12 Sleeps to Christmas: Special ornaments

Some people theme trees with colors, patterns or styles.

While themed trees look beautiful, I prefer trees that truly represent a person or family through the ornament choices.

My family’s main tree is filled with a number of handcrafted and store bought ornaments — many of which tell the stories of our lives.

Whether it’s an ornament showcasing the Pittsburgh skyline, Myrtle Beach or “baby’s first Christmas,” they all tell a story.

It’s difficult to pick a favorite ornament. I love all of the ornaments depicting Kaufmann’s Clock and the Horne’s tree. My Kennywood Park ornaments (especially the wooden pieces of coaster track) are great, too.

But the ornaments I love most are the ones from my grandparent’s tree.

They are simple glass balls with designs.

Most are in OK shape with some obvious signs that they’re old.

I don’t put all of these special ones on the tree. Some remain in the containers so to try to protect some of them.

They sit near the top to avoid being swatted by a dog’s tail.

I wish I knew more about their origin — what store they’re from, who designed them, if they’re part of a larger collection.

I know nothing about them except that they were part of my grandparents’ tree for decades.

As a kid I remember helping my grandma hang them on her tree.

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Holiday TV for Dec. 1: Freeform’s 25 Days begins, animated classics, original ‘Miracle,’ ‘Elf’

Here’s a look at the holiday specials, reruns, classics and more on TV today!

  • “25 Days of Christmas” begins on Freeform!
  • Rankin/Bass animated classics have shifted from Freeform to AMC.

Shows:

  • 11 a.m. — “The Little Drummer Boy: Book II (1976, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 11:10 a.m. — “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Freeform
  • 11:30 a.m. — “The Story of the First Christmas Snow (1975, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • Noon — “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1985, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • Noon — “Christmas Everlasting” with Tatyana Ali and Patti LaBelle, Hallmark
  • 1:15 p.m. — “The Leprechauns’ Christmas Gold” (1981, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 1:45 p.m. — “Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey” (1977, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 2 p.m. — “The Sweetest Christmas (2017) with Lacey Chabert, Hallmark
  • 2 p.m. — “Christmas Perfection (2018), Lifetime
  • 2:15 p.m. — “Jack Frost” (1979, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 3:20 p.m. — “Christmas With the Kranks,” Freeform
  • 3:30 p.m. — “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland (1976, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 4 p.m. “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 4 p.m. — “It’s Christmas, Eve” (2018) with LeAnn Rimes, Hallmark
  • 4 p.m. — “Poinsettias for Christmas” (2018), Lifetime
  • 4:30 p.m. — “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 5 p.m. — “Romance at Reindeer Lodge,” Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
  • 5:45 p.m. — “The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 7:35 p.m. — “The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Freeform
  • 8 p.m. — “Disney Parks Presents a 25 Days of Christmas Holiday Party,” Disney
  • 8 p.m. — “Mingle All the Way (2018), Hallmark
  • 8 p.m. — “A Twist of Christmas (2018), Lifetime
  • 8:55 p.m. — “Muppet Babies, Disney Jr.
  • 9 p.m. — “Elf,” AMC
  • 9 p.m. — “Christmas Wonderland” (2018), Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
  • 9 p.m. — “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas,” USA
  • 9:15 p.m. — “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” 2000) with Jim Carrey, Freeform
  • 9:45 p.m. — “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947) with Cary Grant, TCM
  • 10 p.m. — “Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe (2018) with Lacey Chabert, Hallmark
  • 11 p.m. — “The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 12:15 a.m. — “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” (1976, Rankin/Bass) (AMC)
  • 1:30 a.m. — “Miracle on 34th Street (1947) with Natalie Wood, AMC

‘The North Pole needs a HR department’: In ‘Rudolph’ special, Santa is a bully

Hold your mittens for this truth bomb …

In the animated classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Santa Claus, Comet and Donner … fit the textbook definition of bullies.

Like so many others, I grew up loving the cute looking cartoon that weaves through the story of Hermie (the elf who wants to be a dentist), the unloved toys and, of course, Rudolph and his dad’s embarrassment of the young deer’s red nose.

At some point in the mid-2000s, I started realizing that the special actually promoted bullying as it forced people who were “normal” to be considered dominant and in control.

Rather than celebrating each character’s uniqueness, this depiction of the North Pole taunts and bullies others who don’t fit their definition of what they should be like.

One Twitter user perfectly describes how I feel about Donner: “Donner just told Rudolph that self respect was more important than his son breathing. Somebody call the cops to their cave immediately.”

Another Twitter user wrote, “The North Pole needs a HR department. All these bosses are horrible.”

And if the horrible storyline wasn’t enough … there’s even an innocent murder:

The Santa I know promotes love and acceptance of all children.

Check out Pittsburgh’s own Polar Express

Port Authority’s Twitter page

“Take a bus, take a train” are lyrics in Canonsburg native Perry Como’s popular “No Place Like Home for the Holidays” song.

Perhaps even Como never realized how literal his lyrics would end up, blending public transit with the holidays.

But Port Authority of Allegheny County staffers have been decorating some buses for years.

And this year, the authority dedicated its first holiday-themed light rail train (or T, as we call it).

Amy Duffy has decorated her bus for the last few years. Her 41 route takes her through Mt. Lebanon, South Fayette, Bridgeville, Collier and Carnegie.

The Pittsburgh Trib’s Signal Item newspaper chronicled her in 2017.

The newspaper covered her again in 2018.

Port Authority’s spokesman said the agency has about five or six buses decorated.

If I ever run across one of these decked out rides, I might purposefully miss my stop!

Only 364 days to go

Christmas night always is filled with mixed emotions as it begins the end of the holiday season. Though I’ll openly celebrate through mid-January (when the tree comes down), much of the pizazz begins to simmer now. The TV shows slowly end, the radio stations go back to their regular programming. And a neighbor likely will have his decorations down by noon Dec. 26.

Last Christmas I was introduced to Brad Paisley’s “364 Days to Go.” It’s a great song to remember to cherish every moment of the season before it ends.

Wrapping paper everywhere

Stacked up dishes, but who cares

They can wait until tomorrow now

It’s you and me, and this old couch

The Christmas tree in our living room

Fills the room with pine perfume

And colored lights dancing on the walls

While Nat King Cole sings “Deck The Halls”

Don’t you get the sense tonight

That for now the world is right

And as another Christmas ends

My mind drifts and once again

I’m thinking like a six year old

Only 364 days to go