The Second Annual Post-Holiday Success Quiz

Last year, I tried to help all of those suffering from Unrealistic Holiday Expectation Syndrome (UHES) by offering a different perspective on what constitutes a successful holiday season (http://bigsheepcommunications.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/the-post-holiday-success-quiz/). Let’s face it, if you expect your holiday gathering to turn out like the happy ending of a Hallmark channel Christmas special, you WILL be disappointed.

If the holidays have left you feeling disappointed, depressed, deflated, perhaps you just need to recalibrate your measure of success. Here’s this year’s Post-Holiday Success Quiz:

1. No one gave you an atrociously ugly Christmas sweater like one of these that you felt compelled to wear, to your complete humiliation, out in public at a holiday party.

2. While your family gathering had all the usual snide comments, snarky teasing, back-handed compliments and my-kids-are-better-than-your-kids competition, the nastiness stopped short of fisticuffs and the evening did not end with anyone taking a trip to the county jail.

3. If you traveled by air to see your loved ones over the holidays, you did not have your freshly baked cupcakes confiscated by the TSA nor did you end up on a flight with Alec Baldwin.

4. You wisely ate before going to Aunt Belinda’s house for dinner, knowing from past experience that no surface in her home is off limits to her many cats.

5. You remembered to glance in the ladies’ room mirror and untuck the back of your dress from your underpants before heading back out to the festivities at your company’s Christmas party.

6. Santa Claus did not have an anaphylactic reaction to the peanut butter cookies you left out for him, therefore sparing you from forever being known as the family who killed Santa.

7. The over-the-top light display that your next door neighbor created did not cause a transformer to blow, allowing you to enjoy the holidays with electricity (even though those lights kept you up all night).

If you checked off 3 or more of the items above, congratulations, your holiday was a success!  If not, OMG, I’m so very sorry and you have every right to be upset.

 

 

Merry Ho Ho and All that Crap

It’s probably no surprise that some of my friends share my sarcastic view of the world, which occasionally borders on mega-grinchness (that’s G-R-I-N-C-H, not to be confused with G-I-N-G-R-I-C-H).

I’m pleased to honor the holiday wish of my good friend, Mollye, who sent me this email:

“I really enjoy your posts… will you please do a really snarky one on Christmas music.  The scenario: doctor’s office — television on (with sound), Christmas music blasting,  people talking, phones ringing. I felt like I was in a nut house. And they wondered why my blood pressure was so high! This granny was ready to head to the parking lot to get run over by a reindeer. So Merry ho ho and all that crap!”

Christmas music is often joyful, but as Mollye so eloquently described, in the wrong setting or played incessantly for weeks on end, it can also be potentially dangerous.

Mollye, I’m thankful that reindeer are hard to find in Louisiana and I hope by now your blood pressure has returned to normal. Please feel free to pursue a healthy outlet for your holiday frustrations, like finding a giant inflated Santa and punching the living daylights out of him* or hurling fruitcakes as far as you can throw them.**

To Mollye and all my friends and family, I wish you a very Merry Ho Ho and all that crap!

 

*Not to be done in front of children.

**Not to be done in populated areas.

Drop the What?

The lovely state of  North Carolina, where we’ve made our home for the past 4 ½ years, is renowned for many things – beautiful beaches, the Blue Ridge Mountains, Research Triangle Park, world-class universities – but there’s still much I have to learn about it.

So, I’m thankful to PETA for bringing to light a New Year’s Eve tradition from one NC town that I had not heard about before. In a rural western NC town, where there is no Times  Square and therefore no fancy ball to drop to ring in the new year, the locals have another tradition. It seems they drop a live opossum in some sort of transparent container to mark the new year. PETA, of course, is incensed at this act of critter cruelty and is demanding that it be stopped.

Locals insist that they do not “drop” the opossum, rather, it is gently lowered to the ground and that no harm comes to it. Further, they point out that this is a non-alcoholic family friendly event – a good time for all.

Personally, I think the whole thing is a bit of a stretch. First, it seems a little much to call this cruelty, though I imagine the opossum finds the whole event supremely embarrassing and that it must endure quite a bit of teasing from the other opossums. “Duuude, you got dropped man! You shoulda seen the look on your face…” Really, is this any worse than when people dress up their dogs for Halloween or other holidays? (If you’re trying reindeer antlers on your dog right now, I’m talking to you.)

I find it an even bigger stretch to believe that this is a sober event. Surely, no sober individual sat around watching TV years ago as Dick Clark counted down to the big New Year’s Eve ball drop and said, “hey Earl, let’s go out back and get us an opossum to put in a box and drop it to the ground next year.” No, the whole idea has more than a subtle hint of moonshine to it, don’t you think?

As for me, I’m not planning to drop anything from anywhere on New Year’s Eve, except for my head onto my pillow at about 10:00 p.m. You?

Grab Your Wand and Follow Me (again)!

One of my very favorite bloggers, Carla Shepherd Sims, reminded us all today that it’s okay to say no to holiday expectations that do nothing but weigh us down http://randombraincells.com/2011/12/13/oh-no-ho-ho/ (seriously, read this, you’ll be glad you did). Carla, I took your message to heart and decided to skip the holiday cards this year. Why? While I like receiving cards from people, writing them feels like an obligation and a big fat waste of time, not to mention postage.

