A visit from St. Dymphna- Blogmas 24

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and all through the hospital,

Not a creature was stirring, not even an animal,

The bedsheets were hung from the ceiling with care,

With hopes that Saint Dymphna soon would be there,

The patients were all locked down snug in their beds,

While visions of dead people danced in their heads.

And the nurses in their scrubs and the doctors in their coats,

Had just gotten ready to get the fuck out,

When up on the roof there arose such a clatter,

Security rushed out to see what was the matter,

Away to the buzz door they rose in a flash,

The patients were ready to get into a clash,

The exit door lights lit the linoleum floor all aglow,

Hints of red shone down on the patients below,

When what to their wondering eyes should appear,

But Saint Dymphnas and her confessor Gereburnus dear,

With two trusted servants and the King’s only fool,

Fleeing from her father’s evil, big, long and hard tool,

More quickly than a cheetah, along Saint Dymphnas came,

She whistled, sang and called the patients by name,

They gathered around her and formed a neat row,

Their strength to resist temptation did grow,

She meticulously tended to each patient’s need,

Showed love, empathy and compassion, indeed,

She did not leave until each patient was helped,

And she laughed out loud in spite of herself,

And when each patient had had their needs met,

She took the bedsheets and created a large safety net,

Only then did she turn to see her father with dread,

And with his sword, Damon cut off her sweet head.

The patients now cured were all filled with sorrow,

Knowing today would unfold to Christmas  tomorrow,

Their suffering took on a holy new strife,

For them, Saint Dymphnas gave up her life, 

In the mental hospital, the patients will all be alright,

And so they call out, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”


Saint Dymphnas is the patron saint of the nervous, emotionally disturbed, mentally ill and those with neurological disorders.  She is also the patron saint of psychiatrists, neurologists and psychologists. 

Dymphnas was born in Ireland in the 7th century. Her father, Damon, was a pagan and her mother was Christian. Dymphnas also became Christian. When her mother died, her father was overcome with grief and vowed only to remarry if he found a woman who compared in beauty with his dead wife.

His grief led him to become mentally unstable and his daughter was resembling his dead wife more and more each day. He vowed he would marry her. Dymphnas fled to Geel in present-day Belgium with the help of a priest, Gereburnus, two servants and a fool.

When she arrived in Geel, legend has it that she built and ran a hospice for the sick and the poor. However, her father was able to track her location using the money trail. (Pretty fucked-up, without computers, right?) Anyway, King Damon had his soldiers kill the priest who helped her escape. And when he found his 15 year old daughter who refused to marry or go back with her father, Damon cut off her head with his sword. Saint Dymphnas is also the patron saint for victims of incest.

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The Advent Calendar from Hell- Blogmas 20

Blogmas is starting to feel like the Advent Calendar from hell. I’ve been trying to write something everyday since December 1. I’ve been told by some wonderful bloggers I’ve met through this process of starting a blog that it’s okay to fail at Blogmas. But I’m stubborn. I want to do this. So here’s another fucking blogmas post, number 20.

I’ve been doing a lot of errands and running around trying to get things ready for Christmas and helping my grandfather-in-law write and send Christmas cards. He’s 91 and still knows so many people. TOO many people. After writing addresses on the envelopes of 44 cards, licking the seals (didn’t die like Susan from Seinfeld thankfully, but tasted yucky) and putting all the stamps on, it ended up being about 8 hours of work. As we went through my grandfather-in-law’s address book, I would say a name and he would debate whether they should get a card. And at 91, a lot of his friends had died, which is sad. Does it make me a bad person that for each friend who he said was dead, I wanted to do a dance of joy because it meant we could skip the whole greeting card part?

I also went with my bestie Sam (the Blog Broad) to do some shopping tonight and we saw this:

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Would love to know the story behind how these jeans got there. Ever see random pieces of clothing, especially undergarments, and wonder how the heck they got there? For anyone looking for a writing prompt, here it is. Be creative. How/why are these pants here? Why not put them IN the garbage if they didn’t want them? Why hang them on the side? Dang… we should have checked the pockets for money.

I finished some of the baskets I was working on and I thought I’d show you the finished product. Original article can be found by clicking HERE.

And finally, I saw a car today that I wish I had gotten a photo of. It was your typical SUV that is really just a sportier mini-van with the family stickers on the back [Eye Roll]. And on the roof of their truck, they had constructed a reindeer out of wire and souped it up with Christmas lights. I followed them with the intention of taking a photo but then couldn’t find my phone. Then I realized when I got home that it was in my pocket THE WHOLE TIME! Mother-humper!

