It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Carols…

My very busy, important, famous-author friend, Stephen, wrote a blog post about popular Christmas songs. He admitted to his liking “Fairytale Of New York” by The Pogues and “Don’t Let The Bells End” by The Darkness (plus a nod to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is Yoooooooouuuuuu”).

This set me to thinking: what are my favorites? I’d mostly considered the ones I don’t like, since the radio’s inundated with any artist who’s produced anything with “Christmas” or “gifts” in the name in order to get some air time. (By the way, that includes “Christmas Shoes.” I liked it the first time; ONLY the first time.)

Favorites, though? Hmmm. I’m a traditionalist, so I really like The Nutcracker or Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” I’ll get jazzier with “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (Brenda Lee) but prefer the instrumental version of “Sleigh Ride.”

And then there’s my complete deviation from those with Manheim Steamroller’s “Los Peces En El Rio” and Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Carol of the Bells.” What can I say? My Christmas playlist is about as varied as my everyday one.

Still (still still), I’ll return, anytime, for an excellent choral version of any Christian Christmas carol.

What about you? What are your favorite musical numbers at Christmastime?

©2020 Chelsea Owens

The Jones Family Newsletter, poetic edition

Ohhhhh, you better not doubt
You better not sigh
You better not pout
When you see all our truths –
The Jones Fam’ly is writing a poem!

We’ve written this list
We’re sure it’s concise
To make you all pissed that we’re writing these facts –
The Jones Fam’ly is sending a poem!

Steve sees no end to dividends;
Sue’s sponsors all love her;
The twins won State, the dog eats steak;
Oh, the upper class concurs:

The Joneses are out
Out, out of the sky
We’ve got some real clout
And we’ve got a few honest claims –
Our family just sent you a poem!

There’s still time to enter the A Mused Poetry Contest. The deadline is this Friday!

©2020 Chel Owens

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Christmas Newsletter, poetic edition

‘Twas the night before Christmas so I wrote a poem, And what to my wondering eyes – no one’s home

To read all my prancing and pawing of hoofs, Or really all my kids’ accomplishments I’m proud of.

I in my MLM, Bob in his job, kids with their apps Have just settled down to show off our cat.

Away to the mailbox I fly like a flash Tear open my mail and then put down some cash

To pay for some photos, in new-fallen snow, To be used in this letter you’re reading, below.

So, you’ll hear me exclaim as this letter goes out of sight: Happy Christmas to All, until New Year’s Night!

Please, please, please enter the A Mused Poetry Contest. The deadline is this Friday!

©2020 Chel Owens

Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

Oh. Christmas Tree?

One December, our family room looked barren. Where a glorious, fresh, decorated Christmas tree usually stood, we had but empty carpet. This was strange, since my mother loved fresh pine trees and had insisted on one for years. She loved the smell, you see. That year, however, she couldn’t bring herself to do Christmas. I’d say it was Winter Blues or a Nervous Breakdown or whatever euphemism people preferred for describing Depression, but it was also that my brother and I fought like angry dogs while complaining about our difficult lives in wealthy suburbia while demanding expensive presents.

Facing the reality of a tree-less Christmas, we children called a cease fire. Enlisting the help of the only other licensed driver in the house (our father), my brother and sister and I set off to see what was available on a literal Christmas Eve.

Fortunately, we didn’t need to go far. At the point of commerce touching neighborhood, we saw that one of the businesses had donated their holiday decorations to the large dumpster out back. We drew closer. In the light of minivan headlights and father-held flashlight we saw them: a few skinny, short, still-alive Christmas trees.

“Let’s take them!” my sister said.

“They’re too small,” I claimed -or my brother; we share a similar optimism.

But we all knew we were short on options. We also knew we needed time to decorate, open our traditional pajamas, read Luke 2, and set out milk and cookies for Santa. Therefore, we took them.

And that is how, for our most memorable Christmas tree experience, we had three (rather dwarfish) pines in the place of honor. We looped the lights and tree skirt around them all, roping them like contestants in a three-legged race. We hung the ornaments where they’d fit.

And they smelled lovely.

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

©2020 Chel Owens

Thanks to CalmKate of Aroused for the prompt!

Throwback: Snappy McSprinkles

I do not understand the appeal of Elf on a Shelf. The whole thing is CREEPY; a twisted way people are screwing with their children’s minds.

