Category Archives: Holidays

An Actual Fun Office Christmas Party Idea — REALLY!

Damn it.  (No, that’s not the Christmas party idea.)  I meant to post this earlier.  Like in November.  But I forgot. Because in spite of not being terribly fond of Christmas any more, this is a great idea.

Thanks to Doobster for his post The Office Christmas PartyIt reminded me that I forgot.  Or something.

So embedded in this story is the great office Christmas Party idea.  Whoever comments on it first gets to give me his or her favorite stuffed animal.

A Different Toy Story

Nobody suspects I would have done anything of the sort.  I’ve fooled them all.  Well, at least I’ve fooled the folks I work with.  And that will do.

You see, we have a terrific Christmas tradition at my office.  We have a party, yes, and it’s actually fun because we like each other.  And the highlight of the party is a gift exchange.   About two weeks prior to the party, we choose the name of a co-worker, and bring a gift for that person as if he or she were 7 years old.  We open the gifts and have a great time guessing who gave it to us.  Then the toys are collected and given to a local charity.

We have a blast, it’s for a good cause, and everybody tells their funny childhood remembrances of what we would have done with a toy like they got.

But it was awkward for me this year, because I got a doll.

She was a beautiful, blue-eyed doll with rosy cheeks and curly blond hair just like mine.  Any girl would love her and gently care for her.  Any girl would treasure that pretty doll.  Any girl would have given that beautiful doll to her own daughter to love, too.

Google Image from Etsy

Google Image from Etsy

Link to doll

Any girl but me.

Because for the most part, I hated dolls.  And for most of my childhood, I did anything to avoid playing with them.  Except when I was about 7.

Well, I guess I answered honestly when I said that, uhhh, yeah, I would have played with the delicate dolly.   And, yeah, I would have played with it when I was about 7 years old.  So yeah, the gift, umm, fit me.  I didn’t elaborate, though.

I didn’t, for example, tell anyone that the dolly would not have been happy with the situation.

I blame my parents, they bought that particular house.  I blame my brother. Me, I was innocent.  I was led astray.  I was forced to do it.  The fact that it was hilarious and became one of my favorite memories is completely irrelevant.

You see, the house I grew up in was next to the railroad tracks.  And naturally, because it was strictly forbidden, my brother Fred and I used to spend lots of time playing on the tracks.  We’d put our ears to the rail to listen for trains, and, once we were sure none were coming, we’d run across the tracks.

That was fun for part of the first summer we lived there, but hey we were 6 and 9.  We needed growth opportunities.

We flattened pennies until we had enough to lay track from New York to New Haven made entirely of smushed Lincoln faces.  For a while we would wait for a train to come and then hop across the tracks, trying not to trip and die.  Fortunately we both succeeded and outgrew our interest in that particular challenge.  We tried to flip the track switch so that the train would jump the track and go down our driveway instead of on towards New Haven.  But for some reason, someone had locked the switch, and no matter what we did, we could not get the train to go down our driveway.  It was probably just as well.

One day, I got home from a friend’s house to find that my favorite stuffed animal, an orange poodle won for me by my dad, was missing.  Naturally, I accused my brother of hiding it.

“I didn’t hide it, Lease,” he said.  “I played with it.  It was just sitting on your bed,” he said in that brotherly tone that indicates I was stupid for questioning him.

He walked into my room, grabbed another stuffed toy, my stuffed Pebbles doll with the plastic head, and said. “Come on.  This is really neat.”

Out we went, down to the tracks.  We waited and waited, putting an occasional ear to the rail.  Finally, Fred placed Pebbles on the tracks.  Like Pauline, Pebbles looked skyward.  Like Pauline, as the train approached, her feet wiggled.  Unlike Pauline, however, there was no rescue.

 

We would have let Pauline go, though. Really.

The train whizzed by sending the most delightful plume of stuffing up and out, way over the top of the train.  It was a hit.  We rushed back for additional victims.  All my stuffed toys and each and every doll met a sorry end.

As it turned out, today at the party, my boss had picked my name, and the doll was from her.  “Would you have played with a doll like her?” she asked, no doubt envisioning me dressing her up and playing with her like other girls.

“Absolutely,” I said, weighing the doll and imagining just how high up this particular doll’s stuffing would go.

