Coffee Advent Calendar

Hello Coffee Lovers,

Would you or a loved one want 24 bags of coffee for advent? Or would you prefer 12 larger bags?

JenEric Coffee has you covered.

Order Now!

This is a pre-order for our Advent Calendars. Flavours will be picked from our current selection and a few experimental flavours.

We will be doing 2 waves; the first wave will ship mid-October. The second will ship mid-November.

Pick up will be available at Can*Con 2019 (October 18-20) or Ottawa Comiccon: Holiday Edition 2019! (November 9-10)

We will be delivering or shipping any orders received before the 31st of September in mid-October. Any orders received between the 1st and 31st of October will be delivered or shipped in mid-November.

Order Now!

Enjoy!

Éric

Holiday Confession

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I have a deep dark secret… 

Something so embarrassing I’m afraid you’ll all hate me.

I’m sorry.

I simply don’t like A Charlie Brown Christmas.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with it. The characters are mean, the plot is boring, and I find it really preachy, but overall it’s just not all that good.

I understand why some might have loads of nostalgia attached to it, but it’s just not my thing.

What do you think about it?
Éric

Tired but alive

Hello,

So the toddler Dragon got a post-con cold last week and I have been fighting off the same thing on top of one of the worst cases of Con fatigue I’ve ever had.

I’m not complaining; the past two events we’ve done were fantastic and I truly appreciate all the kind words and awesomeness that is our business.

I just want a very long nap…

The world is an exhausting place but watching Keladry’s excitement when I unpacked the Christmas stuff last night was wonderful.

I’m off to get some work done

 

Later days,

Éric

Blush: Consent from kids

The last time I talked about consent and kids, I focused on how to teach kids how to ask for consent. This time around, with the holidays here, I want to remind the adults that read this that the children in their lives are not obligated to give hugs or kisses to anyone.

Image from Elise Gravel, a cartoonist.

For example, our daughter is terrified of men with white hair. This includes her great-grandfather, friends of the family, and, of course, Santa Claus.

Although her great-grandfather is getting older, we managed to get a picture of them by having her sit beside him on her father’s knee. It’s not the snuggly picture that we ideally wanted, but it’s a good compromise that lets her know that she has been understood, but still lets us get a picture of them together.

So remember, at holiday parties this year, that just because there is a child involved, does not mean that they are automatically obligated to give you a hug. It doesn’t matter if you’re a super close friend, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or stranger; if the child does not give you a clear indication of consent, don’t touch them!

Our daughter’s consent is uplifted arms, or pro-active climbing onto your lap, in case you come across her this season.

Happy Holidays!


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

The Guardian

What is Christmas without a ghost story?


“Honey, she’s doing it again!” I called out to my husband.

Our five day old daughter had opened her eyes and stopped her vigorous nursing to stare up at seemingly nothing. Milk slowly dripped from me, spreading a wet patch on the pillow underneath her.

She didn’t blink, but abruptly turned her head to stare at another patch of nothing.

A shiver raced down my spine and the hair on my arms stood up in response.

I thought that if a person was standing next to my chair, she would be looking directly into their face.

Just as suddenly, she re-latched and started her hmm-ing of appreciation.

Hmmmmmmm – gulp. Hmmmmmmm – gulp.

She sounded like an old dot-matrix printer, the kind that took four passes to print a single line and had the tear-away sides. I doubted she’d ever get to hear one of those. The next generation of parents wouldn’t associate their child with a printer – that’s probably a good thing, I giggled to myself.

Her eyes opened at the sound, and she stared up at me for a second before focussing on her task again.

My husband appeared in the doorway. She ignored him in favour of eating.

My neck prickled.

What could have distracted her, when a physical human didn’t?

I don’t believe in ghosts, I thought. I knew I was lying to myself. But I know someone who does.

I contacted them the next morning.

“Of course I’ll come visit and snuggle the baby!” they exclaimed.

I didn’t mention my suspicions.

They came over that afternoon, sinking into the well-used couch with a sigh. I passed them the sleeping baby, and she cooed before snuggling into their chest, still asleep.

“Is she always this cuddly?” they whispered, afraid to wake her.

We talked about anything and everything, and as the time for them to leave drew nearer, I got anxious. The baby hadn’t woken, even though we were laughing.

“I think we have a ghost,” I whispered.

Their eyebrows went up. “I haven’t seen any,” they replied.

“She sees them, I think.” I indicated the softly snoring baby.

“If she isn’t afraid, they’re not malicious.” They seemed certain of this. “Keep an eye on her, and I’ll come back another time.”

Every day for the next month, the baby took the time to stare off into space a couple times a day. Most often, it was in her room, next to the nursing chair. Sometimes it was in the living room, behind the couch. Once in our room, at the foot of the bed.

She learned how to smile voluntarily. I watched her smile at empty spaces, and tried to keep the panic at a minimum.

And then it stopped.

