Sunday, December 30, 2018

Merry Post-Christmas

We hope that your Christmas celebration was a good one. Ours was one of the best in recent years as we were able to visit with family in CT and RI, including all three grandchildren. This post is a photo recap of our family time.

Christmas Eve was celebrated in CT at the home of Patrick's aunt and uncle (Russ and Anita are in the top right photos below). It's been their long-standing tradition to host an open house for both family (who traveled from NH, NY, and PA) and friends. There was plenty of food, talk and good times to last for several hours. 
Youngest granddaughter and her mother, donned a fun hat and a cousin wore light bulb earrings. 
Christmas Day was celebrated in RI. The three grandkids had a great time opening gifts.

Gift giving for the older grandkids was different this year. We took their mother's suggestion and gifted them with "experiences" for various activities: ice skating, roller blading, trampoline park, and a family Audubon Society membership, and books.  Oldest granddaughter got her favorite gift, Slime, and Grandpa gave grandson a starter microcomputer set.
Grenville was very happy for the gift of having both daughters together with their children. Below are the moms and daughters.
The grandparents also got some hug/cuddle time with both granddaughters as did their moms.

The two granddaughters showed their artistic talents.
Just as the night before, the day was filled with good food and happy times of famly being together for Christmas.

Christmas may only be celebrated for a single day but our holiday memories will last throughout the coming New Year. 
We hope that your holiday was merry and very happy as well. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

De-Santafication Has Begun

If your holiday viewing included the Santa Clause trilogy, as ours did, you might recall that "de-santafication" was the process referred to when there was no Mrs. Claus (yet) in the Santa Clause 2 film. That was a temporary situation, however, and completely resolved by the end of the film when Mr. C was indeed married.

Santa had vacated his shopping mall setup in Nashua, NH, the day after Christmas. 
A very large sign announced that he had returned home. Perhaps should any children want to talk about what he had given them . . . depending on their naughty or nice status?
A wise man, indeed, to make his exit so quickly, thus avoiding conflicts with possibly disgruntled youngsters (or even adults). 

We hope that he finds his way back next year. DON'T YOU AS WELL ? 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas to All

Today is the day — Christmas 2018 is here, perhaps sooner than we thought. 

In nature, it came without packages, ribbons, boxes or bows which would have made the Grinch glad, perhaps even made his small heart grow more than three sizes.
I always wondered which was correct: Seasons or Season's and learned that the correct formatting is “Season’s Greetings” with the apostrophe. The apostrophe means that the greetings are for the current season and all the holidays in it.

To all of you and your families, we send our Best Wishes for a very Merry Christmas that's filled with timeless memories and lots of joy, love and much happiness.

It's a time of year that's filled with memories both remembered and ones yet to be made.  We hope that all of yours are special. 
Dorothy & Patrick 
(aka Beatrice & Grenville)

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve 2018

WOW!!! Where did the year go?? It’s Christmas Eve already and it seems like last Christmas was just last week.

For those of you who may have heard rumors of my untimely demise, I assure you that is was all Fake News. I am alive and well and very involved with stuff here in Nashua where it looks like we may have a White Christmas this year. It would be a truly wonderful way to conclude this Christmas season. 

Beatrice and i have had a tradition of watching Christmas movies every night from Thanksgiving until Christmas. Our collection has grown over the years to include many of the classics like A Christmas Carol and a few remakes, Miracle on 34th St, Shop Around The Corner, Christmas Vacation, and of course A Christmas Story and the Santa Clause trilogy.  The total is up to 42 this year which means that we don't get to watch them all. So each night we take turns choosing one. 

As some of you may remember, i like to repeat a Christmas sermon or possibly a Christmas story on our Christmas Eve blog. This year we watched one of our classic movies “The Bishops Wife’ staring David Niven, Cary Grant and Loretta Young.  Now this is not one of my favorites, but the final sermon given by David Niven at St. Timothy’s struck me as appropriate for this year. Let me share it with you.

Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking. Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child's cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. 
We haven't forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.
But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe.
For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s His birthday we're celebrating. Don't let us ever forget that
Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance 
All the shinning gifts that make peace on earth.
Beatrice and I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and hope for a Blessed New Year.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Holiday Decos 2018

In recent years, and for various reasons including a family death and pending house sale, we didn't extensively decorate for the holidays in our NH mill apt. This year we were home from Thanksgiving through Christmas and decorated a lot — Welcome to our home.

