All Wrapped Up And Nowhere To Go

While anyone who’s read my blog for longer than five minutes knows that I wear a YOU’RE NUMBER ONE finger for Christmas, there’s one party of this happy-crappy, shooting glitter out of your ass holiday I loathe.

Wrapping presents.

A lifetime ago, I’d been all, “Someday” *shakes fists at sky* “SOMEDAY I will hire someone to wrap presents for me and they’ll be beautiful and angels will burst into my living room singing the Seventh Heaven theme song.” Then I shook my fist for even more dramatic effect, even though I was alone in the house.

Well.

We all know what’s happened throughout the past year, and most days I’m pleased to have toilet paper. Apparently the Universe not only laughed at my marriage, but at my long-held desire to have Christmas presents wrapped by someone who actually has thumbs and the patience for all those bows and shit.

See, the thing is, Pranksters, I have a complex (stop gasping at the computer, I know how shocking this is for you) about gift-wrapping. I can blame it on one person; one single individual, who ruined Christmas wrapping forever.

(And no, it’s not Pinterest, which is also responsible for making me feel like an ass for not taking beautiful pictures of gilded fish you can make in four easy steps with common household ingredients because I’M NOT MOTHERFUCKING CRAFTY, PINTEREST, SO SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY).

Many, many years ago, my brother was married to a woman who I hated, and not just because we shared the same name, although I’ll admit that I *did* get sick of people calling me to speak to her, mostly because she was a raging asshole and mostly because I was a teenager. Two mostly’s make a whole, right?

Anyway.

My brother married someone who took not only my name, MY name, but also any shreds of dignity I had about the presents I’d hastily bought at Walgreens on Christmas Eve (we all know my mother LOVED the “Happy Birthday Grandson” figurine I’d bought her!), then wrapped in a mere ten minutes with paper I’d taken from my parents. They weren’t pretty packages, and while I’m dead certain everyone enjoyed (read: threw away) the candy canes filled with assorted jellies (lies), I was pretty proud of myself for being all last minute and thoughtful and shit.

(“thoughtful” here meaning “fuck, it’s already Christmas. I should probably buy all the peeing dolls I can find at Walgreens – people love those things! Especially adults because PEEING BABIES = AWESOMELY THOUGHTFUL and not at ALL POINTLESS!!)

While my packages were often wrapped in plastic drug store bags, proudly displaying not only WHERE the presents came from, but also REUSING which is part of the recycling tree or food pyramid or something (I don’t know. I was always the one in the back of the class playing Bejeweled on my phone all thug-life style), she and my brother, who then lived across town, would waltz into my parents house on Christmas Day with bags of carefully wrapped presents.

They’d place them neatly under the tree, effectively ensuring that mine now appeared to have been wrapped in burlap sacks and smeared with dog poo. She’d go all the fuck out for that shit. I’m talking $15 A SHEET wrapping paper, bows that were folded in such a fashion that even Martha Stewart would’ve been envious of – before she stole the idea and then sold it for a zillion dollars at that craft store of hers. Each package had a neatly inscribed label, probably embossed or some shit, and she even managed to get the wrapping paper to line up at the back of the package so that it looked like one fluid piece. Along with the monogrammed tags imported from Paris or one of those third world countries where child labor laws go something like, “you have arms? YOU HAVE THE JOB!” she’d always add a little extra something. A trinket or doo-dad or whoodilly or whatever.

When it came time to open her carefully wrapped presents, she’d always manage to find a thoughtful – yet tasteful – gift for each of us, but I always hated destroying what must’ve taken her hours to do. I cannot imagine how much time she’d spent on each gift, but damn, despite our “differences” that girl could motherfucking wrap. It didn’t help that it seemed to cause her excruciating pain to watch people open her gifts, which I could totally understand.

Years later, I still think of her each time I go to wrap presents because even when I try HARD to make a present look purdy, it still winds up looking as though an infant had done it. My edges don’t match. Nothing is ever straight. My bows aren’t hand-crafted with tears from Unicorns and ribbons made of Pegasus hair, they’re usually straight from the bulk bag of bows – always mangled and misshapen – I’d found at an after-Christmas sale the year prior because I’m a cheap ass who balks at paying more than two bucks a roll for wrapping paper.

