By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

As I have previously mentioned, probably ad nauseum, I am a committed Anglophile.  Give me a good BritBox mystery show and a cup of Earl Grey and I’m in my element.  I have often wondered what side I would have chosen in the Revolutionary War.  One can’t assume that the people who resided in “the colonies” were automatically revolutionaries, or “Patriots”, as they were known.  It is estimated that 15-20% of the British people living here remained loyal to the crown.  Thus, they were known as “Loyalists”.  Probably most notable among them, ironically, was William Franklin, the son of Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin. Many families at the time had divided loyalties, but none were as prominent – or as interesting – as the Franklins.

Flying the kite

William Franklin was born in Boston in 1730 and was Benjamin’s acknowledged illegitimate son.  He was raised by Franklin and his common-law wife, Deborah Read. Wouldn’t you have loved to be a fly on the wall when Franklin had that discussion with his wife?  In any event, Franklin saw to William’s schooling and taught him the printing trade. William helped Benjamin publish Poor Richard’s Almanac and also assisted his father with many of his scientific investigations including his famous kite and lightening experiment.  Benjamin obtained a military commission for William during the French and Indian War, and later used his influence to help William be appointed to positions such as Controller of the General Post Office and Clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly. In other words, he was a nepo kid. When Benjamin’s government role took him to England, William accompanied him and formed many relationships with the British aristocracy.  When George III became King, William was appointed Royal Governor of New Jersey in 1862 and Benjamin could not have been prouder.  However, in the more than ten years that William served in that position his views diverged from his father’s, leading to a rift that would never quite heal.

Benjamin, sometimes referred to as a ‘reluctant revolutionary’, hoped at first that differences with the British could be resolved. When he did join the revolutionary cause, though, he was fully committed. He expected William would do likewise. In August 1775 Franklin traveled to New Jersey to convince William to join the rebellion. He told his son he would be accepted with open arms by those opposing the King and could easily win a generalship in the army forming under George Washington. But William believed America’s best chance to succeed lay in remaining with Britain. He firmly believed most Americans would not support the rebellion. He gave his famous “two roads” speech to the New Jersey legislature urging them to refuse to endorse the newly formed Continental Congress and take the road to prosperity as part of England rather than the road to civil war and anarchy. His efforts were to no avail.

A Loyalist being tarred and feathered

Ever a Loyalist, William secretly informed the British of revolutionary activities. Unfortunately for him, a packet of his letters was intercepted by the rebels who passed the information to the Continental Congress. They requested William be exiled from New Jersey. He was sent to Connecticut where he was jailed and placed in solitary confinement in a cell for prisoners about to be executed. Shocked at his harsh treatment, he wrote to Governor Trumball of Connecticut, “I suffer so much in being buried alive, having no one to speak with day or night…that I should deem it a favor to be immediately taken out and shot.”  Being shot was actually more humane than the normal punishment for Loyalists, most of whom were tarred and feathered. William’s wife became gravely ill and died while he was imprisoned. During all his travails, Benjamin exerted no effort on his behalf, leaving William to face the consequences of his decisions. In 1777, suffering from ill health, he was exchanged with another prisoner and allowed to go to New York. From there he departed for England where he would live in exile for the rest of his life.

William attempted to reconcile with Benjamin while the latter was in Paris as one of America’s peace commissioners, but Benjamin rebuffed William’s overture. The two would never mend their differences, each remaining true to his convictions.  They never saw each other again.

So, tomorrow, if you find yourself with family or friends with whom you have divergent views, don’t be the Franklins.  Find a way to compromise…or just chug another beer and agree to disagree.


An Old Time Christmas

by Bob Sparrow

Sisters – Dana & Stephanie

One of the many benefits of starting a new year is that we don’t have to listen to any more of those tired old Christmas songs that have been ear worming us since just after Thanksgiving, maybe even before.  Although, I have to admit that I did hear one song this year, for the first time, a week before Christmas that had rather an unusual effect on me.  While driving home from Las Vegas, listening to the radio, I heard the song ‘An Old Time Christmas’ by George Strait.  When the song finished, I was welling up, which I tried to hide from Linda, who was sitting next to me, by adjusting my dark glasses.  My Sirius Radio gave me the ability to replay the song, so I did, as I was really curious as to what specifically about that song got to me.  So, I played it again – same results.

