23 Dec

(REDO of previous story:  “Santahatesme Support Group”)

I am off for two weeks of exquisite holiday fun with my precious family, and everything WAS going along swimmingly until the kitchen sink turned into a demon.  In the midst of our perfect-picture holiday of “making spirits bright,” my garbage disposal imploded and what most people would try to cure with one bottle of Drano, I, “The Chocolate Lucille Ball,” tried to remedy with three bottles.  It is 3:00 a.m., and after fighting the fear of a flooded kitchen all night, the sink is backed up, the dishwasher is busted, and noxious Drano fumes are at orange WMD level throughout the house, causing everyone from WW to the dog (“Wednesday Adams”) to run for the nearest exit, gasping for air.  The “24hour-We-Come-Anytime Roto-Rooter” is on its way (I’ll believe that when I see it), and my family is being evacuated for the day to the Shrek Ice Show to save their lungs and eyeballs.

 Sigh!  No matter how hard I try for perfection during the holidays, “pooh-pooh always occurs!”  So while I’m waiting for a plumber who promises to arrive any minute (can the Greek Chorus sing: “money, money, money, mon-ey—MONEY!”), I thought I’d retool a previous blog I’d written regarding the “worst Christmas gifts ever” (an exploding garbage disposal most definitely qualifies) to get my mind off the $1,000 plumbing bill that is sure to also be my Christmas present from Santa as I try to avoid eye-contact with my groggy, pissed-off family for almost inadvertently poisoning them so close to Christmas .  Enjoy!

santa claus Perfect pic

image courtesy of

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  Even though it has been over five decades of me giving and receiving Christmas gifts, I am still in a state of shock at some of the gifts I’ve gotten from people.  The one that best comes to mind is the one I got from my mother-in-law at the beginning of my marriage (can you say, she hates me!) that passive-aggressively declared to any and all who were watching:  “I’m smiling on the outside when I tell everyone that I have a new daughter-in-law, but I am pissed as hell on the inside that she is “Colored” (yep—used that word to describe me until the day she died)—”why me, God, why?”

My mother-in-law took utmost pride in the fact she had official papers from the Daughters of the American Revolution, and that she was a direct descendent of Governor Bradford of the Mayflower.  She didn’t have a lot of money but at least she had her lineage, her pride, and her whiteness until her first-born son (the one she just knew would be president someday) came home one Christmas and said:  “I’m in love with a beautiful ebony queen:  Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

During the few short years “Mom” deigned to speak to her son and me for sullying that lineage, most of her gifts went straight to the garbage from the postman’s hands and didn’t even rate for the destitute because they were usually so awful that the homeless wouldn’t even accept them.   But one Christmas there was one present that my husband (WW) and I hung in the hall of shame as the “worst gift” ever, under the sign:  “Oh no, she didn’t!”  I hadn’t thought of the gift in question for years until the other day when I took a nap after too much brandy in my eggnog moose ears, and I dreamt about a Santa’s Support Group for “weird-gift survivors.”

Santa BM teacherstraiing dot coe dot aut

Age Appropriate Gifts|image by Glenn McCoy

Santa:  Welcome, one and all!  As you all may know, except that little guy and his wife sitting in the back from the lost tribe of the Amazon, my name is Santa Claus, formerly known as St. Nick, and I “do” presents.  I invited you all to drop by to informally start a “weird Christmas gift support group” because, frankly, I’ve gotten tired of the complaints from all the “non-believers” in the blogosphere.  Ever since I started my own Facebook page, it has been inundated with complaints about weird gifts you thought I had something to do with.  I’m here to first and foremost declare my innocence regarding inappropriate gifts, and to ask you to reconsider believing in me.  Santa does not choose the gifts—he just delivers, and Santa never wanted to be confused with God, he just wanted to help out a bit.  Okay?  Also, I do feel your pain because last year one of my elves gave me a gift certificate to Weight Watchers along with a Gillette razor.  Ho-ho-ho!  Obviously, they don’t know me at all.  Having said that, I understand that there are some real grievances amongst you and being the compassionate character that I am, I thought I’d let you get them off your chest and maybe you’d cut me some slack in the belief department.