In an earlier post, I wrote about my enjoyment in mailing holiday cards. It's also great to receive them and these are always displayed in our home. (Do you do the same?)
Our decorating got off to a late start because we both had colds that dragged on from Thanksgiving into the second week of December. But, once we got started, Santas, reindeer and snowmen were soon hung on most doors and walls. 
This snowball trio were "surprises" left outside our door a couple of years ago by former next-door neighbors who have since moved to another NH city. We sent them a photo of these jolly "faces."
We've collected quite a few other snowmen and moose figures since then, several of which have been given by friends here. (Hint: if you don't want a collection to expand, never mention to anyone that you "like" some things. In Virginia, it was penguins and frogs. In NH, it's snowmen and moose.) 
This year the New England village was expanded to include a train and station as well as more "villagers." The centerpiece Christmas tree was given to us by a former Virginia neighbor before we moved; she said it "needed a new home" and it's found one too. 

We turn on the tree and village lights nightly and enjoy them while watching a holiday film. (The reflections are from apartment lights across the Nashua River.)
The tree ornaments and some shelf decorations include ones with special memories of time together and gifts from friends no longer with us such as the bear music box. (Doesn't everyone have some of special ones in their holiday collection?)
This year we added some new ornaments that were handmade locally in NH. This is something we're trying to do each year. In so doing we donated ones that these replaced. (Didn't you just know there would be a snowman or penguin in these new additions?)
Of course, there's always penguins in our holiday decorations. This group relocated from our former Virginia home and seem to prefer New England now.
We had lots of fun decorating — hope you enjoyed seeing these and had own fun tooπŸŽ„ (Ours may stay up till at least mid-January, how about yours?)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

It's Nearly Time . . .

Look who went to see Santa this year and quickly made a friend with the man in red. Youngest granddaughter was very excited and happily posed for photos in PA.
While there, she checked over some gifts and soon made her own selection.
In RI, grandson and granddaughter posed in holiday t-shirts we sent. We'll see all 3 grandchildren together on Christmas as we spend time with family in New England.
Last Saturday, we went to Parker's Maple Barn, a popular breakfast and lunch eatery in Mason, NH, a 30 minute drive from Nashua, NH. Parker's operates on a first come-first served basis and doesn't accept reservations. Weekends are typically busy and predictably we had a short wait. Maple syrup made on site in the sugar house is served warm in individual bottles and was delicious on pumpkin pancakes. As you can see, we also dressed for the season.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Holiday Movie Cheer

This is the time of year when lots of folks (ourselves included) binge on holiday films.

There's no shortage of holiday films here thanks to our DVD Christmas film collection and Netflix as well. We start our seasonal viewing on Thanksgiving Day with The Grinch That Stole Christmas and continue almost nightly through the end of the year. We take turns selecting the evening's entertainment. 

There's some lesser known holiday films in our collection: Beyond Tomorrow, It Happened on 5th Avenue, Mixed Nuts, Rupert the Great, and Shop Around the Corner

We have multiple versions of A Christmas Carol in 1938, 1984, 1992, and 2009 excluding the classic 1951 Alastair Sim version which we may include one day. The Sim version is regarded as the best of the genre with a tour-de-force performance and the standard by which all other Scrooges are measured. 

Similarly, we don't have the 1970 film Scrooge with Albert Finney, but do have the 1988 Scrooged with Bill Murray. Two more variations on the same Christmas Carol theme, the first one is a musical, the second (what else) is a comedy with Murray.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) is a biographical drama which recreates author Charles Dickens struggle to write A Christmas Carol. Set in the 1840s London, it stars Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, and Jonathan Pryce and focuses on Dickens' obsession with writing and completing the story during the holiday season.

The Man Who Saved Christmas (2002) is based on the story of toy inventor Alfred Carlton (AC) Gilbert who was forced by the U.S. Government to turn his factory into a munitions plant during the WWI. (AC Gilbert trained to be a physician but created the Erector set and founded one of the largest U.S. toy manufacturers.)

The 1947 film, The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young was redone and retitled as The Preacher's Wife in 1996 and starred Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington. (I like this one; Grenville tolerates it because of Grant and Niven.)

Miracle on 34th Street was popular in 1947 with Edmund Gwenn, John Payne and Maureen O'Hara. The same title was used in the 1994 version by writer/producer John Hughes and starred Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott. (The movie was adapted from a story by Valentine Davies, American film and television writer, producer, and director. Both versions were released by 20th Century Fox.)

