Celebrating National Hat Day with Sara Teasdale

Sarah and I are celebrating

National Hat Day 2023!

If you are of a certain age, you will recall that there was a time when no one left their homes without a hat. It was the proper way to meet a new day.

Good News! Hats are making a comeback!

Hats come with unique personalities.  Some possess elegance and sophistication while others are jazzy, spirited, and feisty.

Think of Andrey Hepburn’s black Chapeau du Martin in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).  Faye Dunaway’s signature beret in Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Diane Keaton’s big-brimmed bowler in “Annie Hall” (1977).

Over the decades hats have made a slow descent from their peak in the late 1920’s. The usual explanation for the decline is associated with the introduction of public transit and cars. These vehicles offered protection against inclement weather patterns. Hats were no longer required to keep people warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Join Sarah and me as we recite Sara Teasdale’s poem “Moonlight.”

It will not hurt me when I am old,
     A running tide where moonlight burned
          Will not sting me like silver snakes;
The years will make me sad and cold,
          It is the happy heart that breaks.

The heart asks more than life can give,
     When that is learned, then all is learned;
          The waves break fold on jewelled fold,
But beauty itself is fugitive,
          It will not hurt me when I am old.

This poem is in the public domain.

Moonlight is a short lyrical poem that uses various literary devices to depict the sorrows of a troubled youth. It expresses a feeling of resignation in the face of grievous feelings caused by betrayal in friendship and love. The poem is a short one with a poignant appeal. It speaks of the knowledge that the “heart asks more than life can give” and that “beauty itself is fugitive”. It also speaks of the understanding and wisdom one obtains with age, which enables one to see life and its ways in true colours.

Celebrate National Hat Day on January 15th by wearing your favorite hat and telling the story behind it. Invite friends to join you in wearing their favorite hats and telling stories or challenge them to make their own hats. Give away hats to those who need them, or those who would appreciate the sentiment. Learn the history of different hats and share photos and videos of your hat collection on social media with the hashtag #NationalHatDay. National Hat Day is a fun and whimsical way to celebrate and enjoy.

S2 E20: Is There a Santa Claus?

December 24th Christmas Eve has arrived. 

With the last-minute shopping completed, we ready our hearts for this special evening anticipated since the beginning of December.  All the plans have been made, the gifts have been wrapped and the baking completed.

All of December has been in anticipation of Christmas Day.  And yet, as I look back, it was Christmas Eve that held the magic.  The lights of the Christmas tree flickered, spreading a warmth around us as we sipped hot chocolate and waited for Santa Claus to arrive. 

Of course, Santa would come.

After all, he is one of the most ubiquitous figures in modern culture.  Consider that Santa travels the world in one night, which makes his sleigh the fastest and oldest high-speed zero-emission vehicle in the world.

And everyone knows, or should know, that Santa Claus is a Canadian citizen. Santa’s home at the North Pole lies in an area between Russia, Norway, Canada, the United States, and Denmark.  But it was Canada that declared that St. Nick is legally considered to be Canadian.  Indeed, it is official.  Santa and his partner Mrs. Claus have been issued Canadian passports and a postal code H0H 0H0.  Every December 24th, Mrs. Claus ensures that Santa has his passport with him when he leaves the North Pole.

Santa Claus has been with us for many centuries and is steeped in the heart of Christmas traditions. Known as Saint Nicholas or Kris Kringle, Santa’s story goes back into the third century when Saint Nicholas walked among us and became the patron saint of children. Fast forward to the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe.  During the Protestant Reformation, St Nicholas retained his popularity, even when the veneration of saints waned.

In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore gave us the iconic “Twas the Night Before Christmas, that enlivens us with a description of a jolly elf, who wore red, and delivers toys to good girls and boys on Christmas Eve.

Is Santa real? Of course, he is!

There is reliable confirmation that dates to 1897, when eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote her famous letter.

You may recall that it all began when Virginia asked her father, Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, whether there really was a Santa Claus.  Her father’s answer was brilliant.  Instead of responding himself, he suggested that she write direct to The Sun, one of New York’s most prominent newspapers at the time.  He assured her that “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.”

Virginia received a response from veteran newsman, Francis Pharcellus Church, a lead editorial writer for the New York Sun. Francis Church, who had seen great suffering as a war correspondent during the American Civil War, was a known skeptic, hardened cynic who had little tolerance for superstitious beliefs.  And yet, he recognized the need for hope and faith in society.  Perhaps it is when we see sorrow and grief, we are more able to answer a call for affirmation in the goodness of life.  For that is what Virginia looked for when she asked whether there is a Santa Claus.

More than a century later, the article written by Francis Church still maintains it standing as the most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

Join me as I read Francis Church’s most famous editorial written in 1897 – Is there a Santa Clause?

Dear friends, may the joy of Christmas Eve surround you and yours, with love, warmth, and wonder.  Together, may we embrace hope and expectation as we enter a new year.  

From our house to yours, A Merry Christmas and all the very best of the Holiday Season. 

Celebrating World Poetry Day with Carrie Williams Clifford Rebecca's Reading Room

S2 E19 We Will Remember Them

On November 11th, Canada observes Remembrance Day.  

Today, we will remember the members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Across Canada, there will be a moment of silence at the 11th hour.  In the year 1918, WWI hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”

I am wearing a red poppy, which is the Canadian symbol of Remembrance Day based on the poem “In Flanders Fields.”

On May 3, 1915, Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was moved to write the poem after he presided over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier, Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle Ypres. 

In Flanders Fields by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

May we all continue to seek peaceful solutions…together.

A Poppy of Remembrance

We Will Remember Them Rebecca's Reading Room