Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’


     After months of waiting to see them, my sons are finally here! Max (on the left) made the mistake of telling me that the moon looked really cool over the mountains, so I made him and Sam get up on the roof with me while I took their picture. They’re used to this, I’ve been sticking a camera in their faces forever.

     They flew in from Providence Thursday night and Buck and I feel like we’ve just been laughing ever since. They’ve been cracking us up, and helping us move furniture. Actually, they’ve done all the furniture moving. This is the first time we’ve had our furniture in the house and it’s excellent … I forgot how nice it is to have a couch to sit on. And they didn’t even complain while I carefully considered each move of the couch or chairs and then said, “No, let’s try it over here instead …” 

I did that four or five or five times.

My daughter Cody is staying in Boston for the holiday. It was a tough decision for her, I know she wanted to be with us but she also wanted to be with her boyfriend.  I stayed out of it by supporting her decision whatever she chose. It’s hard enough to make decisions without your mother putting in her two-cents. I know this because my own mother had an opinion about everything and didn’t need any prompting to verbalize it, and wouldn’t stop verbalizing even when you asked her to. My mother’s constant “advice” made life miserable, actually. I never want to inflict that on my kids. We miss Cody, but that’s all part of this growing up stuff I guess. (My growing up, but her as well.) She sent a surprise duffel bag of Christmas packages on the plane with the boys, “To make me and Sam look bad, as usual,” Max said. But I said, “Yay! Thank god for daughters! Now give me that wonderful-wonderful duffel bag …”

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This cartoon has nothing to do with my rant. I just love Gary Larson.

     I don’t think anyone who celebrates Christmas would disagree that this is one holiday that desperately needs a makeover. I would happily join any group where members are dedicated to wrestling this bitch to the ground.

     Don’t misunderstand me: I love Christmas, I really do. But something definitely needs to be done about it. It’s only one day, yet it causes so much anxiety and worry, feelings of inadequacy and longing, and the stress is so thick in the air you can taste it wherever you go. I hardly need to list all this stuff. You know what Christmas does to you and the people around you.

     It’s not all negative, of course, but if you were to list the positives and negatives, a list of pros and cons about Christmas, if you will, I’m afraid the cons would be overwhelming. We’ve allowed credit card companies and cell phone companies and TV and print advertising to rule this holiday. It’s their holiday now, and they’ve created a mesmerism to make us think, Yeah, I really do need to spend at least X amount of money on Christmas or else it won’t look right or feel right! Christmas HAS GOT to look and feel right!

     If Christmas were simply a dividing line between the haves and have-nots it would be a lot easier to stomach. For instance, I never get an invitation to the Cannes Film Festival and that’s fine. Although I’d undoubtedly fit right in and thoroughly enjoy myself, I don’t really belong there. Not really. But it’s okay, because Cannes isn’t shoving its film festival down my throat and making me feel left out.

     Christmas is like this. It’s a holiday that I can’t afford. I love shopping for people, but I have no business doing so. Not really. That I do it at all is madness. Yet unlike the Cannes Film Festival, this is not okay because there’s a conspiracy going on among retailers to surround me with this holiday I can’t afford and it makes me stressed out.

     Christmas itself should be more openly vocal about being a situation of the haves and have-nots. Here’s another example of how well that scenario works: I don’t own a $200,000 Ferrari, so I guess by some people’s standards that makes me one of the have-nots. This doesn’t bother me in the least; I think I’m in the majority and I have some pretty good company. But as a have-not, I’m not being deluged by Ferrari salesmen who are telling me I need to buy one and are trying to make it easier for me to get one with no regard to the actual numbers on my paycheck. I’m invisible to Ferrari and that’s a good thing, it works out for both of us.

      If only iPod felt this way, and T-Mobile, and Dell, and X-Box, Toys R Us, and Best Buy. How do we make them act like the Ferrari dealers and only cater to those who can afford to spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on Christmas gifts? Ferrari dealers never hound us have-nots! Granted, it’s because it would be a waste of time and not because they’re so compassionate, but still. I appreciate the fact that Ferrari isn’t coming on the TV every 15 minutes and telling Buck he really needs one, or offering me credit just to get him one, or sticking 10% off coupons in the Friday newspaper. Like Best Buy.