Another 1947 film, It Happened on 5th Avenue, lost the Academy Award for Best Story to Valentine Davies. This comedy set in New York City during the Christmas season starred Victor Moore, Don DeFore, Charles Ruggles and Gale Storm. Coincidentally, the story was originally optioned by Liberty Films in 1945 for director Frank Capra who opted to direct It's a Wonderful Life instead.

The 1940 film, The Shop Around the Corner with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan had a holiday theme which was lost when it became the basis of the 1994 film, You've Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. (The setting for the original film is Budapest.)

The 2004 film, Christmas with the Kranks starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis is based on the 2001 novel, Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. (Personally, I think they should have used the same title as the book.)

Our favorite holiday trilogy is the Santa Clause series with Tim Allen in the title role. The first film was released in 1994, followed up by sequels in 2002 and 2006. (We always watch them in sequence on a weekend.) 

An animated squirrel is the headliner in the 1950 film, The Great Rupert which starred Jimmy Durante who sings in this film, which also includes a romance.

The 1940 fantasy film, Beyond Tomorrow (also known as Beyond Christmasis a contemporary, but often, forgotten Christmas film. It did not include stars who would receive billing above the title and instead relied on a veteran character actors: Richard Carlson, Maria Ouspenskaya, C. Aubrey Smith, Charles Winninger, and Harry Carey.

In the 2001 film, Serendipity, a man and woman surreptitiously meet in 1991 on Christmas Eve and reunite a decade later on the same day and there is a happy ending.

Many classic films feature have some Christmas in them, including Love Finds Andy Hardy, Meet John Doe, Meet Me in St Louis, Remember the Night, The Lemon Drop Kid, The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Here's what's currently in our collection. We've seen all of these films including others not in our collection.(The Die Hard movies were added this year; both place on Christmas Eve in NYC and Washington, DC.) 
  • Beyond Tomorrow
  • The Bishop’s Wife
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • A Christmas Carol (1938, Reginald Owen)
  • A Christmas Carol (1984, George C. Scott)
  • A Christmas Carol (1992, The Muppets)
  • A Christmas Carol (2009, Jim Carrey)
  • Christmas in Connecticut 
  • A Christmas Story
  • Christmas Vacation
  • Christmas with the Kranks
  • Deck the Halls
  • Die Hard
  • Die Hard 2
  • The Family Man
  • The Family Stone
  • The Great Rupert
  • A Holiday Affair
  • The Holiday
  • Holiday Inn
  • Home Alone
  • Home Alone 2 (Lost in New York)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon version)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey)
  • It Happened on 5th Ave 
  • It’s A Wonderful Life
  • Love Actually
  • Love the Coopers
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas
  • The Man Who Saved Christmas
  • March of the Wooden Soldiers
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • Mixed Nuts
  • Muppets Christmas Carol
  • One Magic Christmas
  • The Nutcracker
  • One Special Night
  • The Polar Express
  • The Preacher’s Wife
  • Santa Clause
  • Santa Clause 2 (The Mrs. Claus)
  • Santa Clause 3 (The Escape Clause)
  • Scrooged
  • Serendipity
  • The Shop Around the Corner
  • White Christmas 
I haven't neglected the seasonally popular Hallmark holiday movies, but we don't subscribe to any premium TV services. Any of these we've watched has been through YouTube which are (usually) commercial-free.

Last week, fellow blogger Emma Springfield posted a "must not miss" list of her favorite Christmas movies in this post. You might also enjoy reading that one.

How about you — Have you seen any of these films; do you have some πŸŽ„ favorites? 
We're always looking for ones we haven't seen and would appreciate your input πŸŽ…

Friday, December 14, 2018

Friday Funnies

We wondered if the Christmas trees were circling . . .
And hoped they were not getting ready for an attack as when the wagons used to circle.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone.
And, take time to enjoy the spirit of the season

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

December Birthdays

If you're a child, what's better than waiting to celebrate Christmas πŸŽ„ — maybe it's also celebrating a birthday πŸŽ‚ in the same month?

That's something shared in common by our oldest and youngest grandchildren. Grandson reached his last pre-teen year a week ago. 

