Holiday Stories & Articles

Jul. 3, 2021

How does the past affect the present day? Let’s reflect…

The Boston Tea Party, a disagreement over the taxation of tea, ignited the American Revolution in 1773. King George III, of England, was taxing us to death, but would not give us legal representations in spite of our paying the increased tax hike. The final straw came when he taxed us for tea. Animosities from the king erupted over us dumping 342 crates of his overly-taxed tea into the Boston Harbor. Like the king, our people over here began to unite and prepare to fight a war.

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere was credited with his famous ride warning us of the great peril we were soon to be faced with – the British were coming. The following day, the Battles of Concord and Lexington began and marked the first day of the American Revolution.

The following year, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and a few of our other forefathers composed a document that would declare our freedom from King George III of England. On July 4th, 1776, this document was signed and put into effect. John Hancock, being the first to sign, signed with a large signature stating, “I want to be sure that King George sees it.” Henceforth, this document became known as, The Declaration of Independence.

Patrick Henry, who often spoke on the issues of liberty, believed in our fight. His famous speech that ended in “give me liberty or give me death,” is still an inspiration today. The town’s people also believed in our rights to freedom and showed their support by naming their children Freedom or Liberty.

In the end, once Lord Charles Cornwallis sent his messenger to surrender to General George Washington, and the document of our independence was signed, we celebrated with a display of fireworks. Thirteen rockets were shot into the sky, each one a representation of the 13 colonies. And so it’s been every year for well over 200 years that we give a display of fireworks to show that as a nation, as an independent country, we fought for our freedom and our way of life.

In light of current events, the question begs to be asked, “Will history repeat itself and are we headed for another Revolutionary War?”

Nevertheless, it is still in my heart that each year we should continue to offer this display of fireworks for our country, for those who have died to protect us and our God-given freedoms. It is a symbol of unity to stand tall and proud and continue our fight for a free life with liberty and justice for all.

On a side note, I thought this was pretty interesting: In the days of yore, when we were segregated as Loyalists (those who supported the king) and Patriots (those who supported freedom from English rule), Deborah Sampson dressed in men’s clothing and joined the Continental Army as Robert Shirtliff. She joined in 1782 and was discovered 17 months later, in 1783.

However, the discovery was to her benefit. Not only did she get an honorable discharge from the Army, but she went down in history as the first woman to fight in a war. She brought a new meaning to the term, be all that you can be.

Feb. 12, 2021

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorites. It fills me with spectacular thoughts of flowers and chocolate. Mmm! Especially chocolate. But from where did Valentine’s originate and how is it meant for the purposes of today’s time… romance?

I did some digging and this is what I found:

During the 3rdcentury, Roman Emperor Claudius II had decided to outlaw marriage because he thought single men would make better soldiers for his army. St Valentine went behind his back and continued to marry couples and when Claudius II found out, he ordered him to be put to death.

Another “Valentine” who defied Claudius II was a bishop in the Roman church. He helped prisoner’s escape Rome after they’d been given unreasonable and harsh punishments by the Emperor (Claudius II). He was ordered to be beheaded.

It was during the 5thcentury AD that Roman’s celebrated the Lupercalia Festival in the middle of February every year. The festival was to celebrate three things – 1) the coming of Spring, 2) fertility rites and ceremonies, and 3) men and women were often paired off by a lottery for the purposes of matrimony.

The name was changed to Valentine’s Day near the end of the 5th century by Pope Gelasiusin honor of the patron saint, Valentine (which one?). Although, it’s not clear as to which Saint the day was named for as both men had been martyred, history does show that no matter which saint, the 14this to commemorate the death of these men. Hence the name, Valentine’s Day.

Valentine greetings and salutations can be accounted for as far back as the Middle Ages, but the first written greeting happened in the 15th century by Charles, Duke of Orleans. He sent one to his wife. And would you believe, King Henry V had one written for his wife, Catherine of Valios?

Cupid, or Eros, is used in celebrations as he points his love-filled arrows at unsuspecting lovers. Flowers are given because of the Lupercalia Festive as it does celebrate the upcoming Spring season (and fertility). As for chocolate? Who cares, just give me the box and I’ll be happy!

These historical events set the traditions that we have for today. Children pass out their mini-greeting cards and candy, lovers make special dinner dates with each other, flowers are sent, marriage proposals and engagement rings given. In fact, Valentine’sDay is the second most popular day to get engaged, or married on… second to Christmas Day.

Most florist report they sell more flowers and arrangements on Valentine’s Day than any other day of the year. Candy stores sell a lot, too, but I believe I read somewhere that Easter shadows Valentine’s Day… that silly rabbit.

