Christmas Is Up To You

Santa in Hammock

I’m guessing that, with Christmas falling on a Thursday this year, this blog is probably my last in 2014. I’m pretty convinced the world won’t spin off its axis, that it’ll still rain in Seattle and you’ll have watched at least one of the versions of “A Christmas Carol”. (the 1952 Alistair Sim version is really the only version)

So, with that buried deep in my sub-conscious, I’m being more observant of all the things going on around me. I’ve thought about going several directions with this piece and I’ve decided to go in all of them.

Today, I was at the Post Office, trying to get out my parents and sister’s Christmas package in the mail so that it would arrive before the big day. I walked in, saw a HUGE line at the in-person desk (with only two clerks), but there was a six-person wait at the automated machine. No-brainer. I get in the line, waited….and waited for my turn. I was almost there, when the person ahead of me informed me that the machine was full and could no longer do packages.

So, I headed over to the in-person line, which was even longer than when I first arrived. About ten minutes into that, the person who had been in front of me in the other line came over to give me the good news: the machine was working again AND there was no one in line! By the time I had taken care of the postage, I was in and out of there in less than 25 minutes. These days, that’s pretty good.

To my next story.

Without going into the “who”, I saw an acquaintance yesterday that I knew had been having health issues. Here it is, the “happiest time of the year” and she was one of many people having to deal with real life. This particular friend had spent last week getting medical treatments. This week, she was home, but you could just look at her and know things weren’t right.

The other day, I got a call from a friend, going through her first Christmas without her husband of 38 years.

Then there’s the tradition that was rekindled this morning, when I record “A visit with Santa Claus” with my radio buddy Bryon Mengle for his radio station back in Iowa. Something that I wrote and that is most likely heading to next year’s Christmas CD.

That’s another cool tradition. For the 14th year, I’ve put together a compilation of Christmas songs and comedy bits for a CD I call, “Ho Ho Brother.” This year’s edition is “Ho Ho Brother 14.” In all those years, I’ve only used the same version of a song once. Otherwise, every collection is different. I thought, for a while, about just offering it as an audio file, as CD’s are this close to extinction, but I know too many people on my list that still use that technology.

I’m rambling. But where I’m heading with all this is that Christmas happens during life. There will be ups and downs. I’ve got a dad who is failing in health and may not see another Christmas. This is the year to make it count. To enjoy every carol. To watch the amazement of kids when they meet Santa or rip open that present on Christmas Day. To realize that being happy and hopeful and full of dreams is a much-preferred way to live.

As I wrap this up, terrorists from North Korea forced Sony Pictures to stop the release of a movie. A fictional tale of an attempt on the leader of North Korea, but an idea that was crushed by international bullies.

So, what’s next?

I’ll tell you what’s next. Next Wednesday night, millions of kids around the world will find it hard to sleep because they don’t know what Santa will leave for them and what he’ll put in the stockings they left out.  Will he take a bite of that cookie they left on the hearth? And drink the glass of milk?

It’s Christmas. Let it be a magical time for you and yours.

And then, come December 26th, we’ll get back to dealing with all that real world stuff.

Merry Christmas.  See you all next year.

 

Tim Hunter

Here Comes Dennis Brown! Here Comes Dennis Brown!

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Tucked away in a little booth-like store in Bothell’s Country Village is a sculptor named Dennis Brown.

Dennis has been doing what he loves and making a living out of it for 45 years. He’s mastered the art of taking some clay and turning it into his own, unique figurines of Santa Claus, elves and other mythical creatures.  And somewhere along the line, he decided to embrace the fact that he looks like Father Christmas.

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To walk into his shop, you could easily feel like you accidentally wandered into Santa’s hobby shop, where he goes to get away from the clanging of the toys being made or Mrs. Claus asking him to eat more & maintain his bowl full of jelly appearance.  Except, he genuinely appreciates you coming into his craft room, where he works on more pieces while displaying his various works all the way up until the second they’re sold. And he does sell out every year.

We stopped by and chatted with Dennis on Saturday and heard the thumbnail version of his story.  While he maintains his store year ’round, starting November 1st he’s at his little shop selling his crafts 7 days a week until the last one is sold. It’s then that he’ll relax and enjoy the holiday season or at least what’s left of it. Because on January 1, the process starts all over again as he begins to restock his shelves with more of his unique-looking clay sculptures.

People actually come from all over to buy his works.  Dennis told us the story of the family from Connecticut who  has a 16-year tradition of flying out here just to see him, buy some Santa’s, and then head back to Holiday Inn country. His works are hard to resist and we left with a family heirloom for the kids to fight over some day.  I asked if he would pose with the one we bought.

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Dennis is the one on the left.  We now have our first Dennis Brown Santa on display at the Hunter household and I have this feeling that it won’t be the last.

So, if you’d like a little kick-start to your holiday season, want to just hang with Santa and maybe even start collecting a few pieces of hand-crafted art, aim your sleigh towards Bothell’s Country Village Shopping Center and say hi to Dennis Brown.  Or, you can always just order things from him online here.  Good guy.  A right jolly old elf.

Tim Hunter