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Archive for December, 2007

Retrospective

Once again, it’s time for a look in the rearview mirror. I thought 2007 would be the year I finished with WTF Disease. It wasn’t. I continue to hope and pray that 2008 will be. This wasn’t a great year here on the blog, but it was a little better than the one before, because once I accepted that WTF was going to hang around, I learned to sidestep it more often, and do some of the things I wanted to do. Like blog.

The wildest time had here was definitely when we threw Bucky the Househotting. OK, I said Bucky and Househotting. I don’t think more explanation is required.

In skimming the archives, I found a couple of posts that adequately answer the question, “Is she really that strange?” The first one makes me sing Janet Jackson’s old “Rhythm Nation,” except I change it to “Urine Nation.” And the other, well . . . it’s a good thing my therapist is right next door.

As I said, WTF continues. The description of it here remains accurate, with one change. I have scheduled an appointment at one of those centers. It’s at the University of Maryland instead of Hopkins, though. It’s in February.

Sometimes when I write a really silly or irreverent post, the little Southern Baptist girl (with a strict daddy) in me says something like, “What if those are the last words you ever write?! Is that what you want your legacy to be?” And that sort of thing. And I guess if I were suddenly (or otherwise) unable to post again, what I would really want to leave you with are these two posts.

And finally, the experience that made me laugh the most, that I tried to share with you, was when LG and I tried to rename her basketball team, and then you all helped.

As has always been the case here, any post is mightily enhanced, if not upstaged, by your thoughtful, profound, and/or hilarious comments. I read them sometimes to lift me up. Thank you for that.

And thank you for making a really tough year, considerably less tough, with your visits and with what you’ve written on your own sites. I wish you love, peace, health, success, faith, clarity, and every good thing in the New Year.

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Sunday Post

candle

“You can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea. You can kill a man, but not an idea.” — Benazir Bhutto

Matthew 10:26-31

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*alternate title: Why It’s Important to Drink — at Least a Little — at Family Gatherings

This is an actual conversation (or a few cross-contaminated conversations) that took place in my SIL’s kitchen on Christmas Day, as those working in the kitchen and those decidedly not working in the adjacent family room conversed over cart-wheeling children, an electronic puppy that actually grows, a giant attention-seeking black lab, and John Denver singing Christmas songs.

The speakers shall remain nameless, let’s just call them UnCels, for “unidentified celebrants,” in order to protect the guilty, and to avoid self-incrimination.

UnCel #1: I can’t believe you would still support Hillary!
UnCel #2: She can’t win in the general election . . .
UnCel #3: What about Obama?
UnCel #2: What do you think? Brown enough?
UnCel #3: No, you did NOT say that! What the hell does that mean, he’s not brown enough?
UnCel #2: What? Are the candied yams brown enough?
UnCel #3: Are WHAT candidates brown enough? Obama is the only brown candidate. Don’t act like you’re applying that criteria to all the candidates . . .
UnCel #1: THE YAMS! The marshmallows on the sweet potatoes!
UnCel #2: I know. I want the marshmallows to be the color of Obama.
UnCel #3: Ha! No, I don’t care about brown. Just make them puffy. Puffy like . . .
UnCel #1: Mike Huckabee?
UnCel #3: No, puffy like Fred Thompson! Mike Huckabee is an idiot. Mitt Romney is scary, too, but Huckabee asking him if he thinks Jesus is the devil’s brother . . . that’s so beyond ignorant…
UnCel #1: Even if Huckabee weren’t an idiot, we can’t have a [switches to goofy cartoon voice] “President Huckabee,” it’s just too goofy.
UnCel #3: Like Huckleberry Hound!
UnCel #1: Exactly. Huckleberry Hound and . . .
UnCel #3: Strawberry Shortcake could be his running mate!
UnCel #2: Mmmm, Obama. Just right:

the next president?

UnCel #3: You realize that we are the only people in the nation today trying to get our marshmallows the color of a candidate, right? No one else in the country . . . in the world, is having this conversation . . . Mmmm, Obama.

