Tag Archives: Christmas

It’s hard to forgive a bully

I saw this cartoon on Facebook this morning. My good friend Tina Milano posted it, and I borrowed it to share here:

Rudolph and reindeer heads

Credit to the artist whose name is scribbled in the corner. Thank you!

The funny thing is that I was thinking about Rudolph and the gang just the other day. I wondered how little kids who are bullied (or are bullies, for that matter) relate to the song’s message.

As you’ll recall, because of his nose, Rudolph’s friends laughed at him and called him names. They shunned him and wouldn’t let him play their games. Pretty harsh stuff, right?

But, wait. The weather stinks, poor visibility – and Santa decides to use Rudolph’s shiny, red honker as the guide light for his Christmas eve toy run. A logical choice, but I always wondered, did Santa know the other reindeer were giving Rudolph a hard time prior to that evening? Did he care? And if he did, why didn’t he step in sooner and tell them to cut that crap out? Hardly seems like behavior that Santa would condone.

Rudolph, of course, is happy to help out but was possibly thinking something like, “Hey, suckahs – how do you like my nose NOW?”

But what pisses me off the most is that then, all those two-faced critters do an about-face.

“Oh, Rudolph, we LOVE YOU! You are so amazing! Honey, you’re going to go down in HISTORY! OMG, Rudy!”

Talk about sucking up.

If I were Rudolph, I’d tell Blitzen to kiss my furry ass. Suggest that Comet stuff his congratulations where the sun don’t shine. You get the idea. Freaking bullies. Now everything is just hunky dory? I don’t think so.

We’ll never know what happened after that foggy night of same-day deliveries. If I were Rudolph, I’d do something to those assholes who gave him a hard time, but being nonviolent, I wouldn’t resort to turning them into mounted heads on the wall. That seems extreme.

But here’s a 21st century twist to this old song.

While reindeer apparently are too tricky and devious for commercial use, Amazon is trying its best to match Santa’s feat. I think they even make some deliveries on Christmas day.

They have wisely steered clear of magic reindeer, but if Amazon’s soon-to-be-introduced drones are adorned with little red lights, I think we’ll all know where the inspiration came from. Right? At least drones are unlikely to pick on each other.

On that note, I’d like to wish a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Pick a card. Any card.

So I just decided I’m not sending out Christmas cards this year. If we’ve known each other for a long time, you are well aware that I’ve always been unreliable in this regard. I’m surprised anyone sends me Christmas cards, ever, because you can’t count on me to reciprocate from one year to the next. It’s a crap shoot.

xmas cards

If you can’t decide which card I should have sent to you, Richie will be happy to choose one for you.

Here’s Richie with my array of cards. You can imagine which one I might have sent to you, okay? Some are holiday cards. One just has a snowman and says “Joy,” so that’s appropriate for atheists and/or believers of any religion. Joy is a good, seasonal message – short, sweet and nondenominational. It also just says “joy” on the inside. Minimalist message. That’s Joy Option #1.

There’s actually a second “Joy” card with a huge “Joy” written on the front with a picture of Santa Claus, but on the inside, it just says “. . . to you and yours during this wonderful holiday season.” If you don’t have a problem with Santa, it also is pretty much suitable for everyone. Click here for Joy Option #2.

See the big shiny red card that just says “Merry” on the front? Don’t be deceived by its innocuous cover. On the inside you’ll find a blatant reference to Christmas, so don’t choose this card unless you’re inclined toward Christianity. Fair warning.

I have two brown cards that imply a rustic charm, I suppose. I guess that’s why I bought them. I forget. The first one, which I bought this year, says “Happy Holidays” on the front and the message inside is so tiny and difficult to read, but says “Wishing you joy and peace this season.” I would say the brown paper bag-type design and minuscule writing suggests some reluctance to put too much emotion into the message. Hey. Let’s keep this tasteful and inclusive, okay? If you like that idea, pretend I sent you that card.

The last brown card has Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays written in a number of languages, tapering down from the star at the top to form a Christmas tree. You know how much I love to travel, so Buon Natale and all that might be your choice if you like to travel, too. The only problem with this card is that there is no message on the inside. None! That box, as you might imagine, is mostly full, because who wants to think up stuff to write on the inside right? If you like that card, pretend I wished you much happiness in the year ahead and maybe made reference to a big trip I know you’re planning in 2016.

xmas stamps

I’m sorry. Who are Hermey and Bumble? WTH?

