Scared Straight Redux

I watched the movie Krampus with Adam Scott and Toni Collette again today. Much like The Addams Family at Thanksgiving, this movie is becoming a Christmas tradition in my home.

Anyway, it made me think of this blog entry back from 2014.  Now, to be completely honest, I don’t really condone either Santa bribery or Krampus warnings. Being eaten by Krampus isn’t really something that would have successful follow-thru anyway. Sort of like the Santa incentive, it just falls flat, and would ultimately fail miserably.

I suppose the point of Krampus was to show children there were consequences for bad behavior — a dark moral fairy tale similar to many of the original Grimm fairy tales, or at least, that’s my take on it.

But it does make for entertaining cinema.


Originally  posted 12/5/2014 

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 naïve 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.

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.

Memorial Day Reminder

What with all of the sales flyers that have filled my mail box this past week and the celebratory posts and invites that have been floating through my Facebook feed nonstop, it seems like many people in this country have forgotten what this day means. The photo below truly captures what Memorial Day symbolizes.

Despite what the car dealers or Macy’s or the party planners would have you believe, it’s not about the excellent deal on that gas guzzling SUV or the 50% off sale on shoes you don’t need or that rowdy beer infused BBQ party you won’t half remember on Tuesday at work.

Memorial Day is about giving thanks to our nation’s heroes as we honor those who have fallen in their service to our country.  So enjoy your day, most definitely, in whatever way you decide to do so. But let’s just remember those who made it possible.

“At its core, the nobility and the majesty of Memorial Day can be found in the story of ordinary Americans who become extraordinary for the most simple of reasons: They loved their country so deeply, so profoundly, that they were willing to give their lives to keep it safe and free.” – Barack Obama

Winter is Coming

I don’t know what possessed me — possessed probably being the key word here — but, I ventured out into the world today. You know… among people. And not just regular people either. Mall shoppers. Oh yes. In a fit of misplaced optimism, I decided to try my hand at in-person Christmas shopping. I mean, really. What the hell was I thinking? You tell me, I sure don’t know. It did teach me one thing, however. My disdain for people is nothing if not valid.

Which brings me to this recycled blog post. Oh sure, it’s not Black Friday any longer, which is what prompted the original post. In fact, we’re smack-dab in the middle of the yearly free-for-all we euphemistically call holiday shopping. However, the moral of the story, if you can call it that, is just as relevant today as it was last year. BUT, beware, my friends. Winter is not just coming. It is here. It. Is. Here.

Musings from a Tangled Mind

Friends, danger is upon us. We are approaching that time of year when brother will turn against brother, sister will deceive sister, and strangers will come to fisticuffs over dwindling supplies of cherished treasure. There’s only one thing that can bring the madness in our society to such a fever pitch. Yes, my friends, I’m talking about holiday shopping.

Get those elbows ready for pushing people out of the way (I hear a sale on elbow pads starts today!) and start brushing up on your bob-and-weave coordination, it all kicks off today, Black Friday, and soon it will be followed by an all-out Christmas merchandise assault. I don’t know what it is about good deals, but it truly unleashes the beast in some people. Maybe it’s mob mentality that comes from being in large, billowing crowds of shoppers. It overtakes rational thought about how to treat your fellow Man and…

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Music and Shenanigans

I’m a little late posting this, my apologies. I think, just like my “Happy Thanksgiving, Addams Family Style” post, I will simply post this every year for St. Patrick’s Day. At least until I find something that moves me more than this does, which will be a difficult feat indeed.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland, have a listen to some truly amazing voices. I could listen to them all day. And just might.

The Day After

Well, the holidays are over and presumably we all survived the reunion with our extended — or not so extended, families without too much of a hangover.  I just wanted to remind everyone, keep an eye out…you’ll be seeing Valentine’s candy and Easter eggs in the shops any day now. If you’re really lucky, the stores in your neighborhood will squish St. Patrick’s Day in there somewhere.

If you’re still on holiday break, I hope you have a well-deserved, relaxing time — unless you’re shopping and/or otherwise participating in the Yearly After-Christmas Returns and Sales Craziness, in which case, good luck. May you remain unscathed and without need for bail money. And if you’re back to work today? Well, Godspeed, my friend. Godspeed.

 

 

 

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.”

Another Year, Another Thanksgiving Tradition

I believe it is becoming a Thanksgiving Day tradition — and if it’s not, I hereby make it one — for me to share my favorite movie scene, one that embodies the Thanksgiving Day spirit… or at least the spirit that dwells in my house. So while I wish you all a truly blessed and happy Thanksgiving, without further adieu, may I introduce Ms. Wednesday Addams…at her best. Happy Thanksgiving from me to you — Addams Family style.

