Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dear Friends,

I will not be posting any posts until sometime after January 1, 2022. I will continue to respond to comments and visit blogs. Have a great holiday season!

Dawn Pisturino

December 25, 2021

57 Comments »

My Christmas Prayer – a Poem

by Dawn Pisturino

May I never lose the Joy of Christmas,

Though my Tree of Life grows withered and rots,

Standing stark and gaunt in the cold winter light:

Please, Lord, may I never lose the Joy of Christmas.


May I never lose the Love of Christmas,

Though my heart grows feeble and weak,

Beating like a broken drum in my chest:

Please, Lord, may I never lose the Love of Christmas.


May I never lose the Meaning of Christmas,

Though the shadow of Death hovers over me,

Drawing farther away from the Circle of Life:

Please, Lord, may I never lose the Meaning of Christmas.

Dawn Pisturino
December 4, 1986; December 24, 2021


MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

Copyright 1986-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

Reprise: Sammy’s Sleigh Ride

by Dawn Pisturino

One winter night, Sammy Mouse ran away from home. He wanted to go to the North Pole and see Santa Claus. So he put his clothes in a suitcase, bundled up in his heavy winter coat, left a note for his parents, and sneaked out of the house.

Sammy peered into the darkness, shivering with cold. Up above, millions of stars looked down at him. Sammy trudged through the snow, guided by the light of the full moon.

Sammy thought about all the wonderful things he would do for Santa Claus: help the elves make toys, feed the reindeer, and pack Santa’s sleigh.

When Santa Claus was ready to leave, Sammy would jump into the sleigh and sit beside him on the seat. Santa would laugh, “ho-ho-ho,” and Sammy would laugh, too. Then, up in the air they would go. Sammy would look down at all the little houses below.

When Santa’s reindeer landed on a snowy rooftop, Sammy would help Santa climb out of the sleigh. He would help Santa lift his big bag of toys and watch him slide down the chimney. Then, off they would go again!

Sammy walked a long time through the snow. When the sun began to shine, Sammy could walk no more. He curled up under a log and fell asleep.

When he woke up, Sammy’s stomach growled with hunger. He nibbled on a piece of cheese and hurried on his way. He wanted to get to Santa’s house before nightfall. Tonight was Christmas Eve.

But the longer he walked, the more tired Sammy felt. Everywhere he looked, he saw trees and snow. Where was Santa’s house? Where was the North Pole?

As night fell, Sammy began to get scared. Christmas was almost here, and he had not yet reached Santa’s house or the elves’ workshop or even the North Pole!

Sammy sat down in the snow and cried. He was wet and cold and hungry. He was tired, and his feet hurt. Worst of all, Sammy was lost!

Overhead, the stars seemed to be laughing at him. The man in the moon wore a big, shiny grin. Suddenly, Sammy heard bells jingling. Up in the sky, he saw Santa’s sleigh and eight reindeer flying past the moon. Sammy’s heart sank. Now, he would miss Christmas.

But wait, here was Santa’s sleigh coming right toward him! Sammy could hardly believe his eyes when the sleigh landed in the snow.

“Jump in, Sammy,” Santa said, smiling brightly.

Sammy jumped eagerly into the sleigh next to Santa. “Where are we going?” he asked.

“We’re going to take you home,” Santa answered.

The reindeer began to run across the snow faster and faster until suddenly, they were flying up into the sky!

Up, up, up they went. Sammy looked down. The trees in the forest looked like frosty toothpicks. The moon and stars grew bigger and brighter.

“Ho-ho-ho!” Santa laughed, his belly shaking.

“Ho-ho-ho!” Sammy laughed.

Before he knew it, Sammy was home. He helped Santa fill the stockings and put special gifts under the Christmas tree. He made sure he didn’t see what Santa had brought him.

When Santa was ready to slide up the chimney, Sammy said, “Oh, thank you, Santa!”

Santa laughed and shook Sammy’s paw. “You’re welcome, my little friend. Merry Christmas!”

