Category Archives: Christmas

The Merry Christmas Meme

From Tosy of New Jersey:

1. Favorite traditional Christmas song:
“The Coventry Carol”. I’m particularly fond of Alison Moyet’s version on the orginal “A Very Special Christmas”.

2. Favorite contemporary or modern Christmas song:
“The Bells of Christmas” by Julie Andrews from a Firestone LP in the mid-1960s. It was re-recorded with an extra-long bridge that utterly ruins it, though.

3. Christmas song that makes you cry
A performance of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” by Kim and Reggie Harris. It is a sad song, ultimately.

4. Real or artificial tree:
Real. I fear artificial trees.

5. Favorite Christmas edible treat
I take a shot of amaretto in a goblet, then pour eggnog into it. Not only does it taste good, it looks good.

6. White lights or multi-colored:
White. Though I grew up with these huge colored lights.

7. How many Christmas parties will you go to this year:
One. Already went.

8. Favorite act of kindness to perform during this season:
Random acts of kindness.

9. Favorite sounds of Christmas:

10. Favorite things to wear:
I have a Santa hat.

11. Favorite Christmas movie/TV special:
Except for Charlie Brown, don’t really watch them anymore.

12. Eggnog or hot chocolate:
Depends on the temperature outside.

13. Favorite Christmas book:
This hardbound book of carols I got for my wife a couple years ago.

14. Christmas books on my “to read” list:

15. Peppermint or cinnamon:
Peppermint usually.

16. What’s on the top of your tree:
An angel.

17. Traditional Christmas meal growing up:
Don’t really remember.

18. Online shopping or traditional “go to the store” shopping:
Online if it isn’t a small store.

19. Something you received as a Christmas gift as a child that you still have:
No clue. In all likelihood, some LPs, but couldn’t specify titles.

20. How many Christmas cards you have mailed so far:

21. Favorite source for Christmas ideas:
My wife.

22. Coordinated/themed or hodge-podge tree decorations:
Hodge-podge. My ornaments, her ornaments from when we were kids, new ornaments.

23. What’s on the top of YOUR Christmas wishlist:
A Hess truck.

24. Roles you’ve played in Christmas plays/programs:
Shepherd, wise man.

25. Wrapping paper or gift bags:
When I was a kid, I used to wrap presents in the comics section of the Sunday paper. I was often mocked by my family, and I abandoned it. I think I’ll go back to it.

26. When do you put up the tree:
Well, we hadn’t had one in a couple years. about two weeks before Christmas when we do.

27. When do you take the tree down:
New Years’ Day, or soon thereafter.

28. Do you have a nativity scene:
A creche on the fireplace mantle.

29. Hardest person to buy for:
My mother.

30. Easiest person to buy for:
My daughter.

31. Worst Christmas gift you ever received:
I have no idea.

32. When do you start shopping for Christmas:
It varies. Once upon a time, there was a Medieval Faire in October,, and I’d start then. Some years, it’s two weeks before Christmas, and I’d take a day off from work and do the whole thing.

33. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present:
Possibly, but unlikely.

34. Travel at Christmas or stay home:
Home for the first time since Lydia was born.

35. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer:
Yes, all nine.

36. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning:
Christmas morning.

37. Most annoying thing about this time of year:
Nasty people in over-crowded stores.

38. What I love most about Christmas:
Traditional Christmas music.
Educational Stocking Stuffers and a terrible gift idea.
Brian Lynch’s A Simulated Christmas , courtesy of ADD.
The Nine-Inning Holiday Trivia Quiz from ESPN; tough!


My Christmas Wish List

Sure I want music and I always want the World Almanac. Oh, and the Hess truck.

But do you know what I really want?
*Time: time to keep up with paper, with my friends, with my family.
*Finding a regular babysitter so that Carol and I can go on our monthly dates again.
*Staying in a period of joy. Remembering the good more than the bad.
*Appreciating the simple things, such as latte coffee art.
*For my left knee to stop aching so; taking a flight of steps is nigh unto impossible lately, and going down is much worse than up; the right elbow’s sore, too.
*For the success of the Underground Railroad workshop. It’s not until February, but what the heck.
*For better health for friend Fiona
*For ADD to be able to write right.
*For Kelly to get over her health challenge.
*For my friend Mike’s well being; he starts chemo for esophageal cancer today.
*For peace on earth. Yeah, I know it’s cliche; I don’t care.



So how are you doing with that Christmas shopping? I happen not to be fond of shopping at any time of the year, but particularly now. If he didn’t live 800 miles away in Louisville, I’d probably hire Eddie to do my shopping for me, assuming he worked cheaply enough.

