Friday, December 31, 2021

Pic of the Day

Solo New Year’s Eve

I was supposed to be going to New Queers Eve (NQE) tonight with friends; however, because of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and rising case numbers, NQE has been postponed until March 4. That means it will be about two weeks after Winter Is a Drag Ball, which has “The Good, The Bad, and The Fabulous” as its theme in 2022. For that, I have an outfit, and with just over two months until the postponed NQE, I should have an outfit figured out for that one too.

Since I will not be going out tonight, I’ll ring in the New Year with Isabella, but she won’t be getting any champagne, although she might get a kiss if she lets me give her one. I am sure by midnight, she’ll be sound asleep, or she’ll be pestering me to go to bed. She doesn’t like me staying up late, which may have everything to do with me sleeping later when I do stay up, and if I sleep later, then she gets fed later. She expects her breakfast no later than 5:45 am, but earlier if possible.

If you do end up going out tonight please be careful. If you don’t know the vaccination status of everyone, and probably even if you do, please wear a mask. Have fun if you do, and I hope you get a kiss from someone you love or just someone you want to make out with or someone you want to be your first fuck of the year. I’ll live vicariously through y’all. 

Photo Credit: Twitter 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Pic of the Day

The Stages of Annoyance

Disclaimer: This post is in total jest. 

I love Isabella, and she seems to love me. However, it’s very hard not to interpret her expressions or even to laugh at some of them. She is probably more full of expressions than any cat I’ve ever had. When she knows I’m about to leave my apartment, usually because I’m getting out of the shower and that means I’m probably going somewhere, she looks up at me with total adoration. She purrs and “talks” to me. She also has that look when I come home. While many cats show annoyance when you come home after you’ve been away (my previous cat did that), Isabella can’t seem to get enough of me when I come home. Eventually, she’ll settle down and usually go to sleep. Most of her expressions, though, show when I have displeased her. If you’ve ever owned a cat, you know the stages of annoyance, even if it’s just the way they move their ears or the way they bite or scratch you, which Isabella can be guilty of at times, but mostly, she really is a very loving cat.

Isabella’s Stages of Annoyance

Stage 1: Opens her eyes just enough to see what’s going on.

Stage 2: “What do you want? You woke me up, it had better be important.”

Stage 3: “Okay, okay, I’m awake now. If you don’t want anything, I’ll go back to sleep.”

Stage 4: The warning, “You may not live through the night for this insolence.”

Stage 5: The final stage is always more sleep.

And, yes, sometimes, she just act like a crazy creature. She gets that look in her eyes that says, “I’m crazy.” Sometimes, she even still chases her tail. While we’ll never know what our pets are thinking, the expressions they make can be quite fun to try and figure out what’s going through their little brains.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Pic of the Day

The Grass Is Greener

Ever since I was a teenager, I have often thought how much simpler my life would have been if I’d been born a female. Just because I say that does not mean I actually wanted to be woman. I love having a penis way too much to want to be anything but a man. However, as a teenager, my parents expected me to play sports because I was a boy. I hated playing sports. My personality did not mesh with the guys who loved playing sports. I was competitive in academics, but I cared nothing about being competitive in sports. I also was not athletic in the least. I was uncoordinated and sports did not come easily to me. My sister on the other hand loved sports. She was very athletic, or at least tried to be, but she was never expected to play sports. So, I always thought, “Wouldn’t it be easier if I was a girl?”

Furthermore, whether I understood it or not, I found myself more attracted to guys. I always had “crushes” on other guys, even though I always fooled myself by saying I admired their physique or their athletic abilities. I even admired how they seemed more confident, though I now know they were not as confident as they seemed. If I’d been born female, my attraction to men would have never been thought about twice.

As I got older and had to go dress more formally, I hated wearing a tie. Women never have to wear a tie. Also, there are always events where it’s never clear how formal a man should dress. For example, Friday night is New Queers Eve in Burlington. I have been trying to figure out what to wear. If I were a woman, I could always wear a LBD, little black dress. I could wear more formal jewelry and look more formal. However, as a man, it’s not such an easy thing. I thought I had one possible outfit, but decided that I just didn’t like it.

I know that it’s not as simple as I have stated. I know that there are expectations of women that there aren’t of men. I also know that deciding what to wear is not as simple as I made it sound. I’ve known far too many women to actually believe that. I’ve also known a fair amount of women who have thought, Wouldn’t it be easier if I was a boy?” I guess it’s all just a case of “the grass is greener on the other side.”

