Saturday, December 11, 2010

Last Christmas

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year
To save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special

Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance
But you still catch my eye
Tell me baby
Do you recognize me?
It's been a year
It doesn't surprise me
I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying I love you
I meant it
Now I know what a fool I've been
But if you kissed me now
I know you'd fool me again


A crowded room
Friends with tired eyes
I'm hiding from you
And your soul of ice
My god I thought you were
Someone to rely on
I guess I was a shoulder to cry on
A face on a lover with a fire in his heart
A man under cover but you tore me apart
Now I've found a real love you'll never fool me again


A face on a lover with a fire in his heart
A man under cover but you tore him apart
Maybe next year I'll give it to someone
I'll give it to someone special.


And so this is Christmas

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
The rich and the poor ones
The war is so long
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Chrïstmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun

The spirit of giving

Here is a true story that was eventually made into a movie.

It was only a few days before Christmas. The spirit of the season hadn’t yet caught up with me, even though cars packed the parking lot of our local discount store. Inside the store, it was worse. Shopping carts and last minute shoppers jammed the aisles. Why did I come today? My feet ached almost as much as my head. My list contained names of several people who claimed they wanted nothing, but I knew their feelings would be hurt if I didn’t buy them anything.

Buying for someone who had everything and deploring the high cost of items, I considered gift-buying anything but fun. Hurriedly, I filled my shopping cart with last minute items and proceeded to the long checkout lines. I picked the shortest, but it looked as if it would mean at least a 20 minute wait. In front of me were two small children – a boy of about 5 and a younger girl. The boy wore a ragged coat. Enormously large, tattered tennis shoes jutted far out in front of his much too short jeans. He clutched several crumpled dollar bills in his grimy hands. The girl’s clothing resembled her brother’s. Her head was a matted mass of curly hair. Reminders of an evening meal showed on her small face. She carried a beautiful pair of shiny, gold house slippers. As the Christmas music sounded in the store’s stereo system, the girl hummed along, off-key but happily.

When we finally approached the checkout register, the girl carefully placed the shoes on the counter. She treated them as though they were a treasure. The clerk rang up the bill. “That will be $6.09,” she said. The boy laid his crumpled dollars atop the stand while he searched his pockets. He finally came up with $3.12. “I guess we will have to put them back,” he bravely said. “We will come back some other time, maybe tomorrow.”

With that statement, a soft sob broke from the little girl. “But Jesus would have loved these shoes,” she cried. “Well, we’ll go home and work some more. Don’t cry. We’ll come back,” he said.

Quickly, I handed $3.00 to the cashier. These children had waited in line for a long time. And, after all, it was Christmas. Suddenly a pair of arms came around me and a small voice said, “Thank you lady.”

“What did you mean when you said Jesus would like the shoes?” I asked. The boy answered, “Our mommy is sick and going to heaven. Daddy said she might go before Christmas to be with Jesus.” The girl spoke, “My Sunday school teacher said the streets in heaven are shiny gold, just like these shoes. Won’t mommy be beautiful walking on those streets to match these shoes?”

My eyes flooded as I looked into her tear streaked face. “Yes” I answered, “I am sure she will.” Silently, I thanked God for using these children to remind me of the true spirit of giving.”


Off to NYC

Pretty soon, I am starting an assignment in the fashion district of New York City, and this month I am planning to go up there and kick off my project, meet my team etc.  They have arranged my stay at the Time Square, New York City - near their office.

Since I have never been to NYC before, I did some reading on Time Square and soon found out that it's also called the 'Crossroads of the World' and is an iconic world landmark with all sorts of neon lights and night life.  At first, I felt a bit nervous (I still am) wondering what I will be able to contribute at such a popular place.  I have only seen and read about NYC and Time Square in books, movies, TV's etc.  Actually staying and working there - I've never ever dreamt about it. I will somehow hide my nervousness and try to stay cool :-)

School is closing for my son soon, and my wife will have some time to relax.  I have been asking them to travel and stay with me at NYC at least during the first week.  Finally after lots of persuading, they both agreed and I am excited since I have company!  There are numerous things they could do there, with Rockefeller Center, Central Park and scores of places just blocks away - or even catch up on some sleep. Both me and my wife have tons of relatives over there, whom we've never visited - maybe we will visit some of my wife's relatives this time around; mine can wait.

We are planning to head out next Saturday, Dec 18th, by renting a car and return sometime on or before Dec 26th; have another flight to catch on 27th to my current client.  We will miss the Christmas program and mostly the Christmas Eve's Serive here in Atlanta. However, I am sure it will be a nice break and a good experience for my family - they deserve a good holiday break and deserve to be treated royally.

So, while I am gone, kindly expect lean postings during that time.

Merry Christmas Darling

Greeting cards have all been sent
The Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make
A special one for you

Merry Christmas darling
We're apart that's true
But I can dream and in my dreams
I'm Christmas-ing with you

Holidays are joyful
There's always something new
But every day's a holiday
When I'm near to you
The lights on my tree
I wish you could see
I wish it every day
Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say

That I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year, too
I've just one wish
On this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you

Instrumental Interlude

Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say
That I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year, too
I've just one wish
On this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you
I wish I were with you

(Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas Merry Christmas - Darling)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree

Rocking around the Christmas tree
at the Christmas party hop
Mistletoe hung where you can see
every couple tries to stop
Rocking around the Christmas tree,
let the Christmas spirit ring
Later we'll have some pumpkin pie
and we'll do some caroling.