Oh, and as promised in the previous post, the ever-popular Pinecone Cheeseball:

pinecone cheeseball

(I’m not sure which candidate is the biggest cheeseball. You’re on your own, there.)

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Christmas Meme

A while back, Lotus Lynn tagged me with a Christmas meme. Other things kept popping up to post about, but I figure it not today, then when?

1. Wrapping or gift bags? I do both. When I have the luxury of time and hands that work, I like to do gift wrap with very fancy ribbon, and I’ve even been known to embellish with sprigs of evergreen, ornaments, and such. I once even won a gift-wrapping contest at a Christmas party, with one hand tied behind my back. (LG provided the other hand.) This year, mostly bags.

2. Real or artificial tree? Real. This year, for the very first time, we seriously discussed an artificial tree. But not yet. Still real. For many years, one of my brothers was in the Christmas tree farming business, and he would drive his trees up from North Carolina to Delaware, and drop a very fine tree off, right on our front porch. Those were the salad days.

3. When do you put up the tree? We put up the tree late. Our tree was just put up yesterday. Part of this is due to our general lifestyle of mayhem and procrastination. But it is partly because we like to keep it up late — at least until my birthday, Epiphany, and often well beyond that. I enjoy the tree more after the hubbub (not humbug) is over. Nothing else to wrap or cook or clean or deliver. Just tree-sitting, listening to music and sipping something.

4. When do you take the tree down? See above.

5. Do you like eggnog? Not especially. I wouldn’t miss it if it were banned.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? When I was thirteen, I came home from school on the last day before Christmas break, to find that a red princess phone had been installed in my bedroom. I was tickled pink (red). This was back in the days when a telephone man had to come out and run wires through your wall, and attach them to a little box on the baseboard. So it had to be done on a week day, couldn’t wait for Christmas.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? I do. I actually have a small collection of them. One of my favorites is one in which the figures are all modern-day children, dressed in Biblical clothing, like they’re in the Christmas Pageant. I like nativity scenes from all over the world. There are a couple of stores near here that have a big selection, and I always like to go look at them, this time of year.

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Ha! Last night, thinking about this meme, I said to Jif, “What’s the worst Christmas gift I ever received?” He said, “Just wait . . . ” Nothing specific comes to mind, but I know I’ve been mildly annoyed when people have given me clothing or jewelry that I find plum butt-ugly, and I wonder, why did that make them think of me? Oh, and there was the time Jif gave me a coat like the one Marilyn on Northern Exposure wore. That wasn’t so bad, but it was a size 26. Now, I’m not a size 2, nor am I a size 6, but so far, I am not a size 26 either. I guess he was going for the “Eskimo blanket” look.

9. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. I’m so late this year, many people will get them after Christmas. That’s only because I will MAIL them after Christmas. That’s OK with me, both as a sender and a receiver of such cards.

10. Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story. And Rudolph.

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I think of Christmas all year — I bought a few gifts for people when I was on vacation in the summer. But serious shopping doesn’t really start until November.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? I like cookies. And fudge. Oh, and a pinecone cheeseball. I’ll take a picture later.

13. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored. I am a colored-light girl. One, for the nostalgia factor, and two, for the fact that I have clear lights all over my house every day of the year. It’s the colors that say, PARTAY!

14. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night. And a song by Jennifer Knapp, “Sing, Mary, Sing.” If you don’t know Jennifer Knapp, I would highly recommend listening to her. She’s mostly contemporary Christian, but don’t let that scare you off. She reminds me a lot of Melissa Etheridge. And I love to hear my friend, Katy, sing “The Cherry Tree Carol.” And I love Odetta at Christmas time. And . . . see, I love me some Christmas songs. Just keep the chestnuts out of the fire, and I’m happy (see #20, which I answered before this one).

15. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Home. I usually travel a half hour or so, to some family members’ home. Today it’ll be us, Nana and PopPop, my SIL and BIL and their two lovely little girls. But no “serious” travel. And our favorite Christmases have been those when we did not leave the house nor the pajamas.

16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Aw, hell yea!