She slept less, paid attention to her surroundings more, and I thought that maybe she had been staring at specs of dust. Babies don’t have the greatest vision.

But around Christmas, she let out a tiny squeak and stared into space again, this time for quite a while. I tried to distract her with my breast, but she ignored it completely for at least five minutes, glancing from one spot to another and back.

I contacted my friend immediately. They came over. The baby was awake. They asked to see her room, but there was nothing unusual.

We sat in the living room and played with the baby, until she whipped around and stared beside the couch.

My friend followed her gaze, and gasped, “I see them. Two women.”

My heart in my throat, I looked over at the empty space, seeing nothing. “What do they look like?”

“One is older. Curly grey hair. Rosy red cheeks and a big smile. She’s fairly short, and a bit stout. I think I’ve seen you wear the necklace she’s wearing…thick silver chain? She has a red sweater, and a long kilt in red and green.”

I swallowed hard, tears in my eyes. I tried to speak around the lump in my throat. “That’s my Grannie,” I croaked. I started crying. “She came to meet her great-granddaughter? I miss her so much. Can you tell her that? Does she understand me?”

“She hears you. She put her hand over her heart and is looking right at you.” My friend was crying too. “The other woman is a little younger. Thinning wispy grey hair, small cheeks that pop when she smiles. She’s a bit taller than your Grannie, and much…umm…bigger. She’s wearing a navy blue dress. Her eyes twinkle.”

“My mother-in-law,” I sobbed. “She would have loved her granddaughter. She always wanted a daughter. I miss her too, but not as much as her son does. She’d be so proud of him.”

“She’s nodding and smiling at you. She knows. They’re talking to the baby again. I can’t hear them, only see them, I’m so sorry,” they apologized.

I took a moment, trying to work the words out around the lump in my throat. “Is it normal, not being able to hear them?”

“Quite. I’ve never heard or felt one.”

I got up to get a tissue from the other side of the room. “You need one?” I offered. At the affirmative, I brought the box back over as I sat beside them again. “You’ve never touched a ghost?” I asked, curious. I sniffed and wiped my cheeks.

“No, I haven’t. I’ve never seen a ghost touch a person.” They copied my motions with a tissue of their own, then paused. “Wait. I have, just once. It was a long time ago. A girl was crossing the street, and a car ran a red light. I saw the ghost yank her back out of the way. It was bright daylight, so I wasn’t a hundred percent sure of what I saw, but I think the ghost vanished after saving her life.”

“It’s not exactly like you can conduct an experiment to see for sure.” I gave them a watery smile.

“No, I guess not!” They laughed weakly.

I thanked my friend for both confirming that we were being visited by ghosts, and that they were not only benevolent, but family. “Merry Christmas!” I waved from the doorway as they left the house.

“And Happy New Year!” they called back.

The months flew by. My daughter learned how to crawl, stand, and walk. She babbled at anyone who smiled at her, which made her a joy to bring places.

All too soon, we were getting ready to celebrate another Christmas. We went shopping for presents at a local holiday bazaar, and my husband was carrying her on his shoulders.

What happened next happened faster than your eyes will be able to read this paragraph; my husband bumped into a display of ornaments at the same time as my daughter twisted around to wave at me. He jerked to catch the ornaments, and, her balance thrown off, she launched herself backwards off his shoulders.

I was too far away.

My heart in my mouth, a scream caught in my throat, I watched her tumble headfirst towards the ground. Ghostly hands steadied her fall, tipped her onto her front, and she landed on her stomach, head bouncing a bit on the concrete at the force of impact. My Grannie looked up at me from beside my baby and smiled sadly, blowing me a kiss and waving goodbye before she vanished.

My daughter let out a wild scream, and my legs unfroze, taking me to her side before I had registered the movement.

She was already pulling herself onto her feet, a nasty purple bump swelling on her temple, and buried her face in my neck, sobs shaking her small frame.

My husband, ashen, helped me stand up and led me back to the car to go to the hospital. I knew before we saw the doctor that she would be alright.

Her guardian angel had seen to that, and would visit no longer.

“Thank you for our Christmas miracle,” I whispered.


This story is part of the Renaissance holiday blog roll! Find out what it’s all about here! 

Heart Tea Heart

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I love coffee (if you’ve read this blog for a little you probably know that) but I also have a soft spot for good tea. I mean loose leaf, flavourful, and bold tea.

That’s exactly what you get with all the different blends from Heart Tea Heart.

14021741_709076172580135_6951032992391347810_n

I’m partial to the Knights of Avalon, the English Breakfast, and for reasons that are obvious in the next picture, the Harvest Apple Oolong.

15219985_768048206682931_572801978351135351_n
Heart Tea Heart has a pop-up location for the holidays and is stocking books along with tea. Including mine.

Books and Tea make wonderful presents.

They’re at the Merivale Mall 1642 Merivale Road, Ottawa, Ontario! Go check them out.

map_tile

Also go give them a Like on Facebook, and if you’re out of town, check out their website.

Later days,
Éric

Dear Dragon – Your Gramma

young001

Dear Dragon,

It’s the first of December and that means that Christmas is just around the corner. We’ve been listening to holiday music for the past three weeks and other than “Last Christmas” I’m still loving it.

There are all kinds of reasons I love the holidays, the snow, the presents, sappy movies/tv, spending time with family and friends, but most of all, it’s a time that most people feel more hopeful.

I hope you grow up with the kind of holidays that your Mum and I had. Our parents went out of their way to make it a loving and wonderful time.

As much as I love this time, I’m always a little sad. It reminds me of your Gramma. She loved this time of year, she’d get as excited as a child. I can still picture her with her santa mug of coffee and a mischievous grin.

christmas06001

It wasn’t an easy season for her. She wanted to give me everything the other kids had but couldn’t afford it. I was still spoiled (especially by your Uncle Dan) but I remember the pain on her face when we received food boxes. It hurt her pride but she knew she needed to accept it.

No matter what happened, she made sure it was a great day filled with laughter and family.

She’s been gone for eight years now and when she died I took custody of an old box. It was packed in 1996 and says not to open until 2016. I remember packing it with some of my favourite toys, although I don’t remember the toys.

img_20161129_140122img_20161129_140147

I’m a little conflicted about the box. I want to open it, but I also want to open it with you when you’re old enough to appreciate it… to appreciate her. I’ll decide at the last minute.

She would have loved you sooooooooo much,
Your happy and sad Papa

Santa (or should we tell children the secret?)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Let’s talk about the most imaginary of friends, Santa Claus. I read an article called “In Defence of Santa Claus” and it made me think. (Sorry, no angry rant)

MerryOldSanta

I’m not sure what to do when I, eventually, have children. I discovered the truth about Santa when I was relatively young. It wasn’t a shock or really much of anything. I just realized that my mom and brother had put out the presents.

My wife, on the other hand, was told on the bus and got into a fight (not physical – it involved a lot of yelling) about it and wouldn’t believe it even when her parents told her.

Why was it harder for her than for me? I don’t know. Maybe it was the level of honesty of our parents? My wife’s parents were always completely honest with her.

My mom, on the other hand, reveled in telling fanciful lies. She had me convinced for a long time that one of our ancestors had created French Fries. She even had a long elaborate story to go with it. It was her way of both teasing and training me not to believe everything I hear. They were always interesting and fun. (I miss her.)

So what does that mean? What does a little fib matter if it brings magic to the holidays? Saying that Santa brings magic, makes it sound like those who discover the secret don’t have magical holidays. That’s simply not true. There’s something special about the holidays that is more than the sum of its parts.

I’m leaning towards letting my future kids know that it’s a story. Does that make me:

What’s your opinion on Santa? Malicious lie or Fanciful fib?

Éric

The War on Christmas!

Cartoon by Rob Tornoe https://twitter.com/RobTornoe
Cartoon by Rob Tornoe

This is something I hear about every year. The idea that Christmas is under attack and we need to save it. This year it’s the Starbucks cup conspiracy, but it’s just another example of what people are calling, The War on Christmas! Or the Christmas Controversy.

Since the early 2000’s conservative Christians have gotten extremely upset with people wanting to say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. There are other events like removing Christian iconology from secular institutions, or changing the lyrics to certain songs. The list goes on.

Effectively it’s marketers and governments trying to make the winter holidays more inclusive. Many different cultures celebrate a mid-winter festival around the winter equinox. It’s arguable that Christianity placed Christmas at that time to replace the winter festivals celebrated by converted cultures.

North and South America have been heavily dominated by Christian sects for the past 200 years. The Christmas Industry as we know it is a product of the mid-twentieth century. Like most things it’s grown and changed with each season, adding new things and getting rid of old things.

There is no war on Christmas only the inexorable march of change. Your parents’ holidays, if you celebrated them, was different than yours and will be different than your children’s.

In no other holiday than the winter one are people more stubbornly latched on to the past. Every movie, book, or play about families at this time of year is dripping with the near rabid need to recapture something from childhood.

The flawed and stressful ideal of the “Perfect holiday” drives people completely nuts. All to make sure that the season lives up to some form of unattainable ideal. I’m just as guilty as the next person. I have plenty of traditions that I refuse to let go.

*WARNING SAPPYNESS* In almost all the cultures that celebrate a winter holiday have the same goal, to be with those you love and thank the heavens you’ve made it through the literal dark times.

Beyond that it’s about appreciating the people who are around you. Saying happy holidays isn’t about hating Christmas, it’s about loving your fellow people and including them. Inclusivity is a good thing. More people to party with and get presents from. If you know the person is Christian say merry Christmas, if you know they’re Jewish, say Happy Hanukah, if they’re pagan wish them Happy Yule or Solstice. If you don’t know be respectful and say Happy Holidays.

 

What’s your favorite winter holiday tradition?

Later Days,

Éric