“Call Me Maybe” and “Gangnam Style” Christmas Light Shows

20121209-013316.jpgHow much did you budget this year for your electricity bill? Just wondering.

My sister, Susan, showed me several lip sync versions of “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen this summer–the Naval Academy, the US Olympic Swim Team, and more. This latest in lawn ornamentation, though, is unreal. The house and yard lights are synchronized to match the music. It makes the Griswold’s efforts look lame. Here’s a YouTube video of a house in Chesapeake, VA, and the Holt Family has a website gives directions. Their light show is synchronized to not one, but four, songs–including “Gangnam Style.”

As if this wasn’t enough. There are two houses that have synchronized lights to “Call Me Maybe.” The second one is equally amazing. Michael Rosenwald’s Washington Post blog reported that a Bel Air, Maryland man has set up 10,000 lights in homage to the pop hit.

Finally, check out this house in Perth, Australia. According to “The 12 Days of ‘Gangnam Style Christmas Light Displays,” the house was shut down after only three days because of the crowds it was attracting. The same article has several links to “Gangnam Style” light shows. I guess you can spend all night watching the videos on YouTube and skip the cold and the crowds.

Black Friday- 2012

You’ve seen the ads, read the posts, and made your decision on this crazy annual transition to the holiday season.  Today was Black Friday 2012.  (well, I guess it technically started on Thursday night this year).  If you have been reading and following the Yule Log then you are familiar with our thoughts and ideas about this uniquely American tradition.  Natalie again posted yesterday promising her manifesto on the subject.  She was home busy cleaning the fridge last night (and nothing says Christmas like clean fruit and veggie drawers).  No cleaning projects for me, I was out in the madness of the moment.  Black Friday has become one of those annual experiences for me.  It just has to be done.  I have gone for years with family, but distance and other factors now let’s me go with new friends.  This year I dragged along my good friend Allie.  It was her first time and we did plenty of prep to be sure she was ready.  Flyers scanned and labeled.  Lists made.  Budget set.  Comfy shoes and snacks on hand.  Apps loaded.  Let me share our play-by-play of the grand adventure:

We began at my house at 7:00 PM.  After some quick strategizing and sharing plans we set out.  First stop was Michael’s for their 30% off everything coupon offering.  Next we headed to Wal-Mart for what they called “Event 1”, the 8 PM deals.  We got in and out by 8:20!  Next we darted cross town to Toys R Us.  Toys and bargains in hand we jumped into our first snaking line of the night.  Christmas luck shined on us and we were directed to a new line that moved really fast.  Out of there and on to Target for some advertised bargains.  First bump in our night- the LONG line in electronics.  We bailed on that part of our quest and check-out in the front lines.  Then it was back to Wal-Mart for “Event 2” at 10 PM.  This was the new option for the mart of the big deals that were guaranteed.  With a TV, blu ray and HDMI cables in the cart we headed to check out.  Screeching halt to our progress as we hit the wall of guests waiting to pay.  The next 50 minutes was spent making new friends in the line and hearing other people’s stories about Black Friday glories from the past (and a weird tale of a worker’s illness). While in the slow line, Allie was finally allowed to use the bathroom too.  When we left Wal-Mart we still had time left to run to Sear’s before the midnight opening of Kohl’s.  Snagged some good deals on tools there and then headed to Kohl’s.

Finally it was actually Friday!  Black Friday for real, landed us in our first outside line of the night.  We queued up in the chilly night air and waited about 8 minutes for the doors to open. We divided and conquered this time.  We swarmed the store, got everything on our lists, and somehow were the first people to check out with our cashier.  Back to the car by 12:10!  On to Best Buy and the largest crowds so far.  The newly remodeled Frederick store threw me for a loop since I wasn’t familiar with the new store layout. We got out in decent time and once again had everything on our list.  By now Allie and I were ready for some food.  Where to go at 2 AM on a Friday?  IHOP of course!  Full of eggs, bacon, and hash browns we headed back to Sear’s for the 4 AM door busters.  While there we also did a short walk-through of the mall (no purchases).  After this my novice companion was starting to fade.  We went to Bsocov’s and Allie stayed in the car to “rest” a little.  I snatched up pillows, socks, and some good gifts for super cheap.  Had to stop at Home Depot next to get my 99 cent poinsettia plants.  Allie “rested” some more:)  The time was now after 5 AM and we were entering hour 10!  Allie was re-energized and we hit our last three stores.  Lowes had BOGO storage bins, a fire safe, and other gifts on the list.  Staples had a crazy deal on some needed school supplies, including Sharpies.   Last stop in Frederick was A.C. Moore for 40% off coupon use.  After a quick pit-stop at my house to unload the car we headed to Timonium for the Festival of Trees!.  We got there a little early so we made one last stop at Wal-Mart to grab the last of our deals- $4 fresh pine wreaths!

Black Friday 2012 was a total success!  Allie is now a veteran and we had a great time on our adventure.  Ending with the Festival of Trees was also really fun and we still had money left to buy some special treats there.  Looking forward to Black Friday 2013!  Who wants to join us?


Podcast #43- 34 Days to Go!

Podcast #43- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Tree Time!!

“A Christmas Greeting”

It’s finally here!  The 2012 Festival of Trees sponsored by the Kennedy Krieger Institute.  We have been talking, planning, and preparing for the festival for months.  Back in the summer when we created our Christmas bucket lists we added sponsoring a tree for the festival.  That dream has now come true. Today’s podcast was recorded yesterday at the Cow Palace on the Maryland State Fairgrounds.  After seven hours of tree decorating we discussed the festival, the trees and people we saw, and the whole experience.  Listen to hear about zombie trees, alcohol trees, Noah’s tree, a strawberry tree, and more.  We’ll be writing all this week about the Festival and our experiences.  Check-out the Yule Log’s facebook page to see lots of pictures from our day of decorating.

