Look for the New in 2022

A new year is two weeks underway! Did you make any new goals for 2022? A new goal of mine is to write more fiction stories this year. I find great joy and satisfaction in completing a new short story. Another goal of mine is to read more books this year than last year. In 2021 I read 43. A third goal is to lose around 15 pounds. Let’s cheer each other on in our goals.

Resolutions are too all or nothing for me. When I think of a resolution I think of the idea of giving up something for the religious season of Lent. I’ve never tried to give up anything for the Lent season for 40 days because I’ve always known I would fail within the first week. I resolve to make no more resolutions in the month of January.

What shall the new year bring us? Certainly it will bring us more of what we’ve already experienced in previous years. Although might it also bring us something brand new? Let’s be on the lookout for the new in our lives. We might be fascinated by what we discover!

I hope by this date in 2023 I will be a better writer than I am at this moment and I hope I have the stories and blogs to prove it. I hope a year from now that I’ve read an assortment of excellent novels and books in general of all sorts. I hope I’m down at least 10 pounds. And I hope I keep a hopeful spirit alive in myself always.

2022 has only just begun. Where do we want it to take us? I hope we delight in the journey!

The Final Week Dances On

This week has many fun activities planned in my life’s story. It’s my easy time of year again. For this week and next weekend my Christmas vacation from work dances on. So I’ve been making plans with friends to meet here or there and enjoy each other’s company.

Catching up on some good books are another part of the next seven days. There are two Christmas books I’d like to read and a third young adult novel I’m hoping to finish reading today. Reading is my favorite pastime.

It is time once again to create, to write, my yearly Christmas story. This should be accomplished by the close of the day on Friday. There’s a vague image in my mind as to the plot of this story. From this ghost of a thought a story shall emerge and be born.

Dad and I would like to see the new movie, “Nightmare Alley” but we cannot currently find it playing in our corner of the universe. If it arrives in Carbondale soon then we’ll be there with Christmas joy in our hearts! We haven’t been to many movies these last two years. It will be great fun to get to go again.

The New Year’s Eve plans are in the works. Honestly, I might even stay out until midnight this year. Although I won’t drink too many alcoholic beverages or perhaps none at all. The new year can be a dangerous time on the roads just past the midnight hour.

May this week and the new year find you well and at peace. Count the good and great stuff in life! Look forward to the future more and back to the past less. Put on the fanciest of hats to ring in the new year. Call up an old and dear friend that you don’t get to converse with often. Go out to eat at your favorite restaurant. Take in a film. Write out a resolution (but don’t take it too seriously when you fall short of the goal). Give peace away through your attitude because our world needs more peacefulness. Keep the celebration going!

Enjoy the last week of 2021!

Be Like The Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge

It’s that season of the year when presents are presented. I do enjoy receiving and giving gifts. What are you most hoping to receive this Christmas season? Or what are you excited about giving away? Are you looking forward to some time off of work? Perhaps there are travel plans over the holidays for you. I believe the season of Christmas is a gift in itself.

I love the books and the movies and the parties and the presents and the music of the season. The Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge (before their transformations) cannot get me to dislike Christmas. My yearly cards are all passed or mailed out. I have four more days of work before my vacation days. There will be meetings with family and friends over the break. Being present with loved ones is a present to me.

Let’s go all out and all in for one another this Christmas. Share joy and smiles and kindness. Let’s be like Scrooge and the Grinch after their transformations! We won’t regret it I am confident.

There are many sorrows to count in any season. I hope we grieve and then get on with the serious business of joyful living. ‘Cause there are many happy moments to give thanks for in every season also. Joy and sorrow are parts of the mystery of life.

I hope we choose happiness over gloom all of the seasons of our lives. Happy holidays!

