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Thursday, December 29, 2011

10 Things I've Learned from Holiday Letters

1) Some people are not on FaceBook, because if they were there'd be no need to type and send the mass holiday letter. Everyone would already know their business.

2) My family vacation wasn't that great, no matter how I spin it. It behoves me not to let my kids read any of the Christmas letters.

3) No one who writes a holiday letter admits to tasting the flavor of mediocrity.

4) If my children have any inkling to change the world, they better get to it.

5) My kids are not as amazing as the ones featured in Christmas letters. They get into mischief at school. Sometimes they don't like each other at all. I have to talk in my mean mommy voice to get them to clean their rooms. This is not the stuff of Christmas letters.

6) My husband is not as amazing as the husbands of holiday letters.

7) I am not amazing either. My husband has to put his own clean laundry away. I haven't baked a batch of cookies in the entire month of December and my kids have had to make their own breakfast since they've been out of school. The women of holiday letters balance babies on their hips while simultaneously frosting cakes and saving the world.

8) There are some very gifted writers who use their talents only once a year. They blow their wad stringing together paragraphs portraying the mundane as dileriously fabulous.

9) There are two types of holiday letters: (a) Those that come from families in which nothing bad or disappointing ever happens, and if it does, it doesn't linger long enough for anyone to think it's important enough to write about. (b) Those that come from victims of the universe, but who, in the end, put their faith in God to work everything according to His will. ~ With either type of letter, they'll be sending the nearly same same one next year, only changing ages of children.

10) Christmas letters are so potent in content that some recipients simply cannot stomach them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Satisfied Santa

My trashcan overfloweth with the remnants of the annual Christmas ransacking of the living room. The after-Christmas-calm has settled upon my house, allowing me to recline contemplatively, reflect on the months that sped by since last Christmas, and enjoy the tree, humble as it is. This week of unfettered relaxation comes only once a year. Though the thick anticipation has passed, I find peace in my mantra of, "This was a very good Christmas."

I breathe.

Santa sits at the North Pole sipping hot chocolate with his feet propped up on an ottoman. Satisfaction with a job well-done still glows on his rosy cheeks.

From the playroom, children's voices rise and fall, rise and fall, and rise again. Someone yells. Someone screeches. There's a clatter, but I refrain from seeing what is the matter. A herd of angry feet heads my way; a reminder of Christmas cheer and goodwill toward one's fellow man.

St. Nick, that jolly old elf, laughs at his cleverness in spite of himself. There's more than one way to deliver a lump of coal. He wrapped mine in a package of new toys and games for my kids to argue, pout, point fingers, compete and tattle over.

Though I plan to be nicer in 2012, I announce to the approaching posse that Santa isn't the only one who can make a list. And I hand each of them a set of chores and assure them that I'll be checking their work twice. I caution them, above the din of moans and groans, to proceed with joyful hearts and willing hands.

The melee thwarted, I cast my eyes and thoughts again upon the tree, humble as it is. It has been a very, very good Christmas: Three days after the ransacking, my brood is still interested in the toys and games St. Nicholas left.

Monday, December 12, 2011

East Coast - West Coast Communication Breakdown

For an upcoming freelance article targeted at helping parents navigate the tricky and oftne murky waters of teen romance, I put in a query at an on-line expert listserve for an expert source. My query read thus:

Summary: Teen Love
Due Date: 2011-11-22 19:00:00 EST
Industry Categories: General,Lifestyle and Fitness
Query: For the February issue of Augusta Family Magazine I'm working on a parents' guide to handling your teenager's romance. I am looking for a child development, or other, expert familiar with the topic of parenting teens. I will need answers to questions such as: 1) When is a parent too involved with the relationship and why should this be avoided?
2) What are the best ways to engage a teenager when discussing his/her romantic relationship?
3) How can parents ensure that their children maintain healthy romantic relationships?
4) What are the signs of trouble that every parent should be able to spot? ...and so forth. The interview can be conducted by phone or by email.
In your response to my query, please include your credentials and a few lines reflecting your thoughts on this topic. I will contact you if your expertise is right for the article.

The very first response I received within a couple of hours was this from a PR representative inWest Hollywood, CA 90069:

Hope all is well. We rep two relationship experts who can provide good health-related reasons why cuddling and relaxing in bed with your partner is good for you. Please consider this nationally recognized experts for your article.

That's not what I meant by "healthy romantic relationships" in my query. Here in the southeast, in the first buckle hole of the Bible Belt, we're not too keen on our teenagers cuddling and relaxing in bed together. In fact the teen pregnancy rates in this area of the country indicate that too much of that is going on already.

I guess her response is just another example of the the east coast - west coast communication gap. If questioned, she would probably defend herself by saying that my query was too slow for her to understand.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quick Christmas Cash

My email overfloweth with "good fortunate." And my bank account soon will, too. This year I have no fear of suffering from the annual Christmas-cash-strap. No sir. Just read:

Firstly, I think i would start all with a proper introduction of
myself. My name is Mrs. Rabia Kabir, a 51 years old woman suffering from a long time cancer of the breast a widow to late Mustafa Kabir in Iraq, One Year ago, I lost my husband Mustafa and three children - Husam, 15 years old, Wasim, 12 years old and Merna, 6years old, this happened as the family attempted to flee heavy fighting in Baghdad.

