A Christmas Poem — “What To Do On A Christmas Week Night?”

What to do on a Christmas week night,

When everyone else is busy?

The shows are repeats and no sports on,

So I’ll call up my old friend Lizzie!

But wait – she carries that big bad axe,

And the last time I called her hair frizzy.

Just leave her be, so safe we’ll be,

As she sometimes goes off in a tizzy.

So what to do on a Christmas week night,

When everyone else is busy?

I’ll just have some cookies and punch,

And stop when I start to feel dizzy.   

Food- Punch- Hot Cranberry Punch

Merry Christmas and The Joys of the Holiday Season!

A Christmas Poem — “Fireside Questions for Santa”

“Fireside Questions for Santa”

With Christmas Day drawing nigh,

I have some questions and wonder– “Why?”

Like, what is it about Santa that makes little kids cry?

And how in the world does he get reindeer to fly?

How high do leaves go when they “mount to the sky”?

How many toys do elves make versus having to buy?

So going to stay up late, or at least I’ll try,

And will hide behind the sofa, on Santa to spy.

I want to face him– eye to eye,

To directly ask the jolly elf guy—

“With no disrespect or meaning to pry–

How is it a fat old man can be so spry?

And get down the chimney without bruising a thigh?”

So busily hanging stockings by the chimney to dry,

While waiting here for Santa with questions to ply,

But for now I’m hungry and will bid “goodbye”,

Here anxiously awaiting the Old Boy to drop by.

Goodness, gracious, me oh my.

I wish that I had some Pumpkin Pie!

Wishing a Merry Blessed Christmas to all– “and to all a Good Night!”

Santa Claus Drying Socks By The Fireside

Santa Claus Drying Socks By The Fireside

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from yours truly, Little Red Bear and the whole backwoods gang of friends and characters!   —  Jim (and Red!)

A Guest Post — “Christmases of My Childhood” by Kathleen Creighton

I am honored to be able to share a Christmas remembrance from friend and renowned author Kathleen Creighton.  With more than 50 books published and two million copies sold, Kathleen has long been a powerhouse of the romance genre. Her books have earned her five RITA awards, as well as a place in the Romance Writers Hall of Fame.  Please join Kathleen for a fond look back at childhood Christmases in Southern California.

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“The Christmases of my childhood and young adulthood were always spent at my grandparents’ house. A few days before Christmas, we’d pile into my grandfather’s old pickup—-Mom and my Aunt Mary and Uncle Russell and any cousins and friends who wanted to come along—-and drive up the canyon to cut a tree. We’d find a nice, hardy little pinon and Papa would chop it down, and we’d take turns dragging it back to the pickup. The tree would be installed in the living room on a base made from an old tire. It was Mary’s job to decorate it, because she was the only one who could put the tinsel on right. In the later years, we had electric lights, but when I was very small, I remember, we still used candles. They were only lit once, on Christmas Night.

“On Christmas Day, the family would gather for dinner. If the weather was nice—-and it often was at that time of the year in that lovely little valley tucked between the arid Tehachapi Mountains and the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada—-the children would sit out on the porch. The grown-ups sat at the big dining room table, expanded for the occasion so that it stuck out into the living room, with Papa in his overalls presiding at the head and Grandmother flitting back and forth between the table and the kitchen, ignoring everyone’s pleas to “Sit down, Mama, please!”

“In the evening, after the livestock had been fed and the cows milked, everyone gathered again around the Christmas tree. The old farmhouse wasn’t large, but somehow it always seemed to hold everyone–sons and daughters and in-laws, all the children and babies—-especially the babies! There were always a few “extras,” too, because anyone who didn’t have a place to go on Christmas was welcome at my grandparents’ house. And Grandmother saw to it that every person there had a package under the tree. We’d sing carols for a while, until the kids got restless. Then we’d light the candles on the tree and sit in their glow and sing “Silent Night.”