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Pic of the Day

The Passing of the Year

The Passing of the Year

By Robert W. Service


My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,
     My den is all a cosy glow;
And snug before the fire I sit,
     And wait to feel the old year go.
I dedicate to solemn thought
     Amid my too-unthinking days,
This sober moment, sadly fraught
     With much of blame, with little praise.


Old Year! upon the Stage of Time
     You stand to bow your last adieu;
A moment, and the prompter's chime
     Will ring the curtain down on you.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow;
     You falter as a Sage in pain;
Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,
     And face your audience again.

That sphinx-like face, remote, austere,
     Let us all read, whate'er the cost:
O Maiden! why that bitter tear?
     Is it for dear one you have lost?
Is it for fond illusion gone?
     For trusted lover proved untrue?
O sweet girl-face, so sad, so wan
     What hath the Old Year meant to you?

And you, O neighbour on my right
     So sleek, so prosperously clad!
What see you in that aged wight
     That makes your smile so gay and glad?
What opportunity unmissed?
     What golden gain, what pride of place?
What splendid hope? O Optimist!
     What read you in that withered face?

And You, deep shrinking in the gloom,
     What find you in that filmy gaze?
What menace of a tragic doom?
     What dark, condemning yesterdays?
What urge to crime, what evil done?
     What cold, confronting shape of fear?
O haggard, haunted, hidden One
     What see you in the dying year?

And so from face to face I flit,
     The countless eyes that stare and stare;
Some are with approbation lit,
     And some are shadowed with despair.
Some show a smile and some a frown;
     Some joy and hope, some pain and woe:
Enough! Oh, ring the curtain down!
     Old weary year! it's time to go.

My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
     My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
     And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that's true,
     For we've been comrades, you and I --
I thank God for each day of you;
     There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!


About the Poem


“The Passing of the Year” by Robert Service is a beautiful and thoughtful poem about the passing of the year and the beginning of the new. At this critical juncture, the poet, sitting comfortably, talks with the old year. There isn’t much from the poet’s side as it’s much about others with whom the poet converses. They don’t talk with the poet but show how they are, either happy with the passing of the year or sad. However, without remarking much about the poet’s personal affairs the poet bids thanks to the old year at last. Such a poem like this is always rewarding to that person who sits alone and visualizes the year in a recap.


About the Poet


Robert William Service, the renowned poet of the Yukon, was born in Lancashire, England, on January 16, 1874. In 1883 he moved with his family north to Glasgow, Scotland. He attended several of Scotland’s finest schools, where he developed a deep interest in books and poetry, along with a sharp wit and a way with words. 


Service’s innate curiosity and fondness for adventure stories inspired an urge to travel—to go off to sea and to see the world. Although his parents discouraged this adolescent ambition, his desire wasn’t extinguished (and would one day be fulfilled). Service bided his time with assorted jobs—one at a shipping office that soon closed down, then another following his father’s footsteps in a position at a suburban branch of the Commercial Bank of Scotland. Working under light supervision, Service managed to pass the day with reading material he’d snuck in: Robert Browning, Lord Alfred Tennyson, and John Keats. Service developed into an excellent student of poetry, and attended the University of Glasgow to study English Literature. He was quickly identified as one of the brightest in his class, though he also proved to be a bit audacious. After a year, the young poet left the university.


Soon his interests realigned with his aims for adventure. His reading turned to Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson, and their stories of world explorers in search of fortune and, more important, their own identity. In 1895, at the age of twenty-one, with a significant amount of savings, Robert announced his dream of going to Western Canada to become a cowboy. He soon set sail for Montreal with only his suitcase and a letter of reference from the bank in tow. Upon arrival, Service took a train across Canada to Vancouver Island, where he lived for many years and gathered much of the material for what became his most celebrated poems. Many of his experiences working on cowboy ranches, and the colorful personalities he met during his travels around the West, eventually found their place in his work.


Numerous publications followed, including Songs of a Sourdough, published in 1907, which won wide acclaim. His forty-five verse collections accumulated over one thousand poems, the most famous of which include "The Cremation of Sam McGee," "The Shooting of Dan McGrew," and "The Men That Don’t Fit In." To add to his poetic output, Service wrote two autobiographies, Ploughman of the Moon (1945) and Harper of Heaven (1948), as well as six novels. His poem about Dan McGrew and several of his novels were adapted to film. The poet himself managed even to garner an acting credit, appearing briefly opposite Marlene Dietrich in the 1942 movie The Spoilers.


