Thursday, November 25, 2010

Plenty To Be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!!  I've been saving this clip especially for this day, I'm so excited to share it with you!

This one's from the movie, Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.  The film features the amazing music of Irving Berlin.  In fact, it was this movie that premiered Berlin's classic, "White Christmas."  Can you imagine sitting in a movie theater and hearing that song sung by Bing for the FIRST time?  Heavenly!

But I've chosen another song from the movie for today, the one that appears in the Thanksgiving segment.  It's called "Plenty to be Thankful For," and I just love it, particularly when it's sung the incomparable Bing.

The artist who compiled this video uses several clips from the movie, along with photos of Bing's brother, Bob Crosby and his big band.  Apparently, Bob's orchestra performed the accompaniment for this number, so he's given his due praise as well!

Anyway, I think the pictures are terrific, including those of Bing's pretty love interest in the movie, Marjorie Reynolds.  Is it just me, or does she remind you a little of Katherine Heigl in these photos?  See what you think!

I'll warn you before you listen, though, this tune is CATCHY!  I DARE you not to be humming it while you enjoy your turkey and mashed potatoes today!!  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Special Delivery!

I'm not someone who could ever be accused of having OCD.  Dirt doesn't bother me in the least, dust collects on my furniture for weeks before I finally break down, pull out the Pledge, and get to work.

I must confess, though, that there is one area in which I can become tremendously obsessed:    Christmas cards!

Each year, I take excruciating care choosing the perfect cards, stationery on which we'll print our yearly letter (yeah, I'm one of THOSE people who writes an "update" letter!), and return address labels.  I even make sure the stamps are festive!  Most years, I've even subjected poor Alan and Trixie to donning our Christmas finery, setting the timer on our camera, and  taking a photo, which I also include in the envelope!

After I've acquired all the supplies, I hit "shuffle" on the Ipod Christmas playlist, then sit down to write a personal note in each card.  It's usually just a few lines, telling my friends and family how much I miss them, and wishing them a happy holiday season.  It takes a while, I have a long list of names.  But I honestly enjoy it, because it makes me think of each one of my cherished loved ones as I hand write their names and the names of their children on the inside of each one.

Here's where the OCD comes in:  I make sure I have ALL of this done and in the mail the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Why?  Because that means my Christmas card will arrive in the mailboxes of my friends and family on the day after Thanksgiving, the FIRST official day of the Christmas season! Seriously, I NEVER miss!  And my loved ones know it, too!  One year, we decided to save money and skip the card sending.  Just about EVERY card I received that season said something like,  "We didn't get your card the day after Thanksgiving!  Are you guys OK?" Like I said, it's a sickness!

I guess I put so much effort into my cards each year because I enjoy RECEIVING them so much.  I LOVE the beautiful wintery scenes on the front, and the enclosed pictures of growing children in pretty velvet dresses and small bow ties!  I LOVE the enclosed letters, telling me what everyone's accomplished over the year, and the plans for the year ahead.

Which leads me to a small pet peeve I've had for a while.  Would you mind if I rant for a moment?  Have you ever gotten that card in the mail that has the family's names already printed on them?  They look beautiful, no doubt. But I've received so many that have no handwriting in them at all, not even our names listed at the top.  This means the card went directly from the box to the envelope.  The envelope, by the way, has a computer printed stick-on label with my address on the front.  This means the sender of this card thought of me for exactly two seconds, when they peeled the label off the sheet and placed it on the envelope.

I know most people are MUCH busier than me during the Christmas season.  I don't have children's school holiday programs to attend, or dozens of family members coming to my home for Christmas dinner.  I really do understand that sometimes, pre-printed cards and peel-and-stick labels are all some can manage.  But I genuinely believe that it's a waste of a stamp.

Christmas cards, in my opinion, are supposed to say, "Hey!  I was thinking of you!  Maybe I don't get to communicate with you all year, but I wanted you to know that I love you, I cherish your friendship, and I want you and your family to have a merry, merry Christmas!"  When you stick an address label on an envelope and enclose an impersonal, pre-printed card, you're saying, "Hey, at least I put forth an effort."

What do YOU think?  Am I being ridiculously old fashioned?  Do YOU still send holiday cards each year? How do YOU do it?  I'd love to hear your opinion!  Well, I've got to run.  Those envelopes don't address themselves, you know...

Thanks for Reading!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Working Proud

Right or wrong, my Dad often judged a man by his work ethic.  If you worked like a dog, weren't afraid of getting your hands dirty, and never watched the clock, Dad had a very high opinion of you, indeed.

In fact, when I reunited with my high school sweetheart, Alan, ten years after we graduated, Dad was not pleased.  He was remembering the smart-alecky, black concert t-shirt wearing, long hair sporting seventeen year old that I had dated a decade before.  I wasn't concerned, however, because I knew JUST what to do to change Dad's mind about Alan.

