Category Archives: Holidays-Celebrations

Wishing You The Bestest Christmas 2012

A Heck of a Guy Christmas Tradition

Since 2007, Heck Of A Guy has featured Lady Lawanda’s1 account of her “Bestest Christmas,” a story that I found – and continue to find – touching, wonderful, uncomplicated, profound, gleeful, poignant, heartening, and exactly the gift to offer readers.

That Christmas Day 2012 finds me devotedly and delightfully married to a woman who could have done so much better does not diminish my feelings for Julie and Lawanda, both of whom brought joy into my life and both of whom were lost in death. Instead, it invests those feelings  in Penny as well – and adds Penny’s memories of Don, to whom she was married for 24 years until his death  on October 12, 2009, to our shared treasury of cherishments. This story is part of that mutual dowry.

Lady Lawanda’s Christmas Story

The child of devoted parents and the youngest sibling, by several years, of a swarm of indulgent brothers and sisters, Lady Lawanda was the unwitting star of a long-running series of theatrical productions featuring her as ingénue of an ensemble troupe with family members simultaneously playing support roles, exquisitely and exhaustively stage-managing the shows, and serving as an enthusiastic and starstruck audience.

A seasonal favorite was the annual Christmas pageant, central to which was the assumption that Santa Claus was a dramatic, all-embracing, benevolent figure no less real for completing his seemingly impossible tasks accomplished out of sight of those whose lives he blessed – not unlike the first Mayor Daley.

While the script of “Lady Lawanda’s Christmas” varied somewhat from year to year, the most ancient of the recurrent motifs was the the discovery of evidence that Santa had completed his holiday visit.

In the service of that goal, sooty footprints were manufactured that began and ended beneath the chimney, partially eaten remnants of the snack left for Saint Nick and the chow left for his reindeer were strewn artistically, and sound effects congruent with a rooftop landing of a sleigh powered by flying reindeer rendered.

To the young Lady Lawanda, the cumulative effect was utterly convincing.

By her own assessment, Lady Lawanda’s most memorable moment from all these Christmas performances occurred in her ninth year as the juvenile lead in this intimate, long-running, and remarkable theater in an instance which crystallized and preserved for all time her dramaturgical talent for playing a role with absolute conviction.

Lawanda’s Christmas Vision

Running a Christmas Eve errand with her father, perhaps her greatest fan, Lawanda glimpsed something in her peripheral vision. Although whatever had caught her eye had vanished within the fraction of a second required to shift her focus, she knew, wholeheartedly and unquestionably, that she had seen Santa Claus soaring across the sky in his sleigh making his deliveries.

The remaining plot is anti-climatic. Lawanda gleefully informed her father that she had just seen Santa Claus making his rounds, her father acknowledged her report without any suggestion of surprise, let alone doubt, and, on their return home, she found, indeed, that Santa had already come, dropped off her usual bonanza of gifts, and departed.

Epilogue

Lawanda’s glance of that communal myth, made all but inevitable by the ongoing machinations of a family smitten with her, distilled and condensed the innocence, security, delight, unalloyed joyfulness, enchantment, affection, and all that is special in a childhood that was imperfect, which all childhoods are, but suffused with love, which is not true of all childhoods.

If the celebrations, ornaments, feasts, and traditions of Christmas over the generations have accomplished nothing other than that moment when a nine year old girl, to the delight of her loving family, was convinced she saw Santa flying through the sky, I would maintain the time, energy, and expenditures2 have been well compensated.

My own Christmas wish is for each of you to be
likewise blessed, today and every day,
with signs and emblems that you are loved

  1. Lady Lawanda is the blogonym (and, I hasten to add, the self-chosen blogonym) of the woman in my life for the too few years before she died from breast cancer in June 2008. Lady Lawanda was a profoundly important and positive force in her close-knit neighborhood and the school where she was an especially effective and innovative teacher and leader. She was also a central, vital element in the lives of her family, her friends, and, not least, my children and me. I miss both Julie and Lawanda every day. []
  2. Including those aesthetic affronts committed in the name of commemorating the holiday []

Happy Holidays

Because of celebrations with family and friends, posting at the DrHGuy and Heck Of A Guy sites is likely to be sporadic or absent altogether until the end of this week.

To those who have generously contributed to this site, to those who read these entries, and to those who are burdened with serving as subjects for these posts, Duchess & DrHGuy wish you the most splendid of holidays.

It’s The Most Chocolodka Time Of The Year

Over the years, DrHGuy has explored, as he is wont to do, the sleigh path less traveled to holiday revelry, and, not being the kind of chap to keep such joyfulness to himself, he annually shares with readers his favorite Yuletide embellishments.

Chief among these tidings of joy is the opening of the Season Of Chocolodka. a time which offers hope to the weary masses and solace to all humankind.

Gentle reader, would your life be enhanced by an elixir that

  1. Is intoxicatingly delicious and deliciously intoxicating?
  2. Makes any event an occasion and any occasion an event – occasionally or eventually?
  3. Convinces your sweetie that making snow angels naked while you videotape the event qualifies as madcap merriment?
  4. Persuades you and perhaps even other (also elixir-ingesting) individuals that you are a fuuuuuuunnnnn sort of guy or gal?
  5. Infuses your empty, barren life with meaning, love, and joy?