Service served as an ambulance driver during World War I, after which he published Rhymes of a Red Cross Man (Barse & Hopkins, 1916), a collection of mostly war poems. He later married a French woman, Germaine Bougeoin, and the two lived in Europe, mainly in the south of France, until the poet’s death in 1958. By then, his prolific and prosperous career in poetry had earned him the distinction—as stated in an obituary in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph—as "the people’s poet."


He died in Lancieux, France, on September 11, 1958.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Pic of the Day

Post Christmas Post

I hope everyone had a good Christmas. Mine was good. I woke up and made breakfast: scrambled eggs, grits, and biscuits. I opened the gifts my mother sent me after I had breakfast. She sent me two nice sweaters. Thankfully, she didn’t have them monogrammed like she did last year. I watched some television and played some Christmas music before I started making lunch. I cooked an already sliced turkey breast, cornbread dressing, and butter beans. It was a simple meal, but it was all I required. I had ice cream for dessert. I watched one of my favorite holiday movies, Holiday Inn, during the afternoon. It’s a movie of its time, and some scenes are problematic, but I enjoy most of the music. For dinner Christmas night, I took the leftover dressing and the sliced turkey and rolled the dressing in the turkey. I then poured the leftover gravy over the turkey and dressing “rollups.” They were delicious. After dinner, I watched White Christmas, another favorite holiday movie of mine. On Christmas Eve, I’d watched my “must watch” holiday movie, Christmas in Connecticut.

Yesterday, I drove down the West Lebanon, New Hampshire to do a little shopping. I sometimes prefer to go down there because New Hampshire doesn’t have sales taxes. At least it afforded me time to let the ice that covered my car because of the freezing rain on Christmas to melt. I hate freezing rain. It leaves a layer of ice that’s always a pain to get off my car. Plus, everything outside was also covered in ice. After I had lunch  and did my shopping, I realized that I had a bit of a headache and it seemed to be getting worse. By the time I got back home, I had a full blown migraine. I spent the rest of the day either sleeping or lying down watching television. Eventually, I just went to bed early.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Pic of the Day

The Perfect Gift

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
—James 1:17


Many of us received gifts yesterday for Christmas, but our greatest gift came from above. Isaiah 9:6 predicted that gift, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” God sent Jesus to this earth to offer us salvation and to save us from the sins of this world. He taught a message of faith, love, hope, and charity. 


Gift giving at Christmas is a Christian tradition that is widely practiced around the world. However, the practice is not something that is exclusive to Christianity, as several other religions mark the end of the year with a similar custom, such as the Jewish festival of lights Hanukkah or the Hindu celebration of Pancha Ganapati in honor of Lord Ganesha.


In many parts of the Christian world, January 6 is celebrated as Three Kings Day, also known as Epiphany. In Spain and Latin America, Three Kings Day is the day when children receive gifts, not Christmas Day. For many other Christian cultures, the gifts given at Christmas are also symbolic of the tributes made to the baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men, or Magi, after his birth during the story of the Nativity. Matthew 2:1-12 describes the Magi, who tradition gives the names as Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar, journeying to the location of Jesus’s birth by following a star, and upon their arrival, presenting him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.


However, the tradition of gift giving extended long before the founding of Christianity, with roots in the festivals of the ancient Romans—in particular the festival of Saturnalia, where thanks were given to the bounty provided by the agricultural god Saturn. The festivities took place from the 17th to the 23rd of December, and were celebrated with a sacrifice and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continued partying, and a wild atmosphere where social standings were done away with. During this feast, slaves would be considered the equal of their masters and free speech was embraced.


The day that gifts were exchanged in Ancient Rome was known as Sigillaria and took place on the December 19th. As gifts of value were in contradiction to the spirit of the season, the Romans exchanged more modest items, such as candles, seasonal figurines, and ‘gag gifts’, which were designed to amuse or terrify the other guests. Etiquette dictated that the lowlier the gift, the stronger the bond of friendship it was said to represent. Some bosses often gave a gratuity known as a ‘sigillarcium’ to their clients or employees in order to help them purchase their gifts.


