Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! Sharing Writing Gifts For The Holiday Season!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

My story character friend and writing partner Little Red Bear and I would like to share some of our holiday season writings and activities with you to enjoy with family and friends in the coming days!

Below, please find links to our “Twelve Days of Christmas Free Holiday Reads”, “Little Red Bear’s Christmas Holiday Coloring Pages”, and one of the most popular visits on the writing site this time of year — “Little Red Bear’s Happy Christmas ‘Left-Right’ Game!” to play with kids and holiday visitors.

Please just tap on any link to visit the page(s) and activities of your choice!


“The Twelve Days of Christmas Free Holiday Reads”

“It’s In The Singing Of A Street Corner Choir”  —  An ode to the “Muppet Christmas Carol” show.

A Christmas Poem – “Blue House on the Hill” — A nostalgic Christmas poem inspired by a winter painting created by artist Trisha Romance.

A Holiday Short Story – “Susie’s Bear” — The heartwarming story of a grandmother’s love and devotion during the depression, confronted with a blustery snowstorm and a very sick little girl.

“Haddon Sundblom, Coca-Cola, and Santa — A look back at how the artist Haddon Sundblom defined the image of Santa Claus for not only my generation but also for generations to come.

“Christmases of My Childhood” by Kathleen Creighton — A very special piece contributed by my dear friend and award-winning author Kathleen Creighton.

A Christmas Poem – “The General Store Christmas”  — Inspired by country artist John Sloane’s painting, a little boy shopping for family presents and gifts.

“A Christmas Tradition — Trains and Memories Beneath the Tree”  — My fondest family traditions and Christmas memories seem to run thru tunnels, over bridges, and along train tracks thru the years.

A Nostalgic Look Back – “Christmas Thru The Window Glass”  — A nostalgic look back at Christmases past, with the highly anticipated and decorated storefront windows, department store Santas, and more.

A Christmas Poem – “Fireside Questions for Santa”  — With a few questions and wondering why. So waiting up to ask the jolly elf guy.

“That’s What Christmas Is All About, Charlie Brown”  — Words of wisdom from Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, a simple reminder of what the holiday season is truly about — Peace, Good Will, Kindness, Generosity, Charity, Compassion, Empathy, and Love for all.

A Christmas Poem – “Love’s Candle in the Night” — Waiting for a loved one’s safe arrival thru the snow on Christmas Eve.

“Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus . . . . . . And More!”  — What circumstances or forces in the Universe worked to bring together a young girl and a cynical, childless curmudgeon to produce a timeless literary piece of Hope, Generosity, and Faith that endures thru time?

Bonus — “What to Do on a Christmas Week Night?” A fun little rhyme during the holiday time.


“Little Red Bear’s Christmas Holiday Coloring Pages”

Little Red Bear’s Christmas & Holiday Coloring Pages Summary

Little Red Bear’s Special “Beary Christmas!” Coloring Images

Little Red Bear’s Special “Santa Claus” Coloring Images

Little Red Bear’s Special “Santa’s Elves & Angels” Coloring Images

Little Red Bear’s Special “Snowmen & Reindeer” Coloring Images

Little Red Bear’s Special “Ornaments, Trees & Bells” Coloring Images

Little Red Bear’s Special “Christmas Holiday Greetings” Coloring Images

Little Red Bear’s Special “Other Christmas & Holiday” Coloring Images


Little Red Bear’s Christmas & Holiday Fun Activities

“Little Red Bear’s Happy Christmas ‘Left-Right’ Game!”— An entertaining group gift exchange game to bring plenty of fun and laughter to family gatherings and holiday events featuring characters from the Little Red Bear stories.


 As always, “Thank You!” for visiting and spending part of your time with us here thru the year!
We always look forward to your visits and comments, because YOU are the reason we do it all here.
This has been a strange year, indeed, hasn’t it? If pandemic circumstances prevent us from gathering with family this holiday season, there are other ways to connect these days which will allow us to all be present together for the next one.  And regardless of technical expertise, we are always truly connected in our hearts.
Please take precautions to be safe, stay healthy, and enjoy the holiday season in spite of it all. And if staying at home not visiting with loved ones this year to stay safe, just think of how glorious next year’s holiday celebrations will be!
Sending the very best wishes your way for a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season! And a Happy and Healthy New Year!
See y’all in the New Year with more new posts and features!   — Jim  (and Red!)

