Baby New Year’s time is coming

The symbols for the New Year, Father Time and Baby New Year, are polar opposites on the age spectrum.

Father Time is gaunt and haggard, draping about in a long robe, carrying a huge hourglass and a large scythe. The timepiece appears heavy and the scythe definitely looks lethal. The message is clear: “Time’s ticking – get the lead out!”

Baby New Year wears nothing but a diaper, a sash and a top hat. Baby New Year travels light compared to Father Time. Baby New Year has chubby cheeks, pudgy thighs and fat rolls, all of which are adorable. He’s also ready to party! Oh, the joys of youth.

The message of Baby New Year is “fresh start.” It sounds good, but in reality the kid has no idea what lies ahead. There will be food and digestive issues, toileting matters, sleep problems and people yelling, “Get down from that ladder!” and “What are you doing on the counter?”—all of which also may be familiar to the people Father Time is trailing as well.

Surely, there’s something between “time’s up” and “fresh start.” There’s much to be said for the middle ground of having some time and experience behind you and a horizon still somewhere in front of you.

Life is an ever-expanding canvas painted one day at a time. Some days are masterpieces, others look like wild paint splatters, and many are an in-between work in progress.

Nobody knows with certainty how long the canvas will keep unrolling. Some are told it is growing short then find themselves enjoying a serendipitous reprieve. For others the canvas ends with shocking brevity.

Because of the unpredictability of time, some say we should live each day like it is our last. The intensity of such a challenge would be utterly exhausting emotionally, mentally, physically, and nearly impossible, if not outright debilitating. If we truly did live like each day was our last, one of them well could be.

My New Year symbol of choice is a new calendar, page after page of blank spaces waiting to be filled and roomy margins for notations on special events, anniversaries to remember and new memories waiting to be made.

Twelve months, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Each one a gift with countless possibilities.

Let the unwrapping begin.


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The wonder of Christmas stories

My mother used to say she dreaded the day she returned to school after Christmas vacation. The standing assignment in that small country school was to write about their holiday and the gifts they received.

Growing up in a large family during the Depression, her family didn’t always have gifts.

“So, what did you write about?” I asked.

“My many Christmas gifts!” she exclaimed.

My mother never suffered from writer’s block, even as a schoolgirl.

Her story of not having much at Christmas as a child, then growing into a woman who took the holiday over the top and embodied the joy of Christmas, has the hallmarks of a classic Christmas tale.

The good ones grip your heart and bring you to tears—the stories and the storytellers.

O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” is about a young couple strapped for cash. He sells his prized watch to buy a comb for her hair. She sells her beautiful long hair to buy a chain for his watch. The story of sacrifice and love culminates in joy and tears.

In 1965, CBS took a huge gamble airing Charles Schultz’ “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” What many executives thought could well be a dud has become a cherished holiday tradition.

One of the newer additions to our collection of classics is “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.” It belongs under the Grumpy Old Men category. It is the tender story of a woodworker with a cold and grieving heart, melted by the love of a small boy and his mother who ask him to carve a nativity set.

First place in the Grump category will forever belong to Charles Dickens’ Scrooge in “The Christmas Carol.”

All the components of a classic are in place—the haves and the have-nots, the thankful and the unthankful, an awakening from death to life.

Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Match Girl,” is a two-tissue cry. The story about a poor young girl who freezes to death trying to sell matches while beholding a vision of her grandmother escorting her to heaven is a good read and even better antidote for a culture flush with comfort and material goods.

But the true Christmas classic is the oldest one. The story is told in verses, not chapters. The simplicity is stunning.

A peasant couple is alone in a strange town and she is about to deliver a baby.

There are no familiar faces, only the unknown and the uncertain. Finding no place to lodge, an innkeeper directs them to a stable.

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger.”

Nearby, shepherds keeping watch over their flock trembled with fear as a celestial being appeared in the sky declaring, “Do not be afraid; I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Still wondering if they could believe their eyes, a multitude of heavenly hosts joined the angel declaring, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased.”

And so it was, in the dark of night, long ago, in a place far away, stars blazed in the heavens as a baby boy whom angels declared a Savior, was born to a humble couple in a lowly stable.

And that’s not the end of the story—only the beginning.

Nothing tops the original. It is always the best.

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Hey bae, word of the year is absolutely adorbs

One of our granddaughters just asked if I knew Merriam-Webster announced their word of the year.

