Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Love Actually IS All Around Us

December 7, 2013


It’s that time again. The time of year when we dust off the old classic Christmas films and view them again as if for the first time. There is a reason for the season of classic Christmas movie watching, it makes us feel festive, it harkens (Harkens! Like in “Hark, the herald tribune rings, advertising wonderous things!) to an earlier time of Christmas joy and good cheer; peace on Earth, goodwill to bargain shoppers. They remind us of a time when Christmas made a special memory in our lives… or not. But still, Christmas movies are not about reality, they are about a FEELING. And what better feeling is there than love? Love your neighbor, love your family, love your church, love your political party (wait! separation of church and state nullifies that last one, sorry). So imagine my surprise when I got this message:

Now, you know, we are not talking rocket surgery here. Movies, especially Christmas movies, suspend belief in anything tangible and real as we know it. Christmas movies are meant to make us FEEL GOOD, not make us feel depressed. If we want to be depressed, we’ll watch the news or glance inside our checkbooks. Reality does not need to be part of our Christmas movie watching because, well, let’s face it, Christmas is not about reality. Christmas is about the hope of something better though not yet realized. It is no different than the hope of some political figure making the world a better place with no actual ways or means to go about it. But still we hope and continue to do so each time we vote. Hope sells us on an idea and as long as we never run out of hope, people like Rob Ford will lead us. But let’s get back to the non-reality of the movie, Love Actually.

Love Actually is not a movie that promises to do anything but make us believe that love actually is all around us. How we find it varies from person to person and each situation is different, but it is love and only love that holds the human race together. Christmas reminds us of that, even though it has been diluted to mean nothing more than finding bargains on Black Friday after giving thanks for what we have the day before. That doesn’t diminish the impact that the Christmas message has if a person cares to take a look. Love Actually takes several different accounts and ties them all together under one theme and that is, No matter who you are or where you end up, love makes the difference and circumstances being what they are it is best not to fight it, analyze it or try to explain it. When you have love, give love or are IN love, the world is a better place. No one will argue with the fact that we need more love in the world.

So I defend the movie, Love Actually AS a romantic, Christmas comedy. The movie I saw said that in spite of all the sadness in the world, the mishaps, disappointments and unpredictability of life… Love Actually is all around us. Granted there are things in this movie that are not put in there to cheer for, in the end the lesson is All You Need is Love. It isn’t a reality flick, though the situations can be very real. It is a message for all of us, admonishing us to have faith, hope and to endure. Love Actually is a Frank Capra film for the new millennium… It’s a Wonderful Life retold and reaffirmed.

Enjoy it!

giddy-up 409 (Joy to the World… and all that happy crap)

December 24, 2010

Okay, I was going to do something along the lines of this for my 409th post…

but perhaps we should just skip all that stuff.   A post is a post is a post around here at AMRFP.  They are like buses, if you miss one another will be along soon.

But today I think I’ll ask you to do something else.  It’s Christmas Eve, for cryin’ out loud!  Divert your attention here instead:  You won’t be disappointed.

I imagine one day that my blog archives will be studied by a highly intelligent species and they will say something along the lines of  “This man was a friggin’ genius” or maybe they’ll just use their telepathic capabilities, clunk their heads together and hum Pink Floyd’s One of These Days…

 but in the meantime…

I don’t think I could have said it better myself…


Ho, Ho, Humbug? Share Merry Christmas or Declare Happy Holidays?

November 28, 2010

Living up here in Canada I was beginning to worry.  It was closing in on the last week of November and it hadn’t snowed yet.  Three years ago I flew up here and the snow was as deep and cold as I expected but now I lamented, “Where’s the snow?”  But be careful what you pine over because Old Man Winter has some big ears. 

It snowed Thursday and through the night it snowed again.  We awoke this morning to more snow.

My BB says now it appears like snow has always been here and it is true, we live in the Great White North.  Brrr… it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. 

