Twelve Days of Going Broke

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I just finished listening to a traditional Holiday song called “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It’s an English Christmas carol, thought to be of French origin, that was first published in 1720. It is a cumulative song, each verse building on top of the previous ones, as it enumerates a series of increasingly grand gifts, given on each of the twelve days of Christmas. It should be noted for historical accuracy, that the gifts should only be given to ones “true love.” Imparting these varied, unusual, and expensive presents on an ex-wife or partner, the friendly waitress at the local diner, the person who rocked your world at the club last weekend, or that cute guy or girl you ran into at the apartment laundry room, will make you feel like the time, you escorted your second cousin Erma to the senior prom. You not only were completely broke afterward, but that good night kiss on the check was an anticlimactic end to a magical evening.

 

I was wondering about the astronomical cost of buying the twelve gifts listed in the song. For only one verse, the total cost this year is $34,558.65. The good news is that the price has increased only .6% from that of 2016. If you were wondering; the total gifts received by one’s true love in the entire song is 364. To procure this amount, would set you back little bit more than two and a half million dollars. I shouldn’t be telling you this, so as not to ruin the surprise, but I heard this is Kanye’s Christmas gift to Kim this year. We may even have a new reality show next year called, “Keeping up with the Kardashians as they pick pears, dance with ladies, chase birds, and try to catch quick, and extremely slippery lords.” Continue reading

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Santa Claus is Coming to Town

 

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A few nights ago, I was feverishly writing down my wish list for Santa. I had already listed comfortable, white, Fruit of the Loom underwear, warm socks, a new snow shovel, a knit ski hat, and a heating pad, when I paused for a moment to reminisce about being a child, and the anticipation of a visit from Santa Claus. My family had a tradition of reading the poem, “The Night Before Christmas,” in front of a roaring fire, as we all sipped hot chocolate, and stared in wonder at a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and colorful stockings hung above the fireplace. I’m not sure, if I’ve ever experienced that feeling of wonder and magic since. I still have memories of lying in bed on Christmas Eve, hearing a noise, looking out the window, seeing snow fall from our rooftop, and envisioning Santa Claus disembarking from his sleigh with an enormous bag, as eight tiny reindeer waited patiently nearby.

I remember from the poem, how Santa Claus was described as being dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. He had a broad face, and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf. His eyes how they twinkled. His dimples how merry. His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. Wait a minute….. I just realized something. Except for not having a beard, I look exactly like Santa Claus! I guess that explains a few things. In November, I took a much-needed two-week vacation, stopped shaving, bundled up in my fur-lined red jacket, and enjoyed a few delicious alcoholic beverages. Well – maybe a little more than a few. I kept having smiling small children, rush up to me, jump on my lap, and recite lengthy Christmas wish lists, before departing with their frazzled parents, who usually gave me disapproving looks. Continue reading

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Kiss Me You Fool

 

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As we make our way through the Christmas season, I’m reminded of one of my favorite Holiday traditions. It’s the hanging of mistletoe above doorways, in order to possibly procure a kiss from one’s spouse, partner, significant other, friend, or possibly a complete stranger. As I always do before writing a simple observation of everyday life, I did some research on what mistletoe is, it’s history, and how it’s used in today’s modern world. I did find out that mistletoe is a parasitic plant, which forces its roots into the bark of a host tree, and sucks the nutrients from it like a vampire. It is a white-berried greenery, found in bunches the size of a large cabbage. It grows high atop hard wood trees such as oak or elm. It has also been known to infest apple trees. Many people don’t know this, but the leaves and berries, are extremely poisonous, and can cause harm, or even death if eaten.