     Note To The Bastards At Best Buy: It doesn’t matter how much you take off that 52″ Wide Screen HD TV, or how enticing you make your “instant credit” plan. The bottom line is that you’re trying to sell me something I can’t afford and making it easy for me to do it. That’s not in the Christmas spirit, now is it?

     But for too many people this is what Christmas has come to: money, a lack of it, and all the things we wish we could buy instead of the boringly important crap nobody sees or plays with, like the mortgage payments and the water bill.


 Take Back The Night has been successful … so how do we take back Christmas? How do we reclaim this holiday and restore it to some peace and kindness, goodwill towards men (and everybody else)? Seriously, tell me how. Because I have no idea.

     If you had told me 20 years ago that I’d be willing to join a movement to overhaul Christmas I’d have dismissed you as insane and kept on munching my chocolate reindeer snack cakes until you finally went away. But now that I have a little age on me and I see with open eyes what anguish people (myself included) are going through over this one day, all I want to do is fix it. And fixing it means giving it a makeover. I just don’t know how.

     I’ve really tried not to get caught up in it, which was so difficult when my children were small. Back then I was Mrs. Santa and I went to great lengths to put on spectacular Christmases for them. It’s much easier not to plug into it now that my children are basically grown. It’s gotten easier, but it never gets easy. And don’t tell me to “give everyone homemade cookies” as gifts. Nobody wants fucking cookies anyway, because about two weeks from now we’re all gonna wake up and go, Holy Shit, I need to go on a diet! And the Jenny Craig Army will be all over the place, shoving that sobbing Valerie Bertinelli down our throats as proof of what we “could look like.”

     She’s already started. Tonight during her special live Christmas Address to we of Fast Food Nation, Valerie was sobbing about how good she feels and how she only wants us to feel good, too. But I just kept on munching my chocolate reindeer snack cakes until she finally went away and Family Guy came back on.

     And that’s the other part of Christmas, the weight gain from people giving us cookies and fudge and delicious snack cakes as gifts, not to mention all the stress-eating we do. Or that I do, anyway.

. See? The cons part of this pro and con Christmas list just keeps getting longer. I’m gonna go have a good cry now, not because I’m sad about Christmas, but because I’m sad that I just ate yet another adorable little box of reindeers that I bought to give other people. Plus,  I need the stress release and I’ve found crying to be the most effective.

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Buck didn’t like my idea of using empty Diet Coke bottles as Christmas decorations. He prefers colored lights.

Me: Apparently you didn’t like the idea I had to decorate with bottles of red and green colored water. I wanted to use empty Diet Coke bottles. And food coloring. But you didn’t like them.

Buck: Didn’t like them? That’s putting it mildly. I hated them.

Me: What didn’t you like about them? I only got one bottle done —

Buck: When I was a little kid, people used to have those bottles in their yards along with the globes, which I’ve gotten used to and actually like.

Me: Yahd globes.

Buck: Mystic globes. Whatever.

Me: There’s nothin’ mystical about them.

Buck: But people used to have big glass bottles with colored water in their yards. And they’d set them up and —

Me: Yes! That’s why I was gonna do it in our courtyard!

Buck: — I just didn’t get it.

Me: Well I don’t get it either, but I was gonna do it anyway.

Buck: Let me finish my story here you asked me and I’m trying to tell you.


Buck: So anyway I’m walking in a section of Taunton that was not as wealthy as other parts of town, the people were very nice but they weren’t wealthy, and someone had bought a house and taken hundreds of those gallon-size milk jugs and lined them all up and down the sides of their driveway and filled them all with different colored water. And I know they probably thought it looked very nice, because somebody really spent some time on these. There were a lot of them up and down this long-long driveway —

Me: Yes! That’s what I was gonna do! And I was gonna do them in red and green —

Buck: Yeesh Oh my God Christ Blechhh.

