Posts Tagged ‘Christmas


Secret Santa vs. Mysterious Santa

Yesterday, an unexpected thing happened: I got a package at work that didn’t contain DVDs, toner or various computer parts.

The return address was “Santa’s Workshop.” My only clue to where it came from was on the postage, which said that it was shipped from Castle Shannon. (And who knew that Santa’s Workshop was based so nearby!)

I opened it up and found a package full of cookies and possibly bread (or brownies or something … I haven’t been daring enough to open it up).

Now, I figure this is from a person on twitter … especially because one of my coworkers, who roams in the same twitter circles as I do, also received the same kind of package at work.

Let’s face it … getting an anonymous gift can be fun, like if you participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange and you have a rough idea of the personalities of the people participating.

But mysterious Santa … well, that’s a different beast. Someone knows where I work, looked up my work address, found out which floor I was on, and then sent it to me.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the idea and thought behind this delicious, delicious gift. It’s the basis of every other tween romance novel or chick flick for a reason … because it can be on the exciting side. But in this day and age of weird and batshit crazy people, getting a random package from someone claiming to be Santa can be unnerving.

I mean, remember during 9/11, when people were getting mailed anthrax in packages?

And even though I’m not hardcore in politics, I do work for a company that espouses right-wing ideology. How do I know that some far lefty didn’t decide to target me for an Exlax bombing? Hell, it could even be from an Occupy Pittsburgh protester who saw me dressed up as a reindeer and having my picture taken in their encampment during Santarchy. Oh wait, I haven’t written about that. I’ll talk about that later. But still, IT COULD BE THEM.

Mystery Santa has caused some controversy among my FB friends. I threw out a status update, and got varied reactions. Here’s some of the early comments:

Later comments ranged from “Oh, I see you got my baked goods made from feces” to flat out “There is NO WAY I would eat any of those.”

It does pose a morally interesting dilemma. Do you risk your safety over cookies that arrived at your office under mysterious circumstances, or do you say “Thanks but no thanks,” and toss out what could potentially be a package of perfectly good and delicious cookies? I imagine celebrities face this particular problem daily, with some taking the plunge (looking at you, Orsen Wells) and others tossing out the lot of them (looking for you, Calista Flockheart).

In the end, laziness won the day. I ate some. They are fantastic.

I’ll let you know if I manifest symptoms of anthrax later on.


The Aftermath

So Christmas has now come and gone, and I can finally breathe a little easier. Here’s the events that surrounded my holiday:

  • The Grinch: Christmas almost didn’t come for my relatives. My car’s ABS system apparently exploded. Now, people can lament the timing … the weekend before Christmas … but for me, this is absolutely common. My former car, a 1.8 Turbo Jetta, was well known for exploding right before EVERY holiday so there would be an extra day of waiting. (I’m convinced that car was assembled by orphans from “Our Lady of the Perpetual Check Engine Light” in Mexico.) My current car has been rock solid, so I was surprised when the DOOM lights started popping on. Well, on the 23rd, I took it to the dealer, who promptly told me that the repair was covered under warranty. I was able to save Christmas by hitting Giant Eagle for gift cards after that, thank God.
  • The Nephews: Apparently, I almost lost 2 nephews when my sister and her husband awoke to find that they broke into their older brother’s silly string, and managed to hose everything — Christmas tree, TV, nativity scene, computer — everything. It was even on the ceiling, for Pete’s sake. My sister isn’t really a drinker, so when my mom told me to bring extra beer for Christmas Eve dinner, I knew it was bad. I think she was ready to just go to a mall and abandon them.
  • The Recipe: My great-Aunt Mary passed away recently. Now, this is the Slovak side of the family that I don’t know very well, due to the fact that my grandfather left my grandma (who was Italian). This lead my grandma to shunning all aspects of him, including that side of the family. So, my mom was surprised when, at the funeral, relatives told her about a certain dish that the Italian side of the family made for the holidays, and that my grandma taught them how to make.  She never made it for us, that’s for sure. But it’s like a lasagna, except with rice, eggs and little meatballs. I made a batch, but don’t think I made it correctly. However, I could see why it would be loved … it’s like eating the inside of pigs in a blanket or stuffed peppers and not having to deal with the cabbage or pepper. I’ll post a blog entry about making it later.
  • Meat Wars: Some of you will remember the post after Thanksgiving, where there was an epic struggle about the leftovers. Well, this time, my sister’s family took a lot of ham, but there was still a ton left over.  Well, mom tells me to come and “take what you want” from the pile of ham. So, I take about half of the pile, which was enough to feed me for about 2 weeks. Mom looks at me and says, “Take more.” I take half of the remaining pile. “No, that’s too much for me,” she says. Frustrated, I look at her and say, “Mom, how much ham do you want?” “Just a piece or two.” /facepalm
  • It’s like a Snuggie, only better: Best Christmas gift? My “Walk the Slank” Slanket. OK, technically some of the new windows were the best gift, but that slanket is pretty frickin’ sweet.
  • Post Party: So I met up with a gaggle of friends after I got out of work on Christmas day (sorry I missed you, Wormy and MB). They were all loaded. Now, the funny thing about being a “known” blogger is that, invariably, drunk people come up to you and tell you that you can’t blog about what they just did, even if you have no idea of what the hell they are talking about.  This happened last night … and I still have no idea of what was done that I shouldn’t be blogging about.
  • Post Party II: One of the guys I used to hike with informed me that they named a hill on the brutal Rachel Carson Trail after me. The story goes something like this: A few years ago, I was doing the Rachel Carson Challenge. I became dehydrated and confused in this one area I like to call “the Valley of Death.” The valley is essentially a giant “V,” with steep slopes on each side. I didn’t see any markers, and had no idea of where to go. I picked left and climbed up the steep-ass hill, only to find out as I reach the top that I’m going the wrong way. That move pretty much sapped all of my will, and ended my day out. Well, I’ve told the story on the hikes I used to help organize, but now that I can’t go, my buddies tell the story for me. So, the wrong hill is named after me. Thanks guys. LOL.

