The Story Behind the 12 Days of Christmas Song

Just about everyone knows the Christmas standard, The Twelve Days Of Christmas, but do you know the fiction and the facts regarding this song?

I’m the kind of person who likes to dig for facts about things. The origin of a creative work is of great interest to me. I hope it is for you too.

In 1995, an essay entitled An Underground Catechism was posted by Father Hal Stockert on the online Catholic Information Network.

Purporting to be the truth behind the popular song The Twelve Days of Christmas, the article resulted in a storm of controversy and was subsequently found to be not historically accurate, resulting in the article being withdrawn.

A few years ago, the article was published again and amended to read:

It has come to our attention that this tale is made up of both fact and fiction. Hopefully it will be accepted in the spirit it was written—as an encouragement to people to keep their faith alive, when it is easy, and also when any outward expressions of their faith could mean their life. Today there are still people living under similar conditions, may this tale give them courage, and determination to use any creative means at their disposal to keep their faith alive.

The essay by Father Stockert has been debunked by many people on the Internet through the years. As a Christian, I wish Father Stockert had posted the essay as his interpretation of the significance of the numbers from one to twelve, symbolic of the religious significance of the twelve days between Christmas Day and Epiphany, January 6, when the three wise men arrived to pay homage to the Christ child.


The True History of The 12 Days of Christmas Carol

The Twelve Days of Christmas is an English Christmas carol that enumerates a series of gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas. Although first published in England in 1780, the song may be French in origin.

The song, whose specific origins are obviously unknown, may have begun as a Twelfth Night “memories and forfeits” game. A leader would recite a verse, each of the players repeat the verse, then the leader would add another verse, etc. until a player would make a mistake. The player who messed up the verses would have to pay a penalty, or forfeit, such as a kiss or a sweet.

The 12 days in the song are the 12 days starting Christmas Day. In some traditions, the first day is the day after Christmas, December 26, commonly called Boxing Day in England. (This day is also known as St. Stephen’s Day, the feast day of St. Stephen Protomartyr.) The 12th day is the day before Epiphany, or the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6.

Twelfth Night is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking.”

In 1910, the song came to the United States, courtesy of Emily Brown, of the Downer Teacher’s College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who had found the song in an English music store. She is said to have used the song for the school Christmas pageant.

This Christmas, I’d like to share with you Father Stockert’s essay. One can only assume that he must have come by this explanation of the song at some point in his life and thought it to be the true record of the song’s history.

Whether you find it spiritually rewarding or just a footnote as another Internet urban myth debunked, at least you’ll be entertained and learn the true history of the song, along with a little world history and Christian history in the bargain.

Quoting from Father Stockert’s Essay

To most, the Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, is a nonsense rhyme set to music, but it’s more than just a repetitious melody about a bunch of strange gifts.

From 1558 to 1829, after Henry VIII abolished Catholicism and established the Church of England in order to facilitate and legalize his marriage to Anne Boleyn, Catholics in England were banned from any private or public practice of their faith. It was a crime to be a Catholic.

The Twelve Days of Christmas was written as a catechism song to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith. A memory aid was necessary since to be caught with anything in writing that indicated adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned but also could get you hanged or beheaded.

The gifts mentioned in the song had hidden meanings. The true love mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The me who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ’s sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so….”

The symbolism of the song in its entirety:

Day 1—A Partridge in a Pear Tree is Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

Day 2—2 Turtle Doves represent the Old and New Testaments.

Day 3—3 French Hens are Faith, Hope and Love, the Theological Virtues.

Day 4—4 Calling Birds are the 4 Gospels and/or the 4 Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Originally this was a colly bird. Colly means black as coal so a colly bird was probably a black bird.

Day 5—5 Golden Rings are the first 5 Books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy which give the history of man’s fall from grace. Originally this was a gold-ringed pheasant, another bird which re-establishes the first seven verses as being birds.

Day 6—6 Geese A-laying represent the 6 Days of Creation.

Day 7—7 Swans A-swimming are the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the 7 Sacraments: Prophecy, Ministry, Teaching, Exhortation, Giving, Leading, and Compassion.

Day 8—8 Maids A-milking are the 8 Beatitudes. "Blessed are: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake."

Day 9—9 Ladies Dancing are the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.

Day 10—10 Lords A-leaping are the 10 Commandments.

Day 11—11 Pipers Piping are the 11 Faithful Apostles: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James bar Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas bar James. The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans.

