Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The end, of the Beginning

Thought I’d share one of my favorite tenors, David Phelps, of the Gaither Vocal Band. What a voice this gifted man has!

The lyrics are embedded in the video so you can follow along.

Sit back and enjoy.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A little ‘light’ for your day

rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer-12One of my favorite ‘friends I’ve never met’ sent me this. You all know her from many posts here on Whispers in Purple over the past few years.

So please welcome Lucy Adams who shares one of her ‘Song Stories’ with us, reprinted here with permission.

Everyone needs some ‘light’ in life.

He was quietly working at his desk in the advertising department of a large national department store, when the boss came by and said, “Can you come up with a new gimmick for the Christmas shoppers? Sales were slow last Christmas.”

This simple request gave birth to an idea that was eventually to explode into the popular music phenomenon recognized world-wide as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Robert May, advertising clerk for Montgomery-Ward in Chicago, set to work. He drew a cartoon-style reindeer—which he originally named ‘Rollo,’then changed—and he wrote a poem about its imaginary life.

That 1939 creation of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer brought lighthearted laughter to many people, and, as an advertising gimmick, was credited with selling lots of extra toys for the store and mail-order company.

As thousands of the poems were distributed, the funny little reindeer with a red nose began to acquire a life if his own.

Many are familiar with the short, easy to remember lines, but few realize that the story is actually auto-biographical—that Robert May apparently reached into his own life to portray the personality of Rudolph, as in the lines

All of the other reindeer, Used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

The author’s daughter, Virginia Herz, has revealed that the poem tells a story similar to her father’s life. “He was a very shy man and felt like an underdog,” she has been quoted as saying.

So it was perhaps natural that Rudolph’s creator would indeed write a story in which the sad and lonely reindeer was needed for a lofty purpose.

With his funny red nose, Rudolph was the only reindeer which could provide the guiding light.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say, “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?

Suddenly the reindeer with the inferiority complex was important, and his friends changed their attitude. No longer did they laugh and call him names, but they

Shouted out with glee, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you’ll go down in history!

Ten years later, the popular story-poem became the basis for a nine-minute movie cartoon. And, in 1948, Rudolph’s fame quickly spread when music was added to the lyrics by songwriter Johnny Marks, who, incidentally, was married to Robert May’s sister.

Popular cowboy singer Gene Autry recorded it and millions of records were sold.*

By the time it was made into a television movie in 1974, it had become a part of America’s Christmas tradition.

The original poem, with other Rudolph memorabilia, is on display at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, Robert May’s alma mater.

While singing the songs of Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a song I [Lucy] include because it lifts my heart and makes me happy. Just as the strange, lit-up nose on a despondent reindeer made him somebody on that dark and foggy night, the words and music of his song make me feel somewhat the same way.

And I am reminded of another dark night, that night long ago when shepherds near Bethlehem heard angels sing as they filled the sky.

The stars became brighter and one special star led them to a baby named Jesus, born in a manger.

In Jesus’ ministry--thirty years later—He said, “I am the light of the world. All who follow me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” [John 8:12]

This is the answer to every darkness . . . Jesus.

By Lucy Adams as published in the Cookeville Herald-Citizen on December 19, 1997.

*A note from Peg: It might interest some to know that before Gene Autry made the first recording of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, it was turned down by Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore. Autry’s recording sold more records than any other Christmas song with the exception of White Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Nostalgia

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Each year, as Christmas draws close, I always seem to find my mind—and memories—drifting back to my childhood.

Up until I was ten years old, we lived in Stamford, Connecticut. My maternal grandmother, aunts, and cousins, lived in or around Elmira, New York. My paternal grandparents lived in Oneonta, New York, with uncles and aunts, and cousins, living in nearby towns like Schenectady.

More often than not, we’d pack up and drive from Stamford to Oneonta for Christmas. Once in a while we went to Elmira, but it was usually to my Blann grandparents.

In my mind’s memories, the drive seemed endless. And there was always snow. Lots of it. I think I recall we always made the drive up at night, after Daddy got home from his job in New York City. He made that commute by train, Mom dropping him off and picking him up every day.

This was during the mid-late ‘40’s. The war was over. No more blackout curtains. Roosevelt had won his third term as President, although I remember Mom and Dad earnestly praying and hoping Dewey would win. But FDR was too popular. (I wonder, sometimes, how history would have changed had Dewey won.)

Anyway, back to Christmas memories.

Granddaddy Blann was a pastor, and he and Grandmother lived above the church.  I can still see it (almost) clearly. There were two ways to get upstairs: an enclosed staircase that led both from the church sanctuary and a door to the outside, and another staircase at the back of the house that led outside to Grandmother’s garden.

