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Merry Christmas to all who visit and connect with VLM

I know the Leafs play in New York tonight, but I have - for me at least - more important things to say and share. If you'd like to comment on the game, feel free, but there will be many others this season and I hope to be watching "It's A Wonderful Life" with one of my sons.  I can't do that every night.  So I may not be as up-to-date on Leaf happenings as I might otherwise be...

Where do I start with this post? Maybe with the obvious. This is, without question, a special time of year for a lot of people.  That said, I also know it is, in fact, an especially difficult time for those who are ill, lonely or feeling downcast for any number of reasons.  But this remains, at least for me, a time of hope and faith.  Faith in the things I believe in, and hope that, for myself but especially for those I care deeply about, they will find peace and some kind of contentment or satisfaction in a world that often can kick good people around.

That comment is not an indictment of society, just the reality of life experience these past 60 plus years.  There are some wonderful people out there and I have encountered many.  But whoever coined the phrase “man’s inhumanity to man” was on to something, eh?

So no, it’s not easy for people sometimes, not even at what is supposed to be a joyous time of year.  I’ll speak for myself, though some of you may share the sentiment: I would be foolhardy not to appreciate all that is good, and especially the love of family. I have lived my life with a quite remarkable woman for more than 35 years and it is a relationship I cherish more than any I have ever had.  We have raised four sons that we are immensely proud of. We lost a son when he was very young many years ago, and that has no doubt made us appreciate our living sons all the more.

So for me, this is a special time of year.  It certainly was when I was a little boy, and receiving, for example, my first Leaf sweater (at Christmas, as I recall—it was the then ‘away’ white Leaf jersey with the blue piping). And it still is special.

My 'joy' tends to be reserved and it may not always be evident by my countenance (I’m not someone who smiles easily, for example) but I know what is important to me—and I’m sure those of you reading this note today know and treasure the things that are important to you, and especially those close to you.

I happen to be a Christian, a Roman Catholic.  I share that simply because I am one of those people who means it when I say “Merry Christmas”.  To me, it’s more than simply a commercial day of buying things (though that’s fun, too!).  While I don't always see eye to eye with the fellows in Rome (I do like this new Pope a lot, however—anyone who takes a bus to work when they are a Cardinal is OK in my book), I live in hope.

I raise this not because it has anything to do with being a Leaf fan (though my Dad being French and Catholic sure seemed to tie in to his being a devoted Hab supporter when I was growing up) but because it is indeed part of who I am when I write here. 

I well recognize that many visiting here “follow” a different faith, or may not have a faith life at all.  We all live by our conscience in the end.  Thank goodness we are not all like-minded, whether in life or with regard to something as insignificant as being a hockey fan. Can you imagine?

What I am really trying to say is, if you celebrate Christmas, for example, I can maybe relate.  If you celebrate this time of year from a different religious or cultural perspective/tradition, I may not be in your shoes, but I hope you find joy and comfort in that personal expression of faith. I also hope that you are always free to express those beliefs and values—wherever you live.

So, I hope no one will take offense when I say Merry Christmas to everyone who visits here, and especially those who take the time to post here either regularly or on occasion.  It’s like languages.  I can only speak English and some of my long lost French but I would wish people here all the best in their own native language if I could.  With that in mind, I wish you all good things—whatever your expression of faith (or not) is.

From a VLM perspective, I have not only corresponded with folks here, but have developed an e-mail relationship with a few of you, and that has been tremendous as well. (I can be reached at Michael@prospectcommunications.com)  But let me make a point, by name, of citing specific individuals who have helped make this site special to me.  I know the “number” of visitors here no doubt pales compared with most of the large Leaf sites, but the quality of the posts here makes it worthwhile, at least for me.

So in no particular order, here are some of the people (by the names they post with here) who have made contributions to VLM since it began in 2009, and/or in more recent times. (P.S., if I have neglected to include you here, my bad.  It is not intentional in the least.  I read all posts closely and know who has commented here over the years, and who has stayed with VLM through the ups and downs of following the Maple Leafs. We can be a moody bunch.)