Day 12—12 Drummers Drumming are the 12 Points of Doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed:
  1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
  2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
  3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
  4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell (the grave).
  5. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
  6. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
  7. I believe in the Holy Spirit
  8. the holy catholic (universal) Church
  9. the communion of saints
  10. the forgiveness of sins
  11. the resurrection of the body
  12. and life everlasting.
Takeaway Truth

There you have it—the fact and the fiction of this popular Christmas song.

Saturday Share: Recipe, Christmas Cherry Dessert

If you like to serve dessert for holiday dinners, here's one that's a time saver because it's a dump cake and so easy to make.

Since it's also decadently rich and yummy, it's perfect for a holiday meal.

Christmas Cherry PDessert

I call this dessert a pie-cake because it’s like a delicious cherry pie, but it's not really a pie.

I use Comstock brand of cherry pie filling. There are other varieties and maybe some regional products for you. Choose one you like.

Served warm from the oven for a holiday meal, it's perfect by itself, or served à la mode with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on top.

Your guests will love it. Serves 12-16.

Ingredients
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 1 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple in juice
  • 1 can of Cherry Pie Filling (I tried a new organic product. The cherries might be organic, but it's got so much "filler" in it that it's like paste in my opinion.)
  • 1 stick of butter, cut in slices

Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a 13x9x2 sheet cake pan or a pretty casserole dish.
  • Dump the undrained crushed pineapple into the pan and spread evenly over the bottom.
  • Spoon the pie filling over the pineapple and spread it as evenly as possible.
  • Sprinkle the box of dry cake mix over the layers and spread it out evenly.
  •  Place the pieces of butter around the top.
  • Bake for 48-53 minutes.
  • Serve warm or cooled.
Need a Break

Want some time away from Holiday planning, shopping, and cooking?

Try Stuck on the Naughty List, my new short story holiday romance. Just the right size for a satisfying read when you have a little leisure time.

Can the new Chief of Police be the perfect man to mend Cassie's broken heart?

Only 99cents and a perfect romance for the 

Takeaway Truth

Have fun cooking for the holidays. There's something warm and inviting about a kitchen full of family and friends and with delicious aromas wafting through the air.

Indie Publishing Tip #1: Amazon Product Description

I'm resting after cleaning out 1 drawer of my file cabinet.
I'm cleaning out files, preparing for some big changes in life.

I'm proud that I threw away an entire kitchen-sized trash bag full of clippings and other papers.

Still, I'm finding information I've saved and/or information I've written about in years past.

Often I think everyone knows what I know—what I've learned in the writing and publishing business, but I guess that's not true.

After all, I've been around for a while, working in the trenches. I decided to start passing these tidbits of information along. The info is about realizations that I've had, the random ideas about how something works, or a shortcut way of doing something.

These posts won't be in any kind of order or subject matter. The title of the post will say it all. I'll just lift a paper from the stack on my credenza and post about it. Once committed to text, I'll toss the notepaper away. Just to keep everything straight, I'll number the tips in the various categories so I don't repeat myself.

Indie Publishing Tip #1: Amazon Product Description

Amazon truncates the Product Description of everything it sells. Look at anything from widgets to books, and you will see only a sentence or two appears unless you click Read More.

Only the first 120 words of the Product Description appears without clicking those two words.

If that 120 words doesn't make an impact on the reader, chances are the reader/shopper won't click Read More.

Use those 120 words to wow the reader.

Those first words are where you want the powerful tagline about the book, or some critical information.

You want the reader to immediately click Buy Now, or at least click Read More.

Takeaway Truth

Always use those first 120 words to hook the reader.

Be Cautious Using Public WiFi

Scammers can easily get into public WiFi accounts and access information you've sent and received.

If you need to use your phone, it's smarter to use your phone's cellular data rather than the public WiFi.

If you need to use a laptop, use your cell to create a personal hot spot for internet access.

If there's no other way to go, and you feel you must use public WiFi, install a VPN, virtual private network on your devices. Just Google "VPN services," and you'll find several like Hotspot Shield, NordVPN, or others which can encrypt your data.

Takeaway Truth

It's far better to be conservative and cautious than to assume everything is safe.

7 Best Black Friday Specials

Shoppers, start clicking those keys. It's Black Friday!

This is the day we do most of our Christmas shopping.

I find myself buying more convenience items, safety things, techie stuff, and time savers every year.

I've got some things that I think are pretty neat so I'll share them with you. Maybe you'll like them too.

Before I get to the techie things, be sure to check into all the ebook specials, blog giveaways like the one on Romance Gems that starts Sunday, Dec. 1.

