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‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS 2015

A cynical poem, ripped off, truncated, and bastardized (as only this blogger can do) from the illustrious Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”—first published in 1823.

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xmas-stockings

Photo Credit:  Eleanor Tomczyk

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Earth

 Every mortal was trembling, fearing another ISIS curse.

 The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

 in hopes that St. Nick would make it past any terrorist scare.

ISIS vs Santa Marian Kemensky Slovakia

Cartoon used by permission: Marian Kemensky, Slovakia/Cagle Cartoons 

 The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

 while visions of a major toy haul danced in their heads.

Advertising for Santa David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star/Cagle Cartoons

 My man snoring like a freight train, and me staring at the stars,

 had just settled our brains—dreaming of the coming movie premiere of Star Wars.

Star Wars John Darkow Columbia Daily Tribune Missouri

Cartoon used by permission: John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri/Cagle

 When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

 I sprang from my bed to see what the fuck was the matter.

 Away to the window I flew like a flash,

 Pulled open the blinds, and gasped at the crash!

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

 gave the lustre of midday to objects below,

 when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

 but an Amazon drone entangled with eight tiny reindeer.

Amazon Drone Santa Crash Marian Kemensky Slovakia

Cartoon used by permission:  Marian Kemensky, Slovakia/Cagle

 With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

 I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

 More rapid than eagles, his security team they came,

As he whistled and shouted and called his reindeer by name:

Santa Security David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star/Cagle

 “Now Dasher! Now Dancer!

 Now, Prancer and Vixen!

 On, Comet! On, Cupid!

 On, Donner and Blitzen!

 To the top of the porch!

 To the top of the wall!

 Now dash away! Dash away!

 Dash away all!”

Santa Crashes Pierre Ballouhey

Used by permission: Pierre Ballouhey, France/Cagle Cartoons

 And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

 the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

 I pulled out my Glock pistol as I surveyed the ground,

 while down the chimney Santa came with a bound.

 He startled me—this man all dressed in fur, from his head to his foot,

 Was this really Santa all tarnished with ashes and soot?

 Only one large box had he stuffed in his sack,

Not copious gifts I thought would be in his pack.

santa

Santa Wallpaper/Google

 I freaked out! I admit it! This white man had scared me!

 (Officer:  “I was standing my ground—trying to protect my family!”)

  Plus where was my fur coat, my coach bag, my Samsung telly?

SC’s body shook as he screamed in surprise, when I shot him in the belly.

Homeowner shoots

Cartoon used by permission: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune/Cagle

 He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

He moaned when I screamed: “I’M SORRY!” in spite of myself.

 “I didn’t know you were Santa, I truly lost my head

But may I ask what you brought me before I declare your ass dead?”

Peace on Earth II Taylor Jones El Nuevo Dia Puerto Rico

Cartoon used by permission: Taylor Jones, El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico/Cagle

 “PEACE—LITTLE MOFO,” groaned the jolly ol’ man.

 “It’s what you’ve been asking for, it’s all part of the plan.

 The Babe in the manger, love, peace, and forgiveness in repose,”

 You know, Christ the Son—who lived, who died, and on the third day arose.”

Peace on Earth III Rick McKee The Augusta Chronicle

Cartoon used by permission: Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle/Cagle

 Santa sprang to his sleigh while to my knees I did fall,

 “I’m getting’ to old for this shit, he said to them all.”

 But I heard him with grace exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

Only Begotten Son Rick McKee The Augusta Chronicle

Cartoon used by permission: Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle/Cagle

“Happy Christmas you poor, pathetic, confused humans, and to all a good night!”

christmas-house

Photo Credit:  Eleanor Tomczyk

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE TOMCZYK HOUSEHOLD TO YOU AND YOURS

Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me, you, and every human being on Earth in 2016!”

***

 (This is my Christmas card to all my readers.  I’ll be taking a break until the New Year to spend time with my family who are arriving from here, there, and everywhere.  Not to mention my precious grandson who I can hardly wait to smother with hugs and kisses.  It will be great to step away from all the bad news for a season (I’m sure it will still be here when I return) and concentrate on what is most important in life—family.  Merry Christmas everyone, and wishing you a very peaceful New Year!

***

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR?  Check out www.eleanortomczyk.com

WANT TO READ THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOKS?  Monsters’ Throwdown and Fleeing Oz are both on sale at Amazon (hardcopy and Kindle).

Peace for Christmas David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

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.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on December 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS

Do you know what I discovered this week?   Something all-encompassing and creepy this way comes!  But before I go into detail, I need to tell you about the new leaf that I’ve turned over in retirement.   It is a personal growth triumph.  No longer am I the anal, A-type, project driven, perfectionist of my youth.  I am living one day at a time—stopping to smell the roses—bending down to pick the daisies, even if I can’t get up again.  I don’t worry about tomorrow—I live for today.  If I do say so myself, I am killing this “mindfulness” thing in my old age!  Every morning, I repeat this mantra from an article on “Mindfulness” from Psychology Today:

I, Eleanor Tomczyk, recognize that “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

Yeah, Baby!  I AM LIVING LARGE AND IN THE MOMENT.  So on November 4th, two days after the state-wide elections and four days after Halloween, I was in my car singing a song of the moment in my best Nat King Cole voice (“The falling leaves drift by the window, the autumn leaves of red and gold…ba-ba-ba-baaaaa”), when I turned on my radio to stream in other Autumnal tunes and almost ran off the road.  From my pimped-out mini-van, 16-speaker-stereo, my local radio station ripped my tranquility to kingdom come when the Randy Brooks song from Hell screeched from every orifice of my vehicle:

“GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER/WALKING HOME FROM OUR HOUSE, CHRISTMAS EVE/YOU CAN SAY THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SANTA/BUT AS FOR ME AND GRANDPA, WE BELIEVE…”

Christmas Music in Nov Rick McKee The Augusta Chronicle

Cartoon Used by Permission: Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle/Cagle Cartoons

“NOOOOOOOOOO,” I screamed in horror!  “What the hell is going on?  I still have 6,764 candy bars that I never managed to disperse on Halloween—which I’m in danger of going into a diabetic shock over if I don’t get rid of soon—and you’re trying to tell me that Santa Claus has been sighted running over grandmothers already!  The leaves have not yet all fallen from the trees.”  At that very moment, a DJ broke into the tail-end of the song to let the listening audience know that he and his cohorts would be playing Christmas music 24/7 until December 25th.  “Merry Christmas y’all, and you’re welcome!”

