An Offensive Gift, A False Scripture and a Moose; A Christmas at Work Worth Forgetting

Merry Christmas.

With holiday sentiments safely out of the way, let me tell you about a Christmas present I got at work. Rather, let me be vague about it and assure you that it was offensive. It was good naturedly offensive and I took no real offense at it. But I wanted to convey that I had been off put. Since I’m not saying much about the gift itself, I’ll go on at length about my response to the gift.

My response involved the fabrication of scripture. I understand that some may find this blasphemous (although I mean no disrespect to true scripture), and some may be offended merely by the mention of scriptures, religion or Jesus. If you are offended by such things, consider yourself forewarned that you may disregard this post as you see fit and hold me blameless.

Having performed my due diligence, and assuming you are still reading, I present below the full text of my response to the offensive gift:

Dear Sekrit Santuh (this is how the attached card was signed),

Thank you so much for the gift! I found it to be rather offensive. As I assume this was your intent, I applaud you on a job well done.

It wasn’t offensive in the way you might imagine, however. You see, I do not believe in Santuh. Neither do I celebrate the holiday he is associated with. I celebrate the holiday that inspired Christmas, which was originally called the Festival of Christ’s Moose.

This special day was set aside to commemorate the year that Jesus, upon his birthday, took leave of the Holy Lands and rode a moose to Anchorage. As he rode, a multitude of Inuits and Eskimos began following him saying, “Savior, teach us and lead us to salvation.” And Jesus, having pity on them, dismounted his moose and began to preach to them saying, “Blessed are the cold in heart, for they shall find warmth.”  And as he was preaching, the multitude began to grumble against him saying, “We hunger.”

And as they were grumbling, a thunderous noise was heard in the East and from behind a sparse copse of evergreen trees emerged a large, white man-like creature that walkethed upon two legs. And as the multitude hungered and cowered, the creature roared and it did beat upon its chest and did fall upon them with violent intent. And as the creature came forth to devour them, the multitude cried out to Jesus saying, “Savior, save us!”

And Jesus, having pity on them, stopped preaching and he said to his moose, “Go!” And his moose went and it plunged its antlers into the creature and killed it. And Jesus, remembering their grumbling, blessed the creature and tore it asunder and filled many baskets with the pieces and fed the multitude. And they who were once cold were filled with a warmth and it was not a physical warmth, yea, it was a warmth of the heart.

This is why most Christmas celebrations include Christmas Dinner, however, it should rightly be called Christ’s Moose’s Dinner and the main course should include Yeti steaks. Since these are very hard to come by, modern day celebrants have seen fit to do away with the truths behind the holiday and celebrate Jesus’ birth by eating turkey, a known non-cryptid.

Thanks again and may you all have a hairy Christ’s Moose.

Signature omitted

And thusly were those who offensively gifted me regaled. Much to my wife’s dismay, I also attempted to regale the children with a similar tale. They disregarded it out of hand. Smart kids.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…know that I understand the severity of creating one’s own scripture. It was a joke meant to shame my co-workers. I’ll not attempt to build a church around it or encourage others to adhere to my false tenets.

A don’t…read any truth into what I’ve concocted. The most that you can take away from it is that moose exist and it is cold in Anchorage. I’ve seen no real evidence to suggest Jesus ever even saw a moose in his Earthly incarnation.

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What Happens to Mrs. Claus?

I find Christmas tolerable. I enjoy the aspects of family togetherness and excited children. We try to teach the kids that they need to be thankful even if what they get isn’t exactly what they wanted and that getting presents isn’t the most important thing. Isn’t it strange, though, that we teach this lesson by having them give? Selflessness is certainly important, but if someone is giving, someone else must be receiving, thereby somewhat negating the message. Of course, in most cases the receiver is in a state of less fortunate-ness, but I don’t know if my kids think about it deeply enough to realize that, although we try to instill helping those in need as well. Hopefully they won’t even look at it deeply enough to realize that when they give, someone is doing something we are trying to teach them isn’t so important, which is the getting. But we try to give to getters who need to get. It’s really a mess. A paradox I can’t quite fathom or throw sufficient philosophy towards at this point in time.

Since my aforementioned state of lacking sufficient (insert your favorite philosopher’s name)-ness is apparent, I’ll move on to the actual question I hope to answer.

What happens to Mrs. Claus?

