Tag: ‘Tis the Season

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January 6 is the twelfth day of Christmas, so I am not out of season with Christmas music. Yup, the Twelve Days of Christmas are not part of Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas. Rather, the Christian church, both east* and west,** commemorate this ancient feast day twelve days after commemorating Christ’s birth. To […]

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‘Tis the Season for Evictions [Updated]

 

justice and COVID-19Mitch and the Gang, along with the leader* of the House Republican’ts, happily played Grinch to all but their paymasters in the corporate elites. They continued to willfully extend the pain and harm to all the Americans they not so secretly hate for electing President Trump twice. The forgotten Americans must be shoved back down the memory hole if the GOPe is to rise again to its lucrative faux leadership role. So, the uncounted Americans facing eviction from home or loss of a small business got only a Life Saver pealed off from a Life Savers® roll into their stocking.

The federal moratorium on home evictions was only extended to the end of January 2021. It was to be left to the 2021 Democrat-controlled new House and Senate to leverage the government-created personal and business debt crisis into a leftist bloodless revolution. Thankfully, President Trump has effectively vetoed this insult to non-elite Americans. He should do more than demand $2,000 per person; he should answer more of the pork-barrel with a non-partisan populist demand for government to assume some of the private debt imposed by government edict.

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Goal-setting is a common theme I seem to return to here on Ricochet, and as 2020 is nearing its end (and I’ve been setting up my 2021 bullet journal), I have been thinking about what my goals will be for next year. I don’t like to call them “New Year’s Resolutions” for some reason. Maybe […]

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Since President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump now have some level of natural immunity, having experienced a bout of the Chinese virus, it fell to Vice President Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence to lead the nation in the Warp Speed vaccination program. They did so, in a public event, a ceremony of sorts, […]

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‘Tis the Season: The Jinx is Gone!

 

Cow ElkThe Colorado high mountain air was cold and thin. Our legs, tired from marching through 20 inches of snow all day, get relief as we travel along a south-facing, therefore, snow-free ridge. Below us, double thick aspen groves reveal very little. But friend and hunting partner, Cliff, whispers my name. His eagle-eyes, assisted with bino’s, pierce the dark aspen jungle. I quickly raise my own binoculars, matching his direction. And there she is — a cow elk.

Hey, I heard you chuckle. Yeah, you. “A cow elk. Like shooting fish in a barrel.” Ok, I didn’t hear you say the second part, but I know you’re thinking it. Sure, a cow. Not some big, cagey, trophy bull with years of experience dodging hunters and crafty hunting guides. Just a little old cow with cute deer eyes, never hurt a soul, cropping grass and nursing her young offspring. Innocence on four hooves. Right?

The gals are good. Very good. Female elk are smart, tough, and live a lot longer than their male counterparts. Their biggest advantage: They run in a harem. With multiple sets of eyes, acute smellers, radar hearing, and spider-senses tingling like Antifa crashing a Taser manufacturers convention, you may have a better chance seeing Bigfoot dancing an Irish jig.

‘Tis the Season for Bad Christmas Music

 

The Christmas season brings with it holiday music: some quite good, some not so good, and some wonderfully bad. Every wave of popular music brings with it eventual Christmas singles or albums. Singing stars, and others, seem drawn like the wise men following the star. Consider a few examples, but do set your beverage down before listening, as some are inadvertently merry and bright.

We start, of course, with disco. At the tail end of the disco craze, you could expect orchestras to show they are with it. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra did not disappoint, recording a medley, “Hooked on Christmas” in 1981. The Universal Robot Band released “Disco Christmas” in 1977, straddling street cred and sentiment. Then there were the combined efforts of various session musicians and disco labels. Salsoul released the 1976 album whose cover art you see here. I think the Salsoul OrchestraChristmas Medley” is better than the philharmonic attempt. All of these are better than the perhaps earnest attempt by Charo: “Mamacita, Donde este Santa Clause.” Then there is the album by Mirror Image, a group of studio musicians, turned out Disco Noël with “Silver Bells” as you’ve never heard it before:

