Welcome to the Twilight Zone

by Bob Sparrow

You’re sitting on your couch with a cup of coffee, staring at a tired Christmas tree, trying to decide if you’re going to turn its lights on or take it down.  You’re too tired to do either.  You’re feeling lethargic, exhausted, and numb, not just from the chaos of Christmas day, but from everything that led up to it.  You’re somewhere between reflecting on recent past events and preparing for what comes next.  You’ve just entered the Twilight Zone.

While the week between Christmas and New Year’s can seem like the Twilight Zone, it actually has many names that I offer here to perhaps help you figure out why you’re feeling the way you do.

Boxing Day – originated in England and is celebrated there and most of the Commonwealth countries.  It is the day after Christmas and originally it was a day when people would drop money into boxes (thus the name) that were in churches and other places of worship and the money was given to the poor.  Today, of course, it has been commercialized as a shopping day when you can take back the boxes that you got for Christmas and exchange them for something you really wanted.  But, don’t worry about the poor, they just loot the stores now.

Twixmas – It also originated in England and comes from the word ‘betwixt’ which means ‘between’.

Crimbo Limbo – typically used by people poking fun at the excesses and materialistic aspects of the season, it is the period between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve.  It is a week-long blur when you’re not sure what day is it, you’re most probably living in your pj’s and you’ve eaten leftovers for three days in a row.

Festive Perineum – while this term could have a more ‘anatomical’ meaning, at this time of year, it is used as a reference to the time between Christmas and New Year’s.

Romjul – a Norwegian holiday that refers to this week as a tranquil time to spend at home with friends and family undisturbed by the outside world.  It is also known as Interscotia.

Witching Week – The time between Christmas and New Year’s Day where nothing you do in this week counts.  If only that were true of the calories consumed over the last month.

You probably didn’t realize there were so many names for a time when everyone did so little.  Most of us just sit around and watch football, read about that new diet, or some or all of the following, typically done from the couch while having leftovers and drinking the last of the ‘Christmas cheer’ . . .

  • Wonder how much longer these damn Christmas carols will be on the air
  • Think about leaving the outside Christmas decorations up all year
  • Wonder how Amazon does it
  • Make New Year’s resolutions that will be life-changing – Not!

I recommend that you wait a week or so before making any serious decisions, you’re still coming down from a Christmas sugar-high that will continue through New Year’s Day.




By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I know what I really want for Christmas. I want my childhood back. Nobody is going to give me that. I might give at least the memory of it to myself if I try. I know it doesn’t make sense, but since when is Christmas about sense, anyway? It is about the child of now. In you and me. Waiting behind the door of our hearts for something wonderful to happen. A child who is impractical, unrealistic, simpleminded, and terribly vulnerable to joy.

~ Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

This time of year it’s easy to get caught up in the frazzle of preparing for the holidays.  As Erma Bombeck once wrote: time, self-pity, apathy, bitterness and exhaustion can take the Christmas out of you.  She summed up the sentiment by saying, “There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.” By the time we reach middle age we see the holidays differently – it becomes just more work, heaped on top of an already hectic life. We realize that the wonderful Christmas memories from our childhood were produced by parents who worked overtime, shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, hosting and entertaining.  And once it is our turn to produce a holiday to remember, we long to be a child at Christmas again, when it’s all just wonder and magic.

Over the past few years I have found something that works for me to bring a bit of that childhood magic back: I simplify Christmas.  I no longer send out cards, as I stay in touch with most everyone on my list through email or in person.  Heck, some of them I see multiple times a week.  They don’t need Christmas greetings from me in the form of paper.  The biggest change is that most of my family and all of my friends now forego gift-giving.  Of course, we still buy something for the children – half the fun of the holiday is watching kids open presents, hoping your gift puts a smile on their faces.  But for everyone else we take pleasure in time spent together, whether over a meal or a cup of coffee.  None of us need more “stuff” and nothing we buy on Amazon can match the gift of a hug.  I highly recommend paring down on the holiday prep – it can do wonders for your spirit.

I am fortunate this year to be spending time with my family, who will gather at Bob’s home on Christmas Eve, to partake in a family talent show (this ought to be good!), share delicious food, and bask in the company of people I love. Of course, there is an empty chair this year, but there is joy to be found in the company of family and friends, and that is something to be celebrated, especially at the holidays.  I wish all of you a very happy holiday season.

One tradition I will always maintain is providing you with Pop’s Christmas Ice Cream Fizz recipe.  I hope you enjoy it as much as our family has over the years.  There is nothing like a little gin to make the holidays the slightest bit more fun!

         A jolly man indeed


Fill a blender 1/4 full of 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 everything!

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.

Happy Holidays!!  I’ll see you in 2024!


It’s Just a Number . . . Albeit a Rather Large Number

by Bob Sparrow

As someone who loves to travel, I am happy to report that I will complete my 80th trip around the sun this week.  So, it’s time to celebrate . . .

Don’t Let the Old Man In

The Wine: I’ll celebrate with an expensive wine (because I am now definitely too old to drink cheap wine) from my favorite travel destination, a Tokara ‘Telos’ a Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The Song:  Don’t Let the Old Man In by Toby Keith.  Here’s a verse from the song:

When he rides up on his horse
And you feel that cold bitter wind
Look out your window and smile
Don’t let the old man in

So, let me take a little time to reminisce about life back when I was growing up, back when the earth was still cooling . . .

TV programs we used to watch:  The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, , Sky King, Burns & Allen, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriett, Father Knows Best, The Life of Riley, Groucho Marx, The Ed Sullivan Show and Your Hit Parade.  