But here are some other tacky things I saw.

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Stupid inflatable lighted Christmas lawn garbage. Very disturbing for young children in the day when Santa disintegrates or as in this picture, apparently Santa must have drank too much or fell off the roof. Maybe Frosty pushed him down. Another writing prompt! GO!
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Another stupid Christmas thing. Like I don’t have enough to decorate that I’m going to decorate my fucking car? Fuck you, corporations and greedy capitalists. You don’t steal enough of my money by selling me crap I don’t need? Now you’re going to get me to decorate my fucking car! I don’t even CLEAN my car! Fuckedy Fuck! FUCK!

That’s it for Blogmas 20. Happy 12/20 everyone. Why isn’t 12/20 a thing? Maybe we should make it a thing? 12/20? Jays? Anyone?

5 more posts.

 

 

A Christmas Dinner Party with Newfies- Blogmas 17

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Last night, I went to my friend Donna’s for a dinner party. She has a cute little home about a half hour south from where we are staying and an hour north of the Maine and New Brunswick border. Donna is a “Newfie.” A Newfie is an affectionate term for those who originate from “the rock” or Newfoundland, Canada. Newfies are often the butt of many a joke in Canada. They have a distinct dialect of English, very similar to those from Northern England.

Newfies are known for their hospitality and kindness. Traditionally, Newfoundland was a “have-not” province, meaning a lot of the population lived in poverty. That was before they discovered the natural gas off their coast, which was great for them right up until the price of oil started tanking. (Get it… the price of oil tanked.) My friend Donna and her family, who all live in New Brunswick now, grew up not having much, but they also learned to share what it is that they have. She always jokes that her dinner parties may not have the most fancy of dishes, but that everyone is fed and has a great time. I would argue with her on the first point, but the last two points are right on. Donna is an amazing hostess.

Her dinners start at 5pm sharp and she generally tries to maintain a schedule of bringing out a new course every hour. The first course is always the appetizers.

Everything is laid out buffet style, so people can pick and choose what to eat based on their preferences. Donna tries to accommodate everyone’s individual food needs. I particularly enjoyed the Caesar salad in a pita bowl. The dressing seeps into the bowl and you can eat the bowl when you’re done. Or if you’re gluten free, you can just throw the pita bowl into the compost.

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Main course

Then it’s onto the main course. Fresh homemade sour dough bread, shrimp risotto, spaghetti, pasta sauce with ground beef and moose-meat sausages, turkey, turkey gravy and steamed carrots and yellow and white potatoes. Again, guests choose what they want to eat in order to accommodate their palates. Moose-meat? Absolutely delicious. Moose-meat made into sausages? Absolutely to die for. In fact, if I hadn’t been told there was moose-meat in the pasta sauce, I’d have been none the wiser. It doesn’t taste gamey at all like deer meat tends to taste. Although, I did learn from another guest that if you know how to prepare deer meat that it will not taste gamey at all.

After the main course, we took a longer break before the deserts were laid out and Donna had prepared a special kind of Yankee Swap for everyone. I’d always wondered the origin of the term “Yankee Swap” and apparently it dates back to the American Civil War when the Confederates and the Yankees would trade prisoners in what was supposed to be some sort of fun game. How it got adapted into a Christmas tradition is unknown. In case you’ve never heard of a “Yankee Swap,” traditionally, how it works is a dollar amount is set for gifts, and each person attending your Christmas party brings one gift, wrapped, without a tag on it. When each guest arrives, they place their untagged gift under the tree. Then, each guest draws for a number, based on the number of gifts that are

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Donna’s gifts were all bought by her and each gift had a number that corresponded with the numbers on our lanyards.

brought. When a person’s number is drawn, they pick a gift under the tree, open it, and show it to everyone else. After the first gift is opened, each subsequent guest to choose a gift has the option to trade gifts with anyone who has already opened a gift. So the later the number you drew is on the list, the better your odds of being able to choose whatever gift you prefer. It is a really fun secret Santa kind of game, where guests can interact with each other. Making the gifts funny makes the game even more fun.

My friend Donna varied her Yankee Swap a bit though. Instead of asking us all to buy a gift to bring to the party, she bought all the gifts. As each guest entered the party, we were all given a homemade lanyard with a Christmas tag on it. On the tag, was a number.

Donna had bought all kinds of neat little gifts. She said she allots $5 for gifts and spends the whole year before her annual Christmas dinner party looking for sales. She tries to get a mix of funny gifts and nice gifts. The gift I really wanted was a duck wine holder!