Unlike many of the more cultish festivals held in the Roman Empire, Saturnalia was widely celebrated throughout all of the territories of Rome at the end of the calendar year. As it was a much-loved festival thanks to its carefree atmosphere, generous gift-giving, and lavish entertainments, people were less inclined to give up its popular traditions. This made it a lot harder to deal with when the religious status quo changed in the Empire.


The conversion of Emperor Constantine to Christianity in AD 312 signaled the beginning of the end of pagan celebrations in the Empire, but early religious leaders couldn’t simply ban the popular Saturnalia, as there would be a backlash. There is a theory that they used many of the traits of the festival when establishing Christmas, a rival feast that would take Saturnalia’s place, but commemorate a Christian occasion: the birth of Jesus. The exchange of gifts was probably one of the traditions carried over from the old to the new.


The old pagan custom of gift-giving was rationalized into Christianity by attaching strong associations with the gifts of the Magi to Jesus, and was also likely influenced by the life of Nikolaos of Myra, a 4th century saint who was famed for his fondness of giving people gifts. When he was venerated as a saint, he became more widely known as Saint Nicholas, which is recognizable as the origin of the name Santa Claus.


Our greatest Christmas gift though, no matter the tradition’s origins, is the message Jesus brought with his teachings. He gave us the gift of salvation. To honor His birth, which was probably not in late December, we need to remember His message all year long. As James 1:17 reminds us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” Jesus offered us a message of faith, love, hope, and charity, and the best way we can honor is birth is to spears that message. If we live our life in a way that honors the teachings of Jesus, not the teachings of man, we can live by example and show that the world can be a better place. If we honor Jesus’ teachings of love, hope, and charity, then we will have faith in the goodness of this world. It is the greatest gift we can give. Love is chief among those gifts, and love is always free. Give the gift of love today.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Pic of the Day

I think he’s all tuckered out from the Christmas festivities.

Christ Is Born (Luke 2:1-20)

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.


Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.


Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”


And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Moment of Zen: Christmas Cooking

I love cooking for holidays whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, or the Fourth of July. You name it, and I love the food traditions on holidays. Usually, when I go home to Alabama for Christmas break, I do most of the cooking for our Christmas get togethers. My mama isn’t as able as she used to be, so I take up the slack. I usually stay through New Years to cook for that holiday as well. My grandmama always made a very traditional southern New Year’s meal, and after she died, I kept the tradition alive. This year will be the third year in a row that I haven been there to cook for New Years, but maybe next year will be different. My mother has assured me that I will be home next year for Christmas “come hell or high water.” 

This year, like last year, I’ll be doing all the cooking just for myself, though I may take some cornbread dressing down to my neighbor. My plan is to have some turkey, dressing, and a few vegetables. I have some ice cream for dessert.


Friday, December 24, 2021

Pic of the Day

Glitzen, The Most Fabulous Reindeer of All

Early one May at the North Pole, one of Santa’s reindeer gave birth to a little reindeer. When the little reindeer stood for the first time, he fell forward, directly into a pile of glitter meant for Santa’s toy shop. Everybody laughed at the little fella when he stood back up on shaky legs and his nose was covered in glitter. His mother decided then that she would name the boy Glitzen a portmanteau of her father Blitzen’s name and the glitter he fell into. As Glitzen began to grow, everyone noticed that his nose continued to sparkle. It seemed he never could get rid of all of that glitter that was his first encounter in this world.


All of the boy reindeers used to laugh and call him names. Glitzen knew he was different. Instead of playing reindeer games with the other bucks, he preferred to prance and dance around with the does. He always had a great time with the young does, and he always felt more conformable with them. They never laughed and called him names, and he always seemed to have the best ideas on how to make the does more fabulous. Glitzen had a natural instinct for fashion and decorating. He knew just how to make anyone and everything seem more fabulous. The young bucks refused to have anything to do with him. His parents loved him, but his father was always a little embarrassed by his son. His mother knew her son was different, but she loved how confident he was in himself, even when the other reindeer bullied him.


One year, the world seemed especially gloomy. A pandemic had swept over the Earth. Santa’s elves just didn’t have the spark they usually had. The toys didn’t sparkle, and the wrapped packages were drab. Santa was so disappointed, but he understood that when the world was gloomy, the North Pole was always gloomy as well. Everything in Santa’s Village at the North Pole fed on the energy of the world. When the world was unhappy, Santa’s Village was unhappy too. Santa was blue too, but he tried to keep his spirits up for all those at the North Pole. Santa decided to walk around his Village to try to cheer everyone up and maybe get some spark back around the place.


