Warm up by the fire

Warm up by the fire

Whether wood burning or gas lit - something special about the sparkle of a winter’s fire

The Christmas holiday season makes for the perfect time to be in the great outdoors. And once you are back in from the cold and play, the perfect opportunity awaits for you to warm up by the fire.

In Neil Pasricha’s “The Book of (Holiday) Awesome” he talks about the awesomeness of staring into the fire.

Truly there is something special when you light up the fire after returning from a winter wonderland walk, toboggan run, snow board, skate on the pond, snow mobile ride or walk around the park with the dog.

Having a chance to warm up by the fire is not only a great way to shed yourself of winter cold, but a great way to connect with family and friends to reminisce about the year that has passed.

Of course many of the traditional fires have been replaced by gas inserts. Nonetheless, the warmth and joy of a fire mid winter is still a pretty awesome moment during the holidays. Throw another log on the fire.

Wishing you much warmth and happiness this holiday season.

@fergdevins


Christmas tree lights

When the Christmas Tree is the Only Light

How many lights does it take to create your desired glow?

Presents are wrapped, baking is complete, plans are made for the holidays, kids are either in bed or on their own playing, the tv is off, the iPad is closed, the iPhone is silenced and it is time. It is time to turn off all the lights and experience that special moment when the Christmas Tree is the only light on in your home.

The tree simply glistens. With it comes memories of years gone by with family and friends. Dreams of cold winter nights with a fire burning, a hot tottie in hand and a fresh piece of shortbread.

When the Christmas tree is the only light on in the home, you can almost hear the angels singing your favorite carols in your mind. The pine scent is filling the room and ornaments twinkle in the lights.

In  Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", this is one of this moments that he captures as awesome. It is truly awesome. Peace, harmony, light and just simply a moment of silence reflecting with your own little Christmas creation - your Christmas tree.

Wishing you this moment for you and loved ones this Christmas. Just take that moment to dim or turn off the lights and let your tree shine brightly.

@fergdevins


Santa

When there is no line at the mall to meet Santa

Have you been to the mall to see Santa yet this season?

Ho Ho Ho. That is the wonderful cheerful sound of Santa when positioned next to the Christmas tree in the mall. The even sweeter awesome moment is certainly when there is no line at the mall to meet Santa.

Neil Pasricha, in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" captures this moment of awesome.

Whether you plan to visit Santa at the mall, or just happen to turn the corner and see Santa at the mall - it is one of the moments for kids of all ages to experience during the holiday season.

I still think that best plan is to do a little research into Santa's hours at the mall. By assessing his very busy agenda, you might be well advised to get to the mall when he has arrived with his sleigh. Early visitors may have a shorter line in front of them.

Wishing you much happiness this holiday season as you experience your own awesome moments at Christmas.

@fergdevins


Outdoor Christmas Lights

Driving to see the Christmas Lights

Old fashioned or new LED - it is still a wonderful spectacle this time of year

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go. With just 20 days left to Christmas, it is a perfect time to be out driving to see the Christmas lights.

This is truly one of those awesome moments of the holiday season, as mentioned by Neil Pasricha in his "The Book of (Holiday Awesome)".

Do you remember growing up in your small town or community and having mom and dad shout out the special plan for the evening? "Tonight we are going to drive around town and look at all the lights". Oh my gosh, those were special moments. In many instances, we would pack a snack bag with a mandarin orange and a couple of shortbread cookies for the road. Often times we would jump into our pajamas, bring a quilt for our laps and strike out on a tour of the town to see the lights.

We would venture out to new parts of town, ending up at the tree located at Main and Second in the center of town in Kenora. The town/city tree is still erected each year in Kenora. I am sure that this is a mighty tradition in your local community as well.

Over the years the transition from traditional lights to LED's and the proliferation of Christmas and seasonal infltables has transformed the Christmas light tours across the nation.

Wishing you and enjoyable drive to the the Christmas lights in your neighbourhood, city, town, village or countryside this holiday season.

@fergdevins


wrapping paper lines up

When the wrapping paper lines up

One of those “aha” awesome moments of the Christmas season

Sometimes the awesome moments during the holidays are small achievements. Do you ever catch your self in a moment of joy, or upset and realize what is causing your emotion is actually quite trivial in nature? In the ramp up to Christmas, one of those trivial moments could be that moment when the wrapping paper lines up, or doesn't.

