Low Fuel

For the first time in ages, both my wife’s car and mine were at near empty tanks. I finished driving my son to school and made it into the gas station with under 10km until empty.

Then I went home and took my wife’s car out and got fuel for her as well. Hers was at 42km until empty by the time I stopped. Getting back into routine after winter break had us forgetting to get gas. I have never run out of gas in my life in any of the vehicles that I have driven. Today was the closest for me.

When I was younger, my father took my sister and I on a road trip from Edmonton, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia. As we entered Jasper, he ran out of gas. He literally coasted in neutral into a gas station and had to get out and push the last few feet to a pump. This was in the early 80’s and he was driving an Oldsmobile. He loved that car- at least until he bought his 1977 Mercedes 450SL. The Benz was his baby. But I digress, the Oldsmobile was an extremely comfortable vehicle to travel in. But in today’s world- it would be quite the gas guzzler.

My wife’s car gets 650km on a tank of gas. I get 550km. I put in 54 liters into my car. My wife’s car took 40 liters. Her car is clearly far superior on gas mileage than mine. Plus it takes longer until she needs to stop for gas.

One day we will most likely own an electric vehicle and just need to worry about keeping it plugged in. Much like a cellphone I guess. At least then I shouldn’t be as worried about being dead in the water, right?

The Roy

An ongoing gag in our home is teasing one another and joking about names. Every one of our kids have had their names changed into various nicknames or puns.

Random has been called

  • Dom
  • Randy Candy
  • RahRah

Darwin has been called

  • DarDar
  • Dar-b-cute
  • Dardvark

Theory has been called

  • Theor Bear
  • Bear Bee
  • The Roy

There are plenty of other names, but these have stuck.

The Roy is probably my favorite. It came about at a speed skating meet when he first started about ten years ago. Someone had misspelled his name on the race sheets. Today I was handed a picture from his speed skating club with the same mistake. This is funny because they don’t know about this nickname.

Theory will always have the alter ego- The Roy. A speed skater extraordinaire who talks about himself in the third person. I find it humorous and hope it sticks for years to come- especially in the Speed Skating community.

Recaptured 80’s

I love nostalgia. It’s the one thing that I am often thinking about. I always share stories of my youth and seek out ways to relive those memories.

I follow a fantastic Instagram account that really taps into my 80’s desires. Recaptured 80’s. I love that there is new images added daily along with videos and polls. Following along has sparked memories I didn’t even know I had until I saw them once more.

My 80’s PJ top with iconic cartoon characters.

I’m just a big kid who loves his 80’s. From cartoons to movies; toys to video games; books to candy- it all brings me joy. Sometimes I put on some old cartoons in the background, like GI Joe or Transformers and enjoy the sounds as I live my life. In our pool I’ll play some 80’s favorites and rediscover some lost classics.

Our kids have also grown a love for 80’s films. So much so that they both bought rather expensive Lego sets for themselves with some of their Christmas money. The Delorean and Ecto-1. Both iconic cars from a couple of great 80’s films.

I’m glad that my passions have become my kids’ passions as well. They have even taken to loving music my wife loves. Our middle has taken over my wife’s records and has a love of the same music as my wife. Not to mention that our kids also steal our sense of amazing clothes and wardrobe style.

Have you passed on what you love to your kids? I know I’ve seen some pictures and stories from a few of you. I love it all.

Recaptured 80’s

I love nostalgia. It’s the one thing that I am often thinking about. I always share stories of my youth and seek out ways to relive those memories.

I follow a fantastic Instagram account that really taps into my 80’s desires. Recaptured 80’s. I love that there is new images added daily along with videos and polls. Following along has sparked memories I didn’t even know I had until I saw them once more.

My 80’s PJ top with iconic cartoon characters.

