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

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 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


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


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...breath in the lovely scent of that pine candle and take your time...its Christmastime

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 "hangnails" 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


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.

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

This season perhaps opens up a few more casual gestures of good will in our streets, towns, villages and cities. 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.

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, ageing 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 shovelling 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 shovelling 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 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 shovelling "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


Cookies, Chocolates and Candies Everywhere

With mom and dad planning to head to Arizona soon with the "snowbirds", we are thankful for the special rationing of Christmas fruit cake and that special blend of nuts and bolts that is 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.

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.

Watch that sugar intake. Happy Holidays !

@fergdevins


Baby in the mall

Crying Kids in the Mall - Not Yours ! Amen...

Gotta feel for those "new parents" or the parents with "that kid" that starts to holler, whine, complain, moan, scream...just as they are headed towards Santa and Mrs. Claus at the local mall. Not to worry mom and dad, for those of us who have had kids...we've been there done that. Somehow Santa usually, most times, gets that child back under control once they approach the big lad in the red suit. Enjoy the mall and more importantly enjoy those kids - no matter what the mood beholds.

The next post of Holiday Awesome that I am drawing from Neil Pasricha's "Book of (Holiday) Awesome is all about the crying kids in the mall. Of course, the awesomeness that he points to is that the kid is not yours.

Calling on all parents. Don't feel bad about the child crying in the mall. Those of us that are parents can quickly tell you that we've been there and done that. Don't be embarrassed, don't rush off with the child, don't hide in the washroom until soothers are in place. Just let your child wail away until consoled and carry on with your Christmas or Holiday shopping.

The fact is you are probably bringing joy to many of us that have fond memories of our own children at that age. I do recall so many seniors that would have commented: "I remember those years of joy". I know, I know, that moment of wailing in the mall is not a current moment of joy for the current parent. However, the point I'm making is that those around you are likely not as fussed or embarrassed as you being the parent. We all sympathize and have a little smile inside to share with you.

And Santa's lap...always good for a loud wail now and again...smiles.

@FergDevins