How then, did a parasitic, and harmful plant, become an important part of Christmas traditions in many countries. Many historians trace mistletoe’s origins to either Scandinavian legends, or to pagan Druid priests, in what is now modern day England, who revered it as a central part of ancient Solstice celebrations. In many European countries, it was seen as having magical powers, could bestow fertility on newly married couples, was useful as an aphrodisiac, and could protect against evil and unforeseen occurrences like plague, bad harvests, and visits from in-laws. Continue reading

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Excessive Christmas Spirit

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My new book, “Simple Observations – A humorous Look at the Absurdity of the World Around Us,” is almost here. The book cover has been designed, the final edit is complete, and it’s nearing publication. It probably; unless I have a Christmas miracle, won’t be out before the 25th. In celebration of the Holidays, and the promotion of the book, I’m publishing one of the stories, here on my blog. I hope you enjoy it, and it possibly peaks your interest in reading the entire book in the coming year.

Like most of you, I love the festive mood, the spirit of giving, and the sense of family during the holiday season. I also love the tradition of fresh-cut Christmas trees decorated with shiny spheres of glass, long strands of silver tinsel, bright and colorful strings of lights, and topped with a radiant golden angel siting majestically, upon the highest peak. On cold December evenings, I’ll slowly stroll through my neighborhood, bundled in layers of warm clothing, as I enjoy the wonder of subtle, yet beautiful Christmas decorations. I especially enjoy brightly lit candles in the windows of houses, a single tree aglow in the front yard with either white, red or blue lights, candy canes standing tall and proud like soldiers lined up along the walkways, and a few silver icicles hanging like thin frozen spears of ice.

Over the past few years though, I’ve been observing that Christmas decorations have made a slow, but steady change from simple, yet lovely displays to more garish scenes. Houses have become adorned with thousands of blinding lights, windows plastered with dozens of Christmas images, and roofs loaded with the crushing weight of multiple yuletide figures. I have also seen once barren lawns filled with what looks like a cross between a Macy’s Halloween parade and a Disney character convention. Continue reading

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You are Not Alone

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A week or so after Thanksgiving, and once the Black Friday insanity has abated; a slow and steady migration begins. It is much like the great movements of the African Wildebeests, as they single-mindedly make their way across vast savannahs in search of food and water. At first, there are but a few individuals wandering aimlessly, as if desperately searching for something. Soon, large numbers gather in groups, as if seeking comfort from others of their own kind, and also protection from many unknown dangers. By early December, department store parking lots are filled with these creatures, who stand outside their cars, pause for a few moments, as if time itself has stopped its steady march forward, and gaze at the enormous mall in the distance.

Tightly clutching, hastily scribbled lists of items, and clothing in various sizes and colors, they reach for their back pockets for reassurance that their credit card filled wallets are there. Moving slowly forward as one, they completely ignore each other, as they focus on reaching the large doors, and decorative entrance to the massive mall before them. Though, they consist of many different races, ages, and ethnic backgrounds, they share a common feature. All their eyes contain, not only a look of uncertainty and confusion, but an underlying fear as well. Who are these men, who as retail establishments open, slowly and aimlessly wander in with no apparent purpose or guidance? Yes, they are our fathers, partners, husbands, brothers, and sons, doing their annual Christmas shopping. It is a sad and pitiful sight indeed. Eventually, they will head home with huge shopping bags filled with kitchen appliances, ugly cotton robes, enormous furry slippers, incredibly unflattering, mismatched, over-sized and under-sized clothing, and precious receipts. Receipts, which will be used the day after Christmas, to return or exchange nearly every single item they procured. Continue reading

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Gobbling Down a Meal

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Though Thanksgiving is celebrated in a few other countries, it has developed into a distinctly American tradition. It is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, and the day after, known as “Black Friday,” has unofficially become the start of the Holiday shopping season. It’s commonly agreed upon, that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, by the Pilgrims, who invited the local Native Americans to a feast to celebrate their first successful harvest. The local Wampanoag tribe had taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn, beans and squash, catch fish, and collect seafood. It should be noted that the first Thanksgiving meal did not include turkey, which though native to the new world, were smaller than modern farm-raised birds, very elusive, and hard to find. The three-day feast consisted mainly of goose, corn, porridge, lobster, fish, and deer.