I’d been intensely proud of myself for getting my gift-buying done before Christmas Eve. I’d begun trying to pat myself on the back until I got distracted when I learned that you really can’t lick your elbow, and then the packages began to arrive. And when they did, I realized I hadn’t done myself any favors. 650 square feet = no one has any secrets.

Off to Dave’s I trotted to collect some of the wrapping materials I’d bought in years past, having every intention of getting them wrapped and under my ridiculous tree before, well, Christmas. It’s going to be a hard Christmas, of that I have no doubt, and I wanted to make sure the kids didn’t remember this as “the Christmas That Sucked Balls,” because while it’s going to be hard for me, I’d rather spare them the pain.

I’ve been eying the packages, wrapping paper, and tape (that my Prankster Jolie sent me as a gift, along with an ornament for my tree, which is just awesome. The ornament, not the tree. The tree was manufactured by Satan) every day, all, “IMMA DO THIS SHIT” until I get down to it and realize that no matter how pretty the paper, no matter how nice the bows, I still loathe wrapping presents.

I’ve set my sights a lot lower than the whole I WILL SOMEDAY HIRE SOMEONE TO WRAP FOR ME RATHER THAN BRIBING MY MOTHER TO DO IT because, well, that seems prudent. Plus, that’s a huge waste of money.

This year, I’m simply hoping my presents don’t appear to have been wrapped by a blind squirrel without thumbs.

But, because I know me, I’m not holding my breath.

————

What about you, Pranksters? What’s the one thing about the holidays that makes you crazy (besides everything)(and if you say Christmas music, I will cut you because I LOVE that shit)?

It Puts The Guest Post Up Or It Gets The Hose Again – Holiday Rules Edition + Taco Bell

I have a guest post up for you today because I’m still reeling from how in love with all of you I am. You were all so sweet to me yesterday with my post about Amelia’s birthday. Thank you. I needed that. I really did mean it when I said if you were local, I’d be honored to have you (I’m in St. Charles, which is a suburb of Chicago).

Oh, yeah. I rewrote the ending last night if you’re not seeing where I invited you. I’m still inviting you. I’m also asking you this: how long does one have to plan a party if she still would like guests to show up? Like, when should I aim for, knowing her birthday is the 28th of January? Also: do people send paper invites any longer?

Wanted to tell you that have all of the emails you’ve ever sent me about Amelia in a folder that I’m saving to show her some day. I’ll have to print out all of the lovely comments, too, because Pranksters, she deserves to know how amazing her Internet Aunts and Uncles are.

ONWARD.

Taco Bell is totally copying me:

Taco Bell is Totally Copying Me

Whatever, Taco Bell. We got the Band Back Together .

I may or may not be in love with Claire. Okay, I so am. She’s hilarious and she’s awesome and she’s witty and if you cut her, I think she bleeds platinum. Total win.

I’m thrilled to have her guest post on my blog today because she’s freaking hilarious. Also, I’m guessing that my blog will probably turn to platinum now that I’ve published her Holiday Rules.

You can follow Claire on her Twitter here and her blog, Claire DeLuncay, here.

THE RULES (Holiday 2010 Edition)

OK, so here’s the thing:

Every year, I try to be a little less curmudgeonly. This vow is usually sworn at Christmastime, when, despite all the relentless marketing propaganda and crass consumerist bullshit, the idea of a being so desperate to save a bunch of idiots from themselves that he sent his only kid to be their punching bag somehow continues to resonate inside my tiny charcoal heart. That said, events of the past year (as well as my the fact that I was graciously invited by Aunt Becky to be a guest poster) have driven me to create one of my occasional “Rules” posts. For those of you who are unfamiliar, I have, as befits an underemployed and struggling author with little to no influence outside a smallish circle of very tolerant and compassionate weirdos, decreed at various times rules designed to minimize my irritation while, y’know, fixing the world ‘n’ stuff. This is one of those times. In keeping with the spirit of the season, I present “The Twelve Rules of Christmas.”

HENCEFORTH:

01) When on line in front of me at a fast food establishment (drive through or inside), acting as though you have never, ever, EVER been to any sort of restaurant or engaged in any type of human interaction is now illegal. Pulling up to the drive through in the howling snow and starting a conversation with “Now, let’s see, what do y’all have here?” as though you are in the exotic climes of some distant Caribbean isle, perusing a menu in the charming local dialect, instead of looking at pictures of tacos so dated that one features a young Celia Cruz, is EXTREMELY illegal.