Hum, how about our consummate skeptic, “Eleanor, the blogger?”  Why don’t you come up to the front and tell us your story since you’re the one who started all the brouhaha on my Facebook page with the petition against “false gods who promise but don’t deliver.”

The Blogger:  Why me?  You know I’ve never believed in you.   Even when I was a little girl, I agreed with Dick Gregory that “I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark.”  And you never did!  I didn’t start getting weird gifts as opposed to no gifts until I married into my husband’s family because before that, you never showed up, fat boy.

Santa:  Uh, well . . . yeah, my credibility does break down when it comes to poor kids of every creed and color getting their wishes granted in the modern world.   I’m working on that.

The Blogger:  You think—and what about Jewish and Muslim kids?  When you were St. Nicholas, you really had your “game on” servicing one village.  But as soon as you tried to go Global, you blew it.

Santa:  Okay, okay, okay, let’s tackle one subject at a time.  Group:  please welcome Eleanor, the Blogger and obvious childhood skeptic.

The Group:  Hi, Eleanor the Blogger—welcome to ‘Santahatesme support group!’  What’s your weirdest Christmas gift?

The Blogger:  The ol’ bait and switch (make the world think you’re generous with the announcement of a gift but then renege or switch out the original announcement of a cheaper gift).

Worst Gift Empty Box esquire dot com

Image from

The Blogger:   My downhill weird-gift spiral started one Christmas when I first married WW (“White and Wonderful”) with what I call the “bait and switch” gift.   My mother-in-law was the queen of look at me being generous and then you’d never get the gift or she’d take it back, but I didn’t know it until my sister-in-law gave her a silk flower arrangement that had been commissioned  by an artist friend of hers to send to me for Christmas that first year of my marriage.  It was to be a house-warming present, and since my mother-in-law had volunteered to mail all the family presents to my husband and me, my sister-in-law dropped off the floral arrangement before Christmas and went on about her business.  When WW and I opened the presents on Christmas Day (two modest presents each for the kids, a tacky Christmas sweater-from-hell for WW, an orange and purple gaudy handbag for me, and my sister-in-law’s floral arrangement for our new house), we couldn’t do anything but gasp in horror.

The Mother had mailed a floral bouquet that had a tag on it from my sister-in-law to me, wishing me a Merry Christmas.  What WW and I pulled out of the box was an old, three-layer, dust-encrusted, silverfish infested, mite invaded, silk flower arrangement whose colors had long been muted by dust and age.

Santa:  What did you do (rhetorical question, everyone, because next to ‘you know who,’ I always know who has been naughty or nice)?

The Blogger:   Oh, cut the crap; you know that’s not true.  I did nothing.  I thought the gift was rather odd from my sister-in-law, but since I didn’t know her all that well, I figured I’d let the perceived slight go, and figured she had really, really bad taste.

But then, mighty Claus, something weird happened.  Six months later, WW, the kids, and I went to visit “The Parents,” and when we drove up to the house, my sister-in-law arrived at the same time, and we all walked through the front door together.  She and I both happened to glance at a magnificent silk flower arrangement on my mother-in-law’s sideboard as my sister-in-law proclaimed:  “That’s just like the arrangement you sent Eleanor for me—I can’t believe you had Flora’s Flowers make you one exactly like hers.  Mom, why didn’t you get a different design?”  As my mother-in-law sputtered and stuttered about why she chose a duplicate arrangement, I looked into her eyes and I knew she had stolen my beautiful flower arrangement and put my sis-in-law’s tag on some old ratty, nasty-ass dried flowers she’d had in the attic for years.  “Mom” turned beet red, and in that moment I could tell that she knew that I knew.

