Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Official White House Christmas Card for 2011

I've been writing about the official White House Christmas card here at History Is Elementary and American Presidents Blog since 2006.  I love to look back at past administrations to see what design was chosen.

Unfortunately, over the last few years the card seems to cause some type of controversy...either it causes the politically correct leaning folks to be appalled because a Bible verse is on a card that happens to be recognizing a holiday  which happens to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ OR the card happens to be too secular for the taste of Christians who get their feathers ruffled because there aren't enough details on the card to determine it is in fact a Christmas card.

Well, this year is no different.

Head on over to American Presidents Blog for the whole story and to get a glimpse of this year's official card.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Bo Type of Christmas

The White House theme this year for Christmas decorations is “Simple Gifts”….emphasizing what Mrs. Obama says are the simple things at Christmas time, such as music, children, friends, and family, and gifts made from nature.

However, the Obama’s dog, Bo, has his stamp all over Christmas at the White House this year. A larger-than-life version of the Obama family pet, made of 40,000 twisted black and white pipe cleaners, is one of the first things tourists and other guests will see when they stroll through the White House all decked out for the holidays.

Bo also features prominently in a 350-pound, white chocolate-covered gingerbread White House. A tiny version of the family dog made from almond paste sits on the edible grounds near of replica of Mrs. Obama’s fruit and vegetable garden.

Bo’s signature….of sorts….is even found on the official White House Christmas card seen below:

Notice everyone in the Obama family signed the card including Bo. His little paw print is seen along with everyone else’s.

The cover of the card features a picture of the White House taken by Pete Souza following a snow storm on February 3, 2010.

Past articles of mine regarding the White House Christmas greetings can be found here, here, here, and here, and I’m still looking for that original Wyeth painting that was used for the Nixon Christmas card from 1971.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Honey of A Christmas

I love the premise behind the National Treasure movies where members of the Gates family feel compelled to solve a series of historical clues in order to find a treasure that will ultimately save the family reputation. Unfortunately, there are always a few bad men along the way and some of the clues and found artifacts end up painting the Gates family in a bad light. It must be difficult to have your family ridiculed and doubted because historians don’t believe your ancestor’s role in the American story. Luckily for the fictional Benjamin Gates he finds all the pieces of the historical puzzle and in the end he finds the treasure, saves a few lives, and even gets the girl.

Not so for the real-life family of John Honeyman, a spy for Washington and little known hero of the Battle of Trenton during Christmas, 1776. I’m not surprised if you have never heard of John Honeyman because most contemporary historians have relegated his story to the back burner and allowed the pot to simmer a bit because cold hard evidence is lacking.

I really can’t say I blame them because I like hard cold evidence, but the Honeyman tale, if it could be substantiated, makes for great history!

John Honeyman first came to the British colonies as a soldier for Great Britain in 1758 to fight in the French and Indian War. Having shared this war many times with my young students it’s very easy to allow them to be lulled into thinking the French and Indian War was fought only by colonists. They need to remember the war in the colonies were merely an offshoot of the Seven Years War in Europe. Honeyman is a great example to use with students to exhibit the French and Indian War was not only fought by colonist but British soldiers were sent to the colonies to assist them as well. Like many soldiers though at the time, Honeyman wasn’t exactly thrilled about having to fight. It’s also a great time to emphasize that men like George Washington also fought for the British during the conflict. Many British soldiers like Honeyman decided to stay in the colonies.

While serving in the British army Honeyman was noticed by Colonel James Wolfe and eventually served as his bodyguard. When Honeyman left the army he had his discharge papers as well as a letter from Wolfe confirming his position as bodyguard.

Fastforward a bit to 1776 and at some point so the story goes Honeyman meets up with General George Washington and the British paperwork Honeyman possesses is mentioned. Washington realizes the paperwork will be helpful to allow Honeyman access to British camps and Honeyman is asked to pose as a Tory to gather intelligence for the Patriots.