“No,” I answer. “What is it?”

“Gaslighting,” she says.

“Wonder why they chose that?” I muse.

“Are you kidding?” she yells. “The price of gas! What else?”

“Gaslighting has nothing to do with the price of gas,” I say.

“I think it does!” she says.

We race to the computer (it’s a highly competitive family), go to the Merriam Webster website and begin reading about gaslighting. Her eyes light on an opening paragraph, which she quickly skims. “It says right there ‘2022 saw a 1740 percent increase—’ ”

“Keep reading.”

“Oh—2022 saw a 1740 percent increase in lookups for gaslighting.”

I try to explain what gaslighting means but the best example may be right before us – trying to make someone think what they think isn’t true.

Meanwhile, across the pond, Oxford Dictionaries announced their word of the year is “goblin mode,” which has nothing to do with trick-or-treating or Halloween.

Goblin mode is defined as, “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”

The rise in goblin mode– not bathing or grooming, binging on chips and pizza and living like a slob—is often attributed to excessive use of social media and the pandemic, all of which wonderfully illustrates the principle of goblin mode of not taking responsibility for oneself. Consistency is everything.

In other alpha-developments, Scrabble has added 500 new words to the official Scrabble Dictionary, including – brace yourself—proper nouns like Google and Boricua (a person from Puerto Rico by birth or descent).

Also added is “bae,” which is short for babe with a nod to those in goblin mode lacking the strength to add that second b. Oh, the exhaustion of it all.

Likewise, for those too weary to spell out adorable, “adorbs” has been entered into the Scrabble dictionary.

Another entry Scrabble is allowing, is Fauxhawk, a haircut like a Mohawk, but the hair on top is waxed and pointed toward the front of the head instead of straight up. This one (the word, not the haircut) is exciting, as it contains both a high-scoring x and k.

Another addition of interest is “welp” not to be confused with “whelp” which refers to a dog giving birth. “Welp” is a feeling of weariness and resignation, a combination of “help” and “well.”

Meanwhile, Gaslighting’s younger sibling, listening to our discussion about new words, says, “Grandma, do you know what the last word in the dictionary is?”

“What?” I ask, taking the bait.

“It’s zyzzyva. That’s z-y-z-z-y-v-a; a beetle in South America.”

I had no idea.


I’ll let her have the last word.

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Package delivery a Christmas jumble

Sometimes life simply gets ahead of you. By a few minutes, a few hours, maybe even a day. Or let’s say your entire fall has been action packed and life has gotten ahead of you by weeks.

The holidays arrive with the usual clamor and you wonder if you’ll ever catch up. Your late-night online shopping packages begin arriving. FedEx, UPS, mail carriers, Amazon. Such nice delivery people.

Of course, you know what you ordered so you stack the boxes in the corner of a bedroom and will get to them later.

Time passes, days turn to weeks and later finally arrives.

I pick a box, open it and have no idea what I am looking at. Well, I know I am looking at a pair of shoes and a jacket, but I have no memory of ordering shoes and a jacket.

When did I order this?

Why did I order this?

What else have I ordered that I don’t remember ordering?

Will any live animals or heavy machinery be arriving?

The next thought that comes to mind is: “Do I need Prevagen?”

I wonder if I am really losing it, then put the contents back into the box and see it is addressed to my neighbor.

What a relief, although the relief quickly turns to angst when I realize I have not only opened my neighbor’s package, but it has been sitting in our house for more than two weeks.

Has she been going without shoes and a jacket?

I quickly text her and she texts back “ha-ha” saying she complained to the company weeks ago, and they resent the merchandise. She will return the merchandise that was sitting in our house and says it is no problem. She is most gracious. I only hope the company doesn’t ask for the name and address of her neighbor that was sitting on the goods.

All is well.

Then it hits me. We are going out of town for a few days. Guess who we ask to watch for packages when we are gone? Do I really have the nerve to ask the neighbor whose package I sat on for nearly three weeks if she will keep a watchful eye out for our packages?

Maybe I can strike a deal. I could suggest that she keep our packages at her house for a few weeks, even open a few and see if there’s anything she likes.

She is more than welcome to enjoy the Nerf Blasters or the giant stuffed unicorn. It’s probably been years since she played with a Slinky. Maybe she’d like to make a volcano and watch it blow up.

My neighbor is free to do whatever she likes with the packages. All I ask is that I have them back by December 24th. I’d really appreciate it.


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