So imagine my interest when I discovered this on the Internet…  I didn’t know there were actually stores out there that refused to promote or minimized the approach of Christmas.  I had to stop and wonder about that…

Victoria’s Secret?  What do they have against the pagan sun-god worshippers ritual?  You’d think that they’d want to promote the sale of their sexy lingerie at all costs, wouldn’t you?

Barnes and Noble?   Seems like they’d want to cash in on the Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men sales motto.  So I had to look deeper…

There you go, lots of Christmas language in that video.

And they mention Radio Shack?  How about this? 

or this?

Okay, so now I’m confused.  Either stores promote the day erroneously marked as Christ’s birth or they don’t.  Personally I don’t care and God bless ’em if they choose not to, but where does the AFA get their information?  From readers like you.

So I had to go back and view the Victoria’s Secret ads again and pay more than the usual (!) attention and guess what?  They left the word Christmas to the imagination (and little else) so, hmmm… does that really portray or betray the spirit of giving?

Now with a keener eye (ha!) I looked back at Barnes and Nobles then the Radio Shack ads.  B&N’s online ad merely mentioned Holiday gifts but their B&N Tags video seemed to balance Christmas in amongst their segments.  Both Radio Shack videos did the same.  So here’s the rub…

The American Family Association puts this list together implying retailers either support Christmas minimally, profoundly or not at all.  But does this aid us in discovering the true meaning of the holiday?  Or does it just boycott the notion that this spirit we are supposed to develop comes from within regardless of where we shop?  If I’m filled with the ghosts of Christmas! At last!  does it really matter if my retailer joins in that sentiment?  And what about their employees and their families, don’t they deserve the benefit of Christmas charity and prosperity?

Our 11-year-old is anxiously awaiting Christmas.  You’d think it would be because of the gifts he is anticipating and that is a  reasonable assumption.   Most 11 year olds can hardly wait for the new video game, new electronic gadgetry or music machine that is flooding the want lists of kids around the world and he’s no exception.

But lately, there is something more… he wants to give gifts.  A gift for his younger brother and one for his older sister.  A gift for his mother and even one for me!  Gifts all around.  And he’s worried time will run out before he is able to earn enough money to buy them all.  He doesn’t realize it, but he has already given me the grandest gift a child can give.  He has shown his willingness to share.  Not to say he hasn’t felt that spirit in the past but this holiday season it has had an impact on me.

These days it is hard to cultivate sharing.  Usually it is all about what you will get that matters.  That is probably the biggest turn off the Christmas holiday brings to me.  I don’t like the fact that a date on the calendar dictates whether I will be generous or not.  I feel that it means more when a gift is offered “out of the blue” with no strings attached.

Now seeing our young man get excited for the gifts he is about to present to others puts a warm feeling in my heart.  It is the feeling that perhaps all your parenting efforts have not gone un-noticed, perhaps through all your hits and misses, the joy of sharing has taken root and blossoms forth.

And that is a good thing. 

So, if  in your travels you notice… “Hey! They’re putting out Christmas decorations already!”  and you are trying to decide whether it fits in your politics or not to succumb to all the hype, remember this…

There really can be “Joy to the World”, even if it is only one giving heart at a time.

Have a safe and warm (!) holiday season.


P.S.  This was sent to me by an alert reader, thought it fit in perfectly with our topic…

















Cleverly done!!! 

 Twas the Month before Christmas 


Twas the month before Christmas


When all through our land,


Not a Christian was praying


Nor taking a stand.


See the PC Police had taken away


The reason for Christmas – no one could say.


The children were told by their schools not to sing


About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.


It might hurt people’s feelings, the teachers would say


 December 25th is just a ‘ Holiday ‘.


Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit


Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!


CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod


Something was changing, something quite odd! 


Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa


In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.


As Targets were hanging their trees upside down


At Lowe’s the word Christmas – was no where to be found.


