Archive for December 2015

12-30-2015 Journal–Winter is Finally Here!   Leave a comment

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I was just getting readjusted to my so-called normal life after the Christmas insanity ended and was really hoping for some quiet downtime. Oh how stupid I must be.  It just never seems to work out the way I plan.  All of the unseasonably warm weather abruptly ended yesterday with a beautiful yet annoying snow storm.

Yesterday was spent getting up close and personal with my snowblower once again. The final snow amounts have yet to be determined since it’s still snowing but my better-half shoveled at least five inches off the deck last night so the total will be a bit more than that.

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Today will be spent looking out the window while our last holiday visitor tries to make travel arrangements to get out of here. It appears he’ll be taking a short bus ride to Boston, staying there for a day, and then a flight back to Los Angeles.  I have a feeling he’ll be really happy about getting back to the surf and sun of California.

We’re planning on a reasonably quiet night for our New Years celebration with Chinese takeout and hopefully a movie or two.  I’m sure my better-half is already having day dreams of watching all of the vacuous celebrities strutting their stuff in New York.  Watching the ball drop with her is for me is much like getting a root canal without anesthesia. I’m hoping she’ll come to her senses but I’ve been hoping for that for years and I’m still waiting.

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So I’ll just sit around today waiting for the snow to get deep enough to require me to fire up the snowblower. I suppose the remainder of the day can be spent reading, painting, or possibly even napping. Since the house is still filled with every kind of cake, cookie, and candy you can possibly think of, I need to stay busy and away from all the junk food.

Enjoy your New Year’s  celebration but be smart about it.  Don’t drink and drive.  Find a boring sober friend and give him your keys.

HAPPY 2016

P.S.  Good news! We made it through the first snow storm without the snowplow operators destroying our mailbox.  Maybe that’s a sign from God or just dumb luck.

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12-28-2015 Journal–New Year’s Resolutions!   3 comments

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Thank God the Christmas season is finally behind us for another year. As much as I enjoy it while it lasts,  when it’s over it’s over. Let’s’ move right along to the next all consuming holiday, New Years. It’s during this in-between time every year that I usually do a final review of my New Year’s resolutions and introduce my list for 2016. With that in mind here is a quick recap of 2015.

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2015

1.  I vow to exercise for forty-one minutes every other day for the entire year. COMPLETED – I’m now up to 46 minutes.

2.  I vow to call President Obama nasty names only during months with an "R" in them. COMPLETED, This one was easy.

3.  I further vow to never say anything good about President Obama in months without an "R". COMPLETED: This one was even easier.

CAUSTIC COMMENT – Goodbye OBAMA, your fifteen minutes is almost over.

4.  I vow to never blurt out any F-Bombs in front of the grandson now that he’s started repeating damn near everything. COMPLETED

5.  I vow to say many more F-Bombs around those people (except the grandsons) who irritate, annoy or piss me off. COMPLETED, and still going strong.

6.  I vow to stop flirting with just anyone.  There are times when I feel like such a slut and that’s not good for my self esteem.  INCOMPLETE, It’s really difficult to break this semi-bad habit but my hearts not really into trying.

7.  For the third year in a row I vow not to prance naked anywhere near the front picture window.  It creeps out the neighbors and one or two of our regular joggers.  COMPLETE, Due entirely to my better-half’s purchase of a new window treatment.

8.  I also vow not to screw with my cat as much this year due to his advanced age and sharp claws. INCOMPLETE, I have a few new scars but he really deserves being messed with whenever possible.

9.  I vow to take at least 500 really good photographs a month. INCOMPLETE, I’m just not getting it done.

10. Read 2 books a week for a year. COMPLETE, 104 AS OF 12/29/2015.

Now for my resolutions for 2016. I’ve been giving these a lot of thought because I feel the need to shake things up a little. Here goes.

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2016

1.  With the help of my better-half, complete the family recipe book. We’ve procrastinated long enough.

2.  Complete my blog book for 2015.

3.  Between August 8th and New Years, complete at least one more tandem skydive.

4.  Buy a dog.

5.  Keep my foul language to an absolute minimum around the grand kids. I know at some point they’ll both learn all those nasty words but let it be from someone other than me.