17. Angel on the tree top or a star? I used to have an angel, and I would love to again, but after she bit it (can you say that about an angel?), we never found one we liked enough. So for now, it’s one of those old-fashioned glass ornament tree toppers, that you stick the top pointy branch into.

18. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning? Usually one on Christmas Eve, the rest on Christmas Day.

19. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Parking. On Friday I saw a wealthy — car too fancy for me to recognize — older woman totally CUSS OUT a much poorer, much younger driver, for taking “her” parking spot. Merry Christmas, indeed.

20. Do you decorate your tree in any specific theme or color? No. It’s things we find fun and/or beautiful and/or sentimental. I love ornaments. Oh, and I have strings of multi-colored glass beads for garland. That’s kind of unusual, I think. I really like them.

21. What do you leave for Santa? Cheese. Ever since those commercials a few years ago, about the POWER, remember? We leave milk and cookies, too.

22. Least favorite holiday song? I do not like “The Christmas Song.” Not sure why. There’s something that really bugs me about those damned chestnuts roasting on that open fire. This has been true for as long as I can remember. Maybe there was some childhood trauma related to roasting chestnuts, and tiny tots with glowing eyes?

23. Favorite ornament? I have many. This is a definite favorite:
cross ornament
And you can kinda see the beaded garland behind it.

I try to give away the ones I don’t love. And I like to get at least one new one, every year. Here are some new ones from blogfriends 🙂

thank you, shari

thank you, kranki

thank you, CK

24. (I added this one!) Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas? I say both. I was unaware that this was a big THING this year until I started reading about it on people’s blogs. And here, I might (will) offend some people — but, hey, it’s Christmas, so I’ll treat y’all like family. I will not knowingly offend you with a greeting — that’s absurd; offense is antithetical to the very purpose of a greeting. However, I will also not be so cautious with you that I am tongue-tied and self-conscious and worried that in my efforts to be friendly, kind, warm, I may use some words at which you choose to take offense. I may be spoiled by the open, loving people with whom I am blessed to have some regular contact. One of my Jewish friends once told me that she would be hurt if I didn’t wish her a Merry Christmas. So I do. And I will. I know that not every Jewish person feels that way. And I know that “Merry Christmas” does not mean the same thing to that friend, that it means to me. (That, by the way, is also true of the Christian friends sitting next to me in my church pew.) If I know what holiday you celebrate, and if I know that my doing so would not offend you, I will wish you the wishes appropriate to your holiday of choice. When my Muslim clients celebrated Ramadan, I googled proper Ramadan greetings, and I asked the mother in the family if such a greeting would be welcome, coming from me. She said it would. I imagine the Muslim next door to her could have felt differently. So, again, if I know of your particular beliefs or traditions, I will greet you accordingly. If I don’t, though, by gosh, by golly, you’re highly likely to hear me say, “Merry Christmas,” and mean it. I have no problem with Jews having a Merry Christmas. It’s a day. I, and my ilk, don’t own it. And while I’m holding forth here, let me say that I just might have myself a Happy Hanukkah AND a Happy Kwanzaa, and I had an OK Winter Solstice, too (and we were wished that, btw). (Kwanzaa, there’s another whole can of gummy worms. Technically, I don’t think “Happy Kwanzaa” is a proper greeting. But even the people I know who semi-celebrate Kwanzaa, don’t know the African greetings that one is “supposed” to exchange.) So anyhow, I sometimes say, “Happy Holidays.” In fact, it’s on my CHRISTMAS CARDS. And I certainly won’t be anything but appreciative to anyone who wishes ME “Happy Holidays.” But I do expect adults to be able to discern that by saying, “Merry Christmas,” I am not evangelizing. I’m saying, “I wish you peace, and hope, and love, and warmth, and a moment to be still and reflect, and maybe even a guiding light to follow, if you feel the need.” That’s pretty much it. I accept no responsibility for anyone’s choosing to take offense at that.

I won’t tag anyone, but please do this meme if you’d like.

And we wish you a Merry Christmas (see above if you’re suspicious, wondering, “hmm, just what are they trying to say…”). We really, really do.