So Merry Christmas to:

-Bobby Craig (forever Bobby C. for me)
-Oliver T
-BlueANDwhite
-Scarborough Anon
-C.N.
-DP
-Leafdreamer
-Willbur
-InTimeFor62
-Ed (wonderful ‘old’ Leaf fan, who has been around even longer than myself)
-Matty Dubbs (Matt)
-Steve Colombo
-Gerund O’Malley (Gerund O’ to me and not young anymore, either)
-Purch
-RLMcC (Ralph, an old codger like me)
-Lukas
-Jim
-Pete Cam (another veteran of Leaf hockey)
-Pete Davies
-Portuguese Leaf
-CGLN (from Finland)
-Kiwi Leaf (clearly not from Finland!)
-Apollo678
-Seandelville (Sean)
-Alex C.
-Tans66
-TML_fan (Don)
-Sasko T

I highlight these people in part because their posts are inevitably well thought out and worth reading. Maybe even more importantly to me, they are steadfastly respectful, even when they disagree with my comments or those of other posters.  There are plenty of places where we can be criticized or made to feel marginalized simply because we express an opinion.  I have made a point of VLM never becoming one of those places.  I hope I have succeeded.

So while it is likely a bad “sign” that I can literally name people off the top of my head who post here (versus the sites that gets hundreds of a posts a day if they simply put up a game-day thread without any actual information) I’ll stand by those who visit here.

This has been a long-winded way (I know no other way) of saying Merry Christmas to you, your families and loved ones.  I don’t know how long I will continue with this labour of love, but all things being equal, I hope it will be a while yet.  Thank you for contributions here. I value them.


36 comments:

  1. Merry Christmas to you too, Michael, and a great New Year!

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    1. Thank you, Tapio (CGLN)- all the best to you and yours!

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  2. Micheal,

    That was very heartfelt and quite touching to read. I really do appreciate the forum that you, and the other fans of yours, have provided here. I too, would like to wish every one that posts here, and especially you Michael, a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, as well. May all those who are dear to you be safe, warm and healthy, for a long time still.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Jim. Back your way.

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  3. Merry Christmas to everybody. Hope you get to spend it with the ones you love. Thanks for giving a space to hang out Michael. Excellent as always.

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    1. Thanks Willbur- Merry Christmas to you and the family (and your brother, who you have mentioned here before!).

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  4. Michael, finding your site has been wonderful for me. Believe me posting on TSN was a big mistake for me and trying to sound like a guy ( I'm not) was giving me a headache! I have, most likely, caused a few.

    Thanks and Merry Christmas, Michael, and to everyone here, hopefully with the power on, furnaces running, families together and happy surprises. Colleen N (and Michael the cat--which we know a guy would NEVER have added)

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    1. I'm glad you found VLM, Coleen, and that you can be yourself here. Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas to you and your loved ones (that includes Michael- we're a cat family too...I was raised on a farm with cats all over the place well over 50 years ago!).

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  5. It IS a wonderful life, Michael, and I'm glad you shared that holiday (Holy Day) classic with your son.

    That you share your classic memories and have created an enjoyable place for all of we, Leaf fans, to gather, is a gift that is much appreciated.

    Though all gifts pale by comparison to the Gold, Incense and Myrrh gifted to the Greatest Gift of all, we all appreciate the special place you have made in our hearts by your thoughtful posts (and responses to our musings as well). May our contributions, on the site (and beyond?), be our small gifts to you in response to the large gift of this site and your sports passion.

    May this Christmas season be a wonderful time for you and yours, Michael. May all the best blessings be ever upon your heart and life as we make our path through it all! Thank you for your own contributions to us all!

