Archive for the ‘gifts’ Tag

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

DSC_0006

‘Before’

DSC_0077

‘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.

DSC_0076

‘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?

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

th4BN8XVHP
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.

thUFXAJH6L
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.

thBSR1LF52
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

11-26-2015 Journal – The Madness Begins!   Leave a comment

It’s Thanksgiving morning here in Maine.  No snow, no sleet, no high winds, and fifty degree sunny weather. What’s wrong with this picture? I wait all year for this holiday when I can put on a heavy coat, take a walk in the cold fresh air, eat a great meal, and relax the day away.  Warm weather? What the hell?

Yesterday was the big day for us. My better-half finally was finally bitten on the butt by the Christmas bug and all of the cherished peace and quiet in this house is over for the foreseeable future.

I was given my marching orders early which required me to make a visit to my least favorite place . . . the attic.  A spooky, dirty, and buggy place filled with boxes of holiday crap stacked everywhere. Pick any holiday of the year and I can find a few boxes of decorations to dig through for that day. Christmas is the worst because the better-half seems to have saved every Christmas decoration going back to her birth. As you can see our family room looks like Santa’s sleigh had some maintenance issues and crashed and exploded right here.

DSCN0273
Wrapping papers, boxes of lights, then more lights, then tinsel, then more tinsel, then tree ornaments, and then more tree ornaments. I’m hip deep in the stuff and there’s still more boxes left in the attic. God help me!

DSCN0264

My main chore each year is to unpack the tree, find all the pieces (it’s not a real one), drag everything into the living room and put it all together. It’ll be much easier this year since we purchased a new tree at the end of last year’s holiday season. The previous artificial tree was seven feet tall and almost five feet wide and huge pain to assemble. It consisted of at least forty different limbs and parts and took quite a while to construct as well as shedding about a pound of plastic pine needles every time it was touched. This new one went up with a snap in five minutes and then it only needed a little TLC and tweaking to make it really nice.

DSCN0277

Hopefully by the end of today the tree will be up and decorated, the furniture rearranged or moved into other rooms, and the Christmas tunes will be firmly imbedded in my skull for the next month. After Country & Western music I hate Christmas music the most.  Unfortunately once those damn songs get stuck in my head I’ll be humming them until the middle of January.

DSCN0270

‘Step One’

DSCN0275

‘Step Two’

DSCN0276

‘Done’

This is one of the good things that happened today. My better-half has a tradition of supplying freshly baked cinnamon buns soaked in sugar icing the morning of each holiday.  I watched her prepare the buns, letting them cool, then pouring that glorious sugar sweetness all over them. I  hijacked a couple, scurried off to another room and quickly wolfed them down.  That’s my payment for today’s Christmas chores and like it or not I’ll probably eat a couple of more tomorrow.  I can at least give thanks for them.

So it begins . . .

11-16-2015 Journal– X-mas Insanity Begins!   Leave a comment

thEFLKOGSQ

This post will probably be confusing for some of you because there isn’t any rhyme or reason behind what I’ll be writing.  I’ve been very busy of late with a lot of little stuff that needs to be handled before the holidays officially arrive. Just keep your hands and feet inside the car, this ride may get a little bumpy.

My life has changed dramatically in the last month due to my elimination of  live cable television.  I’m happy to announce that I haven’t watched more than ten minutes of commercials, ads, or television shopping channels for over a month.  It took me a few weeks to get the hang of streaming and I’ve been able to locate and avoid those few channels that still insist on running commercials. It’s truly a game changer.  I have more freedom to watch what I please when I please and no scheduling of my time in order to watch a specific program.  No more waiting for commercial breaks to make  bathroom runs, I just hit the pause and Ta Da.  I also like watching what once was an hour long show in 43 minutes, minus all those damn commercials.  Life has gotten seriously better.

The better-half’s birthday has come and gone and was a great success. She loved her gifts, the wine, and that big, fat, medium rare T-bone steak. I tried to be as romantic as possible and I think I pulled it off rather well.  Here’s my lame attempt at a table setting on our crazy retro dining room set.

