Category Archives: Holidays

Season’s Greetings from Victoria.

Winter sky - The Salish Sea near Victoria, B.C.

My warmest wishes to all of you who have visited these pages over the past year. And a special thank you to my regular subscribers and viewers. May the coming year bless you all with good health, happiness, and serenity.

As a little holiday treat, here’s one of my favorite seasonal song lyrics  from Hearth and Fire by Gordon Bok. It’s a lovely piece and worth taking a few minutes to savor.

Hearth and Fire

Hearth and fire be ours tonight
And all the dark outside,
Fair the night, and kind on you
Wherever you may bide.

… continue here.

Photo by Dan Curtis

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Now for Something Completely Different: Calmness.

It’s time to stop  the rushing and working and worrying. You can always pick that up later. For now, as we come to the end of another year,  let’s all take a deep breath and calm ourselves.  As my holiday present,  I’ve put together a little virtual retreat for you. You’ll find some wonderful calming images, music, books, and quotations below. Start anywhere you like.  There’s the three minute Whispering Sea guitar video.  You can  feast your eyes on all the sumptuous calming images from Google. There are three books you might want to check out. There are also some insightful quotations on calmness, my favorite being:

The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.
~James Allen

Calming images

Wander through Google’s calming photos and feel the tension draining away. Click here for some gorgeous images.

Calming books

Quotations on calmness

For some  quotes click here . And there are more here.

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Seascape photo by Brent Pearson
Geese and moon photo by Vicki DeLoach

Holiday Gifts With a Personal (Historian) Touch.

Last December I wrote about some low cost or no cost gift ideas. And with the holiday season quickly approaching, I thought it was time to suggest some gifts that have a personal touch.

DIY bookmarks. Here’s something for the bibliophile in your family. It could also be a nice little gift to include in a card to your clients. There are several sources that can help you with this project. Fabio Sirna has created four charming downloadable templates that you can run off on your printer. Check them out here. In addition you can go to e.m. papers and for US$5.00 download ten printable bookmarks. Each has a reminder of one of the “10 factors recent science has identified that lead to feeling more happy and satisfied with life”  such as  Have an attitude of gratitude and Make friends and treasure family. Be sure to check out Bookmark Craft Projects. There’s a list of sixteen different bookmarks you can make.

One of a kind blank cards. “I use semi-colons.” Here’s a great set of cards for any aspiring writer. They’re available from Etsy for US$2.50.The  product description says  “Show off your semicolon skills; your friends will be so impressed. The card measures 4 by 6 inches, comes with a lovely blue envelope, and is blank inside so you can write a whole lot of complicated sentences.”

Online writing courses. Give a gift certificate to a friend or family member who’s been talking about writing a memoir. An online course could be just the ticket to get them going. Check out a previous post I wrote, Get Started on Your Memoir by Taking an Online Course. In the article I’ve listed four sites offering writing courses.

Instructional DVDs for the videomaker. Videomaker magazine has put together a comprehensive series of instructional DVDs. You can find out more here.

Family heirloom recipe. For those  of you who have a special family recipe,  print it up on some good quality paper stock and include with it the actual cooked item. For example, my mother makes the most wonderful oatmeal raisin cookies. Anyone who’s eaten one claims they’re the best in the world. And I think they’re right. So, I’m thinking of getting the recipe from Mom and baking up several batches of cookies. My friends at Christmas will get a family heirloom recipe and some cookies to match.

Photo by iStockphoto

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Saving Memories This Thanksgiving.

The American Thanksgiving is a week today, November 26th. This is a wonderful time to reflect on all that we are grateful for in our lives.  Last year I wrote an article, Are You Ready To Make Thanksgiving Memorable? You can read it by clicking here. I wrote about the holiday being an opportunity to record family thanksgiving memories.

In a similar vein, StoryCorps has launched the National Day of Listening on November 27th.  Here’s what they have to say.

On the day after Thanksgiving, set aside one hour to record a conversation with someone important to you. You can interview anyone you choose: an older relative, a friend, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood.

You can preserve the interview using recording equipment readily available in most homes, such as cell phones, tape recorders, computers, or even pen and paper. Our free Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide is easy to use and will prepare you and your interview partner to record a memorable conversation, no matter which recording method you choose.

You can get the  Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide  here.  As well, StoryCorps has a Question Generator that provides a handy list of interview questions. If you want, you can even share your experience with StoryCorps when you’re finished. So what are you waiting for? Plan now to save some memories this Thanksgiving.

