Only Child on problems and anxiety

Pondering problem solving

A couple of weeks ago I had a fast lesson in something I believe in. It is something a bit off kilter from the usual psychological thinking about anxiety and problems. A lot of the thinking is on getting the anxious person to calm down, meditating, etc.

Well, folks that never worked with me because that doesn’t make the problem go away  or solve it. And I have almost a lifetime experience of being anxious and worrying. I come from it honestly – both my parents (my mother, in particular, were worry warts. Mom, could have won a prize as Biggest Worry Wart). So, maybe it is in the genes.

First, a disclaimer here – if the above don’t count as disclaimers – I am one of many people who have too many problems to deal with – often at once, at minimum one right after the other.

So, my lesson.

It really was something stupid. As often happens for whatever reason – health issues getting in the way again, too many things to do – I was running late to get out of the house and get to something very important – a TV taping for my latest book Beyond Faith on the Liquid Lunch at I am known for being really early or somewhat late, but this time I wanted to be a bit early.

After piling on all the winter outer clothing (another reason to hate winter), I raced outside. I had checked online for bus times, but of course, I got a later bus – but didn’t have to wait long for it. On the bus, I was practically having a panic attack, demanding that I get there on time to you-know-who.

For some reason I looked at my watch and had to look again.

According to my watch I was one hour early. I had to check the watch several times to make sure it was running. The second hand was going around at its usual speed, so the watch was working.

That was confirmed by the digital time at the subway station when the bus arrived there and I went down to the platform.

Somehow, while on the computer doing work before leaving I had misread the time on the computer.

Thank you, God, I said in my head.

And the worry, the anxiety suddenly left me and I felt calm and relieved and I had extra time, so stopped in a shop to get something I was going to get afterwards and did a bit of walking. I arrived about 20 minutes early – plenty of time to chat with the producer and sign the form and get inside the actual studio for the taping.

And I didn’t meditate or do any calming exercises. The problem disappeared and that was that. Not that all problems will disappear this easily. Many require a lot of work. But I still believe solving the problems is better medicine than meditation, etc.

Now, I have to apply my beliefs with two problems I now have – the guy I was paying to shovel my snow  didn’t show up this morning to shovel yesterday afternoon’s/evening’s and overnight’s snow – just under 10 cm. And of course with my precarious health, I am having more respiratory-virus related problems.

So, I will have to shovel the snow, which is not good for my health. Also I am a senior, so add that to health issues.  I may do some shoveling today and some tomorrow.

As for that snow shovellng guy – unless he is sick or his kid is sick, he will get the “gift of my wrath.” Those who follow this blog know I tend to treat people as they treat me – good and bad.

And that interview about my book? Here’s the link to where posted it to You Tube. It is also archived on their website.

Meantime I’ll be doing this.

And this is how I feel about it all.



Only Child Writes




Filed under Actions Consequences, Anxiety, Health, Health Seniors, Life demands, Meditation, Mom and Dad, Only child, Problems, snow shovelling

Only Child weighs in on Toronto’s plans to mitigate extreme weather

Rooftop Garden Ryerson University Toronto. Sharon A. Crawford photo

Continuing on from last week’s post on extreme weather and the devastation it causes, some places are actually doing something. The City of Toronto, for example is tackling the flooding issue by upgrading its storm and sewer systems in the older parts of Toronto. I live in one of them and because a previous council and Mayor screwed up back in 2000, with the sewers in my area (they put in the wrong type that apparently don’t do the job), it all has to be done again. My area is scheduled to have the streets, etc. dug up in 2020 or 2021. Because of the mess and more than inconvenience to me and the others in my neighbourhood with that fiasco, I am on watch and warning and have let my councillor know and why.

But the city councillors may have learned some lessons in that all upgrades will be done with other repairs, upgrades in the area at the same time, finishing up one area with all – sewers, street lights, intersections, streetscapes on the main street-  before going to the next. And we will have contact people and their info to nail if things go wrong. They are also going to make sure we know where to put our garbage and recycling during that time as that was one of the big complaints in 2000.