DSC_0015

I’d like to officially thank the cow that made the ultimate sacrifice for our meal. Tender and soft as marshmallows washed down with a semi-sweet Merlot.  Yummmmm!

I’ve been diligently working towards having all things Christmas, purchased, wrapped, and hidden away by Thanksgiving.  That will free up my time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to be the better-half’s decorating slave. First the tree, then the lights, then tinsel, then motorized talking and singing toys scattered throughout the house.  I can only pray that my first gift will be a noise-cancelling headset. 

th1I616VSU

Here’s some bad news. Last night I was strong-armed into watching the first Christmas movie of the season.  That’s right, a Christmas movie on November 15.  Please just shoot me now.

Three days ago I was dragged kicking and screaming to the Mall. It was a typical mall trip which bored the hell out of me. I ended up sitting in the middle of the mall surrounded by herds of screaming kids being chased by their parents. Thank God for my Kindle.  The best part of my visit consisted of my standing near a small kiosk and allowing a really hot young lady to place heat packs on my neck. I let her go on and on with her sales pitch and finally walked away without making a purchase. My neck felt a lot better and so did my morale. thBVIZQLLU

I have a few more gifts to wrap today and I think I’m  be totally finished with Christmas preparations.  With that goal being met I think I’ll then deserve a tall, cold, and refreshing Gin and Tonic later this afternoon. 

I hope your holiday craziness isn’t too overwhelming.  Before you know it 2016 will be here and we can start preparing for next Christmas. Are we all insane or is it just me?

11-14-15 Journal – Pre-Christmas Blues!   Leave a comment

thBKHUL530

I’m already on my third cup of coffee this morning and that good old caffeine buzz I’ve come to rely on has yet to rev my engines.  I have a lot of errands to run today and need some serious motivation to get them all completed.  The blessing is that my better-half is working which will keep her out of my hair (what little I have left) to prepare for her birthday dinner tonight.  It’s difficult to get anything secret done around here and over the years she’s forced me to become even sneakier  than usual.

She loves being surprised and each year that goes by it get tougher and tougher to come up with fresh ideas.  I’ve purchased her a few gifts which I’m sure she’ll like because I am “The Man” when it comes to giving great gifts.  As much as she likes being surprised I like doing the surprising.  I can’t go into too many details because she reads this blog looking for clues.  I’ve learned to be very careful in keeping important information as secret as possible.

th36Z70JTH

She’s been feeling a little depressed coming into the holidays since it’s the first ones since the passing of her Mom.  She’s usually a Christmas fanatic going totally bonkers with decorations and general X-mas silliness. She needs something to get her into the holiday spirit and I’m hoping we’ll  have our first snowfall soon. That’s always been a kick-start for me and I think it will be for her as well.  She’s also a shopping machine and quite possibly a few hours out in the crowds on Black Friday will help too.

I understand how she feels because I went through the loss of both my parents in the last eight years.  My mother was a Christmas lunatic too and it’s still difficult to have Christmas and not think of her and my dad and Christmases past.

th2JXKA4RO

The saving grace this year will be the grandsons.  Christmas has always been for the children and once the tree gets decorated and the kids come to visit, chattering on and on about Santa and reindeer, she’ll be just fine.  They own her completely and a few smiles from them will make all the difference in the world. Then she’ll go crazy the last week before Christmas trying to make up for lost time which is what I’m hoping for.

Truthfully I’ve been a real Grinch for many years about Christmas but having the boys in our life is changing all that. I hope we both can find the holiday spirit once again.  I’d love to have that feeling on Christmas morning like I did when I was eight years old.

It can’t get much better than that.

10-03-2015 Journal–A Really Early Holiday Message!   Leave a comment

th07F65BPZ

‘This is written with my tongue lodged firmly in my cheek.’

Where did our Summer go?  It seems like just a short time ago we were complaining about the heat and humidity and WHAM, all of a sudden we’re rolling into October and looking down the tunnel at that proverbial bright light approaching at seventy miles an hour. That light is the damn holiday season quietly sneaking up on us. It’s October for God’s sake. Doesn’t anyone care that it just too damn early to be worrying about the holidays.  Stop the madness people. 

