Seven!

Holy smokes people! I have been writing for Seven Years now! Every single day!

All I can say is THANK YOU!

Thank you for reading my blog.

Thank you for supporting me.

Thank you for interacting with me after reading my blogs.

Thank you for coming along on this journey called life.

Thank you for sharing your experiences in relation to my stories.

Thank you for being a friend.

Thank you for a fun filled seven years.

I have really enjoyed writing about my life and thoughts over these past few years. It has been load of fun and a bit embarrassing at times. But that’s life. Full of surprises. Like how did I get through writing every day for seven years? No clue. I just did.

Seven Year Itch?

Six years, eleven months, three weeks and six days. A total of 2556 days of daily blogging.

Tomorrow is the seven year anniversary of writing each and every day. EVERY SINGLE DAY I WRiTE A BLOG ENTRY. I love sharing stories and narratives of my life. Throw in an opinion or two- and my readers have had a chance to learn all about me.

I have had a great time writing all of my tales. I honestly can’t believe that the only thing driving me to write is because I want to. Had I been writing a novel each and every day, I’d probably be published by now or completely heartbroken from rejection. Hence why I just write about my life. I like what has gone on and am proud of my adventures- from menial to epic. Whatever the case may be, I have never felt dejected from my writing. Even if it feels like no one is reading.

I wonder how much more writing I have in me. I wonder if I stopped would I feel regret or would I feel relief? Only time will tell if I end this journey. I mean honestly, have I approached the Seven Year Itch now? Who knows. Even I’m not sure. But if I do stop, I’ll let you know ahead of time as a courtesy to say farewell.

Another Tufter In The Making

Every weekend, I have been making rugs. I have been really enjoying this hobby. Last weekend, our youngest wanted to make one of his own- so he made an 8-Ball. Today our middle child wanted to make their own rug. I went through the process of how to do it, guiding them along.

Darwin traced the image and we discussed the colors to use. I only helped with a couple of stitches, but the rest was all them. (I snuck in another soot sprite in the blank space when we had the black and white yarn set up.) I sat by Darwin’s side and continued to offer advice as well as encouraged the work being done.

The image Darwin chose is the moon from the anime- “Soul Eater”. This was a family favorite a few years ago. In fact, we did a family dress up for Halloween as the characters from the show- and then went trick or treating in Disneyland. It was a lot of fun.

Darwin wants this rug for their bedroom floor for when bedtime comes around. Tomorrow afternoon, we will finish the rug. A bit of me is selfishly enjoying the quality time that my kids wanted with me. Spending time with our kids is worth every moment of making these rugs.

How many rugs is too many rugs when I get to spend time with my growing adult kids doing something we both enjoy?

There’s never going to be enough. I’m lucky they want to do this with me.

Third Monday Of The Year

Hey folks. Welcome to the third Monday of the year. Also known as “Blue Monday” the most depressing day of the year.

Hey, at least we get it out of the way at the start of the year, am I right? Emotions are drained from a busy Holiday season, so the “Feeling Tank” is running on empty. Getting past this feeling can be challenging.

It also doesn’t really help as those bills from Christmas spending are now arriving. Hopefully you didn’t overdo it trying to people please last year. That can be tough, especially when you have children. If you’re like me- you just want the best for them. If you’re also like me, paying bills is a fact of life.

But once we get through today, it all gets better. More sun is on the way to brighten our days. Perhaps a pay raise or new job is on the horizon. Now that we are going into recharge mode, seeing friends and family only periodically will be healthy. The feeling of rushing around should be gone.

We’re all in this together. So let’s get passed Blue Monday for a brighter tomorrow.

Improving My Tufting Skills

I have now made four rugs since starting my newest hobby- Tufting. Creating rugs based on our Fandoms has been fun so far. This week I made one with far more detail than my previous rugs.

I made Haku- the dragon from the anime: Spirited Away. This one had more colours, thinner segments and an attempt at blending that I hadn’t tried yet. I spent a couple of hours today trimming the image in order to make it pop more. I still have a long way to go, but I am enjoying this new hobby immensely.

Tuft working with yarn reminds me of Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street. So I finally created an Instagram account for my artwork: Tuftleupagus. (Tuftle-up-a-gus). I even had some fun making logos, but haven’t settled on any yet.

I think I’m obsessing too much with the 80’s lately. However, I am having fun with this hobby. No plans on making it lucrative yet. I still have a long way to go in the process of making these rugs. I’m also going to need to buy more yarn soon. My white and black are running low, plus there’s other aspects of the tufting work that I need to buy soon. Like more glue and backing for the rugs.

This is my first hobby that I have enjoyed since perler bead art almost a decade ago. That lasted for a few years mind you and I enjoyed what we made together as a family. I kind of see tufting going that route soon enough. With the potential to be a battle over who gets to make a rug.

Follow along with my rugs on my Instagram account. I’m going to keep working hard at getting better at these and hope to make a large scale rug one day.

Nice Vans.

A few weeks ago we did some shoe shopping. I needed new work boots- so we went to the Red Wing store. The lady was extremely knowledgeable and also remembered me being there in the summer buying boots for my son. That same day, my wife and I went out and bought new Sketchers for casual hiking.