02) The ban on all Snuggies™, Slankets™, and their sloth-breeding kin continues. Anyone attempting to gift me with such an item shall be summarily sentenced to wear ONLY a Snuggie throughout the course of an Ohio winter, said Snuggie having been hand-crafted out of skunk fur and the tub leavings of Robin Williams.

03) All wrapping paper, even the extra-fancy kind, shall now be sold in standardized rolls, and available in quantities of subtler delineation, eliminating the need for one (ok, me) to choose between “enough to wrap the entire city of Toronto” or “enough to wrap several molecules of Buckminsterfullerite.” In addition, attempts to engage other shoppers in a little wrapping paper swordplay shall be met with enthusiastic glee, rather than nervous calls to security. Bunch of damned party poopers.

04) Given the current economic climate, I have reversed my earlier decree and hereby declare fruitcake to be not only legal, but welcome. However, said fruitcake is not to be consumed (unless one has a death wish or the sort of appetite that permits the consumption of, say, an old boot), but rather stockpiled and used as building materials for low-income housing. Much like their less-durable cousins of mud and adobe, these noble fruitcake bricks will provide solid, enduring shelter from the elements while warding away pests (except for, again, the sort of person who thinks it’s okay to eat fruitcake, and they probably have pica. NOT THAT I DON’T APPRECIATE THE FRUITCAKE EVERY YEAR, AUNT CATHY!).

05) And speaking of aunts, it is hereby declared that all children shall be made to understand that the same “weird” aunt who gives you crazy things like “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Iliad” or My First Particle Accelerator™ as gifts when you are a child, rather than Captain Crappy’s Junketron Blaster of Commercial Flackery™ or Barbie’s Magical Dream House of Rigidly Unforgiving Gender Stereotypes™, will become YOUR FAVORITE AUNT when you are older, because as it turns out, genetic drift means you’re probably more like her than your parents, and therefore will be able to find solace and camaraderie in your shared cranky intellectualism. I think we’ve all seen “Daria,” people.

06) In this season of peace and love, freaking out over, or trying to make political hay out of, the following words is now extremely illegal: “Merry Christmas;” “Happy Holidays;” “Christmakwaanzukkah;” “Io Saturnalia.” (That last one may be solely for our time-traveling friends of the Seventeenth Legion of the Roman Imperium. Sorry about the wormhole, boys, I’m trying to fix it as fast as I can! In the meantime, please feel free to invade Gaul. They’re used to it.)

07) All persons applying to shovel walks and driveways shall henceforth be cherry-cheeked, wool-ensconced cherubs with earflap hats and a gleam in their eye, rather than grown dudes with a three-day stubble and the personal hygiene of a particularly indiscriminate hyena. Persons matching the latter description shall be summarily bathed, shaved, and set to work building fruitcake houses for the poor. Persons matching the former description shall be rewarded with hot cocoa and a shiny silver dollar (“silver dollar,” in this context, should be read as “Twenty bucks? To shovel my walkway? You extortionist bastard!”).

08) All drivers will practice their winter driving all year long by coating their tires in butter every three weeks and turning up the A/C full blast. This will prevent both the seasonal amnesia of winter (“What? It’s cold and snowy in November? AGAIN?”) and the driving behavior it engenders (“Bob, look out! There’s mysterious frozen water falling from the Heavens! WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”). This rule also applies to shopping patterns, so that otherwise normal people will not, upon hearing that snow flurries are in the forecast, rush to their local market and buy up all the milk, soup and shovels as though they only just now remembered they’d been asked to go on a ski trip with the Donners.

09) Those fake fireplaces that do so well on the iPad and the YouTube and whatnot will now produce actual, extremely merry, crackling heat. I don’t want to hear excuses, Science – you can grow an ear on the back of a fucking mouse, you can make BlazingLogs.com fill my living room with cheery warmth.

10) Persons participating in “Secret Santa” who fill out their info card with terms like “cool stuff,” “whatever,” or “Anything Disney! (followed by seventeen exclamation points and a crudely-rendered Mickey Mouse head)” will receive coal. And by “coal,” I of course mean “NOTHING.” Any person drawing such a card from the communal pool with be given the option of either drawing another name or slashing the owner’s tires.