Me: [laughing] What is your fucking problem? I thought it would be a cheap, interesting, nostalgic, festively weird —

Buck: Oh my God, all it reminds me of is the worst soda I had as a kid: strawberry, and lemon-lime. It would bring back all those horrible memories of, Okay now drink this lemon-lime soda now the strawberry …. [laughing] Okay now wash it all down with this cheap orange soda that’ll rip your throat out —

Me: YES! That orange soda was a cruel, punishing drink, wasn’t it?

Buck: Well, lemon-lime was no easier.

Me: I’m sure, but I would never drink that. I’ve never even tasted it and the mere idea of it makes me sick. But WHAT the hell was in that orange soda that made it so painful to drink? Battery acid? Why was it so painful?

Buck: It just was. Most of them were.

Me: [laughing] It was like liquid sand paper going down your throat —

Buck: [laughing] It was. That’s why when I was young I stuck with root beer, sarsaparilla, cream soda —

Me: Me too. White birch wasn’t bad.

Buck: Anything else was dangerous.

Me: But that orange soda? The one that Simpson Spring had my God, that was seriously like liquid sand paper, or liquid nitrogen. Drinking it at birthday parties was so painful. And if you laughed and it came out your nose? Forget it … that was the most goddamned painful experience you could have. You might as well have snorted Ajax. It would sear your nasal passages  —

Buck: It was like putting two butane lighters up your nose.

Me: [laughing] I know, right? That was horrible.

Buck: But compared to the lemon-lime, the orange was a treat.

Me: I wouldn’t do the lemon-lime. Still wouldn’t, even today.

Buck: You had Simpson Spring. That was considered the fancy-ass soda.

Me: No sir. We drank it ‘cuz that’s what we had in Easton: Simpson Spring. The spring was in my town, that’s why we drank it —

Buck: I know, but they were also in Taunton. But my father stuck with Kist. The trucks had the big lips that preceded the Rolling Stones lips, and the slogan was Did you get Kist today?

Me: That’s just insane. I can only relate to Simpson Spring. I have no idea what you’re saying to me, it’s all clicks and whistles.

Buck: All the towns had their own brands. New Kid had his own soda man, who was different that ours.

Me: He did? Who was his soda man?

Buck: I’ve forgotten.

Me: You know, they used to take us to Simpson Spring on field trips in school, to the bottling place, you know?

Buck: Yeah?

Me: The bottling plant was cavernous. And cold. But they’d take us into this room called the tile room, and it was the stuff of my nightmares. Seriously, it gave me nightmares. It’s a weird room that was built around this hole in the ground, which is the spring. They think it’s just beautiful, this room, but it was creepy. It used to pop up in my nightmares. I’m going online right now and see if I can find out anything about that room it was like something out of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest Or Titicut Follies HERE IT IS! My God, they have a photo of the room!

Buck: Good.

Me: Well they used to tell us that the hole, which as I said is the actual spring, was bottomless. I always had nightmares about leaning against that flimsy little railing and falling into it and drowning in soda. Orange soda that would burn your skin off.

Buck: [laughing] I think our soda water came out of a hydrant.

Me: Simpson Spring probably did too. They probably made up that whole spring thing and that hole was just that: a hole.

Buck: When we’d see the Simpson Spring truck cruise through the neighborhood? We were like, well la-dee-dah, aren’t you something fancy, you’ve got you’re own spring. No other town claimed their own spring. Except for Nemasket Spring, which was really just a river. Do you remember that?

Me: Sorta.  It’s in some soggy and inaccessible part of my brain Let me Nope. I can’t seem to go there, the sludge is too deep.

Buck: Well that was another one. I think they were out of Middleboro or some place. But they were all around, like Simpson Spring, and they claimed to use water from some spring. As compared to all the other people who just got it out of a spigot. [laughing] 

Me: [laughing] Or Hockomock Swamp.

Buck: [laughing] Or Ma’s sink.

Me: [laughing] 

Buck: That’s where Kist probably came from. When the Kist truck came around we’d get two cases of soda per week. The big wooden cases, which I’d have to carry down to the cellar. We’d get one case of mixed, which sucked because they didn’t let you pick and a lot of it was lemon-lime, and a case of ginger ale. The ginger ale was for my father, and nobody else could drink it. Couldn’t be golden, had to be pale dry.

