Door to Door Holiday Sales

It’s that time of year again. Time for students of all ages to make the rounds of the neighborhood – and for parents to hit up their colleagues, with holiday-time fundraisers. You know the fundraisers I’m talking about – the ones that sell 12” x 12” squares of wrapping paper for $10 each, 6-piece boxes of candy for $12, and candles for $22. Oh joy.

My son, being 7 years older than my daughter, has been out of high school for a while, and my daughter graduated last year, and while I don’t feel the same inclination to purchase from the neighborhood children as I did from my own, I understand these fundraisers are to benefit the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association). Though admittedly, I’m not quite sure exactly what they fund. I’m sure it’s something worthwhile. At least, I remain optimistic that that’s the case.

Since their goal is to raise as much money as possible (I mean, right?), I can’t help but think that if they switched from holiday trimmings, candies, and baubles to whiskey, liqueur, and wine, they’d double if not triple (quadruple??) their revenues. They’d have no shortage of customers, I’m sure…especially among those parents with kids still in school. Hey, you need something to get through those upcoming parent/teacher conferences, not to mention the holiday break. Hell, they’d make a fortune at my house alone, despite my kids being out of school.

As I go to close the door: “No, I’m sorry, I don’t need gold-plated teeny-tiny squares of wrapping paper. Wait, what?? Baileys, you say?? Get back over here!  You came to the right house.  I think you just surpassed your quota, kid.”

Drinkle Balls, Drinkle Balls, Drinkle All the Way

You know, the holidays will be here before we know it. In my neighborhood there are already Christmas lights up on houses and throughout the town, in shop windows and on street lamps (gotta love that small town quaintness) — some were in place even before Thanksgiving. The residents here, as in many areas, are really into their decorations. I guess, I can’t blame them. In one way or another, Christmas has been celebrated for about 2,000 years — and decorations, both indoor and out, are a big part of that, always have been — at least in recent eras. This year, a distiller in London has figured out how to merge the special magic of a Christmas tree with the possible unbridled consumption of “Christmas Cheer.” I found out about this while looking for articles on ideas for spooky pumpkin faces. Go figure.

For about $40, depending on the exchange rate, you can buy a six-pack of clear plastic orbs with screw-off tops that are designed to be hung on a Christmas tree. Each one contains a little over 1.6 ounces (a large shot) of England’s Lakes Distillers premium whiskey. For about $24, you can buy a “mega” ornament that contains almost 5 ounces of Christmas Cheer!  Have they offered these before? If so, why wasn’t I informed!?

click the pic to find out more about these nifty decorations

When I found out that you could also buy these ornaments filled with gin, vodka, or rum, visions of alcohol soaked sugarplums danced in my head. Coupled with my discovery of the fact that whiskey Advent Calendars are also a thing (I mean, seriously where have I been??), I realized there was now a way to become gloriously semi-conscious throughout the season.

I mean, honestly, how cool is this!? Click the picture to read the article.

Being somewhat analytical by nature, I decided to look at the pros and cons of festooning my tree with these ornaments, and the role of an alcohol laden Advent Calendar in the house.

PROS:

  • The unique molecular construction of ethanol (alcohol) will diffuse the light from the tree lights, casting a warm glow of hospitality throughout the room. Yay science!
  • Deciding to hang booze on your tree will impress your friends. My friends, at least.
  • If you are close to losing your mind from watching Burl Ives narrate the Rudolph cartoon for the 19th time, you can lean over and casually pop open an ornament.
  • When you find yourself getting sucked into a political argument with a relative, toss an ornament to them and say, “Hey, Uncle Fred! Put this in your pie hole.” He will thank you and soon forget just what he was carrying on about. Or in the alternative, you can drink one or two or three, and soon not care a hoot about Uncle Fred and his conspiracy theories.
  • These are great for tree-trimming parties. Just be sure your neighbors know the ground rules: “The Drinkable Balls are for the tree, the eggnog is for the guests.”
  • The orbs are reusable. Save the empties until next year. Or hell, refill them throughout the current year. Recycling at its best!
  • The reward aspect of the whiskey Advent Calendar will help to motivate you to get to December 25th by giving you a reason to wake up each day. Oh, don’t roll your eyes at me…we all know how crazy the holidays can be, especially if you have a large, contentious family visiting for the season. Of course, you have to pace yourself…you don’t want to run out by December 2nd. Not saying I would…but, well, you just never know.