The first instance regarding John Honeyman’s involvement in the Battle of Trenton was published in 1873 in an article titled 'An Unwritten Account of a Spy of Washington' in Our Home magazine. The story was written by Judge John van Dyke, a grandson of John Honeyman, using oral accounts told to him by his Aunt Jane, the daughter of John Honeyman.

The article states Honeyman did pose as a Tory in Griggstown and Trenton and apparently he was so believable in the role, he made many Patriot neighbors mad at him to the point they would attack his house. The only thing that saved the family was the fact John Honeyman had a letter of protection from General George Washington. The letter identified Honeyman as a Tory, but also requested safety for the family. The British trusted Honeyman so much that he was given the freedom to walk about the British garrison at Trenton.

The story continues that just prior to the Battle of Trenton Honeyman was captured by the Patriots…..part of his plan….and he gave up his information he had gathered to Washington and his men. When a fire broke out close to where he was being held Honeyman escaped and made his way back to Trenton where he advised Colonel Johann Rall the Patriots wouldn’t attack even if they wanted to. They were demoralized and did not have the necessary equipment for an attack.

Honeyman knew better……his information was part of a great ruse since Washington was planning to attack during the Christmas holiday.

It was easy for George Washington to make the decision to attack on Christmas. While some Americans did celebrate the holiday by December, 1776, it was overlooked by many Patriots as they considered it a celebration for the British. While Christmas held more significance in 1776 than it did during the mid to late 1600s it wasn’t held in such high regard as it is today. Washington knew the British would celebrate, but knew the Hessians camped at Trenton would celebrate heartily with food, drink, and games as was the German custom. It would be the perfect time for a Patriot attack.

Washington planned Christmas surprise included taking 2400 men across the Delaware River in order to attack the Hessians camped at Trenton. One thousand enemy soldiers were taken prisoner within an hour, and the much needed victory spurred the Patriots on.

So, did John Honeyman really serve as Washington’s spy? There is no hard evidence even though many historians in the past have referred to him. Everything boils down to family lore and the Honeyman family have never produced the letter from George Washington giving the family protection. However, many in support of the story argue that Honeyman never left the colonies for Nova Scotia as most Tories did, and he was able to purchase three tracts of land following the American Revolution when most could not afford anything. Was this payment for his service?

This American Heritage article seems to support the Honeyman service while this article from the Central Intelligence Agency site does a fantastic job of negating the whole thing.

You can be the judge, but it is still a fascinating story either way.

I’ve written about Trenton and the crossing Washington and his men undertook before. You can find my articles here and here.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Pilgrims and Christmas

The Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock in November, 1620.

Can you imagine moving to a “New World”?

Can you imagine moving anywhere for that matter right before the rush of the Christmas season?

I can’t.

Maybe it’s just a woman thing, but I know what would have been on my mind had I been on the Mayflower. I would be thinking.......Here it is nearly the first of December, I have no home, and Christmas is just around the corner. I have shopping to do, the decorations need to be up (hope I remembered where I packed them), and then I have all the cooking to do. How am I going to fit 30 various parties, dinners, and gatherings into four weeks? When are the greeting cards going to get addressed? does one ship gifts back home from the “New World”?

By December, 1620 many of the Pilgrims were sick with scurvy and many more were suffering from wild coughing fits   They hardly felt like celebrating, but the fact of the matter is any Pilgrims well enough spent their first December 25th in the New World by sending out scouting parties, building their first structures, and all of the other necessary tasks to build “New Plymouth”

The Pilgrims didn’t ignore Christmas because they had bigger fish to fry like securing shelter and gathering food. It was much more than that.

They didn’t celebrate Christmas….

… all.

Not a Christmas carol, a Christmas tree, or a Christmas meal. Nothing. Not even Santa.

The Grinch would have loved New Plymouth.

The Pilgrims were a very no nonsense, no frills type of people. If the Bible didn’t direct it, they didn’t do it. This means they didn’t buy into any additions made to Christianity especially church traditions.

Since Christmas was not mentioned in the Bible the Pilgrims ignored the holiday. They disapproved of the way their fellow Englishmen celebrated the day with parties, feasting, drinking, and bawdy behavior in some instances.

