He Better Behave Himself This Year

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Any subject goes when you go in for a haircut, but it’s the time of year when the holiday stories come out.

This past week, I went to see my personal hair designer/stylist whatever you call them, Sherri Bell, and we started talking about kids and keeping their belief in Santa Claus. I think we all do things to sell it–plate of cookies by the fireplace, a glass of milk, maybe a carrot for Rudolph–all looking like they had been tampered with by our jolly visitor when you wake up on Christmas Day.

Sherri admits she probably over-sold the concept to her kids. She did all of the above, but one year, when their faith started to fade, she added muddy boot prints on the hearth and knocked over one of her living room lamps.

As the kids came in, she said in a stern voice, “OK, that’s it. If Santa comes in one more time and wrecks my house, we’re canceling Christmas!” to which the kids replied, “No!!!!!!!”

That’s why you should always believe in Santa. Otherwise, if Sherri finds out, God knows what she’ll do to your house to get you back with the rest of us.

Merry Christmas.

Tim Hunter

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“I didn’t do it! I was framed!”

A Visit From #1

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For as long as I can remember, watching “A Christmas Carol” has become a mandatory experience every December.

Last night, we watched the George C. Scott version. Christmas cannot arrive without experience my favorite version with Alistair Sim. The Jim Carrey animated one was better than I thought it would be.  There’s also the original 1938 rendition with Reginald Owen. Patrick Stewart, there’s a Mickey Mouse version, even “Scrooged” with Bill Murray dances around the plotline: a jaded person is changed by being visited by three spirits. (four, if you don’t include the messenger, Jacob Marley)

Spirit #2 was sent to make Scrooge more aware of the world around him in the present day. Spirit #3 had the job of showing him what would happen if he didn’t change his ways. The best job of the trio–Spirit #1. In the days before home movies, he showed Mr. Grumpy Pants those special moments of his life that he had pushed away.

I like to imagine the stories that Spirit #1 would show me, if he ever pays me a visit:

The year of the train set.  When my parents decided I was old enough, they went to Sears and bought a scale model train set. I don’t remember if it came on the board, but my dad took a sheet of plywood, mounted the tracks and painted grass and a lake in the middle so that I could watch it go ’round and ’round.

The year of the bike. I was old enough to ride, so the Sears replica of a Schwinn Sting Ray (can you tell, we were a Sears family) showed up one year, compliments of Santa. It’s a stretch, but I can remember using the planter out in the front of our house to gain my balance and launch off down the street.

The year of the no hockey set. I remember clearly asking Santa in my letter for a hockey set. You know, those table-top things that you played by sliding rods and twisting them. It looked so fun on TV. The kids were smiling and laughing. But Christmas morning, no hockey set. Thinking about it, that could have been one of my uber-naughty years. Never mind.

Going to church. Yeah, we spent a lot of time there. Every Sunday. Every Advent service. Christmas Eve. Christmas Day. New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day. I have to say, there’s nothing more torturous than waking up to see what Santa brought you, seeing a pile of presents under a tree and then having to wait until after church to open them. It did make the gift-giving last longer, I suppose.

The Snow Man Family. We lived in southern California. I’d bet that we spent most of our Christmas Days in 70-degree weather. But one year, my dad bought some designs (kind of like McCall’s for men) that you glued on to plywood and then mounted in your front yard.  He made a snowman, snow woman, two snow kids and a snow dog. And to make it even cooler, he bought fiberglass snow.  You’d roll it out on your lawn and it would look like snow. Well, it did the first year. You couldn’t walk on it, or it would get the snow dirty. And even then, after a couple of seasons, it looked more like old snow and we eventually tossed it out and just planted the family in our grass.

I’m excited because a couple of decades ago, I bought the same pattern, but never got around to making my own Mr. & Mrs. Snowman. In between all the madness this year, I’m attempting to bring them to life by this weekend. I’ll let you know if I succeed next week with pictures.