You will get a sentimental
feeling when you hear
Voices singing let's be jolly,
deck the halls with boughs of holly
Rocking around the Christmas tree,
have a happy holiday
Everyone dancing merrily
in the new old-fashioned way.

Catching cold

As you know, it is very important for Santa and his reindeer to be very quiet when they deliver presents on Christmas Eve so no one will know they are there. One Christmas Eve, Santa Claus landed on a rooftop and suddenly he heard a very loud, “Snort sniff honk honk snort!” coming from one of his reindeer. Since he was in the sleigh behind them, he didn’t know which one it was.

It happened again, only louder this time, “Snort sniff honk honk snort!”

Dogs in the neighborhood began to bark. “Shhh!” Santa hissed. “Please be quiet!”

He went to work lifting the sack of toys out of the sleigh when he heard it again, only a lot louder this time, “SNORT SNIFF HONK HONK SNORT!”

Lights came on all over the neighborhood, and some people even stuck their heads out of their windows. Santa was horrified. Jumping back into the sleigh, he drove quickly back to the North Pole. He lined up all the reindeer and announced, “We are not going to deliver another present until the reindeer that is making funny noises with his nose steps forward and apologizes!”

Donner stepped forward and admitted he had both allergies and caught a cold and was the one making the noises.

Before continuing on that Christmas Eve, Santa ‘read off the rude-nosed reindeer’.


Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! the herald angels sing, -
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled."
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th' angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem."
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!

Christ, by highest heav'n adored:
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the favored one.
Veil'd in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, th'incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!

Hail! the heav'n-born Prince of peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sone of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!


The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree.
2nd Two turtle doves
3rd Three French hens
4th Four calling birds
5th Five golden rings
6th Six geese a-laying
7th Seven swans a-swimming
8th Eight maids a-milking
9th Nine ladies dancing
10th Ten lords a-leaping
11th Eleven pipers piping
12th Twelve drummers drumming.

The song was written by Catholics in England as a catechism song to teach their children about the Christian faith. The song's "gifts" help remember the teachings of the faith.

"True Love" refers to God.

"Me" refers to every Christian.

The other symbols mean the following:

1 Partridge in a Pear Tree = Jesus Christ

2 Turtle Doves = The Old & New Testaments

3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity or the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Trinity

4 Calling Birds = The Four Gospels

5 Golden Rings = First Five Books of the Old Testament

6 Geese-A-Laying = The Six Days of Creation

7 Swans-A-Swimming = The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:8-10)

8 Maids-A-Milking = The Eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10)

9 Ladies Dancing = The Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)

10 Lords-A-Leaping = The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20)

11 Pipers Piping = Eleven Apostles, not Judas

12 Drummers Drumming = The Twelve Points of Doctrine in the Apostle's Creed


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Superstitions

"To have good health throughout the next year, eat an apple on Christmas Eve.

"Eat plum pudding on Christmas and avoid losing a friend before next Christmas."

"On Chrismas Eve all animals can speak. However, it is bad luck to test this superstition."

"The child born on Christmas Day will have a special fortune."

"Wearing new shoes on Christmas Day will bring bad luck."

In Ireland it is believed the gates of Heaven open at midnight on Christmas Eve. Those who die then go straight to Heaven.

If you refuse a mince pie at Christmas dinner, you will have bad luck for the coming day.

If you eat a raw egg before eating anything else on Christmas morning, you will be able to carry heavy weights.

"Snow on Christmas means Easter will be green."

"Good luck will come to the home where a fire is kept burning throughout the Christmas season.

"Place shoes by side on Christmas Eve to prevent a quarreling family."

"A clear star-filled sky on Christmas Eve will bring good crops in the summer."

"A blowing wind on Christmas Day brings good luck."

In Greece, some people burn their old shoes during the Christmas season to prevent misfortunes in the coming year.

In the Swedish countryside, from cock crow to daybreak on Christmas morning the trolls (wicked elves) roam about.

In Devonshire, England, a girl raps at the henhouse door on Christmas Eve. If a rooster crows, she will marry within the year.

You will have as many happy months in the coming year, as the number of houses you eat mince pies in during Christmas time.

"It is hugely unlucky to send carolers away empty-handed, no matter how badly they sing.  One might be a king in disguise, after all.  Offer food, a drink, or a bit of money."

"Shout 'Christmas Gift' to the first person knocking on your door on Christmas Day and expect to receive a gift from the visitor.


Frosty the snowman

Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
and two eyes made out of coal
Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale they say
He was made of snow but the children
know how he came to life one day
There must have been some magic in that
old silk hat they found
For when they placed it on his head
he began to dance around
Frosty the snowman
was alive as he could be
And the children say he could laugh
and play just the same as you and me
Thumpetty thump thump
thumpety thump thump
Look at Frosty go
Thumpetty thump thump
thumpety thump thump
Over the hills of snow
Frosty the snowman knew
the sun was hot that day
So he said
"Let's run and
we'll have some fun
now before I melt away
" Down to the village
with a broomstick in his hand
Running here and there all
around the square saying
Catch me if you can
He led them down the streets of town
right to the traffic cop
And he only paused a moment when
he heard him holler "Stop!"
For Frosty the snow man
had to hurry on his way
But he waved goodbye saying
"Don't you cry
I'll be back again some day
" Thumpetty thump thump
thumpety thump thump
Look at Frosty go
Thumpetty thump thump
thumpety thump thump
Over the hills of snow

Christmas carol origins

Christmas caroling is an age-old tradition that has been around for decades, but the actual origin of the tradition is something that is much debated. There are three popular accounts for how Christmas caroling became such a popular tradition.

