What’s Your Christmas Elf Name?

Okay, we are officially into the Christmas season so it’s time to get Christmas silly. I don’t know about you but I was dying to know what my name might be if I were a Christmas elf – well I found out my Christmas elf name is:

Tootsie Twinkletoes

Not satisfied to know my own name I checked out the elf names of my relatives and friends too:

Zelda is Patty Tum Tums
Mom is Buttons Bedhead
Sis is Cheerful Spirit Fingers
My dog is Perky Sparkly Toes

Wow, I could do this all day. If you want to know what your Christmas elf name is go here and check it out.

And if you’re really into discovering your inner elf, go here to make a fun little vid of yourself as your newfound elf-self.

Ain’t Christmas a blast?

WC

The Meaning of Christmas

There have been probably thousands of words devoted to this question. What is the meaning of Christmas? There are countless novels and stories devoted to the theme, most notably the Christmas Carol and The Gift of the Magi, countless movies and the famous editorial Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus yet still, we seem to ponder.

Perhaps because we all see a different meaning in Christmas. For some of us it means stress and disappointment and lonliness – conjuring long-gone memories of happier times. For others it’s about gifts and family gatherings, sleigh rides and pumpkin pie. Still others see it as a time to help those less fortunate than they are.

For me, it is a mixed bag of fun, stress, presents, old memories good and bad, carols, Christmas trees, joy and sadness. It is about having emotions at full tilt, the hope meter at full throttle and ultimately acceptance of what my life is and shall become. The celebration that ends the year that has come before it and the hopes that foster what could be in the coming year. There is never enough time, nor money to do it up right – there is always some disaster or disappointment, yet it is my favorite time of year.

It is the time of year when most of us open our arms and our hearts to let others in. When we forgive and forget. When we gather round a fire or a football game. When we laugh and smile a little easier and sleep a little happier. When we don’t care how many calories are in something, or how our asses look in an outfit. When we wave to our neighbors and smile and exude patience in lines at the post office or the department store. Open doors for little old ladies and don santa hats and reindeer ears as though it is a perfectly normal thing to do. A sort of free pass to be our most childish and silly selves and see the wonder in simple things. Think about others instead of ourselves.

So, I wish you the happiest of Christmases – joy in the simple things and delight in unexpected events. Peace on Earth, goodwill to men, blessed family and friends.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

WC

copyright 2009

Random Christmas Thoughts

This time of year we are all rushing around like crazy people trying to make the season bright, we all have some pretty weird thoughts – at least I do. It’s a sort of short circuit of the brain I think that creates a short hand of anxiety, plans and wishes. Here are mine:

1. Must make brownies. Sure, you couldn’t just buy them like everyone else.
2. Why don’t people say Merry Christmas anymore? Yeah, what’s up with this Happy Holidays crap?
3. I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas, wasn’t it just June?
4. There’s something about a man in a red velvet suit. Especially when he’s carrying a sack of presents.
5. I hope it snows. Snow? Are you crazy, snow is cold.
6. Thank Gawd for the dollar store! And the thrift store and regifting and….
7. I love Christmas. I hate Christmas, no I love it, I hate it, I love it…
8. Honk if you believe in Santa. And the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and Cupid and Leprechauns…
9. All I want for Christmas is to sleep, sleep, sleep! Wake me when it’s over.
10. This Christmas I’ll just relax and take it easy. In which case I’ll need lots of drugs and booze.
11. Is there a Christmas movie I don’t have? I must have it, I must, I must, I must!
12. I’ll diet right after Christmas. Or I’ll just wear bigger clothes.
13. I can’t believe they are making us work on Christmas Eve. Like people are going to buy car parts on Christmas Eve.
14. Sure reindeer can fly. At least they aren’t driving on the freeway.
15. What do chestnuts taste like? And really how do you roast them on an open fire?
16. Figgy pudding? Have you tasted figgy pudding?

So, what are your random Christmas thoughts?

WC

copyright2009

Christmas Eve – Theme Friday

“There is no Santa Claus!”

Marlie felt the words slap her cold face and they stung. Her eyes grew large and liquid – lower lip quivered. “Is so,” she whispered.

Ricky Marks, a neighborhood menace and proud of it, rolled his eyes and smirked. He strutted through the powdered snow like the destructive little rooster he was. “Is so,” he mimicked Marlie. “Grow up!” he yelled as he towered over her.

The other little kids huddled around Marlie, crying and shaking. “You’re just a mean old boy, Ricky Marks. Santa won’t bring you anything tonight. Just you wait and see.”