When I got home, I decided I wanted to learn this song that had such an effect on

Addison & Emma ‘signing’ Jingle Bells

me, so I picked up my guitar, printed off the music for the song, and started to learn to play it.  I couldn’t get through it without choking up.  I’m thinking, ‘What the heck is going on?!!’  I assumed that because the song was about Christmases of the past, that that cued me to think of my Mom and Dad and Christmases with my brother and sister when we were growing up, as well as Christmases when our own kids were growing up.

Fast forward to this Christmas Eve, when we entertained my brother, Jack and wife Sharon, my sister, Suzanne and husband Alan, as well as all of our three kids and their spouses, Stephanie and husband Jason, Dana and husband, Joe and Jeff and wife, Pam; as well as all four grandkids, Dylan, Emma, Addison and Mac.  Also coming by on Christmas Eve was Alan’s daughter, Wendy, her husband, Steve and their college-student kids, Matt (USC) and Jake (Colorado) – it was one of the few times we had everyone there for Christmas.  It was an awesome family gathering.

An Old Timer

When I said we were entertaining this group, I really meant entertaining.  In front of the group, Emma and Addison did Jingle Bells, we sang it and they did the sign language.  Emma, Addison and Mac sang Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  I did sing An Old Time Christmas, although not very well;  I mentioned when introducing the song, that the kids gathered here today would remember this day as their Old Time Christmas.  Dylan, who at age 12, is quite an accomplished piano player, played GreensleevesIronically, the person in our family with the best voice, Jeff, didn’t get a chance to sing – next year!!  Without question, the highlight of the entertainment was sisters, Stephanie and Dana doing their rendition of Sisters, from the movie, White Christmas.  Classic!!!

I would have to say that it was the best Christmas Eve, maybe ever.  Linda and I feel so very fortunate to have such an amazing family.  We’re hoping you all had a happy and Old Time Christmas as well.



By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

             The Sparrow “kids”

If your holidays were anything like ours, you might be waking up this morning asking yourself what day it is.  Too much partying, frivolity and eggnog can do that to you.  For the first time in nine years, we Sparrow “kids” and our families gathered together on Christmas Eve.  Because I’m using the term “kids” loosely, it becomes more meaningful each time we are together, especially over the holidays.  There were 20 of us and we had such a good time we’ve decided to plan a summer reunion.  But before we get to next year, there is still a lot of celebrating we can all enjoy this week. To assist you in knowing exactly what to celebrate and when, I’m providing you with a handy guide to help you push through this final week of the year.

December 26th is known for two celebrations, The Feast of St. Stephen or Boxing Day, depending on where you live.  For Catholics worldwide, today is St. Stephen’s Day, or The Feast of St Stephen.  St. Stephen was born a Greek Jew but converted to Christianity and became a disciple of Jesus. That was not a popular move. He was accused of blasphemy and stood trial in a Jewish court, despite his arguing that Christianity supported the teachings of Moses. The crowd was so furious after his testimony that he was carried out and stoned to death. Thus, he became the first Christian martyr, and his life is honored each year on December 26.  Boxing Day has been celebrated since the 1870’s in Britain and the Commonwealth countries.  Today it is akin to Black Friday, where people swarm the stores looking for bargains or return the horrid sweater they got from their mother-in-law.  Ironically, Boxing Day was not always about oneself.  In fact, it used to be quite the opposite.  There are two theories on how Boxing Day originated.  One is that on Christmas Day, people would go to church and place money in a box.  The following day, the money would be dispensed to those in need.  The second theory is that since servants had to work on Christmas Day, their employers would give them a day off on December 26th, along with a box of money or food.  Imagine the disappointment if you were expecting cash and instead received a fruitcake.  Which brings me to…

December 27th is National Fruitcake Day. It’s not a day about a person, although I’m sure we could all identify a few who would qualify.  It’s actually a day to celebrate that holiday concoction that nobody likes or wants.  The people of Manitou Springs, Colorado, have a use for the brick-like desserts: throw them at something.  Each year they host The Great Fruitcake Toss.  There are contests to see who can hurl fruitcakes the farthest or who is most accurate throwing them into baskets.  I think the citizens of Manitou Springs have a good sense of humor.  I’m going to have to visit them on my next trip to Colorado.

December 28th is Holy Innocents Day, which marks the anniversary of the day King Herod killed all of the male citizens of Bethlehem when he realized Jesus had escaped.  Today it is celebrated as a day to pray for the safety, health, and well-being of children.  Seems like a good thing to do over the holidays. Or every day.

