December 21, 2009

Please Put the Christmas Commercials Away And No One Will Get Hurt posted by Leann Sweeney I am one of those people who get the Christmas blues every single year. But for once I am beginning to understand part of the reason. It's those darn commercials that begin in early November and continue on for more than two months--because they keep on selling stuff at bargain prices long past New Years. Not really bargains, but they sure want you to think so. Okay, longest running least favorite Christmas commercial? "Every kiss begins with Kay." If that's true, then how did I give birth to two children without ever receiving anything from that jewelry store? Because, I must admit, kissing was involved in creating those children. So Kay is lying about EVERY kiss. And I am so disappointed in them for perpetuating that fairy tale year after year. Next, the Hershey's kisses pretending to be bells. Annoying as all get out and yes, part of that annoyance is because I am allergic to chocolate. Do not keep reminding me, Hershey's. I'm depressed, remember? People singing on mountain tops and trying to make us believe that Coke will make us all smile and hold hands and love one another. Coke is connected to dental visits, lap band surgery and Jenny Craig. Oh, and New Years Resolutions that will be forgotten by the time the Super Bowl rolls around. Target convincing the gullible public that they can give their families everything they ever wanted and not overspend. No one ever bought one item at Target. Not in the history of the universe. On average, if people are like me, they walk out of Target having spent about twenty times more than they decided they would spend when they came in the door. Toys 'R Us telling me over and over and over that I can shop at 3AM. Even when my kids were small, you wouldn't find me shopping in a toy store at that hour. So quit telling me to do this. I don't like your tactics or your commercials, Toys 'R Us. Big bows on luxury cars. Raise your hand if you ever got a $50,000 car for Christmas. Have I made my point? Trailers for Christmas movies. By the time I have watched each trailer 500 times on TV, I have had all I can take. Why go to a movie if you know the whole plot or heard all the best jokes? But there are a series of commercials that air at the holidays every year that I actually look forward to. And watch with a smile on my face. The Clydesdales. Yup. They could run those commercials all year long and I'd never tire of them. I'm not completely bah-humbugged if I can enjoy one or two commercials, right?
When Traditions End Posted by Lorraine Bartlett My Dad was a craftsman, and could do just about anything. He built half the furniture in my house. Heck, he gutted my first house and made it a home. (I impeded him with that operation, but learned a lot, as well.) He went through a lot of hobbies. For a while he did leathercraft. I still have--and use--the wallet he made for me over 30 years ago. He made jewelry. (I wear 14 rings, five of them he made.) But one of his most endearing projects were his wood carvings--a hobby that stayed with him for a long time. He liked to do variations of Santa, and literally did hundreds of them. These little guys were one of his first efforts, and look pretty primitive when compared with his later work. He gave them to me for my birthday in 1992. When he'd finished them, he thought they looked like they were singing--and that they should do that under a lamppost--so he made one of those, too! At first, he was very critical of the painting of his carvings, and even asked my husband to do a few, but in no time he was better at it than Frank, and adding more and more decorations to the little guys. He did fat Santas, tall Santas and a lot of short Santas. His favorite were Tomties--little elves that help Santa. (As pictured on the right.) He made a LOT of these, and usually they were doing something, (like this little guy holding the candle) and usually wore "wooden" shoes. I'm really not sure how Dad got into carving, but for him, it was an adventure, albeit a usually solitary affair. I had my critique group, and Dad had his carving buddies that he saw every few weeks. One of them moved to Berea, KY--home of The Kentucky Artisans center, which, like the name says, showcases the work Kentucky's best artisans. Dad's former carving partner wanted to make a certain carving, but it wouldn't come out right, so Dad made one and sent it to him as a prototype. Unknown to Dad, the man put Dad's carving into a local competition where it took first prize! (The one on the left is another version of that prizewinner.) As far as adventures go, one day Dad was in his workshop carving, when he called up to my mother. "I've cut myself." She figured he'd cut his hand, but he'd actually dropped the knife on his thigh. When she got down to the workshop, there was so much blood, she thought he'd slashed an artery and got on the phone to 911, then hauled him upstairs to wait for the ambulance. There was blood everywhere--on the workshop floor, the stairs, all over the kitchen. The EMTs arrived in record time and got the bleeding under control, but they sent him to the ER just in case. Then they wanted to see THE CARVING KNIFE. When Mom showed the guy, he nearly went into hysterics of laughter. He'd been expecting a 10-inch carving knife, not a tiny 1-inch blade. (Hey, those suckers are sharp.) Ninety minutes later, Dad was belly-up to the bar at my Aunt's house where they were supposed to go for dinner--and only 30 minutes late. (Hey, there was a Manhattan waiting with his name on it.) One of my favorite carvings is Santa stuck in the chimney. From the top, all you see are Santa's legs sticking out--but turn the carving over, and there's Santa's sooty face. Dad didn't do too many carvings these last few years. His remaining carving buddy moved away and it wasn't so much fun any more. But last year for Christmas he gave me two of his last efforts. One was unpainted, the other was a Bear dressed in overalls. They live in my office, with a couple of fishermen, an owl, and an unfinished Santa tree ornament. The rest of them reside on a little bookshelf in my living room. I have carved bunnies, birds, a deer, and even a walrus, and I love them all. Dad passed away in October, so there won't be just one more "found" carving to go in my collection. (I know they're there--I've seen them in his workshop, which is pretty much just the way he left it.) It's the end of a wonderful tradition. While it makes me terribly sad, I have all these wonderful pieces that Dad made, a lot of them signed "For Lorraine made by her Dad." The were the best Christmas presents ever.

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

The Typepad Team

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