Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How Not to Re-gift

This Christmas I experienced a new gift situation. Names have been changed to protect the innoncent. In the world of Christmas whirlwinds of gift giving, we all find ourselves in situations of some acquaintances that we don't know what to give to or how much to spend and sometimes the awkward moment when someone gives you something and you didn't get them anything. Person A and I exchanged gifts before Christmas but did not open them in front of each other.

When I saw Person A after Christmas, he thanked me for the book. I said, "Um, there was more than a book." I had bought him a gift card and wrapped it in red Christmas wrapping paper and put it in the middle of the book. The book was a small one with jokes in it and I thought for sure even if he just flipped through it that he would see it.

That was when Person A had to come clean. "Well, I saw 'Person B' and I thought he would like the book and so I gave it to him." I was not upset nor sad. Person A is normally a self-centered person and I actually had to refrain from laughing out loud.

After a while, he asked me what the gift card was for. I knew it was a place he liked. It was at this point that I could have told him it was for twice the amount too, but I didn't.

As we thought about the incident, we realized that there would be a chance that Person B would re-gift the book to a Person C who would also enjoy the book. Who would actually end up with the gift card?

Person A knew that I would see Person B before him and asked if I could ask him if he found the gift card. Well, I was a little uncomfortable but with the help of another friend, we asked him. Person B had the biggest laugh over it. Yes, he had found the gift card and he thought it might be a mistake. It was not a gift card that he would have used anyways, but he plans on having fun teasing Person A about this.

So, this Christmas, I've seen a new gift giving scenario--the re-gifting/Indian giver. I think I will laugh about this for years to come.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Baby Jesus Finds his way to our home for Christmas

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Back in April 2010 I posted about the creche that my husband bought at a tag sale from acquaintences. It was a beautiful set. Each piece was wrapped in newpaper or plastic. My husband took out several pieces, but not all. When he got home I took it all out and found there was no baby Jesus. What good is a creche without Jesus? I see the person often who sold us the creche and when I told him the dilemna, he said it was sold "As is." This displeased me coming from someone I've known for years. This summer I got tired of the box hanging around and told George that we should just donate it to Goodwill. He asked, "So someone else can be disappointed?". I said that we would label it, "No Jesus." For some reason we held onto it. Well, my son decided unbeknownst to me to go on a quest. He figured somewhere there had to be someone who had an extra baby Jesus from a creche that they didn't have any more and that they probably couldn't throw it away, but donated it to some kind of thrift store or consignment shop or antique store. Lo and behold, he found one. On Christmas Eve he gave me it as a present. When I opened it, I was so surprised and asked, "How did you?" I wanted to make sure that it wasn't illegally gained (not that he would do that) and that some other family was not going without Jesus. I told him how close we were to getting rid of the creche. We got it out of the box. He was afraid that the baby would be too big for the set. On the contrary, as you can see from the pictures, not only is the size correct, it is amazing how Mary's hand reaches down and touches the cradle just right. So, Ben brought the baby Jesus to our house this Christmas--the perfect gift originally from our Father in Heaven and symbolically from my son to us.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Professor Hale's Christmas Tale

I've invented a character named Professor Hale. I have put him in various unusal situations that one day I would like to publish into a children's book. The situations are silly and fun, but for this Christmas I wrote this more serious tale and I thought I would share it here with you. Merry Christmas!

After shoveling the snow on a cold winter’s day

Professor Hale sat in his chair nodding away.

Visions and dreams paraded through his head

Until he woke suddenly with a feeling of dread.

The place in the future was familiar and yet again not,

He had to share with us all, before he forgot.

We gathered around the Christmas tree aglow

As he told us of his dream on that cold night of snow.

“I walked the streets of a city lined with colored lights.

Decorations on either side shone bold and bright.

‘Ho, ho, ho. Happy Holiday!’ Santa shouted to all

As people rushed by him to get to the mall.

Pushing and shoving, shouting, ‘Get out of my way!’

They fought for the bargains on sale that day.

All were not rude, some wished ‘Season’s Greetings to

        you tonight.’

But something was wrong. Something was just not right.

An uneasy feeling came over me from head to toe

I asked a man, ‘What is today? Do you know?’

He looked at me strange and as he walked away, said,

‘December 24th, Holiday Eve. Have you lost your head?’

A chill ran up my spine.

I rushed through the streets looking for a sign.

I searched for a church, yes that would do

But the church marque said, ‘Happy Holiday’ too.

I ran to another as someone was going in

‘The holiday eve service is about to begin.’

What about Christ, it’s the eve of His birth?

‘Shh…we don’t want to offend in this season of mirth.’

I nearly fell backwards as the words echoed in my head,

No Christ in Christmas. It was as if He were dead.

I climbed to the top of the stairs and turned to the crowd.

‘Merry Christmas!’ I shouted and then again quite loud.

People stopped, ‘What did he say?’

Some glared, some stared, some walked away.

‘Merry Christmas!’ again I loudly proclaimed.

‘You bigot!’ ‘How rude!’ ‘You should be ashamed!’

