Author Archives: ramblingsfromtheleft

About ramblingsfromtheleft

I am unpublished and optimistically waiting for that one magic moment.

Once more with gusto …

we come to another Christmas.

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Maxine Credit

I have posted my own stories of holiday cheer every year since December of 2009. But for one lone New Year greeting in December of 2010, you will never find December posts in my archives.

I delete them.

I store them in documents  and most of them will never be republished. Like trees and villages, decorations and wreaths, Christmas posts change every year.

Each Holiday season challenges me to bring you something new about me and my love of this time of year.

This year, I did not wax poetic with stories about the Middle One or the Big Guy; of the brother who always arrived at the last minute with arms filled with presents, until the year he did not; of the brother who makes Christmas in his heart all the year-long; of my father and his comical short-comings, odd Italian accent or his obsession with all things Christmas; of my mother, the mortar that held the bricks together; of her hard work ethic and her gentle touch.

This year I did not recount our less-than-Norman-Rockwell picture-perfect life.

And like so many of the wonders of my childhood home and my City Scapes, I miss them. I miss Christmas from December 26th until the next crazed Black Friday.

The challenge this season was to make four lists.

First, it was a bucket list. Second, a list of ten things I am thankful for. Third, a list of presents given and received.

Today, the fourth edition is the lists of sights and sounds for you to enjoy during my protracted winter break.

For each of you the sights and sounds of the Holiday season will be different, so please feel free to add as we move along.

Places to see in The City…

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These were: Sixth Avenue, Macy’s, Radio City Music Hall, the UN and Rockefeller Plaza, the Big Tree and the Herald Angels

 

Houses in Brooklyn dressed for the Holidays …

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There are thousands of beautiful displays in Brooklyn and the outer-boroughs. I have personally visited more than once. The last has been a must see for over twenty years. Several of these houses have their own Santa and rides for children, and two of them collect donations to cover the thousands of dollars in electricity they generate. People are very generous and the owners donate the excess to a local home for children.

Movies to enjoy …

I bet you each have a favorite. I could list more than a dozen, but will instead pick three from my personal top ten.

No. Three

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

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For the memory and for the Misfit Toys. I watched this with my two kids the first year it was broadcast.

No. Two

White Christmas

White Christmas

I saw this at the Radio City Music Hall with my Christmas Angels and a horde of ten rowdy kids. It debuted in 1954 and stared Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen.

No. One

It’s a Wonderful Life

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Every time a bell rings, an angel gets her wings. My all time favorite classic, with James Stewart and Donna Reed and a cast of great supporting actors. I never tire of this time-worn tale of good-wins-all. Ring-a-ding-a-ling.

Holiday music to fill you with glee …

I love dozens and dozens of Holiday  music. I find it impossible to narrow it down to ten, but here goes.

No. Ten

 I’ll be Home for Christmas … Elvis Presley

This song is for the Middle One

No. Nine

The Carol of the Bells

Short and sweet, I don’t know which choir did this version but it is dedicated to all the kids in our family.

 No. Eight

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year by Andy Williams

For everyone who loves this time of year as much as I do.

 No. Seven

The Christmas Waltz by Frank Sinatra

Just because … it’s that time of year the world falls in love.

No. Six

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland

For all those I won’t see this year

 No. Five

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Perry Como

For the Big Guy

No. Four

Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms

For me … just because it’s such fun.

 No. Three

 Rocking around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee

For my mother who was crazy about Brenda Lee. Gotta admit, Brenda was over the top with everything she sang.

 No. Two

There’s No Place Like Home … Perry Como

This one is my dad, the original home-body.

 No. One

The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

This one is always and only for me. Nat King Cole and his velvet voice can never be duplicated and each time I hear this song, it takes me back to everything I love about Christmas.

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Well there you have it, my fourth and last “list” post for 2014.

As I prepare to close shop, I anxiously await the arrival of my daughter, her husband, and the latest addition to our family, my granddaughter.

They arrive in exactly seven days … and this gal is one happy wreck.

No matter how you celebrate this season, it remains for most of the world’s population, the season of lights. The lights on your tree, the lights of the menorah, the lights of cities in far off lands, the lights in the heavens that guide us to another new year.