When I went to the post office yesterday to mail out the Christmas Crack, I even bought a book of holiday stamps, specifically to use on the cards I am no longer sending out. I’m including a photo here because, upon examination, I realized that what they’re calling “Rudolph” stamps has four different stamp designs. There’s one of Rudolph and one of Santa, but there are two more characters I’ve never heard of. Who the hell are Hermey and Bumble?  Maybe I will find this out if/when I ever have grandchildren, but I can tell you now that these names mean nothing to me and I will only use those stamps on bills I resent having to pay by mail next year. Actually writing out a CHECK. Archaic.

Since I pay 99% of my bills on line, I’m going to have those Christmas stamps for months. As unpredictable as I am about sending out Christmas cards, I LOVE birthday cards (the ones that make me snort and maybe pee my pants a little bit from laughing so hard). Consequently, don’t be surprised when you get your birthday card in May or July with Santa or Rudolph on the front.

So, Merry Christmas, you all. Belated Happy Hanukkah (will one of my Jewish friends please tell me the preferred spelling, by the way?). Joyous Kwanzaa. Happy Festivus. And may the Force be with you.

Christmas Crack and cards and caffeine crazy

It’s Sunday and having consumed an eight-cup pot of coffee, I am finally going to tackle a few holiday chores after I write this post and when the risk of tachycardia has passed. I could jump right into the chores, but one thing I’ve learned is that if I have even the vaguest urge to write, I’d better do that first. Never squander the inclination to write –  words of wisdom for my scribey friends.

So here’s what I need to do today:

First, I am making Christmas Crack and here is the recipe. Read it and drool:

Christmas Crack

  • A bunch of Club Crackers – you’ll need a sleeve of crackers plus a few more to fill one cookie sheet
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar – I bought light, but I don’t think it matters if you prefer the dark
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips – I like to use either milk or dark chocolate. I don’t even like to eat semisweet chocolate chips except in a cookie. Not dark, not milk – eh.
  • 1 cup of chopped, salted cashews – or however many you have left after eating half the bag watching a Netflix movie last night
  • Sprinkles – that’s what makes it Christmas crack as opposed to plain old crack

Preheat the oven to 350. Cover the bottom of a regular cookie sheet (with sides –  not one of those sheets open on two sides; yikes – what a mess) with a layer of crackers. Don’t leave any open spots. I am happy to say I finally figured out the way to fill the pan without breaking some crackers into weird shapes to fill corners. See photo illustrated below for brilliant cracker placement.

crackers in pan

Primo cracker placement

(I wanted to line the pan with parchment paper, but the paper kept getting bunched up and was sliding around, making it all but impossible to achieve cracker placement perfection. So I gave up and am resigned to dealing with crusted cookie sheet hell later on.)

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and throw in a dash of vanilla. Does anyone ever actually MEASURE vanilla? I don’t get the point of that. Anyway, bring it to a boil and continue to boil for a minute or two, then pour it over the crackers and spread it out evenly with a spatula. See beautifully boiling concoction below (and is that caramel I’m making?).

crack boilingNow, when you are ready to pour this stuff over the crackers, be prepared to work quickly and yet as gently as possible so you don’t have crackers jumping out of line, overlapping other crackers, and generally putting your careful cracker placement at risk. That will screw up the end game big time. On the other hand, that caramel-like stuff will start crystallizing and seizing up and will not be spreadable at all if you don’t hop to it. Timing, and gentleness, are everything, when it comes to making crack.

Stick the cookie sheet in the oven for five minutes, then bring it out to sit for another four or five minutes. It must need time to think about what it is about to become. I don’t know. (Oh, crap. I forgot to let the first batch rest and put the chocolate chips on right away.Turned out fine, though.)

Now, sprinkle those chocolate chips across the top, more or less evenly, then put the pan back in the oven for just one minute. Remove from the oven and spread the melted chips across the top (easier than that caramel stuff), then sprinkle on some of the chopped cashews (you could do peanuts if you want to save a little money, which I should do, because I realized I have at least 13 people on my list. Geez.). And don’t forget a nice smattering of colorful holiday sprinkles to make it festive.

After it cools a bit, put the pan into the fridge to harden up. Then cut, chop, or break that stuff out of the pan and give it away as fast as possible, or you will gain five pounds just looking at it. I can testify to that.