Me: I never liked the golden myself. What is the golden? What the hell is it?

Buck: It’s just sweeter.

Me: And your father didn’t like it?

Buck: Well, it didn’t mix well with the Seagram’s.

Me: [laughing] 

Buck: That was always his thing … he was apt to choke on his highball if the ginger ale was golden. [laughing] 

Me: [laughing] 

Buck: That was a thing he had, I’d have to check the case and make sure they didn’t sneak a golden in. So that’s what we got every week, one case of ginger ale that was only for him, and one case for the other … for the other —


Buck: [laughing] Yeah. A case for him, and a case for us. Our case had a lot of lemon-lime, strawberry, and I think rhubarb.

Me: [laughing] So … I guess you don’t want me to use the bottles of colored water as ornamentation.

Buck: Right.

Me: See, I thought I could fill up the bottles with colored water, be all festive and everything, then dump them out after Christmas. Clean, quick, done.

Buck: I don’t want some kid coming around here and thinking the same thing I thought at that age.

Me: They’d be hidden in the courtyard, but whatever. I don’t even know if I should decorate at all.

Buck: No. No. The decorating is great. The colored lights are great. You know how I always get mesmerized by colored lights. They’re very cheery.

Me: Should we bother buying a tree?

Buck: No, I liked the tree we had last year.

Me: Yeah, but the tree we had last year was just that dead branch with  lights on it —

Buck: It was the most kickass tree in the world!

Me: I liked it and everything, it was easy. No maintenance. But I didn’t even photograph it.

Buck: Really? Too bad, it was really kickass. You’ve already got part of it here now.

Me: [laughing] What? Where?

Buck: In the planter in the living room. The branch trellis thing sticking out of the planter. Where you were growing your beans.

Me: [laughing] Those aren’t fucking beans[laughing] 

Buck: I thought you were growing beans. [laughing] 

Me: [laughing] What is wrong with you? Fucking beans. I was trying to grow morning glories near the living room window, but then the stupidass sun stopped shining —

Buck: [laughing] I was hoping you were growing magic beans.

Me: You would think that about me. They were almost morning glories.

Buck: Well that sucks, then. Who cares? I thought we were gonna have magic beans. I was all ready to trade them for something. Like some Christmas decorations. [laughing] 

Me: [laughing] This is just bullshit. I’m outta here. Family Guy is on.


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Here’s Buck caulking something. The guy we tried to hire to put baseboards in our baseboard-less house showed no interest in actually doing it, so Buck took on the job. Measuring, cutting, staining, filling in gaps, straightening walls, etc. Every single room and hall. And being a perfectionist, Buck refused to “fudge” it in any way. It’s been his idea of hell and, as a result, mine also.

Everyone experiences holiday stress in one form or another. Even if you’re not plugged into the festive atmosphere, even if you refuse to participate in all the spending, the zaniness of traveling from one relative’s house to another etc., you’re still the victim of long lines at the supermarket, the repetitive Christmas jingles on TV and radio urging you to buy, buy, buy. If you’re not into all that, I don’t think it makes you a Scrooge in any way, I think it just means you don’t like stress. (Personally, I think even the worst Scrooge would could be coerced in lightening up if only Christmas hadn’t become the season of credit cards and mall madness, Xboxes and iPhones and 52″ HD entertainment units.

But this post isn’t about Christmas stress. It’s an explanation of why I haven’t been posting lately. The stress Buck and I are feeling has little to do with Christmas beyond the fact it’s taking place in December. Our stress is based on the reality that our new (to us) house is finally finished: the painting is done, the new roof is on (the old one destroyed by a flood), the new tile floors are all in place (including the new baseboards Buck bought, cut to size, and installed), the toilets and new sinks are all connected, and every room has a new ceiling fan which Buck has painstakingly had to learn to install (WTF? Why do all the ceiling fans now come with a remote control that must be programmed?) Actually, Buck has done everything. I offered to help with the painting, but if you know Buck you know that Buck’s fear of me with a paint brush trumps all. I was the construction site clean up crew, and that’s fine by me.