I’m just a big kid who loves his 80’s. From cartoons to movies; toys to video games; books to candy- it all brings me joy. Sometimes I put on some old cartoons in the background, like GI Joe or Transformers and enjoy the sounds as I live my life. In our pool I’ll play some 80’s favorites and rediscover some lost classics.

Our kids have also grown a love for 80’s films. So much so that they both bought rather expensive Lego sets for themselves with some of their Christmas money. The Delorean and Ecto-1. Both iconic cars from a couple of great 80’s films.

I’m glad that my passions have become my kids’ passions as well. They have even taken to loving music my wife loves. Our middle has taken over my wife’s records and has a love of the same music as my wife. Not to mention that our kids also steal our sense of amazing clothes and wardrobe style.

Have you passed on what you love to your kids? I know I’ve seen some pictures and stories from a few of you. I love it all.

January 3rd

Just another day it seems. Work is work. Family back to their routines. Now much going on to report. No real progress on my new hobby as I don’t have a lot of time to work on it today.

But life is good. And I kind of like that it’s just passing by periodically without much action. Not every day needs to be momentous or exciting. Some days have to be just another day. That way you can appreciate those “out of the ordinary” days.

I enjoyed my quiet time at home for my Christmas Vacation. The food was good, not rushing around was pleasant, and just relaxing with my family is what I needed. A few days back to work and my mental health battery is still recharged. That’s good. Only one more work day and then some time to myself while the rest of the family does their thing.

I’m feeling good. Life is good.

How are you doing post holidays? Is your battery level okay?

Twelvetide

January 2nd. Back to work. Kids are heading back to school tomorrow. Christmas season is over, right? Not if you follow the idea of The 12 Days of Christmas also known as Twelvetide. That ends January 6th.

Respectfully, that is the date at which we take down our Christmas Decorations, the trees, and lights. Our home will once again feel open and clean. As a bonus, our electric bill will go down since lights won’t be sucking power for hours on end.

Half of our neighborhood has already been taking down lights and decorations until next December. I won’t be the first, but we also won’t be the last.

Do you follow the Epiphany? Or have you already taken down the feeling of Christmas in your home? Or perhaps you leave the decorations out a bit longer.

Day One of a New Hobby

Today I finally saw some progress in My New Hobby- Tufting. After getting My Little Corner ready the other day, I have been frothing at the mouth to try making my first rug.

It started with a design. I wanted to try something elegant and easy. I chose “L“ for my wife. Besides it being the letter of her first name, it’s also from one of her favorite anime shows- “Death Note”. I took the image, reversed it, shone it from my projector onto the back of the fabric- where I traced it out with a sharpie.

Then came the fun part! Using the tufting gun. It was a neat process and once I got going, my confidence grew. I started with the outline of the letter, then filled it in.

It wasn’t necessary to keep the lines or yarn touching as it filled out pretty good. My wife gave a couple of tries as well. I think she may want to tuft in the future as it is a very satisfying sound and feeling.

The way the yarn comes out thick a full makes me happy. The rug is already feeling very soft and looking pretty. Obviously I hope to see some progress and get better at it.

After a couple of hours, I had made quite the mess and used two full things of yarn. I had to call it quits since it was getting late and I have work in the morning. There’s still a few more steps to go in the process before I can say I have made a rug. Like gluing the back to prevent the yarn from being pulled out. Or trimming the front so that everything is smooth and even looking. The final step is giving it to my wife to have.

Stay tuned for an update by the weekend on the final results.

End Of 2022

This year was another relatively good year for me. It had ups and downs, but mostly positive vibes. I don’t think I will change anything for 2023.

I am ending my year with a quiet evening with my wife, my kids, my sister and my niece. Even though we were invited out to a couple events, I honestly feel that spending tonight with the family who is here matters the most. I do appreciate and love my friends for always thinking of us and inviting us out. Sometimes I just need to know how loved we are with those invites.

