Looking at Christmas from the outside


English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Esperanto: Patro Kristnasko kaj malgranda knabino Suomi: Joulupukki ja pieni tyttö (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Even before Thanksgiving is upon us, advertising for Christmas begins. It is impossible to live in the United States and ignore the impact that this celebration has on everyone.

 

My parents had an unusual take on Christmas. Being Jewish, they didn’t want me to identify with  the religious part of Christmas, but they didn’t want me to feel left out of believing in Santa Claus.  I don’t know how many Jewish kids believed in Santa Claus, but I did. He brought my Chanukah presents on  Christmas. (The truth was Santa Claus worked for his cousin on Christmas Eve, and got some merchandise in return.)  We never had a Christmas tree. We did light the candles and say the blessings each night of Chanukah.

 

I really bought the whole Santa Claus thing line, hook, and sinker. I counted the days until Christmas, and I really believed Santa Claus was watching me, so I made sure I was extra good.

 

When I found out that Santa Claus really wasn’t coming to my house, I was really upset.  It’s the first time I realized that everything wasn’t cracked up to what it was supposed to be. I guess that’s a sad reality we all have to face sooner or later.

 

I really felt like an outsider then because I realized Christmas really wasn’t my holiday. I asked my mother if Thanksgiving was really my holiday. How about New Years Eve? I was happy to find out Thanksgiving was okay.

 

Since I’ve grown up, I’ve come to my own conclusions about religion. I think it is nice to celebrate the traditions that you’ve grown up with, but I’m not exactly sure where the stories come from. (I buy the idea that they were written by people.)

I think there are lessons and basic truths in every religion. It’s too bad people misconstrue the whole thing, and live their own versions of their religions.  As my dear mother used to say,” anything in extreme is bad.”Meghan Kelly and her rantings about Santa Claus are a perfect example of what I find ridiculous.( But that’s another post.)

 

It is impossible to live in this country and not get a little caught up in the Christmas spirit. It is a good thing.  I wish people acted charitable and kind all year-long. I really enjoy the music, and the lights. I like saying “Merry Christmas” to people.

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza,  and Happy New Year!

 

 

Pleasure Guild’s excellent production of” Peter Pan” provokes memories and thoughts!


Peter Pan 1915 cover 2

Peter Pan 1915 cover 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pleasure Guild sponsored an excellent production of “Peter Pan.”  This is a group that raises money for Children’s Hospital in Columbus. One way they do this is to produce a play.  The play was an amateur production, but seemed professional to me.  I loved it so much I put a few dollars in the Children’s Hospital’s  bucket after the show was over.

All of the actors are amateurs who did a terrific job. The choreography was fantastic. The main characters are all actors who’ve been in productions before, but there were children, who couldn’t have had much experience. The acting and singing were just perfect. They didn’t miss a step or a note!

Emily Cipfiani  who played Peter Pan was convincing.  She had a tremendous voice. (I’d read in The Columbus Dispatch that she suffered from juvenile arthritis. You would never know it by her flying and dancing.)

The actors who played Captain Hook (Doug Joseph)  and Wendy (Kelly Hogan) were particularly talented. They had those characters down perfectly.

I was impressed with everything: scenery, costumes, flying and music.

Thoughts the production provoked

This is a very old story. The first time I watched this I was a little girl. I know I liked it then, but for different reasons. I wanted to be like Wendy and fly. “Never Never Land” seemed appealing to me at the time.  I liked the amusing conflicts between the pirates, Indians and Captain Hook.  Peter Pan made a great hero. I truly believed in Tinkerbell. The music charmed me, just like it did in this production!

Now, that I am getting older, the play hit different chords. Do I wish I could go back to childhood and never grow up? (Maybe just for a day)   Can I even remember what it was like to be a child?  Hardly, but those good memories are ones I treasure.

At the end of the play, the grownups were bemoaning the fact that their children were gone. That touched a nerve. Your children eventually grow up and you and  go barely remember their childhoods. They leave one way or the other. We all want them to grow up, but it is a little sad, just the same.

There’s nothing like a good play to touch your heart.

Good job Pleasure Guild!

Did you see the play? What is your opinion?  What memories does “Peter Pan” evoke for you?

This woman at 109 knows the secrets of life


Even though this is 8 minutes long, it is worth watching. It will make you smile. Hint: she sees the glass as more than half full. It seems so simple, but I think we’ve lost that optimism.  In her day, she was an accomplished pianist.

She doesn’t live in the past. She embraces the here and now. That is also very cool. This was made last year. She is now 109 years old.

Tell me your reaction to this interview. What do you think is the secret to a long, happy life?

A Valentine’s letter to my mother


Dearest Mom,

Happy Valentine's Day...

