Thursday, December 29, 2005

Three Cheers for the Book Worms!

This message goes out with a shoutout to all my friends who love reading as much as I do. Since I generally average a novel (~300 pages) per week I thought I'd take you on my year in review of the books I've read this year and also give you the chance to say "I've been meaning to pick up so and so's latest, how was it?" or "Oh I read that too - wasn't the horse kind of creepy?". (And if this list doesn't seem like one a week keep in mind that I know I'm forgetting some and a lot of these are in the 500+ pages category). Also, I want to post this to show my variety of reading habits. Although some authors make multiple appearances, I tend to jump from fantasy to romance to mystery to children's books to humor to general fiction pretty much at random.

Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden * Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman * Obsessed - Ted Dekker * Judas Child - Carol O'Connell * Lost - Gregory Maguire * Highland Fling - Katie Fforde * The Fallen Man - Tony Hillerman * Reliquary - Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child * The Historian - Elizabeth Kostovo * The Wailing Wind - Tony Hillerman * Winter House - Carol O'Connell * Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling * The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde * The Princess Bride - William Goldman * Life Skills - Katie Fforde * American Gods - Neil Gaiman * Magyk - Annie Sage * Second Thyme Around - Katie Fforde * Dead Famous - Carol O'Connell * The Promise of the Witch King - R.A. Salvatore * Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - Robert C. O'Brien * Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman * The Relic - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child * Black - Ted Dekker * Red - Ted Dekker * White - Ted Dekker * The Kite Runner - Kahled Hosseini * MYTH-taken Identity - Robert Asprin * Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell - Susannah Clarke * The Dark Tower - Stephen King * Song of Susannah - Stephen King * Wolves of the Calla - Stephen King * Wizard and Glass - Stephen King * The Wastelands - Stephen King * The Drawing of the Three - Stephen King * The Royal Treatment - Mary Janice Davidson * Wicked - Gregory Maguire * Artemis Foul - Eoin Colfer * Fire Ice - Clive Cussler * Brilliance of the Moon - Lian Hearn * Candy Freak - Steve Almond * Falling Angels - Tracy Chevalier * Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse - Robert Rankin * Monster - Frank Peretti * Chocolat - Joanne Harris

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas (12)

This series was supposed to wrap up by the 25th but it felt too weird to leave it with only 11. Here's a recap of the lyrics covered and the numbers will link you to the posts in case you've missed any or want to check out a specific topic: (11) Christmas day will always be, just so long as we have we; (10) When blossoms flowered 'mid the snow upon a winter's night 'twas born a child; (9) Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light; (8) So he said "Let's run and we'll have some fun now before I melt away."; (7) We three kings; (6) Oh tidings of Comfort and Joy; (5) The Twelve Pains of Christmas; (4) From Atlantic to Pacific, gee, the traffic is terrific; (3) Do they know it's Christmastime at all?; (2) Sing we joyous all together...Heedless of the wind and weather; and (1) It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Part Twelve: Wherever you find Love it feels like Christmas.

This is another more obscure lyric and I apologize to anyone who would rather me blog about Hark the Herald or O Holy Night (both of which were in the running and got bumped last minute for other songs). This one is the title lyric from the song sung by the Ghost of Christmas Present in The Muppet Christmas Carol (told ya it was obscure). I've always loved the story of A Christmas Carol* because to me it's a cool redemption message in a completely non churched package.
*I'll just assume at this point that you all are familiar with the story because Dickens was usually required middle school reading and even more likely I doubt that any of you managed to escape all thirty some film versions of the tale. (Choose from Alistair Sim, Bill Murray, Patrick Stewart, Kelsey Grammar, Michael Caine and the Muppets, and many more!)
The star of the story, Ebeneezer Scrooge, does a complete turn around with his life because, with the help of some ghosts, he comes to realize the true meaning of Christmas. The ghosts explain to him that he needs to go to church, read the Bible and pray more. No, wait... I meant that they tell him he needs a Christmas tree, better gift wrap, and cards to send to his relatives. Nope. Still wrong. Christmas isn't about being more religious. Christmas isn't about being more commercial.

