It doesn’t get any better than this…

I always knew I had certain “tendencies” toward the doing of absolutely nothing. But nothing quite confirms that suspicion like a nice, long holiday break.

It has been exactly one week since I’ve been at the office and four days since I had any obligation of any kind. And it feels great.

There is a little part of me (notice I said little) that feels I MUST be doing something… I SHOULD be doing something. And yet, I don’t. I’m sure this enjoyment of doing nothing will eventually wear off.

Perhaps I will tire of staying up until 2 a.m.—laughing and imbibing with friends—then sleeping until 10:30 a.m., getting dressed at 4 p.m. and doing it all again. Perhaps not.

Either way, come Monday I will have to get up and get back into the game.

Until then… there is a perfectly good spot for me… on the couch.

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Coming Down From Christmas

Not surprisingly I had a migraine yesterday evening. My mom, who also suffers from them, calls certain types of migraines “rubber band headaches.” Not because it is descriptive of the pain one endures during the attack, but because—like a rubber band stretched to its limit—you eventually snap.

Often I experience one AFTER a stressful event has passed and my relaxation or “coming down” process has begun. So it was no shock to me when I began to feel an excruciating but all too familiar vice-grip sensation creeping across my forehead only hours after reaching Lee’s house and putting my feet up.

Now I suppose it could have been brought on by chocolate or tryptophan withdrawal or something like that… but I suspect it was due purely to the “ahhhhhhhhhh moment” that finally settled over me once the gifts had all been given, the wrappings had all been tossed, the leftovers had all been put away, the wedding plans or (in some opinions) lack thereof had been discussed to death and the good-byes had all been said.

Much-needed sweat pants were donned and are, I suppose, partially responsible for the incident. I believe some pillows and blankets also may have been involved. Though as of this writing… said suspects have yet to voluntarily come forth and reveal themselves.

What is it about Christmas that incites such frenzy, stress and hurriedness that my rubber band snapped following a mere flannel and fleece-induced exhale? I have some ideas… but I think I’ll save the contemplating, dissecting and sharing of them for Christmas 2012. Mulling them over right now… well… it just hurts my head.

My Own Private Christmas

This is the day I’ve been waiting for. Two days before Christmas. Christmas Eve Eve if you will. Today I sleep until the Lord wakes me (instead of the alarm clock) then curl up with a nice, warm, artery-clogging breakfast, a good cup of joe and a cheesy Christmas movie… and Stanley, the cat. Naturally.

In my pajamas, wrapped in a soft blanket, the tree is twinkling and all of the presents beneath are wrapped in pretty paper, each topped off with a nice red bow. There is no more shopping to do. No more worrying about what to get and for whom. If they don’t like it… well… it’s too late now.

There are no parties to rush to or concerts and services to attend, therefore the Spanx, control top panty hose and tall leather boots are quietly stashed away in their respective closets and drawers. There is no fuss about a pair of flannel pants and old, college sweatshirt. There is no need for makeup. No one needs me today. And it is a thing of beauty.

Tomorrow, on Christmas Eve—when the family gatherings and church services begin—well, that will be another story. Today is what I like to call “My Own Private Christmas” with my own sacred practices and traditions. It is the gift that I give to myself… a chance to take a deep breath… and an opportunity to reflect on all of the beautiful people and things that make my life so full.

Were it not for all of them filling up the other 364 days of the year… there would be no need for a day like today.

Mini-Resolutions for 2012

With Christmas right around the corner, one’s mind turns to that of the New Year. Now, I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions… probably because I believe that by actually declaring my plan aloud I am pretty much sealing the deal on whether or not I will succeed. And yes… you guessed it… my rate of success usually winds up being a big, fat ZERO. So why then, would I ever consider ADVERTISING my impending personal failure by confessing my “New Year’s Resolutions” to family, friends and co-workers?

Additionally, it has been said by a good many people that declaring a “New Year’s Resolution” isn’t a great idea anyway. This is often due to the fact that said “Resolution” is ultimately too lofty or too complicated for one to actually achieve. Therefore, as an alternative, it is advisable to set smaller, more attainable ”goals” for oneself.

