Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

it was hiding under the tree

and a partridge in a pear tree

All it took was some pretty lights.

We made hot chocolate and Rice Krispie treats, put on some Christmas music and decorated the tree. It was a nice, cozy family evening and as soon as we turned the house lights down and the tree lights up, my Christmas spirit exploded in a mess of gushy sentiments.

It looks like Christmas. And with a winter storm on the way, it feels like Christmas. Taking a vacation day today certainly helped as well, as a build up of work related stress wasn’t helping my grinchiness.

Thanks for all the helpful comments yesterday, especially Kristine, who reminds me of the old “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” commercial. Without the product placement.

Now, if I could just find my motivation the way I found my spirit, I could actually use this day off to get a lot of necessary Christmas stuff done.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

it was hiding under the tree

and a partridge in a pear tree

All it took was some pretty lights.

We made hot chocolate and Rice Krispie treats, put on some Christmas music and decorated the tree. It was a nice, cozy family evening and as soon as we turned the house lights down and the tree lights up, my Christmas spirit exploded in a mess of gushy sentiments.

It looks like Christmas. And with a winter storm on the way, it feels like Christmas. Taking a vacation day today certainly helped as well, as a build up of work related stress wasn’t helping my grinchiness.

Thanks for all the helpful comments yesterday, especially Kristine, who reminds me of the old “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” commercial. Without the product placement.

Now, if I could just find my motivation the way I found my spirit, I could actually use this day off to get a lot of necessary Christmas stuff done.

Read Full Post »

deck the halls with music reviews and zombies

Been playing Left 4 Dead so much that I have neglected to put up any Christmas decorations this weekend, as I told myself – and my kids – I would.

My kids said they are taking our Xbox away unless we get our priorities straight. I’m blaming Todd. It’s always “one more level, please one more level,” and I give in because I want to rectify the fact that I left Todd laying in puke while being pummeled by zombies. But hey, they don’t call it Left4Dead for nothing.

I did manage to get three reviews done today: Deadbolt, Talking Heads and I totally surprised myself by gushing over a Billy Joel album.

As far as the Deadbolt goes, one of the things I hope for with these reviews is that I turn some people on to music they might not have heard before. So if there’s a band there that you haven’t heard, click the link of my favorite song and give them a try. You never know when you might find something interesting.

Going to get to some requests tomorrow. I still have a whole list of requests, and I’m running them down, but I have to be in a certain mood to do certain kinds of music, so if your’e still waiting, I’m still waiting for the mood to strike. Still taking requests, of course.

Tomorrow morning I’ll have another musical QOD here.

Right now it’s back to killing zombies.

No. Putting up Christmas decorations.

Zombie Santas, anyone?

Read Full Post »

The 24 Days of Xanax

Written years ago, updated yearly

24. Today is the day! Make that list of loved ones you need to buy presents for.

23. How many of those people do you really like enough to spend money on? Whittle that list!

22. Big day! your mom will call and guilt you into hosting Christmas dinner. She asks if you have enough Christmas china. You just bought a package of 100 green plastic plates, so you say yes.

21. Drag out last year’s decorations from the attic. Examine the teeth marks in baby Jesus and call an exterminator.

20. Cross Aunt Betty off your shopping list. Who knew exterminators were so expensive?

19. Get wish list from kids. Explain to them that Santa’s elves don’t make digital cameras or iPods.

18. Accept the fact that your kids stopped believing in Santa years ago and they know you are to blame for all the crappy presents.

17. Give kids a three hour lecture about the shitty economy. Tell them to choose between food and shelter or an iPod touch.

16. Receive heartfelt, manipulative note from kids about how much they love you and cherish you, complete with photo of them smiling like cherubic little angels. The letter is served with a mug of hot chocolate and chocolate covered pretzels. They serenade you with your favorite Christmas carols.

15. Go to the Apple store and purchase two iPods. Stock up on mac and cheese.

14. Cross two more aunts and a friend off your list. Man, those iPods cost a lot of money.

13. Go to the mall to get the accessories for the iPods that you forgot to get the first time. Get in a fight with a rude salesperson. Kick a small child who has wiped their snotty nose on your pant leg. Walk around for three hours in the cold because you can’t remember where you parked your car.

