Christmas Carol Classics: Frosty the Snowman

“Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul,
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
And two eyes made out of coal.

Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say,
He was made of snow but the children know
How he came to life one day.

There must have been some magic in
That Old top hat they found.
For when they placed it on his head
He began to dance around.

O, Frosty the snowman
Was alive as he could be,
And the children say he could laugh and play
Just the same as you and me.

Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul,
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
And two eyes made out of coal.

Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say,
He was made of snow but he came to life one day.

There must have been some magic in
That Old top hat they found.
For when they placed it on his head
He began to dance around.

Frosty the snowman
Knew the sun was hot that day,
So he said, “Let’s run
And we’ll have some fun
Now before I melt away.”

Frosty the snowman
Had to hurry on his way,
But he waved goodbye saying,
“Don’t you cry,
I’ll be back again some day.””

Frosty was first recorded by the famous Gene Autry (with the Cass County Boys) in 1950.   The year before Autry recorded Rudolph, which was also a big success.  As a result of the song’s success there were lots of TV shows and books and other materials made.  One of the things that made this song stand out and be so successful was the concept of it.  We’ve all made a snowman that we wished would come to life, or at the very least thought about how cool something like that would be.

While most versions never talk about Christmas, we typically think of it as a Christmas song, probably because of all the magic in it.  After all, how else would a snowman come to life? When it comes to this time of year it does seem like there’s a little extra sparkle in the world, a little extra something showing up in our days that just makes them a little better.  Maybe it’s all the cheer, maybe it’s the goodwill, or maybe it’s just the desire not to get caught doing bad things before Santa makes his famous run.

But the song ends with Frosty saying that he’ll be back again some day.  I love that the song ends this way because it’s a great reminder that as much as life is made up of individual days and moments, there’s a lot more to life than just the individual moments.  Each day is an opportunity to build on what the previous day accomplished or start over because you’ve realized a mistake you were making.  Of course there are special moments that come each year like Christmas and Thanksgiving that are important reminders to celebrate life and gather together.  So whether you’re anticipating the magic to return, leaving the magic behind for the time being or dancing and singing with that magic, find a way to add a little magic to your day.

Advertisements

A Timely Holiday

This week I’ve gotten a whole bunch of emails from people and companies with different sentiments about the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays. They’ve all contained some sage advice, and I’ve been sharing what I’ve been reading through my blogs and newsletters as well as with friends and family.  The word that I wanted to share today is timely.  I do believe in a right time for everything, even if we don’t think it’s the right time.  So often we’re wanting things to happen on our time but that’s simply not how it works.  Time isn’t something we can control.  Sure we can do everything possible to expedite things, but sometimes there’s no way to push things through quicker.

I don’t know why some things take years to develop or why some things happen way before we think we’re ready for them or everything seems to happen at once.  I don’t think that’s life playing a joke on us, I think that’s just the way it works and part of how we learn and experience the life journey.  Sometimes it helps if you take a step back, other times it helps to push through and not keep looking back so much.  Sometimes you just have to be patient and let it do what it’s going to do.

This weekend as you gather with family and friends, consider the timing.  Is this the right holiday for some forgiveness?  Is this the holiday you should be taking extra time off?  Is this the holiday you should be giving extra? Is this the holiday that you need to step up for family and friends?  Is this the holiday that you do something for yourself?  Whatever comes your way this holiday I encourage you to reflect on what’s life trying to tell you and what opportunities life is bringing you.  And if life’s bringing you lots of blessings and joy make sure you share it!

Christmas Carol Classics: Jingle Bells

“Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
We got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh yeah”

Today’s song is the classic “Jingle Bells” and you can listen to a very classic rendition here.  I decided to include this song not because it’s such a classic and everyone knows it, but because of what came up in my research while deciding which songs to do.

It was originally published in 1857 by James Lord Pierpont.  Interestingly enough it wasn’t published as a Christmas song, but that’s what we know it as today.  Originally it was a drinking song and a reminder of the freedoms couples could have when riding on a sleigh unchaperoned.  And jingle bells were originally seen as a practical noise, whereas now we see them as a reminder of Christmas and Santa’s sleigh coming. The song is also one of the most famous to be recreated into another tune, Jingle Bell Rock.