So in summation of my own history lesson, it is a historical event. I’d like to wish everyone a very happy and loving day. Don’t forget to hug everyone you see, kiss everyone you love, wish them well and please, remember to tell everyone dear to you that you love them. It’s always a soothing and comforting thing to hear: “I love you! Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Mar. 24, 2017

I remember going to visit the Easter Bunny when I was eight years old. My mother had allowed me to wear my Easter dress for pictures with him. I can still recall the dress. Unlike the traditional pastel colors, this was a simple yellow and white colored dress with a white sash belt attached to the skirt. In the center of the sash was a big yellow flower. I wore my white tights and black patent leather Mary Janes.

I had to be very careful putting on my tights and very careful while wearing them so as not to run them. They were the only pair I was going to have. I needed to take care of them for Easter so I could wear them again.

My mother had even rolled up my hair the night before so I could wear a new hair-do with my Easter outfit. I took meticulous care while dressing and even though I did not care for the results of my hair-do, I made very sure every hair was in place before leaving for the mall.

We went to Woodville Mall for the event. It was an hour before I was finally al-lowed to go stand in line with the other children to have my picture taken. Mom had drug me up and down the aisles many times past him, as she did all of her shopping. At last, she sat down on one of the benches and told me to go ahead and get in line.

I realize now that this was no easy feat for my mother as she was close to 450lbs. Just getting her to leave the house was a task much less walking around in a mall for an hour. They did not have motorized carts and scooters back in those days. Everything was a ‘get up and move on your own’ kind of thing.

I don’t know how long I was in line. It was probably about ten minutes, but to an anxious eight year old child who had anticipated this very moment, it felt like two hours. Either way, Mom had decided it was too much time for her to wait any longer and called me over to her.

As I approached she said, “I’m really tired so why don’t we go home and come back another time to get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny?”

If memory serves, I think Easter was going to be that coming Sunday and as I said, it was not easy to get my mother to leave the house. So I knew my chances were slim on her bringing me back. Then I thought to myself, what’s wrong with this woman? Is she crazy? I’m all dressed up for this. I even slept with curlers in my hair last night so I could take these pictures with the Easter Bunny. She’s got to be kidding me!

“No, I want to do it now while we’re here,” I answered, as all of these thoughts ran through my head simultaneously.

My mother sighed heavily and said, “But he’s not even real!”

Now, let’s be clear. I am no dummy. I could plainly see, as could any other levelheaded child, that whoever was sitting on the Easter Bunny’s throne was not real. However, I also rationalized that the Easter Bunny needed help so he sent out all of these imposters to pose for pictures while he stayed back at the Bunny Hutch preparing for his big day. Sheesh! Anyone with half a brain knew that!

I turned and looked back at the fake Easter Bunny and then back to my mother. “I know he’s not real, Mom, but I still want to get my picture taken with him.”

“It isn’t just that he’s not real,” she mused. “The Easter Bunny is not real. He doesn’t exist at all.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, looking again from the fake bunny to my mother.

“Just what I said,” she reiterated. “He’s fake. He’s make-believe. He does not exist.”

Suddenly, a thought occurred to me. As I said, I’m no dummy. “What about Santa Claus?”

Nonchalantly, as if we were discussing chocolate bunnies and not in the process of shattering all of my childhood misconceptions, she replied effortlessly, “Fake.”

“The tooth fairy?”

My mother sighs with boredom. “Fake.”

I was crushed, but I was also angry. With defiance, I got back in line to take my picture with the faker-Easter-Bunny-that-did-not-exist-ever! As I stood there waiting for the picture, I realized this would be my last picture I would ever take with him, real or not.

Even now, I cannot decide if I was more angry over being tricked or if it was because my mother chose that particular time to devastate me. I’m leaning more toward the timing of the news and not so much at being tricked.

Nonetheless, I do know that because of that specific time – that particular event; it is the reason I have a deep seeded love for the fictional character of Santa Claus. It’s almost like this is my way of defying my mother’s selfish motivation. Although I’ve never again had my picture taken with the Easter Bunny, I have had many snapshots of me and Santa over the years. He is by far, my favorite Christmas character.

Thanks, Mom.

Mar. 24, 2017

I usually feel awkward in social settings and get-togethers. As a result, I frequently avoid them. Even “lunch with the girls,” is sometimes too much for my social skills. Because of this, my daughter says I’m antisocial. She’s probably right.

In spite of my antisocialism, I always enjoy the company of my friend Penny. We go to lunch every now and then and frequently talk on Facebook. I always feel at ease and comfortable with her so when she and her husband Rob threw an Ornament Gift Exchange Party, I accepted their invitation.

When I told my husband and son where we were going and for what reason they looked at me skeptically. “She’s really going to a party,” my son marveled at my husband.

With a short laugh, my husband answered, “Yes, I guess she is.”

