Who Needs a Christmas Tree?

The last five days have been filled with dog fun. Since we’re no longer pet owners, we’ve become dig sitters for our daughters.


Luna’s been lucky enough to be our guest this week while we’ve been decorating for Christmas.


But who needs a tree or ornaments when you can just put a hat or headband on a boxer?


And as you can tell, she absolutely loves it!


Merry Christmas from Luna!


Can’t wait for Willis’ visit next week.

TBT Lesson #81

As we decorated our Christmas tree last week, we hung the University of Miami mascot ornament of Sebastian front and center. Our tree does not have traditional glass balls or glittery stars. Instead it’s decorated with ornaments collected during vacations or in recognition of special events. A sea turtle, an orca, a bat, the Jackson County Courthouse, bear bells and the First Presbyterian Church are a few examples of ornaments that commemorate events from the past 36 years.

Our Sebastian ornament is a throwback to the days when he donned a pipe and sailor hat. This old school Sebastian was especially appropriate since it was added the Christmas after the Hurricanes first national championship under Howard Schnelleberger, a coach also known for his pipe. Sebastian’s pipe was phased out in the 1990’s so as not to encourage the use of tobacco by young fans, but we enjoy seeing him reappear every December.


TBT Lesson #81: With or without a pipe, he’s still a symbol of loyalty. The ibis is always the last to leave and the first to return during a hurricane.

My meteorologist husband has issued a hurricane warning: a Category 5 is on the horizon.

Christmas Tunes

Last Saturday my Mom told me how disappointed she is with the holiday music channel that’s included with her Direct-TV. The Holiday and Happenings channel plays music that she doesn’t consider Christmas music. Hip hop and R&B aren’t her idea of the way to inspire Christmas spirit. Katy Perry, Carly Rae Jepsen and The Killers aren’t the artists she wants to hear during this time of year.


Then on Sunday I noticed the albums Meghan and Jon have on their stereo. Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Mahalia Jackson and Mitch Miller. Those are the musicians that my Mom longs to hear singing the music of Christmas. In fact, these are the tunes she listens to on CDs played in the car, but since she listens to music streamed through her TV for the other eleven months during the year, she mistakenly believed that with more than eighty channels, she’d have at least one playing her favorites.


I’m sure there are many of all ages who agree that these old time favorites are the sounds they prefer to listen to during this time of the year. And with services like Spotify and Pandora or Apple TV, most can listen to whatever they find meaningful. Unfortunately, without home Internet, my Mom doesn’t have access to these options. It’s time to start making a play list that she can add to her iPad so she won’t be at the mercy of Direct TV.

Here’s 20 songs that need to be included:

  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland
  • O Holy Night – Celine Dion
  • Christmas Time is Here – Vince Guaraldi
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Josh Groban
  • Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain – James Taylor
  • Breath of Heaven – Amy Grant
  • I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day – Harry Belafonte
  • It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams
  • Do You Hear What I Hear – Carrie Underwood
  • I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Michael Buble
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Frank Sinatra
  • Home for the Holidays – Perry Como
  • Christmas Canon – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
  • It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Perry Como
  • All I Want for Christmas is You – Michael Buble
  • Grown Up Christmas List – Amy Grant
  • White Christmas – Bing Crosby
  • The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole


Record Serial Numbers

On Tuesdays as part of the Homeless Ministry at church, we provide bicycles to those who do not have transportation. Last week a woman who’d received a bicycle a couple of weeks ago came in and asked for the serial number of the bike she’d been given because it had been stolen and she needed the number so the police could retrieve it for her. (She said she’d found it but was unable to prove it was hers.)

Unfortunately, we were unable to help her since the church does not keep a list of serial numbers for the bicycles. However, this reminded me of the importance of recording serial numbers in case of theft. In fact, on two occasions we’ve had stolen bikes returned because we were able to provide this information to the police.


After my green Schwinn Stingray was stolen from the bicycle rack in front of our apartment complex in Pompano, we called the police, made a report including the serial number which my Mom had written in her address book (under B of course) and a few days later the bike was found, identified and returned. This bike had actually been stolen the year before when we lived in Jacksonville, but my brother and I found it abandoned by the thief only a few blocks away with a flat tire. I guess this bike was really meant for me and me alone.

On another occasion, my sister’s bike was returned after being stolen from a bike rack at a mall in Pompano. A few weeks later, she saw her bike parked in front of the local water park. She found a police officer and asked him to call home and get the serial number so he could identify the bike as hers. Long story short…that number along with the officer’s questioning of the bike’s “new owner” resulted in the bike being returned to my sister.


I don’t have an address book like my Mom had to record serial numbers, but I do have an Evernote account where I keep that type of information. An address book, a digital file, a note card taped to the garage, whatever works for you…just make sure you record the serial numbers of your bikes.




Christmas Over the Rainbow

Lights seem to be mandatory at Christmas, but since we’ve strung lights for three weddings this year, we decided viewing others hard work would be the best way to satisfy the need for a festive light display.


