Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Stan Remembers Valentine’s Day at age 8, when girls were ‘yucky’!

February 14th, 2017 1 comment

 Guest Writer: Stanley Hicks

P1010067-1Valentine’s is the day of love and romance, taught to us since very young. The day we are to do, say, buy, and show in some special way, our love for that special person.
As a child in grade school we spent many art classes making what seemed to be thousands of hearts in all sizes and then covering the hearts with paper doilies.
Then, we made a decorated box to put on our desks, where the chosen mail person could put our valentines in our own box.
We were instructed to make sure every one in the class got one from you. Now, we all know there is always a yucky girl or two in your class that you sure didn’t want them to think that you loved them. What to do now?
Mom always took care of buying the valentines, and times being what they were back then, my packs of cards never had but just the count you needed, with maybe one extra. The cards, a couple of times, came on a large sheet and you had to punch them out along the perforated lines. No doubt they were the economy packs.
I remember looking at all those cards over and over trying not to send one with  kiss, hug, or be mine to those yucky girls. (It was just more drama than a third grade boy should have to do.)  By the way, not signing the card was not an option.  I tried that and got caught. Moms and teachers are on to that one.
The Valentine class party, as I remember, was always fun and the room mothers always supplied plenty of good things to eat and drink.  Those yucky girls I talked about?   Well, guess what . . . they seemed to always send me some of the nicest cards.  Sorry Jeanne M. and Joanne H…. Lesson Learned!

Wishbone, pulley bone, also called ‘Merrythought’

November 24th, 2016 2 comments

The furcula (“little fork” in Latin) is a forked bone found in birds and thecodonts, formed by the fusion of the two clavicles. In birds, its function is the strengthening of the thoracic skeleton to withstand the rigors of flight.

When I was a little girl I always requested one piece of the chicken – the pulley bone. I think Mama must have left extra chicken on it for me.  After eating it clean, I would wash and dry it and keep it in a little box with the others I had collected.   Sounds odd now, but my grandmother used to crochet around the bone and make a pretty little decorative piece.

Up until around 1900 Americans and Brits called it ‘Merrythought”, today it is called wishbone or as in the south where I grew up, it is referred to as pulley bone, especially when served as a piece of chicken with meat from both adjacent breasts attached.

Instead of collecting the bones, traditionally, the wishbone, once removed from the turkey or chicken and dried, is then held between the little fingers of two opposing “wishers”. Once the wish has been made the bone is pulled by each person. The wisher who breaks off a larger section of bone is assumed to have his wish granted.

Alternately, the winner of this contest may choose to transfer the fragment of the wishbone, along with the wish, to a person of his choosing.

Because this is commonly a Thanksgiving tradition, this bone is also called the Thanksgiving bone.  By whatever name, it is a tasty little morsel.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2016 Comments off

Thanks to my next door neighbors, Larry and Annick, for letting Tom pose for me.

Tom, you’dbetter enjoy the day because you’ll soon be replaced by Santa !

Learn about Yom Kippur – Blessings on the day to our Jewish friends.

October 11th, 2016 Comments off

Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is one of the holiest days of the year for Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue  services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days  (or sometimes “the Days of Awe”).

Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the month of Tishrei. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict.

During the Days of Awe, a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam leMakom) and against other human beings (bein adam lechavero). The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt (Vidui)). At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers one’s self absolved by God.

Traditionally, Yom Kippur is considered the date on which Moses  received the second set of Ten Commandments.It occurred following the completion of the second 40 days of instructions from God. At this same time, the Israelites were granted atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf; hence, its designation as the Day of Atonement.

Total abstention from food and drink usually begins 20 minutes before sundown , and ends after nightfall the following day. Although the fast is required of all healthy adults, it is waived in the case of certain medical conditions.

As one of the most culturally significant Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur is observed by many secular Jews  who may not observe other holidays. Many secular Jews attend synagogue on Yom Kippur—for many secular Jews the High Holidays are the only recurring times of the year in which they attend synagogue,causing synagogue attendance to soar, and almost two-thirds fast.

source: wikipedia

Columbus Day

October 10th, 2016 Comments off

The Letter of Columbus to Luis de Sant Angel Announcing His Discovery, 1493

Christopher Columbus wrote an very interesting letter, near the end of his return voyage, announcing his discovery of the West Indies, 1493.

Here is an excerpt as he describes the inhabitants he found in the ‘new world’:

. . . They never refuse anything that is asked for.  They even offer it themselves, and show so much love that they would give their very hearts. Whether it be anything of great or small value, with any trifle of whatever kind, the are satisfied.  I forbade worthless things being given to them, such as bits of broken bowls, pieces of glass and old straps, although they were as much pleased to get them as if they were the finest jewels in the world. . . .