My wife and I recently watched the Santa Clause movies, as is our custom this time of year. We’ve both been watching them since they began to exist and, for some reason, it wasn’t until this year that either one of us noticed the most glaring question the first two movies pose. My wife inquired thusly:

“What happens to Mrs. Claus?”

In the first movie Santa (spoiler alert) dies and is replaced by another man. In the second, in order to remain Santa, the new Santa must abide by the Mrs. clause and find a Mrs. Claus.

Fine and dandy. That will, and did, make a movie of the Christmas type.

But neither movie ever mentions, that I noticed anyway, what happens to the other Santa’s Mrs. Claus. She had to exist for the premise of the second movie to be believable. So, what happens to her?

Did she die long ago? Did they get divorced? Is there some clause we aren’t privy to that states that a once-married Santa remains Santa after the termination, by death or divorce, of his marriage? That is possible, but seems a stretch even for a movie.

Did she die with her Santa? When Santa died in the first film, he somehow evaporated. Did his wife do the same upon his death?  My wife’s scenario purported that she was baking cookies at the time of Santa’s death and suddenly seized, falling stiff and lifeless to the floor. Then she, as her husband before her, simply became one with the atmosphere. I suppose I could live with that.

This idea, though, suggests some sort of bond that seems less than symbiotic. It reminded me of E.T.’s flower. It lives as he does, dies as he does, but does neither party any discernible good. In the Santa Clause scenario, Mr. Claus retains his status by forming the bond, but what benefit is there to the secondary relationship holder? How would that clause read?

It is necessary that the party primary to this agreement commit a matrimony upon you to retain his status as Santa. You, being less than primary yet no less necessary, at least for now, gain no benefit from this one-sided symbiosis. (I know a one-sided symbiosis is not a thing.) If the primary party should meet some sort of demise, you also are doomed. If you should die before the primary party, said primary party suffers no ill effect other than, perhaps, a bout of grief. The primary party will stifle this grief, however, by losing himself in his work and causing so much joy that he could not possibly thereafter be unhappy. Please sign below to indicate that you are certifiably insane.

The movies are good. They are light-hearted and cause me to experience laughter and a basic joyousness. But for crying out loud, what happens to Mrs. Claus.

This post is dedicated to my wife, without whose insight I’d have spent the evening conversing with her or something.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…consider the dark recesses of the happiest of holidays. It’s a little fun.

A don’t…marry Santa. What a one-sided mess of a marriage you’ll doubtless endure.

Figgy Pudding…? Holiday Hooligans and an Odd Demand

Figgy pudding? I ask you “What?” in a couple of ways. And quite rhetorically, mind you.

I’m not only going to ask what it is, I’m also asking what it isn’t.

It obviously isn’t pudding made with figs. If that were the case, it would be called fig pudding.

Figgy indicates that it is fig-like without actually containing figs. But fig-like in what way? Is it of a fig-esque consistency and/or color? Is it any sort of pudding you like with a false fig flavoring added? Or is it a British form of pudding that isn’t a sweet at all and figgy means something in British English that doesn’t even reference the fruit?

All of these questions are rhetorical, as I mentioned. I don’t care to know the answer. Either way it goes, I’m determined not to like figgy pudding. If I want a dessert pudding, I’ll go with banana or butterscotch. If I want a savory pudding my go-to is the Yorkshire variety.

Now we come to the Holiday Hooligans. I have been blessed in that never in my life time have I been accosted by roving Carolers. I’m sure they mean well. Well, I used to give them the benefit of the doubt until I thought deeply on the subject.

Before I get into that, though, let me tell you how I felt about Carolers before I learned that, whether they know it or not, they are in reality hooligans.

I don’t know how to handle Carolers. I don’t know the etiquette. I have thought about it a lot because I am a person for whom the big setbacks in life are inspiring, but the minor irritants are sources of extreme worry and anxiety. What is expected of me if Carolers tromp into my lawn and, with warm and happy hearts, serenade me with songs of the season? Do I part the blinds and peer out at them? Do I stand just inside my screen door and listen? Do I step out onto the lawn? Do I join them or applaud when they’re done? Do I have to indicate somehow that I’ve been sufficiently caroled and they can move on? Do I tip them? Or do I just sit in my house and wonder when they’ll leave? Thankfully, I’ve never had to find out.

Now, the hooligan thing. I don’t believe present day Carolers, if they exist somewhere, intentionally threaten anyone. But they do give a clue in a common carol as to how to indicate that they’ve done their job. They just do it in such a threatening manner. “Bring us figgy pudding!” They demand. “We shan’t leave until we get some!” They threaten. “Fa la la la la!” They harass.