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    1. Thank you, InTimeFor62. A lot of us, yourself very much included, have shared a bond here that goes beyond the site and hockey. Life takes us all down different paths, not always all pleasant or happy. That we can gather here on occasion and talk about something that allows us to step sideways for a moment and set aside some of our daily stresses is, I hope, a good thing. And while some of us live in hope for a much bigger "prize" at the end of our life, in the meantime, as Leaf supporters, there are some short-term goals that make life a bit more fun- if frustrating along the way. But at least we can talk about that together. Thanks for all your contributions here, InTimeFor62- and a special Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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  6. Very nice uncle Mike. Merry Christmas to you and all of your family as well. I really hope you keep up the site and the pod-casts I love them.
    Rob

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to say that, Rob. Warmest wishes to you and your Mom and Dad, and brothers and sisters as well.

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  7. Thank you for the warm wishes Michael, and a Merry Christmas to you and your family from me and mine too! If last year's lockout had any positive for me, it was that I realized how much more special it is to coach and watch my own children play hockey than it was to watch the pro game. The holidays are a wonderful time to spend with loved ones and remember to value our time with them! Happy holidays to everyone here!

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    1. Thanks Pete. I can relate to your comments. Flat out some of the fondest memories I have are of our (now grown) sons playing various sports. I was not always the best sports parent (or coach!), though I learned a lot over the years. What a blessing it was to have those years with them- and the closeness it brought, along with memories galore. Take care, Pete, and I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful Christmas.

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  8. Merry Christmas Michael and hope 2014 is a great year for you (and for the Leafs??)

    John in Tokyo

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    1. Good of you to take the time to send a note at such a hectic time of year, John. We've connected beyond VLM over the years and I've appreciated that opportunity. Take care, John and best wishes for a great Christmas to you and your loved ones.

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  9. Hi Michael

    This post and comments caught me in sentimental mood. I have just been completing our annual Xmas letter which we send to our old friends in Canada. This one has been the most difficult ever, as we lost our 24 year old grand-daughter in a traffic accident in February. Since she lived with us in summers and Xmas from four years old and full time from 12 after my son got full custody, she was more like a daughter. While people say "they understand", they do not really until they are in your shoes, which apparently you have been.

    Having said that, I came to realize something special. VLM and your ominous band of followers has helped get us through our grief by channeling our thoughts to other areas. VLM is the only blog I follow religiously and participate in because it is so well moderated. In addition, I read every comment as your commenters indeed do put considerable thought into their responses without the pugnacity seen in so many blogs. In summary, I feel that I have made a number of new (invisible) friends, and look forward to their comments on the Leafs and Hockey in general.

    Michael, I wish you and your VLM followers a Merry Xmas and all the Best for 2014.

    From an "Old Codger Like Me".

    "Old" is a state of mind (hopefully brings experience and wisdom), "Codger" makes me think of cagey Peter Falk , and "Like Me" (sounds like a good example).

    Michael, thanks for your efforts.


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    1. Hi Ralph (RLMcC). I don't know that any of us can ever really (or fully) "understand" what someone else has been through. The loss you and your family have gone through is not something most people can comprehend (or even want to think about) much less understand. We all say words at times like that, but words, while well intentioned, usually miss the mark. Our loss came with our son at a much younger age. The one thing I "learned", if I can put it that way, as a young parent many years ago, is that we can't really compare grief, and we never really know what someone else is going - or has gone - through. I'm just very sorry to hear this, Ralph.

      Your kind words about the site mean a lot. This is a simple forum, but you have captured the essence of what was the original intent: to provide a safe haven, a place where hockey people can drop by, read, reflect and if they choose, post something themselves. There may be visitors here who have never posted a thing, but maybe they have enjoyed some aspect of the site.

      For me, the reader posts have made the difference, because of the thoughtful commentary and also because so many seem to have understood the "why" behind this little site.

      Peter Falk is an apt example, indeed, when speaking of an"old codger"- meant in the most positive way possible. Take care, Ralph, and I truly hope this Christmas can be a good one for you and your loved ones.

