Saturday, December 27, 2008

John Amos is 69 today

American actor John Amos, best known as playing the father (James Evans) on the sitcom Good Times, is 69 today.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 81

Legendary singer and actress Earth Kitt died on Christmas Day (yesterday) at the age of 81. Fittingly, she was probably best known for her hit holiday song "Santa Baby".

Here she is singing "Old Fashioned Girl" and "Santa Baby".

In addition to her singing, she also played Catwoman in the 1960s TV series Batman.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Queen Elizabeth II's 2008 Christmas Message

It's Christmas morning!

St. George's Chapel Choir - I Saw Three Ships

Merry Christmas!

To everyone out there who reads my blog, have a very Merry Christmas! Your support is truly appreciated.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas countdown: 1 day!

Judy Garland - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Sharing the special Christmas holiday spirit

(Note: I don't normally post my column on the day it's published, however since it's Christmas Eve and this is a "time-sensitive" piece about Christmas, I decided to post this one today. I will do the same for the New Year's Eve column next week and revert to the normal schedule after that.)

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial Page

It's Christmas Eve! Finally!

It's also the last day that "Santa won't come if you don't do your chores" (or whatever other parental sin the kids are currently committing) will work for at least 10 months, if not 11, depending on the stubbornness of the child. I personally don't remember my parents using this on me, but I'm sure they did.

We were a family of modest means, but there was one thing for sure. . . our Christmas tree was bursting with presents every Dec. 25.

I still remember the anticipation of the gifts. It would take me forever to fall asleep -- I would literally shake with excitement -- and then I'd wake up every hour on the hour. Finally, not being able to stand it, I would get up at about 4 a.m. and creep into the living room to see if Santa Claus had indeed visited our little bungalow in Lewisville. He always did. And I never heard him arrive -- ever. Must have been the reindeer slippers!

Like many families, we would have turkey for our holiday meal, which we usually ate at lunch. Relatives would come and go. My aunt was usually there with us. A few lucky years, different sets of grandparents would also visit.

I remember my paternal grandparents coming over for Christmas dinner one year when we decided to have duck instead of turkey. I don't know what possessed us. Oh the duck was delicious, but I think we ended up eating Huey, Dewey or Louie instead of Donald and Daisy. They were quite tiny and I remember it being said that the duck experiment would be the last. It was turkey every year after that! At least we'd all have enough to eat then. Two small ducks certainly weren't enough for eight people.

To my adult horror -- because I now know that it's about the worst thing you can feed a dog -- I also remember my paternal grandmother happily feeding about half a box of chocolates to our dog. She sat on the arm of the sofa, would reach into the huge red holiday box of Ganong chocolates (the only kind allowed in the house, might I add), grab a chocolate and toss it into the air. Of course, the dog ate every one of them. (Don't try this at home. Chocolate is toxic for dogs. . . seriously. Luckily, our dog was OK.)

I can remember her laugh like it was yesterday. What I wouldn't give to hear it again. She had a hearty guffaw that would cut through the room like laser beam.

My grandparents from Prince Edward Island visited one Christmas. I was quite young, but I remember begging them not to leave. I have a photo of me frantically urging them to stay. I'm sure they were eager to get back home after spending a few days with various families of noisy kids, but I certainly wasn't ready for them to head home.

At Christmas, our house was usually full of relatives. . . either on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Different years brought different crowds. As cousins grew, they stopped visiting, but we'd still see each other in passing if we visited their houses.

Like all families, the children grew and developed other interests, wanting to be more with their friends than with their family. Thankfully, not too many years later, it all came back to roost when they once again sought out family for the holidays.

Of course, not all years were rosy. The years following the deaths of certain close relatives were always sad, as was the Christmas after my parents broke up. That year -- 1987 -- was definitely the worst, as Christmas traditions were thrown into turmoil and the guilt of leaving one parent alone while spending time with the other was almost unbearable. Transitions into new traditions are never easy.

With that said, the following year was much better. . . and each one after that saw new and happy traditions take hold. The family has grown and although there are many different faces around the Christmas dinner table than there were in the 1960s and 1970s, they are no less special than those who sat around the dinner tables of my youth.

Luckily, sadness and melancholy only severely tainted one of my Christmases, however there are many out there who are regularly reminded of unfortunate events around the holidays. I know that it's a very difficult time of the year for many. . . those who have lost a close friend or family member. . . a parent. . . a spouse. . . a sibling. . . a child. There is a glaring empty place at the dinner table, one that can never be filled again.

Still, others have their holidays tainted every year by bitter memories of long ago. Perhaps the memory of an alcoholic parent lingers -- someone who was supposed to make Christmas joyful for you but who was too caught up in their own illness to do so. That's a hard memory to shake. After years of connecting the holiday to something horrible, I can only imagine how hard it is to make new and more positive associations.

Some succeed at it. Some never do. I certainly can't stand in judgment of anyone who sees Christmas as a sad time, but I still think it's a real shame that not everyone can have a good holiday -- even if things aren't perfect in their lives.

So here's my Christmas gift to you. Today, I'm sending out good vibes to everyone out there who's in need of some Christmas spirit. If you're grieving, lonely, anxious, ill, poor or just unhappy, grab some of these vibes and hold them close.

If some of my spirit can help you find a little bit of happiness this year, take it! It's yours! Think of it as modelling clay and turn it into something of your own; something happy that you'll be able to remember year after year. May this Christmas be a new beginning for you. And please know that, ultimately, everything will be OK.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Aftermath of Moncton's latest snowstorm

Christmas countdown: 3 days!

A really cool light show to the tune of a techno version of Amazing Grace. Spectacular!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!

Tonight is the first night of Hannukah. Happy Hanukkah!

How to light the Hanukkah menorah.

How to play dreidel.

Happy dogs in the snow!

Welcome winter!

Today is the first day of winter and Jack Frost is hard at work painting designs on icy windows.

Enjoy it and be safe! As for Moncton, we'll be getting blasted with a major snowstorm later today, so it's a fitting start to the season.

Christmas countdown: 4 days!

The Lennon Sisters - Silver Bells

The Lennon Sisters - Marshmallow Christmas