Logistics covered, what exactly is the point of the new storm sewers as far as basement flooding is concerned? I know from experience that not all basement flooding is caused by sewer systems that can’t hold all the excess rainfall water. My situation of basement flooding has a lot to do with foundation cracks, most of which are the fault of that jerk contractor Nigel Applewaite who didn’t do the water proofing correctly – he didn’t dig down far enough and when I called him on it, blamed it on drains and said to get the drains checked by the City. I did – twice – no problem then.

But, old storm sewers, catch basins and the like can factor in. I just have to look on my street and neighbouring streets to see how few catch basins there are and how the water puddles on the street. And why do I have two catch basins close together on my street when the others basins are so far apart? For those  more information on how storm sewers and the like operate go here.  As all this takes time, let’s hope it isn’t too little too late.

The other thing the City of Toronto has been doing  since 2010 requires new buildings of a certain height (and other criteria) to build a roof garden – this one is mainly to create more diversity, but also to help offset one aspect of global warming – help keep roofs and inside cooler on those extreme hot and humid summer days. Vegetation will do that. In fact Toronto has been touted as being the North American city with the most green roof space.

Then there is  global warming and one other thing cities seem to have way too much of – concrete. Concrete does not absorb water from rainstorms. Maybe the city should also consider getting rid of a lot of the concrete on the ground and putting in grass or gardens. Actually, there is some progress here. My area’s sewer replacement program includes putting in a water garden in the middle of one of the residential roads. Maybe we need more of that. And downtown open areas are being made into parks. Which is all good.

Here are some links to roof and other gardens.

Twelve of Toronto’s Roof Gardens

Toronto Botanical Gardens

High Park Garden in Toronto

Meantime, the extreme weather keeps barrelling in everywhere in the world. No place is safe anymore to live. God doesn’t seem to be doing much, if anything,  to help so we have to try to fix it ourselves.

I can’t put in a roof garden – even if I could afford it. My roof slants. But I have over the years planted perennial, herb and vegetable gardens in the ground – front and back of the house. I’ve had my downspouts disconnected and had extensions put on them, and have heat cables on the roof to try to melt snow and prevent it from changing to ice and ending up with ice jams, which when melting can end up in the basement. And letting others know who not to hire to water proof their basements.

What are you doing to offset global warming and the like?



Only Child Writes

Rooftop Garden Ryerson University up close. Sharon A. Crawford photo





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Filed under Basement Flooding, Gardens, Global Warming, Only child

Devastation from unholy weather continues in eastern Canada and US

Downtown Johnson, Vermont after flooding and snow. Dan Noyes photo

The disastrous weather continues and escalates. We in Toronto, Canada were spared – this time – with a bit of freezing drizzle and a bit of snow at the end of last week, but the east coast of Canada (particularly Corner Brook, Newfoundland and the United States (particularly Vermont) got flooded and iced out.

We are living in war zones, folks, and it doesn’t look like it will get better.

For those of you who blame all climate change on us humans – that  isn’t the whole story. When 20 to 21 per cent of climate change is caused by volcanoes, you can’t put the guilty tag on humans for that one. And there are scientific and historical facts that bluntly point to humans not being responsible. There is also plenty of the reverse – humans caused climate change and in doing so all the mess our climate is in now.

Here are a few links for both sides of the global warming issue. I’ll let you read for yourself and decide.

One hundred reasons why climate change is natural and not man-made

And a CBC story from Newfoundland with interviews, photos and videos of the devastation here
You can Google for more stories – pro and con.
My take? Some human causes; some “natural” causes.
And maybe “dog” spelled backwards has something to do with the natural causes – depending on what your beliefs are about God and how the world began.
One thing is clear to me. God does not seem to be listening to us most of the time when we ask to be spared from the devastating weather that destroys our homes, our cities and towns, our countries, our lives – yes, floods, ice storms, etc. kill people. Or help us when we ask for help in the aftermath. I am always amazed, and yes dismayed, when people who have lost their homes and are displaced thank God they are still alive. Be that as it may, I would like to revisit their stories six months down the road and see how they feel then.
So what is the answer?
I haven’t got one that will fix it all. But folks, I do know, we have to deal with all this devastation ourselves- prevention, when it happens, and afterwards. We are doing the latter  two – we are forced to. Prevention? Yes, some places had plans to fix that damn, etc., but then the floods came – with heavy rains. Too little too late.
Next post I’m going to show what the City of Toronto is doing towards the flooding issue (and let’s hope it is not too late).
Meantime, here is another recent flooding picture from Newfoundland