Christmas at Halloween Bob Englehart The Hartford Courant

Cartoon Used by Permission: Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant/Cagle Cartoons

As I checked out the windows of all the stores in my area, they all sported some type of Christmas sale advertisements or giant Christmas trees in front of their buildings (Trader Joes, you know who you are).  When I slowed to a crawl in front of Michaels, there were scores of women rushing out of the craft store as if glue guns and Christmas wreaths were being given away for free.  Each woman carried an average of four giant bags which overflowed with Christmas crap and one women had two artificial Christmas trees—one under each arm.  All the women already looked like they were stressed to the hilt and wouldn’t hesitate to cut a bitch if she got in the way of their 25% off Christmas accoutrement and their car.

Just like that—all my inner peace was gone.  Forget autumn leaves, screw Thanksgiving—what was going to happen to my ability to replenish my Christmas crap (all the old stuff got thrown out when we moved) if I waited until after Thanksgiving as previously planned?  There would be nothing left to buy because Christmas had started on the fourth of November, and all these Mad Hatter grandmothers where buying up all the good shit.  But if I got caught up in this holiday creep, I’d be selling my soul and my mindfulness—my newfound Zen state of living in the moment—all of it would be flushed down the toilet.  I needed help—someone who could put a stop to this madness.  I pulled my car over right then and there and dialed: 1-800-IdamanSC.

ME:        Hello?  Is this the headquarters of Santa Claus?  May I speak to him please?  This is the blogger, ET.  He’ll take my call—he owes me.

After sitting on hold for what seemed like an eternity marked by sixteen iterations of the Christmas ditty, “Here Comes Santa Claus” in the background, the man himself came on the line.

SC:         Well, as I live and breathe, it’s that little rascal, ET.  Have you been behaving yourself?  If I remember correctly, “naughty” was more your MO than “nice.”

Santa I Meme

ME:        Don’t mess with me old man.  You know I ain’t never believed in you, and you know why.

SC:         I’ve told you over and over why I never made it to your neighborhood when you were a tot.  Those were different times back then, and I’ve been trying to make it up to you ever since.  Even Santa Inc. had some racist overtones in the 1950s, which I feel bad about now.  I was blind, but now I see.  Besides, don’t you live a damn fine life now?

ME:        Nothing to do with you fat bastard.  My good life has everything to do with the glory of the birth of the King who you’ve been trying to overshadow since Jump Street.  Speaking of overshadowing:  it ain’t enough that your commercialism has completely engulfed the true meaning of Christmas, but now you’re waging war on Halloween and Thanksgiving?

SC:         It’s not me—I swear!  The competition is fierce and the attention-span of you people is very short.  My subsidiaries—the merchandizers—tell me that we need to start earlier and earlier in order to grab your attention so that they can get you into the stores to spend money.  If they don’t make the shareholders more and more money, the jig is up for them.  You know that. There’s talk that we may start blanketing the Western World with red and green sale signs as early as August next year.

Christmas take over Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

Cartoon Used by Permission: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune/Cagle Cartoons

ME:        Have you no shame?  When did you get to be so callous? Oh wait a minute; you were always like that.  No poor Black child ever saw your fat ass come down our chimney.

SC:         Hey, now.  Let’s not make this a race thing.  In all fairness, I never slid down any poor kid’s chimney.   Think about it.  As to this new push on the Christmas creep, don’t put all the blame on me. Due to the fierce competition for the Benjamins, you Americans now have Mother’s Day creep and Fourth of July creep.  Everybody’s doing it.

ME:        So if everybody ran off the edge of a cliff with their reindeer in tow, you’d do the same?

SC:         What I’m trying to say is if people didn’t buy the stuff—if you all ignored the manipulation of the advertisers and the merchandizers—and lived in the moment, they’d all have to go back to their board rooms with their tails between their legs, and I could do Christmas within the proper timeframe.  Hell, I might even be able to push it way back to December 1st or the like.  Wouldn’t that be something? But I’m just a victim of my times, Kiddo—just as I was in your day when White Santa never made it to the Black ghetto.

ME:        You’re pathetic.  I’ve always hoped you’d turn out to be so much more.  I need you to fight the powers that be.  If not, then who?

SC:         You!

ME:        Me?   I’m only one voice raging against the machine—the God of Consumerism.  If that “god” has its way, Christmas sales will start so far back, no one will be able to tell where Christmas actually begins and the sales end.  We are doomed, I tell you—doomed to always living out of the moment in the “way too soon” timeframe!