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This mallard duck is a real lush. Don’t invite him to the party!
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Travel Pilsner Glass

I was number 3 so I picked up a pottery plate first, but someone else wanted my plate and I ended up with a necklace from Avon instead, of which I do not have a photo. My hubby, C, had number 16, so we picked up a travel Pilsner glass. The camouflage is perfect for hiding that beer you’re drinking in public. Or for those days you feel like going for a hike in the woods and you want to hide that refreshing beer you brought along. It also works for when you go camping at those “dry” prohibition campgrounds. Also, if you’re out hunting, you certainly don’t want the deer to steal your beer! Hunting with guns and guzzling brew-skis is now perfectly safe now that your Pilsner travel glass will blend in with your environment. (We will definitely be re-gifting this to my dad!)

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Desert table

Finally, we had our last course of the evening and my favorite. Desert and coffee/tea. Donna always has multiple deserts to choose from and I can’t help but try them all. Homemade cookies, vanilla cake with red and green frosting, carrot cake and chocolate fudge cake. And yes, I tried all four! My husband had to roll me to the car. We haven’t even got to the real nitty gritty of the Christmas eating season and I know I have put on at least 10 pounds since September. Gazing at all of the photos of wonderful homemade food at Donna’s, I think I gained another 10 pounds just from the memories of last evening!

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When we left Donna’s, her vacuum cleaner was in full force taking care of any morsels that found their way onto the floor.

 

Hand lotion makes a great gift- Blogmas #16

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December 16, 1996. It is a day that is etched in my brain forever. It was just nine sleeps before Christmas and we got a call early that morning around 6am. My parents and I got up out of bed and got into our car and rushed to the nursing home where my grandmother had been staying for the last few months. She was 86 at the time. In the two years before she passed her health had deteriorated. She had osteoporosis and had broken her hip when she rolled over in bed. Born in 1908, when she had found herself confined to a wheelchair, she refused to leave the house. For her, it was shaming to be seen anywhere in public in that wheelchair. My cousin, Laura, lived with her and cared for her, but by the fall of 1996, it became too difficult. My grandmother had also been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had also put a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) in place, probably because of the depression from being in the wheelchair or the depression from being in the nursing home or both. The call we received that morning was from the nursing home to let us know we had to get there quickly; my grandmother was close to the end. If we wanted to be with her in her last moments, we didn’t have any moments to spare.

sunny winter morning_InPixioI remember it was a cold but sunny morning. The sky had that pink glow as the sun was rising. It was hard to believe that something so terrible could happen on such a beautiful December morning. My dad is someone who always follows the rules. For example, most Canadians, when they do cross-border shopping in the U.S., lie about how much they bought when they come back into Canada. Not my dad. No, my dad is always honest and he would dutifully report how much we spent and then we would dutifully pay the duties on what we spent. And he never speeds. Never. But on this morning, my dad sped. It didn’t matter. When we arrived, my grandmother had already left us. I remember my cousins, Laura and Liz, sisters who were more like her daughters since she raised them being there. It was the first time I had ever seen a dead person. I was 22 at the time. Immediately, when I saw my grandmother, I realized it wasn’t her anymore. Yes, it looked like her. But the person I grew up loving more than anyone was no longer there. My cousin, Liz, who was hugging her body and crying didn’t seem to understand that she wasn’t hugging my grandmother anymore. She was hugging the home where her soul had lived, but her soul had moved on.

mini tree_InPixioChristmas is always hard when it’s the first Christmas you celebrate after someone you love has died. But it’s even worse when the person dies just before the Christmas holidays. Not only do you have to do all the usual Christmas stupidity, but you also have to prepare for a funeral. I remember in the weeks leading up to Christmas, my cousin Liz insisting we celebrate Christmas with my grandmother since we knew she wasn’t expected to live past Christmas. My grandmother, who was a no-nonsense, practical lady, often found my cousin, Liz, to be ridiculous, even though she loved her like a daughter. Liz brought in a little tree and decorated it and put up garland and lights all around the room and all of the family was told to bring gifts for this early Christmas. My mom and I both racked our brains; what do you get someone who is dying for Christmas? And I knew my grandmother well enough to know that she was going to roll her eyes at this whole “Christmas” before Christmas fiasco. My mother and I settled on a bottle of Clinique hand lotion for the gift, because we knew my grandmother’s hands got dry from the air in her room. And we also figured, whatever we got, we would end up getting back after anyway. When we finally came to the day of my grandmother’s special Christmas, she, surprisingly, didn’t grumble or roll her eyes as much at my cousin Liz’s antics as she usually did. I think she knew that the early Christmas celebration wasn’t for her. It was for Liz. It was something Liz had to do to deal with the pain of losing the woman who had raised her from the age of two.