Washout near Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Anthony Germain CBC photo

Only Child Writes


Filed under Extreme Weather, Floods, God

Only Child says snow and rain four-letter words

The weather outside is, has been and will be horrid this winter. This is not just in southern Ontario, but all over Canada, all over the US, all over the world. We can’t get away from it – no matter where we live. We cannot run; we cannot hide. This is a sad and sorry fact of life. And for those Pollyannas who look on the so-called bright side of the weather, unfortunately there isn’t much of a bright side with weather except for the sun when it is actually shining – not when the weather forecasts call for sunshine. What is called for and what is predicted don’t always match.

But often they do match – and it can get bad as the folks in Florida and other southern states found out a few days ago with the snow and freezing rain and in 2017 with the hurricanes. Then there are all the forest fires, floods, and tornadoes. As an example, if you want to put it in dollars and cents (definitely, not “sense”), the cost for all these “natural” disasters in the US for 2017 was $306 billion dollars. And these disasters also killed people. Read the story here in the Washington Post – story also goes into disasters around the world.

On a personal level in winter I am now in constant alert and have to do so many extra chores to try to protect my  small bungalow and its small property.  I have two sets of heat cables – one on the roof and in the eavestroughs and one around one downspout and its extension where ice jams form in below zero (Celcius) weather. I have snow on the roof to worry about and this year especially one corner where it piled up. This was in the Christmas holidays when no one was around to help me. So there I was standing on a patio chair and trying to remove the worst of it with a light-weight bamboo rake. To paraphrase a saying of a late aunt who was only 4’ll”, “I don’t know why the bad Lord made me so short.” I am only 5 ‘1″ and this is one of the few times I resent my lack of height. At that point I wasn’t concerned if it killed me, but because I was concerned about getting maimed, I was careful. I did manage to knock some off the eavestrough part, but the rest was stubborn – the heat cables were working for the rest of the roof and eavestroughs, but not that one corner  right in front of the chimney. I didn’t want and don’t want water getting into my attic or basement when it melts or my roof to collapse.

And for the first time in 10 years I don’t  have someone to shovel my snow regularly and for pay. Christmas Day, when my son and his girlfriend came to visit, they had to finish shovelling what I had struggled to do earlier that day. I notice some of my neighbours helping other neighbours shovelling some of their snow and without being asked.  But none of them bother with helping me with the snow shovelling when it is heavy. I guess they figure I’m out there shovelling and I can do it. Hah!

We have a warm spell now and it should help some. But not for long as we are going to get hit with a heavy storm Friday into Saturday – depending on where we live it might include ice. And that terrifies me because I remember the big ice storm here of December 2013, including its big power outage.

Monday morning there was a two-hour power outage and it included my area – this one had nothing to do with weather but everything to do with Hydro One screwing up with getting its power supply to Toronto.

Fortunately my street and the surrounding area was spared. A miracle? Does it give me hope for the future? Like snow and rain and hell, hope is a four-letter word. Over the years, and particularly the last 17, I’ve learned that particularly where weather is concerned, it is best not to wallow in being Polyanna. So I expect the worst because a lot of the time it happens. I have learned not to take much for granted. I have learned to be thankful for what is good that happens and to express my gratitude for it. But I have learned that unfortunately life contains a big hunk of darkness. Do I embrace this darkness? Never. But I am wary and try to keep informed.

Maybe that is my old journalist training. But it is more likely to be what I have learned from living. And I am a senior so I think I can truthfully say I have been around for a few decades.

Below are a few photos to recap the horrid weather in 2017



Only Child Writes

Backyard patio snowed in


Williams Lake fire,photo courtesy of Stephane Livolski – from The Weather Network


François Lussier rows along a flooded street in the town of Rigaud, Que., west of Montreal, on May 8, 2017.

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Filed under Eavestroughs and dowspouts, Extreme Weather, Ice Storm Southern Ontario, Life demands, Snow, snow shovelling, Uncategorized

Only Child’s 2018 resolutions for public transit riders

Toronto transit streetcar – the old kind with little room

I have posted previously on the inconsiderateness of public transit riders, particularly on Toronto’s TTC. Since then I have observed more bad uncivilized behaviour and I’m not even referring to anything violent. So instead of boring you with my New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would list some of these  public transit mis-behaviours where the perpetrators need to make resolutions to change.