Along with Carla’s blog post, I received a newsletter from one of my very favorite non-profits, One Simple Wish, which allows anyone to go online and grant a wish to a child in foster care. It seemed logical to take the time and money I would normally waste on buying, writing and sending out cards and use it instead to grant a wish. More importantly, granting a wish doesn’t feel obligatory – it feels powerful and joyful.

Sooo, I’m going to repost this piece I wrote about One Simple Wish earlier this year and then I’m going to mosey on over and grant a wish because I want to.

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We all know that Cinderella and the Prince lived happily ever after, but there’s so much more to the story. You probably run into the Wicked Stepsisters every once in a while when you have to get your driver’s license renewed – they work at your local DMV. It was a little harder to track down what became of the Wicked Stepmother, but I’ve learned that she’ll be featured in the upcoming reality series “The Real Retirees of Boca Raton,” where we’ll see her in action, complaining about golf carts speeding through the streets of the Sunset Hills retirement community, the temperature in the community pool, the noisy grandkids visiting her neighbors, and a host of other riveting issues.

What about the Fairy Godmother? In my opinion, she was the pivotal character and got very little credit for what she did. *Poof * a beautiful dress. * Poof * glass slippers, though why she chose glass, I’ll never understand. Must’ve been really uncomfortable on the dance floor, though perhaps the idea was that Cinderella would remember to leave by midnight because her feet would be killing her. *Poof* pumpkin becomes a carriage. *Poof* mice become horses. While it’s true that her magic was only temporary, it changed the course of Cinderella’s life for ever after.

In the aftermath of all that happily ever after, Fairy Godmother was inundated with wishes from around the world and she’s been working her wand off to grant as many as she can. The workload has gotten so tremendous that for the first time, Fairy Godmother is recruiting new fairy godmother trainees. I understand that if her efforts are successful, she’ll get to drive around granting wishes from an all-expense-paid sparkly silver Cadillac.

Okay, so this is where you come in. Grab your wand and follow me over to www.OneSimpleWish.org. It’s a magical place where anyone can be a Fairy Godmother (or Godfather, as the case may be) and grant a wish to a child in foster care, a child aging out of the foster care system, or a family in need. These are not extravagant wishes for true love, a trip around the world, or a Beverly Hills mansion. Theses are wishes for things like a haircut, karate lessons, a laptop for college, tickets to a movie, sheets and towels, a storage box to hold personal items. For as little as one dollar, you can do what Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother did – grant a simple wish that may change the course of a child’s life for ever after.

Your wand is at the repair shop? Don’t worry, wishes can be granted with credit cards too. If you’re unable to grant a wish right now, please help spread the word about One Simple Wish by posting a link wherever you hang out online. If you do grant a wish, please let us know so that we can enter you into a drawing for a stunning one-of-a-kind pointy fairy godmother hat.

Finally, if you’re moved to do even more for kids in foster care, please read my post 699,999 and consider volunteering as an advocate for a child in foster care.

Shopping with Mom

The Setting

Sunday afternoon, 2 weeks before Christmas, Junior Department at local mall

The Cast

Determined Mom wearing red turtleneck, Christmas sweater, holiday-inspired earrings, searching through the sale rack.

Teenage Daughter, holding fake computerized baby as required to pass Teen Living class at school (thereby avoiding summer school), along with diaper bag, cell phone planted firmly against ear, intermittently talking to a friend or perhaps just to herself, and wandering aimlessly as far away from DM as possible.

Innocent Bystander

Action

Teenage Daughter: I like the brown one.

Determined Mom: Brown? No, red, it’s Christmas.

Teenage Daughter: I don’t like red.

Determined Mom: It’s CHRISTMAS.

Teenage Daughter: Well I don’t wear eggs when it’s Easter.

(Innocent Bystander quickly turns back to DM and TD and struggles not to burst out laughing. Innocent Bystander is happy that TD does not have to wear eggs at Easter and happy that the baby TD is holding is not the real thing. TD should be thankful DM is not making her wear THIS sweater!)

The end.

Wanted: VP of Futility

In honor of my brother’s birthday tomorrow, I thought it was fitting to re-run a post that he inspired me to write last year.  I had only just launched The Big Sheep Blog, so unless you are one of the 7 people who were subscribed at the time, this should be new for you.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANDREW!

 

Recently I emailed my brother to wish him a happy birthday. His response: “‘Happy’ is such a complicated word, isn’t it?”  I suppose the word “happy” is straightforward enough, but as for the state of being happy, that’s another story. Our national obsession with being happy and our collective perception that some people exist in a perpetual state of happiness that has somehow eluded the rest of us, keeps tens of thousands of therapists booked months in advance (except for Fridays, when they are forbidden to schedule appointments).

What if we were all happy just about all the time?  Then what?  Is that really what matters?

Please join me in stepping off the hamster wheel to happiness. Honestly, aren’t there plenty of things that matter more, like feeling valued and appreciated; feeling that your existence contributes something positive to the world, however big or small that contribution may be; having a passion for something; easing someone else’s burden; and learning, always learning? If  we’re lucky, life will be punctuated with fleeting moments of joy – joy that cannot be engineered or orchestrated no matter how hard we try.

For those who disagree with my assessment of happiness, I hear that the Sisyphus Corporation is looking for VP of Futility (must be physically fit with 5+ years experience pushing heavy objects up steep hills).