I don't think I've ever been so busy leading into Christmas Eve, but I remain confident that the Holy Spirit will guide me through all of the cooking, cleaning, wrapping, Advent Calendar entries, clothes washing, tree trimming and cat hair removing bullshit that simply must be accomplished within the next twenty-four hours.
The Advent Calendar has been updated for 12/22 -- thanks for your feedback on that one in the previous thread, as the entry was the end result of 247 pictures, whittled down to 57, many with special effects that look bad but still take me forever because me and Photoshop are like, sworn enemies. It's always interesting when the Advent Calendar hits its home stretch, because frankly, the site's readership drops waaaay down around Christmas, and you start to feel like you're the star in one of those ill-advised "empty arena" wrestling matches. Meaning? Your chatter is appreciated!
The photo above is for posterity's sake more than anything else, because there are few sights warmer than 700 presents under a Christmas tree, especially when it's my Christmas tree, and I think it's the kind of thing that I'm going to want to look at again in the coming year.
The woman and I had agreed to take it easy with our presents this Christmas, trying to avoid our usual tradition of trying to outdo each other by giving the most gifts. We're gunning to go back to Disney this year, but since we won't let ourselves do that unless it's at the ridiculously expensive Polynesian resort, we wanted to give our wallets a break in the hopes that we could save save save.
All was going fine and dandy until two nights back, when she rather victoriously pranced into the living room holding a pile of presents nearly as tall as she is. Well, fuck that. I quietly returned to my computer and pretended to be catching up on the latest Scoville scale pepper rankings, when in reality, my ass was all over Amazon playing catch-up with their gloriously cheap overnight shipping option. I think I did okay. Not sure if this is a good sign or a bad sign, but pretty much everything I bought her is something I fully plan to steal and use myself.
I mentioned in a previous entry that we're hosting Christmas dinner for her side of the family this year, and this gels perfectly with my lifelong search for an excuse to buy a 100-pack of the hors d'oeuvres shown above. It's the little things in life.
I can't wait for everyone to marvel at how pigs in a blanket, potato puffs and spicy beef turnovers all manage to taste exactly the same when broiled at the last minute in an oven that already contains too many things to allow for equal heating. I'm of the mind that no holiday is complete without its fair share of oily, gloppy appetizers, and these are arguably the standard.
We have a fair amount of people coming here on Christmas, but I'm still not sure if there will be enough mouths to successfully eradicate a 100-pack of these breaded bastards. Perhaps I'll offer twenty bucks to whichever guest manages to eat the most in a ten minute window.
The interesting thing about hosting Christmas dinner is how you find yourself needing to go food shopping for like 12 days straight before the big day. Every night, we remember some odd cheese, drink or party napkin that is absolutely essential, and every night, we bumrush the nearest supermarket hoping that they haven't sold out. That was the case last night, but what was only intended to be a soda pickup turned into something far more special: They had packages of "Christmas Crackers" with 50% markdowns, and there is just no humanly way to avoid a deal like that.
If you've never enjoyed the miracle of Christmas Crackers, here's the general scoop: Small, cardboard tubes are neatly wrapped and stuffed with a cheap toy, and apparently loaded with some kind of low-performing gunpowder, as when you pull them apart, they split open with a loud, smoky bang. The toys inside are almost always crap, so it's that loud, smoky bang that constitutes as "the fun part."
Our original plan was to set one Christmas Cracker by each of the kids' dinner plates, but as I'm no stranger to the suckitude of CC toys, something told me that it'd be a good idea to see just how bad the prizes were before announcing them as a special holiday surprise. And boy, I'm glad I did that, because there's just no way any of the kids would've responded to these toys with anything cheerier than apathy or outright tears. See below.
Pens! Pencils! Cheap plastic rings! And...a ponytail holder? It's a good thing that newspapers don't run on Christmas, because a story of this magnitude would've been a call to stop the fucking presses. This stuff is awful! Even if these toys gained the ability to speak and were pleading with me to save them from a nearby fire, I wouldn't give them a second glance. And that's coming from someone who dreams almost nightly of toys gaining the ability to speak and trying to convince me to save them from fires.
Thus, opening these early has effectively saved our Christmas party. I can only imagine what the reaction of some of the six-year-old boys who will be in attendance would've been had they popped open their Christmas Crackers to find a ponytail holder inside. Even by my teen years, I was crying over less.
In lieu of Christmas Crackers, we're just going to give all the kids animal-themed party plates. They won't erect statues in our honor over this, but at least nobody will kill themselves and help boost Christmas's false reputation as being a time for increased suicides.
Mandatory Christmas Party Item #556: A bowlful of red and green M&M's. Doesn't matter if anyone eats them. They need to be there. Did you know that M&M's used to sell the special red and green-only bags under a different moniker without the familiar "m" markings? It's true, and actually, it wasn't all that long ago. I guess that's not a very interesting story, but a trivia bit is a trivia bit.
When I bought the M&M's shown above, I thought they were the peanut versions. I didn't read the fine print. They're almond M&M's. I feel so disgusting. Nothing against almonds...but they ain't peanuts.
I hope everyone's having a great, long holiday weekend. I'm off to unravel the mysteries of Box #23. If you're heading off for family time and won't have Internet access for a few days, thanks for being a part of the site's holiday season, and though you are not responsible for it, I'd also like to thank you for peanuts because I love them so much. Will try to post another blog on Christmas Eve...stay tuned. Stay merry.Posted by Matt on 12/23/2007. E-mail me!