Christmas is about what the ghosts really show Scrooge: love, helping the needy, and living for others. Loving people, serving the forgotten, self-sacrifice - sound familiar? It's Christ's message too. The funny thing about A Christmas Carol is that most film versions don't say much about Scrooge on December 26, 27, 28, etc but everyone knows that his changes weren't temporary. There's something about jumping into a servanthood lifestyle that brings a permanent revolution. A heart dedicated to love will choose no other path. When Scrooge swore that he would keep Christmas always in his heart he was promising to choose a life a love. As the Muppets sang: "Wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas".

For anyone feeling a little let down that the holiday is over, know that it really can last all year. With the love we share, any day can feel like Christmas. Today, tomorrow, forever. I know it's cliche but I can't resist: Merry Christmas to all and God Bless us, everyone.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas (11)

This is the eleventh of... you know the drill.

Part Eleven: Christmas Day will always be, just so long as we have we!

I'll leave the origin of this lyric as a guessing game, suffice it to say that it's one of my favorites - 50 cool points to whoever correctly identifies it (without a Google search). I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas though and that you all have the opportunity to enjoy it with whoever the "we" in your life is. Merry Christmas!

Love and blessings to all!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas (10)

This is number ten in what will hopefully be a twelve part series of blogs before Christmas (assuming I can get a blog a day in during my vacation time - woohoo!) relating life to lyrics from holiday songs and trying to be way more profound than I really have any right to be. Heh heh. Just kidding, here's your quick links for Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine.

Part Ten: When blossoms flowered 'mid the snow upon a winter's night, 'twas born a child...

I really couldn't tell you the name of this song. I think it's more of a medley type song where they added a cool lyrical intro to "Oh Come All Ye Faithful". I sang it in choir in junior high or high school and my steel trap mind has a penchant for recalling the lyrics. In fact I'll even write out the lyrics that I remember because it's really pretty but for reasons soon to be revealed I want to focus on the lyric above. Here's the total song:

When blossoms flowered 'mid the snow upon a winter's night
Twas born a child the Christmas rose, The King of Love and Light!
The angels sang, the shepherds sang, the grateful earth rejoiced!

And at His blessed birth, the stars - their exhaltaion voiced:
Venite Adoremus, Venite Adoremus, Venite Adoremus Dominus!*
(*Latin translation of O Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!)

Isn't that pretty? I wish I could sing it for you but (1) I'm talking to you via computer and (2) my singing might ruin the previous assertion of it being pretty. ;) Anyways, I wanted to bring up this song because the line "upon a winter's night 'twas born a child" seemed very appropriate in that as of yesterday, I have a new nephew! Talk about a great Christmas present - the miracle of life!

Sitting in the hospital holding that little baby, I couldn't help but think about the Christmas miracle. God - infinite, powerful and amazing - coming to Earth as a tiny infant, fully limited but fully God is a miracle indeed. I mean, have you ever really thought about how helpless babies are? They rely on others for everything - except maybe sleep, they do that pretty well on their own (...sometimes). But why would God, who could easily appear as a full grown human and avoid the poopy diapers, terrible twos, and awkward hormonal teenage angst years with the snap of a finger choose to take the form of a newborn child? I could give you all the churchy answers here: He needed to be seen as fully human; He needed to come into the world the same way as everyone else; by appearing as a baby His innocence was emphasized; the miracle of birth is God's greatest accomplishment; and blah blah blah. Not that they aren't good answers, but here's a different one to swallow.

God needed human love. How was Christ to survive as a baby if He wasn't nurtured? Sure the gold, frankincense and myrrh were AMAZING GIFTS but I imagine what Jesus wanted most on that first Christmas was to be near his mother. I bet He loved the adoration of the shepherds and the singing of the angels, but more than that, maybe He just wanted to be wrapped in loving arms and to have soothing words of comfort whispered in His ear. I know at this time of year churches fill to overflowing and many of them tell everyone who'll listen, "you need Jesus" but think just for a moment that perhaps Jesus needs you. The same way my new nephew wants to be held and swaddled, loved and cherished; The King of Love and Light, The Christmas Rose wants to be held. And loved. And cherished... by you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas (9)

This is part nine of what will hopefully be a twelve part series of blogs between now and Christmas reflecting on lyrics to holiday songs. As always, I love your comments so let me know what you think about individual posts or the series as a whole. And of course, here's the quick links to Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven and Eight.