Real plans for 2023? I am continuing my journey to be alcohol free. Which has not been easy. But since the end of November, I have done darned good at it. It feels as though it is never a good time to quit drinking. There is always celebrations, frustrations, or casual moments that a drink would feel fitting. Seeing friends share pictures, memes, or videos has made it difficult at times for me. A bit of FOMO happens. But I needed to do this for myself again.

My last length of time without drinking was only 300 days. I couldn’t even make a whole year. It started as just an occasional drink, but then I felt like I was becoming dependent on booze. Yes, I have shared numerous experiences drinking, having fun, and supporting small breweries. But I also have a tough time calling it quits each time. It was never just one drink. There were moments that I’d drink whatever I found in the house as well once I was out of beer. Like a scavenger hunting for scraps.

Feels True

As well, my body was not enjoying the years of abuse. Nearly three decades worth of drinking. I now feel more pains in my body than I remember. But my breathing and guts feel better after the last 30 days of sobriety. So I’m focusing on each day and doing my best to distract myself from the urge to drink.

That is my hardship. My Achilles heel. My crutch. Normally I just share positive stories in my blog. But today was about being truthful with myself and those who follow me.

2023 will be filled with courage to overcome more obstacles and set out on new adventures. Reconnecting with friends. Controlling my destiny. That’s my 2023.

THBBFT!

Sometimes you just have to stand up, step aside and say THBBFT! to your problems.

Today was that day for me. I was hitting a few roadblocks in my attempt to start my new hobby. Everything was starting to turn around at one point, then BLAM-O. Nope. Turns out the tufting gun’s power source was fried. I couldn’t even start with my first yarn. So I ordered a new power source. Hopefully by next week I can try again.

Walking away a bit frustrated sucks. I thought things were starting to look up after a few hiccups in getting my images to show up on my projector. That was a lot of trial and error, then perfection! I was so pleased that I was going to be able to start tufting before the end of the year. No such luck.

But I have some time now to look up more images or watch videos on tips and tactics of how to tuft. Perhaps I will use that time to organize my work space and arrange the flow. Whatever I choose, it won’t be actual tufting quite yet.

Oh well. Such is life.

My Little Corner

Today my wife and I tackled organizing her studio in the basement. We had discussed doing this over winter break, but Christmas came and then we were just avoiding it. Until today. Today we made progress!

February 2015- Ningen Headwear’s first studio.

Back in 2015, we turned a portion of our previous home into my wife’s studio. It was modest to say the least, but it accommodated all that she needed to do. It moved the sewing outside from our dining room table and spare bedroom. It made our home feel like a home.

Today we arranged and made a layout for my wife getting back into making hats. This room is larger than the last one. Plus it’s far cleaner and inside our home instead of in the carport. The electrical should also be far superior; and no sawdust or spiders making a mess. Bonus- it has its own bathroom!

My wife has graciously allowed a small corner for me to work on tufting. Actually, she set up the yarn and helped with the layout. I’ll get to tuft and watch tv while she does her sewing on the opposite side. This studio is becoming more of a cooperative setup than before. We are planning on utilizing the space as a hobby area for previous projects and new ones still to come.

In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out a good name for my rug making Instagram account. Do any of you have a suggestion? It could be a pun, or straight to the point. Gimme some ideas in the comment section!

New Hobby- Tufting

I love doing a variety of crafts and art. I enjoy sharing my art as well- not to make money or exposure, but because I am proud of what I make. I am often inspired by others and enjoy jumping in to try new stuff.

Newest obsession for art? Tufting! The art of rug making. Naturally I had to spend some money to buy things that are needed for this hobby. Here are some of the items I got.

This is a tufting gun. It is a cut pile style of gun. It will puncture through the fabric and cut the yarn as I go.

This is the razor I will use to clean up the strands of yarn on the visible side. I will also use it for some added texture to the rugs.

Sheep shears! Pretty industrial feeling. These will be used for more of the heavy labor of trimming the rugs.

