Archive for December, 2013

Wonder Wench Writes

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Another “no-Christmas” story …

Hisself reminded me that WWW hadn’t written this week … and, as usual, I had forgotten. Why is it that this time of year makes everything hurt more than it ever did before? As Sheri said in her letter about being alone – THAT makes hurt more real, more difficult to handle.

I had an empty Christmas one year (as a grownup, I mean) and my amazing Louie Louie Lad took care of it for me; he got me a little tree and, wonder of wonders, himself for a day!

There have been more wonderful holidays since then, but none to match the warm caring that small tree gave me for a long time. As Sheri says, “take care of a small someone on the edge of your life … and you will never be forgotten.”

I know a lady in the far reaches of Kentucky who cares for a gang even without their father. He died this year. And a lady I call “Junior” who travels every weekend to help grandparents who probably don’t even realize the depths of her caring – and a “young” man who creates music for small churches because he can…and because his grandfather did just that – and a slightly younger woman who protects her kids even against bad stuff or, as a GREAT-granddaughter has been quoted as saying: “shit happens” and she does what she can to pooper-scoop it.

Don’t let time and “other things” keep you from remembering that someone, somewhere could use your smile.

Christmas Connection

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Sheri’s No Christmas Story

We’re swapping Christmas stories, and it’s your turn. (To find out what this is about, go to www.dicksummer.com/podcast/latest.) The address to send yours is, dick@dicksummer.com This story is from  last year. It’s part of  a treasure chest of  Christmas stories that I like to un-wrap, along with the decorations on our tree. It was written by Proud Podcast Participant, Sheri. She has a suggestion at the end of the story that makes a lot of sense.

You asked for Christmas stories, but what I have to tell you is actually a No Christmas Story. In December of 1999 my two children moved with their father and their step-mother about 20 days before Christmas to Ramstein Germany. Their step-mother was in the Air Force and that is where she was going to be stationed for at least 4 years. I would get to see my children, once a year, for about 3 months in the summer. So we had Christmas early.. the apartment was decorated inside and out with the help of my finance…. and I knew that Christmas day was going to be rough, I would get thru it. We said good-bye to the kids around the 5th of December, and 4 days later, my finance left me…. no note… no phone call… nothing… just the key to the apartment in the mailbox and all of his stuff gone. I was devastated. There is no words to describe the totally emptiness ….. my children were gone, my mother had passed away in 98, all my family were more than 300 miles away and I had no way to get there. I woke up Christmas morning to an empty house, and an empty tree. The child in me felt like I had been the worst child ever, because Santa didn’t come.

This year is going to be better. I live with my daughter, there are 3 children… we will be going to my son-in-law’s parents house with a big family celebration… and I will be right in the middle of it all. I didn’t tell you all this to make you feel sorry… what I really would like you to do is tell you listeners and readers that if they know someone who will be alone at Christmas, and even if they have invited them to come share it with them… most (including me) won’t go because Christmas is family, and you aren’t feeling. But the next best thing they can do is go over to that person’s home… don’t call in advance… show up with a plate from your Christmas dinner, or a plate of cookies, just something to eat.. and a small gift… believe me when you wake up Christmas morning and have nothing to unwrap and alone…. having someone show up at your door… does so much for that person. The gift need not be much, a holiday candle, or any kind of candle, a small gift certificate to that place…. heck even a small fake decorated Christmas tree……. that person’s whole day would be so much better… you don’t need to stay long… it’s better if you don’t because they aren’t gonna want you to see them cry. Be Santa… leave the gift at the door.. knock and run.. sign the card… from Santa….. I know a lot of people do things for
the homeless at this time of the year, but there is another group that gets totally forgotten… and it’s those that have no one…. I’ve been there more times than I ever want to.. and I will never let anyone I know NOT have something to open on Christmas Morning… we are all still kids at Christmas… we still believe deep in our hearts that Santa is real…. and when he skips our house…. it really hurts…..

Now go watch a comedy in your big papa chair……. and I’m going to
listen to Quiet Hands as I fall asleep……. you put me to sleep every
night… and I mean that as a compliment……..

