Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Lately I’ve been concerned with the absolute blatant eradication of Christ from Christmas Activities in modern life.

The best evidence is the New York City chapter of the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) has chosen to rebrand itself as the “Y” and no longer allow Santa at it’s holiday parties. They’re replaced it with Frosty the Snowman.

From Christ to Santa is a stretch as it is but calling Santa too Christian at an organization founded as a Christian society is ridiculous. I’m starting to feel like the history books are being rewritten.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised and happy to find this gem that was forwarded to me. A true modern Christmas story. Merry Christmas everyone! And if you don’t celebrate it or recognize that others do, enjoy the time off from work, compliments of those who do.

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Canada’s best export. Walter V.

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A couple of years ago, when my little sister, her husband and new baby, were planning to visit for Christmas, she made the requirement that there must be a tree if they were going to be there.  I thought this was a good idea, but the holiday snuck up on me quicker than I expected and I was stuck two days before Christmas without a tree or decorations. Looking around for a Christmas tree was really tough, since most everyone had sold out of the any reasonably priced real trees,not to mention any decent ornaments. But, thanks to the expert creativity and consultation from my good friend Davy B. who is a Christmas atmosphere aficiando extraordinaire, we ended up traipsing through the left over pickings at Wal-mart, and “made do” with what we could. I ended up with probably the most decadent tree I’d ever dream of having. In my opinion it ought to be in the window at Macy’s. I’m always amazed at how making do, usually ends up better than what you expected in the first place.

This year, I was waiting for my new floors to get installed before putting up the tree and it seemed a little difficult to keep the Christmas feeling going. But once I had a bit of help the tree seemed to trim itself. And I’m no longer void of any Christmas spirit in my home.

Thanks to Amy & Family for the the impetus. Thanks to Dave for his superior tree trimming skillz, and to Shelly, Clay and Sharon who were a part of the tree set up this year. Last but not least thanks to the following artists who’ve all cashed in on the Christmas Collection Albums to provide us with a superior soundtrack for getting us with the spirit of it all. AOL FULL CD LISTENING PARTYTony Bennett, Amy Grant, Manheim Steamroller, Harry Connick Jr., Mariah Carrey, Kristin Chenowith, Loreena McKennit, Sarah Brightman, Straight No Chaser, Barenaked Ladies, Chipmunks Christmas, Christina Aguilera, the Holidays are coming Coca-Cola Christmas Commercial Music.

Voila! This years tree! Note: there are still 1/3 of the ornaments still left to hang.

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vistaico_christmas-png-christmas-holly-256x256It’s here folks! The Christmas season.  There’s no time that I have better memories for. Having grown up in Wisconsin where the snow is plenty by the beginning of November and the days got dark in early October. Christmas was always a welcome respite of warmth just before the grueling four or five months of winter ahead.

Classic Wisconsin Winter

Classic Wisconsin Winter

Curling up in a blanket with the fam all around like a den of rabbits in our makeshift family room (half finished basement) with hot cocoa after shoveling the walk for 2 hours or delivering newspapers at 5am in the morning was good for soul. And of course instead of the warm glow of a fire, we were glued to the electrode rays of our 25 year old Zenith, watching movies on a VCR.  So here’s a top ten list of my favorite Christmas movies.

Movies definitely NOT on the list. A Wonderful life. Grrrr…. that movie drives me crazy! Got news for you kid. Angels don’t have wings.

Honorable Mention:

The Polar Express (2004) -Technology at it’s best. Bringing the magic of story time alive.

The Holiday (2007) – A recent favorite of mine. A really good romantic comedy that’ll keep a skip in your step and a little hope for the future. Nice soundtrack. Jack Black, Cameron Diaz play their usual selves.

Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer (1964)– “Hey what do you say we both be independent together.”

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)- The original Debbie Downer does Christmas his way. But at least of all these movies this one pays tribute to the real reason for the season. “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”

In reverse order of preference here it goes!

10. Santa Clause the Movie (1985)– Critical Acclaim this movie has none. But for some reason this was a family favorite.

9. Miracle on 34th street (1947)– I am a believer. And so is the U.S. Postal Service. Progressive for it’s time a tribute to all the “working girls” out there.

8. Scrooged– Classic Bill Murray. A good spin on an old snoozer of a tale.

7. Holiday Inn (1942) -The movie that set the standard for making hits songs. Find yourself a someone to cuddle up with for this one. But be careful…. it’s my heart. _

6. White Christmas- (1954)– Classic fantasy of the 50’s. With a plot so sugary sweet it rivals the plight the sugar plum fairy. This was the perfect blend of music and dance for no apparent reason, a way to mix in the patriotism of the war and camaraderie of the times. Thought I can never tell the difference between this one and Holiday Inn.