December 29th is International Cello Day.  No, not Jell-O – cello.  Who in the heck even knows a cello player?  I think the people at Hallmark, or whomever thinks up these days to celebrate, might have run out of steam by the end of the year.

December 30th is National Bacon Day. Now here’s a day I can get behind.  Bacon is seemingly everywhere, including the Bloody Mary at our local breakfast haunt.  I think I’m going to celebrate accordingly on Friday.  I wouldn’t want the people at the bacon holiday headquarters to think I’m ignoring them.

December 31st is obviously New Year’s Eve, a day for making resolutions, partying with friends or this year, perhaps sitting home with the dog, watching football and celebrating the new year on New York time.  The excitement never ends.

Finally, January 1st is the start of a new year.  Hope always spring eternal with a new year. Despite experience to the contrary, I am always upbeat and looking forward to whatever the new year will bring. Hopefully more bacon and less fruitcake.

My brother and I wish you and yours a very happy 2023 and once again, we want to thank you for subscribing to our blog.  It is truly appreciated.


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

It’s that time again, when we present you with holiday gift ideas for those people on your list who are hard to shop for.  Or who you don’t like.  You choose.  I’d say the only requisite is that they have a sense of humor.  And if they don’t – why are you giving them a gift anyway?


For the egocentric: What could be more thoughtful than giving someone a picture of themselves on a potato?  Although it has some cannibalistic overtones, you can rest assured than your gift will be unique. And with some butter and a ton of sour cream, it might even be tasty.



For the smoothie fan: Nothing is more annoying than when you go to make a smoothie only to discover your banana is overripe.  When that happens to me, I give up and grab a piece of chocolate cake, but I understand that some people like to eat fruit.  Enter a guy who is selling “banana hats” at $13 a pop.  It’s a plastic top, covered with a knit hat.  He just secured a deal on Shark Tank.  Really.  Who sits around and thinks of these things?  All I know is, next year everyone on my list is getting a knit hat for their bananas.



For your reckless brother-in-law: Let’s face it.  Some people are just not cut out to be parents.  Your brother-in-law may be one of those people.  Normally he might tell his kids to go play on the freeway, but if you want him to be a more responsible parent, why not give him the “My First Fire” kit?  That way, the kids are safely in the backyard and your brother-in-law can watch them without setting down his beer.


For the romantic: Candles are considered romantic.  It’s hard to find a romantic movie where candles don’t appear at some point, either around a bathtub or next to a bed.  Well, what could be more romantic than a candle made of your ear wax?  It exudes your essence even when you’re not at home.  Who could resist?


For the Toto enviers:  A few of my friends have the Toto toilet that apparently does everything for you but go to the grocery store.  They rave about the heated seat, the warm water and the blow dry.  Frankly, I’ve never seen the benefit as my goal is to spend as little time in the bathroom as possible.  But then again, I’m not a guy.  So for the person who does spend a lot of time but doesn’t want to splurge on the Toto toilet, you can get him the Roto Wipe.  My guess is it works just about as well at 1/1000 of the cost.

For the dog owners who entertain:  You spend hours preparing for a dinner party – cooking a gourmet meal, setting a gorgeous table, fresh flowers – and then just before the guests are due to arrive you notice that your dog has done his “business” on the lawn.  Who has time to go get a bag, scoop it up, and take it to the trash?  Instead, you can employ the “Hide a Poo”, a device that looks like a rock and covers up the whole mess.  You’re on your own when it comes to masking the smell.  Hopefully your guests have bad allergies.


For the TV news watcher:  I don’t care what news channel you watch, at some point someone is going to say something ridiculous.  This is especially true if a politician is speaking.  How handy, not to mention cathartic, would be it be to have a BS button?  I think ours might wear out in the first week.  Perhaps you may want to purchase back-ups.




For everyone: Let’s face it, 2022 has not lived up to our expectations.  If you had told us in 2020 that we’d still be fighting COVID, but added in RSV, we would not have believed it.  Throw in the rising cost of everything, Ukraine, the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and the mental images from the Johnny Depp trial that cannot be erased from memory, I think 2022 has a lot to answer for.  But just in case you know someone who thought this year was just nifty, why not give them an ornament to commemorate the smorgasbord of misery?

That’s it.  If you’re actually interested in any of these gifts they can be found on Amazon.  You can thank me later.