“I Spy Christmas”

Be sure to make your weekend plans to include the 2012 Festival of Trees.  Our 4-foot entry is titled “A Christmas Greeting” and is decorated with all hand-made ornaments constructed out of old Christmas cards.  Our 7-foot entry is titled “I Spy Christmas” and is a puzzle tree with hidden ornaments you can find by following the clues.  You can also see hundreds of other decorated trees, wreaths, gingerbread houses, and more decorations.  There are crafts, music, a carousel, pony rides, and trains.  Santa will be there and so should you.  Order you tickets in advance and save- go to festivaloftrees.kennedykrieger.org.

Planners Ready?

Today’s post is a simple reminder of upcoming holiday happenings.  Many of these have been mentioned earlier on the Yule Log.  Beginning this weekend, you can fill every Saturday and Sunday with special and unique fun and outings for you and the family.  This is a short, and in no way complete, list.  Make time in your plans to go!

Maryland Christmas Show– HUGE, two-weekend event.  Hosted at the Frederick Fairgrounds, opens tomorrow!
Westview Tree Lighting– 7 PM on 11/17 the center welcomes the season.
Nutcracker on Ice– Get your tickets now for this local favorite at the Columbia Ice Rink.
Gaylord Ice Display– Gaylord resort opens its seasonal ICE! feature tomorrow.  This amazing indoor ice display is themed with Shrek this year- fun for children of all ages. 
Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland– Adventure Park USA in New Market, MD opens this drive-through lights display on Monday, 11/19


Wreaths Across America

Podcast listener and long-time Yule Log fan, Denise, lives in Maine.  She contacted me early this morning to ask if I was familiar with the Wreaths Across America?

I’m so glad she shared the website and history of this beautiful tribute to our veterans.  We recently recognized our military forces on Veterans Day, but the Wreaths Across America program is a national effort to give tribute by placing wreaths on military graves throughout the country.

In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Owner Morrill Worcester, with the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arranged for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington Cemetery in one of the older sections of the cemetery where there were fewer visitors. As plans were underway, a number of other individuals and organizations stepped up to help. James Prout, owner of local trucking company Blue Bird Ranch, Inc., generously provided transportation all the way to Virginia. Volunteers from the local American Legion and VFW Posts gathered with members of the community to decorate each wreath with traditional red, hand-tied bows. Members of the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. helped to organize the wreath-laying, which included a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

There is  week-long “Veteran’s Parade” between Maine and Virginia where they stop along the way to spread the message about the importance of remembering our fallen heroes, honoring those who serve, and teaching our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedoms. Volunteer truckers and corporate donors support this Christmas miracle.  Denise told me that one of the stops on the parade was her daughter’s school.

This effort continued for many years without recognition or fanfare until 2005, when a photo of Arlington cemetery with the wreaths in the snow began circulating on the internet.  From there, a national effort was born.  Many people began to ask how they could become involved and honor the veterans buried in their local cemeteries.

All 50 states have become involved. There is an interactive map on the website that illustrates the current programs in all 50 states.  You can go on the website and sponsor a single wreath for $15 or get a group together to make a “small business” sponsorship (10) or a “corporate sponsorship” (100).

My description in this post does not capture the significance of this effort, whose motto is “Remember, Honor, Teach.”  It’s not too late for your family, church, organization, or corporation to get involved.  Wreaths Across America Day is Saturday, December 15, 2012.

Podcast #41- 47 Days to go!

Podcast #41- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Practice Trees!

Today Natalie and I hosted a small gathering to do a practice decorating of our tree entries for the Kennedy Krieger Festival of Trees.  Shirley, Beth , and Shawn joined us for lunch and a “dry-run”.  Listen as we recap the weeks and share thoughts about our trees and the holidays with our guests.  Be sure to plan now to see our trees in person.  We have our 4-foot entry decorated completely with items made from recycled Christmas cards.  We also have a 7-foot tree decorated in an I-Spy theme- quite a challenge to find the hidden objects!  Check out the Festival website to order your tickets and save a little on admission.  See you at the Cow Palace!

Christmastime in Frederick

As I turned the corner on South Market Street last night I had my first truly excited intake of air as I saw a sing of Christmas.  The first of the downtown trees here in Frederick was all lit up with white Christmas lights.  The sight of this little piece of a city tradition brought a big smile to my face and warmed my heart a little.  Here in downtown Frederick there are many wonderful Christmas traditions, activities, and decorations.  My absolute favorite is the stringing of the small white lights on all of the trees along Market & Patrick Street.  The City public works staff tend to the hanging and maintenance of the over 250,000 lights.  They are powered through volunteer owners of downtown properties.  Winter 2011 was very hard on the lights and many needed to be replaced last December.  There was no city money to help with this cause and the residents of Frederick rallied together to raise over $50,000 to replace and modernize the lights.  (Read the Gazette coverage of the lights from 2011)  The lights give downtown a warm and happy holiday glow.  I can’t imagine downtown Frederick without the lights at Christmas.

There are many other wonderful Holiday traditions and activities here in Frederick.  I plan to share as many of these as possible with you this holiday season.  To help you plan ahead check out the Celebrate Frederick website.  I plan to be at the Festival of Light on November 30 to get me in a Frederick Christmas mood.  You can also check out the listing of Frederick happenings on About.com’s Washington area events listing.  I am hoping Natalie will get to the Messiah sing-a-long!