The Gingerbread Boy

This is written for my nephew, I, with love…

“The Gingerbread Boy” by Jill Ocone (Copyright 2016)

img_1366aThe Gingerbread Boy

Wearing his pointed hat of red,

His favorite,

Waited with all of the other children

As the crowd counted down

From five with delight,

Then the lights came alive

As the star shined brightly

From atop the town Christmas tree on Main Street.

 

The Gingerbread Boy

Received a red balloon,

His favorite…

He held onto its ribbon

As it danced in the air

While the band played “Let It Snow”

With snowflakes swirling in the light shining

From the town Christmas tree on Main Street.

 

The Gingerbread Boy

Climbed into the red carriage,

His favorite,

The clip clop

Of the horse’s feet

And the jingle jangle

From its bridle of bells

Rang out as the horse turned about

Near the town Christmas tree on Main Street.

 

Suddenly the sirens screamed

As the parade of red firetrucks,

His favorite,

Decorated in lights

Arrived to deliver

Their Christmas cargo

Who dismounted from his ladder perch

Next to the town Christmas tree on Main Street.

 

He belted a joyful “Ho Ho Ho”

The big man in red,

His favorite…

Then the Gingerbread Boy

Through his twinkley eyes

Watched in wonder

As he winked while welcoming him.

The magic was real and

The Gingerbread Boy believed

That night

By the town Christmas tree on Main Street.

Day 19 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Music

Four words: RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

Two more: NEW ALBUM

And two more: THE GETAWAY

The Red Hot Chili Peppers is another band whose music provides a running soundtrack for my life.

Similar to The Cure, each of the RHCP albums has a certain feel to it, a certain vibe, different from the others.

Such is the case with their latest album, The Getaway.

I have two more words to describe The Getaway:

FRIGGIN’ FANTASTIC!!!!

Anthony Keidis, Flea, Chad Smith, and Josh Klinghoffer have created a phenomenal piece of work, and they sound better than they ever have.

I was in a local store when I heard the single “Dark Necessities” for the first time. I literally stopped in my tracks as the song drew me in. “What is that?” I wondered, immediately mesmerized by Keidis’ voice, Flea’s bass riff, Klinghoffer’s guitar, and Smith’s beat.

I bought The Getaway first thing in the morning on June 17, 2016, the day it was released.

The album is a bit different than what you might expect from RHCP. It’s true music, funky and hard and flowing and enlightening, each song with a true meaning, most importantly, performed and sung by true musicians.

During the summer, I usually have a “summer songs” playlist on shuffle for three months, but not this year. The Getaway is on constant rotation, and most likely will be for the remainder of summer.

I’ve listened to it so much I know almost every word to every song. If it were a cassette, I’d need another copy because I would have worn it out already.

The Getaway is what I needed. No pun intended.

Someone asked me what my favorite song was from The Getaway.

All of them.

Literally ALL of them, because each song radiates a different feeling, and together, they complement each other.

I feel like a blathering idiot…I love the album so much, but I cannot explain why.  Clearly, I should not pursue a career as a music reviewer.

Each song speaks to my soul, inspires me, makes me feel human and non-apologetic for being that human.

The Getaway is the spark that is igniting my own creativity, as the songs have been a catalyst for my own writing.

When the RHCP performed with Bruno Mars at the Superbowl Halftime Show in 2014, I loved it. However, society pretty much wrote them off as being washed up has-beens.

If you were a part of that society, step up to the challenge and give The Getaway a listen.  Then please tell me which song spoke to you the most after you admit that you love the album too.

Do yourself a favor. Get The Getaway. Let it be the escape you need, like it is for me.

Artists inspiring other artists.

Thank you, Red Hot Chili Peppers, for speaking to this fellow soldier in this battlefield of life (from This Ticonderoga).

For a more intelligently written review, please visit Galoot’s Loot’s blog here.

 

Day 04 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Red, White, Blue

Happy Fourth of July, friends, and Happy 240th Birthday to America! If you know me personally, you know that I love my country and I am an advocate for those who choose to serve. Yes, I AM a Yankee Doodle Dandy, and proud to be one!

With that being said, I would like to share something special to honor today’s prompt of RED, WHITE, BLUE. However, there will be photographs to accompany my story other than a meme at the end. I hope my words convey to you what I feel in my heart.

