Send a Free Call or Video from Santa

Well, we're getting really close to Christmas 2011 and undoubtedly, the big guy in red is on every child's mind. I thought that sending a free call or video from Santa would be a great way to get your little one even more excited about a visit from Santa Claus. As if they need it. Still, it's a wonderful, magical touch that kids will remember for years to come.

This Gmail product is free of charge from Google. You are able to send personalized, talking messages or YouTube videos to anyone you like. It is not perfect but like I said, it's free.

When you fill in the information (name of sender and recipient, birthdate), you are then taken to a screen that wants you to select how the names will be said. In my case, my name was not one of the options, although you can choose a generic slang, or opt not to have a name mentioned at all.

Once you fill in all of the details, you have the choice of viewing a video of Santa that's quite cute and incorporates your details, or you can listen to the audio version of the video. After that, merely click the next screen arrow on the right and send it to whomever you want.

The audio messages you create are sent to the recipient's phone number, while the videos can be shared via email or Google +.

Regardless of the name limitations, I believe any child would be wildly happy with receiving something from the Send a Call from Santa site. Here's the link again:


The History of Christmas Tree Lights

I love pretty Christmas tree lights!
I love Christmas tree lights! Sometimes, I go for walks after it gets dark, just to admire the pretty colours and decorations that people put up on the outside of their homes. It really puts me in the Christmas spirit, especially if there is a light snow falling. Never have I stopped to think about the history of those pretty lights but they, like all things, do have one.

It's easy to imagine that everyone the world over puts up Christmas lights but that is not the case. Although other cultures have adopted the practice, it is primarily rooted in Christianity and has a past traced back to at least the 17th century, before the invention of electricity, extension cords, and those multi-socketed plugs that let you power up enough lights to put Chevy Chase to shame. Back then, people stuck little candles to tree branches, using melted wax or pins. That method of illuminating Christmas trees took a couple of centuries to catch on as a tradition but all good things are worth waiting for, right?

According to Wikipedia, it was 1890 before folks started putting their tree candles into candleholders. I suppose the primary purpose of doing so would have been to safeguard against fire as a result of putting open flames on wood.

Outdoor Christmas tree lights are beautiful, too!
The world continued to evolve, of course, so at the early part of the twentieth century, even safer methods of giving the tree that special glow were used. Candles were inserted into glass balls or small lanterns. Still effective, and with greater stability and peace of mind. And while die-hard candle users continued the tradition, modern advances were being made, including the birth of electric Christmas tree lights. So, for a while, there was an overlap in the use of candles and incandescent bulbs.

Wish I could say that it was a Canadian who invented the Christmas lights we know today but it wasn't. They are the product of American ingenuity, created by Edward H. Johnson, an associate of Thomas Edison, and the vice present of the Edison Electric Light Company.

Can you imagine the public fervor when a Christmas tree lit up with coloured electric lights for the very first time? Would you think it remarkable? Beautiful? An oddity? Well, if you'd been in New York City on December 22, 1882, you'd know. Otherwise, let your imagination take you there.

Christmas lights are pretty, even when they're not on a tree
Obviously, the electric light craze caught on and has been a sustainable product. Businesses started putting up Christmas lights around 1900. They were only the only ones who could afford to purchase strings of lights, as a rule. Like items today, back then the first few releases were too far out of reach of most households, financially speaking. It took until about 1930 before electric Christmas tree lights became commonplace. I don't know about you but I'm so happy that they did.

Little Drummer Boy, Canadian Style

A sixteen year old Canadian has been creating quite a buzz this week on YouTube. Sean Quigley has released a video that incorporates views of his hometown of Winnipeg with that Christmas music classic, Little Drummer Boy.

You've likely never heard the carol sung like this before but even if it isn't your preferred music style, you have to agree that Sean is enthusiastic and infectiously positive. Not many teenagers would pay homage to a centuries old tune and I love how happy Sean is in this video. You can just tell that he really likes what he's doing in making this short film and singing his version of the song. Sean reminds me that I'm proud to be a Canadian.

Here is the YouTube of Sean Quigley singing his original version of Little Drummer Boy:

Throughout his video, Sean has (presumably) friends holding up Merry Christmas signs, written in different languages. If nothing else, this is a shining example of the type of passion we older people can learn to appreciate in teenagers. I applaud them.

I hope you enjoy Sean's version of this Christmas music as much as I did.

Operation Christmas Child

Helping others is also a gift for the giver
Each year I like to dedicate at least one post to a worthy cause. Last year, I highlighted Operation Christmas Child Canada. This year, I'm doing it again. Why? Look at that face in the picture and tell me you don't want her to have a better life.

This project is one from Samaritan's Purse Canada, an international relief site that helps raise funds and awareness in 70 countries around the world.

How this project works is explained in last year's posted videos but basically, you fill a shoe box with items that these children might need. We're talking basic necessities, as well as toys. There are certain items that you should not include and those are mentioned in last year's videos, also.

There is a religious element to this charity. I'm not at all in any way religious but helping these kids is important. As it says in this year's video, for some of these youngsters, it's the very first gift they've ever received in their whole life.

I'm including a couple of different videos this year, simply to avoid redundancy.

If you are able to send these kids something, please do, even if it is only one shoebox of items.

Of course, there are some folks who simply are unable to extend charity in this manner, due to immobility or lack of funds. If you are one of those, Operation Christmas Child may not be the place for you to give but it doesn't mean that you can't reach out to others who need you. Helping others at Chrismas doesn't have to cost you any money. There are things you can do for other people that only require a bit of time and effort. Those may be the very things that offer both the giver and the receiver the greatest gift.

Have Something to Share with Christmas Canada Readers?

Have an interesting Canadian Christmas story to share or an organization that could use a little exposure to help their cause at Christmas time? Maybe you'd like a shot at guest posting. Just send an email to to have your submission considered. All serious inquiries will receive a response.