One year after the Pilgrims arrived in the New World on December 25, 1621, Governor William Bradford discovered a few recent arrivals to New Plymouth didn’t want to work on what the Pilgrims considered just another day. He made a notation in Of Plymouth Plantation:

“On the day called Christmas Day, the Governor called [the settlers] out to work as was usual. However, the most of this new company excused themselves and said it went against their consciences to work on that day. So the Governor told them that if they made it [a] matter of conscience he would spare them till they were better informed; so he led away the rest and left them.”

When the working party returned they found the men who had a conscience decided not only to refrain from working in recognition of the day they also decided to play games and shockingly they were having ……..FUN. The governor ordered them to stop making an exhibition in the streets for all to see. The men were told if they wanted to act like that to go to the privacy of their homes.

The Puritans who differed from the Pilgrims  regarding the Anglican Church merely wanted to change certain practices of the church while the Pilgrims totally separated themselves from it, however they were on the same page regarding celebrating Christmas. They knew there was absolutely no Biblical proof regarding December as the birth month for Christ, and they knew history. They realized Christmas had roots in the pagan winter solstice festivals like the Roman Saturnalia. The argued the early Roman Catholic Church had taken a pagan holiday and merged it with Christian beliefs.

In the book The Battle for Christmas, Stephen Nissenbaum sums it up this way:

“The Puritan knew what subsequent generations would forget; that when the Church, more than a millennium earlier, had placed Christmas Day in late December, the decision was part of what amounted to a compromise, and a compromise for which the church paid a high price. Late-December festivities were deeply rooted in popular culture, both in observance of the winter solstice and in celebration of the one brief period period of leisure and plenty in the agricultural year. In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been. From the beginning, the Church’s hold over Christmas was (and remains still) rather tenuous. There were always.people for whom Christmas was a time of pious devotion rather than carnival, but such people were always in the minority. It may not be going too far to say that Christmas has always been an extremely difficult day to Christianize. Little wonder that the Puritans were willing to save themselves the trouble.”

For sure – the Puritans didn’t trouble themselves. They just outlawed the holiday.

In fact, by Christmas, 1659 the Five-Shilling Anti-Christmas Law was enacted by the General Court of Massachusetts. The law stated:

Whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas, or the like, either by forebearing labor, feasting, or any other way upon such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for each offense five shillings as a fine to the country.

Boston actually outlawed the celebration of Christmas from 1659 to 1681.

Even after the law was set aside in 1681, New Englanders were slow to accept Christmas. The customs of gift giving and parties and even decorations were considered to be pagan customs. My research indicates even as late as 1870 Boston schools held classes on Christmas Day.

It’s interesting to note that today we still have the Christmas tug-of-war. The church is still fighing the masses over the Christmas issue. Christians fuss and fume because it seems everyone celebrates the holiday even if they don’t actually believe in the reason for the season. Folks are in it for the parties, the drinking, the gifts, the decorations, the food, the general falderal whether they believe in the divinity of Christ or not.

Heck, even Christians enjoy the falderal. I do.

I’m just glad I can celebrate how I wish, believe what I want to, and I don’t have to pay fine while doing it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Christmas Mystery at the White House

As my regular readers know I contribute articles to American Presidents Blog and for that reason I became interested in researching and writing about the yearly White House Christmas card that have been sent out by each president since the 1950s when it became an official practice of each administration.

So, last month I once again began my search for the first card of the Obama administration. It’s been difficult to say the least, and I’ve found a little art mystery as well that has really challenged my research abilities.

First off….even several days into December the only image I could find was the a picture of the inside of the card showing the sentiment and signatures. I’ve posted it below.

Of course, I’m a traditional kind of girl, so in keeping with tradition here at History Is Elementary you will have to follow me over to American Presidents to discover more about this past season’s card and the art mystery I discovered within the White House walls.

It truly astounds me that a painting has been so grossly misidentified.