They have no religion, nor idolatry, except that they all believe power and goodness to be in heaven.  They firmly believed that I, with my ships and men, came from heaven, and with this idea I have been received everywhere, since they lost fear of me.  They are, however, far from being ignorant.  They are most ingenious men, and navigate these seas in a wonderful way, and describe everything well, but they never before saw people wearing clothes, nor vessels like ours. . . .

To read the complete letter go to

There is no known authentic portrait of Columbus, but this is an attempt at his likeness by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio.

Learning More About Rosh Hashanah, “Head of the Year”

October 2nd, 2016 Comments off

Rosh Hashanah is literally translated as “head of the year”, and idiomatically refers to the Jewish New Year. The term first appears in the Bible, in Ezekiel 40:1.

In fact, Judaism has four “new years” which mark various legal “years”, much like 1 January marks the “New Year” of the Gregorian calendar. Rosh Hashanah is the new year for people, animals, and legal contracts. The Mishnah also sets this day aside as the new year for calculating calendar years and sabbatical (”shemitta”) and jubilee (”yovel”) years.

The Torah refers to the day as “The Day of the Blowing of the Shofar” (”Yom Terua”, Leviticus 23:24), and rabbinic literature and the liturgy itself describe Rosh Hashanah as “The Day of Judgment” (”Yom ha-Din”) and “The Day of Remembrance” (”Yom ha-Zikkaron”). Some midrashic descriptions depict God as sitting upon a throne, while books containing the deeds of all humanity are opened for review, and each person passing in front of Him for evaluation of his or her deeds.

This holiday is the first of the ”Yamim Noraim” (Hebrew, “Days of Awe”), the most solemn days of the Jewish year; the ”Yamim Noraim” are preceded by the month of Elul, during which Jews are supposed to begin a self-examination and repentance, a process that culminates in the ten days of the ”Yamim Noraim” known as ”Asseret Yemei Teshuva – The Ten Days of Repentance”, beginning with Rosh Hashanah and ending with the holiday of Yom Kippur.

Labor Day ’16

September 5th, 2016 1 comment




Cinco de Mayo

May 5th, 2016 Comments off

A little cutie celebrated Cinco de Mayo  in song at the White House a few years ago. President Bush greeted the participants.

In St. Paul, Minnesota young dancers carry on the tradition.

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s day of Independance. It is celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico.

It has been celebrated continuously in California since 1863, in remembrance of when the Mexicans successfully defended their country against the French, when greatly outnumbered.

The Lull

December 27th, 2015 2 comments


There is a slight lull between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, isn’t there?  A time to take a deep breath.

Photo 200It is a time of recuperating from all the stress of gift-buying and giving, of planning and cooking, of traveling and settling.  It is a time when many folks start looking back, reviewing the year – The good and the bad.

It is a time when we remember the public figures who were part of our collective consciousness, and then of course the private losses of friends and family.

It is a time when many people resolve to correct some of the things they need to correct: become a non-smoker, lose weight, throw away stuff stored in the garage, attic, basement, etc.

It is a time when family members take stock and see who is no longer included in the family portraits: sometimes because of seemingly unforgivable acts of violence or abuse, or of lesser, unresolved issues that have brought a stand-off that stretches from a few months to years  . . .  a chasm increasing as time goes by, with little hope for bridging the terrible gap.

It is heartbreaking to read or hear of parents estranged from their children or siblings who have dismissed each other as if they were already dead.

The only bridge that can go from one point of view to the other, is made by God.  Surrendered to this engineering marvel, the chasm can narrow, hearts can soften, families can be restored, forgiveness can be offered and accepted.

Just one more thing: For reconciliation to work, you can’t rehash the old stuff.  It is like the garage stuff that you don’t need any more, close your eyes and give it a toss. Don’t drag it out of the trash bin, don’t drag it out of the blame bin, let it go.

We would be well advised to start the new year free of such burdens.  May God help each one of us to do that.  



December 26th, 2015 Comments off

The main symbols of Kwanzaa are a mat, on which to put the things needed for the celebration, the unity cup used to pour libations, a candle stick holding seven candles, the seven candles, ears of corn, the Kwanzaa flag and a poster depicting the seven principles of Kwanzaa. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are: unity; self-determination; collective work and responsibility; co-operative economics; purpose; creativity; and earth.

The colors of Kwanzaa are red, black and green. The Kwanzaa flag consists of three blocks, one in each of these colors. Three of the seven candles are red, three are green and one is black. Each candle represents one of the principles of Kwanzaa. The candle holder is carved from a single piece of wood and its shape was inspired by the form of the Ashanti royal throne.

Kwanzaa was first celebrated in December 1966 and January 1967. The holiday was proposed by Maulana Karenga to give those of African descent a holiday to celebrate their own cultural heritage and the key values of family and community.  Although seen as an alternative to Christmas and thus possibly anti-Christian in the early years, many people now observe aspects of both festivals.

 Kwanzaa gained popularity quite quickly. It is now estimated that about 13 percent of African-Americans (nearly five million people) celebrate the festival in some way.

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