Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

There, I said it

I’m going to put something out there this holiday season that may be a little controversial:

Despite the fact that I just like liking things, I can’t STAND the movie “A Christmas Story.”

I don’t like it. I won’t watch it. And I think it’s a shame that TBS wastes an all-day Christmas marathon on that movie when there are so many better ones out there.

And if I never hear, “you’ll shoot your eye out,” again, it’ll be too soon.

I don’t care that it’s supposedly a classic – it’s overrated.

Husband, of course, loves the movie and can’t understand why I would rather watch anything else. And I can’t really explain it. The closest I can come is to say it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Maybe it’s the contrarian in me – I hate it because everyone else loves it.

Maybe I’m bitter that it gets so much air time when I’d much rather be watching “The Muppet Christmas Carol” or “Miracle on 34th Street” (the original, thank you very much) or “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” (which I found out last year you can watch fully on YouTube).


Maybe it’s really just not as good as everyone thinks it is.

Or maybe I’m just a grump who needs more from her Christmas movies than a BB gun and a pink bunny suit.


And I embrace that.

What’s your favorite Christmas or holiday movie?

No, “Die Hard” doesn’t count.

But I’d still rather watch that than “A Christmas Story.”

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Years ago – when I was old enough to know better, but still prone to stupid mistakes – my parents left me at home with a friend while they participated in a progressive dinner. They were hosting the main course, so they’d be back eventually, and my only instructions were not to touch the pot roast that was cooking upstairs.

No problem.

Cara and I were downstairs watching a movie when we got hungry and decided to make ramen. To this day, I’m not sure why I didn’t just pause the movie, go upstairs, and make the soup. But then again, hindsight is 20/20.

I decided to boil water in the downstairs microwave, which was situated so that I could still see the TV.

The next thing I knew there was a fire in the microwave.

You see, the “still prone to stupid mistakes” part of me didn’t think about the fact that I had used a metal pot – with a plastic handle – to boil the water.

It was the handle that caught on fire and was slowly burning up, blackening the formerly white microwave and stinking up the entire downstairs.

I grabbed the first thing I could find – a ladle – and tried to fill it up with water to toss on the flames. Cara, the calmer of the two of us, pointed out that the bowl (next to the ladle) would hold more water.

Good point.

We safely extinguished the fire and nervously waited for my parents to get home. Even if I could have hidden the microwave, there was no hiding the smell.

I remember wondering just how mad my parents would be, and what they’d say when they walked through the door.

First words from Mama:

Whatever happened, that better not be the pot roast.

I thought there’d be more, but they had company coming, so my microwave-shenanigans weren’t fully addressed that night.

Fast forward a few weeks to Christmas morning, opening our stockings.

My mom has always been an expert stocking stuffer. She manages to find the perfect mix of fun doodads and incredibly useful things that you didn’t know you needed until you open them. But always smaller, lighter things (and each individually wrapped, to make it more fun).

My stocking that year, however, was fully weighed down in the toe and as I made my way through the rest I was both excited and curious.

The last thing I pulled out – the heavy thing – was probably about seven inches tall and cylindrical. And I couldn’t even begin to guess as to what it was.

I certainly wasn’t expecting the huge can of heavy duty microwave cleaner. Though maybe I should have been.

I imagine that my mom must have been smirking as I pulled off the wrapping, but I don’t remember that for a fact.

I do know that, given the damage I did to the microwave, and the smell that permeated the house for at least a week, I was lucky that the cleaner wasn’t the only thing in my stocking that year.

And no, I haven’t boiled water in the microwave since.