Christmas too soon FB David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Cartoon Used by Permission:  David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star/Cagle Cartoons

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THE AUTHOR’S “SELAH” (“AHA”) MOMENT ABOUT CHRISTMAS CREEP

I am discovering that I get why people other than merchandizers want to start the Christmas holidays sooner than later.  Cynicism would claim it is all about the deal, but I think it is something deeper—much deeper.  As winter rapidly approaches, reminding us all that death is inescapable, the imagined warmth and charm of the Christmas holidays seem to push back the melancholy of shortened days and cold, gloomy nights—in spirit and in body.  I once knew a woman who was so into Christmas that she shopped for it all year round.  She would place so many presents under the tree that the over-abundance gave the innocent observer opulence indigestion.  One Christmas Eve, her youngest adult son tried to commit suicide right in front of his family, but his older brother—the woman’s first born—wrestled the knife out of his brother’s hand and stopped the horrid deed.  On Christmas Day, with hundreds of Christmas packages overflowing from under the tree, up the stairs, and into the dining room, the morose family gathered for breakfast—all except for the mother.  No one mentioned the attempted suicide and no one spoke of the stretch marks of pain that had coursed across the family Xmas psyche for years.  Suddenly, bells were heard ringing from the stairwell like the grotesque chimes of a zombie chapel, and the Santa-clad mother—replete with white beard, red suit with a stuffed pillow for the belly, and fur-trimmed Santa hat, cried out:  “MERRY CHRISTMAS MY WONDERFUL FAMILY—MERRY CHRISTMAS TO US ALL!”

It is easier to hide behind the image of the false feelings that Christmas represents and lose ourselves in the busyness of it all then it is to actually deal with the pain of winter within our borders that we call home as well as those warring global borders beyond.  If a family has dealt with its issues all along the way—in the living moment of today—then Christmas will mean all the joy and love that we hope it to be.  So in my new found spirit of “mindfulness,” let me encourage you all:  let’s just get through Thanksgiving without killing each other, and maybe—just maybe—Christmas might be outstanding in its time.

KEEP FOR CHRISTMAS Parker Florida Today

Cartoon Used by Permission:  Parker, Florida Today/Cagle Cartoons

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INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES ON MINDFULNESS

“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.”—Nhat Hanh

 “Mindfulness helps us freeze the frame so that we can become aware of our sensations and experiences as they are, without the distorting coloration of socially conditioned responses or habitual reactions.”—Henepola Gunaratana

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”—Norman Vincent Peale

“Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.”—Dave Barry

 

QUOTES FROM www.goodreads.com

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR?  Check out www.eleanortomczyk.com

WANT TO READ THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOKS?  Monsters’ Throwdown and Fleeing Oz are both on sale at Amazon (Hardcopy and Kindle).

Grinch Meme

REFERENCES

http://www.msn.com/en-us/tv/news/honey-boo-boo-and-mama-june-shannon-returning-to-tv/ar-BBmNHyr?ocid=spartandhp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_creep

http://time.com/money/4094829/christmas-holiday-shopping-season-creep/

http://time.com/money/4033652/early-christmas-shopping-deals/

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/09/15/It-Too-Early-Shop-Christmas-Millions-Americans-Have-Already-Begun

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.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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SANDY CLAWS (An Adult Xmas Tale)

Do you know what I discovered a long time ago? I don’t believe in Santa—never did as far as I can tell because he never came to my piss-poor neighborhood on Christmas Eve. He was such a foreign entity that for years I misspoke his name and thought it was “Sandy Claws.” The first time I ran into a rather inebriated, raggedy white Santa was at an orphan charity event in an enormous warehouse with hundreds of other foster kids, and even though I asked for a father Sandy Claws gave me a used handbag. Of course, there was a good chance that most of the kids in that warehouse were asking for the same thing, and Santa might have run out of fathers by the time he got to me. Just sayin’—to be fair.

Santa Loves Rich Kids More Meme

I never taught my children to believe in Santa Claus. First of all, we lived in Israel the first few years of their lives, and it seemed an unnecessary burden to saddle little kids with the concept of a fictional character laden with presents, who would come to our house but didn’t bother going to the houses of our Israeli neighbors. Besides, my kids were already shouldering the burden of believing in Jesus—the Son of God—born to a virgin and a carpenter just a few miles south of their home town. Also, my husband and I had worked our asses off for the gifts we gave them and felt the hero worship should flow back to their very caring and loving parents who were sacrificing on a daily basis to give them a wonderful life.

Consequently, my only grandson doesn’t believe in Santa Claus because my daughters chose to follow my lead. But his grandfather, my husband (WW), believed in SC until he was twelve years old. (For my Johnny-come-lately readers, my husband is white and grew up in a very white, very middle-class, and very Norman Rockwell household and neighborhood. Santa was practically a god in their home, and he went to every house in the town except for the poor black children and the Jews—at first. But then many of the Jews in the town, who were very wealthy, got pressured by their kids to add a Christmas tree during Chanukah and introduce Santa along with the menorah (much to the chagrin of the local rabbi), so that they could keep up with the Goyim. The poor little black kids in the town, on the other hand, didn’t have parents with enough money to get a nod from white Santa, soooo “bupkis mit kuduchas” which is Yiddish for “shivering shit balls!”) When my husband accidentally found out that Santa didn’t exist, he had already exorcised the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny from his heart, and God got the boot shortly afterwards. His twelve-year-old theory was “if the parents lied to me about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny, why should I believe them about God?” Good point.

Santa Disappoints Bizarro

Cartoon by Dan Piraro: www.bizarro.com

My six-year-old grandson didn’t need to be told there wasn’t a Santa. He figured it out almost from the beginning of his travels on Earth and has been taking his requests to the Big Guy ever since. Because all of his prayers to date have been answered except for one (can’t share his one unanswered prayer—he asked me to keep it confidential), Little Dude is quite confident in his knowledge and faith of God. (One Christmas, when he was five years old, he stuck a declarative Post-it note on my refrigerator like Martin Luther did on the Wittenberg Door which read: “I love Gob.” I didn’t bother to point out his backward “d” and he didn’t bother to tell me why he wrote the note and posted it on my refrigerator. It’s still there to help me through my bouts of daily doubts.)