There are hundreds of ebooks at bargain prices in December and special events on many group blogs so enter all those giveaways and discover new authors.

In fact, if you're a voracious reader, try a subscription to Kindle Unlimited for yourself. (Most of my books are on Kindle Unlimited.) You get unlimited reading and music on any device. By the way, this makes a great gift for a friend.

Advisory

The products below were listed at the prices I posted, but those deals may have expired. Check the price before you checkout in case it has re-priced. Make sure the price showing on the product is one you're willing to pay before you check out.

My Black Friday Selection of great Deals

RFID Blocking Travel Passport Holder Neck Pouch Wallet for Men & Women

If you have someone who travels internationally, this passport holder on a neck strap is just the thing—especially since it's also RFID Blocking.

It's lightweight breathable, and water-resistant, and it provides a safe and secure way to manage your valuables, bank cards, passport, ID cards, etc.

I know there have been plenty of times I could have used something like this. It's only $9.99 and comes in 7 colors.

Car Jump Starter, officially called GOOLOO 800A Peak 18000mAh SuperSafe Car Jump Starter with USB Quick Charge 3.0 (Up to 7.0L Gas or 5.5L Diesel Engine), 12V Portable Power Pack Auto Battery Booster Phone Charger Built-in LED Light

OMG! I have had some times in my life when I wish I'd had this device. It seems if a battery fails here in Texas, it's always on the hottest day of the year and when you're miles from a repair shop!

Unbelievably, this device has enough power to jump start most 12 volt vehicles on the road—gasoline or diesel—cars, motorcycles, watercrafts, ATVs, UTVs, SUVs, lawn mowers, yachts, boat, pickup,snowmobiles, etc. Fully charges in 5 hours and can hold a charge for more than 3 months.

Read all details on the charger's webpage. Charging is fast and efficient – helping you save time.

When I shopped this item was $44.99 with the regular price being $69.99. It's a fast-moving deal so make sure you're willing to pay whatever price is shown.

Photo and Video Printer for iPhone and Android.

A professional photographer once told me that future generations won't have albums of old photographs to show their children and grandchildren because everyone takes pictures with cell phones and most don't back them up on computer and rarely print them.

I realized she was right. This Photo and Video Printer for cell phones is amazing. It's like magic which is why it's branded a Harry Potter Magic Photo and Video Printer for iPhone and Android.

Harry Potter fans will love this. 3 x 3 sticky backed, zero Ink film, and all photos are ‘sticky backed’ so you can decorate your room or schoolbooks with your most cherished memories. 
 
Choose your own House too. Details on the product page, and it's a Black Friday price of $49.99 when I looked at it. Your Photos Come to Life Like Magic!

Amazon Fire TV Sticks

These little devices are priceless.

Cut the cable and the satellite dishes and go to online streaming with a Fire TV Stick. It's the easiest device I've ever connected.

You can download tons of free apps from your local tv stations websites to Amazon Prime Music, Pandora Music, Spotify, Prime Video Streaming, Hulu, Cheddar, and probably hundreds more.

You can get one with Alexa remote for only $19.99. I'll confess. We actually have 5 (we have a house in the country and one in Houston), but you can buy just one and move it from TV to TV.

Better yet, you can take it with you when you travel, plug it into the TV in your hotel room, login to your favorite apps, and watch what you choose to watch without paying an extra dime.

All-new Kindle - Now with a Built-in Front Light - Black - Includes Special Offers (That means ads appear when you power it on.)

This is a great deal. Kindles are my choice for reading. Yes, I can do it on my cell phone, but you can't see a cell phone in bright sunlight. You can read a Kindle at the beach! Sunshine doesn't wash it out. Carry hundreds of books in a Kindle. My first one lasted 8 years before dying. I dropped it on cement. I immediately bought another.

It's just easier to read on a Kindle, especially in bed when your spouse is trying to sleep. The built-in light doesn't have to be re-positioned constantly the way a book light on a print book requires. No sound of pages turning either. Black Friday price is only $59.99. Normally $89.99.

There are bundled items like Ring Doorbells and Echo Dots, Echo Shows and Smart Plugs, or just Smart Plugs alone would be great gifts.  (Some use WiFi; some don't. Some work with Alexa and others with the Google device.)

 I would be remiss if I didn't mention a kitchen appliance. I've given electric pressure cookers to all the kids, but I'll list one here in case you don't have one yet. They're such bargains on Black Friday.