At K-Mart and Staples and Penny’s and Sears


You won’t hear the word Christmas; it won’t touch your ears.


Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty


Are words that were used to intimidate me.


Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen


On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !


At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter


To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.


And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith


 Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace


The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded


The reason for the season, stopped before it started.


So as you celebrate ‘Winter Break’ under your ‘Dream Tree’


Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.


Choose your words carefully, choose what you say




not Happy Holiday !


Please, all Christians join together and


wish everyone you meet




Christ is The Reason’ for the Christ-mas Season!

A Sand Road Christmas Card

December 23, 2008

I have enjoyed many yuletide carols and fa la la lala -ing in my time. We have made multiple wishes for peace on Earth and goodwill to men in my small family community, enough to fill the mandates of 10 United Nations. As the years do their one horse open sleigh ride through the memories that remain evergreen, I am reminded that not all recall the past as warmly as I do.

We struggled in those years; my single mother, six sisters and I. When the holidays rolled around it was a time to be anything but joyous. We were never certain where we would be living from one month to the next let alone be shopping for holiday gifts for ourselves. In those days we would draw names at school from our list of classmates in order to buy gifts for one another, and I dreaded each time having to ask my mother for the money. Even a couple of dollars was a big dent in our funds and I grew to resent the season to be jolly because of it’s hopeful glitter and emphasis on our poverty.

It was all a sham. Merchants displaying the traditions, crafts, foods, music, and toys of the holiday would put a desirous longing in my heart each year. But a cold reality as deep as a snow drift crept in my young mind all the while. It didn’t matter if I was “naughty or nice.” I could have been the nicest guy on the planet (though I wasn’t) and still the outcome would have been the same. I’d hear an aunt or uncle talking about how their family “weren’t going to have much of a Christmas this year” and I would cringe. They didn’t know what it meant to “not have much of a Christmas” because they gauged it on Christmas’ past. We knew each year that it wasn’t going to be much of one because it wasn’t much of one every year. But then one year a miracle happened, my oldest sister married.

No, I did not mean it was a miracle that she married. It was a miracle because when she married she remembered us, her siblings. I don’t doubt that back then it was sort of like a release from purgatory for her to become partners with a man and begin a family of her own. Whatever her feelings about being raised by my mother as the oldest and spending time with the rest of us kids (there were only 4 of us by the time she moved on) she was generous in her spirit. I received my first bicycle from her and my brother-in-law, and that year Christmas was the most joyous one for me and it remains so to this day. (see the post, My First Bicycle from 8-29-07)

But another Christmas year stands out in my mind as well and it was during the time we lived on the Sand Road back in Iowa.

My poor mother never had a chance when she was young. The opportunity for an education eluded her and the need to grow up too fast robbed my mother of her youth and the dreams associated with innocence. She was married at 15 the first time and frivolously threw away relationships that could have fostered a salvation of sorts with each marriage that followed. Instead of finding better relationships she fell in with unsavory men that abused her. Finally my mother found herself alone with the 7 children she bore having no skills or guidance on what being a proper parent meant. Being the oldest in her family, the only way to get out of her own circumstances (her father died when she was 12) was to marry and move on, with devastating results. In many ways, she was not more than a child herself.

We whittled through many locations in eastern Iowa and lived in Council Bluffs twice before we settled into the house on Sand Road. Usually it was because we couldn’t pay the rent and had to make a “mid-night move-out” to avoid the landlord. I think my mother had reached a time in her life where she realized she would remain alone from that point on. Fortunately my kind hearted grandfather by my grandmother’s second marriage had arranged to purchase this major fixer upper, otherwise we would have had no where else to go. Living in that house would ultimately change my life. (see the posts, My Dog Sam beginning on 1-20-08) Though at the time I felt our circumstances went from bad to worse.

