Devins Network blogs Crane with Christmas Lights

Construction Cranes with Christmas Lights

A special glow on city streets as the setting sun retires each day during the holiday season...

The title of this post says it all. What a joyful sight it is to see construction cranes in cities and towns with Christmas lights strung across the structures. Someone must have to take credit for starting this idea, and it is so wonderful to see that so many construction companies have adopted this celebration of the season.

Like Neil Pasricha mentions in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", "they're not selling anything. Nope, Christmas lights on construction sites just smile down on the city and cover us all in a warm and festive light"

Thanks to those who have taken the time, the expense and the risk of adorning cranes with these special Christmas and holiday treats on our cityscapes and town horizons. You certainly help put a punch of awesome into our happiness this season.

And...given that it is American Thanksgiving November 23rd, I am now permitted (thanks, Kath) to turn on the light lights and hang out the outdoor decorations. Bring on the season. Let's keep it awesome.

@fergdevins


couple walking

When Strangers Wish you Happy Holidays

Continuing on with my little rant video on Instagram about the lack of "morning hellos" returned my way, it is pretty special when a strangers wishes you "happy holidays" - isn't it !?

On a walk with neighbours, the other day, we were remarking about how fascinating it is to pass people on the street and see the percentage that returns "Hello" along the way. Our finding is (in Toronto) that it is less than 50% that respond back to hello, good morning, hello there, good afternoon, hi. Sad, isn't it !? The next time you are out for a walk, in the park, with the dog, in the neighbourhood - do your own little audit and let me know.

However, this post is to continue my string of posts related to "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" by Neil Pasricha. Neil's "page 14" reference to awesome relates to "When Strangers wish you happy holidays".

So, picking up on my intro, how awesome is it when someone actually initiates the greeting. Given what I stated in the opening paragraph, I am delighted. It is so nice to have another person just make that eye to eye, voice to voice, and make a connection with me. OK, I'll give those that wish to put their head down and walk without interacting your time of day. I respect that but wouldn't meditation along be better than just ignoring all of humankind that you pass by?

Perhaps this little post might make each of us a little more aware of the opportunity to greet our fellow community members with a "Happy Holidays", or "Merry Christmas" or "Good Morning", just because there is nothing wrong with all of us spreading a little goodwill in our day.

Wishing all the strangers reading this post "happy holidays".

@fergdevins


snow shoveling

Snow Shoveling Etiquette this winter

That neighbourly moment truly appreciated when you go to shovel the front walk...and it is already done for you! There are lots of folks who struggle with winter, aging neighbours, sickly folks, bad backs and those who are just too busy getting their day started to worry about the snow that has fallen. A little wintry support can go a long way.

Greetings friends and family across this great nation. By the looks of the Global News weather reports, some of you are facing snow, others still waiting. I thought that in the context of my string of blog posts inspired by Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" that I would post about shoveling etiquette.

Neil Pasricha refers to the awesome moment being "When the neighbour shovels your little patch of the sidewalk".

It is that wonderful surprise when you turn the corner after shoveling the back driveway and realize that your neighbours have already completed your front walk! How about that neighbourly support. It is truly wonderful and only something experienced through the snow. It's not like they pop over to rake and bag leaves in the fall. Have you ever had a neighbour drop in when you have a branch down after a wind storm? But, that winter magic of a snowfall just brings out the goodwill in all of us.

My son and I actually look forward to "the big dump" when we can lend a hand and fire up our snow blower to help out folks along the street. Ok ok, so the boys get to play with their toy. It is gratifying to blow the snow, shovel the walk and see the smile on the faces of neighbours as they awake to find the snow shoveling "done".

Long range forecasts today are suggesting a much snowier winter in Canada this winter. Tune up those snow shovels and get out and surprise your neighbours.

@fergdevins


Santa

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

At the jolly big soul with the red suit, white beer and "ho ho ho" arrived in many communities this past weekend. Certainly Santa Claus brings joy, smiles and great memories of Christmas's past to family and friends. Safe travels Mr. Claus.

Continuing along my daily blog posts inspired by Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", I am actually going to post a personal memory today. It relates to Santa Claus Coming to Town.