But NOW we’re faced with what amounts to moving in all over again.

For 23-months we have been living out of boxes, sleeping in our living room, pulling pots and pans out of temporary drawers every night at dinner time, and taking turns at a single living room chair when we want to watch TV, and squeezing all that into the hours when we’re not trying to make a living. Yes, after nearly two years of chaos our house is finally finished.

But now it’s like moving all over again. We’ve got boxes to unpack, furniture to bring in, drawers and closets to organize, pictures to hang, photos to unpack, lamps to uncover, and a new bed to put together. We bought a soft-sided waterbed that arrived in so many boxes, you’d think we were building a post and beam house. Truthfully, we’re scared of it and keep moving this task lower and lower on the list.

But that’s what we’ve been doing and will continue to do all week … because apparently none of it can wait till next week when two of our three children will arrive for Christmas break. No. It has to done NOW. So that’s where I’ve been. Obviously, I don’t have time to go into each room and explain it all, nor would you want to read it,  but I did run around the house this morning and snap a couple of photos  to give you an idea of why you haven’t been hearing from us. This is what we’ll be doing for the next few days … light some incense for us.

Our bedroom, where I hope to be sleeping by Friday. It doesn’t look it here in this photo, but the walls are a really pretty periwinkle blue.


Our guest room, where our sons will be sleeping next week:

Our living room, where we’ve been sleeping forever, with a fireplace we’ve yet to use. And that’s the single chair we’ve fought over:

I did manage to sneak up some Christmas decoration in the hallway, my collection of tiny Christmas trees (on the right):


I’ll spare you the rest of the house,and I certainly won’t subject you to the horror of our garage and guest house which are both PACKED with all the stuff we now have to bring into the house. I just wanted you know I haven’t stopped blogging. I’ve just been sidetracked. And now I’ve gotta get back to it, because like I said, I’m hoping to sleep in my actual bedroom by Friday.

And as for Christmas shopping at the mall and decorating every inch of the house? Fuck it. I’m not playing this year. I’ll do something, but I haven’t decided what. Maybe I’ll just make “Cheerful Christmas Phone Calls” instead. It will depend on my energy level. And the mere idea of doing my Christmas cards is pretty laughable. I love the ones we’ve received, but I don’t even know where my address book is, so if you didn’t use a return address on the envelope you’re out of luck. And no, I have not memorized your addresses after all this time. But maybe I’ll find my address book in time to send out some Happy New Year cards.

I’ll try and be back to blogging by Q&A Sunday, when my question to Buck will be, “Why the hell did we do this?”

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Feeling Better

7 PM Friday

El Paso

An MRI this afternoon, and good news tonight. The doctor called to say Buck didn’t have a stroke as he, and we, had feared. I took advantage of his good spirits this evening to find out how he liked being turned into an elf this morning for my previous post on Elfin’ Cheer.

Me: Are you fully awake?

Buck: Kinda.

Me: So … what did you think of yourself as a dancing elf in that elf video? Were you surprised?

Buck: No. I knew I’d end up as an elf. It was the risk I took in sending you the link to that thing.

Me: Really? My God! You know me too well.

Buck:  I saw that thing that said hit the button and be an elf, or some freaking thing, and I thought to myself oh just send it to her and let her have her fun.

Me: And I did. I did have fun. It made me laugh for the first time in over a week. And you came out great, I might add. Very elfin.

Buck: Of course now it’s come back on me, this wonderful thing you’ve done for me that you wouldn’t have known about if I hadn’t told you.

Me: Whatever. You, me, what difference does it make? The important thing here is how you thought you did as an elf. Were you happy with your performance?

Buck: Well, I liked the way you picked a happy picture for you, making a little twenty-three skidoo face. [laughing] And then for me you put a photo of me looking as straight and serious as can be —

Me: [laughing] No. No. See, those were the only photos I happened to have in my computer at that second. [laughing] Maybe I should have used the egg photo, the one with you and that big egg in your mouth. I’ll make another one, only this time I’ll use that photo of you with the egg in your mouth —

Buck: Oh, that would really go over well, me with a big fucking egg in my mouth —

Me: [laughing]

Buck: Yeah, people are out there thinking, Hey, can we see the Egg One again?