              “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”             – Hamilton Wright Mabie
 
“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” — Roy L. Smith

Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

Find out what readers have to say about Little Red Bear and His Friends!

(Royalties from the sale of Little Red Bear’s books go directly to supporting this site.)


“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.” – Mary Ellen Chase



“It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.” – W.T. Ellis


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


 “I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: ‘Why, this is Christmas Day!’” – David Grayson

Grab the Crayons Kids! Announcing the Launch of “Little Red Bear’s Christmas Holiday Coloring Pages”

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

My main story character Little Red Bear and I are pleased as Candy Cane Christmas Punch to announce the launch of “Little Red Bear’s Christmas Holiday Coloring Pages!”

Christmas and Holiday Season coloring images are available for unlimited Free downloads simply by ‘Right Clicking’ on an image, choosing ‘Save Image As’ in the dropdown menu to save a local copy on your computer or device, and then printing out as many as you want.

Each page features a collection of Christmas Holiday images for children and adults alike to enjoy — Santa Claus, Snowmen, Angels, Elves, Bells, Christmas Trees, and more! Along with various Holiday Bears, of course!

As with “Little Red Bear’s Animal Alphabet Coloring Pages”, some are simplified and basic coloring images for the very young, and some are more detailed images for older kids. And, for Mom and Dad to color along at the same time.

Little Red Bear and I are all about setting aside the cell phones and other screen distractions and spending quality family time together.

It is our hope that these pages provide an opportunity to enjoy a bit of the holiday season fun and joy together!

Have fun displaying finished works on the family refrigerator this holiday season and by gifting original works of Holiday Season Art to Grandmas and Grandpas. Trust me, we love that sort of thing!

Below are the page links to get you started . . . . . .

LITTLE RED BEAR’S CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY COLORING PAGES SUMMARY
LITTLE RED BEAR’S SPECIAL “BEARY CHRISTMAS!” COLORING IMAGES
LITTLE RED BEAR’S SPECIAL “SANTA CLAUS” COLORING IMAGES
LITTLE RED BEAR’S SPECIAL “SANTA’S ELVES &ANGELS” COLORING IMAGES
LITTLE RED BEAR’S SPECIAL “SNOWMEN & REINDEER” COLORING IMAGES
LITTLE RED BEAR’S “ORNAMENTS, TREES, & BELLS” COLORING IMAGES
LITTLE RED BEAR’S “OTHER CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY” COLORING IMAGES

A Note For Parents — This website is mostly Self Funded. “Little Red Bear’s Christmas Holiday Coloring Pages” are made possible only with the assistance of our Patreon Community and independent donations to sponsor pages. Future images will come in sequence as funds are available.

Each image has been purchased and licensed thru Shutterstock in order to secure user rights and be able to provide easily accessible downloads for our readers and their children. The coloring images here are offered Free Of Charge because that is just how we roll here.

If you would like to help support this and future projects or our site in general, please consider joining our Patreon Community today for as little as $1.00 a month.

We truly appreciate and love the members of our Patreon Community for all they allow us to do, for helping Little Red Bear and me to keep growing the site, and for sharing in our vision of helping to make the world a better place. For everyone!

Will you join us today?


And oh yeah — here is the recipe for the amazing Candy Cane Peppermint Punch mentioned above, a new Little Red Bear holiday favorite! If you love eggnog . . . .

Candy Cane Peppermint Christmas Punch Recipe

There are only four ingredients to make this delicious holiday punch —

  • Pour one (1) quart of Eggnog into a bowl.
  • Add one (1) liter of Club Soda.
  • Scoop in 1/2 gallon of Candy Cane Ice Cream.
  • Hang Candy Canes around the edge of the bowl as a garnish.
  • Lastly, wet the rims of drinking glasses and then dip them into crushed candy canes to create a candy cane rim. Enjoy!

(Recipe credit and original recipe with instructions → The Sugar and Charm Blog)


Thank you for stopping by to visit with us today!