That said, Jingle Bells is one of those songs that brings out the kid in all of us, something that the holiday season is notorious for doing.  Even the most serious of things need a little fun too, like the way in 1965 Gemini 6 astronauts decided to play a prank on Mission Control and told them that they were seeing a shape traveling north to south close to the earth and then used a harmonica and sleigh bells to send the melody of Jingle Bells back to Mission Control.  So let the song remind you to have some fun this Christmas.  Don’t worry so much about getting the right gift, instead, enjoy the people you’re with and the life you have.

Personal Marketing

We’re getting closer to Christmas and Hanukkah with each day, I hope that your business is filled with cheer and good will (and lots of sales!).  Today I thought we’d take a moment to talk about one of the challenges when it comes to marketing and business.  There are 2 general audiences and 2 sub audiences that businesses may try to reach: the general audiences are men and women, and the sub audiences are boys and girls.  No, everyone doesn’t fit into those neat packages, there are men who have no interest in football and women who love football for example.  But as I was thinking about the differences between targeting men and women in business it got me thinking about Christmas and making sales this time of year.

It struck me as interesting that many of the Christmas stories we know and love are based around men (or boys); think about Santa, Jesus, and Scrooge, not to mention more modern characters like Buddy the Elf (Elf), Jack Frost, Kevin McCallister (Home Alone), Charlie Brown, George Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life), Clark Griswold (National Lampoon) and Ralphie Parker (A Christmas Story).  Yes, some of these were given the lead role because men are traditionally seen as leaders.  And yes, each of those stories has at least one female in a serious role too.   But I couldn’t name the women like I could the men that the story is based around.

The point is that it’s easy to stick a man in a lead role because that’s what we know, just like it’s easy to try to incorporate sports, sex, cars or success into your marketing to target men for example, or kids, love, relationships and beauty to target women because that’s what a large portion of them like.  But what more businesses are realizing is that there’s a lot more to men and women than just those blanket categories.  The recent Dollar Shave Club ads highlight this well with regards to men.  In the ads you’re shown a bunch of different guys who shop for different types of body wash or some other related product.  There’s Mr. Muscles, the Slob, the Cool Dude, the Clean Cut Guy, and the Average Joe.  Yes, all these guys use the same types of products (body wash etc.), but each product isn’t right for every guy (no matter what a celebrity spokesperson might say).

In this world of customization and numerous companies offering something similar yet different, it’s very hard to be successful with a blanket product or campaign that speaks to (or tries to speak to) one or more of the general audiences as a whole.  In those cases there’s a specific goal with the ad, and it’s usually more often about branding, not a specific product (think about some of the holiday ads you’re seeing for major companies).  I understand the appeal to selling to “everyone” but let’s face it, that’s not a reality anymore with all the options that are available in 2016.  Taking the time to really get to know your customers and their likes, dislikes and interests will help you get clear on how to target within the larger general audience to speak to your specific audience.  Don’t stoop to the old standby, easy answers unless they’re the right ones when it comes to your customers.  Take the time to customize your marketing and show your customers that they matter to you and you understand them.

Christmas Carol Classics: Deck The Halls

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the blazing Yule before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.”

Today’s carol is “Deck The Halls” and you can listen to it here.  This song was sung in the original Welsh in the 16th century and in English in 1862.  This is one of those songs that was meant to be sung as a competition between two groups of singers. It was also not originally sung around Christmas, but instead the New Year.

I share this song for many of the reasons that people sing carols to begin with: to spread good cheer.  This song is all about the cheer and celebration of the holidays. It encourages us to decorate the world and gather together and be merry.  Some of us decorate because it’s tradition, others do it because it’s for their kids, but it’s really an opportunity for all of us to celebrate life, being alive, making it to and through another year, and the ways that we’ve changed and grown over the past year.  What will you celebrate this year?

