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 less than a week 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 mandarin orange and a couple of shortbread cookies for the road. Often times we would jump into our pyjamas, 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 centre of town in Kenora (NOTE that is from 2017). 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 inflatables has transformed the Christmas light tours across the nation. The transformation of Inglewood to Kringlewood in Toronto has gained notoriety.

Wishing you an enjoyable drive to view the wonderful array of this year's 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 yourself 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. Even in these COVID times, something as simple as the tape not getting stuck or the wrapping paper lining up can bring a pulse of #joy into our day.

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 manoeuvring 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.
  • You and neighbours have decided to decorate a tree on your favourite path or park.
  • The beer in the fridge is still fresh.
  • Every seasonal apparatus working on batteries is still working from last year.
  • That rotating ornament still revolves on the tree.
  • Your outdoor ornaments survived the summer shed storage.
  • Although a smaller dinner plan this year, you have all selected your favourite dishes for Christmas dinner.
  • The online learning has come to an end for your kids - whatever age and stage they are at.
  • You remembered to put gas in the snowblower when you got dumped on Christmas morning.
  • Your Christmas paper napkins are in good supply.
  • You will be less concerned about wifi surviving the visitors because you'll be a smaller group this year.
  • Your PVR has enough space to accommodate taping a lot more holiday specials this year.
  • Your favourite restaurant has that seasonal special featured on their menu for take-out.
  • You have enough kindling prepared for the increase in fires during the holidays.
  • Your BBQ propane tank is full, and a spare on hand.
  • Your hot water tank is in good working order for those extra long soaks in the tub.
  • You've replaced your back step broom for sweeping off the morning dusting of snow.
  • You've sent a few extra little surprises in the mail to family members that will be able to join you this year.

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. It was truly amazing that @NBC had a special review of the Rockettes performance this year for us to enjoy.

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, Brett Eldredge, 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 as well. 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


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? Or in recent times, entering the back door after shovelling snow, only to be caught by the warm scent of freshly baked ginger bread cookies.

Childhood memories remain vivid. 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. My grandmother used to send Christmas pudding to us in Edwards coffee tins.

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 be amazed at what was being prepared.

Regardless, this time of year brings that moment of intrigue when preparation for holiday feasts and dining are prepared. I know that our Tourtiere awaits us in the freezer, to be prepared and served for our annual Christmas eve tradition. The pies have been distributed this year, given that we will not be gathering around the table, other than with our "in-home" loved ones.

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

@FergDevins


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 years gone by - memories adorn our Christmas trees each year.

One of our own all-time favourites is a "Mrs Jones" ornament that our dear friend Shiela gave us, likely the first year we had a tree. It is a little angel made out of various pasta pieces, painted white and glazed and has survived for 30 years. Another collection that is special for us is a collection of the annual White House ornaments. Over the years, our dear friend Angela and more recently her daughter Danielle have sent us the White House ornament. They colourfully adorn our tree this year in all their splendour.

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


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 into the W Channel - Featuring the Hallmark Series - get the Kleenex ready - Smiles

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. This year is another spectacular "Countdown to Christmas"

I will also have to admit that we've seen some pretty spectacular specials on NBC including the lighting of the Rockefeller Square Tree, The Radio City Rockettes Christmas feature and on ABC Dolly Parton's Christmas special was a real hit. There will be plenty more content to absorb, including the Holidy Drop on Netflix - a really great "true story" that has endured all these years.

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


Christmas Tree

The Smell of a Fresh Christmas Tree

Scouting out the Scouts, picking out your tree, unleashing it's binding, letting it fall, placing it in the stand - Ah...the Aroma

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. Dad reminds me of times when he'd be in snow so deep that he'd have to put me on his shoulders or I would not have been able to walk back out of the woods. 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 homemade egg nog with spices and rum.

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 Clark and I brought our tree in last Friday. Naturally (sorry for the pun), it needed to fall out and prepare itself for our annual decorating ritual. The scent of a freshly placed tree is a sure signal of great memories to be made for the season looming ahead. This year will be one where only Kathy, Clark and I truly get to enjoy the glow of our tree. That doesn't prevent us from getting our tree in place and decorated.

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 pine scents and aromas of the season.

@FergDevins


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...so many cranes in Toronto...wonderful to see how some of those with the spirit of the season at heart have lit up the horizon with lights on their cranes - well done!

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.

It is also wonderful to see so many "surprise trees and lights" in parks and on boulevards around the city this season. It is a demonstration of community spirit and people reaching out so make this season just a little more special in the face of the pandemic. Thanks for your community spirit everyone.

@fergdevins


couple walking

When Strangers Wish you Happy Holidays

This season perhaps opens up a few more casual gestures of good will in our streets, towns, villages and cities. With masks on, and social distancing the norm - we have lost a bit of the seasonal joy and greetings that would normally bring more neigbourly practices to our streets and pathways. It is unfortunate that we may have lost a bit of the magic when passers-by greet each other with a season's greetings. A small gesture this time of year, or any time of year brings positiveness into our midst. Ho Ho Ho - Hello !

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. Understandably in pandemic times, there is bound to be less casual greeting on our streets and paths.

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 there is probably a lot on people's minds these days with these challenging times, but we can still keep with the #joy of the season and a little #goodwill greeting along the way.

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.

Keep the distance and keep spreading the joy of the season.

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

@fergdevins


Cookies, Chocolates and Candies Everywhere

OK OK - we we need to give ourselves a little bit of wiggle room during the Christmas and holiday season for a few seasonal treats - we are thankful for the special rationing of Christmas fruit cake and that special blend of nuts and bolts made by mom - 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. But the season won't break the belt line - indulge a bit for goodness sake.

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, shortbread, 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.

I must say I am enjoying the Starbuck's Ginger Break Lattes this season. Non fat, no foam, no whip cream, nutmeg on top and just one pump or syrup. Vincent on Mount Pleasant remembers my name and order - how bad is that - HO HO HO.

Watch that sugar intake. Happy Holidays !

@fergdevins