Past articles of mine regarding the White House Christmas greetings can be found here, here, here, and I’m still looking for that original Wyeth painting that was used for the Nixon Christmas card from 1971. It’s also a mystery…..

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In the Pink.....

When I was high school there was this girl a couple of years older than me who wore pink every chance she got. We were required to wear school uniforms, but had the choice of adding jewelry and scarves in order to feed the need to be unique and different.

I threw my identity out for others to see by using an antique men’s collar bar to pin various handkerchiefs to the lapel of my “required” navy blazer. I alternated between a handkerchief my mother had brought back from a trip to the Caribbean and one that belonged to my great grandmother I had found languishing in a drawer at my grandfather’s.

But this acquaintance of mine absolutely adored pink…..she accessorized with all things pink that she could get away with and constantly announced to anyone, much like Shelby Eatenton in the movie Steel Magnolias, that “pink was her signature color.”

Unfortunately my friend and even the character of Shelby Eatenton can’t exactly corner the market on credit regarding the signature pink line because a former First Lady has that honor.

Mamie Eisenhower.

Find out more about Mamie’s signature color and her impact on Christmas at the White House in my post at American Presidents Blog

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting...

Well, I’m waiting….I know they have been placed in the mail but haven’t seen an image of this year’s White House Christmas card…..yet. I know I won’t be getting one from the Obamas, but many people will be finding a card from the White House in their mailbox this week.

For the last three years I’ve mentioned the card here at History is Elementary and published an image at American Presidents.

While we are waiting for this year’s card to arrive here are some links to past postings regarding the White House Christmas card:

2008….here and here

2007…here and here

2006…here and here

I hope to be able to post the image of the 2009 card in the next few days.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, 2008!

From my home to yours....Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

White House Christmas Card, 2008

This year’s White House Christmas card has been sent. This is an image of the inside of the card which includes Scripture from Matthew 5:16….Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify you father which is in heaven.

If you want to see the beautiful cover image on the card you’ll have to check out my post over at American Presidents Blog….found here. I have some other links there to my past postings regarding the White House Christmas card.

Many thanks go to Michael Swartz of Monoblogue for alerting me that the greeting for this year had been sent. The image seen here is used with Michael’s permission.

Today is Wordless Wednesday. You can find other participating bloggers here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

13 Ways to Say Merry Christmas!

As units wind down to a close and final exams are taken for the nine weeks it becomes necessary to fill the time remaining---usually a day or two---with activities that matter. Children are focused on the vacation looming ahead of them and beginning brand new material is just a waste of time. I like to use the few extra class periods before the holidays practicing skills.

One activity has to do with languages across the world and a web search where students attempt to find how many different ways the words Merry Christmas can be said. Other celebrations during this time of the year can also be included such as Hannukah.

We end up making a huge collage of the different greetings and individual students map their county in two ways---individually and in relation to the rest of the world. A few facts are gathered as well regarding holiday traditions and presented to the class.

A twist on this activity involves a review of crucial material students will need to remember during Spring testing. Nowadays there are many sites that also provide ‘Merry Christmas’ translations in various Native American languages. It’s a great way to review the Native American regions we studied back in August and September.

1. Chinese (Cantonese): Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun

2. Brazil: Feliz Natal

3. Arabic: Milad Majid

4. Croation: Sretan Bozic

5. Egyptian: Colo sana wimtom tiebeen

6. French: Joyeux Noel

7. Icelandic: Gledileg Jol

8. Greek: Kala Christouyenna

9. Japanese: Shinnen omedeto Kurisumasu Omedeto

10. Lithuanian: Linksmu Kaledu

11. Papua New Guinea: Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia I go long yu

12. Turkish: Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun

13. Vietnamese: Chuc Mung Giang Sinh

See other 13s here

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Story Where I Prove Santa Exists or Why the Red Ranger is My Official Christmas Hero

I would say that after fifteen hundred plus days confined in small places with fourth and fifth graders I could be considered somewhat an expert regarding the mental and physical development process of eight, nine, and ten year old children. The boys and girls who pass through my classroom each year are a rare breed and care must be taken to ride the fine line between planning activities that ooze all the wonder of childhood and those that acknowledge the pre-teen angst that is always hovering in the back of my room like the smell of dirty gym socks or a few forgotten and half empty milk cartons shoved to the back of an extra desk.