 

I have heard of numerous Santa Claus parades and tree lightings taking place over this past weekend. I know that my hometown of Kenora had their annual tree lighting at Main and Second Street on Friday night. My parents advised that in their new community of Bowmanville, the Santa Claus Parade was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Right here at home in Toronto, the "world famous" Santa Claus Parade meandered its way through downtown City streets to the delight of more than a half million people strung along the route.

 

The Santa Claus parade is a remarkable tradition. I'm not quite sure how the jolly old man in the red suit can make it back and forth to all of these communities, and keep an eye on his workshop at the North Pole. However, that is all part of the magic of the Christmas season.

 

I've met Santa in Toronto on several occasions. One of the most memorable was when Santa was attending a Variety Village event. He asked me if we would be attending the parade. I advised that we would be attending and that we would be above the old Shopsey's store at the turn from Yonge Street to Front Street. Santa asked me the names of my children. He advised that if Kathy and I and our children were at the end of the terrace closest to Yonge and Front that he would shout out a greeting to our family. Well...you can just imagine. As the parade was winding down, there was great anticipation for the arrival of the final float. Kath and I quickly gathered up Helena and Clark and took our position nearest Yonge and Front Street. As Santa's float made the turn he was greeting all the mom's and dad's and then said "and a big hello to Helena and Clark...Merry Christmas!". The look on the faces of Helena and Clark with just one of those truly magical moments of Christmas.  They were simply awestruck in the moment.

 

We have had many awesome moments through all those years of attending the Toronto Santa Claus parade. That year took the prize for all time great in the book of awesome. Thanks to the Toronto committee that has kept this fine tradition alive all these years.

 

Santa. Wherever you are this fine Sunday eve. Wishing you safe travels and well wishes for a great holiday season. Ho Ho Ho !

 

@fergdevins


Snowfall

The First Big Snowfall

Given the look of weather forecasts and winter storm conditions coast to coast to coast, this blog post seems so appropriate this morning. With a blanket of snow in several parts of the country, it is hard to believe that the official first day of winter is still weeks away. Cheers to the first snowfall.

No matter where you are in Canada you might be thinking of that first big snowfall. If you recieved this post as a tweet feed you might be thinking "Where are you Ferg?". The post is actually inspired by the work of Neil Pasricha and his 2011 copyrighted edition of "The Book Of (Holiday) Awesome".

Neil reveals a series of moments during the holiday season that is just simply awesome.

The moment of awesome that I refer to tonight is that first big snowfall of the season. Growing up in Kenora, Ontario on the northernmost shore of Lake of the Woods, that first big snowfall was often Halloween. We'd put on our snowsuits and our Halloween garb and head out to the streets for trick and treating.

Often times the first snowfall would catch everyone by surprise. In that regard, you might have had a 50/50 chance of a "snow day". In the north, we didn't see many "snow days". In fact, it was kind of a "buck it up buttercup" approach. We are in the north and it will snow. Southern Ontario, I found, was a little less capable of quickly adapting to the first dump of snow.

I remember when I was a young District Manager at Molson in the 90's. If I had my team meeting on Monday and a snowfall was forecasted, I would just plan to get there early. My team would arrive late and complain of the snowfall. I'd quickly ask them if they had heard the forecast for snow and question why they had not planned for the probability of slower traffic. I guess that was just the "northerner" in me...smiles.

When at College and University it was always a joyous time of year to have the first snow arrive. Sometimes it meant that expectations were lowered on arrival to class. On the way to class, there would be numerous snowball clashes. It was always a bit humorous to see who was prepared with boots or still wearing running shoes or less that appropriate footwear for the conditions.

As a parent with young children, the first snowfall was always magical. The joy of that first snowfall and just getting the chance to get out and romp around in the snow was such a heartwarming sight to see. Even our two Portuguese water dogs over the years loved to see that first snowfall and desired a walk in the white stuff.

In many parts of Canada, the first snowfall is the true mark of a change in season. In many areas that means that the winter has truly started and here to stay. In Toronto, it means that it will be a little inconvenient as the plows figure out what streets to plow (if they plow) and that is is going to be sloppy for a few days. However, in Toronto, it likely means that it is truly a passing fancy. Gone are the days where snow arrives and stays for months, let alone weeks.