If I’ve offended, I have not meant to

But please keep Christ in Christmas,

     it’s the least you can do.

They pelted me hard with balls of snow.

A kindly woman led me away, ‘Come. Let’s go.’

I said, ‘How can they be this way?

Christmas was ours and they took it away.’

She led me to an alley and others were there

Singing songs of Jesus and wise men’s gifts to share.

My dream ended then but I see the truth today

Little by little Christmas is being chipped away.

You can bow to the crowds, not to offend

Or stand up for Christmas and chose to defend.

So, my friends my advice to you this day,

Don’t give in to the crowds as they lead you their way.

They will continue to chisel away at Christmas, I know.

Have faith and in love let your feelings show.

With sincere wishes, I am happy I can say,

I wish you all a very

Merry Christmas Day!”

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The wrong way to stimulate the economy

It appears the state of things has forced the public into their own way to stimulate the economy. We are approaching the season of giving and/or greed. I heard that unfortunately, while people were out shopping for the black Friday sales, houses were being robbed.

Most likely the thieves will re-sell these items benefiting themselves and the people they sell them to for a bargain. Those being robbed, if insured and over the deductible, will report it to their insurance company and then go out and buy replacements, thus helping the economy.

I hope no one will take this seriously. It is a personal violation to have your home invaded. The more insurance claims, the higher rates will go. This is not even taking into consideration it is ethically, morally and legally wrong. Just somehow I feel our world is heading more and more in that direction.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

Yesterday on Thanksgiving eve at work, many customers wished me a Happy Thanksgiving. Sometimes they said it first, other times out of obligation, I said it first. Due to the busy-ness of the day and other events, I wasn't really in the mood to offer happy wishes.

As Murphy's Law would have it, I wished someone a happy Thanksgiving and as soon as the words were out of my mouth, she could tell that I was floundering for what else to say under the conditions. She graciously rescued me and said, "Yes, it's going to be a tough couple of months but I'm trying to get through. I'm working tomorrow." She had tragically lost her teenage son a few months ago.

The last customer of the day had lost the love of his life last year. They had a love so strong and visible. I saw it every time they came in together. She was much younger, and he never expected her to go first. He still honors her memory every day.  He is coping but he misses her dearly.

This puts it all in prospective. As most of us are running around cleaning, cooking and preparing to sit at our annual feast, the holiday just makes the lonely more lonely, the ungrateful more ungrateful and the hurt, hurt more. My mother knows pain around the holidays. She has always tried to emphasize, knowing that pain will come at times, 'It's just another day of the year.'

We can still celebrate but in reality, we should be celebrating and thankful every day. We never know what holiday will be our last or even what day. Let your words that are spoken leave you with no regrets. Let your actions echo what words can't say. Greatest of all, be thankful to God every day for the blessings. Treasure friends and family and your own precious life.

May not only your Thanksgiving be blessed but tomorrow and the next day and the next.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Honoring Veterans














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Some pictures from the Veteran's Day Parade in Hartford, CT last Sunday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Postal Stamp Change

I just learned that the Post Office has decided to change it rules in regards to who is on a stamp. Previously the rule was someone had to be dead ten years before they could be on a US stamp except for a president who would be honored the year after his death. In recent years it was reduced to someone being dead for five years. Also, a few years ago they allowed a couple of websites to let you put your own pictures or photos on postal stamps for an additional fee. You could put anyone or anything on these. I have seen some of these come through the mail and they are fun to see. I am fine with all this. Well, next year a new law goes into effect. They are dropping the dead requirement on the stamps issued by the postal service. I am sad about this decision. Have they run out of dead people to honor? Surely there are some worthy ones they missed. I am concerned about this becoming a political issue. I don't know how they will determine who is worthy of this honor. If they choose sports figures or actors/actresses, or heaven forbid, politicians, how are they ever going to determine who deserves to be on a stamp? Working with the living is surely going to disappoint some people who think they should be on a stamp or fans of the people who want their favorite idol. There are only so many stamps issued each year. I am going to be very curious to see who will be the first living person to be on a stamp. The other problem with putting a living person on a stamp, is people are human. How many times have celebrities turned out to be not what they seemed to be? I'm not naming names, but I can think of three off the top of my head who were top in their field but have later been discovered to have major skeletons in their closet. If the person were dead, we would not have to worry about skeletons turning up later. I wonder what brought this all about. Maybe I just don't like change. Maybe I just like tradition. It doesn't get my stamp of approval, but my opinion doesn't matter and unless I pay extra, I will never be on a stamp, so I guess I shouldn't care. I do enjoy the variety of stamps that are issued each year. I have my favorites that I like to use on my mail...not just the generic ones. I like the variety and I guess now this will expand the variety. Who knows, maybe one of my favorite living persons will be on a stamp now. It will be interesting. I need to say that the thoughts expressed here are my own and in no way are representative of the Postal Service. These are my personal opinions.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Last Sunday...the one blessiing



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This is the road I live on and how it looked last Sunday. The blessing is that it was not a work day for me. My boss would not take this as an excuse.