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  10. merry christmas michael! (too bad the leafs are stinkin' up a storm) ~alex :)

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    1. Thank you for dropping by today, Alex- Merry Christmas to you!

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  11. I'm singing "Honky, The Christmas Goose" as I return your best wishes for the season, Michael! Thanks - to you and all the posters who have found your site - for brightening up the year!

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    1. The Johnny Bower singing reference is well received here, as you might guess. A part of our Leaf youth! Thanks Gerund- and Merry Christmas.

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  12. Hi Michael
    I had a long post that got deleted in error. In conclusion, I'd like to thank you for giving me an opportunity to express my thoughts of the Maple Leafs on VLM . I wish you and your lovd ones a Merry Christmas and a Blissfully prosperous New Year. May God Al-Mighty give us true guidance and bless us all as only He can.

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    1. Thank you, BlueANDwhite- and a wish for blessings on you and your loved ones returned your way.

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  13. Merry Christmas to you and your family Michael and to the community who come to share their thoughts at VLM.

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    1. And to you as well, Steve. Merry Christmas.

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  14. Many thanks for the mention at Christmas.

    It's especially appropriate for me, because the Leafs of the past were always linked to family memories and Christianity. I think I have mentioned more than a few times that my father seemed to link the Leafs and Christianity. In his mind, Dave Keon was a Christ-like figure. The Montreal Canadiens were demons and Guy Lefeaur was the Devil himself incarnate and walking this earth... He must be stopped!

    So on this Christmas day I will give the speech that imagine my father might give:

    Well boys, don't despair. Being a Leaf fan is a bit like being a good Christian, you have to have some faith and you will be rewarded.

    There will be dark moments like when Jonah was inside the whale. Sometimes when Phil Kessel isn't scoring, you will think he couldn't even hit that whale, but keep your chin up.

    I know that good Christian soldier Dave Bolland is down but we have to persevere. We are looking for a glorious resurrection in the spring. That is the important thing.

    This like our time in the dessert, its been longer than 40 years, but keep the faith, eventually we will see the promised land and that Stanley Cup.

    Perhaps this time is more like the Babylonian exile. After many years of trouble we shall return to Jerusalem. I hope we don't wait that long long for another Championship, but keep the faith.

    -Father


    I apologize in advance if my imagination has offended Christians or any other denomination, but my dad was a bit like that.

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    1. We have all been raised in a particular faith or cultural tradition DP- no one should be offended. Thanks for sharing memories of your Dad here. Merry Christmas!

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  15. Hi Michael, this and the hot stove are my favorite sites. I really look forward to your posts and that of the other contributors that make this blog what it is. I do appreciate your comments with regards to your up bringing and traditions. I too am a Christian so your comments about this time of year resonate with me. Being with family and enjoying the time with them are so important. I am very thankful for the many blessings I have. I would like to wish you and all of the many people who make this a great place to visit a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and joyous New Year.........and may be a win against the Sabres Friday night!

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    1. Good of you to take a moment to write- I appreciate it, purch. It is a special time of year and it is always good to step back and reflect on the good things in our lives- family at the top of the list. Merry Christmas.

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  16. Nice post, Michael,

    Thanks for sharing here and always in the great reads you offer.

    Merry Christmas!

    Matt

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    1. Thanks Matt- I hope you and your loved ones had a great Christmas!

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  17. Merry Christmas to you too Michael and to all your faithful contributors to the great VLM site. Have a Happy New Year everyone! I look forward to an exciting finish to this NHL season!

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to post, Ed- Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you as well!

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  18. Merry Christmas Michael and everyone else!

    Thank you all for making this by far the best forum to discuss our favourite team. I really appreciate the time and effort everyone makes to contribute to meaningful conversation and debate.

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    1. Merry Christmas to you, Oliver and thank you for helping to make this site what it is.

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