 

Christmas Connection

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

More WONDERFUL Christmas memories from Proud Podcast Participant CAROL. Please send yours to Dick@DickSummer.com To hear what this is all about go to www.dicksummer.com/podcast/latest

Here’s Carol’s story:

I think I was about 7or 8 years old. My family had decided to start having Christmas at our house because when we got tired we could just go to bed. Chiristmas Eve was a really big thing. All of our relatives would gather at our house to open gifts. My brother and I would scope out the best place to hide and open our gifts. We would both pick the same place, under the dining room table that my mom and dad pushed against the wall. We both took an end of the table and told each other not to cross the center of the table into the others territory.

As relatives began to arrive my brother and I would beg our parents to open just one gift. The answer was always no “we have to wait for Aunt Madeline. She was aways the last one to arrive. It was sheer torture for an 8yr.old to wait for anything. However wait we did for what seemed like hours but was only about 30min. My brother and I appointed ourselves official door watchers. Not moving from the back door. Finally she would arrive and we would help her take the wrapped packages(looking for ours of course)and put them under the tree that was already overflowing with gifts When all the o’derves were out and the drinks were in hand and the greetings and kisses were over we took our places under the table awaiting our first gifts to be handed under the table. Unfortunately before we could open one gift the head of an adult would peer under the tablecloth (that never hung low enough to completely hide us) and tell us that we had to open the gifts in the presents of our parents so that they could get the tags from each one so that we knew who gave us the gift. This made the the opening take forever and one or both of us would fall asleep before we finished. The unopened presents would be put under the tree for the next morning with the gifts from Santa. When all relatives had left and our parents were breathing a sigh of relief shortly lived. Now the work really started. Mom would fill our stockings and dad would be downstairs putting together whatever needed to be assembled. This year it was homemade toyboxes for each of us that he spent weeks cutting out the pattern and then gluing the pieces together(he had made us circus wagons mine was green and yellow with a tiger behind cage bars) it had wheels on it so it looked like a wagon). I would be the first one to wake up(at 6am) and I would go down the stairs to my brothers room and try to wake him up to see what Santa had left. He would tell me that it was too early and no one else was up and he told me to go back to bed. Sadly I would do as he asked but I would not go back to sleep. I would lay awake unil I heard someone get up and then I would make my way to see who was up. The door to the living room would be shut from the front hall so that we had to walk to the kitchen then through the dining room then into the living room where the tree was surrounded by all the gifts that we didn’t open and the ones from Santa. However my eyes focused on the toybox. I ran over to it and promptly climbed into it. Then I heard a voice say “that is not for you it is for all your toys” Then I climbed out and sat in front of it and opened the presents that surrounded me. My mom would tell me years later that my eyes were as big as saucers as I opened each present. However I could not take my eyes off my new toybox. I think I even remember my dad tearing up whenever I looked at it or talked about it. That was I think my best Christmas ever.

Christmas Connection

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Still time to get your Christmas stories in to dick@dicksummer.com Here’s one from my friend Chuck, who recently retired as a senior pilot for a major airline:

Hey Dick, my Christmas story was in 1983. My then girlfriend and I were spending our first
Christmas together in our new home we bought together. We always over did it
with gifts . This year was no different. I ended up putting an engagement ring
in her stocking wrapped in several boxes. One inside the other so as to give the
impression of a much larger gift. Needless to say she was quite moved to find
the ring and my asking her to marry me. That was 30 years ago. Still together
and three kids later.

Christmas Connection

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Still looking for your Christmas stories. Please send them to dick@dicksummer.com . Here’s one from a broadcasting buddy of mine by the name of Jerry DelColliano. It’s worth posting on your refrigerator door:

  • This Christmas
  • Give yourself a break. Promise yourself many days when you get off your own back. Perhaps the greatest gift of all is self-forgiveness. We are human. We do our best. We can do      better. But we have done all we can for now.
  • Give yourself an IOU. Every time you do something well, make a significant accomplishment or handle a difficult promise, issue an IOU to yourself to redeem the next time you      need a boost of confidence.
  • Give your love. We live in a world focused on being loveable, getting love or having more of it. Start with yourself. Let me help. Finish this sentence: “I love this about  myself”. How many of these can you come up with?
  • Give yourself the gift of dreaming. Everything good started with a dream from someone whether it is  a relationship, a movement, a cause or a business.
  • Give yourself the gift of hope. Life without hope is actually death. As long as we’re here and we’re on this earth, all things are possible.