Both of those sets of shoes have been slowly broken in since the purchase. Something about new shoes can either make your feet hurt or feel really good. There’s no in between. Except when it comes to Vans. There’s something different about those shoes.

The day before buying my work boots and hiking shoes, we hit the mall for our son to buy some shoes with his Christmas gift card. He loves Vans, so naturally his older sibling got him a gift card for the store. On a whim, I bought a pair for myself (my wife did as well… Huh- seems our son is the shoe influencer). It has been about 25 years since I last owned a skate shoe like these. I used to wear Vans and Converse all the time as a teenager.

They were the perfect shoe for hackysack. The abuse that my shoes went through as a teenager far surpassed the life expectancy of them each time. Yet I stopped buying them in exchange for cushioned soles and comfortable tread.

Tonight I put on my new Vans for the first time. They were neither comfortable or uncomfortable. They were just an extension of who I am and who I once was. When I got home, they went back into their box. I’m not sure I want to wear them all the time. Much like my son- I do plan on taking better care of these Vans compared to my youth. Yes, our son loves his shoes and is meticulous about keeping them nice. A very different teenage boy than I was.

So I’m going to be following his lead and take better care of my footwear.

Nice Vans.

A few weeks ago we did some shoe shopping. I needed new work boots- so we went to the Red Wing store. The lady was extremely knowledgeable and also remembered me being there in the summer buying boots for my son. That same day, my wife and I went out and bought new Skechers for casual hiking.

Both of those sets of shoes have been slowly broken in since the purchase. Something about new shoes can either make your feet hurt or feel really good. There’s no in between. Except when it comes to Vans. There’s something different about those shoes.

The day before buying my work boots and hiking shoes, we hit the mall for our son to buy some shoes with his Christmas gift card. He loves Vans, so naturally his older sibling got him a gift card for the store. On a whim, I bought a pair for myself (my wife did as well… Huh- seems our son is the shoe influencer). It has been about 25 years since I last owned a skate shoe like these. I used to wear Vans and Converse all the time as a teenager.

They were the perfect shoe for hackysack. The abuse that my shoes went through as a teenager far surpassed the life expectancy of them each time. Yet I stopped buying them in exchange for cushioned soles and comfortable tread.

Tonight I put on my new Vans for the first time. They were neither comfortable or uncomfortable. They were just an extension of who I am and who I once was. When I got home, they went back into their box. I’m not sure I want to wear them all the time. Much like my son- I do plan on taking better care of these Vans compared to my youth. Yes, our son loves his shoes and is meticulous about keeping them nice. A very different teenage boy than I was.

So I’m going to be following his lead and take better care of my footwear.

Stereophonic

I love listening to music. It’s often playing as background auditory sensory input in my life. Usually I have a Bluetooth speaker connected to my phone and just let it play. In that form, it just plays from one speaker location.

Lately, I have wanted to experience music the way it was intended- in stereophonic. My wife recently got two Bluetooth speakers that connect together and create a stereo sound of left and right. Tonight I tested them out while I relaxed in the tub. They worked really well and I enjoyed the sound they produced. A gentle sound that wasn’t too bassy or treble heavy.

My favorite headphones.

I do have a pair of amazing noise canceling headphones made by Panasonic. I’ve had them for a over a year, but tend to forget about them. Mostly because when I do use them, I don’t tend to have much time alone to really immerse myself in the sound they create. I am hoping to get more use out of them as I work on my new hobby. I will be in search of music that echoes from ear to ear more regularly. I found that not all music utilizes this.

Perhaps that’s because most folks just use one earbud or a single speaker like I do usually. There is no real point in artists experimenting like they once did. I’m not saying they don’t anymore, it’s just not the same as it once was when stereo first became prevalent.

Music is great and I want to enjoy it more frequently the way it was written and recorded. Time for more stereophonic listening.

Fandom Rug Making

Over the last couple of days I finished another two rugs. Spending about four hours on each rug seems to be average. These next two had more intricate designs in them. Both fandoms are near and dear to me, which is why I chose to make these.

Akira has been my favorite anime since I first saw it as a teenager in the late 80’s. Something a bout the style, music, and pace of the film just captivated me. I own every iteration of it on video, I owned a shirt for almost thirty years from it, and the soundtrack has been in my playlist for ages. It seemed natural to want to do something from this film as my own personal rug.

The Powerpuff Girls was something that my wife and I connected over when we first started dating. Ever since then we have been enjoying finding items, gifts, trinkets, etc from the series. (Read more about our love of PPG Here)

I was able to put both on one framing this time. The Akira one will be going on my side of the bedroom opposite the The first one I completed for my wife. The Powerpuff Girls logo is going to my wife as a soft support for her wrists while she uses her work computer.

Both turned out pretty awesome. I completed the final touches on my Akira rug, and my wife wants to do the last bit on the Powerpuff Girls one. Now that I have a better understanding of how to tuft, I am looking forward to making more challenging pieces for myself. Next week, I already have an idea of my next one to make.

Any suggestions on what I should attempt next? Keep in mind that the size is under 36” square, so no area rugs at this time. But I do love my fandoms and anime. I have a feeling those will be the majority of what I make. Once I get good enough- I may just start to sell them.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.