Merry Christmas!

As we near the magical hour when Santa arrives and drops off loads of goodies (or you go to Midnight Mass or some such to celebrate Jesus’ birth), I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Fantastic New Year.

I think the “Greg and Donny” version of a Christmas Carol sums up my feelings well:

(An aside to Greg and Donny: You guys rock.)

While I have many things to report, the best thing was learning an Italian family recipe that, for whatever reason, my grandma opted not to follow in. It’s called “[something] filling” — basically, it’s similar to a lasagna, except you make it with sauce, rice, hard-boiled eggs, 1 lb. of cheese and tiny meatballs. I just so happened to have all of the ingredients (except for the meatballs), so I’m trying to make it so mom and I can have it for lunch tomorrow.

Of course, this is strictly from memory — which, as I drink, things will get fuzzier. This should be fun and interesting…

I’ll post a blog about making that dish, just for giggles.

Anyway, best wishes to you and yours. Have a kind, peaceful and wonderrific holiday.


Texted wisdom

You know,  there really isn’t a lesson learned in Rudolph. Their opinion of him wouldn’t have changed if he hadn’t saved their asses.

— Message sent by my “twin to a different mother” Holly



So a decision was made last night that defies all of my sensibilities.

We’re going to put up my Christmas tree this weekend.

Stop with the name calling. Stop gasping. No, I haven’t gone more insane. No, I’m not buckling to the store pressure (since they’ve had Xmas stuff out since September).

Normally I wait for the first weekend in December to put anything up. Or, rather, my first day off in December. That’s when I have a few beers, break out the Rudolph DVDs or 1940s Christmas music, turn on the gas fireplace  and get busy. (This also explains why my decorating skills rapidly erode as time goes on.) I may go a tad earlier than that because of work, etc., but the golden rule is NEVER, EVER BEFORE Thanksgiving. EVER. There are certain things in this world that ought not be leapfrogged, and these two holidays are among them.

But this year is different, because Cali is going back to California next week for like 2 months.

*Cue the Matrix music

Without getting into too much detail, Cali wasn’t raised with Christmas. Unlike those of us who were, she doesn’t associate Christmas with grandma making warm cookies, stockings stuffed with candy or oranges, gaudy presents under the tree, luminescent pine trees and Santa with mutant flying reindeer. She associates it with bad music and bad movies. You know George (Jimmy Stewart) from “It’s a Wonderful Life”? She wants to punch him in the face for being such a gigantic pussy. And that’s her words, not mine.

So, the other night, I told her I was thinking about having her helping me put up the tree and decorate it … and the interior of the house … for Christmas. My feeling was that this could be a really unique experience for her, and besides, with the right blend of music, food and booze, it can be a trip. She was rather “Meh” about the idea initially (“Will they even have trees out already?” “Hun, I have a fake one.” “Oh.”) … but then I got an e-mail from her, saying that she’s never done that before, and would like to give it a try.

This is how I envision most of you reacting to this bit of news. "NO TREE?! GAAAAH!"

Now, the really funny part comes up. This will be the first year I actually have a tree to put up. I bought myself a 7-foot faux tree last year after Christmas, because after reading Burgh Baby’s blogs about going “Christmas Crazy,” I figured I should, at the very least, own a tree — even if it is fake. My previous tree is a like a 2-foot one that was my grandma’s — she sent it to me years ago because she didn’t think it was right for me not to have one. So, that one came complete with bad, goofy ornaments that my sister and I would buy at the school fairs and give to her, and all the memories that accompany them. And that misfit tree was all I needed. It’s awesome. I love it. (I also have a hand knit stocking that my grandmother [dad’s side] made me while I was in college. I love that thing, too. )

"Santa, he didn't buy ornaments when he bought his tree. What a cheap fuck."

However, after I bought the big tree, I didn’t bother to buy ornaments, tinsel or any other decor for it. I guess that means I’ll be going shopping for the ornaments and such on my days off — which should be a trip and a half. See, I can’t buy a “uniform” set of ornaments. I grew up with patchwork decorations. That misfit tree’s ornaments have dates painted on them (and some are almost as old as Cali). It’s like seeing old friends every time that little tree goes up. So I’ll be looking for memorable ornaments — something that reminds me of good times and good memories. And that pile will grow as I add more over the years.