Part Nine: Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light

This line is from O Little Town of Bethlehem. My favorite version of the song is the one done to the tune of House of the Rising Sun, but regardless of the melody it's a great song lyric-wise. Something that I think is really cool is how Jesus is referred to as the "Everlasting Light" shining in the dark streets of Bethlehem. It reminds me of the Chris Tomlin song How Great is Our God with the lyrics:
He wraps Himself in light and darkness tries to hide and trembles at His voice...
This idea of God as light for the world conjures up two images from my memory. First was a trip to Ohio Caverns sometime in middle school. I don't know how many of you have ever done cave tours but on this particular one, they took our group who-knows-how-far-down and for thirty seconds - to prove a point - they turned out the lights. It's the only time in a childhood marked with hide and seek games and playing outdoors at night that I ever remember being in complete darkness, literally unable to see my hand in front of my face. Even in those short seconds, panic crept in but was assuaged immediately when the switch flipped and light flooded back over the stone walkways. I always think back to that moment of light equaling hope when I consider the instantaneous moment that God's light entered a dark and weary world on the first Christmas.

The second memory this lyric reminds me of is celebrating Advent with my family. For those unfamiliar with the traditional Catholic celebration, Advent involves four candles - one for each week before Christmas - and every Sunday one or more candles are lit along with prayers and scripture readings and the number of candles lit signifies the number of the week. (Growing up with four kids in the house this was especially convenient, as we all got to light one, except there was some dissention over who got to light Week Three - the pink candle, One, Two and Four were purple). Anyways, I remember sitting around the table after dinner and reading Bible verses together and watching as each week another flame was added to the circle of candles. When I was little the candles were just mesmerizing because they were pretty but later I realized that this constantly increasing light signified our hearts and lives being prepared for Christ's birth.

On that first Christmas, as in my cave story, light was instantaneous. With the Star shining as a beacon in the sky, God tore into the darkness that enveloped the world. Nowadays perhaps, God's more subtle. Like with the Advent wreath of candles, He's reminding us more and more each week that His light is in the world and it's our choice to light more candles and create an ever increasing illumination. Not just at Christmas, but always - for every dark street, an Everlasting Light.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas (8)

This is the eighth of what will hopefully be a twelve part series of blogs between now and NEXT SUNDAY about lyrics to holiday songs. See also Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Seven.

Part Eight: So he said, "Let's run and we'll have some fun, now before I melt away."

This is a lyric from the children's classic Frosty the Snowman and I wanted to throw it out to the blogosphere with the challenge for everyone to find a way to enjoy the massive amounts of snow we've gotten this year. I know it's cold. And wet. But everyone warms up and drys off so enjoy it while it's here!!! Build a snowman, make a snow angel, go sledding or (as I did last weekend) start a snowball fight - insert mischievous laughter! If there's one thing the Christmas season should teach us all, it's that life moves fast and the years rush by so none of us should be in too much of a hurry to grow up. Think of Christmas as your personal excuse to be a kid again. Run and have some fun now - and tell me all about it with a comment!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas (7)

This is the seventh of what will hopefully be a twelve part series between now and Christmas reflecting on lyrics to holiday songs. See also Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Six.

Part Seven: We Three Kings...

Since I mentioned this song briefly in Part Six I thought I would blog about it a little more here because it's all in all a very strange Christmas song. We're all used to seeing the traditional nativity set up with three kingly figures bowing down with gifts for the newborn baby Jesus in the manger, but how true is this storybook nativity? Were the wise men really kings? Were there only three of them? Did they even come to the stable behind the inn? I did a little Wikipedia research on the song and the tradition of the "Three Kings" to answer some of these questions and I thought I'd share the info here.