Happy Valentine’s Day… (Photo credit: Јerry)

I wish you were here. It’s almost Valentine’s day, and I still think about you. I thought you would live forever and you almost did. At ninety-one you finally gave in. I feel slightly guilty that I made you sign the paper giving the doctor permission to do that hip operation. I didn’t know you’d be signing your death certificate. I know you would never want me to blame myself. I do believe it was your “time to go.”

I figured you’d come through that like you did everything. You’d had a couple of  really bad breaks. You were a strong woman. You weren’t the type to feel sorry for yourself. Going blind at the end was very hard on you, but you “did the best you could.”

Things were starting to slip. Sometimes, you’d get things confused. One time, when we were listening to the radio, you asked me who was singing. It was Perry Como, your life-long crush.

[Portrait of Perry Como, New York, N.Y., ca. O...

[Portrait of Perry Como, New York, N.Y., ca. Oct. 1946] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

You didn’t remember much about my childhood. That you’d nursed me through a staff infection for two years, that when I broke my shoulder, you’d made slings out of Cleveland Indian scarves. You couldn’t remember our family trip to Washington D.C. when I was 12.  It was like that part of our lives together never happened.

You rarely talked about my father. Not unless I brought it up. Remembering him was just too painful. I know you were hoping to see him after you died. But being the practical person you were, you didn’t believe that was going to really happen. Even though I’m just as practical, I like to imagine that you are together.

When I came to visit, we stuck with the tasks at hand. Walking down to the dining hall, taking a walk outside, and listening to that old radio station where they played all your favorites: Eddie Fisher, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and all those singers from the 1940’s.

You still loved to go out to eat. It was almost like you were escaping from that independent living facility every time I came to visit. It was almost like we were partners in crime.

You loved to go to the beauty shop, and listen to the hair-stylists talk to their customers. It was the last place where you could feel like one of the girls.

In your old age you still cared more about me than you did yourself. You asked me if I wanted that extra dinner you’d ordered from the kitchen of the independent living facility where you lived. You asked me if I was comfortable sleeping on the couch overnight. You offered me sheets and a pillow. You tried your very best to be a good hostess.

You dearly loved all your grandchildren ( and great-grandchildren) and gave what you could to all of them. They were your hope for the future. Maybe your exterior seemed a little tough, but inside you were all mushy. You just didn’t let anyone know it.

When we went through your apartment, we found evidence of this secretive side: saved birthday cards, our old school report cards, photographs, engagement and wedding announcements and  programs from college graduations.

So, on Valentines Day I think of the one woman who loved me the most. When you died, you took my nickname with you. It isn’t the same if someone else calls me “Barbie.”  So, a part of me went with you. But, I’ll never forget you.

Happy Valentine’s Day mom.

The Movie “Quartet” is a Winner: Dustin Hoffman’s Directorial Debut at 75 Grade: A


If you’re a baby boomer or above, you’re facing some realities. You aren’t going to look like your 25 no matter how much you try. You start noticing other changes too. You get tired faster.  Some people notice a little forgetfulness creeping in. Imagine how it’s going to be in your  70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Acceptance of very old age is beautifully portrayed in the movie, “Quartet.” It is Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut (at 75) and he does a sensitive job. He was wise enough to do his first production with the best actors. Try Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, and  Pauline Collins,   Even though they’re elderly, they’re effective.  Just like the characters they portray in the movie.

The movie is about people living in a retirement home for musicians,  Beecham, residents are notable instrumentalists and opera singers. They don’t sit around and play Bingo; they play and sing music. Most of it classical and operatic There is plenty of music interspersed throughout the movie. There’s some authentic singing done by some of these masterful actors, singers and instrumentalists.

One of the conflicts comes into play when a former diva Jean Horton, portrayed by Maggie Smith, has to make contact with her ex husband Reginald portrayed by Tom  Courtenay. You know it was a serious breakup by their reaction to each other.

The retirement home needs to put on a show to raise money so they can stay in business. Smith’s character doesn’t want to tarnish her reputation since she can’t hit the high notes she used to. Part of the movie deals with Jeans reluctance to perform again.

Although the movie drags a little in the beginning, it picks up speed and by middle, you’ll be completely captivated.

*If you live in Columbus, Ohio, it’s playing at The Drexel Theater in Bexley.

Stay for the credits. They have some before and after pictures of the actors.

( I attended this movie with people I’ve been singing in a choir with for over 20 years. By the end of the movie, we were joking about scoping out a retirement home now.  I couldn’t think of people I’d rather live with when  I’m really old! )

English: Dustin Hoffman at the Cannes Film Fes...

English: Dustin Hoffman at the Cannes Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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TV’s Supernanny is cool: A Review. Ten of the best techniques I’ve gleaned from the show.


