Getting in the holiday spirit

Observing Christmas 2010 is turning out to be like other years. It takes me a while to warm up to the holiday spirit, but I’m fully on board shortly before the big day. While I’m not a fan of starting the season earlier and earlier (especially when Christmas displays start popping up after the Fourth of July), I should probably get in gear sooner.
Case in point — it’s three days before Christmas and I haven’t finished my Christmas cards. Haven’t even started actually. I’ve kicked around some ideas and settled on a concept, but the execution part is still very, very shaky.
One thing I took care of reasonably ahead of time was my holiday lights. For the first time in years, I put up lights around the ol’ homestead.
I could only spring for one string of lights, given the tight budget we all seem to be operating under these days. However, I wanted to make the display special a la our annual Tour of Lights.
Looking to spice things up a bit, I decided to set my light display to music … or something like it. The one downside? The lights don’t blink so there was no way for them to turn on and off to the dulcet tones of “The Nutcracker” or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or The Yule Logs.
Thankfully, I came up with a solution. It was a particularly timely one, considering that it tied in one of the hottest music instruments of 2010.
Here’s a sample: Merry Christmas!

Seasons greetings with the 2009 Christmas card

The 2009 Christmas card.

The 2009 Christmas card.

Another Christmas is upon us. To celebrate 2009, I created a new card for friends and family.

I sent most of the cards on Monday, and I hope they were received by today. If not, I’m sharing the card with everyone here.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish everyone the merriest of Christmases.

Sharing was this year’s theme. Last year, I tried to combine something uniquely Chico with the holidays and came up with the yo-yo card.

I thought about revisiting the Chico themes for 2009, but I didn’t feel I could pull anything off in time.

I still liked the Sierra Nevada Santa idea, but I grew a little reticent. After all, it seemed a little less than wholesome, but it could be pulled off if it was done tastefully. I worried about my ability to do so.

It’s still an idea I may do in future years.

I settled on “spreading a little holiday cheer” because I wanted to do something active beyond the traditional holiday photo. I settled on the tree because I thought it was an unlikely object one would give, but it’s also an icon that embodies the spirit of the season.

So with many, many test shots in my apartment’s small hallway and some Photoshop magic, here is this year’s card. Merry Christmas.

The four stages of listening to Christmas music

It can be fun to deck the halls, roast chestnuts or go on sleigh rides, but when it comes to a-wassailing, I find that there are four stages to enjoying or singing Christmas music.
These stages could be circled on the calendar, just like the big day itself:

  1. Pre-Thanksgiving: Like holiday displays, it’s far too early to hear Christmas music in early November. A telling example — hearing tunes as early as the first week of November … at a Panda Express Chinese restaurant.
  2. Post-Thanksgiving: It’s all right to slowly ramp up the music. I hosted “Evening Jazz” during the first really cold night of the year (Dec. 7). It was appropriate to play winter-y tunes, but I stayed away from the more Christmas-themed songs until …
  3. Dec. 11: Two weeks before Christmas, it’s appropriate to crank up those favorite tunes. I played a few during my Friday radio show. It is strangely all right to have two radio stations in a small media market dedicated exclusively to holiday music.
  4. Post-Dec. 25: Enough’s enough. Christmas has come and gone. It’s time to put those albums back on the shelve until next year when we repeat the cycle again.

As Christmas shopping days tick away, check this tip list twice

With Christmas just days away, I’m offering some holiday shopping advice. Thinking of gifts can be pretty stressful, so my list is a slightly humorous take on the tradition. Here’s a sample:

shopping tip #001–while there is _huge_ difference between “The
Clapper” and the clap, neither is a welcome holiday gift.

It started with that one and I was inspired to keep going. I’m dishing these tips every day on my Twitter account, but you can also view all of them on this page.

I hope to have a tip every day up until Christmas, but coming up with them can be tough (especially if I was trying to be funny). If you have any ideas, please share them in the comments.