With the idea of “smaller goals” in mind, I have decided to try something entirely new this year… I am hereby resolving to take a few teensy, tiny, baby-steps toward personal change. Some “Miniature Resolutions” if you will…

1. In the mornings, I hereby resolve to only hit the snooze button 2 times instead of 3. This should get me to work 6 minutes earlier each day, which would result in roughly 1,560 minutes or 26 hours annually that I do not feel rushed… hence significantly limiting my chances of receiving additional traffic tickets that I cannot pay or becoming a perpetrator of road rage and winding up in prison. Therefore: ONE LESS MORNING SNOOZE = ZERO JAIL TIME

2. For the remainder of winter, I hereby resolve to wearing snow boots (no matter how ridiculous I look in them) from my house to the office in order to keep from dragging my feet, socks and bottoms of my dress pants through the wet snow every time I leave for work, therefore eliminating the possibility of frostbite to my lower extremities, leading to inevitable amputation. Therefore: SNOW BOOTS = MAINTAINING THE ABILITY TO WALK UPRIGHT

3. During the workday, I hereby resolve to make the switch to decaf. This should enable me to still enjoy my morning cup of coffee but without completely and totally bouncing off the proverbial walls and acting overtly chipper toward any grumpy, hateful, definitely-not-morning-people-co-workers, thus causing them to cease asking me WHY I have so much freakin’ energy all the time… and possibly even preventing them from conspiring against me. Therefore: DECAF = AVOIDANCE OF OFFICE LYNCHING

4. Regarding my daily 3 p.m. ”Sugar Quest,” I hereby resolve to STOP eating snacks every afternoon whilst sitting at my desk. One snack can run up to roughly 200 calories, totaling 1000 calories weekly or 50,000 calories annually! One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. 50,000 divided by 3,500 equals approximately 14 pounds!! Therefore: ELIMINATING DAILY MUNCHIE-FEST = FITTING MY @$$ INTO A SMALLER PAIR OF JEANS WITHOUT THE USE OF A SHOEHORN

5. With reference to laundry, I hereby resolve to wash, fold and put away my clothing on a weekly basis rather than allowing it to pile up to the point where I cannot find a clean pair of socks or underwear ANYWHERE IN THE HOUSE, thus causing me to do an emergency wash at midnight, losing precious hours of sleep and arriving at any given destination damp, disheveled, wrinkled and cranky with a high probability of rockin’ mismatched socks. Therefore: KEEPING UP WITH THE LAUNDRY = ALWAYS APPEARING DRY, RESTED, WRINKLE-FREE AND WELL ACCESSORIZED

There is no need for a major, ritualistic, annual overhaul of one’s lifestyle or choices. I believe the above examples adequately illustrate the point that even the smallest of changes can quite often lead to BIG results!

By being committed to these 5 minor alterations, it is quite likely that I will indeed transform my entire life. If all goes according to plan, 2013 should find me absent of any sort of criminal record, able to use all TEN of my toes, sufficiently-caffeinated yet amazingly-rested, 14 pounds thinner, less stressed, pressed and well-dressed. Who can find fault with goals like that?

Elf on the Shelf

For as long as I can remember I have been afraid of clowns, puppets, marionettes, ventriloquist dummies and even claymation. I’m not sure why. Nothing traumatic happened when I was a child that caused this unusual phobia (that I know of). But nevertheless it is there. If I see any of those things on TV or out in the world… I freak out, avert my eyes or flee the scene as soon as possible. I am also unreasonably fearful of nutcrackers. I think they are the creepiest things on the planet next to spiders and Donald Trump. So as one might imagine, Christmas can be a little unsettling for me what with all those larger-than-life wooden figurines standing around the stores, people’s homes and showing up unannounced in Target commercials, etc, etc. just waiting to spring to life when everyone is asleep.

Enter “Elf on the Shelf”… created for parents to use as a “fun” tool to curb the naughty behavior of their offspring this time of year when the kiddos are running rampant all hopped up on candy canes and such.

To see the official “Elf on the Shelf” commercial, click here. 

The idea is that Santa has sent his very special, magical elf to the child’s house to watch their every move and report back each night when the children are asleep (you know, with the visions of the sugar plums and all that crap) to the North Pole whether the child has been naughty or nice. And every night the parents “move” the Elf to another location in the house so that the notion of him being real persists in the child’s imagination.

Is it just me (and my unnatural fear of inanimate-objects-come-to-life projected onto this “toy elf” sitting on a shelf in the house… watching your every move) or does this totally creep the hell out of anyone else? I mean, I shudder even as I type these words.

My friend Jan is using the “Elf” and has been kind enough to send me some pictures of him in her house. I will let you judge the creepiness-factor for yourself…

The "Elf" warming his little frostbitten buns on the toaster.

And while I happen to think that any toy of this nature could be considered cruel and unusual punishment for a child, apparently the kids don’t seem to mind it too much. Some of them actually enjoy it… like Brady, Jan’s son.

There is another breed of the “Elf on the Shelf” idea in a cuter, cuddlier character named Christopher Pop-in-kins. I learned of him when our marketing director, Gina, talked about her and her husband’s nightly adventures placing Christopher around the house. And yet, for every story she shared about the creative places Christopher had “popped up”… there was a hilarious story to match of her children, Dominick and Giavonna, being more than a little freaked about him and his magic, come-to-life abilities.

