Christmas Eve

“Јакшылыкту таҥла (Ĵakšılıktu tañla)”, or “Good Morning!”in Altay, a Turkic language spoken mainly in the Altai republic and Altai Krai in the Russian Federation. It is Day 280 since the first California Lock Down. We just started to vaccinate healthcare people this week. There are 26 days more days of national shame to endure (Inauguration Day!).

I really enjoy the holidays. I love giving presents and the wonderful meal and goodies associated with Christmas. I guess I like everything about it except the decorations part. Doing the tree was pretty much always fun, especially when we did real trees (except taking them down). But I never liked doing the outside decorations. And of course everyone else did. So most every year I would be on the ladder stringing lights along the gutters and in the bushes. One year my wife hired a couple of college kids to do it. But this year we just didn’t do the outside but inside, Jess and the kids did up the whole house. I have to admit, it is definitely is more festive up in here!!

The other thing I like about this season, is we get to hear from everyone. Between the Christmas cards, holiday newsletters and phone call we touch base with most of our friends and relatives throughout the world. I feel so grateful for the friends we have made along the way.

This week I learned some stuff:
• The USPS lied to me, in a good way. They said they would deliver our packages by Wednesday or Thursday but most arrived on Tuesday! Way to go USPS.
• One of art my classmates called me up after he received the last UJT Update. He had just been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. His doctor told him that there are several studies being conducted to try to find an effective treatment that can stop or maybe even repair this disease. This disease is a terrible malady for anyone but my art class friend creates so many amazing visual art pieces…it has to be particularly scary. Do your due diligence, down load the Amsler grid and put it on your fridge and set an appointment in your calendar to test your self at least once a month. It just takes a minute and can help you control it before it impacts your vision.

• December 24th is the 359th day of the year (because 2020 is a leap year – but tomorrow is Christmas!). Today in 1777, Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, is discovered by James Cook; On this day in 1818, the first performance of “Silent Night” takes place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.; Today in 1826, the Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy begins that night, wrapping up the following morning; In 1851, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., burns.; On this day in 1865, Jonathan Shank and Barry Ownby form The Ku Klux Klan; Today in 1906, Reginald Fessenden transmits the first radio broadcast; consisting of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech; In 1913, the Italian Hall disaster in Calumet, Michigan results in the deaths of 73 Christmas party participants (including 59 children) when someone falsely yells “fire”; On this day in 1943, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower is named Supreme Allied Commander for the Invasion of Normandy; Today in 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 enters into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed ten lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures; Baby Dodds, American jazz drummer was born today in 1898; Joseph M. Juran, Romanian-American engineers, businessman and champion of production process quality was born today in 1904; Howard Hughes, American businessman, engineer, and pilot was born today in 1906; Ava Gardner, American actress was born today in 1922; Mary Higgins Clark, American author was born today in 1927; Anthony Fauci, American physician, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 was born today in 1940; John Muir, Scottish-American geologist, botanist, and author, founded Sierra Club died today in 1914; Flying Hawk, American Lakota warrior, educator and historian died today in 1931; Peter Lawford, English-American actor passed today in 1964; And finally, Peyo, Belgian cartoonist, created “The Smurfs” today in 1992.

Website Update:
This week we made the following changes:
• Last week for the UJT Vocabulary Quiz
• A New Musical Trivia Quiz!!!! Whoo Hoo!
• This week I didn’t add any new recipes.

Writing, Ceramics, Stained Glass and Painting Update:
• My stained glass project turned out to be an excellent demonstration as to just how much more practice I need to do this thing well.
• This week I managed to miss my watercolor classes again!
• Grandpa Stories is still not re-published.

• This week seems a big week for milestones. On Wednesday, December 23rd, 1972 my life changed forever. On that cold winters night, I met the woman of my dreams and my lifelong companion. We all arrived in the Lums across from the Coconut Grove Park about the same time. For me it was one of those cinematic moments when we locked eyes across the crowded restaurant. I was growing up. I was home on leave from the Navy and feeling nostalgic. As I was taking off my peacoat and staring, my younger brother, Pat called out to them. He knew the girl who was with Tippy snd introduced us. We grabbed a table, and while Pat and Button’s were catching up, my future wife and I mostly just looked at each other. Both Pat and Buttons had other plans for their respective companions and neither were very happy when I invited them to go with us on a driving tour of my past. So we drove around all that cold night in my rented Pinto, exploring places that were important to me growing up in Miami. I told all the stories about each place and I took her home just as the sun was rising. By the time we kissed for the first time, I was well into the love of my life. That was 48 years ago this week. We have had many ups and downs since then but we did them together all over the planet. I would love to do it all over again.
• Ever since I was a little boy, I always felt sorry for people who had their birthdays around Christmas or Hanukkah. Those kids always got the dreaded “combo” presents. I got a few too my birthday was in June so sometimes I got combo graduation/birthday presents but only a couple of times. I also thought the Jewish kids got a lot more days off from school than the rest of us. They go all our holidays and some more special ones just for them. This week Billy Gibbons, ZZ Top guitarist and all round cool bearded guy turned 71. Tomorrow, Jimmy Buffet will celebrate his 74th birthday as well.

Music Update:

Once again, your fossilized DJ takes you on another meander through the dusty cobwebs of my music library. This week selections are my attempt to brighten your holidays with a very eclectic mix of songs for nights with too much eggnog or those with not enough. Happy Holidays to you all!

This week’s UJT Radio Program:
• Johnny Mathis — The Christmas Song — This man has one of the most beautiful voices!!! This is from his 1958, “Merry Christmas” album.
• Jimmy Buffett — Sailor’s Christmas — This Buffetesque Christmas carol comes from his “Christmas Island” album released by the birthday boy in 1996.
• James Taylor — Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas — This is one of my favorite cuts from her new album, “Evermore” that was released this week. I think every one has momIt kind of snuck up on me. As I was exploring this lovely record, I discovered that she had released “Folklore” back in July.
• Mitch Miller and the Gang — Winter Wonderland — As a boy I used to “Sing Along With Mitch” which was a tv show from 1961-1964. This song came out on his “Holiday Sing Along” album released in 1961. Most of us only heard this some as background music at the mall.
• Gene Autry — Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer — This is the most famous version of this old standard. It was recorded in June of 1949.
• John Lennon, The Harlem Community Choir and the Plastic Ono Band — Happy Christmas (War Is Over) — Since this came out as a single in time for Christmas in 1971, I loved it. I guess even though I had never heard “Happy” vs “Merry” Christmas, it seemed like the perfect hippie holiday song. Especially, with a back up choir from Harlem! Perry Como never got that lucky!

That’s it… Do the best you can;  Laugh every chance you get;  And always remember …  The best is yet to come!  As always, thank you for being my friend!