“Once the candles had been blown out, it was pandemonium, with kids yelling and paper and ribbons flying. Papa’s special gift was always a five-pound box of See’s chocolates, which, for the rest of the evening, he took great pleasure in passing around. Finally, stuffed with pumpkin pie and chocolate, loaded down with packages and sleepy children, everyone would drift away. But never very far away. Because to each and every one of us, that old farmhouse was home. And every day my grandparents lived in it was Christmas.

“When I was very small, we lived for a time with my grandparents. On one of those long-ago Christmases, a box arrived from far away—-no one seemed to know where. In the box was a beautiful, brand-new Lionel electric train. Everyone thought Papa must have bought it, though he steadfastly denied it, and to be sure, it wasn’t his way to be modest about his gifts. I think he would have been proud as punch to be the bestower of that wonderful train, as he was with his annual Christmas box of chocolates. So we never knew where it came from, and if Papa knew, he took the secret with him when he left us.

“In any event, on this and every Christmas, I wish for you the gifts my grandparents gave to me and to everyone—-kin or stranger—-who came into their home.

“Simple gifts: Warmth and welcome and unconditional love.” — by Kathleen Creighton

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Please visit Kathleen Creighton’s Author Page on Amazon and her Web Site.  This Christmas memory first appeared as the Author’s Note to Kathleen’s novella, “The Mysterious Gift”, available for Kindle and eReaders, in which she also included her famous Christmas Cookie recipe at the end as a special bonus ‘Thank You’.  Check it out.  Please visit and follow Kathleen on Facebook and Twitter.

Big Bear Hugs and Thank You’s to Kathleen Creighton for allowing me to share her wonderful memories with you.  And also to you, for visiting and reading.  Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Holiday Season!  —  Jim (and Red!)

Christmas- Old-fashioned Christmas- 2

Christmas — “It’s In The Singing Of A Street Corner Choir . . . . . .”

Where do you find Christmas and the Christmas Spirit this time of year?

Do you look under a tree?  Search in the gift shop?  Or perhaps — at the street corner?

I have found when confronted with a mystical or difficult question, it is often best to ask a Muppet.   So —  “Where is the Christmas Spirit to be found?”

“It’s in the singing of a street corner choir,
It’s going home and getting warm by the fire,
It’s true, where ever you find love, it feels like Christmas.

“A cup of kindness that we share with another,
A sweet reunion with a friend or a brother,
In all the places you find love, it feels like Christmas.

“It is the season of the heart.
A special time of caring,
The ways of love made clear.
It is the season of the spirit.
The message if we hear it,
Is ‘Make it last all year’.

“It’s in the giving of a gift to another,
A pair of mittens that were made by your mother,
It’s all the ways that we show love that feel like Christmas.

“A part of childhood we’ll always remember,
It is the summer of the soul in December,
It’s when you do your best for love, it feels like Christmas.

“It is the season of the heart.
A special time of caring,
The ways of love made clear.
It is the season of the spirit.
The message if we hear it,
Is ‘Make it last all year’.

“It’s in the singing of a street corner choir,
It’s going home and getting warm by the fire,
It’s true, where ever you find love, it feels like Christmas.

“It’s true, where ever you find love,
It feels like Christmas.
It feels like Christmas.
It feels like Christmas.
It feels like Christmas!”

(“It Feels Like Christmas”  by  Paul Williams.    Published by Fuzzy Muppet Songs.)

Roy L. Smith observed — “He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”    True words.    Peace, Love and Joy are to be found within and shared in the company of others.

Merry Christmas!  Wishing everyone the best of Peace, Love and Joy this Holiday Season! — Jim (and Red!)

"The Muppet Christmas Carol", 1992. Produced and Directed by Brian Henson for Jim Henson Productions, and released by Walt Disney Pictures.

“The Muppet Christmas Carol”, 1992. Produced and Directed by Brian Henson for Jim Henson Productions, and released by Walt Disney Pictures.

