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Notes from the Pond

2011 in review–Thank You for Your Support

A 2 train entering the West Farms Square/East ...

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When I started this blog I didn’t know where it would take me but I knew the writer in me had to get out. It has been fun making new friends and keeping in touch with long trusted friends through this forum. I thank you for indulging me in my passions and putting up with my occasional rants.

I recently wrote my 120th post. My mother asks me where I get all my ideas and my answer to her is, “When have you known me to not have an opinion on things?” When I sit down to write, my goal is to educate and entertain. I hope, along the way, I have caused you to think or see the world a little differently. I know I have angered some of you at times and I apologize for that but my hope is that through an exchange of ideas we will find the answers together.

It has been great fun blogging with WordPress and I highly recommend their format to any future bloggers. They have an easy to navigate template and the finished product is professional looking and one to be proud of. I encourage my readers to start your own blog and we can create our own network of linked blogs and expand our readership.

You never know who is reading your blog as I found out when the head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan, left me a message on my bulletin board. Thank you Coach Ryan. As a year-end wrap up the people of WordPress prepared a summary of each of our blogs and I have chosen to share the results with my readers. I was shocked to see that my readers have come from all around the world. Click on the link below to see the number of countries represented and other statistics.

If everyone on the New York City subway were reading my blog it would take four trips to carry everyone. When I think of it in those terms it makes me excited, proud, and a little nervous.

For better or worse, this blogger is here to stay and I have a lot more to say in 2012. Stay tuned!

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,200 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

‘Elf on the Shelf’ a holiday hit

As I wrote recently, the Elf on the Shelf has become a popular tradition with many young families–even though my niece’s four yeal old son had his misadventure concerning one. (See Elf on the Shelf Causes Chaos.)

According to the myth, an elf must be named before he receives his magic powers. I am proud to say that my sister’s great grandchild named her elf, Sheila. Not sure why she chose that name since I have had very limited contact with the child but, nevertheless, I think she chose an excellent name.

Here is the story of how the elf legend was born and how an enterprising family refused to take “no” for an answer. It turns out they knew more than the many fancy publishers who turned them down. After selling more than 2.5 million, this mother-daughter team now gets the last laugh.

‘Elf on the Shelf’ a holiday hit.

Christmas Eve is Mysterious, Magical, and Majestic

Christmas creeps up on us gradually, gains momentum, and ends with the most glorious message of all.

It begins very subtly. You may see a clerk unpacking angels in August. By Labor Day a few candles and wreaths might be spotted in the back of the store. Before Halloween some of the Christmas displays are already vying for your attention next to the pumpkins and screeching ghosts in the big box discount stores. Thanksgiving is almost nonexistent with the brilliantly lit trees and ho-ho-hoing Santas pushing Tom Turkey out of the picture.

The day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday as the merchants are now calling it, opens the Christmas season with a bang. The race is on! Retailers are fighting to see who can get the first shopping dollars by opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving Day. Shoppers begin a marathon of shopping that will last for the next four weeks. In between mad dashes to the mall, people are sandwiching in holiday parties, cleaning and decorating the house, baking traditional cookies and candies, attending concerts, and wrapping packages. In addition, many are preparing for trips to be with family.

The whole month of December is a huge whirlwind. That is why Christmas Eve is my favorite night of the year. It is the moment we stop and remember what all the hectic activity is all about. All the work is done (if not, then just leave it and try better next year). The decorations are completed, the baking done, the gifts wrapped and under the tree. I enjoy the stillness of the night. The world feels at peace waiting in anticipation for the joyful gatherings of the next day. It is also a time to stop the madness and remember what the season is all about.

It is the birth of a pure and innocent child who would one day bring hope and light to a weary world. It is the time to sing Joy to the World for the Lord is come with joyful hearts. It is a time of lights and enlightenment. It is a time of family, friends, and love. It is a time to reflect in prayerful meditation the birth of our Lord.

The power of this night even stopped a war. In 1914, during World War I, the German troops put out a few Christmas trees decorated with candles and began singing Christmas carols. The British echoed the carols in their own language. Then the two sides began putting out signs saying they would stop shooting if the other side would. Word spread up and down the front lines and gradually the two sides ventured out from their trenches. They met in the middle and exchanged gifts of food, tobacco, and alcohol. The first order of business was to bury the dead then they got together and passed Christmas day playing football.

