Category Archives: Christmas

The miracle of the upside-down turkey

20191224_110950.jpgThe thought that another decade was ending really snuck up on me. My 5th decade on this planet is coming to a close and my 6th decade is ascending quickly on me. My father was born late in the 1920’s; 2020 will be his 11th decade, and my mother enters her 10th decade, I wonder how they feel about it. Perhaps my life has been more hectic than normal this year; it may have been a year of survival event by event, the realization that we were heading into the 2020’s did not hit me until a week ago.

My year-ends used to be marked by tearing out the year end music charts from the newspapers.  I used to buy all the newspapers to make sure I didn’t miss a single one – whether I listened to that radio station or not. Now, there is not a souvenir music chart to be seen in print by December 31st.  I hope the years of charts I have saved will survive and will demonstrate how different it was only a few years ago. I hope that in the newspapers I buy on December 31st this year I might find a “end of the decade” best chart.

It was a political banner year for me, and this is not just by judging success and accomplishments, but by measuring what I have learned about the people in politics, whether they are friends or foes.  As great as the 8 weeks in Barrie-Innisfil was, I am sure some of my plans may have run counter to what was done before and not have been what were expected.  I can say in all honesty that I learned more from the volunteers than they would have got back from me.  The volunteers were fabulous!

The work done for John Brassard in re-electing him  by almost doubling his margin of victory was a phenomenal experience; however, we had to temper that with the Conservatives not forming government, it was a difficult few weeks to get through.   When all the staff came back to Ottawa from across Canada, I could tell many of my colleagues felt the same way.  Happy to have won, but still sitting in Opposition.

The challenge I had to work through (and still do) was that both the Liberals and the NDP lost seats but there seemed to be no pressure for either Trudeau or Singh to step down.  Rather it was Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, someone I have known for several years, that made the choice to step aside.  Leadership races can be exciting, but they can be divisive as well – I don’t think we every really resolved differences following the previous conservative leadership took place in 2017.  I hope the 2019 race fixes that.

It has been quite a year seeing friends and former co-workers deal with challenging health situations. Some have been comfortably sharing publicly their trials, tribulations, successes and relapses.  I am grateful for them for sharing everything as I am more than happy to offer my prayers for good health and best outcomes.  Sadly, the list gets longer each year.

This year I added my name to the list as I had a moment with prostate cancer.  I am not one to say “f*@k Cancer”, I know others are and that’s OK.  My father has beaten prostate cancer – I knew I would be a likely candidate to have the signs and chance that I would be diagnosed positive. Like others, I had to go through weeks waiting for the for the ultrasound and then the biopsy and further for the results.  I received good news, of the samples taken for the biopsy cancer was found to be in one of the 13 samples – and at less than 1%.

I got lucky, so many others don’t, and I am so thankful for outcome I was given a few months ago.

Turkey in our home is an event, an all-day event.  With thanks from my former Mother-in-Law we have never had a bad turkey at Christmas.  The day starts with the turkey in a brine, overnight if the turkey was frozen or for 5 hours if it’s a fresh turkey. A few years ago, we started getting our turkey from the Glebe Meat Market, I was introduced to them through Daybreak Housing.  Daybreak would receive turkeys as a donation for our tenants Christmas dinner and I would cook one of the five birds.

This year we began before 7am; the turkey goes in the brine; the stuffing is prepared and by 11:30am the bird was in the oven.  It was stuffed properly and all that we needed to wait for the 4 hours cooking time and the proper temperature was achieved, but that seemed to be a problem.  After what was an hour longer than normally required to cook, we took the turkey out.

Everything else was ready to be eaten, the turkey seemed to have taken its time.

The craving of the turkey proved to be not only a problem but also a resolution.  For a 16 lb. turkey it seemed to be all skin and bones. Where was the meat, where was the juicy breast meat? It seems to have melted away I was quite concerned – dinner was going to be a disaster.  More eyes were obviously needed.

Four of us stood and looked the turkey, we were perplexed – something was not right.  In fact, something was not the right side up!  Maybe I was just not thinking, or not remembering or really had no idea what I was doing but I had placed the turkey upside down in the roasting pan – what?!  The breasts weren’t able to cook and brown sitting on the bottom of the roasting pan.

We managed to get well fed with correctly cooked stuffing and turkey by carving the meat after we flipped the bird and popped it back in the oven for another 30 minutes.  It was a miracle and delicious!  I know I am guaranteed to be reminded of this for years to come!

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

11 (New) Christmas Classics Part 2

Chris Rea – Driving Home for Christmas

For a song that was once relegated as a B-side to a 45 in 1986, Driving Home for Christmas was released as an A Side in1988, it has since become a new Christmas classic. Chris Rea originally wrote the song for Van Morrison – as a car version of a carol as he describes it.   Driving seems to be the UK version of Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas is You, as Driving Home for Christmas,, charts annually in the UK and in 2017 achieved it highest chart position of #14.  The song is ranked in the top 10 of Christmas songs.

