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Looking at the pictures of the reindeer planters at ASDA reminded me of this poem about reindeer for today’s Advent treat. Enjoy…

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A Reindeer for Christmas

Dear Santa, this Christmas my list is quite small.
In fact, I need practically nothing at all.
My list is so short and so easy to read
because there’s just one thing I actually need.

A reindeer for Christmas is all I require;
 A reindeer, of course, who’s an excellent flier.
I really don’t care if it’s Dasher or Dancer.
I’m okay with Cupid or Comet or Prancer.

Please don’t think I’m greedy; I only want one.
You won’t even miss him, and I’ll have such fun.
I promise I’ll feed him and treat him just right,
and take him out flying around every night.

You see, I’m not selfish. So, for my surprise
This Christmas, please bring me a reindeer that flies.
But if my request is a bit much for you,
I guess that an iPod will just have to do.

Kenn Nesbitt

My little part time job at ASDA, which I quite enjoy, nice people and the work is so much more different from ‘real’ work, keeps me really busy at this time of year. I always look after the flowers and plants at the weekend and at this time of year they arrive in the store by the thousand. ASDA do some good Christmas plants and bouquets that I like a lot better than other stores’ offerings. I like to keep the plants all well watered and in tip top condition so that they will all find good homes for Christmas. Especially the reindeer. I’d hate any of them to end up in the crusher before New Year. and I’m banned from bringing any home after the dog planter debacle…

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When I was a very little guy I wanted to be a king in my primary school’s Nativity play. I really coveted that silky cloak made from an old curtain and that golden cardboard crown. I wanted to carry on that sprayed gold bath salts jar. I sat up really straight (I was 6) hoping the teacher choosing would notice me. But she didn’t and the jobs went to three other boys. I didn’t even get a consolation role as a shepherd dressed in an old dressing gown with a tea towel on my head. Eventually I was put in the choir where they put all the kids they couldn’t do anything else with. And, as singing wasn’t my forte, I was eventually banished from that and watched the entire thing from the side lines. I am still traumatised and that teacher is still on my list of people I want to see dead! If someone offered I’d still wear that old curtain and cardboard crown even now.

Here’s a poem about the three kings/wise men visiting the baby Jesus by American poet Longfellow.

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Three Kings

Three Kings came riding from far away,
Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;
Three Wise Men out of the East were they,
And they travelled by night and they slept by day,
For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.

The star was so beautiful, large, and clear,
That all the other stars of the sky
Became a white mist in the atmosphere,
And by this they knew that the coming was near
Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.

Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows,
Three caskets of gold with golden keys;
Their robes were of crimson silk with rows
Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,
Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.

And so the Three Kings rode into the West,
Through the dusk of night, over hill and dell,
And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast
And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest,
With the people they met at some wayside well.

“Of the child that is born,” said Baltasar,
“Good people, I pray you, tell us the news;
For we in the East have seen his star,
And have ridden fast, and have ridden far,
To find and worship the King of the Jews.”

And the people answered, “You ask in vain;
We know of no king but Herod the Great!”
They thought the Wise Men were men insane,
As they spurred their horses across the plain,
Like riders in haste, and who cannot wait.

And when they came to Jerusalem,
Herod the Great, who had heard this thing,
Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them;
And said, “Go down unto Bethlehem,
And bring me tidings of this new king.”

So they rode away; and the star stood still,
The only one in the grey of morn
Yes, it stopped, it stood still of its own free will,
Right over Bethlehem on the hill,
The city of David where Christ was born.

And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard,
Through the silent street, till their horses turned
And neighed as they entered the great inn-yard;
But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred,
And only a light in the stable burned.

And cradled there in the scented hay,
In the air made sweet by the breath of kine,
The little child in the manger lay,
The child, that would be king one day
Of a kingdom not human but divine.

His mother Mary of Nazareth
Sat watching beside his place of rest,
Watching the even flow of his breath,
For the joy of life and the terror of death
Were mingled together in her breast.

They laid their offerings at his feet:
The gold was their tribute to a King,
The frankincense, with its odour sweet,
Was for the Priest, the Paraclete,
The myrrh for the body’s burying.

And the mother wondered and bowed her head,
And sat as still as a statue of stone;
Her heart was troubled yet comforted,
Remembering what the Angel had said
Of an endless reign and of David’s throne.

Then the Kings rode out of the city gate,
With a clatter of hoofs in proud array;
But they went not back to Herod the Great,
For they knew his malice and feared his hate,
And returned to their homes by another way.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Radio Times is the BBC’s TV and Radio programmes listing magazines. We are a country that likes tradition. The magazine first saw the light of day in 1923 and is within sight of celebrating its 100th birthday. When it was first published it carried the details of the radio programmes of the day, hence its name. The BBC started a TV service in 1936, making it the oldest in the world. You were only able to see it in London and then Hitler and WW2 put an end to that. TV returned in the 1950s and we haven’t looked back since. We went from one channel to two, then three and slowly crept up to four. I haven’t counted how many channels we have on our TV now but it’s a lot. As I said, we are a traditional country and like things to stay the way there are, so the BBC saw no reason to change the name of its listing magazine to take into account that it carried TV programmes.

Of course, there are all kinds of ways to find out what is on TV but at Christmas you HAVE to have the bumper, double issue of the Radio Times. Pour a glass of wine, eat a couple of mince pies and plan what you are going to watch (or at least record) over the festive season.