In a flash, Santa was gone. But Sammy could hear reindeer hooves on the roof, and he never forgot the sound of the bells jingling on Santa’s sleigh.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2014-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

9 Comments »

Christmas Folklore

Holly and Ivy

When the house is decorated with holly and ivy on Christmas Eve, good luck will bless the family in the New Year.

Mince Pies

Also called “wayfarers’ pies,” these tasty treats were passed out to visitors during the Christmas season. To earn good luck in the twelve months of the upcoming year, visitors tried to eat twelve pies at twelve different houses during the twelve days of Christmas.

Mistletoe

In ancient times, mistletoe represented peace and friendship. When friends stood beneath a tree adorned with mistletoe, their friendship would be blessed with good luck. Enemies who did likewise would call a truce for the day. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe grew from these older legends.

Candy Canes

These sugary treats represent the shepherd’s crook at the nativity. Some legends say they are shaped in a “J” to represent “Jesus.”

Wassailing

Since the 13th century, it has been the custom to offer a toast to each other for good health and cheer during the Christmas season. The original wassail bowl contained roasted apples, ale, sugar, spices, and cream or eggs. Eventually, egg nog developed as the traditional Christmas drink.

Yule Log

Yule logs were lit during the winter solstice to ward off demons and light up the darkest day of the year.

Christmas Trees

Fir trees traditionally represent life’s victory over death, or eternal life. It was common during Saturnalia for Romans to decorate their homes with evergreen boughs.

Christmas Full Moon

Christmas 2015 was graced with the first full moon since 1977. Another one will not appear until 2034. The full moon in December is often called the Full Cold Moon, Full Long Nights Moon, or the Moon before Yule. An old tradition relates that when a full moon rises on Christmas Eve, the animals will be blessed with the gift of speech.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL, AND A BLESSED NEW YEAR!

Dawn Pisturino, RN

Copyright 2015-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

11 Comments »

Reprise: Saint Nikolaus’s Companion, Knecht Ruprecht

From out the forest I now appear,

To proclaim that Christmastide is here!

For at the top of every tree

Are golden lights for all to see;

And there from heaven’s gate on high

I saw our Christ-child in the sky.

And in among the darkened trees,

A loud voice it was that called to me:

“Knecht Ruprecht, old fellow,” it cried,

“Hurry now, make haste. Don’t hide!

All the candles have now been lit —

Heaven’s gate has opened wide!

Both young and old should now have rest

Away from cares and daily stress;

And when tomorrow to earth I fly

‘It’s Christmas again!’ will be the cry.”

And then I said: “O Lord so dear.

My journey’s end is now quite near;

But to the town I’ve still to go,

Where the children are good, I know.”

“But have you then that great sack?”

“I have,” I said, “It’s on my back,

For apples, almonds, fruit and nuts

For God-fearing children are a must.”

“And is that cane there by your side?”

“The cane’s there too,” I did reply;

“But only for those, those naughty ones,

Who have it applied to their backsides.”

The Christ-child spoke: “Then that’s all right!

My loyal servant, go with God this night!”

From out the forest I now appear;

To proclaim that Christmastide is here!

Now speak, what is there here to be had?

Are there good children, are there bad?

Theodor Storm

Translated from the German by Denis Jackson, Isle of Wight.

BIO: Theodor Storm (1817-1888) was a German poet, novelist, and lawyer known for the lyrical quality of his work. He died of cancer in 1888. Knecht Ruprecht (Krampus) is still a popular figure seen in Germany (and other countries) at Christmas. While St. Nikolaus rewards the good children, Krampus punishes the bad.

Dawn Pisturino

11 Comments »

The Gingerbread Boy

Gingerbread is such an integral part of Christmas that it may surprise some people to learn that the first gingerbread recipe came from the Greeks in 2400 B.C. The Chinese followed next in the 10th century. But it was the Europeans — particularly, the Germans — who turned gingerbread into a high form of art. Cookies decorated with gold leaf were a symbol of English nobility and royalty under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Gingerbread cookies were so popular by the late Middle Ages that Gingerbread Fairs became a popular form of entertainment. Germans began creating gingerbread houses in the 16th century. The story of Hansel and Gretel may have been inspired by gingerbread or gingerbread may have been inspired by Hansel and Gretel! Nobody knows for sure.