The Holiday Food. OK, we ate well as kids, especially in the Christmas cookie department. My mom made some incredible treats, and I’ll try to remember as many as I can:

  • Chow Mein Noodles. Sounds weird, but imagine chocolate or butterscotch-covered chow mein noodles with Spanish peanuts thrown in. Pretty tasty.
  • Coconut Balls. Chocolate-covered shredded coconut and I seem to remember an edible wax being put in the chocolate to help it firm up. No wonder I can put a wick in my mouth and it’ll burn for a week.
  • Peanut Butter Rolls. Taking a break for a moment from covering everything in chocolate, these were made with powdered sugar and mashed potatoes. Then, once you have that rolled out, you spread peanut butter on it, roll it and then slice it. The peanuts gave it protein, so it was a healthy snack.
  • Pfeffernusse. I think that’s the name. Kind of a ginger-bread cookie, apparently German-style, covered in powdered sugar. They weren’t my favorite, but I believe it was my grandmother’s recipe, so I had to honor the tradition. I should be thankful I wasn’t Norwegian. It could have been chocolate-covered lutefisk.

As for the main course in Christmas dinners, it was either a turkey or some kind of special Yugoslavian ham that dad was able to get through his work connections at United Airlines.

After growing up and having a family of my own, I did experiment one year when I was going through a serious Dickens phase, and actually prepared a Christmas goose along with oyster stuffing. It became known as the year nobody ate except me.

The Doll House.  Now, I’m one of the parents. The Great Idea Department thought it would be a wonderful surprise for our daughter, Christina, to wake up to a spectacular new doll house. I mean, on the box, it was beautiful. But to aid in the surprise, we waited until the kids went to bed before opening the box to assemble it.  That’s when we realized it was more of a model, than a toy. I’m talking individual shingles that each needed to be glued to the roof. I believe we went to bed that year around 3am.

OK, the ghosts of Christmas Present and Future got tired of waiting and left. But actually, who needs ’em?  If you live in the present, that puts Ghost #2 out of work and really, Ghost #3 is just trying to scare you from a worst-case syndrome. If you’re living in the present, as you should, you’re in control of your life and the future will happen as it should.

Thanks for letting me drag you along through these holiday home movies and may I encourage you to set up a meeting with Ghost #1. I’ve already nabbed him for another appointment next week. Grab him before he gets too busy.

Merry Christmas.

Tim Hunter

 

 

My Favorite Holiday Tradition

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Truth be told, I have so many great holiday traditions that it could become a reality show. Each week, we could have the audience vote on which one they like best and determine the ultimate Tim Hunter Holiday Tradition.

Or not. I’m flexible.

Six decades of celebrating Christmas has resulted in quite a few favorite things, if I can say that without being sued by Oprah.

JULEBORD–One of the Norwegian touches to my holiday season. It’s a big formal Christmas dinner, mid-day, held the first Friday in December at the Seattle Golf Club. For the past five years, the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce has invited me to be the emcee and do a little schtick to kick off the event. I featured the 2016 party in this week’s edition of my Wacky Week Podcast, if you’d like to experience it for yourself. Food, beer, wine and aquavit not included.

SANTA CLAUS’ ARRIVAL AT COUNTRY VILLAGE–I believe this was my 13th year as their Official Town Crier. My duties are fairly simple, but I like to think that I add some fun to an exciting night for the kids. On the first Saturday of December, I show up at the office and put on the Dickens’ style hat, cape and scarf, grab the official scroll (a rolling pin with shipping paper turned into a document) and my own personal bell.  Then, I wander this quaint little shopping village up in Bothell, hyping up the arrival of the great one himself. The crowds get bigger every year and this year, Santa arrived in a fancy, schmancy sleigh put together by the folks who do Snowflake Lane in Bellevue. The weather was perfect, the kids were pumped and a great time was had by all.  Some good friends have even turned it into a yearly event with a pre- and post-function.