A Holiday Primmer

by Bob Sparrow

Don’t forget Fiestas de las . . . whatever

Yes, it’s getting to be that time of year again, and we here at From a Bird’s Eye View, want to give you a primer on holiday ‘dos and don’ts’ during this new age of ‘the holiday season’.  First, let’s define ‘the holiday season’.  While Costco would suggest that ‘the season’ starts right after summer, it is usually considered underway sometime around Thanksgiving and ends sometime in January.  I know, you’re thinking it ends after New Year’s Eve, and yes, it typically does here in the U.S., but if you’re traveling to a territory of the U.S., Puerto Rico for ‘the holidays’, they don’t end there until mid-January with the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian, which literally translates to ‘party on San Sebastian Street’.  I digress.

First, lets examine basic holiday greetings.  ‘Merry Christmas’ was discouraged several years ago, as not being inclusive; but if you know the person you’re extending this salutation to be a Christian, then it’s OK.  Nowadays it’s mostly been replaced with ‘Happy Holidays’.  So, no matter if you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus, you’re good..  Festivus you ask?  For those who didn’t watch Seinfeld, it was created on one of his episodes as a secular holiday, as really a way to eliminate trying to guess what religion a person is so you can address them with the proper holiday greeting.  It has been described as ‘the perfect secular theme for an all-inclusive December gathering’.  Or, as they referred to it on Seinfeld, “a Festivus for the rest of us”.  OK, does that include my pagan friends you ask?

Maybe, but they are covered with a simple ‘Happy Winter Solstice’, or ‘Happy Yule‘.  Yes, Yule, as in Yuletide.  It has come to have a different meaning today than originally, where it referred to the pagan celebration of the winter solstice.  I’ll never sing, “Yuletide carols being sung by a choir” again without wondering what I am really singing about.

OK, I think we’ve beat that dead horse enough.  Let’s move on to helping you understand the terms that you’ll be hearing over the next couple of months, and with whom you should use them.

Epiphany – A Christian feast day celebrated on January 6th, commemorating the Magi’s visit to the baby Jesus.  For: Christians, who don’t want the holidays to end on January 2nd.

Feliz Navidad – A Spanish phrase meaning “Happy Christmas.”  For: Hispanic speaking Christians

Frankincense –  a hardened gum-like material that comes from the trunk of the Boswellia that symbolizing holiness. For: Anyone who wants to feel holiness in a Boswellian sort of way.

Kinara – A candle holder for the seven candles lit during Kwanzaa. For: Anyone who celebrates Kwanzaa, it is most popular among Blacks worldwide.

Krampus – this is a half-goat, half-demon character of European folklore who punishes misbehaving children during Christmas.  For: Anyone who still uses Santa Claus to get their kids to behave.

Magi – The Zoroastrian priests of ancient Persia. According to tradition, three of these “wise men” visited the infant Jesus.  For:  Christians, Iranian Zoroastrians and anyone who can find three wise men.

Mele Kalikimaka –  A phonetic translation of “Merry Christmas” into the Hawaiian language.  For: Those who don’t find it distasteful, since it’s a colonizing party’s song using the native tongue for novelty.

Myrrh – A fragrant oil that is used for problems in the stomach and intestines, congestion and parasite infections. For: Anyone of any religion with GERD, acid reflux or other digestive issues

Wassail – A hot, spiced cider drink, traditionally served to poor carolers by their wealthy neighbors.  Any lower economic caroler regardless of religion or anyone looking for a little holiday spirit.

One last reminder for whatever or however you celebrate the holidays  – an apostrophe is no way to pluralize a surname. Let’s say your last name is Watts, or it ends in an s, ch, sh, x, or z, how would you sign a card from your whole family?

            • Wattses
            • Watts’
            • Watts’s

If you guessed the first one, which looks like the wrong answer, you are correct!  If you’re still confused or not convinced, just write, from the Watts family. 

You’re welcome!

Hope you have a Happy, Merry, Festivus holiday season.

A ‘Holidaze’ Poem . . . or Not!

by Bob Sparrow

‘Twas the week after Christmas

In a year of unrest

Let’s review what’s just happened

The worst and the best

The year started out

with a Capitol riot

And a new president,

But D. Trump didn’t buy it


Tiger Woods crashed his car

After one of his rounds

‘Cause he couldn’t drive straight

So he drove out of bounds


The news was still filled

With street gangs and shooters

And stores were still targets

For bandits and looters

OK, I was trying to write a creative and uplifting holiday poem, something recapping the year – both good and bad.  But as I scanned the Internet searching for this year’s events, I saw nothing but bad news; how the pandemic was growing, then the Delta variant, then the Omicron variant.  After reviewing this past year, all I had to show for it were symptoms of ‘writer’s block’ and I wondered if there was a shot for that – I’m thinking whiskey!

