Posted tagged ‘Christmas’

National Lampoon Christmas Vacation

December 9, 2021

Nothing like getting into the Christmas spirit by watching Chevy Chase. The gags never seem to get old.

We watched Christmas Vacation last night. It is available on Amazon Prime. We always love to see Cousin Eddie show up in his broken down motor home.


January 2, 2020

Well, another Christmas is in the history books. We had lunch with Mary over in Long Beach, then dinner with the family at our place. Dinner went great until it was time to clean up the dishes. Luckily the problem didn’t happen before dinner.

We discovered that the kitchen sink was very much clogged. We thought that our plumbing problems were done with after pushing a snake down our bathroom toilet. The toilet was doing great, kitchen sink not so much.

We decide to hold off on running the dishwasher. That could have made things much, much worse.

I tried using the plunger. No help. It just pushed the water down in left sink right back up in the right sink.

Called the plumber this morning. Plumber came industrial grade 30’ motorized snake. He checked with neighbor upstairs to see if they had problems. No answer.

At any rate, all cleaned out. Back to normal. Plumber told us that Drano, etc aren’t much use on an established clog.

Christmas Cards

January 9, 2019

I declare that the Christmas card season is about over. Yesterday, I received what I expect to be the last card for the season. So it is time to review what happened.

This year I sent out 130 Christmas letters to friends and family spread out across the country. About half are in the Los Angeles area and the other half in the Boston area. Then add a few odd letters to people in North Carolina and Florida.

In 2017, I sent out about 175 letters. This year I spent a great deal of effort trimming the list down to 130. So how many did we receive? Well as best I can count we received a little over 30 cards, letters and holiday pictures. My goal has been to reach out to the people that we have known over the many years.


I don’t understand why the cards received is so much lower than the number sent. We love to hear how people are doing. As you can see in the pictures above, we love to post the cards in any available space around out kitchen and dining room.

So my question for my readers. Do you send out holiday/Christmas cards/letters? If not, why not? If yes, why? Perhaps $.50 each for postage might be one answer.

Christmas Letters

December 10, 2018

2018-12-10 10.57.10Every year at this time I write a Christmas letter. I have  been doing it now for about 20 years. I have most of the old letters saved in a directory on my computer going back to 1999.

I got the idea of writing the letters from Paula’s mother who did a Christmas letter every year. I felt that just doing cards was boring. I felt like writing to folks about what has happened in our lives, but doing it on each card was too much work. So I started our Christmas letter.

This year it will be going to about 125 of our nearest and dearest friends all over the world. One year I emailed the letter to most of our friends, but felt that was  boring.

Last year it went out to about 180 people. This year, I decided to pare the list down a bit. Getting a bit pricey at 50 cents per stamp.

So here’s my process. First, I save pictures over the course of the year and put in a Christmas 20xx file. I select pictures that might be good for the letter.

In mid November, I start reviewing the mailing list. I check for addresses. I check for deaths in the families. I don’t want to commit the faux pas of sending a letter to John and Jane Doe when Jane died during the year.

Beginning in early December, I start writing. Add pictures, then print and submit to editor in chief (Paula) who makes suggestions and corrections to my spelling and grammar.

Then log in to Amazon and shop for paper and envelopes. This year I have way more than I need. Extra paper and envelopes go into a bin for next year.

Next, print labels. I found an app on iTunes App Store that does a great job of printing labels. Click here for a pointer to the app.

Next, start the print run. Invariably, I run out of ink. This year is no different. Ran out of color cartridge. Ordered from HP. Should be here today. Once I have the ink installed, continue printing. HP offers free overnight shipping for ink cartridges. Good deal.

At this point, I hand off a handful of letters to Paula for people that she wants to add a personal note, maybe 20-25 out of 125.

Finally fold and stuff into envelopes and put on address and return address stickers. Finally add postage and drop into the mailbox.

If you don’t want to wait for the mailman, click here for your own copy.

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2017

nativity_Antoniazzo[Note: This was supposed to be published last night. I screwed up.]

So today is Christmas Eve. We managed to get Mary out of bed, dressed and off to church for Christmas Eve Service. We seem to be getting her into the habit of going to church on Sunday’s again. Everyone were happy to see her and greeted her. She had a smile on her face. No grumpy for Christmas.

Tomorrow will be a quiet day for us. Our son and his family are up in the Bay Area visiting Theresa’s family.

