HE CELEBRATES THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. I’VE ALREADY TAKEN MY TREE DOWN.

This week’s post by staff writer Rigby Rat discusses Christmas celebration.

 

 

That’s too bad… that you’ve already taken your tree down. It is also too bad that stores abruptly pull their Christmas stock on December 24th, radio stations stop playing Christmas music on the 25th, and Christmas trees are left at the curb – all before The Twelfth Day of Christmas.

If you stop and think about it, very few people truly celebrate Christmas. Christmas season is twelve days. Hence, The Twelve Days of Christmas – the period (the spiritual feasts) between Christmas Day and the Epiphany. People who do not celebrate The Twelve Days of Christmas are not lauders of the Advent (the coming of Christ into this world.) Instead, they mindlessly go with the herd and do what most people do during The Twelve Days of Christmas – return gifts, shop for bargains, put the Christmas decorations in storage, and decide which party to attend on New Year’s Eve.

So, more power to your guy for not allowing retailers to dictate to him how he should commemorate the birth of Christ.

How should The Twelve Days of Christmas be celebrated? However your family wants to celebrate it. Some families exchange a gift each day, while others open all their gifts on the Epiphany after Mass. I know several families that do something each day as a unit: visit a museum/place, bake, read a book out loud, burn a Yule log, make Christmas decorations, volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit an elderly person, have a night of board games, play favorite Christmas music, have dinner with friends, hike, read a passage from the Bible.

If you know the true meaning of Christmas, Christmas season does not end on December 25th at 11:59 pm.

Each year, when Christmas rolls around, how much of your faith you want to embrace is up to you. On the flip side, if you decide to marry this guy – who celebrates The Twelve Days of Christmas – remember to discuss your spiritual differences before he puts the ring on your finger. Before you get engaged is the best time to close any and all spiritual gaps so you can live more harmoniously as a couple, and do a stellar job in drawing your children into your faith. Remember, starting a marriage on the same page is always a good thing!

The Best Christmas Ever

This post from staff writer Dallas Fitzgerald recalls his best Christmas ever in a story from his childhood.

 

When I was seven, my parents separated, and in the aftermath of their separation, my mother struggled financially.  She never let me or my brother know how bad it actually was, but when I look back on that period of my life, I realize how hard she worked to make ends meet.

She was working a full-time job and another part-time job from home, and I remember times when she would come home late from her full-time job, make us dinner, and then sit at the desk with her calculator and a stack of papers until we went to bed.  There were times when I would wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and I would see her still sitting at the desk working.

 

When Christmas rolled around that year, my brother and I made our usual lists and gave them to her to give to Santa Claus.  I can’t even remember what I asked for that year, but I remember that when we gave her our lists, she said something like, “Santa’s had a rough year, so don’t be too upset if you don’t get everything you asked for.”

At the time, I thought nothing of it.  Santa doesn’t have rough years, does he?  Or maybe he does.  My seven-year-old brain struggled to make sense of her words, but if anyone would know about the state of Santa’s year, it would be my all-knowing mother.  I struggled to think of a time in all my seven years of existence when she had been wrong about something before, and I couldn’t.  In the end, I decided that perhaps Santa does have rough years.

 

On Christmas Eve, I got sick with a nasty holiday cold.  “Ho, ho, haaachooo,” could be heard all through the house, and instead of going outside on the porch and watching the snow fall from the sky, I was stuck inside the house in my bed with snot falling from my nose.  But my mother was right there next to the bed, picking up my used Kleenexes, taking my temperature, and delivering piping hot chicken noodle soup to my bedside.

 

After a long night of coughing and sneezing and nose blowing, Christmas finally came, and though I still felt greener than the Grinch, I was able to muster up enough holiday cheer to make the trip downstairs to the couch to open presents.

There weren’t many gifts around our tree, and all the boxes were pretty small.  Nothing on my list could fit in any of these boxes, I thought.  I figured my mother was right.  Santa really had had a rough year.

 

I opened the biggest present first.  I eagerly tore at the wrapping paper until it lay in a crumpled heap at the foot of the couch.  I was left with a plain white box, which I opened to discover one of those white Coca-Cola bears that McDonald’s used to sell at Christmas time for a few bucks when you bought something from the menu.

My brother opened his first present, and he got a white Coca-Cola bear too.  We glanced at each other as if to ask, “Did you have this on your list?”  Then we both looked away as if to say, “Me neither.”