‘Tis the Season…The Collection

 

I got my first Nativity scene when I was 10 years old. I attended an activity at our church for elementary school children that was held in the afternoon on Wednesdays. That year we older girls received a paper depiction of the Manger Scene that could be put together into a diorama. I displayed it every year on our piano in the living room. I found it again after I was married, in the closet of my old bedroom. So I brought it to my own home and put it on display in December every year after that. A few years later, I found an adorable little wooden folding set at a California mission gift shop, and that is when I started the theme for our Christmas decorations.

I had never emphasized Santa Claus with our children. We had three born within three years…yes…we knew what caused it. (I answered THAT question a few too many times–laughing politely with gritted teeth.) (We have five children in total.) But, that Christmas when the baby was only a couple of months old, and I no longer had my home daycare income, I knew that Santa definitely was not coming. We knew there would be a few gifts under the tree from the grandmothers. I was feeling sorry for myself when I experienced a life-changing thought: it isn’t about the presents, is it?? So that is the year we started the tradition of celebrating Christmas a little bit each day of December and emphasizing the commemoration of Jesus’ Birth. We had books to read and treats to make, and songs to sing. Santa was involved when they were little, but it was just a little part–not the whole thing.

‘Tis the Season: Free the Cake!

 

It’s the time of year again when many Americans find themselves isolated, out of step, and even mocked and persecuted. I am one of them. This year I am stepping out of the shadows to plead for tolerance for this beleaguered minority. So here goes: My name is Suspira* and I like fruitcake.

I know. Listen to voices in the media—comedians, chatty newscasters, and even advertisers—and you’ll come away with the idea that no one likes fruitcake. In fact, no one even tries to eat them, instead making them ammunition in fruitcake tosses and other seasonal activities for fruitcake-haters. Then there’s the joke that there really is only one fruitcake that has been passed around for centuries.

Fruitcakes (that’s plural!) have been around for a millennium, at least. The ancestor of today’s fruitcake was concocted by the Romans, and the fruitcake habit was spread along with the Roman legions throughout Europe. Each nation produced its own variety, from German stollen to Italian panforte to England’s dense versions featuring marzipan and royal icing.

Group Writing: Unconventional Holiday Celebrations

 

Growing up somewhat Jewish, I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider at Christmas time. It was more difficult as a child because although we were barely observant, we didn’t have even the secular trappings of the season. I thought I’d reminisce a bit, and then bring you current to life at this holiday season time of year.

When I was in the school choir in grade school, singing Christmas songs was, well, awkward. Singing about sleigh rides didn’t create a problem for me (even though I grew up in CA) but songs like, “Silent Night,” as beautiful as it was, made me uncomfortable. Then there was the Christmas concert—in those old days they didn’t make the silly substitute for Christmas with the word “holiday”— and I remember telling my mother about the upcoming concert that I wanted to participate in. It was one thing to sing in class, but another to be on public display. But she decided to let me perform with my friends; I don’t remember if she attended. The administration always tacked on a Chanukah song—usually an awful tune—but they were making a genuine effort to be accommodating.

* * * * *

‘Tis the Season, but…

 

Traditions linger on…for a time. I had a friend, I have been known to call him my Mentor, even though at times the lessons went the other way. Sherm was born on the exact same day as Alex Trebek. He retired from his corporate job back in maybe 1995 to run a couple of small businesses that he and his wife had. We would go up and visit them. They were closer to the country, probably a good sixteen miles north and ten east of us. Their businesses were complementary: an ice cream shop and a candy factory and retailer. The candy had big days from September through May, and the ice cream was big during the summer. At some point, they decided to buy a place for the candy factory. They had intended to keep the ice cream and candy retailer in the same place but their landlord at the old shop got wind they were looking around, so he tripled their rent. They moved into the new factory and took the retail candy business there as well, but closed down the ice cream business. They sold all of the ice cream equipment.