Ozzie & Harriett, David and Ricky

TV program I should have watched: Life Begins at 80 – If you’re not around my age, you won’t remember this television program, which ran from 1950 – 1956, and was on the radio starting in 1948.  It featured people 80 and over and their accomplishments.  I just remember them looking really old.

Radio Programs:  Following are the programs that my brother and I listened to on our bedroom radio as kids when we went to bed around 7:00 – 7:30 each night: The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, Fibber McGee & Molly, The Cisco Kid, Boston Blackie.  Later it was DJ, Wolfman Jack.

Favorite singing group: The Kingston Trio

Sports Heros:  Mickey Mantle, Johnny Unitas, John Havlicek, Arnold Palmer, Olympian, Bob Matthais, and my brother!

Popular Movies: Laurel & Hardy, The Road Movies with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, A Summer Place, Rebel Without a Cause, The Crimson Pirate, Titanic (the original), The Ten Commandments, White Christmas, King Solomon’s Mines, On the Waterfront, The Steel Helmet, Singng in the Rain.

Instead of new cars in ’43, ’44 and ’45

What was going on when I was born: That little skirmish called World War II, was just ending its second full year of combat in both the European and Pacific theaters.  If you wanted to buy a new car in 1943, ‘44, or ‘45, you couldn’t, the automakers were not making cars during those years, they were making tanks, jeeps and other military vehicles – in 1946 you could buy a new car for $1,800.  For car owners at the time, gas was 19 cents/gallon.  And while we’re shopping let’s pick up some eggs for 57 cents a dozen, a pound of bacon for 43 cents and a half gallon of milk for 31 cents.  At the time you could buy a three-bedroom house in Long Beach for $3,600.  Yes, great prices, however, the average annal salary in California in 1943 was $1,548; yeah, that’s not a typo, that was the annual salary!

But enough about the past, I’m looking forward to the next 80 years . . . OK, maybe not that long, but I’m at the age where I’m seeing too many friends and family cashing in their chips, so it’s more important than ever to understand that no one is promised tomorrow and to live life to its fullest each day.  I am hopeful that the future hold lots of time with my amazing family and allows me to experience some interesting places and cultures around the world that make me a better person and help me appreciate where I live.

Best Ever Kids and Grandkids




Jack, Suzanne and I believe we grew up with the best people, in the best place, at the best time









In keeping with the holiday spirit, I’d have to say . . .It’s a Wonderful Life!


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

It’s that time of year again, when we perform a public service by providing a list of “can’t miss” gifts for those you love.  Or hate.  You get to choose.

First up, for the narcissist, the Selfie Toaster.  It’s a toaster that puts your picture on every slice of toast.  Those of you who are long-term subscribers know my dislike for selfies and this gift seems to exemplify everything that is wrong about the constant need to see yourself.  Plus, the manufacturer recommends using white bread to get the best image.  I say people who need to view themselves on toast at the breakfast table deserve all of the bad nutrition white bread offers.

While we’re on food, for the pizza lover I suggest The Pizza Pouch.  It conveniently holds a slice, either between bites or, if they want to save it for later, it can be slid into the pizza pouch and worn around the neck until they’re hungry. Not only will it keep the pizza slice nice and fresh, but it’ll also keep their pockets from getting greasy from stuffing pizza slices into their pants pockets, like normal people do.

And continuing on the ingestion theme, why not get that wine lover on your list The Wine Bra? Although the one in the photo is for women, they also make a version for men that wraps around their waist, so it looks like a beer belly.  This gift is convenient, whether the person is at a party or simply trying to sit through a boring sermon in church.  Who doesn’t need a bra that provides a little lift?

Right about now you might be thinking I’ve lost my marbles.  You could be right.  But I know I’m not alone and if you have a friend like me I have the perfect gift suggestion:  their Lost Marbles.  The trick will be getting them to remember where they left their marbles.  That seems to be a growing problem.

And speaking of growing, how about tormenting the children in your family?  You can give the perfect stocking stuffer: Donut Seeds!  Imagine all the fun you will have watching them bury Cheerios in the back yard and expectantly waiting for donuts to appear.  Strap on the wine rack bra and you really have the perfect night of entertainment.

For the hirsute man in your life, I offer up the Beard Bouquet.  Just think of the chills that will run up your spine when you open the door and these flowers are offered. Personally, all I can think of is that the flowers and leaves add more bacteria to facial hair that is already harboring food particles from yesterday’s breakfast.  I wouldn’t accept these flowers even if they were adorned on one of the Kelce brothers.

Finally, a joke gift with a bit of sentimentality: The Inflatable Cow.  This gift may not be for everyone, but for me and one of my oldest friends, it is perfection itself.  Thirty-five years ago, we moved into houses across the street from each other, and became best friends.  We prided ourselves in coming up with funny practical jokes. One year she burned her Christmas Cornish game hens and they “ding dong ditched” us with them.  The next night we tied red ribbons around the game hens and hung them from the maple tree in their front yard. I could go on and on about all the goofy, fun tricks we played on each other, but one of the best happened on a dark December night when drove onto our street and found a huge plywood cow, adorned with twinkling Christmas lights, on our front lawn.  It was a priceless sight.  This year, Alan has died, and her husband just went into a memory care home.  We are a long way from those fun, stupid jokes.  But when I saw this inflatable cow, I couldn’t help but smile and think of all the fun from that wonderful time in our lives.

I hope some of these stupid gifts bring a smile to your face too.  If not, try taking a smiling selfie and put it on a piece of toast.




customized plates that ensure your face is successfully imprinted on every slice of toast it serves up.  Anyone ordering simply needs to upload a selfie (the bigger, the better) recommends white bread for the best imprint,