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I love all the smells of Christmas. The smell of food cooking, the pine of the tree, mulled wine, cinnamon and apple, frankincense and myrrh…. This poem talks about them.

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Smells of Christmas

I love the smell of Christmas,
Along with all the lights.
Log fires in the fire place,
On those cold winter nights.

The smell of Christmas goodies,
That are baked with tender care.
The smell is just the greatest,
there’s nothing to compare.

The evergreen’s so fragrant,
The smell of Christmas season.
Like the hanging of mistletoe,
That’s done for a good reason.

The red berries of the holly,
In that arrangement on the table.
Which I’m sure is much better ,
Than Christmas in that stable.

Poinsettia’s all around,
To balance off the garland.
Music boxes everyplace,
Bought by my sweet darlin’.

Cinnamon and Peppermint,
Fills the air that’s in our house.
And what is stirring in the night,
Is not the Christmas mouse.

Those pies that make me drool,
Just sitting there on that shelf.
Is as if they were made special,
For that jolly old Christmas elf.

Bernard Howe

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Dogs enjoy Christmas as well it seems. Yesterday I went to Betty & Butch, Chorlton’s dog life style store. It was having an event to raise some money for the a charity in the Sale area of the city that looks after abandoned animals. Dogs brought their people to the store so that the dogs could meet with Santa Paws, have a few moments with the great man and pass over their Christmas wish list. They came away with a pre-Christmas present and the money they paid for the privilege was given to the charity. I know they did it last weekend but I’m not sure if its happening next weekend as well. If you want your dog to meet Santa Paws, it will be best to check their website before you go. It was very busy on Saturday with a lot of excited, very well behaved dogs waiting their turn to meet Santa Paws.

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The Launderette is a restaurant on Beech Road in Chorlton. It used to be just that, a place where people could take their laundry to be washed in a machine they could hire for a time. Hard to believe that people who lived around, now, affluent Beech Road, wouldn’t have had their own utility room to do their washing. But Beech Road hasn’t always been as wealthy as it is now and, in the past, even the rich didn’t do their washing at home. Effective machines hadn’t become widely available and the rich would send their washing to a laundry. In Manchester, it was done by Chinese immigrants in the basements of buildings in what is now China Town. Once washing machines became more widespread in the 1950s, the China Town laundries closed and were converted into the restaurants we enjoy. A fate that has overtaken the one on Beech Road as well. Where people used to do their washing, the trendy, Chorlton hipsters now enjoy some fine dining.

I saw this ‘A’ board outside. I couldn’t agree more….

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A new take on an old poem today with a puppy’s Christmas….

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The Twelve Days of (a Puppy’s) Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
The Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the second day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the third day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Eight tiny reindeer fragments
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.
On the ninth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
My wreath in nine pieces
Eight tiny reindeer fragments
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Ten Christmas cards I shoulda mailed
My wreath in nine pieces
Eight tiny reindeer fragments
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Eleven unwrapped presents
Ten Christmas cards I shoulda mailed
My wreath in nine pieces
Eight tiny reindeer fragments
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
A dozen puppy kisses And I forgot all about the other eleven days.

It’s been a busy day today. Started with a session at ASDA sorting out the plants and flowers for Christmas. It’s a big job at this time of year but I like to keep them in good order so that they all get taken home by someone for Christmas. There’s nothing sadder than a Christmas plant or bouquet on Boxing Day with little chance of getting bought. Then there was some tutoring. Then I headed into Chorlton to do some Christmas shopping. It’s the 13th and I have only one gift to buy! And I know where it is. It was just that I had no intention of joining the 350,000 people who are expected at the Christmas Markets this weekend to get it! I’ll pick it up on Tuesday evening when we head into the city to see ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at the Royal Exchange Theatre. I’m looking forward to it, the reviews have been good in the papers and TWITTER is full of ecstatic tweets about it from ordinary people.

The poem today is about Santa Claus. It’s one of anonymous’s again. The little video has been put together by the UK Air Traffic Control. It was their computer that had the glitch (was someone playing Candy Crush?) yesterday that closed the airports around London and caused chaos across Europe and beyond. Every Christmas Eve they have to look after a very special flight through British air space and this is how they handle it. Listen to the controllers as they guide Santa through the skies above the UK.

When Santa Claus Comes

A good time is coming, I wish it were here,
The very best time in the whole of the year;
I’m counting each day on my fingers and thumbs,
  The weeks that must pass before Santa Claus comes.

Then when the first snowflakes begin to come down,
And the wind whistles sharp and the branches turn brown,
I’ll not mind the cold, though my fingers it numbs,
For it brings the time nearer when Santa Claus comes.

Anonymous

Anonymous has been at it again. Just a simple poem today about a snowball. I got quite excited this morning when the rain turned, briefly, into snow! It lasted all of 20 seconds…

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Snowball

Someone in the sky last night,
Had an awful snowball fight.
And when I woke today I found,
All the snowflakes on the ground.

I made myself a snowball,
As perfect as could be.
I thought I’d keep it as a pet,
And let it sleep with me.

I made it some pyjamas.
And a pillow for it’s head,
Then last night it ran away,
But first…..
It wet my bed.

Anonymous