First question - were they kings? This is one of those translational issues where they are never in the Bible referred to as Kings. The song that we're all familiar with was penned in 1857 by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. but "Kings" in the modern sense of the word is not entirely accurate. Rather they were "magi" - a translation of the Greek "magos". They were astrologers/astronomers and were rulers of some sort but perhaps not kings in the sense we interpret the word today. This is clarified in a quote from the Wikipedia article:
"The three pagan kings were called Magi not because they were magicians but because of the great science of astrology which was theirs. Those whom the Hebrews called scribes and the Greeks, philosophers, and the Latins, wise men, the Persians called Magi. And the reason that they were called kings is that in those days it was the custom for the philosophers and wise men to be rulers."
- Ludolph of Saxony
So we'll let the Kings term slide but what about this notion of "Three"? The number of wise men is never stated in the Bible. (I'll wait while you check....) See?!?? Aren't you surprised? All this time you thought the carol was Biblically inspired and nowhere does it say there were three of them! The number is assumed because there were three gifts presented, but maybe there were five of them and they needed three to haul around the gold? Or maybe it was twelve but only three brought gifts? "But wait," you argue, "there must be three of them! We learned their names in Sunday school: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar!" Clue phone - it's for you. These names aren't listed anywhere in the Bible. I would assume they came from some oral tradition, poetry or artwork as the names given vary all around the world (and Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar aren't even Persian names). In Ethiopia it's Hor, Basanater, and Karsudan; in Syria they are Larvandad, Hormisdas, and Gusnashaph.

And another thing, they didn't show up at the stable. Sorry folks, I know it's another strike against the nativity scene and the Christmas play but they were sent out from Herod when Jesus was born and Matthew 2:11 says that "They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him." This was after the manger part. But don't worry, the shepherds were there for that part so you don't have to eliminate the bathrobe boys from the pageant.

So now you're guessing that next I'll tell you they didn't even bring him the gifts, right? Well, no. The gift part as you know it is correct - and thank God it is cause that's where the tradition of Christmas presents comes from - Woohoo!! But just for the sake of looking deeper here too, we all know it was gold, frankincense and myrrh, but why? Each gift represents a different aspect of Christ's purpose on Earth and in the full song We Three Kings, each gift has a verse. Gold represents his kingship and giving of gold is a direct sign of worship.
Born a King on Bethlehem's plain, gold I bring to crown him again, 
King forever, ceasing never,over us all to reign.
Frankincense was used specifically in worship at the Jewish temples and stands for the preisthood of Jesus.

Frankincense to offer have I; incense owns a Deity nigh;
prayer and praising, voices raising, worshiping God on high.

Myrrh is perhaps the mostt striking though in that it is a spice used in preparing bodies for burial - an odd thing to present to a child unless to represent that his death would be the ultimate gift, an atoning sacrifice for the world.

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom;

sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

Hope this was informative and interesting to all of you. As one more side note, despite it's inaccuracies, I still love the song We Three Kings. I love the final verse that sings "Glorious now behold Him arise, King and God and Sacrifice" but perhaps my favorite lyric is in the chorus after "westward leading" the two simple words that are packed with meaning "Still Proceeding". Even today wise men still seek Him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas (6)

This is number six of what will hopefully be a twelve part series of blogs between now and Christmas reflecting on lyrics from holiday songs. See also Parts One, Two, Three, Four and Five.

Part Six: Oh Tidings of Comfort and Joy, Comfort and Joy...

Hmm. I heard this one on the radio this morning and knew it was gonna be the blog line du jour. It's from the song God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (as far as versions go the Barenaked Ladies with Sarah MacLachlan one is my favorite cause it mixes this song with We Three Kings which could potentially appear in a future blog too....)

I think as a child caroler I always took God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen to be a happy song encouraging everyone to find happiness in the Christmas season. Even the title rings up images of Dickens and a proper, stiff-collared Christmas wish for peace and joy. But in hearing it this morning, I realized that the song isn't necessarily about joy as in "Happy Happy Joy Joy!" Rather it's wishing Comfort and Joy. Comfort for sorrows, easing of pain, and the joy of the Lord - which is strength. This type of joy isn't about warm fuzzy smiley feelings, but a deeper seeded inner joy that comes from knowing God is sovereign. Even if things are not how we would have them, life is still blessed. Comfort and Joy.

I try to make this blog about the good things in life. There's enough pain and hardship in the world that this can be a forum to look for a silver lining, a positive outlook. With that in mind and this being said, I don't want to gloss over the rough times that people - myself included - go through or give the impression that I live in some bizarre Utopia. I realize and acknowledge that the Christmas season can be a very difficult time of year for some people. If I seem happy or upbeat all, or at least most, of the time it's because of this principle of Comfort and Joy that I wish upon all of you as well.