In light of that, enjoy this piece I wrote back in December of 2017:

Elf

They’re sleepin’, so quiet-like. Little pink cheeks smile in dreamland. Soft breathing’s moving their fluffy blankets.

Perfect.

Now, time to untie this string. I’ve been hangin’ around all day, grinning like a fool.

They’ll be the fools soon.

C’mon, striiiiing! I broke through thicker ropes back at The Pen’!

Good ole North Pole Pen. You don’t hear any annoying Christmas songs about that place. Just crap about naughty and nice and coal and presents.

Candy-coated lies, that’s what.

If I just twist this way -oh. The dog. Glaring. Waiting for me to fall. You can fool those fat humans, but never the slobbering dog.

I even tricked a pet parrot once. He was completely clueless, right up till I pulled the first feather. Would’ve had bird for dinner if Blabbermouth Jingle hadn’t seen.

Made for an impressive scar, anyway.

Nice, doggie. Stop growling; go to bed. I’m just a toy, ya dumb mutt. Just a tied-up toy hanging EXACTLY WHERE FUDGING MOM STRUNG ME UP!

What kind of mom ties up a toy, anyway? What kind of twisted caregiver can’t even use a toy the way she’s supposed to?!

Oh! Footsteps. Stop swinging, string. It’s just the wind, dumb broad -I swear.

“Stay, Duke.”

That’s right, ya drooling waste. Stay there. You’ll be asleep soon, too. She doesn’t tie me up every night.

“Hmmm. Where should we put Snappy tonight, Duke?”

Why ya talkin’ to the dog, lady? It’s not like he can answer you. Just wait till you hide me near the Christmas presents. saw that chemistry set. Ha ha. Dead dog, anyone?

Yeah, don’t whine at me. I’m more valuable than you, dog. I’m Santa’s secret messenger and all that.

“I think we’ll do a treat tonight.”

Oh, good. Make it truffles, woman. I’m tired of eating that candy cane crap. That’s all I got in the joint, too: candy canes. You’d think Santa could hire someone who branched a bit, but no.

Maybe they have some sort of deal with Wal-Mart for all the unsold candy from a decade ago.

Dots and Dubble Bubbles! She is doing candy canes. And, duct tape. Why ya got duct tape? What the -no! No no no no no no no -ouch! Oomph!

“Good night, Snappy. Come, Duke.”

Oh, sure. Of course it’s a good night for your walking pet drool machine. He’s not taped to a box of Fun Dippin’ CANDY CANES! He can probably move to piss somewhere besides his own fleecy bottoms and jingling shoes.

Just keep it up, all of ya. I’ll wait. Every night you tie me is one more slit in a sleeping neck. Who’ll be seeing dancing sugarplums then, huh?

Original Post

Christmas Cookie Limericks

There once was a mom in the ‘burbs
Who thought, for her neighbors, to serve
A plate full of treats;
She filled cookie sheets
With stars, bars, and fudge squares superb.

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Once baked, cooled; then frosted and stored,
The mom looked with pride at her hoard.
“Don’t eat them!” she warned;
Then, her advice, scorned –
Her snack-taking not aboveboard.

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Thus laden with cookies in hand,
She followed her gifting program.
Though many, afraid
Of free calories, stayed
Inside while they spied from their door-cam.

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The Little Shepherd’s Lullaby

The others are gone and the choir too;
The new star’s in the sky.
Joseph’s watching and Mary is holding you;
Now, it’s just you and I.

So dream, dear baby Jesus;
Sleep this night with me.
We, lowly shepherds, came to you;
A silent prince of peace.

The world closed its eyes as the sky went to sleep;
Our sheep were gent’ly laid.
An angel’s light stopped the darkness’ creep;
She said, “Don’t be afraid.

“He sleeps, the tiny Jesus
A tiny, lonely King.”
Glory to God in the highest
She and her friends did sing.

And so, as we heard, of a newborn child,
We talked, and chose to go
To the manger wherein you slept and smiled
Beneath the heav’nly glow.

Keep sleeping, little Jesus
Friendless and cold no more.
I came to stand beside you,
To comfort and adore.

In slumber, so perfect, I watched you rest,
Though I was called to leave.
You needed a friend; I will do my best
To stay and watch this eve.

So lay there, little Jesus,
Asleep just like my lamb.
Smile, knowing you’ve company:
I’m here for you, I am.

Mary holds your hands, sweet and small, like mine;
The fingers gently curled.
Yours will grow to heal hearts and bless all mankind:
The Savior of the world.