CONS:

  • The Drinkle Balls must be placed near the top of the tree to keep tiny hands from trying to find out why these ornaments are so special. Of course, I don’t have that problem any more since my kids are older, so…yay me!
  • Studies have shown that households with high levels of stress usually consume all the balls within two days of being put on the tree. Don’t look at me. They’re not talking about me. Are they? No, no, I mean, no, of course not.
  • Set ground rules for visitors. “My tree is NOT an open bar!” should be your ongoing mantra.
  • Drinkle Balls are filled with whiskey. Whiskey is ethanol. Ethanol can also be used as rocket fuel. It’s okay if you don’t believe me. I swear I read it somewhere but for the life of me, I can’t remember where. But I do know (common sense, people!) that a Drinkle Ball placed too close to hot Christmas tree lights could cause the whiskey to heat and explode, turning your Christmas Tree into a Saturn V rocket launch.
  • On the other hand, the whiskey themed Advent Calendars need to have a time lock to prevent doors from being opened before the date arrives. It would be a real downer to see that you’ve already used the whiskey shots up to 12/24, and it’s only 12/10. Again, not saying I would do that, but…oh, who am I kidding? I would so do that.

What the heck, I think I’m going to get some Drinkle Balls this year.  I mean, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

It’s for Arts and Crafts!

So, I saw this today at the local coffee shop — apparently it was a leftover from a holiday arts and crafts and coffee and wine night they had at the shop last week. I thought they would make cute little gift-tags to add to the outside of everyone’s Christmas presents next year and vowed to steal borrow the idea. Even I could make something like this and hey, it gives me a reason to drink more wine throughout the year…I mean, I need used corks for the project, right!? It’s good to have goals.

 

reindeer-2-copy

 

 

The Twelve Truths of Christmas

Christmas is nigh. Isn’t that what they say in all the traditional poems? I admit it; I enjoy this time of the year.  Spending an hour untangling all the lights for the porch, only to find that strand you meticulously hung over the tree at the side of the house has a burnt-out bulb and is rebelliously unlit. People grimacing festively in an attempt to appear happy in the lines of Walmart as they are regaled with Holly Jolly Christmas for the thousandth time. Just while standing line. Arguing over “dibs” on the last box of generic, non-gender specific, all holiday inclusive non-religious box of cards left on the shelf. Okay. I will admit that I absolutely love holiday cards. I specifically look for ones that focus more on nature or animals or snow-covered lanes…but I adore them all and have quite the collection. I have so many that if I never bought another card, I would be well into my 80’s before I ran out. My daughter Sarah has forbidden me to buy any more for this year, but I have news for her – I’ll just hit the sales after Christmas to restock my stash for next year! That’s what she gets for not being more specific on her stationery ban.

I have, over the years, found some things that never change.  I know you are reading this on your phone, hiding from guests in the bathroom at your party.  So, pull up a bottle, or box (I don’t judge), of wine and enjoy these Twelve Truths of Christmas.