A Look Back — Christmas Thru The Window Glass

The last few days before Christmas!  Santa’s sleigh is in the shed for its scheduled maintenance check and going over.  The reindeer are out on the training  ground for their final pre-flight practice and run thru.  Elves are working overtime finishing, polishing, prepping and wrapping.  Mrs. Claus is busy in the kitchen keeping everyone fed and on their toes as the clock ticks down to Christmas Eve.  Gallons of hot chocolate!

Vintage Santa Claus in his Workshop Making Toys

Vintage Santa Claus in his Workshop Making Toys

How are things going for you?  In a rush to get ready? Shopping yet to be done? Gifts to wrap? Cookies and treats to be made? Final decorations and stockings to be hung? Things can get hectic this time of year.

I’m sure other folks my age remember the old-fashioned holiday window displays in the department store windows. New dolls and toys on display.  Bicycles, BB Guns and Baseball Gloves.  Red wagons.  Teddy Bears.  Model trains running thru tunnels, across bridges and round and round.  Airplanes flying thru the air.  Cold little noses pressed to the window glass to get the closest look.  Wished-for presents and dreams just out of reach!  Call me old-fashioned, but I miss these.

As a kid, the display windows seemed to make Christmas even more special. It was a highly anticipated trip all in itself to visit the department stores downtown at Christmas to see the display windows and visit with Santa Claus. Lunch out at the cafeteria nearby when home cooking was the norm and dining out reserved only for very special occasions. And the yearly trip to see the store windows and Santa Claus qualified as a very special occasion indeed!

I know you’re busy so won’t keep you.  Just taking this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and all the Joys, Happiness  and Peace of the Holiday Season!   Maybe you better go check the kids now.  Looks like they are getting their own preparations in order!  — Jim (and Red!)

Joyeux Noël !  ¡Feliz Navidad!  Buon Natale!  Frohe Weihnachten!  Merry Christmas!

A Christmas Poem — “The General Store Christmas”

“The General Store Christmas”

A present for his father.

A gift for his mom.

A dolly for sister Susan.

A Tonka truck for brother Tom.

A hairbrush for Grandma Betty,

A Sunday tie for Grandpa Bill.

Milk-bones for little Petey,

With a doggie sweater for the chill.

But what to give a horse,

For whom he cared and fed?

Just the perfect present — 

A shiny apple for Ol’ Ned!

He’d worked for many weeks,

Saving money for Christmas cheer.

Finding all the perfect gifts,

For those he held so dear.

He’d waded thru the snow,

To Rosebud’s General Store.

Stacking presents on his sled,

Til he couldn’t fit no more.

Heading home, away he went,

Across the countryside.

Pulling his gifts and treasures,

And filled with love and pride.

Awash with Christmas spirit,

He sang happily and free . . . .

“We wish you a Merry Christmas,

And a partridge in a pear tree!”

A Christmas Poem — “Love’s Candle in the Night”

“Love’s Candle in the Night”

She placed a candle on the windowsill,

Flickering soft and gentle light.

Waiting for love’s return,

On a dark and snowy night.

Christmas lights twinkled,

Glittered ribbons sparkled silvery bright.

While softly sifted snow fell,

Each flake divinely measured flight.

Blanketing tree and bush and road,

The snow covered all in downy white.

No sound of breath or footstep,

Merely winter’s silent might.

Pensive moments passed like hours,

Awaiting heart’s delight.

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The

Snow fell,

On this winter night.

Shapeless forms ever taller,

Drifting, rising to great heights.

Anxious thoughts and worries mounted,

Pondering love’s lost and snowbound plight.

But hope is everlasting and renewed each Christmas Eve,

When love is all around us and comforts winter’s frosty bite. 

The candle flame then brightened, sending forth it’s warming glow,

For no amount of wind or snow could forestall love’s return on this joyous night. 