Ricky bent and scooped up a good handful of snow and crafted an icy launch but before he could raise his arm the little ones scattered. They likened a sea of confetti against the white snow, in their pink, green and purple coats – their little feet leaving the tiniest trace of their presence.

No matter, Ricky had the neighborhood skating rink to himself and he could spin and glide to his heart’s content. Soon, skating alone became a bore. A boy with no friends and whose parents are rarely home finds little satisfaction in being alone. The sun descended quickly across the silver sky and he watched the Christmas lights pop on, porch light threw cozy yellow haloes over steps and smoke lazed out chimneys and Ricky felt an ache kick his insides. He grunted against his troubled heart and changed out of his skates for boots. For a moment he stood still, no reason to go home to an empty house, no money to buy anything. “Now what?” and his mutter came out like smoke from his mouth.

“What are you doing out by yourself on Christmas Eve?” Mrs. Hanson appeared before him, weighted down with packages, all bright wrapping and spilling bows. Her face was rosy and her grin was wide – deftly she closed the car door with her foot. Trudging up the walk, the packages teetered then spilled across the lawn, like jewels scattered across white velvet.

Without thinking, Ricky scurried to help Mrs. Hanson gather the packages and helped her to her front door. “Oh, you’re a life-saver, Ricky,” she grinned, “but don’t tell Mr. Hanson, he’ll never let me live it down.”

Ricky shrugged. “Nah, I won’t tell him.”

“So, what are you doing out on your own on Christmas Eve?” she asked again but more gently.

“What’s the difference? Not like Santa is coming,” he guffawed.

Mrs. Hanson gave him sad eyes. “Where are your folks? I mean, it’s Christmas…”
Ricky didn’t like the way he felt when she looked into him with her pretty blue eyes – soft and vulnerable, scared and lonely. He swatted her concern away. “I don’t know. None of your business. I’ve got to go.”

“Oh Ricky, don’t be that way.”

He started off muttering, needing distance from the nice Mrs. Hanson.

“If you get hungry, stop by. Lots of food, we’re having a party.” Her voice was like a song, sweet and lilting and it made Ricky’s legs pump harder as he trudged through the snow. He had to get away from her sympathy and the eyes that seem to know everything. “Stupid nosey woman. Why don’t she just mind her own business?”

Ricky didn’t want to think about Christmas. He didn’t want people to know his parents had left him alone so they could go ski with their friends. Or eat his t.v. dinner alone in front of the television again this year. Ricky just wanted to get away and so he walked. And he walked. And he didn’t notice the snow that started so slowly and softly like a whisper – Ricky only knew the need to go. To get away. And Ricky walked some more.

And winter enveloped him and made the world white – Ricky turned in all directions and saw only a colorless world that was frigid and domineering. “Where am I?” Ricky cried and like a little boy he wanted his mother. He wanted to feel safe but there was no safety from the brutal wind and no sign post to safe ground. And in that moment Ricky knew it was over. He would die alone, on Christmas Eve in a snow storm and no one would know or care. So, he lay down in the snow and gave up.

The wind howled like a wolf and Ricky was the prey but there was another sound. A sweet sound, faint but there. His head felt heavy and sleep fought to overtake him but that sound, that sweet little sound wouldn’t let him rest.

Ricky opened his eyes and against the world of nothing but white a red smudge moved. A deep, deep red against the artic blind and the sweet sound grew louder and clearer. “Bells,” Ricky thought and his mind couldn’t fathom how bells could be red and moving toward him.

“Easy does it, son,” the red smudge said and face with a beard appeared next to his.

“Santa?” Ricky mumbled and knew he was dreaming the final dream of his life. “Is there a Santa?” Then the world went black.

*****
It was warm and the air smelled good, of pine and cookies, cocoa and laughter. Ricky opened his eyes thinking a mistake had been made because surely he was in heaven.

“I told you there was a Santa,” little Marlie stood over him.

“Huh?” Ricky struggled to sit up but tangled in blankets on a soft, comfy couch. “Where am I? What are you…?”

“Oh good!” Mrs. Hanson rushed over and was at his side pushing a cup of cocoa in his hands. “Thank goodness you’re allright!”

But Ricky couldn’t see her, he could only see the fat man in the red suit, laughing on the other side of the room. Pulling toys from a sack and giving them to the little ones, gleeful and squealing. “Santa?”

copyright 2009

What’s happening on Christine’s Christmas Eve?

I’ll Be Broke For Christmas

Haha, remember that old song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, – well, I wonder if the spirit of ol’ Bing would update that to I’ll be broke for Christmas. Hey, I’m not complaining because I know a lot of people out there are in the same spot. This year has really sucked wet mops in the financial department. And I think we feel it more around Christmas time because when we want to be generous this time of year. We want to splurge and shower our friends and loved ones with gifts and delightful things to eat, plays and shows, parties – the whole ball of wax. But alas…what’s a Christmas time junkie to do when she’s short on cash?

