snow angelIt is winter in the northern hemisphere and in most of the country, that means snow. Snow is one of the more curious of the weather phenomena. Snow is touted as the epitome of heterogeneity in that every snowflake is different. At least that’s what we’ve been led to believe. It is also said that no two fingerprints are alike, and from personal experience I can tell you that no two recipes for bread pudding are alike. But snowflakes set the diversity standard.

Snow, unlike rain or fog, can be molded into shapes. The basic shape is the snowball, and from there you learn the snowman and the snow fort. If you lie on your back and flap your arms up and down while opening and closing you legs, you will create a snow angel. And a carpet of newly fallen snow that covers the yard looks like a blank canvas, to which you can sign your name. Drink fluids beforehand.

A lot of winter sports rely on snow. Skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing wouldn’t be the same without snow. They’d be a lot slower. Tobogganing, hockey, and bobsledding need ice, which is just hard snow. When I was a kid, our favorite winter sport was skitching. To skitch, you grab hold of the bumper of a car moving in the snow, and hitch a ride. Great fun until the invention of rock salt.

The tricky part about snow is driving in it. Snow can turn a perfectly good road into a Slip-N-Slide. Since my house is on a curve, I set up a camera to take pictures as cars take the turn too fast and spin around. Just like the photo taken on Space Mountain at Disney World.

The absolute worst thing about snow is that you have to shovel it. Snow can be very heavy and will certainly give you a heart attack. Fearing the “big one”, I purchased a snowblower. This was a good idea at first, but when you try to start it after storing it all summer, you wind up yanking on the rope until you give yourself a heart attack. It’s a lose-lose situation.

When I was a kid, we used to make money by going door to door, shoveling snow for two dollars. Hardly any kids partake in this entrepreneurship today, and if they do, they want twenty bucks, plus medical and dental.

I know that I could avoid the snow by moving someplace like Phoenix, or hell, but I enjoy snow and I urge you to embrace it, grab onto it, and heap it into piles. Then, come over to my house and shovel my drive. Go fast, I’ll give you a picture.

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This is the time of year when people start to reflect on the year gone by and plan for the year to come. They make resolutions for the new year which are promises that they will keep for 30 days at the most. I never make New Year’s resolutions because a year is a long time to keep a promise and I know I can’t do it. That’s why I am making Christmas resolutions, promises I’m pretty sure I can keep for a day. Here are my Christmas resolutions.Unknown

  1. I resolve to remain relatively sober on Christmas so that I don’t pass out in my pie again.

2. I resolve to look at every gift I receive, no matter how crappy it is, and remark, “Well would you look at this!”

3. I resolve not to hang any mistletoe in the house to limit sexual harassment complaints.

4. I resolve to eat no more than 12 cookies a day.

5. I resolve to save the bows from the packages even though they only cost about a nickel.

6. I resolve to take pictures of dinner and NOT post them on the internet.

7. I resolve to recycle everything I can including wrapping paper, boxes, and that crappy gift I pretended to like.

8. I resolve not to make vomiting sounds when the Jello squares with fruit chunks imbedded in them are passed my way.

9. I resolve to drop $10 in the Salvation Army kettle, one quarter at a time, so they have to say thank you 40 times.

10. I resolve not to do any work on the day after Christmas because it is Boxing Day in Canada and they are very close to us, so why not latch onto their holiday too.

And finally, I resolve to make as many people laugh as I can, because even though it’s a holiday, comedy never sleeps.


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The closer we get to Christmas, the more apparent crass consumerism becomes. Kids line up in department stores to meet Santa and tell him what they expect for Christmas. Santa just says, “All right little Suzy, you betcha”, which is a horrible thing to say if your name is not Suzy.Happy-Elf-800

On Christmas Day, the presents arrive and Santa gets all the credit, along with all the snacks along the way. This is where I see a potential problem at the pole.

Santa gets all  the credit but the elves do all the work and it’s high time we talked about equal rights for elves. All year long, a dedicated team of elves crank out toys at the North Pole so that Santa can give them away from his reindeer-powered space sleigh. But what thanks do they get?

You never see Santa saying something like, “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my elves.” It makes me wonder if the elves are working there of their own free will? If so, how much are they being paid? Do they get health insurance? What about retirement? I think it’s time to know.

After gratuitous internet research, I discovered the real history of Santa’s elves. In the beginning, Santa Ltd. was a small non-profit start-up, making and delivering toys. It was a neighborhood tradition but soon it went viral, and spread throughout Europe like the bubonic plague.

Santa loved the publicity but knew that to make and deliver more toys, he was going to need more space and a  big crew. He found a great deal on real estate deal at the North Pole and he and Mrs. Clause moved in. Santa knew that to run a toy making business of such an epic scale, he would need workers. He went for a walk through town and noticed the doors on the buildings were shorter, and there was no big and tall mens store. He put two and two together and realized that he was in Elf Land. Everybody in town, except for Santa and Mrs. Clause, was an elf, and Santa knew there would be no shortage – pun intended – of workers for his toy factory.

The first year Santa employed 20 elves but that number swelled to over 200 during the Cabbage Patch craze of the 80’s. Currently Santa Ltd. employs over 500 seasonal elves. The elves receive a fair wage, regular raises, and are non-union. They are independent contractors and not long ago, one of them went rogue.

