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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

May your new year be filled with peace, prosperity, a writer's insight and love (not necessarily in that order). Thanks for reading and commenting this year. See you all on the other side!

Monday, December 30, 2013

When Small Things Grow Big

Well, we pulled it off, folks. Christmas has come and gone and we survived. I'm sure you're as relieved as I am. This time last year, I had this same sense of relief, but also a feeling of letdown. You see, my daughter has a Christmas birthday (actually it's three days after), so I usually have to plan a party the weekend after Christmas.
     Last year, sick of the grind, I planned the birthday in mid December instead. My reasoning was that it's hard to find a day that everyone can make it during that busy Christmas week. People are traveling, visiting, working or recovering from various alcoholic and culinary indulgences.        It's getting harder and harder every year to coordinate this party.
     Plus, did I mention her birthday is also my wedding anniversary? It's a big drag to have to clean all the bathrooms on one's wedding anniversary. Doesn't really propagate warm, fuzzy feelings of marital bliss. Neither does making a meal for twenty people, decorating a cake and stashing Christmas presents or dusting and vacuuming around the ones that can't be stashed. I'd much rather be lying around like a slug leafing through my wedding album in front of a roaring fire. Last year, that's exactly what I did. Yet in the absence of the big family party, I found that I kind of missed all the hullabaloo.

So we went back to having it on the actual day. Not everyone could make the party. Some were out of town or working, but it worked out that the ones who missed the celebration last year could make this one, so it's all good. We ordered yummy Middle Eastern food in the hopes that it would provide a nice balance for all the rich stuff we'd consumed over the holiday. Which it did, according to the guests. And I'm thinking that I'm pretty grateful for my daughter. For the privilege of personally witnessing her transformation from an itty-bitty baby with Billy Idol hair and Mick Jagger lips to a blonde version of Audrey Hepburn. I'm grateful that she was born at such a celebratory time. And that  I was able to welcome a new century in with bringing a brand-new baby home from the hospital. (My first.) I'm grateful that the only Y2K glitch that year was that the hospital lost her first photo. Pretty benign as Y2K glitches go. The photo was probably pretty ugly anyway. (If you've ever seen a first-time baby pic, I'm sure you'll agree they look a bit...distorted.) Besides which, we took more. A couple trillion or so. Here's celebrating my small daughter who became big. She's well on her way to striking out on her own someday, while we look on with pride. Not bad for a year's work. Or fourteen.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Small Things

Be warned: I've joined a blog hop. Hosted by VikLit, it's supposed to be limited to Fridays, but I can't wait until then to celebrate the small things. I want to celebrate them now! So here goes.
     I'll start with an extremely small one: my bank account. December is a horrible month for our finances and it's been compounded this year by an instance of credit card fraud. We're not alone in this, but we were lucky to find out about it the day before all the Target customers discovered they were victims of the retailer's data breach. I imagine we squeaked in just before the bank was flooded with calls, so I'm hoping the investigation will go forth without a hitch. And I'm thanking God for the small favor that there even is an investigation, because it means we probably won't be held accountable for the charges. Unfortunately, the reason I'm so confident of this is that it's happened before. On the bright side, the situation makes for a good excuse to post a scene from one of my favorite holiday movies. Here's Bing Crosby in White Christmas, reminding us not to sweat the small stuff. I'm going to take his advice.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Killing Christmas