A well-known children’s folk tale is The Gingerbread Man or Gingerbread Boy, depending on the teller.

THE GINGERBREAD BOY

Now, you shall hear a story that somebody’s great-great-grandmother told a little girl ever so many years ago:

There was once a little old man and a little old woman who lived in a little old house on the edge of a wood. They would have been a very happy old couple but for one thing — they had no little child, and they wished for one very much. One day, when the little old woman was baking bread, she cut a cake in the shape of a little boy, and put it in the oven.

Presently, she went to the oven to see if it was baked. As soon as the oven door was opened, the little gingerbread boy jumped out and began to run away as fast as he could go.

The little old woman called her husband, and they both ran after him. But they could not catch him. And soon the gingerbread boy came to a barn full of threshers. He called out to them as he went by, saying:

“I’ve run away from a little old woman,

A little old man,

And I can run away from you, I can!”

Then the mowers began to run after him, but they couldn’t catch him. And he ran on ’til he came to a cow. He called out to her:

“I’ve run away from a little old woman,

A little old man,

A barn full of threshers,

A field full of mowers,

And I can run away from you, I can!”

But, though the cow started at once, she couldn’t catch him. Soon he came to a pig. He called out to the pig:

“I’ve run away from a little old woman,

A little old man,

A barn full of threshers,

A field full of mowers,

A cow,

— And I can run away from you, I can!”

But the pig ran and couldn’t catch him. And he ran ’til he came across a fox, and to him he called out:

“I’ve run away from a little old woman,

A little old man,

A barn full of threshers,

A field full of mowers,

A cow and a pig,

And I can run away from you, I can!”

Then the fox set out to run. Now foxes can run very fast, and so the fox soon caught the gingerbread boy and began to eat him up.

Presently, the gingerbread boy said: “O dear! I’m a quarter gone!” And then: “Oh, I’m half gone!”

And soon: “I’m three-quarters gone!” And, at last: “I’m all gone!” and never spoke again.

Traditional Folk Tale

Story from St. Nicholas Magazine, 1875

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Dawn Pisturino, RN

Copyright 2020-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

22 Comments »

Three Godfathers: Cowboy Christmas Movie

Mise-en-scene is a French phrase meaning production. In theatrical terms, this means “staging or putting on an action or scene” (Barsam 165). The two largest components of mise-en-scene are design and composition, which include settings, props, lighting, actors, makeup, hairstyles, costumes, overall organization, presentation, and integration. The finished product must look and feel cohesive and balanced, fully supporting the story and theme of the movie, as well as the genre, in every respect.

The 1948 movie, 3 Godfathers, directed by John Ford and Merian C. Cooper, stars John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz, Harry Carey, Jr., and Ward Bond. The story is John Ford’s version (and vision) of the New Testament story of the Three Wise Men, incorporated into the western genre. Above all, it is a story about sin and redemption, supported by Biblical symbolism and themes of Old West justice.

The movie setting is open because the characters have to be able to move around. Most of the movie was filmed on location in Death Valley, California (not Arizona.) Rousing western music, composed of themes from well-known cowboy songs, supports the title scenes. The major underlying musical theme is from the song “Streets of Laredo.” The movie is filmed in Technicolor, which adds vibrancy to the spectacular natural scenery, costumes, and characters.

While the titles play, we see a train chugging along from the right of the scene, crossing the open desert. The camera cuts to three horsemen riding through the desert. They are dressed in typical cowboy clothing. The Mexican cowboy is appropriately dressed in Mexican clothing. The next cut shows John Wayne sitting on a horse at twilight, framed by two saguaro cactuses. He is clearly the main character. A quotation appears in white letters: “Bright star of the early western sky . . .” These scenes confirm that viewers are watching a western set some time in the 1880s-1890s. The quote reminds viewers of the star of Bethlehem. At the end of the titles, the viewers see a wide shot of the western landscape and the three horsemen riding toward the camera.

