Monthly Archives: November 2010

Thanksgiving and More

   We had a very nice Thanksgiving this year, nice time with relatives, very enjoyable.  We had company staying at our house for a couple of days – Kate’s brother Don Seymour and his wife Bonnie came up from Alabama.  We shoehorned them into our little spare bedroom and they were real troopers about it – never complained about the trundlebed sleeping arrangements or even about the guest outhouse in the woods  🙂  Bonnie recently went through a health crisis, having suffered a stroke, but is showing remarkable resilience – she has occasional problems coming up with the exact word she intended to use, but otherwise is doing great!  Hey, all of us in this age group can indentify with that little prob……. hmmm, what was that word, again???  🙂

   They arrived on Thanksgiving Eve, then we all went down to Vine Grove, KY to be with Kate and Don’s mother Frances, whom I’ve mentioned before.  We were accompanied on our journey by Don/Bonnie’s dog Libby – our KD was left behind, I’m sorry to report.  KD does not work and play well with other dogs, so we kept her entirely apart from the visiting canine, and that worked out best.  Anyway, the Vine Grove gathering was good – Alan and Janice Seymour were there, as were Bruce and Joyce Seymour, Sunni dropped in for a brief visit, and there were a few more I am unable to name due to poor memory on my part.  The food was prepared by a dear relative, Aunt Cracker Barrel, assisted by Uncle Sam’s.  It made for a pretty stress-free holiday meal, without having anyone slaving over the stove for hours.

   We got to show off Corydon to Don and Bonnie, and they were suitably impressed with our little community.  We tried to get them interested in buying the place next door, but I think maybe they might have other plans – we’ll see  🙂

   Ok, that was Thursday (Thanksgiving), and now we move on to Saturday, November 27th, for the “Light Up Corydon” celebration downtown.  As I said before, the city fathers (in a moment of recklessness), agreed that I could appear as the Jolly Fellow from the North Pole, and even said it was ok for me to interact with small children.  WHAT were they thinking??  Just kidding, it turned out great!!!  I dressed up in the FINE costume that Kate had made for me, and she was attired in a beautiful matching dress she had put together to appear as Mrs Claus.  

Thanks to her untiring efforts, we were RESPLENDENT!  I was introduced onto the main stage (the bandstand on the square), with Kate at my side, and I got to do the HO-HO-HO Merry Christmas thing in my best booming voice and was greeted by a veritable SEA of smiling faces, children of all ages.  After goofing around with the microphone for a bit, I was allowed to lead the crowd in the Official Count-Down to light the city lights!  Oh, WOW, it was just wonderful!  After that I got to pick the winning name for the $250 shopping spree in downtown Corydon.  It was a total blast, I tell  ya!  Everywhere I looked there were the smiling, expectant faces of children – can you imagine ANYTHING better than that?  I think not!

   After the drawing Mrs Claus and I were escorted across the square, making our way through a huge crowd of laughing, excited kids and their smiling parents, on our way to the Original Capitol Building, maybe 75 yards away.  They had fixed up the historic old building as Santa’s House, with a warm fireplace setting – a nice backdrop for kid photos.   Everything was in place, the line was already forming for the kids to come visit Santa, it was hugely enjoyable for all (not counting the few frightened children who just weren’t able to sit on Santa’s knee).  Kate was simply beautiful in her costume, and she had a 5-kilowatt smile to go with it!

     There was a long line of kids and parents, but no one seemed to mind the wait.  Each child got to be the center of attention for a few minutes as they shyly told Santa what they wanted to find under their tree, and then each was rewarded with a candy cane.  Kate and I agreed, it was a rewarding and wonderful time for us, and we hoped that all the folks coming through were pleased with our performances.  There will be additional photo sessions on the next 3 Saturdays from 1-5 PM, so maybe we can have a few more kids come through who weren’t able to be here for “Light Up Corydon”.