6.  Set aside at least two days a month for some quality time with my camera along the Maine coast or in the woods.

7.  Try as hard as I can to give a damn about politics. You should know this  resolution has absolutely no chance of ever being accomplished.

8.  Try to be a little more confrontational and assertive with ignorant people who insist on annoying me.  No more Mr. Nice Guy.

9.  Stop eating potato chips.

10. Set time aside to get back into sketching and painting.  I’ve gotten away from it for a few years and it’s time to return.

There you have it.  I completed seventy percent of my resolutions for 2015 and I’m really proud of myself but I’m also reasonably sure the list for this year will be a lot more difficult. 

I can only keep on keeping on.

2-26-2015 Journal – Goodbye X-mas!   Leave a comment

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‘Before’

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‘After’

I’m exhausted.  This morning I’m feeling exceptionally lazy and with little or no effort I could stay in bed all day. This is truly the downside to Christmas if there is one.

Yesterday’s celebration took a lot of thought and planning from both my better-half and me. It was worth every minute we spent preparing.  Everyone had a great time, received an abundance of gifts, and ate until they couldn’t eat on more thing. 

It all began with what I’m sure will become an ongoing Christmas tradition. Everyone received a goody bag and in the top of each bag was a can of Silly String.  It took just a few seconds for the adults to open the cans and let the strings fly. The grandkids weren’t familiar with Silly String and were pretty much covered with it before they could get their cans opened. It was the perfect way to set the tone for the day even though the cleanup took a little longer than we thought.

Two hours later the room was filled with torn tissue papers, ribbons, empty boxes, and a lot of laughter. As you can see Christmas is a messy proposition if done properly.

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‘I think there’s a kid under there somewhere.’

Then it was into the kitchen to complete the food preparations and to get that big fat bird ready to eat.  The meal went without a hitch and we all left the table fat, dumb, and extremely happy. As we vegged out in the living room it was time for viewing everyone’s favorite Christmas movie, A Christmas Vacation.  Since almost everyone in the family has the best lines memorized we could have turned off the sound . . . but we didn’t. Then began the continuous stream of funny and sarcastic comments about the movie which were endless.

I was one of the first to call it a day but my better-half wasn’t far behind. It was a great day for everyone concerned and I’m sure they all slept as soundly as we did.

I hope your holiday was as enjoyable as ours.  Now it’s on to New Years with all of it’s silliness. 

Hey! . . . someone! . . . where’s my coffee?

12-23-2015 Journal – Wings & Things Nite!   1 comment

With just three shopping days left the better-half and I decided we needed to get out of the house and have a good meal at one of our favorite spots.  She was jonesing for some smoking hot chicken wings and our first holiday visitor arrived as well and he needed to relax a little after his trip. There was only one place we could think of that fit the bill.

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We made our way to the Great Lost Bear, located in Portland Maine.  If you like good food, a giant selection of beer on tap, and a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere this is the place.  It’s a dark and cozy bar/restaurant with a really diverse group of customers.  Since I’m not much of a beer drinker a decided to try something new and interesting for my beverage selection.  I received a extra tall glass of Woodchuck Cherry Cider.  I know one thing for certain, I’ll be drinking a lot more of that stuff in the future. It was semi-sweet, fruity, with an alcohol content of approximately 5.4%.  It was awesome.

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‘How do you pick just one?’

We all arrived with huge appetites and proceeded to chow down.  I tried something new called the Barbecue Hot Mess.  It’s layered in a Mason jar with Mac & Cheese on the bottom, then baked beans, then pulled pork w/sauce, then cole slaw, and finally topped with a big fat jalapeno popper. I was lucky to get this picture because I could barely control myself. I made short work of the whole mess and it was just incredible.

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It was a miserable night weather-wise but the food and drink made up for it.  Just as we were leaving the bar the rain which had been pouring down for hours stopped.  The late shopping crowds appeared to out in great numbers regardless causing the traffic to be much heavier than normal. 