I am fascinated by the Supernanny.  She’s the English Nanny who helps rescue people being over-run by their kids.  What’s most fascinating about her is that she doesn’t have any kids, but she seems to have a good understanding of what makes kids tick. No matter how assertive she is with the children,  the kids seem to love her. She knows the difference between being stern and mean. (It is TV) It just proves that kids are looking for authority figures, not friends.

This lady has good ideas. I was watching a marathon of these shows yesterday. Why I should be interested after I’m all done with mothering bewilders me. Maybe I’m just glad I didn’t live with abusive kids.

These new parents have a lot on their plates. It takes two incomes to raise kids these days. It’s a lot of responsibility, work and time.  I think maybe we’ve lost sight of what’s important. I think our mothers, father, and grandparents had a better idea.

I’m not saying I was the perfect mother, far from it. Luckily, my kids came out all right, but I  could have used some of the techniques I see proposed on this TV show.

Ten Valuable Techniques (I’ve watched

Supernanny

Supernanny (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Supernanny teach hapless parents.)

1 .When disciplining the child, get down on their level. Have them think about what they did wrong, then have them apologize. (I actually did use this technique. It was in place in the medieval times. )
2. Put some authority in your voice, so they know you mean business.
3. Make them go in their corner or room for one minute per age.
4. If they get out of bed at night, just put them back in their beds. The first time, say something, but after that don’t talk, just put them back in bed.
5 .Don’t let them use bad language, kick, hit or abuse the parents. It should never be tolerated.
6. Keep a good routine going. Give them thing to do that they will like. (Don’t just expect toys or TV  to completely entertain them.)
7 .Make sure your house is safe and that they can’t get into trouble.
8. Give them responsibility.
9. Take time to play with them.
10 Take time to listen to them.

Clinging Child

The story that I found unbelievable was about a little boy who was clinging onto his mother. She couldn’t walk 10 feet without him putting up his arms and demanding that she pick him up. She never turned him down.  He also decided what time his  mom and he should go to bed.  When he got tired, he happily crawled in bed with Mom and Dad (already asleep).

Supernanny gave Mom several  techniques to un-cling little 2-year old.  Mom was unwittingly promoting these  clinging habits. Dad wasn’t helping because when  he came home from work, he had transition time which never ended. He sat on a chair all night and watched TV. As soon as he became engaged with his kids, things began to improve.

It all came out all right. (At least on the TV show.)  The clinging  child  finally went to sleep in his own bed, disengaged from his mom and stopped throwing tantrums every time she put him on the floor.

If the kids featured on Supernanny are messed up, it’s easy to see who is responsible. It usually goes back to Mom and Dad.

The parents don’t seem to have any insight in what they’re doing to create these little monsters. Some parents are afraid of their kids not liking them, some are too lazy to tend to their kid’s needs, and others just don’t know what to do.

It seems peculiar that they don’t teach these kinds of skills in school. I think it’s needed now, more than ever.

Your thoughts?

The Harmony Project Singing as One Voice


The Harmony Project.  We are singing Beth Neilson Chapman's "There is no darkness."  Photo by Paul Feeney

The Harmony Project. We are singing Beth Neilson Chapman’s
“There is no darkness.” Photo by Paul Feeney

I’ve been in choirs all my life. I remember how happy I was the first time I officially belonged to a choir. I was in the 5th grade at Rowland Elementary school. I even remember some of the songs we sang for our program.  Miss Titus, our devoted teacher, would probably be thrilled that I remember the words to “The Erie Canal.”

I’ve been in many choirs since then. Singing makes me feel good. I like the social aspects of it too. It’s just plain fun. The Harmony Project, one of the choirs I sing in,  is something special. It’s a philanthropic group that sings and shares. Good works have been done in Columbus, Ohio, under the banner of the “Harmony Project.” We raise money, and get to give concerts too.

Choir Directors always talk about “singing with one voice.”  That is a hard thing to achieve. Sometimes, you have some frustrated singers, with better than average voices, over-singing. At times, what you end up with is  different voices, not blending at all. Sometimes, it reminds me of a competition.  If you have a skillful musical director, they won’t allow this to happen.

Last night at the Harmony Project, everyone was singing enthusiastically while they followed Musical director,  David Brown. In the middle of it all, I said to myself. Wow, this is a once in a lifetime moment. Stay  in the present, listen, to your neighbor, blend in and forget yourself.

It was one of those magical moments. One I’ll always remember. We were all one voice.