Me-Maw’s boy thinks it’s a very cool concept that God found a way to infuse the Earth with his presence by slipping in incognito as a baby through a mommy named Mary. Unlike it does to most adults, this makes perfectly good sense to Little Dude, because mommies are just about the coolest things on Earth (“except when they take things much too seriously,” as he has been heard to pontificate on occasion). And if you asked him why Jesus decided to introduce himself to the Earth in such an inauspicious way as a baby, he’d probably answer: “Why not?”

God Come Down to Earth Bill Day Cagle Cartoons

Cartoon Used by Permission: Bill Day, Cagle Cartoons

Quite recently my grandson revealed his thought process as to the gift-giving system he is sure that God has set up between Himself and mankind. Ever since Little Dude was a baby he has traveled underground on the subway, above ground on the bus, or occasionally taken taxis to his various destinations. It soon became apparent to him that taxis were the preferred method of getting from point A to point B, especially after getting stuck at eye level in a sea of adult asses—barely able to breathe—squishing him during rush hour as he waited for the next train to pull into the station. He hated the subway with a passion and would throw a hissy fit every time he had to descend the underground stairway. His final outcry to God to send his family a car had to have been when he ran face first into a subway tunnel pole (almost knocking him out cold) while trying to keep up with his mom as they ran to catch the train home from school.

Fast forward six months after Little Dude’s “kissing-the-subway-pole incident,” and my grandson can be seen comfortably perched in the car seat/backseat of his new family car that he has made no bones about letting people know he asked God for. He is languidly sipping from a strawberry/banana juice box, snacking on chicken nuggets, and reading his latest National Geographic Kids Magazine (did I forget to mention that he’s brilliant?).  His mommy breaks his concentration by uttering a “soto voce” prayer that is often heard on the lips of city drivers: “Oh God, please give me a parking space.”  She has been driving around and around for twenty minutes in NYC trying to find a place that is within at least a half-mile of their apartment. (As most city dwellers know, getting a decent parking place can mean the difference between only having to carry several bags of groceries and your child a few yards to your home or getting towed and spending a king’s ransom to retrieve your car.) But as my daughter reiterates her frustrated plea to the God of the Universe a little bit louder and more urgently, Little Dude decides to set the record straight as to how God answers human prayer requests for gifts:

“That’s not how God works, Mom. He’s not gonna answer that prayer.

He’ll give you a car, but he won’t find you a parking space.

You’re pretty much on your own with that one.”

Christmas Wish White Priviledge David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Cartoon Used by Permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

When Little Dude comes for Christmas maybe we’ll have a chat about his assurance of God and his lack of belief in Santa—“out of the mouths of babes” and all. I’m fascinated by his childlike faith. As an old fart, mine is a bit jaded. I get why he doesn’t believe in Santa—what can a fat ol’ white man in a red suit do to answer my primary Christmas request that no amount of money can buy: Peace on Earth?  I need a real source of power, but God doesn’t seem to be responding yet, no matter how hard I pray. Can’t He see we’re not getting any better, no matter how much technically smarter we become?

I will tell my grandson that my faith is strong as to the “why” of God’s great reveal through the Baby Jesus: hope.  (If one strips away all of the horrid Christian misrepresentations through the years of who Jesus is and whom he loves (all-powerful and loves everybody)—the poor, the disenfranchised, the lonely, the broken, the misunderstood, the battered, the abused, the raped—both men and women alike, the hope that the baby born in a manger brought and brings to Earth is revolutionary. What I am most hurt over and where my faith is wavering is regarding peace on Earth: peace in Ferguson, peace in the Middle East, peace amongst the races, peace among the nations of the Earth, peace for women enslaved in backward countries, and peace in individual households. Peace—that is the Christmas gift I want God to give to the Earth this holiday season. Maybe my grandson will say that God won’t answer that prayer because he gave us the Earth as a gift, but we’ll have to work out peace between each other on our own.

Christmas Peace in Ferguson Bob Englehart The Hartford Courant

Cartoon Used by Permission: Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant

*

I am discovering that I am going to take a break from blogging until the New Year in order to spend some splendid time with my family (and my delightful grandson) who are coming from far and near following the “star” called home. We shall spend time together cherishing one another, eating and drinking too much, playing games, seeing theatrical shows, going to museums, and exchanging copious gifts. We’ll sing Christmas carols starting with my favorite: “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” But the greatest gift that we will give each other this Christmas that Jesus gave to the entire world is love.

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!

From the Tomczyk household to you and yours.

Peace on Earth IV  Parker Florida Today

Cartoon Used by Permission: Jeff Parker, Florida Today

“I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark.”—Dick Gregory

“No matter what, I always make it home for Christmas. I love to go to my Tennessee Mountain Home and invite all of my nieces and nephews and their spouses and kids and do what we all like to do – eat, laugh, trade presents and just enjoy each other… and sometimes I even dress up like Santa Claus!”—Dolly Parton

“We have domesticated God’s transcendence. We often learn about God at about the same time as we are learning about Santa Claus; but our ideas about Santa Claus change, mature and become more nuanced, whereas our ideas of God can remain at a rather infantile level.”Karen Armstrong

“I ain’t here to argue about his facial features. Or here to convert atheists into believers. I’m just trying to say the way school need teachers, the way Kathie Lee needed Regis, that’s the way I need Jesus.”—Kanye West

“God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world: peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the Earth.”—Pope Benedict XVI

ALL QUOTES ARE FROM http://www.brainyquote.com

Reason for the Season Cardow The Ottawa Citizen

Cartoon Used by Permission: Cardow, The Ottawa Citizen

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WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR? CHECK OUT www.eleanortomczyk.com

WANT TO GIVE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY A GREAT BOOK ABOUT HOPE FOR CHRISTMAS? BUY MONTERS’ THROWDOWN AT AMAZON NOW!