And this is exactly the type of feelings/memories that I want to impart to Cali. This year’s Christmas will be memorable for me for many reasons — this year’s ornaments will always remind me of her, and her first time decorating for  it. It’s also the first year that I had my own big Christmas tree, and the first (and hopefully ONLY) time I put my tree up before Thanksgiving. And those memories are the kind I love to keep in the back of my mind, and smile stupidly about, when I start decorating again next year.


The Wrap-up

So, Christmas is now officially over, and here’s the conclusions:

1) Poll results: According to my poll of those of you who could be bothered to put down your axes, 86% of you believe that Santa always wraps gifts. Hurray! The barbarian readership has spoken, and no heads were lopped off. I’m proud.

1a) Kudos: I got mega-points for my choice in wrapping paper — it was Rankin/Bass “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” characters. Who rocks? I do.

2) Random Santa: I like to play random Santa every year, in which I stumble across something and absolutely HAVE to get it for someone who normally would probably just get a Christmas card. This year, my lead-footed friend who lost her license (paperwork hadn’t gone through that she had paid her tickets) got a “The cops never think it’s as funny as you do” magnet, and another got a “Some like ’em furry” magnet, since she has a love of men’s beards. Both not only made the recipients nearly cry from laughter, but other people came up to me and said, “Wow, those are freakin’ great!”

2a) Random Santa’d: A person who is a friend of a friend (and we chat on Facebook) sent me cookies. That was freakin’ AWESOME, and completely unexpected — I had a huge grin on my face the day I got them. And my good friend Corey has a gift coming to me that is also unexpected — and she’s an awesome gift-picker. Last year, she got me a Viking nutcracker, which is so delightfully kitsch that I MUST proudly display it on the fireplace mantle, right next to my Labrador nutcracker. So, whatever she found, I know it’s gonna be good.

3) Nutcrackers: Why the hell do I have so many of these things? I think I have 2 fancy ones and 2 “practical” ones. Do I eat shelled walnuts? No.

4) Nuts: I told mom that I don’t really do candy, so she bought me about 5 tins of nuts. Of course, none of them need a nutcracker. I’m still baffled. I think Alzheimer’s is setting in early.

5) Beer: Earlier this year, mom asked me what kind of beer I liked. She wanted to get me something small, because I usually just ask for cash for Christmas (what can I say, my insurance is due on Dec. 26 — so cash is always good). So, I told her a 6-pack of St. Nikolaus Bock would be awesome. What did I get for Christmas? A CASE of St. Nikolaus Bock. “The distributor doesn’t sell 6-packs — and that stuff’s expensive!” Oh mom. If only you knew about this concept called “6-pack shops” … but I’m kinda happy you don’t.

6) Spreading random cheer: After Christmas dinner, I opted to go hang out with some friends down at Jack’s on the South Side. While there, I saw someone who I swore looked like Mindbling (from her video). Turns out, after a brief introduction from my buddy CurtO, it was. I wish I could have gotten a picutre of the expression on her face when I introduced myself — it was classic! “THE Three? HOLY SHIT!” I don’t know if I’m deserving of an article in front of my psuedoname (let alone an italicized one), but her energy and drunken happiness demanded it. It was awesome to talk to her in person. As we chatted, it became clear that there has only been like 1 to 1.5 degrees of separation between us since I’ve been back. Same friends, similar employment, similar haunts — it really is just flat-out odd that we didn’t bump into each other before this. Oh, and Cousin was there (you may remember her as playing the part of “Stumpy” in MB’s “Stumpy, the One-Legged Stripper” Christmas song), but she was so crushed that when she attempted to do a re-enactment of the hopping around on 1 leg, she had to balance on CurtO and MB. Funny stuff!

So, overall, no Christmas complaints. Well, except that I need to get out there and get some decorations and such for next year. I think I want to do it up right in the future. And the future is now (at low low prices!).


Merry Christmas!

Some St. Nicks make you jollier than others.

Now THAT's Xmas cheer!

I was going to write a sappy entry about what being back home for Christmas means to me — but you know, instead, I’m just gonna keep that particular feeling to myself. Some things are better left unpublished. But if you could see the giant grin on my face (and no, it was not brought on by too much St. Nikolaus Bock from Penn Brewery), the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, the Christmas shows playing on the LCD and the fire in the fireplace, it’d tell you all you need to know.

So, to my friends and readers new and old, Merry Christmas!
May you know nothing but peace and happiness in the upcoming year!


And if you don’t believe in/celebrate Christmas, then ….

Maximus says Have a day!

"Have a day!"

[Insert appropriate greeting here.
It should involve peace, happiness and a
spry, gift-giving chinchilla named “Harvey.”]


(And, for whatever reason, I’m really getting excited about the new year. New friends, new experiences, new adventures! Woo!)


(And for you MMOers and video gamers out there…)

(… and after watching the nephews engage in “Gift Orgy II: This Time It’s Not Just Sweaters and Socks” later on today, I will be with friends from at Jack’s on the South Side, attempting to drown my headache.)

Follow me, Twittering fools!


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