Archive for December, 2012

Walking around the shoe store, looking at shoes, I heard a mother ask her daughter, “What color goes with these boots?” When the daughter answered, “Purple,” the mother’s face lit up as her entire outfit was 50 shades of purple. When the mother asked the daughter, “What color goes with these boots?” the daughter sighed and answered, “They’re black, any color goes.” I could tell from the snippet of conversation I heard the mother was not a color person.

Over the years I’ve taught my husband the 50 shades of blue: navy blue, royal blue, baby blue, sky blue and black and blue. I’ve taught him about the brown family and there’s sandy brown, caramel brown, dark brown and chocolate brown. When he once told me he liked the green blouse I was wearing I taught him it was turquoise (a combo of green and blue) and there’s lime green, teal and green with envy.  And I’ve taught him how different colors look different in different light such as daylight, nightlight, moonlight and fluorescent light. (Every woman’s nightmare.)

I brought home a paint chip of a color I’m considering for our bedroom. I stuck it on the closet door, next to the window to see it in natural light. I looked and saw green. My husband looked and saw $ signs (still a shade of green.) My guests, who were looking at it in a darkened room, saw the undertone colors of grey and brown. Different lighting brings out different colors. The right lighting can make anything look alright; only you can’t always count on that lighting. Why do you think people prefer candlelight dinners? Not for romance, but to hide the flaws. Why do you think couples prefer to be intimate with the lights out? Hides the flaws and excess weight. Why do you think bars have dim lighting? Hides the flaws.  I think we can all agree with dim lights and booze, everybody’s cast in the perfect light.

It’s over. You overate. You overspent. You spent time with family and friends. You opened gifts. You asked for the gift receipt so you can return or exchange your gift. Now you can sit back, put your feet up, relax and think about taking down the holiday decorations. Our neighbors have their tree curbside by Christmas night. That’s a little too early for me. Our decorations stay up till the first week in January. If you have a real tree it’s guaranteed to come down, but not if you have an artificial one. Some people leave it up all year round. There’s no deadline.

Once Christmas is over some people turn a blind eye to their holiday decorations. They ignore them the way they do socks on the floor.

Post Christmas can be a let down for some people as the holiday season is akin to training for a race. You train and train for it and the race itself is over in the blink of an eye. Christmas is just like training for a marathon. You rush to decorate, bake, shop and write newsletters no one cares about. You rush from one activity to another. You flutter around in excited anticipation till the day arrives. And before you know it, it’s over. You’re left holding a hideous sweater your aunt bought you and vowing to lose the weight you gained over the holidays in the New Year. But, your New Year’s resolutions, like your decorations go ignored. Now you know why your neighbor’s decorations stay up to Easter.

We’ve had the same roll of wrapping paper for years. We bought it back in the day before all we bought everybody were gift cards. Now the wrapping paper sits on a shelf, unused. Not only does buying gift cards cut down on paper, it also cuts down on the gifts I buy for myself. Used to be when I’d shop for that perfect gift for someone I’d look at something and ask myself if I’d be happy to receive this as a gift. If I answered yes, I’d buy two – one for myself and one for the other person. Buying gift cards has saved me a lot of money. Since they fit perfectly in a card you don’t have to fuss with wrapping them, which suits me just fine. I’m a terrible wrapper.

Some people have a gift for wrapping; making a box look like a work of art; decorating it with ribbons and bows. The presentation is so beautiful you feel guilty tearing into it. But, the guilt quickly fades as desire to see your gift wins out.

When it comes to unwrapping a gift there are two types of people. You have the type who rips into it, paper, ribbons and bows flying everywhere.

The second type is methodical. They’ll size up the gift by turning it around and looking at it from every angle before they start to unwrap it. They’ll slowly remove the ribbons and bows that adorn the package and place them aside. Next, they’ll carefully break the seal from the tape and slide the box out at one end. It can be a long, tedious process. While you’re at the stores on Dec.26, shopping the after Christmas sales they’re still at home unwrapping the gifts.

Usually how a person opens a present is the same way they’ll unwrap a hard candy. If a person quickly unwraps his gift, he’ll quickly unwrap his candy. If a person slowly unwraps his gift, he’ll slowly unwrap his candy. I know. I’m married to a man who slowly unwraps both presents and candy.