*     *     *

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Awards, Bat-shit crazy, Childhood Traumas, Christmas Stories, Family, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Stupidity

Healing

Before I started blogging, I hadn’t done much personal writing.  I’m a medical writer at work, so I’ve been working with words for decades.  But they weren’t for me.  They weren’t about me.  And they didn’t help me get beyond my share of those things that landed on my shoulders and my heart and pushed down.  Tried to drag me under.  Things that succeeded sometimes, I’m sorry to say.

For years I’d grieved.  I couldn’t get beyond the loss of much loved family members.  Until I wrote this post.  Now, I think and write my stories with more smiles and fewer tears.  Through the humor I found writing it, I got myself back.  And them, too.  It was a win-win.  By writing it, I was able to heal.

I had forgotten that really, the only thing as powerful as words is being able to laugh.  When I first posted Both Sides Now three years ago, my bloggin’ buddies didn’t quite know whether it was OK to laugh.  It is.  I did.  I do.

My long-time bloggin’ buddies may remember this post.  I’m posting it again mostly for myself and for my newer friends.

*     *     *

Both Sides Now

“The Season” makes me crabby.  Grumpy.  Irritable.  I’ve come to hate it.  Everything about it.  I hate the music, the crowded stores, the decorations.  I especially hate the decorations.

Last year a friend stopped by our house in the middle of December.  “God, it’s December 15th,” I said to her, “and the only decoration I have up is the wreath on the door!”

“I don’t think that counts, Lease,” responded my husband John. “You didn’t take that down from last year.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Tonight, I’m looking around at my undecorated house thinking, “uggggh,” not “Ho ho ho!”

It wasn’t always true, though.  I used to be one of them.  I was a veritable Christmas Elf.  I baked, I decorated.  I embroidered Christmas stockings for the whole family.  My son Jacob and I built gingerbread houses that did not come from a mix or a box and were actually made of gingerbread stuck together in the shape of a house!  My friends got a bottle of homemade Irish Cream liqueur.  Some used it to get their kids to bed on Christmas Eve.

But mostly, I sang.  The records, tapes and CDs came out on Thanksgiving.  From the moment I woke up the day after Thanksgiving, until New Years, I would trill away.  “White Christmas,” “Do You Hear What I Hear?” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”  I belted “Mele Kalikimaka” when I had an established escape route to avoid people trying to punch me.  I know the words to all 18,423 verses of Frosty the Snowman.  I would start singing in the shower and keep going until John tackled me and put duct tape across my mouth, usually at about 8:30 a.m.  Regardless, I’d start up again the next morning.

If the current, Crabby Christmas Me got a hold of the old Merry Christmas Me, I would slap myself silly.

So you see, I do understand the Christmas-sy part of Christmas.  The love, the joy, the traditions.

But now I see the other side.  And it’s that “tradition” part that is to blame.

You see, my family’s always been fairly competitive.  My mother and her sister Ruth were particularly so.  They’d argue at each shared Sunday dinner over a million things:  whose gravy was better (my mother’s), who cracked the best one-liner (always Aunt Ruth – she was a hoot), and most traumatically for me, whose young daughter was taller. (Duh, Maureen was almost a year older than me – of course she won every time.  But you’re not taller now, are you?  And you’re still older, Maur.  You’re still older.  How do you like it??)  Darn, I wish I’d missed the competitive gene.

When I was a kid, Aunt Ruth was high on the list of my favorite relatives.  Now she’s tops on an altogether different list.  And it ain’t Santa’s list, neither.

Because Aunt Ruth started a family tradition.  A competition.  But it’s not a family tradition I recommend, especially during the Christmas season.  In fact, it should have a warning, although I’m not sure where you’d put it:  Don’t try this at home.

You see, Aunt Ruth started the tradition of kicking the bucket on a major holiday.  What fun!  Great idea!  Not many families do that!  Hey, we are DIFFERENT!

Knowing Aunt Ruth, I’m sure her last thought was “Doris, you’ll never top this one!  I’m dying on Thanksgiving!!!!”   She was no doubt a bit miffed when my mother joined her a couple of years later.

Because, not to be outdone, Mom arrived in the afterlife on Easter Sunday.

Their party really got going when we reached Y2K, and my sister Judy died unexpectedly on my birthday in January.  Now, you might argue that my birthday is not, technically speaking, a holiday.  Not a paid day off for most folks.  But hey, in my book, this qualifies.  So there.

As time went on, there were fewer and fewer holidays I could celebrate.  The only big one left was Christmas.

Guess what happened on Christmas, 2000!