Realizing that we were mostly dividing the country only with politics, we apparently needed something else to disagree on, so up pops the Coronavirus vaccine.  Was it effective?  Was it too soon?  Was it science?  Was it politics?  Was it the bottom line for pharmaceutical companies?  We’ve been told to ‘believe the science,’ but the science seems to be on whatever side you want it to be on.  So now we’ve got people who believe the vaccine will save lives and others who believe the vaccine will cost lives.  And some that just say they aren’t going to let the government tell them what to do.

What a year!  Well, at least we ended the war in Afghanistan this year.  OK, maybe that wasn’t handled particularly well either.

Crime in most major cities reached record highs this year, based on our tolerance for looting and the notion that the police should probably be defunded.

The whipped cream on top of the year’s sundae is that inflation has now raised its ugly head – so we’ve got that going for us.  We didn’t need the Grinch to steal Christmas, we handled that on our own.  Bring back the poem!

But some good things have happened

Like my reverse mortgage biz

So I think I’ll enjoy

Pops famous ice cream fizz

As a final insult this year, I got a note from Santa in my stocking saying, I’ve read your blog and next year I’m getting you a dictionary, a thesaurus and spellcheck!

So, this New Years, rather than wishing someone a “Happy New Year”, I’m going to wish them a Happier New Year – happier than the last two years!  It’s bound to be . . . right?



By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Surely, ’tis the best week of the year, is it not?  St. Patrick’s Day is not until Wednesday but some of us have begun celebrating early.  I am personally contributing to the festivities by drinking a pint of Guinness every day. Guinness is the mother’s milk of Ireland, and for good reason.  Three years ago I had the good fortune of spending time in the Emerald Isle with four of my girlfriends.  On the first day of the trip I ate something that didn’t agree with me.  Our driver suggested that I “take a Guinness”, extolling it’s virtues as a cure-all for most any ailment.  I gulped it down and, sure enough, I began to feel better.  He went on to explain that when he was growing up, doctors were scarce – and unaffordable – so Irish mothers gave their children a nip of Guinness whenever they were sick, as it was believed to be chocked full of vitamins and minerals.  Sort of the Irish version of Children’s  One-A-Day.

Once back home I began to research the miracle of Guinness.  Was it really a health food?  Should I be drinking more?  Turns out that back in the 1920s, when the “Guinness is Good for You” slogan was introduced, the claim was based on market research that found people felt good after they drank a pint of the dark and foamy stout.  Okay, but substitute “stout” for almost any form of alcohol and you’d probably have the same result.  Soon after the slogan gained popularity the flimsy claim was bolstered by the discovery that Guinness contains iron. A ha!  Now we’re getting somewhere.  Even pregnant women were advised to have an occasional pint. Of course, it would take something like a dozen pints a day for a woman to get her recommended daily allowance of iron, in which point the alcohol and calories would cause more harm than good.

But in 2003 researchers at the University of Wisconsin found a truly redeeming feature of the beloved Guinness.  Turns out that stout beer like Guinness (as opposed to lager and other light beer) is high in the antioxidant compounds called flavonoids—similar to those found in red wine, tea and chocolate—that can reduce the risk of heart attack from blood clotting.   The researchers carried out laboratory tests on dogs with clogged arteries, comparing the effects of Guinness and Heineken. Only those dogs fed Guinness had reduced clotting.  Wow – red wine, chocolate, dogs and Guinness.  The gods have come together to link all of my favorite things together into one healthy bundle!  I should live to be 100.

My brother and I share a love for Ireland, even though our DNA results show our Irish heritage to be somewhat limited.  I am 12% Irish and he is 8%, which doesn’t seem fair because he has frequented a lot more Irish pubs than I have.  In fact, he has a unique ability to find an Irish pub everywhere he travels.  When he hiked Machu Picchu,  he fortified himself beforehand at Paddy’s Irish Pub in Cusco, Peru, which holds the distinction of being the highest elevation pub on the planet at over 11,156 feet.  I recently watched the Amazon Prime Video movie “The Irish Pub” and it became clear why we cling to our small but powerful Irish ancestry.  The documentary highlighted pubs all over Ireland, interviewing the owners and customers.  Charming doesn’t begin to describe it.  Yes, some of the pubs were dark and possibly had not been cleaned since 1947.  But the owners and customers alike took great pride in their establishments and their welcoming of strangers.   Anyone who has visited Ireland can attest to that – the Irish seem to be universally good-natured and friendly.  The film made it clear that the local pub provides a gathering place for people to chat and get to know one another and many customers remarked that they would rather do that than watch television.