So as Neil would suggest, that first snowfall puts us in a context for nostalgia and stories of years gone by.

Bring on the first snowfall. We're ready.

PHOTO credit Helena Devins - she is one of those stalwart fans of winter.

Enjoy.

@fergdevins

 

 


Cookies, Chocolates and Candies Everywhere

With mom and dad planning to head to Arizona soon with the "snowbirds", we are thankful for the special rationing of Christmas fruit cake and that special blend of nuts and bolts that is just simply incomparable. What's your favorite treat of the season?

Today's post through a thought generated by Neil Pasricha's "Book of (Holiday) Awesome" reminds us of the careful attention we need to pay to the next month and our diets.

The holiday season just seems to bring a lot of extra "eats" into play. Cookies, Chocolates, nuts and bolts (thanks mom), candy canes, Swiss Chalet Festive Special, short bread, rum balls, Christmas fruit cake, Christmas pudding all seem to make their way to our dining room or coffee tables.

We can resist, oh yes we can. We can also enjoy a small indulgence here or there (or not). Although it might seem somewhat artificial in sweetening up the season. It can be truly awesome.

Watch that sugar intake. Happy Holidays !

@fergdevins


Baby in the mall

Crying Kids in the Mall - Not Yours ! Amen...

Gotta feel for those "new parents" or the parents with "that kid" that starts to holler, whine, complain, moan, scream...just as they are headed towards Santa and Mrs. Claus at the local mall. Not to worry mom and dad, for those of us who have had kids...we've been there done that. Somehow Santa usually, most times, gets that child back under control once they approach the big lad in the red suit. Enjoy the mall and more importantly enjoy those kids - no matter what the mood beholds.

The next post of Holiday Awesome that I am drawing from Neil Pasricha's "Book of (Holiday) Awesome is all about the crying kids in the mall. Of course, the awesomeness that he points to is that the kid is not yours.

Calling on all parents. Don't feel bad about the child crying in the mall. Those of us that are parents can quickly tell you that we've been there and done that. Don't be embarrassed, don't rush off with the child, don't hide in the washroom until soothers are in place. Just let your child wail away until consoled and carry on with your Christmas or Holiday shopping.

The fact is you are probably bringing joy to many of us that have fond memories of our own children at that age. I do recall so many seniors that would have commented: "I remember those years of joy". I know, I know, that moment of wailing in the mall is not a current moment of joy for the current parent. However, the point I'm making is that those around you are likely not as fussed or embarrassed as you being the parent. We all sympathize and have a little smile inside to share with you.

And Santa's lap...always good for a loud wail now and again...smiles.

@FergDevins


Light Them Up

Hard to believe in Toronto of putting up the lights when we still have some many leaves on the trees. Gosh, "the old oak tree" in the neighbors' back yard will likely have it's leaves until the new year. With Santa's parade next weekend in Toronto, it reminds me that I usually have the lights up by now...but that weekend is usually last call for me. I'm ready. Now just need to get some boughs for the Christmas bells to be hung at the front door. Ho Ho Ho.

One of my most favourite tasks of the holiday season is to put the lights up on the trees outside. In recent years the task has become quite enjoyable, as our global warming seems to have extended autumn and allowed for fairly mild weather for stringing the lights. One custom that I have adopted is to place the lights on the outdoor trees the weekend of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade. As I reviewed the situation today, I think that my lilac bushes may finally have shed their leaves for Sunday's placement.

Neil Pasricha's reference to this task is on page 7 of his "Book of (Holiday) Awesome" . He refers to the awesomeness being the fact that you are "plugging in your Christmas lights from last year and having them all work". I must admit that up until last year, this was always an issue for me. I was a late convert to the new LED light systems. The original old style lights were far more fragile and breakable than the new LED versions. The LED versions are also much easier to string and remove for storage as well.

I am sure that I will still be faced with the surprise of half strings undone when I go to light up the indoor lights. I still have lights from many years of adding strings to the indoor tree. Hey!  Maybe this year is the year that we should finally make the transition to LED lights for the indoor tree as well. Has anyone made this transition and have feedback on that front? Does the tree glisten with the new as well as the old light systems?