Students love to color, but would absolutely die if I tried to hang their color sheets in the hallway for others to see. They love to write letters to Santa but would never want anyone to know they chose that particular writing choice and would lie to their dying day they wrote about their favorite present of all time instead. To put it simply gather up a group of fourth or fifth graders and you won’t be able to find a single child in the group who will admit to believing in Santa.

I still believe in Santa Claus. Yes, I know you probably think I’m silly, but I still remember that magic feeling in the the pit of my stomach that began right after Thanksgiving and became a little stronger each day until Christmas Eve. I still remember the joy of delightful anticipation as I would wiggle myself up underneath the Christmas tree so I could see the twinkle of the lights straight up through all of the prickly needles and the intrigue of each package and what it might contain. I still remember the excitement of standing in line at Rich’s Department Store at Greenbrier Mall in order to receive my 30 precious seconds with Santa to tell him what I specifically wanted. It did not matter that the man in the white beard was only a helper. He was my direct line to the Big Guy.

Christmas Eve morning I would begin mentally checking off each little family event that would get us closer and closer to Christmas morning when I could finally open the mountain of presents Mom and Dad would have under the tree and the joy of discovering what Santa had brought. First, I had to trudge along with mom to the Kroger at Jamestown Shopping Center for last minute things we would need. Then our last few Christmas cards that had turned into New Years greetings had to be mailed at the Red Oak post office. The rest of the afternoon while Mother hummed along to the oven timer I would try to make the time pass faster by keeping myself busy building a dining room table fort with a blanket or watching one of the three or four television channels we had back in the olden days. Finally, my grandfather would arrive with some sort of diversionary toy that was almost always the metal wind-up kind like the hopping monkey seen here with cymbals (kind of scary, huh?). Dad would come home from work and Christmas Eve dinner would be served. It would seem like the adults would talk forever and ever, and ever before they would venture into the living room and we could open a few…..a few of the presents under the tree.

Mother always picked which presents we would open and invariably we would open new matching nightgowns and oh-the-horror- new underwear which Dear Sister and I would promptly place on our heads for the annual underwear-on-the-head picture (Dear Sister and I have now severely injured the psyches of our children with this custom as well). Over the years there were games, clothes, jewelry, Lite Brites, and various things for me to play school with such as a bona fide black board. One year Santa brought my sister and I a racetrack, another year a prize-winning pony walked up our front steps and greeted me by clop-clopping all over our very large front porch, and another year I received my 10-speed bike I eventually used to ride by some old boy who would eventually become my wonderful husband. I must have logged a thousand miles or more on that bike when I was trying to get him to notice me.

I have never taught a child who didn’t celebrate Christmas in some way, so I always share my happy magical moments of Christmas history with my wee ones in hopes to get them to connect with their own customs and memories since memories become our history only to be shouted down each year that there is no magic and Santa simply does not exist.

The more I profess to believe…the more I get shouted down.

“Santa’s a myth, Mrs. Elementaryhistoryteacher.”

“Gee, Mrs. Elementaryhistoryteacher… should know this by now. Your parents buy Christmas for you.”

“Santa is for babies!”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Elementaryhistoryteacher, but I’m too old to believe in something like Santa.”

No, No, No I would counter. You have to believe. Santa can’t come if you don’t believe. It really pained my heart to see my students so jaded at such a young age regarding my friend Santa Claus, but no matter how much I tried to encourage belief they just wouldn’t believe.

So, I was very happy some years ago when I found the wonderful book by Berkeley Breathed titled The Red Ranger Came Calling. It’s a lovely story set in the 1930s that lends itself well to a rollicking read aloud for students. The artwork is supurb. A few years ago I made color copies that I used with the overhead as I read….later I scanned them and placed them in a Powerpoint. It also is a story that the author’s father told the family each Christmas Eve so it fits even further into what I’m attempting to do with students regarding tradition and making memories.