Charles Dickens Leaps Off of the Shelf Once Again

It’s that time of the year again for Christmas festivities. I’ve delivered all of my holiday cards. Now there’s much more to be done. The time to watch Christmas movies and read Christmas books and gift Christmas presents is upon us. I also aim to write a Christmas fiction short story as I’ve done in years past. The holiday season is truly a favorite time of year for me. I take after my father in this regard. We both believe in the majesty of the season.

What books in the spirit of the season might you read throughout this month? Or will you reread some old favorites? Is it time for Charles Dickens to leap off of the shelf once again? I plan to read some short Christmas stories by Dickens throughout the next few weeks. I’m certain they won’t disappoint my imagination.

There’s a new movie on Netflix titled “A Boy Called Christmas”. I read the children’s novel a few years back and thoroughly enjoyed it. I must now see the movie. Perhaps I’ll look into some other films to celebrate this season also. Or maybe I’ll revisit an old favorite flick.

When it comes to presents I attempt to keep the party going all year long. An unexpected gift at an unexpected time is a good idea. During the Christmas season I primarily get presents only for my immediate family members. Although at times I’ll surprise a friend or two with gifts. The idea of having to get someone a present I believe defeats the very nature of the word “gift”. I choose to give because I want to give and not because I feel obliged to give. Giving is beautiful but it isn’t an obligation.

Throughout 2021 I’ve written more blogs than I have fiction stories separate from this blog site. I do plan, however, on writing my yearly Christmas story. I need to get started on it soon! The yearly Christmas story brings me great joy.

Let’s do the stuff this season that brings us joy! There isn’t enough enthusiasm and gratitude and joy in our world. If we want to change this then it begins with ourselves. Let’s get started!

When a Christmas Card is More Than Merely a Card

2008 was the first year I gave out Christmas cards. That season I bought a pack of 8 Christmas pop-up cards by legendary pop-up book and card maker Robert Sabuda. I recall the cards had a mouse in a festive red hat popping out of a Christmas stocking with joy on his face. Giving out those cards brought me tremendous gladness.

I continued the card giving tradition every new Christmas season until the year of 2020. Alas, Robert Sabuda did not create a new pop-up card design last year. Without the legendary Sabuda I was discouraged regarding Christmas cards and I did not purchase any or pass any out to friends.

Well, a new holiday season is happening and I’m happy to report I mailed off 12 pop-up cards earlier today. I had a total of 16 cards to give out this season. The cards consist of two different designs by two different artists. Robert Sabuda once again did not create a new card design for 2021. One of the pop-up designs is a gingerbread man driving a holiday train. The other is of two polar bears (a parent and a child in the moonlight).

The funny thing is I’ve had these 16 cards since January! So greatly did I miss giving out Christmas cards last year that I resolved I must take up the tradition again for 2021. I’ve waited 11 months to gift these cards that are so neat and majestic. If my friends take half of the joy in receiving them that I have found in giving them then my job is complete.

We should all do the stuff in life that makes us feel most alive. Hobbies should be pursued with passion. Gifts should be gifted with enthusiasm and love. At Christmastime it truly is greater to give than to receive.

If there’s a favorite holiday tradition of yours that you neglected last year I sincerely hope that you discover it again anew this season. I wish you the happiest of seasons! Break out the music or bake the cookies or give the presents or mail the card or do whatever makes you and others happy this holiday season.

Happy holidays to all and to all a good day!

A Small Diner on the Eve of A Holiday

It was the eve of Thanksgiving and the diner was the opposite of full. Eddie was counting his blessings as he counted the other diner’s guests. He counted three others enjoying their meals. The diner would be closing soon in about fifteen minutes time. On the eve of Thanksgiving old Eddie knew he had that in his life’s story to be thankful about.

The sausage and cheddar omelette had been pretty tasty. The biscuit had also been at least a seven out of ten on a numbered scale of best biscuits in town. The coffee wasn’t the greatest, but it never had been at this particular diner. Eddie expected the coffee to be bad and he was never disappointed. Do all old people like breakfast at night as much as I do? Eddie wondered.

