HodgePodge Holidaze 

If we were having coffee today I’d lament the rapid onset of Christmas and the dearth of book sales, then tell you of recent events.  

Yes, Christmas is coming with all the good, the bad, and the ugly. Well, mostly the former, I guess, but after all the wedding hoopla earlier in the year the holidays are almost an anti-climax. Plus the kitten we acquired last spring has precluded worrying too much about a Christmas Tree. The bigger cats are problem enough but a rambunctious youngster makes us a little edgy about putting up a feline jungle gym for her. We had a number of decorative lighted trees we bought for the wedding, so we have several of those placed around the den and living room and have decorated them with small, light decorations. Yes, we are using leftover wedding stuff for Christmas decorations. I even have one of those lighted trees in an upstairs bedroom window facing the street, serving up a “lighted tree in a window” effect. We might still augment the house with a traditional tree, or, we might not. This weekend will tell. 

I spoke a while back about my vision problems with cataracts. I’m happy to report that I am now seeing very well. The first surgery was November 10 and the second one was December 1. My doctor put me on a strict no lifting anything over 10 pounds regimen after both surgeries so that impacted the Christmas decorating thing too, because I couldn’t mess with a tree or risk climbing into storage to fiddle with the boxes of ornaments. Then my lovely bride has been having some back issues and this is affecting our shopping too, as is my job, which has been kicking up a lot of dust this week. Now I’m starting to understand why my grandparents always just gave us a check. 

I hope to make fruitcake tonight or tomorrow. My family has made this same recipe for over 100 years. This is not a stereotype either … it is a GOOD fruitcake. The full recipe makes about 1.5 metric tons. For years I’ve made a half batch and even that is so big I had to buy a restaurant quality huge metal mixing bowl. Since each slice is a little calorie bomb, I decided to cut it down again, so I’m making a 1/4 batch, which should make one nice sized cake. In the past I’ve mostly made cupcakes … fruitcake cupcakes are genius (my mom’s idea) but you lose one thing, the marvelous calliope of colors and textures one gets when a fruitcake is sliced. At least in theory. I might go back to cupcakes next year. They really are pretty cool and easier to store. 

Oh, yeah, I have been lamenting something else too … book sales have really dropped off. Luckily, they didn’t have far to go. Ah well … I’ll just keep hammering away. Still, allow me a moment to plug for sales… do you need a last minute gift idea? Take a minute to scan through my web page … the URL is below. There is a review link … several book review bloggers have read them and given me some awesome reviews. People who read these books really like them. 

I don’t know what’s going to happen next weekend, but in case I don’t make it by for coffee, keep the spirit of the season in your heart


Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina … information on his books can be found at http://thefensk.com

Crazy Christmas Memories

I’m sure we all have them.  Crazy Christmas Memories, I mean.


My craziest goes back to Christmas 1970.  I’m always reminded of this by the movie Christmas Vacation.  I was a freshman at a college about an hour north of Houston.  Some Houston friends offered to come up and get me, but they had an ulterior motive.  They wanted a Christmas tree.  Now the area around Huntsville TX, where my school was located, is littered with all manner of evergreens, so it seemed like a fairly doable idea.  We pulled off the interstate and drove down a side road and found a suitable sapling, like one about nine feet tall.  Unlike the movie, my erstwhile friends did indeed bring an ax, or to be more accurate — a hatchet.  Working in the dark, and hacking away furiously before a car came, we all took turns and managed the down the tree, a scrub cedar.  It was at least somewhat Christmas tree shaped.

Ah, but what everybody forgot was … rope.  We were in a red VW beetle and we had nothing we could use to secure the tree.  The solution?  Everybody sacrificed their belts.  Somehow we got the tree tied to the top of the VW but I think we lost a foot off the tree by dragging the top along the highway.  It really did look like the car in the movie, except we didn’t have the roots.  It was completely draped over the car, with the tree-stump clearly visible from the windshield.

We did okay for about 30 minutes but eventually we had a minor problem caused by the wind shear and the weight of the tree and the drag caused by the … well, caused by us dragging part of the tree behind us.  The problem?  Well, all the belts snapped and we lost the tree on the highway.  It was rush hour, with tons of traffic, and our tree was rolling along in the lane behind us. We screeched to a halt and pulled over and ran back and somehow dragged the tree off the road without getting ourselves killed.

By some miracle, we managed to get enough strands of our broken belts wrapped around a few branches and we were able to again secure the tree. We continued on our way, but now we were less concerned with maintaining full highway speed.  A couple of us kept a firm grip on a branch on each side of the car as well.

Decorations were sparse that year, but we had a tree!   Actually, I’m surprised we didn’t end up arrested or dead.  Both options were a distinct possibility.  What were we thinking?  I think that answer is best represented this way:  NOT!