Bah, Humbug!

leeannrubsam.com 

Not to be an Ebenezer Scrooge, but I don’t like Christmas.  It’s not that I’m a terrible grump, or stingy, or any other of Scrooge’s faults.  No, my reason for disliking the season is that it gets so busy that Jesus gets lost in the shuffle.  Years ago, I used to try to work up some kind of euphoric feeling about Christmas, and I’d do everything in my power to try to make it wrap all around the Lord. 

I have given up.  There is just too much stuff to do — and we keep it simpler than the majority of folks do.  Christmas time does not mean that my schedule lightens up.  We just add more things to the to-do list than we already had before.

I write four Christmas cards — yes, just four.  I know you are feeling waves of sympathy for me right now.  Paul has his own list and does his own newsletter, so between the two of us our Christmas card mailing looks more impressive.  He is very conscientious.  His were mailed just after Thanksgiving. 

Two of my Christmas mailings go all the way to India, to our sponsored children, so they need to be sent out by the first of October to get there on time.  Actual mailing date is about December 1, which means they’ll arrive at the end of February, if the trip goes smoothly.  The kids are used to this by now, I’m sure. 

The other two cards are for a couple of relatives.  There used to be more, but everybody else either became irrelevant or died off.  Once people have become irrelevant or have died, you no longer need to send them Christmas cards.  Those two went out today.  But at least they were personalized for the individuals they were sent to. 

One year I tried to make my life easier by sending my Christmas greetings via e-mail.  I figured, “What’s the difference?  I put a little Christmas border along the side, just like if I snail mail it, and it’s good to go!”  It wasn’t good to go.  There were definite snorts from a couple of folks, and a third suddenly became one of the irrelevant ones that I don’t need to mail to anymore. 

But, we were talking about why Christmas isn’t all that much fun.  Shopping — I hate shopping, 365 days a year.  It’s worse at Christmas.  This year I completely avoided crowds by not going to WalMart at all, so I can’t complain about crowds.  But how do you shop for people who have everything and don’t want anything more that you could possibly buy for them? 

To top it off, we deal with two family birthdays in December, and two more in January, so we have all the birthday and Christmas shopping at once.  My husband likes technology and golf clubs, both of which are incomprehensible subjects to me.  Beebee likes clothes, shoes, and purses, but not the clothes, shoes, and purses that Mom-O would choose for her.  I think I’m going to start giving socks and underwear, like one family I know. 

This year, my husband tried to make it easier for me.  “Just get me braunschweiger.  I love braunschweiger.”  If he’s talked about the braunschweiger once, he’s talked about it with great anticipation twenty times.  He wants a tube of braunschweiger!!!  The stuff is disgusting, and only a German would eat it.  They grind every unmentionable part of the pig into it, and he wants to eat it!  Fine, I will buy him braunschweiger.  But how will that sound when people ask, “So, Paul, what did your wife get you for Christmas?”

But I am doing bunny trails.  Back to why I dislike Christmas.  I must make Christmas cookies and candy.  You are probably thinking, “Big deal.  We all do that.”  Well, maybe you do, and maybe you enjoy it.  I got myself into a trap a few years ago.  Instead of getting socks and underwear for the fringe relatives, I gave them each some of my world-famous Granny’s Grainy Fudge.  I’m going to patent and trademark it someday and sell it for $20.00 a pound to upscale people who love to buy overpriced mail order candy.  It’s that good.  But the friends and relatives came to expect it, and there are quite a few of them, and it became a huge chore.  I’ve cut way back this year.  Some of them just joined the irrelevant list, whether they like it or not. 

But don’t just assume — if you are a friend or relative and you don’t get any candy, it could just be because I’m tired, not because you’re irrelevant.  I’ll clear it with you about January 1, and explain which category you fall into — the “I was just too tired this year to care” category or the “You’ve been selected to be irrelevant” one.  (I’m just being sassy for fun.  I don’t really treat people like this.)   To tell the absolute truth, no one is getting fudge this year.  I made a different kind of candy.  “Granny’s” patience got a little grainy, and there’s no fudge for you!

I have not finished shopping yet.  I still have to do the last minute food gift purchases (such as braunschweiger).  I hope it gets done before the grocery stores close on Christmas Eve.  It looks a little shaky this year.  I have not wrapped a single thing yet.  Beebee and Paul will have pity on me and bail me out as much as they can.  I have not finished making the candy yet (but at least it will be fresh when the folks get it).  I did get the tinsel on the tree, for the first time in ten years.

You are no doubt wondering why, if I am as busy as all that, I am taking time to write this.  It’s a matter of mental health.  If I don’t let it out of my system, the lid might blow off the top of my brain, and that wouldn’t look nice.  Or I might overheat and start manifesting insanity symptoms, like foaming at the mouth and muttering strange phrases in Arabic.  It wouldn’t look good in the Christmas video.  So, I’m doing it for my friends and relatives.  They will thank me in the end.

But I am unhappy that Jesus is not getting the attention that should be all His at Christmas.  It’s His birthday, but I have concluded that it is useless to try to focus on that.  I’m spending as much time with Him as I do all the rest of the year long, but He should have had the extra time this Christmas, and the Christmas must-do’s got it instead.