Me: [laughing]

Buck: Why don’t you just have feet coming out the bottom of the egg?

Me: [laughing] WHAT?! What are you talking about? Why the hell would I have feet coming out the bottom of the egg? Feet? What does that mean?

Buck: Just have my head there with the egg in my mouth and feet coming out the bottom, dancing.

Me: They don’t give you that option. [laughing]

Buck: [laughing] You’ll figure a way.

Me: No I won’t. It’s a pre-made program. You can only plug in the faces, you can’t put feet on the fucking elf

Buck: Oh, you’ll figure a way. Of course it doesn’t mean that much to you, because you’ve got your lovely little smiley twenty-three skidoo picture.

Me: Stop saying that. God. [laughing] I told you, it happened to be the only photo of me that was still in my computer. I have to keep taking the photos out of my computer because they take up so much space

Buck: But then you keep a picture of me that looks like I’m trying to sell you a warranty from Circuit City —

Me: [sudden laugh causing Diet Pepsi to spit out my nose] OUCH! Geez Louise! That burned like a bastard

Buck: — there was a lot of sincerity in THAT picture.

Me: Okay, okay. I’ll find a better picture of you —

** Stella howling in background **

Buck: No. It won’t matter, you’ve already done your damage Stella, stop it.

Me: What is wrong with her?

Buck: She’s singing.

Me: Why is she singing like that?! Does she have to do it right now?

Buck: Apparently.

Me: Ignore her I’ll find a picture of you where you look happier, and I’ll make a new elf video.

Buck: No. I’m as happy as I’m ever gonna look in that picture. [laughing]

Me: [laughing]

Buck: I’m looking as happy as you can look when you have anemia.

Me: You don’t have anemia.

Buck: I’ve got brain anemia! There isn’t enough oxygen getting to my brain, that’s what THE DOCTOR just told me

Me: I don’t know what it is you’ve got if only you had given me the phone. Or at least if you had written it down

Buck: I know what it is, it’s brain anemia. That’s what he said. And I looked it up —

Me: You’re not anemic, Buck. You are not anemic.

** Stella howling in background **

Buck: I have brain anemia. That’s what he said. There isn’t enough oxygen getting to my fucking brain. [laughing] I’ve got the problem, and you’re yelling at me —

Me: WHY WON’T THAT DOG SHUT THE FUCK UP?! …. Listen, when you got off the phone from the doctor, you said he called it assemia or oxemia, you didn’t know what the hell he said and you didn’t write it down or ask him to spell it —

Buck: Whatever. What was I supposed to say to him? Excuse me doctor, let me write this down?

Me: YEAH! That’s what people do! That’s what you’re supposed to do. Otherwise, how can you possibly remember all the crap they tell you? You must write it down —

Buck: [laughing] Oh, excuse me while I write this down so my elf-dancing wife can understand … [laughing] she’s so busy practicing her elf-steps, she can’t comprehend what you’re telling me —

Me: Oh my God. I’m going to kill you.

Buck: She’s too busy trying to OUT DANCE ME on this new show, Dancing With The Elves — [laughing]

Me: What is wrong with you?!

Buck: Brain anemia.

Me: God. Now I don’t know if I should post this on the Internet. You keep talking about your brain anemia. Do you care if anyone knows?

Buck: No. I don’t give a shit. What the hell would I care for? I have no political aspirations.

Me: I don’t know, some people hate having personal medical details out there.

Buck: Since when have I ever cared who knows what? Besides, everybody already knows I’ve got it.

Me: How do they know?

Buck: They just speak with me and know I’m getting stupider. They can tell.

