Getting into the Christmas spirits


You read that right.

If you are someone who loves the holidays, you’re probably enjoying these last few days in the run up to Christmas. If you are someone who just worked 30 hours over a weekend you’re thinking they are incredibly poorly timed.

The Christmas theme at my house this year is: The Who’s house after the Grinch ransacked it, only the Grinch never came back. There is no tree. No wreath. No wrapped gifts. A few sad holiday cards, sent by dear souls who haven’t fallen into the black hole of capitalist chaos, sit on a table in my empty living room. (That’s right. The Grinch even took the furniture.)

The reminders are everywhere that I am behind. My email is full of messages screaming “last chance” and “ends today.” Too which I respond, “Delete you.”

As I walk through the beautifully adorned downtown skyways on my way to work, the Muzak reminds me that Santa’s on his way. “You say that like it’s a good thing,” I mutter.

And when I enter the post office and see the “We appreciate your business” sign on the door, I think, “No. No, you do not. If you did there wouldn’t be 20 people holding large boxes in this line, and you would not be chatting up the person you’re serving with news of your grandkids.”

Today I’m taking a day off to see if I can actually make this holiday thing work out this year. (Which explains why I’m spending time blogging, right?) I have a list as long as my arm and will burn a tank of gas driving from here to there. As of 8:00 a.m., I had already hit the “who are you kidding” stage of my day, and mentally removed a few items.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like another memorable year where I served spaghetti and meatballs for Christmas dinner. (Tip to readers: if you have to decide at the last minute between going to the liquor store before it closes and going to the grocery store before it closes, choose the liquor store. I guarantee your guests will not notice what you serve them for dinner.)

But I must away. The malls await me. I go armed with 60% off coupons for this and that. (It seems the only people more desperate than me this time of year are the retailers.)

Wish me luck.

Why I’m making tiny capes today


Although I believe Valentine’s Day to be one in a long line of commercially exploited holidays, this evening will find me at the dining room table cutting out tiny capes (and swearing) in an attempt to inject a little joy into my young son’s school celebration.

I do this not because I am Mom of the Year (last time I checked, I was ranked a distant 7,383,458) but because I am nostalgic for the days when holidays in school really meant something. Say what you will, there were some things the 70’s really had going for them.

I do it because this is the only holiday kids still celebrate in our public schools. And I think it’s sad. I understand why we secularize the schools, and at a foundational level I approve, but it still feels joyless. Gone are the days when school children learned Christmas carols at school, or discussed, with reverence, the first Thanksgiving, a particularly polarizing event where we live.

Even Halloween, with its costumed parade and party, is gone. (Although why it is deemed more threatening than a holiday named after St. Valentine I do not know. I think it has more to do with enforcing the dress code and the zero-tolerance weapons policy.)

When I was a kid, valentines were something to see. They were actual cards that opened and closed, and they were delivered in envelopes with your name carefully printed on the front. And giving the valentines was as fun as getting them. Each card in the box was different, and we spent hours matching each card to the appropriate recipient. (Although, come to think of it, there was always one dog you ended up giving to the kid who sat behind you during science and threw wadded-up paper into your hair.)

But I’m honoring the good times, so tiny capes it is, soon to be affixed to 30 gluten-free, peanut-free, cherry suckers. Bring on the scissors. And maybe a glass of wine or two.

While there will be no trophy, my effort did earn me some faint praise from my son. As he put it, “Regular moms just buy valentines at the store, but you do a lot of work. You’re an irregular mom.”

Oh, and by the way – should you desire to make the little capes yourselves, here is a link to the pattern from Zakka Life. Surely you didn’t think I made this one up on my own? If yes, you clearly are not a regular reader.

Superhero Valentine

Picture and project credit:

Have a good one, commercial exploitation and all.


#5: Company Christmas party on Christmas Eve

holiday matrix

Or, 10 excuses to get you out of the annual office holiday party.

When I wrote my satirical holiday series last year, I never imagined there were actually employers cruel enough to schedule the annual office party on Christmas Eve. However, the blighted individual behind today’s sad and desperate search term seems to work for Ebenezer Scrooge himself.

While I may be too late to save this poor soul, here are a few excuses to get you out of that lousy, last-minute need to feign office goodwill.

I’m sorry, I can’t attend this year because…

  1. I have a delivery to pick up in Whoville.
  2. It takes me hours to position my elf on the shelf.
  3. I think I’m coming down with the flu, and wouldn’t dream of disrupting the blessed holiday events of my beloved coworkers.
  4. I have to assemble a 1000-piece wooden, Victorian dollhouse, and a bicycle this evening.
  5. I still have Christmas shopping to do.
  6. I’m trying to make the last post office pick-up time before the holidays.
  7. If I don’t get to the grocery store, we’ll be having spaghetti and meatballs for Christmas dinner.
  8. I have to thaw a turkey.
  9. I hit the Christmas prune strudel a little early and must stay near the facilities.
  10. I need to pick up my items for Valentine’s Day before the stores are sold out.

