December Comes Soon Enough

July 16, 2018 – I know that some people always want what they don’t have, but Christmas in July? I never understood the fascination. Are people so starved to celebrate a holiday after July 4th that they can’t wait until Labor Day? And how can anyone, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, think about Christmas during summer heat?

This strange tradition dates back to July 1933, when girls at a summer camp in North Carolina celebrated with a Christmas tree, gifts and a visit by Santa. Wonder who came up with that idea? Two years later, the National Recreation Association’s journal featured a story about the girls’ celebration and it took off.

Now its reached even the most common places. Turn on QVC, a guilty pleasure for me, and you’ll be given opportunities to buy trees, wreaths, other Christmas decorations and gifts. No thank you! And Hallmark Channel is running nonstop Christmas movies, which I can’t even consider this time of year.

But the biggest push to embrace Christmas in July comes from retailers who use it as a way to promote summer sales. So if you’re doing a little shopping while humming “Deck the Halls” don’t worry if some people look at you strangely. At least you’re helping the economy.

Advertisements

June is Lavender Month

June 4, 2018 – I never had much desire to visit France — I believe I’m more of a fan of the Mediterranean countries, at least when I vacation in my mind — but these gorgeous photos of the French lavender fields make me want to hop a plane now.

With lavender’s ability to sooth nervous tension, relieve pain and help insomnia, the people in this region must be the happiest and most well-rested people on earth. Just looking at them made me smile.

In my region of southeastern Pennsylvania, it’s lavender harvest season, which makes it the perfect time to visit a lavender farm. Two local farms I recommend are Peace Valley Lavender Farm and Carousel Lavender Farm.

Another Lost Art

March 26, 2018 – Cursive handwriting is on the decline and could be in danger of becoming extinct, Many schools have made the decision that cursive handwriting isn’t a necessary skill for the 21st century.

We live in an age where our younger generation is already lost to art of communication due to mobile phones and social media. To take another skill away will limit their communication abilities further. Can you imagine future generations not able to read Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution unless it was printed in a book or online?

As a graduate of Catholic school, the Palmer method of handwriting was ingrained in me at an early age. By second grade, printing gave way to handwriting, and now printing seems so foreign. Sure, I still have the ability to print, but it is my handwriting that is far more legible.

Does the end of cursive handwriting mean that beautifully penned wedding invitations  are on the way out too? That’s just as sad as love letters or letters in general that have succumbed to texting. I keep envisioning Daniel Day-Lewis’ character and those lovely thank you notes he wrote in The Age of Innocence. The calligraphy was almost a character in the movie, and it wouldn’t have been the same if he simply printed his name instead.

What about signatures? How will future adults approve tax forms, loan documents and important other papers that require you to sign your name? Your signature is supposed to be your unique identifier, so a simple X marks the spot won’t due.

Most likely the signature issue will be solved by scanning our retinas to give our approval. That’s even more depressing than the thought of losing the art of cursive handwriting.

Spring!

March 19, 2018 – Spring arrives in the northern hemisphere tomorrow.

For many of us spring signifies longer days, increasing as the season progresses and the temperatures begin to rise.

For the college student, spring means break, whether it’s home to Mom and Dad for a week, or off to a tropical island to celebrate time off.

For the gardener, spring equals rebirth. Seeds are planted in nurturing soil and bloom into colors so vibrant they put rainbows to shame.

For the religious, spring often means the renewal of faith.

For the poet, “A little madness in the spring is wholesome even for the king.” – Emily Dickinson

For the romantic, “Always its spring, and everyone’s in love and flowers pick themselves.” – e.e. cummings

For the literary, “Spring drew on . . . and a greenness grew over those garden beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

For the music lover, spring is Vivaldi.

And for the baseball fan, spring is the happiest season of all. Opening day is 13 days away…Go Phillies!

A Little Sap with My Cheese

November 20, 2017 – I’m a reasonably intelligent person. I’ve read some of the classics, enjoy films with subtitles and stay up-to-date on current events. I also engage in the occasional political debate and can hold my own. My math and science skills may not be Nobel Prize ready, but no one expects me to create the next Facebook or cure cancer, so I get by.

That being said, forgive me for what I’m about to reveal. I love Christmas movies. I can’t get enough of those sugary sweet, sentimental stories that bring tears to my eyes and a smile to my face.

Try not to roll your eyes too much. I realize these movies are as far removed from reality as they are from receiving an Oscar nomination. They’re predictable and cheesy because every Christmas movie follows the same formula: someone struggles with something big, then the Christmas magic happens and suddenly it’s a wonderful life.

That syrupy schmaltzy formula is exactly why I watch them. I enjoy when the town folk pitch in to help each other, or when that lonely single mom lands her dream man. I cheer when the orphaned children are adopted on Christmas Eve. And I get giddy when the small town is saved from the big bad corporation that wants to take over.

Watching these movies makes me hope for my own Christmas magic. Then by December 26, I come to my senses and realize I‘m happy to be back to normal again.

As someone who typically appreciates movies with artistic value – at least during the other 11 months of the year, I ask that you allow me this guilty pleasure. And know that if I’m not busy with holiday celebrations or with the chores of daily life, I’m sitting next to my tree with a box of tissues waiting for the magic to begin.

Ghosts

October 31, 2017 – A recent CBS poll states that 48 percent of Americans say they believe in ghosts. So, if there are such things as ghosts, there must be haunted houses. After all, ghosts have to live/haunt somewhere.

If you’re among the 52 percent who believe ghosts are a bunch of hogwash, you may be interested to know that the United States government at one time kept track of haunted houses. There are more than 25 legendary haunted houses in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In the spirit of Halloween, let’s visit a few:

Close to my home, in New Hope, Pa., there is a striking list of haunts. New Hope claims to be one of the most haunted towns in the country, and with a history dating back about 500 years, that’s not surprising.

The Logan Inn located on the main road through New Hope is said to have four ghosts. Room #6 is the most requested by ghost hunters who spend a night hoping to experience the super natural. Many guests claimed to have seen a man’s reflection in the bathroom mirror, only to have it disappear when they turn around, and others say two ghostly children have greeted them. A Revolutionary War soldier has been spotted walking the halls and in the bar, and in the hall a portrait of a Colonial woman, who was famous for wearing lavender perfume, hangs for all to see. Many have claimed to smell the scent when they pass her by.

A little further south, in Washington DC, the most famous house in America, the White House, has a reputation for being one of the most haunted houses in the country. Among those who believe are former President Harry Truman, Kennedy’s Press Secretary James Haggerty, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, and the late Maureen Reagan, daughter of President Ronald Reagan. All have claimed to come in contact with a past resident of the home from Abraham Lincoln to Dolly Madison, and William Henry Harrison to Abigail Adams.

Winston Churchill also claimed Abraham Lincoln visited him when he spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom. Upon Churchill’s next visit, the English leader refused to spend the night in the White House altogether.

Across the Potomac River from Washington, Virginia’s list of haunted houses is just as impressive. The small town of Fredericksburg alone has eight famous haunts. One is Kenmore, where Col. Fielding Lewis, who organized Virginia’s Militia, is spotted reading a newspaper. Another Belle Grove, once a wealthy plantation where a young woman who was murdered still roams. In Colonial Williamsburg, a woman named Lady Skipwith haunts Wyth House, and in Alexandria, the ghost of William Ramsay, the city’s first mayor, has been spotted in the upper windows of his old home. Also in Alexandria, the home of Harry Lee, a Revolutionary War hero and the father of Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate forces during the Civil War, is haunted by a little boy. Locals believe the boyhood spirit is Robert.

Happy Halloween!