Somewhere along the way, maybe even before Sherm had retired from his corporate job, my wife and I started giving out gifts of half-pound boxes of chocolate from Sherm’s factory for Christmas. We gave a box to each family member, brothers, and sisters, step-brothers, step-sisters, parents, nieces, and nephews. The box count went between twenty-five and sixty over the years. Then we might get larger boxes for various places, such as a two-pounder for our chiropractor’s office. Everyone in my family plus people at church and other friends have looked forward to that little half-pound box every year, it was really very good chocolate.

Member Post

 

There are many days open this month. I especially encourage new members and those who have not posted in a while to join in this month’s Group Writing theme, “‘Tis the Season.” I really do not want to break out the bears or disco music. Help make Ricochet merry and bright this season. Stop by […]

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Thanks for Friends and Family

 

As we enter the American winter holiday season, from Thanksgiving through New Years Day, thoughts turn to friends and family. Even for those bereft or apart from those who love or especially like them, the days on the calendar occasion strong emotional responses. Just ask a bartender about their business later on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. So it is fitting to pause, reflect, and give thanks for friends and family.

Family:

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The first time I saw Stig, he was reading a book about the Holy Spirit. He was sitting downstairs in the common kitchen of our four-room block of small apartments in a rather novel form of student housing at Christian-Albrechts Univeristät zu Kiel called the “Studentdorf”. The “Dorf” consisted of several two-story townhouse like apartments […]

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‘Tis the Season – Potterdopoulos, Mother

 

In the fall of 1977, I proposed to my then- and long-time girlfriend, Janet. We set a date in May, over six months away, which my soon-to-be mother-in-law explained was barely enough time to make proper arrangements. That meant Janet and I would have to spend the Christmas of that year introducing the other to various out-of-town relatives. Everyone from both families was coming to Ann Arbor, MI, that Christmas to meet the other’s intended. We were both the first child from our respective families to get married – which signaled a generational shift which both of us had been oblivious to when I made and she accepted my proposal.

It meant sitting through two Christmas dinners, one in each household. Her family had Christmas dinner at noon; mine at 6 p.m. (Somehow tucking away two massive dinners was less of a challenge in your late teens and early 20s.) I met her menace of uncles and aunts at her parents’ place at midday. (All of her father’s numerous brothers were well over six feet, and wanted to assure themselves I would do right by their innocent niece. I am not sure how well I succeeded in assuring them, but I survived the dinner.) Then it was time for Janet to meet my family.

‘Twas the Season in West Germany

 

I experienced Christmas 1987 through 1989 in West Germany, in the heart of Bavaria, serving as a young Air Defense Artillery officer in the Army Reagan rebuilt. This was just before the influx of disillusioned East Germans and other relatively lawless former Warsaw Pact people, corrupted by the poison of living compromised lives under communism. West Germans were rule-followers. Ordnung muss sein! There must be order! The affirmative answer to “is everything alright?” “Alles ist in Ordnung.”

Everything is in order. One result was that private and public spaces were clean, neat, in order. At the same time, we and the British Army of the Rhine (by its name still an occupying force) had our boots firmly on the backs of a people who had shown a particular penchant for mass violence against others. So, I got to experience German culture and society at its best. I remember two German traditions and an American military tradition.

Group Writing: ‘Tis the Season, and the Clock Is Ticking

 

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I live in an apartment complex. It has great advantages. Something breaks? Call maintenance. Grass needs cutting? Someone else does it. There are pretty flowers on the grounds spring through autumn, and I never have to lift a finger to dig in the hard ground. (It would probably do me a lot of good to do it, but it’s not going to happen.) It’s nice to have things taken care of.

Member Post

 

Hey you! Yes, you. Each month, Ricochet members like you share a few thoughts, a bit of knowledge or creativity, playing off a theme. Sometimes it is no more than a concluding line or a throw-away to shoe horn their post into the theme. We are very casual about that. The whole point is for […]

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