   If they want us back next year, you can bet we’ll be happy to do it!  If *you* can make it, come sit on Santa’s knee, tell me what you want to find under YOUR tree, ok?  🙂

About Last Christmas

   Time for another trip to my exciting past.  Or, we could re-visit my *regular* past, and just remember that I don’t really have an *exciting* past to visit.  Or……  okokok, I’ll quit.

   Last Christmas season, I discovered that Kate (my somewhat NEW wife, as of August), really really really loved Christmas.  And, I pretty much did, too – just one more point of compatibility,  yes?  Anyway, we love the holiday season, and also, btw, Kate is quite the seamstress.  A non-sequitur, you say?  Non, non!  She asked me if I’d like to have a Santa suit to wear occasionally, perhaps to holiday gatherings at the extended care facility (nursing home, kinda) where she worked in Denver.  Well, Pilgrim, I didn’t see anything wrong with THAT plan, I tell ya!  So, I said, “Let ‘er rip, Tater Chip!”  And, Presto, I had a Santa costume.  No gigs lined up yet, but I had the Christmas finery,  just in case.  Now you talk about ‘Sartorial Splendor’, I had mega amounts of THAT!  She said she’d talk to the head honcho where she worked, try to work out a deal for me to appear at their Christmas party – oh, YEAH!

   We got the approval, and party time at the nursing facility finally came.  I showed up at the appointed time, and was just blown away by the warm reception that I received.  Lots of (generally) elderly people in poor health whose faces had lit up at seeing Santa.  Lots of wheelchairs, lots of obviously sick folks, all of them smiling, smiling.  It was wonderful to see their transformation!  I shook lots of hands on my way up to the front of the cafeteria area where we were set up, and really had a nice feeling of being able to bring a little fun into their lives, a little visit to the Christmases of their childhoods, perhaps.  They let me give out gifts (everything was packaged and name-tagged), and my Santa nurse/helpers assisted in the distribution.  We enjoyed some punch and cookies, shook (carefully) some more hands – sometimes it was just a gentle squeeze of the shoulder, but you get the picture.

   After the general get-together at the cafeteria, I was taken to a number of the patient rooms to visit those who had not been able to make it down the hall.  Again, very heart-warming to see their expectant faces, so happy to see Santa again.  Some of them were not able to respond so well, but it was ok – I think they knew that something nice was going on, and I left their presents with them.  I look forward to doing that kind of thing again, as I’m sure anyone would.  It was touching, rewarding, it was truly the best of the Christmas spirit.  No, it wasn’t about delivering the message of the Christ Child specifically, but the gladness came through.

    So, about a week later, I was sitting by myself at a coffee shop (not in costume, of course) and an older fellow (yes, he was in *my* age group) came over to me and asked, “Say, do you ever do that ‘Santa thing’?”  I guess I do kinda look the part, so I wasn’t totally surprised by his question.  So, I replied, “Yes, occasionally”.  He then asked if I’d consider suiting up and coming over to his house in a couple of days and appearing in the evening as Santa for his family, with several grandkids in attendance, and how much would I ask in payment.  “Well, ” I replied, “I’d be  happy to come, and how about *free*?”.  He insisted that he’d want to pay me something, so I said, “How about $20?”.  The deal was made, and I showed up at the appointed time, and as an extra ‘bonus’, Kate had dressed up as ‘Mrs. Santa’.

   We found the fellow’s house and made our grand entrance.  The place was full of relatives, 4 or 5 kids of various ages running about… yer basic holiday home scene.  I did the “Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas” greeting several times and we commenced with the kids-on-the-knee photo session.  It was just great – the kids were ‘wow-ed’, the adults were smiling, smiling, smiling and we were pretty much in the same mode.  A super time was had by all, and as we wrapped it up and left, the client pressed some money into my hand and we made our exit.  When I got to the car I discovered that he had given me $50 – a pleasant surprise, for sure!