Members of The Harmony Project singing with heart and soul!  From the Bill Pearsol album

Members of The Harmony Project singing with heart and soul! From the Bill Pearsol album

Harmony Project gets loads of bikes to give to kids for Christmas


305432_10151280280413070_1024731632_n305432_10151280280413070_1024731632_nHere’s what can happen if people work together, and do something positive. The Harmony Project, a philanthropic group that sings and shares had a one day drive in Columbus, Ohio, to buy bikes for foster kids.  It worked!  In one day, enough money was raised to buy 155 bikes!

In light of what has happened recently, this is encouraging news. If we put our minds to it, we can do anything.

We just need to believe in ourselves, and what we can accomplish! Picture by David Brown, director of The Harmony Project!

Help buy a bike for a foster kid in Columbus Ohio: read about it here! : Another Harmony Project post


Teenagers sharing with People from the Unison Project and Harmony Project

Teenagers sharing with People from the Unison Project and Harmony Project

IF you are one of my followers, you already know about The Harmony Project. It’s a wonderful group that came into my life. It’s a combination of singing (a 200 member choir that performs) and sharing.

Today, we’re buying bikes for foster kids in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a social media event. You can give as little as a dollar, or as much as you want. A woman called the “Bike Lady” purchases bikes for us.  We’re putting resources together to give as many bikes as we can in one day. Join our effort. We know it’s a hard times and the holiday season. But, you can be a part of this. How about feeling terrific for a dollar or two? There’s nothing like it!

Here’s a letter from a foster grandparent

A letter from a foster grandparent…yes, even the smallest contribution can yield a significant return:
“I am writing this letter to encourage you to continue giving our young men the mental, spiritual and material tools they need to prepare them for a better future. The bike is a material thing, but it taught my grandson so much. He learned about sharing and taking care of something he cares about. Most importantly, he learned that people who don’t even know him care about him and other children. I remind him often to pass it forward when he is able. Thank you for your support.
Sincerely, A grateful grandmother”

I get absolutely nothing out of this. But, I’ve gotten so much out of sharing my time and helping. You can too!  Please donate, and if you really want to do a good thing share this over the web today. It’s just plain exciting and fun!

By the way, I intensely dislike  selling stuff or asking for money. I really do. But, this project has given me so much! It’s really a blessing. Now it’s your chance to “pay it forward.”

Trust me, you’ll feel good all day!

On 12/12/12, click http://www.harmonyproject.com/bikes    Here’s the link!

Should people ever hold grudges? Is there a time when a grudge supersedes resolving issues?


Resentment

You can’t expect to live life without running into problems. Sometimes people get so frustrated, that they decide to hold a grudge.  What’s so unsettling about a grudge is that it keeps the bitter feelings alive. It hurts all parties involved every time they think about it.

According to my New Oxford  Online Dictionary a grudge is: resentment, bitterness, rancor, pique, umbrage, dissatisfaction, disgruntlement, bad feelings, hard feelings, ill feelings, ill will, animosity, antipathy, antagonism, enmity, animus; informal a chip on one’s shoulder.

We all know about grudges. A lot of times they occur between countries. Then, what we all end up is a war. It’s like we’re all little kids saying, “I’m right, and your wrong, na, na, na, na, etc! In the meantime, many innocent people are victimized. Look at all our brave soldiers that are killed fighting meaningless wars.

Alcoholics Anonymous recognizes the destructive force that grudges have. In one of the steps, people have to apologize and make amends to people they’ve hurt.

Family Grudges Occur Too Often

It’s amazing how many grudges occur within families. You often hear about brothers and sisters turning against each other. Sometimes, if happens after a parent dies and people have to decide what to do with remaining possessions or money. I’m convinced this all  emanates from childish feelings of jealousy.

I know someone who didn’t talk to his brother for 40 years because they got into a disagreement over a bottle of wine after their father’s funeral. One brother called the other cheap and poured his inexpensive bottle down the drain Unfortunately, by the time they talked one of them had Alzheimer’s Disease and didn’t even recognize his apologetic brother.  So, it never really got settled.

If a child acted like this, we’d put them both in time-out chairs.  After the time-out was over we’d have a little talk.  We would say, “Don’t call your brother cheap, and you apologize right now.”

It takes an effort

I guess if people don’t work to resolve issues, maybe their relationship was superficial in the first place. If you sincerely cared at all about the other person, you wouldn’t let your pride get in the way.

It’s true there are some relationships not worth salvaging; for example,  people who inflict serious physical and emotional damage are not worth talking to again.

Decide if it’s worth working out

If you are feuding with someone, and care about them, this is my advice: act like a grownup and resolve the issue.

You won’t be sorry. Someday, you might even forget what the fight was about, and that it ever happened.

You’re going to gain so much more than you’ll lose

What’s the silliest grudge you ever heard of? Do you ever think it’s a good idea to hold a grudge?