FISHERMEN’S NIGHT–On the second Thursday of December, the Norwegian Commercial Club holds a fund-raiser at the Leif Erikson Lodge in Ballard. It’s an all-you-can-eat-and-drink bash, with some of the best seafood you’ll ever eat.  Upwards of 500 people pack the hall, dining on salmon, scallops, crab and more, they salute someone in the fishing industry and then everyone scatters to the area bars of Ballard.

PRODUCING A CHRISTMAS VIDEO–This started with an idea and a Flip camera years ago. I had decent success putting together a music video for the song I produced in my KLSY days, Bimbo #5.  That was filmed with a Flip. Then I got a better camera and bigger ideas. I met a young singer named Alana Baxter and wrote some songs with her in mind.  Her wandering spirit has taken her to school in Arizona and now work in Hawaii, so that made it a bit challenging to crank out a song this year.  However, we’re not through. I’ve just gotta figure out a way to get to this tradition earlier in the year and then release the song around Christmas.

In case you missed any along the way, here’s the complete collection:

2011  It’s Silent Night         2012  He Rides a Sleigh

2013  I won’t hate you very much tonight (It’s Christmas)

2015  Where are you Christmas?

Those are all great traditions and there are more. But there is one that I guess I have to put at the top of the list, if nothing else because of the great response I’ve received over the years and how great it feels to put that much Christmas cheer into someone’s hand:

HO HO BROTHER–That’s the name I gave to a Christmas CD I put together every holiday season. I was inspired by a guy named Rick Taylor, the IT guy at KLSY in my waning radio days. He created his own CD and gave it to me for a couple of years and I thought, “Why don’t I do something like that?”  He helped me with the technology and next thing you know, I was creating a collection of songs, radio bits, new comedy bits and blending them all together into a festive chunk of plastic. Back in the day, the idea of doing CD’s was cutting edge. Now they’re on their way out!  I still pass out CD’s to family and close friends but should you be interested in hearing this year’s HO HO BROTHER 16, just left click on this link and listen to it, or right click on the link and download it to your computer. Either way, enjoy!

Here’s this year’s playlist:

      1)  “The New Santa”   Fred Bugg as DT

      2)  “It’s Christmastime/Sleep Well, Little Children”  Spike Jones

      3)  “The Christmas Song” Catherine Feeny

      4)  “Last Christmas”  Jimmy Eat World

      5)  “Call to Liam”

      6)  “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”  Gaby Moreno

      7)  “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”  The Temptations

      8)  “White Christmas”  Manhattan Transfer

      9)   “Fruity Pebbles Christmas Commercial”

    10)   “Yabba-Dabba Yuletide”  The Brian Setzer Orchestra

    11)   “I Saw Three Ships”  Barenaked Ladies

    12)  “It’s Christmastime Again” Peggy Lee

    13)   “A Keith Jackson Christmas” Matt Riedy

    14)   “Christmas Blues”  Ramsey Lewis Trio

    15)   “Christmas Memories” Frank Sinatra

    16)   “Here Comes Santa Claus/Up on the Housetop Celebration”       Mariah Carey

    17)  “Barkley & Shaq Stop By”

    18)   “I’m Gonna Tell Santa Claus on You”  Faron Young

    19)   “Marshmallow World”  Brenda Lee

    20)   “Twinkle (Little Christmas Lights)” J.D. McPherson

    21)   “Burger King Christmas Commercial”

    22)   “Angels We Have Heard on High”  David Lanz

    23)  “Christmas Day”  The Beach Boys

    24)   “Merry Christmas, Baby”  Rod Stewart, CeeLo, Trombone Shorty

    25)   “Santa Claus Is Back In Town”  Straight No Chaser

    26)   “93 KQOT Happy Holidays Jingle”

     27)  “Gotta Be Good” Chris Isaak

     28)  “O Holy Night” The Carpenters

     29)  “Obama Holiday Greeting”

     30) “Deck the Halls” Elizabeth Chan

     31)  “Hallelujah” Pentatonix

It’s no secret that I’m pretty much a Christmas nut.  Sure, there are lots of imperfections in this world, but they’ll always be there. This is a time of year dedicated to the idea of hope and peace, and man, could we all use a healthy dose of that this year.