There are two problems here, should I ever find myself caroled. First, I don’t know what figgy pudding is and, based on the terrible implications of its name, I refuse to find out. If they are true to their word, I’ll have permanent living yard art should Carolers ever ply their craft upon my lawn. Second, what if they don’t sing this song? I’ll have no clue how to let them know the time has come to depart.

I suppose both eventualities present the same conundrum, but at least if I ever find myself being shaken down for figgy pudding I can call upon some neighbor to produce some and satisfy the good-hearted hooligans who threaten and harass in a spirit of good cheer.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…be sure that you keep homeowners such as myself in mind should you ever go caroling. Some of us simply don’t know how to handle such things.

A don’t…think me a Scrooge-esque individual. I don’t yell “Bah!” in the faces of purveyors of humbug. I don’t have the money to be a miser. I don’t have it in my heart to hate anyone for attempting to spread cheer. I simply dislike the method of satiating Carolers. Also, I’d say that at best I’m merely semi-social. I’m very awkward socially. I’ve no idea how to react. I’m sure if I ever was caroled I’d offend the Carolers with my clumsy attempts to go through the motions of appearing appreciative.

I Believe in Bigfoot, But Does He Believe in Me? A Question That Doesn’t Really Need to be Answered

As may or may not be evident by the photo accompanying this post, I believe in Bigfoot. I won’t say that I believe completely in his existence; instead, I believe in the idea of Bigfoot and his plausibility as a living creature.

But is the reverse true for Bigfoot, if he exists? Does Bigfoot believe in me? As far as I’m aware, Bigfoot has never seen me. I’ve certainly never seen him. If he believes in the few representatives of Humankind he may have seen, he at least believes in me by proxy and this brings me some sort of comfort.

I like to think, though, that there are fringe Bigfoots (Bigfeet? Thank you Tolkien for your Proudfoots/Proudfeet exploration. It intrigues us still today.) out there that, being more adventurous than their contemporaries, have sought out the strange sounds blasting through the woods and laid eyes upon a Human or group of humans. Perhaps these “outsider” Sasquatches lope home and grunt excitedly to their families and peers about the small, hairless, bi-pedal Sasquatchoid creatures they have seen.

Perhaps Bigfoot, too, knows the sting of being thought crazy by the majority of his society.

Maybe there are even Bigfoot Human watching groups. Perhaps it is called something like the H.uman B.eing R.esearch O.rganization or the Bigfoot grunting/howling equivalent of that. Perhaps they try to imitate the sounds of shotgun blasts or are hard at work producing the fluorescent orange colors they’ve seen during deer season. Maybe there’s some enterprising young Bigfoot developing scents he associates with people. I don’t know what they would be. Something unique that we probably can’t smell since woodsmen and hunters generally avoid scented aftershaves and colognes and such while searching for creatures to eat or study. Perhaps to Bigfoot we smell as bad as I’ve heard Bigfoot smells to people. Skunk Ape indeed. How crude and completely uncalled for.

And what if, just what if, the responses people claim to hear when they are call blasting into the night aren’t actual Bigfoot responses at all. What if these recordings people play to attract Bigfoot are something else altogether and Bigfoot, hearing these strange sounds and sometimes then seeing people, thinks these are the noises people make and is simply regurgitating what he hears in an attempt to attract us?

What if somewhere there is a Bigfoot attempting to imitate human speech and some Bigfoot researcher or frightened camper will one day hear from back in the tree line a tentative and gravelly “Hello?”

Just some food for thought. Bigfoot, whether real, imagined, hoaxed or misidentified, is a veritable buffet of such mental edibles.

And maybe he even believes in, or doubts the existence of, us.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…try to see both sides of all arguments. Some arguments, however, have two different sides from two or more distinct sub-groups. These 4 or more dimensional arguments are worth looking into from every angle.

A don’t…get caught up in the Bigfoots/Bigfeet plurality conundrum. It just isn’t really worth it. After all, rather than aruging semantics, you could be busy looking for a group of Big…well, you get where I’m going, I’m sure.

Some Restaurant Whose Name I Dare Not Remember; A Disaster in Mexican-American Fusion

Greetings!,

I wish to regale you with a tale. It isn’t a tale of hope. It isn’t even a pleasurable tale. It is instead a tale of a horrible mistake. A mistake made by a young man and his father. It may be pleasurable to you. Being detached from the actual experience, you may find it quite humorous. Read on that you may be enlightened as to your reaction.