One of the things that I like about Christmas is how everything slows down and comes to a brief stop. Shops close early.  Roads seem to empty of drivers. Seeing LA with out traffic is downright eerie.

So we went back to the Gaffey Street Diner for brunch after services. We met a new server last week named Tina. She took good care of us again today. I gave her a good tip that kind of floored her. That’s a good way to spread cheer.

So finally, I thought I would include one of my favorite bits of Christmas poetry. Here in its entirety is Clement Moore’s “Twas the Night before Christmas

Christmas_treeTwas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads; And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below; When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:

“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,”On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blixen” To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! “Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky; So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toy and St. Nicholas too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof. The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound: He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys was flung on his back,

And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack: His eyes how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry, His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry; His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face, and a little round belly, That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose. He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight. Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Merry Christmas to all!


My Christmas Letter

December 9, 2017

2017-12-09 14.34.33Every year at this time I write a Christmas letter to 130 of my nearest and dearest friends. I started doing it about 20 years ago. My in-laws (Harold and Mary) had sent out Christmas letters to all of their friends for many years. That’s where I got the idea.

I was tired of just sending out a card that we just signed and threw in the mailbox. I knew I wasn’t possible to write a long individual letter to every one of our friends and relations. That wasn’t going to happen.

One year I tried sending the letter only be email. I wasn’t happy with how it turned out. Many people didn’t have email. It just felt better sending a written letter on a piece of paper. I still send a few letters by email, but it’s only as a last resort like when I don’t have an updated, valid postal address.

So every year the process starts anew. I begin to review the list. Who do I add? Who do I remove? I need to remove the spouses that have passed during the year. I keep the list as a group on my Apple. This year I made sure that every one got a full 9 digit zip code.

Then I ordered paper and envelopes from Amazon. I checked to see if I have enough address labels. So now I have some paper and envelopes left over. Hopefully I can find the stuff next November.

On the day after Thanksgiving, I start writing the letter. My goal is to fill 2 pages with the stories of our year. What did we do? Where did we go? How’s everyone doing?

Then I pick a few pictures to add to the letter. Obligatory pictures of us, our grand kids are added.

I usually have to shrink the font size down a bit in order to fit the letter on two pages. This year I ended up with size 11 font.

Finally after numerous final edits by Paula and I, the letter goes to print. Oh I need to check the ink status on my printer. I ordered a package of color ink from HP. but didn’t need it.

Time to print. First, I did the labels. Last year I got a new app from the app store that does a real good job printing labels. The app is called “Label Printer” by Richard McKenna. I think that he has a version for Android. One can add addresses directly from the contact database. Really does a good job.

Then I print the letter. I have a duplex printer but I find that I can do it faster if I do the front page, then after that is done, do the back page.

Then fold and stuff envelopes. Paula usually wants to write a personal note to some of our friends, so I cull those out for her.

Finally, I seal and stamp. On Monday, I take them to the PO.




December 15, 2016

So last night we all went to the family Christmas party at LA Harbor Lodge #332 in San Pedro. Dinner would be described as kid friendly. ie. we had grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Mary was a bit confused at the selection of food. But never mind we all ate what we were served.

Second part of the festivities was the puppet show. The kids always like this.


2016-12-14-19-50-59Our grand-kids missed the first parts but made it in time for the visit of Santa. They were at another Christmas party for the kids. The kids have more Christmas parties than we do.

All of the kids dutifully lined up for a moment with Santa. So here’s the funny part. Jonathan, who is five, had no problem with going to talk with Santa and he was rewarded with a small gift. He understands “Mug for the camera”.  Sarah, who is two, would have none of it. She wasn’t going sit on the lap of the big scary guy dressed in red. When Jonathan was two, he wouldn’t do it either.

So then little Sarah discovered that Jonathan received a toy from the big guy in red, she was not happy. Where’s my toy? Kids were all worn out. Kids and grownups were getting grumpy. Time for all to go home and to bed for a long winter’s nap.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.



December 14, 2016

2016-12-13-11-00-40Once last letter about Mary before Christmas.Today was a busy day. On the docket was the Assistance League Christmas Luncheon at Michael’s Tuscany Room in San Pedro. Up late last night working on Paula’s agenda for the event. Then when I was about to print the thing, I found that I was out of paper. All I could find was a package of fancy paper. It would have to do. Finally got to bed.