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For those of you who live in and around the many metro areas in this country that are constantly clogged with traffic you need to understand what I’m saying.  In Maine traffic congestion is considered to be a line of twenty cars during rush hour. Really heavy traffic requires a line of forty cars.  One of the biggest adjustments I had to make after moving to Maine was the lack of traffic. I came from Boston where I spent at least an hour a day sitting on Rt. 128. In Maine I’d have to travel fifteen miles to even find a small traffic jam.  Do I miss Massachusetts . . . that would be a big Hell No!

We still  have a few Christmas items left to wrap and more food preparations to complete for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners but really that’s just part of the fun. My better-half who claims to love being surprised is chomping at the bit to see her gifts but this pleasant torture is something that I look forward to every year. I drop lots of meaningless hints which mean absolutely nothing and it just drives her crazy.

1 SHOPPING DAY LEFT

12-22-2015 Journal–The X-mas Weirdness Continues!   1 comment

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‘Is this weird enough for you?’

Three days to go. Three more days of retail madness in a sea of questionable citizens. As I’ve stated a number of times recently this may be the weirdest Christmas I’ve ever had.  Overly warm weather, no snow, no sleet, no slush, no SNIRT (Snow + Dirt), and all of that having a strange effect on the population including me.

Observation #1 – As I drive around through the surrounding countryside all I’ve been seeing are snowmobiles and snow blowers parked in the grass along the roads with For Sale signs on them.  All of our more determined snow bunnies are now being forced to travel into the White Mountains in nearby New Hampshire if they want to frolic in the white stuff. We have none.

Observation #2 – One of the major priorities in Maine is preparation for Winter by purchasing sufficient amounts of heating oil, wood or other fuels well in advance of Christmas.  Heating oil costs over the last few years have fluctuated between $2.75 per gallon to $3.45 per gal.  It’s currently hovering just below the two dollar mark and dropping. Hooray for us and our bank accounts.  This kind of weirdness I can learn to love.  It’s one of the reasons I’m sitting here in my man-cave this morning waiting the arrival of an oil delivery truck.  When the price drops like this it’s time to fill up the tank.

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‘Ho, Ho, Ho, who wouldn’t go!’

Observation #3 – The warm weather has people here a bit confused and acting strangely. The better-half dragged me along on another one of her shopping forays to Walmart recently. We all know Walmart is known for some truly off-the-wall folks that can be seen there on any given day.  This week I saw at least ten people in shorts, T-shirts, and strutting their stuff in flip-flops. It was 35 degrees for God’s sake.

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‘Goats love going for a spin.’

Observation #4 – I’ve saved the best for last. I’ve been telling the world about Maine and Mainers for years and at times I gotten the feeling they think I might be exaggerating.  This blurb may just prove my point once and for all.

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‘They love feeling the wind in their hair.’

Yesterday morning I was looking out my picture window with a hot cup of coffee in my hand. I was watching the early morning traffic speeding by when I saw a truck approaching in the distance. It was one of those huge Suburban pickup trucks all clean and shiny. As it passed by I saw what I thought was a dog hanging out of the passenger side window like they love to do. As it got closer I started laughing to show my appreciation for Maine once again.  It wasn’t a dog at all but a big brown goat. Sitting right next to the driver and enjoying the ride.  Only two things could have improved that moment. The first would have been to have my camera ready and to have snapped that picture. The second would have been if that damn goat had been wearing a Santa hat.

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‘Nothing as romantic as a man and his goat.’ 

One Mainer + One Pickup Truck + One Happy Goat = One Weird Christmas

3 SHOPPING DAYS LEFT

12-20-2015 Journal–A 3 Year Old’s Christmas Perspective!   Leave a comment

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I’m not sure how everyone else was raised to celebrate Christmas but for me it entailed much more religion than anything else. My late Mother was Catholic through-and-through which translated into sending religious Christmas cards, attending midnight masses, and donating time to local organizations involved with decorating  town areas. Being a kid I was unceremoniously volunteered to help with almost everything she did whether I liked it or not.

