Tag: christmas

Dec 25

Merry Christmas!

Holidays 2

Salutations, Bookworms!

Just wanted to wish those who celebrate a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Monday to those who do not. Enjoy the day however you choose to spend it, and know that this little nugget wishes you well!

This was our first year doing a photo card, and I couldn’t possibly be more obsessed with this pic.

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Dec 01

Guest Post at I’m Lost in Books!

Guest Post 3

Howdy Bookworms!

I’m guest posting today over at I’m Lost in Books. Becca is running a glorious Holiday Extravaganza and I seized the opportunity to evangelize on the glories of Christmas tree ornaments. You should go check it out. There are pictures, and Crazy Aunt Katie is on full display.

LostinBooksLogo_zps2b43a6e0

*P.S. If you’re doing holiday shopping this Cyber Monday and you go through a link on this site to Amazon, I’ll receive a commission. There’s a little search box thingie hanging out in the sidebar on the right. Just so you know. I’m definitely NOT asking you to do that because that would be shady. I’m just saying. If you feel like it. K thanks.*

Christmas Katoo

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Dec 23

A Video Christmas Card

Personal, Poetry, Video Blog 23

Hi Bookworms!

I wanted to create a video Christmas card for you because I’m going to be going off the grid for a few days to celebrate. I included the text below the video in case any of you wanted to read as opposed to watching. I certainly don’t blame you. (Although the video does include some of our Christmas decorations, and really, who doesn’t want to see the penguin tree?!)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, at Gingerbread House,

No computer was whirring, no click from a mouse.

And though I was nestled all snug in my bed,

I was not sleeping, but reading instead.

While lost in a world of fantastic time travel,

I heard a strange noise, like a skid on some gravel.

Shortly thereafter, the sound of a crash,

And away to the window I flew like a flash!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear

But a miniature sleigh, and no single reindeer.

I stood there confused, and scratching my noggin,

When I noticed the penguins begin to toboggan.

Santa soon shouted, “Dudes, let’s not dawdle,”

And then those sweet penguins took off at a waddle.

They gathered up packages, ribbons, and bows,

And while burdened with sacks, to housetops they ROSE.

I stood there dumbfounded, and no wonder why,

Who would’ve thought that PENGUINS could fly?!

It happened so quickly, and just like a flash,

Santa was shouting, “Fellows, let’s dash!”

“Now Carroll, now Chaucer, now Atwood and Dickens,

On Austen, on Bronte, on Shakespeare and Whitman.

We’ve filled every stocking and left every gift,

Now, buddies, oblige me, and gift me a lift!”

He hopped in his sleigh as the penguins assembled

They squawked and they wiggled, the giggled and trembled

I heard Santa exclaim with a quick backward look,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good book!”

Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate! To all those who don’t celebrate Christmas, Happy (belated) Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Festivus, and Happy New Year!!! (If you celebrate none of those holidays, then I simply wish you hearty good cheer!)

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Dec 24

Merry Christmas To All, And To All A Good Night

Personal, Poetry 7

God Rest Ye Merry Bookworms,

Let nothing you dismay.

I’ll be back to writing for you

After Christmas Day.

My husband sits here being weird,

And I think that’s okay.

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and Joy.

Ooooh-oh ti-idings of co-omfort and joy!

Merry Christmas Y'all!

Merry Christmas Y’all!

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Dec 17

God Bless Us, Every One: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Classics 29

Happy Monday, Bookworms. In honor of the holiday season, I decided to re-read my all-time favorite holiday story, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It’s a classic tale of redemption and good triumphing over indifference. In light of all that’s gone on in recent days, I think it’s helpful to focus on some of the positives in the world. Teachers are often unsung heroes because so much of what they do is intertwined with politics. I firmly believe that most teachers try to help their students to the very best of their ability, regardless of what test scores may say. When the chips were down, the heroic teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary that laid down their lives to protect their students. Let’s just take a second to be grateful for awesome teachers, shall we? My love affair with A Christmas Carol began in school, thanks to some of those fabulous teachers.

When I was in the 4th grade, we did a class production of A Christmas Carol. I wanted to play Ebenezer Scrooge (because it was the lead role, and I have always been a praise junkie), but instead I was cast as potentially the coolest character in the whole story- The Ghost of Christmas Present. I got to wear what I believe was a seasonal altar boy’s robe and a wreath on my head. I look good in hats… Even if they’re made of evergreen. I REALLY wish I had a photo of this. Sadly, I do not. Instead I offer you this:

Here's a photo of me wearing antlers instead.

Here’s a photo of me wearing antlers. Also Jim. Looking annoyed with me.

When I was in the 6th grade, my English teacher assigned us our first major paper. It was a compare/contrast paper highlighting the differences between Dickens’s original text and two movie versions of the story. The teacher in question reads my blog. The internet is funny that way. Hi, Mrs. Y! (You can’t see it, but I’m waving at you right now.) I’m sure you cringe at my “artistic” use of fragments and run-ons, but I assure you that I really DO know the rules. I just flout them. Trivial tidbit: if you read A Christmas Carol you’ll notice that instead of being divided into chapters, it’s divided into sections called “staves.” A “stave” is the plural word for staff, as in, music staff. Dickens was being cheeky and “composing” his Christmas “carol” as though it were actually music. It’s enormously clever. Let’s all give a polite poetry clap to Charles Dickens’s humor…

God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay! I don't remember how to read sheet music but I'm sure that's not what this photo is depicting.

“God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay!” I don’t remember how to read sheet music but I’m sure that’s not what this photo is depicting. Whatever, it’s positively Dickensian.

On the off chance that you’ve never read A Christmas Carol, seen a single movie adaptation of it, or watched a sitcom in the last 150 years, I’ll give you a little synopsis. Ebenezer Scrooge is a wealthy man, but he’s the biggest grump in all of London. He’s rich, but super cheap. He gives nothing to charity, he underpays his clerk, he is mean to his only living relative, and he’d rather be cold than spend money on coal t0 keep his office warm. He used to have a partner in crime named Jacob Marley. Marley died 7 years before our story begins, but chooses to come back in his ghostly form to give Scrooge a warning one Christmas Eve. Marley tells Scrooge he needs to quit being a cheap bastard because if he doesn’t, he’ll be forced to wander the afterlife dragging chains and being miserable. He tells Scrooge that he’ll be visited by 3 spirits that night (to which Scrooge rather glibly replies that he’d like to see them all at once to get it over with…You’ve got to give him credit for being ballsy. I wouldn’t argue with a ghost…)

Scrooge goes on to be visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. It’s a fascinating journey through Scrooge’s psyche as we explore Christmases past. We get to watch the childhood traumas he experiences that turn him into a big mean jerk. We see his lost love. We see the glimmers of humanity that must be hiding under the gruff facade. The Ghost of Christmas Present (a part I am known to have played more brilliantly than any other 4th grader ever… Obviously) takes Scrooge on a tour of the present’s festivities. Scrooge visits the nephew he constantly brushes off. He sees his clerk’s family subsisting on his meager salary, but displaying love and joy despite their poverty. The Ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge a bleak picture of what will become of him if he does not change his ways.

You know what happens when Scrooge gets up on Christmas morning?! He changes his ways! He jumps on his bed, he buys a giant turkey, and he goes to dinner at his nephew’s house. He gives Bob Crachit a raise! He gives a fat chunk of cash to charity and he begins to laugh again. Is there anything more heartwarming than a story of redemption? A story that celebrates giving, joy, and caring. A Christmas Carol is a classic for a reason. It reminds the reader that there is more to life than money. There is immeasurable joy to be had by helping out our fellow human beings. Decency and kindness don’t go unnoticed.

I’m being rather cowardly in avoiding in-depth discussion of the nightmare that occurred in Connecticut on Friday. My heart broke along with the rest of the world when the story broke. I simply can’t wrap my mind around that much sadness without plunging into a black hole of despair… Which will accomplish absolutely nothing. Right now I CHOOSE to celebrate the good. I want to buy someone’s coffee. I want to send a card to a little old lady. I want to give a gift just for the sake of seeing the recipient smile. I can’t undo what’s been done, but I can refuse to allow tragedy to define my behavior. I’m going to spread some JOY to chase away a tiny corner of darkness. I encourage you to do the same. As Tiny Tim so succinctly put it, “God bless us, every one.”

And God bless free clip art.

And God bless free clip art.

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Dec 14

A Christmas Miracle: The Most Glorious Tale of the Wrapping Paper

Confession Friday, Humor, Personal 36

I like to buy wrapping paper on sale after Christmas. I’m rather particular about the paper, as I prefer penguin print (which comes as a surprise to exactly no one.) Last year I found myself wrought with the most frustrating of first world problems: wrapping paper storage. They make these lovely tubs to store wrapping paper. I like plastic storage items- they are significantly better at fighting your traditional basement storage foes (humidity, bugs) than their soft sided counterparts. Sadly, my wrapping paper tub was of the short variety, and I had purchased paper of the long variety.

Womp, womp.

Womp, womp.

“No big deal,” I thought to myself, “I’ll run out and pick up a taller wrapping paper container. I know they exist, my dad has one.” Thus I embarked on the most annoying shopping hunt that has ever been. I went to every single store that could conceivably stock the tall container. No luck. I trolled the internet tirelessly. No. Freaking. Luck.