Christmas Connection

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Still looking for your Christmas story. Please send it to dick@dicksummer.com

Here’s one From Proud Podcast Participant “Texas Ty”:

Christmas Cookie Rules…

1. If you eat a Christmas cookie fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first cookie is the test and thus calorie free.

2. If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie, it also has no calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories.

3. If a friend comes over while you’re making your Christmas cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend. Because your friend’s first cookie is calories free, (rule #1) yours is also. It would be rude to let your friend sample alone; and, being the friend that you are, that makes your cookie calorie free.

4. Any cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually fall off as you move. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.

5. Any calories consumed during the frosting of the Christmas cookies will be used up because it takes many calories to lick excess frosting from a knife without cutting your tongue.

6. Cookies colored red or green have very few calories. Red ones have three and green ones have five – one calorie for each letter. Make more red ones!

7. Cookies eaten while watching “Miracle on 34th Street” have no calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one’s because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one’s personal fuel.

8. As always, cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breaking causes calorie leakage.

9. Any cookies consumed from someone else’s plate have no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will cling to their plate. We all know how calories like to CLING!

10. Any cookies consumed while feeling stressed have no calories because cookies used for medicinal purposes NEVER have calories.

It’s a rule! So, go out and enjoy those Christmas Cookies – we only get them this time of the year.

Christmas Connection

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Another great Christmas note. I’d love to hear from you too.

 Just send your note to: dick@DickSummer.com  Here’s one from Proud Podcast Participant Audrey.

Hi Dick,

The song “The Carol of the Bells” will always be the most important Christmas song to me. I remember my sister brought her 5 year old sister (me) with her to high school choir practice (Medford, MA High School) one evening in the mid 50’s. They were practicing that song. I sang alto with my sister. I felt very important. Some of the other members of the choir gave me some nice compliments and said they couldn’t believe someone as young as I could sing such a difficult piece. WOW! To this day, it’s not the Christmas season unless I hear “Carol of the Bells” at least once a day. My sister always brought me down to Boston to see all the lights, especially the ones on Boston Common. It was such a special time for me.

The next one, we were still living in Medford, MA and I was about 6 years old. When I came downstairs in the morning, there beside the tree was a cream-colored electric keyboard that looked like a miniature organ with a big red bow on it. I learned many piano pieces on that keyboard and to this day, I still think about what the songs sounded like when I played them on that instrument.

I remember the year that “The Little Drummer Boy” came out. I brought the record in to school and the teacher played it. A few of my friends and I stood in front of our class during our little presentation and sang the song, at the teacher’s request. I felt so important!

Many years later I ordered a set of record albums from Reader’s Digest….. Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Christmas concert albums. I had the first stereo record player I had bought. I put those albums on starting the day I received them, and played them every day throughout the entire month of December. I did that every year until about 12 years ago when circumstances prevented me from doing so.  Last year I pulled the albums out, only to find that my “trusty” turntable had quit working. I guess it’s going to be a while before I can hear them again —– not until I get a replacement turntable. I’m glad I have a good stack of CD’s and tapes, but nothing replaces that Boston Pops set.

My daughter was born just before Christmas 1975. The hospital was all decorated, and one day a small group of nuns came through and sang carols. My daughter celebrated her first Christmas at the age of 6 days, so tiny and new. That was a feeling that only a new mother can describe. I think of holding that tiny, sweet baby every Christmas eve.

Several years ago, shortly after I moved to a new state, I met a woman named Midge. She was like another mother to me. She wanted me to learn a certain song because her son used to sing it for her. He had passed away but the song always brought good memories to her. She gave me a CD of the song so I could learn it. I got to sing it for her exactly twice before she suddenly passed away. A few years ago, the choir director of our local Choral Society asked me to sing a solo at the Christmas concert. (The concert theme was “A Mary Christmas”). There was no doubt in my mind what to sing.  I enlisted the aid of a friend to play the guitar and I sang “Mary, Did you Know?”  While I was singing, not another sound was heard in the church auditorium. It was such a moving experience, one I’ll never forget.