As Santa walked around, he noticed that the reindeer were not playing any games, just moping around. The elves had no pep in their work making toys, and it showed with the toys they were making. As Santa continued to walk around he heard laughter and singing from somewhere. Santa immediately perked up because someone was obviously having fun. Santa followed the sound to see where the joy was coming from. He entered the barn to see a fabulous sight, a group of young reindeer were dancing and singing. It looked like they were being led by a young reindeer with glitter on his nose and a string of lights in his antlers. The young buck’s bells were making the most wonderous noise, and all seemed to be enjoying themselves.


Santa said, “Everyone outside and in the toy shop was so gloomy, what happened in here to make everyone so festive?” All of the reindeer just laughed and pointed to Glitzen. Santa said, “Glitzen, my boy, how are you able to be so cheerful when everyone else is so gloomy?”


Glitzen looked at Santa and said, “Santa, we can’t all be gloom and doom. Someone has to get the Spirit of Christmas in the air. A little glitter, some lights, and bells can make the world a bit merrier again. I just wanted to show everyone that we need a little Christmas right now.” Then, Glitzen began to sing:


Haul out the holly

Put up the tree before my spirit falls again

Fill up the stocking

I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now.


For we need a little Christmas, right this very minute

Candles in the window, carols at the spinet

Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute

Hasn't snowed a single flurry, but Santa dear we're in a hurry.


Santa joined in singing:


I need to climb down the chimney

Turn on the brightest string of lights I've ever seen

Slice up the fruit cake

It's time we've hung some tinsel on the evergreen bough.


Before anyone realized what was going on, the cheer seen in the barn had spread throughout the North Pole. Everyone began to sing:


For I've grown a little leaner, grown a little colder

Grown a little sadder, grown a little older

And I need a little angel sitting on my shoulder

Need a little Christmas now


For we need a little music, need a little laughter

Need a little singing ringing through the rafter

And we need a little snappy, happy ever after

We need a little Christmas now.


When the song died down, Santa said, “Yes, we do need a little Christmas now. Glitzen thank you for bringing Christmas cheer back to the North Pole. We need to spread this through the whole world. Glitzen, can you do two things for me?”


Glitzen said, “I’ll do anything I can Santa. What do you need me to do?”


“Glitzen, I need you to help get the elves and the other reindeer in the Christmas spirit again,” said Santa. “Then, on Christmas Eve when I go out to deliver presents to all the boys and girls, I need you to spread this Christmas spirit around the world. People may be on lockdown or quarantined. They may be away from their family for the first time, but they need to know that the joy of the Christmas season can still be felt. We can’t let this pandemic get us down. Will you do that for me, Glitzen?”


Glitzen nodded his head, and he and the girls began to go around covering everything with glitter and tinsel. They sang Christmas songs to get everyone back in the mood for a joyous Christmas. All of the young reindeer, including the young bucks who’d made fun of Glitzen, got into the spirit. The elves had their spark back and the toys shone with glee. The packages they wrapped under Glitzen’s direction were some of the most fabulous to ever come from the North Pole.


On Christmas Eve, Glitzen led Santa’s sleigh spreading glitter and joy throughout the world. While the world still woke up to a pandemic on Christmas Day and many were still separated from each other, there was a new cheer in the world, a fabulousness that it thought it had lost. The Christmas lights on the trees seemed to sparkle just a little more brightly that morning. The tinsel seemed to almost glow on the trees. People went to their windows and threw open the sash. They all sang in unison, no matter their language. They sang “Santa Baby,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “All I Want for Christmas is You.” It was a gay old time and the most fabulous Christmas anyone could imagine.


Santa and all the reindeer congratulated Glitzen on not only being the most fabulous reindeer of all, but for making it the most fabulous Christmas of all.



Merry Christmas, Everyone! 

May you all have a fabulous Christmas, too, and if you wake up with a bit of glitter everywhere, then maybe Glitzen has been with Santa to your house this year.