11) All children’s Christmas programs will now have A) a maximum length of one hour; B) attractive cigarette/snack girls dressed as “Sexy Mrs. Claus;” and C) an open bar. I’m looking at you, Saint Michael’s Academy for Wayward Youth.

12) For a variety of reasons, this time of year is decidedly unmerry for a lot of people; the mentally ill, the homeless, the forgotten, the embittered (which, now that I think about it, describes a fair number of family Christmases. But I digress.). Therefore, all persons on this dinky blue rock are hereby required to pause at some point, seek out someone less fortunate (trust me, even if your name is Bob and you’re working as a buoy, there’s someone out there less fortunate than you, bub) and just take that moment to acknowledge their existence and value as a human being. I don’t care if it’s a hot bowl of soup, a hug and a smile, or some sort of weird, borderline-illegal act in the back of Fast Louie’s Massage Parlor. The point is that you do it. Because Christmas comes only once a year (insert your own “Fast Louie’s Massage Parlor” joke here), but being a decent human being is a full time gig.

OK, that’s it for now, I suppose. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Festive Kwaanza, Joyous Solstice, Gleeful Non-Denominational Mandatory Holiday Gathering, et hoc genus omne. Now let’s get out there and build some motherfucking fruitcake houses. FOR THE CHILDREN.

Christmas Miracles and Other Assorted Acts Of Baby Jesus.

In an effort to distract myself from the horrible sadness that always falls upon me right about…NOW every Christmas, I decided to check the sites that refer other people to my blog. It’s not something I really pay attention to very much because, well, obviously, and it’s kind of boring. But occasionally, it’ll lead me to some rad blogs I didn’t know existed.

Today, though, it lead me somewhere else.

Back to my very own about.me page.

You don’t know what an about.me page is? Me either. Not really. But I saw someone on The Twitter talking about it a couple of months ago and I was all IMMA GET ME AN ABOUT.ME PAGE, YO to my mirrored reflection. I didn’t know what it was then (it was in beta, which I think means “super awesome”) and I had to wait until this week to be told, “your about.me page is ready, yo.”

Then, I was all, I GOT AN ABOUT.ME PAGE, YO, and everyone was all, what the hell is an about.me page, Aunt Becky? And I was all, *shrugs* I don’t read fine print. I thought I’d figure it out when I got there. Which is my motto for life.

About.me was all, look at these other deep/meaningful profiles to help you make yours, Aunt Becky, except they weren’t like actually talking to me because that would be awkward. So I did, because obviously, and I was all, UGH, really? Because I am anything BUT deep/meaningful. And frankly, if you want someone to click on your profile, you should probably put something fucking INTERESTING on it. Calling yourself a “social media anything” is decidedly not interesting.

Just saying.

Because I take myself very seriously, this is what I came up with (my clickable about.me profile)

I think you can click to enlarge. If you can’t, CLICK THE LINK and it’ll take you to my actual about.me page.

Anyway, it’s clearly not something you should ever take seriously.

So I signed up and mostly forgot about it. I’ve been excruciatingly busy this week and really, I couldn’t figure out what to do with it beyond open it and laugh.

Upon checking my referrals, though, I noticed something FRIGHTENING. About.me had more referrals to my blog than “John C. Mayer,” “sweater kittens,” “boring things,” and “sweater boobs,” COMBINED. I swear to you, Pranksters, I haven’t laughed that hard in weeks. Somehow, people are landing on my about.me and finding their way here.

Sometimes, I really, really love the Internet.

Merry Christmas, Pranksters. From my about.me page.

And this guy:

And who could forget this lovable chap?

Why, it’s Mr. Sprinkles, my fake dead cat! That charming scamp! That lovable lout!

And speaking of charming:

Alex and his Cupcake shirt, FOR THE WIN!

Benner and his picture smile.

And my daughter, Amelia, who has reminded me that even in the darkest darkness, there is always light.

Merry, Merry Christmas, Pranksters.

Why My Gift Giving Skills Rival A Ninjas.

I’m not a particularly good gift giver.