I opened my next present, and my brother opened his.  We looked at each other again, “Nope, me neither.”

 

When we finished unwrapping all our presents, we were both left with the entire collection of toys that McDonald’s had offered with their Happy Meals for the month of December.  My mother must have sensed our disappointment because she went into her bedroom to bring out two more presents.

“I got you each one more gift,” she said with a smile.

My brother’s face lit up and so did mine, and we had the presents unwrapped before they even left her hand.  Our eagerness quickly turned to confusion.  I received the movie The Addam’s Family and he received Charlotte’s Web.  We looked at each other one final time, “Nope, me neither.”

 

After sitting in silence for a moment, my mother started talking.

“Santa had to eat McDonald’s Happy Meals for two week straight so you could have Christmas presents this year,” she said, still smiling.

Slowly, smiles broke out across our faces.  We argued over who would get to watch his movie first, and the rest of our Christmas was spent watching the same two movies over and over again until we both fell asleep on the couch.

 

Every year, at Christmas time, I think back to that Christmas.  I remember how sick I was, and I remember how disappointed I was.  At the time, I would have said that that was the worst Christmas ever, but each year, the memory of that Christmas glows a bit brighter.  Each year, I think of that Coca-Cola bear, those Beanie Babies, and those movies, and I am reminded of the strength of my mother’s love for her two sons.  I am reminded that it truly is the thought and the love that is behind the gift and not the gift itself that matters most.  Twenty years later, I think back to that Christmas, and I remember it as the best Christmas ever!

Christmas Day

On a Christmas Day sprinkled with white

Came good wishes from friends, laughter with family

And even surprise good tidings from an ex

There are smells of apple cinnamon

And sounds of Christmas music

And sights of twinkling lights

Though I sit here single and alone

I’m not lonely

Cause while I don’t have around me every loved one

I still feel their love in the distance

And my heart stays warm.

Santa Baby

This week staff writer Frank Friedlander gives us a holiday post those with  young kids can relate to. Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy Holiday!

 

The good news is that we’ve long since finished our holiday shopping. We won’t have to brave the madness that is last minute shopping at the mall. Everything is wrapped and ready to go.

 

Where am I going with this? I’m not quite certain. What I do know is that this will be the first Christmas morning in which Francie is somewhat aware of what’s going on. Her first Christmas, she was four months old and hadn’t a clue. The next year, when she awoke that morning and was given gifts, she was happy then, but again, hadn’t a clue why.

 

This year, she knows Christmas is coming. She knows presents are coming. She may not be quite sure of the exact timeline, but she’s ready. She knows that Santa is bringing her things. She knows who Santa is. She likes Santa, from a distance, anyway. Once she gets close up, that’s a different story; she clings to mommy or daddy like a monkey to a tree. Then when we walk away, she wants to watch him again, from a distance. Kind of like a bird watcher would.

 

Kind of ironic how parents spend eleven months out of the year preaching stranger danger to our children, but that final month, all bets are off. Hey sweetie, see that guy with the beard, funny outfit, and a mug of eggnog? We want you to sit on his lap and tell him everything you want. “Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas,” he bellows.

 

And then we freak out a few months later when she walks up to some random vagrant with similar qualities just because the eggnog has been replaced with cheap bourbon and “Ho! Ho! Ho, Merry Christmas!” has been replaced with “The end is near! Judgment day is upon us! Repent for your sins!”

Candy for Dinner

This week, staff writer Frank Friedlander gives us a look into the relationship between parents and their children. Parents, have you found yourself in a similar situation? What have you done to get some peace?

 

How is it that those without children have all the answers? It seems as though everyone I know without kids is an expert on raising children, and those of us who have them know nothing. I forget the name of the movie, but it’s about how babies have all the answers, but can only communicate amongst themselves. As soon as they cross over into toddlerhood, it’s all unlearned do they can’t tell the grown ups, or something like that. Anyway, that’s similar to parenthood. Before you have kids, you know everything there is to know about parenting. However, the moment the kids come, it’s all unlearned and you become helpless, praying for your childless friends and family to show you the way.

 

“Potty training is easy,” they’ll assure us. “Just take away the diaper and it will come naturally,” they’ll confidently add. Genius! Why couldn’t anyone have thought of such a tactic before? I just hope that 19-year-old “Aunt I- Never-Plan-on-Having-Kids, is as willing to come by to clean up the mess when her master plan epic fails as she is to bestow her infinite wisdom upon us.