6 Quart Instant Pot for only $89.99. Instant Pot Smart WiFi 8-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Saute, Yogurt Maker, Cake Maker, and Warmer|6 Quart|13 One-Touch Programs

I have an Instant Pot, and I use it about 3 times a week. In my opinion, it's the perfect kitchen appliance because it takes the place of a slow cooker, a steamer, a rice cooker, a yogurt maker, etc.

(Yes, I make my own yogurt because then I know it hasn't got a bunch of gelatin, thickeners, and flavorings I don't want.)

Sunbeam Programmable Bread Machine

I've bought 2 of these for myself—1 for our house in the country and 1 for our house in town. I've also given the kids a bread machine. Our oldest bread machine is more than 10 years old. Our newest is 3 years old.

We make at least 1 loaf a week, sometimes 2-3 depending on whether we have company. The bread is absolutely delicious. Making bread is easy with a bread machine. Just follow the instructions, and you get a beautiful, aromatic loaf of the best bread you've ever eaten.

We haven't bought a loaf of bread in over 3 years because we watched a documentary on bread. Homemade bread has 6 ingredients. Commercial bread bought at a store has 32 ingredients, only 6 of which are what is needed to make bread. The other 26 ingredients are chemicals I don't want in what I eat.

Currently they are $49.59, reduced from $77.55. Check price before you checkout in case they've changed the price.

Takeaway Truth

Have fun shopping!

Food for Thought at Thanksgiving

Wherever you are today, give thanks for:
  • all those you love
  • all those who love you
  • the blessings of liberty
  • your health even if you have some problems, you're still above ground
  • your spouse or significant other
  • your children if you're lucky enough to have some
  • your pets who love you unconditionally
  • your job even though it may suck at times
  • the roof over your head
  • the vehicle you drive
  • the warm clothes you have for winter
  • the heat in your home
  • and so many other things you take for granted.
Takeaway Truth

So many in our world are homeless and without the means of caring for themselves and others. Many have lost hope.

Tomorrow on Black Friday when you're trolling the malls or online, take a moment to make a charitable contribution to help someone in need.

Thanksgiving Share: Cranberry-Orange Relish

The marathon of cooking and baking has started for tomorrow is our annual feast day that we call Thanksgiving.

A lot of people give thanks for Tums, Gaviscon, etc. after indulging in the annual turkey, dressing, ham, yams, and more side dishes than should be legal.

And I haven't even mentioned desserts!

Every year I make a fresh cranberry and orange relish instead of buying the stuff in a can.

Cranberries-957583_1920, by Alexey Hulsov, Pixabay
The family loves this relish—I do too—and it's super easy to make. The tartness of the cranberries and the citrus scent and taste of the navel orange which is used skin and all make this almost like a palate cleanser. It's refreshing.

Joan's Cranberry-Orange Relish

Ingredients
1 large navel orange, do not peel
1 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries
1/2 to 1 cup of sugar

Directions
(1) Wash the cranberries, picking out any squishy ones.
(2) Place in a colander and shake out excess water.
(3) Wash and dry the navel orange.
(4) Cut the orange into cubes and place in a food processor
(5) Pulse on high until it's cut into tiny pieces. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and pulse again.
Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter, Pixabay
(6) Add all of the cranberries and pulse until it looks like ground nuts. Add 1/4 cup of sugar, pulse, and taste.
(7) If it's sweet enough, stop now. If the cranberries and orange were really tart, you may have to add another 1/4 cup of sugar. If you do, pulse to combine all.
(8) Place in a covered container and refrigerate.

That's all there is to this super easy, fresh fruit relish.

Takeaway Truth

If you have any left over, use it to make Cranberry Orange Muffins! Absolutely delicious.

Why Thanksgiving Is a National Holiday

Yes, the Pilgrims gave thanks for surviving in the New World, but without Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer and editor, that first Thanksgiving would probably just a footnote in history.

Sarah Hale was the woman who convinced President Abraham Lincoln to officially declare Thanksgiving as a national holiday every year.

She had lobbied for years to have the sitting president declare a national holiday of Thanksgiving. She wrote numerous articles and letters to persuade the president to make Thanksgiving a federal holiday. She thought it would unify the Northern and Southern states before tensions and divisiveness became war.

Unfortunately, war did break out, but that didn't stop her from continuing to write letters to the president. Her last letter was written in 1863, and a week later, President Lincoln wrote a proclamation declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Sarah Josepha Hale for persisting in her belief that a day of thanksgiving would be a good thing for a country divided.