Those are just the power tools I needed. The next thing I needed was a frame. So I went and bought some 2×3 boards and went to work building it earlier today.

This is what I want to call my “Starter Frame” It has a three foot square area to work inside of. I added adjustable legs depending if I am sitting or standing to do the work. I added carpet tacks along the frame so that the barlap style material used for rugs can be stretched out and held in place while I work.

My wife and I went to the store and bought a lot of yarn in many different colours. This is the foundation of the rugs. Each spool was around $3. I’m not sure how much gets used, but I will find out soon enough.

Tomorrow I will make my first rug. Sort of. I’m going to be more or less just be learning how the machines react and some basics. Stay tuned for my progress. I’m excited about this new hobby.

Hand-To-Hand Wombat

I supported a Kickstarter campaign a few months ago for a new board game. I received the game back in September, but kept it aside for Christmas. Last night we played it as a family. Welcome to Hand-To-Hand Wombat.

Mortal Wombat!

Because I backed the Kickstarter from the beginning, I got a bunch of extras for the game. Like a timed stopper, blindfolds,fuzzy cards, wooden wombats, and a neat fanny pack to carry those in.

The game is pretty easy. At the start you are dealt out a card. Only one person will be the bad wombat. All the rest are good. There are four pyramids to build that are six levels high. Everyone has their eyes covered and we all reach into the box and attempt to build the structures- except the evil wombat. They are also blindfolded and try to stop the structures before the timer ends. No one knows who the evil wombat is, so after each round a vote occurs. Unanimous vote means a person goes out. Even if they weren’t the evil wombat!

Talking is allowed to try and communicate while blindfolded. After each round you can try and convince each other who to vote for. Not until one of the teams gets to three points do you reveal your team card.

This game got pretty intense and we played only three matches. But it was chaotic fun! I recommend this game to those who like quick rounds. Plus it can be played with younger to older people without much difficulty.

Pick your copy up at Indigo and have a great time yelling at everyone!

Boxing Day With My Sweetheart

Post Christmas Day in Canada is Boxing Day. My wife and I opted to not do any shopping this year. We are going out later in the week, but not for any big sales. Just a few essentials for the home.

Instead of shopping- my wife and I are having a day of just the two of us. Our kids are doing their own thing- watching tv and playing video games, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have some quality time together. We put our phones into their new matching cases and headed out into the world.

We went for a Five Kilometer walk in our neighborhood. Most of the snow is gone now and the temperature was almost in the double digits at 9°C. A lovely afternoon together getting some fresh air.

For the balance of the afternoon, we are going to eat some leftovers for a late lunch followed by some video games together. My wife has requested that we play a classic for our family- Skylanders Giants. We are going to start the story from the beginning on our Wii-U.

Chances are we will play pretty steady for the next few days. I’m excited to re-play this game series as it was a ton of fun ten years ago! Let’s see if it holds up.

I hope you are all enjoying your holidays and time with family.

Christmas Eve 2022

Christmas Eve was a nice evening spent with my wife and kids. We had a lovely dinner where my son spent a few minutes trying to set up the perfect photo. He discovered it’s not as easy to get everyone to cooperate as he thought.

The kids did sit still for a quick picture after dinner. That’s because they were receiving their annual Christmas pajamas. After opening the gifts, they got changed and came back downstairs in their new wares.

When they arrived, we “watched” our traditional Christmas film- A Christmas Story. Our kids were more on their phones than paying attention, but hey- we were all in the same room together. Then it was bedtime.

Santa showed up immediately after they went to bed and laid out gifts for the family. The evening ended peacefully. My wife and I went to bed exhausted, hoping that the kids would let us sleep in.

Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope your day is as wonderful as ever.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 12-FAMILY

What better way to round off my 12 Days Of Appreciation than with FAMILY.

I love the time I have spent with my family over the last 40+ Christmases. From being a child and unwrapping gifts to watching my own children do the same. Christmas is the one time of year that I have the fondest memories of family time.