The older grandchildren get, the more challenging it can be to select the "right" gift. This year, his mom asked if instead of a "store-bought gift," we would like contribute to his birthday celebration. She was planning an overnight stay in Boston, MA and taking he and his sister to a performance of the Blue Man Group in that city.
For those who are unfamiliar with the group started in 1987. It features three bald and blue characters and is a performance art company known worldwide for its multimedia stage performances which include various categories of music and art. 
Brother and sister posed for this photo. We heard that he was very happy with his birthday present. We're looking forward to hearing more about it in the future. 

The youngest granddaughter celebrates her 2nd birthday this week. 
We won't see her and her family until Christmas when they will travel to visit family here in NE. We brought birthday gifts to PA for an early birthday celebration after Thanksgiving.

She clutched the pink birthday bunny we brought her and opened other gifts while mom and grandpa watched.
Her mom gave us the "hint" that she's really likes footed "jammies. " Lucky us in finding one with holiday penguins and reindeer that grandpa helped her model.

In a couple of weeks we will celebrate during the holiday with all three grandchildren and other family members.

Thanks to all who shared comments on a previous post about sending holiday cards (or not) and holiday decorating. Grenville suggested that, due to the increase in First Class U.S. postage this January, I should have included a message in this year's cards to say: "Please save this greeting as it's a 2-year card, due to the postage increase in 2019." 

Why didn't I think of that?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Pre-Christmas This ‘n That

πŸŽ„This time of year can get busy SO fast. Like lots of other folks, the past couple of 
weeks have been filled with pre-Christmas activities — and some unplanned "down" time.

The "down" time included coughing, nose blowing, sniffling and feeling blah with our first (and hopefully last) colds of the season (thinking optimistically here). Grenville's not-feeling-good began during our Thanksgiving holiday in Pennsylvania. Thankfully, it didn't sideline him from enjoying holiday time visiting with family.

Once home, I started with similar symptoms. After a week or so, we sought medical attention. Grenville needed an antibiotic. I was advised to keep using over-the-counter meds.

While sidelined we s-l-o-w-l-y worked on pre-holiday things, which for me was writing Christmas cards. Grenville laughs as every year, I talk about drastically trimming the list or stopping. This year was no exception, but that was months ago and this was the past couple of weeks.
Truth be known, I actually enjoy writing cards to family and family friends  and all the folks we know from years living in our native New Jersey, and from 12+ years on the Virginia Eastern Shore and now those we know in New England. The "list" also includes cards sent to 90+ year-old friends of my late mother who passed away three years ago on December 22. I handwrite messages in every card and address them by hand, but the return labels are printed out. And, yes, I like to add holiday stickers on the envelopes too!

Yes, the cost of 50-cent cost of U.S. postage stamps makes this a costly venture, if you look at it in economic terms. And, I get that not everyone can afford to spend the $ or the time to send cards.
Some folks I know have told me they've cut down and others have said they never send a single card. That's OK and maybe in future years, I'll re-evaluate as well, but not this year. Here's why, this past weekend, we received a call from a 92-year old friend living in Virginia who told us that the card we sent "made his day." We know he won't send us one , but that doesn't matter. He was so happy to be remembered and that's enough to know.

How about you — do you write and send cards ?

Sometime in January 2019, the cost of a First Class U.S. postage stamp is escalating to 55 cents — ouch! This week when mailing the 2018 cards, I bought a supply of Forever Stamps at the current 50 cent price. Of course, I'll be sending out cards again in 2019 !

We did a few more things while homebound. For myself that included decorating our apartment entry. Many decorations are similar to last year's. The mini tree lights have a battery pack and will be lit in the evening during Christmas week, but the hallway is always very brightly lit.
This year, Grenville set up the New England winter village (Department 56) and also included include a train, He placed place the Christmas tree in the center of the village. (Last year we spent most of the pre-holiday season in Virginia preparing for the sale of our home there, then it was delayed until this past February.) Here's how the layout started out earlier this week.

And this is how it looked after completion this past weekend. It's was hard to avoid the lights from buildings across the river, but the tree and village lights looked better in a night shot.
We also did a more interior decorating, and the Nativity is always included. This set holds special meaning as it belonged to my parents and was set up during Christmas. Some of the livestock and sheep were kept from a my Nativity set; other pieces were donated.
 How about you — have you done any holiday decorating? 

One thing we didn't do was any holiday baking. But we're thinking of making homemade chocolate chip cookies and brownies later this week. Then, we're planning to eat some !