instrumental is still in my head. And I’m bobbing around humming it.

I enjoy when artists take an original piece and add their own colour to it. It shows off their talents out loud. These are a few of my favorite things