I was in Lowe’s yesterday visiting my better-half who was tied up with a number of other employees doing their Christmas reset. Just shoot me now, please. What the hell are they thinking.

th3C66X0A6

These retailers claim they start their seasonal BS  early because of the huge demand for their holiday products.  Honestly, when was the last time you ever heard anyone . . . that’s ANYONE say they were happy about seeing the Christmas season starting in early October.  Never!!  The truth of the matter is that the demand is created by the retailers themselves who lower their prices just enough to entice customers to the store.  They can be so disingenuous at times it makes me crazy. It just goes to show you how stupid they think we the shopping public are.  And sadly they’re right!

I refuse to be manipulated anymore.  No early holiday nonsense for me, no Black Friday idiocy, and no paying attention to the thousands of emails that will be clogging my mailbox over the next ten weeks.  I’m done with it. 

th63FDM7YT

I plan on spending exactly fifteen minutes on Christmas shopping this year  and thank God for Amazon. A five minute walk-in at Toys R Us for two gift cards, a five minute walk-in at Home Depot for one gift card, and finally five minutes to order seven additional gift cards from Amazon. That leaves just a few gifts I need to purchase for my better-half which will be ordered on-line as well and shipped directly to our house.

Stick those gift cards in an envelope with a Christmas card and a short note and you’re DONE.  No more stress, no more purchases of gifts that no one really wants or appreciates. Get your gift cards in the mail, buy what you want, and leave  me alone.  I never intend to spend more than an hour on Christmas preparations ever again. 

thZYB230LY

I’m only asking Santa Clause for Amazon or Kindle gift cards this year since I’ve been very, very good. I’ve spent too many years getting clothing I hate and would never dare to wear, smiling and lying about how much I liked that fruit cake I received, and all of the required traveling around the countryside in terrible weather to visit people. I’m sorry folks, it’s nothing personal, but in my opinion if you’ve seen one Christmas tree you’ve seen them.  So here is my collective seasons greetings for most of you in case I forget later.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

HAPPY HANUKKAH

HAPPY STUPID KWANSA

HAPPY SEINFELD FESTIVAS

MERRY CHRISTMAS

HAPPY NEW YEAR

thFDZM7F26

I’m exhausted already from just listing all of this foolishness.  I wish I could just go find a cave and hibernate until February 15.  It would make for one of the best holiday seasons ever if I could.

BAH HUMBUG

12-27-2014 Journal – Bye Bye Christmas!   Leave a comment

Finally Christmas has come and gone.  For me it was the longest Christmas season of my life.  The retailers started their season well before Halloween and it increased in intensity every week.  It wasn’t all that bad but it truly was annoying at times.

The house is quiet for the first time in a week and while I had a great week it was also exhausting.  The visitors and family have returned to their homes safely and for that I’m grateful.  I ate too damn much, drank a little more than I should have, and helped spoil the hell out of our grandson.  It was all good until I climbed back onto my treadmill yesterday.  I thought I was gonna die.

DSC_0009

Christmas Day was insane as you can see from the pictures.  The grandson was sitting in the middle of the debris and I just thought I’d tell you that my cat is also in there somewhere.

DSC_0004
“Stuffing”

My bird turned out great and so did the better-half’s special family stuffing recipe. The day after we all had cold turkey sandwiches that we’re almost as good as eating it fresh from the oven.  I see a huge turkey pot pie in my future and after that the remains of that poor bird will make an excellent soup.  If I could figure a way to eat the bones I would.  I’m a true carnivore.  Here’s the before and after photos of that delicious bird.

DSC_0002B

“Before”

DSC_0022B

“After”

I suppose we’ll be keeping the decorations up until New Years has but there’s more going on there than even you can imagine.  A few days ago my step- daughter made a comment that she knew me and was sure that the Christmas tree would be down and packed away before 2015.  After some discussion my better-half and I decided to do something totally off the wall  and outside the box. It looks as if we’re going to keep the tree up for all of 2015. Each month it will be decorated for any holidays that fall during that month.  Next up will be the Valentines Tree but before that the Superbowl Tree will be killer. 

