Note: below is the Christmas newsletter I sent to family and friends this year. Yes, this newsletter broke the rule about keeping it all on one page. But in my defense, this is not your typical newsletter that brags about family doings. Also, I sent this as an enewsletter to save postage. Yes, I'm cheap.
Here is installment #2, in my continuing quest to send you, my kith and kin, a different kind of Chrithmath newthletter...
It must be Christmas --- because one neighbor has gone all Clark Griswold in decorating his house, while another just threw a string of lights on the nearest bush and called it a day.
It must be Christmas --- because Pinterest (motto: See the same picture pinned 2,857 times!) is chock-a-block with holiday decorating and craft ideas that 1) I have no time for, and 2) I can't manage anyway, because my own thumbs oppose me every chance they get. Besides, they really aren't kidding when they call it HOT glue.
It must be Christmas --- because the Salvation Army bell ringers and their little red kettles are out en masse. For the record, I believe the Salvation Army with their tagline of "Doing the Most Good" is one of the best charities around. So, in a fit of holiday generosity, but mostly because it was a bitterly cold day and I felt sorry for the bell ringer having to stand for hours with his eyes frozen open, I dropped a very generous amount into his kettle. I felt really, really good about my act of human kindness, thinking of all the warm fuzzies my money was going to give to some truly needy person, until I walked up to the next store and there's another bell ringer and another little red kettle. People were going out of their way to drop coins and bills into the red monster's maw, but I had, as they say, given at the office. I had just donated a bunch of money, but this bell ringer didn't know that, and those people didn't know that, and the guilt was overwhelming. To the Salvation Army: please consider giving your donors stickers that say:
...so those of us who already gave can wear them and smugly pass by your kettles, and everyone knows we're really one of the good guys, and not Scrooges who hate little kids and kittens and snicker when Old Yeller gets it. You know, like they do on Election Day with "I Voted" stickers, so that those of us who failed to vote will know it's our fault when everything goes wrong for the next four years.
It must be Christmas --- because I just made a loaf of scrapple. Unlike normal families who sit around singing carols 'neath the tree, and sipping mugs of hot cocoa with little marshmallows floating on top, my family's holiday tradition consists of making pork mush. On Christmas morning in Washington state, Oregon, Colorado and Texas, we think of each other as we fry up the cement-like slabs in bacon grease. My cousins actually have contests to see whose tastes the best. Bless their little hearts.
It must be Christmas --- because our granddog is visiting from Lubbock. This creates tremendous problems for our two cats. Penny, convinced that "out of sight, out of mind" is the best policy, burrows under the bed covers and adopts a slug-like existence; which, come to think of it, is not all that different from her usual daily routine. (As Garrison Keillor once noted, "Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function.") Phoebe has a more aggressive approach that utilizes hissing, snarling, swatting and shooting laser beams from her eyes.
It must be Christmas --- because I spent 45 minutes waiting in line at the post office the other afternoon. I would have used the automated mail kiosk, except mailing overseas requires customs forms, lots of official looking stamps in red ink, and fielding questions like, "Are there any obscene materials?" To which I reply, "I'm his MOTHER!" Anyway, there wasn't much else to do while waiting except to retreat into my own head --- always a scary proposition --- and for some reason, I got to remembering the Mad Magazine parodies of Christmas songs that I enjoyed as a kid. Perhaps it was the tottering tower of packages shoved to the right of the service counter that made me think of this little ditty, sung to the tune of Deck the Halls:
Hear the postal worker singing!
Falalalala, lala, la, la!
As your package he is flinging!
Falalalala, lala, la, la!
See it crumpled in the bin there!
Falala, lalala, la, la, la!
Aren't you sorry you walked in there!
Falalalala, lala, la, la!
It must be Christmas --- because when the panic has set in and I'm convinced it'll never get done, I wonder why we can't just convert to Judaism for the whole month. I mean, this year's once-in-approximately-900-lifetimes confluence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (Thanksgivukkah!) was pretty cool. Get two major holidays out of the way at the same time, and the rest of the year is devoted to bowl games and no interruptions. Besides, placing nine lights on a menorah is certainly easier and faster, than stringing 1200 lights on an eight foot tall tree by hand.