The first possible origin lies in the search for a little girl who went missing in London in the late 1800s. Since Jack the Ripper was still on the loose, her family and friends were worried that she was a victim or that they would become victims themselves while they searched for her. Legend has it that they started singing Christmas carols as they went from door-to-door, searching, to show that they were harmless.

Another possible origin for Christmas caroling is that the tradition was started by the town drunks, who would go from door-to-door, singing, hoping to get a few dollars.

The last possible origin for this holiday tradition has its roots in the mid-1800s, when Prince Albert married Victoria and English peasants wants to impress the new royal family by serenading them with carols. It’s been said that caroling was a tradition from that day forward, and that the tradition made its way to America through the Methodist and Lutheran churches.

I believe in the concept of going door-to-door caroling.  That's what traditionally I am used to, even as a kid. It's lot of fun and you never become tired - if it's managed well.  For many years, our family used to go along with the carolers wearing Santa hats to the entire household at our church, regardless of the distance/cold.  In the recent years, the prayer group we belong to, as a group, has decided to slightly deviate from that traditional approach to suit convenience (I call it laziness).  Anyway, we plan to go listen to the carolers on the 12th and take part.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dreams about Christmas

In the wall of a beautiful house lives a mouse named Martin. He lives there with his mom and dad, sisters and brothers. Many other relatives and friends also live there. Martin is a small white mouse who loves adventure. He prefers for others to call him Marty. He has been known to wonder off into the big house. His parents have told him it is unsafe for him to go in the big house alone. Not even the warning from his parents can keep Marty from exploring the house. There are simply too many treasures he can bring back home to his family.

In the big house Marty can always find incredible things his family can use. One time his family needed a new trash can. At the big house Marty found the cap off an old tube of toothpaste. It was the perfect size. Marty's family's favorite treat is the crumbs from the scrumptious food the family in the big house eat. Marty's family enjoyed the tissue he brought home from one trip to the big house. The tissues became washcloths, curtains, tablecloths, and towels. Marty's mom lined their bed with tissues to keep everyone warm and cozy. Marty felt lucky that he had found the box of forgotten tissues under the sink in the bathroom. He could take home as many tissues as he could carry. Marty kept an eye for the lid on the cotton ball jar to be left open. It would be a great surprise to bring his family home fluffy cotton ball pillows.

During Marty's latest adventure to the big house he explored the drawer inside a desk. He became scared when he heard the little girl who lived in the big house talking with her mother about Santa himself. Christmas is Marty's favorite holiday. Each year he would write Santa letters with all his sisters and brothers. His parents told all their children stories about Santa's nice list and the dreaded naughty list. It made him think about how he was disobeying his parents each time he went to the big house alone. Marty wasn't only worried about the voice of the little girl and her mother but also about his name being put on Santa's naughty list.

Marty listened as the little girl talked to her mom about writing a Santa letters. To his surprise the little girl opened the drawer he was hiding in. As the drawer slid open Marty scuttled to the back corner of the drawer. He tucked his head under his arm and wrapped his tail tightly around his body. He stayed perfectly still hoping his ears sticking up wouldn't give him away. When he peeked around his arm he saw that the little girl was smiling down at him. The little girl looked very nice. Marty's plan was to tell the little girl he was sorry he snuck into her drawer and promise her he would never be back again and next he would make a dash to his mouse hole in the corner of the room. If he was quick he might make it past the little girl to the safety of his home.

The little girl surprised Marty by reaching down with her big hand and gently petting the top of his head. He was amazed how soft her huge hand could be. He knew right away he liked the girl because her hands smelled like the most wonderful candy. Marty tried to imagine how good that candy must taste. The little girl told Marty her name was Hailei and that she would never hurt him or any other animal. Hailei told Marty that she would love to take care of him. Hailei did something that shocked Marty. At his feet Hailei placed a plump green jelly bean. Marty never had a human give him anything before. He listened and ate while Hailei talked about Christmas and the importance of Santa letters sent from the North Pole.

Hailei insisted that receiving personalized letters from Santa was the best gift anyone could receive for Christmas. She told Marty that if you get letters from Santa you are being remembered in a very special way. Marty thought about all of the letters he had wrote to Santa over the years. He knew he should write a letter to Santa to explain why he disobeyed his parents again. Marty hoped Santa would see he only wanted to collect some of the glitter that Hailei had spilled in the drawer. The glitter would be the perfect finishing touch to the tree his father had brought home.

The little girl gave Marty a tiny change purse. Inside Hailei had packed buttons, a rainbow of string and ribbons, candy, glitter and enough cotton balls for his whole family. Hailei invited Marty to come back as soon as he could. He was so excited because Hailei said she would give him more stuff that he could take home to his family. Marty went to sleep that night on a soft pillow made of cotton. He dreamed of Christmas magic and Santa letters.