I have a few questions for those reading my simple observations of Thanksgiving. How many of you endure the stress of traveling long distances by car, train, or airplane, to visit friends and family you haven’t seen since last year? How many of you don’t really like some of the people you are visiting? Worse yet; how many of you have homes, that  for some strange twist of fate, have become the official, Thanksgiving destination for dozens of ravenous relatives – year after year after year? If you are one of these homes; do you spend a fortune buying supplies, and days thawing turkeys, making delicious holiday foods, and baking amazing pies? Do your guests proceed to wolf down the meal in ten minutes without comment, ask what’s for dessert, procure enormous slices of pies and cakes, and leave the table in search of a television to watch either football games, or parades filled with marching bands, and giant, helium-filled balloons? Does your spouse or partner, buy dozens of Tupperware containers, and give all the leftovers to departing guests? The next day, do you open an empty refrigerator, and dream of partaking of delicious day-old Turkey with all the fixings? Welcome to my Thanksgiving celebration. Continue reading

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Getting to the Friendly Skies

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I was thinking about writing a simple observation of everyday life, involving the wonderful experience of airports, and traveling the friendly skies, in spacious, comfortable, and worry-free airplanes. That was until, I spent four hours in an airport, endured incredible stress and aggravation, faced debilitating panic, extreme fear and frustration, waited impatiently in long lines, got an unbelievable cardio workout, and had my wife get felt-up by a woman with hands as big as baseball gloves. Now to make this clear; all this happened, before I even made it aboard my plane, which was delayed for two hours for some unknown reason. Due to this horrific experience, I’ve decided to focus initially, on writing about getting from the airport entrance to that little tunnel leading to the airplane. If you’ve faced similar situations – please hold your ear-splitting screams, and hair pulling until the end of the post.

It should be noted that this post will not mention any specific people, airports, or airlines by name. The purpose of this is to protect the innocent – namely me. Heaven forbid, an airline executive, or high-level airport, or government official, happens to take a break from counting all your money, and decides to read my simple observations of everyday life blog. It wouldn’t help that my picture, and full name is prominently displayed. Chances are; on my next vacation, or trip to visit relatives, I would spend two hours having my baggage meticulously searched, endure the cold snouts of multiple drug and bomb sniffing dogs, and face a thorough, full body strip search, along with an extensive cavity exploration, by a person with a huge smirk on their face, and a true love of their job. There’s also a high probability, I’d end up sitting in a middle seat between two enormous Sumo wrestlers, receive no food or beverages, and eventually disembark at a small airport in Siberia, and never see my baggage again. Continue reading

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Holy Cow – Someone’s in Trouble

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Yesterday, I was on my way home from work; and as I often do, began thinking about subjects for my next simple observation of everyday life. Turning into my development, I noticed, a few doors down from my house, was some kind of large and garish yard display. Coming to a complete stop in front of my neighbor, Phil’s abode; I could only sit and stare in shock, at what looked like an enormous herd of miniature cows, grazing peacefully on his well-manicured lawn. In the center of the group of black and white bovines was a large cow with a smiling face. Held firmly in its hoofs, was a brightly painted sign, with the words, “Holy Cow – Bettys 50.” My only thoughts were, “Phil, Phil, Phil. You poor misguided fool. Did you undergo a bout of temporary insanity, have a brief moment of stupid, really think it’s funny, or do you have some kind of death wish?”

