‘There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere!’

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If you’re old enough to remember simpler times, you’ll recall this title as the punch-line to one of President Reagan’s favorite jokes. The gag revealed not only Reagan’s engaging sense of humor, but also a lot about his political philosophy and his outlook on life.

The essence of the story goes something like this. It’s Christmas morning and two young brothers hurriedly amble towards the Christmas tree to discover their gifts. On one side lay piles of wonderful toys for one of the boys. He looked at it and sorrowfully said, “They’ll all be broken in a day or two.” The other boy’s gift, on the other side of the tree, was nothing but a pile of manure. He quickly grabbed a shovel and began to dig, joyfully telling his dour sibling, “There’s must be a pony in here somewhere!”

It’s the age-old tale of the wonders of optimism contrasted with the annoyance of Continue Reading “‘There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere!’”

What’s Your Favorite Christmas Special?

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Burgermeister Meisterburger. Why can’t I get that name out of my head? Like every kid who ever watched Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. I despised this character who hated toys.

But, to this day, I can’t shake that name. Burgermeister Meisterburger. You just can’t stop saying it.

Here’s the thing about Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, it was produced by Rankin/Bass. They’re the same folks who made the famous Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

I liked Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I hated Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the silly premise of the story. Maybe it was the goofy looking 1970s style young Kris Kringle. Maybe it was the fact it premiered on Sunday, December 13, 1970 on ABC.

Could this be because I had to make a choice between watching this Christmas special or Continue Reading “What’s Your Favorite Christmas Special?”

50 Years Ago When the Earth First Rose

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It was the first time I flew in a plane. It was the first time I skipped school. It was the first time we took a “real” family vacation.

It would be the first time we wouldn’t be home for Christmas. It would be the first time we’d be having Christmas with no snow. It would be the first time a young astronomy enthusiast would discover his own Christmas “Stars.”

December 1968. California still had a sparkle of promise. When all those who defined cool were still busying themselves leaving on the last train for the coast.

We weren’t leaving. We were just visiting. Courtesy of American Airlines. The excitement derived from all those firsts overshadowed the fact we wouldn’t be spending the Holy Day with the extended family we grew up with. On the other hand, my father no doubt looked Continue Reading “50 Years Ago When the Earth First Rose”

Live from the 2017 Buffalo Bills Snow Bowl

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Photo courtesy of Catarina Lena Carosa

Unless you grew up on the western shores of Lake Erie, it’s kinda hard to describe just exactly what “lake effect” conjures up in the brain. I was reminded of this last Friday, when I traveled once more to the land of my youth. I left merry old Mendon with nary a hint of the white stuff anywhere to be found. By the time I had arrive in Amherst ninety minutes later, the mushy roads were only then being plowed. In three hours – smack dab in the middle of the morning rush hour – a devilish lake effect band targeted the North Towns of Buffalo.

I was “lucky” enough to be there before the plows to witness first hand the blissful blessing of the new fallen snow. It was Christmas card perfect. Pristine and sparkly, with the look of a soft blanket, it almost took me back to those fuzzy days of yore, but then I Continue Reading “Live from the 2017 Buffalo Bills Snow Bowl”

‘tis the Season

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If the forecast is correct, there may be snow on the ground by the time you read this. Still, even if the dullish green grass and crumpled brown leaves remain, there’s no denying we’ve entered that special time of the year – the Christmas Season.

There. I said it. I said “Christmas” instead of “Xmas,” instead of “Holiday,” instead of “Winter.” instead of “Xmas.” I don’t say “Christmas” to ignore practicing Jews, who celebrate Hanukkah beginning on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev (which falls on Tuesday, December 12th this year) and lasts for 8 days (December 20th this year). I say “Merry Christmas” because that’s what my family celebrates (and has celebrated for generations). If my family had celebrated Hanukkah instead, I would be wishing everyone a “Happy Hanukkah” rather than a “Merry Christmas.”

Well, maybe I’d still say “Merry Christmas.”

Why? Because, despite efforts by Christian groups to deny this and by anti-religious Continue Reading “‘tis the Season”

A Christmas Postcard

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classic-christmas-postcardThere’s something about this season that evokes bygone memories. These aren’t sepia toned memories – I’m not that old – they’re more like a mix of warm vibrant colors filmed with a soft lens. In other words, they bring forth feelings both nostalgic and pleasant. Think of a classic Christmas postcard, its snow covered landscape offering the perfect contrast to the brilliant but somehow muted colors surrounding a heartfelt home filled with love and the joy of expectation. This paints the picture of the memories I’m writing about.

Except my memories aren’t make believe. They are very real, although the distant years sometimes make me wonder if the soft lens distorts more than the crisp definitions we’ve become all too accustomed to in the digitized world in which we live. No matter. The price of a slight distortion here and there is well worth the comfort of the inner smile they bring.

Of course these memories, as they do for everyone and almost by definition, come from Continue Reading “A Christmas Postcard”

Revealed: Christmas Spirit’s Real Hometown

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But wait. There’s more to this story. As you travel through the 50 Hidden Gems of Greater Western New York, you’ll no doubt notice the number of amazing gifts we given to our community, our nation and even the world. Is there something in our spirit of living that has made Greater Western New York such a font of helpful, practical and invigorating ideas? What makes our character so creative yet so generous? As I’m writing this particular passage, we are within a few days of Christmas. I can’t help but think how our regional personality resembles Santa Claus.

And then I discover this.

Not only do we have the Continue Reading “Revealed: Christmas Spirit’s Real Hometown”

A Christmas Letter

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the December 21, 1989 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259Dear Gentle Reader:

As we find ourselves in the midst of the hectic holiday season, let us each make a personal commitment to enjoy the tranquil pleasance which surrounded that solemn manger scene some two thousand years ago.

Don’t get me wrong. In no way am I pressing piety on anyone. The aura of which I speak blesses all. The wonder of repose can – and should – be tasted by those of any persuasion. Divergent traditions – from ancient philosophy to modern psychology – all address the importance calmness and rest can have to the human spirit.

Silent Night. Holy Night. All is calm. All is quiet.

These short words pointedly proclaim that which pervades the very foundation of this season. For anyone who doubts the truth to these words, open your door or window at Continue Reading “A Christmas Letter”

Is it OK to Wish “Merry Christmas” in Public?

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In a PC mad nation, there was once a rush to purge “Merry Christmas” from the lexicon of polite society, or at least local school districts. For fear of offending 1125011_44284321_Merry_Christmas_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300offensive people (let’s face it, anyone offending by a joyous and peaceful religious sentiment ought to be considered at a minimum intolerant or, in a less PC vein, offensive), “Christmas” vacations became Winter breaks and “Easter” vacations became Spring break. All the while, taking the Lord’s name in vein fell under the embrace of “free speech.”

But that’s for the extremist element we all read about but rarely encounter in real life. What about us common folk who simply wanted to do the right thing? We didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but we wanted to still practice our religion.

Well, I think I accidentally stumbled on an answer to the question “Is it OK to wish Continue Reading “Is it OK to Wish “Merry Christmas” in Public?”

Mega-Mall Mania

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the December 7, 1989 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259Those picture postcards really have it. The small chateau with the roof thickened by a foot of snow. The gentle rolling hills of white. The soft pillar of smoke rising mildly from the brick chimney. The Charlie Brown size snowflakes feathering down from the pleasantly gray sky. The scene conjures all the familial imagery of a country Christmas.

A far cry from the maddening malls of suburban shopping centers. These hubs of hysteria make even the slushy city glisten with tradition. Somehow, when they invented Continue Reading “Mega-Mall Mania”