We hope that children and families enjoy and benefit from the new pages each holiday season and are as delighted as Little Red Bear and I are to bring them to you.

Please visit often as many more new features and activities arrive soon!

To get you started, please feel free to download the Header Image below,  print out as many copies as you need, gather the family together over a bowl of popcorn, and color together ’til the cows come home!

Our very best wishes for a safe and healthy Christmas and Holiday Season!  See ya soon with more! — Jim   (and Red!)


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like — “Wishing You Happiness, Peace, Joy — And A Very Good Day!”   

(New Visitors — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” and “About the Blog, Jim & Little Red Bear” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” – Andy Rooney

          “Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.”         – Peg Bracken


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

Find out what readers have to say about Little Red Bear and His Friends!

(Royalties from the sale of Little Red Bear’s books go directly to supporting this site.)


                “Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.”               – Janice Maeditere


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.” – Mary Ellen Chase

“Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus . . . . . . and More!”

Most everyone is familiar with the phrase “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” but may not be familiar with the interesting historical information behind it.

The phrase comes from an editorial entitled “Is There a Santa Claus?” first appearing in the September 21, 1897, edition of ‘The (New York) Sun’ newspaper in reply to a question sent in by a young girl. The editorial response has since become the most reprinted newspaper editorial in the English language.

As the story goes, eight-year-old Laura Virginia O’Hanlon first asked her father the question “Is there a Santa Claus?”  Virginia’s father, Dr. Phillip O’Hanlon, a coroner’s assistant in Manhattan, suggested that she write a letter to the prominent ‘Sun’ newspaper, advising that “If you see it in ‘The Sun’, it’s so.”

There is some question due to the wording if Virginia actually completely penned the letter herself at age eight, or more likely with the aid of her father. Regardless, the query arrived at ‘The Sun’. Few may be aware of the rest of the story.

The editor who prepared the response to Virginia’s question was named Francis Pharcellus Church. Interestingly, Mr. Church had been a war correspondent during the devastating and horrific American Civil War and suffered from a great loss of faith and hope in society afterward.  He was a hardened cynic, an atheist not given to superstition, curmudgeonly, and wanted no part of writing the newspaper’s reply, to the point of initially not allowing his name to even be attached to the piece.

Nevertheless, Mr. Church’s response turned out to be a masterful testimony much more far-reaching than the original, simple Santa Claus question. Addressing the philosophical issues of not only the existence of Santa Claus, he uncharacteristically affirmed hope, encouragement, generosity, love, and faith, as well.

Despite being placed seventh in order on the newspaper’s editorial page, even appearing below an article on the newly-invented chainless bicycle, Mr. Church’s reply was both noticed and well-received by readers, taking on a subsequent life of its own which has endured over a century and still going strong.

Reprinting here for everyone, should you wish to share this inspiring piece with your family this holiday season . . . .


“We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

“Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.

“We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

“Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

“You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

“No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”


Virginia went on later in life to become an educator, receiving a doctorate from Fordham University in 1930, with her dissertation on ‘The Importance of Play’, a theme later echoed famously by Fred (Mr.) Rogers, that play is actually the work of childhood.  Later in life, she credited Mr. Church’s editorial response to her Santa Claus letter to influencing and shaping the direction of her life in a positive manner. She passed away on May 13, 1971, at the age of eighty-one.

At the time of the editorial reply, Francis Pharcellus Church was fifty-eight years old. He passed away a few years later at the age of sixty-seven and is buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York. He had no children.

One wonders what forces of the Universe combined to bring together such an unlikely pairing? An innocent young girl and her curiosity about Santa Claus, and a childless curmudgeon, to inspire a timeless literary piece of love, generosity, and devotion.

What would the world be and what would we do without Santa Claus? Without Kindness, Hope, Faith, Love, Compassion, Generosity, and Charity? Without Santa Claus embodying the Spirit of Christmas?  Without our faith and belief in the unseen? Truly, there is nothing more real, indeed. May the Spirit of Christmas continue to live within and inspire us all.

Thank You always for visiting and spending part of your day with us! And in the words of Charles Dickens thru Tiny Tim —“God bless us, every one!”  — Jim  (and Red!)