12. Take the family out to buy a tree. Listen to your kids fight over who gets the final say. Listen to the other families fighting and wonder if that’s what yours really sounds like. Lock kids in car and pick out the damn tree yourself.

11. Discover that the box of fragile Christmas ornaments was stored under a box of books. Run to the dollar store and purchase cheesy, faded ornaments. While you are there, pick up some lights that were made in some third world country that doesn’t believe in electric codes. Plug in lights. Blow ten fuses.

10. Consider selling a kidney so you can finish off the rest of your Christmas shopping. Your partner suggests that standing on a corner in a green bikini and red fishnet stockings while holding out a cup might work better.

9. Make attempt at baking for the holidays. After six hours of intensive labor that has left your kitchen in shambles, drive to Dunkin’ Donuts and purchase two dozen of their festive donuts. Eat them all yourself.

8. Explain to children that they will not get anything for Christmas if they continue to behave like wild animals. Watch as they roll their eyes at you because you have never, in all their lives, followed through on that threat. Cry as the ungrateful little bastards walk out the door to spend time with their friends instead of decorating the tree with you.

7. Return iPods. Buy two used Walkmen at a garage sale for 50 cents each. Include cassette that plays nothing but Mr. Roboto.

6. Panic. Even though your kids have been rotten to the core and even though you have sworn not to buy presents for the seven generations of cousins, aunts and uncles this year, you find yourself at the mall again, frantically trying to finish off your list.

5. The first credit card bills come in. The Christmas tree caught fire. Your mother informs you that seven more people will be joining you for Christmas dinner. Your son has invited all of his musician friends over for a rock and roll Christmas jam. Your daughter says she is going to protest Christmas dinner if any animals were harmed in the making of. Renew Xanax prescription.

4. Do a reverse Christmas shopping. Go to Target and start buying whatever is on sale. You’ll figure out later who to give the items to. You’re sure Uncle Fred will adore the stop-motion animation version of It’s A Wonderful Life, even though he’s deaf and blind and consumed with hatred.

3. Stand on the street corner wearing nothing but a green bikini, red fish net stockings and a “Will work for Christmas cash” sign. Your sister uses her Christmas bonus to bail you out of jail. You swear to fight the sexual solicitation charges.

2. Make a last dash to the mall. Return all the presents you bought for your 27 distant relatives that you only see once a year. Go to Best Buy and purchase two iPods because it will be a cold day in hell before you let your kids be disappointed on Christmas, because that will pave the way for them to blame you for every single failure for the rest of their therapy-filled lives. Your daughter will write a book from jail titled “The Christmas That Ruined My Life” and your son will hit the Billboard charts with an angst-filled punk rock song which contains the refrain “all I wanted was an iPod.”

1. Christmas morning. Your kids find you curled up in a ball under the Christmas tree, humming South Park Christmas songs and stinking like cheap rum. You’re still wearing the bikini.

Merry Fucking Christmas.

Read Full Post »

The 24 Days of Xanax

Written years ago, updated yearly

24. Today is the day! Make that list of loved ones you need to buy presents for.

23. How many of those people do you really like enough to spend money on? Whittle that list!

22. Big day! your mom will call and guilt you into hosting Christmas dinner. She asks if you have enough Christmas china. You just bought a package of 100 green plastic plates, so you say yes.

21. Drag out last year’s decorations from the attic. Examine the teeth marks in baby Jesus and call an exterminator.

20. Cross Aunt Betty off your shopping list. Who knew exterminators were so expensive?

19. Get wish list from kids. Explain to them that Santa’s elves don’t make digital cameras or iPods.

18. Accept the fact that your kids stopped believing in Santa years ago and they know you are to blame for all the crappy presents.

17. Give kids a three hour lecture about the shitty economy. Tell them to choose between food and shelter or an iPod touch.

16. Receive heartfelt, manipulative note from kids about how much they love you and cherish you, complete with photo of them smiling like cherubic little angels. The letter is served with a mug of hot chocolate and chocolate covered pretzels. They serenade you with your favorite Christmas carols.