And so we did. We arrived on time and placed our ornaments by the tree. Penny had Christmas music playing to set the mood and her home was beautifully decorated and filled with the Christmas Spirit. She and Rob had an oyster bar in the backyard manned by Rob and some friends. In the kitchen was a mashed potato bar, finger foods, drinks and spirits, and of course, no party is complete without the sweet treats.

One by one and two by two, friends arrived for the gala. Glennie, Janae and her husband Jamie were already there when we came in along with Rob and friend Nash. Rachel and Kat arrived and within a few minutes Andy and Skyler followed them in. At some point, I looked up and there was a young man, Ricky, standing amongst us in the kitchen. He just suddenly appeared like Santa and his eight flying reindeer.

Sancho, Penny’s huge lab, was so excited to see everyone. He was sure to visit each of us with lots of sweet doggy nuzzles. Roscoe, Sancho’s little friend, came with Nash. He was just as excited and loving and if you saw what I saw, you’d know Roscoe was just a little too friendly with Sancho. I kept telling him he was being a little light in the paw. He didn’t care though. Roscoe and Sancho had being terribly adorable down to a science.

While everyone mingled and talked, Glennie played bartender making delicious drinks for all of us. I have no idea what they were called but they were served in a Martini glass and very tasty. I drank two of them which is another thing I do not often do.

Finally, after a lot of talking, a little eating, a little drinking, and lots of picture taking, Rob read the Christmas Ornament story that began the exchange of gifts between party guests. It was a blast. Some of the girls were even fighting over Penny’s (Christmas) balls. There are pictures to prove it, too.

To say the evening was festive is an understatement. Penny and Rob were the perfect host and hostess and graciously catered to all of their guests. It was really a lot of fun and I so enjoyed myself. This is another Christmas memory that will last me a lifetime. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Barbour for such a wonderful evening and making me feel very comfortable in your home. Until we meet again … Merry Christmas!

Pictures of the festivities can be found on my Cranky Old Hag/Facebook Page.

P/S Those two martini glasses full of whatever Glennie made, kicked my Cranky Old Ass! I came home and crashed.

Mar. 24, 2017

When my daughter, Amber, was just a toddler, about two years old, I dressed her up like a hobo for Halloween. I had bought a black sleeper at Walmart, which had a felt lapel flower, elastic around the ankles so that the shoe toppers covered the shoes and a black felt top hat with a manufactured tear on the top seam. There was also a daisy sticking out of the hat and one the shoe toppers was made to look like a socked toe was sticking out of the shoe.

The hat secured with an elastic chin band so I could put it on her head. I took some blush and reddened her cheeks a little then used a charcoal brick to darken her eyebrows and give her a five O’clock shadow. I tried to model her hobo image to mimic Emmet the Clown’s Clyde the Hobo character.

To say she was cute as a button is an understatement. After giving her a little Jack-O-Lantern Halloween bucket to carry, I took her to the community’s Halloween Party. Needless to say, she won first place in her age group, hands down. Amber was so enthralled with all the different costumes and, of course, she had no idea what was going on, let alone, the significance of her win. She was just happy to be there.

That same year, the same party, my next-door neighbor asked if I would help him dress up for the Halloween party. Scott was seventeen at the time and scrawny, too. I pulled some old clothes out of the closet, a brassiere, some pantyhose, and fitted him with a pair of sandals.

I dressed him up like a woman. I even had a wig he could use. I fixed his hair, his makeup and helped him with the stuffing of the bra so he would be symmetrically even. Instead of a Halloween bucket to carry, I gave him an old purse I had.

As I sat at a nearby table holding Amber, I watched the judges’ line up the contestants in each age group. As they called the older male teens up, Scott picked up his purse, adjusted his skirt and pantyhose and then got in line.
Tommy Scarborough, one of the judges, approached Scott. “Honey, your group is not up yet. This is for the boys’ only group,” Tommy explained.

In his too-deep-to-be-a-woman’s voice, Scott replied, “I am a boy.”

Tommy took a step back and said, “Oh hell! Well, you can sit back down then. You just won.”

I don’t think the other contestants had finished lining up yet when Scot brought home the prize. It was really funny. I was proud that my two enrollees in the costume contest had won.

Years later, when my daughter was a teenager, I helped a friend of hers with his costume: Griffin Lambert. Amber was having a Halloween party and Griffin didn’t have a costume. He showed up at the house early so we got some clothes out and a wig and dressed him up. No one recognized him either when the guests came in until he spoke and they caught his voice.

I had so much fun with those kids! I cannot even begin to tell you. Even though the parties were about fifteen years apart, I had pictures of all three of them in their Halloween garb. Now though, after all these many years later, I cannot find them. It’s okay, though. The memories are still there in the back of my mind. They are very well kept and still cause me to smile and chuckle whenever I think about them.