Fear and worries then abated,

When love came into sight,

Trudging ever homeward,

Guided by love’s candle in the night.

Setting New Year’s Resolutions– Be Specific, Bob!

Thinking about New Year’s Resolutions this week?  Taking steps to Better Health, perhaps?  Exercise?  Healthy Eating?  Better Job?  Travel?  Volunteering?  Charity Work?  More Family Time?  Reading More?  Planting a vegetable garden to grow your own produce?  Learning a new musical instrument or foreign language?  Finding time to paint or a hobby?  Finally write that novel in the back of your mind?

Whatever your resolutions may be, when developing your list of annual New Year’s Resolutions this week, please be sure to put a completion date on them to help stay focused and on a timeline.  As they say– things with deadlines get done.

Also, please remember to be specific.  It makes all the difference.  Being specific forces you to clearly identify what it is you want to accomplish with the goals, helps to visualize in helping to bring them about, and makes them more quantifiable and easily measured to monitor your progress towards achieving them.  It’s very important.  Be specific.

For example, I am in growing need of an assistant in the workroom, so asked Santa to please bring me a Pug for Christmas this year.  To help with smaller tasks, help keep me motivated and moving.  I was not specific in my request- male, female, young, old, black, fawn- didn’t matter.  Any friendly little helper in need of a new home would be fine.

Pug Dressed For Christmas with a Red Bow Tie

Pug Dressed For Christmas with a Red Bow Tie

Or, if Pugs were in short supply, fully appreciative of the fact that children should come first on the Christmas Gift List, I asked Santa to please bring me a St. Bernard in need of a good home, instead.  To help with the bigger tasks around the workroom.

St. Bernard in a Field

St. Bernard in a Field

Again- I was not specific- male, female, puppy, young, older, short hair, long hair, color- did not matter.  Just a helper.  A big one.  Now here’s the point.  Again, I was not specific in my request.  Here is what Santa brought.

Toy St. Bernard,  "Ho, Ho, Ho!" to you too, Santa.

Toy St. Bernard, “Ho, Ho, Ho!” to you too, Santa.

So, yes.  Now I have a St. Bernard.  A very cute, fuzzy, little St. Bernard– Toy.  Quiet, great disposition and temperament, but not very helpful beyond being cuddly.

Now, I admit to having tweaked Santa Claus a bit this year in a few blog posts, all in good-natured humor and fun.  Maybe this was the Old Boy’s way of getting me back.  Lighter to carry than the traditional lump of coal, perhaps.  On the other hand, maybe it is because I was not specific and clear in making out my Wish List.

I asked for — “a St. Bernard.”        I got — “a St. Bernard.”

Santa brought what I had requested and checked me off the list.  Job done.  But not at all what I had in mind when making the request.  So being specific is important.  More so with Santa Claus than I had imagined, apparently.

Good luck setting your goals and resolutions for the New Year.  And wishing you the very best of luck and success in achieving them all.  Please remember to put a date on them and to be specific.  It really does make all the difference in achieving your goals.

Thanks as always for reading!– Jim (and Red!)

 

Fireside Questions for Santa

With Christmas Day drawing nigh,

I have some questions and wonder– “Why?”

Like, what is it about Santa that makes little kids cry?

And how in the world does he get reindeer to fly?

How high do leaves go when they “mount to the sky”?

How many toys do elves make versus having to buy?

So going to stay up late, or at least I’ll try,

And will hide behind the sofa, on Santa to spy.

I want to face him– eye to eye,

To directly ask the jolly elf guy—

“With no disrespect or meaning to pry–

How is it a fat old man can be so spry?

And get down the chimney without bruising a thigh?”

So busily hanging stockings by the chimney to dry,

While waiting here for Santa with questions to ply,

But for now I’m hungry and will bid “goodbye”,

Here anxiously awaiting the Old Boy to drop by.

Goodness, gracious, me oh my.

