The Best Gift

I remember them with nostalgia -- those Christmases when we were kids, just as the 1950's were slowly turning into the 1960's.  No computers, no internet, no Skype, no mobile communications.

Ma Bell reigned supreme and long distance calls were something our parents made only on very rare, special occasions or in cases of emergency.  The postman was the most anticipated visitor of the day because he brought handfuls of Christmas cards from friends and family  from the beginning of December right through to New Year's.  A parcel was a special event, wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine.  Together, these two entities kept us connected  to our loved ones far away.

My parents opened each card with happy anticipation.  Every one contained a few words of joy from the sender, and very often a letter.  People took the time to tell us how they were and what they were doing.  It was their gift to us.  In return, my parents would sit for hours at the big walnut dining room table, writing their own good wishes and reporting on our progress.  I licked two and three cent stamps to stick on stacks of cheerful greetings before I slid out on the ice and snow to the closest street corner and listened to them plop down to the bottom of the mailbox.

Some cards were even more special than others.  One came from the Bowes-Lyons, a couple my parents befriended in their younger years, who lived on Canada's west coast.  Their card was special because, my mom told me, they were cousins to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mum.  Of course, my little eyes popped when I saw that card.  It was the closest we would ever come to royalty.

Another card came from a gentleman who always drew an original pen and ink sketch on the front of his card.  I can't remember now who he was or where he lived, but his artistry stays with me.  He would sketch a modern Christmas scene and always hide a baby Jesus somewhere in the picture.  Every year I wanted to be the first to spot it.  It was nothing short of a work of art.

Today, some of our greetings come via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter, but are no less special because every sender takes the time to think about us and wish us well.  And our time, it seems, is becoming not only our most precious commodity but also our greatest gift to others.

So to all of you dear readers, thank you for taking the time to read my little stories.  You make me strive to improve my writing skills and story development.  I think of you when I'm staring at a blank screen, wondering what will appear on it when I'm done, and whether you will enjoy reading it.  And of course, it's such a pleasure to hear from you too.

From our family to yours, we wish you a lovely, cozy Christmas, a bright, cheerful New Year, and love in abundance. 

Jean, George and Waldo

Bums 'R' Us

I have to admit I've given very little thought to the human posterior -- especially my own-- until now.

There are times, every now and then, that most people do consider their rear ends, like when it doesn't quite fit in our favourite pair of pants, or when we sit down on something hard, soft, cold or hot.  We might notice a jiggling sensation back there when we jog.  Certainly, that "pins and needles" feeling can sometimes set in if we sit on concrete for any length of time.

But generally speaking, the hind quarters are  innocuous body parts, a favourite subject of British bathroom humour and ranking rather low in the ratings of human anatomy.  Let's face it.  Our brains are fascinating and complex. Our hearts and lungs keep us alive, for heaven's sakes. Our eyes are both windows on the world, and windows into our souls. Our legs take us everywhere we want to go and our arms bring that which is far away closer to us.

But our bums?  They're just there. They are gluteus, and they are maximus. They need very little attention.

So I was shocked at just how pleasant a heated car seat could be.

You see, our old car bit the dust after seven years and we upgraded to one with a heated seat feature.  Ha, I scoffed.  Like my rump needs some fancy option like that.  I've lived this long without a bum warmer.  I likely won't ever use it.

And then one frosty morning I pushed that little button on the dash.  The one with a picture of a car seat, and squiggly lines radiating up from it.  In seconds, a heavenly warmth suffused my entire lower back and tush, and began radiating down my thighs.  I could feel my whole body relax.  Even my feet and toes, normally blocks of ice in cold weather, began feeling toasty and comfy. This was beyond hedonistic. This was awesome.

Obviously, I'm now a believer.  Heated car seats have to be one of the best inventions ever. And to think of all those winters, freezing my butt off in a cold, stiff bucket seat waiting for the dash vents to deliver a trickle of warmth , first to my face, then much later to everything else.