As we age things things tend to change a little and my approach to Christmas certainly did.  I was never all that interested in the religious portion of Christmas but I went begrudgingly along just to please my Mom until I reached the ripe old age of 13. Then I became what some people called, difficult.  I must have been way ahead of my time if what I’ve learned this week is any indication.

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My three year old grandson came to visit this week and it was the first time he’d actually seen our decorated tree. We’d been very busy wrapping gifts and there were a pile of them under the tree. I was sitting on the floor next to him when he whispered to me "Are those our prizes?" I told him they were presents for everyone brought here a little early by a busy Santa. He gave me a long sideways glance while he thought about what I’d said. He must have decided Santa was still a real possibility so the conversation turned right back around to the gifts under the tree. I was again corrected by the little guy with "Grandpa those are prizes not presents" and “can we open one.” I told him they couldn’t be opened until Christmas but he insisted one of them had to be for him so we should open that one. Being chastised by a three year old takes some getting used to but I persevered and again refused his request.

My first thought was who put the word “prize” into his head. Neither my better-half nor I would do it and I’m certain his parents wouldn’t do it either. That leaves just the woman who runs the daycare center and I’m positive she wasn’t responsible.  Who’s left? Just that small herd of little people who have nothing better to do all day than to play, fight, wrestle, nap, and tell each other the facts of life as translated from what they’ve heard at home. Some where along the way someone slipped in the word "prizes" and it seems to have stuck.

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There was no mention of Jesus, his birthday, the Magi, church or religion. It’s taken less than two generations to wean the kids from religion at Christmas to a more secular and materialistic outlook. I suppose in another two years we’ll be calling Christmas "Prize Day".  If you’re a good little boy/girl you win a prize but if you’re a bad little girl/boy you’ll get one anyway. We wouldn’t want you to feel like a loser.

5 SHOPPING DAYS LEFT

12-18-2015. Journal – Have a Flu Infested Christmas!   Leave a comment

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I know it’s the Christmas season and I also know that requires us to be as cheerful and happy as possible. I hope you’ll appreciate this break in all the happiness to listen to one of my short Christmas rants.  Sit back and enjoy while I vent for a bit and try to get my blood pressure to drop back to normal levels.

For many years I made a point of skipping flu shots for one simple reason. Every time I got a flu shot, surprise, surprise, I immediately got the flu.  As soon as I mentioned that to any healthcare provider I was given the always handy excuse of "It’s really just a milder version of the flu so be glad about that." I found it difficult to to be too glad so I finally stopped taking the shots. Just as a point of fact, I still got the damn flu and it didn’t feel all that different from the so-called milder version. What does that tell you?  It tells me that it’d possible that someone’s been pumping a whole lot of sunshine up my skirt  and getting away with it for years.

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I realize that the politicians in this country think that all of us non-political mouth-breathers are morons and uneducated idiots. I should add the entire healthcare system thinks that way as well with all of it’s so-called experts speaking down to us at every opportunity. I may be a moron and an idiot but I’m still able to recognize a huge pile of BS when I see it, step in it, or smell it. Right now I’m doing all three.

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‘Can’t see Santa till you get that flu shot kiddies.’

We constantly hear talk that certain chemicals used to create flu shots and other vaccines may be one of the causes of the massive increase in children diagnosed with forms of autism. Since I’m an idiot and a moron I’m expected to go along with all of the experts when it comes to injecting vaccines into my body. I’m also expected to believe all of the rhetoric and propaganda that’s shoved down my throat for a few months each year.

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Over the years they’ve  just made it too damn easy to get  flu shots. We can go to drug stores, malls, Walmart, and community centers. Maybe next year they’ll include a few gas stations, car repair shops, 7/11’s, or even have drive-thru service on interstate highway rest stops. Those rest stops are known for quite a diverse cross-section of the population who also are in need of flu shots. 

I received my flu shot this year in September and guess what? I’ve been sick with a host of flu symptoms for two months that never seem to go away. This must prove just how right the experts are, right? Instead of a one week case of the flu I’m now able to suffer for a month or more with their damn weaker version which really makes for a wonderful Christmas. I can sneeze, wheeze, and contaminate my entire family.  This mouth breathing moron is slowly waking up. . . . no more effing flu shots for me.