At a water hole, John Wayne (Robert Hightower) orders the other two men to fill up all canteens and water bags because they won’t find another water hole for at least 60 miles. The camera zooms in on Robert smoking and looking out over the landscape. He is clearly the leader. He joins Pedro, the Mexican, in a tight close-up, and they plan robbing the bank in the nearby town of Welcome, Arizona. Next, Robert crouches down at the third man’s level in a close-up shot of him and William. William is the youngest member of this gang.

The gang rides into the town. It is obviously a well-established town because of the grown trees and flower gardens. John Ford introduces a joke here. The first man the gang meets is B. Sweet (Ward Bond), who is tending his oleander bushes. The men laugh and joke about his name. His wife comes out of the house, dressed in a traditional western gown and hairstyle. She calls her husband “Pearly.” The laughs get even louder over this. Sweet redeems his manhood by clarifying that his name is actually Buck. He swats his wife on the behind with an oleander branch, telling the gang that his wife is a former dancer (presumably in a saloon.) He slips on his leather sheriff’s vest and star, and the gang is caught off guard. The implication is clear: B. Sweet is no tenderfoot from the East but a hardened westerner and experienced lawman. He and his wife offer hospitality to the men, believing they are cowboys from a cattle drive passing through town, and mention that their niece and her never-do-well husband are traveling to Welcome along the Mormon Trail.

Asking for the location of the bank does not rouse much suspicion. But William forgets himself, reveling in the motherly attention he is receiving from the sheriff’s wife, and mentions that people also call him The Abilene Kid. The Sheriff immediately becomes suspicious. When the men leave for the bank, he looks through a book of wanted posters and finds one of The Abilene Kid.

On the way to the bank, a stage pulls into town. A well-dressed young lady greets the gang, happy to leave civilization in Denver and return to her less-civilized town. She reveals that she is the bank president’s daughter and overwhelms the gang with sweetness and perfect manners. (As a minor character, she represents civilized manners and social status.) Two young dandies greet her with bouquets of oleanders (a desert-thriving plant), and it’s clear that she is a popular young lady. Her homecoming provides a distraction for the town while the gang robs the bank.

The typical western scene ensues. Shots are fired, and the sheriff and his deputies rush to capture the men. There are wonderful scenes of a man trying to calm a bucking horse and a scared horse running through the street, pulling an empty covered wagon. As the sheriff and his men chase the gang in a buckboard wagon, William is shot and rescued by Robert. The posse chases the gang into the desert wilderness and quits after the sheriff shoots a hole in Robert’s water bag. Although the sheriff says, “They aren’t paying me to kill folks,” he knows that the gang will die without water.

When Robert discovers the ruined water bag, he laments, “You know, he busted that on purpose,” understanding that the sheriff has condemned the men to death in the desert (Old West justice.) Robert observes that they are playing a game of chess with the sheriff and changes their flight plan.

At this point, the gang is forced to leave all vestiges of civilization and head into the barren desert. (Biblically, this represents the Hebrews going into the desert during the Exodus and undergoing cleansing and purification in order to learn obedience and faith in God.) They immediately plunge into a world of sand dunes, sandstorms, salt flats, and rocks. It’s man against nature.

In many scenes, Ford has the characters walking into the sun, the wind, the sand storms, making their journey even more arduous. He uses tight close-up shots to convey the tight bond between the men. He uses wide screen shots to convey the barrenness and openness of the environment. The landscape is beautiful, yes, but dangerous and deadly.

The men lose their horses after a sandstorm and have to walk. Pedro swears that “the devils came in the middle of the night.” The sheriff arrives at Apache Wells with his men (some locations are named after Arizona Indian tribes.) It is here that we learn it is Christmas time. Snow-capped mountains rise up in the background.