You've selected the most amazing pattern to wrap your gifts. Upon wrapping you realize that the pattern won't line up. Well, with a little bit of maneuvering it will likely line up, but it adds a little planning and strategy to the simple task of wrapping.

When the wrapping paper lines up, you have a moment of joy. There is a sense of accomplishment. You might even lay a high five or bump to one of your family members nearby.

As Neil Pasricha points out in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", wrapping is serious. However, let's not get caught up in these trivial moments of highs and lows of the season. Let us seek out our joy in not only when the wrapping paper lines up but some of those other moments of joy the holidays season brings:

  • When the lights all turn on when you plug them in the first time.
  • The beer in the fridge is still fresh.
  • Every seasonal apparatus working on batteries is still working from last year.
  • Your outdoor ornaments survived the summer shed storage.
  • Flights all arrive on time with family members returning home for the holidays.
  • Son or daughter's "last exam" isn't Christmas eve morning.
  • You remembered to put gas in the snow blower when you got dumped on Christmas morning.
  • Your Christmas paper napkins are in good supply.
  • Your wifi is capable of handling of your visitors of the season.
  • You remembered to PVR that new holiday tv special the night you were out for dinner.
  • You have enough kindling prepared for the increase in fires during the holidays.
  • Your BBQ tank is full, and a spare on hand.
  • Your hot water tank is in good working order, for added guests.
  • You remembered to re-print the holiday carols.
  • Your remembered your family member who is a vegetarian with an option for Christmas dinner.

May your holidays be happy and bright and may all of your Christmas's be white.

@fergdevins


Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Rockettes at Christmas in New York

Each community has their spectacular Christmas showpiece - and the Rockettes Christmas is certainly one to behold in Manhattan, New York

The Radio City Rockettes Christmas show is a wonderful holiday treasure in New York City. Ah NYC and the magic of Christmas. Truly something special.

Walking New York streets there is the constant sound of Christmas carols from shops and vendors. When you think of all the "Christmas tunes" this time of year, one can only imagine those early days in the streets of New York with stars of the day like Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Johnny Mathas, Aretha Franklin and the Carpenters (to name just a few).  Click forward to such present-day delights and performances by Gwen Stefani, Michael Buble, Sam Smith, Pentatonix and The Tenors as they carry on the tradition of wonderful Christmas music.

The famous Radio City Rockettes Christmas Show has reigned over New York City since December of 1933 . We were able to take in this awesome event on a recent getaway to New York City. We had attended the show before. It was so wonderful to see all of the enhancements that have made the show so current, in technology and visual effects. Naturally, Santa, The Rockettes, and the story of the Baby Jesus are core to the performance. The three-dimensional filmography is a wonderful start early in the show. It is just so much fun to see the kids in the audience reaching out to try and catch presents falling from Santa's sleigh, as he flies over Manhattan.

Although The Radio City Rockettes Christmas show is a crown jewel in Christmas performances, many such holiday spectacles take place in communities across North America and around the world. There are countless celebrations and performances bringing joy to family and friends with local traditions of Christmas pageants and events. This is in addition to the Sunday programming at churches and parishes as we approach Christmas eve checking off each day on the advent calendar. In Toronto, there are lots to choose from (note, the post says 2011 but it has been updated). No doubt your community has a similar list - just google "Christmas even services in your community".

Be sure to share a link to your favourite Christmas celebration. I'd love to hear your special little awesome celebration that you and your family enjoy this special time of year.

Just ten more posts of "awesome" inspired by Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" this season. Wishing everyone much joy this season.

@fergdevins


Nutcrackers

The Christmas Specials on television

Christmas Specials adorn the networks this time of year - but if you really want to binge on unstoppable Christmas Romance specials - tune in to the W Channel

Have you been watching your favourite Christmas specials on television this holiday season? Do you have one that is an absolute "must see" each year? Is there one that you wait until the family is together to ensure that you can all watch it together?

For years and years I would always watch the famous original "A Christmas Carol" on Christmas eve. It became quite a ritual. I've not done that for many years now. The other true favourite was always watching "The Sound of Music" during the holidays. There are so many timeless favourites to behold. "The Polar Express" has to go done as one of the modern-day classics. I remember seeing it for the first time in an Imax Theatre. The sound of the train whistling and the steam engine rolling on the rails was thunderous.

The past three years Kathy and I have come to like tuning in to the wonderful series of Christmas "movies" on the W Channel. There is a nightly feature of a wonderful group of holiday movies that just bring you to a feel-good state of mind before heading off to bed.

Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" points to "flipping channels and stumbling on that one Christmas special you loved as a kid, as one of those awesome moments of the holidays.

I agree wholeheartedly. Cheers to the season.

@fergdevins


Oven window

Looking through the little window in the oven

To accompany the fresh smell of your newly positioned Christmas tree - baking in the oven is one of those familiar treats of the season

Ah, the lure of Christmas and holiday baking. Do you recall those days of walking into the house after school and having the wonderful aroma of mother's, or grandmother's baking filling the home?

There were so many holiday treats to be made. Shortbread, Christmas fruit cake, banana cake, cherry centered shortbreads, chocolate shortbreads, jam cookies, Christmas pudding, homemade nuts and bolts. Each and every day would be a new set of delightful treats. We were always allowed to try a few, with the remainder being hustled off to the freezer. Naturally, a few samples would be consumed from the freezer in the days leading up to Christmas Day.

Neil Pasricha's reference in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", pushes us back to reflect even further in history to think of when ovens did not exist and when families would have gathered around the fire to amaze at what was being prepared.

Regardless, this time of year brings that moment of intrigue when preparation for holiday feasts and dining are prepared.

Cheers to the oven and the joy that our home cooks prepare for us each Christmas and Holiday season.


Christmas Tree

The Smell of a Fresh Christmas Tree

A post from 2017 - we had just brought the tree in...a special time of the season for sure

Growing up in a small town dad would often take us as kids out to some remote gravel road, over high snow banks, blazing a trail into the woods to chop down our annual Christmas tree. There was nothing like working our way back out of the woods to the car, tying the tree to the roof and heading home for hot chocolate. Smiles, in the later years it was a nice glass of home made egg nog with spices and rum.

Ah the Aroma

Once at home there would be that awesome smell of the fresh cut tree, after we placed it in the stand.

In Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", he points to the smell of a fresh Christmas tree as one of those awesome moments of the holiday season. He talks about not having a "real tree" but having a "fake one". However, he does speak about visiting neighbours who did have the freshly sawed tree in their living room.

Tree in Place

My son and I brought our tree in this afternoon. Naturally (sorry for the pun), it needs to fall out and prepare itself for our annual decorating ritual. I just walked past the tree to take this photo and oh yes, the smell of the Christmas tree is certainly prominent on the main floor of our home.

Find A Tree - Cut or Cut Yourself

Here's to the boy scouts, churches, markets, greengrocers, grocery stores and corner stores who continue to bring the fresh Christmas trees to our city neighbourhoods for enjoyment. Of course, there are also the many tree farms surrounding Toronto where families can continue the traditional rituals of  "cutting down your own tree" if desired.

Enjoy that fresh smell in your home, one of those early aromas of the season.

 

@FergDevins


Advent Calendar Traditions

Continuing on my seasonal posts of Holiday Awesome - inspired by Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome".

Traditions continue in the Devins household with our advent calendar

The Advent Calendar is one of those holiday season traditions that help us with the countdown to Christmas Day. The advent calendars have become a tradition that offers a token of joy during the 24 days leading up to the last "opening day" being December 25th. The origin is traced back to some point in the 19th century. It was originally a Protestant tradition when religious families would mark a line for every day in December until Christmas eve. Advent calendars were a countdown to the coming of Jesus Christ into the world.

On a more commercial front, it is always amazing each year, to see the new creativity that arrives on the shelves of gift shops and grocers as the advent approaches.

For a few years, I enjoyed sharing a tea with my daughter through mutually benefitting from gifting the David's Tea holiday collection. Naturally, if you search Google you'll find a wide and fascinating array of the best advent calendars of 2018. Chatelaine also offered up their choices for 2018 at "Best Advent Calendars".

This year my advent calendar is in tribute to our Toronto Maple Leafs. I arrived home from a business trip December 1st to find my advent calendar waiting for me on the kitchen table. It is a "limited edition" run full of assorted Lindt chocolate samples for the season. For every Toronto Maple Leafs advent calendar sold, the Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Foundation will gain a $1.00 to invest in their community initiatives.

So, I'm counting down to Christmas with my Toronto Maple Leafs advent calendar and counting down to see if they will keep pushing for top of the league, to close out this calendar year. Go Leafs Go !

I hope you and your family are enjoying your own special choice of advent calendar as the countdown to Christmas this December has begun.

 

Ferg Devins