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‘Twas the day before Christmas, and wouldn’t you know
I still had a little more shopping to go;
To the mall we sped not a moment to spare,
Prepared for the crowds that would surely be there;
The mall it was buzzing, the crowds they were dense,
Shopping on Christmas Eve doesn’t make much sense.
My mission was twofold on this shopping spree,
Part gift for my father, part present for me,
Now I know what you’re thinking, a present for you?
But let me explain; it’s the least I can do.
For a long time now I’ve wanted an iPhone,
My BlackBerry consistently made me groan.
The ‘rents finally agreed, “We’ll get this for you,
But this means no more family plan – you’re through.”
I pondered a bit the benefits and cost,
But the decision was plain and BlackBerry lost.
So at the mall we stopped at AT&T,
And I waited my turn quite impatiently;
You wouldn’t think a switch would be such a hassle,
But really, nothing about it was facile;
I had the info, the account in my name,
But AT&T told me, “You’re not who you claim.
I did not understand, it could not be true,
I answered the questions the best that I knew.
The in-person agent did all that he could,
Assuring headquarters my license was good;
He checked all my IDs and my credit cards, too,
Not sure if anything at this point would do.
And then, like magic, the phone agent gave in,
She told the in-person one, “Fine, you win.
Give this girl an iPhone, I guess she’s all right,
I’m really just tired of putting up a fight.
At least I imagine that that’s what she said,
Because that’s what would have been going through my head.
With this transaction finally completed,
I left the store to get what else I needed;
Of course, I just wanted to play with my new toy,
Angry Birds, Words With Friends, relax and enjoy;
There was still, however, work to be done,
Laundry and cleaning and wrapping – a ton.
Finally I was finished, free time was here!
I could explore the gadget I’d wanted for a year.
I downloaded apps and Bumped information,
And marveled at the speed with much elation;
So this is what a real smartphone does, I thought,
It accesses the web, it works when it ought!
I know the danger of becoming an addict,
It’s something the boyfriend certainly did predict;
But for right now it’s new, so I really don’t care,
I could stop any old time that I want – I swear!
Aside from that danger I really am thrilled,
Except for the prospect of getting billed;
And my parents could tell just how happy I am,
As they rarely saw the phone out of my hand.
But finally they said, with love in their tone,
Merry Christmas, Liebchen, now put down your phone!

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A real quick side note because I can’t help myself, even though I’m sure you all are tired of hearing about my fantasy team, but…I won my league! If we had a Shiva, it would be mine. Glorious.

Shivakamini Somarkandarkram! (Anyone?)

Anyway, now that that’s out of my system, there’s something I’m much more excited about:

My best friend is getting married!

JB and I have known each other since 3rd grade and, at this point, are more like sisters. She can read me like a book and, even if we don’t see each other often, we always pick up right where we left off.

In fact, one of the reasons I look forward to Christmas every year (aside from the obvious), is that JB has been spending Christmas Eve and part of Christmas morning with me and my family since 7th or 8th grade.

This is us last year. See? She even gets her own stocking.

She and her family are Jewish, so, growing up, I would occasionally spend one night of Hanukkah with her, as well. But even when that ended, I could always count on a sleepover on Christmas Eve. Even when I was abroad in Paris and my family came to visit me for the holidays, JB came, too, so we wouldn’t miss out on a year of our tradition.

But this year, along with the happy news of the engagement, I got a little sad news, too. Apparently, when you have a fiancé, you also have to do what he wants – honor his traditions. Like, go to his family’s house for Christmas.

Who knew?

In the end, though, I’m so very happy and excited for her. And after having met her fiancé, I see that she couldn’t have asked for a better guy.

I guess some things are worth giving up sleepovers for.

Love you, JB. And congratulations again!

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It’s amazing how lovely, unexpected snow days (and then travel) will keep you away for your computer. It’s almost liberating. For a little while, anyway.

In any case, since I missed the chance before I left for home, I wanted to leave you now with this little Christmas message, from one of my favorite holiday movies:

Merry Christmas!

(Or, alternatively, enjoy your federal holiday!)

