Christmas music

When the Christmas Tunes stop playing on the radio

...are your passengers demanding another station yet?

This season is truly one of the most wonderful times of the year. Christmas tunes start to appear as a constant track of music on many stations on or around the date of American Thanksgiving. They have even started a little earlier with some stations, given this unique year and its challenges.

Some stations are reported to start playing Christmas music non-stop on November 01, right after Halloween. By the time boxing day rolls around, it is almost a relief when they finally stop playing Christmas songs on the radio. There are lots of variations of our favourite tunes. However, there seems to be that relief following Christmas Day when the stations with the holiday music revert back to top tunes of the day.

Sirius/XM Canada have a few different options for holiday music listening. Some come to an end with boxing day, while others will remain on track until December 30th.

In Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", he refers to this as an "awesome" moment, "Because at some point we all stop caring what Bing Crosby is dreaming about".

Regardless, there is truly something special about the wonderful tried and true tunes of Christmas, as well as the new versions and recordings of present-day artists. One of note again this year is the wonderful work by Gentri Music. It reminds us of the holiday joy that we experience through the singing of Christmas tunes during the holiday season at Christmas. These lads have done some masterful work, and some amazing holiday videos as well. It was also very inspiring to see the Holly Dolly Christmas special and the release of the Dolly Parton holiday album - a first in 30 years.

Here's to your listening pleasure this holiday season and all year round. Enjoy those special tunes these last few days of the 2020 holiday season.

@FergDevins


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, snowboard, 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 favourite 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 the 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


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


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


bladder cancer awareness

Fundraising during a Pandemic

Success for #BladderCancer Canada annual walk

It was early in 2020’s awareness of the pending Corona Virus.

At Bladder Cancer Canada, staff and volunteers quickly moved to assess whether physical walks held in September (which had been ongoing for close to ten years) were a reality, or whether we should pivot to a virtual model.

Some of us actually felt that we should wait just two more weeks and re-assess. Others pushed hard to make the call and get on with the appropriate planning. The call was made. Go virtual was the call. Thankfully.

Rather than a specific weekend or alternate weekend, the decision was made to make September a month to “walk where you are”. The 20+ communities that would have held walks, continued with their walk site planning — www.bccwalk.ca . Plans were also made to have a celebration video made to be aired on YouTube October 7th.

I chose to “walk where I am” and did so on Coney Island in Kenora on the September long weekend. I got in a great 5k stroll, joined at a safe distance with members of my family and neighbours on our island.

On a personal goal of $50,000, I raised close to 76% of my goal. In my mind, and with challenges facing friends and family I am delighted with the result.

Nationally we had a target goal of $600,000 — of which we achieved 71%.

Given that we did not have congregate walks, registrations of walkers declined significantly.

However, the passion and commitment of our bladder cancer patient community in Canada walked on and we achieved this important revenue for Bladder Cancer Canada — www.bladdercancercanada.org

With these results there are some key learnings:

  • Be nimble, make a decision, layout the plan — work the plan
  • Ask your former donors to please support you — this was key — and they were so pleased that I was not giving up due to COVID-19
  • My message was clear — I would appreciate the support, but also respect that in these challenging times support for charities may be another more urgent need or these times might prevent giving — Respect for your donors.
  • Reminder emails work — each time sent — each time received support
  • Strive to keep the message strong, in the face of the pandemic noise
  • Work social and traditional channels. We were so fortunate to have our national media partners — Global/Corus supporting us through then network and stations across the country — again — the need to breakthrough

Thanks to those who supported me and others, as we walked to raise awareness and funds in the fight against #bladdercancer. I/we appreciate YOU.

Ferg Devins


New Normal or Current Reality

New Normal or Current Reality

There is the persistent use of the phrase "new normal" that seems to be showing up everywhere. People seem to be grasping for a foundational moment where things settle into what will be a new normal.

Perhaps a better way to view the moment is by referring to it as a "current reality".

In the weeks since early March when we have gone from a context of the virus being out there, to the virus being right here - we have seen our realities shift from what was to what is. This is our current reality.

This weekend our current reality is that golf courses are open, but driving ranges are closed. Perhaps driving ranges will open in the coming weeks. That won't be the new normal, just actually what is a current reality at that time.

Some say that wearing masks at retail might become the new normal. Again, masks at retail or not will be a reality that we face, given the circumstances of the day.

I honestly feel that each day we wake up facing the new realities of the day. We are currently on a track of lessening up the restrictive living conditions of the past couple of months. The indicators and trends all point to lightening up of the constraints as we hopefully continue on the downside slope of the Covid-19 curve.

This reality could become a new reality if we are to suddenly see a spike in cases or re-occurrence around us.

The other fascinating reality is the differing circumstances between provinces, states and countries. Although there are similarities, there are certainly some very different approaches to the current reality. I suppose Sweden stands out as the most different from the rest of the countries around the world, yet their spread is now aligning with most other countries.

Current Realities We Face

So our current reality is an interesting mix of practices to protect us from each other and keep planking the curve. Things such as masks at retail, directional lanes at retail, gloves, plastic walls at retail check out, Lysol wipes handy, hand sanitizer surrounds us, take out meals only at restaurants, six-foot/two-metre distancing, limited groups gathering other than immediate household, avoid those not in your household.

The current reality requires practices in our day to day lives to keep us, our loved ones, friends and community safe. The future reality will bring with it, evolving practices. At some point, it might seem like normal, but for now, we will just have to deal with it as the current reality.

Be well - Stay Safe - Wash Hands - Keep the Distance

@FergDevins