Has it been a fabulous year? Definitely. Has it also been a really tough year? No doubt. Comfort and Joy. We had three family weddings, I also attended two funerals. There was unemployment, there was a new job. There were breakups, hook-ups and divorce. Three loved ones announced pregnancies, two parents buried their son. There was health, there was cancer. There were four new homes to celebrate, there were clothing drives for people who lost their homes. Maybe the goods outweigh the bads, maybe vice versa, maybe it all just evens out - it doesn't really matter though because through all of it, good bad and ugly, there is comfort and there is joy and with those simple tidings it has been a truly blessed year.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas (5)

This is the fifth of what will hopefully be a twelve part series of blogs between now and December 25th reflecting on all sorts of holiday songs. See also Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four.

Part Five: The Twelve Pains of Christmas

Well, this isn't a true Christmas carol but as the saying goes, it's funny cause it's true. It was originally done by the Bob Rivers Comedy Group and you can hear it on their website - they also do an awesome version of O Little Town of Bethlehem to the tune of House of the Rising Sun, it rocks! It's probably going to be increasingly more difficult for me to convince you all that I'm not a cynic after you read this but since we can all relate to the same sorts of annoyances of the season, if we can learn to laugh at them maybe they won't be annoying anymore! If you've never heard the song or are unable to play it off the site I'll write out the last verse here. Keep in mind though, that the song goes just like the Twelve Days - starting with one and adding a number with each verse. It's actually much funnier if you listen to it too, because the lyrics change a little as the song goes on. Here's wishing you none of them but feel free to comment on the ones you find to be the most true - for me it's 9, 5, and a little bit of 4.

The twelfth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
(12) Singing Christmas Carols,
(11) Stale TV Specials,
(10) Batteries Not Included,
(9) No Parking Spaces,
(7) Salvation Army,
(6) Facing My In-Laws,
(4) Sending Christmas Cards,
(3) Hangovers,
(2) Rigging Up The Lights,
(1) And Finding a Christmas Tree!

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas (4)

This is the fourth of what will hopefully be a twelve part series between now and Christmas relating life to lyrics from holiday songs. See also: Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

Part Four: From Atlantic to Pacific, gee, the traffic is terrific...

I've been getting a little too texty lately so I thought I'd show this picture from last night's news. For those outside the midwest you probably didn't hear, but due to the awful snowstorms in the Chicagoland area, a plane skidded off the runway at Midway airport, out the fence, and into the nearby intersection. Two cars were pinned underneath the plane. Tragically one person died but I think everyone is grateful that the situation was not - as it well could have been - much, much worse. Here's the link to the full story if anyone's interested and the song lyric is from "No Place Like Home for the Holidays". I promise I'll be back to cheerier subjects soon.
picture from MSN news article linked above

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas (3)

This is the third of what will hopefully be a twelve part series of blogs between now and Christmas based on lyrics to holiday songs. See also: Part One and Part Two.

Part Three: Do They Know It's Christmastime At All?

This song was released in 84 and I think when it was getting extreme radio play (84-86) I was too young to really realize what it was about. It wasn't until recent years when I began to seek out Christmas songs I didn't know that I heard and memorized the lyrics to this one. I'll include them here for anyone else who wants to know the whole song.
It's Christmastime there's no need to be afraid, at Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade. And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy, throw your arms around the world at Christmastime.

But say a prayer - pray for the other ones.
At Christmastime it's hard, but when you're having fun, there's a world outside your window and it's a world of dread and fear, where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears, and the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom. Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you.

And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime, the greatest gift they'll get this year is life. Where nothing ever grows, no rain nor rivers flow, do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Here's to you - raise a glass for everyone.
Here's to them - underneath that burning sun, do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Feed the world. Feed the world. Feed the world.
Let them know it's Christmastime again. Feed the world - Let them know it's Christmastime again.
It's a pretty sad song and it was written to raise money and awareness for the famines plaguing Africa in the mid 80s. As a radio tune it's easy to get carried away in the catchy tune and lost in trying to identify the 80's rockers (Was that Bono? Yes!) but when really searching the lyrics, it sends a pretty powerful message about a forgotten continent and an ignored people.