October 2011 Snow Storm Alfred





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One Week Ago

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One week ago. Thankfully, it seems longer ago than that. No power from Sunday afternoon through Thursday afternoon. I am done playing Pioneers. I am done sitting in the dark listening to one channel on the radio. I am done playing Abe Lincoln trying to read by fireplace light or thanks to Edison (and Conrad Hubert), by flashlight. I am done sleeping in the living room with layers of clothes and blankets to try and keep warm. Done cooking on a Sterno stove. Done flushing toilets sparingly by pouring water in the bowl. Done sponge bathing and trying to wash my hair. At work, done sorting the mail in the cold and trying to read the addresses by the light of day from the windows or by flashlight. Done calculating prices manually and putting stamps on all pieces instead of meter strips. Done using my cell phone to stay in contact with management. Done shoveling the walkway and now I have to order a new shovel because it broke! On Tuesday it was our 36th wedding anniversary. The fireplace and candlelit dinners had lost all romanticism. I not sure I will ever feel that way about them again. At times during this ordeal, I thought I would actually welcome a call from a telemarketer. That would mean that my phone was working and that I had contact again with civilization. I missed seeing how other people were faring via Facebook and emails, though, it was comforting, in a selfish way, to know that most everyone I knew was in the same boat. On Wednesday evening, we came home from a nice meal lovingly prepared at the Parish Hall in East Hartland for the public left in the dark and cold. As we drove home, in separate cars, I cannot tell the joy we felt as we saw house after house lit up. We were elated that our power must be on. We saw outside garage lights, bright lights in living rooms and even TV's on. Oh, joy! Then five houses before our house were all dark except for the one we knew had a generator. As we pulled in our driveway to our dark, cold house, we realized all those people had generators or powerful alternative sources of light. I could have almost cried as we prepared for another cold night with an inefficient fireplace and dealing with the smokey smell, which still seems to be lingering. I had Thursday and Friday off as we were thinking of getting away for a mini vacation--not! First, where would we find a motel available within 200 miles? Secondly, I could never have a good time knowing that I would come back to dishes needing to be washed, clothes to be laundered, much dusting and wiping to get the smokey smell off of everything. Also, the sad task of cleaning out the two refrigerators and their freezers and sadly disposing of food. That was a heartbreak for the waste. Our insurance company was very nice when we filed a claim. It was done over the phone with no proof necessary and no deductible applied. That helps a little. Then we had to shop for the basics from milk to margarine, eggs and meat. There was no way I could go away and relax with all that to be done. On top of all that, the darkness at night and the cold, made me useless in the evening. I didn't take care of bills to be paid or other things that I could have done by candlelight. The lack of energy in the house equaled the lack of energy in my body. We were just drained. Early Thursday afternoon we were standing in the kitchen and we both looked at each other as we thought we heard a distant ringing. George has tinnitus, so he wasn't sure and asked if I heard something that sounded like a phone. We heard it again and I said, "Phone!" and ran to the bedroom. The kitchen had a cordless which won't work without electricity, but we have a non-cordless in the bedroom. I ran and got there in time to talk via this wonderful invention. It was a salesman, of course. It was actually a solicited one from a home show. I explained our situation and said that we could not even think about anything else at this time. After the phone came back, we got the electricity back in a few more hours. I danced the jig that I promised George that I would dance when it happened. Since then, I've been playing catch up and cleaning. We are also checking into alternative heating sources. Generators scare me and sound kind of like a hassle. We were thinking of a pellet stove, but silly us, we did not know that you need electricity to use them. I used kerosene one year and I swear it made me groggy. Both George and I had the best night of sleep that we could remember that night back in our own comfortable, cozy, warm bed. We woke so refreshed and rested...finally. Well, a week later and about eighteen inches of snow have melted. There are even spots of bare ground where you can see the leaves that didn't get raked. Many trees are still holding on to their rusty and gold colored leaves. We were fortunate for no damage to our trees or property. Unlike the power company or state, whoever is at fault, this summer, George took down a ton of branches and trees that were weak or in danger of causing us damage. So, all is almost back to normal. I just wish everyone in that state had their power back. With all the crews that were supposedly working all this time, that makes more to focus on the remaining customers and therefore, should have them back by the promised deadline of tonight. Note: I did write this with paragraph breaks. I have no clue why they didn't take. My apologies to the reader.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Keebler Elves Missing!

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I have bad news. I took this picture last week. Either the Keebler Elves are being held captive or maybe they've closed up shop and went south for the winter. What will we do?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Neither rain, nor sleet, but....Thomas J Hooker Parade

Final pictures of Hartford and the Thomas J Hooker Parade. Note that the post office delivers under all kind of weather and conditions, but not when there's a parade blocking the route. The mailman got to take a break and take pictures of the parade as it passed by.











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The Most Unique Band!

At the Thomas J. Hooker Parade we thoroughly enjoyed the Joseph A. Ferko String Band, Philadelphia Mummers. Not only were they colorful, talented and entertaining but played instruments we never saw before in a marching band. So much fun!

















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