 

Believe me, I’ve been on the other side of the coin too. I think back to my days waiting tables. Kids always seem to be drawn to those sugar caddies. They love to sift through those colorful little paper packets and throw them about. And Cheerios; they always seem to have Cheerios. Of course, the Cheerios always end up scattered about on the floor. Once in the while, a few will end up in their mouths, but I assure you that it’s strictly coincidental. Of course the server never says anything about it. What’s going through their mind, and what they gripe about to their fellow wait staff when they walk off is different. “Why can’t these people learn to control their kids,” I remember thinking back then. “One thing’s for sure,” I’d add, “my kids will know how to behave. They sure won’t make some waiters life more difficult because they’re too lazy to keep Junior occupied.”

 

Guess what, eight years later, and if all it takes to keep little Francie busy while we scarf down our meal is to play with the sugar caddy, then all hail the sugar caddy; and the waiter should be happy about it. The more occupied the kids are, the happier the parents are, and the bigger your tip is.

 

One thing’s for sure; I have all the respect in the world for single parents, or those whose spouses work odd hours. When you’re on your own, it’s even harder. Even at home. “What do you want for dinner Francie?” I’ll ask. “Candy,” she’ll reply. “No silly, you can’t have candy for dinner. How about some noodles?” “Candy,” she’ll reply. “Maybe you can have a piece of candy after you eat,” I plead. “CANDY!!!” she says, gyrating in such a fashion in which it would appear as though she’s going to blast into orbit.

 

“Yes ma’am, would you prefer Twizzlers or Gummy Bears?”  No, I don’t give my daughter candy for dinner, no matter how red she turns. But the fact of the matter is: if it gets to the point where you’re trying to rationalize with a two year old, you’ve already lost the battle. If only 25 year old childless me was there to help. He had all the answers.

 

Watch What You Wish For On Your Wedding

Staff writer Rigby Rat‘s post for this week covers the evolution of wedding from something sweet and personal to an ever-growing three-ring circus. Have any of you had or have been a part of a wedding that was more stress than fun and happiness?

Personally, I can’t stand most weddings.  They’re all the same.  Same old printed invitations, same old houses of worship, same old nuptials, same old white wedding dresses, same old bridesmaids/grooms in their Saturday-Night-Fever matching outfits, same old reception halls.  How did weddings get so monotonous, mind-numbing, and mundane?  Blame the brides, grooms, their families, the wedding planners, and the media.  But, especially, the profit-seeking enterprises.

Once upon a time, the joining of two people in holy matrimony was intimate.  Today, weddings are grossly over-planned and over-invited.  And, most disturbingly, they have no warmth, emotion, or personality.

Somebody said to me, “But, Rig, you’re stomping all over tradition.”  No, I’m not.  Like I said, “Once upon a time, the joining of two people in holy matrimony was intimate.”  In addition, the bride did not wear white, or diamonds.  (Do your own research.)  Your grandmothers and great-grandmothers didn’t wear white wedding dresses nor diamonds on their fingers.  Their guest list didn’t include acquaintances (a person known to one, but usually not a close friend).

It is a shame that weddings have turned into huge profit-making spectacles.  When are brides and grooms going to put their collective foot down and stop acting like lemmings?  Come on, think outside the box.  Your wedding day should be different, newsworthy, and historical.  But most of all, it should be intimate and meaningful to YOU, not the guests.

I have been to one intimate wedding that was different and had a lot of personality.  The other wedding no one was invited to, so it was even more intimate!

Wedding 1.  Was held outside on someone’s six acres of property.  The guest list numbered about 40.  Which means everyone got to hang with the bride and groom throughout the day.  Everyone dressed casually – even the groom.  The bride was barefoot and did not wear white or a diamond.  The wedding was performed in such a way that the bride and groom did not have their backs to the guests. Children ran freely.  No waiters or waitresses were around to screw up anyone’s service.  The outdoor air was refreshing.  After the delicious serve-yourself homemade dinner, most everyone changed into shorts and t-shirts and played games: volleyball, softball, cards, backgammon, etc.  And, oh, there was a live band, not some expensive DJ spinning records.  And, oh, because the band members were friends of the groom, they played out of love, not free enterprise.