Each months pictures will be posted of the tree and copies forwarded to the all knowing step-daughter as well. I’ve accepted her challenge and it should be a hoot.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

10-09-2014 (Sarcasm On) Merry Christmas!   Leave a comment

thTG6WSMMH

We’ve reached mid-October and I’m starting to see indications of that holiday freight train that is rumbling full speed towards us. I was tasked with an errand last night that required me to pickup my better-half who was attending a wedding of a co-worked in a town north of here.  Darkness had fallen and our trip home took us through a number of neighborhoods and small towns. We were within a quarter mile of home when I spotted something that sent a cold shiver down my spine . . .  a lighted Christmas tree in front of a neighbor’s home. These neighbors are the newest members of our little community and are folks who love to celebrate each and every holiday with decorations of all sorts hanging from trees, shrubs, and anything else that doesn’t move too much.  It can be cute but also it’s also more than a little annoying just like that tree was last night.

thZBDD30QZ

During some of my shopping  forays in recent weeks I’ve observed the expected Halloween and Thanksgiving craziness but Christmas rearing it’s ugly head this early in October is ridiculous. Having worked for many rears for retail companies I understand the management mentality in getting the jump on competitors.  It just seems they’ve all picked up some of the more bothersome bad habits of the king of all retailers, Walmart.  They seem to think that anything that Walmart does automatically become the final word in making money.  Having spent six months in a Walmart management training program allows me to proclaim that Walmart is just as screwed up as any other company.  Their saving grace secret is their size.  When you’re as big as Walmart it’s much easier to  hide your screw ups and bad decisions.

thB476UCX9

I have a sneaking suspicion that Sam Walton is probably spinning in his grave after watching what has gone on with his company.  On my first day at Sam’s Club I was handed a paperback book on the life and times of their founder Sam Walton.  I was ordered to read that book immediately and was questioned heavily on it’s contents throughout the training period.  Almost all of the training tapes that were in use were tapes made by Walton himself who at the time had been dead for more than ten years.  I was being trained by a dead guy in Walmart’s lame attempt to brainwash me into their world of retail. Just before my graduation from that training program I was on my way to work and wishing I wasn’t. Ten minutes after I arrived I walked into the General Manger’s office and resigned. I walked away and never looked back. They only succeeded in making me unhappy, miserable, and just a little crazy. I’ve never regretted my decision.

th8OB19BEO

This isn’t a rant just about Walmart but a general disappointment with the cynical approach taken by almost every retailer. I think we can thank Wall Street and the Harvard Business School for a lot of these issues. The stock market virtually requires companies to meet expectations regardless of the methods used.  The Harvard MBA’s that I’ve been involved with over the years were all young bean-counters of the worst sort.  They’d gut a company, fire any number of employees, cut benefits, just about anything to help meet those Wall Street projections.  People are just numbers to them and are treated accordingly.  Is it any wonder things are the way they are.

So after saying all of that I hope you’re prepared for the avalanche of Christmas nonsense headed your way.  Ten glorious weeks of Santa Clause, presents, endless TV commercials, and a hit to your wallet that will be larger than ever before.  Oh yeah, I recently heard a nasty rumor that once upon a time Christmas had something to do with religion.  How stupid am I?

12-28-2013-PTCS (Post Traumatic Christmas Syndrome)   Leave a comment

I’m about to make you aware of a newly discovered ailment causing much suffering  to the human race.  It’s a lifelong ailment that flares up on the average of once a year to disorient and dismay a large segment of the population.  It’s like herpes with a smile. It’s called by those aware of it’s existence, PTCS, or Post Traumatic Christmas Syndrome.  It begins in November with a certain uneasiness as you see your home begin to fill with boxes of purchases, Christmas cards, and other green and red paraphernalia. After a week your breathing becomes labored as you see the first credit card balances arriving with lists of things you don’t remember buying.  The stress level continues to climb as odd foods show up and containers of candy and fruit cakes magically appear.