All I Want for Christmas Is You

There are lots of great sayings flying around on cards, on banners and around the internet as we approach the holidays.  Some of the ones you’ve probably seen include ‘”Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more”‘ (From The Grinch), ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year,’ ’tis the season to be jolly,’  and ‘Christmas is not so much about opening presents as opening our hearts.’  But the one I’m thinking about today is ‘All I want for Christmas is you.’

For fortunate couples this is the sentiment.  They’re happy to just have each other, to be able to celebrate another Christmas together and with family and friends.  They’re not concerned with how big the ‘rock’ is under the tree or in the stocking (or even if there is one at all), or if they got a cool toy or tool or memorabilia.  However, they may buy those things for their partner because they know they would enjoy receiving it.  What they’re most excited for is going to bed or waking up on Christmas and being there with each other.  This is not the case for every couple, some couples are very unhappy, or they let that ‘perfect’ gift overwhelm them and ignore what their partner is saying about what they really want for Christmas.

I know that what most people want is to be loved, feel appreciated and feel wanted.  It’s unfortunate that so many relationships reach the point where the love isn’t there, or even worse when hatred is there.  So this Christmas as you’re thinking about gifts and picking up a few last minute ones (or if you haven’t started shopping yet) I encourage you to really think about what would make that special person smile the most or feel loved the most. Maybe it’s as simple as spending a day or an afternoon alone with you.  Maybe it’s a commitment to leave your phone someplace else during dinner.  Maybe it’s a commitment to be do more around the house or spend more time with the kids.  Or maybe it’s the gift of listening and seeing a coach or counselor and working to improve your relationship.  Whatever it is I encourage you to let it be something that says loudly and clearly to your partner that you want them for your Christmas present.

Christmas Carol Classics: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

This month one of the things we’ll be doing is looking at Christmas songs (we’re looking at some too on one of my other blogs).  Today I thought we’d start with a fun one, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus!”

“I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night
She didn’t see me creep
Down the stairs to have a peep
She thought that I was tucked up
In my bedroom, fast asleep

Then I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night

He saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
I did! I really did see Mommy kissing Santa Claus
And I’m gonna tell my Dad

Then I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night

Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night.”

Did you know that this song was first recorded in 1952 by Jimmy Boyd who was 13 at the time?  Even more amazing, it reached #1 in December of that year as well.  One of the most famous recordings was by the Jackson 5 (you can listen to it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PITCmngiMfA ).

The big controversy over this song is whether Santa is dad or if the writer of the song (Tommie Connor) is actually suggesting that the mom in the song is cheating on the dad with Santa.  Since we’re given the perspective of the child who believes in Santa being real, it’s not easy to tell which it is.

Regardless of what you believe or think the writer was getting at, it’s a good reminder that sometimes kids don’t understand things and we have to be careful as the adults to set a good example for them, especially in high pressure situations or in times when they may be extra sensitive (like with Christmas and being on the hunt for the stash or shaking presents under the tree or staying up to listen for reindeer hooves).

But, if like many people believe, the Santa is actually dad in disguise, it’s a good reminder to couples to find time to play and make special moments even if things are hectic and crazy like they are during the holiday season.  Yes, there’s a lot going on and you’ll probably be getting sitters for the parties you have to attend, but one of the best gifts you can give yourselves as a couple is to take a night to be alone (if money’s a problem there’s probably another family you can swap kids with to give them a night off too).  The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration and coming together with those you love, so make sure to commit some of your time this month to your partner.

The Mess of Christmas

I’m a bit of a neat freak.  It’s not that I believe everything should be put away at the end of the day or perfectly neat and tidy, but I do like things cleaner and everything always has a particular home it belongs in.  As we head further into the month of December and the holiday parties start happening and we work our way to the actual days of Christmas and Hanukkah I’m thinking about one of the things that makes this time of year special: the mess.