The other night, watching television it took him fifteen minutes to unwrap a Hershey Kiss. I could have unwrapped and eaten a whole bag by the time he was done. He dragged it out so I could hear the crinkling of the wrapper. He’s the person at the theater, sitting next to you who think if they slowly unwrap the candy it won’t make noise. Guess what? They’re wrong! Open the goddamn candy already and eat it!

So, unwrap your candy, unwrap your gifts and have a Merry Christmas.

I read a magazine article that listed Santa’s health tips for the average person to follow. I’ll go over some with you.

Tip No. 1- Climb chimneys (figuratively speaking). Sitting less than three hours a day can add years to your life. It’s true Santa climbs chimneys one night a year and who knows how much exercise he gets the rest of the time. He may sit on the couch watching Honey Boo-Boo.

Tip No 2 – Get a reindeer (a pet) – having a pet has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Santa’s pets serve a second purpose and that is to act as chauffeur. Think of it. How many people have pets that drive them around? Sweet. This is good for the big guy as he never has to hail a cab or ride the subway. His ride is always on time and there’s never been a report of a reindeer collision; at least that I know of.

Tip No. 3 – Hand out toys (do generous works). It said handing out toys can create the same dopamine-fueled euphoria as sex and food (milk, cookies). Santa may feel happy handing out gifts once a year, but for the rest of the year I think he stays happy by enjoying milk and cookies. Think of it… the guy has a list of health tips and he’s still fat? Why is that? It’s because he takes home all the cookies left out for him on Christmas Eve and eats them throughout the year. Why if Santa adhered to his own health tips he’d be as skinny as a super model.

But then again if he ever became a model he’d become grumpy. Anyone would be grumpy if the only thing they ate all day was a carrot stick. But, since nobody wants a grumpy Santa, we cut him some slack and a piece of pie.

The man lives with high maintenance reindeer that drive while tipsy and temperamental elves that are always threatening to strike. If this was your life wouldn’t you indulge in cookies and spiked eggnog to stay jolly? Think of it.

My husband and I waited around all day for a package that was due to be delivered from FedEx.  At7 p.m.the package had not arrived and we realized we had wasted a whole day. This would have been the perfect opportunity to do what so many people are doing this holiday season – outsourcing Christmas chores. We could have paid someone to sit in out home and wait for a package.

I can see how if you’re busy and pressed for time you’d hire someone to bake your cookies which were made with love. I can see how if you’re short on time you’d hire someone to decorate your tree and house, giving it that special flair. I can see how if you’re stressed and hate crowds you’d hire someone to buy friends and relatives Christmas gifts.

Craigslist is where you can hire people to do all the things you don’t have the time or the inclination to do. I can see your assistant stringing your lights, but when it comes to picking a personal gift for the wife, be careful.

Christmas morning – your wife is eager to see what you bought her and since you’re eager to see what your assistant bought her; you help her tear off the wrapping and open the box. There is stunned silence as the two of you stare at the first aid kit. Your wife looks at you, her husband of twenty years and growls, “Have we met before? This must be the first time we’re meeting because my husband, the man I’ve been married to for twenty years would know better than to get me a stupid gift.”

Later the husband uses the bandages from the kit to cover the wounds his wife justifiably inflicted upon him. There could be no justifying using the motto ‘It’s the thought that counts’ as there was no thought. My advice would be to fire your assistant and take care of the holiday preparation yourself. And so this is why my husband and I don’t outsource our chores and stay home all day waiting for packages that never come.

The Federal Communications Commission past the CALM (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) Act. The act prevents TV commercials from blaring louder than the program and maintains constant volume levels.

I would have really appreciated this back when I watched commercials, say in the 70’s. Since we record every show, the truth is I haven’t watched a commercial in years. Advertisers knowing this, now choose to air commercials at movie theaters, to get the captured audience. Now before a movie you have about fifteen minutes of previews and five minutes commercial time. Twenty minutes of your life you can’t get back.

Thanks to satellite radio I no longer listen to commercials in my car. When I do turn on regular FM radio I’m annoyed when a commercial comes on. It’s like switching from PBS to regular television.

