Gather round children and listen up for I have a story that will fill you all with the wonder and meaning of the season:
This Christmas holiday Jason and I had just enough time to ourselves to undertake a top to bottom cleaning of our house. This endeavor was instigated by me and once my mind’s made up to do something there’s no unmaking it. While our home was in need of a thorough cleaning, Jason was not quite as enthusiastic about this plan as I was. He especially didn’t appreciate my two-day scrubbing extravaganza coming dangerously close to impeding his Christmas fun. I didn’t finish furiously dusting until 11:32 PM on Christmas Eve, compelling him to frequently remind me of the time limitations on my tidying allowance. The next day, however, Jason changed his tune and decided he was rather glad we had cleaned. He enjoyed having a sparkly home somewhere underneath the layers of wrapping paper.
I gave Jason a MacBook Air and the Steve Jobs biography for Christmas. That nerdy combo led to this nerdy picture.
We gave our niece Abigail this darling handmade hat for Christmas.
Cooking was to our Christmas as cleaning was to our Christmas Eve. We made puffy cheddar grits for breakfast and a fancy dinner of wild mushroom risotto topped with citrus-seasoned arugula and toasted hazelnuts. Sugar was definitely invited to the party as well; we baked both chocolate cupcakes and jelly-filled cookies. Although our Christmas was not quite its usual hectic mess, Jason was still tired and had had enough of culinary creativeness about the time I started forming the cookies and therefore protested their construction. I’m not sure why he thought he had the right to gripe since he wasn’t exactly helping me prepare them, more like complaining on the sidelines as I rolled, but for some reason he seemed to find standing around doing nothing too taxing to tolerate. Of course, me being me, I was unmoved by his grumblings and I just baked away anyway. The next day, as he was gobbling up those buttery treats, he admitted that he was very happy I had persevered and basted through his grumpies.
Hmmm…I’m no psychology expert but there seems to be some reoccurring behavior patterns emerging here.
The ladies in my family are very reserved and refined. Obviously.
We made chocolate cupcakes with a rich velvety frosting. I think I would have enjoyed them more if I hadn't already been so hopped up on sugar.
The morals of this story? The first obviously is that wives can be a tremendous pain in the neck. Forcing spousal participation in a cleaning marathon or cooking fest is practically dehumanizing. Having to tidy your own home or cook for yourself: these tortures no man should ever have to bear. The second message is clearly that your wife knows best so shut up and do what she tells you. I guarantee that you will be glad you did later either because you’ll discover that the fruits of your labor are indeed sweet or because you’ll realize that the only alternative to doing as she asks is listening to her never-ending whining.
How is my family like a hardware store? It's full of nuts.
This broken spaghetti "risotto" was relatively easy to make yet oh so good.
And the final moral of this story? Don’t take me too seriously. My fine tale may seem to suggest the contrary but Jason and I had a fantastic Christmas. I wandered around in my pajamas until sometime in the afternoon. We ate and ate and ate all that scrumptious homemade food and we actually got to open each other’s presents before the sun descended. Sure, Jason did complain a bit here and there, for which he was relentlessly teased, but that just added to the seasonal merriment. I especially enjoyed making fun of my hubby while his face was covered with the crumbs of the cookies he was too pooped to watch me make. Good thing he likes to laugh at himself as much as I do.
Our niece Isabelle had to put on the pink polka dot pajamas we gave her immediately regardless of the other layers of clothing she was already wearing.
Jason and his brothers make a very "special" trio.
Jason's brother Matt asked for a bo staff so he could improve his sweet bo staff skills. We were happy to oblige; subpar staff skills are an embarrassment we don't want in the family.
I hope your holidays were just as full of jovial taunting as they were for me and my spouse. Merry Christmas to all and to all a clean house!
New York City is iconic. Its images are so integrated into our pop culture that it’s next to impossible not to be wowed a bit the first time you make it to Manhattan. I have traveled to New York City five times now; Jason and I have spent a week of each of our last three Decembers in the Big Apple. So, for me, this colossal city has lost that mystical aura and become a more realistic, and less threatening, version of itself.