graveyard_InPixioEvery year on December 16, I think about my grandmother and that first Christmas without her. She was the matriarch; I think most women are in their families. It is the mothers and grandmothers who are the glue that hold families together. The last time I saw all ten of my aunts and uncles together who were left at the time my grammy died was at her funeral. My grandmother was buried next to her three children who had passed away before she did. When you have twelve aunts and uncles and fifty-three cousins, it is difficult to maintain close ties with them all. When my grandmother was alive, she was the reason that family who had moved to Ontario would return home at least once a year to visit. After she died, our family fell apart. I rarely saw my aunts and uncles and cousins anymore and our Christmas tradition of going to my grandmother’s for Christmas dinner and spending the afternoon working on puzzles and playing cards ended.

My grandmother died 21 years ago today. Ironically, she always said as she was nearing the time of her death, that she wasn’t afraid of death. She said she was ready at any time. Her only stipulation was that her death couldn’t be at Christmas because she didn’t want to ruin Christmas for her family. That was the kind of woman she was. No-nonsense and practical, and someone you didn’t want to cross. She’d hold you to account. I like to think that when she got to the other side that she tore a strip off of God’s decision to take her at Christmas! So today, I ask you to be thankful for your family and friends, and to enjoy every moment you have with them in the days leading up to Christmas. Hug your loved ones just a little bit tighter and remember that every moment you have with them is precious. Finally, if someone you know is dying at Christmas, hand lotion makes a great gift.

Image sources:

Graveyard. Free Stock Photos. <http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/9185> December 16, 2017.

Hand cream. Px Here. <https://pxhere.com/en/photo/634760> December 16, 2017.

Mini-tree. Flickr. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/daveynin/8251311244> December 16, 2017.

Winter morning. Max Pixel. <http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Frozen-Season-Morning-Cold-Sun-Ice-Winter-Road-1881442> December 16, 2017.

 

“I knew you wouldn’t like it.” Blogmas 15

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216api‘Tis the season for another exciting Blogmas post. It’s a busy time of the year. People shopping, shopping and shopping. Those who say online shopping is killing the mall haven’t spent any time trying to navigate the malls during the Christmas season. The mall parking lots are full now and it won’t get any better any time soon. Finding a parking spot at the mall is like winning the lottery during the Christmas season. And if the spot is near the entrance, it’s like a glorious early gift from Santa. Santa, I’m sure, has no problem finding parking. He just lands the sleigh on the mall roof, and he’s good to go.

216akfI’ve got almost all of my shopping wrapped up now. Literally. As soon as I get home with a present, I wrap it. No luck for any snoopers in my home. Maybe it’s because of one of my good friends in middle school. She went snooping and found an Esprit shirt her mom had bought her for Christmas.  Then she wore it to school before Christmas with the tag still on it. Then she put it back where she found it. I would never have been so lucky to get away with such a thing. I would have spilled food on it for certain. I did snoop one year, but realized that it wasn’t any fun on Christmas when you already know what your gifts are. Then you also have to be an amazing actress. The only upside to snooping is if you open a gift that is totally not you. It’s easier to hide your disappointment when you already know a gift you hate is coming.

216as6My mom is the worst for picking out gifts that I don’t like. I’ve realized over the years that I have to be very careful when I go shopping with her. What she tends to do is pick something up, and ask me what I think of it. Now what I used to think when she did that was, “What do you think of this for me?” But after receiving items that she asked me what I thought of over the years, I now know that “What do you think of this?” actually means “What do you think of this because I’m going to buy this for you for Christmas.”  So now when mom asks me, “What do you think of this?”, my first question to her is, “For you or for me?”

216a9rOne of the worst gifts I got from my mom was the year I asked for a plain white bath robe. What I got was a bath robe with sunglasses and lipsticks sewn on. I may have mentioned this before? But the best part was my reaction when I opened the gift. I couldn’t hide my disappointment. It looked like a plain bathrobe at first, but then I pulled it up out of the box, my face fell. My mom says and I quote: “I knew you weren’t going to like it.” She knew I wasn’t going to like it. But she got it anyway.
I love my mom and she tries so hard to make Christmas special for us all. In fact, she goes overboard every year, even now that my brother and I are well into our 30s and 40s. She braves those mall parking lots every year with arthritis in her legs, hobbling sadly around trying to find gifts that she knows we’re not going to like. She’s Santa with a wheelchair parking pass, and a list she only half reads. Instead of a red suit, she has red hair, but only because she dyes it. But she’s my Santa and I love her dearly. I can’t wait to see what things she knew I wouldn’t like this year!