Again, at Christmas-time, there was always snow, at least in my mind’s eye. My grandparents always had a big Christmas tree upstairs, decorated with light strings with those large and medium-sized bulbs, and some strings had bulbs that looked like candles, filled with some sort of liquid that bubbled when the lights were on. They never failed to fascinate us as children. Old-fashioned glass ornaments, garlands of strung popcorn and/or cranberries, and LOTS if silver icicles completed the scene.

Under the tree, lots of colorfully-wrapped presents waited. When we got there, our gifts were added to it, and as the other relatives arrived, both before and after we got there, their wrapped gifts piled around the tree increased the anticipation. Each family usually brought gifts for their own family members, and something for Grandmother and Granddaddy. Seldom were gifts exchanged between families. (By the time my family left Connecticut for Wisconsin in the summer of 1949, the Blann clan had grown so large we started drawing names.)

Christmas morning was the time for opening gifts, but not before we had breakfast, although we children were allowed to empty our Christmas stockings. We were allowed to stay in our pajamas, robes and slippers. One of the uncles played “Santa” handing out the gifts. It was joyful mayhem with ooh’s and ahh’s, laughter and hugs.

Then we had a prayer time, kneeling, of course, and then Granddaddy would read the Christmas story from the Book of Luke, sometimes accompanied by a mini-sermon.

Later, Granddaddy would lie down on the sofa for a nap. As children, all the cousins would vie for the privilege of combing his hair. He had the most beautiful, soft snow-white hair and he loved it when we’d do that. Usually, it put him to sleep, unless we raised a ruckus over whose turn it was. He was loving, but stern, and when the little tiffs got out of hand, he’d take the comb away from us and stick it back in his sweater pocket. And that was the end of that.

This is getting kind of long. Maybe I’ll write more over the next few days. For now, I’d love to hear some of your childhood Christmas memories. Just write them in the comments space below. I will respond to each one as time allows.

In the meantime, I’m wishing you all a most Blessed CHRISTmas, and all the best in the coming year.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Announcing a New Blog

I will be launching a new blog in January, titled Peg’s Bookcase. This is the “logo” I’m using.

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Peg’s Bookcase will focus on writers and readers. As an author, I’m always looking for new readers. As an avid reader, I’m likewise always looking for new books to read and discover some new authors.

So that’s the plan for Peg’s Bookcase. You can take a sneak peek at www.pegsbookcase.blogspot.com, or, if you’re reading this online, just click on the tab above to get there.

It’s not technically ‘live’ yet, but it’s there and you can read more about my intentions there.

If you’re a writer, and would be interested in submitting something, click on the Contact tab and let me know.

If you’re a reader, and not necessarily a writer, then Peg’s Bookcase is the place for you!

Hope you’ll check it out.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Busy . . . or Productive?

Good question!

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Have you ever had a day, or a week, or a month, where you know you’ve been busy, yet in the end, feel as if you’ve accomplished nothing?

That’s been my situation for the past six or seven weeks. After finishing my Christmas novel Somehow, Christmas Will Come in October, I jumped right into the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge, the object being to write 50,000 words during the month of November, which averages out to about 1,700 words a day, if I write every day.

In between finishing the novel and starting NaNo, Puffers, one of my beloved cats died, sending me into a period of grieving over losing him. He was eleven years old, born in my home, and never far away from me.

Then, exactly one month and ten days later, my precious cat, Bubba—Puffers’ father—also passed away, deepening my grief. Bubba was special. I found him on our back patio in Las Vegas, abandoned by his mother, at two weeks old. I bottle fed him until he could eat on his own. From the first, he was all mine. Slept with me every night, and became my constant companion. Losing him was devastating.

By the end of November I had written a total of 37,739 words, far short of the NaNo goal. Depressing.

In retrospect, I should never have started that challenge. I wasn’t ready to plunge into another writing marathon. I needed a rest. My heart just wasn’t in the project.

I’ve spent the time since Bubba died, (the day before Thanksgiving) cleaning up all the cat paraphernalia, setting things back to rights, all the while missing my two fur babies.

So, yeah, I’ve been busy, but, aside from finishing my Christmas novel, I feel I’ve really accomplished nothing. I failed to finish NaNoWriMo. I’ve not been out of the house except to get the mail, and Thanksgiving dinner out, since October. Snowfall and frigid temperatures prevented it, for one thing,. Add in the depression, and you probably have the picture.

I’m not writing this to bring anyone down. And, maybe, this post is a bit of a cathartic. Something I had to write out.

Anyway, I’m really curious to know if any of you have had times of busy-ness with nothing much to show for it. Please share.

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