Yes, NYC doesn’t intimidate or dazzle me anymore. I no longer notice the bags of trash left piled up on the sidewalks that appalled me on my first visit, I still find the subways filthy but they don’t frighten me, I’m not surprised by just how little the sun makes an appearance between the stretching skyscrapers, and I know that crossing the street when the walk symbol isn’t lit is tantamount to asking a taxi driver for a Kevorkian favor.
Jason went to a Donald Trump book signing and met the hair itself. Jason's lack of senility and long locks must have singled him out because Trump chatted with him for much longer than anyone else and offered to take a photo with him.
NYC may be familiar but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fascinating place with a lot to offer any traveler. I guarantee that no matter how many times you visit this urban behemoth you won’t run out of things to do or see. On this trip Jason and I, as usual, never ceased to be entertained.
The Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center was a gorgeous building, retractable chandeliers and all.
We attended the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Madame Butterfly. I had high expectations for this event but I didn’t anticipate the artistic masterpiece that we experienced. The opera was fantastically performed and touching. I came out of the theater with puffy eyes and a satisfied heart.
We walked along the East River before crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. It felt glorious to get a bit of unobstructed sun.
We saw Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway. This musical apparently didn’t get much love from the critics but I liked it. The sets and stunts make it worth seeing even if the plot is a little weak.
The Guggenheim is currently featuring a Maurizio Cattelan exhibit. The artist decided that displaying his works in an organized manner didn't make sense so instead they were all hung from the ceiling like a mutant mobile. The result is six floors of mesmerizingly chaotic cascading art.
We contemplated art and architecture at the Guggenheim Museum as we wandered its confusing, but stunning, spirals and scattered galleries.
Zuccotti Park was tiny. The Occupy Wall Street protestors must have practically been occupying each other's laps.
We roamed the avenues of the financial district, charged Wall Street’s charging bull, and cried at the National September 11th Memorial. Actually, out of the two of us it was just me that cried over the remnants of the twin towers but I think I was in the company of quite a few other wet eyes.
The 9/11 Memorial was very moving and humbling. It was clear that all of its visitors felt a reverence for those hallow grounds. If you are planning on visiting this site I would recommend going after dark. The lighting adds to the serenity of the reflecting pools.
We strolled across the Brooklyn Bridge taking in the Manhattan skyline, Miss Liberty, and the streets of Brooklyn. This may not sound like a terrible thrilling activity but I would highly recommend it to any NYC tourist.
The whole time we were crossing the Brooklyn Bridge I couldn't get that Beastie Boys song out of my head. I guess there are worse things one could have looping around in their brain.
Since The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a favorite of ours we were thrilled to be part of its studio audience one evening. Jon was funny and fidgety and a whole lot smaller in person than I expected.
We had to wait a while out in the cold to get a seat in The Daily Show studio but it was definitely worth it.
And there is no going to NYC without going shopping; it is inconceivable. We shopped at all the supersized stores on 5th Avenue, and beyond, until our plentiful purchases made our suitcases practically unzipable.
While I know that I could never be a resident of NYC, I require more sun and space than that metropolis could ever offer, it is a fabulous place to visit. It may no longer seem like a magical movie set to me but as long as those retail goliaths and cultural showcases remain I am good to go.
What says Christmas better than a hideous moustache and a sweater even your mom wouldn’t be caught dead in? The answer perhaps is a Sabin fest that incorporates not only both of these foul abominations but also some seasonal classics, white elephant gifts and overeating, along with a couple nontraditional holiday pastimes, ping pong and wallyball. The result of this unusual combination? A party of such repugnant, yet satisfying, proportions that a word more disgusting than disgusting would have to be added to the dictionary to adequately portray its disgustingness.
The food for our party was catered from Zupas and Kneaders: creamy soups, fresh rolls, gooey brownies, chocolate dipped strawberries, and giant gingerbread men. I don't think anyone left hungry.
Although last year’s moustache and unsightly sweater party was a cringe fest, our friends, it turns out, liked that repulsive theme so this year we brought tacky back like a barfing kid on a merry-go-round.
