Best Wishes To All
Holiday Dogs, Biscuit and Gravy, are courtesy of Richard Bradley's website, A Rock In My SHoe
Holiday Turning Point...
It was Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol that transformed Christmas, first in Victorian England as the industrial age was barreling ahead, and then throughout Europe. Dicken's notion that the true Christmas spirit embodied caring and generouisity -- especially for those less fortunate -- influenced the thinking of multitudes and transformed the holiday.
The ancient orgins of Christmas and of Santa Claus have been traced to many cultures including Scandanavian (especially Danish), Germanic, Dutch and British.
The legend of Santa Claus, himself, was greatly enhanced by the poem A Visit from St Nicholas, written for his children, by the American, Clement Clarke Moore, in 1823.
Images by some of the great illustrators have deeply influenced perceptions of Santa and Chistmas. This is especially true for children. However, significant impressions in the minds of adults were also made by the Dicken's illustrations of John Leech (and later by Arthur Rackham) in Great Britain, and the yearly illustrations by Thomas Nast of A Visit From St Nicholas in the USA.
With the passing of time, the spirit of Christmas has changed. The idea of gifts for children, and then others, has evolved with stories, TV, films, merchants, and ceaseless marketing into an often overwhelming distortion of the original spirit of A Christmas Carol. But the spirit does live on.
A Christmas Carol
"Few works in the history of popular culture have had as much pronounced effect as Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, first published in 1843. While Christmas Day had always been a sacred, solemn feast day within the Christian faith (just as the Winter Solstice had been in many pagan cultures before it), it wasn’t until the middle part of the 1800s that many began to see it less as a site of religious devotion than as a holiday to be celebrated, and to be celebrated most specifically through the act of giving. While A Christmas Carol didn’t spawn this tradition itself, it, more than any other force, popularized it throughout the western world. Through its powerful, secular story of redemption through charity and love, Dickens imparted to all that Christmas was a time to celebrate all that was worthwhile about the human race, most specifically our love for one another, and our compassion for those less fortunate."...
To read the rest of this excellent article by Jonathan Morris, the Antiscribe, follow this link It will take you to his comprehensive and instghtful article on the significance and lasting
impact of Charles Dicken's and A Christmas Carol. Morris also provides, in this article, informed reviews of multiple film and TV versions of A Christmas Carol through the years; he includes photos and video links.
This link will enable you to download/read the original version of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens"
This link will take you to the 1971 Annimated version of A Christmas Carol produced by Chuck Jones, directed by Richard Williams, and with the voice of Alister Sim as Ebeneezer Scrooge. This is a classic and a favorite of Jonathan Morris: Annimated Christmas Carol
The top two illustrations on the left are by John leech. The illustration, on the right, is by Thomas Nast. The illustrator of the bottom left Christmas scene is unknown.
"I don't know what to do.' cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings. `I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody. A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here. Whoop. Hallo.' "--
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
A Foxwoods Holiday Celebration
This wonderful illustration is by Brian Fox-Patterson for a series of children's books by Brian and his wife, Cynthia. To see more of his delightful illustrations, visit Foxwood Tales Illustrations.
"Their first story was published in 1985, and seven more followed. Since then the series of eight children's books have become modern classics. Over 1.3 million copies have been sold across 18 countries." (Wikipedia)
For summaries of six of the books, visit loveReading4Kids. A compilation of four of the Tales can be found in the book, A Foxwood Treasury.
I discovered the Foxwood Tales through the illustrations. I haven't read the books, but I wanted to share the superb illustrations.
Kwanzaa- A Holiday Celebration
by Holly Hartman
"The year 2014 will see the 48th annual Kwanzaa, the African American holiday celebrated from December 26 to January 1. It is estimated that some 18 million African Americans take part in Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, nor is it meant to replace Christmas. It was created by Dr. Maulana "Ron" Karenga, a professor of Black Studies, in 1966. At this time of great social change for African Americans, Karenga sought to design a celebration that would honor the values of ancient African cultures and inspire African Americans who were working for progress.
