Tag Archives: Christmas

Monday’s Link Roundup.

It might seem odd to include a Christmas item in this Monday’s Link Roundup, but be sure to check out 25 years of Christmas. It’s a touching home movie compilation of one family and the changes over a quarter of a century. For the bibliophile in your life,  have a look at Top 10 Gifts for the Bibliophile. You’ll find some very whimsical gift ideas.

  • Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. “It has become something of a literary cliché to bash the thesaurus, or at the very least, to warn fellow writers that it is a book best left alone. Some admonitions might be blunt, others wistful, as with Billy Collins musing on his rarely opened thesaurus. But beyond the romantic anthropomorphizing of words needing to break free from “the warehouse of Roget,” what of Collins’ more pointed criticism, that “there is no/such thing as a synonym”? That would suggest that the whole enterprise of constructing a thesaurus is predicated on a fiction.”
  • Should You Open a Personal History Business? “Are you looking to go into business for yourself but having difficulty choosing the type of business to open? Have you previously worked as a writer, editor, storyteller, or are you a history buff? Do you love talking with new people? Opening a personal history business may be perfect for you! In fact, even if you haven’t worked as a personal historian before, you may already have the transferable skills to run a successful business in this rapidly expanding industry. For example, excellent communication skills and being adaptable to new situations are qualities that will help you as a personal historian.”
  • Microsoft Builds a Browser for Your Past. “Mining personal data to discover what people care about has become big business for companies such as Facebook and Google. Now a project from Microsoft Research is trying to bring that kind of data mining back home to help people explore their own piles of personal digital data.”
  • How to Write Headlines That Work. “Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a headline or post title that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.”
  • Native Tongues. “The scene is a mysterious one, beguiling, thrilling, and, if you didn’t know better, perhaps even a bit menacing. According to the time-enhanced version of the story, it opens on an afternoon in the late fall of 1965, when without warning, a number of identical dark-green vans suddenly appear and sweep out from a parking lot in downtown Madison, Wisconsin…The drivers and passengers who manned the wagons were volunteers bent to one overarching task: that of collecting America’s other language. They were being sent to more than a thousand cities, towns, villages, and hamlets to discover and record, before it became too late and everyone started to speak like everybody else, the oral evidence of exactly what words and phrases Americans in those places spoke, heard, and read, out in the boondocks and across the prairies, down in the hollows and up on the ranges, clear across the great beyond and in the not very long ago.”
  • Top 10 Gifts for the Bibliophile.  “The classic bibliophile collects and treasures books, it’s a person who makes them an important part of their lives. This may sound all too familiar; you may consider yourself one or perhaps it just describes someone you know. Today, we take a look at 10 gifts that were made for that person. In fact, they’re sweet and clever gifts that the reader in all of us can enjoy.”
  • 25 years of Christmas. [Video] “Every year, our dad would tape us coming down the stairs. This is a compilation of all the videos I could find. Relatives and pets grow up and disappear, and new extended family members appear in their place. The song is “Christmas Time is Here”, played by Vince Guaraldi”

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Marge Curtis, May 1,1918 ~ December 18, 2011

Mom at twenty-three

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that every Monday is devoted to Monday’s Link Roundup. This Monday is different. Yesterday Mom died at Victoria Hospice at the age of ninety-three.

Mom always believed that when she transitioned to that other side, she’d be met by my Dad,  Ed Curtis, who died in 1990. I like to think she was right.  And whether by coincidence or design her death took place on their seventy-second wedding anniversary. They were married December 18, 1939.

Throughout my life Mom was one of my biggest fans and supporters. In many ways she introduced me to story telling at an early age. An avid reader, her favorite activity before going to sleep was to read a few pages from her latest book. Every morning I would eagerly run into her bedroom to sit by her bed. There, she would relate the latest installment – no doubt censoring some of the racy bits for the ears of an eight-year-old.

She also regaled me with stories from her teenage years when her family homesteaded in the wilderness of northern British Columbia.  Eagerly absorbed by a young boy were tales of encounters with grizzly bears, hunting, and snowy winter nights, hunkered down in their log cabin.

People have remarked that it’s sad that Mom’s death came so close to Christmas. In part that’s true. I certainly haven’t had time in the past few weeks to think much about the holiday season. But central to this time of year is the message of peace, comfort, and joy. And I’ve experienced all of those in a personal and profound way. Mom and I were surrounded at Victoria Hospice by loving and compassionate care. Her final days brought her comfort and her death was blessedly peaceful. And we had joyful moments – reminiscing about Christmases past, enjoying cups of her favorite tea from her favorite cup, and laughing at this comedy called life. One of the last things she said to me, opening her eyes briefly was, “Having fun?”

I miss her dearly. My world has changed forever. But surrounded and supported by my loving partner, friends, and colleagues I’ll carry on doing honor to those values she tried to instill in me – kindness, loyalty, grace, and a good sense of humor.

Thanks, Mom.

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

How to Make The Weather Part of Your Life Story

snow-robinIt’s unusually cold here in Victoria, British Columbia this week – freezing winds, ice and snow. Our winters in the Pacific Northwest are for the most part wet and mild, so people are a little shocked and in disbelief. It got me thinking how much weather plays a part in our life stories.  And yet we often forget to include these details when we sit down to write our personal history. My mother still vividly recalls  how it was pouring rain when she got married in the tiny hamlet of Alert Bay, British Columbia. And I remember one Christmas when I was all of eight years old. My family lived on an isolated island near the northwest tip of Vancouver Island.  Rarely did we get snow at Christmas. That year it started snowing after supper on Christmas Eve. I was delighted and so excited that I staid up all night looking out my bedroom window as my little part of the world turned white. It was one of my most memorable Christmases.

If you’re interested in making weather a part of your life story – I’ve discovered a great resource. It’s called the Weather Warehouse. You can get direct on line access to the most comprehensive historical weather database in existence. It provides United States weather details going back as far as 1902.  You can also access international data off line starting from 1973.  So let’s say you wanted to know what the weather was like when your Aunt Beatrice emigrated to New York on July 18, 1922. You can find out at Weather Warehouse. There is a charge for the service starting for as little as US$4.95.

Do you have a memorable weather story to tell? Why not share it with us.

Photo by Paul Keleher