A snowy day in Chicago


It’s not the holidays without snow. As much as I complain about shoveling, I need to have snow to feel the season.

Yesterday’s snow should carry me through these last few days of December, barring an unforeseen warmup. Now I can hear “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” and really get into it.


In the holiday spirit


I have to admit that the encroachment of the holiday shopping season on the Thanksgiving holiday was making me mad. I understand that retailers need big sales for their yearly results, but have some respect, will ya?

But the day after Thanksgiving, I ventured into downtown Chicago, not to buy anything, but to see if I couldn’t find some holiday spirit. And lucky for me, a ten year-old and the windows on State Street (I’ll always refer to it as Marshall Field’s) worked their magic, and the turning of the calendar to December made a difference, too.

With all that in mind, happy holidays to all!

Time sure flies


Tonight is the first night of Hanukka, the second day of our annual Nutcracker weekend (five shows in three days, but only one left after tonight), and another reminder of how quickly time can pass by, particularly when children are involved.

The bashful girl who posed for this picture seven years ago has since become a beautiful and talented teenager. She’s poised beyond her years, and will leave elementary school behind in the coming months. I’ve never been prouder of anything else I’ve done in life.

May everyone spend the holidays in the company of the people or animals that they love. Our holiday seasons–like our lives themselves–are limited and finite, and every one of them is a gift, far better than anything we could wrap up and present to someone else.

Where do they go from here?

Christmas and the holiday season are beginning to seem distant now. The vacations from school and work are over, the new year has come and gone, and the credit card bills are starting to come in. Christmas trees have been discarded, and are now lying in wait for somebody to come along and take them away.

About the last remants of the season, other than the neighbors who show less enthusiasm for taking their decorations down than they once did for putting them up, is the clearance section of the stores we shop in. Christmas is coming again in 11 months, so the first few days after the holiday–when the markdowns are usually 50% off–are the best time to stock up for next year.

The things that don’t move at half off are then are then cut even further, to 75% off in the case of the hardware store I was in yesterday. There were several different items, but the ones I noticed first were the NASCAR-branded tree ornaments. I didn’t look at what they originally sold for, but 75% off of that price is probably still going to be too much for this n0n-NASCAR part of Chicago.

NASCAR just doesn’t have the following here that it does in other areas. If Chicago were representative of the whole county, there wouldn’t even be a NASCAR to begin with. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love living here.

So what happens to these items when 75% off doesn’t move them out the door? Do they get cut to 90% off? Do they go back into storage for next year? Do they get written off as a loss and thrown away? Whatever comes next for this island of misfit ornaments and other holiday items, I’m guessing that there won’t be as many NASCAR tree ornaments in the store for this year’s holiday cycle, which is only about ten months away by now.

A holiday offer

It’s the holiday season–the first one this blog has ever seen–and I want to offer what I can to anyone who has found their way to this space. It’s a season for giving, after all. So here’s what I’ll do:

In the comments section below, or in an email to bluebattinghelmet(at)gmail(dot)com, tell me who you want to hear a story about. Baseball players from the 1970s, 80s, or 90s will probably get the best response, but I’ll take a stab at spinning a tale about anyone. If I have any visual aids I’ll throw those in too.

And please come back again during the holiday season, and in the new year as well. There will be new content waiting for you every time.

Happy Holidays!

Apparently I’m from the olden days

The other night, my younger daughter and I were having dinner together. I told her that Halloween was a week away, and at this time of year, when I was her age, one of the big happenings was the annual airing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” It was a big deal when it was on, I explained to her, because if you missed it you were out of luck until the next year.

She look bewildered as I explained that in a world without VCRs or DVRs, and without on Demand or the internet, there was just one time when you got to see Charlie Brown get rocks in his trick-or-treat bag, or Linus convince Sally to wait in the pumpkin patch all night, or see Snoopy pretend to be the World War I flying ace. I really did look forward to it, and watching it on TV helped to confirm–if any confirmation was necessary–that it was almost time for tricks or treats.

My daughter then informed me that she had never seen it before, and I know a parenting moment when I see one. I dug out our old copy of it on videotape (since the $2.99 cable fee for watching it on Demand seemed too high) and we went to the old VCR and put it in. I think she enjoyed it, and I know I did, because Halloween just seems to be the unofficial start of the holiday season for me. Thanksgiving comes pretty quickly, and then Christmas, and just two months later it’s New year’s eve.

My daughter told that she’s glad she didn’t grow up in the olden days like I did. I got a laugh when I heard that, because I’m sure I said something similar to my parents at some point in my youth. Anything new that come along, like electricity or color TV or wireless cellphones or whatever else you can think of, makes life impossible for children to imagine without it. It made teaching history just about impossible, since kids probably though that Benjamin Franklin took long bathroom breaks, or George Washington had lots of followers on Twitter.

Having lived through the olden days myself, I have to say that it wasn’t really that bad. I wish I had some of the cool things that my kids have now, but it’s impossible to miss something when nobody’s thought it up quite yet. And whenever these cool new things seem antiquated–which is bound to happen at some point–hopefully they’ll be able to embrace whatever comes along to replace it.