Kwanzaa is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years."...Kwanzaa ends with a feast and gift giving... Holidays are forever
“One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Spirit of Christmas Embodied in a Therapy Dog
This is about Susan and Rose. That's Rose in the photos. It is also about the thousands of therapy dogs bringing unconditional love to young and old. Susan Purser is a retired teacher and has been working for several years with Rose in schools , hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. These are Susan's comments about working with Rose.
“No matter who you are or why you do pet therapy, it is the dog that opens the door…doors that would otherwise be closed to a well meaning human...
“I consider myself a facilitator…if my dog could drive, she would not need me. Rose seems to enjoy seeing people multiple times and developing a relationship with the people… She is a working dog by nature and she just loves these jobs. I am constantly amazed at the doors that Rose opens…she goes to places I could never get without her…reaches beyond my reach, touches a person deeper than my touch. The restless or agitated patient who is calmed by Rose’s touch...the child in the classroom who won’t settle down and get to work but when Rose sits by them, they quiet right down and the hyperactivity seems to dissipate. The child getting excited about reading to Rose every week; they wouldn’t do that for me, but they do it for Rose...
It is their touch or look that gives people that inner peace when their world is shrinking or spinning so fast they have lost control. When doors begin the final closing, there is that one last smile, nod, a hand that reaches for a dog that allows some of them to say good bye and close their eyes in peace.”
The photos of Rose are courtesy of Susan Purser.
The Gift of Reading from LitWorld
Here is a joyous video from Litworld, celebrating the joy of reading, the joy of being somebody, the joy of hope. LitWorld gives the gift of reading to disadvantaged and at-risk children around the world...and they do this not only during the Christmas season, but throughout the year!
LitWorld supports hopes, possibilities and lives in fourteen countries around the world! This link will take you to an interactive map of where Litworld works, from Columbia to India and from Kosovo to California. Interactive Map.
Interview With Santa
This interview was conducted as part of a program to determine the truth behind the incredible story of The Snow Valley Heroes....
Interviewer: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and clarifying things.
Santa: I’m happy that the story is finally coming out.
Interviewer: Is it a true story?
Interviewer: Why haven’t we known about it before?
Santa: I think it was lost in the mists of time…It took place hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
Interviewer: Is it true that there was to be no more Christmas?
Santa: I’m sorry to say that it’s true. Until the dogs arrived.
Interviewer: The dogs?
Santa: It was a surprise to all of us in Santa Claus village. None of us, and that includes all the elves,had even heard of dogs.
Interviewer: Is that because you were so far North and rather isolated?
Santa: Well, that and the fact that dogs has just started arriving on planet earth. Prior to that time, there had been no dogs on Earth.
Interviewer: Really! Where did they come from? And how did they find you?
Santa: They had started coming down from their own planet – the Planet of the Dogs. They came down to help people. Somehow, they had heard we were in trouble, and one day, there they were, just like that...
To read all of the Interview With Santa, click this link: Interview with Santa
The illustrations from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, are by Stella Mustanoja McCarty
Free copies of Snow Valley Heroes, a Christmas Tale; Planet Of The Dogs; and Castle In The Mist are available for therapy dog owners and organizations, as well as librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs. Simply email us at email@example.com with your postal address.
All of the Planet Of The Dogs series of books are available through your favorite independent bookstore and online through Barnes&Noble, Amazon, and many other sources.
Here is a link to sample chapters of Snow Valley Heroes
We're on Holiday...The Beagle Freedom Project found us a new home after life in a cage as a test animal....wow!
"The Beagle Freedom Project is a mission to rescue beagles used in animal experimentation in research laboratories and give them a chance at life in a loving forever home."