Santa:  Okay, that one definitely slipped by me!  What did you say?

The Blogger:  Keep your flowers bitch, I’ve got your son—game on.

Santa:  Ooo-kay!  Christmas giving was meant to be done in a more charitable spirit.  No wonder you goaded me into starting a support group.

At that point, a 90-year old black grandmother angrily yells from the back row as she gesticulates with her cane.

The Grandma:  Then I guess I’ll bring up my Christmas present of “his-and-her” vibrators given to me by my old man of a husband.  You do know my man’s randy-ass idea of a present was inspired by the gift of a year’s supply of Viagra that he conned his doctor into giving him—don’t you Santa Baby?  And now I don’t have a moment’s peace?  I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in months.  Poking, poking, poking—I was looking forward to getting some rest at this stage of my life.  Did you lose your ever-lovin’ mind, Santa giving him those machines?  Just because these mens ask for stuff, don’t mean you has to answer, now do yo?.”

viagra Summers Cartoon orlando sentinnel

Summers Cartoon|image from The Orlando Sentinel

Santa:  No ma’am.  Sorry, Bernice!

A 20-year old rapper shouts from the audience (think Eminem).

The Rapper:  Shit Santa, take a look at the Christmas gift from my granddaddy that is hanging behind you that you delivered last year.  What the fuck, man?  This thing will destroy my street cred; but I loves my pops, so I had to hang it up in my shower!”

runny nose

Santa:  I’ve got to admit that one grossed me out too.   All I can say is sorry, Bro!  We have time for one more before I start packing up for the 2012 run.  My list says that there should be a Jim (average dad) present.  Jim, are you here?

Jim, the Man:  Yeah sure.  Hi everyone, my name is Jim and I’m a classic weird-gift survivor—I’m the Christmas sweater dude that you all pretend you don’t know.  My Aunt Mabel knit me this sweater for the Christmas season.   Do I kill myself now or after Christmas?”


Santa:  “(Sigh) I’m beginning to see the picture and understand your pain—no wonder you’re pissed at me.  We have time for one more, although I’ve really got to hit all the hot spots.  How about the couple in the back that registered as “Mr. and Mrs. 47%?”   Do you hate me?

Mr. and Mrs. 47%:  It depends.  Are you a Republican?  We’re brand new to the weird-gift thing and we got the gift of “nothing” from the Romneys and the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party this Christmas.  We don’t know if this means Mitt finally got a sense of humor or if he’s serious.   My husband is a fireman and I’m an elementary school teacher, but we each got an empty plastic ball that said, “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing.”   The card that accompanied it said it is the “Gift of nothing which is yours to discover.”   Huh?

nothing present

Image from

I came out of my eggnog induced sleep before I heard Santa’s answer, but I am discovering that if we have people in our lives whose gifts can’t be given from the heart, or the gift-giving is laced with cynicism, and the gifts are just given out of tradition or obligation, maybe we shouldn’t be giving them gifts at all.  Maybe it’s time to really get into the spirit of Christmas and channel our hard-earned money to causes that will give gifts that can change the world.  The first and real St. Nick from the 4th Century was the type of Santa Claus we should all be and was known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker.   He secretly paid the dowries of three sisters to keep them from prostitution, he left coins in the shoes of any who would leave them out for him, and he fed the poor far and wide—no matter who they were.   In every city and every town there are hurting people who, but by the grace of God go us, aren’t lazy or not trying hard enough, they’re not takers or slackers—they’ve just been screwed over.  I’m thinking our greatest Christmas gift to the hurting world swirling around us is to become a “noticer”—(no turning away, no scurrying past the pain, just really seeing what is in front of us)—then the appropriate gifts have no choice but to flow from our hearts.


