Archives for posts with tag: Christmas

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This recent ban of the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” has me a little miffed. I won’t lie… reading the lyrics in this day and age, one can interpret the situation in a very different manner than I’m sure the writer’s original intent was.

That being said, I now call for the ban of a few other songs that are way more questionable than this holiday duet.

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Blurred Lines

While this is a great song to walk to the lyrics are without a doubt sexist as fuck.

And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me

Why is a song where a girl saying no is a “blurred line” and that he “knows she wants it” not receiving the same uproar of “Baby it’s Cold Outside?”

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Lighting Strikes
I have always questioned the message of this song. All he wants to do in get in this poor girl’s pants.

Nature’s takin’ over my one-track mind (ma-me-aah, ooh)
Believe it or not, you’re in my heart all the time (ma-me-aah, ooh)
All the girls are sayin’ that you’ll end up a fool (ma-me-aah, ooh)
For the time being, baby, live by my rules (ma-me-aah, ooh)
When I settle down
I want one baby on my mind
Forgive and forget
And I’ll make up for all lost time
If she’s put together fine and she’s readin’ my mind (stop)
I can’t stop (stop) I can’t stop myself (stop, stop)
Lightning is striking again
and…

There’s a chapel in the pines
Waiting for us around the bend
Picture in your mind
Love forever, but ’til then
If she gives me a sign that she wants to make time
(stop)
I can’t stop (stop) I can’t stop myself (stop, stop)

 

What the serious hell???? He can’t stop himself if “she’s put together fine.” And there’s a chapel in the pines waiting round the bend….in other words, bang me now and we’ll get married, baby. Maybe. It’s really a sick message disguised around a catchy tune. 

As for me? I’ll still include “Baby It’s Cold Outside” to my holiday playlist. If these other songs are still allowed airtime, I don’t see why that one shouldn’t get the same consideration.

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I don’t know what is wrong with me. I have zero Christmas spirit this year.

It might be because December was very busy for us this year. We had things to do every weekend from visiting family, one daughter’s birthday, and another daughter’s college graduation. The next thing I knew it was 10 days before Christmas and I didn’t even have my tree up.

Here’s what I did do.
I got a tree and put lights on it.
I put up lights on the house.

That’s it.

The tree has no decorations. I haven’t addressed a single Christmas card. I have started our family newsletter, but can’t seem to finish it. I didn’t set up our Christmas village…didn’t even take one box out of the closet. I didn’t set out any of my Christmas chachkis…The tin santas, the snowman on the sleigh, my wire reindeer, and the wooden santa with the little tiles that count down the days to Christmas are all still in their box up in my closet crawlspace.

As it got so late in December, I figured it was a waste to take them out only to have to put them back a week or so later. Same with the tree decorations. We don’t have a single ornament on the tree.

I had almost no time to shop. I did a fair share of it online, and one of my packages didn’t come at all even though I ordered it in November. Fucking low rent seller on Amazon. They’ll be getting a call from me on Monday.

Even wrapping presents today was a chore. I came to the realization as I huddled over my bed, struggling with cheap paper and a stubborn roll of scotch tape, that I hate wrapping.

I have deemed 2016 as the most unmerry of Christmases ever.

This may have a lot to do with my dad dying and a giant dangerous Cheeto as president elect. It seems life has little meaning.

At least I have good health coverage.

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It amazes me at times when I think back to some of the stuff I did as a kid. Either my parents were a pair of progressive, easy going nut-jobs, or they just had faith that the universe would take care of us. Hmmm, that’s kind of the same thing.

Anyway, last night while driving home I thought of a Christmas tradition that my sister and I did for quite a few years. We would gather the kids who lived next door, put in an hour or so of practice, and head out Christmas caroling.

s-l225Yes, at night, unsupervised, a group of roughly 5 kids would travel around our block knocking on every door and, when opened, sing the residents a Christmas carol or two. To make matters worse, we actually held a little tin measuring cup for the sheer purpose of collecting tips, but in a very nostalgic, old-timey Christmas fashion.