15. Go to the Apple store and purchase two iPods. Stock up on mac and cheese.

14. Cross two more aunts and a friend off your list. Man, those iPods cost a lot of money.

13. Go to the mall to get the accessories for the iPods that you forgot to get the first time. Get in a fight with a rude salesperson. Kick a small child who has wiped their snotty nose on your pant leg. Walk around for three hours in the cold because you can’t remember where you parked your car.

12. Take the family out to buy a tree. Listen to your kids fight over who gets the final say. Listen to the other families fighting and wonder if that’s what yours really sounds like. Lock kids in car and pick out the damn tree yourself.

11. Discover that the box of fragile Christmas ornaments was stored under a box of books. Run to the dollar store and purchase cheesy, faded ornaments. While you are there, pick up some lights that were made in some third world country that doesn’t believe in electric codes. Plug in lights. Blow ten fuses.

10. Consider selling a kidney so you can finish off the rest of your Christmas shopping. Your partner suggests that standing on a corner in a green bikini and red fishnet stockings while holding out a cup might work better.

9. Make attempt at baking for the holidays. After six hours of intensive labor that has left your kitchen in shambles, drive to Dunkin’ Donuts and purchase two dozen of their festive donuts. Eat them all yourself.

8. Explain to children that they will not get anything for Christmas if they continue to behave like wild animals. Watch as they roll their eyes at you because you have never, in all their lives, followed through on that threat. Cry as the ungrateful little bastards walk out the door to spend time with their friends instead of decorating the tree with you.

7. Return iPods. Buy two used Walkmen at a garage sale for 50 cents each. Include cassette that plays nothing but Mr. Roboto.

6. Panic. Even though your kids have been rotten to the core and even though you have sworn not to buy presents for the seven generations of cousins, aunts and uncles this year, you find yourself at the mall again, frantically trying to finish off your list.

5. The first credit card bills come in. The Christmas tree caught fire. Your mother informs you that seven more people will be joining you for Christmas dinner. Your son has invited all of his musician friends over for a rock and roll Christmas jam. Your daughter says she is going to protest Christmas dinner if any animals were harmed in the making of. Renew Xanax prescription.

4. Do a reverse Christmas shopping. Go to Target and start buying whatever is on sale. You’ll figure out later who to give the items to. You’re sure Uncle Fred will adore the stop-motion animation version of It’s A Wonderful Life, even though he’s deaf and blind and consumed with hatred.

3. Stand on the street corner wearing nothing but a green bikini, red fish net stockings and a “Will work for Christmas cash” sign. Your sister uses her Christmas bonus to bail you out of jail. You swear to fight the sexual solicitation charges.

2. Make a last dash to the mall. Return all the presents you bought for your 27 distant relatives that you only see once a year. Go to Best Buy and purchase two iPods because it will be a cold day in hell before you let your kids be disappointed on Christmas, because that will pave the way for them to blame you for every single failure for the rest of their therapy-filled lives. Your daughter will write a book from jail titled “The Christmas That Ruined My Life” and your son will hit the Billboard charts with an angst-filled punk rock song which contains the refrain “all I wanted was an iPod.”

1. Christmas morning. Your kids find you curled up in a ball under the Christmas tree, humming South Park Christmas songs and stinking like cheap rum. You’re still wearing the bikini.

Merry Fucking Christmas.

Read Full Post »

thanks for pissing on my christmas tree

[A few days ago, I published an article at Pajamas Media called Christmas Shopping in a Time of Recession. When the incident at WalMart happened, my editor asked me to update my article to include a bit about that. The tone of the article changed, as did the comments. Though the commenters were already questioning my motives about toning down Christmas (I was being self-serving, what do I know about Christmas because I’m not a true Christian, etc), the part about WalMart really changed direction of the comments, and I felt like my original message was lost in the battle of who could be the most judgmental. So I’m republishing the original article here, with a few minor changes and additions. Basically, all I was trying to say is a) Christmas does not have to be about how big the presents are and b) you don’t have to be Christian to enjoy the spirit of the seaons. That people couldn’t get that and instead chose to politicize and/or argue the point is NOT going to ruin my holiday cheer, but it WILL make me think less of them.]