HAVE A MERRY FLU INFESTED CHRISTMAS – 6 SHOPPING DAYS LEFT

12-16-2015 Journal – The Christmas Ho–Hums!   Leave a comment

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I think the arrival of Christmas Day may be just a bit anticlimactic this year. Maybe not for you (if you have kids) but for me I’m afraid it could be. I bought my first presents back in July of this year in my lame attempt to get as much of the preparation done as early as possible. I accomplished that easily enough but little did I know there’d be a huge downside to it as well.

So today is the sixteenth of December and in about an hour I’ll be mailing off four Christmas cards to my family members.  For all intents and purpose Christmas is already over for me, I’m just sitting around waiting for the day to get here. Then I can move on to the next holiday, then the next one after that, and on and on and on it goes. 

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‘And a merry little Christmas to you all.’

My attempt to do all of my shopping online this year was only 85% successful. Hopefully by next year I’ll have figured out a better way to do things. I purchased a number of gift cards this year from different business and will hand them out as needed but next year I’ll order them on line and have them mailed direct. Thank you ever so much Amazon. I can even get my regular gifts ordered online, have them gift wrapped, and sent on their way with a card. Easy peasy, right?

I know some of you out there will accuse me of having no real Christmas spirit. That I’m losing that personal touch by not elbowing my way through throngs of idiots to make my purchases.  I’ll be forced to miss out on parking problems, arrogant store employees, and the many fine citizens who insist on being a-holes or even worse. I’ll certainly miss all of those high pressure sales people who love getting in my face to annoy and irritate me as I stroll through the mall. How can I possibly choose not to smell the body odor of hundreds of overdressed and sweaty shoppers. If that doesn’t get you into the Christmas spirit nothing will.

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As you can plainly see, I’m bored out of my effing skull waiting for the day to finally arrive.  Am I excited? Yes! Will the day meet and exceed my expectations? I can only hope.  The only saving grace will be the grand children. A couple of excited smiles from them will make up for all the BS that seems to be more of a requirement these days than ever before.

EIGHT SHOPPING DAYS LEFT

And coming all too soon:

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12-14-2015 Journal–Christmas Musings!   Leave a comment

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Ten shopping days left till the big day arrives. Time always loves playing tricks on us and even more so at this time of the year.  If we’re doing something we really enjoy the time flies by quickly but if it’s something we dislike it seems to drag on forever. That for me is Christmas in a nut shell.  The more tasks that we’re required to complete to celebrate the holiday causes time to speed up in a big way when we don’t think we can finish them all. Then time slows to a dead crawl as we wait for the final day to arrive after the tasks have been completed.

This week for me is all of that and then some. Within a few days the first of the visitors will begin arriving and that’s exciting right up until the time they actually get here. They’re excited as well but that feeling wanes in just a day or so. Then they start missing their regular life and routines and each day that passes makes those feelings grow. That’s when time begins to play it’s tricks.  None of us want the gathering to end so it feels like time is flying but all of us wish it would end to some degree making time drag on a little. It’s a real conundrum.

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‘It can’t be Christmas without a skinny Elvis picture.’

Believe me I’m not complaining, it’s just one of those weird facts of life we must deal with and appreciate at the same time.  I’m wishing right now that time would speed up so the festivities can begin. As a family grows and it’s members pursue their individual lives these holidays become more special. In most cases all of the participants make some sort of sacrifice to gather like this. We all need to acknowledge that fact and truly try to appreciate each other’s efforts. 

I’m lying here in bed, it’s 5 am, and I’m already excited to get today started but this effing waiting is brutal. My tasks are completed but the better-half is racing around the house in a swirl of wrapping paper, ribbons, and rolls of tape.  It’s actually fun to watch her but I’d better not be enjoying myself too much or there’ll be hell to pay.

MERRY CHRISTMAS – 10 MORE DAYS

12-12-2015 Journal–Christmas Weirdness!   1 comment

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It’s easy to get on a lengthy sentimental journey of sorts during the Christmas season but with this posting I hope to avoid that.  Christmas and all of it’s incarnations worldwide are interesting and strange to say the least. Here are a host of weird and strange Christmas factoids you may not be aware of but are true nonetheless.

