I hope that wherever you are, you are safe, you are well, and whether alone or in a bubble, you are contented.
I hope that wherever you are, you are safe, you are well, and whether alone or in a bubble, you are contented.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting and visiting; I’ll be taking a little time away over the next week and may not be as attentive to my blog.
I send you Season’s Greetings! Whether you are in a big family group or are looking forward to some alone-time, I hope you enjoy the next few days. 🙂
I first published this post in 2012, not long after I started this blog. I was particularly annoyed about how pushed I felt to participate in the buying of stuff and produced this rant. I’ve made a few changes to it but otherwise, here it is again, in all its grinchy glory.
Ahhh … Christmas. That time of the year when people bolt madly about the mall, foaming at the mouth, their eyeballs rolled back in their heads; I sometimes wonder if we’ve mixed up the seasons and I’m seeing a replay of last Halloween’s midnight showing of Night of the Living Dead.
There’s been a couple of different versions of this movie with slightly different names, but you know. The one where the good guys are all trapped in a mall and their numbers gradually dwindle until there’s only two or three of them left, and they’ve run out of ammunition and water and toilet paper and they have to decide which one of them is going to dash out among the monsters to get to the only working vehicle that’s left in a radius of 100 km. Why didn’t they think of that before they trapped themselves in the mall?
Anyway, I’m digressing. Or maybe not. I don’t think that glancing around at the mall decorations would be any indication of what month it is anyway. Back in October I found myself tripping over the jingle bells while hunting for the Halloween pumpkins.
Or maybe that was Peter Rabbit.
I can’t tell any more. The so-called special occasions are all starting to morph into each other. The only thing I do notice is the surge in mania that accompanies this time of year.
It starts with Christmas music that’s supposed to put us in a seasonal frame of mind and get us to start parting with our cash as early as possible. The earlier we start, the more we’ll spend! Or some such reasoning. All it does for me is to get me going on my seasonal vocabulary, as in “Oh fudge, it’s ‘deck the halls’ again.”
Really, you say? Well, not really. My language tends to be rather … er … spicier. The fact is, if I hear those piped in carollers fa la la-ing one more time I’m going to hunt them down and strangle them with their own holly out in the parking lot. Shouldn’t they be done with that whole decking the halls thing by now anyway? They’ve been at it since they chased the headless horseman out of town months ago.
Then we’re supposed to decorate anything that stands still for longer than two seconds. Since the stores start this at the end of September, the passive-aggressive suggestion to the rest of us is that if we don’t buy our lights and holly and tinsel and get them up soon, we’re all really the worst kind of lazy procrastinators who probably don’t even separate our whites and our colours when we do the laundry, if we do the laundry.
We’re supposed to have a theme, and mulled wine stewing on the stove, and our houses are supposed to reek of pine needles and fresh cookies.
At my house, it’s more like this: theme – getting the laundry done this week without having a nervous collapse; baking – finding that pair of dirty socks that has been baking under the bed for so long that they’ve started growling; Christmasy smells – getting out the PineSol and cleaning the bathroom; mulling – trying to remember all the stuff I have to do this week and why it is that I’m doing it; wine – falling upon any wine that I can find and drinking it straight from the bottle before collapsing into the recliner and falling asleep and snoring in front of the news.
The next step in this nightmare on Mistletoe Street is the shopping. I hate shopping at the best of times but during December it’s demented. People don’t even know what they’re doing. All they know is that they have to buy twenty presents and get them wrapped up or there’s going to be hell to pay.
Living dead, indeed.
One pair of silver-plated, self-cleaning, automatic nose hair pluckers. Just what Auntie Jo always wanted.
If you can lift it, get it. Drag it over to the till and wait for an hour in the line. Find out what it is when you get home. Cover it in two hundred dollars of paper and stick it under the tree.
Then there’s jolly old Saint Nickle Ass. Ho, ho, ho. Sitting there cringing, his knees covered in a sheet of clear plastic, hearing the supplications of the tiny
teenagers toddlers, an example for sociologists everywhere of how greed can outweigh sheer terror.