Merry Fucking Christmas [Parental Advisory- Language that may be offensive to some.]- Blogmas 12

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Okay, so my Blogmas post today is a rant.

I’ve been posting my Blogmas entries to a lot of different blogger sites that do retweeting. You see, I’m hoping maybe, just maybe, I could make a go with this writing thing. Seeing as how I’m very soon to be without a paycheque, I need to find another source of income. (Just a heads up, this post is going to be all over the place!) You see I’ve been on sick leave from my regular job of teaching because “I’m fucked up in the head,” right. Funny side story- when I wrote “I’m fucked up in the head” right, I was thinking of the lyric to the Limp Bizkit song, “Nookie” and for years I’ve been singing along to that song with “I’m fucked up in the head, right” but in looking up the lyric to give credit where it’s due, I discovered the lyric is actually, “fucked up in the head, not.” Huh.

Well, there’s no “not” in being fucked up for me- I have Conversion Disorder, Somatic Symptom Disorder and ADHD. And now, to top it all off, my paid sick leave is about to run out and because teachers get paid for the 195 days in the school year (September to June) and they start our pay year as of August 1, I have been overpaid.

merry
Image from Amazon. They are not paying me to feature this product, but hey, Amazon, feel free!

Which means when my paid days run out, I have to pay back $1000. I get it, I owe it. I’m not saying I don’t, but it’s stressful knowing I have to come up with that money somehow when I’m about to go on Long-term disability benefits and that’s ONLY if I’m approved! So yeah, Merry Fucking Christmas! Thank you, brain chemicals, neurotransmitters and brain wiring stuff! (I warned you, this would be a rant.)

 

Okay, so back to Blogmas and how I’ve been retweeting my blogs and all of that. So as I’m going onto these Blogging Twitter Groups, I’m also reading blogs that have been posted. And I am getting so sick of Blogmas!!! Blech-mas more like. (Maybe I’m just bitter because I’m about to have Broke-mas.) Every post is pretty similar. “Great gift ideas under $20” and a list of products that can be bought online, for example. I can’t help but wonder, did these bloggers even try out these products? If I have to look at one more Blogmas about make-up, hair, decorations and gifts and where to buy them, I’m going to stab someone in the throat, anyone, whoever is closest (probably my husband or his grandfather!)* My goodness! I don’t mean to be grinchy (that’s right, I turned Grinch into an adjective) but I’m starting to get sick of Blogmas!

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See sources at the end of this post for the blog site this photo came from. The Blogger, Laura, had a very cool idea of writing a comment on other people’s blogs for Blogmas.

The blogs I enjoy the most are the ones that come from an authentic place. The writers are “keeping it real.” Now that said, and I imagine a lot of these bloggers who are writing about all these wonderful products, are probably getting paid by companies. I’m not going to lie: I would do it to if it meant money in my pocket. Shout out: “Hey Companies, pick me! I will write wonderful things about your crappy products because I am about to be poor!” Well, poorer. Not that I’m poor poor, I’m just terrible at managing money.

Anyway, my next few Blogmases are going to be a lot less Christmas-y because I don’t want to stab anyone.** And I think I’ll even skip the retweeting on those Blog Retweet sites so I don’t have to see them. I just need a Blogmas break for a few days. Thanks for reading my rant and sorry if I offended anyone.

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All I can scratch together is two Canadian nickels. [photo is my own]
P.S. Can you spare a dime?

*I won’t really stab anyone in the throat. I have conversion disorder, remember, so instead I’ll keep my anger and negative emotions in, and then have facial twitches, contortions and seizure-like shaking.

**Again, I must reiterate: I’m not really going to stab anyone. I’ll just twitch, contort, and shake like Linda Blair in The Exorcist (original 1973 version) minus the head spin.

Sources:

Laura. Blogmas, Well, Sort of Pic. “Blogmas 2016.” Constantly Curious. <\http://constantlycurious.co.uk/2016/12/blogmas-2016/> December 9, 2017.

Merry Fucking Christmas Bauble. Amazon. <https://www.amazon.co.uk/Santa-Balls-Fucking-Christmas-Bauble/dp/B00G450LBI> December 9, 2017.