P.S. I know this is a silly story, but I was listening to “Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer” on the radio, and I thought of the words, “All of the other reindeer, Used to laugh and call him names, They never let poor Rudolph, Join in any reindeer games.” How many of us growing up as little gay boys had others laugh and call us names? How many of us were never allowed to join others in their games? Rudolph could have been many of us growing up, but instead of having a red shiny nose, ours was a metaphorical glittery nose. We are all fabulous in our own way, and it’s time we recognize just how fabulous Christmas is because of all the gay people out there.

O Holy Night

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining

It is the night of the dear Savior's birth

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth


A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees; oh, hear the angel voices

O night divine, O night when Christ was born


O night divine

O night

O night divine

Night divine

When I was a child, I had a Christmas CD, and one of the songs was Mahalia Jackson’s version of “O Holy Night.” I immediately fell in love with it, and it has been one of my favorite Christmas songs ever since.

"O Holy Night" (also known as "Cantique de Noël") is a well-known Christmas carol. Originally based on a French-language poem by poet Placide Cappeau, written in 1843, with the first line "Minuit, chrétiens! c'est l'heure solennelle" (Midnight, Christians, is the solemn hour) that composer Adolphe Adam set to music in 1847. The English version is by John Sullivan Dwight. The carol reflects on the birth of Jesus as humanity's redemption.


In Roquemaure at the end of 1843, the church organ had recently been renovated. To celebrate the event, the parish priest persuaded poet Placide Cappeau, a native of the town, to write a Christmas poem. Soon afterwards that same year, Adolphe Adam composed the music. The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer Emily Laurey. Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight's Journal of Music, wrote the English version in 1855. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Pic of the Day

Yes, Virginia 🎅

When I was growing up, we always had our family’s Christmas on December 23rd. We had other family obligations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so my mother always put out the fine china and silverware and made a really nice dinner that we ate by candlelight on the twenty-third. It was just my parents, my sister, and myself. We would exchange gifts with each other, and my sister and I knew that Santa Claus would bring the bulk of our gifts after we went to sleep on Christmas Eve. One of our traditions was that before dinner my sister or I read aloud Luke 2:1-20 (ironically, I always hear these verses in Linus’s voice from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”). We then ate our meal and after we finished , we opened presents. After we finished with presents, my dad usually went and watched TV, and my mother took a book from our bookshelves that contained Christmas traditions. She read us “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and then she always read us the letters that have become known as “Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus.”


In 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial on September 21, 1897. The response was written by veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church and has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial. It has appeared in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps. As I read the letter today, it makes me think that what Church said about people in 1897 is still true today.

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

As an adult, this letter hits very differently than it did when I was a child. I think the childlike belief I once had of Santa Claus’s existence imprinted on me a desire for open mindedness and curiosity. I may not believe in Santa Claus anymore, but I still believe in the essence of this letter. Maybe I still have a childlike belief in faith, fancy, poetry, love, and romance. I still hope that one day I will find love and romance, but even if I don’t, I still know it exists. Love, like Santa Claus, will continue to make glad our hearts, not only during the Christmas season, but all year long.


Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and I hope all of you remember to have faith in humanity’s goodness. Yes, there are those with no good intentions, but I believe that most of us are good at heart. So, have a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Pic of the Day

Just Desserts

I hate being cooped up in my apartment all day, so I decided to drive up to Williston, Vermont, to have lunch yesterday. I realized once I started up there that the restaurant (Texas Roadhouse—I love their rolls) I had planned to go to (my boss had given me a gift certificate for it as a Christmas present) was not open for lunch during the week. However, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. I decided I’d go to 99 Restaurant. If you’ve never heard of 99 Restaurants, they are a New England staple. The food is pretty good too, and I’ve been to the one in Williston enough that the hostess takes me straight to what she refers to as my “usual table.” They are really nice, but while I like the food, it’s the music that I love. They always play ‘90s rock music, which is the music of my high school and college days. I always get their Country Fried Chicken. The first time I had it, I thought the gravy was odd, but it’s grown on me. Anyway, on my way up there, I decided I really didn’t want the Country Fried Chicken, so I decided I’d go to Chili’s and have their Chicken Enchilada Soup, one of my favorites. I got to Chili’s and realized that the parking lot was full, and if there was not parking, there would be no tables available.