Oh, there were “products.” There were soft sided boxes, racks to hang on the back of your door, a plethora of containers that were too short to be useful. I was several times teased with the majestic object of my affection only to be foiled by the dreaded “NO LONGER AVAILABLE” notice. To say I was annoyed is an understatement. I was absolutely fixated on this wrapping paper problem.

“WHY would they MAKE wrapping paper in tubes and NOT make a suitable storage option,” I’d cry shrilly to anyone willing to listen to me complain about something so mundane. Then, one afternoon my husband called. He sounded exceedingly proud of himself…

“Katie! I’ve got a solution for you!” I then had one of those rare moments of psychic awareness. Dread filled the pit of my stomach. “Please tell me that you did not just cut the ends off of the rolls of paper!” Silence on the other end of the line.”But they fit in the container now!” How could he not understand?! One does not simply destroy rolls of wrapping paper to make them fit into storage containers!

Jim's "solution."

Jim’s “solution.” Really Jim? Really?

It does not matter if the paper was bought at a hefty discount or that big chunks of it get tossed during the wrapping process anyway. It was the PRINCIPLE of the thing. Katie vs. The Man. The Man wasn’t going to get away with this! But. The Man did. After nearly crying over my massacred rolls of paper, Hubs went out and very sweetly purchased a laundry hamper to use for storage, but it wasn’t the same. It had no top. It was not impervious to basement-ness. I never did bring the paper down to the basement to store, for fear of humidity… (Also laziness. That would have been heavy. We have a lot of paper.) I stared at it spitefully in the corner of the guest room all year long.

The laundry hamper of disappointment.

And then it happened. THE MIRACLE! This year I was out Christmas shopping. I couldn’t find what I was looking for (an ornament shaped like a camera, if you must know) so I was store hopping. I stopped in a K-Mart. I rarely ever shop at K-Mart, unless I can’t find things other places. It’s kind of out of the way, and the lighting is bad. I like a brightly lit store. Sue me. It was at this moment that the SUN broke through the ceiling of that dingy K-Mart aisle. The Cherubim and the Seraphim joined their voices into the most beautiful rendition of Handel’s Messiah that has ever been heard by earthly ears:

Hallelujah!

Hallelujah!

Hallelujah! (Look! THE PAPER FITS!)

Hallelujah! (Look! THE PAPER FITS!)

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! (I was so excited, I bought two!)

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! (I was so excited, I bought two!)

HALLELUJAH!!! And then we had the merriest of Christmases.

HALLELUJAH!!! And then we had the merriest of Christmases.

Miracles don’t always have to be healing the sick and raising the dead, people! Sometimes they appear in the form of molded plastic. May you all have a MIRACULOUS Christmas! (And if you do not celebrate Christmas, may you enjoy your respective holidays! Or, at the very least, the day off work for no good reason!)

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Dec 12

Haul Out The Holly: A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Contemporary Fiction, Family, Friendship, Humor 16

Ho ho ho, my little Bookworms! (I know not all of you celebrate Christmas, so on behalf of humanity, I apologize for you having to deal with this craziness every December. However… Saying “ho ho ho” is humorous on a number of levels, so I’m standing by my greeting.)

I’ve mentioned before that I love Fannie Flagg. It’s sort of a guilty pleasure thing, because I am fully aware that her novels aren’t highbrow literary fanciness. That said, they offer warm fuzzy feelings I haven’t found in anyone else’s work. Plus, southern charm is so darn whimsical, I can’t help myself. Soooo, when I saw that Fannie Flagg wrote a Christmas novel, I was all over it.

The book in question is called A Redbird Christmas. There’s this middle aged man who lives in Chicago. He’s told by his doctor he’s basically going to die because his lungs suck and his innards are broken and that he needs to move someplace warm so he doesn’t die like today. The guy’s name is Oswald. It’s Oswald because that name was the next on the list at the orphanage where he was deposited as a baby in a basket inexplicably containing a can of Campbell’s soup. Because the nuns had a sense of humor, they named him Oswald Campbell. (I just looked it up- there IS in fact a Saint Oswald. I was about to complain about a Catholic orphanage having a list of baby names that weren’t saints, but there are a LOT of saints… Even an Oswald, apparently.)

redbird christmas

Anyway, Oswald is given this random brochure for a health resort in Lost River, Alabama. Sadly, the health resort no longer exists, but he’s given reasonable room and board by one of the residents, so he decides to make the move. In typical Flagg fashion, there is a lot of southern cuteness to be had in this novel. There are neurotic old women who dye their hair crazy colors. The town’s mail is all delivered via boat since all the homes are located on piers along the river. The town’s only grocery store is run by an eccentric man who allows a crippled cardinal free reign over his store. (This part made me cringe a little. I don’t care how many tricks you can teach a bird, there is no teaching a bird not to poop on the produce. Not cool.)