** Stella howling in background**

Me: Jeezus. CAN’T YOU HEAR HER?! …. STELLA!  WhaIs there a freaking siren going off somewhere? A pipe organ?  WHY IS SHE SO RELENTLESS? It’s like she’s hitting every freaking chorus of Ava Maria for crying out loud Did you teach her that? STELLA!  But that’s not true, you are not stupider. Or stupid, rather. Besides, we’re gonna get a handle on this thing. We’re gonna change the way we eat and all that, we’ll get your cholesterol and blood pressure down and you’ll get smart again. You’ll see.

Buck: My blood pressure’s only 276. That can’t be that bad.

Me: Is that good or bad? I have no idea. Mine’s always so low I don’t even listen to them when they tell me what it is. They say Wow, that’s really good! But then I stop listening when they say numbers. I hate to listen to them when they speak.

Buck: You don’t listen when I speak, either. [laughing] You only listen to Barbara. And Joan. And Moonbeam McQueen. And you listen to Cody, so you can tell her she’s wrong.

Me: [laughing] No, sir.  Is 276 good or bad for blood pressure?

Buck: Well it means, basically, that my head should be as big as a beach ball like this.

Me: Do that again and I’ll take your picture with the early Christmas camera you got me. But smile, so I can use it in the elf video. Look real happy.

Buck: No, forget the elf videos. Why don’t you take a picture of your new camera?

Me: I’d have to take it with my old camera.

Buck: Well no shit. Unless of course you could do it really-really fast.

Me: No, I’m not that fast. I’ll just take it with my old camera. But smile, cuz you’re in it too. Look happy.

Buck: No. Don’t take my picture.The elf picture stays as is.

Me: Whatever. I thought you already looked really good as a dancing elf, anyway. Thanks for sending me the link.

Buck: Yeah, well, Chet’s niece sent me that.

Me: Chet? Who’s that?

Buck: You know who Chet is.

Me: Oh. Yeah. Right.

Buck: You’re not going to use that elf thing as a Christmas card, are you?

Me: No. I’ve already got our Christmas cards. I ordered them online.

Buck: Good. They’re not religious, are they?

Me: Like the ones I drew of Jesus with the happy German Shepherds years ago and had printed up? No. These are postcards and they’re excellent. Very apropos. You’ll be happy with them.




Links: Rosebud Design, quirky Christmas postcards

Elf Yourself



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Elfin’ Cheer

Okay, this is corny as hell, but I’m a very corny person at heart so this was tailormade for me. Of course, Buck is a whole other story. He’ll  probably freak out when he wakes up and discovers I’ve done this and posted it on the Internet.  I elfed us, and if you want a good laugh I highly encourage you to do the same.

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This was the email we sent out last year on Thanksgiving morning. We’d been sitting around getting emails from other people with cheery pilgrims, and turkeys sitting down to a great meal of … turkey (I’ve never understood those cartoons with cannibalistic turkeys). We had nothing to offer in return so we took this photo, which made us laugh. We assumed others would laugh also. Instead, a large portion of the people who received it not only didn’t see any humor in it, they were actually offended by it and were quick to say so. Which actually made us laugh harder, having to make apologies for ruining people’s Thanksgiving from thousands of miles away. Another Thanksgiving to add to my list. Oh, well. Our kids thought it was funny. And so did Barbara.

In trying to make a list of all the Thanksgivings that have gone wrong, I realized that very few of them have actually gone right. I have no bad feelings about this, my Thanksgiving expectations are low. But I have come to the conclusion that Thanksgiving is like baseball. I believe baseball is a game of failure, where nine times out of ten the batter strikes out. So it is with Thanksgiving. And just as there is no crying in baseball, there is no crying over Thanksgiving, either.

Here’s a quick list of past Thanksgivings:

1960s – Thanksgiving at a Valley’s Steakhouse somewhere in New England, with my family, cousins, aunts and uncles, etc. I kept telling my mother I didn’t feel good; she kept telling me I was just over-excited. About half-way through the meal, I projectile vomited across the table. My cousin thought it was hilarious. My parents made me go sit in the car.