     I am a huge Killers fan. I mean, how can you not approve of this?
So I was super excited when I realized the band releases one Christmas single every season. They have about six songs out, available for your listening pleasure on Youtube. 
     I’m proud to say I’m into edgy Christmas music. I own a CD (do they still have those?) called The Edge of Christmas, which is all the proof I need that I’m an edgy chick. Plus, I’m totally open to someday doing either the Laura Ingalls Wilder or The Fred Claus version of celebrating. The former would entail lots of oranges, a smattering of sugar cubes, which we would savor all day long, and handmade gifts. The kids would offer to milk the cow for us for ten days, giving us a well-deserved break. The Fred Claus holiday would put either a baseball bat or a hula hoop under the tree—one for each kid, dependent on gender. (Red alert! That sort of makes it sexist. Is it better to fall prey to mass consumerism or sexism? I must ponder.)
     Anyhoo, my Edge of Christmas CD is a collection of non-traditional songs, including Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses, some song by Freddie Mercury, the quartet of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (featuring Sarah McLachlan and the Bare Naked Ladies) and the duet between Bing Crosby and David Bowie—arguably the best holiday song ever recorded. It’s great—yet it’s still met with resistance when we add it to the mix at family celebrations. Any deviation from Christmas in Killarney or the Sinatra family rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas (which—frustratingly—mixes up all the words) makes my family queasy. They dig Nat King Cole, Bing, Sinatra and Vanessa Williams, but draw the line at BNL’s Elf’s Lament or The Hannukah Song. It’s okay. To each his own.
     So I checked out the Killers Christmas offerings from years past, confident that I’d be adding them to my holiday playlist. I typed: Killers Christmas into a Youtube search and got a song called…..Don’t Shoot Me, Santa. Um, okay. The video features a creepy Santa (as if the concept of Santa isn’t creepy enough on its own) having a sock puppet show and eventually tying Brandon Flowers up with garland. (Hmm, maybe that part wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t blatantly unrealistic. As if garland could seriously restrain anyone.) It’s pretty frightening. If I put that in my player, I’d scar my children for life. And maybe my husband too.
    The next song that popped up was Joseph, Better You Than Me, which is another one that probably won’t make the Kreft or Morrison Christmas cut. I had high hopes for Happy Birthday Guadalupe—and to give it credit, it was more upbeat than the lament about Joseph’s trials as an alleged cuckold. Yeah, I can dig Happy Birthday Guadalupe. If forced.
     Next was Boots. The video starts off promising, with Jimmy Stewart’s prayer sequence from It’s a Wonderful Life. So! Yay. It soon disintegrates into shots of a homeless man pining over a photo of a beaming blond family. Now, I understand that in a video you have to tell a story in a very short amount of time—and it’s not going to be anywhere near the caliber of a well-plotted movie like IAWL—but I’m going to go out on limb and say that homeless people rarely carry 5 x7 glossies of their beaming families. If they even have beaming families. Which they do not.
     Last but not least on the playlist was The Cowboy’s Christmas Ball, which sounded like a mash-up between a Johnnie Cash song and The Walt Disney World resort promotional video.
     I briefly contemplated adding one of these to the CD shuffle at our Christmas celebration. In all fairness, it would probably go unnoticed—like almost everything we do goes unnoticed when we’re surrounded by beloved family members—but my husband and I are gluttons for punishment. We relished hearing Don’t Shoot Me Santa pop up between Vanessa Williams’ Do You Hear What I Hear and some Johnny Mathis horror—just to see what would happen. Then we decided that even we could never be that cruel. Although A Great Big Sled (above) is always a possibility. That one’s not too bad and there’s the added bonus of being able to tell my mom that there exists a music group called The Killers. (I can already hear her say: Who’d listen to a band named after felons?)
    The Killers get an A for trying to rebel against this asinine fight to the death that Christmas has become, but a big, fat E for subtlety. I should thank them, however, for pointing out that holiday traditions are so ingrained that even an edgy person like me can’t easily dispense of them. If that was their intent, then they killed it. I now know that it would take more than an epiphany to get me to listen to The Cowboy’s Christmas Ball over Mele Kalikimaka. Although I might give it another go at Epiphany, which I hear is a religious event disguised as an excuse to leave the decorations up a week past the hullabaloo.
Happy Holidays to all! Kill Christmas this year for me! (If you’re Christian.)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Maybe Next Time We'll Think Before We Tweet

     Americans expressing hate for The Sound of Music Live on NBC awoke today to find that their pretty little souped up four wheel drives had been keyed. There were hundreds of calls to police stations all over the nation, as complainants lamented the ugly slashes across both the driver- and passenger-sides of their automobiles.
     “The evidence seems to indicate that someone has unleashed vast amounts of pent-up rage on these vehicles overnight,” said Sergeant Christophe Pipefitter of the North Bend Police Department. “I don’t know what could’ve caused this person to go off, but it had to be something big.”
     Owners of cars with leather seats reported that their upholstery had been shredded beyond recognition into the semblance of a name. The damage was so bad it was unclear which name exactly, but some victims were able to make out the letter “C” amid the carnage.
     There were also reports of headlight damage and holes in tires across America. A Louisville slugger was found abandoned in a vacant lot in Salem, Massachusetts. It was taken into evidence and is being dusted for prints, but authorities aren’t optimistic about finding a suspect.
     “We got an anonymous tip that the perpetrator took to the mountains in hopes of immigrating to another country,” Pipefitter said. “I think we’re gonna have to put this one to bed in the cold case file.”
     But going to bed might be hard for the hundreds of victims whose cars have been vandalized.
     “I went to bed, because the sun had,” said a tearful and exhausted Gretyl VonderKemp of Hoboken, New Jersey. “And look what happened. I never expected to wake up to this.”
    “You should’ve seen my boyfriend Ralph’s expression when he saw his Hummer,” Gretyl’s sixteen-going-on-seventeen-year-old sister seconded. “There’s no way to describe the sense of violation. We were totally unprepared to face this.”
     Police said the MO is reminiscent of some vehicular crimes that had swept the nation in 2007, coinciding with the release of the album Some Hearts.
    Carrie Underwood, who happened to be nearby fording streams and following rainbows, reiterated her comments of earlier this week. “Mean people need Jesus.” Underwood also cited the Biblical passage, 1 Peter 2:1-25.