Loud television commercials have been banned just in time when the noise level in restaurants has gotten louder. Has anybody besides me noticed it? Do you have trouble hearing yourself speak when you’re at a restaurant? Have you found yourself shouting across the table at your dinner partner? Have you found yourself using sign language in order to be heard? Have you found yourself grabbing your waiter by the collar, pulling him close and yelling in his ear you want a side of onion rings? Have you started yearning for the days when the only annoying, loud thing in a restaurant was the crying baby at the next table? Have you given up talking over the noise to your husband? Do you suspect that the smile on his face and the reason why he always chooses this particular restaurant has nothing to with how good the food is?

Now that we got a ban for loud commercials may be one day we’ll get a ban for loud music coming from the car next to you in traffic. But by then I’m sure I’ll have a hearing aid, in which case I’ll be able to simply turn it off.

Oh no. This couldn’t be. Why now? I had a hole in my sock, wide enough for my big toe to show through. The only reason I wore socks was because I was going to my gynecologist office and as all ladies know… those stirrups are cold. The socks were not only for warmth, but to hide my gnarly, unmanicured toenails. Looking at my toe stick out, I thought, do I keep the sock on or remove it? If only I had an extra pair of socks in my purse. As women we stuff so much crap in our purses, but never socks. From now on I will.

I know a woman who loves to wear socks, especially to celebrate a holiday. She’ll wear Santa socks for Christmas, pumpkin socks for Halloween and pastel socks for Easter. Whatever the holiday, she has the socks. She even wears socks in the summer with her sandals. Usually it’s men who sport this fashion blunder. Why socks and sandals in the summer? Can’t decide if your feet are hot or cold? If you’re one of these men, stop it. Now!

To me wearing socks and sandals is like someone wearing a sleeveless turtleneck. If you’re wearing a turtleneck it’s winter and cold outside. If you’re wearing a sleeveless top, it’s summer and hot outside. If you wear a winter top and a summer top at the same time, you’re confused and hot and cold at the same time. A sleeveless turtleneck may be good if you’re a split personality. I’ll bet this type of person keeps two pair of socks in their bag at all times. Wool socks for their cold personality and a light, breathable cotton for their hot personality. You can bet this person or persons would never have such a dilemma at a doctor’s office.

My daughter took two cookies, in two separate bags to school with her. It wasn’t that each cookie was so big it required its own bag, she didn’t want them touching being they were different cookies. Talk about segregation. She’s one of those people who don’t like their food to touch. I used to be one of these people. I believe the TV dinner tray was invented by someone who didn’t like their food touching. It’s because of these people that paper plates with dividers will always be popular.

But, now that I’m a mature adult (older anyway) I don’t mind my carrots and peas mingling on my plate. Although I’m sure the person who came up with the idea for canned peas and carrots must have been a rebel if his parents were food separators. Why, giving his parents a can of peas and carrots must have been the equivalent to giving them a heart attack on a plate.

Most people who don’t like their food to touch are very big with ordering things ‘On the side.’ You want your dressing on the side. You want sour cream on the side. You want your meatballs on the side. On the side was very big with Sally from the movie, ‘When Harry Met Sally.’ She had everything from ice cream to the wedding cake sauce on the side. It was a great movie and if you didn’t see it, you must.

Buffet tables can be a nightmare for food separators. A buffet gives you one plate and 100 food choices. What do you do? Do you make 100 trips to the buffet and risk having people think you’re a pig? Do you take two plates, one for each hand? Do you take a tray, fill it with plates and fill each plate with a different food? Or do you squelch your anxiety, knowing that no matter how high the barriers you put up to separate your food, it all winds up together and comes out the same place? That is all except for corn. I don’t know what it is with corn that it doesn’t digest. You’ll see it waving at you from down under; if you look close you’ll even see the melted butter you spread on it. But, corn’s a topic for another day, another blog.

When we first got married I made two Christmas cookies. Over the years the list has grown. One of the first cookies I made was the jam filled thumbprint. I still make it, only my version varies a little. Sometimes we omit the jam. Sometimes we omit the thumbprint, shape it into a ball and roll it in almonds, giving us an almond cookie. Sometimes we omit the nuts and place a dab of jam in the middle, giving credence to its name.