When the commanding officers heard of the impromptu truce they ordered the troops to begin shooting. Although the truce was short lived it all began because of the birth of a small child one Silent and Holy Night. A child who was sent by God with the power to perform miracles—even the miracle to end wars.

Christmas Eve is the night of mystery and magic, love and laughter, peace and prayer. My wish for you, my friend, is that you may feel the majesty of the night and carry that with you throughout the coming year.

 

The Nutcracker provides a magical time

I have seen The Nutcracker about three or four times and am always entranced by its magic. I never grow tired of Tchaikovsky’s music and dancing ballerinas twirling in yards of tulle. However, the performance I saw this weekend held a special magic because I attended it with my granddaughter, Allison.

We dressed up for an afternoon at the theater. She wore a blue dress overlaid with a black lace and painted her nails silver for the occasion. She even took time to straighten her thick curly hair—which style she prefers over her sometimes unruly curls.

We had a lunch of hot chocolate and donuts before the show. OK, I know that is not the healthiest lunch but it sure was tasty. Her mother is in charge of the nutrition department, I’m head of sweet treats. Her hot chocolate and my cappuccino were too hot for us to finish before the show so we left them in the car and enjoyed them cold when we returned.

Allison is a serious ballet student and this gave her an opportunity to see a full performance rather than the short snippets done at her recitals. Before the performance began we read the synopsis of Act I in the program so we would understand what was happening on stage. We then reviewed Act II during intermission.

Each time I see The Nutcracker I find something new and fresh. Many generations have loved The Nutcracker since it was first performed December 18, 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia. However, the original production was not a success and received only mediocre reviews. It was not until around the 1950’s did it gain popularity in this country. The first complete performance outside Russia occurred in England in 1934 and annual performances have continued since 1952. The New York City Ballet first performed it in 1954.

 Herr Drosselmeyer’s magic tricks on stage set the tone for a truly magical afternoon. The dancers twirled and pirouetted, weaving another moment to remember with my granddaughter.

Elf on the Shelf Causes Chaos

How does Santa keep track of all those children and know who has been naughty or nice? Which girls and boys deserve the latest, hottest toys? Or, which ones missed their goal and will receive only coal in their stockings? Santa’s special agent, the elf on the shelf, is the answer.

My niece’s family adopted one of these special elves to watch over her four year old son until Christmas. The elf hides in various spots around the house and then magically flies to the North Pole each night to report to the big guy. However, caution must be taken around the elves and the only rule is that they must never be touched or they will lose their magic. Each elf comes with this instruction–“There’s only one rule that you have to follow so I will come back and be here tomorrow: Please do not touch me. My magic might go, and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know.”

Armed with this information young Aidan has been on his best behavior since Thanksgiving. That is, until this week. Oh yes, he was swayed by some of his preschool buddies and fell over to the naughty side. It seems he and several other boys were being typical ornery boys and were rough-housing in the bathroom. When his mother arrived at the school to pick him up the teacher said she needed to talk with her. As she disappeared into the conference room his face fell from a big grin to absolute desolation. He was BUSTED!

On the ride home he perked up and decided he wasn’t in trouble after all because the incident happened away from home where the elf couldn’t see what he had done. But when his mother reminded him that the elf was magical and knew everything, then his mood turned to real fear. He worried and fretted about what would happen.

The next morning his mother, forgetting the events of the day before, decided it was a good time to go see Santa. Nope, he didn’t want to see Santa. He wasn’t going! He drug his feet and pouted because he knew he was really in trouble now. Santa knew everything! How could he face Santa after what he had done? Once his mother figured out why he didn’t want to see Santa she had to do some fast thinking to convince him it would be alright. She told him that this Santa they were going to see wasn’t the real Santa but his brother. OK then, that made all the difference.

We adults think we are home free and don’t have to worry about an elf on the shelf spying on us but we are wrong. We actually carry that little elf on our shoulder—it is called a conscience.

Happy Holidays!

 

Aidan making up with Santa

 

http://elfontheshelf.com/Home.aspx

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&list=PL0AE14815201C29B0&v=FvmOKx5-wDw