“It’s pretty, but that’s about it.” The First Real Snow Fall- Blogmas #10

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It snowed today, December 9, 2017, the first December snow fall of the year. Just earlier today, I was reading Jenny Lawson’s post “Strange New Weather Patterns” and lamenting that here on the East Coast of Canada, we had not seen our first real snow fall, the kind that sticks to the ground. It makes me think of “Frosty the Snowman” and the first few lines of the TV special, “I suppose it all started with the snow. You see, it was a very special kind of snow. A snow that made the happy happier, and the giddy even giddier. A snow that’d make a homecoming homier, and natural enemies, friends, natural. For it was the first snow of the season.” Around 4 pm today, we got our first snow of the season. It is now twenty minutes to 9pm and it has not stopped. And even though, here in the Maritimes, snow is a regular occurrence during the winter months, it is still magical nonetheless. And after reading Jenny’s post, I saw the fresh snow with fresh eyes and happy memories of childhood flooded back. Trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue, making snow angels, and snow forts and after hours of playing in the snow, going into my warm, cozy house to a cup of hot chocolate served by my mother.

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The snow makes the street look like a scene out of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Inspired, I decided to go for a winter walk around the city of Saint John, New Brunswick where I am staying for the time being. As I walked, I took in the scenery around me, taking in its magic with each breath like meditation. Suddenly it hit me why I love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life so much. When the world is blanketed in white snow, it is like the black and white snowy scenes on the night that George Bailey is visited by Clarence, the angel trying to get his wings.

Walking in the snow in December with Christmas approaching fast means the added beauty of the Christmas lights shining in the snow. One of the first houses I passed were the Griswolds 2.0.

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Our local Griswold family.

Not only is their house completely covered with lights from top to bottom, they also have a speaker blaring Christmas carols as you walk by. And in the snow, what would usually be pretty tacky, suddenly becomes moment of wondrous beauty. With carols singing in my head, I continued toward the Harbour Walk Trail along the waterfront of Saint John. If you haven’t been to Saint John in a while, or ever at all, the Harbour Walk Trail is an amazing set of paths that run from the Reversing Falls to Uptown Saint John. That’s right, Saint John has an “Uptown” not a downtown. I have no explanation for you.

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Christmas lights are more magical when there is snow falling.

As I walked down in the direction of Uptown, I saw a display of Christmas lights arranged into the form of a giant tree. With no snow, it’s nice. But suddenly, with the flakes of snow surrounding it, it was the most fabulous thing my eyes had ever had the privilege of seeing. I kept walking, down into the bowels of the park toward the Reversing Falls. Instead of raining trees, like Jenny Lawson saw, I saw a raining overpass with a small pond forming below.

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Giant puddle forming under the overpass.

Snowplows going by on the overpass pushing snow over its edges were not any help to the situation. I looped up around into the North End of the city and I finally came upon an intersection with a church. I don’t even know what denomination the church is, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not sure why, but I think old churches are among the most beautiful structures created by humankind. And this church, amid the falling snow, did not disappoint. Even though a McDonald’s is right across the corner, our fast food addiction could still not dim the joy brought from the view of the church.

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I love old churches.

By the time I started back toward “home,” I was soaked from head to toe with sticky snow. (This snow is perfect Frosty the Snowman snow, and if enough falls tonight and stays around tomorrow, I may just make a snowman too.) It’s funny how at the beginning of my short journey in the snow, it was full of excitement and wonder and how quickly that changes when the cold and wet sets in. Instead of breathing in each moment, feeling the joy of being alive, I couldn’t wait to get the hell home to enjoy a cup of tea and my warm PJs. As my mood shifted, I walked past a group of people hanging out at the Curling Rink and heard a lady say what most Maritimers say about the first snow, “It’s pretty, but that’s about it.”

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Me, at the end of my walk.

I am now all cozy in my bed with my laptop and my hubby, listening to the sound of sirens on their way to the nearby hospital, non-stop. It seems the magic of the snow mesmerizes us every year and we forget how to drive in the snow. Tonight I will be lulled asleep by memories of my mystic walk in the snow and the blaring sirens taking stupid unprepared drivers to the hospital.

I hope nobody died.

 

Nine for Nine: Nine holiday specials & films for December 9!

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Christmas is the time for Christmas specials and films! Unfortunately, only a few come out per season and very few of the ones I enjoy are on Netflix… in Canada. That’s because there is a law in Canada that requires networks and broadcasters to carry a certain percentage of Canadian content. Often, I think, they count British programs as Canadian content because there seems to be a lot of British shows on our Netflix. So here are my top five picks for holiday movies that are currently available on Netflix in Canada, followed by my top four holiday picks that are not available on our Netflix but may be available where you live. Each will be rated out of 5 for hilarity, obscenities and sappiness, the three most important pieces of information about film in my opinion.