Another cookie that’s tradition is the snowball cookie. Although, there’s nothing surprising about it as anybody that knows me, knows the surprise will be some form of chocolate. These cookies are meant to be dusted with powered sugar, but since I’m not a fan, the surprise is, there is none. A snowball cookie without white sugar doesn’t look like a snowball. It looks like a simple ball of dough.

We make sugar cookies also. My kids will decorate a cookie in a unique design so as to call it their own; their way of calling dibs. Heaven help the person who mistakenly eats their cookie. Why, they’ll bite the head off your snowman if you touch their cookie. They’ll get vengeance, an eye for an eye; or should it be… a corn-cob-pipe for a corn-cob-pipe.

My favorite cookie is an Anise cookie. This cookie is technically not a Christmas cookie, yet I choose to make it at Christmas. I don’t know why. Nobody is more confused by this tradition than me since I don’t give the cookie out. No way. No how. I make the cookie (for which I double the batter) and eat it, till way after Christmas. One year, one of my kids suggested we leave one out for Santa. I moved the kid over to the naughty list. Let Santa eat the snowballs with no snow and the thumbprint without any fingerprints. Let him leave my cookies alone, before I bite the head off of Mrs. Claus.

My husband and I were going through stuff in my closet when he came across our son’s baby book. He looked through it and said, “Hey, you didn’t finish your sentence.” “What sentence,” I inquired. “The one where you started writing all the hopes and dreams you have for him and you stopped mid sentence.” I peered over his shoulder to read what I wrote. “Huh, so I did,” “Well, why didn’t you finish it?” “I meant to, but got busy and forgot.” “You could finish it now if you want.” “I can’t remember what I wanted to say 23 years ago. My memory’s not that good.” “Yet you remember everything I’ve ever said that was wrong.” “Oh, shut up.” “Besides what were you so busy doing you forgot to write in his book?” “Oh, I don’t know, maybe being a mom and having a third kid.” “Did we get a book for our third and last one?” “Probably not, if we did, I forgot where we put it.”

“So, we have one completed baby book for our first born, one half completed book for our middle child and none for our last, the baby.” “You got it.”

Not only did our first born get a completed baby book which documented mundane things such as the first time she blinked, but she also got the undivided attention from young, patient parents. Since she was our one and only we were on her like white on rice. She was the stereotype of a first born and if other siblings didn’t follow – an only child.

A sibling came along four years later. We loved him. We adored him and were grateful for him as his sister now had somebody besides us to play with. He relieved the pressure. With a second born you’re more relaxed and not so, shall I say, ‘anal.’ You don’t freak out and sterilize bottles and pacifiers if they hit the ground. You give it a licking with your tongue and shove it back in their mouth. You don’t worry that at 13 months they’re crawling instead of walking. You make the most of it by securing dust rags to their knees so they can crawl and sweep simultaneously.

But, more relaxed does not mean more time. Two kids mean twice the work; which is why you may forget to write in their baby book. Luckily, I know he won’t mind, because being true to the middle child stereotype he is a peace keeper. He’d rather let things go than stir up a fuss. Also, he could console himself with the fact his younger sister didn’t even get a book.

His younger sister, our baby, came along four years later. By the time we had her we went from being young parents to old parents. The baby of the family is stereotyped as spoiled and pampered. That’s not true. Parents love the baby equally, but the truth is you let them get away with stuff the others didn’t because you’re tired and old. You can fight with them over things or you can opt for peace and quiet. You can fight and make them eat their broccoli or you can sit and rest. You can fight with them about doing chores or you can sit and rest. You’re tired. You choose to sit.

You’re so tired that by the time your baby is 10 and comes up to you holding a six-pack and a carton of cigarettes and asks if it’s ok for him to indulge, you give him thumbs up. You know you should protest, but you don’t have the stamina. You sit in your recliner and rest.

So, it’s not that the baby is intentionally spoiled and pampered; it’s that the parents are old and tired. So, in reality, the baby is the happiest, most neglected kid in the family, they just don’t know it. And if everybody keeps their mouth shut, they won’t know they didn’t get a baby book.