Christmas has always been a special occasion to me. Besides the original meaning, it has given me the chance to buy or make gifts and cards for everyone who was special to me. As the years go by, that list has grown longer and longer. I tend to spread the gifts out during the year because birthdays are also very special to me. I now have 5 wonderful grandchildren and though they live almost 2,800 miles away, I make it a point to send them gifts – usually home-made or recycled —- at Christmas and their birthdays, and other special occasions. At this point in my life, I don’t want to receive any gifts. The things I want I can do without, and the things I need are too expensive for anyone I know to get. I share my singing with lots of different people for many diverse occasions. I always thank The Ultimate Gift-Giver for that talent that was bestowed upon me. I’m not so arrogant and self-centered any more so I can be more sincere and natural when I entertain. I enjoy other people singing and making music as well, but it’s still not Christmas unless I hear “Carol of the Bells” at least once a day.

Thank you, Dick, for sharing my love of music, for its impact on our lives.

Merry Christmas, Fröelich Weinachten, Göd Jul, Mele Kelikimaka, Kuri sumasu,
Buona Natale, Joyeux Noël, Felíz Navidad

Christmas Connection

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

 

Thank you for sending your Christmas/Hanakah/Solstice/Quanza memories. I’m not sure about this one from Proud Podcast Participant Bill. But hey…Who knows ?

 

As a joke, my brother Mike used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them. What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true, because every Christmas morning, although Mike’s kids stockings were always full, his poor panty hose never was.

One year, I decided to make his Christmas wish come true. I put on a pair of sunglasses, and slinked into the neighborhood “Adult bookstore.” I decided to buy a standard, uncomplicated inflatable lady, that could also substitute as a fake passenger in my car, so I could use the car pool lane during the rush hour. I settled for a doll called “Loveable Lara.”

On Christmas Eve, with the help of a bicucle pump, Lara came to life. My sister in law was in on the plan, and let me in during the week morning hours. I filled Mike’s dangling panty hose with Lara’s legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies, and drank a glass of milk left out on a nearby table.

Mike called me in the morning to tell me that Santa had finally made his wish come true, and to accuse me of having something to do with it. He said the only problem with Lara, was that she confused the dog, who kept coming over, looking at the pantyhose and bark, start to walk away, and come back and bark some more. We all agreed that Lara should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for dinner.

My Grandmother noticed Lara as soon as she walked in the door, and said, “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?” My brother explained that it was just a doll. “WHERE ARE HER CLOTHES ? WHY DOESN’T SHE HAVE ANY TEETH? I considered answering her questions, but I didn’t want to have to spend Christmas riding in the back of an ambulance, saying “Hang on Grandma, hang on.”

My Grandfather, a great guy with bad eyesight, sidled up to me and said, “Hey Bill, who’s the naked lady by the fireplace ?” I told him she was Mike’s friend. A few minutes later, I noticed him over by the fireplace, flirting with Lara. It was then that I realized that this might be Grandpa’s last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Lara made a noise like you often hear from a bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the fireplace, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the TV. The cat screamed, I passed some cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran over, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth to mouth resuscitation. Mike fell off his chair. Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car.

Later we discovered that Lara had suffered a puncture from a hot ember on the back of her left leg. Fortunately, with the aid of a wonder drug called Duct tape, we restored her to perfect health, so she can be with us to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

 

Christmas Connection

Friday, December 13th, 2013

My buddy Al wrote a Christmas story to remember last year in his blog at http://bananascrackersandnuts.com/bcnuts/. He gave me permission to put it here. Al and I go back a lot of years. His friendship is one of the best parts of Christmas. This is what he said:

I awoke to find myself in the less-than-bustling metropolis of Comstock, Michigan. No, I hadn’t been on an all night bender — it only felt that way. I had been on a fifteen hour drive with Vigi to visit her family for Thanksgiving and I did all of the ‘aiming’ for the final seven hours. It was our last chance to make the trip before winter closed in and I looked forward to spending a holiday with a house full of people once again.

Since the kids moved out and scattered around the country raising their own families, the peace and quiet I longed for while they were growing up had become deafening, especially around the holidays. Besides, things were getting kind of crazy at the radio station and we were sloshing our way through the middle of a financial rough patch at home; not the greatest timing with Christmas just around the corner.