In June, I was asked by my 5-year-old nephew H to go to his preschool graduation ceremonies. “Please come to my graduations, Auntie Jill!” Of course I would go…how could I turn him down with his pleading brown eyes and his dazzling smile?

The two ceremonies were a week apart. As I sat in the audience of the first ceremony with family, we all looked for him during the processional, and there he was! Once he was on stage, he saw us all and waved. All of the little boys and girls wore red and blue graduation caps and gowns. The ceremony was lovely, and the children did a great job with their performances.

Towards the end, the children sang one more very special (and very secret) song. Each little hand held out a small American Flag as the song began, and together sang “God Bless The U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood. Immediately the tears welled in my eyes, but I was able to keep control because H’s little brother had fallen asleep on my lap. Part of me wanted to record this moment, but replaying in my mind’s eye versus on a device is more memorable. Those little voices singing about pride in their country while waving their little flags…I was immediately flooded with mental images of flags on every house after 9-11, of a country pulling together, of those who chose to defeat evil by serving, of those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving…I could hear crowds yelling “USA” at sporting events and concerts, and our nation’s anthem sung at the top of everyone’s lungs…I could taste the unwavering pride for our country that we shared so strongly, a pride that has, sadly, since waned….

After the children finished their song, the graduation concluded and the red and blue gowns walked through the audience one last time. As H came by us, he had his little flag in front of him in one hand, his preschool diploma in the other, and a huge smile of accomplishment on his face. We went outside after pictures and cake.  I picked up H and told him how special that song was to me and how proud I was of him for singing it so wonderfully. He just looked me in the eyes, cupped my face, and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

Fast forward to one week later for the second ceremony. The little graduates came out on stage at the beginning, and each was wearing red, white, and blue. Some had on patriotic hats. And what song do you think they opened the ceremony with? That’s right…”God Bless The U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood. The tears welled again as the angelic voices joined together in harmony, but once again, I was on little brother duty and tried to keep him quiet as he yelled, “My brother up there! My brother up there!” Another moving and special tribute excellently done by the graduates.

I was recanting this story for someone recently, and he said, “What a way to indoctrinate those little kids. Propaganda.”

Instead of responding, which would have been useless, I just looked at him in disbelief.

That is when I realized that THAT’S what’s so wrong with our country. The belief that everything’s a conspiracy, that everything is someone else’s fault, that people pass judgement so quickly without being open to all sides and are so quick to dismiss because of their own elitist views.

Here were two groups of children, showing pride in their country through song with no ulterior motive. It was a simple performance. I do not have children, but if I did and if my child took part in these ceremonies, I would have thanked the teachers and the staff for educating my child about pride and about our country.

I have never forgotten how much my world changed on September 11, 2001. I will never forget the first baseball game and NASCAR race televised afterwards. I will never forget seeing each victim’s name engraved at the 9-11 Memorial. I will never forget names like Nicholas Ott, Ronald Kubik, Christopher Duffy, and Vincent Frassetto, who demonstrated ultimate bravery while making the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The only good thing I took away from that awful, horrid day in 2001 was a renewed pride in my country, no matter what. Regardless of the many acrimonious political/social/religious views and strife among us, the United States of America is our homeland. No, everything’s not perfect here in America, and improvement is needed in so many ways, but we can still come together and join hands. We can unite and support each other.

We can take pride in the RED, WHITE, AND BLUE.

Just as those little children weren’t embarrassed to sing “God Bless The USA,” I am not embarrassed to respect my country. I thank H and his preschool friends for reminding me of that.

I am proud to be an American every day, not just today.

Happy 240th Birthday, America!

IMG_7633

Something to SEA: Free Memorial Day Printable

Memorial Day 2016

Memorial Day, the “unofficial” start of summer, will be here in a few days. As you enjoy your holiday weekend, please take time to remember why Memorial Day is a holiday in the first place. Perhaps attend a local Memorial Day parade or service. Teach the young ones in your life about the holiday. I’ve included some links to help you out if you are so inclined.

I created the image above that can be saved, printed, and displayed at your home or events. You can download a .pdf version here. The image and .pdf are both sized 8 1/2 x 11 inches.

Finally, please join me in remembering those who gave their all for our freedom and for our country by going silent for one minute at 3 PM on Monday, May 30 at 3:00 PM for the National Moment of Remembrance.

Thank you,

Jill

VA Office of Public Affairs Memorial Day Site

History.com Memorial Day Site

PBS.org Memorial Day Site

Timeforkids.com Memorial Day Site