Dr. Joel Poinsett, who was the first ambassador to Mexico, brought the bright red star-shaped flower to the United States. Hence, it was names as Poinsettia. It is also known as 'Flame Leaf' or 'Flower of the Holy Night'. The legend related to this favorite Christmas flower is Mexican too. However, there are two versions of the story. In one version, the two small children of the story are known as Maria and her little brother Pablo; while in another version, two cousins are mentioned by the names of Pepita and Pedro. Whatever be the names, the story goes like this:

There was once a brother-sister pair who was very poor. They lived in a village and they had barely enough to eat two full meals a day. As the Christmas time approached, festivities, parades and parties in the village attracted the children. The gaiety of the season in itself was quite charismatic. Moreover, a large manger scene was being set up in the village church and all the children were eager to go to Baby Jesus and give him the best present. Mario and Pablo also wanted to give expensive presents to the Holy Child that He will love. While all children were discussing, what they think is best for the baby and what they will buy as the gift for Him, Mario and Pablo knew that they had no money to buy the presents and had nothing that they could gift to the child.

Yet, they could not let go of the temptation to see the baby just once and give something to Him. On Christmas Eve, Maria and Pablo set out for church a little earlier than others to attend the service. Since they had nothing to give to the child, they thought of plucking some weeds that was growing along the roadside to make a soft bed for Baby Jesus and decorate his crib. While they were still decorating the crib of the Baby, other children also arrived. Now, children can be very cruel when it comes to teasing and making fun of others. Mario and Pablo were almost in tears for shame and helplessness when a miracle occurred. Suddenly, the weeds burst into bright red petals that looked like stars and were so beautiful that everyone was awed by their beauty. Everybody realized and said that a gift of love is dearer to Jesus than the most expensive presents that money could buy. Ever since then, Poinsettia flowers have become favorites for Christmas decorations.

Credits:World of Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Let your heart be light,
From now on our troubles
Will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on our troubles
Will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore,
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together
If the Fates allow,
Hang a shining star
Upon the highest bough,
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas now.


Here we are as in olden days, 
Happy golden days of yore, 
Faithful friends who are dear to us 
Gather near to us once more. 

Through the years 
We all will be together 
If the Fates allow, 
Hang a shining star 
Upon the highest bough, 
And have yourself 
A merry little Christmas now.

Cranberry Punch

Here is some holiday recipe for Christmas.  It's to make some cranberry punch.

1 cup orange juice
2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups pineapple juice
4 cups ginger ale, chilled
3/4 cup triple sec (optional)
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced

In a large glass container, combine ingredients and chill thoroughly.

Just before serving, slowly stir in the ginger ale. Pour into a punch bowl or large jug and add ice cubes.

Effort: Easy & Simple
Estimated time: 20 mins + chilling as necessary.
Serving: About 1.5 Quart

On the presentation of the punch to your guests, let your imagination run wild.  Sky is the limit.  You can be creative. While cutting the lime, cut them in round fashion and you'll notice those round lime pieces floating in your punch. While serving it, always serve it in transparent glass containers.  The idea is that the guest should be able to see the sparkling red color of the punch.  Now, if you have few people while serving, consider adding a cinnamon stick instead of a stirrer (in their transparent glass). Cinnamon stick was not in the original ingredient list.  Few cranberries in the serving glass will also look good - but make sure those are ripe; else they won't work.  

Cranberry punch is a good choice for a family get together at holiday time with a citrus bite. If you are considering slightly less sweeter punch, substitute seltzer or club soda instead of ginger ale.

If you are a beginner in the kitchen, you may not get it right the first time, but while attempting to make it you will learn a lot.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas lights

Here is something I came across, while posting various popular Christmas songs.  This one is not exactly a song, but just music.

Everyone with the spirit of Christmas has already put up lights and decorations.  I can even see the twinkle in some people's eyes this season.  Some are bit late in putting up lights and decoration due to busy schedule and some are still thinking of it :-)  Welcome and just join the celebration that's in store and that's exactly what counts.  

You will appreciate this video once you have gone through decorating your house and know how much patience you need, plus all those lights and related things.  Make sure you watch this video. 

Cool eh? I felt like watching it up close.

Another set of people tried the same. These guys did not do well in recording the music and shooting the video well - but worth watching by jacking up your volume.

Another set of guys tried mimicking the first one. They called it 'Christmas Lights Gone Wild'. Their recording (audio & video) is better. Here is what they had to present:

There are many such videos on youtube, of similar style.  If you come across something worthwhile, feel free to share with me too.  I'll be interested.

Christmas Shoes

It was almost Christmas time,
there I stood in another line
tryin' to buy that last gift or two,
not really in the Christmas mood.

Standing right in front of me
was a little boy waiting anxiously.
Pacin' around like little boys do,
and in his hands he held
a pair of shoes

And his clothes were worn and old.
He was dirty from head to toe.
And when it came his time to pay,
I couldn't believe what I heard him say,

"Sir, I wanna buy these shoes, for my momma please.
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size.
Could you hurry sir?
Daddy says there's not much time.
You see she's been sick for quite a while,
and I know these shoes will make her smile,
and I want her to look beautiful,
if momma meets Jesus tonight."