While the weather is still fairly warm, my suggestion is that you consider installing your outdoor lights this weekend. The rule in our household, as dictated by my dearly beloved better half, is that the lights are allowed to be turned on the day that our neighbours to the south celebrate American Thanksgiving. Thus, Thursday, November 23rd will be the tree lighting at the Devins.

Wishing you all well in your plans for tree lighting this Christmas season. Ho Ho Ho.

Instagram @fergdevins

Twitter @fergdevins

 


From the Book of (Holiday) Awesome

After responses from readers, family and friends last year, I am going to "re-blog" this series that ties to the work of Neil Pasricha and the Book of Holiday Awesome. Thanks for the inspiration Neil, and for those who enjoyed these posts through 2017. Back due to demand...happy holiday season planning everyone. @fergdevins

The Holiday season

Firstly, for me as a Christian, it is truly the Christmas season. I have also had many Muslim, Jewish and Hindu friends suggest to me that they also look at this coming time of year as the "Christmas Season", with other celebrations of faith and community included. I sometimes find it humorous when companies or individuals try to neutralize the season to be non-faith based. "Holiday Greetings", "Season's Greetings", are often phrases we might here. As a close Muslim friend of mine stated,  "get over it, it is Christmas!". Whatever your faith, it is a time of year to be grateful for all that we have and to work towards greater peace, harmony, and joy amongst all human beings.

 

A Time With Family and Friends

However, regardless of faith, it is a wonderful time of year where family and friends rejoice. I was truly taken by the work of Neil Pasricha and his "Book of (Holiday) Awesome".  As Neil works on his mission to help people live happy lives, his work in this book is certainly a written legacy of happiness.

 

Neil Pasricha's Work

I reached out to Neil last November and asked for his permission to post and share some of the content from his wonderful work throughout the holiday season. He graciously accepted my request. Thanks, Neil! For true joy and guaranteed smiles, check out Neil's works at Amazon.ca.

 

Time for Awesomeness

So, over the next 47 days (commencing November 14th and ending December 31st) I am going to share excerpts from Neil Pasricha's work "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome".

 

I hope that it may warm your hearts and make you think a bit of how you might spread a little Holiday Awesomeness as we wrap up 2017.

 

Here we Go

The first thought of awesomeness from page three of Neil's book is related to "Getting a Christmas card from someone you thought you lost touch with". Realistically, we are all probably a little less involved with the physical handwritten Christmas cards as the years progress. There are so many "online" options to choose from. Many just simply post an electronic message to their "contact list" and email blast away. I'm still a big fan of personalized outreach on special occasions. It is wonderful to share a Christmas message that is personalized so that your networks can relate to you and your family and loved ones at Christmas. However, there truly is nothing like receiving that direct connection from someone you have not heard from in a long time - whether that is a physical greeting card or email.

 

As Neil points out, "life is short and always wavering", thus friendships are worth sustaining, worth investing in, "worth enjoying and worth savoring".

 

So here we go - post one of the season is up and running. Follow more posts via @FergDevins, via The Devins Network on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

 

Through my networks, I hope to add a little spice of happiness, from the inspiration that Neil Pasricha has provided through his work.

 

Have an Awesome Holiday Season everyone !

 

@fergdevins


lest we forget

Lest We Forget

Each year in November as we inch towards the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year; it is wonderful to see the outpouring of gratitude and respect that is given in memory of those who have fought and fallen for our country.

Our veterans from world wars and conflicts where our armed forces have been active have given greatly for Canada. Those who have not returned have made the ultimate sacrifice. Those who have returned have also given greatly, and in many situations face difficulties through injury and resultant ability challenges. Some may also be faced with mental health issues resulting from their service.

November 11th is but one day that marks a time for us to pause, pay respect and be thankful for who we are and what we have in Canada - because of them.

Thanks for wearing your poppy. Thanks for making a donation to assist the families of our fallen.

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto is home to a major Veterans' hospital. If you help by "raising a flag" you can make a donation in support of our Veterans and the wonderful work that Sunnybrook does.

We have so much to be thankful for. Much of what we have to be thankful for is a result of those who stood for our freedom and democracy and all that we value in Canada as a nation.

Lest We Forget.

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