Before my husband and children were killed, he deposited the sum of $10,000.000 (Ten Million Dollars) in a security company. My Doctor told me that I would not last for the next two months due to cancer stage. Having known my condition I decided to donate this funds to a God fearing individual.
And this one, from a young girl so sad and in desperate need of my aid and comfort:

I am Angela Louis 19 years young and the only daughter of my late parents Mr. and Mrs. Bob Louis My father was a highly reputable business Magnet-(a cocoa and oil merchant) who operated in the capital of Ivory Coast during his days. It is sad to say that he passed away mysteriously in France during one of his business trips abroad.

My mother died when I was just 5 years young, since then my father took me so special. Before his death he called the secretary who accompanied him to the hospital and told him that he has the sum of Four Million five hundred thousand United State Dollars (US$ 4,500,000.00) left in one of the leading bank hear Abidjan Cote D'Ivoire and the money was placed in a fixed deposit account.
I am just 19 years young and a university undergraduate and really don't know what to do. The death of my father actually brought sorrow to my life.

Dearest one I am in a sincere desire of your humble assistance in this regards. Your suggestions and ideas will be highly regarded. Now permit me to ask these few questions 1. Can you honestly help me as your sister? 2. Can I completely trust you? 3. What percentage of the total amount in question will be good for you after the money is in your account?

But that’s not all. In addition to donations for my good deeds, I’m also due an inheritance:
My name is John Fanzi, a consultant to the government on foreign remittance payment. I am an heir hunter. When people die intestate (without a will) and with no known relatives, their names are released by the Treasury. Every Thursday, a list of these unclaimed estates, the Bona Vacantia ( Latin for "ownerless goods" ) is published on the Treasury Solicitor's website. The race is then on for heir locators to track down the often distant relatives in line for a windfall.

After proper verification through records of births, deaths and marriages along with censuses, electoral registers and other documents, and with your email address as the only contact detail on file; it has been approved that you should receive an inheritance payment of $5,000,000.00 (Five Million United States Dollars).
So many promissory notes arrive in my spam folder each day that I have taken to responding, so that the senders will not think me ungrateful for being the target of their goodwill. Prosperity has even forced me to turn down an offer from Dr. Osamu Nagayama, who desires to retain me as a payment agent for Chungai, Inc. If interested in the position, I must send him my name, home address, phone number, and current job title. Though I am flattered by the faith he has in my ability to manage the company’s receivables through my personal bank account, I declined for practical reasons:

Apologies. Though your tendering of such a sweet deal might have made me salivate last month, I find that I am the happy victim of a windfall of change (and dollars). Akim Musa is giving me 105% of $15.5 million. And all he requires are my account numbers for the deposit. Plus he’s sending me a goat.

Monday, December 5, 2011

With a Click of His Mouse up the Chimney He Rose

Santa is making his list and checking it off in preparation for his big night.

What about you? Have you finished your Christmas shopping? Have you started?

Save yourself some fuss and frazzle by giving the gifts of a good read and a good laugh. A set of books that will keep them rolling under the Christmas tree is just a mouse click away.

If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny takes readers on a romp with an AWOL hermit crab, a three legged pig and an immortal roach. Parents will relate to the perfectly impossible picture day and go giggly over illicit rhyming words. If Mama Don't Laugh will have spouses spontaneously reading out loud to each other while laughing until stuff comes out of their noses:

Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run chronicles the mayhem, mishaps, misjudgments, miscalculations and maladaptations of an ordinary day gone off the chain. You can run with Reba who's naked at the garden gate and sample Mama's bar-b-cue and Brunswick stew that doesn't come with slaw. Attend a pig roast with the communists and stroll down the aisle with a 40 year-old bridesmaid as she tries to convince herself that she's still beautiful. Adventures into and out of embarrassing situations abound:

Order from by clicking on the book titles or covers above.

Or make it an extra special gift by purchasing signed copies from the shop. For personalization, send me an email after placing your order. Your email should include your order ID, the name of the person receiving the gift, and two sentences about why you think this is the perfect gift for him or her. I'll mail your books within two days of payment.

Christmas shopping doesn't get any easier than that.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Black Forest

It's a well known fact that I'm a holiday humbug, a Christmas crank. I dread the countdowns to Santa's big night. The object of standing a Christmas tree in every room of the house is lost on me. Shopping, baking, decorating, partying and putting on a perfect Christmas persona leave me bedraggled. My favorite day of the season is December 26th.

Though I make no bones about my feelings, I do realize they are not popular. And while I really do try to avoid any extra cooking during the days ahead, I will make a guest a mixed drink in hot minute. It expresses goodwill toward my fellow woman (without a heap of work) and it puts us all in good cheer, which, as I understand it, is in the true spirit of the season.

To commemorate entering the figurative black forest of holiday mayhem, let's raise a toast to surviving to December 26th. Fill your highball with this mood brightening concoction, which is better than a box of chocolate covered cherries, from my favorite yuletide tome, Peterson's Holiday Helper:

Black Forest
8 ounces chocolate liqueur
1 ounce cherry brandy
1 ounce cherry liqueur
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1 maraschino cherry for garnish

Directions: Mix, shake, serve over ice. Give the jar of cherries to the kids so they won't tell daddy that you're hiding in the pantry drinking chocolate again. Serves 1.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Big Tuck Your Skirt Blog Tour Thank You

The Tuck Your Skirt 2011 Blog Tour for the advancement of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run (which makes a very nice Christmas gift for all of the ladies on your list) was a wild success. It was thrilling and exhausting and exciting and now it's finished. Whew! I made it.

I could not have done it without the help of so many fabulous bloggers. Thank You! Please take a moment to visit some of them. Introduce yourself. Explore their sites. Make a few new friends.