This wonderful organization has several excellent, touching, videos and clear, basic information: The Beagle Freedom project
"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
―Dr Seuss, How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Finding Fido for Doglovers
"Finding Fido is a book that we believe each and every PetParent should not only read, but own. Finding Fido is a PetParent’s guide to: preventing the loss of their pets in the first place & also serves as a guide to PetParents for essential steps to recovering their pets if they ever are lost. If you’re a first time Pet Parent or a long time, seasoned Pet Parent, there are tips and tricks in here that will be helpful to you!...
As great as this book truly is, we’ve got one detail to share that completely sweetens the pot…the cherry on top if you will. All proceeds from the sale of Finding Fido are donated toward the Beagle Freedom Project " Kaitlin Jenkins- PetParent The cover design and content are by author and dog advocate C.A. Wulff
Holiday Season at the Movies
Fun stories.fantasy and imaginative annimation characterize the holiday movies for children...while dystopia, conflict and bloodshed continue to pour out of YA films.
My hope is that children will see the films intended for them, and stay away from the violence of current YA movies, designed, as Christopher Tolkien says below, as action movies for young people 15 to 25.
JRR Tolkien's son, Christopher, believes that the quest for commercial success by Peter Jackson and the movie industry has destoyed the essence of what his father wrote about the world of Middle Earth in the Hobbit books. Here are excerpts from a post regarding Christopher Tolkien's deep disappointment that appeared on Worldcrunch. The quotes by Tolkien are from an interview he gave to le Monde.
"Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? 'They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25,' Christopher says regretfully. 'And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.'..
This divorce has been systematically driven by the logic of Hollywood. 'Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,' Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. 'The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing' "....
Read the full article on Worldcrunch: My Father's "Eviscerated" Work - Son Of Hobbit Scribe J.R.R. Tolkien Finally Speaks Out
The illustration,"Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raftelves, is by JRR Tolkien.
The Hobbit, Battle of the Five Armies, opens Dec 17. Here is a link to the trailer: Five Armies:
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay1
The story of the Hunger Games continues through the Holiday Season and beyond, with Mockingjay 1. It opened in late November and is off to becoming another huge financial success. Audiences seem to like the film despite the fact that many critics were dissapointed.
Here is an excerpt from the review in the Atlantic by Christopher Orr entitled, Hunger Games: Mockingjay1, Darker, More Relentles than Ever.
"Is the film a bit baggy in places? Sure. Might it have been better if they’d squeezed the whole book into one movie? Probably. Nonetheless, Mockingjay Part 1 is a fine entertainment, shot through with moments of surprising emotional impact."
Here is a link to the Mockingjay1 trailer.
The Dystopian Formula
The dystopian story appears to be a theme for success in today's YA film market. In reviewing The Maze Runner, Jack Cole wrote that The Maze Runner doesn't separate itself from its YA dystopian bretheren. Here is the headline and an excerpt from Cole's insightful review:In 'The Maze Runner,' the maze itself is a letdown and the film presents boring explanations to the plot's mysteries. By Jake Coyle, Associated Press.
Has a cottage industry ever sprung up as fast as the YA land rush brought on by "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games"? I'd like to use a mortal instrument to put an ender to this game. Please, giver me a break.
After reading Jerry Griswold's enthusiastic comments about The Giver in the Unjournal of Children's Literature, I decided to research the movie and write about it. The film was based on a controversial, but well received book by Lois Lowry.The book was published in 1993 and the movie was released in July, 2014. The Giver had a different take on dystopia and the use of violence.
I have now decided to see the movie before writing further about The Giver. To be continued...
Into The Woods
Into the Woods, which seems to be a Disney family film for children, YA, and parents, is now opening on Christmas Day, 2014. The film's slogan, "Be careful what you wish for", relates to the witch, a central character, played by Meryl Streep. Music by Stephen Sondheim, adds to the story, as it did in the original long running Broadway production.
In the story, the witch uses her magical powers to teach lessons in living to Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk. The original production was a big hit with audiences.
Here is a link to the trailer for Into the Woods.
Opens Dec 18... Annie, a family movie, is based on the hit Broadway musical. The cast includes Jamie Fox, Quvenzhane Wallis and Cameron Diaz...Here is a summary from IMDB where you will also find more information, photos and trailers.