To be fair; Betty, is a lovely, kind, and gentle person, who wouldn’t hurt a fly. She most likely, won’t give him a gentle reminder of his mistake, with an open hand to the side of his large, and obviously empty head. However; good old Phil, might be facing a week or two of disapproving looks, fast-food takeout meals, and restless nights, on a lumpy living room couch. Like most women, including my own wife; Betty has been aging beautifully – like a fine wine. Just because women age better than men, doesn’t mean they want to be reminded of the passing years with massive displays of pieces of painted wood, which depict various barnyard creatures, and enormous signs with their name and, “actual” age. If you’ve witnessed some of these birthday surprises on lawns, you may have noticed that there’s rarely ones that boldly announce a 60th birthday. The only thing I can figure out is, the husband who thought the cow display for his life partner’s 50th birthday was so hilarious – didn’t fair too well over the next decade. Continue reading

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Drive-Thru & Don’t Look Back

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Have you noticed, how more and more businesses are allowing customers to purchase products and services, via drive-through windows? I read that a number of factors, including our increasing dependence on vehicles in a mobile society, technological advances that provide luxury’s in automobiles, unheard of in past generations, and the relentless search by consumers for more convenience, have allowed us to complete more and more of our daily activities without having to leave our cars. I don’t know about you, but at least for me; I think it means, I’m becoming incredibly lazy. What’s next – robots that carry us to our cars? How about, comfortable lounge chairs that convert into a highway-ready, means of transportation? I guess, it would be pretty cool, to pull up to the takeout window at Burger King in a souped-up Lazy Boy Recliner. I’m surprised, some innovative genius hasn’t already invented drive-through bathrooms. Then, we’d never have to leave our cars!

Most of us have used or at least heard of drive-through fast food restaurants, coffee shops, postal service centers, banks, and pharmacies. It may sound a bit crazy, but there’s also drive-through marriage chapels in Las Vegas, liquor stores, beer distributorships, and funeral home viewings, where the final memory of your cherished loved one is through the driver’s side window of your new SUV. Do you know, you can now order groceries online, drive to a supermarket, pull up to a loading dock, pop your trunk, and someone will load your purchases into your vehicle? When you get home, you use your smart phone to call your teenage children to come out and bring the groceries into the house.  After getting either a busy signal, or no answer, you end up carrying a dozen heavy bags in by yourself, and find your kids on their beds, wearing headphones, listening to music, and surfing the net. When they finally notice you’re home, what do they say? “I’m starving; what’s for dinner?” Continue reading

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Hunting for a New Look

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Have you noticed that, besides Halloween, and an Irish pub on Saint Patty’s Day; the Christmas season is the only other time you can dress in strange, silly, and ridiculous attire – and get away with it? How many of you have ever attended, or hosted, what’s called an “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party?” Over the past few years, the popularity of these events has sky-rocketed, as young and old, have searched for the perfect ugly sweater online, as well as in vintage clothing stores, and local Salvation Army and Goodwill thrift shops. The objective is to procure a tacky and outrageous sweater, in bright red and green colors, with large depictions of reindeer, Santa, Mrs. Claus, Elves or Christmas trees, and any humorous, and often naughty, Christmas-themed saying.

We had an ugly sweater party and contest at my house, as part of last year’s holiday celebration; and guess who won the spectacular grand prize of a years of supply of tooth-breaking, decades old, candy canes? I not only won, but didn’t even buy an ugly sweater. I pulled a sweater out of the back of my closet, that my great-grandmother must have bought at a 1908-yard sale, and was passed down from generation to generation. The sweater was made of a thick and plush fabric, resembling the fur of a grizzly bear. My dog, Chase, was kind enough to loan me some of his large and varied collection of slightly chewed, stuffed toys. The ones I chose were small, life-like, and depicted a variety of animals, such as: a hedgehog, ground squirrel, cute chipmunk, rabbit, groundhog, and a black and white skunk. I spent hours, meticulously sewing the creatures onto my ancient sweater. The final result of my endeavor was, what looked like a scene from a horror film. Can you envision, a large, fur-covered man, engaged in a valiant fight for his very existence, as rabid creatures of the forest cover his upper body in a horrifying feeding frenzy. It was so cool. Continue reading

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