I think what we can conclude from all this is that America would be a far better – and healthier – place if we all gathered down at the local pub for a good conversation and a pint of Guinness.  Throw in a dog by the fire and that’s about as close to Heaven as one can get.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and…Slainte!!


We’re All Singing the Betwixmas Blues

by Bob Sparrow

Yes, Betwixmas is a word . . . sort of – it’s the term used for the six days between Christmas and New Year’s Day – and we are now in it up to our masks.    There are names for two of these six days that bookend Betwixmas; at the beginning, December 26 is ‘Boxing Day’, which is not celebrated in America, but mostly in England and its former Commonwealth satellites (Canada/Australia/New Zealand/Hong Kong).  It started out as a day to honor servants and those less fortunate by giving them a ‘box’ of something of value.  It then morphed into a shopping holiday (apparently, they said, ‘screw the servants’) where one would take back the ‘boxes’ of whatever they got for Christmas and exchange them for a box of something they really wanted (Maybe we do celebrate it here in America after all).  At the other end of Betwixmas is, of course, New Year’s Eve; never before will so many people really mean it when they say “Happy New Year”!!! But those four days in between, particularly this year, will drive you crazy enough to actually try to eat your grandma’s brick-hard fruitcake that you got again this Christmas.

Betweixmas is a time when we really don’t know what day it is,  who you are or what you’re really supposed to be doing.  There is no school and no one is really working.  If someone goes into the office during Betwixmas, it’s not to work, it’s just to get away from the spouse and/or kids, that have been driving them crazy since the Covid outbreak.

Paradoxically, the shortest day of the year was just last Monday, so the days should seem to just fly by, but no, these days drag on and makes Betwixmas seem interminable.  Typically, it’s the time to relax after the Christmas ‘rush’ and get ready to usher in a new year, a different year, anything but what we’ve been experiencing, so this Betwixmas drags on even more than normal.

Snow Angel

The result of these shiftless days are things like creating New Year’s resolutions that are unrealistic and completely unattainable.  To wit:  you’re probably going to be a little heavier by this time next year.  That home gym that you built this year will go mostly unused next year.  You’re not going to be a better person next year, you’re going to be about the same, and you’re going to be no more organized next year than you are this year.

Usually, the novelty of the kids being home during Christmas vacation calls for some family activity – heading to the mountains to frolic in the snow, visiting Disneyland or if you’re a fan, going to a college football bowl game.  But there’s no snow in the local mountains, Disneyland is closed and the general public is not allowed to attend a college football game.  We are doomed to spend Betwixmas just like we’ve spent the last nine months – in house arrest.

So, one would think that this would have been a good time for a blog that’s really entertaining; a missive filled with little-known facts of interest that would take your mind off the tedium of the times.  But no, it’s a match for the times.

Merappy Betwixmas



By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I am ending this very strange year with the inaugural From A Bird’s Eye View people of the year award.  No, it’s not as prestigious as the award from Time magazine, but I believe our nominees are more fitting.  The poem is one I came across a few years ago and my hardest task for this post was narrowing down the nominees who best represent it.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten many groups of people but for all of those who have worked during perilous times this year, we want to express our thanks for your unwavering strength throughout 2020.


There are always angels everywhere. 




Perhaps we only think to look for them at Christmas,




When their wings can be seen and their halos glow with light.




But they are always there.




There in the quiet corners,




there in the shadows,





there in their ordinary clothes, 




and they are beautiful.




Make room for the angels, for they will catch you unawares and fill your heart in ways you never could imagine.




Speaking of angels, our dad was certainly one on Earth and I believe he continues to watch over our family. One of Pop’s hallmarks was the Ice Cream fizz he served every Christmas morning.  Oh sure, most families had hot chocolate and cider while we were drinking gin, but don’t judge – it has given a roseate hue to many a Christmas morning.  So this year we are once again sharing his recipe so that you and your family might also enjoy this wonderful tradition.