In addition to lighted trees, reindeer and toy soldiers, for the first time I saw a rainbow featured prominently in a Christmas display, but I guess a rainbow isn’t any stranger than a toy soldier. Especially since we were at Rainbow Springs State Park.


This was much better than driving through neighborhoods. Mainly because we walked with my parents through the park instead of sitting in a car, but I am glad we were able to avoid the long line of children waiting to see Santa.


Thanks to all of the volunteers who lit up the park and provided a night of holiday spirit.

Food for Thought

I love this time of year…grapefruit season. Most mornings from November through March we start the day with a grapefruit freshly picked from one of the trees in our yard. As much as we enjoy our fruit trees, we haven’t made a commitment to planting a garden and growing our food from farm to table.


So when this morning’s fishing trip a  couple hundred yards from the house resulted in catching enough bass for lunch, I couldn’t help but think about how strange it seems to eat two meals in a single day consisting of food that didn’t make a stop at the grocery before being served on our table.


However, I don’t expect the trend to continue for dinner unless we’re able to shoot a squirrel. But do we need a license for that? And how do you clean and cook squirrel?

I think those are questions I don’t really want answered. A trip to Publix sounds like a better idea.

TBT Lesson #80

It seems once the weather begins to cool, the month have morphed into an excuse to grow facial hair. Starting in Movember or No-Shave November, men are encouraged to grow a mustache to change the face of men’s health and raise awareness of prostate cancer. This month has been renamed Decembeard, again in recognition of cancer, and will be followed by JanuHairy, as part of the Beards for Bowels campaign highlighting bowel cancer. And then there’s FeBROary. Not for a cause, but a challenge to grow the manliest beard.

Well long before these celebrations of facial hair, men were growing beards and mustaches.


TBT Lesson #80: Most anything can be a good excuse to skip shaving.

Photos in the Garden

A walk through the Birmingham Botanical Garden seemed like the perfect way to begin a cool, actually a cold, Saturday morning. The garden was dressed in its best holiday attire.


But unfortunately that meant at every turn another photographer was set up to shoot engagement photos, baby pictures, and lots of family photos for Christmas cards. In many places it was a challenge to keep from photo bombing these sessions.


Only two weeks before the first day of winter, fall colors were still evident in many areas of the garden.


And of course artwork added to the natural beauty.




Following the paths we met many others enjoying an early morning walk in the garden.


The greenhouse full of cactus and succulents added some color


in contrast to the bare crepe myrtles lining the entrance.


No professional photos for us. Just a holiday selfie.

Happy 90th

Sunday we celebrated John’s Uncle Bud’s 90th birthday, but today is his real birthday so this is written in his honor.

Bud and John, two men who know how to wear a bow tie.
Bud and John, two men who know how to wear a bow tie.

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.
–Lucille Ball

What's a party without good food, cards and a pianist to play Happy Birthday.
What’s a party without good food, cards and a pianist to play Happy Birthday.

“The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune.”

–Pope Paul VI

What better than a Picasso inspired birthday cake for an art lover?
What better than a Picasso inspired birthday cake for an art lover?

“It takes a long time to become young.”

–Pablo Picasso

Perhaps one has to be very old before one learns how to be amused rather than shocked.
–Pearl S. Buck

Bud with his youngest great grandchild. (Thanks, John, for this picture.)
Bud with his youngest great grandchild. (Thanks, John, for this picture.)


Family Comes First

This week’s Mom’s Monday Memo is written by Dad, not Mom, so it should probably be added as an edition to Dad’s Dissertation. 

Family comes first. These words are easy to say but more difficult to put into action. I have said this often but have not lived it to the fullest. We get busy raising kids and attending sporting events or performances. We try to pack or cram as much activity into our vacations until we are exhausted. We look to fill our spare time with stimulating or thrilling activities.

imageSeveral events have occurred during the past weeks that have driven home the importance of family and friends. Recently, a number of friends have lost close family members. Without question each friend would have valued one more quiet dinner with their loved one. Dee and I hosted Thanksgiving for 34 family and extended family members. It was so gratifying watching cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents laughing on the front lawn while enjoying dinner.

Dee and I made it a priority to attend my uncle’s 90th birthday celebration in Birmingham this past weekend. Though my uncle has severely impaired speech, his appreciation for his family was clear through his hugs and kisses.


As I think about the most meaningful experiences in my life, I do not think of the places I have travelled or the activities I enjoyed. It is the time with people that really matters. I remember sitting around a table with cousins after a birthday or funeral laughing until we cry. It is the enjoyment of engaging in a board game with our daughters and son-in-laws. I value the conversations I have had with my father or father-in-law while sitting in a small fishing boat on a foggy morning. These are my most memorable times. The common denominator has been taking the time to be attentive to those who are the most important to you.

Before it is too late, slow down and take the time to place your family first. It will be the most important gift that you can give and receive this Christmas season.