Everyone knows the real meaning of Christmas, but we are all aware of what Christmas has become. It’s a weeks-long festival of commercialism and materialism. It’s a constant barrage of ads reminding us that our spouses are waiting for that very special gift and our kids are expecting a bagful of toys. It’s the time of year when parents fight in the aisles of WalMart for that last “must have” toy, when we become stressed and short tempered, turning mall parking lots into battlefields.

Times are tough. The economy is looking bleak. But it’s Christmas time, and Christmas time is spending time, right? What happens when we can’t spend like we used to? What becomes of Christmas when our wallets are thin and our credit is stretched to its limits? What will we tell the kids?

We could start by telling our kids no. Sure, a lot of us already do that, but let’s face it; we live in a time of overindulgence. Kids with expensive Macbooks and iPods. Kids who freak out at the thought of not wearing clothes emblazoned with the most elite company logos. When children are used to expecting more, and we’re used to buying more, it’s hard to suddenly stop the tradition of Christmas overindulgence.

Perhaps now is a good time to have a talk with our children about the economy. Now is a good time to take Christmas back.

What does Christmas mean to you? What would it be without the mall Santas and stack of bills? Why does it have to be about presents, whether giving or receiving?

Perhaps the downturn in the economy could be taken advantage of. We could all use this opportunity to turn Christmas from a time of greed and stress to a more traditional time of family, love, and peace.

The winter holidays are a wonderful time of year. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, towns are lit up in beautiful lights, telephone poles are strung with garland, and, if we are lucky, it snows just a bit, just enough to lend a feel of authenticity to the season. There are parties with spiked eggnog and trees adorned with stars and angels. Houses glow brighter each night as another candle on the menorah is lit. On the surface, it’s a beautiful season fit for a Norman Rockwell painting. We need to enjoy that aspect of the holidays more, and let the monetary aspect go.

Talk with your family about this and find ways to ease the financial burden of Christmas while keeping the spirit. The idea of homemade gifts or just giving the gift of time to each other may not sit well with kids at first, but this could be a great opportunity to let them know that things are a little tight right now – not just for the family but for everyone – and Christmas will have to be low key.

It sounds easy, right? Just gather the family, give them the talk, and everyone will understand, and be happy to make and give popsicle stick art for Christmas, and renew their closeness by singing carols in front of the fireplace.

Or not.

Maybe somewhere out there exists a family in which Martha Stewart has married Norman Rockwell and the kids are all as sweet as Cindy Brady, but I’m now inclined to believe that family exists only in paintings, made-for-TV movies and commercials that make us think if only we buy the right products, our families will be less dysfunctional this Christmas. Apparently, Coca-Cola and Campbell’s soup are all the therapy we need.

It’s hard not to buy into the commercialism. It’s difficult to tell our kids that while last Christmas they all got new laptops, this Christmas they will get McDonald’s gift certificates and a hug. Anyone who is a parent knows what will happen if you hand out coupons for hugs instead of presents. There will be mutiny. Let’s face it, our kids won’t get excited over an imaginary Christmas. And it’s not just the kids; it’s us, too. We get caught up in the frenzy of ads, of well-meaning friends and relatives who want to buy our kids more than we can afford to give them. The Christmas music, the holiday displays, the Ho! Ho! Ho! at every store; somewhere along the line they all became synonymous with doling out cash. The Ho! Ho! Ho! Is more like Buy! Buy! Buy!

Sure, capitalism is a good thing. I’ve always rallied against those who call the day after Thanksgiving “Buy Nothing Day.” I’m not saying we shouldn’t buy anything. But most of us will be able to buy less this year, and instead of thinking of how that will ruin Christmas, we should be thinking of how it will save Christmas. We can get back to the warmth and joy of the season; back to appreciating the holidays for the time we spend with family, instead of the time we spend agonizing over gifts.

