30 November 2015

Och, Aye, It's St. Andrew's Day

For many years St. Andrew's Day opened the Advent season in Scotland.

St Andrew's Day: 14 Scottish Phrases You've Probably Never Heard 

Five Things You Didn't Know about St. Andrew (could one of them be "he wasn't Scottish"?)

St. Andrew's Day in Scotland

St Andrew’s Day 2015: Why Even the Scots Couldn’t Care Less (I had no idea the poor sod Scots now had Black Friday, too)

Brown Pants for Christmas and Other Stories


Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!, edited by Amy Newmark
So what better place to start Christmas reading than here, 101 (like the Dalmatians) of short, inspirational stories for the holidays (and I mean both, since Hanukkah features many times in this edition, while other Christmas stories have Jewish protagonists participating in the festivities).

What's really to say about these stories? Some are funny, like the one about the woman determined to make the perfect dinner, even though she's not much of a cook, who has the unexpected happen with her Christmas turkey. Others are about people discovering the joys of giving (my favorite part of the holiday!) rather than getting, or about getting through Christmas after a beloved relative or friend has passed on or because they are alone. We learn about a Christmas tree full of heart ornaments, and another in which for a long time all the decorations were simple love notes from a husband to wife and vice versa. There are stories taking place in sunny Arizona, in snowy mountains, on a cruise ship and on a boat. Along the way a dog comments on Christmas cookies, people look at gifts a whole new way, a few marriages change, others cope with a whole new way of life, grandchildren grow and carry on traditions, with the common factor being the Christmas spirit. You can have it with no decorations, or a twig hung with the most unexpected of ornaments, or a tree that won't fit in the space properly, because that's really all that is needed: not gifts, expensive china, turkey dinners or snow.

It's sentimental. Gruff "I hate sentiment" folks are warned. Buy something else that you love to read. But if you want a nice warm fuzzy throw of love, hot cocoa in print, this one will do it for you.

29 November 2015

Christmas Nostalgia in Photography


Vintage Christmas Photographs: 1920s

Vintage Christmas Photographs: pre-1920s

Vintage Christmas Photographs: 1930s

Vintage Christmas Photographs: World War II era

Vintage Photographs of Christmas in Boston, mostly 1950s era

Vintage Christmastime in the City

Wartime Christmas

26 November 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

17 November 2015

Read a Thanksgiving Story!

Read the story in book form at Archive.org, the first story in this volume of Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag.

L.M. Montgomery's "The Genesis of the Doughnut Club," a different kind of Thanksgiving story.

A poor but honest boy gets a reward in "Bert's Thanksgiving."

Read The Children's Book of Thanksgiving Stories online or download it to your e-reader.

15 November 2015

Vintage Thanksgiving Photographs

Over the years, Thanksgiving celebrations have changed. If you've read Betty Smith's classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, you may remember Francie and Neely going out playing "ragamuffin" on Thanksgiving. Here are photos of the real thing:

Thanksgiving Masquers in 1911

Additional Photos of Thanksgiving Masquers

In the 1920s, the Macy's parade began:

Vintage Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Photos

More Macy's Parade Photos

Amusing Photos of Macy's Parade Balloons

More black-and-white Thanksgiving photographs:

Little Girl and Thanksgiving Turkeys

Smithsonian Vintage Thanksgiving Photos

Classic Black-and-White Thanksgiving

11 November 2015

This holiday was originally called "Armistice Day" to commemorate the ending of World War I, originally the Great War, which officially ended at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918 ("the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month"). My parents, who were born in that decade, still called it that even after the name was changed after World War II.

In "my day" (that sounds so pretentious!), this poem was heard at school assemblies every November. We all learned it by heart:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

It's probably the one World War I poem everyone knows. The author was John McCrae, a Canadian, who did not survive the war.

More World War I Poetry

31 October 2015

30 October 2015

Autumn Reveries

Fall scenes set to beautiful music!

Autumn Animals!
Hedgehog from Centerparc's blog:

Red squirrel from BoredPanda.com

West Highland White in the leaves from Animalfair.com

White horse in autumn by Brian Jannsen:

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Robert Frost (1923)

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

God’s World
Edna St. Vincent Millay (from Renascence and Other Poems, 1917)

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
     Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
     Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
     But never knew I this;
     Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

25 October 2015

Rudolph Day, October 2015

Truman Capote's enduring classic:

"A Christmas Memory"

"Why I Reread 'A Christmas Memory'"

04 October 2015

"October Gave a Party..."

October's Party
George Cooper

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly "hands around."

01 October 2015

Welcome to Fall!

I know the equinox was in September, but it really doesn't feel like fall until October is here.

How'd you like to walk down this path right now?

25 September 2015

Rudolph Day September 2015

How about the stories behind some Christmas carols, told in film and prose:

Story of "The Huron Carol"

Story of "O Little Town of Bethlehem"

Story of "Silent Night", also told in this Coronet film

25 August 2015