So upon reading this are you like, “Awwww” or are you like, “Ewwww?” Because thinking back on this, quite frankly, I’m struck with both emotions.

On the side of “Awwww” – We were really cute! All bundled up with scarves and stocking caps, spreading good cheer through music. And we were pretty darn good. We had harmonies worked out, and each house got a different song. I think we had about 10-15 good songs in our repertoire. Many times people had family over, and they’d all gather in the doorway listening to our song. Sometimes they’d ask for more. Other times the threw a buck or a quarter in our cup and wished us well.

On the side of “Ewwww” – Some folks did not want to be bothered. We had a few doors slammed in our faces each year. I’m sure many folks found us totally obnoxious. Who wants to be bothered on Christmas Eve with a gaggle of strange kids singing “Jingle Bells?”

Plus, as a parent (who tends to have some helicopterish tendencies), if my kids ever asked if they could go out in the neighborhood knocking on stranger’s doors to sing Christmas carols? I’d hum them a few bars of “No Way José.”

I guess that’s why I started this post talking about my parents. That wonderfully permissive pair almost never said “no” to these sort of antics. Hell, once we went out collecting on Labor Day for the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy telethon. Those are the kinds of shenanigans my parents allowed us to take part in.

After we would make our rounds, we’d head back to our house and divvy up our earnings over some hot chocolate. We usually wound up with around $5.00 each, which, to quote Spicoli, was righteous bucks back then.

It’s a good memory for me. To this day I can harmonize with almost any traditional Christmas Carol out there. After all, I had all those years of practice!

 

Wishbook

When I was a kid there would come a time each fall when my mother would bring home the Sears Christmas Wish Book—600+ pages long and as thick as a phone book. The arrival of this book would trigger a month-long “it’s my turn!” between us four kids, because this book had a killer toy section.

I had all of these, by the way. Sigh…I wish I still did.

Page after page of Barbies, Fisher Price Little People playsets, doll houses, slot car sets, play kitchens, record players, puppets, and tons and tons of games. As a child you practically drooled as you turned each page, eager to see what “it” toy was going assault your “I want that!” senses next.

I think we had this too. If not I know we wanted it badly

I think we had this too. If not I know we wanted it badly

But you didn’t get to dawdle when you had the wishbook, not at first anyway. Once a sibling saw you with the book in your hot little hands, you were asked to hurry up, and sometimes not so politely. Of course, every so often when you took too long, the coveted book was simply ripped out of your hands, leaving you staring at the linoleum counter top as opposed to Malibu Barbie.

One of the creepier pages in the book - I don't think I'd be happy opening the Seance game on Christmas morning.

One of the creepier pages in the book – I don’t think I’d be happy opening the Seance game on Christmas morning.

But eventually there would come a time when the book was all yours. My brother and sisters had had their fill of rod hockey and Jerry Mahoney dummies, and I could take the Wishbook in my hands and do what I did best…pretend.

I would stare at each page that held a toy I wanted and imagine playing with it. I’d just look at the toy and actually pretend that I was opening little Barbie kitchen doors or bringing a plane in for a landing at the Fisher Price airport. I could spend hours in a pre-Christmas fantasy land. What a dork I must have looked like…sitting in a corner talking to a catalog.

bad fashionsAs time marched on and we got older the Wishbook was less alluring. We spent more time glancing at the front of the book which displayed “today’s hip fashions.” However, let it be known that I did not spend much time imagining myself wearing any of the clothes.

With the exception of a bathing suit when I was around 13. I loved that suit. It was my first maillot.

I highly recommend visiting the site wishbookweb.com. Pick a book and flip through the pages—you just might lose yourself remembering all those great toys you got one Christmas.

Christmas Tree Pins

This past weekend my girls and I were browsing around the various antique stores in Staunton, VA. I came across a collection of Christmas pins, much like the ones pictured above, and man did it take me back. My mother had a quite a collection of garish pins, mostly given to her by us kids as Christmas presents.

When I was young, I might only have $4.00 or so to spend on my parents for Christmas. I’d squirrel away the quarters and dollar bills pressed into my hands by grandparents or doting aunts, earmarking that stash for my annual trip to the Five & Dime to do my Christmas shopping.

Our Five & Dime, located on Broad Avenue in Palisades Park, was a treasure trove of crap. But it was absolutely perfect for the Bucek children to do their Christmas shopping. Gloves, hankercheifs, ceramic knick-knacks – all could be had relatively cheap, then taken home and wrapped in the discarded funny pages, and placed under the tree.

Dad was hard to buy for. Most years I would buy him a new ink pad, a box of paper clips or a pen. Dull, yet somehow humorous now that I look back. I can picture the father in “A Christmas Story” trying to appear pleased with his can of Simoniz.

KC-05301.1LBut with mom you could get creative. One year I (or one of my siblings) bought her a glass paperweight that looked similar to this one. It had an undulating ribbon of beauty inside that reminded me of a psychadelic flower-covered meadow. I spent hours turning that glass ball around in my hands and peering at all the amazing details inside.

And then there were the pins. Snowmen, wreaths, reindeer and Christmas trees, all chintzy and showy dripping with rhinstones and enamel. Mom would ooh and ah over them on Christmas morning, and would carefully place them in her jewelry box. Every winter when the holidays drew near, you knew you could count on one of those pins being secured to her blouse or her jacket.

How I would love to rummage through my mom’s jewelry box once again and gaze upon all those wonderful treasures we bought for her. And how I would love to stare into that glass globe – wondering what it would be like to run through the flowers.

Picture 2Each Christmas for the past forever years, I would set up and display all sorts of thing besides our Christmas tree. There were Santa statues, snowmen on sleds, wire reindeer, and my Christmas village.

Yep, I collect those little ceramic houses and craft a wintry village each year. It’s a task that is super time-consuming. First I have to drag in a long, narrow table from the garage and drape it in a table cloth. Next I get to dig around the hard to get at crawl space and free up all the boxes each house is kept in. Then I have to trudge up and down the stairs and pile the boxes on the table. I then go back up stairs to find books to use as hills in my village.

Then you lay down the fake snow, and begin the process of opening up each and every box that has a ceramic house encased in it. This is a chore in itself as each house is wrapped in a styrofoam mold which needs to be pried open, and then put back in the box again, or I’ll forget which form goes with which house. Next it’s time to plug every house in to test if their lights still work. If not, it’s off to the store to buy replacement bulbs.

I then need to find not one, but two power strips in order to plug these suckers all in. I arrange all the little houses and shops in a pleasing fashion, then climb under the table and hope to God they all light up again, despite the fact that I just checked them. Then you set up all the do-dads; trees, villagers, benches, mailboxes.

Then, my kids play in it. Or at least my youngest one does. I doubt my 18 year old could tear herself away from Netflix and Habbo to bother with the village, but my youngest will sit there for an hour moving people around the town and creating little stories. Just like her dear old mom used to do.

This year? I kind of never got around to putting anything out. Once the tree was up, I sorta stopped decorating. And why? Because it’s a lot of work for a few week’s enjoyment. With Thanksgiving coming so late, I lost at least a week of decorating time.

Another reason I’m holding off on the decorations is to be honest with you, they sort of junk up the house a bit. I don’t have a lot of room in my house, and even less room for chachkies and whatnot. Whenever I put out all my Christmas stuff the house seems cluttered rather than festive.

I have felt like a total Grinch about this too. I’ve been debating whether or not to bust into the crawl space and just set everything up, regardless of the late date. But you know what? My kids haven’t mentioned a thing. They haven’t said, “hey mommy, where’s the Christmas village?” or “why isn’t the countdown to Christmas Santa out?”

So I’m thinking I might stick with the tree and that’s it. Unless one of them notices and eventually asks. I think then I’ll heave a sigh, and begin my first trek up the stairs.

 

busy1-500x350I can’t believe it’s been a week since Thanksgiving and my last blog post. Seems like only yesterday that I was dishing up my disastrous disappointment of a dinner. It just goes to show you one thing…

I’m too damn busy.

It feels good though. Working 2 jobs and juggling a freelance client keeps my days full, that’s for sure. I have to seriously plan out when I can manage to do what. For instance, I have to lay out some edit featuring a prominent university neighborhood in town, and I have to figure out when to take pictures. Plus, I have to allow for bad weather so I have time to reschedule if need be.

Lately I’ve been getting up at 5 am just so I have enough time to fit in some extra work, and play a few rounds of Candy Crush on hubby’s phone (yes, I’m addicted, but not too bad). After work I’m just too tired to do much else – plus there’s the housework to do and I need to devote some time to my child.

So, who has time to blog?

It’s not like I don’t have the material; I have a list of topics a mile long. It’s just that it takes me at least an hour to finish a good post when I have a story to tell – sometimes longer. These days? I just don’t have that to spare.

On top of my workload, there’s Christmas to shop for. Any my youngest girl’s birthday is next week. Oh, and my Christmas newsletter? I’ve barely started it – there’s another 2 hours just to gather the photos and lay it out, not to mention the addressing and mailing.

On top of that, there’s still Christmas decorating to be done. I got the lights and the tree up (hubby is bitching about the lights again this year…surprise, surprise Gomer). But I haven’t set up my Christmas village, and with only 20 days until Christmas, I may not bother. All those trips up and down the stairs and all those boxes and cords to unpack. Uff da! I don’t know if I have the strength!

So, dear readers, if you’re wondering where the hell I’ve been, the answer is pretty much everywhere, and running to try and get to the next thing.

Santa Photo

When I was a small child of 5 or so, my mother, overcome with Christmas spirit, must have actually paid to have our photo taken with Santa. If you knew my dad and his spend thrift ways, you’d know why I’d question her spending good money on a Santa photo – especially this one.

This photo has been a source of family amusement almost since it was taken. It is bad on so many levels, that I seriously question my mother’s sanity on why she decided to have it taken, and furthermore, why she decided to purchase it. Here are several reasons why I would’ve told the Santa photo Department at Bamberger’s to fuggedaboutdit.

Head1. My head. I’m not sure what kind of hairdo my mother fixed me up with that morning, but I am not rocking it. I have a bump that closely resembles a mini volcano.

I look like I have tic tacs for teeth – and I am obviously missing the two front ones courtesy of a a fast ride down the driveway on my tricycle. Little slovie managed to do a face-plant on the pavement and my front teeth hit the ejector seat.

And what is with my hairline? I have some form of bangs but they are more like grass clippings. And for some reason that line across my brow coupled with the fact that my head appears to be square makes me look like the lost daughter of the dude to the left.

Dress2. My dress. Is this a dress or just a t-shirt? Was mom in a rush and plumb forgot our pants? And if it’s close to Christmas, why don’t we have stockings? Bare legged in New Jersey in December? Maybe there was a hint of Indian Summer that day, but most likely the act of  hiking stockings up my chubby little legs was more than mom was willing to do.

Hand3. My hand. And smack dab in the middle of this fa la la la la la photo is my hand. My awkward little hand. I’m not entirely sure what it’s doing. It could be trying to shield my fundies from view due to the fact that my mother dressed me in a Barbie outfit. Maybe I had to pee. Maybe I had an itch. Maybe I farted and was trying to block its escape.

Whatever the reason, it sucks that front and center in this photo it looks like I am digging in my crotch.

the knee4. My Knee. Ok, if you’re going to take me to get my photo taken with the department store Santa in a dress that wouldn’t fit a kewpie doll, and I have a boo-boo on my knee, the least you could do is put the band aid on straight. I can deduct exactly what happened here…while applying the band aid, the adhesive stuck together and mom, in a rush with 4 impatient kids just slapped that fucker on whichever way it would stick.

A straight band aid would’ve been sort of charming. But that thing? It’s like it was applied by a triage nurse at the front lines.

sister5. My Sister. There is a 3rd sister in this photo – can you find her? I don’t know if she was meant to be in the picture and the photographer had a 3 martini lunch or if she was supposed to stay out of the frame, but was foiled once again by the family schnozola. In any case, her nose sticking in from stage right cracked us up for years and years.

You also have to love the placard with the numbers clearly visible in the photo – makes it look like we are getting our photo taken with a prison Santa.

As many flaws as this photo has, I’m thankful it was taken. I never brought my kids to have a photo taken with Santa – the type you dress up for specifically and shell out the dough to Mrs. Claus and her elves. If we did manage to find a short line for Santa and the kids got to sit on his lap, I usually didn’t have my camera.

But my mom managed to rush us out of the house – Bad hair, short dresses and crooked band aids aside to get out photo taken with Santa. Then I imagine she wanted a three martini lunch.

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Today my girls and I headed to town so my oldest could pick up little gifts for her friends. I was also going to try and get a few things on the sly for both of my girls. I knew that the last Saturday with elbow room before Christmas was going to make for hectic day. I know that NEXT Saturday is the actual last weekend before Christmas, but that weekend is for complete knuckleheads or folks who have really lousy pay schedules.

We got into town at 11:30. By 2 pm I was ready to jump off the fiscal cliff.

I hate crowds. I have now come to the conclusion that when I am on a shopping mission, crowds (aka assholes who are in my way) just piss me off. If I’m at a wine festival or a crowded holiday party, the more the merrier! I have a drink in my hand and all is right with the world! But Christmas shopping? That’s a Santa of a different color.

For example, Toys R Us was a monumental cluster-fuck today. It took me 7 minutes to get from the front of the story to the Barbie aisle in the back. Folks were clogging up the already congested aisles thanks to bins and tables of worthless “on sale” crap placed smack dab in the middle.  This eliminates the shopping cart passing lane that is so crucial at this time of year. While granny is pondering the sticker set on the end cap I’m all dressed up with no place to go.

And it amazes me how clueless people are about the space they are taking up. Stopping to swipe your cell phone is not appreciated when you are blocking the Lego aisle. The cherry on the Toys R Us sundae was when I was trying to get in line to purchase my stuff. Mario Andretti couldn’t have maneuvered the turns they had set up to wait for the next available cashier. There was a woman browsing the Pokemon display which was right at the entry point into the sit and wait maze. This entry required a hairpin turn from where I was positioned and she was not budging. I tried to ease by her, and brushed her purse.

I apologized and waited for her to make room for me, which she didn’t. I then nudged forward again, and made contact with her purse for a second time. Meanwhile, scores of people are getting into line ahead of me from the other, easily accessible side. With each nudge and subsequent brush up against her purse I apologize, and she won’t move. I finally say “I’m really sorry, but I’m just going to have to bust through here” and she says “I’m sure you’re really sorry.”

Fuck you! Who buys Pokemon cards anymore? Can’t you see that your are blocking the entry to the line?

Next we head to Best Buy where my oldest realizes that our lunch isn’t agreeing with her and spends the next 45 minutes in the bathroom. What was supposed to be a 15 minute visit turns into me standing and watching my youngest mess with the iPads. Then the power went out – too many tv’s, computers, and stereos going at once. This day is getting better by the minute.

The rest of our day was no better – crowds in every store, and my youngest with an attitude. I turned into one of those crappy parents who balled her child out in the bead aisle at Michael’s. I  had to change purchase lanes 3 times after I waited 10 minutes in line behind a kid who was paying with her shit from a jelly jar crammed with $1 bills. The normal person would’ve found that charming, but at 4:30, dying of thirst, and aching feet? She was not charming, she was the evil seed.

From now on I think I’m going to do my Christmas shopping online – not just for my sanity, but for the well-being of the folks around me.

Before I get slapped with the “Ba humbug” label, read on – although I did come mighty close to stomping every green, yellow, red, blue and pink light into a kaleidoscope of holiday dust, my house is a this point partially festooned with lights.

I thought it would be a great day to get started on the old Holiday checklist – thus, I pulled out all of my Christmas lights and went through the task of testing each and every string. While this is a crucial step in the process of decorating, it usually winds up being a baffling waste of time. Because no matter how many years I perform this task, a string of tested, and deemed perfectly good lights, decides it no longer feels like being part of my team.

It happens every year. I’ll be halfway through my light stringing process, and suddenly one string of lights – inveritably in the middle of the bunch, will just conk out. This will occur despite the fact that a mere 30 minutes earlier, it lit up in true Christmas glory. While this on its own sucks, the bushes I am stringing these lights on have a tendency to tear human flesh. Now I have to un-string it all, disconnect the traitorous batch of lights, and replace it with a set that I can only pray is willing to play fair.

But this year my Christmas lights upped the ante. By playing into my total lack of common sense, they figured out a new method of torture.

I began like I always do, by stringing some fake pine garland along the railing of my front deck. It’s the best Christmas buy I’ve ever made – got it at Big Lots back in the late 90s and have been using it ever since. My husband hates it, but I really love the way it looks on our railing and have lobbied long and hard to keep it. I then decorate the rest of the railing and deck, and move on to the three bushes in front.

This year, I got the bright idea to string the deck lights to the bushes in front and save myself an extension cord. We only have a few that are green…we also have bright orange ones, but they don’t camouflage as well as the green so I’m not supposed to use them (hubby rule). I got the first bush covered, and then the second after having to troubleshoot several outages…the lights were not tired of playing that game with me.

When I moved on to the third and final bush, I plugged in a new string of lights and saw that half the string was out. I cursed silently to myself, and tried another string. And suddenly…

All the lights went out. Every string. Not just half, not just a few, not just one strand, but every fucking light.

I was so pissed my head began to spin. I’d just spent at least 2 hours and all the lights were out. For the next 30 minutes I plugged and unplugged several series of lights, and extension cords and had more than a few sips of wine. I found what I perceived to be the offending section of lights and replaced them with fresh ones.

Ah, now we’re cooking! I get back to my three bushes in front, fix bush #1 and bush #2, and plug in a new strand for bush #2 when, poof!

All the lights went out.

FUCK! This was getting ridiculous. I was cold, my hands were chapped and scratched from the bushes sent from Satan’s greenhouse, and now I was facing a total Christmas light blackout again. I went back to the first string again, thinking it was burnt out, when it suddenly dawned on me.

I had strung too many lights together. Just like Ralphie’s dad in “A Christmas Story,” I had blown a fuse. The realization of this was a total “duh” moment for me, but I wasn’t sure I had figured out my dilemma.

I keep a box filled with the little baggies of spare lights and fuses that each and every set of Christmas lights comes with. I grabbed a screwdriver and a pair of those mini fuses and replaced them both. After unplugging the string that was indeed one too many, and replacing the blown fuse, all my lights came back to life.

Ah, success!

It was getting dark, and I was too cold and tired to start on the bushes again, so I called it a day. I tested the strings of lights that I thought were bad, and replaced the fuses in all of them – I got most of them to work again. I was glad because I would’ve thrown out perfectly good lights otherwise.

Tomorrow I’ll head out and finish my decorating as best I can. I will certainly need at least 6 more strings of lights to cover the ones that never came back to life from last year, and the ones I ruined by throwing a tiny tantrum after I quite literally blew my fuse. I’ll be on the lookout for sales…

As crappy as my light stringing experience was today, I did learn something…you can only string so many sets of lights together. Believe me, it’s a mistake I won’t make twice.