Christmas is about heart. It’s about sharing, joy, family, and traditions. Our maxed-out credit cards and thinning bank accounts should in no way keep us from embracing those parts of the holiday. Our children may not appreciate the smaller gifts and family togetherness now, but they will learn a valuable, lasting lesson about doing without when money is tight.

No, I’m not a Christian. I’m agnostic, but that does not mean I can’t embrace the joy and warmth of the season, and it does not mean that I can’t understand the celebration of the birth of a man who preached a pretty important message. This is why I love Christmas: I love way the neighborhood is lit up in color and light at night. I love the excitement in the air, the way people give so freely of themselves in the spirit of the season, the way the kids bounce when they walk through the mall, thrilled at the thought of picking out presents for those they love.I love the traditions that have been passed on in my family through many generations. I love decorating the tree and family gatherings and the excitement of a two year old tearing through wrapping paper on Christmas morning. I love the warmth and the comfort and the giving spirit.

I’m not saying I’m not giving out gifts this year. But I am going to make sure that we stress the importance of togetherness, love, family and giving over everything else this Christmas.

Yes, the economy is bad. We’ve heard some people use the word “depression.” Times are hard. But let us remember Scrooge, who said, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could keep the holiday feel all year round? I’m a realist, I know the world does not exist in which we can keep the holiday feel all the time. Which is why it’s so important to make the most out of the season. Someone in the comments at the other site implied that Christmas is when people do things in order to feel good about themselves for a little while, as if all the giving is self-serving.

Maybe that’s what she sees, but it’s not what I see, nor is it what I feel. People need to stop reading so much into the actions of others. If gift giving and family gatherings and making annual donations to charity is part of the holiday season, then why not just go with that? Stop looking for the negative in everything and sit back and enjoy yourself for once. With people stampeding each other for bargain bin prices on toys, stop questioning the religious/moral motives of people who want to embrace the holiday season for the warmth and joy of it.

Happy holidays.

Read Full Post »

fake or real?

(new reviews this morning: Steel Pole Bathtub, Deep Purple, Circle Jerks)

Despite the title, this has nothing to do with Pamela Anderson.

It’s never too early to start this debate. After all, Thanksgiving is this Thursday, which means Friday, the kids will start asking when we are getting a tree.

To tree or not to tree, that is the question.

Well, getting a tree isn’t really the issue here. It’s what kind of tree.

I did the fake Christmas tree for a few years. dangertree.jpgBut every year when I put that thing together, I would end up with scratches up and down my arm, some kind of puncture wound, a tree that looked like a drunk person put it together and a near nervous breakdown. By the time the tree was done, I’d be delirious. I’d stare at it, trying to make sense of what I did, and at some point I’d be sure the branches formed a weird design, like some evil spirit, maybe an anti-Santa, that haunts innocent people and tries to ruin their holidays. That spirit sat in my sad, little tree and mocked me: “HAHAHA I foiled you again, you horrible tree-put togetherer! YOU SUCK!”

Ok, sometimes I was drunk. But that was only after trying to stick the right branches in the right slots for a few hours. Things would get a little out of control. I needed to step back and calm down a bit. A little break, a little gin and I was ready to hit the tree again. So what if in the end it resembled a Picasso painting? The point was, the tree was done. It was up. Yes, it leaned slightly to the left and there was a big bare spot on the right side, but if you turned the bare spot against the wall and tilted your head slightly, it looked almost perfect.

“Mom, why does the tree look upside down?”
“Shut up or Santa will leave you nothing but socks and underwear.”

A few years of that and I was done.

But is a real tree any better?