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.

 

 
32 Comments

Posted by on December 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Santa Baby: Do You Feel What I Feel?

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  I have issues with Santa—have had them ever since I became cognizant of his existence.  In fact, I hate him!  As I was editing my first Christmas remembrance in my book, Monsters’ Throwdown (due to be released next week just in time for Christmas), it brought back painful memories of my attempts to get white Santa’s attention to stop by my poorer-than-dirt ghetto house and leave me a present or two as a poor-black-child.  I wrote letters, I said prayers, and I set out cookies and milk, but still no Santa (now that I am an adult, I have a strong suspicion that the rats who were as big as cats ate Santa’s snacks).  Once I started encountering Jews and discovered they got no visits from Santa either—whether they had been good as could be or not—I knew that fat white dude in the red suit made us all feel pretty much like pond scum by not showing up with presents for us.

Santa Sign David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Used by permission:  David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

As I got older, I realized Santa’s lack of shimmying down certain chimneys had more to do with economic inequality on my part and religious preference in the lives of my Jewish neighbors; although later I would discover that a few of my Jewish friends had Christmas trees along with their Menorahs, and Santa had made a deal with their parents to drop by on Christmas Eve just like he did at the homes of some of the Christians.  Talk about having one’s mind blown.

I pretty much forgot about the likes of Santa until I had my own children.  We moved to Israel when my older child was two months old and our younger child was born there.  I was having enough trouble helping them understand the difference between Israel’s “Kippi Ben Kippod” from “Rechov Sumsum (an Israeli coproduction of Sesame Street)” and America’s Big Bird from Sesame Street. Teaching my children about a Santa who didn’t bring the other neighborhood children presents wasn’t worth it.  Plus, it never occurred to me to teach them about the fantasy of Santa given my history with the dude, although our neighbors did help us find a fir tree from a kibbutz in Galilee so that we would feel more at home on Christmas Day since they knew it was a religious holiday for us.   By American standards, it was probably one of the ugliest trees one could possibly imagine—decorated with strings of popcorn, cranberries, and ringlets of colored paper.  But to us it was magnificent because it was provided by our Israeli neighbors who all came down to our apartment to “ooh and ah” at it.  All of my neighbors went out of their way to wish us “Merry Christmas” and we wished them Happy Chanukah at the appropriate time during all the years I lived there.  (Did I ever mention how my Israeli neighbors were the salt of the Earth and always made me feel very welcomed as an ex-pat?)

***

Then one year we came back to the States for Christmas vacation and my older child was sitting on my mother-in-law’s lap while her grandmother was reading my child a story about Santa Claus.  “Who is this?” asked my mother-in-law as she pointed to a picture of Santa.  The more my baby looked at the picture in total confusion, the angrier my mother-in-law became in demanding a definitive Santa recognition.   Finally, my three-year-old broke out into a heartbroken sob out of fear and confusion because she felt she was making her grandmother, whom she was seeing for the first time, very angry about her failure to identify a fat man in a red suit with an enormous beard.  As I ran to rescue my baby from this stupid emotional quagmire, my mother-in-law turned beet-red and went ballistic:  “I CAN’T EVEN BEGIN TO FIND THE WORDS TO TELL YOU HOW MUCH THIS DISTURBS ME THAT YOU’VE NOT TAUGHT THIS CHILD ABOUT SANTA CLAUS!”  As I ran from the room cradling my frightened baby, I shouted:  “Ask her who Pippi Ben Kippod is—then maybe she’ll pass your stupid fantasy-man test.”  When we returned to my beloved Israel, I got an envelope from my mother-in-law containing only an Ann Lander’s column titled:  “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!”  (Did I ever tell you that I suspect my mother-in-law always hated me, and her words had the ability to make people feel like crap—no matter what the age?)

Santa Judgmental

My grandson (the child of the daughter that my now dead MIL terrorized about the recognition of Santa), went to see Santa the other day.  Apparently, it did not go well.  He refused to sit on the dude’s lap and pretty much lost it when he was coerced into coming within 20 feet of the fat man in the red suit.  Later that evening during our phone call, I asked him why he didn’t want to get next to Santa and tell him what he wanted for Christmas.  My five-year-old grandson astutely said:  “I didn’t like him—I didn’t like the way he made me feel—he made me feel all waggy and crunchy inside.  Anyway, Santa don’t bring me presents, Mommy, Daddy, Mama-Mama, Mema, and Grandpa brings me presents on Christmas!”  (Did I ever tell you that children have the ability to make us feel very clear-headed by their assessment of life, if we carefully listen?)  I’m sure my mother-in-law was turning over in her grave when she heard him say what he did about dear ol’ St. Nick.

As I was pondering whether the dislike of Santa could be passed down through a person’s DNA, I heard about three news stories concerning words:

Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin Uncovering War on Christmas—“Americans saying happy holiday tantamount to disowning Jesus—ram Merry Christmas down their throats in the name of Jesus!”

Pope Francis releases his “The Joy of the Gospel” and chastises the world “not to forsake the poor”—his words are challenging and riveting

Nelson Mandela dies at 95—his collective words and actions humble us and make us want to do better with our lives

Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin’s caustic words (they both have criticized our new Pope for being a socialist and a Marxist) made me feel all “waggy and crunchy” inside and made me want to cry, but the words by Pope Francis and the legacy of words left behind by Nelson Mandela made me feel so good, that all I could do was go out into the street and wish everyone I saw, “Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, and Merry Christmas with all my heart!”  When I saw the joy in the eyes of the people I had greeted, I knew that I had touched them with the true spirit of Christmas, and I felt really good, because I could tell I had made them feel good with my generosity of heart as well.