Mrs. Hale who founded the American Ladies Magazine, a periodical that promoted women's issues long before the suffrage movement, contributed a piece of writing that most children have learned for the last couple of hundred years.

She was the author of the children's poem, Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Takeaway Truth

Thank you, Sarah Josepha Hale, for both of your contributions to our country.

Defeat Porch Pirates

The holidays are just around the corner. Time to get ready for the porch pirates!

I was chatting with someone in a nearby subdivision that has become the happy hunting ground for porch pirates.

She had an expensive item go missing and was furious because tracking showed it as delivered.

When the post office told her it had been delivered, she thought the delivery person had stolen it. Everyone who commented on her post held the same opinion. It was delivery personnel but porch pirates. Unfortunately, her subdivision with its huge, beautifully-landscaped lots is perfect for stealing something without being seen by the homeowner or the neighbors.

I suggested she get a Ring Doorbell. My daughter has one. It's motion activated and chimes loudly without anyone actually pressing the doorbell.

There are many versions available, and they can connect to an Alexa device if you have one.

They're a relatively low-cost way to monitor what's happening at your front door. I like that my daughter can talk to someone at the door by simply saying, "Alexa, talk to the front door."

You don't have to have an Alexa. You can do the same thing with your phone, a tablet, or a computer.

It works on any home, with or without existing doorbell wires, and you can monitor your home in HD video with infrared night vision.

No matter where you might be, you can check on your property with Live View on-demand video.

I didn't know this, but it includes Lifetime Theft Protection. If your Ring Doorbell gets stolen, they'll replace it for free.

Takeaway Truth

Fortunately, I live in a gated community so that has not become a problem here, and I hope it doesn't. If it is a problem where you live, one of the Ring Doorbells is probably the best low-cost, effective solution.

Travel Insurance Is a Must

Last night on the 6 o'clock news, I saw a segment about a man who became ill while on a cruise to Mexico.

He and his wife disembarked and were taken to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with diabetes and treated for a kidney infection too.

Fast forward to his being well enough to be discharged. He was asked to pay his hospital bill so they could discharge him.

The only problem was that the bill was $14,000.00! Obviously, he didn't have that in his wallet or available on a credit card.

The man's story had a happy ending. The actor Tyler Perry heard about his plight and paid his hospital bill so he could go home to the U.S.

His wife summed up the experience by saying that anyone traveling should purchase Travel Insurance.

How To Get Travel Insurance

With that thought in mind, I looked into this issue. Obviously one of the problems is that the insurance contract is full of legalese that's so dense as to be impossible to understand. So how do you know what to buy and what it will cost?

Let's cut through the terminology and legalese.

1. Contact your health insurance provider and ask if you're covered for international medical bills. For instance, Medicare does not cover health problems if you're traveling outside the U.S. but some of the Medicare Advantage and Medigap policies do. You just have to ask them so you'll know.

2. If you find out your insurance doesn't cover you, then buy a travel policy that includes travel health coverage.

I found one source that recommended $100,000.00 in emergency medical coverage. If you're very conservative, you might want to up that to $300,000.00 in coverage so it would pay for a medical evacuation.

3. If you have a preexisting condition such as diabetes, joint problems, of some other chronic condition, be sure you get a preexisting condition waiver.

There is a bit of good news. If you're medically fit to travel when you buy your travel policy and you purchase the insurance with 2-3 weeks of making your first payment on the trip, the preexisting waiver is included.

4. Another good thing to get is Trip Cancellation Insurance.

Takeaway Truth

One never knows what might happen. Even the S.E.A.L. teams say that something always goes wrong with Plan A. Make the right kind of insurance your Plan B.

Saturday Share: Plan Your Thanksgiving Feast

Yep, you just learned your new in-laws are coming to Thanksgiving at your house!

Or maybe it's your uber critical mom or your boss or your hubby's boss—or both!

Don't panic.

There's a way to deal with the high-stress situation of providing a Thanksgiving feast that will amaze and delight everyone.

It's called Planning, and here's a step-by-step guide that you'll realize is just common sense and not something on the scale of the WWII D-Day invasion.

How to Plan a Great Thanksgiving Dinner
Sharing a Recipe for Success for Thanksgiving Dinner

1. Make an Event Planner on which you'll write down everything that must be done, step by step. This will be detailed in the steps that follow. Every day you will review your Event Planner.

2. Decide whether you're going to cook or order a ready-to-eat dinner from a restaurant or excellent supermarket. Or if you'll do a combination of both.