“They err who think Santa Claus enters through the chimney. He enters through the heart.” — Charles W. Howard

“Of course there is a Santa Claus. It’s just that no single somebody could do all he has to do.            So the Lord has spread the task among us all. That’s why everybody is Santa Claus.        I am. You are.” — Truman Capote


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly, Multi-generational Stories and Fun for All Ages!
~ About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends ~

“Whenever you give someone a present or sing a holiday song, you’re helping Santa Claus. To me, that’s what Christmas is all about. Helping Santa Claus!” — Louis Sachar


“To say there is no Santa Claus is the most erroneous statement in the world. Santa Claus is a thought that is passed from generation to generation. After time this thought takes on a human form. Maybe if all children and adults understand the symbolism of this thought                             we can actually attain Peace on Earth and good will to men everywhere.”                 —  Charles W. Howard


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.


“Whenever anyone was unselfish, that was Santa Claus. Christmas Eve was the time when everybody was unselfish. On that one night, Santa Claus was everywhere, because          everybody, all together, stopped being selfish and wanted other people to be happy.         And in the morning you saw what that had done.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder


 

 

Haddon Sundblom, Coca-Cola and Santa Claus

If you were to pause for a moment, close your eyes, and then conjure up the vision of Santa Claus in your mind — what would he look like?

Chances are he would be rather large, plump and portly in shape, dressed in a red outfit with white fur trim and a wide black belt, wearing boots, have a long white beard and of jolly disposition.  Am I close?

If so, thank the artist and illustrator Haddon Sundblom (‘Sund-bloom’). Haddon Sundblom is regarded as the Father of Modern Christmas by many, and was instrumental in defining the mental image of Santa Claus for my generation and for generations to come.

haddon-sundblom-coke-santa-claus-with-reindeer1347-x-1600

Haddon “Sunny” Sundblom (1899 – 1976) was a Michigan-born American illustrator and artist of Finnish and Swedish descent, best known for the images of Santa Claus which he created for The Coca-Cola Company.  Previously, Santa Claus had been portrayed in sundry ways, from a spooky-looking little elf to a tall thin man, and wearing anything from Bishop’s robes to animal skins. Coca-Cola sought a more realistic and symbolic image for Santa Claus.

Artist and Illustrator Haddon Sundblom (1899 - 1976)

Beginning to place advertisements in popular magazines, in 1931 Coca-Cola commissioned Sundblom to develop advertising images using Santa Claus — showing Santa himself, not a man dressed as Santa.

For inspiration, Sundblom turned to Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas”, or as more commonly known — “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”. Moore’s descriptions led Sundblom to create an image of a more warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human Santa Claus, using neighbor friend Lou Prentiss, a retired salesman, as his model. Children in the paintings were two little girls who were neighbors as well, although he decided to paint one as a boy to appeal to both girls and boys.

The first Coca-Cola advertisement with the new Sundblom Santa appeared in “The Saturday Evening Post” in 1931, along with “Ladies Home Journal”, “The New Yorker”, “National Geographic”, and others.

haddon-sundblom-coke-santa-1931-first-image-created

From 1931 to 1964, Sundblom’s creations for Coca-Cola had Santa Claus pictured as doing everything from delivering toys (and playing with them!), pausing to read letters, visiting with children who had waited up to meet him on Christmas Eve, raiding the refrigerators of several homes, warming his feet by the fire, and other activities — always with a bottle of Coke in hand or nearby. The Sundblom Santa became so popular that the images spread from print ads on to billboards, posters, calendars, plush dolls and more.

Haddon Sundblom created his final Santa image for Coca-Cola in 1964, incorporating the neighborhood florist’s grey poodle, painted black to stand out more in the image. The company continued to use the popular Santa image for several more decades. Various items bearing the Sundblom Santa image are popular collectibles to this day.

haddon-sundblom-coke-santa-1964-ad-final-one-2

In 2001, Haddon Sundblom’s Santa Claus was creatively brought to life in a Coca-Cola ad video tribute, animated by the Academy Award-winning animator Alexandre Petrov.