One elf broke away from the toy-making mold and struck out on his own. The runaway elf became the Elf on a Shelf. Elf on a Shelf is popular with both kids and adults. Each day, the elf is placed in a different location in the home and from this lair, he spies on the kids. The elf sees everything they do and if they rack up too many “naughty” points, Santa will be alerted and they won’t get crap for Christmas. That’s the story we tell them so they can celebrate the days before Christmas under the watchful eye of an elfin spy. Merry Christmas and Paranoia on Earth.

To learn more about the elf culture, visit, and write your congressperson to demand elf rights.

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I love customs. The ones connected to holidays, not the ones you have to go through at the airport. I also love that every holiday has its own customs, and Christmas has the most.

When one thinks of holiday customs, the first thing that comes to mind is the HolidayEggnog-GettyImages-173614342-583eca393df78c6f6a38d12cThanksgiving tradition of E-D-A; Eating, Drinking, and Arguing. On the Fourth of July, customs include backyard barbecues, and losing digits from fireworks. And on St. Patrick’s Day, you might follow the custom of passing out. These are all great customs but for a true custom aficionado, Christmas is the mother lode.

For starters, it is a custom at Christmas to decorate your home. Most people use lights to achieve their look, while others rely on oversized inflatable characters. These things are fine with me as long as they stay inflated, but alas, that is not the case. To save electricity, most inflatable aficionados unplug their characters during the day, leaving them lying on the ground, flat and lifeless. Try explaining to a five year old why Santa is dead on the lawn.

Another Christmas tradition is the Christmas tree. You have a choice between real trees and artificial trees, to decorate in your home. If you customarily cut your own tree, remember C-F-S, Check For Squirrels. When I was a kid, my dad had the tradition of putting up the Christmas tree on the day before Christmas, and pretty soon, the whole house would smell like aluminum.

When do you open your Christmas presents? Some families have the custom of opening their gifts on Christmas Eve, while others opt for Christmas morning. This is also the time that the contents of the stockings are opened. I never understood the custom of hanging a sock by the fireplace. How much stuff can you fit in a sock. And what if you don’t have a fireplace? Do you nail your sock to the wall? I just leave a shoebox by the fireplace. It holds more and I don’t have to give up a sock.

Some folks honor the tradition of drinking egg nog during the holidays. I am not one of these folks. To me, eggnog tastes like a raw omelet. Egg Beaters over ice. My dad liked egg nog because it mixed well with rum, but I prefer to have my eggs cooked, with a shot of rum on the side.

One custom that is rapidly fading away is the Christmas card. People used to send loads of Christmas cards every year. My mother would set up a card table in front of the TV and spend hours addressing a zillion Christmas cards. My job was to apply the stamps, which were only available as lick-ons at the time. Good thing I liked the taste of glue. Now, Christmas wishes are sent via e-mail which, in my opinion, sucks, but as long as you are reading this, “Merry Christmas to you and yours.”

And, of course, there is the Christmas custom of going to church. If you are the kind of person who attends church just once a year, Christmas is your big day, and if you like it, you might come back at Easter. In my family, it was my mother’s custom that we attend both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day church services., and when Christmas fell on a Saturday we wound up going to church three days in a row. Ho, ho, ho, pass the egg nog.

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It’s THAT season again

It is the holiday season, a time for peace on earth and goodwill towards man. Yeah, right, outdoor_christmas_decoration_maybe it is on paper but in real life the holiday season means shopping,  drinking, and over indulgence, and the place people have become the most over indulgent is the area of holiday decorations.

It used to be so easy. When I was a kid, we decorated our house for the holidays with one string of lights that had bulbs the size of small gerbils. The lights stretched across the front porch and took dad less than a six-pack to install. The entire budget for holiday decorations was used for replacement bulbs.

Fast forward to today when the average home is decorated with enough colored lights, animated characters, inflatable Santas, and flashing displays to turn the typical suburban home into a poor man’s Las Vegas…or a rich man’s Branson. The decorations are nice but the competition is rampant among homeowners who try to outdo each  other in the use of holiday voltage.

These displays are ostentatious, gaudy, and cost thousands of dollars. Gaudy and ostentatious do not bother me but the cost is high enough to turn holiday decorating into a rich man’s hobby. What can the average Joe do to compete in this ritual? After watching shows like Design on a Dime, I became obsessed with the idea of developing Christmas decorations that are both eye-catching and affordable. Here are some ideas.

Use Your Recyclables – Fill plastic soda bottles with colored water and hang them from the trees. Construct a Christmas tree in your front yard by stacking empty Budweiser cans. And turn your entire abode into a shiny ornament by stapling empty pie tins and pieces of aluminum foil to the front of your house. If you live in a cul-de-sac, the headlights of oncoming traffic will light the neighborhood in reflective brilliance.

Recycle Your Current Decorations – There is no reason to own decorations that are only usable for one holiday. Take the Jack-O-Lantern for example. These pumpkins are only seen during Halloween but there’s no reason you can’t extend their usefulness by gluing some cotton on the jaw and plopping a red hat on top. Presto, you’ve got a Santa-O-Lantern. I put skeletons in my yard for Halloween  but then I use bathrobes and Burger King crowns to turn them into the three magi for Christmas. And

Borrow Stuff – Everybody knows somebody who has a lot of decorations.              These people also buy a lot of decorations every year, so if you ask to borrow a string of lights or two, they will gladly give them to you. A string of lights here and an animated Santa there, and presto, you’ve got a festive front yard. Plus, after a couple of years, the people you borrowed the stuff from will forget all about it and will probably let you borrow even more. This method works best if you move a lot.

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