Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Feast of St Thomas Becket.

"Well played, Thomas...[you've] made mincemeat of them."

Monday, December 28, 2015

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me...

... one whopping case of the cutting-edge norovirus that is sweeping the Upper Midwest.

What, you havent' heard of the norovirus?  It's all the rage here.  No fever, but a stomach-and-intestinal assault that will knock your socks off.  And it comes on fast.  One minute it's "I'm starving, let's go out to that nice restaurant and order some sliders" and the next it's "my stomach hurts"  and the next thing you know your kid is puking in someone's driveway.

The good news is, it's only a 24 hour bug, they tell me.

The bad news is, while the daughter has kick-started the thing, I fear it will spread to husband and self sometime today.

And to top it off, weather forecasters are predicting a blizzard.

So it's off to the store for Desperate, to lay in supplies of ginger ale and chicken broth and possibly Gatorade.

Cross your fingers.  I hope to go down in history as the first mom in history not to get the same thing her family has.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Good King Wenceslaus Looked Out...

... and saw we got a white Christmas after all.  What an invigorating way to start the day, shoveling one's driveway, brushing off the car, envying the neighbors with their snowplows.  Ah, the joys of the season!

Other traditions were observed yesterday, on Christmas Day itself.  The traditional last-minute panic at the loss of the  most important gift!  (Where did I hide that box?  Think, dammit, think!)
 The traditional viewing of "Die Hard."  (It just isn't Christmas until Hans Gruber takes that plunge off the Nakitori Plaza building, am I right?) 
And of course, the traditional I-know-I-swore-off-carbs-but-after-all-it is -Christmas indulgence. Okay, indulgences.

And one of my favorites:  the traditional ignoring of the news media for the day.  Go ahead, take your polls, see if I care.

Happy Feast of St Stephen, everyone.  We have another ten days to go, I think.  Party on.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

Amazingly all the shopping is done and all the presents are wrapped.  I'm watching "Christmas in Connecticut" on TCM to pass the time while I'm trapped in the bedroom, waiting for the daughter to finish her wrapping in the kitchen.  We are going to a vigil Mass at 4pm, that is if I can get the car down the skating rink of a driveway without crashing into something.  Then in accordance with Desperate family tradition, we're going out for Chinese.
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2015

On Gift Giving

I have come to a sad conclusion regarding gift giving:

Apparently I am terrible at it.

For the past couple of years it's seemed like no one wants the gifts I give them. Not coincidentally, I suppose, this timing coincides with the presence of a teenager in my house.

Time and agin I have found the various Christmas and birthday presents I gave my kid- all very graciously accepted, thanks mom it's beautiful etc.-- I keep finding them tucked away in a closet, still in their boxes. untouched.

Hm, I said to myself.  I thought I was good at this "giving the perfect gift" thing.  Apparently not. I mean, if the kid liked the "Psych"-themed bracelet she would have worn it at least once, right?

This got me thinking about gift giving.
Someone shows up on your doorstep with a gift. You never asked for it; it was all his idea.  Now you have to figure out what to do with it.  If it came by UPS you have to dispose of the oversized cardboard carton.  If it came with a gift receipt you have to make an unwanted trip to the mall to see what can be done about it.  Or, you could just use or wear the the thing, regardelss of whether it appeals to you or not.

A couple of weeks ago I sent someone a mink coat.  No, really, a mink coat.  (Consignment stores rock.)  Waited for response.  Finally got one: "A generous gift but I don't wear fur."

At first I was a little hurt.  I mean, if I got a mink coat in the mail, well WOO HOO!!!

But the operative word there is "I."
I sent someone something I would love.  I never asked her if she would love it.  In my defense who the hell wouldnt' love to get a mink coat in the mail?  What madness is this??  And it's from a consignment shop, those critters have been dead for 40 years!  It's a little late to get all PETA on this!

(BTW that's the last time I try to surprise someone, it just doesn't work out.) 