Before I begin, I firstly disclaim that, although I tell a tale of woe, I do not seek to discredit anyone whatsoever. It is perhaps a benefit that I do not remember the name of the terrible Mexican restaurant my father and I visited. Nor do I remember the town that it was in, although the state was Oklahoma. Go figure. Ridiculous Turnpike tolls and horrible Mexican restaurants. The only good thing to come out of Oklahoma for me is my beautiful and amazing wife. Well, her and that one Toby Keith song.

My father and I once traveled to a town fairly foreign to us to tow home one of our family’s cars that had broken down on the cursed Turnpike. After hooking up the car to my pickup truck, we decided that we were hungry. We pulled, connected and carefully, into a small town gas station and inquired as to the availability of “good food” in the area. The attendant for some reason suggested the Mexican place. Perhaps it was the only restaurant in the tiny town. If so, I’m sure the inhabitants rue their future for it is one bereft of culinary class and diversity.

We traversed the tiny roads, happy for the low population and empty streets, until the route we had been given terminated in the Mexican “restaurant” whose praises had been sung (sang? No, it’s sung.) at the gas station. In retrospect we should’ve considered the source. I’m not saying that gas station attendants have no taste. All I’m saying is that the edibles offered by gas station attendants generally inspire diarrhea.

We entered the place and were shown to a table by some people who were by no means Mexican. This should have been our first clue. My father and I are, however, quite dumb. We sat down and perused the menu. After ordering drinks my father proclaimed a need to evacuate either his liquid or solid waste repositories. I can’t remember which, and it probably is irrelevant and disgusting to try and remember anyway. He requested that, should the waitress approach before his return, I order him the buffet.

As it turned out, I placed our order, two buffets, as he was still preoccupied with his evacuations. I approached the wanting self-serve bar and filled a plate. There wasn’t much to choose from. The buffet was perhaps three feet long. There was some ground beef that had dried out on the top, a pan with taco shells that had cracked down the middle and some wilted lettuce.

Attempting to avoid diarrhea, I loaded my plate with the only other thing on offer that day, jalapeno poppers. Or so I thought. I returned to the table and, before my father returned, I had time to bite into a popper and be disappointed and confused.

When dad got back to the table, the waitress was there refilling my drink. Dad requested the house made salsa and went to fill a plate. When he returned, he found on the table a bowl of ketchup with jalapenos sliced into it and cilantro sprinkled on top.

As he sat he said with a grin, “You must experience the bathroom!”. After having eaten a few “jalapeno poppers” I was only to quick to agree. Before making my exit, however, I lifted a “popper” in salute and watched as he also bit into one. His face creased, as mine had, in disappointment and confusion.

They were not, in fact, jalapeno poppers. They weren’t, in any respect, Mexican food at all. They were pigs in a blanket.

As dad sat regretting our choice, I visited the men’s room, another choice to be regretted. The toilet sat upon a raised rostrum not even large enough to support the entire base of the toilet. Sitting upon this was an experience I’ll not explain in detail. Who needs to read about that? Suffice it to say, it was scary. The sink, if sink it could be called, was so shallow that I couldn’t fit both hands under the stream of water at once.

After washing each hand individually, I returned to our table for the most horribly non-mundane culinary experience I’ve ever had.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…take risks when you eat out. Many times you’ll find a “diamond in the rough”.

A don’t…eat at a Mexican restaurant staffed by white people. Or, if you must, tread very carefully. They may take too many liberties and present you with unexpected and horrible Mexican-American fusion disasters.

Food That Shouldn’t Be; An Essay on a Universal Offense Against the Culinary Community and Those Who Eat for More Than Mere Survival…Part 1

If you happen to be fortunate enough to live in a part of the country, or another country altogether, where pickled rope bologna is not prevalent, count your blessings.

It is my good fortune now to live in a place where the aforementioned atrocity is not offered on the shelves of every supermarket, but this has not always been the case. When I lived in Kentucky I couldn’t enter a store that had even a single grocery shelf without being confronted by the sight of scrap meat tubes curled into gallon jars in one long and disturbing segment that resembled more of a South end offering than a treat you’d enjoy ingesting through a Northern orifice.

And to top it all off, it spends who knows how long soaking in a pinkish brine before whomever is inclined to partake in the travesty purchases it.

I’ve never cared for bologna to begin with. I know there are those who do and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest that they continue to consume it. I’m not here to try to convert anyone to non-bologna-ism.

