Holiday Greetings from Tin Can Gulch

I’ve spent a lot of time this holiday season listening to old Christmas CDs on an even older RCA boom box. Feel free to judge me. I warrant each rebuke! Not being an audiophile, I failed to upgrade to an MP3 player, much less an iPod or one of the myriad of musical apps now available for smartphones.

Regardless of what audio technology you’re using, there’s something special about Bing Crosby singing White Christmas or Burl Ives doing A Holly Jolly Christmas. It’s hard to beat Brenda Lee belting out Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree or Nat King Cole crooning The Christmas Song, although Johnny Mathis certainly comes close with his version of “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”

I’ve listened to so many Christmas songs over the years that it occurred to me, as I sat listening again this holiday season, that a Christmas song title (with my favorite artist’s rendition in parentheses) could probably be used to describe the highlights of my past year. So here goes…

Let’s start with Last Christmas (Wham!). I had a really Blue Christmas (Elvis) as I spent Christmas night in the ER suffering, not from an eggnog overdose, but The World’s Hardest Kidney Stone. When It Came Upon the Midnight Clear (Mormon Tabernacle Choir), I felt like grandma must have when Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (Elmo & Patsy).

The medical fun continued through April, with multiple outpatient visits to pummel my kidney with shock waves, costing plenty of Silver and Gold (Burl Ives), interspersed with a couple more ER visits due to an allergic reaction to an antibiotic that had my head ringing like Carol of the Bells (Pentatonix) and the rest of my body feeling like I Farted on Santa’s Lap (The Little Stinkers).

Not to be deterred, I, along with John, Shannon, Megan and a couple of Megan’s friends, joined a million others in January for the Women’s March on Washington. It was amazing and humbling to see what democracy looks like up close and personal.

Do You Hear What I Hear? (Andy Williams). I hear women all over the country demanding some R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Aretha Franklin). Oops, wrong genre! But you get the point – as did those who joined me live or later on Facebook for a nine-part series, “Being a Woman in Today’s World,” that I facilitated for Seniors Enriched Living in Roswell. I’ll be continuing the discussion in January/February 2018.

After marching in D.C., John, accompanied by John Jr., hiked in a Winter Wonderland (Frank Sinatra) along the Appalachian Trail until his knees cried “Uncle!” on mile 362. In May, I journeyed to Virginia to join him in providing moral support, and the occasional hot meal and warm, dry bed, for James and Tiana who braved the trail for a few weeks after graduating college. Both have now joined the rank and file of the fully employed. Joy to the World! (Doug Hammer)

Speaking of new jobs, sons #2 and #3 have taken career turns. Trevor moved his family (including our one-and-only grandchild, William – the sweetest and The Littlest Angel (Bing Crosby) ever!) to Montreal last year where he now frequently tells his wife, Eleanor, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Montreal, it seems, is even more frigid than their former abode in Krakow.

Meanwhile, Rollin pursued his dream and transitioned from IT manager to flight instructor and private pilot this year. Thus far, he hasn’t had to share air space with Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Gene Autry), but it’s early in his flight career.

Shannon and I headed to Florida in May for a little Breath of Heaven (Amy Grant). I used the late spring and summer to recover my strength and to try to pick up my writing pace, even though my illness and the death of my father in early June combined to form a long Silent Night (Sinead O’Connor) that stole my energy and stuffed my creativity Away in a Manger (John Denver). Consequently, I’m not as far along on novel deux as I had planned.

Yet, just like The Holly and the Ivy (Mediaeval Baebes) spring eternal, so does my capacity to persist. Life can be like a bumpy Sleigh Ride (Leroy Anderson), but it’s the jolts along the way that give us perspective, enabling us to more fully embrace life’s joy when a smooth ride spurs us to sing like Angels We Have Heard on High (Third Day).

John and Tiana journeyed to Dublin, London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Ibiza and Hamburg in late summer, while Megan, Shannon and I made like We Three Kings (The Roches) and trekked to The Netherlands in August to get Megan settled in for graduate school at the University of Amsterdam. During my absence, John grabbed John Jr. to Deck the Hall (Nat King Cole) in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the Ukraine.

My bestie, Margo, joined us in Amsterdam. After a week sightseeing and getting Megan situated, we left my girls to their own devices and peeled off to check out Northern Europe. We toured Norway – the ancestral home of Leroy the Redneck Reindeer (Joe Diffie) — by train, bus and boat; then hopped a plane to Copenhagen. You might think Good King Wencelas (The Irish Rovers) was a Dane, but actually he was a Czech. To make things even more confusing, the carol’s music originated in Finland. Suffice it to say, it’s a Northern Europe thang and that part of the world is lovely!

The fall found John and I traveling to the west coast with our British pals, Robert and Pat. RVing with friends is almost as fun as the night Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney (Ella Fitzgerald). We traversed close to 10,000 miles of this grand country, visiting many of our fabulous national parks and lots of sites in between.

It was already A Marshmallow World (Dean Martin) in Yellowstone by late September and Sequoia gave new meaning to O Tannebaum (Vince Guaraldi Trio). All the parks are true treasures, but O Come All Ye Faithful (Anne Murray) to Zion, one of the big three in Utah. It’s simply spectacular.

Given that Christmas starts right after Halloween these days, we timed the end of our camping excursion to see us Home for the Holidays (Perry Como). Traveling is wonderful, but The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Andy Williams) is time spent with family. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas in Dixie (Alabama) or Christmas in Killarney (Bing Crosby) with those you hold dear, here’s hoping you Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Judy Garland).

Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano)!

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