The gang arrives at Terrapin Tanks, and this is where the story changes from a typical western to a morality play. The men plan to get water to fill their canteens but discover a wagon containing a pregnant woman instead. Her husband, out of a greenhorn’s ignorance, has blown up the water hole with dynamite, believing he could retrieve more water. Instead, he has permanently lost access to the water supply. Since he is not around, the gang assumes that he is dead. But they celebrate his death. His actions have ensured the deaths of future travelers looking for water. Old West justice demands that the man die.

Pedro demonstrates great compassion and tenderness when he helps the woman give birth to a son (the Christ Child.) The other two men squeeze water out of barrel head cactuses and give it to the mother. It’s night, and the mother asks the three men to be godfathers to her son and keep him alive. They agree. She names the child Robert William Pedro Hightower, after the three men. Finally, the mother says, “We must be moving on,” and dies. The camera focuses on a dead tree and a lighted lantern, framed in the back opening of the wagon’s canvas cover. The lantern dies out, and the dead tree forms a foreboding and forbidding vision of death.

The men give the mother a proper Christian burial. Robert stands by as a skeptic. But the baby brings the men joy, wonder, and hope. They argue over how to care for the baby, demonstrate their love, compassion, and tenderness for the new life, and overcome some of their roughness.  The baby also brings some much-needed comic relief. At the same time, in parallel shots, the sheriff at Apache Wells is viewing Robert as a good chess player and figures out that the gang has gone to Terrapin Tanks. The chase is on.

As the men become more desperate for water, they argue and draw guns on each other. William uses the Bible for guidance and decides that they were not brought into the desert by accident. Like the Three Wise Men in the Bible, they were meant to find the baby (the Christ Child) and save him (from the elements instead of King Herod.) After throwing out the names of nearby towns (all Biblical), they decide to head East to New Jerusalem (representing redemption and salvation.) The camera cuts to a beautifully-photographed scene showing a bright star in the eastern sky, shining down on sand dunes rippled with shadowy contrasts. The three men trudge across the scene, traveling West to East, receiving hope and strength from the star.

The sheriff finds the abandoned wagon and figures out that it belonged to his niece and her worthless husband. He blames the gang for blowing up the water hole with dynamite, even though they are innocent. He curses them as murderers of future travelers and swears to hunt them down.

William and Pedro both die while crossing a cracked, parched salt flat after asking for forgiveness from God. Robert saves William’s Bible and moves on. It is Christmas. He must climb over the mountain. (Biblically, going up into the mountain represents searching for God.) He takes shelter in a rock-walled passage, which resembles a cave. He falls down, hopeless. He gives the last water to the baby and starts throwing away unnecessary items. In a last desperate act, he opens up the Bible and reads the passage. The passage tells him to take the donkey and its colt. Angrily, Robert throws away the Bible, considering the passage a cruel joke.

Crazed by thirst, Robert hears William and Pedro talking and singing and egging him on. The camera shows them as ghosts walking behind him. Suddenly, framed by the rock walls, Robert sees a donkey and its colt. He cannot believe it, but they are real, and he looks up to the sky, hardly believing that the New Testament passage has come true.

Robert makes it to town and bursts into a saloon, where the people are somberly singing Christmas carols. The people are overjoyed to see the baby, and the piano player plays “Silent Night.” The sheriff confronts Robert here, and he collapses to the floor.

An obvious fade out/fade in pushes the story forward into the future. The whole town treats Robert like a King for saving the baby. The judge sentences him to only one year and one day in prison and grants him custody. As Robert is leaving on the train for prison, the banker’s daughter asks him if she can write, and it is obvious that she will wait for him. When Robert returns, he has a chance of becoming a civilized man.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 18, 2017; December 15, 2021

Copyright 2017-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited:

Barsam, Richard, and Dave Monahan. Looking at Movies, 5th ed. New York: Norton, 2016.

6 Comments »

Holiday Wellness

The holidays can represent the most joyous and spiritual time of the year. They can also be the most stressful and unhappy. How can we enjoy the holidays and maintain our balance?


We all have our own expectations of what the holidays should bring. And as that special day draws closer, the excitement builds. So does the stress. Did we buy enough presents? Did we spend enough money? Are the presents we bought good enough? How will we ever get them all wrapped, the cards mailed out, and the decorations put up?