I simply have a hard time fathoming why someone would take something terrible and make it worse. I ate pickled rope bologna one time. I was the victim of unrelenting peer pressure. I’ve never forgiven myself. Neither have my taste buds and whatever part of me it is that decides whether or not the texture of food items is pleasing.

Pickled rope bologna becomes mush while it brines. It has the same texture as supermarket liverwurst. You don’t chew it, you just mash it with your tongue against the roof of your mouth and it slides down your throat lubricated not only by saliva but also by the tangy, unnaturally pink vinegar that turns the once firm waste patty into mush in the first place.

Once was more than enough for me. In fact, becoming aware of the existence of pickled rope bologna was more than enough for me.

There may be those who truly do have a way with B O L O G N A, but it most certainly isn’t those who have chosen to shape it like a turd and brine it for any period of time.

Just my very strong opinion.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…continue to enjoy bologna if you already have a taste for it.

A don’t…try to develop a taste if you haven’t already. It truly isn’t worth it.

Re-purposed Costumes and Child Prodigies: A Proud Father Horrified

A couple of quick insights before we get into the meat of this post:

  1. Halloween costumes are cheaply made (the ones we buy are, anyway) and might as well be re-purposed.
  2. I am aware of the dangers of trampoline ownership and usage. We monitor the kids closely when they use it and have had no trampoline related injuries in the 2 years we’ve had it. Well, no injuries to the kids, anyway. I’ve pulled several muscles moving that ridiculous thing out of the way so I can mow under it. Oh, and also the blood blister from trying to stretch those extremely stiff springs during setup.
  3. Bicycles the size of the ones my 7 year old daughter and 5 year old son use are not equipped with kick stands. I take this to mean that the manufacturers do not expect that children that young will need the training wheels removed. What it likely means is that they’ve already spent money installing training wheels and don’t want to spend more on manufacturing and installing a kick stand.
  4. I choose to believe that my son, despite the bicycle manufacturers implied assumption, is a bike riding prodigy. I choose to believe he will be the bike riding equivalent of Beethoven and/or Mozart.

With all that said, let me explain the intent of this post. My son can ride a bike. He enjoys riding his bike to an extent that horrifies me because, the more confident he gets, the more risks he takes.

Before he learned how to turn, his risk was to get as close as possible to the trampoline before stopping. As his turning skills improved he decided he simply MUST try to ride around the lotus pond.

This caused me much consternation. I didn’t want to discourage him, however, I especially didn’t want him to fall into the stagnant, odiferous muck that inhabits the pond now that all the blossoms and leaves have fallen into the water. This stuff is very nearly alive and I rue the windy and overcast day that it finally burps up some strange, dripping, glob-like life form.

Side-note: I refuse to clean out the lotus pond in the fall because not only will the lotus grow up and hide it in the spring, but he muck makes a wonderful addition to mulch and I want it to get as mucky as possible before I scoop some out in the early spring to schlop onto the garden.

As soon as I saw him headed toward the pond, I took off running. He rides with his knees out to the side and I don’t know how to describe the sight, but he pumps his legs so fast that the sight of those knees bobbing out on the sides of his bike is very comical. So I laughed as I ran. Just as I caught up to him he executed a perfect turn mere inches from the edge of the pond.

When he stopped his bike by intentionally running into my theoretically evergreen tree I lectured him on the dangers of what he had just done, implied there would be consequences if he did it again and sent him off to ride a different route.

He was proud of his turn, though, and kept bringing it up. “Hey Daddy, did you see, I, I, did you see me I turned and didn’t splash?!”

Apparently this gave him confidence and, feeling that he had mastered the challenges of turning before riding into a pond, he decided it was time to tempt fate another way.

When he disappeared into the house, I figured he had to go to the bathroom. Instead he came back out in his Halloween costume and decided it would be fun to horrify the dogs and his sisters as he rode after them helter-skelter, cackling and crashing into obstacles he couldn’t see through the inadequate eye holes of the Halloween mask.

Here’s the moral of all this: There may be many ways to repurpose a Halloween mask. Bike helmet is not an acceptable option, even though it has the potential to be hilarious.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…allow you children a few eccentricities. They are good learning opportunities for you as well as them. While sometimes scary, they can also be hilarious.

A don’t…feel guilty if you monitor them closely when they have their “good ideas”. In most cases, they are envisioning positive outcomes that only exist in the realm of the miraculous.