One day a little girl shows up. There are people who live “back in the woods” who are basically transient and terrible at taking care of their children. (No “trailer trash” stereotypes here or anything. Oh, wait…) The little girl in question is named Patsy. She’s been abandoned by her father and stuck with a stepmother who doesn’t want her. She’s got a birth defect that causes a pronounced limp, and her sweet vulnerable little girlness charms the whole darn town. When the stepmother decides to skip town and doesn’t want to take Patsy, Frances (one of Lost River’s most prominent ladies) jumps at the opportunity to raise the little girl. Patsy, no surprise, bonds with Jack (the bird) and sweet loveliness ensues.

Frances takes Patsy to a doctor to see about getting her leg fixed- it’ll require an expensive series of surgeries and a lot of emotional support. The town really bands together to raise the money to help Patsy, but nobody can get through to the little girl like that darn bird. Unfortunately, birds don’t have a super long life expectancy. So… Well, I’m not going to get into all the spoilers. If you’re even remotely interested in this sort of word candy, I don’t want to ruin it for you. (Be sure to floss! Novels this level of sweetness are sure to cause cavities.)

red-cardinal-md

Hi! I’m Jack. I’m the Redbird of Happiness! (And feces)

To be quite honest, this wasn’t my favorite Fannie Flagg offering. I didn’t get wrapped up in the lives of the characters the way I did in some of her other books. Since I wasn’t expecting it to be the greatest book I’d ever read, and it still warmed my snarky little heart, I’ll say it was alright. It won’t stick with you, but it won’t make you want to gouge your eyes out either. Probably. Unless you really hate birds, Alabama, Christmas, and sugar. Then don’t read this at all. Not even a word of it. If you’re interested in a holiday read that’s sweeter than southern style sweet tea (seriously, you might get diabetes from this novel) give this a shot (of insulin. Oooooh I’m punny today!)

Do any of you Bookworms out there have a favorite holiday read? I’d love to add to my seasonal reading collection!

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Dec 04

Top Ten Tuesday: Santa Baby

Blogging, Classics, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Top Ten Tuesday, Young Adult Fiction 33

Hello Bookworms! It’s Tuesday again, and thus time for another Top Ten list! Thanks to the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish, I shall never again have writer’s block on a Tuesday! Without further ado:

toptentuesday

The Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Getting From Santa

1. Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher. I know it seems like I’m always saying “Sounds good, I’ll add it to my list!” Sometimes I actually listen to people! Lauren over at Filing Jointly…Finally has recommended this book to me… twice. Sure, she once dug a shallow grave for a bird using a sterling silver spoon… I still trust her judgement on books.

2. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I love historical fiction, and I’m particularly enthralled by the Tudors. It’s pretty rare that historical fiction gets such great reviews, so I’m pretty stoked to check this out.

3. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. It’s a continuation of the Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn saga. I want to go to there.

4. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. I’m currently on super secret nerd probation until I read these books. New Year’s resolution, methinks.

5. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. This is a classic and I haven’t read it. For this I am ashamed.

book-stack

6. Matched by Allie Conde. Truth be told, YA isn’t typically my cup of tea. I read it from time to time, but my adoration is nothing compared to the YA book blogging community. However, Karen at Sassymonkey Reads recommended it to me after seeing my commentary on THE PILLS in The Giver series. Look at me, taking advice again!

7. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. This is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for like 7 years. I always give it careful consideration and then pick a different book. 2013 will be the year! (Maybe.)

8. Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue. My readers are awesome, have I mentioned that? Turns out one of  them went to school with Emma Donoghue- how crazy is that?! She’s a blogger too! She lives on the internet HERE and she thinks Slammerkin rocks. It’s like 6 degrees from Kevin Bacon. Only with Emma Donoghue. And bacon. Let’s throw that in there because it’s tasty.

9. River God by Wilbur Smith. My very dearest friend from childhood has promised me, and I quote, “literary orgasm.” From this book. Why do I trust her? I don’t know, really. She once screwed up my home highlights so badly that we had to go back to the drugstore at 2 am to get a second box of hair dye… She introduced me to Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett way too young, but dagnabit, she’s got good taste in books. River God is historical fiction, so odds are good that I’ll like it.

10. Santa, baby, what I really want… Are gift cards. Amazon, if you please. My kindle and I keep charging things to my credit card. It would be nice if that stopped, at least for a little while.

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