Santa and the Schmidt house toilette dash humor dot com

“Best of all, Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.” —George F. McDougall

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


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20 responses to “SANTA HATES ME DEUX

  1. talesfromthemotherland

    December 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Oh no she didn’t indeed! I thought my MIL stories were the worst! Yours are some fine competition E. Actually, it was reverse in my marriage… She sent reasonable gifts, but was never happy with anything I did for her. And friend, I have wonderful taste! Anyway… So sorry to hear about your plumbing nightmares. Not right, for such a sweet gal. Hope it all clears up and your holidays are Merry and Bright after all! Check out my current post and help raise money for Heifer International. Then you can sit waiting for Roto Rooter and spread good cheer all over the place! Merry Christmas Eleanor!

    • etomczyk

      December 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      Hi Dawn. I just finished with the nightmare of the plumbing (30 years of crud came bursting forth like bubbling crude). It looked like “black gold” but it was just uck! roto-Rooter did show up as planned and they did cost me a King’s Ransom. Oh well. So, we’re back in the swing of things and we can now all breathe and wash dishes. hanks for stopping by and a very Merry Christmas to you.

      • talesfromthemotherland

        December 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm

        Bravo! Glad it all got resolved. Been there; done that, and it sucks!

  2. composerinthegarden

    December 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Oh Eleanor, I feel your pain! I also remember this post, probably one of the first that I read and still remember (my dear friend, you DO have a gift for telling stories that stick) So, my new and still wobbly approach to life means abandoning ALL projections of the perfect anything. It never works and puts me in the position of shoring up a stance that I can’t hold anymore. So, lately, I’ve been trying my best to let go of all the inner stories of “best Christmas ever”, “best garden ever”, etc. You know what I mean . . . It is working pretty well, though I must admit that letting go of Christmas fantasies is a big mountain to climb, i.e. a profound archetype to confront. Anyway, reach inside for that joy within, enjoy your family, pay the plumber and use this painful experience for another funny story, as I know you will. You are the supreme Mistress of Lemonade. Peace and Love, my friend 🙂

    • etomczyk

      December 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Lynn: You’re so right about abandoning the “Perfect.” I am such a perfectionist (so is WW) that it is a wonder the two of us don’t implode. I am trying to get better because in the imperfection is my humanity. I did pay the plumber, handsomely, and then we all went off to the park to take “creative” family photos with a toddler and a dog who proceeded to have a “you missed my naptime, snack time, walk time tantrum of the year. A normally mild-mannered child and a well-behaved dog turned our photo shoot into an SNL skit. At least 8 out of 10 pictures show our grandson blowing snot bubbles the size of balloons while making his bones turn to Jello, and the puppy pooping or urinating over everything in sight. I’ve got lots of lemonade for this holiday, my friend. Love and grace to you! 🙂

      • composerinthegarden

        December 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm

        Can’t wait for the lemonade gazette. Peace and love 🙂

  3. momshieb

    December 23, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Merry Christmas, Chocolate Lucille Ball! Funny, we always refer to my Mom as “The Italian Lucy”. She even used to look like her!
    Glad that the gunk was dealt with, and that no one lost a lung or an eyeball. May all your gifts be either chocolate or gold, and my you laugh your way into the New Year!

    • etomczyk

      December 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      Hi Momshieb. Right back at you with the blessings of chocolate or gold, and tons of laughter. You’re the best!

  4. maryisidra

    December 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Yes “see what is in front of US” I have also abused Drano,this is not a good thing. Tip-after I use my G.D. I put a bit of vinager and a pinch of baking soda. Helps keep the crud from building up and kills the “nastys” No water though till you use it next. Merry Christmas to you and yours.Oh add bling of any sort to aboves comment. Hugs from your alabama fan.

  5. becomingcliche

    December 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I’m so glad to hear that the plumbing is sorted out. We called for an emergency once and actually needed to have the house replumbed completely. Zoinks!

    She got the flowers, you got WW. I call that a win!

