Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

Should you say Merry Christmas or something else?



DiwaliDon’t you find the phrase “Happy Holidays” to be rather generic and non committal? That’s a logical phrase and doesn’t come from the heart. It didn’t have any significance for me and you felt that.

When you have a strong belief, there should be no fear of professing that. If a Jewish person wishes me Happy Hanukkah, I really appreciate that. If someone who is Hindu wishes me Happy Diwali, that would warm my heart.



I want heartfelt wishes. I have no interest in platitudes.



ChristmasTree2013-2Wishing you Merry Christmas by no means indicates that I don’t respect you or your faith. I absolutely respect both. To be honest, your taking offense would be offensive to me. The reality is that Diwali and Hannukah mean nothing to me personally so I can’t give you a heartfelt wish using those words.

As a Christian, this is a time we recognize the birth of Jesus Christ. This is a time for family, friends and is a celebration of life. When I wish someone a Merry Christmas, that means I offer the warmest wishes that I know how. That comes from the heart.

So, from my family to yours, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



Make it a great day,


What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for all my friends and family. I’m thankful for my faith. I’m thankful for tolerance.

What are you thankful for today?

Mom’s Butter Tarts

ChristmasTree2013_webThis is a nostalgic time of year.  I lost my mother three years ago and the fact that Christmas is a big thing for me is because of her.

Every  year, mom would bake up a storm and Dad would take us out to get the tree.  My favourite was, and still is, her butter tarts.


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Luckily, I got the recipe before she left us.  I was making a batch today and brought Mom’s picture up to the kitchen to help me make butter tarts.


5 ½      Cups All Purpose Flour

1          Teaspoon Baking Powder

2          Tablespoons Brown Sugar

2          Tablespoons Vinegar

¾         Teaspoon Salt

1          Pound Shortening

Cut shortening into dry ingredients


1          Egg

2          Tablespoons Vinegar

Beat egg and vinegar into ¾ cup of water and mix into dry ingredients.


Roll into a ball, wrap and refrigerate for a half hour.




2          Cups seedless raisins soaked in boiling water

4          Tablespoons Butter or Margarine

2          Cups Brown Sugar

2          Eggs

2          Teaspoons Vanilla


Drain raisins and mix in butter.  Beat eggs and vanilla, then mix with raisins.  Mix in brown sugar.


Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Picture of butter tart.









Thanks Mom!


P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful for such wonderful parents.  I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with my kids baking for Christmas.  I’m thankful for Christ in my life.

What are you  thankful for today?

From Step Dad to Father…

To all the estranged Fathers out there…

You’re the example.

Over the years you managed to set the example.  Kindness and understanding.  Respect for the feelings and needs of the kids regardless of your own desire for every moment you can have together.  Civility to the other parents, even though that’s the last thing you wanted to do!  The kids know.

They know you wanted to be there but appreciate the efforts you made to let them have a normal life.

You Did A Great Job!

You couldn’t be there every day but they knew you wanted to be.  I always told them I couldn’t be their father, but I was proud to be Dad when they needed me to be.

Sometimes adult relationships don’t work out.  We all start with great intentions but sometimes, it’s better to part.  When there are children involved, it’s especially painful.  Christmas time really emphasizes the distance.  Just because Father can’t be there physically every moment doesn’t mean they are not there in spirit.

You managed to be kind to Mom and the kids respect that.  As a result, they know you care.

Was it worth it?

You never know how you did until you see them as a parent themselves.  What’s the old cliche?  The proof is in the pudding!

God forbid, their own relationships don’t work but we can only hope they do what is best for their own children.

Absolutely, it was worth it!

Thank you for doing the best you could and having patience with me.

Merry Christmas and make it a great day!


P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful I could help you raise wonderful children.  I’m thankful to share a grand child with you.  I’m thankful I could be there to help pick up the pieces.

What are you thankful for today?

53 years ago…

53 years ago today, two young lovers became husband and wife.

53 years ago

November 18, 1960

Lesley Gail Crooks married Vincent Bryan Clermont November 18, 1960.

They were not only married but actually remained lovers until the day Mom died.  There were never two people more in love.  I know Dad still misses her each and every day.

My parents taught us how to be married and I believe there were no greater teachers.  We always knew that our parents loved us very much but we also knew that each of them was more important to the other than anyone else in the world.  They taught us that we had to make sure we looked after ourselves and dedicate ourselves to making our partners happy.

They also taught us that a good marriage takes a lot of work.  There will be trials that will test your relationship.  You need to be prepared to speak up when there is an issue and not let it fester.  You need to learn how to “fight fair” and be respectful of each other.  Always remember, making up is a lot of fun!