Pope Nativity Scene Steve Sack The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Used by permission:  Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

I am discovering that Maya Angelou was correct: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

***

“I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark.”—Dick Gregory

“Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don’t, who will?”Jon Bon Jovi

“Our family was too strange and weird for even Santa Claus to come visit… Santa, who was jolly – but, let’s face it, he was also very judgmental.”—Julia Sweeney

“You know, in a way, ‘Dear Santa Claus’ is rather stuffy… Perhaps something a little more intimate would be better… Something just a shade more friendly….How about ‘Dear Fatty’?”Charles M. Schulz, The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 5: 1959-1960

***

IN REMEMBRANCE OF MADIBA

Your heart of forgiveness, your words of grace, and your brotherly love will be greatly missed.  You made us all feel that we could live better lives if we tried.

Mandela Meme

RIP NELSON MANDELA

1918-2013

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.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on December 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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SANTA HATES ME DEUX

(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 www.backgroundpictures.org

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 esquire.com

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

Amazon.com

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?”

badsweater

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 Google.com

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.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS IF THAT DOESN’T JINGLE YOUR BELLS!

Santa and the Schmidt house toilette dash humor dot com

Toilette-humor.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.

 
20 Comments

Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Santahatesme Support Group

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  Even though it has been over sixty years 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 (God rest her soul—I think?) that passive-aggressively declared to any and all who were watching:  “I’m smiling on the outside that I have a new daughter-in-law, but I am pissed as hell on the inside that she is fucking black—why me, God?”

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 she deigned to  speak to us, most of her gifts went straight from the postman’s hands into the bin for the poor because they were usually so awful (anything pulled off the triple-clearance rack to check our names off her list would satisfy her).   But there is 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.”

(Google Image) 

SANTA’S SUPPORT GROUP

Google Image 

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.  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.  Santa is not guilty.  But I do feel your pain because last year one of my peeps gave me a gift certificate to Weight Watchers along with a Gillette razor.   Hello!  Obviously, they didn’t know me.  Can we all say together:  ‘Don’t mess with the tummy and the beard—facial hair and fat equal job security?’  Having said that, I understand that there are some real grievances amongst you and being the good guy that I am, I thought I’d let you get them off your chest.

“Hum, how about “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 social media page.”

The Blogger:  “Thanks Santa.  Hi everyone, my name is Eleanor and I’m a weird-gift survivor.  I’ve been without the urge to kill my gift giver for three years now.  Praise God.”

The Group:  “Hi Eleanor—welcome to ‘Santahatesme support group!’”

The Blogger:  “Thank you for a safe place to come and try to get healing from these horrible memories.  Let’s see:  My downhill spiral started the third year of my marriage when my sister-in-law gave my mother-in-law a silk flower arrangement she had had especially made by an artist friend of hers for me.  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 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:

Goggle Image

“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.   I am extremely allergic to dust so the entire floral arrangement set of a chain of hysterical sneezing and itching that caused me to break out in a horrid round of hives that kept me laid up through Christmas.  Well, you can imagine the hurt and the confusion, Santa.  What signal was my sis-n-law sending?  What had I done to her?  How would I ever be able to build a relationship with her after such a hateful gift?”

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:  “I did nothing.  I was new to the family—I wanted to fit in, yada, yada, yada.  I felt if my sister-in-law could be that nasty, then why bother to engage her at all.  I thanked her for the “present” and went on with my life.  I had my man and he was the greatest gift that could come from them.

“But then, Santa, 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 asked her Mom in confused surprise:  ‘That’s just like the arrangement I sent to Eleanor—I can’t believe you had Flora’s Flowers make you one exactly like hers.  Mom, when did you get this and why didn’t you get a different one?’  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-n-law’s tag on something she’d had in the attic for years. She looked back at me and I could tell that she knew that I knew.  As my mother-in-law turned beet red and scurried off into the kitchen, I thought to myself:  keep your flowers bitch, I’ve got your son—game on.”

Google Image

Santa:  “Yikes, that one slipped by me!  It sounds like that was pretty rough on you, Eleanor.  I’m curious, did your mother-in-law like the gifts you gave her?”

The Blogger: “Never.  Nothing was ever good enough or up to her specifications. Anyway, I’ve long forgiven her and she has been dead quite a while now so the sting is gone.  Her ‘gift’ kept me from gaining a mother I never had and her from gaining a daughter who would have loved and adored her.  At her funeral, none of her kids spoke on behalf of her life—they remained silent and so did I (I guess I wasn’t the only one whose presents she had screwed over).   One of the reasons I started that write-in campaign to your Facebook page is because I wanted to help other families try and get healed from weird-gift syndrome before it was too late.  I figured you were just the dude who could help.”

Santa:  “Interesting…interesting.  Okay, let’s hear from some others then.  Since we’re doing bad mother-in-law gifts, why don’t we have ‘Angie from Peoria’ come on up.”

Angie:  “Hi everyone.  My name is Angie and I’m a weird-gift survivor.  I’ve been clean now for six months.”

The Group:  “Hi Angie, welcome to ‘Santahatesme!’”

Santa:  “Would you guys cut it out!  There are other names you can call this group.  Sheesh-Louise!”

Angie:  “When I was six months pregnant my husband’s fraternity brother gave me a “one in the oven” cookie-cutter gift set for Christmas.  I brought a picture to show you, but it is going to be hard for me to get through this without throwing up.  It’s called “Fetus cookies: a special gift for the mom to be.”

Google Image

The Support Group (screaming in unison):  “EEEYEUW!”

