Currently Reading: A Midnight Carol

Keep Charles Dickens in Christmas!!

Happy Sunday to all you Readers, writers and fellow travellers in the Journey of books and bookish things. Having woken up from our wayyy too short sleep from a wayyy too late night at the Mother-in-law’s Christmas party last night down in Maricopa, and having finished John Grisham’s great little novel Skipping Christmas which the movie Christmas with The Kranks was based on, I move on to the next Christmas/Holidays book on my seasonal shelf. This one is also a novel, but it’s based not on fiction but the true life story of how Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol came to be and as the subtitle suggests… “How Charles Dickens saved Christmas.”

The book I’ve chosen is titled A Midnight Carol by Patricia K. Davis and it’s a novelized account of how not only the Christmas favorite came to be but also how the great Dickens Classic revitalized his career and fortunes. I read this last year for the first time and even reviewed it on a previous book blog, but I loved the writing and reading of it so much that I plan to reread it every Holidays Season as I’m able.

As I said before in the post on Skipping Christmas, usually in December is when I push everything aside and Grab a Spine from the books on my shelf of the Christmas/holidays selection. In advance of the Yuletide Celebration of cheer and family we also set up the Telly and DVD for a non-stop whirlwind of Holiday favorites such as Miracle on 54th Street, Polar Express, Frosty the Snoman, and one of our very favorites… Christmas with the Kranks. But for classics and perennial favorites for most Americans and westerners who read, “… there can be only One” in terms of appeal, Christmas Spirit and multi-generational impact and staying power, and that One is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Of course we will be reading or watching the Original before the Big Day, but I’m also looking forward to reading Patricia K. Davis’ book, A Midnight Carol this year as a companion piece. How about you? What are you reading this week?

If you’ve read this book, what did you think? Tell me in the comments below. Have a great Sunday.

-mike

Advertisements

Saturday Six Word Musing: “Love: The Reason for the Season”

For Debbie Smyth’s Saturday Six Word Musings

“Still Recovering myself from the Snare…”

There is a Snare in putting off the Now for the Later

There are some out there who may know what I mean by this. But for others, I’ve composed a kind of shadowy limrick for the purpose. Remember that in the Holiday Season The Present is the Real Gift. We all have family members who sat at table with us last year who won’t be this year. And those who have been missed for longer. Take the time, while you still can and have it, to reach out and live and love the ones who still are. Opportunities missed or passed up now turn to regrets and memories later.

Recovering My Self

There once was a boy the age of 15

Who, still learning to live, still learning to read,

Got caught up completely, as a matter of fact,

In a Story of ‘History’ from which he had lack.

**

Was told he was human and then he was not,

From only One place, the Cure could be got.

He spent the next years avoiding his Self

At the end of the decades he’d sat on the shelf.

**

I once could see people, my family included

But They told me my sight was selfish delusion.

By ‘seeing’ was blinded, in blindness was ‘freedom’

My plans for the future, really weren’t needed.

**

At the end of it all, I’d found I’d been left

Of career and of schooling, simply bereft.

Now I’m Recovering all that was lost

From the Snare I’ve been freed… I am now boss.

-mike

**

I’m not simply Recovering From… I’m Recovering To who I was meant to be in the first place. Life, Health, Family and Freedom. “These are a few of my Favorite Things” this season.

Now can we talk about Books, Reading and Writing again? Thx.

**

-mike

Currently Reading: Skipping Christmas

Aka… Christmas with the Kranks

Happy Friday to all you Readers, writers and fellow travellers in the Journey of books and bookish things. Today, the wife and I have taken a PTO day off to take care of some holiday stuff around the house and I thought I’d let you all on on what I’m reading after finishing The Black Hand on Wednesday night.

Usually in December is when I push everything aside and Grab a Spine from the books on my shelf of the Christmas/holidays selection. In advance of the Yuletide Celebration of cheer and family we also set up the Telly and DVD for a non-stop whirlwind of Holiday favorites such as Miracle on 54th Street, Polar Express, Frosty the Snoman, and one of our very favorites… Christmas with the Kranks.

The movie is based on and follows very closely the fictional story of The Kranks, whose only daughter has gone off to Miami and South America for the winter, leaving the empty nesters a chance to fling off the traditional craziness and expense of the holidays and plan for a get away to warmer climes.

I like to read this John Grisham book in December as a reminder of why we love the holidays and why it would be a shame to cast off tradition and Skip Christmas fun, frivolity and family. It’s a small book that can be read in one or two sittings, but I would definitely recommend it as a recurrent read yearly in the run up to “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Why not Grab a Spine with me and read Skipping Christmas by John Grisham this weekend.

If you’ve read this book, what did you think? Tell me in the comments below. Have a great Sunday.

-mike

Finally Finished The Black Hand: WTF Happened to Mike?