This syndrome peaks in December just as your on the verge of total collapse.  All of a sudden things begin to disappear and within days your life is as it once was.  It’s like being in a time warp with four or five lost weeks that you’d rather just forget.  It will take months for you to recuperate and to refill your bank accounts.  Also months of exercise and dieting to lose that ten pounds of body fat that appeared out of nowhere.

It also effects your mind making you happy to have suffered through this terrible time and you can’t wait for the next outbreak.  Unfortunately it’s very contagious and targets the youngest of us almost immediately.  It appears to be an airborne virus spread by physical contact and made even worse  by groups of people who insist on singing together.

It’s insidious!  The children just don’t have a prayer of being spared this affliction that could haunt them for decades.  For hundreds of years certain people have searched for a cure but to no avail. A certain doctor from somewhere in Europe, Dr. I. M. Grinchakowski died a horrible death some years ago when his immunization program went horribly awry and he died from an overdose of frankincense and myrrh.  It was a sad day but the search continues for a cure.

I’m only just beginning to feel the change that’s’ coming.  It was a terrible few months where I was stressed, over fed, and I found myself smiling way too much.  I should be back on my feet by New Years but these strange effects of PTCS could linger for months.

I think we should all hire attorneys and have PTCS declared a disability.  We could limit the government stipend to a once a year payment from Social Security that we’d receive early in December.

Vote Democratic!

2-20-2013 Holiday Gifts That Suck!   Leave a comment

Are you really a Christmas person or do you just go through the motions like so many people do. Over the years I’ve developed into a pretty decent gift giver. I do the necessary research and when I give a gift it means something to me and to the person I’m gifting. That being said I’ve received some of the worst gifts ever on Christmas from people who claimed to be my friends. I hate being phony and it’s really difficult to look sincere with a ‘Thank You’ when I receive a gift that is horrible, stupid, or totally useless. I might pull a few facial muscles just trying to keep a stupid smile on my face.

I decided today I’d put together a list of some of the things that I’ve received over the years that I absolutely hated. Anyone reading this who is responsible for sending me these gifts, you suck. I wasn’t able to tell you that at the time because I was being polite but “you suck”. I wish I had the ability to regift all of those crappy items you folks spent so little time giving a thought to. Tell me how much you would love receiving  one of these precious and  thoughtless gifts.

* * *

Ugly Christmas Sweaters – I received two of these over the years. One was made by my mother and the second was made by a friend of the family. Honestly, I never wore either except for the five minutes after I opened the package and had no choice.  Their final destination is unknown.  I think Goodwill received them years ago.

Cheap Perfume – This is usually a gift I would consider for those young ladies with whom my relationship was on the wane. No more than a quart size bottle and pay no more than a $1.99. I searched for the worst smelling stuff I could find, wrapped it up real pretty and threw it under the tree and quietly walked away. This stuff smells to high heaven and clings on clothing like Super Glue. Nothing says we’re through like that good old funeral home fragrance.

Scratchers – Lottery scratchers are probably the most uncaring gift you could give anyone. While buying a cup of coffee you throw couple of scratches in the bag. Give them to the first chump who needs to be given a gift but that you don’t give a damn about. I refuse to give them as gift’s because nothing would piss me off more than to have some schmo I don’t care all that  much about win money.

Hip Hop CD’s – I would really only give these as gifts if I could find  a few in a bargain bin somewhere that didn’t cost me more than a dollar apiece.

Any Richard Simmons Workout DVD – This I would give as gifts to all of the fat asses I know who refuse to exercise or to eat properly or do anything healthy. Unfortunately knowing my friends and family the way I do I’d get this regifted almost immediately.

Positive Pregnancy Test – I’ve never received one of these in my life but I certainly worried about receiving a few.

Chia Pet – I’ve received these and given them as gifts in the past. It became something of a tradition with my son when  as very young kid he told me he thought they were cool. For 6 years he received a different Chia Pet and I loved every second of the expressions on his face when he opened those packages.

Ugly Holiday Ties – this was always my son’s response to all the Chia pets. He made me pay.

Snuggie – You really have to dislike a person to give this as a gift. It’s the worst and dumbest thing ever thought up and I can name at least five people I’d immediately give one to. Not much else to say.

* * *

FOUR SHOPPING DAYS LEFT