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.

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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!

It’s that time of year, Charlie Brown!

October 9, 2017 – Walking through the mall this weekend, I noticed that the friendly newsstand outside of Macy’s is stocked up and ready to sell 2018 calendars. Front and center was the Peanuts Wall Calendar, which I buy my son each Christmas. I also pick one up for my cubicle at work. It’s tradition.

It is too early to pick them just yet, but it got me thinking that Charlie Brown season here once again. Soon we’ll see promos for television specials like “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and yes, even “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Good grief! It’s the best three months of the year.

Keep your nose clean, it’s Father’s Day

June 19, 2017 – Yesterday we celebrated Father’s Day and honored all of the men who do right by their families every day.

Real dads (and moms) know firsthand that being a parent is a difficult, but rewarding job. Running a corporation or operating on a human brain, for example, pale in comparison to being fully responsible for the outcome of a human being during the first 18 years of his or her life.

While it’s true that moms usually get their due respect – and their share of the blame at the psychiatrist’s office in later years – dads are no longer overlooked in the child rearing process. We’re not the “Wait until your father gets home” generation anymore, and the role of a dad is every bit as important.

Dads are the wise owls, ready to bestow their wisdom and advice about navigating through the harsh reality of life, while moms coddle and coo, arms open wide with compassion, forgiveness and love. All of this is stereotypical, of course; growing up in my home the roles were often interchangeable.

I can’t pinpoint the wisest advice I ever got from my dad, but I remember the phrases he used most often in my childhood, and I catch myself sounding like him whenever I say something like “This simply mystifies me” or “This is what you call your boring game.” I refer to them as dadisms. Others include “What’s on your alleged mind?” and “Common sense would indicate…”

His favorite and most widely used dadism had to do with keeping one’s nose clean. “Are we going to the shore this summer, dad?” “If you keep your nose clean.” “Can I go to the movies later?” “If you keep your nose clean.” You get the picture. The origins of the phrase, which date back to 1887, obviously mean to keep out of any kind of trouble. To a kid like me who took things literally, all sorts of images would run through my head when he said those words, from scrubbing my nose with a toothbrush (I thought it would fit nicely) and soap, to thinking about how I could turn my head upside down when I took a shower.

Happy Father’s Day, dad, and to every other man who has the honor to be called dad.