VBD DDR

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This was our conversation over brunch. It was prompted by our catching up on the little slips of paper with Advent assignments on them. One slip said, “Call the church office and say, ‘Merry Christmas!’ If no one answers, leave a message.” Another said, “Make a list of people who need your prayers; keep it on your fridge, and pray for them.”

As LG went to make the phone call, I was thinking of a post that I’ll publish soon, in which I go on about the Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays thing. I asked Jif, “Are you offended if someone says, ‘Happy Holidays’ to you?”

“No. Not at all.”

“Have you ever said, ‘Merry Christmas’ to a Jewish person?”

“Yes, a few times. Not knowing . . . ”

“And were they offended?”

“No. They recognized my intention…”

“See, that’s all I’m saying. Would you be offended if I wished you Happy Hanukkah?”

“Nope.” He then starts singing a very catchy Kwanzaa ditty that LG taught us a couple of years ago.

LG, having made the phone call, and now sitting at the table ready to make our prayer list, says, “One of the cafeteria ladies just says, ‘Happy Happy!’ so she doesn’t offend anybody.”

I offer, “Sometimes I say ‘Happy Merry…’ for the same reason.”

Jif says, “You can do better than that . . . make up something that combines everything…”

“Like . . . Merry Hanukkwanzaa?”

“Yes, but you have to get Christmas in there…”

“I did. With the ‘Merry.'”

“No, that’s not enough. How about, ‘Merry Hanukkwanzaamas?'”

“Yea! No one should be offended by that . . . ”

“Oh, some still will be. But if you say ‘Merry Hanukkwanzaamas!’ to someone and they take offense . . . well that person will just not be happy no matter what you say, so you should kill them.”

I laugh, and LG shakes her head. “You two are talking about killing people while I’m making a prayer list, you know.”

Here, I get to use one of my very favorite Hillbillian expressions. “Yes, but only people who NEED KILLIN’!”

“I’m putting you two on the list,” she threatens.

Somehow (oh, believe me, I KNOW how) this leads to a discussion of my family of origin, the Weinerschnitzels. “Put them all on the list. They all need prayer.”

“I’m part Weinerschnitzel,” says LG.

“Yea, and be thankful you’re only part. If you were PURE Weinerschnitzel . . . ” Jif says.

“Is that where you get the ‘killing people’ thing? Do Weinerschnitzels want to kill people?” she asks.

“Mmm . . . no. They don’t spend much time with the ‘want to,’ part of it. They pretty much just do it!” Jif and I laugh at my family, as we have over the years, to keep from crying. There is much LG doesn’t know.

“Fine. The Weinerschnitzels are on the list. We should also pray that Uncle Paul [Jif’s brother] doesn’t kill anyone.” Paul is visiting his in-laws this holiday, and yesterday at the family breakfast, he expressed a fear of homicidal inclinations emerging during the visit.

“Yes, put Uncle Paul on the list. . . ”

About this time, LG tosses a brunch remnant into Biscuit’s dish. It is a gluten-free waffle. Don’t even get me started on this gluten-free thing. The waffle is hard as a freakin’ rock.

We now have, on our fridge, a prayer list:

  • Susie, in hospital [not me; this is the mother of one of LG’s friends]
  • Stacey, expecting a baby
  • Weinerschnitzels (they want to kill people)
  • Uncle Paul (don’t kill Janie)
  • Biscuit (trying to eat hard waffle)

Yea, she’s gonna need therapy.

A disclaimer: To our knowledge, no one on either the Weinerschnitzel or the Fairchild side of the family has ever actually been convicted killed anyone who didn’t need killin’. No, really. No one.

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peace on earth

“Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.” — Oren Arnold

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” — attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

“Isn’t it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for – I don’t know what exactly, but it’s something that you don’t mind so much not having at other times.” — Kate L. Bosher

“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!'” — Dave Barry

“People can’t concentrate properly on blowing other people to pieces if their minds are poisoned by thoughts suitable to the twenty-fifth of December.” — Ogden Nash

“What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.” — Agnes M. Pharo

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?” — Dr. Seuss

“I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.” — Taylor Caldwell

Luke 2:10-14

A getting-ready-for-Christmas vignette from the Fairchild household. Jif and LG are getting ready for church. Susie will decide later if she can make it. LG is frantically wrapping gifts for church friends, teachers, etc.:

Stumble, stumble, crash, thud! “Daddy! Why did you pile all those boxes up there?!”