 

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.

 

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The Personalities of Christmas

Christmas is just a day away and the journey through hell to visit beloved family is upon many an innocent soul. This yearly event brings together a mish-mash of individuals from extended family to close personal friends, long-time family friends, to who the hell are these people. Every holiday gathering has them. Those people who you don’t know, those people you don’t like, and those people you would never hang out with if they weren’t related to you.  For your convenience, I have listed the personality types you will find at nearly any get-together this season in one easy go-to guide.  Keep this with you at all times; your survival may depend on early identification of The Personalities of Christmas.

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  1. Aunt Edna: Aunt Edna isn’t really anyone’s aunt.  She is just included in holiday gatherings and drinks egg nog while pinching the cheeks of children (anyone under the age of say 30) and clucking annoyingly.  No one knows exactly where Aunt Edna came from, she just showed up one year and kept coming back.  It’s all good though; Aunt Edna makes the best cookies. Just avoid a full-frontal approach if you prefer your cheeks unpinched.
  1. The Gift Giving Overachiever: This is usually a female.  No matter what you give, she one-ups you.  But not in a good way. I know, sounds weird, right? Buy her a thoughtful gift card to her favorite store?  She will give you a hand knitted king-sized comforter she has been working on since last Christmas, knitted with her own hair that she collected from her hairbrush and shower drain.  By the way, here is a matching pillow sham. Start early after the gift-giving ends the year before in a quest to find the weak link aka the newbie to the family who has no idea about psycho overachiever so you can be sure and talk them into trading her should you draw her name again in Secret Santa. Hey, Cousin Joe did it to you when you married into the family so it’s only fair the torch get passed onto the next sucker new member of the family.
  1. The Gift Giving Underachiever: Sorry, guys, but this is usually male.  He is so stressed at the idea of choosing gifts, facing crowds in stores, and Christmas music piped over loudspeakers that he shuts down.  Finally, on Christmas Eve after the stores are closed, he heads out.  His lucky wife will receive a 7-11 coffee mug (with free refills!), a lotto scratch off ticket, and a Valentine’s Day card with “Be My Valentine scratched off” and “Merry Christmas” handwritten across the top. The gift will be wrapped in a grocery store plastic bag and duct tape.
  1. The Pampered Pets:  There are many pet personalities, and everyone loves to bring them all together during the holidays.  Fluffy the cat will be stuck halfway up the tree, and Rocky the dog will be tangled in the Christmas lights (because he chased Fluffy the cat up the tree).  Great, someone, we’re not sure who…but the Ne’er-do-well is looking particularly frizzy and singed…just chewed through the cord to the Christmas tree light and blew a fuse. Tiny little yappers become irresistible to the larger dogs who will chase them with thoughts of sugar plums cannibalism dancing in their little doggy heads.  One especially bad at his job scent hound will shred half the wrapping on each present searching for that elusive squeaker toy or treat that’s sure to be under the tree but getting only that flannel shirt for Grandpa or slippers for Mom, and his owner will frantically try to avoid re-wrapping them by using Band-Aids, staples and Gorilla Glue to fold the paper back around the gifts. It’s okay, though; the Gift Giving Underachiever still has plenty of duct tape to go around.
  1. The Kid Who Still Believes in Santa: You have to buy different types of wrapping paper to wrap the gifts that “Santa” brought and secretly resent giving Santa the credit for the PlayStation under the tree because Santa’s not the one that worked overtime for months to get the money to pay for that thing, dealing with people you already hate and not sleeping just to work double shifts and…and oh nevermind, it’s the thought that counts, right? You will invest in letters from Santa, and brave the frigid night to go out and place reindeer footprints on the roof and lawn. You may be really dedicated and invest in reindeer poop to throw in your yard. You’ll stay up late at night or else set the alarm for reaaallly early just so you can shake that damned set of sleigh bells ever so slightly to create a buzz of excitement throughout the sleepy house. You threaten vile, murderous acts against the older child and any other family member who feels the truth should be set free for the younger child (and really – how would that look to Santa after all??). And in the end, it’s worth it to see this kid’s face in the morning. After all, you’d do anything to keep him at this innocent age.  But, sadly, he will become:
  1. The Kid Who Finally Realized That Santa Doesn’t Exist: You saw this coming last year when she began to question the logic of a man in a sled pulled by magical flying reindeer breaking into people’s houses to leave gifts in every house across the globe.  Your explanations were getting more and more bizarre as you tried to keep the dream alive by making up stories of Santa having to hire helpers to hang out in malls, using time machines to navigate time zones, and being a millionaire to pay the wages of all the hard-working, unionized elves.  Trying to keep this one away from the Kid Who Still Believes in Santa is a logistical nightmare. Hence the threats of vile, heinous acts against your very own offspring (who, ironically, is doted on the other 11 months of the year). One of these days, you just know Krampus is going to show up on your humble doorstep if not for your lies, then certainly for your threats against a child who simply wants to spill the beans tell the truth.