As I mentioned in Part 2, I've been home sick from work this week. I was in on Monday and made it back today but it's interesting that on Monday morning the top story in the news was a massive earthquake between Congo and Tanzania and there was no mention of it anywhere in the news today. No reports of casualties? No rallies for relief efforts? How is this tragedy any different from the quake that hit Pakistan in October?? For several weeks the media kept us informed and up to date on the situation there and pointed us toward organizations we could support. And yet three days after African children die buried in rubble there's no words to report, no places to offer aid.

It's been suggested that since the quake in Pakistan hit a more densely populated area there was more damage to the infrastructure where as in Africa, not as much aid is needed because the areas hit were mostly small farms and refugee camps and there was not much infrastructure to damage. I don't mean to - in any way - say that the quake in Pakistan was not a situation that deserves our help but I am left with one question: Wouldn't farmers and refugees need help EVEN MORE than city businesses and suburban families?

If anyone knows of any organizations that are providing help to survivors of the quake in Congo give me the heads up. I still don't know why this story disappeared so quickly from the headlines. I'm optimistic to think that it's because the damages weren't that bad rather than to think that it's in a place America isn't concerned about. If there's a way to help, I'll be the first to want to share love in that manner and "let them know it's Christmastime again".

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas (2)

This is the second of what will hopefully be a twelve part series between now and Christmas based on holiday song lyrics that are either favorite songs of mine, annoyingly overplayed songs that are stuck in my head or songs that are excessively applicable to life in the holiday season. See also The Twelve Blogs of Christmas: Part One.

Part Two: Sing we joyous all together... Heedless of the wind and weather...

This lyric falls under the category of slightly more obscure carol lyrics cause it's from the third verse of Deck The Halls (the "..." represents a "fa la la la la la la la la") but it's fits perfectly with what I was doing this weekend.

Tony and I have been helping out with collecting toys for a Christmas service project that our church is doing. One part of this involved spending Sunday afternoon unloading boxes from trucks into a storage unit. In between truckloads we sat in the car and listened to the holiday music station (when the Bears game went to commercial). On one such musical interlude we heard the most strange little song with no words but a happy little tune that I was unable to identify. This was really strange considering my vast knowledge of Christmas music as well as the limited library played on The Lite. Anyways, we both started laughing at the tune and it ended shortly before the truck pulled up.

As we unloaded and began to sort the next group of boxes, I found that the bouncy little song from the radio was stuck in my head. So I did what anyone with an annoying song in their head would do: I sang it outloud. Tony of course laughed at this and then admitted that he too had it stuck in his head. I wish I could link this blog to an mp3 of it but I don't know the name of the song or the artist, only that it's a perky little tune that sounds like something to be streamed into Santa's workshop which made singing it in the storage space even funnier. Tony and I decided that it was a very appropriate theme song for us sorting toys and effectively acting as Santa's Little Helpers!

When I was trying to come up with a lyric to fit with this story I was reminded of Deck the Halls and it seemed to fit that we were singing (or at least humming) joyously together and we were also pretty heedless of the wind and weather. It was one of those weekends where the highs were just around freezing and I'm paying for my times outside (Saturday was outdoors helping string up Christmas lights) with a day at home with a head cold. Nevertheless, I think it's a fun season to sing through cold weather - as long as you wear a hat, scarf, and warm gloves - and to share the joys of serving regardless of the chills in the air!

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas

Okay this is the first of what will hopefully be a twelve part series between now and Christmas based on holiday song lyrics that are either favorite songs of mine, annoyingly overplayed songs that are stuck in my head or songs that are excessively applicable to life in the holiday season.

Part One: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

So this doesn't do much to show off my impressive knowledge of Christmas song lyrics but it seems an appropriate place to start. I mentioned in some previous blogs that Tony and I have had our tree up since well before Thanksgiving and although part of me does cringe at the thought of increasing the "Holiday Blur" (with Christmas decor hitting the stores before Halloween these days it does seem a shame not to appreciate the individual joys of the fall to winter months) it's been fun to be greeted with a twinkling faux-evergreen each morning and evening. With daylight becoming increasingly more scarce I'm one of those that likes to substitute Christmas lights for daylight - which is all the more advantageous since after Christmas (technically after Dec. 21st) the daylight hours are on the upswing!