Santa (yells via PA system for janitorial service):  “Clean up—janitorial cleanup—left of the podium and all across the front row!  Okay, gang, while the janitor mops up this avalanche of today’s lunch, let us bring up a gift that is weird but not so gross, shall we?  I’ve got a year’s worth of cookies and milk in my body, and I just can’t take anything that gives me an upset stomach.”

90-year old black grandmother (angrily yells from the back row as she gesticulates with her cane):  “Then I guess I shouldn’t bring up my Christmas present of “his-and-her” vibrators given to me by my 95-year-old husband, huh?  You do know his randy-ass present idea was inspired by the gift of a year’s supply of Viagra that you gave 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.  Did you lose your ever-lovin’ mind, Santa Claus?  Just because these mens ask for stuff, don’t mean you has to answer.”

Santa:  “Sorry, Bernice!”

20-year old Rapper shouts from the audience (think Eminem): “Shit Santa, take a look at the Christmas gift from my granddaddy that is hanging behind you.  What the fuck, man?  This thing will destroy my rep, but I loves my pops, so I gotta hang it up!”

Amazon.com Image

Santa:  “Stop it—all of you!  Oh, for God’s sake (and I mean that literally)—it is His birthday.  Get ahold of yourselves.  Show a bit of decorum.  Now calm down and let’s bring up someone less inflammatory.  My list says that there should be a Jim (average dad) present.  Jim, are you here?’”

Jim:  “Yeah sure.  Hi everyone, my name is Jim and I’m a weird-gift survivor.  I’ve been clean for one year now.”

Santa:  “Welcome Jim what’s your weird-gift trauma?”

Jim:  “Santa, I have lived for my kids, and I’ve done so without complaint.  I worked three jobs to put them through college and they never lacked for anything.  They have all graduated and are now back in the house living off me and their mother because they can’t find a job; I get it, and I’m glad to help.  But, you would think that four kids could have found a gift more conducive to who and what I am; instead they gave me a gift that ‘Cleans your way to sculpted calves while you scoot along.’   Are you shittin’ me Santa?!”

Google Image

Santa:  “Actually, Jim, that is a gag gift created by ‘The Onion.’   It just shows your kids have a sense of humor.  Surely they gave you something else?”

Jim:  “No, but my wife knit me this sweater.  Do I kill myself now or after Christmas?”

Google Image

Santa:  “(Sigh) I’m beginning to see the picture and understand your pain—no wonder you’re pissed at me.  Lord Jesus, help us!  We have time for one more, although I can’t imagine much worse.  How about the couple in the back that registered as ‘Mr. and Mrs. 99%?’”

Mr. and Mrs. 99%:  “Hello, everyone.  We’re brand new to the weird-gift thing and we’re barely holding on.  We don’t know if we can overcome our hurt.  We’re confused and dazed and we are kind of wondering if there is a God because we’ve lost our homes, our jobs, our savings, our hope, and our trust in our government (especially the current Congress) and the financial institutions that bet against us not being able to pay our mortgages.  The other day, all the 99% got this present from The Tea Party, the Republican candidates, the Republican Congress, the college school loan institutions, and some (not all) of the 1%.  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.’  Santa, what are we to do?  When did we get to this time and place where the few can basically say to the many, ‘I’ve got mine, baby, if it sucks for you—get a job!’”

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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.  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’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 follow.

The Author

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

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If you live in the D.C. area, one of the best organizations I know that truly “notices” humanity is N Street Village.  Please check it out this Christmas if you have a moment:  http://www.nstreetvillage.org/

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All text and photos by Eleanor and John Tomczyk © 2011 , except where otherwise noted.

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.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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I’ll Be Home for Christmas

ELEANOR’S CHRISTMAS LETTER TO FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND BLOG FANS

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  No matter how hard I try, I don’t have anything original to say about Christmas.  I’ve almost worried myself into a heart attack this week trying to come up with something pithy to say in my 2011 Christmas letter.  I got nothing—bupkis!   It’s all been done.  After days of fretting, the only thing I can say is that my three favorite Christmas stories are A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation by John Hughes, and The Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd.  Put those three stories together (which I watch every year) and you’ll get my humorous take on all things Christmas.

I will tell you that in my 63 years of existence, my Christmases have been touched by horror and by deep pain, but they have also been graced with weird wonderment and joy, while being tangled up in multiple cords of three-twined commercialism, with massive bows of:  if the family portrait of what you think Christmas is supposed to be can go wrong, it will go wrong.  My first Christmas was my first memory in life (three years old), and it found me trying to rescue my one and only toy off the top of a frozen eviction pile heaped high outside a padlocked house in The Cleve, while my mother dissolved into her first wave of schizophrenia right before my eyes.  But that is the opening to my memoir (When Monsters Come Out to Play), so that Christmas story can’t be told here but hopefully will have the good fortune of being published next year.  Are you listening, Santa, Baby?

You can imagine since I met my husband (White and Wonderful) thirty-eight years ago, that I have tried to “live the Christmas dream” I never had when it came to creating a wonderful holiday for my children.  I always thought that if Christmas was great for the kids, then it would translate to our children all was right with the world.  Sometimes I hit the target right in the bull’s-eye, and sometimes I missed it by a mile.  Because as a family, you’ll never know who or what’s going to show up (or not show up) on any given Christmas, given the fine print on every family Christmas photo that says, “Have a Merry Christmas, but don’t forget when it comes to humans—all kinds of shit can hit the fan.”

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All of us have the illusion that the “heart” of our family Christmases should look like an 1800’s postcard which shows an adoring family, grateful for their modest gifts (no brats screaming in protest about the presents they didn’t get), wise and caring grandparents (not grumpy or cranky at all), and contentment with our lot in life, because we’ve only known good bounty from the hand of a loving God.  Even I have this Christmas illusion which is pretty pathetic because there are never any black people to be found in these “perfect” portraits.  Have you ever noticed that?