I wish that I had some Pumpkin Pie!

Wishing a Merry Blessed Christmas to all– “and to all a Good Night!”

— Jim (and Red!)

Santa Claus Drying Socks By The Fireside

Santa Claus Drying Socks By The Fireside

 

Steampunk Ripples & Bearpunk Pranks!

The Christmas and Holiday Season is all about giving and sharing. Kindness. Stories of random acts of kindness and their far-reaching effects are in the news every day this time of year. But they are there the rest of the year, too. We just need to look for them. When one does an act of kindness, passes along a smile, compliment, comforting touch or gesture, there is no telling how far the positive effects may reach. It could change someone’s day. It could change a life. It could change the world. It’s all about– ripples.

So I thought it would be appropriate and fun to share a few treasured gifts received from some very good friends this year- the artist Christine Southworth and her daughter, the writer Sylva Fae.  And– ripples.

As modern times and the internet would have it, Christine and Sylva are two wonderful, charming people who I have never had the pleasure to actually meet in person yet, but who have nevertheless inspired and influenced my life over the past year in a very positive way thru their shared artworks and writings. Which makes it all even more incredible. It is a perfect example of creating ripples, and watching a single act multiply and impact others one by one in turn.

Mother Teresa Quote-- Ripples

Mother Teresa Quote– Ripples

Earlier in the year, I wrote a blog post titled “Expand Your Horizons on a Walk Around the Block!” After reading that post, which apparently resonated with her, Christine gifted me back an original drawing, entitled “Milson, the Steampunk Bear.” This drawing has since been the featured image on my blog here, on the right. Needless to say, I was blown away by her talent, kindness and generosity.

"Milson, the Steampunk Bear"- Original Art by Christine Southworth

“Milson, the Steampunk Bear”- Original Art by Christine Southworth

A few months later, having fun, Christine’s daughter Sylva surprised me with a poem inspired by the drawing “Milson, the Steampunk Bear.” I would like to share that poem with you here. Again, I was amazed with such a wonderful and creative gift, totally out of the blue. Other bears mentioned in the poem were inspired by earlier creations of mine, available for review in the Gallery, linked above.

“MILSON- THE STEAMPUNK BEAR”

“Hello! I’m Milson the steampunk bear. No other bear can compare.

I’m quirky, fluffy but beware, I have a secret– “Shhh, don’t share!”

When all the grown-ups go to sleep, down the stairs, I do creep.

Through the catflap, quietly sneak, across the step with one big leap.

In sun or rain or snowy weather, I wear my hat with jaunty feather.

Goggles and specs I wear together, with studded boots of shiny leather.

I grab my bike from garden glade, for my nightly escapade.

A steampunk biker renegade, ready for the bear parade.

Meeting at the dead of night, Old Glory bears reunite.

It really is quite a sight, Hats on, pegs up. Hold on tight!

There’s Butterscotch Spike on his brass heart bike.

Horace revs a vintage trike, and Sidecar Elsie’s quite a tyke.

Grumpy Gus on a golden chopper, Old Boone loves his ride in copper.

Gaarrth’s a steamcycle whopper, and Tuffie’s trike is good ‘n’ proper.

All the rest in leather and lace, come and join the bearpunk race.

Engines roar as bears give chase, and Grumpy Gus takes first place.

Taking off at lightning speed, a steampunk cycle is my steed.

I know I can, I will succeed. Head down, ears back, I take the lead.

Engine off, put on the brake. The trophy is mine to take.

We feast on mead and fruity cake, then home before the grown-ups wake.”

—by Sylva Fae

 Earlier this week for my birthday, Christine gifted me with another piece of artwork—“Milson the Steampunk Bear Finishes the ‘Go Anywhere, Do Anything’ Chair.” That’s him, the little bear with the wrench in his hand on the bottom right. I was honored to receive such a gift- again. We have had an ongoing discussion thru the week as to whether “housework” might be included in the “Do Anything” operating manual.