  1. The Tipsy Sipper: I can identify with this one, just a little bit.  I find that a nice glass, or box, of wine helps holiday parties run a little smoother.  I start my holiday sipping on Labor Day, and usually stop around Valentine’s Day.  Nothing wrong with seeing your friends and family through wine-colored glasses.  The Tipsy Sipper is a lot different from:
  1. Uncle Albert: You already know he snuck a flask into the party, spiked the punch bowl, and is currently telling deep, dark family secrets to the mailman and anyone else who will listen.  You will eventually find him in the shrubbery out front, sprawled out in his Santa boxer shorts and tangled in Christmas lights that used to hang ever so brightly and prettily on the gutters, yelling incoherently at the sky about something that happened to cause Cousin Jack and Cousin Harold to stop talking back in 1956 while the neighbors live stream him in all his glory to Facebook.
  1. Cousin Gertrude: When you hear Cousin Gertrude is coming, you can’t help rolling your eyes. “No! Who invited her?” someone will inevitably say. “Well, she IS family after all,” someone will reply…as if that makes it okay.  If you are lucky, Cousin Gertrude will be on her medication and sitting quietly on the couch, meditating or doing yoga. If she is off her medication, she will be sitting in a corner, mumbling to herself and laughing as she watches the wall while the family pretends not to notice. No one ever wants her to try to reenact what she sees on the wall like she did last year (we’re all still trying to recuperate from that fiasco), so it’s better to just go about your business and not encourage her.
  1. The Crafty One: Pinterest has nothing on this one.  The Crafty One, armed with a glue gun, a piece of felt and a paperclip will MacGyver a multi-cultural animated holiday centerpiece worthy of the White House.  Your construction paper napkin rings never had a chance, no matter how much glitter you put on them.  She also sewed her own Christmas dress and is currently fabricating a sports sedan in the garage out of tin cans and pallets. She is nothing if not perfect and was put on God’s green earth to make all others feel inadequate but what comes out of her mouth is a pseudo-humble “Oh, this thing? It’s just a little something I threw together!” I suggest hitting the punch bowl early.
  1. The Cook: “I just brought a little snack,” says the Cook as she unloads a U-Haul of covered dishes and crock pots into your house. The Cook is usually a sweet great-grandmother who learned to cook southern style.  Her food is stick to your ribs old-fashioned goodness, but everyone will be passed out an hour after eating it.  If she didn’t bring food, she will wander into your kitchen and find a box of stale Ritz crackers, a bag of rice, and a can of mixed vegetables in your cupboard and whip up a little seven-course dinner.
  1. The Opinionator: This unique individual prides himself on being able to single-handedly offend every person at the party.  No subject is taboo to the Opinionator, and he will not back down from a good debate about everything from politics to religion, veganism, child rearing and Star Wars versus Star Trek.  He may be indirectly responsible for creating The Tipsy Sipper. Okay, maybe not so indirectly.
  1. The Gossiper: She will be the one making witty observations about everyone at the party, everyone who didn’t show up, and people she has seen on dog food commercials. She will gossip behind everyone’s back while forming alliances like a Christmas themed Survivor show.  You are always nice to The Gossiper because secretly, you fear her just a little bit.  She filmed your karaoke version of Funky Town, and she isn’t afraid to use it.
  1. The Christmas Cheer Spreader: The Christmas Cheer Spreader put her tree up on Halloween.  She wore candy cane earrings to Thanksgiving dinner, and she is the reason Christmas advertising starts in June.  She finished her Christmas Shopping in August (she was late this year, she’ll have you know) and her presents have been wrapped since Labor Day.   Although we would rather eat dirt than let her (or anyone else) know, we all sort of secretly wish we were the Christmas Cheer Spreader as we stand in a Target line on Christmas Eve with a cart full of clothing that we already know will need to be returned because the only size left was petite and who is anyone kidding?  Petite.  Yeah, right.

Holidays are not stress free, and God knows every holiday function is doomed to failure from the start, if you invite people, that is. Oh, I’m not saying every event is sure to fail in epic proportions – although those are certainly the most exciting. Perhaps it will only fail in small degrees…because nothing can be perfect no matter how much we want it to be. Because people are involved, family is involved. And people, especially family, are simply not perfect.

Still, take a minute to appreciate every friend and family member in all their flawed glory this year; it is the mixture of personalities that makes the season memorable, warm, and usually hilarious.

I’ll drink to that.