   I turned to Kate, said, “Let’s go have supper, using our newly-acquired wealth!”  She agreed, and we wound up over at the nearby Chili’s.  As we entered, in full costume, we were warmly received by many of the patrons as we were led to our table.  Lots of kids were awe-struck, seeing us approach, but quickly began to smile at us and shyly wave.  We made a number of brief stops as we went, just greeting families, and finally made it to our table.  After we ordered, I had time to go visit some of the little people whom I’d missed on my way in, and a few of the adults were motioning me to come to *their* table.  It was just super-great, it was wonderful.  As we were finishing our meal, the manager stopped by and thanked us profusely for coming in, and he informed us that our ticket was ‘on the house’.  He mentioned that several people had come by his station offering to pay our tab, but he said that it would be his pleasure to take care of it.

   So that’s Santa’s story about last Christmas.  This Christmas might prove to be somewhat memorable, also – the City of Corydon has asked me to be the official Santa Claus this year, and on November 27th I’ll be down at the town square, being the guest of honor at “Light Up Corydon” – I’ll be helping with the official countdown to the illumination of the city holiday lights.

  Here’s a link to a YouTube video that was made last year at this event, so if you care to watch, you’ll get some idea of the flavor of our small town and its holiday tradition.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpjEJl9DUE4    I’m really looking forward to it.  The following three Saturday’s you’ll find me inside the State Capitol there on the square, appearing as Santa Claus for the kids to come visit and have their photos done.  Does it get ANY better than this???   🙂

Friendly Invasion

   I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted here, but since there wasn’t too much of interest going on I decided NOT to tell you about it.  You can thank me anytime!

   Now, however, I have good things to report, so don’t doze off just yet.  We had family in from Denver (Castle Rock, if you want to be precise).  Daughter Natalie and her family were here – husband John, son Alek and daughter Aleyna flew in last Thursday night (Oct 28th).    We didn’t have enough space for them to stay at our house, but they were able to find lodging in Corydon, so they were conveniently close.

   We met up with them on Friday morning and had a nice breakfast at Ryan’s here in town – the weekend breakfast buffet worked out just great to get everyone fed efficiently.  After breakfast we all drove out to our place (Hilton Manor, ya know!) and the visiting commenced!  We had a few activities planned in the touristy sense, and the kids had a ball running around our massively huge large big plantation.  [Anyway, it was bigger than *their* yard  :)]  For one activity, I had rigged up a simple ‘zipline’ with a rope line and pully, so they had fun riding on that.  Also, I  had purchased a slingshot thingy for Alek to play with – lots of acorns and hickory nuts for ammunition.  The adults mostly marveled at the ‘country quiet’, and that was nicely relaxing.

   Later in the afternoon on Friday we all went over to Lanesville, just east of here, for the “Deere Farm Corn Maze”.   It was a nice drive getting there, lots of autumn color still remaining, and when we arrived we found out that the maze had suffered a fair amount of wind damage from the monster cold front that blew through here last week.  They were open anyway, and were selling tickets at half price because of the wind damage.  The maze was a big hit – they had it well organized, with a map and a mystery.  As the kids ran through the maze they were to pick up clues at various checkpoints and then by process of elimination solve the puzzle.  They just loved it!

   Friday evening we drove south into Kentucky, just past Brandenburg (about a 15 mile drive for us), and we met Bruce, Joyce and Kate’s mother Frances at the Doe Run Inn, a historic mill that has been converted into a restaurant.  It was built in 1821, and you can wander around and see the old rooms, and in the basement level you can see some of the mill machinery that is still in place.  A good meal, good fellowship with relatives, everyone had a great time.

   Saturday morning we took off for Louisville, because we had purchased tickets for everyone to ride on the “Belle of Louisville” paddlewheel steamer – they had a Halloween “Boo Cruise” scheduled.

