Christmas Traditions Worth Keeping

It’s Christmas and your parents have been amazingly generous with your kids, as the piles of presents can attest. Though their parenting style left something to be desired—“Because I said so, that’s why,” is still not a valid reason to eat broccoli—their Grandparenting style is superb.

But don’t be fooled, to them Christmas is not about love and family and fresh-baked snickerdoodles. No, Christmas is about one thing, and one thing only—revenge gifting.

Yeah, baby, it’s payback time, and the Christmas Karma Fairy is about to collect.

For years your parents have suffered, and now it’s your turn to pay for all those chaotic Christmas mornings packed with the toys that you begged and whined for until your parents—I mean Santa—finally gave in.

Your parent’s generosity is actually sweet revenge for that mind-numbing pull-string clacking duck—quack, quack, quack—retribution for that toy lawnmower that measured twenty decibels louder than a John Deere riding mower—varoom, varoom, varoom—and for that insipid talking doll that repeated—“Hi, I’m Skipper, Hi, I’m Skipper”—until your parents wanted to skip her straight into the Yule log.

Revenge gifting is repayment for all the migraine-inducing sour notes you banged out on your toy piano and the deafening racket you pounded out on your drum set. And still today your poor parents have PTSD from the explosions and machine-gun fire on that World of Warcraft Christmas morning, which guaranteed that they would never again have a silent night.

So don’t let their gifts fool you; they’re not to help with your tight money situation, what with the mortgage, three kids, two dogs and a gerbil to feed. Ever since your first child’s birth announcement, your parents have been plotting ways to inflict as much pain on you as you did on them. Continue reading “Christmas Traditions Worth Keeping”

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I was good all year. I recycled, fed stray cats, gave money to homeless people, even the scary guy with the sign that says, “Victim of Reality.” So, why, why did Santa give me a fruitcake?

Ah, fruitcake. The world’s most unwanted Christmas gift, even worse than the Chia Pet, but a close runner up to the Salad Shooter.

Anyway, back to the “F” word. Fruitcake. What do I do with it? Maybe I could try the disposal option on my Christmas card. It shows an ice fisherman, but instead a dropping his line down the hole in the ice, he’s dropping fruitcakes. The whole town is lined up, waiting their turn to offload.

And I guess I could always re-gif it—by the way, that term that was invented for the sole purpose of making fruitcakes disappear. Have you heard the theory that there has only been one fruitcake in all of history and it just continues to be re-gifted? It’s true; it was baked in 1620. Continue reading “The Gift That Keeps On Giving”

Calling All Monsters

As I walked a back alley of Ghost Town, Knott’s Berry Farm during Halloween Haunt, an ominous purple fog hung in the air, and with each step it swirled like a brew in a witch’s cauldron. Eerie green lamplights flickered devilishly, casting a sick pallor on my skin. From the corner of my eye, I saw something lurking, something in tattered clothes with a hideous half-missing face, like the victim of a flesh-eating bacteria.

Then it spotted me. Though handicapped by a dragging, lifeless foot, it moved fast, and quickly gained ground. In one huge lunge it split the curtain of fog, the only thing separating me from this abomination. I froze.

It dragged itself even closer and grabbed my arm. Then it spoke. “Pam, my mask is coming unglued.”

“Again?” I said, and reached into my Monster Repair Kit. With spirit gum I reattached the latex prosthetic and sent the foot-dragger back into the fog. When I heard a blood-curdling female scream, I knew my monster was hard at work.

As head of wardrobe for Halloween Haunt, monster repair was just part of my job; I was also in charge of the daily cleaning of 500 costumes. At 2 am, when the talent returned after an 8-hour shift, their clothes were wringing wet and reeking with sweat and bad cologne.

While prepping the first load of laundry, I reached into a monster’s pocket looking for the usual forgotten Chap Stick or Tic-Tacs, and pulled out something I’d never before found—a small folded piece of paper.

I opened it, and read, “Hi, I’m Julie. Call me,” followed by a phone number. I burst out laughing, not because I find young love amusing, but because this particular monster wore a putrid pea-green mask with skin the texture of large-curd cottage cheese. One of its eyes had escaped its socket and oozed down the cheek, where it collided with a torn and bloody lip. This girl clearly had no idea what the person beneath the mask looked like. And because he also wore a pair of fake fangs, I doubted the two had had much of a chance to talk. The monster could only show his interest with his eyes, or in this case—eye.

This had to be an anomaly, I thought, until I moved on to the extremely stinky costume of a monster that sported a gray rotting-corpse mask, complete with pupating fly larvae. I found a phone number in his pocket too. Sandi, a resourceful girl who’d dotted her “i” with a heart, had given her cell and work numbers.

Now, I’ve heard that love is blind, but apparently, it also has no sense of smell.

After cleaning the costumes I debated whether to toss the numbers, but in the end—love triumphed. Yet, even though Julie was attracted to the putrid cottage cheese face and Sandi was more your rotting-corpse type, because it was Halloween, I confess, I played a trick and reversed the mash notes. I doubt the girls ever noticed.

Putting Christ in Christmas

I’ll always remember 1963 as the year my parents put Christ in Christmas. That year my mother set up her nativity in its usual place of honor–on top of the console TV. The carved wood nativity was lit by one incandescent bulb that served as both general illumination, and, through a cleverly cut hole in the peak of the stable, the star of Bethlehem. Oh, and it served as one other thing—the ignition point. But I’m jumping ahead. Continue reading “Putting Christ in Christmas”

The Christmas Gift

christmas-santa-claus-fig-decorationI don’t complain about the drought because it’s easy to maintain. Nothing falls from the sky, which has to be raked, shoveled, chopped or pumped out of the basement. Let me explain.

Picture winter in Philadelphia. Are your brain cells feeling brisk and frosty? Well, that’s not cold enough. Now picture 20 below with a wind chill that could freeze the balls off a polar bear—and you’re close.

Continue reading “The Christmas Gift”

What a Turkey

eagle-what a turkeyI’m a vegetarian—except on Thanksgiving. Call it hypocrisy, but this annual gustatory weakness is not my fault. If God had wanted me to be a strict vegetarian he would not have made turkey so delicious. And the big guy upstairs must really have it in for turkeys because he also made them stupid. Delicious and stupid. Now, I may be rationalizing, but I see nothing wrong with eating an animal with an I.Q. lower than my own. This odd epicurean belief is the reason why I avoid all gatherings of Mensa. Around them I get the unsettling feeling that I’m being graded, and fall somewhere between Choice and Prime.

Continue reading “What a Turkey”