They counted pennies for what seemed like years,
then the cashier said, "Son there's not enough here."
He searched his pockets frantically.
Then he turned and he looked at me.
He said, "Momma made Christmas good at our house
though, most years she just did without.
Tell me sir, what am I gonna do?
Somehow I gotta buy her these Christmas shoes."

So I laid the money down.
I just had to help him out.
And I'll never forget
the look on his face
when he said, "Momma's gonna look so great."

"Sir, I wanna buy these shoes, for my momma please.
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size.
Could you hurry sir?
Daddy says there's not much time.
You see she's been sick for quite a while,
and I know these shoes will make her smile,
and I want her to look beautiful,
if momma meets Jesus tonight."

I knew I caught a glimpse of Heaven's love
as he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God has sent that little boy to remind me
what Christmas is all about.

"Sir, I wanna buy these shoes, for my momma please.
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size.
Could you hurry sir?
Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while,
and I know these shoes will make her smile,
and I want her to look beautiful,
if momma meets Jesus tonight."

I want her to look beautiful,
if momma meets Jesus tonight.

Away in a Manger

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.

All I want for Christmas

Every body stops
and stares at me
These two teeth are
gone as you can see
I don't know just who
to blame for this catastrophe!
But my one wish on Christmas Eve
is as plain as it can be!

All I want for Christmas
is my two front teeth,
my two front teeth,
see my two front teeth!

Gee, if I could only
have my two front teeth,
then I could be with you
"Merry Christmas."
It seems so long since I could say,
"Sister Susie sitting on a thistle!"

Gosh oh gee, how happy I'd be,
if I could only whistle (thhhh)

All I want for Christmas
is my two front teeth,
my two front teeth,
see my two front teeth.
Gee, if I could only
have my two front teeth,
then I could wish you
"Merry Christmas!"

The Dime

Here is a story that made email rounds last year during Christmas.  If you've read it, do read it again.

Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn't wear boots; he didn't like them and anyway he didn't own any. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold. Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother's Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend."

Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far.

What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sister, who ran the house hold in their mother's absence. All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing.

Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn't easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to. Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window.

Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach.

It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment.

As he held his new-found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when the salesperson told him that he couldn't buy anything with only a dime.

He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering.

Then he put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said to him, "You just wait here and I'll see what I can do for you." As Bobby waited he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.

The sound of the door closing as the last customer left, jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter.

There, before Bobby's eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box.

"That will be ten cents young man," the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime. Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime!

Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?"

This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, "Merry Christmas son."

As he returned inside, the shop keeper's wife walked out. "Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?"

Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, "A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn't sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway.

Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.

"When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too, was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars. "When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses." The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn't feel cold at all.

May this story instill the spirit of CHRISTmas in you enough to pass this act along.

Have a Joyous and Peace-filled season.

Goodness is the only investment that doesn't fail.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Reindeer Olive

A game show contestant was only 200 points behind the leader and about to answer the final question - worth 500 points!

"To be today's champion," the show's smiling host intoned, "name two of Santa's reindeer."

The contestant, a man in his early thirties, gave a sigh of relief, gratified that he had drawn such an easy question. "Rudolph!" he said confidently, "and, ...Olive!"

The studio audience started to applaud (like the little sign above their heads said to do,) but the clapping quickly faded into mumbling, and the confused host replied, "Yes, we'll accept Rudolph, but could you please explain... 'Olive?!?'"

"You know," the man circled his hand forward impatiently and began to sing, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glowed. Olive,* the other reindeer..."

If you do not get it, here is the lyrics for the song:

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.

If you still don't get it,
Our contestant thought it was 'Olive the other reindeer' instead of
'All of the other reindeer'


All I want for Christmas is you

There are many favorite songs that we repeatedly hear every Christmas.  I shall post some of them here, on a daily basis, along with lyrics.

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There's just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is...

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There's just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I don't need to hang my stocking
There upon the fireplace
Santa Claus won't make me happy
With a toy on Christmas day
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you
You baby

I won't ask for much this Christmas
I don't even wish for snow
I'm just gonna keep on waiting
Underneath the mistletoe
I won't make a list and send it
To the North Pole for Saint Nick
I won't even stay awake to
Hear those magic reindeers click
'Cause I just want you here tonight
Holding on to me so tight
What more can I do
Baby all I want for Christmas is you
Ooh baby
All the lights are shining
So brightly everywhere
And the sound of children's
Laughter fills the air
And everyone is singing
I hear those sleigh bells ringing
Santa won't you bring me the one I really need
Won't you please bring my baby to me...

Oh I don't want a lot for Christmas
This is all I'm asking for
I just want to see my baby
Standing right outside my door
Oh I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
Baby all I want for Christmas is...

All I want for Christmas is you... baby (repeat and fade)

Women - Strange; Men - Weird

Psychologist, Bruce Christopher is one of the most sought after speakers in the Fortune 500.  Here is one of his articles about communication:

Yes, it's true: men and women do speak different languages!

As a psychologist, I can assure you that the greatest commodity you possess is your ability to communicate. People who are excellent communicators have better relationships, better marriages, raise more functional children - and they tend to be more successful in their careers. In fact, many years ago a classic survey was done to graduates of the Stanford University engineering department; they wanted to find out what made a great engineer. The results were significant; the respondents indicated that only 20% of their success was due to their technical expertise, while the other 80% was due to their people skills.