Wedding 2.  The groom was a movie freak.  The bride, a museum-lover.  He was of Italian descent.  She, Greek.  They wanted no guests at their wedding.  If family and friends didn’t approve; too bad.  It was their day; their moment in history.

In the morning, the couple filled their kitchen with delicious smells: they made Greek and Italian finger food.  Afterward, in the privacy of their home, they recited their own “vows” to one another.  Vows that the couple wrote themselves.  Next, they went to City Hall and said their brief “I do’s”.  Then the fun began!

They rented an old movie theatre.  All for themselves!  YES, A MOVIE THEATRE!  For only $200!  During off hours, of course.  You know the kind – pedal organ in the lobby, ornate ceilings and fixtures throughout.  Their thought was to be alone in a big movie theatre and watch their favorite flick together: JAWS.  No people walking in, no people walking out.  Just the two of them holding hands in a dark, funky, historic theatre.

When they contacted the theatre owner, he was so taken by their unique wedding day idea that he kicked the projectionist out and let the movie run on “auto-pilot.”

The couple’s wedding day didn’t stop there.  A friend of theirs owned a stylish store – in a quaint town – that resembled a mini-museum.  Inside were high-priced Greek and Italian antiquities.  The friend turned the lights down low and locked the couple in the store where they feasted on their pre-made Greek and Italian finger food.  Music from the store’s stereo system wafted through the rooms.  As the sun set, they danced.  They held hands.  They talked.  They kissed.  They strolled the “museum”.  Then they ate some more…

How romantic and unique is that – especially if you’re a movie freak and a museum-lover – renting a movie theatre all to yourselves AND being locked in a store that resembles a museum?

The couple didn’t feel a honeymoon had to come right after the wedding.  So, they went home and slept in their own bed.  I have to say, they are one of the few couples I know who made love on their wedding night.  Everyone else admitted they were too exhausted from the day and the jet ride to Hawaii.

So, watch what you wish for on your wedding day.  Will you make it mundane, or memorable?  Will you think outside the box, or allow friends, family, and profit-seeking enterprises to send you off the cliff with the rest of the lemmings.  It’s your day, don’t be afraid to chuck some – or all – of the rote activities associated with the typical wedding day.  Viva la difference!

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Did You Marry Him For Love?

Ideally, you would want to marry for love AND security, but that isn’t always the case with marriages. This week’s post by staff writer Rigby Rat makes a good point in this article about why marriage shouldn’t be a way to fix your life but a way to enhance it. Married couples, did you marry for love?

Probably not.

Susan married because she was rejected by her first love, Julie married to get away from her parents, and Tamara married because he had money.  It took years, but eventually all three hapless hubbies realized something was missing in their marriages.
Could it have been love?

To fill his void, one husband took a mistress, one became a strip-joint junkie, and one filed for divorce – pissing the children off.  What kid wants to be treated like livestock – uprooted from his/her safe haven and shuffled back and forth every other weekend from Mom’s “house” to Dad’s “house”?  I dare you to name one.

When you enter into a relationship with problems (baggage), chances are
your guy will come to resent your disaffection and your issues.  He’ll be thinking,   “Why is she making her past problems my problems?”   Why indeed?

Always remember, your guy is not a shrink, not a white knight, not a band-aid.  He is the object of your affection, desire, respect, and love.  And, if he isn’t?  Then you married him for the wrong reason.

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Nags…How Men Create Them

Here’s an entertaining article about the creation of the “human nag” by staff writer Rigby Rat. Now men, if you’re going to complain about being nagged, wouldn’t you take care to not cause the situation in the first place. Thomas Jefferson said it best: “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”

 

If your wife asks you to do something, do you do it?  If you don’t, does she ask you a second time?  A third time?  You just created a nag.

 

Why would a guy turn his wife into a nag?  Why, indeed?  But let’s recall who he first turned into a nag: his mother.  She would have said something like this – “Jack, please take out the garbage.  Jack did you take out the garbage?  Jack, if you don’t take the garbage out right now…”

 

Even most dogs – when you tell them once – will respond immediately.  “Come on Rocky, let’s go for a walk.”  And BAM, your dog flies out the front door.  You guys?  You aren’t as frisky, inclined, or as intelligent as a dog when it comes to taking care of business the first time.  Instead, you procrastinate.  And isn’t procrastination an attractive trait in a man?

 

Food for thought: When the mistress asks you over and over and over again to leave the “old ball and chain,” I bet you don’t refer to HER as a nag.

 

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