A Post-surgery Return Piece About Nothing In Particular (But I’d Appreciate If You’d Visit Anyway)

Lacking an impactful and attention-grabbing opening sentence or two today, I am admittedly in a bit of a quandary as to how to begin this particular piece.

After coming off the Writer’s LTIR (Long Term Injured Reserve) list, maybe I should have spent a bit longer stint in the Junior Writer’s Training League before rushing back to active duty following surgery.  Undecided as I am then, how about we change pace and begin with a question of sorts . . . .

Is it appropriate for me to begin this by saying “Welcome Back!” to readers, since everyone has really been here all along I would imagine, and I am in fact the one who left for a while to have yet another surgery, this time a rotator cuff repair on my right shoulder? Or, rather, should I perhaps begin by saying “I’m Baaaack!”, instead?

In the end, the more I think about it, the latter might be the more appropriate opening to employ since it was, in fact, me who went away for a spell. So let’s do that, shall we? Thank you for your patience while I cleared away the writing cobwebs and worked thru a momentary bit of senior befuddlement. Here goes then, as we truly begin . . . .

I’m Baaaack!

Returned from recent surgery no worse and measurably better for the experience, my story friend Little Red Bear and I are raring to get back to it! The feeling has largely returned to my hands following the dual carpal tunnel surgeries in June with both hands and fingers still improving each month. And despite six more weeks of therapy to rehab my right shoulder and arm that lay ahead,  I decided that they are both functioning well enough right now to be put back to work.

Little Red Bear and I simply cannot wait any longer to get back into the writing process once again, so let’s get to it then, shall we?

Thank you to everyone for your good wishes, patience, and kindness during the quiet period here over the past few months! We have actually added several new followers during that time, and that’s pretty cool.

Getting to it then, the following are some unassociated topics concerning the recent surgery, the coming Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the ongoing pandemic, and more . . . .


As tends to happen every year around this time, the Holiday Season is upon us! “Ho! Ho! Ho!” Time to grab the jingle bells and mistletoe!

Trudging thru our third COVID Winter, it looks like this will be the second year in a row where holiday plans are limited or altered due to the pandemic. As I write this, Broadway Shows are shutting down, NHL hockey games are being canceled, ICUs are overflowing, and more. Nevertheless, it is still a time when we can celebrate and find joy in the true spirit of the season despite how altered previous plans and traditions may be.

In that regard, I invite you to visit the many Christmas Holiday Features available here on my writing pages.

Please feel free to enjoy and share with family and friends, because sharing and spreading good cheer is what the Christmas spirit is all about. Here are just a few to get you started (hint — Little Red Bear’s “Happy Christmas” Left/Right Gift Exchange Game is always the most popular each year) . . . . .

And not to forget — Little Red Bear’s “Christmas & Holiday Season” Coloring Pages for all ages. Again, please feel free to download the images and share!


If you know someone or perhaps have a family member (or for yourself) on your gift list who, like me, has difficulty putting on their own socks in the morning due to stiffness or other issues, I can highly recommend the Sock Aid from my own personal experience the past several weeks.

I looked at these a couple years ago following another spinal fusion surgery but dismissed them as gimmicky. They are not, and are rather worth every penny and more. A real game-changer for someone with limited flexibility.

Tired of working to put socks on with a reacher and knowing that I would be doing everything solely with my left (non-dominant) hand for possibly several weeks after the rotator cuff surgery, I decided to finally try the Sock Aid.

Being unable to pull a sock on over the device with only one hand though, I actually ended up ordering two of these. A friend would pull the socks onto each Sock Aid the night before, and then I would slip each on the following morning, able to do the pulling with only one hand.

The Sock Aids are easy to use and work perfectly. You can possibly find the Sock Aid available at local retail outlets, or on Amazon complete with a demonstration video of how they work. I am not affiliated with this product at all, merely passing the information and personal recommendation along for anyone who may benefit from it. This simple device made a positive difference in my life.


Dealing with the supply chain shortages at present, just a friendly “nudge and wink” reminder that if the hi-tech stuff is unavailable for holiday giving this year, please remember that old-fashioned books make excellent gifts. And most are available for Kindle and other e-reader devices, too.

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!”, a collection of six short stories introducing Little Red Bear and many of his friends, is available in both print and for Kindle.

“Pine Holler Christmas”, a standalone Christmas-themed short story, is available for e-readers only at this time. Both books are available Free with Kindle Unlimited on Amazon.  A week ago, we received a heartwarming note from one of our followers concerning the “Pine Holler Christmas” story . . . .

“I’m re-reading ‘Pine Holler Christmas’ as I do every year, it really gets me in the festive mood.” 

Suitable for all ages, even for non-readers as “read-to-me” stories, I invite you to check the books out. You can check out Little Red Bear Book Reviews & Comments here to find out what others have had to say about the books.