I wrote Dad a letter and told him I understood his concern, but that he needed to know about all the things that Alan had accomplished since we last saw him.  Then I wrote about Alan's four years in the Marine Corps, followed by the four years that he worked a full time job as a waiter so he could pay his way and attend college, full time, at the same time.  I mentioned that he worked so hard, he didn't have to take out any student loans.   He made the money that was needed each semester in pure sweat by busting his hump.  Guess what?  Dad was convinced.  He welcomed Alan into his home, and eventually walked me down the aisle to meet him on our wedding day!

But there was another area of the job that Dad always talked about:  pride in your work.  He taught us that any job we were performing, no matter how big or small, should be done with an enormous amount of care and pride.  He led by example in this area.  In the summers when school was out, he had a carpentry business doing remodeling work.  He did it all, kitchen cabinets, back decks, even hand crafted frames for paintings.  His small business ad in our local paper simply displayed his name and phone number, along with one quote:  "No Job Too Small."

His clients were often stunned when he'd tell them the date in which he'd begin his work, then actually SHOW UP on that day, ON TIME!  This was unheard of in the construction business.  Except, of course, in my Dad's business.  Because Dad took pride in his work, and it showed.  More than one stranger came up to me at his wake, took my hand, and said, "Your Dad remodeled my kitchen!  He did a terrific job!"  Amazing, right?

That being said, my Dad would have loved my new nail technician, Tommy!  As you know, we've just moved to our new home near Nashville, TN, and that means starting all over with doctors, vets, hair stylists, and of course, nail techs.  I decided to check out the salon closest to our house, especially because it had a huge sign over its front door reading, "New Management!  20% Off All Services!"  When I walked through the entrance, a smiling, short Asian man approached me and shook my hand.

"Hello!"  he chirped, "I'm Tommy!  I'm the new owner of this salon!  What can I do for you?"

I explained that I was new to the area and needed a fill.  He grabbed my hand and looked at my nails, running his thumb over the surface of my index finger.  "Oh, yes!  I'd be happy to!" he said, "I can make these look BEAUTIFUL!  Come, have a seat!"

Still holding my hand, Tommy led me to his work table, pulled out my chair, and walked around to the other side.  But before he sat, he asked, "Would you like something to drink?" He then listed several beverages, including water, soda, and wine.  After I declined, he sat down and got to work.

Tommy asked me a few questions about moving here and how I liked living in Tennessee, and I answered them all.  But I was really curious about this energetic, nice man, so soon I was the one asking questions.  Tommy answered them all, that enormous smile never leaving his face.  He told me he had been a nail tech for over ten years, always working in the shops owned by his cousins and other relatives.  He'd work for one until the business was up and running, then he'd move on to the next one to help with THAT opening.  About two years ago, the opportunity arose to own a shop of his own, and Tommy considered it. But in the end, he said, he felt he still had a lot to learn about running a business, and decided to wait a while longer before taking the big step.

Two years later, when the shop in which we were currently sitting became available, Tommy decreed that it was time, and took the big plunge!  The next thirty minutes were filled with Tommy's exited explanations of all he was planning for his brand new salon (he had only owned it one short week!).

He pointed out the walls he had painted ("That red was too harsh, the light brown is much more relaxing for my customers!"), the new pedicure stations he inserted ("It was more expensive for the glass foot bowls, but they look MUCH nicer!"), and the brand of nail acrylic he insisted on using.  He said it was more costly than the kind the other salons carried, but that it looked nicer on his clients, and would last longer, so that's ALL he was going to use.  Tommy talked and talked, and I began to say a silent prayer as he worked, asking God to bless this awesome man and this business that he clearly cherished so much.

I'll soon be rejoining the work force here in Nashville.  I have a BFA in Musical Theater and am ridiculously unqualified for just about everything but performing onstage. I'll also be looking for a job during the worst period of unemployment in our country's history since the Great Depression.  But as I set out in my business suit and pumps, briefcase in hand,  I'm going to try to remember Dad and Tommy.  I'm going to try to convince my potential employer that if they hire me, they'll be getting someone who will show up on time, will work extremely hard, and will take enormous pride in each aspect of her duties (even if that involves flipping burgers!).

I've been back to Tommy's salon three times since that first day, and on each visit I've noticed that it's always much busier than the time before.  Dad wouldn't have been surprised.  He knows that if you take pride in what you're doing and give it everything you've got, success is sure to follow.  In fact, after that first encounter with Tommy, if you had asked Dad, "Do you think this guy's business will succeed?"  Without hesitation, his reply would have been Classic Dad:  "Is the Pope Catholic?"

Thanks for Reading!!