Tag Archives: holidays

Bad Language

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With the holiday season seems to come lots of stress. Shopping, preparing food, cleaning the house, wrapping presents, spending time with family, traveling…it all sounds delightful, doesn’t it? But we all know how things can go at this time of year. Everything brings frustration, and frustration can cause bad language. Whether you use actual curse words, or the milder version of the naughty words, you’ve probably used bad language this holiday season.

Let’s start with some travel planning to be with family, or to take that winter getaway to warmer climates. Deciding where to go, how to get there, and with whom to travel can lead to lots of bad language.

“Gosh darn it, Marge! We are NOT taking your mother with us to Belize!”

“We are NOT driving to New York at Christmas! There is too much %$&*#*@% traffic, Martha!”

“Holy $&*%@!, David, look at that security line! We’ll never get on the plane!”

OK, so maybe you are staying put for the holidays. But surely you’ll have some shopping to do. Whether heading to the local mall, or shopping online, there will be issues.

“Did you see that, Lori? That &%$#* took my parking space!”

“We just went to umpteen stores, Susan, and you still haven’t found the perfect gift for Aunt Jane? Well, she’s getting the darned slippers we saw at the first store, then!”

“*&%$&$#, I have clicked SUBMIT fifteen times!!! What do you want me to do???”

SO, the shopping is done, travel plans are made, and now you must make that special dish that you always bring to the celebration. The one where you actually have to follow the recipe, or it won’t turn out quite right. The one that takes every utensil, bowl, pan and measuring cup you have. You’re up to your elbows in dough that’s just not the right consistency.

“This does NOT look like my mom’s quiche dough, Jerry! What the heck am I supposed to do with this?”

“&%$#, %$@#&, *%&$#@!!!” as you drop the pan of cake batter on the way to the oven.

While the goodies are baking, you decide to wrap some presents. What could go wrong?

“No, Scottie, Mommy said to hold your finger on the ribbon, not put a gosh darn booger on it!”

“I know I put the tape down somewhere…where the %$&*@ did it go? Did I put it in that box with Brad’s &%*$# shirt?”

But remember, the holidays are a time for rejoicing, celebrating and having some good times with family and friends. So, if you must curse to relieve that stress, let it fly and move on to the good times.

Happy &%#$@ holidaze!

Christmas Traditions From an Outsider’s Point of View

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I’m not a Christian, so I don’t really celebrate Christmas myself. A loosely practicing Jew can really muck up Christmas. I’ve had a Christmas tree that I called a Hanukkah bush, hung blue lights and stockings, sung Christmas carols about Jesus, and even attended midnight mass. I can just see my very Jewish aunt shaking her head and wondering why. But I’ve also been a part of many Christmas celebrations over the years with Christian friends, and have seen how the holiday is done by those that know what they’re doing. Today as, I was cruising through the holiday posts on Facebook, I was musing at how differently everyone celebrates the Christmas holiday.

First comes decorating. Real tree, or fake tree? Ornaments handed down over the years, or ornaments to match the chosen theme of the year? Tinsel? Popcorn or cranberry garland? Angel or star? Lights…all one color, or mixed colors? Outside decorations…over the top, fill your yard, cover your house, and light the neighborhood? Or simple lights along the roofline? Nativity scene? Angels everywhere? Wreaths? And when do you put up the tree…Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day? Christmas Eve? Whenever you have a moment to yourself without the kids? Or with the kids?

And the countdown and preparations. Elf on the shelf? Advent calendar? Shopping trips? Pictures with Santa? Naughty or nice checklists? Cookie exchanges? Airline tickets?

Food is a big deal at any holiday, but Christmas seems to come with more than any other. Ham or turkey? Or something more fancy like prime rib roast or lobster tails? Or perhaps a special, local or family traditional fare…like lefse, or lutefisk? Potluck, or is one family member responsible for the entire meal? Christmas cookies, candy canes, fudge, and all of the cute treats that look like something Christmassy. Glug, grog, cider, hot chocolate, hot toddies, or a good ole Tom & Jerry?

And what about Santa? Do you have a family member (or perhaps a Jewish friend) dress up as Santa to visit the kiddos and pass out presents? Or do some gifts appear that have Santa’s name on them? Do you leave cookies and milk out for him? Anything for the reindeer?

Then there’s the opening of the presents. Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning? Or maybe one on Christmas Eve, and the rest the next morning? Does everyone take turns, oohing and ahhing over each gift, or is it mass chaos as everyone tears into their prizes, regardless of what’s going on around them? And do the presents get put under the tree as they were purchased or made, or do you wait until the kids are asleep on Christmas Eve to drag them all out of hiding?

And for those with larger families, how do you decide where to celebrate, and when? If you have to make it to 4 or 5 houses to “do Christmas” with each relative, how do you fit them all in, and still make it meaningful for your family? Do you eat 5 Christmas dinners in one day? Do you ever get to have Christmas at your own house if you are traveling all over creation to attend all of the relative’s celebrations?

And, last, but not least, what’s it all about to you? Presents and decorating, eating and drinking, visiting and enjoying time as a family, or the religious parts? I see a lot of folks get caught up in the rat race of Christmas, running around to find the best gifts, getting everything cleaned, made and ready. They must be too exhausted to enjoy the holiday once it arrives! And there’s the expectations that tend to run rather high for most. We’ve all seen the Christmas morning tantrum over a gift not received, or a gift that doesn’t work as promised. And that’s not always just the kids!