Think about what makes your company great. It is not your organization's fine technology or its spiffy offices; it's you! It is the people that make a corporation a phenomenal one. Communication is also the greatest commodity of your organization; your ability to communicate with your teammates, your customers and clientele is what makes you successful. That's why companies are called "organizations" - it is an organism, a living entity made up of real people who give it energy with their interpersonal interactions. Communication runs your company.

About 4 years ago in San Diego, a woman introduced me to the audience and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I think about Bruce Christopher every single day." Wow, I thought, what a nice thing to say. She continued, "The reason I think about him everyday is because three years ago in a seminar, he taught me how men think and speak differently from women. I still apply those concepts and strategies whenever I talk to my male colleagues at work and my husband at home." Another "Wow" - three years of retention and application after a training seminar is fantastic!

But what happens whenever we try to communicate with someone of the opposite sex? A whole new dynamic takes over and it often feels like we are talking to someone from another planet!

In my seminar on "Voice Mail/Voice Female", I ask the audience to understand these three very important points:

Men and women THINK differently
Men and women SPEAK differently
Men and women DECIDE differently

If you are not aware of these differences, you will not be an effective communicator when dealing with your opposite sex colleagues, customers, and teammates.

My first experience involved a very good client, who happens to be a woman. Upon arriving for a very important meeting with her I kept in mind your comment that women hold eye contact for an average of 12 seconds, and men hold eye contact an average of 3 seconds, leading women to believe that men don't hear them. I decided to test your theory and apply your "12 second" technique. As she talked to me, I kept eye contact with her for 12 seconds. . .believe me, they seemed like very long 12 seconds. However, because of my attention to eye contact, she felt I really understood her needs and it ended up being one of the most successful meetings I ever had with her.

Before testing your theories, I never understood how soft skills, such as gender difference communication, could directly impact my bottom line.

How do men and women think differently?
Men and women are equally intelligent but men and women tend to view the world through differing frameworks. To put it succinctly, men think COMPARTMENTALLY and women think GLOBALLY: it all has to do with how men and women store information and file away data in their cognitive memory banks.

Men, who think compartmentally, tend to separate out details and store them in distinct "compartments" which I liken to a file-cabinet-drawer system. A man, in his mind, has a file drawer for work, one for wife, for hobbies, etc, Because of this cognitive framework, men tend to open and close the "drawers" which they need in the immediate moment and they tend to stay exclusively in that compartment. The result is that when a man is in one compartment, nothing else exists except that one compartment.

Women, on the other hand, tend to see life from a more global perspective. Whereas men separate things out, women tend to do the opposite and connect things up. Women see the underlying connections and the interrelated detail and data more clearly than men do. It is interesting to sit in a staff meeting and observe how the men see the end objective clearly, but they may have a more difficult time perceiving how one underlying piece of information could swing around and impact the end result later on. Yet the women in the group see this possibility more readily. Both ways of thinking, compartmental and global, are great ways to think, they both have their own inherent strengths and weaknesses; but put us together on the same team, or in the same relationship, and the mysteries start.

An example, which most people in corporate America can relate to, is being in conflict with someone of the opposite sex at work. For example, Joe and Sally are having an important business discussion on Friday afternoon in the office. They have different views on an issue and are both emotionally invested in their respective positions. Then, five o'clock comes and it's time to go home and enjoy the weekend, but the discussion was never finished and a resolution was not achieved. What does the man in our story do? He goes home, closes his work file-drawer-compartment, opens up the weekend compartment and stays in that drawer all weekend long. I generally ask my audience what happens for the female in this example; all the women in the group answer immediately, "She stews about that conflict all weekend!" She ruminates and thinks about the unresolved issue with her teammate, and come Monday morning wants to find some closure to the problem.

Then the most amazing thing happens on Monday. Joe, arrives at work and closes his weekend-file-drawer-compartment and opens up the Monday-morning-at-work-file-drawer-compartment. Sally approaches him and wants to revisit the discussion from last week. She says, "Joe, could we talk a little more about the issue from last week?" And guess what he says. "What issue? Oh that? That's in the past. It's water under the bridge. I can't believe you are bringing that up again!" And he thinks that she is just trying to drag him through old issues just for the fun of it. He can't understand why she can't let go of the past.

In actuality what is happening is the difference between compartmental and global thinking patterns. He perceives no connection between the fight from last week and working together this week - he has compartmentally separated them out. For her, she feels an underlying connection between conflict and a successful working relationship. Far from wanting to drag him through the past again, she is doing a reality-check; "we were in conflict last week, I just want to make sure things are resolved so that we can get on with the business at hand."

One of the great tensions that women feel in business is a sense of being left hanging and not finding closure in conflict. Men tend to close the drawer on conflict prematurely and may not see how unresolved issues can actually hinder performance and office morale. This is one small example of compartmental vs. global thinking. Can you think of other ways that these differing cognitive frameworks can create tension between men and women in business?

How do men and women speak differently?

Because of culture and differences in how little boys and girls are raised, adult men and women tend to have differing interpersonal styles which can create misunderstanding and communication mis-fires.

Women tend to use an interpersonal style which is more historical and presented in a narrative fashion. Background and context are important pieces in the "Voice-Female. " In my seminars, I tell the audience that women speak in paragraph form supported with lots of details, and most importantly, the bottom-line coming at the end of the story. Makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Where else would you put the bottom-line except at the end of the story. Women enjoy the suspense of working up to the bottom-line, for the joy is in the telling of the story.