The cruise was really a lot of fun – there were lots of kids on board, all of them in Halloween costumes, and the boat folks had arranged for numerous kid activities.  There was a limbo competition, there was hokey-pokey, chicken dances, and they had set up a number of locations on board the ship for the kids to do trick-or-treating.  Our tw0 scored BIG time amounts of candy!  Lots of laughing, shouting, running.  I wandered off on a self-guided tour and got to see the steam cylinders that drove the big red paddle wheel, so there was something for everyone.  Kate and I did a little dancing, but I spared you those pictures  🙂

   After the boat adventure we went back to Corydon to let Natalie and Kate do some shopping, then we went over to the town square for the autumn funfest called “Fall Down on the Square”.  They had lots of booths for face painting, ring toss, knock down the milk bottles, all of the stuff was free.  Some of the area churches had put it all together, including free food for all!  After we saw the food line we decided maybe we weren’t that hungry, after all.   So, we had a BIG Saturday, something for everyone!  The last picture in this section is of a little guy who was next to me on the bench – I just had to include this photo!

In case any of you young ladies would like to know, his name is Zachary, and he’s 9 months old! 

   Then on Sunday (my birthday, as you ALL know!  🙂  ) we all went to church at Pfrimmer’s Chapel just east of Corydon.  It was an extra big day for me – I got Baptized (sprinkled) while we were there, and Kate and I joined the church.  I’m sure all this will be on CNN, so I won’t go into too much detail.

    After services were over we went home to get set up for the combination birthday party and Halloween party.  I was amazed at all the preparations Kate had done – she prepared a number of tasty dishes, including some spooky ones (witch’s fingers, ghostly pizza, several more).  She really went ALL OUT, and I want to give her a BIG PAT ON THE BACK – I really appreciated it, and it made me feel really special.  I won’t try to list everything that was done for the party, but we had lots of decorations and good foods.  Mid-afternoon the guests started showing up – Alan and Janice Seymour (Kate’s brother and sister-in-law), and they brought Frances with them, neighbors Shane, Stephanie and little Addison, David and Marylynne from Brandenburg, Dave Hazzard and his friend Debbie, Gloria Wood, the head of Kate’s CASA group – it was just great!

                                                           In addition to all the food that Kate prepared, we set out the baklava that Ananda (Kate’s daughter) had sent me for my birthday.  It was WONDERFUL!!  Everyone commented on it.  I hated to have to charge everyone the $4.50 per slice, but hey, fair’s fair!

   As the temperatures started to get cool outside and the sun was getting low, it was time for CAMPFIRE!!!  We recruited Natalie to be the arsonist for that – she LOVES fiddling with a campfire.  We sat around for hours, even after all the guests had drifted away, enjoying the warmth and the stargazing – we have REALLY bright starry nights here!  The weather was perfect, everything you’d want in a campfire experience.  We  hated to have to douse it when the time came, but we certainly got our money’s worth, you might say – a wonderful memory for all.

  This morning was our last time together, they had to fly back to Denver this afternoon.  They came in from town and we had breakfast together at our house – Kate had prepared a special kind of baked French toast that had spiced pears as the first layer.  It was OUTSTANDING!  Wowsers!  After breakfast I wanted to take the Lewises on a little sightseeing trip (about 10 miles away) while Kate took care of some computer stuff she had to do.  So, we got out of Kate’s way and took off on our little jaunt to New Amsterdam, Indiana.  It’s a ‘one-horse town’ right on the Ohio River, and there is only ONE store in town, but it’s historic.  It’s Shaffer’s General Store – I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it in a previous post.  Anyway, John and Nat enjoyed browsing the old store and just enjoyed the quiet beauty of the little riverside community.

  I really felt like they got a good feel for this part of the world where we live, and they’ll look forward to coming again, which is exactly what we’d like to have happen  🙂

  Sorry they had to go back, but we have some really good memories of their visit, and I think they feel the same.  By the way, they all fell in love with little KD, and there was almost a tug-of-war to see who would get to have a dachsund in their lap  🙂