Struggling with a card

IMG_0261 FullSizeRender

Having just gone through a frustrating series of password resets, upload troubles, and dissatisfaction with the card designs, I finally ordered some New Year’s cards. These two images didn’t make the cut as I reverted to an image I had used for an earlier card, but they’re good images that I’m happy to share here.

Christmas eve is just under 24 hours away, and I hope that anyone reading this has a great one this year.

The luminarias burned through the night


Most of the luminarias that we put out on Christmas eve burned out, but this one–and a few others–made it to the dawn of Christmas day. There was something about the serenity of it that demanded a picture and a few words here.

It’s a sign of something good, I hope. The end of 2013 is now in view and, like that luminaria on Christmas eve, we can persevere until the new year comes around.

A Christmas miracle


Chicago hadn’t had any measurable snowfall for months. As Christmas drew near this year, it looked like everyone was going to have to do without the white stuff. Bah, humbug.

But I had a plan. Yesterday, at the last possible minute, I removed the tangled mass of fake red berries that passes for our Christmas wreath from the front door, and replaced it with an old piece of craftwork that usually remains hidden in our holiday closet. It usually snows well enough around here, without any extra encouragement. But drastic times call for drastic measures.

I won’t say that it did the trick overnight, because there was no snow on the ground when we woke up this morning, to see what Santa had brought for everyone. But it started to snow a couple of hours later, and now there’s just enough snow on the ground to qualify as an officially White Christmas.

Chicago, you’re welcome. And a Merry Christmas to all!

The eve of Christmas eve


The presents have been purchased and wrapped, the family is gathered, and the cookies are baked and mostly decorated. There’s no snow on the ground, but that’s hardly worth complaining about.

It’s been the holiday season for over a month now, and tomorrow night, Christmas eve, is when the gifts under the tree will start being opened. So tonight–the night before the gift-giving begins–was the last night for me to sit and look at the decorated Christmas tree, with all of the wrapped presents still underneath.

I’m grateful to have made it to the verge of another Christmas, and I hope to see several more of them before my time here is up. But in the wake of the Newtown shooting, and all of the other disasters, illnesses, and unforeseen tragedies that have happened to people all around the world since last Christmas, I also realize that it’s far from a given.

So as the wise man once said, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.” 

Whip it good

The Bruce Springsteen show at Wrigley Field is practically upon us, and it feels a bit like Christmas eve did when I was a kid. But Christmas came back again every year, while my next Springsteen show after this one is at an undetermined point in the future, if it even happens at all. I plan to keep that thought in mind as the concert is unfolding.

So what’s with the Devo reference at the top of this post? One of the people I’m going to the concert with is one of the oldest friends I have. I’ve known him since we were in grammar school together in the 1970s. And one thing I remember very clearly is listening to Devo’s signature hit song in the basement of his parents’ house. Crack that whip! Give the past a slip! Step on a break! Break your mama’s back!

We didn’t listen to Springsteen just yet, since the River wasn’t really our cup of tea. I can’t think of anyone I knew who listened to Springsteen back in 1980, but that would all change in a few years. And now, on a date so far in the future that we could scarcely imagine it back then, we’ll get to yell and scream and savor the moment along with 40,000 complete strangers on a historic night in Chicago. It should be a lot of fun.

And yes, I know all about the supposed subtext of the song. I’m choosing to go along with a benign interpretation of the lyrics, but you can do as you want to. Whip it good!

My present of choice

It will be Christmas morning soon, and my children will run out to the living room and see what kind of gifts Santa left for them. They’re good kids, and so I’m sure he’ll remember them. And they’ll have fun for an hour or two, and then it will be on to whatever comes next on Christmas, probably a breakfast of some kind. It should be a great day for them, and for me as well.

When I was a kid, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I remember the present that I hoped to find under the Christmas tree–a World Almanac and Book of Facts for whatever year it happened to be. I would sit under the tree for hours, poring over lists of the largest cities in the world, or the biggest-selling records of the previous year, or the countries that won the most Olympic medals in history. In the pre-internet days, it was next to impossible to have so much information in your hands at the same time. It says a lot about the kind of kid that I was. But at least it made me happy.

I’m glad to see that the World Almanac is still being published, in these days where Google can provide most, if not all, of the information that the book itself contains. The home page state that the book “makes a great gift” and I can vouch for that. I wish I could give one to my own kids, but I’m pretty sure I would know what would happen. I’d probably end up using it all day long on Christmas, and I doubt my kids would get upset if I did.

I hope Santa is good to you and yours this year.