Now instead of a delightful surprise I've saddled her with a chore.  Now instead of wearing a beautiful mink she's going to haul it to the UPS store, shell out 17 bucks to mail it back, and try to get it done during the busiest time of the year when she has a million other things to do.  Intending to lighten up her life, I inadvertently complicated it.

So I am done with gift giving, or at least the so-called "creative" side of it.  From now on nothing but specific requests for me.  Everyone will probably be happier and I won't waste any more time I should be spending on writing, anyway.

Bah.  Humbug.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Coffeeshop Christmas

Ok, I admit it, I spend a lot of time in coffee shops.  I have my favorties, my less-than-favorites, my compromises.  I come to one place that has awful coffee but there's a fireplace and the people are friendly;  I sometimes sneak over to the shop across the street because the coffee is so much better, but there's no fireplace and the staff are kind of surly sometimes.  Maybe I just catch them on bad days.

The one thing these places all have in common is Christmas music.  Mostly of a pop/rock variety.  This brings me to my subject of the day.

Here's the thing: half the people who are producing these Christmas songs would easily fall into the war on Christmas camp.  You know, Christians are the bad guys, it's all just a myth, get your Nativity scene off my town hall lawn, etc.

But they're all pretty happy to cash in on the holiday.

Not that they violate the anti-Christmas sentiments.  The pop Christmas songs I've been sujected to over the past few weeks could have been about anything.  Substitute any other word for hte word "christmas" and the songs still work fine.

Take Elton John.  "Step Into Christmas" goes like this:  "Welcome to my Christmas song, I'd like to thank you for the year, and say it's nice to have you here."

Allow me to translate:  "Welcome to my bank account, I'd like to thank you for the amount you've poured into my lap this year."

That's it.  That's the whole message. 

The more Christmas music I hear as I prowl the malls and supermarkets,  the more I  wonder how long it will be before real Christmas music is banned from the public square.  Songs about Christ and His coming- think Bing Crosby and "Silent Night,"  or Nat King Cole's rendition of "O Little Star of Bethlehem."  Does anyone think they could be made today and broadcast freely?  The anti-Christmas set would be on the producers like a shot.

A few years ago I was in a work out class at the Y.  You know the kind, hand weights and loud music and impossibly toned young women shouting encouragement into their microphones.  After about twenty minutes the instructor sai, "OK, everybody, this next song's a great workout tune!  Just try not to listen to the lyrics, okay?"

The song was "Spirit in the Sky."  When I asked her afterward what was wrong with the lyrics, she tol me, "We really can't have people hearing stuff about Jesus."

I figure the great Christmas songs have another five years in the malls.  Then it will be just Cindy Lauper bleating "It Feels Like Christmas" and  the adorable Darlene Love giving us "It's a Marshmallow World."

Wait a second- a Marshmallow World?  Where are the anti-obesity cops?  Somebody get on that right away!

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Storm Warning

Had our first snowstorm last night.  Of course it was the same night the daughter announced she'd left a crucial textbook at school.  So we had the thrill of driving through it.

It's about a seven minute drive, usually, from our house to the school.  I didn't notice how long it took us last night.  I was too busy counting the crashes.  Total  5.  Not bad for a stretch of just a couple of miles.

But the good news is the snow has stopped, and according to the weatherman we are in for what I think of as the "dessert" after a winter storm:  Yes, folks, we have sleet on the way.

Every year I ask myself, Who was the joker who thought it was a good idea to plant a city here?  Did someone look around and say "yeah, headwaters of the Mississippi, horrific winters but sure, let's go for it!"  Are we keeping an eye on Canada?  Or worse, Iowa?

Well, I put my Christmas lights up early just to pierce the gloom.  I know it's not Christmas yet but someone's got to take a stand for sanity around here.

And if those boneheads currently jabbering away in Paris want to talk about climate change, I want them to know I'M ALL FOR IT.