Be Strong

Be strong as an individual and give your partner the respect to do the same.

10-28-2010 08;47;20PM_1I was talking to a friend recently and described it this way:

I have to be a strong enough “me” in order to become a part of a strong “we”.  We have to be a strong enough “we”, in order to be effective parents.  Too many times, I have seen couples who put their children ahead of their spouse and end up losing their identity as a couple.

I thank God that my parents did such a great job of loving and respecting each other, being such a great model for the relationships in our lives.

Today, I’m thankful for two amazing individuals that became an exemplary couple and the world’s greatest parents.

In loving memory of my mother and thank you to my father.

Make it a great day,


P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful I met a woman as wonderful as my mother.  I’m thankful my parents were such great role models.  I’m thankful we were blessed with a wonderful family.

What are you thankful for today?

Do you mourn a death or celebrate a life?

Mourn a death or celebrate a life?

10/10/10 is a day that will be etched into my mind forever.

I need to set the stage here.  In May of 2010, my mother had a fall.  As my brother was trying to help my Dad with Mom, Dad had a stroke.  Mom and Dad ended up on opposite sides of the hospital on the same floor for weeks.  Just one day before Mom was to return home from rehab, she had a heart attack.  They did emergency surgery and after three weeks in a coma, we had to let her go.

My son with my grandmother.

Fast forward three months and my son, on the tenth day of the tenth month of the tenth year of this century lost his battle with cancer as my grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday.

We lost grandma just a few weeks ago, barely three years after my mother and son.

Do you mourn a death or celebrate a life?


It’s very natural to mourn.  We have experienced a great loss that leaves a void in our lives.  Filling that void takes some time.  I would no longer be able to call Mom when I was watching a stupid movie only to find out she too was waiting for the movie to get better, until it was over.  My son would no longer be teasing his siblings and making us all laugh with his antics.

We miss them every day but life will go on.  My wife describes it best.  There is a place in our hearts where we keep them near us.  Every now and then, we feel the pain.  We let it out and feel our loss and then we put it away for another day because we know they would be angry if we let the loss consume us and take us away from our granddaughter, our three other children and the rest of our families.

There is no “getting over” the loss of a child.  It’s never easy but we expect to eventually lose our parents.  You need to get through it in order to move on.  That’s when you make the choice to celebrate a life.

Celebrate life.

Today is a day to celebrate.  My son had almost 24 years in this world and my grandmother almost 93.  We still have three wonderful children and a beautiful granddaughter to share life with.

There is a choice to make.  Get stuck in that dark place of grief and continue to mourn our loss or make a decision to get up and dust ourselves off and get on with life.  Today, I choose to celebrate the lives of my son and my grand mother.  Our lives were enriched and great lessons were taught by both.



My son fought for two years to make sure his daughter had a chance to know him.  He spent his last few months working to ensure his daughter would have some great memories of her father.  The picture to the left was taken as he recovered from having a lung removed.  That bought him another year.



Pivot point, birth of a child.

God bless the mother of his child who, although they didn’t make it as a couple, she remained his friend and co-parent. She worked with my son in that last few months to take my granddaughter on what adventures they could.  Visits to the CN Tower etc.  She has been amazing and continues to make sure our granddaughter stays in touch with us and the family.

My son is one of my greatest heroes.  He showed courage and strength when others might have just given up.  He put his daughter’s needs ahead of his own and worked to ensure there would be lasting memories so that she would never doubt that her father loved her.


Grandma_Grandpa_Dad-webMy grandmother was a woman who led by example.  When my grandfather went to war, she went to work in the grocery stores cutting meat to put food on the table.  In later years, she became a vice president of the union.  She too, worked to make sure she left a great legacy and she succeeded.

I remember hours playing Canasta as we were selling paintings and I remember travelling to union conventions where it became very evident that she was highly thought of.  Yet another of the great heroes in my life.

Do you mourn death or celebrate life?

The answer is…both!

Take the time to mourn death.  We need that time to heal so that we can continue.

Once you have faced all of the feelings that will flood over you, get back up and celebrate life.

Celebrate the lives of the ones lost so that their memories can become moments that warm your heart and give you the energy to go and create your own legacy.  Let them be models for you.

Most of all, celebrate your own life.  Even the trials because each trial teaches you something that will lead to making a great life.  In my case, I choose today, to celebrate two people who enriched my life.  Each has taught me to appreciate each new day and make the best of it.

What will you choose?


Make it a great day,


P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful my younger son is coming home from out west to visit.  I’m thankful we are picking my granddaughter up tonight for a couple of days and will meet her new sister.  I’m thankful for the best life partner, my wife, who has been an angel at my side whenever I face a life challenge.

What are you thankful for today?