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

 

 


Christmas tree decorations

That Old Box of Christmas Ornaments

Ah the memories that can be evoked by a simple token ornament for the tree - enjoy !

In today's post I refer to Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" and his reference to "pulling out that old box of Christmas ornaments from when you were a kid".

Whether it is the angel atop your tree, the "baby's first Christmas" ornament, the family pet, Mickey Mouse lights, your miniature Christmas Village, your favourite Nutcracker, a favourite ornament from a family member, the neighbour's ornament from year's gone by - memories adorn our Christmas trees each year.

That box of ornaments you pull out each year is a wonderful reflection of memories over the years that bring joy to the ritual of tree decorating.

As the scouts, markets and churches fill their parking lots and locations with the annual harvest of Christmas trees, may your own preparations to pull your box of decorations bring you much joy and awesomeness this holiday season.

@fergdevins


Fairmont YVR Christmas Tree

Hotel Lobbies and the Joy of Christmas

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll have a few snaps to share as we journey from Vienna Austria to Nuremberg Germany visiting the “Christmas Markets” - looking for those lobbies of awesomeness

Keeping consistent with the Neil Pasricha, "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", my post today is reflecting on the joy of Christmas while traveling.

When travelling on business, it was always interesting to see various states of decoration as the month of November progressed. It was particularly gratifying when met with a winter storm in November, to see a Christmas tree or decorations in the hotel lobby upon arrival. The warmth of Christmas decorations helped dismiss the incovenience of snow, slush, slow roads, heavy traffic and grumpy winter travelers.

Traveling to British Columbia in 2017, I arrived late on Sunday night and bunked in at the Fairmont Hotel at the Airport in Vancouver.

To my absolute delight, there was an "upside down" Christmas tree hanging in the lobby. There were also several other trees and decorations in the main lobby area. It is just such a wonderfully welcoming feeling to see these lobbies decorated for the season.

I truly think that hoteliers worldwide should take a bow for the work that you and your staff put into decorating your properties for the holiday season. Just know that the hard work does bring joy to travelers at this time of year.

Simply - awesome work.

@fergdevins

 


role of tape

Don't Sweat the Small Things like Tape

Ok, deep breath, another deep breath...ok breath out slowly...don’t let those small things get you

I had a good chuckle this morning, reading page 22 of Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome". It reminded me of how we sometimes let those little tiny nuisances cause us aggravation. In the grander scheme of things, shame on us for getting caught by "hang nails" of life.

In Neil's book, he refers to "finally finding the start of this stupid role of tape". Doesn't that statement just conjure up some recollections of when you were cursing that moment in the middle of wrapping? Or, perhaps you were sealing that envelope to send off to the family for the holidays. The tape issue is not just germane to the holidays. Gosh, any roll of Scotch Tape sitting in a drawer for a few months will likely have had its end disappear, causing you to remove your reading glasses and focus in on finding the missing end of the tape.

But really folks, given all that the world is facing, I am sure that you will agree with me that we can overcome this frustration and focus on things of more significance in our day.

However, finding that missing end of the tape can absolutely be one of those moments of awesome this holiday season and year round.

@fergdevins


Queen's Band Macy's Parade

Love a Parade

American Thanksgiving, no matter where you are in the world, will always be a morning to watch the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It is a spectacular production that has withstood the test of time.

In 1983, I was fortunate enough to have marched in the parade as a member of the Queen's University at Kingston - Queen's Bands. The photo atop was our pipe band contingent. Oh my gosh my feet were sore after marching around Manhattan with that bass drum strapped on.

Whether participating in or spectating at, a community parade is just simply one of the events of the holiday season and Christmas festivities that leaves us feeling awesome. Although not one of Neil Pasricha's references in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", I did want to refer to the joy that a parade brings to the community. It is certainly a cultural event - lining up along the street, hand warmers engaged, hot chocolate in hand, lawn chairs in place.

Thanks to the magic of google you can find a lot of Ontario based parades and Christmas events at https://www.todocanada.ca/Christmas-Lights-Santa-Claus-Parades-Toronto-GTA/ - in 2018. Thanks to @RetroFestive and Damien Nelson, I had included a list of LINKS to Santa Claus parades in provinces across Canada last holiday season. Some seem active but you might be forced to “google Santa Claus Parade” nearest your community. Here's hoping that you and your family have an opportunity to take in the festivities and appreciate the fine work undertaken by parade volunteers and supporters coast to coast to coast.  Enjoy !

For those parades come and gone, thanks to the organizers, for those yet to take place - put on your woollies !

@fergdevins

Santa Claus Parades Across Canada in 2017

British Columbia

Alberta

Saskatchewan

Manitoba

Ontario

Quebec

Maritime Provinces and Newfoundland and Labrador

Territories


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