And I’ve got my collection of holiday traditions to help remind me of that.

Merry Christmas!

Tim Hunter

A Stupid Idea

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At times, I listen to the local news on the radio and have to wonder which rabbit hole I fell down.

Seattle has a major heroin epidemic that has gotten continually worse after our beloved mayor officially declared that we have an epidemic. I’m expecting an official proclamation that it’s rainy in the days ahead.

I heard a local radio host talking about a pilot program up in Vancouver, B.C. that they claim is working well in the battle against heroin addiction. What you do is a create a safe environment, so that people who are addicted to heroin can come in and shoot up in a safe, sterile setting.  Basically, government-run shoot-up houses.They claim it’s helping the situation.

Now, because of it’s “success”, there’s talk of trying that program out down here in Seattle.

OK, but I’ve got questions:

  • Isn’t heroin illegal? Let me help–yes.
  • Isn’t possessing it illegal?  That would make sense.

So, it’s being suggested that providing a junkie a safe environment (paid with tax dollars) is the best solution we can offer.

More questions:

  • Where are they getting this illegal drug from?
  • Is the government supposed to buy it for them, to guarantee its safe, too?
  • Where does said junkie get the money to buy that drug? We’ve got an increasing crime problem in Seattle and fueling drug habits is at least partially responsible.

My head wants to explode.  You want to coddle criminal behavioral with the idea that, if we do, it’ll solve the problem?

Well, then why stop there?

BANK ROBBERS: If you have decided to rob banks for a living, the city can establish a safe bank that allows people to bring in their money to give to someone dressed like a teller. Then, they can walk in, point a gun and get their money from the teller. That solves the problem, right?  Except the robber would probably have to rob a real bank in order to get the money for the pretend bank.

CHECK FORGERS: Hey, these people are going through a tougher time than radio DJs. I mean, no one–OK, a few people–are still writing checks. If we give the bank robbers Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then the Check Forgers can have Tuesdays and Thursdays to bring in check with fake signatures for them to cash.

I could have gone with more horrific crimes, but you get the idea.  Taking an illegal activity and condoning it DOES NOT HELP.  Are those nut jobs at city hall thinking that becoming a drug addict is a career path?  I can hear the high school guidance counselor now. “Oh, sure, there are drawbacks, but you’ll be OK. The city will take care of you. Think of it like continuing education.”

Life is a balance. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. Drug addicts need help, not enabling.  They need intervention.  If their mind is so far gone, then the government needs to take over for the protection of the non-injecting population.  Is that really so hard to understand?

I owe you a light topic in the near future.

But in the meantime, I’d just like to say it again–that’s a stupid idea.

Tim Hunter

 

 

As Thankful As Can Be

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Seriously, this is an amazing time in which we live.

For even just a couple of minutes, push aside the bile & poison that was our most recent presidential election, and look around you.

I do that and I see a week that includes a Sounders playoff game, a night where we’re going to catch “Fantastic Beasts…”, the annual Apple Cup game that means more than any in recent memory and of course, my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Then, we’re into full-blown Holiday Season mode.

I write this with complete sincerity, but there is always a part of me that wonders if listing all the reasons you have to be grateful isn’t boastful. That is not my intent.  It’s my hope that you’ll look around and cherish all that surrounds you. No, life isn’t perfect. You don’t have to look far to find something to be upset about.

But life is about balance. If you allow too much of the dark in, it will consume you.  If you focus only on the good, then you could miss a wrong that needs to be fixed.

To the wonderful blend of friends and family that I have compiled over the years, I am blessed to have met you and known you. I give thanks to the Department of Life upstairs for all that I have and the acquaintances I have made, including you.

I hope your Thanksgiving Day is filled with bounty and love and that you appreciate the many gifts around you.

Tim Hunter