This is a slight variation on a recipe created by the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, for the Land O’Lakes butter blog. I want to assure you that I don’t actually follow the butter blog, tempting as that is, but that’s because I generally manage to find enough delicious, fattening foods to eat all by myself without the encouragement of naughty food blogs.

crack wrapped

Final product wrapped and ready to send to my new friend Gianetta Palmer who sent me a copy of her delightful book, “Reflections On a Middle-Aged Fat Woman.” Thanks, G!

And on to Christmas Chores Part Two

The other thing I promised myself that I would do today is write out Christmas cards. As always, I have a hodge podge of cards – partial boxes (five at last count) I’ve saved over the years combined with the new box I bought last week before I found the leftovers. Needless to say, there will be partial boxes available again for 2016. I am pretty sure that if I send anyone the same card two years in a row, they won’t notice. I know I wouldn’t. If you are sending me a card, feel free to pull mine from last year’s leftovers.

When I first started writing this blog several years ago I believe I wrote a post about Christmas letters. I’ve never been a fan, have you? Those little slices of life highlighting the previous year inevitably focused completely on Everything Wonderful that has happened to this fortunate crew. No mention of Junior getting nabbed by the cops for turfing the math teacher’s front yard or Mom crapping out on Weight Watchers – again. No, I am definitely not sorry to see those Happy-Family-We’re-Just-So-Damned-Perfect letters bite the dust.

We went to Venice and all you get is this lousy Christmas card.

We went to Venice and all you get is this lousy Christmas card.

However, since no one likes to write anything longer than 140 characters, anyway, the Christmas card-as-Instagram statement is the new trend. No need to actually list all the reasons why life in the XYZ household rocks when all you have to do is SHOW it with a photo of everyone smiling and waving from the gondola during the family’s fabulous vacation touring Italy last summer. Buon Natale, y’all!

And we went to France - suckahs!

And we went to France – suckahs!

For a real slice of life, I’d like someone to come over and take a picture of me with The Boys in the back yard. As the pups cavort in the weeds behind me, I’ll be wielding the pooper scooper in one hand and waving merrily at the camera with the other. And my card will actually say “Happy Holidays,” which I hope you will interpret, with a smile, as saying that I believe your holiday is just as important and cool as my holiday.

Now go make yourself some Crack!

A Christmas political miracle

Bleary-eyed, I scraped some of the burnt crumbs off my toast this morning, then slapped on a dab of peanut butter and, lo and behold . . . a Christmas Miracle!

Is it the Virgin Mary? Jesus himself? Scraps of bread and gnarly root vegetables bearing holy images go for big bucks on eBay, and who can’t use some extra cash around the holidays?

No. It was none other than Donald Trump, and the message was clear . . . .

Trump toastTrump is toast. Merry Christmas.

Thank God no one writes Holiday Letters anymore and Happy New Year!

So, did you receive a record number of personalized Christmas cards this year? I’m referring to the ones featuring photos of toddlers meeting Goofy at Disney World, dogs sporting headbands with antlers, or maybe newlyweds pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Yeah? Me, too.

If it sounds like I’m going to poke fun at the assortment of clever templates provided by online businesses like Shutterfly and Smilebox – I’m not. It’s kind of fun to see pictures of people you don’t see every day and I’m not opposed to the occasional vacation or wedding shot. It beats yet another tasteful watercolor of cardinals in the snow or a cartoon of Santa surfing with his elves sent from old friends who like to gloat about being smart enough to move to warmer climates (yeah, tell me how much you like West Palm in August, buddy).

The thing I really like about the trend toward personalized photo cards, though, is that they seem to have replaced the dreaded Holiday Letter.

Ah, yes. The Holiday Letter.

I never wrote a Holiday Letter because the only people who created those precious missives were those who wanted to share the highlights of an apparently stellar year in their perfect lives. Think back and tell me, if you can, of one Holiday Letter you received from a divorced single mother. Anybody? How about from someone poor? Dealing with a life-threatening disease? Anybody?

The thing is, even people who wrote and sent out their OWN Holiday Letter still liked to make fun of other people’s letters. A typical letter might go something like this . . .

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, it’s been another great year for all of us here in Sterling Silver Heights!

In January, our little Laura came in first in her age group in Ice Dancing and has been recruited to train for the Winter Olympics. Though we wrestled with letting her change kindergartens in the middle of the year, we would never stand in the way of her Olympic dreams. We miss her but know she’s in good hands with her Czechoslovakian coach and his family in Brno.

Oscar became the first seven-year-old Eagle Scout in March having completed the design and construction of a park for blind children, single-handedly, while maintaining his straight A average at the French language elementary school he elected to transfer to in the fall. We’re so proud!