Well, I don’t know if it will help but I’ll give you my own version of Christmas on the cheap. Here’s what I do (in no particular order):

1. I comb the thrift shops, discount stores and Blockbuster’s clearance shelves for Christmas movies, especially funny or obscure ones. (Yesterday I got four for under a buck each at a Goodwill).

2. I check the grocery store flyers for whatever is on sale – say if they have ham for $1 a pound, well then, that’s my Christmas meal.

3. I make collages of old christmas cards and frame them by borrowing existing frames I have around the house.

4. I go for walks and collect pine cones and put them in baskets around the house to give it that christmas smell.

5. I prefer a live tree but they can be pricey so I got an artificial tree from the thrift store for $10 – it works – not perfect but hey, it’s a tree. Heck one year, I was too broke to even buy at the thrift store so I found a big tree branch, spray painted it silver and hung ornaments on it. Turned out it was really pretty and very unusual – lol.

6. I bake brownies for the mailman, my mechanic, neighbors, the local fire station, etc. who I want to give something to.

7. I shop the thrift stores for old christmas ornaments, or the dollar store is another great place to find stuff like that.

8. I invite friends for a potluck movie marathon. Four friends each bring a dish of some sort, add three movies and a couple of bottles of cheap wine or diet soda and you’ve got a party.

9. I drive around the neighborhood at night and admire the Christmas lights and displays – or walk if the weather is nice.

10.  If I’m exchanging gifts with friends, we set a limit, like $5 and we stick to it – usually they end up being gag gifts but that’s the fun of it. Although, you can find some great fuzzy socks or a decent pen for $5 or nice note cards – which also make great gifts.

11. I live in California, so no building snowmen – but pine trees abound in my area, so I take a knife with me on walks and cut off low, soft pine branches and decorate my fireplace mantle with them, again gives that Christmas smell.

12. I get stocking stuffers at dollar stores and thrift shops or places like Big Lots.

13.  I’ve also been known to give coupons for 3 hours of pet sitting, or a home-cooked meal, a raking leaves.

14. I write Christmas stories or poems, print them on Christmas paper and give them as gifts.

Basically, I take whatever talents or resources I have available and I turn them into the most Christmas-y thing I can think of and you know what, it works. I have a great time and a great Christmas. How about you? What do you do when you’re having a broke Christmas?

WC

copyright 2009

Snowflake – Theme Friday

A single snowflake fell
froze in mid-air
then drifted on lazy wings
and disappeared
into artic black

The sparkle
shimmers still
and stirs a
memory of
distant silver days

snow men
ice skates
rosey cheeks
purple mittens
short days
hot cocoa
long nights
giggles shared
in bunkbeds

Falling asleep
listening for
sleighbells

copyright 2009

Where is Christine’s snowflake falling?

Christmas Lives


Among my many adventures last year, Christmas wasn’t one of them. I had moved to a new state, started a new life and had many hopes for the future. What never dawned on me was that there would be no Christmas.

And I’m one of those whacky folks who really loves Christmas. Everything about it. From the tacky decorations that the stores put up way too early, to the endless Christmas carols on the radio, to the food. Santa Hats. Reindeer ears. Candy canes. Christmas trees. Even though I hate being cold, I still secretly wish for snow every Christmas Eve.

I collect Christmas movies and force roomie to watch them with me. Typically, I have the Christmas tree up and the house decorated by Thanksgiving weekend. Oh yes, I am a Christmas nut.

But then, last year, I discovered that Christmas was not to be. There was no belief in Christmas trees, or Christmas gifts or any real celebration. It was just another day as far as he was concerned and I got tired of him asking, ‘do you want a Christmas gift?’ I figure if you have to ask then please don’t do it because clearly you don’t want to. And no one should give a gift begrudgingly.

I tried. I found a sad little tree in Home Depot and decorated it – which seemed to amuse him but not in a nice way. I cried a lot. I did send Christmas cards but they were full of apologies for not doing anything else. For being sad and broke and
un-Christmas-y. Probably would have been better off to not send them at all. And then of course, people who don’t believe in Christmas also don’t believe in New Year’s, Valentine’s Day or birthdays either. In a phrase, last year was a bust in ways too many to enumerate.

This year, however, Christmas lives. I am about to put up the tree – even though I will probably moan and groan  as I do so. I’m going to put on Christmas music, and do the house up in silly decorations and maybe tomorrow, I’ll go get some Christmas cards with Santa and reindeers on them and some smart alec saying.