But before I do, I would like to give kudos and my gratitude to the baby buggy brigade – at least 85 per cent who have really smartened up since my last post on this. Mothers and fathers with baby buggies on buses, streetcars and subways are really trying hard not to take up too much space. And I try to do my part for those who take an especially considerate approach. I, in turn, approach them and thank them.

Now, here are the situations on public transit requiring  those inconsiderate public transit users to consider trying to change this year.

1. Blocking the way in and out – on buses standing at the front, texting or swinging between poles (as I caught one young woman doing and as the drive said nothing to her, I did. From her response, she clearly was on some drug), with their bags taking up even more room. And they aren’t even getting off at the next stop and the bus isn’t even crowded. People have difficulty passing by them to get on or off. Ditto on subways when not crowded in rush hour  – people standing in the doorways and texting while there are clear signs by the doors or on the doors “do not block doorways.” My solution is to first make sure they aren’t getting off at my stop and as I go by I tell them they are blocking the doorway or way out.

2. Standing at the top of or bottom of  or actually on steps in subway stations and texting. Not only is that inconvenient for others going up and down the stairs, especially for us oldsters who have to hang onto the railing, it could prove hazardous for the person texting. In rush hour, crowds hurrying up and down stairs may not realize someone is standing in the way and texting. Could be a nasty accident. Solution: get out of the way. Do your texting on the subway platform (most subway stations now have wi fi) or on the level above the stairs.

3. Young healthy people hogging the blue seats which are meant for seniors, anyone who is disabled, and parents with kids. I will give credit to most who do move when someone with a cane gets on the bus or subway and there are a few kind souls (men and women) who offer me a seat  because I am a senior.

4. People who hog extra seats for their bags of groceries, suitcases and even their purses. Even more insulting is when they do this and just sit there texting, oblivious to those who are left standing.

5. People who are too lazy to move to the window seat – whether they put  bags or not on the seat beside them, so anyone who wants to sit down has to climb over their big feet, etc.

All who are guilty of any of the above (and other inconsiderate behaviour), take note and try to change your ways. Remember it is public transit, not private transit. If you want to take over the seats and space, use Uber or a regular cab. or hire a limo.

And transit drivers aren’t all good guys and gals, either. Without going into a long list here are some driver issues that need changing in 2018: those drivers who find it more important to make the light before it changes then pick up passengers just arrived at the stop (probably because they had to cross at that light), keep to your schedule no later or earlier than five minutes for the scheduled stop time – I’m fed up with two buses – same number and same route – one minute apart instead of the 10 to 12 minutes they are supposed to be.

And one more thing, transit drivers If a passebner is doing one of the above five – at least on a bus or streetcar- please set them straight. It should really not be up to the passengers to do your job.

And that’s it. Feel free to post this on your blog or wherever.

And any comments here are welcome, especially if you have stories to tell about bad  actions of transit riders and drivers.

Happy 2018!



Only Child Writes


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Filed under New year's resolutions, Only child, Public Transit, Public transit riders bad

Only Child on Christmas present

Martin and Juni by Christmas tree

I play all the Christmas songs over and over again because they  may be our only hope for good times in this world, not just during the Christmas season but in 2018. And since I promised in last week’s post that this week ‘s post would deal with what Christmas means to me today, here goes. Things have definitely changed. The only magic about Christmas is in those songs and the Christmas (new and old) movies on TV. So, I’m going to do a summary of some of the things that got messed up in my lead-up to Christmas and well, on Christmas Day too. It serves as an example, personally, but sadly some of it is the way it is elsewhere.

1. I got sick with a throat infection including a cough December 11. It lasted about a week. I had to cancel going to the Christmas dinner held by the writers networking group I belong to. Turns out three others were just getting sick and probably not going.