First you have to go to one of those giant lots where they have about 10,000 trees for sale knowing full well they will only sell about 200. It makes me feel bad to know that all of the trees going to their death. Maybe it’s Catholic guilt, maybe I’m just too emotional for my own good, but I walk up and down the aisles and look at each tree and wonder if it will be chosen by a family or if it will suffer the cruel fate of being chopped down for no good reason at all. I get a vague feeling of emptiness in the pit of my soul as I imagine the trees coming to life, like a Christmas special cartoon, and they’re all singing a sad, forlorn song – complete with dance routine – about standing and watching while their friends get taken home by loving, happy families and how it feels to be the last one picked. Or not picked at all. Just like me in second grade on the playground!! I tell all the trees that I wish I could take every single one of them home and make good use of them. They cry a little and tell me how generous and thoughtful I am and that my Christmas spirit gives them a little hope and makes them feel a little less unloved. Then I break out of my guilty reverie and my bitter cynicism kicks in, so I remind the trees that either way, they’ll probably end up in a fireplace or being smashed to pieces by the blade of a garbage truck. Because in the end, all the trees end up dead. Sure, some of them get to enjoy a week or two of bliss and get all decorated with pretty ornaments and have presents put under them, but in the end, they are all just so much mulch. That’s when the trees turn on me and I flee the lot screaming “The trees are sentient!! The trees are sentient!!”

“Mom, is Christmas getting to you again? Do you need me to get your medicine? That’s the bottle spelled G-I-N, right?”

So, both versions of the trees have their pros and cons.

Real trees smell nice. Once Christmas is over, you just pull the ornaments off and throw it outside. On the other hand, I find pine needles under my couch four months later. Every once in a while one will shake its way loose and puncture my foot or somehow end up in my dinner. I blame the evil Christmas spirit for that one.

On the other hand, driving home from the tree lot with a fresh tree tied to the roof of your car like some trophy deer while the family sings a rousing rendition of “Christmastime in Hell” is a beautiful tradition. I don’t think driving home from Target with a box on the top of your car has quite the same effect.

Fake trees.mockingtree.jpg They cost more, they don’t smell like Christmas, they hurt like hell when you put them together. Although I heard they make trees that open up like an umbrella now. Which is a great concept, but seems a bit lazy. If you’re going to buy a fake tree, you should at least get the satisfaction of martyred crying over your puncture wounds.

Another good thing about a fake tree is you don’t need to remember to water it and, you don’t lay awake at night wondering if it’s too dry and is going to spontaneously combust and set the house on fire, thus ruining Christmas for your family. Probably New Year’s and Valentine’s Day too. You also get more of a variety with fake trees. There are fiber optic trees in varying shades of purple, blue and red. There are pre-lit trees with strings of lights which, in years past I would balk at buying, and my kids would call me Satan for purchasing, but now in my years of acute laziness, short temper and bad back, seems like a good idea.

In fact, wouldn’t it be great to just get an entirely pre-decorated tree? I mean, let’s face it. We all think that decorating the Christmas tree is the best part of putting it up, right? When I think of decorating the Christmas tree, I imagine a family gathered around a tall, perfect spruce, carefully hanging heirloom ornaments on the perfectly spaced branches while Christmas carols play in the background. Steaming cups of hot cocoa piled high with marshmallows sit on a tray table (for some reason, my imaginary tray table is decorated with horses pulling a wagon through a snowy forest), next to a plate of home baked cookies. The aroma of pine needles hangs in the air, mixed with the sweet smell of gingerbread baking in the oven. Mistletoe hangs from the ceiling and every once in a while the mom and dad sneak a kiss while the kids giggle. And everyone’s eyes twinkle.

In reality, it’s more like:
We have three extra feet of tree this year, you should have bought three extra feet of lights. These ornaments are ugly. She touched me. He looked at me. Stop yelling. Put on some Christmas music. Blink 182 is not Christmas music. If you want hot chocolate so bad, make it yourself. Is something burning? Why is the tree naked over here? Close the curtains, the neighbors do not need to see you choking your brother. What is that smell? Eww, stop farting on me!

Maybe decorating the tree isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe a fake tree complete with ornaments and lights isn’t such a demonic idea after all. Still, it would feel wrong somehow. I think about those wasted trees in the parking lots, all just waiting for someone to love them. Wouldn’t giving just one tree a short lived burst of enjoyment and fulfillment be better than buying a collapsible tree that you just take out of a box and prop up every year? Which might be better than the fiasco we went through last year with the real tree.

What it comes down to is this choice: the mocking, scratching, plastic smelling tree or the singing, dancing, sentient, house destroyer tree. What a choice.

Fake or real?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »