Even though it’s not quite Thanksgiving, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

For just one more day, my kitschy countertop squash and pinecone turkey can hog the limelight.


Spoiler alert:  The Christmas creep is real.  Twinkly stars, plastic Santas, canned carols, garlands and wreaths, sales, sales, sales. They’re everywhere, nudging, prodding, poking, elbowing their way in.



When, exactly, did Santa turn corporate? When did Christmas become the holiday shopping season?


Like fruitcake, the outcry ‘Christmas comes earlier every year’ is now tradition. As predictable as that is, it still surprises me.

I ‘m not ready for a million gazillion emails from retail giants that pester me to hurry! hurry! shop now! this deal ends today!


Except for the ones from the John Lewis Partnership. They sell, well, everything. And with smashing success.  JLP is the bees knees, likely because it’s employee-owned. All 88,900 permanent staff are Partners who own 48 John Lewis shops across the UK, 350 Waitrose supermarkets, an online and catalogue business, a production unit, and, yes, even a farm. The business has annual gross sales of over £11bn and all partners share in the benefits and profits.

Here’s last year’s ad from Britain’s favorite favourite retailer. So luvvly-jubbly.

This year? It’ll have you jumping for joy.

Yes, the Christmas season officially begins on Friday.  
But first…
Hope your Thanksgiving is absolutely scrummy!



Toni 11/23/16

Follow Buster the Boxer on Twitter here.

Want to see more JLP adverts? (You know you do.)  Click here.


Don’t look so sad. It’s not so bad, you know. It’s just another night. That’s all it is.

Recognize those lyrics?



Of course, it isn’t New Year’s Eve, but it is Valentine’s Eve. This evening, Barry Manilow isn’t speaking, singing, rapping, or partying. Complications from oral surgery put his life on hold.

It’s not the first
It’s not the worst you know
We’ve come through all the rest
We’ll get through this.

He’s had a series of health scares over the years. And he’ll get through this one. Prayers are coming from a fanbase that’s from here to the exosphere.

barry manilow 70s

I have a simmity for Barry.  Simmity, such an old word. It means a fondness for a person of the opposite sex.  Eons ago, Henri Misson used the word simmity in his memoir, Travels Over England. (Today, it doesn’t even come up in a Google search.)


He tells about how on the eve of the 14th of February, young people in England and Scotland, by a very ancient custom, celebrated in a unique way.

An equal number of ‘maids’ and ‘bachelors’ get together, each writes their name on separate billets which they roll up and draw by way of lots.

(I love old words.  Like billets, those private letters folks used to send, filled with secret words.)


The maids take the mens’ billets, and the men takes the maids’, so that each of the young men “lights upon a girl” that he calls his Valentine, and each of the girls upon a young man which she calls hers.


The Valentines give treats to their maids and wear their billets for several days upon their sleeves.

There’s another custom, too, where the first young man or woman that chance throws in your way in the street or elsewhere on Valentine’s Day will be your true love.


Has chance thrown true love your way?  

Stevie Ray Vaughn (RIP) wants to have a little talk with you.

Toni 2/13/16


I don’t like the forecast.


If there’s somethin’ wet in your neighborhood, who ya’ gonna call?

 St. Theodore of Sykeon, that’s who.



When I was reading about the sixth century, I bumped into Theodore. The man lived alone in a cave with only a small hole for air and survived on bread and water. (I can identify. We Catholic-school survivors are all too familiar with the Whitman sampler of extreme mortifications. Yes, we are.)

Picture 601


Theo was kind of a strong-man saint. He had, you might say, weird ascetical practices. (His father was a circus performer. Really.)

Every year from Christmas to Palm Sunday, he suspended himself in a cage in which he could barely stand. Nicknamed the “Iron Eater”, he wrapped himself in an iron breastplate, iron collar, iron girdle, rings, and chains. His ‘holiness’ attracted many disciples, and a huge monastic settlement grew at Sykeon.

Theo-of-SykTheo’s life story (read full text here), written by one of his disciples, is mostly a record of his brow-raising miracles. He helped reconcile many married couples and healed people suffering from leprosy, demonic possession, and pestilence.  And, apparently, weather.

“If a cloud­burst had taken place in any village, or the rivers overflowed their ordinary bed and caused devastation, the sufferers from these calamities went to the holy man in all haste and carried him off to the spot or received a cross at his hands which he had blessed and after fixing it in the spot which had been devastated they never experienced a similar catastrophe again.”



Turns out that Theodore is also the Patron Saint of People Who Endure Damp Rainy Weather. You know, the cluttersome, clattersome stormy kind of weather with thick clouds all around. Cluttery, drawky, plungy are old English words that cover this vast range of weather ~ from wet-rainy-drizzle to the pelting-gusty-rough stuff.



Theo’s neighbors knew the warning signs ~ ducks shook and fluttered their wings on takeoff, young horses rubbed their backs against the ground, sheep bleated and skipped wantonly in the field. If a lamp sparked, if soot fell in the chimney, or swallows flew low ~ well, they knew who to call.  (Today there’s an app for that.)

St. Sykeon’s feast day (April 22) was proclaimed by the Catholic Church to honor the baby name Theodore and encourage folks to name boys born on this day after the bishop/monk/miracle maker.



Are you named Theodore?

Were you named for a saint? (I could have been named Fructuosus.)

what feast day were you born on?  Find out here.

Toni 5/24/14