However, men experience this enjoyment as agitation. Because in the "Voice-Male," men do not speak in paragraphs, they speak in phrases. Shorter, clipped, reporting statements without a lot of detail and surprisingly (or maybe not) the bottom-line comes not last, but first. And sometimes that's all you get! Which of course, can lead to excessive frustration for the female.

In the average day, it has been estimated that a man speaks 12,500 words and a woman speaks about 25,000 words. This leads to the old joke about a man going to work and using up 12,495 words and coming home with only five words left! So when he arrives at home he says, "What's for dinner?" (that's three) and "Good night" (that's five!)

Dr. Debra Tannen, a linguist and author on the subject, says that men and women use communication for different purposes. The purpose of communication for a man is to report a fact, while women use communication to build rapport. The mis-match of Report-Talk vs. Rapport-Talk can increase our interpersonal friction with the opposite sex at home and at work.

For example, at the end of the day, wife may ask husband, "Hi honey, how was your day?" He answers the bottom-line: "Fine" - which is "Voice-Male" code for "nobody died and I still have a job; what else could you possibly want to know?" Of course what she is hoping for in her own language is more of a historical narrative with some details, which she does not get and thus may complain, "He never tells me anything. I have no idea what is going on in his life."

At work, men and women also can speak different languages. Remember Joe and Sally who work at the same company? One day, Joe approaches Sally and asks her a bad question, "Sally, I wasn't at the staff meeting today, can you tell me what happened?" According to his "Voice-Male", what Joe wants to hear is simply the bottom-line; really only about a six word answer which sounds like this: "Joe, we postponed the Johnson proposal." That's the bottom-line isn't it. But Joe never asked for the bottom-line, so Sally speaks her own language to him and gives him "Voice-Female".

She speaks in historical narrative fashion, supported with lots of detail, and at the end she says the bottom-line last. . ."And Joe, we postponed the Johnson proposal."

I often ask the women in my audience, "As you speak to a male colleague in historical narrative, have you ever noticed their eyes glaze over?" This usually gets a round of applause. Women begin to believe that men are not listening to them, and of course the answer is that they are not. Not because men don't care what women say, it's all about how it is said. "Men cannot hear you women," I say to them, "because you are speaking a foreign language to them. You are not giving them 'Voice-Male', you are giving them 'Voice-Female'."

In order to fix this communication chasm, both men and women make strategic mistakes. Sally, who knows that she is being tuned out, does what we Americans often do when we are in another country and we do not speak the native tongue: we speak our own language louder and slower. Sally may actually increase her historical narrative, giving more details and background, and/or raise her voice to get his attention. This tends to not work with men and Joe falls into the habitual trait that men often employ with women; he interrupts her. Studies demonstrate that men interrupt women in conversation 75% to 90% of the time. He finishes her sentence for her, cuts her off, gets her to change subjects or hurry up - all because he is agitated and waiting for what he really wants, the bottom-line.

Due to the fact that men and women are working together more closely than ever before, the opportunity for communication chasms to appear are far more probable.

It has been approximated that in a single day, the average office person can waste up to 38% of their day dealing with communication mis-fires and interpersonal tensions in the office. Other studies have observed that up to 70% of what you say to the opposite sex is either misunderstood or not heard. It is apparent how readily you could increase effectiveness and performance on your job simply by being aware of the different male and female voices.

Great communicators are people who change their approach based upon the person they are talking too.

So what do we do about these cognitive and interpersonal differences? The answer is: we change our approach. The biggest mistake that men make with women is that they relate and communicate with women as if they were men. The biggest mistake that women make with men is that they do the same - they relate and communicate with men as if they were women. In short, we use our own specific "gender voices" on the other sex and we wonder why "they just don't get it." We need to be aware of our own "Voice-Male" and "Voice-Female" styles and be open to changing our "voice" when the need arises.

For example, another way that men and women use different voices is in how we ask for things that we need. Learned from childhood, women often use a style which has been called "hint language." This is when a woman expresses a need, wish, or desire framed in the form of a question, raising her shoulders as if she doesn't know what the answer is. In reality, this is a culturally respectful way that women have learned about how to ask for what they want. Wife may turn to husband and say, "Wouldn't it be nice to go see a movie today?" This is "Voice-Female" for "I want to go see a movie."

Unfortunately, men don't often get the hint. The reason is that hint-language is not part of the "Voice-Male"; men tend to take language very literally, focusing in on the content of the message instead of the hidden meanings in the communication. Given the question, "Wouldn't it be nice to see a movie today?" Men just give the answer - "No." Women wonder, "Does he not hear me or care about what I want?"

A client recently told me this story. One of their female supervisors gave a directive to her male staff member, but she said it in "Voice-Female": "Say Larry, if you don't mind and if you've got some time, would you please finish this project?" Now we all know that what she is really saying is, "Get it done!" But what does Larry actually hear? "Well, I've got a lot of options here," he thinks to himself, "Frankly I do mind and I don't have the time right now so I guess I'll not do it." Two weeks later the female supervisor approached Larry and asked why he hadn't finished the project.

