Traffic safety and the holidays


When we were traveling through South Dakota, Roger and I kept seeing “Think!” signs periodically on the sides of the roads. These signs designate places where there have been fatal vehicle accidents. The program was established in 1979, and it served as a constant reminder to us about driving safety.

Roadtrafficsigns.comis a website that has the clever poster above that details some of the traffic safety signs people need to think about as they are driving at the holidays, or any time. For example, the Deer Crossing sign is important because there are 500,000 accidents involving deer each year.

Something to think about.

Collectible #4- Holiday Barbie Series

Original 1988 Happy Holiday Barbie

Continuing on the topic of collectibles, I thought I must include one of the perennial favorites, Mattel’s Barbie.  Barbie has been around for a long time, but she has only had a Christmas line for the last 25 years.  In 1988 Mattel created the Happy Holiday Barbie.  The marketers imagined her as a must-have holiday gift for ever little girl.  Little did they expect that many, thousands actually, happy adults also wished to snatch her up as a collectible.  Supply did not meet demand and a new “market” was born.  She is now known as the first collectible Barbie.  Mattel altered the design model and create the new Happy Holiday Barbie collectible series.  That original Happy Holiday Barbie can still be found on eBay and other online sites with prices varied between $80 and $375.  The series stayed as the Happy Holiday Barbie through 1998.  In 1999 the series changed and the dolls took on new monikers each holiday season.  In 1999 we met the Millenium Princess Barbie.  She was available in traditional style, African-American, and as a brunette, named Teresa.  The next 12 years added many titles and names for the annual doll.  Designer gowns made of luxurious and varied fabrics and colors became part of the draw to collectors.  Special accessories and boxes became part of the holiday design too.  The year 2012 brings the 25th version of the holiday Barbie.  She returns to a Christmas red dress and will be known as simply Holiday Barbie.  The cost for this doll will be just under $50!

2012 Holiday Barbie


If you are looking for other (and more affordable) ways to make Barbie part of your holiday collecting you’re set too.  There is a second series of holiday dolls known as the Holiday Grocery Store Barbies.  These are much more affordable and simple pink box dolls (pink box is some type of denotation for level of the doll that I’m not sure I understand).  These dolls began in 1993 and buyers are urged to collect them all and use them to help decorate for the season.  1993 also was the year Mattel began selling Barbie ornaments.  These ornaments are an annual must have for the collector since the offerings are always for that year only.  There have been more than 100 designs in the ornament collection over the years.  If you are like some lovers of all things Barbie you might be inspired to create a Barbie Christmas tree to showcase all your ornaments!

Trail of Painted Ponies Holiday Collectible


Roger and I were in Hill City, South Dakota when I saw my first Trail of Ponies figurine. The approximately 8-inch figurine was painted with a Christmas theme, and the tag had a description of the featured artist.

In my research I discovered that these art ponies are as big or bigger than the Beanie Baby crazy of the mid 90’s. The idea started with a public art project in New Mexico where almost life-sized horses were painted by local artists and then auctioned. Following this came the figurines in 2002. All of the ponies are limited edition and are signed and numbered. When one of the collectible horses retires, it is put out to pasture. Check out the official website for more details. official website

These ponies are sold as figurines, hanging ornaments and more. I imagine that starting a collection for the holidays or giving the collectible to a horse-lover would be fun!

Christmas Bucket List

This morning I was trying to decide what I wanted to post about today.  I had a lot of ideas but then as I was working in the yard I had a new idea.  Bucket List!  Natalie and I have been talking about our love and excitement for Christmas now for 6 months.  We’ve talked and written a lot about what we do, we like, we know, and we wish.  But what about our dream to do list for Christmas, you know, a Christmas Bucket List?  I will be challenging Natalie to create said list as soon as she returns from her journeys.  This will be our dream list of the Christmas things we hope to do in our lifetime.  Here’s my first one…