So, I think I’m with Mr. Scrooge.  We have different reasons, but the same opinion.  Bah, humbug!

Delightful Christmas Presents

leeannrubsam.com 

Ah, yes, it’s Christmas time again.  It’s that busy season when we do all the baking, and consequently all the eating, and hence all the blimping out that we really would rather not do at any other time of year.  We write newsletters to people we don’t think about from one December 25th to the next.  AND we buy gifts for each other that nobody needs — which brings me to fond remembrances of Christmases past and how gift-giving tends to go at our house.

My husband is a frugal kind of guy.  He gets his kicks out of presenting us with Christmas presents that he is very happy about, because he got such great deals on them.  He chortles about how cheap they were.  I don’t mind in the slightest about them being cheap.  I don’t even mind that sometimes they are kind of dumb and not of any interest to me.  I don’t have any huge wants in the material line anyway.

Last year, Paul gave Beebee and me each a pole lamp for Christmas.  Yes, you read that right — pole lamps.  And they were extremely ugly pole lamps, too.  I sometimes gazed for whole minutes at mine, scarcely able to believe that I was consenting to its presence in our living room.  The vertical support pole leaned, unable to bear the weight of the cross-pole with the lamp on the top of it.  The lamp head itself, from one vantage point, looked like an overturned stainless steel mixing bowl on a stick.  From another angle it looked like an alien being with a helmet on its head.  I endured it for about two weeks before deciding I had had enough.  There are just some things that must not be borne!  Beebee could not support the idea of keeping hers either, and those two pole lamps sold for twice as much at the following summer’s rummage sale as Paul had paid for them in the first place.

I get many ugly Christmas gifts.  Most of them come from elderly relatives, who think they are beautiful.  I have a reputation for having no taste.  But even I have more taste in my little finger than some members of my family do.  Case in point: last year’s winner of the Ugliest-Christmas-Present-of-the-Decade award.  It was a decorative plate, vaguely resembling Blue Willow Ware, with wrinkled praying hands dead-center (the straight praying hands, not clasped knuckle hands).  It reminded me of a bit of theology my mom had passed on to me when I was a child: Catholic folks prayed with their hands straight, while we nice little Protestants prayed with the clasped knuckle approach.  (Where DO people get such notions?  I think the only reason little children were ever taught to pray with folded hands in the first place, whether it was the clasped knuckle or straight hand method, was to keep their fidgety little pinkies from doing naughty things when they should have been concentrating on God.  It couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with impressing God, I’m sure.)  ANYWAY, the plate was the epitome of religiosity and was ugly besides.

When I opened it, the giver (name removed to protect the guilty) went on about how pretty it was, and brought my attention to the fact that she had even mounted it in a wall hanging, so it was all set to go.  This meant I could not hide it in the back of the cupboard under a stack of other plates.  Sigh!  In order to keep my name from being expunged from the family tree forever, the plate had to be prominently displayed somewhere for all the world to notice and make mental note of my poor taste.  It ended up in the entryway, as I could not possibly bear to have it in the kitchen.  If my relative had come over and had not found it prominently displayed somewhere, her feelings would have been hurt, and my goose consequently cooked.  I spelled this all out to my dear child, who did not want the ugly plate to be displayed anywhere except at the next available rummage sale.  I said the plate would have to be hung until [name removed to protect the guilty] had seen it and was satisfied.  Beebee gave me a very serious look and remarked that [name removed to protect the guilty] didn’t get out and about as much as she used to, and it might have to hang there a year or more, much to Beebee’s and my mortification.

But on to other examples of ugly Christmas presents.  We received one very grotesque dancing/singing frog from my brother.  In fact Gary was on a roll — we also got a fowl in a Santa hat that sang the chicken song while it hopped across the floor.  It hopped so hard that it threw a rivet out, and I couldn’t figure out where it was supposed to go back in.  But it continued to hop in rare form, even without its rivet.  And, as if we didn’t already have enough mice at all times in our home, Gary also gave us a squeaky-voiced rodent singing, “Oh, bring us some figgy pudding” at the top of its pipes. Yes, my brother has tastes that he inherited from some of the other relatives.  Family genes will do it to you every time.  (Gary will not mind that I did not insert “name removed to protect the guilty” where his name belongs.  He takes great pleasure in his personal brand of tackiness.)

Beebee wanted to immediately relegate all these atrocities to the rummage sale box along with the praying hands plate, but I insisted we keep them out to scare our grandson with when he came.  For weeks, every once in awhile I felt compelled to squeeze the mouse’s foot, just to make her squeal, “Oh, bring us some figgy pudding,” and see who I could startle.

Paul also showed me an item that almost became one of my Christmas presents — but he thought better of it.  It was a label maker.  I was in awe, and wanted to know what on earth I was supposed to have done with this gadget.  So he recited all its lovely possibilities.  I was not impressed, and suggested he make it a Happy Birthday present to himself.

leeannrubsam.com 

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