“To get them out of the way.”

“Well . . . they’re NOT out of the way!”

“Let me rephrase . . . to get them out of MY way.”

Biscuit runs through, crunching something. It’s a plastic Easter egg. “He’s trying . . . wrong holiday, Biscuit!”

Christmas is coming, ready or not . . .

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With WTF, going in stores really kicks my ass. So I’ve done nearly all of my Christmas shopping online. My 4-year-old niece wanted a particular item that I could not find anywhere. Just for the heck of it, I searched on Ebay, and wouldn’t you know, there was one. It’s such an odd little thing that I don’t want to reveal it, thereby revealing too much to too many, if they should go checking Ebay history. But it was such a silly little thing that the item plus shipping and handling was only about $3! I was delighted to win it! I waited and waited for it. After about 10 days, I emailed the seller. Ultimately, the exchange was so heartwarming to me, I wanted to share it. The seller, even though she did nothing wrong, was ready to go out shopping for me in her hometown. Here is most of our correspondence, which took place over several days:

I said:

I have not yet received the item. Can you please confirm when you sent it? Thank you.

– Fairchild1

And she said:

Have you received it since you contacted me?
Label/Receipt Number: 1001 70 9140 131 233448 13
Status: Delivered

Your item was delivered at 5:00 PM on December 8, 2007 in PRETTY CITY, MD

Tracking #1001 70 9140 131 233448 13
Shipping label printed on Dec-03-07
US Postal Service First Class Mail
Cost: $2.16
Here is the shipping info in case you haven’t, but I am showing it as delivered!
Please let me know! I always use delivery confirmation for this reason.Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance!

– Dee(gransstuff)

And I said:

No, I did not receive it. But I see that the USPS tracking number says it was delivered. I don’t know what might have happened.

– Fairchild1

And she said:

Can you possibly try checking the tracking number at your local post office? If not, I can issue a refund. I would send another one but I don’t have anymore of those! Please let me know what you want me to do! Have you ever had problems receiving packages there before?

Please let me know what you want me to do! I feel really bad!

– Dee(gransstuff)

And I said:

Thanks, Dee. I’ll check with the post office tomorrow. I haven’t had any other problems; I’ve mostly done online shopping this season and have received everything else. It’s not that much money, I’m not worried about that. Just that my niece really wanted one with puppies on it and that’s been the only one I
could find, so I was thrilled! I should have contacted you earlier; I thought it was taking an awfully long time. According to the tracking info, I should have had it nearly a week ago. I’ll let you know what the local post office says.
Thanks.

– Susie

And she said:

Let me know what the post office says! I am going to check around and see if I can find one or something similar!

– Dee

And then she said:

I just did a search on Ebay for puppy ones. There are a
couple but not the one I had. If you wanted to purchase one of those I will gladly refund what you paid me. Here are the item numbers so you can look at those others: [123…] I am just hoping the one I sent is sitting in your post office!

– Dee

And I said:

Dear Dee,

Thank you! That was very kind of you to find those. I went ahead and ordered the doggy one, just in case. It won’t hurt to have two for her. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to track down yours, too.

– Susie

And she said:

It was no problem. I feel bad! Be sure to let me know how you make out. I will issue a refund if we can’t track it down! I’m going out to do some shopping this evening. I will check my local stores and see if I can find one similar!
Merry Christmas,
Dee

And I said:

Good news! It’s here. It had been misdelivered to a neighbor who just got around to bringing it over! Thank you so much for your patience and kindness; sorry for the confusion.
It’s perfect, too. Nothing but puppies. My niece will love it. 🙂

Susie

And she said:

Oh, I’m so happy! Merry Christmas!

Dee

And I said:

Me, too! And Merry Christmas to you 🙂

Susie

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