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


This New Normal we are about to experience

This new normal we are about to experience will come with new approaches to our day to day lives.

Do you find yourself washing your hands more often? Has hand sanitizer crept into several convenient locations in your home? Do you find yourself religiously keeping the distance when you leave your home? Will we ever feel comfortable tossing a ball or throwing a frisbee? When was the last time you hugged someone outside of your household? Groceries unloaded and wiped down with Lysol wipes before entering the home? How do you open doors in public places? Stocked up on rubber gloves? Is our homemade facial mask near your car keys? What essential items have you loaded into your pantry? Do you find yourself snacking more? What culinary delights have you explored? Are some of you cooking more than you used to,  mixing it up in the household? Have next fall or winter travel plans and dreams been put on hold? How about those few bucket list items you were planning to explore? Did it take a little longer to get those summer tires back on this spring? Have you chosen your take out night for dinner, or embraced #takeout Wednesdays? Have you noticed the "one-way" lanes emerging in essential retail outlets? Noticing six foot markers emerging everywhere? Are you now subscribed to more social networks than previously? Have you learned to use more than one video conferencing platform like ZOOM, GoToMeeting, JoinMe, BlueJeans  or Google Meet? (my personal preference is ZOOM)

Those are just a few of the queries that pop to mind when I think of "new normal".

However, our practices here in Canada seem to have helped to flatten the curve.

The challenge will be the gradual return to "new normal", while maintaining a lot of these critical practices that we have come to learn in the past two months.

Here's wishing everyone good health. Let's continue to keep the distance and be diligent in our day to day activities. I attach this ad from Israel that reminds us of how easy the spread can travel in public.  https://youtu.be/xgJcbkdHAHA

Let's stay the course and listen to our health care and elected officials.

@FergDevins


Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder - Celebrating Ten Years

At Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, there is a gem of care and research that has existed for ten years. The Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder operates at Sunnybrook under the leadership of Dr Benjamin Goldstein. If a youth in your family is challenged with issues related to their mental wellness, you should know that the Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder is available to you upon referral from a family doctor, paediatrician or psychiatrist.

Check out their site at Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder to see more information related to the excellent services and research undertaken by the centre.

The centre provides psychiatric consultations and assessments for adolescents 13-18 years of age.

If required, the centre also provides a number of other services. The following list is a CUT AND PASTE from the Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder website.

SOURCE:  

Psychiatric monitoring and medication management

  • Patients can see our psychiatrists on an ongoing basis for medication management and monitoring.

Psychotherapy

  • Psychoeducation

    • Learning information about bipolar disorder, including symptoms, course of illness, causes, risk/protective factors, and more. This is a core form of psychotherapy for patients and families affected by bipolar disorder.
  • Individual therapy
    • Our Centre offers one-on-one therapy with a registered social worker that focuses on learning strategies to manage mood symptoms, stressors, and interpersonal relationships.
    • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)-informed, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)-informed, and Motivational Interviewing modalities are offered.
  • Family-focused therapy
    • Our Centre offers Family-Focused Therapy. This involves the patient’s family and includes 3 main components: psychoeducation, communication enhancement training, and problem-solving skills training.

Parent support group

  • Facilitated by our Centre's social workers, this group is offered one evening a month at Sunnybrook for parents of adolescents who are patients at our clinic. The main purpose of this group is to offer a supportive and validating environment in which parents feel comfortable sharing their experiences and providing support for one another.

We have had direct experience with the centre for the past five years. I know that you will find the team welcoming, professional and wonderful guides on this "new normal" journey that you might be experiencing. Just know that there are resources to help you on this journey. We have found that Dr. Benjamin Goldstein and his team are simply wonderful world-class assets right here in our community in  Toronto. We also know that they accept referrals from outside Toronto. I strongly encourage you to research the centre as an option for your young person's care. Wishing you wellness!  @fergdevins