Wake Awake, For the Night is Flying

Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com

To start off the Christmas Calendar Series, I would like to start with a choral song that marks the celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ. Philipp Nicolai (1568-1608) in 1599 wrote the original music piece in German entitled “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” (in English: Awake, the voice is calling us). It was a Lutheran piece that was played in churches across Prussia and other German-speaking regions for several centuries. Even Johann Sebastian Bach added his version of the piece to his cantata under the title Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140 (Sleepers Awake) in 1724. The first English translation of the piece was produced in 1858 by Catherine Winkworth, which was later followed by two more versions written by Francis Crawford Burkitt in 1906 and George Ratcliffe Woodward two years later.

All three versions are based on the works of Nicolai where the text in the piece was derived from  the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1–13). Nicolai refers to other biblical ideas, such as from Revelations the mentioning of marriage (Revelation 19:6–9) and the twelve gates, every one of pearl (Revelation 21:21), and from the First Epistle to the Corinthians the phrase “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard” (1 Corinthians 2:9). The irony of the whole story was Nicolai had written the original masterpiece during the time a plague wreaked havoc on the town of Unna (near present-day Dortmund in North Rhine-Westphalia) and it was this piece that served as a sign of hope, where people should wake up and see the light of hope for Christ was born and he was the sign of hope.

In this piece, I’m presenting two versions of it. The first one was written by F. Melius Christiansen (1871- 1955). This was written during the time he conducted the St. Olaf College Choir from 1912 to 1944. His children would later find success at my alma mater, Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, Paul J. Christiansen (1914- 1997) would follow his father’s footsteps as choir director and composer there, having established a long-held traditional Christmas concerts, held on campus and in Minneapolis every year for over a half century.

This piece by F. Melius is conducted primarily in C natural major and can be performed on the high school and college level. I remember having sung this with my high school choir in Jackson, Minnesota many years ago and the resonance from the song has remained in memory ever since. This example seen below was performed by the St. Olaf College Choir in 2018, F. Melius’ alma mater.

The second version is a women’s acapella chamber piece conducted by the Dominican Sisters of Mary- Mother of the Eucharist. It was founded by John O’Connor in Nashville, Tennessee in 1997 and follows the chasm of the Dominican Order. The choir is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This piece, sung in E-flat major, resembles a church piece as it is sung in verses, each one having a refrain at the end, yet this one is best performed in a chamber of a monastery. Its echoes can be felt throughout the church no matter where the person is at.

And like in the past few years, where trials and tribulations seemed to be dominant in our lives, with war, the Covid-19 virus and a lot of uncertainty, I hope this season will bring hope to all those who need it. This piece seems to be our starting point as we have to look for the hope that has been missing for sometime. We all have it, it’s a question of just finding it.



A Wish and a Decidation that Made it Happen- Coca Cola Christmas Commercial

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

What is your wish for Christmas and what would it take for your wish to come true? This is the main theme for a truly, heart-wrenching commercial that was released in the media by Coca-Cola this year. The first Coca-cola commercial with Santa came in 1986, with the Santa train being introduced in the late 1990s. And while people can associate the Santa train with the Coca-Cola commercials, not to mention the title oft he song, The Real Thing by the late Melanie Thorton, this commercial hits the spot because of the love and dedication that it took to make the wish happen.

So have a look at the commercial and think about what you wish for- carefully. Then ask yourself what it would take to make this wish come true.

As a bonus, enjoy the song, The Real Thing by Melanie Thorton……..

I myself have a personal wish for you all, which you will find in the Advent Calendar that you will see quite soon.

Happy Holidays! 🕯️🕯️❤️❄️☕☃️🎄⛪🎁🎉⛄🌨️🤠🚛🚛🚛

Christmas Genre: The Twelve Days of Christmas


The last Christmas genre of this holiday season features a very popular song, whose melody will get a person’s ears ringing thanks to the singing earworm. The 12 Days of Christmas was first produced in 1780 in England as a set of lyrics only. The melody was produced as a folk song by Frederic Austin and with its various forms and tricks, has been the standard Christmas song.  Recently, in a book entitled Ideals Christmas, Rebecca Barlow Jordan traced the Twelve Days of Christmas to not only the 12 days of celebrating the birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ, but also to the twelve days journey by the three Wise Men, who traveled to see the baby Lord, carrying with them the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh- both of which were pinpointed to the time between Christmas Day (the 25th of December) and the Day of Epiphany (the 6th of January).

In either case, the lyrics remain the same, as in the graphic above, yet the many variations of the 12 Days of Christmas have existed and are growing. I have three versions that are worth watching as we wind down the holiday season and prepare for the next one- the first in the third decade of the third millennium.  The first one features a classic produced by John Denver and the Muppets from 40 years ago. The Muppets variation has changed five times since the origin from 1979, using five different sets of characters, still, they are fun to watch, nonetheless:

The next version is a rather wild and funnier version of the 12 Days of Christmas, with two actors imitating the gifts given on each of the 12 days- until they are pooped out. This was done by the Crossroads Bible Church Group:

And the last example was performed by the Angel City Chorale, where the song is interrupted by first, many Christmas carols and then by the song Africa, by the pop group Toto. It’s one worth the laughs:

The reason for presenting the 12 Days of Christmas on Epiphany?  To close out the holiday season for Epiphany represents the confirmation that the Lord hath Cometh. A perfect way to begin with the Year of the Lord and honor him for what he did for humanity.  Case closed!  🙂

Seasons eatings  FlFi10




Christmas Genre: The Green Book

Segregation. A term that regrettably should not have been coined and listed in the dictionary. Yet it has been, because of years of history where whites were degelated to their worlds and blacks (or being more politically correct, colored) to theirs. A place where only whites could have the fancies of hotels, restaurants, restrooms and schools where the colored had the run-down facilities. A place where even a world-renowned artist, like pianist Dr. Don Shirley, feels like a loner not being accepted anywhere in society because of race and social background.


That is until he meets a person who opens his eyes to a world that he had never knew existed. One where he is accepted after opening up.


If there’s a comment that marks the start of this film critique The Green Book, it would be this: “It doesn’t take a genius but courage to change people’s hearts.”

While this comment came towards the end of the film, it definitely sums up the motive of Dr. Don Shirley’s trip to the Deep South- the southeastern corner of the United States, a region that has a storied history of slavery and segregation of blacks; a region where despite intervention from Washington in terms of war (The Civil War) and laws (including Lincoln’s Emancipation declaration, and Martin Luther King’s Equal Rights Movement), the gap between the white society and the society of the colored people still exists to this day.

The setting of the story was the last couple months of 1962, less than a year before Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech and its subsequent Civil Rights Laws that followed by 1964.  It featured two very different characters from two contrasting worlds. In one world, there’s Dr. Shirley, the pianist who plays like a genius and with passion. He lives in “his own kingdom” above Carnegie Hall, rather spoiled because of the performances in rich settings and high expectations. Playing with only the Steinway piano is a fraction of the high-end life he was used to, whereas his passion for classical music is bordered with the popular culture presented by his chauffeur and body guard, Tony Vallelonga (a.k.a. Tony Lip), the other main character of the story.

Unlike Dr. Shirley, who is sensitive but a philosopher and psychologist with patience, Tony Lip is a very colorful character. Lip is a chauffeur who is unemployed after Copacabana closes for repairs. He had been in a brawl with two members from a mafia who harassed a woman during the concert His ability to annihilate “unwanted” guests, combined with his colorful and sometimes emotional interaction with people in general and creative strategies to either persuade others to do something they don’t want or reject offers that are fattening were the primary reasons why Dr. Shirley hired him to be his chauffeur and bodyguard for the tour in the Deep South. Tony Lip is Roman Catholic and has an extended family, all living in the Bronx, and all who have a passion for Italian culture and baseball.

Dr. Shirley hires Lip to take him through the Deep South where despite his musical performance that impresses the communities they visited, he deals with several forms of segregation that were typical in reality but none that the characters have ever seen before.

Any ideas what they may be?  Use this mindmap below and list them, there are more than what the six points are mentioned:


Note: This mind map can be used at the beginning of the film as well as at the end when listing the examples of segregation that Dr. Shirley and Tony Lip witnessed in the film.