I started my shopping today and though the budget is still pretty tight, there will be presents. Exchanged with people who love to do so. There will be a meal to look forward to and lots of silly, soppy sentimental movies. I’ll find a santa suit for my dog and force her to pose for pictures. I’ll drive around the neighborhood and admire the lights that people have put up. I’ll buy some Christmas candy for the homeless guys who hang around the park. I will celebrate Christmas this year because it means something to me. And it always will.

Maybe though by not having it last year I learned something interesting about Christmas – that it’s not so important how you celebrate it, but that you celebrate it. To me, there is something fundamentally humane and joyous about holidays but especially Christmas. It is the time of year that we let our guards down – we show our love for our fellow man and friends and family and neighbors. It’s special. No matter what your religious beliefs, it is kind, warm, caring, fun, happy, giving. It brings out the best in (most) of us. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

So, I hope all of you out there are celebrating too, in one way or another. That you are feeling the Christmas glow, or love or joy or warm fuzzies. I hope that you are feeling your own giving and kind nature and reveling in it and sharing it with others. Christmas lives. In all of us.

The Last Christmas

christmas lights 004

It was the last Christmas they would ever spend together. And the worst.

Betty felt the living cliche of every hokey holiday story ever told. Her only daughter, Marlee, was now officially dying. Despite endless chemo treatments, that had ravaged what life was left out of Marlee, the cancer had won. “We’re sorry,” the hospital staff had said but Betty thought they really meant, ‘we’re tired.’ After weeks of living without heat, except for what could be generated in the small and inefficient fireplace in their apartment, the landlord successfully evicted them – during Christmas week.

Betty still had the old Chevy and the heater worked all right in it – so what little possessions they had, they piled into the car and made it home. “Merry fucking Christmas,” she yelled and waved to Irv Stanley, her ex-landlord as they drove off toward God knew what.

Betty was still able bodied and knew she could get work and that in fact there was work to be had. However, Marlee couldn’t be left alone. She was too weak and too sick and Betty’s worst nightmare was to come home to find her only child had died alone in the cold. There would be time enough to find work and to work again after Marlee was gone.

Instead, Betty drove the streets of the neighborhood, looking for recyclables and safe places to stop and park for a while. Marlee slept most of the time and when she did wake she talked about Santa Claus and wondered how he would be able to find them if they were driving around in an old car.

“Marlee, you’re sixteen years old honey, you know there ain’t no Santa Claus,” Betty said gently.

“Oh mama,” Marlee’s voice was high and reedy and Betty could hear the cancer in it. “I know…but I might as well pretend, don’t you think?” She tried to laugh but ended up coughing for what seemed forever.

Betty gripped the steering wheel as she listened to the life pour out of her daughter’s body with every wheeze and cough. “God damned genes,” she muttered and cursed the family heridity that visited disease upon them.

“It’s not the genes, Mama,” Marlee said, “just bad luck. Just bad luck.” And then she drifted off to sleep or unconsciousness, Betty never knew which. Uttering a few sentences exhausted Marlee so much that she would need hours to recuperate from a small conversation.

There was nowhere to go – all Betty’s relatives were far away and struggling themselves. It would hardly make sense to drive hundreds of miles to see them to ask for help – and even if she did, Marlee wouldn’t survive the trip. So, she drove and she drove and she drove. At night, she went to the Dunkin’ Doughnuts for coffee and two plain doughnuts. “Please try to eat it, honey,” she would beg Marlee.

“I can’t, Mama. I don’t want food. You eat it. You need it.” Then she would drift off again.

Betty would pull the old blankets up around her to make her warm, even though she knew Marlee would never be warm again. “I love you, baby. Mama’s here. Everything is all right,” she whispered, certain somehow Marlee heard her and it made a difference. That she knew in Betty’s eyes she was still the beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty who was going to conquer the world someday.

She will go with God,” a melodic voice came from nowhere.

Betty’s eyes roamed the interior of the car. No one there but she and Marlee. No sounds but the chug of a tired engine, Marlee’s labored breathing and Betty’s sniffles. “I’m losing it now. Maybe it’s for the best. I should just shut off the engine and go to sleep with my baby. Let them find us and let it be done.” Betty put the car into drive and found a good parking spot. One that was sheltered from the wind by an old birch tree and the overhang of the building. No one would notice them there for a while. She could just turn off the engine, wrap sleeping bag around her and let the cold take them both. Why not?

It is not your time,” the voice came again.