Visit St. Peter’s Basilica for Christmas mass.  St. Peter’s is the largest Christian church in the world and a center of Catholicism.  It covers 5.7 acres and can seat thousands.  It took 120 years to build and is sadi to be the burial site for the apostle Peter, its namesake.  With all that space getting in would be easy, right?  Just get to Rome and make your way to the church and wait in line.  Nope!  It is like a quest from the crusades to find out how to get the elusive Christmas tickets for a Papal mass.  Now if you want to go for a regular mass at the Basilica, Pope or no Pope, there are daily masses at 8:30, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 and 5:00.  On Sunday you can choose between 9:00, 10:30, 11:30, 12:15, 1:00, 4:00, 5:00 and 5:45. If you want confession, that’s daily.  To get these tickets, according to a site for visitors, you just go to St. Pete’s Square and find the bronze doors to the Apostolic Palace and request tickets from the Swiss Guard.  I wonder if there is a password needed?!  The site directs readers that wish Christmas or Easter mass tickets to go to the site for the Church of Santa Susanna, the home of the American Catholic Church in Rome.  But if you read closely on that site they let you know in no uncertain terms that they cannot help you with tickets for Christmas or Easter because “having to sit and tell people that they are not going to Saint Peter’s and experiencing their hurt and anger is just too much for us”.  They do let you know that your best hope is to contact the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan at the Bishop’s Office for U.S. Visitors , Office of the Vatican in Rome.  You may make your request by fax or email.  Don’t expect a reply to or conformation of your request, there are simply too many!  So how will I be able to know that I can get these tickets for my trip?  Plan far in advance and pray, pray a lot!


Podcast #25- 181 Days to Go!

Podcast #25- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Halfway there!

We are remote again this week- it’s challenging to keep close to home in the summertime.  We continue our discussion about Christmas collecting.  Nativity scenes, Rudolph, antique glass, Santas, salt and pepper shakers, and even broken ornaments make our chat.  We also discuss some of the more unique collector groups out there- you know there’s a group for everything, right?

Today also is Yesterday was the 6 month mark for the countdown to Christmas 2012!  Celebrate the milestone anyway you like.  A good friend of mine shared she was enjoying a glass of wine on the deck and listening to Bing Crosby holiday tunes.  What unique traditions do you have to mark time until Christmas?  Natalie and I are still working on our Christmas in July party to mark the progress to the big day!


Secret #6 for the Perfect Christmas

Remember that on the 25th of each month we will be revealing one of our secrets for the perfect Christmas in 2012.  Today we share secret #6- It doesn’t have to go your way.

This secret is pretty simple to grasp.  Things don’t have to be ideal for Christmas to be great.  We can so easily get bogged down with what didn’t work out or happen the way we expected that we don’t enjoy what actually happens.  So what if you couldn’t find exactly the gift you thought would be best, or couldn’t get the tickets to the must see concert, or couldn’t get to where you wanted to be a the exact time.  Embrace the season.  Enjoy the spirit of the holidays.  The most heart warming tales we love to read, hear, or see at the holidays almost all have things not going the right way as a common element.  Rudolph- definitely not what he thought his Christmas would be, Santa too that night.  Charlie Brown- he was certainly not enjoying how things were going at that Christmas Pageant.  All the Lifetime and Hallmark TV movies definitely have the plot focused on something gone wrong or unexpected.  Again I go back to Kevin in the movie Home Alone– little guy left behind by his family and he makes it work.  If we stop and think about the original Christmas we see that things for Mary and Joseph most definitely were not going their way.  I’m sure they did not plan to stay in a stable and Mary to give birth in a stall.  Cherish what happens and use your spirit and energy to make the best of it!

* Today also marks the 6 month point of our countdown.  Half a year gone!  We start all our podcasts with the phrase that “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” and lately the weather has certainly not been what we think looks like it.  I was thinking today that this 90 degree weather and times at the shore is probably exactly what Christmas looks like for lots of people.  Think of the holiday in Australia- right when it’s warm and schools are on holiday.  I imagine the nostalgic imagines of a family Christmas might include the beach, cookouts, and time in the water if you were from down under.  So I will embrace this summer heat and think of how Christmas would be if the hemispheres were reversed and today’s weather was what I got on Christmas morning.  It is also giving me lots of ideas for our Christmas in July party coming up soon!

Ornament trees with a vacation theme


Speaking of collecting, how about an entire tree with one theme? I admit that I have so many ornaments with personal history that I would struggle to keep it simple.

This tree, though, at a store in Garretson, South Dakota, is decorated with a wild bird theme, which I love because it is winter and Christmas.

I have been doing a lot of hiking and camping in the summer, and it would be fun to do a tree with an outdoor theme. I could include a big horn sheep ornament, a tent ornament, symbols of states we visited and more. I could even make picture ornaments of the trip!!

In fact, it would make souvenir shopping more interesting, too.

I have a friend who likes everything related to fishing, and their tree is full of conversation starters–and finding a gift for someone who is a collector is fun, too.