At age 88 Eddie had seen it all. Nothing fooled him anymore except his memory. He did, however, remember his wallet this time. Then he thought it was probably time to pay up since the place would be closing soon. A waitress arrived at his table with a smile. She asked if he was all done and ready for the check. Eddie returned the smile with a nod.

A couple of minutes later the waitress was back at the table and Eddie thought of a good question to ask on the eve of Thanksgiving. “What is one of the things you are most thankful for in the entire world?” he asked the waitress.

“It is Thanksgiving tomorrow I suppose,” she said with a joyful voice. “I’d have to say that I’m truly thankful for people like you. I mean, seriously, you must stop in at this little diner three times a week on an off week for you. You’re always pleasant and you always tip well. You never complain if something is wrong with your order. No, you just politely explain that you ordered wheat bread instead of white bread. You smile consistently. Quite honestly sometimes it’s hard to wait on people ’cause people can be the best but they can also be the worst. Some folks get the wrong bread and you’d think it was the apocalypse by the way they act. Yes, I am thankful for you Eddie and for others like you because you make the world a better place for all restaurant servers and probably for many others as well.”

Old Eddie was speechless. All he could do was smile for a few moments. Then he found his voice again. “Thank you so very much for your kind words,” he said. “I’m thankful for this moment in time and for what tomorrow may bring.”

“A happy Thanksgiving to you, Eddie.”

Eddie read her name tag because his memory wasn’t what it once was. “Happy Thanksgiving to you also, Jackie.”

O, Monday Where is Your Sting?

Monday has lost its work grip on me! My new weekends are Sundays and Mondays off from my job with Morris Library at SIUC. When I started at Morris Library a couple of months back I did not realize how much I would enjoy being off of work on Mondays. I sort of feel like I’m skipping school to go hang out with my friends and get into shenanigans. Alas, I am not Ferris Bueller from the 80’s film that bears his name. Although I do greatly enjoy my day of the work week off of work.

So Sunday night is the new Saturday night. I must admit not as much is happening on Monday’s eve whenever I go out and about on the town. The bars are not packed. My local beloved bookstore closes early. My friends are getting ready for the start of the work week. But as for me? I’m living large!

Tuesday morning is so far away!

What about Tuesday morning though? I do not dread Tuesday. Tuesday is fun also; it’s just another sort of fun. The reason it’s a good time is because my new job is my favorite position I’ve held with Southern Illinois University Carbondale. This is a bold and big statement because I’ve worked for the university for 13 years.

I fell in love with books at around age 18. Books have improved my quality of life and in many ways saved me. I wanted to work at the campus library way back in 2008 whenever I was finishing up my degree in English. 13 years later I received the job interview I’d tested for in 2008.

Morris Library has always been my favorite building and hangout spot on campus. As a student I visited the library every day I was on campus and I visited the recreation center approximately never. Ha-ha, I exercised my mind, but I failed to exercise my body.

I suspect many of us would frown about having off Mondays instead of Saturdays. But I’m not one of the frowners! Truly, to have two days in a row off of any job is to have a special deal. So I am smiling on this beautiful Monday afternoon. And Tuesday morning I welcome with joy!

Cheers for Dad

All of us only get one holiday a year that we can truly claim as our holiday. Of course I am referring to birthdays. My family makes a large deal out of birthdays. Let’s just say that if our birthdays were a coffee beverage from Starbucks the size would be venti every time. Venti or don’t even bother with the coffee! Go large or don’t go at all! Happy (insert your favorite cuss word here) birthday!

Yesterday my father turned the age of 64. My family and I went all out for Dad. Dad’s presents included new pajamas, a marvelous bracelet, a new Norah Jones Christmas album, a Newman (from the Seinfeld TV show) action figure and a glass of wine at the movie theater we frequented in St. Louis. Other people showed up for Dad on his birthday as well. He received birthday cards and many wishes of birthday joy on facebook. Cheers for Dad!