Inspite the differences between the two there were many reasons why Dr. Shirley hired Tony to do the job. Likewise there were just as many reasons why Tony took it on, despite the fact that he would be on the road in “No Man’s Land” for two months, away from his family in the Bronx.  An activity below will give you a chance to look at the two characters carefully and help answer the question of why this arrangement took place.

Tony Vallelonga (a.k.a.) Tony Lip Dr. Don Shirley




His character:




His weakness(es):




The reason(s) for taking the job as Dr. Shirley’s chauffeur?












His character:




His weakness(es):




The reason(s) for hiring Tony Lip to be his chauffeur?

This can be done after the scene when the two characters are on the road and have stopped at their first concert.


But most importantly, we also have the Funnel-Theory, where certain elements merge into one and the differences the two characters have become non-existent. Here we have two different Funnels- the classic one and the reversal one.


reverse funnel

With the second one it has to do with finding common values which led them to becoming friends in the end.

The Green Book does have an underlying meaning as it goes beyond receiving the tour guide for blacks. It has some grave differences between black and white society that goes well beyond the food and the lodging. It has to do with the mentality that existed in the Deep South and the struggle to accept the values that had been ingrained in the fabric of their culture during that time. A lot of the underlying divisions seen in the film exist even today in the US, but also in other countries, where minorities are sometimes treated as second-class citizens.

Yet the Green Book takes place at Christmas time, where in the end, after breaking down the barriers, both Tony and Dr. Shirley became best friends and were accepted in the other’s culture. It opens the pages to something new and opens the hearts of many that welcome new people who just want to be included and part of society, despite different backgrounds. The film does both- eliminates the barriers and opens the door to new cultures which we can accept and embrace. It’s something we should take with- even beyond the holiday season.



Home Alone: 30 Years Later


Keeping with the trend of revitalizing films from 30+ years ago, I have one worth showing. Home Alone was released in 1989, with its sequel showing in theaters two years later with MacCaulay Culkin as the main character, Kevin McAlister.  In honor of the film’s 30th anniversary, Google released a Commercial of Kevin, home alone- only 30 years later. In his 40s and showing age, Kevin uses Google Assistant to order his famous cheese pizza and guard his house from the likes of Marv and Harry. Have a look at the Video:

Ironically, the character who played Marv (Joe Pesci), produced a counter ad of his own:

Honestly speaking, I have a question for one and all: Do you really think a network like Google or Amazon will be able to do what is shown in this ad alone? And while you are watching TV and enjoying Mac and Cheese?

In my humble and honest to Jesus Christ theory, I don’t think so.

It would ruin the fun of doing that all by yourselves.  No computer network program can scare burglars away with a filmmed gunning, a shot in the balls with a BB-gun, race cars at the bottom of the stairs, a nail in the foot, paint cans in the face, and all.

So go away from the screen, get off the couch and get it done. 🙂 We can do it better- and genuinely! 😉


Seasons eatings

Christmas Pyramid: Fun Facts and Activities


One of the main features of Christmas in Germany are the Pyramids. Christmas pyramids have existed for centuries but can be found at every Christmas market big and small. Even some markets in other countries have adopted the pyramid as one of the key attractions for tourists to see, especially as the blades are turning, powered by candles.

But what are they, really?

To answer that, I’ve compiled a pair of activities for you to try out. They include a Guessing Quiz and a wordfind with some words describing figures that you will most likely see in a pyramid. An answer sheet is enclosed so that you can display the colorful murals on the white board while answering the questions on a sheet of paper.

The answer sheet can be found by clicking here. Without further ado, have fun with the activities that you are about to do. 🙂

Christmas Pyramid Fun Facts Part 3

BONUS QUESTION:  Which motif is most likely found on every Christmas pyramid?

a. Nativity set with the Birth of Jesus

b. Winter landscape

c. Miners and angels

d. The Church of our Lady (Frauenkirche) in Dresden?

Christmas Pyramid Fun Facts Part 2new

The printable worksheets you can download via pininterest here:

Christmas Pyramid Fun Facts Part 3a

Christmas Pyramid Gun Facts Part 5

If you don’t have pininterest, you can access the worksheets via link below:


For both versions, just simply save as jpeg, then open before you print. 🙂

Please keep in mind that although the words in the Wordfind and the diagram can be used only once, there is one word in the worksheet in the Pyramid diagram that can be used twice. Can you find that word? thinking-face_1f914

Seasons eatings

Christmas Genre 2019: Reconnecting after Many Years’ Absence: An E.T. Story


Many of us who grew up in the western half of the world will probably be familiar with this movie, produced in 1982 by Universal Pictures:

E.T., The Extra Terrestrial was one of the most successful films of the 1980s and is clearly in the Top Ten of all films produced in the 20th Century.