  1. Santa Claus is a better weapon than any other ever devised.  If they had an adult version of Santa Claus, there would be no crime.  Threatening an adult with “if you don’t return that library book, Santa will bring you coal” would be very effective, if only the price of coal wasn’t enough to make that threat a welcome alternative to vacuum cleaners and cookware.  Poor Santa is already the most used threat in the world of children, with threats beginning December 26 and lasting through December 24 of the next year.  I personally prefer Krampus-themed threats – but that’s just me, and admittedly I’m not the best parenting role model.
  1. Facebook will post over 12 million pictures of dogs wrapped in garland sitting under the tree, trees knocked over with expensive ornaments shattered on the ground and shame-faced pets standing nearby, and cat butts sticking out of the top of the tree branches. Each picture will be accompanied by a thoroughly appropriate “Aww, how cute.” The posters of such cliché comments, however, are actually thinking to themselves “my precious Fido and Buttons would never dream of doing such a thing…they are just so well behaved.” Then, of course, precious Fido and Buttons become just another Facebook statistic by knocking over the tree and everyone posts the required “Aww, how cute.”  The circle of Facebook life is now complete.
  1. If you want to believe in the power of last minute redemption, look no further than kids in December. For eleven months out of the year, Billy and Sally Mae are hellions.  Rude, obnoxious, spoiled hellions.  The magic of the season strikes on December 1st, and suddenly these two future ax murderers are the picture of perfectly behaved children.   They must be on to something, because every year Santa brings them cool stuff no matter how naughty they were the first part of the year.  This reminds me of felons who find sudden clarity and remorse in court when faced with jail.  Not to say that Billy and Sally Mae are future felons or anything. But, you know, just saying.
  1. At least a third of the presents you buy will be for people you don’t really know. Of that third, half will be for people you don’t even like.  In the true spirit of the holiday, you will be buying gifts for your mailman, the teacher who grades on a curve, your kid’s bus driver, the guy who serves you coffee at McDonald’s, and your sister’s hairdresser’s brother.  You will take one heroic step more in the spirit of the season and get “something small” for the janitor at your son’s school, even though you don’t know his name and he sort of creeps you out.  Yay, Christmas!
  1. Whoever wrote those impassioned songs about the joys of holiday shopping has never had a fistfight with an 82-year-old grandmother in Toys-R-Us over a Hatchimal. Don’t worry that you don’t even know what the hell a Hatchimal is. No one does. Shopping brings out the worst in all of us.  The tension, the pressure, and the expense stretches our nerves to the breaking point.  We play right into the greedy hands of manufacturers who, every year like clockwork, deliberately under-manufacture the hottest items on the toy list so retailers can hike the prices to unreal levels while at the same time creating a shortage vs demand situation.  Shamed parents will pay those prices so that Billy and Sally Mae don’t miss out on the toy of the year. The same toy that will sit in the dark of the closet after about an hour of play – if you’re lucky.   Normally pleasant people find themselves being unpleasant; I can assure you, 82-year-old grandmothers can still have a wicked left hook.
  1. There is a reason there is so much talk of holiday spirits. Tis the season for eggnog.  And spiked cider. And wine.  And even just plain beer.  This is the true “holiday spirit.”  The stress can cause even the most well balanced individual to crawl inside a bottle of rum and stay there until the New Year.
  1. The sales, commercials, and songs begin earlier and earlier each year. Don’t even get me started on store decorations. They won’t stop until the first official shopping day of Christmas is Labor Day. Hey, Christmas!  Thanksgiving called, and it wants its week back.
  1. The reason you waited until the last minute to buy Aunt Gertrude’s present is because you have no idea what to get her. Unfortunately for Aunt Gertrude, you still have no idea; and your imagination is all used up after buying for fifty-hundred other relatives and she is getting a pizza scented candle from Walmart because that was the only scent they had left on the shelf.  Wait; do they actually have pizza scented candles?  What a great idea! It’s mine, people…no stealing.
  1. The Elf on the Shelf is Santa’s spy. Spying is treason. Treason is punishable by death. Don’t blame your kids for trying to drown the Elf on the Shelf.  They are merely doing what is required by law.
  1. It’s hard to feel jolly when your credit cards and bank accounts are giggling behind your back. On an unrelated note, you can sell blood plasma for about $50 a pint.  True story, Google it.
  1. No matter how hard you try to pull off the perfect holiday get together, your dog will poop out tinsel in the hallway, your cat will get stuck in the tree, you will put your 8 pound ham in the oven at 9 AM and forget to turn the oven on, your child will pee on the neon green, orange and puce comforter that you bring out once a year because Auntie Evelyn knitted it by hand and will be coming over tonight, and you will use cooking alcohol in a “one for the recipe, one for me” kind of way not recommended by the cook book. It happens. To everyone. Get over it early and you just might survive.
  1. Christmas is a flawed holiday, perfect in all its imperfections. Slow down and enjoy every moment of this totally impossible, thoroughly enjoyable holiday because it passes all too fast.