Photo by iStockphoto

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Do You Want to Give Mom Something Special This Mother’s Day?

mother-daughterMother’s Day is only a few weeks away on May 10th. Here’s a gift that I know she’ll treasure  more than the traditional box of chocolates or bouquet of flowers.  It’s called  a Gratitude Letter.  I’ve touched on the subject of gratitude in two previous posts. Today I’d like to expand on the idea of a Gratitude Letter, first developed by Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center. In his best selling book, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment he  gives the following instructions based on an exercise he does with his students:

Select one important person from your past [Your Mother] who has made a major positive difference in your life and to whom you have never fully expressed your thanks. … Write a testimonial just long enough to cover one laminated page. Take your time composing this; my students and I found ourselves taking several weeks, composing on buses and as we feel asleep at night. Invite that person to your home, or travel to that person’s home.

It is important you do this face to face, not just in writing or on the phone. Do not tell the person the purpose of the visit in advance; a simple “I just want to see you” will suffice.Wine and cheese do not matter, but bring a laminated version of your testimonial with you as a gift. When all settles down, read your testimonial aloud slowly, with expression, and with eye contact. Then let the other person react unhurriedly. Reminisce together about the concrete events that make this person so important to you.

What’s crucial is that you write your Gratitude Letter from the heart and in detail.  Here’s an excerpt from the Gratitude Letter I wrote to my mom four years ago on Mother’s Day:

First and perhaps most importantly, I am grateful for your conceiving and giving birth to me.  Having been born and having had a chance to participate in this world has been a truly great adventure. Thank you for making that possible.

I am grateful for the tenderness and nurturing that you not only gave me as a “wee” child but which you still provide today. You created a loving home and gave me the security that allowed me to blossom. I am forever grateful for your ability to hold me gently while at the same time letting me go to explore and exercise my independence.

What’s wonderful about this exercise is that it’s a gift to you as well as your mom. Studies repeatedly show that practicing gratitude every day has a positive effect and promotes greater happiness.

Further resources on gratitude that you might enjoy:

Photo by Roger Do Minh

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A Valentine for You.


To all of you who drop by my blog and for those who linger a while, here’s my Valentine for you. Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets and her poem Wild Geese is a treasure. When I have those days when I’m feeling lost or confused or alone, this poem comforts me. I hope that it will do the same for you.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Photo by He and Fi

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3 Special Ways to Say “I Love You” This Valentine’s Day.


Valentine’s Day is only a few weeks away. This year rather than the usual flowers or chocolates for your sweetie, try some of these unique ways to say, “I love you.”

  • Find a piece of beautiful stationary and handwrite a letter describing all the things that you’re grateful for in your relationship. Be specific. For example, don’t just say, “I’m grateful for your encouragement.” Rather write something like, “When I was unsure about taking that new job, you were there for me. I remember how you talked me through all the reasons I could do it. Thank you for all the ways you give me encouragement.”
  • Gather together a selection of  all of the great photos taken of the two of you over the years and put the best into a photo collage. Have it printed and put into a beautiful frame.
  • Say it with music. If  you want to find out the #1 song playing the day you met or got married, you can go to this great site #1 Song on This Date . There you’ll be able to locate the song and go directly to the iTunes store and download it. Surprise your loved one by playing it on Valentine’s Day.

Photo by Timothy K. Hamilton

My New Year’s Wish.


Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

What Do Plants Have to Do With Christmas Memories?

spruce-tree-jpgIn a previous post I wrote about the power of our senses to bring back past memories. I was reading our local newspaper yesterday and came upon a fascinating article entitled, Christmases past live on with plants as reminders by Helen Chesnut.  I hadn’t thought about plants as a way to bring back memories but reading her article made me think. And you know she has a point.  Bringing home a fresh Christmas tree always brings back childhood  memories for me. When I was a child, we lived for many years on a rugged island off the West Coast of Vancouver Island.  Long before Christmas I would have found the perfect tree. Then a week before Christmas I would haul my mother off into the bush with axe in hand to chop down the tree and haul it home. It’s still a vivid and happy memory for me.

Do you have any plants that bring back memories of Christmases past?

Photo by Randen Pederson

The Life Story “Christmas” Quote of The Week


Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!

Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836

This is a wonderful time of year for reflection and reminiscing about past holidays. Why not write down a favorite Christmas memory and share it with a loved one. It could become a new holiday tradition.

Photo by Kris de Curtis