This year, the beloved alien makes his way back to visit in this Christmas commercial produced by Xfinity Communications, part of the Comcast conglomerate which also owns Universal. After 37 years, E.T. reunites with his old friend Eliot and his family, bringing back memories and sharing them with the younger generation.

And like the film 37 years before, this one still hits the heart and souls of many who love the little fella as much as in the past. This one will perhaps go down as one of the best Christmas commercials of this decade and beyond.  More I cannot say, because films like this always hits the heart and brings tears of joy. So have a look and enjoy!  ❤


Seasons eatings

Advent of Kindness.

This is the holiday season and with that comes Advent Calendars. It’s a custom in many German-speaking households to have a calendar, where you can open a window every day between December 1st and Christmas Eve. Many have sweet surprises. Some have words of wisdom while others have photos for the camera lover.

This one caught my eye recently, as someone made a Christmas list made with a list of gestures to do to benefit those around you. During the times where people have suffered from many forms of adversity, such as losing their homes and farms and being homeless, losing their loved ones as well as being singled out for personal opinions and preferences or being a victim of hate crimes, sometimes we need to take the time and efforts and do something kind for one another, every day, and make the person happy.  The person who created this Advent calendar made a “to do” list of what can be done everyday between now and Christmas.

Maybe we have one too. If not, perhaps its time to do so. After all, it is the season for love and forgiveness. ❤

Seasons eatings

Genre of the Week: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstien (extended version)


Instead of talking about Black Friday today, I would like to show you a poem that deals with giving. It’s entitled the Giving Tree, written by Shel Silverstein. Mr. Silverstein wrote hundreds of children’s  poems, many of which he narrated.  And while Runny Babbit may be one of his well-known signatures, the Giving Tree is perhaps the most famous of his poems. It deals with the tree and its hundreds of uses, all of which the person took advantage of until there was only a stump left. The poem was written in 1964 and a narration version was released in 1973 (which can be seen below).  The theme behind the poem has to do with giving and taking. When one takes more than he gives, then there’s nothing left to give to the person.  Therefore one should consider alternatives to consumption and shopping, such as giving back, donating your time and supplies and helping others. Even the tiniest gestures of kindness can play a key role. Only when we learn to give will we be sure about our future after all.



Thanksgiving Genre: A Garfield Thanksgiving




When we think about Thanksgiving, we think about not only giving thanks for what we have and accomplished, we also take pride in two things: feasting and sports. It is a known variable that we enjoy our dinner with a good football game with the Detroit Lions or any professional NFL team. If we’re not into football, there’s the Thanksgiving Parade and any Hallmark films.

Yet for the young and old at heart, there are children’s TV specials that bring the family together, let alone some great friends. During the 1980s, I remember many specials being televised for Thanksgiving and it set the precedent for an even larger number of holiday specials that came 1-2 weeks later.

The Garfield Thanksgiving Special was one of them. Produced 30 years ago after the Fall of the Wall, it was one of the last specials where Lorenzo Music played the voice of Garfield (he died in 2001). He played Garfield from 1982 to 1994 mainly in the TV series.  The plot of the 23 minute show is in a City where the Jon Arbuckle, Garfield’s owner, took the cat to the vet to check him out, but also check out the vet herself, Liz. All on the day before Thanksgiving where themes such as food versus dieting, romance, and even the role of grandma are presented. The Special may be 30 years old, but it’s great for all ages and it’s an excellent example of how Thanksgiving is celebrated, both the wrong way as well as the right way. 😀

So enjoy! 🙂 ❤


fast fact logo

Garfield was created in 1978 and first published on June 19th of that same year. It holds the world record for having the highest number of newspapers that carry the series. It has had 12 TV specials, two movies and two TV series with a third one on the way. Its main home is at Paws Inc. in Muncie, Indiana. Its creator: Jim Davis.  To read the comic strip or visit the website, click here.