When the pandemic began and we were all sheltered in place, I lowered the price of both books to Amazon’s minimum, eliminating any royalties so that folks would hopefully be able to afford and enjoy them while confined in their homes with family during the shutdown. The books still remain at ‘pandemic pricing’ until the end of the year!


Although not sharing new material live recently, my story friend Little Red Bear and I have been hard at work in the background preparing several new feature pages about Conservation, the Environment, and Our Children’s Future in a warming world.

Things today are clearly not the same as when I was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s. The seasons have changed with summer seemingly becoming longer each year, storms are more severe, and other impacts of climate change are being felt all over the world. Folks may still debate the cause (although I have no idea why) but the effects are all-too-real. and need to be addressed. The time to seriously confront the issue has already passed, and now we are forced to make hard choices and play catch up.

Mother Nature is a frequent mention and topic in the Little Red Bear stories, so we will be adding a good deal of material here on the writing pages after the first of the year which will be suitable for all age groups. I encourage everyone to share the pages, information, and activities with young people because they will be the ultimate ones to have to continue dealing with the issues of climate change in their lives. The Animal Alphabet Pages will continue to grow thru the year now that we are back and active again, as well.

So, just a heads-up to please watch for the new Environmental Feature Pages and posts coming in the new year!


At this point, it is understandable that so many people are worn out by the topic and feeling “so over with” the pandemic. They’re tired of wearing masks, travel hassles, standing in line for vaccine injections and tests, hearing about it every night on the news, dealing with bothersome restaurant and store restrictions, and on and on.

Believe me, I get it. But dismissing COVID because it is an inconvenience to the life we enjoyed before does not change the fact that we are still being affected by it and forced to deal with both it and the consequences.

Until the whole world is suitably vaccinated, I do not foresee this ending any time soon as new variants continue to emerge and spread. I hope I’m wrong, but am proceeding with caution accordingly.

This pandemic has been tragically life-altering and deadly for so many thousands so far, individuals and families, with over 804,000 deaths in the U.S. at this time, while adding over 17,000 new cases each day at the time of this writing as the new Omicron variant doubles every three days with the holiday season continuing and we near Christmas.

With two competing variants, Delta and the new Omicron, raging right now and hospitals’ staffs exhausted and progressively depleted, now is not the time to throw caution to the wind simply because we are tired of dealing with it all. Sometimes, as grownups, we have to make uncomfortable and hard choices. When confronted by any problem or crisis, it is best to view it realistically for what it is and deal with it. Wishing, hoping, and complaining about it will not make this pandemic go away. If things continue unabated as they are and with the grim possibility of reaching One Million deaths at some point in the U.S. alone, in my book that counts as a Crisis we can not turn our backs on in the hope it magically disappears.

I pray every day for the safety, health, and protection of my family, friends, and loved ones. And for everyone, everywhere. I hope that everyone who is able to benefit from the vaccines and boosters is able to do so. And quickly. I encourage everyone to take the necessary precautions and steps to stay safe and protect not only themselves but also their families and loved ones in the holiday season and coming months.

Taking advantage of the vaccines and boosters (which were not yet available at this time last year), wearing a mask, social distancing, and simply being smart about things are still the best ways to protect both yourself and others. It’s a bummer, but that’s the way it is right now. And we all need to do it. For ourselves and for each other.


The holiday season is always a bit stressful for many, and these COVID times are especially so. A simple kind word or gesture costs nothing and can go a very long way towards easing the stress and burdens for someone else. It may even change their day or entire life around!  I invite you to join our “Smile & Compliment” club and to share a ray of light in another’s life. The neat thing is, you will feel better about yourself, too.

As always, Thank You for taking time out of your busy day to visit with us. If you made it all the way to the end here, please Like and Comment and I will ask Santa to leave an extra Sugar Plum or two in your dreams on Christmas Eve! And if new to the site and visiting with us for the first time, please register to join our growing community and be notified of every new post and feature, as there is much more to come soon.

It’s good to be back with you!  Very best wishes for a safe, healthy, and happy Holiday Season! I am off now in search of a Snickerdoodle. ‘Til next time. – Jim  (and Red!)

(p.s. — Likes, Shares, & Comments are truly appreciated and help immensely in expanding our reach and encouraging new readers to visit! Because together we can do so much!)


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like — “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart”  and  Wishing You Deep Peace, Love, Happiness, and 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!)


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

             “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.

    “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” — Charles Dickens


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!


                   “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” – Burton Hillis


Thank You for visiting with us! Please feel free to share with family and friends. Likes, Shares, & Comments are truly appreciated and help immensely in expanding our reach and encouraging new readers to visit! Because together, we can do so much! 


 

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


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“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”