I hope one of these will suit you. If not, and you’re in the holiday spirit, please share your no-fail excuse for skipping the office party in the comments. Consider it your selfless gift to mankind.

Read the holiday series

Read the original series

A disclaimer: While it perhaps shouldn’t need saying, let me remind you that I have no credentials, training or certifications of any kind that would qualify me to mete out advice to anyone. This is a humor blog. If you don’t find it funny, well, that’s another issue.

Christmas Past – 2013

As I write my annual, snarky holiday letter, I’m revisiting some highlights of past years. From my heart to yours. With apologies.

imageHow They Spent the Year

While Sarah spent 2013 pursuing that most lucrative of endeavors – blogging – her loved ones expended their energy in different ways:


Spent it seeing if he could experience every virus known to man, sort of like a round-the-world beer tour only with no beer and, so far, no t-shirt.

Highlight: Being abandoned at urgent care with pneumonia and a double ear infection because Sarah didn’t want to sit for 90 minutes in a room full of sick people. Her compassionate parting words: “Text me when you’re done.”

Child #1 (age 14)

Spent the year trying to hide the fact that she was watching TV on her phone.

Highlight: Her dance team taking a first place at a competition where all the other teams’ moms were wearing matching jackets. (Not hers.)

Child #2 (age 11)

Spent the year in truly offensive used lacrosse gear.

Highlight: Eating a piece of insulation because it looked and smelled like cotton candy.

Child #3 (age 9)

Spent the year vigorously pursuing his self-study of World War I .

Highlight: A discussion with his great-aunt, a history professor, on the impact of the Zimmermann Telegram.

Read other years:







Christmas Past – 2012

As I write my annual, snarky Christmas letter, I’m revisiting some highlights of past years. From my heart to yours. With apologies.

IMG_1332Mild Weather Disrupts Winter Activities

The only thing Minnesotans complain about more than a harsh winter is a mild winter. While global warming has definitely benefited those of us in the frozen north with milder temperatures, earlier springs, and warmer falls, there is a downside.

Ski Season

Warm temperatures and a lack of snow present a conflict for those families enrolled in ski school. After skipping a few weekends, the Days decided that navigating rocks and patches of grass was preferable to wasting the exorbitant (and nonrefundable) ski school enrollment fees. Fortunately, only minor injuries resulted.

Winter Recreation Camp

The boys spent two days at an overnight winter recreation camp despite the lack of even a single flake of snow. They reported that the highlight of camp was tobogganing down the inside of a huge (and fortunately empty) sewer pipe. Oh, and baking cookies, a classic Minnesota winter activity.

Important Economic Categories

Tragically, as reported in the January 20th edition of the local newspaper, the ice wine season was officially cancelled due to a lack of ice-generating temperatures. Not addressed: The question “What is ice wine?”

A Snapshot from March

  • 4 lacrosse games
  • 9 lacrosse practices
  • 11 dance classes
  • 2 dance competitions
  • 4 baseball clinics
  • 4 piano lessons
  • 4 chess club meetings
  • 4 birthday parties
  • 8 swim lessons
  • 5 school events
  • 3 school conferences
  • 3 round-trips to the airport
  • 2 trips to the orthodontist
  • 1 opera

And finally to end the month…one well-deserved vacation!

Tomorrow, excerpts from 2013…

Read other years:






Christmas Past – 2011

As I write my annual, snarky Christmas letter, I’m revisiting some highlights of past years. From my heart to yours. With apologies.

Sporting the latest in orthopedic resort wear

Sporting the latest in orthopedic resort wear

How They Spent the Year

Sarah – Rehabbing a knee she severely sprained by following her hot-dogging husband down an icy black diamond ski run, an injury incurred three days before the Days’ first kid-free vacation trip in a decade.

Mr. Day – Flying to and from Detroit for meetings with auto companies, proving that the economic stimulus funds benefited at least one family.

Child #1 – Begging for a phone during the first half of the year, and on the phone for the second half of the year.

Child #2 – Memorizing every Calvin and Hobbes cartoon ever written.

Child #3 – Trying to hit the B flat while playing the Star Spangled Banner on the piano.