It all seems very overwhelming. But maybe, in truth, we are doing too much. Is it really necessary to spend all our savings on presents? Is it really prudent to run up the credit cards and spend the rest of the year paying them off? The long-term consequences of our holiday actions can be just as stressful as the holiday itself. Sometimes it is better if everyone agrees to celebrate Christmas in a more spiritual way and to forego the abundance of gifts. This can be very liberating for everyone involved, for everyone feels the economic pressure at Christmas.


This year, try to keep things simple. Spend less, do less, and share more of the responsibility with others.
Decorating the Christmas tree, putting up lights, and decorating the house are family events which should provide the opportunity to share special moments with one another. It should be fun — not an annual chore.


Writing out Christmas cards can be done in quiet moments when the kids are asleep. Sometimes, this is the only communication we have with distant friends and relatives.


Show gratitude for blessings received during the year by donating to charity. Ask other people to make a donation to charity instead of buying a gift. In this way, the gift benefits more people.
Simplify expectations. Don’t expect everything to be perfect or to run smoothly. Don’t expect to receive the most expensive gifts or the greatest number of gifts. Don’t expect anything at all. Go with the flow. Find inner peace rather than outer chaos.


Seek to serve others during the holiday season. Concentrate on family bonding and growing closer to God. Enjoy the peace of Christmas and extend it to others by offering tolerance and forgiveness.
Christmas can be a dreaded stressful event or a wonderful opportunity to bring peace into your life. Simplify. Relax. Enjoy the spirit of the holiday. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Dawn Pisturino, RN
November 2006; December 14, 2021

Published in The Bullhead City Bee, December 22, 2006. 

Published on Selfgrowth.com, December 4, 2011.

Copyright 2006-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

Christmas Dinner from the 1950s Housewife

(1956 Christmas table setting – Photo from Click America)

Christmas Dinner 1950s Style

Note the formal table setting above. Elegant, polished, shining, and decorative. Polishing the silver was a long and tedious job, but so worthwhile! Beautiful!

Christmas Dinner Menus

Menu #1:

Oyster Cocktails in Green Pepper Shells

Celery and Ripe Olives

Roast Goose with Potato Stuffing

Apple Sauce

String Beans

Potato Puffs

Lettuce Salad with Riced (Grated) Cheese and Bar-le-Duc (currant jam)

French Dressing

Toasted Wafers

English Plum Pudding

Bonbons

Coffee

Menu #2:

Cream of Celery Soup

Cheese Sticks, Salted Peanuts, and Stuffed Green Olives

Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding

Potato Souffle

Spinach in Eggs (hard-boiled eggs filled with cooked spinach)

White-Grape Salad with Guava Jelly (peeled and de-seeded white grapes on lettuce leaves)

French Dressing

Toasted Crackers

English Plum Pudding with Hard sauce

Bonbons

Coffee

(Menus from The American Woman’s Cook Book, 1950)

Christmas Cocktail Parties

(Cocktail wiener tree.)

Cocktail parties were popular in the 1950s, and the Christmas cocktail party was no exception.

Favorite drinks:

martinis

daiquiris

mint juleps

whisky sours

champagne cocktails

punch laced with alcohol

Appetizers:

Finger foods such as canapes, Vienna sausages, cocktail wieners, cheese, deviled eggs, and olives.

Sweets such as petits fours, candies, cookies, and other small desserts.

1950s Cocktail dresses:

1950s Christmas tree with lots of tinsel!

Christmas is timeless, however it’s celebrated.

Dawn Pisturino

December 12, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

33 Comments »

Christmas Funnies and Cuties

Last night, I finished writing a 6,214 word research paper on the Ethics and Politics of War. I was brain dead by the time I was finished and needed to recharge, so I went to Pinterest and brightened my spirits with some holiday cheer. I will be getting caught up with responding to people’s comments and visiting people’s blogs. Thank you for your patience!

Here’s wishing all of you a day full of good cheer!

Dawn Pisturino

December 10, 2021

18 Comments »

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