Christopher Pop-in-kins

To each his own, I suppose. I just know that had the “Elf on the Shelf” existed during my childhood years… I’d probably be on a therapy couch somewhere, muttering about magical elves… and obsessing over whether or not I’d been naughty or nice.

C'mon... this IS creepy, right?

Spanx: A True Holiday Miracle

I don’t know how they do it and I don’t care. It doesn’t matter how they manufacture something capable of shaving 5 to 10 pounds off of my “lumpy places” — just so long as they keep on doing it. Forever.

Packing a little extra luggage in the trunk is usually inevitable this time of year what with all the gathering, merry-making and drinking to drown out the sound of your annoying relatives as they get all up in yo’ biz.

But the question then comes—as you try to stuff that trunk full ‘o goodies into your favorite sweater dress or skinny black skirt—what the hell do you do with all of this stuff that’s accumulated about your butt, thighs and tummy?

Enter my holiday BFF: Spanx. Trust me, if you aren’t already a believer… drag your own larger-than-normal trunk to the store and pick up a pair. Or two. Or three. I promise they’re on sale right now.

PROBLEM.

SOLUTION.

It’s a bit of a trick and little bit of torture trying to get them on and off… but the results are so very worth it. Just imagine slamming all the cookies, chocolate, cheese, brandy, rum and yummy treats made with real butter and heavy cream that your heart desires and still looking stellar for the office Christmas party or New Year’s Eve bash.

As soon as they’re over you can go home and—after about 90 minutes of cursing as you wrestle your way out of your own private sausage casing—slip into the warm, forgiving embrace of your sweats… and no one will be the wiser.

The Last Gift

These tall, leather boots that look soooo great on and seemed like such a great and fashionable idea this morning… suck. My feet are killing me. My toes are numb and the balls of my feet are yelling curse words so loudly with each step that I take… I’m certain the kid stocking the shelves over there heard them call me a miserable whore.

But it’s OK, for I am almost done. There is but one item that remains on my list of gifts to buy for my near and dear ones this Christmas holiday. Being this close to the end somehow makes the pain worthwhile. Like the agony of the last few miles of a marathon I will push past it—vulgar feet stuffed into evil, leather boots and all—I can see the finish line.

This one item should be easy. It seems to be all the rage and everyone is talking about it. It’s been spotted at several stores. Thus it stands to reason that this particular purchase… my last purchase (did I mention that?) should be a relative retail breeze.

Ahhhh… more wrong I could not have been.

The item that everyone is talking about that seems to be one of the “IT” gifts of the 2011 shopping season… also seems to be the ONE thing that no one, and I MEAN NO ONE has ever even heard of. And I’m not talking about little, small-town, Mom and Pop village merchants peddling their wares to worn out Christmas zombies.

I’m talking about the Big Boys. The Big Box stores. The Gods of Greed… the Royalty of Retail… The Princes of Peddlers and Kings of Ka-Ching. You know, the ones who are supposed to have their sticky, little fingers on the pulse of every shopper?

Well, for some reason as this exhausted customer drug her potty-mouthed tooties from one shitty parking spot to another, fighting holiday gridlock the whole entire way… I was greeted with the same answer everywhere I went. It went a little something like this:

Me: “Excuse me, do you have any ____________?”

Oh, I should mention that I am purposefully NOT mentioning the gift until after it is given a week from now lest the recipient read this entry and either A. Feel badly that they are NOT receiving this “must have” item from their list, or B. Feel even worse that I had such a terrible time trying unsuccessfully to find the damn thing.

Big Box employee: “Any what? I’ve never heard of that. Let me check with management / some guy named Larry / this clueless-looking girl standing right beside me.”

Me: Silence accompanied by nearly-defeated-shoulder-slumping, followed by a huge sigh, followed by a prayer, followed by some hopeful breath-holding.

My feet: “You @!$%#. If you make us stand here or go to ONE MORE store after this, I swear by tomorrow morning I WILL TAKE YOU DOWN. And when you recover, you’ll be wearing flats until February. Do you hear me?”

Big Box employee: “I’m sorry. We don’t carry __________. We’ve actually never heard of that. Maybe XYZ Big Box Store will have them. Happy Holidays!”

Me AND my feet: “Already tried there, dumb @$$. Now shove it.”

But I was determined (as well as held hostage by my vital and angry appendages) that this store would be the last stop on our retail mission. The person on my list wanting ______________ would have to settle for Plan B. And that was all there was too it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Last-Minute Shopping everyone! My two bits of advice on locating that elusive last gift on your list: Have a back-up plan… and by all means… wear comfortable shoes.