Posted in Children, Christmas, Coffee, Model Trains

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Just to make sure I don’t get nailed for copyright infringement, this is obviously a photo of the “Muppets Christmas Carol” when Marley and Marley come to heckle Scrooge. I love the part in the movie when Scrooge is apprenticed at Fozziwig and Mom’s Rubber Chicken Factory, and Fozziwig was going to make a speech. The two old hecklers in the balcony hollered, “It’s time for us to take a nap!” Fozziwig’s speech was something like, “Merry Christmas to everyone!” The Marleys said, “That was dumb! It was short! We loved it!!”

You often hear about the Christmas season being one of the most depression-causing times of the year. There are statistically more heart attacks on Christmas Eve than any other day of the year. What the heck?! It’s probably easy to figure out why.

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time, maybe unconsciously, trying to recreate all of the cherished feelings of Christmases past. I think I’m not alone. It becomes exhausting, trying to make everything just perfect, like our memories faithfully recall, so that we can relive all of the best moments once again. The problem is it’s impossible. The past can’t be brought back, recreated, or experienced again. Every moment and experience is brand new, nothing is exactly the way it used to be. That’s not negativity or sarcasm, it’s the truth. And the longer we spend and the energy we waste trying to do something that can’t be done, the more likely it is the actual result will be depression and maybe worse.

Enough therapy, it’s time to remember some fun things.

Most boys at some time want a BB gun, and I was no different. Our dad was an avid hunter, so I naturally wanted to follow. I think I was ten when my wish came true. On Christmas morning I first opened a heavy box that was filled with little packs of BBs that looked like shotgun shells. That was the neatest thing ever. The BB gun I received made an annoying “pinnnggg” sound that was supposed to be like a ricochet. It wasn’t. But it was a BB gun, and I loved it. We spent Christmas Day in the basement shooting at plastic army men with the backdrop of a big box with a quilt folded up inside to catch the BBs.

Another great gift my brother got was a slot-car race track. With super-realistic video games that put you in the driver’s seat of a race car, it’s hard to imagine kids today being interested in slot-car racing, but back then it was the best! We had that track for many years and wore it out.

A gift my sister and I still laugh about was her EasyBake Oven. How I loved it! Yes, I meant to say “I”. My young sister, obviously, had to be shown how to do everything, so I did it for her. We made all of the goodies that first Christmas Day and just about made ourselves sick eating all of the little pies and cakes. (I just thought of something. That EasyBake Oven is probably why I love baking so much and now have people hollering “enough already!!” because all the sweets I made will probably last til April).

Reading back over the paragraph about the BB gun reminded me of the year, I think I was seven, that I received two six-shooters in a holster, designed after the old TV show, “Have Gun Will Travel”. Oh my gosh!! The basement was blue with smoke from the rolls of caps we shot at each other all afternoon! I’m amused how often I see six-shooters like that in antique stores. Until I finally got a BB gun, I took my holster and six-guns on hunting trips with our dad.

One last favorite. When I was fifteen I received my first HO scale train set. For the unaware, HO actually means “half-O”. O scale is the size of Lionel trains. I prefer HO, because, to me and many others, it’s more realistic, and doesn’t take up as much space. That Christmas was fifty years ago, but I still love HO trains, and am getting ready to build another big layout in the basement of our new home. And, by the way, we model railroaders do not “play trains” and we don’t care how fast they go, so don’t ask! They are not train sets, they are layouts. Now that we’ve settled that, I’ll move on.

Merry Christmas.

I think it’s time for coffee.

Posted in Coffee

Ruled by Coffee

So what is this obsession with coffee?  It’s actually my dear wife’s fault.  We started dating on March 5, 1971.  We’ve been together ever since.  It was Mary who helped me see the light, and gently led me to a life of coffee.

I actually had my first cup when I was five.  My mother was an obsessive coffee drinker, and she let me have a little antique cup filled mostly with milk, and a little coffee and sugar.  I was hooked, but it wasn’t until all of those years later that coffee finally took a permanent hold.  As school years progressed, I would come home and find the cups of cold coffee mom left all over the house, and I drank them, dust particles and all.

When Mary and I began dating, coffee became part of our companionship.  Everything went better with coffee.  Oh, I obviously liked it before, but having this new beautiful girl in my life just made coffee taste that much better.  It was just so special having a hot cup, with cream and sugar, with her.  No matter where we’ve been, coffee was part of the journey.

Now, so many years later, coffee is still a part of our home, and always will be.  Coffee answers so many important questions, it’s a wonder why there are actually people who not only don’t drink it, but can’t even stand the smell of it.  What questions?  Easy.  What should I do when I feel depressed?  Drink coffee.  When I’m happy?  Drink coffee.  When I’m bored?  Drink coffee.  When I’m confused?  Drink coffee.  Excited?  Coffee.  Broke? Coffee.  Sick?  Coffee.  Procrastinating? (Pay close attention here, this is a real important one.)  Yes.  Coffee.  Procrastinators, especially, understand the life-giving, redeeming, rescuing, obsolving qualities of coffee.

If you don’t believe me, just take a quick look at the multi-billion dollar coffee industry, just in the U.S. alone!  What are they selling?  It’s not just a drink, it is the coffee experience that no other beverage can provide.  Water sure doesn’t do it, soda can’t, fruit juices, nope, booze doesn’t even come close.  Coffee.  The coffee hounds realized that coffee mesmerizes, hypnotizes, solves, mends, heals, sedates, and fixes.

During the holiday season, it is coffee that makes the twinkling lights brighter, Christmas trees smell fresher, gift buying and present wrapping (ugh) fun!  Christmas would not be Christmas without coffee.  Forget the egg nog and champagne.  Forget the cases of soda.  Just go crank up the percolator, drip, press, osmosis, instant (what??!  No, never instant!) coffee.  Sit back, let the aroma lift you to new heights of joy.  Afterwards, there is only one thing left to say.

Can I have another cup?

 

Posted in Outdoors

Country Fun

We love spending time outdoors, especially when we’re with family.  One of my favorite things to photograph is pathways.  There is just something about a path that is inviting.  All kinds of captions could be added at the bottom…the path and the destination are yours…where will your path lead you?  All kinds of things.

Michigan colors are unbeatable, in my opinion.  I know there are many beautiful places across the country, but we grew up in the great state of Michigan, and we’re thankful to still be here after all these years.  We have lived in other states, but always felt the pull back to Michigan.

Recently, we were with family in Tennessee and had the opportunity to visit the Gentry Farm.  What a beautiful day it was!  Lots of people enjoyed going to the farm to see the animals and end the visit by picking out a terrific pumpkin.  There are several old trucks that bring back lots of memories.

Tennessee is also a beautiful state, and we sometimes dreamed of retiring there.  Well, we’re already retired, and living happily in Michigan.  Tennessee is not too far away to visit, so we go whenever we can.  It helps that we have two sons and their families living there.

As long as coffee is involved, I’m up for going anywhere.  The trip is always made better with a mocha latte, extra hot, extra shot of espresso.

Speaking of coffee, I need more.

– Dale Parsons