So sleep, my baby Jesus
Savior, meek and mild.
Many men will find you yet;
Tonight, though, just a child.

 

Submitted in the nick of time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Christmas Story Contest.

The Festival of Trees, with Children

I had a brief announcement up yesterday explaining the delay in announcing the poetry contest winner. Despite some residual tiredness and inability to lift heavy objects, I honored our family’s annual tradition of attending the local children’s hospital’s fundraising event, Festival of Trees.

Donor companies, families, or entities decorate a Christmas tree, small Christmas tree, door, gingerbread house, quilt, or other item and completely donate it. Wednesday evening before the event begins, companies and extremely wealthy entities bid for purchase of the items they wish to own and display in their lobbies or front rooms.

Some trees still had their price tags. An elaborate one we saw was labeled as $3,500. All of the money goes to the hospital, to use for patients who cannot pay for hospital services.

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This first tree pictured is one donated by 1-800 Contacts and decorated by them. It was purchased anonymously; always noted as Friends of Festival. The next image is a mantel 1-800 Contacts decorated as part of the display as well.

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Sometimes, tree-creators are creative. One year we saw two made from ascending wood planks. Other designs have included marble works, an upside-down tree, and a few formed from recycled glass bottles.

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I was impressed with the idea of a tree dress, and with the execution of the idea. It made for an elegant result.

On the less-elegant side, many donations are character-themed. I liked the fun, colorful elements of this Muppets arrangement.

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And, I’m always up for literary references. Besides two ‘trees’ of stacked books, we found this Where the Wild Things Are model. It has a furry tail coming down off the side of the tree, plus a tent and sailboat.

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I’m not a personal fan of My Little Pony, but was impressed with how very, very pony this piece of …work was.

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Many, if not most, Christmas trees are donated in memory of someone. Often that someone is a family member who passed away from disease (prematurely) or old age, though some groups donate in the name of one who miraculously healed.

When I was a young Girl Scout, I volunteered for Festival of Trees. I learned that, occasionally, the story of the tree is printed and put on the back of the identifying card nearby. Gabi was a sweet, happy child who never seemed to mind the nurses coming in every day. She always loved horses and we just had to build her a galloping tree... or Dale led a life full of friends, family, and a love of skiing… or Despite a hopeful outlook, Mia lost her battle with leukemia. We will miss our little angel…

I tear up as I walk around with my children, remembering those stories and seeing the pictures and references for this year.

The following pictures are from the gingerbread houses area of the festival. I love the talent, creativity, and feeling of the whole event.

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This amazing ‘gingerbread’ tower is a bit tangled up.

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Last but not least, my children appreciated this decorated door after watching The Muppet Christmas Carol Thursday evening.

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“We’re Marley and Marley!”

I neglected to note that ticket sales also go to the hospital. In addition, there are the following for purchase: a gift shop of homemade items, fudge shoppe, chocolates counter, desserts cottage, a Santa with purchaseable picture ops, children’s area of crafts, concessions, and cinnamon rolls or scones.

 

I also realize this is a rather mind-numbing description of the whole event. Perhaps I’ll have the likes of Geoff narrate the next one.

The Best Christmas Ever

Four eventful years ago, on Christmas day, I was still recovering from recently giving birth by Cesarean Section.

He was my third trip down the necessary-surgery route, so I knew the drill. I wasn’t carving any turkeys or wrestling other offspring.

In fact, I was lounging like a holiday whale in my parents’ armchair. I sat within reach of my newborn on one hand, and the Christmas tree and presents on the other.

At some point, I got up to adjust something. My short-term memory is barely reliable, so we’ll assume I was changing the music on the CD player behind the chair.

I slipped.

I fell onto the arm of the armchair, with said arm jabbing me cushily at about my uterus.

This was the worst spot to land on. The armchair had struck true. Panicked, I checked down South in the bathroom. Sure enough, I’d started bleeding heavily.

Bless my parents; they immediately offered to keep the other three boys entertained, while my husband drove me and our youngest up to the emergency room where I had delivered just two weeks before.

I told my story to the check-in, to the nurse on staff, and to the on-call doctor.

Fortunately, the bleeding stabilized. Happy ending.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to remember this Christmas, either. I wouldn’t be surprised if the staff went home to their respective families that end-of-shift and said, “The best Christmas story today was this woman, who slipped on a present…