Jon Anderson – 3 Ships

Yes frontman released his solo fourth Lp, a Christmas album in 1985.  Though not a critical or commercial success, 3 Shipsis a favourite of mine and it’s played every year. Watch the original video, and try not to cringe at technique in the making of the video, it was 1985 afterall,

Sting – Soul Cake

From the album “Winter Song”, Soul Cake is in reality an All Hallows Eve song about souls. The term soul cake goes back to 1893.  There is even a recipe for a soul cake.  I think the lyrics of the song lend itself to a Christmas the tune itself fits nicely into my Christmas mixes.

If you haven’t got a penny
A ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny 
Then God bless you

The Eagles – Please come Home for Christmas

The Eagles recorded this 1960 hit in 1978. Written and recorded and by Charles Brown, the song charted annually eventually hitting #1 in 1972.  The Eagles version topped out at 18 in ’78.  Please come Home for Christmas, been a hit 8 other times in the last 25 years, but the Eagles have the definitive version in the modern rock era.

Paul Simon – Getting ready for Christmas Day

Getting Ready for Christmas Day Paul Simon’s effort to secure the UK Christmas Number One in 2010 (he did not succeed).  But Simon did leave us with a new Christmas song born out of the rhythm of his Graceland Lp and the lyrics that reflect realities of the new millennium. 

Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime

John Lennon and Yoko On wrote Happy Xmas (war is over) in 1972, no one knows if Paul McCartney was just waiting for the right time to write his own Christmas song.  In 1979 McCartney wrote and single handily recorded Wonderful Christmastime, it hit #6 on the UK Charts and #83 in the US. Since ’79, the song has been recorded 25 times; my favourite versions are from the Barenaked Ladies, The Shins and Jimmy Fallon and the Roots (with McCartney) BUT nothing tops the original, 


Everyone has their favourites, these ten, I mean eleven (I could not help myself) are some of mine, I hope you enjoy them and add them to your annual Christmas playlist. I can’t wait for more new Christmas classics in the years to come.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker@rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

10 (New) Christmas Classics Part 1

Christmas time is back and all the great music is back with it!  Here (in two parts) I present 10 songs that should be called Christmas Classics.

Run with the Fox – Chris Squire and Alan White

Born out of the failed launch of a new band XYZ with Jimmy Page, the Yes bassist and drummer, Run with the Fox was written and recorded in 1981and released under Chris Squire/ Alan White partnership. The Boys Choir and musical arrangements including the classic Yes bass guitar sound, just ooze Christmas.  I feel lucky that I have a promo copy of the 45 from 1981 scooped up (with permission) from a radio station I was interning in that year.  Take a listen

Christmas Must Be Tonight – The Band

Jimmy Nelson in Something Else called Christmas Must Be Tonight an unjustly overlooked Christmas classic, here’s the link ofthe review  Nelson gives more history into the tune, so I’ll let his review tell the story of the sone.

Since reading Robbie Robertson’s Testimony a couple years back and diving head first into to The Band, it’s become of one my Yule faves.   The song was recently covered by another Canadian band Blue Rodeo for their Christmas offering A Merrie Christmas to You

2000 Miles – The Pretenders

For a recently written Christmas song, 2000 Miles has been covered quite a few times.  Originally written for the Pretenders late guitarist James Honeyman-Scott in 1983, 2000 Miles charted at #14 in the UK that year.  In North America it was a B-Side to the single, Middle of the Road. This year I heard for the first time the 2003 Coldplay version, which is quite stunning.  The contract between the beautifully played guitar-focused Pretenders recording the piano based Coldplay version was great for my ear to behold. From 1995, here’s a performance video of the song with a nice string arrangement by Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders,

All I want for Christmas is You – Mariah Carey

What else can you say about a song that makes a Top 100 return every year since its release, but to say it is a new Christmas classic.  The song topped out at number 9 in 1994, but has made an appearance on the Billboard chart almost annually since then.  Many artists have recorded the song and a duet of the song appeared on Justin Beiber’s Christmas alum in 2011. “All I want for Christmas is You is the 11th best selling song in music history.  Love itor not, this song is here to stay,

Step into Christmas – Elton John

1973 saw Elton John score another number one hit with Step into Christmas.  It was the top Billboard Christmas song of the year.  Teamed up with the B-Side Ho Ho Ho (Who’d be a Turkey for Christmas) Elton finished a successful musical year with a real Yule winner.  In ’73 it reached spot 24 on the charts and in 2017 when it was re-released it almost hit the top 10, stalling at #11.  The song was written and recorded as a tribute the Phil Spector recordings of the 60’s.  in 2009, Step into Christmas as the ninth most played Christmas song in the UK and has received a  UK silver disc for sales. In the video you see Bernie Taupin make a rare appearance with the band ‘playing’ the chimes and shaking bells.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker@rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at