As a child, it was the time that I can recall my father being his most jovial and pleasant. He would sit with us on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Morning. He would share stories, laugh at our innocence over believing him, and genuinely allow a more emotional fellow to come out. When he smiled, it really lit up the place.

As a father myself, I always do my best to make sure our kids were getting extra quality time at Christmas. If they want me around for playtime, movies or video games- I am there. Their enjoyment of the season is paramount every year. I always share numerous stories and memories of my children. They are the best gift I have ever received, as cliché as that might sound, it is true.

Spending time with the family you love is important. It’s a time to set aside differences and do your best to share the happy stories of years past, as well as live in the moment so you can talk about it in the future. I have had difficult moments in the past with my parents and sister, but somehow we always get through it and work on being better.

As I finish my 12 Days of Appreciation, I want to wish everybody a safe a joyous season!

Lots of love, from your Daily Blogger, Josef.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 11-FRIENDS

How could I not mention how much I appreciate my friends in my appreciation posts? That would be silly and unheard of- especially for me. I love my friends tremendously!

Over the years I have made hundreds of friends. A few of whom have lasted for decades now. Those who I rarely speak with or see in person, I still try and interact with via various social medias. Everyone I have accepted as a friend has played a significant role in my life. Some are like “The Butterfly Effect” where it was a small encounter, but made a big impression. Other people have gone by the wayside and just moved on, the same with me.

I can honestly say that my friends have been there for me when I needed them most. Through losses, parenting woes, work, depression, or even celebrations, birthdays, and adventures- having friends there for me has made all the difference in the world.

Solstice 2022

Opening our home to friends has always made me happy. I love having them mingle and just relax in a warm and loving environment. As busy as life can get, I love that my friends are there for me when I need them; even for a quick text or call.

I’ll always be there for them as well. I have a special spot in my heart for each and every one of them. I wish all my friends the Merriest of Christmas! Thank you for being there for me over the years! We have had such great times and made wonderful memories.

If you have a memory of me you’d like to share, please do! I can only scroll through so many thousands of pictures to add to my blog. If you aren’t pictured, do not worry, I still care about you!

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 10-MEMORIES

For whatever reason, Christmas is one of those times every year that I look back on previous years with fondness. I appreciate all of the memories of Christmas past. If you follow me on a regular basis, you know that I love to share my memories. I am a sucker for nostalgia.

Reliving the Christmas years from my childhood is a blast. I will always remember those years of Lego sets and video games. Being that I was four years older than my sister, I was also tasked with putting together her Barbie accessories. Not much changed when I had my own kids. I sat with them and assembled their toys.

I have so many great memories of Christmas. Most of them are over the last couple of decades with my own family. From silly times and fun gifts- Christmas always made me smile. Somewhere between my childhood Christmas and my children’s Christmas was memories of Christmas Day being just another day.

When I was in my late teens/ early twenties hanging at my parent’s home on Christmas Day didn’t overly happen. I spent time with other friends just hanging out. Honestly, as depressing as it was- looking back, those few years were calm and nice in their own way. No pressures, no big hoopla, a few gifts exchanged and maybe a quick visit to mom and dad to load up on food. As short lived as that span of Christmas was, I am glad that I had those ones as well. It really made me appreciate the ones before that time and the ones I have experienced since.

Unpacking Christmas decorations and going through old pictures always make me smile. Sometimes my eyes fill with tears of the moments I should of had or could have had if things were different. Losing my father before he became a grandfather is still an emotional struggle at times. Losing a few years as a young adult when I could have made amends with him also sting.

But most of my memories are pleasant ones. And photos at Christmas are hard to choose my favorites to share.

How are your memories of Christmas? Was your childhood filled with joy? Or perhaps being a parent now is joyous. Let me know in the comments.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 9-HOME

My life is incredibly blessed with everything that we have worked towards over the years. My biggest appreciation of all of our possessions is our home.

