Tag Archives: Christmas

The spirit of Christmas

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Two young boys, huffing and puffing, drag a Flexible Flyer up worn wooden steps, banging and scraping. The boys are dressed like dark woolen snowmen from their watch-capped heads to their over-sized snow boots.

Mother stood over Little Sister, dressing her for the occasion – knitted cap tied under chin with a scarf, multi-layered clothing, and hand-me-down boots.

The three siblings slurged through heavy snow in the driveway, past the mint and white Chrysler with its push button start, into the snow drifts. The children are on a mission; they have their assignment.

They trudged a couple hundred yards – past the now-bald monkey ball trees – until they set foot on the school grounds, then ‘round the back to the dumpsters.

The school’s Christmas tree adorned the large lobby of Lora Little Elementary. After final classes marking winter break, the tree was dragged from the lobby and tossed unceremoniously out the loading dock doors. The tree is forlorn now, marked by several bent and broken branches and bent and wrinkled tinsel.

True to the elementary school tradition, this tree is twelve feet tall and wide as a 1950’s Buick. The Flexi Flyer is a scant few feet long, but none of the logistics mattered. If they did not rescue this tree, they would have no tree.

The three siblings dragged the tree past the sledding hill where one brother would break his leg, past dead weed-choked fencing where the other brother would contract poison oak, past the school’s towering metal and chain swing set where sister would jump, fly!, and dislocate her elbow.

Out of the schoolyard and down the home street, sliding down the driveway, around the house and into the back yard.

Much like Paul Bunyan, Older Brother dispatched his Boy Scout ax from its leather pouch and commenced to chop the tree to a manageable height so it would fit in the rec room.

They set the tree in a teensy, dented tree stand. They re-arranged the leftover tinsel then added their own stored decorations. Paint-flaked ornaments with misshapen hooks, delicately and laboriously placed upon bent and broken branches, until the tree brought the spirit of Christmas into the home.

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A Jarhead’s Night Before Christmas, by Jeffrey Hollar

Twas the night before Christmas – Fallujah, Iraq.

Not a creature was stirring, we hadn’t seen jack.

The weapons were stacked by the door within reach,

In hopes that they wouldn’t get sand in the breach.

The troops were all nestled down snug in their cots,
With dreams that next Christmas they’d do Toys for Tots.
And I in my skivvies and woolen watch cap,
Had just settled in for a 40-wink nap.

When out on the fenceline arose a commotion,
I sprang from my rack in a flurry of motion.
I low-crawled my way to the door in a pinch,
And peeked ’round the corner about half an inch.

The moon on the crest of each wind-shifting dune,
Lit the place up damned near bright as was at high noon.
When what to my sand-stinging eyes should appear,
But a gunmetal sleigh and eight armored reindeer.

By the way that he handled the rudder and stick,
I knew that the pilot was Gunny St. Nick.
More rapid than gunships his coursers they came,

And he cursed them all soundly and roll-called each name:

Now Eightball! Now Cowboy! Now Joker! Now Fuller!
Now Nimitz! Now Halsey! Now Dewey! Now Puller!
To the top of the fence! To the top of the wall!
Let’s shag it! Let’s shag it! Let’s move it out ya’ll!!

As targeting lasers reach out in the night,
And hit their objective at speeds close to light
They shot towards the barracks as speedy as hell,
With their cargo intact and the Gunny as well.

And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof,
The synchronized pace of each marking-time hoof.
And before I could guess at the Gunny’s next tricks,
He crashed through the wall in a shower of bricks.

He was dressed all in camo from cap down to boot,
With his uniform tarnished with cordite and soot.
A ginormous ruck he set down on the deck,
And he looked like a MEF just unloading their tech.

His eyes – how they smoldered! His visage – how freaky!
His cheeks red as coals and his nose rather beaky.
His slash of a mouth was decked out in a scowl,
And his whiskers were trimmed like the horns of an owl.

A big chaw of Redman distended his cheek,
And the juice that he spat left his mouth like a streak.
He had a lean face and a great set of abs,

That when he would tense them could crack shells of crabs.

He was stringy and taut, a real tight-ass no foolin’,
And I found myself quaking and just short of droolin’.
With a glance of his eye and a shake of his head,
I figured out soon he was someone to dread.

He said not a peep but got right to his task,
And left the guys goodies for which they’d not ask.
Then grabbing a line that they dropped from the sled,
He climbed like a monkey way high overhead.

He hopped in his cockpit and gave a loud whistle,
And away they all flew like a Patriot missile.
And I heard him exclaim as he took to the sky,
Merry Christmas to all and to all Semper Fi!!!

Jeffrey Hollar

From Jeffrey Hollar –

I am a husband, father, stepfather, veteran, poet & author, and too many other things to consider. I am a writer without genre writing whatever seems to work on any given day. Jeffrey blogs at The Latinum Vault. You can also find him on Twitter.

God bless our men and women in uniform.

Service photos from Photobucket Madcat91 and Huey197.

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“The Magical Tale of Santa Dust,” by Patricia Cardello

The Magical Tale of Santa Dust

The idea for “Santa Dust” and ultimately the book “The Magical Tale of Santa Dust” began when my children were toddlers. At Christmas time I would say to my children, “How is Santa going to know where you live? With all the houses and apartments in the world – how is he going to know which one you live in? He can’t go to them all – he’d never make it to all the children in the world. We have to help guide him along the way.”

So together, we mixed a special combination of glitters and gold stars in different colors, shapes and sizes and put them into plastic bags. We called our creation “Santa Dust.” We would then walk around our neighborhood and sprinkle our magical “Santa Dust” with the hope of guiding Santa and his reindeer to our door. Never fail – Santa would arrive to squeals of delight the next morning.