I don’t know anyone who really enjoys the mess of the mall or the cars on the road, but there is something special about everyone bustling about looking for those special gifts for the people they care about, and being stuck in traffic this year makes me think of holiday road trips in years past to visit family, something that was always favorite part of the season.  Of course there are the messes of baking cookies and other Christmas treats like edible presents for friends, teachers and coworkers, not to mention the mess that’s made each night of Hanukkah or around the tree on Christmas as presents are gifted and unwrapped.

Yes, it’s a lot of work to clean up, yes it’s a lot of work to think of all the presents and recipes and pick up the ingredients and the gifts, but there’s something satisfying in the whole process.  As adults we don’t do the whole “rip the paper off and throw it everywhere in excitement” thing like we did when we were kids and our kids do today, gift giving is a lot more civilized than it used to be.  But I’m reminded this holiday season that the mess is part of the joy and that there’s something satisfying knowing that you made all those cookies and you can see all your efforts around the kitchen, and there’s something satisfying in the scattered paper having seen the smiles and hearing the shrieks of joy when wanted presents were opened.

This holiday season give yourself a break if you’re a bit (or a lot) of a neat freak.  Take time to enjoy the emotion behind the mess and the people you’re celebrating with, I know that the mess will be there for you after the celebration.

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”  Andy Rooney

The Story of St. Nick

Christmas is all about stories, and depending on who you ask there are several stories about the origins of Christmas, one of which is Santa, also known as St. Nick. Today I thought it would be fun to take a look at where St. Nick came from and how we’ve gotten to have him as one of the key figures of Christmas today.

The original Saint Nicholas is from the 3rd century. He was known for using his inheritance to help the needy, sick and suffering. Even as a young man he was giving help to children, women and sailors. He was eventually persecuted for his good deeds and spent years in prison. His gift giving habits and general good-will were adopted by many different countries who created their own versions of Father Christmas (UK), Santa (Scotland), Pere Noel (France), Christ Kind (Germany), and Kris Kringle (USA). It’s through Saint Nicholas and his various “brothers” that we have the practice of filling stockings with gifts.

The most obvious reason of why he was given the honor of becoming the icon of Christmas was because of his love for kids. As much as adults love giving and getting gifts at Christmas, the gift giving tradition is really about the kids. It’s not about the dollar amount of the gifts you’ve given or who can give the most gifts, but about helping those in need and bringing joy to little hearts everywhere.

On this very special day I encourage you to step back from the serious preparations, family obligations, and other commitments and make sure to take time to love on your kids and family. Let them know you appreciate them beyond their ability to give you gifts but for the special person that they are.

A Grateful Christmas

There’s just one week left until Christmas and as I was thinking about the holiday over the last few weeks and dealing with the traffic and general busyness of the month I found myself saying “Thank God” a lot. There were the moments when someone was about to back up into my car but finally saw me and stopped, when I found a gift I was looking for or thought of something to give someone, when I finally got home after driving to and from client appointments, when the checkout lines went quickly, when packages arrived on time, and of course when bed time finally arrived after very long days.

The holiday season is all about celebrating. Typically we leave being thankful to November and Thanksgiving, but you really can’t separate receiving gifts and not being thankful, or the reminder of what this season is all about, whether you’re religious or not. The season is about giving gifts whether the gift of a baby who would save the world or the gift of things that you don’t have and can’t buy for yourself or just are little blessings to you. But the season also gives us the gift of reminding each of us how lucky we are to be alive and have family and/or friends who care about us, and those we care about too.

So as you look to this week ahead I encourage you to look for opportunities each hour and each day to be grateful. Yes, there will still be extra cars on the road, gifts to pretend you like and people you have to play nice with, but there will be more opportunities to celebrate and be grateful than those that annoy you. If you aren’t seeing things to be grateful for it’s time for a serious coal check in your stocking and attitude check too. The bad stuff isn’t going away any time soon, but as we discussed on Monday, it’s up to us to decide how we spend our attention and time.

“I would like to be remembered as a man who had a wonderful time living life, a man who had good friends, fine family – and I don’t think I could ask for anything more than that, actually.” Frank Sinatra