Who says a Thanksgiving Feast must be home-cooked? Not I. What's important is enjoying the day, and that means the food and the guests. So discuss it with your spouse/sig other and figure out what works for you.

If it's ordering everything or some things, then follow the next step.

3. Decide on the menu from appetizer to dessert to beverages. Write it out. Beside each item you list, make a note of how far in advance you can prepare and store the dish.

4. (a) If you're ordering some or all, place your order immediately. On your Event Planner, notate the day and time you must pick up the dishes and/or meal.

4. (b) If you're cooking some of dishes, add your Prep/Cook Schedule to the Event Planner so you know when you'll be prepping foods, cooking, and serving.

Decide on who will fill the water, tea, or wine glasses.

Refresh your memory of the recipe and start a Shopping List as you read.

If you're trying something new, make sure you know how to do the required procedures.

Make sure you write down the prep time and the cooking time for every dish so you can coordinate all dishes to be ready to serve at the same time.

If you're doing a turkey, know when you'll put it in a brine solution and what you must have for that. Plan for where you'll place it in the refrigerator or in an ice chest that's replenished regularly with ice.

5. Get your grocery shopping done as soon as possible, keeping in mind that you must have refrigerator shelf space available for storing produce and cold goods.

6. When will you clean the house and make the guest rooms ready? Add that to your Event Planner.

7. How will you serve your guests? Buffet? From dishes on the table? Set it up now, even to setting the dining table. Use place cards to avoid the, "where do I sit" conundrum. Cover everything with a king-size sheet to keep the dishes dust free.

8. Who will help you with your Event? Spouse? Children? Guests? Plan this in advance with specific tasks for each.

Always have something the guests can do because most people, especially women, will ask, "Is there anything I can do?"

9. Set out the serving dishes and platter on the kitchen table or long counter with the serving fork or spoon too.

Place a note that tells what goes in each dish so others won't be asking you where to put the gravy or the green beans.

10. When the turkey is resting before carving, you should be finishing up everything else. That's when you take a 10-15 minute break, all by yourself. This will give you a chance to check your Event Plan one last time and make sure you covered everything. Touch up your makeup, check your hairstyle, change clothes if necessary, and return to the kitchen.

11. Have the dishes and platters filled and carried to the sideboard or table. Have the glasses filled.

12. Be seated and indulge in a Thanksgiving tradition of holding hands around the table and saying grace and/or each person saying something for which they're grateful.

Takeaway Truth

Most of all, enjoy the day and the people who gather with you. Happy Thanksgiving.

Why Keep Writing?

Beginning a couple of weeks ago, I started questioning whether I wanted to throw in the towel, pull the pin, or any of those other phrases that describe retiring.

Darling Hubby is retired now, and I know he'd like me to do the same plus there are other considerations, which I won't share at this time, that make retirement seem inevitable.

Book royalties seem to keep declining, and authors everywhere are bemoaning the minuscule royalties most are earning.

Wisdom of Wiser Authors

I turned to what other authors had ti say about the pros and cons.

Norman Mailer said, "Writers don’t have lifestyles. They sit in little rooms and write."

That's true. I might be able to have a normal lifestyle if I didn't write.

Jim Murray said, "Learn to write. Never mind the damn statistics. If you like statistics, become a CPA."

I've usually ignored the depressing stats on book sales and who's making or not making a living wage.

I think your reality is what you make it to a great extent. If you think you'll be above the norm, then you probably will be.

Kingsley Amis said, "If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing."

*G* Yes, there are definitely some benefits in writing and making people who have "done you wrong" in some way the villain in a book. You, the author, may be the only one who knows, but that's a way of dealing with your own emotional baggage that helps.

Jessamyn West said, "Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment thereafter."

Hey, a "get out of jail free" card. Cool.

Of course, the bottom line is that I write because it brings me satisfaction and happiness.

It fulfills me on an elemental level. I've never been in it for the money because it's all a crap shoot. 

Takeaway Truth

My decision is easy. I'll retire when I don't have the desire to tell stories any more or when it doesn't "complete me."

Thursday3Some: 3 Cooking Gadgets for Thanksgiving

Good news for the Thanksgiving Chef of the household!

There are some great new gadgets to help you manage the preparation and cooking of your Thanksgiving Dinner this year.

Also good news—you still have plenty of time to order these gadgets and use them on the big cooking day ahead.

Here are 3 that I think are particularly appealing.