The merchants are rubbing their hands with glee …er … delight, warmed through and through with the spirit of Christmas cash … er … past.
The kids are wound up so tight their eyeballs are bulging. The list of what they want is terrifying and you better hop to it because they’ve got Granny held hostage up in the attic. Who says that this generation suffers from entitlement?
Anyway, I’ve got to go. I’ve got to carve my jingle pumpkin and deck the halls with zombies. Fa la la la la la la la la la.
What is it about the season that makes you want to channel your inner Grinch?
At this time of year, there’s always a fight with the fruitcake gods … or whatever, so I dug up this old piece 😉 from three years ago.
RuleofStupid has this great New Year’s idea! Think about joining up!
C4C had an amazing year. There were 149 different visitors just on the day, with 1,635 comments. Last year we had 335 comments, which means we had over 500% more chat this year!
Partly I think the new system made it easier to manage, and easier for visitors to navigate. Of course, the sprawling readership of Rara helped, as did the numerous people who posted badges. My thanks to everyone.
There was talk about doing C4C for other times of year. Perhaps I’d need to change the blog name for that? And not to Company for Valentines Day which unlikelyexplanations pointed out would be C4VD! Ick! We will see.
Meanwhile, this next bit might be easier, and also a bizarre experiment of a kind.
I can’t help but think that watching the new year traverse the planet through the window of C4C comments…
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I have an uneasy relationship with fruitcakes.
You know, the stuff you eat. Well, I suppose you eat it. I mean, from what I’ve heard, no one eats it. It gets shoved into the back of some cupboard, or into the corner of a freezer, and there it stays until is discovered, like an Indiana Jones artifact. You have to dig it out with a pick.
And by then, it will have acquired the density of a hockey puck.
But my questions is, if so many people hate it, why does it keep showing up on store shelves? Somebody must be buying this dreck.
And what about the people who make them?
If you stop and think about it, there’s an awful lot of fruitcake around at this time of the year, and if you can find one person who says he or she likes it, then you’re farther ahead than me, my friend.
My mother used to make fruitcakes. She would start in September so that they would age properly.
“Age” properly??? I don’t get it. They are the only thing on the face of the planet that doesn’t age.
If Armageddon were to occur tomorrow, the only thing left would be fruitcake. It would be a sea of fruitcake. You would have to elbow the fruitcake out of the way. Every fruitcake that everyone in the world has ever been hoarding would float to the surface, bobbing there like little brown pontoon boats.
Sorry. I just had to have a mini-rant.
Anyway. Once she had made them, she would store them in cake tins and every couple of days, she would take them out and paint them with rum.
Now, I’m half French. And I was raised mostly around my French relatives. And to me, and them, the whole fruitcake thing was a complete mystery. Why would you put this lurid neon fruit that you would never eat by itself for fear of contracting a dread disease, into a pan of perfectly good batter, leave it for months, douse it in rum, and then oooh and ahhh over it?
I suppose it had to be doused in rum. That was the only thing stopping it from getting up and walking out and starting its own colony.
Anyhow, once it emerged from hiding, my mother would spend the rest of the holiday coaxing, cajoling and ordering people to eat it.
I mean, I know that there used to be a time when fruit had to be preserved and anything sweet, especially at Christmas, was a delicacy.
But my goodness! We aren’t eating hard tack any more, so what’s with the fruitcakes?
And those blanched nuts on top of it. Yikes! The word “blanched” says it all.
To me, a fruitcake should be made with real fruit, dried or fresh, and not that stuff that has survived a nuclear winter. And if you want to add some real nuts, that’s good, too. I’d be happy to try some fruitcake that has been made with real ingredients.
What about you? Are you a secret lover of fruitcakes? Do you feel that fruitcakes have been unfairly targeted by discriminatory forces? What is your fruitcake opinion?
I’d be delighted to hear from you.
It’s been a while since I did a post!
That’s because I’ve had waaaay too much to do and just trying to keep up with my reader has been difficult.