2. That same week I was sick, we had some rain mixed with snow and because some snow was already on the ground, some water got in the basement in the corner by the entrance from driveway to backyard. Not the usual place for water to get in and not anything to do with the contractor who messed up waterproofing on the other side. Just weather and we know who controls that and it’s not The Weather Network or Environment Canada. So I had to get the handyman in to add heating cables to the outside of the downspout. Now I go from roof heating cables to downspout cables as turning both on at the same time will cause the circuit breaker for that area to kick in and I lose power in that area of the house – inside and out.

3. I decided to take two weeks off from client work and book promo from December 19. Because of the house crap and being sick I got behind in getting the little bit of food and two more Xmas presents I still had to buy. Because I don’t have a car it was numerous trips on public transit  three afternoons in a row. I ended up returning home in rush hour which was particularly slow and miserable  the third day because some of the subway service was cut out for a few hours a someone jumped onto the tracks at a subway station. While I usually have empathy for someone so troubled they want to end it all, that doesn’t extend to jumping in front of a train because it messes it all up for thousands of commuters. Enough said here.

4. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We already had a white Christmas from a previous recent snowfall and didn’t need anymore. But I guess God decided otherwise. Christmas Day I got out there to shovel at least the veranda and enough of the driveway so my son could get his girlfriend’s dad’s car in. But it was too much and I was out of breath and shaking my fist at the sky. When Martin phoned I told told him about the situation and he said just to shovel a narrow path for them to get in and he would shovel the driveway, which he did with Juni’s help around the back of the house. But not before…

5. The power suddenly went out late Christmas morning. “No! No! No!” I yelled, shaking my fist at the sky and telling God to get the power back on – after all it is Christmas Day and as I found out when I called Toronto Hydro – it was widespread in East York and Scarborough parts of Toronto. For once God must have heard (must be because of many thousands of people affected) – power went back on five minutes later, so I adjusted the only two electric clocks I have in the kitchen. Then the power went off again and I did my fist-shaking at the sky scenario again. But it came back on two minutes later and stayed on. But I left the wall clock as is,  hanging crookedly, just in case.

These are just a few things. You didn’t want me to summarize them all – that would be at least a book chapter. But, if you go through them, you can see that at least four of them are representative of what is going on in the world today. Some places in Canada, and elsewhere, got worst weather and had longer power outages. And not just at Christmas. This is a year long thing and is indicative of the world going to hell (or should that be heaven?) in a very over-sized basket.

And then there are the crowds shopping before and after (Boxing Day sales – I no longer do the latter) although online buying is helping to diminish the in person shopping and crowding. Getting sick with viruses and other things is way up in winter all over. For example, the Weather Network’s graph of flu occurrences shows widespread in southern Ontario. And that’s just one area. It looks like the world is killing us. Because of all this, personal and worldwide, church attendance and religion (except for the extreme fanaticism) is down. With the weather New Year’s Eve and Christmas Day, attendance was lowered it even more.

Okay, there was one bright spot at Christmas – Martin and Juni spending Christmas Day here with me. We exchanged presents and had good conversations sitting in the living room near the tree. (See photo above for my tiny not real Christmas tree – rather appropriate but more because my tiny house has no room for big trees). Dinner which I cooked was good – we cleaned our plates and dessert dishes – despite me overcooking the brussel sprouts and the chicken – which I had placed upside down in the roasting pan. Martin had brought the fresh strawberries I had asked him to bring in case I didn’t get the apple crisp made. I did make the crisp on Christmas Eve. So we ate some strawberries with ice cream for dessert and I sent some of the apple crisp in a plastic container home with them.

Martin also did some updating/upgrading of the operating system on my Mac laptop – which took four and a half hours but he just had to check it occasionally for the downloads and then do the installation. They also got here safely and back home safely.

So all that made my Christmas. The rest is all true over the world. Unfortunately. God needs to listen to us and help us. Clearly, we aren’t doing it right and maybe can’t do it alone. I’m not holding my breath, though. I am someone who has learned from experience and what I have learned doesn’t bode too well for planet earth.

But let’s hope I’m wrong. May 2018 be better for all of us.

Next week I’ll go into New Year’s Resolutions, with a twist.