Of course, Jim continues to love his job and was promoted to Senior Executive Vice President and Czar of Creative Finances in June. Despite the demands of his job, he coaches Oscar’s fencing team, is a deacon in our church and manages to play a scratch game of golf most weekends. (And he still has the abs of a teenager – I am one lucky girl!)

I am thrilled to tell you that I finished my second novel this year and will hit the road for my book tour after the holidays (come say hello when I’m signing at your local book store!). Though I was flattered to be asked to compete for the Mrs. America title, I regretfully declined. My family comes first, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day as it is to write, volunteer at the Rape Crisis Center, teach Pilates at the Y, be a room mother for Oscar’s class, deliver Meals on Wheels, tutor Salvadorans, keep the house spotless and cook gourmet vegan dinners for the family.

So that’s our year in a nutshell! We hope everything’s super in your neck of the woods!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

The Schneeball Family

My Chris - Christmas 1982. So cute, right?

My Chris – Christmas 1982. So cute, right?

Man. I used to get letters like that all the time. And they made me feel so inadequate! I was thinking today, if I had written a Holiday Letter in, say, 1995, it might have read something like this:

Dear Family and Friends,

Another year is drawing to a close and it seems a good time to reflect on some of the special times we’ll remember in years to come.

Chris made his first visit to the police station this year after “orbing” a classmate’s home in Mayfield Heights. For the uninitiated, orbing is when kids sneak out at night to steal those reflectors on sticks at the ends of peoples’ driveways. When they have a whole bunch, they arrange them in someone’s front yard and run to hide until a car drives by, illuminating the reflectors, creating a startling flashing red light effect that draws the homeowners to their front windows in dismay.

Unfortunately, Chris and his friends did not know that a local policeman lived across the street from the chosen house. The boys were apprehended, giggling in the bushes, and taken to the police station and made to wait there until their parents retrieved them. Those scamps!

I continued to work about 50 hours a week at my job and, yes, was vigilant in my search for Mr. Right. We managed to finagle enough invitations for sleepovers for Chris to allow me to troll the nicer bars in Beachwood and Chagrin Falls for likely candidates, but no luck yet. (Shout out to Tina for being the DD!) Had some satisfying sexual encounters, but no true love, alas.

Let’s see. Chris broke his leg playing freshman football (flirted with the orthopedic surgeon, but no dice). He also started faking migraines so he could skip school (the neurologist was married). And we got a dog.

So, here’s to a better 1996 and keep me in mind if you run into any cute single dads!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

From Our Little Dysfunctional Family to Yours

Whew! Well, I’m happy to report that as we begin 2015 my darling Chris is working on his PhD and making his mama proud. I’m still single, but no longer looking and grateful I’m only divorced from one husband instead of two or more. Life is good!

Happy New Year (for real!) to you from me and the boys – Mick Jagger the rock star longhaired dachshund and Little Richard, the nervous terrier.

All I want for Christmas

When you reach a certain age, Christmas just isn’t about the gifts anymore. Yes, I know that theoretically it should NEVER be just about the gifts, but even as a good church-and-catechism-going young’un – it really was pretty much all about the gifts.

Now there is nothing that anyone could realistically give me that is in any way necessary or, as in my youth, desperately desired. Dare I say coveted? Sounds too biblical.

So what I want for Christmas this year is a new gadget that’s currently under development somewhere in the Scandinavian countries. It’s a device that reportedly translates your dog’s thoughts into English. Why not Danish or Norwegian or Swedish, you may ask? Well, obviously, this is because the inventors believe that only wacky, rich Americans would buy this device.

This dog is wondering who the hell wrapped this wired thing around his head.

This dog is wondering who the hell wrapped this wired thing around his head.

You bet! Sign me up! (Oh, wait. Might be wacky – but not so rich.)

Read all about it HERE. I hope that link works. If not, don’t bother letting me know because I’m not going to go back and screw around trying to put in the hyperlink thing again. Google it for yourself.

Anyhoo – I would most definitely like to know what the boys are thinking. Right now they are curled up in the easy chair next to my desk and popped their heads up expectantly when I glanced their way.

We love you, but we think you're lazy. Change out of that robe and take us for a walk. Now.

We love you, but we think you’re lazy. Change out of that robe and take us for a walk. Now.

“Walk?” they queried.

“Not now,” I mentally responded.

Maybe I don’t need that device after all.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and thanks for reading! XOXOXO