So the next time you envision Santa Claus and maybe even have a simultaneous unexplained craving for a Coca-Cola, please give a wink and nod to the artist Haddon Sundblom.  He was instrumental in defining the image of Santa Claus for us all.

Wishing the very best of the holiday season to everyone!

If you have not yet checked out our Christmas Holiday Story featuring Little Red Bear, Cinnamon Charlie and their friends, “Pine Holler Christmas” is available now on Amazon!

Wonder how Haddon Sundblom might have drawn Little Red Bear? Thanks as always for visiting.    — Jim (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times 

haddon-sundblom-coke-santa-with-toys

Check out the new Little Red Bear Adventure– “Pine Holler Christmas” on Amazon! Tap Here For A Free Preview!

 

 

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 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!

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!)

 

Big News! “Howie the Hound Dog” Planning a Return?

Hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas, Holidays and Festive Time!

A lot to do here. Working hard with Red to finish the first collection of short stories in his upcoming “Adventures of Little Red Bear” series. Preparing a new Blog Post for Monday morning—about being specific. (Gee, thanks Santa!) And Charles Dickens is back again after the holiday, working with me on that poem started awhile ago. Much to do.

And this morning, to top it off now– there’s more! I awoke an hour early this morning with my writing muse going a hundred miles an hour in my head, got up and going, and made breakfast figuring to get an early start on it all. I opened the front door to get some fresh air and found a “Special Edition” of the local “Owl Hoots & Toots” backwoods newspaper at my doorstep.

Big news! Word is that Howie the Hound Dog over at the old Cooper place on Flint Crick is fixin’ to get a new band together! Howie’s last group broke up when . . . . . . . . .

Well, before we rush into a rumor with our overalls half pulled, let me check it all out first and get the whole story together before I bother you with the background details. But if it’s true (the “Owl Hoots & Toots” is very reliable) then toe-tapping times may be coming back to the holler!

I will do some digging around, see what I can find out and let you know more about it all next week. Rusty the Fairydiddle is busy fact-checking the Owl’s article too, and trying to get a confirmation from Banjo the Bluegrass Bunny. In the meantime, you might want to retrieve your dancing shoes from the back of the closet!

Remember, you can always sign up to follow the blog for Free and have notifications of all new posts delivered directly to your email inbox. There is an easy link in the right column. We surely don’t want you to miss out on Howie the Hound Dog’s return and getting a new band together! That ol’ boy could bark and spark all night!

So I will get busy and be back next week with more. Best wishes for a wonderful, safe and healthy holiday season! – Jim (and Red!)

Howie the Hound Dog. (Photo credit- Christina Talley)

Howie the Hound Dog.
(Photo credit- Christina Talley)

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

 

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”

‘Twas the Seventieth Night Before Christmas . . . . . . .

‘Twas the Seventieth night before Christmas, and all thru the house, not a creature was stirring. Because it was five minutes after midnight on October the 15th and I had just gone to bed. But maybe not so fast . . . . . . .

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It’s a little early to be talking about Christmas already, but folks, I got in trouble with the Big Guy last night. I should have known what was coming but wasn’t paying attention to the date. Every year on October 15th I get a call. Five minutes after midnight this time. Earliest ever. No sooner had I switched my light off to turn in for the night the phone rang. A direct call from the Big Guy. Yep. That one. Santa Claus. Knew I was in trouble the moment I saw the display on the phone—“North Pole Hotline”.

By calling at that hour Santa was purposefully demonstrating that he was burning the midnight oil, still busy at work and wondering why I wasn’t doing the same. We have a working relationship that goes way back, Santa and I, and to be honest I get that call from him on this day every year, with Santa checking in to see how my production is coming along on his orders for the upcoming holidays. Just never in the wee hours of the morning, and usually I’m not this far behind so the conversation goes a little better.

“I’ve been going over my mid-month status reports, and the open and received orders book here Jim, and notice that I have not received a single thing I ordered from you yet. Now, I placed those orders back in March before I left for my annual beach vacation. There’s only 70 days left until Christmas and it’s going to be here before you think. Is there a problem?  I also have new orders for you.  You know how we all look forward to your teddy bears and things every year. Are you going to be able to fulfill these orders or should I look elsewhere? It’s been quite a while since you’ve been on my Naughty List. We don’t want that now, do we?”