We took a day trip to St. Louis in honor of the birthday. My brother and Dad and I saw a movie titled “Lamb” in the Plaza Frontenac mall. We all three enjoyed the film. Mom checked out a spy movie. After the movie I bought some licorice from a chocolate shop that comes in the shape of Scottish Terriers. They were delicious and there are still some left today! After our movies we went to a fine Italian restaurant where the food was five stars on the five star scale. I had a Tom Collins to drink and a chicken dish that was outstanding. The rest of the family thoroughly enjoyed the experience also.

Dad and I are alike in a lot of ways really. One of those ways is that we greet each new anniversary of our birth with unashamed joy. Congratulations to us because we made it another year! Break out the cake! Bring in the presents! Plan the party! Where’s the camera? Where are the cards? What is life itself if it is not a joyful dance of sorts?

So I’ve said this to say happy birthday to my dad. I thank him for showing me that life is meant to be lived with gusto and joy instead of endured with drudgery or sorrow. Sad stories can be sold elsewhere. We have zero interest in buying them yesterday, today or tomorrow. No, we are too busy eating cake and traveling to our next destination.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Hoodie Weather

Do you have a favorite hat or shirt or pair of blue jeans? One of the reasons I look forward to the season of fall is my love of hooded sweatshirts. I’ve owned a couple of my hoodies for over a decade! My hoodies in total number 7. My favorite is a green one that’s traveled the world and around Carbondale with me.

I am enjoying the recent change in the temperature in Carbondale. Lately it’s been a little cooler outside. I don’t know that I’m ready for icy conditions or bitter cold yet, but I am ready for cool. The next couple of months will be time for my hoodies to display their bright array of colors.

I’m sentimental about getting rid of clothes. Truly, I wear my clothes until they’re falling apart. Hawaiian shirts are hanging on still from my eighth grade year of school. Hoodies from my mid-twenties still have life in them. Button up shirts from Lucky Brand Jeans are still buttoning up after over 10 years. I’m a saver and I save my clothes until they’re no longer salvageable.

We should celebrate our favorite items! These items could be an old CD or an old vinyl record or a camera from years past or a childhood action figure or a favorite pair of jeans. Material items certainly aren’t all there is to life, but I do believe in taking good care of my stuff. I celebrate my hoodies and I rejoice in the season of fall!

Enjoy this season and the change in weather and don’t forget to break out your favorite clothes.

Pints With Ray Bradbury

I wasn’t always a dedicated reader. As a child and as a teenager I had little time for books. Around the age of eighteen is when I chose to begin giving books the attention they deserved. I’ve been a consistent reader and lover of literature for around twenty years now.

Controversial books can be some of the most exciting to explore. Any book can be controversial to someone though. I’ve read both the Old Testament and New Testament in the Bible and this particular book of books took me around 16 years to complete. There were parts that I passed over and neglected for the longest time. The Bible can be an inspiring and disturbing read. It might just be a minor miracle that I ever made it all the way through its pages.

I owe a great debt to books because they’ve enriched my life so tremendously. The right books at the right time have read me right back as I’ve read them. As a melancholy boy I imagined a happier life ahead and books helped me to find that life. For this I’ll always be grateful.

Do you have a favorite book or author? What writer would you most like to have a coffee or a pint with? What if they turned out to be boring or not at all like their writings? Would you leave the coffee on the table and walk away?

My favorite author is Ray Bradbury because his writings helped lead me to the love of many more writings. He passed away in 2012. Perhaps in another life I’ll buy him a pint and toast it to him and to eternity. A conversation with Ray Bradbury is one I would not walk away from.

Do you believe that the best books read us right back? Or do you think that reading can save lives? Do you read books once or do you visit the same book many times over?

I’m three books away from having read 700 books throughout my lifetime according to my goodreads page. My lifetime goal is to read over 2,000 books. I’m on my way!

Please join me as a fellow reader. Let’s not walk away from books. Let’s give them the respect and attention they rightfully deserve.