Only Child Writes

Sharon and Martin Christmas Day



Filed under Christmas, Christmas stress, Church Attendance, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Only child, Problems, Snow, Winter Weather, World Environment

Only Child on Christmases past

When I was a child (back in the grey ages, of course) there was no Facebook, no Smart phones and no Internet. We had phones – even party lines – at least in the country. We certainly didn’t walk aimlessly on streets or block subway stairs while texting. Things were somewhat simpler then, and although not perfect, perhaps we can learn from looking back into our childhood or for those who are under 45, we can talk to those whose childhood was in the 1950s, 1960s and even 1970s.

Here are a few of my remembrances to share for Christmas.

Before Christmas, my Mom and I would share our Christmas wrapping in a unique way. She would be wrapping mine and some of Dad’s presents in the kitchen and I would be in the dining room right next door wrapping hers and some of Dad’s. Mom had put away her sewing machine which usually sat on the dining room table to make room for wrapping,paper, scotch tape, presents, etc. A closed door hid what we were each doing. Paramount was keeping the gifts secret until Christmas morning. When either of us needed more wrapping paper from the other room, we would loudly give warning so the other person could quickly cover up the unwrapped presents. When wrapped they were all placed under the 6 foot tree in one corner of our tiny living room.

The tree was where Dad came  After it was brought home (and it was a real tree), he would work his magic fitting the tree into the stand – often a long tricky process that left me sitting in the kitchen (no presents around then) staring up at the clock and listening to Jingle Bells on the radio and waiting impatiently to help decorate the tree with the boxes of decorations and lights Mom had brought up from the basement. But when the tree was up, I had to wait even longer until Mom and Dad strung up the lights. Then the moment arrived when Dad plugged them in.

Nothing. No lights. Back then the only way to find out the dead light bulb, was to try each socket  individually with a bulb we knew worked until we found the culprit. But it was worth the wait, especially when we could add the ornaments, the tinsel and the angel on top (Mom or Dad did the latter. I was too short).

Sometimes just before Christmas Day, my godmother, my mother’s younger sister would make a “flying” visit (by car) from the farm for a quick visit. Then Mom would cook a bird. And she didn’t just stick to turkey – it was sometimes a duck, chicken or goose.

When Christmas morning arrived, I was allowed to check my stocking. Nothing else. That had to wait until breakfast and then Mass at Holy Cross Catholic Church. We had no car, so either walked there and back or got a ride from one of Mom and Dad’s friends who lived nearby. At church, the pastor who was long-winded, did shorten his talk after the gospel reading but it was still too long for a kid impatient to open her presents and more important to see her parents open what she had given them.

Back at the house we unwrapped the presents. Yes, I got dolls from “Santa” but clothes and games, too. Dad got the usual dad presents of socks and ties. One year Dad and I went into a jewellery store to get Mom’s gift. But it wasn’t jewellery we were after. I wanted to get Mom a china decoration of fruit to hang on the kitchen wall. Dad, of course, had to pay for it.

If my aunt hadn’t dropped in, Mom cooked the turkey (or goose, etc.) for dinner and we stuffed ourselves. Or we took the bus and streetcar to Dad’s younger sister’s place in what is now Toronto’s Annex area. We shared Christmas dinner with my aunt and uncle, my grandmother, and their three daughters. One Christmas, the youngest one, my age, and I pretended we were private eyes, sure the grownups couldn’t see us through the banister, sitting on the stairs in the hallway My cousin and I peeked into the dining room and listened to the grownups talk and scribbled down notes. What we planned to do with them, we didn’t know.

Sometime our grandmother, who lived there, took us upstairs to her tiny attic apartment on the third floor for a private visit and chat. Always, there were three presents still under the tree and my aunt made it known that they were for her eldest daughter whose birthday was on Boxing Day and she couldn’t open her presents until the next day.

That was then. Now things are so different and not so nice in some ways in the world and that and personal experiences over the years have changed my view of Christmas  and how I spend it. And maybe some of what is important and what is not.

Stay tuned for next week’s post with a bit of what Christmas and New Year’s mean to me today.

How do  you spend Christmas? Is it different from your childhood Christmases? If so, how? And why?

Hope all of you have a good and healthy Christmas or whatever holiday you are celebrating and however you are spending it.



Only Child Writes

Christmas carolers showing the Christmas spirit in song

Only Child with her late Mom and Dad obviously not at Christmas


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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Christmas, Christmas tree, Dad, Family