Find your personal joy and grasp the gold ring life offers. You don’t need the month of November to challenge yourself as a writer. You don’t need to flip the calendar to challenge yourself to a fresh start with the rest of your life.

All you really need is your own good company, you with yourself, you as your best friend, you as the maker of your own destiny.

Have a Blessed Holiday.

 

Tell me true …

What one place do you love to see this time of year?

Do you have one favorite Holiday movie or Holiday song?

fOIS In The City

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To gift or not to gift …

 

That is not the question.

The eternal question is what is the perfect gift, the best gift, that one special thing you can do, make or buy?

Last week we were thankful for breaking bread and stuffing a bird to share with family and friends. And the very next day … all hell exploded.

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 Black Friday Madness

However,Black Friday now begin on Brown Thursday. It wasn’t bad enough you had to share your day with football or that you were not excited about having another of Aunt Gertrude’s famous Three Bean Salad … now you are expected to share the day with your local retailer.

People actually rushed out of the comfort of their happy little homes to hone in on the bargain of the week … the best sale ever … the prequel to the hottest day to rub elbows and toes with a thousand and one shoppers.

Then there’s Cyber Monday … the biggest on-line shopping day … the day that those of us who have on-line shops pray half our Holiday inventory will fly through the internet into the welcoming hands of our customers.

Some very particular Christmas nuts like myself, do not begin our shopping year on Thanksgiving, Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Some actually shop on the best day of the year to grab those great bargains, find the trimmings, decorations and fifty-percent off Hallmark Greeting cards … December 26th.

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It matters not. Whenever you take up the gauntlet, go on the hunt, rummage through shelves in your local stores, there is always one thought in mind …

What do I get and who do I want to get it for?

Some say that it is better to give than receive. Others counter that they can’t wait to tear off the wrappings of their own gifts.

Since I am one who begins her quest for the perfect presents the day after Christmas and ends the madness on Labor Day weekend … I fall into the former. I love to give gifts. I love the process … every last minute of it … from the first time I imagine the person I am looking to buy or make for … to the magical moment they open my gift.

I make lists. I make copious lists with exact information. I separate the lists into people and categories and go so far as to shop for the perfect container, box or bag to place it in.

More than anything I can buy at my local retailer … the best gifts I give are those I make. And I’ve been making Christmas and Birthday presents since second grade.

The more I made, the more I wanted to make. The longer a project took, the more excited I became.

Months to crochet a blanket … weeks of sanding and polishing … layers of varnish or paint … hundreds of papers for decoupage … thousands of yards of material, lace, and trim to sew.

I’ll get back to that in a minute. For now I’d like to list …

The best presents I received …

A pair of solid steel speed skates.

My first and only pair of inside roller skates.

A handmade wooden doll house, complete with many handmade furnishings.

A felt Poodle Skirt.

My own Brownie Hawkeye camera.

Throughout my childhood, my parents and other family members, my husband and children, my good friends and many co-workers gave me hundreds of lovely gifts. So then why are those five gifts the best ones ever? And who gave them to me?

They were the best gifts ever because they were exactly what I wished for and came from the one person in my life who always gave me exactly what I wished for… the Big Guy.

He was the one person in our family, and later with his own family, who listened to kids and gave them what they wanted.

He is twelve years my senior and by second grade, the year I found my handmade doll house, he was nineteen. Yes, at nineteen he had already begun his life-long love of carpentry, of making and creating and building.

Memories are often recalled by a scent … that perfume a woman in the restaurant is wearing might remind you of your favorite aunt … the cologne that wafts from a man’s skin as he approaches could recall your first love or your dad … the aroma of your favorite dish bubbling in the oven or atop the range might remind you of your mother.

For me the scents of raw wood recall the happiest days of my childhood. The sight of him bending over the kitchen table with a chunk of wood, with dozens of parts of something that I knew would transform into a magical something else.

To this day, the scent of raw wood brings me back to the intense look on his face and his hands skillfully moving over the grain.

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The Big Guy-Still at it

Thanks, big brother.

The best gifts I have given …

My favorite is a hook rug I made by hand by using a spool loom and yarn my mother discarded from her crochet or knitting. It took an entire year. The loom rope became so long, my father had to wrap it with twine into a giant ball. When thought I had enough, I began the arduous task of sewing the loom into an oval.