1. Norpro Reusable Turkey/Poultry Timer, only $14.95, Amazon Prime Free Delivery and Free Returns

For many cooks, knowing when a turkey is done is a difficult skill to master. This timer eliminates the guesswork and gives you the peace of mind of knowing you're not serving raw poultry!

he legs spring up when the internal temperature reaches a certain point that means the turkey is ready to serve.

This timer can be reused 300+ times. Just follow the instructions.


2. Dishwasher Magnet Clean Dirty Sign [Upgraded Metal Design]. $13.99. Amazon Prime and Free Returns.

This isn't precisely a cooking gadget, but it is used in the kitchen, and it addresses one of my pet peeves. Like all recent dishwashers, mine displays a "CLEAN" light when the cycle has finished. As soon as someone opens the dishwasher door to get something out then shuts the door, that "CLEAN" cycle light goes off. If the dishes stay inside the washer all day, there have been many times when my husband or I open it and play the guessing game of, "are they clean or dirty?"

Years ago, everyone had little magnets on the dishwasher doors. One side said clean and one side said dirty. Flip it over, and you know what the dishes inside were. Well, someone finally came out with a Sliding Indicator Reminder that's adhesive since so many of the so-called stainless steel dishwasher doors are really aluminum. Magnets won't stick, but Sticky Tab Adhesion works great.

3. OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler, $9.99. Amazon Prime and Free Returns.

I have one of these, and it really does take the work out of peeling potatoes, carrots, or any other vegetable. I hate peeling potatoes. That was one of my chores when I was a kid. I bet I've peeled bushels, and I had to do it with a paring knife.

It's amazing how a simple kitchen tool can take away the drudgery of prep work.

Takeaway Truth

Do you have your menu planned and the order of cooking listed? I'll give some tips on that Saturday along with a recipe.

Christmas Shopping? Techie Gift Ideas

If you're already Christmas shopping, are you looking for something a little different?

Maybe your kids or grandchildren are part of the on-the-go tech generation. They want gadgets and a way to power them.

Check out some of these devices that are extremely useful, desirable, and affordable.

Forget gift cards or writing a check. Give something they actually want and can use.

Try this selection of Gift Ideas that today's techie on-the-go generation will love.

1. mophie Wireless Charge Pad, Apple Optimized, 7.5W Qi Wireless Technology for Apple Iphone 11, Pro, Max, XR, XS Max, X/
XS, 8 and 8 Plus. Black. $29.99, and it's the Deal of the Day today on Amazon since it usually sells for more than $54.00!

4 hours left to grab it. Offers free returns if you don't like it. Be sure the price is still $29.99 because the clock is ticking.

2. Duracell Rechargeable Powerbank 10050 mAh - 3 day portable charge.

This device can deliver 3 extra charges to your cell phone, and it has safety features to keep it from over-charging, over-discharge, and over-heating.

$33.43, and it's Amazon Prime so if you're a subscriber, it's free shipping to you or your gift recipient.

3. FIXD OBD2 Professional Bluetooth Scan Tool & Code Reader for iPhone and Android.

At $59.99, this vehicle diagnostic code reader is a bit more expensive, but if you have a car, you'll want this. It works with iPhone and/or Android.

Darling Hubby received one last year—he's a car guy who likes to know what's wrong with his car before he takes it in for service!

This reads the computer code in your vehicle when that Check Engine Light goes on. He's used it on 2 of our vehicles and on 2 neighbors' vehicles. He loves it, and he's a guy who's hard to buy gifts for.

4. Dodow - Sleep Aid Device - More Than 500.000 Users are Falling Asleep Faster with Dodow!

I'll probably order this for myself. I'm the kind of person described in the product information. My mind is full of ideas, and I can't turn it off! I have such trouble falling asleep at night.

Dodow is a bit pricey at $59.80, but if it works, it's worth it. It's Amazon Prime which means, as a subscriber, I can return it (free returns!) if it doesn't help me fall asleep.

Takeaway Truth

Time is already slipping away. Better start shopping!

Review: The Great Raid

I've been waking up very early every morning. Not because I want to, but because I suddenly wake and lay there thinking about too many problems that have no ready solutions.

So I get up, turn on the coffee maker, grab a cup, and go upstairs to the media room.

I cruise around Netflix and Amazon Prime, looking for something interesting to watch because 3am is far too early to start writing.

On Netflix, I came across The Great Raid starring Benjamin Bratt and James Franco, directed by John Dahl, and released in 2005.

(If you're not a Netflix subscriber, you can rent or buy The Great Raid from Amazon.)