Fill a blender 1/4 full with ice cubes

Add 6 jiggers of gin

Add 4 scoops of French Vanilla ice cream

Add 1 small bottle of soda water (the size you get in a 6-pack)

My brother Bob adds an egg so the white adds some froth, brother Jack doesn’t add an egg.  Personally, I’d add it just because you can then claim it’s a protein drink.

Just blend it well and – voila – you have a concoction sure to put a positive spin on everyone and every thing!

Our mom served them in a wine glass with a dash of nutmeg.  As we got older we would conspire with Pop and ditch the wine glass for a chilled beer mug from the freezer. Saved having to go back for seconds…or thirds.

Bob and I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.  We know for many of you it may be quieter, but hang in – 2021 is sure to be a better year.

Could This Be Your Most Memorable Christmas?

by Bob Sparrow

Like everything else in 2020, I’m guessing Christmas this year will be a little different for you.  Probably fewer people gathered together, maybe a change from the regular venue, Santa could be wearing a mask instead of a beard and perhaps the gifts given and received might be a little different, as suggested by Suzanne last week.  But I have no doubt that the ‘Christmas Spirit’ will prevail – assuming you don’t run out of Christmas ‘spirits’.  If Covid has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes we need a change of routine in order to appreciate the routine.

So, as we prepare for whatever this holiday will bring, I can’t help but recall my most unusual Christmas – it took place in 1968.  As a backdrop for those who weren’t around then or as a stark reminder to those who were, 1968 was a crazy year!  The U.S. was ass-deep in a very unpopular Viet Nam war, causing unrest on college campuses in the form of protests and draft card burning.  Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated; the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, Richard Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace to be elected to his first term as president, streets were filled with civil and gender-rights protests – some not so peaceful, 82 crewmen of the USS Pueblo were held captive most of the year by North Korea; Mao Tse-Tung celebrated 20 years as communist leader of China and the Zodiac killer (who has yet to be found to this day) is on the prowl in California. In December of that year, three Apollo 8 astronauts, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders, became the first to circle the moon, in preparation for the first moon landing seven months hence.

Don and me in front of house in Atsugi, Japan.  Dec. 1968

In 1968 I was an Ensign in the Navy (ours!) and in July of that year I received orders for Atsugi Naval Air Station, Japan.  By December, my wife and I and our dog, Xoon, were living in a small, two-bedroom house, surrounded by Japanese neighbors, about four miles from the base on Dog School Road – apparently, there was a dog school nearby; I’m not sure if it was a pre-school or a pee-school.  Thousands of miles from home in a foreign country, we were planning for a fairly lonely Christmas, our first and only one without family or friends.  Then, about two weeks before Christmas, I got a letter (no cell phones or even email in those days) from my best friend, Don Klapperich, who was a Navy F-4 jet pilot, assigned to the aircraft carrier, USS Coral Sea.  He wrote that their ship, that had been on combat duty in the South China Sea, was coming into Yokohama for Christmas, and that their squadron (VF-151) allowed them to send for their wives to spend the holidays in Japan.

What great news!!!  What was going to be a very dismal Christmas, just got significantly better.  Don was not only my best friend, but my singing partner from high school, and since he had his guitar with him (not in his aircraft, but on the ‘boat’) and I had mine, Christmas Eve found the four of us gathered around our ‘space heater’ chatting and singing songs, which I recorded on a reel-to-reel tape.  I still have the recording, which I converted to a CD, and when I listen to it today, it takes me back to that most-unusual Christmas far from home.

That cold Christmas morning we woke up to no presents under no tree and no stockings hung by the chimney with care – we had no chimney.  But we did exchange gifts, then drove to the Officer’s Club on base, which had a TV, in order to watch our astronauts circle the moon and provide us with that iconic ‘Earth Rise’ photo.

Iconic ‘Earth Rise’ photo – December 1968

As we headed back home for the evening, we looked to the sky and saw a bright, crescent moon and marveled that three astronauts were up there circling it.  So, when I was expecting a lonely Christmas far from home, it turned out to be one of my most memorable Christmases ever.

My point, and I apologize for the rather circuitous route in getting to it, is that this Christmas will undoubtedly be different, presumably like no other you’ve ever or will ever experience, but with a little luck and a positive attitude, it may turn into a Christmas you’ll never forget – in a good way.

We’d love to hear how you’re planning to make this Christmas a pleasantly, different one.