But back to my topic - It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go. And that should be a good thing. Instead of seeing trees and santas and lights and psychotic shoppers as an awful reminder of the commercialism of the holidays - be glad that the holidays are commercialized! Yes. You did read that right. And I'm NOT being sarcastic. Hear me out: Christmas season is an advertisement for Christmas. *TANGENT ALERT* Think for a moment about the super bowl... The super bowl is a football game that was once upon a time just a football game and has now become a media frenzy about music, showmanship and of course commercials! There's been tons of things added to it, but at it's heart it's still a football game and no one can ever change the fact that it's a football game and all the extras just get more and more people involved to be a part - no matter how small a part - of a football game. Now here's the analogy: Christmas which was once upon a time just about Christ's birth has become a media frenzy about music, characters, and of course shopping! There's been tons of things added to it but at it's heart it's still about Christ's birth and no one can ever change the fact that it's about Christ's birth and all the extras just get more and more people involved to be a part - no matter how small a part - of Christ's birth.

So now instead of groaning at the eighteenth bell ringing santa you've seen in the course of four city blocks, think of it as free advertisement. A daily reminder that the time of Christ's birth is almost here! Those trees lit up in the park might as well be neon signs declaring "IT'S CHRISTMAS". And every little Frosty and Rudolph will get a child to recognize that it's time for a very special holiday. And when you stop and realize each year that It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, you can stop and think that it's beginning to look a lot like the time to celebrate the birth of Our Lord.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Boy, Oh Boy!

My family is nuts. Some of you read my ramblings and think, yeah she's a little crazy. And some of you have met my parents and siblings and have seen a pretty hilarious crowd. But when you take that to the next level and experience my extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandparents, etc) it's guaranteed to be smiles and fun times that will bring back memories of side splitting laughter years after it's possible to remember what we were laughing about. My aunt and uncle from Ohio came for a visit this week and as a sample of our randsanity here's a snippet from a conversation last night starring my three and a half year old niece:

The Scene: After dinner, hanging at my parent's place, playing the I Spy game with Christmas ornaments
The Onlookers (aka the laugh track): me, my mom (gramma to my niece), my sisters Anne & Laura
The Players: My Aunt Peggy, my pregnant sister-in-law Kelly and her daughter my hilarious three and a half year old niece, Ashley

The Conversation:
Aunt Peggy: So Ashley, you're gonna be a big sister...
Ashley: YEAH!! (squealed in a cute manner that only 3 year old girls can pull off)
AP: Are you excited?
A: YEAH!! (see previous note)
Kelly: What should the baby's name be?
AP: That's your name, silly! The baby can't have the same name as you!
A: (Giggles maniacally)
AP: What should we name the baby?
A: Aunt Peggy!!!
AP: Aunt Peggy? That's a great name!! What about if it's a boy, though?
A: Aunt Peggy Boy!!
(Laugh Track Giggling)
K: Aunt Peggy Boy??
(thoroughly encouraged) AUNT PEGGY BOY!!!!
AP: I'm not Aunt Peggy Boy!
A: YOU'RE Aunt Peggy Boy!!!
AP: No, you're Aunt Peggy Boy!
(Laugh Track Roaring)
AP: Then who's that? (points at Laura)
A: Laura Boy!
AP: And who's that? (points at me)
A: Lisa Boy!
AP: And that? (points at my mom)
A: Gramma Boy!!!
(Continuous cracking up from the Laugh Track)
AP: And is that Mommy Boy? (points at Kelly)
A: Nooooo! Daddy's the Mommy Boy!!
I can't quite say where the conversation went after that except that Laura literally fell off her chair laughing so hard and my brother was thoroughly bewildered when we proceeded to ask him if he was a "Mommy Boy". Hopefully that's funny to those that weren't there too and I want to dedicate this blog entry to those I have loved the most and the longest in my life, for a contraction and anonymity's sake I'll call them the Moorbaketownshereachejastarzerrero Clan, and although the word doesn't do justice to how amazing they are as individual's, they are my family!