It must be Christmas --- because I said hello to dozens of dear friends I see for only a short time each year. Many of these friends I've known my whole life; others are silver among the gold. Each one has a story to tell me, or a memory to share, and the past becomes a fond present. I delight in welcoming each one, and I never tire of hearing what they have to say:
It must be Christmas --- because no other season has the power to bring us together, each and every one. The days have more sparkle, our cares seem smaller. We are more forgiving, more understanding, more patient, more kind, more tolerant. Daily, we are reminded that we are a part of something bigger and grander, and that a message of love and peace and goodwill resonates just as much today, as it did 2,000 years ago.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year...
Ugh. Starting late last Thursday afternoon, just before the icecalypse hit, I noticed flies in the house. Big ones. Like the house variety on steroids. Unlike the house variety, these guys are slow and dozy, so they are easy to suck into the bowels of the vacuum cleaner with the vacuum hose. They are called blowflies.
Owing to the sheets of ice and below freezing temps, Richard and I didn't go anywhere for two solid days. Reading books. Watching DVD's. Playing Scrabble. Finishing the Christmas decorating. Doing laundry. Watching football. Killing flies. Lots and lots of flies.
By Sunday morning, cabin fever had set in. We skidded out to breakfast, then slid to Target to pick up a few items. Here's a photo Richard took of the cold foods section. It was completely cleaned out due to a power outage. It was the same with the freezers. Fortunately, we weren't at Target for food as I had had the foresight to stock up on Thursday afternoon.
Sunday night, the flies were really bad. Richard was already in bed. I was trying to follow him there, but the little buggers kept materializing out of thin air, and I couldn't go to sleep knowing they were zooming around. They considerately kept themselves to the "public" areas: the den, living and dining rooms, and the kitchen. The cats had a great time helping me catch them. Just by watching the cats' body language, I could tell when a fly was near. And I saw several that turned out to be floaters; you know, those bitty specks that you see swooping around in your vision. I'd think, Whoa! That one was close! and then realize it was a floater. Anyways, as each little winged beast was sucked into the vacuum nozzle, it would hit the side once --- kind of a SCHWIZIP! --- that is immensely gratifying, so help me. Like popping a pimple --- SPLOOSH! (Not that I do that.) Richard, always helpful, pointed out that perhaps I was catching the same fly over and over, that as soon as I sucked it in (SCHWIZIP!), it escaped, only to get sucked in again. I immediately pooh-poohed this (THBBBPPT!), but later secretly tested his theory by putting duct tape over the nozzle end when the vacuum wasn't in use. It didn't stop the winged onslaught, unfortunately.
Monday morning, Richard called our exterminator and that's when we were told that most likely, something had crawled into the attic and died. Hopefully, not Santa. It made perfect sense, but at the same time, URGH-BLECH! Of course, they couldn't send anyone out that day, so we --- what am I saying? Richard was at work --- I spent another fine day in combat mode.
On Tuesday (yesterday), what I had come to think of as V-F Day (Victory Over Flies), and despite sucking another couple dozen into the black hole of the vacuum cleaner nozzle, the exterminator couldn't find any sign of something rotting in our attic; no smell, either. And dang it, he couldn't treat for the flies if he couldn't get to the source. He hung a strip-looking thing that releases a vapor into the attic, which was better than nothing, but it appears we are going to have to sit this one out, and let nature take its course with whatever is festering (Blurgle-gloop-gloop-gloop) up there.
Naturally, I had to Google 'blowflies'. I'm glad I did, because the articles I read reinforced our exterminator's claim that he couldn't do anything without removing the source. At the same time, I was kind of nauseated; no one likes to think there is something foul and squishy (SQUOOSH!) up in their attic.
If you were a Mad Magazine fan back in the day, you'll understand the reference to Don Martin.
Not in a holiday mood,
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