We wouldn’t be here without hard work and help from our parents. They helped us out financially, and we paid them back after years of struggling. Almost 20 years of homeownership I can honestly say that I am so happy with where we have gotten to.

The biggest thing for me is to open up our home for friends and family. Tonight being the winter solstice, we have some close friends coming over for laughs, food, and general good times. That’s what having a home is for. To open up your doors to the ones you love.

Every Christmas I have spent in my home. Even growing up- traveling or going away at Christmas never happened. Christmas was a time to just appreciate what you have and stay warm throughout the winter season.

I appreciate our home and all those who are invited in to share our space. I hope that over the holidays your home is as warm and wonderful as ours.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 8-HEALTH

From food to gift giving, being healthy at Christmas is another thing I appreciate.

I have not been the healthiest of people since pretty much my birth. I had an upper lobectomy on my left lung when I was two. I have had some severe asthmatic attacks and have always struggled with high endurance activities causing stress on my lungs. Because of a compromised respiratory system- every year I get the flu shot.

80’s Toy set.

As a child I often had ear infections and caught colds quite easily. I recall one Christmas morning in the early 80’s where I had a stomach bug. I was throwing up all day long. But as a child, it didn’t hinder my play time. But I do remember my mother making my play in the kitchen with some of my new toys, so that if I threw up, it would be on the linoleum. I have memories of peanut butter barf and The Dukes of Hazard toy set.

In the year 2000, my future wife and I were about to celebrate our first New Years together. I had the luxury of catching the flu. I’m not going into detail about how I caught it, but let’s just say I am an idiot and my wife can tell you the story of you ask. Needless to say, I was bed ridden that night. So we played numerous Disney DVDs that I owned followed by “Flesh Gordon and the Cosmic Cheerleaders.” I’m not sure if it was the hallucinations from the flu, or if this movie is really that odd.

I believe it was 2009 when I got hit with H1N1 and was laid out for three weeks in November of that year. I was better by Christmas, but damn if it didn’t feel like I was on my deathbed. Again, I was having fever dreams and tripping balls as for days on end.

November of 2017, I went to the doctor because I was having some difficulty swallowing food. I ended up getting a barrage of tests done. By Christmas, I had a diagnosis and was given two options. Take some pills or go through the rigamarole of testing if I have food allergies. Naturally I chose the pills and have been better ever since.

When Covid arrived, my paranoia kicked into full gear (I’m sure some of you did as well). I avoided people as much as I could. I have gotten every booster shot as soon as I could. Having suffered the Swine Flu, I never wanted to get hit hard with Covid. Especially since I am down half a lung.

I mentioned all of this because I am happy to be as healthy as I am. I’m not in perfect health, but I am very conscious about my limitations. I appreciate what the doctors have done for me over the years. I still see my family doctor as required. Even if I don’t deem it necessary (finger in the bum time is overdue.) But I appreciate my health, it allows me to spend Christmas with my loved ones every year.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 7-FOOD

Christmas is a time of over indulging. I appreciate all the food that comes out at this time of year.

Every year, my wife and I stockpile meats and cheeses. We set out these spreads on the Winter Solstice and continue to graze through the remaining bits until January rolls around. Adding to the delightful feast, I also make “Fancy Sandwiches” which is a recipe I learned from my father many years ago. His tradition was to have them ready for Christmas Eve. Honestly, 30 sandwiches hardly lasts in our home- and it’s just my immediate family eating them!

My wife and I also do a lot of baking during this time. Specifically cookies. A few years back, we would fill large tins with a variety of treats and give them to my wife’s brothers. One year we gave away tins to about a dozen different families who came over to celebrate solstice with us. Needless to say, we love cookies at Christmas, but if we start too soon, we have to make another batch (or two.)