It doesn’t help that after watching The Story of Stuff!, a down-to-earth story of production, consumption and our future on the planet, I’m wary of buying much of anything.

1. What percentage of your shopping is done? Mine’s about 45% finished.

2. Where do you shop?

In box stores? Well, not in THE big box store, and generally I tend to avoid big stores like the plague.

At the mall? Rarely at Colonie Center. Never at the Pyramid Corporation’s Crossgates, even before this debacle that briefly made the national news:
The first Crossgates Mall Peace Walk was in 2002 when a group of folks from various groups entered the mall wearing shirts that said: Drop Toys Not Bombs, Don’t Attack Iraq and Peace on Earth! They were rounded up and escorted off the property under threat of arrest. Steve and Roger Downs heard about this and went into the mall to see if it could possibly be true. The rest is history. From Wikipedia: “At the dawn of the Iraq War in March 2003, the mall (Crossgates) became the center of a free speech controversy when Selkirk resident Stephen Downs was arrested refusing to take off an anti-war t-shirt that he had purchased in the mall. After many objections, the mall dropped the charges. Shortly thereafter, a large protest was held at the mall where many people came wearing anti-war attire.”
BTW: this year’s WEAR YOUR PEACE TEE SHIRTS Crossgates event will be Thursday, December 20
5:15 pm – press conference in the parking lot of the Cinema 18
5:45 pm – in the food court to hook up and to to meander and “shop”
6:15 pm – converge at the food court again to sing

I’ll go to the non-chains – in this area, today is Buy Local Day.

But I’m generally inclined to use mail order.

3. Are you spending more or less than last year? I think I’ll end up spending slightly less, but I’m not sure yet.
I called to get my renewed credit card authorized using the automated system yesterday morning. After approving it, it asked if I wanted a PIN number – OK. But then it told me I couldn’t get a pin number at that time and that I needed to speak to a customer service rep. I gave my name to the human. THEN he tried to sell me some damn service I didn’t want. I told him that I needed to catch a bus in eight minutes, which happened to be true. Grrr!!
Getting into the holiday spirit.
From the Shake That Brain! Newsletter


I recently took out $100 from my bank’s cash machine. Only when I got home I discovered that my cash card was missing. I called the bank and they explained that the cash machine had taken it back.
Taken it BACK???
Turns out that the bank was having problems with people using fraudulent bank cards. So they rigged the system to keep the card for 60 seconds while the inside optics scanned it for authenticity. Great solution? No. Because that same machine is designed to spit out your cash in less than 30 seconds. So what happens to a lot of people? They take their cash and leave their card behind — like me.
“No warning bell? No buzzer to let you know to not leave without your card?”
“Why would anyone need that? People know to wait for their cards.”
“Tell me: How many cards does each machine ‘take back’ on a daily basis?”
“Two or three.”
“So you solved the problem of fraudulent cash cards?”
“And that other problem your solution created?”
“What problem is that?”
LESSON NOT LEARNED? When you “solve” a problem make sure your solution doesn’t leave a NEW problem in its place. In the case of my former bank, this is the difference between: “It’s all about me” and “It’s all about our customers.”


Oh, boy! Christmas!

I’m working on this theory. It’s not completely worked out yet, but it’s based on something my wife said the other day. She was indicating that her five- and six-year-old students were really looking forward to Christmas. No big surprise, you say? She’s a teacher of English as a Second Language, and most of her students are Muslims.

My point is that I’m wondering if Christmas, even in its secular form of snowflakes and Santa, is becoming an interfaith holiday. Perhaps both sides in the so-called “War on Christmas” should call a truce. That some people experience Christmas without it being Christ Mass is OK. That to say Merry Christmas to one of indeterminate faith is OK.

I was reading something called ADVENT-ure, and it suggested that the evergreen tree is a sign of the eternal life of Jesus. I want to say “well, whatever”. I’m just hoping that people can find peace on earth, whatever their faith. And if people of different faiths, or no faith, can find joy in the Christian season of Advent, what’s wrong with that?
We went by this store last weekend with a sign that read “Place your Christmas order NOW!” For whatever reason, I imagine a drill sergeant bellowing, “ORDER THAT GIFT CARD!” “WRAP THOSE PRESENTS!” “SEND THOSE CARDS! NOW!”
I think I’d be drummed out of my choir if I didn’t mention this: First Presbyterian Church Albany presents its annual Advent Vespers Sunday, December 9 at 7:30 pm.

FPC’s Chancel Choir and Orchestra present Francesco Durante’s Magnificat, as well as two orchestral offerings – Christmas Concerto Grosso by Francesco Manfredini, and Weinachten by Max Reger.