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If I were putting paint on canvas, my portrayal of Christmas would always be with warm colors, cordial people (including black and brown people all over the painting), loving smiles full of laughter and joy, and lots of good food and drink.  No one would ever get sick—no one would ever be short-tempered.  No family member would ever get Alzheimer’s, and no women would get breast cancer.  No planes would ever be late traveling home for Christmas, no toilets would ever overflow, no parents would ever argue, no teenagers would ever run away, no one would die on or near Christmas, no parent would lose his/her job, and no home would be foreclosed upon.  But the problem we all live with is that we all have weird relatives (and we’re just a little bit crazy ourselves), patchy histories, economic downturns, latent jealousies, death in our midst, and unresolved hurts.  So when we gather together for the holidays we sit down before the Christmas tree with a powder-keg of the crazies in a Griswold moose glass for our family Christmas toast.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation “Eggnog Moose Glass”/Google Image

Addams Family/Google Image

Some of us share Christmas with parents who love each other in a weird sort of way, but the kids are bat-shit crazy and borderline psychotic.  Of course, upon closer analysis of the extended family (uncle, grandmamma, and the butler), we see why the kids never had a chance to be sane and in reality should never be left alone with the uncle, grandmamma, or (god-forbid) Lurch, the butler.

The Griswolds (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation)/Google Image

Before the economic downturn, many of us had slightly upper middle-class families where the husband worked at some ball-crushing job just living for his year-end bonus that he managed to lose just before Christmas.  That bonus would have made everything “perfect” for his family—from award-winning holiday lights and tree—to the perfect roast, perfect gifts, and ultimate Christmas family portrait.  The only problem is that neither he nor his family is perfect, and no matter how upper-middle class you and I become, we’ll always have the type of relatives who join us for the holidays because we have money and they don’t, who proudly announce:  “Shitters full!”  They belong to us for a reason—they are God’s gift to keep us humble.

 

The Gallaghers in “Shameless”/Google Image

There are a few of us (maybe a lot more now since the emergence of the 99%) who grew up with the Gallaghers (of Showtime fame) as a family, and we are a mess as a family unit—“every six ways from Sunday.”  This was more my type of family base as a kid—only instead of alcohol being the co-parent, schizophrenia was.

 

Huxtable TV Family/Google Image

Most of us would like to be the Huxtable family—smart and beautiful—with a lawyer and doctor for parents who are just perfect with children.  The children are smart, respectful, and never, ever do drugs or walk on the wild side.  All their family crises can be solved in 30 minutes.  This is the exact type of family I tried to recreate with my own children once I became an adult (with an uber-Christian patina), given my ignoble beginnings (minus two of the kids and recasting Bill Cosby as a white man to match WW, of course).  But unlike the TV sitcom where the events are controlled by writers, “shit happens,” and reality really messes with the Huxtable image in a way no sitcom script could ever convey and still remain funny.

I am discovering that we all have the ability to have a couple of perfect Christmases, but “perfect” is not always our due.  With the DNA of our families, the sins we’ve committed against each other, and the devastation of living on Earth and what it can do to us, all we can do is dip ourselves in love and hope for the best when we cross the same threshold.  This year our family will come together in its total configuration, for the first time in a long time, and we are beyond ecstatic about this holiday because we know more than life itself, it is about us all being together—laughing, eating too much, cuddling, watching movies, cooking together, and sharing portions of the scary stories of our journeys that have made us the resilient family that we are.  But before anybody steps foot in my house (family, friend, or fan), I’m making all my guests read and observe the following Christmas vacation rules:

Leave your egos at the door

Come together with a servant’s heart willing to help each other

Share (just like in kindergarten)

Let go of your anger

Embrace each other with love and forgiveness

Repent for the wrongs you’ve done to one another

Flush the memories of the hurts done to you down the toilet

Don’t rehash the past (what is done is done and it can’t be undone)

Appreciate everything you receive as a present, even if you don’t wear hats or listen to country music

Listen (really listen with every fiber of your being) to each other’s stories, because they carry multiple secrets about our joys, our pain, our hopes, and our dreams

For the uber-religious in our midst—turn down the volume and listen (don’t, I say, DON’T go ballistic like you did that time over an Obama for President button pinned to a wig-head stand [to tell you the truth, I had forgotten it was there], assuming you knew what I was thinking).  Remember, “When you assume, you make an ass. . .”

No disparaging gay jokes or racial humor!

  Bring genuine hugs and kisses because that works for all genders and races. 

For the “I don’t believe in God”—unplug your ears and listen, you may learn something.

Say “I love you” in a sincere manner at least once to every family member and friend before you leave.

No politics allowed!

We all know what you feel about everything—we’ve seen your Facebook pages, remember.  We’re just going to come together as “family” and our only political platform is love.

Actually, I didn’t quite get it right at the beginning of this Christmas letter.  My favorite Christmas story which infuses all Christmas stories is the original one—the birth of my Messiah, whose name they called “Immanuel.”   Immanuel means, “God with us,” and it means to me the hope and healing needed to survive our families and the other families of man that don’t quite get it right when it comes to cherishing our hearts and our existence, our bodies, and our dreams.

Merry Christmas to you and to us all

And

May the love of God be with you and yours, today and everyday!

In any case, if you need me or want to get in touch, I’ll be home for Christmas.  Love, Eleanor

The Author

“A scientist said, making a plea for exchange scholarships between nations, ‘The very best way to send an idea is to wrap it up in a person.’ That was what happened at Christmas. The idea of divine love was wrapped up in a Person.” – Halford E. Luccock

All text and photos by Eleanor and John Tomczyk © 2011 , except where otherwise noted.

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.

 
45 Comments

Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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