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I feel as though I am behind in the Christmas holiday spirit department. I posted yesterday about my procrastination in buying the Secret Santa gift. (Thank you all for your ideas, by the way. Absolutely phenomenal.) But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

  • I haven’t bought any advent calendars this year, and we’re halfway through the season. Last year, I had one for home and one for the office. And one that I gave away. You know, to spread the seasonal cheer.
  • I haven’t set up my nativity scenes. I have two, one from Mama, which resembles a pop-up book, and the other that I bought back in February, from a little market in Buenos Aires. But have I set that beautifully-crafted, hand-painted, complete-with-livestock crèche out on display yet? No, of course not.
  • I haven’t made my traditional Christmas cookies – shortbread, lace cookies, and meringues. (Or the gingerbread train that I bought the other week.)
  • I haven’t put any other decorations up in my apartment.
  • And I haven’t even begun to shop for my family and friends. (Which will probably result in this again.)

Something is just not right. It’s not that I’m anti the holidays this year; I just feel like I’m too busy and they’re coming too fast, and there’s still so much to do.

Is it just me? Or is December going by a lot faster than expected?


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I’m not quite sure when it started, but our family has a tradition of following holiday meals with a game of some sort. In the past it’s been Cranium, SceneIt, Clue, Trivial Pursuit – you name it, we’ve played it. Occasionally, the games will even get a wee bit, ahem, heated – I come by my competitive streak honestly.

I think it’s safe to say that this Christmas we hit a whole new level.

After a few rousing rounds of Catch Phrase, we moved into the dining room for a game of Scrabble. My cousin, my uncle, and then teams of Mama & me, and Daddy & Jud. Everyone was doing well – we all grew up playing Scrabble and doing crossword puzzles with Mamie (my grandmother). And then Mama and I got a “Q” and started plotting how to use it most effectively. Oh, was that a Triple Word Score that just opened up? Why yes, yes it was. And down goes our word, two letters, thirty-three points: qi.

What? You don’t think it counts? That’s okay, neither did anyone in my family. (Except Mama – she totally had my back.)

This could have been us. Minus the swords. Although, that doesn't sound like nearly as much fun...

This could have been us. Minus the swords. Although, that doesn't sound like nearly as much fun...

In fact, I was getting yelled at, not just by my brother, whose competitive streak rivals mine, but also by my father, the usually calm voice of reason! He kept arguing that “qi” isn’t in his Scrabble dictionary (which, I recently found out, was published circa 1980 – and that’s generous) and that it wasn’t valid. Since I’m clearly too stubborn to take the word back so as to avoid a family feud, they challenged, and this is what we found from the official online Scrabble dictionary:

  • QI
    the vital force that in Chinese thought is inherent in all things

Oh, how I love to be right.

Fortunately, the game was over soon after that, a blessing, because unfortunately, even with the official ruling, my dad and brother were still acting like 10-year-olds who’d been cheated out of a win. I tried to let it drop, we drove home without mentioning it, and my brother (surprisingly enough) apologized later that night. I appreciated the apology, though I didn’t really need it, and I frankly forgot about it until yesterday.

Now remember, this happened on Christmas. As in, last Thursday.

Cut to Monday, around 5pm, just as I’m getting ready to leave the office. My phone rings, and I answer it professionally, even though I think I recognize one of my dad’s office numbers. Whew, it’s him. After a little chitchat about how AMAZING the Eagles game was, he says, “Well, I know you’re heading out, but I just wanted to apologize.” Huh?

Liebchen: “Apologize for what? Should I be mad at you?”

Daddy: “For the Scrabble game. I shouldn’t have acted like that. I’m just used to the old school rules and dictionary.”

Liebchen: “Really? It’s okay. I’d completely forgotten about that by this point.”


Liebchen: “Wait a minute. You thought I was still mad at you and you waited ’til NOW to apologize?”

Daddy: “Yeah, I had to think about it.”

Hm. Well, apparently I come by my stubborn streak honestly, too.

Stubborn and competitive – this can only end in tears.

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