Other Sweet Memories…

  • January – The Days ignore ice dams on the roof that are causing water to drip through the recessed lights in the kitchen.
  • March – Child #2 climbs (and then falls out of) a tree while wearing boots and snow pants.
  • April – First little league game of the season snowed out. Second little league game of the season snowed out.
  • May – Child #1 comes up early in the rotation at his first ever piano recital. No one from the family is there to see it.
  • June – Child #2 hits the first triple of his baseball career. No one from the family is there to see it.
  • November – Sarah shows off the new roof, gutters and soffits announcing, “Look up kids, there’s our new car!”
  • December – Sarah adjusts to working out with a personal trainer young enough to be her son.

Tomorrow, excerpts from 2012…

Read other years:





Christmas Past – 2010

As I write my annual, snarky Christmas letter, I’m revisiting some highlights of past years. From my heart to yours. With apologies.

Feigning enthusiasm at Carhenge

Feigning enthusiasm at Carhenge

A Family Portrait

Child #3, age 6. When not playing the piano, he can be found playing football in the hallway with his brother. This week’s football highlights: Knocking out both top front teeth and a bloody nose. He is currently on injured reserve.

Child #2, age 8. When not pulverizing his brother while playing football, he can be found watching football, reading about football, or thinking about football. Unless he’s playing baseball or skiing. Fined $25,000 this week for unnecessary roughness.

Child #1, age 11. She can be found engaging in typical pre-teen activity like emailing the same friend 18 times a day and begging for a phone. She also dances, plays the clarinet, and skis as far away from her brothers as possible.

Mr. Day, pushing middle age. Cannot be found. It is believed he is flying back and forth between New York and San Francisco in a last minute attempt to retain his Delta Airlines platinum status.

Sarah, ageless, like in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Can be found either in yoga class trying unsuccessfully to breathe or in her home office trying unsuccessfully to multitask. Has taken to crafting limericks during periods of meditation.

Highlights from the Year

  • January – Treated cats and kids for mange.
  • February – Replaced stove and washer when they failed within 12 hours of each other.
  • April – Freezer accidentally thawed; salmon, bacon, tomato sauce and strawberry rhubarb pies for a week.
  • June – Faked intention to complete summer math workbooks.
  • July – Forgot to schedule a birthday party for Child #2.
  • August – Child #3 throws up in the saloon at Buckskin Joe’s Wild West World.
  • November – Shovel first 12″ snowstorm of the year. Hurray!
  • December – Shovel first 22″ snowstorm of  the year. Hurray!

Tomorrow, excerpts from 2011…

Read other years:





Christmas Past – 2009

As I write my annual, snarky Christmas letter, I’m revisiting some highlights of past years. From my heart to yours. With apologies.

Skipped Trip to Corn Palace Stirs Controversy

The Days traveled to the Black Hills of South Dakota this summer in their first family road trip to extend beyond the middle of the state. Since their plans included every other tourist attraction on the route, Sarah vetoed the annual trek to the Corn Palace in Mitchell.


Tour guide at Custer State Park

“I thought one tourist trap per trip was sufficient and the Petrified Forest more than fit the bill,” Sarah explained. “There is not much to do at the Corn Palace except look at corn, although it is displayed in a very attractive fashion.”

Sarah could not recall the classic car display the family claimed to have seen the previous year.

“You were too busy looking for the exits to notice,” her husband pointed out.


Tomorrow, excerpts from 2010…

Read other years:





Christmas Past – 2008

As I write my annual, snarky Christmas letter, I’m revisiting some highlights of past years. From my heart to yours. With apologies.

Two of Three Kids Master Ski Lift

The Days introduced the kids to skiing this spring in Idaho. Even Child #3 was able to participate in ski school. Miraculously, though he was age 3 at sea level, his age increased to 4 once the family reached higher elevations.

ski photo

Unfortunately, after two days of skiing, Child #3 was still exiting the chair lift in a face-down position.

“Well, there’s always next year,” Sarah said blithely, brushing the snow out of his nostrils.

Fun Economic Facts 

Due to the the recent meltdown of the economy:

  • The Days have delayed retirement to age 85
  • Child #1 will have to work two jobs while in college
  • Child #2 will attend community college
  • Child #3 will attend McDonald’s Hamburger University
  • The value of the Days’ stock portfolio is now roughly equivalent in value to a 1980 Volkswagen Vanagon

Birth Announcement

In a bow to rising gas prices, Mr. Day traded in his SUV for a subcompact named Bubbles. At birth, Bubbles weighed 2489 pounds and was 161.6″ long.

“You’d think I’d be buying a mid-life crisis car,” said Mr. Day, “But pride only goes so far at $4.00 a gallon.”

Tomorrow, excerpts from 2009…

Read other years: