Ripped from the Headlines

One of the blogs I follow, Freethinkers Anonymous, posted some Q&A the other day, and I liked the questions so much, I am borrowing them to answer here.   You should read his blog though.  He posts more often, and his material is far more contemplative and not self-indulgent. 

Anyway - he got the questions from another blogger, and you're supposed to tag people and pass it on.  He didn't, and I won't either - so free free to lift this and apply it to yourself, should the spirit so move you.


Do you celebrate Christmas?

I would say that I observe it and endure it more than celebrate it.  I mean, I enjoy it - but I think we spread out the Christmas Season for waaaaaaay too long.  It should be a short, marvelous sprint, and we have turned it into something of a death march.  But I also grew up with a menorah and a misguided sense of the point of Hanukkah, so I'm definitely a secular celebrant.  I like some of the religious carols, but the scholars tell us that Jesus was likely born in spring, so...TL;DR - yes.

Which one of Santa’s Reindeer is your favorite?

I mean, how much do we really know about any of them but Rudolph, am I right?  I assume by her name that Vixen is female, so by default, I like her.  She is probably the voice of reason that suggests they pull over and get directions.  So, her.  And then maybe Blitzen because you know he has the good liquor and a dime bag in his stable.  He's the fun reindeer.  Like, all business one night a year, and a train wreck for the next 364 days.

Do you like snow?

In theory, yes.  It's fun and pretty and could translate into working from home for a day or two.  Also, Piper loves running in snow, and she looks good doing it.  For that, I do like snow.  Otherwise, I'd have to say, no - I am not a fan.  It causes the onslaught of bread and milk jokes, and we have to hear from non-Southerners what shitty drivers we are.  Plus, here snow becomes black ice, and that is a whole new ballgame.  So, I'm kind of "meh" on snow.

Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?

One of the big ones was that we used to do spaghetti as our Christmas Eve meal, and it was delightful.  I strong-armed Christmas Day this year, and we're doing spaghetti, dammit.   It's cheerful, warm and easy to throw together.  Also, on the night of Christmas Eve, Santa would leave me and my sister pajamas.  That was a fun one.

Least favorite part of Christmas?

Incessant Christmas music.  I mean the garbagey pop-synth-sweetened crap you hear on the radio.  I like some Christmas music.  In moderation.

But more than that, the fact that Dad is no longer around for it.  His last Christmas was... rough.  We brought him home for the day from the rehab facility and made him as comfortable as possible.  I don't even remember what we ate.  I worked hard to find fun, interesting presents for a person recovering from a stroke.  At the end of the day, when we got ready to take him back to the facility, he cried.  He didn't want to go.  I don't blame him.  It stands in my memory as one of the worst days of my life.  But wait, don't go - because the answer to the next question is a much cheerier Dad memory!

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

When I was in my teens, Dad and I went Christmas shopping for Mom.  I remember he went to get some cash out of the bank and we went to the mall.  He had talked through a list of things he wanted to get her, and we went through that list quite nicely.  I know he bought her a nice leather handbag - Dooney and Bourke.  He got her a pretty nightgown (her favorite designer, Eileen West), and a few little things, but the big thing was a nice ring - channel set diamonds - it was lovely.  And I remember going through the mall with Dad and mentioning how easy he was to shop with.  And he said, "That's because I don't dick around."

The other one that stands out is Dad-centric as well.  It was the Christmas just after I turned 30.  Matt and I were engaged, and I was in a brief work hiatus.  I had been let go from one company and was waiting on a background check to clear for my new one.  Laura and Tom were coming from California for the holiday, and Matt would be there, too.  Dad had gotten a flocked, white tree, and we had been on the hunt for multicolored lights with white cords.  And we had gone up to the cabin for the day to winter-proof and put lights on a little tree there.  As we were driving home, we stopped at a Target in Buford, GA and found the needed lights.  We bought a ton of them.  Like, maybe 12 boxes.  We left one box.  Sort of a f*** you to whomever came next.  And we kind of serpentined through the store laughing like we had pulled off some remarkable feat.

Suffice it to say, I miss Dad.

Me in my red Christmas shoes.  You can barely see the tree to the right of my sister.  This is the only photo in existence where she looks disheveled.  The pose itself is a classic.  We have several just like this one, just different seasons/outfits.

If you could take a paid two-week break for Christmas this year, what would you do, and why?

The first thing that comes to mind is sleep. I would like a dark, cold, quiet room and a good swig of NyQuil.  Once I had a few days of that under my belt, I'd like to call 1-800-Got-Junk to park in my backyard, and I would purge the house of at least 20% of its current content.   I know the conventional answer would be lying on a beach somewhere, or a European adventure.  But I really just want some sleep and decluttering.  Take the money that a vacation would require and let's put a shed in the back for tools.  

Elf on the Shelf

I have mixed feelings about Elf on the Shelf.  On one hand, it's remarkably commercial, and a little ridiculous.  This whole thing about the kid not touching it or it loses its magic - that feels like a future therapy session or two.  It seems like more work for Mom and Dad.  But, on the other hand, I have seen some pretty clever things done with them, and that is a good way to kill 30 minutes online.  But on the third, extra hand, this is one of those added tasks that make good parents feel shitty about themselves, and it is one of those "traditions" that makes the entire month of December seem like a slog.  But if Mom and Dad need some kind of behavioral carrot and stick, then whatever works.  Laura used to say that my nephew's whining hurt Santa's reindeer's ears.  And that didn't cost a dime.

Favorite thing about Christmas when you were a kid?

The presents, obviously.  My parents were creative, generous, and indulgent.  I do know that my parents' generosity wasn't exclusive to us and/or each other.  I think if anything, that was the best present of all - their spirit of generosity was contagious.  I try very hard to give good gifts, thoughtful, useful, fun gifts.   And I also try to do that for strangers as well as friends.  Angel tree, the Salvation Army bell ringers.  I do that to honor the good fortune I have experienced.  And to honor my parents.

Do you have a favorite Christmas special?

Does the Delicious Dish sketch on SNL count?  Alec Baldwin is marvelous, but it's really about Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon who manage to not crack up through the entire thing even after saying balls a hundred times, and honestly, their patter before they even introduce Pete Schweddy is NPR-grade perfection.   It's a treat.  A treat as tender and glistening as the balls themselves.

Good times.  Good times.

If that doesn't count, then no.  I do not have a favorite Christmas special, though I do love A Christmas Story.  It is perfection. 

Any further questions?


Merry, merry, then.