So here’s what I’ve been doing:
– completing courses that will lead to a major career change. I have a break coming up but I have to study for a big test. Sob.
– working, and right now it’s crazy at work although the end is in sight.
-getting ready for Christmas – and ready to explode because of it.
-shovelling snow. Actually, no. M has been doing that. It’s made me swear a lot, though. The snow, not M.
-whining about snow. Yes, that would be true.
-whining about the cold. Yup. Actually, maybe I should explode. At least that would be warm. And, isn’t this time of year supposed to generate warmth around my heart cockles? What are cockles, anyway? If I didn’t know better, I would say that they’re teeny tiny c***s.
-whining about having to dodge snowbanks while out in the cold on my way to the mall. Yay.
– whining about being overworked and tired. Check.
– whining about hearing “The Little Drummer Boy” for the 1, 274, 451 st time. If I catch him, I’m going to shove those drum sticks down his weird little throat. He should be playing computer games, not following babies and playing his drum for them.
– whining about that creepy little oaf, er, elf, who keeps trailing people around the mall and squawking at them in a high-pitched voice to buy stuff.
-whining. Really, the only whine I want comes out of a bottle. The whine that comes out of me is boring. But I have to. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be me.
And I gotta be me. Who else would want the job?
What delicious pre-Christmas things have you been up to?
Am I hallucinating, or is it still September? Because yesterday, I went into one of the local hardware stores and what to my wondering eyes should appear but eight rows of Christmas lights, and icicles, and pre-lit Christmas trees. Just remove from box.
Standing there in my shorts and sandals, I was sure that I was experiencing some sort of flashback.
My gag reflex is working overtime but it seems I have to start swallowing some Christmas pudding already.
I’m no marketer, but are there really that many eager Christmas light buyers in September? Or is it as I suspect – that we have to suffer this nonsense every year because it’s being shoved down our throats? And earlier and earlier?
Next thing you know, Peter Rabbit‘s bunny trail is going to be covered in tinsel. He won’t know whether to crap an egg or lay a turd.
It’s nauseating. Pass the Christmas pudding.
We haven’t even had Thanksgiving or Hallowe’en yet. Ho ho ho.
And I’m offended and appalled at the idea of Remembrance Day poppies having to compete with candy canes and tiny reindeer. It’s crass, disrespectful and downright ignorant.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Christmas. But commercial enterprises are trying to turn it into a year-round, debt-inducing crusade for stuff-buying.
Do I need to learn to accept the fact that Christmas has nothing whatsoever to do with spirituality, the winter solstice, family, food and fun and everything to do with masses of lucre and just shut up and stop whining?
Or should we be making our opposition – for many of us, anyway – to this charade known? Apparently, 68% of Americans don’t want to be exposed to Christmas advertising before Thanksgiving, which in their country, takes place at the end of November. I’m sure that in Canada, the numbers are similar.
Hang on a second. Let me throw up first, and then I’ll choke down some more Christmas pudding.
Well, it could have been worse, I suppose. I could have been lying on a cold, rock-strewn slope, the victim of an avalanche with two broken legs, gangrene setting in, wolves gathering in the closing twilight and no coffee left. On the other hand, it could have been a lot better. I could have been lying on a beach in the Dominican Republic, gin and tonic in hand, with nothing to do but crisp in the sun. Or I could have been sitting in a little Montreal bistro with a nice glass of wine while waiting for some beautifully prepared boeuf bourguignon. But nooo.
I think it’s probably apropos for me to spare some of you the gruesome details, but if only one person is saved by what I have to say here then it will have been worthwhile for me to have re-lived this horrific experience.
I was not lacking in gear, preparation or organization. I had plenty of re-usable, environmentally friendly cloth bags. I had a list. I even remembered to bring the list along. I arrived early, budget firmly in place. I was well-rested and fed. I had comfortable shoes, a water bottle and a thermos of coffee. I was ready!
Yes, dear reader. I was tackling the – cue the theme from Jaws – Christmas shopping list. I finally gave in. It had to be done. There was no way around it.