Of course, I was not yet proficient and it bubbled UP. I gave my mother the treasure for Christmas and she very smartly did not “suggest” we redo the sewing until much later. But after she showed me my mistakes, I finished it and it became an oval scatter rug she used for years.

I made coin purses, key chains, loop potholders, embroidered hankies and napkins. I made my own cards and saved all my empty to buy a present for my dad that became family lore.

At eight years of age, I had no clue that my dad was a fashionista … that he would never put his feet into anything other than Florshime shoes, that all his ties were imported handmade silk ties, that he only bought his suits from Brooks Brothers.

I guess I never noticed because the best gift I ever gave my dad was a bright turquoise tie with a gaudy palm tree printed on the front. I suppose I didn’t notice the giggles behind hands, my mother’s face dropping to her lap.

What I did notice was that for years he wore that tie. Even after I knew better and told him he could give it away … he’d shake his head and tell me it was the best tie he ever owned.

I discovered the used book store and bought novels for my middle brother to fuel his insatiable appetite for reading, found old National Geographic and Modern Mechanic magazines for the Big Guy.

I made my mother enough pot holders and dish towels to fill a trunk. But she used every last one.

Another favorite gift to give is a basket filled with delights. I learned to buy the baskets at the Goodwill and line them with fabric, searched for weeks for the right ingredients to complete whatever theme. This love became my first craft business … properly named … The Basket Case.

Starting with those yearly years of watching my big brother, I learned that something I made was always a bit more special than what I might find at our local retailer.

It is the best definition of a “labor of love.”

 

Tell me if you will …

What was the best present you ever received?

The best you ever gave?

fOIS In The City

Maxine.Christmas

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Every day …

… is a new opportunity to be thankful and remember at least one thing that makes it worth rolling out of bed.

Coffee for instance, is a good thing to be thankful for. I mean how many of us would not have the strength to make it out of bed if not for the promise of that first delicious sip of elixir to help us start our day?

 

Thanks.Maxine

 Maxine Graphic

Ever have one of those fantasies as a child where you were accepting an award, won a race or gave a speech? For those of us who write … how many different ways did you write that all-important Acknowledgements’ paragraph at the beginning of your first published novel?

What would happen if that day never came … if you never had the chance to tell everyone in your life that you love and thank them for being there?

Would our life be worth living if we never said thank you?

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Thanks quotes

On Thanksgiving Day… we celebrate with food and good friends … commiserate with family … and take pause to think of those we have loved who are with us in spirit only.

In keeping with my promise to wow you with four weeks of lists, and in the tradition of Letterman … I give you …

Ten reasons I am thankful:

Number ten: I am thankful that I lost all material trappings, not once, but three times and that it has taught me how meaningless those trappings are.

Number nine: I am thankful for growing up in Brooklyn with a crazy Italian family and for being first generation because it taught me tolerance and love for all cultures.

Number eight: I am thankful for every single mistake I have ever made because they taught me I can do better.

Number seven: I am thankful for my friends, past and present, because they are the sign posts that help me find my way.

Number six: I am thankful for my mother and father who molded me into the person I am.

Number five: I am thankful for being the baby and the only girl and for two brothers who were the amalgam of what all men are or should be.

Number four: I am thankful to my middle brother, who I will never stop missing, and who gave me the love of reading.

Number three: I am thankful to the Big Guy who never stops learning and creating and taught me how to find my personal passion.

Number two. I am thankful I was given the gift of voice and I can make a beautiful noise, be it here or in my stories or in the songs I love to sing.

And the number one reason:

I am thankful for the unconditional love I have been given, even when I didn’t think I was worth it.

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Graphic credit

 

We are all worth so much more than we think we are. We have more than we can ever begin to put in ten or ten hundred reasons.

Tomorrow, while you feast on whatever traditional meal you share, with whomever you share it with … take a few moments to remember how much you have to be thankful for. Remember those who are not with those they love, who for whatever reason have no feast or family.

Wherever you are, have a safe and Blessed Thanksgiving Day.

Tell me reader. What are you thankful for?

Do you count your blessings on this day or every day?

fOIS In The City

 

Mazine.Thanks

 

Maxine on Thanksgiving

 

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