Yes… I’m still “still here”

Happy Friday to all you Readers, Writers and fellow travellers in the Journey of books and bookish things. First, my apologies for posting sporadically, if anything at all, these last few weeks. Work and my responsibilities caught up to me and literally kicked my A$$!!. I work in customer service and tangentially the healthcare industry, so this time of year, in the run up to December 31st and the New Year, is the very busiest and most stressful time of the year for us.

“Work” is a four letter word

On the ‘suggestion’ of my leadership, I had taken up responsibility for training and overseeing, along with others, a group of newer reps who are helping us during this season of increased activity. Late hours, late dinners and early wake-ups have a way of reminding us that we are not immortal, nor are we indefatigable. When weeks of asking for the resources that in would need to do prepare for my specific task and project, BEFORE it became a huge issue if I didn’t have them, kept getting pushed off and ignored to the point of

  1. ending up in the middle of the Crap Storm I predicted,
  2. trying to Do all the work myself, (Because it still needed done),
  3. and then leadership trying to shift the blame on to me exclusively…

I finally had to tell my bosses that I wasn’t the person for the project, and honestly bow out with as much integrity as I could… and my job intact.

  • I wasn’t going to be able to do all the work of the 5 or 6 person team I was promised (but not provided).
  • and manage it all (which is what I was supposed to be doing)
  • as well as train people from the ground up in our systems and processes at the same time as the aforementioned Crap Storm was already swirling (which wasn’t supposed to happen if my leadership had listened to me for the previous month of requests).

There simply wasn’t enough time in the day, let alone my workday, to get it all done and we were falling behind even with me stretching out 12 and 14hr days, which my boss said “you shouldn’t have to be here past 330p”. Yeah, right. Wouldn’t have gotten done at all.

I had reached my critical mass and was at the limits of my abilities and skills in the project they gave me. Thankfully, they understood, accepted my assessment and let me go back to the regular call center and back to my normal position. They found someone from leadership who was up to the task and was able to step in for me.

( Ie. I stepped down from the project I was leading but I kept my job. )

Miracles do happen and I’m very grateful. It could have turned out very differently. My thanks to my Direct Manager and Leadership for letting me go from the Project and agreeing to send me back to my Regular Chaos. Rant over. So again… Mea Culpa and please forgive the lapses in posting over the last month or two. I’ll be back on track now.

Finally Finished The Black Hand

Yes, after a month of reading, work interruptions and now reintegration with normal society, I finally finished The Black Hand by Stephan Talty this week. I was reading this book and trying to get to Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown for Nonfiction November but previously stated and explained issues at work kept me from being able to finish in November like I wanted to. Early on, I knew I would need to abandon the Wounded Knee book, but I needed to complete The Black Hand and I did. Yay, Me!!

It was such a good read about the beginnings of the Italian Mafia and Organized Crime in New York and the United States in the early 1900’s and the man who began the fight against them and became that War’s first martyr. If you haven’t read the book yet, go pick up a copy. You won’t be disappointed by the story or the excellent writing of Stephan Talty. If you’ve read this book, what did you think? Tell me in the comments below. Have a great Friday.

-mike

Ten Word Tuesday: “Skipping Grace?”

I’d like to introduce a new meme or challenge to the blogosphere. Ten Word Tuesday will be a challenge to tell a short story in only Ten Words given only a Single Word or Phrase to prompt your creative juices. It’s easy:

  1. Create a post on your blog
  2. Make sure there’s a Link back here to this Post
  3. Or just leave yours as a Comment or Link here in mine
  4. Follow along by checking out Others’ contributions

I’ll share mine for this week.

***

“We never take out the Christmas buckets until after Thanksgiving.”

In our household, the tradition carried on from my wife’s family is bringing the Christmas tree and decorations for the house out from the garage on the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s a big ordeal, you know, marking the beginning of the Christmas Season and all, you know.

But it also marks the end of Thanksgiving and Autumn as well. It always irks me a bit more every year when… Every year it seems… our culture here in the US pushes Thanksgiving out the door and “brings in the Christmas buckets” earlier and earlier.

Radio stations, shopping malls, sales circulars, junk mail and neighborhood Christmas lights on homes… they all usher IN Christmas earlier and earlier… and in turn usher OUT Thanksgiving. It used to be “not until after Thanksgiving”, but now it’s more like just after… or even before in some cases… Halloween.

Family dinner, simple joy and Rememberance without the push to spend and buy and rush and decorate elaborately… all of these with that emphasis on Thankfulness and Gratitude for what already have, and Who you still have around the table this year… and even sadness for those who aren’t, who were last year. I’m afraid that the rush to Christmas is pushing out all of these.

My encouragement on this Ten Word Tuesday is… Don’t let it happen. And in advance of the Thanksgiving Holiday that everyone else wants to ‘get thru’ to get TO Christmas, stop and remember, eat, laugh, and enjoy family and friends in simple Thanks and Gratitude, remembering that these are what make life worth living.

“We never take out the Christmas buckets until after Thanksgiving.”

-mike

***

Now it’s your turn. Leave a Comment or a Link to your post in the bucket down below. Lets do this!!

-mike