Scared Straight

‘Tis the season when we Christmas-lovin’ folk start looking at the world through red and green colored glasses. We’re rushing to buy trees, hoarding the best milk for those cold nights when hot cocoa will be divine, making space on our mantle where fuzzy stockings will be hung, and whispering stories into our children’s ears about an evil demon that will drag them to hell if they don’t behave.

Wait…what!? Did you just hear a record scratch?

That story of Santa?  Boring! What a goodie-goodie that guy is. He rewards the good kids with gifts. Effective enough, I guess. But there’s the lesser known Bizarro Santa known as Krampus, a horned beast concocted by Germanic and Eastern European countries (with original ties to Norse Mythology) to scare kids and keep them on the straight and narrow path throughout the year. How you ask? Well, it’s simple really…Krampus threatened to stuff the bad children into his doggy bag and take them down to the fiery pits of his lair where he would feast on them at his leisure if they dare step out of line. Now that’s what I call problem solving.

Santa is to Superman what Krampus is to Batman. Santa is an out-and-out hero with a seriously naive outlook on the goodness in the world and caters to that, while Krampus is that creature lurking in the shadows of Gotham inducing terror into any wrong-doers until they straighten themselves out. Superman may get the sponsorships but Batman gets the results.

Just try it. If your kid’s throwing a tantrum in the aisle at Toys R’ Us, use the good ol’ Santa card and see if your howling monster of an offspring snaps to attention. Maybe you’ll get lucky, maybe not. It sure didn’t work in the case of the child throwing a fit at the Fresh and Greens last year.

But if you pull out the Krampus threat, I bet he or she will snap to attention a lot quicker knowing their soul is on the line instead of a 10-speed bike. Put yourself in your kids’ shoes for a second and listen to these two phrases:

1) “Santa won’t give you that train set unless you stop yelling.”

2) “Krampus is going to eat you alive and feast on your bones unless you get yourself under control right now.”

I’m no child psychologist but I’m going to take a wild guess that Option #2 might be a tiny bit more effective. You never know until you try, right?

Eastern Europe might’ve been a harsh place to live back in Krampus’ day, but one thing’s for sure, they knew how to keep their kids under control. Seems like there’s a lesson in there some place.

 

Christmas Nerds

So this Christmas is going to be a somewhat lean one for my kids and me – and that’s okay. It’s not something we can’t work through. As we were talking about gift giving for the upcoming holiday, we decided that we’d choose presents we could sort of give to ‘each other’ to share – communal presents as it were, within a certain cost range.

Rather than purchase several gifts for each of us individually, we would choose a special gift that my son and I would give each other to share that would benefit the “whole” and, likewise, a gift that my daughter and I would give each other that would benefit the “whole.” You get the idea.

Anyway.

The choice of presents was theirs and theirs alone…I left that up to them and figured I would be content with whatever they decided. I just wanted them to be happy. They could’ve chosen anything. Here’s what they came up with. Needless to say, they did my geeky little heart proud. Our mutual love for Marvel Comics and Doctor Who runs deep. I love, love, love my Christmas nerds!

Sarah's Choice (to add to our Marvel collection)

Sarah’s Choice (to add to our Marvel collection)

Jake's Choice (we're all Whovians in this house)

Jake’s Choice (we’re all Whovians in this house)