"Milson, the Steampunk Bear Finishes the 'Go Anywhere, Do Anything' Chair"- original artwork by Christine Southworth

“Milson, the Steampunk Bear Finishes the ‘Go Anywhere, Do Anything’ Chair”- original artwork by Christine Southworth

Already inspired and moved to action from the original drawing and poem, this latest piece served to reinforce the message. It has been received, loud and clear, and it seemed time for “Milson the Steampunk Bear” to take form.

This little guy is the first of some new Bearpunk patterns and of what will be a whole new line of work and creations, as “Steampunk Bearpunk Bears and Accessories” will make their way into my store after the first of the year. While a departure from the Traditional, Vintage and Country Primitive stylings I have been making, they will be a fun new complement and addition. And if this first fellow- “Milson, the Steampunk Bear” is any indication, it’s going to be a blast working on them!

And it all started from a Blog post, which moved an artist an ocean away to create a drawing, which inspired a daughter to create a poem, which in turn led to the creation of another artwork, which led me out of my own comfort zone and to the creation of new teddy bear designs and store line. Which hopefully leads to more enjoyment and fun for who knows how many more folks in the coming years. A single ripple reaching distant shores and flowing back. And back. And back. If ever undecided about doing an act of kindness for someone—do it. You never know whose world you may be changing.

Here is a link to visit Sylva’s delightful blog → “Sylvanian Ramblings Blog”

Christine is a frequent contributor of original watercolor paintings and other artworks on Sylva’s blog, just look thru earlier posts for beautiful artwork and delightful posts by Sylva there. You can learn more about Christine in a recent Guest Post on Sylva’s blog here → “Christine Southworth Guest Blog Post”

In other news, Red and I are also hard at work finishing his first short story collection for release in the New Year—“The Adventures of Little Red Bear.” Hopefully more ripples. Busy times here. Making waves!

It’s the Holiday Season. Kindness. Sharing. Join in, have fun and go make some ripples of your own!  It just takes one act or moment of kindness to get the whole progression started.   And sometimes, as in a simple blog post, you don’t really know what ripples you may be setting in motion and what may come back to you in the process.

Sending Ripples Into The World

Sending Ripples Into The World

Thanks as always for reading and following along. Very best wishes from Little Red Bear and I, and the whole gang of critters and story folk here for a very Happy, Healthy and Joyous Holiday Season! — Jim (and Red!)

Milson, the Steampunk Bear-- German Mohair, Glass Eyes, by James Milson, 2014

Milson, the Steampunk Bear– German Mohair, Glass Eyes, by James Milson, 2014

 

An Original Short Story– “Susie’s Bear”

An unexpected major winter storm and a very sick little girl compound the problems of an  Indiana farm family struggling to survive  in the depths of the Great Depression.

An original short story to share for the holiday season.  Please click here for a Free Read here on the Blog — “Susie’s Bear”.

I hope you enjoy the story, and please feel free to share with friends and family.  Thanks as always for reading and following!  Wishing all a very Merry Christmas and the best of the holiday season!  — Jim (and Red!)

ps- Please watch for the first collection of short stories in the “Adventures of Little Red Bear” series coming in the new year!

Currier & Ives-- "Winter Moonlight"

Currier & Ives– “Winter Moonlight”

Happy Thanksgiving!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!

A quick holiday note to let everyone know I am very THANKFUL for all who follow, support and read my work here.  You are truly appreciated.  Each “Like” is worth another 10,000 words!

Wishing all a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Finishing a new short story to be ready in a few days.  It mentions “Santa” once or twice, so it may be a Christmas Story.

Have a wonderful day, and God’s blessings to all those in uniform who protect and serve!

Charles Wysocki- "And the Hearty Ate a Thankful Meal"

Charles Wysocki- “And the Hearty Ate a Thankful Meal”