My mother informed us that this year she could afford to buy a Christmas tree to enjoy or she would take that money and buy us gifts, but we had to choose one or the other. You can imagine what amount of money she had to buy gifts with if that sum total was what it cost to purchase a tree back then. I remember we all agreed in unison that we had to have a Christmas tree, even if it meant that we could not have the gifts. It was also quite possible that a bill was not going to get paid or the rent to my grandfather was going to be a little short, but our mother would not be deterred.

I know there were sacrifices she made back then. I do not recall ever seeing my mother buying something for herself, unless it were pen and paper. The cars we drove were clunkers, the clothes we wore were thrift store bargains or hand-me-downs. We were welfare babies and did not have any money to waste on things like toys and such. But whatever we had to do without, she did with less.

My mother had a generous spirit and opened up our table many times offering the food that we had. There were nights we spent together eating and talking amongst ourselves about what she had read or philosophised about. We laughed a lot about things we could only imagine that “someday” might happen. She loved music and would often sing to us. Many times traveling in our “beater” my mother would sing Patsy Cline or Loretta Lynn. Given the right circumstances my mother could have been a successful singer. But Christmas was always a cold reality check, the proof in the pudding, the wake up call to our dismal circumstances and hopeless surroundings.

That year we had decided to have the tree and were not expecting anything from my mother. Each night we dutifully plugged in the lights and gazed at the reflective tinsel that we had carefully strung like icicles from it’s boughs. I think our first season on Sand Road was particularly hard because we had just moved again after my mother’s last husband had walked out on her. My younger sisters tried to add to the festive appeal of the tree. They made their own gifts and went wrapping up some knick knack or other forgotten object left laying about just to add substance to it’s base. Christmas music played from the radio in our kitchen that usually boasted Johnny Cash or Merle Haggard. I could not wait for December 26th and the putting of all this useless longing behind us. But then, another miracle.

My next oldest sister was in her mid- teens and had been working as a waitress for a while. In her generous spirit she had purchased numerous gifts for all of us . On Christmas day, my oldest sister and my brother-in-law rolled in a wood cabinet stereo console for my mother along with gifts for her Grinch-like brother and sweet, little sisters. My mother cried when she saw the console, declaring it beautiful and began playing her precious albums immediately. I think it was the first time I saw my mother openly weep over receiving a gift. So it was my two oldest sisters that made our holiday memorable that year and I’ve never forgotten it.

I know my mother prayed, I found her upstairs one time kneeling on the edge of her bed. I think being caught appealing to the Almighty embarrassed her, because we were not overly religious. I also know that world events troubled her as well, recalling how she cried when Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy died. And I have no doubt that she anguished over her abilities as a parent, because she always tried to bestow as much wisdom as she could in her dealings with us kids. It had to be frustrating to feel that the entire world was against you and then have some event at home cause you to cave in, as she did numerous times.

But now as this Christmas rolls around and I look at my own tree set up by my wife and her children, I remember that time when we had the choice of something however meager now or the representation of the hope of better things to come… and we chose the latter. I do not know why that was. You would think that having done without all our young lives we would have gone for the substance, the bird in the hand.

I am not a guy that goes for the celebration of Christmas in the worldly sense, but I do enjoy the traditions of family and friends that come with it. I haven’t purchased any gifts and my poor, new bride is left to accept the cards we receive from the relatives she has yet to meet as graciously as she can. I know she feels the acceptance and love from my sisters as if she were one of them and it makes me feel proud of the girls.

I am also grateful to my mother who left the choice of what Christmas was all about to us and despite our crummy circumstances… we chose hope. My mother gave us her generous spirit and when we express it in giving and/or forgiving, we do her a great honor because that is all she had. I feel that she did the best she could under the circumstances and now my mother lives in each one of her children, especially during Christmas… through the miracle of love.

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season.