I had my alarm set for 0600 to get Paula and I up and ready. Mary had an appointment to get her hair done at 0830. So I get up and head for the bathroom to take my morning meds and relieve myself. The light in Mary’s room was on. WTF? We had early hair appointment because Paula had to be at the restaurant at 1000. It seems that she had got up earlier and got dressed and went back to bed. How much earlier, I do not know.

My job was to go to the local Costco in Torrance and pick up the two sheet cakes that Paula had ordered last week. I also picked up a couple of bottles of Bombay Sapphire Gin and some computer paper while I was at it. It turns out that getting to Costco 15 minutes before opening is a good thing. You get a decent parking space.

Well, Paula got her to the restaurant on time. Got her to the ladies’ room to do her business. Then got her seated. Then Paula got her a glass of White Zinfandel. All is well. One of the ladies across the table offered me a glass of wine from their bottle of Chardonnay. Why certainly I said. Nice way to ease the stress of the morning. Nice meal. I had some salmon. Very tasty. They had some tasty bruschetta for an appetizer. Also, tasty. We try to ask her if she had a good time. Apparently, this time she did. She saw some people that she knew.

I had to leave at 1:30 pm to go to my dentist appt to get my teeth scraped. So I missed the entertainment. We both pulled into the garage at about the same time. Enough fun for today. Sleep late tomorrow.


Christmas Letter 2016

December 8, 2016

mehihe_xmasSo the first batch of Christmas Letters were mailed today. This batch was about 75 or so letters. This batch required no hand-written input from Paula. So off they go.

I first started this annual project almost 20 years ago. I got the idea from Paula’s mother who sent out an annual letter. Paula wanted to hand write all of her Christmas cards. But I like the idea of doing the letter. The trade-off was that Paula would do a written addition to the letters that she wanted to send.

So here’s my process. Throughout the year I gather potential photos to include. I start writing the actual letter in November. I try to cover all of the high points of our year, including where we have traveled, what our kids are up to, etc.

Now that I’m retired, I have plenty of time to work on the letter. Back in the day, I wouldn’t even start on the project until the day after Christmas during the Holiday corporate shutdown.

My goal is to get it on one double-sided piece of paper and leave enough space on the bottom for Paula to write something. I sometimes use a smaller font to fit everything in.

Concurrently, I start working on the list. As of today, there are 135 people on the list. Last year, it was at about 120 or so. It seems that having sets of friends both on the West Coast as well as the East Coast has helped push the number higher.

Then, I procure the paper and envelopes.The last couple of years, I got them from Amazon. I prefer a light background with not too much art work. I try to get envelopes and paper to match. Some years I have just got colored envelopes. It’s getting so that there is hardly anything that you can’t get from Amazon.

This year I tried to streamline the process a bit. I created  a “Xmas-Letter” group on my iPhone/iPad contact database. Each person that I wanted to send a copy got added to the group. Then I used a new app called “Label Printer” (Click for link in the Apple app store). There’s a free version that one can use to try it out.

So labels get printed. First, check with Paula on whether the list is complete. One last edit of the actual letter. Paula gets the last look before I start the print run. Check the ink cartridges for sufficient ink. Nothing so maddening as to start running out of ink half way through the run.

So by December 1, it’s time to start folding and stuffing into envelopes and putting labels and stamps on them. Then I sort them into two piles, ones that require input from Paula and those that do not. The ones not requiring input get sealed and mailed.

It’s interesting to look back at my Christmas years gone by. The early ones from late 1990’s are crude by comparison. I added clip art but not pictures. My PC at the time (a Gateway desktop, remember them?) was crude by comparison to today’s laptops. Getting pictures on to the page took a good bit more effort. One year, I tried sending pictures only by email. Bad move. I will never do that again. I believe that our friends enjoy getting reading the mail, especially seeing as it isn’t a bill.

So without further ado, here is the pointer to this year’s letter. Download if you like or wait for the post man.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.


A Christmas Question

December 25, 2015

A merry Christmas to all. I have a question for my readers. Why is it that only the Roman Catholic Church has services on Christmas Day? All of the Protestant churches that I have attended only have services on Christmas Eve. Or are there some Protestand churches that do have a service on Christmas Day?

Is it because the priest isn’t married and has nothing better to do? Or do the Protestant ministers have a better Union and insist on getting the day off like the rest of the working stiffs?

So inquiring minds want to know.