Annie looks joyous and entertaining in the trailer preview.
"Annie is a young, happy foster kid who's also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York in 2014. Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they'd be back for her someday, it's been a hard knock life ever since with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan. But everything's about to change..."
Christmas Lights Moving Through the Hills
A Holiday treat, and a wonder to behold, the moving lights are on hundreds of sheep, running in the darkness, guided by sheepdogs...this is a classic video...Moving Lights
From Rescue to Reading...A Holiday Salute
We Salute the Planet Dog Foundation for their years of support for "the exemplary work of non-profit organizations training and placing dogs working to help people in need all over the country."
Through the years, they have given over one million dollars; in 2014, alone, they have given over one hundred thousand dollars.
For more information, here is a link to the Planet Dog website
The photo is from Brigadoon Youth and Service Dog Programs in Bellingham,WA
Circling The Waggins at Christmas
Here is an an excerpt from the doglover's book, Circling the Waggins, by CA Wulff. The dogs seen in the ebook cover (below) are the current residents of the cabin in the woods wherein this saga of a life with rescued dogs takes place.
"I feel like we are haunted by the ghost dog of Christmas past. The season brings a million reminders of our Troll, a dog who had loved Christmas more than any other time of year. He would get excited at the first signs of holiday decorations, and his eyes would shine with a child’s wonder. On Christmas morning, he would race to be the first dog under the tree, to tear at the packages full of biscuits and rawhides. Each of the dogs would tear at a package, but Troll unwrapped with such gusto and fervor, that they would all abandon their presents to stand back and watch him, and then make off with whatever treats he had revealed."
CA Wullf also created the cover for her book.
Way Cool Dogs On Finding a Puppy That's Good for Kids
Choosing the right puppy is a critical decision...here is an excerpt from a helpful article on Way Cool Dogs.
"How do you choose a puppy that is good for your children? It is a question every parent should ask before deciding to adopt one of the small puppy breeds for their child. Toy puppies can make great companions for kids if they are chosen properly, and the child is trained to handle small puppies properly. And to be fair, a child is the only one who can keep up with the boost of energy that puppies seem to be born with!
The good news is that you have a variety of small puppy breeds to choose from: mini Yorkies, Maltese, Havanese, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and many others. Smaller dogs seem to be less intimidating around children. If the puppies are small, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be aggressive with children. You just need to be careful when choosing a perfect small puppy for your home...
The illustration, from Planet Of The Dogs, is by Stella Mustanoja McCarty
Sunbear Squad guides good hearted people like those who sent Sunbear this post....
Christmas Rescue of a Lost Rescue Dog
Are you ready for a sweet Christmas story about a little lost doggy? We were walking our two dogs a few days ago and saw a little scared pup that looked like a Shitzu/Llasa Apso mix. He was limping, his hair was shaved, he had no collar. We scooped the little guy up and brought him home with us. We drove to Petco and Petsmart to ask if they recognized him. No one did. So we had him scanned to see if he was microchipped. He wasn't. So we listed the little fella on Craigslist and a lost and found pup website also. No luck. We called around to a few vet clinics in our area ... to no avail. So we took care of this little lost boy in our home for a few days.
We named the little guy Buddy. He was so sweet. He stayed with us and my two little dogs who played and slept and ate along with him. He seemed to limp a little less as the days went by. We wondered how his life was before he met us. We wondered if he was limping because he may have been a caged dog used for breeding because he was not neutered. We wondered if he came from a loving home or an abusive home. We were getting worried after our fourth day of loving on the little guy...
Here is the link to read the complete post on Sunbear Christmas Rescue.
"Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart." -Washington Irving
Today’s post was first published in Mamalode on October 8th and promoted on Twitter by Brain,Child Magazine. It was an interesting – and somewhat controversial - topic that I asked Jennifer if I could feature it here. We’d both welcome your feedback.
I never intended to do it; really. One second it was a quivering icon, the next it was gone. Just. Like. Magic.