Well, Bunkie, if you’ll settle for four out of five, then I’ve got just the thing for you, a little something I like to think of as 1

chocolodka_announcement

The original post with the full set of instructions for Chocolodka is at The Quintessential Chocolate Vodka – ChocolodkaAn instructional video is now available at How To Make The Original Chocolodka – The Video.

Chocolodka Chantilly Snaps – Contributed by Coco Éclair

The complete set of information about Chocolodka, including links to all Heck Of A Guy Chocolodka posts and recipes revealed by The Chocolodka Goddesses, Coco Éclair and Duchess of Durham, for delicacies employing Chocolodka such as the treats displayed here can be found at Heck Of A Guy Chocolodka Page.

Christmas Chocolodka Gingerbread – Contributed by Duchess of Durham

  1. For the image=impaired, the graphic’s text reads: “The Heck Of A Guy Illustrated, Explicated, Annotated, & Unexpurgated Dishwasher Safe, Dishwasher Dependent Formulation For The Ultimate Solvent Of Anxiety, Woe, & Inhibitions, The Good Time-Enhancing, Courage-Bolstering, Someone’s Gonna Get Lucky Tonight-Assuring Quintessential Chocolate Vodka: Chocolodka.” []

Do Sugar Plums Have To Dance All Night?

A Heck Of A Guy Christmas Classic

As we’ve been told,

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
. . .

From A Visit from Saint Nicholas2
by Clement Clark Moore,3 First published 1823

This verse leads to thoughts of the season – Jack Frost nipping, snowmen, gifts beneath a Christmas tree, and – more to our point today – the inevitable and abiding question:

What The Heck Is A Sugar Plum?

Etching of confectionery booth, including “a little boy with his conical bag of sugar plums” by Christoph Weigel, c. 1700

As is so often the case with inevitable and abiding questions, the answer is available at Heck Of A Guy. The authoritative commentary on the Sugar Plum conundrum, originally published here in December 2007, continues to be The Sugar Plum Vision Quest.1

  1. Subtitle: A Compendium of Beliefs, Observations, and Considerations, Supplemented By Annotated Illustrations, Relating to the Nature of The Sugar Plum As Referenced In Popular 19th Century Christmas Poetry []

In Celebration: Allison Crowe – O Holy Night

Allison Crowe – O Holy Night
From Allison Crowe’s Tidings Concert album
Video: Adrian22

Leonard Cohen & Jennifer Warnes “Silent Night” Video Opens Christmas Season

Merry Christmas, Marianne

As ongoing readers may know, a Leonard Cohen Christmas album has yet to enter that notably diverse pantheon of holiday CDs that includes such specimens as Twisted Sister’s “Twisted Christmas,” Jethro Tull’s “The Jethro Tull Christmas Album,” “A John Waters Christmas” by various artists, Afroman’s “A Colt 45 Christmas,” and William Hung’s “Hung For The Holidays.”1

Leonard Cohen’s songs and albums are often the result of long gestations. “I’m Your Man” was an album three years in the making.2 “In My Secret Life” required 13 years to progress from conception to release – even with Sharon Robinson helping.3 Nonetheless, even Cohen’s most ardent fans can be forgiven if they despair over his Christmas compilation, which is now in its 33rd year of preparation with only one song to show for the effort.4

Well, at least that one song is a pretty good one.

Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes – Silent Night

This Leonard Cohen-Jennifer Warnes duet of Silent Night with Raffi Hakopian on violin was performed and recorded at the December 15, 1979 Brighton, England concert.5

The Leonard Cohen Silent Night Video – A Tradition Since 2011

There is no film of the performance itself; consequently, I constructed a video montage of photos of Cohen and Warnes, drawings by Leonard Cohen, and a clip of a very young Leonard and his sister Esther skating to complement the music last year to accompany the music.  As of today, it has been viewed 47,932 times.

Download Silent Night by Leonard Cohen & Jennifer Warnes

The audio recording of Silent Night by Leonard Cohen & Jennifer Warnes used in the video is the same MP3 available as a track on the Another Other Leonard Cohen Album. Information about those songs and download instructions are available at the link.

Credit Due Department: The photo of Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes is by Claude Gassian and was contributed by Dominique BOILE. The shot of violinist Raffi Hakopian and Leonard Cohen is a screen capture from a video of Leonard Cohen singing “The Guests” that was originally broadcast on French TV on December 15, 1979 (see New Video – Leonard Cohen Sings The Guests, 1979). The image of the 1979 Brighton concert ticket was found at Ticket Collector.

  1. See The Leonard Cohen Christmas Album []
  2. Mark Rowland, Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough. Musician, July 1988. []
  3. stupid and contagious, Leonard Cohen: In My Secret Life, July 5, 2009 []
  4. I’ve tried suggesting a cover that might fit such an album. Heck, I even offered my own lyrics to “I’m Your Santa” – a “I’m Your Man” Meets “Santa, Baby” sort of hymn to the holiday – for the project. Inexplicably, Mr. Cohen passed on both of these efforts, which can be viewed at Leonard Cohen Christmas Album – Tracks 2 & 3. []
  5. Rare Live Songs []