Can you figure out what is going on in this picture? If so, you must be a photograph deciphering savant.
The girls packed together for a picture of their own. I must say, we are much more photogenic than those silly boys.
For this event Jason and I rented a suite of rooms at Noah’s that included a wallyball court, ping pong arena, and chow station. We, along with our collected friends, played ping pong until we were dizzy and then wallyball until our forearms burned. If we ever began feeling even slightly exercised we recommenced eating so our belt straps were the only things overly exerted. And once we had consumed our weight in cookies and grown tired of tossing balls we fought over the prettiest awful white elephant gifts ever.
Jacob overheated playing wallyball even with half of his belly hanging beyond the confines of his undersized sweater. So, like a little boy, he just removed that offending article of clothing and ran around in various stages of toplessness. He wore Jason's itchy vest briefly before deciding he preferred no shirt at all.
Maybe baby Jesus didn’t anticipate ugly attire and gluttony heralding in the arrival of his birthday every year but hey, what a birthday party! Here’s to the nauseating traditions that make Christmas so dang memorable!
As strange as it may seem to some of you, every year I look forward to being out at an ungodly hour on Black Friday among the masses of shoppers fighting over limited merchandise that can only be purchased by waiting in excruciatingly long lines.
Black Friday is one of my favorite days of the year. For over a decade now I have annually joined the throngs of zealous buyers long before the sun gets around to making an appearance. And oddly enough, I usually have a giddy grin on my face as I scramble for the deals or weave through the cramped masses of humanity. I know many of you can’t comprehend why anyone would enthusiastically, or even willingly, participate in this purchasing frenzy but that’s because you just don’t get Black Friday joy.
I never remember to take pictures on Black Friday. The disorder is too distracting. We got a couple awful shots before we headed into Best Buy shortly after midnight but then deals became my only conquest.
Black Friday joy means eagerly jumping out of bed after only a few hours of sleep because the savings beckon, Black Friday joy means giggling as your teeth chatter relentlessly while waiting in the predawn cold with hundreds of other nearly popsicled shoppers, and Black Friday joy means disregarding the guy that has no scruples taking your arm off just so he can snatch a monstrous stack of Blu-ray players as merely part of the adventure. Having trouble perceiving what could be joyous about any of that? You are not alone but Black Friday doesn’t have to be so black. Here are a few tips guaranteed to make this glorious day more bearable for even the grumpiest of shoppers:
1. Go with friends. Together you can multiply your efforts and come up with a plan of attack. Plus, an hour wait in line turns into a party when you are in the company of chums.
2. Expect insanity. If you dive into black Friday anticipating crowds of shoppers that vary between ornery and just plain rude you will not be flabbergasted when you encounter just that.
3. Relish in the unnaturally good deals you are obtaining. Exalt in the triumph of your bargains.
4. Buy a little something something for yourself. A new pair of shoes or a dress that you are getting for a steal goes a long way in making that checkout delay seem worthwhile.
5. Arrange for a breakfast break with your buddies. Taking the time to refuel and regale each other with tales of your shopping woes can make Black Friday a much pleasanter experience.
6. Don’t plan on purchasing all the door busters you are seeking. If you have a good shopping strategy you should be able to get some of these hot items but scoring numerous of them is unreasonable. Unrealistic purchasing expectations can turn you into a frustrated nut job, or worse yet, a frustrated nut job that pepper sprays other crazed customers.
If you follow these fantastic tips and embrace a sense of adventure, Black Friday could actually become a bright spot in your holiday season rather than a blight. You might even find yourself craving that discount euphoria like many of us do. Sure, the Black Friday crowds can trigger a claustrophobic panic, the lines can test your patience, and some of the people you come across can bring out your violent tendencies but really it’s not half as miserable as it sounds. Yes, whether you shop on Black Friday for the fantastic deals or just to witness the chaos of consumerism, if you hurl yourself into it with the right attitude and the right company I can guarantee you will walk away with lots of bargain goodies and a few excellent stories to tell the kids.