Everyone has traditions involving food at Christmas. Besides “Fancy Sandwiches” we also make schnitzel and liver ball soup on Christmas Eve. And yes, the kids do enjoy the soup. But only once a year as it is fairly rich and heavy. But that’s a tradition my father did for us growing up, so it was nice that my wife wanted to keep it up. I hope our kids will pass it on to their future families and such. Plus we also do a fondue on New Years Eve. That is a family favorite by far!

What are your favorite foods or traditional meals that you enjoy over the holidays?

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 6-GIFTS

I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that GIFTS are a big part of Christmas. Of course I appreciate getting gifts, but more importantly- I enjoy gift giving.

Christmas morning was the one time that I can always remember my father with a smile on his face as we opened presents. That same sensation came over me as my children unwrapped their gifts. Supplying all their dreams of merchandise coming true. Not every gift was a toy or video game. Most new clothes arrived under the tree as well.

I can’t forget about the stockings either. They were stuffed full of treats like deodorant, toothpaste, hair ties and the occasional chocolate. We always start with stockings before unwrapping anything else. It’s a great teaser prior to getting started into the fun stuff.

You might be thinking that we spoil our children. Perhaps you are right. However, we rarely buy and give anything to them throughout the year. We tend to stockpile our gifts until Christmas Day. That means that a game or toy was saved until that morning to be gifted to them. Same with specific clothing items. As our kids become adults, we are listening to what they desire throughout the year as well and do our best to help in making their lives easier.

I do enjoy unwrapping gifts as well. Especially the ones my kids have given me over the years. The joy when they hand it to me to unwrap and the explanation of why they bought it or how to use it has been extremely fun. The smile on my face is genuine as I do my best to see who I am through my kids’ eyes and why they got the gift they did for me.

Over the years we also gifted experiences to the family. A trip to Tokyo, concert tickets, etc… sometimes those fall flat at first, but when the event arrives, it’s pretty spectacular. It’s sometimes hard to feel joy when you don’t have a physical item to hold. Especially at a young age. But those memories last a lifetime.

Do you enjoy gift giving? Or do you prefer getting surprised at Christmas? Let me know in the comments.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 5-MOVIES

Christmas isn’t Christmas without holiday films. Like most folks, I have a few that are personal favorites that are a must watch every year. I even have specific dates for a couple of them. Now, we can all agree that most of the Christmas movies out there are filler and cliche- especially those Hallmark ones. Sometimes those are good as background noise where you look up from your phone periodically.

But the ones that hit home- right in the nostalgia senses- are the ones I appreciate most. I do love “Gremlins” and “Die Hard” plus a handful of other films. But these are the ones I want to address today. (Sorry Wiggles, you guys are only for decorating the tree and not quite a film in the broad sense.) As well, those 60 minute or less cartoons aren’t a part of this list because they are always a part of Christmas viewing for nearly everyone.

Every year, on the first weekend of my kid’s winter break from school- we watch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. This has got to be the best way to start off the Christmas season. A father trying his damnedest to make the best Christmas for his entire family. Not an easy task when things are going wrong constantly. Some of my favorite Christmas quotes come from this film. “I don’t know Margo!”

“Elf” and “Dr Seuss How The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” both have a soft spot in my family’s hearts. I much prefer the live action Grinch over Elf. But I do find certain scenes amusing in Elf. Both films have great watchability for all ages and are kind of timeless still.

“Scrooged” with Bill Murray is a fantastic adaptation of Charles Dickens immortal classic, Scrooge. (See what I did there? Quoted the movie directly). This film hits me in the feels with a toaster. It influenced me to not want to climb a corporate ladder as you will miss out and push aside people who care about you and people you care about. It is on the verge of not holding up because of being set in a television studio, but I love it so.

My absolute favorite film is “A Christmas Story”. Back in the early 90’s a tv station called TBS played this film nonstop for 24 hours from Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. I had a tv in my bedroom and remembered for a few years in a row that I would let it play and lull me to sleep. I love the story telling in this film and it remains unrivaled to this day. It is relatable to all generations at all times. I still watch this film on Christmas Eve as a way to end the night before Christmas Morning.