I entered the mall at nine thirty in the morning and noted that at that hour, the place was quiet and almost deserted. A lone security guard strolled nonchalantly, occasionally glancing in the windows, yawning and taking sips from his coffee cup. It was the perfect time to get the dreaded operation done. Yes!! I congratulated myself and patted myself on the back and grinning and chuckling to myself I started poking about, mentally comparing the wares on display with the requirements of my list. I hummed some old tunes and loafed along, secure in the knowledge that soon I would be safely back home, mission accomplished and feeling a certain degree of superiority over the lesser types who wait too long or are too late or both. I was, of course, tempting fate, Murphy’s Law and all manner of biblical imprecations about pride going before a fall and all that.
I arrived at “Santa’s Workshop,” famous in song and story as the scene of many family breakdowns while parents force their bawling and terrified offspring to sit on the Bearded One’s lap and have a photo taken. I don’t blame them. Who wants to sit on some weird-looking stranger’s lap while he booms ho ho ho at you in a thunderous voice that could scare the crap out of you and often does? What makes parents think that this is cute? The poor kid may as well be sitting on Darth Vader’s lap. Afraid that I might start having flashbacks, I nipped past as quickly as I could, even though all was quiet and Santa and the elves were hiding somewhere and sleeping it off.
As I turned a corner, I ran into an old friend who invited me to join her and her husband in a cup of Christmas cheer. They were so gracious and kind that I couldn’t refuse. We wound up sharing the cheer much later than I had anticipated, but I declined their kind offers of a lift home. If one is going shopping then one is going shopping, and no joking about it. I assured them that I would take a taxi home and wandered out of the restaurant and into the now crowded and noisy mall. Since I was all mellow, this ceased to bother me and I fished my trusty list out of my pocket for further perusal.
I was meandering down a perfume aisle, lost in the contentment of my mellow mood when I both heard and smelled a small boy who was bawling and roaring for his mother. He was either so scared that he had pooped his pants or he had been forced to sit on Santa’s lap. I tried looking around for his mom but couldn’t spot anyone nearby except for a rather large security guard one aisle over who was energetically chastising two adolescent boys for slinging hockey pucks at each other.
I tried to get the guard’s attention while hanging on to the small child so that he wouldn’t wander any farther, but this was proving to be difficult as he screamed even louder and tried to squirm out of my grasp. I was becoming less mellow by the second. Suddenly the guard turned toward me and impaled me with a look that would freeze mercury. He came striding over and demanded to know what I was doing. I was somewhat mesmerized and distracted by his unibrow which hung over his face like a kind of awning. What Period is this guy supposed to be, anyway? Triassic? Jurassic? He had lots of stuff all over his uniform – about four different kinds of radios, mace, handcuffs – have you noticed lately how the police and security types have about 50 pieces of crap dangling from their persons? It must take two hours to get ready to go to work, and especially this guy, who would also have to spray-paint his eyebrow into place.
He had a mean look about him. A frustrated look. The kind of look that says, “I may have flunked out of police school but this mall is mine and I’m going to get you whether you did anything or not.”
I tried to organize my thoughts enough to explain that the little boy had lost his mom but I was cut off in mid-babble with, “Have you been drinking?” Visions of spending a night in a concrete room with alien roommates danced through my head, but didn’t impart any sense of caution, or sugar plums, either.
I didn’t know that the Temperance League was out and about and chasing down malefactors. In fact, I didn’t even know that they still existed. I was about to make a sophisticated and sarcastic retort along the lines of “fuck off”, but was interrupted by the return of the boy’s mother, who when she saw him also started bawling. The two of them kicked up a racket that could be heard on Easter Island. I backed slowly and carefully away – I saw my chance to escape and took it. Stumbling out to the main entrance I flagged down the first taxi I could find and headed home.
I count myself as lucky. Like people who escape a cult consider themselves lucky. I got the message, and it’s one I’m happy to receive. Avoiding Christmas shopping is like avoiding narcissists – may the force be with you and protect you from yourself.