For various reasons the little boy in the book has become disillusioned with the adults in his life and feels the pains for a toy he knows the adults around him cannot afford in the Depression Era… official Buck Tweed (a cinema hero of the era who also was known as the Red Ranger of Mars) two-speed crime-stopper star-hopper bicycle to save 23rd century princesses from space nazis and princess nabbers.

After hearing a rumor that Santa…..yes, the real Santa has retired nearby he seeks him out. The Red Ranger challenges Santa and basically says put up or shut up. Bring me what I want and prove you’re Santa. The Red Ranger demands the same present he knows that is out of the reach of the adults in his life….the special bicycle.

During the Red Ranger’s explanation regarding what he wants there is a huge miscommunication between Santa Claus and the the Red Ranger and students discover the old man really was Santa at the same moment the Red Ranger does. You see Santa does deliver the bike. It’s just that he misheard and thought the Red Ranger wanted a treed bicycle instead of a tweed bike. The delivered regular run-of-the-mill bike has been left in a tree instead of the usual spot by the tree.

One of the best moments of my Christmas each year has been turning to the final page and showing students the picture seen below with the words “If you don’t believe me it’s still there.” As you can see from the image below there is indeed a treed bicycle. When children still doubt me I ask them to head over to the computer and search for the setting of the story which is Point Robinson on Vashon Island. My doubters do this and are again astounded when they locate the very picture in the book and verification that there is indeed a treed bicycle located there.
Mouths drop open and several conversations start at once. Suddenly my students who think they are too old to believe in Santa rethink their priorities and for a minute….just a minute….we are all children again wallowing in the wonderment of Santa Claus and we all agree……it’s not such a bad place to be.

The official Berkeley Breathed website is here

The Amazon page for The Red Ranger Came Calling has additional information and reviews.

A webpage for the lighthouse at Point Robinson is here and mentions the tree

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yippee! The White House Christmas Card Has Arrived

Right after Thanksgiving I began searching for something…..anything regarding the 2007 White House Christmas Card.

I had so much fun last year researching the article I wrote and published here and at American Presidents titled Have You Received Your Christmas Card From the White House Yet?, and I wanted to make sure I posted this year’s design as soon as it was made available.

After an exhaustive search I finally found an image. I’ve posted the inside of the card here.

Wouldn’t you like to know what the front looks like? Well, then head on over to the American Presidents Blog, of course.

A huge thank you goes to Michael Swartz at monoblogue. He actually had the honor of receiving the card you see in the image above. He receives my undying gratitude for giving me his permission to post the pictures here in what seems to be the second time the official White House Christmas Card for 2007 card has had a mention along with an image on the Internet to date.

Hmmm…..I wonder if I have a scoop….

13 Things About A Very Historical Reindeer

Every year I sit through Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at least twice. I believe I actually enjoy watching it more as an adult than I ever did as a child mainly because I get more chances to see it than just the one time. This year Dear Hubby and I watch it all alone as our children think they are "too old" (22 and amost 15).

Here are 13 lines from the show followed by a few “did ya knows”:

1. Upon learning that the Island of Misfit Toys is only for toys Yukon Cornelius says to Hermey and Rudolph, “How do you like that? Even among misfits your’re misfits.”

2. King Moonraiser says, “A toy is never truly happy until it is loved by a child.” That's one reason why I never wanted to give my toys away.....I was afraid they would think I didn't love them.

3. Mrs. Donner after seeing Rudolph’s glowing nose for the first time, “We’ll simply have to overlook it. Donner responds, “How can you overlook that? His beak blinks like a blinking beacon.”

4. Santa says, “Great bouncing icebergs!”

5. Yukon Cornelius to Rudolph: Douse your nose and run like crazy!

6. Santa says, “How can I eat? That silly elf song is driving me crazy!” I always thought it was neat that something bothered Santa.