Honestly, it brought on a smile. I’m not trying to be mean. Chalk it up to a Mommy epiphany, a moment of clarity. The day I deleted Minecraft, I liberated myself and you of a virtual, addictive burden. Pressing that shaky, little X ushered you back to real life. That made me happy.
In the beginning, I was a fan.
Compared to the other choices the video game world has to offer, I could see why you wanted to tap the piggy bank to invest in one that requires players to scavenge for resources, earn survival treasure, design landscapes, construct villages, and defend against intruders. As a lifelong rock collector, forager of sorts, visual thinker, and creative designer it appealed to many of your natural sensibilities.
A popular topic of discussion at summer camp and later in the school cafeteria, Minecraft was also something to bond over with friends. Game play and conversations led to art projects, dissecting handbooks, sharing song parodies, and pretend play. It was a vehicle to stretch your imagination, apply ingenuity, problem solve, and socialize. So like organized sports, enrichment programs, and play dates, this Mommy approved video game quickly became outsourcing I could justify.
Not only did I feel like I was doing right by your development; it kept you busy, safe, in an earshot and out of my hair all at the same time. My afternoon was still my own and I didn’t necessarily have to entertain or engage with you all that much.
Then I began to notice screen time and giving up the screen made you cranky and angry. You responded less to Dad and me, ignored guests, and blew off friends playing outside. Preferred downtime was spent in the basement; alone in a Minecraft cave.
Even with the game shut off, I was living with a one note Bubbe on Enderman autopilot. It was all you wanted to talk, draw, write, and think about. And when The Skootch got access, twice the misery ensued.
So in an effort to find balance, we set up a schedule to earn and limit play time.
It didn’t work.
The timer chime was drowned out daily by your pleading, sometimes screaming voice, “I wasn’t done; I just found iron, I need a diamond sword, a creeper destroyed my supplies and all I have left is a raw chicken!”
It was only after the drama escalated to the point where I found myself ripping the IPad from your grip and yelling back, “Who cares; it’s not real!” that I knew we needed a big change.
All craziness combined led me to Deletion Day.
In the future, I’m not ruling out screen time completely; that would make me a hypocrite but Minecraft was sucking wind from your childhood and it needed to go away.
Proof of my decision came the morning after Deletion Day when I read an article about Steve Jobs; the man who invented the tablet on which you play. He was brilliant for many reasons, particularly in his choice to limit his own children’s access to technology.
A few hours later, you played with months old Minecraft Legos for the first time and said, “Mom, this is fun. I never would have known if I kept playing video games.” I then knew we were heading in a better direction.
Your Lego comment got me thinking more about fun and parent approved outsourcing, both today and when I was your age.
Like you, I kept busy after school and like you, my mother gravitated toward outsourcing. She didn’t have insight into child development or the value of play, I’m just pretty sure that when she came home from work, she didn’t want to see my face until dinner.
But I didn’t play video games, do gobs of after school activities, or have scheduled dates to see friends.
I was let out of the house and off the leash; in an earshot of only the person on the bike next to me and left in an unstructured and by modern standards, unsafe environment to play pickup games with neighboring kids, defend myself against obnoxious villagers, explore the nearby pond, collect crystals from a stream, build forts, and roam through the woods.
Call it my own, private Minecraft. No IPad needed.
And it was good fun.
Growing up isn’t easy but parenting isn’t simple. You can’t always get what you want when you want it, and I can’t always do what makes my life easier. In an effort to raise you to be a thinking, well adjusted, connected, kind, happy, independent human being I sometimes have to check myself and then love you enough to say enough.
Your childhood is just out of my reach, but it is not yet out of yours. Embrace. Enjoy. Experience. Take time in the real world to discover unchartered lands, dig caves, build cities, mix it up with the villagers, and have adventures. You’ll be glad you did.
Now go. I’ll see you at dinner.
I Love You,
Jennifer can be reached at: http://www.redsaidwhat.com
Facebook page: Red said what?