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies? Let me know if you like the ones I enjoy.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 4-MUSIC

It sure wouldn’t be Christmas without Christmas Music! This is an easy Appreciation post. As a child growing up in a Catholic School, I learned many Christian hymns and classic choir style songs. At home, my father would play the radio on Christmas Eve and we would listen for the Santa Tracker news reports until bedtime. Christmas music has always been a big part of the holidays.

I start to sneak in a little bit of Holiday cheer starting in October but playing the soundtrack to The Nightmare Before Christmas. That plays into November periodically. By November 25th, I start into more Christmas Classics.

Every year at the end of November and first week of December, I noticed there was a preview of Sirius XM. My car and my wife’s car are equipped to have Sirius XM, but after an initial introduction to it, we cancelled back in 2017. However, one of the most fun songs we ever heard at Christmas was Jing-a-Ling. Our two oldest had a blast bouncing along to it.

I put on the radio again on December 1st and was promptly out of our yearly game of Whamageddon. That hurt. But now I don’t have to be fearful waiting to find out if I’ll lose.

This year I have been enjoying some Jazz renditions of Christmas music on Spotify. They are nice background piano and horn pieces that can fill the room with an ambiance unlike any other.

Are you a fan of Christmas music? When do you start playing it? Let me know in the comments.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 3-Lights

It wouldn’t be the Christmas season without lights! I love Christmas lights and always have. When I was a child, the outside lights that hung from the roof strung right past my bedroom window. There was no specific sequence of colours- just glass bulbs. Some painted solid colours others were clear. My bed was under the window and I would fall asleep staring up at the lights. One would flash randomly off and on. It was magical to me as a child.

As I grew older, I began having Christmas lights and a small tree in my bedroom. I wanted the magic to be around for the whole winter and the lights stayed on over night; every night. Our next home also had the lights outside my window. Only this time there was a peak, so I got to enjoy twice the lights. My father had changed our lights to be two red and two green alternating now.

Now that I have my own home and can decorate for our family, I have the Christmas lights up on the outside of our home and on by December 1st every year. This year we bought all new lights and everything is warm white. I love how we match more of the neighborhood and it really suits our home much better.

Of course the Christmas trees need lights as well. Over the years we have done multi-coloured, straight red, and now white. I like having matching lights inside and out. It adds a sense of elegance. Christmas lights just brighten my day and I love seeing them everywhere.

Even yesterday I added some lights to our palm tree in the backyard. This is not just to look festive, but also functions to keep it warm as the temperatures drop as we crest into winter.

Are Christmas lights a favorite of yours as well? Show me your lights in the comments or send me a link to Instagram! I’d love to see them!

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 2-Decorations

I love decorating for Christmas. I am one of those people who start decorating on November 1st and finish around now. This has always been my favorite part of the transition from Halloween to Christmas. It’s a slow and gradual season change for our home.

I have always loved putting up decorations. As a child, I would put up handmade snowflakes in my room and I even made winter scenes for my toys on display. With the use of craft paper and white cotton batting- my toys enjoyed a winter wonderland. As I grew older, I continued to make my own decorations and put them out. Sometimes I even made decorations and gave them away to specific folks.

Over the years, my wife and I have changed our styles of decorating. For a while it was whatever hand-me-downs and handmade decorations and ornaments we had. Now it’s still some of our own handmade decorations, yet the new ones have become more elegant and comforting.

Soon there will be a time when some of our decorations will be given to our kids. They have been given ornaments over the years that they will take as they start their own decorating and traditions. At that time, I wonder if our home and trees will feel emptier.

A favorite picture of me after decorating.

But for now, I love seeing our home decorated for the festive season. I also enjoy being inspired by others and how they decorate their homes. Christmas decorations bring me joy and really get me energized for Christmas.