What are the true stories of communication mis-fires in your business? Have you noticed that men and women speak a different language and have different "voices?" If you have, then try to change your approach when speaking with the other gender.

Men Can
  • Men need to use "Voice-Female" when speaking with women. For example
  • Increase historical details
  • Give more background and context
  • Remember that women use communication to build rapport-connections
  • Spend more time asking questions and listening, moving slowly to the bottom line
  • When you listen, be sure to maintain eye contact, nod your head, be attentive and give what I call "listening noises" (i.e.; "Uh-huh, umm, hmmm"). Why do you do this? Because this is the "Voice-Female"; women give off interpersonal signals to the speaker of the conversation which lets them know they are being heard. A woman feels heard by another woman because of her listening noises.
  • Increase non-verbal excellence in communication by trying to read between the lines when listening to women; work on picking up some of the hints that she may be dropping for you. Listening is the art of communicating.
Women Can
  • Women need to use "Voice-Male" when talking to men. For example:
  • Give the bottom-line first
  • Resist the thought that he needs the context and the background. A great technique to try is to simply give him the bottom-line and then ask him if he wants more detail. Most of the time you will be surprised because he actually will. "Sally, what happened at the staff meeting?" says Joe. "Well Joe," says Sally, "We decided to postpone the Johnson proposal." (pause and then continue) "Would you like to hear more details about that?" This is "Voice-Male." Try it and you may find the men in your life hearing you and remembering what you say more effectively.
  • Avoid speaking in hint language. Remember that men tend not to hear the hints; they hear a question that needs an answer - so they answer it. Be direct. Instead of saying, "Wouldn't it be nice to go see a movie today?" Speak in "I statements" such as "I want" or "I need" - try not to put men in the position of reading your mind or guessing what you are saying. Women, who have become excellent leaders, have learned the art of assertive and respectful communication that doesn't sound pushy or aggressive.
Remember that when it comes to communication, delivery is everything. It's more of how you are saying it, than what you are saying.

I worked with one client who was an outstanding female consultant, yet her business was not generating enough revenue to keep her busy. In reviewing some of her written proposals, I found she was speaking in "Voice Female"; the "bottom-line" in her proposals were on the last page of a 30 page document. Knowing that her potential clients were men, I suggested she place the bottom line on the first page and then follow it with the details of the proposal. Her sales increased immediately. It was necessary for her to change her approach to fit the interpersonal style of her customers, who were men.

Take a piece of paper and outline ways that you can change your approach to more effectively communicate with members of the opposite sex in your profession. Imagine the opportunity to increase your success with your customers and colleagues just by speaking in a way so they can hear you. Remember, speak THEIR language, not yours.


Recipe for Christmas

Take a heap of child-like wonder
That opens up our eyes
To the unexpected gifts in life—
Each day a sweet surprise.
Mix in fond appreciation
For the people whom we know;
Like festive Christmas candles,
Each one has a special glow.
Add some giggles and some laughter,
A dash of Christmas food,
(Amazing how a piece of pie
Improves our attitude!)
Stir it all with human kindness;
Wrap it up in love and peace,
Decorate with optimism, and
Our joy will never cease.
If we use this healthy recipe,
We know we will remember
To be in the Christmas spirit,
Even when it's not December.

Credits J Fuchs

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas eve

C is for Christ, Son of God, and Lord of Love.
H is for Heaven, blessing each and all from above.
R is for Remembering the words to your favorite carol.
I is for the Icicles hanging inside every barrel.
S is for Stockings stuffed up to the knee.
T is for the Tinsel that Mom wrapped 'round the tree.
M is for Mistletoe hung from the wall.
A is for my Advent Calendars that decorate the hall.
S is for Santa and his eight reindeer.
E is for the Eggnog that fills us with cheer.
V is for Visiting all our family and friends.
E is for Everyone who is sad when Christmas ends.


Christmas decorations

Today evening, I was able to take some pictures of our house today.  I am publishing them right away, in a hurry, and are not arranged well.  We've done all these decorations just by ourselves and feel good about it.  

PS: These pictures are not arranged in any order (not sure if there are duplicates/repeats too).  

Let's stay happy this Christmas

For all of us, Christmas is a time when emotions run wild and stress levels can soar – so many activities to do, so many people to think about, so much to get done.

This year, our first priority is our family and we decided to spend all our time and energy on our family, within our house. Unlike past years, I do not have any commitment at Sunday school or church to devote my time. All I am doing is getting to know my family better, and spend time with them. Still, I find that time is limited.

My main objectives are:

1. To find the spirit of reconciliation - to reconcile with one another and strengthen our family bond.

2. To find the spirit of reconnection - to reach out to our outer family members and to reconnect with God for granting us all the happiness.

3. To find the spirit of rejoicing - to get rid of gloominess, help each other and to brighten each other

4. To find the spirit of generosity - to give those who don't have much, and be generous.

I have decided to be extremely happy this Christmas season. Now, if you choose to make the Christmas season a happy season, you are welcome and free to join me. There’s no need to chant it loudly and aggressively as we tend to do when we are trying to convince ourselves and others about something! I will do my best to post Christmas related messages, poems, songs and stories to brighten all of us. There is no need to be gloomy or sad. Let's all be happy - very happy.

So, how about starting today, now, with deep conviction let us light up ourselves and be happy for the rest of the Christmas season.