After the obligatory slide show and catching up on several years of National Geographic, I was more than ready to prowl two of my favorite haunts in town — the only two haunts in town. It felt good not to be sticking to a schedule for a change and, in my absence, Veege could visit with her folks without being concerned about keeping me constantly entertained. After meandering through the aisles of the local Meijer’s ‘everything store’ I headed over to the one place that was an absolute, positive, don’t miss any time we made the trip: The Kalamazoo Air Zoo.

They had vintage aircraft from World War II and Korea through present day classics hangared there and many were still operational. On the right day, you could even catch a glimpse of a local pilot putting one of those two-thousand horsepower beauties through her paces! They had everything from flight simulators and a pink [believe it or not] P-40 flown by a very talented pilotress, to a mighty gull-winged Corsair — the plane that makes my heart go thump and has held the kid in me hostage ever since I first saw the movie Flat Top. You could actually walk up close enough to get a whiff of grease and oil mixed with just a hint of musty leather.

No tour of The Air Zoo was complete without a trip to the gift shop. I entered expecting to see the usual models, banners, books and displays — but what to my wandering eyes should appear but a shiny Corsair, perfect scale to the gear! She was carved from mahogany and painted in such painstaking detail that you could almost hear the roar of her engine. She was gorgeous! She was, also, $139 and I couldn’t afford to spend the price of a post card at that point.

I was unusually quiet for the last two days of our visit and most of the ride home. I am never quiet. Never. ”All right, what’s wrong?” Vigi finally ventured. ”Shows, huh?” ”Not if you’re a mime,” she answered. I told her all about the Corsair and explained that it wasn’t so much that I wanted it but that I couldn’t get it. We both had good jobs and worked hard. We weren’t extravagant. It’s not like it was a car or a boat or something — just a stupid airplane model that shouldn’t even require decision making. She reminded me that the financial rough patch was only temporary, and I stopped my whining. In my generation guys were supposed to do better than that for their families; the little airplane became a symbol that continued eating at me — and she knew it.

The remaining few weeks until Christmas sped by. Our ‘rough patch’ was beginning to smooth out and I had, at last, put the whole episode with the Corsair behind me — mostly. Christmas morning, the two of us did our usual Santa thing but when the ripping and tearing of brightly colored paper had ended, there was still one more present under the tree. She smiled and handed it to me. Unlike the others, I opened this one carefully unveiling a plain brown box. I was puzzled. Slowly I opened the flaps marked “This Side Up” — and what to my wondering eyes should appear but THE shiny Corsair! The one from The Air Zoo!

That incredible lady actually pirated all of the money from her change jar, where she had been dumping stray nickels, dimes and quarters for years, contacted the curator of The Zoo and ordered one very important Corsair for one grumpy old man. So many times through the years Vigi has lighted a torch when she found me in a dark place — and that Christmas, she did it again!

Christmas Connection

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

This note comes from Proud Podcast Participant Jimu. He listens to the podcasts in New Zealand:

Hi Dick,

Been listening to you for years, several things I enjoy about your podcast.
Your sense of Humour, your male/female views and your accent.
This brings me to thoughts about Christmas and an american friend also a native New Yorker, with a very similar view on life and people.
Jay was born in New York of Jewish/Russian parents and lived in Brooklyn he had a tormented Childhood as he was a child prodigy concert pianist, with perfect pitch. Because of this he became a councillor and ended up in New Zealand where I met him. He was a big soft cuddly bear, pretty much like your classic Louie, Louie guy.
Jay had Prostrate cancer for 15 years and was working on his attitude towards death for all of this time.
His attitude was to march gayly towards death.
Jay didn’t like holidays or birthdays, as they linked to past memories.
I last saw Jay the day before Christmas last year, he died just after midnight on Jan first 2013 at the age or 82.
I tell you this because, your podcast gets me in touch with my softer cuddly side, in touch with my masculine and feminine sides. With the intangeable thoughts and feeling, which make up the joys and sorrows of life.
It allows me to be as louie, louie generation as I want to be, although, I’m staring retirement in the face, not quite your generation perhaps) Your podcast projects a mature sense of child like fun & opens me up to being more Louie Louie.
So keep em coming Richard……..Richard……………Richard!