1970s – Somewhere in Maine. Me and about 15 family members packed into my grandfather’s new Winnebago. He was drunk, but back in those days you apparently let drunks drive, and we all screamed with laughter as we went careening down a mountain road on the way to Max’s Diner for turkey roll and instant mashed potatoes. My grandfather was a chef and always prepared the holiday meals in the past, so I have no idea why he took us to a diner for pressed turkey log. By the way, Max the diner owner didn’t see any need to turn the heat on as it was only us who were there. We ate with our coats and hats on.

1980s –  I wouldn’t listen to anybody and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Despite being 9-months pregnant I insisted on hosting Thanksgiving with all the trimmings at my house. With a dozen guests expected, I went into labor about 2 AM and was in the hospital by 5 AM. I had Sam around 9 o’clock Thanksgiving morning, then slept the rest of the day while my family scrambled to find a restaurant that was open. They never found one and in the end they had Chinese take-out.


  • The kids were still asleep, and Buck and I decided to start Thanksgiving morning by taking the dogs for a brisk walk in the wooded conservation area near our house. We got about two miles into the woods and as the sun was coming up the sound of gunfire started. We heard hunters shooting at I-don’t-know-what but they were all around us. It was a frantic, terrifying run out of the woods for us and our three dogs.
  • We were going off-Cape to spend Thanksgiving with family. But in the morning my sons both woke up with those barking seal coughs and runny noses that are just disgusting. Figuring that no one wanted to be subjected to that, I insisted Buck and my daughter go on without us. With no actual food in the house (we had planned on being away), I managed to gather the ingredients for gingerbread cookies. Me and the two starving sick kids managed to pull the last batch of gingerbread cookies out of the oven just as the power went out. We spent the day in several layers of clothing, huddled under the covers in my bed while eating gingerbread cookies and coughing. Buck and my daughter didn’t get home until after 8 that night, just as the power came back on.

Working on Thanksgiving

  • I pushed my editor to let me do a cover story on the local turkey farm, and the farmer was so appreciative he wanted to thank me with a fresh turkey. He told me to pick it up the night before Thanksgiving. I stood in line with about 30 people waiting to pick up turkeys, but when it was my turn the farmer was gone and his wife was in charge. She handed me the turkey and said, “That’s $65.” I told her who I was and that her husband had promised to put a turkey aside just for me. She said, “I know who you are. It’s still $65.” I was too flustered (and too young and stupid) to tell her to forget it. I was also broke and had to write her a check. I never told Buck how much the turkey cost, but he still said it was the driest, toughest turkey we’d ever had. Then the check I wrote for it bounced. In the end the turkey actually cost me $80.
  • One Thanksgiving, I was writing for the food section of the local newspaper and I came up with the great idea to publish the favorite Thanksgiving recipes of our local Native American Indian tribe. My editor was thrilled. The two of us were too stupid to know that Native Americans do not hold Thanksgiving to be an especially happy day to commemorate. I called several members of the tribe and none wanted to contribute to my article, until finally the former chief told me that many Native Americans are very bitter about Thanksgiving. He bailed me out, however, with recipes for corn bread and clam chowder.
  • Another Thanksgiving it was my turn to come up with a holiday story for Page One and my editor asked me to work at the local Knights of Columbus and help out with the free Thanksgiving dinner for the poor. It would make a great story, she said. As much as I didn’t want to be without my family (we’d made plans to be off-Cape), I consoled myself with the idea I would be helping those less fortunate and I agreed, my editor set it all up. My family left for the day, and I arrived at the hall ready to work. The organizers had no idea who I was, told me my help wasn’t needed, and asked me to not take any photos. They didn’t even offer me anything to eat. I spent the day standing in a corner, starving, and silently cussing out poor people. That night I had to scramble around on the telephone, calling in favors with local politicians to tell me their “favorite Thanksgiving story” so I’d have something for my editor in the morning.

It’s not that these are bad Thanksgivings, it’s just that they’re not how anyone plans to spend the day. This year we had Sidney running through the property spraying paint everywhere while I shopped for a turkey, and today Buck and I both down with colds, meaning that the meal we’ve prepared is undoubtedly a petrie dish of disease to anyone but us. It’s just as well that we have no guests this year.

 And that’s just the way it goes. You have to laugh about it because as I said, there’s no crying over Thanksgiving.


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