Since Chili’s, Ninety-Nine, and Texas Roadhouse we’re all out of the question, I decided to go to Vermont Tap House. Vermont Tap House, as the name implies, has a large selection of beers and hard ciders, but I wasn’t in the mood for alcohol. They also have a large selection of wood-fired pizzas along with appetizers, sandwiches, and salads. I usually get their buffalo chicken pizza. While not a traditional pizza, it is pretty good. As I was waiting on a table, I saw their dessert menu (now we get to the point of this post). They had Maple Creme Brûlée, Chocolate Mousse, Death by Chocolate Cheesecake, Tap House Dough Bites (fried dough balls covered in cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar), and Bread Pudding (ask for the flavor of the day). When I finished my pizza, I asked for the dessert menu and decided to ask about the Bread Pudding. Being from the South, I’ve had a lot of bread pudding, so I was a little skeptical about how well a Vermont restaurant would make bread pudding. My waitress told me that the bread pudding this week was a Chocolate Stout Bread Pudding topped with Toasted Oak Ice Cream and Candied Pecans. It sounded a bit unusual (What flavor is “toasted oak” anyway?) but also intriguing, so I thought, what the hell, I’ll give it a try. Thank God I did. It was wonderful.

The bread pudding was soft and creamy on the inside with a layer of delicious chocolate on the bottom and just a little crunchy on top to give it a contrasting texture. I’ve never had ice cream on bread pudding. Usually, it’s a warm bourbon or rum sauce. The ice cream was a perfect complement. I can’t describe what flavor toasted oak is, but it had a light brown color like a coffee ice cream and had a hint of vanilla. The rest of the flavor was indescribable but delicious nonetheless. There was nothing left when I was finished, and I usually don’t eat all of a dessert unless it is creme brûlée. When my waitress came by to check on me, I did something I never do, I told her to tell whoever made the bread pudding that it was truly delicious. It told her that I was from the South and had eaten my fair share of bread pudding and this ranked as one of the best. She was very pleased to hear it and told me she’d tell their pastry chef. The pastry chef only comes in once a week, and when she does, she prepares all the desserts for the week. My waitress said that she didn’t think she was in today, but she’d definitely give her the message. She said she’d be thrilled to hear it.

I did not have high hopes for a Vermont bread pudding, but it far exceeded anything I would have imagined. The best bread pudding I’ve ever had was at Stonewall’s BBQ in Oak Grove, Mississippi. Many places make bread pudding with whatever bread is available. Stonewall’s made theirs with cinnamon rolls and drizzled it with a delicious white icing. Nothing else ever came close to their bread pudding until the Chocolate Stout Bread Pudding topped with Toasted Oak Ice Cream and Candied Pecans I had yesterday. I don’t often brag about food I’ve eaten in Vermont. I think some of y’all already know how I feel about Vermont “cuisine,” but when I find something good, it’s worth writing about. This bread pudding was worth writing about.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Pic of the Day

A Visit from St. Nicholas

A Visit from St. Nicholas

By Clement Clarke Moore - 1779-1863


'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."


About This Poem


I know very few poems by heart, but I can say this one all the way through from memory. It was always a favorite of mine during my childhood. My mother used to read it to us when I was young, so it always brings back fond memories of a happy childhood, back when life was innocent and simple.

On December 23, 1823, a poem called "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" was published anonymously in the Sentinel, the local newspaper of Troy, New York. This piece offered a different take on Santa Claus, a figure who was, until that time, traditionally depicted as a thinner, less jolly, horse-riding disciplinarian, a combination of mythologies about the British Father Christmas, the Dutch Sinterklaas, and the fourth-century bishop Saint Nicholas of Myra. 

The poem in the newspaper painted a different picture: it gave Santa eight reindeer, and even named them; it described a Santa who could magically sneak in and out of homes via chimneys; and it created the venerated, cheerful, chubby icon that is everpresent in holiday cards, movies, television shows, and malls everywhere. The poem, of course, is now known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," after its famous first line. Thirteen years after it was published, Clement Clark Moore took credit for its authorship, though his claim to the poem is now in question. Many believe the poem was actually penned by New York writer Henry Livingston.


About the Poet


Clement Clarke Moore was born on July 15, 1779, in New York City.  He received a BA from Columbia College in 1798 and an MA in 1801. Moore was the author of Poems (Barlett & Welford, 1844), which included the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” Moore also published several academic works, including A Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language(Collins & Perkins, 1809). He taught at the General Theological Seminary in New York City from 1821 to 1850.  He died on July 10, 1863, in Newport, Rhode Island.