7. After returning from what looks to be a fatal fall from a cliff Yukon Cornelius states, “Did I ever tell you about bumbles? Bumbles bounce! The scene where he falls of the cliff was really traumatic for me as a child...I always forgot that he came walking back at the end.

8. Sam the Snowman says, “Meanwhile, the elves are bustling with activity. Christmas is over, but they still keep busy with lessons in elf improvement.” Gee, even elves have staff development.

9. The Head Elf to Hermey: “Now listen, you, you’re an elf and elves make toys. Now get to work.”

10. Sam, the Snowman says, “Like I said, the outside world is up to its ears in danger.”

11. Coach Comet tells all of the other reindeer, “From now on, gang, we won’t let Rudolph join in any reindeer games.”

12. Speaking to his dogs Yukon Cornelius says, “Whoa, Whoa. Unmush, will ya?”

13. ….and my personal favorite….Hermey says, “Well, someday I’d like to be a dentist!”

Did ya’ know…..
*Hermey is the only elf without pointed ears?
*When Santa’s sleigh finally takes off into the storm near the end of the film, it’s being pulled by SIX reindeer instead of eight, with Rudolph leading the way. Dear Hubby pointed this out to me the other night.
*Most of the singing and speaking cast were Canadian.
*Yukon Cornelius’ stalwart sled dogs include a beagle, a Scottie, a cocker spaniel, a poodle, and a chihuahua!
*After an outcry of protest insisting on a happy ending for the Misfit Toys, new scenes were animated depicting Santa’s sleigh rescuing them and finding homes for them all.
*When Yukon Cornelius throws his pic axe into the ground and takes it out and licks it, he’s checking neither for gold nor silver. The original concept for the special stated that Yukon was in fact searching for the elusive peppermint mine, which he found eventually.

Enjoy other Thursday Thirteens here

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Today's Topics: Blisters and Christmas Trees

The other day while I was waiting for students to complete an assignment I noticed one particular little girl had removed her shoes.

I made a big circle around the rows of desks and as I passed the little girl I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Can you put your shoes back on for me, please?”

She looked up and said, “Oh, Mrs. Elementaryhistoryteacher… feet hurt so bad. I’m wearing new shoes and they’ve rubbed a blister on both my heels.”

“Ouch!,” I said as I noticed the red puffy blister on each heel. I directed her to follow me to my desk where I gave her a Q-tip with Neosporin and two Band-Aids specifically for blisters. I mimicked with my own feet what she should do and sent her off to her desk again.

Once the class had finished we still had a few minutes remaining. Not wanting to waste a minute I first asked the little girl if she had done what I had asked and then told her she should find it easier to get her shoes back on. Then I asked the class if they would like to hear a little story that involved a blister and the National Christmas tree.

Of course everyone said they would……
You can read the rest of the story over at the American Presidents Blog.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

See....knowing latitude and longitude is something you might need later!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Thursday 13-Version 6: Things I'd Like Santa to Deliver

1. A place for everything and everything in its place and that everything that needed doing was DONE

2. More room in my classroom

3. More room in my house

4. More room in my chair when I sit in it

5. A sweet Bulldog puppy that my lazy Hemingway cat would NOT eat

6. Several books on various political and historical topics

7. Extra time to read the books on various political and historical topics

8. A full time cook and laundress for my long suffering family

9. An assistant to do my clerical work in the classroom

10. A three-stone diamond ring from Dear Hubby

11. A book deal….it doesn’t matter what kind of book…any deal will do

12. A brand new Jaguar----Champagne colored

13. One more lucid conversation with my mother

Monday, December 18, 2006

Have You Received Your Christmas Card From the White House?

This is an image from the official White House Christmas greeting sent by President Johnson and Lady Bird in 1967.
Apparently there are a few people upset about this year's official greeting.
Click on over to my newest posting at American Presidents to learn more about this White House tradition.

Is Isn't Really Christmas Until....