Yup, Dad reclaimed his spot at the head of the table with Mom, Judy and Aunt Ruth. Dad trumped them all.  Or because it was Christmas, perhaps he trumpeted them all.  Maybe both.

I must say I am rather ticked off about it all.  Sort of changes the tone of the Holidays, you see.  I plan to have words with all four of them, next time I see them.  And I will not be nice.

In the meantime, celebrating holidays, well, it just seems so odd to me.  Especially Christmas, because Christmas is so stuff-oriented, and most of my Christmas stuff is from them.  It takes a bit of the fun out of decorating.

For a while, I considered joining the Eastern Orthodox Church.  That way I could celebrate the same holidays, just on different days.  I could keep all my Christmas crap!  I could decorate!  I could bake!  I could sing!  But then I realized that the change would just give us all additional high priority target dates, and I don’t have enough family members left to meet the challenge.  So Eastern Orthodox is out.

At the same time, I also realized that, when Dad hit the Holiday Lottery, the whole tradition had to stop.  Because I’m pretty sure that biting the dust on, say, Columbus Day, just wouldn’t cut it.  So why bother?

Nevertheless, this whole thing has made me decidedly anti-holiday.

There is one holiday I still look forward to, though.  Groundhog Day.  I just can’t figure out what sort of decorations to put up.

Photo courtesy of Google Images

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Birthday, Bloggin' Buddies, Childhood Traumas, Christmas Stories, Dad, Family, Health and Medicine, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Mental Health, Mom, Taking Care of Each Other, Writing

Nope. Not Even For This

In 1983, I’d forgotten about Nate’s birthday — my (then) youngest nephew.  He was turning 7 on November 29.  And I hadn’t gotten him anything.

I couldn’t not send him a present.  I couldn’t send his present late, either.  I had a reputation to uphold, hard-earned through a combination of silliness, indulgence and bribery of my sisters’ kids. The favorite aunt.

So bravely, OK, foolishly, I went to ToysRUs on Black Friday that year.  Because I am a damn good aunt.  A saint.

An idiot.

Not me, but the blond woman looks kind of like me.  (Google Image)

Not me, but the blond woman looks kind of like me. (Google Image)

 

It was a madhouse.  Wall to wall people, shoving each other around to find the latest favorite toy (Cabbage Patch dolls, I think it was that year).  Zillions of people trying to grab things off the shelves, elbows flying, tempers flaring.  I’ve never gone shopping on Black Friday again.  I never will.  Nothing would get me to go.  Nothing.

Unless of course, some store re-runs this sale:

Japanese Department Store

Offers Unusual Deal

Finally, braving the mall makes some sense

On second though, nope.  Not even for this fuckin’ sale.  Or any other fuckin’ sale, for that matter!

Hope you are/were smart enough to stay home!

 

*****

My thanks to Toby of Dumbass News for  reminding me of this sign.

(Happy Birthday Nate!)

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Birthday, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Family, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Mental Health, Mysteries, Stupidity

Mother’s Voice

Somehow, I didn’t even give it a thought.  Not until I heard the song, anyway.  Then the tears filled my eyes and I struggled to keep them back.  I couldn’t stop the lump that formed in my throat, though.  I couldn’t talk, couldn’t even whisper.  I had to stop and listen and remember.

Music, even a song you’ve never heard, can set both the tears and the memories flooding in.

It’s the anniversary of the drastic surgery I had in 1982 that gave me back my health.  I had forgotten all about it.  Normally when November rolls around, I find myself thinking back to that time, and how lucky I was to have the doctors I had, the family I had and the friends I had.

But what makes me think back most fondly on having my guts torn apart and totally reorganized was that it reintroduced me to my mom.  I went from having no respect for her whatsoever, to realizing that she was one strong, smart, funny woman.  That was my silver lining.  I’ve writen about that time a lot, including here.  And here.  And here.

When I heard this beautiful son on a satellite radio show interviewing and playing Arlo Guthrie’s songs, Mom came flooding back.  And I’m so glad.  It’s always a gift to spend time with Mom who passed away in 1997.

Happy Anniversary Mom.

Mom at my wedding.

Mom at my wedding.

Thanks for everything.  I love you.  Especially when I made you laugh and you spit beer on the wall.  Or when you did it back to me.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Crohn's Disease, Family, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Mom, Taking Care of Each Other

Good Reason to Fear European Travel

Since the Age of Exploration gave way to colonization of the Americas, folks living in our neck of the woods here in the U.S. of A. have feared travel back to the Old Country.