A couple of years ago, I noticed that my family was merely FEIGNING delight at the gifts I was thoughtfully bestowing upon them at Christmas. Now, maybe it’s because I shopped on Christmas Eve at 11PM at Walgreens and bought my brother, Uncle Aunt Becky, who is ten years my senior and a raging yuppie this gem:

(he’s not a mother)

and my father a pair of these:

(he doesn’t have pierced ears)

And everyone else cans of mixed nuts (2 for $6!) or discounted boxes of birthday cards OR sympathy cards that had been beaten up so badly that I had to tape the sides shut so their contents didn’t spill out onto the floor. I mean, EVERYONE likes cards and nuts…right?

Apparently notsomuch.

So. I started ASKING people what they wanted for Christmas rather than trying to guess the night before at a crappy pharmacy chain while strung out on too many cups of coffee. It’s a lot MORE boring and LESS (motherfucking) jolly that way.

If you’ve read my blog or my The Twitter stream you know that I’m a little, uh, well obsessive about my habits.

I’m compulsive, okay? It’s charming, really, if you like people who will stay up all night for weeks on end learning about something new because they have no other choice. It’s like an itch in my brain that I have to scratch because I simply can’t ignore it. It’s always there, tapping at the side of my skull until I give in and just DO IT.

I’d make an excellent alcoholic, if only I actually liked to drink. Alas, I do not.

Instead, my habits range from the boring to the exceptionally boring. I write. I blog. I am the site master of a couple of sites. I plan to start another one.

I also grow orchids. In Chicago. In the dead of winter.

My Orchids Bring All The Boys To The Yard

That’s my kitchen table, by the by. Most of those orchids were bought as tiny wee babies and lovingly grown by Your Aunt Becky to the monsters that they are. They’re also blooming out of season right now which makes me BEYOND happy in the pants but that is neither here nor there.

On my mother’s birthday in September, I happened to be in Lowe’s Hardware store buying something or another to combat the black spot on my roses when I happened to walk by their orchid table. Normally, Lowe’s orchids suck. Their grower is terrible. I know this because I am obsessive and have nursed orchids I’ve bought from there back to health.

But this was a NEW grower. And it was my mother’s birthday. And she is singularly the WORST person to buy for. She has everything and wants nothing. She hates crap.

So I was all, I SHOULD BUY HER AN ORCHID, BWAHAHAHAHA, SHE’LL NEVER WANT THAT BUT IT’S BETTER THAN THE FUCK-NOTHING I HAVE FOR HER.

And I did.

And she loves it.

So for Christmas, I was all, “Okay Mom, what the fuck do you want, because you suck to buy for and I don’t even want to GUESS what you want.”

And she was all, “I want another motherfucking orchid, yo.”

Except maybe we didn’t use those words. Except maybe we did. You never know in my family.

On Sunday, I was all, “Hey Dana, Imma get my Mom an orchid at Lowe’s. It’s gonna be wicked. Wanna go?”

She was all, “SURE.”

So we went. Because when you need an orchid, you need an orchid.

First things first, we saw this gem and I HAD to buy it.

Epic Motherfucking Wreath

The ugliest wreath on the planet.

Then we headed to the orchids. I didn’t immediately see anything besides poinsettias (UGH) in the plant area, which made me a little nervous. My heart rate quickened as I frantically combed the shelves. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Until I saw the, “these are the plants we don’t care about and are selling for a dollar” area. THAT’S where they were hiding the orchids.

Dana took a look at them and said, “Uh, Becky, those look dead.”

For Whom Does The Orchid Bloom? It Blooms For Thee.

I responded, “Um, they’re not dead. Just not blooming.” Which does not a Christmas gift make. Luckily, they’re just fine with me. I bought four. For a dollar. That’s BEYOND a deal. I went home and Mr. Burns-like cackled over my deal.

I’m still sadly out a Christmas gift for my mother. Maybe I can just frame one of my epic soul portraits for her in a couple of weeks.

BETTER YET, I could get one made for her. I bet she’d LOVE it. Or disown me.

Whatever.

—————-

Let’s do another blog carnival, yo because that was fun as hell (I’m going to neglect my baking to read it all later). I put another link widget below. Or you can answer in the comments if you want. Or not at all.

Are you a good gift-giver – holidays or not? OR MAYBE: what’s the worst gift you’ve ever gotten?