Our 4:00 p.m. Christmas Eve “Santa Dust” walks became a tradition in our family and neighborhood and took on a life of their own. Every year a few more children were added – each child sprinkling “Santa Dust” with the hope of guiding Santa and his reindeer to their door. I encourage you to make “Santa Dust” a Christmas tradition in your home. Listen while your children tell you their hopes, dreams and desires for Christmas. You will cherish the quality time you spend with them as they sprinkle their magical “Santa Dust” and in the process build memories that will last a lifetime. Years from now your children will take their children on their own “Santa Dust” walks and their children will then take their children and carry the tradition forward.

Patricia reading to youngsters

“Santa Dust” was nominated as one of the 2008 Best New Products of the Year and received the 2009 Seal of Excellence Award.

How I chose my illustrator – I found my brilliant illustrator through a web site called “Elance.” I put the perimeters of the type of illustrator that I was looking for and was overwhelmed with responses. I loved her work from the beginning but she lives and works in Italy and we would have to work over the internet. At first she turned my offer down. After numerous discussions she finally agreed and she brought my story to life in ways that I never imagined. It was destiny to find her and for her to find me.

Patricia Cardello

Patricia Cardello is originally from Providence Rhode Island but now resides with her husband and two children in New York City. She is an actress, writer, entrepreneur and fledgling filmmaker.

The Magical Tale of Santa Dust is the first in a series of books she has written.

See The Magical Tale of Santa Dust website here. You can also find “Magic Dust” on Facebook.

Book Illustrator – Manuela Soriani Portfolio

Profile portrait by Hoberman Studio

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Christmas 1945, Hamburg, Stille Nacht, by Harry Leslie Smith

It snowed on Christmas Eve day. It fell like icing sugar and dusted the city as if it were a stale and crumbling Christmas cake. The peddlers, black marketers, and cigarette hustlers scrambled to finish their commerce before the church bells pealed to celebrate the birth of Christ. Along the St. Pauli district, steam-powered trucks delivered beer and wine to the whorehouses who expected exceptional business from nostalgic servicemen. Across the Reeperbahn, the lights burned bright, while in the refugee camps, the homeless huddled down against the cold, warming themselves with watery soup and kind words provided by visiting Lutherans priests.

The airport was somnolent; the service men charged with keeping it operational were as sluggish as a cat curled up on a pillow before a fire. Outside the communications tower, LACs took long cigarette breaks, draped in their great coats. In between puffs and guffaws, they swapped lewd jokes or tales about their sexual exploits with German women.

The air traffic control nest was unmanned for the next few days. The radio transmitters hummed emotionlessly because the ether above was empty and the clouds ripe for snow. Nothing was expected to arrive or depart until Boxing Day. On the ground, the roadways around the airport were quiet because the fleet of RAF vehicles was stabled at the motor pool for the duration of the holiday. Everywhere, it was still, except on the runway where a platoon of new recruits cleared snow from the landing area.

At the telephone exchange, the switchboard was staffed by a bored skeleton crew who waited for their shift to end. The normal frenetic noise and activity from hundreds of calls being patched and dispatched through the camp to the military world in Germany and Britain was hushed as there were few people left to either place or receive a call. Some communication operators hovered around mute teletype machines, which awoke every hour and furiously printed out wind speed, temperature, and ceiling levels, “For bloody Saint Nick,” someone remarked.

This was a unique Christmas because for the first time since 1938, the entire world was at peace. So anyone who was able took leave and abandoned our aerodrome for a ten-day furlough. For those of us who remained, a Christmas committee was formed to organize festivities. The Yule spirit around camp mirrored row house Britain. It was constructed out of cut-price lager and crate paper decorations with the unspoken motto: “cheap but cheerful cheer in Fuhlsbüttel.” In the mess hall, a giant Christmas tree was erected dangerously close to a wood stove by the Xmas team. They had festooned it with glittering ornaments and placed faux presents underneath its boughs. Sleighs and Father Christmas figures cut from heavy paper were pinned to the walls as festive decorations. Mistletoe dangled from light fixtures and gave our dining hall the appearance of a holiday party at a carpet mill in Halifax.

On the morning before Christmas, I negotiated with the head cook for extra rations for Friede and her family to allow them a holiday meal. The cook was an obliging Londoner whose mastery of culinary arts began and ended with the breakfast fry up. Never one to saying no to sweetening his own pot, the cook amicably took my bribe of tailored shirts in exchange for food. He let me fill my kit bag to bursting with tinned meat, savouries, and sweets.

“Give the Hun a bit of a treat tonight,” he said. “Take the pork pie along with a bit of plum pudding.”

Harry Leslie Smith

Harry Leslie Smith was born in Barnsley Yorkshire in 1923. After a stormy and chaotic youth; he joined the RAF in 1941. Smith eventually ended up in occupied Hamburg Germany at the end of the Second World War. He remained part of the peace time RAF until 1947 whereupon, he married and decamped back to Yorkshire with his new bride. Six years of post war England were enough for Harry and his bride and they decided to emigrate to the greener pastures of Canada.

In Canada, Harry Smith worked in the oriental carpet trade. He specialized in designing and importing unique rug creations from all over the Middle East, the former Soviet Block, and Afghanistan.

Since his time in the second world war, Harry Leslie Smith has been an avid reader and writer; who at 87 has found a keen interest in social media and connecting the stories of his past with contemporary audiences.

Currently, he divides his time between Canada, Great Britain, and Portugal.

Find Harry Leslie Smith’s 1923 site here and blog here.  Harry is also on Facebook and Twitter.

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