They feared crossing the ocean on a sailing vessel, a steamer, an ocean liner.  It is a big ocean.  (Remember the unsinkable Titanic)

They feared flying over the Atlantic in a dirgible (Remember the Hindenburg)

They feared flying over the Atlantic in an airplane because anything can happen.

But mostly they feared trying to get by in a language they could neither speak nor understand.  That, and they use different money over there!

In recent years, though, more and more Americans are venturing abroad.  Seeing the sights, the art, the scenery, the architecture that Europe is so justly famous for.

But all that will end soon.  Because there is something new in Europe to fear.

Vaginas.  Yup.  Vaginas.  Big ones.  At least that’s what I read over at Talking Points Memo

A Giant Vagina Attempted to Swallow An American Tourist (Photo AP Photo / Feuerwehr Tübingen via TalkingPointsMemo)

A Giant Vagina Attempted to Swallow An American Tourist (Photo AP Photo / Feuerwehr Tübingen via TalkingPointsMemo)

Giant Vagina Sculpture Traps US Student in Germany

An American exchange student who got stuck in a giant vagina sculpture was freed by firefighters in southwestern Germany.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Conspicuous consumption, Diet tips, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

What’ll I Do?

“I have to believe,” Dad said smiling, looking across the table at the lot of us.  By an amazing coincidence (school vacations) we had an unplanned family gathering — all seven of us, plus respective spouses and grandkids there in Florida at the same time.

It was bitter-sweet, though, we all knew would be the last with all of us together.  Mom was fading quickly.

The laughter and individual conversations and one liners quieted down as we all expected Dad to give a toast.

“When I look at all five of you,” Dad paused, smiled, put his arm around Mom, “I have to believe … that your mom and I — are at least first cousins.”

The crowd roared.

My Dad wasn’t much for sentimentality.  He was a wise-ass, and a very funny man with terrific comedic timing.  But in his heart he was a romantic.  And he loved those sappy, romantic songs from the 1930s and 1940s.  Of course he did, he fell in love with Mom when she was singing them.

Actually, Dad wouldn’t tell me how he met Mom.  Well, he told me how they met many times.  A different story every single time I asked, with the more outrageous ones coming out if Mom was in the room.  It became a wonderful game for the two of us.  How he met the girl of his dreams.

“Dad?  How’d you meet Mom?”

“One day I found myself whistling a happy tune, turned the corner and saw her and figured out why I was whistling.”

“Dad?  How’d you meet Mom?”

“Who?”

“Dad?  How’d you meet Mom?”

“I was just walking down the street one day, and she chased after me.  She never DID let me go.”

“Dad?  How’d you meet Mom?” I asked when I was hospitalized for the first time.

“She was singing in a show.  She was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen.  So I went back stage.”

I don’t really know if that was the real answer, but I suspect it is.  Because Dad always had a soft spot for those old torch songs.  And he loved to hear Mom sing them — which she did with such style, even if she was washing dishes as she sang.

So here, for Dad and his lady, is one of Dad’s favorites.  I can remember him telling me the story of Irving Berlin and Ellin Mackay.  They fell in love but her father disapproved, and sent her off to Europe.  He wrote this song and married the girl.

Happy Father’s Day to my Dad, to my Husband (a wonderful Dad) and to all of you Dads.

(And Frank?  You guessed it — John HATES this song!)

 

 

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Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Dad, Family, Holidays, Mom, Taking Care of Each Other

It’s In His Kiss

Fess up. It’s your fantasy and mine.

You’ve not only finished your book, but it was published. It wasn’t a best seller, but literary types – like us writer/bloggers – read it. Of course you don’t make any money, but writers are supposed to struggle.

At least until they get an offer from Hollywood, that is. And a flight to Palm Springs to discuss the film option with the head of a major studio and a cast of characters straight out of, well, Hollywood.

Vickie Lester (of Beguiling Hollywood) has a new book! It’s In His Kiss reads like a vintage photograph. Light and dark, blended into a page turner. Palm Springs in full bloom, Hollywood, stars and wanna-bes. Oh, and did I mention murder?

 

Available at Amazon.com

Available at Amazon.com

 

It’s out and available at Amazon.com .  A perfect book to take out to the cee-ment pond with you this summer.

Yup it’s your fantasy and mine. Except maybe the murder part.

 

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Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Books, Holidays, Writing