This particular commercial always signaled to me that Christmas had arrived. For someone from the deep South I was intrigued with racing down snow coverered hills. Santa looked like he was having fun. When I was little I would have dearly loved to climb aboard that Norelco shaver and race down the hills.

This particular clip isn't exactly the way I remember it. Am I wrong or did the original version have longer clips of Santa whisking down and around the hills?

I wish Norelco would revive and update this ad campaign for the holidays. Oh well, I guess it isn't racy enough or perhaps they are afraid of alienating those that don't believe in Santa!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Good and Bad...A Week Before Christmas Break

The Bad…..they’re dropping like flies. Some sort of stomach ailment is traveling around giving bad tummies, fevers, and headaches. I wrote so many passes to the office this morning I was afraid somebody would think I was trying to empty my room. I’ve been on the fringes of the travelin’ crud myself, but since it’s a near impossibility to secure a sub I’m trudging on……

The Good…presents! So far I’ve amassed lots of sweet homemade cards, hugs, a mini-snowglobe and bear figurine from the dollar store, raspberry vanilla and cherry blossom products from Bath and Body Works, a bag of fruit, and a nice watch. One gift was particularly unusual…..I received a battery operated pencil sharpener in the shape of a monster. You put your pencil in his mouth to sharpen it. When you’re done he burps. The young man that gave it to me said, “I gave it to you because you have a good sense of humor.” Another student spoke up and said, “Yeah, you’d get it….you’d think it was funny.” I did get it. I did think it was funny. What my gift giver didn’t realize is the best gift he gave me was telling me he thinks I have a good sense of humor. My students understand me. After the thirtieth burp, however, I don’t know if my sense of humor will still be intact.

The Bad…tempers are short. Kids who have tolerated each other suddenly have had enough and are telling each other off right and left. This leads to shoving desks, shoving chairs and shoving each other. Name calling is high on the activity list, and being in a state of constant alert for everyone’s safety is a little exhausting.

The Good…I have earned a new reputation among students, especially the boys, as a tolerable linebacker. Earlier this week one of my young men became a bit too aggressive during a friendly game of football. He didn’t like the way a play had gone and pushed another boy rather hard two or three times. I began walking towards them telling the first boy to stop several times. The boy being pushed puts his hands up and backed away, but the pusher kept after him. I basically ended up tackling the pusher from behind and held him in a restraint hold to get him to calm down. Once things calmed down one of the boys hollered, “Nice tackle, Elementaryhistoryteacher! Ya wanna play?” The news must have gotten around because several students in other grades mentioned hearing about my “tackle”. I won’t hold my breath….I don’t think the Atlanta Falcons will be calling anytime soon.

The Bad…coordinating a pizza order for 100 students for our non-party, movie watching event on Friday, sweating out the delivery of our presents we ordered for students on-line, end of term paperwork, grading, coordinating exams when students are absent from school more than they are in, and adding the extra load of completing 96 certificates for students throughout the entire school who had exemplary behavior during September, October, and November. These were awarded at our PTSO meeting Tuesday night. They took me three days to complete. How do I get roped into these things?

The Good…Our reading teachers have determined our fourth grade has risen an entire level in reading scores since the beginning of the year. Approximately 90 of 100 fourth graders have 10 Accelerated Reader points or more. This is fantastic since none of our students had 10 points during the first term…..our reading teachers pushed the program, motivated the kids, and they surpassed our wildest dreams. In 9 weeks many of my homeroom students have amassed 20, 30, and even 40 points. Most important of all we have noticed that fluency is increasing and comprehension is improving. What a Christmas present!

The two highest students are in my homeroom. One has 69 points while the other has 70. These points for students represent many minutes of independent reading. Today we recognized the top three in each homeroom with pizza. It was nice to have this small group for a special lunch in one the classrooms with us to acknowledge their hard work. Here is a couple of pictures of our top students.


The young man on the left is my "pencil sharpener guy".


S0….it’s finally here. The final day before break, and I haven’t even started my shopping yet.

The Carnival of Education---Edition 97 is up over at the Education Wonks. Go see the best and brightest in the edublogosphere!