  • Mrs. Brown’s Boys A British comedy starring Brendan O’Carroll as the matriarch of a typical/atypical British family. There are several Christmas episodes of the program available on Netflix. They are all very good. British humor is the best! Hilarity-5/5 Obscenities-3/5 Sappiness-1/5 

 

  • Trailer Park Boys Xmas Special (2004)Trailer Park Boys Live at the North Pole (2014) The Trailer Park Boys are a true Maritime tradition. Although the show is based on stereotypes, [cue Bubble’s voice] “it’s f*&kin’ hilarious, Julian.” It’s Christmas fun for the whole family! Except for your children. Do not let your children watch this. You’ve been warned. Hilarity-5/5 Obscenities-5/5 Sappiness-0/5 

 

  • Elf Is any explanation even necessary? Will Ferrell. Buddy the Elf. Everything tastes better with syrup. Funny and family friendly, kids included.  Hilarity-5/5 Obscenities-1/5 Sappiness-4/5

 

  • Office Christmas Party A more recent Christmas comedy with comedic greats: Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon and Jillian Bell, not to mention Jason Bateman. It’s raunchy and lewd and not anything you want to watch with your children nor with any uber religious family members. Jennifer Aniston’s character is eerily similar to her Horrible Bosses character, a connection made more obvious with Jason Bateman’s character being eerily similar to his Horrible Bosses character. In fact, you could just call this “Horrible Bosses: The Christmas Edition.” But I still very much enjoyed it, especially Kate McKinnon, who steals the show.  Hilarity-5/5 Obscenities-5/5 Sappiness-3/5

 

My four picks for Christmas films that can’t be found on Netflix (in Canada), but maybe you can catch them on television, Youtube, or go old school and watch them on DVD or VHS.

christmas story

4- A Christmas Story Oh, poor Ralphie, all he wants is that Red Ryder B.B. gun. My favorite parts: getting kicked down the slide by Santa, the kid who sticks his tongue to the pole, the lady’s leg lamp, and the fact that it’s got to be one of the only few Christmas films where you get to see the family open their presents! Hilarity-5/5 Obscenities-0/5 Sappiness-3/5

 

Christmas with the Kranks

3- Christmas with the Kranks The Kranks appall the entire neighborhood by deciding to skip Christmas and take a trip down South instead. Highlights for me: The Kranks hiding when the neighbours are protesting that they haven’t put up their “Frosty;” the Kranks hiding from the carolers; and the Kranks getting caught in the tanning salon in their bathing suits by their priest.  Hilarity-4/5 Obscenities-0/5 Sappiness-4/5

 

Christmas vacation2- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation I watch this every year and it never gets old. I was thinking about the new Vacation movie they did with Ed Helms and Christina Applegate and wondering… Could they pull off an updated Christmas Vacation? Because I can’t imagine that they could make a Christmas film any funnier. Chevy Chase as Clarke Griswold, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the snotty neighbour, and Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddy? Cousin “Shitter was full” Eddy makes the whole movie!!  Hilarity-5/5 Obscenities-1/5 Sappiness-4/5

 

It's a wonderful life1- It’s a Wonderful Life I love this film. The first time I watched it was Christmas Eve on CBC with my mom. There’s nothing more magical than watching It’s a Wonderful Life in black and white on Christmas Eve. The story is timeless. No, it’s not funny, but interestingly enough It’s A Wonderful Life was directed by Frank Capra. His grandson, Frank Capra III was an assistant director on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. In Christmas Vacation there are two references to It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s A Wonderful Life is playing on the TV in the background in one scene of Vacation, and in It’s a Wonderful Life there is loose mill-post which George Bailey keeps complaining about. In the Vacation film, there is also a loose mill-post which Clarke fixes with the chainsaw when he loses his temper over not receiving a Christmas bonus. So the two movies that are likely at the top of most people’s Christmas Classics list are actually somewhat connected. I love and cherish It’s a Wonderful Life because it’s romantic, it’s spiritual, it’s inspirational, and, after all, it is a wonderful life. Hilarity-1/5 Obscenities-0/5 Sappiness-5/5 

Sources:

A Christmas Story DVD cover.  Jewel 92.5 fm. <http://jewel925.com/tvs-live-musical-christmas-story/> December 8, 2017

Christmas with the Kranks movie poster. IMDb. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0388419/?ref_=nv_sr_1> December 8, 2017

It’s a Wonderful Life DVD cover. IMDb. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/mediaviewer/rm711430656> December 8, 2017.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie poster. IMDb. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097958/?ref_=tttr_tr_tt> December 8, 2017.