  • Japanese people traditionally eat at KFC for Christmas dinner, thanks to a successful marketing campaign 40 years ago. KFC is so popular that customers must place their Christmas orders 2 months in advance.
  • Paul McCartney earns $400,000 a year off his Christmas song, which is widely regarded as the worst song he ever recorded. 
  • Mistletoe kissing originated with fertility rites. The hanging sprig is a very ancient symbol of virility and therefore anybody standing beneath it is signaling that he or she is sexually available.
  • About half of Sweden’s population watches Donald Duck cartoons every Christmas Eve since 1960 .
  • Mormon missionaries can only call home twice a year: once on Mother’s Day and again on Christmas.

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Don’t you feel bad for poor old Paul McCartney. He reaped only $400,000.00 a year for a crappy song. Keep the lucky bastard in your Christmas prayers.  And KFC for Christmas in Japan? That’s as weird as it gets.

  • Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen is the only record to get the UK Christmas Singles Chart Number One twice, once in 1975 and again in 1991.
  • Engineers designing the Voyager Space mission planned it to avoid planetary encounters over Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • The US playing card company ‘Bicycle’ had manufactured a playing card in WW2. That, when the card was soaked, it would reveal an escape route for POWs. These cards were Christmas presents for all POWs in Germany. The Nazis were none the wiser.
  • The people of Oslo, Norway donate the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree every year in gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during WWII.
  • The Christmas Tree is a manufactured tradition. Victorian intellectuals  invented the tradition as part of a social movement to consciously reform Christmas away from its tradition of raucous drinking.

Hooray for Freddy Mercury and Queen. Their Christmas song just has to be better than McCartney’s.  The Victorians did us no favors so bring back  all that raucous drinking, please.

  • Christmas as a "day off" is a recent innovation. As late as 1850, December 25 was not a legal holiday in New England.
  • The Beatles hold the record for most Xmas number 1 singles, topping the charts in 1963, 65 and 67.
  • The highest-grossing holiday movie is 2000’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which has raked in $175m so far.
  • Hanging stockings comes from the Dutch custom of leaving shoes packed with food for St Nicholas’s donkeys. He would leave small gifts in return.
  • There is no reference to angels singing anywhere in the Bible.

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No angels singing in the Bible. Isn’t that just a giant kick in the ass? Personally I don’t think there was much singing at all in the Bible. People were too busy begatting and killing to have time for singing.

  • Jesus was probably born in a cave and not a wooden stable, say Biblical scholars.
  • In 1999, residents of the state of Maine in America built the world’s biggest ever snowman. He stood at 113ft tall.
  • The holly in a wreath symbolizes Christ’s crown of thorns while the red berries are drops of his blood.
  • Jingle Bells was the first song broadcast from space when Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang it on December 16, 1965.
  • Astronomers believe the Star Of Bethlehem, which guided the wise men to Jesus, may have been a comet or the planet Uranus.

I’m glad to see the state of Maine making the list. Although how proud can you be about a giant snowman. Snow is about all we have to offer except for a few billion pine trees.

  • Santa Claus has different names around the world – Kriss Kringle in Germany, Le Befana in Italy, Pere Noel in France and Deushka Moroz (Grandfather Frost) in Russia.
  • In Britain, the best-selling holiday song is Band Aid’s 1984 track, Do They Know It’s Christmas?, which sold 3.5 million copies. Wham! is next in the same year with Last Christmas, selling 1.4 million.
  • US scientists calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world’s presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.
  • Despite the tale of three wise men paying homage to baby Jesus, the Bible never gives a number. Matthew’s Gospel refers to merely "wise men".
  • There are 13 Santa’s in Iceland, each leaving a gift for children. They come down from the mountain one by one, starting on December 12 and have names like Spoon Licker, Door Sniffer and Meat Hook.

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Another misquote from the Bible. Are you shocked? Not me.  And thanks to all of those scientists for taking the time out of their busy work day to compute those figures.  Get a life guys.

TWELVE SHOPPING DAYS LEFT