Presenting my 2008 Chico Christmas card

As diehard readers know — I’ve been working on a Chico-themed Christmas card for 2008. A lot of people, myself included, wanted me to create the Sierra Nevada Santa. However, logistics and time constraints made that really difficult to do. The good news is that I’m on course to do it next year.

With Sierra Nevada Santa out of the picture (no pun intended), I was scrambling for another idea. At the last minute, inspiration struck me and I went with a toy theme. Chico is home to the National Yo-Yo Museum and that is where I took this year’s card photo. I went to the Bird-in-Hand store and photographed a yo-yo — with a twist.

Here’s the front of the card (click to see the inside):

I wanted to give this to you for Christmas …
I wanted to give this to you for Christmas …

Click more to see the inside of the card.

Continue reading

OK, now I have to find a Santa suit

Perhaps I have bitten off more than I can chew. In an earlier post, I asked you — the reader — to help me pick my Chico-themed Christmas card. In what amounts to overwhelming response for both me and my blog, the following has become clear:

  • No one liked my object d’arte idea. Especially when I used a creepy holiday decoration at a nearby restaurant as the prop.
  • The Senator ornament idea got a lukewarm response. Some noted that the Senator was an unusual object for holiday decoration while others liked the idea.
  • The City Plaza Christmas Tree idea was greeted by only chirping crickets.
  • But, hands down, people liked the Sierra Nevada Santa.

The Santa idea was hugely popular with people saying I should definitely do it. Now it is my responsibility to carry this off in a tasteful fashion. I think that will be the key for success.

Part of my problem is finding the right “look” for Santa. As I said before, I want to depict the fun and warmth of the earlier campaign involving the cola-flavored sugar water.

Some people have suggested giving a bottle to a mall Santa. A mall Santa. Regardless of what one may think about mall Santas, I just think there are too many variables in play there.

I also want to be a part of the photo, so I don’t think a mall Santa can play the role of Santa for my card. Someone suggested the idea of my posing with mall Santa and a bottle of Sierra Nevada, but that just disconcerts me.

I think the best person for the role of Santa for my Christmas card is me. So, now all I have to do is find a Santa suit.

Making a Chico-themed Christmas card – Help me decide

Ah, the holidays. It’s the time of year when we turn our thoughts to Christmas, the overwrought and overfought War on the War Against Christmas, the other holidays and stuff. This also means Christmas cards, gifts and more.

While there are a lot of different people and publications will encourage you to shop local for the holidays, I will refrain from discussing that subject until later. (Besides, I prefer to shop loco).

No, the most important thing for me now is to get cards out to friends and family. I haven’t sent the cards out in a few years and I feel like a heel.

At the same time, I don’t want to send the same old boring card — no stale winter themes or dramatic newsletters of my accomplishments for me. I want to add a local flavor. For example, when I lived in Michigan I used stamps that were launched in the town where I lived.

So, how do I kick it up, Chico-style? I could try to get the musical group Yule Logs to pose for a picture, but I don’t know if friends back east would get it.

I’ve been pondering some ideas, but I wanted to give you all a chance to weigh in. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • A – Remember that great Coca-Cola ad campaign with the portraits of Santa holding the iconic soda bottle? OK, picture this — me dressed as Santa holding the Chico-equivalent, a big bottle of Sierra Nevada ale. I’ll try to make it look classy and less like a poorly dressed nerfherder with booze.
  • B – I took a photo of the Senator Theatre through an ornamental metal fence in Chico City Plaza. For this, I would try to recreate it with a holiday theme — a wreath and some ornaments.
  • C – An image of the holiday tree in City Plaza. I’ll try to jazz it up somehow.
  • D – A photo of me in some holiday garb holding a local object d’arte.

What do you think? Help me decide and you might win the grand prize — a Christmas card from yours truly.

Here are some illustrations to help with your decision:
B – The Senator Theatre concept
D – Me, holding an object d’arte