Merry Christmas from the Sand Road.


a holiday wish…

November 12, 2007

I didn’t really know her all that well, but I liked her alot.  She was an attractive woman in her early 30’s who smiled the friendliest smile and took a complement with a blushing shyness that egged me to pour it on just because I could…

I go to this one restaurant for breakfast alot,  I pass dozens on the week-end because I consider the servers and management here my friends… and they seem to like me, too.  Though I am repeatedly told it is not because of my generous tipping. (20%, right?  I DO that!)  Occasionally the GM will join me, or my business partner and me if it is a weekday, and we’ll talk about all kinds of incriminating stuff… like online romances, politics and my view of the world.  Usually I am the fodder for their little digs, (even the servers chime in their two cents) but I am usually in good humor and just let it roll off.  I figure if they are picking on me they are leaving someone else alone and since  I have the shoulders to carry it, I do so with pride… I know my heart and it is content within itself.

This week -end, Saturday, was a beautiful day in S.W. Florida.  In fact, the weather this month has been  gorgeous, perfect for the ol’ convertible and a tank full of gas.  The only thing that could possibly make it better is a green eyed girl with a smile that lights up like a canvas… the portrait of an astonishing soul rush.

Sometimes I ask who is working the floor and if I haven’t seen one person for a while I’ll request their section.  A regular has to be careful to spread the love around, otherwise hurt feelings could be the result, or so I tell myself.  It is quite possible that they could give two hoots whether I sit in their section or not, but since I am a celebrity in my own mind I prima donna where I choose.  They stick me in the corner, out of sight and out of mind but my server knows my requirements and is at my side in a flash with hot water, tea and honey (there are advantages to being a regular.)  I had purchased the daily newspaper and was all set for a leisurely read, steamin’ hot tea and undisturbed bliss.  But within minutes one of my girls came up to me and had obviously been crying.

“Have you heard about…?”

“No, what’s up?”

“She died last night!”

“What?  How?”

“She had a heart attack!  She was receiving a blood transfusion, had a heart attack and died!”

“A heart attack!  she was so young! why a blood transfusion?”

“She lacked iron, she’s had them before… I can’t believe she’s gone!”

I couldn’t believe it, either.  This warm, friendly woman with 3 kids was gone, six weeks before Christmas.  No husband, a single mother who struggled to make ends meet by waiting on me and smiling her smile regardless of my whimsy was not coming back to work… and something inside of me hurt real bad.

I know the holidays are over played, over commercialized, over spent, over sung, over emphasized, and ever downplayed by the likes of me… but this approaching holiday season caught me wondering about those little kids who as of that Saturday morning still didn’t know their mother had died the night before, pending notification of the next of kin. 

Even in my generosity I have been selfish in my spirit.  Even in my kindness I have been with holding joy to the world.  Even with all the love I hold in my heart right now, and sometimes  feel I may burst because of it… I do not love enough.

Last year something happened the day before Christmas eve to make me stop and take accounting for my bah humbugness, I guess this year will be no exception… and it happened early enough that I won’t be forgetting it too soon with the ringing in of the new year.

I tell myself that I don’t need a holiday to buy a gift for someone I love.  I don’t need a holiday to think of Jesus and his sacrifice for all mankind and especially thankless sinners such as myself.  I don’t need a holiday to think “peace on Earth, goodwill to men.”  But I do need reminders…

I need to be reminded that life is fragile and unrehearsed;  a gentle whisper to a loved one far away… the fog of the mirror when you are shaving, the song that you play when you think of her, the morning sun that you squint at while cursing traffic, the breeze that you imagine will carry her name each time you breathe it…  each time you utter the words…

do I say it enough?  I love you.

This life we lead;  all that we hold dear… all that we can hope from it… all that we put in and take out… all that we aspire to… all that we leave behind… this life, is fleeting and can be gone before we are ready to give it up.

So… this is my holiday wish:  take stock, my friends.  That person that you may be sending to and fro to gather your napkins, fetch your tea, take back burnt toast and will pleasantly ask if there will be anything else?  is counting on you to remember what this life and this holiday season is all about…


please… receive it graciously.