MUSIC: “Tomorrow Is Christmas Day” by Mindy Smith

Singer/songwriter and Long Island transplant to Nashville Mindy Smith has the kind of lyrics and voice that haunt and linger, resonating in the mind and heart long after the record has finished its spin. This year, for the holidays, she put out an EP of Christmas songs, called “SNOWED IN”, that includes this tune she wrote just for the occasion. I couldn’t think of anything more perfect to post today.

To check out the EP visit https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/snowed-in-ep/id720815475
To check out Mindy Smith’s website visit http://www.mindysmithmusic.com

MUSIC: Mason Jennings and Sarah Harmer sing John Prine’s “Christmas in Prison” Live in Minneapolis

Mason Jennings is a new singer/songwriter favorite of mine. Here’s he’s joined by Canadian singer/songwriter and environmental activist Sarah Harmer on John Prine’s “Christmas in Prison.”

I hope this proves an unexpected and welcome pleasure. And if you can, stay out of prison this holiday season!

For more on Mason Jennings visit http://www.masonjennings.com
For more on Sarah Harmer visit http://www.sarahharmer.com

To view Mason Jenning’s video of the track “Lonely Street” from his new album ALWAYS BEEN, click below:

AT THE HOMESTEAD: FOUR CHRISTMAS TREES

FOUR CHRISTMAS TREES at $28 EACH and FREE LANDSCAPING!

That’s right. Four Christmas trees…three for my living room, and one for my bedroom. And they are all alive. That’s where the free landscaping comes in. After Christmas, they get to live in my yard!

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Pine trees do very well in the hi-desert. Check out the one I’ve got gracing my front yard. It’s tall and stately and healthy and strong, and I love looking out my window at it every morning.

Then there’s my feeling about Christmas trees. Artificial trees?  Made to look real? Something you can pack away in your garage each year and then reassemble every December? You’ve got to be kidding me…

I like my holiday and my tree to be more organic. Natural. Real as in “real” not “made to look real.” Because all that means is “fake.”

Years past I’ve always relied on a cut live tree. I’ve enjoyed every aspect of it – the texture, the fragrance, the interaction involved between me and the tree when I get on my knees every couple of days to replenish it with water. I even like the way it gets dry over time and then sheds needles all over the floor. Yes, it’s tough to clean up, but it’s a reminder of the passing of time. Jesus spent his first night in a room with a floor covered in hay. Why complain about a little blanket of pine needles?

Still, there is something about a cut tree that was once alive that offends my environmentally-friendly ethic. How can I live a “second chance” life, when I don’t even allow my Christmas tree to have a reprieve? So this year I decided to do something different. I figured,  “why nurse a dying tree when you can have a  LIVING tree that grows old with you year after year?”

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The living Christmas tree that brings holiday cheer to my bedroom. Sure it’s a little bit like that Charlie Brown tree, but give it time. This time next year it’ll be looking great!

And so I went to my local Home Depot and bought four live trees. They are SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA RAISED (from Escondido, less than 200 miles from my home and an example of buying local and supporting regional business). They tolerate heat, drough and cold to –10 degrees Fahrenheit. And with care they will be around next year, and for many years after that.

These four aren’t as large as the trees I’ve had in years past, but I just have to be patient. It’s okay to start small. This year I can go with MORE trees instead of one bigger tree slowly dying in the living room. I’ve placed two of the larger ones on platforms in the living room to give the illusion of height and being in a forest. I get to interact with them (they need water and sunlight). I’ve got the feel and fragrance that comes with a living, breathing, thriving pine. And with each year my trees will get taller and fuller, until they finally reach to the ceiling.

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The beginnings of my living room Christmas tree forest. Soon to be decorated with lights and ornaments. Glad to be alive and able to thrive!

When the holidays are over its time to talk landscaping. Two pines will go straight into the ground and be given liberty to grow and thrive in all directions. The remaining two, however, are getting placed in special pots.

The two potted trees are going to be watched over carefully this coming year. They will be pruned to keep the shape of a Christmas tree, and fed and watered and nurtured for the next eleven months. And then they will be asked to do their duty as Christmas trees inside the house next December. And for many Decembers after. That’s why I got trees of different sizes. I’m thinking many Christmas holidays ahead. These trees are part of my family now.

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My bedroom Christmas tree topper, a ceramic bear bought at Angel View Thrift Mart for under a buck.

There is something beautiful in knowing that these trees will be nurtured and loved and cared for all year long. It will be like having a bit of Christmas every single day. And bringing the tree into my house next December with it’s embedded memories of Christmases past provides a sense of continuity that you just can’t get from a plastic tree, or a dead one. My Christmas trees will experience growth and change, just as I will. We’re in this together. We’re survivors, getting fuller, taller, stronger day by day.

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MONEY BACK GUARANTEE: The trees from Home Depot came with a money-back guarantee. If any of them die in the year after being purchased, I can have my money back. Where else can you get that kind of assurance on a Christmas tree?

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EXTRA SAVINGS: Did I tell you that I won’t have to buy any trees next year or the years after that? That’s some big time savings over time.

MUSIC: DONNY & MARIE sing “SILVER BELLS”

Oh for the days of Donny and Marie…a simpler time when life wasn’t burdened with cell phones or cable T.V. or cars that took unleaded gasoline. The Climate wasn’t changing, the fashions were fierce, the microwave and VCR hadn’t even been invented. And music came on vinyl and was played on a turntable unless of course you were lucky enough to have an 8-track. It was an innocent time. A simpler time, beautiful and serene. What happened?

Enjoy!

TYLER STENSON – “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day”

I heard the bells tyler stenson

View a video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ADC1thdY9A&feature=youtu.be

Tyler Stenson, the talented singer/songwriter out of Portland, Oregon always moves me with his expressive voice and deeply moving lyrical and melodic constructions. Here he deftly tries his hand at “I Heard the Bells”, breathing new and intriguing life into an old holiday standard. What a perfect choice, with lyrics that articulate the zeitgeist of our time.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

For years, whenever I would think of this song, I would hear in my head the voice of Johnny Cash peforming his 1960’s version for Capitol Records. I think now I’ll be hearing Tyler’s voice. Thanks Tyler. You’ve done it again.

And before we forget, a shout out to the great American Poet who penned these lyrics in 1863:  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

You can buy a copy of the song here for just ONE DOLLAR http://tylerstenson.bandcamp.com/track/i-heard-the-bells