Christmas, Christmas, don’t be late; Today is Blogmas Number 8

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It’s December 8 and the 8th day of Blogmas. Today I thought I’d share with you what I’m going to call “Fromage Friday”- some of the cheesiest Christmas songs and movies that I know of with audio and video clips included for your enjoyment (Thank you, Youtube!)

  • The original “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” by Spike Jones and his City Slickers- from 1948. No video, just audio:
  • Christmas with the Chipmunks- Vol. 1
  • Christmas with the Chipmunks- Vol. 2
  • Mini Pops Christmas- 1984
  • Babes in Toyland- 1986 version- TV movie with Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reeves!

 

Even though they’re cheesy, they bring back great memories, right? I’d love to hear your Fromage Friday pics too. Happy Fromage Friday, everyone!

A Christmas Dumping Day and Creamed Lobster- Blogmas 7

Living where I live, on the East Coast of Canada,  in a region known as “the Maritimes,” the ocean plays a significant role in our lives. No matter where you live in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and/or New Brunswick, the ocean is generally not too far away. It should be no surprise then, that the fishery is one of the main industries in the area. In fact, Maritimers are often stereotyped as being just a bunch of ignorant, fisher people. In fact, only some of us are. And the rest of us live in trailers.TPB

That being said, Christmas and seafood go hand in hand. Instead of Thanksgiving, “Dumping Day” is our unofficial kick-off to Christmas.  Dumping Day is not emptying our bowels to get ready for the Christmas bingeing. It is not about dumping out old things to make way for new gifts. It has nothing to do with dumplings. Dumping Day is the first day of the lobster fishery when the fishers go racing against each other to “dump” their traps in the most prime locations. Probably the most popular seafood and export in and from the Maritimes is lobster. lobsterThe lobster fishery is divided into 20 districts which all have different seasons. Most of the lobster that is available during the Christmas season comes out of Southwestern Nova Scotia and Southern New Brunswick. There are Hercules Helicopters circulating because fishing is a very dangerous occupation. Very often during the race to drop their traps, accidents happen. However, for most Maritimers who are not fishers, rarely a thought is given to these brave people who risk their lives so the rest of us can feast on lobster during the Christmas season.

One of the first signs of the Christmas season is the lobster fisher on the side of the road, in a pick-up truck, with a hand-written sign: “Fresh Lobsters” and the price per pound. They set up shop on corners of high-traffic roads in the cities, for many making a 5-7 hour round trip in order to sell the lobsters. Christmas Eve is probably the most popular day for lobster sales because one of the most common Christmas traditions in the Maritimes is a seafood extravaganza. In our house, our feast was an appetizer of fresh boiled mussels with melted garlic butter followed by the main course: fresh, whole, lobsters, also boiled on the stove. Do you hear what I hear? The screams of lobsters being boiled alive? It’s synonymous with Christmas carols in our neck of the woods.

Another uniquely Maritime Christmas Eve tradition is the kitchen party. Basically, it is kind of like those parties shown on films like American Pie except with adults and no one leaves the kitchen. Also, a lot of times people show up with fiddles and play Celtic-type music and everyone sings along. But generally the drinks are provided in those red plastic cups. The biggest difference would be that food is provided, and it is generally seafood.

I’m going to leave you with a Maritime specialty made by many Lobster fisher families in the region. It is a tradition many families here enjoy on Christmas Eve. I am personally not a fan of it, but I will also die if I eat shellfish (oh, the irony! Living in a seafood mecca and having anaphylaxis to any fish with a shell!)

Nova Scotia-Style Creamed Lobster

Ingredients

Photo Sources:

Cape Breton Fish Harvesters Association. Cape Breton Lobster. <http://capebretonfish.com/sustainability/management/> December 7, 2017.

Graham. Berwick Shellfish Company. <http://berwickshellfish.com/merry-christmas-to-all-our-customers-friends/> December 7, 2017

Trailer Park Boys Image. 4k Wallpapers. <https://www.qrcodematrix.com/trailer-park-boys-christmas/> December 7, 2017.

Recipe Source:

Harris, Clara. “Nova Scotia Creamed Lobster.” Saltscapes.com. <http://www.saltscapes.com/kitchen-party/recipes/item/nova-scotia-style-creamed-lobster.html> December 7, 2017.