Santa Claus with the Naughty and Nice Books

Santa Claus with the Naughty and Nice Books

Santa is many things—a master craftsman, innovator, expert sleigh and reindeer handler, navigator extraordinaire, Elf coordinator, cookie connoisseur, bringer of good will and cheer, youth motivator and positive reinforcement master, and the list goes on. Quite an accomplished fellow. An unheralded ability that should be recognized is his mastery of delegation and follow-up. Not many orders or items slip thru the cracks on his watch. And if they do, Santa and we all have Mrs. Claus to answer to, the real “Power Behind the Sleigh” if you will. Accordingly, Santa makes it a high priority to stay on top of things, and last night it was my turn to report in and be held to account.

He noted that I had sold three jewelry pendants in the last 24 hours from my store, indicating a noticeable uptick in activity and a clear sign that the holiday busy season might be getting underway. He also reminded me in no uncertain terms that, according to his morning flash reports, my store indicated a “Low Inventory Status” for gift seekers he referred, and again that none of his personal Sleigh Delivery orders had been filled yet and wanted to know why, and what was I going to do about it?  And would I be able to handle additional new orders?

Santa Claus Reviewing Records and Accounts

Santa Claus Reviewing Records and Accounts

One thing you need to know about Santa Claus. Twinkling eyes, dimples how merry, cheeks like roses, nose like a cherry—yes indeed, that’s all spot on. But when it comes to the business side, he gets right down to it in true executive fashion. He asks pointed, direct questions, doesn’t accept any hem-hawing around and cuts right thru the mistletoe! And he carries the threat of that “Naughty Boys List” around in his back pocket like a Cherokee War Club. Santa is all business when it comes to his orders and running a tight ship at the North Pole.

Santa Claus- Performance Evaluation Day

Santa Claus- Performance Evaluation Day

Now, having talked about Santa, one thing you need to know about me is that I live to make things in addition to writing, and have been making up new designs and creations for months- collector bears, accessories, pendant jewelry, a new line of bear and doll display chairs, and more. When it comes to photographing and listing it all online for my store, well, quite honestly, that’s where it all breaks down for me. Not being my favorite thing and being commonly human, I keep putting it off. My aching back and standing, bending and taking photos all day just don’t go well together it seems. But believe me, that is not an acceptable explanation to offer up to an elderly, overweight gentleman who spends a 24 hour shift scrambling up and down chimneys with a heavy sack, and bouncing around in a sleigh behind gassy reindeer for thousands of miles. Santa expects and works hard to keep everything coordinated, in order and on schedule.

Santa Claus- Planning, Scheduling and Coordination Meeting

Santa Claus- Planning, Scheduling and Coordination Meeting

And that’s why he was calling of course, to offer a firm reminder to put it in gear and get going myself. As I said, he knows me well from over the years, and gives me this kick in the britches about this time every holiday season. It was just a little harder kick this year. He knew the state of things here before he called. He knows and sees everything. When you’re sleeping, when you’re awake. Just like the song says. That’s why the phone was ringing before my light had lost its glow after turning it off last night. You couldn’t put anything over on the Big Guy if you tried, and really—why would you want to?

So, as he clearly reminded, it’s time for me to “Be good, not pout, not shout and get busy!” filling my store and his orders. And there is no way I want to disappoint him. If you see me a little less the next several weeks on Social Media and the like, please understand that I’m just busy on Santa’s orders and trying like the dickens to stay off his “Naughty Boys List”. And Mrs. C has already been after me about finishing Little Red Bear’s stories and getting them out, so I don’t want to go within a country mile of getting on her bad list. You know what I’m talking about.

Mrs. Claus- Angry- Don't Get On Her List!

Mrs. Claus- Angry- Don’t Get On Her List!

Off to work on Santa’s list and orders then. Lots of photos to take and more things to make so better get to it. “Hey, Little Red Bear! Better get some cookies going and put on the teapot. We’ve got some long nights ahead.”

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

The Old Toy Maker Working Thru The Night

The Old Toy Maker Working Thru The Night. (An original solid wood Santa Claus carving by Deborah Call.)