Still no one there – not even an apparition or gossamer vision dressed in silk and haloes. Betty wondered if hyperthermia had already begun. She was hearing voices. She tried to remember if that was a symptom of a stroke or something else, then she recalled it was something to do with smelling and smiling and so knew that the voice was not an anuerism coming to visit.

“Let’s go to church, Mama,” Marlee wheezed.

Betty saw Marlee’s face in the rear view mirror and it seemed to glow. She was sure it was the halogen lamps in the parking lot but maybe it was something else. “Okay baby, we’ll go to church but you know I don’t believe. There are no angels or miracles, just a building with pretty windows.”

Marlee nodded and the glow remained with her. Betty drove slowly through the cold night that dusted everything in powdery white. The church was a silver beacon in the bitter night. It took much effort to get Marlee out of the car, and still swaddled in blankets and up the steps of the church. “But why do you want to go in?” Betty asked her frail little girl.

“They’re waiting for me,” Marlee said but this time in her own voice, somehow recaptured. Or maybe it was just what Betty wanted to hear.

The door was heavy and Betty fought with it before it to obeyed and gave them entrance and it closed with authority and a thud behind them. Then they stood in the dark but candle lit sanctuary for a moment and then Marlee led her mother toward the front pew, where she sat and motioned Betty to join her.

“Honey, we can’t stay here. They won’t let us,” Betty whispered, her eyes darting and on the look out for annoyed priests.

“Quiet, Mama,” Marlee shushed her. “They are telling me what to do.”

Who is telling you what to do?” Betty asked and felt a cold climb up her back.

Marlee put her arms around Betty and squeezed as tightly as she could. “It’s okay now. I can sleep now. Merry Christmas, Mama.” And then she pulled away and lay down on the bench of prayers.

Betty nodded and squeezed Marlee’s hand. “That’s right baby, you sleep for now. You get your rest and then we’ll go.

It is done,’ the voice of melody returned.

Betty shook her head but she knew that the voice, whether it belonged to an angel or was part of her own madness was right. Marlee had taken her final sleep and Betty was alone. It was done.

As tears streamed down Betty’s face, she tucked in her daughter one last time and kissed her forehead. “Good bye, my angel.”

She looked to the altar and said: “On this Christmas day, I give to you, my only child. Please take her to your safe place, your heaven, your kingdom and never let her feel pain again. Amen and thank you, God.”

And Betty walked out into the snowy night, knowing that her angel was in God’s hands and he would keep her safe from that day forward.

copyright 2008

What does Christmas really mean?

I suppose it could mean many different things to many different people – it may honestly just be a matter of one’s perspective. For some it means the birth of Christ, for some it means presents and Santa Claus, for some it means good food shared with good friends, and for others it means depression, isolation and lonliness.

Aside from the religious aspects of the holiday, which I was (as I suspect were most of us) taught as a child, Christmas most definitely seems to have other meanings. Or should I say has come to mean other things to people. People the world over, celebrate Christmas, look forward to Christmas, devote endless hours to Christmas preparations – entire industries have been built on Christmas. So, I’d have to say that Christmas is a big deal.

I guess what I’m getting at is why is it such a big deal to people? Is it just because it’s nice to get presents, paid time off from work and to eat rich and delicious foods? Or does it go deeper than that? I have been thinking a lot lately about why Christmas is such a big deal to me. As far back as I can remember it has been important to me, and I’ve been trying to figure out how the importance was conveyed to me. Was it all the many old Christmas movies I’ve watched again and again since childhood, the pretty Christmas light displays, the Christmas music, the big party of it all? Actually, I don’t think so.

While all or most of those things have served to reinforce my love of Christmas there has (for me) always been one resounding theme to it. That theme is, our best. The thing about Christmas that makes me really love it is that it seems to inspire people to be at their best, do their best, show their best. It is the one time of year when people can be kind, happy, cheerful, etc. for no reason other than the season. People just seem to try harder to be happy and kind then. And I think that even as a small child I felt that, I sensed it and I loved it. I never quite understood why it seemed to disappear not long after Christmas but it was always something to look forward to for me.

I admit it, I am a closet optimist – which likely accounts for much of my cynicism – I really just want everyone to be happy – and somehow believe it is my job to bring that about. Silly as it sounds when I type the words out here on the page and debate whether or not I’ll publish them, it’s true.

So I guess I will just say that Christmas means a special kind of time out, from the stresses and disappointments of life – it means a new opportunity to be happy, to show our happy selves, to share ourselves with others and to be nice for no reason at all. Yes, that’s what it means to me…what does it mean to you?

Holiday Eating Tips from Zelda

more xmas cookies

So, Zelda sent me these tips and I thought I’d pass them along.

HOLIDAY EATING TIPS

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare.. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”

Have a great holiday season!!