As an outsider, whatever your Christmas was, I hope that it was everything you hoped it would be. I hope that you spent it with family and friends, and that you inhaled deeply the time together.

Small-Town Summer

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We are about to enter the festival season in my little town. Every town has them, I guess, but our town seems to have a LOT of them, and they keep adding more every year! Our newest addition is the Zany Zucchini Street Festival. I knew I could get your attention…read on!

So, we started things off with Frost Free Friday in late May, which is our climb-out-of-winter festival during which local businesses give away plants to visitors to their businesses. It’s supposed to be an advertising kind of thing, and a promotional thing for businesses, designed to get people in the door to purchase something. But, unfortunately, most people just dart from business to business, snatching as many free plants as they can juggle, without giving a thought to purchasing anything, or even shopping around. At about this same time, our local farmers’ market opens, and the Garden Club has a big plant sale at the market. It’s a much more supportive way to get your plants, as far as I’m concerned. We also have not one, but TWO fishing openers in May, because we ARE in Minnesota, after all.

This week is our Summerfest. I’m pretty sure every town has a Summerfest, right? This is the first festival I came to know upon taking up residence in town. We happened to arrive in town after a 23 hour trip from Maryland on the eve of Summerfest, 2001. Our realtor had joked that there’d be a parade in our honor, and it turns out, he wasn’t joking! Arriving around 3:45 AM, and after conking out for a few hours on our air mattress in our new home, we awoke to a loud, “Testing…testing…1, 2, 3…testing!” They were setting up for the musical entertainment for Summerfest. So, we got up, and joined in the festivities. There was a parade soon to start, and we met our neighbors because our yard turned out to be primo viewing real estate for the parade, and they all had been setting up their chairs in our yard for years. It was great!

The county fair is the same weekend as Summerfest, so there is plenty to do in town. Inflatable jumpy things for the kiddos, carnival games and thrill rides, pony rides, horse shows, tractor pulls, beer gardens, music, talent shows, those ridiculously tall mudder trucks, petting zoo, 4-H displays and animals…you get the gist. And, of course, there’s the food…brats, smoked turkey legs, sweet corn, pulled pork, cotton candy, soft pretzels, sno cones, cheese curds…the list goes on, as do the pounds.

Then we have a mere 4 day break before the 4th of July sneaks up on us. Our town doesn’t actually do anything for this one, because there are so many other fireworks displays and parades at surrounding towns. Later in July, we’ve added the Zany Zucchini thing, because there wasn’t anything in particular in July.

We start August off with the Community Garage Sales, which is always fun. That same weekend, we have Pie on Park Ave. (which used to be “Pie on the Porch”), which is a fundraiser for a church’s mission trips. It’s delicious, and happens to be a block from my house, so handy like that. More pounds. Then, at the end of August, is the big Bluegrass Festival. That draws a lot of people to the area, and is a big deal for such a small town.

We finish things off with the Art Crawl, which is usually Labor Day weekend, and that is the end of the trail of touristas, street vendors, an abundance of bad-for-you foods, lots of time in the sun, and medallions to search for. Ahhh, the peace and quiet of fall…even if it means winter is just around the corner.

 

Seasonal Sweets

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Today was a sad day. When I arrived at work, I was greeted by an empty candy dish. And it may be a long time before it is refilled. I’ve sort of become the candy stop for my co-workers. It all started back in December, when I first started working there. I bought some treats, and put them in a dish on my desk to share. It started with some sort of Christmas candies, which were soon replaced by Valentines Day conversation hearts. I somehow missed out on the St. Patty’s Day gold coins, but I didn’t miss the Easter Parade of jelly beans, bunnies, and eggs. And then, it was over. The last two jelly beans sat in the dish for several days, until someone finally put them out of their misery and ended it.

That empty dish led to some discussion at work about the candy cycle. We realized that there won’t be much in the way of candy for several months to come. The year unfolds with a fairly steady stream of holiday candies. January is set aside to get over the sugar shock of Christmas, but February brings conversation hearts and boxes of chocolates. March supplies us with Leprechaun loot. April sends the Easter Bunny, complete with baskets of goodies.

Then, in May, the candy market dries up. Mother’s Day suggests flowers, or a nice vacuum cleaner, rather than candy. June brings us Father’s Day, which usually revolves around after-shave, ties, fishing gear, and lawn mowers, but no candy. The 4th of July is all about fire crackers and hot dogs, and the occasional parade, but no candy that represents the holiday. August offers us nothing in the way of a holiday at all. Labor Day in September is parade time again, and candy is thrown, but the store shelves are not filled with Labor Day-specific treats. It’s more about the picnic foods, like hot dogs, potato salad and watermelon, but not candy.

And then, watch out! Halloween candy hits the shelves as early as August in some areas! This is a big one, and stores are stocked with all manner of miniature candies, individually wrapped, for those trick-or-treaters. And although November doesn’t really offer us a candy-centered holiday (just turkey and all the fixins, and pie), we are usually still eating the leftover Halloween candy right up until the Christmas candy hits the shelves. Enter chocolate Santas, candy canes, and all the rest.

I had to wonder how each holiday got its traditional treats associated with it, or not. I realize that most of the seasonal candies have very little to do with the holiday itself. Those marketing gurus just waved their magic wands and made candies to fit the holidays. But why did they miss the mark on some of the holidays? Why not some Father’s Day confection? Perhaps a nice tie made of licorice? Or maybe some candy fire crackers for the 4th of July? Wouldn’t Pop Rocks be sort of fitting for that? And what about poor August…no holiday, and certainly no candy. Someone needs to look into that.