Even though I'd never seen the movie before, I knew it was about the famous rescue mission the American forces undertook to save the remaining prisoners of war who had survived the Bataan Death March.

In early 1945, as World War II is nearing its end, Gen. Douglas MacArthur selects Lt. Col. Henry Mucci (Benjamin Bratt) to command a bold rescue mission in the Philippines. There, in the city of Cabanauan, more than 500 American soldiers are being held captive in a brutal prisoner-of-war camp. With the assistance of Capt. Prince (James Franco), Mucci will lead the valiant soldiers of the 6th Ranger Battalion in one of the boldest POW rescues in American history.

The movie was as compelling and tension-filled as any action movie. The actors were believable, and the story was thrilling.

While watching, hoping they managed to rescue the POW's, I found myself forgetting that the story was finished long before I was born.

Why The Movie Resonated With Me

I found the movie especially stirring because I've visited the Philippines and lived in Japan, many years after WWII when the Japanese had become our "friends."

I also remember a long ago day when I lived in Japan and was window shopping along Moromi Street in Koza.

An ancient old woman walked up to me, rattled off several sentences in Japanese then spit on me.

As she ambled away, a gift shop owner I knew came out of her shop, wringing her hands. She'd witnessed the saliva assault. She apologized, saying, "She lost her sons in war."

I was shocked, but not traumatized. I felt sorry for the old woman who carried such hatred inside her.

In Asia, people have long memories...like the old woman demonstrated. By the same token, when I went to South Korea all those years ago, many shop owners in the Itaewon District disdained the Japanese tourists.

I saw an old man refuse to wait on the Japanese. The salesman waiting on me said, "Japan treat Korea bad in war."

I understood what he meant just as I understood about the old Japanese woman and the desperate attempt to rescue the survivors in the Philippines.

I guess it helps knowing World History which isn't taught to a great extent in American schools any longer.

Takeaway Truth

Watch The Great Raid. It's an amazing action movie, and it's the kind of story everyone should know.

Remember if you don't have Netflix, you can get The Great Raid from Amazon.

RFID Tutorial: Defeat Hackers

Darling Hubby and I recently bought new wallets with RFID protection.

I thought I'd give a little tutorial about why this is important. Like most new things in today's world, it's to defeat the bad guys out to steal your private information.

What Is RFID?

RFID is the acronym for Radio Frequency Identification which is used for communicating or transferring information over short distances. All that is needed is the RFID chip, an electronic reader, and close proximity of the chip and the reader.

There are two main types of RFID chips.

(1) Passive Tags which require a radio signal to be emitted from the receiver in order for the information to be read. That means they can operate only in a small distance from each other. Therefore, they can’t transmit a lot of data. This kind of RFID chip is in your credit cards.

(2) Active Tags which contain on-board batteries and can transmit data over a larger distance. That also means they can transmit a much larger amount of data than a passive tag. This kind of active tag is in your toll pass device, mounted somewhere on your vehicle, probably on the windshield.

RFID Hackers

Unfortunately, it's easy for RFID chips to be hacked. Everything needed to make an RFID reader can be bought online, and instructions for hacking RFID chips are also posted online.

Hackers can even gain access to the embedded information on something you have and edit that information!

So what's the average consumer with RFID chips embedded in credit cards, toll tags, door passes, and more supposed to do?

Solutions range from the simple to the complex. Because metal and water are the only things that defeat RFID hacking, many people wrap their RFID chip embedded credit cards in aluminum foil.

That's not a great solution. It just means the hacker with the hidden device must get very close to you in order to steal your data. If you want the cheap solution of aluminum foil, then line the bill compartment of your wallet with foil. That's a bit better.

Better than foil is the RFID Blocking Wallet Sleeve. They come in packages, but they wear out and have to be replaced frequently.

The best solution is to buy a new wallet with RFID protection built in. The one my husband bought is like this.

There are many styles so look around. The important thing was to find one that was similar to what he already carried.

For women, it's easier since you drop it into your purse, but for me, it's more difficult since most carry a wallet in their hip pocket.

Many RFID wallets for men are thicker because of the metal so they may not be comfortable. Buy something that can be returned free.

The most effective are those that use a Faraday Cage with a leather exterior. Look for RFID wallets that say, "Electromagnetically Opaque."

For more on wallets like this, read the MakeUseOf article: RFID Wallets.

Takeaway Truth

It becomes annoying and difficult to stay one step ahead of the bad guys, but it's necessary to protect yourself.