  6. imagesbytdashfield

    December 23, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Merry Christmas to you and a clear sink and dishwasher tooooooooooooooo! la la la

  7. Valentine Logar

    December 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    I am sorry about the sink, dishwasher and so on and so forth. Mine when kabam recently and the plumber told me never put liquid anything down it ever again. I replaced the old one with a super sized big motor!

    As to your MIL, well you and I have the similar problems my friend. I am not certain which is worse though. Yours gave tacky and mean, mine has never not once, never one time in 14 years acknowledged I am part of the family with a card, letter or otherwise. Not for birthdays, anniversary’s or Christmas. She has never once pretended I exist except when she is forced to do so by my presence in her house, then she says silly things like, “I know you don’t believe in God, but I am praying for you.” This because I am not her religion.

    Of course she does acknowledge me when Dearly Beloved doesn’t give her enough money when we visit. Then she lets me know he short changed her expectations and I should kick in.

    This last visit though (we just got back from the Bahamas on Monday) well, sometimes mean-ugly-spirit just enters me. They had a birthday party for him. He ate till he was tired and then in the middle of the livingroom he let out a huge belch, terrible manners. They all laughed and joked and gave him a hard time. Then she looked at me, asked me why I let him act that way.

    I smiled sweetly, “Mable, that is your son that is how you sent him to me.”
    The room grew silent. She stared. I smiled sweetly again.

    Merry Christmas E, have a blessed and marvelous time with your family!

  8. Elyse

    December 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Oh Eleanor, what a funny post. My mother gave the most horrible gifts. (I entered one into the Christmas with Mom contest last year, but I’m pretty sure my entry wasn’t quite heartwarming enough for them:

    Hopefully the gunk is gone, the mother-in-law is in check and you are on to the rest of the Holiday-F’ing-Magic.

    Merry Christmas, my friend. And may 2013 be a wonderful year for you and WW.

  9. aFrankAngle

    December 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Nothing like yuk for gunk to get one in the Christmas spirit! … Then again, the Christmas spirit and bring down a lot of problems.

    Merry Christmas E-Tom and WW!!! Whenever you get a chance, reserved seats await you at my holiday gathering.

    • etomczyk

      December 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm

      Hey Frank–all the best to you and Mrs. A. Have joyfilled Christmas and “ring them bells to the glory of God!”

      • aFrankAngle

        December 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm

        Absolutely … here one of the songs we’re playing tonight.

      • etomczyk

        December 25, 2012 at 12:23 pm

        Frank: Most excellent!

      • aFrankAngle

        December 25, 2012 at 12:50 pm

        I knew you would like that one … Merry Christmas!

  10. Hudson Howl

    December 28, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    I have never read this before, I must have just missed it when first posted, so it is as fresh as the snow which just fell yesterday. Sorry am late in commenting but I got WRAPPED UP running around (pun intended).

    One of the highlights of this Christmas season has been reading and being enlightened as to what the season means to people all over the world. But it seems your not alone with giving the gift of ‘noticing’. I have felt this with others I have read, but could not put my finger on the simple, correct and precise word that best describes it. You did. To become a ‘noticer’. We all wish we could fix what is broken, to shine beacons on those who need to feel the warmth of kindness. To reach out and take notice. Thank you ‘E’ for this thoughtful gift of the reason for giving.

    As for the sink, I got that shirt a few Christmases back. It sucked at the time but in the end it was just a clogged sink and all the Who’s in Whoville rejoiced, laughed and had fun.

    All the best E. I’d be sad if I didn’t have you to read, to make me laugh and to make think.


    • etomczyk

      December 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Hudson! I just came back from listening to the MLK sermon on your site. It made my day. You are indeed a noticer and your comment: “We should be burying guns not our children” hit me right in the gut.

      You’re so right about the sink. In the scheme of things it was no big deal, although it did cost me a king’s ransom. Yikes!

      Thanks so much for your gracious, generous comments about my writing. I feel the same about you. Take care and happy 2013!


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