5. Home Alone (1989)– When I saw this the first time I was really in Manheim Steamroller. Yes I was a nerd in high school. The soundtrack was perfect for this comedy of errors. The kid looked just like my little brother at the time so it all brought it “home.”

4. Elf (2003)– Classic Will Ferrell. This is what happens when someone tells Will Ferrell he can’t play to the fraternity crowd! A perfectly funny and endearing comedy! This is on the rise and chase the number 1 spot.

3. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) -Lines from this movie have become family favorites over the years. This is a great adaptation of the original which I always thought to a yawn fest followed by a horror flick. Muppet magic steals the for this one. 

2. A Christmas Story (1983)– Nostalgia at it’s best. Red Ryder BB guns, Double-dog dares, Major awards, Far, ra, ra, ra, rah, the one liners are endless.

1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – Classic Chevy Chase. This is a must see every year, in ritual form. Must have blanket, cocoa and friends willing to laugh out loud!

Did you notice a pattern there! I love to laugh. But let’s face it folks, what makes these show good are the heart of it all. Merry Christmas EVERYONE!

What are you favs?

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So of course I have all these grand ideas of how I was going to backlog some of my thoughts, blah, blah, blah. I’m in love with the idea of making experiences right the first time. However, the one thing I know about that, is that the more you plan for the perfect plan the more you procrastinate the crux of the experience or the point of the story. So without further ado, I present to you why life is so great. This week I visited my sister and brother-in-law for the Christmas. They live in the Manyaunk/Roxborough neighborhood of Philadelphia. As I drove up Umbria Street, I saw a line of people that wound around the corner, coming out of a little hole in the wall Mom & Pop shop bakery. Marchiano’s Bakery. http://www.marchianosbakery.com I love new experiences so a little later I walked in to the shop and told the cashier I was visiting from out of town, saw the line and wanted to know what the big deal was. She laughed a bit and said. Oh well, it must be this. Tomato Pie. Here’s the description from their menu; “Our WORLD FAMOUS tomato pie is a sheet of hand-rolled dough covered with crushed tomatoes, olive oil and a mixture of italian spices. It is baked until the crust is golden and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.” Now that might sound a little like a pizza, but believe me there’s nothing more satisfying. First of all the tomatoes sauce is FRESH. This makes for an amazingly sweet and light taste, but the bread/crust is hearty so it’s filling. As we ate we kept saying how perfect it was. Pizza gets too heavy with the meat and cheese and spices. This mixture of bread, tomatoes, oil and light spices is in short, perfection. And $7 for a half pie there’s no better, inexpensive meal. I love Tomato pie.

Next, we tried the Oreganta, one of their specialty breads. Menu description: “This exceptionally thin hand-rolled dough is filled with just the right touch of Italian spices and oils. This circular masterpiece can be enjoyed sweet, mild, or hot or filled with pepperoni, broccoli, or spinach.”

We tried the mild, which honestly was pretty spicy, but absolutely amazing! When you cut into it the cross section looks like a cinnabun sideways. But the insides are filled with again a light but hearty blend of fresh ingredients and spices, that make your mouth zing. It’s hard not to eat the whole thing in one sitting. The dipping sauce is fresh crushed tomatoes, which highlights the flavor, just enough to keep your mouth moist so you can enjoy more at one time. Truly amazing.

Later on in the week when we went back for another Tomato Pie, we tried one of their other Specialty Breads. Despite having sausage and peppers inside, it was a light and satisfying experience, but my favorites remaining, Tomato Pie and Oreganata.

So here’s my point to the story! Life is great! Sometimes the stars align and all is well with the world because you’ve discovered something new, or you’ve been able to connect with people in ways that you hadn’t thought about. The European neighborhoods of Philly at first seem a little run down, but if you spend just a few minutes, you can a feel sense of character. That run down look becomes charming and quaint. When you step inside you find the warmth and charm of peoples lives. Marchiano’s Bakery is nothing less than stereotypical Italian family bakery, but what charm. The WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) ways of Philadelphians or East Coast Urbanites for that matter, may be a little abrasive, but for as over-the-top it is there’s something great about knowing theres’ sheer honesty and sincerity standing in front of you.

My Christmas visit with Mike, Amy, Libby and little Ben, turned out to be nothing less than perfect. There’s still a lot of problems of in life, but gratitude is the best of things. It allows you to let go of the stress, instantly or momentarily to see new things and see old things with new eyes. I love Tomato Pie, Oreganata and charming urban landscapes. I love my family. Happy New Year in 2008! I hope you make it to Marchiano’s Bakery this year!


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